Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dilled Cucumber Salad

If you're like me, then you secretly look forward to the moment every now and then when you get to clean out your refrigerator (come on, admit it!). Down on my hands and knees, I sort through the depths of the produce bin, amazed at what I find. I performed this ritual recently, reluctantly. You see, summer has officially ended in DC. The mornings are becoming a tad chilly, requiring a wrap over my short sleeve tops and today I wore stockings for the first time. And my refrigerator ritual yielded the end of the summer produce: the last few baby heirloom tomatoes, a handful of figs, and a lonely (and shriveled) peach. But as the seasons change, so too do my taste buds. I find myself craving the peppery bite of arugula and Dijon rather than sweet watermelon and buttery corn - my usual summer staples. This salad is my first official fall dish and I hope it helps ease you into the cooler temperatures and shorter days ahead, as it did for me.Dilled Cucumber Salad 2 English (or seedless) cucumbers, sliced thinly 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt or plain yogurt 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (use a smooth mustard rather than a grainy one) 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper 3 tablespoons dill, minced Toss cucumbers and salt in colander. Let stand for 30 minutes then rinse cucumbers in cold water and dry thoroughly. Be sure the cucumbers are dry before dressing them or else the dressing will slide right off. Combine yogurt, mustard, garlic and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat, then add the dill and mix well. Serves 6.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fig Crumble

I have always had a fascination with figs. My aunt, who lives on the Jersey shore, had a fig tree in her front yard. I remember walking up her front steps to ring the doorbell and taking a peek at the fig tree to see what was growing. There would be maybe two or three figs that always seemed to take forever to ripen. But once they were ripe, she took great pride in them and would always offer me a half a fig whenever I visited. I don't actually remember the taste of the fig and years went by before I ever thought about buying some figs for myself. They aren't particularly expensive and while on one of my many runs to the supermarket before Rosh Hashana, I picked up a package. They didn't make it onto my Rosh Hashana menu and so I decided a fig dessert was in order for this week. I have finally recovered from the depths of dirty dishes that were piled up on every possible inch of surface area in my kitchen and am ready to get back into the cooking routine. I hope you enjoy this dessert as much as NAK and I did. You can eat it fresh from the oven and then pack some up to bring to work for dessert after lunch. Or keep it at home in the fridge with a fork nearby. It will disappear quickly! Fig Crumble Adapted from Molly at Orangette Molly makes this crumble with plums, the same way it's made in the original recipe. I have never been in love with plums so I decided to substitute 16 oz of figs for the plums. It worked perfectly. I also reduced the butter by 2 tablespoons - I didn't miss it! For the figs: 2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar 1 ½ tablespoos all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground ginger 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger 16 oz (about 25) black mission figs, stems cut off and cut in half For the topping: Scant ¾ cup granulated sugar 1 cup all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 1 egg, beaten well 5 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted Position a rack in the center of oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the seasoning for the figs: brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, and crystallized ginger. Add the figs, and gently stir to coat. Arrange the figs in an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the topping: granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend well. Add the egg. Using hands, mix thoroughly, squeezing and tossing and pinching handfuls of the mixture, to produce moist little particles. Sprinkle evenly over the figs. Spoon the butter evenly over the topping, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is browned. Cool. Serve crumble warm or at room temperature.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Honey Cake and My Rosh Hashana Menu

I hope I haven't disappointed you this week. The postings have been a bit sparse. After a string of 12 hours days at work and frantic menu preparation for the many people NAK and I are hosting this weekend for Rosh Hashana, there just wasn't time to cook! I do want to share with you my menu for the weekend as well as a classic Rosh Hashana Honey Cake recipe that has graced my family's table for nearly half a century. This recipe was given to my grandmother by her neighbor in Philadelphia and she and my mother have been making it for years. I can't wait to serve it tonight. Whenever I smell this cake in the oven, or slice it and serve it for dessert, I know that the New Year is here. This year's Rosh Hashana Menu: Friday Night Dinner Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls Roast Chicken with Dried Fruit and Almonds Haricot Verts with Pine Nuts Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots Wild Rice with Pears and Chestnuts Apple Pie Honey Cake (recipe below) Saturday Night Dinner Sweet and Sour Brisket Israeli Couscous with Cherry Tomatoes Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew Purple Cabbage Salad Brandied Fruit Salad It's time for me to get back to work in the kitchen. I'll be back after the holiday with more photos and recipes. Wishing those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year a very happy and healthy one! Honey Cake Recipe courtesy of Mrs. Berger 1 cup honey 1/2 cup water 2 eggs 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 1/2 tsp allspice Boil honey and water together the let cool (can be made 1 day ahead). Mix eggs and sugar until thick and light, at least 3 minutes in mixer. Add oil, honey and water. Stir dry ingredients together in separate bowl; add to creamed mixture until just blended. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan; line with wax paper. Bake at 350, about 50 minute or until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil

Yesterday was an exciting day. I ran a half marathon. I ran 13.1 miles with a headache, stuffy nose and sore throat...and I finished it. Not in a great time, but I finished it. I've been training for this half marathon for quite a while. Since May in fact. And because of all the running I do (upwards of 20 miles a week), I am entitled to eat cake. Yes, I am, I give myself permission. I made a pretty amazing tart last weekend and after a small dinner party (4 in total), the tart was just about devoured. NAK finished it up the next day. The tart shell is perfectly browned pastry goodness that melts in your mouth and the sweet yet tart lemon curd lingers on your tongue. The combination of the two is heaven and despite a technical snafu with the tart shell (I include updated directions below so this won't happen to you), I highly recommend you make this tart for your next dinner party. Just don't expect any leftovers. Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil Adapted from Gourmet, May 2008 As I allude to above, there were a few technical snafus with this tart. First, the original recipe does not create enough tart dough. I made another batch of the dough and used about 2/3 to fill the entire tart shell, so I recommend doubling the recipe and using what you need to fill the shell. The directions below reflect my suggestions. I also had a very hard time getting the cornstarch to dissolve in the lemon curd. I recommend dissolving the corn starch in a tablespoon or two of cold water and then adding it to the curd. It will dissolve much more easily and save you 20 minutes of heavy duty whisking over the hot pot! For tart shell: 4 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup confectioners sugar Pinch of salt 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 large egg yolk 6 tablespoons fruity olive oil For lemon curd: 3 large lemons 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons cornstarch 2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil Make tart shell: Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Grease a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and sea salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add yolk and oil and pulse until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed. Spread dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan with a spatula. Chill in the freezer until very firm, about 60 minutes. Bake shell until golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Make curd: Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons. Whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth. Assemble tart: Pour lemon curd into cooled shell and chill until set, at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zucchini and Rosemary Soup

Every now and then my compulsive kitchen organization skills fail me and I end up with either too little or too much of a particular ingredient that I need for that week. Ok, maybe this week I contributed to this circumstance as I just had to pick up a few locally grown zucchini at .89/lb. I’m teetering on the edge of zucchini exhaustion this summer since I’ve made breads, ratatouille, and salads, but giving up on zucchini will mean that the summer is officially coming to an end. And I’m just not ready for that. This Zucchini and Rosemary soup is the prettiest shade of green. Spring green with dark green rosemary flecks. It’s perfect for a casual weekend lunch or a more formal appetizer for a dinner party. We ate this soup hot the day we made it and then room temperature the next. It works both ways and a hot bowl of summer zucchini soup will take you right up to the beginning of fall, which unfortunately, is right around the corner.
Zucchini and Rosemary Soup Bon Appetit, June 1995
Serves 4-6, depending on portion size. 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 large onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 russet potato, peeled, sliced 3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced Melt butter with oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and rosemary. Add stock and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add sliced zucchini; simmer until tender about 15 minutes. Working in batches, puree in blender or use a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sour cream and green onions.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuna and White Bean Salad

Let me preface this post by saying the following: I have a wonderful husband. He takes me to see girly movies (Julie & Julia and Sex and the City), he will visit me during his lunch break if I'm home sick, he does the dishes most nights....he's a real catch! I say this upfront because I got mad at him this week. I made him this Tuna and White Bean salad and left it for him the fridge with specific instructions to put a few scoops on a bed of spinach and drizzle it with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Things got a bit sticky when I got home from work that day... SAS: How was lunch? NAK: Good. Thanks for making it. SAS: You're welcome. Was it better than Temple Tuna? NAK: Well...No. And there you have it. Really, I guess I was asking for it. You see, Temple Tuna is a mixture of low quality tuna, mayonnaise and relish that was served on Saturday for lunch at the synagogue that NAK and his family attended when he was growing up. I had it once or twice...it was ok, but it doesn't compare to my tuna salad. Temple Tuna has no fresh herbs, no fresh vegetables, and no high quality Italian tuna. And somehow, my loving husband thinks that this tuna is better than mine. I'd say that Tuna and White Bean Salad is a pretty great lunch option - whether served in a pita pocket or on top of greens, I know that it will beat out a plain boring mayonnaise-y tuna salad any day of the week. Tuna and White Bean Salad Adapted from my grandmother, Sylvia Menin 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 2 5 0unce cans drained tuna, preferably Italian tuna packed in olive oil 1 tomato, seeded and diced 1/4 cup chopped red onion 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil salt and pepper Combine beans, tuna, tomato and onion in a large bowl. Mash beans with fork or potato masher. Combine lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil the add to salad. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper.