Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Moussaka (vegetarian)

Moussaka is a traditional Greek pie/casserole made with lamb, eggplant, cheese and 2 sauces (tomato and a white sauce).  The tomato sauce, in typical Greek style is laced with oregano and cinnamon. 

I found this recipe many years ago, in a fundraising cookbook, "For Good Sports and Other Cooks," published in 1975 by the Denver Chapter of the American-Israeli Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center. A dear departed college friend, who was a fantastic cook, gave it to me when I was visiting him in Denver. The recipe, as I prepare it, has morphed a bit over the years.   The cookbook was highly innovative for a "Jewish" cookbook at the time in that there were many recipes of an "international" nature. The cookbook is not kosher, but nevertheless I have, over the years, found plenty of recipes to try (and love). 

The recipe is not complicated and I'm planning to share it at a bridal shower where guests have been asked to bring a recipe or two for the young couple. 

There are four components: 2 sauces, sliced eggplant and shredded/grated cheese. 

knife, slicer, casserole dish (I used a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish), saucepan, measuring spoons and cups. 

2 eggplant, peeled and sliced (best, but not required to slice and a dry a few hours prior to cooking)

Quick Tomato Sauce:
2-3 Tbsp olive oil 
2 medium onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 - 8oz can of tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen)
1- 4 oz can tomato paste plus 4-6 oz water
1 - 8oz package vegetarian "crumbles" (I use Morningstar Farms)
S&P to taste 
1/2- 1 tsp each: oregano , basil, ground cinnamon 

White Sauce:
2-3 Tbsp butter
2-3 Tbsp flour
2 c whole milk or 1c half & half and 1c skim milk
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt

1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2- 3/4 c grated cheese (e.g. Colby, Edam, Gouda)

1. Make the tomato sauce by sauteing onions until translucent, add garlic and continue to saute for another few minutes.
2. Add the crumbles, tomato paste, water and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the spices and herbs, add a bit of water if needed to keep the sauce thick and smooth. Cover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Heat oven to 350 degree.
6. Grease the baking pan. Take eggplant slices and make a single layer covering the bottom of the pan. Spoon sauce over the eggplant, covering in a thin layer. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and shredded cheese over the sauce.
7. Repeat to make a 2nd layer on top of the first. If you have eggplant slices, lay on top of layer two.
8. Prepare the white sauce by melting the butter, stirring in the flour and spices and cook for a minute or two. Stir and add milk. Simmer and stir until it bubbles and thickens.
9. Pour over the eggplant. Place in oven and bake approximately 45 minutes until very bubbly and browned on top.

Serves 4 amply.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Almond-Butter Chip Cookies (gluten free, vegan, kosher for Passover)

This is a Passover cookie with no eggs and no matzah meal.

When I made this cookie my son assured me that it did not taste like Passover, by which he means he likes them. The cookies are hand mixed and quick to make. 

large mixing bowl
measuring spoons, cups

6 oz package ground almonds or hazelnuts (don't use nut flour)
1/4 tsp sea salt 
1.5 tsp baking powder
3/4 c almond butter
1/2 c (scant) honey
1.5 Tablespoon vanilla extract 
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c semi sweet chips 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 heavy weight cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
2. Combine the ground nuts and baking powder , combine well 
3. In a small saucepan, combine the almond butter, honey and salt. Heat until the almond butter begins to melt. Mix well.  Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla extract. 
4. Add the melted almond butter mixture into the ground nuts. Mix with a spoon. Cool mixture. 
5. Add the chips
6. Portion small balls from the dough (about the size of a walnut). Place on prepared baking sheet
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookie will have a tendency to brown quickly on the bottom, you can use 2 baking sheets if this happens to your cookies 
8. Allow to cool on the sheet before you move the cookies. Store in a covered container. These cookies will store well in the refrigerator 

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies 

Another Passover favorite: Gluten Free Brownies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hamantachen with almond flour (NOT gluten free)

This recipe is a pareve version of the recipe printed in the on-line edition of The Forward from the fabulous bakery, Breads Bakery (located in New York and Tel Aviv). 

Breads Bakery is a fabulous bread and pastry bakery located in Tel Aviv ("Lechamim") and Manhattan (Union Square). In addition to bread, they also have a wonderful assortment of Jewish pastries (both European and Middle Eastern). This dough is different from any hamantachen dough I've ever made: no baking powder/soda, low ratio of eggs to flour and the addition of almond flour. Unlike the original recipe, I used margarine (Earth Balance) instead of butter. 

The filling in the cookies pictured above is Fred's (my husband and one of my taste testers) rendition of Surinam Haroset  adapted from the New York Times Passover Cookbook . Yes, he made the haroset last Pesach, I double wrap a few containers and use it over the year for baking. 

You can use your favorite filling, canned, jarred, or homemade. 

This dough is different than any other hamantachen dough I've worked with - it feels and acts more like marzipan.  It must be chilled for several hours (up to 24 hours).  You must let it come to room temperature before using (20-40 minutes) or it will be impossible to roll out. 

Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut circles. I use a glass with a 2.5" diameter, forming a smallish cookie (makes it easier to eat 2.........or 3!) 

measuring equipment (spoons, cups, scale)
stand mixer or hand mixer with large mixing bowl 
cookie sheet (s)
parchment paper 

6.6 oz margarine (13 Tbsp)- cut into small pieces
1.6 oz granulated sugar (1/4 c)
2.7 oz powdered sugar (very scant 1/2 c)
pinch of salt
2 large eggs (one for the cookie dough, one for the egg wash)
1.4 oz almond flour /meal
10.6 oz pastry flour OR all purpose flour (2 3/4 c + a bit more flour)

1. Combine the two sugars, making sure there are no lumps
2. Cream the butter, sugars and salt. Continue beating 3-4 minutes until very creamy
3. Add the egg and mix
4. Add the almond flour and mix
5. Add the wheat flour and mix until the dough forms a ball around the mixer blade (this will happen quickly.)  The dough will feel like a cross between play-doh and marzipan. Gather into a ball, place in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 2 hours up to 24 hours. 

6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (30-40 minutes).       Divide into 3-4 pieces (for ease of working and rolling out the dough). Preheat your oven to 350 
7. Lightly flour-dust your work surface and roll out one piece of dough to about 1/16" . Using a
    biscuit cutter or glass, cut out circles.  Use a spatula to help lift the dough circles if they are sticking
    to the surface

8.Brush off any excess flour and brush the circles with egg wash 

9. Spoon a small amount of filling onto the center of each circle. Fold three points of the circles, 
    keeping the filling in the middle to form a triangle. Pinch the seams. Move to a parchment lined 
    baking sheet and brush each cookie lightly with egg wash. 

10. Bake for 13-17 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before moving to a 
     cooling rack. Cool completely before packaging. The cookies will stay at room temperature for a
     few days, but I prefer to store them in the refrigerator.  You can also double wrap them and freeze 
     for up to several weeks. 

If you're looking for other dough recipes, click here: Traditional Hamantachen  or Yeast Hamantachen

Monday, February 27, 2017

Very Lemon Loaf Cake

This recipe is adapted from the "Lemon Cake" recipe from the 
Essential NY Times Cookbook. The original is dairy and relies on both a finishing syrup and glaze. 

This lemon cake is a very simple loaf cake, in this case made with soured non-dairy milk. The hot baked cake is reinforced hot with lemon syrup. The sparkly top is created by sprinkling sparkling sugar on top of the cake batter prior to baking. Sparkling sugar is available from King Arthur Flour  and Bob' Red Mill . I've found instructions to DIY sparkling sugar at the blog Two Sisters Crafting. The original cake uses fresh lemon zest, I opted for lemon oil. Use a good quality lemon oil. If you can't find it locally, it can be ordered from LorAnn Oils or Boyajian . Order the larger bottle and store in the refrigerator. 

Equipment :
measuring equipment
stand mixer or electric hand held mixer and large mixing bowl
2 medium size loaf pans 
small bowl to mix dry ingredients 
small sauce pan for making the syrup 

14 oz all purpose flour (3 cups)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
8oz margarine  I used Earth Balance baking sticks. (1cup) 
14 oz sugar (2 scant cups)
4 extra large eggs 
1 Tbsp lemon oil 
6 oz c non-dairy "milk" (e.g. almond, soy or rice), soured with 2 tsp white vinegar 
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract or Buttery Sweet Dough Emulsion from LorAnn Oils

Lemon syrup
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c fresh  lemon juice (don't use bottled juice)

2-3 Tbsp sparkling sugar 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (330 degrees in a convection oven). Grease and flour 2 medium sized loaf pans. "Sour" the "milk" by mixing with vinegar 
2. Sift or mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder in a small bowl 
3. Beat the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes)
4. Beat the eggs one at a time into the sugar-butter mixture
5. Combine the lemon oil with the "soured" milk 
6. Add the "milk" and dry mixture alternately to the butter, continue slowly mixing , ending with the flour. Mix only until blended.  
7. Using a spatula , divide the batter between the two prepared pans 
8. Shake the pan to even out and sprinkle the sparkling sugar over the top of the batters
9. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45-55 minutes (start checking for doneness and rich color after 40 minutes) 
10. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the lemon syrup by squeezing fresh juice, mixing with sugar and bring to a slow boil. Shut off and set aside. 
11. When the cakes are finished, leave the cake in the pans, place the pans on the racks and pour 1/2 of the hot syrup over each of the cakes.  Cool the cakes completely before removing from the pans. The top of the cake will remain sparkly and shiny from the sparkling sugar.
12. Wrap the cakes loosely.  They will stay well, covered, at room temperature for 2-3 days. Otherwise, double wrap the cakes and freeze up to 4 weeks. 

Serving suggestion: slice thinly, serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen non-dairy dessert. 

Another loaf cake you make like to try: Double Chocolate "Sour Cream" Loaf Cake

Happy Eating!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Savory Cheese - Olive Puff Pastry Braid (savory "Danish")

This is a puff pastry dough (Danish dough) with a savory filling.  The dough recipe comes from King Arthur Flour 's baking school.  My husband and I took a Danish baking class in January (a visit to Vermont in January that had nothing to do with skiing!) The class was lots of fun and although I may not choose to make Danish frequently, it's definitely something that can be made for "special occasions" and with a variety of unusual fillings. 

This dough has a goodly amount of butter. It was explained that "European style" butter, with a slightly higher fat content and slightly lower water content is preferable. At some point I'm going to try to create a non-dairy version, but in the meantime, here is the recipe as taught at KAF. 

Danish dough is a laminated dough, meaning that butter is worked into the dough in layers. The dough in the photo has over 75 layers - a process that will take several hours. That's the scary news, the good news is that you can prepare laminated dough and freeze it for later use. This is NOT rocket science, it's time consuming. 

Step 1: Make the yeast dough, chill a minimum of 5 hours or overnight. 
Step 2: "Lock" the butter into the rested dough, roll fold and turn 3 times. Rest time between each set of roll, fold, turn is 30 or more minutes a(either chilled or in a chilly room). After the third set of folds, chill and rest for 6 hours up to overnight (Allow 20-30 minutes to come to room temperature when you are ready to use it.)
Step 3: Shaping and filling danish. Let rest 1-3 hours. Fill, egg wash 
Step 4:  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. Optional wash with melted apple jelly or strained apricot jam. 

-Electric mixer (you can choose to stretch and fold by hand)
-A flat surface to roll out the dough. Marble, because it is cold, is the best, but any flat surface can work. Try to work quickly in a cooler room so that the butter doesn't melt
-Baking sheet, parchment paper 
-Scale, measuring cups, spoons, flexible dough scraper, bench knife (or sharp knife)
-mixing bowls 


This recipe will make 8 large individual Danish, 12 small Danish or 2 Danish braids.  Photos displayed show the procedure for forming a Danish braid. 

Basic Dough ("le detrempe") 
9 oz all purpose flour 
1 oz sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast 
1 egg
2 oz milk
2 oz water 
(my variation: 1/2 tsp lemon or orange zest, optional) 

Butter: 4 oz unsalted butter 

jam, sweetened cream cheese, farmer cheese/sour cream, etc.

Filling pictured:  8 oz farmers cheese, 4 oz full fat unflavored yogurt, 1/2 c chopped pimento stuffed olives and 1/4 c very finely diced scallion (mostly green portion). 

Egg wash

Make the basic dough (le detrempe).
Step ONE:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients
  2. Combine the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Add a bit more water IF you need it to create a cohesive dough
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute. Or combine in a stand mixer and combine for a minute or so at low speed.  This dough will NOT be smooth.  Place the dough in a plastic bag, or a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 5 hours or up to 10 or 12 hours. 
Step TWO (Locking in butter and laminating)
  1. Take a 4 oz piece of cold butter and let it soften a bit at room temperature (NOT too soft - you should be able to just make a slight indentation with your finger. 
  2. Place on a clean surface, pound down with a rolling pin, it should be pliable. Using the straight side of a bench scraper or knife, push into a 5 inch square. Slide a blade underneath the butter and let rest on a piece of waxed paper while you attend to the dough. 
  3. Remove the chilled dough and on a lightly floured board, roll out into a six inch square. Brush away any loose flour. Place the butter square at an angle (like a diamond shape on the square of dough). 
  4. Starting at any corner of the dough, pull and stretch toward the middle of the piece of butter. Repeat with the adjacent corner, pinching and sealing the edges of the dough, so that you are "sealing in the butter."  Repeat 3x so that you have a square of dough that resembles and envelope with a center of sealed butter. 
  5. With the butter locked in, roll the dough out to a rectangle, approximately 8x16.  Fold the upper 1/3 of the dough down toward the center and then fold the bottom 1/3 up toward the center. The piece will be a layered piece of dough, about 1/3  Turn so that the folded edges are to the right and the smooth edge to the left. At this point you've made the first of three folds. Cover or slip into the plastic bag and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to several hours).  The rolling out and folding process is repeated two more times.  This process is called LAMINATING the dough (creating butter-flour layers). 

             6.  The dough should rest for several hours before you proceed with making the pastry. You c
                   can double wrap and freeze the dough at this point.

Step Three: prepare the filling.
            1. You can use a number of different fillings. The filling pictured is a combination of
                 8 oz farmer cheese , 4 oz full fat unflavored yogurt, 1/2 c chopped pimento stuffed
                 olives and 1/4 c finely diced scallions (use more green parts than white). Mix well.
             2. Other filling ideas:  lemon curd  or lemon curd mixed with flavored cream cheese (12 oz
                 cream cheese, 2-3 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon extract, mix well), good
                 quality preserves, sweet- Sephardic style harsoset ( see our haroset filling )

Step Four: braiding

  1. Dust your work surface with a bit of flour. Working with cold (but not frozen) dough, roll out a 8x16 rectangle. Brush away any excess flour. 
  2. Divide the dough vertically along the length - forming two 4x16 pieces of dough.  
  3. To form the braid: Along the length of the dough, lightly mark the piece into thirds. Cut strips emanating from the inside border of the right or left third, out to the edge of the dough. You are essentially cutting "ribbons of dough along the right and left thirds. 

  4. Spread a thin layer of filling along the center third An bring a thin strip of the dough over the edge of the cheese and fold over the top ribbon at an angle. Press into place. 

5. Continue folding over the ribbons of dough, by alternating sides and pressing the edges onto the dough. 

6. Continue until the bottom strip, folding a thin strip up to enclose the cheese and tucking the last ribbon of dough.  Move the braided loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat for 2nd loaf. 

7. Cover and let rise in a draft free place for 1- 1.5 hours. Rising time varies, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The dough will look puffy when risen, although it will not double in bulk. Preheat the oven, 400 degrees. 

8. Egg wash: 1 whole egg, 1 Tbsp water, pinch salt (optional). Lightly spread egg wash over the dough. You can sprinkle with a non-melting sugar.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan after 10-12 minutes.  The pastry should look well cooked, not pale brown. 

9. Remove from the oven and cool. You can optionally brush with water-thinned apple jelly to create a shiny "skin" on the pastry. 

Baked pastries can be double wrapped and kept in the freezer for a month or two. 

Other delicious yeast-dough pastry on this blog include: Walnut- Maple Rugelach and  Yeast Hamantachen .  Happy Dessert Eating. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Viennese Style Fruit Tart (Fig- Orange variation)

Viennese Style Fruit Tart 
Fig-Orange Variation 

Fresh figs!  Picked and frozen at the end of the summer.  What a treat in February. 

Defrost frozen, whole figs, halve the fruit. Substitute a good quality orange marmalade for the preserve in the original recipe. 

Find the recipe at :Viennese Style Fruit Tart 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Yeast Cake Roll (Pastry dough) with chocolate or cinnamon or chocolate-orange filling

This yeast cake is flaky and pareve. Perfect with a cup of coffee, not too sweet as a breakfast treat. 
The recipe is a variation of "Coffee Cake Dough" by Ginsberg and Berg (Inside the Jewish Bakery). 

I love the recipes in Inside the Jewish Bakery, but at the same time I prefer my bake goods to be pareve.  Try the recipe once and see if you miss the butter. 

This dough needs a strong prolonged kneading period, you should use a Kitchenaid or electric mixer.
Mixing bowl  
Measuring spoons , cups
Rolling pin 
Frosting spreader or butter knife
Baking sheet , lined with baking parchment 

  • The method for making the dough is somewhere between a cake dough and a yeast dough. It's not hard to make, but will need an extended kneading period at speed 2 or 3 on the stand mixer (8-10 minutes). 
  • Once the dough is made it will need a 45- 60 minute proofing (rising) period. It can be covered and placed in the fridge to rise if you find you have other things to do.  If you chill the dough, allow about an hour to come to room temperature and continue to assemble the cake.
  • The assembly will remind some of you of making rugelach; however, the dough will handle somewhat like pie dough. 
  • There is no second proofing, so preheat the oven while you are assembling the cake rolls and pop in the oven once you've fully assembled. 

1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c coconut oil
2 large egg + 1 yolk
1 large egg white (for egg wash)
2/3 c water
2 1/3 c all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
Optional: if you are making a chocolate orange filling, add 1- 1.5 tsp orange oil to the dough.

Filling 1
1 can cake filling (e.g. chocolate shmear, cinnamon shmear, nutella,  Israeli chocolate spread, etc,) . For schmears - use the 8 oz can. All of the spreads are easier to work with if you warm them a bit - you want a very thin layer of filling.  If you have left over spread, wrap it and store in the fridge and use as you might jam for cookies or toast. 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup sliced almonds

Chocolate-Orange filling option 2:
Substitute the single flavor filling for a combination of orange marmalade and chocolate smear. Warm the mixture a bit to spread. For 2 loaves I used about 10 oz of the mixed spread.
Brown sugar and almonds as above.

  • combine the flour and yeast in a small bowl, set aside
  • cream the coconut oil and sugar, beat well until fluffy
  • add the whole egg plus yolk and salt, continue mixing 
  • add the water
  • add the flour/yeast mixture 
  • beat at speed 2 or 3 until the entire dough holds together and comes away from the side of the bowl, this could take up to 8-10 minutes 

  • cover the dough and set aside to proof for 45-60 minutes 
  • if you do not plan to complete the baking project at this time, place in the fridge and chill for up to 12 hours, remove from fridge and let the dough come to room temperature (about 45-60 minutes)

  • the proofed dough will be puffy and smooth 
  • gently fold and de-gas 
  • divide the dough in half 
  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees 

  • cover the piece of dough you are not working with
  • dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough to a thin sheet (approximately 20"x 12") 

  •  spread 1/2 of the spread  over the dough in a thin layer, leaving a border of about 1 inch along all sides
  • sprinkle 1/4- 1/3 c sliced almonds on top of the spread
  • sprinkle about 1/4 c brown sugar on top of the spread-almonds 

  • begin rolling up the dough along the long edge
  • flatten the roll as you move it along 
  • if necessary, use a flexible scraper to help move the dough along  

  • fold in the end piece, it will help form a better shaped log 
  • continue to roll and flatten the roll 

  • finish rolling, the seam should be on the bottom, flatten a bit with your palm
  • repeat with the process with 2nd dough portion  

  •  use the rolling pin to create an indentation running down the center of the log 

  • brush the egg white onto both logs 

  •  sprinkle almonds and brown sugar (about 1/4 c of each) , do not cut through or across the entire log 
  • place in middle shelf of the oven 
  • bake 30-35 minutes 
  • cool, loosely cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or store in the refrigerator 

Apricot Cinnamon Babka Ring

  • for longer storage, double wrap and freeze 

 Filling variation: chocolate spread/orange marmalade. 

Looking for something a bit more "cakey?"  Try Bread and Babka's  Apricot Cinnamon Babka Ring