Getting Carried Away Making Rye Bread

“I had to make some kind of pun!” she said wryly.

Caraway rye bread, also known as Jewish rye, was something I grew up on, and I just make my first loaf. It has a nice crunchy crust and soft interior studded with flavorful caraway seeds. It’s delicious hot out of the oven or toasted buttered.

It’s delightful toasted and topped with avocado, cucumbers, tomato, red bell pepper, and lox.

I used the Joy of Cooking recipe as a guide, then added my own touches.

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water

1 Tb sugar

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

2 Tb olive oil

1 Tb caraway seeds

2 cups unbleached white flour or bread flour, divided 1 1/2 and 1/2 cup

3/4 cup rye flour divided 1/2 and 1/4 cup

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 – 2 Tb dry polenta or cornmeal

Instructions:

In a large bowl, add sugar to warm water and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top of the water and place in a warm place with a dishtowel on top for 15 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Add olive oil, caraway seeds, 1 1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup rye flour, and stir well for one minute. Gradually add 1/4 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup white flour, stirring until dough is moist but not sticky.

Sprinkle a pastry board with half white flour and half rye flour. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed to the pastry board. Roll dough into a large ball.

Oil a large bowl and roll the dough around the bowl so that it is covered with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until doubled in volume.

Transfer the dough to the pastry board and knead it until smooth and elastic again. Oil a 6 cup (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch) loaf pan and form the dough into a loaf shape. Sprinkle some polenta (or cornmeal if that’s all you have) on the pastry board and roll the dough over it so it’s covered with polenta. Place the dough in the loaf pan and loosely cover it with plastic wrap in a warm place. Let it rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450′ and place dough in when it has doubled in volume. Set the timer for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350′. Bake for 30 minutes more. Place pan on a rack and run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to release the loaf, then turn it upside down to cool.

Peachy Challah Bread Pudding

 

bread pudding serving1I made this with Challah left over from our Rosh Hashanah dinner. I stirred together the custard and bread the night before and let soak overnight in the fridge. The second time I made itn for the Yom Kippur break the fast dessert, I only had 15 minutes to soak the bread, and it was fine.  Either way, it made a yummy breakfast and dessert. If your challah is fresh, toast it lightly so it can absorb the custard. I put in seasonal fruit – in this case fresh peaches. You can also add blueberries or other soft fruit. The chocolate chips add a gooey richness.

challah braided in circleIngredients:

Canola nonstick spray

4 eggs, whisked well

2 cups warm milk (I used 1%) I drink lactose free milk, so that’s what I used.

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tb sugar

a few shakes salt

1 tsp cinnamon

A few shakes each nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice

1 Tb bourbon whiskey

About 1 1/2 cups leftover challah, torn into 1 inch pieces

2 Tb semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup pecans

2 large peaches, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp butter for topping

1 tsp coarse sugar such as Demera

Directions:

Whip eggs well in a mixmaster or large bowl. Warm the milk in microwave, then stir in sugar, salt, vanilla, bourbon, and spices. Whisk into eggs. Stir in challah pieces. Cover bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. If you don’t have time, it will still work to soak the bread about 15 minutes.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350′ Set a large roasting pan in the oven with about 2 inches of warm water on the middle rack.

peaches n pecansSpray a flat casserole dish with nonstick canola oil spray. Cut up peaches and stir with blueberries, chocolate chips, and pecans. Spread in the bottom of the casserole dish.

bread pudding before bakingPour soaked bread and custard into the dish. Cut 1 tsp of butter into tiny pieces and scatter across the top. Sprinkle 1 tsp of Demera sugar over the top.

Carefully place the casserole dish into the the water bath in the roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm (but it’s also good cold).

bread pudding serving

Drunken onion brisket

???????????????????????????????My cousin’s wife Marcia gave me her succulent and tender brisket recipe. It calls for 20 onions and half a bottle of cabernet.

Marcia recommends making it a day before serving. Although I made it the same day I served it, it was even better the next day.

sliced brisketIngredients:

5 -6 lbs first cut (flat cut) brisket. It is less fatty than the 2nd cut (point cut)

10 garlic cloves

2 Tb salt, 1 Tb each paprika and white pepper

20 onions (either yellow or red onions)

Olive oil to sauté onions

3 carrots

4 celery stalks

2 parsnips

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Oil a roasting pan. Rinse brisket and pat dry.

rub in spiceSprinkle salt, pepper, paprika on top of the brisket and rub into the meat.

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Cut garlic cloves into thin slivers. Using a paring knife, make slits on the top (fatty side) of the brisket, and stick the garlic slivers in them.

Cover brisket with foil and place in the oven to sear the meat for 20 minutes.

While meat is searing, slice the onions. Working in batches, sauté them in olive oil, until soft but not quite caramelized.

Remove brisket from oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

brisket on and surrounded by onionsLift brisket and place sautéed onions under the brisket. Surround the brisket with extra onions.

???????????????????????????????Peel and chop the carrots, celery stalks, and parsnips and put them on top of the onions. Pour in 1/2 bottle Cabernet red wine over the brisket and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????Cover pan with foil and braise at 350 degrees for 3 hours.

Slice the brisket and place it back in the gravy it made. Serve with the vegetables.

???????????????????????????????I like to serve the brisket over Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs

Kasha Varnishkes with fresh herbs, mushrooms and peas

???????????????????????????????Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of kasha and farfelle (buckwheat groats and bow tie pasta). I dressed up my mom’s recipe with fresh herbs, mushrooms and freshly shelled peas.

toasting kasha

toasting kasha

Did you know that buckwheat is gluten-free because it is a fruit? Kasha is the roasted buckwheat seed (groat). Buckwheat has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, and cholesterol, is low-glycemic, and is a good source of protein and magnesium.

Did you know that even though farfelle is called bow tie pasta, it is named for farfella, which means butterfly in Italian!

Ingredients:

1 large pot of salted water

8 oz farfelle (bow-tie pasta)

1 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)

1 egg

1 Tb olive oil

1 small onion

1 ½ cups mushroom

1 tsp minced rosemary

¼ tsp minced thyme

¼ tsp dill weed

2 1/4 cups Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. If you want to use prepared broth, salt the kasha to taste.

½ – 1 tsp salt to taste, depending on saltiness of the broth.

A few shakes or grinds of black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups shelled English peas (you can substitute frozen peas)

1 Tb chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling

Heat broth to boiling in a heavy, medium saucepan.

While you are heating the liquids, prepare the kasha:

Sauté onion in olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until soft,

While the onion is cooking, mix kasha with a beaten egg in a bowl until the kasha is coated. Toast kasha in a dry non-stick frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains separate.

???????????????????????????????Add mushrooms to onions, cover and cook another 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in herbs and cook another minute, then add the toasted kasha.

Pour hot broth into kasha mixture. Add bay leaf, lemon juice and pepper.  Salt it to taste. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed. Stir in fresh peas in the last 7 minutes. If you choose to use frozen peas, stir them in at the last 4 minutes.

While kasha is cooking, cook pasta for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and Stir into cooked kasha. Extra broth from the kasha will act as gravy. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Passover Chocolate covered Almond – Coconut Macaroons

final

These crunchy macaroons are the perfect dessert for Seder or anytime. I used unsweetened shredded coconut with only 3 Tablespoons sugar for a not–too-sweet macaroon. I added chopped, roasted almonds, vanilla and almond extract. Then I spread it with dairy free chocolate sauce for a treat that’s just sweet enough.

Makes about 10 macaroons

Macaroon dough:
3 large egg whites
3 Tb sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup roasted and crushed almonds (I buy mine at Berkeley Bowl, but you can roasted almonds and crush in food processor)

chocolate chips and coconut oilChocolate dip:

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips or Guittard chocolate baking chunks

2 teaspoons coconut oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

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Whisk together sugar and egg whites until frothy.

Stir in vanilla, almond extract, coconut and nuts

???????????????????????????????Grab a handful of the dough in your hand and squeeze together until it feels solid. Place macaroons on the parchment lined baking sheet.

baked macaroonsBake macaroons about 18 minutes or until they are light golden on top. Let cool on baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When macaroons are cool, make the chocolate spread:

Microwave chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small bowl, on high for 1 to 1½ minutes until melted; stir until smooth.pouring chocolate sauce on macarooms

Spread melted chocolate onto macaroon. Place on parchment paper until chocolate is set.

chocolate covered matzo

You can spread the chocolate onto matzo pieces as well.

 

Unbeetable Borscht!

borsht

This was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid. We used to eat it with blintzes  on the side. This is not traditional Russian hot borscht which has meat, cabbage and potatoes, but cold simple beet borscht, served back in the day with sour cream, Meyer lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar.

I roasted the beets before boiling them, for a deeper flavor. I’ve added the beet greens for more body and nutrients, as well as a bit of salt, dill and lemon zest for flavor. Since I’m watching my waistline, I added nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Not quite the same, but not bad either.

Ingredients:

beets with lemon

2 3/4 cups mild vegetable broth (see below)

1 bunch of 2 large beets, leaves included

1 Meyer lemon (a regular lemon will do if you can’t find a Meyer)

A few shakes, dill weed, salt, sugar, to taste

Trim “tails” and stems from beets. Scrub beets well. Line a covered container with foil (to prevent baked-on beet juice), then place beets in with ¼ cup of water, cover and roast at 400 for 40 minutes.

While beets are roasting, make vegetable broth. (You can do both a day ahead of time.)

trimmed leeks

3 1/2 cups water

1 large leek, dark green parts trimmed

2 large stalks celery. chopped

1 parsnip or 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 sprig parsely

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or several springs fresh thyme

1/4 tsp dried dill weed, or several springs fresh dill

Several grinds black pepper

3/4 tsp balsamic vinegar to taste

Salt to taste

Directions:

veg broth with leeks celery parsnip garlic thyme and dill

Bring water to boil in medium pot. Trim outer dark leaves from leeks. Slice lengthwise into quarters, then chop crosswise and rinse thoroughly several times in a salad spinner

Rinse and chop celery and peel and chop parsnip or carrot. Thinly slice shallot and garlic clove. Add all vegetables to boiling water with herbs. Simmer for 25 minutes. After it cools, strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing on the vegetables with a large spoon.. You should have approximately 2 3/4 cups left.

washed beet greets

While broth is booking, rinse beet leaves thoroughly: first rinse, then soak in a salad spinner for about 10 minutes in warm water, then rinse several more times. Chop them finely.

grating beets

Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel them under running water. The peel should come off easily, revealing the jewel-like beets. Grate them on the large part of a box grater. Unless you have a pair of thin gloves handy,  prepared for hot pink hands!

grated beets

Bring vegetable broth to a boil and add grated beets and greens. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Grate lemon zest (the yellow part) on a fine grater into the soup, and then squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in vinegar, a few shakes of dill weed, ¼ tsp salt to taste and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sugar to taste. Let borscht cool, then refrigerate. You can also serve it room temperature.

Serve with more lemon juice and sour cream. (or substitute plain Greek yogurt for a low-fat alternative.)

Hanukkah and Christmas Orange-Nutty Cookies

Chanukah and Christmas Cookies on plate

This mufti-denominational cookie is based on my mom’s Hanukkah cookie recipe. I added some grated orange zest to heighten the fruity notes. The nuts are optional, but I love the crunch of nuts in cookies.

You can soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds if you forgot to leave it out to soften! Crush nuts by pulsing in the food processor or rolling them with a rolling pin as my mom did. They should be tiny, but not pulverized into powder.

Makes about 30 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Ingredients:

1 cube butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated orange zest (the orange part of the peel) of one orange

1 Tb orange juice

2 eggs

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup crushed walnuts and/ or pecans

1-2 tsp demerara sugar (coarse brown sugar)

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add orange zest and juice and beat again.

Sift dry ingredients together and then mix until combined with the moist ingredients. Stir in nuts until incorporated into the dough.

???????????????????????????????Roll the dough into a large ball, then flatten into a disk with your hands. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for ½ hour. This will harden the butter and make the dough easier to roll.

Preheat the oven to 375◦.

Image

Lightly flour a wooden board and the rolling pin. Grab a few handfuls of dough and roll it out to about 1/8 inch. Dip cookie cutters in flour, then shake out, to prevent the dough from sticking on them, and then cut out shapes.

Oil an insulated cookie sheet with canola oil. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle cookies with a pinch of demerara sugar to make them sparkle. Bake the cookies at 375◦ for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Image

For chocolate drizzle, melt 1/3 cup bittersweet dark chocolate chips in the microwave in a heatproof ceramic or glass bowl. Heat for one minute, stir thoroughly, then heat 30 seconds, stir, another 30 seconds until almost all melted, and stir well. Remove from microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes, then drizzle over cookies.

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kneydlekh קניידלעך Matzo Ball Soup

I make Matzo balls, what my mom calls kneydlekh קניידלעך in Yiddish ki -NAY- dl-ekh (make the last sound (ekh) by clearing your throat), for special occasions like Passover and Rosh Hashanah, or just to help the heal a bad cold. Serve them in Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup

Are you wondering if adding baking powder is kosher for Passover? All I can say is that the Manischewitz matzo ball mix which is kosher for Passover contains sodium bicarbonate and monocalcium phosphate which are the active ingredients of baking powder. So if they can make their matzo balls light and fluffy with that, so can I!

Makes about 15 medium matzo balls (1/4 recipe in parentheses)
4 (1) large eggs
2 (1/2) tsp schmalz (rendered chicken fat). Use the fat that rises to the top of the soup
(vegetarian version: use 1/4 cup (1 Tb) oil only)
3 Tb (2 1/4 tsp) canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp (1/4 tsp) garlic infused olive oil
1 (1/4) cup matzo meal
2 (1/2) tsp salt
1/4 tsp (a shake) white pepper
1 tsp (1/4 tsp) baking powder
1 Tb (3/4 tsp) minced parsley leaves
1/2 tsp (1/8 tsp) dried or 1 Tb (3/4 tsp) fresh minced dill weed
 
1 TB (3/4 tsp) schmaltz added to boiling water
1/4 cup (1 Tb) soup added to boiling water
 
 

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl with schmalz and oil.

Mix herbs, matzo meal, baking soda, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Gently fold into the egg mixture.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 40 minutes

While dough is resting in the fridge, boil a large pot of water (at least a gallon). Add a tablespoonful (3/4 tsp) of schmalz (unless you’re making vegetarian ones) and 1/4 cup (1 Tb) soup. This will give the kneydlekh more flavor. If you have plenty of soup, you can just boil the kneydlekh in the soup.

Wet your hands and roll  about 12 (4) golf-ball sized matzo balls. Put them on a plate

Drop them in the boiling water. Cover pot tightly and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. Balls will double in size and should be soft. If you are going to store them for later, place them in a container with just enough broth to cover.

You can sprinkle more dill and parsley on the soup when serving.

Matzo Meal Chicken

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This was one of my favorite dishes my mom made when I was a kid. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tweak it! I added sesame seeds to the matzo meal and used olive oil spray and a bit of schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead of drizzling margarine on the chicken as she did. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless breasts, but you can make it with a cut-up  chicken as my mom did. It will just take longer to cook.

Preheat oven to 400◦

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 eggs

2/3 cup of matzo meal

1/4 cup plus a few spoonfuls sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon garlic salt or 1 Tb salt and 1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

several grinds pepper

1 Tb chopped parsley

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Olive oil spray

1 Tb schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) I use the fat from homemade chicken soup

Combine dry ingredients and parsley in a shallow bowl

Beat the eggs well in a small bowl

.Spray pan with nonstick spray.

Rinse the chicken breasts. Pound it to make it an even thickness.

Dip each breast in the egg

and then roll it in the matzo meal-sesame mixture until it is well coated.

(You may have to wash your hands a few times in between chicken pieces; this gets messy!)

Spray one side with olive oil spray and drip a little schmaltz on it, and then place that side down on the oiled rack. Spray the other side with the olive oil spray and drip more schmaltz on it. Repeat for all breasts, spacing them so there is some room between them.

Bake in the oven until browned, about 20 minutes, then flip over. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of sesame seeds on top if some of the coating has fallen off, and bake another 15- 20 minutes until the other side is browned.

Vatrushka

These cheese-filled, sour cream dough pastries were one of my favorite treats as a child. I can eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer. My mom, Sarah, baked hundreds of these as hors d’œuvre for our wedding. Now my kids and husband gobble them up as fast as I can make them.

We use the same filling as for Blintzes.  I changed mom’s recipe by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose flour she used, and mixing nonfat ricotta cheese with the farmer’s cheese to cut down on the fat. But I still top them with a bit of sour cream. The fresh strawberries I placed on top add just the right amount of sweet juiciness to balance the filling.

I got a  kick out of the comments or rather criticisms I got on this blog entry. Russians have got to be the most opinionated people on the planet! (I should know, being half-Russian myself).

makes several dozen, depending on the size

Dough for Vatrushka
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature
5 Tb sour cream
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp salt

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until dough is formed. Knead on a floured board about 12 times, until it is no longer sticky. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for ½ an hour. Prepare the filling while the dough is chilling.

Cheese filling
1 1/2  cups farmer’s cheese
1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
2 eggs
¼ tsp salt
1/2  tsp sugar

Mix ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350◦

Roll out the dough on a floured board until thin, and cut with a round biscuit cutter. For larger pastries, I made little balls and roll them out into circle shapes. The circles don’t have to be perfect as long as they can fold into a half-moon shape. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and fold it over into a half-moon shape.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, spray the pan with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350◦

Serve topped with sour cream and fresh strawberries.