Monday, December 6, 2010

Chanukah Recipe #6....The easiest roasted garlic EVER

 This may not exactly count as a recipe.

 (It also barely counts as a blog for the 6th night, seeing as there's only 15 minutes left of it.)

Knee-deep in my obsessive reading of Chanukah-themed foods, I discovered a New York Times photo slideshow and fell. In. Love. Hard.
Even though, I'm not really a deep-fryer, and especially even though I was only going to have about an hour of prep time before Friday night's Chanukah party, I bought all of the ingredients to make those gorgeous deep fried garlic cloves and green olives. Visit the actual recipe over here.
I was fixated.

Reality, of course, reared it's ugly, yet innovation-producing, head and I decided my guests could simply snack on the olives as is.  Drain.  Set in pretty bowl.  Done.

The garlic, however, couldn't really be served raw....well, not too anyone besides my allium-loving girlfriend.
Knowing the passion that roasted garlic evokes, but being less familiar with  the jars of pre-peeled cloves, I turned the oven on, busted out the olive oil (keeping in tact the holiday symbolism), and winged it.

And I'm here to share the majesty.

Roasted Garlic Cloves for a Chanukah Celebration
1. Go to the grocery store and buy a jar of pre-peeled garlic cloves.
2. Bring them home and set your oven to 350 degrees.
3. Liberally pour some olive oil onto a baking sheet.
4. Toss on the pan the cloves and a few good shakes of salt.
5. Mix together with your hands.
6. Put in the oven and roast until very brown (but not burnt) and soft.
7. Serve with everything.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chanukah Recipe #5.... Get out that chocolate!

Martha Stewart's Chocolate-covered 
Marshmallow Dreidels
I warned you yesterday to grab some chocolate chips or chocolate bars and today I deliver on the promise to help you use.
Unwrap said chocolate.
Share if you're more generous than me.
Devour and enjoy.

Kidding.  But by all means, go out and just eat the plain chocolate if you so desire.  Nothing wrong with that.

If you do have a little will-power, however, make these kitschy-yet-adorable chocolate dreidels.  As soon as a friend posted the link to Martha Stewart's recipe, I knew they had to be mine.  And with A LOT of help (thank you friends!!!), they were.

This is not to say that they are very difficult, or terribly time-consuming, but that they were being made just before/during a big party where I gave myself 40 minutes to make all the food.  And that I tripled the recipe.

I'll post the recipe with our additions, tweak and commentary below.  Feel free to reference Martha's recipe, linked above, if you a) want to enjoy the perfect photos and/or b) have more patience and craftiness than I do.

A note about ingredients: most marshmallows are not vegetarian as they contain animal-derived gelatin.  I have heard about vegan marshmallows available through Whole Foods and natural food stores.  I used vegan chocolate chips as the coating but even dark chocolate Hershey Kisses have milk and a vegan/non-dairy alternative does not seems available.  I apologize to folks who are vegan/Kosher/dairy-avoidant and would love to hear if anyone creates or hears of an alternative.

And for the record, these are just eye candy (ha, ha, ha); they taste really good too.  You know....because it's chocolate. Covering marshmallows.  Enough Said.

Martha Stewart's Chocolate-covered Marshmallow Dreidels as adapted by my fantastic friends
Makes 36 dreidels (if every bag of Kraft marshmallows has an accurate count, and if your crowd has no marshmallow-nabbers in it)
Martha says that these can stay in the fridge for up to 8 hours after making.  

- 36 chocolate Hershey kisses, dark or milk chocolate, unwrapped
- 2 twelve-ounce bags of chocolate chips, or 24 ounces of chopped, plain chocolate (We used 2 bags of store-brand semi-sweet chips & they worked just fine)
- 36 (plus a few extra to account for breakage and snacking) small, thin pretzel sticks
- Milk or soy milk (or non-dairy milk)
- 6 ounces (half a standard bag) of white chocolate chips or a tube of white cake-writing gel (OPTIONAL!)

1.  In a medium to large microwaveable bowl, melt about 1/3 of your chocolate by microwaving for 45 seconds at a time and stirring between rounds until your chocolate is smooth and shiny.
2.  Line several plates or a large cookie sheets with parchment paper or plastic wrap or coat lightly with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
3. Dip the flat part of each Hershey kiss in to the bowl of melted chocolate and adhere the kiss to the flat part of each marshmallow. Lay on the prepared plates/cookie sheets.
4. Refrigerate the marshmallows for 10 minutes to set the melted chocolate.
5. When the marshmallows have about 5 minutes left, add the rest of the chocolate to the previously melted chocolate and melt as in step 1.  Add a tablespoons of milk at a time to thin the mixture to a spreadable consistency.
6.  Dip or spread chocolate on the marshmallows to cover them and the kisses.  (Martha's recipes calls for the marshmallows to be dipped in chocolate, however my friends found this impossible and add the soymilk to thin slightly then brushed the chocolate on the marshmallow/kiss combo to cover.) Lay back on the trays and refrigerate for 15 minutes until set.
7.  Poke a pretzel stick in the top of each marshmallow to create the dreidels handle.
8. Martha calls for melting white chocolate, putting it into a ziploc bag, cutting off the very tip of the corner, and writing Hebrew letter on 3 sides to resemble a real dreidel.  I thought a cake writing gel tube might work too, thought might not firm up as well.  We decided enough was enough and served them without  further adornments.


  1. Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  2. Cut a small slit in bottom of each marshmallow; insert 1 thin pretzel stick. Dip dreidels in chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.
  3. Fill a resealable plastic bag with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in a corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chanukah Recipe #4.... "Do we have enough food?"

White Bean Tahini Dip 

The completion of this post will find me squarely halfway through my post-one-recipe-for-each-of-the-8-nights-of-Chanukah plan.
What? That sound? Oh, that's just me, heartily clapping myself on the back for a job well done.  Go team!

Um, you wanted a recipe with the self-congratulations too?
Sure.  I'd like to dedicate this one to my girlfriend, who impressively channeled both myself and my mother last night.  About an hour into our Chanukah party last night, she turned to me, eyebrows raised in concern, and asked "Do we have enough food?"  (Says she while indicating the table strewn with some 10 dishes plus a pot of soup, and the side table groaning with desserts. )  I'm so proud of you babe! It's nice to not be the only one around with a raging inner-Jewish mother.  "Do we have enough food?  Would you like more to eat? Should I add another dish?"

But, because those mantras of mine are so constant and always present in my inner monologue,  I'd already had that discussion with myself before the party.  (And "before the party", I mean, 40 minutes before guests were due to arrive, 7 minutes after I'd walk in the door from work, and 1 minute into preparing the evening's feast.)

Thankfully, my answer was no.  Because I started chopping any available vegetables into crudites and realized the horror of serving raw vegetable sticks without a dip.
"Is the tahini still good?"
"I don't know, that's your department!"

Well, I hope it was good, because I've been eating it for the last 21 hours now.
I took the tahini and did with it what I always do when in need of a dip, spread, or easy thing to bring to a party.  I mix together some delicious staples and mash in some drained canned beans.  Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is the essential ingredient in hummus so it fared well paired with white beans and the usual hummus duo of lemon and garlic.  However, I went significantly heavier on the tahini.  The beans were actually an afterthought when I realized that an all-tahini dip might be just a tad rich.

Yes, yes we had plenty of food, but I'm still glad that I whipped this up.  It's helping me survive work this morning and it added extra zest to an already rockin' Chanukah party!

How's your Chanukah going?  Do you have some decent-quality chocolate chips or bars around?  If not, grab some and check back with me tomorrow.  Everybody needs a little dessert!  Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom! 

White Bean Tahini Dip for the inner-Jewish Mothers and other last-minute chefs 
1/2 cup tahini  (stir well before measuring to mix the oil back in)
Juice of half a lemon
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 can white beans (I used cannelini)- other beans would sub in just fine), drained and rinsed

1) Put the tahini in a large or medium bowl and thrown in the lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
2) 1/4 cup at a time, add water until the mixture is easily stirable, about the consistency of soft peanut butter.
3) Add the beans and mash with a potato masher or large fork.  (Or get fancy with a blender, immersion blender, or food processor.)
4) Taste.  Add more salt and lemon as desired.  Add more water if it feels too thick in your mouth.
5) Serve with pita, pita chips, crackers, raw vegetables, or you know, an old shoe.  Tahini makes everything  taste good.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chanukah Recipe #3 No, not more potatoes. Well, kind of.

Roasted Roots Recipe

Yet another recipe with infinite permutations; it works with a multitude of veggies, responds to a variety of seasonings, and can be put to use from breakfast through dinner and as an appetizer, main course, or side.

It's roasted root vegetables.  And while this post is part of a series of recipes that are useful during Chanukah, a week where some of us eat lots of potatoes, it still involves the humble tuber.  Or not, if you're sick of them already.  This recipes handily uses olive oil, staying true to the symbolic food of the holiday, but can also be served with latkes as a vegetable side or as an appetizer or finger food at a party.

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
Grease 1 cookie sheet for every 2 whole veggies you plan to roast.
You want these to roast and get crunchy, as opposed to steam and get soft, which is what they will do if they are too close together.
Choose your root vegetables:
Potatoes (unless your already-potatoed out): wash well, cut in medium dice
Sweet potatoes: wash well, peel if you want, cut in medium dice
Carrots: wash well, peel if you want, cut in one-inch sticks
Parsnips: (the ones that look like white carrots & are sweeter than turnips) wash well, peel if you want, cut in one-inch sticks
Turnips: (round, white & purple, more bitter than parsnips- am I the only one who confuses the two?) wash well, peel if you want, cut in one-inch sticks
Garlic cloves: peel, leave whole or cut in half
Onions: peel, cut in chunks or wedges
Shallots: treat like garlic if small, treat like onions if larger
Brussel sprouts: wash, cut of stem, cut in half through the stem end to the round top, roast these separately, cut-side down, until brown on the bottom and just tender through out

Toss your veggies in a giant bowl (or season and roast them separately then serve them in separate bowls, or lined up on a large platter for a striking presentation).
Toss with olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time until just coated.
Shake on a nice dusting of salt and, if you want, pepper over the top.
For carrotts and parsnips, I like herbes de provence.
For potatoes, I like rosemary.
Cinnamon or nutmeg would go well with sweet potatoes.

Put sheets in the oven and start checking every 15 minutes- brussel sprouts will go quickly, harder vegetables and larger pieces like more times.
Flip/stir after about 20 minutes.
The trays of deliciousness are done when the vegetables are brown and crisped on the outside and tender on the outside.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chanukah Recipe #1....and I'm cheating ALREADY

I created it.  I wrote it.  I've made it for two Chanukah parties and counting.  It's not exactly that I'm's that my first (of 8....see self-imposed blogging challenge here) Chanukah recipe blog uses a recipe that I already blogged about on the fantastic Jewish Boston site.

Alas, it is a GOOD recipe and my number one answer to the question "What on Earth do I serve WITH the latkes?"  If that isn't reason enough to make it, I'll give you several more, then let you get on your way to chopping and simmering....after all, Chanukah starts TONIGHT!

1)  It's cheap.  I love cooking and feeding people.  But I love minding a budget without feeling like I'm sacrificing.  Lentils are about $2 a bag.  This soup will easily feed 8.  You're welcome, wallet.

2) (As long as you keep an eye on your ingredients) it can easily be made vegan and gluten-free.  Yet, the rib-sticking fillingness (thank the fiber) and flavorful taste, won't leave a bread-lovin' carnivore too despondent either. 

3) It's warm.  It's December in Boston....this one needs no explanation.

4) It tastes really, really good...especially because it's so easy to customize it to YOUR tastes.  (And the leftovers, should you have any, will make a handy lunch this week too.) 

Alright, I'm done here.  Happy Chanukah...and enjoy!

Vegetarian Lentil Soup Recipe
Consider this recipe your own personal canvas. Up the garlic and/or add cayenne pepper or hot sauce for a kick.  Substitute chard or kale (or nothing at all) for the spinach. Eliminate the rosemary or use about a teaspoon of your favorite dried herb.  When not serving with latkes (or even with if you're brave!), top with shredded cheddar or parmesan, sour cream, or croutons.

2 tablespoons olive or other veggie oil (feel free to use less, or even just non-stick cooking spray)
1 medium onion or 2 shallots, peeled and diced
3-4 ribs celery, washed well and cut in dime-dized slices
1-10 cloves garlic, smashed, peel & chopped
4 medium or 3 large carrotts, washed, peeled (unless they're organic or from the farmer's market) & cut in small dice (1 bag of baby carrotts cut up in thrids or quarters would work too)
1  1/4 cups dried brown Lentils (sold in plastic bags under the canned beans in your grocery store or in bulk in health food stores)
11 cups water and/or vegetable broth  (if you use water, you'll want to add more salt at the end of cooking)
1 small can Tomato paste
1 branch fresh rosemary, leaves torn off & finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried herb (rosemary, basil, oregano, etc.)
1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed if needed and chopped
Salt & pepper to taste

1) Get our your biggest, heavy-bottomed soup pot.  Heat the oil on medium-high heat til shimmering.
2) Saute' the onions and celery until getting transluscent and softer but not browned, about 5 minutes
3) Add the garlic and carrotts and saute' 5-10 more minutes until the garlic is soft but not too browned.
4) Add the lentils and toss around for a minute.
5) Add the water or stock and turn the heat to high.  (If you're using water not stock, add 1 teaspoon of salt now.)
6) Cover and cook until lentils are soft to the bite, 25-45 minutes.  If the pot starts to boil over, lower the heat a bit.  You do want a nice rolling boil though.
7) Stir every so often, make sure nothing is sticking.  Add more water or stock if needed.
8) When the lentils are tender, add the tomato paste stirring well.  Add the chopped rosemary or dried herb.  Add the spinach.
9) As the spinach wilts, start tasting and seasoning.   Add more salt as needed, plus pepper, hot sauce, etc. to taste.
10) When the spinach is just wilted (try not to overcook it too much) and the soup tastes good, you're done!
11) Serve in mugs with latkes, in bowls garnished with cheese, etc. and served with bread and salad for a lovely dinner, or serve to yourself with a spoon and congratulations on a job well done.

Chanukah Recipe #2 It's green.

I wasn't kidding.  Not only is the appearance bright green, it tastes green too.  It tastes a bit like grass and a lot like what it is, which is a ton of pureed parsley, and it tastes like the perfect bright counterpoint to winter's earthy and mellow palate.

It's a little something I call Parsley Oil. (And now I'll call myself Captain Obvious.)
I created it to sparkle up another lentil soup- not this one, but one made of red lentils and a few root vegetables that I crafted for a "Family Dinner" a few weeks ago.  It epitomized everything awesome about lentil soup, but man, was it ugly.  It needed a kick, for both the mouth and the eyes.

So I blenderized and tasted, blenderized some more and came out with something so uniquely fresh that a week later a friend scooped up the leftovers with bread and called it dinner.
I think it solved the ugly problem, too.  What do you think?

Parsley Oil Condiment
This is one of those 1,000-use items.  Toss it in soup just before serving, use it on pasta, spread it on bread, add more olive and vinegar or lemon for a salad dressing, mix it with rinsed canned beans, and of course feel free to daub it on those latkes. 
1 bunch parsley (I used curly; flat-leaf Italian is more flavorful and would probably sub just fine), well rinsed and roughly chopped (a few stems are fine, the rest can go in the freezer to be thrown in veggie stock sometime)
1-3 large (or 2-5 small) garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 lemon, rinsed and cut in half
2-6 tablespoons of an olive oil that you like the taste of
Sea salt

1) Put the rinsed, chopped parsley in a blender or food processor.  Add the garlic.
2) Squeeze half of the lemon over the blender, with the lemon turned upside down and the juice dripping through the fingers of your other hand so you can catch and toss the seeds (not advisable if you have cuts on your skin!)
3) Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a good shake of salt.
4) Blend until the mixture adheres together and looks a bit like pesto.  With a blender, you may need to turn it off completely and scrape down the sides with a wooden spoon handle. Add more oil if it's not getting pureed.
5) Taste and add more olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon as needed.
6) Stored well-covered in the fridge, this was fine a week later.  If it smells rank, toss it.  I imagine you could freeze it before it goes rank too.