Monday, February 27, 2012

Yellow Rice - the Mizrahi Way!

This rice is aromatic, delicious and very easy to make.  If you follow the instructions exactly, you will be assured excellent results. 


3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, chopped thinly
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
3 tsp ground Cumin
1½ tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Black Pepper and  1-1/2 tsp Salt**
2 cups Long Grain Rice, (I suggest basmati rice)
4 cups unsalted chicken stock or
**4 cups water and 4 cubes of pareve chicken bouillon cubes (omit salt above if you use these)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves (optional)


Heat oil and onion on medium heat until onion is a golden colour.
Stir in garlic and spices for 1 minute to coat the onion.
Add the uncooked rice and stir for 3 minutes until everything is coated.
Add the stock and bring to a boil.
Change heat to low and simmer covered for 18-20 minutes.
Turn off the heat, and Let Stand, covered for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and fluff rice lightly with a FORK.
Garnish with Cilantro. (Optional - but really nice)

K (F) if using stock - K (P) if using pareve boullion cubes

This recipe may easily be cut in half.  Cooking time will be the same.

Pita Bread (Mizrahi) - Not like what you buy in the shops!


3 cups flour
1 Tbsp dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar   
 ¾ teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp Olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
 2 cups warm water - NOT HOT as the heat will kill the yeast
 1 ½-2 ¼ cups flour (You may use 1 to 1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour)

    Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl.
    Beat well with a mixer or by hand for about 1 minute.
    Then mix in the remaining flour, using just enough to make a soft, sticky dough.
    Turn out on floured board and continue to knead for 5 minutes.
    Divide into 12 balls.  Let rest for 10-20 minutes.
    Roll out each ball to about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter.
Place as many as will fit on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased and lined with baking paper and      sprinkled with cornmeal.   Sometimes I use sesame seeds to sprinkle on the pan.

    Let rise for 25-35 minutes
 Bake at 450 for 4 minutes, and then turn over with your fingers, a fork or spatula and bake for 4 more minutes or until lightly browned.  Repeat with additional rounds.
    Wrap immediately in a clean dish towel for 3 or 4 minutes.

K (P)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Basil Pesto

Two recipes for pesto are given here.  One can be made with or without Parmesean cheese - to be served with meat, etc.  The second is dairy-free - so it can be served with anything.   I normally add a bit of cayenne to my pesto - also I enjoy the tang of the lemon.  Taste just after blending it up and add a bit of salt, pepper or lemon if wish. 

For a beautiful sauce for grilled salmon or Ocean trout, mix a ratio of 1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise with 1 tsp. pesto.  It is so delicious with fish! 

Leftover pesto can easily be kept, tightly covered in the refrigerator for 5 days.  It also freezes beautifully!

Basil Pesto - recipe #1


45g (1/4 cup) pine nuts- toasted
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh basil leaves - wash three times and check for insects
2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped up a bit
60g (3/4 cup) shredded Parmesan cheese (Optional)
5 tbs olive oil

Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 325 degrees F. Watch them carefully as they will go from being just right to burning very quickly. I often do this step in a pareve pan on top of my stove - I find it easier to watch this way. Allow to cool.

In a blender, food processor or magic bullet, place basil leaves, garlic, parmesean (if you want this for a dairy recipe) and olive oil and begin to blend. Pulse a few times and then stop and make sure all ingredients are mixing well. Add a bit more oil if necessary. Blend until you have a thick puree. Taste and add salt and pepper if you think it needs 'something' I add a dash of cayenne to mine!

K (D) if Parmesean cheese is used K (P) if you omit the Parmesean cheese.

Dairy-Free Basil Pesto - recipe #2


2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves, washed three times, checked for insects
1/3 cup toasted Pine Nuts (see toasting instructions in recipe above)  or Walnuts (or perhaps raw sunflower seeds for those who are tree nut-free?)
3 medium Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 and 1/2 tsp. fresh squeezed Lemon Juice (more or less, to taste)
1/2 tsp. Salt
In a food processor or blender, combine the basil leaves with the nuts (or seeds), lemon juice and sea salt.  Pulse a few times until mixture is reduced in volume and the mixture is well incorporated.

Add the garlic and pulse a few times more. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the blender or food processor is running, stop to scrap down the sides with a rubber spatula. Taste.  Add more lemon juice and/or salt if needed. Serve with pasta, chicken, fish, grilled vegetables or even on bruschetta!

K (P)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Hamantaschen Time!

Makes about 36 Hamantaschen



2/3 cup pareve margarine or butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2-3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt

1. Cream the shortening with sugar. Add egg and continue creaming until smooth.

2. Add the vanilla. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt until a ball of dough is formed
(a food processor is excellent for this).

3. Chill for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5. Taking 1/4 of the dough, roll out on a lightly floured board to a thickness of 1/8 inch.

Cut circles of dough with a drinking glass or round cookie-cutter.

With your finger put water around the rim of the circle.

Fill with 1 teaspoon poppy-seed or nut filling and fold into three-cornered cookies. **
(Press two sides together, and then fold the third side over and press the ends together.)

6. Bake on a well-greased cookie sheet 10-16 minutes, until the tops are golden.

These freeze very well to help avoid that last minute holiday rush!

Poppyseed Filling:
1 c. poppy seed
1/2 c. water or milk
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 lg. egg, slightly beaten
Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until thick, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg and then stir into the remaining poppy seed mixture. Cool thoroughly before using.  This filling can be frozen for later use.

** Alternative fillings - One can fill these delicious pastries with any good fruit preserves - apricot, raspberry, and strawberry are yummy, although not traditional. My own family uses a mixture of ground dates, walnuts, sugar and freshly ground cardamom. My cousin's grandmother used ground cooked fig and walnuts or simply ground walnuts, sugar and freshly ground cardamom. I have not seen these used in households other than my family's or those of my childhood shul, however Turkish/Iraqi Jewish cooking has its own variations, as do most localities, depending upon the fruits or other ingredients in season.

A friend of mine from Norway always uses 1/2 almond flavouring and 1/2 vanilla extract in the dough and for the filling she used only nuts, sugar and ground cardamom and dusted each with powdered sugar using a flour sifter. Very pretty.

(K)P or (K)D if Butter is used

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Old Fashioned Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

 Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

When I was a girl, I used to make this recipe for our big family - it was delicious.  It came from my mother's Betty Crocker Cookbook, circa 1950's.  As you can see, it has no egg in it and also, very little butter or milk.  I remember being told this was a recipe that was created during WWII when the above items were rationed.
Double the recipe for a large family -  The recipe below is for a 9" square pan and should serve 8-9 people.  I normally double the recipe and bake in a 13 x 9 x 2 pan.  Enjoy!

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ cup non-dairy milk substitute - soy, almond, light coconut milk, etc.  (or dairy milk)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons margarine (or butter), melted

    1 cup light brown sugar
    ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa
    ¼ teaspoon salt

This water mixture will make the topping turn into the hot fudge pudding:
    1¾ cup nearly boiling water
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Measure flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in non-dairy milk substitute (or dairy milk), 1 teaspoon vanilla and melted margarine (or butter). Spread batter in an un-greased 9-inch square pan.

Stir together brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. (some like to sprinkle chopped walnuts on top, at this stage.  I have never used them)

Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla into hot water and pour gently over all. DO NOT STIR!

During baking, the 'cake' portion will rise to the top and the hot fudge pudding will settle to the bottom.

Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm.  Top with non-dairy whipped topping, non-dairy ice-cream or if you are having a dairy meal, - go for it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Note:  If preparing for Shabbat, bake before candle lighting and simply cool on a rack on your blech.

Can be made (K) parve or (dairy)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Smoked Trout Pate - can be made "Kosher for Passover"

 I have eaten smoked trout pate from the store and although it has been nice, this recipe is delicious, less expensive and much nicer to serve. 
It might sound sophisticated but this smoked trout pate is quick and easy to prepare.  Other smoked varieties of fish are equally nice.  Can easily be served as kosher for passover - check labels on all ingredients.

Makes 2 - 3 cups
    400g (14-16 oz) smoked trout fillet (carefully check for bones!)
    280g (9 oz.) margarine (or unsalted butter), softened
    2 Tbsp. horseradish
    Pinch of cayenne pepper
    100ml (5 tbs) creme fraiche or sour cream (or use non-dairy alternative)
    40ml (2 Tbsp.) lemon juice, plus extra to serve
    2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill


Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined, then season with salt and pepper. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Garnish with a sprig of fresh dill and lemon wedges.

To Serve:

For Pesach:  Spread on matzah or use as a dip for raw veggies.
During the rest of the year:  crackers or dry toasted bread (like Melba toast) is nice

If you have non-dairy sour cream available, this pate can be made 'parve' - which makes this a more versatile recipe.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Leftover Challah? Make Croutons!

I bake challah every week.  Sometimes I have many guests and most of it gets eaten.  Often, I will use it for toast or make french toast for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Sometimes it is just me so I have a lot of challa left over.

This week I had extra challah left over and I figured I would make some croutons for salads.  Prepared croutons are so expensive in the store - this is a good way to use up any leftover bread.  After the croutons have cooled, put them in an air-tight container or a zip plastic bag.

I keep a quart jar filled with olive oil and smashed garlic in my refrigerator at all time.  It gets semi-solid so it is very easy to spread.  It will soon become liquid when room temperature.  I use this oil for my croutons and also to make garlic bread.  I have written an alternative in the recipe below in case you do not store garlic infused oil in your own refrigerator.

As my oven is parve, I can use these croutons on any salad and with any meal.

 Croutons before toasting

 Croutons after toasting

How to make Homemade Croutons:

Use whatever leftover, stale bread you have on hand.  Cut it into cubes.  If you get some crumbs, dry them out and store them to use as bread crumbs in a recipe

Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper.  Drizzle olive oil over the parchment paper.  Use either powdered garlic, garlic salt (if you like it) or something else to sprinkle on top of the oil.  Scatter bread cubes over the oiled surface.  Toss with your hands or a parve spatula.  If necessary, drizzle a bit more olive oil over the bread cubes.  I often will put more garlic on and sometimes a bit of salt.  This is optional, of course.

Bake in a 250°F/120°C  until the bread cubes are light brown and completely dry. Taste one to check.  If not completely toasted through, then bake a bit longer but watch them carefully at this point so they do not burn! Croutons must be completely toasted through or they will not keep well.

Cool on baking sheet.  Once croutons are completely cool, store in an airtight container.  Enjoy!
K (p)