We are linking to KosherBlog "since", as Shifra says, "we're not ENEMIES or anything hehe".

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Shabbos Hannukah- winter vegetable soup, ptcha-inspired potato kugel, and chicken in wine sauce

I've been blogging my Shabbat menus (and much other random stuff) on my personal blog since I started it about 3 years ago, but I only started making Shabbat when I moved out to the 'Heights last year. As one who enjoys cooking and serving food to J-bloggers and other people, I heartily applaud the idea of this blog and am honored to be included. Here's what I (in addition to whole wheat challah, which I might post later on) made for Shabbos Dinner this week...

Chicken in Wine Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 F. Take defrosted or fresh chicken bottom quarters. This cut takes the best to roasting, I think, and can survive hours on the blech if your shabbos guests come late. Arrange them in your baking pan and squirt a dab of dijon mustard on each. Smooth it over the chicken, as if you were putting on sunscreen. Now you can get creative with this, but I scatter some capers and caper juice and then some dried rosemary over it all, then some healthy lashings of last weeks qiddush wine- I usually have about half a bottle left from last week so I guess I use about a quarter of a bottle, which is probably a scant cup for you measurement freaks out there. Bake it untill the juice runs clear when you jab a knife ito the fattest part of the thigh. Take that, chicken!

Winter Vegetable Soup
So I had some leftover frozen beef broth- about 2 quarts worth- sitting in my freezer and ever since I found out about this great Hassidish minhag to have lima beans in chicken soup by the Shabbos Tisch I'd been curious about using lima beans in soup. So I concocted a Winter Vegetable Soup of epic proportions. I peeled and cut into rough chunks- 1 turnip, 1 parsnip, 3 carrots, 1 sweet potato, 1 white potato, the center of a celery head and added them to the defrosted broth along with a frozen package of lima beans. I may have thrown in a garlic clove, and another few cups of water. I let this simmer sloowly... from about 9 to about 3, so my guess is you could even do this in a crock pot for a totally non-cholenty cholent alternative. It was beyond yumalicious.

Ptcha-Inspired Potato Kugel
After Chakira told me how much he loves Ptcha, I decided to replicate the delicate (ha ha!) balance of garlicy, salty, peppery, and paprika-y flavors in the famed Satmar edition of "garlic jello" in a much more palatable potato-kugel form. After all, everyone loves potato kugel! So I took about 4 large russet potatoes and peeled them, then grated them with my trusty box grater, then squeezed out the starchy potato-water into the sink, which does wonders for the texture of the finished kugel, and latkes too as any latke-maven (including my bubby) will tell you. Then, instead of adding my characteristic carmelized onions, I grated in 3 large garlic cloves, then added a generous pinch of salt, a few heavy shakes of pepper, and a dash or two of paprika. i then cracked in two eggs and mixed the whole mush together with my fingers, then poked dots in the top and poured olive oil (this was Shabbos Hannuka, after all!) all over the top and finished it with some purely decorative paprika. Bake at 350, done when golden and crispy on top and no longer any hint of jigglyness. Note: NEVER serve partially cooked kugel, as you can food-poison your guests. It has happened to me, people, and its not pretty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Challah - no big deal

I bake challah whenever I can and people make such a fuss you'd think that it was the cooking equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. It's really not difficult at all, you may need to practice once or twice to get the hang of it but once you do it's fun and easy and cheap! You don't even need any special equipment.

This is my Bubby's famous recipe with some modernisha additions added in italics by yours truly. The amounts listed here will make about 2 good sized challos which I consider a waste of time. I usually make 7X this recipe in a huge bowl and freeze the extra challos until I need them (they still taste great). For the first time out though you might want to try it as written or doubled so you can get the feel of it without being overwhelmed.

Cooking Sheet
Large Bowl
Clean Dishtowel
Baking Parchment Paper (you can find this near the tin foil and plastic wrap at the market.)

1 cup lukewarm water
3-4 cups of flour (bread flour is the best, you can also use whole wheat in a 50-50 split with regular or bread flour- yum!)
2 Eggs
1 packet of active dry yeast (you can use rapid rise if you like)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp of salt

Optional - raisins, diced onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds

Add 3 cups of flour, salt, and sugar to large bowl and mix well.

Heat water to lukewarm - What is lukewarm you ask? Well if it's warm enough to take a comfortable bath in, it's too hot - if it's room temperature it's too cool. It's very important not to overheat the water or you will kill the yeast. If it's too cool the yeast won't work either so this is a key step.

Add yeast to water and mix well, let this mixture rest for at least one minute.

Create a hole (or well) in the middle of the flour mixture- add the oil, ONE egg, and the water/yeast solution into the well and begin kneading the dough together with your hands. DO NOT USE THE MIXER. No matter how much you paid for your fancy-shmancy mixer with the dough hook attachment it will not come out as well as if you do it by hand- plus it's good for your nerves according to my Bubby.

If the dough feels very sticky you can add a bit more flour.

Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel and put it in a warm safe place to rise. All things being equal this should take about an hour- this is a good time to start the laundry.
When the dough is double in size punch it down and give it a good kneading again. If you want to add raisins now is the time.

Spread a little flour on the parchment paper (which you should cut to fit your baking sheet) and shape the dough into whatever shapes you desire. Arrange your challos on the baking sheet leaving space between them as they will rise.
Beat an egg and brush the challos with it - now you can sprinkle on the seeds, or onion if you like - I like mine plain. Allow the challos to rise again for about an hour (go fold the laundry) and then put them into a preheated 350 degree oven until they are golden brown (baking time depends on the size of the challos and the calibration of your oven - it's about 15 minutes for rolls and 35 for challos but that's a very rough estimate.

To serve:
Challah is delicious at room temperature but I like to wrap them up in foil and stick them in a warm over right before shabbos so they are nice and warm on Friday night.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Shnei Zeisem

This original recipe was handwritten in the back of a much-used pfille bearing the name of an Alsatian Jew, Reb Yekef Bondi, whose grandchildren fled from the Nazis to Britain, where they anglicised their name to Bond.1

Recipe for a Shnei Zeisem2

Fill a small plate with icing sugar.3
Moisten the rim of a chilled cocktail glass4 with an orange wedge and turn the glass into the plate. Leave space for your lips.

Fill in the equivalent of two kezeisem of Kirsch (room temperature).

Add two dashes of Martini Rosso.5 Not more.

Add two dashes of Angostura.

Stirring is fine, or if you insist on shaking - go ahead.

No cocktail flags or other unthinkables of this kind.

In the original Shnei zeisem, there were olives added as well, but bevôneseinerabbm, the tradition was lost exactly how many are two kezeisem of olives, and also which sort Chaza"l commanded, Greek, Italian, or the ones with the paprika paste. The followers of the Karliner actually claim they found out, but they really take cherries and process them until they're green.

Some poskem say this is fine even if they're not the right olives, but others name a second reason why we don't do this today, namely because the last person who knew the tradition terribly got the hiccups from one of those olives, went meshugge and wasn't able to pass on the tradition. Unfortunately, this was the same man who knew how to dye tzitzes and had real smiche.

A variation may be found here.


1. In case anyone still didn't get it. (back to text)

2. Shnei zeisem is the name of a piyyut said on Shabbes Chanucke. The name means "two olive( tree)s", and the paytan also alluded to the fact that in Alsace, it often snows at Chanucke. In this latter meaning, it is stressed on the first word. (See also here for a further proof.) (back to text)

3. Americans: That's powdered, or, confectioner's sugar. (back to text)

4. Not a Martini glass. (back to text)

5. You can take Askalon Vermouth Rosso as well, if you don't have kosher Martini at hand, but don't say I didn't warn you. (back to text)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Polenta in soup or cholent

Shifra asks (heh!):

How does polenta hold up in cholent anyway, does it stay together or

just thicken up the whole stew?

Both. Some of the polenta falls apart, and makes the stew thicker, but lots of chunks, which haven't fallen apart, remain as discernable chunks.

I have only been using polenta in soups and cholents for the past few weeks. I used to sautee it, but for the longest time, they haven't been carrying polenta at KMP (Kosher MarketPlace). A few weeks ago, they started carrying it again, and something possessed me to put it into a soup. It worked!

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