There’s a lot happening these days. And when I have a lot going on, evening snacking hits a peak. My good friend tells me she has the same thing going on. All the time. So her solution is that she keeps a bowl of freshly washed berries in the fridge and when she feels the urge for a little something sweet, she goes at one or two or twenty to satisfy her craving. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. Our bodies love ’em. And so do our taste buds.
I bought extra raspberries at the farmers’ market. And before I munched up all of them, I wanted to use them in some kind of fruit bar. I was thinking of a shortbread-type bar where you make a shortbread dough, press half in the pan, do a fruit center with preserves, crumble the rest of the dough on top and bake.
Then I remembered a struesel bar I’d tried in the Baker’s Dozen Cookbook. It’s more rustic than a straight shortbread bar. It’s got oats so that means we can call it a dessert bar that’s eligible for breakfast standing!
If you don’t know about this cookbook and if you enjoy baking, it is politely asking you to make some room on your shelf for it right now. A group of terrific Northern California bakers (one of them was Marion Cunningham, who has a permanent spot in my heart) got together regularly, all baked their versions of the same thing and compared notes. Thus, a book was born. And a darn good one.
Preserves, dried fruit cooked a bit, fresh fruit. Or a combination. The opportunity to be creative is alive! alive!
Once they were cooled, I cut them into bars and froze them. An easy way for me to share the love.
Everybody loved these bars. Everyone from my mom to my postal carrier. OK, maybe not so objective. The participants in my market research all generally love what I give them. But seriously. They are good. I managed to sequester the last four in a container and took it with me when we went to visit the niece and family in Ohio. Said niece agreed. All three loved them.
And speaking of love, little Sam is beyond delicious. Not only does everyone want to kiss him, but he wants to run around kissing everyone he likes, which is most people. Every time he ran up to me, wrapped his delicious arms around my leg and kissed it, my heart melted. Every time he leaned in to plant a lip-smacking kiss on my cheek, same effect. And every time he took my arm in his little hands, bent over and landed a kiss on my hand….. sheer heaven. Now that’s what memories are made of.
Raspberry Streusel Oat Bars
adapted from Apricot Streusel Bars in Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
1 c. flour
1 c. old-fashioned oats (also called rolled oats)
¼ c. lightly-packed dark brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted OR ½ stick butter plus ¼ c. canola oil OR ½ c. oil
6 T. great-quality raspberry preserves (the kind you can’t wait to spread on a buttered piece of whole grain toast, or a fresh scone, or a warm biscuit)
16-20 fresh raspberries (about 1 scant cup)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º.
Line the bottom of an 8″ square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a bit extra foil on either end for handles. Lightly grease foil.
In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda, and salt. Add melted butter (or oil, if using) and cinnamon and stir well.
Press half the oat mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Spread raspberry preserves over oat mixture and top with fresh raspberries, evenly spaced over the preserves.
Add sliced almonds to remaining oat mixture, and mix.
Crumble remaining mixture on top and gently pat into the filling.
Bake until streusel is golden brown and is set in the center, about 30 minutes.
Allow to cool on rack for at least a couple of hours.
Lifting foil handles, remove from pan, cut into 16 or 20 bars.
Stores well in freezer or refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Note: Variations on raspberry can be apricot, or half a cup of coarsely chopped dates or pitted prunes.
bb note: Save all those yummy crumbs and keep them for ice cream or yogurt.
and the berries keep turning up – can’t get enough of them!
We’re looking at broccoli today. It’s time to re-acquaint ourselves with an old and maybe under-appreciated friend. Kale gets a ton of press these days. And that’s fine. Kale is Kool. But just because something is in vogue doesn’t mean we pass the broccoli on by at the market. Can you believe that a big ad agency, Victors & Spoils, was actually hired to create a campaign for our good buddy Broccoli? I kid you not. I read about it a couple of years back in the Sunday NY Times Magazine section (Nov. 3, 2013). They came up with slogans like:
The Meat of Any Salad
Since When Do Super Foods Have To Be Super Trendy?
The battle was ON between “alpha” broccoli and “trendy” kale and it only helped boost sales on both sides. (Anyone remember the old war between Coke and Pepsi, in which, according to the advertisers, there was no loser? Except for the general public drinking the ____. But that’s our business, not the advertisers.)
So I was leaning with my elbows on the counter, as I’m wont to do, thinking about the lovely broccoli I had just gotten from the market. It was sitting next to a beautiful bowl of tangerines. Green and orange… one of my favorite color combinations. Broccoli with citrus. Beautiful! Lovely as a side.
We’ll do a little something with Mr. Broccoli first. Steam it with a bit of fresh ginger and garlic.
And this combo is just as lovely presented on a bed of greens for a light salad. I generally like to throw a cooked veggie in my salads. And I often throw some type of fruit in my salads – diced apples, pears, orange or tangerine segments, strawberries, peaches, dried fruit. Whatever’s around… locally.
… and a light vinegar. Throw in a squeeze of lemon too.
Ta Da! Simplicity Rules!
As my good friend Ann, reminded me the other day, “I like to stick with the KISS system in life.” You know. Keep it simple, Stupid. Novio informs me that the term was initially coined in a recording studio. Whereever it was born, it’s definitely a good one to remember.
STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH TANGERINES
2 c. broccoli
1 clove garlic, sliced lengthwise
1″ piece of ginger, sliced lengthwise
2 small seedless tangerines
2 green onions, sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. orange Muscato vinegar (or any light fruity vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste
Steam broccoli whole or cut in pieces, along with ginger and garlic. If whole, steam the broccoli for 5 minutes and remove from heat to let rest for 2 minutes. If cut in bite-sized pieces, steam for 3-4 minutes, to your desired level of tenderness. Let rest for a minute. Place in bowl and set aside
Segment the tangerines and toss with broccoli. Sprinkle oil and vinegar over. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. That’s it. Seriously.
Delicious, wholesome food is not hard to do.
bb Note: There all all kinds of variations building on the broccoli-tangerine pairing:
- add spinach or greens to make a salad
- add a cup of cooked quinoa with or without cooked chicken for a main-dish salad
- add greens and goat cheese for a dairy salad
These simple and quick cookies are like pecan pie… hold the pie! Not as sticky or gooey, they are definitely chewy. Grab a bunch of pecan halves and get going-
I found the recipe for these gems in a Temple Sisterhood cookbook back when I was doing my Annual Passover Research. Yes, they are Passover-friendly. And they are also gluten-free. And they are also dairy-free.
Four ingredients in addition to the pecans. Yes, that’s right, only four. Amazing!
The awesome flavor comes from toasting the pecans first. And not for too long. We don’t like the smell of burnt nuts.
After testing this recipe, I came up with this:
Don’t chop the pecans- it takes forever to get them fine enough. Use your food processor instead. I used my mini food processor because I hate to get the big one out of the cabinet. My mini food processor has a chop button and a grind button. Stay away from the grind button or you will get nut butter. I did that in one of the batches. The texture wasn’t right.
Chop the nuts in small batches. I chopped the two cups in 4 batches. That will help you achieve the consistency you want.
Roll the balls small enough so that you get about 36 (a good number :)).
2 c. PLUS 3 dozen pecan halves
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 egg white
1 t. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 300° F. Toast all the nuts on an unlined baking pan for 4-5 minutes until fragrant.
Turn oven up to 375° F. Place parchment paper on 2 baking pans.
Use a mini food processor or a regular food processor to chop 2 cups of nuts finely. Be careful not to over chop and turn the nuts to butter. The easiest way to do this is to chop in small batches, pulsing until very finely chopped.
Place nuts in medium bowl and add brown sugar and salt. Add unbeaten egg white and stir.
Form mixture into small balls, with an eye on making 36 (you make get 30-32) . Place on prepared pans. Press a pecan half onto each ball and flatten it a bit as you do.
Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
These cookies freeze well.
PS A word on the china:
My parents bought this beautiful set that’s a child’s hot cocoa service for two in Vienna after the war. Not sure how they brought it over safely to New York but they did. My dad was always an excellent packer. My mom gave the set to her baby (me) and it holds a treasured place in my heart and in my hutch.
I baked these cookies as part of a whole dessert spread to celebrate with a few people who, together with me, could take a moment to appreciate a miracle– the 40th anniversary of my doing kidney dialysis–wow.
I think I’ll start pulling out this sweet set and make hot cocoa for me and my Novio every now and then.
Be well, everyone. Be strong. Be here.
Here I am, Dear Readers. Life On The Bridge, the documentary about my personal journey, has been keeping me on my toes. Check it out by clicking on the name. Plus, I’ve had the opportunity to be at more conferences. I’m speaking to doctors and nurses to get the conversation going about increasing the quality of life for people with ongoing health conditions. I know, I know. I can’t get stretched too thin. It would make me look like Gumby. I don’t want that. Neither does Novio.
So I’m finally back in the bb kitchen. Just in time to gear up for Passover. The bags filled with Passover goodies are steadily building in the freezer, including Chocolate Matzah Farfel Clusters (find the link below).
This granola recipe first floated on over to me years ago by way of a handout at a Judy Zeidler Cooking Class presented in the basement kitchen of the beautiful Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The kitchen is a part of Skirball that most people don’t get to visit. I took the elevator down and snaked my way through narrow hallways with exposed pipes and insulation on the ceiling. When I pushed the heavy door open to the kitchen, there was Judy, petite with short blond hair. energetically presiding over a group gathered around a counter. Judy’s somewhat of a kosher celebrity in LA – she’s done a lot – catering, cookbooks and restaurants. Zeidler’s Cafe at the Skirball? Yep, that’s hers too.
So, thank you Judy, I’ve been making all kinds of versions of this granola ever since…
I like to begin my toasting the matzoh farfel (or you can use matzoh, broken up very small), with almonds and coconut.
Then I add oil, honey, a pinch of salt and cinnamon.
In this version, I used golden raisins and diced apricots.
We don’t have to use overly sweetened and processed food for Passover. If we don’t do that during the year, why do it on Passover? Stick to wholesome food and you can’t go wrong.
Check out my Mains, Sides and Dessert Categories for ideas. You’ll find lots to choose from – here’s a sampling, modify for Passover ( i.e. omit use of certain seeds, like mustard) where you need to:
- Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
- Blood Orange and Fennel Salad
- Roasted Salmon with Quinoa and Butternut Squash
- Middle Eastern Chicken
- Dressed-Up Asparagus
- Crispy Potato Pancake Bites
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Walnuts
- Coffee-Almond Cookies
- Italian Pistachio Cookies
- Chocolate Matzoh Farfel Clusters (LOVE these!)
For More bb Goes Pesach Ideas, head on over to Matzoh Love
adapted from Judy Zeidler recipe
2 1/2 c. matzoh farfel
1 c. raw whole almonds, cut in half around the middle
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
3 T. honey
3 T. canola or safflower oil
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
bb notes- try with different dried fruit or nuts. Swap out honey for maple syrup.
Preheat oven to 300º.
Spread matzoh farfel, almonds and coconut on a foil-lined roasting pan and bake for 5 minutes.
Move into a mound on the pan and pour over the oil and honey. Sprinkle on the salt and cinnamon. Toss to completely coat the mixture. Hands work very well. Or you can always use a spoon or two.
Bake for 10 minutes and stir the granola.
Pop back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes, until the granola turns golden and is fragrant.
Remove from oven and sprinkle dried fruit over the granola while it’s still warm.
When it cools, transfer to glass jars or plastic containers. Keeps at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
Enjoy the granola with yogurt and fruit, or with milk or just by itself as a great snack!
N. and me celebrating 8 years of marriage with a glorious pizza from Gjelina in Venice. (Not Passover yet!)
or Part Two of what I served at the Food Bloggers LA Brunch.
This post can also be known as the continuing saga of Judy’s knee OR can one knee actually have so many crazy things going on inside it? In my case, a resounding YES! Oh, I’m just so unique- As of this post I am finally able to stand up and walk around a bit. This, dear readers, is most definitely a step in the right direction (pun resoundingly intended). And yes, I DID go to New Orleans (I took my chariot with me AKA wheelchair, also called wheelie) and had the terrific opportunity to speak at two conferences, motivating physicians and nurses to aim higher and encourage people to make their own choices whenever possible. (What can I tell you? I’m hard-wired… just look around at the women in my family… to get up and go.)
Speaking of choices – check out what else… cherry-vanilla almond granola… I served at the FBLA brunch by clicking here.
Back to featured recipe. What to serve for a winter fruit salad? There are apples, pears, winter citrus. OK But there’s also dried fruit. What about a combo? I’ll leave the winter citrus aside for now and go with the apples and pears.
Yes, I can soak the dried fruit and mix some raw fruit into it. That’s one possibility. Or let’s say I do a combination of a dried fruit compote and fresh fruit together. Not bad. So what do I use? I was thinking of dried apricots and figs. Then I thought of using apricots that have a richer flavor. Turkish apricots most definitely fit that bill. But I didn’t find any Turkish apricots in the market that day. What I did see were apricots that were sun-dried. Fantastic!
These apricots admittedly, look a little nasty on the outside. I tried one when I got home and they were very, very chewy. I mean very chewy. Kind of like chewing gum.
But, when I boiled water and added a couple of cinnamon sticks, a whole nutmeg, a little brown sugar and threw in a handful of these apricots, it yielded apricots that were soft, luscious, with a rich depth of flavor. Ahhhhh.
WINTER FRUIT SALAD
inspired by a Smitten Kitchen version
2 c. water
3 T. brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon (grated or peel cut into long strips)
2 t. pure vanilla (or use half of a vanilla bean & remove after cooking)
8 dried Turkish apricots (or sun-dried apricots), cut in half
4 dried figs, quartered (or a small handful of dried apple slices, cut-up)
Juice of the zested lemon
3 firm Bosc pears, cut into bite-sized chunks or slices, your choice
2 apples, Granny Smith, Pink Lady or Fuji, cut into chunks or slices, your choice
[See bb note below before cutting apples & pears]
2 T. pomegranate seeds (optional)
In a medium saucepan, add water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cook on medium heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the dried figs and apricots. Continue to cook until liquid is reduced by about half. Add vanilla. Remove cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and lemon zest (if in long peels). Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, peel and core pears and apples. Before cutting, refer to note below. Cut into bite-sized chunks or slice thinly lengthwise and place in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice.
Once the liquid with dried fruit has cooled, pour it over the apples and pears. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill it overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, ladle fruit into a serving bowl. Optional: sprinkle pomegranate seeds over each serving.
bb NOTE: If you want a more compote-like dish, cut apples into chunks and cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and add pears.
If you want more of a salad-type dish, cut apples and pears into thin slices, place in bowl with lemon juice and pour dried fruit mixture over. Either way, this dish is very satisfying… especially when mandelbread slices are served alongside (click here to see the recipe for this bb classic)!
Another bb NOTE: The dried fruit mixture is delicious so put a little aside to be used over oatmeal or yogurt!
It’s the New Year and… wait, we’re already halfway through January… I can’t let anything slip by you, can I?
I had the best of intentions, but my little body had other plans for me. You see, I’ve been busy preparing to go to New Orleans to give a couple of talks motivating physicians and nurses to become more fully engaged in their work to help achieve better outcomes in people with chronic conditions. That sounds like a lot of jargon, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s just about opening people’s hearts and minds a little bit more.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I think my right knee is the window to my little musculo-skeletal system. I tried to get up last week and nasty pain came screaming out of my knee. Stand on it? No way. Anti-inflammatories, x-rays, an MRI and a cortisone shot later, I’m finally re-surfacing. It’s a little grisly inside that knee, but it’s mine and I love it. If I don’t, who will? It needs some rest so I’m tooling around in a wheelchair this past week, bumping into Novio a lot. Maybe my knee wanted to give me some R&R before I go. Maybe it couldn’t see walking all around a convention center. Maybe I have an active imagination. We’ll see how it goes.
Meanwhile, I’m finally here to report this:
My Food Blogger LA friends were heading over to our house for a beginning-of-the-year brunch. Since my kitchen is kosher, I planned a healthy vegetarian brunch, no meat and no shellfish. I knew it would be amazing. And it was: Salads with kale, black-eyed peas and more, Pears poached in saffron sauce, Two-Nut Phish Salad (a creative vegan take on tuna salad made with garbanzos, almonds and tuna salad-type add-ins), Baked French Toast, Galette des Rois (French King’s Cake). Wow. Special thanks to Nancy and our friends at Melissa’s Produce for providing all the terrific winter citrus (check out the bowl filled with Pixie tangerines in the middle of the table).
We always have a theme and this month’s theme was Visions to Reality… turned out to be a relaxed open discussion covering why we began our blogs, what we’re up to now and visions for the future.
My blog has to shimmy over a bit and share the room with my new project, the documentary I am busy with these days . It’s called Life On The Bridge and it’s about overcoming challenges and creating joy. We just developed the website that goes with it and…. well, go check it out here, spend a little time and you’ll get why it’s going full speed ahead.
Back to the brunch. I wanted to serve homemade granola. Offer fixings to make a parfait… fruit and yogurt topped with super-delicious granola. I looked in my pantry and spotted an unopened container of dried sour tart cherries, that didn’t get used over the baking adventures of the past month. Cherry-Vanilla. An automatic association. Plus, I like to say it. What’s a natural combo with cherries? Definitely almonds. Voila! A new version of granola! Priscilla has a very similar version on her great blog She’s Cookin. I used the same technique she uses and heated the liquid mixture before folding it in.
we can’t go wrong with this combo
CHERRY-VANILLA ALMOND GRANOLA
adapted from shescookin.com
3 c. rolled oats (old-fashioned oatmeal)
1 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 c. canola, olive or grape seed oil (a mixture works too)
1/4 c. maple syrup
3 T. light brown sugar
2 t. vanilla (you can use 1 t. vanilla… but I like a lot)
3/4 t. salt
3/4 c. dried sour tart cherries, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Place oats on an unlined rimmed baking sheet.and bake for 8 minutes. Add coconut, slivered almonds and pepitas. Stir and bake for 6 more minutes.
Meanwhile heat up oil, maple syrup, brown sugar over a low flame and stir to blend. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Place oat-nut-seed mixture in large bowl. Pour warmed liquid mixture over the top. Add salt. Blend well until dry ingredients are thoroughly coated.
Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place granola in a flat layer on the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned.
Do not stir to create chunks as well as loose granola.
Cool in pan. Sprinkle cut-up dried cherries over the top.
Using a spatula, break into pieces. By using this technique (instead of stirring it every 10 minutes) you will end up with some chunks. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with too many chunks because I ate most of them standing at the counter.
Allow granola to come to room temperature before transferring to storage container(s). You may want to lightly tent with waxed paper or paper towel to discourage passers-by (including yourself) from decreasing the inventory.
Stores well in the refrigerator for a few weeks,
Excellent over yogurt and fresh or cooked fruit. Terrific mixed with cold cereal, oatmeal or any hot cereal. Of course,it’s great as a snack.
Eat in Joy
Protect Your Knees
Sing to the tune of “Where have all the flowers gone?”
Where have all the people gone? Munching on rich desserts everyone…. Oy vay, the sugar that’s in me… oy vay the su-gar that’s in me…
Forgive me dear Readers, we just returned from a Chanukah party where Novio was quite the bandleader with his group, Jolt City (what a voice that Novio has, what fingers, playing those songs on the keyboard, not to mention the rest of the guys- Phil (guitar), Mike (drums), Eli (bass) and Chazzy (super-cool sax). Why weren’t you on the dance floor with me? Well, next time – the guys were great! And in between, you could find me at the dessert table -so that’s why my brain is a little odd right now – it’s the sugar!
I can’t exactly classify these little babies that are featured here as healthy. But I am not one of those people who eliminates things (like this) completely from my world. I used to, but it got kind of old. I believe in moderation (or at least aiming at it) with an occasional splurge. This is definitely a splurge item but I do keep an eye on portion control. And that’s how I deal.
You generally can’t go wrong with Alice Medrich. This recipe is right out of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies (how’s that for a title?). If I want to splurge, I proceed quickly to that book. Although Alice, you do have some amazing and healthier treats in there too, like your Fruit-Nut Bars.
So back to portion control. One easy thing to do is make the bars smaller. Also, make the brownie top a little lighter by using less chocolate and butter. A little trim here. A little trim there. Everyone is busy oohing and aahing and no one notices anything.
I’m into butter made from grass-fed cows.
Up with sunshine – hurray for Vitamin D!
Macadamia nuts are more flavorful when you chop them.
Back to the chocolate part of our programming
… and “over the top, it is”
(insert your best Grouch Marx impression here)
They came with me to the Food Bloggers LA Cookie Swap
where every cookie was delicious! I also brought the Lemon Rosemary Biscotti (below), set up by the Brownie Bites (for Lemon Rosemary Biscotti recipe, click here)
Macadamia Shortbread Brownie Bites
slightly adapted Alice Medrich’s
5 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c. untoasted macadamia nuts, salted or unsalted, medium-finely chopped
4 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 c. unbleached flour
Preheat the oven to 350° and position rack in lower third section.Line a 9″-square baking pan with two layers of aluminum foil with corners tucked in snug and the bottom layer cut a bit longer with the ends hanging over (for easy removal).
To make the crust, combine melted butter with sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Stir in the flour to make a very soft dough.
On a piece of aluminum foil, pat the dough into an even square layer slightly smaller than the bottom of the 9-inch square baking pan you’re using. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the nuts and press them in. Slide the dough on foil on a cookie sheet and place in freezer while preparing brownie layer.
For the brownie top, using a medium glass bowl, melt together chocolate and butter in microwave. Take care not to overheat the chocolate. Melt for one minute at full power, and then in increments of 1/2 minute at half-power. Stir at each interval to combine until smooth. It should take about 1 1/2-2 minutes.
With a wooden spoon, stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Add one egg, stirring until incorporated. Stir in second egg. Sprinkle flour over the batter and lightly mix until all the flour is incorporated and batter is starting to come away from the sides of the bowl.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Invert it, nut side down, into the bottom of the lined pan and remove the top foil. Let the dough soften for a few minutes. Then press evenly against the bottom of the pan, making sure to reach the edges of the pan and into the corners using the tips of your fingers.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is lightly brown all over. Spread the brownie batter evenly over the hot crust and bake for 20 minutes, or until the brownies begin to show fine cracks. Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack.
Remove brownies from the pan by lifting the ends of the foil and transferring to a cutting board. Cut into 25 squares with a heavy knife.
The brownies can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.