Friday, May 28, 2010

The Menu

Ah... shabbos. And the arrival of grandma and grandpa!!!

tilapia cakes w/tartar sauce
mushroom almond pate
brisket (and chicken for the non-brisket eaters)
mashed potatoes
mushroom sauce
carrot currant kugel
rice lentil salad
spinach salad
mango coconut and kiwi strawberry sorbets

and for lunch...

mushroom almond pate
tilapia cakes
carrot currant kugel
rice lentil salad
curried chicken apple salad
brownies and sorbets


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good Food

Every once in a while, a week of really good food just materializes. This week that applied to everything except for Eli's and Raizel's birthday cake which was so moist it kind of collapsed a bit as it was transferred from the pan to the cake plate. Eli called it "volcano cake." It was good, just unusual looking!

Here are some of the yummiest things we ate:

Tilapia Fish Cakes
I'd made fish cakes with other fish before, but never tilapia. This was delicious! And it's one of the less expensive fishes available here. Here's the recipe (it's also on p. 12 of the adoption cookbook, for those of you who have a copy!).

2 lbs. fish, cubed
1 cup onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
3 T. cilantro
1 T. cumin
2 tsp. kosher salt
6 T. matzo meal or flour
1 egg

Put everything in the food processor until coarsley ground. Shape into 2-inch patties. Sauté in a pan for 2 minutes per side.

I served the patties with a tartar sauce recipe I adapted from one of my Frugal Gourmet books.

Tartar Sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 T. dill
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

There you have it. We really enjoyed this.

Goat Yogurt with Lemon Curd
This was heavenly (at least to me; I don't think anyone else in the family appreciated the goat...). It's like plain yogurt with a hint of goat cheese flavor, then the lemon on top of that. Yum. We also had the lemon curd in the jelly roll cake. On Sunday when grandma and grandpa are here (HOORAY!) we'll have it with scones.

Homemade Bagels
The LMNOP (lord and master, etc.) is the true bagel expert, but I went ahead and did it since he is well-occupied with other things. Straight out of the oven they tasted nothing at all like DD's. His bagels are magical. The slightly crisp outside, the dense slightly chewy inside, with wisps of steam escaping as you take a bite. Great texture on the surface and inside. My bagels just didn't look as pretty, and the contrast between the dense and crisp wasn't quite as great. The funny thing was - when I reheated/toasted the bagels for lunch today (having been in the freezer overnight), they tasted *exactly* like DD's would taste the next day. They actually seemed better to me than the day before. And the second best part (after the taste)? They only cost 4¢/each to make!!

Ah, bread. I love baking bread. I still regularly fantasize about my eight years working in a pâtisserie surrounded by those glorious smells and textures. I've never had better bread then they had there, never had better pasta, definitely never had a better croissant, and never had a better (or any!) strawberry napolean. But back to the bread. I made eight loaves of my usual whole wheat oatmeal bread, which usually holds us for two to three weeks. (Maybe not quite so long with visitors coming!) The same dough recipe can vary a good bit from week to week, depending on humidity and how distracted I get while it is rising. Once in a while it comes out perfectly, and one has a renewed gratitude for what a miracle the process of making bread is from the seed growing in the ground, to enjoying it at the table.

Pinto Bean Patties
We had these for dinner tonight. I based it on my felafel recipe pretty much...

2 cups pinto beans, soaked overnight
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 T. cumin
2-1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/4 cup flour

Toss everything in the food processor and process until finely chopped. Shape into small, thin patties (about 1/4 inch thick and 2 inches wide) and sauté in a pan until browned on both sides.

These were delicious topped with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and green onions. And, no, you don't even have to cook the beans first! This makes it really easy to put together. I always toss a bunch of pre-soaked beans in the freezer to have on hand. Everyone ate the patties and a bunch of sautéed bok choi (except Eli, of course!). This recipe costs pennies to make.
I did a lot of double-cooking in the last couple of weeks so I can spend less time in the kitchen when grandma and grandpa are visiting. It looks pretty good. I really want to go back to doing this more often. It's usually just as easy to make two of something as one, and it saves all that repeated effort later. So, for now it looks good.

There! Two non-menu posts. How about that? I might even get some pictures up before much longer. We've had lots of good adventures!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Happy Hollisters vs The Boxcar Children

And the winner is...

The Happy Hollisters, a million to one.

I had the opportunity to purchase a set of Boxcar Children books for just a few dollars, so I did. We loved the Happy Hollister books so much, and the premise of the Boxcar Children series is very similar. Both books are about four siblings having adventures and solving mysteries together. Here's what bothers me about the Boxcar Children series...

The Boxcar Children have all their adventures away from any parental authority. In one book, the kids were sent by their grandfather to live on an island in a barn for the summer. There was a caretaker in a cottage nearby, but he was not responsible for the children. The youngest kid is six or seven, for goodness' sake, and swimming in the ocean does require some degree of acute awareness. Oy. In another book, the children were sent across the country to be caretakers to their elderly aunt. This just seemed very peculiar to me!

The text in The Happy Hollisters stories has a rich vocabulary with long sections of narrative. The writing is simply better. The Boxcar Children is primarily dialogue, with huge chunks of time snipped out of the narrative. There's no transition, and the frequent "fast forward" effect is irksome. I checked the reading levels for both series. The Happy Hollisters ranges from a 4th- to a 6th-grade reading level and Boxcar Children is considered 4th grade level.

The characters in The Happy Hollisters are a bit more three-dimensional and more fleshed out. You get a much better sense of each child's personality. The plots are also usually better as well.

So... we'll continue to read the other seven Boxcar Children books we have. They're not that bad (certainly not "twaddle"), and the kids find them engaging. Children having adventures is a perennial favorite around here.

Other readalouds we've been enjoying: Sherlock Holmes stories (somewhat edited!), and The Youngest Bride (written by a friend; very charming story about a young Jewish girl who marries a young yeshiva boy to save him from being forcibly enlisted in the czar's army).

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Menu (Again)

Yes, another menu. It has been pretty much a week in the kitchen! No big-menu holidays until the fall now. :)

For tonight...

tilapia fish cakes
Dutch Pennsylvania coleslaw
Caesar salad
roasted potatoes
roasted bok choy with mushrooms
garlic lemon chicken
strawberry sorbet

and for tomorrow...

tilapia fish cakes
Caesar salad
mushroom pate
roasted red pepper salad
Dutch Pennsylvania coleslaw
potato salad
lemon curd jelly roll cake

And GUESTS! Two little, two big.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Menu

Yes, it seems I only get around to posting menus lately... We've been busy off having adventures (and cooking!). Pictures to come, b'n.

Over the shavuos holiday we (with help from guests!) will be enjoying...

sourdough bread
cream of butternut squash soup
French onion soup
blintzes w/lemon curd
shuba (lox, carrots, beets, onion, mayo)
eggplant parmesan
tofu macaroni and cheese
green salad with bleu cheese, roasted pecans, and dried cranberries
caesar salad
eggs benedict
key lime pie
dulce de leche ice cream

Probably will end with some kind of mini-meat meal on the second day. Tonight I'll do some learning with the kids, and papa will go to sleep early and get up in the middle of the night and go do some learning at shul. Papa is home for these two days. Hooray!

No rest for the weary... back to the kitchen!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Menu

chicken tagine with preserved lemons and green olives
apricot rice
eggplant tomato salad
cucumber tomato salad
zucchini salad
carrot salad
lemon blueberry cake

and for lunch...

deli sandwiches plus all those salads!

Good shabbos!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Menu

For dinner:

lime cilantro coleslaw
roasted zucchini/mushroom/onion/carrot
baked potatoes
tofu sour cream
strawberry blueberry sorbet

And for lunch:

black bean-plantain empanadas
guacamole and chips
coconut rice
lime cilantro coleslaw
blueberry lemon cake (farewell, Oregon blueberries!)
strawberry blueberry sorbet

and... GUESTS!