Am cleaning up my office and feeling lighter. I take a half hour and say to myself, ” I WILL clean one pile BEFORE I do anything else today- a few times the half hour turns into three hours and once or twice the half hour is actually a half hour.
I know I can’t keep this up for too long so when I’m motivated to sort, toss and file, I jump on it. And I find I’m breathing a bit easier. Coincidence? Correlation Causation? Too many “C” words? I don’t know. I’m just reporting the facts.
Remember the old People Mover in Tomorrowland? I don’t even think Disneyland has a Tomorrowland anymore. It’s OK, I know I’m dating myself. I don’t mind. This is how I feel: Things that have been in me to do for a very long time are coming into focus and moving forward. Just maybe in time for Thanksgiving. Just may be. Small wonder I’ve been out of the bb kitchen so much. I will tell you more soon.
And in the spirit of less is more, I offer up another installation of the Persimmon Mini Series. As soon as I received a big bag of persimmons and before I could get to the porridge (click here for the recipe) I threw together a few favorite ingredients for a salad. Home Run!, according to Novio. Less is More.
I used two small persimmons the first night, with an avocado that was ready to go.
I threw the chunks of persimmon and avocado into a simple salad…
… with chopped Romaine lettuce, baby lettuce, green onion and Persian cucumber, all frequent guests in the kitchen.
Then I dressed it lightly with olive oil and a bit of Orange Muscat Vinegar (love the stuff— it’s from Trader Joe’s).
If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you (yikes!) or don’t know what I’m talking about (double yikes!!), no worries. Use the same amount of oil PLUS…. either (you have lots of choices) -
- 2 t. lemon juice and a small amount of honey (about 1/2 t.)
- 1 t. orange juice and 1 t. light vinegar
- 1 t. orange juice plus 1 t. champagne vinegar or white balsamic or something acidic that appeals to you
I didn’t even take the time to make the dressing in a jar or little bowl. A little oil splashed on. A little vinegar. A little salt & pepper.
There’s a lot to be said for Simplicity. Thanks again, Beverly.
Persimmon Avocado Salad
Ingredients:4 c. mixed lettuce 2 small persimmons, small chunks, peel on 1 Persian cucumber, sliced 1 green onion, thinly sliced 1 small avocado, large dice 2 t. lemon juice (or juice of 1/2 small lemon) 1 T. good quality olive oil 2 t. orange muscat vinegar salt & pepper to taste
Rinse, drain and shred Romaine. Combine with other lettuces, if using, in a medium salad bowl. Add sliced green onion and cucumber.
Cut persimmons in chunks and add to salad.
Dice an avocado, add to salad and pour lemon juice over it.
Add olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper and lightly toss.
Two people now have a delicious and quick salad to enjoy!
Ahhh, my Tuesday Night Hebrew class. I started taking it again a few years ago and now it’s a non-negotiable fixture on my calendar.
Case in point: Novio and I have been trying to figure out a date to take our nephew out to dinner for his birthday. This Thursday, next Thursday, this Sunday – all no good. Nephew texted me back: What about Tuesday night? I’m free Tuesday. Sorry Daniel, Tuesday night is Hebrew night. As I said, nonnegotiable.
This class has some wonderful advantages, not the least of which is our outstanding Hebrew teacher, Era. We discuss, we share, we laugh. Under Era’s gentle leadership, the conversation covers Israeli culture, literature, history and music. We share stories, from travel to memories and anecdotes of family and friends. And sometimes we open up our grammar books.
The class itself is an eclectic group – all coming together for our love of the language and the country. One of my classmates is a kind and generous soul whose mom’s backyard has persimmon trees that deliver in abundance every fall. So each year about this time, Beverly brings bags and bags of persimmons to class, asking us who would like some. Sometimes pleading with us to help her share in the bounty. I don’t know how she lugs those heavy bags around.
Two weeks ago I couldn’t make class. A few days later, Novio and I return home and what do we find waiting for us on our doorstep? Yup. A bag filled with persimmons. I knew immediately who the culprit was. I didn’t even have to read the lovely note attached.
This porridge is made with Fuyu persimmons. Novio keeps teasing me about the name. He wants to know why I’m speaking like that. “They’re called Fuyus,” I say. Please cut the tittering,okay? A Fuyu persimmon is firm and you generally eat it like an apple. It has a subtle and delicious sweetness to it.
I’ve been thinking of different ways to enjoy them. Delicious out of hand, Yes. But throughout the day, all kinds of uses for persimmons come to mind.
Breakfast: diced into yogurt or in cereal, whether hot or cold.
Lunch/Dinner: in a refreshing salad with greens, avocado and scallion (green onion), as a salsa to top fish or chicken, diced and baked with chicken, with quinoa, stewed with yams.
Dessert: roasted chunks or slices served with ice cream… or persimmon crisp.
I feel a Persimmon Mini Series coming on.
All this pondering made me think about a wonderful steaming bowl of cereal in the morning.For the first batch, I used old-fashioned rolled oats.
I thought maybe a smoother texture would work. I did a quick turn with the oats in my mini-food processor to get a cream-of-wheat consistency. It was delicious but would be fine without that extra step too.my friend, the mini-processor
For the next batch, I used Scottish oatmeal. This batch used a higher liquid to oats ratio. Be sure to read the cooking directions for the correct oats:liquid ratio. The ratio can be 1:1.5, 1:2 or as much as 1:3 or 1:4 (for steel-cut).
I tried making this batch with an unpeeled persimmon cut into a large dice but I found that when I peeled them….. I know the nutrients are mostly under the skin but here’s the deal, when I peeled them, they became very tender and flavorful in the brief time I cooked them in the porridge liquid. The cooking liquid I used was half unsweetened almond milk and half water.
Then I simply added the oatmeal (or try whatever hot cereal you like). I included a very small amount of brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a bit of vanilla.
That’s it. Fantastic! Quick and a great way to start the day.
Experiment using different hot cereals.
This post is dedicated to Beverly, her mom… and the wonderful persimmon trees.
Ingredients:1 c. oatmeal (AKA rolled oats) cooking liquid for oatmeal- I use half unsweetened almond milk and half water (I needed 3 c. liquid for the type of oatmeal I was using) 2 persimmons, peeled and diced 2 t. light brown sugar 1/2 t. vanilla 1/4 t. salt
Use the ratio of cooking liquid to oatmeal for 4 servings according to package directions. Pay attention to the oatmeal-cooking liquid ratio as it varies according to the type of oatmeal and brand you use).
In a medium saucepan, bring cooking liquid and salt up to a gentle simmer. Add the diced persimmon to the cooking liquid (to soften it a bit). Return to a very gentle simmer. Bring heat down to low (otherwise you’ll spend unnecessary time wiping the stove top) and add oatmeal and brown sugar. Stir and cook gently (you want to see gentle bubbling on the surface) for the number of minutes indicated on the oatmeal package. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Cover and let rest for a minute or two.
Makes 4 servings. Add a bit more almond milk to the oatmeal before serving… Enjoy!
These granola bars are really cool. Why? Because we keep them chilled in the refrigerator , ha ha! No, no, they’re also just a really cool pick-me-up. Full of whole grains, nuts and dried fruit and held together with a very fun mix of things, including almond or peanut butter. And anything that looks like it’s been baked and isn’t is a cool thing.
My buddy Hanni, of Spots on Pots fame, recommended David Lebovitz’s version (click here for his version) when I made a batch of granola cookies. Her husband, AKA The Better Half, reported that they were too crumbly and liked David’s version better. I put that bit of info away in the back pocket of my brain until the right time. The right time happened along but his version calls for a cup of chopped and pitted dates and I don’t always feel like chopping sticky dates. Also I want to eat them not chop them…
You basically toast the grains and the nuts and mix them up in a large bowl with the dried fruit. Then assemble the other ingredients, in this case, the almond butter, honey, brown rice syrup and applesauce and heat together in a small saucepan.
… and when there are just a few left, toss them in a plastic container and keep them in the fridge. And keep they will, if you tuck them toward the back.
Not good for a hike but excellent when you need a little something satisfying at home or as an after- school snack. Or take it to work if you have a fridge there. But be careful; they might walk off on you.
Cool No-Bake Granola Bars
Ingredients:1 1/2 c.rolled oats (old-fashioned NOT quick-cooking) 1/4 c.sesame seeds 1/4 c. whole millet 1/4 c. whole flax seeds 1/2 c. whole almonds, cut in half or sliced almonds 1/2 c. walnuts 1/3 c. applesauce 1/4 c. almond butter (OR creamy peanut butter) 2 T. honey 2 T. brown rice syrup 1/4 t. salt 1 1/2 c. dried fruit: a mix of raisins, currants or apricots or sour cherries, coarsely chopped
Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.
Spread oats, sesame seeds and flax seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring once while they are baking, until slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds and walnuts on baking sheet and toast for eight minutes. Let cool then coarsely chop walnuts and almonds (if whole) and add to the outs in a large bowl. Add dried fruit to the bowl.
Heat almond butter, honey, rice syrup and applesauce in a small sauce pan, stirring until warm but not boiling. Pour the liquid mixture over the solid items in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated. You can use your hands to finish the activity or use a large wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and pack it in, so it’s as flat as possible. Freeze the granola bars in the pan for 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the freezer and run a knife around the edge to release the bars… keep the mixture out to remove the parchment paper and cut into rectangles. Another possibility is place the pan in the refrigerator and cut the bars directly from the pan as you need them.
bb ideas for more No-Bake Granola Bars:
Mash 1/2 c, blueberry puree and add 1/2 t. vanilla -delete the applesauce
Delete the honey and rice syrup and use 1/4 c. of maple syrup instead. Use half the nuts and add I/2 c. pepitas instead.
Spaghetti & meatballs has always been high on my lust of comfort foods. It’s one of the many dishes I would watch my mom make for us growing up. It wasn’t a natural in her repertoire. Influenced by her Italian next-door-neighbor? Maybe. But more likely, she was responding to the clamoring of her little Yankee (yours truly).
Years ago I began adding diced zucchini to the sauce for my own version of meatballs and spaghetti. It added richness plus rounded the dish out with the added veggie.
The French begin so many savory dishes with a mirepoix. This simply means sauteing chopped onion, carrots and celery for the base of all manner of soups, stews and sauces. Why not? I’ll do it too.
From there, the idea just evolved. What vegetables do I want in this batch? That’s the way we operate in the bb kitchen. Variety is the spice of life, so they say. Did I hear someone say, “Who’s they?” You know, they.
Then I met a physical therapist from Mexico City. While she was pulling my legs and stretching me, we discussed (one guess… ) cooking. She told me that she learned from her mom to always stick a cinnamon stick into whatever she was cooking that had tomato sauce. It adds a layer of complexity and depth to the sauce that once you taste, you won’t ever want to make any other way. Hmmm, must remember I thought. And remember I did. And if you don’t have a cinnamon stick, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon along with the cumin in the beginning.
For the binding agent, use fresh bread crumbs.
Or grab some leftover Challah or egg bread, tear into chunks, place in a small bowl and pour hot water over it. Let it soak for ten minutes.
Then squeeze it dry and using your fingers, pull it apart over the meat mixture.
Throw some chopped parsley in, if you like. Mix it up well to incorporate. Hands work best for this activity.
For the ground meat, I long ago realized that ground turkey can be swapped out for beef to bring the fat content down. But you can also try ground chicken. It works especially well with the soaked bread version.
Make smallish meatballs and quickly brown them for a few minutes on each side in hot oil.
From Morocco, the cumin
From Mexico, the cinnamon
From France, the mirepoix, the classic base of onion, celery and carrot
A dish with melt-in-your-mouth savory flavors in every bite. For dinner at home, in the Sukkah, or to take to someone else’s home… Go ahead, pull out what you have in your veggie bin and feed your friends and family one memorable meal.
Melting Pot Meatballs
Ingredients:1 lb. ground turkey (ground chicken or beef can also be used) 1 egg 4 T. fresh bread crumbs or about 1/2 c. torn pieces of Challah or egg bread 1 large onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 2 T. chopped Italian parsley 4 T. olive oil 1 t. cumin 1/2 t. oregano 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 t. cinnamon 1 stalk celery, diced 2 carrots, diced 1/2 green pepper, diced 1/2 red pepper, diced 2 zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced 1/2 lb. mushrooms, quartered, optional 1 small eggplant, cubed, optional 28 oz. tomatoes, crushed or whole and cut-up 8 oz. can tomato sauce 1/2 c. red wine 2 T. tomato paste salt & pepper
Make the meatball mixture by combining the ground meat, 1/4 of the chopped onion, 1 minced garlic clove, Italian parsley and salt and pepper. Add fresh bead crumbs. Or take about 1/2 cup or 2 slices of Challah or egg bread, pour hot water over it in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze the water out and pull it apart over the meat mixture. Stir well to combine.
Heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add 2 T. olive oil to heat through. Form the ground meat mixture into small meatballs (about 18-20) and briefly brown on both sides. Remove to platter and set aside.
Scrape all the bits to the sides of the skillet or pot and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the cumin, oregano, and ground cinnamon (if not using a cinnamon stick) and quickly cook for a half-minute. Add the remaining chopped onion, celery and carrots and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the remaining vegetables, depending on what you’re using – diced peppers, diced zucchini, quartered mushrooms, diced eggplant. Saute for 10 minutes.
Return the meatballs to the pot, arranging them over the vegetables. Pour the large can of tomatoes over, along with the sauce, wine and tomato paste. Add cinnamon stick if using. Bring up to a boil and then down to a gentle simmer. Cook, with lid askew, for 30-40 minutes, until all the veggies are tender.
Make this dish a day or two ahead of time.It only gets gets better with re-heating. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve over rice, Israeli couscous, or of course, your favorite pasta, including spaghetti!
Dairy or Dairy-Free Version, here’s a sure-to-please peach cobbler for the late-season peaches that are rolling in right now. I got a request from ever-practical Lulu who informed me that there were a few-too-many peaches sitting on her counter. She needs to do something before they turn from the luscious phase to the I’m-not-liking-the-way-this-is-tasting phase.
I was given the followed list of pre-requisites:
- No pastry making (Lulu, who are you talking to? I rarely go down that road)
- No multiple steps
- No buscuit-y shortcakes
- Cake-y texture
The request was so earnest, I had to respond immediately. I wanted to do this:
But all I had was this:
Yes, a pluot. That’s the little green guy hiding in the back. A pluot is generally a mix between a plum and an apricot. There are many varieties in shades ranging from burgundy to pale red to green. And sometimes peaches or cherries are added to the crossing-over and mixing-up. Very scientific of me, I know.
My trio gave me just the 2 cups I needed. You don’t need a lot of fruit, two or three and you’re there. I figured I’d taste the fruit to determine how much sugar to add. Cut the stone fruit into slices, then cut in half. No need to peel the fruit. Keep nutrients in and get the pan in the oven that much quicker.
And on to the recipe. Here’s what I came up with…. I’ve seen recipes where butter is melted in the baking pan and the batter is poured into the pan over it. It results in a well-defined bottom and sides. To create a dairy-free recipe, I swapped the butter for canola oil and the milk for unsweetened almond milk.
Pour the milk into the dry ingredients for a liquid-y batter. No eggs need apply.
and the rest of too!
Easy Stone Fruit Cobbler
Ingredients:3 T. butter or canola oil 3/4 c. flour 1/2 c. +1 T. sugar 1 t. baking powder 1/4 t. salt 1 c. low-fat milk or unsweetened almond milk 2 c. cut-up unpeeled stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots, or a combo)
NOTE: you can also use:
- peaches alone, which was my original intent
Melt butter in a round 8 to 9 inch pan in a 350° oven- don’t brown the butter. Or, if using oil, simply pre-heat oven and swirl oil around in pan.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt (minus the 1 tablespoon of sugar) in bowl. Whisk in milk. Pour batter into pan without stirring.
Cut unpeeled peaches into slices and cut slices in half. Add fruit and top with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until bubbly and the top is set.
Let rest for 10 minutes. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
For dairy free, use coconut milk ice cream or yogurt as a topping.
Note: It’s low enough in sugar, that you can top it with plain yogurt, have it for breakfast and go take on your day!
Makes 6-8 servings.
Here we are, dear readers. On the cusp of the Jewish New Year. And life happens. And the curve balls come our way and we still keep putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I keep coming back to the notion of Choosing Life. For all its crazy messiness that it can be. And recognizing the incredible gifts within it.
We may have wanted to make this year the break-out year for introducing all these new versions of beloved dishes when our families gather. But it’s tradition that so many seek this time of year. In the chaotic world that swirls around us , a bit of familiarity is a very good thing.
So to the beloved old faithful recipes we head — the dishes that our family and friends know to look for year after year. Dishes like Lulu’s Apple n’ Honey Cake.
And I can’t think of a better way to Choose Life than to reach for a bag of chocolate chips.
If you look very closely, you may notice a few little white bits in there. Turns out I ran out of chocolate chips for this particular batch and had to delve into my white chocolate chip stash. OK, so this batch is not exactly dairy-free. More mandelbread to pack away in the freezer. Novio was very happy to hear of this turn-of-events.
It’s a simple recipe that yields delicious results every time. The only thing you need apart from the usual baking supplies are a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a couple of juice oranges. If you already have oj in the fridge, use it. We won’t tell – your secret is safe with us.
Grease your hands lightly to create two long flat loaves from the soft dough.
Use a sharp knife to cut even slices after the first round of baking.
You don’t need to make any room in between the slices for the second, brief baking.
The mandelbread need some time to cool before storing. Caution, if you’re not alone while in this cooling phase. Mandelbread slices have a funny way of getting up and leaving when you’re not looking. Don’t bother trying to find them.
This recipe from the Kosher Baker is the very first recipe in Paula Shoyer’s terrific volume. A more accurate title for the book could be The Parve Baker. All of her desserts are dairy-free and that is consistent with the kosher law of not serving milk or milk products in the same meal with meat.
Quick, straightforward and delicious. And if all this means you and I have a bit more time to spend with family and friends, and maybe even some room for a little introspection, so much the better.
Chocolate Chip Mandelbread
from Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker – I only reduced the sugar and upped the vanilla
Ingredients:3 cups flour ¾ c. sugar 2 t. baking powder ¼ t. salt 1/4 c. orange juice (freshly squeezed is preferable) 3 large eggs 1/2 c. canola or safflower oil 2 t. pure vanilla extract 10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange juice, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until it forms a soft dough. Add chocolate chips and evenly distribute.
Divide dough in half and shape each loaf into a log. It helps to do this with lightly greased hands. Shape loaves to about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide. Flatten each love slightly with the palm of your hand. Leave a space of about 3 inches between the loaves.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the logs are golden on top. Quickly slide parchment paper and logs off the pan onto the counter. You want to avoid having the bottoms of the logs “sweat” as that will overly soften them. Slice each loaf crosswise into ¾ to 1-inch slices (a size that’s pleasing to you).
Place new piece of parchment on the pan and lay the sliced mandelbread on the parchment, cut-side down. There do not need to be spaces between the slices. Return pan to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Remove slices onto a cooling rack until cooled.
Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days. They keep very well in plastic containers or ziploc bags in the freezer for up to 3 months. Do not divulge their whereabouts to anyone.
Makes about 30 pieces.
I know I’ve talked about this before and I want to talk about it again… leftovers. I love leftovers. I don’t even call them that. I call them holdovers. I’ll make more of something that I need for that evening’s meal so that I can either have it again or create another meal with it.
When I roast veggies, and I roast veggies all the time, I always make more than I need. For a classic Mediterranean mix, grab some eggplant, zucchini, red onion and peppers.
Toss with olive oil and season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin and oregano.Hey man, we need some space
If you see that your veggies are getting crowded, as with the eggplant above, grab another pan and distribute. Veggies always roast better when they’re not bumping into each other. No sweat if you line the plans with foil. It’s super-easy to clean up.
I use roasted veggies throughout the week as a side dish with fish or chicken. Or with scrambled eggs. Or tucked into an omelet or a frittata. Eggs poached over roasted veggies, moistened with a bit of tomato sauce, are oh-so-good.
And for a terrific, quick and satisfying meal, I’ll do a beautiful composed salad featuring warmed-up roasted veggies on a bed of greens to which I almost always add sliced green onions and cucumbers.
On top I’ll layer the warmed roasted vegetables, whether Mediterranean-style, a single veggie like carrots, potatoes or mushrooms, or a cauliflower medley. Click here for my bb recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Medley and Tips for Roasting Veggies. .
Top it with crumbled goat cheese or sliced chicken held over from an earlier meal. And I’ll top that with toasted pine nuts or chopped nuts such as walnuts or pistachios
Voila! You’ve got a winner that will soon become one of your go-to meals when you don’t feel like cooking. This is assembling in the best and healthiest sense of the word. And while you’re still firing up that grill, hold on to the veggies that didn’t get eaten so that you can make this salad later. Remember to heat the veggies… the greens will wilt ever-so-slightly and the results will make everyone happy.
Warm Roasted Veggie Salad
Ingredients:Roasted Veggies 2 Italian eggplant, sliced lengthwise, and cut into 1″-chunks 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, and cut into 1″-chunks 1 red onion, sliced in half, and each half cut in 3 1 red pepper, cut in wide strips, then halved 2 T. olive oil 1/2 t. cumin 1/2 t. garlic powder 1/2 t. dried oregano salt and pepper Salad: 4 c. mixed lettuce (I used Romaine and arugula) 1 green onion, sliced 1 Persian cucumber, sliced 2 hearts of Palm, sliced -optional 1 celery stalk, sliced, optional 1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved – optional 1 T. balsamic vinegar 1 T. olive oil salt & pepper 2 T. goat cheese, crumbled (French feta is great too) 1 T. toasted pine nuts
To prepare the roasted veggies:
Pre-heat oven to 400ºF. Line roasting pans with foil. Drizzle pans with olive oil and toss veggies in oil. Add the seasonings and toss again. Roast for 30-40 minutes, tossing halfway-through. Veggies are done when they are at your desired level of tenderness. (I like them soft… not into the crisp-tender thing.)
To prepare the salad:
Toss greens with cucumbers and green onions. If you like, include celery and/or hearts of palm. Drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a bit of salt and pepper and toss. Arrange on a platter or set up on two plates.
Heat held-over roasted veggies in microwave for 1 minute. Add to the top of the greens.
Crumble goat cheese over the top. To finish, add pine nuts.
Arrange cherry tomato halves around the outside of the plate, if you like.
Serves 2 as a main dish.