Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pineapple Serrano Hummus #DoleRose #RoseParade

After all the holiday eating - and yes, I know we are close to the finish line; but not there yet, because New Year's is not quite here. In any case, you might start to think about something healthy and I'm all for healthy, especially when it tastes good! So if you need a dip for the new year or an incredible spread for your sandwich, well you need go no further. I will admit that I am not a huge fan of hummus, unless it is good hummus. Unless I am in Israel hummus. Or unless I made Ottolenghi's hummus. Well that is, until I also made this hummus. As part of the Food Blogger Blast Party 2016 Rose Parade, Ally Phillips, who is the Dole Blog ambassador gave a few of us this recipe to try and I must say she nailed it. I love this hummus.The texture and flavor of this hummus, with a bit of heat from serrano peppers and a subtle sweetness from Dole® pineapple, will leave guests clamoring for more.  I served it with pita chips and lime tortilla chips and this stuff kills; in a very good way.

Thank you Ally Phillips of What's for Dinner/Ally's Kitchen for this great recipe. Dole California Cook-Off Champion Ally Phillips of Ally’s Kitchen, will perform live cooking demonstrations and share quick and fun recipes featuring Dole Packaged Foods’ productsAt “Live on Green”, Angelenos and visitors from around the world will explore 100,000 square feet of free entertainment, unique and rare exhibitions, and fun activities, as well as indulge in healthy snacks and beverages at the Dole Bistro. Wish I could go!

If you find yourself like me, plunking down in front of the TV on New Near's Day to watch the parade, make sure you have a plate of this spicy sweet hummus beside you. Believe it or not I've watched the Rose Bowl Parade since I was a kid and this year the Dole float is one I won't want to miss. The Dole LLC float is called, “Soaring Over Paradise,” and explores the world’s rain forests. The float includes four waterfalls, a zip line that travels through the rain forest canopy and a flock of macaws that appear to take flight over the floral gardens. If I were in Pasadena, I would make sure to attend Live on Green where families are invited to indulge in food, entertainment and fun activities at the free three-day event in Downtown Pasadena, Dec. 29 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Dec. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pasadena Conference Center. 

No, I'm not there. Ally is there. So the next best thing is creating a bit of paradise at home. Start with this. What a great healthy way to begin a new year! 

Pineapple Serrano Hummus
Serves: 4-6
From: Ally Phillips-Dole Blogger Ambassador
Time to make: About 15 minutes
1 8 ox can Dole crushed pineapple
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T serrano pepper, finely chopped (about 1 or 2 if you are like me)
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained but reserve liquid
1-1/2 t sea salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 /2 c tahini
Garnishes: extra virgin olive oil, sesame seeds, paprika (all optional)
Combine pineapple, garlic, serrano pepper, 1/4 c reserved liquid from garbanzo beans, salt, lemon juice and tahini in food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Garnish with your choice of garnishes. I added a bit of chopped Italian parsley and toasted some sesame seeds to give it some extra "nuttiness".

Other Pineapple  and Hummus Recipes to try:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Egg Scramble with Potatoes, Bacon and Onion or Amana Hoppelpoppel

It seems the holiday is upon us and I have been scrambling. I'm sure we've all been scrambling. I've been scrambling eggs, though! Actually these photos were taken several years ago-can't you tell- but lacking time I decided to do the best I could. Truth is, this is a fabulous recipe! It is perfect for Christmas morning, if you haven't planned ahead.

I think sometimes we are all so busy planning Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner that breakfast goes by the way side. And we all know that the way to a perfect day is eating breakfast. Now had I taken these photos at breakfast, they would be a whole lot better, but we eat this for brinner and often it is dark outside, before we dive in. My tripod broke and I have no lights, but please do not neglect this recipe. You won't be sorry.

If you are anything like me, I consider potatoes, bacon, onions, and eggs as staples in my home. So that means if you wake up tomorrow and haven't planned ahead-well this is the perfect recipe! To get everything golden and crisp, follow the directions. Really. This hearty dish comes out great. Make sure you cut everything to the proper size so that the mixture cooks perfectly. The recipe is of German heritage and is called Amana Hoppelpoppel. Kids love to say that! Driving through Iowa and stopping at the Amana Colonies, might find a dish like this turning up on restaurant menus.

Serve this with some toast and jam. That's it! You have got Christmas morning covered! Hope Santa brings everything you want and have a Merry Day!

Egg Scramble with Potatoes, Bacon and Onion or Amana HoppelPoppel
Serves 4-5
Time to Make: About 30 minutes
4 large eggs
2 T milk
1-2 T minced fresh parsley
 Salt and Fresh Pepper
4-6 thick slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces or German sausage (Who are we kidding here? Use 6!)
1 large onion, cut into large dice
3/4 lb small waxy red potatoes boiled until tender, then cut into 1/4" slices
Start your potatoes boiling. When they are started, start frying the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.  While bacon is frying, combine eggs with the milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. You should still see large bubbles. Set aside. When bacon is crisp, remove it with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the onion to the bacon fat and saute until soft, but not brown, about 5 minutes. As soon as potatoes are done and sliced, add to skillet. Cook until they are golden with some brown edges. Stir in the bacon. Now pour in the egg mixture. With a spatula, turn the mixture over a couple of times to combine, scraping up from the bottom, then pat the mixture down into a thick layer. Cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the eggs are lightly set, but still moist. Don't overcook. Serve immediately. I like mine smothered with ketchup!

From: A Real American Breakfast-Cheryl and Bill Jamison

More to Try:

                                           Colorado's Best Hash  (Perfect for turkey leftovers)


                                                       Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich

                                                            Gingerbread Waffles

                                                             Shakshuka in Purgatory

Friday, December 18, 2015

Rum and Fruit Cake Bread and a #Whole Foods Giveaway

Let's make one thing perfectly clear. This is not a fruit cake. It is a fruit bread. With hazelnuts. And rum. And dried cherries and dried pineapple and even golden raisins. God forbid if this heavenly creation should be called a fruit cake. You might think I'm a fruitcake! I mean really. The fruitcake might be the blogger's demise because we all know how people hate fruitcake.  I wouldn't want to be seen as trying to turn away readers now, would I? It isn't like I have many to turn away and I do so appreciate all of my loyal fans. So God forbid, if I call this a fruit cake.

Heavens to Betsy. Where did the fruit cake get such a bad rap? Perhaps it is the boxed cakes that appear in the grocery, laden with sugary fruits and citron, and wrapped in cellophane for $5. Now that is as nutty as a fruitcake-I mean really-how can anyone make a fruitcake that sells for $5? I didn't add up the cost of the ingredients in this cake, but let's just say that I'm sure it cost me more than $5. Shoot- the shot of rum in this cake (I mean bread) is worth that alone. Just sayin'.

Apparently it was Johnny Carson who joked that there was only one fruitcake in this world and it got passed from family to family. Everywhere else in the world the fruitcake is esteemed. In Britain it is even served as wedding cake. Now that's sure to get the bride and groom off to a great start, isn't it? Here in Manitou Springs-near Colorado Springs- they even have the great fruitcake toss. Really. Even you can attend on the first Saturday of January that is if it is still happening!

Personally I feel the dear old fruit cake has gotten a bad rap. Perhaps it is the neon day glow colors that emerge from those cellophane wrappers, that make me think the poor dear is radioactive. Well, I hope you can see that my baby- so beautifully swaddled in natural cheesecloth- is pure and simple. And purely and simply delectable. No neon colors. Only the natural taste of fruit and rum. Let's not leave out the rum. After all the holidays wouldn't be the holidays if there wasn't a fruitcake running around, now would it?

So call it what you will. Fruit cake. Fruit Bread. Even those nuttier than a fruitcake generally know good food.

For all your fruit cake/fruit bread needs, please check out Whole Foods. Their bulk section is incredible. Buy exactly what you need.  Try something new to add to your favorite cookie or cakes. And if you are still baking cookies check out this collection. This is a great time to shop at Whole Foods! The aisles are full with great holiday items! Buy your favorite foodie something she won't buy herself...

Whole Foods is giving away 1 $25 gift card to help fill your basket. This post is sponsored by Whole Foods but all opinions are mine. Open only to US residents. No compensation has been given, but products have been provided. Giveaway closes on January 30, 2016Winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator. Helen Lam is October's winner!
How to Enter:
· Enter once by leaving me a comment and telling me your favorite cookie or dessert.
· Enter twice by subscribing to This is How I Cook
· Enter again by following me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 

Rum Fruit Bread Cake with Dried Fruits
Makes 1 or 2 cakes
Time To Make: Active is about 45 minutes
1/2 c dried pineapple chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 c chopped dried apricots
1/2 c gold raisins
1/2 c dried cherries
1  c pitted and chopped dates
3/4 c sliced almonds
1 1/2 c chopped hazelnuts
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softened
1 c brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 T rum, plus 1/4 c more for dousing
Preheat oven to 300. Brush an 8" spring form (if you want just one cake)  or a 6" spring form pan and an 8 x 4" loaf  for two cakes. Line bottom and sides with parchment; brush with butter.

Combine fruit and nuts in a bowl. Set aside. Mix flour, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Add vanilla and rum and mix in. Add dry ingredients on low speed and beat until flour is incorporated. Scrape down bowl if needed. Fold in fruit and nut mixture.

 Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake until golden-about 2.5 hours. Cover with foil if it browns too much. Cool on a wire rack, Remove from pan and discard parchment. Wrap in cheesecloth and douse with 1/4 c rum. Store in a cool dry place. This can be doused each week for up to a month before serving, but it is also perfectly fine to let this set for a few days before you devour.

More To Try:
Brown Sugar Spice Cake with Caramel Glaze
Gingerbread Pear Upside Down Cake
Chocolate Fudge Loaf Cake
Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peels
Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Strata
10 Sweet Family Favorites

Pin for Making Later:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Easy Chocolate Sable Salted Cookies

It began at Babette's. You don't know Babette? Well. You should know Babette. I visited Babette's in February after going to the dog show. I love the dog show. It was after the dog show that we headed to The Source- a food warehouse in Denver. It has some great restaurants, a really fun liquor store and a few other establishments, including  Babette's. Babette's is a small bakery that is known for its bread. Some say it's burnt bread; at least according to the reviews. They call it caramelly-doesn't really matter to me. It is wholesome and nurturing (grainy and earthy) and I liked the bread.

But what I really liked is this cookie. My friend and I bought one cookie to share. It was not an inexpensive cookie. We ate the cookie. Quickly. And then we both looked at each other and turned around and it was back to Babette's to buy the remaining cookie. I don't know what it is about this cookie. Could it be the rich chocolate? Could it be the sandy texture combined with the oozing chocolate that drips on you as you bite in? Maybe it is the soft cakey, but chewy texture. Yes, I'm not quite sure how to describe this baby. Maybe it is perfectly baked in those special ovens that make their bread so caramelly; not burnt!

I've made chocolate sables before. They were Dorie's recipe and she called them World Peace cookies. I do believe she is right about the peace thing!  Read about it and ignore my old photos, please. Her cookies are basically an ice box cookie. Form the dough into a log and then chill. After that they are ready to slice and bake. They are awesome, too.  But this cookie. THE COOKIE. Babette's called these chocolate sables, and they were most definitely sable-ey. They were big and thick and though I didn't make my cookies as big, I wish I had. But then I would have had only about 12 cookies and this way I have about 27. I'm counting! This cookie is still sandy, which is the meaning of sable, but yet they are more tender and luxurious in my humble opinion. However choose your preferred method. There is no right answer on this quiz!

I know this recipe is not Babette's. If it was Babette's you would think I gave you a giant present. In this case, think of it as a small one. Save the calories. Just bake this cookie. Or find your way to Babette's! In which case, if you are in Denver, please call and I will meet you! And then you can buy me a cookie!

A few notes: I read that Babette's did not use leavening. He just uses eggs for leavening purposes, so I beat my eggs and sugar really well, so there would be some fluff! I also baked them at a higher temperature after chilling the dough outside on my deck. Additionally, I added some smoked alder salt and some urfa chile flakes to the tops of some of them. What a great surprise. Do not be afraid. This totally makes them an adult cookie and you will feel like a kid, eating an adult cookie. But have it with some bourbon or scotch. Just sayin'.

Chocolate Sable Cookies
Makes about 24 smallish cookies. Or make them big and make 12. You can do it!
Time to Make: About 20 minutes hands on and 15 minutes to chill and about 10-12 to bake.
11 T softened butter
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1 t instant espresso, like Medaglia D'oro
1/2 t fleur de sel or 1/4 t fine sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)
5 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate (I use a large Trader Joe's Bar and use a chef's knife to flake it.)
Urfa Chile Flakes (optional)
Alder Smoked Salt (optional)
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment,beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars and vanilla and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add egg and incorporate well. Sift flour, cocoa powder, coffee and salt together. (I usually just stir the dry ingredients together with a fork to lighten and combine the mixture.) Turn off the mixer and add flour mixture. With a towel covering mixer, turn it on low and blend in the flour mixture. Do not over beat. Blend in chocolate.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop dough by tablespoons or the size you prefer, onto cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt or be daring and try some smoked salt and urfa chile flakes! Chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Bake sables for 10 -12 minutes. It is very important not to over bake. Let them cool on sheet. They may not look done, but as they cool, they will firm up.

More to try:
World Peace Cookies
Spritz Cookies
Mocha Chocolate Cookies
Chocolate Toffee Ice Box Cookies
Shortbread Sugar Cookies
Soft Chocolate Crackle Cookies with Mint M and M's
Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Pin to try later:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jewish Brisket with Onion Gravy or My Mother's Brisket (but not really)

This post was written December 27, 2011. I think it was the 5th post I published. The recipe remains as good today, as it did then. Here are some new pics, but the writing remains the same.

There are many things one can say about brisket, but dull is not one of them. Brisket is a piece of meat that just keeps on giving. Think about it. You’ve got your bbq, your stews, your Jewish versions, and you can even grind it into hamburger. And soup. Well, you see what I mean. In our house brisket was always the most talked, debated? about subject of the dinner table. Was it sliced correctly (no, not usually), whose fault was it, (usually dad’s, because my mother didn’t have faults), was it dry, (no, usually mushy and stringy due to being sliced wrong). Well, hopefully you get the picture. 

Thus I think it is easy to tell, that this was the Jewish version of brisket-the one where 5 people are eating, but there are 6 opinions on how to slice and bake it correctly. Was it the onion soup version, the tomato soup version, the Coca Cola version or was it just made up? Potatoes or carrots or both, and what about celery? Yes, brisket, is always something to look forward too. And just for the record my mother assures me, that she now has a wonderful brisket recipe. However I have now stopped eating meat, and that is another story. But this brisket remains, as my children and husband still have needs to be met.

And that brings me to Hanukkah. Yes, the festival of lights.  The night where the house smells like oil and one hopes that the smell of brisket masks the odor of a fast food restaurant. Hence also the need for cinnamon applesauce. This year it happened to be the night of my birthday, so we were lucky enough to add a chocolate cake to the mix. Which somehow leads us back to the brisket, which is made a day before the big celebration (OK no guessing, it wasn’t THAT big.) It is important to plan ahead when you make brisket. Brisket is easier to slice after it has been chilled and of course it leaves less to do, when you are frying all those latkes. It also gives you an opportunity to get out the electric knife. Yahoo!

Now hopefully you are thinking what I’m thinking; how to avoid all those brisket dilemmas? In my house I felt the need for a consistent and uncomplicated brisket. One that was  soothing to eat and heavenly to smell. Something that would fill my senses with warmth and goodness and love. (Yeah, getting a little sappy here) Well, I needed a new brisket recipe-one that would always turn out the same, taste the same and not cause the cook tsuris (trouble). And for that recipe (which I discovered when my children were just five), I have Ruth Reichel to thank. Yes, December, 2005 Gourmet, My Mother’s Brisket, saved this mother’s life. That good, that easy, that satisfying. Don’t change it, just eat it. You’ll thank me, I promise.

My Mother’s Brisket
Serves 8-12
Time to Make: About 30-45 minutes active and that includes slicing
Note: Please make this a day ahead for better slicing and flavor
1 5-6 lb brisket, well trimmed (fatty briskets are for BBQ)
1 t salt divided
1 t pepper divided (I usually add more, because it is good when it is peppery)
Garlic powder to sprinkle
3 T oil, divided
3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 t paprika

Pat brisket dry and season with 1/2 t salt and pepper and garlic powder. It is really hard to over season brisket. Place 1 T oil in Dutch oven and heat in a preheated 375 oven for 10 minutes. Place brisket in oil, fat side up and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Saute onions in remaining oil in a large skillet, until softened and beginning to turn golden. Reduce heat to medium and cook until deep golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, paprika, and remaining salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Spoon over brisket. Place lid on Dutch oven leaving it a bit ajar. Bake for about 3 1/2 hours until tender. Add more water if necessary during cooking, but this has never happened to me.

Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour. Remove brisket from sauce, scraping any clinging onions back into the sauce. Wrap brisket in foil and refrigerate overnight. Pour gravy from pan into a 4 cup measuring cup. Fat will rise to top overnight. Remove. The next day use an immersion blender to puree gravy until smooth. You should have at least 3 cups, if not add more water.

The next day slice brisket into thin slices if possible with an electric knife. Make sure to slice against the grain or your brisket will be stringy. Place some gravy into the bottom of a pan and then place brisket on top of that. Cover with rest of gravy and then seal pan with foil. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes. This will serve 8-10 people.

P.S. I must apologize for my pictures. I had about 16 people waiting to eat this brisket hovering over me while I was trying to get a few pictures. I finally decided that brisket is not really pretty. It just tastes really, really good. I also can confirm that there were not any leftovers.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Chickpea Latkes with Feta and Pomegranate Molasses

I'm not going to lie to you. I'll spell it out straight. Chickpea latkes are not potato latkes. They are not crispy and golden and potatoey. They probably are not best with apple sauce. They are however, perfect as a base for a variety of toppings and make a great appetizer before any meal. Chickpea latkes still contain potato and they still are lightly fried in oil. They are quick to make and a good departure from the traditional latke.

Chickpea latkes remind me of little corncakes, well, minus the corn of course. Add in the chickpeas and a more pancake like texture and you've got this latke's number. They are spongy, and just like pancakes, they need to be flipped when the bubbles rise to the top. I was wanting a base for a variety of appetizers and these worked out perfect. I topped them with feta and some pomegranate vinegar. If you wanted a double dose of chickpea, I think hummus dolloped on top and a few chickpeas would also taste great. The skies the limit when it comes to toppings!

I make these small so they can be handheld. They are easily warmed up in the oven and aren't bad at room temperature either. They make a great lunch-just sayin'! Replace the bread in your meal with a few of these slathered with butter or drizzled with Greek yogurt or labneh, and you have a new special treat. Top with some lamb sausage or even some brisket and make open face sliders. Really, these are perfect for that!  And in case you are wondering this is not a farinata. No, these are most definitely chickpea pancakes.

Just like these latkes are quick and easy to make-well-I'm going to make this post short and quick to read. Don't tell Zoe, but I'm going to try and get a quick nap in, while she is off skiing. I'm exhausted and my daughter is wearing me out-but in a very good way!

Chickpea Latkes
Makes about 24
Time to Make: About 20 minutes
1 c canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 c chopped shallots
1 peeled medium sized potato
1 T chopped garlic
2 T olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t harissa
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
 3 T flour
1/2 t baking powder
Olive oil for pan frying
Your choice, but this is what I used:
Chunks of feta
Drizzle of pomegranate molasses
Pomegranate arils
Urfa chile flakes which are smoky and raisin like, and rich
Roasted Chick Peas

Puree the chickpeas, shallots, potato and garlic in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add the olive oil, and eggs and blend until smooth. Add cumin, harissa, salt, pepper, flour and baking powder and pulse to blend well. My mixture was very smooth. Pour batter into a large 4 cup measuring cup.

Heat 6 T oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking. Pour the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the hot oil. These will need to fry on both sides and I found it easiest to flip them when steam bubbles started to appear. (Just like pancakes) Make sure the underside is brown and crisp before flipping. Drain on paper towels. If necessary add more oil as needed, but allow the oil to heat before frying more pancakes.

More to Try:
Potato or Parsnip Latkes
Savory Sweet Potato Latkes
Matzoh Ball Soup
Onion Crusted Potato Kugel Casserole

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fool's Saltine Toffee

"Since tomorrow is National Cookie Day I thought you deserved something sweet. I published this recipe 4 years ago, but I have given you some updated photos. It is a good one and since Zoe is here visiting I'm sure we will be making  a batch. Enjoy"

Thirty years is a long time. Some years go faster than others. Some keep you wishing that they were already over. Some you wish you could repeat. You may wonder where this is going. Well, I’m one of those food bloggers that push the average age of food bloggers up-kind of way up. And this week I made it to thirty years of marriage. A milestone in my book. I should have something to say about that, huh?

 I suppose if it had been an easy year, I might not reflect so much; but this year has been hard. Financially things are challenging, but like so many we are weathering the storm. In fact, the last 10 years have been tough and I am truly amazed we are still here; together and in our home. Things have not only been financially rough, but we’ve had other hurdles to cross, too. And in my mind we will be jumping them for a long time. Now my husband is an optimist and he thinks we will be OK soon. I hope he’s right. Oh, I hope he’s right.

 Thirty years ago things were wonderful and the world was our oyster. Today, two perfect pearls later, things may not be so wonderful, but our pearls are still perfect and I am oh, SO proud of them. When I wonder what my contribution might be to our crazy world I have little doubt that we have given it something enormous, something special, something perfect and beautiful. But we all say that about our children, don’t we? (Well, if you don’t, you should.)  Getting married is the easy part. It’s the after that can become hard and it is the commitment we have to them and to each other that has caused us to endure so long.

Marriage to me is like the mountains. You have the peaks and you have the valleys. Well, the valleys can be beautiful but it is the peaks you have to climb to get in and out of the valley. Let me be honest here. There are times I thought I could just walk away but I knew that my decision impacted others and that was just a risk I wasn’t willing to take. My husband hasn’t been perfect but than I guess neither have I. However we love each other and are dedicated to each other and God willing, we still will have enough time to find our way together-happily ever after.

The world becomes very small when you are struggling. Struggles are not things that others want to hear about. Especially when it has been so long. But I am here to say that WE are still here. Together. Not perfect, but together. We’ve made it this far and we haven’t given up. We marked the occasion with three glasses of wine---- each. At a place where we had a Groupon. It was cheap and good thing, because other than the wine it wasn’t very good. Good luck to them, too! We went next door to get a hot dog but they told us they had just closed. We ended up eating Chinese that was  just OK, but we were together and we made an occasion that we will remember and thirty years is worth remembering-isn’t it? Maybe next year we can be in Hawaii or Italy or Napa but this year-well-it was OK to still just be here.

And that brings me to food. Something sweet, something simple. Marriage is so complicated that I didn’t want to stress my brain out further. And so I made these. They were sent to me long ago by the person who I baked Onion Lover's Twist Challah with, and they have been in my repertoire since. A good thirty years. My kids love them as does my husband. They are perfect for gifts and you can make them several ways. I use saltines, but you could also use graham crackers or matzah, which is what I do in the spring. You can top them with milk chocolate or dark chocolate and add nuts if you want. Some people call them Fool’s Toffee which I guess is what marriage makes you feel like some days. And you break it into pieces like real toffee, so it too is a little rough around the edges. Like life. Sometimes the smoothest path is full of stones.

Fool’s Toffee
Makes 1 15 x 10" pan
About 15 minutes to make and 5 minutes to bake
2 sticks butter
1 c packed dark brown sugar
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
12 oz chocolate chips
1/2 c nuts finely chopped (optional)
36 Saltines
Preheat oven to 375.

Line a 15 x 10 pan with foil. Butter lightly. Line with saltines or matzoh.

Bring butter and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Take off heat and stir in vanilla and salt. It will bubble. Make sure mixture is well mixed and cohesive. I usually beat this with a whisk to make sure everything is incorporated.

Pour butter mixture  over saltines evenly. Bake for 5 minutes.It will bubble, but do not let this burn! Take out of oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. As they melt, spread  them evenly over your toffee. Top with finely chopped nuts if you choose. Refrigerate until cool. Break into pieces.
Take a bite and remember how sweet life is.

Sweet Goodness
More to Try:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Za'atar Roast Chicken with Lemon and Red Onions

Thanksgiving is behind us and at least for me, Hanukkah is ahead. There is a quick turn around time this year with Hanukkah starting next Sunday, so I spent the weekend cleaning wax off of my heavily dripped upon menorahs. I think it has been years since I've done this and I did manage to get 8 of them fairly clean. No Zoe-I didn't do all of them. I figured 8 is enough! From now on-thanks to my Illinois cousins-I will put aluminum foil at the base of each candle to avoid a waxy mess. Now why didn't someone tell me this sooner?

Next year Hanukkah doesn't begin until Christmas Eve so I know I will be more than ready. Hah! Who am I kidding? It always seems like a rush to be ready and my kids are both grown so what am I kvetching about? In either case, there is always one food that we will be eating on Hanukkah and that is latkes. I think it is the one time in my house where it is legal to fry. I could gorge on fried potato pancakes, but I always try to make a real meal, which must include more than fried foods-much to my regret!

You know that za'atar is one of my favorite seasonings so I must not let the year slip by without sharing this very simple roasted chicken. I made mine with just chicken breasts but one could easily use a spatchcocked chicken or a chicken divided into quarters. This is an easy marinade and bake. That way one can focus on frying the latkes! Sumac has a lemony, tart taste and does give the chicken a pink coloring. Combined with the red onions this chicken is very colorful.

This is another Ottolenghi special from his book, Ottolenghi. I am a fan and I know you know it. Maybe if someone reads this they will get me his latest cookbook! Hint...Hint...It is that time of year. I'd love to know your favorite cookbooks-old or new. Cookbooks are some of my favorite reads and just like one can never have too much jewelry; well for me the same can be said of cookbooks. I go often to the library to try out new ones, but then if I really like it I don't want to give them back. I usually keep checking them out over and over until they won't let me anymore. Yes. I'm that girl!

So on to the chicken. It's a good one to have in your back pocket. The spices make it something unusual which is always fun to try when company's coming. Give it a go. I don't think you will be disappointed!

Za'atar Roast Chicken with Lemons and Red Onions
Serves 4 -6 (Depends on how you cut the chicken)
Time to Make: A few hours or overnight to marinate-About 20 minutes to prep-And 45-60 minutes to bake
1 4-5 lb chicken cut as desired
2 red onions thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 T olive oil
1 1/2 t ground allspice
1 t cinnamon
1 T sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3/4 c water or chicken stock
1 1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground pepper

2 T za'atar

To Garnish: (Optional)
Pine nuts sauteed in butter
Fresh chopped parsley
Drizzle of olive oil
More za'atar and sumac

In a large zip lock bag mix chicken with onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt and pepper, (not the za'atar).  Let marinate for a few hours or even overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate all of the chicken lying flat and spaced apart, skin side up. Sprinkle with za'atar and place in oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes, until the chicken is colored and cooked through.

Transfer the chicken and onions to a serving platter and finish with your chosen garnishes. I always sprinkle on more za'atar and sumac!

More to Try:
Savory Sweet Potato Latkes
Smoked Salmon with Caper Sauce and Dill
Roast Chicken with Saffron and Hazelnuts
Traditional Latkes
Parsnip Potato Latkes

Pin for the future:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Crostata and a #WholeFoodsGiveaway

Somehow Thanksgiving has come, just as it does every year. This year though, it seems to have descended upon me quite quickly. I think it was our weather. Denver has had a pretty good Fall and it just didn't seem to be getting seasonal. Today was 60 degrees and tomorrow will be about the same. Wednesday though may start to bite us in the butt, but that's OK. I'm kind of ready to start hibernation!

This year my Thanksgiving will be a bit quiet. Though I am invited to my very close friend's home, where I have celebrated many Thanksgivings, it still doesn't seem the same without being surrounded by  my kids and husband. Though I have celebrated with my parents, it was never a regular thing. So I'm a bit melancholy and even though I decorated for autumn, I'll probably start getting out the menorahs this week because Zoe will arrive next week, and I can't wait!

And that leads into this crostata. I've been making this for years and it is a fall favorite. I don't think I've ever served it for Thanksgiving, though it is a perfect dessert for it. Toasted pecans and cranberries are perfect to round out a great holiday meal and this isn't too rich for a finale! It is easy to put together and to make ahead.

Though one can make a walnut crust dough, which I admit I did, to be honest I like this better with a traditional pie crust. The original recipe called for the walnut pie crust but I found it quite thick and I don't think the flavors of the crostata filling shined through. Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you, because this is perfect with a premade crust. I've always done that in the past and why I changed it up, I don't know!

Where might you find a great premade crust? I know you know the answer to this! Yes, Whole Foods sells Immaculate pie crusts in the refrigerator section. The beauty of this crostata is in its simplicity. So keep it simple, OK? The filling requires heavy cream and I buy a large container so I can whip some up for the topping. I added some maple syrup to it which was perfect for this! I also topped it with some sugared cranberries and a few maple glazed pecans.

Needless to say Manservant was happy to take a few slices for the road. I feel for him this trip. He is actually going around the world. He is going first to Dubai, and though I've heard awesome things about it, I am sure glad to be here in my warm and cozy home. Then it is back to Korea, and then finally home, where Zoe and I will be waiting. I'm thankful for that!

Needless to say, I'll be keeping it easy this year. I hope you do too. Save some time by filling in with the great food that Whole Foods has to offer. Now is the time to spend with family.Trust me-I know.

Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Crostata
Serves 4-6
Time to make: About 15 minutes active - 2 hours and 10 minutes chilling - 30 minutes bake time
1 prepared pie crust (I buy them rolled in the box)
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c sugar plus 1 T for top of crostata
1 c dried cranberries
1 1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans plus 2 T chopped for top of crostata
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla or maple extract
Heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, stir and dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil then adjust the heat and allow to simmer for 6 minutes.Remove from heat and add the cranberries,nuts, cinnamon and extract. Stir to combine.

Line a 9" pie pan with plastic wrap. Transfer the filling to the pie pan, spreading the mixture to the edges. Chill until ready to assemble.

When mixture is chilled, preheat oven to 375. Roll out the dough according to package directions and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Invert the chilled cranberry and nut mixture onto the pie crust. Fold up edges of pie dough around the filling, leaving a 4" window of filling. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk an egg yolk. Brush over the crostata. Sprinkle with nuts, then sprinkle with 1 T of sugar. Place crostata while still on parchment onto a baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

More to Try:

To Pin for Later: