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Archive for December, 2009

Aushak

This was a really unique recipe that I spotted in Ruth Reichl’s memoir about her New York Times restaurant critic years. The book, by the way, is great. I loved that she included reprints of some of her more famous reviews and she is a very fluid and vivid writer. The book ends with her taking the editor position at Gourmet though, which is sad as I truly miss Gourmet. Bon Appetit is just not the same.

The recipe is Afghan and it is truly fantastic. I’ve never eaten Afghan food, nor spotted it on too many food blogs, and this is a terrible omission. This is a fabulous dish – spicy, but comforting, filling but not too heavy, and most importantly, beyond delicious. I made some large adjustments to the recipe, perhaps making it less authentically Afghan, but I put the original ingredients in parenthesis. And now am on a hunt for a good Afghan restaurant and more recipes, so I’m taking suggestions.

A final note, this recipe is a bit complicated. But it makes a healthy amount of food, so there will be plenty of leftovers, and I think it is one of those recipes that once you make it a few times and get the hang of it, things will roll more quickly.

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(Why yes, that is a Jewish star ornament on the tree. Its Chrismukkah here).

Merry Christmas gentle readers (all 12 of you!). Thank you for reading!

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Do you like tang? That indescribable taste that makes you take spoonful (or forkful) after spoonful until you look down and realize all the food is gone? If yes, then this is the recipe for you. This was beyond good.

I recently bought an ice cream maker and I thought, where can I find an awesome ice cream recipe? Smitten Kitchen of course! The recipe is Claudia Flemming’s, apparently she has a lovely bed and breakfast on the North Fork called Table and Inn, which I need to go to, and there is an out of print cook book, which I need to buy. Hopefully not for the current asking price on Amazon ($875?!!).

But yes, back to the ice cream. It was delicious. I’ve only had homemade ice cream one other time and I forgot how rich and creamy it is. Much much better than the storebought cartons. I adjusted the recipe only slightly to toss in the blackberries towards the end (hey, they were on sale again!). I liked the idea of whole chunks of berries in the ice cream, but you could easily cook them down into a syrup to mix into the custard base if you like smooth ice cream.

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On Baking

There was a great article in the New York Times Dining Section today about Alabama layer cakes and the cute older ladies who bake them. I’m not sure how I feel about the recipes (boiling icing?) so I plan on making my version of the layer cake (gateau de crepes) very soon. Mmmm…crepes…but I digress. But what I loved most of all about the article (and there were many things to chose from) was the final quote:

But it’s also the best way she knows to make herself feel better.

“If you get down and out,” she said, “just get in the kitchen and bake a cake.”

Perfect.

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Potato Latkes

Happy Hanukkah!

Recently, there have been all these recipes for “healthy latkes” or “foodie latkes” involving zucchini, oats, spaghetti squash and other blasphemous ingredients. This is unacceptable. Latkes should be as simple as possible. My only concession to these ridiculous trends is including apples. Which isn’t even that much of a concession, as much as a compliment to the apple sauce.

But whatever latke recipe you follow, the most important thing is to eliminate as much water as possible from the potatoes. I used paper towels, but next year I might invest in a cheesecloth, as I have heard very good things about their wringing qualities. The next important thing is to use a cast iron pan. Sadly, I did not and I missed it. Cast iron is perfect for frying, it really retains heat and browns the latkes perfectly. But it is possible to make perfectly delicious latkes in a regular non stick pan.

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Ah the wonderful time of year when fresh cranberries are available! The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when if you poke around carefully in the supermarket, you can find whole bags of tart deliciousness. I’ve been stocking up whenever I see them – cranberries freeze really well – so expect more cranberry recipes. Stretching possibly into April.

Bread pudding is such a New Orleans thing that I hesitated to make it. I’ve had it so many times, at so many different restaurants that I really didn’t think I could meet my expectations. But this is a great recipe. The fresh cranberries add a bright fresh note and the French bread really stands up well. I think Challah could work well too, but the pudding would definitely be a not as stiff. And creme anglaise….mmm.

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Pletzlach

In honor of Hannukah, I thought I would not make latkes (well not yet anyway, but they are coming!) and make pletzlach instead. Pletzlach are flattened rolls topped with chopped onions and poppy seeds. I actually had bookmarked this ages and ages ago, but it fell into bookmark oblivion during the Great Computer Crashes of 2007 and 2009 (yes I have terrible luck with computers). But I happily rediscovered it in the Hanukkah recipe slideshow in the New York Times this week.

This is a very simple yeast recipe – it has a lot of yeast and a short rise time, so they come together very quickly. I recently went to a baking demonstration by King Arthur Flour where I finally learned to knead bread properly and I am going to attempt to impart this knowledge via photos. But don’t be dissuaded by what will probably be an overly complicated and overwrought explanation. These are fast, delicious and they smell like a slice of onion-y heaven.


Merged Pletzach

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