Monthly Archives: December 2016

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts 

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Every year we go to visit my sister for Chanukah. My sister, Raizel, is really a lot of fun. Aside from my mother, and my Aunt Perel (A”H), my sister is also one of the best cooks I know.

By training, Raizel is actually a chef. However, once she got married, she transferred her cooking skills to being a “Baal Chessed.” For those who may not already know, “chessed” translates as “loving kindness.” It is an action, as well as a character trait. So, if someone is a “Baal Chessed,” they are a charitable person who is constantly engaged in acts of kindness.  That is my sister, to a “T.”

In addition, my sister is also a Baal Hachnasat Orchim.”  “Hachnasat Orchim,” is the Hebrew word for “hospitality” or “welcoming guests.”  This mitzvah, in its purest form, consists of hosting and serving the needs of those who are destitute and have no place to eat or sleep.

My sister and her husband used to host up to 20 people per meal for Shabbat and holiday meals. All of their guests were treated to homemade, all natural, healthy, kosher food. Many of them  were people who genuinely needed a place to eat.

It was a delicate balancing act. Yet, my sister and her husband excelled at this mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), all while raising 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom are now married. One of my wonderful nieces, Eli, shared this recipe for doughnuts.

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

Alternative: use water, coconut or nut milk instead

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Alternative: use coconut oil or palm shortening instead

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoons salt

2 3/4 cup flour

Instructions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water. Add the milk (or substitute), butter, egg, sugar and salt. Blend this until its smooth.

Add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise, until the dough has doubled, about 1/2 – 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and roll out a half inch thick.

Using a cup or biscuit cutter (or even a dry empty can to cut out the doughnuts. If you want to make the doughnuts with the traditional hole in the middle, use a shot glass or similar sized object to cut out the holes. (The holes will later become doughnut holes)

Place these on cookie sheets and let them rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.

Heat oil in a pot, and then fry the doughnuts, approximately, 30 seconds on each side. Once the oil becomes hot, this process is very quick.

The trick is to have the oil hot, but not too hot. Our friend, Judith, said that in the days before there were thermometers, you knew the oil was hot enough when it would take 1 minute to cook a piece of bread. I thought that was a nice trick!

My sister simply put in one of the doughnut holes, and waited until it started to brown nicely.

Regulating the temperature correctly is critical to making doughnuts successfully. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn but the inside will be too raw. If that happens, bake the doughnuts in the oven so that they will cook nicely.

Remove from oil and place in pot of sugar syrup and coat on each side.

Sugar Glaze

The trick to making doughnuts taste completely awesome is to dip the doughnuts into the glaze right after they have been fried. Unfortunately, my sister is an intuitive cook, and she does not need to follow recipes. So, this an approximation of what she did.

Ingredients

Equal amounts of water and sugar, i.e. ½ water and ½ cup sugar.

Instructions:

To make a glaze using granulated sugar, place equal amounts of sugar and water to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.

If you want a thicker glaze, continue to cook the glaze and stir occasionally until it reduces to a thicker consistency, or add more sugar.

Once the doughnuts are cooked, quickly drop them into the simmering glaze, and turn to coat both sides and then remove and place on plate.

Decorate as desired.

Here are the pictures. My sister laughs at me that I need things explained so exactly. But, that is why I am writing this blog in the first place.  I am so grateful that I have her and my mother to learn from.

img_6120

First step.


img_6122

Kneaded into dough and read to rise.


img_6137

Cut into doughnut shape. The secret is to roll thin and use a good cookie cutter shape.


img_6142

First side cooking


img_6143

Flipping them over.


img_6141

Dipping into sugar glaze syrup.


img_6146

Final product. A work of art!

The final outcome was a work of art. The downside of doughnuts is that they are only good fresh. So, make sure you invite lots of people over to share them with you! You can tell them it’s a mitzvah.

My sister tells me that the reason why she is able to make these so well is that she is not afraid of making a mistake, and every year she keeps on trying to improve. So, now you know why she is not only an awesome cook, but an awesome person as well. She is truly our family tzedakis (righteous soul).

img_6186

 

Advertisements

Happy Holidays Everyone!

This year, for the first time in many years, Chanukah and Christmas both coincide with each other.

Today is the first day of Chanukah and it is also Christmas Day.

 

Originally, this was going to be the Chanukah holiday greeting for my blog:

Yaffa's art project.

Yaffa’s art project.

However, last night, we went to visit my sister, Raizel. We celebrated the first night of Chanukah together — we lite the candles, made doughnuts, sang songs and played with dreidels.

Traditionally, this holiday is celebrated by eating foods cooked in oil to celebrate the miracle of the oil which lasted for 8 days.  My sister is a fabulous cook and baker. She can pretty well do anything in the kitchen! I am hoping to post her recipe and the pictures later.

My sister’s neighborhood is a mix of many faiths and people from all over the world. Since it was also Christmas Eve, and she lives near a Church, everyone, Jewish and Christian, was out celebrating and immersed in the holiness of their celebration.

Just for fun, I thought I would post a few pictures.

Beautiful lights!

A view from the street.

Outside of a local church.

A different view from the inside.

 

Happy holidays everyone!

Shabbat in 2 Hours — Baked Apples

shabbat-cat

I love cats. I couldn’t resist.



Shabbat in 2 Hours — Baked Apples

I hesitate to call this an actual recipe. However, my friend Malka introduced me to baked apples for Shabbat. It is even faster and easier than my fruit compote, and I bake them while I have everything else in the oven.

Ingredients:

Apples, cut in half, and seeds removed

cinnamon

Instructions:

Cut apples in half and remove the core and any other blemishes. Lightly spray oil the pan and sprinkle cinnamon over the bottom. Add apples, cut side down.

Bake in 350* – 375* oven until done. The house will smell heavenly!


Enjoy!

Just for fun, I thought I would post this.

shabbat-coke-image

Many blessings to all for a beautiful shabbat.

Saturday night begins the first night of Channuka and Christmas Eve. Happy holidays everyone!


Love,

Carol and family.

Carrot Cake Chronicles

 

Carrot Cake Chronicles or Carrot Cake Redemption

I am calling this post, “Carrot Cake Chronicles” however, my husband suggested that I call this recipe “Carrot Cake Redemption.”

Since the winter holidays are here, I have been attempting to bake more. This carrot cake was my contribution to our department holiday party.

The recipe is a variation of my 1-2-3-4 Cake. The only difference is, less flour, since carrots are added for bulk, and no liquid.

I tend to do the bulk of my cooking when I wake up in the morning before going to work. Nevertheless, baking while distracted is not a good thing to do. I did that the first time I made this recipe and I unfortunately had to make this cake twice.

The first time, I accidentally added too much flour. Although I tried to rescue it by adding some orange juice and a half cup more oil, I am afraid the end result was something that resembled a quick bread rather than a cake, and a dried out one at that.

Ever tenacious, I added a wonderful orange glaze, in a second attempt to rescue my poor dried out cake.

Despite my heroic gestures, the first cake was not as successful as I would have liked. No matter how I sliced and diced it, the cake was still too dry, despite having a wonderful flavor. If anyone has any good ideas for how to rescue adding too much flour to a recipe, I would appreciate the feedback.

Once I paid more attention, the second cake came out much better. I also baked it in 2 smaller pans, and checked the temperature using my oven thermometer.

Happily, the second time around, this carrot cake was redeemed.

The lesson learned for me is: be in the moment and avoid multitasking while baking.

img_6102

One Bowl Carrot or Zucchini Cake

Ingredients 

2 cups sugar (white or brown or a combination)

1 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

2 cups grated carrots (about 3-4 carrots)

Optional/Variation: 2 cups grated zucchini instead of carrots

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Optional: ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts

Optional: 1 cup raisins

Optional: 1 cup drained crushed pineapple

Optional: orange zest

Instructions:

By hand: Beat the oil, sugar, salt, eggs together. Mix the flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder together and stir into the wet ingredients. Add the carrots, nuts, and any other optional ingredients and mix until just blended. Pour into greased, sprayed or parchment lined pan.

In the food processor: Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in food processor for 1 minute. Add flour and baking powder, spices and pulse until blended. Next add the grated carrots and any other optional ingredients and pulse until blended. Pour into greased, sprayed or parchment lined pan.

This can be made as two 9″ layers, one 9″x13″ rectangular cake, a Bundt pan or 24 cupcakes.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until done and when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Orange Glaze

Ingredients

1 orange, zested and juiced, this could be about ¼ cup of juice, but I didn’t measure.

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups icing sugar, more or less depending on desired thickness

Instructions

Zest and juice the orange into a bowl. Add the vanilla, and then add the icing sugar until desired consistency.

Spread over cake. This cake freezes well.

 

Here are the picture:

 

 

Grate the carrots and place in a separate bowl.

Mixing in a bowl to stir in nuts.

Mixing in a bowl to stir in nuts.

Yaffa took this picture of me all by herself!

Yaffa took this picture of me all by herself!


Cake number 1 ready to bake.

Cake number 1 ready to bake.


Cake #1


Cake # 2 — Redeemed!


Beautifully glazed -- better to look good than to taste good?

Beautifully glazed — better to look good than to taste good?

My final words of wisdom with respect to my carrot cake chronicles:

My final words of wisdom.

Enjoy!

Cranberry Torte

As I shared on my last post, I had lots of cranberry relish leftover from Thanksgiving. 

Rather than let it go to waste, I thought I would use it to make this fruit torte. 

This cake recipe is very flexible and it has endless variations. Feel free to adapt the recipe for whatever fruit you have available — fresh or canned. It can even be adapted for various flours with success. 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar (white or brown or a combination)

1 cup oil

1 tsp. vanilla

Optional: you can use other flavorings such almond, lemon, etc. depending on the fruit

2 cups flour

Optional: you can substitute almond, cornmeal, whole wheat, spelt, rice flour or gluten-free flour blends in any combination. It may change the texture, which could make it more interesting. I usually make it with spelt.

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt (a “pinch”) 

Optional Variations:
Chocolate cake: substitute 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup flour

2 cups cranberry relish 

Optional Variations: Add 2-4 cups fresh or canned fruit on top and sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. It amount depends on the size of the pan. 

Instructions:

By hand: cream together oil and sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in sifted together dry ingredients until blended.

With a food processor: Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in food process for 1 minute. Add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse until just blended.

Pour batter into greased or parchment lined pan. Place cranberry relish on top.

If using fresh or canned fruit, sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, if desired, over fruit.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until done and when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Here are the pictures:

Cake batter on the bottom.

Ready to be baked.

Fresh out of the oven!

The final product. Voila!

Raizel and her friend Kayla said, “this is awesome!” I cut them both a piece before freezing it.

Enjoy!

References:

This recipe is adapted from my ubiquitous 1-2-3-4 cake and the apple cake recipe from Classic Kosher Cooking. 

As I have shared, all my cake recipes are basically an adaptation of the 1-2-3-4 cake. I then adjust the liquid or the sugar if using fruit, or adding pie filling. Sort of like mix and match. In Classic Kosher Cooking the apple cake recipe called for 2.5 cups cake flour and 1/4 orange juice. I eliminated the liquid and decreased the flour, since I generally use spelt or regular all purpose flour.

I have since, however, seen this recipe published on various sites all over the internet using different proportions. 

Most recently, my friend Malka introduced me to the recipe which is published annually in The New York Times as a Plum Torte. 

Here is the link:

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3783-original-plum-torte

So, this recipe is practically no fail and VERY versatile!

Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways 

 

Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways  

 

Although Thanksgiving has passed, I still want to post my recipes from the holiday.

 

I seem to be having trouble with the formatting of my post, so I am afraid that my spacing of the paragraphs is off.

 

My mother in law (A’H) LOVED Thanksgiving. Nothing gave her more joy and a twinkle in her eye than this day.

 

She passed away on a Sunday after Thanksgiving when the girls were small. (I will not say how long ago as my mother in law was coy about her age.)We are convinced that she waited until after the holiday to celebrate one last time before leaving this world.

This year, we were fortunate to host my husband’s oldest sister and his nephew and his new wife joined us. (Readers may remember my posts on Sheva Brachot for them, https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/02/)

As we are aging, I appreciate these rare gatherings. Every celebration is a poignant opportunity to be cherished and savored.

This year, at my sister in law Hana’s request, we began our meal paying tribute to my mother in law, who loved this holiday so much. Everyone also shared what they were grateful for during this past year.

My gratitude was that everyone was such a good sport that the turkey took so long to cook. On Thanksgiving, I finally realized that an oven thermometer is critical to accurately gauge my oven’s temperature. My oven, it seems, is cooking challenged which contributes to my time challenges.

In my cooking frenzy, I made 3 different types of cranberry sauce.

I made my husband’s favorite traditional cranberry sauce, and 2 variations of cranberry relish.

Although these recipes are ubiquitous for Thanksgiving fare, I still wanted to post them here.


Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

 1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Optional: use orange juice instead of water

4 cups or 1 12-oz package fresh or frozen cranberries

Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

Instructions:

Rinse cranberries. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.Add cranberries. Return water to a boil and then gently simmer until the cranberries are cooked, and sauce is desired thickness.

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Orange Relish With Or Without Ginger

Ingredients

12 ounces cranberries

1 cup white sugar

1 orange, quartered

Optional: grated fresh ginger, lemon zest

Instructions: 

Place sugar, cranberries and orange in food processor. Gently pulse until coarsely chopped and desired texture. Add grated ginger or lemon zest.

Here are the pictures:

Cranberry, orange and sugar, chopped in the food processor.

Here is the cranberry relish. Visually, it is hard to distinguish between the one with ginger or without.

They were all a hit. However, after our guests left, I took the cranberry relish and made a fruit torte. I have been wanting to post on that for a few weeks, but, I had to post this one first.

Enjoy!