The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Blood-Orange-CakeMain

Happy Chanukah! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! I’m taking a break from Latkefest 2015 to tell you about this fabulous new cookbook – The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman. I’m also hosting a giveaway for this cookbook, so don’t forget to enter.

SJK-Cover

The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman is a fabulous cookbook that explores traditional Jewish foods while sticking to the Jewish calendar. Filled with beautiful photos and wonderful stories, this book really spoke to me. As someone who tries to cook seasonally, I felt like this cookbook was made for someone like me. I also loved that even as a Jewish cookbook, it wasn’t just about the potato kugel and the brisket. Amelia writes about the history of various foods and where they came from, while sharing about why they’re important to the Jewish calendar. I love that all of the foods in her cookbook are fresh and inspirational – using very clean ingredients. I recently made her Lamb, Butternut Squash & Quince Tagine and it was a huge hit with my family and guests. I also made her Winter Greens Saute and I know it will be a staple on our table over the next several weeks. I highly recommend this cookbook for anyone who loves exploring new flavors, while sticking to the traditional Jewish calendar. Even putting aside the Jewish calendar, this book stands out as a fabulous cookbook with fresh recipes. This Shabbat, I plan on serving Amelia’s Braised Beef with Semolina Dumplings. It’s the perfect Shabbat Chanukah meal.

Because I rarely share desserts with you, I decided to share this fabulous winter cake recipe with you. Blood Orange & Olive Oil Polenta Upside Down Cake evokes flavors of the Middle East and would be a special treat for your holiday table.

Blood Orange & Olive Oil Polenta Upside Down Cake
 
Syrup-soaked cakes, usually made with semolina and called tishpishti or namoura, are popular throughout the Middle East. With its stained-glass effect from the variegated colors of blood oranges, this upside-down cake, which gets its nubbly texture from sunny cornmeal, is drenched in a sophisticated ruby-red blood-orange syrup. Use fine-grind cornmeal or polenta; stone-ground meal doesn’t get tender enough in baking.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert

Ingredients
FOR THE CAKE
  • 4 blood oranges
  • 2⁄3 cup (145 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (125 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2⁄3 cup (105 g) cornmeal (not stone-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup (165 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
FOR THE SYRUP
  • ½ packet (¹⁄8 ounce/3.5 g) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Using a Microplane grater, grate zest from 2 of the blood oranges and reserve. Juice the 2 oranges and reserve. Cut both ends off of each of the remaining 2 oranges, then cut each orange crosswise into rounds ⅛ to 1/16 inch (3 to 2 mm) thick. Cut all but one of the slices in half and discard any center pith.
  2. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the bottom of a flameproof and ovenproof 10-inch (25-cm) skillet (a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is perfect) and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Heat skillet over medium-low heat until most of the sugar is bubbling. Remove from the heat.
  3. Starting at the outer edge of the pan, lay the halved orange slices in the melted sugar with the “scalloped” edge of each slice touching the edge of the pan. Fit as many orange slices as you can into the circle, pinching their corners as you set them into the hot sugar (use a knife point or tongs to adjust the fruit as needed). Some slices will have a “prettier” side; make sure those are placed face down in the sugar. Arrange the remaining halved orange slices in concentric circles toward the center, finishing with the reserved whole slice in the center.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and granulated sugar on medium speed until thickened and golden. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is thick and creamy gold, 3 to 5 minutes total. Beat in the zest and 1 tablespoon of the juice. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, beating after each addition just until blended.
  5. Pour batter evenly over the orange slices and gently smooth the top. Bake the cake until golden brown, the top springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Invert a serving plate over the cake, invert the pan and plate together, and lift off the pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, loosen it with a spatula and place it on the cake. While the cake is hot, use a fork or bamboo skewer to make holes in it without going all the way through.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the soaking syrup. Fill a medium bowl one-third full with ice and a little water and nestle a smaller bowl, preferably metal, in the ice bath. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) of the remaining orange juice into a small pot, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and let soften for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir granulated sugar, Cointreau, and lemon juice into the remaining orange juice, then stir the mixture into the softened gelatin. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve sugar and gelatin, about 1 minute. Do not allow to boil. Pour syrup into the waiting bowl and stir from time to time until it thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, about 15 minutes. Spoon or brush some of the syrup over the cake. Allow it to soak in, then spoon or brush on more. Repeat until you have used all the syrup.
  8. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing, then cut into wedges with a serrated offset knife to serve.

 

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Mocha Pound Cake

I am slowly conquering my fear of baking cakes from scratch.

I am sheepishly admitting here that in the past, I have been known to simply doctor cake mixes in to creations of my own. I had no idea that it was so easy to create a cake of your own. I’ve made a few cupcakes here and there, but by and large I have stuck to Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker.

Until last week.

mocha pound cake

Last week, I made some chocolate brownies from scratch! Whoa! They came together super fast, and actually tasted pretty good! Who knew?

So the other day, when I was working on my chocolate crouton recipe for the Kosher Connection link-up post, I decided to come up with something on my own. I will admit that I did look for a chocolate pound cake at Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t find it. So I made my own. I decided to turn it in to a mocha pound cake. I was so amazed with the results, I had to share the recipe.

Mocha Pound Cake – (adapted from King Arthur)


Ingredients:

1 stick butter, room temperature

1.5 cups sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. instant espresso powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

2/3 cup cocoa

2 tbsp. sour cream

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.

mocha cake batterIn a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, cinnamon and sour cream.

Beat in the eggs slowly.

Add in the flour and milk. Mix well – so that all the ingredients are combined.

cake batter in panPour the batter in to the loaf pan.

Bake the cake for an hour at 350°F. You may need an additional 5-10 minutes. The cake may be a little moist on top. That’s ok. Let the cake cool in the pan for a bit.

Remove the cake from the pan and let cool further.

I turned my cake into croutons. Check it out here!

mocha pound cake

 

Mocha Pound Cake
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert

Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, cinnamon and sour cream.
  4. Beat in the eggs slowly.
  5. Add in the flour and milk. Mix well – so that all the ingredients are combined.
  6. Pour the batter in to the loaf pan.
  7. Bake the cake for an hour at 350°F. You may need an additional 5-10 minutes. The cake may be a little moist on top. That’s ok. Let the cake cool in the pan for a bit.
  8. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool further.

Gluten Free Raspberry Chocolate Tart

So much about Passover, the customs and my memories – revolve around food. It goes beyond the foods that we aren’t allowed to eat. I’m always thinking about what we do and can eat. I find that the easiest part about Passover are the main and side dishes. It’s the desserts that are tough. What do you do when it seems like you can’t eat anything? We adapt. There’s always chocolate and fruit to fall back on.

raspberry-tart

Every special meal must include chocolate. I feel like that is a written rule in my book. This tart that I am sharing with you reminds me of my mom’s flour-less chocolate cake that she often serves at the seder,  along with some other chocolate treats I grew up with. One of my favorite flavor combinations is raspberry and chocolate. Growing up in Minneapolis, if someone brought the fabulous Raspberry Chocolate Torte from Gelpe’s Bakery to the house on Shabbat – everyone was happy. Another favorite that I remember as a kid, was the Raspberry Chocolate Chip ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s. All three of these fabulous treats were inspiration for this raspberry chocolate tart I am sharing with you. This tart will be served at one of our Yom Tov lunch meals, where we tend to feast on dairy. Happy to have a dairy dessert.



Gluten Free Raspberry Chocolate Tart
Ingredients:

For the crust:
2 cups almond meal
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. sugar

For the filling:
1 cup raspberry jam
10 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, or use good quality chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt

raspberries for garnishing


Directions:

For the crust:
Preheat over to 350°F.

Melt the butter.

Mix the almond meal, sugar and butter together in a small mixing bowl. It will be pretty crumbly.

Press the mixture in to a tart pan. Try to get up the sides as much as possible. I use a non-stick pan and do not need to butter or spray the pan. I would recommend buttering the pan a little if it doesn’t have the non-stick coating.

Bake the crust in the oven for about 18-20 minutes. Check to see if the crust gets too brown.

Remove the crust from the oven and cool completely.

Note: If you want to make the crust pareve, I would recommend using coconut oil in place of the butter.

crust



For the filling:
Heat up the heavy cream in a small sauce pan. Heat it until it just starts to boil and then remove from heat.

Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let it sit for a few minutes. After a few minutes, whisk the chocolate completely. It should be shiny. It will thicken as it cools.

Warm the jam in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Spread the jam along the bottom of the tart crust.

Pour over the ganache filling and spread evenly with spatula. Chill in the fridge to set.

Once set, garnish with some fresh raspberries.

Serve.  Enjoy!

Note: If you want to make the filling pareve, I would recommend using coconut milk or the non-dairy whipping cream in place of the heavy cream.

tart

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

One of the first cakes I ever made, that didn’t come from a box, was a coffee cake. It was snowing in New Jersey and we were stuck indoors. We decided to warm up the house with some baking. Being a non-baker, I had none of the ingredients. I crawled my way through the snow to the store at the foot of our housing development. I picked up whatever was needed and headed home to bake. That cake was awesome! Ten-and-a-half years later, and I still don’t bake too many cakes. I can handle cookies and brownies, but not cakes.

I had some plain yogurt that needed to be used up. I decided to pull out that wrinkled coffee cake recipe and adapt for what I had on hand. While I am not a cake fan, I love coffee cake. The cinnamon-sugar middle and topping…yum! I decided to up that yum factor with some chocolate chips. You can’t go wrong with chocolate!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt (can also use sour cream)
2 tbsp. half and half
2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips




Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add in the vanilla, half and half and the yogurt.

In a smaller bowl, mix up the dry ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan and dust with flour.  
Spread half of the batter in to the pan. 
Sprinkle half of the topping ingredients over the batter.
Spread the rest of the batter over this.
Add the rest of the topping ingredients.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 or until done.
Cool for 30-45 minutes. Slice and serve.
IMG_1161
Enjoy!

Oreo Cheesecake

What do you do when you can’t find a recipe or have trouble with a recipe? Do you look to the cookbooks? Do you look to Chef Google? No! We turn to social networking! Really! We tweet our kitchen nightmares, or blog about it. Or we updated our facebook status with the latest. It’s instant. My cookbooks get old and dusty and sit on my bookshelves until I am bored and just need a hint of an idea to run off of. Google is nice and all, but not necessarily trustworthy like tried and true resources. It’s so much more gratifying to get that instant response in the form of a comment to my kvetchy status update.

So it was the case a few nights ago, when my facebook status made mention of my troubles in the cheesecake department.
Shavuot is one of my favorite holidays. I love having some sort of extra salute from above to stick to a vegetarian menu. Of course, part of that whole Shavuot dairy thing, is the essential dessert – the cheesecake. I love most things dairy and vegetarian – except for cheesecake. I have never felt the cheesecake love. Maybe it’s that whole sensitive stomach thing. Who knows. Cheesecake doesn’t love me back. It’s mutual. I’ve made peace with it. I’m still supposed to make it. Gotta keep up with the customs, right? So I have attempted cheesecake a couple times in the past 10 years of Shavuot cooking. The first time I tried, it’s just fell apart. No love lost. A few years ago, I was determined. I googled “easy cheesecake recipe.” That was probably my first mistake. The second mistake was the recipe I chose. It was some “no bake easy cheesecake.” So many things wrong with that stament. Anyhow, facebook pulled through for me this year. My status eluded to my past cheesecake failures. An old camp friend (and culinary genius) came through and quickly sent me a tried and true cheesecake recipe that I quickly adapted to work with what I had (lots and lots of JoeJoe’s cookies). As promised, the cheesecake came out great and everyone was happy. Thanks, Matt! The recipe is below.
Oreo Cheesecake –
only slightly tweaked from my friend, Matt, who adapted it from someone else

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup oreo crumbs – about 24 cookies crushed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter, plus an extra 2 tablespoons – also melted
16 oz. sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 lb cream cheese – 2 of those rectangular boxes
another dozen or so crush oreo cookies, plus more for garnish – and a few more for eating

Preheat oven to 350

Shove a bunch of cookies into a ziploc bag. With a rolling pin, crush the cookies.
Mix the cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a bowl.

Press the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased springform pan

In a blender, blend the sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla for a minute. Add in the cream cheese. Blend until smooth. This goes fast. Add the crumbled cookies at this point. Add in the melted butter. Blend a bit more.

Pour into the springform.
Garnish with the oreos if you’d like.

Baked in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes.

When baking is finished, turn the oven to broil. Broil the cheesecake until the top begins to show some nice brown spots. Matt said that they should be “attractive spots of brown.” Hmmm. Have I ever met an ugly cake? I’ll give on this one. I hope my cheesecake was pretty enough.

Chill in the fridge for at least day before serving. Enjoy!

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
Ingredients:
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
Ingredients:
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.

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