Making Bread the Old Fashioned Way AKA Challah 101

        One of the most basic and satisfying of foods to come out of a Jewish kitchen

is bread. Challah, of course is number on the hit parade. It’s significance in our life

and life cycle events is undeniable. Recipes tend to be handed down from generation

to generation and while they may vary slightly they all are pretty much the same. Challah, that wonderful bread that’s usually eaten on the Shabbos, assumes an entirely new personality when we prepare it for the holidays. Instead of the traditional braided loaf, the Rosh Hashanah challah is round – symbolizing the cycle of the New Year. There is also a tradition to design a challah ladder or challah birds are added to the holiday challah by some families to commemorate the prayers rising to Heaven.

      There are, however a multitude of other breads that have woven there way into

our collective Yiddish hearts (and mouths) and landed on our hips due to our

ancestors proclivity for wandering from country to country picking up recipes from

where ever they managed to find a home. We may not have had a lot of permanent

residences but, by gosh, we had great bread.

     Nowadays, we all tend to settle for the prepackaged, bland and boring stuff that

passes for bread. Yes, there are bakeries that can produce wonderful flavorful loaves

but let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like the smell, taste and satisfaction that comes

from homemade bread.

     Making bread is far easier than most people think. You need to follow a few

simple guidelines and you shouldn’t have any problems.

     First, yeast is not the enemy. It’s just a plant and it’s really not too difficult to

use once you realize that the temperature of the water used to activate the yeast

should be between 105 to 115 degrees. Any cooler or hotter and you run the risk of

not having it activate.

     Letting the dough rise twice is also a must. The dough needs the chance to

form gluten (the structure of the bread) and letting it rise twice lets that happen.

     The following recipes are simple straightforward examples of classic breads.

Once you try them you’ll never go back to the too the stuff from the store.  

RYE BREAD

2 tablespoons yeast

2 1/2 cups

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons shortening, melted and cooled slightly

2 1/2 cups rye flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

6 cups flour

In a bowl combine the water, honey and yeast. When the yeast bubbles add the salt

and shortening. Mix well. Add the rye flour and caraway seeds. Add enough white

flour to form a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes and add more flour if the dough

is too soft and sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until the

dough is double in size. Punch the dough down and place the dough on a floured

surface. Knead 3 or 4 times and shape into 2 free form loafs and let rise until double

in size. Preheat oven to 400. Take a sharp knife and make several criss cross cuts

across the top of the loafs. Bake for 35 minutes. You can glaze with water just before

and after baking if you like. Makes 2 loafs.

BLACK BREAD

3/8 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon

1 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon instant coffee

2 packages yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 cups dark rye flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups flour

1 egg white beaten with 2 tablespoons water

In a bowl combine the cornmeal and the cold water and mix well. In a saucepan boil

the water. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water and mix until the mixture

thickens and bubbles. Stir in the butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, cocoa and instant

coffee. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In another bowl dissolve the yeast in the

1/4 cup water and add to the other mixture and stir. Place the liquid mixture into a

large bowl or mixing bowl and gradually mix in the flours. Add a little more water if

necessary. The dough should, however, be slightly sticky. Place the dough on a

floured surface and knead with additional flour if necessary until the dough is firm and

elastic. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until double in size.

Punch down and form two round loafs or place the dough in two greased loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 375. Let rise until double in size and brush the top of the bread with

the beaten egg whites and water mixture. Bake 375 for 50 to 60 minutes. Error on the

side of over baking if you have doubts about whether or not the bread is done. Makes

2 loafs  

PUMPERNICKEL BREAD

2 tablespoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/4 cup molasses

1 cup potatoes, mashed

1 tablespoon shortening

2 cups boiling water

1 1/4 tablespoon caramel coloring

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

4 cups rye flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

5 cups flour

In a small bowl combine the yeast with the sugar and warm water. Set aside. In a

large bowl combine the salt, molasses, mashed potatoes, and shortening. Pour the

boiling water over these ingredients and mix well. Cool. When the potato mixture is

lukewarm add the yeast mixture to it and mix.  Stir in the coloring to the desired color.

Combine the cornmeal with the rye flour, caraway seeds and all but 1 cup of the white

flour. Stir in the liquid to the flour mixture and mix ell until it comes away from the side

of the bowl. Turn the dough out on to a floured board and knead with enough flour to

form a soft dough. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Knead again and add a little

more flour if necessary and place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until

the dough is double in size. Punch the dough down place the dough on a floured

surface. Knead a few times and shape into two round loafs. Brush the top of the loafs

with water, place the loafs on greased baking sheet and let rise until the loafs double

in size. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Remove the loafs from the oven and cool on

racks. Makes 2 loafs

ONION BREAD

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup luke warm water

2 packages yeast

4 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2/3 cup oil

1 3/4 cup warm water

8 cup flour (approx.)

2 grated onions

1 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

In a small bowl dissolve sugar in the 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle the yeast on top (let set

10 min.)  Mix in the eggs, sugar, 1 T. salt, oil, water and 1/2 the flour. Mix well and

add the rest of the flour. Let the dough rise for about 30 to 40 min and punch down.

Divide the dough into 3 portions and roll each section out to about 1/2 inch thick (sort

of like a pizza). Prick the top with a fork and place on greased cookie sheet. Preheat

oven to 400 and let the dough rise 10 to 15 min. In a small bowl combine the

remaining ingredients. Divide the onion/poppy seed mixture between the three loafs

and spread it over the top. Bake 20 min. and cool slightly before serving. Makes 3

loafs.

NO FAIL HONEY FRENCH BREAD

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/3 cups water

1-1/2 tablespoon honey

3 cups bread flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon yeast

Combine all wet ingredients, then add dry ingredients on top. Use Normal bread cycle

SWEET MONKEY BREAD (dairy or pareve)

Monkey bread recipes call for a sweet yeast dough that you form by arranging small clumps of dough in 3 or 4 overlapping layers in a pan. The pan used to bake monkey bread recipes can be round, oblong or tube-shape. When baked, the lumps cling together to form a solid loaf. Monkey bread recipes can be sweet or savory.

 Bread Maker Recipe for Monkey Bread

1 1/8 cup milk or non dairy substitute
2 tbsp butter or pareve margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cup flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Additional:

6 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine, melted
1 cup finely chopped nuts

Remove dough from the machine when the dough cycle completes. Form into 1 inch balls, then roll them first in the melted butter and then in the chopped nuts. Placed balls in a greased tube pan or bunt pan. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

CHALLAH AND 12 ROLLS

This following was used by most people in 15th century Spain but Jewish women baked it cut into18 small rolls to last throughout the Sabbath or holiday and appear similar to their neighbors’ bread style. This recipe is adapted from A Drizzle of Honey cookbook to make one large round Rosh Hashanah Challah and about 10 to 12 small rolls.

2 pkg dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey + more for glazing the rolls
1 scant teaspoon salt
3 eggs + 1 egg for glazing the challah
5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional

Stir yeast into ¼ cup warm water and a pinch of sugar; set aside for 10 minutes to proof. In a large bowl, combine remaining ¾ cup warm water, the oil and 2 tbsp honey. Beat in the eggs one at time, salt and combine well. Sift three fourths of the flour into the liquid. Stir well, adding more flour to form a moist mass. Turn onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes. Add enough flour to make a smooth dough. Return dough to a clean oiled bowl; turn dough to coat with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease 2 baking sheets; preheat the oven to 400º F. Knead the air bubbles out of the dough. Pinch off an egg-sized piece of dough and roll it into a 5″ circle. Fold the circle in half then in quarters, do not press together. Place 6 rolls on each baking sheets and let them rise about 30 minutes until doubled. Warm the remaining 1 tbsp honey and brush the rolls. Bake about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack. Keep the oven on.

Pinch off a piece of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll it into a 12″ long rope. Knead and roll the remaining dough into one round challah and place it on a greased pan. Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush a 1″ wide strip down the center of the challah. Twist the rope and place it over the egg wash on top of the challah. Fasten with a few toothpicks, if necessary. Let rise about 45 minutes.

Brush the entire challah with the remaining egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake on a greased baking sheet 10 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and reduce oven to 350º F. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and hollow sounding. Cool on a rack. Rolls and Challah may be frozen.

TRADITIONAL CHALLA RECIPE

This recipe makes 3 loaves

7 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt

 1/2 cup sugar
2 pkg yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water

Beat eggs. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar and salt. Add boiling water. Stir till dissolved.

Sprinkle yeast into a cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Wait until frothy, then stir.

Add cold water to oil and sugar mixture. Ensure mixture is the right temperature (lukewarm), then add yeast. Add eggs, but hold back a bit to use later for glaze.

Add flour a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Turn  the dough onto floured board and knead until dough springs back after poking with a finger. Add more flour if necessary. Return the dough to bowl, cover, and rise in warm spot until doubled. Expect this to take about 1 hour. Return to floured board and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide dough into 3 equal rolls. Knead one roll for another minute. Form roll into three long strips for braiding. Pinch the ends at one end together and braid. Pinch bottom ends together when braid is completed. Place in greased loaf pan. Do the same for the two other rolls. Rise again in warm spot for about three quarters of an hour.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush tops with the bit of egg that you saved. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, watching carefully. Recipe challah should be brown on top but not burnt on the bottom. Remove from pans, and cool on racks

HOLIDAY BREAD MACHINE CHALLAH

3/4 cup warm water
2 eggs (large)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup oil
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3-2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoon yeast

1/3 cup raisins

Add ingredients to the bread maker in the order that the manufacturer recommends. Use the dough cycle.  Remove the dough from the machine. Knead in the raisins. Place the dough in a greased bowl to rise, cover and let rise until it doubles in size. Shape as desired. Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Makes 1 loaf.

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Deliciously Simple Steak (Beef) Salads

            Every now and then (at least 2 days a week) I want EASY for dinner. No I am not talking about the swing by the favorite kosher take out place or fresh from the freezer kind of easy. I’m talking about the how I can make it in less than 20 minutes and still feel like I’m serving something nutritious and delicious and not selling my culinary soul to expediency kind of easy. Since I always have salad stuff on hand I know that adding a protein like beef or chicken or fish to the mix is the best way to round out the “quickie” meal. While chicken is usually the meat of choice I have been using more and more beef.

            Beef? Did she say beef?  Hasn’t beef been a food non gratis for the past couple of years? Why would she say beef?

            Relax, I promise not to steer you wrong (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) Beef, in moderation, is actually very good for you. Beef today is much leaner than in the past due to advances in breeding, cattle feed and the way supermarkets prepare it. Yes, beef contains fat, including saturated fat, and cholesterol, but we all need some fat in our diets. What most people don’t know is that lean, and the key word here lean, beef has eight times more vitamin B12, six times more zinc and three times more iron than a skinless chicken breast. Chicken has its good points but it’s time to add just a little more variety to our meals.

            The following salads all combine fun combinations of beef, greens and or pasta as well as amazing dressing that will have your family asking you to do beef and easy more often.

NOTE; While I use the generic term steak in most recipes know that I am referring to any cut of beef that can be grilled or broiled and does not need to be extensively marinated to make it tender.

NOTE: You can always substitute bison steak for beef steak if you want an even leaner cut of meat.

 

TEX MEX TACO SALAD
This Tex-Mex version of a chef’s salad is really a meal all by itself.

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 cups tortilla chips
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced
1 cup dressing*

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup salsa

Make the dressing: In a bowl combine the mayonnaise and salsa. Mix to combine, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a skillet saute the beef and garlic together until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add the water and simmer uncovered over low heat until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, arrange the tortilla chips on a large serving platter or Individual plates and place the lettuce on top.  Add the beef mixture followed by the onion, tomato, avocado, black olives and jalapeno peppers. Serve the dressing on the side.  Serves 4 to 6.

ASIAN BEEF SALAD

1 lb. steak

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lime, juice

2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

4 teaspoon minced ginger, root

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

8 cup torn red leaf lettuce

2 cup snow peas

1 sweet red pepper, thinly, sliced

1/2 small English cucumber

1 cup beans, sprouts

1 tablespoon balsamic or rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoon olive oil

Place steak in large shallow dish. In a bowl combine the soy sauce, lime juice, hoisin sauce, ginger, sherry, garlic, chili paste and sesame oil. Whisk to combine and then pour the mixture over the meat, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but you can do this before work in the morning and it will be ready to go when you get home. When ready to prepare the salad place lettuce in large salad bowl. In saucepan of boiling water, cook snow peas for 2 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain and chill under cold running water; drain again and pat dry. Add the snow peas to salad bowl. Add the red pepper. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise; slice thinly crosswise and add to bowl. Add bean sprouts. Reserving the marinade, place the steak on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, 6 inches from heat, turning once, for about 10 minutes or until medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent it with foil; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, bring reserved marinade to boil; boil gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vinegar and sugar; gradually whisk in olive oil. Let dressing cool slightly. Slice meat diagonally across the grain into thin slices; add to the salad bowl. Pour the dressing over top; toss gently to coat lightly and serve. Serves 4

THAI BEEF SALAD

Just a hint of peanut flavor combined with the chilies makes this salad really special.
 

1 pound steak
scant oil for frying
bag of fancy salad greens
4 green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

For the dressing
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated root ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon oil
2 red or green chillies, sliced into rings and deseeded
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint leaves
 

English cucumber for garnish

Lime juice for garnish

Pepper for garnish

Heat a film of oil in a small frying pan and fry the fillet for 4–5 minutes each side until it is well browned on the outside and medium rare in the middle. Cook for slightly longer if you prefer it well done. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the salad greens in a salad bowl and set it aside. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. Slice the beef into thin strips and place them in a bowl, pour half of the dressing over the meat. Toss to coat and set aside. Pour the rest of the dressing over the salad greens and toss to coat. Arrange the salad on 4 individual plates. Lay the strips of beef on top of the greens and sprinkle the sliced green onions over the top. Serve with a cucumber ribbon salad made by slicing a cucumber lengthways with a potato peeler into long, wide strips.  Drizzle with a little extra lime juice, salt and black pepper. Serves 3 to 4

BEEF SALAD WITH POTATO CRISPS

1 medium potato

Nonstick spray coating

Garlic salt, onion salt, or salt

3 tablespoons apricot preserves; or orange marmalade

2 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 cups torn mixed greens

6 ounces sliced cooked beef cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (about 1 cup) (you can use deli meat)

2 medium carrots, cut into julienne strips (1 cup), or 1 cup jicama cut into julienne strips

2   green onions, sliced (1/4 cup), or 2 tablespoons chopped onion

 For potato crisps: Preheat oven to 450. Cut potato into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick coating. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet and lightly sprinkle them with garlic salt, onion salt or salt. Bake in a 450 for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from baking sheet. Cool 10 minutes. For the dressing: in a small mixing bowl stir together the apricot preserves or orange marmalade, oil, vinegar, water; and pepper. Mix to combine and let stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes.

 Divide mixed greens evenly among 2 individual plates. Arrange the slices of beef on the plates on top of the greens and then decorate with the potato crisps, carrot or jicama strips, and onion. Stir the dressing and drizzle it over the salads. Makes 2 servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

GINGER BEEF SALAD

Beef and slaw combination is really different and really crunchy

Dressing:

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

pepper, to taste

Salad:

8 ounces rare cooked steak or roast beef, thinly sliced

4 ounces cooked/drained vermicelli or spaghetti pasta, broken into 3″ pieces,

1 cup pea pods, halved

1 cup shredded cabbage, red

1/2 cup carrot slices, sliced very thin

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 can (8oz) water chestnuts, sliced, drained

In a bowl combine the oil, cider vinegar, sugar, grated ginger and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a salad bowl combine the Combine the steak pasta, pea pods, cabbage, carrots, green onions and water chestnuts. Pour the dressing over salad and toss lightly. Chill for at least an hour before serving.
Serves 4.

SHELL PASTA AND BEEF SALAD

1 pound Orzo, Small Shells or other small pasta shape, uncooked

2 cups roast beef from the deli, cubed

3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint (optional)

3 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

Salt to taste  

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, beef, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley, onion and mint. In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients; whisk well. Toss dressing with pasta mixture. Salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8

Orange You Glad 4 Orange Recipes

       This is not usually a season that we cruise the produce section of our favorite grocery and expect to find interesting fresh fruit and vegetables. We can find all the dried, canned and frozen stuff we want in other sections of the store.
      But, unless we want to pay a premium for stuff that’s been imported from Mexico, California or a third world country we’re stuck with apples and bananas and what ever doesn’t look like it’s been sitting around for a couple of months. It’s when I don’t think that I’ll ever see another piece of fruit that I’d like to bring home that the Clementine oranges and blood oranges come into season.
       There are three varieties of blood oranges, Moro, Tarroco, and Saguinelli and they are available from late December to early May. The name Blood orange comes from their deep pink or deep reddish color of the pulp. Blood oranges tend to be smaller than average oranges and their flavor has been likened to a combination of raspberry and strawberry crossed with an orange. Their rich red color makes for vivid dressings and sauces. I always buy extra and freeze the juice to use later.     
      Clementine oranges are much smaller than blood oranges are usually sold in a small crate. They are easily distinguished from other members of the mandarin orange family by their thin skin and lack of seeds. Clementine oranges are in peak season from November thru March
When choosing your Blood Oranges and Clementine oranges, look for thin-skinned fruit with smooth lightly textured skin. Avoid fruit with soft spots, dull and faded coloring or rough, grooved or wrinkled skin. Store them at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerate up to two weeks.
        Both these oranges are wonderful when eating all by themselves but they can both be used in any recipe that calls for oranges or citrus. They add a unique and piquant flavor to both savory and sweet dishes as well as make a colorful garnish, and add a decorative touch to a fruit bowl.

NOTE: One Blood Orange will make about 1/2 cup. To juice Blood Orange, first soften citrus by rolling on a firm surface, then slice in half and juice with orange juicer. 

RUBY ORANGE SALAD DRESSING

2 whole Blood Oranges
1/2 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 1/2 cup dressing

RED AND ORANGE THAI PEANUT SLAW

2 cups Napa Cabbage shredded
1 cup snow peas cut into 1 inch slivers
1 cup radishes, sliced thin
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or canned rinsed and drained
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced 1/4 inch
1 cup roasted peanuts salted (you can use honey roasted)

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Make the vinaigrette ahead of time and let it cool.

Slaw Vinaigrette:
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic; stir and keep on heat for 2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and pepper. Mix to combine and let cool.  The vinaigrette can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time and refrigerated.

 In a large salad bowl combine the cabbage, snow peas, daikon, bean sprouts carrots and red pepper. Mix to combine and add the Vinaigrette. Toss gently and add the peanuts just before serving peanuts and toss just before serving.  Serves 4 to 6.

SUPER HONEY CITRUS SALSA

4 Clementine oranges, peeled, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey

In a bowl combine the Clementines, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix and set aside. In a bowl combine the lime juice, oil and honey and whisk to combine.  Stir the chopped Clementine into the dressing and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes 4 servings, about 1/3 cup each. 

SPINACH SALAD WITH PINE NUTS AND BLOOD ORANGES 

2 to 3 Clementines, segmented or sectioned
3 to 4 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese shredded
3 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
4 cups packed (9 ounces) baby spinach

Lemon-Blood Orange Vinaigrette Dressing
1 peeled Blood Orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Arrange the Blood Orange segments, cheese and nuts over the baby spinach. Drizzle the dressing over salad or serve on the side. Makes 4 servings.  For the dressing, Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process to combine. Serves 4 to 6

CITRUS CIRCUS

2  navel oranges, peeled
2  blood oranges, peeled
2  Clementine, peeled
1  white grapefruit
1  pink grapefruit
1/2  cup  sugar
2  cups sweet white wine
Lime rind strips

Peel, section, and seed the oranges, Clementines, and grapefruits. Combine them in a bowl and set them aside.  Cut the rind of 1 of the oranges into thin strips. In a saucepan combine the orange rind strips, sugar, and wine and cook until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the liquid is l thickened. Twist the lime rind strips into 6 individual compote glasses or bowl and divide the fruit between the 6 bowls. Pour the warm syrup over fruit and serve. Serves 6.

BEEF AND ORANGE SALAD

5 medium blood oranges, peeled, segmented and cut into pieces
4 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
3 cups roast beef strips or 1/2 pound deli roast beef cut into pieces
1 cup thinly sliced half-rings of red onion
3 avocados sliced

Citrus Dressing
1 blood orange
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel
1 tablespoon chives
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut the orange into halves. Squeeze the juice; you should have about 1/3 cup. Combine the juice with the oil, lime juice, orange peel, chives, sugar and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously and set it aside.

Place the beef slices and orange pieces in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine then add the lettuce, bean sprouts and carrots and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Spoon the salad onto 6 plates. Garnish plate each with avocado slices. Serves 6

BLOOD ORANGE CHEESE CAKE

6 large blood oranges
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 pound cottage cheese, small curd
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 9″ pie dish or spring form pan with some of the butter or margarine (1 to 2 tablespoons. Melt remaining butter and mix it thoroughly with the graham cracker crumbs. Press mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of dish or pan. Peel 5 of the blood oranges. removing all peels and with the white pith. Separate into extract wedges and arrange them evenly in two layers on top of the crust. Squeeze the juice from the 6th blood orange into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in the sugar and then the cottage cheese until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter over the blood oranges and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven or until firm. Increase heat to high and brown top of cake for a few seconds. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. Serves 10 to 12 

       This is not usually a season that we cruise the produce section of our favorite grocery and expect to find interesting fresh fruit and vegetables. We can find all the dried, canned and frozen stuff we want in other sections of the store.
      But, unless we want to pay a premium for stuff that’s been imported from Mexico, California or a third world country we’re stuck with apples and bananas and what ever doesn’t look like it’s been sitting around for a couple of months. It’s when I don’t think that I’ll ever see another piece of fruit that I’d like to bring home that the Clementine oranges and blood oranges come into season.
       There are three varieties of blood oranges, Moro, Tarroco, and Saguinelli and they are available from late December to early May. The name Blood orange comes from their deep pink or deep reddish color of the pulp. Blood oranges tend to be smaller than average oranges and their flavor has been likened to a combination of raspberry and strawberry crossed with an orange. Their rich red color makes for vivid dressings and sauces. I always buy extra and freeze the juice to use later.     
      Clementine oranges are much smaller than blood oranges are usually sold in a small crate. They are easily distinguished from other members of the mandarin orange family by their thin skin and lack of seeds. Clementine oranges are in peak season from November thru March
When choosing your Blood Oranges and Clementine oranges, look for thin-skinned fruit with smooth lightly textured skin. Avoid fruit with soft spots, dull and faded coloring or rough, grooved or wrinkled skin. Store them at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerate up to two weeks.
        Both these oranges are wonderful when eating all by themselves but they can both be used in any recipe that calls for oranges or citrus. They add a unique and piquant flavor to both savory and sweet dishes as well as make a colorful garnish, and add a decorative touch to a fruit bowl.

NOTE: One Blood Orange will make about 1/2 cup. To juice Blood Orange, first soften citrus by rolling on a firm surface, then slice in half and juice with orange juicer.

BLOOD ORANGE SALAD DRESSING

2 whole Blood Oranges
1/2 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 1/2 cup dressing

BLOOD ORANGE PEANUT SLAW

2 cups Napa Cabbage shredded
1 cup snow peas cut into 1 inch slivers
1 cup radishes, sliced thin
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or canned rinsed and drained
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced 1/4 inch
1 cup roasted peanuts salted (you can use honey roasted)

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Make the vinaigrette ahead of time and let it cool.

Slaw Vinaigrette:
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic; stir and keep on heat for 2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and pepper. Mix to combine and let cool.  The vinaigrette can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time and refrigerated.

 

 In a large salad bowl combine the cabbage, snow peas, daikon, bean sprouts carrots and red pepper. Mix to combine and add the Vinaigrette. Toss gently and add the peanuts just before serving peanuts and toss just before serving.  Serves 4 to 6.

CITRUS SALSA

4 Clementine oranges, peeled, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey

In a bowl combine the Clementines, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix and set aside. In a bowl combine the lime juice, oil and honey and whisk to combine.  Stir the chopped Clementine into the dressing and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes 4 servings, about 1/3 cup each.

BLOOD ORANGE SPINACH SALAD WITH PINE NUTS

2 to 3 Clementines, segmented or sectioned
3 to 4 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese shredded
3 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
4 cups packed (9 ounces) baby spinach

Lemon-Blood Orange Vinaigrette Dressing
1 peeled Blood Orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Arrange the Blood Orange segments, cheese and nuts over the baby spinach. Drizzle the dressing over salad or serve on the side. Makes 4 servings.  For the dressing, Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process to combine. Serves 4 to 6

CITRUS COMPOTE

2  navel oranges, peeled
2  blood oranges, peeled
2  Clementine, peeled
1  white grapefruit
1  pink grapefruit
1/2  cup  sugar
2  cups sweet white wine
Lime rind strips

Peel, section, and seed the oranges, Clementines, and grapefruits. Combine them in a bowl and set them aside.  Cut the rind of 1 of the oranges into thin strips. In a saucepan combine the orange rind strips, sugar, and wine and cook until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the liquid is l thickened. Twist the lime rind strips into 6 individual compote glasses or bowl and divide the fruit between the 6 bowls. Pour the warm syrup over fruit and serve. Serves 6.

ROAST BEEF AND BLOOD ORANGE SALAD

5 medium blood oranges, peeled, segmented and cut into pieces
4 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
3 cups roast beef strips or 1/2 pound deli roast beef cut into pieces
1 cup thinly sliced half-rings of red onion
3 avocados sliced

 

Citrus Dressing
1 blood orange
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel
1 tablespoon chives
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut the orange into halves. Squeeze the juice; you should have about 1/3 cup. Combine the juice with the oil, lime juice, orange peel, chives, sugar and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously and set it aside.

Place the beef slices and orange pieces in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine then add the lettuce, bean sprouts and carrots and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Spoon the salad onto 6 plates. Garnish plate each with avocado slices. Serves 6

BLOOD ORANGE CHEESE CAKE

6 large blood oranges
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 pound cottage cheese, small curd
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 9″ pie dish or spring form pan with some of the butter or margarine (1 to 2 tablespoons. Melt remaining butter and mix it thoroughly with the graham cracker crumbs. Press mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of dish or pan. Peel 5 of the blood oranges. removing all peels and with the white pith. Separate into extract wedges and arrange them evenly in two layers on top of the crust. Squeeze the juice from the 6th blood orange into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in the sugar and then the cottage cheese until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter over the blood oranges and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven or until firm. Increase heat to high and brown top of cake for a few seconds. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. Serves 10 to 12

Baking Banana Bread

Everyday or so I get an urgent call or e mail from a family member or friend who needs a recipe, or cooking help or a quick menu suggestion RIGHT NOW! Yesterday it was a favorite cousin beseeching me for our grandmother’s banana bread/cake recipe. So naturally I said, “which banana bread/cake recipe of grandma’s do you want? The one with the chocolate chips, the one with the raisins or the one with sour cream?”

            After a second or two of silence she said “grandma had more than one banana cake recipe?”

            It was at that moment that I realized I actually had about 2 dozen different variations of the classic banana bread/cake recipe (only 3 from my grandmother) and that each and every one of them was really great. I love it when a column idea is this easy.

Before we get to those great recipes I thought you might like to know that bananas don’t grow on trees. They are part of the lily family, a cousin, if you will, to the orchid and they grow on stalks that can grow up to 25 feet high. They are, in fact, the largest plant on earth without a woody stem.  The banana is thought to have originated in Malaysia and spread throughout Asia, India and Africa long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Bananas came to the New World in 1516 when a Spanish missionary brought over the first root stocks.

A banana has less water, four times the protein, and half the fat, twice the carbohydrate, almost three times the phosphorus, nearly five times the Vitamin A and iron as an apple. They are also rich in potassium and vitamins B and C.

The good news is that there is an International Banana Association.  Yes, this does sound strange but they are located at 1101 Vermont Ave., N.W., Suite 306, Washington, D.C. 20005 and you can write and ask them for a free brochure (which includes free recipes) all about bananas. Just send them a stamped, self addressed business-size envelope with your request and have a banana-rama good time.

NOTE: Very ripe bananas give the best flavor in the following recipes.

LOW-FAT BANANA BREAD
Buttermilk replaces nearly all of the oil.

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup smashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. Using an electric mixer; beat together the eggs and sugar in large bowl until thick and light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the smashed bananas, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over mixture; beat until just blended. Pour the batter to the prepared pan.  Bake until the bread is golden brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn bread out onto rack and cool. 1 loaf

SOUR CREAM BANANA CAKE

The rich full flavor of the banana is enhanced by the density of this cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sour cream
 
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease (1) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. Using an electric mixer; cream the butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and eggs. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add the bananas, sour cream and nuts. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour. Makes 1 loaf.

PINEAPPLE BANANA BREAD
 
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans – chopped
3 eggs – beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups mashed bananas – (about 5)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can crushed pineapple – (8 oz) drained
 
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease (2) 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch pan; dust the pan with flour. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and then stir in pecans. Set aside the flour mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, banana, vanilla and pineapple. Mix well to combine. Pour the wet mixture into dry mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon batter into 2 prepared loaf pans.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from pans to finish cooling. Do not try to cut the bread until it is totally cooled.  Makes 2 loaves. NOTE: You can use macadamia nuts or walnuts instead of pecans if you like.

BANANA SPICE CAKE

2 3/4 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 2/3 cup mashed bananas
2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour 2 8 inch round cake pans. Sift the flour, baking powder, and soda, salt and spices together. In a mixing bowl cream the shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Alternately add the sifted dry ingredients and bananas to the egg/sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then pour into prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes. Makes 2 (8 inch) layers. This cake is great with a sour cream or cream cheese frosting.

TOFFEE BANANA BREAD

3/4 cup margarine (you can use butter for a richer taste)
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 to 5 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup toffee bits (such as crumbled Heath Bars)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour 2 loaf pans.  In a mixing bowl cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until creamy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. blend the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Fold in the mashed bananas and the toffee bits. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans. Bake for 1 hour.
Makes 2 loaves.

BANANA POUND CAKE

1 package (18 1/2 ounces) yellow cake
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium)
1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in large mixer bowl. Mix until blended then beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Turn batter into greased and lightly floured 10 inch bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until done. If desired, dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.  Serves 12.

BANANA SPLIT CAKE

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 can rushed pineapple, drained
1 jar strawberry jam
4 or 5 bananas, sliced
3 cups whipped topping or sweetened whipped cream
1/2 to 1 cup Maraschino Cherries, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup chopped Pecans

In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and pecans. Pat the mixture in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Let chill 30 minutes. In a mixing bowl cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Spread the mixture over the cold crust. Layer the pineapple, jam and bananas over cream cheese layer. Top the fruit layers with the whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with cherries and pecans on top. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Awesome Artichokes for Spring

    Every spring as I start to approach that dreaded day, (no, not April 15 or the last day of spring break for my kids) where I have to make the decision as to whither or not to actually purchase that new swim suit I’ve been trying to avoid for the past 3 years (deciding to actually put it on and then go outside in it is another nervous breakdown).
    I know, that unlike my sister Lois, who’s mottos are “I never met a swim suit I liked (or who liked me)” and “Control Top forever” that I’ll inevitably get into that “Oh yeah, it’s spring, I’d better start eating right, Diet” mind set.
    This isn’t actually that much of a hardship as it might appear to be. Right now, artichokes can be mine at bargain prices (rain, floods and other natural disasters in California not with standing). Every produce section I’ve visited in the last few weeks has been full to overflowing and now is the time to grab these first offerings of spring and go for the gusto.
     When choosing an artichoke it should look compact, (not necessarily small) plump, have the leaves tightly packed and have an even green color overall. Rinse the artichoke. Cut off the tip of each large leaf. Then cut off the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Cut off the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem. Boil or steam the artichokes in a covered pot. Cook 30 to 40 minutes at a rolling boil or until the outer leaves pull away easily. Remove from heat and serve either hot or cold with butter or other sauces for dipping. To eat. Pull off the leaves, dip the meaty bottom part of the leaf in the dipping sauce and bite off. You can remove all the leaves and just eat the bottom or heart of the artichoke. You must however remove the top part of the  heart (small bitter leaves and filaments in the center) before you can eat the bottom portion.

            Fresh artichoke taste wonderful, however if you need to use a large amount for a recipe the canned or frozen variety work almost as well.

ORANGE AND ARTICHOKE SALAD

6  cooked artichoke hearts
1/2 tablespoon margarine
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 oranges, peeled, and segmented
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
salad greens
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Salad greens

In a skillet saute the garlic in the margarine and place in a small bowl. Cut the hearts into quarters and set aside. Add the oil, orange juice, grated orange rind and the lemon juice to the garlic. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the orange segments and the artichoke hearts in a large bowl and drizzle the sauce over. Let set for at least 1 hour. To serve: arrange the artichoke and oranges on the salad greens and sprinkle with the parsley. Serves 4. This can be doubled.

TICKLE MY TASTEBUDS ARTICHOKES

10 artichoke hearts, uncooked and halved
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Soak the artichoke hearts in the lemon juice, salt and water for approx 1 hour. Pour them and the liquid in which they were steeped in a pot with the oil, garlic, and sugar. Simmer gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a serving dish. Thicken the sauce with cornstarch and pour over the hearts. Cool sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley and serve cold as a side dish. Serves 4 this can be doubled.    

ARTICHOKES WITH TWO DIPS
4 Large California Artichokes

   Wash artichokes under cold running water. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and two to three inches boiling water. (Lemon juice, herbs, garlic powder or onion powder may be added, if desired.) Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Cool completely; cover and refrigerate to chill. Makes 4 artichokes.

CREAMY THAI DIP

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

In a bowl combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Makes 3/4 cup.

HONEY MUSTARD DIP

1/4  cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Makes about 3/4 cup.

CRABBY DIP

1 cup shredded mock crab

2 tablespoons water juice

8 oz cream cheese softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4  teaspoon garlic salt

Blend cream cheese and milk until smooth, add the lemon juice and garlic salt. Stir in mock crab. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about  1 1/2 cup.

CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP

1 lb frozen artichoke hearts
2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced onions
3 lbs. artichokes (3 to 4 medium, trimmed of thorns)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme

croutons

Defrost the hearts and puree them in food processor with 1/2 cup of the stock, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. In a sauce pan heat the remaining broth the  half-and-half, and thyme. Add the artichoke mixture and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes. Serve croutons Serves 8.

COUSCOUS-STUFFED ARTICHOKES
4    large California artichokes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1    teaspoon curry powder
3/4   teaspoon ground cumin
1/2   teaspoon garlic salt
1    cup instant couscous
1/4   cup currants
1/2  cup sliced green onion
1/2   cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped
1/2   teaspoon lemon zest
2    tablespoons lemon juice
2    tablespoons vegetable oil

 Wash artichokes. Cut off stems at base and remove small bottom leaves. Stand artichokes upright in deep saucepan large enough to hold snugly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 to 3 inches boiling water. Cover and boil gently 35 to 45 minutes, or until base can be pierced easily with fork. (Add a little more boiling water, if needed.) Turn artichokes upside down to drain. Carefully remove center petals and fuzzy centers with a spoon and discard. Keep warm or chill as desired.

   In medium saucepan combine chicken broth, curry powder, cumin and garlic salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; stir in couscous and currants. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork. Stir in green onion and almonds. Combine lemon peel, lemon juice and vegetable oil; stir into couscous.

  Gently spread artichoke leaves until center cone of leaves is revealed. Pull out center cone. With a spoon, scrape out any purple-tipped leaves and fuzz. Fill centers of artichokes with couscous mixture. Makes 4 generous servings.

COOK’S TIP: Fresh cooked and chilled artichokes are easy to keep on hand for quick meals. Refrigerated in a covered container, they will keep up to a week.

Recipe Courtesy of California Artichoke Advisory Board

© Eileen Goltz artichoke

Cooking With Beer for St. Patrick’s Day

 

Check out my article in the Journal Gazette on St. Patty’s Day!

http://journalgazette.com/article/20110313/FEAT0103/303139980/1132/FEAT0103

Baking Bread is Easy

 

        One of the most basic and satisfying of foods to come out of a Jewish kitchen

is bread. Challah, of course is number on the hit parade. It’s significance in our life

and life cycle events is undeniable. Recipes tend to be handed down from generation

to generation and while they may vary slightly they all are pretty much the same. Challah, that wonderful bread that’s usually eaten on the Shabbos, assumes an entirely new personality when we prepare it for the holidays. Instead of the traditional braided loaf, the Rosh Hashanah challah is round – symbolizing the cycle of the New Year. There is also a tradition to design a challah ladder or challah birds are added to the holiday challah by some families to commemorate the prayers rising to Heaven.

      There are, however a multitude of other breads that have woven there way into

our collective Yiddish hearts (and mouths) and landed on our hips due to our

ancestors proclivity for wandering from country to country picking up recipes from

where ever they managed to find a home. We may not have had a lot of permanent

residences but, by gosh, we had great bread.

     Nowadays, we all tend to settle for the prepackaged, bland and boring stuff that

passes for bread. Yes, there are bakeries that can produce wonderful flavorful loaves

but let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like the smell, taste and satisfaction that comes

from homemade bread.

     Making bread is far easier than most people think. You need to follow a few

simple guidelines and you shouldn’t have any problems.

     First, yeast is not the enemy. It’s just a plant and it’s really not too difficult to

use once you realize that the temperature of the water used to activate the yeast

should be between 105 to 115 degrees. Any cooler or hotter and you run the risk of

not having it activate.

     Letting the dough rise twice is also a must. The dough needs the chance to

form gluten (the structure of the bread) and letting it rise twice lets that happen.

     The following recipes are simple straightforward examples of classic breads.

Once you try them you’ll never go back to the too the stuff from the store.  

 

RYE BREAD

2 tablespoons yeast

2 1/2 cups

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons shortening, melted and cooled slightly

2 1/2 cups rye flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

6 cups flour

In a bowl combine the water, honey and yeast. When the yeast bubbles add the salt

and shortening. Mix well. Add the rye flour and caraway seeds. Add enough white

flour to form a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes and add more flour if the dough

is too soft and sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until the

dough is double in size. Punch the dough down and place the dough on a floured

surface. Knead 3 or 4 times and shape into 2 free form loafs and let rise until double

in size. Preheat oven to 400. Take a sharp knife and make several criss cross cuts

across the top of the loafs. Bake for 35 minutes. You can glaze with water just before

and after baking if you like. Makes 2 loafs.

BLACK BREAD

3/8 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup cold water

3/4 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon

1 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon instant coffee

2 packages yeast

1/4 cup warm water

2 cups dark rye flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 cups flour

1 egg white beaten with 2 tablespoons water

In a bowl combine the cornmeal and the cold water and mix well. In a saucepan boil

the water. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the boiling water and mix until the mixture

thickens and bubbles. Stir in the butter, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, cocoa and instant

coffee. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In another bowl dissolve the yeast in the

1/4 cup water and add to the other mixture and stir. Place the liquid mixture into a

large bowl or mixing bowl and gradually mix in the flours. Add a little more water if

necessary. The dough should, however, be slightly sticky. Place the dough on a

floured surface and knead with additional flour if necessary until the dough is firm and

elastic. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until double in size.

Punch down and form two round loafs or place the dough in two greased loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 375. Let rise until double in size and brush the top of the bread with

the beaten egg whites and water mixture. Bake 375 for 50 to 60 minutes. Error on the

side of over baking if you have doubts about whether or not the bread is done. Makes

2 loafs  

PUMPERNICKEL BREAD

2 tablespoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/4 cup molasses

1 cup potatoes, mashed

1 tablespoon shortening

2 cups boiling water

1 1/4 tablespoon caramel coloring

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

4 cups rye flour

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

5 cups flour

In a small bowl combine the yeast with the sugar and warm water. Set aside. In a

large bowl combine the salt, molasses, mashed potatoes, and shortening. Pour the

boiling water over these ingredients and mix well. Cool. When the potato mixture is

lukewarm add the yeast mixture to it and mix.  Stir in the coloring to the desired color.

Combine the cornmeal with the rye flour, caraway seeds and all but 1 cup of the white

flour. Stir in the liquid to the flour mixture and mix ell until it comes away from the side

of the bowl. Turn the dough out on to a floured board and knead with enough flour to

form a soft dough. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Knead again and add a little

more flour if necessary and place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until

the dough is double in size. Punch the dough down place the dough on a floured

surface. Knead a few times and shape into two round loafs. Brush the top of the loafs

with water, place the loafs on greased baking sheet and let rise until the loafs double

in size. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Remove the loafs from the oven and cool on

racks. Makes 2 loafs

ONION BREAD

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup luke warm water

2 packages yeast

4 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2/3 cup oil

1 3/4 cup warm water

8 cup flour (approx.)

2 grated onions

1 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

In a small bowl dissolve sugar in the 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle the yeast on top (let set

10 min.)  Mix in the eggs, sugar, 1 T. salt, oil, water and 1/2 the flour. Mix well and

add the rest of the flour. Let the dough rise for about 30 to 40 min and punch down.

Divide the dough into 3 portions and roll each section out to about 1/2 inch thick (sort

of like a pizza). Prick the top with a fork and place on greased cookie sheet. Preheat

oven to 400 and let the dough rise 10 to 15 min. In a small bowl combine the

remaining ingredients. Divide the onion/poppy seed mixture between the three loafs

and spread it over the top. Bake 20 min. and cool slightly before serving. Makes 3

loafs.

NO FAIL HONEY FRENCH BREAD

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/3 cups water

1-1/2 tablespoon honey

3 cups bread flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon yeast

Combine all wet ingredients, then add dry ingredients on top. Use Normal bread cycle

SWEET MONKEY BREAD (dairy or pareve)

Monkey bread recipes call for a sweet yeast dough that you form by arranging small clumps of dough in 3 or 4 overlapping layers in a pan. The pan used to bake monkey bread recipes can be round, oblong or tube-shape. When baked, the lumps cling together to form a solid loaf. Monkey bread recipes can be sweet or savory.

 Bread Maker Recipe for Monkey Bread

1 1/8 cup milk or non dairy substitute
2 tbsp butter or pareve margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cup flour
2 teaspoons yeast

Additional:

6 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine, melted
1 cup finely chopped nuts

Remove dough from the machine when the dough cycle completes. Form into 1 inch balls, then roll them first in the melted butter and then in the chopped nuts. Placed balls in a greased tube pan or bunt pan. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

CHALLAH AND 12 ROLLS

This following was used by most people in 15th century Spain but Jewish women baked it cut into18 small rolls to last throughout the Sabbath or holiday and appear similar to their neighbors’ bread style. This recipe is adapted from A Drizzle of Honey cookbook to make one large round Rosh Hashanah Challah and about 10 to 12 small rolls.

2 pkg dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey + more for glazing the rolls
1 scant teaspoon salt
3 eggs + 1 egg for glazing the challah
5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional

Stir yeast into ¼ cup warm water and a pinch of sugar; set aside for 10 minutes to proof. In a large bowl, combine remaining ¾ cup warm water, the oil and 2 tbsp honey. Beat in the eggs one at time, salt and combine well. Sift three fourths of the flour into the liquid. Stir well, adding more flour to form a moist mass. Turn onto a floured surface and knead 5 minutes. Add enough flour to make a smooth dough. Return dough to a clean oiled bowl; turn dough to coat with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease 2 baking sheets; preheat the oven to 400º F. Knead the air bubbles out of the dough. Pinch off an egg-sized piece of dough and roll it into a 5″ circle. Fold the circle in half then in quarters, do not press together. Place 6 rolls on each baking sheets and let them rise about 30 minutes until doubled. Warm the remaining 1 tbsp honey and brush the rolls. Bake about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack. Keep the oven on.

Pinch off a piece of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll it into a 12″ long rope. Knead and roll the remaining dough into one round challah and place it on a greased pan. Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and brush a 1″ wide strip down the center of the challah. Twist the rope and place it over the egg wash on top of the challah. Fasten with a few toothpicks, if necessary. Let rise about 45 minutes.

Brush the entire challah with the remaining egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake on a greased baking sheet 10 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and reduce oven to 350º F. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and hollow sounding. Cool on a rack. Rolls and Challah may be frozen.

TRADITIONAL CHALLA RECIPE

This recipe makes 3 loaves

7 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt

 1/2 cup sugar
2 pkg yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water

Beat eggs. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar and salt. Add boiling water. Stir till dissolved.

Sprinkle yeast into a cup with 1/3 cup warm water. Wait until frothy, then stir.

Add cold water to oil and sugar mixture. Ensure mixture is the right temperature (lukewarm), then add yeast. Add eggs, but hold back a bit to use later for glaze.

Add flour a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Turn  the dough onto floured board and knead until dough springs back after poking with a finger. Add more flour if necessary. Return the dough to bowl, cover, and rise in warm spot until doubled. Expect this to take about 1 hour. Return to floured board and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide dough into 3 equal rolls. Knead one roll for another minute. Form roll into three long strips for braiding. Pinch the ends at one end together and braid. Pinch bottom ends together when braid is completed. Place in greased loaf pan. Do the same for the two other rolls. Rise again in warm spot for about three quarters of an hour.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush tops with the bit of egg that you saved. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, watching carefully. Recipe challah should be brown on top but not burnt on the bottom. Remove from pans, and cool on racks

HOLIDAY BREAD MACHINE CHALLAH

3/4 cup warm water
2 eggs (large)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup oil
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3-2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoon yeast

1/3 cup raisins

Add ingredients to the bread maker in the order that the manufacturer recommends. Use the dough cycle.  Remove the dough from the machine. Knead in the raisins. Place the dough in a greased bowl to rise, cover and let rise until it doubles in size. Shape as desired. Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Makes 1 loaf.

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