brunch

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

 

 

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

 

Grilled Crispy Pineapple

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Pineapple

If you’ve never tasted grilled pineapple, you’ve missed a real treat.

Cut into thick slices, it’s a fabulous side dish for dinners of grilled or roasted chicken, lamb, duck or fish.

But it has a sort of rum-like flavor, so I also think of it as a “solid cocktail.” Which makes it the perfect accompaniment to such items as grilled chicken wings and other savory nibbles. In that case, cut the large slices into cubes and skewer the chunks onto toothpicks.

OR — this dish is so versatile — top each slice with whipped cream, ice cream or sweetened mascarpone cheese (garnish with some chopped pistachios or mint) and use it as a dessert.

Any way at all — you can’t go wrong.

Grilled Pineapple

  • One whole pineapple

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, vegetable oil, melted butter or a mixture of these

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

  • sea salt

  • mint for garnish, optional

Cut the leaves off the pineapple. Remove the outer fibrous rind. Cut the peeled pineapple in slices about 3/4-inch thick. Set aside in a single layer in a pan. Heat the brown sugar, coconut oil, orange juice and orange peel in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the pineapple slices, turning the pieces to coat both sides. Let macerate for about 45 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium (or use a grill pan or the oven broiler). Grill the slices for about 4 minutes per side or until well glazed and tender, brushing occasionally with some of the liquid. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Chopped Salad with Chick Peas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

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For us, summer means salad. Not just leafy greens and tomatoes for starters to a meal. We eat bulky filling salads for dinner. Like this chopped salad, which of course could be served with other salads or as a side dish to grilled fish. But it’s also satisfying on its own, just like this. Add a crust bread and some fabulous olive oil for dipping and that’s all you need (except for dessert of course).

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 3–4 scallions, chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup tangy black olives, pitted and halved

  • 3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Pita bread or crisps, optional

Place the cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions, chick peas, cheese, parsley, and olives in a bowl and toss ingredients gently. Just before serving, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, and zatar. Pour over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Salad tastes good with Pita bread or crisps.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Apple Streusel

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My grandma made her own strudel dough. I remember how deftly she stretched and smoothed the paper-thin pastry over the kitchen table before filling it with all sorts of stuff: usually apples, tender and tart, but gently sweetened and seasoned with cinnamon. Sometimes she filled the dough with mashed potatoes bound with shmaltz-fried golden-brown onions. Like some giant knish!

Whatever was inside, those rolls baked to perfectly perfect crispy-crustedness and all was well with the world.

OY! Those were delicious days.

When she got older she bought packaged strudel dough at a Hungarian grocery near her house. She just couldn’t manage preparing this most delicate of doughs anymore.

I’ve looked for real Hungarian strudel dough but it’s difficult to find. So I made my own dough once. It was good, but not worth the work! So, when I make strudel now I use phyllo dough, which is not quite the same thing and is a terrific product, but not exactly right for strudel.

Anyway, I thought of all this because National Apple Strudel Day is Monday, June 17th. And I thought about making some, but decided to make Apple Streusel instead.

They sound almost the same, right?

And it tastes just perfectly perfect.

Apple Streusel

  • 5-6 baking type apples, peeled, cored and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • streusel

 Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup oats (any kind)

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the apple slices in a bowl. Add the flour, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon and sugar, toss the ingredients and set aside. Spoon the streusel mixture on top of the apples. Bake for 45 minutes or until crusty and golden brown.

Combine the flour, oats, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with fingers or a pastry blender, until the mixture resembles crumbs. (You can use a food processor: 24-30 short, quick pulses. If so, if you use quick oats, stir them in to the flour crumbs after pulsing.)

 Makes 8 servings

 

 

 

Banana Oat Marble Bread

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So, okay, as usual — the family was here for Mother’s Day. I bought a ton of fruit. All gone.

EXCEPT for a few bananas.

And so: Banana Bread. This one with oats and chocolate. It’s moist and gently sweet. Could do as dessert or just with some coffee as a snack. A little nosh.

Freezable too.

Banana Oat Marble Bread

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup quick oats

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 medium very ripe bananas

  • 1/4 cup fruit juice such as mango, orange or apple

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan.

Melt the chocolate and set it aside. Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt 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 and beat for 1-2 minutes to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Stir in the juice and vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the melted chocolate on top and use a knife to swirl the chocolate into the banana batter. Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool on a cake rack.

 Makes one bread serving 10-12

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Everyone who knows me or has read a few Mother’s Day posts on my blog knows we don’t celebrate the usual way. We don’t go out to a restaurant or club.

We stay home and have a cookoff.

Yes, we cook and it’s work and a mess but we have the best time ever. Everyone participates (except that some years I am just in charge of the beverages).

We choose a theme, form into teams and each team chooses a recipe. I buy the ingredients a couple of days before and then, on Sunday, my two daughters, their husbands, my husband and my grandkids all get cooking.

Last year our theme was dips. I prepared a tropical salsa.

One year it was chocolate chip cookies.

We’ve done tomato sauce, eggs and so on.

This year we decided on PIE. Each team will make some sort of pie.

There are no rules. They interpret the word (pie) however they wish.

So — apple pie? Sure!

Pizza pie? Of course!

Pot pie? Yes!

The only limit: this will be a vegetarian/dairy meal. So, no beef pot pie.

But — quiche? Why not — it’s a type of open face pie, right?

How about a potato/olive/onion empanada? YUM!

Cabbage pastie? ok!

I am thinking of this though: roasted vegetable galette. I make it with pie dough so it qualifies, doesn’t it?

A good Meatless Monday (or any other day) choice.

 

Roasted Vegetable Galette

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallion tops

  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced

  • 4-5 plum tomatoes, sliced

  • 1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • salt to taste

  • 1 bunch spinach, washed and dried

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese

  • 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 egg, beaten, optional

For the crust: mix the flour, salt and chives together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut the fat into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender or by processing on pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Gradually add 3 tablespoons milk and mix to form a soft dough, adding more milk as needed. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a circle about 12-13 inches in diameter (about 1/8-inch thick) and transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash, tomato and Portobello slices on the baking sheet and brush on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for 20-22 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain any liquid, chop the spinach coarsely and set aside.

Reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees. Scatter the circle of dough with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, leaving a border of about 1-1/2 inches. Mix the vegetables together with the basil and place over the cheese. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese on top. Fold the dough over the vegetables but not completely; leave the center open, with 7-8 inches of the vegetables showing. Pleat the dough at the edge to give the galette a rustic look. Beat the egg and brush it onto the dough for a glazed look, if desired. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Makes 8 servings

Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes and Cheese

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Has pizza become the official post Passover food?

I don’t remember that being the case when I was growing up. After Passover, we were full-on with bagels, challah and sandwiches.

So when did this well-loved dish become so extraordinarily popular?

In the first half of the 20th century there were only a few pizza parlors in the United States, all in urban centers such as New York and Boston (and in New Haven, where, in 1925, Frank Pepe set up the still-famous Pepe’s Pizza). But most of the clientele were folks in the local Italian immigrant community.

Pizza became a “thing” in the late 1940s, spurred on by former GIs who had been to Italy during World War II and tasted it there and didn’t want to do without.

Can you blame them?

Pizza has since become an iconic American dish, with toppings way way beyond the classic, original Italian Marhgerite.

We have homemade pizza post Passover, because why not!

Also, when we want a meatless meal, because why not!

For Shavuot, the “dairy” holiday, because why not!

As an hors d’oeuvre for a dairy or fish dinner, because why not?

Pizza with Spinach and Eggs 

  • 1 pizza crust (about 10-inches)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and dried (about 6 ounces)

  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, sliced

  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded or chopped

  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the crust on a pizza stone or lightly oiled pizza pan or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the spinach and cook for 3–5 minutes or until wilted and all the liquid has evaporated from the pan. If necessary, press the spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Spread the spinach evenly on top of the crust. Place the tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano. Drizzle with remaining half tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust is beginning to brown.

 Makes 2 servings

 

 

 

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

People sometimes laugh at me because we are a year-round matzo family, year-round matzo-brei family.

I mean -- when something is delicious, why wait for Passover?

On the other hand, when Passover comes, I like to branch out from the usual matzo-brei breakfasts -- for instance, with pancakes like these, which are rich and holiday-festive, and also substantial enough for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. 

 

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

  • 1 cup cottage cheese

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or one tablespoon grated orange peel

  • 1/2 cup matzo cake meal

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon potato starch

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • butter for frying

In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon peel and whisk together until well blended. In a second bowl combine the cake meal, sugar, potato starch, cinnamon and salt. Spoon the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the cake meal and whisk until the batter is smooth and uniform. Fold in raisins, if used.

Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add batter by heaping tablespoonsful and cook for 1-2 minutes or so until browned on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a minute or so on the second side or until lightly browned. Add more butter to the pan as needed to prevent sticking.

Makes about 16