Four-Grain Pilaf

24 Feb

Four-Grain Pilaf

Here’s a nice, hearty side dish that combines a lot of different grains for great taste, lots of fiber and an interesting texture.


1½ Tbs. olive oil
1½ Tbs. margarine
¾ cup chopped onions
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
½ cup medium barley
¼ cup wild rice
¼ cup bulgur
¼ cup basmati rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (plus more if needed)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put half the margarine and olive oil in a medium skillet and saute the onions over medium-high heat until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute 5 minutes longer, tossing, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Scrape the mixture into a small casserole with a lid.

Melt the remaining margarine and the oil in the skillet and add the grains. Saute until the grains begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.

Pour the stock and grains into the casserole and mix. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes to make sure the mixture is not drying out. If it is, add a little more stock or water.

Let the casserole sit out of the oven, covered, about 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6



Irma’s California Brisket

10 Feb

Brisket, Irma's recipeI used to have a good way to make brisket. I would slice a large onion thin, put a layer under and over the brisket in a roasting pan, add lots of garlic and a little wine, cover and cook for several hours. Then I would cool the brisket before slicing, add sliced mushrooms, and reheat in the gravy.

This is still a good way to make brisket — but I have a new favorite that comes from Irma Zigas, the woman my uncle Art married a few years after my Aunt Connie died at the too-young age of 36.

Here’s a link to a wonderful video my cousin made about cooking brisket with Grandma Irma.  (Part of a wonderful YouTube series called Cooking With Grandma.) It’s not quite as easy as the other method, but it’s easy enough and it’s absolutely yummy. I always get rave reviews when I serve it.


Beef brisket (about 3 lb.)
Salt, pepper, garlic or other seasoning to taste
1 Tbs. oil or non-stick cooking spray
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix
½ cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a heavy skillet with non-stick spray or put 1 Tbs. oil in the skillet and heat on a medium-high flame.

Season the brisket with salt (not needed if using kosher meat), pepper, garlic powder and other spices to your taste, or a blend like Mrs. Dash.

Brown the brisket quickly on both sides, and remove to a large piece of aluminum foil (enough to seal the meat after all the ingredients are added)

Cook the onion until soft and just starting to brown, and scrape them over the top of the meat.

Add the tomato paste, cranberry sauce, onion soup mix and water. Bring up the edges of the foil and seal, then repeat with a second piece of foil.

Put the foil package in a roasting pan and bake on the center rack of the oven for at least two hours – more for a larger piece of meat.

As with the “classic” brisket recipe, the brisket will be even better if made ahead of time, sliced when cool, and reheated. By cooling it first you can also remove much of the fat, which will solidify on the top so you can pick it off.

The number of servings depends on the size of the brisket: figure about 3 people per pound of meat.

Mediterranean-style Roasted Cauliflower Soup

3 Feb

cauliflower soupHere’s another nice recipe from the folks at MediterrAsian blog, which I modified just slightly. It’s perfect for this time of year!

The first time I made this soup, I didn’t even add the Parmesan cheese to serve and it was delicious. Roasting the cauliflower and potato first makes a big difference! I also didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried — just sprinkled a little on top for color. I didn’t add the final tablespoon of olive oil at the end, but I kept it in the recipe.


4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 whole cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. dried rosemary
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the cauliflower and potato in a baking dish, toss with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and roast for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

During the final 5 minutes of the roasting, heat 1 Tbs. of oil in a large pot over medium-low heat and cook the garlic and rosemary for 2 minutes.

Add the salt, pepper and stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the roast cauliflower and potato and simmer for 2 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth, or use an immersion blender to blend in the pot.

Return the soup to the pot to reheat (or put the pot back on the flame) and stir in the reserved tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve topped with a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Serves 4 to 6

Coconut Citrus Cake recipe has been corrected

27 Jan

Apologies, fans! I left out the amount of coconut milk in my last recipe, so I corrected it. Go to the blog to see the corrected recipe, or if you’re already at the blog, just scroll down.


Citrus Coconut Bundt Cake

27 Jan

coconut citrus cake

Here’s a very nice cake recipe from Annabel Cohen that was recently printed in the Detroit Jewish News. I was hosting a brunch and had some aging coconut in my pantry, so this seemed an ideal choice.

The cake has a lot of flavor but is not-too-coconutty and not-too-citrusy. It has a fairly dense and moist texture. I made it without the glaze and it wasn’t too sweet. It would be very nice for brunch or dessert. There’s no milk or butter involved so if you’re kosher you can serve it with a meat meal.


2½ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
1 cup finely shredded sweetened coconut
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. graded lemon zest

Orange Glaze:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup fresh orange juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large tube of bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk well. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine coconut milk, oil, eggs, lemon extract, orange juice and zests, and mix well with an electric mixer.

Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Make glace by whisking together confectioner’s sugar and orange juice. Pour over cooled cake.

Moroccan Baked Chicken and Couscous

20 Jan

chicken moroccan baked chickenHere is a yummy recipe from the folks at the MediterrAsian blog, which showcases healthy foods from the Mediterranean and Far East.

It’s not difficult, but there are a lot of ingredients, so I have a few suggestions:

  • Read the recipe through a few times before you start.
  • Mix up the spices for the chicken rub and the couscous at the same time, because both parts of the recipe use pretty much the same spices and that way you’ll have to take them out only once.
  • Prepare the chicken first, and  while it’s resting and then baking you can prepare the couscous. Combine the ingredients and boil the stock while the chicken is baking, and when it comes out of the oven to rest for 5 minutes, put the couscous salad together.

You may notice from the photo that there’s no red onion or red pepper in the dish. That’s because I didn’t have either one on hand, so I used regular yellow onion and yellow pepper. Feel free to do likewise.

The couscous salad can be prepared separately and served with other dishes or it can be a vegetarian main dish. It would be great with grilled salmon.

The chicken makes enough for two servings, unless you use huge chicken breasts, while the couscous salad will serve at least four. Save the leftovers for another meal. You can reheat it or enjoy it cold.

Ingredients for chicken:

1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. salt (can leave off if using kosher chicken)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts

Ingredients for couscous

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 carrot, peeled and grated
½ red bell pepper, diced
¼ red onion, finely diced
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbs. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (or 2 tsp. dried parsley)
1 cup quick-cooking couscous (not Israeli couscous)
¼ cup raisins
1¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock

Directions for Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Mix together the cumin, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, chili, salt, and garlic until well combined. Mix in the oil to create a paste. Rub this evenly over both sides each chicken breast.

Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Place on a baking tray or in a baking dish lined with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into slices to serve.

Directions for couscous:

In a jar with a lid combine the olive oil, lemon juice and spices and shake until well blended.

Combine the carrot, bell pepper, onion, chickpeas and parsley and set aside.

In a heatproof serving bowl, combine the couscous and raisins.

Boil the chicken or vegetable stock and pour it over the couscous; stir, and cover with plastic, foil or a plate so it can steam. Leave for 5 minutes.

Fluff the couscous  and add the vegetables. Pour the dressing over all and mix well.

Chicken serves 2

Couscous serves 4

Cinnamon Apple Bread

13 Jan

apple breadI can’t give credit where it’s due because I can’t remember the publication from which I clipped this lovely recipe. I made it for a potluck a few months ago and it went over really well. In looking for a photo, I noticed I posted a similar recipe, Apple Dapple Cake, last August. This one is less sweet and doesn’t include nuts.


⅓ cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
⅔ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ cups flour
1¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside. Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix in.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl and stir into the butter mixture. Add milk and mix until smooth.

Pour half the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Add half the apples and half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Then add the rest of the batter, the rest of the apples and the rest of the brown sugar/cinnamon. Lightly pat the apples into the batter and swirl the brown sugar mixture through the apples with a finger or spoon.

Bake about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.


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