Lullabye Bread

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A few years ago Ed and I were in Berlin and checked out KaDeWe, the city's famous department store that has the biggest food halls in Europe and maybe in the world. They sell every kind of food you can imagine. Gorgeous cakes and pastries. Bountiful, beautiful fruit. Different kinds of eggs, dairy products, chocolates. 

It was all familiar. Pineapples. Peaches. Sachertorte. Macarons. Freshly butchered chickens, and so on.

We stopped counting the different kinds of sausages after we reached 100. Apparently they sell sausages from every region in Germany. 

But we were there for lookin', not cookin' -- so, in the two hours we walked through this place it was more like a visit to an art gallery. 

But then we came to the bakery and there, in the case, was a beautiful, braided loaf called Hefezopf, which is like a challah, but with raisins and almonds.

It was a vision. All at once my mind filled with memories of a lovely shabbat challah mixed with grandma singing rozhinkes mit mandlen, that hauntingly beautiful, classic Yiddish lullabye.

Oh my. My eyes well up even thinking about it.

This was something I had to try at home and get right.

I did, but it took several tries. At first I used my challah recipe and sweetened it a bit, but that just tasted like sweeter challah. The consistency wasn't right.

After doing some research about Hefezopf I realized it was more like brioche -- dense, buttery, dairy-laden, so I started tinkering with my brioche recipe.

Yes. 

A taste is worth a thousand looks.

Try this. It's called Hefezopf, but like to call it Lullabye Bread.

Lullabye Bread (HEFEZOPF)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 2-inch strips of lemon peel
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour, approximately
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup raisins, optional
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped almonds, optional

 

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, butter and sugar cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and the mixture is hot. Set aside to cool to lukewarm (about 105-110 degrees). Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and whisk the ingredients to dissolve the yeast. Let rest for about 5 minutes or until thick bubbles form. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Remove the cinnamon stick pieces and lemon peel from the yeast mixture and pour the liquid into the mixer bowl. Add one egg and mix the dough with a dough hook for about 2 minutes. Add the raisins, if used, and mix for another 2 minutes or so, or until the dough is smooth. If the dough is sticky, add more flour as needed. (Kneading can be done in a food processor or by hand.) Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and cut it into 3 equal pieces. Working on a floured surface, roll the pieces to make strands of about 12-inches long. Braid the strands and place them on the baking sheet. Beat the remaining egg with one teaspoon water and brush the egg wash over the surface of the braid. Sprinkle with almonds, if used. Let rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Makes one bread

Zucchini Bayildi

Every year, at every Passover Seder, I serve a side dish called Imam Bayildi, which is basically stewed eggplant, leeks and tomatoes, though sometimes I've made it with onions instead of leeks.

Somehow the occasion wouldn't seem right without this traditional dish.

And yet, last year my kids said that maybe it was getting a little boring. One of them doesn't care for eggplant, so -- there was no Imam Bayildi this year. 

But during the week I will serve a kind of "bayildi" (which means "fainted" -- because it tastes so good that the Imam who first tasted it fainted).

This new dish is colorful and chock full of vegetables. It's spring-like and refreshing, so it is perfect for Passover's sometimes heavy meals. But it's also an all-year round dish that goes with any meat, poultry or fish you might serve. Or serve it as part of a vegetarian dinner.

It also takes much less time than the original recipe.

ZUCCHINI “BAYILDI”

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 10-12 campari tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt, lemon juice and water. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

 

Tagged: vegetablesvegetarianside dishPassoverPesachzucchini bayildibayildiSeder

Zucchini Bayildi

Every year, at every Passover Seder, I serve a side dish called Imam Bayildi, which is basically stewed eggplant, leeks and tomatoes, though sometimes I've made it with onions instead of leeks.

Somehow the occasion wouldn't seem right without this traditional dish.

And yet, last year my kids said that maybe it was getting a little boring. One of them doesn't care for eggplant, so -- there was no Imam Bayildi this year. 

But during the week I will serve a kind of "bayildi" (which means "fainted" -- because it tastes so good that the Imam who first tasted it fainted).

This new dish is colorful and chock full of vegetables. It's spring-like and refreshing, so it is perfect for Passover's sometimes heavy meals. But it's also an all-year round dish that goes with any meat, poultry or fish you might serve. Or serve it as part of a vegetarian dinner.

It also takes much less time than the original recipe.

Zucchini “BayIldi”

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 10-12 campari tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, sugar, salt, lemon juice and water. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until all the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

Passover Spinach Pie

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I can't imagine Passover without this dish. Spinach pie which, during the year I top with buttered phyllo sheets and sometimes with puff pastry, depending on the occasion.

On Passover it gets a matzo crust -- like this one, ready for the oven.

It's a versatile dish too. You can make it plain or add mushrooms or make it with cheese. You can also switch to kale or other greens if you prefer.

Nice for a meatless dinner too.

 

SPINACH PIE with MATZO CRUST

  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups cut up mushrooms, optional
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets matzo

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms, if used, and cook, stirring often, for another 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened. Stir in the spinach and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat. For dairy, add the feta and Parmesan cheeses and mix them in. Add 3 of the eggs, the dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and place in a baking dish. Soak the matzo in cold water to cover for 1-2 minutes or until softened but not mushy. Shake off excess water. Place the matzo on top of the spinach mixture. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top of the matzot. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 4-8 servings (as main course or side dish)

Passover Butter Cookies

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As far as I know, my father's Aunt Fanny didn't have any child named after her, but, in keeping with our Ashkenazi tradition, she does have something that bears her name: the family recipe for butter cookies.

We call them Fannies, because these butter cookies were her creation and somehow calling them Fanny's just didn't seem right to anyone but the English majors in our lives.

I have made these cookies so often I can mix the dough and shape them without even looking at what I'm doing. My kids make them. My grandkids even make them. 

Fannies are the ultimate butter cookie. You need look no further to find a better one.

But of course, not during Passover.

Which got me to thinking that -- this recipe is so good, why not try a Passover version?

After a few tries -- voila!

Thank you Aunt Fanny. I named them after you too.

 

aunt fanny's Passover Butter Cookies -- Passover Fannies

  • 1 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • chocolate chips (about 50) (or use lekvar)

Place the matzo cake meal, ground almonds, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low speed for about a minute until the ingredients are evenly combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and mix for another minute or so until a soft, uniform dough forms. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes or until somewhat chilled and slightly firmer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take small chunks of dough and shape into balls about one-inch in diameter. Flatten the balls in the palm of your hands into disks that are about 1/4-inch thick. Place the flattened balls on ungreased cookie sheets, leaving some space between each cookie (they will spread slightly). Place a chocolate chip in the center of each dough disk (they hold better if you place the chips upside down). Bake for 10-2 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 50.

Note: if you use lekvar, make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie and fill the hollow with a small amount of apricot or prune lekvar 

Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

I am allergic to bananas, so I never eat them or any food that contains banana.

BUT, I buy bananas all the time. Ed eats some and the grandkids eat some. But mostly I buy them because I love the fragrance of a peeled banana and love cooking with bananas just so that I can have a whiff or two.

Over the years I've developed quite a number of banana bread and banana cake recipes, including some dairy-free, some with chocolate chips, some with dried fruit, some with chocolate flavored batter, some with coconut, some with mango, some with streusel. You get the point. I enjoy these goodies vicariously as I watch other people eating them. 

A few days ago, as usual, I had a few unused bananas. I am also trying to use up all the flour in my cabinet before Passover. So there was a double purpose to creating some new banana concoction and the result was cupcakes. My tasters have told me that the cake part is delicious. I tasted the thick and creamy frosting and give it two thumbs up.

 

Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting(P)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Brown Sugar Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12-15 muffin tins (or line them with cupcake papers). Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and orange peel in a bowl and set it aside. Beat the sugar and vegetable oil with a handheld or electric mixer set at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mash the bananas and add them to the sugar mixture. Beat thoroughly until the ingredients are well blended. Add the flour mixture, stirring only enough to moisten the dry ingredients and blend them in. Stir in the orange juice and vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a cake rack. Frost with Brown Sugar Frosting.

Makes 12 large or 15 medium cupcakes

Brown Sugar Frosting (P)

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread or pareve margarine
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • orange juice (1-2 tablespoons)

In a large bowl or an electric mixer, beat the buttery spread, coconut oil, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract together at medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until smooth and thoroughly blended. Gradually add orange juice, using enough to make the mixture spreading consistency.

Perfect for Pesach

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Passover is less than a month away so I've already begun the purge of pasta and stuff and am also trying to use up all my flour and get ready for the holiday.

But there's still snow outside and it's cold here so it's nearly impossible to think spring and all the new beginnings we talk about at the Seder. Even if it is the first official day of spring.

That's why, of all the recipes in Naomi Nachman's new cookbook, Perfect for Pesach, I decided to make the Roasted Tomato Soup. Few recipes are more comforting in the winter than tomato soup and yet it is also spring-and-Passover-friendly.

This recipe seemed especially intriguing because it calls for both roasted tomatoes and canned tomatoes. It is no ordinary tomato soup. And Naomi's book is no ordinary book, which is chock full of recipes that are not only perfect for Passover, but also year round. 

Here's another thing that I love about this book: the recipes are EASY, uncomplicated, accessible. There aren't a zillion steps to get to the final product. All the ingredients are easy to find. Almost everyone will have all the equipment needed to make each recipe.

User friendly.

The older I get the more I like user-friendly, easy, simple. 

I don't know how Naomi found the time to write this book. She is a personal kosher chef, she travels world wide, catering all sorts of events. She hosts her own radio show. She gives cooking demonstrations and MCs at scads of events (including Kosher Chopped).

She is everywhere and always with a big smile on her face.

Kudos to you Naomi! Mazal tov on the book.

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

pareve – yields 10 servings – freezer friendly

Growing up, I always loved tomato soup; my mum used to serve it on Sunday night at dinner. Now that I’ve grown up, I make my own version and I discovered that roasting the tomatoes deepens the flavors.

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Slice each tomato in half lengthwise; place, skin-side down, on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt.

Roast for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are caramelized; set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for a few minutes, until translucent. Add roasted tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, stock, and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to process soup for a full 3 minutes, until smooth; add salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients

  • 8 plum tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes 
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Cook’s Tip

For a dairy meal, add a handful of shredded cheese to each bowl; stir to melt cheese.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

It has been said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish.

That's okay by me! I've been to Ireland. It's gorgeous. The people are friendly, the sites are interesting, the weather is glorious, the food is awesome. What's not to like?

The potato dishes are especially good.

Like mashed potato pancakes. You absolutely cannot go wrong making these. A terrific side dish with fish or at a vegetarian dinner. But, ya know, I've had these for dinner just by themselves, topped with sunnyside eggs (and served with some grilled tomatoes) and that's a perfect meal as far as I am concerned.

 

Mashed Potato Latkes

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Golds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • Panko crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying

Wash the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Bring them to a boil in a large pan in lightly salted water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes. Mash the potatoes in a bowl using a potato masher or ricer. Add the butter and the milk and stir them in. Stir in the chives, if used, and the egg. Make flat cakes, about 1/4-inch thick out of the potato mixture. Press each side of the cake into Panko crumbs. Heat about 1/4" vegetable oil in a cast iron or other heavy heat retaining skillet over moderately high heat. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Makes about 12

Banana Bread with Dates and Figs

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Every Purim I try new hamantaschen from different bakeries. I've also made my own hamantaschen using a variety of recipes.

But so far, after years and years of buying this one and that one, my favorites are the (parve) ones I get at The Bakery, in Plainview, NY. For me, they are the enduring treats of childhood, never failing to please, never changing, even in a world where innovation is honored.

And so -- I will buy my hamantaschen this year. Old fashioned flavors: prune and apricot. At The Bakery.

Which means that for Purim, instead of creating a completely new hamantaschen recipe or even trying a new pastry recipe with old fashioned filling, I am going to bake banana bread as mishloach manot gifts.

I have a zillion recipes for banana bread. Some with streusel. Some dairy-free. Some loaded with chocolate chips, some with coconut. Some all chocolate-y. Some spicy. And on and on.

This is my most recent banana bread recipe, one I came up with while revising my mother's date-nut bread recipe. 

 

Banana Bread with Figs, Dates and Nuts

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped dried figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan. Mix the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together in a bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the shortening and sugar until well blended. Add the bananas and beat them in thoroughly. Add the eggs and beat them in thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and beat for a minute or so until the batter is well blended. Fold in the figs, dates and nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about one hour or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a cake rack to cool completely.

Makes one bread, serving 16-18

 

Buttermilk Pancake Day

One of the first newspaper food articles I ever wrote had to do with Shrove Tuesday (tomorrow, February 28th), a holiday my family doesn't celebrate, so at the time I didn't know that it is also Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), and in food circles -- Pancake Day!

Live and learn. It seems that in days gone by, when the Catholic Church imposed stricter rules during Lent, fatty items such as eggs, butter, milk and so on, were forbidden from Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, until Easter. So the day before Lent everyone tried to eat up all the fats in the house.

Hence, the eating of gras (fat) on that mardi (Tuesday).

What's a delicious, filling, welcome and wondrous way to include eggs, butter, milk and stuff?

Pancakes!

I've made all sorts of pancakes: German Apple, Oatmeal, Lemon-Cottage Cheese and others. But plain old buttermilk pancakes are simple and always fluffy and full of down home pleasure.

Maple syrup goes on top, for sure. But homemade apple sauce is a bit different, less sweet and so easy to make. I like to mix apples and pears for sauce during the winter because there are so many pear varieties available. 

Happy Pancake Day. Mardi Gras. Btw, this also makes a nice dinner on a meatless Monday.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Apple-Pear Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • butter for frying the pancakes
  • Apple-Pear Sauce

Melt the 3 tablespoons butter and set aside to cool. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In a second bowl mix the egg, buttermilk and melted, cooled butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix to blend them but do not beat vigorously. Preheat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat. Lightly butter the pan before cooking the pancakes. When the pan butter has melted and looks foamy, slowly pour about 2 tablespoons batter (for small pancakes) or more (for larger pancakes), leaving space between each pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned and bubbles form on the top. Flip the pancakes with a rigid spatula and cook for a minute or until the second side is lightly browned. Serve with Apple-Pear Sauce.

Apple-Pear Sauce

  • 4 apples
  • 3 pears
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel, core and slice the apples and pears and place the pieces in a saucepan. Add the cinnamon, stir, cover the pan and cook over low heat for 25-30 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Stir occasionally during the cooking process. Puree the ingredients in a food processor with a hand blender. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. Makes about 3-1/2 cups.

Makes 6-8 servings