Kreplach

Matzoh Balls are for Passover, Kreplach are for Rosh Hashana.  That’s our family tradition.  For those of you who spent part of today trying to get a head start on the holidays, here is what we prepared in our kitchen.  Chicken soup, two kinds of Challot and Kreplach.

Kreplach

Cooked soup chicken ( I used 5 of the thighs from the pot of chicken soup)

2 medium onions, finely chopped

3 Tbs oil

4 Tbs chicken soup

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Saute onions in oil over low flame till golden brown.  Chop the soup chicken by hand in a wooden bowl, using a hackmesser.  Add sauteed onions, salt and pepper, and 3 Tbs chicken soup. Mix well.

Place 1 tsp chicken mixture into center of each wonton skin. Dip your finger in water and wet the outer edge of each skin before sealing the kreplach to create a better seal.

Place the kreplach on a cookie sheet and freeze.  When frozen, remove from sheet and place in freezer bag.  On the day you plan to serve the kreplach, line a cookie sheet with wax paper, separate kreplach on sheet and allow to defrost. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.  Drop kreplach in, a few at a time,  for about two minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and place  2-3 in the bottom of each soup bowl and set aside. When you are ready to serve, add piping hot chicken soup to bowl.

Alternative preparation: Norm fried some up (see above) and froze them. They just need to thaw out and sit in the hot soup for a few minutes.

Yield: 40 Kreplach

Here is a photo and a link to the King Arthur Four Recipe for this challah.  We tested one out last week and loved it!

Harvest Apple Challah

Shana Tovah,

Irene

Potatonik

It was 1965 and suddenly all the lights went out.  We were experiencing what eventually was called the  Northeast Blackout.  My sister and I were home from school but my father had not yet returned from work.  The single most significant memory that I have of that evening is watching the women come out of their apartments in our pre-war, five story walk-up, and converge on the landing and the stairwells leading to the 4th floor, our floor.  The women seemed to find comfort just by being in each other’s presence.  We held candles and listened to transistor radios waiting to hear the explanation for the darkness that swept over New York City.  Did we share food?  My sister said we didn’t.  According to the accounts I read, the blackout took place at 5:27 so it was definitely dinner time.  How many hours did we spend sitting together on the cold tile floor?  What time did my father finally return home?  I will never know the answers to some of my questions but what I do know is that I learned a valuable and powerful lesson that night.  I learned how women of different backgrounds and cultures can join together and become a community, even in the midst of a blackout.
Fanny, one of the women there that evening, was my mother’s closest friend and confidant.  She and her husband Morris, along with her daughters Sara and Liba, lived on the first floor of our building.  Fanny and my mother often spent their days together, marketing and strolling arm in arm down the Grand Concourse.  She was from Vilna, and her food and Yiddish was different than my Mom’s. They both had hearts of gold, daughters who adored them, and made potato kugel.  I think their recipes were similar but of course my mother called it potatonik and Fanny called it potato teighetz.  Either way, it was delicious.

P.S. My mother never served a kugel without the corner missing, (always tasting it in the kitchen first), a tradition I have carried on.

Potatonik

4 large Russet potatoes

2 large onions

3 eggs

3/4 cup matzoh meal

6 Tbsp canola oil

2 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Chop onions and sauté in  3 Tbs canola oil until onions are caramelized and golden. Put in large mixing bowl.  Cut potatoes in sixths and add to food processor.  Process till potatoes are finely minced and add to onions.  Mix in 3 eggs, salt and pepper, matzoh meal and 1 Tbs oil.  Place 2 Tbs oil in a 9 by 13 pan and put in oven for about five minutes.  Pour potato mixture into hot pan, smoothing the top with whatever oil rises to the corners of the pan.  Bake till dark golden brown, about one hour.  Don’t forget to taste the corner before serving!  Note:  I prefer a thin kugel to a thick one.  It’s all about the crust.  When you pour the kugel into the pan make sure it is not TOO thick unless you prefer it that way.  Place extra mixture in an extra pan.  OR adjust cooking time to make sure kugel is brown and crusty.  ALSO, the mixture should be thick like oatmeal so if it is too loose, add extra matzoh meal.

Enjoy,
Irene

Hatch Chiles

Last summer my son David was visiting us with his girlfriend Elizabeth.  At one point I looked at her and said
“he can be a challenge” but her immediate response was, “he’s worth it.”  As parents we all want our children to find that person who loves and accepts them for who they are, and if and when that happens it’s pretty wonderful.  A week ago today, my son proposed to Elizabeth and she accepted.  Several days later they arrived in Los Angeles along with Elizabeth’s parents Nancy and Larry, and her sister Irene. My daughter Shira also flew in and together our families celebrated this wonderful occasion. We open our home and our hearts to Elizabeth, Nancy, Larry, Irene and Alexander and welcome them to our family.

They flew in from Houston, Texas, where Elizabeth is from, and arrived bearing gifts.  Salsas, hot sauce and a bag of fresh Hatch Chiles.  I had never seen or heard of a Hatch Chile but I rose to the challenge, did lots of research, and prepared them for Shabbat dinner.  I wasn’t sure if they were mild or hot so I decided to prepare them very simply, wanting to taste the chile without it being overwhelmed by other flavors. I charred them on the grill till the skins were blackened, peeled them, and then sprinkled them with sliced green onions, lemon juice,  fresh diced tomato and salt and pepper.  They were a perfect side to the barbecued chicken but I sat there wondering how they would taste with cheese sprinkled on top or sliced up and mixed into eggs.  I guess this is just the beginning.  Stay tuned or better yet, if you have any Hatch Chile recipes, please share them.

Hatch Chiles

6 Hatch Chiles

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 scallions

1 lemon

1 large tomato

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse chiles and cook whole on grill till completely charred.  Carefully peel skins. Place on platter and sprinkle with thinly sliced scallions. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and a finely diced tomato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Enjoy,

Irene

Peanut Butter Cookies

On the corner of our apartment building was a candy store.  It was the typical corner store of that period (1950s) with a counter and bar stools where you could order your soda fountain treats.  I would often stop in after school or on the weekend and buy a candy bar.  My all time favorites were Baby Ruth or Chunky, but I also liked anything made with peanut butter.  Butterfingers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mary Janes, James Peanut Butter Chews and Abba-Zaba bars.  My parents never ate peanut butter so I have no idea where I developed a taste for it. (although my father did discover peanut butter in his 80s and decided that it was perfectly paired with sliced tomatoes)  Like many foods there are two sides to the peanut butter debate, those who prefer the creamy variety (my daughter) or the crunchy type (me.)  The wonderful thing about eating peanut butter is that with one bite you are transported  right back to your childhood when life was messy, gooey, salty and sweet, just as it should be.

Here is the classic recipe for peanut butter cookies. You can use any variety of peanut butter, I used extra crunchy.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups Skippy extra crunchy peanut butter

1 stick sweet butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl sift together baking powder and flour.

In a large bowl, combine and beat sweet butter, sugar, and peanut butter.  Add lightly beaten egg and mix.  Slowly add flour mixture.

Using slightly less than a tablespoon per cookie, roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down gently to flatten. Then using the tines of a fork make your cross-hatch pattern on top of each cookie.  Cookies should be about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for about 15 minutes or till golden brown.

Enjoy,
Irene

Baking Day

I was anticipating a lazy Sunday morning but when I woke up and made my way into the kitchen I found Norm busy baking. Other than an excercise class that I took, we have spent half the day in the kitchen. I couldn’t resist sharing some photos of the fruits of our labor. Hope you enjoy them!

Irene

Letting the baguettes rise

Fini!

Boule bread baking in pot

Great job Norm!

Crusty Rolls

New batch of blueberry buns

Blueberry Turnover

Chicken Fricassee

For over eighteen years Norm and I would pile our three kids into the blue Volvo station wagon on Friday afternoons and head down to Palm Springs where Norm’s parents would rent a condo every winter.  Pinnie and Lil were snow-birds, leaving behind their home in Toronto and flying West to enjoy six weeks of sunshine and warm weather and, of course, their grandchildren.  The parents of our close friends vacationed in the same complex which meant that the children had their friends, we had ours, and Bubbie and Zaidie had us all. Some years my sisters-in-law and their families would come in from Canada or Israel, giving the cousins the opportunity to spend time together. Our days were spent sitting at the pool relaxing, and watching the kids play Marco Polo. There were also hikes in Joshua Tree, tennis matches, outings to the local flea market, February birthday celebrations, and of course, many meals. After the inevitably long trip from Los Angeles, we knew that Bubbie and Zadie were waiting on the other end keeping Shabbat dinner warm.  We often made it just in time for supper, and we could predict with a fair amount of certainty what that would be.  It would include either vegetable or chicken soup, cornflake coated chicken, salad, and the all time favorite, chicken fricassee.  I had never heard of fricassee before I met my mother-in-law.  It is a delicious stew of chicken balls and wings, cooked together in a slightly sweetened tomato based sauce and it was the perfect dish to eat after a long, trying car trip.  The chicken balls were tender, the wings would fall apart as you ate them, and the sauce would soak into the mashed potatoes.  As often as I have I made this dish, it never tastes exactly like Lil’s.  I have gone over the recipe with her many times but maybe you have to be a Bubbie to get it just right.  We are going to Toronto in October to visit Bubbie and Zaidie and maybe with a little luck and a BIG hint, we will have fricassee waiting when we arrive.

*August 7th is Lil’s 85th birthday and we all wish you a Happy Birthday!!!  See you soon.

Lil’s Chicken Fricassee

10 chicken wings, cut at the joint

Meatballs

2 lbs. ground chicken

1 large onion, finely diced

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

2 Tbsp ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into balls. Set aside.

Sauce

1- 29 oz. can tomato sauce

1-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 large brown onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a very large pot.  Bring to a boil and stir.  Add wings first and then carefully add chicken balls. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook fricassee for about two hours.

Enjoy,

Irene