Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Grown Up Chocolate Cake
Preheat your oven to 350
Take a 9x13 pan, I used a foil disposible. Measure these ingredients into it.
1.5 cups all purpose (or whole wheat) flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Stir these together with your finger tips. When it looks evenly combined (no lumps of flour or cocoa), poke three "wells" in the powder with your finger. Pour one of these into each hole
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil (i also have used non-extra virgin-olive oil out of necessity and it came out fine).
The pour a cup of water over it all and mix really well with a spatula or spoon. Add walnuts or something if you want. Pop it in the oven for about half an hour to 45 minutes- its done when a knife stuck into the center of the pan comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs on it.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Take a bar of your best premium pareve or DE chocolate. I used a combination of Scharffenberfer Gianduja and Scharffenberger 62% Semisweet. Either grate it (not reccomended on a dry day as finely grated chocolate can pick up a static charge and fly all over the room when you move the grater) or chunk it up- or just use chocolate chips. Place in a microwave safe bowl with a drizzle of water and nuke in thirty second intervals untill the chocolate is softened- dont let it burn though- and stir it together untill its smooth and frostinglike. Pour it onto the cake and frost! Garnish as desired.
Cooking for the Freezer
To make things easier on myself I try to cook some foods in advance (often in large batches) and stick them in the freezer for those weeks when things are just too crazy.
Here's what you need to know:
Unreliable Freezer = Unreliable Results
Is your freezer older than your mom?! Freezing won't work in a freezer that cannot maintain a consistant temperature. Here's a test. Does your ice cream come out of the freezer full of those nasty ice crystals? That's a sign of melting and refreezing - unless you've been leaving your Ben and Jerry's out on the table too long before refreezing, do not attempt to use your freezer for this kind of storage.
Trapped Air = Freezer Burn
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am the queen of the ziplock bags. I buy them in all sizes.
They are wonderful because you can put the food inside, squeeze out the extra air and seal. Keeps things fresh and delicious.
For more liquid or heavier items I used air tight plastic storage containers.
Leaving things unwrapped or loosely wrapped in foil or plastic wrap is a bad bad idea.
Once you have frozen a dish and thawed it, don't put it back in the freezer- the magic only works once.
You can however freeze raw meat or chicken, defrost and cook it, and then freeze the cooked version.
So what kind of foods can be frozen in advance without becoming soggy, freezer burned, and generally unedible?
Here are some guidelines:
Baking - Most baked goods freeze well. Cookies, Challah, Brownies, Cake will all come out just fine. Just make sure that the baked goods are full cooled before you freeze them. Oh, and don't mix batter and fruit for example: don't try to freeze an apple cake. An apple pie on the other hand (or any fruit pie) where the pastry and the fruit are seperate will freeze nicely.
Soup - Soup is a great thing to freeze. Any non-dairy soup should freeze well. You can even freeze chicken soup with matza balls and it comes out great. I would avoid adding pasta to any soup before freezing it, you can always add it in after you thaw and reheat it.
Chicken and meat with liquids- I've found that meat and chicken with sauces freeze wonderfully - for example sweet and sour meatballs, chicken marinara, or even pot roast once reheated will be just as delicious as if you made it that day.
Do Not Freeze
Cooked fish, raw fruits and vegetables - this requires a special freezer and in the case of fruit some blanching prior to freezing let's not go there... pasta, and dairy products.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions about cooking or freezing or ummm anything just ask...
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
One of those things was gefilte fish.
Which, my mother being an uninspired cook, it was probably a blessing that we did not serve.
And at that time I had not become the food-slut that I am now, and so had no interest in making gefilte fish or reading about it either.
In the mid-seventies my father and I went to Brussels and Paris several times - Brussels because of the fine restaurants and wonderful drinking establishments (Belgians have no religion except eating and drinking), and Paris for a variety of reasons. Including restaurants in Le Marais, such as Goldenbergs (I think on the Rue Vielle Du Temple?), which had chocolate cake to commit mayhem for, and a number of dishes on the menu that were, to me, unidentifiable, such as 'poisson farci'.
Which my father joyfully recognized as gefilte fish.
When I came to Berkeley in 1978, the gefilte fish situation was as bad as it had been in the Netherlands. So I wrote a friend, and got a recipe. Which, with almost no modifications whatsoever, I post below.
Benodigd, voor de visballen:
Required, for the fishballs:
Twee pond lichte vis, zowel zee als zoetwater vis.
Two pounds of white fish, both fresh and saltwater.
2 Kleine uien, versnipperd.
2 Small onions, minced very fine.
6 - 7 Eetlepels matzemeel.
6 to 7 Tbs. Matzameal
1 Eetlepel suiker.
One Tbs. Sugar.
2 Theelepel zout.
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Theelepel peper.
Two Tsp. pepper
Voor de soep:
For the soup:
Vier pond vissenkoppen, graten, en vel.
4 Pounds fishheads, scraps, bones, skin
1 grote peen, geschraapt en gehakt.
A large carrot, cleaned and chopped.
4 stengels selderij, gehakt.
Four stalks of celery, chopped.
2 Kleine uien, gepeld.
Two onions, peeled.
Hak de vis erg fijn. Meng er doorheen: ui, matzemeel, eieren, suiker, zout en peper.
Chop the fish finely. Mix with the minced onion, matzameal, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Plaats de vismengsel in een kom en laat in de koelkast 1 uur rusten.
Place the fishmixture in a bowl, and let it rest one hour in the fridge.
Doe alle visresten, met peen, selderij, en ui in een kastrol, giet er genoeg water bij dat alles ruwweg 5 cm onder staat. Breng aan de kook en laat 15 minuten zachtjes (niet borrelend) koken.
Place all fishscrap materials, carrot, celery and the two peeled onions in a cauldron, add enough liguid that it stand under by roughly two inches. Raise to boil and simmer (do not allow to roil) for fifteen minutes.
Met vochtige handen ovalen ballen van het vismengsel vormen.
With damp hands form oval balls of the fishmixture.
Plaats de visballen voorzichtig in de hete vloeistof, bedeksel de pan, en laat de visballen 1 uur of ietwat langer sudderen. Lang garen heeft voordelen voor zowel de smaak als de structuur van de visballen. Let op dat de visbalen helemaal bedekt blijven met vloeistof, daar ze veel vocht opnemen. Voeg indien nodig wat (heet) water toe.
Place the fishballs carefully in the hot liquid, cover with the lid, and simmer for an hour or more. Long poaching improves both the taste and the structure of the fishballs. Check to make sure the balls remain inundated - they take up rather much moisture. If necessary add some (hot) water.
Neem de visballen met een spaan uit de pan en leg ze in een soep schaal.
Remove the fishballs with a slotted spoon from the pan, and place in a tureen.
Zeef het kookvocht, en schenk het over de visballen.
Strain the kooking liquid, and pour over the fishballs.
De gefilte fish is, mits bewaard in het kookvocht, ten minste 3 dagen in de koelkast houdbaar.
Gefilte fish, submerged in cooking liquid, can be kept for at least three days in the refrigerator.
Geef er mierikswortel (chrein) bij.
Serve with horseradish.
Het gerecht mag met de gekookte peen (gesneden of gesnipperd) gegarneerd worden.
The dish may be garnished with the cooked carrot (sliced or minced).
As well as parsley.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Dairy Shabbos SuperPost!
Leeks can be tricky to clean/check sometimes. My method is to slit it down the middle and take off the outer leaves which are sometimes muddy and yucky. Rinse the whole thing (one pretty largeish leek) and give it a cursorial inspection. Then chop it into rings, leaving off only the toughest tips of the green. Some recipies tell you to throw away the whole green, but IMHO thats pretty wasteful because it cooks to tenderness anyway. But if it bugs you, trim it off and save for soup stock. Take 2 medium yellow onions, peel, and cut into half-moon slices. Heat up a generous dab of olive oil in your soup pot and add the onions and leeks. You can also add garlic. While this is cooking, peel and slice a generous number (6 maybe? mine were small....) of potatoes. Fit this number to the number of people you expect and figure about a potato and a half per person. Add these to the soup pot and let them cook a bit as well. Then fill up the pot with water and let the whole thing simmer while you get your hair done or do something productive like laundry. When the potatoes look more or less like they are about to fall apart, you can either give it body (to match your shiny, gorgeous hair) by pressing the potatoes with a spoon against the side of the pot or by pureeing it with a stickblender or jarblender. Season with salt and pepper.
Works with individual pieces or with a whole side of a salmon.
Preheat your oven to 425. Wash the salmon after you take it out of the package (cuts down on the fishyness and smell- I promise!) and arrange it on a baking sheet or rimmed lasanga pan or foil baking pan if you are like most of the singles I know who don't own bakeware. This is easiest with squirt-bottle mustard and similarly equipped honey. Squirt generous dabs of honey and mustard over the surface of the fish and smooth over it with your hands. Use rubber gloves or plastic wrap if you are squeamish. Then take a shaker bottle of dried dill and shake vigorously (think green snowfall) over the coated salmon and follow with peppermill twists. Throw it in the oven and watch it carefully- cooking time will vary on whether you used big or small peices and mine were done in 20 mins- and a good thing too because it was almost lichtbentchen time. Its done when it flakes easily with a knife but still looks tender and juicy. If it looks dry it is. But dont worry cause you can rescue it with.....
My Mom's Famous Tartar Sauce!
Chop up one dill pickle. Spoon enough mayo over it that you can imagine every person at the meal taking a healthy spoonful, but if you mess up its no biggie cause this is easy enough to refill in the kitchen in seconds. Add some capers if you like, thin it with some apple cider vinegar and add a dash of sugar to balance the acidity. Salt, pepper, and more dill- it makes it match the salmon. Garlic or onion powder if you are into that kinda thing.
It doesnt get much easier than this. Or much better. Boil noodles. Use whole wheat and then you can justify pushing more on people by saying "its whole wheat! its healthy for you!" and it doesn't change the taste a whit. Drain and rinse with cold water. Grate about a brick of millers cheddar and crumble almost all of a block of feta. Add most of these, saving some for the top-to the chilled noodles with one egg. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, or whatever looks appealing. Pour into a lightly oiled pan and top with the rest of the cheese and some paprika or cayenne for flair. Bake at 350 to cook it through but finish it slightly higher- 425, say, to get the crispy, browned effect. Sure to generate rave reviews and plenty of food-guilt.
I also served a romaine-hearts of palm salad with a dressing i tried to base on the one on Caravan of Dream's house salad- mmmm. Peel, bruise, and slice a garlic clove thinly. Let this steep in olive oil for a few minutes, then add an equal quantity of rice vinegar and a few dashes of soy sauce and pepper. Pour over the salad, trying to exclude the garlic- it tends to be too bossy if you let it get into the salad but letting it infuse in the oil gives you fresh garlic taste without scaring people.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Black-eyed pea Soup
margavriel (6:59:50 PM): ...a bit of an experiment, actually.
margavriel (7:00:42 PM): perhaps i'll post the recipe on the "Shabboth Cooking" blog...
margavriel (7:00:51 PM): ...even though it was cooked as a weekday soup.
margavriel (7:02:22 PM): black-eyed peas...
margavriel (7:02:37 PM): carrots & parsnips...
margavriel (7:02:49 PM): curry powder...
margavriel (7:02:53 PM): eggplant...
margavriel (7:03:10 PM): ...zucchini and butternut-squash...
margavriel (7:03:20 PM): ...potato...
margavriel (7:03:34 PM): thyme & marjorm...
margavriel (7:03:51 PM): ...green pepper...
margavriel (7:04:10 PM): ...apple-cider vinegar, and white wine...
margavriel (7:04:20 PM): ...and, of course, water...
margavriel (7:04:36 PM): some turnip probably would have done it a lot of good.
margavriel (7:04:50 PM): Oh, and of course it contained onions! (Forgot to mention that.)
margavriel (7:04:56 PM): Does it sound good?
AIM-buddy (7:05:41 PM): sounds like it could be
Saturday, January 14, 2006
And it turns out you CAN have chicken soup for Shabbat Lunch....
Shabbos Lunch Chicken Soup (works for dinner too)
Take 4 meaty chicken bottom quarters, skinned and with the lumps of fat pulled off. Fill the biggest pot you have with water and set it on the flame. Add the chicken. While its coming to a boil, peel 4 carrots and wash a largish leek as well as a few decent-looking celery ribs, cut these into substantial chunks, the kind you would like to see in a bowl someday. Ditto with zuchinnis (which I don't peel) and potatoes, and you can throw in some turnips and parsnips- peeled of course. You can also throw in dill and parsley leaves and/or stems. Add 2 quartered onions, peeled if you want a lighter broth, unpeeled if you want a richer color. Also about 10 peppercorns. Let this come to a simmer but DONT let it boil over if you want a gorgeous clear broth. Once its been cooking for a while add some salt. You can serve this either for dinner or lunch, or both.
Roasted butternut squash (chunked, seeded, olive-oiled and ovened at 425 untill pokeable)
M'jedra (brown rice and lentils with fried onions)
Whole wheat challah.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Spaghetti-Chicken; the evolution of a dish
As it stood, I had 2 boxes of whole wheat spaghetti and no good ideas. I was going to make thai peanut or sesame noodles as a side dish when resounding cries of "not sesame noodles again!" from the peanut gallery made me think twice. I said, "Maybe I'll make a mushroom pasta," thinking along the same crispy-tomato-sauced lines. I was totally at a loss for how I could combine pasta and mushrooms in any appetizing way with chicken, but heres what I came up with.
Emphatically Non-Syrian Spaghetti Chicken
First, I boiled a box of whole wheat spaghetti. Drained, rinsed, dabbed with olive oil and set aside.
I took the pasta pot and sauteed 3 boxes of white button mushrooms (sliced up) in olive oil with 3 or 4 pressed garlic cloves and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. As the mushrooms began to throw off copious amounts of juice, I threw in some capers and caper juice along with some peppermill twists and some salt, which caused even more throwing off of mushroom juice, as salt draws out more water once the cell walls break down a little. Once the juices had reduced to a syrupy almost nothing, I added some leftover red wine (I have some left over almost every shabbos and its a shame not to use it..) and let the alcohol cook off (you can tell this has happend if you stick your nose over the pot and you don't feel like you are in a bar).
I tossed this mushroom mixture (which took about 10 minutes to make) with my reserved spaghetti and began to wonder what to do with it. Sure, I could just heat it up on the platta as a side dish, but I was planning on making chicken cutlets, and however was I going to fit both pans and my soup pot on a 2-burner blech?
In the interest of economizing on space, I had a brilliant idea-- combine chicken and pasta! I was almost back to square one, but from a completely different angle. I pounded about 8 chicken cutlets untill pretty thin, and then tossed some flour, salt, and paprika on them. I heated up more olive oil in a frying pan and sauteed the chicken breasts. At the end of this procedure i was left with a chicken-flavored olive oil lightly thickened with castoff flour, so I added a little more flour and cooked my improvised roux for a minute or too. Then I added more capers, about 2 lemons worth of juice, and (suprise suprise) some more red wine and salt and pepper. I assembled the chicken on top of the pasta and poured my thickened sauce atop all.
I served this with winter vegetable soup, grapefruit-avocado salad, potato kugel, and a delectable zucchini-tomato dish that my friend Yael brought over.