Seared Balsamic – Glazed Carrots

balsamic-glazed-carrot

I am always looking for a good way to bring the symbolic foods into the meal. This is a delicious side dish that also warrants a special bracha.

Serves 4

4 peeled carrots, cut thinly on the diagonal
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, bring about 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots, blanch for about 2 minutes, and drain. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until smoking hot. Add the carrots and allow them to sit in the pan to sear, 2 to 5 minutes or until brown. Toss the carrots and sear again. Add the garlic and shallots and briefly sauté. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce over high heat until thick and carrots are coated, about 2 minutes. Add the marjoram and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.

Salmon and Red Snapper Ceviche

salmon-ceviche

The fish is cooked in the enzymes of the citrus fruit. It’s similar in texture to a tartare and has that fresh taste of sushi but it also has the amazing summer flavors that make it seasonal and super tasty.

Serves 8

1 pound fresh pink snapper, skinned and cut in half lengthwise, then cut into small dice
1 pound salmon, shelled, cut into small dice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
4 green onions, green and pale green part only, thinly sliced
1 or 2 jalapenos, finely diced depending on how spicy you like (you can remove the seeds and the membrane if you like it more mild)
1 ripe mango, peeled, halved, pitted and finely diced
1 peach, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 cup Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows, for garnish
Red onion, for garnish
Lime zest, for garnish
Avocado, optional
Kettle cooked potato chips, for garnish

Place the snapper and salmon in a large bowl. Toss with the lime and orange juice and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the snapper and salmon and place in a separate bowl.

Add the grape tomatoes, cilantro, onions, chiles, mango, peaches, salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss.

Place the ceviche on a serving platter or on individual plates. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Garnish with Red Onions, lime zest avocado and potato chips.

Lemon and Honey Cupcakes with Lemon Honey Frosting

Lemon-Honey-Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tofutti sour cream or sour cream
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, soy milk, or milk
1-1/2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted margarine, softened
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs

Lemon-Honey Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted margarine, softened
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl to blend. Whisk tofutti sour cream, soymilk, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl until well mixed.

Beat margarine, honey and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended.

With mixer on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture, then the sour cream mixture. Beat in remaining flour mixture until just combined.

Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting: beat margarine, honey and lemon zest in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamed, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar until blended. Beat in lemon juice until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow.

Spoon into a large zip lock freezer bag, snip off one corner and pipe onto cupcakes, or just spread frosting onto cupcakes.

Chilled Mango – Curry Soup

mango-curry-soup

This is a super flavorful and delicious cold soup. The mangos make sit super sweet and the curry and ginger make it super savory.

Serves 6

6 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ red onion, diced
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder, toasted
2 tablespoons sweet, hot chile sauce plus additonal, as needed
Soy sauce
2 scallions, minced

Put the mangoes, ginger, garlic, and onion in a blender and puree (or puree with a handheld blender). Add the stock, vinegar, curry, and chile sauce and blend just to combine. Season to taste with soy sauce and pour into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refigerate until cold, 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

Ladle the soup into chilled soup bowls and garnish with some of the scallions, sour cream, and chile sauce. Serve cold.

Honey and Dark Beer Chocolate Cake

guinness-cake

Serves 10

1 cup Guinness MINUS 2 tablespoons (if you do not have Guinness use another dark beer)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup tofutti sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

For Frosting
8 ounces tofutti cream cheese
1-1/4 cups powered sugar
1/2 cup pareve whipping cream

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 9-inch spring form pan and line with parchment paper.

Heat margarine and Guinness in large saucepan until margarine is almost melted, Add honey and blend well until mixture is fully blended. Remove from heat. Whisk in superfine sugar and cocoa. Beat Tofutti sour cream, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl; add the Guinness mixture to the mixing bowl. Blend well, then beat in the flour and baking soda.

Pour batter in to pan and bake for the first 20 minutes at 325°F, then increase temperature to 350°F for last 25-30 minutes, or until tester comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

For frosting, beat powered sugar and Tofutti cream cheese together until creamy. Add pareve cream and beat until spreadable. Frost the top. Serve.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Roasted Shallots and Dried Cherries

braised-lamb-shank-cherry

Dried sweet fruit pairs perfectly with lamb. The mellow shallots add depth of flavor. This is a great main dish for Rosh Hashannah.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 shallots, peeled
6 whole cloves garlic
6 (10-12 ounce) lamb shanks
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup flour
1 cup red wine
2 ½ cups lamb or veal stock or beef stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put the olive oil, shallots, and garlic in a large roasting pan, cover with a lid, and place in the oven. Roast for about 1 hour, or until the shallots and garlic are soft to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and place on the stovetop over high heat. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Place the flour on a large plate and dredge the lamb in it. Place the shanks in the pan and sear both sides well, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine and reduce over high heat by about half. Add the stock, vinegar, cherries, and thyme, cover with a lid, and place in the oven. Cook until tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove the pan from the oven and season the broth to taste with the salt and pepper. Place the lamb on a serving platter. Slice and serve hot with the sauce spooned over.

Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 8

Add anything you like to this salad, toasted nuts, hearts of palm, other fruits or dried fruits. It’s sweet and crunchy and great for the holidays.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette: 

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 small cloves garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoon finely diced red onion

4 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, defrosted

2/3 cup olive oil

For the salad:
6 cups spinach leaves
1 apple, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup dried apples

For the dressing, in an immersion blender, whirl the vinegars, garlic, Dijon mustard, red onion, and apple juice concentrate. Add the oil in a stream, while the blender is on to mix until incorporated and emulsified. Store until ready to use.

For the salad: In a large bowl, mix together the spinach leaves, apple, mushrooms, and onion. Toss with the dressing. Add the dried apple and mix in. Serve immediately.

Apple Cranberry Turnovers

apple-cranberry-turnover
Makes 8 large turnovers

1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted margarine, at room temperature
6 ounces pareve cream cheese, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups (12 ounces) flour, more for rolling
Kosher salt
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
4 medium apples (about 1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored, and sliced ¼ inch thick
¾ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
About ¼ cup turbinado sugar (or granulated) for sprinkling

Put 1 cup (2 sticks) of the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the pareve cream cheese, and mix on medium to blend, 30 seconds longer.

Scrape the bowl again, add the flour and ½ teaspoon salt, and mix on low speed just until it comes together in a ball. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a square slab. Wrap the plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Meanwhile, put the remaining ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, the light brown sugar, and a pinch of salt in a large skillet over medium heat. When the margarine is melted, add the apples and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Mix the cranberries and lemon juice and cool completely.

When you’re ready to roll the dough, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment or nonstick liner.

Transfer one half of the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll it out into 12 inch square about 1/8 thick. You won’t have much excess dough, so trim and reposition pieces of the edge to make a straight-sided square, pressing seams firmly to seal. Cut the dough into four 6 inch squares and set aside. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Divide the apple filling among the dough squares, leaving at least a ½ inch border around the edge. Brush the borders lightly with the beaten egg and fold each square in half to make a triangle. Use a fork to crimp the edges and ensure a good seal.

Transfer the 2 baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart. Brush the tops of the turnovers with egg and sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar. Cut 3 small slits into the top of each turnover.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue to bake until golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling through the sits, about 15 minutes longer.

Let cool slightly on the baking sheets. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: these turnovers can easily be assembled and then frozen. Freeze them on the lined baking sheet; when solid, transfer to a zip-top bag and seal. They’ll keep for up to 2 months this way. When ready to bake, arrange on a baking sheet and bake as directed- they’ll just take an extra 10 minutes or so in the oven.

Honey Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal_honeycookie

Makes 24 cookies

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup white or whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins, chocolate chips or butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl, beat margarine with sugar until thoroughly blended. Blend in honey. Blend in egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth. In separate bowl, mix together oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda; blend into honey mixture. Stir in raisins or chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool 2 to 3 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Cool completely then store in an airtight container.

Pear Skillet Cake

pear-skillet-cake

Serves 8

6 medium Bosc pears (about 3 1/3 pounds)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted margarine
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1-1/3 cups (6 ounces) flour
2/3 granulated sugar
3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.

Peel, quarter, and core 4 of the pears and set aside. Peel and grate the other 2 and set them aside separately.

In a 10 inch cast iron skillet, melt the margarine over low heat. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the brown sugar over the margarine. Arrange the quartered pears on the sugar; if necessary, trim a few pieces to fit and fill center.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, crystallized ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange zest until blended. Stir in the grated pears. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.

Pour the batter over the pears and smooth to the top. Bake until the cake is deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Pie Bars

apple-bar

Makes 4 dozen bars

Omit the nuts if you do not eat nuts on Rosh Hashannah. Otherwise, save this for Succot. These are delicious. You can also make them with pears and cranberries, just omit the apples and add pears and cranberries.

CRUST
3 sticks unsalted margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

FILLING
6 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds)—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup water, as necessary

TOPPING
3/4 cup pecans, almonds, walnuts or other chopped nut, optional
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks unsalted margarine, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

MAKE THE CRUST Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a 15-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the margarine with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the sheet and 1/2 inch up the side. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let cool on a rack.

MAKE THE FILLING In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the margarine with 1/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.

MAKE THE TOPPING
Spread the nuts, if using, in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the nuts and press the mixture into clumps.

Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.

Asian Spiced and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

spiced-butternutsquash-soup

Serves 6

1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
½ cup mirin
½ cup sherry or red wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons chile sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder, toasted
½ teaspoon ground toasted cumin
Soy sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash and garlic in a roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the pan in the oven and roast until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a stockpot over high heat until hot. Add the onion and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add the mirin and either sherry or white wine and reduce to about ½ cup, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the stock, cooked squash, and gsrlic and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the chile, curry, and cumin and puree with a handheld blender or in batches in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Season to taste with soy sauce. Taste for spiciness and adjust, adding more chile sauce if you like it hotter. Or use Tofutti sour cream to mellow it out.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with a dallop of tofutti sour cream and serve hot.

Date Cake with Caramel Sauce

datecake
Serves 8-10

CAKE
12 ounces pitted plump dates
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons brewed espresso
3/4 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted margarine, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs

CARAMEL
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pareve whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, cover the dates with the rum, espresso and water and heat at high power for 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let stand until the dates are softened. Puree until smooth.

In a bowl, whisk both flours with the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs until incorporated, then beat in the date puree. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at low speed until incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

In a medium saucepan, simmer the sugar and water over moderate heat until a deep-amber caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the pareve cream. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the hardened caramel is dissolved. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the caramel sauce.

Tomato Chili Brisket

tomato-brisket

Serves 8 – 10

One 5- to 7 pound beef brisket
One 24-ounce bottle ketchup or chilli sauce
1 package dry onion soup mix
Several dashes hot sauce
1 cup water
½ cup beer

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Place the brisket in an oven-safe pan. Combine the ketchup (I use ½ ketchup and ½ chili sauce) and soup mix in a bowl, and stir to mix. Pour in 1 cup water and the beer and stir to combine. (You can add more water if needed!)

Pour the sauce all over the brisket. Make sure the brisket is coated on both sides. Cover the pan with foil and roast in the oven for 6 to 7 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and test the brisket to make sure it’s fork-tender. The brisket should fall apart if you look at it! Slice the brisket into thin strips, then return the beef to the sauce and keep it warm until you’re ready to serve.

Frozen Caramelized Pear Torte

Serves 12

Almond Meringue
6 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
½ cup ground toasted almonds, optional
½ cup flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

White Chocolate – Pear Mousse
5 ounce pareve white melting chocolate (or semi-sweet chocolate)
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¼ cup dark rum
2 cups pareve whipping cream
2 pears, peeled and diced

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces chocolate
1 cup pareve whip cream

To prepare the meringue, draw two 10-inch circles on two parchment paper-lined baking sheets, then flip over the parchment so the ink is on the other side. Place the egg whites in a bowl of a mixer and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time, along with the almond extract, and whip until still peaks form and the whites are shiny. Place the ground almonds, flour, and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and mix together. Gently fold the mixture into the egg whites. Divide the batter between the two circles and spread evenly to fill the circles. Place in a 300 degree oven and bake for about 2 hours, or until firm.

To prepare the mousse, melt the white chocolate (or chocolate) in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering heat. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Place the egg yolks, ¾ cup of the sugar, and the rum in a metal bowl and whisk together. Place over gently simmering water, and whop the egg mixture until it is thick and resembles softly whipped cream. Remove from the heat and set aside. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture, then fold in the melted white chocolate. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Place the remaining ¼ cup of sugar in a sauté pan and cook, without stirring, until the sugar turns golden brown. Add the pears and sauté until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble the torte, place one of the cooled meringues in a 10-inch spring form pan. (You may have to trim the meringue fit it in the pan.) Place the pears on top of the first meringue layer, then cover with the mousse. Place the second layer of meringue on top of the mousse and place in the freezer.

To prepare the ganache, place the chocolate pieces in the food processor and process until finely ground. Heat the cream until boiling and pour over the chocolate through the feed tube while the processor is running. Continue to process until the mixture is smooth. Remove the torte from the freezer and pour the ganache over the torte. Return the torte to the freezer and freeze for about 2 hours. (If frozen overnight, let the torte come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.) To serve, release the sides of the pan and slide the torte off the bottom of the pan onto a serving platter. Slice into wedges and serve.

Glazed Beets with Chives

glazed-bits

Serves 4

1 pounds trimmed and peeled beets, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, halved or quartered if large
1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted margarine
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons walnut pieces or coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the beets in an 8-inch-wide, 3- to 4-quart saucepan and arrange snugly. Add the margarine, sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and enough water to just cover the beets (about 2 cups). Bring to a boil over high heat.

Cook over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze and the beets are tender, about 10 minutes. (If the glaze is done before the beets, add about 1/2 cup water and continue to cook. If the beets are done first, remove them and continue to boil the liquid until syrupy.)

(Meanwhile, spread the walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and a few shades darker, about 8 minutes.)

Lower the heat under the beets to medium low, add the warm walnuts, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and serve sprinkled with the chives. (The glazed beets and walnuts, without the chives, can be kept warm, covered, for about 20 minutes.)

Open Faced Plum Tart

open-faced-plumtart

Serves 8

1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold margarine, cut into 1-tbsp. chunks
About 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1-1/2 pounds firm-ripe plums or apricots, pitted and sliced 1/2-inch wide pieces
2 teaspoons coarse sugar to sprinkle

Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut margarine with a pastry blender until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice water over mixture; gently stir and toss with a fork. Repeat to add 4 to 6 more tablespoon ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is evenly moistened and a pinch of it holds together. Gather into a disk, wrap airtight, and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 13-in. circle, Cut around edge of dough with a pastry wheel or knife to neaten. Lift dough to a baking sheet and chill about 15 minutes.

Combine 2/3 cup granulated sugar, the cornstarch, and spices in a medium bowl. If plums are quite tart, add a few more tablespoons sugar to spice mixture. Stir in fruit until cornstarch is moistened, then spoon fruit onto pastry right away, leaving a 1 1/2 in. rim uncovered. Fold and pleat rim over fruit. Brush rim with water and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake until filling bubbles and crust is browned, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on pan on a rack at least 1 hour.

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies

peanutbutter-honeycookies

Makes 18 big cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted margarine, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (mine was slightly chilled)
1 tablespoon honey

Coating
2/3 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts or roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or coarse sugar or regular sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together peanut butter, margarine, brown sugar, granulated sugar and honey, until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour until well combined. Place dough in freezer for 15 minutes, stir, and freeze for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Sift confectioners’ sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and honey until well combined. Shape mixture into 18 small balls, and place on a plate. Place plate in refrigerator until ready for use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large sheet pan with cooking spray.

Make the coating by stirring together peanuts, turbinado sugar and cinnamon, in a small bowl, until well combined.

Remove bowl from freezer; shape dough into an 11 inch x 2 1/2 inch log. Wrap dough in plastic wrap to shape better. Slice dough into 18 equal pieces. Take each piece of dough, flatten with your hand, place a peanut butter ball in the center, and wrap dough around ball. Roll ball in your hands to shape better. Roll balls in peanut mixture, to coat completely; place on prepared sheet pan. Flatten cookies. Don’t flatten too much.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-15 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Cool 4 minutes on sheet pan, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Apple Custard Tart

Delicious and perfect for the holidays. I love the apple and pareve cream cheese filling. The dough is flaky and tasty because of the shortening. I use the earthbalance sticks which are pressed canola oil but feel free to substitute the shortening with margarine. Mine will just taste better.

Serves 12

Tart Dough:
2-1/3 cups flour
¼ cup shortening (it’s Yom Tov, go ahead and use it just this time)
¼ cup unsalted margarine
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold water

Filling:
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups pareve whipping cream
4 ounces pareve cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To prepare the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use margarine to grease the 10-inch flan or tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside. Put the flour, shortening, margarine, and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, mix the shortening and margarine with the flour to form coarse meal. Add the cold water and mix the dough with a large fork just until it holds together. You may need to add more water if the dough is dry and crumbly. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes.

Put the dough on a well-floured work surface and roll out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To prepare the filling, put the sliced apples in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and toss well. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the apples in the pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.

Place the spiced apples in the crust in concentric circles, covering the bottom of the crust completely. Put 1 cup of the pareve cream, the pareve cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a mixer or food processor and blend or pulse until smooth. Add the eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla, mix well, and pour over the apples. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the apples are just tender and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Whip the remaining cup of cream to soft peaks. Cut the tart into slices, top with a dallop of pareve whipped cream, and serve.

Easy Apple Spice Cake

apple-spice-cake

Serves 10- 12
1-2/3 cups crushed cinnamon graham crackers (about 9 whole crackers)
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted margarine, melted and divided
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 6-ounce Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3 inch cubes
1-1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, or other nut,( nuts are optional)
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Mix graham crackers, 6 tablespoons margarine, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in medium bowl. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared dish. Bake crust until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and allspice in medium bowl; blend well. Using electric mixer, beat 4 tablespoons melted margarine, 1 cup brown sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla in large bowl until mixture is blended and thick, about 4 minutes. Beat in flour mixture. Fold in apples and walnuts. Spoon batter over crust. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Bake cake until golden brown and firm to touch in center, about 38 minutes. Cool cake completely in dish. Cut into squares and serve.

Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

apricot-oatmeal-cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped dried apricots
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut
¾ cup toasted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixer bowl, cream margarine and sugars until fluffy. On low speed, beat in eggs, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and almond extract. Stir in oats, apricots, cranberries, coconut and almonds.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased silpat-lined cookie sheets. Bake until golden – 14 to 15 minutes. Let rest for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

SONY DSC

I’ve been to a lot of salad bars in my time and am always watching what people are choosing in their salads. And not surprising, everyone is different when it comes to salad ingredients. We all have different tastes and it is very clear when it comes to salad. But interestingly, most people order the same dressing. I’ve noticed this but I also asked at many salad bars and my suspicion was confirmed. Creamy balsamic vinegar dressing is the most popular choice. It’s also bottled and sold by a lot of places, for a lot of money by the way. So I can’t believe it’s taken me this many years to post, but here it is, a great (really great), homemade version of what you get at the salad bar. I think it’s a dressing that you should keep on hand all the time. It’s a great dip, chicken marinade, or baked potato topper. I like to serve it on a good vegetable chopped salad, a nicoise salad with tuna and hard-boiled eggs, or even a Jewish Cobb Salad, with smoked turkey, eggs, and Fake Bacon. I know you will be grateful to have this one in your repertoire.


(Makes 1 2/3 cups of dressing)


4 cloves garlic, grated

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Creamy Balsamic Dressing:
Whisk together garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper until well combined. Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk well. Slowly add in the olive oil (while whisking) to emulsify. Store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This works best if you mix with an immersion blender.

Drunken Grilled Flank Steak

drunken-steak

Serves 4

Here is a great and easy steak recipe (you can really use the marinade on any cut). Use the grilling guide to help with cooking time and temperature. The vodka is the secret ingredient that tenderizes the meat.

1 cup vegetable juice
1/2 cup vodka
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (non-fish type)
3 coves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-pound flank steak or other thin cut steak

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except for the flank steak in a 1-gallon zip lock bag. Add the flank steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the grill to high or heat a skillet over high heat. Remove the flank steak from the marinade and wipe the excess liquid off with paper towels. Grill or pan sear both sides, then lower heat to medium and cook to medium rare, about 5 minutes each side, check the grilling guide.

Let the steak rest, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Almond Pound cake

almond-pound-cake

Last week I went crazy testing pound cake recipes. I think great pound cake is a wonderful recipe to have in your collection because its a perfect snack when guests arrive, lovely to serve in the morning with coffee, great to grill this time of year, and is amazing with sweetened berries, mangos or peaches. And since these fruits are at their peak right now and a dessert laden with sweetened berries and topped with whipped cream is screaming to be served, I had to find the perfect recipe. I tried five recipes, each with a unique spin, one with almond paste, one with lots of swirls of jelly, one with blueberries, one classic and I can’t remember the other one… and after all the testing, I am sharing my new favorite, super moist and crazy delicious Almond Pound Cake (if you don’t like almond, leave out the extract and make a Classic Pound Cake with the same recipe).

Makes 3 loaf cakes, Serves 30

I tested 5 different pound cake recipes to come up with this version that is so moist and flavorful. I’ll keep one in my freezer all the time now. If you do not like almond flavoring, just add another ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and omit the almond extract.

4 cups cake flour
1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon regular salt
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
3 cups superfine sugar
8 eggs
¾ cup whole milk or non-dairy creamer
2 teaspoons almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 loaf pans with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy and then add the sugar on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended and scraping the bowl throughout the process.

In a small bowl, mix the milk, almond extract, and vanilla together. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and alternately add the flour mixture wand the milk mixture to the creamed butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until blended; do not over mix.

Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans and bake until a tester is clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes. Take out of pans and cool completely.

Use this pound cake recipe plain, or serve it with lightly sweetened berries and whipped cream. Or use it in a trifle.

Great Grilling Marinade

steak

I am so glad to be back at the grill this week.  It’s easy, tasty, and for me, the smoky smell just makes me feel summertime happy.  My mom shared this recipe for a great grilling marinade.  She’s been making it for years and found the original on America’s Test Kitchen, which is amazing resource for recipes.  As their name states, they “test” and test recipes until they find the perfect combination of ingredients in whatever they are making.

I like to use it on tender, somewhat thin cuts of meat, like a Del Monico steak (this is what kosher butcher’s call sirloin), or a flank steak.  America’s Test Kitchen recommends tri-tip which is the triangle piece of the sirloin but you won’t find it in a kosher butcher because its very difficult to cut around the sciatic nerve to get to this tender cut of meat. Ask your butcher for a tender cut if you don’t see a Del Monico or flank steak and he can recommend something that works well on the grill. This marinade is terrific and comes together in minutes.  Thanks mom!

My Mom’s Steak Grilling Marinade

3 pounds Del Monico steak or flank steak
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 – 2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 – 2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Marinate for a minimum of 3 hours or up to overnight.

Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Let the grill reach an internal temperature of about 450 degrees (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature).  Turn down the burners to medium.  Place the steaks on the grill. Close the grill.  Do not disturb for 5 – 6 minutes.  Turn steaks over and grill until desired doneness, about 5 – 6 minutes more for rare (or 145 degrees internal temperature), 7 – 10 minutes for medium (150 to 155 degrees), and a few more for well-done meat but seriously, why bother spending money on steak for well-done meat, just make a burger. Just my two cents J

Serve with Southwestern coleslaw or Classic Coleslaw.