Archive | February, 2013

Slow-Cooked Short Ribs

25 Feb

slow-cooked short ribsI had some boneless short ribs and wasn’t sure what to do with them. I had a couple of recipes that sounded good, but they all called for short ribs with bones, and I wasn’t sure how the quantities would translate. So I looked online and found this excellent recipe on www.grouprecipes.com; it’s been modified only slightly. There’s quite a bit of measuring of ingredients involved, but otherwise this recipe is very easy. It cooks all day in the slow cooker; start it in the morning, and it is deliciously tender and flavorful by dinnertime. It has a sweet and tangy taste.

This dish is good served over rice or with garlic mashed potatoes. You can easily make half as much by reducing all the ingredients appropriately.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup flour
1 tsp. salt (optional – since we use kosher meat, we don’t usually see a need for additional salt)
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
2½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs (flanken)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup beef broth
¾ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup chili sauce
2 Tbs. catsup
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs. minced garlic

Directions:

Put the flour, salt (if you use it) and pepper into a plastic bag. Add the ribs and shake until they are evenly coated. Shake off the excess flour.

Heat all but 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet, and brown the meat on both sides. Move the meat to a slow cooker.

Combine the beef broth, vinegar, brown sugar, chili sauce, catsup, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add the other ingredients that you have mixed together. Bring to the boil while stirring, and pour over the ribs.

Cover and cook on the low setting for 9 hours.

Hamentaschen

17 Feb

HamentaschenThese fruit, nut or poppy-filled cookies are popular on the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. This year, Purim fall on February 24.

The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver.

In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen” and I realized Judy Davis was the married name of Ida Silver’s oldest child, a few years older than me. But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down – she worked at the University of Massaschusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted it the recipe not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it,” she wrote. “I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

Indeed it is! My children always enjoyed my hamentaschen – at some point, each of them served as my baking assistant. Now they are making the same recipe. And in all humility, I say that I know only one friend who has a recipe for hamentaschen as good as these. The cookie is tender, and the honey and lemon give it a nice flavor.

I usually double the recipe, though now that the children are out of the house and we are retired (with no office colleagues to share goodies with), I am going back to making a single batch. I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I do what my mother did: cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

Use Solo brand pie filling or similar; regular pie filling is too runny and will make the hamentaschen soggy.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit, nut or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Hamentasch dough

The dough should be soft and pliable and form a ball.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the honey and lemon juice. Add half of the flour mixture, then the eggs, then the rest of the flour.The dough should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl; if it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. Take a third to a half of the dough ( less, if you make a double batch), pat it into a flattened disk, and roll it out on a floured board. Keep the rest covered with a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pinching hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape.

Roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of about ⅛  inch.Filled hamentaschen Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass that you’ve dipped into flour. Add the scraps of dough not cut out back into the bowl with the rest of the dough. Place a teaspoonful of filling on each round, then fold into

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape: bring two “sides” of the circle together into a point and pinch to hold them together, then fold up the rest of the circle and pinch it to the two sides formed by the first pinching.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 -15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.

Lentil-Veggie “Meat”balls

14 Feb

Veggie Lentil Meatballs in panI’m running this recipe — which was featured as one of the best vegetarian recipes of 2012 by Huffington Post — on Valentine’s Day, because  it’s a good one to make to show someone how much you truly care! It’s not that it’s particularly difficult to make, but there are a lot of ingredients and a lot of cooking and then cooling, so it takes a lot of time and some effort — and dirties a lot of pots and bowls in the process.

It also makes an enormous amount, something I didn’t consider when I made it for the first time. We ate our fill and froze the rest. Freeze them in a single layer, and after they’re frozen, you can pop them into a quart-sized freezer bag. Thaw and serve at room temperature or reheat in the oven or microwave.

These tasty veggie balls are good plain or with a sauce. I served them with a dab of store-bought pesto and oven-roasted sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:

2 cups lentils
¼ cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. tomato paste
8 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
3 large eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup fresh parsley (or 2 Tbs. dried)
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions:

Combine the lentils and 2 quarts of water in a medium stockpot and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow them to cool.

Add ¼ cup olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. When the mixture is cool, add the lentils, eggs, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts. Mix thoroughly until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Veggie Lentil Meatballs with pestoDrizzle the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the surface. Roll the lentil-veggie mixture into round golf-ball sized balls, packing the mixture firmly. You may need to periodically wet your hands. Place the balls in the prepared dish, leaving ¼-inch of space between them. Roast the balls for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until they are firm and cooked through. Allow the balls to cool in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 or more

Zucchini Cake

12 Feb

zucchini cake from FlickrI’m posting this recipe today in honor of the birthday of  Lois Armstrong, one of my oldest and best friends, who introduced me to this lovely cake. Unlike most zucchini cakes and breads, it does not have cinnamon or other spices. The pineapple, vanilla, nuts and raisins give it a nice flavor, and the zucchini adds pretty green specks. If you don’t tell the kids that it has zucchini in it, they’ll love it!

I confess the photo is not an actual zucchini cake baked by me. With only two of us at home, we don’t make too many desserts of this type except for company dinners or potlucks. And we usually make this cake in the summer, when we have a glut of home-grown zucchini. So I grabbed this shot off the Web (photo attribution at the end). You’ll just have to trust me when I say this recipe makes a pretty and delicious cake! And happy birthday, Lois!

Ingredients:

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup raisins (preferably golden)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/betsyweber/3679874866/”>betsyweber</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Roast Potatoes

8 Feb

Roast potatoesHere’s a very simple recipe for roast potatoes, which make a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken, any kind of meat roast and broiled or baked fish. My mother used to make potatoes in the same roasting pan as the chicken or beef, but somehow they never got as crispy and brown as when I make them in a separate pan.

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes (or more smaller potatoes)
1 medium onion
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. paprika

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for convection setting (recommended) or 375 degrees for regular baking. (If you’re not cooking a chicken or roast at the same time, you might want to do them at 400, and they’ll cook faster.)

Peel the potatoes, rinse them and dry with a paper towel. Cut them into pieces roughly 1 to 1½ inches square. Place potato pieces in a bowl with the oil and paprika, and use your hands to toss so that the pieces are evenly coated. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray – the pan should be large enough to hold all the potato pieces in a single layer. Spread the potatoes in the pan and roast for about 20 minutes.

Cut the onion vertically into thin pieces and add to the pan; stir the potatoes and the onion. Continue to roast until they are nicely browned, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. This will take 1 to 1½ hours in a convection oven, a little longer in a regular oven.

Serves 4

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

4 Feb

Hungarian Mushroom SoupI had a minor catastrophe in the kitchen the other day. I was reaching into the back of the fridge and I knocked over a plastic container with a loose lid, spilling soup all over the fridge.  As distressed as I was to have a real mess to clean up — the stuff seemed to get into every crevice of the refrigerator — I was almost equally upset to lose at least one serving of this wonderful soup!

I got the recipe from my friend Greta Zalman, who served it at our monthly Shabbat study group lunch to rave reviews. She adapted it from a recipe she found online at allrecipes.com. You can use regular button mushrooms, but I really recommend Baby Bellas, which you can buy in bulk at Costco (you need a lot of mushrooms). The photo doesn’t do this soup justice — trust me, it’s delicious!

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive or canola oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 ½ pounds fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
4½ tsp. fresh dill or 1½ tsp. dried dill
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup milk
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ ripe tomato, not chopped
½ Hungarian wax pepper (This is a long, light green mildly hot pepper. You can probably find it at fancy produce stores. If not, use another mildly hot pepper, like a cubanelle.)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste (I didn’t need any extra salt, thanks to the soy sauce)
½ cup sour cream

Directions:

Melt the butter/oil in large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions in the butter until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir the dill, paprika, soy sauce and vegetable broth into the mushroom mixture. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

Whisk the milk and flour together in a small bowl.  Stir the mixture into the soup. Add the tomato and the Hungarian wax pepper. Return cover to the pot and simmer another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the sour cream into the soup and continue cooking and stirring until the soup has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove the Hungarian wax pepper and tomato and discard before serving the soup.

Serves 6

Guacamole

1 Feb

ImageJust in time for the Super Bowl — and a good recipe to take advantage of cheap avocados. At least in Detroit they’ve been cheap — we got some this week for 49 cents each!

When we moved to Detroit in 1976, we lived in the Palmer Park, an apartment community inhabited primarily by young professionals and graduate students. The citizens’ council published a cookbook, What’s Cooking in Palmer Park. This recipe was contributed by Rob Musial, who called it Holey Moley Guacamole Dip and Neat Tree Trip – because after the recipe, Rob told readers how they could grow an avocado tree by sticking toothpicks in the avocado pit and suspending it for a few weeks with the pointy half in water; after it starts to sprout, you can plant it. Seems like everyone in the mid-70s had an avocado tree in their living room!

This was the first guacamole I ever made, and it’s among the best I’ve ever tasted. I altered the recipe only slightly. Rob’s recipe called for the inclusion of MSG, which I never use. And I like to add in a little chopped tomato.

Ingredients:

1 large avocado or 2 small ones
2 Tbs. lemon (or lime) juice
1 Tbs. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
(¼ cup chopped ripe tomato)
8 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. chili powder

Directions:

Thoroughly mash the avocado. Sprinkle it with lemon juice (or lime juice if you prefer) and stir well. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Chill for 1 hour before serving. Serve with corn or tortilla chips.