Sunday, October 21, 2012

Orange Soup - Kosher Connection Recipe Linkup

Ahh, root vegetables.  This month's theme brings to mind autumn.  Caramelized roasted vegetables, hearty stews, warming soups.  It all sounds wonderful, like fall foliage, roaring fires, warm slippers, and fleece blankets.

Well, it would, if only we actually had a fall season here.  It's still very much summer outside, with today's forecast hitting around 90.  The A/C is on, flip-flops are the footwear of preference, and it's too warm to think about running the oven or standing over the stove for a long time.

And yet, my family is still a bunch of soup lovers.  We have chicken soup each and every Friday night of the year.  One daughter even enters the house on a regular basis with the delightful greeting, "Did you make soup?  Oh, no?  (insert sad and pensive face here)... Maybe I'll make some myself (put upon look)."  Oh, my poor sweetie, I was too busy eating bon-bons and polishing my toenails, while the elves were busy taking care of the housework and running my business.  But I digress...

So tonight we are having soup, and so can you, whether it's autumnal or or not (yet).  "Orange soup" is an Israeli classic, a pureed soup made of a variety of orange vegetables.  It can be sweet or savory, depending on the other components, from the added vegetables to the seasonings.  This version, which in its original form came from my friend Shoshana, is an easy and delicious addition to your table any time.  It stars carrots and sweet potatoes, along with pumpkin, zucchini, onions, and garlic.  It tastes great and it's not so heavy that you feel overheated just from eating it.  There is no sauteeing, no hard work aside from peeling and cutting.  And it cooks rather quickly (easy enough for a teenager to put together after school!).  Shoshana makes this in a meaty version, browning some stew meat before adding the other ingredients, and then removing the meat and some of the carrot slices before pureeing.  Because we love to have soup on hand all the time, I turned this into a pareve version, adding a bit of cumin for a smoky, beefy background flavor.  If you have beef flavored soup powder, it is a tasty enhancement, but we just don't find it too often on the grocery shelves in our part of the world.  For a special accent, you can add knaidlach, which makes this extra-enticing for my youngest child, who believes all things are better with matzah balls. Garlic croutons are great with this as well.  Feel free to play with the quantities and proportions of vegetables to suit your taste and your refrigerator!

Orange Soup

2 onions
1 head garlic (If you are fresh garlic-phobic, you can add in a few frozen cubes instead)
4 carrots
2 zucchini
2 sweet potatoes
small chunk pumpkin (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon beef soup powder (optional)
several shakes cumin

Peel and chop onions, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.  Peel cloves of garlic.  Place all ingredients into stockpot, and add water to cover.
That's it, all the hard work is done!
Bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are very tender.  Puree with an immersion blender. 

To add knaidlach:
NOTE - these are not the matzah balls we add to the Friday night chicken soup.  Those are delicate things of beauty, with a carefully combined batter that gets a rest in the refrigerator to let the matzah meal absorb the other ingredients.  It is then gently rolled into balls and dropped into a pot of boiling water flavored with salt and chicken boullion, and cooked until perfectly round, light, and fluffy.  These are not them.  These are rustic knaidlach, a little chewier and heartier, quickly mixed and dropped into the simmering soup by teeny tiny spoonful.
Mix together
1 egg
1/4 cup matzah meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Drop into simmering soup by teaspoonful, and cook about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!
Now that you can make your soup and eat it too, check out the other Root Vegetable recipes on the Kosher Connection this month.  And leave a comment to tell us what you thought!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Got a little ahead of myself

Is anyone else out there STILL having trouble figuring out what day it is?  Since the end of Sukkot, every day has held a bit of confusion.  So when I suddenly realized it was time for the October Kosher Connection Recipe Link-up, I figured I had better get to work.  I bought the ingredients, made the recipe, took pictures, and started the post. With the deadline looming, I neglected to write another post for the blog, assuming the new recipe would be posting shortly.  Then I checked my email, only to realize I had remembered the date wrong - I still had six days to go!!  Nothing harder for me than to write when I am not under any pressure.  So I stopped cold.

Then I started thinking of the seven different ways I could approach this post.  The many millions of super-important, clever, and amusing things I wanted to say.  The other recipes I could be posting to fulfil the theme of the month.  I just got in my own way.  So now it's Sunday morning, recipes should be posting tomorrow, and I have to finish, and I have to acknowledge the fact that the blog has laid dormant for days and days.  So I am going to apologize, and let you know that I will giving you a little bonus to make up for my laziness: an extra recipe on the theme, just for the fun of it.  But that will not be making its appearance until at LEAST Tuesday, if I can make it to my flour-laden keyboard in between filling orders.  I hope this lame little post will hold you over, just a little.

Shavua tov!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Queen of Gluten Free

Before we made aliyah, celiac disease (or as we knew it to be called, celiac sprue), was barely known to us.  David's cousin has it, but she was literally our only encounter with the disease.  Then we moved, and while at first we only knew a small handful of people with celiac, the number of sufferers has increased dramatically over the last six years.  And not only do people with celiac have to avoid gluten, but we know other people who avoid gluten religiously for a variety of health reasons.

Gluten, for the uninitiated, is a protein found in wheat and related species, and it's what gives dough its elasticity. For people with celiac disease, gluten can cause many unpleasant, very serious, and long-reaching consequences.  While it was not as well known before, more celiac disease is being diagnosed, and the levels of gluten in flour has risen in the last decades, causing people increased sensitivity (or so I have been told). I myself was tested for celiac this year, thanks to a lifetime of stomach issues, and while the test was negative, the wait for results gave me a lot of food for thought, about what I would do with my business if the result was positive.

The thing is, gluten is in a lot of foods. Surprising and unexpected foods. So it can be hard to avoid. But the amazing thing to me was that most cake decorating ingredients are actually gluten free, so to make a beautiful cake that has no gluten, you just need to find a great cake recipe. That I did with a little help from a few friends with family members with celiac. Since I started working on these GF recipes, I am sort of feeling like that is the most popular thing I do.  Believe me, the smiles I get from producing a cake or cupcakes that actually taste good - even to wheat eaters! - makes me feel so good!  I love knowing that a person who might not otherwise have had a cake to enhance their celebration will now get to indulge just like the rest of us.  I can't share the recipes with you (so far just chocolate and vanilla cake) as it's my livelihood we are talking about here, but I can show you what we have created. It's all GF!!

60th birthday celebration

Engagement party

Multiple birthday celebration


Bat mitzvah dessert buffet

Bat mitzvah
17th birthday celebration
Sheva brachot

5th birthday celebration
But to make it up to you, I am going to give you a GF recipe - for the most delicious brownies ever.  So why am I sharing davka this recipe with you?  Because to be quite honest, the ingredients in this recipe are rather pricey (an entire pound of bittersweet chocolate, for starters), so I don't think selling them would ever be worthwhile.  I made them this summer for my GF sister and brother-in-law, and no one at the table missed the gluten.
Gluten Free Brownies 
adapted from Pragmatic Attic

6 tablespoons margarine (75 grams in Israel)
5 tablespoons canola oil
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I prefer Vered HaGalil for daily use, but check with your gluten-free person about what chocolates are okay for them - here, Carmit 60% seems to be considered the "cleanest", though many brands claim to have less than 20ppm, which is the gold standard) or semi-sweet, or a combination - whatever you favor
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons corn starch, called cornflour in Israel (or potato starch - kemach tapuchei adama)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
Line an 9x13 pan with foil then parchment paper extending over the ends for ease of removal after baking. Spray exposed foil with cooking spray.
Melt together the chocolate and margarine, either on the stove top over a very low heat, stirring frequently, or in the microwave on a half power setting. when the chocolate and margarine are melted, add in the oil, then the sugar, stirring well. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the salt.
In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, coffee powder andstarch to evenly combine. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and mix vigorously to evenly combine.
Mix vigorously until the batter is smooth and well combine.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula.Bake for about 35 minutes, checking beginning at about 25 minutes. Brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out nearly clean, with just a few moist crumbs.  Cool completely.  Use the parchment paper to aid in removal from pan, and cut into squares - these are very rich, so 32 brownies is a fair number.

Whether you avoid gluten or not, ENJOY!

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