Friday, November 28, 2008

Orange Cream Dream Ice Cream

Several years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) and I bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker at Costco with grand plans on making lots of ice cream. Like most of these plans, that fell through and it sat in disuse on the top of our fridge until the wonderful day we bought the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream book. What better people to learn to make ice cream from than the masters themselves.
Although it is winter, I love ice cream and it tastes so much better when it’s homemade. This recipe is super easy and uses basic ingredients most people already have at home.

A few people had this with the pies yesterday. I think it’s best just as is, but it does accompany other desserts well.

Orange Cream Dream Ice Cream from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book:
Makes generous 1 quart

Sweet Cream Base (I always do #1. It might be fattier than the others, but it tastes better and keeps longer. 2 large eggs, ¾ cup sugar, 2 cups heavy or whipping cream, 1 cup milk)
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the base, whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. I generally whisk the sugar in a ¼ cup at a time. Pour in cream and milk and whisk to blend.

Add the juice concentrate and vanilla extract and blend.

Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine says to mix for 20-25 minutes. I generally do the full 25. After this it will be the consistency of soft serve. Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours (overnight is better) to get hard pack.

This tastes like childhood. It’d only be better if I had little wooden spoons to eat it with.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pumpkin and Apple Pies

For last year’s Thanksgiving, I decided to do the pumpkin pie. Having never made pie on my own before, I called (who else?) my mom for a pastry crust recipe. It turned out wonderful, so I decided to do pie again this year. I was only going to do apple because my husband isn’t really into pie and he thought he’d like apple better, but when my folks visited, they gave me homegrown pumpkin puree. So I had to do another pumpkin pie. Last year came from a can, this year my parents’ farm (plus a little from a can. I was about ¼-½ c. short on the homemade pumpkin). Still, how cool is that?

The pastry recipe my mom sent me last year is designed for a Cuisinart. I only have a mini prep I got from my wedding registry (thanks mom and dad!), so I do it by hand. The pastry recipe reflects my modifications for that and my mom’s notes as well. I’m listing both the single and double crust as the pumpkin pie was single and the apple was double. For the ice water, I find it easiest to fill a small bowl with water and ice and keep it in the fridge until it is needed. Everything needs to remain cold.

Pastry Dough from Cuisinart via my mom:

For a single crust pie or tart -
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder
8 Tb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 1/2" pieces and kept well chilled
2 Tb. vegetable shortening (you can use a natural soft butter in the tubs or substitute with butter)
2 to 4 TB. ice water

For a double crust pie -
3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
16 Tb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut in 1/2" and kept well chilled
2 Tb. vegetable shortening
5-8 Tb. ice water

Pumpkin Pie filling from Joy of Cooking:

2 c. cooked or canned pumpkin (if you are using cooked pumpkin that has been frozen, make sure to drain it of the extra water first).
1½ c. undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (I used evaporated milk)
¼ c. brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg or allspice (I used nutmeg)
1/8 tsp. cloves
2 slightly beaten eggs

Apple Pie filling from Joy of Cooking:

5-6 c. apples (I used more like 8 cups. Each apple was about a cup. I used Granny Smiths and Jonagolds. It’s good to use a mix of very tart and sweet apples. Too many sweet ones become applesauce, according to my mom)
½-2/3 c. white or brown sugar (I used brown. The difference is for the type of apples you are using. Tarter apples get more sugar, sweeter gets less. I used the max.)
1-1½ Tb. cornstarch (Juicer apples get more. Flour is a good substitute as well and according to my mom, it tastes better. I used cornstarch because I happened to have it.)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (these two are optional, but I really like them, so in they went)
1½ Tb. butter

For the dough:

Sift the flour, salt & baking powder.

Add the well chilled butter & soft butter (also well chilled). Use your finger tips or two forks (I used my fingers) until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal and no pieces of butter are larger than a "pea" remain visible. Sprinkle half the maximum ice water on the flour & butter mixture and mix in with fingers or forks. The dough will be crumbly, but should begin to hold together when a small amount is picked up and pressed together. Sprinkle on more water, a teaspoon at a time (two for a double crust), with a few quick mixes after each addition, adding enough water for the dough to hold together easily when pressed into a ball. Add the liquid sparingly so the dough is not sticky. Do not over process or the pastry will be tough, not tender and flaky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press together into a ball, and then flatten into a disc about 6 inches in diameter (two discs for a two pie crust). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before continuing to allow the gluten in the flour to rest. The dough will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or may be frozen (double wrapped) for up to a month. Thaw at room temperature for an hour before using.

I ran out of plastic wrap and because I did the dough on Monday, I wrapped the dough in parchment paper and put them in a large Ziploc bag. It actually worked out really well and made for easier clean up. It kept very well too. It was really easy to keep together. So next time I’ll just do this and skip the plastic wrap because I always make a mess out of it anyway.

For the pies, I pulled out the dough, let it get to room temperature and rolled them out. Flour a surface and a rolling pin and roll it out to desired thickness. I find that a spatula is helpful in peeling it off the counter. I then formed the crusts in the pie tins (except the top crust for the apple, which I rolled out and put back in the fridge) and put them in the fridge while I made the fillings. This was a very, very good idea.

After making the filling I took out the top pie crust and attempted to make a pretty top. I cut ovals and used the extra dough to make an apple relief. It kind of looks like an apple. Anyway, I tried, even if it is all off center.

For both pies, I placed a ring of aluminum foil around the edge of the pie crust for the first 20-25 minutes of baking. This prevents it from browning too quickly.

For the pumpkin pie:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix all ingredients until well blended. The Kitchen Aid makes this ridiculously easy. If you have a hand electric mixer, this would also work very well.

Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 45 minutes longer or until inserted knife comes out clean. It will look like well set Jello. Don’t worry; the pie will set out of the oven.

For the apple pie:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pare, core and thinly slice apples.

Combine and sift the sugar, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg over the apples. Stir the apples gently until they are well coated. Place them in layers in the pie shell. Dot with the butter.

Cover the pie with a pricked upper crust. Bake in a 450 oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake until done, 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Mine was more like 55 minutes at 350.

For both pies, I whipped up some whipped cream and that was it. They were both so very good and a big hit. I’m really impressed with the apple pie. The pumpkin was also super delicious.

I had planned to post my recipe for stuffing tomorrow, but as I kind of improvised as I went, modifying the 2nd Ave. Deli book into something unrecognizable, I decided to pass. Plus, I hardly followed their recipe at all. I will say that it was very tasty though and is now almost all gone. Next year means I need to make two loaves of challah.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spicy Turkey Burgers

When I’m super hungry, I need to make something fast or I will try to eat the entire fridge. Fortunately I had enough peace of mind last night to not do that and instead made spicy turkey burgers. I had about ¾ lb. ground turkey left over from the Pad Khee Mao and put it to use. As far as dressing it goes, you can do whatever you want. I used lettuce, pickles, some of my mom’s Kickin’ Ketchup, Dijon mustard and a bit of Cajun mayo left over from a recent dinner at Russell Street BBQ (so good! And I don’t even like barbecue sauce).

I wanted to make it interesting, so I added garlic (duh) and some random herbs and such to make it spicier.

I know Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I’ll be having some turkey (I’m much more of a sides girl though), but I love the taste of ground turkey. It works so well with so many things.

Here’s what I did:

Yield: 2 burgers

¾ lb. ground turkey
½ c. coarsely grated white cheddar cheese
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
1 Tb. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. olive oil
Buns, toasted

In a small bowl, mix ground turkey, ¼ c. cheese, garlic and spices. Form into two balls and flatten into patties.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Place patties in hot oil. Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Just before done, cover patties in remaining cheese.

Place burgers on toasted buns and dress to your liking. I served mine with steamed broccoli and a couple small red baked potatoes. Obviously fries work well too. These were nice and not too spicy, but enough kick. Using some Cajun spice would’ve been a nice addition.

Tomorrow will be my Thanksgiving special. And by special I mean I’ll post the pies I made.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vegetable Stock

I noticed the other day that the celery I bought the other day was getting a little limp and wimpy. I still had a carrot left over from the chicken noodle soup, so making veggie stock seemed the best solution. Bolstered by my success with chicken soup, I figured stock couldn’t be too hard. Plus, it’s getting to be winter and that means soup time! Stock is where soups get their start and though it’s easy enough to buy it at the store, I’m getting into this whole cooking at home thing (go blog!) and decided to just go for it. Plus, how hard is it to throw a bunch of veggies into a pot with water and herbs and let it simmer for an hour? Not. This is so easy.

Basic theory behind this one came from Joy of Cooking:

Mine made 9¾ cups

8 slightly crushed cloves of garlic
½ cup sautéed onions
½ yellow onion with peel, cut in half
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into three
1 carrot, peeled and cut into three
3 stalks of celery with leaves, cut into fours
1 cup shredded lettuce
Handful of parsley
½ Tb. oregano
½ Tb. marjoram
¼ c. pepper corns
½ Tb. thyme
Pinch of kosher salt
Dash of freshly ground pepper

I think parsnips look hilarious. They make me think of the witch scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is why I'm doing this. See it if you haven't (and who hasn't?). It's hilarious.

Start by sautéing the onion in olive oil. Meanwhile, peel parsnip and carrot. Cut the remaining veggies. Prep the garlic. After the onions are soft and slightly brown, throw into a large stockpot. Throw in all the veggies, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper and peppercorns.

Add enough water to cover all this. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered for about 1½ hours or until the vegetables are very tender.

Strain and chill. I used a potato masher to get all the goodness out of mine. Skim fat if necessary (it probably won’t have any). I’m freezing all of mine, but you can stick in the fridge for use during the week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pad Khee Mao

I feel like I’ve been spending all my time at the grocery store lately, mostly with the ramp-up to Thanksgiving. Anyway, two nights ago my husband and I decided that we were FINALLY going to make pad khee mao like we’ve been talking about for forever. We both love the dish. I accidentally got him into Thai food when living with our old roommate downtown. She and I used to make cheap food dates and for a period of time, that often involved E-San. I had ordered pad khee mao on a whim one day, tired of always getting fried rice and pad thai, and looooooved it. One night we got take out and brought it back to the apartment. While getting myself a drink, Aaron got curious, bit a noodle and then proceeded to eat all of the noodles, leaving me with tofu and peppers. He was hooked.

My parents were in town from Cave Junction a few weekends ago and took me with them to Anzen, their favorite Asian grocery in Portland. While they poked around at the rice, I found the rice noodles I had been looking for. My husband and I had decided to just make pad thai for our first experiment in Thai home cooking, but when I saw these big, fat rice noodles, I knew pad khee mao could be finally realized.

So that night we searched for a recipe. Our one and only Thai cookbook doesn’t have a recipe for pad khee mao, so we went to the internet. helped us, although with some difficulty. Pad khee mao is also called drunken noodles and is described as the perfect hangover food (it is). For our billionth trip to the grocery store this week, we bought the things we needed, omitting the stuff my husband doesn’t like, and decided to make it the last night. The original recipe is here. We did about a half size and still ended up with a ton.

Drunken Noodles from Bon Appétit via

Yield: at least 4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. This makes so much, even at half size!

16-ounce package 1/4-inch-wide flat rice noodles
1/8 c. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chopped Serrano chili (we couldn’t find Thai chilies and he’s not so into the spicy)
¾ pounds ground turkey
1/8 c. fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)
1/8 c. black soy sauce
1/8 c. oyster sauce (replacement through another recipe my husband read the other night)
½ Tb. sugar
1 green bell pepper (about 6 oz. total), cut into strips
¼ c. fresh basil leaves

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in wok or heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chili; sauté 30 seconds. Add turkey and next 4 ingredients and sauté until turkey is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add noodles, tomatoes, and green pepper; toss to coat. Transfer to large platter, sprinkle with basil leaves, and serve.

This was so very, very good. The only changes I would make in the future would be to add a little more garlic, use actual Thai chilies for a bit more spice and a bit more of the sauces. Other than that, this was ridiculously good and so easy to make. I will be making this again! For now, I’ll just have to satisfy myself with the leftovers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Challah is a family tradition. Before I made it myself, I knew how to do it. For years I watched my mom beat and knead and braid the dough. It’s in my blood, as she would say. This is the very first yeast bread I ever made all by myself. I love it! The way it feels, the way it smells. I love baking bread in general, but challah is something special. When I dig into the dough and knead it out, I feel my foremothers. I feel them kneading this same bread as they have done for generations. The book the recipe came from is out of print, but not too hard to find. I found it through in 2002 so I could have one just like my mom. It’s by Sue Krietzman.

This loaf I made for the stuffing I’m doing on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, this makes a gigantic loaf, so I have some left over for sandwiches and such. I always do the half size recipe I learned from my mom. I can’t even imagine how ridiculously gigantic a full size recipe of challah would be. Challah is also amazing for French toast, so if you can manage, save some for that. Oooh! Or garlic bread. Yum!

Temperature is really important. All of your ingredients should be room temperature. The water needs to be the right temp so you don’t kill the yeast. Your house, or at least the kitchen, should be warm and not muggy. Also, remove any rings or jewelry before getting started. Your hands will get messy.

Challah is a really easy bread and great for your first foray into yeast breads. It comes together really easily and the results are always phenomenal.

From Deli: 101 New York-style deli dishes from chopped liver to cheesecake (half size with notes from my mom and me)

1 big fat Tb. yeast, room temperature
1¼ c. warm water (100-115 degrees)
1 Tb. honey
½ Tb. kosher salt
1/8 c. oil (I use olive)
4 c. flour (My favorite kind is King Arthur flour. I used their bread flour for this one)
2 eggs
[Yolk with 1 tsp. warm water]
[Poppy seeds]

I omitted the final two ingredients, which make for a very beautiful, shiny crust, as this loaf is destined for stuffing.

Combine yeast and water in a large bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid bowl as I do the dough in the mixer. So much easier! Wait 5 minutes. This is to make sure your yeast is still active. If it is, it’s really obvious after about 5 minutes. It should be foamy and alive. I think it’s really fun to watch, but I’m really into bread.

Stir in honey, salt, oil and 1 cup of flour. An easy trick with honey is to always grease whatever you’re using, in this case a tablespoon, with oil before adding the honey. Instead of sticking, it falls right out and you get the full amount. I do this part by hand and then move it to the mixer. I mix it on about speed 3.

Add eggs.

Add flour ½ cup at a time. I wait until the last ½ cup is incorporated into the dough before adding more. This prevents making a huge mess. If still sticky, add more flour. If you’re doing it in a mixer, it’s ready when the dough pulls away from the bowl.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface (I use my clean countertop as it doesn’t move around) and knead for 5 minutes if lots of kneading was done in the mixer. If doing it by hand, knead for about 15 minutes. You can knead it all in the mixer, but I prefer to finish it by hand. Dough is ready when smooth, satiny and lively. It’s really obvious when it gets to this point. As the Deli book says “It is easy to work with, and feels about as smooth as a baby’s tushy.” I love my deli cookbooks. If it is still sticky, add more flour. The dough has been kneaded sufficiently when two lightly poked finger holes spring back. Let the dough rest, covered, while you wash, dry, and oil the large bowl.

Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Turn it so that it is coated with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap (I do both, as per my dad) and place in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours. To check for proper rising, gently poke two holes in risen dough and leave for 5 minutes. If the holes remain, the dough is ready.

Flour your first and punch down the dough. Turn out and knead a few times. Then let it rest, covered for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to warm and place baking sheet on stove to warm. Grease warm sheet.

Divide the dough into three equal parts. The book has two with a top braid, but that always falls off for me, so I just skip it. Roll balls into snaked. Braid dough, starting in the middle and braiding out each way. Pinch ends under.

Place on sheet and cover dough with cloth to double in bulk, about ½ hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (the book says 400, but I think that’s for the monumental, ridiculous loaf).

Here you would mix your egg yolk with warm water to make a glaze and brush it over the dough and liberally add the poppy seeds. It looks really nice and if this bread is just for bread, do it. It’s worth it.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check at 30 minutes. When golden brown and a knuckle thump on the bottom produces a hollow sound, it’s done. Mine is usually done at 30 minutes. Let sit for 15-30 minutes, and then serve. Although my mom says this, I always snag a piece or two warm. It’s great by itself, or with butter or honey. As the Deli book says “Be careful or it will vanish before it even cools.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Buffalo Enchiladas

I was a pseudo-vegetarian for 10 years and only started eating red meat again summer 2007. Bacon destroys vegetarians. Anyway, while I still don’t eat much meat (veggie habits die hard), I do enjoy eating it from time to time. It makes making dinner with my meat loving husband much easier. One thing I’ve discovered is that I love buffalo meat. More specifically, I love the buffalo meat from Fred Meyer’s. I’ve tried buffalo burgers and such elsewhere and don’t like it at all, but when Aaron makes it at home, I love them.

We had had burgers a few days before and still had ½ a pound of buffalo meat, so we decided to make enchiladas. It’s a super easy thing to throw together with random things in the house. If you’re organized, it doesn’t take much time at all.

My general knowledge of putting together enchiladas comes from 1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore. It’s my go-to Mexican cookbook. These enchiladas are based on things we know we like and don’t like. It’s not super exact. Just do everything to taste and it should be fine.

Buffalo Enchiladas following guidelines from 1,000 Mexican Recipes:

I made 6, but it could make more

1/2 lb of buffalo meat (this can be easily replaced with ground beef or turkey or mixed veggies like red, yellow and green peppers)
1/4 yellow onion plus ½ yellow onion, chopped
Varied spices (We used cumin, Cajun spice that we got from the Saturday market, and chili powder)
About 2-2.5 cups grated cheddar cheese (This is what we had in the house. Monterey Jack also works really well.)
Corn tortillas (I really like the handmade ones from Trader Joe’s)
Green onion for garnish
Ranchero sauce (I had some my mom made, but you can make your own or use the red sauce from the can)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the buffalo meat and add water. Buffalo is really low in fat and won’t cook the same as ground beef. Mix in spices and ¼ onion. We used probably ½ teaspoon of each spice, maybe a little more on the cumin. Again, do this to taste. Simmer meat until cooked, about 20 minutes.

Place a little olive oil in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Using tongs, add one corn tortilla at a time and heat on both sides for about 3 seconds until limp. Drain and place these aside.

In a large casserole, spread some of the ranchero sauce along the bottom until thinly covered. Fill a large plate with the sauce as well.

After the tortillas have cooled, place them one at a time on the plate and flip to cover them in sauce.

To assemble, place a meat, onion and cheese in desired proportions in center of tortilla, roll and place seam side down in the casserole. Make sure to reserve some of the cheese and onion. After they are all assembled, cover them with the remaining ranchero sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese and onion.

Place in oven and cook until cheese is melted and gooey, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately. Depending on your ranchero sauce, salsa is a great topping. Guacamole and sour cream are as well. We had ours with tortillas chips (also from Trader Joe's).

These were very, very tasty. It could’ve definitely made more than 6 with all the meat we had, but the extra was good for nibbling on while waiting for dinner to be done. You can always save your cooked meat for another meal later. Especially with tortilla chips, this is a full meal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chicken Soup and Matzoh Balls

It’s been cold in Portland since I’ve been back from Europe. So I decided to make chicken soup and matzoh balls. I’ve talked for years about doing this and just never got around to it. Using that initiative, I made myself do it. After all, I am Jewish and chicken soup is Jewish penicillin. It’s something I should know how to make.

When it comes to cooking, I always assume it’s going to be amazing and I won’t have any trouble making it. It’s this ridiculous overconfidence that allows me to make complicated things on whims. It usually works out. Even when cooking with a whole chicken for the first time and coming across my very first parsnip.

I busted out my 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook by Sharon Lebewohl and Rena Bulkin, which my husband bought for me when I misplaced my other deli cookbook. It’s really well written and funny and I recommend it to anyway who wants to make deli food. I did run into a few hiccups while making this, like Safeway selling me a partially frozen chicken that I had to spend time defrosting the rest of the way. Other than that though, this came out really, really tasty.

Chicken Soup from The 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook:

Serves 8

1 pound chicken parts
2 stalks celery, including leafy tops, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 whole chicken, thoroughly rinsed
Salt to rub inside chicken [I used kosher]
1 large whole onion, unpeeled (find one with a firm, golden-brown peel)
1 large whole carrot, peeled
1 medium whole parsnip, peeled
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper [I probably used more like ½-¾ teaspoon]
1 bunch of dill, clean and tied with a string

I also added about 5 cloves of garlic. I did say I love garlic.

Note: The Deli’s recipe calls for both a whole chicken plus 1 pound of chicken parts. You can, however, use just 1 large chicken and cut off the wings, the neck, and a leg to use as parts. [This is what I did. Do not add the liver to the pot. Cook it up and give it to your dog or something.]

Pour 12 cups of cold water into a large stockpot, and throw in the chicken parts and celery. Bring to a boil. While water is heating, rub the inside of the whole chicken with salt.

Add the chicken to the pot, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Test chicken with a fork to see if it’s tender and fully cooked. I had to cook mine for another 10-15 minutes to get nice, tender chicken. Remove it from the pot, and set aside on a large platter. Leave chicken parts in the pot.

Add onion, carrot, parsnip, salt and pepper. Let soup simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The recipe is very non-specific about what to do with the veggies. Since you’ll be straining everything out in the end anyway, you can cut some of them down a bit. I cut my onion in half. As for my garlic addition, I lightly crushed 3 cloves and tossed them in as well.

When chicken cools, remove skin and bones and cut into bite sized pieces. You can add it to the soup, just before serving, or save it for chicken salad. I had enough for both the soup and a snack chicken salad for when I got hungry while cooking. Strain the soup, and discard everything solid except the carrot. You can keep whatever veggies you actually want in the soup and cut them up along with the carrot to add to it instead of throwing them all out.

Drop in the dill for a minute just before serving and remove. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice carrot and toss into soup. Also add the chicken pieces if desired. Add cooked noodles, rice, kasha or matzo balls.

This makes a ton of soup. When you’re done eating, let the rest of the soup cool, skim off the fat and refrigerate or freeze the rest. I refrigerated half and froze the other. When having some of the soup the next day, like all soups, it was even better. It could’ve lasted all week, but we just kept eating it!

While the soup was cooking, I got working on the matzoh balls. My husband doesn’t eat matzoh balls, so I made a half recipe, again from 2nd Ave Deli, and cooked up some noodles for him. This is the half recipe with my modifications. I ended up with 10 of them.

½ tablespoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/6 cup olive oil [the book says schmaltz, but I don’t have this nor do I want to make rendered chicken fat. I checked with my dad – olive oil is okay]
1/8 teaspoon pepper [this is the half size. It could really use a lot more.]
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ plus 1/6 cups matzo meal

Fill a large, wide stockpot three-quarters full of water, add ½ tablespoon of water, and bring to a rapid boil. If you’re doing a full recipe, it’s really important to have a wide stockpot. The balls need room to float while they’re cooking.

While water is boiling, crack eggs into a large bowl and beat thoroughly. Beat in oil, rest of salt, pepper and baking powder. Slowly fold in matzo meal, mixing
vigorously until completely blended.

Wet hands and, folding the mixture in your palms, shape perfect balls about 1¼ inches in diameter (they will double in size when cooked). Gently place the matzo balls in the boiling water, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place 1 or 2 in each bowl of soup. Serve immediately.

These came out so very good. They were fluffy and not too dense. Pretty dang close to perfect. When my parents came to visit the weekend after I made them, my dad told me I had done a very good job. But more pepper. My dad’s a pepper on everything guy, but I totally agree. Do not skimp on the spices for these.
Posted by Becca at 11:36 AM

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Green light: now begin

Hey, I’m Rebecca, known as Becca to most everyone. I decided to start a food blog because I love food, I come from a foodie home, I have too many unused cookbooks and I really want to encourage myself to cook at home more. The last part is the biggest and most important.

I was raised on delicious home cooked food. My dad was a professional chef and my mom is just a damn good cook. Not many kids get to have homemade cioppino and caesar salad for their birthdays. I also grew up in Alaska and thus have a lifelong love affair with really good seafood. All this cooking at home was a great way to grow up. I appreciate so many different kinds of food. My friends in high school used to make fun of me because I always smelled like Thai food. I also had the best sack lunches at school. I was a very lucky kid.

My food philosophy is fairly simple: add garlic. While this doesn’t work for absolutely everything, it works for most things. I love garlic and add it to pretty much all my food. Scrambled eggs? Garlic. Bread? Garlic. Sautéed vegetables? Needs more garlic.

My favorite cuisines to cook at home are Mexican and Italian, though I tend to lean on Italian more. I do explore in other areas, but when I’m just making something up on a whim, those two are the ones that come up.

So here I go on my cooking journey with the help of my husband, Aaron, some wonderful food blogs, my digital camera, all those cookbooks, my childhood background and my imagination.

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