Sunday, September 30, 2007

a heimishe holiday or anyday soup

this semi-borscht like meat-based soup is definitely a favourite which can be made in advance and frozen in portions to take out as needed for suppers or lunches. it does make quite a bit but nothing will go to waste. it is a perfect choice for when the cold weather hits or to serve for the holidays (sukkoth or passover).

using flanken (short ribs) gives the best flavour — i've never tried it with stewing beef but that may be the next best substitute if short ribs are unavailable. if you cannot get the soup bones then perhaps add a stock cube or powder for extra flavour.

making the recipe couldn't be easier, either. after bringing the meat to a boil and skimming, you just throw everything in and let it cook over low heat for 3 hours.

so what is heimishe? well, it's yiddish for home-y or homestyle or "our way". for a fun 5 minute explanation of montreal heimishe jewish food go here and click on the listen link. (<--p.s. enough already with the american pronunciation of my city!! for the record, it's MUN-tree-all (like fun), not maaawwn-tree-all!)

(sweet & sour) flanken and cabbage soup


2 or 3 large strips flanken (short ribs)
2 good sized soup bones (beef)
12 c water

2 large beets, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 medium cabbage, grated (i just shred it thinly by knife)
1 can diced (or whole) tomatoes (28 oz)
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 c brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp lemon juice or 1/8 - 1/4 tsp sour salt
salt and pepper, to taste

  • put meat and bones in the water in a large soup pot and bring to boil. remove any proteins that coagulate;
  • add the remaining ingredients;
  • cook, covered, on simmer for 3 hours;
  • adjust flavours at the end with extra salt, pepper, lemon juice and sugar.

break out the black bread & enjoy!

the nothing soup

with the coming of cooler air, earlier sunsets and changing colours of leaves, the fall season is — in north america — always the time when we start to crave heartier fare and comforting foods to counteract the chill in the air.

one such food is soups.

while soups have never been at the top of the list for me in the realm of things i REALLY want to eat when the weather turns cold, there are several i really do enjoy. one such one is a simple purée of only a few vegetables and is, appropriately, called the "nothing soup" as it has very little in terms of vegetables but still packs a lot of flavour.

it results in a light soup which is nicely orange coloured and tastes somewhat like that of the once very popular carrot (ginger) soup. the soup can be finished with more stock or water for a non dairy version or made richer with either cream or milk. it can also be done with soymilk keeping it vegan/vegetarian/parve.

the "nothing" roasted vegetable soup

this soup takes everyday pantry items like carrots, onions and garlic and turns them into a simple soup for the Fall. roasting the vegetables adds more flavour and brings out their natural sweetness.

serves 2 - 4


1 large carrot, well scrubbed (remove top & tip)
2 large onions with skins on, cut in halves or quartered*
5 cloves garlic, leave skins on*
2 tsp olive oil

2 heaped tbsp (parve) chicken or (vegetable) stock powder, OR
2 bouillon cubes

3 c water
1 - 2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper, to taste
fresh basil or dill, chopped (don't omit)

to finish:

1 c of either: water, milk or cream or regular soymilk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
dash of cayenne pepper or hot paprika (i use 1/8 tsp)

*the garlic will cook faster than the other vegetables, so either add it about 20 minutes after you place the vegetables in to roast or remove it sooner about 20 minutes before the vegetables are finished cooking.

**placing the onions face down will help them caramelize faster.


set oven to 425F and line a pyrex with either parchment paper or tin foil. if using tin foil, then grease it a bit to prevent sticking.

prepare the vegetables and place them in the pyrex. leave the skins on the onions but they (obviously) must be removed before puréeing. drizzle the olive oil over them before putting in the oven. you can place the onions face down or roast them face side up and turn them half way through. if your carrots are small, then use two as i did below.

bake them for about 1 hour or longer, until they are roasted and soft. i often cut the carrot in half lengthwise so it cooks more evenly and quickly if the carrot is huge.

if i cut the onions in quarters, i bake them face up and put the quarters back into halves 1/2 way through cooking so they don't burn. if you cut them in halves only you don't really have to worry about doing this. the choice of how you do it is up to you.

once they are all roasted, remove them to a plate. remove the skins from the onion and garlic. make sure to detach the root ends of the onions and to remove the tips that are crisp and charred. cut up the carrot into chunks.

in a pot, place the water, stock powder or cubes, 2 tsp sugar and the lemon juice. bring to a boil.

add the vegetables and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.

purée half of this at a time, placing it in another pot. once the second half has been puréed, taste the soup and add the salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.

turn off the heat and add the basil or dill, along with the extra water or cream or milk, olive oil and cayenne or paprika, if using.

i usually let the soup sit for about an hour before serving to let the flavours come together. i find this helps a lot rather than serving it right away.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

honey cake — the skinny version

not having had time previously to post this, i will do it now while it's still fairly early into the new year and still holiday time. i have been making this honey cake for several years now, and it is pretty good. the recipe is from cookbook author faye levy, from her low fat cookbook.

usually honey cakes have a fair amount of oil in them and this one only contains a 1/4 c! i did find that adding either a 1/4 c - 1/3 c of apple sauce (finely processed) or prune baking paste helped to make it more moist and would recommend doing this. i also added a bit of powdered coffee and orange flower water to it but that is totally optional.

i would recommend using a dark cocoa powder also. having tried it with a regular one, i find the darker gives a nicer final flavour. remember to make sure you sift the cocoa powder or it will not blend properly. this is very important.

one thing i've learned from experience when making honey cakes in loaf pans, is to line them with parchment paper. if you put the paper in properly, this allows you not to have to grease the pan at all and leaves a wall so that the cake can climb up the sides while baking and not overflow or leave an overhang. see the recipe for how to do it. it really does work well.

lower fat chocolate honey cake

a honey cake that can be quickly put together in less than 20 minutes, this one is low fat and chocolate-y. it also has a gingery flavour. if you aren't a fan of it, i would say to cut it in half or not use it at all and increase the cinnamon.


dry: (sift, sift, sift!)

1 1/2 c all purpose flour (212 gr)
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tsp coffee powder, optional


2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2/3 c honey
1/4 c oil
1/4 c water

1/4 - 1/3 c applesauce or prune baking paste (recommended)
2 capfuls orange flower water, optional

1/4 c chopped nuts, optional


preheat the oven to 325F. you need a 9 x 5 loaf pan for this. do not use the smaller one as it is not big enough.

measure out your piece of parchment paper and line your cake pan so that it fits along the length and extends up the walls of the pan by several inches. (otherwise, just grease the pan well and flour it).

if you are using the parchment paper don't grease it at all or the pan. it won't stick to the sides where it's not covered by parchment and comes out of the pan easily, once it's baked.

try to fold the side corners underneath as best you can. it make take two or three attempts to get it to sit nicely but it does. make sure it's a snug fit.

in one bowl, measure out the dry ingredients and sift them all. make sure the cocoa is sifted.

in another bowl, place all the wet ingredients (measure the oil first and then the honey so it will not stick) and mix well.

add the dry to the wet and blend thoroughly. add the nuts if using.

pour the batter carefully into the pan, trying not to hit the walls of the parchment as it is poured.

bend the parchment paper down a bit on either side so it doubles the walls. this also prevents the top of it from scorching in the oven. make sure the paper extends about 2 1/2 to 3 inches past the border of the loaf pan.

bake for about 1 hour or so until a toothpick comes out completely clean.

remove from oven and lift out of pan and let cool completely. wrap it well in foil. keeps well for up to a week.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

back to the bird tongues .....

earlier on, i posted a recipe for rice & orzo, a no-fuss and easy side dish which can be used for chicken, fish or any vegetarian fare. this time, it's simply orzo all on its own, made into a simple pilaf with very few ingredients but still full of flavour.

not much more to say about it than that — it reheats well, too. if you like onions, you can sauté a little and add it, too. i like it just as is.

simple orzo pilaf

cooked in the same amount of time as rice, this is a nice change from the "same old, same old". the way it is cooked here results in bi-coloured orzo with a garlicky-peppery flavour. you can add a tablespoon of honey or soy sauce, or even both, after it's cooked to give it a different taste.

serves 4


1 c of orzo, divided (either 1/2 - 1/2 or 1/3 - 2/3)
2 tbsp oil (reg or olive)
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
2 c water or stock
1 tbsp (parve) stock powder or bouillon cube crumbled
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper

to add at the end of cooking:

chopped parsley, if wanted
1 tbsp honey AND/OR,
1 tbsp dark soy sauce


important note before starting: keep your eye on the dish near the end of the cooking time as it likes to stick to the bottom of the pan, especially if you're using a non stick. use only very low heat to cook the orzo over the 17 minute cooking time and keep it well-covered.

divide the orzo and prepare the garlic by either mincing it or cutting into slivers (depending on how much garlic flavour you like). the reason for dividing it is to give the orzo its two colours. you can colour it a bit with 1/3 of a cup or using a 1/2 cup.

in a non stick pan (this is preferable as the orzo likes to stick even at low heat), heat the oil over medium low heat and sauté it for only a minute or two. it musn't burn or go brown.

add 1/2 cup of the orzo and let it cook, stirring until it starts to get golden brown. meanwhile, have your water or stock ready along with the spices.

when browned, turn the heat to low. add the rest of the orzo and then add the water slowly. throw in spices and seasonings and stir. be careful as it will start to boil immediately.

once the mixture is boiling, cover the pan and cook it for about 17 minutes only.

check on it, and remove the lid. let it cook further if needed to evaporate any excess stock.

add the parsley, honey and soy sauce if using.


Friday, September 21, 2007

break the fast with these small savouries

commonly known in arabic as ka'ak (bracelet), these round bagel shaped savoury baked goods are well known all over the middle east and in sefardi kitchens. we call them roskitas and use them, along with many plates of other goodies, to break the fast of yom kippour — they are fairly salty which serves to reintroduce missing electrolytes/sodium to the system after 25 hours of not eating or drinking, and they make you want to drink to replace liquids.

this version is turkish but includes extra spices which are optional. one item you cannot leave out, however, is the ingredient called mahlab/mahlep. (okay, well, you can but it won't be the same at all).

mahlab is the ground kernel of a certain cherry tree that grows in the mediterranean and middle east and gives the most wonderful aroma and flavour. it is commonly used in pastries and breads. mahlep is easy to find in greek and middle eastern markets/stores or can be ordered online.

roskitas, or "small rings", can be either savoury (salty) or sweet and throughout the year except passover when flour is not used.

this version can be made fairly quickly in comparison with other recipes as the dough isn't as elastic as standard recipes. it is much richer and lighter also, due to the higher fat content of the margarine (or butter, if using) .

they are fantastic and a must try.

roskitas · كعك · קעאק או עוגיות מלוחות
salty pastry rings

these can be made large or small but the smaller sized ones are cuter (and more time consuming). this recipes goes quickly and is very easy to work, giving you excellent results. they are dried out completely so they last a long time, if they don't all get eaten up.

makes about 24 small ones or 12 large



1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 c warm water
1/4 c flour


1 1/2 c flour, maybe a little more
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground mahlab/mahlep/מהלב, heaped
2 sticks minus 1 tbsp OR 11 tbsp parve margarine* or use butter
1 egg
2 tsp regular sesame seeds

optional spices (good to include):

1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp aniseeds
1 tsp nigella seeds

*must be solid but at room temp. i use fleischmann's margarine for these.

eggwash & decoration:

1 egg yolk + 2 tsp water
more sesame seeds to coat


make the sponge (which is the leavened "quick starter") by mixing the yeast, flour and sugar together in a small bowl.

add the water and mix well. cover the bowl and leave it to rise about 1/2 hour.

sift the mahlep into a large bowl into which you have added the flour and salt. i always sift as it tends to clump.

add the spices and mix all together.

making a well in the center, add egg, sponge, and margarine.

stir the ingredients together until combined and knead for about 3 minutes.

it should feel a little moist but not sticky.

cover let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. the dough won't really rise due to the short rest period.

take tablespoons of dough and set them on a plate and cover the plate as you do it.

take one piece of dough and roll it out into a finger shape about 4 inches long.

join the ends together, overlapping a bit. don't really press down to hard. it will bake together and fuse in the oven. place the rings on a baking sheet that's been greased a bit (they stick because of the egg wash) or on a parchment -- requires no greasing.

finish all the rings and preheat the oven to 375 F.

when finished shaping, make your eggwash and coat all the rings well with it. sprinkle sesame seeds generously over the rings.

cover the rings with a tea towel and let rise for about 20 minutes.

place the rings in the oven and bake for 22 to 25 minutes until golden but not dark.

remove the baking sheet/s from the oven and turn the oven down to 200 F. leave the oven door open for about 5 minutes to lower the temperature and then close the door.

now, with a spatula move the rings around so they aren't sticking.

replace the rings in the oven for 20 minutes to dry out completely and then turn the oven off and leave them in there for another 20 minutes.

remove and let cool completely. serve with coffee or tea.


recipe source: classic turkish cooking

Thursday, September 20, 2007

a different kind of kugel

a very simple kugel (koo-gull) recipe using either store-bought or homemade bisquick mix, this has lots of flavour and is a bit different from the regular ones made from either potatoes or egg noodles. it is extremely light in comparison to other (heavy) kugels, being crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. kids seem to like it a lot, too, in spite of the "objectionable" presence of zucchini (eww, what's the icky green stuff?).

try it, you'll like it.

zucchini-carrot kugel

a few vegetables and some bisquick result in a tasty kugel that goes nicely with the standard brisket or chicken dish. it's also good just on its own :) while it contains no dairy products, you can add shredded cheddar or mozzarella. for another variation, you can add chopped small bits of other vegetables like broccoli.


3 c grated & drained zucchini* (skin on)
1/2 c very finely minced carrot
½ c onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (opt)

1 c bisquick or pancake mix -- (i add 1 1/3 c)

½ - 3/4 tsp salt
pepper, to taste
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil

½ c vegetable oil (not olive) -- i use less, 1/3 c only
4 eggs (can also use 2 eggs + 2 whites)

*make sure to drain the zucchini as there is a lot of water in it. i usually salt it, let it sit and then rinse and squeeze dry.


preheat oven to 350F. oil a 9" square (pyrex) pan.

beat eggs in a large bowl and add the other ingredients (or any way you want, it doesn't matter as long as it's well mixed).

pour the contents into pan and bake 40 - 60 minutes (until a nice brown crust forms). i usually turn up the oven to 400F during the last 10 minutes.

remove and let sit to cool. i prefer serving this slightly warm as it firms up more as it cools.

to serve cut in squares or diamonds. can also be made in ramequins for individual portions. if making in ramequins, change your cooking times.

can be made in advance and frozen: thaw only slightly and reheat at 350 F uncovered.