break-the-fast

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.

Spinach Gnocchi for Break-the-Fast

We never have a traditional smoked fish break-the-fast because one of my daughters is allergic to fish. Instead, we have a vegetarian-dairy feast. My friend Susan brings her famous, not-to-be-missed kugel. Another friend brings dessert, although I usually also make rugelach

The rest is up to me. For years I've served Mujadarah, either made with brown rice or bulgur wheat. Other usuals are Spinach Pie, a tomato salad of some sort, egg salad and hummus.

But this year I'm not doing the Spinach Pie.

No particular reason other than it's time for a change.

But not a huge change.

I decided to make Spinach Gnocchi. It's already in the freezer, ready-to-bake.

Spinach Gnocchi

  • 2 10-ounce packages thawed, frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Butter a baking dish. Squeeze the spinach to extract as much liquid as possible. Place the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes. Spoon the spinach mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, the 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. With floured hands, shape the spinach mixture into balls about 1-1/2-inches in diameter. Gently drop the balls into the water. Keep the water at a simmer. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until the balls rise to the top and look fluffy. Lift the balls with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to dry slightly. Place the balls in the buttered baking dish. Drizzle them with melted butter and the 1/2-cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly crisped.

Makes 24

 

Kaniwa Mujadarah

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Everyone who knows me knows that Mujadarah is among my favorite things to eat. I serve it for my annual break-the-fast. I serve it anytime I have lots of people over for a celebration, like a birthday or a welcome-to-the-world party for a new grandchild.

I've made Mujadarah using brown rice. I've made it with bulgur wheat

Sometimes I add mushrooms (there's a recipe for that in my book, Hip Kosher).

Recently, the good folks at Pereg sent me a bag of Kaniwa. 

What?

Have you heard of kaniwa?

It's similar to quinoa (in fact some call it baby quinoa), but the seeds are much smaller (about the same size as poppy seeds). It is a complete protein, it's gluten-free and high in iron. That is a big big deal when you are looking for nourishing, meat-free recipes.

Unlike quinoa, kaniwa does not have a coating of saponin on the surface, which means it does not have the somewhat bitter, somewhat soapy taste that some find objectionable in quinoa. You don't have to rinse kaniwa (in fact, if you do, these teeny things will fall right through the holes in the strainer!).

I've actually cooked with kaniwa. A while ago I posted a recipe for Kaniwa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes. It's a terrific base for salads. A nice soup filler. You can sweeten it and eat it like cereal, for breakfast.

But me, with my mujadarah love? I made some kaniwa mujadarah! Look how beautiful this is! Perfect dish for a meatless Monday.

 

Kaniwa Mujadarah

  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • water or stock
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup kaniwa
  • 1-3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, cut up
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • salt to taste

Place the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the lentils for about 25 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the lentils and set them aside. While the lentils are cooking, place the carrots in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the carrots for 5-6 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the carrots and set them aside. Place the kaniwa in a saucepan, cover with 1-3/4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for about 15-18 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. While the kaniwa is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the onions and mushrooms are soft and brown. Place the lentils, carrots, kaniwa and most of the onion-mushroom mixture in a bowl. Stir gently to distribute the ingredients evenly. Stir in the remaining olive oil. Add the parsley and cumin, if desired and toss the ingredients. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Top with the remaining onion-mushroom mixture.

If serving at a later time, cover the pan and reheat in a covered baking dish in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

GIANT Knish

Anyone who reads this blog knows that potatoes are my go-to comfort food. My magic medicine for when I'm stressed out.

So I'm definitely going to need something potato tonight when Ed and I have our debate-watch group over. (By the time this election is over my potato consumption for the year will be way over the limit.)

So I made a stuffed potato roll. Actually mashed potatoes with caramelized onions wrapped inside puff pastry.

Actually, a giant knish.

And guess what!? This dish is absolutely perfect for my Vegetarian Break-the-Fast, so I made one for that occasion too!

And also guess what!? It's also perfect for Meatless Monday. And also for Sukkot, when it is traditional to serve stuffed foods.

All in all, this is a big, big winner for whenever. Really. Whenever.

 

Giant Knish

  • 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets frozen parve puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a flat baking sheet. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash the potatoes until they are fluffy. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the egg, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix ingredients. Let cool. Using one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll the dough slightly thinner. Place half the potato filling down the center of the dough, using up the middle 1/3 of the dough and leaving a one-inch margin at both of the short ends. Enclose the filling: place one side of the dough over the filling, then place the other side of the dough over the filling. Press the short ends to enclose the filling at the top and bottom. Place the roll, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the dough feels cool and firm. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut with a serrated knife. 

 

Makes 2 rolls, each serving 6 people

 

 

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

Turte

If you follow this blog you know I am not a traditional cook. Most of the time I like to experiment and make new recipes and new versions of old recipes. 
 But every once in a while when I am feeling nostalgic or I’m too busy or tired. 
 Or it’s food for a holiday. On holidays I might make some new dishes, but always include the traditional tried-and-true also. 
 I guess that’s part of the nostalgia thing. But it’s more too. Cooking treasured family recipes is a way of carrying on, of bringing my heritage and memories into the present and, hopefully, into the future. 
 So, for our annual Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast I am making Turte, a Romanian specialty from my grandma. This dessert is similar to Baklava but made with almonds instead of walnuts and sugar syrup instead of honey. 
 I never actually did any research about this dessert until recently, when I discovered that it is a specialty particular to the eastern part of Romania called Moldavia (the part where my grandparents were born). And apparently it is a Christmas and Easter dish. 
 For us, a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast dish! 
 There are many versions. You can make it with thin pancakes or thin, homemade pitas. My grandmother made her own strudel dough. 
 I use packaged phyllo pastry. Much easier. 
 This is such a rich and wonderful treat, sweet and sticky and crumbly and tender all at once. My family recipe included cinnamon. I added some grated orange peel, which was a refreshing addition. 

  
  Turte  
     
  1/2 pound phyllo dough  
  1/2 pound melted butter  
  cookie or cake crumbs or ground nuts  
  1-1/2 cups finely chopped almonds  
  2 tablespoons sugar  
  2-3 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel  
  1 teaspoon cinnamon  
  1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg  
     
  syrup:  
     
  3/4 cup sugar  
  3/4 cup water  
  1 teaspoon orange flower water or 2 tablespoons orange-flavored brandy or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract  
     
  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Layer half the phyllo dough in an 8” or 9” square baking pan, brushing melted butter and scattering crumbs between layers. In a bowl, combine the chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place the nut mixture over the layers of dough. Cover the nut mixture with the remaining phyllo leaves, separating them as above. Brush the top layer with melted butter.   Score the dough with the tip of a sharp knife, into squares or rectangles. Bake for 20 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.  
    Make the syrup by combining the 3/4 cup sugar and the water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring only until sugar dissolves.      Cook at a boil for a few minutes until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of cream. Do not let it become too thick or caramel colored. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange flavoring. Pour the syrup over the warm cake. Let the cake cool and cut it into pieces where you have scored the top.      Makes 8-12 servings  

   

If you follow this blog you know I am not a traditional cook. Most of the time I like to experiment and make new recipes and new versions of old recipes.

But every once in a while when I am feeling nostalgic or I’m too busy or tired.

Or it’s food for a holiday. On holidays I might make some new dishes, but always include the traditional tried-and-true also.

I guess that’s part of the nostalgia thing. But it’s more too. Cooking treasured family recipes is a way of carrying on, of bringing my heritage and memories into the present and, hopefully, into the future.

So, for our annual Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast I am making Turte, a Romanian specialty from my grandma. This dessert is similar to Baklava but made with almonds instead of walnuts and sugar syrup instead of honey.

I never actually did any research about this dessert until recently, when I discovered that it is a specialty particular to the eastern part of Romania called Moldavia (the part where my grandparents were born). And apparently it is a Christmas and Easter dish.

For us, a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast dish!

There are many versions. You can make it with thin pancakes or thin, homemade pitas. My grandmother made her own strudel dough.

I use packaged phyllo pastry. Much easier.

This is such a rich and wonderful treat, sweet and sticky and crumbly and tender all at once. My family recipe included cinnamon. I added some grated orange peel, which was a refreshing addition.

Turte

 

1/2 pound phyllo dough

1/2 pound melted butter

cookie or cake crumbs or ground nuts

1-1/2 cups finely chopped almonds

2 tablespoons sugar

2-3 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

syrup:

 

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1 teaspoon orange flower water or 2 tablespoons orange-flavored brandy or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Layer half the phyllo dough in an 8” or 9” square baking pan, brushing melted butter and scattering crumbs between layers. In a bowl, combine the chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons sugar, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place the nut mixture over the layers of dough. Cover the nut mixture with the remaining phyllo leaves, separating them as above. Brush the top layer with melted butter. Score the dough with the tip of a sharp knife, into squares or rectangles. Bake for 20 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Make the syrup by combining the 3/4 cup sugar and the water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring only until sugar dissolves.  Cook at a boil for a few minutes until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of cream. Do not let it become too thick or caramel colored. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange flavoring. Pour the syrup over the warm cake. Let the cake cool and cut it into pieces where you have scored the top.  Makes 8-12 servings

 

Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Rugelach

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone that I already made these and they are hidden in baggies in my freezer downstairs.  Because if my family knows that there are some of these already baked they will take one — just a nibble, just  ONE,  and then another and then another — straight out of the freezer. Or thawed. Or rewarmed. Any way at all.  Is there anyone who doesn’t love Rugelach?  Well, not in my family.  Which is why they are hidden, because nobody eats just one. It is impossible. And I need them for my annual Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast.         Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Rugelach   1/2 pound butter  1/2 pound cream cheese  4 cups flour, sifted  3/4 teaspoon salt  1 cup dairy sour cream  filling     Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer at medium speed until smooth and uniform. Add the flour and salt, blend them in slightly, but not completely. Add the sour cream and mix until a soft, smooth uniform dough has formed. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Wrap each piece and refrigerate for 6 hours or until thoroughly firm and cold. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/4-inch thick. Spread equal amounts of filling on top. Cut each circle into 8-10 wedges. Roll the wedges from the wide end to the pointy end. Curve slightly to form a crescent. Tuck in the pointy end so it is on the bottom. Place the crescents on an ungreased cookie sheet. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes before baking. Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 48-60  NOTE: you may roll each circle jelly-roll style and cut the rolls into Rugelach cylinders.   Chocolate-Raspberry Filling:   6 tablespoons melted butter  1 cup raspberry jam  8 ounces finely chopped chocolate  1/2 chopped finely chopped nuts, optional     Brush each dough circle with some of the melted butter; spread the raspberry jam on top, scatter the chocolate over the jam, scatter the nuts over the chocolate.      Cinnamon-Raisin-Nut Filling:   6 tablespoons melted butter  3/4 cup sugar  1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon  3/4 cup raisins  1/2 cup finely chopped nuts  Brush each circle with some of the melted butter. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle each circle with equal amounts of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter with raisins and nuts.                

Shhhh, don’t tell anyone that I already made these and they are hidden in baggies in my freezer downstairs.

Because if my family knows that there are some of these already baked they will take one — just a nibble, just ONE, and then another and then another — straight out of the freezer. Or thawed. Or rewarmed. Any way at all.

Is there anyone who doesn’t love Rugelach?

Well, not in my family.

Which is why they are hidden, because nobody eats just one. It is impossible. And I need them for my annual Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast.   

 

Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Rugelach

1/2 pound butter

1/2 pound cream cheese

4 cups flour, sifted

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup dairy sour cream

filling

 

Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer at medium speed until smooth and uniform. Add the flour and salt, blend them in slightly, but not completely. Add the sour cream and mix until a soft, smooth uniform dough has formed. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Wrap each piece and refrigerate for 6 hours or until thoroughly firm and cold. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface about 1/4-inch thick. Spread equal amounts of filling on top. Cut each circle into 8-10 wedges. Roll the wedges from the wide end to the pointy end. Curve slightly to form a crescent. Tuck in the pointy end so it is on the bottom. Place the crescents on an ungreased cookie sheet. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes before baking. Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 48-60

NOTE: you may roll each circle jelly-roll style and cut the rolls into Rugelach cylinders.

Chocolate-Raspberry Filling:

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup raspberry jam

8 ounces finely chopped chocolate

1/2 chopped finely chopped nuts, optional

 

Brush each dough circle with some of the melted butter; spread the raspberry jam on top, scatter the chocolate over the jam, scatter the nuts over the chocolate.

 

Cinnamon-Raisin-Nut Filling:

6 tablespoons melted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Brush each circle with some of the melted butter. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle each circle with equal amounts of the cinnamon sugar. Scatter with raisins and nuts.