Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Note To Self: Don't Bet On Bowling

These past few weeks, I have learned not to bet on bowling.  Coming from the Midwest, I should have an innate ability to bowl.  I think that gene was left out.  I am not only a terrible bowler, but I foolishly bet people that I can beat them.  My dear friends, let's just say I need to control my Midwest ego and focus on reality.  I owed not 1, not 2, but 6 people a home cooked meal for losing!  Since the meal was scheduled for the middle of my busy work week, I decided to make something tasty yet super simple!  After brainstorming for a bit, I conjured up the idea to make french onion soup!  Buttery, savory, sweet and just gosh darn tasty...french onion soup was perfect! I served fun and classic pizzas as well: fig, goat cheese and arugula pizza, basil, tomato and mozzarella pizza, blanca pizza, and mushroom pizza.   All were delicious!  French onion soup usually uses red wine, but I like to use white wine because I actually prefer the white and clear color of the soup.

French Onion Soup
Makes 8 Servings

4-6 TBS. Oil or Butter
4-5 Large Onions, sliced
1 1/2 C. White Wine (not sweet)
5 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar
4 C. Vegetable Stock
4 C. Water
1 TBS. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 TBS. Miso Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 Sprig of Thyme
4 Sprigs Parsley
1 Loaf of French Bread, sliced and toasted
4-5 Slices Gruyere, Swiss or Mozarella Cheese

In a large pot, heat up oil or butter on low heat and add onions.  Saute until onions reduce in size and become carmelized and soft, about a half hour. Add the wine and apple cider vinegar.  Cook and reduce, about 10 minutes  (boil out the acid smell).   Add the rest of the ingredients up till parsley.  Simmer for 2 hours.  Taste and adjust Seasonings. (If too sweet add more miso and pepper).  Ladle onion soup into bowls, place a piece of toasted french bread on top and add cheese.  Place the bowl in a broiler for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese bubbles and browns.  Enjoy hot!







Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Things I learned From Culinary School

I was a recently asked to be a guest blogger on CookKosher.com.  I wrote an article called "10 Things I learned From Culinary School" and I wanted to share it with all of you!  Please enjoy and feel free to pass it around!  I look forward to more guest blogging on CookKosher in the future.

Link to the website - CookKosher

 

My goal is to use what I learn to make kosher food as expansive as possible, in appearance and taste. So here are the top ten things I’ve learned, as they relate to the kosher homemaker:
Click Here for the Top 10 List

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dinner For Two

Mazal Tov! Yael and Josh got engaged last night and I made my first engagement dinner! I had the honor of catering their first meal as an engaged couple.  After Josh proposed, I came out with 4 delectable dishes focusing on some of Yael and Josh's favorite foods.  I even included the recipe for my pomegranate and citrus glazed salmon at the end of the page!

Appetizer 
Beet, Goat Cheese and Mixed Green Salad with a Balsamic Reduction
 Main Course
Pomegranate-Citrus Glazed Salmon, Roasted Vegetables (Fennel, Orange Pepper and Zucchini), and Creamy Brown Rice with Cherries
 Dessert
Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with Whipped Cream and Strawberries 
 Homemade Chocolate Hearts served with Fresh Mint Tea
 The newly engaged, very full and happy couple

Pomegranate-Citrus Glazed Salmon
Makes 2 Servings

2 Fillets of Salmon
1 Cup Pomegranate Juice
1 Orange, squeezed
1 tsp. Thyme, fresh
1 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Pomegranate Seeds

Heat a saute pan with about 2 Tbs. of oil to cover the bottom. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon fillets and lay in hot pan skin side down.  Sear for about 3 minutes and flip on the other side.  Sear the fish till it becomes flaky and has caramelized in color, about 5 minutes.  Remove the fish and reserve.  In the same pan, add the pomegranate and orange juice, thyme, and apple cider.  Reduce the liquid until it coats the bottom of a spoon and looks thick.  Keep a good eye on it so it doesn't burn. Drizzle the glaze over the salmon and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Helpful Hint:  When removing pomegranate seeds, cut into quarters and remove with hands in a bowl of cold water.   When all the seeds have been removed, strain out the water.  This is a no mess and no stain!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Let Me Take Yo' Picture

A lot of good things have happened this week in the world of Ali-Babka.  Besides being featured on 2 different websites ( OU and Gothamist) and through the roof orders of my Cocktail Hamantashens, I have also purchased a camera! It took a lot of research to figure out the perfect match, and EUREKA I have found the one!


My Nikon D3100 will now be joining me in life and in this blog.  I have to learn how to use it, but am very excited for the opportunity!  I hope to impress you (and myself) with my new photography skillzzzzz! 

Camera credits go to my droid camera phone. Droid, it's been a good journey, but you have been replaced!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Win A Box Of MOJITO Hamantashen!

Win a Box of AliBabka Specialty Mojito Hamantashen!


THE WINNER IS: REBECCA GOTLIB!
What was your favorite Purim costume?
The comment with the most "likes" on the alibabka facebook page will win a box of mojito hamantashen!
Contest ends Tuesday, March 6th at midnight!

Good luck and start posting...contest starts NOW!
*contestants can only live in the tri-state area

Friday, March 2, 2012

Specialty Hamantashen NOW FOR SALE!

Gourmet Specialty Hamantashen on sale NOW, for a limited time only!  ONLY $10.00 a dozen till Wednesday!  Mojito and Tequila Sunrise for sale! Send orders to alibabka@alibabka.com with your name, amount and address.  Selling in the NY/NJ area.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can I Buy You A Hamantashen?

I'm currently in the baking module of my culinary program and have definitely been inspired to get more experimental with my Kitchen Aid!  I am always adventurous with my recipes, but this one was an overhaul of a real classic.

As far back as I can remember I have been making hamantashen for Purim.  When I was a child, my mother would make the dough and roll it out, and let me and my sisters cut out the circles and fold them into delectable triangles. Waiting until our three cornered delights were ready to eat was one of the hardest things we did all year.  We would smell the cinnamon and sugar topping (the secret ingredient that makes them smell almost as good as they taste) and our impatience would get the best of us.  We would bite into the cookies before they were cool, and burn our tongues on the hot sugary jelly inside.    

One of the focuses on Purim is drinking (responsibly), so I decided to create an “adult” hamantashen for the kid inside us all.  I brainstormed some fun cocktails that I dreamed I could roll into hamantashen.  I hope you enjoy my take on the classic hamantashen and enjoy these as much as my band of taste testers and I did!
Note:   These are kid friendly since all the alcohol is cooked or boiled out. If you want no alcohol in your hamantashen, each recipe is great with the liquor left out.  What you do with the extra liquor is up to you :)
Happy Purim!


Mojito Hamantashen
Make a 2 ½ Dozen

Dough
2 Cups Flour
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
½ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white for assembling the cookie)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1 1/2 tsp. Peppermint Oil
1 TBS. Fresh Mint Leaves, minced
Raw Sugar (optional)

Lime-Rum Curd Filling
1 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Earth Balance or Butter
1/8 Cup Corn Starch
¾ Cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 TBS. Lime Zest
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 TBS. Rum

Dough: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, peppermint oil and mint leaves.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the lime-rum curd filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen. Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Brush the outer part of the hamantashen with egg white and sprinkle on the raw sugar. Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 

Filling:  Place the sugar, earth balance, corn starch, lime juice, lime zest and rum in a sauce pan.  Heat the mixture till the butter melts.  Pour some of the lime mixture into the eggs and stir together to temper the eggs.  Pour the egg mixture into the pan and whisk constantly till mixture starts to boil and thicken.  Whisk for about a minute, take off heat and strain into a bowl (this will separate any egg that may have curdled from the curd itself). Refrigerate the curd till ready to use.
*When baked, the filling soaks into the cookie and the curd deflates.  They look beautiful and you still get that flavor, but if you wish to fill the cookie all the way up with curd after baking, make a double batch of the filling and fill in all the spots after the cookies are baked and cool.
 
 














Tequila Sunrise Hamantashen
Makes 2 ½ Dozen

Dough
2 Cups Flour
¾ tsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Salt
½ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white for assembling the cookie)
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Orange Zest

Cherry-Tequila Jam Filling
1 17.5 oz. Jar of Cherry Preserves (I love Trader Joes brand because whole cherries make up most of the jelly)
2 TBS. Tequila

Dough: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and orange zest.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the cherry-tequila jam filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen.  Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 

Filling:  Mix the cherry preserves with the Tequila. Add 1 more tbs. of tequila if you want the filling to be stronger.
























Frangelico (Hazelnut Liquor) Hamantashen
Makes 2 1/2 Dozen

Dough
1 1/3 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Cocoa
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened
¾ Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Egg
3 TBS. Coconut Cream (the cream on top separates from the water on the bottom)

Chocolate-Frangelico Ganache Filling
8 Oz. Dark Chocolate, chopped ( I like Trader Joes brand)
8 Oz. Coconut Cream
Dash of Salt
3 TBS. Frangelico Liquor
½ Cup Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
½ Cup Whole Hazelnuts


Dough: Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg and almond extract.  Beat in flour mixture until combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 375 and line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut rounds, until dough is finished.  Fill the rounds with the chocolate-frangelico ganache filling and with your pinky, dip in egg white and lightly wet the edges around the hamantashen.  Make the hamantashen triangle shape by folding the bottom to make two corners and folding the top to make the 3rd (requires both hands).  Put a hazelnut on top of each hamantashen and bake for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. 

Filling:  Heat all of the ingredients together (except the hazelnuts) in a small saucepan till melted.  Take off stove and add the chopped hazelnuts. 





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