Anna’s Goulash

I wish I could capture the smell of the goulash simmering in my kitchen.  All I can say is that I wanted you to have this recipe while you still had the chance to make it.  It smells that good!  Bay leaves, a touch of sweetness from the sugar, the tartness of tomato paste, all combined with good beef chuck, cooking for hours.

The only tricky part was the thickening, so after putting a call in to Anna’s cell, she appeared at the door to rescue me.  She mixed the flour and water and just added 1 tbsp of the mixture to the pot and it thickened perfectly.  No lumps in sight.

Shana Tovah!

Anna’s Goulash

3 pounds chuck, cut into stew size pieces

salt and pepper to tastet

2  tbsp paprika

1 large onion, diced

2  6 oz. cans of tomato paste

1/2 cup sugar

3 Bay Leaves

16 peppercorns

2 tbsp flour mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

Oil as needed

Season beef with salt, pepper and paprika.  In a large pot, sauté chuck in 2 -3 Tbsp oil till browned.  Do in batches if necessary.  Meanwhile take a frying pan and sauté chopped onion in about 3 Tbsp oil till golden brown.  Add onions to browned beef.  Empty both cans of tomato paste in to the frying pan, mix in sugar, and stir for about five minutes.  Add to beef pot.  Cover beef with water by about 1/2 inch.  Add bay leaves and peppercorns, gently stir and cover pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for about 3 hours.  About 30 minutes before beef is ready, in a small bowl, stir flour and water till smooth and well mixed.  Take a tablespoon of mixture and add to stew.  Stir in and allow to thicken.  Use more if needed, depending on how thick you like your stew.  I only used 1 tablespoon.  Serve over noodles or Koptkas.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

 

Kopytka (Polish Noodles)

With Rosh Hashana just a few days away, this morning Norm and I began preparing in earnest.  We made 12 Challot between the two of us, some of which are being shipped to the kids on the East Coast.  Since I already had a cake to send to my daughter, I decided to bake Oatmeal Cookies and Ginger Crinkles for my son and daughter-in-law.

I hadn’t spent much time thinking about a menu for the holidays, although I knew dinner would include some standard dishes, like home-made Challot, chicken soup with Kreplach, fish, vegetables, chicken and some type of beef.  I needed inspiration for the main courses and last week it arrived in unexpected ways.  My Machatenista sent me a link with some recipes, one of which was chicken with dried fruit and honey and so, to my surprise, ( and I am sure to her surprise as well) Nancy ended up helping me with the menu.  Then I had lunch with two old friends, one of whom had just lost her Mom.  We sat and talked about our children, our mothers, the holidays, and food, and that’s when Anna G. shared her recipe for Goulash.  I decided that a stew would help balance some of the sweetness of the meal but I wasn’t quite sure what to serve with it.  Always trying to incorporate a dish that my mother would make, I decided to prepare a thick Polish noodle called Kopytka, which actually means “little hooves”.  It is the perfect size, shape and density for a thick hearty stew, a noodle that can “sop” up the sauce.   I have to warn you, this is not as quick or easy as it looks, but it did make me feel as if my Mom was in the kitchen with me, for hours and hours.

Shana Tovah to all of you. 

 

 

Kopytka

The more common version is made with boiled potatoes but this is the way my mother prepared these hearty noodles.

4 eggs

2 Tbs oil

1 Tbs salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cups water

6 cups flour and more as needed.

In a bowl mix eggs with oil and add salt and pepper.  Mix in water, and gradually add flour till dough is workable.  Dough needs to be firm enough to roll into ropes.  On a floured board, take a portion of the dough and roll into a 1″ thick rope.  Slice on the diagonal, about 1/2″ pieces.  Repeat till you have used all of the dough.  Toss some flour on the noodles so they don’t stick together.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (throw in some Telma or Osem for extra flavor), and throw in the Kopytka, about 10 at a time.  Once they float to the top, cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon and allow to cool in one layer on baking sheet.  Serves 10 -12.

Enjoy,

Irene



 

Persian Rice with Tadig

Rice was a staple in my mother’s kitchen. Always prepared in the most basic way, it was never the centerpiece of the meal but occupied the role of ” the starchy” side dish.  My mother bought Uncle Ben’s and cooked it in salted boiling water.  Period.  There were two ways that it was served, with hot milk and sugar for a dairy meal, and in sort of a sticky mass for meat meals.  The rice didn’t elicit any response when it came to the table, it was like eating white bread, just sort of there.  My mother was a great cook so I attribute this lack of imagination to the fact that she grew up in Poland where I am sure she was raised eating potatoes (which she always prepared well and in numerous ways) but, of course, my sister disagrees.

The first time I tasted Persian rice with Tadig was when my children began attending a Jewish Day School in Los Angeles that had a large Persian population.  The special preparation of this dish produces a tender, fluffy and fragrant rice that is covered with a thick, pale yellow crust (tadig).  The crust is both chewy and crunchy, and since there is only one layer of it, everyone wants to get an even share. 

I was determined to learn how to prepare Tadig and so over the years I have tried various recipes, this being the one that I now use.  For those of us who live in Los Angles, Persian rice is not a particularly unusual or exotic dish, but for those of you who live in other parts of the country, I encourage you to try this.  It may take a little getting use to, but I promise that it’s worth the effort.  You’ll never be satisfied with a bowl of Uncle Ben’s again.

rice after soaking in water

rice formed into a pyramid

rice with lid wrapped in tea towel

 Persian Rice with Tadig

2 cups Basmati Rice

salt

4 cups water

4 Tbs corn oil

1/4 tsp turmeric

2 Tbs water

Rinse rice and place in bowl.  Submerge rice in warm water and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Bring a wide-bottomed pot filled with 4 cups of salted water to a rapid boil.  Add the rice and cook for 8 minutes. Drain.

Wipe pot dry with a paper towel.  Place 3 Tbs of the oil in the pot, add the turmeric and stir.  Tilt pan to cover entire bottom with oil.  Pour rice into pan, making sure that the bottom of the pan is covered with rice.  Then gently pull extra rice towards the center to form a pyramid.  Sprinkle rice with remaining oil.  Cover lid with a dish towel and tie on the top.  Cover pot, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Then lower heat ( as low as possible)  and cook for at least 30- 45 more minutes.  Crust will form on bottom.  Invert and serve with crust on top.  Serves 6-8 people

Enjoy,
Irene

Chocolate Cake


Rosh Hashana is approaching and as usual there is a feeling of anticipation and excitement about what the New Year will bring.  Pouring over tattered recipes, trying to decide between making a traditional meal or trying something new, choosing which Challah recipe to use and do we want a sweet chicken or savory.  Will I make my mother’s apple cake, not because it is the best, but because it was the apple cake that she made, and when I make it I am reminded of her.  Of course, there are the guests, because what would a Yontif celebration be without guests.  For me that is the best part, the pull of the holidays to bring the family and friends home.  Not sure who will be here, but hopefully some calls will trickle in, and I will be grateful to share my table.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Susan T.  who raved about the results.  She was right, the cake is light and chocolaty and not too sweet.  It is a perfect cake for a birthday celebration.

Happy Birthday Shira!

Susan’s Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups cold water

1 cup oil

1 tbs vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 9″  round pans or two round pans and one loaf pan.  Sift together first five ingredients.  In another bowl, mix water, oil and vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients and combine.  Add chocolate chips and divide batter into pans.

Bake about 25-30 minutes, till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serves 8-10

Enjoy,

Irene

Beef Stew

You can usually differentiate between a weeknight meal and Shabbat dinner by what’s cooking in the kitchen.  On a Friday afternoon there is the hint of yeast from freshly baked challot, mingled with the spicy smells of some kind of side dish (often made with large amounts of garlic), and the scent of slow roasting beef or chicken.  Sometimes there is the subtle but definitive aroma of chicken soup simmering on the stove.  Somehow all of this sets the mood for Shabbat, like a forshpeis (appetizer) for the senses.  For me Shabbat dinner means being with family or friends, and good food and wine always enhance the experience.

We recently spent Shabbat at the beach house of our friends Sheila and Alan.  Arriving on Friday afternoon,  the first thing you noticed was the wonderful smells coming from the direction of the kitchen.  Something, yet unknown to me, was cooking but you could identify the red wine, garlic and beef.  It was Beef Stew, a version of Boeuf Bourguignon, a daunting dish to prepare, mainly because of its long association with Julia Child, and then more recently with the movie, Julie and Julia.  It is a dish I have never attempted to make in this traditional French method, mainly out of fear that it could never meet my own expectations or anybody else’s.
And here is the beauty of preparing Shabbat dinner for friends.  It affords you the opportunity to stretch yourself in the kitchen.  If you are going to spend hours cooking, you want the end result to be equal to the effort.  This dish met our expectations and more, especially in light of the fact that Sheila doesn’t eat beef, she couldn’t correct the seasoning or enjoy the dish herself.  Her reward was simply seeing the smile on the faces of her guests.  Shabbat Shalom.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Sheila adapted a recipe by Ina Garten.  Her suggestion was to use a  REALLY, REALLY good bottle of  Cabernet.

2 1/2 pounds chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 bottle Cabernet

3 whole garlic cloves, smashed

3 bay leaves

2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks on the diagonal

1/2 pound white mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered

1 tablespoon minced garlic  (3 cloves)

2 cups chicken  broth

1 large piece of fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 10-oz package frozen peas

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper.   Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, discarding the bay leaves and the garlic, but saving the marinade.  In batches, lightly dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the beef (only half the beef at a time so it browns well) over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly.  Remove beef and set aside in a bowl,  and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding more olive oil as necessary.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the Dutch Oven and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.  Remove and set aside.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to de-glaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Remove liquid.  Add the beef back to the pot and cover with vegetables.  Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and bring Dutch Oven to a simmer over medium heat.  Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking.  If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas and season to taste.

Note: A perfect dish for a Rosh Hashana meal.

Enjoy,

Irene