Monday, April 17, 2006

Cocoa-almond-honey rolls

I adapted these from the honey bee no bakes recipe on shmooedfood

1.5 c oat bran
generous 1/8 cup cocoa powder
1 T vanilla
generous 1/4 cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey
Maple syrup, as needed

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients
Knead well with your hands
To help the mixture stay together add a bit of maple syrup, or a bit more
almond butter depending on how sweet you want it

Pinch off bits of the dough, roll into balls and place in a container

I snacked on these all day yesterday, but I wisely put a bunch aside as snacks for this week.

Really simple, quick and somewhat healthy treats!

UPDATE: I made these again last night but without the honey (used maple syrup instead), added cinammon, no vanilla and used more cocoa powder and I think they came out better. The taste was similar to a dark-chocolate almond truffle.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Matzoh and Cheese Pie

Matzoh and cheese pie

This is a traditional Passover recipe from Greece - it tastes like boureakas pie!
I think it would go great with tomato soup and/or a large green salad.
The cheese is salty enough so that I didn't need to add any salt, but be sure to taste the cheese mixture
to make sure it tastes good to you.

Serves 8

Total of 1 lb of cheese - use a mixture of feta, cheddar, jack and mozz (1/4 lb each; save a bit for topping)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped dill
6 eggs, seperated
6 - 8 matzohs, enough to line the pan in two full layers

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Oil a 10 x 14 x 2 inch baking pan

In a bowl, mix together the cheeses, olive oil and dill
In a seperate bowl whisk together the egg yols until creamy
Add the yolks into the cheeses
In another bowl, beat together the egg whites until stiff peaks form
Fold egg whites into cheese and yolk mixture

In a shallow dish large enough to hold about half the matzohs place half the matzohs and cover with water
Let rest for 3 minutes for the matzoh to soften, then drain and use them to line the pan

Cover the matzoh layer with the cheese and egg mixture

Soak the remaining matzohs and use them to top the cheese and egg mixture

Sprinkle the top with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 30 - 40 minutes, until brown on top

Friday, April 07, 2006

Favorite cookbooks

I've been asked to list my favorite cookbooks, so here they are:

Some of the best cookies, brownies and breads I've made recently come from the following two:
vive le vegan

everyday vegan

Great meal ideas, simple recipes:
fresh food fast

I bought this mainly because it had a lot of recipes for foods I ate as a kid, and it has been used quite often. The bourekas recipe is my favorite thing in here (there is also a great recipe for bulgur patties that you can buy at Soul Veg.):
the foods of israel today

Simple, elegant and fast recipes, with beautiful pictures and really helpful tips:
the instant cook

Sephardic cooking has always appealed to me, and this book is filled with great recipes and is incredibly veggie friendly:
sephardic flavors

I got this cookbook probably 10 years ago. The breakfast and muffin recipes are wonderful, and there is a recipe for an italian rice pudding cake that I adore:
essential vegetarian cookbook

A great vegetarian cookbook, with recipes from around the world:
olive trees and honey

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Passover - NY Times article

I thought this was pretty interesting.

April 5, 2006
It's Passover, Lighten Up

WHEN Emily Moore, a Seattle-based chef and instructor, was invited to consult on recipes for Streit's Matzo, she assumed that the baked goods would have their traditional heft, because no leavening can be used during Passover.

Not so, said Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, a member of a prominent rabbinic dynasty, who oversees the company's ritual observances. Let the cookies and cakes rise, he told her. Let there be baking soda and baking powder.

"He acted like I was crazy," Ms. Moore said.

The biblical prohibition against leavened bread at Passover — which begins on Wednesday night — has kept observant Jews from using any leavening at all. Cakes and cookies of matzo meal (ground matzo), matzo cake meal (which is more finely ground) and nuts can be tasty, but dense.

So it will surprise many Jews — it certainly surprised me — that among the profusion of products that most Orthodox certification agencies have approved for Passover are not just baking soda, but also baking powder.

Some rabbis are lifting other dietary prohibitions that they say were based on misunderstandings or overly cautious interpretations of biblical sanctions, and because they want to simplify the observance.

"The holiday has become overly complicated, and people are turning away from the rigorous practice of it," said Rabbi Jeffrey A. Wohlberg, the senior rabbi at conservative Adas Israel Congregation in Washington.

Last year, Rabbi Wohlberg said it was permissible for his congregants to eat legumes, called kitniyot in Hebrew. They are usually beyond the pale at Passover for the most rigorous observers, but are increasingly accepted by many Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, particularly in Israel.

"I have also talked to a lot of young mothers over the years whose children, for example, are lactose intolerant and want to use soy milk," Rabbi Wohlberg said. "But soy is a bean and hasn't been permissible."

The restrictions have their roots in the Book of Exodus, which tells of how the Israelites fled Egypt in such haste that they could not let their bread rise and become "chometz" in Hebrew. Only unleavened bread, matzo, is eaten during the eight days of Passover, in memory of the Israelites' hardships and in celebration of their escape from slavery.

"No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory" during Passover, it was written. But, as Ms. Moore said, "There is a lot of misunderstanding about what leavening means for Passover."

Jews avoid flour or grains, for fear that they might become leavened even without the addition of yeast. (Matzo meal, since it's already been baked, is less likely to rise and become leavened.)

Matzo, a simple mixture of flour and water, must be made in less than 18 minutes to avoid the possibility that the dough could ferment and then rise before being baked. "The Talmud says that it should take no longer to make matzo than the time to walk a Roman mile, which later generations understood to be 18 minutes," said Dr. David Kraemer, professor of Talmud and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

At Passover, some ultra-Orthodox Jews will not eat matzo that has become wet, including matzo balls. Instead of matzo meal, or the fine matzo cake meal, they use potato starch in cakes and other dishes.

But rabbis in even some of the most Orthodox associations say chometz does not refer to all leavening.

"There is nothing wrong about a raised product at Passover per se," said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, executive rabbinic coordinator and chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union's kosher division, the oldest and most widely accepted certifier of kosher foods.

Lise Stern, author of "How to Keep Kosher" (Morrow, 2004), said: "Chometz, which means sharp or sour, denotes bread that has a sourness to it caused by fermentation, occurring when liquid is added to any of the five grains mentioned in the Torah. This refers to yeast, not baking powder or baking soda."

Rabbi Soloveichik said: "They're just minerals. What do we care about minerals?"

While kosher for Passover baking soda and baking powder can be hard to find in supermarkets, they have been available in Orthodox neighborhoods for years. Erba Food Products, of Brooklyn, made kosher for Passover baking powder in the late 1960's.

Ms. Moore, who creates kosher recipes for the Elliott Bay Baking Company in Seattle, adjusted recipes for matzo meal, which is heavier than flour, to make vanilla sesame, lemon ginger and double chocolate mocha cookies with baking soda or baking powder (made with potato starch, not corn starch, which is made from a grain that is avoided).

The ban on legumes is connected to the ban on leavening. Jews in medieval Europe began to keep beans and lentils, as well as grains, from the Passover table because until modern times they were often ground into flour. The use of rice and corn were later restricted, too, by some Jews. But Sephardic Jews of the Middle East continued to eat them at Passover.

Over the past few years legumes have become accepted for Passover by the Israeli Army and the Masorti movement (as Conservative Judaism is known in Israel) partly because of increased intermarriage between Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi Jews, as those of European descent are called.

A delicious Moroccan Passover dish of shad and fava beans takes advantage of the freer interpretation of the Passover pantry and the bounty of spring.

The Passover table has changed in many ways. More than 21,000 kosher for Passover items are available in the United States, with 500 new ones this year, said Menachem Lubinsky, president of Lubicom, a marketing firm specializing in kosher food.

With such items as Passover pasta (made from potato starch), quinoa salads, tricolored matzo balls, and ingredients like grape seed oil, kosher organic chickens and matzo breadsticks, a lot of the suffering is being taken out of Passover.

In the weeks before Passover, many homes are rigorously cleaned, and every bit of chometz or leavening removed. Some people avoid cooking in their newly cleaned homes by going to a resort that is kosher for Passover, a practice that in the past few years has been boosting business in the Caribbean and around the country during a traditionally slow period.

At the Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and Country Club in Puerto Rico, Robin Mortkowitz, a therapist in Fairlawn, N.J., who became Orthodox when she married, was swept away by new foods like sushi made from quinoa, the sesame-seed-sized kernel cultivated in the Andes that many certifying agencies have ruled is not a forbidden grain.

"With people becoming more sophisticated, we have to step up the food program," said Sol Kirschenbaum, an owner of Levana restaurant in New York, which arranged the food at the Hyatt. "It's wild mushrooms and grilled rack of lamb, but I still need to have chicken soup and gefilte fish for the 60- to 90-year-olds."

Kosher companies are also sprucing up their food. Susie Fishbein, author of the popular "Kosher by Design" series of cookbooks, said she is creating recipes for the Manischewitz Web site and food boxes, like tricolored matzo balls with green spinach, yellow turmeric and red tomato paste, using olive oil instead of schmaltz.

"Companies like Manischewitz can't survive on kosher gefilte fish anymore," Ms. Fishbein said. "A whole new generation of cooks is looking for fresh ideas."

But some still find beauty in tradition. When the cookbook author Tamasin Day-Lewis made a flourless almond cake with a fresh orange and mandarin syrup for a party recently, some of her guests who were Jewish said, "This is perfect for Passover."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


By request I am beginning to compile some Pesach recipes.
My mom sent me a cookbook just for Passover, but I've never tried to make anything from it because the recipes all seem very fancy.
I also picked up an issue of Gourmet magazine because it had some Passover recipes in it, so I think it might be a fancy Passover in Chicago this year.

I cursory websearch also turned up a vegan matzoh ball recipe from the ppk , and the comments section for that recipe gets into whether or
not tofu is kosher for Passover.

Every Passover at my parents' house we always have matzoh ball soup (my mom tops hers with a cinnamon and sugar mixture, leading to a debate between her and my dad as to whether Lithuanians or Ukrainians have better food which usually ends with my dad saying that Lithuanian Jews are snobby), tzimmes and gefilte fish. Both of my grandmothers made their gefilte fish from scratch - my dad's mom was famous for hers and we'd always have a lot of people come over the first and second seders just to eat her cooking. My mom's mom made hers with a tomato puree topping which was amazing. I do not think I will make my own anytime soon, but I always feel bad for people whose only taste of gefilte fish is from the jarred kind. That is what we eat now, unless we go to my sister's in-law's house where we eat the Polish version, which is too sweet for me. My mom also makes matzoh bagels every year which are small and greasy little things, almost like donuts. They are addictive.

One of my favorite Passover snacks is also the simplest: peanut butter and jelly on matzoh.

Legumes, grains and frozen cherries

This past weekend I made a chickpea polenta that was a bit weird. I keep forgetting that I am not the biggest fan of oregano and thyme, and this recipe was heavy on both. I think I'll try it again, perhaps with cumin and curry instead. I topped the polenta with olives, cherry tomatoes, onion and parmesan before putting it under the broiler for a minute. All in all, the top was good, the spices not so much.

I also made a quinoa risotta with arugula, shitake mushrooms and onions. That was pretty good and really simple to make. I'll post that recipe when I get a chance.

Both recipes came from the new mayo clinic cookbook

The best thing I made for this week was a cherry and apple crisp.
I chopped up two apples, added a bit of lemon juice, 2 cups of frozen cherries, lots of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg for the base. As a binder, I combined some maple syrup and arrowroot (otherwise this thing would be ultra soggy), and topped the whole thing with some ground oats I had in the pantry, more cinnamon, a bit of canola oil and ground flaxseed. After about 45 minutes in the oven it was done and it's so good. I forget how much I love cherries and the frozen cherries I had tasted as good as fresh ones!