Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coconut Dream Bars

It's hard to choose what my favorite chocolate bar is but a Mounds bar definitely makes the top 3. There is something about the chewy, sweet flavor of coconut with chocolate that is delicious and I am always drawn to recipes calling for the two together. This recipe has been on my to do list for about a year but since it calls for cream of coconut which is essentially sweetened condensed coconut milk and I could not find it in the literally 15 stores I looked in Israel I had to wait to make it. It all started when I got this bug in my head one week that I NEEDED to make this and spent too many hours and way too much gas in my car looking for it. I finally gave up and decided to make it when I got to America. Funny enough, I went to my parents house, opened a cabinet and what do you think was standing right there? That's right-the ever elusive can of cream of coconut. Even though the can looked like it went through something traumatic I whisked it off to the country with me so excited to finally satisfy my craving for these bars. I made the crust as per the instructions, and lovingly opened the can and BOOM-I was hit with a smell that can only be described as rancid- much like coconut covered dead animal - and had to throw out the can. Then came a new search for coconut milk that took me to 4 stores until finally I found it. What is the moral of this story? That after all that work, even if these bars were disgusting I would still eat them and serve them just for the effort that went into making them. Luckily for me and everyone I would have force fed them to they turned out great and for the next very long time I don't plan on making anything with coconut milk again. The End.

(adapted from Kitchen Adventures)
For the crust:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbl butter
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan and spray well with cooking spray. Process everything but the butter in a food processor until just chopped. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like course crumbs. Press it into the bottom of the pan and bake for about 18 minutes until golden brown. Cool.

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 cup cream of coconut ( Coco Lopez is a kosher brand)
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbl flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

In small bowl combine coconut and cream of coconut. In a different bowl whisk the eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla and salt together and then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Spread this mixture over the crust and then dollop the coconut mixture on top spreading it so that it covers the filling (it's ok if it isn't covered perfectly.) Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Cool and then cut into bars.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini Garlic and Parmesan Bubble Breads

I am already dreaming of breaking my fast on these and the fast is still a few days away. But what could be better then a big ole bite of these cuties? They are like cheesy garlic bread only cuter and just the thought of these makes me do a happy dance. If making bread is not your thing you can make this using frozen or pre-made refrigerator dough but of course there is nothing like fresh and one of the good things about this bread is you just have to roll the dough into balls- no fancy braiding- so that makes things easier. So bottom line, if the thought of bread dipped in a buttery,garlicky, Parmesan-y mixture and then baked with more Parmesan on top appeals to you then make these. If it doesn't appeal to you, than I'm not sure how we are friends to begin with. Enjoy!

Makes about 18 mini buns
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm milk or water  (make sure it's warm NOT hot)
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups flour
Dipping Mixture:

1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl dried chives
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt and pepper

Mix the butter, garlic, parsley, chives and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Season it with salt and pepper.

In a mixer place the warm milk and sprinkle in the yeast and mix well. Add the eggs and mix again. Mix the flour and salt together and add it in mixing at low speed. The dough will be a little sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place until it doubles. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Make small walnut size balls and dip each into the  butter mixture. Place three balls into each tin, drizzle each with the remaining butter mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden making sure they do not over bake.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spinach and Raspberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

How bright and beautiful does that salad look?!! This salad sings of summer and it is everything summer food should be- light, fresh and tasty. I've never seen fresh raspberries in Israel so I knew I wanted to do something while I'm here with these ruby beauties and they are just too pretty to not showcase whole. As for the raspberries that didn't fare so well in the package, I pureed them and add them to the dressing  which served to highlight the delicate raspberry flavor and added subtle sweetness ( if you don't want to make your own vinaigrette Ken's makes a great bottled raspberry walnut dressing that would go well here.) Add some sweet and juicy nectarines, fresh spinach, thin slices of red onion and some toasted pecans and OH BABY you got some good summer eats. I didn't add goat cheese here because most of the people I was serving this to wouldn't have appreciated it but I think the tang of goat cheese would be great in this salad as well. Enjoy!

1 lb of baby spinach
3 ripe nectarines, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1/2 cup toasted pecans 
1 log of goat cheese, crumbled

Toss the spinach gently with the nectarines, onions and raspberries and pecans. Drizzle with dressing and top with goat cheese and serve.

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup of raspberry puree (strained to get seeds out)
2 Tbl honey
1/3 cup light olive oil
4 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together to emulsify them . Drizzle over salad and serve.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

I love taking dishes that I eat all the time and reinventing them into new meals. One such dish is spinach artichoke dip-I have a little love affair with spinach artichoke dip as can be seen here, so much so that I developed a pareve version as well to enjoy often on Shabbat. Something about oozey, cheesey, gooey spinach with the texture of lemon scented artichoke is just divine and as I was dreaming about eating some one day I had the thought to take all the elements of the dip and make it into a pasta. Great idea, huh? I served this at my daughter's birthday party with lots of other adult food (the kids just got pizza) and I think this was the biggest hit. It truly tasted like the dip but the added bulk of the pasta made it into a hearty dish.  Make this for a meal during the 9 days and you will not be disappointed!

1 lb (500 grams) short pasta (I used farfalle)
15 oz (about 400 grams) frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of all water, and chopped
15 oz  (about 400 grams) canned or frozen artichoke hearts, drained and well chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups sour cream (shamenet chamutzah in Israel)
3/4 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, divided
zest of one lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, divided
salt , pepper, and granulated garlic to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Boil the pasta and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent. In a bowl mix the cream cheese, sour cream, onion and garlic mixture, lemon juice, zest, one cup of Parmesan and one cup of Mozzarella and mix well. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and mix with the pasta. Mix in the artichokes and spinach and pour into a buttered pan. Top with the remaining cheeses and bake until the top is golden about 20 minutes. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Corn Chowder

I know we are supposed to be somber during the 9 days and that is supposed to be reflected in part by our refraining from meat but honestly, I kind of look forward to the challenge of coming up with great dairy dishes every year. First up is this delectable corn chowder. I have always been intrigued by chowder which is a sort of soup/stew that is thickened with cream and is often based on seafood but I can't explain why-it has just always appealed to me. Ever since I have gotten to America this summer I have been eating absolutely sugar sweet fresh corn every week. The corn is so good that it is even delicious eaten raw and I can't get enough of it. Apparently, however, the recent heatwave that has me mercilessly melting is effecting the corn crop and it will soon be expensive and scarce. On that happy note, I realized I had to get all my corn projects in quickly and this came first. I am not joking when I say I made this hot, thick soup on the hottest day of the summer so far but I had it in my head to make it and I was not to be cowed by the sweltering heat. The truth is that the chowder was really delicious, subtly sweet from the corn and just super fresh and creamy tasting but I could have done without the sweat pouring down my face as I ate it. As good as it tasted fresh from the pot, the corn flavor actually got more intense when I ate some later after it had cooled for a while so I recommend making this delicious chowder a little in advance and then reheating it. Enjoy on a cool day :)!

3 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery,chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup flour
8 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
8 ears of corn, kernels removed (save the cobs)
2 1/2 cups half and half ( you can also use whole milk if need be)
salt and pepper

In a soup pot heat the butter and oil. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, thyme and carrot in the the butter until translucent and season with salt and pepper. Add the flour and saute another minute to cook the flour out. Add the stock, bay leaf, diced potatoes and cobs of corn, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes to develop good corn flavor and to break down the potatoes and then add the half and half and corn kernels. Bring to a boil again and then cook on medium flame for another 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, check to see if it needs more salt and pepper and serve!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Garlic and Lemon Kale

I don't know where kale has been my whole life but I first had it only a couple of years ago and was instantly hooked. It's taste is similar to spinach but I find it to be a heartier green and it has almost a bittersweet taste to it as opposed to the more mild spinach and it packs a massive health punch. Tons of vitamins and good stuff so it tastes good and is good for you (I sound like a commercial, don't I?)This recipe is my favorite way to eat kale. Sauteed in lots of garlic and seasoned with lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice it is just the perfect side dish to any meal. I have never actually seen kale in Israel though apparently you can get it in organic stores and I think someone in the neighborhood actually grows it and sells it in her garden but I have yet to try it so I'm loading up on all the kale here while its available, abundant and cheap. Many recipes I have seen call for boiling the kale before cooking it in the pan but I prefer to steam saute it by adding some water or broth while it's cooking in the pan and then cover it so it steams in the garlic oil. I think the texture comes out better this way but if your way is to boil first then go ahead. Enjoy!

1 lb of de-stemmed and de-ribbed kale
7 cloves of garlic (yes I know its a lot but its gooooood that way!), finely minced
3 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

In a large pot heat up the oil and then add the garlic. Saute the garlic making sure it does not burn and then add the kale tossing it with tongs so that the oil and garlic touch all the kale. You may need to add kale in batches to the pot as it wilts to fit it all in. Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest and toss well. Add the water, mix once and then cover the pot. Let the kale cook with the water for about 5 minutes. Uncover and keep sauteeing until all the greens are tender but not too limp. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and serve.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Yes, I realize that the title of this recipe practically takes up a page but it was crucial to let you know every element of this amazing bread. I have been wanting to make this for months and when I saw mini peanut butter cups in the supermarket last week I knew the time had come. Now, if you think peanut butter and banana don't go together then you never had my favorite sandwich which is peanut butter with banana and a drizzle of honey (also known as Elvis's favorite sandwich) because the combo is divine. Throw a little chocolate on top of it and it just puts it over the edge.  Trust me, you will NOT be disappointed if you make this but be warned, this bread is deadly to diet's everywhere. So enjoy and remember, "There is no wrong way to eat a Reese's" :).

(adapted from Cookies and Cups)
4 ripe medium sized bananas, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan well. In a bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl mix all the wet ingredients except the cups. Mix well but do not over mix. Gently fold in the cups and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist but clean.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Soy Ginger Rainbow Chard

Please scroll down and look at the first picture right away. Ladies and the approximately one gentleman that reads this-that right there is a thing of beauty. Rainbow Chard. The picture actually does not do the colors on the chard justice. The ribs are a hot pink, bright yellow, pink and white striped and more and they are gorgeous, almost too beautiful to eat- (swiss chard wall art anyone?)Actually, this is my first time ever seeing rainbow chard in person and I got them from a farm stand on the side of the road and was mesmerized by their color. They taste mostly like regular swiss chard but with a slightly stronger flavor and they are utterly delicious. I decided to go the Asian route with this batch because I have been eating lots of my favorite kale and wanted to change it up a little. Some fresh ginger, lots of garlic and a little soy gave these greens some great flavor. Usually the stems of chard are too tough to eat but these were so fresh that I just caught an inch off the bottoms, cut up the stems and gave them a little extra saute time in the pan and they were great. Just make sure to wash your chard well as can be pretty gritty. Taste the Rainbow!

1 large bunch rainbow chard, washed well and dried
3 Tbl olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tough part of the stems off and discard. Remove the rest of the stems and cut them into thin pieces. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic. Saute a minute making sure the garlic doesn't brown. Add the stems of the chard and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and red pepper flakes to the pan and then add the chard. Add the soy sauce, season with salt and pepper and cover the pan so the chard starts to wilt. Remove cover and let cook another 3-4 minutes making sure to toss the greens well with the garlic and ginger mixture. They are ready when they are nicely wilted and tender but have not lost all of their texture.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken, Kale and Sundried Tomato Burgers

I love opening the fridge and trying to come up with dinner with whats in it because it makes me feel like I'm on my own version of "Chopped" (you can tell what I've been watching since I've gotten here). True, I'm not under any time constraint and I usually don't have any weird ingredients like cow eyeballs or gingered beets to try to incorporate-ok, I guess it's not like Chopped at all- but I still like to pretend I'm competing. This morning I opened the freezer to find an insane amount of ground chicken and some beautiful kale and sun dried tomatoes soaking in olive oil in the fridge. Ground chicken is not that flavorful on it's own and tends to be pretty dry so I figured adding lots of moist and yummy stuff to the chicken would make a delicious and flavorful burger and being prime grilling season adding some smokey flavor from the grill would just put these over the top. Slathered with a little Dijon-Mayo on a bun with some lettuce, tomato, and caramelized onions they were yummy- moist, flavorful with a lovely tang from the tomatoes and much healthier than a beef burger. All in all, not too shabby a dinner from just things I found in the fridge. Stay tuned for the next episode of Bungalow Fridge Chopped! Enjoy!

1 lb ground chicken breast
3 cups de-ribbed kale, chopped
2 Tbl olive oil
2 large cloves garlic,minced
1 onion, diced
2 Tbl olive oil
4 sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped

In a pan heat up the first 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the garlic. Add the kale and saute the kale till tender. Cool the kale mixture, chop it, garlic and all and add it to the chicken breast. Saute the onion in the remaining oil until nicely caramelized, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and add to the chicken along with the sun dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Shape into patties and grill or pan fry.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Loaf Cake

My Blogcation is officially over. I have been itching to get back to the kitchen and try new things and I just couldn't wait any longer and since I have been eating blueberries since I've gotten to America like crazy and I  can't get enough of them this was what I decided to make first. It is sort of a cross between  a quick bread, a pound cake and a loaf, so I was confused about what to call it, but man, is it darn good. To me the flavor of lemons and blueberries together is a thing of beauty, well really the flavor of lemons with anything is a thing of beauty and so this loaf cake bread thing was the first thing I had to make.

Now, let me digress. I have a major obsession with lemons that I haven't yet expounded on and I really think it is time. When I bought my house, one of the main things I wanted was a garden so I could plant a lemon tree. I had visions of coming out to the lemon tree every day just to smell how fragrant they were and picking truckloads of lemons to literally put in every corner of my house. I was going to make fresh lemonade every day and use lemons in everything and I would be gloriously happy for the rest of my life. 
Well, the first problem arose when our house came with a garden the size of doormat so that put a little damper on things. But I was not to be deterred from my beautiful vision. Once we moved in a friend of mine's husband who has a nice green thumb brought us a lemon tree and delicately planted it in our itsy bitsy garden. I was super excited and couldn't wait for my little lemons to come in. I checked on it every day, watered it often and patiently waited for my lemons to make their appearance. And then reality came crashing down as the Neve Daniel winds beat and battered my little lemon tree to a pulp as I sadly watched from the window. Within a month I was left with twigs on the floor and no trace of a lemon. Sadness for me. 

Am I being over dramatic? Maybe a little. But you get the point. I love me my lemons. And after that maudlin story, hope you enjoy your loaf!

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
zest of 3 lemons or 3 tsp lemon zest ( I like things SUPER lemony, but if you like mild lemon flavor use only the zest of 2 lemons)
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil

1 pint blueberries
1 Tbl flour

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan well. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Mix the sugar, eggs, yogurt, lemon, oil and vanilla. Toss the blueberries with the flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake and gently fold them in. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then remove from pan.

For the Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tbl lemon juice

Whisk the sugar and the juice together to get a glaze consistency and pour over the loaf when cooled.

                             Sorry for the lighting but at least you have some rustic bungalow background.