Dedicated to the notion that one of the things that’s wrong with the world is that there aren’t enough waffles in it and everyone should sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes order “one for the table”.
photo by Wendy H. Goldberg
Kbell's Perfect Brisket
My friend KBell makes socks for a living. But it’s what comes out of her kitchen that’ll really knock your socks off – the world’s most perfect brisket.
Matzo (or matzoh or matzah) is the perfect crunchy, flaky base for a thin coating of buttery caramel, melted chocolate and a sprinkling of chopped nuts salt. It’s an addictive treat that’s perfect for Passover.
Matzo is unleavened bread that first appeared on the “market” when the Israelites had to flee Egypt and did not have time to let their bread rise.
It has been eaten for centuries during the Jewish holiday of Passover as a reminder of that exodus by forgoing cakes, cookies, pasta and noodles — anything made to rise with yeast, baking soda, etc.
1 pound medium noodles
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 small carton cottage cheese, small curd
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup sugar
1 cup raisins or apricot, preserves may be added for a sweeter kugel
3 teaspoons brown sugar
¾ cup crushed cornflake crumbs
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
Cook noodles slight less than directed. Melt butter. Mix together butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, eggs, sugar and raisin or apricot if desired, and vanilla. Add cooked noodles and mix well. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 x 2” glass pan. Make topping by combining ingredients. Sprinkle topping on noodles and bake for 45 to 60 minutes at 350° F.
What's Easter without Easter eggs? Hide them. Roll them. And, best of all, eat them. Of the many dishes associated with Easter, deviled eggs have always been high on my list. Traditional deviled eggs are delicious but with some adventuresome spices, hardboiled Easter eggs take center stage on this festive occasion.
Our fingers stained blue, red and yellow, my sister and I loved dyeing and decorating Easter eggs. Our parents would hide the eggs around the house and outside. I'd race against my sister, each of us hoping to find more than the other.
Ultimately when we had delivered the eggs back into the kitchen, our mother turned our colored eggs into deviled eggs with a simple recipe: peel off the shells, cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Chop up the yolks, add a bit of mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture back onto the egg white halves.
When were kids those flavors were good enough. But for my adult palate, deviled eggs need spicing up. With experimentation, I discovered that doing something as simple as adding cayenne or Mexican chili ancho powder gives mild-mannered eggs a mouth-pleasing heat. Sweeten the flavor up a notch by stirring in finely chopped currants or borrow from Indian cuisine and mix in curry powder that has first been dry roasted in a sauté pan.
I noticed a pattern developing midway through my wonder years. It was spring, and the world was once again filled with chocolate Easter bunnies. Some were solid chocolate, others were hollow. I always got the hollow bunny. And still do. Not by choice, and not because of bad luck. It goes beyond bad luck – like walking into a great bakery, getting the ticket with the number “1” on it, and finding out there are a hundred people ahead of you.
At six years old, I began to realize that, in some weird way, my life was being defined by the hollow bunny. It was affecting my world view. Not that I had suddenly figured out how to deal with disappointment, I hadn’t. But I did learn to embrace irony.
Simply put, the world is divided into two kinds of people – those who get the hollow bunny and those who get the solid one. It has nothing to do with fame, fortune, looks, brains, talent, or even likeability. It’s just a difference in mindset.
My mother thought organized religion was one of the problems with the world, this extended to the Girl Scouts and the PTA (a somewhat convenient belief for a mother of 4, since you can’t ask someone to go against their beliefs). She also believed that children shouldn’t be allowed to act.
I have never quite understood how I talked her into letting me enter the Beverly Hills’ Miss Easter Bunny pageant when I was 8 – one of the prizes was a screen-test – but I did.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I think I thought it would be fun to ride down Beverly Drive in an old white cadillac with the top down sitting next to the Mayor of Beverly Hills and wave at the throngs of people I imagined would be lining the streets. I think I thought I was going to win.
Little did I know, the fix was in.
The queen of all jello molds, almost good enough to serve to strangers.
4 small apricot jello
3 12-ounce cans apricot nectar
½ pint sour crean
l large can halved apricots
8-, 9- or 10-cup mold
To 1 package of jello add 1½ cups boiling water and juice from one can of apricots. Pour half the mixture into mold. Lay drained apricots top side down into mold. Put into refrigerator.
Put aside the other half of the jello mixture for possible use at the end if there's room in the mold.
Heat 1 can nectar to boiling and add one package of jello. Mix well. Cool slightly and when mold in refrigerator is set, add this next layer. Again refrigerate.
Heat next can of nectar to boiling and add another package of jello. Then add in sour cream gently to avoid air bubbles. Add this layer again when other layers are gelled.
Again heat nectar and add jello. This is your last layer. Add and put back into refrigerator.
Now if you still have room in mold and the first layer hasn't all by itself become totally jellied but is still liquid, you can add this clear layer to the top of the mold and refrigerate.
Summer barbecues just aren’t complete without this classic side dish. Everyone has a favorite version, and when I’m looking for an authentic home cooked version, this is my recipe of choice.
As a kid, I was pretty fussy about what was in it, and my mother was forced to prepare a pretty bland version.
Feel free to alter the ingredients to your own taste – some people might not like the addition of chopped pickles, but I think it really perks up the salad. If you don’t have sweet pickles, you can use and equal amount of sweet pickle relish.
In many homes on Easter Sunday, a succulent ham shank, crusted with brown sugar and mustard, is brought to the dinner table glazed and bubbling, surrounded by creamy scalloped potatoes. This will happen again in just a few days in many homes, but not mine.
Ham has never been part of the Easter meal tradition at my house. Growing up with a German-Czechoslovakian father meant every holiday dinner involved a roasted loin of pork, crusted with flavorful caraway seeds and softball-sized dumplings to soak up the drippings from the pork and lots of creamy sauerkraut.
After I got married, though, I discovered ham and scalloped potatoes. I tried to learn to prepare a moist ham and creamy scalloped potatoes. But, I almost always wound up with dry ham and curdled potatoes. I gave up and went back to the familiar pork dinner that I was more comfortable with in the kitchen. My favorite guy missed the cheesy scalloped potatoes, but adapted well to the more German-style Easter meal.
There are many stories regarding the history of Hot Cross Buns. One interesting one comes from Alan Davidson's "The Oxford Companion to Food". He says that the Saxon invaders in Britain chomped on buns adorned with impressions of crosses in honor of the pagan goddess of light, Eostre, from whom the name Easter is derived.
Today they are traditionally served at Easter and there is a superstition that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday never became moldy and in the past one Hot Cross Bun would be saved as a good luck charm until the next year's buns were made. Whatever the history, these sweet tender buttery buns are a delicious treat and should be enjoyed all year long.
This is adapted from a Cook’s Country recipe for Sweet Dough.
I saw a beautiful fruit tart today, but I didn’t buy it. Though one brief glimpse of its light crust, glistening white cream & assorted seasonal berries and our whole intense love affair came rushing back.
It’s the mid 1970’s. The place: Patrick Terrail’s West Hollywood restaurant Ma Maison. An old house on Melrose converted into the most innovative, modern French restaurant of its day. It was so very French and so very Hollywood, and when those two worlds collided on that patio of Astroturf and umbrellas, it was magic.
Big Hollywood deals were made, infamous fights broke out, and occasionally I was lucky enough – if someone with more money was paying—to be there, enjoying the food. That’s where it began – an infatuation that would turn into a stalker’s obsession. They had me at crème anglaise.
I was there a lot with Jackie Mason, which sounds so random, sort of like my celebrity dreams, but he was a friend of my dad’s and we went as his guest, or vice versa. Often, when we were at a meal with Jackie, he would do his bit:
Gentiles never finish drinking, Jews never finish eating. What do you think Jews talk about for breakfast? Where to eat lunch. At lunch: "Where should we have dinner?"
1 8-10 lb ham
1 12 oz jar apricot jam
Bake ham at 325°F for 3½ hours. After 3 hours, remove from oven, score fat in a diamond pattern and insert cloves.
While ham is baking melt the jam by placing the open jar in hot water n the stove. Sieve. dump half the jam onto the ham and spread it around. Stick it back in the oven. After 15 minutes dump the other half and cook for a final fifteen minutes.
Serve with a great mustard.
Like the perfume of freshly squeezed orange juice or the whisps of flavor that float on the air when chicken soup is simmering, the smell of melting chocolate and almonds softens my resolve not to eat just one of what I am planning to make: chocolate rocks.
They couldn't be easier. Or more forgiving. Or more interesting to experiment with. Caramelize some whole almonds, and hide one inside. Chocolate rocks are prefect for hiding things. A raisin. A hazelnut. Dried cherries or cranberries. Minced orange peel. Before you put them in the refrigerator, sprinkle them with fleur de sel. Or roll them in grated coconut. Cinnamon dust. Star dust. Whatever you have. And the best of all is that they take just minutes to make.
Then there was the thick morning fog rolling in like brush strokes of soft gray paint giving the town of Chinon and my deep sleep a dream like feel.
The shill sound of a phone broke the silence into unidentifiable pieces. Who could be calling—me? I somehow found the phone in my deep dream (unearthly) like state.
“Madame, they are leaving in 5 minutes for the truffle hunt, with or without you” and the high pitched voice went silent and the phone went dead.
In seconds, I pulled on my clothes from the evening before, jumped into my shoes and grabbed a mint. Down the long carpeted stairs I ran, tussled hair and all. I was the last person in the last seat of the multi car caravan as we watched the other two cars fishtailing in the soft pebble driveway.
Chocolate is the dessert of choice on Valentine's Day, be it candy, truffles, cakes, or cookies, we crave chocolate. There is good reason: Somewhere along the line in history, dating back to Aztec times, chocolate became known for its stimulating effect, and was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Chocolate eventually becoming equated with the holiday of love because its exclusivity made it the perfect gift to show one's appreciation. It's no surprise why so many people love chocolate, it has been a part of our Valentine's celebrations for hundreds of years. Valentine's Day wouldn't be what it is without it.
The best way to enjoy chocolate, in my opinion, is in its purest form. Give me a bar of good-quality chocolate and I will be extremely happy. Many people love such desserts as chocolate cake and brownies, but those sweets don't always give chocolate due justice. A simple dessert that showcases chocolate in its top form combines just a few ingredients: melted chocolate, eggs, and cream, to create a spoonable chocolate cloud called mousse, the French word for foam. This is a dessert your Valentine will swoon over.
by Oyvind Tangen
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