Jewish Apple Cake

My daughter Randi had eaten some homemade apple cake at a friend’s house, and she claimed it was the best apple cake she’d ever eaten.  It turned out the recipe had come from Smitten Kitchen and is called Mom’s Apple Cake.  I basically followed the recipe to a t.  It turned out to be absolutely delicious.

( adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples (I used a combination of apples)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (squeeze fresh if you have it)
  • 2 3/4 cup flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs (extra large)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Croissant Bread Pudding With Chocolate Chips

I recently watched an old episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, and he made a luscious looking bread pudding.  I made a few changes to his recipe, and I really loved the results.  What is remarkable about this recipe is that it is so easy to make. Below is my version of his recipe.

  • 12 plain croissants (I bought mine at Costco) (let sit unwrapped for a few hours before you use them)
  • about 15 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Generously grease a large 10 by 13 pan- sides and bottom- with butter.  Tear croissants into 1 inch pieces- maybe about 4 or 5 pieces for each croissant.  Put all pieces in prepared dish.  Then sprinkle the chips all over.  Toss lightly with your hands or move the some of the top pieces so that some of the chips slip through. 

Prepare the custard by melted the stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl large enough to eventually fit all the custard ingredients.  Let cool a few minutes or stick in the fridge to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, add the sugar and mix.  Add the cream, and then the eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Whisk till  blended well. 

Ladle the custard mixture over the croissants and chocolate chips.  Push the croissants down lightly with your hands to submerge as best as possible in the custard.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate until ready to bake. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake (still covered in foil) in center of oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Uncover and let cool for a few minutes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

***If you are baking this at home and then bringing it with you, put it on a half sheet pan after it comes out of the oven, keep it covered with the foil until you serve it. 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese with Fresh Herbs and Lemon

Over the last few months, I’ve been wanting to make my own ricotta cheese.  I read a few recipes for this delicate and delicious cheese, I took a some ideas from a few sources and came up with my own version.  I served mine this weekend at my grandson’s third birthday party, and it was a hit.  It’s super easy to make and as fresh tasting as you can imagine.

Ingredients:

2 quarts whole milk

1 pint heavy cream

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

for seasoning later:

kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 scallions, both green and white part, minced

about 2 tablespoons minced  fresh chives

1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced

the zest of one lemon, and its juice, too

Instructions:

In a heavy six quart pot, pour the milk, the cream, and the 1 teaspoon salt.  Over medium heat, bring to a full boil, stirring every few minutes to prevent scorching.  When it comes to a boil and bubbles all over, add the lemon juice and turn off the flame.  Let sit for a minute until the mixture curdles and the curds separate from the whey (the liquid).  Set a sieve over a deep bowl and line the sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Pour the mixture through the sieve.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Then turn the cheese in the cheesecloth into a bowl.  Cover and put in fridge to cool.  After about 30 minutes, take out and add all the seasonings above:  the dill, scallion, chive, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Mix gently with rubber spatula, and refrigerate until you serve with crackers or on toasted slices of baguette.

Eggs and Potatoes in One Pan

I often make one of my specialties, called brenta, which is a recipe of my Grandma Hindes.  Brenta means burned in Yiddish, and these are basically fried potatoes- a Jewish version of hash browns-  but better (you can find this recipe on this site under potatoes). 

To make this, I put about 1 tablespoon of butter in a small nonstick frying pan and melted it on a medium flame.  Then, I put some leftover brenta (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups) in the pan and flattened them to cover the bottom of the pan.  Then I cracked 2 extra large organic eggs on top of the brenta.  I broke the yolks a little, then I covered the pan, and cooked over a medium high flame until the eggs were cooked.  I served and ate immediately, sprinkling with a little kosher salt and some fresh black pepper.  This Is as yummy as can be. 

The next time I do this, I may sprinkle some grated extra sharp cheddar on top of the eggs as they cook.  I’m also thinking about making this dish but in a larger quantity for my family or to bring to school for one of our teacher breakfasts.  I’d do it in an oval baking dish, and bake it in the oven on a high temperature – of course add more of everything- maybe about 4 cups of the brenta, 1 dozen eggs, and about 1/2 cup shredded cheddar over all.  I’ll keep you posted once I do this for more people than just myself.

Asparagus or Mushroom Quiche

I love quiche, but I don’t often make it because, let’s face it, it’s not exactly healthy.  When I happen to have a frozen pie crust in the freezer, either fresh or frozen asparagus or some mushrooms, some half and half or light cream, and swiss cheese in the fridge, I decide it’s time to treat myself and my daughter Randi, who loves my quiche.  I have these items handy more often now, because I’ve become a real Costco shopper, and I like to buy their fresh asparagus or mushrooms, and their lite gruyere cheese- which is delicious. This morning, I realized I had all the ingredients with about and hour and a half to spare, so I decided it was time to make some quiche.

for one quiche:

  • 3 extra large eggs or 3 large eggs plus one egg yolk (or 4 large eggs-3/2011)
  • 1 1/2 cups of light cream or half and half –  or 3/4 cup heavy cream plus 3/4 cup whole milk (March 2011, only used about 11/4 cups light cream)
  • about 1 pound or a little more fresh asparagus, roasted or 1/2 box of frozen asparagus spears, defrosted
  • 1 frozen deep dish pie shell, Oronique is my preference
  • 4 – 5 oz.  Swiss or Gruyere cheese ( I like to use lite gruyere or alpine lace, but any swiss is fine)(Used about 1/2 lb. 3-11)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Cut ends off asparagus spears.  Place on pan.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle a tablespoon of  light olive oil over, toss asparagus with oil.  Roast for about 20 -25 min. till asparagus is cooked.  Set aside to cool.  Then cut spears into bite sized pieces.  Or defrost 1 16 oz. box of frozen asparagus spears,  pat dry, then cut into bite sized pieces, use about 1/2 of the asparagus or more if you wish for one quiche.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.Take a frozen deep dish pie shell in its aluminum pan and place it in a pyrex pie plate to prevent any mess in the oven.   Prick pie crust all over with fork.  Bake for about 10 min.  Then take out of oven.

In medium bowl, whisk or beat with fork, eggs with cream, add salt and pepper.  Spread asparagus (or mushrooms-see instructions below) over bottom of crust, tear cheese into medium to smallish pieces and place over asparagus, pour egg and cream mixture over.   Place on sheet pan in preheated oven, and bake 45-55 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is nicely puffed and lightly browned.  Serve.

for mushroom quiche:

Saute 10 oz. of sliced white or baby bella mushrooms with or without 1/2 chopped onion, with little kosher salt, papper, optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil or only olive oil till caramelized.

Fresh Spinach, Mushroom, And Cheese Frittata

I whipped this frittata up in no time at all for a quick lunch at my mother’s house last week for my daughter Randi, her husband Dan, and for my mother and me.  It took about 10 minutes of prep time, and about 20 minutes of cooking time.  This frittata looks and tastes beautiful!!

  • 12 extra large eggs
  • 8-10 ounces prewashed baby spinach
  • 8-10 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned and then sliced
  • 6-8 oz. grated cheese – I used pre-grated cheddar-monterey jack, but Swiss or Gruyere would be great, too
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes – optional
  • butter or olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs in bowl; set aside.  Heat a largish saute pan, then add about a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Put mushrooms in pan, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper, leave undisturbed till they brown on bottom, turn and brown on other side. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.  Put a little more butter or oil in pan.  Put spinach in on very low heat, until just wilted.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.  Set aside in bowl.

Grease sides and bottom  a 10 inch oven safe non-stick saute pan with butter.  Put on stove over a medium flame.  Pour eggs in.  Run spatula around edges, lift eggs off bottom until eggs are starting to set a little, but still are somewhat liquidy.  Take off stove.   Then sprinkle the cheese on top of eggs.  Distribute spinach all over the top, and then place mushrooms over spinach.  Place in oven for about 10 minutes until eggs are cooked through and are no longer liquidy.  Slide frittata onto serving dish, or serve right from pan. 

Spinach, Mushroom, Swiss Cheese, And Egg Casserole

This delectable vegetarian dish is a cross between a frittata, a souffle, a quiche, and a casserole.  The last time I made this delicious dish was when I made my daughter Randi’s bridal shower.  This dish made an incredible hit, and many people asked me for the recipe.  I like to make this because I can do most of the prep work a day in advance, and then it’s a breeze to pop it into the oven.  This is a wonderful dish for a brunch or a family breakfast, or for a special occasion.  You will love this!

  • 1 Tbsp. oil (I use any olive oil for this)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
  • 10 oz. mushrooms, sliced, and brushed off or lightly rinsed and dried (use your favorite mushrooms- I usually use white)
  • 9-10 oz. prewashed baby spinach
  • 10 extra large or jumbo eggs
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 8-10 oz. -I like to use a combination of the two cheeses, but that isn’t necessary) – then divide your cheese in half
  • 1 cup of half and half 
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • cayenne or red pepper flakes – optional

You can do this part of the prep in advance and then refrigerate until you are ready to bake:

Grease sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 rectangular or oval baking dish with butter or margarine.

Heat oil in large saute pan on medium high until oil is hot.  If you are using crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of them into the oil.   Add onions; saute 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes until the mushrooms are starting to brown a little.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt and about 15-20 grinds of black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon), and if you are using the cayenne instead of the red pepper flakes, sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon in. Turn off the heat.  Add the spinach, and mix in so that the spinach wilts and turns a darker color.  Spread the onion, spinach, mushroom mixture in the bottom of the greased baking dish; top with half of the shredded cheese.  This can now be covered and put into the fridge until you are ready to bake it. 

When you are ready to bake, follow these steps:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Beat eggs with half and half in mixing bowl. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon of each).  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese; top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake 35-40 minutes until eggs are puffed and set and top is lightly browned.  You should not see any liquid from the eggs.  If you do, bake another 5-10 minutes.  If the top isn’t browned, turn the setting in the oven to broil, and cook 1-2 minutes, but watch very carefully so you don’t burn this masterpiece!

Serve immediately!  

Note:  You can do all the preparation and then bake this at the same time.  But if you are making this for company, doing the prep work a few hours in advance or the night before takes all the anxiety away.

My Cousin Karen’s Delicious and Tasty Quiche

The Combination Of Flavors In This Easy Quiche Is Outstanding! 

I adapted this quiche recipe from a recipe I got years and years ago from my cousin Karen.  Besides being an excellent cook, my cousin is an amazing person.  She is a brilliant doctor with her own practice on Park Avenue in New York City.  She also has many other talents.  Number one, she is a devoted mother of her two amazing twin sons, Matthew and Douglas, and she is a loving daughter and sister.  Plus, she is an accomplished author, and she creates beautiful hand crafted jewelry.  I love spending time with my cousin Karen.  I just don’t get to do it enough!  Karen made this quiche years ago, and I loved it, so of course, I asked her for the recipe.  This quiche is so easy to make, so if you know how to boil water, I think you should try this!

  • 1 deep dish frozen pie crust, such as Oronique
  • 3 ounces French’s fried onion rings (1/2  of a 6 oz. can)
  • 4 to 6 oz. grated or thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half or light cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 dashes cayenne pepper
  • about 2/3 of a 10 oz. box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prick frozen pie shell all around.  Then bake for about 10 minutes; set aside.  Then, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs with half and half or light cream. Add spices to taste.  On the bottom of the pie shell, place 1/2 half of the cheese to cover the bottom of the crust.  Then add the onion rings on top of the cheese.  Next add the spinach to complete the next layer.  Place the remaining cheese over the spinach.  Gently pour the egg and cream mixture over the top cheese layer.  Place the quiche on a half sheet pan and then put in center of oven. 

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until puffed and golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.  

Helpful Hint:  If you have an oven proof glass or ceramic pie plate, I recommend that you place the store made pie shell in  its tin right into your pie plate before you start the baking process.  This will give the quiche extra support, and if some of the custard leaks during the cooking, it will have somewhere to go.

Variation #1:  Instead of spinach, use 10 ounces of fresh sliced mushrooms, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper,  sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter.

Variation #2:  Instead of frozen spinach, use 1 10 oz. bag of fresh, triple-washed baby spinach, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,sauteed in a pan in 2 tablespoons of butter just until it wilts for 1 or 2 minutes.   

Variation #3:  Use a combination of the sauteed fresh spinach and the sauteed fresh mushrooms.

   

Easy To Make Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding

Serve This Bread Pudding For Breakfast, Brunch, or Dessert!

I have a few recipes for bread pudding. This recipe is so easy to make, and it is delicious. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a baker, you can definitely make this bread pudding! The taste reminds me of a really good cinnamon danish. Of course, this bread pudding isn’t low in calories, but unlike other bread pudding recipes, this recipe uses milk instead of half and half. So, it is lower in calories than some bread puddings. Yet, it still tastes sinfully rich. This dish makes a nice addition to a brunch buffet or even a dessert buffet. It really is comfort food at its best.

  • 8 – 10 1 inch thick slices of challah
  • 4 extra large or jumbo eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup of raisins, currants, or dried cranberries

Grease an oval or rectangular 8 inches by 10 inches by 2 inch baking dish.

Slice the challah into 1/2 inch thick slices. Then cube the bread into 1/2

cubes. Cut the crusts off of the slices of challah. Put the bread cubes in

the prepared dish. It’s okay if you have 2 layers of bread cubes. Sprinkle

the raisins, currants, or dried cranberries throughout and on top of the

bread. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, the milk, the vanilla, the

cinnamon, and the salt together. Ladle the custard mixture over the

bread making sure that you get the custard over all the bread uniformly.

Sprinkle the top with additional cinnamon. Cover the dish with

plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Preheat

oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick

inserted in the middle of the pudding comes out clean. Serve hot out of the

oven or at room temperature.

Note: Using challah that is a few days old is fine, because if the bread is just a little stale, it will soak up the custard even better. If you are using fresh challah, I recommend slicing it and letting it sit out on the counter for 1 or 2 hours to let it get a little stale.

Healthy and Delicious Vegetable Frittata

This Frittata Is As Good As Quiche But Easier To Make And Healthier Too!

My mother and I were invited over to our friend Sherill Kobb’s house yesterday for lunch.  Sherill is an amazing cook and baker, and a wonderful person.  So between just spending time with Sherill and eating her amazing food, I was in seventh heaven.  It was such a treat for me to enjoy someone else’s cooking for a change.  I felt like a princess, because Sherill is such a gracious hostess, and she really makes her guests feel special.  Well, Sherill prepared a delicious feast which was as appealing aesthetically as it was gastronomically.  She started with French onion soup that was incredible, then she served this vegetable frittata along with a beautiful salad with goat cheese and her homemade mustard and white wine vinaigrette, and then she served a delicious apple cake and coffee for dessert.  What a treat!  

  • 5 extra large or jumbo eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 heavy tablespoon of sour cream (adds richness and tanginess, but you don’t have to use it)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • about 8 spears of fresh asparagus
  • about 4 green onions or scallions, yellow and white part
  • about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (parsley adds a fresh clean taste to the frittata)
  • about 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • about 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of light olive oil  or other vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus.  Then cut the asparagus into bite size pieces, about 1-1 1/2 inches long. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender about 2-5 minutes depending upon the thickness of the asparagus.  Drain the asparagus and then run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Dice the red pepper into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Chop the scallions on the diagonal into pieces about 1/2 inch in length.  Melt the butter with the oil in a non-stick saute pan that measures approximately 8 inches across the bottom and 10 inches across the top of the pan.  Make sure you swirl the butter and oil around so the sides of the pan get coated as well.  Then saute the red pepper and scallions (season with a little salt and pepper) for about 3 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.  Turn heat off and take off stove, and set aside. 

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and the egg whites.  Add a pinch of the kosher salt and about 6 turns of freshly ground black pepper.  Add the tablespoon of sour cream if you are using it and whisk. (You will still see the sour cream in the eggs, and that is ok.)  Set aside.

Add the parsley and the asparagus to the sauteed red pepper and scallions in the pan.  Mix together gently.  Place back on the stove over a medium flame.  Pour the eggs into the pan.  Then sprinkle the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on top.  As the eggs begin to cook along the outer edge, lift up the cooked part so that the raw eggs can slide under.  Do this until the eggs are pretty cooked around the edges but still uncooked on top.  Slide the pan into the preheated oven and cook for about another 5 minutes or until eggs are no longer raw looking on top and the eggs are just set.  Frittata should be a little browned and puffy around the edges.  If you like your eggs more well done and browned on top, put your oven on broil, and cook for maybe one-two minutes at most, watching very carefully.  When you take the frittata out of the oven, it will continue to cook, so be careful not to overcook this.   

Loosen the edges of the frittata with a spatula, and then slide it onto a  10 inch round serving plate.  If you don’t have a big enough serving platter, then bring the frittata to the table in the saute pan, slice it, and serve it right out of the pan. 

Note:  You may use any combination of vegetables that that you like.  You might use sauteed mushrooms, zucchini, or spinach to name a few.  You may also substitute grated cheddar, swiss, or gruyere cheese for the Parmesan or Romano, but the fresh Parmesan or Romano gives the frittata a great tangy flavor without adding too many calories!