Monday, July 13, 2015

Artisan Bread

I've posted many times about my challah - various strands of braided challahround challah, croation star challahs, but I haven't yet blogged about artisan bread, which makes a hearty addition to any Shabbos table, especially for those families that are into "the dips".
Artisan bread is a bread that is produced by hand in small batches, slowly fermented, and often utilizes steam to create its signature crispy crust. The resulting bread is soft, chewy and hearty with a hard outer shell.
You don't need many ingredients for this gem, but you do need some equipment. Firstly, you need an cast iron pot with lid, that can withstand oven temperatures of 500 degrees. Secondly you need a good bread knife ;)
There are lots of tutorials available online, but this is how I make mine for Shabbos with as little fuss and cleanup as possible.
On Thursday night, in a ziploc bag, combine three scooped cups (don't delicately spoon flour into the measuring cup and level neatly... dig right in and scoop, pack, and overflow the cup a bit!) of bread flour, 1/4 tsp. (yes that's all!) of dry yeast, 1 1/4 tsp. of salt and 1 1/2 cups of tepid water. Squish everything up in the bag until well combined. Dough will be sticky, but your fingers never touch it ;)
Leave the sealed ziploc bag for 12-24 hours (18 is just perfect, which fortuitously brings us to Friday afternoon).
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with the lidded cast iron pot inside. When the oven and pot have reached the right temperature, turn the dough out on to a floured surface. It WILL be goopy. Fold in each of the corners once and flip the dough over to make a round ball. Drop the ball (careful! It's really hot!!) into the hot pot and put the lid back on. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 10 minutes more.
The result is bread like you've never had before. Eat bare, with dips or with my home-made mayonnaise. Once cut, it doesn't keep very well (make croutons), but there are seldom leftovers anyway.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Balsamic Blooming Red Onions

Every once in a while I like to make a truly PRETTY recipe, because I believe that people eat with their eyes, as well as with their mouths.
But in the summertime, I don't like to fuss in a hot kitchen too long either.
I was very excited to find this video, detailing how to make a balsamic blooming red onion, which can be used as part of an appetizer or to complement a main dish.
It was really so easy and delicious to boot.
Be careful though, the finished project is fragile!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Funfetti Cheesecake Hamantaschen

The problem with having a blog for years and years when you are heavily into tradition and family is that after a few years, you've pretty much blogged all you have to say ;)
I mean, how many photos of my hamantaschen do you REALLY want to see? (For a glorious look back, you can click here...)
Well this year, Nina Safar shared a new twist on an old favorite that I found completely intriguing. Funfetti Cheesecake Hamantaschen! I fretted a bit about the fact that I dislike baking dairy because a) you are very limited when the end product can be eaten and b) most of my baking utensils are parve. I decided though, to make the effort and to serve these on Purim night when we break our fast. Such fun Purim-looking delights, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Under One Looks Forward To Night One....

A Freilichen Chanukah to all!

Feel free to submit your own photos for consideration.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Art Set Free

Not only is New York "The City That Never Sleeps", but it's nice to know that there are a lot of fun and wholesome activities that are FREE in the city.

I often think that not enough people take advantage of such fun activities as Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare on the Run (love this one!), Philharmonic in the Park, etc.

Though they've been around for quite some time, it's only in the past couple of years that I've become aware of Their tagline is "art set free" and from what I can see, they're really trying. In their words, "Arts Brookfield, a global initiative of Brookfield, engages diverse communities by invigorating our public spaces through free, world-class cultural experiences". 

Just a few weeks ago, I went to their exhibit called "Canstruction", where various artists and businesses teamed up to raise awareness about domestic hunger by creating sculptures entirely out of cans and after the exhibition, donating these cans to the poor.

Tonight, Avram and I enjoyed a wonderful ice sculpting demonstration right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Titled "Grace-ful Ice Microcosmos", Okamoto Studio transformed multiple blocks of ice into insects, small creatures and butterflies and they will only be on display for one more day! Have a look at some of my photos and check it out yourself. Scroll down and watch the progression...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cookbook Review - Secret Restaurant Recipes

I'm about to tell you something that reviewers don't like me to say...
When I hear about a new cookbook on the market, I often say to myself, "Not ANOTHER one...!" 

I'm starting to think that אֵין חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ  - there's nothing new under the sun. With the proliferation of recipes on social media and the internet WHO NEEDS COOKBOOKS? 
OK, so they make really nice gifts (pssst.... Chanukah is right around the corner). But they are becoming so repetitious, don't you think?
Well, I've got to say that for once,  I was intrigued when the nice folks at Artscroll offered me a reviewer's copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes. I really liked the concept. It offered something different. And who doesn't want to be in on a secret, right? 
When I received the cookbook, I was immediately impressed by how many well-known restaurants participated in the making of this book. Restaurants we've all eaten in, more than 70 in all, had opened up their card files and shared a little slice of their delicious heaven with the editors of this book. Fun, right?

I immediately picked out the recipe(s) that I wanted to make first - Cauliflower Bisque from my favorite Amsterdam Burger Company in New York, and Eggplant Chicken in Garlic Sauce from Segal's Oasis Grill in Phoenix, Arizona. Both recipes were easy to follow and were WINNERS. (Warning: The eggplant chicken was hottttt! But yummy :) )

I particularly liked that the book was peppered with little tips and hints from the chefs of these renowned establishments. I felt like I was in the back kitchen with Chef Jeff Nathan and he was giving me private lessons.

Did I like this cookbook? YES! Would I purchase it as a gift? YES!

(Have I been a cranky reviewer who has refused to review substandard cookbooks in the past? Ummmm... yes...)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reason #17 Why I Love Boating In Central Park

I've blogged before about how much I enjoy boating in Central Park.
Today was no exception. The sun was shining, a soft breeze was blowing across the water and.... you never know what your are going to see!
While waiting on (a what always looks longer than it is...) line to get a boat, I notice a young couple, clearly on a date. He - in a nice pressed white shirt and dark pants. She - looking slightly unsure (maybe because they were at the back of the line). I was disappointed in the fact that instead of engaging her, he spent a bit too much time and attention on his cell phone. I should have been dan l'kaf zechus.
Later in our boat ride, after I had completely forgotten the couple, I hear shouts of "mazel tov" coming from the bridge above us. We row towards the commotion and come upon the following unfolding scene...
A bouquet of flowers is tossed off the bridge into a waiting boat holding one young man, who gently tosses it to the boy I had seen earlier, now in a boat with his date. A banner is gently unfurled off the bridge as the young man proposes to the girl. They pose for this quick photo and are on their way.

Chosson and Kallah in the boat on the right

So Mazel Tov to Toni and Chosson! May you be zoche to build a bayis neeman b'yisrael. And thanks for adding extra fun to our boat ride today!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shavuos Creativity Abounds

Between my talented daughter and daugher-in-law {and grandchildren}, each of whom made beautiful Har Sinai cakes, and my husband, who not only decorated shul as seen in the previous post, but also festooned our dining room with cedar roping and flowers, Matan Torah is EVERYWHERE!
Wishing you all a beautiful Yom Tov.
PS I am amazed at everyone's unique rendition of the same theme. Email me your Har Sinai Cakes and I'll post them. Just let me know if/how you'd like to be credited.

KAJ Shavuos Decorations Get A Face Lift

Thanks to the generosity of the children of Anni and David Baranker, in their parents' memory, Shavuos decorations at K'hal Adath Jeshurun / Breuers are even lovelier than ever!
Newly constructed, curved arches and a larger curved crown above the bimah studded with tiny lights, truly add to the beauty of this special Yom Tov.
Stop in and see for yourself! In this case, photos really don't do them justice.

(note to other bloggers etc... while I really don't mind sharing my photos and nearly ALWAYS say yes, it's kind of nice to be asked....)