Baked Apple-Sesame Seed Chips

The inspiration: apples from a friend

Confession time: I don’t really eat that many apples. With few exceptions, I follow the FODMAP diet (although my family does not) and apples are considered a fruit to avoid because it has a lot of fructose naturally.  So are lots of other types of fruits as well, which make me sad because I love fresh fruit!  Most of my favorite fruits (tree fruits, like cherries, pears, apricots, apples, peaches and plums) are on the ‘ to avoid’ list.

So what do you do when your friend tells you she bought too many apples (they were on sale) and she needs your help to use them up? My husband likes apple chips ( I usually reserve this treat for Passover, minus the sesame seeds) and my kids will eat them sometimes. They are simple enough, and take longer to bake than to prepare. Win-win if you ask me.

The innovation: baking with sesame seeds to give a little nutty flavor

Before I started FODMAP, this was a snack I loved. It’s got sweetness, it’s a little crunchy, and I didn’t feel guilty for eating them! One of the things I like to add is sesame seeds – they are very healthy for you, and give a bit of extra flavor and crunch. I also switched from using regular cane sugar to coconut sugar to make the recipe a bit healthier as well.

My interpretation: Baked Apple Sesame Seed Chips

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Ingredients:

5 Macintosh apples, cored and halved, then sliced thin

1/2 C coconut sugar

1/2 C sesame seeds

1/3 C  ground cinnamon

olive oil spray

To Prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Arrange the apple slices on two full size baking sheets. Spray a light coating of olive oil spray over the slices. 

3. Sprinkle first the sesame seeds, then the coconut sugar, then the cinnamon over the apple slices. It works best in this order because the oil helps anchor the sesame seeds to the apple slice, and the sugar stays on better this way.

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4. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, then shut off oven. Leave oven closed and allow apple slices to cool completely before removing . Using a butter knife, carefully remove them from the tray. These chips are best if eaten right away, or left in a Ziploc and eaten within a day or so. 

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.


Red Currant Coulis

To say that this summer has been insanely busy is an understatement.  In June, I started a new job – I’m the shipping manager of a high-end kitchen utensil store in Boro Park called Kitchen Couture.  It’s a candy store for foodies like me – all the best brands, anything you’d could want for your kitchen.  It’s a fantastic job, and I love it – it’s just a lot of hours.

Starting in September, I’ll be working even more hours. The weather will be getting cooler as well, and soon I’ll also be filling orders for chocolates again.  So while I will definitely still continue to blog, I cannot promise how often it will be.  Right now I am hoping to get back on schedule and blog weekly, but if I blog two or three times a month, I will be happy as well.

One recipe I did make (and I was really happy to do, because I never worked with this fruit before) was a red currant coulis. I have plans with this as a base for a filling for chocolates, so stay tuned to find out if I am successful.

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In the meantime, let me give you the recipe for the coulis. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar – since I plan to mix it with fondant, I intentionally added less sugar.

Ingredients:

2 lbs fresh red currants, stems removed and rinsed 

enough cold water to just cover over the fruit

2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of kirsch

1) In a large non-reactive pot, add all the currants and water and bring to a boil until the fruit is soft and wilted.

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2) Drain the currants and reserve the liquid. 

3) Pass the currants through a food mill or pour the fruit into a strainer and press firmly against the sides of the strainer, scraping the bottom to get the fruit puree. Incorporate this with the reserved liquid. 

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4) Bring the puree to a boil and add the sugar and kirsch. Boil for five minutes, then remove from the fire and let cool.  

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.

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.

 

Chocolate Marshmallow Candy

The inspiration: Family coming to visit and no dessert in the house!

I’d made everything else for the family dinner (roasted chicken, my version of green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, rice with peas and carrots) but at the last minute I realized I did not have enough dessert. The family was due in an hour and a half, so I had to get something made – and fast!

The innovation: Raiding the pantry to use what I had instead of running to the bake shop.

I really had no idea how this would turn out. I also had to raid my neighbor’s pantry to get some of the ingredients- I now have new staples I need to stock, because this is now a family favorite!

My interpretation: Chocolate Marshmallow Candy

The peanut butter breaks up the sweetness of the chocolate and marshmallow, and the chocolate chips add textural contrast to each bite.

The peanut butter breaks up the sweetness of the chocolate and marshmallow, and the chocolate chips add textural contrast to each bite.

Recipe:

20 oz of semi- sweet chocolate ( I use either Callebaut or Alprose. For Alprose, it’s 2 whole bars)

13 oz marshmallow fluff (1 container)

8 oz smooth peanut butter

6 oz chocolate chips

To prepare:

Using the double boiler method ( pot filled with a few inches of water with a glass bowl fitted over the top) break chocolate into chunks and melt completely over mid-high heat, til chocolate is bright and shiny and there are as few air bubbles as possible.

Mix marshmallow, peanut butter, and chocolate chips together well, then spread onto a parchment- lined tray into as thin of a layer as possible. 

Taking the tempered chocolate, coat the entire surface of the marshmallow mix as thinly and evenly as possible. Be more generous for a thicker layer – that is your preference. Place entire tray into freezer and freeze for about 30-45 mins or until chocolate is hard and matte in appearance.

Chocolate has been flipped- see the hardened and darker chocolate along the edges. Be sure to coat thoroughly all the way to the edges.

Chocolate has been flipped- see the hardened and darker chocolate along the edges. Be sure to coat thoroughly all the way to the edges.

When chocolate has set, take another parchment paper and place on top of the chocolate. Carefully flip the mixture onto the new parchment paper and then transfer to tray, chocolate side down. Peel off the paper from the marshmallow side, coat with chocolate, then refreeze til new chocolate layer is hard. 

Remove from freezer, and using a sharp knife cut into squares. If chocolate gets too soft, refreeze for 5-10 mins til it re-hardens. Store in a parchment lined container in single layers.

July Kosher Connection Challenge: The Great Blog Swap (Homemade Disaronno Ice Cream with Hazelnut Chocolate Bark)

The Inspiration: The Great Blog Swap and a Giveaway!

The Kosher Connection, the group I co-founded with Jamie Geller and Tamar Genger of Joy of Kosher (http://www.joyofkosher.com/), is turning 1 year old this month! The KC (as we fondly refer to the group) is a group of about 20 kosher food bloggers who are dedicated to the ideal that kosher food can be fantastic. The exchange of ideas, the fact that we are all dedicated to not only the improvement of kosher food, but also of ourselves as bloggers and recipe developers is nothing short of amazing. Unless it is Shabbat or a Yom Tov, not a day has gone by without at least one or two members of the group emailing each other or the group as a whole, using each other as sounding boards -and fully confident in the advice they receive in return.

In addition to the group, there is a monthly cooking challenge (the Kosher Connection Challenge) open to any kosher food blogger.  To celebrate this milestone, what better challenge could there possibly be than to try to step into a fellow blogger’s shoes? Using a random sorting device, each blogger participating was assigned another blogger whose recipe (or style of recipe) they would have to replicate for this challenge.

I was so thrilled to get Sina Mizrahi of The Kosher Spoon (http://www.thekosherspoon.com/) as the blogger whose recipe or style I had to imitate! Her food always looks delicious, and her photography is stunning.

The Innovation: A recipe similar to what Sina would make for her own blog.

We all know I cannot seem to follow a recipe. No matter how hard I try, it just never happens. There are precisely 2 recipes I follow to the letter – and that is because they are for Passover! The best I would be able to do was to become inspired by something Sina made previously, and hope my interpretation would do her justice. Here is the recipe I was inspired by: http://www.thekosherspoon.com/2012/07/dairy-free-halva-and-pistachio-ice.html

My Interpretation: Disaronno Ice Cream with Hazelnut Chocolate Bark

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Recipe for Disaronno Ice Cream:

14 oz ( 1 can) coconut cream

16 oz (1 container) non-dairy whip topping

32 oz vanilla almond milk (no sugar added)

5 oz vanilla extract

8 oz Disaronno

2 -2 finger pinches of table salt

Combine all ingredients and bring to just below a boil. Stir continually for about 5-7 mins. Whne you taste it, the raw sharpness of the  liquor and vanilla extract should not be present, only the flavor. Cool to room temperature, then pour into a mixing bowl with a whisk and mix at meduim high speed til the top starts to froth and turn foamy. Pour into a 9×13 baking pan ( it will fill it about half way) and set into freezer. You will let it set partially, remove from freezer and reblend 2 or 3 more times, til you get a lot of froth. Then you will return to pan and freeze completely. Remove from refrigerator a few moments before serving so it is easy to spoon out. The texture is more icy than creamy.

Recipe for Hazelnut Chocolate Bark

20 oz finest quality semi-sweet chocolate ( I used Alprose in this particular recipe)

8 oz chopped hazelnuts ( I used raw, you can use toasted or toast for 5 mins in oven at 350F)

2 -fingered pinches of Dead Sea salt

1 large baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

Using double boiler method, temper chocolate til there are no lumps, no air bubbles, and the chocolate has a high gloss. Working quickly, remove from heat, pour entire bowl in the center of the papered tray, and spread out, leaving room at the edges of the paper so you can cut and remove pieces later. When chocolate is evenly spread but still liquid, sprinkle hazelnuts evenly over chocolate. Then add the sea salt, and refrigerate on a level shelf til set. Take a sharp chef’s knife and dip the blade in boiling water, then dry. Working quickly so the chocolate does not melt or smudge, cut into peices of desired size. If chocolate does not cut easily, re-dip knife in boiling water. If chocolate gets too soft, re- refrigerate until its sets once more. Store in a plastic container, with parchment paper in between the layers, in your fridge.

And now for the giveaway…remember to enter everyday for a chance to win these amazing prizes from Emile Henry! The contest winners will be contacted via email. They will have 48 hours to respond before other winners are chosen. This contest is open to United States residents over the age of 18. Contest is sponsored by Joy of Kosher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Chocolate in Various Forms

From left: Chocolate covered cherries, chocolate-almond truffles, chocolate peanutbutter squares

Eat your heart out! Top: Chocolate covered cherry Bottom: Chocolate peanutbutter square

Chocolate covered cherries and peanutbutter squares – pick as you choose!

A handful of sweetness -take 2 and call me in the AM!

The Finale: on the tray, ready to go!