Friday, May 1, 2015

Homemade “No Corn Syrup!” Kosher Marshmallows (without all the patchke)

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I’ve always loved the way Shoshana at Couldn’t be Parve turns out gorgeous gourmet marshmallows in flavours like Blood Orange, Rose and Raspberry Lemonade.  She makes it look easy, and the truth is, I’ve followed her recipes and they’re not difficult.

But as with most marshmallow recipes, they involve hauling out a thermometer (and I don’t have a real candy thermometer, just a digital one that I dunk into things as needed). 

Most marshmallow recipes also call for corn syrup, though Shoshana does offer a liquid invert sugar “marshmallow syrup” recipe that I’ve used several times.  It works, but it involves extra steps that add to the “patchke” of making marshmallows from scratch.

When we were invited to gluten-free friends for lunch, I saw it as a great opportunity to make marshmallows again.  But I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to monitoring the temperature or doing the invert-sugar step.  Out of curiosity, I started googling thermometer-free recipes, and found this one, which was also – as a bonus – corn-syrup free as well.

I missed photographing the early steps of prepping this, but it’s very straightforward.

Before you start, you will need:

  • REAL Gelatin, not unflavoured kosher jelly-style dessert pudding mix or any other thing that makes a jelly-type pudding.
  • A stand mixer.  Any marshmallow recipe needs about 10-15 minutes of mixing, but with a decent stand mixer, you can just start it up, set a timer, and walk away while it works.

I used the last package of our Kolatin gelatin from Canada.  It expired about a year ago, so I tested it first by mixing it with a little water, and it set up just fine.  If it hadn’t, there is gelatin available in stores here in Israel as well.

Here is the gelatin, mixed with water.

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(Don’t ask me, by the way, why gelatin is pareve.  It comes from animals… but apparently changes sufficiently that it is no longer considered an animal product?  If you can explain this, let me know in the comments!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Delicious, delightful, Kosher for Pesach soup lokshen (noodles)

Passover Pesach lokshen noodles soup lokshen pareve

Around here, it’s not truly Pesach cooking season until the soup lokshen are ready.  Each year, this is how I inaugurate my brand-new, shiny-clean Pesach kitchen.

(What?  Yes, I’m still going on about Pesach… when do you want me to blog about Pesach, DURING Pesach?  Before Pesach??  Oy.  This was the first chance I’ve had to breathe, and post this, in nearly a month.)

This year, I mentioned to a friend that I was getting ready to make the lokshen, and she said, “what?”

It turns out that not everybody makes Pesach lokshen… go figure.

It’s exactly like making blintzes during the year, except you leave out the flour.  And because blintz leaves are mainly flour, you have to add a LOT more egg.  This bowl has maybe ten eggs in it.

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What’s the exact recipe?  You’ll have to forgive me, but I’ve never written it down.  Here are all the components:

  • 10 eggs (Large)
  • Several Tbsp of oil
  • About 1/4 cup of potato starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some water but not enough to make it too runny (probably about 1/4-1/2 cup?)

If you make enough blintzes during the year, you’ll probably be able to get the hang of making this batter – just add enough water to make it feel like regular blintz batter.  For whatever reason, I always end up mixing this with an old-fashioned egg beater, literally the only time of year that I do that.

I also have a special nonstick crepe pan, and it’s the only time of year that I voluntarily use a nonstick pan.  It just works so, so well for this exact purpose.  Way better than a regular frying pan or skillet would, because there’s no side to get caught on when you’re tipping the blintz off.

So here are the steps, a little wonky and out of order.  (On the back burner, by the way, is a pot of ready-for-the-Seder chicken soup bubbling away!)

1.  Mix your mixture (see above)

2.  With a ladle, pour a thin layer onto hot crepe pan, swirling pan until covered – immediately pour off excess back into bowl.

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3.  When the leaf is done, tip it upside-down onto a cutting board or plate to cool.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

5 Slurp-Worthy Kosher Ramen Hacks

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You might have guessed that I haven’t been a college student for some time now.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still addicted to one of the staples of college-student life.  I don’t feed it to my family, but when I’m looking to treat myself, one of my favourite indulgences is… ramen noodles.

You can find all sorts of articles online about how ramen is the perfect college food because it’s something like 20 cents a packet.  That’s not quite true if you’re cooking kosher.  Kosher ramen has always been a little more of a luxury; I don’t think we ever found it for less than $1.99 in Toronto. 

Here in Israel, it’s about 4nis (about $1), though it’s sometimes on sale for less (like 5 for 10nis).

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These aren’t recipes, more like suggestions.  The key is to not try to do too much at any one time.  Too many flavours will only clash with each other; choose two or three distinctive notes that will work well in harmony.  Here are some flavour notes that might inspire you as much as they have inspired me:

  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce (the good stuff)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Miso (I like white)
  • Mirin (Asian cooking wine)
  • frozen mixed Asian vegetables
  • frozen peas / carrots / corn
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Sriracha (asian chili sauce)
  • Eggs
  • Firm tofu (I like to fry it with a little soy sauce before adding to soup to help it keep it shape & texture)

Play around with it yourself and I’m sure you’ll find a combination that works beautifully for you.  Feel free to share your own favourite ramen hacks in the Comments!

1.  Asian ramen pancakes

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to turn humble onions into sweet, savory magic: caramelize them.

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Want a secret weapon in your cooking arsenal that you can pull out anytime to make anything taste better?

One that can make the difference between a dish that's good and a dish that's fabulous?  Between so-so and WOW?  A secret ingredient you can toss into almost anything, because it's totally pareve and versatile?

No, it’s not a dream.

Yes, this magic ingredient exists... and it's onions - the caramelized kind.

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Is it magic?  Or science?

Onions are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  When they're raw, they're hard, sharp, with a nasty sting that makes your eyes tear up.  But when caramelized, they're soft, mellow, sweet and... well, full of all that caramelly goodness.

The word "caramelization" refers to the browning that happens in the onion's sugars.  Sugar in an onion?  You betcha.  Even the most humble yellow onions have plenty of sugar, and the special sweeter varieties like Vidalia have even more.

Did you know that you can actually caramelize onions in the crock pot

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It’s Adar… so let’s get cooking! Kosher Cooking Carnival (KCC)

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Life really does get cooking at this time of year… kind of literally.  I’m usually pulling out of my winter hibernation just in time for yom tov cooking/baking, first in a fun Purim way and then in a dead-serious Pesach way.

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This carnival is about all things kosher and cooking.  If your blog is, too, or if you’ve blogged about kosher food on another blog, then you’re welcome to join us! 

So what’s doing in kosher food?

What we’re eating

First of all, with Pesach on the way, you should be inventorying your food and trying to use up what you’ve got.  If you haven’t already, there’s still time to start, as Batya does at her blog me-ander in Pre-Passover Inventory Time.  She says, “Sometimes I'm totally amazed at what has been stored away all year waiting for a special occasion.”

Latkes, wine, brisket, and a new glatt-kosher meal ingredient home-delivery kit?  (I wonder if they deliver to Israel?!?) It’s all packed into the review of This Week in Kosher Food Trends by Shannon Sarna of The Nosher. “I went home happy, full, a little buzzed and inspired from the innovative approaches to Jewish food.”

On her new macrobiotic cooking/eating/thinking blog, Jerusalem MacroLovers, Klara discusses how cooking is so much more than just having the right recipes in Is Cooking Magical??  She says, “My ideal kind of a cooking class is where first the teacher demonstrates, then the student goes home to practice, then comes back to class and does it again.”

What we’re drinking

When creating Christmas ales has become a tradition

Granola greetings: a perfect way to start the day (dairy)

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It’s sort of like alchemy, really… you take oats, which is essentially horse food, and you turn it into pure, hearty breakfast yumminess.

If you’re thinking of starting to make your own granola, this is one of those “old favourite” recipes you’ll want to keep handy.

This picture here of the ingredients highlights the truly “no-frills” alchemy of this recipe:  crafting a premium product out of all these yellow-label groceries.  (the brown sugar and a couple of other things that aren’t packed in yellow were left out of the photo)

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I’ve made this granola many, many times now.  I’m still searching for a source of milk powder (skim or otherwise) in Israel, because now I miss it… a lot.  Plus, storebought granola is pretty expensive here, while oats are relatively cheap.

I was surprised the first few times that I liked it so much; I’m not a huge granola fan.  Before I made this, I tried the Artisan Bread in Five Granola (the granola is meant to be used to make yummy Granola Bread!), but to be honest, I wasn’t that inspired by it.  This one DID inspire me.

What’s the difference?

In this recipe, it’s the milk powder that MAKES the granola.  It makes the granola sort of clump together the same way Quaker Harvest Crunch does – delicious clusters of pure homemade crunchy deliciousness.  If you don’t have powdered milk or don’t want to make a dairy granola – ie, for baking – then stick with the ABin5 recipe; it’s very good.  Otherwise, try this one – it’s GREAT!

I recommend that you not double the recipe.  The single one makes a decent quantity, and it doesn’t keep long.  Plus, my family gets sick of eating the same thing surprisingly quickly.  This is so fast to throw together that you can always whip up more if it vanishes.  (If you have a big family, I suppose you could double it, but keep in mind that you’ll need to spread it out flat to bake properly in the oven.)

This recipe is adapted from The Tightwad Gazette.

What you need:

The Wet Stuff:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey

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