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Ginger snaps

16 Oct

ginger-snaps.jpgHere’s a great fall recipe, perfect for Halloween parties as well as any old time. They just taste like autumn! One of the best things about these cookies is they last a long time. They start out somewhat soft (though with a definite “bite”) but after a few days they get hard and crunchy and may be even better than fresh-out-of-the-oven.

I got the recipe from a guy I once worked with, who brought them to a potluck. Everyone wanted the recipe. Of course it was his wife who had made them, and she got the recipe from her grandmother, so it has a pedigree!

Ingredients:

¾ cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2¼ cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
Granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Add the molasses and egg and mix well.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Take a small amount of dough, roll it into a ball in your palms and then roll the ball in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Don’t be tempted to flatten the balls: they’ll do that on their own. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

 

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Hamentaschen

13 Mar

(It’s that time of year again! I thought it might be a good idea to reprise my blog about hamentaschen.)

Hamentaschen 4

These 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 falls on March 21

The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish, and in Hebrew, they’re called “oznei Haman” — Haman’s ears!

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 Massachusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted the recipe was 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
½ 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:

Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and sugar. Add honey and lemon juice and mix well. Add part of flour, then eggs, then rest of flour. Dough should be soft enough to form a ball but not sticky

Hamentaschen 3

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out on a floured board, cut out rounds using a cookie cutter or glass (dip edge into flour to prevent sticking). Place a half-teaspoon of filling in the center of each piece, then pinch into a three-cornered shape. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

 

 

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

19 Feb

hot fudge pudding cake

You may be wondering why I don’t share recipes more often. There’s a simple explanation. This is a blog of my favorite recipes. I’ve been writing it for several years. Most days, there are just two of us for meals. Over the course of this blog’s life, I’ve used most of my actual favorite recipes. (If you’re new to the blog, go back and look at some of the older entries.) Most of my recent posts have not been old standbys but new recipes that I like a lot (and remember to photograph).

This one, however, is an oldie-but-goodie. We rarely make desserts except when we have company. Most of our company meals feature a chicken or meat main course; in our kosher home, that means no dairy desserts. So while I love this recipe, I don’t make it very often. (You can make it vegan, but I don’t think it would taste as good.)

The directions will probably sound odd. While the cake bakes, the top layer turns into a rich pudding that sinks to the bottom of the dish. When you serve it, invert each piece onto a serving plate and it will be topped by a yummy, fudge-y sauce. Serve it warm, even right out of the oven. It’s terrific with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients:

1¼ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk, soy milk or water
3 tbs. melted butter, margarine or vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla, divided
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir flour, sugar, 2 Tbs. cocoa, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the milk, melted butter or margarine and 1 tsp. vanilla and blend well. Pour into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan or a small casserole dish and spread evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle the mixture over the cake batter. Combine the boiling water and 1 tsp. vanilla and pour over the top of the cocoa-brown sugar mixture. Do not stir!

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 to 8

 

Joy’s Pineapple Kugel for Passover

27 Mar

Passover pineapple kugel

This is a very easy Passover recipe from my machatenista Joy Gardin. If you are not Jewish, you may not know that very useful Yiddish term for the mother-in-law of your child. A child’s father-in-law is a mechutan and together they are the machatunim. 

Anyway, this makes a nice change at Passover because it doesn’t contain any matzo meal, farfel or anything else to give it a distinctive Passover taste. It would be a good recipe for gluten-free people as well. Serve it as a side dish or even for dessert, because it’s sweet enough.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
4 Tbs. potato starch
1 Tbs. vanilla sugar (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder (optional)
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except pineapple and stir well. Add drained pineapple and mix. Bake in a 9-inch round pan for about 40 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

Serves 6 to 8

 

Incredibly Delicious Bread Pudding

29 Nov

bread pudding with croissants

If you’re looking for a good dessert recipe for a holiday potluck, you’ve hit the jackpot.

This is an incredibly delicious bread pudding. I don’t make it often because it’s so rich; it’s in my recipe book as “Incredibly Rich Bread Pudding.” In fact, I think Thanksgiving weekend was the first time I made it because there would be a big crowd at the table and there wouldn’t be any leftovers.

I first experienced this dish at a potluck, where I ate much more of it than I should have. The recipe was originally from the a Barefoot Contessa cookbook by Ina Garten, where it is called Croissant Bread Pudding; I got the recipe from the guest who brought it, but every time I considered making it for a home meal, even with company, I’d look at the ingredients and say, “Nah, I just can’t do it!” because it’s that rich and fattening.

I tried making it with less calorific ingredients, like 2% milk instead of half & half, and regular bread instead of croissants, but it just wasn’t the same.

I’m giving you the recipe as I received it. I did make a couple of minor adjustments when I made it. I had large, not extra-large, eggs, so I used nine yolks instead of eight (but kept the original three whole eggs). I bought a quart of half & half, something I rarely use, so for the fifth cup I used lowfat milk.

I used an electric mixer to whiz the eggs, sugar, vanilla and half & half.

When you put the croissants in the pan (I used minis), you will probably have a few that don’t fit as halves. This is fine; break them up and stuff the pieces into bare spaces between the halves.

The recipe calls for a 10 x 15-inch pan. Mine was 9 x 13 and it worked fine. (I needed my larger baking pan for the water bath!)

It took closer to an hour to bake, possibly because I used a slightly smaller pan than the recipe called for.

This was a big hit at the Saturday-after-Thanksgiving dinner — and there wasn’t a crumb left over!

Ingredients:

3 extra large whole eggs
8 extra large egg yolks
5 cups half & half (you can use some milk if you don’t have that much cream)
1½  cups sugar
1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large croissants or 12 minis (preferrably day old)
1 cup dark raisins or dried cherries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the eggs and yolks, sugar, half and half, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Set this custard mixture aside.

Slice croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 x 15-inch baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants.  Be sure the raisins are down inside, as they will burn if they surface while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow it to soak in. Press the croissants many times to insure that they soak up the mixture. Do this for 10 minutes.

Place the casserole into an even larger dish (or a disposable aluminum pan) that you will fill with a few inches of hot water to create a bath.

Place an aluminum foil sheet in a tent-like shape over the entire top of both pans; this allows the pudding to steam. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow some steam to escape.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set, not jiggly.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 Serves 8-10 

 

Natty’s Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake

12 Sep

Honey glazed chiffon cake

Last year at this time I came across a wonderful website from Australia called the Monday Morning Cooking Club. They have a lot of great recipes on their website and have also published a cookbook, The Feast Goes On, available through Amazon.

One of their signature recipes is this delicious Glazed Honey Chiffon Cake. It’s lighter than the usual Rosh Hashanah honey cake because it uses tea instead of coffee as the liquid and calls for whipping the egg whites.

The club ladies gave me permission to use the recipe (I adapted it slightly to meet American standards and terms) and this photo of Natanya, one of their members.

Ingredients:

CAKE
6  eggs, separated
175 g (⅔ cup) superfine sugar
275 (¾ cup) honey
¾ cup light olive or grapeseed oil
¼ cup strong black tea
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. salt
2¼ tsp. baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

GLAZE

80 g (½ cup) confectioners’ sugar
½ lemon, juiced (or 2 Tbs. lemon juice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You will need an angel cake (tube) pan that is not non-stick and has a removable base. Do not grease it.

Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add half the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and the remaining sugar until light and pale. Add the oil and keep beating for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix the honey into the hot tea. Add these to the egg yolks, alternating wet and dry, beating gently until fully combined.

Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture with a metal spoon, until just mixed through.

Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 320 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert it to cool by balancing the middle funnel onto a bottle neck. The cake will be dangling upside down. (If your tube pan has feet, or if the funnel is higher than the sides of the pan, you don’t have to use a bottle.)

When completely cool, run a knife around the outside of the cake and the funnel. Lift the base out of the pan, then use the knife to ease the cake off the base.

To make the glaze, add the lemon juice (a few drops at a time) to the confectioners’ sugar until you have a thick, smooth paste. Pour over the cooled cake.

Serves about 12

Creamy Rice Pudding

26 May

It’s almost Shavuot, that little-observed Jewish holiday where we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai by eating dairy foods. I could go into the reasons why, but that’s not the purpose of this blog. Suffice it to say, you may be looking for a  dairy dish to serve next week.

This rice pudding recipe won’t feed a crowd, but it’s nice for a light summer dessert, for Shavuot or any other time. It’s also a great way to use up leftover white rice.

Ingredients:

2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
2 cups milk, scalded (heat until bubbles form at the edges of the pot – do not boil!)
1 cup cooked white rice
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
⅓ cup raisins, optional
¼ tsp. cinnamon or nutmeg, or  a few drops of rosewater, optional

Directions:

In the top of a double boiler, combine the eggs and sugar. Stir in the milk, rice and salt.

Cook over hot water, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat a metal spoon (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in raisins and vanilla.

If you like, add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg and/or a few drops of rosewater. Pour into 4 dessert dishes. Serve warm or cold.

Serves 4