Brisket of Beef in Wine Sauce

Brisket of Beef in Wine Sauce
Recipes in this Post

When I was a little girl my mother used to make a beef dish that I loved. I never knew what it was until I became an adult and learned it was called brisket of beef. I liked that the meat was tender, and full of flavor. Finding it in the market, however, was a chore. I would only see Corned Beef, which I like very much, but it’s not the same thing.

While I was thinking about that brisket I had as a little girl growing up in Germany, I realized that my mother never made it after we moved back to the United States. Maybe it wasn’t my mother’s dish after all, maybe it was our German maid, Elfrida’s brisket I remember so fondly.

Either way, when I found brisket at the local butcher shop, I knew I had to try making it. I figured I would do something similar to Oxen Shvantz Suppe – Braised Oxtails, which also takes a long time to cook. It’s hot and I didn’t want to be in a hot kitchen all day, so I used my 4 quart Nesco to slowly braise the brisket. It was delicious!

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Savory Watermelon Basil Salad

Savory Watetmelon Basil SaladRecipes in this Post

I love when spring comes and all the fruits and vegetables you missed over the winter come into season. I especially miss watermelon. There are all sorts of watermelon flavored things, but they are just not the same, and who knows what’s really in them.

Last year, I found a great recipe from Jeff Potter’s book, Cooking for Geeks, for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. It was an experiment in sweet salty that I made one of the times I was Guest Chef at Ascencia in Glendale.

Spane had gotten a good report card and had requested Jambalaya for dinner. It’s spicy food, and with Global Warming Climate Change giving us warm nights already, we needed something to cool down our selves and our palates. I was reminded of the watermelon salad I made last year, and it was time to make another.

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Sour Cherry Fudge Cake – Happy Birthday to Me!

Recipes in this Post
Sour Cherry Fudge Cake

Cake baked in its pan, cooling

For my birthday, I wanted to make myself a special cake. I love chocolate, and I love sour cherries. The combination is fabulous.

This is my favorite cake in the world. It’s a very rich cake, and takes time and effort to prepare, but well worth it. My only suggestion to you is not to make it when you have a lot of other intense dishes to make, you’ll look like me when you’re done! Don’t let that deter you – you and your guests will be impressed with this luscious cake.

Yesterday, I made Rose Fudge Truffles and Black Forest Fudge for Founder’s Night at Spane’s school, prepped Rose Petal and Lobster Salad for my birthday, and made this cake. By the time we got back from Founder’s Night, I was so pooped that we decided to have the cake tonight. Amber and Noelle came by, and the four of us enjoyed cake together. A good time was had by all.

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Tools for the Holidays

Spane and I Christmas Season 2010

Ah yes! The time has come again to get all those tools out for the Holiday cooking. These days are pretty hectic, so it’s important to have your tools on hand, and that they are clean and in working order.

I’m always surprised to see people buying cooking tools that only do one job. A friend of mine went out and bought a Quesadilla maker, that couldn’t be used for anything else, and she already had several frying pans that were perfectly suitable to the task. That, to me, is a waste of time and money.

So, what I’m going to talk about here are tools that you can use any time of year, and that can be used for many jobs. I have all these products in my kitchen.

I’ve done a lot of shopping for you, found the best prices, and best products. This is a no-brainer! You can shop for the products by clicking on the link provided, or the picture, the choice is yours.

  1. Stand Mixer
  2. Food Processor
  3. Cookie Press
  4. Cookie Sheets
  5. Nesco Roaster Oven
  6. Electric Knife
  7. Knives
  8. Measuring Tools
  9. Timer
  10. Thermometer
  11. Mitts
  12. Bowls
  13. Organizer

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Holy Thursday – Our Catholic Seder Meal

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Exodus 12:13-14

It is an amazing thing to have a seven year old son, who is going to have his First Holy Communion on May 15, 2011.  Part of his education is the understanding of what the sacrament means, both spiritually and historically.

Holy Thursday also known as Maundy Thursday,  Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries is the Thursday before Easter celebrated by Christians to commemorate Jesus’ Last Supper, in which he was celebrating Passover.  This was the very first Holy Communion, and the beginning of Holy Orders, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Spane wanted to know why the Pastor was washing the feet of the men sitting on the steps leading to the sacristy.  I think a lot of people take this kind of for granted, just as the ancients took the slaves that washed people’s feet for granted.  By Jesus taking on the job of a slave, he showed us by his example, to go out and serve others.

The Passover commemorated freedom from slavery, Holy Communion commemorates our freedom from sin.

Last year, 2010, we celebrated a “mini” Seder meal, and this year we celebrated as well.  I decided to try to make it a meal that might have been served in Jesus’ time, something that would have been common in the Mediterranean.  Our menu had a lot of lemon, including the dessert, Lemon Bars.  We did not want to have dessert before going to Mass, so we had it after we got home.  It was the perfect end of a perfect day!

Our Seder Menu

The Seder Plate

Charoset

Charoset is a part of the traditional Seder plate.  It represents the mortar used for the bricks used by the Jewish slaves in making the Egyptian buildings, temples and tombs.  It is also a little sweet, to remind us of the sweetness of life.

When I make it, although I only use one apple, there is enough left over for Good Friday’s fast of one meal.

I use my food processor to make this in a snap!

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped nuts, walnuts are a good choice
1  apple diced
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar
Red wine as desired

Instructions

Combine ingredients in a food processor and process until it resembles the mortar that was used to build the pyramids.  Okay, it doesn’t have to look exactly like that, but similar.

If you do not have red wine, as I did not this time, you can use Balsamic vinegar instead.

Romaine

The lettuce symbolizes the bitter enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt. The leaves of romaine lettuce are not bitter, but the stem, when left to grow in the ground, turns hard and bitter.

Bitter Herb

Bitter herbs bring to mind the bitterness of the slavery of the Jewish peoples in Egypt.

Salt Water

The salt water is used for dipping the lettuce and other things on the traditional Jewish Seder plate.  For us, it also symbolizes the tears shed by the slaves in Egypt.


The Meal

Tabouleh

684_Tabouleh (Burghul and Parsley Salad) The first time I had Tabouleh, it was at a pot luck someone’s mother had made it – I called it Christmas salad for the longest time because it was green with red and white. Since then I have had it many times, mostly purchasing at Armenian deli or once, I even bought the one that comes in a box.  I was determined to make it myself, even if I had to stand and watch an old Armenian grandma do it.

Don’t buy the Tabouleh that comes in the box, it does not have a bright, fresh taste.  Although Tabouleh may seem difficult to make, with the proper tools, it’s really a snap.  All you really need is a good sharp Mezzaluna.  What is a Mezzaluna you ask?  Well, it’s a half moon shaped knife that you rock back and forth over your herbs.  The double handled one is the best – I only have a single, but it did the trick.

A Mezzaluna can quickly become your best friend when wanting to chopping nuts and herbs.  It is my preferred tool when I am making Chicken with Gorgonzola and Pistachios for chopping up the nuts.  I originally bought mine at Cost Plus World Market when they still carried them, and mine came with a nice wooden chopping block with an indentation in the center for the Mezzaluna.

I was a little frightened of bulgur since I had never used it, but doing a little reading up on it on the Internet calmed my fears.  I was happily surprised with the Zergut’s packaging that said the fine grain bulgur was the right one for Tabouleh..

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup Fine bulgur
2 cups Cold water
2 cups Chopped parsley
1/2 cup spring onions Finely chopped
1/4 cup mint Finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper freshly ground
2 tomatoes Firm ripe
Crisp lettuce leaves

Instructions

Place bulgur in a bowl and cover with the cold water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain through a fine sieve, pressing with back of a spoon to extract moisture. Spread onto a cloth and leave to dry further. Meanwhile, prepare parsley. Wash well, shake off excess moisture and remove thick stalks. Wrap in a tea towel and place in refrigerator to crisp and dry. Put bulgur into a mixing bowl and add spring onions. Squeeze mixture with hand so that bulgur absorbs onion flavor. Chop parsley fairly coarsely, measure and add to bulgur with mint. Beat olive oil with lemon juice and stir in salt and pepper. Add to salad and toss well. Peel and seed tomatoes and cut into dice. Gently stir into salad. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve in salad bowl lined with crisp lettuce leaves.

Mediterranean Grilled Lamb

682_Mediterranean Grilled LambI am very lucky living in Glendale, California, which has a large Armenian population.  Armenians make wonderful lamb dishes, especially kabobs grilled over their special hardwood barbeques.

For this reason, I can get lovely lamb chops at the butcher for a fair price. The butcher at my local store cut the ribs for me right out of the cold storage.  They had just come in that morning!

Another thing about living in Glendale and shopping at the Armenian markets; usually only lemon basil is available.  I like lemon basil, so I am fortunate in that respect.  Lemon basil, if you have not had it, is truly very lemony so it goes great with meats and fish.

These chops would have been wonderful on the barbeque, but I just put them in an iron skillet and broiled them in the broiler.

Ingredients

3 1/2 tablespoons Red onion minced
1 tablespoon Olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar plus 2
2 Garlic minced
2 teaspoons Fresh basil minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 5-oz Lamb chops

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except lamb chops, then add the lamb chops and marinate in the refrigerator at least 3-5 hours. Grill or broil the lamb chops until done as desired.

Lemon Bars

675_Lemon Bars

My friend Amber Lewis made these at her home a while back.  The only problem was they were so good in the pan that they never made it on to the serving platter!

When I was working the Scholastic Book Fair at Spane’s school, I was looking through 9×13 – The Perfect Fit Dish, and there was a recipe for Lemon Bars in it.  I bought the book just for that reason, and this is the recipe that was in the book.

As it turned out, we did not have enough time after our meal for dessert, so we had these when we came back from Holy Thursday Mass.

Ingredients

Crust

2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Powdered sugar
2 tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup Butter

Filling

4 Egg
1 1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon peel
3/4 cup Lemon juice
1/4 cup Half-and-half cream
3 tablespoon Flour
1 cup Powdered sugar

Instructions

First, preheat the oven to 350.  Get a 9×12 pan and line it, bottom and sides with waxed paper or greased parchment paper.  This is important!

Make the crust by combining the crust ingredients in a food processor and processing until your have what looks a little like sand.  Take this and press it firmly into the prepared pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients into a bowl and mix them together.  I do not suggest using a stand mixer because it is just too powerful.  Use a regular bowl and whisk.

Bake the crust for about 20 minutes or until the sides start to brown.  Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the filling onto the hot crust.  Put this back in the oven and bake uncovered until the mixture has set, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan until cooled. Carefully lift the bars by using the sides of the paper on to a cutting board.  Cut into bars, sprinkle each with powdered sugar and serve on a nice serving dish.

We’re Getting Things Ready to Cook Rabbit!

Spane with the Easter Bunny on March 30, 2009

Spane with the Easter Bunny on March 30, 2009

Yesterday,  Palm Sunday, Spane and  I saw an Easter Bunny hopping  around the Americana at Brand. The girl who was accompanying the “Easter Bunny”  asked where we were going. I said “We’re going to Sur La Table to get things to cook Rabbit!” The Bunny was suitably horrified, and the girl, Spane and I had a nice laugh.

I love Easter Season, and I love Lent.  Purple is my favorite colour, and I get to wear my purple clothes, purple accessories, etc., from the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday) to the start of Holy Week, Palm Sunday.

I also love Easter Season for all the fun pastel decorations.  We have flowers and butterfly gels for our windows that Spane put up this year,  we have a rattan bunny in a little cage that I bought at Ralph’s last year, and our decorations that we made for our Catholic Seder last year, which we might do again this year.

Our Moses with real lamb's wool

Our Moses with real lamb's wool

Some of our decorated eggs drying

Some of our decorated eggs drying

Update: We made our Catholic Seder meal and really enjoyed it. Our meal included Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Chops, Tabouleh and Lemon Bars.

 

This year, I am going to take pictures of the eggs that I am going to decorate with natural dyes, onions, coffee, tumeric and beets.  I have also been finding interesting recipes for deviled eggs, after all I have to have something to do with all those decorated eggs! I’ll be posting those as we go along towards Easter.