Easy Passover Brownies

24 Mar

Passover browniesGroan! If you’re like me, you’re up to your elbows in Passover cleaning and starting to think about the cooking. For everyone in the midst of this craziness, I wish you energy to complete the task and joy when everything is done!

I make these brownies every year because they’re easy and they’re good. In fact the recipe is almost exactly the same as the non-Passover brownies-from-scratch recipe I use year-round except it leaves out the baking powder (even though you can find kosher-for-Passover baking powder) and it uses a little less cake flour than all-purpose flour. If you wrap them well, they’ll keep for a few days.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup matzo cake meal
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cocoa
1 stick butter or margarine, melted (tip: if you melt it in the baking pan, the pan will be nicely greased!)
½ cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Add the salt, matzo cake meal and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the melted margarine and mix well.

Stir in the nuts or chocolate chips.

Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Wrap leftovers carefully so they don’t dry out.

Makes 16 brownies

Pasta Puttanesca

17 Mar

pasta puttanesca

Full disclosure: I occasionally participate in something called a Bzz campaign. I get a free sample of a product with the understanding that I’ll create “buzz” about it by telling my friends.

A week or so ago I got a free sample of a new brand of pasta called HemisFares, available at the Kroger family of stores. There are many varieties; I got fusilli bucati lunghi, which is great, because my pantry had spaghetti, fettucini, rotini, rigatoni, jumbo shells, lasagne and elbow mac — but no fusilli!

The HemisFares pastas are imported from specific regions of Italy.

I did like the HemisFares sample. The long strands of corkscrew pasta had a homemade look. When cooked, it had a nice, firm texture, and the corkscrew shape held the sauce well. Of course, as my husband said, “It tastes like pasta.”

But if you shop at Kroger, give it a try!

I made it with two sauces, puttanesca and wild mushroom; I’ll give you the recipe for the second one another time.

This flavorful and somewhat spicy puttanesca sauce recipe is slightly altered from one by Annabel Cohen that appeared in the Detroit Jewish News. The olives, capers and red pepper flakes give it a nice kick.

The name of the dish can be translated as “pasta in the style of a whore.” No one is sure why. Maybe ladies of the evening in Italy cooked it to entice people into their establishments. Maybe they cooked it for themselves because it’s fast and easy to make. In any event, it’s delicious!

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1½ cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
3 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 2-oz. can anchovy fillets with oil
3 Tbs. capers
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped green or Kalamata olives (or a mixture)
1 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

Add the onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

If you like, you can blend slightly with an immersion blender, but the sauce should still be chunky.

You can add grated Parmesan cheese before serving if you like.chee

Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Serves 12

Spiced Pecan Waffles

10 Mar

Hi everyone, I will give you a recipe eventually but first I want to use this blog as a bully pulpit to alert you to a fairly common problem in newborns that is easily diagnosed and easily fixed — but for whatever reason in our crazy medical system often isn’t.

Many babies are born tongue-tied, which means something way different than awkward with words. Others have a related problem, lip tie. These ties are thin cords of tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the palate or the upper or lower lip to the gum. If they are short or in the wrong place they can interfere with feeding. Later in life they can cause eating and speech problems.

I feel like a minor expert now because my nearly four-month-old granddaughter was born with a tongue and a lip tie. The tongue tie was noticed in the hospital but no one felt the need to do anything about it because the baby seemed to be nursing,

Well, she wasn’t nursing properly. She wasn’t getting enough milk. Because her anatomy forced her to work extra hard and mis-use some of her facial muscles, she would get fatigued easily and fall asleep halfway through a feed. With the baby demanding less, my daughter wasn’t producing as much milk as she should have been.

The first solution, as usual, was to suggest bottle-feeding. In my granddaughter’s case, this wasn’t suggested until the baby was three months old, by which time she had no interest in a bottle. She wouldn’t swallow anything that didn’t come directly from mama. And she started losing weight.

My daughter found the solution almost by accident. She had gone to a lactation consultant, who recommended using a “supplemental nursing system.” Pumped breast milk or formula is put into a small bottle, and a very thin tube leading from the bottle is taped next to the mother’s nipple, so that the baby takes in extra while she’s nursing.

The only place to get the supplemental nursing system was from another lactation consultant. This one, upon hearing my daughter’s story, immediately suspected a tie, and when she looked at my granddaughter, she could immediately see a tongue tie and a lip tie. Because she couldn’t move her tongue and lip properly, my granddaughter wasn’t able to get a good grasp on the breast and wasn’t able to get as much food as she needed.

The lactation consultant referred my daughter to a dentist who uses a water laser to cut the ties, and three days later we were in the dentist’s office. The procedure was fast and painless — they know because they also do it on adults. Within a few days, my granddaughter was able to get a better “latch” on her mom and started eating better. She quickly started to gain weight again. (We’re talking ounces here, but when you weigh only 9 pounds, every ounce counts.)

Why a dentist? The lactation consultant told us dentists are at the forefront of developing effective ways to treat oral ties because they see the ongoing problems ties can cause in older children and adults. Speech pathologists are also strong advocates for better treatment because they also see the adverse results.

Most doctors pooh-pooh the idea of correcting ties in infancy, even though it’s such a simple procedure. A friend of my daughter’s, whose child has a lip tie, was actually told by the pediatrician not to worry, that the child would one day fall down and rip the tie. This is a solution?

I’m moving so far from food today just to alert you — anyone who is pregnant, or has a baby, or knows someone who does — that this problem exists and that it’s very easy to fix. But don’t rely on hospital nurses or pediatricians to point the way.

And now on to food — a nice recipe for a lazy Sunday morning or even a weekday supper.

I got the recipe from Annabel Cohen, who used it in her column in the Detroit Jewish News.

spiced pecan wafflesIngredients:

2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
1¾ cup milk or orange juice
½ cup melted butter
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Heat a waffle iron.

Combine dry ingredients – flour through pecans – in a large bowl bowl and whisk well. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir till combined.

Spoon the batter into the waffle iron and bake until brown.

Serve with real maple syrup.

Serves 6

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.

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Bobbie

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