Posts Tagged ‘Cookware and bakeware’

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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A whole and halved red bell pepper

A whole and halved red bell pepper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well this is a first for me.  I am in the process of cooking and posting simultaneously.  This could be interesting or disastrous.  I have to keep jumping up to stir the vegetables in the braising pan.  I spent some time prepping, sort of creating my own                  mise en place.  I thought it would be prudent to chop each of the vegetables ahead of time so I could add them to the pan in order of the time it would take for that vegetable to soften.  

So I started with some olive oil in the pan and tossed in the celery. I chopped two stalks.   Originally I was going to start with the sliced garlic, however, I somehow never quite soften garlic without browning several;  I let them sauté a while and then added the Vidalia onion.  I had cut up about 1/2 of a largish medium onion.  I didn’t chop it or dice it, it was somewhere in between.

The idea here is to  put in those veggies that take longer to soften and also add some of their own liquid.  Next came Red Bell Pepper. I used a whole pepper and sliced and cut it up in about 1″ pieces.  I  tossed in the garlic slices a few moments ago.  Probably the vegetables are supposed to be crisp but I think my husband is not going to like this dish if everything is a little chewy.  I just tested a piece off celery and clearly that should have been on its own in the pot for longer before I started adding other ingredients.  And what does a good cook do?  I put the lid on the braising pan which should quicken some of softening and also add some more liquid because basically what juices and oil in the pan are supposed to be my sauce!   Oh boy, we’ll have to see how this plays out.

ALERT! I should have turned the gas down lower when I put the lid on – it was only a few minutes but the onions turned brown.  

I removed the lid and added zucchini and yellow squash.  I used 3/4 of the yellow and about 2/3 of the zucchini.  I put the lid back on and lowered the gas and I see that I don’t have much liquid in the pan.  I think I’ll be adding pasta water to this thin sauce but I still have the tomatoes to add and they’re juicy – I am loving me those Jersey Tomatoes.  This vegetable sauce is really a work in progress and I am up and down and up and down, stirring everything.  

I just put the pot of water on to boil – I will be cooking linguine which is Peter’s favorite.  The water is boiling but I turned it off because since I have never made this dish before I don’t really know how long it’s going to take and the veggies can sit in the pan while I cook the pasta.  I added the tomatoes and the mushrooms.  I had chopped up two fairly large tomatoes and sliced about 20 white mushrooms.  I also put the lid back on.  The lid is going on and off about as often as I jump up to stir or check the pan.

The linguine is in the pot and I checked the vegetables – the tomatoes are doing their job and juicing things up.  Of course mushrooms are mostly liquid and they’re helping.  Gotta go in kitchen and stir the pasta.

NOTE: When I added the tomatoes (which I had salted right after I cut them up so they would juice more) I added some salt and pepper to the mixture.  I’m going to sprinkle some Romano cheese into it also.

The pasta is almost done, I have scooped up a measuring cup of pasta water and turned off the sauce. It looks juicy and everything looks soft.  I’ve decided to serve it all in the braising pan.  I drained the linguine and put in the pan with the vegetables – It looks good!  I sprinkled some of the cheese all over the top and voila Dinner is served!


By writing a blog and cooking at the same time, I was really distracted and it was only when I opened up the refrigerator to get a beer, I saw the arugula.  Oh dear, that was supposed to be salad tonight-oh wellllllllll.

AND it was absolutely delicious!  I mean really delicious and we ate most of the pound of linguine I cooked.

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We’re not vegetarians (yet) but it’s possible we are heading in that direction.  Peter always leaned that way for health reasons and I, in recent years, have become deeply disturbed over the exposes regarding the treatment and slaughtering of animals.  Sometimes if I find myself thinking about it, I can’t finish eating whatever meat was on my place.  I know this sounds weird coming from someone who just extolled the virtues of The Shake Shack.  Well, like I said, I may be headed in that direction but it’s long journey down that road.

However, I do love cooking with fresh vegetables and therefore I often make vegetarian meals.  Tonight we had a delicious dinner;  I made a Butternut Squash Risotto,  Roasted Cauliflower and a Mesclun Salad.  That and a freshly baked baguette from Fairway made quite a meal.


3 cups fat-free low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup butternut squash puree

1TBS butter or olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/4 cups shallots, chopped

1 cup Arborio rice – I used Carnaroll rice

2 oz dry white wine

1TBS chopped fresh sage

1/4 cups freshly grated Parmiagiano-Reggiano 

Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 cups fresh baby arugula, for garnish

In large sauce pan, heat broth and butternut squash puree over medium-high heat.  When it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and maintain over low heat, taste for salt and adjust as needed.

In large heavy sauce pan over medium heat, heat oil or butter until melted.  Add shallots, garlic and rice; saute till rice is well-coated with oil or butter, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and sage and stir until it is absorbed.

Add a ladleful of the simmering stock; wait until it is absorbed before adding another ladleful stirring gently and almost constantly.  Stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice  grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid.

Continue this process until the rice is creamy, tender to the bite, but slightly firm in the center and all the stock is used, about 25 minutes from the time you started.  When all the liquid is absorbed, stir in the grated cheese and remove from heat.

Serve immediately and top with baby arugula and extra grated-cheese if desired.  Makes 3 2/3 cups.

Recipe courtesy of Skinnytaste.com

English: Cucurbita pepo (butternut squash). Lo...

Photo credit-Wikipedia

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Tunisian one pot chicken dish, spicy green sauce,

Tunisian One-Pot Dish as Spicy as You Like It

I prepared this dish last night, the recipe was in the New York Times.  It was a bit complicated, BUT, BUT, it was delicious and I took some shortcuts that I will share with you.  And we ate the leftovers tonight, even better! I’m going to write out the recipe the way I made it and not exactly as it was written.  If you want the original please go to http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/dining/chicken-with-couscous-sauce-on-the-side.htm

4-6 drumsticks (next time I am going to use skinless)

3 cups canned chick peas (rinsed and drained)

1/2 lb small white turnips – peeled and cut into wedges

1/2 lb carrot sticks (or cut into 2″ batons)

1 small onion – peel, insert a few cloves. (I didn’t have any cloves so I used ground cloves, about 1 tsp.)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp coriander seed – I used ground powder about 1 1/2 tsp

1 tsp cumin seed – I used ground powder about 1 1/2 tsp

1 tsp caraway seeds – I crushed them between two spoons.

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and ground pepper

1 large onion – chopped to = 2 cups

6 garlic cloves minced

1 -2 TBS olive oil

ground cinnamon (recipe calls for 1 stick – too expensive)

Spicy green sauce (recipe below)

Cooked and buttered couscous or rice

Put the chickpeas in a medium sauce pan with about 5 cups of water, add bay leaf, and onion with cloves (or sprinkle the ground cloves into the water), season with salt.  Bring to a  boil and then leave to simmer while preparing the other ingredients. 

Mix the spices together (cumin, coriander, caraway, cayenne pepper)

Rinse chicken legs and pat dry-season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the spice mixture on the chicken legs and rub into the meat.

In heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken legs and brown gently until golden, about 4 minutes a side.  Remove legs and set aside.  In same pot, add diced onions and a little salt. Let onions soften and color for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, and scraping up any brown bits.  Add cinnamon and garlic and cook for a minute more.

Drain chick peas and reserve broth. I kept the onion in the broth.  Return the chicken legs to the pot and pour in 4 cups of the chickpea broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook covered for about 25 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, carrots and turnips and cook, covered, for 15 minutes more.  Let rest 5 minutes and skim excess fat.  Serve with the broth, spicy green sauce and buttered couscous.

Spicy Green Sauce

1 preserved lemon or the grated zest of 1 lemon.  I got a jar of preserved lemon at an Indian grocery store but I believe the zest would just as good, since the recipe calls for using only the skin.

1 garlic clove smashed with a little salt to make a paste.

1 or 2 serrano or jalapeno chiles, very finely chopped. Use less for a milder sauce.

1 cup of finely chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems

1/3 cup olive oil

3 scallions finely chopped

If using preserved lemon, remove from brine, rinse well and chop the peel in 1/16 inch cubes. Reserve pulp for another use. Put cubes aside.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic paste, chiles and cilantro in a blender or food processor, keep a small amount of cilantro out.

Stir in the olive oil, scallions and diced lemon or zest.  Taste and add salt or more oil if necessary.  Once sauce is made and in a small serving dish, you can mix in the rest of the chopped cilantro which gives the sauce texture.

This one-pot meal was excellent and even better the next day although we had eaten all the chicken the night before!

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