Homemade Tomato Sauce

The inspiration: A need for a delicious, minimally processed tomato sauce full of good flavor.

I love making things for myself -I like the concept of being able to control what goes into what my family and I eat. Processed foods have a time and place, but with all the additives they contain, I prefer to use them as little as possible. So I am always pushing myself to make more at home, and one thing we love is tomato sauce. We have meals that feature tomato sauce at least twice a week – grilled fish and brown rice with tomato sauce mixed in, or pasta with beef or chicken and tomato sauce are two examples that come easily to mind. The point is, for something I feed my family so often, I want to make it as healthy and flavorful as I can.

The innovation: Not adding sugar to the sauce, and not peeling the tomatoes first.

When I first started researching tomato sauce recipes, I got really discouraged – the recipe always calls for sugar, and to peel the tomatoes, or blanch then peel the tomatoes. I didn’t want to do either.  I didn’t want to add sugar because I wanted to make something completely healthy and as minimally processed as possible. I didn’t want to have to spend the extra time working on the tomatoes, either. This recipe is a chunky but not especially thick – if you are looking for a tomato sauce recipe like you see in a magazine or on TV, this isn’t it. It’s chunky with real tomato and fresh vegetables and herbs, and the small amount of sweetness comes from cooking down the onions and garlic. Using the best quality tomatoes will improve the sweetness as well.

My re- interpretation: Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

4 lg cloves garlic chopped

6 stalks celery rough chopped

1 lg Spanish onion rough chopped

6 fresh sage leaves rough minced

1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves rough minced

8 fresh basil leaves rough minced

Olive oil for sauteing

5 lb ripe Roma tomatoes (look for ones that are bright red and only the slightest bit soft or not soft at all) cut into quarters

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (look for a can that says Imported from Italy)

2 packages crimini mushrooms cut into halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 of 750ml bottle of dry red wine ( I prefer Burgundy)

 

1) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a 10Qt or larger stock pot. Add garlic and onion, cook on high heat til they have a golden brown color.

2) Lower heat, then add celery, fresh herbs and mushrooms with the red wine, cover with lid and leave sweat for at least 30 mins, or until vegetables look more tender.

3) Add fresh and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper ( use a little now, adjust later as needed) and let cook covered at a low simmer for at least 1 and a half hours. The vegetables should be tender, and there should be a significant amount of liquid in the pot.

4)At this point, take a immersion or hand blender and blend everything into the pot together very well, til mixture is chunky. Cook a bit longer, about 30-40 mins, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely before storing away. This will make a large quantity of sauce – I filled 4 2lb deli containers.

Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

The inspiration: A blizzard, and having my whole family home for breakfast

Most of the day yesterday and into much of the day there was a large snowstorm ( they call it Juno. Why I am not sure). But in any case, we got a good foot or so of snow, and my husband had off work and my kids had off school. When the family is all together for breakfast, I treat us all to homemade pancakes. I find it too difficult trying to get three kids and a husband out the door every morning to cook a hot breakfast, and this is the only one everyone agrees on.

The innovation: Making a family favorite healthier using Michael Ruhlman’s Ratios

There was one problem with me just getting into the kitchen and whipping up a batch of homemade pancakes, though. I was now on a primarily gluten-free, lower fat, lower sugar, lower processed/refined product diet. So how was I going to make pancakes for everyone and not be tempted to have one myself?  I decided to make them gluten free, and to keep the percentages exact, I turned to my culinary bible, Ratios. I primarily use this when I am baking, so I don’t end up with a disaster on my hands. I have a gluten free flour blend that is a 1:1 exchange for wheat flour. I doubled the recipe, used Earth Balance for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and gluten free flour for all-purpose, but the percentages are his- and once again they gave me a beautiful end result.

The reinterpretation: Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Ingredients:

2 C unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk

4 large eggs

1 stick Earth Balance (4 oz)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 C  gluten free flour (make sure it is a 1:1 for wheat flour)

6 Tblsp turbinado sugar

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Pam or other oil cooking spray

Mini chocolate chips (optional – I used Enjoy Life’s Mini Chips)

 

To prepare:

1) Melt the Earth Balance and set aside

2) Combine the wet ingredients- almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.

3) Combine the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you find there are lumps in the baking powder or flour, sift them out.

4) Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and add the melted Earth Balance. Whisk together to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

5) Ladle mixture into desired size pancakes into a frying pan sprayed with Pam. Add chocolate chips and cook til bubbles start to appear, then flip over. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more.

 

 

 

 

Roasted Mixed Nut Flour

The inspiration: 5 containers of freezer burnt nuts

I always meant to use them, but I never got around to it. I had bought several containers of nuts after they were on sale, and stashed them in the freezer so they wouldn’t get rancid. So a few months later as I am re-organizing my freezer, I find them all the way in the back, and very much freezer burnt. It made me really sad- my carelessness led to food and money being wasted. I wanted to find a way to solve this, but wasn’t sure how.

The innovation: Roasting them to remove the stale freezer taste

My first thought was to roast the nuts to try to restore the flavor.  After a quick Facebook chat with a good friend (thanks, Simone!) I figured this would be the best course of action. I also figured that even after roasting the flavor would still be pretty tame, and wanted to help it out a little. Salt and sugar work wonders – add a bit of salt to chocolate, or a bit of sugar to tomato sauce and you will see exactly what I mean. The logic was that an equal measure of both would restore a bit more of the lost flavor. Since going mostly gluten free, GF flours and flour mixes are expensive, so I figured a way to use the nuts would be to grind them into flour. This way, it would never be the star of the show, so to speak, and I could add as I needed as I went depending on what I was making.

My reinterpretation: Roasted Mixed Nut Flour

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Ingredients:

2. 5 to 3 lbs of raw nuts ( I used a mix of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans, but you can use a single kind)

2 handfuls of salt

2 handfuls of organic turbinado sugar

 

 To prepare:

1) Lay the nuts out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. I needed two full size sheet pans

2) Sprinkle the salt and sugar lightly over the nuts

3) Roast in the oven at 350F for about 15 -20 minutes. The nuts will be lightly brown and smell roasted but not burnt.

4) Let nuts cool completely before grinding.

5) Grind nuts in the food processor using the shredder blade at a medium setting, making sure to include the salt and sugar.

6) When all the nuts are ground, sift through with your fingers to remove any clumps. Store in airtight container or Ziploc in the fridge. Use sooner rather than later.

 

Gluten Free Pasta with Peppers and Capers

The inspiration: A need for a quick meal and to clean out my fridge

Sunday afternoons find me with a need to make a quick meal to feed my family. We’ll have Shabbat leftovers for dinner, but lunch is always about using up what is in the house. Since starting FODMAP, the definition of a ‘quick’ meal has changed. Even so, I didn’t have 30 minutes or an hour to make something. So what to make that would be hot, filling, taste good, and FODMAP friendly?

The Innovation: Using a corn/rice blend pasta instead of completely rice pasta

I’ve tried making rice pasta – it was a mushy overcooked disaster. But at the same time I bought the rice pasta, I also bought a bag of corn/rice blend GF pasta as well. If I’ve never seen it before, I always want to try it. It cooks quickly, too – about the same time and way you’d cook regular pasta. While the pasta cooked, I could saute some peppers I had in the fridge, and add something for a hit of acid. Capers are lovely for that – cooking them a little reduces the astringency a good bit, leaving a lovely almost citrus flavor in its place.  When my two younger kids demanded second helpings, I knew I had a winner.

My Re-Interpretation: Gluten Free Pasta with Peppers and Capers

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Ingredients:

2 large red bell peppers, sliced into strips

1  8 oz bag of GF corn/rice pasta (I used Landau’s)

2 heaping tablespoons of large capers

Olive oil for sauteeing peppers, plus a tiny bit extra

Juice of half a lemon

Juice from the capers to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste.

Dried parsley to taste

To Prepare:

1) Liberally salt the water for the pasta, when it reaches a boil add the pasta and stir frequently as it cooks to prevent clumps. Boil for about 7 -10 mins, testing at the 7 minute mark for doneness. When the pasta is al dente, remove from fire, drain from water and rinse lightly.

2) While you cook the pasta, add a bit of olive oil to your saute pan. When it is hot, add the peppers and parsley.

3) Saute the peppers at medium high heat for about 5 mins, or til the peppers start to soften and change color.

4) Add the capers, and cook for another 2-3 mins or until peppers are soft but not mushy.

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5) Add pepper-caper mixture to the cooled but still warm pasta. Mix in the caper juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

 

December Kosher Connection LinkUp: Cookies for Chanukah: GF Chocolate Covered Cookies

The Inspiration: Chanukah, a Kosher Connection Linkup, and Eating More Mindfully

In our house, it is not Chanukah unless Mommy (that’s me!) makes cookies. I rarely bake, so when I do it is a treat my whole family enjoys.  In the past few months, I have started to eat healthier and I knew my normal cookie recipe wasn’t going to work on my new diet. I also wasn’t about to make cookies for my family and not get to have any. I follow the FODMAP diet (http://www.aboutibs.org/site/treatment/low-fodmap-diet/) and everything I use in a normal cookie recipe (margarine, white sugar, all-purpose flour) was all no good for me now. So here was my question: could I make a cookie my whole family would enjoy, even me?

 

The Innovation: Following the basic cookie ratio from  Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio, using Gluten Free 1:1 Flour, Turbinado Sugar, and Earth Balance to make the cookies, then covering them in chocolate.

Frankly, I wasn’t even certain if this recipe would come together at all. I followed the ratio for a basic cookie ( the 1-2-3: 1 part fat, 2 parts sugar, 3 parts flour) and the dough simply wouldn’t come together enough to hold a cookie shape. In the end, however, with a bit of tweaking I was able to make a delicious cookie following the ratio, but by adding an additional ingredient to help the flour bind together. The cookie is a dry, slightly crunchy cookie with a mild flavor that would pair well with anything. The chocolate on the outside takes it to another level. I used Equal Exchange Organic Free Trade Chocolate that had bits of roasted espresso beans inside, but feel free to substitute with your preference.

My Interpretation: Chocolate Covered Blood Orange Cookies

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 Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Gluten Free, 1:1  flour

2 sticks Earth Balance (slightly softened)

1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon blood orange zest

4 extra large eggs

12 oz best quality chocolate, melted over a double boiler.

Yield: approx. 3 dzn cookies, depending on size

To prepare:

1) Pre heat oven to 350F. Cream the Earth Balance with the sugar using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer.  Combine til you cannot see the sugar inside the Earth Balance anymore, about 5 minutes.

2) Add all your ingredients except the eggs. Mix together on low speed for 5-7 minutes, scraping down about 3 times in between. When the Earth balance/sugar is combined completely with the flour and other ingredients, add the eggs.

3) Mix together til a thick batter forms, and eggs are completely mixed into the batter, another 2-3 more. Make sure to scrape the bowl down to ensure everything is mixed together.

4) Form small balls between your palms, then press them almost completely flat. Place them on a parchment lined sheet tray and bake for about 15 mins. The cookies are done when the entire top looks completely dry and develops small cracks. Cool completely.

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5) Using an off-set spatula, dip each cookie quickly into the melted chocolate and place on parchment covered tray. Refrigerate to set the chocolate onto the cookie.


Salmon Salad with Donut Peaches and Pistachios

The inspiration: a long Shabbat afternoon spent with a friend

Shabbat afternoon is the time I use to catch up with my neighbors (who also happen to be good friends of mine).  I live in an apartment building in Brooklyn that is home to about 30 families, and we are all like one big extended family. So many a late Shabbat afternoon (about 2 hours before nightfall on Saturday afternoon) you will find my kids and I visiting a neighbor and sharing a light meal with them.  One of the foods we enjoy at that time besides challah is salad – something light to offset the heavy Shabbat lunch from several hours earlier. I will usually go to visit a friend with fresh produce or some sort of fish and between the two of us we make a couple of salads.

The innovation: pairing a fish with a stone fruit

Salads are fun – you can add so many different combinations. So one Shabbat afternoon I showed up to my friend’s house with donut peaches, leftover baked salmon, and roasted pistachios. It had been a last minute invite, and I was basically making it up as I went. This salad was originally made that Shabbat afternoon with iceberg lettuce, but the flavor of the peaches with the salmon and pistachios stuck with me. Donut peaches are not as sweet as regular peaches – they remind me of more of white peaches – and I find they work really well with salmon.

My interpretation:  Salmon Salad with Donut Peaches and Pistachios

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Ingredients

8 oz fresh, boneless/skinless salmon fillet, baked or grilled

10 to 12 oz spring greens or mesclun mix (you want a mixture that has both sweet and  bitter greens)

3 donut peaches, pitted and sliced

large handful of roasted pistachios, crushed

a scant drizzle of best quality light olive oil

a two-finger pinch of sea salt (if desired)

1) Make sure the salmon is completely chilled if you are preparing it fresh. I have used leftover salmon as well – warm fish will wilt your greens.

2) Carefully flake the salmon, and mix the fish, peaches, and olive oil into the greens with your hands delicately.

3) Taste and add sea salt now if desired. If not, top with pistachios.

 

Recipe for a simple baked salmon

In an aluminum tray or pan,  place your salmon skin side down. Add a sprinkle of salt and squeeze half of a fresh lemon over the fish. Cover tightly, bake at 350 for about 15mins. Fish is done when glistening and completely cooked through.

 

Nicoise Salad with Potatoes – May Kosher Connection Challenge

Shavuot is about two weeks away, and I am already planning my menu. Especially for the last meal, on the second day of the holiday. In our Hasidic group the men and boys gather in the synagogues to observe the passing of a previous Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) on that day. They are away from early morning til very late in the afternoon, and even eat the festive holiday meal in the synagogue. These yahrzeit seudot (meals to commemorate the passing of a holy person) take place twice a year – once on Shavuot and once during Sukkot. We women take these times to eat with friends – groups of women co-ordinate and get together and eat in each other’s homes. Just as the men and boys bond together in the synagogues, the women and girls bond together over a delicious Yom Tov meal. It is also a chance to relax the menu a bit – it is our custom to eat meat at every Yom Tov meal except these. nicoise This is a more modern interpretation of a Nicoise salad – it features seared tuna, as well as green beans and baby red bliss potatoes. Instead of a vinagrette, it is merely dressed with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.  This is a recipe for one large, main course salad, and is easy to multiply for larger amounts.

Ingredients:

1 tuna steak,about 6 oz

4 baby red potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

4 black olives (with pits)

1 Romaine heart (I use Andy Boy), torn into bite size pieces by hand

1 hard boiled egg

8-10 fresh green beans, ends trimmed

Juice from one fresh lemon

3 oz extra virgin olive oil

Table salt for salting water

Sea salt for seasoning

Olive oil spray for grilling

To Prepare: Fill a large pot at least halfway with water, and add table salt to the water, enough so there is the finest layer on the bottom of the pot Add your egg and when the water is at a full boil, add your green beans and potatoes set a timer for 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove egg with slotted spoon and set into a bowl of cold water to cool.  Boil for a few minutes more, testing once midway. The beans are done when still crispy and green but not hard. Use a slotted spoon to remove green beans and set aside. Boil for another 10 mins or so, then check potatoes by gently poking with a fork – if they are soft but not mushy, they are done. Drain and remove, setting aside with the green beans. Put a grill pan on the stove, and get it very hot. Spray the pan lightly with olive oil spray. Place the tuna steak into the pan for 2- 3 mins, depending on thickness. Flip once, cook another 2 mins on the other side, then remove from pan, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and set aside. Roll the lemon on a cutting board or counter and cut in half, squeezing into a bowl and removing the seeds. Add the olive oil a tiny pinch of sea salt. Mix well. When all ingredients are cool but not cold, take everything except the tuna, egg, and olives and combine. Garnish with the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.

Death by Chocolate: A Duo of Chocolate Bark

Many, many thanks to all my lovely readers, who have been so patient with me as I have gone on this journey. All photo credit goes to Melinda Strauss of Kitchen Tested

The Inspiration: The start of my artisanal chocolate business,  and a trip to a good friend’s house.

Recently, with a lot of excitement, I have launched Sweet Life Chocolate. I had my first event with Chef Ari White (of Gemstome Catering and Hakadosh BBQ fame). Chef Ari was generous enough to allow me to make chocolate for a recent event he had in Riverdale, and things are slowly taking off from there.  In a few weeks, I will be on a local radio show program (Table for Two with Naomi Nachman on the Nachum Segal show). I also will be submitting a recipe for a future edition of JCreate Magazine, an online cooking/crafting publication (jcreatemagazine.com). There has even been some talk of someone possibly funding my work, but that is still just in the talking stage.

So it was with a serious need for a bit of downtime and a chance to unwind (if I sold some chocolate it would have been alright too, but I knew I was going spend time relaxing) that I found myself at Melinda Strauss’ house last Saturday night. Melinda is the blogger over at Kitchen Tested  and I fondly refer to her as my partner in crime. We speak via Facebook chat at least five times a week, and we share ideas and flavor profiles as other friends may share fashion tips or where to get the latest accessory.  Our idea of unwinding: cooking something interesting.

Chocolate bark is a simple enough recipe: perfectly temper chocolate, lay it on parchment, add some ingredients, let set til hard, break into pieces. It’s a blank canvas, if you will, and we were determined to come up with something truly delicious. It was a collaborative, conceptual effort we knew would work,  it was a matter of getting it done.

The Innovation:  Using ingredients and spices that one would not normally associate with chocolate.

In a lot of ways, Melinda and I are complete opposites. Melinda is trendy,not afraid to speak her mind, loves bright prints and big, bold flavors, and loves to measure her ingredients. Myself, I play more towards classics, love more subtle self-expression and flavor, and cannot stand to measure unless I must.

The one thing we have in common, and what makes us a great team: a love and respect for flavor and innovation. She pushes the culinary envelope much farther than I do, and she inspires me greatly. We compliment each other, and it shows in this recipe.  She brought maple syrup lamb bacon to the table, I added the pecan touch. After exploring (and tasting) raw spices with raw coconut from her spice cabinet, I decided on toasting dried coconut with vindaloo curry powder. She felt it need a bit of something, so in went the  crystallized ginger.

The Interpretation: Chocolate Bark Two Ways: Maple Syrup Lamb Bacon with Hot Hungarian Paprika Pecans & Vindaloo Curried Toasted Coconut with Crystallized Ginger

Bark broken up

Chocolate Bark:

21 oz of best quality semi-sweet baking chocolate ( I used Alprose)

9×13 sheet pan lined with parchment

In a double boiler, break up and melt completely 14 oz of the chocolate til shiny and smooth, stirring occasionally with a rubber or silicone spatula.  Lower fire to lowest setting and add the remaining chocolate, stirring until chocolate is completely melted, then remove from heat. When lifitng the bowl or insert, make sure to wipe the bottom before pouring the chocolate so it doesn’t seize it. Pour onto the prepared parchment lined sheet, leave set for about 10 mins, then top with one of the following recipes.

Maple Lamb Bacon with Hot Hungarian Pecans

6 oz chopped lamb bacon (you could use up to 8-10 oz with good effect)

2-3 oz best grade maple syrup

2 oz chopped pecans

3 generous dashes of hot Hungarian paprika

Lay the lamb bacon in a single layer on a sheet pan, cook at 400 for 10-15 mins. Drain grease and add maple syrup, stirring carefully. Return to oven for 5 mins more, then set aside to cool.

In a saute pan, add pecans and hot Hungarian paprika, cook on high for about 3 mins or til you start to smell the pecans toasting. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.

Bark sprinkling bacon

When both bacon and pecans are cool, and chocolate is partially set, add to the top of the chocolate, then refrigerate to set completely. 

Toasted Coconut with Vindaloo Curry Powder and Crystallized Ginger

3-4 oz of shredded, dried coconut

4 generous shakes from a spice container of Vindaloo curry powder

8-10 small pieces crystallized ginger, minced fine.

Add the coconut and curry powder into a saute pan, stir constantly til coconut starts to brown, about 5-7 mins on mid-high heat. Remove from fire and let cool. Add the ginger to the chocolate first, then the coconut.

Bark sprinkling coconut

To serve, break the chocolate with a knife or your hands – the pieces don’t have to be uniform. For best result, store in fridge and bring to room temperature to enjoy.

Cranberry-Almond Bread Pudding

The Inspiration: A loaf of leftover challah from Shabbat, and a freezing cold day.

I live in a co-op building, and one day this past week they shut off the heat for an entire day to repair the boiler. It was raining, cold, and altogether dreary. I was desperate to bake something to warm my house, but couldn’t decide what.  I found a whole challah leftover from Shabbat, and nothing warms up a house faster than bread pudding. It’s easy to make, bakes pretty quickly, and is delicious right out of the oven.

The Innovation: Using oil instead of margarine to brown the bread.

I hear so much about how margarine is not good for you. Even if it is trans-fat free, there are much healthier alternatives. I wanted to see if I used oil if I would get the same result I do with margarine. I love bread pudding with a gorgeous, toasty crust and a soft center. Finding a bit of cottonseed oil in my cabinet, I got to work.

My interpretation: Cranberry-Almond Bread Pudding:

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I was very pleased with the result – a delicious bread pudding with a crispy, nutty top that is not too sweet, a soft, light center, and none of the greasy mouth-feel that margarine can sometimes leave behind.

Recipe:

6 cups of challah, cut into large cubes (I used water challah, but you can also use egg challah, but leave it to dry first)

1/3 C cottonseed or other light-tasting oil suitable for baking

2 C vanilla flavored almond milk

1 and 1/2 C sugar, plus a 1/4 C for sprinkling

2 capfuls of best quality vanilla extract 

Generous pinch of salt

9 meduim eggs

5 oz dried cranberries

3 oz slivered almonds

Heat a large pot, adding the challah then the oil. Stir repeatedly, to ensure all the bread is well-coated, and lower flame so it will gently toast. Take care not to over-brown; stir til bread is a light golden brown, then turn off flame. Do not remove pot from burner.

Prepare the rest of your ingredients except the slivered almonds in a separate container, whisk well to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the challah, fold gently to combine well and pour into a oven-safe casserole dish or oven-to-tableware.

Sprinkle the slivered almonds and the sugar on top. Bake in oven at 350F for about 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out hot and clean. Leave sit in oven til mostly cooled for best result.

 

 

The Best Chanukah Present: Oreillettes

Chanukah came and went so fast this year! This past Sunday, I hosted my family for a dinner party at my home, and I got a chance to use a recipe that was given to me. I treasure this recipe – it is from a very lovely lady named Simone, and it is her own personal recipe.  Just like any good, heirloom recipe, the measurements were not exact, so I had to tinker a little to get it to where it needed to be.

Oreillettes means ‘little pillows’ in French (I have also seen it translated as ‘ little pig ears’, but little pillows sounds so much nicer, I think!). I originally saw a recipe for this dessert in Richard Olney’s ‘Provence the Beautiful’ cookbook and really wanted to make it. Since I had an unpleasant experience making a dessert from there previously, I went to someone I knew who was expert in French cuisine for their recipe.

The dough is silky smooth, and a dream to roll and cut. When placed into hot oil, they puff up almost immediately. Dusted with sugar, this Provencal treat is considered by many as the ‘sweet lover’s potato chip’.  I can see why – they are so light and airy, you could eat handfuls at one time, just like potato chips!

This recipe as is makes several dozen – halve the recipe if you are only making for yourself or a few people!

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Oreillettes

9 C flour

1 1/4 C almond milk  (can also use regular milk)

3 stick margarine, melted (can also use butter)

5 eggs

2 pinches salt

Zest from 2 oranges 

3 tsp rum

confectioner’s or icing sugar for coating ( I used regular sugar because that is what I had)

36 oz of cottonseed or peanut oil for frying

 

In a large bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center. Add half of the melted margarine, and work the flour in slowly, bringing from the outside in, going around the bowl. When all incorporated, add the eggs and knead together. To the remainder of the melted margarine, add the salt, rum, almond milk, and zest, mix lightly. Transfer dough to mixer with hook attachment. On low speed add the rest of the melted margarine. Mix on low speed til dough is extremely soft and silky to the touch.  Leave dough rest in a covered bowl in warm place for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, take dough and cut in half, working with one piece at a time, keeping the other piece in a covered bowl.  At this point heat oil in heavy pot or pan.  Roll the dough as thinly as possibly, and cut into strips, then on a diagonal to make diamonds.

When oil is hot add 8-10 little pieces at a time. Test with a tiny piece of dough first- if it sinks and stays at the bottom it is not hot enough. If it sinks and pops up right away, it is ready for frying. Fry for about 2 mins, til you see holes form on the pieces. Remove with slotted spoon to paper-towel covered tray, dust generously with sugar and serve immediately.