Archive | January, 2011

I’m a PTA Mom.

30 Jan

Seriously, y’all.  I think I’m a PTA mom today.  I got up early (9am HA!) and went to work on desserts for my work holiday party.  I know what you’re thinking.  What holiday are you celebrating at the end of January.  It’s hard to have any sort of holiday party in or around December at a restaurant.  It’s too busy to close early in December.  What usually happens is the party gets moved to a slower, calmer time…ie the end of January.  Somehow?  I’ve become the dessert guy.  I totally love that, but this morning?  I got a little out of control.  Make that a little over inspired.  I made cake balls AND a root beer bundt cake.  Can somebody adopt a Kindergartener for me?  I need somebody to make desserts for.  It might as well be a Kindergarten class.  You got a bake sale?  I’m a couple of cats away from being your crazy neighbor lady today.

I’ll share the bundt cake recipe with you today.  I’ll share the cake balls with you soon.  That’ll be a very special JewHungry post.  They’re delicious and amazing and deserve their own post.  Be patient my friends!  Besides, you aren’t a crazy cat lady like me…you’re not going to make a bundt AND cake balls today.  Right?

Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?  Well, kinda.  There was a time when I was afraid of the kitchen.  The way I got myself to start using my oven for more than CD storage was by making desserts.  Desserts are pretty.  I like pretty things…so I started making them.  Not to mention, people love it when you bring over a dessert.  They’re not that complicated (usually) and everybody needs a little cake in their life.

Root Beer Bundt Cake!

The Cake:

2 cups root beer (DON’T USE DIET!!!)

1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small slices

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

Root Beer Fudge Frosting:

2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao) melted and cooled slightly

1 stick unsalted butter softened

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup root beer

2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

How do I make it???

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray…or you could do the whole butter and flour method making sure to knock out the excess flour.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter s melted.  Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved.  remove from the heat and let cool.

In  a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined.  Please please PLEASE! make sure that your cocoa mixture is cooled enough.  If it isn’t?  You’ll end up with scrambled eggs in a chocolate sauce.  That ain’t right or tasty…so be patient!  THEN…gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture.  the batter will be slightly lumpy–don’t overbeat it or you’ll make yourself a tough cake.

Pour your batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes…when it’s done…test it with a sharp knife inserted into the cake, when the knife comes out clean…you know you’re done.  Please make sure to let your cake cool all the way before you remove it from the bundt pan.  My cake came out a little ugly today because I’m maybe kinda sorta impatient…so I turned it over too early and the top of my cake stayed in the bundt pan.  I had to give it a little plastic surgery with some carefully placed frosting.  I’m hoping that it tastes so good that nobody notices that she’s ugly.  You should also gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan before you turn it over onto a plate…that helps her come out all pretty too!

The Frosting?

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.  Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the bundt in a thick layer.  Don’t try to make it look too pretty.  It’s a bundt afterall…it’s ok to be creative with the frosting.  Let the frosting set before serving…

Leftovers

30 Jan

So the tebit turned out pretty decently actually.  Here’s the thing, how in the world are you supposed to NOT have mushy rice when its been in a Crockpot for 6 hours?!  Anyway, because my husband grew up with any kind of Osem or Lipton kosher soup mix as flavoring, he has a need for salt that is a little unhealthy so I tend to not use too much salt when I cook but this could have used just a little more flavoring.  We will, however, have leftover tebit FOR DAYS.  I mean this is like apocalypse food.  What was I thinking? I cooked WAY too much of it and our sweet new friends who came over for dinner ate some of almost everything, but she is a tiny little Brazilian so I think the good ol’ Ashkenazi shabbat may have been too much for her.  I mean, who doesn’t eat corn/pickle salad (which, by the by, was DELICIOUS!)  I also ended up making a quick little mushroom dish as my mushrooms were a solid 12 hours away from being unusable and it was the perfect side.  It went a little something like this:

1 carton of sliced button mushrooms
3 shallots, sliced into rings
1 clove of garlic, chopped
Margarine (for sautéing, use to your discretion) – I use Earth Balance
Handful of bread crumbs
Chopped parsley for garnish

Sautee sliced mushrooms for 1 minute until soft.  Add garlic and shallots and sautee for another 2 -3 minutes until aroma is so tasty you want to reach in and eat right then.  Turn off eat and add bread crumbs to the skillet, stir until well combined.  Pour into serving dish and garnish with parsley.

I also made my standard “Oh crap, I have to make shabbat lunch as well” bean and beer chili, which is delicious and nutritious!

Bean and Beer Chili (adapted from Rachael Ray’s Veggie Chili)

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions – chopped
3 cloves of garlic – chopped
1 green pepper – finely chopped (I hate big pepper chunks in my chili/soup)
1 bottle wheat beer of your choosing (this week I used Key West Sunset Ale)
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
Cumin
Cayenne pepper
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (I will soon devote an entire post to Frank’s, which I think is the end-all-be-all of hot sauces)
2 green onions – chopped
Sour Cream
Sharp Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese – shredded

Heat oil in large stock pot on medium heat.  Sautee onions until translucent.  Add green pepper and garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes or until green peppers are soft. De-glaze pot with full can of beer (I recommend sampling the beer first, you know, to make sure its good and stuff).  The alcohol will burn out and you will be left with a nice, hearty beer flavor.  If you are not interested in the ‘beer’ portion of this chili, you can omit and use vegetable broth instead.  Add all your beans, the corn and can of diced tomatoes.  Season with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper making sure to taste as you go and adjust; remembering of course that you can always add but taking away is a whole other story.  Finally, add some Frank’s to help dial-up the heat to your liking.  Let simmer on low for about 30 minutes so beans cook.  Top with shredded cheese, dollop of sour cream and green onions and enjoy hot!

(pictures, left to right: Tebit in the bag, zucchini kugel, one big happy family of shabbat meals)

Must kosher folks usually go dairy for shabbat lunch, or really any lunch for that matter, so you don’t run the risk of boxing yourself in to having to wait 3 – 6 hours to digest, as the halakha calls for, when eating meat (the hours you wait usually depend upon your family tradition.  My husband grew up waiting 6, which is kind of absurd so I wait 4 to 5.  Also, to be fair, I’m pretty sure the laws of waiting are not from the Torah but actually Rabbinic) for so the chili is a nice way to get some protein but not box yourself in from having a nice little midday snack of well, anything dairy related.  However,  we didn’t even end up eating the chili for lunch as we were invited by a very sweet couple who my husband met in shul that morning so we ended up eating good ol’ Ashkenazi cholent and since I still don’t really eat red meat it was various salads and the potatoes from the cholent for me.  But it was still a really lovely lunch and it’s always nice to meet new people so, a lovely shabbat was had by all!

And now for Sunday . . .

It’s in the bag

28 Jan

No literally, the water is in the bag.  I ended up putting it right on in there (after a call to both mom and sister-in-law).  It smells delicious, but who knows.  So, in case the tebit doesn’t work out, here’s what’s on the rest of the shabbat dinner menu for the evening:

Zucchini kugel (pareve, which, of course, is the original vegan):

8 – 10 zucchini
5 large Vidalia onions
2 – 3  tbsp spoons vegetable oil
4 extra large eggs
4 heaping tbsp spoons flour
Spice of your choosing (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute but the old school way is to use onion soup mix)
Salt and pepper to taste

Thinly slice zucchini in round slices and then into halves (or you can save yourself the trouble and shred them to pieces in your food processor).  Slice onions into half rings.  Saute onions in oil then add zucchini and saute until soft.  Cool zucchini and onion mixture completely.  When cooled, add remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.  Pour into 9×13 pan and bake for roughly an hour at 350 F or until golden brown.

Corn Salad

Ingredients for salad:
3 cups corn (from the cob or can)
1 cucumber peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, cubed
1 can mushrooms (this is really the one and only time I actually use mushrooms from the can)
4 dill pickles, cubed
Fresh dill, chopped

Dressing:
3 tbsp. mayo
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine salad ingredients into a bowl.  At least 3 hours before serving, mix the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Chill in fridge.   Sprinkle with dill just before serving.

There will also be a green leaf salad of someone concoction so that’s the full menu.  Now if only we had kitchen chairs to sit on while eating deliciously planned meal . . .

Shabbat shlaom ya’ll!

life changing tuna

28 Jan

It’s a gorgeous Chicago day.  Our apartment has enormous picture windows that look out and down on our street.  The sun is shining.  It looks amazing!  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this project.  This is my new reason to get out of bed!  I mean, I’d run outside and dance in the streets if it weren’t 26 degrees.  That’s the problem with Chicago.  You look out there at the sunshiny day and you get excited.  You think, well, I’m going to put on my running shorts and go for a run or maybe I’ll just stand out there in the sun.  Then you open the door and realize you’d be crazy to do anything but go back inside and turn on The Gayle King show and have a cup of hot cocoa.  It’s cold, y’all!

So, I’m sittin’ here having my usual Shabbat dilemma.  I’ve been working on conversion for a while.  I took a conversion class.  I’m meeting with a Rabbi (terribly infrequently).  Here we are at Friday again and guess what I’ll be going tonight?  I’ll be selling cheeseburgers in the suburbs.  I know.  I KNOW!  I’ve been a little frustrated about the situation for a while.  The trouble is?  When you quit your job and become a waiter?  You’re working Friday nights or you’re living on cheese and crackers.  Cheese and crackers that you borrow from your friends.  Friday night is a big money night.  Again…totally against the whole idea of Shabbat.  BUT!  I have to live.  Living is pretty complicated.

My current solution?  I’m going to light the candles, make some tuna salad and take a moment and think about what I’m most thankful for.  Yes, yours truly, Mr. Cynical is going to take a few minutes and just sit in gratitude.  Maybe you’re having a hard time doing everything the right way too?  Then join me in doing what you can, how you can.  First?  You should make some delicious tuna salad.  You gotta eat!

Ingredients:

Tuna (I use two 2.6 oz packets…it tastes better than the canned stuff)

Eggs  (I use 4 eggs…but only maybe 1 yolk)

Dill Pickle Relish  (as much or as little as you like)

Onion (I use a small red onion.  I LOVE onion.  If you don’t?  What you’re really looking for is crunch)

Mayonnaise (Hellman’s…it’s my fav)

Salt, Black Pepper, Brown Mustard, Louisiana Hot Sauce  (just a dash or two of each to add flavor)

Boil your eggs.  When they’re ready let them cool and then chop them up in small pieces.  Again…I leave out some of the yolks.  It helps me to believe that I’m doing something healthy.  Throw these into a small bowl with your tuna.  Add your dill relish (a couple of table spoons?).  Throw in your chopped onion or some such crunchy thing.  Toss in your mayo.  I crack some black pepper over the mixture and squeeze in my brown mustard and a few dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  Stir all of this up until it’s mixed well and you’re done.  It’s a quick one.

I’m sorry that nothing is real specific.  I’ve been making this stuff since college and I just sort of mix it around and have no idea how much of anything I’m throwing together.  You can’t really mess it up.  Add what you like…leave out what you don’t.  If you hate onions AND celery?  Try chopping up an apple and throwing that in instead.  There are no rules here!

Shalom!

Oh no they di’n’t.

28 Jan

OK, see if you notice what’s missing:

Tebit: Iraqi Jewish Shabbat Food (Meat)

6 -8 pcs chicken legs and/or thighs
2 c. brown rice
4-5 c. water (to cover)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/3 c. pine nuts
1 -1/2 T. cardamom
1-1/2 T. cumin
2 medium onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Brown the onions, add pine nuts and stir 1 minute, then add diced tomatoes and rice.  Rub chicken pieces with spices, salt and pepper.  Put chicken, mixed with onion, tomato, and rice mixture, in a turkey oven bag.  (The bag should be closed  but with small holes on top).  Put the bag into a crockpot overnight (or on a tray in the over for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, then lower the heat to 200 degrees F and leave overnight).  Set the Crockpot to start on “high” and then lower heat for overnight.  Yield: 6 servings.  You may use a whole uncut chicken and stuff it with the tomato/rice mixture then put it in the turkey over bag.  You may also use any chicken pieces you wish to use, white or dark.

Ok, see it!?  WHERE DO I PUT THE WATER!?  Oy va voy.  I got the whole thing together, its in the bag (and now in the refrigerator and about to put in the Crockpot) but where in the heck do I put the water?!  In the bag with everything?! In the Crockpot and then the bag of goods in the water!? AHH!!?!

Low Country Cookies.

28 Jan

You ain’t never lied, Whit!  When I read Julie & Julia I was pissed!  I thought…wait a sec.  A frustrated actor who is searching for meaning in her life while working a lame, dead-end job?  What?  Is this a joke?  I’m not going to lie.  It was like the “Bitch Stole My Look” section of Fashion Police with Joan Rivers.  I was real, real jealous.  Julia obviously looked way better in the dress than I did.  But…what do ya do?  You keep lookin’ for a creative outlet.  You buddy up.  You create a blog with a friend and you move on.  So…here I am.

I’ve been a little nervous to start our little cooking/blog extravaganza.  I’ve been sorta kinda eating Kosher.  I don’t know everything.  I might make a mistake.  What if I do it wrong?  What if I upset people.  What if…what if…what if.  I’ve decided to just go with it.  If I’m not perfectly Kosh?  You’ll tell me.  We’ll all learn together.  Awesome, right?  I’ll give myself the tiniest of breaks, and so will you.  Right?  More than anything?  I’ve been trying to prepare more meals at home.  You learn to cook by cooking, not ordering Thai every night.

Deep Breath.

I’ve decided to kick off my first food post in very backwards kind of way.  I love baking.  I heart desserts.  Anybody can make a chicken.  Well, except for me.  Ha!  (maybe that’s the next thing I need to explore?)  How about I start at the end of the meal and give you a tasty dessert?  I’m obsessed with Southern Food.  I love it.  I went to a dinner at a friend’s house last night where Jambalaya was the main event.  I started diggin’ around on the internet trying to figure out a Southern dessert that wasn’t Red Velvet Cake.  I found one.  Now…it’s super dairy…which maybe shouldn’t come right after our chicken jambalaya…but…you win some…you lose some.

LOW COUNTRY COOKIES

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1 (16-ounce) box graham crackers
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup or 3 (1/2-ounce) cans shredded coconut

Topping:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

For the filling: Line a 13 by 9-inch pan with whole graham crackers.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add sugar. Beat the egg and milk together; add to butter mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add the nuts, coconut, and 1 cup graham cracker crumbs. Pour over the crackers in the pan. Cover with another layer of whole graham crackers.

For the topping: Beat all the ingredients together and spread over top layer of crackers.

Chill. Cut into squares.

They’re amazing.  You’ll love them.  The whole thing takes about an hour…and I’m slow.  You can probably make them in about 30 minutes.  Also?  You can use any nut.  The recipe calls for pecans but I used walnuts because I had a bag at home.  Y’all know I ain’t tryin’ to spend all my money on a bag of pecans…they’re expensive.  Also?  Don’t get crazy.  When you’re layering your 9×13 dish?  The crackers don’t have to perfectly fit in the bottom.  Line the dish as best as you can.  They don’t have to be straight and pretty.  When you’re cooling the dessert everything comes together.  So don’t worry.  They don’t have to be pretty because they taste SO GOOD!

Shalom!

It is so on.

28 Jan

I needed an outlet.  Having rejoined the work force I needed some sort of outlet as a creative release and well, The Joffrey Ballet ain’t taking me any time soon so shared blog based on all things Jewtastic and cooking it is.  Honestly, no blog has ever made me laugh out loud like Jeremy’s so yes, I suckered him into doing this thing.  After we both came to the same conclusion (on our own) that Julie and Julia clearly happened to the wrong person (shalom, clearly should have been one of us) we jumped on the bandwagon and here we are.  We will be exploring Jewish cooking as well as Jew-ish cooking with the occassional rambling of nothing relevant to food and/or Jews.

I only thought it appropriate that the first post be about my first attempt at the age-old Thursday night freeze.  Yes folks, I will be pre-cooking shabbat dinner, freezing it and defrosting for dinner tomorrow night.  See, the husband invited someone he met twice at the new schul he attends and well, despite the fact that we don’t actually have kitchen chairs and I now work A LOT, I now am committed to cooking a shabbat dinner for four (he’s bringing his girlfriend).  I love hosting people, don’t get me wrong. I just like to know who I’m hosting.  Oh, and I like to have chairs for them to sit on.  Details.  Regardless, dinner is happening and therefore, I need to cook it.  So, in honor of this blog I will be making my very first kugel of any variety (zucchini) plus an Iranian dish that basically amounts to one-pot chicken and rice with cardamom and pine nuts plus the age-old Jewish favorite–corn relish—and a salad.  All recipes will be coming from the Ann Arbor Jewish Community cookbook, which the husband got as a good-bye gift from the synagogue he used to teach Sunday school at.  I swear it was written when the microwave came out.  Its hilarious.  Anyway, here we go . . .

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