August 26, 2010

Orange Sesame Slaw

This slaw was my contribution to a summer barbeque, it was pretty tasty. Like other salad recipes, I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I will talk about how to make the wonton crisps and infused oil.

To make the wonton crisps, I sliced wonton skins into 1/4-1/3 inch strips then heated up about 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a pot (the amount of oil depends on your pot size, but try to have at least half an inch of oil heated in the pan). A deep fryer would probably work better, but start by dropping a few wonton strips into the hot oil. Make sure you watch them, they burn quickly! Once they start to turn golden brown take them out with a wire “spider” or an slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. If you can find premade wonton crisps, that would probably be easier, I’ll try to improve my method, but I wasn’t completely enthused with how my crisps came out.

You’ll have a pot of oil left over, and I hate the waste oil created by frying, so I decided to repurpose it for my dressing. And I decided it would be an adventure to try infusing the oil with some good flavors for my dressing, I originally wanted to leave the solids from my infusion in my dressing but they kind of burned and formed a giant clump. I minced some garlic, ginger, and shallot, and threw it in with some sesame seeds, brown sugar and orange zest. If you’re more careful than I am fry all of the solids until they are cooked and lightly browned and then mix in the oil with the other dressing ingredients. If you have my luck, remove most of the solids, and measure out about 1/2 cup of the oil for the dressing. Enjoy!

Napa Cabbage, shredded
Red onion
2 Valencia Orange- segments of 2 and zest of 1
2 Avocado
grilled corn (I didn’t use it, but it would probably be good, Trader Joe’s sells frozen roasted corn-win!)
wonton crisps
sesame seeds

Orange Sesame Dressing
juice of one very juicy orange
~1 T sesame oil
~1 T rice vinegar
1/2 c veg oil infused with garlic, ginger, shallot, sesame, brown sugar, and orange zest

RRay-style Mushroom Pasta

I may have mentioned that mushrooms are my absolute favorite food before, they are just plain awesome. I’m pretty sure Rachael Ray also really like mushrooms, as she’s written several super-mushroomy recipes that inspired this dish. I also really love RRay, and I’m proud of it. I know her voice is annoying and she isn’t gourmet, but I like the way she cooks, and I admire the success she’s achieved in her life and business. I only disagree with her and another one of my idols (Kelly Clarkson!) on one big thing, they both don’t want kids, and I think babies are awesome. This recipe was fun and was one of the first times I made a successful roux. This was *shockingly* my first time cooking with dried mushrooms, and to be honest, I’m not sure I loved the smokiness of the porcinis in the mushroom broth, I may try another type of mushroom next time. Another thing I want to clarify is the way I made the mushroom broth. Most recipes call for chicken stock/broth to steep the mushrooms, but I didn’t have any on hand, plus chicken stock can’t be eaten with dairy products like the butter, milk, and cheese also in this recipe. I like the way the mild onion soup flavor (I used a lot less mix than I would for making actual package directions soup). I thought this tasted delicious, so did Ruby, she didn’t say anything while we were eating it but a few days later she said “yeah, that mushroom pasta was really good”.

2.5 cups water
1-2 T onion soup mix
0.5 oz dried porcini mushrooms
EVOO (had to, for RRay)
half a box whole wheat penne rigate (maybe a different pasta would be better)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced (shallots preferred)
6-8 large shitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2+ T butter
2 T flour
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T milk (cream preferred)
1 sprig rosemary (and/or thyme), leaves removed and roughly chopped
parmesan for finishing

In a small pot bring water and soup mix to a boil, turn off heat and add porcinis, cover pot and steep mushrooms. Put water for pasta up to boil. Over low heat, begin to saute the garlic and scallions (or shallot) while you clean and slice the shitakes and creminis. Add mushrooms and rosemary to the saute pan and cook until soft and lightly browned. Push vegetables to the side of the pan and start to melt butter. Sprinkle flour into melted butter and make sure the two are fully blended. Let the flour cook for 1-2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out. Start to ladle in some of the mushroom broth and blend with the roux until it’s smooth, I had to use a whisk. Add about 1 to 1.5 cups broth total and mix in with the mushrooms in the pan. Stir in the balsamic and the milk or cream (you could also add some starchy pasta water if you’d like) and cook down until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Add the cooked pasta and the parsley and parmesan and mix until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Garnish with a little more parsley and parmesan.

August 23, 2010

Warm Artichoke Heart and Arugula Salad

Here is a salad I devised back in February or thereabouts, which is great in the colder months, but does just fine now in the summer time. Also, I brought it to a dinner party a month or so ago, and it was a big hit! So side or meal, it does great either way.

- Artichoke hearts marinated in oil (not brine, this is important!), 10 or so quarters per person. I use the ones from Costco for this recipe
- Pine nuts, approx one handful per person
- Arugula, 3-5 cups per person
- Grated parmesan, 1/4 cup per person, or to taste
- (and freshly ground pepper never runs amiss)

Put (washed) arugula into a bowl. Amount depends entirely on how many people you're feeding and what portion size you're going for.
Place a small to medium skillet over high heat, add pine nuts. Don't oil/butter/coat your skillet here. You are toasting the pine nuts and there is no extra fat needed to do this. Toast the pine nuts until they are golden on a few sides, 5-ish mins. Only stir them once or maybe twice.
Once the pine nuts are beautiful, toasty, and delicious-smelling, sprinkle them over the arugula.
Then put the skillet back over the heat, and add the artichoke hearts. It's ok if a little of the marinade gets in the skillet, but try for not too much, because the liquid will slow down the browning process. Brown hearts between 2-5 mins per side, depending on how brown you want your artichokes (or how quickly you want to eat, already).
Once the artichoke hearts are browned to your liking, place them over the arugula plus pine nuts. Top with parmesan, ground pepper, and a little of the artichoke heart marinade from the jar as dressing. Toss and serve!

June 13, 2010

Zucchini Couscous

This is another product of the Ruby-being-away fridge purge. I had bought zucchini, because I was in the mood for it and I was kind of thinking of making something resembling this dish. I wanted to saute the zucchini with onions and I happened to have half of a red onion left over from the beautiful toppings platter I made for yesterday's bagel lunch (it was seriously gorgeous, I regret not taking a picture). I'm glad I had it because the purple color definitely added to the visual quality of the final product. It's a pretty simple recipe, and can definitely be changed around to your liking. It's to be served warm, so I used a smaller couscous. I often make cold couscous salad (for Shabbat lunch) and I like to use the larger Israeli couscous for that. This recipe calls for seasoning (salt and pepper) at many points throughout the process; this really adds a lot to the flavor of the dish.

1 box couscous, compared according to box directions
2 zucchinis, quartered and cut into ~1/4-inch slices
1/2 large red onion, chopped roughly
~1 TBSP olive oil, to coat saute pan
Generous amount of S+P
1/4 tsp nutmeg
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat oil in pan.
Add zucchini, onions, and some S+P.
Cook for 3 minutes then add nutmeg, lemon zest, and some more salt.
Continue cooking until onions are soft and zucchini are cooked and barely starting to brown in spots.
Mix into couscous with the lemon juice and a little more S+P.
Serve warm.

Beer-Battered Chicken Fingers and Scallion Pancake

Ruby, my roommate, is away for a few days at her friends wedding and I have an excess of food in the fridge to burn through. This food supply included one lone chicken breast leftover from my special kosher supply at a friend's BBQ. I decided to make a simple beer batter for the chicken. And when I had leftover batter and hot oil just sitting there dying to fry something, I searched the fridge for something else to fry. I found some cute skinny scallions and fried them up whole, they were delicious and reminded me of scallion pancakes from Asian restaurants, so I chopped up a few scallions and mixed them into the rest of the batter to make a pancake. It was a pretty good dinner for one, if I do say so myself.

One chicken breast, cut into strips
1/2 cup+ beer
1/2 cup flour
5 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
vegetable oil for frying

Pour flour into a shallow dish and dredge chicken pieces in it. Then add 1/2 cup beer and mix until a batter forms, you may need to add a little more beer.
Heat oil in pan, about 1/4 inch deep should be fine. Keep over medium to medium-high heat.
Coat chicken pieces in batter and gently place into oil. Fry first side until golden, then flip and fry second side until golden. (Sorry, I didn't pay attention to how long this took, but give it some time; raw chicken = BAD NEWS BEARS!).

Once chicken is done, remove and drain on paper towels. You can now make the scallion pancake, but don't leave the hot oil alone!

Mix scallions into remaining batter, if you turned off the heat under the oil make sure it is hot again, then pour in the batter and the scallions and fry first side until golden brown, then flip and brown the second side. This will cook a lot faster than the chicken.

Keep in mind you can make several scallion pancakes and more than one chicken breast, just maintain the 1:1 (ish) ratio for the batter.

May 9, 2010

Peanut Sesame Noodles with Chicken

This recipe is another one of my go-to's, I make it just about every time I host a Shabbat lunch. Because as I've mentioned before, it's much easier to eat dishes meant to be served cold when you don't have a hot plate (basically the only Shabbat-approved way to heat things up). I've always enjoyed peanut sesame noodles and this recipe is a great way to stretch a buck; it can feed up to 6 people as a main dish and last week I served it (with several other dishes) to 13 people. And it only uses about a pound of chicken, if I was going to serve 6 people a chicken dish, I'd need about 3 pounds. You also can make it without the chicken, I don't think it adds too much other than making the dish a more "complete" meal. I don't know if cucumber is a common ingredient in cold sesame noodles, but my mom used to use a recipe that called for finely chopped cucumber, I like grating it right into the sauce; I think it really lightens up the flavor and adds freshness to the flavor. The pasta and chicken can be cooked in advance (I usually do it Thursday night in preparation for Saturday lunch), and the sauce can be made and mixed in right before serving. I apologize for the lack of exact measurements in the sauce, it's something I'm working on, but have failed at this juncture. I think that the measurements are really to taste, when I make the sauce it isn't super peanut-buttery, but that's the way my guests and I like it, you can make it however you want, you don't even need to use all the ingredients.


1+ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into very small strips before cooking
vegetable oil
1 lb bucatini (spaghetti with holes in it)
~5 scallions, thinly sliced
sesame seeds

Yummy Asian sauce (I got this idea from the Garlic Noodles recipe)
2 T brown sugar
2 t soy sauce
1.5 T hoisin
1 t sesame oil

Peanut Sesame Sauce
1/2 c Peanut Butter
1 T Sesame Oil
1 t Rice Vinegar
2-4 T Soy Sauce
~1 T honey
~1 t hot sauce
1-2 T brown sugar
1 T hoisin
1-4 T veg oil
1 small cucumber shredded

Bring a pot of water to boil, generously salt it, and break the bucatini (pasta) in half before dropping it in to cook; it is nearly impossible to handle if you don't break it in half, so don't forget this step. In my experience the bucatini just needs to be watched for readiness, needing at least 10 minutes, it's kind of a fickle pasta but I'm usually already at the stove cooking the chicken in the meantime, and I think the straw shape is cool. You can use any long pasta, I think thick spaghetti or thicker would be best because I'm not confident angel hair or regular spaghetti would hold up to the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, heat some oil in a pan to prevent sticking and cook up the small pieces of chicken breast. When the chicken is just about done cooking, add in the Yummy asian sauce and let it cook down a little to coat the chicken. The sauce isn't necessary, but why not give the chicken it's own flavoring. Once you're confident the chicken is cooked and coated, put it into your serving/storage dish with the cooked pasta. If you used too much oil like I occasionally do, just take the chicken out with a slotted spoon.

I usually drizzle a little sesame oil and/or vegetable oil over the pasta so it doesn't become a solid mass in the refrigerator. The noodles and chicken should be cool for this dish, but it does not need to be refrigerated overnight. I store the noodles and chicken in the same dish (in my case, a disposable aluminum pan) I plan on serving them in, it's just easier that way.

To make the sauce: Put all ingredients (except oil and cucumber) in a bowl and mix, if you are mixing with a spoon, just be patient, eventually it will all come together. When the sauce looks fairly homogeneous, it probably won't look like it will be easy to distribute over that much pasta. This is where the oil comes in, vegetable oil is flavorless, but oily (duh), so add just enough to make the sauce tossable. Then grate in the cucumber, this will probably make the sauce less attractive, but go with it.

Add the scallions and some toasted sesame seeds to the pasta and chicken, then toss it all with the sauce. Enjoy!

April 11, 2010

Shepherd's Quiche

I'm not in the most talkative of moods this evening, but I do have one word of advice: before pouring (or worse, squeezing) a condiment/dressing/bottled food product, be WELL aware of the dispenser top that said bottle has. On TWO occasions this evening I overdosed because I thought my soy sauce and my ranch dressing had that kind of top with the little hole that you have to shake and/or squeeze the bottle to dispense out of.

As you can probably tell from the name of this post, this quiche is inspired by Shepherd's pie, a well-known, delicious, all-in-one food. Unlike classic shepherd's pie, however, it is vegetarian and lacks potatoes (because I didn't have any). I filled a pie crust with a "meaty" mixture of mushrooms, onions, and Morningstar Farms meat-like crumble, included some corn, and rounded it all out with an egg/milk mixture and some cheese. I like both eating and making quiche, except for the few issues of filling leakage (solved by baking on a cookie sheet) and the edge of the crust breaking off (let me know if you've solved that one). I served this one with a(n unfortunately overdressed) salad. I used bottled ranch dressing because I was in the mood for something creamy and my fridge lacked the goods for a homemade one as it is still a post-passover wasteland.

1 premade pie crust
1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheese
2 TBSP butter
1 cube frozen chopped garlic
8 cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
3/4 cup meat-free crumbles
1/2 can corn
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
splash soy sauce

Saute garlic, mushrooms, and onions in butter until soft. Add frozen "meat" and heat through. Sprinkle some cheese on the bottom of the pie crust, then spread the "meat" mixture on top. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, soy sauce, S+P, corn and some more cheese (reserve some for the top). Pour egg mixture over the pie contents, you want the corn to sit on top of the meat like it does in shepherd's pie. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

March 17, 2010

French Toast Bread Pudding Cups

This poor challah had had a long journey. I bought it a few months ago and then froze it when it was rendered unnecessary. It was defrosted this weekend, and still not used. At this point it was too stale to eat as bread, so something had to be done. I was going to make French Toast and freeze it to be used as weekday breakfasts. But I changed my mind last minute and decided to make something resembling Bread Pudding. I can't honestly say I know how to make Bread Pudding but I can make yummy bready muffiny breakfast treats.
I froze almost all of them and took one to work for breakfast a few times. I just defrosted in in the microwave and then got the soggy out by finishing the reheat in the toaster oven.

1 large challah, at least a few days stale
4 eggs
1/4 cup half and half
3/4-1 cup skim milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP sugar
2 4 oz. cans of diced peaches in light syrup
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut challah into 1-inch cubes. Whisk together remaining ingredients (including syrup from peaches). Pour custard mixture over bread cubes in a large bowl. Bread should absorb the custard like a sponge, so mix it as well as you can. Let bread soak for about an hour, mixing a few times throughout. Your end product will be very soggy bread with few discernible chunks. Butter each cup of a muffin tin. Fill cups with mixture and top with a little melted butter and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are brown and muffins feel spongy but not wet and squishy to the touch.

March 13, 2010

Lemon Coconut Cake

Another meat Shabbat meal, another parve dessert conundrum. This time I wanted to use my new(ish) bundt pan. As we know, I'm not generally a cake-from-scratch kind of girl, so the challenge was what to do with a box of cake mix and some imagination. I decided to revisit the lemon-coconut flavor combination of a previous post. I took a chance and combined the coconut with non-dairy cream cheese and made a tunnel/swirl in the middle of my lemon cake. This tunnel ended up being a crown which suited me just fine. I think my guests liked the cake and didn't mind one bit that it was dairy-free.

Lemon Cake mix plus water, oil, and eggs
~7 oz Coconut
~6 oz Tofutti (non-dairy) Cream Cheese
3 TBSP Powdered Sugar
1 TBSP Margarine
2 TBSP Soy Milk

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Soften cream cheese and margarine.
Cream together cream cheese, margarine, soy milk, and powdered sugar, add coconut.
Mix in a little batter.
Pour half of cake batter into a prepared bundt pan, pour coconut/cheese mixture on top then add rest of cake batter.
Bake at 350 F for 38-43 minutes.
Let Cool and glaze.

1/2 a can Whipped Vanilla Frosting
1 tsp Lemon Extract

Put frosting in a bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds until it is a little thinned, then mix in extract. Pour or spoon over the cake so it looks pretty, drippy, and glazed.
Serve cake with Strawberry Sauce.

Strawberry Sauce
1/2 lb. cut-up strawberries
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 TBSP sugar

Mix together and let macerate for at least 1 hour. I filled the center cavity of the bundt cake with it, looked pretty.

Cake storage tip: I am not married and therefore have not been privy to the extreme awesomeness that is a registry, so I don't have a fancy covered cake plate. But I still need to store cakes, so I use the lid of a large plastic bowl as the plate, and the bowl as it's cover. Weird, but it works; just make sure your cake pan fits in the bowl so you don't mess up your work of art.

Nunu Cookies

Nunu is one of my dearest friends, and she absolutely LOVES peppermint. So for her birthday I chose to honor her obsession with some home baked goodies. The only other catch is that Nunu does not like cake, so that was out. I've already mentioned my love for cake mix in other applications so I decided to go with it. With a chocolate cookie, I was looking for visual and flavor contrast with the white morsels because I personally can have too much chocolate. In addition to the peppermint extract, I wanted to add a candy element. I've read some baking blogs that advise against baking with candy pieces because they essentially melt and dissolve into the batter, but why wouldn't you want that? The candy pieces I used were not necessarily visible, but they melted a little while baking and created chewy to crunchy pockets of yum in my cookies. For the candy I used I couldn't find starlight mints (the white and red stripy hard candies), but I did have some boring-looking red peppermint sucking candies that I had actually bought with Nunu in mind months ago, they did the trick. The cookies will be VERY soft when they first come out of the oven, especially if you add the extra water. I even left mine in the off oven for about 10-15 minutes, but they do get at least handle-able when they cool. There are a lot of recipes for cake mix cookies out there, and I think using butter instead of all or some of the oil may help the cookies set up more solidly. I brought the cookies to her birthday party and they were a hit! But I kinda knew they would be because I may or may not have been snacking on them for the few days between baking and gifting.

1 box devil's food cake mix
2 eggs
1/3+ cup vegetable oil
2-4 Tbsp water
1 tsp peppermint extract
~8 peppermint candies, crushed with a hammer
~1 cup white morsels (white chocolate chips)

Mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, and peppermint extract. If the batter looks wet enough to hold onto the morsels and candy chunks, go ahead and add them. If it's too dry, add some water 1-2 TBSP at a time, then add the mix-ins. Roll little balls and place on a lined baking sheet (or 2). I got about 3 dozen cookies out of the recipe.

Bake at 350 F for 8-9 minutes

Remove from oven and let cool.

March 11, 2010

Feta Lime Salad

So on Shabbat after services, it's traditional to have a nice lunch, but the catch is you can't cook on Shabbat, so unless you prepare something before sundown Friday you're stuck with raw food for lunch. I was cranky and busy last week so after services on Saturday morning, I brought my friend home with me (she was going to have cereal for lunch, I had to save her), woke up my roommate from her deep weekend slumber and threw together a salad. Now, I wasn't planning on blogging about a stupid salad I threw together; but it is with this salad that I have unearthed one of my new favorite flavor combinations: FETA and LIME!!!!! I am that excited about it, don't judge. So excited, in fact, that I decided to attempt a recreation of it for dinner tonight. I say attempt because I knowingly added a few salad ingredients, but because I make my dressings from scratch and fairly haphazardly, it is sometimes hard to recreate them. But the reason I make them from scratch is not a grandstand against bottled dressings, because we know I love processed foods that make things easier. I just like my dressings better; plus, I don't want to commit to a big bottle of same flavored salad forever because I'm rarely in the mood for the same thing for more then a few days. The original salad had everything but the apples, but they seemed like a good idea to add. I also had to use up the tofu that I didn't use in yesterday's dinner, so I made some Crispy Coconut Tofu Nuggets that I found on Cara's Cravings via my fave "food porn" site, All in all delicious. And now that we've had tofu two nights in a row, we're super super proud of ourselves. "You did good with the tofu"- Ruby, thanks Cara!

I don't like giving directions for salads, because salad recipes are really just flavor concepts. I think these things taste good together, I hope you do too, but you can chop and mix the ingredients however you choose. For the dressing just whisk it all together to taste.

Salad Ingredients:
Lettuce (Romaine and Green Leaf blend)
Feta , crumbled
Lime Zest
Red Onion
La CHoy Noodles

Dressing Ingredients:
Lime Juice
Red Wine Vinegar
Veg Oil
Hot Sauce

And an additional picture because I took it. Tuna Salad with capers, sundried tomatoes, and feta. And some Teeny Weeny potatoes roasted with garlic, rosemary, and onions.

March 10, 2010

Garlic Noodles

I (Jenna)** adapted this recipe from Budget Bytes, and I'm pretty happy with the results. This recipe for noodles or a side dish is now a full meal complete with protein (tofu) and my favorite food (mushrooms). I also had to substitute hoisin for oyster sauce because oysters aren't kosher, but both sauces are sweet and Asian-y tasting. I was super hungry and found this recipe as I was compiling my shopping list on the way out of the office. I buy mushrooms more or less every time I go shopping (ya know, the whole favorite food thing) and had bought tofu last week and wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, so I threw them both in. It was pretty good, I would maybe add more sauce to compensate for the added tofu and I would have liked a little more flavor regardless. Also, we're super proud of us for eating tofu and not complaining a.bout it, you should be too

1/2 lb angel hair pasta
4 T butter
4 cloves minced garlic*
4 scallions, chopped
6 cremini mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 t soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T hoisin sauce
toasted sesame seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Saute garlic, scallions, and mushrooms in butter until soft, add tofu and continue to cook over very low heat.
In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.
Add pasta to sauteed mixture and then mix in sauce.
Top each serving with sesame seeds.

*I used a variety of minced garlic sources because I was in the mood to switch it up and diversify my garlic flavor. I used one large clove of fresh garlic, one frozen cube of minced garlic, and 2 cloves equivalent of jarred minced garlic. I don't know if it made a difference, but I'm gonna keep thinking it did.
**I'm specifying who wrote the post early on, because Becca has thankfully rejoined the blogging world, but it has created some confusion among our followers

March 2, 2010


We went to an awesome bar called Smuggler's Cove (yes, you heard right). The best drink I had there was also the simplest, and I decided to try it on a grand scale for our New Year's Eve party. The hardest part here is juicing all of the limes.


10 limes, juiced + 2 sliced into rings
12 oz brown sugar simple syrup (1 3/4 cups brown sugar dissolved in the same amount of water)
12 oz pineapple juice
1.5 L rum
3 L water

Combine the rum (I recommend Bacardi Gold for this application, not too expensive, but good quality) with the lime juice, simple syrup, pineapple juice. I suggest making an ice block like in the Lychee Punch recipe. Pour half the mixture into a punch bowl with the lime rings, add half the volume of water. Repeat when the first batch is almost gone.

Makes approx 40 servings.

Pimm's Cup

This one is very simple, no muss, no fuss.

Pimm's Cup

750 mL Pimm's No. 1
4 lemons, juiced
48 oz lemon juice
48 oz (4 bottles) ginger ale
1/2 - 1 cucumber, sliced into spears

Combine all in a large pitcher or other receptacle. I did this 1/2 at a time, mostly so it would fit into the pitcher. It might need a little more lemon juice / ginger ale, depending on your taste. Serves 20-30... ?

Lychee Punch

We've been hosting some pretty awesome parties lately, and punches are an excellent way to get people drunk :D

I'm happy to say the punches have been a big hit, and I've been asked for the recipes by multiple people. So here's the first one...

Lychee Punch!

8-10 lemons, juiced
2.5 20 oz cans lychees in heavy syrup, pureed and strained of pulp
1.75 L vodka
750 mL triple sec
2 bottles sparkling white wine (asti works really well, i got super cheap stuff (like $4-5 bottles) and it was great)
1.5 20 oz can lychees in heavy syrup
4 pints raspberries

combine vodka, triple sec, lychee juice, lychees + syrup, lemon juice and raspberries (muddle some) in a large container for a few hours to overnight. pour half of this liquid into a punch bowl, add 1 bottle wine. repeat when necessary.

ice is also important. i poured some water into a bowl with lemon slices and put it in the freezer for at least 4 hours (it probably doesn't take that long to freeze, but i didn't want to risk it). rinse with hot water to loosen the ice from the bowl for removal. or you can make an ice ball by filling up a balloon (not all the way!) and then cutting the balloon off once the sphere is frozen. basically it is much better to have one large block of ice vs. lots of small ice cubes which will melt faster and dilute your punch.

makes approx 40 servings.

Udon with Napa Cabbage, Shiitake Mushrooms and Tofu

Last time I went to the supermarket, most of my staple veggies were looking less than prime, so I looked around and saw some very healthy looking napa cabbage instead. I've never cooked with napa cabbage before, so I looked around on the internet for some ideas. There were a lot of salads, slaws, etc. which is all well and good, but I definitely wanted a hot meal, so I decided to make this udon dish (which I've done before with bok choi) and hope for the best. And it came out really well!

1 head napa cabbage, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
12 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 package firm tofu, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch think rectangles
1 package fresh udon noodles
soy sauce
black bean sauce
tomato pickle
rice vinegar

In a large, flat bottomed skillet, heat olive oil and sesame oil adding up to about 1 Tbsp. Once the skillet is hot, place the tofu onto the skillet in one layer and leave to fry. Keep an eye on these while you start the next step. Turn them once they are fired and golden on the first side.
In a large wok, heat about the same amount of oils as in the skillet, and add the shiitakes once the wok is hot. Toss them so that most or all of the slices are lightly coated with oil. Once the mushrooms have heated a little, add a bit of soy sauce, a drizzle of molasses, a spoonful of black bean sauce, and a spoonful of tomato pickle to the shiitakes; stir. If the tofu is done by now, add it to the wok, then add the udon, and toss it all together. Or do the reverse (order isn't important). Once the udon are coated with the with the sauce and juices, add the cabbage. Pour in some vinegar and more soy sauce, to taste. Stir everything together, and add about a cup of water. Cover the wok to steam the cabbage, 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with a drizzle of sriracha, to taste.

In conclusion, I'm very glad the napa cabbage was the only good looking veggie at the supermarket last week, because it was a great success. However, this dish is equally good with bok choi.

February 21, 2010

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

I was planning on making Mardi Gras themed meringues last week but never got around to it. Nevertheless, I bought Lemon Extract (which is kinda pricey) in preparation. Today, I was hungry and in the mood to bake, and I wanted to make use of my latest baking purchase. I also had a box of Angel Food cake mix and a box of Lemon Cake mix in my pantry. I also always try to keep some coconut on hand for my Chocolate Almond Macaroons, which I will blog about the next time I make them and can photograph them. Lemon coconut it was, a delicious combination. I opted for the Angel Food cake mix, because I was in the mood for its marshmallowey goodness and it would also require the use of the Lemon Extract. I'm incredibly lazy and impatient and should really just invest in a second cupcake pan, so I overfilled my pan and only had a little batter left over; there was no way I was waiting for one batch to cook AND cool before baking a second batch. I was looking for an ovenproof bowl to bake off the rest of my batter, and came across a microwave safe over-sized mug. My aforementioned hunger led me to decide that microwaving the extra batter was a good idea. It wasn't pretty, or golden brown, but I ate it. The end product was very lightly colored (the outer cupcakes browned more than the inner ones) but the coconut gives the crusty parts a perfect chewy crispiness. I don't know if baking them in cupcake cups and not overfilling the pan would maximize crusty surface area, but it would be worth trying.

Sidebar Political Stance: Ok, maybe not really political, but a huge issue of contention in baking is to Cake Mix or not to Cake Mix? I love using Cake Mix in other applications, or just to (stealing Pillsbury's tag line) "Plus it up". I like cake mix cookies, I like taking cake and cookie mixes and adding to them. I also really like cake made from cake mix, but I fully admit that that is not really baking. Cake Mix is just a bunch of ingredients already mixed together for you. Yeah, there's all sorts of preservatives and crap in it; but it's yummy so I'm going to use it.

Sidebar Olympics Stance: I may as well use this platform to rant, let's face it the over/under on my (our? Becca? Bueller?) readership is somewhere around 5. I'm a religious follower of the Olympics and I need to say it: Johnny Weir was ROBBED!!! I'm not saying he was better than Lysacek or even Plushenko. But both his short program AND his free skate were underscored. I don't know if he was being judged on his off-ice personality or what, but there is absolutely no good reason for him to have ended the competition in 6th place. Takahashi FELL, doesn't that lower your score or something? And he just barely beat Oda (the Japanese guy with the most compelling shoelace tie ever). I and the commentators (Scott Hamilton knows his stuff!) were seriously expecting a Bronze Medal (or at least 4th) after Weir's free skate. I'm no expert, but someone please make me less mad about this. I know, I know, the 5 of you are here for the food, here's the recipe:

1 box Angel Food Cake mix
7+ oz coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Mix together cake mix, water and extract. Use a hand mixer on medium for 1 minute or just mix very well. Fold in coconut. Pour into cupcake liners or an ungreased cupcake pan so each cup is 2/3 to 3/4 full. I filled my ungreased cupcake pan to the top, but I think your product will be prettier if you don't do this. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes, but start checking every 5 minutes or so after about 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when edges are lightly browned and tops are dry.

Team USA > Canada Minestrone Soup

Absolutely AMAZING Hockey Game!

I am deep in the Olympic spirit this week. But I'm still managing to cook a little in between events or when Team USA is not playing in any non-ice dancing events. I know vegetable soups are super easy to make, but I always seem to forget this; so I decided to take a stab at it during my lazy Olympics Sunday afternoon. Also, of some inspiration, one of our moms left 2 bagged Manischewitz Minestrone soup mixes, a super-jewy product, when we moved in. My childhood memories are filled of my mom's awesome Split Pea Soup, which I'm pretty sure was made from (or at least with the help of) one of these mixes, as well as the nasty, watery failures resulting from attempts to use the other flavored soup mixes. I knew I would have to improve upon the instructions, and luckily I had the supplies I needed to add actual taste to the water. I've always liked tomato based Minestrones and Vegetable Soups; I may or may not have frequently added ketchup to my canned vegetable soups in the past. I even think that the addition of a few more spices and a higher broth:water ratio would have eliminated the need for the soup mix altogether. But now I only have one tube o' "soup" hiding in the back of my pantry. And if I do say so myself this soup is hearty and pastalicious enough for Team USA Hockey, I'll cook for you boys any day.

1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
2 cups broth
5-6 cups water
1 Tube Minestrone Soup mix
3/4-1 jar marinara sauce
1-1 1/2 cups (dry) small shells pasta
Parmesan cheese

Saute carrots in oil for 2 minutes, then add celery, saute for 1 minute, add onion and garlic and continue to cook for 3 minutes until vegetables start to brown and onions are at least translucent. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Add soup mix to boiling mixture (it's what the soup mix packet said to do). Lower the heat and cover the pot and let the soup simmer for about 25 minutes. Add the sauce, and return to a simmer for another 20-25 minutes. Puree about half of the soup; I just took an immersion blender to it and didn't puree the whole thing. Add the pasta and continue to simmer/low boil until the pasta is al dente, maybe even a bit firmer. Remove from heat and cool so you don't burn your tongue like I did. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese. It's a pretty thick soup, so you may need to add a little water when reheating leftovers. I also tried my hand at Hasselback potatoes with garlic and smoked paprika; they didn't taste particularly special, but they looked cool.

February 16, 2010

Pesto Mac

I got the idea to make this "Fancy Mac and Cheese" over a month ago, but have not found the time to make it since then. But alas, I was in the mood to cook dinner tonight, and this was really one of only a few things I had the food to make. This was also my first time making bechamel/cheese sauce, and I must say (even though, I'm not sure I did it right) it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, thanks to the basic recipe I followed. I had also bought a very interesting cheese called Mediterranean Jack, it had olives, basil, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes in it; this very flavorful cheese combined with a little of my homemade pesto was a great cheesy combination.

1.5-2 TBSP Butter
1.5-2 TBSP Flour
1.5-2 Cups Milk (I did a combo of Skim Milk and Half and Half, it's what I had)
~2 TBSP Homemade Pesto
Cheese: Mediterranean Jack and Shredded Pizza Blend
Cooked, chopped Spinach
2/3 lb cooked pasta (I used Mezze Penne)
Breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan
Optional: Sundried Tomato Garnish

Melt butter in a small saucepan, add flour and whisk together and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add Milk and S+P and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until sauce bubbles and thickens at least a little (mine didn't thicken very much). Stir in the pesto then add cheese gradually and whisk in to melt, add as much cheese as you want until it looks and tastes like you want it to. Mix in the spinach then mix in with pasta. I felt like I had more sauce than pasta so I added sauce to pasta in smallish increments; if you feel you have more pasta than sauce add pasta to sauce bit by bit. This is all very subjective, your food should look and taste like YOU want it to. Put sauced pasta into a baking dish and top with breadcrumbs and parmesan (and a little melted butter if you want to go even more decadent), bake for 10-20 min at 350 degrees F until lightly browned.

Also, I made this for dinner last night, just without the arugula. It was amazing and I can't wait to make it again. Here is my less pretty picture.

January 26, 2010

Tuna Croquettes

Tuna Croquettes are my go-to recipe. Seriously, when we had just moved into our apartment, I made them with crushed up saltines and seasoned them with Salt and Pepper only. That particular version was not great, but when you add the onion and herbs, they are awesome! So when I was asked to participate in a recipe exchange a few months back this is what I immediately sent to my designated recipient off the top of my head. When we had this for dinner last week I also made "Authentic Greek Salad" modeled after a salad served at a diner near my grandparents' house in Valley Stream, Long Island. I also love that salad, but overall it is very similar to the Greek Salad with Tuna I previously blogged about. The basic recipe is: Romaine, Scallions, Dill, Feta, YUM!

Below is my recipe exchange e-mail, it is that simple.

Hey Rachel,

Here's my recipe for Tuna Croquettes, I don't have exact measurements and there is a lot of room for substitution. You can also adjust the amount you make pretty easily as long as the final mixture forms patties, I usually do one can of tuna per person if this is the main part of my meal.

3 cans tuna (I've even done it with leftover cooked fish like haddock)
2 eggs
~1/2 cup (more or less) of breadcrumb-like substance (this could be panko bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs, matzo meal [I think this was originally a Passover recipe] or even smashed up potato chips)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or dill or anything)
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper
oil for frying

mix everything but the oil together until it can form patties. 3 cans of tuna usually makes 6-7 croquettes. fry the patties in the oil for a few minutes on each side (until brown and a little crispy). I usually drain them on paper towels before serving.


January 22, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Meringues

Ruby and I were invited to our friends' apartment for Shabbat lunch. Proper etiquette in this situation is to offer to bring something. But me being my big-headed "culinarily-skilled" self, I responded with: "What can we bring? I cook, so if you want me to actually make or bake something, I'd be glad to." I was then asked to bake something, and it had to be Parve, because we would be having meat at lunch. This presented a challenge. Observant Jews are cursed with a whole variety of nasty desserts made with non-dairy substitutes. I was not going to make one of these, I was having a classy food week (Jeff and I made Orange-Rosemary Shortbread on our day off and I made Roasted Greens Panzanella for dinner one night); plus, there is no reason for it when the lovely dairy-free option of meringues exists. I decided on meringues and then as I was falling asleep the night before I was due to make them, the idea of flavoring them in the spirit of Mexican Hot Chocolate dawned on me, and in my deliriously tired state I thought it was quite genius; I still think it's a pretty good idea. After 2 failed attempts yielding sticky meringues, I sought baking counseling and put in a last ditch effort. I am SO happy I tried it again because they came out melt-in-your-mouth perfectly.


2 egg whites
pinch of salt
half a capfull white or cider vinegar
3-4 dashes hot sauce
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
demerara/turbinado sugar "in the raw"


Preheat oven to ~250 degrees F.

Beat egg whites on low speed (most recipes say it's best when they are at room temperature) until just before they form soft peaks. Add salt, vinegar (or cream of tartar), hot sauce and vanilla, then continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar in at least 2 increments so that it has time to dissolve. Turn up mixer speed and beat until mixture is glossy and forming stiff peaks. Add in cocoa powder and cinnamon and beat on high for one minute. Any movement made in the batter at this point should leave a track.

Transfer mixture into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with a cut corner. Pipe small meringue dots onto a lined baking sheet. I used a reusable baking sheet liner, I have no idea what it is or what it's made of (it's definitely not parchment or silicone), but I credit it and my friend Jeff with the success of the third try on this recipe.

Sprinkle each dot with some sugar in the raw. And place the sheet in the oven for 2 hours. After 2 hours turn the oven off and let the meringues continue to cool and dry in the oven with the door closed for at least another hour.

Because I took a picture of it, this is what my Panzanella looked like. I followed Giada's recipe for the most part, but we know I'm not a fan of exact measurements. I hit it with some grated Parmesan and served it with "fried" eggs which was the perfect companion.

January 11, 2010

Teriyaki Noodles

So I know it's been a while since I last blogged, but I got inspired by the stuff in my fridge. I bought these precooked noodles last week, and I wasn't quite sure what I'd do with them, even in the end I don't think I used them properly. This dish tasted delicious, but I think the execution would have been easier had my noodles not been all stuck together.


1 bunch asparagus, sliced into 1" pieces on the bias
1 container sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
1 package thin precooked asian noodles
1-2 TBSP roasted sesame seeds
2 eggs, beaten

I created a sauce and called it Teriyaki

1/2 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp ginger, chopped or grated
2 TBSP sugar
5-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced or grated


Mix together all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Then pour into a skillet and heat until the sauce bubbles, then let it keep bubbling for a little under a minute. The bubbling is the sugar melting and thickening the sauce and the oil frying the other ingredients bringing out their flavors. Add the white part of the scallion, the mushrooms, and the asparagus and mix to coat the veggies in the sauce. Cover with a pan lid or some foil, or a contraption consisting of both. While the veggies are cooking down (stir them occasionally), prepare the noodles according to the package directions. The poorly translated directions on my package said to add cold water and fry to desired crispness, I sort of fudged it in some semblance of that. Once the veggies cook down and the sauce gets more watery from the moisture in the vegetables being trapped under the cover, remove the cover and add the green part of the scallion. After some of the liquid cooks off, add some (or all if your pan is big enough) of the noodles and mix everything together. Add in the beaten eggs and mix until eggs are cooked, as the eggs cook they will coat the noodles and veggies, you don't want chunks of scrambled eggs. Add sesame seeds and toss with the rest of the pasta. Top each serving with more sesame seeds.

Greek Salad with Tuna

After a long day (about a month ago) of shopping for me and work for Ruby we wanted a light dinner (with some protein, of course). So a salad it was. The dressing turned out really well, because the capers and onions are chopped together before being whisked into the dressing with the other ingredients, it's important to spoon it on.

Greek Tuna Salad
Green Leaf Lettuce
English Cucumber
Feta Cheese
Tuna (1 can per 2 servings)

1/4 red onion, chopped finely
dill from a tube
red wine vinegar
olive oil