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Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

English: "Holyland" brand matzah, ma...

“Holyland” brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight which as you know is unlike any other night or if you don’t, you can check out a previous blog of mine https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/why-is-this-night-different-from-all-other-nights/.  Anyway tonight we are going to my sister-in-law’s home for a Seder dinner.  It will of course be a feast, and being the balabusta  she is, she is cooking a very traditional meal as well as adding vegetarian dishes for the one or two non-meat eaters in the group.  And by group I mean she is seating and serving 11 people tonight!

I asked what I could bring and was assigned an asparagus dish.  I’m going to make a room temperature asparagus platter with an egg sauce on top.  If I haven’t already posted this recipe previously, I will tomorrow.  It was a traditional Easter Sunday dinner side in my family for years.

And then if I can organize myself, I plan to make some Matzo Crack!  This is a surprise addition to the meal.  Naturally Stacey, our hostess, who is size 2 is planning on serving strawberries and cream for dessert, something light and moderately healthy.  I, on the other hand, am hoping for the taste of chocolate and in keeping with the holiday tradition of no leavened bread, I’m going to make chocolate toffee matzoh! 

So simple to do (they say) and since I’m posting this prior to actually making it, I can’t attest to that but I do believe this is not going to be difficult at all.

4-5 pieces of matzo

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate bits

Toppings as desired

Preheat oven to 375º

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper.  Place matzo in one layer on baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill pan complexly.

In large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for additional 3 minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat and pour over matzo, spreading evenly with a heat proof spatula.

Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees.  Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.  If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325 degrees.

After 15 minutes, the toffee should have  bubbled up and turned a rich golden brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly with a spatula.

You can leave as it is or add a topping such as sea salt or toasted nuts.  Let cool completely, then break into smaller pieces and store in airtight container.

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The Big Cheese

The Big Cheese

At first I thought it was just this forever-long, forever-cold winter that is drawing me to all kinds of dishes that could fall into the comfort food category.  Possibly, and the fact that biologically we are inclined to eat more calories in order to burn them for fuel and body heat.  And then I looked again at this recipe and imagined sitting on my front porch in Ocean Grove with a couple of friends on a midsummer’s eve sipping wine and munching on this savory bread appetizer.

Monkey bread, also called monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread, African coffee cake, golden crown, pinch-me cake, pluck-it cake, bubbleloaf and monkey brains is a sweet, sticky, gooey pastry served in the United States for breakfast. It consists of pieces of soft bread with cinnamon sprinkled on it. It is served at fairs and other parks as a treat. But now it’s Lent and I’m off sweets for the next few weeks.  I discovered a savory version and I think you’ll like it.

THE BIG CHEESE

It’s Time To Rethink Monkey Bread

1 loaf unsliced bread

1 cup pesto

12 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350° – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Prepare the bread: Score the bread lengthwise.  To do this, slice the bread as you would for toast, but don’t cut all the way down to the base of the loaf.  The idea is to keep the bread in a loaf shape and fully intact.  Repeat this scoring across the width of the loaf.  You will end up with what looks like squares of bread.

Use a spatula or butter knife to spread pesto in the crevices of the bread.  No need to be precise-just get a good slathering in there.

Next, place mozzarella slices inside the crevices, wedging them  in so that they don’t stick out too far at the top (you want all that gooeyness inside the bread and off your pan).

Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet and bake till pesto bubbles and cheese melts – 15-17 minutes. 

Serve warm.

Recipe from PureWow.com

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Bread

Bread (Photo credit: CeresB)

BREAD, the staff of life, gimme the dough/money!  Bread has always played a major role in our lives and diet.  When I was growing up, we lived in area where the milkman delivered milk to your door and the bread man delivered bread.  They were both white;  by that I mean we were getting pasteurized white milk and ultrarefined industrial white bread, so prevalent in the 50’s.  My dad bought Wonder bread for us, my friend, Susan’s mom bought Sunbeam.  Once in a while my father would bake delicious Italian bread with tiny bits of pork rind in it.  Warm from the oven and slathered with butter…no wonder I take a statin every day now!  Then along came Dr. Atkins and bread became the enemy.  The war against carbs still rages on, however, real bread in its naturally leavened, long-fermented hearth-baked form has enjoyed a comeback, especially in New York City where there are several well-known and much-touted bread bakers.  We have Eli Zabar, Tom Cat’s Noel Labat-Comess, Bread Alone’s Dan Leader to name a few. Bakeries such as Amy’s Bread, Sullivan St. Bakery and Balthazar Bakery produce such delicious bread, you really can make a meal out of it! 

Here are New York’s top 5 new-wave breads:  Try not to drool on your keyboard.

1.Roberta’s – CITY WHITE LOAF – Why would Melissa Weller leave the kitchen Per Se to toil in a converted shipping container? Three words: Wood. Fired. Oven.  Her bread has a dark and crackling crust, with a moist crumb.  It’s beyond “Rustic” in looks, more like a throwback to some communal oven in 19th century Paris.  

2. Nordic Breads – FINNISH RUIS – If you’re a New Yorker, you know rye bread.  However, there is a Nordic newcomer among us and this bread is dark, dense, flat as a Frisbee and has a tang that intensifies as you chew.  High fiber content, organic and made with a sour-dough starter smuggled in from Finland. Produced by Nordic Breads.

3. Hot Bread Kitchen – M’SMEN – Their repertoire ranges from corn totillas to Sephardic challah.  Their mission is to train immigrant women to parlay their native expertise into management positions in the industry.  Headquartered in East Harlem, the most extotic and delicious of their offerings is m’s men, a rough-textured, butter-and-oil enriched North African flatbread that’s rolled, slicked, and folded into a delicious envelope of dough. Rich and flaky like a croissant with the tender-crisp chew of paratha, the m’s men is girdled golden-brown and traditionally eaten at breakfast in Marrackech.

4. Runner and Stone – BUCKWHEAT AND PEAR – Peter Endriss, formerly of Per Se and Bouchon Bakery is creating such wonders as a Cheddar-and-hard-cider loaf, a sourdough whole-wheat walnut with dried sausage and red wine and a pain au chocolate encasing port-infused figs. Local grains, natural leavening, and long fermentation all conspire to make his squarish buckwheat pear loaf a thing of crusty, nutty beauty, its speckled crumb a triple-grained canvas (rye and spelt too) for nuggets of sweet poached fruit.

5. Roman’s – SPROUTED SPELT – Baker Austin Hall appropriates a corner of Roman’s kitchen after hours to bake breads for service and for retail sale on weekends.  He makes a naturally-leavened sprouted spelt, a sturdy burnt-umber sourdough loaf with a crackly, darkly caramelized crust and crumb riddled with New York State spelt berries. It’ a health bread for hedonists.

I will continue this list with more mouth-watering breads next week.

 

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English: A man sleeping on the street of The B...

A man sleeping on the street of The Bowery in Manhattan. The sign is for luxury condos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are worse places to be homeless, cold and hungry than New York.  While it’s true that the City has thousands of homeless, we also have hundreds of soup kitchens and shelters.  On the coldest of nights the Department of Homeless Services sends out vans seeking homeless on the streets and offering to take them to a shelter.  A surprising number refuse assistance preferring to spend nights on subway platforms, in Penn Station or the Port Authority.  

However, on a cold February night, a hot meal can be very inviting.  Every Saturday night, Holy Trinity Church on the Upper East Side feeds anywhere from 100 to 150 homeless or near homeless men and women a delicious hot meal.  I’m not a member of this congregation but I admire their commitment to the neighborhood so much that I try to support their programs.  I’ve been to a couple of their fund-raisers and today I volunteered to work in the soup kitchen. You can learn more about all that they do at https://www.facebook.com/groups/542527365780030/ which is the Holy Trinity Neighborhood Center Facebook page.

This is the second time I’ve done this and it is quite an experience.  I wonder who and how many people does it take just to organize such an undertaking?  Where does the all the food come from?  How do these volunteers know how to prepare and cook for so many people?  Where do all the volunteers come from?  Today there were many high school kids working with a couple of their mothers.  I just strolled over and announced I was here to help.

My first task was to cut up loaves of bread and fill bread baskets.  Thankfully, the church has reached out to local merchants such as Eli’s Bread which is located nearby.  Eli Zabar makes great bread and apparently donates a LOT of bread.  Even after filling 18 baskets, there were many loaves left over.  Then I helped set the tables.  There were 17 tables set for six people each.  I folded napkins and some of the kids put them out along with the silverware.  I couldn’t help myself – I told one of the girls that the folded edge of the napkin had to be facing the dish and that the knives should have the serrated edge facing the plate.  I think they thought I was a bit OCD – of course they’re right BUT I also think that there is no reason not to have the table set properly.

The people who come to eat are treated with great respect by everyone and in return we are rewarded with many sincere “thank-you’s” and compliments about the food.  The men and women who come are not all homeless  but all are in need.  Tonight, because it was so cold out, many of them kept their coats on, some shed three and four layers of sweaters and jackets.  

This evening the meal was shredded chicken breast served over rice and with fresh broccoli, carrots, onions and red peppers in a light soy sauce.  Many of the volunteers are regulars and they set about cooking the chicken breasts, steaming the vegetables…things just kept humming along.  

Dinner was served around 5:15 and there is a huge core regular “guests”.  I can’t remember when I last volunteered but it was many months ago and I recognized several of the diners.  As soon as they sat down, they dove into the bread and we poured coffee.  I noted how many only wanted a half a cup – because they fill the rest of the cup with half and half and at least 5 people asked me if I could find real sugar;  They didn’t want the Sweet and Low.   Along with their plate of food which is served to each person, dessert was also served.  Chocolate cheese cakes and mini cupcakes and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, each place setting had a York peppermint heart and a Dove chocolate heart.  

The cold actually kept people away or perhaps they were ensconced in some shelter for the night because we served slightly less than 100 people and had a lot of food left over.  Seconds were offered and the line was long.  Some of the men and women had containers with them and they stashed away bread, butter, food and dessert.  I watched men put bread in their pockets.  The people who come to Holy Trinity on a Saturday night are very appreciative of the meal  and the work that goes into serving them.  Everyone was very polite and said thank you even when you just refilled their coffee cup.  

We made up 12 plates, a basket of bread and desserts for the twelve people who are registered and allowed to spend the night in church basement.  Holy Trinity is such an integral part of the community!  Every Tuesday afternoon, they feed the elderly in the neighborhood a lovely lunch.  All are welcome, no questions are asked and the occasion provides much-needed socialization for some in the neighborhood who don’t get out much and don’t have family watching over them.

I’m so glad I went this evening;  It helps me put my life in perspective.  I went because I made a commitment to myself that this year  I would:  “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”  Actually that quote from John Wesley was posted by my friend Dave Liston who is very involved with Holy Trinity’s Neighborhood Center programs. I read it and it just got to me.  I’m trying  anyway!

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Delicious!

Delicious!

No, it’s  not what you think – not Italian white Alba Truffles that cost $188 for an 8 ounces!  It’s not Beluga Caviar which costs $200-$300 per ounce, no, it’s something you can’t buy, you can’t return and you can only have it ONCE.  

It’s your time!  When you make make something or bake something for a someone and give it as a gift, they are receiving TWO gifts.  You have made a soup, baked a cake or whipped up a souffle, surely something  you know your friend will appreciate and enjoy;  But you had also given a gift of your time, your life, an hour or hours you can never get back.  A real Foodie knows what goes into creating culinary masterpieces, knows that the shopping for ingredients, the prepping, and the making all take time!

Today I’m suggesting you bake some DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BREAD;  The recipe makes one loaf and takes about 1 1/2 hours.  

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

3 eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup dark-chocolate chips

Confectioners’ sugar, as garnish
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter, eggs, sour cream and vanilla, then mix with a whisk until well combined.

3. Gently fold in the chocolate chips until they are evenly distributed.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. It should fill the pan a little more than halfway.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Let the bread cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove it from the pan while it is still warm by inverting it onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing and serving. If desired, finish the loaf with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

 Wrap in cellophane or Saran Wrap and tie a ribbon around it.  Or you can present it à la Martha Stewart and wrap it up in brown craft paper and tie with the classic red and white bakery twine.

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Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve

Burning Chametz in Ofra, Passover eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know what chametz is?  I’m not even sure myself – my sister-in-law, Stacey told me it is the stuff you rid your house of before Passover.  She mentioned something about food stuffs that are not part of the Passover meal or week-long celebration, are thrown out.

Well today was ONE of those days! It’s the day when you open the refrigerator and with newly-opened eyes (in my case I had on glasses) and you SEE!  I mean you really see-the crud in the grooves of the bottom shelf, the jar of mustard that is for all intents and purposes empty and you discover not one, not two but at least 3 jars of capers.  Capers, for God’s sake!!!  Delving deeper into the recesses of the Frigidaire, I found a small container of dried-up cream cheese, a jar of jam that had grown a furry winter coat (it must be really cold in there).  Out with it all!  I threw out a jar of some mysterious brown sauce, I threw out salsa before it had a birthday on Cinco de Mayo and some expired bottles of indeterminate substance!  Out with it all!!

When I had filled up my recycle bin and my trash can, I sprayed the shelves with Simple Green.  I LOVE Simple Green, it cleans everything which means it probably shouldn’t be used in a refrigerator.  Now onto the next project.  Hey this is beginning to sound like Spring Cleaning,

I put the summer slipcover on the antique stuffed chair, changed the pillow covers to colorful awning-stripes and had Peter switch the foyer rug from the dark wine-red Oriental to our seasonal beige patterned rug.  He even took down the winter drapes in our bedroom and put up very light-weight airy beige curtains.  Out with the winter dark colors and in with the spring pastels.

I think what really got me going this morning was the fact that by some inner-maniacal drive force, I completed my income taxes early today.  I was up till 2AM working on the world’s most heinous task – assembling a year’s worth of information, collating it, copying it and preparing a statement for the accountant.  I had almost finished last night, uh, rather early this morning and then got up and finished it up.  I HATE doing the taxes!  BUT, when it’s done, I feel so good!

Spring is the time of renewal and rebirth; what was gray, brown and barren bursts forth into bright green life.  Flowers re-appear out of virtually nowhere since the ground looked like just ground to me and along with new tufts of grass, I noticed the lawn was also sprouting bunches of wild onions and even a few dandelions.  AND I get the urge to clean.  My mother always did spring cleaning and so do I.  My mother changed the carpets, drapes and slipcovers to reflect the new season and so do I.  Old habits or genetic programming?  The windows will be washed inside and out-here in NYC, we hire a man to do them but at the cottage, we’ll do them.  This year the carpeting and the couches in the apartment need steam-cleaning.  OUT with it ALL; dirt, dust, grime and most of all, the Chametz!

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Invited to a holiday cocktail party? Or to a Hanukkah latke supper? Or a Christmas dinner party?  You know you gotta bring a hostess gift…of course you can always opt for the traditional (read boring and unimaginative) bottle of wine, perhaps even some Veuve Clicquot.  OR you could bring a jar of that strawberry jam you made this summer.  In the past I have made batches of seasoned nuts and given them as gifts – but we’re running out of time to shop for ingredients, find appropriate containers and then make the peppermint bark or spicy pecans, so take a look at this list and maybe a couple of the items will jump off the page for you or at least inspire you to think a bit creatively when picking out that Hostess Gift.

Apartment48.com, kitchen timer, retro timer

Retro Kitchen Timer

Retro Kitchen Timer

An aluminum timer buzzing with old-school charm will wake up any kitchen’s style. Available in six colors.

To buy: $18, apartment48.com

uncommongoods.com

Still Hot From The Oven

Bread Warmer

Heat this terra-cotta plate, then tuck it into a bread basket to keep rolls soft and warm. Score brownie points by showing up with it packaged with a fresh-baked loaf of focaccia.

To buy: $15, uncommongoods.com

crate and barrel,

Say Cheese

These markers are a great gift for any hostess.  Perfect way to identify an assortment of cheeses for a cocktail party.

crate and barrel, kitchen soap and lotion

Sweet Clementine Soap & Hand Lotion

This refreshing scented duo is perfect for the hostess’s kitchen. 

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