“Pizza” Cookie

pizza cookie

This is a great idea to use at a get together instead of a cake. For those that like, you can also top this “pizza” with cut up fresh fruit instead of candy if you like. This “pizza” will serve 12-16, depending how you slice it.

Ingredients:

½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter/margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping
¼ cup chopped walnuts/or other nut of choice
¼ cup flaked coconut (optional)
½ cup candy-coated chocolate pieces or other candy of choice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, white sugar, and butter until smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking soda and then stir it into the batter. Note, the dough will be stiff! Don’t worry about it; just mix it as best you can. You do not want a runny batter for this recipe. Mix in the mini chocolate chips.

Dampen your fingertips with bit of water or a touch of oil, and spread or pat dough onto an un-greased 12 inch pizza pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown; let cool.

Just before serving, spread cookie with whipped cream. Sprinkle with nuts, coconut and chocolate candies. Cut into wedges. Refrigerate any remaining pizza cookie.

Tu B’Shevat Treat – Seven Species Muffins

Seven Species MuffinsThis post is taken from Tori Avey, aka The Shiksa in the Kitchen. She has a great site that I encourage you to visit at www.toriavey.com.

Typical foods served on Tu B’Shevat include fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. The almond trees bloom at this time of year, so almond-laden foods often make an appearance on the holiday table. Those who partake in a Tu B’Shevat Seder will eat at least 15 different types of fruits and vegetables. Chocolatey carob pods are sometimes included in the meal. It is also customary to include the Seven Species mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates.

Ingredients:

¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried figs*
½ cup dates*
1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
⅓ cup light olive oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (¾ cup all-purpose + ¾ cup whole wheat flour will work too)
½ cup barley flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup chopped walnuts
Nonstick cooking spray or paper muffin tin liners

Topping Ingredients (optional)

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

* To learn how to properly inspect these fruits, click here.

You will also need:

Blender or food processor, large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, standard muffin tin, ice cream scoop or small ladle, cooling rack

Directions:

  • If your raisins are particularly dry, cover them with water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and let the raisins sit in the water to plump for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If your figs have tough stems on them, remove them and discard.
  3. Roughly chop dates and figs. Set aside.
  4. Use a blender or food processor to blend together the following ingredients until very smooth: dates, figs, almond milk, applesauce, cinnamon and allspice.
  5. It may take a couple of minutes to blend all ingredients to a smooth consistency, depending on the power of your blender. The end result should be similar to the texture of apple butter or smooth fruit preserves. Set mixture aside.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, light olive oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  8. Gently mix the pomegranate seeds into the dry mixture, making sure the seeds are well coated with flour.
  9. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the fruit mixture from the blender into the well.
    Add the egg mixture to the well.
  10. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are just moistened and a lumpy batter forms. Do not over mix – if you do your muffins will turn out heavy and dense.
  11. Fold raisins and chopped walnuts into the muffin batter with a light-handed stir.
  12. Prep your muffin pan by spraying a small amount of non-stick cooking spray into the bottom of each muffin tin (not the sides), or use paper muffin cup liners. Divide batter equally into muffin cups, filling each cup to the top and mounding the surface slightly. I’ve found that it’s easiest to do this using an ice cream scoop.
  13. If you’d like to top the muffins, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl using a fork. Sprinkle about a ½ tsp of cinnamon sugar mixture evenly across the surface of each muffin.
  14. Place muffins in the oven and immediately turn heat down to 375 degrees F. That extra heat blast at the beginning of the baking cycle will help to activate the baking powder and baking soda. Bake for 25-27 minutes until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a rack. Do not let the muffins cool completely in the tin, they are quite moist and may stick to the tin if you leave them there too long. Serve warm.

Easy Indian-Style Chicken

Indian Style ChickenThis is an easy, authentic chicken dish that gets its creaminess from coconut milk, rather than cream or yogourt, so it’s dairy free! This recipe will make enough for 6. I suggest serving it with basmati rice or na’an.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 ½ onions, finely chopped
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons water
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot chili paste or siracha (optional)
3 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup chopped cilantro*

Directions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, and fry for a few minutes until they become fragrant and begin to pop. Stir in chopped onion, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste and water, and pour into skillet. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until it has firmed and turned white, about 5-7 minutes. Add coconut milk, brown sugar, chili paste, cayenne pepper, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until the chicken is tender and no longer pink in the centre, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.

* Click here to see how to properly clean fresh cilantro.

Brisket Braised in Tea with Root Vegetables

Braised BrisketDisclaimer! I got today’s recipe from “Cooking with Tea” by Robert Wemischner and Diana Rosen. When you borrow, you MUST give credit, it’s only right!

This dish is great for entertaining. It is best made the day before serving for two reasons: First, any fat that rises to the top of the braising liquid may be skimmed off easily when cold, and second, the flavour of the tea and the vegetable components settle in and marry overnight, producing a mellow, multilayered taste profile.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ pounds lean brisket of beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, enough to coat the pan for searing
½ bunch celery, washed well and cut into ½ inch diagonal slices
1 ½ cups thinly slices yellow onions
4 carrots, washed and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
4 cloves garlic smashed then finely chopped
4 tablespoons Keemun tea leaves, or another type of black Asian tea
4 tablespoons additional Keemun tea leaves for sauce
2 litres water
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup ketchup

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Salt and pepper the brisket and sear in hot olive oil in a heavy skillet until the surface is browned. Turn only once, after about 5 minutes. Place the brisket in a heavy roasting pan and scatter the vegetables over the meat.

Brew the 4 tablespoons of tea in cool (170 F) water for 30 minutes. Sieve out and discard leaves. Combine the brewed tea, brown sugar and ketchup in a bowl to dissolve all the ingredients thoroughly, then pour over the brisket. Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven for 2 ½ hours, or until tender. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, skim off any fat that collects on the surface of the braising liquid. Pour the de-fatted liquid into a heavy saucepan and cook over high heat until it is reduced by half. Add 4 tablespoons of keemun tea leaves and return liquid to the boil. Remove from the heat immediately. Pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve to remove leaves. Adjust seasonings in the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

With a sharp carving knife, slice meat across the grain into thin slices. Place decoratively on the plate along with vegetables. Drizzle sauce over each portion.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Cassarole
*This dish calls for the use of dairy ingredients such as butter, milk and buttermilk. If you wish to have this dish be non-dairy or parve, you can substitute margarine and a non-dairy milk product, such as soy milk or almond milk, instead. For non-dairy buttermilk, please see the instructions at the end of the recipe.

Original recipe makes 1 -2 ½ quart dish

Ingredients:

2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 large eggs
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup buttermilk*
⅓ cup milk*
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Pistachio crust:
½ cup chopped roasted, salted pistachios (or other preferred nut)
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with butter or margarine. Place sweet potato cubes into a large pot, cover with water, and add a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until a knife is easily inserted into a sweet potato cube, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Return to the pot and mash 2 tablespoons butter or margarine into sweet potatoes. Whisk eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk*, milk*, vanilla extract, cayenne pepper, allspice, and ½ teaspoon salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually mash sweet potatoes into egg mixture, starting with 2 tablespoons of sweet potato mixture, until all sweet potatoes are incorporated. Transfer sweet potatoes into prepared baking dish. Mix nuts, brown sugar, flour, and ¼ cup melted butter or margarine together until completely mixed. Crumble topping evenly over top of sweet potatoes. Use the back of a fork to gently press nut mixture down onto sweet potatoes. Bake in the preheated oven until topping is browned and casserole is set, 25 to 30 minutes. If desired, place under oven’s broiler for 5 minutes to give topping a little more brown colour. Let rest to cool slightly before serving, about 10 minutes.

Non-Dairy “Buttermilk”

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon lemon juice, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Enough dairy-free milk to add to the ½ tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar) to equal ½ cup total liquid

Directions:

Combine ingredients; whisk. Set aside 5 minutes. Milk will thicken and may separate, depending on the type of dairy-free milk you use. (This is fine, don’t worry!) Stir and use as you would use buttermilk in recipes. You may double the recipe for 1 cup of dairy-free buttermilk, if needed.

Apple Cake

Apple Cake

For this recipe, it is important that the wet ingredients are mixed really well before adding the dry. Once the dry are in, you don’t want to over beat it, but it needs to be fully incorporated and lump free. Take your time. It’s worth it! For added decadence, you can make the glaze, though note that it is dairy, and therefore would make the whole cake dairy once poured on top.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups apples – peeled, cored and diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9″ x 13″ cake pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the oil and eggs with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. Slowly add this dry mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the apples by hand using a wooden spoon or spatula. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Once cake is cool serve with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or with the Caramel Glaze below.

Caramel Glaze

Ingredients:

½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

In a medium sized sauce pan, add the butter, sugar and cream. Bring the ingredients to a boil, and then let bubble for about 3 minutes. Stir gently, but frequently to avoid the mixture from scalding. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Let the glaze cool just slightly before pouring over the warm cake.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

This recipe calls for dairy ingredients, however they can be substituted for non-dairy (parve) items of the same type: i.e.: margarine or shortening instead of butter, soy cream cheese instead of regular. Regarding the use of the crystallized ginger, it is a really wonderful and unique ingredient. It starts off slightly citrusy when you first bite into it, and then you get the heat of the ginger. If you’re finding it difficult to find crystallized ginger, just know that it is the same as candied ginger, sugared ginger, or ginger chips – they are all just different names/sizes. If you choose not to use it, just up the total amount of powdered ginger to 1 ¼ teaspoons instead.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅓ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 -25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon allspice

Directions:

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, butter, and allspice. Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until the mixture is spreadable. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

Curry-Scented Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, 2 ½ lbs or about 6 cups, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
2 large sweet apples such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and cubed in 1” pieces
3 medium onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
6 cups vegetable stock
1 container (8 oz/250 g) mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons salt
Sour cream and snipped fresh chives (optional)

Directions:

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter in over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir for 1 minute or until curry powder is fragrant. Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat. Carefully ladle about one-third of the squash mixture into blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour blended soup into a stand-by bowl for holding while you blend the rest of the soup. Repeat two times with remaining squash mixture. Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender, you can use this rather than transferring the soup. Return soup to stock pot and whisk in mascarpone and salt until mascarpone is completely incorporated. If the soup is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with additional stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and remove from heat. Garnish each serving with sour cream and chives, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Bonus – When scooping out the seeds from your squash, do NOT throw them away! Clean them under running water to remove any residue, and then toss them with a little oil and spices of your liking. With this soup, since it has a curry flavour, you can toss a little curry powder or even cinnamon or nutmeg on the seeds, along with some salt and pepper. Then spread the seeds out on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. You should just keep an eye on them, as seeds tend to burn quickly! Once done, remove from them oven and toss a few on top of each soup serving as a nice crunchy garnish.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients:

1 large cabbage

Filling:
2 ¼ pounds ground beef
1 cup uncooked rice
3 teaspoons oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 46-oz. can tomato juice
3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Prepare cabbage by either boiling or freezing method. Remove and check leaves. To see the process on how to freeze or boil the cabbage, click here. To learn about checking the leaves for insects, click here.

Combine all ingredients for meat mixture in a bowl and mix well. Take a single leaf of cabbage, and place a couple of tablespoons of filling at the base of the leaf. Roll the leaf up, folding in the sides as you roll. Rolls should be able to remain sealed without a toothpick.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a large pot, stir in flour, and cook until brown. This is called making a Roux, and it will act as a thickener for the sauce. Add rest of ingredients in order listed. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.You can add more lemon juice, sugar or pepper, according to taste.

In a large 8-quart stock pot, place a few of the extra/small or torn leaves that you have left over from making the rolls, and line the bottom of the pot. Add about and inch or so of sauce, and lay your cabbage rolls carefully, seam side down, in the sauce one by one. The rolls may be piled in layers if necessary. Cover the rolls with the remainder of the sauce, and any cabbage you have left over can be used to cover the rolls. If you have extra filling, you can either freeze it for next time, or make small meatballs out of it, and place it in the sauce as well. Cook on low flame for 2 hours, adding more water if necessary. The rolls are done when the meat is cooked through and the rice is tender.

Post-Fast – Indulgence!

Creme Brulee

Crème Brûlée French Toast

I know this goes against what I was saying about not gorging yourself after the fast, but if you’re ever going to eat something rich and calorie loaded like this dish, this is the time to do it! What’s even better about this dish is that it’s even better if you prepare it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight, having the bread soak up all the flavours, and then bake it right after the fast and eat it hot! This recipe will make 12 servings.

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons corn syrup
1 large challah
10 large eggs
3 cups half-and-half or whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons orange flavoured liqueur or orange juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13×9 inch baking dish, making sure that the pan is at least 2 inches deep. Cut the challah into large cubes. You can remove the crusts or keep them, it’s a matter of personal taste. Arrange the bread cubes in the baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half/milk, vanilla, liqueur/juice concentrate, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Do not toss, as you want the sugar/syrup mixture to stay on the bottom of the pan. At this point you can let the dish sit for 15-20 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the egg and milk mixture, or you can refrigerate the bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit, and if you’ve chilled the dish, bring bread to room temperature. Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot french toast immediately. TIP: When you serve this, turn the piece upside down on the individual’s plate, to allow the caramel-y goodness (and the Crème Brûlée aspect of the recipe), run down over the toast!