Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Bread

There is a blog I love, that I'd like to share. It's called Joy the Baker. She is so marvelous. She makes this cinnamon sugar pull apart bread. I love it so much more than cinnamon rolls. Because instead of getting a hunk of dough you can't finish, you get this dish of fluffy heaven and you can just tear off a piece. Plus, VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE. This is the BEST and EASIEST dough I have ever come across. Not only for this recipe, but for every yeast dough recipe. You really cant mess it up. I have officially made it my basic yeast dough. I will never go back. There isn't really much more to say. Besides, I've got my mouth full of this stuff. So here look at this while I close my eyes and return to la la land.

Caramelized Pearl Onions with Balsamic Vinegar Dried Apricots & Thyme

Sweet and sticky caramelized onions. The onions become smokey sweet while the dried apricots add a more sugary note. Throw in some balsamic vinegar and it takes on another layer and level of sweetness. Yes. Layering. It makes this dish sing. The only other addition to these two is fresh thyme and salt and pepper. After half an hour of slowly cooking, it's like grown up candy. Serve this as a dish on it's own, which is how I did it. Or serve in a gravy boat to go over slow roasted meat or chicken.

Saute 2 bags of frozen pearl onions in oil until they begin to tenderize. Add  1 cup of chopped dried apricots and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add  1 cup of balsamic vinegar and let it reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Add salt pepper and fresh thyme. Cook for about another half an hour until the liquid becomes a sticky glaze.

Re-Invented Eggs & Hash Browns

My favorite meal of the day is brunch. Only once a week do I get to enjoy a light hearted meal with endless options, so when I make it, I make it good. I love hash browns. And I love eggs. And I always make them together. So I just decided to combine the two. A one pan dish. Just a way not to have to do twice as many dishes. And because I love re-inventing things. Instead of dicing the potatoes I shredded them. It makes a great crunchy crust on the outside, and ooey gooey chewy goodness on the inside. The eggs cook exactly the way I like them. Firm but still with a runny yolk. You can leave them on the fire longer to cook more if that's how you like them. You can even scramble them and then pour them in to the center, if you prefer scrambled eggs. This is just a pleasing dish. Everybody wins. That's how mornings should be. Here's to a great start.

I love step one. Fry an onion. I am addicted to the smell of fried onions. I'd wear it as a perfume if it were available...maybe.

Add shredded potatoes and pat flat so that the bottom can get crispy.

Fight the urge to mix it. Let it sit untouched for 5 minutes on medium high heat. Otherwise it wont get crispy, it will just get soggy.
Start mixing when one section gets a good dose of browning. Like this:

Mix well and pat again into place.

When enough of the pan is browned, make a well and add the eggs.

Season and let it sit until the eggs are just thee way you like them.

Bubbly runny eggs, crispy crunchy crust. The smell of fried onions. It's perfection.
Eat to your hearts delight!

Fried Eggplant Balls

 Like the American Top Chef, in Israel there is Master Chef. I love seeing new dishes created from my Israeli roots. In Israel Eggplant is like well, eggs. You can't have a kitchen without them. They are a staple. I think I have already said before that I absolutely love eggplants in every single way. And I am so excited to have found a new way to enjoy them. Fired till the skins are crisp and the meaty flesh inside is smokey and soft, the aroma fills your entire house, and let me tell you, it's a welcoming one. The flesh gets mixed with fresh garlic,  parsley, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Formed into balls and coated with more breadcrumbs, and fried to golden perfection. Served with fresh tehina, this makes a great meal starter.

Fried Eggplant Balls
2 eggplants
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups vegetable oil

Place the whole eggplants on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and place under the broiler, turning often, until the flesh is very tender, about 15 - 20 minutes. Cut the eggplants lengthwise and remove all the inside into a bowl. I like to use a fork and scrape the skins to get as much as possible off. Add minced garlic, parsley, lemon juice salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs and mix. Place the remaining cup of breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. In another bowl have some cold water. Wet your hands in the water bowl and form 2 inch balls in your palms. Roll them in the breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Heat oil over medium high heat. Fry the balls for 2-3 minutes until they are golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with tehina.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspired by Efrat Libfroind

I am sorry to say that is rare to find a kosher cookbook that really blows me away. Don't get me wrong, I did love the kosher palette. But the recipes weren't that surprising to me. Yet recently I was drawn to a cookbook, first for it's beautiful cover, where every single page excited me to the point where I wanted to start cooking right there! It's called Kosher Elegance by Efrat Libfroind. The photos are exquisitely shot and the components of the ingredients just make perfect sense, while still surprising you by their combinations. So, similar to that Julia Child movie, where the actress goes through the famed cooks recipes, I am going to test the recipes and report back here about how they came out. I'll make little changes if I feel the need and suggest other ideas that are inspired by some of them if they come about. I am really thrilled that I found this book now, right before the holidays. It should give me lots of things to think about when planning my holiday menus.
So start looking for posts titled The Efrat Libfroind Project - "Recipe Name" and get excited, I think this is gonna be good!

A last minute thought. Have any of you heard of this cookbook? Is it new? Am I late? Have you tried any of the recipes. Leave comments and let me know.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Garlic & Turmeric Breaded Tilapia, And Roasted Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Hash With Rosemary

Tonight, I was in a rut. I had Tilapia on hand, but was bored of this bland fish, and any uninteresting ways to cook it either. Fried? Whatever. Baked? Not the right fish for that. But then the light bulb turned on. Like I said before, Tilapia is a bland fish, which is why it's also very cheap. So it's the perfect canvas for illuminating amazing flavors.
Using plain bread crumbs, I added my own seasoning. Even the seasoned bread crumbs you buy at the grocery store aren't really flavorful. The mix I included was salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric. But the secret ingredient? Minced garlic. Combining it with the bread crumbs, the little morsels of garlic get completely covered, thus preventing it from burning in the oil. Instead they get caramelized and delicious. But what's super special here is that, the happiness that is created between the turmeric and garlic is absolutely mind blowing. The aroma before it even ever hits the oil is intoxicating. The earthy and slightly bitter flavor of turmeric is very similar to the mustard seed and just marries incredibly well with the garlic.

Not to mention the gorgeous deep ochre yellow hue that just makes me even more blissful to eat this dish.

But let's not forget about the paprika. It deserves attention too. It's smokiness rounds out the bitterness of the curry. (sigh) Have I ever told you how much I am in love with food.... Anyways back to the recipe.
Frying the tilapia in a shallow oil over medium heat for no longer than four minutes per side, ensures the fish is flaky and very moist.

Now to go along with my fish, I needed to kick up the basic everyday potato up a notch too. So I opted for sweet potato and butternut squash. Both contributing a sweet note, yet each on a different level. The sweet potato, earthier and honey like, the butternut squash nuttier and silkier, they play well together.

Not wanting to fuss with these clean and simple flavors, I just seasoned with salt and pepper, drizzled on a little olive oil and tossed in a handful of freshly chopped rosemary which really adds a different element of flavor to the double sweetness going on here.

The fish and the vegetables accompany each other flawlessly, and though not done on purpose, they kind of come out the same color! Enjoy.

Garlic & Turmeric Breaded Tilapia
8 Tilapia fillets
4 eggs
2 cups vegetable oil
9 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups plain bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs well. In another shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs with the salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric. Add the garlic and blend well with the fork until it is fully distributed and coated with the bread crumbs. The mixture will be a little damp from the garlic.  Pat the tilapia dry with paper towels. Place the fish into the egg and coat well. Transfer each fillet into the bread crumbs and coat  completely. Pat the crumbs to really stick to the fish. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Fry three fillets at a time for 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash Hash with Rosemary
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cubed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the sweet potato and butternut squash on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Toss to combine and coat. Place in a pre-heated oven. Toss with a spoon and rotate pan every ten minutes. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly brown and slightly crisp around the edges.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chinese Chicken Stir Fry With Glass Noodles

Glass noodles, cellophane noodles, crystal noodles, bean threads. It has many names. Made from mung bean flour, arrowroot, cornstarch or tapioca, these Chinese noodles are clear and chewy. They have no flavor which make them the perfect accompaniment to stir-frys, soups, salad and even egg rolls. They add body and texture and are easy to work with. So I added them to my chicken stir fry.

I wanted to name this stir fry Whats In The Fridge Stir Fry, but I decided to just keep it simple. Although that's exactly what this is. That is exactly how I decided what I was going to make for dinner tonight. You can switch up the vegetables to whatever you have in the house. Zucchinis, scallions, broccoli, those all work great too. That's what I love about stir-frys. They look fancy and time consuming but they are so fast, easy and versatile. I used bell peppers, carrots and onions, with some garlic, sesame oil and chicken. I would have added sesame seeds too but I didn't have any on hand.

The sauce for this is so simple. Because it's from a jar. What's that you say? Oh yes, that's true, I rarely use sauces out of a jar. But this one is my favorite. It's Mikee's Chinese Marinade with Garlic. It's so good. If you have a pack of short ribs, put them in a pot, throw the sauce on top and shove them in the oven. That's it.

 You will thank me. I should call that 60 second short ribs! Anyways, back to the stir fry.
I would recommend breaking or cutting the noodles so that they are shorter before soaking them. It can get really hard to stir them into other ingredients if they are all like...five feet long... :)

Ok so I like stir-frys where the ingredients are either cut small or julienned thin. I don't like fighting over which big chunk of food will make on to my fork. So I julienned.

The onions are cut as thin as you can get them. Saute them in sesame oil until they begin to get golden brown.

In the mean time soak your noodles. Boil water and pour into a bowl with the noodles. Let them reconstitute until you are ready to add them to the pan.

Then add the rest of the veggies and garlic.

Add the chicken and cook for a bit. Add seasoning and the sauce.

Cover and let the ingredients have a party.

And then enjoy a fabulous dinner.

Chinese Chicken Stir Fry with Glass Noodles
1 onion thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 red bell pepper julienned
1 green bell pepper julienned
6 cloves of garlic
2 lbs chicken breast, thinly sliced in to 2 inch pieces.
1 (5oz) package of glass noodles (also known as bean threads or cellophane noodles)
3 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup Mikees Chinese Marinade With Garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Saute onions over med-hi heat until lightly golden. In the mean time boil water and pour over cut noodles in a bowl. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and garlic to the pan and saute for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add garlic sauce and lemon juice, stir well and cover the pan. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add noodles to the pan. Stir to combine everything very well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve.