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Mythbusting: Cooking chicken soup low and slow? (the truth revealed!)

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Are you making your chicken soup all wrong???

If you're like me, you've always believed chicken soup has to cook low and slow -- the lower and slower the better.  Who doesn't know that?

But after I shared here about my recent experience using the pressure cooker to create a dish that I might ordinarily have used the crockpot for, I went back and read the article by food wizard Kenji Lopez-Alt about why pressure cookers totally knock slow cookers out of the water.

And his main example is... chicken soup. 

Well, stock, but hey, you say potato, I say po-taaaaa-toe.  Because what is our trusty Shabbos soup if not stock with some veggies and kneidlach tossed in?

For about 20 years now, Wednesday has been Soup Day around here.  Bones go in, cooking low and slow.  In Toronto, we did the soup overnight on Wednesday and fridged it Thursday morning (or, in the winter, set it out on the porch to freeze!).  Here in Israel, we do it on Wednesday afternoon after our weekly Shufersal order arrives with the bones.  (IF our weekly Shufersal order arrives with the bones!)

Either way, by Friday morning, the soup is

Why pressure cookers rock (just like this SUPER EASY coconut chicken curry)!

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What kind of flavours are you craving this winter????
Winter is still here in Israel, and if you're like me, you may be desperate for warm, flavourful recipes that are a little out of the ordinary.  That's the case with tonight's super-easy pressure cooker chicken dinner.
This recipe is unusual for this site.  Why?
Well, first of all, I don't even remember if I've ever posted any meat recipes here.  Certainly, there aren't many.  But winter time is meat time as far as I'm concerned.
Second of all, because it calls for a pressure cooker, which is a big and cluttery piece of kitchen equipment, and in general, I prefer to go low-tech and skip the gadgetry.
But I like my pressure cooker enough to have brought it with us when we made aliyah and it's growing on me every single year. 
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to crowdsource my supper-making decision.  I had a bunch of chicken, I  had enough time, so I asked my foodies group on Facebook whether I should make it in the crock pot (slow cooker) or pressure cooker.
The answers were inconclusive, which was weird because I was sure people would have an opinion one way or another.  But one person very helpfully posted a link to an article by the awesome J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who's quickly becoming one of my foodie heroes, about why pressure cookers totally knock slow cookers out of the water.
(He's the same Food Lab guy who changed my life by telling me I don't have to precook pasta for lasagnas and casseroles! check it out here)
Yes, there is still a place in my heart for my trusty crock pot.  Nothing else can handle cholent quite as well, and if you’re going to be out for hours and want hot supper when you come home, the crock pot is fabulous.  But if you’re home anyway, and looking for a quick and delicious supper, basically the article explains that you can get richer flavour

Cold-weather dough raising hack: Try a lizard mat

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Chilly weather?  Dough refusing to rise??

I feel your pain.

It feels absolutely insane to be kvetching about the cold here in Israel, but the fact is, it DOES get cold here.  Not as cold as some places, but because of that, many homes don’t have central heating and you have to rely on patchy warming from air conditioners and inefficient space heaters.  Besides which, houses are built out of concrete, which not only holds onto cold, but it also feels damp—often because it is.

So the cold can be very intense here.  And that can make bread very, very grumpy.

Over the last few weeks as things chilled, I’ve noticed that breads are not so happy rising with the frigid air, especially when things dip down below 20 (Celsius). 

After a few attempts to steam dough (setting it in a covered bowl set into another bowl or basin filled with hottish water), which led to a scare at one point when the water turned out to be too hot, I was ready to try something else.  Anything else.

And then I remembered: the lizard mat.

What the heck is a lizard mat???

If you’re more into kitchen stuff than messing around with animals, maybe you haven’t heard.

I, on the other hand, used to own lizards, long ago.  Reptiles, being cold-blooded, need to be externally warmed, with lights overhead, plug-in “rocks” they can clamber up on to sun themselves on… and heat mats, flat waterproof(ish) plastic that you put under stones or another base material to warm it up JUST enough that it’s going to cozy up a lizard without hurting him.

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They also need a nice steady supply of food – in my lizards’ case, live crickets.  But that’s another story.

I bought my lizard mat on Aliexpress back at Pesach time – I chose the 7W size for a little over $3 – because I wanted to start making yogurt.  It worked great for

One-Pan, One-Ingredient Kosher Vegan Refried Beans

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I don't know what I did right, and I certainly don't want to ask too many questions for fear of jinxing it, but the truth is... shhh... my family LOVES beans.

And that has made refried beans (or, as the people who invented them call them, frijoles refritos) one of our go-to favourites for after-school eating, especially in chilly weather, that both warms them up and tides them over until suppertime.

The truth is that refritos are sometimes good enough to make converts even of devout non bean lovers.  Try it and see, even if other bean recipes haven’t gone over as well.  The long cooking time gives the beans a magical “powdery” texture that isn’t really beany at all (at least, in our opinion here!).

These refried beans are basically a one-ingredient, one-pan recipe.   I strongly recommend a

Easy No-Bake Pareve Key Lime Icebox Cake

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Is there anything better than the taste of lime in the summertime?  If you've read many of my posts here, you'll know I'm obsessed with lime flavoured anything, especially after a few years here in Israel with NO LIMES (waah!). Now that they're readily available and seasonal, I make sure to take advantage, gorging on amazing fresh Israeli limes before they're gone for the rest of the year.

(We do freeze some juice as cubes to use in sauces, salads, etc.)

I know what you're thinking, though.  It's NOT summertime.  By now, mid-October, we're well into fall.  But here where we live, temperatures are still in the 30s (celsius, I guess mid to high 80s F?) and we haven't really had our first good rain.  So it's still summer in my mind, though to be honest, I often forget what season it is.

In any case, the air conditioning is still running -- and that's what really counts.
And when it's hot outside, there seriously is nothing like lime.  And also, nothing like a quick, easy no-bake dessert.

Oogat Biskvitim, which literally means Biscuit Cake (in the British sense of cookie, rather than the American meaning of a savoury roll), is super-popular here, almost as much so as the ubiquitous Kadurei Shokolad, literally chocolate balls

In searching for recipes to tweak to get what I wanted, I found out that outside of Israel, it's most commonly known as

Sunny Side Up Rice: Weekday Asian skillet fried rice for one (pareve)

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Need a little something to bring an ordinary weekday over to the sunny side?

Here’s a way to elevate rice from a humble side dish to a glorious main course for one person, perfect for weekday lunch or light supper?  I don't usually talk about cooking for one, for the obvious reason that I live with several other people.  But when the kids are off at school all day, sometimes I want to invest a few minutes into making something truly delicious that’s just for me.

There aren't many foods as simple and comforting as rice, and though this fried rice dish has a number of steps, it's simple enough to prepare in the background while I’m working, and the end result is flavourful and incredibly comforting.  There are two possible variations -- "Indian" and "Chinese" (I'm using quotation marks because I don't want to pretend that these are authentic flavours...) that are equally simple to prepare.

This is why I love working from home – I can’t stand

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