I am a wife, a mom of three, and the kitchen is my favorite place in the house. I read cookbooks in my spare time and enjoy getting kitchen appliances for presents :) I love preparing delicious and healthy food for my family and here are a some of what graces our table each week.

Email Me for any of the recipes :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sesame Tahini-Oat Cookies (Oogiyot Tahina)

Every Thursday, I am very lucky to get to spend a bit of my afternoon baking with my two favorite 4 year olds.  Today, we made these Sesame Tahini-Oat cookies and they were really good.  I didn’t have all the ingredients – coconut, sunflower seeds, and raisins – so I added 1/2 c. chocolate chips instead.  I think, in hopes to make them a bit healthier next time, I would cut the chips by half and add the seeds in.  The cinnamon and allspice are just in the background, but their presence makes a big difference.  Such a simple cookie, yet so unique.  I think I like this cookie :)

This recipe comes from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook…

1/3 c. tahini
1/2 c. honey
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. old fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1/4 c. finely shredded coconut
1/3 c. unsalted shelled sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
1/4 c. dark raisins

Combine the tahini, honey, egg, cinnamon, allspice and salt.  Stir in the oats, coconut, seeds, and raisins.  Use wet hands, or a scoop (I use a small ice cream scoop) to form the sticky mixture into 1 1/4 inch balls.  Arrange 2 inches apart in prepared baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 12 minutes or until firm and light brown.  Cool completely in rack before packing up. (Mine only made 1 and a half cookie sheets…so there aren’t that many to pack up!)

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Chili

This was supposed to meal #2 for the week, but since Danny went for 4ths and I had 2nds and Amelia and Macie went to town…well, there is a small portion in the freezer for another time, but it’s more like a half-meal.  I am not complaining…

This comes from Kathleen Daelman’s “Cooking Thin” cookbook.  I am really trying my hardest to stick with my cookbooks in hopes of saving a little time and effort.

The beans:
1/2 lb. black beans, soaked overnight or two 19 oz. cans black beans
3 c. water, stock
1 carrot, peeled
1 celery stalk, quartered
1/2 large onion, cut in half
1 bay leaf
1 pinch red pepper flakes

The chili:
1 c. finely diced onion
1 TBSP olive oil
1 15 oz. can tomatoes in juice, whole or chopped
1 tsp. hot chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

The beans:
Place beans in 3 qt soup pot with water or stock, carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.  Cook until beans are tender, but still firm and holding their shape, 25 –35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool in their liquid.  Don’t overcook.

The chili:
While beans are cooking, in a large pot, place onion and oil and cook, covered tightly, until onions are translucent – stir occasionally.  Be careful not to burn, add a tsp of water if needed.  Drain beans and discard vegetables.  Add to cooked onions.  Add tomatoes, juice, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Simmer over medium heat for 10 to 20 minutes, until flavors are well combined.  Better the next day…

My notes:
Kathleen said that you could add 1/2 lb of meat so last night, I sautéed the onions and meat together and kept them in the fridge overnight while the beans soaked.  When I threw everything together this afternoon, after the beans were cooked, I also added two diced carrots and a big handful of corn.  I also added a can of tomato sauce, because it needed it.  Like I said earlier…4ths!

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Argentinian Potato Meat Pie (Pastel de Papa)

This was dish #1 for the week, which I made Saturday night and stuck in the freezer in portions for later this week.  Danny was hungry last night, so he had a taste and thought it was pretty good even though “it looked kind of plain”.  It’s meat and potatoes, how do you want it to look?

The recipe comes from a cookbook that I inherited from my Bubbie Molly’s house.  It was a gift from her neighbors who were both chefs and I am pretty sure she never used it.  It is called “Jewish Cooking in America” by Joan Nathan and it is a compilation of stories and recipes and I remember loving the stories before I knew what to do with the recipes.

6 large potatoes
2 TBSP oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 green pepper, chopped (skipped)
1 large tomato, chopped (used 2 plums, did not peel)
2 lbs ground beef (used turkey)
oregano to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
6 TBSP parve margarine (used Smart Balance Light)
2 hard boiled eggs, optional
1/2 c. pitted olives, optional
1/2 c. raisins, optional

1. Peel the potatoes and boil them, covered, about 25 minutes or until tender
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and saute’ the onion, garlic, and pepper in a frying pan until the onion is translucent.  Add the tomato, the ground beef, oregano, salt and pepper, and cumin, and cook until the beef is brown.  Drain the fat off.
3. Drain the potatoes and mash them with 4 TBSP of the margarine and salt. 
4. Stir in the eggs, olives, raisins, if using.  Place the meat mixture in a 6 QT dish and cover with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with paprika and dot with remaining margarine.
5.  Bake, uncovered, in a 375F oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not Pickled Brisket

While I was getting my kitchen back to it’s original state after Passover, I decided to do a major overhaul and go through every cabinet (I have lots!).  I threw stuff out, consolidated serving dishes and just made a lot more room for everything.  I also went through my spices.  I have a spice “rack” hanging along my wall and then a huge stash of extra bulk and additional spices that I don’t have room for.  I filled my spice jars and got rid of a lot of unnecessary containers which felt great and while I was in spice land, I found some picking spices that I had never used.  I decided to make Danny a Pickled Brisket for his birthday using a recipe I had seen in Panache.  This recipe, I had remembered, said it tasted like real Montreal Smoked Meat, the kind that Danny grew up with and still has dreams about.  This is what I wanted to make him for his birthday, I had even bought rye bread to go with it.  So, I found the recipe, read it through and (I thought) it called for a brisket, honey and brown sugar.  I went to Hungarian the next day – with only 15 minutes to shop and run back to get Leo from Speech – and was able to get some good advice from one of the butchers that this Top Rib Roast would give me the same results at $7.99/lb as the first cut brisket at $12.99/lb.  Still, I walked out of there with $38 worth of meat and had never touched a (raw) brisket in my life.   I couldn’t wait to get the meat in the oven on Friday, but tried to time it right so it would be done before Shabbat and I would still have the oven free for more important things like cookies, etc.  Around 1:30pm on Friday, I took out the meat and found a perfect roasting pan for it.  The recipe called for roasting it 3 hours at 325F and then letting it sit overnight and slicing it the next day.  Here is where the could be downfall begins…

I sprinkled the brown sugar on the meat and then drizzled it with the honey.  What I thought was going to be a nice rub turned out to glob up like a big wad of goop and become totally unmanageable.  Lucky for me, I had such trouble with it on the one side, I flipped it over to get to the back.  When I flipped it, I saw that the meat was tucked under and was actually a very thin long piece of meat, a size for which I did *not* have a roasting pan.  I did have a disposable cookie sheet  with a bit of a ridge to it, so I plopped it in there and tried to rub it down some more.  I thought it was a little weird that it didn’t call for any salt or pepper so I looked at the recipe again.  I guess 10th time is the charm because I *finally* saw that  it called for a PICKLED brisket, not a plain jane, straight from the butcher piece of meat.  Oh gosh.  I had to pick up Amelia at  2:30pm so I started freaking out, but just a little.  I mean, it’s a huge piece of meat.  It was almost $40 (I could get a massage for that!) and I had promised Danny some smoked meat for his birthday.  I did some quick searches, called my mom, and came to the conclusion that picking this meat was not in my future, and that was just going to have to be ok.  Knowing that I had to get this thing in the oven if I was ever going to get those birthday cookies in, I started sprinkling, dousing, and rubbing that meat with whatever I thought would impart a some flavor.  A week later, I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I am sure I used paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, minced garlic, onions and soy sauce, in addition to the honey and brown sugar it already had on it.  I threw it, ever so gently, into the oven and prayed harder than ever before.  After 2 1/2 hours, I called my mom and she gave me permission to peek and told me to take off the foil for a while.  It looked good, it smelled good and it wasn’t completely ruined.  I put it in the fridge and we had it for dinner the next day…and lunch the following day and I have a whole bag of small packets of it in the freezer for many (many!!) other days.  Considering pastrami is $12.99/lb and this was just as good as that (with a little more kick next time), I would say I did pretty good.  Danny, one day you will get your smoked meat – just find me a pickled brisket!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Classic Cheesecake

Last Friday was Danny’s birthday.  For Shabbat dinner, I made this – very yummy – cookie display.  The letters look like Macie did them, but it was *me* with very runny frosting.  Noone seemed to care as we scarfed them all down after dinner (and a couple before). 


On Sunday night, I invited my family over for dessert and made Danny favorite, cheesecake.  Rather than driving myself insane looking online, I decided to look in my actual cookbooks (what a concept!) and found this Classic Cheesecake in Panache.  No heavy cream, freaky oven times (Alton, are you serious???), or even longer than manageable cooling times – and best of all – NO water bath.  This was a simple cheesecake recipe that one could even make at 7:30am while giving three kids breakfast while someone else slept in…:) It did have a sour cream topping which I have never done before, but will now start doing – YUM!

Classic Cheesecake:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (used cinnamon graham crackers)
6 TBSP unsalted butter, melted (used Smart Balance Light)
1/4 c. sugar

1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, room temp. (used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, at room temp

1 c. sour cream (used reduced fat)
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 10 inch springform pan.
For the crust, combine everything together and spread over bottom of pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly firm. Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 300F.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer until light and creamy.  Gradually add the sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition.  Pour the filling into crust and bake for 40-45 minutes, just until the center barely jiggles when the pan is tapped.  Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges.  Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour.

For the topping, preheat the oven to 425F.  Combine everything together and spread over the cheesecake.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Cool completely on a rack.  Top with berries if you want and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  Can freeze cheesecake without topping.  Defrost cheesecake in the fridge and add topping before serving.