Saturday, July 24, 2010

Annapolis, Meatballs and Ice Cream (and Shabbos Cooking)

Earlier this week, my mother and I headed into Annapolis for a little day trip. I mention this only because I wanted to include that picture. It's a pretty place and probably a lot more pleasant to hang out when it isn't 90 degrees out.

Now on to cooking. Wednesday night, I made some D-E-LICIOUS sweet and sour meatballs for dinner. The recipe was given to me by a friend who we stayed with for Shavuos last year. She had made it as an appetizer for a yom tov meal, but I felt pretty confident that, if served with whole wheat pasta, it would make an excellent weekday dinner. Boy was I right! It was not only incredibly yummy, but it was really good and filling too! It lasted two nights (even with Yaakov eating it!)

Now, here's what I discovered: It's a little difficult to take appetizing pictures of sweet and sour meatballs with a point and shoot camera. But here's what I've got for you:

The above photographed meatballs are not fully cooked. Once cooked, the coloring is darker. Also, this picture doesn't convey the awesome smell, or that perfect tangy taste against the savory meat.

The recipe is so simple and they come out so amazingly yummy, you've really got to try it! (The recipe is at the end of this post). Another cool thing about this recipe is that, once the meatballs were gone, there was plenty of sauce left over and I was able to use it in my cholent for shabbos. Sweet and sour cholent? Awesome.

Now, today was forecast to be over 100 degrees, so I decided that in the spirit of summer, I'd try out a friend's recipe for pareve mint chocolate chip ice cream. I would share the recipe, but I don't think I'm allowed to. So, instead, I'm sharing pictures. I don't have any of it nicely scooped into a cone, but I do have these shots of the ice cream maker at work: The one above is right after the batter was poured in and the one below is about 20 minutes later when it started to turn into ice cream.

Other than sweet and sour cholent (which is just the sauce, some quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, and meat), I also made some honey ginger salmon, soy sauce green beans and mushroom garlic couscous.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

• 1 pound ground beef
• 1 egg
• ½ c. bread crumbs/matza meal
• ½ onion, grated
• ¾ tsp. salt
• ¾ tsp. pepper
• ½ tsp. oregano

• 1 c. jellied cranberry sauce
• ¾ c. ketchup
• ¼ c. brown sugar
• 2 tsp. lemon juice
Pineapple juice to cover the meatballs

1. simmer sauce ingredients for 25-30 minutes, stirring often
2. form meatballs into 1 inch balls. Add to sauce and simmer for 1 hour.

Honey Ginger Salmon

  • Salmon fillets

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup honey

  • 1 tbsp (ish?) soy sauce

  • 1 tsp (ish?) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • a pinch of fresh ground black pepper

1. Mix the sauce ingredients until completely combined.
2. Pour over the salmon. Sometimes, I dredge them in a little flour first so that the sauce will stick better.
3. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 15-20 minutes. (check the fish after 15 minutes to see if it's cooked through)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Challah and Birthday Cake

As my avid readers may be aware (hi, Mom! Just kidding. My mom doesn't read this...), my brother and his wife are currently in town visiting from Israel. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to have my sister-in-law as a baking partner in crime.

Together, we've tackled two projects. The first was challah, last Thursday. This time I tweaked the recipe yet again. I used 1 and half times my previous ingredient amounts and managed to get the whole five pound bag of flour into the dough, so I could do hafrashas challah with a bracha. Also, my SIL gave me some excellent advice for getting my challah to come out moist and awesome- put a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven while the challahs are baking. They came out amazing. They were the perfect texture and the perfect flavor (just a little sweet, but not overly so) and were a big hit. It's a good feeling to finally perfect a recipe. This made 3 large challahs, 3 small challahs, and 3 rolls. So this batch should last for exactly three weeks, no problem.

The second project was a special undertaking that my SIL and I had been planning for almost a month. It was a birthday cake for my dear brother (and her husband) decorated with fondant. We spent all Sunday on it, between shopping for supplies, baking the cake and decorating, but it was well worth it in the end when we got to present it to him.

For the cake part, we used my friend Aviva's amazing vanilla cake recipe, because it's delicious and firm, which is important when using fondant. We iced it with a basic buttercream, using margarine instead of butter to keep it parve. And for the fondant, we used store-bought Wilton's brand, but I think in the future, I'll make my own if I can. It tasted like playdough, so it had to be removed before eating. I'd been anticipating this, since I read enough blogs to know that fondant doesn't usually taste too good, but I've found recipes for fondant that actually taste like sugar. I'm told they're harder to work with, but I think it might be worth the extra effort.

The cake was both beautiful and delicious, which was nice since this was my first time ever using fondant. Of course, most of the tough fondant work was done by my SIL, Mya. Way to go! Hopefully, I could do it on my own down the road.

My next project will be to try out a recipe which a friend recently developed for egg-free, pareve ice cream. I'm aiming to make it this shabbos, but it might not get done, so we'll have to see.

For dinner tonight: Sweet and Sour Meatballs (This is a recipe which I waited for over a year to get from a friend, and I finally have the time to make it. Here's hoping I can make it as good as she did!)

Be well, everyone!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Photographic evidence!

This week I decided to try making more of those lime meltaway cookies from last week, but this time I made them without the zest and with the right amount of sugar. And guess what! Turns out the zest adds something after all. Don't get me wrong, they're still decent cookies, but without the zest they lack a certain...well...zest. I did, however, manage to take pictures this time (See above ^_^)

I also made a second batch of these cookies which used almond extract instead of lime juice. Now, since almond extract has a much stronger flavor than lime juice, I decided to use only 1 tablespoon instead of 2. I don't think the flavor came through too well, though. I might try using more next time.

I'll update this post on Sunday when the votes are in from the rest of the family.

Oh, and good news! I left two logs of dough in the freezer to bake later, when my brother and sister-in-law are in town. That way they can have some fresh from the oven. You're welcome! :oP

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My sister's engaged! And I baked more cookies!

Well, if you haven't heard yet (and I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog has heard) my wonderful big sister, Rachel, is engaged! :oD You can read the FAQ about the engagement here.

Needless to say, we're all very excited. But my excitement over the engagement doesn't keep me from baking. Last week, I forgot to blog about the gingersnaps I made. The recipe is from David Leibovitz, Chez Panisse Gingersnaps I didn't take any pictures of the cookies, but they looked pretty much like he pictures them. These were my first attempt at "icebox" cookies. I was surprised to find that after about an hour in the frechallaezer, the cookies still smushed instead of slicing cleanly, like I'd anticipated. It didn't effect the outcome of the cookie, which was delicious. So much so that I didn't even care that they were crunchy! They were also VERY easy to make. If you read his blog post about them, that was the exact point of the recipe.

This week, I made Key Lime Meltaway Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. I decided to make these when I found the recipe using the "surprise me" button on the blog. The pictures looked so amazing and the recipe sounded so simple and delicious I really just felt like I had to make them. Once again, I failed to get pictures of them, but they came out just like the ones on SK.

Two things about making these cookies:
1) Using a zester is probably a better idea than zesting limes with a peeler. It took a very long time (about 30 minutes or so) just to zest the limes and then I had to chop the zest. Next time, I'll have a zester.
2) Pay very close attention to the instructions. While it lists 1 cup of confectioner's sugar in the ingredients, you're only supposed to use 1/3 cup in the cookies. The rest are for coating them after baking. I made the mistake of putting in the full cup and spent a bit of time wondering if I should start over, triple the recipe or just pretend it didn't happen. I decided on the latter and, fortunately, it didn't seem to make a difference. Or maybe it did. Who knows?

Now, I think my grandmother said it best when describing these cookies: "As Sara's friends say, these are 'awesome!'"

They really are phenomenal cookies. My father suggested trying them as almond cookies, lemon cookies, or any other fun kind of cookie. I think I will at some point. But as lime cookies, they really are something special. My only recommendation is to leave them in the freezer quite a bit longer than an hour. Maybe overnight? That way they'll slice much better. I'll make the dough on Thursday night next time. Maybe I'll make a little extra to keep in the freezer for those cravings, like the blog recommends. ;)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Chicken Wraps with Grilled Veggies

For a while now, I've been wondering how my George Foreman grill would handle veggies, like zucchini and peppers. So today, on a whim, I decided to find out. I sent Yaakov to the store this morning to get chicken fillets, zucchini, yellow squash, a red bell pepper, a purple onion and some mushrooms.

After seasoning and grilling the chicken, and grilling all the veggies, I put everything on a plate and served it with various spreads (chummus, schug, mayo, pesto, etc.) and tortillas so that everyone (that being the huz, my brother and myself) could put together their own wraps. This seems to have worked out well. Everyone enjoyed it and it was filling and relatively healthy. If you want to really rev up the health factor, it might be smarter to make it a salad instead of a wrap considering that tortilla wraps add calories, carbs, sodium and fat that you don't really need. But they also add flavor, depth and fun, so I'm all for them.

To assemble these guys, put a tortilla down on a dry plate. Put your spread directly on the tortilla, focusing on the middle (I used roasted red pepper chummus on mine). Lay a few strips of grilled chicken right down the middle leaving about an inch on the bottom and top of the tortilla (see the picture below). Add on the grilled veggies, keeping it all in the middle and continuing to leave room at the top. Be careful not to overstuff! If you put too much in the middle, you won't be able to fold it. When you're ready, fold down the top and bottom parts over the filling and then bring in the sides, being careful not to push the top and bottom flaps out. It takes some practice, but it's not too hard once you get used to it.

Carefully slice the wrap down the middle for the best presentation. Eat and enjoy!