Jewish Archive

Thursday, December 22, 2011

parsnip latkes with horseradish and dill

parsnip latkes with horseradish, dill

I have this affliction or maybe you could call it a fixation with latkes. And I know you’re probably thinking, potato pancakes? With shredded onion? They’re good, but are they really worth obsessing over? But you’d be using the literal definition of latkes and to me, latkes are not so much a singular recipe with a finite ingredient list but an approach to pancakes; an approach that could include anything that can be shredded and fried. And oh, when you start from this vantage point, they most certainly will.

parnsips, potato -- not pretty yet
shredded

I’ve made potato latkes, sure. Many times, even. But then I made mixed vegetable latkes with Indian spices and curry-lime yogurt. I made apple latkes, replete with a caramel sauce made from the juice you wring from the shredded apples. (I waste nothing in the kitchen. My grandmother would be so proud!) This past summer, I made zucchini fritters to solve a dinner crisis. And now, there’s this: Parsnips. Potatoes. Dill. Horseradish. Lemon juice.

ready to wring out

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

apple and honey challah

apple honey challah, sliced

This month has came and has now almost gone and I’ve missed it entirely. It’s a shame, because September is my second favorite but less of a shame than it would be if I am still saying the same about October, which is my actual favorite. Nevertheless, I put my foot down and decided I absolutely, unequivocally would not let this month go without at least making you an apple honey challah. Due to my innate gift for impeccable timing (ha), I got the idea for this about two days after the High Holidays ended last year. So, for the better part of 12 months, I’ve plotted this spin on traditional challah and am still about six hours late on it. Typical.

baking with macs

Honey challahs are surprisingly easy — you simply swap sugar for honey, and you can increase it for a stronger honey flavor. Apple challahs, however, are challenging, mostly because larger chunks of baked apple are far more satisfying to bite into you than pea-sized ones, but they’re also tricky to work into a soft dough, and then shape that dough with a traditional braid. Many recipes I saw for apple challah forewent the braid, and baked the bread in a tin instead but it felt too much like cake to me. Plus, I like playing with Play-Doh bread dough far too much to do that. So, I came to two agreements with my dough. One, that I would not put so much apple in that it was more cake than bread, and also nearly impossible to shape and two, that if apple chunks fell out — and of course, they will — I’d just poke them back in. I’m pretty sure you’re picturing me right now negotiating with a large blob of dough on a speckled counter and your premonition would be correct. At least I’m not talking to myself, right?

spread 2/3 of apple chunks, fold over spread remaining chunks, fold again
tuck into ball, ready for rise 2 flatten, divide into four

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Friday, March 18, 2011

tiny poppy seed 'taschen

tiny poppy seed hamantaschen

My track record with hamantaschen — those three-cornered filled cookies traditionally limited to Purim, but shouldn’t be, because did I mention that they’re cookies? And you can fill them with whatever you want? — is abysmal. I can’t seem to find a recipe that allows them to be as fragrant, buttery, delicate and delicious as I believe they were meant to be that does not completely fall apart once baked. I suspect my insistence on finding my hamantaschen nirvana in a cream cheese-based dough — cream cheese, although tangy and delicious, seems to just flop down and laze about like a kitten in the sun once it hits the oven — plays a part although, given, my sealing technique also “leaves a lot to be desired”. The first year I attempted a recipe on this site, they puffed and pancaked open in the oven. The second year was no better. The third and fourth year, I didn’t even bother.

poppy seeds
zest an orange

But this year, I spied a recipe in Wednesday’s New York Times that although cream cheese-free, gave me hope. Plus, I’ve head so much about traditional poppy seed fillings, but confess that I have no experience with them. The fact that this called for one from scratch (as in, not “open a can of poppy seed filling”) delighted me and the cookie, with its egg yolks and butter, seemed to carry all the marks of a great sweet tart crust-ish/sable-like cookie dough.

poppy seed filling

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

apple latkes

apple latkes with yogurt

A couple years ago, I became determined to make apple latkes. I mean, why not carry the deliciousness of latkes over to dessert? Why should potatoes have all of pan-fried-until-crunchy fun? Not confident in my ability to shred apples and stir in eggs and flour without an established recipe’s guidance, I found about 75 matching recipes online, each attributed to some other place, and all parading under the title “apple latkes”. I made them (and peace with my cast-iron skillet at the same time, hooray) and declared them pancakes, not latkes. They were not what I was looking for, but at least they were tasty.

green apple haulready for the shreddershredded applesready to fry

Fortunately, I’m over my need for other people to tell me how to cook (and just in time!) and set about making some real, proper apple latkes this week. What’s the difference? A true latke is more of a fritter, with only enough egg and flour to hold it together in the pan. A pancake is, well, a puddle with stuff inside. I think about this stuff, I really do. I take latkes, and the proper classification thereof, very seriously.

frying the latkes

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

tangy spiced brisket

brisket, ready to eat

So this year? It’s been fulla brisket. It started at New Years, with the Southwestern Pulled Brisket that made me a brisket person. And also a slow-cooker person. But mostly a brisket in the slow-cooker person because together, magic happens.

transferred to baking dish

Sidebar: Last month, Alex and I were eating leftover brisket for dinner, or trying to, but these gigantic eyes, staring down our forks as went from plate to mouth and back again were making it difficult.

Alex: Jacob, this isn’t for you. You need teeth to eat brisket.
Deb: AHEM.
Alex: But not your mother’s!

[P.S. Jacob has decided that spelt/oat/barley cereal is an excellent stand-in, but I think it’s just because he doesn’t know better.]

back in the dish, sauces poured over

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