This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Mexican Chicken

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 11, 2010

Mexican chicken with peppers

I had some friends over for Shabbat dinner (belated Cinco de Mayo because we like Mexican food) and this was a big hit. The recipe is a marinade adapted from a friend’s cookbook. I cooked the chicken in a cast iron frying pan (not the enameled iron Dutch oven in this photo; that was for keeping it warm) but I don’t recommend that method with this marinade. The sugar burns/caramelizes and is nearly impossible to get off. I brought water to a roiling boil in the pan twice. I chiseled some off with a knife. Then I heated the pan to libun kal (VERY hot, the temperature you use for making a pan kosher for Passover) and that made the burned on bits flake off. So I recommend that you stick to baking the chicken or cook it in a heavy pot on top of the stove. Hmmm. Maybe I should have used this enameled pot in th efirst place.

Mexican Chicken

Serves 6

2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 tbs olive oil
2 or 3 large chicken breasts, sliced (= about 2 pounds)

3/4 c. water
2/3 c. (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/3 c. cilantro leaves, loosely packed
1/4 c. onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tbs. lemon juice
1 tbs. vegetable oil
3 tbs. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Blend marinade ingredients with a steel blade in a food processor. This will make about 2 cups, which is enough for a whole chicken if you prefer. Marinate chicken in sauce for 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Sauté onions in olive oil until starting to brown. Add sliced red peppers and sauté until tender.

At this point, how you cook the chicken is up to you. I removed the peppers and onions and cooked the chicken in the frying pan, but I don’t recommend that you do this unless you are using a good non-stick pan. It might be easier to throw the chicken, marinade, and vegetables into a baking dish and bake until done. If that works, please let me know!

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Countdown to Seder

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 29, 2010

Bi'ur Chametz (Burning the last of the leavened food)

Now we really are on the home stretch! This morning we burned the last of the chametz, around 11 a.m. My husband’s dried out lulav (palm branch) and hadass (myrtle branches), left over from last Sukkot, are burning on top of a few pita breads. There are several fires in our neighbourhood. People will be coming and going for a few hours to bring the last of their bread and crackers to burn. A few stalwarts will stand around until the end, to make sure that all the bread is burned completely and the fire doesn’t spread.

My home is completely ready for Passover. All the old dishes have been put away, the oven and stove and counter are ready, the fridge has been cleaned and stocked with food for Passover, vegetables and fruits are washed and rebagged, table cover changed. Most of the cooking has been done. Because we eat so much matzah and maror (lettuce) and charoset during the Seder before we get to the meal itself, no one is all that hungry, so I keep the menu simple. I’m baking apricot chicken at the moment.

We had one small mishap this year — my son accidentally bought a parsnip instead of a horseradish. I told him it looked like a white gnarly carrot and forgot about the fact that our minimarket sometimes sells parsnips (called a “white carrot” in Hebrew). Fortunately, there was still time to send him back to the store.

Here’s a “sort of” recipe for Sephardi-style charoset. I call it Sephardi-style because it’s my own version and I’m not Sephardi, and it’s different from the usual Ashkenazi charoset made with raw grated apple, walnuts, and sweet wine. It’s not very photogenic but here’s a picture anyway.


Sephardi-Style Charoset

Makes about 1 cup

8 large, juicy dates; pitted
1/4 cup red wine (I use dry because that’s what we have around the house)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger

This is very much a “too taste” recipe. If it’s too thick, add more wine. If it’s too thin, add a couple more dates or cook longer. Increase the nuts if you want. Just remember that it needs to be a thick paste.


Simmer the dates with red wine in a small pot, mashing from time to time with a spoon, until smooth and thick. Let the mixture cool.


Chop the nuts in a food processor. Fold nuts into the cooled date mixture. Chill.

A kosher and happy Passover to everyone!


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Almond Cream in 19th Century English Jewish Cooking

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 18, 2010

Last year's almond

I was catching up on podcasts during my morning run. In The Splendid Table (Jan. 16, 2010 episode), Lynne Rosetto Kasper took a phone call from Jennifer, a bartender from San Francisco, who had started a company that makes pre-Prohibition cocktail ingredients. She wanted to know more about orgeat or almond syrup. LRK told her that almond syrup (often made nowadays with sugar syrup and almond extract) originally was made from almond milk. She traced the history through France and Germany, mentioning the blancmange of England along the way, back to Arabic culture and the Middle East.

That triggered a memory about Jewish cooking and almond milk/cream. Somewhere — I couldn’t recall where exactly — I had read that Jewish cooking had used almond milk/cream as a parve (non-meat, non-dairy) substitute for cream and a traditional drink to break the fast of Yom Kippur. After I got home, before I jumped into the shower, I pulled out all my Jewish cookbooks, searching for almond milk/cream. I was certain that it had something to do with English cooking, so the first name I looked up was Judith Montefiore, the presumed editor (“A Lady”) of The Jewish Manual, published in London in 1846. Aha–she does have a recipe for orgeat, in the section on recipes for invalids (p. 144).

Lady Judith Montefiore (1784 – 1862), from a prominent Jewish Ashkenazi family, was the wife of Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885). She was a fascinating woman in her own right, a traveller and diarist, but she was overshadowed by her famous philanthropist husband. The Jewish Manual is said to be the first Jewish cookbook in English.

I found an explanation of almonds in Jewish cooking in Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, published in London in 1845. Acton’s book was not intended specifically for a Jewish audience but it has sections that relate to Jewish cooking:

Remarks on Jewish Cookery

From being forbidden by their usages to mingle butter, or other preparation of milk or cream with meat at any meal, the Jews have oil much used in their cookery of fish, meat, and vegetables. Pounded almonds and rich syrups of sugar and water agreeably flavoured, assist in compounding their sweet dishes, many of which are excellent, and preserve much of their oriental character; but we are credibly informed that the restrictions of which we have spoken are not at the present day very rigidly observed by the main body of Jewish in this country, though they are so by those who are denominated strict.
(Modern Cookery for Private Families, p. 606)

A Few General Directions for the Jewish Table

As a substitute for milk, in the composition of soufflés, puddings, and sweet dishes, almond-cream as it is called, will be found to answer excellently. To prepare it, blanch and pound the almonds by the directions of page 542, and then pour very gradually to them boiling water in the proportion directed below:

Almond-cream: (for puddings, &c.) almonds, 4 oz.; water, 1 pint. For blancmanges, and rich soufflés, creams and custards: almonds, 1/2 to whole pound; water, 1 to 1 1/4 pints.
(Modern Cookery for Private Families, p. 609)

Blancmange, in the US, is a cornstarch-thickened pudding. In England, it is made with thickened almond cream (Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, in their Joy of Cooking, refer to this as French style blancmange). Blancmange itself has an obscure history and has sometimes included chicken or fish. I had seen recipes for  Tavuk göğsü, a Turkish dessert made from milk and chicken, but the fish/almond dessert combo was a new one for me. Chicken breast, the blandest part of chicken, is minced so finely that its texture is subsumed into the cream and eggs. Fish, however, has a more strident flavour. I imagine that it would take a lot of almonds and sugar to disguise the fishy taste.

An interesting side note is that almond milk was also used by wealthy Russian Jews in Riga. Joan Nathan (The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, p. 138), says that it was poured over kichel (an egg cookie) or cranberry or rice pudding. Here is her recipe, a Moroccan version, for almond cream.

Almond Milk

4 cups water
1 pound blanched almonds
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange blossom water

Place 1 cup water  in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 cup almonds, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tbs. orange blossom water. Whirl until pulverized.

Press the mixture through a cheesecloth. Then blend once more. Repeat the process 3 more times with the remaining ingredients. Combine the 4 batches.

Serve with ice and dilute with water until the desired consistency is reached.

If you want to make your own orgeat, a component of the original Mai Tai, here’s a recipe.


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Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 8, 2010

Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

You know you’ve been married a long time when your husband doesn’t ask why you’re wandering out of the house carrying a bowl of rapidly cooling soup, a red restaurant apron tossed over one shoulder. I was too lazy to set up a lamp, so I took the soup outside to shoot it. I haven’t posted a recipe for a while.

This is very easy soup, perfect for a winter evening, and full of vitamin A.

You may be wondering, however, why the soup in the photo is garnished with a dollop of plain yogurt and sweet paprika. We’re having an unusually warm day in Israel and I needed to use up the yogurt. For a cooler day, garnish with finely chopped parsley or cilantro.

Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

8 servings

1 tbs. canola oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium white potato, peeled and chopped
6 cups water
550 gm. can corn kernels + liquid
1 tsp salt
lots of fresh ground black pepper

Optional: 2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 2 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro. Or both if you want a Moroccan soup.

Sauté diced onion in oil until translucent. Add diced carrots and continue to sauté until tender. When nearly done, add minced garlic. (You’re adding this last to avoid burning it while the carrots are being cooked.)

Add sweet and white potatoes, water, and corn kernels with liquid. Season. Simmer until all vegetables are tender. Using a stick blender, purée until barely smooth. If you like a chunkier texture, use a potato masher.

If you want a dairy version, substitute 2 cups of milk for the water. Garnish with plain yogurt or sour cream. Tastes great chilled, too!

This is a very adaptable soup.


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It’s Thanksgiving! (for Americans, that is)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! Although I’m Canadian and my husband is English, we were  invited to an American Thanksgiving dinner and I was asked to bring a pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.

I’m not normally a pumpkin pie fan but I think this one turned out well. I used the food processor method of making a pie crust because I had just come home from a dental appointment (complicated root canal — you don’t want to know). The recipe calls for margarine and soy milk because the pie will be served with a turkey dinner. If that’s not a concern, feel free to substitute dairy products.

As for the sauce, it’s straight from the can. The imprint of the bottom of the can evokes so many happy memories for people. 🙂

Parve Pumpkin Pie

Yield: 9″ pie

Pie shell

150 gm flour
100 gm cold, had margarine
50 gm very cold water

Cut margarine into pieces. Pulse with flour in food processor until it looks like very coarse sand. With the processor running on low speed, dribble the water into the flour and margarine. Stop the machine as soon as the dough starts to come together. Shape into a thick disk and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F. Roll dough on a lightly floured board into an 11″ circle and place in 9″ pie pan. Save trimmings for leaf decorations. Prick all over with fork and place double layer of aluminum foil on top to keep it from bubbling up. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes or until edge starts to colour slightly. Cool slightly.


1-15 oz. can (about 1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Lower heat to 350F. Mix all filling ingredients with an electric hand mixer. Pour filling into pie shell. Roll out leftover pastry and score with knife to form veins. Gently place leaf pastry shapes on top of filling.

Bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.


It has been one year since the Mumbai massacre. I didn’t know the Holzbergs, the Israeli couple murdered with other hostages at the Chabad House (may their memories be for a blessing). My friend and former office mate, Kath, was also in Mumbai. I was very relieved when I logged on and saw her tweets and Flickr videos of the news coverage. Hurray for modern technology!


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Pim Techamuanvivit’s Fruit Galette

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 20, 2009

Apple Galette

(Note: This is a photo of my apple galette but not from Pim’s recipe. The galette in the video was made from nectarines.)

I just realised that the video I posted the other day has a full recipe! So I’ve transcribed it. Of course, you could just buy the book. Or go to the Web site: Chez Pim. She has a gorgeous fig tart based on the same recipe. One interesting note: in her fig tart recipe, she uses the same quantities of ingredients for the frangipane but only a quarter of the frangipane is used for the tart.

I left a comment on Pim’s blog and she responded:

The frangipane here is the exact same recipe as in the book (and the video). The only difference is the fruit. In the video there’s a shot where I use just a little bit of the frangipane I just made on the fruit. In the book the instructions also said use a portion and wrap the rest. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make just enough frangipane for just one portion of this kind of rustic tart or galette.

So there’s your answer! I’ll add a note below in the recipe in case folks copy and paste just the recipe itself and delete this part of the entry.

Pim Techamuanvivit’s Fruit Galette

From The Foodie Handbook: The (Almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy

Flaky pastry dough
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup salted butter
1/4 cup cold water

With the heel (coolest part) of your hand on a stone counter or marble slab, work the butter into flour with quick smearing strokes. Add water to flour and butter mass, folding with a dough knife. Shape into a rectangle. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll out, fold into thirds, and chill.

1/2 cup whole roasted almonds
1 1/4 oz sugar plus 1 1/4 oz confectioner’s sugar (If you don’t have a scale, the recipe on Pim’s site says to use about 1/8 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, or just 1/3 cup granulated granulated sugar)
3 oz butter

Finely chop almonds and sugar in food processor. Add butter and egg. Pulse briefly to mix. Important note: this quantity makes enough frangipane for around four pies. Use about a quarter of the quantity for this galette and refrigerate the rest. Pim says that her book mentions this point, but it’s not as clear in the video.

Assembling the galette
Fruit slices (like nectarine, plums, apricots)
Egg, beaten
Sugar for sprinkling

Roll dough into 10″ disk on parchment paper. Spread frangipane on dough. Arrange slices of fruit on dough circle, leaving 1″ margin around the edges. Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400F (185C) for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and fruit is caramelized.


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Ice Coffee Without a Blender

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 24, 2009

My office mate, Yinnon, invented a way to make ice coffee without a blender while he was in the army. I just had a cup and I feel very perky! (I didn’t know at the time that it had espresso in it.)

Ice Coffee Without a Blender

1. Place a 1-liter carton of milk in the freezer, shaking it every half hour so that it doesn’t freeze solid.

2. Mix a thick syrup of sugar and hot water. For 4 cups of ice coffee, Yinnon dissolved 12 tsps sugar in enough hot water to cover. That’s a bit sweet for my taste. I would use less.

3. At 3 p.m. (or earlier, if the milk has frozen sufficiently), pour a shot of espresso into a large cup, add milk slush and sugar syrup, and stir.

If you don’t have an espresso machine at work, substitute a spoonful of instant coffee.

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World’s Easiest Iced Tea

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 19, 2009

Iced Tea with Sunflare

When I say that I discovered the world’s easiest iced tea, I don’t mean “sun tea.” That would require too much advanced planning, like putting a jar of tea outside in the sun in the morning, when I’m still waking up with a triple strength Turkish coffee. Besides, leaving a pot of tea leaves in the sun is a great way to grow lots of life forms that you’d probably rather not ingest.

This method is safer and even easier. I didn’t invent it. I heard it in an interview with Paul Waddington, proprietor of Teasource, in the July 20, 2009, episode of The Splendid Table. (If you like good food and intelligent commentary, check it out. It’s a public radio show on food and food-related topics.)

World’s Easiest Iced Tea

2-3 tea bags (or their equivalent in loose tea)
1 quart water
lemon juice and sugar (or artificial sweetener) to taste

Put tea and water in a glass jar and refrigerate overnight. (I use a glass canning jar because I’m afraid that the tea would stain plastic pitcher. If you have glass pitcher with a lid, use that.) In the morning, strain out the tea loeaves or remove the tea bags. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste.

It’s clear and delicious, never bitter. It doesn’t require boiling, steeping, and cooling the tea, so very little advance planning is required.

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Tender, Flaky, Sourdough “Naan”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 16, 2009

Sourdough "naan"

I write the word “naan” in quotation marks because it isn’t really naan. It just looks like naan and was cooked using the stove-top method.

I forgot to start the sourdough bread the night before. My aging starter hadn’t been fed for a while. Making a pan-cooked bread seemed to solve both problems.

This recipe isn’t fast but it is easy, although you’ll get flour all over everything. By the time I’d finished I had to clean my camera all over with a lens blower, and this was after I had taped a plastic bag over the controls.

But the results are worth it. The bread is tender and flaky — delicious on its own or spread with soft cheese.

If you’re watching your weight, you’ll note that there is no fat in this bread unless you count the oil used to grease the bowl while rising. Actually, I forgot to oil the bowl. You can do that, if you don’t mind scraping the dough out with a rubber spatula later and working in more flour so that it isn’t sticky.

Note: If you don’t have a sourdough starter around the house, substitute 1 1/4 cups water and 1 tsp dry active yeast for the 1 cup sourdough starter and 1/2 cup water. You won’t get the characteristic tang of sourdough but it will be tasty.

Sourdough Naan

Yield: 10 flatbreads

1 cup starter
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour (I used both white and whole wheat)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano

Mix all ingredients into a stiff dough. Add the last cup gradually if your dough is drier than mine was. Knead the dough for a few minutes in a floured bowl. Scrape the bowl, oil the bowl and the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment at room temperature for a couple hours. Your dough will not rise much if your starter is cold from the refrigerator, but this doesn’t seem to make much difference.

Heat a cast iron frying pan on medium heat. Divide the dough into about 10 balls (the size of a large plum). Roll out one ball on a *well* floured board. You don’t want any sticking because the bread will tear. The circles should be fairly thin and about 7″ wide.

Cook the dough circle in the ungreased frying pan for about 3 minutes. If it puffs up slightly, that’s great. That gives the dough its flaky layers. When it is brown and speckled on the bottom, flip the naan over and cook the other side. Roll out the next dough ball and cook it. (It’s better to roll them out individually. If you roll them out all at once, they tend to stick to the board because they will start rising.)

These are wonderful straight from the pan, but you can let them cool, wrap tightly in foil, and freeze.

If you want to be really decadent, drizzle melted garlic butter on top.

  • My recipe for sourdough focaccia
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    Sourdough Focaccia

    Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 3, 2009

    Assignment 26: food

    Sourdough garlic & thyme focaccia, just minutes after I pulled it out of the oven. We will be eating it for Shabbat. Normally I make sourdough loaves or, if I’m in the mood, traditional challah, but it has been so hot that I didn’t want to heat the large oven. Focaccia only needs 25 minutes in a toaster oven, requires a much shorter proofing time, and is nearly foolproof.

    My sourdough starter is one of my kitchen treasures (if you live in Israel and don’t mind coming to the Jerusalem area, I will gladly share it). I’ve had it for at least six years. It started as a cup of flour and a cup of water mixed together and left on the table until bubbly. In Boston and Toronto, I had to hope and pray and wait for days to catch a good culture. In Maale Adumim, with its dry desert climate and strong winds, I usually only have to wait a few hours before it’s foaming like a milkshake. I’ve only caught one bad culture. It rose well but it smelled like vinegar, so I tossed that one.

    After the culture has made its home in the flour/water mixture, I add another cup of flour and water, let it rest at room temperature for a couple hours, and store in the refrigerator. I don’t leave the starter out for days on end and seldom overnight. With the warm temperature, the starter would burn itself out if I did that regularly, so my method is different from what you find on the Web (their advice would probably work for North American bakers, however).

    I feed my starter every two weeks. I don’t believe in losing sleep over wild yeast, so I do not follow the school of thought that treats a starter like a newborn baby and feeds it every two hours. If I neglect the starter for too long and it looks like a swamp, I mix a new flour/water growth medium and add a few tablespoons of the original starter.

    The recipe below makes three small flatbreads. My son was away for Shabbat, so I only needed enough for me and my husband. If you’re very hungry or feeding a large crowd, feel free to double it, but you don’t need to double the quantity of starter. Just double the quantity of water that you add.

    Sourdough Focaccia
    Yield: 3 small flatbreads

    1 cup sourdough starter
    1/2 cup water
    2-3 cups flour, either white or whole wheat

    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp dry thyme (if you have fresh, go for it)
    3 tbs olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    coarse salt (optional)

    The night before you are going to bake the bread, mix the sourdough starter with the water. At this point, if you are planning to double or triple the recipe, adjust the quantity of water (e.g., 2 or 3 cups). Stir in enough flour (about 1 cup) to make a stiff batter. Cover with a towel and leave overnight.

    In the morning, the starter, water, and flour mixture should be foamy. Stir it down. Add salt, thyme, 2 tbs olive oil, and the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead for a few minutes.

    Spray a foil-covered baking sheet with vegetable spray or grease foil with olive oil (more calories but tastier!). Lightly oil your hands and divide the dough into 3 balls. Press them into ovals on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let them rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.

    Mix the remaining olive oil and garlic in a small ball.

    Preheat oven to 400 F (220 C). Uncover the flatbreads and lightly press your fingertips into the dough to create small dimples. Smear the olive oil and garlic mixture evenly over the flatbreads. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.

    Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and store at room temperature.

  • Recipe for sourdough “naan” (not quite like naan, but cooked on the stove)
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