Author Archive

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oatmeal kefir buckwheat muffins

April 5, 2020

1 cup quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats if you like a chewy muffin)
1 cup home-cultured milk kefir (or buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. buckwheat flour or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
spices, if you like (I added cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, etc.)

In a bowl, soak oats in buttermilk for 15 minutes if using quick cook oats. If using old fashioned oats, soak overnight. Stir in egg, sugar and oil. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt; stir into oat mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400° until muffins test done, 16-18 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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adapted from taste of home by friedsig

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Very quick and easy recipe. Not as sweet as lemon muffins (just a half-cup of sugar instead of two cups). I liked the warming spices in this. The texture was almost a little too chewy with the old-fashioned oats soaked for only fifteen minutes, so I altered the recipe to reflect a recommendation to soak overnight. (To be fair, the original called for quick cook oats.)

I think the healthy boosts – the buckwheat flour and thicker oats – were good choices.

My other note? If you’re using sour kefir you cultured a long time ago, shaking the clumpy stuff won’t be enough. Strain or mash the clumps out, or else you will get little bitter pockets in the finished product.

Next time, I will:
– try butter instead of oil
– try straining the kefir
– try a more savory flavor profile. Googling “garlic oat muffin” provides no results. Should we make the world’s first garlic oat muffin?
– try cutting the sugar (although they do caramelize nicely where they touch the tin)

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If you’re looking for creative ways to use up your endless supply of chunky home-cultured kefir, I have a similar recipe – an Irish soda bread with oatmeal. More easy no-knead breads? Check out this sweet soda bread, or this savory rosemary and black pepper soda bread if you’re watching your sugars.

If you’re not watching your sugar consumption, home-cultured kefir is great in this super-sweet brown bread.

If you’re adventurous, you should definitely try this kefir-cultured “potato cheese”, but don’t blame me when your kitchen smells… uh…. “cheesy”.

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anita’s meatloaf

March 17, 2020

Did you ever mean to type “meatloaf” but you type “meatload” instead?

I think this is why most people don’t like meatloaf.
Not because of a typo.
Because most meatloaf is just a meatload. Dense, dry, almost painful to eat. Flavorless. Just a load of meat. Without oats or breadcrumbs to bind, veggies to add textural interest, moisture in the form of some condiments inside the loaf, and onions and garlic for flavor, meatloaf can be downright unpleasant.

This meatloaf is different. It is everything I like – sweet, savory, and filling. The meat is kept moist by condiments. Of course, you can use a classic ketchup, but I love the complexity of barbecue sauce, apricot jam, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or mustard.

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my version:

– saute carrots on a med-high heat
– after a while, add minced onions, sour apples, peppers, or whatever you have
– when caramelized, add garlic. turn off the heat when everything is caramelized.
– separately, in a large bowl, add
+ a pound of ground chicken to a half a pound of pork or very fatty beef (like 75/25)
+ a large egg or two small eggs
+ breadcrumbs (maybe a half-cup or so; can use oats, gluten-free cracker crumbs, or anything similar)
+ apricot jam, unsweetened applesauce, mustard, or barbecue sauce to taste. more than you’d think, around a half-cup
+ something savory, like a few drops of fish sauce or worcestershire sauce
+ a handful of dried fruit (apricots, raisins, whatever) and chopped nuts (whatever you have, pistachio or almond)
+ spices – lots of garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground black pepper – or get creative!

my mom’s version:

“I don’t actually have a recipe for the one I make at home frequently…..it’s just a lb. of ground chicken (I like it better than turkey), an egg, about a cup of bread crumbs, about ½ to 1 c. of BBQ sauce to which I add a few chopped dried cranberries and commonly a couple of pinches of smoked paprika. – all of which I mix with sautéed and cooled: ½ large or 1 medium finely chopped onion (sautéed until translucent), 1 or 2 finely chopped celery stalks, and a few finely chopped carrots. I do it differently depending on what I have in the house. In the past I’ve substituted Saucy Susan for the BBQ sauce and I’ve added sautéed sweet potatoes. I bake it in a moderate oven for about 40 min. If I have bacon in the house, I’ll lay that on top before baking.” -Anita

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WHAT TEMPERATURE?

325 = ina garten, alton brown

350 = ellie at food network, betty crocker, spend with pennies, the neelys, brown eyed baker

375 = paula deen

400 = mar-mar-stew-stew, the kansas beef council

425 = bobby flay

if you like a soft meatloaf, go with a lower temperature. if you like a crust, go for a higher temperature. as you can see, everyone has a different preference, and there is no “wrong” temperature for a meatloaf!

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MEATLOAF TIPS:
– DON’T OVERMIX! #1 easiest way to mess up a meatloaf. think of it like a burger – it’ll get weird if you smush it too much.
– let it rest after pulling it from the oven, like a steak or any other meat. cutting it too early will encourage the juices to leave, making a dry meatloaf.
– like the crust the best? form the meatloaf free-form on a baking sheet. you get crust on the top and sides, too! make sure to bump up the oven temp to 400.
– hate the crust? make it in a loaf pan, and leave the heat low, like 325.
– watching your calories? DON’T go with 100% lean turkey meat without at least a little fat, or it will come out dense. you can still make a very healthy meatloaf with just a bit of beef.
– if you’re making it super lean, you can soak bread in milk or veggie stock, and use that instead of breadcrumbs to bind the loaf. that will help keep it from drying out.
– think of texture when you’re planning the veggies. roasted sweet potato adds moisture, nuts and seeds add crunchy textural interest. caramelize some carrots, and leave some less cooked for the consistency.
– don’t skimp on the sauteed veggies! they add moisture, flavor, and texture!
– pan-fry slices of leftover meatloaf for an amazing sandwich.
(tips from my own experience, and bread-soaking tip from the today show)

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE SWEET?
– instead of apricot jam, use mustard, worcestershire, a little fish paste and hot sauce, or another savory condiment. leave out the dried fruit.
– substitute carrots and apples with more savory vegetables, like fennel, cauliflower, grated cabbage, or mushrooms.
– use savory spices. this recipe is totally flexible, and just as good with cumin and chipotle as with smoked paprika and thyme, or hot chilis and green onions. get creative!

MIX IT UP:
– caramelize onions in cider vinegar or a splash of apple juice or honey for sweetness – or add a pinch of baking soda to get them to caramelize faster, according to cook’s illustrated
– go with a theme for the seasoning. curry powder, cashews, and apples? thyme, dijon mustard, and sausage? roasted poblanos, jalapenos, bell peppers, and chili powder for a four-pepper meatloaf? moroccan spice blend? peanuts and sweet potatoes? oregano, thyme, basil, and a little spaghetti sauce? the only limit is your imagination!
– replace some of the ground chicken with ground turkey. replace the ground pork with ground beef or sausage. replace some of the chicken with sauteed mushrooms.
– cook’s illustrated turkey meatloaf calls for a half-cup of grated Parmesan and 3T melted butter mixed into the turkey meat for texture and flavor – but they say never use 99% lean meat, as it will become “pasty” or “mushy and compact” when cooked – they recommend 85% lean

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How does your family make their meatloaf?

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roasted poblano and white bean soup

February 20, 2020

This recipe, from Rhubarb and Cod, is definitely my favorite new vegan recipe. It may not be a traditional Mexican soup, but it takes a LOT less time than traditional Mexican soups like menudo – and it can easily be made vegan!

Here’s my version, with LOTS of alterations – some due to cost, some to cut the prep time, and some just for my preferences in taste. Add any soup veggie to this (or anything that looks sad in the bottom of your produce drawer.) Anything from fennel root to potatoes would be delicious in this!

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3 poblanos (one or two if they’re spicy and fresh)

half a large onion
a few cloves of roasted or raw garlic
whatever veg you have in the house (carrots, celery, etc.)
half a can of corn, drained
white beans (two small cans, or about a cup of dried beans simmered in garlic and onion and stock. either way, use about 3c. cooked beans.)
a few fistfuls of spinach

spices, to taste:
smoked paprika
mexican oregano (you can sub marjoram or regular oregano)
cumin
coriander
cayenne or chipotle if your poblanos are mild
salt

vegetable or chicken stock

honey (opt.)

topping:
fresh lime juice
raw cilantro (opt.)
hot sauce (opt.)
goat cheese or plain yogurt (opt.)

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first, blister your poblano(s). grill them on a high heat, lay them directly on the burner of your gas stove, or roast at the highest heat in your oven. whichever method you choose, make sure that the skin is jet black. it should look worryingly blackened. rub off the black flakes – run under water if it’s taking too long.

in a soup pot, get some onions (and any hard veggies, like carrots) started over medium heat with whatever fat or oil you like for soups. olive oil, coconut oil, whatever.

when soft or caramelized, add any smaller or softer veggies, like corn, garlic, etc.

when everything looks great, add stock or broth, spices and herbs, and the cooked white beans.

taste it. if it’s great, add it all to a blender with the raw spinach and everything else. if you don’t like a blended soup (or don’t want to clean your blender, or don’t actually own a blender,) just leave it chunky! if you don’t have a blender, you can also mash the beans with a fork before adding.

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the original recipe is quite labor-intensive. roast canned corn? who has time for that?

this version was still delicious with much less hassle.

HIGHLY recommended!

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easy savory congee (garlic rice porridge)

January 22, 2020

Congee is the ultimate comfort food. If you like carbs, and you like sipping on soup or tea, you are going to love congee. If you have an upset stomach, or a toothache, you are going to love congee. If it’s cold out, and you want to get warmed up, you are going to love congee. It’s totally foolproof – anyone can make this.

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Add a bunch of water and rice to a pot (about a half cup rice for eight cups of water/broth/stock)

Add garlic powder, black pepper, and a few splashes of chicken stock or a few ice cubes worth of frozen chicken stock. You can really mix it up here – substitute veggie stock or broth with no problem. You can add five spice powder, or your favorite seasoning. Anything from curry powder to roasted garlic and scallions to mushrooms (fresh or dried) is great in congee. Toss in leftover meats or grilled veggies or whatever leftovers you have.

Takes a while, but you can mostly just ignore it, simmering on a low heat and stirring every once in a while. It’s ready when it’s a gloopy mash. Drizzle toasted sesame oil and la jiao jiang (hot pepper oil) on top – or yogurt and chives – or a little miso paste – or whatever you are craving.

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Can’t go wrong with congee. The more cold, sick, or sad I feel, the better this tastes. It got me through a root canal, plenty of hangovers, and lots of cold nights. It really warms you from the inside out. It’s the ultimate soft food (I dare you to find a food softer than this!) and perfect for babies, and adults who are acting like babies.

I know “porridge” (or, worse, “gruel”) might sound weird to Americans – it reminds me of Goldilocks and The Three Bears – but if you like chicken and rice soup, that’s basically what this is. If you eat polenta, grits, oatmeal, or cream of wheat, you can probably already see how good this rice congee tastes.

My favorite lately is congee cooked with stock/broth and lots of garlic, dried shiitake mushrooms, leftover roasted veggies, and a pinch of five spice powder, served with a poached egg on top, sesame seeds, and LOTS of hot chili oil.

It’s also a great base for a one-pot meal. Throw in cooked meat, chopped veggies – whatever you want.

Infinitely customizable, impossible to mess up, totally different, and extremely comforting. What could be better?

If you like sweet better than savory, try this eight treasure congee (八宝粥) with dried fruit and nuts. It tastes perfect with some brown sugar, like oatmeal but even more like a warm hug.

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easy shawarma-spiced roasted chicken

January 16, 2020

Simple go-to weeknight roasted chicken recipe.

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

just combine the spices, mix with the oil, pour over chicken, and bake your favorite way

I like getting the oven pre-heated (425 or 450; any lower and the chicken will bake pale and won’t roast,) starting the cast-iron over med-high heat, and scorching the skin until it shrinks up a bit.
Then I flip the thighs, and finish off in the oven. Depending on the size of the thighs, you may only need 10 to 15 minutes in the oven!

adapted by friedsig from Rhoda Boone via bon appetit

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They say to serve with pita, a cucumber-tomato salad with red onion, and a simple tahini-yogurt sauce. I ate it with my fingers, dipped in a tahini-yogurt-lemon-garlic sauce similar to her recipe here. The spices were very subtle – nothing a picky eater would reject – not spicy, or strongly spiced – just a little something different to mix up your roasted chicken routine. For my taste, I would probably double the spices next time, and definitely add the cucumber-tomato salad. And, hey, if you’re too broke or too lazy to eat it with pita, just say you’re being gluten-free and paleo and keto! I’m not broke; I’m just “watching my macros”!

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beef rendang (indonesian / malaysian coconut beef)

January 9, 2020

This is a big YES! One of the best beef dishes I know. Just a warning that if you use a cheap, lean beef roast, this might take three to five hours of simmering to become “fork-tender”. The beef was tough after being simmered for only an hour, so I gave it another two hours, and it started to really soften up like brisket. If your meat is lean, try doing this in your slow-cooker. (I don’t own a slow cooker, so I just used a big dutch oven style pot, and it was fine!)

Spice Paste:
3/4 cup grated coconut (I used less, because I used a thicker style of coconut strip instead of a grated coconut)
15 dried chillies (I used about eight and I’d definitely 100% recommend a few more. 15 probably sounds right.)
10 shallots, sliced (I used one. Shallots are expensive.)
4 cloves garlic, sliced (I used five or six to compensate for less shallots.)
1 inch ginger (20 g), sliced
1 inch galangal (20 g), sliced (I omitted this)
1 inch turmeric (10 g), sliced
2 stalks lemon grass, sliced (I used dried old lemongrass and the flavor was not strong.)
4-6 bird chillies, optional

chunk of beef, 1-1.5lb., sliced into one or two inch chunks

1 stick cinnamon, about 2-inch length
3 cloves
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods
tamarind paste or pulp
6 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves (I left these out and they were fine.)
rock sugar or palm sugar (or regular sugar)
6 T toasted coconut (I used larger dried coconut strips, toasted in an unoiled skillet)
1 c coconut milk, plus 1 c water poured into the coconut milk can to use the solids
(optional) one turmeric leaf tied into a knot (I used one from my plant and the flavor was great. Recommended.)
salt to taste

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1. Blend spice paste ingredients. You can use a mortar and pestle, blender, food processor, or, if you have to, the side of your knife.

2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar or palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.

3. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up. Add more salt and sugar to taste. Serve immediately with steamed rice. The leftovers are great frozen or packed away for the rest of the week.

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adapted from a few versions, mostly the rasa malaysia and serious eats versions

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If you eat beef, this should absolutely be on your list of special occasion dishes, to eat for birthdays or just to cheer yourself up during a long cold winter. The smell of beef rendang simmering, and the warmth of it on your stovetop, is powerful enough to beat back the winter blues. Sweet, sour, spicy, savory, creamy… this dish is everything. Perfect for a long, lazy January weekend.

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green dill matzoh balls

December 17, 2019

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or chicken schmaltz
1 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup seltzer water
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more

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mix, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then roll into balls. drop into boiling chicken stock, simmer for 40-45 min, or until tender and puffy.

recipe by Leah Koenig for epicurious

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I loved the dill in these! However, for me personally, these were not my favorite recipe. I have read that seltzer makes matzoh balls tender, but this recipe was more mushy than tender. Definitely edible, perfectly fine matzoh balls. I like a light, delicate “floater”, and I also like a dense and chewy “sinker”. This middle ground mush (a hoverer?) was not my favorite! Not sure if it was due to the proportion of eggs to oil to matzoh, or the seltzer, or what. This was my first time trying plain seltzer in matzah balls, and I am not sold on it.

I invested in a giant mess of discounted matzoh this year, so I will keep trying matzoh ball recipes throughout the winter. I’ll let you know if I find my ideal recipe!

Looking to use a whole mess of dill? Make these matzoh balls, and serve the soup with beet salad with dilled yogurt!

Looking to expand your Jewish cooking repertoire? This spicy melon berry and mint salad is surprising, and this latke recipe is traditional!