Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Return of the Peppermint Candy Cookie

My boys are now men but during a time that seems like long ago and just yesterday I would entertain them by letting them browse a photo-laden Sunset cookie cookbook and let them pick out recipes for us to bake. This Peppermint Candy Cookie, kind of an oat crisp, was one of their favorites. 

I was fortunate to have both sons home for Chanukah dinner so in addition to the latkes, brisket and jelly doughnuts that are traditional holiday fare I made a batch of these cookies. 

For the recipe (and a few other peppermint-flavored treats), please see my version of the recipe here. For large or vegan versions, use a dairy-free margarine. This recipe is egg free. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Pick a Peck of Oven-Fried Peppers This Chanukah

This Chanukah try oven frying/roasting shishito or padrone peppers. Rinse and dry then toss in a bowl with lots of olive oil and coarse sea salt to taste. Pour peppers with oil on ungreased, rimmed baking trays. Place in preheated 450 degree oven. Roast, turning occasionally until soft and the peppers are blistered and browned on all sides

Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature. 

These peppers have a slight bite and a nice grassy/herbaceous taste. Sometimes you will bite into one that's a bit milder or hotter. 
Hanukkah, Hanukah 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Montserrat --The Confection Named After a Mountain

In Barcelona, a meringue cookie filled with hazelnuts is known as a Montserrat, after the famous moutnatin, with its rocky peaks, which the confection is said to resemble. I got to eat one today in its wild habitat, the cafeteria of the Montserrat monastery. I had a choice of lemon (which was pure white) or vanilla (yellow).  You can see my choice above.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My Spanish Kitchen, Well Actually Just One of Them

Gary and I are on the road again. This time we are combining 10 days in London (son's wedding) with  a wide-ranging itinerary by train, car, boat and bus. Along the way we have been renting apartments with kitchens so I can cook and take advantage of the wonderful, fresh ingredients we have been finding throughout Europe. I am determined to share a lot of that here in the blog, so watch for updates on food and markets from England, France and Spain. More later. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Plum Good - Roasted Plum Compote Recipe. Sweet, Tart and Very Versatile Direct From My Neighbor's Tree

Roasted Plum Compote over Cake with Ice Cream

Nina gifted us with several bags of tart plums from her tree. I turned the fruit into a simple roasted compote that was delicious on its own or as a topping for cake, ice cream or both.

The quantities in the recipe below are based on how many plums I had left after noshing. Adapt for other amounts as needed. Recipe works well with the other stone fruits. Yield will vary depending on type of fruit and water content. The recipe will work with less than ripe fruit, but you may need to use more sugar. Very ripe fruit will work as well, but be sure to taste to adjust sugar. My plums were small. Larger plums or other stone fruit may require additional baking time.

Roasted Plum Compote 

Serves about 4 as a compote, 6-8 as topping

1 lb. 12 oz. ripe plums
2 Tbs. lemon-flavored olive oil
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste - use less with very sweet fruit, more with very tart)

Heat oven to 400 degree oven. Line rimmed baking tray(s) with parchment paper.

Slice fruit in half, remove pits and cut out any bruised sections. Mix fruit with oil and sugar. Pour out in single layer on tray(s). Bake. When top is browned (about 20 minutes), flip over fruit and stir in juices. Bake another 10-20 minutes until fruit is browned and juices are bubbly and reduced down. Let cool slightly and scrape fruit and juices into bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature as a compote or serve atop cake and or ice cream as a topping.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Kitchen in London

Gary and I are in London for a month enjoying the international restaurants, food,stalls, street markets, and famed eating spots, but what we really like (some of the time) is coming home to our apartment rental and cooking dinner.

The stores and supermarkets here don't have some of the range of produce I'm used to but they have a lot, usually impeccably fresh and beautiful.  The markets are also full of intriguing local and international groceries and the dairy, oh, my goodness, the dairy, it's wonderful.  There is one whole refrigerator filled with varieties of clotted cream, marscopone and creme friache (full or low fat, French or English style).

Pictured above is a whole eggplant (aubergine), cut in half and scooped out.  The eggplant boats (shells) were partially baked then filled with a sautéed mixture of ground beef (mince) and chopped onions, garlic, bell pepper (capsicums) and eggplant innards. The mix was seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and sautéed in olive oil. The eggplant was baked until the top was browned and the eggplant shells cooked through. It was topped with hummus and chopped cilantro (coriander). I served it with couscous, a vacation standby since it is so versatile and quick cooking and can be made without a pot.

Cooking at a vacation rental can be tricky from lack of ingriendents and or equipment, but I like to treat it as my personal reality show and see how creative I can get with minimal effort. This dinner was a winner on both counts.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SF Chinatown Bakery Sign

Painted on the closed gate of a venerable bakery in San Francisco's Chinatown, this is the first of what I hope will be a series of food-related signage photographs featured on Blog Appetit. These food signs have always fascinated me and I look forward to sharing them and their stories with you.

The Eastern Bakery at 720 Grant Avenue had been a Chinatown institution well before I arrived in the Bay area in 1979.  They are known for their moon cakes, but also, as the gate advises, serve breakfast, lunch and food to go. Try their custard tarts and steamed savory buns, as well.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Savory Bites and California Mandelbrot for Purim

Pepper jelly makes these more of an appetizer than a dessert.
Purim has many food traditions associated with it.  Among them is the custom of giving friends and relatives a gift basket of food known as mishloach manot.  The giver is ensuring the recipient has enough food for a Purim feast.  Another Purim tradition is to donate to the poor, and some have combined the two traditions into food drives and donations to food banks.

The recipes below were designed to be made for a Purim basket, or even just made ahead for a Purim party.  The crispy Lemon-Olive Oil Mandelbrot cookies stand up to a dunking in tea or even a bit of sweet wine. Be sure to label the Spicy Hamantaschen Bites, an appetizer twist on the traditional Purim cookie, so your recipient knows this treat has some heat.

Hamantaschen are said to resemble the evil Haman's hat and are usually filled with jam, prune butter or poppy seeds. Filled or "hidden" foods are also a  Purim tradition since there is so many secrets in the Purim story. For more on the Purim story and a recipe for the sweeter, traditional hamantaschen, see my post here.

California Mandelbrot with Lemon and Olive Oil
Makes about 24

Oil spray
2 eggs
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon oil
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 Tbs. grated, minced lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2/3 cup flour, plus extra
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup blanched, sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use spray to grease two baking sheets.   In a mixer bowl, combine eggs and sugar on high speed until pale yellow and thickened.  Stir in lemon oil, almond extract, lemon zest and olive oil.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the egg and sugar mixture in three batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding the next.  Beat at medium speed until smooth, stir in the almonds (dough will be stiff).  Sprinkle flour on work surface.  Dough will be sticky so oil or wet hands.  Shape dough into two loaves, each about 10” long, 1 ½” wide and 1” tall.  Using spatula if needed, transfer to center of prepared pans.  Pat back into shape.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden and top crust has small cracks.  Let cool slightly.  Transfer loaves to cutting board and cut into 3/4" slices.  Lay slices flat side down on pans, return to hot oven and bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.  Mandelbrot will crisp as it cools.

Spicy Hamantaschen Bites
Makes 22-24

2 cups flour, plus extra
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 lb. margarine or butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut in small pieces
2 eggs, beaten
About 1/4 cup strained jalapeño or other pepper jelly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper in large bowl.  With a pastry blender or two forks, cut in margarine until about the size of lentils.  Mix in eggs. Mix until it forms a ball, using hands to knead together if needed. Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out dough 1/4“ thick.  Cut into circles with a round cookie cutter or small glass about 2 ½” to 2 ¾” in diameter.  Gather scraps and reroll them and cut out additional circles.

Fill the center of each circle with 1/2 tsp. jelly.  (Do not overfill.) Push up 3 sides to form triangles, firmly pinching so the cookies will maintain their shape during baking.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove cookies and cool on rack.

This article first appeared in a slightly different form in the J, the Jewish News of Northern California.