Between Hanukkah, Thanksgiving travel, party planning, and a bunch of work and school obligations, it took me a whole week to make good on my birthday cake IOU. I figured that since my husband had to wait so long to blow out his birthday candles, they'd best be sitting atop one very special cake.
Our mutual love of Japanese food inspired this Green Tea Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. Made with matcha green tea powder, the cake boasts herbaceous notes that pair beautifully with the white chocolate frosting. It was very much worth the wait.
It's my husband's birthday, but we're out of town for Thanksgiving, and I haven't baked him a cake yet. So, in honor of his birthday, here are my Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes. They happen to have pareve mocha buttercream, which makes them perfect for a meat lover's birthday dinner. I promise to make some real ones, but for the record these virtual cupcakes are my official IOU.
I love the idea of sweet potato latkes, but they can be a little tricky to make, because the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes make them prone to burning. For years I've used a recipe that had great flavor thanks to the addition of curry powder, but that tended to make a smoky mess in the kitchen. This year I got wise, and eliminated the added sugar, changed the oil to one with a higher smoke point, and added coconut milk for a subtle flavor enhancement. The result was these Curried Sweet Potato Latkes. I think I've found my new go-to recipe.
When I was in college, I watched lots of very smart science major friends trudge off the library, miserable about the prospect of studying for the Organic Chemistry class they were convinced they'd fail. As soon as they were out of earshot, I'd invariably tell the nearest person how glad I was that I'd never have to take Orgo (or another math class for that matter) ever again.
Then I decided to become a dietitian, and ate those words. Not only did I have to take Organic Chemistry, I had to do math, and lots of it. And I had to start using the metric system in earnest, which isn't something most people in the States -- where we cling to the imperial system -- tend to do.
Despite that, it took an e-mail request from a reader to remind me that many of you are probably seeking recipes with metric measures. So I've ordered a special kitchen scale to help ensure accuracy, and I'll do my best to include metric measurements and temperatures alongside the US measurements in future recipes. (Over time, I'll update existing recipes, too). In the meantime, here's a quick Chicken Avocado Wrap that includes measures in both systems. It happens to be a great recipe for using up leftover Thanksgiving turkey, in which case the pounds vs. kilos and Fahrenheit vs. Celsius questions are moot, since you won't have to cook to make it.
It's the first night of Hanukkah, and I should have made latkes. I didn't, because our plans for the evening involved a big to-do at shul that was supposed to include a latke bar, sufganiot, and a Chanukah fireworks display. Apparently the lure of fireworks on a frigid evening was a big enough draw that the latkes and sufganiot had been devoured long before we got there.
The fireworks were fun. We went home, lit our menorah, sang, and exchanged gifts. But as I was getting my daughter ready for bed, she asked when we were having our Hanukkah dinner. Apparently, our actual dinner didn't count, because there were no latkes, and no sufganiot. To make up for it, I let her stay up a little late so we could play dreidel over a bowl of cereal. But I owe her big time. So there will be plenty of latkes and homemade applesauce this week. And next time, we'll play dreidel with chocolate gelt instead of Joe's Os.
P.S. If you subscribe to the Kosher Food newsletter and didn't receive it today, please accept my sincerest apologies. It looks like there may have been a transmission glitch. I'm investigating and will keep you posted, and yes, I owe you recipes big time, too. In the meantime, Chag Sameach -- have a wonderful, joyous Hanukkah!
Buckwheat, at least in the States, is a pretty underappreciated grain. (Okay, botanically speaking it's not really a grain, but that's beside the point -- it cooks like a grain, it's gluten free, and it deserves more recipe play than the occasional pancake or kasha dish.)
It's a different story in Japan, where buckwheat flour is used to make the delicious, toothsome noodles known as soba. Kosher-certified soba noodles are available from Eden Foods and Hakubaku, and they're the basis for this Soba Salad with Salmon and Avocado. Truth be told, you could skip the salmon altogether -- the salad is fantastic on its own.
Image © Miri Rotkovitz
For those who haven't heard, Plum Organics has issued a recall of many baby food pouches from its Baby Stage 2, Tots Mish Mash and Kids lines. Several O-U Kosher certified flavors are impacted by the recall, which was spurred by "a manufacturing defect" that could result in spoilage. Per Plum Organics, the recalled products should NOT be fed to children.
Products currently affected by the recall have "Best By" dates ranging from 08/05/14 to 12/08/14, and are marked with the letters "AT" (the letters indicate the production facility). You can learn more, and find out which products are recalled, in Plum Organics' recall notice.
Last week, the FDA announced its "preliminary determination" that partially hydrogenated oils should no longer be "generally recognized as safe" (aka GRAS). This is a very big statement, even if the FDA's language sounds open-ended. (The science supports the move, but the FDA's requisite 60-day comment period precludes the agency from presenting a trans fat ban as a done deal just yet.)
If the ban happens, stick margarine -- the salvation or bane of pareve cooking, depending on your perspective -- will go the way of the dinosaur, unless manufacturers decide to invest in developing trans-fat free products.
As a dietician, I'd rather see people use carefully produced natural oils in place of artificial trans fats, or whatever chemical replacements the food industry comes up with next. It's not that tropical oils, for instance, should be used with abandon -- they shouldn't. But a naturally saturated oil, like coconut or palm, is a safer option for occasional use than artificial trans fat.
I used Spectrum Organic Palm Oil shortening in these Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies to render them pareve. That doesn't turn them into health food by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm a lot more comfortable eating them than I would be if they were full of margarine.
A couple of months ago, I read a press release about this year's totally quirky convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. Some clever souls had dubbed the day Thanksgivukkah, launched a blog and a Facebook page, and started stumping for the hybrid holiday, turning it into a mini pop-culture phenomenon.
Like just about every other kosher blogger in America, I couldn't help but start musing about the culinary possibilities. Buzzfeed beat me to the punch with its Thanksgivukkah menu, but I had an ace up my sleeve. I was going to make the coolest, goofiest Thanksgivukkah dessert EVER. The problem was I needed gelt, and I could not find it. ANYWHERE.
I spent a frantic couple of months worrying over whether someone else would get the same gelt-turkey-tail-fan idea I'd had. I checked Pinterest and Google Images and Buzzfeed with a silly obsessiveness to make sure there were no edible Hanukkah turkeys roaming the internet. My mom finally tracked down some pareve gelt a week ago. So, with special thanks to my Ema, I offer you Thanksgivukkah Turkey Cupcakes. Gobble Tov, and Shabbat Shalom.
"Ooooh, Ema, can we get this and eat it for dinner?" asked my daughter, entranced by a display of sugar pumpkins. Now, I'm not one to deny a kid who is begging for produce, so we chose a vibrant orange pumpkin and gave it a place of honor in the shopping cart's kid seat.
"Hmmm...what do you think of pumpkin risotto with spinach?" I asked.
"Yummy," she declared.
Then Daddy caught up with us. "Ooooh, a pumpkin...pumpkin pie-ie-ieee for dessert," he sing-songed, doing a little happy dance in the aisle. And that was that.
I figured if I was going to make a pumpkin pie, I might as well work on a pareve version, since it's a Thanksgiving menu standby. For simplicity's sake, I started mulling over an oil-based crust. And since Chanukah and Thanksgiving coincide this year, extra virgin olive oil seemed a neat way to integrate the quintessential Chanukah ingredient without a foray into fry-and-serve-immediately territory. There's enough else to do on Thanksgiving, and we've got 7 other nights for that, thank you very much.
So, I offer you this Sugar Pumpkin Pie with Olive Oil Crust. The crust is so easy -- no chilling or rolling required. The filling is fresher, lighter, more pumpkiny than the typical canned pumpkin pie. I like it out of the oven, and the next day, too, when the spice flavors have had a chance to develop. As my daughter would say, "Yummy."
Image © Miri Rotkovitz