Archive for September, 2011

I just finished a gorgeous Challa for Rosh Hashana. The Challa is baked around a small cup, and at the dinner table honey is placed in the cup. Isn’t it a brilliant idea? (How did people cook before the Internet?)

The recipe for the challa is:

1 kg bread flour
50 gr yeast (I use Shimrit, used like fresh yeast but no need to proof)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salt
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1.75 cups water (380 ml),  lukewarm
A few cardamom seeds, crushed (I didn’t put this, but it was in the original recipe – maybe I’ll try it sometime)

Knead everything into a dough. Knead 5 minutes more. Let rise until doubled. Divide in half. One half, divide in three parts, and do a braid from them. Wrap around a small glass bowl or cup. The other half, split into two. One quarter split into 10 small buns, the other split into 5 medium ones (so we’ve got one large round challa, 10 buns small buns, 5 medium total). Arrange on a baking platter, cover, and wait until doubled again. Dab with egg. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake small buns for 10-15 minutes and large challah for 20 minutes, until brown.

This actually resulted in  a bit more than 1600 gr of dough, so for the first time I performed Hafrashat Challa. It was very moving, and I added a special prayer for the little boy of our friends, who is still battling cancer. May he be blessed with good health.

And some nice links to get into the holiday spirit:

The Maccabeats: Book of good life – I just love a cappella, and they do it really great.

The Ein Prat Fountainheads: Dip your apple – just plain fun.

May we all have a happy, healthy, successful and joyful year. Shana Tova Umetuka!




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There’s fast food, which is over processed and full of sugar and salt. There’s slow food, which I suspect was originally just home made food from scratch, but has now become very slow food: Food that you have to soak overnight, and then dry naturally, and then cook for hours, and then let rest, and perhaps refrigerate again before you eat it. Tastes great, but really, can you picture a working mom doing this? (Of course, maybe I just haven’t found the right recipes yet). So my take is freezer magic food.

I don’t always (read: never) have the strength and patience to start mincing vegetables to create, say, a healthier pasta sauce. I do not have the patience to peel and crush garlic. So I make do with ketchup? No. I make do with Freezer Magic.

Things that are always in my freezer:

Chopped onion. Whenever I need to chop an onion, I chop two (usually using the food processor because of the tears :)) and stick one in a bag in the freezer. Keeps for months.

Chopped onion, carrot and celery. I buy a bunch of celery, and use half. The rest I chop (in the food processor) with onion and carrot, put in bags in portions, and freeze. A great base for sauces, soups and casseroles.

carrot, celery, and onion, and chopped parsley

Gedunskeskimuse (probably spelled wrong, shortened form: gedunsk). German for “vegetables in their own juice”. This is stewed tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers. Whenever I have some of these vegetables getting old in the fridge, I stew them with a pinch of salt and freeze them. Great as a pasta sauce base or alone; sauce over rice or couscous, etc.

Minced garlic: I put everything in the food processor, move into a jar, cover with olive oil, and freeze. Easy peasy.

Garlic... and a lot of garlic peel

Leftover food that I froze – great as a quick meal (I brown bag my lunch during the week, so that’s important)

Schnitzels – my husband makes schnitzels wholesale. We usually freeze about half in two-schnitzel portions.

Stock – any leftover chicken soup, liquid from cooking vegetables, gravy.

Lemon juice cubes – I juice a number of lemons and freeze in ice cubes.

Bread – I bake most of my own bread in the bread machine. I usually slice half and put in the freezer, and the other half eat fresh. Yummy.

Chopped herbs: Fresh basil, celery, oregano, mint, etc. Just chop it, stick it in a bag (or double bag) label (very important!) and freeze.

Chickpeas: Whenever I’m feeling particularly thrifty1 or paranoid2, I make chickpeas from dried chickpeas in bulk and freeze in 1 cup portions.

Chickpeas & Gedunsk

So that makes dinner a snap – defrost gedunsk, mix with unsweetened yogurt for a great pasta sauce. Or use celery, onion and carrot as a base for Bolognese. Or take some schnitzels out of the freezer. You get the idea. Same with Shabbat meals – so much easier when you’ve got the base already doen and your herbs on hand. Almost like…magic.

My Freezer

Close up

Close up

Thrifty: 1 kg of dried chickpeas costs 16 NIS. I made half a kilo which came out to be 7 cups cooked chickpeas =>0.875 NIS per cup. 1 can of 560 gr ~2 cups costs 6.5 NIS => 3.25 NIS per cup more than three times as much.

Paranoid: There is periodically some scare about Bisphenol A in cans. The summary as I see it: Everyone agrees that BPA leaches into food from cans. FDA claims these amounts are harmless. The treehuggers cite 100s of articles showing that such amounts casue various diseases in mice. The spectics point out that mice aren’t men in this respect: BPA in humans is quickly broken down and goes out in the urine, while in mice it is retained. Therefore, these mice research articles aren’t worth a thing. The treehuggers came back with another article, showing correlation between high BPA in human urine and higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. The sceptics say – correlation is not causation. I agree, in this case, because it seems quite obvious that the actual progression could be: lots of BPA in urine->eat a lot from cans->eat less healthy food in general->higher risk of heart disease. This does not mean that BPA is dangerous. However, to be on the safe side, I’m trying to cut back on cans. Nothing major – some things can only be found in cans, and I have no intention of giving up tuna or Heinz baked beans. But things like chickpeas which can easily be cooked at home…

Love Food - Don't Waste!

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I like the tea termed Chai Masala in Israel. It is a mixture of black tea with spices. But the teabag version always tastes just a little bland to my taste. So I thought – why not make my own?

Ingredients (for about 1/2-3/4 litre)

One cinnamon stick
Two whole cloves
Two cardamom pods, slightly crushed
Fresh nutmeg, grated, about 1/4 tsp
2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (doesn’t have to be fine)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 bag Earl Grey tea (my favourite, but you can use whatever you like)

Coconut milk or regular milk

Put the sugar and spices (without the tea) in a small pot. Add about 2/3 litre water.

Everything in the pot: Here the tea is also in, but I wouldn't recommend unless you like it strong. You can see the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, grated nutmeg. The ginger is hiding somewhere 🙂

Bring to a boil, let boil for at least 10 minutes. Add tea, let boil for another 30 seconds (or more, if you like your tea stronger. I don’t – my husband always laughs at me that I put the teabag in for the colour, not for the taste). Remove tea.

Boil and Bubble

Taste. Add spices if necessary (to your personal taste – the amounts I wrote are simply what I like). Pour through strainer into pot. Add coconut milk or milk if you want to and serve.
Another option is to let it boil down until it is a bit too concentrated (in my case, 15-20 minutes) and then pour it into a glass beaker and add ice. Then you get spiced ice tea (try saying that 5 times fast! 🙂 )

Spiced Ice Tea with coconut milk

Incidentally, don’t throw away the cinnamon stick – it’s good to use again many times. If you think it’s loosing it’s zing you can put it in a jar with sugar and leave it there for a few weeks, you’ll get excellent cinnamon sugar.

After I made this a few times, my eldest (almost five now!) wanted to taste it. I thought that it would be to spiced for him, but he absolutely loved it – I had to make myself another batch 😆


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Getting to know you better

As I mentioned before, I am a regular subscriber to Tes at Home. She and a number of other bloggers thought it would be nice to get to know each other better (nice blog, by the way!), and I thought it was nice too! So here are my answers (even if a bit late 🙂 )

1.  What 5 items are always in your fridge?

Milk, really good chocolate (typically Lindt), home-made jam, Parmigiana cheese, carrots

2.  What 5 items are always in your pantry ?

Flour, dry instant yeast, oats, pasta and crushed tomatoes

3.  Do you write a grocery list or do you shop off the cuff?

I always make a list, and both me and my husband stick to it. *

4.  What is the most used item/s in your kitchen?

Large pots (for pasta and more); bread machine (every Thursday at least, for Challot, and usually once during the week as well); that handy gadget for opening jars; food processor.

5.  What do you have in your kitchen that may seem strange to other people?

Thermal Pot hot water dispenser (In Hebrew – Mei-Ham, Lit. water-hot). Usually people use them on Shabbat (don’t boil water on Shabbat, and I like my tea), but we have it on  all week for hot water in no time. Very convenient.

6.  If you were to enter a Come Dine With Me challenge, what would you cook?

Starter:  Chicken soup with Kneidelach. I know it’s not impressive, but it’s by far the tastiest thing in the world!

Mains:  Moroccan chicken with home made preserved lemons on green rice (blog post forthcoming), meat lasagna, green beans in soy sauce, honey, chilli pepper and sesame seeds.

Dessert:  lemon meringue pie, apple pie (non-dairy)

I think I found my menu for Rosh Hashana 🙂

7.  If you could invite any 4 living people in the world to dinner, who would they be?

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, Yoni Rechter, Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson.  Maybe even together 🙂

8.  What is your favourite breakfast out?

Belgian waffles with apples and cream at the Waffle bar. Way too much for one person, but still sooo tasty!

9.  What one condiment could you not be without?

Soy sauce, especially on vegetables.

10. Some people seemed to have a problem eating leftovers or reheated food, do you?

Certainly not. The staple of life. There is a reason why this blog is called “leftover recipes”, after all… 😉

* When we got married, my husband suggested we go over the whole house and create an Access file with everything we might possibly buy in the supermarket. Then we could go over it before shopping. I thought he was nuts, and exaggerating – “It’s only a shopping list, after all!” but I went along anyway. And I soon found out that it really makes shopping a snap, we almost never forget things now. Highly recommended.

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Something odd happened to me last week. I ran out of oil.

This almost never happens. I don’t use a lot of oil, and I usually know when to buy more. In addition, I usually have one spare in the cupboard. So to run out of oil, I needed to really use it up. How?

I calculated: We made some schnitzels. My husband is the schnitzel cooker in the family. He makes the best schnitzels I’ve tasted (with the possible exception of my MIL, who taught my husband everything he knows 🙂 ) He uses more oil than I would, but his schnitzels come out much better than I do them, so I never complain 😉 However, he doesn’t use that much more oil than I do – certainly not enough to finish the bottle!

And then I realized: cakes. I finally found an oil based cake that tastes wonderful. Each cake uses 1/2 cup of oil. And in the past 10 days I made 5 cakes: two for Shabbat, one for a birthday, one for my mom (who had 10 guests), and one more for us (As I was already baking for my mom, I baked for us as well). That’s 2 1/2 cups of oil!

But the cakes were great!

This cake is almost like a conjuring trick. It has no margarine, no eggs, no dairy, no baking powder. It uses one bowl and a spoon – no food processor, no extra dishes. And the result is a moist and flavorful chocolate cake that everyone loves. In addition, it is the only chocolate cake that my mom can digest. She has some stomach problems and she bid goodbye to her last chocolate cake a few years ago. She was tempted to taste with her guests, and there was no problem at all. My mom was in seventh heaven!

However, a caveat: This is still a cake. it has white flour and white sugar. In other words, it is healthy only up to a point. But otherwise, it wouldn’t be a cake now, would it? 😛

Note: after noticing a bitter after-taste in some cases, the baking soda and vinegar have been replaced with one heaped teaspoon baking powder. Problem solved!

Ingredients (based on this recipe)

  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 handfuls chocolate chips, or to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 175°C. Sift sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder into a  large bowl. Mix. Add water, vegetable oil, vinegar and vanilla. Mix. Pour into 25x25cm pan. sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and eat!
Note: I kept trying to photograph this cake and never managed to (chewing noises). I’ll try and update this later. (gulp)

Sleeping after eating a lot of cake

Edit: Finally got it 😀

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