Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What I learned today - well, really a while ago

Some people love to share their knowledge, often as soon as it is acquired. I, on the other hand, like to mull it over a bit, see if I can improve it, tweak it, consider whether it was really as valuable as I may have impulsively thought before. Or I could say that I just procrastinate in posting about it. Nope, the former sounded better!

Here are three food finds that have made my life better!

1. Sriracha chili sauce
Since it opened a long, long time ago, David and I loved Dougie's fire poppers and hot wings. Nothing like eating greasy protein while the roof of your mouth burns. But I despaired of being able to replicate the recipe - even the supposedly taste-alike recipe of the husband of an Ulpan friend never panned out, and web searches yielded nothing. Then Pesach came and went, and Rami Levy was out of Tabasco sauce. Problem, because we like Tabasco in several recipes that would not be the same without it. So I bought Sriracha chili sauce (Thai chili sauce in Hebrew), thinking it might be a substitute. Well, it's not. It contains sugar a a few other ingredients that Tabasco (chilis, vinegar, and salt) does not. But lo and behold, it tastes just like what I remember Dougie's sauce tasting like! First I used it to heat up leftover schnitzel, cut in pieces and sauteed. Then I used it to baste chicken wings. Mmmm! All of the flavor, without all of the pesky health code violations that made Dougie's Restaurants an endangered species. Now I just have to work on replicating the chili, and we are good to go...

2. Magic season salt
Over Pesach, Lori gave me a recipe for brisket, which included seasoned salt as an ingredient. She also kindly gave me a recipe for the seasoned salt. We liked the brisket, we loved the season salt. We now sprinkle it on chicken and saute it for a quick dinner, sprinkle it on Amnon fish (more or less Tilapia) with a little schwarma seasoning and olive oil and bake for an easy, spicy lunch, sprinkle on zucchini slices and roast, sprinkle it on stir-frying vegetables, sprinkle it on baked potato, we just sprinkle it a lot. In fact, it was a major component of last night's dinner. The original recipe is found here, but I made a couple of changes: I omitted the cornstarch (not sure why it is absolutely necessary, unless you are keeping it for a long time), and decreased the salt. I usually make a double recipe and cut the salt to half or 3/4's of the listed quantity (putting in between 2 and 3 tablespoons for a double batch). You may want to play with this yourself, but even with the full amount it was very good. And the name - the kids were so astonished by how tasty the chicken was and how simple its preparation was that they called it magic chicken.

3. Cool drink
If you put a fruity tea bag into a glass of diet 7-Up, it makes a really refreshing drink with a twist - "Fruit Galore," "Wild Berries," and "Cranberry" (all Wisotsky flavors) were really good.

And that's the accumulated wisdom of this season...

UPDATED: I have gotten rid of (what I hope is all) the appalling typos that made reading this post an adventure in decoding. My apologies. Sometimes I write with the simple intention of getting something posted, but I would never stand for that in a student, so how can I accept it from myself?


Small packages

I have been dying to jump on the mini-dessert bandwagon. Isn't everything cuter when it's little? A few weeks ago I attempted to make some mini tarts. The tarts succeeded, the photos not so much. This was the last few days of my former camera, which started to show the effects of being dropped days and days prior. It seemed to be okay, then just suddenly started to give up the ghost - ooh, mysterious. Lucky for me, I had a new one on the way. But in any case, these are the teeny weeny desserts we enjoyed, just please forgive the horrible quality of the pictures.
Mini apple crumble tarts - yummy apple filling, with a crumb topping. They were delicious, though I did discover that without the pans, they do not stand up well to gentle reheating. After all, shouldn't every apple pie be eaten warm, preferably with ice cream or whipped cream on top? I will have to remember the pans next time. They were floppy, but still so good.

Chocolate ganache mini tartlets, topped with coffee whipped cream and a sprinkling of sugared cocoa. Really good, and a great size - two bites of dessert, very little guilt.
Milky way tarts - what you can't see is the layer of caramel under the bitterweet chocolate ganache. Really more of a milky way midnight tartlet, which prompted David to say that they taste pareve. Which is really to say, "I prefer my chocolate very sweet - high cocoa solids content - phooey. Give me the less than 40% any day. " Not that he necessarily knows what all that is about. But that is the interpretation. If I, on the other hand, can fool myself into believing that a high percentage actually makes the chocolate a good thing for me to eat, I am totally good with that.
If you all can think of more flavors to make mini - tarts or tartlets, mousses, cakes, cupcakes, pavlovas, trifles - anything you think would rock in small size - please let me know. I have a few more in the pipeline, but I have to come up with free time to experiment!
Now back to this week's baking!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A very psychedelic birthday to you!

Ayelet is turning 14 this week - all week long! We prefer to celebrate both Hebrew and English birthdays and the span in between, so from Sunday to Friday (and really through Shabbat), we will be paying tribute to the fact that Ayelet is no longer 13 - maybe we will have better luck this year, i.e. less thirteen-ish behavior...

In honor of entering into the birthday zone, we had tie-dye cupcakes (inspiration courtesy of my friend Lisa, who could tell you all about it herself if only she would update her blog!!!! hint, hint, of the not-so-subtle variety!) They were tasty, if not delicious, but the visual certainly made quite the impression. They were lots of fun to make, and next time, maybe I will go bolder on the colors.

Here's a view of the inside - groovy, right?!

The most recent platter photo that I managed to come up with is this, taken with my new camera. I am trying to decide whether the "Food" setting is best, or if I should go with "Close-up" or "Auto."A very tasty selection of chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies, raspberry truffle brownies, sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, apricot squares, and molasses cream sandwiches. Yum, if I am allowed to say so myself!

I hope to get some more posts up this week, on a variety of subjects including baking experiments and fun food finds, but I can't make any promises.

With the best of intentions,


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Too much pressure to write a snappy title

My mom has commented to me how she marvels at my ability to come up with clever titles. While I beg to differ - they have rarely been all that witty - now I am completely blocked. I got nothing. Thanks, Mom!!! Just kidding - no offense intended. So here I go, continuing on with my second century of posts. No, not 100 years, just 100 posts. And you all are stuck with the lamest of headlines.

Because I can't help myself, I tried another new cookie last week - homemade Oreos. Do not let yourself confuse them with Whoopie Pies, which, despite the fact that our friend Josh B. calls them homemade Oreos, they are really more like Devil Dogs or Cakesters. These new cookies were crisp chocolate sugar cookies with a vanilla cream center. You can choose whether you prefer to take bites or open them up first and lick out the creamy middle. These were originally fashioned as drop cookies coated in sugar, but I think I will try them as a roll-out next time and see what ensues.

I did - barely - manage to take a picture of last week's variety, though already packed up, the plastic wrap a sign of my forgetfulness.

The selection included kicked-up chocolate chip cookies, glazed orange bars, vanilla cream filled chocolate sandwiches, lemon rosemary shortbread, caramel brownies, and whote chocolate cherry cookies. I did not manage to photograph the birthday cupcakes I made for Rafi and Burry, twin brothers celebrating their 15th birthday. They ordered vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, half red (Rafi's color) and half blue (Burry's choice). Happy Birthday guys!!

This week is quieter, with some mini-dessert experimenting taking place. If it successful, you will be the first to read all about it. If it fails, well, we never had this conversation, got it?!


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