Potato Chips May Save the Day

When I feel stressed I want potatoes.

Any kind.

Baked, boiled, fried, mashed, cakes, salad, pierogi, kugel, soup.

This election is giving me stress.

I know a lot of people who are freaking out. So it's not just me.

But I definitely need some sort of potato to calm me down.

So tonight, when I have people over for my first debate watch gathering, I am serving homemade potato chips. These:

Rosemary and Sea Salt Potato Chips

  • 3 medium russet type potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary (or use dried, crushed rosemary)
  • sea salt, preferably coarse, freshly ground salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wipe the potato slices dry. Pour the olive oil into a bowl. Add the potato slices and toss them to coat on all sides. Place the potato slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning the slices once.  

 Makes 4 servings

 

 

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Grandma Hoffman's Skinny Noodle Crusty-Top Mushroom Onion Kugel

Kugel is the kind of food that people can get into an argument about.

The issues can become monumental.

Like -- should it be sweet or salty?

have cheese or not? 

if cheese-- what kind?

And lots more.

Including this biggie -- what width noodles to use!

Skinny? Medium? Wide?

OY!

Here's my answer. Medium or wide for sweet, creamy, dairy-based or fruit-laden kugels served as side dishes with dairy or for dessert, because you want more pasta-surface area to absorb the sauce.

BUT, definitely skinny noodles for a savory kugel because you want it crispy on top to crunch under the pan juices or gravy that come with the tender meat and vegetables.

I grew up in a family where salty kugels were the thing. And ALWAYS made with the skinniest of noodles.

Here's my grandma's recipe. If you make it in a shallow baking pan the entire kugel is one huge crunch. Use a deeper pan if you prefer some soft noodles under the crusty top.

Grandma Hoffman's Mushroom Onion Kugel

  • 10 ounces skinny egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or schmaltz
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh mushrooms, any variety, sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • paprika

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions, until the noodles are tender but not mushy. Drain under cold water and set aside. While the noodles are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Set aside. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the vegetables with any accumulated juices, and stir the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs and some salt and pepper to taste and mix them in. Place the mixture inside a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake for about 25 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes or until the top is crispy and browned.

Makes 8 servings

Carrots with Pomegranate Jam Glaze

There are several ingredients in my life that I cook over and over.

Salmon. I make it so often for Ed and me that we are turning into fish.

Except that I also cook a lot of turkey, so maybe instead of growing fins and swimming up river we will grow feathers and start saying "gobble gobble."

And carrots. They're my go-to vegetable because most people like them and even people who say they hate vegetables usually say carrots are okay. 

I will definitely serve carrots for Rosh Hashanah. Why?

Tradition!

Pomegranates are also traditional for the holiday, so a while ago I cooked carrots and pomegranates (in the form of pomegranate molasses) together once and the result was really delicious.

But recently I decided to rework my old recipe using pomegranate jam that I bought from Crafted Kosher

It's a keeper.

Also, you can make the recipe up to the point of actually roasting them, so it's one of those wonderful dishes you can make ahead during this crazily busy holiday time.

Carrots with Pomegranate Jam

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate jam
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pomegranate jam, orange juice, vegetable oil, orange peel, cayenne pepper and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to blend the ingredients, and cook for one minute, making sure the jam has melted. Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise in half or quarters, depending on thickness. Place the carrots on the parchment lined baking sheet and pour the jam mixture over them. Roast the carrots, stirring occasionally, for 18-20 minutes or until they are tender and well glazed. Sprinkle with mint and serve. 

Makes 4 servings

 

Plums - as Crisp, not Torte

A few weeks ago I spotted Italian prune plums at Fairway. It was 96 degrees out, in the middle of a heat wave, and here I was looking at the first culinary signs of autumn.

But there they were, the plums, and of course I bought several pounds of them.

My thoughts went immediately to Plum Torte, the iconic Rosh Hashanah dessert. I make one every year.

But those plums are too good to reserve for just one holiday.

So I made these Italian Prune Plum Crisps.

Crisps are a more homey-style dessert than a stately looking Plum Torte. However, I think they are just perfect for the holidays. Easier too.

Or, why not serve both?

 

Plum Crisp with Oat Streusel

Filling:

  • 36 Italian prune plums
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking or rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the plums, brown sugar, lemon juice and flour in a baking dish. Set aside. Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Place the oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.

 

 

 

How Sweet It Is!

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After Labor Day the entire social structure of my life changes along with everyone else's. All of a sudden we switch gears from grilling and walks on the beach to back-to-school stuff and fall fashions.

And the High Holidays.

Everywhere I look now there's a Rosh Hashanah reminder. Even though it's late this year (Jewish holidays are always early or late, never on time). The first night is October 2nd. Not so far away!

And so, to paraphrase the poet Shelley, I ask you: when Rosh Hashanah comes can Apple Cake be far behind?

No way! Because Apple Cake is one of the culinary icons of the holidays, a rite of passage for all would-be Jewish bakers. It wouldn't be a proper holiday without this dessert.

But not every apple cake is quite like Amy Kritzer's! This delectable new version, fragrant with chai-inspired spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves) and cloaked with a soft, maple-infused cream cheese frosting is a standout for its creative take on an old-fashioned classic. It's a beauty as well, with its creamy drizzle and, if you wish, chopped walnuts for garnish.

The recipe is from Amy's new book, Sweet Noshings, which is loaded with magnificent recipes that feature modern updates to and new ways with traditional Jewish baked goods. Everything from Mandel Bread (Amy's includes espresso powder and dried cherries), to Chocolate-Lime Sufganiyot (perfect for Hanukkah) to Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Beet (!) Frosting (I can't wait to try that one!).

There's even a riff on the classic egg cream (it includes strawberries and almond milk).

Anyone who is familiar with Amy's popular blog, WhatJewWannaEat, knows that her recipes always surprise, always inspire. The cookbook does too. Satisfying those of us who like to go beyond ordinary when we cook.

And it certainly satisfies a sweet tooth.

Apple Chai Cake with Maple­ Cream Cheese Drizzle

Prep time: 30 minutes  • Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes  • Makes: 12 servings

 For cake

  • Butter, oil, or cooking spray for greasing pan
  • 3 cups (426 g) all-purpose flour, 
  • plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) neutral-flavored oil (such
  • as canola, vegetable, or grape seed)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar, plus extra 5 tablespoons for apples
  • 4–5 Granny Smith apples, (3½ cups/440 g), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

 For drizzle

  • 4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (plus 1–2 teaspoons, if needed) milk (or water or almond milk if keeping parve), at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC. Grease a 12-cup (2.8 L) Bundt pan with butter and a dusting of flour (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate large bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or spoon, mix together oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Then mix in 2 cups of the sugar until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, switching to the beater attachment (or continue to mix by hand). Mix until combined, being careful not to over mix. Batter should be thick but pourable. 

4. Peel and core apples and cut into thin, 1/8-inch (3 mm) wedges.

5. Combine apples in a large bowl with remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

6. Spoon a third of the batter in pan. Add half of the apple mixture in an even layer, add another third of the batter. Follow with other half apple mixture and last of the batter.

7. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a cooling rack. 

8. To make drizzle, beat cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Then beat in powdered sugar, butter, maple syrup, salt, and enough milk to get a thick but runny glaze. Keep beating until smooth. Drizzle all over your cooled cake. 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

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I go out to my garden now and it's still warm, like summer. But the leaves on big maple trees in the back are starting to turn and I can see the vague copper tips. It's that transition season when you want to grab the last of summer but your head understands that autumn is coming.

I've picked dozens of luscious tomatoes in the last few weeks, but there are still some green ones hanging on the vines. Do I wait for them to ripen and have the last few precious bites?

What if there's a sudden frost! That happened to me last year and all my tomatoes were ruined.

Here's what to do: use some green tomatoes and leave just a few to ripen and hope for the best.

In the past I've baked green tomato pie, fried green tomato slices, baked green tomato slices, made green tomato pickles and cut green tomatoes into different kinds of chutney.

This year I decided to pack them into a sandwich.

Dee-lish.

Fried Green Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with one teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 12-16 slices green tomato (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 Portuguese rolls, sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill with the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and cut them into quarters. Brush the pepper pieces with the olive oil. Broil the pepper pieces, turning them occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until charred. Remove the pieces to a plate. When cool, peel off the skin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the flour with some salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in another dish. Place the breadcrumbs in a third dish. Coat the tomato slices with flour. Shake off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten eggs, covering the slices completely. Coat the slices with the breadcrumbs. Place the tomato slices on a cookie sheet or baking rack to air dry for at least 15 minutes. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Place the rolls in the oven to warm them up for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven. While the rolls are warming, mix the mayonnaise and basil together. Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise on the bottoms of each of the rolls. Top each with 3-4 tomato slices. Top each with two roasted pepper quarters. Top each with equal amounts of the cheese. Finally, cover with the top of the roll. Place back in the oven for a minute or so to slightly melt the cheese and serve.

 

Makes 4 sandwiches

Easy Peasy Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

Things are still blooming in my garden. And I'm not usually so lucky when it comes to my produce plantings, so I only planted tomatoes and herbs.

Next year: going to try berries. Strawberries and blueberries.

In the meantime it's store bought for me (including farmer's markets).

So the other day, when Fairway had a sale on blueberries (each dry pint for $1!!!!)I bought 5 (the limit). Even though I already had some fresh blueberries at home.

And then I had to use them.

I made blueberry cake, blueberry muffins and blueberry soup (so refreshing on a summer day!). And a blueberry crisp.

And also blueberry jam.

I like jam, but don't like fussing with sterilizing jars and putting the jars in one of those water-bath things. So I only make an amount that will be used within a couple of weeks and store it in my fridge. For example, for:

Here's the simple recipe:

Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar

Place the blueberries, orange juice, orange peel and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing down on the ingredients with a wooden spoon to crush the berries slightly. When the liquid has thickened to jam-like, remove the pan from the heat. Let cool and spoon into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

 

Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen

photo by Evi Abeler

photo by Evi Abeler

Although my Mom was the one who taught me how to cook and who encouraged me to expand my recipe repertoire, I post a lot about the dishes my grandma cooked. My mom's food was thoroughly up-to-date and wonderful, but my grandma made the old-fashioned, old-world Ashkenazi favorites that I loved (still love!) so much. 

And so, when I got hold of Miri Rotkovitz's new cookbook, "Bubbe and Me in the Kitchen," I felt right at home. I understood immediately that for Miri, whose recipes are geared to mostly modern food that today's kosher home cooks prefer, she keeps a special place within her heart and soul for her bubbe, for the foods her bubbe cooked and the words of wisdom, culinary and otherwise, that her bubbe gave to her. Like how bubbe taught her that using spices could "bump up the flavor and stamp a personal signature on favorite dishes." That slicing apples rather than chopping them would result in a more flavorful Apple Cake.  

The book is filled with some of her bubbe's recipes, culled from a collection of index cards and clippings, plus an occasional recipe from other kosher food writers (including me) and mostly, Miri's own contemporary creations and riffs on traditional dishes. There are so many fabulous recipes, I don't even know where to begin cooking them. Shall it be the chapter on Grains, with the Forbidden Rice Salad with Mango and Ginger Vinaigrette? Or the Mezze/Snack chapter that includes Nori and Smoked Salmon "Petits Fours?"

I love meatless meals, so actually, it's the Kasha Varnishkes with Ratatouille for me. This is the kind of dish that brings together traditional and contemporary, that makes a standard side dish into a full meal.

This book is a winner and a keeper. Not simply for the wonderful kosher recipes, but also for all the extras: notes on pantry items, information about what kosher means today in terms of global ingredients and healthy eating, and because of the charming narrative and headnotes that lets us hear bubbe's voice, translated by a loving grand daughter.

Here's that recipe, so fine for a meatless Monday (but really, anytime).

Kasha Varnishkes with Ratatouille

SERVES 4 TO 6 | PAREVE 

Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes

 FOR THE RATATOUILLE

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped

  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and chopped

  • 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste or tomato sauce

  • Generous pinch dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish

  • Sea salt or kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE KASHA VARNISHKES

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, divided

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 pound bowtie (farfalle) noodles

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup kasha (medium granulation) 2 cups water or vegetable stock

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

MAKE THE RATATOUILLE:  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Warm the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof covered chef’s pan set over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté  until it softens and begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more.

Add the chopped eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, sauté for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, about 3 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste (or sauce) and thyme.

Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. The vegetables should be saucy and tender, yet still mostly hold their shape. Remove from the oven, stir in the basil, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

MAKE THE KASHA VARNISHKES: While the ratatouille is baking, set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. In a chef’s pan or large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to caramelize, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the meantime, when the pasta water comes to a boil, stir in the bowties and cook until al dente, about 10 to 11 minutes. Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add the kasha and stir well to coat the kasha grains. Transfer the onions from the chef’s pan to the serving bowl with the pasta. Return the pan to the stove top and place over medium heat. Add the kasha and cook, stirring constantly, until the egg dries and the kasha separates into individual grains, about 3 minutes.

Add the water or stock to the kasha and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

When the kasha is cooked, add to the bowl with the bowties and onion. Drizzle with 2 table- spoons of oil and stir well to combine. Spoon into shallow bowls and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with additional basil.

STORAGE: Store the ratatouille and the kasha varnishkes in separate covered containers in the refrigerator. The ratatouille will keep for 4 to 5 days, the kasha for 2 to 3 days. You can also freeze both dishes in freezer-safe containers

Zucchini Muffins

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This summer I was finally able to grow tomatoes. I had lots of them and there are still more to come!

I feel as if I finally did it right because I have failed every year up to now.

It makes me confident about next year, and not just about tomatoes. I might try to grow peppers and string beans and all sorts of things.

Maybe even zucchini. Now's the time of year that several people I know are harvesting their zucchinis, and some are gigantic! I'd like to see those in my garden.

For now I have to rely on my neighbors' and friends' generosity!

Here's what I did with zucchini this week. These muffins are not too sweet so you can have them for breakfast as well as snack.

 

Zucchini Muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 1 cup raisins, optional 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. In a large bowl whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl combine the vegetable oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until well blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fold in the zucchini and optional raisins. Spoon the batter into the tins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the muffins onto the rack to cool completely.

Makes 12



 

New LaLa Lunchbox kosher content

My daughter Gillian, mother of three kids and creator of the best-selling lalalunchbox app, is expanding the content of this wildly successful tool that helps parents and children plan lunches for school, camp, field trips and so on.

It involves cute monsters and shopping lists that make it easy to get all that's needed, but mostly it encourages children to make decisions and healthy food choices. You can read more about it here.

Now there is going to be a special section geared for kosher food. Yes, many of the original items can already be kosher -- chicken leg, for example. Or made with kosher substitutions. But now there is a special section that is kosher-only. With no need to make changes or substitutions.

And I am thrilled to be curating the kosher items for the app!

Here are some of the items you can choose from when you download this app:

Traditional favorites such as: Pierogies! Blintzes! Banana bread! Hamantaschen! Potato Latkes! Matzo Ball Soup!

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But also lots of up-to-date foods that kids love, like Date Snack Balls, Roasted Carrots, Grilled ChickenHummus, and much, much more.

 

I am happy to shard my recipes with you so you can make them with your family.

Check it out today so you can be ahead of the game in time for back-to-school!