Sunday, August 21, 2011

Onion Soup

So apparently onion soup was the biggest thing to make for Tisha Bav... Facebook was exploding with statuses about having onion soup for break-the-fast, or pre-fast. So when boredom & hunger really struck in the late afternoon of the fast, I decided I really wanted ANY soup (because soup is my guilty pleasure) for breaking the fast. However, I barely had any produce but I did have 3 medium sized onions. So I caved, & ventured into the delicious world of onion soup, making it for the first time & it was an absolute success! Onion soup was never something I ordered at restaurants, always thought of it as extremely heavy with all that cheese on top, I tried to control that a little. It's really easy, & this is my spin..

Onion Soup
-2 tbsp. Earth Balance + olive oil
-3 medium sized onions, cut in slices
-1.5 tbsp. sugar
-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/3 cup flour
-Salt & pepper
-8 cups water (or mixture of water & low sodium vegetable broth)
-Dry roux (see below)

-In a pot, heat 2 tbsp. Earth Balance, & a few drizzles of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions & saute, adding a little more olive oil if it gets too dry. Add some salt, pepper, and just a dash of nutmeg. Saute a few minutes, then sprinkle in the sugar. Let saute until the onions get very soft, & caramelized. Add the flour to the onions, I used a little less than 1/3 cup. Mix well. Add the garlic.  I let the onions saute, lowering the heat to medium/low for about 20 minutes. If they start to stick to the bottom or seem too dry after adding the flour, start adding the water/broth. I used 2 cups of broth and the rest water.
-Add 2-4 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper, you can always season later on after you taste it versus over-seasoning now.
-Bring the soup to a boil, & then let simmer for at least a half hour. Mine simmered for over an hour, because I had nothing else to do! -the longer the better, letting all the flavors meld together.
-To thicken the soup, make a dry roux by taking a heaping tbsp. of Earth Balance & around 1-2 tbsp. cornstarch (or flour if you don't have), incorporating well by mashing with a fork until it becomes like a paste. Add it to the soup, & stir in well. Alternatively, you can just dissolve the cornstarch in a little warm water (you can even use some of the liquid from the soup) to form a paste, getting rid of all the lumps, & then adding that. You want the soup to have a nice silky texture, & not be too thin. Season to taste.
-Top slices of ciabatta bread with shredded cheese, & broil a few minutes. Serve with the soup, garnish with dried parsley.

(I know the picture just looks like any ordinary soup, but it was delicious, the onions were almost falling apart, & it was slightly sweet from being caramelized with the sugar-sooooo good!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guacamole Soy Burger Sliders

This recipe was one of my 9 days dinners. I was skeptic at first, but they ended up being so delicious, you can hardly even tell that they were soy burgers. I still had slider buns in the freezer from when I made my Lamb Sliders. So, the base of these sliders was a package of soy ground "beef" from Trader Joe's- I don't think the package is quite a pound (maybe 10 or 12 ounces, I'm not sure), but I made 8 sliders from it. I served them on the slider buns with fresh guacamole, sliced pickles, & red onion.

Soy Burgers with Guacamole
-1 package Trader Joe's soy ground beef
-1 small onion or shallot
-2 minced cloves of garlic
-Salt & pepper
-Garlic & onion powder
-1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-1 tbsp. flax meal
-1.5 tbsp. quick cooking oats (i.e. Quakers)
-2 tbsp. (plain) Panko breadcrumbs
-Balsamic Good Seasons dressing
-1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out very well
-Chopped parsley

-Finely chop the onion/shallot, & add to a saute pan with olive oil. Add the minced garlic with the onion, salt & pepper.
-While sauteeing, add the binders (egg, mayo, flax, oats, & panko) to the ground soy beef in a bowl. Add the spices, parsley, spinach, & cooled onion/garlic mixture. I use some balsamic Good Seasons dressing for flavor, about 1/2 tbsp. or so directly in (if you're not sure what this is check it out here. It's an Italian dressing packet that you make in a pre-measured cruet with water, olive oil, & vinegar- I use balsamic. It's my go-to dressing and I always have it made in a cruet in my fridge. You can use any Italian dressing, or just leave it out entirely if you don't have anything comparable).
-Mix well with your hand, incorporating all the ingredients together. It's crucial to use a few binders, as the soy ground beef isn't as "sticky" as meat, so you need to really pack it in. If you find it isn't coming together in a consistency good enough for burgers, add more mayo or Panko. Make 8 patties, tightly packed.
-Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large saute pan. When hot, add the patties. Once you put them in, don't move them around, or they'll fall apart. Let them cook a few minutes, until browned, & then slowly flip them with 2 metal spoons. Using 2 spoons is much better than using a spatula, which may break them.
-Make the guacamole: mash an avocado with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, lime juice, finely chopped dill, & a little light mayonnaise.
-Toast the slider buns, spread a thin layer of guacamole on the bottom bun, top with a burger, dollop a little more guacamole on top to secure the toppings- shredded lettuce, pickle, red onion, whatever you're feeling. Top with the top bun & push down.

Surprise yourself & go for a meatless Monday! You'll feel good!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

When you can't eat food, BLOG ABOUT IT!

I just wanted to say that I made cinnamon buns today & they were absolutely heavenly! Granted they were in no way a short process, rather long... so if you home for a few hours one day, definitely take on this cinnamon bun challenge. The prize is WELL worth the wait. This isn't even close to any original recipe. It is 99% from a cookbook called Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair that I took out from the library pretty much because of the unbelievably amazing looking dessert on the front cover! I'm a sucker for cookbooks with color pictures. I followed each direction, the only thing I changed was using vanilla extract instead of almond extract in the frosting. Also, this recipe says it makes 15 rolls, for some reasons mine made 24! I wasn't complaining, & they were still nice and big!

Cinnamon Buns
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 (1/4 oz) packet active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp. cinnamon

- 1.5 cups confectioners sugar
- 3 tbsp. butter, softened
- 3 tbsp. milk
- 1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract

-Heat the milk & water in a small saucepan. Add the butter & stir until pretty much melted
-Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, & salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add the milk mixture & beat on medium speed until mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and add enough flour to make a soft dough, about 3 cups.
-To knead with the mixer, replace the paddle attachment with a dough hook (this is what I did, for about 5-8 minutes).

[To knead by hand, place the dough on a well-floured surface and shape it roughly into a ball. Place your fingers on top, curled slightly over the ball, and pull the dough toward you. Then push the dough away, using the heels of your hands. Turn the dough a quarter turn & repeat. When you begin kneading, the dough will be sticky. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, if needed. Knead the dough 8-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. To judge whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place the dough on the work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. The dough should be smooth and elastic, no longer sticky and should spring back].

-Shape the dough into a ball by pulling the sides underneath to form a smooth top. Place it top side down in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough right side up, coating it with a little oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
-Let the dough rise in a warm place 1 hour or until it doubles. When the dough has doubled, the imprint will remain when you poke two fingers with it.
-Lightly grease a 9"x13" baking pan or tin (I put 4 rows of 3 in the 9x13, & I also used 2 small round tins to place 6 rolls each)
-Punch the dough down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to a 9"x18" rectangle. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon, mix well. Spread evenly with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Roll the dough up, starting with the long edge, and pinch edges to seal.
-Cut into 1 inch slices (book says 15, I made 24). Place the rolls in a prepared pan. Loosely cover pan(s) with plastic wrap and let rise 35 minutes or until doubled.

Before rising:

Straight from the oven:

-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 40 minutes or until the buns are golden brown. Cool slightly.
-Combine the confectioners sugar, butter, milk, & extract in a medium bowl and beat until smooth. Pour over warm cinnamon buns.

I hope everyone has an easy & meaningful fast, I hope this post doesn't make it harder!!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pizza! ...again...

I've previously blogged about pizza, but me & avi made pizza last night so I figured I'd blog about it again. My previous post lists some "pizza essentials" so check it out if you haven't already!

Now, I know pizza dough is very easy to make, but I rarely ever do, because I usually don't really have time. Trader Joe's dough (99 cents a ball of dough- comes in whole wheat, white, or herb) is good & easy enough for my job! Last night Avi rolled out the dough on some flour, & put in on the pizza pan (check out the previous post for my go-to pizza pan, Wilton). Poke the edges with your fingertips to make a crust. Last night we did marinara sauce, kale, red onion, sundried tomatoes (on my side), & Natural & Kosher's Mexican shredded cheese blend - yum!

I forgot to actually take a picture of it, but I did practically the same thing at last post. That is the thing with pizza- there are no rules. You can put fruit on your pizza for that matter, you can make sweet pizza with cinnamon, sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder, or a drizzle of honey! I personally love the heartiness of a green (spinach or kale). A few weeks ago I skipped the tomato sauce, brushed pesto on the dough, & topped with my favorite toppings, as well as dots of ricotta cheese. The pictures that I do have are my pizzas I made Erev Shavuos for the first night meal. One was simply tri-colored peppers, mushroom, and basil chiffonade on garlic-herb crust, & the other was spinach, pepper & caramelized onion on whole wheat. I topped both of them with shredded mozzerella. Unfortunately I don't have pictures of the finished baked product because I put them in as Yuntif began.


Pizza does not need that long to cook, I bake mine at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, because I like a softer crust, & cheese that is just golden brown.

Here are some ideas that you can try on YOUR pizza:

-Marinara sauce
-Tomato Paste (a thicker, deeper tomato flavor)
-Sundried tomato basil sauce (brand: Schneider's)
-Ricotta cheese (as the base, topped with vegetables & then shredded mozzerella on top for a white pizza, or even just without the shredded cheese)
-Cinnamon sugar topped with caramelized apples (sliced apples sauteed in a pan with some brown sugar)

Toppings (these aren't exclusive, can be modified or even combined)
-Asian style (also vegan)= toasted sesame seeds generously sprinkled on the dough, topped with snow peas, pea shoots, shredded carrots, & dot with cubed tofu
-Greek style pizza= (sauce), black or green kalamata olives, fresh or dried oregano, cherry tomatoes, bake & then top with feta cheese during the last 2 minutes of baking just to slightly warm - YUM
-Hawaiian style= sauce, spinach (okay maybe not exactly specific to Hawaiian, but looks good!), pineapple (fresh or canned in pineapple juice), shredded cheese
-Israeli style= sprinkle zaatar on the dough, drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil, and top with Israeli olives, no cheese necessary but can definitely put on. This would be just delicious dipped in chummus- so then I guess it wouldn't actually be considered pizza ;-)
-Italian style= caprese: marinara sauce (or just sliced tomatoes), basil & FRESH thick-sliced mozzarella. (Updated caprese: pesto, sundried tomato, & shredded cheese)
-"Meat" style= look for soy sausage, soy pepperoni, or soy ground beef (can find both at Trader Joe's) to top your pizza with. You can even go all meat & use actual (cooked) ground beef, top with caramelized onions & spices

Practically anything in the produce section of the grocery store can be put on a pizza!!! As you can probably tell, kale or spinach & onion on mine is my absolute favorite. Be creative!!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sesame Crusted Teriyaki Salmon

There really is not much to this quick salmon recipe. It's perfect for the 9 days, and for someone short on time. I marinated 2 wild salmon filets in Trader Joe's "Island Soyaki" marinade/sauce. It's a HUGE flavor booster, any teriyaki sauce or even tamari sauce with a little honey will do. I particularly love the Island Soyaki because it has pineapple juice in it as well, so it's sweet but still has a teriyaki tang. I think there's ginger in there too. Anyways, I put the filets in the marinade at about 3:00PM. This way, when I got home from school at around 7:30 I could just quickly put it in the oven & not worry about flavoring it.

-2 wild salmon filets
-3/4 - 1 cup any teriyaki style marinade
-1/4 cup [toasted] sesame seeds
-Scallion, cut thin, for garnish, or chives

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees & spray a baking tin with canola spray
-With the sesame seeds spread out on a plate or cutting board, lay the salmon filets on top of the seeds, 1 at a time, giving a nice coating to that one side (my salmon was skin-on, so I only chose to coat the top & sides. Feel free to coat the entire salmon filet if yours is skinless). Place the filets in the tin & bake for 20 minutes
-In the meantime, pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, adding in a little cornstarch while whisking well with a fork to prevent lumps. Bring to medium-high and stir until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Start with 2 teaspoons, maybe a tbsp. depending on how much sauce you have (adding too much cornstarch & subsequently over-thickening the  sauce totally ruins it, so don't be overzealous with it)
-Garnish with the strips of scallion or chives, & serve with the sauce.

These days, being in school 3 nights a week, I'm all about quick recipes that aren't compromising on flavor. This salmon really hit the spot! I'm a sucker for anything sesame :-)


Monday, August 1, 2011

Watermelon, Feta, & Mint Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Congrats to me on my 50th post!!

I put together this salad in less than 10 minutes & I'm savoring it as I type, wishing I had more!! It is most definitely NOT a skeptic's salad because the ingredients seem so random, yet go so well together if I may say so myself. Granted the idea of watermelon & feta isn't a brand new one that came to me in a culinary dream. Rather it is quite popular & I've seen the 2 paired many times on the Food Network, or otherwise. Anyways, I had a lot of fresh cut up watermelon (Rosie absolutely loves it), & a big block of feta cheese in my fridge. I also had fresh picked mint from Avi's aunt's house, & decided to put together this salad! I made a quick balsamic reduction, drizzled it over & sprinkled some pumpkin seeds/pepitas over top. Everyone knows I'm a sucker for sweet+savory dishes, and this one passes the test with flying colors. The sweetness of the watermelon, freshness of the mint, & the saltiness of the feta, mixed with the crunch of the seeds & the tanginess of the balsamic couldn't be more CRAZY GOOD & looks oh-so-gourmet!

For the salad:
-Watermelon, cut small
-Crumbled feta cheese
-A few mint leaves, finely chopped
-Pumpkin seeds
-Balsamic Reduction

-Make the balsamic reduction by adding about 1/4 cup of balsamic into a small saucepan with about a tbsp. of granulated sugar. Whisk it on high heat, bring to a boil, continue whisking a few times for a few minutes, lower the  heat to medium, & whisk until it becomes syrupy. If you don't see it going anywhere, you can add a touch more sugar.
-In the meantime, layer the watermelon, crumble the feta on top, mint, & the pumpkin seeds.
-I drizzled my balsamic reduction over my salad right off the fire, & I think touching the cold plate/food just froze it up! The reduction literally became like balsamic jewels on my plate- almost like candy! (Or it's possible that I added too much sugar). While it was still good, it probably would have been better in the syrupy consistency, so I'd advise to let the reduction cool before drizzling it over the salad. If you are short on time and don't want to make reduction, just a squirt of balsamic over the salad will probably do it justice as well.

A simple salad, perfect for the 9 days :-).