Passover Chiffon Cake

8 Apr

Passover Sponge CakeOK, I lied — I told you last week that there would be no blog this week because of Passover. That’s because I was so fermisht by a 10-day visit to my daughter and her family in New Jersey that I got my dates confused. Obviously, this week is not the Passover holiday. I thought I had prepared and scheduled enough blogs ahead of time so that I wouldn’t have to do one today, which is my first day back home. But I miscalculated by a week.

So I hope you’re pleasantly surprised to receive another Passover recipe today. Next week there will be no blog because of Passover.

You may already have a favorite Passover sponge cake recipe, but if you don’t you may want to try this one. We tried several before settling on this one, which I like because it’s very light, fairly moist and slightly lemony. It also keeps very well, if you wrap it tightly in plastic.

If you don’t observe Passover, just skip this week’s recipe — no one in his or her right mind would make a Passover cake unless they had to!

A few important things to remember when you make a sponge cake: Make sure your tube pan is completely clean and dry before you pour in the batter. Don’t open the oven door until it’s time to take the cake out of the oven; the movement may cause the cake to fall. And don’t be tempted to bake the cake for less than the recommended baking time. The cake may look done, but if it’s a little underdone, it will break and fall out of the pan when you turn it upside down to cool.

Ingredients:

1 cup matzo cake meal
¼ cup potato starch
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup vegetable oil
8 large or extra-large eggs at room temperature, separated
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated lemon rind

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice and rind, in the order named. Beat until very smooth, about 5 minutes at medium speed on electric mixer.

Beat egg whites until very, very stiff. Gradually fold egg whites into the yolk mixture very gently, until all traces of white are mixed in. Do not stir.

Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 70 minutes.

Invert tube pan on a large plate or flat surface. If the pan has no “feet” on the top rim, invert it so it rests on a bottle or funnel. Cool completely. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife or spatula.

Serves 12 to 16

Passover Apple Kugel

1 Apr

Passover Matzoh Apple KugelHere’s one of my favorite Passover recipes. I’ve been making it just about every year for 40 years. I got it from my cousin, Linda Israel, who invited us to a seder at her home soon after we were married. This recipe can easily be doubled.

(Note: Due to the Passover holiday, Bobbie’s Best Recipes will not be published next week.)

Ingredients:

3 boards of matzoh
2 medium apples
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. margarine, melted
3 eggs, well beaten
rind of half a lemon, grated
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the matzoh in cold water until it is soft. Drain and break  it up into small pieces in a large bowl. Peel and chop the apples and add to matzos along with the sugar, raisins, melted margarine, lemon rind, cinnamon and salt. Mix together with the beaten eggs.

Pour into a greased casserole or square baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Cut into squares to serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Perfect matzoh balls

25 Mar

Passover Matzoh BallsIt’s time to start thinking about Passover. (I know — ugh!) With less than three weeks left, those of you who observe this annual frenzy of cleaning and eating are probably planning your seder menus. For almost everyone, matzoh ball soup will be featured prominently. In case anyone out there doesn’t already have the perfect matzoh ball recipe, I thought I’d tell you how I do it.

But first of all a caveat: I can give you instructions, but getting a perfect matzoh ball is almost more a matter of intuition than a recipe. Ask my daughter; she followed my recipe a few times with disastrous results, because she didn’t yet have the “feel” for it.

The secret is to make the matzoh ball mix just firm enough. Too soft, and your matzoh balls will fall apart. Too hard, and your matzoh balls will bounce. (Of course some people like them chewy. Me, I like them so fluffy that they seem to melt in your mouth.) Because of the size of the eggs, or because some of us don’t measure exactly, the mixture can be different from time to time. After you mix the matzoh meal into the egg mixture, it should feel firm but loose — not soupy, and not hard to stir. If it seems too loose, add a sprinkle more of matzoh meal. Too firm, add a teaspoon or so more water or broth. After you’ve made matzoh balls a few times, you’ll know what this mix should feel like, and your matzoh balls will be perfect every time.

The best matzoh balls are made with rendered chicken fat (schmaltz). But how many of us cook with chicken fat any more? I used to use fake chicken fat called Nyafat that you could buy in the grocery store, but they stopped making it a few years ago. I’ve seen recipes with oil, which I think is too liquidy. You can use margarine, which is what I do at Passover, though during the year I prefer to use solid vegetable shortening, which has the same consistency, if not the flavor, of chicken fat.

I like large matzoh balls and serve one per person. If you prefer, you can make them smaller and give everyone two. This recipe makes eight large matzoh balls. It can easily be halved if there are just a few of you or doubled to serve 16.

Ingredients:

4 eggs at room temperature
4 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. chicken fat, shortening or margarine, melted
4 Tbs. chicken soup or water
2 tsp. salt
1 cup matzoh meal
1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine, optional (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

Directions:

Beat the eggs and then beat in the fat, the chicken soup or water and the salt. Sprinkle in the matzoh meal and the chopped parsley if you use it,  and stir quickly with a fork so that there are no lumps. Add a sprinkle more matzoh meal if the mixture seems too loose.

Place plastic wrap on the surface of the matzoh and press down to remove air. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, and up to a few hours.

Fill a large saucepan (a Dutch oven is good) with water and heat to boiling.

Wet your hands and form round balls with the matzoh meal mixture. You can drop them in the boiling water as you make them, or place them on a plate or board until you’ve made them all to assure a uniform size.

Put the balls in the boiling water. Within a minute or two, they should float to the top. If any balls stick to the bottom of the pot, give them a little nudge with a wooden spoon to loosen them. When the water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot loosely.

Cook for 40 minutes. Remove the matzoh balls with a slotted spoon to a pot of chicken soup. You can serve immediately, or reheat the matzoh balls with the soup. (If you haven’t made the soup yet, place the matzoh balls in a large covered container, cover them with water, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.)

Serves 8

Tangy Poppyseed and Pineapple Coleslaw

18 Mar

Pineapple-Poppyseed ColeslawIf you use packaged coleslaw mix, this recipe is very easy.

I don’t like gloppy coleslaw and so I made one recipe of dressing stretch for  a whole cabbage, shredded – the equivalent of two bags of coleslaw mix – and it worked very well. If there’s carrot in your packaged coleslaw mix, you can eliminate the grated carrot, but do add the scallions.

You might want to add a little more than a dash of red pepper flakes – maybe ¼ to ½ tsp. – to give it a little extra zip. If you don’t want to make a lot of coleslaw, use half the dressing ingredients, or make the full amount and save half for another time. It should last several weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice (or whiz a quarter of a  fresh pineapple, cut into chunks, in the food processor)
½ tsp. salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger, optional
⅓ cup cider vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 (1-lb.) bag coleslaw greens or 8 cups mixed shredded green and red cabbage
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1½ tsp. poppy seeds
¼ cup mayonnaise

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine the crushed pineapple with juice, salt, red pepper flakes, ginger, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until dressing is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Place shredded cabbage, scallions, carrot and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Stir mayonnaise into the cooled dressing mixture. Add dressing to the vegetables, and toss well to coat.

Serves 6

Orange-Glazed Spicy Salmon

11 Mar

Orange-Glazed Spicy SalmonThis was adapted from a recipe by Kate Lawson that originally appeared in the Detroit News.

Ingredients:

3 Tbs. Cajun seasoning*
1 tsp. brown sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
4 salmon fillets
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
¼ cup orange marmalade
1 Tbs. lime juice
Lime wedges for garnish

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine seasoning with sugar and salt and rub over surface of fillets. Roast for 10 minutes.

Blend the marmalade and lime juice. Remove the fish from the oven and brush with the glaze. Return to the oven and cook another 2 to 5 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4

* If you don’t have Cajun seasoning on hand, you can make your own:

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1¼ tsp. dried oregano
1¼ tsp. dried thyme

Crispy Cauliflower with White Wine Vinaigrette

4 Mar

Crispy cauliflowerThis recipe comes from Balaboosta, a nice cookbook by Einat Admony. She called it “Cauliflower Everyone Loves,” and I didn’t quite believe her because I don’t really like cauliflower.

But I needed a recipe that included white wine vinegar for my Feed the Spirit blog, and we were having as guests a family of five that included a vegetarian, so I wanted to make lots of side dishes. Of all the dishes at that meal – all of which were well received – this is the only one that got completely devoured.

It’s a bit of an effort to make, but worth it for a special occasion, and it’s not difficult, just time-consuming. Read through all the directions a couple of times so you know what to expect.

You can deep-fry the cauliflower in a heavy saucepan, but I used a wok, so I could use less oil.

Be aware that not all the recipes in Balaboosta are kosher. The Israeli-born author runs a restaurant of the same name in New York, as well as two falafel joints. Many of the recipes in the book have a Middle Eastern flavor.

Ingredients:

White Wine Vinaigrette
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Crispy Cauliflower:
5 cups canola oil (in a wok you’ll need about a cup or a cup and a half of oil)
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground pink pepper *
Dried currants (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional – I used about 2 Tbs.)
Coarsely chopped fresh parsley (optional, but it makes it look really pretty)

*Note: I never even heard of pink pepper let alone have any “freshly ground” on hand. So I used a little extra of my not-so-freshly-ground white pepper.

Directions:

For the vinaigrette:
Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

For the cauliflower:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes and keep it next to the stove. Working in small batches if necessary, plunge the cauliflower florets into the boiling water for 2 minutes and then drop them into the ice water. Repeat until all the florets are blanched. Drain the florets. (I did this well ahead of time so that the cauliflower had time to drain thoroughly.)

In a large, heavy pot or wok, heat the canola oil over medium heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, salt and white and pink pepper in a large, resealable plastic bag. Throw in the cauliflower florets and shake, shake, shake until they are thoroughly coated.

Working in small batches, carefully drop the florets into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain.

Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle the vinaigrette over the crispy cauliflower.

Toss together the cauliflower, vinaigrette and a tiny handful of currants, toasted pine nuts and/or parsley right before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

25 Feb

sour cream coffee cakeIt’s been awhile since I posted a dessert recipe, so this seemed a good time.

Who doesn’t love a sour cream coffee cake? I found this recipe online, but it’s originally from Barefoot Contessa Parties.

Ingredients:

1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1½ tsp. vanilla
1¼ cups sour cream
2½ cups cake flour *
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt

Streusel:
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Glaze:
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbs. maple syrup

*If you don’t have cake flour, you can either use all-purpose flour but use 5 Tbs. less, or you can take out 5 Tbs. of the all-purpose flour and replace it with 5 tbs. of cornstarch. Sift the two flours together before measuring.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Make the streusel: Place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch it together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts if you use them.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make a glaze. Drizzle over the cake.

(If you want to make this in a bundt pan, you probably won’t want the streusel to be on the top, because then it would be on the bottom when you take the cake out of the pan. In this case, you can make three layers of cake batter, with two layers of the streusel in between them.)

Serves 12 to 16

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