Friday, December 23, 2011

The Best Sufganiot (Jelly Doughnut) Ever!

Ya, ya I know, that batch of dough you make, is your moms recipe, your grandmothers recipe, your great grandmothers recipe, it's the best. Whatever. If you don't try this recipe for sufganiot, then you won't know what an honestly delicious and amazing experience it is to eat the perfect jelly doughnut.

It's Chanukah, and the first thing I think about when I think of Chanukah is....if you guessed presents, you're wrong. It's doughnuts. It's the one time of year I can shove my face with doughnuts and just say that I am being a good Jew and celebrating my holiday the right way! I make them every year. But not this year. This year my husband Yossi came home with super excitement that he was going to make doughnuts. When it comes to anything with yeast dough, my husband is the pro. He used to have a successful pizzeria in Israel. He, of course makes the best pizzas but that's for another post.

OK so what's so special about this recipe. Well for one thing, but I think this is pretty common is that it contains the zest of a lemon. I've heard people also do orange zest which sounds even better to me. Although I have heard these additions before I have never actually tasted a doughnut with citrus zest. The second thing is that it uses fresh yeast instead of dry yeast which is what I usually make my doughnuts with. Well, it turns out our grandmothers were right. Fresh yeast is better. The third addition which is my favorite, is that it has a little liquor in it, cognac to be exact but you can use brandy or another such liquor because it's not so much the flavor that is what's needed, it's the action that it does. It supposedly reduces the amount of oil that the dough will absorb when fried. What more could a girl ask for?! Lastly, it's dairy, with milk and butter, and EVERYONE knows any dessert is better when it's dairy. So here is the recipe. It has to be followed EXACTLY. Everything from the order of the ingredients to the measurements to the steps. Everything has to be done. And the result? A crisp outside with a fluffy sweet inside that has a slight zing from the lemon. These are light and airy and delicious. And yes it actually tasted less oily than other jelly doughnuts I have tried!
These are the best doughnuts I have ever tried. Period.

Have a happy, delicious and skinny Chanukah!

The Best Sufganiot Ever!
Makes 15 large or 35 medium to small doughnuts ( we made half large, half small)

1 1/2 sticks of fresh yeast (the 57g size sticks by Fleishman's)
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
7 cups plus 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites
2 tbsp. cognac or other liquor (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 stick or 13 tbsp. butter at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
Filling: Jam, chocolate, whatever you prefer.
Powdered sugar for dusting.

In a medium bowl, crumble the yeast and pour in a 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Mix it until the yeast has dissolved and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, place the flour, sugar, egg whites, cognac, lemon zest, vanilla and remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Pour in the yeast mixture last. Turn on the mixer to low speed for 1 minute. Melt the butter and pour it in to the mixer. Raise the speed to med-high until the dough forms and pulls away from the sides. Turn off the mixer. Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm spot for 1- 1/2 hours until it has risen and doubled in volume.

When the dough has risen, transfer it to a generously floured surface and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Gently with VERY LIGHT PRESSURE, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 2-3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and very gently place them aside, careful not to break their rise. Cover all the circles with a towel for another 1 hour to rise.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or sauce pan on medium heat. Test a small piece of dough by placing it in the oil. If the dough does not rise to the top and bubble immediately, the oil is not hot enough. If you have a thermometer, it should read about 320 -340 degrees. Gently place the doughnuts in the oil and fry for 2 minutes per side or until a deep golden color. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels.
Place your filling in a piping bag and, either through the side or top, inject enough filling until you feel the bag being pushed back. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Old Recipe, Perfect For Chanukah

This is an old post that is perfect for right now. Chanukah! Traditional latkes are made with potato and onions, but this is a healthier (as healthy as you can get if you are already frying!) version. Instead of potato, zucchini and carrots along with onion make this latkes irresistible. It's slightly sweet from the carrots but it has all the crunchy fluffy goodness that an ordinary latkes has. You won't miss the old latkes, that leave you feeling really full and heavy. Feel good about grabbing another one, even if it was fried in oil. Hey it's Chanukah, the holiday of OIL!

Fried Carrot and Zucchini Latkes
Makes about 12 latkes.

4 Zucchini shredded  (I scrub mine and leave the peel on but do as you like)
4 carrots peeled and shredded
1 small onion shredded
3 eggs
3 heaping tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable oil

Shred veggies and lightly season with salt. Wait 10 minutes and then over a sieve, strain as much liquid as you can out of them. Place them in a bowl with eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Mix to combine. Heat oil over medium heat. Scoop out golf ball size spoons of the mixture and flatten into a pattie. Fry in oil for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Cool on paper towel  lined plate to absorb excess oil.

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Old Recipe For Sweet Potato Royal

Skimming through the pages of The Buffalo Jewish Review for the firs time since I moved here, I came across a page with a recipe by a holocaust survivor. Not only did I find this really nostalgic, to make this recipe for shabbos, but the main ingredient is sweet potato which I just happened to buy and was thinking of what to make with it. 

I dont think I ever thought  to combine the sweet potato with dried apricots. I would think that it would just be too sweet. But I think that's the point here, since brown sugar is added and the sweet nuttiness of almonds is tossed  in here too. Since this is the first time I am ever hearing about this recipe Sweet Potato Royal, please correct me if I am wrong, or at least tell me, that you have heard of this, that this seems to be a dessert. 

 Give it a try this shabbos. I will and I will let you know how it came out. 

Sweet Potato Royal
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup brown sugar
2lbs sweet poatoes
Peeled and baked in the oven whole)
1/4 margarine
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Soak apricots in 2 cups of water for 2 hours. Add the brown sugar and pour everything (water, apricots and sugar) into a pot. Cook until boiling.
Slice potatoes 1/2 inch thick and layer with apricots in a casserole dish. Top with melted margarine and almonds. Bake for 35 minutes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hot Chocolate Party

If you know me well enough, I will find any reason to throw a party, and the winter is the perfect one for me. It's no secret that I love the cold season. With the rain or snow making music outside your window, what's a better way to get warm than to throw a hot chocolate party?!
The newest trend this winter is the hot chocolate bar. A steamy cup of chocolaty goodness with a side of yummy toppings.

Invite your friends over and welcome them into your home the right way. Have a basket of slipper socks to toast those toes, and soft throw blankets to wrap up in.

Whip up some homemade hot chocolate and lay out the fixings. Let your friends top their mugs with their favorite flavors for a cup of hot chocolate that will warm up their souls.
Keep them awake with freshly ground espresso beans. Add half a teaspoon into your mug for a cafe mocha treat.
Serve biscotti to dip into the hot chocolate for a comforting bite. Add a luxurious touch by first dipping the biscotti in white chocolate and letting it set before serving.
Throw on some mini marshmallows and watch them melt to bring our the child in you.
Get naughty by spiking your coco with some dark rum. A teaspoon will be enough to heat you up on the inside.
Sticks or crushed, peppermint candy is a refreshing take on the classic hot chocolate.
Chocolate and orange become the best of friends during winter. A few ribbons of orange peel bring out the richness of the chocolate.
Spice up with some cinnamon sticks, a classic combo, and always sure to get you into the winter mood.
What goes better with chocolate, than more chocolate?! Give your guest delicious choices by serving dark, milk and white chocolate shavings to sprinkle onto their mugs.

Pop in a favorite movie and I promise you, your friends won't want to go home!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dressed Up Shepard's Pie

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Shepard's Pie? If it's comfort food, we're on the same page. Shepard's pie is easy to make and just makes you feel good. The ground beef, the mashed potatoes, what's not to like? Originally shepard's pie was called so because it was made by shepard's using, well, what else? Lamb meat. Although I think of lamb as the meat of meats, I don't know if I would love it as much as I love the cheaper version of basic ground beef. I could be wrong, but my take is that lamb meat is so delicate and gamey that I think the slightly sweeter tomato flavors in the sauce of  the shepard's pie recipe would overpower the lamb, so there would really be no point in using lamb meat.

So here is my idea of a dressed up shepard's pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, I topped my ground beef with paper thin slices of potatoes brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with dill. All the flavors are still there, but you get a slightly crisp crust with all the soft and buttery potato goodness. Another thing I changed was that I added red beans to the meat to make it heartier since the mashed potatoes are not there to do so. It works really well here. I think England would be proud.   This recipe idea has been in my head for a really long time. The delay of getting out was a debate of if I should do layers or just do the original meat on the bottom, potatoes on top. I think that layers of ground beef, and thinly sliced potatoes, a few times would also be wonderful. I just went the easy route, as I have three hungry boys to feed in under an hour!

I hope this recipe will bring your lots of comfort and that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dressed Up Shepard's Pie
Serves 4

2lbs ground beef
4-5 small potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, and sliced paper thin using a mandolin
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
1 can red beans
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 tbsp. olive oil.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in large skillet over medium high heat, and fry onion until translucent. Add beef and cook for 3 minutes. Add beans and continue to cook, stirring often for another 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, ketchup and spices and cook until meat is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Pour into a baking dish and flatten out evenly. Decoratively layer the potatoes over the meat. Brush with remaining olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle with dill. Broil on high for 10 minutes or until the potatoes get crisp and golden in color.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thinking About Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is literally just around the corner. Excited is an understatement. Since I want to share with you my ideas for recipes before Thanksgiving so that you can actually attempt them for the actual holiday, my personal photos wont apply. But I have referenced recipes from other chefs, for you, that I would trust with a feast for kings.

Unlike most holidays, Thanksgiving meals don't give that much room to play. It's very traditional. The turkey, the pies, the green beans. So this Thanksgiving my plan is to reinvent the classics.

Turkey: Lets start with the turkey. I think we, Americans have come a long way from the old fashioned, dry as a bone, turkey, smothered in gravy, so that it will actually slide down your throat. Never really understood how peoples turkeys turn out dry. Mine is juicy every year, and I don't know how because I still don't know how others cook theirs. Mine is pretty simple. I make a crap load of basting sauce, something savory and delicious and baste the turkey often. My bastes are not too liquidy. I would call it more of a thin glaze. Just like your skin, water can actually pull out moisture so you want to make a baste is thicker in consistency, instead of watery. I also cook my turkey completely covered in foil until the last 20 to 30 minutes. It results in a super moist turkey that also has that gorgeous golden crust on top. For stuffing, see the next paragraph, but just to note that I don't  cook the turkey with traditional stuffing. Instead I fill the cavity with citrus and herbs like lemon and or orange wedges, rosemary sprigs or sometimes an herbs de Provence bundle, and garlic. This technique infuses the whole turkey with amazing flavors, not to mention is a great aromatic for your home when the guests walk in.

Baste: Like I mentioned in the turkey section, I prefer a thicker baste. I prefer one that is not based on water or stock, rather than juices and flavors of actual foods. Here are a few different flavor bastes which will be the flavor for your entire turkey, so choose wisely
1) Citrus and Ginger Glaze: This is a glaze I use many times on chicken but I fancy it up with fresh herbs and flavored olive oils. The recipe is right HERE, from my post The Five Sauces You Should Know By Heart. Add to this mixture an extra virgin olive oil that is infused with flavor. Today they sell everything from rosemary olive oil, to lemon, to lavender. The possibilities are endless and they really do give your food immense flavor. My favorite is Tuscan herb which can be easily found in a specialty store like Whole Foods. Also add your own herbs. Rosemary would do wonders combined with the honey in this. Sage would be great too.
2) Balsamic and Honey Marinade: Also from The Five Sauces post, is the balsamic sauce. This not only will cause your guests to act inappropriately, licking their fingers, but creates a stunning golden brown skin on the poultry. Balsamic and honey sauce.
3) Red Wine with Carrots and Mushrooms: The carrots give sweetness, the mushrooms earthiness and the wine, rich luxury. Start by frying 3 large onions in a pot until translucent, and then adding the 5-6 large chopped carrots. Cook stirring often until the carrots have slightly softened. Add about 1 to 2 cups of  cremini mushrooms or baby portabellas and saute until the vegetables brown a bit. Add an entire bottle of  good red drinking wine. Something semi dry like Merlot or a well rounded Cabernet. Lower the heat and simmer until the wine has  reduced by half. Season your turkey well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley and baste with the sauce. Pour about 1 cup over the turkey and using a pastry brush, soak up from the bottom of the pan and brush generously, massaging into the skin. Cover and bake. Baste every 30 minutes.

Stuffing: As for stuffing, I go for one that people will actually eat. It's not cornbread based. It's just simply delicious hearty, and juicy vegetables. Lots of carrots, lots of celery, lots of garlic, lots of caramelized onions, maybe some nice croutons mixed in. All cooked on the stove top and only after the turkey is done, do I spoon it in, after I have removed the citrus and herbs. Sometimes I replace the croutons with quinoa or farrow. Adding a starch or grain is crucial as it will really create a stockier stuffing. So remember, the key to a great stuffing is cooking it separately. Some even serve it separately, but stuffing the turkey is one tradition I like to keep. So stuff it later, no one wants to eat soggy stuffing.

Sides: If you like tradition and want to do green beans and mashed potatoes, at least give them a makeover. Surprise your guests with green beans cooked with dried cranberries or dates. Fry some shallots in sesame oil, add your dried fruit (dried apricots would be incredible here too) and let the oil and juices that has been released by the onions reconstitute the fruits. Add your green beans, cook until just aldente and add in the sesame seeds. Get fancy and throw in white and black sesame seeds! If you really want to pull out all the stops. Place some scallions in a hot water bath to wilt. Tie them with a bow around little bundles of the green beans and place all the bundles on a platter, so everyone could just grab an individual package!

If you love the idea of soft mashed potatoes, keep the soft and toss the mashed. This is my recipe I call Tuscan Scalloped Potatoesmandolin blade, I slice potatoes paper thin. Toss them in a large bowl with an infused olive oil and lots of herbs. Think, rosemary, sage, dill, Italian parsley and oregano. Make sure to really get every potato coated in oil and herbs. This might require a lot of oil. Hey, everybody knows thanksgiving isn't forgiving! Pour the potatoes into a casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake on 350 for an hour and then uncover under the broiler on high for 10-15 minutes or until crisp and brown. This will be gone before the turkey, I guarantee you!

For those of you who can't get enough butternut squash on the holidays, here are a few nutty suggestions. Butternut squash soup is always a pleaser, but why do a carrot and butternut squash soup with ginger, or how about 2 soups poured into one bowl for a wow effect. Cook butternut squash soup and beet soup, (here is the recipe for Velvety Beet Soup from Food & Wine. Place each soup into a large glass measuring cup. Holding one cup in each hand, pour the soup into each bowl simultaneously. Half the bowl will be a curry yellow, the other a deep crimson! And another idea I love is trading your ceramic or porcelain bowls for seasonal squash, like gourds or round squash, but cutting the top of and carving out the inside. Another optional decor idea- using a toothpick, zig zag down the middle of the soup to make an artsy effect. This dish is both delicious and beautiful.

Dessert: When you think of thanksgiving dessert, you automatically think of pumpkin pie. Don't skip the pumpkin pie. In my opinion it's not thanksgiving with out some simple traditional pumpkin pie. Buy it if you have to, but don't leave it out. But what about combining all the greatest flavors of fall and decedent desserts. I think I will be leaning toward this recipe for my holiday!  Pumpkin Spice Is Twice As Nice as Nice from How Sweet It Is.

These are just some of the things that are on my mind for thanksgiving. I will be sure to update you when I get more, or come across ones that I have to share. Until then, happy holidays to everyone!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins With Cinnamon Butter

Remember my recent post on the apple cinnamon pound cake? Well this recipe is a spin off to that cake. These are fluffy buttery muffins with a much lighter batter that are perfect for Sunday breakfast. The batter in this recipe is my go-to muffin base. It never fails to deliver a fluffy airy consistency. I add blueberries, almonds, cranberries, chocolate chips, anything you can think of. Store this in your recipe file because it is easy and amazing.

So it's Sunday. My favorite day of the week. It is a beautiful crisp fall morning so I decided to make muffins. And what better way to have my husband wake up then to a house filled with the aroma of cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg? Seriously it will consume your entire house. It's incredible. To make these muffins, I added diced apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then I made a streusel topping of brown sugar and cinnamon with bits of butter. And to finish it off, like the pound cake, this recipe has a cinnamon topping of its own as well. Brown sugar butter. Simply sweet butter and brown sugar combined and spread onto the fresh out of the oven hot muffins. What you get when you take that first bite is a warm cinnamon infused silky cake with the most decadent crunch top caressed by a luxuriously cozy butter. I swear. It's that intoxicating.

These are the ingredients to the basic muffin recipe

And this is my personal addition. Like I said, you can add anything you like.

Hmm... the smell of rich dark vanilla....

Baking on Sunday morning is like taking a walk in the clouds with angels!

Ya, I know, I even add a little stylista into my baking!

I recommend you really fill the muffin cups up to the top if you want a tall crisp topping. I'm not a fan of flat top muffins. I like me a big fat muffin top!

Sprinkle on the goodness and try and make sure that there is at least 1 or 2 cubs of butter on top of every muffin to ensure a gorgeous golden color and perfect crunch.

Take a whiff. Can't you just smell it?

A lot of recipes I have seen for brown sugar butter call for first melting the sugar and then whipping it into the butter. But I like the crunch that the raw sugar adds to the sweet butter.

A soft fluffy inside contrasted by a sweet crisp outside is my idea of perfection. Opposites totally attract.

Now if you're NOT like me, you will share these with your loved ones.... I prefer to keep them all to myself. Sorry, go make your own batch. :)

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins with Cinnamon Butter
Makes 12 Muffins

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
3 tsp. baking baking powder
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced small
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter diced

Brown Sugar Butter:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375.
To make the batter:
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolks and vanilla and beat to combine. Alternating between the milk and flour mixture, gradually add each to the batter. After the batter is well mixed, add the apples and turn on the mixer to medium just to evenly incorporate the apples, a few seconds. You don't want to beat it longer or the paddle will break the apples. Generously spoon tablespoon scoops of the batter into a muffin pan with greased muffin cups.

To make the streusel:
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter and mix lightly, careful not to break the butter. Top the muffins with the streusel, making sure that there is at least 1 or 2 cubes of butter on top of each muffin. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle muffin comes out clean. Let cool.

To make the brown sugar butter:
Using a fork, mash the butter and sugar together. Spread onto slightly cooled muffins and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cream Pesto Baked Pasta

It's no surprise that lately I have a slight obsession with sun dried tomatoes. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it's because I love tomatoes in general. They make my top five favorite foods list. Or maybe its because they are chewy and sweet and savory. They are so versatile and easy to use. One of my favorite ways to use sun dried tomatoes is as a pesto. It's an escape from the now basil version that everyone associates with pesto. Pesto simply means paste in Italian so you can basically make any type of paste you want and call it a pesto. This pesto  is super easy to make and is so delicious you will have forgotten about your old friend basil. After preparing the pesto, I sauteed it for a few minutes in a pan and added cream. After mixing the pasta and cream pesto together, I placed it in ramekin and topped it with some shredded mozzarella and stuck it under the broiler for just a couple minutes so that the top gets golden and crispy. This entire recipe takes under 30 minutes to make and is so creamy and satisfying, I promise you it will soon become one of your favorite comfort foods.

The colors of Italy... :)

Into the food processor they go. The only problem here is that after pulsing this a few times, I realized that it wasn't going to be enough to make into a paste since I used dry packed sun dried tomatoes. So I switched to a hand blender. Although I would recommend (and I wrote the recipe as such) jarred sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil.

I used olive oil when pulsing the ingredients in the food processor, but because the jarred ones would have been soaking in the olive oil, it will paste much easier.

After using my hand blender (and after using olive oil jarred sun dried tomatoes in the food processor) this is what the pesto should look like. 

Add the cream to the sauteed pesto and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

I placed the mixed pasta into a fancy French onion soup style ramekin. For the sake of the beauty of the  blog... :)

A little shredded cheese never does any harm.

Hmmmm and the final product. Creamy, crispy, heavenly.

Cream Pesto Baked Pasta
Makes 4 servings. 
1 bag rotini shaped pasta
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, jarred in olive oil
5 garlic cloves 
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
In a food processor, put sun dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley and 2 tbsp. of the jar oil and pulse until finely minced like a paste. 
Pour the pesto into a skillet and saute over medium heat for 2 -3 minutes stirring constantly. (Do not leave unattended, will burn easily) Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened slightly, about 1-3 minutes. Pour over pasta and mix well. Place in oven safe ramekins and top with shredded cheese, 1/4 cup per ramekin. Broil on high for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden crisp and bubbly. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Pound Cake

This cake oozes fall. It's warm (if you can't wait for it to cool off before devouring like me, plus its better that way!) it's cinnamony and autumny! Not words but whatever. This cake rocks! Ok so this is how this thing evolved. I was pondering on what to bake, so I grabbed my big recipes binder (pointed to above). You know what I'm talking about, I know you have one. Everyone has one. It's a big chunky binder filled with neatly printed recipes (for the days you felt super organized) and stained ripped out scribbled on notebook paper recipes  (for the days you weren't!), magazine scraps, cut outs from the back of the cereal box and other varieties of instructions on how to work in the kitchen! Well I've got one, but I haven't gone through it in a while. One reason being I like to try new things, and once I make a recipe, I pretty much remember it by heart. But for inspiration I went back, and I found my pound cake recipe. The first thought that came to mind was, ugh, heavy, dry, not in the mood for that. But then a light bulb came on! I'll give it a makeover! I love makeovers! Makeovers are super fun. So I thought, I'm staying in this shabbos. It's cold outside, I just want to plunker down on the couch with a cup of coffee and a yummy fall spiced piece of cake. So I threw in some apples, cinnamon and nutmeg and voila! A moist, rich, aromatic cake with the slightest sweet crispy glaze on the outside, like a doughnut. It's heaven on a plate. The key to keeping the cake so moist is by pouring only half of the batter into the pan, and then you fill it with sliced apples engulfed in a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with dots of margarine (or butter if you are doing it milchig, which would be even more sinful). So that when its baking in the oven, everything melts and gets all bubbly and spreads to the rest of the cake and makes a satisfying surprise when cut into. Plus the batter itself has diced apples in them, so there is another source for moistness. It's amazing you have to try it!

Apple Cinnamon Pound Cake
3 sticks plus 2 tbsp. margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 eggs
5 gala apples, peeled. 3 diced small and 2 thinly sliced.
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup confectioners sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 3 sticks of butter and  the granulated sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well. Add flour and beat until fully combined and smooth. Add in the diced apples and mix for just a few seconds to incorporate. Spray a bundt pan with non stick cooking spray and then sprinkle well with flour until the pan is completely coated. Using a large serving spoon, scoop half the batter into the pan and smooth out evenly. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon and the nutmeg and mix well. Add the sliced apples and toss. Sprinkle this on top of the batter evenly. Cut 2 tablespoons of margarine into cubes and scatter over the brown sugar mixture. Pour the rest of the batter over this and smooth out. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour or until a skewer pierced in the center comes out clean. (The cake will look really wet because of all the moistness but trust the skewer) Let the cake cool for half an hour. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the pan by simply sliding the knife in between the cake and the pan all around. Carefully flip onto a serving platter. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the remaining tablespoon of cinnamon. SLOWLY add tiny amounts of water, to make a thick glaze. When the cake has completely cooled, pour the glaze over the cake so that it drips down the sides.

To make the garnish, use a melon baller to scoop out balls from whole peeled apples. Roll them in a mixture of equal amounts white sugar and brown sugar. Place on top of freshly glazed cake to stick.

Broccoli, Sun Dried Tomato & Date Phyllo Bites

Forgive me broccoli for I have betrayed you. I told you how much I love you and then I abandoned you for who knows how long. I miss you. Lets be friends. Yay!

So now that that's settled... these are scrumptious. Tiny bites of salty and sweet goodness. Store bought mini phyllo cups are filled with a caramelized saute of broccoli, red onion, sun dried tomatoes and dates. The dates lend a chewy and sweet addition that pair so fabulously with broccoli and tang of the sun dried tomatoes. This is a quick fix and ideal as a gourmet appetizer in a perfect single bite.

Broccoli, Sun Dried Tomato & Date Phyllo Bites

24 mini phyllo cups (2 boxes)
1 head of broccoli, stems removed and chopped into 1/2 inch florettes.
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped
8 pitted dates, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until lightly golden. Add dates, sun dried tomatoes and broccoli. Add salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Add water and cover. Let cook until all the water is absorbed and the broccoli is half way cooked. Remove from the stove. Using a teaspoon, fill phyllo cups placed on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Make sure to fill each cup equally with all the ingredients. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cups are lightly golden and broccoli is now fully cooked.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Asparagus Soup With Ginger & Almond Oil

This soup is so delicate and flavorful, you wont believe your mouth. The mild and refined essence of the asparagus is highlighted by an aromatic oil infused with lemony and earthy ginger and sweet and nutty almonds. The Asparagus gets lightly sauteed with smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme. Then boiled with water, silky milk, salt and pepper, it gets liquefied before being thickened with a little flour rue. As for the infused oil, slices of fresh ginger and almonds are simmer-fried (yes my own invention of a word. Where the oil fries, but the ingredients are drenched in the oil that it looks like it's simmering) to release all of their essential flavors and aromas. The oil is then drizzled over the soup and served with good crusty baguette slices. This soup is a luxurious experience for your senses. So on a cozy fall day, bundle up and enjoy.




Asparagus Soup With Ginger & Almond Oil

For the soup:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus, washed and ends trimmed
7 cloves of garlic, smashed
5 sprigs of thyme
6 cups water
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

For the oil:
1/2 cup olive oil
A 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup of sliced almonds

Heat up the 2 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add asparagus and whole sprigs of thyme. Add 1 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the garlic and asparagus begin to brown and soften. Add water and milk, turn heat up to high and cover. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Strain out all of the asparagus, thyme and garlic and place into a blender with 4 ladles of the liquid. Pulse until completely liquefied. Place back into the pot with the remaining liquid. In a bowl, pour 2 ladles of the soup and add the flour. Whisk until there are no lumps and the mixture smooth. Add back to the pot, add remaining salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 

For the oil:
Place the olive oil in a small pot over medium high heat. Add the ginger and almonds and let cook for 10- 12 minutes or until they have browned nicely. Drizzle over soup and garnish with almonds and fresh thyme.