Saturday, December 29, 2012

Onion Baked Rice with Boneless Rib Roast

Onion Baked Rice
We returned late last night on a very delayed flight from Phoenix. Though the weather in Phoenix was not as warm as it usually is; it was still much warmer than what we returned to. Denver was 18 degrees last night at 1AM but luckily the memories of Phoenix saw me through until we made it safely home. While in Phoenix we ate. We ate a lot. It seemed like we never stopped eating. But it was good to see everyone and now I must stop eating - but not - of course - until after the new year.  (It takes awhile to wrap my brain around this!). My request to my mother was to make  my dad's favorite roast beef for his birthday. 


The smell alone reminds me of home. Though I don't eat meat anymore I am tempted to make this for my husband more often as I truly love how warm and garlicky the house smells when it is baking. And an easier, more impressive dish, I believe has yet to be invented.

My Grandma Fanny made this.  My mother makes this. And I have made it many times. It is a perfect dish for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. It will become one of those memorable meals, I promise. I can remember my mother making this with "blobs" of Crisco because chicken fat was hard to find in our little town. (You could make your own but you don't need too.) Though it may not be politically correct, feel free, if you can't find chicken fat or don't want to use butter or margerine. Chicken fat makes this a very luscious, rich, flavor filled rice but I have seen it made many ways. I also think you can get by with less fat so feel free to decrease it. Just make sure it doesn't stick in the pan.

I will also tell you that if you have your own way of roasting meat and you are happy with it, feel free to use it. In our family somehow the meat never really gets to the correct temperature which is why I recommend a meat thermometer. Somehow it always gets a bit overdone but it is never anyone's fault. I think we were all a bit lacking in the math department and can't figure out how to multiply 5 lbs by 20 minutes at 350 degrees which is what one usually figures on to get a rare roast. I stay out of this discussion since I have an escape clause as I don't eat meat. Also don't forget to take the roast out of the oven about 10 minutes and 10 degrees before it hits your expected temperature so that it can rest. Cover it with foil and let it sit until the desired temperature is reached. This way the roast will stay juicy. I can also tell you that a 5lb roast is way to much for 4 people unless you want lots of sandwiches for the next week. And I have never heard anyone complain about that!


Getting the roast ready

 So now  in my mother's words: here is how to make that special meal for those special people in your life.

"December 25th is a special day for us as we celebrate Bernie's birthday. Our children, Abbe and Ed, joined us this year as we celebrated 81 good years. Our son David who lives in Scottsdale  usually joins us for dinner and THE CAKE, as he did this year. We missed Mark and Diane who  live in Berwyn, Ill. The BIG dinner started with a few simple, but favorite, Weiner family appetizers. Then came the piece de  resistance, the  roast beef and oniony baked rice. This has been a long time family fave since my Mom used to make this at our request. Here's why: We lived in a small town in central Illinois where we ate meat, meat and more meat. Fish was unavailable before frozen was invented. I remember beef for about 5 meals, chicken 1 time and maybe spaghetti the other day. We were taken to a restaurant as a special treat once a week  on Sunday. It was either Winnie's Italian or the local Chinese no name. So we cooked. I either started dinner or finished it as my Mom worked and I helped her bake on Sundays. She was the best teacher but I still don't do pie crust. Back to the roast: Our house took on the most fragrant aromas as the roast baked. Then we would hear the sizzle as the fat hit the baking rice. We would be starved by the time we actually ate."


"Blobbing" the rice.



Adding the water


Boneless Rib Roast with Baked  Onion Rice

5lb boneless rib roast
6 cloves Fresh Garlic
Salt and Pepper to coat roast

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position two racks in center third of oven. Crush garlic cloves. Rub over entire roast. Then rub in salt and pepper so it sticks. Place in oven directly on middle rack. [Rice will be in pan below it] Bake for 30 minutes.Then turn oven down to 350 and continue baking. Figure 20 minutes per pound for rare or use meat thermometer.


Carving the Roast


Baked Onion Roasted Rice

2 Cups long-grained rice
3-4 T minced dried onions or 1 medium onion diced
 5 cups water
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup
8 Tablespoons chicken fat, butter, or margerine
(If not using chicken fat you may also sprinkle dried chicken bouillion over rice or use chicken stock in place of water)

Put rice in 13x9 pan. Sprinkle onion soup evenly over rice. Sprinkle minced onions over. Blob fat over rice mixture. Pour water slowly over all. Put pan of rice under roast. (This will catch  the drippings from the roast). Rice should be crispy on the top and soft in the middle and crispy on the bottom. Check rice for doneness in 1 1/2 hours. If  water has evaporated and rice is not cooked fully, add 1/4 cup more. All the water should evaporate from the finished rice.


I hope you enjoy our favorite roast one leisurely Sunday or holiday and make family memories of your own."


The best rice in the world.



She commands the kitchen.









Friday, December 21, 2012

Double Chocolate Mocha Macadamia Bark



Double Chocolate Macadamia Bark

 I am still here. Another year and the world did not end. It is great to be here and it is good that the Mayans discovered cocoa otherwise I would not be able to make this rich, satisfying Double Chocolate Mocha Macadmia Bark. It is the last thing I made this week before I pack everything up and deliver sweet treats to my neighbors.

It is the end of the week and like everyone else my list of things to do seems to be growing as Christmas Day draws closer. And even though I don’t celebrate Christmas it is my father’s birthday. It has been a few years since I’ve been with him to celebrate, so get ready Dad, here we come! I’ve packed my birthday cake recipe and I am ready to party. Well, at least to have a good time.

Therefore I am making this short because I have a lot to do. This is a quick decadent gift. You could substitute other nuts but macadamias make this special. I suspect cashews would, too. There is a huge variety of recipes for bark out there but this one combines three of my favorites. Coffee, dark chocolate and nuts.  You can’t go wrong!



Double Chocolate Mocha Macadamia Bark

10 oz white chocolate chips
8 oz dark, bittersweet chocolate chips
1 and 3/4c salted macadamia nuts roughly chopped
2t freshly ground coffee (not instant)

Butter a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Line with waxed or parchment paper.

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. White chocolate burns easily so I cook it at power level 7 for 30 seconds and stir it with a wooden spoon. Then try another 30 seconds. Stir. Repeat if necessary.
In another bowl do the same with the dark chocolate. Dark chocolate does not burn as easily but you must still be careful.

Stir 3/4c of the nuts into the white chocolate. Pour the white chocolate in three stripes down the width of the pan. Mix 1/2c of the nuts and the coffee into the dark chocolate. Pour this chocolate between the white chocolate stripes.

Now for the artist in you. Take the tip of a sharp knife and draw the tip back and forth through the stripes of chocolate. You should be seeing a marble pattern. Tilt the pan to swirl the chocolates together. Now sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.

Refrigerate uncovered until firm-at least one hour. Gently peel the candy from the paper, break into large irregular pieces. Store in the refrigerator or give to you favorite people. They will love you for it!


Bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana’s home baking #chocolateparty and win amazing prizes from Imperial Sugar®Gold Medal Flour®Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs and KitchenAid®

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shortbread Cookie Cut Outs




It is on days like this I want to be snuggled in my home where it is warm and I can hear the wind calling from outside. I can sit inside at the kitchen table and watch the TV tuned to the Food Network. I can watch them baking cookies and know that mine are better. But for many years I did not think I could use a rolling pin. It never failed that my cookies would stick or break apart or be to cold to roll out. Until… I found this recipe. It works. And these are good tasting cookies.

No cookies, but at least there was pumpkin!
You can eat them as is. No decorating but some consider that the fun part. You could roll them in a log, slice them and then glaze them if you want. Or not. It is a fairly traditional shortbread and I love shortbread. You could pat them into a round about ½” thick and use a fork to prick the round into sections. These would be called petticoat tails.

Shortbread is traditionally made with one part sugar, two parts butter and 3 parts flour. They have a crumbly texture but do firm up after cooling. The name shortbread is derived from the word shortening and hence evolved into shortbread. They come from Scotland, where they are a classic Scottish dessert and were refined by Mary, Queen of Scots. In Scotland it is traditional to eat these on New Years Eve which derived from the custom of eating Yule cakes in the 1200’s.


I know the neighbors will like these.
 I have made these for years and in our home they are known as Hanukah cookies. My daughter just called for the recipe. I feel obliged to give it to her as she helped me for many moons to decorate them. Of course she didn’t sweep the sugar off the floor but that’s OK. It’s comforting to know that a tradition is passing on. One that apparently has survived for hundreds of years. Yes, it is a damn good cookie. And call them whatever you want. You will find yourself baking them for a long time.

Shortbread Cut Outs (Courtesy of Silver Palate) 

¾ lb sweet butter softened (three sticks) If your butter is really chilled each stick can be put in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften it.
1c confectioners sugar
3c unbleached all purpose flour
½ t salt (If you have salted butter you may not want to add salt)
½ t vanilla

Cream butter and confectioners sugar together until light.
Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend well.
Gather dough into ball or make two logs, and wrap in saran wrap or wax paper. Chill in fridge for 4-6 hours.
Roll out chilled dough to 3/8” thickness on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. I make thinner cut outs but it depends how many cookies you want. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutter. If you are not icing these sprinkle them with granulated sugar. Place cut out cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and refrigerate for 45 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick you made your cookies. They should be light colored and not brown at all. Makes at least 3 dozen.

Royal Icing
1 egg white (preferably pasteurized)
1c confectioners sugar
1t vanilla

Blend with a little whisk in a small bowl. You should not have any lumps. It helps to sift your sugar or to stir it well with a fork. You may dye this or leave it as is. I usually leave it white and then frost each cookie one at a time, dipping into the colored sugars as I go.
These are cookies that taste good. They are easy to roll out. And they are oh so pretty!

See they are Hanukah Cookies.

Someone woke up with a bedhead.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites and Other Vices



Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

I have two candy vices. Well, probably I have a lot more. But if you put me in the checkout line at the grocery on a day with no willpower I might just snag a Hershey bar with almonds or a Reese’s peanut butter cup. They always seem to make the moment go better. And they always remind me of other moments through out my life where candy seems to have that magical effect.

I remember the day my brother called me to my mother’s room and showed me where he found her secret candy stash. He must have seen her putting it there-I don’t know how else he would have known that a giant Hershey’s Bar was hiding in her lingerie drawer. I don’t know if I was more surprised to see it or more surprised at the size of it. I mean no one every brought me one that big. I think she then quickly discovered it missing and she found a new hiding place in the back of the freezer. Ah, well… we all have our vices.

I also remember Sunday mornings after Sunday school when my Papa would come to our home with a bag of Hershey’s miniatures. He said that way everyone would have something they liked. And of course he was right. I think that’s where I discovered good old Mr. Goodbar. And that special dark chocolate.

But now I don’t really eat much candy and so it is only around the holiday season that I make these really good chocolate peanut butter bites. They aren’t quite Reese’s, but they do seem to be digested quite fast by whoever is in my home. Plus they require no baking and I can pronounce all the ingredients they contain. Check them out. Your Reese’s lovers will be quite pleased.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites (from Silver Palate)
¾ c brown sugar
1 pound confectioners sugar
8 T or 1 stick butter
2 c peanut butter (I use crunchy)
1 c unsalted peanuts (I only use these if I am using creamy peanut butter)
12 oz semisweet chocolate
1T butter

Mix first 5 ingredients together. I use my hands to smush it good. Pat it into an ungreased jelly roll pan about 15x10 inches and 1 inch deep. Flatten top with a rolling pin.

Melt chocolate chips and butter in microwave. I use power 7 for 1 minute and then stir with wooden spoon. Then I do this in thirty second intervals until it is smooth and shiny. Spread chocolate on peanut butter mixture.

Chill and then cut into square or diamonds. You can serve these chilled or at room temperature. They make a lot to serve the peanut butter lover in your life!




Monday, December 17, 2012

Latke One or Latke Two?

Latke One



Latke Two

Latkes are a once a year endeavor. This year it happened twice. But the truth is that if you follow a few rules making latkes is not such a gigantic effort. Or even a giant oily mess. Unless of course you are making them for an enormous crowd in which case you will never have enough. So we won’t go there.

This year I made the normal latke that everyone makes. I also decided to make Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe just to compare the differences between the two. Now this wasn’t a scientific experiment but it was fun to analyze. Especially when it comes to putting them in one’s mouth. My husband liked  Yotam’s. It is lighter and sweeter due to the addition of parsnips. It also only uses egg whites and it uses cornstarch instead of matzoh meal.Plus he uses butter and oil to fry them in. They are very good. I, of course, liked both. 

Key to making good latkes of either variety is watching the temperature of your oil. 375 degrees is about right. The depth of the oil also matters. Between the two these key things really help prevent spattering. Of course nothing prevents the smell of oil but a good exhaust fan does help. And let’s be real, isn’t this how your house is supposed to smell at Hanukah?



There are many variations on latkes. I’ve seen carrot latkes and sweet potato latkes. Parsnip is another one and the list goes on. The type of potato is up for debate. Some prefer russets for their starch content, others prefer a waxy variety and Yotam prefers Yukon Golds. I tried both. Honestly, anything fried gets a gold star in my book and I couldn’t tell the difference. You might say it is because I haven’t eaten them in a year and don’t remember but I think this is a genetic thing. I mean a latke is always good-isn’t it?

So here goes: You decide. Either way you can’t go wrong.

Latke #1
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Latkes (attributed to Helen Goh) Latke #1
5 ½ c peeled and grated waxy potatoes
2 ¾ c peeled and grated parsnips
2/3 c finely chopped chives (I did not feel like spending $6 on chives so I used ½ of an onion)
4 egg whites
2T cornstarch
5T unsalted butter
6 1/2T sunflower oil (I used canola)
1t salt
Pepper

Rinse the grated potatoes in cold water. (I used the shredding disc on my food processor.) Drain in a colander and squeeze out any excess water. Then spread the potatoes on a dry kitchen towel to dry completely.

In a large bowl mix the potato, parsnips, chives or onion, egg whites, cornstarch, salt and plenty of black pepper.

Heat ½ the butter and ½ the oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Use your hands to pick up portions of about 2T of the latke mix. Squeeze firmly to remove some of the liquid and shape into patties about 3/8” thick. Carefully place as many patties as can fit in the pan. Push them down gently and level them with the back of a spoon. Fry for 3 minutes on each side until they are completely brown on each side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm while you fry the rest using the reserved butter and oil.

Serve with sour cream, jam, sugar and apple sauce. And remember these do not need to be made just once a year.

Latke #2
Traditional Latkes (Serves about 4) Latke #2
3 large  peeled potatoes About 1 ½ pounds (I used a combo of russets and yukons.)
2 grated onions
4T matzoh meal or flour
1t baking powder
2 eggs
1 t salt
1/4t black pepper
Canola oil

Using the steel blade of your food processor put in the potatoes and grind them to mush. Or you can shred some and mush some which is what I do so they have a bit of texture. Put in a colander and push out as much liquid as you can. At this point I also squeeze my mixture in a big piece of cheese cloth to extract as much moisture as possible.

Transfer to a bowl and add the shredded or chopped onion, matzoh meal, baking powder, eggs, salt and pepper and mix with hands until well combined. Heat oil at a medium temperature in a large skillet to the depth of about a ½ inch. (Mine is nonstick, but a cast iron works really well, too.)

Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan. Fry over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side until both sides are brown and crisp.

Drain on paper towels or a paper grocery bag. Keep warm while frying the rest of the mixture. You may have to add more oil as necessary.

If you want to make these ahead-I put them in a very cold refrigerator or freezer. Then when you are ready to serve place them on a baking sheet into a preheated 450 oven for about 5 minutes. It works!

See serving suggestions above.


 My Hanukah Menu:
Smoked Salmon Spread with Crackers
Yotam’s Hummus
Yotam’s Beet Mezze
Pita

Brisket
Latkes
Homemade AppleSauce

Donuts
Chocolate Glaze
Caramel Glaze
Coffee Glaze

Plus lots of wine and friends. Many candles and lots of love!




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hashbrown Spud Cups and Hanukkah


"MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, AND YET IT IS SUCH A USEFUL ROOT THAT WE CANNOT GET ON WITHOUT IT ANY MORE THAN WE CAN WITHOUT POTATOES." by Louisa May Alcott, novelist (1832-1888)

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.”   Thornton Wilder, “Our Town”

One thing you need to know about me…I love potatoes. I never worry about having enough food in the house as long as I have a bag of potatoes and I guess, a bag of dog food. I love potatoes. Yes, I already said that. Mashed, fried, baked, hashed, steamed, grilled, in salads, the list could go on and on. And lucky for me Hanukkah features potatoes. I can make latkes with frozen hash browns, boiled potatoes, russets, yellow Finns, sweet potatoes, and the varieties could go on and on. But today’s post isn’t about latkes, though it does feature potatoes. You will have to come back later for latkes.

I wanted to give you my handy dandy company quick potato recipe in case you may want to serve something with that decadent make ahead cheese soufflĂ© I posted about a week ago. These are great because you can make them ahead of time and they look oh so cute tucked into the little muffin cups. Not to mention easy to serve. Which also makes them easy to eat.

But I want to tell you about my Hanukkah, too. It has been very quiet in our home. But my husband and I have lit the candles every night.




We have sat in our den and watched the glow of the candles without any voices of kids. It is a new experience and one I can’t say I truly love. But the last two nights we did hook up our camera to the computer and we shared the menorah lighting with our daughter who lives in Philly. It is true that everyone celebrates Hanukkah in their own way. My daughter just bought her first menorah and I must say it suits her style.



My son celebrates a different way. It looks like he was playing dreidel and wagering a bit along with lighting a bowling menorah.? I’d like one of those for my collection. Yes, he knows how to celebrate. And I hear the Rabbi likes him.




I can’t ever remember drinking beer for our Hanukkah celebrations. But maybe it is a HeBrew beer which we did buy him last year.  



I miss them both. But I must say that my husband has actually spent the last three nights with me sitting in the den watching our candles burn. It has been mystifying but very pleasant, and I hope the trend continues. Last night he surprised me with a new cookbook. He has actually been listening to me the last week or so. At least about some things… Maybe my hints worked. Like I would really just like one cookbook this year... You don’t have to buy me anything else. It is cheaper than sending me back to Jerusalem. Or it is available on Amazon at a discount. It has a catchy title. The “Jerusalem” cookbook.

                                                
Do not look at it unless you want to drool. Do not cook from it unless you want to devour. And do not tune into my blog unless you want to see some of those recipes in the future. The truth is that I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Jerusalem in January. I wish I could make it a tradition. Add that to my “work on wish” list.

But back to potatoes. This is the week. Latkes are coming. Maybe even donuts. And maybe a few appetizers from this great new cookbook I own. Look at the moon. Potato season for sure.


Hash Brown Spud Cups
Serves 4-6
Time to make: About 15 minutes prep and 45 minutes to bake
Ingredients:
1/3c finely chopped onions
3 ½ c shredded potatoes (I use frozen hash browns that I defrost quickly in the microwave. Defrost in the measuring cup and save a bowl.)
1/2c Parmesan (in or out of the can, OK! Fresh or not)
1t salt
1/2t pepper
1/2t garlic powder
2T oil
Directions:
Grease 6 regular sized muffin cups. Divide mixture into 6 cups. Bake at 375 degrees in lower third of oven for about 45 minutes. Longer if you want them extra crisp.

Feel free to add green chilies, peppers, jalapeno or cheddar cheese. Think of these potatoes as your template to success.

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More Potatoes:
Cajun Potatoes     Tortilla Espanola   Truffle Scalloped Potatoes