Mashed Potatoes, Two Ways (dairy-free and dairy-loaded)

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In our nuclear family of 11, there are the pro-potato people and the no-potato people.

I am a top level pro-potato person.

And as you can see from the photos, so are two of my grand daughters, who helped me make some mashed potatoes for dinner a while ago.

The recipe we made was a butter-cream-cheese-sour-cream indulgence. (It could be a meal in itself!) But we’ve also made dairy-free versions. Pro-potato people like it all ways.

Are mashed potatoes on your menu for Thanksgiving? If so — or any other time — check out both recipes, dairy-loaded and dairy-free.

dairy-loaded Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, cut into chunks

  • 1/2 cup dairy sour cream

  • 1/4 cup warm milk, approximately

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Cook them in lightly salted simmering water for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan. Cook briefly over low heat to evaporate the excess moisture. Mash the potatoes with a ricer or potato masher. Add the butter and cream cheese and mash them in thoroughly until the butter and cheese are completely blended in. Add the sour cream and blend in thoroughly. Mix in enough milk for desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings

 

DAIRY-FREE Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 medium all-purpose potatoes such as Yukon Gold

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock

  • salt to taste

  • pinch or two of cayenne pepper

  • 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Set aside. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a ricer or potato masher until the lumps have disappeared. Add the vegetables and olive oil and stir them in gently. Stir in the lemon juice, stock, salt and the cayenne pepper. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.

Makes 6 servings

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

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I’ve lived most of my life in Connecticut and so I am used to cold winters, snow and all that comes with it. I don’t mind really. I actually love the change of seasons and think it makes life more interesting.

But it’s those first days of chill that take some getting used to as we transition from summer’s heat and the gradual change of temperature when autumn comes..

Those are soup days.

I recently made this Roasted Red Pepper soup. It’s exactly what’s needed when the weather turns.

Also makes a good first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 5-6 sweet red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley plus more for garnish if desired

  • 1/3 cup raw white rice

  • 5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the rice. Add the peppers and stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender.

Makes 6 servings

Applesauce Yogurt Coffee Cake with Oat Streusel

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I cooked a lot of applesauce lately. We ate some. I froze some.

There was still more, so I used some of it for cake and muffins.

This was one of the best. Crunchy on top, moist underneath, not too sweet.

Applesauce Yogurt Coffee Cake with Oat Streusel

cake:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup milk

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8” square cake pan. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside. Beat the sugar and butter together with a hand mixer or electric mixer at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the applesauce, yogurt, egg and vanilla extract and beat for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Add half the milk and beat until well blended. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Prepare the streusel and sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan 10 minutes then invert onto a cake rack. Turn the cake right side up to cool completely.

 

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Zombie, Hits the Spot on Hallowe'en

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My kids are grown now so the only thing I do these days for Hallowe’en Trick-or-Treaters is have a supply of goodies for whoever comes to my door.

I do remember the old days though, when my husband would take the kids out. Hallowe’en night was always cold. The kids didn’t want to wear coats for fear it would ruin the measly costumes I bought or made for them and they’d come back home freezing cold but happy to be loaded down with crap candy.

I would welcome them with something hot and comforting. Like hot cocoa.

Now?

No kids at home, so for us — some libation that’s, let’s say, more adult, to celebrate that I have reached the age when I don’t have to go out in the cold OR make or buy costumes OR make sure the kids get over the shivers.

For example — this Zombie cocktail, originally the prize beverage at the original Don the Beachcomber’s restaurants. Apparently the recipe for this drink was a secret for decades and someone either got the recipe or somehow duplicated it. It’s got a lot of rum plus a little of this and that and frankly, some of the ingredients were beyond what I wanted to bother with. For instance, I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of falernum (a nut and spice seasoned sugar syrup) or even grenadine (a tart fruit syrup) — though I did go to the trouble of cooking a homemade cinnamon syrup. (Btw, if you don’t have grenadine, you can use 1/2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses or 1 teaspoon pomegranate juice.)

So I more or less made up my own recipe and it is quite delicious.

In the interests of making sure my recipe works I tried it several times already.

Happy Hallowe’en.

Zombie

  • 2 ounces dark rum

  • 1 ounce light rum

  • 1/2 ounce apricot brandy

  • 1/4 cup orange juice

  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon confectioners sugar

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon syrup, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses or grenadine, optional

  • ice

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or blender, shake until well blended and pour into a tall glass filled with ice cubes.

Makes one

To make the cinnamon syrup: Place one 3-inch cinnamon stick plus 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cook at a simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy. Let stand for at least 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick. Makes 3-4 tablespoons

Curry Kosher (Chicken Wings, et al)

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Back in the day, before so many modern kosher cookbooks hit the market (including my own Hip Kosher and The Modern Kosher Kitchen), anyone who was kosher and wanted to expand home cooking beyond the traditional family favorites would buy a cookbook and adapt recipes in accordance with kashrut.

Although it’s easier now to find contemporary kosher recipes, there is still a whole world of flavors, wonderful foods and good cookbooks out there that are too good to be missed. There’s still a reason to look beyond the obvious kosher cookbook market.

Recently I came across this book: Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table at my daughter’s house. The author, Kanchan Koya, is a Harvard-trained molecular biologist who blogs about the health benefits of spices at www.spicespicebaby.com and is also a chef-creator for www.Buzzfeedtasty.com.

I found the recipes in this book irresistible. Too good to be missed. They are interesting, intriguing and globally inspired. All include one or more of 15 spices that have health benefits (which she discusses in the book).

I made several of the dishes, changing what was needed for the kosher kitchen. The original recipe here included boneless chicken — I changed it to wings because my family likes them. The sauce contained yogurt, which I changed to coconut milk plus some lemon juice, to mimic the tart dairy taste. But the spices — unchanged. They are a fabulous tasting, intoxicatingly aromatic blend.

This dish was awesome. We gobbled it up, every morsel. The flavors are vibrant, satisfying, and perfect for autumn when the weather turns and there’s a chill in the air.

Check out Koya’s website. Lots of good stuff.

Btw, I was not paid for this post nor did I receive any book or benefit. I included a photo from the book showing the original recipe (photo credit to www.wayne-wong.com) so you can see how different it looks with the chicken wings.  

 

Curry Chicken Wings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • pinch or two of cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 12-15 chicken wing parts

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, optional

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper and stir the ingredients into a paste. Stir in the coconut milk and lemon juice. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the water, cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with chopped coriander or parsley if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

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When I was a kid my mother sometimes made macaroni-and-cheese using somewhat older, hard-around-the-edges American cheese that didn’t look fit to eat. I thought it was appalling.

But she told me that these cheese wasn’t spoiled, just hard because maybe it wasn’t wrapped quite so well, and that in any event she would never make any dish for us using an ingredient that could be harmful.

Of course.

And also, why waste perfectly good cheese that’s going to melt anyway. So if it isn’t perfect to eat cold, as is, it is perfectly fine for macaroni and cheese.

And it was. She made delicious macaroni and cheese.

My children are appalled if I use an ingredient that’s past its sell-by/expiration date. I feel the same way my mother did. I would never use an ingredient that is spoiled or harmful. But some of those expiration dates are meant more as a “use them soon because the flavor or texture won’t be perfect” than “do not eat this EVER!”

So recently, I noticed that in addition to some fresh bananas turned black-spotty, my snack packages of applesauce were a month beyond their expiration date. Rather than give the applesauce to my grandkids and have my daughters feel appalled, I used it in chocolate cake, in the place of eggs.

Not only was I able to use up a perfectly good ingredient, the cake was delicious and also a good vegan choice.

So there.

Chocolate-Banana-Applesauce Cake

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 medium ripe bananas

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1/3 cup apple juice (or orange juice)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8”x8” cake pan. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set the flour mixture aside. Mash the bananas and place them in the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer and bowl). Add the sugar and mix at medium speed for a minute, or until well blended. Add the applesauce, juice, vanilla extract and melted chocolate and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until throughly blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 9 servings

Green Tomato Pie

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After weeks of enjoying red, ripe summer tomatoes in sandwiches, all sorts of tomato salads, side dishes and puff pastry pizzas, the weather and sunlight have changed and I realized that the remaining tomatoes on the vine would not ripen properly.

So, I picked all the green tomatoes.

In the past when I’ve had green tomatoes, I’ve used them for chutney a few different ways. And I’ve made Fried Green Tomato sandwiches too.

This year I was determined to make a pie. Except that green tomato pie usually calls for slices of tomatoes and my vines were loaded with little ones.

No problem. I cut them in halves and quarters, depending on how small they were, and used them that way.

In addition, many recipes for green tomato pie are layered — tomato slices and dried fruit, usually raisins.

I mixed it all up.

Perfecto! This was delicious.

I made two. Froze one for Thanksgiving.

Can be either dairy or parve.

Green Tomato Pie

  • 2 pounds green tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoon all purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Pastry for 2-crust pie

  • 2 tablespoons butter or solid coconut oil

  • 1 tablespoon milk, optional

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop tomatoes if they are large; for mini tomatoes, cut them into halves or quarters. Place the pieces in a bowl. Add the raisins, brown sugar, flour, salt, lemon peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly and to be sure the fruit is coated completely. Roll our half the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie dish. Spoon the filling into the dish. Cut the butter into small pieces and place the pieces around the top of the fruit. Roll the remaining dough, place it on top of the filling, crimp the edges to seal in the filling. Pierce the top crust in 2-3 places to allow steam to escape. For a dairy pie, dab some milk onto the top crust and crimped edge here and there, for a golden finish. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

    Makes one pie serving 8-10 people

Grandma Mac and Cheese

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All of my grandchildren think that I make the absolute most wonderful, bestest, most delicious mac and cheese. And they expect at least one mac and cheese dinner when they come for a visit.

No worries. I always have one in my freezer, just in case there is ever a surprise knock on my door from one of them.

Of course I thought my grandma made the best mac and cheese too. Hers came out of a box and the cheese part were some granules that came in a separate foil package. She was supposed to mix the granules with milk and butter I think, but she never did. She just opened the package and sprinkled it on top of the cooked elbows. 

That's the way all of us grandchildren thought mac and cheese was supposed to taste. And of course, grandma made it best.

It's the way I made it for my kids. Because that was the best.

Somewhere along the way I tasted actual homemade macaroni and cheese. It was a revelation. It was wonderful. Which is NOT to say that grandma's wasn't good. It was just a whole different dish. I still think of it with fond memories. My daughters think of it with fond memories. And, btw, they also made the packaged kind and sprinkled the dry cheesy granules on top for their children. And their children love that too and probably will have fond memories of that dish.

But when they come to visit me, it's the other kind they expect and love. The from-scratch kind.

They're also pretty clear about how they like it too: moist but not overly sauced, with a combo of American and cheddar cheeses and a crispy top. No added things like tomato or cooked vegetables. No crust -- just maybe some extra grated cheese.

This is the one:

 

Grandma Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 pound small pasta such as elbows

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups milk (preferably whole milk)

  • 14-16 ounces mixed American and cheddar cheeses plus extra for garnish, shredded

  • salt to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions, rinse under cold water, drain and set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, turn the heat to low-medium, add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk, for 2-3 minutes, but do not let the mixture become brown. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk to keep the sauce smooth. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add most of the cheeses, leaving some to top the dish as garnish. Add some salt and continue to whisk the sauce until all the cheese has melted. Add the pasta and mix to coat all the pieces. Eat as is, sprinkled with extra cheese, OR place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to crisp the top. 

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Plum Streusel Cake

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Even though it happens every year, somehow I am always sort of surprised that the Jewish holidays come in such a jumble. We celebrate one holiday on top of another and are busier than ever, observing and celebrating.

Not to mention — LOTS of food. 

I don't want to even count the calories.

And there's still Sukkot to come. 

This year I didn't make my usual Plum Torte for Rosh Hashanah. I needed a change of some of my menu items.

But I still can't resist those once a year Italian-style prune plums (President/Empress plums), so I decided to use them for this Plum Streusel Cake. It turned out to be one of my favorites during the holiday.

If you are still looking for a fabulous dessert for Sukkot -- try this one. Btw, you can make this with any variety of plum. But plum season is almost over, so do take advantage while you can.

 

Plum Streusel Cake

Streusel:

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Place the sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and mix until well blended. Pour in the butter and blend it in. Let stand for 4-5 minutes, then crumble the mixture using your fingers. Set aside.

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup milk

  • 6-8 Empress plums, sliced, pit removed (President plums, 10-12 Italian prune plums)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the streusel and set it aside. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon peel in the bowl of an electric mixer. In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir only to combine: do not overbeat. Turn the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top with the plum slices. Cover with the streusel. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the outer ring from the pan and let the cake cool completely.

Makes one cake serving 8

Best Hummus

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Despite the fact that hummus is the most popular snack and you can buy dozens of different kinds in every supermarket, I still make my own. And every time, a different recipe, always trying for perfection.

I served a version seasoned with zatar and garnished with toasted pine nuts once for an election night get-together.

I've made hummus using dried chick peas and canned.

One year the guests at my annual Break-the-Fast declared that year's hummus the best they ever tasted.

But apparently last year's Break-the-Fast version topped even that! 

So here is the recipe: easy to make, terrific for entertaining, for snacks, as a sandwich spread. Perfect all year, perfect for break-the-fast.

 

Lemony-Garlic Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas (about one pound)

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup tahini

  • 2 large cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • cayenne pepper to taste (I use 1/8 teaspoon)

  • chopped parsley, optional, about 2-3 tablespoons

  • zatar, optional

  • pita bread or chips

Drain the chickpeas but reserve the liquid. Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika, zatar, salt and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until you reach the texture you like, adding 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved chickpea liquid if you prefer it smoother and softer. Spoon into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with optional parsley and zatar. Serve with pita bread or chips.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.