Hanukkah Latkes

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Freshly Made Latkes with Sour Cream & Homemade Applesauce

Freshly Made Latkes with Sour Cream & Homemade Applesauce

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are one of my favorite traditional Hanukkah foods.  I love potatoes in all forms so I make these throughout the year, sometimes as a main dish for dinner!  There are new, hoity toity recipes out there now using various root vegetables and sweet potatoes, sweet things and savory items.  But here’s the thing: when it comes to many of the foods I ate growing up… I do not like change.

No thank you to bananas added to my famous black bottom pie.  Feh to savory herbs added to a cookie dough.   I don’t want or like  vegetables stirred into my matzo ball mixture.  I crave the real, authentic deal.  I get stubborn and unyielding about this.  And so it is with latkes: I only enjoy the original, traditional mixture I remember.  With pink applesauce and sour cream, thank you very much.

Potatoes & Latkes

Potatoes & Latkes

I use a basic recipe from Cooks Illustrated … with a few personal tweaks, of course.

Thick and Creamy Potato Latkes

Makes approximately eighteen 3-inch pancakes

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Ingredients
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled but washed well
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons table (fine) salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying – divided (I use organic canola oil labeled “for high heat”)
Instructions

Grate potatoes in food processor fitted with a coarse shredding blade.

Place half of the shredded potatoes in a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl and let them drain.

Fit a food processor with the steel chopping blade, add onions, and pulse with remaining shredded potatoes that aren’t draining until all pieces measure roughly ⅛ inch and look coarsely chopped – five to six 1-second pulses. Mix with reserved potato shreds (in sieve) and press against the strainer to drain as much liquid as possible into the bowl below. Let the potato liquid stand until the starch settles to the bottom, about one minute. Pour off this liquid, leaving the starch in bowl (the starch is cloudy).

Beat egg, then potato mixture and remaining ingredients (except oil), into starch.

Meanwhile, TURN ON THE STOVE OVERHEAD FAN and heat ¼-inch depth of oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.

Working one at a time, place ¼ cup potato mixture, squeezed of excess liquid and pressed into ½-inch thick disc, in oil. Press gently with a nonstick spatula; repeat until five latkes are in the pan.  Note: lots of liquid comes out, and I prefer to make these much thinner and crisper!!

Latkes Cooking in the Pan

Latkes Cooking in the Pan

Maintaining heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, fry them until golden brown on the bottom and edges – about three minutes. Turn with a spatula and continue frying until golden brown all over, about three minutes more.

Drain on a triple thickness of paper towels set on a wire rack over a jelly roll pan. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, returning oil to temperature between each batch and replacing oil after the second batch. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap, held at room temperature for four hours, transferred to a heated cookie sheet, and baked in 375-degree oven, until crisp and hot, about five minutes per side. Or they can be frozen on a cookie sheet, transferred to a zip-lock freezer bag, frozen, and reheated in a 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, about eight minutes per side. Best of all is to eat them right after they are done frying!

Note: I always wear old shabby clothes and an apron because the entire kitchen (actually my entire condominium hallway) and my clothing smell like fried potatoes when I make these.  When I finish, I open the windows, take a shower and burn a nice smelling candle but the smell lingers.

 

 

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Simple Stovetop Flan

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Fabulous Flan

Fabulous Flan

Oh no!  I almost forgot to post this basic flan recipe, one of the first things I learned to make after we started coming to Belize.  Restaurant dessert menus here always include flan, but every one of them tastes a little different.

At least ten years ago, I had a friend in Belize named Martha who made tamales and sold them on the street.  She was an exceptional cook and taught me how to make many native dishes, including flan.  Martha and I would spend hours in her tiny kitchen, sweating and chopping ingredients and sharing bits and pieces of our lives.  She was then just thirty years old and had seven children, ages 2 – 16!

Martha’s flan was a little airier than I like so I went from restaurant to restaurant, chef to chef, home cook to home cook, and asked for THEIR favorite flan recipe.  Everyone had different ingredients, differing numbers of eggs, a few added cream cheese(!), some made it on top of the stove, others cooked it in the oven, a few cooks covered the pan and others did not, cooking times varied wildly…not one man or woman of the ten or more I questioned did things the same way.

Afterwards I did an internet search.  It turns out that most recipes involve a complicated caramel that has to be done separately… ingredients are strained and so on.  And many reviews said it took several tries to get this right.

Ta da! I am pleased to share with you the result of all my research … my very own version of the flan I make in Belize.  I tried many different cooking methods, I tried covering and uncovering and this is what makes the best flan for me.  It takes about ten minutes tops to prepare but more time to cook and cool.  It’s a dumbed down creme caramel, uses just one mixing bowl and a flan pan. No straining. It is the recipe I make often since I always have these ingredients in my pantry.

And in my very humble opinion, it is perfect!

Final flan - nothing fancy ... but it's fabulous!

Final flan – nothing fancy … but it’s fabulous!

Simple Stovetop Flan

For an 8-inch metal straight-sided cake pan

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Ingredients for the bottom of the flan/cake pan:
  • ½ tsp of butter to barely coat the sides and bottom
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (regular granulated or turbinado)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon – this is added after the sugar is caramelized
Ingredients for the flan
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large can evaporated full cream milk (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can condensed milk (397 g – the can looks a bit smaller than the can of evaporated milk)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp dark rum (substitute coffee if you wish)
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions

Start about a quart of water boiling for a water bath in a 12-inch straight sided saute pan.  The diameter of this pan has to be big enough so you can place the flan pan inside it, and you need a lid that fits on this larger pan.

Mix the flan ingredients above by hand with a whisk until everything is combined.

I lightly grease the flan pan on the bottoms and sides…and I mean barely.  Evenly sprinkle the bottom with two tablespoons of sugar and place the flan pan directly on the stovetop burner over medium heat. (I have a gas range, but an electric stovetop will work too.  Put on the exhaust fan (this part of the recipe will produce a lot of smoke) and stand by while the sugar starts to become dark golden brown.  Do not stir, but let it bubble on its own.  When it starts to become dark golden brown, immediately remove the pan from the heat and place on a heat-proof surface.   The browned or caramelized sugar will harden, which is not a problem.  Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly on top of the browned sugar.

The Flan Pan

The flan pan with caramelized sugar – ready to be filled

After the pan cools for at least 10 minutes, pour the remaining mixture of flan ingredients on top of the caramelized sugar in the cake  pan and gently lower the filled, smaller (now filled)  flan pan into the larger pan with simmering water.  The water should come halfway up the sides of the flan container.   I keep a kettle of hot water nearby and add more water every 20 minutes or somas it boils down.  Do not cover the pan.  Keep the water simmering for two hours, then cover the entire larger pan with the flan still inside of it  for 10 minutes.  Remove the lid quickly and see if it is done–a knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean, which is how you know it is ready.

Put on kitchen gloves and carefully remove the flan pan from the water bath onto  a rack and let it cool there.  After 20 minutes or so the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  I gently “rock” or shake (gently) the flan to be sure the sides aren’t sticking to the pan – I do this every 20 minutes or so and if it seems stuck, take a sharp knife and run it around the edge of the pan.   After one hour, it’s time to get the flan out of it’s pan.  Shake gently before you take the flan out of the flan pan to be sure it is loosened from the sides and bottom. Put a rimmed plate over the flan pan and invert the dessert so the caramel part is facing up. Juice will dribble all around the edges.   Let it cool and refrigerate, covered, before serving.

This is so easy, the next time you have to provide a dessert make this!  It’s different, and loved by all.

 

 

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Thanksgivukah / Chanugiving Cranberry Apple Sauce

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Crimson Cranberry Applesauce

Crimson Cranberry Applesauce

Thanksgiving 2013  – aka Thanksgivukah or Chanugiving, since Chanukah and Thanksgiving fell on the same day last year.  Our count in 2013? 24 people!  20 full grown adults, 4 children under the age of five and over the age of two.  Heavily skewed to the male side, we embraced our group of enormous eaters.

Over half of us began our family holiday on Wednesday at Uncle Kal’s cabin in the woods.  As for me, I gave a carload of food to my daughter Rachel to take up ahead of time and we made the hour and a half drive Thursday morning.  I spent my day Wednesday finishing pies, picking up fish for Friday dinner, prepping salads and gathering myself after the previous week of children and grandchildren crammed into our condo.  2013 was the first year my sister Susan and her husband Stephen joined us for this holiday.

Hannukah Lights

Hannukah Lights

This celebration was over the top.  We consumed boatloads of food.  Kal doesn’t have a dishwasher at his place so the human dishwashers were at it nonstop.  The hot water heater broke at the beginning of the weekend which meant no warm showers or warm water at all.  Some of the guests went to our motel room to shower and hose off.

So what do 24 people do together for three solid days, aside from eat and nap?  There was a huge puzzle, finally completed  late late on Friday.  Knitting was ongoing.  Books were started and read.  Lots of catching up.  My nephew Elliot, ever the movie guru, compiled some DVDs of old family movies – and my kids got to see their mother, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends celebrate one year birthdays and Passover seders, and take camping trips to Yellowstone Park…what memories.  We sang. We drew pictures. Some went on walks, on runs, did yoga.   A few napped during daylight hours.  Scrabble games and Settlers of Catan board games were played.

Tatty & Max working on a puzzle

Tatty & Max working on a puzzle

According to our family tradition, we made more food than you can begin to imagine — especially noteworthy because 99% of our family is normal weight to thinnish.  We are small people but we eat like starving truck drivers.  Because it was Chanukah, we not only had traditional Thanksgiving food but included some potato latkes and Cranberry Applesauce, a cute twist to combine both holidays.

Here is my version/recipe for Cranberry Applesauce that combined the foods of Thanksgiving (cranberry) and Chanukah (applesauce).  This has sinced graced my table throughout the year – not only is it good and tart, but the color is beautiful if you use this applesauce as a topping for potato pancakes, for yogurt, or anything else. Nothing is easier than putting everything into one pot at the same time, waiting a few minutes and being DONE.  You’ll look like a master chef.  I am including a pressure cooker version as well as a stovetop recipe.

Apples, cranberries, pressure cooker - voila!

Apples, cranberries, pressure cooker – voila!

It’s not just for Thanksgivukah/Chanugiving anymore!!

Cranberry Applesauce

Serves 6 and can easily be quadrupled or doubled

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Ingredients
  • 4 large peeled and cored Braeburn apples (about 2 ½ pounds*), cut into 8 large slices
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (I am very snobby about using only PURE maple syrup!)
  • 1-3 inch piece of lemon peel (peel a section with a potato peeler)
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt  (about ⅛ tsp if you must measure)
Pressure cooker instructions (my preferred method of course)

Put all the ingredients in a 4-6 quart pressure cooker and lock the lid.  Bring to high pressure.  Cook for three minutes at high pressure then take the pressure cooker off the heat and let the pressure come down on it’s own.  Remove the lid, and stir together to combine the berries and apples. The applesauce will be a little chunky.  If you prefer smooth applesauce, pulse it with an immersion blender or cook it a minute longer – four or five minutes instead of three.

Stovetop method instructions

Put everything into a 4-6 quart pot and bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes or until everything is tender.  Mash with a potato masher or immersion blender.

This cranberry applesauce keeps, covered and refrigerated, for around 10 days and freezes well too.  It is a good make -ahead holiday dish.

 

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Giving Thanks

My Kids: Daniel, Rachel & Jake (Thanksgiving 2013)

My Kids: Daniel, Rachel & Jake (Thanksgiving 2013)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my number one favorite holiday.  I love the food, the gathering of family, the fall season, the fact that it’s a secular holiday, all of it.  The week before our actual family celebration is BUSY … I drag out the toys and games and extra blow up mattresses for the grandkids, make my shopping list, and create my cooking schedule. But I always find time to reflect on the past year.

“Gratitude” is mentioned daily-on the radio, in person, in yoga class…  I am thankful every single day of my life, consciously thankful of large and small things.  At my age I am always aware that there are a finite number of Thanksgiving holidays!

I feel thankful for the family who surrounded me the first seventeen years of my life.  My childhood had a huge impact and contributed to my feelings of worthiness, security and deep happiness.  When my parents would say prayers with me before bedtime, I would always repeat the words “God bless Mommy and Daddy, Tim, Sue, Kay and Kal, all of whom we dearly love…and all my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, and the memory of my grandparents and Uncle Lou and Uncle Ike.”  I was reared with this value system — that we as family love each other unconditionally, we are all there to support each other and that we continue to honor the memory of those relatives and friends no longer with us.  I still  feel this way about  my immediate family, siblings, nieces, nephews, and  other relatives through birth or through marriage.  My family is precious to me!

Kal's Cabin Hat  - designed by kids for Thanksgiving 2013 - turkey and menorah represent Thanksgiving & Hannukah

Kal’s Cabin Hat – designed by kids for Thanksgiving 2013 – turkey and menorah represent Thanksgiving & Hannukah

I feel thankful for my friends: old, young, longtime, newish, in all sizes, shapes and colors.

I feel thankful for my core values.  I know that for me material things don’t come close to the importance of relationships and experiences.

I feel thankful for my good health, for leaves that turn colors, rain that makes the air feel so clean, fresh food, the roof over my head, blue skies, grey skies, the ocean.  I say out loud, nearly every day and usually multiple times a day to anyone who will listen to me how thankful I am and how much I am in awe of people and nature.

I hope for all of you that you can be grateful for many many things that touch your lives,  and that we all remember why we gather with friends and relatives this year.  Never lose sight of that fact that so many people in the world have so much less.

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy Thanksgiving 2014!

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Oaxaca Peanuts

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Oaxaca Peanuts & Lime Wedges

Oaxaca Peanuts & Lime Wedges

I travelled to Oaxaca in late August. I’d never been to this part of Mexico, and we wanted to try a Spanish language “almost immersion” school.  When I returned home, friends here in  Seattle asked me about the the food.   Oh…the food.  Even if Oaxaca didn’t have such friendly, nice people and art and sites and accommodations and a lovely Spanish school, I would  go just for the world class food.  Let’s just say it totally changed my take on Mexico and Central American cuisine.  We ate terrific meals in unassuming restaurants that rivaled those in top European cities, yet the food cost was substantially less.

Courtyard plantings typical of those we saw walking around the city

Courtyard plantings typical of those we saw walking around the city

I loved that in most restaurants once we ordered a meal, some type of “on the house” hors d’oeuvres were served.  This might be fresh bread rolls with some type of spread, olive tapenade, salsa and tortillas…

Chapulines, or fried grasshoppers served in Oaxaca--I ate these in tacos!

Chapulines, or fried grasshoppers served in Oaxaca–I ate these in tacos!

But the one item that was presented over and over again?  Cacahuites.  Pronounced ka ka wåh tayz.  Basically Spanish peanuts, roasted with a touch of oil and salt, topped while warm with cayenne and accompanied by fresh lime wedges to squeeze on top.  Suffice it to say that regardless of the quantity served or what we ordered to follow, there was never one peanut left in the bowl.

I’m giving you the quantity we made for four of us at night as an appetizer with drinks, but you can easily double, triple or quadruple this.  It tastes great along with beer or an icy beverage.  I warn you, between the  salt and chili you’ll be thirsty!

Cacahuates Oaxaqueños con Chile y Ajo

(Oaxacan style peanuts with chilis and garlic)

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Ingredients
  • 2 cups Spanish peanuts (the kind with the skins on)-salted or not
  • 6 large cloves of peeled garlic, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt to sprinkle at the end unless the peanuts are salted
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne sprinkled on top once they come out of the oven
  • 1 lime, cut into three wedges
Instructions

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl stir together peanuts, oil and garlic slivers until everything is coated.  It’s not very much oil, but it’s enough.  Put this peanut mix into a foil or parchment-lined cookie sheet (I do this in my toaster oven).  Bake for 20 minutes.  The room should smell of garlic and roasted peanuts.  Remove to a bowl, let the peanuts cool slightly so they can be handled and serve, topping the nuts with salt (unless they are already salted) and cayenne.  Have lime wedges for your eaters to squeeze on top of the peanuts before eating them.

Repeat often… These are addictive!  And stay tuned for more stories about my time in Oaxaca

 

 

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Cauliflower & Rigatoni Bake

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Comforting Cauliflower & Rigatoni Bake

Comforting Cauliflower & Rigatoni Bake

There is a back story, of course, to this recipe which I spun off from one published recently in the New York Times.  On a rainy Sunday, I found the story about Rigatoni with Cauliflower, and read the recipe; it sounded so good to me, a true cauliflower lover who had a lot of fresh sage to use at the end of the season, so I saved it to my “to try” file.  I do this a lot.  Then Sister Sue asked me for a recommendation for a vegetarian main dish for company last week, so I happily sent on the recipe. She reported back that not only did she make it, but she loved it – as did her company.

“Did you change anything,” I asked?  She indignantly answered me via email  … and I quote Regarding changes, why make any if it was good?  OH wait, I forgot who was asking (ha ha ha).  I think I may have had more cauliflower which I preferred (same dif as reducing pasta of course, but it makes more quantity overall which I also preferred), but I had to caramelize it in 3 separate batches to get it nicely browned.  I suppose I could have used a larger skillet.  The fontina is a must, you could use any hard cheese and it won’t make a difference.”

Uh huh. She knows me too well… It’s rare that I make anything the way it is written, even the first time through.  This was no exception.  In spite of her admonishment, I used less pasta, subbed whole wheat rigatoni, added more cauliflower, a bit more cheese…more olive oil…and I’m happy with my result.  The dish isn’t a stick together saucy pasta, but rather a delicately coated but interestingly flavored dish.  It does take a lot of salt, even with the cheese.

I didn’t garnish this with parsley as suggested because that seemed too mundane.  I just let it be whitish brownish food, but I served it with large halved oven roasted carrots stirred together with sauteed dino kale and fresh end-of-the-season cherry tomatoes.  The plate was colorful and the sweet tomatoes and carrots balanced out the saltiness of the dish.  It was light but filling and left me enough room to have a scoop of coconut gelato with hot fudge for dessert.

I do love that you can prep and put this dish together several hours before serving …and it makes a lot–enough for 6-10 big eaters as long as you have multiple side dishes as I did.   The seasonings for the cauliflower were different and assertive with theI added sage, capers and red pepper flakes for some extra zip!

Cauliflower & Rigatoni Bake

Serves 6-10

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 Ingredients
  • ¾ pound whole wheat rigatoni
  • 1 Tbsp salt for cooking the rigatoni
  • ¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large cauliflower, about 2 pounds.
  • 1 teaspoon fine grained sea salt and 10 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 ½  tablespoon capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste (I added more)
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh sage leaves plus a few smaller sage leaves left whole
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 8 ounces ounces coarsely grated fontina cheese or mozzarella or fresh white cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces finely grated imported parmesan cheese to top
  • ½ cup coarse dry bread crumbs-lightly toast the bread first then grate-use for topping
Instructions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add one tablespoon of table salt and stir in rigatoni  Stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and cook without covering about two minutes less than package directions so it is still al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water, drain well again so no water remains and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and put rack in lower mid oven..

Cut cauliflower off the hard core and cut away the stems.  Chop the remaining flowerettes into ½ inch pieces.

Put two tablespoons (half of what you will use in total) of the olive oil in a wide 12-14 inch skillet over high heat. Add half of the cauliflower pieces, along with any crumbly morsels, in one layer. Watch as the cauliflower caramelizes for about two minutes, then turn the pieces over and continue to brown them another two minutes.  It should be pretty soft and yield easily to a knife.

Scrape these into a large mixing bowl and repeat the directions with the second half of the olive oil and cauliflower.  Put this into the bowl with the first batch.

To the mixing bowl, put in cooked pasta.  Add capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped sage, sage leaves and lemon zest and stir to coat.

Next add the cooked cauliflower mixture and  grated fontina, mozzarella or cheddar cheese and stir gently to combine evenly.

Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Top with parmesan cheese, then with bread crumbs and drizzle with about one and a half tablespoon olive oil. (Dish may be completed to this point up to several hours in advance and kept at room temperature, covered. Or it can be refrigerated overnight but bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is crisp and golden.  Let it rest a few minutes before serving.

Another note: I always always grate my own cheese.  Much, much better flavors and textures!

 

 

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My Chocoholic Fix

Minty Chocolatey Cookie Concoction

Minty Chocolatey Cookie Concoction

We arrived in Belize on Monday night, unpacked a bit, prepared some local chicken sausages and some cooked black beans from the freezer…then started rooting around for some chocolate.  I always require chocolate after a night time meal.  You see, I am a full blown chocoholic and I’ll never go to rehab or start a 12-step program.  Nope, I’m loud and proud about my chocolate addiction.  However, it becomes problematic if there isn’t chocolate easily accessible.

So I looked for my “go to” chocolate fix.  I didn’t have a single fancy chocolate bar.  No hot fudge or ice cream. Nada.

And then I had an epiphany.  My husband thinks this was his idea, but IT WAS MINE!

I prepare 99% of my food from scratch, I buy organic fruits and vegetables and dairy products and oils, and even the chocolate I eat is normally a homemade dessert or a very high quality dark chocolate bar of sorts.  This is my disclaimer, so forgive me when I stoop to the level of the following creation.  You should know that I am not so hoity toity.

We had a bag of Mini York Patties — dark chocolate coated, smooth mint candies.  We had a few Oreo cookies, the kind I ate as a child with big glass of milk.  And I had a microwave.  Badda bing, badda boom.

The Essential Ingredients

The Essential Ingredients

Here is how I did it folks:

  1. Unwrap the Mini York Patty candy.
  2. Separate the Oreo cookie halves, scrape away the white filling (unless you like this part) and sandwich the mint between the two cookie halves.
  3. Put the assembled sandwich on a microwave safe plate and zap for exactly seven seconds.
  4. Press the two cookie halves together lightly so the York Mint is slightly bulging and oozing.
  5. Eat … savoring the chocolately mint goodness.

I am not going to apologize for my love of this concoction. It’s my belief that eating a dessert like this occasionally is perfectly acceptable – even encouraged. Just because it’s not “healthy” or “organic” or “made from scratch” … doesn’t mean it’s “bad.” Enough with the guilt already…

Plus – I am thinking that the York Patty folks and the Oreo cookie people might want to merge their businesses and go big with this.  To them I say, you are welcome.

I can tell you that I will have one of these little treats every single night after dinner until I get sick of them, and that will take a long time! I wouldn’t name this “York Patty between sides of an Oreo”.  Oh no.   If I had a fancy restaurant and wanted to list this as a dessert, I’d call it “a pillow of peppermint cream, covered with dark ganache and sandwiched between two crispy chocolate wafers.”  I’d charge $3.99 for two of these on a fancy plate.  As if..

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Potato Celery Root Leek Soup

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Creamy Potato Celery Root Leek Soup

Creamy Potato Celery Root Leek Soup

Really, the title of this recipe should be “Gotta Get Rid of Veggies in the Refrigerator Soup.”  Tomorrow I leave for three weeks and my mission the past few days has been to live from what remains in my fridge and pantry, especially fruits and vegetables.

Last week I bought a large, handsome celery root. And Yukon Gold potatoes, and some leeks.  I planned to make a mash of sorts but got busy and my lovely vegetables sat around, ignored.

Then the weather turned very fallish and coolish, the days shortened and I felt like soup would fit the bill.  Hence the soup you see: made up using only what was on hand.  Normally I’d have chicken stock in my freezer but I was too lazy to defrost it, and wanted to see if Better Than Bouillon paste would work.  It did, and this soup takes no time from stovetop to table.  Perfect and filling on a cool, fall day.

I might also mention that you can eat this chilled if you feel like a cold soup.  It’s really good, although I am usually partial to hot soup.

Potato Celery Root Leek Soup

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients
  • 3 large leeks
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 fist-size celery root, peeled and cubed the same size as the potatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I used Better Than Bouillon according to the directions on the jar)
  • 4-6 Tbsp or more 2% milk or cream  if desired, or more stock
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Fresh chopped chives, dill, parsley or tarragon to serve
Instructions

Prepare the leeks by cutting off the stem and root end, slice in half the long way, clean out any mud in the flesh and slice the light green and white part into 1/8 inch half circles.

In a 3-4 quart sauce pan, saute leeks with butter for five minutes, add potatoes and stock and simmer 30 minutes or until very, very soft.  Since you are going to puree this, it can be mushy.

I use a hand blender and just stick the blade end into the soup pot.  Blend until smooth.  Add milk (or cream if you want to be decadent) to thin the soup to your liking, salt and pepper and serve.  Garnish with fresh herbs.   Or add more cream, salt and serve cold.

If you want this to be vegetarian, use vegetable broth and thin it with additional broth.

Make a huge green salad, slice some fruit and call this a fantastic dinner!

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Carrot Miso Dressing

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Chicken Salad with Veggies and Carrot Miso Dressing

Chicken Salad with Veggies and Carrot Miso Dressing

I can’t help myself… I’m providing you with yet another salad dressing concoction.  That said – this one is a bit different from the majority of the dressing recipes I’ve posted here.  Carrot miso salad dressing…made with carrot juice, ginger and white miso.  Sounds pretty hippy dippy – right? It harks back the era I recall  from the 1970s.  I must reveal I did participate in  bread baking and natural foods back then – but I didn’t go overboard with the hippy thing.  Nonetheless, I laugh every time I make this dressing, remembering how everyone my age, when they were in college, ordered carrot juice, wore bell bottoms and cooked their hearts out.

Salad dressing is one of those things where I just scratch my head when I see folks buying a bottle of commercial dressing.  I make literally hundreds of salad toppings  but mostly I just drizzle olive oil or walnut oil , add citrus or vinegar of some type, herbs or seasonings or shallots and voila!  Generally this takes me about five minutes at best.

This salad dressing is a little more involved but completely worth it. When I prepare it there is enough to last us a couple of weeks – plus it’s healthful and has a vivid orange color to entice your taste buds!

Colorful Carrot Miso Dressing

Colorful Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

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Ingredients
  • ½ cup fresh carrot juice
  • 1 inch medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¾ inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. soy or tamari sauce
  • 1 tsp white miso paste
  • ½ cup canola or olive oil
Instructions

In a small sauce pan, heat and boil the carrot juice, stirring or swirling the pan occasionally until it is reduced to three tablespoons. This takes me around 10 to 15 minutes.  Pour it into a measuring cup and refrigerate for ten minutes to cool.  Add the reduced juice and everything else but the oil to a food processor or blender.  Whirl it, and slowly drizzle in the oil.  Process until smooth and there are no remaining chunks of ginger or carrots.  Put it in a jar and refrigerate!

This is fantastic served on romaine lettuce with lots of veggies and some chicken or leftover sliced meat or fish. Or use it as a dip for shrimp, veggies, steamed broccoli, salmon, or chicken breast.  This keeps up to two weeks refrigerated but you will need to shake it. Yummy,  no joke!

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Brown Butter Cherry Almond Breakfast Loaf – An Accidental Recipe

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Brown Butter Cherry Breakfast Loaf - Right Out of the Oven!

Brown Butter Cherry Almond Breakfast Loaf – Right Out of the Oven!

Fall arrived in Seattle, bringing clouds and rain. I immediately felt like baking and couldn’t be bothered to go to the supermarket.  Dried tart cherries caught my eye on the countertop, and suddenly I craved a warm slice of cherry bread slathered with butter.  I found three saved recipes in my files and settled on a combination that pleased me.   I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Many of you probably assume that I cook in an organized, neat fashion.  I hate to break it to you…but that’s not exactly the case.  I am clean, I am organized…but when I cook I don’t necessarily use “mise en place” where everything is measured and laid out ahead of time.  Nooooo.  Often I make a recipe between writing emails, talking on the phone, knitting… and it can be distracting.  I do put out the ingredients on my counter, and I read the recipe before I start and at the end of my cooking to be sure I didn’t forget anything.  In a perfect world, that is.

That is how this particular recipe evolved…  I did line up the ingredients: the milk carton, sugar, flour, cherries, bowls, bread pan…but I forgot to check everything when I thought I was finished.  OOOO, I left out an egg.

As I was melting the butter, I instantly decided to brown it as I did with the coconut bread.  And I cut the sugar down – which I often prefer.  I added extra cherries because I wanted to finish my container.

So here you have it, a flavorful, dense and truly-original-My-Global-Kitchens-not-icky-sweet breakfast bread.  It’s a keeper, and I will definitely make it again.  In fact, I’m thinking this would be a good make-ahead Thanksgiving weekend breakfast item along with spinach frittata.  Oh yea!

Brown Butter Cherry Almond Breakfast Loaf

Yield: one loaf

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Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Slightly rounded 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. non aluminum baking powder
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup dried tart cherries
  • ¾ cup of 2% milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick  unsalted butter, melted, browned and cooled (see coconut bread for instructions)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ½ Tbsp granulated sugar for the topping
Instructions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment. Spray the parchment-lined bottom.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cherries and toss to coat them  evenly. This helps distribute the dried fruit throughout the bread.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, cooled butter and almond extract. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until barely combined. Do not overmix.

Pour this batter into the prepared pan. Even out the top with a spatula and sprinkle the top with a half tablespoon of granulated sugar.

Bake in the middle rack of your oven until the top of the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for ten minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before serving (although I love it a bit warmed).

When it is no longer warm,  cut the loaf  in half and freeze part for later in the week so it will be uber fresh.

 

 

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