Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

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This year my tomato crop was such a bonanza that we ate tomato-something almost every day!

I am not complaining. Fresh garden tomatoes are among the treasures of the food world.

But it’s getting on in the season, the weather is turning, the Jewish holidays are around the corner and hundreds of those little things will never ripen from green to red in time.

I made some chutney of course.

I like fried green tomatoes in a sandwich but the cherry tomatoes are too small for slicing, coating and frying.

So I tried making them whole.

Yes!

Crunchy outside — and when you bite in, you get spurts of sweet-tart juicy tomato.

Terrific as an hors d’oeuvre. If you have extra, little, green tomatoes, try this:

Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • lemon juice

  • 18-24 small green cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce

  • 1/2 cup matzo meal or breadcrumbs

  • salt, freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder to taste

  • vegetable oil

Combine the mayonnaise, basil and a teaspoon or two of lemon juice in a small bowl. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. Set aside. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Place the flour in a bowl, add the tomatoes and toss them around to coat them completely. Beat the egg and hot sauce together. Immerse the tomatoes into the egg and roll them around to coat each one completely. In a bowl, combine the matzo meal with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Add the egg-coated tomatoes a few at a time and roll them around to coat them completely. Place the coated tomatoes on a cake rack or other surface for at least 20 minutes, to “air dry” slightly. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan to a depth of about 2-inches. When the oil is hot enough to make a crumb sizzle quickly, add the tomatoes, a few at a time and cook them, turning them occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the tomatoes and set the on paper towels to drain. When all the tomatoes are fried, serve them with the basil mayonnaise.

Makes 6-8 servings

Chick Pea and Carrot Salad

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Of course, of course we will be slicing apples and dipping them in honey on Rosh Hashanah. (which begins at sunset on September 29th).

But chickpeas are on the menu too. In his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, the late rabbi and food authority Gil Marks wrote that “chickpeas are a traditional Rosh Hashanah food, a symbol of fertility, abundance and a wish for a well-rounded year to come.”

I usually make chickpeas into hummus, but sometimes I serve them whole, as a snack, roasted, the way my mother made them when I was growing up – a recipe called nahit. She coated the chickpeas with vegetable oil, sprinkled them with salt and paprika and baked them until crispy.

I changed her recipe somewhat -- I use olive oil, kosher salt and fresh thyme, or sometimes za’atar, as seasonings. Nahit is a delicious snack and a healthy one too: chickpeas are a good source of protein, minerals (including calcium) and fiber.

For this coming holiday though I’ll be making a chickpea and carrot salad to serve with dinner. Carrots are another symbolic ingredient of the holiday, so this recipe is a double-up of special ingredients of festive food for the holiday table. It’s a dish that can be made in advance, which makes it a good choice at such a busy time. And it is colorful too, fit for any celebration, including Break-the-Fast. 

Chick Pea and Carrot Salad

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas

  • 4 medium carrots, sliced thin

  • 1/2 chopped red onion

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • salt to taste

Rinse the chickpeas under cold running water; let drain and place in a bowl. Add the carrots, onion, parsley, mint, cumin and cayenne pepper and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to coat the ingredients evenly. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.

Makes 6 servings

Chocolate Oat Bars

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Back in the day — when I was a kid, that is — my brother and I walked home from school at 3:00 and knew it was our responsibility to practice the piano (our teacher required an hour a day), do our homework and get dinner ready.

Ours was a working Mom; she taught us how to set the table; she prepared the food and we put it in the oven at the appropriate time.

She was responsible for making sure there were cookies and milk when we got home — to feast on before said chores and stuff.

Sometimes she left us store-bought cookies. I have memories of fig bars, Hydrox and shortbread.

But mostly she baked. Butter cookies. Peanut butter cookies. Oatmeal-Raisin.

By the time I had my own children, life was very different. They took a school bus home and walked down the hill to our house. I was a working Mom, but my job as a food writer meant I worked at home.

I didn’t usually give them cookies and milk. Food styles had changed, so snacktime meant granola bars or those peanut-butter filled cheese crackers (I bought those because I mistakenly thought they were healthy). Sometimes a frozen burrito.

Looking back — I really like the milk and cookies thing. I miss those days. I miss the milk and cookies. Especially the dunking of cookies in the milk and then trying to bite off a soft milk-drenched piece before it fell into the bottom of the glass.

Cookies really are much better than frozen burritos and peanut-butter filled cheese crackers.

So, for all the parents of all the kids who are coming home from school now that the new term has begun — here are some cookies to consider for snacktime after school, before the piano practice or homework or whatever they have to do before the day is done.

Chocolate-Oat Bars

Cookie layers:

  • 1 cup butter

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

chocolate layer:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15-inch x 1-inch jelly roll pan.

To make the cookie layers: beat 1 cup of the butter with the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and well blended. Add the eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and blend them in thoroughly. Add the oats, flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Beat for 1-2 minutes or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared pan.

To make the chocolate layer, place the condensed milk, chocolate, butter and salt in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate has melted. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and raisins. Spread this mixture evenly over the cookie layer. Sprinkle with the remaining cookie crumb mixture. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool and cut into squares.

 Makes about 48

 

 

Pomegranate Chicken Wings

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I know that Labor Day is not the end of grilling season, but somehow it's a reminder that so much in our lives is about to change. In the month or so ahead, leaves turn to red and gold. School begins. There's a vague chill in the air at night. The sun sets earlier and nighttime comes sooner.

I also realize that many people continue to grill outdoors throughout the year.

I'm not one of them. If it's below 45 I don't feel like slaving over a hot grill in the cold night air.

So, knowing how way leads on to way, I am making the most of the grilltime that's left.

These wings will be on my menu soon, before I close up shop for the winter.

Fyi, you can use the glaze for other chicken parts and bake the pieces n the oven or broil them in an oven broiler. It’s also fine to use for basting a whole roasting chicken.

 

Pomegranate Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings

  • olive oil (about one tablespoon)

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate jelly

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 scallions, chopped

  • pinch or two cayenne pepper

  • salt to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Wash and dry the wings and cut them into separate pieces. Brush with olive oil and grill, turning once, for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. While the wings are cooking, mix the pomegranate jelly, orange juice, cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, scallions cayenne pepper and salt to taste until well blended. Brush this glaze on the wings and cook for another 10-12 minutes, turning the wings occasionally and brushing with remaining glaze, until crispy and fully cooked.

Makes about 24

Zucchini Bread

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When we were first married, Ed promised me 50 years. That was in 1969. We were young and 50 years seemed like a REALLY REALLY long time.

Grandparent stuff.

But here we are. A few months short of 50.

Wasn’t it yesterday that I fit into that long white dress?

We wanted to celebrate with two other couples, all close friends, who are also at 50.

But we didn’t want to have a big party. Not even an intimate dinner party for six. Although those are lovely, it seemed like the same-old, same-old. 50 years deserved something special.

So we decided to have a 150th Anniversary Afternoon Tea.

It was festive, fun and celebratory.

We started with champagne and tea sandwiches.

Then: scones, clotted cream and jams.

Finally, dessert: several kinds of cookies, Lemon Buttermilk Cake, Pumpkin Spice Cake and this: Zucchini Bread, (made with zucchinis from my garden!).

Just us 6. It was a good day.

We all talked about how amazing it is at how quickly 50 years go by.

Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup applesauce

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups grated fresh zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan. Place the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk the ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Place the brown sugar, sugar, eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fold in the zucchini. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 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 15 minutes. Invert the muffins onto the rack to cool completely.

Makes one loaf

Gluten-Free Peach Crisp

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Some summers the peaches are glorious.

And then there’s this year. I haven’t had an excellent peach or nectarine yet.

I bought a bunch a few times and they tasted ok, but not really flavorful. Some were cottony and mealy.

I used the cottony/mealy ones to make sauce — like applesauce only made with peaches (with a bit of cinnamon and a squirt of lemon juice). It was very good. We ate some and I used the rest for quickbread.

I used the sort-of-tasty ones for this peach crisp. This was perfect. Baking — plus some other stuff — brought out the best of the fruit.

And look how easy this dessert is!

Plus, it’s gluten-free, in case you need…

Gluten-Free Peach Crisp

Filling:

  • 6 ripe medium peaches

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter (margarine or solid coconut oil), cut into chunks

To make the filling: Lightly butter a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the peaches and place the pieces in the baking dish. Add the sugar, tapioca and lemon juice, toss the ingredients and let rest for 15-20 minutes. 

To make the crust: Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Place on top of the fruit. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

 

 

Blue Salad (with green): Berries and Cheese

I love blueberries and I love blue cheese, so I figured they might go together well.

They did!

In this light, refreshing summer salad.

Nice for a full lunch — add a crust of bread. Or as a first course for dinner.

I bought the blueberries and the cheese. But the greens? Right from my garden! What a joy!

Blue Salad (with green)

  • 1 head leaf lettuce or 6 cups mixed greens

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion tops

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or use avocado oil)

  • 3-4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds, optional

Tear the lettuce into smaller pieces and place them in a salad bowl. Add the blueberries, cheese and chives and toss the ingredients. Pour in the olive oil and toss the ingredients again. Add 3 tablespoons of the Balsamic vinegar, toss and taste, add more Balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve and garnish with the toasted almonds if desired.

Makes 4-6 servings

Vegetable Salad

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Light, refreshing food. That’s what we want during the summer.

Also, easy to make. And as quick as possible.

I made this vegetable salad using leftovers from the veggies we had over a couple of meals. Added some fresh tomatoes, an avocado and some herbs. Not only did I get to use up stuff from the fridge, the dish took less than 10 minutes to make.

It’s a side dish. But you can add some tofu, cheese or hard-cooked eggs and make it into a main course (or add leftover fish, meat or poultry).

Add crusty bread and it’s a sandwich filling.

Mix it into cooked penne or ziti and it becomes pasta primavera.

Use whatever vegetables you have in proportions suggested. There’s no magic here, no actual recipe that will fail if you don’t have one of the ingredients.

Vegetable Salad

  • 3 cups cooked cut up cauliflower

  • 1 cup cooked, cut up green beans

  • 1 cup cooked cut up yellow squash

  • 3-4 cut up small tomatoes

  • 1 avocado, cut into small chunks

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or use white wine vinegar)

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the cauliflower, green beans, yellow squash, tomatoes, avocado, basil and oregano in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and toss again. Pour 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the vegetables and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4-6 servings

Bulgur Wheat Varnishkes

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Tisha B’av isn’t one of the better-known Jewish holidays. I’ve heard people say “oh yeah, I think that’s when you can’t get married.” Or, “you can’t get a haircut or listen to music.”

All true, and much more, and that’s because, unlike holidays when we celebrate joyful occasions such as a new year or deliverance from Pharaoh, Tisha B’av is when observant Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. In addition, we remember the numerous times throughout history that the Jewish people were subjected to pogroms, exile and a multitude of other catastrophes. These are days that we don’t celebrate; we grieve.

Mournful times deserve respect and reflection. During the nine days leading up to the actual holiday (which begins at sundown on August 10th) many families will refrain from the usual pleasure-filled events and activities that make up our lives.

That includes getting married or getting a haircut or listening to music.

It also includes refraining from eating certain foods.

Tisha B’av is a full fast day, but during the days leading up to it many families don’t eat meat. Fish, dairy, vegetarian — is on the menu, and especially eggs and lentils, which are considered “mourner’s food.”

It’s just as well frankly. Skipping heavy meat meals during the hot weather makes good sense. It’s a whole lot smarter to eat fish, dairy and vegetarian.

Whether or not you follow the culinary guidelines during the Nine Days, this dish will do!

Anytime.

It’s my particular riff on classic kasha varnishkes. Our family really doesn’t like kasha, so I make the dish using bulgur wheat. Not only does it taste better, it’s easier to prepare and easier on the digestion.

Bulgur wheat or kasha varnishkes is usually a side dish, but it becomes a full meal if you add a fried egg or two on top.

Bulgur Wheat Varnishkes

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat

  • 1-3/4 cup water, vegetable stock (can use chicken stock)

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 6 ounces bow-tie pasta

  • 6 fried eggs

Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bulgur wheat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3-4 minutes or until lightly toasted. Pour in the water or stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often, or until the onions are soft and browned. Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Combine the bulgur wheat, pasta and onions in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Keep warm while you fry 6 eggs, sunnyside-up style.

Makes 6 servings

 

Hot and Fruity Barbecue Chicken

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Around this time of year, when BBQ season is in full gear (at least where I live), you might be in need of a new barbecue sauce.

It gets a little boring to flavor chicken and fish and whatever else you put on the grill the same way over and over.

Besides, with so much fresh, local fruit available, it’s the perfect time for a peach/nectarine/plum based sauce.

So, here one is. It’s a little jazzed up with chili pepper, but is not overly spicy.

Hot and Fruity Barbecue Sauce

  • 4-5 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled

  • 2-4 ripe plums

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 serrano pepper (or other small chili pepper), deseeded and chopped

  • 1-1/4 cups ketchup

  • 1/3 cup orange or other fruit juice

  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup honey

  

Remove the pit from the peaches, chop the flesh and place it in a bowl. Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Add it to the peaches. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute. Add the garlic and chili pepper and cook for another minute. Add the fruit, ketchup, juice, cider vinegar and honey. Stir to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Cook over low-medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened. Let cool. Puree in a food processor. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.

Makes about one quart