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Cinnamon-Cocoa-Pecan Rugelach

11 Nov

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It’s about time I post a recipe here. I have been so busy out and about, road tripping to make pie in Vermont and hang out on a farm, and experimenting with letting others, namely Blue Apron, do the grocery shopping for me.

I am back in the groove now with a recipe for RUGELACH! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. These darling cookies fit the bill for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hannukah. But really, they are delicious any time of the year.

Actually, I made the dough for the rugelach way back in August and stuck it in my freezer, intending to bake them off for the Jewish high holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Alas, life got busy and I never got around to making them.

So, three months later, I finally pulled the rugelach dough from the freezer, placed it in the refrigerator to thaw, and set to work rolling, filling, and shaping the cookies. I have been known to keep pie doughs and pizza doughs and apparently rugelach doughs in my freezer for months on end, which is not ideal or recommended, but hey, they always turn out tasting dang good.

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I wrote about rugelach a few years back, and it is high time for an update. Continue reading

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Life Is Busy, But We Still Need To Eat

23 Apr

It is too easy to fall into eating the same things everyday, so I’m trying to shake up my routine a little, and give you some inspiration to shake things up, too! Today’s post compiles some snapshots of the food I’ve been eating lately.

Most of the foods pictured are quick to prepare yet still filled with nourishing, colorful ingredients. Life is busy, but we still need to eat.

Have you tried any new or different foods recently?

Breakfasts: A warm bowl of oatmeal with a dab of nut butter usually hits the spot for me in the morning. Below are some other fun breakfast options:

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A variation of a single-serving oatmeal protein pancake. Combine 1/3 c. quick oats, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon each of baking powder, chia seeds, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add some fruit to the batter, i.e. 1/4 cup of frozen berries. Cook on a lightly buttered non-stick skillet for about 3 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 3 minutes. Top with something yummy, like plain, whole milk yogurt with a little drizzle of maple syrup.

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Whole wheat toast with cottage cheese and black pepper. A quick way to get in some protein and whole grains first thing in the morning. Add a side of frozen mango cubes for refreshing brightness.

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Speaking of mango, here’s a classic bowl of plain yogurt with granola, chia seeds, and mango slices. As you can see, my brain is already on “warm, sunny weather” mode.

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Another simple breakfast or snack: CRUMPETS. Like an English muffin, the airy wholes of a crumpet are the perfect vehicle for a slick of salted butter and a little jam (I used guava/apple jam). Nut butter, avocado, or a runny egg also sound like excellent crumpet toppings.

Light lunches and snacks: I usually like to make my own lunch at home. I have to remind myself that simple is often the answer. Last week was Passover, so I tried to get creative with matzo…

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Matzo spread with hummus and topped with boiled egg and cucumber slices. To boil an egg, place it in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil. Once boiling, shut the heat off and cover the pot for 10-13 minutes, depending if you are using a large or extra-large egg. Place the eggs in a bowl of ice water to cool. Peel and slice!

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Eating out during Passover is a fun adventure. This matzo was topped with smashed avocado, chili flakes, cumin, and lemon. Can’t go wrong. At The Commons Chelsea. 

Quick, easy weeknight dinners: Keeping some easy staples like frozen/canned vegetables, tofu in the fridge, grains in the pantry, and even fish in tins means a healthy dinner is almost always accessible.

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Whipped up a tofu vegetable curry for dinner one night. With a few apple slices and peanut butter on the side. This is a go-to meal for me, but I changed it up by using a little baby corn. Organic canned baby corn gets drained and rinsed and added to the curry with some fresh broccoli. A different vegetable than I would normally use, and I appreciate the change. Did you know you could “dry sauté” tofu? Slice the tofu and place it in a heated, dry non-stick skillet. The heat takes out all of the excess moisture, and still gives it a nice “crust” because the skillet is non-stick. Now the tofu is ready to soak up all of the yummy curry sauce (a similar effect to “pressing” tofu).

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First time buying a tin of sardines! I made Ellie Krieger’s pasta with sardines. Whole wheat fusilli, broccoli rabe, golden raisins, and pine nuts tossed with sardines. Add Parmesan for a little extra salty goodness.

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Taco night. Corn tortillas toasted on the gas stovetop flame. Smear with refried black beans. Top with leftover chicken, and some sautéed bell peppers and onions. A little salsa or hot sauce for acidity.

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Rainbow Nachos. Blue corn tortilla chips, carrot ribbons, black beans, smoky gouda, spinach. Toast in the oven for ~7-15 minutes. Top with avocado and plain Greek yogurt.

Some noteworthy restaurant eats:

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Carrots | Fluke from The Pines in Gowanus, Brooklyn

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Green Falafel “with everything” from Taim in Nolita

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Rice Bowl with Marinated, Grilled Tofu from Community Food & Juice in Morningside Heights

Happy Passover

15 Apr

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Happy Passover. Or if you don’t celebrate, Happy Tuesday.

This year, I made a small dinner for a small crowd. Charoset, a light salad, spatchcocked flat-roasted chicken with carrots and parsnips, maple-roasted sweet potatoes (I used less syrup than the recipe calls for and added in some cinnamon). Complete with matzo sheets and red wine. Dessert was coconut macaroons from the bakery I work at, with a few squares of chocolate and a few more sips of wine.

A few more old favorite Passover recipes:

Matzo Lasagna

Kiss n’ Swirl Meringues (use Kosher for Passover vanilla, or omit altogether, if you do not consume vanilla on the holiday)

xo

Stephanie

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“Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup

17 Jan

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You know that area right underneath your nostrils? Mine is red and dry because I have been blowing my nose for almost a week now. Yuck. Colds are the worst. I still have energy to go about my usual business, but I’m just a snotty, gross mess.

Alas, chicken soup.

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Funny enough, a few days into the snotty sickness that has been permeating my apartment, I received an email from my boyfriend’s mom with a recipe for a fantastic chicken barley soup. Must have been mother’s intuition that we needed comfort.

This “Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup is heartier than the typical clear-broth chicken soup. Blending some of the broth with cooked potato, onion, celery, and garlic lends a creamy texture without any cream. If your favorite kitchen tool is an immersion blender, raise your hand! Makes life so easy.

Adding a little barley to the soup offers a nice contrast, a bite of texture. Barley is a great source of whole grain, it is rich in fiber and protein, and it turns the soup into its own meal.

I used a homemade turkey stock for this soup. It is so easy to freeze a bunch of leftover odds and ends of vegetables and prepare a quick stock. After I made a vegetable stock, I strained it, and then added it back to a pot with the neck and giblets I had in the freezer from my Thanksgiving turkey. There’s some good dark meat on the neck of a turkey, so don’t throw the neck away! Prepare your stock the day before if you want to get ahead.

So I had turkey stock in my chicken soup. No big deal. If you are short on time, you could just use water instead of stock, and add salt. Or buy stock. Either way.

Note that you could buy pre-cooked chicken, but I found it very easy to just toss two breasts (save the bones for stock if you want!) in the oven while I was preparing the rest of my ingredients.

“Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup

Recipe from Lucy, by way of Jackie

This makes a LOT of soup, about 10 servings (you could freeze extras, bring some to a friend, or halve the recipe)

2 T butter or oil
2 onions, chopped
6-7 celery sticks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C russet potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 C pearl barley
8 -9 C stock (I made my vegetable stock, strained it, and added the neck and giblets that were in my freezer from Thanksgiving and simmered for ~1hour)
2 bay leaves
1/2 C white wine
2 bone-in chicken breasts (or slightly less than 2lbs), pre-cooked and shredded (see below for how to cook)
salt and pepper to taste

First, cook your chicken breasts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done (165 degrees F). When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones (save the bones in your freezer for stock), and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot melt butter (or oil) and saute onions, celery, garlic until soft.

Next, add potatoes, 6 – 7 C chicken stock, and thyme. Cook until potatoes are soft (15- 30 min), then use an immersion blender or transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Return this mixture to the pot, add the carrots, barley and bay leaves.  Cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add more stock for a soupier soup. When barley is tender, add wine and chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes to warm up the chicken.

Summer Squash Fritters

9 Jul

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Holy smokes, I’ve fallen head over heels for fritters!

Maybe the fact that the word “fritter” implies fried, I have steered clear of anything fritter-related in my kitchen. Until NOW.

…and I’ve had my share of deep fried apple fritter mania in the past (Gosh, I was so young here. This was an event at the restaurant I used to work at where I had to make tons of apple fritters, I was scooping batter out of buckets!).

pizzaiolo fritters

I shall steer clear no more…these Summer Squash Fritters are lightly pan-fried on a cast-iron skillet, and they totally bust my fears of frittering at home. They are like potato latkes, but a bit healthier and more colorful.

I’ve been making so many quick pasta dinners and taco/quesadilla/migas dinners these days, and tonight I was looking to do something out of my usual throw-together repertoire. Alas, Deb from the Smitten Kitchen has saved dinner once again.

These lil guys hit the spot. With a fried egg on top and a shake or two of hot sauce, I was dancin’ in my dinner seat! You just can’t beat the golden brown crisp exterior of these fritters, oozing supple and sweet summer squash in every bite.

The summer squash are lookin’ mighty fine at the New York City farmer’s markets right now. Vibrant, plump, and simply aching to be eaten.

And if summer squash is not your thing, how about Broccoli Parmesan Fritters? (also in season right now in NYC). Deb has quite an extensive fritter library, so go check it out here if zucchini is not your thing.

These fritters would be an excellent for brunch, too.

Now go fight your fritter fears and experience the goodness.

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Summer Squash Fritters

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen 

I got about 6 fritters out of this batch (serves 2 people as a main dish)

1 large zucchini + 2 small and thin yellow summer squash

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus extra to taste

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (I used a spicy chipotle cheddar. zing!)

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

olive oil or canola oil, for frying

Trim the ends off of the zucchini/summer squash and grate the squash on the large holes of a box grater.

Place a colander over a large bowl. Add the grated squash to the colander with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, press the squash against the holes of the colander and drain as much excess water as you can. You will probably get a lot of liquid out of the squash! This reduces the likelihood of soggy fritters.

Dump the liquid down the sink, rinse the large bowl, and add the pressed grated squash to the bowl. Stir in the garlic, lightly beaten egg, cheddar, and black pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then stir the mixture into the zucchini batter.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron is indeed dreamy here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop small bunches (I used a 1/4 cup measure) of the zucchini mixture onto the skillet only a few at a time (I did 3 fritters at a time) so they don’t become crowded and lightly nudge them flatter with the back of your spatula. Cook the fritters over moderately high heat until the edges underneath are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you find this happening too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Flip the fritters and fry them on the other side until browned underneath again, about 2 to 3 minutes more (if you are making a bigger batch, you can keep finished fritters in a 200 degree F oven to stay warm).

Enjoy with a poached or fried egg on top and a few good shakes of hot sauce, so the yolk runs down and around the fritters (I wish I took a picture of this but I chose to shove the goodness in my face instead!).

**Deb says: These fritters keep well, either chilled in the fridge for the better part of a week and or frozen in a well-sealed package for months. When you’re ready to use them, simply spread them out on a tray in a 325 degree oven until they’re hot and crisp again.

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Spatchcocked Flat-Roasted Chicken

5 Apr

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Buying a whole chicken is a great way stretch your dollar, as it is significantly cheaper than buying the chicken parts separately. The other day, I had 2 breasts in my hands 😉 ready to go and ended up switching them out for a whole chicken because it would save me a few bucks. I bought my chicken directly from my farmer’s market vendor, so I felt reassured that the chicken lived a relatively happy life. As Deb from the Smitten Kitchen says in her cookbook, the smaller, cleaner chickens from the greenmarket really do taste incredible, and there is no need to add anything extra.

With a whole chicken at my side, it was time to start SPATCHCOCKING. I only recently heard the term while listening to Tracy talk about it on the Joy the Baker Podcast. Basically, you cut the backbone out of the chicken with your kitchen shears and lay the chicken flat in a roasting pan (check out the Adam’s spatchcocked chicken while you’re at it, and Tracy’s great pictures. Hopefully they won’t gross you out too much). Doing this allows the chicken to cook evenly in a relatively short time, and the breasts won’t overcook before the legs are ready. A great idea for holiday entertaining.

As Deb points out in the head note for this recipe, from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, she learned to have faith that chicken skin will crisp itself in a high-heat oven, and not to load it with oils and rubs. The only oil in this recipe is used for the potatoes. The chicken skin provides all of the lubrication that the chicken needs.

From Thomas Keller, Deb learned to rain the salt down on the outside of the bird and to trust that it won’t leave the chicken too salty, just perfect. Salt is key. While it gets a bad rep. these days, salt makes a huge difference in flavoring dishes cooked from scratch.

This chicken was simple and juicy. After I few days, I shredded some of the meat and ate it with brown rice, black beans, and sautéed peppers and onions. A nice way to repurpose the leftovers.

I see a lot more spatchcocking in my future…!

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Spatchcocked Flat Roasted Chicken

recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

One chicken, about 3 pounds

salt and pepper

Two handfuls of tiny yellow potatoes, washed and sliced in half

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil, for the potatoes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a pair of sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone of the chicken and discard it (or freeze and save it for making stock). Season the cavity generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan (I used my cast-iron skillet), and gently pat the breast skin dry with a paper towel. Generously season the top of the bird with more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Nestle the potatoes and garlic cloves around and under the chicken, and drizzle them lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Roast the chicken for 30-45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees. Toss the potatoes after about 20 minutes, so that they cook evenly. When the chicken has finished cooking, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter. Remove the legs, thighs, wings, and breasts from the spatchcocked chicken, and arrange them with the potatoes. Enjoy with another vegetable side dish for a balanced meal.

Update 9/25/14: new photo of the spatchcocked chicken baked in a pyrex. Delish!

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Poppy Seed Cake

7 Jan

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I dare you to count the number of poppy seeds in this cake.

1…

2…

671…

My grandma used to make us poppy seed cake when we were kids. It was a plain cake, with a subtle crunch from the seeds, usually baked up in a bundt pan. Grandma uses canned poppy seeds, but I made this cake with the regular seeds that you can find by the spices at the grocery store. She says that poppy seed cake tastes even better when it’s a few days old.

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The process of preparing this cake gave me peace of mind. I brought out my Kitchen Aid mixer and whipped my egg whites to soft peaks, a task that gives me great pleasure, and that I do not get to do very often now that I am not cooking in a professional kitchen.

Folding my softly whipped egg whites into the thick yellow batter felt so good. My kitchen was silent; I was alone, soaking in every step.

To get the full recipe, head over to The Wednesday Chef.

A few notes:

Make sure your butter is soft. 

I used 1 cup of 1% lowfat milk + 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in place of buttermilk.