Randi’s Favorite Grilled Honey Shrimp

I made this many, many years ago, and Randi (and Danny) both loved it. I think I took it from an Oprah Magazine dated September 2001. The first time I made it, I put it in a baking dish under the broiler in the oven. The second time I made it, I grilled it. I remember Randi saying it was the “best thing she had ever eaten.” So now I will definitely make it again, and I will see if maybe Noah and Hannah like it, too. The recipe is adapted from “Yellow Velvet Soup with Prawns” by Melissa Kelly.

Shrimp:

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t use)

1/2 lb. extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine chili powder, lime juice, honey, and optional cilantro.

Add shrimp and marinate for 1 hour in fridge.

Grill (or broil in pan in oven on low setting) 2 min. on each side.

Season with salt and pepper.

Retro Blueberry Cobbler from 1984

When I was a teen, one of my family’s favorite restaurants to go to occasionally (due to the expensive prices) was O’Conners Steak House in Warren. This place was hopping and really loved by the very large steak loving population at the time. When you were being seated, you’d pass by a case displaying the myriad of steak cuts you could order. I loved steak (and still do) so much that I even loved looking at it in its raw form. The steak was delicious there, and in retrospect, I’m shocked I was allowed to order steak, because that would have definitely been above our budget. I’m sure my parents restricted me from ordering the largest cut, though. So the times we went there must have been for a special occasion. I loved the steak there so much! It was charbroiled and cooked to perfection. As if my ecstasy over chargrilled, juicy medium rare steak, salad, and baked potatoes oozing with butter was not enough, I went crazy for the dessert. I ordered a blueberry cobbler, which arrived warm in its own little ramekin with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Oh my! The warmth of that slightly sweet Jersey blueberry filling topped with a slightly crunchy crust on top was pushed over the top by the contrast of that cold and creamy vanilla ice cream! It was a memorable meal and an incredibly luscious dessert! Skip ahead to August of 1984 when I found a jewel of a recipe in my montly McCall’s magazine. There was no photo, but I could tell that the recipe entitled “Fresh Blackberry Cobbler” might produce something close to O’Conner’s blueberry cobbler. I baked it and I was jumping for joy that the confection was exactly what I was hoping for. Through the years, I made it a few times and I always loved it, but I sort of forgot about it until now. I made it this week to bring to Randi’s house, and all three kids did love it! Noah said, “I don’t even like blueberries, Safta, but I love this dessert!” Ezra said, “The combination of the warm cake with the cold icecream is so good!” Hannah just ate hers contentedly, like I did. Here’s a photo of the original recipe and of the baked cobbler.

Ingredients:

Filling:

1 heavy quart of rinsed blueberries

scant 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 very generous tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar (reduced from original recipe’s 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Batter:

1/2 cup unsifted flour

scant 1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, softened, but not melted!

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. Grease with butter a 9 inch pie plate.

Make filling:

1.Wash berries and shake to dry.

2, In small mixing bowl, add sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon to berries; mix gently.

3. Pour filling mixture into greased pie plate. Then dot with the 2 tablespoons butter.

Make batter:

1. In medium bowl, combine all batter ingredients, and mix with wooden spoon till smooth.

2. Put dollops of batter in about 9 portions evenly spaced on top of berry mixture. (You don’t need to smooth batter down!)

3. Bake for about 35 min. till mixture is bubbly and batter is lightly browned. You should not see any raw dough.

Let cool for at least 45 min.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Barbecued Brisket

So, I’ve been making variations of the same Jewish brisket- that I grew up eating and loving- for the last 40 years. My kids love my brisket, my parents loved my brisket, my brother Kenny and his family love my brisket, and I love it. That homey, Jewish flavor is so nostalgic of my childhood. I learned how to make brisket from my mother, but I improved upon her recipe by adding elements from my Aunt Florence’s recipe. As a child, brisket was probably my favorite dish, and every year at Passover, on the first Seder, I awaited the moment my Aunt Florence would carry her glorious brisket from the kitchen over the beautifully set table, hoping she would place the dish in front of me (which never happened). The recipe that I currently make which is easier to make than my Aunt Florence’s original, but comparable in taste is this one: http://judysrecipeconnection.com/judys-best-brisket/ I’ve noticed over the years that while my daughter Randi and her husband Dan really love my traditional brisket, my grandkids, Noah, Ezra, and Hannah, are not too crazy about it. Knowing how much they love the flavor of barbecue sauce, I decided to finally branch out, go out of my comfort zone, and make some barbecue style brisket. Well, to say that it was a success is an understatement. Last week, I delivered a “shissel” of this brisket to their house, and Randi face-timed me to show me the licked clean plates of the kids. In fact, I got to watch Ezra licking the last drops of sauce off his plate. That vision is what I live for! Before I left my house to make the food delivery (we’re in the midst of Covid-19), I allowed my son Benji to eat 3 slices of it, and between his facial expressions and sounds of ecstasy, you could say he liked it! So, I’ll make it again soon for everybody- including Danny (other son)- and even allow Benji to have more than 3 pieces.

Ingredients:

one 3 1/2 lb. to 4 lb. brisket to even a 5 1/2 to 6 lb. brisket

kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder

1 medium to large onion, sliced (optional)

barbecue sauce: 1 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, 16 oz. hot water mixed with 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base OR 16 oz. chicken broth (I use the 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon with the 16 oz. water)

Secret Ingredient: S & F Sweet Bay Barbecue Sauce (I’ve only found it at Whole Foods so far)

  1. Season both sides of brisket with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Place in roasting pan, fat side up.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a bowl for the barbecue sauce (above), and pour it around the brisket in the pan.
  3. Slice onion (I’ve used it or not used it, and it really doesn’t make much of a difference).
  4. Cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.
  5. Bake in 325 degree oven for 2 hours. Then take out, uncover, and add the secret ingredient: S & F Sweet Bay Barbecue Sauce (from Whole Foods). Schmear about 1/4 cup of this sauce over the top of the brisket. Then measure 1/2 cup more and pour it into the sauce in the pan- mix a bit to blend. Recover tightly and place back in oven for another 1 1/2 hours. Take out. If fork goes in easily, it’s done. If fork doesn’t, then recover and cook another 30 minutes. If fork still doesn’t go in easily, cook for another 30 minutes. It should be done after 4 hours total.
  6. Take meat out of pan, and let cool in fridge. It’s much easier to slice when it’s cool or cold. Take out, cut off fat, and slice against the grain- slices should be about 1/4 inch thick. Place slices either back in the same pan you roasted the brisket, or in whatever casserole dish you plan to heat it up in. If you are using a different dish, then pour the barbecue sauce from the roaster into the pan with the sliced meat.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil, and either refrigerate till you plan to use it, or heat it up (covered with foil) in the oven for dinner.
  8. Note: If you did use a sliced onion, you may want to discard it before serving. If my grandkids saw those onion slices, that would turn them off to the dish.

Beefaroni!

I started making this a few years ago for my son Benji. His favorite recipe of mine had always been my pasta with meat sauce and meatballs, but that is a whole patchka! In recent years, Benji became very interested in ordering when he went out to a good Italian restaurant, but he said he was always disappointed because it just “didn’t compare to your meatsauce and meatballs!” So I needed to come up with a quick recipe to achieve the same taste as my meatsauce and meatball recipe. When I made it the first time, he loved it. When he was away in the Marshall Islands for a year, he sent me an email with a list of all the things he wanted me to make when he came home. This beefaroni was on that list. Now that we’re home due to Coronavirus, this beefaroni was the perfect thing to make- total comfort food for Benji!

4 Tbs. olive oil or other oil

1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, minced

6-8 garlic cloves minced

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes

1 or 1 1/2 or even 2 lbs. chopped meat, depending on how meaty you want your sauce to be

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I like Cento)

2 small cans tomato paste

1 small can tomato sauce

about 1 cup water

1 teaspoon dried oregano

scant teaspoon sugar

1 lb. pasta, preferably elbows

grated parmesan for serving

In pot, saute chopped onions in  4 tablespoons light olive oil till translucent.  Then add chopped garlic and saute till softened. Add about 1/2 teasp or to taste of crushed red pepper flakes. Add chopped beef.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute over low flame- break up. I use a potato masher to make sure pieces of beef are broken up and evenly distributed with onion and garlic. 

Just stir till beef is no longer pink.  I use a spoon to take about 4-6 Tbs. of oil out of pan. Add all tomato product. Add oregano. Add sugar. Simmer over low flame about 30 min. cover on. If too thick, add 1 cup water. Simmer about 30 – 45 min. more, adding more salt, pepper as needed. after about 30 min. add 1 cup water. cooks about 45 min more.. Taste and reseason with salt, pepper, and more oregano if you wish. If you think the sauce is too thin, then take cover off, and simmer to reduce a bit.

Cook 1 lb. Elbows till al dente.  Drain and add to sauce. Mix and serve with grated parmesan or romano and crushed red pepper flakes.

THE MOST PERFECT HOMEMADE PIZZA TO LIVE ON DURING COVID-19 IN 2020

The Most Perfect Pizza to Live on During Covid-19 in 2020

Home with Benji and Titi for a few months (Coronavirus) and I made an amazing pizza!! This week, I made this dough 2 times, and it made 4 small pizzas, which we ate 4 nights in a row for dinner, and here’s Benji’s comment, “It’s better than Ledos. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had, and I’ve had great pizza in Italy and New York. I like the flavor of the sauce- It’s out of this world, and the crust, while thin is still doughy and substantial. The small pie means that most of it gets pretty well done around the edges, and it has the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce to crust.”

Dough recipe is adapted from NYTIMES: Roberta’s pizza crust

Put 1 full teaspoon dry yeast and 1 scant teaspoon sugar into ¾ cup warm water in the smaller bowl of mixer. Make sure gets bubbly after about 5 min. If it doesn’t, start over with different yeast. I prefer to use Red Star Active Dry Yeast (not quick). Add 1 teaspoon safflower oil after it is really bubbly. Add 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon OO flour and 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix with dough hook like 5 min. On low speed adding up to ¼ cup extra regular flour ONLY if dough is sticking to bottom of the bowl. Then put in lightly greased bowl and cover with saran wrap. If you have like 4 hours- let sit on counter to rise. If you need to go a lot faster, put in oven after turning oven on for 1 min. And shutting oven off! It probably will take 2 hrs to rise that way. Now after the 4 hours, divide into 2 parts, make into 2 balls. If you make right away fine, otherwise, put in fridge over night.

Make homemade pizza sauce I adapted from Serious Eats recipe! This is what makes the pizza so great and tasty!!!

2 large garlic cloves

2 Tbls. olive oil

2 Tbls. butter

1 28 oz. can Cento whole plum tomatoes in puree

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

sprinkling of kosher salt

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 scant tsp. sugar

 Grate garlic cloves using microplane into sauce pan that has the olive oil and the melted butter. Bring up to medium temperature and saute garlic and the red pepper flakes for 2 min. or so till the garlic is translucent. Then using a food mill, puree the whole tomatoes with the sauce into a bowl and transfer into the pan with the oil and garlic. Add the salt, the oregano, and the sugar, and simmer with top off for about 35 min. till reduced by half.  

Take 1 ball of your ready pizza dough. Make about a 9 inch roundish shape or a rectangular shape about 12 inches by about 8 inches approximately on parchment, using flour on hands, on parchment, and on rolling pin, if using. Then place parchment on a heavy cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spoon about 4 heaping tablespoons or ¼ cup pizza sauce over dough- not too heavy! Use a spoon to spread it over the dough all the way to the edges. Sprinkle about 8 oz. of grated organic or regular whole milk, if possible, mozzarella over- not crazy heavy, but all the way to the edges. Sprinkle very lightly with parmesan, and then sprinkle with dried oregano.

Put in oven 5 min.at 450 degrees Raise temp to 500 degrees on lowest or  2nd lowest rack in oven. Bake about 10 more minutes after the initial 5 min. till cheese is nicely browned and bubbly. Slice into squares or triangles.

Amazing Danish Apple Pie Squares

So this year, Randi asked me if I wanted to go to Ezra’s class’s Sukkah at school, and of course I said yes. I asked Ezra’s teacher if she wanted me to bake for the occasion, and she jumped at my offer. So I bought great autumn cookie cutters at Crate and Barrel and at Target, I made up a full batch of my Chanukah cookie dough, and then Hannah and Ezra cut out the shapes and decorated 2 batches, and I finished the third batch at home. I got great sprinkles at Whole Foods without all those bad chemical dyes. Then I baked one batch of Toll House cookies, and one recipe of Danish Apple Pie Squares. I was beyond ecstatic with how much everybody, including parents and kids and teacher responded to all of the food, but I was especially happy with the Danish apple pie squares. They were so, so perfect and the crust was actually cooked on the bottom. So pretty to look at and so delicious to eat! Randi and Dan monitor how much sugar the kids eat, but I had to let them each eat 1 apple pie square and 3 cookies! Had to let them! I found this recipe ages ago in Better Homes and Gardens.

This time, I didn’t increase the dough as I had in the past, and I divided the dough for the top and the bottom evenly. I greased the bottom of the pan. Then I rolled out dough on parchment, and lifted it up and fit it in the pan for the bottom crust. 

Dough: 

2 ½ cups organic King Arthur flour

4 tablespoons Crisco

1 ½ sticks salted organic butter, cold (¾ cup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 extra large egg yolk mixed with whole milk to make a total of ¾ cup liquid

Now, I made this the night before I was planning to make the pie. I couldn’t use my food processor, because it was broken, so I used a pastry blender to cut the Crisco and butter into the flour and salt. When it was blended but still with pieces of butter you could see, I added all of the liquid, and mixed it with a spatula till it almost all came together. Then I dumped it onto parchment, and made it into a ball. Then, I divided it  in half (using scale) and formed each into a rectangular disk and wrapped them in plastic and refrigerated.

Next day, I cut up 8 med-large apples- a combination of organic honey crisp and some other variety from Whole Foods. I sprinkled maybe 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over all and let sit while I rolled out bottom crust.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease pan. Roll out bottom dough on a large piece of parchment large enough that it will fit on bottom and up sides of pan. Important VITAL STEP: Put 1 cup organic cornflakes in baggie, and coarsely crush them. Sprinkle them over bottom crust. Pour all apples evenly over bottom crust. Sprinkle ½ cup sugar mixed with heavy ½ teaspoon cinnamon over the apples. Put in fridge and roll out top crust on parchment paper. Put over and crimp edges. Then mix the left over egg white with 1 T water, and brush all over top crust. Make a few slits in the top. Bake for about 30 min. Then reapply egg white. I also brushed some whipping cream over the top to encourage browning. Bake another 30 min. Till top crust is nicely browned.

Let cool at least 45 min. to an hour, then cut into squares.

NOTE: After about 45 min. I tilted the pan and poured out a bunch of excess juice.

Cheesecake Bars or Squares

I promised Noah that I’d make his favorite dessert  -cheesecake – for the Jewish holidays, and I decided to make some cheesecake bars since it seemed so easy. I looked at a few recipes, and put them together with my “Newest Cheesecake” recipe to come up with my own recipe. I’m surprised at how creamy and yummy they turned out.

Butter sides and bottom of 9 inch square pan. Then line pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, pressing down on sides and bottom. Grease the foil- the  bottom. Then make the graham crack crust. Pat firmly down, and bake at 325 degrees for about 10 min. Put in fridge to cool down crust quickly.

graham cracker crust:

  1. Melt 5 tablespoons salted butter
  2. Add 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  3. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. Add pinch salt

filling:

  • about 18-19 oz. regular, not light, Philadelphia cream cheese (about 2 bars and 1/4th (2-3 oz. more) of another bar (room temp)
  • about 1/3 cup Daisy full fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs or 2 1/2 extra large (I did this)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon flour
  • pinch kosher salt

Directions:

Cream room temp cream cheese till lump-free in mixer. Add sugar and blend. Add eggs one at a time till blended. Add lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and flour, and mix only till blended. On low speed blend in the sour cream. Pour into cooled crust. Bake for 35-40 min. till set and a little jiggly in center. Let sit on counter till totally cooled, and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Newest and Most Amazing Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

Very Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes (Made most recently for Benji and Titi and me on Sept. 1, 2019 and for Noah, Ezra, and Hannah on Sept. 3, 2019)) 

Now made on Sept. 3, 2019 for Noah, Ezra, and Hannah while I’m babysitting for them. Since there was no buttermilk, I made my own by adding 4 ½ teaspoons (1 T plus 1 ½ t or 1 ½ T ) of apple cider vinegar  to each scant 1 cup of whole milk to fill up the dry measure 1 cup which I used instead of a pyrex measurer. I let that sit for about 30 – 45 min at room temp. I added the 2 egg yolks to it and the 2 T melted butter.  I also just whisked the egg whites by hand and they were just soft peaks. So I put all the dry ingred in my pourable blue pancake bowl. Then I lightly used whisk to mix wet ingred in till moistened well. Then I lightly folded in the whites with the whisk because i couldn’t find a rubber spatula.  For some reason, these pancakes came out even better than the ones made with the buttermilk!!! My gosh, Ezra said, “They are the best pancakes I have ever had! They are epic!” Ezra loves his with butter and syrup. Noah eats his pancakes plain, and Hannah just has hers with butter. Ezra ate 4, Noah had 2, Hannah had 2, and I had 2. I just said to Ezra, “if I had offered one more to you, could you have eaten it?” He said emphatically, “Yes. Of course!” That’s why I schlep all my cooking stuff here- to please the kids! Just like I loved doing with my own 3 when they were little.    

I tried a new recipe for buttermilk pancakes that’s very similar to my other ones.  I was very happy with the result and so was my own personal Alex Si Hente (from the old Savarin Coffee commercial), my son Benji.  I also made them for my mother’s best friend Adele, and she enjoyed them as well, commenting that she loved my pancakes, but no others!

  • 2 cups organic King Arthur brand unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2  large (the biggest ones in box though or smallest of extra large) eggs, separated
  • 2 cups Friendship 1.5  percent fat (make sure you shake before using) buttermilk 
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (either salted or unsalted- I happened to use salted)  

First, melt butter in small microwave-safe dish and set aside to cool.  Put dry ingredients in large mixing bowl.

Measure buttermilk in pyrex glass cup measurer.  Then add egg yolks to the buttermilk. Add melted butter and mix till well blended.

In separate glass bowl by hand with wire whisk or using a hand-held mixer or mixmaster- which is much easier than by hand),mix egg whites till almost stiff, but not quite.

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and fold in with rubber spatula till almost smooth- but batter still has some lumps.  Then fold in egg whites gently.

Heat non-stick griddle.  Then coat very lightly with safflower or other oil. If you don’t have the oil, use butter, but do not let your butter brown! Scoop 1/4 cup spoonfuls onto hot griddle.   Leave alone till there are a few bubbles on surface of pancakes, and you have the idea that the undersides are brown, use a spatula and peek under.  If sufficiently browned, carefully flip with a wide spatula. Cook till browned nicely on other side.

Serve immediately with butter and pure maple syrup.

light and fluffy mashed potatoes

For Erev Yom Kippur dinner last night, I made mashed potatoes.  I thought they were good, but my daughter Randi swooned as she ate some and said, “These potatoes are like fluffy clouds, they’re so light!  She asked me if I had done anything different than usual to which I said I didn’t, but I realized I’d better write down what I did do!

5 lbs. organic Idaho potatoes

2 sticks Whole Foods salted butter

about 1/2 cup whole, organic milk

salt (not kosher)

about 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Peel potatoes.  Cut into largish pieces and put in large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil (uncovered), and simmer over low boil till you can put a fork into potatoes easily.  Drain in colander.  Put your sticks of butter back in pot to melt over low flame.  Add potatoes back in, and mash.  Add salt to taste and pepper too.  Then add milk, and mash till nice and fluffy.

new apple pie

I’m always searching of the perfect pie crust; I think I may have found it.  I liked the flavor of it, since it’s made with both Crisco and butter.  My son Danny just told me that he thought it was amazing, so I’ll probably stick with this recipe, at least for awhile.

crust: 

3 cups unbleached organic flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

12 tablespoons frozen salted butter

8 tablespoons crisco (that’s refrigerated)

8 tablespoons ice water

Put flour in food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Sprinkle salt over.  Then put cut up butter over flour and crisco over as well.  Pulse till you can still see some pieces of butter throughout. Pour water over, and pulse till dough comes together.  Dump on clean surface (I use a marble slab) and divide into 2 pieces, one being larger by about 2 oz. for the top crust).

Flatter each into a round disk and refrigerate wrapped separately in waxed paper or parchment paper for a few hours or overnight.

apple filling:

apples – about 12 medium to large apples- I use a variety of baking apples either from my local orchard, Terhune Orchards near Princeton, or from

Whole Foods.

scant 3/4 cup granulated sugar

about 1 1/2 teaspoons organic cinnamon (you many need 2 teaspoons to taste)

about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour (I used cornstarch this time)

dash kosher salt

2 tablespoons butter, broken up for dotting over the top

Roll out smaller bottom crust, using enough flour to prevent sticking.  Place carefully in 9 to 9 1/2 inch pie dish.  Then spoon apples and most of the macerated cinnamon-lemon juice in. Dot with about 2 tablespoons butter. Then stick this in fridge while you roll out top crust.    After you roll out the top crust, carefully place over the apple filling.  Brush crust with a mixture of 1 egg and about 1 1/2 teaspoon milk or light cream (I used the light cream).  Then refrigerate or freeze for baking later. I freeze it uncovered for about 30 minutes before I wrap it up to give the egg wash some time to freeze.

Before baking, put  about 6 slits in the top for venting purposes.I bake it frozen at 375 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 minutes on lowest possible position in the oven  till the crust is nice and golden, and just before the juices start to erupt.