Friday, November 11, 2011

Banana ice cream

Pictured here with microwaved-Nutella hot fudge and whipped cream!

If you have an ice cream maker, make this ice cream! I used Alton's recipe, and added a little milk to the cream to cut down on that coated-mouth-taste you sometimes get with very creamy ice cream recipes.

Also use very ripe bananas, because they are very sweet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Friday breakfast: French toast and hot cocoa

You don't need me to tell you that French toast made out of chala leftovers is awesome. What I will add, though, is that Israeli date syrup makes a fine maple syrup substitute. On this occasion, we didn't even have that, so I resorted to spreading a thin layer of raspberry jam and coating with some fresh real whipped cream.

To adapt a joke from P&R, it wasn't really that amazing, OH WAIT IT SUPER WAS.

The hot cocoa was a recipe, again, from Jeffrey Steingarten. It's basically half a chocolate bar shaved down and stirred into boiling milk, along with some cocoa powder and sugar. I'd never have thought of adding cocoa powder, but it retrospect it seems so obvious. The other step I wouldn't have thought of is to stick blend the cocoa for a few minutes at the end to really emulsify everything, and give the cocoa a rich foam on top.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fudge and PB cookie sandwiches

This dessert was really a combination of two previous desserts. We love our recipe for chocolate fudge cookies, and we also really like mixing peanut butter with chocolate. So this recipe practically wrote itself!

The main question was how to do the peanut butter filling. Last time, we mixed peanut butter with parve creamer and whipped it up into a peanut butter foam. I was afraid that would not hold up for this application, and so I instead went to work making a peanut butter pudding with some fish gelatin I bought a while ago.

The fish gelatin instructions only tell you to dissolve a whole packet in 1/2 cup of milk or water for 20 minutes, then to heat the whole thing to 50-60 degrees C. I added two packets to 1 cup of soymilk with peanut butter mixed in and waited. 20 minutes later, it was a hard lumpy mess. I heated it and added more soy milk, which resulted in a nice smooth liquid.

Getting past this smooth liquid was the hard part. As a liquid, it was too runny. After chilling in the freezer, though, it got too hard and rubbery. Depending on the texture, the taste varied from smooth and creamy to chewy-pudding. But it always tasted like peanut butter, which was the main point.

It was hard to work with my peanut-pudding, but the filling was ok in the end. I think next time I'd use the peanut butter whipped cream from last time.

Oh, another weird thing was that the peanut filling seemed to cause the cookies to lose their stiffness and instead become soft mushballs. Oh well, it's fudge anyway, right?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grilled cheese with mushrooms, and broccoli`

The broccoli was roasted just like the other time. And the grilled cheese was, well, grilled cheese - but with thin slices of some large mushroom I bought at the store. Wasn't quite Portobello but bigger than the average button 'shroom. The slices were seared quickly before the sandwich.

My only tip on the very simple task of grilled cheese making: mix butter and olive oil on the skillet, and cook the sandwiches in that. It gives you the butter flavor, but the olive oil keeps the fat from smoking up and burning too quickly. And be generous with that skillet fat, folks.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stuffed zucchinis

I have to kind of squint at this one to remember exactly what I did here. I'm pretty sure I hollowed out some zucchinis and reserved the flesh. Onions got chopped up and fried in olive oil with garlic, and the scooped zucchini was added in along with some chopped eggplant. Spices almost certainly included salt, pepper, and paprika, though turmeric and cumin would also be appropriate. Then I cooked up some white rice, and layered it all together. I expected it all to meld together in a way that didn't happen, so I'd recommend that when you make this you mix the cooked rice with the veggies, or just cook it all together. It was tasty, though.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Easy as Pie

To make this dessert we
  1. Thawed some puff pastry and put it in a pie tin
  2. Cut up some ripe fruit (nectarines, I think), mixed it with lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar and a little salt and put it in the pastry
  3. Made a topping by blending equal parts margarine, white sugar and flour, and dotting it all over the fruit
  4. Baked it

Friday, November 4, 2011


Is this the first post I've written about sushi? It's certainly not the first time we've made sushi - we love it! I think the number one best thing about making sushi at home is the cost savings. Restaurant rolls cost 20-30 shekel each, and for about that much you can buy a bag of sushi rice and a package of nori, enough for at least 20 rolls. Yes, the ingredients cost money too, and there is the factor of time and effort. But a ten-fold markup? Seriously.

Making sushi is pretty straightforward, so I'll stick to a few bullet points:
  • I tried using Supersol brand risotto rice instead of sushi rice. It didn't work.
  • If you don't like the texture of your sushi rice when it finishes cooking, try soaking the rice - in the cooking water - on the counter before cooking. 30 minutes in the summer, 60 minutes in the winter.
  • Fake crab/shrimp is not available in Haifa, but we filled the fish requirement with lox, which was very good. I also bought some tuna from a fishmonger who told me it was sushi quality. In reality, it was gray and fishy smelling, so I decided to poach it in oil, then mix it with mayo and hot pepper for "spicy tuna". It basically tasted like canned tuna fish.
  • For real sushi grade fish, look for "red tuna". It's flash frozen, in shrink wrapped plastic. It comes in small, wedge shaped portions, which is a good amount for a few rolls of sushi. I'd use it. Some people also buy large salmon fillets and make sushi out of this. This strikes me as a bad idea, both because the salmon quality seems less pristine then the "red tuna" and because finding sushi-appropriate tender slices seems trickier. Your call.
  • Here are some good non-fish sushi fillings: avocado, cucumber, mushrooms (chopped and sauteed with miso, soy sauce and garlic), zucchini (amazing), sweet potatoes (roasted with honey and brown sugar), omelette slices...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Broccoli on Broccoli

I first separated the broccoli stalk from the florets. The florets got roasted in the usual combination of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and paprika. The stalk got diced and went into a pot of simmering milk. After a while, the stalk pieces softened and I stick-blended the whole thing into a creamy, broccoli flavored sauce. I don't remember details such as whether it contained sauteed onions and/or cheese, but those would both be appropriate.

The sauce went over spaghetti, and the roasted florets on top of that. Delicious.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

If you don't live near a place like Yerushalayim, Efrat, or Ra'anana, you probably don't have supermarkets that specialize in imported American products and, consequently, it's probably hard for you to find canned pumpkin.

Fortunately, making your own pumpkin puree is super easy if you have a stick blender. Much easier, in fact, since Israeli pumpkin comes in large, solid blocks of pumpkin flesh - no messy scooping necessary. Just remove the rind, and cut the pumpkin into slices. Roast 'em on a baking sheet with a little salt for, I don't know, 20 minutes? It doesn't take long, and when they are soft they are done. Toss in a bowl, apply stick blender, and you have a pumpkin puree that is more orange than anything that comes out of a can. Tastes the same, but man - it's so orange!

Use in whatever pie recipe you like. We were invited to a dairy meal, so I took the opportunity to make Alton's pumpkin pie. Instead of graham crackers, I used Honey Nut Cheerios, and it worked, I just added a little water or extra butter or something to hold it all together.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beef Tacos

(Not an actual picture of our taco meat, but ours looked a lot like this)

I am in the middle of reading Jeffrey Steingarten's two books, and in one of them he writes about eating delicious beef tacos in Tijuana. Now, usually, when reading about Jeffrey's globetrotting culinary adventures I content myself to live vicariously, salivating at the descriptions of treif, forbidden treats. Surprisingly, though, the tacos he raves about contain beef (not pork) and no dairy! This last point is truly surprising, since almost all Tex-Mex dishes mix their basar and chalav.

In fact, it is a dilemma that I have still not, and may never resolve: are kosher Tex-Mex dishes better with real meat, and fake or no cheese, or the reverse? Here at SupperForTwo, our enchiladas, burritos, nachos, and tacos are always dairy. In fact, we were planning to have veggie burger tacos last Wed night. But Jeffrey's description of his beef taco would not leave me alone, and so I called Rachel at the last minute to inform her that, tonight, our tacos will be beef.

The biggest question here is: which cut (or number in Israel) of beef is right for tacos? I'm not talking about a cheap, ground meat taco, because that's not what Jeffrey ate. He says to use flank steak, which is commonly recommended for beef fajitas which, at the end of the day, are basically the same thing: beef wrapped in a flour tortilla with meat, guacamole, tomato salsa and chili pepper sauce.

True flank steak is a hind cut, which makes it unavailable in America - use skirt steak instead, if you can find it. Here in Israel, where we are blessed with nikkur and the hind cuts it permits, flank steak is #17. I asked the butcher for #17 and he pointed to a piece of meat that looked about right. But then I asked for it, and he changed his mind, telling me actually he thinks that piece is #14 (the bottom sirloin).

Now, this butcher might have been senile, but he might have also been lying to just get me to leave so he wouldn't have to cut anything (it was late and the store was nearly empty). The question, thus, was whether I should buy a piece of meat that might be flank steak but might be bottom sirloin.

What's the difference, you ask? It all comes down to tenderness. There are really only two cuts of beef that are naturally tender - rib eye and filet mignon. These muscles are low in collagen, the stuff that holds muscles together and makes meat tough. You cook up rib eye or filet mignon just till they are done, and the low-collagen meat will be juicy and tender. Any other cut of meat needs to be cooked slowly, at a low temperature - this breaks down the collagen and makes the meat tender.

However, there is one other way you can get around the tough collagen in a non-rib eye or filet mignon cut of meat. You can cook it briefly, and slice it thinly against the grain, which cuts up the long collagen ropes into little stubby pieces that your teeth can easily chew. However, some cuts are really too tough even for this. I once bought a shoulder cut, sliced it thin, and tried to make a Philly-style steak sandwich (no Wiz, obviously) - it was ok, but too tough. Therefore, you have to know if your tough cut is really tough, or just a little tough.

Back to Supersol. I bought the meat because I figured that if the meat was in fact bottom sirloin, it was close enough (on the cow) to the flank, that it would be a similar muscle. Maybe I also thought, in the back of my head, that the sirloin is one of the more tender of the non-tender cuts. Maybe I just wanted tacos, and took my chances.

It paid off. I sliced the piece of meat into three flat steaks, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika and a little cumin, and then browned them in a hot cast iron skillet with a little oil. Just a couple minutes on each side, and then I sliced them super thin across the grain. The result - juicy, beefy, TENDER, savory delicious crust on each little bite...

Oh, right - also there were flour tortillas, which I fried. Yeah, I meat to just brown them but I ended up deep frying them. It was amazing, ok? Guac, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and Goya's ancho flavored salsita (our stash is dwindling. sigh.) were all the meat needed. SO GOOD.

Soo, just to recap: try and get #17 beef, but I may have gotten #14 by accident and, if so, it was just as good.