kosher

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

 

 

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

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You know that famous Plum Torte so many of us bake for Rosh Hashanah? I decided to use it for a light, summery coffee cake.

Sort of. I replaced the plums (not yet available anyway) with fresh seasonal blueberries.

I gave it a bit of enrichment by adding some yogurt (dairy sour cream would be fine too) and a splash of orange (by way of peel) because the citrus pairs so well with blueberries.

Voila! A terrific, easy, more-appropriate-for-summer dessert. July 4th? Sure. Picnic? Sure. Any time at all.

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup plus one teaspoon sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt

  • 1 pint blueberries

  • lemon juice (about one tablespoon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Mix the flour, orange peel, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix briefly to blend ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for a minute or two at medium speed until a thick batter has formed. Add the eggs and yogurt and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool.

Makes 8 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.

 

Sauteed Strawberry Strawberry Shortcake

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My birthday is in a few days and usually we get together with the kids and grandkids to celebrate at my house. There’s always an apple pie for dessert at some point because I prefer homemade apple pie to birthday cake. And I always have apple pies in the freezer.

But this is an unusual year for our family: graduation and bat mitzvah celebrations, along with several birthdays, Father’s Day and so on — and so — no birthday get-together at my place.

(Actually, at some point during the week I will invite my sister-in-law Eileen and brother Jeff — and I’ll take out some pie for us to enjoy.)

In the meantime, for the two of us, I will celebrate with individual strawberry shortcakes. I made the biscuits already (they’re frozen). Whipped cream takes about 2 minutes in the mixer. I am hoping to find great strawberries — they are in season, so it should be easy.

Last week I actually couldn’t find wonderful berries, even at the Farmer’s market.

So I bought what they had and gave them a quick saute.

Which is what I will do again if the berries aren’t perfect.

This was quite delicious. Here’s the recipe, for strawberry shortcake when you can’t get the best berries.

Sauteed Strawberry Shortcake 

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 4 cups cut up fresh strawberries

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 tablespoons orange flavored brandy or rum

  • Shortcake biscuits

  • Sweetened whipped cream

  • Fresh mint for garnish

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the berries, stir to coat them with butter and cook for one minute. Sprinkle with the sugar, toss and pour in the brandy. Stir, cook briefly and set aside. Cut the biscuits in half. Place the bottoms of each on dessert plates. Layer with some of the berries and some of the whipped cream (reserve some whipped cream for the top). Cover with the biscuit tops. Garnish with a blob of whipped cream and some mint leaves.

 Makes 8 servings

 

Biscuits 

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup cake flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel, optional

  • 8 tablespoons cold butter

  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Mix the flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the lemon peel, if used. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or use a food processor on pulse). Pour in the buttermilk and mix until you can form a soft ball of dough. The dough will be slightly sticky. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead a couple of times. Roll the dough gently to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out circles with a doughnut cutter or the bottom of a glass. Place the circles on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until they have risen and are lightly browned.

 Makes 8

Blueberry Crisp with Oat-Streusel Crust

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Where I live (Connecticut), Memorial Day Weekend is the “official” start of outdoor grill/BBQ season. Sure, some people use their grills all year, even in the depth of winter. And some start around April. But the weather has been crummy, so — no grilling for me until this weekend.

I need a nice, summery dessert for after, right?

Here it is. Blueberry Crisp. Really simple and easy. Oaty, lightly sweet and with a gently crispy crust. You can make it dairy or parve. Goes well after anything you might have grilled for dinner. Good stuff for Father’s Day too. And July 4th.

Notice that there isn’t too much sugar in either the filling or the crust. Doesn’t need more.

Blueberry Crisp with Oat-Streusel Crust

Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Crust:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup quick cooking or rolled oats

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, vegetable shortening or margarine, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and flour in a baking dish. Set aside. Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal (or pulse in a food processor). Place the oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown.

Makes 4-6 servings.