Cottage Cheese Chremslach (Passover)

IMG_0377We use to have really good home-cooked breakfasts when our children were little.  Norm would spend every Sunday morning in the kitchen, trying to please everyone by preparing pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and French Toast.  Despite the complaints, especially if the yolk of the fried egg broke, we knew how much the children enjoyed not only the variety, but the feeling of being in the kitchen, eating as much as they could possibly want, and not having to hurry off to school.

It’s not just the food that I miss, it’s the ritual of waking up in the morning to the smell of something cooking.  Breakfast foods have their own special smells, eggs frying in butter, potatoes and onions simmering in oil, bread that has been perfectly toasted, and of course,  freshly brewed coffee.  It all tastes better when the amount of time you can devote to enjoying the meal equals the amount of time spent on its preparation.  These days, even our Sunday mornings have become so busy, there no longer seems to be enough time to sit around and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.  But Pesach is different.

Since I only make certain dishes during Passover, and try to make those that have been passed down from family members, it seems that the recipes themselves have taken on a life of their own.  Each one is a little reminder of a story, a person, a time or a place.  What would breakfast during Passover be without making Matzoh Brie, a bubbelah, or the cottage cheese pancakes that my mother-in-law Lil used to make.  Whenever I make them, I think of Passover on Chiltern Hill Road in Toronto, and breakfast in Lil’s kitchen.  Norm said his Mom took pride in the fact that she made ” a sponge cake a day” something I have never been able to duplicate.  I don’t remember the sponge cakes, but I do remember the delicious cottage cheese pancakes.  Serve them with fresh berries or a little jam, some coffee, and a side order of time.

Cottage Cheese Chremslach

1 cup cottage cheese (try to get a brand that isn’t too runny)

3 eggs

1 Tb sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup matzoh meal

dash of salt

Butter/oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients and let stand for about 5 minutes.  Batter should hold together and depending on size of eggs, add a little more matzoh meal.  Then pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into a frying pan along with an equal amount of butter.   Using a large spoon, drop the batter into the pan to make small pancakes.  Fry till golden and then flip over.  Makes about 12.

Enjoy,

Irene

Dina’s Herb Dip (Passover)

 

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I’ve had some requests to post what I plan to cook for the Seder.  Though it always is a work in progress, and there may be lots of changes over the next few weeks, there are some standard dishes that we seem to have every year.  Unlike the seders of my childhood where we were starving waiting for the meal to be served, we have a new tradition that started several years ago, placing small dishes around the table filled with healthy things to snack on.  I don’t know why we hadn’t that thought of it before but I highly recommend it, everyone is more relaxed and less anxious to get to the meal.  For a couple of years I made kale chips but last year during our small annual Academy Awards gathering my daughter’s friend Dina brought this delicious dip and I knew right away that it would be a perfect thing to serve for our “seder snack”.

Dina recommended making it the day before and refrigerating it overnight.

I have added links to the rest of the dishes that I plan to serve.  I’de love to hear what you are making as well, so please share your favorite Passover recipes, and if there is a story behind it, share that as well.

Scroll down to links for my Seder recipes.

My mother’s Chopped Liver

Tovchik’s Eggplant

My favorite Matzoh Balls

A slightly adapted version of Sheila’s Brisket

Garlic Chicken and Roast Potatoes

Tzimmis

Chocolate Chip Mandelbroit

Dina’s Ranch Dip  (adapted for Passover)

2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Stir together mayonnaise, parsley, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl until combined well.  Chill dip, covered, overnight for flavors to develop.

Note: I will most likely double this recipe.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

PB&B Smoothie and Bimbambam – A Special Guest Post

David here. Meaning the middle child. As in, Irene’s. You probably don’t know this, but I’m something of a foodie myself. More of a critic than a chef, but let’s just say that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to food. Like usually when my mom cooks something and I’m not overly enthusiastic about it and she gets mad and says it’s delicious and asks me what I think is wrong and then I tell her, she almost always agrees with my assessment.Image

My opinion in the kitchen is generally respected, but no one likes to admit it. It might be a middle child quirk. Anyway, my moms a fantastic mom, an even better cook (that’s a compliment, right?), but most of all, the best blogger this family has ever produced! I was inspired by my mom and bamitbach to create my own blog, thisistorah.com, which is not at all like bamitbach but my mom says it’s pretty good so I’m happy.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk food.

Even though I’m pretty good at criticizing food, I’m not very good at making it. So my recipes tend to be, let’s say, functional. Here are two of my favorite low-budget low-time high-calorie dishes, the type of thing I like to eat after I’ve been playing squash for an hour and am about to fall down from fatigue but alas need to go to work. So I need protein, carbs, “vegetables,” etc.

1) I don’t always drink smoothies, but when I do, I prefer a Green Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie. I drink lots of these when it’s hot outside, especially after a bike ride or a game of tennis. Hits the spot. The “Green” refers to the color (as opposed to environmental impact) which is due to the vegetable/protein powder I use. There are literally lots of protein and vegetable powders out there, so if you’re enhancing your smoothie with these I recommend going to the store and asking someone to help you figure out which one best fits your needs. I don’t like to eat vegetables, so I go for a green one that makes me feel better about my diet. My father-in-law introduced me to Amazing Grass (no, this product does not contain marijuana) which is working pretty well for me right now. Slight seaweedy aroma, but nbd. Also, I can’t stress enough how important the ripeness of the bananas is. If you think you can just throw a banana in any state of ripeness into the blender and come out with a great smoothie, you are sorely mistaken. I use bananas that are brownish, just before they turn soft and squishy.   

2) The second is a new creation that I’m finding very useful; I like to call it Bimbambam (my version of the Korean dish bibimbap). Very quick, filling, and relatively healthy. Basically an egg and couscous dish. Fits my meat-reductionist lifestyle quite well.

So, here are the recipes! Thanks Mom, for letting me write whatever I want on your blog!

Green Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Recipe

2 Bananas, perfectly ripe!

1 heaping spoonful (or more) of peanut butter (I use PB&Co Smooth Operator, because it’s smooth and sweet)

4 ice cubes

A bit of honey (or maple syrup)

Some cinnamon

Milk (cow or soy or almond)

Amazing Grass powder (as much as you can tolerate, I guess. I put about 3/4 of a scoop)

Variations:

1) Sometimes I add a full cup of yogurt, if I’m feeling extra hungry. When I do this I reduce the amount of milk and adjust quantities appropriately. I like using coconut Greek yogurt.

2) Turn the smoothie into a milkshake by adding ice cream. Delicious. If you do this, I recommend leaving out the vegetable powder. You sort of have to decide what type of smoothie you’re going for…

3) of course you can add berries, like fresh or frozen blueberries.

 So basically put all the ingredients into a blender and liquefy. Cleaning the blender is a pain, so I throw it into the dishwasher or put some soap and water into it and blend that until it’s clean. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I put in the peanut butter I try to get it right in the middle, after I’ve put it the bananas and ice, so that it isn’t resting against the side while I add the other ingredients. This prevents a significant amount of your pb from ending up smeared on the side of the blender (as opposed to in your smoothie).

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Bimbambam Recipe

Near East Roasted Garlic Couscous (or whatever you want)

3 eggs

Fresh Salsa (I like Whole Foods)

Hot Sauce (lately I’ve been using Cholula)

Variation: you can sauteed vegetables to add to the mix, like spinach or something.

Make the couscous according to the box’s instructions. Put about half of it in a bowl. Fry the three eggs and put them on top of the couscous. Add salsa and hot sauce. Enjoy.

 

2013 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Thank you for following me this past year.  Hope to try new things in the “new” year.  I promise to keep you posted.

Here is an excerpt from Word Press.  The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mini Sweet Potato Latkes

photo 3-1I always drew inside the lines, one of the reasons that I loved Paint by Number as a child.  My coloring books were neat and orderly, and the colors I chose were dictated  by convention,  no blue haired girls or purple suns in sight.  Although I took art classes all through high school, and worked hard on my portfolio, I wasn’t accepted by the one school I had hoped to attend, Parsons School of Design.   I accepted the fact that although I might have had the skill, I didn’t have the creativity.  For the most part, I am still that person.  I rely on cookbooks, especially for baking, I sketch from photographs, I follow rules.  So when my cousin Dottie asked me for a recipe for sweet potato latkes, I felt challenged.  I didn’t see any point in looking up a recipe on-line and sending it to her, she could do that herself, so I decided to see what I could come up with.

I spent hours thinking about how to make the latkes, and the thought process went something like this.  If I used my traditional latke recipe, which involves pulverizing the potatoes, then the result might be more like a sweet potato pancake.  If I only used grated sweet potatoes,  I was concerned that the latkes would be too lacy in texture, and not substantial enough to hold together.  In the end I decided to combine both kinds of potatoes and both methods.  Green onions replaced brown onions, and panko crumbs were used in place of matzoh meal.

The latkes came out light and fluffy and held together well, no small feat when frying anything that’s been shredded. After having eaten the first one plain, I thought it needed a little something to enhance the flavor of the sweet potato, so I drizzled some honey over the next one, and that gave the latke just the right amount of sweetness.  I think I’ll serve them with some Tofutti sour cream as well.

I have no plans to toss out my cookbooks, and I will most likely always draw inside the lines, but the upcoming joint celebration of Thanksgiving and Chanukah offers a great opportunity to try new things.  Just one more reason to be grateful.  Dottie, what’s next?

Mini Sweet Potato Latkes

1 russet potato, peeled and pureed in food processor (do this last so the potato stays as white as possible)

1 sweet potato, finely grated

2 scallions, thinly sliced

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup Panko crumbs

Canola oil

Place grated sweet potato in a large bowl and add eggs, salt, baking powder, panko crumbs, and green onions.  Process white potato and stir in.  Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large frying pan and using a spoon, drop small amounts of mixture into sizzling oil.  Cook till golden and then flip.  This made 21 mini latkes.

Enjoy,

Irene

Kitchen Safety Tips for the New Year

To all of you whose support, comments, constructive suggestions, and encouragement have kept me going,  Shana Tovah.  May this coming year be filled with health, happiness and joy.  First and foremost here are some tips to keep us all “safe” in the place we love to spend time, our kitchens.

 Houston Fire Department (HFD) Offers Cooking Safety Tips

HFD reminds residents that cooking is the number one cause of residential fires and is preventable by following these safety tips:
• Always, have a working smoke detector!
• Over half the people attempting to extinguish a kitchen fire are injured. Often the best advice is to get everyone out of the house and call the fire department (911) from a neighbor’s house.
• Use a moderate cooking temperature
• Don’t overfill the container
• If you must leave the kitchen, turn the burner off (Unattended cooking is the primary cause of kitchen fires. Over half of these are grease/oil fires.)
• Turn pot handles away from the front of the stove. Curious children may reach up and grab the handle, pulling the hot contents down on themselves.
• Don’t position handles over another burner, it may catch on fire or burn someone who touches it.
• Wear short sleeves or tight fitting long sleeves when cooking to reduce a clothing fire hazard.
• Shield yourself from scalding steam when lifting lids from hot pans.
• Make sure pot holders are not too close to the stove. They could catch fire!
• Keep ovens, broilers, stove tops, and exhaust ducts free from grease.
• If there is a fire in the oven – Turn off the oven and keep the oven door closed.
• Never try to move the pan, don’t throw water on it, and don’t put flour on it.
• If you attempt to extinguish the fire, it is best to use a class ABC multipurpose fire extinguisher. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions – stay back 6 to 8 feet and be careful not to spray the grease out of the pan. Baking soda can also smother the fire. Fires can double in size every 30 seconds.

Chicken Schnitzle

 My colleague at work calls them her Divas In Training, the young women who cook with her every Sunday, learning to make the family recipes by her side.  I had a similar experience this Passover when we were joined by young women for almost every holiday meal.  The kitchen was filled with chitchat along with the sound of stainless steel spoons hitting metal pots, of salad dressing being whisked, and of chicken Schnitzle sizzling in hot oil.  My favorite kind of noise, the noise of a busy kitchen.
Once upon a time I too was a young and inexperienced cook and stood in the kitchens of women whose food I enjoyed, so I could learn from them.  It just so happens that this Passover, Schnitzle was served at least 3 or 4 times over the course of the week (some from Fresh Foods Catering in Houston, Texas.)  At one point I was asked to post my recipe for Schnitzle (you can also try the non-Passover version of Schnitzle and see which you prefer) and so this is for “the girls.”
I love the idea that a new generation of women, all busy with their careers, and some with families, still want to take the time to prepare Schnitzle.  It’s like keeping a little part of Passover alive all year long, until it rolls around again.  Just remember to listen for the sizzle.
Chicken Schnitzle

6 chicken cutlets

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup Matzoh Meal

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Lemon cut in wedges

Place the Schnitzle between sheets of wax paper and pound to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Place beaten eggs and matzoh meal in wide bowls.  Season matzoh meal with salt and pepper.  In the meantime heat oil in frying pan.  Dip each cutlet in egg mixture and then in matzoh meal and place on a large plate.  Do not stack.  Test to make sure oil is hot enough.  Dont’ be impatient, this step is really important.  Cook the Schnitzle until golden brown, about  3-4  minutes on each side.  Don’t crowd the pan.  As the cutlets are done, put them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 3.

Enjoy,

Irene

Inspiration

I  am inspired.  I just returned home after seeing a documentary called Food Fight by Chris Taylor, one of a series of monthly documentaries brought to Los Angeles by “Something to Talk About.”   The message was simple; eat well, eat local and prepare delicious healthy meals that you are proud to share with friends and family.

http://www.indiedocs.net.

My plan is to go to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning and find further inspiration.  I may find the perfect green zebra heirloom tomatoes to serve with my favorite vinaigrette, or purple fingerling potatoes to roast alongside the garlic chicken.   And I can never resist the small bunches of multicolored radishes that will be beautiful on the seder plate. I will taste and smell and touch and savor the experience.


I look to you for inspiration as well.  It is time to share.  If you have a favorite family tradition or story or Passover recipe, please send them in and hopefully we can all inspire each other.

Enjoy,

Irene