Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Easy Raspberry Meringue Cake with Chocolate Ganache

The first time I made a meringue cake was during Passover. Flourless and usually dairy free, well, that is if you serve it with just fruit, meringues make a perfect, usually light dessert which makes them well suited after a heavy, filling meal. In this case, with a ton of chocolate and exquisite raspberry flavored filling, this cake made for a decadent affair. I think everyone kept the secret well. We were all too stuffed to talk!

This cake is something to celebrate. It is easy and fairly quick to make, and even a meringue novice like me met with success. I found this cake over at Sweetapolita and with a simple tweak, I made it my own. With such a big meal and other desserts in addition to this one, I knew I had to scale this a bit smaller. Three layers would have been way to much for our group and meringues are something that need to be eaten fairly quick; though I must say that this held in cake form for three days. I did make the meringues separately and didn't layer them with the filling and ganache until the day of.

I think it is fitting that I give you this recipe on such a happy day. Finally, a new Skye terrier is in our lives and we are thrilled. Maybe not Freddie so much, but I know she will come around. Geordie, who we named after our precious George, has some big paws to fill. I know he will, too because he has been such a joy over these last two days. Truthfully, I should name him Shadow, because that's all he does is shadow me all day long. It was a hard year without George and though I know Geordie will never be his replacement, he does fill a piece of my heart. I loved all the names everyone suggested and I kept a list of about 20 of them, until we finally settled at this. Who knew that naming a puppy could be so hard?

Which is one thing this cake isn't. This cake is not hard to make. May is filled with celebrations. Mother's Day, graduations, prom, bridal showers, dog parties-you name it. May is a great month to bake this cake. Throw some berries on top. Throw them between the layers. Leave out the chocolate. Add more chocolate. Change the flavor. Play with this cake the way I've been playing with this pup. Speaking of pups? Best go track this one down!

Raspberry Meringue Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Serves 8-10
Time To Make:
About 20 minutes to make and 2.5 hours to bake
Adapted from: Sweetapolita

8 egg whites at room temperature
1 2/3 c sugar
Pinch of salt

12 oz bittersweet chocolate,
1 1/3 c heavy cream

2/3 c heavy cream
3/4 of a tablespoon sugar
1/3 c Framboise
1 1/4 c mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 250 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using the bottom of an 8" round pan, trace two circles onto paper.

In a very clean mixing bowl and using whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Add sugar slowly and continue beating until the mixture reaches stiff, glossy peaks.

Spread mixture evenly into circle outlines. Bake for approximately 2.5 hours, or until dry and crisp, rotating pans every 20 minutes. When finished baking, turn off oven and leave pans in oven for another 60 minutes. Make sure meringues are dry all the way through. This may take longer if you are in a high humidity area. These should not brown. Remove from oven and leave on tray to cool. Layers will expand when baked. I stored these in plastic grocery bags tied shut, until ready to use.

To make ganache, place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in  small sauce pan or microwave and bring just to a boil. When the cream has just begun to boil, remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk until smooth. Allow to cool until thick enough to spread.

To make raspberry filling: Use a cold stainless bowl with a whisk attachment and whip the cream with the sugar until thick. Add Framboise and whip again until mixture holds its shape. Place softened mascarpone cream in medium bowl and fold in the whipped cream mixture.

Assembly: Place one meringue round on platter and spread 1/2 of mascarpone cream filling over layer. Then spread 1/2 of ganache over filling. Top with 2nd meringue layer. Then mascarpone filling and the rest of the ganache. Garnish with raspberries. Store cake in refrigerator. Cut using a sharp, non-serrated knife in a gentle sliding manner.

More Decadent Desserts:
Banana Cake with Nutella Frosting
Chocolate Fudge Loaf Cake
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Kadaif or Middle Eastern Cheesecake
Salted Honey Rose Pie

Friday, April 24, 2015

Crunchy Coconut Oil Granola with Pineapple and Cashews

This pina colada style granola is crunchy and crisp. Perfect for eating out of hand, sprinkled on yogurt or ice cream, or topped with milk. I often leave it on the counter for Manservant who grabs it by the handful. I can't claim that it is calorie free, but it sure is a good pick me up.

Since I posted my crack granola, I've kind of been on a granola whirl. I made it for a friend's daughter who's been battling cancer, and she loved it. Craves it actually. So much so that I've had numerous requests for more. (I promise. More is coming!) I think it is the combination of salty and sweet that makes it so incredibly addicting. I'm so happy when I can make someone happy. Yes, another batch will soon be prepared for her, but with my crazy schedule I haven't gotten her any since before Passover.

In the meantime, I came up with a different version that I also like a lot. Let's be honest here though! The crack granola is hands down my favorite. But if your taste buds should feel like a refreshing change then here is another one with coconut oil, that claims to cure everything.  Have you seen those ads popping up like crazy? I wish it was so easy to cure everything, then I'd be a millionare!

And here's two other versions of crack granola made by friends of mine.   Liz made this awesome pistachio coconut granola that sounds awesome. And Ansh at Spice Roots made a version with goji berries, blueberries and multi grains, but I don't think she posted a recipe. Great combo though and do you believe I've never had goji berries?

Pistachio Coconut Granola

Aren't goji berries supposed to cure everything, too?

So today I'm getting right to it. I've got a busy weekend and Manservant has returned. It's only been three weeks; I don't know what's been keeping him. First stop is the pet store to pick up a few things like a new dog bed. Maybe some special treats and some puppy food. Yes, we are getting a new addition to the family. I'm busily searching names and would love suggestions. But you'll have to tune in next week for pics! Nothing like a little teaser, eh?

In the meantime, go make some granola!

Crunchy Coconut Oil Granola with Pineapple and Cashews (but macadamias would be good, too!)
Makes about 5-6 cups
Time to Make: About 15 minutes and 45 to bake

2 3/4 c oats
1 c cashews
1/3 c sliced almonds
1/3 c coconut oil
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c honey
2 t salt
3/4 c chopped dried pineapple
1/4 c golden raisins
1/4 c coconut chips (I get mine from Trader Joe's)

Preheat oven to 300. I use my broiler pan lined with a silpat pad or parchment paper and find that this is the perfect sized pan for this amount.

Place oats, cashews or macs and almonds on pan. Mix so everything is evenly distributed.

In a 4 cup measuring cup or a medium sized bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, honey and salt. Mix this up and place in microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir and then place in microwave on power 7 for 1 minute. All microwaves are different. If you want to do this on the stove you can. All you are trying to do is dissolve the sugar and liquify the coconut oil. Do not burn this. Whisk again well, to make sure everything is combined. Pour over oat mixture and mix this until everything is well coated. I use a spatula and press it down firmly in one layer in the pan. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes. Now using a flipper type spatula,  turn the granola over in large pieces. Press down gently so as not to break up your clumps, and place in oven for another 20 minutes. Watch toward the end, because you don't want to burn your granola!

Take granola out of oven and sprinkle with pineapple, coconut and raisins. Granola will crisp as it cools. After it cools, it can be broken into large pieces. I use a large zip lock bag and break it into small pieces and some large shards. Perfect for eating right out of the bag!

A few more to try:
Everything but the Bagel Scrambled Eggs
British Scones
Candied Pepper Bacon
Hashbrown Spud Cups

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars

Last weekend found me in Chicago for another family occasion. I haven't seen this much family in years! There was not a spare moment to be had and I came home exhausted and playing catch up. It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that Zoe and I finally made it into the city. We set off on Michigan Avenue, took a few quick pics at Millenium Park,

grabbed some Garret's caramel corn and headed to Eataly.

We perused the offerings and dreamily wished there was one located in each of our home towns. Monday morning found us at Little Goat and wishing we had room for one of everything. I had the "One Little Piggy went to China" which was a biscuit topped with Asian chorizo, a fried egg and a green onion sauce with blackberries on top. Heaven on a biscuit. Maybe that would bring Manboy home.

It was then off to the Art Institute,

 a quick lunch at the University Club,

and then because Zoe can not be held back, a trip up State Street to grab a donut ice cream sandwich at Fire Cakes before we caught a cab to Midway. I love the Windy City and it was true to its name. Chicago always reminds me of happy things, because as a child we often went there for special occasions. I love going back and hope it won't be too long before I can visit again.

But on to rhubarb. Rhubarb is something  that grew in our neighbor's yard. It is something I did not eat, though I also think it is something my mother did not share. Besides stealing the neighbor's peonies, my mother also stole the rhubarb. Yes, my mother is a thief of things, in the shade of pink. I can remember her going through the bushes, scissors in hand and cutting from each plant so the theft didn't look obvious. Why my mother never asked Frances if she could have some is beyond me. I am sure she wouldn't have minded. After all, she did let us play Cowboys and Indians in her yard.

Maybe that's why rhubarb always seemed so mysterious.  Mom never served it to us and if I recall she only made stewed rhubarb, which wasn't particularly appealing to me. It wasn't until last year that I had my first taste of rhubarb. Someone brought me a rhubarb crumble that was particularly delicious. And pretty. And we all know everything is pretty in pink.

My first official taste found me wondering why I had waited so long. The slightly sour fruit left a tang in my mouth that found me wanting more. So this year when rhubarb became available I was ready. I used rhubarb in tzimmes which is a Jewish dish traditionally made of prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes. It may or may not have meat. I threw in some rhubarb and thought it was pretty good. Yes, it was also the first time I made tzimmes, as I never liked that as a kid either!

And then I made these shortbread bars with a rhubarb, black pepper topping. I was amazed that the rhubarb keeps its pretty pink color. These bars are luscious, easy to make and quickly disappear. Using a shortbread crust and then topping it with a rhubarb, strawberry jam mixture made such a delightful dessert. Though these are bars, they are sticky; so I suggest serving them as dessert with a scoop of ice cream. I added some black pepper to the strawberry jam and found that pepper has an affinity for rhubarb and vanilla.

Grab some rhubarb. Don't hesitate. The world of rhubarb awaits!

Rhubarb and Black Pepper Shortbread Bars
Makes 1 13 x 9 pan
About 20 minutes to prepare and 55 minutes to bake

2 c flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 c softened butter

1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c flour
2 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t allspice
4 eggs
1/2 c strawberry jam
4 1/2 c chopped rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350.
Make crust by combining flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Cut in softened butter until mixture resembles small crumbs. Grease a 13 x 9 pan and pat mixture into pan. Put into oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove.

To make topping: Combine salt, flour, sugar, black pepper and allspice. In a large mixing cup beat eggs with jam. Stir into flour mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped rhubarb and mix well. Spread topping onto shortbread crust. Return to oven and bake for 55 minutes. Let cool. Serve with ice cream or not. Store in refrigerator.

A Few More to Try:
Microwave Caramel Corn
Strawberry Spiral Biscuit Pie
Chicken Vesuvio

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shrimp Salad Croissants

Shrimp salad croissants remind me of St. Augustine; old St. Augustine, the oldest continuously settled town in America. Why shrimp salad croissants? Well. A long, long time ago I can still remember when we drove to Jacksonville, Florida where Manservant had accepted his first real job, after completing his masters degree. It was 1981 which also was the year we got married. I remember the choices of jobs were slim at the time and it was either Jacksonville or International Falls, Minnesota. Not really much of a choice, huh? (With all due respect to International Falls. They did offer him a snowmobile as part of the deal!)

So we found ourselves leaving Fort Collins with all of our belongings including our beloved Honey dog. (She used to chase the alligators at the apartment complex where we lived). We arrived in Jacksonville and I remember the first smell that greeted us was the aroma of paper mills. Not a nice aroma, I dare say. Jacksonville was a new experience for us. Manservant grew up in Texas and so he was a bit used to Southern ways, but for me it was like being a fish out of water.

Well, we lasted about two years in Jacksonville and actually it turned out to be a pretty good place, Except for maybe the humidity, the bugs and the sweet tea! I never could get used to sweet tea! We quickly found a beautiful, new apartment where there was no smell of mildew and not a palmetto bug in sight. (Alright, in case you don't know a palmetto bug is a polite way of saying cockroach.) Our new apartment was sprayed monthly by the management which made me feel so cockroach free. Until it didn't. That was about the point when I started bugging (BUGGING!) Manservant to look for a new job. Avoiding palmetto bugs became an obsession with me. I was afraid to open cabinets, especially at night, for fear of what I might find. These guys fly! And they fly at you!

But back to shrimp. Shrimp salad. On flaky croissants. Not far from Jacksonville was the quaint little town of St. Augustine. We quickly discovered the back road to get  there and on weekends it was often our quick getaway! I always felt as if I were on a mini vacation, even if we had just spent a few hours walking the narrow cobblestone streets lined with tsotchke shops. (Tsotchke - a Yiddish word meaning trinkets or items of little value.) We discovered a little French cafe that served these shrimp salad croissants and I don't think we ever tried another restaurant.

Driving back, I think it was on Old Route 1, passing the alligator farm on the way, made me realize I wasn't in Colorado anymore. Yes, we did stop one time and if you've never been to an alligator farm it is a unique experience. There is even one in Colorado that we've toured. I also remember passing roadside stands with folks selling Vidalia onions from Georgia! I guess this was before they became popular!

So it is when I'm by myself, I often find my mind wandering. I found myself thinking of the beach and how long it has been since I've seen one. I found myself thinking of where I've been and where I've come from and well, one thought led to another until I found myself wanting a shrimp salad croissant. I didn't want a turkey sandwich. I didn't want shrimp salad stuffed in a tomato or an avocado. I wanted the soft, salty taste of shrimp salad with little bits of crunchy celery, stuffed into the confines of a giant flaky croissant. Trust me. This is the way to eat shrimp salad. I didn't want frou frou shrimp salad. I wanted to eat this with potato chips. I wanted to drink an icy beer. And I wanted to remember how far we've come from St. Augustine, Florida. It's been a journey!

Shrimp salad croissants would be perfect for  Mother's Day. They are easy to make and always seem a bit special. After all it isn't every day, I eat a croissant. And it isn't every day I find myself having shrimp for lunch. Tuna, yes. Shrimp, no. These are perfect for a picnic basket. I would take the shrimp salad in a container and just quickly make them up at your favorite destination!

Shrimp Salad Croissants
Serves 2-4
Time to Make - About 15 minutes

1/4 c mayonnaise
1 t Dijon mustard
1/4 c finely chopped green onion
1/4 c chopped celery
1 chopped hard boiled egg (optional)
2 T minced Italian parsley
2 t fresh dill, minced
1 T lemon juice
1 1/2 t Old Bay seasoning
1 T drained capers

8 oz salad shrimp (if frozen, make sure they are well drained)

2 -4 croissants (depends on how packed you want these)
Mixed Greens or Arugula

Combine mayonnaise and all other ingredients except shrimp, and mix well. Gently fold in shrimp. I love this at room temperature but you can chill it for a few days if necessary. Slice croissants and put shrimp salad directly on half of croissant. Top with some greens and other half of croissant.

More to Try:
Buttery Garlic Parmesan Potato Chips
Saigon Crunch Chex Mix
Hatch Chile and Pepedew Pimento Less Cheese
Egg Salad
Fudge Brownies with Cookie Dough Filling

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pineapple Guacamole with Chipotle and Tequila

Who doesn't love guacamole? As a child my mother would make it for special occasions such as Thanksgiving. I would never think of serving guac for Thanksgiving but back then finding a fresh avocado in the grocery was a big deal and so it became a big deal at holidays. Well, that is until she discovered artichoke dip and then that quickly became our favorite. She made her luscious green concoction with a hard boiled egg and we happily devoured the bowl like rabid dogs. Mom served it with potato chips or Fritos as nary a tortilla chip was found on the grocery shelves. My how that has changed.

I can't say I have ever found anyone that doesn't like guacamole. I'm sure there are those who won't touch the stuff, but here in Colorado I haven't found a one. Guacamole is what's served along with salsa and chips as the standby appetizer. Being so easy to whip up and now with the countless frozen varieties, one literally doesn't have to do a thing but open a container and put out the chips. Well, I know you now I'm not that type.

My standard version of whipping up guac generally involved some garlic, some lime, and some cilantro and onions. Add some jalapeno for heat and season it up with salt and that was pretty much it. I found myself utilizing the avocado also as a last minute after thought. Pity the poor avocado! Well, that is until I decided to take the time and come up with a new version. Still just as simple, but this time with a bit more thought involved. I'm not saying to give up your old version, but sometimes it is a good thing to break out of the rut.

Enter the pineapple. Pineapple and avocado are both tropical fruits and work really well together. I decided it was time for them to elope. And what a wedding it was. Filled with sweetness and spice, it is a marriage that I dare say will last a long time! Each bite contains the velvety texture of the avocado and the magical spiciness of chipotle, mixed with the delicious chewy taste of dried pineapple. And don't discount the tiny bit of tequila at work here. It certainly is not necessary to use, but just one teaspoon adds so much zip. Really. It does.

Now I know you know that Cinco de Mayo is around the corner. What better time to try a new version of guacamole? And what better time to be saying, "OLE!".

The winner of the Whole Foods Giveaway for March is  #48 from the Random Number Generator, Tricia Buice. OLE!

Feel free to share and pin this recipe. It is a winner! And if you need tips for how to choose a ripe avocado, take a look here.

Pineapple Guacamole with Chipotle and Tequila
Serves 2-4 May be doubled or tripled!
Time to Make: About 10 minutes

1 ripe avocado
3 T dried pineapple (I used Mariani, sold in the produce section)
1/4 c finely chopped green onion
2 T chopped cilantro
2-3 t chopped chipotle (I always have these in the fridge.They can be found in the Mexican food section as chipotles in adobo sauce. Transfer to another container and keep in the fridge. They keep indefinitely.)
1/8 t salt or to taste
1 t tequila

Chop dried pineapple into small pieces. Place in a small mixing bowl. Add green onion, cilantro, chipotle, salt and tequila. Mix up and then add your avocado. Mash it well into the other ingredients. I love this with blue corn tortilla chips that are seasoned with chile powder!

Other good food:
Artichoke Dip
Corn and Green Chile Quesadillas
New Mexican Chicken Enchiladas
Carne Asada
Shitake Stuffed Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas
Coconut Rum Tres Leches Cake
Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole
Tomatilla Salsa
Pico de Gallo Salsa

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Matzoh Ball Soup and Passover 2015

Chicken Soup cures everything, some say. Well, I'm sure glad I had a bowl leftover from our Seder, because I needed some soothing. Between all the comings and goings, I now have an empty house and that is taking some getting used to. Sunday found Manservant leaving early for Sweden and almost not getting there because United wanted to hold him in the US since his passport expires in three months. It appears that the airlines get fined if they let someone fly to a country where they violate passport rules. Well, Manservant being Manservant, had checked with Swedish border patrol and they said no problem. The problem was when United wouldn't check with Sweden. It seems rules apply and they don't like to budge; but they did after speaking with border patrol on the phone. In that time they also managed to pull Manservant's baggage from the flight, which he conveniently found out about when he arrived in Stockholm.

They skied. I cooked!

Alex also left on Sunday. He discovered that if you fly Southwest and don't show for the first segment of your itinerary they cancel the entire itinerary. He found himself having to buy a last minute seat to LAX because Southwest canceled him on his way over. It appears that when one is flying over the Pacific on a 6 hour delayed flight, that one should still find a way to let Southwest know they won't be making their flight. Now had he booked two one way flights on Southwest, his flight back to LAX wouldn't have been canceled. Yes, I have filed a major complaint with Southwest, who I used to adore. Word to the wise: Never fly Southwest if you are coming in from overseas, especially if you think your flight will be delayed. And never, ever, book Southwest as a round trip. They may let you take free luggage but trust me, they have found ways to recoup their costs!

Alex visiting his buds at Matsuhisa while wearing Manservant's Chinese silk jacket. (At least it is getting used!)
So after seeing Manservant off and Alex rebooking his flight, we sat down for a breakfast of matzoh brei. Matzoh brei is kind of a Jewish version of migas, and is quite good, if I say so myself. It can be prepared sweet or savory and I should make it for you, but I didn't. After brunch, it was time to take my folks to the airport and luckily they had no problems!

We then came home and Alex had numerous female visitors, which left him packing late in the afternoon. Zoe and I took him for the 45 minute one way drive to the airport about 8pm. We then came home where I proceeded to pass out!

Monday found us heading up to Greeley to see PUPPIES! It's getting close and soon I will be able to take one home permanently. I will always miss George and this isn't his replacement; it is just one more way to add that special Skye magic back to my life. So take a look at this, why don't you? George was a black Skye.These pups are born black but they will change color. I know you can only see their heads but soon they are expected to have white bodies and a black muzzle, ears and tail! Any puppy tips, I need to know?

Tuesday Zoe and I left the house at 5:15AM for my last trip to good old DIA. (At least until next week). She made it with 5 minutes to spare because TSA didn't have enough agents at security. She said many others were in the same boat and her flight was half empty. I'm sure glad she made it because I did not want to turn around! BUT, I would have because it was Zoe and I love her.

So now I'm faced with catch up. My house is dirty again and the floors are gray. I have two extra sets of sheets and towels to wash and lots of matzoh crumbs to sweep up. My heart is full, but it is a bittersweet full, because I so loved having my family around. The time with Alex was way to short. First he headed to Salt Lake for a college ski reunion. He then came home and his friends popped out of the woodwork. Last he went to Vail to see his old homies and I stayed here and cooked! Don't know when we'll see him again, but we are planning on attending a wedding in Costa Rica next January, so I expect if we don't see him before, he'll manage to pop up then!                                                        

Passover was special. We had a perfect Seder and drank at least the requisite four glasses of wine. Yes, we do have a lot to choose from now that my parents downsized their wine cellar, too!

Passover for the first time found me using my Abraham Lincoln dishes. Well, I have 4 pieces and my brother has the rest in a box in the garage. Let me tell you the story so my kids will have it in writing. My mother grew up in Danville, Illinois. When she was about 10 years old my grandfather went to an estate sale at the Woodbury estate. Old Abe often stayed there when he rode his law circuit and my grandfather was told that these were dishes he ate off of. Well, when he arrived home with countless boxes of gorgeous china wrapped in linen and damask cloths, Grandma Fanny was furious. Grandpa Burt also came home with several other pieces of china and a diamond ring. My grandma decided to use the dishes and now countless chips and evidence of dish washing have taken their tole on them. However my Grandpa did win her heart back when he decided to sell the ring and it more than covered what he paid for the dishes!

Well, that's enough for the table, but I thought it was so pretty this year!
Truthfully, I don't ever remember my Grandma using the dishes and when she died my mother got them. She kept them on display, but I don't remember her using them either. Now that she has downsized, I finally received a few pieces. Since Passover is a holiday of freedom, I thought it fitting to use them on our Passover table and I intend to make that a tradition. (They are my centerpiece in the picture.)  Field Museum later offered to buy the set from my Grandma Fanny, but she wouldn't sell. We don't have many heirlooms in our family because we don't have a lot of history here, and every heirloom counts!

So now it's onward and upward and I feel like I need  two weeks to catch up for the week I "lost". 
 I am so needing this chicken soup! 

A few notes: No need to make matzoh balls if you don't want them. This makes a great chicken soup to use with your favorite noodles, too! Also feel free to use Manishewitz matzo ball mix. I, more times than not, do. You can use the chicken fat from the soup and use that to make your balls! I am determined to learn how to make matzo balls because every girl must have a goal, don't you know? Keep in mind that there are two camps on matzoh balls. There are those that like sinkers and those that like floaters. I prefer mine a bit dense so I am of the sinker camp. Be sure not to crowd your matzoh balls in the pot. They need space to expand. If they are to close together they don't get cooked and then they really are sinkers.

I precooked my matzoh balls in chicken broth made from Better than Bouillon because I didn't want to use up all my chicken soup. Matzoh balls do take in the liquid they are cooked in so sometimes you aren't left with much soup. I cooked them. Let them drain and then placed them in a plastic container with plastic wrap between the layers. I then froze them and let them thaw before I put them back in the actual soup to heat up.

Chicken Soup
Serves 10-12
30 minutes active
3 hrs cooking

5 garlic cloves
2 quartered onions
3 ribs of celery (cut into 4-5 pieces)
2 peeled parsnips (cut into 4 pieces)
1/2 of a celeriac (peeled and quartered)
1 peeled rutabaga
1 leek (washed and cut into 4-5 pieces)
1 package dill
1/2 bunch parsley

3 carrots (peeled and cut into 4-5 pieces)
1 5 lb chicken approximately, cleaned and I cut out the backbone so that it fits in the pot better, but this isn't necessary)
5 quarts of water
8 peppercorns

Place all vegetables in a big soup pot. Place chicken on top of the vegetables and herbs. Save the carrots until the end. Cover with about 5 quarts of water and add the peppercorns. Bring to a boil on medium heat, while covered. When water is boiling, skim the foam. Reduce heat to medium low and cover again. After soup has been simmering for about 2 1/2 hours, add the carrots. You want this to simmer very slowly for about 3 hours. (The slower you simmer, the more clear the broth.) Strain chicken broth into another pot or container. (I use the chicken meat in chicken salad or add it back to the soup or if I'm feeling generous, I feed it to Freddie.) Save the carrots for garnish. Discard the other vegetables and bones from the chicken. Chill the broth overnight. This allows the fat in the soup to rise to the top. In the morning, scrape the fat from the soup and now your soup is ready to be heated and eaten! I use the chicken fat to make matzoh balls, but you can use it for anything that requires oil to fry in. This is called schmaltz and it gives great flavor to any food.

Matzoh Balls
From: The New York Times Passover cookbook
Makes: About 12-18 matzoh balls
Time to Make: About 15 minutes to make the mixture. About 40-60 minutes to cook

8 c plus 1T chicken broth (to cook matzoh balls in)

1 1/4 c matzoh meal
5 large eggs
1 1/4 t salt
1 T vodka
2 T club soda
1/4 c vegetable oil or schmaltz (chicken fat)
1/t t ground pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t dill
1 T finely chopped parsley

Combine matzoh meal and eggs. Mix well. Add rest of the ingredients and 1 T chicken broth. Mix well again and put in freezer for 45 minutes. Use two tablespoons to form matzoh balls that are about two inches in diameter.

When you are ready to cook them, place them into simmering broth that is hot, but not yet boiling. Cover the pot and cook them for 40-60 minutes COVERED. Check to see if they are cooked through and if they are ready just gobble them up!

More Good Recipes:
Chopped Liver
Sephardic Charoses
Egg Salad
Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts and Honey
Not My Mother's Brisket
Matzoh Toffee
Macaroons Version 2
Ilse's Passover Mocha Nut Cake
Passover Fudge Cake
Marshmallows and Matzoh S'mores

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Banana Granola Toasting Bread

The week has flown by with our mysterious visitor from China who comes and goes, that sometime we aren't even sure if he's home. It seems he's going more than he's coming and I'm missing him even though he's close by. I have tried to keep him well fed while he has been around, so  he can have a change from his normal diet of noodles and noodles, sold on the streets of Shanghai. His favorite noodle man from Mongolia even asked him to bring back some American hot sauce!

It has been a crazy few weeks and tonight the daughter arrives and tomorrow my parents.  I am exhausted but in a good way, and I do have a lot more to cook. Cleaning is also on the agenda, because after all the cooking and schlepping of grocery bags through the still dirty winter garage, my floors look gray.

With Easter upon us, I wanted to pass this bread recipe along. I made it for the boy to take to Utah to share with his ski buddies and he told me that it was a hit. I've been so behind on posting that I'm actually taking a sitting break, and writing feels quite relaxing compared to what I've been doing recently! I'd like to keep my butt parked a bit longer, but I've got to hit Trader Joe's early so I can begin today's marathon.

Since every blog it seems must have a granola recipe, it also appears to need a banana bread recipe. I love banana bread and often keep my brown bananas frozen in a plastic bag in the freezer to have on hand for baking. Usually I forget about them, but I was on the ball when I made this recipe. This isn't a cakey banana bread. It is hearty and good and dense, all on its own. Filled with my crack granola and toasted banana chips, this bread really kicks it up a notch! Toasting this bread elevates it to a whole new level!  The aroma of bananas perfumes the kitchen and with a little  big slather of butter, you have just made a special kind of toast. Now I won't be eating this for Passover, but you can certainly enjoy this for your breakfast treat!

Happy Easter and Happy Passover and I'll be back next week with lots of good things that at the moment are sitting on my camera! I had planned to get out a bunch of Passover recipes but well, you see how that went. So it's off to Trader Joe's and my marathon day!

Banana Granola Toasting Bread
Makes 1 8 x 4 loaf and 17 x 4 loaf
Time to Make: About 20 minutes Time to Bake: About 45

1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 t vanilla
1 c mashed bananas ( A little more, a little less, doesn't hurt anything)
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 c flour
1 c of your favorite granola (or use mine which you should make at least once)
1/2 c banana chips (sold with the dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your pans. Mix together sugar, eggs and oil. Add yogurt and vanilla. Add bananas and walnuts. Combine flour with baking powder and baking soda. (This distributes the leavening agents better.) Stir into banana mixture. Last, but not least, stir in the granola and banana chips. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Slice and toast-or just eat. But make sure to enjoy!

More Good Food:
Belgian Liege Waffles
Almost Crack Granola
Everything But The Bagel Scrambled Eggs
Strawberry Crepes
Overnight Mexican Egg Casserole