Cupcakes for Chanukah! Recipes and more

Sorry for the lag in posting, lots of travel and family commitments but now, shes back…………………..

cup3 There are times in your life (like after eating a dozen latkes) when you just gotta have that certain something sweet BUT you really don’t want the guilt associated with gobbling up 5 bags of candy coins or a calorie laden mega doughnut topped with chocolate and filled with custard (granted, there aren’t too many times when I DON’T want that kind of doughnut). For me that’s when I reach for a cupcake. Just enough cake and frosting to satisfy but not so much as that I feel like I’ve over indulged and the “oh I blew my holiday diet AGAIN” remorse isn’t omnipresent.

The origin of the cupcake isn’t all that clear. Some historians say it’s because the original recipe contained 1 cup measurements (I cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar etc.) Another source I checked with said that long ago that cake batter was cooked in tea cups, hence the name, cup-cake. Either way it came about I’m just glad the recipes evolved into the sweet treats we love today.

Deciding what type of cupcakes to make and what to top them with can be truly a personal and existential experience. You can fill them, frost them, and dust them with powdered sugar or cocoa. Sprinkles are always nice and so is a couple of pieces of candy or chocolate stuck into the top of the batter just before baking. The possibilities are endless and the results are always irresistible.

With cupcakes you can indulge in your love of lemon, banana, chocolate or vanilla or both at the same time and not have to commit to eating a whole cake. One of the beauties of making cupcakes is that most cake recipes can be converted into cupcakes. There are, however, some exceptions, like angel and sponge cakes, they don’t have quite enough structure to pull off the smaller size, but those to obvious exceptions aside, I say go for whatever recipe you want and see how creative you can get. I prefer to use cupcake liners in my pans as I find it easier to take them out after they’ve been cooked and they help keep all those pesky crumbs from falling all over your lap or shirt.

 

Just a few cup cake rules before you get started.

 

1. Always grease or line you baking pan, easier to remove the cupcake

2. Never over fill the pan, it will make an overly large cupcake top

4. Once the pan or pans are full, put them in the preheated oven immediately. The longer they sit out, the less they will rise.

5. Cupcakes should be baked in at least a 350 so that the structure sets quickly and the cake doesn’t dry while it’s baking

3. Make sure you test the cupcake with a toothpick before you remove it from the oven to make sure it cooked throughout.

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Depending on how you decorate the following recipe they can be served as a snack or at a formal dinner and are equally at home at a 5 year olds birthday party or a wedding reception. I make the peanut butter ones every Chanukah and decorate them with chocolate candy coins.  Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER CUP CUPCAKES (dairy)

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
16 miniature peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350. Place paper cup cake liners in the muffin pan and set it aside. In a mixing bowl of an electric mixer combine the margarine or butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Mix to combine and then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture to the egg mixture with the milk. Do not over mix or you’ll get air bubbles in the cup cake. Fill each muffin cups about 1/2 full of batter. Place a peanut butter cup into the center of each and push it down so it almost touches the bottom but so there is still some batter underneath the peanut butter cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean (be careful not to test where the candy is, you won’t get a true test of if the cupcake is done). Makes approx 14 to 16

 

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BANANA SPLIT CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 mashed ripe bananas

1 cup warm water

1/2 cup milk or non dairy substitute

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese or pareve cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoon soft butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Optional Toppings;

hot fudge sauce,

maraschino cherries

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine. In another large bowl combine the eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar until blended.  Frost and top with fudge sauce and a maraschino cherry

 

Modified from the Joy of Baking

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ZUCCHINI AND PISTACHIO CUPCAKES (pareve)

This recipe uses self rising flour if you don’t have it for each cup of self rising flour use 1 cup of all-purpose flour and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

2 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

4 zucchinis, grated

1 cup shelled pistachio nuts, chopped

2 teaspoon lime zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup dried cranberries

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease or line 2 12 muffin tin pans. In a bowl combine the egg, oil, and sugar and whisk until combined.  Add the zucchini, lime zest and nuts and stir together until well mixed.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, into the zucchini mixture and gently fold it in. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake and for 18 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then dust the top with powdered sugar. Makes 24.

 

Modified from about.com

 

GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE CREAM CHEESE CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 oz cream cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

generous 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cream cheese, vanilla, milk and eggs and beat to combine.   Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and beat until just combined.  Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

 

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt the chocolate in the microwave but don’t over heat it, it should just be soft. Cool for about minutes. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and then pour the chocolate over the top. Add the vanilla and mix until the cheese and chocolate is combine. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Frost and serve. Makes 12

 

Submitted by Roger Mancref and Cheryl Rodrego Naples FL

 

CANDIED CUPCAKES (dairy)

 

Topping

6 chocolate candy bars, chopped into pieces (your choice)

1, 12 oz bag of any kind of M&M’s you like

Crush, cut and mash into tiny pieces

Mix together in a bowl, set aside

 

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup cream

 

Cupcakes

12 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

 

Make the frosting first. In a microwave bowl melt the chocolate and cream together. Stir until smooth and then add the peanut butter and mix until combined. Cool in the refrigerator and when it is cool beat the frosting until it is spreadable.

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 24 cupcakes molds. In a bowl combine the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, chocolate chips and mix to combine. Spoon the batter into the prepare tins filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting and then decorate with the chopped candy. Makes 24.

 

LUSCIOUS LEMON CUPCAKES (dairy or pareve)

 

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute

 

FROSTING:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon milk or pareve substitute

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or paper line 30 muffin tins. Set them aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar. Mix to combine and then with the mixer running add the eggs. With the mixer still running add lemon zest and vanilla. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer running slowly add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. This will be a thick batter.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix until combined.  Add the lemon juice, vanilla, lemon zest and milk; beat until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Makes 30.

 

 

 

French Fries and Other Good Stuff

According to Gourmet (a magazine that is sadly ceasing publication) the key to making the perfect French fries is to double fry them. They suggest that you flash fry them first to eliminate moisture, then fry them again for crispness. While the recipe for the fries was pretty good I decided that a few other recipes that incorporate other vegetables and can be “oven” fried might just be the perfect food gift for my readers. Some of the recipes call for regular corn oil, others olive or peanut. They all have their own distinctive flavor and you can really use them interchangeably. Don’t season fried anything before serving as the salt tends

Happy Chanukah (and Merry Christmas) to all and good eating

FRENCH FRIES A LA GOURMET MAGAZINE

 

About 8 cups vegetable oil
2 pounds medium baking (russet) potatoes, peeled

a deep-fat thermometer; an adjustable-blade slicer fitted with French fry or large (1/4-inch) julienne blade
Heat 1 1/2 inches oil to 325 in a 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat. While oil is heating, cut potatoes with slicer into 1/4-inch sticks. Fry potatoes in 5 batches for 1 1/2 minutes per batch (potatoes will not be golden) and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 325°F between batches.) Heat oil to 350. Refry potatoes in 5 batches until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per batch, and transfer to clean paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350 between batches.) Season fries with salt.

 

From Gourmet May 2009

 

SEASONED OVEN FRIES

 

4 large potatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Cheddar cheese (optional)

Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Cut potatoes into wedges and place them on a greased cookie sheet with sides. In a bowl combine the oil, paprika, garlic salt, chili powder, onion powder and cumin. Brush the wedges with the oil and spice mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes depending on how crispy you want the fries. You can sprinkle the cheese over the top of the fries in the last 4 to 5 minutes of cooking. Salt to taste. Serves 4.

 

ROSEMARY PARMESAN SWEET POTATO FRIES
3 large sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1 to 2 tablespoons bread crumbs

3 tablespoon oil

 

Preheat oven to 450. Cut sweet potatoes, with skins on, into long thin sticks.

In a bowl, combine the oil salt, pepper, rosemary, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add the sweet potato sticks and toss to coat. Place cooling rack on top of cookie sheet, spread potatoes in a single layer on top of cooling rack.

Cook at 450 degrees for 40 minutes or until desired crispiness.

 

FRIED ZUCCHINI

 

3 large zucchini, washed, trimmed, cut lengthwise into strips

olive oil

1 tablespoon of salt

 

For batter:

1 1/2 cup soda water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup flour

 

Put the zucchini pieces in a bowl, salt them lightly and then let them sit for 20 minutes. Pour off the liquid, pat dry and set them aside.

 

In a bowl combine the soda, flour and salt. Whisk together.

 

Heat the oil. Dip the zucchini strips in the batter and then fry them in the oil for 4 to 5 minutes. The batter will puff up while it’s frying. The strips will be done when they are lightly golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately. This doesn’t reheat well. Serves 4 to 5 as a snack.

 

BATTER FRIED MUSHROOMS
2 to 3 cups oil for frying
1 lb. whole white button mushrooms, cleaned and dried
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz. seltzer
1 cup cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or in a deep sauce pan. In a bowl combine the eggs and water and whisk to combine. Whisk in the corn starch and salt and pepper a little bit at a time to prevent lumps. Dip the mushrooms in the batter and fry 1/3 of them at a time making sure that they don’t clump together. Fry them for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with a little salt. Serve with immediately. Serves 4 to 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

GARLIC ONION RINGS
2 cups flour

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

12 ounce beer, flat and at room temperature

1/4 cup oil, plus oil for frying

2 egg whites

4 LARGE flat sweet onions, cut in to 1/2 inch rings, separated

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, breadcrumbs and salt.  In another bowl combine the beer and the oil. Pour the beer mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a whisk until just combined, do not over mix and let set for at least an hour. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep fryer or large pot . While the oil is heating, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold them into the batter being careful to not over mix. Dip the rings into the batter, then drop into the hot oil, making sure to not crowd them. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve. Don’t salt before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Modified from The New Southern Cook

 

Vanilla Vanilla and More Vanilla

                There are certain times when you need to be a food snob. I am not talking about the my refrigerator is bigger than your refrigerator or I can identify that odd looking imported fruit faster than you can kind of snob. Rather, I’m talking about knowing when to say, “I’ll pay a premium for the best of the best of a certain ingredient” and then actually put your money where your mouth is. I am, of course, referring to purchasing vanilla extract and vanilla beans instead of the imitation stuff.

Ever wonder why true vanilla extract is so expensive? Well, it takes quite a bit of work to create the dried bean and that wonderful liquid concoction called extract. Vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant, which grows in the form of a bean pod. The orchid flowers are laboriously hand-pollinated during a short one-month flowering period. The fruit is not permitted to fully-ripen. Hand-harvesting occurs four to six months after the fruit appears on the vines. Once harvested, the green beans go through a treatment process lasting another six months where they slowly ferment and produce their unique aroma and flavor. The dark brown vanilla bean is usually 7-9 inches long and yields about 1/2 teaspoon of seeds. Vanilla extract is made by percolating or macerating chopped vanilla beans with ethyl alcohol and water.

Vanilla beans should be kept in a tightly-closed container in a refrigerated area where they should last up to six months. Pure vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf-life, and actually improves with age. Beware the pretender; Vanillin (notice the slight difference in spelling).Vanillin is a “fake” flavor mixture of pure vanilla extract and synthetic substances. The two most common sources for synthetic vanillin are a by-product of the paper industry, which has been chemically and a coal-tar derivative (yeech).

The following recipes all incorporate vanilla extract or vanilla beans to create wonderful moments of vanilla bliss. Make sure you don’t give in to the temptation to add just a little more of the extract to any of the recipes. The vanilla should enhance, not overwhelm the recipe.

CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA BREAKFAST ROLLS

 I try to keep a few imported chocolate bars such on the pantry shelf for  these rolls. If especially like to use fruit filled or nut filled bars.

1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast or 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1/3 cup warm water (105º to 115º)

1 cup warm milk (105º to 115º)

1/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

Two 3-1/2-ounce bars imported bittersweet, white, or milk chocolate

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and pinch sugar over warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a medium mixing bowl with a whisk or the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat hard for 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and 1/2 cup more flour. Beat again for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time to form a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl, switching to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 1 to 2 minutes, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. Cover the dough with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes on the work surface.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out each portion to a 12-inch round. Cut each round into 8 wedges with a pastry wheel or sharp knife. Break the chocolate bar into its scored sections. Set a section on the base of each wedge. Roll up from the base to the point and form into a crescent.

Arrange about 2 inches apart on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until puffy, about 30 minutes. The pastries may also rise overnight in the refrigerator. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375. Brush the tops with the egg glaze. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown on top and bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before eating. Serves 8

From about.com

VANILLA FRUIT SLAW

4-5 cups thinly sliced cabbage

2 stalks celery thinly sliced

1/2 cup finely shredded carrots

1 apple, cored and thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup seedless red flame grapes

1/2 cup thinly sliced dates

1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans

Salad Dressing

1/2 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2-1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1/2-3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

salt and white pepper to taste

Combine all of the salad ingredients into a salad bowl and toss.

Mix ingredients for salad dressing well, adjusting flavors to taste.

Sprinkle chopped nuts over top of salad. Serves 4 to 6

VANILLA APPLE CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

1 tablespoon sweet white wine

1-3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large pinch ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking powder

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 vanilla bean

6 eggs, separated

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan with parchment and set aside. Placed prepared apples in a bowl and pour wine over the apples. Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder, and set aside.

Strip the vanilla seeds from the bean, and then place the seeds, pod and butter into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter turns light brown. Remove the vanilla bean and let cool to room temperature.

Separate the eggs. Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip the yolks with the vanilla extract and salt. When the egg yolks start to change color and start to get fluffy, add 3/4 cup of the sugar and continue to whip until light in color. Fold in the butter mixture, and then fold in the sifted flour mixture. The batter will be thick. Fold in apples and wine and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer whip the egg whites until fluffy, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to whip until stiff. Fold the whites into the cake batter in thirds. When well mixed, pour into the cake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a wire rack. When cool, run a butter knife around the edge to loosen then turn out onto a plate and top with vanilla cream cheese frosting.

VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

7 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup powdered sugar

seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean

Place the unsalted butter, vanilla seeds and the powdered sugar in the mixer with the paddle attachment (if available). Beat until soft and well creamed. Add the cream cheese and continue to mix until well combined. Spread on top of the cooled cake. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.

TERRIFIC VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

10 1/2 cups (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds) powdered sugar

3 tablespoons whipping cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then cream and vanilla. Makes about 7 1/2 cups.

CHERRY VANILLA CHOCOLATE CAKE

1-1/2 cups sour cream

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Scant 2-1/4 cups flour or cake flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sour cream, sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. In another bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture and mix to combine. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Pour the batter into the pans and bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched (about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on pans used). Cool on rack for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove cake from pans and sprinkle lightly with Kirsch (cherry brandy). If the cake has been baked in one large pan, cut cake in two layers and sprinkle both layers with Kirsch.

While the cake is cooling combine the filling ingredients

12 to 16 ounces cherry preserves

2 tablespoons Kirsch

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix well and reserve 2 teaspoons of preserves to use as glaze. Place bottom layer of cake on serving dish. Cover with cherry preserves, then place top layer onto cake. Frost with the following frosting.

chocolate frosting

1 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces

1/4 pound unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place sugar and cream in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add chocolate and butter, cut into little pieces. Mix well. When chocolate and butter are completely melted, add pinch of salt (optional) and vanilla extract. Place in refrigerator until mixture has cooled. If necessary, beat with a spoon or whisk until frosting is the right consistency for frosting the cake. Decorate cake with fresh cherries that have been pitted and glazed with the balance of the preserves, and sprigs of mint.

Submitted by Anya Marchoni Chicago IL

VANILLA PEACH PIE

4 pounds ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, slice thin (about 8 cups)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 crust pie crust recipe divided in half

Whipping cream (for glaze)

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400. Combine peaches, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, flour and cardamom in large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard bean. Toss to blend well. Let stand until dry ingredients are moistened, about 15 minutes.

Roll out 1 pie-crust portion on lightly floured surface to 12 1/2-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Spoon peach filling into crust, mounding slightly in center. Roll out second pie-crust disk to 12-inch round. Drape crust over filling. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold edge of top and bottom crusts under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Cut 4 slits in top crust to allow steam to escape during baking. Brush crust lightly with whipping cream. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes. Cover crust edges with foil to prevent over browning. Continue to bake until crust is golden and juices bubble thickly, about 1 hour longer. Cool completely on rack. Serves 8.

Modified from Bon Appitite June 2000

VANILLA RICE PUDDING WITH APRICOTS

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk

1/2 cup medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 large eggs

2/3 cup dried apricots, diced

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine 4 cups milk, rice, sugar, cinnamon and salt in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Whisk cornstarch and 1 tablespoon milk in large bowl to blend. Add eggs; whisk to blend. Whisk in hot rice mixture. Return to saucepan. Add apricots; stir over low heat just until mixture comes to boil. Mix in vanilla. Serve warm or pour pudding into buttered medium bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 8 hours or overnight. Spoon pudding into bowls and serve.

VANILLA CARAMEL RUM SAUCE WITH PINEAPPLE

1 tablespoon butter

2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized cubes

2 tablespoons rum

1/2 Vanilla Bean

Melt butter, add sugar and stir until melted. Split and scrape the inside of the vanilla bean; reserve.  Add pineapple, rum, and reserved vanilla bean to sugar mixture.  Cook on high until liquid is reduced and pineapple is glazed.  Serve over ice cream. Serves 6 to 8

FRESH BERRY VANILLA COFFEECAKE

1 cup fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup unbleached flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup vanilla powdered sugar

1 teaspoon milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the raspberries and brown sugar. Set aside. In another bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside. In another bowl combine the yogurt, butter, vanilla, and egg and  mix well. Add the liquid ingredients to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of batter into an 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray or lightly buttered; spread evenly. Top with berry mixture. Spoon remaining batter over berry mixture; top with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract; stir well. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8.

Decorate from the Kitchen for the Holidays

                This is the time of year when some of the things that come out of your kitchen aren’t exactly eatable.  Don’t get me wrong, many of the “ingredients” are things that are front and center in some of your favorite dishes. However, with belts tightening due to the economy and the trend towards “homemade” rather than store bought gifts and decorations I thought it might be time to take a look at an afternoon project the whole family can participate in to make decorations or gifts and centerpieces that cost pennies and look like a million bucks.

                No matter if you just want to get the family together for fun “quality time” or are a project junkie nothing is more fun than working together on a get your hands dirty for fun to make beautiful decorations, toys or object d’art. I’ve had client’s hot glue buttons, and candy and yarn and lots of other stuff onto stuff to make place cards and napkin rings with everyone’s name on it for a dinner party and really funky picture frames.

                In the event you want to enlist the whole group in a project that takes a couple of hours I would suggest making center pieces, frames or napkin rings hat  not only reflect the personality of the maker but can actually enhance the beauty , aroma and ambiance of the table you’re decorating or gift your giving.

                The following recipes are all super simple to throw together, require a minimum amount of time and the ingredients are all readily available and any grocery or convenience store (in case you decide that 3 o’clock in the morning is the best time to get your project started). Don’t be put off by some of the weird amounts or proportions of the ingredients these recipes require. It’s all good.  

                In the event that you don’t want to bake or make your fun and funky gifts or decorations I’d like to suggest a fabulous alternative. A great friend and super talented Israeli artist friend of mine Laura Burch makes the most amazing felt dolls and other creations that are PERFECT to decorate any part of your house for any time of year but especially Christmas, Kwanza   or Chanukah or any birthday party or give as a gift to that special little girl or guy in your life. You can find her creations (as well as tons and tons of other creatable delights) at her blog http://www.lauraleeburch.com/blog/2010/11/waldorf-flower-dolls

               

CINNAMON SENTED DECORATIVE DOUGH

3/4 cup applesauce

1 cup ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon white glue

 cookie cutters

toothpick or drinking straw

yarn or ribbon in bright colors

In a bowl combine the cinnamon, nutmeg and applesauce and mix to combine. Stir in the white glue. This will form a stiff dough. (if dough is too wet add more cinnamon, if too dry add more applesauce)

 Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on waxed paper. Cut with cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of ornament with toothpick or drinking straw.  Gently place the ornaments on a cooling rack to dry. The ornament should dry at room temperature for about 2 days or until it’s thoroughly dry. Gently turn the ornament at least once every 12 hours, more if it’s starting to curl around the edges. You can also bake these ornament is you want them to dry more quickly. Preheat oven to 200. Place the ornaments on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an 1 hour on the bottom rack in your oven, making sure they don’t burn.  Let the ornaments sit on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes and then let them cool for at least 12 hours until totally dry. Cut the ribbon or yarn into a 2 foot piece and then fold it in half.  Insert the ribbon or yarn through holes and tie it close to the ornament to secure the yarn or ribbon to the sting. Attach to presents, trees, garlands or anywhere else you’d like the scent of cinnamon

Cinnamon dough creations can be stored in a zip lock baggie from year to year and they do keep their cinnamon aroma. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

SIMPLE DOUGH FOR CRAFTS

 I suggest cookie cutters that impress a design into the dough as opposed to cookie cutters that simply cut out a shape,

1 cup Salt

1-1/2 cup Warm water

4 cup Flour

Preheat oven to 200. In a bowl combine the salt and flour together. Add the water slowly and knead until the dough is stiff and like. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut the dough desired shapes from dough using cookie cutters or similar objects (dust them with flour to prevent sticking). Make a hole in the top of each ornament using a pencil, straw, toothpick or similar object. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet  for 1 hour. You can use, tempera, watercolor, or spray paints to color and decorate the ornaments. Brush on, spray on, or use a toothpick to drop “dots” of paint for eyes, ears, clothing and more. You can make colored dough by mixing in a few drops of food coloring to the dough before you roll it out. Roll and bake or dry out per recipe’s instructions. You can attach candy pieces like red hots, gum drops, M&M’s, lemon drops,  gum balls, and or sprinkles after the ornaments are done. Use white glue or paint to attach the candy. I have also used clear nail polish or shellac to fix the designs. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size

CORNSTARCH DOUGH FOR DECORATIVE CRAFTS

You don’t cook these ornaments so you’ll need a few days lead time to make them before you can use them. Cornstarch dough creates smooth white ornament that is sort of like plaster. If you want all white ornaments just spray or paint them with a shellac or clear nail polish instead of painting them.

1 cup cornstarch

2 cups baking soda

1-1/4 cups cold water

Cookie cutters

Acrylic or enamel craft paint (optional)

Clear thin shellac or clear nail polish

Combine the cornstarch and soda in a saucepan. Gradually add the water until the mixture is smooth.

Stirring constantly, heat until the mixture reaches a moist, mashed potato consistency. Turn the dough onto a plate and cover it with a damp towel and let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Knead the dough when it is cool enough to handle. Roll the dough on a cornstarch dusted surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters (dipped in cornstarch before you use the for cutting.) Using a toothpick or straw pierce a hole at the top of each ornament . Place the dough ornaments on a cooling rack to air dry. It will take several days at room temperature for the ornaments to dry and harden before they will be ready to be decorated. File any rough edges after they have dried. Paint the ornaments with acrylic or enamel paints. When the paint is dry, coat the ornaments with a clear protective coating. Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

 
 
 
MARTHA STEWARTS GINGERBREAD DOUGH FOR DECORATINGAlways trust Martha to come up with a spectacular way to decorate ANYTHING. These are NOT eatable.

3 tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon of cloves, ginger and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, stir in molasses. Sift the dry ingredients together. Stir them into shortening mixture in 3 parts alternating with a 1/4 cup of water each time. Dough will be stiff. Refrigerate overnight. Cut dough into 3 pieces. Knead to warm dough slightly, then roll each piece out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookie out with a gingerbread pattern of your choice.

Use a drinking straw to punch hole in center if ornament will be hanging. Place cookies on cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes, turn oven off and let cool in oven. Remove from cookie sheet and place on rack to dry for about 3 days to totally harden. These cookies are purely for decorative purposes and not to be eaten. If you wish you can seal cookies with 3 coats of clear acrylic and decorate with colorful acrylic paints when dry.  Makes 1 to 2 dozen depending on the size.

© Eileen Goltz decorating dough10A

CHANUKAH HOTLINE

Just email me if you have any questions problems or oops with latkes, sofganyot or any other cooking disasters! I’ll get back to you asap or at least as soon as I’m done playing draydel. eztlog@gmail.com

Are They Latkes Or Potato Pancakes?

The Jewish celebration of Chanukah begins this year at sundown on December 1st. Called the festival of lights it commemorates the freedom of the Jewish people thousands of years ago. The holiday lasts for eight days, beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev

The story is simple. A Greek ruler named Antiochus had conquered the Jewish people. He prohibited the practice of their religion and desecrated their most holy place, the Temple. This sparked a revolt led by a man named Judah Maccabee. After three years of fighting for their freedoms they won, and on the 25th day of Kislev, they reclaimed the Temple, cleansed and prepared for the rededication. Although there was only enough special oil needed to light the menorah (candelabra) in the Temple for one day, miraculously, the oil lasted for eight entire days until a new supply could be obtained. Chanukah is an eight day festival to celebrate this miracle.
            Many people believe that because Chanukah is celebrated around the same time of year as Christmas there is a connection or similarity between the two.  Not so. Chanukah a minor Jewish holiday. The only specifically religious part of the celebration is the lighting of the menorah every night, the blessings said at that time and this is typically done in the home.

            When my children were very small and our budget was even smaller we tried to find creative ways to celebrate Chanukah that didn’t require spending copious amounts of money but maximize the amount of fun the family could have. We came up with crazy latke night (a latkes is a potato pancakes, cooked in oil and eaten to honor the miracle of the lasting oil). It’s been a hit with family and friends ever since.

            Simply put, 2 of the families invited came up with the most unusual and creative latke recipe that they could find.  They would bring the ingredients for the latkes and the other 3 or 4 families would bring the rest of the stuff for our dinner. Every family would bring a small gift costing no more than 3 dollars for each child attending (but not their own) and we’d have a cook off. Granted, some recipes are better than others and others are soooooooooooooooo bad that the entire batch is ceremoniously disposed of after the first few bites. Regardless of what we end up choosing as the blue ribbon winner of the evening everyone has a good time and the cost for the evening was never more than any of us could afford.

            The party has evolved as the families grew and got older. The presents became gift certificates or a check (preferred by high school and college students world wide) and the recipes got a tad less crazy and more heart healthy and had a few less calories. None the less, most of following recipe were served at one time or another at one of our parties and a few just sounded too good not to pass along.

Rules for the perfect latke (potato pancake)

1. Have all of the ingredients ready to go before the potato shredding begins (peel the potatoes, mince the onions, and get the egg mixture ready). To prevent the potatoes from browning, they may be peeled in advance and kept covered with water, but once they are shredded, you must work fast.
2. I always beat the eggs and flour together. This is how it was done in most restaurants, despite what many of the recipe say.
3. When frying, use a generous amount of oil. I like to use peanut oil

4. While a hand grater works just fine, you can save time, and your knuckles, by using a food processor.
5. SQUEEZE! Squeeze as much liquid out of the shredded potatoes as possible, pressing them against the side of the bowl to release their starchy water.
6. Serve immediately. While you can make them ahead of time and reheat, they are at their best right out of the pan.

7. You can top your latkes with sour cream, yogurt, apple sauce or even brown sugar if they’re sweet rather than savory. They sky and your imagination is the only limitation.

CLASSIC POTATO PANCAKE

2 eggs, beaten

4 medium russet potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled and shredded

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup grated onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil

In a large bowl combine the eggs, flour, onion, salt, and pepper, stirring to blend. Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the potatoes. Add the shredded potatoes to the egg mixture, mixing well. In a large, heavy skillet, heat some of the oil over medium-high heat. Spoon the batter by quarter-cupfuls onto the hot skillet, flattening them with the back of the spoon. Fry until the bottom of the pancakes are nicely browned – between 3 and 5 minutes; flip the pancakes and cook for about 3 minutes longer. Repeat for the remaining pancakes, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. About 12 four-inch pancakes. Serves 6

From my files, unknown author

EXOTIC SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

Spiced with cinnamon, curry powder and cumin this potato pancake is also great for Thanksgiving.

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup oil for frying

1/2 cup milk or water

Shred the sweet potatoes, and place in a colander to drain for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, white sugar, brown sugar, curry powder and cumin. Make a well in the center, and pour in eggs and milk. Stir until all of the dry ingredients have been absorbed. Stir in sweet potatoes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop the potato mixture by spoonfuls into the oil, and flatten with the back of the spoon. Fry until golden on both sides, flipping only once. If they are browning too fast, reduce the heat to medium. Remove from the oil, and keep warm while the other pancakes are frying. Makes about 15 or 16.

From my file, author unknown

SWEET SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/4 cups sweet potatoes – peeled/cooked/mashed (yes you can use canned)

1/4 cup butter- melted and 1 additional tablespoon butter for frying

2 large eggs – beaten

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature before making batter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine milk, potatoes, eggs and butter. Combine the two mixtures until dry ingredients are just moistened. Allow batter to set, while you heat a griddle or skillet to medium-high heat and lightly grease with butter.
Drop batter by heaping Tablespoons onto griddle or skillet and fry, turning once, until browned on both sides. Great with maple syrup and butter. Or try it with “sweetened sour cream” – mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with a tablespoon of brown sugar. Makes about 20 pancakes.

Submitted by Carrie Wasermen Chicago IL from http://www.allrecipes.com

POTATO ZUCCHINI PANCAKES

1 medium baking potato, unpeeled and shredded

1/2 small zucchini, shredded

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1 egg white

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon oil
Combine potato, zucchini, onion, egg white and flour in medium bowl until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Drop potato mixture into skillet by 1/3 cupfuls. Flatten pancakes with spatula; cook about 5 minutes per side or until browned.

Tip: Save time by shredding both the potato and zucchini in a food processor fitted with a shredding disc. There’s no need to wash the bowl in between because all the ingredients are mixed together before cooking. Makes 6 pancakes. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Modified from a recipe from Easy Home Cooking Magazine

MASHED POTATO PANCAKES

2 cups mashed potatoes

1 large egg, beaten lightly

6 tablespoons flour

1 and 1/2 tablespoons grated onion

Salt and pepper to taste

vegetable oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the mashed potatoes and egg and mix them together. Add the flour and onion and mix all together well. Add salt and pepper to batter to taste.

In a large skillet or on a griddle, heat oil, 2 to 3 tablespoons over medium-high heat. Drop batter onto the heated surface in healing tablespoons. Flatten each latke slightly with the spoon. Cooking time is about a minute per side. They should be golden brown on each side. The original recipe called for serving these latkes with a fried egg and grated cheese on top. Absolutely weird for Hanukkah abut strangely delicious! Makes 5 to 6 latkes. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

GOURMET SWEET POTATO PANCAKE WITH CAVIAR

You can form the sweet-potato pancakes up to six hours ahead, leaving only a quick frying before serving.

2 pounds tan-skinned sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)

3/4 cup chopped green onions
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 ounce black caviar
Fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces

Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead; keep refrigerated.)

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate into large bowl. Stir in green onions. Whisk eggs, flour, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Gently mix into potato mixture. Form mixture into 48 walnut-size balls; transfer to prepared baking sheet. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 8 potato balls in skillet, pressing each gently with spatula to flatten to 1 1/2-inch diameter. Cook until pancakes are rich golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining potato balls, adding more oil to skillet if necessary. Transfer pancakes to platter. Top each with 1 teaspoon sour cream and scant 1/4 teaspoon caviar. Garnish with chives. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 48 mini latkes.

Bon Appétit  November 2001

How do you spell Chanukah?

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Check out my article on Chanukah in the Journal Gazette