Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chewy Quinoa Bar Cookies (pareve, gluten free, Kosher for Passover)

This recipe was inspired by a number of recipes I've recently seen that call for cooked quinoa as one of the ingredients. Most caution that the cookie in question is not gluten free. I realized that if I could work out a recipe that is gluten free it would also be kosher for Passover. Because it's gluten free it doesn't have the "matzah cake-meal" taste that some members of our family complain about. If you are allergic to tree nuts, this recipe is definitely not for you.

The batter is very easy to make and requires no exotic baking equipment or hard to find ingredients.

The batter is prepared in a large bowl and mixed by hand. It is heavy and sticky, so make sure to line the pan with parchment. This will allow you to remove the baked cookie bar and cut the bar into smaller cookie squares. Baking parchment can be purchased in most supermarkets and is available on line. I often purchase my baking parchment from Plastic Container City, an on-line source for disposable baking pans and baking accessories.

kitchen scale (optional)
large mixing bowl
mixing spoon
silicone spatula
measuring cups, spoons
9x9 baking pan
baking parchment

1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c (3.8 oz) brown sugar (pack it well into the measuring cup)
1/4 c (2.5 oz)  honey
2 extra large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp almond or hazelnut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 c (4.5 oz) finely ground nuts or nut flour (I used hazelnuts, but almonds would will work as well)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c  (3oz) cooked and cooled quinoa
1/2 c  (3oz) chocolate chips
1/3 c (1oz) coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)

1. Preheat oven to 370 degrees, the baking rack should be in the top 1/3 of the oven. Line the pan with parchment paper. Measure all of the ingredients.
2.Combine the oil, brown sugar, honey and eggs in the large bowl. Mix well.
3. Add the extracts and mix.
4. Add remaining ingredients, mixing after each addition. You will have a thick sticky batter.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Slip the pan into the oven, lower the heat to 350 and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 and bake an additional 20 minutes. Test to make sure cookies are done. 6.Shut off the oven and leave cookie bar in the oven to cool completely.
7. Lift the entire bar (using the sides of the parchment paper) and place on a flat surface. Cut into 16 squares. Using a flat edge spatula, slide the edge of the spatula under the cut bars and separate from the parchment. Place the cookie square on a dish or in a storage container.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Last Minute Vegetable Soup (Yellow version) - a no-recipe-recipe

Onions, winter squash and just about anything else you have in the kitchen mixed with vegetable stock or water or bullion......an all purpose soup (or veggie stew).  So easy you can do this with your eyes closed.

Full "recipe" on food52.com


Monday, December 16, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Biscotti (Mandelbread)

Lemon Blueberry Biscotti is a twice-baked cookie that has the tingle of lemon and the sweetness of blueberries.  Because the recipe uses dried blueberries you can enjoy this summertime taste in the dead of winter. 

For more information on twice-baked cookies follow this link. 

Fred is not a fan of the winter and so I thought that a lemon-blueberry something or other might make him momentarily forget that winter has arrived. This is an easy-to-bake one bowl recipe that can be mixed, baked and finished in about 2 hours (most of which is passive baking). Clean up is easy since there is no mixer and I suggest the use of parchment paper to line the pans. Baking parchment is available in the supermarket, although I've purchased pre-cut sheets at a better price from Plastic Container City (a web-based source).  

Choreography and Equipment: 
Measure (measuring cups, spoons and small bowls) all of the ingredients 
Mix ingredients in a large bowl with a large mixing spoon
Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment (the cookies may burn on a thin baking sheet) 
Form three logs along the width of the sheet
Bake for about 30 minutes, slice, sprinkle with a sugar/citric acid mixture (for additional sweet-tart flavor) and bake again for 20 minutes
Cool completely while in the oven 

1 cup  (8 oz) neutral flavored oil (canola, corn) 
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar 
3 extra large eggs 
1/2 cup (1 oz) nut flour or nut meal (almond or hazelnut).  
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon oil * (you can use lemon extract, the flavor will not be as sharp)
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp Kosher salt 
1/4 cup (2 oz)  minus 2 TBSP water 
5 cups (20 oz) unbleached, all purpose flour 
1 1/4 tsp baking powder 
1 cup (6 oz) dried blueberries 
For sprinkled topping:  1/4 c demerara sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp citric acid*

* Lemon Oil and Citric Acid (also called Sour Salt ) are available in supermarkets with larger baking sections. You can also find these ingredients on-line. A good internet source includes LorAnn Oils and Flavors . 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure all of the ingredients.

2. Using a large mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. 

3. Add the nut meal, flavorings, zest, salt and water. Mix well 

4. Combine the flour and baking powder (either sift together or mix well) . Add to the oil/egg mixture. 

 5. Add the blueberries and mix.

6. With the dough, form 3 logs along the width of the baking pan. Slightly flatten the top of each log.

7. Bake the cookie logs for 30-35 minutes until they begin to slightly brown. While the logs are baking, combine the demerara sugar and citric acid.

8. Remove the partially baked cookie logs from the oven. Allow to cool for 4-5 minutes and then carefully slice the logs to form cookie slices (about 1/2- 3/4 inch thick).

9. Turn the sliced on one side and sprinkle with the demerara sugar mixture.

10. Return the baking sheet to the oven, lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Shut the oven off and cool the cookies completely in the oven.
11. Store the cookies in a closed container. They will stay crisp at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap the container and freeze for up to one month.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mafrum : meat stuffed vegetables cooked in a spicy tomato sauce

Mafrum is a fabulous stuffed vegetable dish originating in Libya.  

We learned to prepare it from Shalom H., an Israeli friend whose family comes from Egypt. Watching Shalom cook is a treat - he has an innate talent for cooking - we slowed him down by asking him to actually measure and describe what he was doing as he cooked. We look forward to sitting in his new kitchen to continue learning from him.....

Mafrum, I have recently learned from a colleague, has some similarities to a Puerto Rican/ Latin American dish called Rellenos de Papa  or Papas Rellenas (stuffed potatoes). Perhaps Mafrum, a North African/Middle Eastern dish has Spanish roots as well.  Maybe all roads making use of nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers- sweet & hot) lead back to Christopher Columbus.

From my limited research Libyans favor stuffing eggplant for their mafrum (eggplant is a nightshade plant originating in India), Israelis favor stuffing potatoes; Shalom said we could also stuff sweet potatoes, eggplant or plantains.

Preparation of mafrum is time consuming, but not difficult. It can be frozen for a short period, but is best served fresh. Since it doesn't require the use of chometz (Shalom instructed us to use matzah meal OR bread crumbs in the meat) we've made mafrum for Passover - an interesting addition to our Ashkenazi table.

This recipe is an amalgam of Shalom's recipe combined with a few ingredients and preparation elements from Jerusalem Cookbook (Ottolenghi & Tamimi, Ten Speed Press, 2012).  Mafrum is traditionally simmered in a covered pot and traditionally the potato is "almost" sliced in half and the slit filled. In Jewish homes it was prepared as a Shabbat lunch dish, meaning that it would simmer overnight in a communal oven or be kept warm on a "platta" (hot plate) overnight. We prepare mafrum using a lightly oiled baking dish, adding a bit of additional water to the sauce covered stuffed vegetables, covering tightly with foil and baking it in a moderate oven for 1 1/2- 2 hours. For those who are Shabbat observant, the tightly covered dish can be transferred to a hot tray and kept overnight if you want to use it for a very impressive Shabbat lunch. The longer the mafrum cooks the creamier the potatoes (or eggplant or plantain) will become. Be careful not to allow it to dry out.

This recipe will easily serve 12-14 as a main dish.


  • Prepare the sauce, simmer while you are working with the meat and stuffing vegetables 
  • Mix the meat filling 
  • Prepare the potatoes or other other vegetables for stuffing 
  • Stuff the vegetables, place in a baking pan
  • Pour sauce over the stuffed vegetables 
  • Cover tightly and bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours
  • Serve warm with cous-cous or rice 

The sauce:
(Adjust spices to your taste, use measurements as a starting point.)
1 large onion, diced    
1-2 tsp finely diced garlic
3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, diced
small amount of olive oil for sauteing the vegetables
1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder (start slowly, you can always add more)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds (grind or pulverize in a mortar & pestle)
2 Tbsp tamarind paste (can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocery stores)
3 small cans tomato paste (plus 7-8 can-fulls of water, plus more if needed)
2 tsp granulated sugar

The bits of potato or other vegetable centers can be chopped and cooked in the sauce.
Optional sauce additions, according to Shalom, can include zucchini, mushrooms and dried figs. 

Meat Filling: 
(Adjust the spices to your taste)
3 lbs ground beef
1 tsp salt (omit if you are using kosher meat)
1 large onion, diced
1-2 tsp finely diced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp thyme
1- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
4 large eggs
1/2 c matzah meal or bread crumbs
a small amount of lemon zest for any meat being stuffed into plantains

Stuffing Vegetables:

Choice of vegetables to be stuffed:
Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in half and hollowed out with a melon baller
Plaintains, sliced lengthwise and scraped out a bit. Shalom noted on his instructions to add a bit of lemon zest to the meat used for stuffing the plantains
Asian style eggplant, sliced lengthwise, scraped out
Sweet potatoes, sliced lengthwise in half, hollowed out with a melon baller

1. Prepare the sauce by sauteing the onions until translucent, adding the garlic until it begins to slightly brown, adding the carrots and celery. Stir and cook over low heat until the carrots begin to soften (about 4-5 minutes). If you are adding other vegetable you can add them at this point, or if you are using the vegetable bits after hollowing out the stuffing vegetables, you can add that them after you hollow out those vegetables and simmer the sauce for about 10 additional minutes to make sure the flavors meld.
2. Add the spices and tamarind paste. Stir and bring to a slow simmer.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes. Add a bit more water if necessary. The sauce should be thick, but spoonable.

4. Prepare the filling by adding the listed ingredients to the ground beef. Mix well and set aside.
5. Prepare the potatoes or other vegetable you plan to fill. Press the meat firmly to fill the cavity, filling each vegetable with enough meat to create a domed top. Place the meat-filled vegetable in the baking dish.
filled potato halves

filled plantain halves

6. Spoon a generous amount of tomato sauce on top of the filled vegetables, add a bit more water to the pan.
7. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven, preheated to 350-360 degrees for 1 1/2- 2 hours. Do not open foil, cool in the oven if not serving immediately. 

8. NOTE: Shalom also instructed us that you can make a layered casserole with the same ingredients, omitting the more time consuming step of hollowing out and stuffing the vegetables. Spoon sauce as one of the layers and then again on the top. Cover tightly and bake for 1 1/2- 2 hours. Remove the foil for the last 1/2 hour. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rye-Onion Rolls

Savory Rye-Onion Rolls

With caraway seed topping 

This dough, a combination of wheat and rye flour, is easy to work with. I find that adding a bit more oil to the bowl than usual during the first rising makes the dough easier to form into small rolls at the point of shaping. The final dough is firm, but not stiff. After the second rising the rolls will feel puffy.  These rolls are a modification of Potato-Onion Rye Rolls from King Arthur Flour.

This is a simple to make dough that requires 2 relatively short rising periods (one hour each). The rye and onion are subtle but definitely create a bread that lends itself to savory or salty food rather than something sweet (think: cheese or meat, not peanut butter & jelly).  The dough can be refrigerated during the first rising, which can break the process into 2 days if that suits your schedule better than three to four sustained hours.


  • I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer to mix and knead this dough, but it can be kneaded by hand.
  • Measuring cups, spoons, kitchen scale, large mixing bowl (if you are kneading by hand)
  • A baking pan (any shape you want as your outcome) or a cookie sheet that allows the rolls to rise and not touch each other. 
  • In this case I was delivering the rolls to a dinner party, I used paper disposable pans, which can be purchased on-line at King Arthur Flour or Plastic Container City ,a good source of baking equipment and packaging at very reasonable prices which requires a minimum of $25 for retail orders. . The paper pans must be places on either a cookie sheet or baking pan for support.
Disposable paper baking pan available at baking supply stores and on line. 
  • Cooking thermometer if you need to estimate water temperature or finished baked product. 

11 oz all purpose flour
6 oz medium rye flour
8 oz potato flakes
1-2 T vital wheat gluten
1.5 t kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1T granulated sugar
1.5 c warm water (about 100 degrees - see instructions for using yeast if you are new to yeast baking)
2 T neutral oil (canola, corn), plus more for greasing bowl
2 T dark molasses
.5 oz dried onion flakes

additional onion flakes and/or caraway seeds for topping or fillings (see directions and photos)

With dried onion flakes rolled into each roll. 

1. Measure out all of the ingredients, this short step will help make the process of assembling the dough easier.
2. Add all purpose flour, rye flour, potato flakes and salt to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of the electric mixer. I usually add the salt into the flour, to help it initially remain separated from the hydrating yeast.
3. On one side of the bowl add the yeast and tablespoon of sugar.
4. Add the warm water over the yeast/sugar. The water will spread, but by adding the water this way you are helping to ensure that the yeast is hydrated.
5. Start mixing at the low speed or with a wooden spoon.
6. Add the molasses and oil. Continue mixing.
7. Add the dried onions and increase the speed of the mixer or continue mixing by hand. If you are mixing by hand, you may need to start to use a scraper and your hand to ensure that everything is well mixed. Continue to mix for several minutes, the dough will form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will have low gluten because of the rye and potato and will not be particularly stretchy.  It will form a ball that holds together well.

8. Pour about 1 Tbsp of oil over the ball of dough, turn to make sure it's completely covered and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
9. Place in a draft free place (an oven that is NOT turned on works well) for 60-75 minutes to rest and rise.
10. ALTERNATELY: you can place the covered dough in the refrigerator at this point and allow to rest/rise in the refrigerator for a minimum of three hours and a maximum of overnight (10-12 hours). If you are chilling the dough, bring back to room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding.
11. The dough should be a bit greasy. Because the dough is lower in gluten it will not be very stretchy. It will be pliable, you will be able to easily divide into portions (12-16 rolls, depending on the size you ultimately want or need).
13. Grease baking pan (s) and shape. I shaped these rolls into knots and mini "jelly" type rolls.
Creating a "knot"
To make a "rolled" roll: make a 6 inch rope, flatten out, sprinkle onions & roll up. You MUST pinch the end into the body of the roll or it will open during baking.
14. Place the rolls into the prepared pan (s). Let rest/rise in a draft free place for about an hour. You can sprinkle seeds on top if you like.  The rolls will become puffy and fill the space between the rolls.  If you are rising the rolls in the oven, take them out and preheat the oven to 375 degrees about 10 minutes before the rolls finish rising.

15. Place the rolls in the upper 1/3 of the oven. If you are using paper pans place them on a baking sheet for support.  Lower the oven to 360 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes. They will be light golden. If you like to double check yourself, the rolls should measure about 190-195 degrees internally.