Cold Cucumber Soup

Since the girls started school, it feels like a whirlwind of nonstop activity! It seems as though I am even more time challenged than ever before. 

I want to post this recipe, however, before the winter really sets in and no one can even think about making a cold soup. There is always the possibility of an Indian Summer.


This recipe is the outcome of one of my wonderful patient’s generosity. Bob shared with the group a few weeks ago some of his fresh, homegrown, basil, peppers and cucumbers. With such luscious produce, I experimented and came up with this recipe for cold cucumber soup. 

This recipe is extremely fast and easy. It’s almost like salad in a bowl. And, it’s perfect for those time challenging moments when you want something slightly different and slightly fancy.

The measurements are imprecise and VERY flexible.

Ingredients

2 English cucumbers

1 zucchini

(The idea is to have twice as much cucumber to zucchini)

1/2 onion

1/2 pepper

1 lemon juiced

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh basil, chopped

Water to desired consistency, but be careful not to add too much.

Instructions

Place all ingredients into food processor and blend to desired consistency.

Simple, easy & elegant!

I am happy to say that this was a successful experiment. Everyone loved it! The fresh basil made all the difference!

Nothing beats garden fresh produce.

Enjoy!

Lemon Cake In A Mug

Lemon Cake In A Mug

School started just this past week and things have been very hectic in our home.

Among our many changes, Raizel started high school in our new town. To say she has been nervous is an understatement.

Yaffa’s bus route has yet to be finalized as well. Everyday is a new bus adventure: when she will be picked up? When she will be dropped off? And, will she even be picked up at all?

All of this in a typical day, while working and managing a household. I truly feel that God is carrying me. There is no other explanation for how so much can be done with so little time.

Dolly, from koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com suggested that we make a little celebration in honor of our new and many transitions to ease the level of tension and anxiety.

Unfortunately, I was only able to follow up with her suggestion a few hours before Shabbat last week.

With even greater time challenges than usual, it struck me as a perfect time for a microwave cake.

As I have shared before, these microwave 1 cup cakes are a perfect solution for those moments when you want something sweet, without too much fuss.

I decided to adapt the vanilla cake in a mug recipe and make it into a lemon cake instead. I substituted lemon juice for milk and added lemon zest too. I did not use lemon extract, but I think that could have worked nicely as well.

As a bonus, this cake also does not have eggs. Spelt flour can easily be substituted, for those who do not eat wheat.

I am happy to say that it came out really well!

Ingredients

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup lemon juice. I used freshly squeezed

Zest from 1 lemon

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (1 capful)

Optional: lemon extract could be good too.

Optional: sprinkle icing sugar over the cake, after it is baked and while it is still warm.

Instructions

In a large mug, combine dry ingredients until well mixed. Add oil, vanilla lemon zest, and liquid, and mix until well blended.

Microwave for 90 seconds.

If you are uncertain about the power of your microwave, start with 1 minute and increase the time as necessary.

Sprinkle icing sugar on top if desired after it’s baked, and while it is still warm.

Here are the pictures. I am happy to say that some where taken by me, others by Raizel, and one was even taken by Yaffa, with Raizel’s assistance.

Raizel guided Yaffa to take this picture. Please forgive the mess in the background, but, you get a good idea of what preparing for the Sabbath is all about.

Getting ready to mix.

Mixing it up. Raizel took the picture.

About it go into the microwave.

Final product. Voila!

Raizel says, “it’s good! In fact it’s very good. In fact, it’s delicious!”

Yaffa says, “it’s good! I like it!” In a full sentence no less.

I am happy to say that it was eaten before the night was over. It’s not chocolate, but definitely still a hit.

Enjoy!

Pan Seared Tuna Steaks

Pan Seared Tuna Steaks

Please excuse the double posting of this recipe.

For some reason, I posted this recipe today, but, rather than posting with today’s date, it backdated it.

In the past, when this occurred, it caused an error message.

So, I am posting it again, in an attempt to help fix the error.

Just in case, this is the link to the post that accidentally was backdated:

http://wp.me/p3GhIj-Jn

During the 9 Days, I learned how to cook fresh tuna steaks successfully for the first time.

In the past, I have only rarely tried to make fresh tuna. And, the few times when I did, it came out very dry and without flavor.

This time, I searched online for how to cook fresh tuna.

I think that it really helped me to understand how to cook fresh tuna better.

In addition, I used the stovetop grill on our new stove. Everything tastes better grilled on cast iron.

This recipe is based on the sites that I found, and the links are posted below.

According to what I read online, the key to grilling fresh tuna is to only cook it for 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch stake.

Since I was concerned about over cooking it, I only cooked it for 4 minutes per side.

I have discovered that cooking tuna is a little like cooking a medium steak: you want to have a layer of pink inside.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fennel

1 tablespoon coriander

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Lemon juice

Spray oil

Instructions

Blend spices together. I do not have a mortar and pestle so I used a wooden rolling pin and crushed the spices.

Heat grill on high. Spray oil the grill. When hot, place fish on grill, 4 minutes per side.

When done, add lemon juice and fresh herbs.

I set the timer for 4 minutes and I really think that’s what made the difference. Rather than guessing, it made it more precise and hopefully more predictable outcome.

img_5172

Seasoning the tuna before cooking

 

 

Cooking the first side on the griddle

Cooking the first side on the griddle

Successfully flipped over and cooking the second side.

Successfully flipped over and cooking the second side.

Voila! The final product.

Voila! The final product.

Success!

My husband said, “This is fantastic! You totally nailed it!”

He also said, “This is the most perfect way to grill tuna.”

A ringing endorsement. This recipe is definitely husband approved.


img_5409
Enjoy!

References:

This was where I learned how to cook fresh tuna and where I got the recipe from:

http://www.bhg.com/recipes/fish/basics/how-to-cook-tuna/

http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/how-to-cook-tuna-steak-jamie-oliver/#K1iHiohobdmYK6yH.97

 

Broiled Salmon

During the 9 Days, which just passed, we do not eat meat or poultry.

Instead, fish becomes a staple.

This recipe for salmon is my “go to and tried and true standby.” 

It’s simple, fast and easy, with a touch of elegance. 

Ingredients 

Salmon fillets or salmon stakes

Pepper

Garlic 

Lemon and/or lime zest

Lemon and/or lime, juiced

Optional: fresh crushed garlic 

Optional: chopped fresh herbs

Instructions 

Rinse fish and place on tray. Sprinkle pepper and garlic to taste.

Broil until done.

Zest and juice a lemon and if using a lime. While fish is still warm, pour zest and lemon and/or lime juice over fish.

Voila! Fast, easy, all natural fish with a gourmet touch.

Here are the pictures:

fish on tray with spices

lemon zest and fresh squeezed lemon juice

final product. My husband liked it so much, he took a bite before I could take a picture.

This recipe is a hit every time! 

Needless to say, it was gone by the next day.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon — Joint Post

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon

The blogging world has opened up so many new culinary opportunities.

The beauty of blogging is that I get to virtually visit the kitchens of people all over the world and then adapt the recipes to suite my family’s taste. Hence, I recently posted a recipe which I called Lentils Napoleon. Here is the link: https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/lentils-napoleon/

I adapted the recipe based on The Eggplant Napoleon recipe posted by Dolly, who is behind the apron of koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com.

Here is the link to her wonderful blog: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the link for her post on Eggplant Napoleon:

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/

However, I must apologize for an inadvertent culinary faux pas: Lentils Napoleon is really a misnomer.

Through this joint post, I have learned that my lentil dish should have been named Lentils with Cumin and Sumac.

And, how did I learn this?

Because Dolly, who is a dedicated teacher, kindly reminded me that “Napoleon” really refers to anything baked in thin layers interspersed with something creamy.

My lentil dish was certainly not that. I simply liked the spices she used and thought I would use lentils instead.

BUT, my malapropism has led to this current hands-on learning experience.  Dolly is a genuine educator: she suggested that we do a joint post on a “real” Lentils Napoleon.

Our goal is to post as simultaneously as possible both of our recipes, using the culinary concept of layering vegetables interspersed with something creamy, the real culinary definition of Napoleon-style dishes.

Here is the link to Dolly’s post on Beets and Beans Napoleon. I am sorry but I don’t know how to make a short link:

Beets and Beans Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/beets-and-beans-napoleon/

For me, this has been a real opportunity to see how unique we all are.  We infuse our own special spark into everything we do.

Our own special spark

Raizel’s painting from camp.

Based on a more careful reading of Dolly’s post, and some online research, I discovered that Wolfgang Puck, the original creator of Beets Napoleon, used goat cheese between layers of beets.

For this post, I decided to use thinly sliced zucchini between a tofu-lentil creamy layer.  I thought that tofu, with a dash of vinegar, would recreate a more goat cheese-like texture. In addition, I had run out of lentils, and I didn’t feel like shopping for more.

Raizel was my hands-on helper in this activity. She came home from camp this week, and was very excited when I suggested we make this dish for our joint post.

Raizel helped with the actual cooking, and she also took some of the photos. Raizel has a unique gift for coming up with recipes that are often quite good. But, photography is one of her passions; and of course, she loved using my phone as a camera!

Lentil-Tofu Napoleon

Ingredients:

For Tofu-Lentil Layer:

1 lbs. firm tofu

Spice mix:

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1-2 teaspoons garlic power

1 teaspoon pepper, and cumin

½ teaspoon coriander, and sumac

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional: fresh cilantro

Optional: Leftover Napoleon Lentils

Vinegar to taste, in order to get a slightly tangy taste for the tofu. I used red wine vinegar, but I think that apple cider vinegar would be good too.

Vegetable Layer:

3 Zucchini, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Lentil Tofu Creamy layer: Slice the tofu about 5 mm thick and sprinkle spices on top. Spray oil grill, and cook the tofu until done.

I took the leftover lentils from when I first posted the recipe and pureed it together with the tofu and added the vinegar.

The vinegar gives it a nice tang and a creamy texture.

Then I adjusted the seasoning.

Raizel said, “It looks terrible but it tastes great.”

Vegetable layer: Slice the zucchini is thin slices. I have a wonderful compact grater/slicer that I used. It is very sharp and is able to slice 2 different thickness. It also has 3 blades for various grating. Raizel actually sliced the zucchini and she did it very well!

Sauté zucchini in pan, sprayed with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer zucchini in a small, lightly oiled dish. Next add layer of tofu-lentils, and continuing layering until near the top. Top layer should be of zucchini.

Bake covered for 20 minutes or until cooked.

I made this in individual servings. I think that it could be made in a larger pan, and then sliced when cooked. However, it might be difficult to  maintain the desired layered look. Wolfgang Puck, I believe, used a cookie cutter to get a uniform and attractive serving portion.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Here are the pictures. Since I made it with Raizel and she likes photography, we took quite a few.

 

Tofu marinating with the spices.

Raizel slicing the zucchini. Go Raizel!

Sauteing the zucchini.

Raizel placing the tofu on the grill.

Raizel cooked the tofu by herself!

Pureeing the tofu

Ready to cook!

Voila! The final product!

 

The verdict:  The recipe objectively came out great. However, subjectively, is was not well received.

After it was so beautifully prepared, my husband reminded me that he does not like anything creamy. Raizel, who was very excited and very enthusiastic during the whole process, also didn’t eat it. Despite her protestations, Raizel does not like anything creamy either.

In the end, I was the only one who ate it. I thought it tasted great.

I also ate the leftover tofu “cream” during the week, as a spread on rice cakes.

Overall, I would say that this recipe is delicious, but for someone else’s family.

What did I learn?

I have my own song in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their own song.

For my family, simple is best.

Finally, I had lots of fun discussing and planning this with Dolly. We had a bonding experience!Thank you Dolly!

 

 

Gazpacho Soup

Today, I had a wonderful group with my patients.

Sometimes, when I run a group, I ask patients to introduce themselves with the following questions: “what do you love to do?” Or, “what do you do that makes you lose track of time?”

Surprisingly, such a simple question generates a lot of discussion. It engenders positive feelings of well-being and it is an opportunity for patients to share with each other their passions in life.

One patient, Henri, (I wrote about him in The Birthday Party https://coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/the-birthday-party/) shared in an earlier group that he loves to garden and he even grows his own vegetables.

Today, he surprised us. He brought in his first crop of tomatoes. With such luscious tomatoes, I decided to make gazpacho soup.

I have not made gazpacho soup in years. I forgot how great it is.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Perel (A”H). Aunt Perel was a fabulous cook! I think of her often, especially when I cook.

Cooking was Aunt Perel’s passion in life. She could quote the source and the originator of a particular recipe the way other people discuss academic research.

This soup is particularly great when using fresh, ripe tomatoes. It feels like eating salad in a bowl.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs ripe tomatoes

3/4 cup onions

1 cucumber, peeled

1 small green pepper

1-2 garlic cloves

1.5 teaspoons salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup olive oil (can add up to 1/3 cup, but my family does not like things with too much oil)

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

Optional: 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs, or serve with croutons

Instructions

Place ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. Adjust seasoning. Serve chilled.

tomatoes shared during our group

voila! final product

I must say, this soup surpassed my wildest expectations!

My husband loved it! He said, “this is fantastic! I don’t even like gazpacho….. Can I have some more?”

A true vote of confidence!

Many blessings to Aunt Perel (A”H) for sharing her wonderful recipes and culinary expertise.

 

Pan Seared Tuna Steaks

During the 9 Days, I learned how to cook fresh tuna steaks successfully for the first time.

In the past, I have only rarely tried to make fresh tuna. And, the few times when I did, it came out very dry and without flavor.

This time, I searched online for how to cook fresh tuna.

I think that it really helped me to understand how to cook fresh tuna better.

In addition, I used the stovetop grill on our new stove. Everything tastes better grilled on cast iron.

This recipe is based on the sites that I found, and the links are posted below.

According to what I read online, the key to grilling fresh tuna is to only cook it for 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch stake.

Since I was concerned about over cooking it, I only cooked it for 4 minutes per side.

I have discovered that cooking tuna is a little like cooking a medium steak: you want to have a layer of pink inside.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon fennel

1 tablespoon coriander

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Lemon juice

Spray oil

Instructions

Blend spices together. I do not have a mortar and pestle so I used a wooden rolling pin and crushed the spices.

Heat grill on high. Spray oil the grill. When hot, place fish on grill, 4 minutes per side.

When done, add lemon juice and fresh herbs.

I set the timer for 4 minutes and I really think that’s what made the difference. Rather than guessing, it made it more precise and hopefully more predictable outcome.

Seasoning the tuna before cooking

Cooking the first side on the griddle

Successfully flipped over and cooking the second side.

Voila! The final product.

Success!

My husband said, “this is fantastic! You totally nailed it!”

He also said, “this is the most perfect way to grill tuna.”

A ringing endorsement. This recipe is husband approved.

Enjoy!


References:

This was where I learned how to cook fresh tuna and where I got the recipe from:

http://www.bhg.com/recipes/fish/basics/how-to-cook-tuna/

http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/how-to-cook-tuna-steak-jamie-oliver/#K1iHiohobdmYK6yH.97

Lentils Napoleon 

This recipe is an adaptation of  Eggplant Napoleon made by Dolly at koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com

I wanted to make something fast, easy, and flavorful, which also included sumac. 

Before blogging, I had never heard about this spice. Now, however, Raizel, my budding gourmet, loves it! She often requests recipes with sumac, and she will even suggest a recipe so that I can specifically include it. Dolly said that sumac has a lemony taste. That was how I enticed my husband to try it.

Raizel and I are also big fans of cumin. 

So, I took the spice combination that Dolly used for the eggplant and substituted lentils instead. I suspect that other beans could be used too. 

What is nice about the red lentils is that they break apart, and then can be used like a spread.

If you are not already acquainted with Dolly, please go and check out her wonderful blog. I am a big fan!

Eggplant Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen from https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/?c=316#comment-316

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

4 cups water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon sumac

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Wash and rinse lentils. Add water. Cook until tender. Add spices.

The secret is to make sure not to add too much water. I actually did, as you can see from this picture, so I needed to drain the water out before adding the spices.

Lentils cooking in the pot.

Spiced lentils, without garnish

Served with fresh herbs.

This was a hit. My husband said, “this is killer. I usually don’t even like these spices.”

I have been eating it this week, and it is delicious served with rice or on crackers. Thank you Dolly!

Enjoy!

Vanilla Cake In A Mug

Vanilla Cake In A Mug

We are still unpacking, so I have not yet started to bake again yet.

These microwave 1 cup cakes are a perfect solution for those moments when you want something sweet, without too much fuss.

Yaffa said that she wanted a vanilla cake, and that she likes vanilla more than chocolate. That she could even vocalize that in and of itself is amazing. I had to honor her request.

This cake was a bit of a risk. I made the recipe up, based on the proportions of flour to sugar in the brownie cake posted earlier. As a bonus, this cake also does not have eggs. Spelt flour can easily be substituted, for those who do not eat wheat.

I am happy to say that it came out really well!

Ingredients

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup milk (or liquid of your choice. I used rice milk)

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (1 capful)

Instructions

In a large mug, combine dry ingredients until well mixed. Add oil, vanilla and liquid, and mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

Microwave for 90 seconds

If you are uncertain about the power of your microwave, start with 1 minute and increase the time as necessary.

Adding the wet ingredients to the dry.

Mixing the batter until smooth.

In this version, I added chocolate chips.

Baked with chocolate chips.

 

 

Final product with chocolate chips added on top by Raizel.

 

 

Raizel said, “This is soooooo good. It needs ice cream.”

My husband said, “Very cool. It’s pretty gosh darn good!”

Fast, easy, all natural, healthy and even small kitchen approved.

Pancakes For One

Pancakes (or Waffles) for One

My children are both in public schools. Consequently, there are usually very few other children at school who also keep kosher.

Events where there is food involved take a bit of planning.

If there is a birthday party for a classmate, or another special event around food, I will send in a similar kosher item for the girls to eat.

I try to make whatever I send appealing and special. I hope that this way, neither one of them will feel left out or deprived.

Last week, Raizel’s class went to a local diner for brunch. The goal was to learn how to speak to a waitress, communicate what you want to eat, stick to a budget, handle money, etc.

This always presents a quandary for me. While I am happy to have Raizel learn these tasks, I struggle with what she will eat, when she cannot eat anything that she orders.

Raizel explained her dilemma to her teacher, who then asked if he could speak to me. As a member of a religious minority, I very often have to explain to their teachers and the administrators about our food restrictions.

Her teacher was very kind and respectful. It was his suggestion that I send Raizel to the restaurant with kosher food that she could eat with her class.

This time, I made Raizel pancakes, using our new wonderful stove top grill. Since pancakes are not very popular in our house, I only wanted to make just enough pancakes for one serving.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup flour

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon –a dash

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon oil

3 drops of vanilla

Optional extras:

Maple syrup, ¼ berries, chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, 1 teaspoon icing sugar, butter

Instructions: 

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl. Then, add the egg, oil, milk and vanilla and stir until smooth and well mixed.

Spray oil the grill and heat over a medium hot flame. When the grill is hot, pour batter onto the grill until desired size and cook on one side until lightly browned. I added chocolate chips on top of each pancake. Then, using a spatula, turn each pancake over and cook on the other side.

For waffles, cook according to the settings recommended for the waffle maker.

I served the pancakes with maple syrup. When I packed the pancakes in a container, I added the maple syrup inside the container with an even smaller container.

The pancakes came out great and Raizel loved them!

I think that now that we have this wonderful stove top grill, I am likely to be making pancakes more often. Since I only spray oiled the grill, they came out light and fluffy and not greasy.

 

Mixing the dry ingredients in a bowl.

The batter mixed up until smooth.

Pancakes on the griddle.

Chocolate chips added on top.

final product, in process.

Served with maple syrup on the side.

Raizel said, “this is the best recipe ever! Usually I don’t even like pancakes.”

References:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Old-Fashion-Pancakes-Single-Serving/
http://itsautumnslife.com/waffles-for-one/