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Honey Cake

18 Sep

Tipsy Honey Cake

Rosh Hashana means honey cake.  To start the new year off with a sweet bite, traditionally we serve and eat honey itself or items made with honey. In my family, we’ve always made a version of this boozy honey cake.  The finished cake doesn’t taste overly alcoholic, but it does add to the overall flavour of the cake.

What a list of ingredients! It’s long, but easy to put together and produces a moist and flavorful honey cake.  My favorite honey to use for baking is buckwheat. It has a stronger flavour that holds up to the other flavours in the recipe.  Having said that, over the last few years I’ve found it impossible to find buckwheat honey and have made it with several other types (most typically, clover honey) and it’s still delicious.

The cake recipes also calls for what we call ‘rye’ up here, but I’ve been told in the US is often known as “Canadian whiskey” or “rye whisky”.  You can use rye, whisky or rum.

honey cake 3

2 ¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup tea, brewed — strong and hot
1 cup honey
1/2 cup Canadian rye (whiskey)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil (or other light flavoured oil)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice and ginger. I like to use a whisk to combine all of these ingredients.

In another bowl, combine the hot tea, honey, rye and orange juice.

Using either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the oil and white and brown sugars. Add the eggs, mixing them in one at a time. Add the vanilla and orange zest.

Add one third of the liquid and mix on low speed. Add one third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat until all of the wet and dry ingredients have been incorporated.

Pour into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil and lightly floured. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the cake starts to brown too quickly, loosely tent a piece of aluminum foil over the cake for the rest of the baking time.  Let cool completely and then turn the pan over and carefully unmold the cake onto a serving plate. Typically, the bottom of a bundt becomes the top when you take it out of the pan, but I really like the way the ‘bottom’ of this cake comes out and always keep it on the top when plating.

Wrapped well, the cake can stay on the counter for a couple of days.  Freezes beautifully.

Honey Cake 2

 

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Quick and Delicious (and easy!) Apple Strudel

9 Sep

Quick and Delicious Apple Strudel

I like a crisp, slightly tart apple for baking — a Pink Lady or Granny Smith would be my choice.  I love the addition of pecans for the flavour and the texture they add, but they are completely optional.  For Rosh Hashana, many people have the minhag (custom) of not eating nuts and the pecans can be left out and the strudel will still be delicious!

I use oil to keep the strudel parve, but if you want to replace it with melted butter, that would work beautifully.

Serves: 12

  •   2       lbs. Fuji apples — peeled, cored and grated (about 6 apples)
  •   1/3    cup raisins, seedless
  •  1/3    cup chopped pecans — *optional
  •  5       Tbsp. sugar, divided
  •  3       tsp. cinnamon, divided
  •   3       Tbsp. flour
  •   10     sheets of filo dough
  •   3       Tbsp. canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare the filling by shredding the apples into a mixing bowl.  If they are very juicy, squeeze out any excess liquid.  Add the raisins, pecans if using, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, flour and nutmeg and mix well.  Set aside.

Lay out one sheet of filo dough and lightly brush with oil.  Mix together 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon and lightly sprinkle the filo with some of this cinnamon/sugar mix.  Repeat with another 4 sheets of filo, oiling and sugaring all but the last sheet.

Arrange half of the apple filling in a row along the longer side of the filo – keeping it about 1″ from each edge.  Roll the strudel up, keeping the filling against the edge as tightly as possible.  Give the excess dough on each end of the roll a twist and tuck the dough under the roll. Place the strudel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush it with oil.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar and use a sharp knife to cut diagonal slits every inch or so – just cut through the dough on the top of the roll, allowing steam to escape while it bakes.

Repeat with the rest of the filo and apple filling.

Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes – until the strudel is golden brown.  Allow to cool, slice all the way through and serve.

apple strudel

 

Buttermilk Cheese Kugel

4 Sep

The High Holidays are fast approaching and it seems everybody I know is in menu-planning mode.  A good cheese kugel is great for lunch during Rosh Hashana or for breaking the fast on Yom Kippur.

I know a lot of recipes call for some sugar, but I prefer to leave it out of cheese kugels — leave it for the apple or other fruit versions.  I like my cheese kugel to have a little tang and will either add sour cream, or in this case, buttermilk to the recipe.  The topping is optional, and it is delicious without it, but perhaps just a little more delicious with it.

Serve with extra sour cream on the side or if you must have a little sweetness, some sliced strawberries in syrup.

buttermilk kugel 2

 

Buttermilk Cheese Kugel

375 grams egg noodles — wide

5 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
375 grams dry curd cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Optional Topping
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
pinch salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook the noodles following the instructions on the package. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, salt and cottage cheese. Pour this mixture onto the noodles and stir to thoroughly mix.

Lightly butter a 2 quart (liter)  casserole and pour the noodle mixture into the pan.

If you choose to add the optional topping, mix all of the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture on top of the noodles.

Bake the kugel in a preheated 375º oven for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the kugel has set.

 

 

Rosh Hashana Recipes (step-by-step demos)

14 Aug

It’s that time of year again — if you have some time, here’s a link to my step-by-step demo (on eGullet.org) for making meat kreplach:http://forums.egullet.org/topic/89669-egci-demo-meat-kreplach/

And here’s my demo on knishes (with stretch-dough):
http://forums.egullet.org/topic/81940-egci-demo-knishes/

And, finally, here’s a demo for chicken soup:
http://forums.egullet.org/topic/89668-egci-demo-chicken-soup/

All of these freeze well, so they can be made now and tucked away for the holidays. (Freeze the kreplach once cooked, but the knishes should be frozen raw, then baked from frozen, not thawed.)

Shana tova u’metukah!

13 Sep

I’d like to wish everybody a happy, healthy, delicious and sweet new year!  Shana tova u’metukah!

Mushroom & Onion Kugel

25 Aug

Though traditionally we eat sweet foods for Rosh Hashana, it wouldn’t make sense to make every dish sweet.  You may be preparing a sweet sauce for your chicken (we often serve Apricot Honey Chicken), tzimmes, a simple honey-glazed carrot dish or many other sweet dishes.  If that’s the case, let me suggest serving a Mushroom & Onion Kugel as a side.

Some people look down on the humble button mushroom, but I love them.  Paired with onions, salt, pepper and egg noodles they make a delicious savoury kugel.  You don’t have to stick to the button — I often use crimini or a combination of the two.  I’ve also been known to throw in portabello when the mood strikes.  Use any combination of mushrooms you like to make this easy recipe.  And for me, the crispier the golden brown noodles on top of the kugel the better!
By the way, cooled completely and wraped well, this freezes beautifully.


Mushroom and Onion Kugel
Serves: 8

This simple recipe was passed down from my grandmother, to my mother and then to me (with just a couple of small tweaks).  It’s still one of my favorite items on the holiday table.

12        oz.  egg noodles — wide
1          large  yellow onion — peeled and roughly chopped
  3          Tbsp.  olive oil
1 1/2    lbs.  mushrooms — assorted, sliced
1/4″ thick
1          tsp. salt — plus more to taste
1/4       tsp.  black pepper
3          Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3          large  eggs

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain well and pour the noodles back into the pot or into a large mixing bowl.

In a large skillet over medium-high, sauté the onions in olive oil for 8-10 minutes, or until they are soft and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and continue to cook until all of the mushrooms are cooked through and have released some of their juices.  This should take another 8-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and their juices to the noodles and mix thoroughly.

Taste the noodle/mushroom mixture to check for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if necessary.  When you’re happy with the flavour, allow it to cool for a few minutes.  Then add the flour and eggs, mixing well.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9″x13″ baking pan and bake at 375 for 55-60 minutes, until the top has turned a dark, golden brown and the kugel has firmed up.  Serve!

Crumble-Topped Apple Kugel

17 Aug

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember eating apple kugel (or other sweet kugels) for Rosh Hashana when I was growing up. (We did, however, always have a sweet kugel during passover made with matzo meal, dried fruit and an apricot glaze.)  Perhaps because our family often had chicken with a sweet, fruity glaze, we avoided sweet sides.  But for many people, sweet sides are traditional.

The custom is to eat sweet foods for the New Year to symbolize our hopes of a sweet year. Many of us will dip pieces of challah or apple slices into honey, prepare sweet main or side dishes and end the meal with honey cake.

Apples:  I prefer a crisp, tart apple like a Pink Lady, Fuji or Macintosh, but use any apple you like.


Crumble-Topped Apple Kugel
SERVES: 12

3/4     lb. broad egg noodles

1/2     cup  raisins, seedless
1/2     cup  orange juice
4        large  eggs
1/4     cup  sugar
2        Tbsp. flour
1 1/2  tsp. salt
1 1/2  tsp. cinnamon
1        tsp. allspice — *optional
1        tsp. vanilla
1/4     cup  butter or margarine — melted
4 to 6 medium  apples — peeled, cored and diced (4 cups diced)

Topping
3       Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4    cup  flour
1/4    cup  brown sugar
1/2    tsp. cinnamon
1/4    cup  quick cooking oats
1/8    tsp. salt

Prepare the noodles following package directions.  Drain well and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the raisins and the orange juice.  Microwave for 30 seconds and set aside to cool. This helps the raisins absorb some of the juice and plumps them up.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, cinammon, allspice, vanilla and melted butter or margarine.   Add the cooled noodles, raisins, orange juice and apples.  Mix everything together and pour into a well greased 9″x13″ baking dish.

In another small mixing bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients.  Use your fingers to incorporate the fat into the dry ingredients, forming a crumbly mixture.  Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the noodles and bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Starting to think about Rosh Hashana (and meat kreplach)

12 Aug

It’s been a hectic summer and though it feels like summer just started, we’re less than a month away from Rosh Hashana.  It’s hard to believe and I’m sorry if I’m making you think about something you’re not ready for.  The good news is that there’s still plenty of time to prepare goodies for the holidays.  

 
One of the things I love for Rosh Hashana (or erev Yom Kippur) is a steaming bowl of chicken soup with home made meat kreplach.  The silky dough surrounding the oniony meat filling is my favourite soup accompaniment. 

 
When I was growing up, my grandmother always made kreplach for the holidays and when my parents started our catering company, meat kreplach were always offered for Rosh Hashana. It’s true that some time and work is involved in making them, but they really are quite easy to make and wonderful to have in the freezer.
 
A few years ago I put together a step-by-step kreplach demo (with pictures) for eGullet.org.  You can find the demo here. I  hope you try making them and enjoy them during the holidays (or anytime!).
 
 

 

Running out of time . . .

25 Aug

I’ve been working frantically to finish recipe testing. I’m at the point where I think I’m done with new recipes — though if something strikes me, I’ll have to give it a try. Now I’m going through my files and re-testing recipes I’ve developed over the last 3-4 years.

It’s interesting to see what I was doing back then. A couple of recipes were eliminated immediately after reading, a few were eliminated after trying. A few of them were gems. But even some of the gems needed a little tweaking and they all need good editing. I just spent an hour going through all of the recipes I tagged “Passover” and I have 30-35 recipes to cook through over then next couple of weeks.

The rush is because Rosh Hashanah will be here soon. I know most people won’t give it much thought for a couple of weeks, but I’ve got to be ahead of the game. My real job involves a lot of sourcing and ordering for our store. I spend hours going through product lists, on the internet looking for suppliers and on the phone trying to find out what is or isn’t available.

This year, for instance, I’ve been having a hard time finding Israeli honey. None of the kosher food suppliers that I use have any on their lists. It’s not imperative that the honey be from Israel, but I like to have a selection of honeys available and the Israel part is a nice bonus. (An assortment of honeys is a nice gift to take if you’re going to dinner for R.H.) So it took 2 days, but I think I found a source – not a food supplier but a Judaica company.

It’s not just about the honey. I spend a lot of time working on meat orders with my dad (he’s our meat department), guessing how many briskets and turkeys (and chickens and lamb, etc) we’ll sell out of the store and how many we’ll need for the prepared food part of the business. Then we need to put together an order form for prepared foods and somebody had to do an ad for the newspaper. And finally, I make sure the store is stocked with all of the essentials our customers might need for the holiday (kasha, noodles for kugel, yortzeit and Shabbat candles, etc).

So that’s all taken care of. Our first big order arrived late Friday and now we spend a couple of weeks getting more orders in and taking orders from customers. Before you know it, we’ll all have to be in the store helping customers and in the kitchen prepping food.

And that’s where the urgency is coming from. For the book to be ready to print in January, the recipes should be finished before Rosh Hashana. By finished, I mean tested and typed (hopefully). There will still be a lot to do after the recipes are done, so I’m giving myself a RH deadline. Besides, it’s kind of nice to think that the testing work will be done by the new year. The question is, will it?