Sunday, December 31, 2006

"jewish style" beef pot roast to end the year

i thought i'd end the year making a jewish style beef pot roast — true comfort food. having had this roast frozen and laying dormant for a little while now, i figured it was time.

so what makes this "jewish"? i guess it is the combination of sweet and sour ['essek'] that jews tend to have a preference for with several stewed meat dishes. this is a type of potted meat dish is actually centuries old. gedempte flaish, as it is called in yiddish (and probably german, too), is the general word for it but there are variations, many of them using ingredients such as apricots, sorrel leaves, or raisins and gingersnap type cookies [sauerbraten].

one should note that the cut of meat used for this dish is taken from the shoulder which is a tougher cut but fares well when slowly cooked in a sauce. any cut of meat which will stand up to long cooking can be used.

using kosher meats generally means that only the forequarters of the [kosher] animal are used; the other parts are usually sold to, or used in, the nonkosher market. these types of meats take well to slower cooking methods such as slow roasting atop the stove or in the oven.

this dish would also be considered as "haimische" food, or jewish homestyle comfort food. as the colder weather sets in during winter, i think my more carnivorous side awakens which stays dormant pretty much the rest of the year. i love this particular recipe.

so here it is, a good way to end the year — with a full stomach of a dish any jewish mother would be proud of!

jewish style pot roast


one 2 kg [~ 4 lb] beef shoulder roast

3 tbsp oil or chicken fat [shmaltz]
2 - 3 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 large carrot, sliced in 1/4" pieces
1 large stalk celery, diced

2 tsp salt
12 peppercorns
3/4 tsp paprika [i use 1/2 regular, 1/4 hot paprika]
2 - 4 tbsp brown sugar
2 -4 laurel [bay] leaves

1 1/2 c. tomato juice or stock [beef/chicken]


prepare the vegetables: slice the onions, mince the garlic, and dice the green pepper, carrot and celery. set this aside in a bowl or on a plate.

measure out the spices.

wash and dry the meat.

heat a heavy dutch oven style pot such as a le creuset without any oil over medium heat. when it is hot, add the meat and let the meat sear for a good 5 to 8 minutes.

turn the meat and sear it on all sides. this is to lock the juices in the piece of meat. you will notice that the muscle fibres will have shortened due to the searing and the piece of meat is now firmer and "fatter".

once this is done, take the pot off the heat and add the oil or shmaltz.

then add the onions and garlic.

add the rest of the vegetables.

add the spices.

cover the meat with the tomato sauce or stock.

put the pot back on medium heat and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium low. after the first half hour, it will look like this:

let this "roast" on the stove top for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. i leave the lid slightly ajar after the 1st half hour so the sauce will cook down and thicken. it if happens too quickly, lower the heat.

let this rest 20 minutes to 1/2 hr and then slice and serve with the sauce.


ha! looks like i'm not the only one with pot roast on my mind. look what i saw on yahoo food today. looks good.

can you believe one study says preferences for comfort foods differ between the genders and moreover that it comes from childhood? read about it here.

as not everyone knows how to carve their meat, which can be daunting and result in undesireable slices, here is some information: how to carve a beef roast [step by step], more carving tips here and here.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

new year's countdown

over the next 36 or some odd hours, people worldwide will be celebrating the coming of the new year, 2007. it has been quite the year, especially with the events of yesterday in iraq. what a memory for the end of a year. i only hope the next year is a more peaceful one.

i would like to take the opportunity to thank all the readers and contributors of my blog which i started this year. your visits and input are much appreciated and i look forward to each and every comment.

i would like to wish a year of —






for each and everyone of you

according to this site, new year's celebrations go back to the babylonians, more than 4000 years ago who,
began the idea of New Year's resolutions as a way to start the year off with a clean slate by returning borrowed items.

the holiday spot says that on new year's eve,
[t]he idea of making deafening noise is to drive away the evil spirits who flocked to the living at this climactic season with a great wailing of horns and shouts and beating of drums. This is why at the stroke of midnight we hear the deafening cacophony of sirens, car horns, boat whistles, party horns, church bells, drums, pots and pans - anything that serves the purpose of producing a devil chasing din.
it goes on to say,
[i]t is traditionally thought that the first day of the year is symptomatic of the approaching 364 days. Accordingly, people try to spend the first day of the new year in the best possible way in the company of family and friends. It was once believed to be a good omen if a tall dark-haired man visits your house on New Year's Day. Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring good luck. In many cultures, it is a predominant belief that anything in the shape of a ring brings luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. It is primarily for this reason that the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day brings good fortune. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Consuming cabbage is also considered a potential harbinger of good luck. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.
whatever you believe, let's hope it's a good year!

as an additional note, here is one site which explains the history of new year's day celebrations and traditions. it is an interesting read.

this is another one which shows the new year around the world with sayings in several languages.

i have to add that not everyone in the world will be celebrating as is done in north america. many cultures have different traditions, beliefs and practices.

what's your tradition?

Friday, December 29, 2006

WCB #82 surprise!

Weekend Cat Blogging — no. 82

for days now, actually close to 2 weeks, i have been trying to figure out where "my little guy" has been sleeping. once again, he decided the old roosting spot was boring and it was time for a new hideout.

about a month ago, i thought i was going crazy. i was hearing noises coming from somewhere but couldn't figure it out. at first i thought it was the cat. i've tried to tell myself it was. what if it wasn't? with winter setting in, i was afraid it was either squirrels, mice or bats [or something like that] which had come to nest on the space atop the roof or between the walls. as suddenly as the noises started, they stopped.

i spend a lot of time at my desk where my computer is located. typing away, i realized i needed a file from my desk. i also thought i heard the return of those noises. not really thinking about it or looking, i pulled the bottom file drawer open to grab the file but ended up grabbing the head of something furry! no, it wasn't a mouse, squirrel or bat. just my little friend who had decided to play "you can't find me anymore" in my desk. talk about heart attacks.

having no clue how he did it, i finally caught him red-pawed and in the act! he was climbing into back of the desk via the shelf next to the drawer and crawling through a small space.

i have to say we both jumped the first time it happened. he was still fast asleep as i grabbed his little fuzzy head. these days, my little filing clerk just lets out a loud "hello, you woke me up!" whenever i open the drawer.

i decided he needs to be filed under "c" for CUTE!

a happy new year to all his fellow wcb'ers

thanks to champaign taste for this weekend's WCB!

lemons, linguine & vodka

linguine in a light lemon vodka sauce

this is almost the same as a 'fettucine alfredo' but has vodka in the sauce and the sour edge of lemon juice and zest. it also uses half & half cream, which is lighter than coffee cream; it is a mixture of cream and whole milk. it can be bought in the supermarket or made yourself by mixing equal amounts of [coffee] cream and whole milk together.

the recipe calls for linguine but you can use fettucine or any pasta you want, really. my favourite for this dish is a spaghetti like one that is shaped like drinking straws. this pasta has a hole in the middle and is perfect for making sure you get that sauce both inside and out. it is called mezza zita in italian.

this dish is very, very good and much lighter calorically. it really is something to be tried and be enjoyed, guilt-free. this is a nice choice for new year's day eve. oh yeah, i forgot i promised this year to cut down on the fattening stuff .... (sigh).

buon appetito!

makes 2 healthy servings, 4 if you're on a dieting kick!


1/2 lb linguine

1/2 c. "half and half" cream (light cream)
1/4 c. vodka
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch of grated nutmeg (opt)

1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp pasta water

1/2 c. grated parmesan
1 tbsp chopped parsely

freshly ground black pepper


cook linguine [8 to 10 min] and reserve 2 tbsp of the water.

in a saucepan, heat cream, vodka, zest and nutmeg over low heat until warmed. season with salt and pepper

add lemon juice, pasta water and sauce to linguine in a large bowl.

add the parmesan and parsley. adjust the salt and pepper and serve with extra parmesan to garnish.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

it has what in it??

this is a candy that i make maybe once every year or two. it is terribly sweet and only good when eaten in small amounts. you can keep it well wrapped in the freezer to take out every now and again when you get the urge. the best part of all is that it is basically a no-cook recipe.

it contains potato, of all things, and is remniscent of a very old type of confection which is rolled with peanut butter in the center like a sort of pinwheel and then sliced. this is popular in some places here in quebec and is a type of old world candy. the version i am showing here however is a more modernized one and quite different.

i also make this at passover when we are limited to very few baking ingredients due to the many restrictions of the holiday. luckily, there is now a passover version of icing sugar available with contains potato starch instead of cornstarch [which we cannot use].

note that i doubled the recipe and used vanilla [the person i made it for doesn't like peppermint!] at the time i made and photographed this. the recipe below is for the regular smaller amount.

peppermint & lime coconut fudge


1/4 c cold mashed potato
1 1/2 c or more icing sugar
1/2 - 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1 - 1 1/2 c unsweetened dried coconut shreds
1 tbsp lime zest

1/2 of a 300g bag chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegetable oil

you will need a large loaf pan. pyrex is preferable.


boil small potato and mash it well while warm and let cool. do not use a food processor.

using a fine meshed strainer, push the potato through it. you do not want little chunks of potato.

put it in a medium bowl and add the peppermint extract and the lime zest.

now add 1/2 c of the icing sugar. it will turn liquidy. as you add more it will turn white.

add the rest (or enough) of the icing sugar until you get a very thick fondant like mixture.

add the coconut and stir well until it is well mixed.

you should get a ball. if it does not form a ball either add a bit more coconut or icing sugar. it should be hard to stir which is what you want.

press this into a large loaf pan to get an even layer. and put this in the refrigerator.

in the microwave on medium low to medium heat, melt the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl. be careful to do it in 30 second intervals. mix with a spatula until all is melted. make sure absolutely no water comes in contact with the chocolate or it will seize and you can say goodbye to it. mix in the oil and stir well.

remove the pan from the fridge and pour on the melted chocolate. make an even layer and return it to the fridge.

carefully cut the candy into small pieces. it is much easier to cut successfully when cold. actually, let me correct myself by saying that you should score it into which serving sizes you want when cold and then after it has sat out for a bit and softened, then cut it. use a very sharp knife.

these can also be shaped into balls and dipped in the melted chocolate and placed on parchment to set. use double the amount of chocolate to coat them.

here is another recipe for a similar version making these into small small candies.

check out tschoerda's success with the recipe in her blog, dinner for one. glad you now found a way to simulate your favourite treat, tschoerda!

enjoy in small amounts and then call the dentist :-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

welsh scones for wednesday

welsh scones

from the history project, it is said that,
This Scottish QUICK BREAD is said to have taken its name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. The original triangular-shaped scone was made with oats and griddle-baked. Today's versions are more often flour-based and baked in the oven. They come in various shapes including triangles, rounds, squares and diamonds.
other sources, such as the dictionary say that it may originate from dutch, from the word "schoonbrot (brood)", meaning fine white bread or from the gaelic word, "sgoon". who knows. all i do know is that they taste great, especially shmeared with butter or thick cream and preserves or jam! for interesting history about it, look at the food timeline article. states,
Scones became popular and an essential part of the fashionable ritual of taking tea in England when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788 – 1861), one late afternoon, ordered the servants to bring tea and some sweet breads, which included scones. She was so delighted by this, that she ordered it every afternoon and what now has become an English tradition is the “Afternoon Tea Time” (precisely at 4:00 p.m.). They are still served daily with the traditional clotted cream topping in Britain.
the following scones are simply among one of the best that i have tried and are from a recipe by author jeff smith which i have been making for many years. these teas snacks are quick to make and worth all your effort.

after a little bit of mixing, rolling and baking, you will be rewarded with 12 beautifully golden soft scones, all ready to be slathered with rich devon cream and crowned by some fruit preserve or jam. these scones do not have anything in them like currants or raisins. they are meant not to. if you must, well.... i won't stop you. as a variation you can add 1/3 c. of grated cheddar. orange or lemon zest is good, too. i do think, however, they are perfect just the way they are. note that you must use the cream of tartar called for to obtain to correct texture — don't omit it. the oven also needs to be well preheated when they go in for them to bake quickly and properly. you can cut the scones with cutters however the way i show here has the least waste of dough and allows for the least handling, ensuring a tender final crumb.

this scone is related to the welsh tea cake or "picau ar y maen" but is not the same. the difference is in how they are served and eaten. you'll have to read the article to find out!

as an additional note, you may change the butter to margarine and the milk to soy milk to make for a parve substitute but it will not have the same flavour.


4 tbsp butter

1 3/4 c AP flour
1/4 tsp salt

6 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar

2 eggs
1/3 c milk


preheat your oven to 450F.

mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.

cut cold but into cubes. do not use soft butter.

add the butter to the flour and salt and using a pastry tool, cut it until it resembles small peas.

add the sugar, and remaining dry ingredients.

in a small bowl, mix together the eggs and milk. make a well in the already mixed ingredients and pour the milk and egg mixture.

using a wooden spoon or spatula, quickly and carefully mix the ingredients together to form a soft dough. do not overwork it.

only mix until the ingredients have bound and the mixture has come together. there should be no more flour showing.

place this dough on a well floured board. and roll it out to a rectange that is approximately 1/2 inch thick.

make your first cuts by cutting down the length of the center and then two more cross section cuts so you end up with six squares.

now cut these squares into triangles by making point to point cuts. you will end up with 12 triangles.

place these triangles on a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

bake them for 10 minutes, up to 12 maximum. do NOT overcook them. they must bake until just slightly browned. you may also brush them with cream and coat with sanding sugar before baking to gild the lily, should you wish.

remove to a cooking rack and eat while warm. they can be frozen and are good for a day or two, if any are left!

get out your double devon english cream and best preserves to adorn your creation. most of all enjoy with a good strong hot cup of tea!

if you like these snacks, like i do, check out stephanie jaworski's site, joy of scones. eyeballicious.

and for a gluten free alternative, try this one.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

yay for snow!

finally, the snow has arrived! a day late for most people's taste. i'm sure many would have wanted it more for yesterday's christmas celebrations.

in any case, it's here and perfect for snowman building.

if you can't build your own because you live in a hot country [or you just don't like playing in the white stuff], try these cute sites:

snowman builder #1

snowman builder #2

make your own snowflakes from paper, here. also look at my previous post for another site to make amazing virtual snowflakes.

kohlrabi, two ways

i remember this odd looking, 'alien vegetable' from when i was little. i also seem to remember REFUSING to eat it and fighting with my parents that it was not meant for human consumption. i thought it was disgusting and was fit for martians and therefore definitely not for me. well, things have changed over the years and i now love it.

kohlrabi, brassica oleracea, is a member of the brassica family of vegetables which includes cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. it is very healthy and mild tasting. its texture is crunchy and makes for great crudités and "diet food".

i have been making it two ways for quite some time, both of which are more on the exotic side. each preparation is truly tasty and worth trying.

spicy kohlrabi, kashmiri style

the kohlrabi slices, after cooking, are a beautiful vivid lemon colour, still crisp and altogether taste wonderfully salty, sweet and spicy. eat this cooked salad at room temperature or warm. it's really delicious, even straight from the fridge. don't be dismayed by the amount of red pepper for those who don't like "hot" foods. it is not terribly firey with this amount of flaked red pepper (1/2 tsp).


2 to 3 fist sized kohlrabi, peeled and sliced 1/8"
2 tbsp oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 c water


peel the kohlrabi. cut in half and cut again in 1/8" thick slices.

measure out the salt, sugar, turmeric and red pepper flakes.

in a fry pan, heat the oil and add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. add the kohlrabi and saute it moving it constantly to coat with the oil.

add the turmeric, salt, sugar and red pepper. using a non-porous spatula or spoon [turmeric will stain wood and i have one i use for only indian food], turn the vegetable and stir fry it for about 2 minutes.

add the water and cover.

cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. remove the lid and cook until the water evaporates. you can turn the heat up to medium high to speed it up. turn the kohlrabi now and then. there should be almost no water left.

transfer to a serving dish. eat while warm or room temperature.

* * * * *

crunchy thai kohlrabi salad

this is a very nice asian salad which is absolutely addictive. try it and see for yourself — you won't regret you did.


2 large kohlrabi
1 tsp salt

4 tbsp oil
3 - 4 medium shallots (small onions)

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 - 1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1/4 c peanuts

2 - 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped


peel and cut kohlrabi into 1/8" slices. stack them and cut into julienne 1/8" slices. you can use a japanese mandoline also. i can't recommend getting one of these enough. watch out though, you can lose parts of your fingers on it, it's just that sharp [comes with a safety guard]. look in asian markets for the best prices.

put the slices into a bowl and add 1 tsp salt. mix into kohlrabi and let sit 20 minutes. you will notice that liquid will be released. this will make the kohlrabi very crunchy.

in the meantime, peel the shallots and slice them finely. put oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots until they are browned and crispy. put them on a paper towel to drain and let them become more crispy.

take the kohlrabi and put it in a strainer that has small holes. rinse it quickly and drain it. squeeze out as much liquid as you can. you can also do this in a tea towel over the sink which is easier.

place this in a bowl.

take the peanuts and put them in a small pan and dry roast them on medium heat. you need to stir them so they don't burn. when they are halfway roasted, add the red chili flakes and keep stirring or moving the pan with the handle. the chilis will adhere to the peanuts because of the oils. be careful not to inhale the fumes or you will choke! put them onto a plate to cool and then crush them with the side of a knife or in a mortar and pestle. don't make paste out of them. there should be small chunks.

chop the cilantro and add all the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, reserving a tablespoon of the peanuts to garnish on top. mix and top with the remaining peanuts.