Friday, May 22, 2015

We be (Gulab) Jamun… an out-of-the-ordinary dairy dessert for Shavuos / Shavuot

homemade kosher gulab jamun (Indian sweet dessert) for Shavuot

When I first found out that Judaism had a holiday specifically for celebrating dairy foods, my first thought wasn't cheesecake.  My first thought was... gulab jamun.

What the heck are gulab jamun???

If you love Indian food as much as I do, you probably already know.

I grew up eating a lot of Indian food, and once I started keeping kosher, I missed it most of all.  More than Chinese, Thai, or KFC put together. (Maybe not more than real dim sum!)

When I was a toddler, my father flew to India with an Indian friend and had the time of his life.  He came back with a pair of lovely white linen "day pyjamas" that he'd save for special occasions, a love of delicate nose piercings and an insatiable appetite for Indian food.

(For some weird reason, my father hated ear piercings for girls but told me as I grew up that it would be just fine if I got my nose pierced.  And indeed, he didn't flinch when I eventually got one.)

Ah, but Indian food.  Fortunately, that was one appetite which he shared generously with us (except his love of okra).

Since moving to Israel, I've been on a quest for good Indian food here, which has not really gone well.  There was a place in Jerusalem for a while, but apparently it is no longer under hashgacha.  The food wasn't THAT great anyway, at least, not compared to the Coxwell & Gerard corridor I used to haunt in Toronto before I started keeping kosher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Keep it cool all summer long with freezer pop molds under $10

Keep it cool all summer long with freezer pop molds under $10

Do you have a problem with ice cubes?

Come on, hands up.  I know I do. 

Working in one of the World’s Tiniest Kitchens, I appreciate any solution that saves space, time, money, and hassle.  And living in Israel, I need – desperately! – to stay cool all summer long. 

Oh, yeah, and if I can spend less than ten bucks, all the better.

Last summer, I bought these silicone freezer pop molds for my husband.  Back in Toronto, he had a brand of storebought freezable juice pops that were 100% juice that he loved as a refreshing summertime treat.  Here, everything is made with a ton of sugar, so I thought he could use these to make his own.

Aren’t they pretty?

A bouquet of gorgeous silicone freezer pop molds

(If you click the pics, you’ll be taken to the best-rated freezer pop molds I could find on Amazon – I bought mine locally.)

Weirdly, and to my great sadness, my husband didn’t take to them.  So they’ve mostly sat empty and unused for the last year.  But when the weather here started heating up last month, I had a flash of realization:  ICE!

Ice, in cube form, is a problem for us for a few reasons:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meatless Eggy Muffins – quick cure for “hangry” (hungry + angry) mornings

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How hangry do you and your kids get in the morning?  (Or afternoon, depending on how late you've slept in and/or procrastinated.)

Around here, the answer is... VERY.

These quick, easy, eggy muffins are exactly what you need:  the cure for Hangry.  Shh… don’t tell anybody: they’re basically little mini-quiches, just without a crust.

These are sometimes called "scrambled egg muffins."  But on most sites, you'll find them chock-full of some type of meat that just won't work in a kosher kitchen.  Pork, ham and bacon are all super-popular at breakfast time, apparently.

Even if you could use some kosher kind of meat, you'd miss out on all the cheesy goodness of these delighful, bite-sized breakfast treats.  So why bother?  Just toss in lots of veggies and you'll never miss the bacon, I promise.

egg muffins, good enough to eat!

Make your life super-easy and prepare these in reusable silicone muffin cups. 

I didn’t used to like the idea of these, but after a few times of using them for candy and other baked things, I’m sold.  Plus, they’re colourful, cute, and keep your hands from getting greasy.  (They’re sometimes a little tricky to wash after baking things with flour, like muffins, because of all the creases.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chocolate balls: super-easy Israeli kids’ dessert

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My fellow Israelis are ridiculously huge fans of desserts involving what are basically soggy cookies. 

This may have something to do with the fact that the horrendously misnamed “petit beurre” cookies are absolutely everywhere. These cookies are analagous to the Social Tea biscuits we used to buy back in Canada.  They’re misnamed (in Hebrew, “פתיבר” – all one word) because, being pareve, they don’t contain a single drop of butter.  I’m sure they’d be a great base for desserts of all kinds, but actually, the pareve ones aren’t a bad substitute.

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Perhaps the best-known and most-loved of these treats is Kadurei Shokolad (כדורי שוקולד), literally Chocolate Balls.  When I told my kids we were having them, they literally jumped and shouted “yay!”  GZ (age 7) was not too thrilled when I told him he’d be making them himself, but he got into it quickly.

These are super-easy to make, and tons of fun to do with kids. 

I recommend having a variety of sprinkly things on hand to roll them in.  We didn’t; in fact, our sprinkles ran out halfway through, so we ended up coating 3/4 of them in plain cocoa.  Which is fine.  Icing sugar would work fine as well.  So would Demerara sugar.

(I don’t usually like coating things in icing sugar or cocoa because then it falls off on your shirt when you eat it.  In this case, after I stored the balls in an airtight container, the cocoa became moist enough that it wasn’t a problem.)

You could use

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.

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