Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas! And enjoy all your dinners!

Well, here I am in Toronto, on Christmas Eve, and oddly I'm posting about two Jewish foods I've recently made for Chanukkah with my family. The first is mandelbroit, which is basically a Jewish biscotti - a twice-baked thin cookie. My mom says that it's traditionally made only with almonds, but my Zaida (granddad) likes poppyseed, and I found I quite liked that too. My parents like peanut, and Ben likes chocolate chips - and so did Michelle! The dough is quite oily, which makes it cohere well, and it was so much fun to squish it all together.

The second is latkes, of course. Chanukkah celebrates a miracle that has to do with oil, and of course somehow this translates into oily food. Thus potato pancakes thoroughly fried in oil. Some people eat doughnuts as well. What a holiday! We usually make latkes from a box (gasp!) but this time we made them from scratch (me & Michelle). My mom is allergic to onions, which are a fairly large part of latkes, so we made an onion-free batch. And it wasn't too bad! The only thing it was missing was the large dose of MSG! Mmm. Oil.

My mom chopping the peanuts for the mandelbroit:

Me mixing the mandelbroit dough

The dough - doesn't it look squishable?

Adding the poppyseeds:

The three types of mandelbroit:

The finished twice-baked broits!

Me peeling potatoes for the latkes:

My mom peeling potatoes for the latkes:

Squashing the potatoes through the food processor - one year I grated them by hand, and that was hell on earth, so the food processor was very welcome.

Dividing the mixture between onion and nonion:

Michelle likes a latke:

Oily goodness:

More cooking latkes:

The finished latkes!

Well, I hope everyone's getting a good sleep this Christmas Eve, and that Santa visits you (abundantly) in the night. Ben keeps talking about '', where apparently you can discover Santa's current location. Disturbing. But most importantly, enjoy family & friends, and eat well! And post the results!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Belated Recipe Posting, Part 1

Alisha asked for the bagel recipe a long time ago, and I'm hoping to make these over the holidays with my family (and want to avoid lugging the big book over to the island with me), so here it is in case others want to give them a try too. It's amazingly easy (yay for the food processor), and so so yummy!

from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (I don't know how I'd live without this book – it's not glamorous, but it's trustworthy and dependable enough that I don't mind)
Makes 8–12 bagels
Time: 3–4 hours, largely unattended

3 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour, plus more as needed
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or sugar (I used molasses, which became quite a prominent flavour, but was tasty)
1 1/4 cups water, plus more as needed
Canola oil, as needed for greasing cooling rack and baking sheet

1. Place flour in food processor (fitted with the steel blade, not plastic dough blade). Add salt, yeast, and sweetener and process for 5 seconds. With the machine running, pour (don't drizzle) all of the water through the feed tube. Process about 30 seconds, then remove the cover. The dough should be in a well-defined ball, only slightly sticky and very easy to handle. If the dough is too dry, add water 1 tbsp at a time and process for 5 or 10 seconds after each addition. If it is too wet, add a tbsp or two of flour and process briefly. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter or tabletop and knead for a minute or two longer by hand, adding as much flour as necessary to make a smooth, tough, very elastic dough.
2. Dump the lump of dough into a large bowl. Cover loosely with a plastic bag, plasic wrap, or towel. Let rise for about 2 hours, at room temp, or until dough has about doubled in bulk.
3. Deflate the dough ball and let it rest on a lightly floured surface, covered, for about 10 min. cut it into 8 or 12 equal pieces (for large or small bagels). Poke a hole in the middle of each ball and pull into a bagel shape (fun!). Keep the balls covered as you work, and lightly flour and cover the shaped bagels as well. When they're all done, cover and let rise for about 30 min.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drop the bagels, one at a time, into the boiling water; don't crowd. The bagels will sink, then rise to the surface. Boil 1 min on each side, then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a lightly greased rack to drain. *this is when you can dip them in toppings if you like (place topping, ie. sesame seeds, on a plate and dip one side of each bagel in just before baking)
5.Lightly greese a baking sheet. Spray the inside of the oven to create steam, then put the bagels in the oven. After 5 min, spray again. Bake 20–25 min, or until the bagels are nicely browned. Remove, and cool on a wire rack.

I tried two toppings – sesame seeds, which was classic and tasty, and fleur de sel mixed with chopped fresh herbs which was incredibly addictive. You can also add various flavours to the dough itself (knead in by hand after removing dough from the food processor – Mark suggests sauted onions, or raisins with cinnamon. Next time I'm going to try sundried tomatoes, or maybe romano cheese, or . . . Try anything you like, go wild!


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

'Twas the Wednesday before Christmas and no one was around

So, yesterday was Wednesday, but instead of "we dine" it was "me dine." Michelle nicely offered to lend me the key to her and Laura's apartment so that I could honor our Wednesday tradition in their absence, but I decided that would be too sad and lonely. Plus there were no models to be missed anyway. And it's a good thing I wasn't hindered by our normal must-be-done-by-eight schedule. By the time I made it into the kitchen, it was already after 9pm. I had been out all afternoon xmas shopping, and then met up with Raisa at Gourmet Warehouse. Don't worry girls – we'll still have our field trip there in the new year. I can never go there too often, and I actually managed not to buy anything for myself, so I must go back soon for some of that porcini pasta I love.

I had noticed earlier in the day that I had eggplant and zucchini in the fridge, so I thought of making Indian food for dinner. As Raisa and I wandered up Commercial Drive, we stopped in at one of the organic food stores in search of an ingredient which I needed for some secret xmas treats (recipe to come later, so as not to ruin my mother and sister's surprise when they open their stockings!) and I picked up some chick peas and cabbage to add to dinner. We had a coffee at JJ Bean and caught up. Raisa drew me out instructions for making pretty pretty Finish puff-pastry pinwheels with prune and apple filling. Yum!

Then we both rushed off home. I was wishing for some wine (to console myself, being alone on a Wednesday night and all) but there was none. Luckily, I remembered that there was a tiny bit of gin in my freezer. I mixed up a dirty gin martini, and was then ready to cook! It was a simple, simple dinner – basmati rice, a madras curry with chickpeas, eggplant and zucchini, and a cabbage & carrots dish that I love. I copied this recipe down on scrap papper when working in the market, from one of the many cookbooks there, and now can't remember what the source was. But it's the perfect extra dish to add to a meal when I'm making a curry with paste from a jar, to make me feel like I'm not quite so lazy (look – I made one thing from scratch!). So, thought I'd share the recipe with you all, in case you ever find yourself in a similar position.

Cabbage & Carrots
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
5-6 curry leaves (I used dried – fresh ones are rarely available)
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 green chili, chopped
1 dried red chili
1/3 of a large green cabbage, shredded (I just chop it roughly)
2 carrots, diced (or grated, or chopped however you want)
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in large pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin. When crackling, add asofatida, tumeric, curry leaves, ginger and chilis. Stir in cabbage and carrots.
2. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until cabbage and carrots are as soft as you like them.
3. Add sugar and salt. Stir through lemon juice and cilantro just before serving.

This dish is really fresh tasting, which makes it the perfect counterpart to a rich, saucy curry, I think.

(impersonating Michelle, as my blogger account is playing tricks on me – thanks Michelle!)

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Dim Sum Saturday

Well this week our Wednesday was a Saturday due to work holiday parties.

On Sat morning at 11am our viewing commenced and after a very suspenseful series of challenges, the wicked bitch of the west Melrose was crushed

by the sincere and earnest Cari Dee.

To celebrate this victory and to make up for our longer than normal meal wait, we chose to dine on dim sum. And we introduced Erin to her first dim sum experience

Sumptuous footballs, su mai, ha gao, shrimpy triangles, spicy beans and coconut cube!!!!
Alas they were out of sesame balls, waaa!!!

We feasted and were full!

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

I know, I'm behind . . .

Okay, this is not a real blog entry, but I really wanted to post some pics from previously forgotten occasions. First of all, there was the November 22nd meal of salmon, green beans, and couscous.

And following that, the November 25th evening of all things crepe.

Mmm, that was yummy.

Albert Einstein with sliced bananas? I'm not sure either. Ask Michelle.

Okay, that's it. Hopefully we're all caught up at this point.

(And I promise to be more diligent with my blogging from now on.)

P.S. After looking at the past month of blog entries, all I have to say is 'No wonder my clothes don't fit me anymore!'

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

I want to make these everyday!

Okay, I know it's not Wednesday, and I'm alone. But I'm hoping I'm allowed to post about this anyway because I'm just way too excited not to. I made bagels! Real bagels! It was easy and so much fun and I just ate one and it was incredibly delicious. Hot and tasty, crispy on the outside and soft inside, with fleur de sel and chopped oregano and thyme on top. Mmmmm. Wish you girls were here to eat them with me.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Caught up for the week!

Seeing as it's Wednesday, and a new dinner is about to occur in mere hours, I thought I'd catch us up for the week. It must be said, it's been a foodie week - if you count the previous Sunday's baking, there've been four times we've cooked together in the past week. Crazy! We're just so foodtastic. Great job on the Pad Thai recipe, Meg! I especially like the direction at the very end.

So we had a "card-making" get-together on Meg's last Sunday, and oddly, lots of food managed to be created. Puff pastry was much in evidence, and Delia came out again, this time for mulled wine and cheese-pancetta palmiers. Alisha upped the veg quotient with some sorely-needed healthy crudité, and we finally saw YoonJu cook - even if it didn't involve confectioners' sugar! Also, some cards were made.

YoonJu mixes with gusto:

Michelle & I make cloven oranges:

Meg's toasty puff-pastries with potato and goat cheese:

The tea cosy that was soooooo twee it was cool again:

Palmiers pre-cooking:

YoonJu & Alisha cruditéing:

Resultant artistic shavings:

The finished crudité plate!

More toasties:

Arty clove orange photo:

Adding the sugar to the mulled wine (with the cool teaspoon set!)

Mulled wine with clove oranges in:

Michelle's Nigella-type mulled wine mug:

Friends in the kitchen! Raisa, me, Sean, YoonJu, Meg & Alisha.

The YoonJu cake-icing series (Part 1):

Part 2:

Part 3!

Alisha and Raisa contemplate making actual cards:

Meg and some joyful potatoes:

Erin arrives for some much-needed tea:

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