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 and Fabulous Pizza

Benji and I are home today due to a blizzard, and it is truly glorious being stuck in the house with one of my kids and no chance of being able to go out to work or do errands.  So I’ve been cooking up a storm. I asked him if he wanted some homemade pizza since I know how much he loves pizza, and of course he gave a very enthusiastic thumbs up.  Now, the pizza is out of the oven, and he is loving it. He said it’s the perfect doughiness, cheesiness and sauciness. And of course, I’m always thrilled when Alexa Hente approves of my cooking!

for the pizza dough:

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups King Arthur Organic Bread Flour (to start with)

Pour ¾ cup warm water in the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix and let sit about 15 min. till foamy. Add 1 ¾ cup King Arthur Organic Bread Flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix on low for about 15 min. adding about ½ cup additional flour till dough is mostly together as a ball around the dough hook. Turn out onto floured parchment or counter and knead maybe 10 times. Turn under to roll into a nice ball. Lightly oil a large bowl and cover with saran wrap. Put in warm spot for about 1 ½ hours.

for the sauce:

  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I used Cento).
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 light teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Pour 2 tablespoons light olive oil into pot. Grate 2 large garlic cloves with microplane into the oil. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes into the oil as well. Saute over low flame for about 3 min. till garlic is softened, but not brown. Pour crushed tomatoes in. Simmer over low flame about 30 min with cover off till sauce reduces by about 1/3 to 1/2.

put it all together:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Turn out dough onto floured parchment and flatten. Cut into 2 pieces. Put one in fridge. Let other one rest (covered) for a few minutes or refrigerate covered till ready to use. Cover large baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle parchment with a little yellow cornmeal (I use Quaker yellow). On counter or another piece of parchment, roll out dough to about ¼ in. thick (rectangle or circle). Transfer to parchment on cookie sheet.

Spoon tomato sauce over dough almost to edges. Sprinkle with about 8 oz. whole milk (or part skim- which I used) mozzarella cheese – all the way to the edges. Put cookie sheet on lowest shelf of oven. Bake about 15 min. till cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Slice with pizza cutter.

easiest spinach pie

I’ve been making this spinach pie for years for my daughter and my grandkids.  During dinner tonight at my daughter’s house, my grandson Ezra said, “Safta, this is my favorite dinner!”  Noah chimed in his agreement.   They each had at least 4 or 5 pieces.  My daughter said, “This is the perfect comfort food.”  She commented that  it’s her favorite meal too.  She wasn’t too happy when I set aside a piece to bring home to my son Benji.  When I got home, Benji wasn’t too happy that I only brought one piece home for him.

  • 1 box Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets
  • 2 10 oz. boxes frozen organic chopped spinach, defrosted and drained and squeezed pretty dry
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about 8 oz. chunk feta
  • about 1/4 cup parmesan
  • about 1/2 tablespoon Litehouse dill
  • about 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • pinch salt

Place frozen puff pastry in refrigerator to defrost.

In mixing bowl, put mostly dry, drained spinach, eggs, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese.  Break apart the feta into smallish pieces and add to mixture.  Add the dill, pepper, and salt.  Mix gently with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are incorporated.

Grease aluminum pan that’s about 9 x 13 in. (sides are less than 1 inch deep).  Place pharmacy online parchment paper that’s a little longer and wider than the bottom of the pan, pressing it down into the corners.

Take 1 sheet of the puff pastry out of fridge and roll it out so that the size matches the bottom of your baking pan (about 9 by 13.  Sprinkle flour on the counter as necessary to roll out the pastry.  Transfer to parchment lined pan.  Spread entire filling evenly over pastry, almost to the edges of the pastry.  Then roll out second sheet of pastry.  Place it over the filling, and turn the edges of the pastry over the filling and crimp it with the bottom layer of pastry.  Then make an egg wash of 1 egg with buy modafinil 1 teaspoon of water, and brush it generously over top of pie.

I usually stick it in the canadian pharmacy freezer for about 30 min.  Then I cover it with foil and put back in freezer till I’m ready to bake it.

Bake about 45-50 min. at 400 degrees till puffy and brown.  Serve immediately.

the perfect summer dinner of fried fish (tilapia or flounder) with homemade tartar sauce, cole slaw, sliced Jersey tomatoes, and Jersey farm corn on the cob, french fries or baked stuffed potatoes!

This is one of my favorite summer dinners to eat and make.  When my parents were alive, I loved to make this for them (with french fries, too) because they loved it to the nth degree.  And what I loved was how much they loved the meal and how they commented with almost every bite about how delicious everything was.  My mother Shirley Fried’s comment would be, “How do you make everything so perfect, dolly?”  My daughter Randi loved the meal too, and she recently asked me to make it.  I invited her father in law and his wife, because I really have fun with them- they are great people- and because they like my food.  As my daughter says, “They are good customers.”

I bought the fish at Whole Foods and it was super fresh. The only other place I’ve bought fish that’s been this fresh has been at the Keyport Fishery.  The corn I bought at an amazing farmstand in Pennington, NJ called Kerr’s Kornstand. The corn is brought right in  from the field while you are there- and it is perfect corn- there is none fresher or sweeter!  I also buy modafinil got my tomatoes there, and they were sweet, dark red, and juicy.

for the fish (tilapia, flounder, or other mild white fish):

My recipe for the fish harkens from the recipe used at Klein’s Fish Market in Belmar, NJ.  I once asked them for their recipe, and they readily gave it to me, I think because they sell the coating mix right there in the market. For the coating they use 1 part McCormick Golden Dipt Tempura Seafood Batter Mix  to 2 parts McCormick Golden Dipt Fry Easy All-Purpose Breading Mix. What a breeze to make.  Simply put the mix into a 9 by 13 baking pan and whisk together to get any lumps out.  Put some cold water in a separate mixing bowl.  Dip each fillet into the water on both sides of the fillet, then dredge the fillet through the coating mix on each side of pharmacy online the fillet, using your hand to sprinkle some extra coating over the fish to cover the fillet completely.  Then heat your oil (about 1/2 inch deep)  on a high flame in a nonstick frying pan till it’s really hot.  Fry about 2-3 minutes till underside is beautifully browned.  Flip with spatula and cook till underside is browned.  No need to drain- the fish doesn’t pick up excess oil if it’s hot enough to start.

For each pound of fresh fish fillets, use about 1 cup of the all purpose breading mix and 1/2 cup of the tempura mix.

Use canola or light olive oil  in a large non-stick fry pan, and get the oil nice and hot before putting the fish in.  Fry till underside is brown, flip and brown the other side. This should take about 5 min. altogether.  Serve immediately with tartar sauce and/or cocktail sauce and lots of fresh sliced lemon.

judy’s homemade tartar sauce:

  • 1 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or Minute Maid frozen lemon juice from concentrate 
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated onion
  • a few tablespoons of chopped dill pickle (I use Claussen dill sandwich slices)
  • a dash of kosher salt 

After you taste, adjust by adding a little more lemon juice or chopped pickle to your liking.

my simple cole slaw:

  • 2 bags dole cabbage for cole slaw
  • about 1 cup of Hellman’s mayo
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk (you could substitute plain Greek yogurt or sour cream)
  • about 4-5 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • about 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • about 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 tablespoon of the BEST herbs- Litehouse dill 

Mix together in large mixing bowl at least a few hours before serving.  Add more or less of any of the ingredients to your taste.

fresh corn on the cob:

Cover shucked corn in a large pot with water.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer on low boil for 8 minutes.  Serve.

french fries (Be careful with this recipe- although it’s easy, only experienced cooks should make this!)

Heat a large pot of oil (corn or canola) till oil starts to shimmer, but is NOT yet boiling. You don’t want your oil to come to a boil before you put the fries in, because the oil could catch on fire!  Carefully place your fries in and stand back a bit so you don’t get burned if oil splatters a little- I use either Whole Foods Crinkle Cut Fries or Nathans Crinkle canadian pharmacy Cut Fries.  Leave the fries alone, do not mix them in the oil.  Fry on a rolling boil till fries are browned- the time may range from 15 min. to 25 min.  Drain in paper towels, sprinkle with kosher salt, and serve.

baked stuffed potatoes:

  • Idaho organic potatoes
  • salted or unsalted butter
  • paprika 

Pierce potatoes with a fork.  Bake at about 375 degrees to 400 degrees for at least 1 hour till a fork goes in easily and potatoes are soft inside. Slice the tippy top of potatoes off.  Scoop out the potato being careful not to break the skin and put in mixing bowl.  Add butter to taste, salt to taste, and a little pepper to taste.  Mash potatoes.  Scoop the mashed potatoes back into the potato shells.  Sprinkle tops with paprika.

Note:  I usually make these in advance, so I refrigerate them, covered, and then I heat them up in a baking pan or sheet pan at 375 degrees for about 45 min. to an hour, till piping hot.

Back to Basics Macaroni and Cheese

When my children were little, I found a recipe for macaroni and cheese on the back of the Creamettes box.  This was the recipe I made for years and years.  I recently made it again instead of the recipe I’ve made for the last 10 years (Judy’s Creamy and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese), and I discovered that I may like it more because it seems a little less rich.  It’s basically the same as my current recipe except that it has much less cheese.

  • 2 cups elbows (I like Creamettes) (about 1/2 of 1 lb. box)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 10 oz. Land o’Lakes yellow American cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk 

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour, salt, and pepper.  Whisk over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add milk gradually.  Whisk over medium heat for about 10 minutes till starts to thicken a little, but not too much.  Add in the cheese.

Cook pasta in boiling water till just cooked- not overcooked.  Drain in colander.  Butter a casserole dish.  Pour sauce into casserole.  Pour the macaroni noodles in and mix together till noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.

Cook at 375 degrees for about an hour till the cheese starts to rise to top and brown and the edges start to get brown and crusty looking.

Homemade Applesauce

This is a great recipe for homemade applesauce.  You will think you’re eating baked apples with cinnamon.   I made this for my son and his friends, and they couldn’t get over how much better it was than eating store-bought applesauce.

  • 1 teaspoon good cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (I use Minute Maid lemon juice from concentrate if I don’t have fresh lemons)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (or Cortland, Honeycrisp, Winesap) (Reserve some of the apple peels)
  • 3  large McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (or any of the above varieties)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place cut up apples in dutch oven or pyrex baking pan.  Sprinkle apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and water.  Add the reserved pieces of apple peel. Mix gently.  Bake for about 45 min.  Mix once or twice during the cooking.  After the 45 minutes, cook a little longer if aren’t soft enough.  When apples are soft enough, take a potato masher just to mash the bigger pieces a little.  There should be a little texture to this apple sauce.  If you wish, you can take out any pieces of apple peel, but they may have pretty much dissolved.  Refrigerate or serve warm.

Amazing, Incredible Irish Soda Bread

This is the most perfect Irish soda bread imaginable.  My son Danny’s friends couldn’t get over how great it was.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour (I use organic unbleached flour, preferably King Arthur or Whole Foods brand)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, from the fridge is fine
2 eggs (1 extra large for the bread;  the other can be any size egg to be mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, half and half, or light cream for brushing on top of the bread before baking)
3/4 cup buttermilk (I usually use Friendship, which is 1.5%)
1/3 cup raisins (I try to use the most amazing raisins, which I get at Whole Foods (they are Sunview Organically Grown Black Seedless)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking powder, baking  soda, and salt. Cut butter with a knife into cubes, and add to bowl.  Cut in butter with pastry blender until crumbly.  Then take the raisins (if you are using the ones mentioned above, you’ll want to chop them up just a bit because they are larger than normal raisins) and add them to the flour mixture. In a small bowl, combine the one extra large egg with buttermilk and then pour into flour and butter mixture.  Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until moistened.  Take a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle a little flour on it.  Dump your dough onto the paper, and sprinkle just about 1 teaspoon of flour on top of it.  Gently knead 1 or 2 times.   Knead on a well-floured surface with just 2 or three motions.  You don’t want to overwork the dough.  Grease a cookie sheet with butter, and take the dough onto the cookie sheet, and shape it into a round loaf about 10 inches in diameter.  With a knife, make a X indentation in the loaf.  Mix the Shape dough into a round loag; place on a greased baking sheet. Cut a 1/4″-deep cross in the top of the loaf. Brush egg wash over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  You will know the loaf is done when you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.

Serve right out of oven with butter.  Or eat later and heat up in microwave or in toaster.

Apple, Strawberry, Lettuce, Peppers, Red Onion, Cucumber Salad

This is a light, fresh, citrusy salad that’s great in any season.

  • a combination of romaine, green leaf, and baby spinach
  • peeled cucumber , cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
  • about 2 slices of red onion, cut into small pieces
  • about 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 5-7 sliced strawberries
  • 1 apple cut into bite sized pieces
  • a handful of broken by hand Whole Foods Sea Salt Pita Chips

citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced  (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Easy Mac and Cheese

I had read a recipe in the NY Times for a Crusty Macaroni and Cheese.  I was having some company, and I decided to give it a try.  It’s very simple to make as you don’t make a white sauce or a roux.

The consensus was that it was very good, but not quite as creamy as my regular recipe.  But I liked it a lot, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Adapted from the New York Times Jan. 4, 2006

(The quantities are slightly changed from original recipe)

 

Recipe: Crusty Macaroni and Cheese

3 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)

12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (I used an extra 3 oz. for the top)

16 ounces American cheese coarsely grated (mine was just sliced thin from the deli, and then broken into smallish pieces)

1 pound elbow pasta, boiled in salted water until just tender, drained, and rinsed under cold water
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional) (I used 1 teaspoon black pepper instead)
Salt (I used 2 light teaspoons of kosher salt)
2/3 cup whole milk

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Combine grated cheeses and set aside three heaping cups for topping.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked pasta, cheeses, pepper, and salt to taste. Place in prepared pan and evenly pour milk over surface. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top, dot with remaining butter and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Raise heat to 400 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until crusty on top and bottom.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

Greek Pasta Salad

I took my homemade dressing which has a Greek vinaigrette taste, and I added some pasta, and some veggies to create a pasta salad that tastes similar to a Greek salad.

It’s a little heartier than just a salad, and it makes a great leftover lunch.

For the dressing:

  • juice from 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil (I use a combination of light and extra virgin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes (in oil) minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

In a mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper, the red pepper flakes, the optional sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon zest, and the garlic. Then add the oil slowly as you continue to whisk. You can make this earlier in the day, and put it in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then when you are ready to use it, give it a few good shakes, and pour it over the salad right before you serve the salad.

for the pasta salad:

12 oz. rotelle or penne

1 1/2 greenhouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

about 12 kalamata pitted olives, cut in half

a few slices of red onion, diced

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

about 1 lb. of good feta, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

Cook the pasta till al dente.  Run under cool water.  Place in large serving bowl, and add all the veggies.  Then pour vinaigrette over salad and mix.  Put in fridge until ready to serve.