Category Archives: Year Round

Pasta with Spicy Almond Pesto

In a blender, combine to make a runny “pesto” ATTN with some chunks of almonds still visible.

  • 1 cup roasted almonds
  • olive oil to cover

Cook

  • 8 ounces pasta (bucatini, radiatore, etc)

reserving some pasta water just before you drain them. When the pasta is almost done, saute

  • 1 glug olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 jalapenos, cut lengthwise in half (leave in seeds), and then cut in narrow slices

over high heat for about a minute. Add about 3/4 cup of pasta water, the cooked pasta and about 1/2 cup of the pesto. Saute, stirring to mix thoroughly and complete cooking. Season with salt, pepper and

  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

ATTN You will have leftover pesto. Save it in the fridge and use it the next time you want to cook this dish.

 

Oniony Noodle Kugel

Shopping List

12-ounce package of broad egg noodles

2 very large or 4 medium onions (about 11/2 pounds)

Vegetable oil (a few TBL)

10 eggs

Bring a large pot of ATTNwell-salted water to a boil. While you’re waiting for it to boil, peel and dice

  • 2 very large or 4 medium onions

This works best with a non-stick pan, but you can do this in any 11- to 12-inch frying pan. ATTNHeat a large frying pan to a medium-high heat and add

  • 1-2 TBL vegetable oil

and then add the diced onions. Saute the onions, ATTNstirring from time to time, not constantly. The onions need to get well-browned, and don’t worry if a few of them get extremely dark — that is what gives the kugel its flavor. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to them as they cook: check by tasting them. Towards the end of the cooking, if there’s a lot of browned bits stuck to the pan, add 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan, doing this while the onions are in the pan and the pan is still on the heat.

These still need a little more cooking, but they're almost done.
These still need a little more cooking, but they’re almost done.

Remove the pan from heat when the onions are done, but meanwhile…

When the salted water comes to a boil, add

  • 12-ounce package of ATTN broad egg noodles

Pay attention to how long the noodles cook: you don’t want them to get mushy and in fact, they should be a little firm but not doughy or raw-tasting. My brand’s package said they “should cook 8-10 minutes but no more than 8 minutes if they will be added to cooked more as part of another recipe”. I cooked them just over 6 minutes, sampled one and it was done.

While the onions and noodles cook, in a very large mixing bowl beat together

  • 10 large eggs, shelled of course
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or more to taste)

When the noodles finish cooking, drain them in a colander and run some cool water over them to bring them down to room temperature. If the onions aren’t done cooking yet, add a little oil to the noodles and toss the noodles to coat. If the onions are already done cooking, proceed with the next step without bothering to add any oil. (The reason for this is that you don’t want to combine the eggs and noodles until you are ready to cook everything because the eggs will absorb into the noodles and the kugel won’t hold together. If you leave the noodles drying in the colander without adding the oil, the noodles will stick together making it hard to mix with the eggs and onions.)

In the large bowl, add the noodles and onions. Stir thoroughly. I prefer to do this with my hands to make sure everything is well mixed. Quickly wash off the large frying pan you used for the onions (if you don’t, the kugel will tend to stick), dry the pan and heat it over a medium heat, adding

  • 1-2 TBL vegetable oil

When the oil is hot, add the egg-noodle-onion mixture. Smooth the top of the mixture in the pan. As the kugel cooks, you should see a crust form around the edge of the pan: this might take 5 minutes or so. Run a knife around the edge to separate the kugel from the pan. ATTNThe kugel will cook about 10-12 minutes on this side, so keep an eye on the heat and make sure it isn’t cooking too quickly as you’ll end up with a very dark crust. There will still be some loose  eggs at the point you need to flip it, but not a lot. Before flipping the kugel, run a spatula or knife around the edge of the pan again and ATTNunder the kugel to make sure it’s not stuck to the pan. If the frying pan doesn’t have straight sides, you can probably shake the pan a bit to see that the kugel has been loosened. Put a suitably large plate over the top of the pan, invert the pan and plate together and hopefully the kugel will be on the plate. If part of the kugel sticks to the pan, remove it with a spatula and put it where it should be. It’ll be fine.

Quickly add

  • 1 TBL vegetable oil

to the pan and slide the kugel off the plate and back into the pan. The second side will probably only take about 7-8 minutes to cook.  Again, ATTN loosen the bottom of the kugel from the pan and invert it onto the serving plate. Note that if you had a “separation disaster” the first time around, it is hidden on the bottom of the kugel and no one will see it.

The completed kugel.
  The completed kugel.
This is a diet-sized slice.
This is a diet-sized slice.

Serve hot or at room temperature, cut in wedges. It’s also great cold, eaten while standing in front of an open refrigerator at midnight. This is often served with braised meat (gedempte) that has a sauce.

From my mother, Rita Fitterman, who probably learned how to make this from her mother-in-law, Goldie Fitterman.

 

Potica Cake

Potica (pronounced poe-TEET-sa) is a delectable Slovenian yeast pastry, filled with cinnamon and nuts. It's a lot of work to make. The flavors of this recipe are reminiscent of potica, with far less work.
Makes one 9-inch tube cake
Shopping List
3/4 cup margarine or butter
11/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
11/2 teaspoon baking soda
11/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 lb. sour cream
11/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream, until fluffy

  • 3/4 cup margarine or butter

Add gradually

  • 11/2 cups sugar

until light. Add, one at a time

  • 4 eggs

and mix well. In a mixing bowl sift (and we really mean   sift, not combine) three times:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 11/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11/2 teaspoon baking powder

Add this mixture to the egg mixture in three parts, alternating with

  • 1 pound sour cream

Beat after each addition until smooth. Add in

  • 11/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine, to make filling:

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Into a greased and floured 9-inch tube pan, alternate layers of batter and filling, starting and ending with batter. When finished, cut through with knife. Bake at 350° F for 75 minutes, or until done. Cool cake 15 minutes before removing from pan.

This comes from a dear family friend, Nell Simala.

Jerk Chicken

This is a recipe that really demands cooking on the grill with a source of smoke, such as wood chips. It’s probably good cooked in the oven, but it won’t be the same. Note that it’s pretty spicy, but you can tone it down by reducing the number of hot peppers or substituting milder peppers such as jalapeños.

In the jar of a blender (or food processor), measure the following:

  • 6 scallions, cut into 4″ pieces
  • 1 large or 2 medium shallots, peeled
  • 3-4 habanero or Scotch bonnet chilies, stems removed but the seeds left in.
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 11/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into slices across the grain
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 heaping TBL ground allspice
  • 1 generous TBL soy sauce
  • 1 heaping TBL brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp cider or white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Run blender until a smooth paste forms. If you taste it at this point, just be aware that it’s very concentrated and the flavors will soften somewhat when it’s on the chicken and cooked.

Trim excess fat from

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into quarters or 8-10 chicken thighs or 4-6 leg quarters

The amount of chicken the paste will service will vary with the surface area of the parts. Spread it around on all the outside surfaces and put the chicken in a bowl or zipper-sealable bag, and refrigerate for 18-36 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, set up the grill and be sure to have soaked some kind of wood for smoke. I love hickory chips, but you might prefer something else. You’ll need enough fuel to cook the chicken for up to 45 minutes. If you’re using coal,  arrange them for indirect heat or cook at/under 300 if you’re using gas.  Make sure you have a lot of smoke going and place the chicken skin side up, cover the grill and let it cook for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it just to make sure you don’t have any flare-ups. The chicken will be a lovely color at this point. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes. Start to check whether the chicken is cooked through. The timing will vary depending on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is going to be dark (not burnt) on the outside when it’s fully cooked.

 

Cheese Straws

Cheesy, in the good sense.
Enough for a small dinner party. You might want to double this.
Shopping List

6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese

4 TBL butter (half a stick)

3/4 cup flour

crushed red pepper flakes

1 TBL milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grate

  • 6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese

In food processor, combine cheese,

  • 4 TBL butter (cut up into pieces)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

and pulse until it forms crumbs, then add

  • 1 TBL milk

Pulse for a few seconds and it will form a ball. Roll out on floured board to form an 8- x 10-inch rectangle.  Cut into strips, about 1/4-inch wide. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet(s), ATTNleaving space between the dough as it will spread slightly.

Bake about 12-15 minutes, making sure they get a golden color and the edges begin to brown. Cool entire baking sheet on rack, then gently transfer to a drinking glass to serve. Leftovers should be kept in a sealed container.

Adapted from  Smitten Kitchen.

 

Harissa

Simple enough.

 

Combine in a small bowl

  • 1/4 cup red pepper flakes (with seeds)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp  cayenne

Add just enough boiling water to cover and place a plate over the bowl.  Meanwhile, prepare

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

After 30 minutes, drain peppers, if needed.  In a food processor, combine pepper flakes, garlic and

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Blend to form a smooth paste.

Green Chili

Adapted from my cousin Irene's recipe.
Makes 2 quarts

Coat with flour

  • 3/4 pound boneless turkey, chicken or port butt

Brown in

  • 2 TBL oil

Cook until meat is well browned. Meanwhile, in a 2-3 quart saucepan on medium heat, add

  • 2 TBL oil
  • 1 small onion diced

When the onion is tender, add the browned meat and

  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 4-ounce cans of chopped green chilis
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 chopped jalapenos, or a mix of peppers of your choice (See note below.)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Let simmer over low heat for 40 minutes. If  needs adjustment of seasons, have at it. If it’s not thick enough, use some oil and flour to make a thin roux, and use that to thicken it up a bit. It should have the consistency of a thin gravy or a thick soup. Alternatively, you may want to add finely minced potato at the beginning of the cooking to help thicken it a bit.

NOTE: For peppers, you may want to roast some milder peppers like Anaheim, use habaneros if you want it spicier, etc. It is all up to you!

Caponata

Makes 8 servings
Shopping List

2 medium eggplants

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 large onion

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup capers

16 stuffed green olives

1/4 cup wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

ATTN Prepare this a day before you want to serve it.

Rinse and cut

  • 2 medium eggplants, making 3/4” cubes (leave skin on)

In a large saucepan, heat

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

and saute eggplant until colored. Remove from pan. Add

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

to pan. Saute until golden

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced

Add

  • 1/2 cup tomato puree

and simmer 2 minutes. Return eggplant to pan and add

  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 16 stuffed green olives, halved

In another pan (or microwave oven) heat

  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

and pour into eggplant mixture. Season with

  • salt and black pepper to taste

Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges and toast.

Adapted from The International Dinner Party Cookbook, by Jan Bilton

 

Old Jew Cake

We served these bar cookies at a large party. Over the next few days we received several requests for this recipe, and all the callers had two things in common: they were over 45 and Jewish. We renamed the recipe shortly thereafter. But what age is “old” these days, anyway?
Makes 20 bars
Shopping List

1 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup packed almond paste (about 3 ounces)

5 eggs

1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1/4 cup milk

11/2 teaspoon almond extract

13/4 cups finely chopped unblanched almonds (see tips)

1 cup yellow cake crumbs (see tips)

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Powdered sugar

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 101/2– by 151/2– by 1-inch baking pan (jelly roll pan) with heavy aluminum foil, letting the foil extend over the edges of the pan. (If you don’t have a pan that size, you might have to adjust the baking time: I have made this in a 9 x 13 x 1 inch pan successfully.) Grease the foil by ATTNputting a pat of margarine on the pan and placing the pan in the warm oven for 30 seconds, and brushing the softened margarine around.

Sift together and set aside.

  • 1 cup cake flour (or 1 cup less 2 tablespoons of sifted all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Whip together to form soft peaks

  • 3 egg whites (reserve yolks for next step)

Reduce the speed to medium and slowly beat in

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Reserve egg whites for use at end of recipe.

In the mixer beat on medium speed until blended smoothly, about one minute

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed almond paste (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 egg

Add and mix until blended, about one minute

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold or slightly softened margarine, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup

Add, one at a time

  • 1 egg (yes, the remaining whole egg)
  • 3 egg yolks (reserved above)

Beat for one minute, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl during the process. Decrease the speed to low and add

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 11/2 teaspoons almond extract

The mixture may look curdled: fear not. Add

  • 11/4 cups finely chopped unblanched almonds
  • 1 cup yellow cake crumbs (see note below)

Also add the flour mixture, and mix just until all the ingredients are incorporated and the batter looks smooth. ATTNDo not overbeat.

Using a large rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the almond batter, working just until no white streaks remain. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes.

Cool thoroughly in the pan. Use the overhanging edges of aluminum foil to lift the bars out of the pan, then peel the foil away from the sides. Invert the bars onto the back of the baking pan and remove the foil carefully. With the bottom side up and the long side facing you, cut the bars in half. You will have two pieces measuring about 10 by 71/2 inches each. Spread one piece with

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam

Use the removable bottom of a tart pan to invert the remaining piece and slide it, top side up, on top of the jam-covered layer. Spread

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam

over the top. Sprinkle with

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped unblanched almonds

evenly over the top and dust the top with

  • powdered sugar

You will have one double-layered piece measuring about 10 by 71/2 inches. To cut into 20 pieces, cut four rows the long way and five rows across. This makes 20 bars, 2 by 11/2 inches.

ATTNYou can process the almonds in the food processor until some are ground but larger pieces up to 1/4 inch in size remain. A combination of ground and finely chopped almonds gives the best results.

ATTNGrate 1/3 of a Sara Lee or other commercial pound cake to make 1 cup of cake crumbs.

You can also assemble this as a single-layer cake. Either way, ATTNthe top layer looks best if you put the nuts on 6 hours or less before serving. The cake keeps up to a week in a cool kitchen, but it won’t sit around that long.

Adapted from 125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble and Savor by Elinor Klivans

Lemon Rice Cake

A gluten-free lemon cake we love to serve. The cake has a distinct texture from the rice flour, somewhat like that of cheesecake.
Make about 20 pieces
Shopping List

1/2 pound butter

2 cups sugar

6 eggs

3-4 lemons

21/4 cups rice flour

Grease and flour an 9x9x2-inch pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grate 3-4 lemons to make

  • 1/4 cup lemon rind

Juice lemons to make

  • 3 TBL lemon juice

Reserve juice and rind. Separate

  • 6 eggs

Beat and reserve yolks. In a mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. ATTN Slowly add

  • 1 cup sugar

beating until egg whites form soft peaks.

Reserve egg whites and in mixer bowl, cream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (or use ATTN unsalted Fleishman’s margarine to make a dairy-free version)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

light and fluffy. Gradually add

  • 1 cup sugar

Add beaten egg yolks, lemon rind and lemon juice to mix. Add

  • 21/4 cups rice flour

Fold egg whites into batter. Place batter into the greased pan and bake for 55 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove.

When cool, cut into 20 pieces.

 

Lemon Bars

For Paul Chazan, who can’t get enough of them.

Makes one 9- by 13-inch pan, or 36 bars

1 cup unsalted butter

21/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

21/4 cups sifted flour

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated lemon peel

ATTNThere is an alternate crust recipe below if you prefer something with a bit of crunch from some cornmeal.

Preheat oven to 350° F. To prepare crust, beat

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

until creamy. Stir in

  • 2 cups sifted flour

until evenly blended. Spread evenly into an ungreased 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Beat

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar

until light and fluffy. Stir in

  • 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Pour filling over hot crust. Return to oven and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Make glaze by combining

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot water

Stir until sugar is dissolved. This makes a sweet, fairly thick white glaze. We prefer a thinner, translucent glaze. Start with 1 cup of sugar and add water, or more sugar, as desired. Spread over top and finish cooling. Cut into bars. They keep well wrapped in foil or in an airtight container.

Adapted from The Old-fashioned Cookbook, by Jan McBride Carlton

I recently discovered an alternate crust I like for lemon bars, from the wonderful book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, by Alice Medrich.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with aluminum foil. In a bowl, combine

  • 11/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

In mixer bowl, beat together

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Add

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 TBL buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the least possible amount of time on the lowest speed to combine in the flour. Knead by hand to ensure flour is incorporated. Press into lined pan, prick everywhere with a fork, then bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown. Continue by pouring filling over hot crust as describe above.

Hot Fudge Sauce

This started with a recipe from marthastewart.com, I am embarrassed to say.
Almost 2 cups

Chop into small pieces

  • 6 ounces of chocolate

Martha recommended semisweet chocolate, however I used dark chocolate (70%) from Trader Joe’s and the result was not too sweet.

In a medium saucepan over a medium high setting, heat until boiling

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup clear corn syrup

Reduce the heat and add all the chocolate. Whisk until it is completely melted and a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat and add

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Let cool to a bit before serving as it’s a bit thin while still hot. The leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated. It won’t keep forever like the commercial stuff, but I’m sure it will be gobbled up well before that’s an issue. It’s delicious.

 

Coconut Mango Pudding

Inspired by an idea for a non-dairy no-cook pudding by Mark Bittman.
5 or 6 servings

Make a simple syrup using

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

When it comes to a boil, stir and verify the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat to cool a bit.

Warm just enough to liquify

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

In a blender, combine

  • 8 ounces silken tofu

along with the syrup. Process briefly. Add

  • 11/2 cup mango chunks (I used defrosted frozen mango)

Process until it’s thoroughly blended and no sign of any mango pieces remains. Add the coconut oil and process until blended. Pour into individual serving dishes and chill until solid, about 30 minutes.

The original recipe was for a chocolate pudding that used the fat from the chocolate to cause it to solidify when it got cold. Coconut oil is another product that does the same thing. I was suspect of using coconut oil until I read this article.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding

Rich and delicious, with a thick, rich consistency.

Make a syrup by boiling together briefly,

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Allow to cool

In the jar of a blender combine

  • 16 ounces silken or soft tofu
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Syrup, above
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend until mixed thoroughly. You will probably have to scrape the jar edge down once. It should take about a minute or less. Pour mixture into individual cups or one large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 

Green Tea Pudding

Delicious, creamy and easy to make, too.

In the jar of a blender combine

  • 16 ounces silken tofu (soft tofu should work, but I haven’t tried with this variation)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate or 11/3 cups Nestle’s white morsels, melted
  • 4 tsp green tea powder

Blend until mixed thoroughly. You will probably have to scrape the jar edge down once. It should take about a minute or less. Pour mixture into individual cups or one large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour. It will not get as firm as the Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding.

Note that this isn’t a dairy-free recipe: white chocolate contains small amounts of milk. The white morsels from Nestle’s don’t use cocoa butter, but are essentially the same thing. I’ve used both and it works fine.