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.

nectarine, blueberry, and raspberry galette or crostada

I usually bake pies, but sometimes, I enjoy baking summer fruit galettes because they are quick to prepare, and because you are guaranteed a flaky, browned crust on the bottom, which is hard to achieve in a pie.  For this, I used nectarines, blueberries, and raspberries, because that’s what I had on hand.  I liked the color of all three fruits- dazzling! I also liked the pure taste of the fruit in the tart- a result of only a little sugar and a dash of cinnamon- and no nutmeg!! I’m publishing this recipe because my daughter told me this dessert was one of the most delicious desserts she’s ever eaten. It’s adapted from Simply Scratch – Rustic Peach and Blueberry Galette.

for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks frozen butter (I used salted), cut into smallish cubes
  • 1 extra large egg yolk mixed with 3 tablespoons whole milk- but I will use 3 1/2 tablespoons next time, as dough needs a bit more liquid                                         ** (reserve the white for egg wash) 

In bowl of food processor with metal blade, put flour, salt, and sugar.  Pulse 1 or 2 times. Put butter cubes on top.  Pulse until you can still see little pieces of butter.  Pour egg yolk and milk mixture into canadian pharmacy online feed tube and whirr until dough just comes together as a ball.  Sprinkle some flour on a marble slab or on a piece of waxed paper, and flatten (roll) pastry into a disk about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.  Wrap in plastic or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes, or if you’re short on time as I was, stick in freezer for 30 minutes.

for the fruit filling (you can adapt your fruits to your taste or what you have on hand):

  • 2 large nectarines (do not peel!)  (or 4-5 nectarines or peaches to 1 cup of blueberries and no raspberries)
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 heavy cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached flour 
  • NO NUTMEG!!! (I hate it!) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

In mixing bowl, slice the nectaries, put the blueberries, and the raspberries.  Sprinkle in the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour.  Gently mix with a rubber spatula.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take pastry out of fridge.  Roll out (either on waxed paper or on a marble surface) to a circular shape of about 14 inches. You should flip it a few times, sprinkling flour on rolling surface as needed.   Transfer carefully to a large sheet pan lined with parchment (I folded pastry in half to move it and then unfolded it onto my parchment lined sheet pan). Evenly put the fruit mixture evenly on pastry leaving a border of about 1 1/2 inches around the outer edge canadian pharmacy viagra with no fruit.  Then pleat that uncovered pastry up and over the fruit (You will have quite a large opening where the fruit is uncovered by pastry).  Make an egg wash of the reserved egg white with a teaspoon of water.  Brush it generously over the folded pastry.  Sprinkle the crust lightly with granulated sugar, and a little extra sugar over the fruit, too.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 min.  Once you see crust buy modafinil is starting to brown, reduce oven to 375 degrees, and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes till crust is perfectly browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Judy’s Blueberry French Toast Casserole/ Bread Pudding

For my new granddaughter’s baby naming party, I wanted to make one more spectacular hot brunch item. I’ve made my french toast bread pudding recipe a few times to rave reviews, but there’s something I don’t like about it, and that’s the syrup that’s on the bottom.  It’s too sweet for me, mostly. I found a recipe on Kitchen Treaty called Cinnamon Blueberry Overnight French Toast that I mixed with my own recipe. So I pretty much kept the custard part of my recipe, added a sprinkling of blueberries, and sprinkled the top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Most importantly, when I took the masterpiece out of the oven, I drizzled the entire top of it with pure maple syrup.  Oh my gosh, I can’t express how delicious this was.  Everyone who ate it loved it and commented on the absolute perfection of the dish.  My daughter called me to tell me that I need to make one entire casserole for her family because she did not get enough of it and because her husband got none.  This is an outstanding recipe, and what makes it even better is that you can prepare it a few hours ahead, or the night before, as I did, and bake it off the next day.

for the custard:

  • 1 challah (I use Zommick’s 15 oz. challah, which I buy at Stop and Shop
  • 8 extra jumbo eggs
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2  to 2 cups of blueberries (optional, but I used them)

for the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

essential ingredient for serving:

about 4-6 oz. pure maple syrup- medium grade

Directions:

1.  Cut the challah into slices about 1 inch thick.  Then cut the slices into pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches big.  Let them sit out to get a little stale.  If I don’t have the time for that, I put them on a cookie sheet and stick them in a 200 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes (I did this for baby naming party).

2.  Grease sides and bottom of large oval or rectangular 9 by 13 pan with butter.

3.  Place the pieces of challah in so they fit like a puzzle.  If you have to squeeze a few in, that’s fine, but use the entire challah.

4.  Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the challah pieces; you can push some of them down a little into some crevices.

5.  Whisk the eggs, light cream, sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla in a mixing bowl. Ladle the custard evenly over the bread.

6.  Refrigerate over night or for a few hours till you are ready to bake.

7.  Before you put into the oven, sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, using all of it.

8.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 min. until top is puffed (even the center) and a toothpick comes out clean.

9.  Take out of the oven, and immediately drizzle the maple syrup all over the  top of the casserole.

10.  Serve immediately!

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Baked Penne with Marinara, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Miniature Meatballs

I wanted to make a baked pasta dish and add my homemade meatballs, so I came up with this very easy recipe.  I was thrilled when my daughter told me how much she loved the dish.  I decided to omit ricotta cheese from the dish, and I was glad.  I thought it came out perfect without it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. penne or ziti, whole wheat or not

1 lb. or a little more of grated mozzarella (I used Whole Foods part skim)

about 1/2 cup grated parmesan

about 1 qt. marinara sauce (I used jarred)

about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme if you happen to have it

a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes, if you like the heat

for the meatballs:

1 lb. grass fed or organic ground beef, 85% fat

about 1/3 cup ketchup

1 large egg

abut 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or white ones

kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder

make the meatballs:

In a mixing bowl, gently mix the ground beef, ketchup, 1 egg, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and the bread crumbs.  I use my hands to mix gently.  Then form little meatballs- a little less than 1 inch in diameter.  Put about 2 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil in nonstick saute pan and heat.  Gently place meatballs in pan and brown only very lightly on all sides.  Pour marinara sauce in a saucepan, and gently place drained meatballs in sauce.  Add the thyme if using as well as red pepper flakes, and simmer covered over low flame about 10 or 15 min.  Turn heat off.

for the assembly:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water till al dente.  Drain in colander. In 9 by 13 rectangular or oval baking dish, spoon a little sauce in pan to coat bottom.  Put a nice layer of noodles to cover bottom of pan.  Spoon about 1/3 of sauce and meatballs over the noodles.  Sprinkle with parmesan and about 1/3 of grated mozzarella.  Put another 1/3 of noodles on top, 1/3 of sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and 1/3 of mozzarella.  Spread last 1/3 of noodles, the rest of the sauce and meatballs, parmesan, and rest of mozzarella.

Either put in fridge to bake later, or bake right away.  From the fridge, it will take about 1 hour at 375 degrees.  If you are baking it immediately, it might only take 30 minutes for it to get nice and bubbly.

Shirley’s Apple Pie

When I was growing up, we always had Thanksgiving at our house.  My Aunt Florence, Uncle Larry, and my cousins Karen, David, Debbie were always there.  It was wonderful.  Our yearly menu never changed and will be imprinted in my mind forever.  Here it is:  The hor d’oeuvres were as follows:  3 dozen Cohen’s little hot dogs, 3 dozen Cohen’s potato puffs, 1 dozen Cohen’s egg rolls, my mother’s homemade chopped liver served with party rye,  and  chilled Sacramento tomato juice.  For the main course we had:  brisket, turkey, my Grandma Hindes’s stuffing, cranberry jello mold, candied sweet potatoes, potatoes cooked around the turkey, salad, and French style string beans surrounding glazed carrots.  For dessert we had:  2 homemade apple pies served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip squares, coffee, and milk.  As a little girl, I adored watching my mother make all the food, and I was very involved with lots of the food preparation.  But I think my favorite part (besides eating all of her delicious food) was watching my mother make her delicious apple pies.  I really watched her every move as she rolled out the dough, placed the bottom crust in the pyrex pie plate, spooned the ample pie filling into the bottom crust, dotted the apples with margarine, and finally, lifted the top pie crust and beautifully placed it on top of the apples, masterfully crimping the pie dough to seal in the apple filling.  I think of all the cooking jobs my mother did for Thanksgiving, the pies always loomed over her as a daunting task.  But when those apple pies cooked and the delicious appley smell wafted through the house, and those gorgeous apple pies came out of the oven, she knew, and I knew that every bit of her effort was worthwhile!

for 1 double crust:  (In parentheses are quantities for a slightly large crust.)

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (1 1/3 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup  cold Crisco shortening (1 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons ice water (7 tablespoons)

Mix flour and salt in bowl of food processor or in large mixing bowl.  In processor, spoon shortening over flour mixture, and pulse till mixture is the size of small peas. Or if mixing by hand use a pastry blender.  Then add water and pulse only until dough comes together. If doing by hand, use a fork and blend water into dough  just until dough comes together.  Then dump dough out on floured board, and form into a large ball.  Divide into 2 disks, one slightly smaller than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When dough is sufficiently refrigerated, begin making your filling:

for the filling:

  • about 7-8 very large apples- Winesap, Rome, Granny Smith, Fuji, or a mixture of these or any other baking apples
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • heavy 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or Minute Maid lemon juice from concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine to dot the filling
  • egg wash:  1 egg yolk mixed with 1  teaspoon water

Peel and slice apples into large mixing bowl.  Add sugar, cinnamon, flour salt, and lemon juice.  Roll bottom crust (smaller disk) out to a large enough circle on waxed paper.  Transfer to pie plate.  Spoon filling in.  Dot top of filling with the margarine or butter.  Roll out top crust (larger disk).  Gently lay over filling.  If you are freezing the pie, wrap well in plastic wrap at this point, then with foil.  If you are baking, brush pie crust with egg wash, make a few slits in the pie to allow steam to escape, place pie on sheet pan, and bake at 425 degrees about 40-60 minutes till browned all over.

Note If pie is frozen, then bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and at 375 degrees for another 30 minutes till browned.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Note If you bake this in the morning, you may place it in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes before serving to warm it up.

Healthy And Delicious Roasted Haddock, Flounder, Halibut, Or Scrod

I made a simple fish dish for my son Danny and me this week.  I am experimenting with fish, and I am determined to cook fish at least 3 times a week to improve our diet.  I bought haddock fillets, which were unbelievably fresh, at my supermarket for only $5.99/lb.  I try to buy whatever is freshest and cheapest, normally.  Why not?  What is so great is that I can get this gourmet meal on the table in no time at all with such simple preparation.  I served the fish with fresh corn on the cob and a simple salad using prewashed fresh spinach and baby romaine, sliced strawberries, walnuts, and my own lemon vinaigrette. (You can find my recipe for this vinaigrette right on this web site.)  What an amazing light, healthy, and flavorful dinner!

for two people:

1 pound fish fillets (I buy whatever is on sale and absolutely fresh!)

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, butter, or margarine

2 tablespoons slivered raw almonds

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Lightly grease foil with oil. Place fish on foil.  Sprinkle  with salt and pepper, then liberally with lemon zest, then with thyme leaves, then with almonds, then dot with butter or margarine or drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 7-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  If you like, you can then place fish under the broiler for a minute or two at this point to just brown the almonds.  Be careful, if you do this, not to burn the fish or the nuts.  Serve with lemon wedges.

My Mother’s And My Outstanding Strawberry Shortcake

Of all the cakes I have ever eaten or baked in my life, this strawberry shortcake is the best! This recipe of my mother’s is indescribably delicious. It was a family tradition for my mother to bake this strawberry shortcake every year for our annual Father’s Day barbecue. Everyone waited for my mother to bring this masterpiece of a cake to the table. When I got married, I started to bake this cake. At my beautiful daughter Randi’s first birthday party, I actually baked three of these cakes because we had quite a crowd of people. Anyway, this cake is so beautiful and so delicious that it could win any first place prize at a country fair. The layers are light and airy and so delicious. The filling, which is just whipped cream and sugar with some fresh strawberries and crushed pineapple is dreamy. This strawberry shortcake takes some time, but if you go step by step, you will succeed at creating a dazzling dessert that people will applaud you for.

for the cake:

  • 1 cup cake flour (sift first, then measure)
  • 6 extra large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

for the filling and the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 pints heavy or whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 1 16 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its natural juice , drained very well

to make the cake: (You can make the layers in advance and freeze them!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I use 2 round 9 inch baking pans with removable bottoms. If you don’t have that type of pan, then place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of your 8 or 9 inch round pans. Do not grease the pans!

Separate the eggs. Set aside. Sift and measure the cake flour. Put it into a mixing bowl with the salt and baking powder, which you mix with a fork or whisk just to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt.

Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until they have thickened are are pale yellow-about 5 minutes. Add the cold water and vanilla; beat again until thick -about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar; beat again for another minute. Add the flour mixture on very low speed just until mixed in. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on highest speed just until they form soft peaks. Then add the other 1/2 cup suar and mix 30 seconds more until they just start to form stiff peaks. Gently, fold the meringue (the beaten egg whites with sugar) gently into the flour and egg yolk batter with a rubber spatula until you can’t see the whites anymore. Be patient while you do this; it takes about 5 minutes. Pour the batter into the two ungreased pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until cake springs back when you touch it, the cake has started to separate from the sides, and it is slightly browned on top.

Cool cakes on wire racks. When cool, take cakes out of pans by running a knife around the edges of each pan. If you are using pans with removable sides, then remove the sides and run a sharp non-serrated knife under the cake to separate it from the pan.

Let cool completely. Then slice each layer in half horizontally using a good serrated knife so that you have four layers. You may either wrap the layers well and freeze them to use in the future, or you can just wrap them well, and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the cake.

to assemble the cake:

Drain the pineapple very well by putting it in a sieve, and pressing the juice out of it with a spoon. Set drained pineapple aside. Then wash the strawberries. Place them on paper towels to let them dry. Cut the green tops off them. Reserve enough of the prettiest berries to place whole on top of the cake (about 1/2 quart or 1 pint). Then slice the remaining strawberries and set aside in a bowl. Place the whisk attachment or your beaters in the freezer along with the bowl you will be whipping the cream in and the spatula you will be using. Let those stay in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Put the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then take everything out of the freezer. Pour the cream into the bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sugar in with the cream. Put the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on the highest setting, and beat. After about 45 seconds, pour the remaining sugar in. Continue beating until the cream is whipped. It should not be liquidy or loose at all at this point.

Place one cake layer on a pedestal serving dish that is large enough to hold it. Spread some whipped cream on the layer, about 1/4 inch high. Then sprinkle about 1/3 of the sliced strawberries on the layer. Place the second layer on top of the fruit. Spread more whipped cream on the second layer. Evenly distribute all the crushed pineapple and some of the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Place the third layer on top of the fruit. Spread whipped cream on top of the cake. Evenly distribute the remaining sliced strawberries over the whipped cream. Place the final (fourth) layer on top of the fruit. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Then place the whole strawberries all over the top of the cake. The pointy side of the berries should be on top. Refrigerate until you serve the cake.

Note #1: If you find you don’t have enough whipped cream to frost the sides of the cake, leave the sides alone, and the cake will look beautiful that way as well.

Note #2: If you are baking the layers and freezing them to use at a later time, wrap them separately first in a good layer of plastic wrap, and then place each layer in a good ziploc plastic bag.

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake

If You Make This Old Fashioned Sour Cream Coffee Cake, You Will Be Delighted With The Outstanding Taste And Texture Of The Cake!

This was a cake my mother made at least two or three times every year. It was definitely one of my mother’s favorite cakes to bake and to eat. She got the recipe from Lorraine Klein who is my Aunt Sally’s sister-in-law. Lorraine is a wonderful lady, and through the years, I have always appreciated her good nature and sense of humor. I always look forward to having conversations with her every Mother’s Day at my Aunt Sally’s or my cousin Janie’s house. How lucky it is for me that I have been able to gather so many wonderful recipes from my mother and her contemporaries.

for the cake:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces (1/2 pint) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch tube pan well all over with butter or margarine.

for the filling: In a medium mixing bowl using a fork or spoon, mix the brown sugar, the cinnamon, and the chopped nuts by hand; set aside.

for the cake batter:

In a medium bowl, put the dry ingredients – the sifted flour, the salt, the baking powder; set aside.

Mix the sour cream with the baking soda by hand; set aside.

In large bowl of Kitchen Aid or electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium to high speed with the sugar till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately to butter, sugar, and eggs, and vanilla mixture beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the flour in 4ths and the sour cream in 3rds. This is the part of the mixing where you don’t want to over-mix. You are really just adding these ingredients on a very low speed just to blend. Scrape down the bowl one or two times during this process to get any batter off the sides of the bowl.

Spoon 1/2 of the batter evenly on the bottom of the prepared tube pan. Then distribute about 4/5 of the filling mixture evenly all over the surface of the batter. Then spoon the remaining 1/2 of the batter over the filling, and smooth over the filling with a rubber spatula to cover the filling. Sprinkle the remaining 1/5 of filling evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Note: When I make this cake, I usually cut the cake into thirds, but I keep one third out for the family. Then I freeze the other two thirds of the cake. When company comes over unexpectedly, I know I always have delicious homemade sour cream coffee cake in the freezer. It defrosts in no time, and then it can be sliced and served on a pretty cake plate.