Monday, December 26, 2011

One Night Left....Make These!

I have never made sufganiyot (jelly donuts), well, until yesterday.  They were, by far, one of the best donuts I have ever tasted.  They brought me and many others who had the pleasure of tasting them, back to Israel.  This time of year, I crave fresh donuts from certain hole in the wall bakeries in Israel .  I'm sure anyone who has visited or lived in Israel during Hanukkah knows what a treat this fried dough confection can be.
I am sharing this recipe so you all can taste what fried heaven tastes like!

Scrumptious Sufganiyot
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water
2 packages Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp = 1 package)
2 TBS. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Shortening
1 Egg
4 1/2 Cups Flour
Oil for frying

Combine water, yeast and sugar in mixing bowl till yeast is dissolved and starts to foam.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until the dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Rise for 45 minutes until the dough doubles in size.  Punch down, roll out, and shape with a round cookie cutter.  Rise for another half hour.  Bring 2 inches of oil up to 350- 375 degrees.  fry on one side, then flip over to the other side (about 1 minutes in total).  Drain on paper towel, squeeze in your favorite jelly or filling and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  You can also add melted chocolate on top.  Pick your favorite donuts and create them!


On top of these fabulous donuts, we served three types of latkes (potato pancakes).
- White Potato Pepper
- Curry, Sweet Potato, Black Bean
- Beet and Fennel
(These were accompanied by roasted lamb)

* I also tried to accommodate my gluten free, sugar free sister with gluten free and sugar free donuts.  They turned out more like cinnamon flavored falafal ball.  They weren't bad, but I will try rice flour next time.  Note to self:  never make donuts with garbanzo bean flour.  Lesson learned!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mama Mia!

The thought of ordering a bowl of noodles for a seriously elevated price is not something I can see myself doing.  If I can make it at home for pennies, I usually don't order it.  Open a box, throw a few noodles in the boiling water, wait 10 minutes and bam! Nothing special.  

My world flipped when I tasted homemade noodles for the first time!  Granted, I have probably been at a restaurant that served homemade pasta, but never got up the gusto to order them.  We are up to the Italy section in class.  We have been making pasta for the past 2 weeks and I must say, homemade pasta is the bomdiggity!  You have to try it to understand the difference.  There’s a freshness and taste that can’t be described.  There are many types of pastas one can create with the correct tools.  I do not own them at the moment, but they are definitely on my list! (wink wink ;) )   To make pasta, it must be rolled out very, and I mean VERY thin.  It can be done by hand, cranked through a machine, or put through a machine that does it for you.  I like the latter for the simple reason that it is the easiest. 

One must be coordinated and have balance.  Trying not to let the long sheets of pasta hit the floor while wrapping it around every limb is a challenge and a talent that amounts to a lot of fun.  I HIGHLY recommend making pasta or watching someone make pasta,  It’s like watching someone juggle, while holding your breath and praying they don't let them drop!     

Pasta Dough
3 Cup Flour
3 Eggs
1-2 TBS. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 TBS. Water
1 tsp. Salt
Mix/knead all ingredients in a kitchen aid or by hand for about 10 min till it forms a ball and becomes elastic.  Allow to rest for a half hour.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces and put through the pasta roller three times, each time reducing the thickness.  Form the pasta into ravioli or shapes using the correct tools.  If you want colored pasta, add turmeric, spinach, curry or whatever color your heart desires.  I like this website for a few ideas.
*The addition of color doesn’t add much flavor.  It is more for appearance than for taste.

Ravioli Dough
6 oz. Italian 00 Flour
6.5 oz. Fine Semolina Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 oz. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Eggs
1 oz. Water
 Instruction above.

Gnocchi
1 lb Cold Potatoes, baked, peeled and riced
1 C. Flour
1 Egg
1 tsp Salt
Opt: 1 pinch Nutmeg
Instruction above.

My new year’s resolution is to now give pasta a second chance.  If it is fresh and from scratch, I will now consider ordering the bowl of soft, al dante’ and savory deliciousness; The kind of pasta that makes you want to say "OH, Mama Mia!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Date A Girl Who Cooks

My long time childhood friend Hannah Wenger, wrote me a beautiful excerpt today.  It was in response to a letter I sent her from another blog.  The post was titled Date A Girl Who Reads.  Hannah was always an avid reader and she is currently in Bergen, Norway, as a Fulbright ETA.  Basically, she's awesome!

Hannah's rendition, in her own words, to me:
Date a girl who cooks. Date a girl who spends her money on blenders instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many cookbooks. Date a girl who has a list of recipes she wants to make, who has had a Bon Appetit membership since she was twelve.

Find a girl who cooks. You’ll know that she does because she’ll always smell like baking bread. She’s the one lovingly looking over the spice rack in the grocery store, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the seasoning she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the fruit in a farmers market? That’s the cook. They can never resist smelling the produce, especially when it is ripe.

She’s the girl in the coffee shop that asks the cashier if she can taste test everything. If you take a peek at her cake, it’s been disemboweled, each element separated from the other as she tried to figure out what each ingredient is. She’s engrossed in the savory experience. Lost in her taste buds. Sit down. She might give you a smile, as most girls who cook like to cook for people. Ask her if she likes the cake.

Buy her another mug of Adagio Thai Chai tea.
Let her know what you really think of dark chocolate. See if she’s ever made turducken. Understand that if she says she likes foie gras she’s just saying that to sound sophisticated. Ask her if she loves Julia or would like to be Julia.

It’s easy to date a girl who cooks. Give her rolling pins for her birthday, basting brushes for Christmas and bread pans for anniversaries. Give her the gift of tastes in baskets, in bottles. Give her Bordeaux, Turkish Delight, Anjou pears. Let her know that you understand that food is love.

If you find a girl who cooks, keep her close. When you find her in the kitchen at 2 AM, everyone around her stupefied into food comas and the counters littered with vegetable peel and mounds of sugar, help her clean it. Then lick the bowl together.

You will propose in a winery in France. Or while frosting on a cake. Or very casually in a pizzeria when she needs some comfort food.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will taste the lusciousness of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to peppermint hot cocoa and alcoholic apple-pear cider, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will drizzle maple syrup on the snow while you shake the ice off your boots.

Date a girl who cooks because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most delicious life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who cooks.
















We actually started brainstorming, trying to come up with other ideas of who to date.
Here is what we have come up with so far:
date a girl who acts
date a girl who dances
date a girl who is an OT
date a girl who has a twitch
date a girl who plays football
date a girl who picks her nose


Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Said You Can't Have It All?

Anyone who has had a conversation with me about my future knows that I love working with people who have food restrictions.  Whether it's allergic, intolerant, or they just don't like the taste, I grab the opportunity to create something incredible that will be enjoyed to the fullest.  Living without gluten, nuts, etc, doesn't mean that the person cannot have satisfying and flavorful foods.
Examples:
Taste – A friend of mine had a complete aversion to beets.   I made her roasted beets and she loved them!  I found out she had been eating canned beets.  Of course she found that not appealing!  She liked beets, she just never had them the right way. (Doesn’t always work, but I’ll take on the challenge!)
Allergic – Oh nuts!  For those unfortunate ones who are allergic to nuts, I’m so sorry.  The flavors or textures, you just can’t replicate.  If a protein or snack is what you are looking for, try munching on having a yogurt with fruit and oat granola, or carrots with chummus.
      Intolerant – Gluten free, Lactose intolerant…they are annoying, I’m not going to belittle that.  It’s on that conflicting tightrope that it won’t kill ya, but it will put you through a lot of pain.    My sister is gluten and sugar intolerant, and at one point, eggs, corn and milk too!  I have tried to adapt many recipes to make things tasty for her.  I have had a lot of successes and A LOT of flops.   Baked goods usually turn out gummy or dry, depending on what was added (or not) to them.   A few successful recipes included: cupcakes, carrot muffins, cinnamon buns, and my most recent…Birthday Cake!!    Her birthday was last week and I really wanted to make her something special.   No one should be without a birthday cake on their birthday!  It turned out successful and she was more than pleased.



Becca and Shimra cheer to a great meal!
Shimra Enjoying Her Frozen Lemon Nana Drink with Coconut Sugar Rim. Health benefits and other sugar substitutions visit glutenfreegoddess. Note: Coconut sugar digests differently than beet sugar and cane sugar.
Course 1: Mesclun Salad with Yellow Tomatoes, Blackberries, Onions, Cucumbers and  Radishes.  Dressed with a Lime Red Wine Vinaigrette










Corn and Egg Drop Soup with BBQ Sauce
Rib Eye Steak with Red Wine Mushroom Pan Sauce Reduction, Caramelized Onions, Avocado Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Green Beans with Shallots.


The Ultimate Sugar Free and Gluten Free Birthday Cake

1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Coconut Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tbs. Grated Lemon Peel
1 Cup Rice Flour
6 Tbs. Potato Starch
2 Tbs. Tapioca Flour
1 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 tsp. Sea Salt
3/4 Cup Almond Milk + 2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 2 round cake pans (cake rises better in small pans). Using an electric mixer and a large bowl, cream together the oil, sugar, and eggs until blended.  Add the lemon peel.  Ina medium bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.  On low speed, add the dry ingredients in the egg mixture , alternating with milk and ending with the dry mixture.  Mix till combines.  Spoon batter into pans.  Bake for 30 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting
1 Cup Earth Balance
1 Cup Cocoa
1/2 Cup Agave
1/4 Cup Corn Starch dissolved in water

Melt and mix over stove till it comes to a boil.  Cool in Fridge.  Spread when set and cool.




The infamous, gluten free, egg free, sugar free, dairy free cinnamon bun!Gluten Free Goddess

Monday, December 5, 2011

Comfort In A Cup

The winter to me is all about the hot drinks.  Hot cocoa, warm apple cider, chai tea lattes, tea, coffee; you name it, I love it!  It's unanimous,  we all love that amazing feeling of snuggling into a cozy blanket and sipping on a warm cup of  your favorite beverage, while outside, there is complete snow turmoil and below freezing temperatures.  With no place to go, the best option is to grab a good book, watch some TV, and turn on the stove!

My favorites
1) Coffee - Pumpkin Spice K-Kup
The pumpkin pie smell gives off a very homey and sweet aroma, while the coffee awakens your senses and gets you ready to start the day!  I usually put this in a to-go mug when I know I have to get out of the house that day.  It brings the warmth of home on the go.

2) Chai Tea Latte 
If anyone asks, this is my ultimate go-to feel good drink.  Winter or summer, iced or warm...chai tea lattes are always welcome.  The blend of spices in chai is just incomparable.  It's winter (warm) or summer (cold) in a cup!  By far, Green Cafe (in Israel) makes THE BEST I have ever tasted (and I've tasted a lot)!  I make a wonderful one at home with a bag of Tazo Chai Tea, 1 TBS. Agave and about 1/4 Cup of Almond Milk. 
3) Mint (Nana) Tea
I could say that any mint tea will do, but NOTHING is comparable to fresh mint leaves!  Whenever I have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of fresh mint tea, I'm on it!  Go out and buy yourself a mint plant or fresh mint from the supermarket and experience pure enjoyment from this wonderful herb!  Also try lemon-nana.  I will probably post the recipe in the summertime.  Too good...I'm tellin ya.
4) Hot Apple Cider
Paired with a cinnamon stick, oh wow, match made in heaven!  Best when served after a brisk cool walk in the winter air, this drink is seriously incredible.  The cinnamon stick adds that extra twang and spiciness to an already decadent and tangy apple cider.  Warm this up on the stove and this will become part of your fall/winter must haves.


5) Hot Coca
The infamous chocolaty drink no one can resist. Done the right way, I'm talking homemade... delicious!  The recipe I use on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box.  Add some marshmallows or a cinnamon stick and make this extra wonderful.  If you want deep rich chocolate, find a recipe using real bittersweet melted chocolate.  If you want, add a little bit of rum, whiskey or your favorite liquor to each cup.  It will give that cocoa an extra surprise!
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