Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Easy, lower fat, delicious Brownies

One box of family-sized brownie mix 1 or 2 eggs 1 cup of nonfat or low fat, plain Greek Yogurt Mix all together in a bowl, spread in 9x9 or 9x13 pan that has been sprayed on the bottom. Adding a bit more yogurt makes the brownies creamier. The eggs may be omitted, but I prefer the brownies with at least one egg or one whole egg and one egg white.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Farfel, Farfalle, Egg Barley, Egg Drop Barley

For about six months now I have been trying to find traditional farfel, egg barley, the kind that is toasted or one toasts slightly in a sautee pan before adding onion, mushrooms, some liquid, and baking it in the oven.

This was much harder than I imagined. The product I was looking for is called EGG DROP BARLEY, not just EGG BARLEY. I went to every grocery store I could think of and found it close to home (in Highland Heights, Ohio) in the Kosher food section.

I purchased every farfel type product. They are all made with duram flour and egg. The only exception is what is called bow-tie pasta, used in Kasha with bow-ties, for example. The dried Italian Farfalla, bow-tie pasta, includes no eggs, just duram flour and water. I have been to several events where the word "farfel" caused much confusion, some expecting what I call "traditonal farfel" and others expecting and Italian pasta.

I wanted to try every product marked Egg Barley (there is no barley in the product, the "barley" describes the look of the product.) The product I wanted reminds me of the German Spaeztle, which is a 15 minute pasta so easy to make it is not worth buying the dried Spaeztle in a grocery store.

Tonight I made a side dish of Egg Barley, not the product I wanted, but I had to try it. I added peas, onion, herbs, as the pasta product is tasty but plain. The photo shows left over egg barley made as directed on the package (boiled in 4 cups water). Some bits of salmon are in the photo of leftovers, as I served the egg barley as a side dish with Alaskan, freshly caught salmon as we do not eat beef, and very little poultry.

The Egg Barley from Gelfen, tastes delicious, but it is not the traditional farfel that I remember, often eaten with beef. It looks machine made, while what I term the "traditional" looks more hand made, irregular in shape, and has the word, "Drop" in it. Such as how one "drops" Spaetzle dough into boiling water using a knife to move tiny amounts of dough from the cutting board to the boiling water. My best friend in Cincinnati, Marion, taught me the traditional way to make "spaetzle' which I later saw my aunt in Germany prepare for us. My mother would use a spaetzle maker (looks like a ricer through which she dropped the dough into the boiling water, I never saw my Mom make spaetzle the traditional way.) Spaetzle taste best made the traditional way (sorry, Mommy, I know how busy you were working and cooking for us all.)

You may have guessed my German, Jewish background by now. I grew up with "Spaetzle" as a beloved staple, farfel was a special treat!

I hope these products do not confuse the reader. My advice is, do not send anyone to the grocery store to buy traditional Egg Drop Farfel, as they will most probably come home with the Italian Farfalle, Egg Barley (the tiny machine-made pasta), Bow-tie pasta, or as one friend recently mentioned ---- "Kasha," which is another product made from buckwheat and often made to include the bow-tie pasta.

The farfel I love is made from a traditional Ashkenazi noodle dough. My sisters and I recently discovered we are much more Ashkenazi than we possibly imagined and could this be why we have been craving Egg Drop Barley? Now, where can I find my cousin's incredibly delicious "wild rice stuffing recipe?"

Monday, July 9, 2018

Easy Turkey Spinach Burgers

If you are not positive that your pan is completely nonstick, spray it with some Pam cooking spray.

I read a recipe about adding frozen spinach to ground white turkey meat to make turkey spinach burgers. The recipe sounded like a good way to use up extra fresh spinach before it has to be thrown out or another way to use chopped frozen spinach. Here is the recipe:

1 pound of ground white turkey breast (ground without the skin)
1 pkg frozen spinach thawed and squeezed to remove the juice or fresh spinach which has been lightly sauteed in water and chopped. In both cases, remove as much liquid from the spinach as possible.
6-9 leaves of fresh basil or your favorite fresh herb cut up (in winter I use my fresh frozen basil or sage)
2 Tablespoons of panko bread crumbs if the mixture seems too thin.
Black pepper (optional)

Mix ground turkey with the chopped cooled sauteed spinach or thawed frozen spinach, basil, pepper and panko bread crumbs.

Notice, mixture may be thinner than for a regular turkey burger.

Use the mixture to make the burgers, I made them thick as wanted them to fit into the pan. I made 6 thick burgers and will reheat leftovers for tomorrow night's dinner when I plan to serve them with microwaved fresh sweet potatoes.

Cook high at first (#9) on my electric cook top and lower the heat (#5) and cover the pan. After about 15 minutes check the underside of a burger, if it is crusty, turn all the burgers to the other side. If you turn them too early, they will stick to the pan rather than have the crust stick to the burger. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes if the burgers are thick (#4). Cut into a thick burger to be certain it is completely cooked.

My husband loves anything roasted or cooked to the max. Just seeing this crust enticed him to want to try one!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Easy Strawberry Salad Dressing

I found a recipe on the internet for an easy strawberry salad dressing and will take photos as soon as I serve it.
The photograph below is double the recipe.

The dressing tastes delicious. It has more oil in it than I would normally use and I will eventually find a nondairy substitute for some of the oil, but for now, I will use it sparingly.

Here are the ingredients

4 large fresh strawberries cut up
2 T white vinegar
2 T honey
1/3 cup canola or other mild tasting oil

Mix the above in a blender until it is a smooth pink. I immediately doubled the recipe once I tasted it.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies

My sister's favorite cookie is a Linzer cookie. The cookie is composed of two large round, butter-flavored cookies with raspberry jam in the center. A round hole is cut in the top cookie so one can see the beautiful red layer. The entire double cookie often has a fluted edge. The cookie is sometimes dipped in chocolate and/or powdered sugar. As Linzer cookie purists, we prefer the Linzer cookie without a topping. In addition, like the Linzer torte, ground hazelnuts are preferred in the dough, but almonds are good too. Omitting the ground nuts entirely is possible if one is allergic to nuts, but the ground nuts add aroma and flavor to the dough.

As mentioned in the Introduction of this volume, the Linzer torte (or Linzertorte) is a German-Austrian torte with a lattice design on top of the pastry, named after the city of Linz, Austria. It is believed to be the oldest cake in the world. I can vouch for anyone that had my Mom's Linzer torte, which won the grand prize in any bake sale.

The Linzer cookie is reminiscent of the torte. If the cookie dough does not have some kind of ground nuts, our family does not consider it authentic!

The dough for Linzer Torte includes flour, unsalted butter, egg yolks, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon juice, and ground nuts, usually hazelnuts. They are ground with the skins on for this holiday classic dessert. The filling is traditionally raspberry jam, but red currant jam is popular in Europe as are other flavors. The torte is covered with small leaves cut from dough to form a lattice design or a more simple version is covered with thin strips of dough also formed into a lattice design. The lattice allows one to see the beautiful layer of red jam. When made with red currant jam, the torte has a bit more of a sour taste as it is very, very sweet when made with raspberry jam.

In the days before food processors, I remember my Mom grinding the hazelnuts and when visiting Germany, although the tortes are not as good as homemade, the German bakeries made them with ground almonds. I personally prefer the torte made with hazelnuts, but it is wonderful with any ground nut.

Although not traditional, I have seen the Linzer cookie frosted with chocolate. A dust of powder sugar is more traditional, but not necessary for this very sweet treat.

The recipe is based on butter and is one recipe that I have never modified and also rarely make, as I am better off buying two cookies than making a tray of them and eating them all. Here is a recipe, but note that the traditional recipe ingredients are weighed and in grams and this recipe uses cups, which is not as accurate as weighing the ingredients to get a consistent product.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole almonds -- most cookbooks say to blanch the almonds but I do not
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons raspberry or red currant preserves
2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

Grind the almonds with about 1/2 cups flour until fine, add the ground mixture to the remaining flour which has been sifted with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy and add egg yolks. Add the flour mixture gradually to form a soft dough to roll out after chilling for about an hour. Roll out the dough and cut the tops and bottoms of the cookies and bake them at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes, leaving some room for spreading. After baking and cooling, spread the cookie bottoms with raspberry preserves and cover with the window-like cookie tops.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Crusty, French Bread

Here is some background information before I jump into the recipe and directions.

My husband asked me to bake some crusty French bread. I had not made French bread in over 40 years and remember watching Julie Child on television in the late 1960's. I would rush home from college to turn on her TV show. Today I use her videos on YouTube to refresh my memory.

I checked several recipes and decided to combine some things to try to recreate the bread my husband remembers. I keep a jar of yeast in the refrigerator and keep several types of flours on hand. I decided to follow Julie Child's advice and use unbleached flour as she states the unbleached flour creates a crisp crust.

Julie Child also mentions that the addition of salt (besides controlling the yeast's growth) gives color to the inside of the bread. I rarely use salt in any of my recipes, but decided to use half the salt recommended. I used a bit of sugar to feed and "proof" the yeast and used water instead of milk in the bread dough.

A bit of corn flour/cornmeal is used to keep the sticky bread dough from sticking to the pan. To make doubly sure I would not have a sticky problem, I set the dough to raise on my silicon baking sheet.

To insure I would get a crisp, crackly crust, I used an enamel pan on the lowest shelf in my upper oven and added boiling water to it just before placing the bread dough in the oven. The key to the crust is the brushing of the bread dough with a bit of salt water. Since I could not find my pastry brush, I wet a folded paper towel with the salt water and used it as a brush to quickly cover the loaves with the slightly salted water while baking! This bread requires the yeast to be proofed to make sure it is alive and the dough is left to rise 3 times, most recipes I use require that the dough rise only twice.

My ingredients for 3 loaves of French bread include:

1/4 cup lukewarm water (I use cold tap water and microwave it to lukewarm - take care as hot water will kill the yeast)
2 tsp of dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
5 cups unbleached flour plus about 1/2-1 cup extra for kneading
1/2 cup fine corn meal

For brushing the bread I used 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water (I would lower this to 1/4 tsp next time).

Directions to be continued.