Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Call for Recipe Testers for Upcoming Cookbook

Hands reaching across table filled with Jewish food

I’m ready for recipe testers!

If you’d like to be among the first to try a recipe (or a few) from the upcoming 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners from the Global Jewish Kitchen (website coming soon, cookbook coming next year from The Collective Book Studio), please send an  email to 52shabbatscookbook@gmail.com and let me know if you have any food restrictions or limitations, and or if you prefer one kind of cooking over another (say grilling to baking, for example). I’ll send you back a recipe and full instructions.  

The book is mostly main course recipes for meat, chicken, fish, and vegetarian/vegan dinners that feature global flavors from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere with some desserts, starters, and side dishes. Every dish is packed with flavor and most recipes have make-it-in-advance directions.

While the theme is Jewish food (and the recipes follow Jewish dietary laws), these recipes should appeal to anyone who loves to cook local and eat global. So email me if you’d like to get an early preview of  the cookbook and I’ll get back to you ASAP. 

The fine print: Just a reminder, that you'll be receiving a work in progress that will be part of a copyright-protected book, so no electronic or other sharing of the written recipe you receive to test is allowed and  your feedback is to be kept confidential. Recipe testers must follow the recipe as closely as possible and document any changes as well as answer a questionnaire. There is no payment  for recipe testing or associated materials or supplies. Deadline to request to be a recipe tester for this first round of testing is October 20th. After that I'll keep your name on file if we need additional testers for the second round.

P.S. I’m planning a special eBook exclusive for recipe testers, featuring my favorite global ingredients!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Where to Find Me on The Web -- Guest Posts at A Great Good Place for Books, Will Write for Food, More

Tall glass of whipped or dalgona coffee, iced, with spoon
Coffee lovers were whipped into a frenzy by this and I learned a lesson
Lately, in addition to working on my food and recipe columns for the j, Northern California's Jewish Resource, I have had two guest posts.

The first was on the blog of  food writing teacher, mentor and friend Dianne Jacob, where I wrote about the challenges of creating recipes during the early days of the COVID-19 stay in place orders, when grocery shelves were often bare and home pantries in survival mode.  It includes the lessons I learned by being an internet trend follower (including the dalgona coffee pictured above.)

The second was in support of one of my favorite independent bookstores, Oakland's wonderful  A Great Good Place for Books (they ship, too). Owner Kathleen Caldwell and staff are always helpful, supportive and knowledgeable and I wanted to do what I could to help. This post also had a coronavirus angle, suggesting folks get Andrea Nguyen's excellent Vietnamese Food Any Day for a break from SIP comfort food and carbs. In VFAD, Nguyen follows in her mother's footsteps (food steps?) and shows how to resource classic and new Vietnamese recipes from local supermarkets. The post has a few photos of the dishes I made from the book.

Oh, and if you'd like to know more about the best iced coffee I ever made, see my article/post at the j for instructions and variations on dalgona or whipped coffee.  Key tip, you can NOT sub out the instant coffee. And wear an apron, it gets messy.

For more of my regular recipe columns from the j, you can find them on my j author page. They appear in print every other week and are released online shortly before or after publication.  Make the j your home for globally inspired Jewish recipes. Plus, if you ever have a question about the recipe, email me at the address at the bottom of the post, and I'll try to help you out.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Ultimate Comfort Food -- Chocolate Sandwich Cookie (Oreo) Kugel for Your Inner (or Actual) Child

single serving chocolate sandwich cookie kugel on pinkish plate by faith kramer blog appetit

When Stay in Place began a few months ago I did a column for my j., Northern California's Jewish Resource featuring comfort food kugels, Kugels are pretty much comfort food by definition --warm, fragrant and fulling.

Kugels have their roots in Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish tradition. They are casseroles and can be made with cheese or other dairy products, noodles, potatoes, matzoh, meat (but not with the milk) and more. My j column featured cereal milk kugel made with fruit-flavored cereal, a colorful and flavorful treat for one's actual or inner child.

This recipe sparked a renewed interest in my Chocolate Cookie Kugel which I decided to revisit and revise. First change for a SIP household of two, cutting the size. A full-size kugel was just too much, so I halved the recipe. I'm happy to report the recipe halves well (and leftovers store well for up to a week airtight in the fridge). Other minor tweaks include adding the cookie crumb topping. Enjoy.

(Oh, and believe or not, it's really not too sweet but it is rich and a small serving is usually very satisfying. The cookies undergo a kind of magical alteration when cooking and pretty much absorb the filling.)

a slice of chocolate sandwich cookie kugel and a glimpse of the whole kugel by faith kramer blog appetit
Updated Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Kugel 
Serves 12
Halves well – 6-8 servings

The works with any chocolate sandwich cookie with filling -- if using ones with a flavored filling, maybe switch to vanilla extract for the almond. It really doesn't matter if you use generic or brand name Oreo-style cookies.

3 Tbs. unsalted butter melted, divided
30 chocolate sandwich cookies (approx.)
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbs. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate sandwich cookies, cut or crumbled into bits
Whipped cream or additional sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush 1 tsp. of the melted butter inside a 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover bottom with cookies, breaking some in half to fill in any large gaps.

Mash softened cream cheese with sour cream until smooth. Add remaining butter, milk, eggs, almond extract, sugar and salt. Beat until smooth.

Pour mixture over cookies. Scatter chocolate chips evenly over top. Place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan. Scatter cookie crumbs over top. Bake for additional 15-25 minutes until custard top is firm and puffy and pulling away from sides of pan. Let sit for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with  dollops of whipped or sour cream if desired.

The photos show dollops of sour cream topped with additional, larger bits of chopped cookie as garnish.

See all my j cooking columns (published every other week) for more recipes. My earlier version of this recipe is also available on the blog along with some chocolate blintzes.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Matzah Crunch: Not Just for Passover

Matzah Crunch – adapted from Marcy Goldman, the Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking
Makes 6-8 servings

Everyone loves this very popular dessert. You might also know it under one of its alternative names such as Caramel Matzah Crunch or Toffee and Chocolate Matzah Crunch or the even Matzah Crack, but you might not have realized how easy this is to make. Matzah Crunch originated with Marcy Goldman, who first developed the recipe in 1985. 

This version reflects one made by my late mother-in-law, who made hers with a topping of chopped walnuts or pecans. To make it more like Goldman’s, leave out the nuts.

Be sure to read through the directions thoroughly. You are boiling sugar and making candy, so while the directions are fairly easy they are exact. Always be careful when handling hot sugar.

Other notes: 

Make sure your matzah has no added salt. Some brands are marked salt free, others aren’t labeled, so check the package’s ingredient list.

Some folks have commented that they sometimes have trouble getting the chocolate to melt before spreading. If that happens to you, place the pan(s) in the still warm (but turned off) oven until the chocolate has melted enough to spread. 

Spoon or even use a pastry brush to spread the hot toffee for more even layers. For a thinner toffee, use six matzah sheets. I use close to 2 cups of chocolate chips to get a smooth, thick layer. The original recipe called for 3/4-1 cup. 

Be sure to make room in your freezer before you begin, since you will need to chill the baking sheet(s) filled with crunch to help the chocolate set.

4 sheets unsalted matzah
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped chocolate)
1-2 cups chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans, optional

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Depending on the size of rimmed baking sheets, you’ll need one large or two smaller pans. Line the bottom and sides (leave an overhang) of the pan(s) with foil. Then top with parchment paper cut to totally cover the foil inside the bottom of the pan(s) to make it easier to remove cooked confection. Place matzahs in a single layer on top of parchment, breaking some into pieces as needed to completely cover the bottom of the baking sheet(s).

Combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over the prepared matzahs, covering completely.

Place baking sheet(s) in oven then turn heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Check every 3 minutes to make sure topping is not burning. (If the toffee layer seems to be in danger, remove pan(s) from oven. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Replace pan(s) and continue to bake for total of 15 minutes.) 

After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips. Let stand for 5 minutes and then spread the melted chocolate evenly over the matzah. While still warm, sprinkle with nuts and cut (a pizza cutter works well) or break into squares. Place in freezer, still on cookie sheets, until chocolate has set.