Friday, December 30, 2011

Mini Quiche

I am a firm believer in finger food. 

For the record, I am also a big believer of bite sized things that look and taste awesome but are super easy to make, and also the tooth fairy.

And when this coincides with a use for my newly acquired, carted-across-the-atlantic mini cupcake pan, more the merrier am I.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chanukah Goodies

I wish I had time right now to share with you all the recipes for the treats I made for our chanukah party. And I really should be cleaning up from all the mess of twenty gazillion kids in my house, but there is just too much else to do.

So for now I'm just going to be mean and keep you in suspense a few more days. In the mean time, here are some tasty pictures to tide you over......

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crazy Tiramisu

Warning: If you are opposed to seeing copious amounts of chocolate, eggs, cream, and alcohol, stop reading now.

For those of you who have been craving a four-thousand-calorie-a-serving snack, this is the recipe for you.

Ok, so it takes forever. Melting chocolate, making custard, whipping egg whites and cream and dirtying absolutely every single bowl you own.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beer Butt Chicken

I know, I know. Chicken. What is it doing on this blog? Not nearly as tasty as chocolate, as my four-year-old likes to say (which, by the way, applies to everything). I have a confession to make. I'm usually not very adventurous when it comes to meat products. I was a vegetarian in my formative cooking years, and I squirm when I have to cook anything but boneless skinless chicken breast.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Candy Cane Crinkles

 We've been back for a few weeks, and already my supplies are dwindling. Not sleeping = coffee ALL the time = my bag of dunkin dark roast is looking pretty near empty.

I have one bag of candy melts to make cake pops, and I'm hoarding them jealously. And the two boxes of candy canes that miraculously got here in-tact despite being carried to the tower of london and back? Well, after today's cooking venture I might not even have enough to make a peppermint version of the magic ice cream.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

This is a good time of year to work on self-improvement. Oh, I don't know about you, but I can certainly vouch for myself. Being in the holiday-frenzied country of the grand old U. S. of A, it's easy to get caught up in things. And you know what things I mean- shopping, shopping, and shopping!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Twisty Candlemaking

My family is strange. Sorry, family, but you are. You see, it's perfectly normal for them to decide on a whim  to make rather complicated stuff that most people just buy. Like... a sauna, play doh, a porch, or felted wool balls. I have vague childhood memories of making soap on the back porch and trying to keep the cats from committing suicide in the lye bucket. 

Yes, yes, this could explain a lot. Let's not even go there.

Instead, round up some clothespins, because today my mom and sister are going to show you how to make a twisted havdalah candle. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

3 Lessons

Oh boy, here we go. I spent a month in the consumer wonderland of America, and would you forgive me if I said I didn't get any cake decorating supplies? I know, I know, pathetic. Lesson # 1: Go to Michael's before you fill up your luggage with a sewing machine, a chess set, and clothes for your kids.

I was a bit caught up in seeing family, old friends, and dealing with the emotional shock of being in places that once seemed like home and now just fill me with a sad familiarity. America, I don't even know you anymore.

Like, did you know that leaves change color in the fall? That's one of those things I didn't even remember that I missed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monster Cookies

This week I went to visit my sister at school. These days whenever I go anywhere, I am pretty much expected to bring some baked goods. Which is fine, really, except my pesky little sister has a really pesky milk allergy. Like, goes into shock if she eats even the tiniest bit of milk. And what baked goods can one possibly make without dairy?

Even more importantly, why are all margarine brands in this country made with milk?? Seriously, people!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pear Brie Tart

Hi there, universe.

You and I have been a bit at odds lately. First there was traveling internationally with two kids under the age of 5. Why-oh-why do they not sell kids benadryl in my country? To all the nice people on our flights, stop giving me death looks. I don't want to be around my kids on a plane any more than you do.

Then there was wedding hullabaloo and nonstop in-laws. And a trip to the ER with our obscure traveler's insurance.

And that was just the beginning.

In short, universe, you have taken the last ounce of my energy and motivation and I simply cannot whip up a culinary masterpiece. But I sure can throw together a fancy schmancy tart that looks and tastes divine and takes all of 5 minutes in prep. Ready? Go.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mini Chocolate Eclairs

Ugggghhh. Sorry, that's not a very polite way to begin a conversation, but that's the way I feel right now.

I got it in my head this week that life would not be complete without mini chocolate eclairs. Do you ever get this feeling? Then I saw how many eggs were in my recipe, and my heart nearly stopped. It's probably a good thing that I haven't gotten my cholesterol checked in a while.

But I saw this huge carton of eggs at a local fruit store, and I decided that the heavens were trying to tell me to make eclairs. Isn't it nice when you get approval from above for baking projects?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cranberry Lemon Oat Bread with Lemon Curd

Oh dear. I must not be very good at this blogging business. I keep making delicious food, mind you. But I do it at night and then my pictures come out all wonky. Or I do manage to get nice pictures but forget to take the in-process pics. You will forgive, me, won't you?

Today I had approximately 15 minutes to whip up something to bring to a friend's house. Luckily, I had some leftover lemon curd in the fridge (how strange, I know) and some cranberries a friend had stuck in my freezer (thank you, friend!).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pie Pops

Finally! I've been drooling over cake pops since the amazing Bakerella first started this crazy trend. Crazy, of course, because I can't figure out how to acquire candy melts in Israel and there is only so much you can do with chocolate. But oh, the agony of not being able to put cute baked goods on a stick. Belive me, it's bad.

So when I saw cute apple pie cookies on Smitten Kitchen, I finally joined the trend and put something cute on  a stick.

Peach pie. Oh yum. I pre-cooked the peaches so that they would be nice and soft (also, they weren't quite ripe but I didn't have enough patience to wait another day).

Easy Black Bean Soup

Oh boy, has it been a crazy week around here. I started off with all sorts of grand ideas of delicious confections to bake. Then some events beyond my control had me out of the house for almost a week. Not even near a kitchen. Or normal food. Not to mention delicious baked goods. Then of course by the time I came home, the house was a mess, there was no food to be found anywhere, and general mayhem ensued.

Which is the perfect time to start making easy, comfort food recipes that can be made essentially from pantry ingredients. Well, in my house black bean soup is comfort food.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Red Velvet Fudge

It's funny how our tastes change over time. Like, how I used to love those mixed licorice candies more than life itself, and I was so incredibly excited to find them at the store the other day. You know what? They sort of taste like over-sweetened rubber.

Maybe it's the change of countries, but these days I like my chocolate dark, my coffee black and my candies not super sweet.

So when I saw this absolutely genius idea for making red velvet fudge from one of the blogs I love to stalk read, I was thrilled to see that it doesn't require marshmallow creme or condensed milk or those other super sweet unobtainable-in-Israel ingredients. (condensed milk we have, marshmallow creme is always questionable)

What you do need in making this recipe is a lot of faith. Faith that adding so much red food coloring is both 1) good for you and 2) will not stain your teeth irreparably.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guilt Free Coconana Muffins

There are about a million good banana cake/muffin recipes out there.

In fact, I had fully intended to make one of those very recipes. Except I kept on adding a bit of this and that and substituting, and I wasn't quite sure how it was going to turn out. And so I figured, what the heck. Make it "healthy" so I don't feel guilty about eating four muffins instead of lunch. Not that I would do anything like that.

So here you have it. Whole wheat, reduced fat chocolate chip coconana muffins.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not Your Momma's Honey Cake

I'll be the first to admit it. I hate honey cake. I know it's a traditional holiday food, and every year as far back as I can remember I have somehow choked down a token bite of those dense brown bricks that masquerade as cake.

And then one year, a really great Emeril cookbook appeared in the mail, completely unbidden. When miracles like this happen, I'd rather just say thanks and not ask questions (although isn't it weird to get a cookbook in the mail when you never ordered one and didn't even know that this specific one existed?). Of course half the recipes call for pork, sausage, bacon, or some combination of the three. Which may in fact be very tasty, but I can only vouch for the non-pig recipes.

Like this honey cake. It's not even honey cake, really, but more of a chiffon spice cake sweetened with honey. The egg whites keep it nice and light, and the cake flour and mixing method give it a silky texture. It's almost a honey coffee cake. Honey-coffee-chiffon-spice-cake.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Makes You Want to be Jewish Challah

Did anyone know that Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year) is this week? When did this happen?? Why did nobody tell me?

Do you know what this means? Two food-laden days (well, three if you count Shabbat). Full of baked goods. And I'm nowhere near prepared.

Time to start making absolutely ridiculous amounts of food. Let's start with Challah. I can take no credit for this recipe, but I can tell you that for the love of this absolutely chewy Challah, I will actually MEASURE all my ingredients. This, folks, is a big deal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cookie Giveaway

Why, what's that I spy?

What, cookies just waiting to be decorated!?!

Sweet Tea Vodka

Today I want to share a little gem of alcoholic deliciousness with you.

You've probably heard of sweet tea vodka.

It hasn't exactly made it's way to mainstream Israeli culture. What a shame. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Only The Best Chocolate Brownies Ever

Between last night and this morning I have made about eighty four thousand different dishes. I have three friends coming to visit and apparently I think they eat like elephants. Did you know that elephants can eat up to 300 kg/day? It's sort of disturbing how many websites discuss the eating patterns of elephants.

But I digress. Cooking makes me sort of loopy sometimes.

So do these brownies. They make me go so crazy I turn into the type of animal that steals the food meant for it's family. Whoa, did you know there's even a name for this? It's called kleptoparasitism. Gee, google is a splendid creature.

I should probably stop.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes and Kitchen Mishaps

It's been a long week, folks.

I'd love to complain to you and make you feel sorry for my pathetic cooking existence, but in the grand scheme of things it's not been terribly bad and so you probably won't have much sympathy for me.

Instead, I present to you my week in failed cooking experiments in pictorial format.

There was the too-dry bruschetta that I accidentally left too long in the oven. Crunch.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sailor Cake

See this guy? He's going on top of a birthday cake for my boy who loves ships, and sailors, and the like. So, like the good mommy that I am, I baked a moist, 3- layer chocolate cake, filled with chocolate buttercream.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sour Lemon Pie

We used to joke as kids that if Martha Stewart wanted to make steaks for dinner, first she had to fatten a calf and slaughter it.

So today, kiddies, we're going to make a lemon pie, Martha-style.

First go out to your lemon orchard and pick a few sour lemons.

 (This is our back yard. No lie. Did I mention we live in Paradise?)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Morning Coffee Cake

I live in a land of no Entenmann's. That's right, no picture window boxes for you to peer into and find that your husband has eaten just the top of the crumb-top cake and left you with a stale cake bottom. I live a pathetic life, I know.

I've heard rumors that they sell these glorious food products in the Anglo enclave that is Beit Shemesh, but honestly does that even count as being part of Israel? (And food-product-jealousy rears its ugly head)

Anyways, Beit Shemesh is too far for Friday Morning Breakfast.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 Minute Gazpacho

I've finally found a use for my inordinately long cutting board. Chopping up lots of different vegetables... and arranging them separately.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Magic Ice Cream

I'm going to share a secret ice cream recipe with you.

Okay, it's not really a secret. I found it on a really amazing baking blog who got the idea from here.

Here you go: 2 ingredient ice cream. No ice cream maker. Fluffy, creamy, delicous (and a heart attack in a bowl, but it's worth it on the whole). Condensed milk, whipping cream, and whatever flavors float your boat.

I went with chocolate peanut butter. Never fails.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soft Pretzels & Chem 101

I've made soft pretzels twice in the past two days, and I'd make more tomorrow if I hadn't run out of flour out here in the middle of nowhere where the local mini-market is open at 6:45 but closed by noon.

But not to worry, these pretzels are so fun to make that I don't even mind being baking handicapped. They are chewy and salty and delicious, and easy enough for a 4-year-old to make

The first thing you do is proof your yeast. This step isn't essential- if you continued and added all the ingredients, the yeast would still multiply and make your dough rise. But it does make sure that you know your yeast works and that you didn't use water that was too hot.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Good Boy Plum Pie

I love wandering around and exploring all the stores in our new area. Although considering how expensive it was to move, about the only shops I can afford to actually buy from are the vegetable ones. 

Lucky for me, there's a place nearby that sells everything  for 3.80 NIS/kilo. That's $0.49/lb, American people. I sort of went overboard grabbing fruits and veggies and I don't even know what I'm going to do with all of this. 

But it sure is purty, ain't it?

Plum pie, anyone?

Friday, August 19, 2011

The way to a man's heart

I was all ready to write about the amazing fruit store I found nearby, but after today's breakfast I just couldn't help myself.

My family bought me a mini waffle pan when I passed my thesis defense. Kind of a sneaky gift, dontcha think? It's like when I bought my husband an espresso machine... I think I probably end up drinking more coffee than him. And with the waffles, they don't even have to make them!

At first I was skeptical that waffles this small could be satisfying, or that they would even come out of the pan in tact.

Sometimes it's good to be wrong.

So, this morning, instead of our usual Friday morning pancake extravaganza, I whipped up a batch of my favorite waffle recipe from the Settlement Cook Book.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chocolate Cupcake Bliss

I've been planning on making cupcakes for a while. They're perfect for me- cute, don't require great decorating skills, big wow factor. Except now that the closest store sells chocolate chips for 15 shekels a package ($4.25), I've learned that I have to be prepared.

I have to admit, it's getting a bit out of control. And I don't even want to tell you how little butter was left at the end of today. 

So there I was with all the essential food groups and no ideas.

No ideas= make chocolate. Am I right or am I right??

Monday, August 15, 2011

Romantic Dinner for Four

Seven years ago today, I married my college sweetheart. We got married in the downstairs chapel of our synagogue and then had a reception on a floating barge on top of a biker's bar.

I certainly could never have imagined how far life would take us in 7 years.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

When it's late at night and you're home alone after an awful, long, terrible, useless day of work, and you're out of ice for that glass of whiskey you'd really like to have, there's only one thing left to do:

Bake. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now.

At first I wasn't going to share this recipe with you because, well I spent years trying to come up with the perfect recipe. And I'm selfish like that. But then I figured that the world would be a better, less-alcoholic place if we had these awesome cookies to greet us after a really horribly hard day.

Fruit Orchards

The apartment we rent sits on a lot of 30 dunams of land (7.4 acres) or 300 dunams (74 acres), depending on what time of day you ask my landlady. Either way, that's plenty of space to keep chickens, a dog, and a ton of fruit trees.

The lemons are grown for commercial purposes, but the mangos, passionfruit, carob, and sabras are just for the family. And I think they've sort of adopted us. 

We've been here now a total of 3 days, and so far they've left us a bag of mangos on the stairs and knocked on our door with a bag of gargantuan lemons. And you know what they say, if your neighbor gives you lemons...

Friday, August 12, 2011

A tale of two kitchens

Well, we survived moving. Barely. I would love to complain about all the things that went wrong and people who tried to screw us over, but it would just get ugly. So instead, let's talk about the important things. My new kitchen.

So just for comparison, this is what I have been living with for the past two years:

Note the infinitesimally small counter space (which we had to put in, I might add). And the impossibly moldy nasty uncleanable walls. And general ick. Ick ick ick.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Moving Day

Ok, here we go folks. I should be packing and disassembling cabinets and washing the floor, and all of those unpleasant last-minute moving things. 

Instead I've decided to finally start that blog I've been meaning to write. You see, I have this obsession with baking. It's pretty serious. I make all sorts of sugary treats, and then feel compelled to take pictures and share them with the world.

Like this 8-layered chocolate raspberry cake

Or lemon meringue cupcakes

So, now that my kitchen is entirely packed up and even the last bits of sugar have been put away, the question is how long it will take us to go from this:

Back to this: