April 30, 2007

Mango Lemonade



Ingredients:
4 cups cold water or club soda
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup ginger or plain simple syrup to taste
1/4 cup fresh mango puree
Directions:
In a large pitcher, stir together the mango puree, lemon juice and simple syrup. Then stir in the cold water (very gently if using club soda) to distribute the juice. Serve icy cold with plenty of ice cubes*.

*A good trick is to make ice cubes out of lemonade so when they melt, they do not dilute the drink.


My thoughts:
Lemonade is the perfect warm weather drink and the addition of mango makes it a tiny bit more special. I like making it with club soda so it is a little bubbly. In the US, most lemonade is still and I think this is a shame, because there is something about a sparkling beverage that seems just that much more refreshing.

April 29, 2007

Chocolate Satin Macadamia Brownies


Ingredients:
8 oz semisweet chocolate
3 oz macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 9 inch baking pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate together over low heat*. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together flour, nuts, salt, baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla until frothy. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


*You can get fancy and use a double boiler for this part, but frankly, I just dumped it all in the pot (pictured above), set it on a fairly low flame then basically ignored it while I beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy and measured out the dry ingredients. When about 90% of the chocolate was melted, I removed it from the heat, whisked it together until smooth and that was it. I wouldn't recommend doing it in the microwave (too much chocolate to melt evenly) but doing it in a saucepan only takes a few minutes longer.

Spring this recipe!



My thoughts:
When I saw that Once Upon A Tart was having a brownie round-up I realized it was finally time to try out my new baking pan.These brownies are amazing from the moment you start melting the chocolate to the second they come out of the oven, you are just waiting for them to cool off enough to eat. The batter is beautiful, satiny brown studded with macadamias and results in a brownie that is not too cakey, but not just a pan of fudge either with a fine crumb and glossy surface. Brownie perfection achieved.

April 25, 2007

Kiwi-Mango Slush


Ingredients:
2 kiwi, peeled
3/4-1 cup ice
1/4 cup cubed mango
2 tablespoons ginger simple syrup

boba pearls (optional)


Directions:

Boil some water, pour in as many boba pearls as desired. Cook until they all float to the top. Place the ice, kiwifruit, mango and ginger syrup in a blender. Pulse until fairly smooth. Pour the boba into the bottom of a tall glass. Top with drink. Serve with a large straw.


Serves one.


My thoughts:

It is finally warm here in sunny Baltimore and I thought it was a perfect time to have a cool drink. I had some especially juicy kiwi and mango and thought they'd make a great, quick frozen drink without having to add any extra liquid. It was very refreshing! I have seen frozen boba drinks in the past, so I thought I'd throw some of the pearls in, but it would be yummy without them too.

April 24, 2007

Mango Chicken


Ingredients:
for the sauce:
1 1/2-2 cups fresh, cubed mango
2 birdseye chile peppers (or other small, hot pepper) seeds removed
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine
1/2 inch chunk palm sugar
2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 lime

for the chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1/4 thick* and thinly sliced
flour
cornstarch
salt
pepper
oil for frying

for serving
hot white rice

Directions:
In a food processor or blender, pulse together all of the sauce ingredients, leaving some chunks of mango remaining. Set aside. Sprinkle an even amount of flour and cornstarch on a plate, season with some salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken breast strips in the flour. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the chicken cooks evenly on all sides. In a large saucepan, heat the mango sauce. Add the chicken and cook until just bubbling. Serve with white rice.



My thoughts:
Mango chicken is one of our favorite dishes at Penang (they have a few locations in NYC, Boston and Philadelphia) and we always look forward to having it when ever we go there. So it is some what surprising that it took until today for me to think about making it at home. I wasn't sure exactly what went into the sauce (and the description on the menu is vague-"shredded mango cooked w. spicy sweet & sour sauce served in mango shell") but I think I did an excellent job of recreating it at home. It tastes as good as what get had at Penang, if not better and it was remarkably quick and easy to make. The idea is to have the perfect balance of sweet-sour, so I recommend tasting the sauce as you go to adjust the flavoring-a lot depends on the quality and sweetness of the mango.

April 23, 2007

How to Cut Up a Mango



You need:
1 very sharp knife
1 cutting board
1 large spoon
ripe mango

First: Make sure your mango is ripe. It should be slightly soft and give at little to touch, but your finger should not go through the skin. If it does, that is an over ripe mango-throw it out! If the mango is hard, let it sit out on the counter a day or so ripen. The color/appearance of the skin is not important and varies by the variety of mango, however, avoid bruised fruit.

Second: Hold the mango so the longest part is going up and down. You want the flat pit in the middle. Cut on one side of the pit. If you feel resistance (i.e. if you are cutting into the pit) pivot your knife towards the skin slightly as you cut down. Repeat for the other side.


You should now have two curved "halves" and one center slice with the pit in the middle.


Third: Lay the middle part flat on the cutting board. Take the tip of your knife and pierce through the mango, as close to the skin as you can without breaking it. Now you can either leave the knife in the same place and pivot the mango around the knife to remove the skin, or you can move the knife around the inside edge of the skin to cut it off. I prefer the pivot method, but you have to be careful not to brush against the rest of the knife.


You should now have a whole ring of mango skin and a pit surrounded by flesh. Discard the skin.

Fourth: Take your knife and slice off any thick pieces of flesh from the pit. Cut slices off the sides. Depending on the mango and how closely you cut to the pit during your first cutting, you may or may not yield a lot of mango. Place the mango pieces in a bowl. Discard the pit. Personally, I like to suck all of the bits of flesh and juice off the mango pit before I throw it away, sort of like a Popsicle. You can also save the pit, wrap it in a wet paper towel, put it in the cabinet and it will sprout into a little mango plant.




Fifth: Use the tip of your knife to score vertical lines into the mango half. Do not go all the way through the skin.


Pivot and repeat to form little cubes.




Sixth: Place your spoon between the skin and the flesh and scoop out the cubes. Depending on how big your mango is, you may be able to do this in one try.



Scoop out all of the fruit, if any of the cubes stick together, cut them apart with your knife. Repeat for the remaining half. Place cubed fruit in bowl.


Seventh: Scrape out any bits from the empty skin. Discard the skin or save it for presentation.

Two good sized mangos yield about 3 cups of cubed flesh.


My thoughts:
We just bought a case of some of the sweetest juiciest mangos ever so I thought it might be a good time to share a little how-to. I remember when I first bought a mango I was stymied by the oddly shaped, flat pit. After a try or two I realized that it is quite easy and you can cube the fruit while you peel!

April 20, 2007

Green Tea & Black Pearl Cake




Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon green tea powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, at room temperature
4 oz Vosges Black Pearl chips*

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray one loaf pan. In a small bowl, whisk togher the egg, oil, and milk. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and green tea powder. Pour in the wet ingredients and mix to combine> Fold in chips. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool briefly in pan, then remove to wire rack and cool completely.




*These are dark chocolate chips that contain black sesame seeds, wasabi and ginger. You can sub 4 oz semi sweet chips, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds and wasabi to taste for a similar effect.
My thoughts:
I recently came in possession of both Japanese-inspired Black Pearl chips and matcha powder and I have been trying to think of a way to combine the two. The Black Pearl chips, while divine, only come in tiny 4 oz bags, which eliminated many old standbys like cookies and fudge. I finally arrived at the perfect solution: a simple loaf cake. Sweet and moist, it doesn't need icing and the flavors of the delightful chips and the green tea shine through. I love the lurid green cake and the slightly gooey chips. It couldn't have been a better choice.

April 18, 2007

Zippy Coleslaw



Ingredients:
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
4 carrots, peeled and grated
3 green onions, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pinch salt

Directions:

Mix the cabbage, the carrots and the green onions in a large bowl, set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, sesame seeds, and salt. Drizzle over the cabbage mixture, toss to incorporate. Allow to sit 1 hour before serving. Garnish with additional sesame seeds.



My thoughts:
When my husband lived in Austin, TX (long before he met me) he was obsessed with the coleslaw served at the Salt Lick, a barbecue place in Driftwood, Texas. Since the Salt Lick is 1,591 miles from Baltimore, we can't exactly pop over and pick some up to satisfy his craving. We're smoking some ribs tonight so he decided to recreate the slaw to the best of his memory. Now, I have never been to the Salt Lick so I can't testify to it's authenticity but I can say that it is one tasty slaw with out a drop of mayo in sight! Very crisp and well flavored with just a touch of spicy ginger.

April 16, 2007

Naan




Ingredients:
5 oz hot milk
5 oz nonfat, plain yogurt
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg


Directions:
Meanwhile, stir the yeast into the milk and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to sit 15 minutes or until frothy. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, remaining sugar and baking powder. Stir in the yeast mixture, egg, yogurt and the oil. Mix to form a round ball of dough. Knead in flour until the dough is only slightly sticky but no longer sticks to kneading surface. Place in a bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit for 60 minutes or until the dough has doubled in bulk. Beat the dough down and allow to rise a second time for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, place a baking or pizza stone in your oven. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible. After the 45 minutes have gone by, roll a ball of dough out to the desired size and quickly slap it on the hot pizza stone. Cook for 3 minutes (checking after 2). It should be puffed up and just starting to turn golden. Remove bread from stone and drop it on a broiler pan. Broil for 30 seconds until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Serve immediately. Store any extra in a air tight container and eat with 24 hours for best flavor.

My thoughts:

My husband made a curry and this naan the other day for dinner. I have no idea why we haven't made naan before. We have let years of naan making opportunities slip by! It was beyond delicious and really easy. It was great with the curry and the next day with a little olive oil drizzled on it. Next we're going to try to make some stuffed naan.

In other news:
My site was nominated for Best Food Blog! and voting is open now. You can vote for more than one blog in a category, so there are lots to choose from. Click on the button to be taken to Coconut & Lime's page. I've already been voting for my favorites.

April 15, 2007

Green Onion Beer Bread


Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 1/4 oz active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 12 oz bottle beer (we used Smithwicks)
1 bunch onions

optional add ins:
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
red pepper flakes


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Oil or spray a baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir together salt, pepper, paprika, cheese (if using), green onion, yeast and flour. Add the beer and stir until a dough forms. Shape into a round loaf and place on the greased baking sheet. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until the loaf is slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10-15 minutes before slicing.
My thoughts:
If you are a little scared of baking with yeast, this is a great first bread to make. It is impossible to mess up and requires no kneading. And unlike the near ubiquitous no knead bread,there is no need to wait 20 hours to bake it, you can have it in the oven as soon as it is done preheating.

April 14, 2007

Crackers



Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

spices (for topping)
shown here:
kosher salt
cracked pepper
tarragon
poppy seed
caraway seed
celery seed

suggested:
paprika
rosemary
oregano


Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. In a food processor or with a pastry cutter or with a mixer combine the flour, salt and butter until a coarse meal forms. Slowly stream in the milk. Mix until a slightly sticky dough forms. Add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time if mixture is too dry. Roll out on a floured surface to a 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut out using cookie cutters or slice into squares. You cannot reroll the dough, so think carefully before you cut. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt or spices. Press the spices/salt down into the surface of the cracker. Make indentations with the tines of a fork over each cracker. Bake 20 minutes or until just starting to brown. Remove a wire rack and cool. Store in a air tight container.

Yield: about 20 crackers, depending on size.



My thoughts:
Crackers are one of those things I never really pictured people making at home. Who makes crackers? Who doesn't just buy a box? Lately though, I've been experimenting making crackers. As it turns out, homemade crackers are very easy to make and extremely tasty. These particular crackers are similar in texture to saltines, and can be easily dressed up with a variety of spices. They do only last about 3 days, so I scaled the recipe down to just make enough to serve as appetizers or a few day's worth of snacks but they are so good and quick to make, you might find yourself making more sooner than you'd think.

April 12, 2007

Patty Melt



Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, sliced
1 medium onion, minced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
Montreal seasoning OR kosher salt, coarsely ground pepper, garlic powder & red pepper
1-2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
4 slices cheddar cheese (horseradish cheddar is excellent on this)

8 slices toast

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the seasoning(s), worcestershire sauce, meat and minced onion thoroughly. Divide into four even patties. Heat a large pan. Place the burgers on the pan, surround with the sliced onions and mushrooms. Cook the meat until brown on one side, then flip. When almost done to your liking, add a slice of cheese to each patty. Cover the pan for about a minute to melt the cheese. At this point, the onions should have caramelized and the burgers should be done. Drain the patties on a paper towel lined plate then place on a piece of toast. Top with onions and mushrooms, then top with another piece of toast. Repeat for the other 3 burgers and serve.


My thoughts:
The patty melt is quintessential diner food. Basically a cheeseburger on toast that is often served with fried onions, it easy to make at home as well. Patty melts always remind me of the episode of Dead Like Me when Rube (Mandy Patinkin) takes over as cook at Der Waffle House (episode 1.8, A. Cook for the truly obsessed) and when someone complains the that cheese was melted on the burger and not the toast as he requested, he replies that the patty melt is more than just a name, it says how the dish is made, namely that the cheese is melted on the patty. It escalates from there when the guy continues to balk and the scene ends with Rube dumping the sandwich on the man's lap. You can check out the whole scene here. If you melt the cheese on the bread and I catch you, I promise not to dump it on your lap, but really, it is called a "patty melt" for a reason.

April 10, 2007

Quick Pickled Onions & Beets


Ingredients:
2-3 beets, peeled and cubed
4-6 medium to large onions, sliced
32 black peppercorns
red wine vinegar
white vinegar

4 pint jars

Directions:
Place 8 peppercorns in each jar. Fill the jar with sliced onions, leaving about 1/2 inch on the top. Add about 4-5 cubes of beets. Over a sink or a bowl, fill the jar about 1/2 way with red wine vinegar and then the rest of the way with white vinegar. Seal and refrigerate 1-3 days before serving.
My thoughts:
I admit I made these just for the color, but they are also very tasty. The onions stay a little crisp and are pickle-y and slightly sweet. I made it with half red wine/half white vinegar but you could make it all with one vinegar or another if you prefer, I just did half and half because my bottle of red wine vinegar was running low, but it worked very well. They would be great served along side some steak, on a burger or even on a salad.

April 09, 2007

Wasabi Deviled Eggs


Ingredients:
6 hard boiled eggs, sliced lengthwise, yolks removed
1/4 cup sour cream (reduced fat okay)
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 teaspoon minced green onion
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
salt
pepper
toasted sesame seeds

Directions:
In small bowl, mix together sour cream, mustard powder, wasabi, salt, pepper and egg yolk to form a paste. Pipe or spoon into the egg whites. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

My thoughts:
Who doesn't like deviled eggs, even secretly? I personally abhor egg salad but adore deviled eggs. It is easy to get tired of making the say way over and over though no matter how good they are, so I decided to try something new. Nicely spicy and the wasabi turns the eggs a pretty shade of light green.

April 08, 2007

Chocolate Chip & Coconut Cupcakes


Ingredients:
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup semisweet mini chips
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste

Directions:

Preheat oven 350. Line or grease and flour 12 cupcake wells. In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add baking powder and eggs. Beat briefly, and then add milk, and flour alternately beginning and ending with flour. Mix until thoroughly combined then fold in the coconut and chips. Divide evenly among 12 cupcake wells. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove to wire rack, cool then ice.


My thoughts:
I got up early this morning to make these pretty cupcakes. They look like plain vanilla cupcakes but when you bite in, there are some surprises: tiny flecks of vanilla beans, mini chips and almost undetectable to the naked eye- bits of coconut. They are also very moist and fluffy, which I think is perfect for Springtime. I iced mine with a simple petal pink vanilla buttercream, but I bet a cream cheese or coconut icing (or even chocolate!) would be divine.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


Ingredients:
1/2 lb. confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste
A few drops of food coloring (optional)

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat together sugar, butter, vanilla, and food coloring until smooth. If necessary, add a few drops of milk until frosting is spreading consistency.

My thoughts:
An easy buttercream that has some flecks of vanilla bean it. The yield is just enough to frost 12 cupcakes or one 8 inch round single layer cake.

April 07, 2007

Tinted Coconut Nests


Ingredients:
3 egg whites, cold
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
liquid food coloring
candy eggs (Robin Eggs, Cadbury Mini Eggs, jelly beans)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Line or grease 1 cookie sheet. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tarter until the stiff peak stage, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the coconut in a small ziplock bag with a few drops of food coloring. Shake or throw back and forth the bag until the color is evenly divided. When the eggs are at stiff peaks, fold in the coconut. Place 10 3 tablespoon mounds 1/2 inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges. Place candy eggs in the center of nests after they have cooled slightly.
My thoughts:
One of the best things of celebrating both Easter and Passover is that there is no shortage of seasonal foods to make. This year I ended up buying a bunch of egg shaped candy and thought it would be fun to make some little nests to show them off. I decided to tint the coconut green to compliment the garish pastel brightness I love about Easter. If you prefer your Easter treats kitsch-free, you can substitute toasted coconut for the tinted to make more realistic "nests" .

April 05, 2007

Individual Pavlovas



Ingredients:
4 egg whites, straight from the refrigerator
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter*
1/2 teaspoon vinegar (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 250. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Beat on high the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft peaks form-it should look foamy and any "peaks" should still be a bit floppy-about 3 minutes. Keep the mixer on high and slowly add the sugar-I like to pour it in a slow, continuous stream- and vinegar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Plop 6 inch round blobs of egg whites on the lined pan, about 1/2 inch apart** . The egg whites/sugar are really fluffy and sort of sticky, so you might want to use two spoons-one to scoop and one to slide the egg whites off on to the pan. Smooth the top of the blobs slightly or create a well in the middle to hold any topping. Bake 1 1/2 hours or until the outside is dry and just starting to look cream colored. Turn off the oven and allow to sit 2 hours in the cool oven. The texture should be crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside. Great topped with compote or whipped cream. Store in a cool, dry, air-tight container.


*This is a great, fat free dessert for Passover-just make sure your cream of tarter has the O/U P logo.

**If you want to get fancy or want perfectly round pavlovas, you can draw circles on the underside of the parchment paper, but I like a free form look.


My thoughts:
Pavlovas are very simple, but very impressive. The only way I can describe it is that it is like a giant meringue with a chewy center. I like mine a little undersweet and they are great topped with fruit like banana, strawberries, kiwi or passionfruit but I had some leftover compote so used that. I also enjoyed snacking on the leftovers plain and ate them as if they were a giant cookie but be forewarned, they leave white crumbles all over your shirt. I don't know why pavlovas aren't more popular in the US, Australia seems to be fairly obsessed with them and has been for years. I have been seeing them pop up on menus and in books more and more lately, but I wouldn't say they are common by any means. Which is unfortunate because they are virtually fat-free and very adaptable. The only reason I can think that home cooks might avoid them is that egg whites have a reputation for being difficult to work with. However, if you have a stand mixer (or a good hand mixer and some stamina) it couldn't be easier. You just add the eggs to the bowl and mix away. Just remember that a soft peak and a stuff peak look exactly as they sound: soft peaks look fluffy and soft and stiff peaks hold their shape. Other tricks: work on a clear, dry day (dampness kills volume) and beat the whites in a very clean, greaseless metal bowl. I also like to beat cold egg whites, other disagree but I think I get better, glossier results. And if you make a mistake, eggs are so cheap, you can just start over without feeling like you have the salvage the problem.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote



Ingredients:
1 cup strawberries, diced
1 stalk rhubarb, diced
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:
Place the rhubarb, strawberries, water, lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook until the mixture boils and starts to thicken, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in arrowroot powder. Serve hot or cold. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating any leftovers. Great over ice cream, yogurt, pancakes or pavlovas.



My thoughts:
I love fruit compote but hardly ever remember to make it, which is a shame because it only takes a few minutes and elevates some thing like plain yogurt into a treat. I like to make it using a little arrowroot powder as a thickener instead of the usual cornstarch because it is virtually tasteless and when wet, is clear so you end up with a lump-free, translucent sauce.

April 04, 2007

Vanilla Coconut Macaroons



Ingredients:
3 egg whites
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Form into small (heaping tablespoon sized) balls and place 1/2 inch apart on a lightly greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They won't spread so you can fit a lot on a pan, just one should do the trick. Bake 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.


My thoughts:
Since flour and leavening agents are verboten during Passover, finding something to make for dessert or a sweet snack can be tricky. Recipes abound for "Passover-ized" cakes but they often fall short on taste. Flourless cakes are popular as well, but we are staying home this year and there is no way the two of us can finish off a whole flourless cake. Macaroons are quick, tasty and make a great sweet snack or light dessert. Instead of using flour to bind and add some body, I used a tiny bit of matzo meal (ground matzo) instead but you could certainly use flour if are not making them for Passover. Macaroons can be dressed up with a drizzle of chocolate or the addition of other flavors-I made some lime macaroons that were excellent and didn't use flour or matzo meal which is also perfect for Passover or any time.

April 03, 2007

Strawberry Pancakes


Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg

Directions:
Whisk together the egg, lemon juice, zest and buttermilk in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside. In the medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly whisk in the egg/buttermilk mixture until a smooth batter forms. It may bubble slightly. Fold in strawberries. Spray a frying pan or griddle with nonstick spray or melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Heat the pan so that it feels warm when you hover your hand over it. Add about 1/2 cup of the batter into the middle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear and pop. Flip. Cook for about 2 minutes. Both sides should be golden brown. If not, return it to the stove and continue to cook for 1 minute. Take care that it cooks through, the strawberries some times create little pockets of raw dough, if your pancake is especially thick, you might want to test it before removing it from the griddle.

Yields about 4-5 mid-sized pancakes.

My thoughts:
Due to a buy one get one free sale at our local grocery, we ended up with a plethora of strawberries. While we love strawberries, a couple of pounds per person is a lot to eat in the few days before they would go bad. I had never made or had strawberry pancakes before so I thought I'd give it a try. They are on the thick side but fluffy and light-you can see the chemical reaction of baking soda, buttermilk and lemon juice, which puffs up the batter as soon as you stir the ingredients together. The strawberries cook through but don't get mushy, even the couple of strawberries that were just this side of spoiling.

April 02, 2007

Matzo Ball Soup



Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 parsnips
4 carrots
4 stalks celery
3 onions (2 large, 1 small-divided use)
3 sprigs fresh sage PLUS 1 tablespoon minced
1 bunch fresh parsley PLUS 2 tablespoons minced
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, skin/fat removed and reserved
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Directions:
In a large soup pot, place 1 large onion, quartered; 1 (large) parsnip, halved; bunch parsley; sprigs of sage; 2 celery stalks; chicken pieces; broth and wine. The broth should be covering the chicken. If not, add water or additional to cover. Over high heat, bring to boil then reduce to low and simmer, partially covered for 1 hour, every 10 minutes, skim any scum that floats to the surface off. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan, add the fat, and the small onion, quartered and cook over medium heat until the fat is rendered. Strain into a heat safe bowl or measuring cup. Boil one cup water and pour it into a bowl with 1 cup matzo meal, stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons rendered fat (if you don't have 3 tablespoons worth, make up the difference in oil), minced parsley, minced sage, salt, egg and white pepper. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour. Cut the remain carrots, parsnips, celery and onion into bite sized pieces, set aside. After the soup has cooked for one hour, remove the chicken and place in a bowl. Strain the broth through a fine strainer into another large pot, pressing the solids to release any liquids. Discard solids. To the remaining broth add the cut up onion, carrots, parsnips, and celery. Return the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, remove the mazto meal mixture from the refrigerator and, using wet hands, roll into 1 inch balls. In a another pot, bring a large amount of salted water to boil. Drop the matzo balls into the water and cook 15 minutes, they should float to the top but this does not mean they are ready, cook the full 15 minutes. Pick the chicken off the bone using a fork or your fingers and remove to a a covered bowl. When the vegetables are tender, add the chicken back into the broth.

To serve: place 4 matzo balls in each bowl (should serve 4-6) and ladel the soup over. Serve right away.





My thoughts:
Matzo ball soup is a Passover classic. It is perfect because there is no need for leaveners, something that is forbidden at Passover, and uses matzo meal, which is made of ground matzo, something that is plentiful this time of year. Everyone had their own technique of making matzo balls, but this is my favorite. Not too dense, not too fluffy, the parsley adds a little flavor and they absorb just the right amount of broth. We made them with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) which gives them a wonderful flavor and has a third of the saturated fat as butter. Matt did a wonderful job of skimming off the broth, it is a little time consuming, but it really results in a super clear yet flavorful soup. One note: if you have any leftovers, store the matzo balls separately and heat them up in boiling water while you reheat the soup, if not, they tend to soak up too much of the liquid and fall apart during storage.

April 01, 2007

Super Ginger-Lemon Tea


Ingredients:
1 ½ cup water
3 ginger candies*
Juice of ½ a lemon
Sugar to taste

Directions:
Over medium heat, bring the water, ginger candies and lemon juice to a boil. Stir until the candies dissolve. Pour into mugs and add sugar to taste. Serve.

*Like these original ginger chews by the Ginger People, which I have found at Target, Whole Foods and online. Asian markets often sell very similar chewy ginger candies as well.

My thoughts:
Ginger tea is perfect for helping with nausea or fighting off a cold. Traditionally ginger is made with fresh ginger, but using ginger candy packs a bigger wallop of ginger goodness. Honestly, I am not a fan of hot beverages at all (despite my husband's attempt to woo me over to the world of tea, especially when I am sick) but even I enjoy this.