Category Archives: baking

shana tova (Jewish New Year)

Sunday at sundown marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Judaism is full of symbolism and the food served for this holiday is no exception…apples dipped in honey and raisins in the challah to symbolize the hope of a sweet new year. And the challah bread is often made in a circular shape to symbolize the cyclical nature of life.

My task for Rosh Hashanah was to bring a challah. So with some help from Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen, I spent most of Saturday making a round challah with raisins tucked in the folds. I was pretty impressed with myself and my instagram post included clever hashtags like #kindaimpressedwithmyself and #shiksainthekitchen. Raised Presbyterian (therefore a shiksa) but married to a Jewish man for 34 years, I am always amazed when my matzo ball soup impresses Jewish guests! And then there was this challah…IMG_4948

I heard my husband bragging to his brother about the bread I made. Score.

This promises to be a sweet year for us since we welcomed our first grandchild into the world three weeks ago. Lila is sweet and perfect and so full of potential. I hope it’s a sweet year for you and yours too!IMG_4932

HAR

 

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snow day in the kitchen

Yesterday was the third snow day in less than two weeks. It’s getting old. The weather forecasters do a pretty decent job of predicting the timing of the storm and amount of snow so I did what everyone else does and stopped at the grocery store in the unlikely event that I would be snowbound for weeks…

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…and then spent the day in the kitchen or shoveling!

I sauted onions and garlic for the carrot soup, then bundled up and went outside to shovel a path for the dog. I chopped celery for the curried chicken salad, then cleared another path for the dog. I placed my sourdough bread in the pan for the second rise, then went back outside to fight the losing battle of clearing blowing snow.

 

 

 

 

The snow is still coming down but we have carrot soup with cumin, curried chicken salad, sourdough spelt bread and a roaring fire. Let it snow!

HAR

 

apple tart

Simple and elegant. Apples neatly tucked into each other on a bed of shortbread.

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Here’s the recipe:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend well and add:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Press the dough into a springform pan.

Peel 4 apples and slice then thinly. Arrange them on the dough.

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and slivered almonds.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.

 

HAR

peanut butter cookies for grown-ups

Since becoming empty nesters, I keep way less stuff in the cupboards. Last week when I really wanted to bake something but realized I had no flour…I had to get creative.

It didn’t take long to find a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Salted Peanut Butter cookies that had only 4 ingredients – peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla! A quick scan of the cupboard and I knew I was in luck.

Here’s the recipe:

1 3/4 cups (335 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (450 grams) smooth peanut butter 
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated.

Scoop the dough into balls. Place on prepared pan.  Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. (My cookie sheet doesn’t fit in the freezer, I just put them in the frig)

Sprinkle the dough balls lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

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These tasted like very grown-up peanut butter cookies. They were chewy and intense and the flavour improved with age. I brought some with me on our flight to LA last weekend and shared them with family. My daughter-in-law liked them so much she made a batch in the house we rented and even though the oven didn’t work and she had to improvise with a toaster oven, they were delicious the second time around. Try them and let us know what you think!

HAR

shortbread

I love shortbread. I’m not fussy. It can be plain, with nuts or as the crust for a gooey fruit topping.

And as if someone can read my mind, a recipe appeared in my inbox this week for sugared shortbread.

I didn’t have rice flour in the house or I would have made the shortbread as soon as I read the recipe. I contemplated making my own rice flour in the food processor but I only had brown rice and wasn’t sure how that would taste. So I did what people who can delay their gratification do and added it to my grocery list.

What I like about this recipe, besides the obvious fact that it produces shortbread, is that you melt the butter and just pour it in the bowl with the dry ingredients. It was really quick to throw together and the shortbread was delicious! Here’s the recipe:

  • 240 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 36 grams rice flour (1/4 cup)
  • 62 grams sugar (1/4 cup), more as needed
  • 2 grams fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 cup), melted and cooled

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. Stir in the butter. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with sugar while warm and slice; cool completely.

HAR