Monday, March 29, 2010

Persian Charoses

Persian Charoses

This is another sephardic charoses (characterized by nuts and dried fruit).

Yield: 5 cups

25 (=1.25 c) dates, pitted and diced
1/2 c unsalted pistachios
1/2 c almonds
1/2 c walnuts
1 c golden and/or black raisins
1 1/2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 large pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 c pomegranate juice
1 orange, peeled and diced
1 banana, sliced
1/2 c sweet red wine
2 T cider vinegar
1 t ground cloves
1 T ground cardamon
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground nutmeg
4 T brown sugar

Combine nuts, dried fruit, & spices in food processor & pulse until nuts are coarsly chopped.
Add wet fruit and pulse until they are coarsely chopped.
Add the liquids and pulse again just to mix. Do not puree.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mom's Famous Charoset

Making this in the Cuisinart gives it the authentic "Mom" texture.

Mom's Regular Old Charoset

*4 apples, peeled and cored
*2/3 c. almonds or walnuts (or pecans….) - you can toast them a little beforehand if you like
*¼ c. +/- of brown or white sugar
*1 T. cinnamon
*4T sweet wine and or/ grape juice
*raisins, currants, craisins, or other dried fruit (these taste best if you soften them first – put in a mug and cover with grape juice and heat in microwave to boiling point, and then let them sit for a bit to absorb the liquid)

Chop all the ingredients in a CUISINART to taste! Add the apples closer to the end or else they will be chopped into mush! Change quantities and ingredients however you like!

Sephardic Charoset from Surinam

* ½ - 1 cup unsweetened coconut
* ½ - 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or almonds
* ¼ c. sugar
* 1 T cinnamon
* a few cups of assorted dried fruit: raisins, apple, prunes, apricots, pears, craisins, dates, currants, etc.
* 4 oz. cherry jam
* sweet red wine or grape juice (or other juices I used some mango & orange juice too!)

1. Combine everything except jam & wine in saucepan.
2. Cover with juice(s)
3. Heat to boiling and simmer for at least 90 minutes -- periodically add small amounts of juice to prevent sticking
4. When cohesive , stir in jam, and cook for another 15 minutes or so
5. I put about 2/3 of the mixture in the Cuisinart to make it smoother and stirred it all back together

Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup

So I don't like fennel but I LOVE this soup. There's something about roasting the fennel and cooking it with carrots that gives it a sweet and complex depth to this soup. You're probably thinking this soup sounds kind of weird, but trust me, you have to try it. It's really easy and I promise that you'll love it.

Adapted from this recipe from Sweet Amandine and this recipe from Orangette.

1 fennel bulb
1 ½ pound carrots
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic
2 T. tomato paste
5 c. vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Trim the fennel bulb (discard the stalks, but reserve and set aside the fronds), cut in half lengthwise, and then into ½-inch-thick wedges. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼-inch rounds. Toss the carrots and fennel with 1 T. olive oil, and several grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Spread the carrots and fennel evenly on a lined or lightly-oiled baking sheet, and slide into the oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender.

While the carrots and fennel are roasting: Coarsely chop the onion. In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining 1 T. of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic , and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Turn the heat to low, add the tomato paste, and stir to incorporate.

Add the roasted carrots and fennel to the pot, add 4 c. of vegetable broth, and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and use a standing blender or an immersion blender to purée the soup. Add the additional 1 c. of broth, in part or in full, until you have achieved the thickness that you desire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I like to serve this with cheese toasts (whole wheat bread topped with gruyere cheese and baked in the oven for 5 minutes after the veggies come out).

Yield: Serves 4-6

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Whole Wheat Muffins - The Master Recipe

From Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" column in the NYTimes, Feb 10, 2010. Made for me for breakfast one morning from Auntie Deb in Minneapolis.

1/4 c (1/2 stick) melted unsalted butter
2 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour, or whole wheat flour (or a mix with some unbleached white flour)
3/4 c white or brown sugar (to taste) + more for sprinkling on top of muffins
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c mashed or pureed banana, sweet potato, apple, zucchini, pumpkin, or other fruits or vegetables
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c buttermilk or yogurt
optional add-ins: 3/4 c chocolate chips, 1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans, 2 T toasted wheat germ, 1 t cinnamon or other spice (Mark Bittman recommends banana-walnut, pumpkin-coconut, sweet potato-cardamom-ginger)

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease muffin tins for 12 big muffins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (and spices or other dry ingredients, if using). In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, banana (or other fruit/veggie), egg, and buttermilk. Fold wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined (add in any of the optional ingredients now).

2. Fill muffin tins or liners; sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until muffins are puffed and turning golden brown on top. Serve warm if possible.

Yield: 12 muffins

Friday, March 5, 2010

Black Beans and/or Cuban Sofrito

Black Beans and/or Cuban Sofrito
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Yield: 1.5 quart

1 lb. dried black beans
16 strips turkey bacon (optional)
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
5 ½ cups water (4 ½ in a slow cooker)
2 chipotle peppers, whole, no need to wash off adobo sauce, if any (substitute w/ other chilis, or green/red bell peppers)
2 bay leaves
1½ tsp salt

Pick through beans, discarding all non-bean material and any beans that are broken or strange looking
Rinse beans and add to the pot
Fill with cold water to an inch above the beans, cover, and set aside for 5 hours
Drain beans
Pour in the water amount listed above
Turn heat to high
Rinse salt pork and add to pot
Add onion, chili or bell pepper, garlic, salt, and bay leaves
When boiling, reduce heat to low simmer and cover
Stir occasionally about 1½-2 hours, until the desired tenderness
Add water if needed
Remove the peppers and bacon
Remove 1 cup of beans & 1 cup of bean liquid and medium blend (until mostly liquid with small bits of bean)
Add mashed beans back into the pot
If desired, add sofrito (1/4 cup sofrito to 1 cup of beans)
Simmer uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until thickened to the desired consistency.
Serve over rice, next to rice, or by itself.

Cuban Sofrito
Yield: 2 cups
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green/red/yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 t ground cumin
1 T dried oregano, crushed
1 red habanero chile, seeded and chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
3/4 cup canned tomato sauce or 3/8 cup (3 oz.) tomato paste mixed with equal amount of water
1 T lime juice
½ cup sherry

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion and pepper, and cook until onion is translucent.
Add the garlic, and saute until tender.
Add salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaves.
If using tomatoes, stir in and cook until all of the liquid is released, stirring frequently.
Gradually stir in the tomato sauce
Lower heat and cook a few more minutes, being careful to add sherry if mixture gets too dry
Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed
Thin the sauce down if necessary with rest of sherry (if more liquid needed use water)
Remove bay leaves and set aside
Pour into a high sided container and blend with immersion blender
Sauce is now done but can be cooked more, if desired, just put the bay leaves back in.
When finally taken off of the heat, add lime juice (taste before and after to verify if this helps)
Serve over meat, rice, beans, fish, or potatoes.