pretzel bites.

pretzel bites.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

lemon rosemary olive oil cake. and a sweet new year to all!

 last week i was in synagogue and i saw a little girl wearing a striped dress i was absolutely positive was a hannah anderson dress and little folded socks with frilly ruffly things on them poking out of shiny black mary janes and i was transported to the holidays of my childhood, during which i exclusively wore hannah anderson dresses and little folded socks with frilly ruffly things on them poking out of shiny black mary janes. i suppose i rather liked (or at least didn't mind) this holiday and otherwise unspecified fancy occasion uniform, though i'm sure if i'd been in charge of my wardrobe i would have worn only the incredibly ornately puffy and beautiful easter dresses i lingered near whenever we made a trip to a department store. (tutus seem to be all the rage for little girls now and i imagine i would have been perfectly happy to wear a tutu on any given day.) but there was something so wonderfully sweet about this little girl in her stripes and socks and seeing her somehow rounded out the holidays for me.
there's a certain feeling i get every year around rosh hashanah. it's usually warmish out still, though the summer heaviness is always gone from the air and though i'm left mourning the passing of the deliciously long and easy summer days, when we're able to remove our air conditioners and throw our windows open to the freshness of the still gentle breeze, and when i find myself delighting in the return of my beloved honey crisp apples at farmers markets and grocery stores alike, i'm able to welcome the movement, the change, the passing. and every year it's synonymous with rosh hashanah.

so this year, when i was menu planning with my mom for the 26 people my parents hosted for the joyous new year celebration, chocolate just didn't seem appropriate. and neither did pumpkin. we're not that deep into fall yet. summer's still more than a distant memory. i wanted something bright but savory. fresh but rich. i found this rosemary olive oil cake. it was almost perfect. but it needed lemon. and pomegranate. and then it would be just right.
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup good olive oil
1 tbs. honey
2  tbs. rosemary (or more if you'd like)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
pomegranate seeds

to make:
1. preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and spray a 10 inch loaf pan with cooking spray, or spread olive oil over the pan if your mom is out of cooking spray.
2. beat the eggs and then add the sugar and beat until the mixture gets a little lighter and foamy and then slowly drizzle in the olive oil and keep beating.
3. add the rosemary, lemon zest, honey, and lemon juice and stir to combine.
4. whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl and then slowly add it to the wet mixture and beat on low.
5. pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a skewer comes out clean when you insert it into the center of the cake.
serve this cake with pomegranate seeds and rejoice in gratitude that you've lived to see the miraculous arrival of another season.
shana tova! a sweet and happy and healthy new year to all!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

cereal milk ice cream. it's a thing.

when jake and joey and i were young we weren't allowed to eat sugary cereals. the sweetest we could get away with was honey nut cheerios, which i didn't even like. joey loved them, and i secretly harbored resentment that he got to eat something sweet for breakfast. toucan sam teased me with his beautiful, colorful fruit loops. that little green leprechaun taunted me with his intricate marshmallowy lucky charms. and those cookie crooks with their dog, always in search of cookie crisp, well i could sympathize with them. there i was, eating my tan regular cheerios and tan rice crispies--so what if they make noise in milk. i bet cocoa crispies do, too--dreaming of what could be if only my mom didn't insist on depriving us of certain delicacies. just as i vowed i would eat as many candy bars as i pleased when i was a grown up, i also vowed to eat sugar cereals for breakfast every day of my life.
but then a sad thing happened. i actually grew up. and though i obviously haven't outgrown my sweet tooth, the idea of mixing sugary cereal with milk is now abhorrent to me. it makes the milk turn unsavory shades of grey and brown and takes a perfectly good, sweet, and crunchy snack and makes it all soggy and mushy. actually, that's not even true. i don't even like most sugary cereals even as snacks. they just don't taste right to me. cereal isn't supposed to be vibrantly colored or full of marshmallows. i'll take special k and smart start over them any old day. but there is one sweet cereal i love so completely i almost never buy it for fear i'll eat through an entire box while standing in my kitchen with the cupboard door open, pretending that each messy handful will be my last. cinnamon toast crunch. it is the most perfect sugar cereal in the history of the world.
but i can't eat it for breakfast. or anything, really. or rather i can't eat breakfast when i wake up. i need at least two hours for my system to get working before i'm even remotely hungry. i know that goes against all the breakfast rules, but what can i do? i love breakfast foods in general though, and firmly believe they may be eaten at any time of day. (i actually frequently prefer non-breakfasty foods for my first meal. a steaming bowl of butternut squash soup on a cold winter morning or a refreshing serving of gazpacho on a steamy summer one.) last march, while i was pregnant, i made myself a giant plate of banana chocolate chip pancakes and ate that for dinner and it made me happy for weeks. i frequently eat bagels, eggs, and veggie sausages for dinner when i don't feel like cooking. so when my friend molly and her girlfriend michelle invited us to molly's birthday shabbat dinner with a breakfast theme--shabbat sh'breakfast--i was thrilled. not only were all the guests asked to bring delicious breakfast foods, we were also instructed to come in our pajamas. nothing could be better because by the end of a good shabbat dinner i always find myself longing for some nice elastic pajama pants...
there's an egg dish i always prepare when we host brunch. it's the easiest thing in the world to make because there are no rules whatsoever. eggs, veggies, herbs, cheese, a bit of flour, some salt and pepper. bake it till it's done. it is delicious. and a perfect way to clean out the refrigerator. but that alone wouldn't cut it for molly's birthday. i had to make something outrageously breakfasty. luckily, over dinner the week before my friend jessi mentioned something inspiring she'd been reading about. cereal milk icecream. cereal. milk. ice cream. just pause now and think about it. it makes so much sense it's astonishing it took this long for it to become a "thing." i was determined. i looked up a bunch of recipes that called for sugary cereals i don't approve of but didn't see any reason i couldn't swap them out for cinnamon toast crunch. so that's just what i did...
1 container whole milk
about 1/2 box cinnamon toast crunch (or sugary cereal of your choice)
1 cup heavy cream (make sure it's cold)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks
leftover cinnamon toast crunch all crushed up (optional)
bananas, brown sugar, and butter (optional, but highly recommended!)
to make:
1. pour the cereal into a gigantic bowl and pour the whole milk over it. stir it around so all the cereal gets wet and then let it steep for about an hour. when it's done strain the cereal out. you may be enticed to eat it. go right ahead. the remaining milk will look a little brownish or greyish. that's okay. that's cereal milk. 
2. combine the cereal milk with the sugar, salt, and vanilla in a small pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
3. while that's heating whisk the egg yolks in a medium pot. then slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks while continuously whisking so the eggs don't scramble. cause that would be gross. then heat the medium pot with all those ingredients over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. now you have custard.
4. pour the cold cream into a big bowl, and then pour the custard into the bowl and stir to combine. chill the mixture for at least six hour, or overnight if that's easier.
5. you can freeze according to your ice cream machine's instructions. or you could add some banana that you sauteed on the stove with some butter and brown sugar. because what's cereal without banana? i added this divine mixture to the ice cream when it was done freezing and i transferred it to a tupperware. (i'm sure plain old sliced bananas would be good, too.) then i covered the top with a layer of crushed cinnamon toast crunch. i recommend doing this, too.
molly's birthday party was wonderful and rapha made a cameo in his excessively cute pajamas. the food was all delicious and, i am happy to say, i can now recommend eating this ice cream atop a multi-tiered pancake and nutella birthday cake. or apple cinnamon challah french toast casserole. though it's delicious on its own, too.
maybe, just maybe, there was something to my mom's no sugar cereals rule, however cruel it felt when i was young. and for the most part, it stuck. it's not very often i indulge in a box of cinnamon toast crunch. luckily, the one i bought is extremely large and there is still plenty left over. in fact, i think i'll go munch on some right now...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

chocolate. peanut butter. pretzel. FUDGE.

sometimes plain old chocolate fudge just isn't enough.


sometimes you need peanut butter and pretzels, too.

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 cup crushed pretzels

to make:
1. melt 1/2 tbs butter in one pot and half in another. add 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk to each pot. no need to measure. just eye half the can. stir the butter and milk.
2. while that's heating, crush the pretzels. i recommend using a can.
2. by now the milk should be bubbling around the sides. that means it's time to add in the chips. chocolate chips to one pot and peanut butter chips to the other. stir almost continuously as the chips melt.
3. when the chips are almost all melted, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. half tsp of each to both pots.
4. pour the contents of both pots onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and swirl together. now you have chocolate peanut butter fudge.
5. spread the crushed pretzels on top of the fudge and pat down. now you have chocolate peanut butter pretzel fudge.
6. refrigerate until it's firm, then cut into giant pieces or tiny little pieces or medium pieces. the size doesn't matter because it's all delicious.
you will feel proud of your delicious fudge and there will be enough of it to give to friends.