I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Shoes Are Not Fattening

Don't you just love those quick little nibbles we grab to eat in the car while we are in between shopping destinations? Somehow there is less guilt involved with this type of nibbling ritual. It may be due to the fact that shopping has the same physical benefits as any workout at any gym, with much less stress and far less persperation. Come on ladies, it takes between 40 to 60 minutes of cardio to get your heart pumping and only a mere glance at a pretty outfit or a stunning pair of shoes to do the exact same thing. So indulge in one of these chunky, buttery, chocolaty, nutty, crispy, chewy cookies in the car as I did without feeling guilty. All you have to do to burn it off is glance at a dozen pair of shoes and about six outfits! It's the most sensible way to keep the chunk in the cookie and away from your hips!

White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies

2/3 c. butter (10 tbsp. plus 2 tsp.), at room temp.
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 lg. egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 jar (3 1/2 oz.) macadamia nuts, chopped coarse (about 3/4 c.)
2 bars (3 oz. each) white chocolate, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease two 17x14 inch cookie sheets. In large bowl of electric mixer beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla at medium-high speed until fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, add flour, increase mixer speed gradually and beat just until blended. Stir in nuts and chocolate. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls dough 2 1/2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time 17 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned and tops look dry. Cool on sheet on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.
Makes a little less than 2 dozen cookies

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Goes Green

There was a time I would have never considered using lettuce for anything other than a salad or sandwich topper. I use to think of celery the same way but both of them stand up to cooking really well in a variety of ways. My cousin Pat use to always ask for the leftover salad from family dinners as long as there was no dressing. Pat would use the leftover salad; tomatoes, onions and whatever else may have been in it to make soup.
There are so many varieties of lettuce ranging from the very mild iceberg to the peppery arugula and lets not forget the bitterness of endive.
Bitter, peppery and mild seem to cover the lettuce flavor range for the most part, the bulk of all lettuce varieties do tend to be very delicate and mild in flavor. So keep that in mind when choosing what lettuce you are going to use in your soup. I prefer to go with a mild variety such as Iceberg, Bibb or Romaine; it adds a more delicate backdrop for the cream, butter and nutmeg making it very comforting to the palate.

Spring Lettuce Soup

2 med. heads lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 c. light cream
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Dash of pepper

In 4-quart kettle, combine shredded lettuce and chicken broth; bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered 10 minutes or until lettuce is soft. In electric blender, place one half lettuce and liquid, cover and blend. Pour into bowl. Repeat with other half. Pour back into kettle. Add cream, butter, sugar, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted and soup is hot. Beat mixture with a rotary mixer to make very smooth. Serve.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Irish Knish

If you are like me and make mass amounts of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day (as if it is the only time of year that you can make it)! It is safe to say that your fridge is over run with leftovers and it is only a matter of time before you are sick of the sandwiches and corned beef hash and long for a creative alternative.

I happen to be a huge fan of kosher deli fare and have always loved a good knish. Then it dawned on me why not use the leftover corned beef and cabbage. So here it is the birth of the Irish knish, it may just become a new St. Patty's day tradition.
Feel free to wash these down with an ice cold Guiness as if anyone needs an excuse to have another Guiness!

Corned Beef and Cabbage Knish

4 1/2 c. mashed unseasoned potatoes (instant may be used)
1 c. matzo meal
1/2 c. flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp. soft butter
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Additional matzo meal, if needed

Combine mashed potatoes with matzo meal, flour, eggs, butter, salt and pepper. Mix well, dough will be soft.
For each patty, use 1/4 cup dough. Make 24 patties. Coat both sides with matzo meal. Place 12 of the patties on 2 greased baking sheets (6 on each) and flatten dough slightly to form thin patties.
Spread each with 1/3 cup filling (see recipe below), leaving a border of about 1/2 inch. Top with second patty and pinch edges to seal. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn patties over and bake 15 minutes longer. You may fry them in oil, turning once for 8-10 minutes. Makes 12 knishes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Filling:

3 cups of chopped or shredded corned beef
1 cup of finally chopped or shredded cabbage
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste, should need very little salt as the corned beef will be relatively salty.

Mix corned beef and cabbage with beaten egg and seasoning, makes about 5 cups of filling.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Mimi

Each and every day people touch our lives in ways that sometimes go unnoticed until long after they are gone. They imprint upon us a snapshot of emotion that projects a momentary image that presents itself as memory. These memories sneak up on us at different times and show themselves as a smile, a tear or just a reflective glance back to a special time and place.
Today I bask in the glow of someone dear who imprinted upon me a future rich with memories. Her body left this earth nine years ago but her spirit lingers in the smiles and tears of those she touched while here.
On this day I do not mourn the loss of one so dear, instead I celebrate the spirit that is alive and well and flourishes in every beating heart that loved her.
One of Mimi's absolute favorite things to munch were any kind of nut drenched in chocolate, especially almonds. So in honor of her birthday we are skipping the cake just as she would have and are heading straight for the chocolate covered almonds!
Happy Birthday Mimi!

Chocolate Almond Clusters

1 lb. almonds, toasted (use any nut you prefer, cashews are wonderful)!
1 lb. good milk or dark chocolate

Melt chocolate in double boiler, add almonds and drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let set until hard.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Canadian French Fries Hold The Ketchup!

My parents and I spent anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks a year in Canada for the first 15 years of my life. We formed many friendships while there and got to experience a wide range of food from many different provinces. While visiting areas of Quebec we noticed that everywhere we went they served an item called; "Poutine", it is a very popular snack food there. Poutine is actually a plate of French fries but don't go reaching for the ketchup, these fries are served with cheese curds and hot gravy. May not sound good, it doesn't actually look good but boy it sure tastes good and that's what matters most. The only downfall that I have found making them in the states is the cheese curds I have to use. In Canada they are known for their fresh cheese curd, which are very buttery and salty. Here I rely on the packaged brands in the dairy case which are fine just a bit bland in comparison. The curd actually adds that saltiness we like with our fries, I haven't tried this yet but I was thinking that feta cheese might also work well with this given that it too is quite salty.


1 portion of crinkle-cut French fries (any brand)
1 cup heated chicken or beef gravy
1 small bag of curd cheese

Bake or deep fry French fries as indicated on the package.
Spread out evenly on a plate and add curd cheese (as much as desired). Once gravy is steaming hot, pour over cheese and French fries.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Let's Do The Twist

There is something so comforting about the smell of warm yeasty dough proofing in the kitchen. I remember when kneading dough was our daily way of muscle building. You did not need free weights back then, just a good deal of elbow grease and the pleasure derived from making something from scratch to serve to family and friends. This is a recipe the kids will have fun rolling up their sleeves for; let them twist their pretzels into whatever shapes that they like. They will still taste wonderful no matter what the shape and there will be plenty of smiles to go around for such a special time shared.

Soft Pretzels

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/4 c. warm water
2 tsp. salt
4-5 c. unsifted white flour
Approx. 1 tbsp. soft butter
4 tsp. baking soda
kosher salt

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. When foamy add rest of water. Mix 4 cups flour and salt in large bowl. Add dissolved yeast. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Knead 10 minutes or until dough feels elastic. Knead dough into a ball, place in a bowl and spread with butter. Cover with a dish towel. Let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Pinch off small ball of dough and roll between your hands to form a coil 20 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter.
Form into a pretzel, wetting ends and pinching them together firmly. Form rest of dough the same way. Put baking soda in 4 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Drop one pretzel at a time into boiling water and let boil 1 minute or until it floats. Remove and drain. Place drained pretzels on greased cookie sheet. Spread with coarse salt. Bake at 475 degrees for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.