Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cherry- Cheese Coffee Cake

This delicious cake was last week's Shabbat morning treat. Ever have a cherry- cheese knish? My father used to get them every Saturday night from the pizza store and they were heavenly! The flavor of this cake reminds me of those long ago knishes- the buttery base, topped with a cheese cake-y layer and then some cherry jam and just to add a few more delicious calories- a butter crumb topping. Now, wouldn't you want a slice of that with your morning coffee? Unfortunately, if hubs and I had eaten the whole thing ourselves (something not beyond the realm of possibility) we would have not enjoyed the consequences so we tried to share the wealth with some friends who were more than happy to oblige. It's good stuff, let me tell you. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or dairy dessert and you can change up the flavor by trying out different jams- raspberry would also be delicious. It's a keeper! Enjoy!

2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter cut into pieces
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup (8oz) cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup good quality cherry jam

Grease and flour a 9 inch spring form pan and preheat the oven to 350. Combine the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor till you get course crumbs. Set aside one cup of it for later. To remaining mixture add b.p, b.s, salt, sour cream , vanilla and egg. Process till smooth.
Spread batter into bottom and a little up the sides of the pan.
In a mixer beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg till smooth. Pour into the pan over the base. Carefully spread the jam over the cheese mixture and then sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Plum Bread

Recently, I have started a new and fattening tradition of making a dairy confection to enjoy with my brewed coffee Shabbat morning. During the week it is drink my coffee and go but on Shabbat I get to slowly savor it and what better way to savor it than with a butter-rich delicious cake. I didn't mean to make this a tradition, but I have found myself whipping things up on Friday even when I barely have the time just in anticipation of Shabbat morning. Three times is a charm and now I have no choice but to continue. This was one of the first cakes I made for the occasion. Please do not be fooled by the some what boring name, Plum Bread- this is more like a heavenly, buttery, plum-y, moist, melt in your mouth, sweet and tart cake that is just baked in a loaf pan and thus resembles bread- but I could hardly fit that all into the title, could I? Trust me, you want to make this and you don't want to wait for Shabbat. If you don't have plums you can substitute any stone fruit but I think the plums add something different and the sweet, tart flavor of them is delightful. Enjoy!

4 large plums, pitted and chopped
1 Tbl flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vamilla extract
2 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup plain yogurt

Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan well. Sprinkle plums with flour, mix and set aside. Beat butter, sugar , vanilla and lemon zest. Beat in eggs. In a seperate bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir dry in to the wet ingredients alternating with the yogurt. Mix until smooth. Stir in plums gently. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center yields moist crumbs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mango Rice

I am making a full confession right now.
I have issues with rice.
There. I said it.
I can make gourmet meals, tackle complicated recipes, cook for 250 people but I have trouble making rice. Something so simple gives me so much trouble. People have suggested that maybe it's because rice needs to be timed perfectly and have exact proportions and I do not cook like that. I throw ingredients in pots without measuring, never use timers and often rely on my sense of smell to tell me when something is ready. Well, let me tell you, I am an expert on what burned rice smells like. But I refuse to give up. I will keep cooking rice until I am a rice making expert and no, I will not buy a rice maker to help me on this mission. Oddly enough though, the rice fairy was with me  as I made this mango rice. Maybe it was the mango, maybe it was that I had enough patience to be near the stove the whole time or maybe crossing my fingers actually worked this time because my rice came out PERFECT! No random hard uncooked grains, no burnt chunks at the bottom and no starchy clumping-yay!! Likely, this was a fluke but who knows, maybe my rice luck has changed.

This mango  rice is very simple, yet the mango and coconut milk give it a little interesting and exotic touch. I served it as a side dish to my chicken with mushrooms and curry which was a little spicy because I thought the sweet mango would compliment the spicy chicken well and it did.  Because the mango is actually cooked with the rice you don't have to use a perfectly ripe mango- it will still come out sweet and delicious. Truthfully, I could have probably added a cup of sugar to the mixture and called it dessert but I'll save that experiment for a different time. Enjoy!

2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups rice
1 can coconut milk (about 400 ml)
2/3 cup chicken stock or water
1 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper
one large mango, diced

In a saucepan heat the oil. Saute the rice in the oil for two minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil fold in the mango, cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Shut the flame and let the rice steam for 5 minutes before opening the pot.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jerusalem Artichoke and Leek Soup

Sunchokes, otherwise known as Jerusalem artichokes, are these interesting looking tubers that until now I had never tasted before. Call them what you will, but I call them confusing- they are neither from Jerusalem nor do they have anything to do with artichokes. They don't look sunny, though they do look like you could choke on one of them and they are certainly not the most appetizing looking veggie in the bin with their wrinkly brown skin. I have passed them numerous times in the store and almost never give them a second glance- they always seemed complicated and strange as though they should still be underground. Interestingly enough though, these gnarled, lumpy and bumpy tubers are related to the pretty sunflower- go figure! But I was recently in the shuk and passed a whole stand of them and something about them was screaming at me to buy them -oh, wait, that was the shuk vendor screaming at me to buy them- but it worked, because I packed up a kilo of them and made my way home. Don't judge a book by their cover is an apt description for their taste. Underneath their brown skin is a glossy white vegetable who when sliced thinly and eaten raw sort of remind me of a Jicama- slightly sweet, a little crunchy and altogether inoffensive. Cooked, however, they start to resemble a potato but with it's own mild distinct flavor that tastes like surprise, surprise- an artichoke! You can roast them, mash them or throw them raw into a salad (just have some gas-x handy if you are going to do that because they are known to wreak some havoc in that department) but I decided to make a pureed soup out of them. This soup is simple but delicious and as the sunchokes are mild I didn't want any intense spices overwhelming their flavor.  So  if you are like me, and have avoided those sunchokes because they looked like scary witches fingers to you, do yourself a favor and try them- they're delicious! Enjoy!

1 Kilo (2 pounds) Jerusalem Artichokes, pelled and chunked
3 Tbl Olive oil
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 cups chicken stock ( I recommend chicken stock because it really adds depth of flavor but use vegetable stock or consomme if that is all you have)
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot heat the oil and saute the leeks, garlic, carrot and celery until the vegetables are translucent. Add the sunchokes and the stock and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and let the soup simmer for about an hour. Puree with an immersion blender and serve.

                                                        Our Main Charachter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken Thighs (Pargiyot) in Coconut Mushroom Sauce

I have emerged from my blogcoma!!! My blogcoma (pronounced like glaucoma if you were wondering) ie: my complete disappearance from my blog for over a month was due to weeks of unrelenting catering in which I did nothing but cook. Needless to say I had not a minute to concoct anything special for myself or my family nor did I frankly have any time to breathe. BUT the saving grace was that once all the catering was done I hopped on over to the dead sea for 3 days of rest and relaxation so I am back in blog mode and I have to say this dish is a fitting come back. It is DELUMCIOUS!!!! FYI- Delumcious is my new word to describe something that is both delicious and yummy- I find that I have a hard time thinking of synonyms for delicious so I will from now on just make up my own words. For this recipe I simmered Pargiyot (skinless, boneless dark meat chicken-though you can use chicken breast or chicken pieces) in a mushroom coconut curry sauce using portabella mushrooms and these funky Shimeji mushrooms I found in the supermarket though you can use any assortment of mushrooms you find.  My house smelled like a Thai paradise while it was cooking and  I had to force myself not to stick a straw in the pan and slurp. And if you are wondering if you can come over to taste the leftovers- the answer is, there are no leftovers- it was just too darn good to leave any over! Enjoy!

6 Pargiyot
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic
3 Tbl oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger
4 portabella mushrooms, slices
1 package shimeji mushrooms, stem removed
1 can coconut cream ( you can use coconut milk as well but coconut cream is thicker and has a stronger coconut flavor)
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbl curry powder
1 pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbl fresh cilantro or parsely for serving

Coat the chicken in the flour. Heat the oil and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken from the pan. To the same pan add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Add the coconut, stock, curry powder and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil and reseason with salt and pepper if needed. Add the chicken back into the pan and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chicken in the sauce for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.