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Archive for March, 2013

On the one hand, every Passover I find myself  wondering what to make for dinner with a kind of desperation: no pasta, nothing bread or dough based (pizza, grilled cheese), meat was eaten for lunch, no pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.), sick and tired of potatoes again, etc. On the other hand, it’s only one week. Surely I can manage for one week without all this stuff, and without a stomach-ache? Every year I’m challenged anew 🙂

This year I partially solved the eternal problem by making astronomical amounts of Passover rolls. This is puff pastry with matzoh flour instead of regular flour. It’s tasty, but not so filling and a bit heavy, so I needed additional solutions.

My mother found an excellent Passover Pancake recipe. I made some as written for the kids, and made some without sugar for the grownups, serving it with mushroom sauce. That was tasty and filling, and with a salad was a very satisfying meal. In addition, there’s always Mirj’s Matzoh Lasagna recipe that never fails. Another option is Matzo pizzas – mix tomato paste with some spices, spread on matzo  place on top sliced mozzarella and top with sliced olives or mushrooms. Zap in microwave for 30 seconds.

So far we’re holding in there, only two days to go!

Passover Rolls

Ingredients (for 20 rolls, I always double the amount)

2 cups water
50 gr margarine
1/4 cup oil [1]
1 tsp salt (I use 1/2 tsp)
2 cups matzo flour
6 eggs (I use 4.5 eggs – I double the amount and use 9 eggs total)

Bring water, margarine, oil and salt to boil. Add the matzoh flour at once and stir.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until egg is fully incorporated (my husband does this part 😉 ). Place heaped tablespoonfuls on baking sheet.

18 rolls

18 rolls

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Then close oven without removing the rolls and leave in the oven an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and eat.

One or two rolls

One or two rolls

Keep in a plastic bag as long as it lasts. 😀

Kid's breakfast

Kid’s breakfast

Passover Pancakes

Ingredients (about 10 pancakes)

3/4 cup matzoh flour
4 tbsp brown sugar (originally 2 tbsp sugar + 2 packets vanilla sugar)
1 cup boiling milk
2 tbsp oil
3 eggs
1 heaped tsp baking powder

Pour matzoh flour & sugar in large bowl. Mix well. Pour boiling milk on top and let rest for 5 minutes (it becomes a dough). Add eggs, oil and baking powder and mix using an egg beater until smooth.

"Dough"

“Dough”

Fry in two tbsp batches until golden on both sides.
For a savoury version, substitute the sugar with a pinch of salt.

Pancakes!

Pancakes!

Bon Apetit!

1. I also saw a recipe with 1/2 cup oil instead of the margarine & oil, I’ll try that next Passover.

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I read this in reverse order by mistake, but that turned out well in the end. I’ll review it in the same order, you’ll see why.

Celebrity Magazine #2: One Summer

Front CoverIn this book, photographer Bryan Mitchell (female) is given an assignment to take a photographic tour of America in the summer, three months. This is a dream assignment for any photographer. The one hitch is that she has to partner with photographer Shade Colby (yes, that’s actually his name, not a nickname). Where Bryan is known for photographing Hollywood celebrities, Shade is known for his gritty war photographs. Bryan is a laid back optimist; Shade is a cynic who has seen too much. A match made in heaven 😉

The story builds well, and the characters build as well, giving layers on layers over the stereotype. I liked the book. The only thing that bothered me is the romance novel axiom that if hero and heroine are together for a limited amount of time, they will never see each other again after it unless vows are exchanged. Jeez, people, haven’t you ever heard of a phone? Maybe dating under normal circumstances, i.e. when not living together in a van taking a tour of America, might be a good idea?

However, that’s probably too much to expect 🙂 . In any case, a nice, easy read. 4 stars.

Celebrity Magazine #1: Second Nature

Front CoverIn this book, reporter Lee Radcliffe wants an exclusive interview with best selling, obsessively private horror novelist Hunter Brown (what is it with names in this series?). I disliked both characters intensely.

Hunter is manipulative, cold, chauvinistic and borderline emotionally abusive. He makes sure Lee stays at a disadvantage throughout and manipulates her into giving him everything. And while he preens himself on never making love to women, only with women, he also comes out with sentences like “If this was the dark ages and I came upon you in the moonlight I would take you because it would be my right”. Well, there are reasons why it was called the “dark” ages and men like you are one of them. Idiot.

Lee is supposed to be intelligent, but she assumes things she has no business assuming and lets Hunter lead her by the nose. And if you are sexually attracted to a man but are afraid of him and don’t want to sleep with him, maybe agreeing to spend two weeks alone with him in the middle of nowhere is a bad idea? And where are your negotiating skills? If someone wants a number of things from you and you want only one thing, why don’t you bargain? Demanding two tents instead of one would have been a great start.

And the unbalanced relationship is stressed even more when Hunter proposes to her after two weeks. Two weeks! I don’t care if you’ve never felt this way before, this just shows that you are a control freak and potential abuser. In fact, in all the “spot an abuser” lists Hunter would qualify for at least 3 out of 5. Add to that that she has to give up everything while he doesn’t have to change an iota of his lifestyle, and this book gave me the serious creeps. This isn’t a romance novel. This is the antithesis of a romance novel, and the happy ever after here is laughable. It’s much easier to picture Lee in the future a beaten and cowed woman with Hunter still smiling calmly in the background. *shudder*  0 stars.

Had I started with Second Nature, I probably wouldn’t have read One Summer, so it’s better that I read them in this order. Have a good week and happy productive Passover cleaning!

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It’s that time of the year again! Planning, baking, buying the plates and decorations, buying costumes (or making them for artistically inclined) and all the whirlwind of Purim.

This year, my eldest wanted to show off the recipes learned in his cooking class, which included Green Tahini, Olive Tapenade, and salty cheese cookies. So we decided to have a (mostly) savoury Mishloah Manot this year. We added some butter cookies so that my younger son would also feel part of it (he brought home a recipe for them with sugar and cinnamon) and the traditional chocolate balls that we make with my SIL’s family. The final menu was:

Whole wheat mini-pitas
Green tahini
Olive tapenade
Salty cheese cookies
Butter cookies
Chocolate balls (with butter instead of margarine)

We put them in ecological plates made of palm leaves and wrapped them in ecological bags. We added a picture of the Kids holding a “Happy Purim!” sign (note to self: next year the sign should be “Happy Purim from the leftoverRecipes Family!” and save us writing it on each one 🙄 ) The results was really cute (if I do say so myself 😉 ). In addition the kids donated money personally in the synagogue before hearing the story of Esther in the synagogue. I went to a women’s reading of the story which was very pleasant. I actually dislike the story for reasons I won’t get into here, but it’s always nice to get together. All the family delivered the Mishloah Manot in costume, and the kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly. We capped it by inviting the extended family to a BBQ lunch which was tasty and fun.

And then we collapsed 😀

Actually, we had more friends coming in in the afternoon and had another informal party for dinner. Exhausting but really, really fun. It was a great Purim.

And now for (part of) the recipes:

Green tahini:

1 cup cold water
2 cups sesame paste (tahini)
one bunch parsley leaves, chopped fine
1/4 cup lemon juice
one minced garlic or to taste
salt to taste

Mix water and tahini until white. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Add more water if desired to get a smoother consistency.

Olive Tapenade

1 jar kalamata olives, or other olives
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh coriander
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
6 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
ground black pepper to taste (I put in two dashes)

Put everything in the food processor and mix until desired consistency.

Whole wheat pitas

As I mentioned before, some of our best friends don’t eat sugar or white flour. We went together to a “slow food” cooking workshop for whole wheat sugarless cooking, and one of the recipes were these whole wheat pitas. It answered a question I always wondered about – how do you get the pocket in the pita? Apparently, you don’t. You just roll down the dough and put it in a really hot oven, and the yeast takes care of the rest. I made a tryout batch before Purim and all the pitas got a great pocket. Typically, the actual Purim batch did not 😕 I think it was because I didn’t knead the dough enough, it was a HUGE amount of dough as we made 3 times the basic amount!

Ingredients (8 pitas or 16 mini-pitas)

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups water, room temperature (or slightly warm is also OK)
1/2 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 tbsp honey or date spread or puréed dates
1/2 tbsp, heaped salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix flour, water, honey or dates, and the yeast and knead for a few minutes ( I used a mixer with a dough hook). Let rest for 20 minutes. Add salt and olive oil and knead until dough is flexible (a bit sticky is still OK). This is probably where I skimped when doing the 3X Purim batch 😐 Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise one hour in summer and two in winter, or until doubled in size, or until you poke a finger in it and it doesn’t immediately start to fill up again (one of the methods will work 😉 ).

Before rising

Take out the dough on a floury surface and pat it a bit to get out any bubbles and split into 8 (or 16) equal parts (I weighed it so that it would be equal). Let the dough balls rest another 15 minutes.

Resting…

Preheat the oven to 230 °C (or higher). Put a tray in the oven, upside down (so the pitas will be at the highest point of the tray, without overhanging edges). Cover with baking paper.

Roll down each ball into a circle 15 cm in diameter for full pitas, or until a few mm thickness.

Home made circles

Home made circles

Throw the pitas into the oven (2 big ones or 4 small ones at a time) limiting as much as possible the time the oven is open so as not to lose the high heat. Bake for 3-5 minutes until pitas look like full balloons (really cool!) .

Balloon time!

Balloon time!

Remove from oven and place between two clean kitchen towels to cool slowly (or eat immediately 😛 ). Continue with the rest of the dough.  Freeze any pitas that aren’t eaten immediately. To defrost, warm in the microwave 20 (mini)-40 (pitas) seconds while wrapped in a clean kitchen towel.

More recipes next time!

Note: I started writing this last week, around Purim. I finished it now, as it was a really hectic week. The recipes are still good, though 😉

 

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I got some Terry Pratchett books from a friend, and enjoyed relaxing with them last week.

I consider Carpe Jugulum one of his best books. While making us laugh and building on every vampire cliche in the history of vampires, he also makes very astute and insightful commentary on kings, power, fear, overweight people, old people, and the human condition in general.

Terry Pratchett is not called a satirist for nothing. Even though we don’t have vampires, witches on broomsticks, Igors, etc. the Discworld is astoundingly similar to ours, because the people are the same. He has you nodding and going, “You are so right!” with his descriptions of everyday situations.

“But you read a lot of books, I’m thinking. Hard to have faith, ain’t it, when you’ve read too many books?”-Mistress Weatherwax to the Quite Reverend Mightily Oats

“The smug mask of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as the face of wickedness revealed” Mistress Weatherwax

And the story is great, the climax satisfying, the end sweet. Perfect. 5 stars

Hogfather:

I actually found this a bit tedious the first time I read it. I just couldn’t drum up the energy to care if the Hogfather was dead or alive, and what that would mean for the Discworld. Maybe because I don’t celebrate Christmas?

However, at some point the book picks up and reveals the absolutely brilliant plan and the next time I read it I enjoyed it more. Some parts were still tedious, but the entire book was more satisfying.

Even in the first read I had some laugh-out-loud moments, as in:

“She’d become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a known lady could do. And she’d taken to it well. She’d sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she’d beat herself to death with her own umbrella.”

or

“Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.”

So to summarize: While not my favorite, still solid Pratchett. 4 stars

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