When it comes to Chanukah, families divide along interesting lines. You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys? Well, it’s not quite like that. But there is this business of the graters vs. the shredders when it comes to latke (potato pancake)- making. Could be that versus is too strong a word. But the two camps are definitely opinionated as to which produces a superior latke.
Karen and Yoni (my niece and her hubby/my nephew) have it figured out. She, from generations of graters and he, a staunch shredder. They both cook. Excellent. They’ve simply made a deal to take turns making his/her own version. Whoever doesn’t cook, eats the favorite of the other. Seems very democratic.
Enter the Little, yet mighty, Crispy Latke Bite. A highly bi-partisan little guy, this one turns out delicious whether he’s grated or shredded. I had a gathering last weekend where I served both. No one said anything and I had staunch members of both camps present. All the little bites were devoured in record time. Novio and I only managed to get our hands on one each. They are that good.
If making a small batch, I like the results achieved with the humble box grater the best. What can I say – I’m old-fashioned. Plus, I try to always get help in this department. Otherwise, it would be a scene with my little fingers. If the batch is larger than a couple of potatoes, then, if you’ve got one, I suggest hauling out the old food processor and giving it a go. Chop onions first using the (default) knife blade and pulse on/off until onions are in tiny pieces.
Place onions in a large colander with a bowl underneath to catch excess liquid.
Have everything ready to go and move quickly to assemble the batter.
Many place the potatoes in a large bowl of cold water once they’re peeled. Be sure to minimize excess liquid by drying the potatoes well with paper towels before processing. I was trying to move quickly and skipped the soaking step, which I believe, not only helps keep potatoes white but removes some starch (which some people don’t like but others do – you know how people are). As you can see, there’s a bit of pink action happening here. Oops.
Grate in 2 to 3 batches, depending on how many potatoes you’re using. Place grated potatoes in colander with onions. Drain off extra liquid.
A little chopped parsley adds a note of brightness.
Grease nonstick mini muffin pans well with oil. I don’t have 2 non-stick 24-cup tins, so I just did it in two batches. No sweat. If you happen to own two (I’m impressed), then by all means.
A good dark nonstick pan is important; otherwise the muffins tend to stick. A dark baking pan browns better than a light one. Do you notice that? That’s why I do cakes that I don’t want to brown too quickly in lighter aluminum pans. When I want browning, darker is the way to go.The diameter of each muffin is about 2 inches – this creates a very pleasing size; just enough for two little bites.
Spoon batter into muffin pans. Fill each cavity to the top, and lightly smooth the batter flat. Optional- brush a little oil on the tops. If using regular-sized muffin pans, fill each cavity half full. For the larger version, increase cooking time by 4-5 minutes.
Bake the little ones for about 30 minutes. Latke Bites are ready when the outside of the bites are golden brown and crispy. Run a blunt knife around each one to help remove them from the pans. Place on large plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream. Or both.
Wow , the options! This is a terrific idea for a passed appetizer or as a starter or an offering for a buffet. A mix of potato and sweet potato, or all sweet potato, or zucchini or zucchini-carrot-potato or parsnip potato or cauliflower-potato. I think there’s a call for another post (or three) on this topic,,,
Karen, Yoni, now there’s a third way coming along for you.
CRISPY LATKE BITES
Ingredients:4 large potatoes peeled (Russet or Idaho) 1 large yellow onion, cut into chunks 2 large eggs ¼ c. flour (or matzo meal or a gluten-free alternative) ½ t. salt ½ t. baking powder 1 T. Italian parsley, finely chopped Safflower, canola or grapeseed oil for greasing pan or use cooking spray 2-3 t. oil (see above for best oil choices) for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Grease nonstick mini muffin tins well. The diameter of each muffin tin should be about 2”. The dark non-stick tins help make these latke bites extra crisp.
Chop onions in food processor with basic knife (AKA “S” blade) by pulsing until finely chopped. Place in colander over a large bowl to catch excess liquid. Or, use box grater on the small (not tiny) grating side.
Place potatoes in food processor and process by pulsing until just grated . Or use box grater on either the grater or shredder side. Your choice.
Place potatoes in colander with onions. Squeeze out excess liquid.
Add eggs, flour, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle in chopped parsley. Quickly stir to blend.
Fill mini-muffin tins to the top, using a spoon. Lightly smooth batter flat. If using regular sized muffin tins, fill halfway.
Using a teaspoon, drizzle tops with oil.
Bake for 30 minutes, until tops are golden. Run a blunt knife around them and pop them out onto paper-towel lined plates.
Makes 48 latke bites.
Latke bites can be frozen in a Ziploc bag or plastic container (that’s another big plus for these bites!). No need to defrost; simply place in a 400° oven on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until warm and crispy, about 10 minutes.
bb tip: Homemade applesauce is easy! Simply peel and cut a half-dozen apples into small chunks. Place in a large-enough saucepan with a tablespoon or two of water. Bring water to boil (that will be quick) and cook, partially covered, for about twenty minutes, until soft. Once cooled a bit, mash with potato masher to your favorite consistency – chunky or smooth. I like using Fuji apples and I go for chunky. A cinnamon stick or a few dashes cinnamon? If you like! (I love cinnamon, but I’m a purist with latkes – so apples only please).
Hurray for Latke Bites!
And for a special treat, check out Chanukah Blessings, one of my favorite contemporary Chanukah songs by Barenaked Ladies…
click here to listen and enjoy.
I developed this recipe while I was doing exercises in the pool. It’s a very cool pool. What I mean by that is it’s warm. It’s heated just right. And kept clean with a salt solution, not chlorine. There are physical therapists working with people, occasional classes and people doing their own program. Like me.
Yes, I tend to talk food while in the pool. Big surprise, huh? So, I’m talking to one of the physical therapists there (who’s Italian) who knows about ricotta. She agreed that Italian cheesecakes are lighter and less sweet than your standard doorstop-style American cheesecakes. God bless America & New York but I have to pass on NY Cheesecake. More than a bite weighs me down. And I don’t want to be weighed down. And I don’t want to weigh others down.
I have a gathering coming up and December is also my Novio’s birthday month. He loves cheesecake. I’m thinking pumpkin. I’m thinking lowfat Ricotta. I’m thinking Neufchatel, which is a lower fat block-style cream cheese that I use when any dish calls for a block of cream cheese (cheesecakes, rugelach, some kugels).
Warm spices for the pumpkin. Maybe a bit of freshly grated nutmeg too.
Graham crackers have long held a soft spot in my heart. With peanut or almond butter. With PB&J. With Nutella. Plain. Broken up over ice cream. As the base for all kinds of desserts. And instead of using the Cuisinart to finely process the crackers into crumbs, I’m going to pull something way lighter out from the cabinet. My French rolling pin. So smooth and lovely to use. Just throw broken up graham crackers into a Ziploc plastic bag, seal, and crush them up. You’ll have crumbs in no time.
Some people use confectioner’s sugar to add to the crumbs. Others use regular or superfine sugar. I tried it different ways and only use a small amount, so type of sugar didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
This is what the crust looks like with just graham crackers.
Then my mind drifts over to pecans. I love pecans but won’t deal with pecan pies. Ain’t my style. I’ll add some finely chopped pecans to the graham crackers to enrich the crust.
This is what the crust looks like when you add finely chopped pecans.
Clearly, I made more than one batch–a terrible hardship for me, Novio and friends.
Pour cheesecake batter onto pre-baked crust.
And I’ll bypass a sour cream topping (get it? bypass? sour cream? never mind…) and top the cheesecake with roughly chopped pecans.
You can simply use pecan halves. One per bar, please.
Or scatter some roughly chopped pecans all over the top. No need to toast the pecans first. They’ll toast during the baking process.
Water helps my creative juices flow, whether I’m in the pool or in the shower. Inspiration tends to bubble up during those times. And while driving in the car… when I leave space for an AHA moment, it might even come! And come it did. Between the water and the car, a luscious, potentially rich dessert was seriously lightened by using a mix of ingredients that didn’t sacrifice flavor one iota. In creating bars rather than offering wedges, you can serve up a bit of heaven, without sending people there prematurely.
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE BARS
Ingredients:CRUST 10 squares graham crackers (150 g.) , crushed 1/4 c. (50 g.) pecan pieces, finely chopped 2 T. Baker’s ultrafine sugar 3 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled 2 T. lowfat (1% or 2%) milk FILLING 8 oz. lowfat (Neufchatel) cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 c. Baker’s ultrafine sugar 1 15 oz. (2 c.) container lowfat (part-skim) Ricotta cheese 3 eggs 1 15 oz. can organic pumpkin 1 t. cinnamon 1/2 t. ground ginger 1/2 t. allspice 1/8 t. cloves a few grates of fresh nutmeg or 1/8 t. nutmeg 1 T. flour 2 T. maple syrup TOPPING: 1/2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped or 28 pecan halves
Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
Break up graham crackers, place in Ziploc bag, seal, and crush with rolling pin to a fine crumb. Alternately, you can use the Cuisinart fitted with a metal blade and process crackers until fine. Chop or process pecans finely (don’t over-process; you’ll end up with paste). Place crumbs and nuts in bowl. Add sugar and melted butter. Add milk one spoon at a time and stir until completely moistened. You want the mixture to clump together when pressed between your fingers.
Transfer the graham cracker mixture to a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan and evenly pat into the bottom and a little up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Beat cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar in a stand mixer or a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy (about 3 minutes), scraping down the sides occasionally. Add ricotta and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides down after each addition. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin with salt, flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and either freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg. Add maple syrup and mix to combine. Blend into cheese mixture in large bowl.
Scrape the filling into the pan, spreading evenly over the crust. Top with pecan halves, arranging so that you will have one in the center of each bar. Or, sprinkle roughly chopped nuts over the top. I think I like the latter method better – you can enjoy the pecan-pumpkin-cheese flavors together in every bite.
Bake until barely set in the middle and the edges are light brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.
If not eaten that day, you can refrigerate for up to 2 days. Works well frozen too so you can prepare in advance; always a good thing. After cooling the bars, cut into squares and place in one layer in shallow plastic containers. Defrost in fridge, from a few hours before to the night before serving.
Makes 28 bars.
Blue, blue my world is blue. Blue is my world, my world without you.
Blueberry fields forever.
I can tell you this. I go to the Farmer’s Market. I buy local. I buy seasonal. But, as in life, there are always exceptions that fall, or in this case, roll outside the norm. We’re talking blueberries, little bundles of Blu-Joy. I eat them pretty much year-round.
I start my day with them. On cereal. On cottage cheese. In plain yogurt with a bit of maple syrup or honey and homemade granola.
And I also like to play around with blueberries. In baked French Toast. In muffins, coffee cakes, crisps, crostatas and gallettes. And cupcakes. Do you know I like cupcakes? I do.
Cupcakes sometimes get a bad rap.
Which brings me to my brother-in-law, Bill. He’s got an issue with cupcakes. He doesn’t like them… What, you say? How can anyone NOT like cupcakes? But you know what? He’s got a point. Often, the cupcake has to be sturdy enough to balance a whole lot of frosting on its head. And all the tweaking that needs to be done to achieve that sturdy texture can’t help but sometimes sacrifice natural flavor and lightness. If you have little ones in your life (or big ones) (or maybe you yourself have done this), then you’re aware of the phenomenon of cupcakes tossed aside with much of the frosting eaten off the top. Most of the poor cupcake is still stuck to the paper.
I’m into mini-cupcakes. And I’m also into the flavorings coming from the cupcake itself.
Yes, some may disagree with my not being so into frosting. That’s cool. I don’t like kids grabbing at cupcakes and inhaling the frosting and tossing 7/8ths of the cupcake aside. A cupcake is not a vehicle that conveys frosting to the mouth. A cupcake is not a plate. A plate is a plate. Allow me to share another way. Let’s just throw a little toasted coconut on top and call it a day. We can agree to disagree.
This will turn things around for you. A cupcake where the cake itself is the thing.
And when I say coconut, I mean serious coconut- this isn’t coconut or even double coconut- we’re talking a 1-2-3-4 punch of coconut.
Flaked (shredded) coconut for toasting, finely shredded coconut mixed throughout the batter, coconut oil as the added fat, and coconut milk (light coconut milk has filtered water added to reduce the total fat content), replacing a dairy alternative (yogurt or milk).
Man, we packed these little babies full of coconut flavor. Add to that, a bunch of fresh blueberries stirred into the batter in the final mix of ingredients and you wind up with a thing of joy… a burst of fresh blueberry and coconut.
It yields a cupcake with a very light crumb- so light that I would recommend sitting down with a napkin or little plate holding the cupcake. I’d even consider a little fork.
For your next celebration, instead of a three-layer cake, consider cupcakes or better yet, make mini cupcakes which are about one-third the size. And bypass the whole artery-clogging frosting route altogether. Top with a bit of toasted coconut, toasted nuts, seeds or a little bit of streusel topping.
I used only part of the 13 ½ ounce can of light coconut milk. Once the cupcakes were in the oven, I wanted to see about how much was left and figure out what to do with it. My friend Glenda suggested cooking rice on it. In the moment that I was reaching across the counter for it, I realized it was further away from me than I thought. I saw what was going to happen in the millisecond before. That ever happen to you? Not so bad, my pants, top, sandals, toes got a dose of coconut milk. That’s alright. Coconut is very moisturizing for the skin and I’m sure it is for fabric too (not to mention the wood floor it puddled on). P.S. Had enough left to cook some quinoa with it – had run out of rice.
BLUEBERRY COCONUT MINI CUPCAKES
Ingredients:3/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour plus 1 T. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. Baker’s superfine sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature ½ c. virgin coconut oil ¼ c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 t. vanilla extract 3/4 c. light coconut milk 1 c. fresh blueberries, rinsed and gently patted dry
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast the large shredded coconut in a medium baking pan. Be sure they are spread out in the pan for even baking. Bake for 3 minutes, until just golden. They will have time to toast more once they’re on the cupcakes. Set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
Either grease two 24-cup muffin tins or line them with papers.
In a small bowl, toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour.
In a small saucepan, warm the coconut oil until it melts. It should still be on the cool side. Or barely heat the 1/2 cup of oil for a few seconds in the microwave. Another alternative is to place the closed jar of coconut oil in a bowl of very warm water (it won’t effect the rest of the oil in the jar).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir in the 1/4 cup of finely shredded coconut. Mix half the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Mix in the coconut milk. Mix the rest of the flour mixture into the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.
Divide batter among prepared muffin cups then sprinkle the tops with toasted coconut.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free, about 15-16 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and let cool.
Yield: 48 mini cupcakes
Note: If you are doing regular-sized cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes. You should get about 16 cupcakes.
Best eaten that day or the next day. These cupcakes freeze well.
Billy, prepare to be enlightened.
Blueberry production is on the rise. Looks like people are eating a whole lot more blueberries these days. I learned this on my blueberry field trip, courtesy of the Blueberry Council.
There’s a lot of carrying-on (in a good way) that Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlap this year. There’s even a coined term being tossed all over the Internet regarding it that I won’t repeat because I don’t like the way it sounds. So I’m not going to say it and you can’t make me.
But the interplay of the two festivals made me think about all things orange and traditional foods used for Jewish Shabbat dinners and festivals. Tzimmes is a common side dish that is prepared a gazillion ways with carrots and sweetness always included. There might be honey or sugar or raisins or prunes or some other type of dried fruit. Tori, AKA The Shiksa in the Kitchen, offers a good recipe for tzimmes . Check it out on her food blog.
Carrot coins are lovely. The circles look great on a plate. Why not pair them with a similarly-colored veggie. Aha! Thanksgiving! Yams! Of course!
Thought I would give them a Moroccan influence. Ever since Novio and I returned from Israel, I’m even fonder of incorporating Middle Eastern flavors. Cinnamon and cumin added to a bit of brown sugar creates a wonderful and warm boost to the vegetables.
Reducing the cooking liquid by half intensifies the flavors. It’s a like a booster shot. Between the seasonings and the liquid reduction, your veggies will be happening!
Morrocan Carrots & Yams
Ingredients:1 lb. carrots (or about 10 medium), peeled and cut 1/2 inch rounds 2 medium yams, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks 1 1/2 c. water 1 T. canola or grapeseed oil 1 T. light brown sugar 1/2 t. cinnamon 1/4 t. cumin salt & pepper
Combine carrots, yams, water and salt & pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.
Add sugar, cinnamon, cumin and oil and cook uncovered, for 10 more minutes, or until soft. This is most definitely not one of those crisp-tender dishes.
Remove carrots and yams with slotted spoon to serving dish. Cook remaining liquid until reduced by half. Pour over carrots and toss gently.
Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.
Recipe can easily be multiplied. Do yourself a favor. Get help with all the peeling if you need it.
Novio and I just returned from a blueberry field trip. Actually, it wasn’t very far afield. OK, it wasn’t in a field at all. It was in fellow food blogger Erika Kerekes’s house.
Erika writes the blog, In Erika’s Kitchen, and invited Food Bloggers Los Angeles members to come and enjoy A Very Blueberry Thanksgiving, sponsored by the US Highbush Blueberry Council. (View lots of good nutrition and recipe information on their website – simply place cursor over their highlighted name and click.)
Here is the menu she presented. Prepare to be inspired by this meal:
Blueberry mulled cider
Mashed potato pops with blueberry ketchup
Pumpkin soup shooters with dried blueberry dust
Butternut squash salad with pepitas, butter lettuce and blueberry vinaigrette (featured)
Pulled turkey sliders with blueberry chutney
Roast turkey breast with blueberry green apple salsa (featured)
Chili-rubbed sweet potatoes with dried blueberries
Brussels sprouts with blueberry balsamic glaze
Blueberry “stuffin’ muffins”
Pumpkin pound cake trifle with blueberry sauce
I’m a big fan of adding roasted vegetables to salads and butternut squash is a favorite. Another way to make a salad come alive is to incorporate a fresh fruit & toasted nut (or seed) combo. When I saw this salad on the menu, I knew it would be a winner. It was.
Butternut Squash Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Recipe by Erika Kerekes for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
Ingredients:1 cup dried blueberries 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided ¾ teaspoon salt, divided ½ large butternut squash 1 large red onion 1 large head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into pieces 1 cup fresh blueberries ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) freshly ground pepper to taste
First, make the blueberry balsamic vinaigrette. (This step can be done several days ahead.) Put the dried blueberries and balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer about 30 minutes, until the vinegar is reduced by about a third and the blueberries are plump and rehydrated. Let the mixture cool a bit, then put it in a blender with 1 cup of olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend until very smooth. If working ahead, store in the refrigerator until you begin the rest of the steps below.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Peel the butternut squash with a vegetable peeler and cut the flesh into 1-inch chunks. Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Put the vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Roast in the oven until brown around the edges and very tender, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to just warm.
Make a bed of lettuce in a serving bowl or on a large serving platter. Mound the squash and onions in the middle. Sprinkle the blueberries and pumpkin seeds on top. Drizzle the entire salad generously with the blueberry balsamic vinaigrette in a zig-zag pattern. Serve immediately.
Serves 8-10 as a first course.
Turkey and Apples are a wonderful combo. I have a friend who loves to spread applesauce on sliced turkey. The idea of creating a fresh salsa with apples, onions and blueberries is a healthful alternative to some of the tummy-stuffers appearing on many Thanksgiving tables.
Boneless Roast Turkey Breast with Blueberry Salsa
Recipe by Erika Kerekes for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
Ingredients:2 boneless turkey breast halves, skin on (about 2 pounds per half
2 teaspoons garlic salt
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups Granny Smith apple, skin on, cut into ½-inch dice (about 2 large apples)
1 cup fresh jicama, peeled, cut into ½-inch dice
1 cup red onion, cut into ½-inch dice
juice of 1 lime
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Spray a shallow roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the turkey breast halves in the pan skin side up. Sprinkle the turkey breast halves with the garlic salt and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the turkey at least 2 hours or up to overnight. This dry-brining lets the garlic salt permeate the meat and will help to keep the turkey moist.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 ° F.
3. Remove the plastic wrap and pour the melted butter over the turkey breast halves, using your fingers or a pastry brush to make sure the entire surface of the turkey is coated. Roast the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (start checking after an hour; it will probably take about 90 minutes). Tent the pan with foil and let rest at least 10 minutes.
4. While the turkey is roasting, make the salsa: In a large bowl, mix together the blueberries, apple, jicama, onion, lime juice, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let sit at room temperature until the turkey is done.
5. To serve, cut the turkey into ¼-inch slices. Place the slices on a serving platter, fanning them gently. Spoon a line of the salsa down the middle of the turkey breast slices. Put the rest of the salsa in a serving bowl next to the platter.
A Very Blueberry Thanksgiving. Now, that’s my kind of field trip. Thanks to Erika for developing these delicious recipes and for a very fun-filling afternoon. And thanks to Wines of Rioja for supplying us with delicious wine pairings along with information about the wine produced in the Rioja region of Spain.
click here for Bumbleberry Coffee Cake,
here for Blackberry Cobbler (swap out the blackberries for blueberries),
or here for Lemon Yogurt Poppy Seed Cake (swap out the poppy seeds for blueberries).
Bumbleberry Breeze loves Blueberries.
Blue is a good color for Chanukah.
So my dear dear (and I mean dear) friend/soul sister Laura AKA Lulu (of Lulu’s Apple n’ Honey Cake fame) came for my birthday. We haven’t seen each other for almost 3 1/2 years, and that was for my niece Karen’s wedding. It was a very exciting and beautiful time. And it was also a tough time. I was getting over a big hurdle and did everything in my power to make it out of the hospital to be at that wedding. And be at that wedding I was. Me and lots of other people. Lulu, her hubby, Bobby and lovely daughter Dora were there, as part of the NY Delegation (there was also a sizable Israel Delegation, but that’s another tale).
Three years before, in 2007, Lulu and Bobby and both their kids, Dora & Alex, were on their way to LA to share in the day that my Novio and I got married. There was a crazy freaky snowstorm that succeeded in closing down not one but the three major New York/New Jersey airports. Very disappointing all the way around. This was in March, mind you. When was the last time that happened? So they were determined to make it to the niece’s wedding.
One-to-one time? We didn’t have a whole lot of it in 2010. It was now high time for Juju to get a dose of Lulu and vice versa. We became best friends in the 6th grade and through all these years, our connection is just as strong, if not stronger.
She discovered Zumba a few years ago and it totally meshes with her passion for music and dancing. She’s dancing away a few nights a week after work and man, does she look good. It’s effected her eating patterns. She eats a good breakfast and a solid lunch. Then, by the time she gets home after Zumba, she just wants something light, like Greek yogurt with fruit and granola. Nothing too heavy. And no constant trips to the kitchen (as I have a tendency to do, funny how things change).
I know her eating habits. I wanted her to be happy. We had good robust coffee waiting for her, along with lots of fruit, yogurt, homemade granola and plenty of love and hugs. And I prepared a few things in the days before her arrival that I knew she’d enjoy.
- Yellow Split Pea Soup
- Kasha Varnishkes
- Roasted Vegetables
- Flavors of the Middle East Chicken
- Pumpkin-Raisin-Walnut Muffins
- Blondies (there was after all, a birthday to celebrate)
She’d never had quinoa before – time she and quinoa got to know each other. I was only too happy to make the introduction. I do quinoa all kinds of ways. Click here for an example. Or here. Or maybe here.
Broccoli and lemon were a light choice to mix with the quinoa that would balance well with some of the other dishes I’d prepared.
Shocking the barely-cooked broccoli in a bowl of ice water retains color. Remove after a couple of minutes. Don’t want them to catch a cold.
To add more color, you could throw in some tomatoes.
Or not. I kept it simple… green only.
Lulu’s very easy when it comes to food, just don’t give her any raw garlic or onion (and let’s not discuss fish). Thought maybe I could slip in a bit of green onion. Sure enough she spotted it, but didn’t appear to mind.
All in all, she was pretty pleased with what she was fed.
As you can imagine, the three days with Lulu flew. She mailed me a T-shirt ahead of her visit that states: CAUTION: PRONE TO SUDDEN OUTBURSTS OF SONG. That Lulu knows me so well. Since her arrival, there have been numerous outbursts (of song, that is). For the next approximately 68 hours, we talked and laughed and cried and laughed and ate and talked and ate some more- you get it… We managed to go out and see my mom and nephew somewhere in there. My Novio was extremely generous and seemed to only appear for selected mealtimes. He is very good about sharing.
We promised not to let too much time go between visits. She’s an empty-nester now and can arrange things a bit easier than before. “Every year, year and a half?” I asked. “Yeah, maybe every year and a half to two.” The next day, I received the following email: “… came to the conclusion we should probably do this every year to year and a half, the very least.” Say no more, Lulu, say no more.
Quinoa with Broccoli and Lemon
Ingredients:1 c. quinoa 1 c. vegetable broth 1 c. water 1 c. broccoli, cut up into florets 2 T. olive oil 3 T. fresh herbs: green onion, Italian parsley and dill, chopped zest of 1 small lemon juice of 1/2 lemon salt & pepper Optional: Add 1 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes or 1 chopped Roma tomato or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Add heat by sprinkling on a few red pepper flakes.
Bring liquid and broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat, add the quinoa, increase heat and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered until liquid is just absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for five minutes.
Meanwhile, cook broccoli in boiling salted water (just barely covering vegetables) for 3 minutes. Immediately remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water. After 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon.
Fluff quinoa and place in serving bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and stir through. Cut drained broccoli into smaller pieces and add to quinoa, giving it a very light toss.
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main. As with all these types of dishes, feel free to play around with ingredients. A little feta crumbled on top would turn this into a lovely lunch. Strips of chicken breast on top is a possibility for an easy supper.
You know I don’t post rat-a-tat-tat style but this one is really an addendum to the previous persimmon post (say that ten times fast).
There are two main varieties of persimmons. Fuyus are apple-shaped and eaten when firm but not rock-hard.
Acorn-shaped Hachiya persimmons are eaten when they are very ripe and soft. Eat them too early and your tongue will meet up with a most unpleasant astringent-like effect. We don’t want that for you. Wait until they’re soft.
Here are a few ideas for eating Fuyu persimmons other than sliced and eaten out-of-hand or including them in all manner of salads (for Persimmon and Pear Salad, click here).
Marion Cunningham has a recipe in her Supper Book called Maple Persimmons. Very Simple. Here’s how it goes:
Ingredients:1 persimmon 2 T. heavy cream 2 T. maple syrup
Peel persimmon and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in dessert dish and pour maple syrup and cream over the top. Serve chilled. That’s it.
Marion says that this dessert is one to rave about.
Though I love the stuff on one level, I try to steer clear of keeping heavy cream in the house. You understand. So I decided to try subbing almond milk. Not quite. But I tried. I also thought 2 tablespoons each of cream and maple syrup was too too much, so I used half the amount of each.
I had two rather unwilling testers – hubby (aka Novio) and my mother. I reluctantly concur with them – it was a rather odd combo.
The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Amelia Saltsman is a wonderful collection of seasonal recipes that’s filled with all kinds of great ideas. It was there that I spotted a tip for a simple frozen persimmon treat. Cut the persimmon in quarters or slices and place in a Ziploc to freeze. Remove from freezer a half-hour before enjoying. The tip was meant for Hachiyas or Tamopans, yielding a cold, custardy texture.
I tried it with Fuyus and really enjoyed the subtle flavor and creamsicle-like quality.
I think I will give the maple persimmons another go, this time with the real deal but still use half the amount of cream and maple syrup. After all, Marion hasn’t steered me wrong yet.