Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dried Fruit Compote

Based on a Martha Stewart recipe. This is a crowd-pleasing dessert that goes well after a heavy meal such as at Thanksgiving, Easter or Passover. It's parve, vegan and gluten-free and has no nuts, no wheat and no chocolate. Quick and easy. Suitable for a pot-luck. Make it a day or two ahead or just before the meal.

3 c. apple cider (the result is very sweet so maybe substitute
      part water next time? I used Martinelli's cider
      but would use unfiltered fresh cider in season.)
6 dried pears halves (I cut each pear-half lengthwise into four
      strips, then crosswise into thirds)
12 dried apricots (they also are halves but Martha doesn't
      mention this; I cut them crisscross into quarters)
6 dried pitted prunes, optional (Martha doesn't mention prunes
      but I like the taste and the contrasting dark note to
      what is otherwise all orange-red. I cut them in sixths.)
3/4 c. dried cherries (about 5 oz.)
3/4 c. dried golden raisins (about 5 oz.)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2" piece of raw ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (or more or none: the spicy taste
      seemed to fade away with cooling, so maybe add it after
      cooking? Martha used a pinch of freshly ground white pepper
      which might survive the simmering better.)
* Fruit choices and amounts are pretty much Martha's. You could vary them based on taste, availability, price, etc. For example, pear halves and dried cherries may be harder to find and more expensive than other dried fruit.
-> Chop larger fruit into pieces a little larger than a raisin. Peel the ginger. Zest and juice the lemon. (My zester is hard to use so I just grate the peel on my vintage flat grater).
-> Put all ingredients in a saucepan (2-3 quarts), except maybe not the pepper.
-> Bring to a boil and then, per Martha, "[r]educe to simmer, and cook until fruit is soft and liquid is thick, about 20 minutes."
After 20 minutes my fruit was soft but the liquid was still thin. I gave it another 10 minutes and then tried raising the heat to a gentle boil. After an hour had elapsed - and the liquid was not much thicker than the cider I started with - I took it off the stove. Fortunately, the liquid thickens and is mostly absorbed as the compote cools. I therefore conclude that it would be fine to simmer or gently boil for 20-30 minutes and not to care whether the liquid gets syrupy. If there's still too much liquid after the compote cools, drain some of it and toss or reduce, and the next time use less cider.
-> Remove pot from stove and remove the cinnamon stick and piece of ginger (cook's bonus if you like ginger). Stir in pepper flakes now if you didn't add them before.
-> Martha says "Serve hot, cold or at room temperature." I cooled my compote in the pot with the lid cocked a bit to release steam, then refrigerated it in a covered serving bowl. I took it out before the meal and served it at room temperature for dessert with almond paste macaroons and Phil's Baba's Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe to be posted).
Makes great leftovers. Also could be used over ice cream.
Prep: 10 mins. Cooking: 25 mins (Martha), ~65 mins (me). Optional cooling time: ~30 mins.
rjm 20170412

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Flank Steak (easy, fast, delicious)

              R3A2 5-INGREDIENT MARINADE
               Perfect for Flank Steak
  (based on Ann Arbor Hadassah Cookbook's Marinated Flank Steak)

This marinade can be used with 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of
      Flank Steak (or even 2+lbs)
      Boneless skinless chicken breast
      Fish (salmon steaks work well, or any fillets. Optional:
           replace some of the ginger with lime or lemon zest.)

1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. dry wine, any color but I usually use red
1/2 T. sugar (or a little less), which acts as a tenderizer
Ginger, raw (1+" long x ~3/4" diameter) peeled, chopped small       OR 1/2 tsp ground ginger but I prefer fresh.
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped same size as the raw ginger

(The original recipe had double all these amounts, but you don't need that much for a flank steak that serves 4 or even 6.)

1. Prepare the ginger by removing the skin with a carrot peeler and chopping small, maybe largest dimension no more than 1/8".
2. Put the meat, chicken or fish in a glass or stainless baking dish (not aluminum: too reactive).
3. Pour on the liquids, sprinkle on the sugar, and drop on the ginger and garlic. I like to rub the ginger and garlic in a little with the back of a spoon.
4. If I think of it half way through or even as late as when I preheat the oven, I scrape the ginger and garlic into the liquid, turn the meat over and then spoon the ginger and garlic onto the 2nd side, again rubbing it in with the back of the spoon..

Marinating Time per A2 Hadassh Book for flank steak:
      3-4 hours at room temperature or
      all day or even overnight in fridge.
If you have less time, it's OK, too.

5. When ready to cook, preheat grill or oven.
6. Remove from marinade (but don't toss it quite yet)
7. Broil on the grill or the oven, basting with a little marinade when you turn it over. -OR- Bake at 425: put a little marinade, but not all, in the baking dish to prevent sticking, and baste with soe more marinade part way through. If you bake, you don't have to turn the meat over unless you really want to.

Broiling Times:
If it's flank steak, 4 minutes on a side for rare.
If it's chicken cutlets, 5 minutes on a side.
If it's fish, depends on thickness and desired doneness.

8. For flank steak, cool a few minutes to make it easier to slice, slice about 1/2" thickness, and serve. Chicken and fish can just be served straight away.

Good cold. Great for leftovers.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 3 hours to overnight
Broiling time: 10 minutes
First typed 20020714 rjm, rev 20170315

Thursday, December 17, 2015

No-Roll Pie Crust


Sift directly into pie pan
      1 1/2 c. flour
      1 1/2 tsp. sugar
      1 tsp. salt
In measuring cup, whip with fork
      1/2 c. oil
      2 T. cold milk
Pour liquid over flour. Stir and toss with fork (careful, it will seem like there is a lot of flour) until all the flour is dampened.

With finger tips, make an even layer on the bottom, up the sides and on the rim. Flute/pinch the rim crust with your fingers. If one place is too thick and one too thin, you can patch, but try to be even as you go.

      unfilled: 12-15 min at 425 deg. Before baking, place
           circle of parchment paper on top of crust and fill
           with pie weights or dried beans
      filled: 15 min at 400 deg, then 30 min at 350 deg.

      P.S. At the end of the 30 min., I've been turning off the
      oven but leaving the pie inside for another 30 min.-1 hour
      (because I forget to take it out or I'm taking a nap and
      tell Phil to just turn off the oven when the beeper beeps).
      The crust texture has been perfect every time. I have yet
      to see what it is like if I actually remove the pie when
      the baking time is over.

      P.P.S. Now that I've tried removing the pie on time, I
      think it is a better idea not to, especially when the fruit
      is very juicy. So whether it's accidentally or on purpose,
      leave the pie in the cooling oven to dry out a bit.

Phil's Aunt Shayna mostly made this crust for her fabulous lemon meringue pie. But that may be more ambitious than you want. You can just make any old fruit pie using this crust. What fruit? Really, any of the usual: apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a mixture of two or more. I tend to make apple or peach myself. Here's an R3A2 recipe from Joy of Cooking.

Joy-of recommends
     5 cups of fruit
This seems like a lot to me, but it depends, literally, on how you slice it. If you use apples or pears, peel and core them and then slice them thinly so they cook down faster. If you use peaches or other stone fruit, you don't have to peel them unless you really want to. In that case, use the boiling water trick*. Leave the sliced fruit in a bowl, and in a smaller bowl mix together the SUGAR MIXTURE:
      1/2 to 2/3 c. sugar
      1/8 tsp. salt
      1 to 1 1/2 Tb. corn starch
      1/4 tsp. cinnamon
      1/8 tsp. nutmeg
You can toss the sugar mixture with the fruit and then put everything in the unbaked crust, or you can put a layer of fruit in the crust, top with some sugar mixture, and repeat until everything is used up. Or, if you happen to have put all the fruit in the crust before making the sugar mixture, don't worry. Just pour the sugar mixture all over the fruit. It will sink in and be fine. I often sprinkle some other things on top, such as
      1/8 tsp. allspice or
      ground walnuts (ground unto flour, if I happen to have
           ground too many for Vegetarian Epicure
           Eggplant (recipe on request))

Joy-of says to add lemon juice if the fruit is dry or if you like a little lemon. (I'd squeeze on the juice from 2 wedges of a medium lemon.) Joy-of also says always to dot with butter before baking. I routinely forget to do the butter and have never noticed the lack.

Phil's Aunt Shayna, may she rest in peace, taught Cooking in a middle school in Detroit for many years - which meant that she also taught the kids math, geography, science, nutrition, civics and everything else. I don't know if she invented this recipe or found it somewhere, but it is definitely perfect for middle-schoolers. And for everyone else. It's like making mud pies.

* Boiling Water Trick for Peeling: Fill a small pot about 2/3 full of water and bring to the boil. Have a pyrex cup or bowl half-filled with ice water standing by. Throw in (one at a time) whatever it is that needs peeling (can be a tomato as well as a peach or other fruit). Do _not_ turn off the heat. Leave the thing in the pot for 30 seconds, then remove it with a slotted spoon and plop it into the ice water for about 10 seconds. Take it out and the peel should come right off without any implements. If it needs help, use the tip of a knife to start the removal process. Repeat for the rest of the things in need of peeling. Add water to the pot or the bowl if you need to. Don't worry that the boiling water gets colored by whatever it is you're trying to peel. When you're all done, toss the water - into your garden during a drought.
rjm 8/25/93; 11/13/14;12/17/15

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lemon Bars (R3A2 Version)

LEMON BARS from Totally Lemons Cookbook

Bring to room temp
     1/2 c (1 stick) butter, cut into 1T pieces
     3 eggs
See this Note if you are concerned about room temperature butter or eggs. Also, if you forget to do this step, or still prefer not to bring these things to room temperature, that's OK. But you should still pre-soften the butter by microwaving it for 30 seconds at power level 4 (medium-low).

Grease 8" sq. pan and preheat oven to 350.

Grate zest from 1-2 lemons to make
     1 T + at least another 1/2 tsp grated zest, divided

CRUST: In large bowl, combine
     1 1/4 c flour
     1/4 c confectioner's sugar
Add in
     1/2 tsp (or more) of that ZEST
     that BUTTER
and cut in the butter using two knives crosswise (or your fingertips) until butter is in small bits, none bigger than a pea, and mixture holds shape when pressed. This takes several minutes. Press flour mixture evenly into pan.

Bake 20 minutes. Crust should be golden along edges and may pull away from pan a bit. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325.

THE LEMON LAYER: While the crust is baking, juice
     ~2-3 lemons (the one(s) used for zest are fine for juicing)
to make 1/2 c. (I used 2 Eurekas and one Meyer. The bars were tart and delicious.)

In a large bowl, lightly whisk
     those EGGS
Then add in and whisk some more
     that LEMON JUICE
     1 T of that ZEST
The original recipe says add all the dry ingredients to the big bowl. I think it will be easier (and result in fewer or no clumps that you have to break up by pushing them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon), first to mix in a small bowl
     1/2 tsp baking powder
     2 T flour
and then to stir in a spoonful of the egg-lemon mixture to make a paste. Thin the paste with a little more egg-lemon and then stir the thinned paste into the egg-lemon mixture.

Pour over cooled crust. Back at 325 for 25 minutes. Original recipe says top center should be set when pressed, but it is very hot and I don't want to try pressing it, even wearing an oven mitt. The edges were a little cracked at 25 minutes, and I figured that meant it was ready.

Cool on rack. Dust top, by pushing through a tea strainer,
     ~ 1/2 tsp confectioner's sugar

Cut into ~20 bars (they say 20 squares but 20 is not a square number) and, if you have the time before serving, refrigerate to set the lemon layer and because the bars taste good cold.
rjm 1st made and typed 2015.0717-19

Sunday, May 24, 2015


a good day-before recipe

I make the soup in two batches because Moosewood's amounts are too big to fit in my blender.

Prep time: Moosewood says 10-15 minutes. It took me more like 30.
Refrigeration time: A few hours or overnight.

Take out of the cupboard or fridge or tap
     PEPPER (not in Moosewood but a little white pepper or, for
          contrast, black, is nice)
     2 c. YOGHURT
     2 c. WATER

Later, when ready to serve, if you like garnishing, you will need

     CUCUMBERS, (2 x) 1.5 cucumbers, about 2.5 lb total: peel, seed and chop coarsely. I slice the cucumber vertically and use an apple corer to remove the seeds. For the whole recipe, I use 3 largish cucumbers, 12-15 oz apiece, to get the 4 c total specified by Moosewood. The reason to chop is so that you can measure your cucumber by volume and so that the blender doesn't overheat during the pureeing.
     MINT LEAVES: remove tough stems and tear the leaves into blender-friendly size. Amount? I use (2 x) 1-3 leaves, depending on how big they are. The soup is quite minty if the leaves are too big. Moosewood said "several" leaves for the whole recipe.
     FRESH DILL: remove tough stems and pull apart larger sprigs to blender-friendly size. Amount? Moosewood said 1/4 tsp dill for the whole 2 x. I assume that meant dried. I prefer fresh dill. For the first batch I used 2 small sprigs. That didn't seem dilly enough. For the next batch I used 3 medium-large sprigs. The dill taste was faint but pleasant. (2 x) 3 average sprigs is probably good.
     GARLIC (optional; I omitted it): mince (2 x) 1/2 clove

To make the soup, puree in blender in TWO batches, each batch having
      2 c CUCUMBERS
      1 c YOGHURT (I use whole milk or low fat, not nonfat)
      1 c WATER
      MINT see above
      DILL see above
      HONEY 1/2 T (or a little more)
      3/4 tsp SALT (original full amount was 1 1/2 - 2 tsp)
      GARLIC (unless, like me, you omit)

Put soup into a bowl or pot with a cover. Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Serve cold, garnished (optional) with chives or scallions chopped pretty fine, maybe about 1/4 tsp per person. Very refreshing and tasty.

Makes about 8 cups. Serves 6-8.

Prints on 1 sheet at 60%.
rjm 5/24/15

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Carrot and Ginger Soup


Note 1: When we first moved to Ann Arbor in 1990, the Ann Arbor News regularly printed this recipe in the weekly food section (oh! the glorious days of daily local newspapers), always attributing it to the Silver Palate Cookbook. Later I bought that cookbook. It does have a recipe for carrot soup, but it is different. I have never made it because the differences make me think this one is better.

Note 2: I've made this for vegans and to go with a meat meal for people who keep kosher. The substitutions for vegan/parve are in {italics}.

      1. Prepare
2 oz ginger root, peeled and chopped
     (A2News said 1/4 c. I prefer going by weight.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
     (garlic cloves are so huge these days; 2 or even 1 giant
     one may be enough)
1 large onion (~9 oz.), cut in half and then sliced ~3/8"
Since everything gets pureed in the end, chopping affects cooking times but not ultimate quality.

      2. In Dutch oven or other large pot, melt
6T butter (A2News said unsalted but I always use salted)
     {canola oil}
     and saute for 15-20 minutes

      3. Meanwhile, get ready
1.5 lbs carrots (6-7 medium/large carrots)
     A2News said chop into 1/2" pieces. I slice the fat part of
     the carrot about 3/4" and the skinny part 1 1/4" and if
     any piece looks too big, I slice it vertically.)
1 c. dry white wine
7 c. chicken stock (=4 cans Swansons)
     {vegetable stock and/or kosher chicken-style
      dried soup mix and water, 1 tsp for 1 cup. Commercial
      veg broth is bitter, so I cut the edge by using some soup
      mix or adding a bit of kosher apricot jam at the end.
     My own chicken stock is less salty and has more celery
      flavor than Swanson, but I don't always have any on hand.

      4. When ginger mixture is ready, add
     and bring to boil. Then simmer uncovered ~45 minutes
     until carrots are fork-tender. When done, puree in blender.
I puree in batches of about 1 1/2 c. at a time, because blenders overheat and splash if they have too much liquid. I use a small coffee cup to move a mix of broth and vegetables to the blender. Once pureed, I put the pureed soup in a new pot. The soup is a gorgeous bright orange.

      5. Stir in
2 T lemon juice (~1 lemon)
1/8 tsp curry powder
     A2 News said "pinch" but I use more or less than a pinch
      (=1/8 tsp) depending on the freshness and heat of my curry
1/8 tsp white pepper
     I think the original called for black pepper but that
     messes with the color.
salt (I use none if I use commercial stock and salted butter)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom (A2News said optional, but I say
{Vegan/Parve: 1-2 T kosher apricot jam if broth is from commercial vegetable stock}

6. Serve immediately -OR- If you plan to serve the soup within a few hours, leave it with cover tilted on the counter or cold burner -OR- If made a day or more before, refrigerate covered. Reheat uncovered (because covering wrecks the color) over low-medium heat starting about 15-20 minutes before time to serve.

The Ann Arbor News said that you should top each bowl with chives or parsley. I almost never do. Neither flavor seems like it would enhance this soup. My cousin John thought a dab of cranberry sauce would be better as to both flavor and color. He is probably right but I've never done it. I serve my soup unadorned. I suppose you could slice some of the carrot into 1/8" circles and contain them in a bit of cheese cloth during cooking so that you don't puree them, then float them on the soup - if they'd float - for decoration.

A2News said "Serves 6." I get 3 qts = 12 1-c servings. But even when people know that there is a huge wonderful meal to follow, they ask for seconds. The soup is that good.
rjm - first typed 11/10/99; rev 11/18/01; 10/9/09; 1/3,10/30/11; 3/14/15 for web.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Poached Pears


This is for 2 pears.  Can be multiplied.  I use 6 pears for New Year's Eve with ~30-40 guests expected and half a dozen other desserts available.

1.  Peel and slice vertically into 8 wedges (or 12 for bigger pears), removing seed part and any hard stem sections:
     2 D'Anjou pears (best if they're not totally ripe; ripe ones get
     slimy when cooked)
          Notes on other pears:
          Bartlett - too mushy
          Bosc - maybe OK
          Starkrimson - too soft

2. [Do _not_ do step 2 before step 1 because the wine boils very quickly.]  In saucepan, bring to boil
     1/4 c red wine
     1/4 c sugar
     1/2 cinnamon stick (or a whole small one)

3. Add pears, reduce heat, simmer 25 minutes covered, or until pears are soft but not falling apart.

4. Remove pears with slotted spoon. Reserve syrup.

5. [I don't always do step 5. My neighbor Delia did it and it does look nice, however. I often just serve the pears with a little unthickened syrup for color and moisture.]   A few hours (or a day) before serving, bring reserved syrup to boil stirring occasionally. Let simmer a few minutes to thicken and reduce for a glaze.

6. Arrange pears on platter and drizzle on the syrup. Refrigerate until a few hours before party. Overnight is OK. More than a day is fine if the syrup hasn't been thickened. 

first made, printout 12/31/06 (e-version lost)
1/2/11; 11/13, 12/24/14