Baked Five Spice Chicken

This Friday was a rare Friday that I had some extra time to burn. I took a rare vacation day. Let me tell you – I am totally jealous of all of you who either take Fridays off or work from home on Fridays. That lifestyle would be totally amazing. My 10:30 hair appointment felt so bizarre, so unlike me, and so luxurious! By noon, I started thinking about the coming Shabbat. In a perfect world, Shabbat meals would be totally planned out and mostly cooked by Thursday night. Alas, this is my world. I buy the ingredients on Thursday without a menu in mind. It works for me. For the most part, Shabbat is put together in the better part of the hour right before Shabbat. Having so much time this Friday for Shabbat planning was like a spa day in my eyes. Around 2pm, I pulled out the raw chicken I had purchased the day before. A whole, cut up chicken. What to do, what to do. I opened my overstuffed spice cabinet and some garlic powder and five spice powder containers flew down at me and hit my forehead. Well…if it smacks you in the head….turn it into a dinner? Isn’t that what they always say? I guess it could work…and it did! The five spice melded into the chicken beautifully! Sorry for the lack of pictures. It was Shabbat, and the chicken was devoured.

Baked Five Spice Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dry sherry
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. minced ginger
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tsp. five spice

Place the chicken skin side up in a baking pan.

Mix up the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk.

Pour over the chicken. Cover the the chicken and marinate for an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake chicken covered for 40 minutes.

Uncover chicken and continue baking until done. Let the skin get crispy.



We eat very few baked good around here, despite my urge to master the realm of baking. So, I bake, and then I bake some more, and then I dump said baked goods on unsuspecting taste testers. Such was the case with the babka.

Babka is one of those things that has to be perfect or else it really sucks. It’s also one of those things that comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors. One person’s babka, is another person’s coffee or bundt cake. My mission was to accomplish a successful chocolate babka in a similar realm of the infamous Green’s Babka. That stuff is awesome.

I ended up with the babka over at the Smitten Kitchen blog. Because the recipe is over there, I will not repost the recipe, but I will share some photos. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and it came out great. I highly recommend the recipe, and Smitten Kitchen in general. Everything I have made from that blog comes out great.

Count the sticks of butter. You know it’s gonna be good when there is that much butter and chocolate in a recipe.

You could probably put this together by hand, but it’s much more fun with a mixer.

Ball of kneaded dough in a butter bowl, ready for some rising…

I normally detest any recipe that requires me to pull out the rolling pin and actually use it, but this wasn’t too bad. It was actually very easy. Probably has something to do with all that butter.


Now go on over to Smitten Kitchen and get that recipe and make babka! It’s so good!

Homemade Bagels

Whenever I go back home to the midwest, bagels are at the top of the list of delicacies to bring home to the parents. Along with a list of good smelly food from Zabars, bagels rank pretty high. Maybe higher than lox even. You see, where I grew up, bagels can come in the form of the Lenders bagel, or the flavored bagels at Bruegers and Byerlys. If the bagels were only as simple as an onion and garlic bagel or a salted bagel, we would be ok. In Minnesota, bagels come in flavors like Cinnamon Streusel, Blueberry Pie, and other unmentionables. We were taught that you hoarde the precious bounty of East Coast bagels in your basement freezers and they only come out when the VIPs come for brunch.

Back when my office was in Chelsea, I had some decent bagel buying options, albeit a bit overpriced. Way downtown in the financial district, our options are slim. My options are even slimmer near my house. The one bagel place in the neighborhood, serves overpriced, raw, lead-filled bagels. They even add a toasting fee when you visit the store. Crazy stuff, right?

So I have been researching various bagel recipes. The whole boiling step always scared me away. I learned that it really is easy to make bagels. It is not much more difficult than any other bread recipe. The recipe that I am posting below, was perfect for us. It was light, but crusty and chewy and came out perfectly when toasted. It reminded me of a Toronto bagel, which is perfectly fine with me.


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cup warm water
4 cups bread flour (very important since you need to gluten to aid in the chewy factor)
1 tablespoon salt
extra sugar or honey and a pinch of baking soda for the bagel bath

1 egg for the egg wash
assorted toppings (minced onion, minced garlic, kosher salt)
In the bowl of your mixer, combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough until it comes together in a large ball and pulls away from the mixing bowl. I ended up needing to add some additional water, around a tablespoon. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F. Add some sugar and/or honey and a pinch of baking soda to the water. Make sure to keep the water at a low boil.
When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball . Let though dough balls rest for around 15 minutes. Do not let them sit too long or they will be over-proofed and end up very flat after baking.

Now it is time to turn that dough ball into a bagel. Poke a hole through the center of the dough ball with your finger. Twirl the ring round and round a bit to stretch the hole. Let bagels rest for about 7 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, lower the bagels into the bagel bath. You can “bathe” about 3-4 bagels at a time. Boil for 2 minutes and then then flip and boil for an additional minute. Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to drain and then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do this for all 12 bagels. Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and toast to serve.

These bagels freeze well.

Parmesean Crusted Tilapia

When I am craving protein in the middle of the week, we usually turn to fish. We have been buying fish at some of the local Korean and Japanese markets. We find the fish to be freshest and pretty cheap. This week I had some tilapia that I wanted to use up. My only regret, was that since we bought it whole, it wasn’t cut properly. I can’t debone or fillet a fish for the life me. Our dinner was still tasty, but we had to eat around the bones. Next time I will buy the fillets. So much for saving a buck.

Parmesean Crusted Tilapia

3/4 cup grated parmesean
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter – softened
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
One lemon, sliced thinly
4 tilapia fillets

Preheat the oven to 425.

Mix everything except for the fish and lemon slices in a small bowl. Grease a baking pan.

Lay the lemon slices on the pan. Lay the fish over the lemon. Spread the cheese mixture over the fish.

Bake 15 minutes, or until done.


Soy Ginger Salmon

Wednesday evenings are one of the nuttiest in our house. Both kids have assorted activities. We do not get home until 7:30, making the whole dinner routine a bit tough. I don’t like to do fast food, nor do we have any decent kosher fast food nearby. I do admit, I often turn to the more processed/frozen varieties of nutrition too often on those nights. I prefer to give my family a more balanced home cooked meal. This past Wednesday, we had the perfect dinner. We had a soy ginger salmon over whole wheat couscous with mushrooms and herbs. Yum!

Soy Ginger Salmon

Marinade Ingredients

1 pound of salmon
1/3 cup brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Marinate your salmon for at least 30 minutes.

You have two options for cooking this up. You can sear it and finish in the oven, or you can broil for 15 minutes or so on high.

I chose to sear for 10 minutes and then finish in the oven.

Heat up the marinade ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat to boiling. Pour some of this sauce over the salmon and couscous.

I would show you a picture, but the camera didn’t cooperate. I will make this again though. So good!

Cooking with my Dad: Vegetable Samosas

I grew up in a family of foodies. My ideas about food and how to cook it are definitely shaped by my parents. I often find myself calling them to run recipe ideas by them, in addition to the standard needed parenting advice. When I come home to my kitchen, I miss my parents looking over my shoulder telling me how something needs to be cooked or how to accomplish the task better.

I was overjoyed by the opportunity to cook with my father on a recent trip back home. He is an excellant father and an excellent cook. I was still curious to see how it would play out as he is a bit possessive of his kitchen. Originally I thought I would do some sort of traditional Minnesota dish like hotdish that has never seen the light of my parent’s kitchen or mine, but instead we chose to cook something that we knew we would enjoy eating.

We chose to do a slight adaptation to Bonnie Stern’s samosa recipe from her Heartsmart Cooking series. It’s is an ode to my parent’s cooking roots, as they took cooking lessons at her cooking school in Toronto back in the day. Below is the recipe as we prepared it.

Vegetable Samosas

2 potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots or 8 baby carrots, diced
2 tbsp. chopped ginger
1 red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of peas

1 cup of hummus, (the recipe called for chickpeas, which we didn’t have)
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. of garam masala
2 tsp. curry
1 tsp. fenugreek
Egg Roll or Wonton Skins
2 tbsp. oil for brushing
Preheat oven to 375.

Begin by sauteeing the potato/onion/carrot mixture in olive oil. Sautee for around 10 minutes. After about 8 minutes, add in the ginger and the other spices. Saute a couple more minutes.

Add in the peas and the hummus, stir a bit. Add in the chopped scallions. Add in the water. Let everything cook until most of the liquid evaporates.

On a baking sheet lined with buttered/greased parchment paper, lay out the wonton/egg roll skins. Put 1-2 tablespoons into center of square and then fold into a triangular pocket. Seal the edges with water.

Brush the triangles with olive oil.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned. Enjoy!

They were yummy! I will definitely make this again. I think I prefer these to the fried version that I have at the Indian restaurants.I will add some garlic to it next time.

Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach

I own a rolling pin, but never use it. It’s not that I am afraid of it, I just don’t really like using recipes that seem to have way too many process transitions. I use my rolling pin maybe twice a year. As you have seen by my carrot muffins, I am in some sort of wierd baking mood. I decided to get all brave and try to make some rugelach. I don’t like most bakery pastry, and I wanted to see if I could “have it my way.”

I used Ina Garten’s recipe for the rugelach dough and then came up with my own filling. The rugelach came out super tasty and they were suprisingly easy to make. My fear of baking is slowly fading.

Is rugel the singular of rugelach? I’ll go with it…

Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach (Dairy)
Dough Recipe – from The Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten

8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks of butter – softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 egg mixed beaten, mixed with 1 tsp of milk for brushing later on
2 tbsp sugar and one tsp. cinnamon, mixed for dusting
In your mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix up the cream cheese and the butter until well mixed.

Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Continue to mix on low speed. Slowly add the flour with the mixer running. Do not over mix the dough. The dough will be sticky.

Turn the dough out on to a well floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and chill in the refridgerator for at least an or…or you could freeze the dough for future use. The dough works best the colder it is.

While the dough is chilling, get your filling ready.

My chocolate/raspberry filling ingredients are as follows:

1 cup of walnut pieces
3/4 cup of chocolate chips – semisweet
1/4 cup of light brown sugar
Raspberry Jam – I used seedless
In a food processor, chop the walnuts and chocolate until ground well. Mix in the brown sugar.

I love my mini cuisinart. It’s petite,adorable, and cute. It was sitting lost and lonely in a cabinet behind my giant cuisinart. It should have a permanent place on my counter, but I dislike the clutter.

Once the dough is chilled, we are ready to roll up some rugelach.

On a well floured board, roll each ball into a circle, around 9 inches. Spread a very light layer of jam on to the dough circle. Do not add too much jam, as there will be too much oozing when baking. Sprinkle the nut/choc filling onto the jam. Cut the dough circle into wedges, around 12-16 equal wedges. I find it cuts best with a pizza slicer.

Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Put the rolled up rugelach on to a baking sheet lined with parchement paper or a silpat.
Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Brush each rugel with the egg wash. Dust with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Be thankful that I am not including any nutritional information on this one.

Carrot Cake Muffins

“Carrots have vitamins that are good for your eyes,” says the kid to her friend. The friend nasally asked “why” and stomped off. She didn’t care about an answer. Lucky me, she came back to the house with an apron built for a kid. My daughter was shocked. I don’t think she has seen me wear an apron…ever. I do have an apron somewhere in some closet that has an ice cream cone from my days working at Perkins.

I decided a week or so ago in some gooey state of crohn’s induced steroid hunger that I needed to make carrot cake muffins/cupcakes…even if I couldn’t actually eat them. I trudged out to buy the ingredients. I promised my daughter some hallmark cooking moments. It was either that or Hannah Montana blasted into the kitchen. I don’t think I can handle more of “It’s the beeeessst of both worlds!” So we went to work after the mad dinner rush. Cooking with your kids can be fun. I am not sharing picture of the cleanup.

I even made the cream cheese frosting to go with…I have never made frosting before.

After much eyeballing recipes on the web, I came up with a recipe that seemed to please all tastes…not too sweet, not too “cimanimony,” and moist.

Carrot Cake
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated carrots (raw)
3/4 cup applesauce
1.5 cups chopped pecans or walnuts (I can’t eat nuts, but prefer pecans – tradition is walnuts – I think)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, amd salt in one small bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly mix in half the flour mixture. Add in the carrots, applesauce, nuts, and the eggs. Beat well. Add in the rest of the flour.

Have your muffin tins greased or lined and ready to go. Pour batter into cups. Do not overfill. This recipe gave me 24 cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes.

My daughter scarfed them down. She didn’t even want to wait for it to cool down or for the frosting.

You do need the cream cheese frosting. It’s not a cupcake without the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups of confectioners sugar
5 tbsp. butter
Beat the 3 ingredients together for a few minutes. You have some yummy frosting.
You can spread over the cupcakes or you can just eat straight from the bowl…alternating with bites of cupcake of course.

No-Knead Bread

Maybe I am a sheeple…but it works.
The latest trend in bread baking was brought on by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois in their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I just ordered the book. While I wait for the book to arrive, I decided to try out the master recipe that has been posted all across blogs and newspapers. The duo have a website, click here.


Master Recipe by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
Makes four 1-pound loaves

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100º F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)
Cornmeal for the pizza peel


In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick. Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.
Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.Here is a picture of my first try. I was definitely impressed and surprised that it worked.


It isn’t so pretty, but it tastes good dipped in olive oil. Would be good with a good hearty soup. I hope for prettier bread with the remaining dough. I will add some rosemary and garlic with the next batch.

Deli Roll Cook-a-Long

I had never heard of or seen this popular Shabbat food until I was 21 or so and spending a Shabbat in Far Rockaway. Upon seeing this strudelly thing, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t quite sure what was wrapped up in the dough…and I am not usually a big fan of the old heimish food thing. It was either that, cholent, or kishka, so I opted for a slice of deli roll to accompany the salad on my plate. I was impressed by how good it was. Who knew you could do that with deli meat. Of course this dish is by no means healthy food.

I had no idea it was so popular until joining up on some Jewish message boards where people posted their assorted recipes for deli rolls. There is even a facebook group that shows off their love of deli roll. I recall one trip back home to the Midwest where I made a deli roll for my parents. I think they were a bit scared of it.

There are many different variations of deli roll and no exact measurements.

I start out by sautéing some onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika

Roll out some puff pastry dough, either store bought or your favorite recipe. Spread some honey mustard and half of the sautéed onions on the dough. I have heard of some people using Thousand Island Dressing in place of the honey mustard.

Lay out turkey pastrami slices on top of the mixture. Spread another layer of honey mustard and the onions. Lay out slices of beef pastrami

Roll up into a log. Cut slits in the roll, bake at 375 degrees. Drain fat from the pan.

Slice when cooled down

Shabbat Shalom!

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