Tuesday, November 30, 2010

E-mail Subscription

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Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has been a fail-proof winner with picky eaters and gourmets alike.  You will need black olives, fresh, clean basil and sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomato spread.  If you are starting from dry tomatoes, not packed in oil, you will want to soak them in warm water (or use some pasta water.)  Choose a pasta that has a lot of surface area and no interior (no shells, penne, or rigatoni).  My favorite is tri-color rotini.  Tortellini would be a real treat.  If your tomatoes are not too salty, add a generous amount of kosher salt to the pasta water.
Chop basil, slice black olives, slice or chop sun-dried tomatoes (your choice, and time permitting).  Drain pasta when it is done and put it in a large bowl.  If your tomatoes came packed in oil, add as much of this flavorful oil to the pasta as your jar can spare.  Put your fixings on the pasta while it is still warm.  Add extra-virgin olive oil, or another flavorful oil of your choice, if needed, and spices if your tomatoes are not seasoned.  Be careful, some tomatoes are already full of salt or other flavors.  Mix, taste, and assess.  If you went overboard on the salt, you can balance saltiness with a little vinegar or white wine (but it won't lower your blood pressure.)

Want to kick it up a notch?  Blend a reconstitued dry chili pepper (seeds removed) and garlic with some tomatoes, then add to the pasta.

Going to a pot-luck?  Don't bother getting a bowl dirty.  Mix all the ingredients in a large zip-top bag and transfer to a bowl when you arrive.

This salad is awesome with feta or sheeps cheese.  But I think you can never go wrong by adding cheese.  Brie, fresh mozzarella...

In America, I love the big jar of seasoned, sliced sun-dried tomatoes sold at Costco.  In Israel I dig the spread sold by Pereg.  With the excesive heat and drought, the prices for sun-dried tomatoes were looking pretty reasonable.  Maybe when tomatoes are in season and cheaper than dirt, we'll dry our own tomatoes!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Olive Adventure - Part 1: Find Olives

Last week at the shuk, Hannah K. and I purchased one kilo of fresh olives and decided we would cure them in a joint project between CookingManager and Cooking Outside the Box.  If you would like to embark on this adventure with us, start saving jars and large containers and look in your local markets on you your trees for fresh olives.  Make sure you also have lots of kosher salt on hand.  This is not a difficult process, but it takes patience.

Stay tuned!  Subscribe to this blog by inputting your e-mail address on the right side of this page so you won't miss an post!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mortar and Pestle Pesto

I set out to make a traditional pesto, but I didn't have pine nuts, and my new mortar and pestle I was so excited about didn't work all that well.  Maybe I'm using it incorrectly.  Here is a video that shows some delicious pesto applications besides pasta.  I can't edit videos, but I recommend skipping to minute 4:00 of this video and just watching what I do with the pesto.

As the seasons are changing I'm noticing some new items and old favorites in the shuk.  I was thrilled to see strawberries back in season.  We also have pomelos, quinces, and we're starting to see turnips, which I just tried today.  You  can also see pictured the enormous squash they call "pumpkin," and some giant cabbage.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving: Crusts and Crumbles

In honor of Thanksgiving, the secular holiday of thanks being celebrated across America tomorrow, I'd like to talk about pies.  As I've mentioned, I'm no chicken expert, so I won't try to give you too much advice about your turkey.  Let me just say: turkey+brine overnight in a clean garbage bag.  Oil the skin, cook it hot, then let it rest.  Or try Eric Ripert's Roasted Chicken with Za'atar Stuffing.

But when it comes to pies, I have some experience.

Lets start with the filling.  On of my favorites is apple.  I like to take several varieties of apple, but at least half crispy green "granny smith" apples, and slice them thinly.  If you don't have an apple corer, you can use a melon-baller to remove the seeds, but preserve more of the fruit.  Then I put it all in a large zip-lock bag and add any of the following: brown sugar, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, a little ginger, a dash of salt, vanilla, sometimes orange zest, margarine, flour, or whatever you like, to taste.  If you are doing a large amount, you may want to dip the red apples in lemon juice and water to keep them from browning.

The main thing you need to consider with whatever filling you choose is water/juice content.  If you use fresh or frozen fruit, make sure that you have enough other ingredients (like flour) to soak up or congeal any liquid that comes out during cooking.  Otherwise you will have soup on a soggy crust.  Sometimes I add flour to my apple pie filling or sprinkle some between the layers of apple.  

If you are using sliced apples, layer the slices in the crust, choosing pieces to best fit together.  Have them stack up more in the middle of the pie.  Which brings us to... crusts!  You have several options, from the most simple crumble to a fancy lattice work crust.  Here is a sampling of some of my favorites, organized according to difficulty.

The first is a simple oatmeal crumble.  My friend Leor uses this as a topping for her apple cranberry crisp (8 apples, cinnamon, 1 can cranberry sauce, in a 9"x13" pan).  She notes that you may have to adjust the amounts of oatmeal and brown sugar a little so that it is solid.  This is a good option if you'd like to use a store-bought graham cracker crust or frozen crust.
- 1 stick of margarine, melted
- 1.5 cups of oatmeal
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- a little salt if your margarine is unsalted
- 2 Tbsp of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Next is a walnut crumb topping I made at my in-law's two years ago.  My Mother-in-law found this recipe on http://www.epicurious.com/.  I must admit I was a little offended that she would think I needed a recipe to make apple pie; however, the crumble was outstanding.  You can find several variations if you search for apple pie with walnut streusel or walnut crumb.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

As we move toward the traditional crust end of the spectrum, I'd like to pass along a recipe that I enjoyed this weekend.  It was a very tasty extra flaky crust that looked like it might be easy to make.  Here is the crust recipe:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup and 2 tablespoons shortening
- 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons cold water filling
In a bowl combine flour and salt, cut in shortening. Gradually add cold water tossing lightly with fork, until dough forms a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. On a floured surface roll half of dough to 10 inch circle. Place in 9 inch pie pan.  After you fill the pie, roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie cut slits in top, place over filling . Seal and flute edges. Beat egg yolk with water, brush over pastry. Bake a t 420 degrees 'f'' for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees 'f'. Bake 40 to 45 minutes more or till crust is golden.

And finally we get to the traditional crust.  Tender, flaky, and impressive.  I used this recipe the first year I made apple pie (a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away.)  But the second year I tried several different awful recipes (including one from the Joy of Cooking), until I finally found the recipe again...on the back side of the instructions for my mom's pastry cloth and rolling pin cover!  If you'd like to start baking pie crusts, delicate cookies, and other pastries, I strongly recommend investing in a pastry cloth or silicone pastry mat, like this one with measurements.  I would put the pastry cloth and rolling pin cover in the freezer between crusts to help keep everything chilled.  Below is the recipe.  Thanks, Dad, for finding it and typing it up!

Mix with fork and set aside:
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
Mix together in large bowl:
- 4 cups flour – unsifted and lightly spooned into measuring cup
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
Add to dry using method below:
- 1 ¾ cups shortening
Add 1 cup of shortening to dry mix first, mixing to the size of corn meal. Add ¾ cup shortening mixing to the size of peas. This method produces flakier pastry.
Add the egg mixture over all, as you toss with a fork. Pour out on a sheet of waxed paper.
Draw four corners up and squeeze lightly to form a ball. Separate into 5 balls, cover and store in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to three days. Can be frozen. Makes 5 single crusts. Too much handling toughens dough.

I think the lattice work might be a good subject for a video.  Basically you slice one dough round into even strips and weave them together over the pie.  The wider you cut the strips, the less work you'll have, so even though the professionals say 1/2 inch strips, I'd go with about 1 inch strips.  Take ever other strip and put it on the pie leaving about 1/2 an inch in between strips.  Weave the other strips in just like an elementary school craft project: over, under, over, under.  Here is a good demonstration by 13 year old William in Dallas.  You can do it!

Thanks for sticking with me on this pie adventure!  I hope you'll eventually try all the techniques I've mentioned.  They are each unique and delicious!  I want to end by giving thanks to everyone in Israel who has fed us and taught us how to survive in our new land, like the native Americans supposedly helped the Europeans.  And thank you to my family in America for putting up with the distance and being supportive of our decision to move to the holy land.  I wish they would all hop on a plane and be settled in Israel by next Thanksgiving!

You might also like: Pumpkin Soup, Mini Cherry Pies (Reduced Fat), and Fig Marmalade Pie with Low-fat Crust and Lavender Sugar.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rich Non-dairy Pesto

This dish is simple, indulgent, and classy all at the same time.  And if you put it over whole wheat pasta or brown rice with mushrooms and/or sun dried tomatoes, it's healthy, too.  I used good old white pasta in a lovely cork-screw shape that holds the sauce perfectly.
According to Parenting, Basil is a good source of magnesium, a mineral that works to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart beats steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong.  Basil also has strong antioxident effects and may help your body fight off viruses.  My favorite argument in favor of basil: According to Juniper Russo of suite101.com, Basil has the same anti-inflamatory effects as medical marijuana.  I hope we can get all those benefits by consuming it close to raw.

Whip one pasteurized egg yolk in the food processor or with a hand blender and slowly add good quality olive oil.  Start drop by drop.  The total amount will depend on how much pasta and basil you have.  Switch to a blade attachment and add one grocery-store-size bunch or half a green-market-size bunch of well washed fresh basil.  Turn it on until the basil is finely chopped. Then pour it over your dish of choice: potatoes, fish, pasta, rice, fresh bread, a spoon...
Scared of raw eggs?  I added the sauce to the pasta while the pot and pasta was still very hot.  There were no leftovers to worry about.  And what's one egg yolk between four or five people?  Delicious, that's what it is!

Stay tuned: If I find a nice mortar and pestel, the first thing I plan to make is a tradition pesto made from pounding (not blending or chopping) basil, garlic, pinenuts, salt, and extra vergin olive oil.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken with Pears and Prunes

Yes, I heard, the term "prunes" is out, "dried plums" is in. Either way, I finally made yummy moist and tasty chicken in Israel! I've been in a little chicken rut since moving to Israel. It might be the chicken or it might be me, but it keeps coming out tough and not very tasty. I went a little overboard this time. But it was delicious and pretty easy.

I think a lot about food.  I think about an ingredient I have at home or a delicious dish I once had (in this case Hannah's "Chicken with Tomatoes and Black Olives") and let my mind wander and string together ingredients I have available or am in the mood for.  I woke up in the mood to do some real cooking.  I was in the mood for something sweet and I've been wanting to try cooking with some prunes I bought.  This is how it goes:

1. Mix flour with spices like salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and a little curry.
2. Coat chicken pieces in flour.  In this case I used 6 skin-on thighs and legs.

3. Lightly brown chicken pieces in a large pot.  (I did this in two rounds.) Then remove chicken and lower heat until you get the onions in the pan.
4. Use wine or other liquid to "de-glaze" the pot:  Add enough wine to barely cover the pan, then scrape up all the tasty brown chicken flavor stuck in the pot.
5. Add to the pot chunks of 2 onions (I used one red and one yellow/sweet onion) followed by 4 quartered pears.  You can dip the pears in flour if you have extra flour mixture.
6. Raise the heat and add olives, chicken, 14 prunes, and about 1 liter or 4 cups of a liquid of your choice, or enough to almost cover the ingredients.  (Fresh or canned tomatoes - optional.)  I used liquid I had drained from canned tomatoes last week, plus water.  I also added 4 "baby bella" mushrooms I had left from making lentil soup.
7. Continue cooking on the stove or for 1.5-2 hours in the oven at 175 C or 350 F.

8. Serve over rice or in a bowl with crusty bread.

I took the chicken off to bone before serving and we ate it on top of brown rice with fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes:

I also froze a two-person portion for a future lunch:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hearty Lentil Soup

Today I am making soup for a family in our community who is sitting shiva.  Our condolences to the family and friends of Nechama Gittel Chaya (Norma) Kuras.  I've always thought my lentil soup is very comforting, but this is the first time it will really be put to the test. 

In addition, this is the first time I am making it with dry lentils (not canned) and without store-bought broth.  If you want to use those time-savers. see Easy Lentil Soup.

Some other things I'm doing differentley include using my food processor to thinly slice the veggies, and cooking two kind of lentils separately.  Lets get started!
1. Chop 2 onions, 3-4 carrots, and 1 celery root/celeriac or parsnip (both optional), and 1 sweet potato/yam (also optional, but tasty) and start them cooking with oil in a pot.

2. Add a sprinkling of flour, celery, mushrooms, and tomatoes. to the pan.

This Week in Hyperlinks

In memory of Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Yakov http://ornechama.org/.  Donate money or leave your thoughts, memories, or stories of Nechama (Norma Kuras).

My interview with CookingManager.com http://www.cookingmanager.com/cooking-box-interview-yosefa/

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cooking Outside the Box

I admit it.  I'm guilty of Googling my blog.  "Cooking Outside the Box" is now over one month old and I decided to see if it came up in Google.  As of this morning, it is #7 for the key words: cooking outside the box.  (Maybe it will be higher if I keep mentioning "Cooking Outside the Box.")  Fifth on the list was a post on Danilo's Culinary Arts Blog.  Reading his article gave me confidence that I chose the right name for my blog, because I agree completely.  Maybe he can say it better than I:

With its precise recipes, strict procedures and rigid formulas, cooking can sometimes seem more like a science than an art. But with time and a solid grounding in a few basic principles, you may find that you're increasingly able to put the recipes aside and cook by feel -- by instinct.

That means being willing to experiment -- and make mistakes! After all, it's one thing for me to warn you not to add the oil to your egg yolks too quickly when
making mayonnaise. Until you experience a broken emulsion firsthand, my words of caution will remain an abstraction. Once it happens, though (and it will), you assimilate it. Mere information is replaced by knowledge.

He continues to suggest choosing a produce item you have never tried before and preparing it through "what you can discover through your own senses,"  without cook books or internet searches.  That is one place I deviate.  I love to "Google" even things I've already tried.  Why reinvent the wheel?  And why excitedly post my "new knowlege" if it's already been writen about ad nauseum?  But in the end, I do usually try something a little different through a mix of other's knowlege and my own senses.

His post really expressed what my blog is about.  It's me sharing my experiences of trial and error with you.  You can see me make a broken emulsion (and make an excuse why it doesn't matter).  And mention things you can try to improve on what I did. 

My recently posted "Salmon Chowder" is a good example of a dish I am still working on.  It has been delicious both times I have tried it, but I want to work on improving on the time it takes, dishes it uses, and economy/ecology of the ingredients used or wasted.

This week I've been considering aquiring a domain name.  Of course this means commiting to a domain name and blog title.  I think I have decided to keep the title of "Cooking Outside the Box," which will be found at nonrecipe.com.  The runner up so far is cookingoutsidebox.com, but it may be confusing to drop the "the."  What do you think?

Salmon Chowder

I'm no vegetarian, but if a creature is killed to be our dinner, we should treat it with respect and use as much of it as we can.  When I lived in America, I never bought a fish with the skeleton included, but now I buy fresh fish at the market where I decide what to do with it.  If I ask my fish monger to fillet it, I usually receive the head and skeleton in the bag.  I was quite surprised the first time this happened, but of course, I had to find a way to use it!

OVERVIEW: The first time I made this I had a chunk of salmon skeleton and two full small tilapia skeletons.  I boiled all the raw remains with chunks of potatoes.  When the fish looked well cooked I fished it out (excused the pun) and threw in other vegetables and herbs.  I may have also added fresh or a can of stewed tomatoes.  I blended the soup, then picked the cooked skeletons clean and put the meat back in the soup.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sweet Zucchini Muffins

Were you wondering what happened to the zucchini guts (shown below) from my stuffed zucchini?  I made muffins to celebrate some little successes in our family.  Including... Mazel tov on the one month anniversary of my blog!

I share Hannah Z.'s view expressed in her post "Odds and Ends Make the Best Muffins Ever" (Keen On Quinoa.)
"... You cannot mess them up. The following is merely a record of what I did- you can play with these however you want to. I'd recommend sticking with the basic proportions (2 eggs: 1.5 tsp baking soda: 1.5 cups flour, etc) but then make a mess of it!"

However, I was also inspired by Miriam Kresh (Israeli Kitchen) via Hannah K. (Cooking Manager) to actually measure and write down what I did.  So here it is, as close as a get to a recipe.  In theory you could actually do what I did and the same results.  (Like a delicious scientific experiment!)

1. Shred/grate:
3 zucchini or the guts of 4 zucchini (about 2 cups or 475 ml). 
3 carrots (about 1 cup or 240 ml).

2. Blend/mix, then add to above in a bowl:
2 eggs
1/2 cup (120ml) oil.  (I used olive oil and canola oil)
7 prunes
3/4 cups (175ml) brown sugar

3. Mix separately in a measuring cup:
2 cups whole wheat four
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (That's all I had.  You could use 3/4 tsp baking soda and 1/3 tsp baking powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (alternatively you could add vanilla extract straight to the set of ingredients in step #2.)
1 cup raisins

4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet by hand until the flour is just incorporated (don't blend smooth.)

5. Pour into greased muffin tins or a pan and bake at 350 F or 175 C for 14-25 minutes depending on how big your muffins or loaf.
Makes 24 large muffins.
 Last night I was telling my son he needed to go to bed so I could make "cup cakes".
Him: But you need to buy them.
Me: I'm going to MAKE them.
Him: Then you need a recipe.
Very keen.  And now I have one!

Homemade "Mayonnaise" with Dill and Onion on Whole Fish

I've mentioned my technique for making a sauce for fish from mayonnaise.  I thought it was time to demonstrate. 

Traditional mayonnaise would include whipping a pasteurized egg yolk into an emulsion, adding a couple drops of vinegar (or acid of your choice), then VERY slowly at first adding an entire cup of oil.  You can do this with a whip attachment on a hand blander or food processor.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Comfort Food: Sweet Potato & Lentil "Salad"

This dish was inspired by Miriam Kresh's mush more elegant dish Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad on IsraeliKitchen.com.  I ignored Miriam's warning against overcooking the sweet potatoes and ended up making a delicious mush I would never serve to guests.  I'm almost embarrassed to post it, but it was yummy, easy, and healthy.  I would go as far as to say this may be a new guilty pleasure.

I simmered black lentils with a large red onion in a small pot and cubed sweet potatoes (yams/batata) in a larger pot.  I never would have thought of mixing lemon juice with date syrup and sweet potatoes, but it made a perfect dressing to add some complexity to the sweet potatoes.  I skipped the scallions and most of the olive oil, since my sweet potatoes had enough lubrication on their own.

Do you have any less than gourmet guilty pleasures?

Guilt-free Banana Ice Cream

My high school friend, Emily, likes her bananas a little green and crunchy.  She'd have it easy in my house.  I like my bananas freckled.  But no matter how many bananas I buy, either my son gobbles them all up, or they go bad before they get freckly.

On Friday afternoon my neighbor brought me around two dozen over-ripe bananas ready for freezing.  I've already been baking more than usual, so banana bread was not the solution.  Unfortunately for me, it is still warm enough where I live to eat ice cream.
Last night I took several of the bananas out of the freezer and left them in my food processor to begin to soften.  Then I just turned it on.  It's that simple.  Frozen bananas in a blender (or food processor).  You can add just about whatever you want.  Yesterday added vanilla and cinnamon.  Today, vitamin D and probiotics.  You could add mint extract and chocolate chips.  Or you could pulse in frozen or fresh pitted cherries after the bananas are smooth.  Top it with hot fudge or sprinkles.  A banana split might be going a little overboard.
Don't try to save leftover ice cream because it will freeze solid if it has even slightly started to defrost first.  (I tried it yesterday.)  Today our guest had to go home to do her homework right before I served the "ice cream" so I put it in the freezer, still in my food processor, and periodically took it out and blended it. That worked very well to delay eating it for several hours, and it may have kept overnight after that.  You could freeze it into ice pop molds.  Kind of defeats the purpose of the creaminess, though.  You might as well just eat a cold banana on a stick.

UPDATE: I had some moms and little kids over last night, but something came up and I couldn't get to the grocery store to pick up fresh fruits and veggies to put out.  Luckily, the night before I had frozen 4 ripe bananas (peeled) in a zip-top freezer bag.  When the crowd was over I blended them up with natural peanut butter and vanilla soy milk.  Most of the kids were too busy playing, but the moms loved it, even on this January evening.

Also see my post on freezing fruit and more ice pop ideas.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini: Part 2

As I said in my original stuffed zucchini post, I suggested to my friend Tzippy that we both make stuffed zucchini and then compare what we did.  I filled my zucchini with a rice mixture and baked them.  When we ate ours they were still crispy and juicy.  Below is what Tzippy did, along with her gorgeous pictures.

Uncommon Uses: Medicine Syringe and Melon Baller

In this post I want to feature two things you probably have in your kitchen and don't use often enough: A melon baller and a medicine syringe.

The medicine syringe I just thought of today.  I have a 1.5 kilo container of honey and I wanted to get a tiny bit on some pears.  I strongly recommend it the next time you want to drizzle any syrupy substance on cake, toast, etc.  I also plan to try it for piping icing and filling donuts.
The melon baller I use all the time.  Anytime I want to carve out a zucchini or winter squash, or make avocado salad.  When pears are in season I use it several times a day.  Just slice the pear in half, pull the stem with your fingers toward the center and use the melon baller on the seeds.  Look how much less waste I have when I use a melon baller to scoop the seeds out of these apples instead of cutting pieces from the core.

My kids like when I put cinnamon in the middle.
When my kids come home from school I try to have fruits and veggies ready.  Today for a treat everyone (including my husband) got a drizzle of honey and cinnamon in their little apples and pears.  My son loves red bell pepper and my daughter likes avocado.  You can see I used the melon baller to scoop out the avocado.

Asian Inspired Noodle Salad

My Aunt Nan recently got back from a trip to China and informed me that my blog is blocked in China.  Now that I have more confidence that authentic Chinese residents will not see my blog and be offended by my faux Chinese food, I will surely post more.  Here is a noodle salad good warm or cold.  Many of the ingredients can be substituted or skipped to make the dish healthier or cheaper.  Here are some suggested ingredients:

- Lo mein, soba noodles, whole wheat or Barilla Plus thin spaghetti
- Teryaki dressing/marinade and/or:
   - date syrup or molasses
   - soy sauce
   - a little vinegar
- Sesame oil (I don't know if this is a waste)
- Another oil, peanut would be good if you have some.
- Sesame seeds
- Bean sprouts
- Cranberries
- Chopped chives or scallions
- Fried Chinese noodles (very optional and only if you don't mind having them in the house.)

1. Start boiling water for noodles.
2. Toast the sesame seeds.  You can toast them in the oven or dry in a metal bowl or pan on the stove.
3. Wash and start cooking bean sprouts. 
4. Mix everything together when the noodles are done.

Easy Prep Chicken

This was an easy and tasty chicken dish I made as I was rushing to get dinner in the oven and shower in the time before sunset on Friday night.  But mostly I want to show off my new silicone brush.  I really wanted a green one, but my daughter was with me and she felt the pink would be a more prudent choice.
I covered the bottom of the pan with frozen green beans, then put on "fresh" chicken drum sticks and topped it with chopped onions and tomato paste.  I covered it and cooked it for quite some time.  The onions were sweet and juicy and the green beans were tasty... if you don't mind them limp.

Kid tip - When I use tomato paste, I call it ketchup and my kids are more likely to eat it.  My son insists he hates tomatoes, though he loves sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ketchup.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Soft Pretzels

I don't do much baking, but of course I wanted to participate in "Challah for Healing", so my kids and I made whole wheat soft pretzels/bagels.  I used the basic recipe and method shown in the Good Eats episode "Pretzel Logic" with some changes.  Did I mention I have trouble sticking to recipes?  This was my first time trying to make pretzels and I think they were pretty good, but I think I will try a different recipe next time, or increase the kneading and rising.

Take any recipe for bagels, pizza, or soft pretzels that looks good to you, let it rise, then start having fun with the dough.  This is my favorite shaping technique:
1. Roll two skinny snakes around 6 inches each.
2. Dampen the dough and roll each snake in a different colored topping, like poppy seeds and sesame seeds, or paprika and curry.  Push it in well, or it'll fall off when you boil the pretzels.
3. Twist the two snakes and bring the ends together to form a circle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini: Part 1

Last night my friend Tzippy and I were at the shuk around closing time.  I pointed out some zucchini that were different from what I was used to in the States.  She said they are very good for stuffing.  We both bought some and I suggested that I would post what we each did with ours.

Here are mine:

I filled mine with 2/3 brown rice and 1/3 short grain white rice, a mix of dried vegetables and spices from Pereg and canned corn.  Then I baked them uncovered, but not long enough according to my husband.  He preferred the rice while my daughter preferred the zucchini, my son didn't eat much and I liked it all.

Tzippy's still look like this as of this posting:
Click here to see how Tzippy made her zucchini.


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