December 21, 2015

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons Tuaca
2 tablespoons coarse Cara Cara orange zest*
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, zest and Tuaca and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Slide them out on the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

*Or regular oranges. I use this to coarsely zest my orange.

My thoughts:
I recieved some pretty pink Cara Cara oranges in my produce box a week or so again. I was just going to eat them but then I was reminded of those chocolate oranges they sell this time of year and thought I'd make some cookies inspired by that instead. Orange and chocolate are a classic combination. Cara Cara oranges are extra sweet and less acidic than some varieties of orange so they make the perfect zest for cookies. The Tuaca adds a bit of richness and a hint of orange that went great with the coarse orange zest and didn't fade after baking like fresh orange juice can. The best part is that these cookies were in the oven in only 10 minutes. They bake for 12 and once they cool for a few minutes, they are ready to eat. Fresh cookies ready to eat in under 40 minutes? Yes, please!

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December 15, 2015

Apple Butter Mascarpone Dessert Cheese Ball

1/2 cup Musselman's apple butter
8 oz (brick) cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

In a large bowl, beat together the apple butter, cream cheese, marscapone and sugar until smooth with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate 1-2 hours or until well chilled.

Place the almonds in a shallow bowl. Set aside. Remove the apple butter mixture from the container and mold into a ball. Roll in almonds to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with apples, pears and graham crackers.

Prep time: about 10 minutes, serves about 20

My thoughts:

Our friends have an annual holiday party that that is always a lot of fun. This year they asked for people to bring an exciting dish to share and I knew it was my chance to make the sweet, dessert cheese ball I've been waiting to make for at least the last 8 months. Being a family of two, our needs for a cheese ball are pretty small on the day-to-day so I'd been looking for an excuse to make it. Since I am a Musselman's apple butter blogger, an apple butter-spiked cheese ball seemed like a no brainer. It was super quick to put together and transport. I just placed it in the middle of a platter, loosely wrapped it in foil and then added the fruit and crackers when I arrived. It wasa great combination of sweet, tangy and nicely spiced from the apple butter which went great with the graham crackers and fruit I served it with.

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December 11, 2015

Chicken Schnitzel

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick*
4 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon
1 cup flour
1 cup matzo meal
Thrive™ Algae Oil
lemon wedges for serving

Heat 1/3 inch Thrive™ Algae Oil in a low, wide pan. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg and mustard in a shallow bowl. Set aside. Pour the flour and matzo meal onto two seperate plates. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour then dip into the egg mixture and then dredge in matzo meal. Fry 2-5 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve with lemon wedges.

*If the breasts are very thick, butterfly them first. I pounded mine between two sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin.
My thoughts:
I've already shared one recipe I created inspired by Israeli TV show, Srugim, about four single 30-something modern Orthodox friends. That beet-dumpling soup was what one of the female characters, Yifat, made several times for Shabbat. She did most of the cooking for the group but on the rarer occasions the male characters had Shabbat at their apartment or brought a dish, they always served schnitzel. There is even one scene where the two brothers, Nati and Roi debate the merits of the eating the last schnitzel their mother made (and froze) before she died. It being Israel and keeping kosher, the schnitzel they were talking about was made of chicken, not pork. Since frying is one of the things we are compelled to do at Hanukkah, I thought this would a perfect time to have another Srugim inspired meal.

Since you are frying thin cutlets very quickly, it is important to use oil with a high smoke point. Coincidentally, right before Hanukkah, the folks at Thrive™ Algae Oil contacted me about trying out their new, neutral-tasting oil made from algae. With a smoke point of 485 degrees, it seemed perfect for frying. Plus Thrive™ Algae Oil has the highest level of monounsaturated ("good") fat, and the lowest level of saturated ("bad") fat compared to other oils which helped ease my mind a bit when it came to making a second fried meal in less than a week! Now, I served my schnitzel hot but in the show, they normally served it at room temperature so I think that would be good as well! It also made a great sandwich on some challah.

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December 07, 2015

Fennel-Potato Latkes

4 cups grated Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
2 bulbs fennel, grated
1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds, leafy parts only
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil


In a large cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.
Place the potato into a metal sieve over a large bowl. Press out any liquid. Pour out the liquid and place the potatoes in the bowl on top of the remaining starch. Use the same sieve to drain the fennel and onion over the sink. Add to the potato. Stir in spices, and the matzo meal. Form into flat patties. If they will not hold their shape, stir in additional matzo meal until they do. Fry in hot oil, flipping halfway through, until just golden.

Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about a 10 latkes, depending on size.

My thoughts:
One of the best parts, possibly the best part, of Hanukkah, is latkes! I try to make a different kind each year and this year I ended up with some beautiful fennel in my produce box so it was only logical to turn it into latkes! I was surprised at how well and easily the fennel grated (using the large holes in a box grater just like the potatoes) and how much flavor they added to the latkes. Matt thinks fennel can be fibrous but that was not an issue there, it really mixed well with the potato. I don't know if it was the fennel or what but these were some of the crispiest, tastiest latkes we've made in years. I served them with a bit of sour cream and alongside some smoked salmon salad I made yesterday for a festive lunch, but they'd be great at dinner too. I did really like making the salad the day before so I could focus all of my attention to the latkes and not on another main dish. I will keep that in mind for next Hanukkah!

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December 05, 2015

Rauðkál (Icelandic Pickled Red Cabbage)

1 head red cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large stick cinnamon
2 whole star anise

Place ingredients in a lidded pot. Bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes or until fully wilted and soft, stirring occasionally. Remove cinnamon stick and star anise and discard. If liquid remains, bring to a boil until it evaporates. Cool then refrigerate. Serve chilled.

My thoughts:
Over the years we've gone to a number of Scandinavian holiday events; Swedish, Finnish, Danish and then this year, Icelandic! It is a lot of fun to try food that we normally can't get (Icelandic hot dogs and lamb!) and I normally come away with some ideas of how to make some holiday foods at home. I've made quite a few Swedish dishes over the years but Icelandic was new to me. In Iceland, it seems, a lot of red cabbage is grown for Jóla (Christmas) dinner. It is quick-pickled and served along side hangikjöt (smoked lamb) wild game, potatoes and other dishes. While some Icelandic ingredients are tricky to get a hold of (I have the Icelandic hot dogs but no condiments!) red cabbage is plentiful this time of year here as well. It seemed an obvious choice! This cabbage is similar to a lot of sweet and sour cabbage dishes across Europe but somewhat unusually spiced with star anise and cinnamon. The result: a pickled cabbage dish that really tastes of the holidays! I served it with pork as I don't have hangikjöt but it would be great with ham, turkey or chicken as well.

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December 03, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef-Eggplant Stew

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced into coins
1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 turnip, cubed
1 large eggplant, cubed
1 1/4 lb cubed sirloin or other beef for stew
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup cognac vinegar (can sub red wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 bay leaf
super fine flour (like Wondra flour)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the beef with the salt, pepper and some super fine flour to coat. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven and add the beef. Saute until the beef is lightly browned on all sides. Pour the mixture into a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients Stir. Cover and cook for 8 hours. Remove the bay leaf prior to serving. Stir prior to serving.

My thoughts:
After an unseasonably warm November, there is actually a bit of a chill in the air. We've busted out our slippers, flannel sheets and now the slow cooker for the season. I've been wanting to make beef stew for a while but it really didn't seem appropriate when the days were 65 and sunny so when yesterday was rainy and dreary I popped some ingredients in the slow cooker and had a lovely, hearty meal come dinnertime. I've rarely cooked eggplant in the slow cooker (despite the hundreds of slow cooker recipes in my cookbooks)but that's a shame, slow cooking renders eggplant silky and tender with nary a hint of bitterness. The perfect counterpoint to the rich beef.

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