Sweet and Tangy – Not Your Everyday Caramel

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Caramels: Golden, soft, chewy concoction that believe it or not, leave me personally completely unmoved. Too sweet, too single dimensional for me. Now, if you introduce an additional flavor, say cayenne, bourbon or such – then my interest is piqued…

pcs

Two Red Bowls is a beautifully photographed blog that introduced me to Apple Cider- Crème Fraiche Caramels. (http://tworedbowls.com/2014/10/28/apple-cider-creme-fraiche-caramels/) Apple cider reduced down to syrup. Tangy crème fraiche and golden caramel – I had to try them!

The ingredients can mostly be found in your pantry and your local grocery store: brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, granulated sugar, butter, apple cider and crème fraiche (French style sour cream: thick and tangy).

Ingredients

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Light the Menorah – It’s Hanukkah!

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Israeli doughnutsweet_potato_parsnip_latke

 

Hanukah is right around the corner and the wheels are in motion in my home: my girls start arriving soon from the West Coast, invitations for our annual extended family party are out, Hanukiot and candles have been brought up from the basement and menus have been planned for an intimate family brunch and Shabbat dinner. I LOVE this time of year and can’t wait to have my kids all under our roof again!

And…what would Hanukah be without the aroma of fried food, right? So, this year I have already experimented with traditional and apple cider sufganiot, veggie latkes and even apple cider caramels.

Thinking ahead, I was hoping to offer latkes and sufganiot through my new venture ZeCooks LLC. So, the bad news first: the logistics do not work and at this point I will NOT be offering these items. The good news? I am offering you some links to great recipes and sites.

  1. Bon Appetit magazine sufganiot
  2. For Pareve sufganiot: Use margarine instead of butter in this recipe
  3. Rainbow latkes – What Jew want to eat blog
  4. Sweet potato latkes
  5. Classic latkes
  6. Parsnip latkes
  7. Pulled brisket latkes
  8. Food52 Sweet Potato Parsnip Latkes with Feta and Leeks

Enjoy exploring these recipes and let me know what you think!

Happy Holidays to all of you and your loved ones!

Flour Power

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Yes, Halloween is over, but some would say that there is still a scary villain in your pantry: Wheat flour! It has been blamed for our round bellies, our mushy brains, our indigestion and our obesity. (Check out The New Yorker comprehensive article “Against the Grain” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/03/grain)

So, guess what? I am a wheat eater. I know – how terrible. However, I did hear that one of my Favorite bakers, Alice Medrich (alicemedrich.blogspot.com) is coming to town, courtesy of Cooks of Crocus Hill, talking about her book Flavor Flours. In it she explores new ways to bake with non-wheat flours.

Book

Our local food celebrity, Sue Zelickson moderated the conversation with Medrich, with her familiar humor and deep knowledge. Sue asked how this book might differ from other non-wheat books. Medrich, who was funny, smiley and warm, explained that rather than seeking to mimic wheat flour’s behavior in baking, she explored the different flours inherent flavor and texture. She explained that the recipes were developed to utilize and highlight the specific characteristics of each of the flours.

Sue Z

In the gorgeous Roth Distribution teaching kitchen (http://www.rothliving.com/showrooms/minneapolis), Medrich proceeded to prepare a lemon cake made with corn flour. A couple of great tips she shared (which I use quite often) was how to use cream of tartar to stabilize whipped egg whites and how whipping sugar with the egg whites creates firm and glossy results.

Alice

We were then treated to 3 samples: Lemon cake made with corn flour, ginger cookies made with oat flour and a plain cake made with wild rice flour. The latter was a challenge presented to Alice Medrich by a local Mill City Farmers’ Market vendor of artisanal flours – That was my favorite! Nutty and light, the cake was delicious.

Baked Goods

So, What is my take away? Interesting flavors and textures – I will try some of these recipes since I have had quite a few requests for gluten free baked goods. However, bottom line is that these recipes still use good-old granulated sugar. Gluten free they might be, but those who are seeking a healthier version of sweets, might not be satisfied. My personal point of view is that I’d rather eat a tiny sinfully delicious, buttery and sugary treat than a whole pan of … you know what. But, I am moving with the times…

Your input is needed!!

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and the consistent message from all of you has been an interest in premade meals, specifically kosher-meat meals. Below is a list of possible Thanksgiving items. Please provide your input!!

Possible Thanksgiving items:

All items kosher

Turkey:

  1. Herb roasted turkey breast
  2. Braised honey garlic turkey breast w/ fennel
  3. Garlic, Silan (date syrup), paprika roasted turkey breast
  4. Rosemary & Dijon mustard roasted turkey breast

 

Starch Sides (all items Parve, except where noted)): 

  1. Honey rosemary mashed sweet potatoes
  2. Spice roasted sweet potatoes
  3. Dried fruit & fresh herbs quinoa pilaf
  4. Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
  5. Smashed onion and dill potatoes
  6. Meat stuffing: sage, dried apricots and Italian sausage

 

Vegetable Sides (all items Parve):

  1. Maple roasted Brussels sprouts
  2. Caramelized roasted carrots w/Italian parsley
  3. Sage roasted butternut squash
  4. Roasted dilled sugar snap peas
  5. Mixed greens w/grapefruit and dried cranberries (honey-Dijon vinaigrette)
  6. Mixed greens w/cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts (balsamic-basil vinaigrette)

 

Desserts (all items Parve):

  1. Spiced pumpkin pie
  2. Pecan pie
  3. Pecan choc. Chip pie
  4. Chocolate chip pie
  5. Pear cardamom tart
  6. Apple Cranberry Crisp
  7. Molasses cookies
  8. Frosted brownies

You Did What?!

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People have told me I am plain nuts and there are days I actually kind of agree with them! I just turned 50 this fall and did I go on some exotic trip? Did I buy some shiny sparkle? Or perhaps indulged in a weekend spa? Nope! The only trip I took was diving into my cookbook collection; I bought sparkling new cookie scoops and enjoyed the steam of the proofing oven… Yep, I went ahead and started a new culinary venture!

Yes, I am making Middle Eastern apps, baking Babka, challah and more, all the while “whistling while I work…” Who would have thought?? I did not know how much I would love everything about this process! To name a few: the quiet wee hours of the morning when the kitchen is quiet and the only sound is the hum of the oven, the frantic moments of loading my goodies and setting them up in our space, and finally – the laughter and community I experience when customers pick up their orders.

What’s next? Still figuring that out… Your feedback, requests and comments are welcomed and appreciated! In the meantime, excuse me while I put my feet up and enjoy a cup of tea (and a slice of babka, of course!)

 

Print Recipe

Herbal Infusion Tea

Makes 1 8oz mug

 

1 bag Decaf tea bag

2 medium Fresh mint sprigs

2 large leaves Fresh lemon verbena

2 stalks Fresh lemon grass, sliced into 1″ pieces

1-teaspoon sugar

8 ounces water

 

Directions:

Bring the 8oz water to a boil. While water is heating place the rest of the ingredients in a heatproof mug. Pour the hot water over the tea bag, sugar and herbs and stir to mix well. Let steep for 2-3 minutes and drink hot.

 

Obsession: Farmers’ Markets

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Okay, so I have a confession to make – I LOVE open air markets. They bring to mind childhood memories of holding on to my mother’s hand, my head the same height as the fruits and vegetables, my eyes roaming and my nose collecting aromas. Though Minnesota is a far cry from the Middle Eastern markets in my memory, autumn in Minnesota offers a rich abundance in the Farmers’ Markets. The short summer is fading quickly, but the baskets in the stalls are overflowing with purple, plump baby eggplants, yellow heirloom tomatoes and purple and white potatoes.

photo 1 new

I just can’t say no: no matter how crazy my week will be, how my fridge is groaning at the moment – I bring home loads of fresh vegetables.

photo 2

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Summer Addiction

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Heart soaring, eyes seeking, my summer addiction gets a hold of me. I inhale the fresh cilantro, bite into the crunchy radish I wiped on my sleeve and then leisurely munch on a fragrant mint leaf – filling my mouth with fresh summer flavor. Yes, I am addicted to Farmers’ Markets; their chaotic sounds and robust aromas, their farmers weathered faces, calloused hands and kind voices– I find the markets assault on my senses addicting! I just can’t stay away!

Of course I then end up with loads of produce at home. Feathery dill and crunchy cucumbers and carrots, fuzzy apricots, leafy beets, purple shallots and delicate cilantro all rest on a tray, washed and scrubbed – awaiting their fate…

Four industrious hours later, the production line in my kitchen comes to a halt and I behold my bounty: pickled roasted beets, refrigerator dill pickles, apricot-thyme jam, pickled roasted shallots, crunchy root vegetable salad are all laid out on my counter in their colorful glory. How about that?

Would you care to join my addiction and share the spoils?

Jam Jars2

Apricot -Thyme Jam

Beets jar2

Pickled Roasted beets and Pickled Thyme Roasted Shallots

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Jaffa Flea Market

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If you want to get a sense of Israel in one afternoon, stop at the Jaffa Flea Market: Shuk Ha’Pishpeshim. Jaffa throbs with the heart beat of Israel a mixture of old crumbling buildings and contemporary architecture, sharp, stylish boutiques along with crowded and dusty thrift stores, hoity galleries and schticky shops, fancy, white linen restaurants and falafel stands, synagogues and mosques – need I go on?? Just drive down the Tel Aviv beach promenade, heading south and follow the road to and around the clock tower (See above). Park (good luck!) and walk over to the east where the market awaits.

Clock tower

Jaffa Clock Tower

Side Street

Jaffa side street apartment building with blooming Bougainvillea

My friend Jodi and her Chicago friend Laura came to Israel to volunteer on an IDF base, doing grunt work that I didn’t want to do while I was in mandatory service… Needless to say, they were both looking forward to the weekend and we decided to meet at the Jaffa Flea Market. Despite the throngs of people who filled the streets on Friday morning and the faulty phone service, we managed to find each other and embarked on our adventure. The market offers everything from the antiquated to the modern: copper pots, tarnished silver platters, Rugs from around the world and even – shell casings vases…

Copper Pots

Copper Pots

Shell casing vase

Shell casing vase

 

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A Spicy Life

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No visit home is complete without a visit to my cousin’s Rami’s spice shop. Rami and I go a long way back – Though older than I; we grew up in the same small Yemenite community in Givat Olga. As a teenager I dated one of his closest friends and we spent some memorable time double dating. He went on to marry his girlfriend, Yehudit and I moved on to other boyfriends… Since I moved to Minnesota I look forward to stopping at his store to catch up and stock up on his goodies. This last visit I stopped by with my Mom and found Rami’s son, Hod, manning the store.

P1010198Orah

My Mom with Rami

My mother, Orah and Hod: Partners in flavor. Colors and aromas overload my system as I walk in. Everywhere I turn my eyes encounter temptation: crates of plump and juicy dried fruit await tasting, sacks of grains, beans and rice line the wall, their mouths open for touching hands.

P1010186Dried fruit

Plump Golden Raisins

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