Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This is a post from last Thanksgiving but some of you are new to Bamitbach and I wanted to introduce you to my standard dessert for the holiday.  I have been in NYC for the last five days and have had many wonderful experiences, meals, and moments.  I am thankful that I was able to spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving with all of my children as well as my sister and brother-in-law.  I look forward to being home and celebrating with the family and friends who can join us, but I am equally happy knowing that those who can’t join us are, thankfully, in good hands.   Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

November 2010

My sister recalls that I came home from Kindergarten and told my mother that I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving.  At that point my parents and sister would have been living in the United States for about seven years,  and were open to the idea of celebrating this “American” holiday.  That was the beginning of a new tradition for our family, Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember my mother roasting a turkey, prepared the same way she prepared roast chicken for Shabbat, with lots of garlic, salt and pepper.  She made candied sweet potatoes, a dish she learned from my cousin’s housekeeper Edith, and a delicious stuffing made with challah, mushrooms, celery, carrots and caramelized onions.  It was sort of an Eastern European Thanksgiving dinner.  No guests, no fanfare, no cornucopia, but I always found it special and meaningful.

As a child of immigrants, the Thanksgiving narrative of people who came to America searching for religious freedom always resonated with me.  As a child of survivors, I understood that my family had much to be thankful for.  It was not a story from a textbook, it was the story of my family.  America welcomed them and gave them a fresh start, shelter, the ability to live openly and proudly as Jews, and a place to put down roots and watch their families grow and flourish.  For each of those reasons, and more, I will always be thankful.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is very traditional, given some dietary restrictions.  We have mulled cider, Turkey, stuffing, corn bread, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3 1/2 cups flour

3 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup oil

2/3 cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 12 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips, tossed with 1 tbsp flour

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Combine eggs with oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Stir into dry ingredients.  Fold chocolate chips in to batter.  Divide mixture among three greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for one hour or until toothpick inserted into loaf comes out dry.


Enjoy,

Irene

Pecan Pie

It is almost November and that means Thanksgiving is around the corner.  My favorite holiday for many reasons: the concept of religious freedom, the story of immigrants arriving in a new land, the traditional American foods that we eat, plus the opportunity to reflect on what we are thankful for.  When my children were small we read Molly’s Pilgrim, a book about a young Russian girl’s experiences in her new school.  The story reminded me of my experience in Kindergarten when my teacher related that we are all descendents of Pilgrims.  I can still remember raising my hand and sharing that my parents were not Pilgrims, they were Polish.

We have hosted Thanksgiving dinners for the past thirty-one years.  Over the years, I have been away for one or two, but I hold on to Thanksgiving tightly because it means so much to me.  As an adult, Thanksgiving makes me think of Emma Lazarus’ poem, knowing that my mother and father arrived in this country on a ship, with their five-year old daughter,  Anie. My sister’s name was soon changed to Anita, something “more” American.  This year our table will be filled with people whose names are German, Russian, English and Polish in origin.  How wonderfully American is that.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus, 1883

Pecan Pie

This recipe was printed in the New York Times many years ago.  It is the only one I use and has never failed me.

1-10″ baked pie shell

1 1/4  cups dark corn syrup

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 stick butter or pareve margarine, melted

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecan halves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Partially bake your pie shell.  Remove and allow to cool.  Combine the corn syrup and sugar in a heavy pan.  Bring to a boil and stir till sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Mix in cooled syrup, melted butter, chopped pecans and vanilla.  Pour into pie shell.  Decorate the top of pie with pecan halves.  Bake for about 50 minutes.  Cover crust with foil to prevent from over-browning.   Serves 10

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy,

Irene


Poached Quince

Several months ago my daughter sent me an e-mail in which she wrote that she thought I needed an “adventure.”  What she meant was that she wished I would travel more, but there are all kinds of adventures.  Like discovering a new restaurant while out on a stroll, or driving to a concert and along the way realizing that the street you are on is lined with beautiful old homes and majestic trees. (Try Vermont north of Los Feliz)  After many years of contemplating a vegetable garden, last week Norm removed the roses that had lined my garage wall for 25 years (gasp!) to start one.

Just before the holidays, I was walking down the aisle of a Persian market and there was a large display of quince, an odd-shaped fruit that resembles a misshapen pear.  I love quince paste, so I thought why not?  I  bought several to try, did some research, and poached the quince in a sweet liquid.  What I didn’t know was that as quince cooks, the pale cream-colored fresh is transformed into a beautiful shade of rose and the longer it cooked, the more intense the color became.  Sometimes an adventure can take place right in your own kitchen.  Hopefully one day there will be larger scaled adventures, but in the meantime this will do, and I will keep you posted on the new vegetable garden.

Poached Quince  (adapted from David Lebowitz)

This recipe is to taste, make it as sweet or lemony as you like.

5 large quince

4 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 lemon

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Place the water, sugar, honey, lemon and vanilla bean in a large pot and turn it on to medium heat.  Meanwhile peel, and quarter each quince.  Carefully remove the cores and cut each quarter into thick slices.  Add slices to pot, and cover with parchment paper, trimmed to fit, with a small home in the middle.  Press gently down on paper.  Simmer for about 2 hours.  Quince should keep it’s shape but be very soft.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: This would be a great side to Turkey!

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

Gingerbread Cake

When we were growing up, it seemed that someone was always dropping in to visit with my mother.  They would sit at the kitchen table and talk, usually over a cup of coffee.  My mom’s closest friend, Fanny, would nibble on a spoonful of  jam instead of  a cookie.  Our lifestyle is not really conducive to dropping in on friends in such a casual way,  and so I was thrilled when my friend Lori came by last Sunday afternoon with a warm cake,  just out of the oven, and a book that she knew I would love.  We sat and chatted, and I was reminded of what we have lost in the shuffle of our busy schedules.  I miss dropping in on friends and I miss having friends drop in on us, but the sad part of the story occurred to me afterwards,  and that was that I never even offered her a cup of coffee.

Lori sent me the recipe along with a little explanation.

The recipe is called “Gingerybread” and is adapted (by me) from a lovely little breakfast/brunch cookbook from the Grant Corner Inn, a bed and breakfast located in a 106 year old Victorian house in Sante Fe, New Mexico.  It makes a large 10 x 14 inch cake that can easily serve more than 12 people.
Gingerybread
1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP strong coffee
1 3/4 boiling water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger
Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 10 x 14 inch baking pan.
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Blend in eggs, coffee, vanilla, molasses and honey.  Stir in boiling water and set aside.
In a medium bowl sift together dry ingredients and then mix into liquids, blending well.
Fold in candied ginger. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes or till top springs back when touched.
PS – The cookbook states that this recipe is similar to the way gingerbread is made in Scotland – dark and substantial.  My adaption was to omit the zest of an orange and substitute vanilla and coffee for 2 TBSP of brandy.
Note: This cake would be perfect for the holidays as an alternative to honey cake.  Lori halved the recipe without a problem and is experimenting with oil to make a pareve version.
Enjoy,
Irene

Plum Galette

There were days when we just didn’t want to get on the bus to Orchard Beach.  We wanted to escape the crowds, the scene, the heat of our apartment, and the people.  We would take our transistor radio, a book, a towel, and a reflector, and  just like thousands of others teens in New York City,  and just like the song, we could be found up on the roof.   How can I explain what attracted us to this large tar-covered space.  It was not scenic or pretty, had no charm, the tar was hot and you could get it on your feet if you weren’t careful.  It was convenient but it wasn’t about convenience.  It was about finding a place that felt so far away from everything happening below.  Our own little retreat in the middle of the city.  We didn’t seem to care about the lack of atmosphere, we always had fun and for some reason, nobody ever came looking for us.  But even up on the roof  you wanted something great to eat.  I don’t remember what we brought with us, if anything, but if I had it to do all over again, then I think a slice of pie would be just perfect, plum pie.

Plum Galette

Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

1 stick butter or pareve margarine, cut into 1/2 ”  cubes

3 Tbs sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3-4  tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, combine flour, butter, sugar and salt till dough looks like cornmeal.  Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time,  and pulse until dough forms into a ball.  Remove dough, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for an hour or two.

Filling

15 Italian plums, pitted and cut into wedges

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbs flour

Toss plums with flour in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a floured board, roll chilled dough into a circle till about 1/4 ” thick.  Transfer to parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Pile plums in center, leaving about 1 ” border of dough all around.  Fold dough in pleats around plums and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for about 45 minutes or till golden.  Serves 8

Enjoy,

Irene

Blueberry Peach Pie

This is a thank you note.  Last week my middle child got married and during the weekend celebration I kept looking at our guests, realizing that although it was my son standing under the chuppah, there were many people at the wedding who had left their footprints on his path.  Family and friends that nurtured him and helped him grow into the man he now is.  I had exactly the same  impression observing the family and friends of my daughter-in-law,  seeing how close they were to her, how proud they were of the woman she has become, and how much it meant to her to have them there.

After the wedding, the celebration continued with  Sheva Brachot, a Jewish tradition.  I think I can speak for both sets of parents when I say that we feel so fortunate to have friends who wanted to host these “dinner parties” in honor of the bride and groom.  Yes, it was a long week, exhausting and emotional, but this morning as I am sitting by myself, I am so grateful to everyone who participated in this wedding in every imaginable way.  From those who came to Houston from near and far, to others who could not come but who gave unending support, to the friends who cooked for us and opened their homes to us, others who whispered words of encouragement,  family and friends who spent time writing toasts and Divrei Torah,  teaching classes, those who attended Sheva Brachot,  friends who helped with shopping, packing, organizing, transporting and much, much more.  I could not have done it without you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  To my sister who had one request that I did not honor, I felt Mommy and Daddy everywhere.

This past Shabbat, both families would be spending our last day together.  We would share five meals over the course of the day, one of which was afternoon tea.  As cooking is one way that I express my love and appreciation, I spent most of Friday afternoon preparing the food, including baking a Blueberry Peach Pie.

Blueberry Peach Pie

Basic Pie Crust  (this is enough for one crust, I doubled recipe to made a double crusted pie)

1 1/2 sticks butter ( cold and cut into small pieces)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbs sugar

2 -2 Tbs ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place butter, flour and sugar in food processor.  Pulse and add ice water, slowly, till dough forms into ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll dough out on floured board and place in greased pie pan.  Place a sheet of wax paper over dough and add dried beans to prevent pastry from puffing up.  Bake crust at 400 degrees for 1o minutes, reduce heat to 375, and bake an additional ten minutes.  Crust is now ready for filling.

Blueberry Peach Filling

2 pounds of large peaches, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced

1 pint blueberries

1 cup sugar

2 Tbs quick cooking Tapioca

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs sweet butter, cut in small pieces

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mace (optional)

In a large bowl, combine peaches, blueberries, sugar and tapioca. Add lemon juice, butter, cinnamon, mace,  Fill pie crust.  Place second crust on top, and brush with an egg wash (one egg and 1 tsp water combined), make slits in top crust and bake at 375 for about an hour.  Tip: Place a cookie sheet on the bottom of oven to catch any drippings.

Enjoy,

Irene

Hamantaschen

It is Sunday morning, March 13th, 2011.  My plan was to bake Hamantachen today, allowing for enough time to ship them to New York and Florida.   I am still going to bake, but things feel different.  In the background the radio is turned to NPR, reporting on the situation in Japan.  There is a tradition of giving Tzedakah before Purim, and so as we approach the holiday,  I hope you continue to bake, and to give…. http://www.redcross.org

Wishing you a Chag Purim Sameach.

Note: I posted this recipe last year, and the comments I received on the dough ranged from those who said it was much too soft to work with, to those who felt it was perfect.  The trick is to play with it, add flour as needed, and enjoy!

The Purim of my childhood was not very memorable.  I do not remember dressing up costume, attending Purim carnivals or going to hear the reading of Megillat Esther.  I do not remember my mother making hamantaschen or delivering Mishloach Manot.  Purim was not part of the fabric of my childhood.  My first encounter with hamantaschen was watching my mother-in-law, Lillian Saiger, make them in her home in Toronto.  It made quite an impression on me.  I was 21 years old, a newlywed, still in college, and living in a foreign country.  My in-laws were living in the same home that my husband’s maternal grandparents had owned.  The hub of that house was the kitchen, with windows that faced a backyard filled with lilac trees.  It was a house with history and part of that history included baking hamantaschen. Lil made enough hamantaschen to ship to her children, some of whom were already living outside of Toronto.  She made her own filling, a combination of dried fruits that she stewed and pureed and then gently placed in the center of these circles of dough that she had rolled out and cut.  She pinched three corners together and baked the cookies until they were golden.  They were soft, warm and delicious.  I remember that the hamataschen were kept in a tin, placed in a cupboard next to the breakfast room table.  We would have them with coffee every day, until they were all gone.  I don’t have any idea if they actually lasted till Purim.  We eventually moved to Los Angeles and had three children of our own.  Each Purim, we dressed the kids in costumes, delivered mishloah manot and took them to hear Megillat Esther.  Each year I would make hamantaschen and place them in a tin to have with coffee.  They may not be exactly the same as my mother-in-law’s ( I don’t think she actually used a recipe) but they are close.  Thank you Lil!

P.S. Keep them in a tin.

Lil’s Hamantaschen
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tsp. baking powder
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix dry ingredients in bowl.  Combine eggs and oil and mix well.  Slowly add orange juice and then mix into dry ingredients.  Put mixture onto floured board and handle until soft and pliable.

Filling
6 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. dried pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups raisins
3-4 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup water or orange juice

In a small heavy bottomed pot combine all ingredients over low heat and cook until fruit is soft, about 20 minutes.  Add water if needed.  Process mixture in Cuisinart for about 30 seconds until mixture looks like a dark jam. Roll dough out on floured board till about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out small circles and place a teaspoon of filling in the center.  Pinch sides together to form a triangle.  Brush with beaten egg and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown.

Enjoy,
Irene

Olive Oil Cake

Having recently read The Girls From Ames, I have been thinking about women and their friendships, and how important those relationships are.  My mother had a habit of sitting at the windowsill looking down over the Concourse, where there were always women strolling arm in arm.  Sitting with her, I would imagine myself as an adult, walking with a friend, our arms intertwined. Unfortunately it is no longer in fashion for women to lock arms as they stroll, and the art of strolling has all but disappeared. What has not changed is the importance of female companionship.

This weekend my daughter came to visit us from NYC.  It just so happened that several of her oldest friends were also in town and were able to join us for various meals.  In different configurations, they came for dinner, lunch, and afternoon tea.  They laughed, talked, rolled their eyes (mostly at their mothers), shared confidences, and exchanged glances that clearly only they understood.  All very accomplished young women, each one passionate and full of life, I loved sitting back and watching them.  We have known two of the girls since birth and one since she was six.  Three now live in NYC and one in Los Angeles but the distances don’t seem to matter, or the time apart.  Having my daughter come home is always special, but knowing that this particular group of friends would be in Los Angeles at the same time, and that we would get to see them, turned the weekend into a celebration.  So, I baked the girls a cake, in the shape of a rose.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, The Kosher Scene.   Norm said it tasted like a glazed buttermilk doughnut. Moist and delicious.

Olive Oil Cake

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups orange juice

5  eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1  1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 c. granulated sugar

zest of  3 oranges

Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar

Approximately 4 tsp of orange juice  (Mix juice with sugar until you have the consistency of a loose glaze, slowly, add more juice if needed)

Mix eggs in a large bowl.  Slowly add sugar, beating till egg mixture is light in color.  Add orange juice and stir till fluffy.  In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Alternating, slowly add olive oil, and then flour,  to egg mixture, and beat until batter is smooth.  Mix in orange zest.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Add batter and bake for about 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack for about 20 minutes and remove cake from pan.  Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over cake.

Enjoy,

Irene

Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot and Almond Biscotti

Soft, chewy cookies or hard, crisp ones?  As with many foods, over time people develop preferences. I am a firmly entrenched fan of the hard, dry, crisp variety of cookies.  I like them to have enough substance to withstand being dunked in my coffee without melting or disintegrating. In addition to density, I like texture, so I prefer that the cookie includes nuts, chocolate chips, or both. Over the years I have tried various Mandelbrot and biscotti recipes and have found that these two recipes are among my favorites. The Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot recipe is actually a Passover recipe that was given to me by a friend of a friend.  We like it so much that I now bake it all year round. The Almond Biscotti recipe was adapted from one of Judy Zeidler’s cookbooks.  It has a more traditional flavor and is reminiscent of the Mandelbrot that I grew up with.

My mother would often visit family members and end up in their kitchen cooking.  I remember her making schav borscht in Micheline’s kitchen and chopped liver in Tante Marisha’s kitchen.  She enjoyed pitching in and being helpful, and it created a feeling of togetherness.  Although I have cooked in my daughter Shira’s and my cousin Micheline’s kitchens, I sometimes end up transporting challot or cookies from my kitchen in Los Angeles.  It is an expression of my affection, a way to let someone know that I was thinking of them even before I arrived at my destination. This morning I baked both Almond Biscotti and Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot (with Norm’s help) to take to Houston, Texas, where I will be attending my future daughter-in-law’s bridal shower.  As Marcella Hazan the famous cookbook author once said, “After all, what experience of food can compare with eating something good made by someone you can hug?”  Cookies and hugs, perfect.

Almond Biscotti

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 ground almonds

1/2 toasted silvered almonds

2 eggs

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1 egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place dry ingredients in a shallow bowl and mix. Create a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla and sugar and quickly incorporate flour.  Divide dough into two equal portions. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and, using oiled hands, form dough into two logs.  Brush with beaten egg white. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Move logs to a board and carefully slice on a diagonal. Return to cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake for an additional 10 minutes on each side.

 

Loretta’s Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot

3 sticks margarine

2 cups sugar plus an extra 4 Tbs for sprinkling

6 eggs

2 3/4 cups cake meal

3/4 potato starch

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 – 12 oz. bags of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reserve 4 Tbs sugar and mix with 2 Tsp cinnamon and set aside. Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Add dry ingredients.  Divide dough into 4 equal portions and with oiled hands, form 4 loaves, divided between 2 greased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle each loaf with an equal amount of the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for about 45 minutes. Slice loaves and place Mandelbrot cut side up, sprinkling with more cinnamon sugar.  Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes per side or till crispy.

 


Enjoy,

Irene