Friday, September 30, 2011


This recipe had me at sfeen-gee. Actually, at first I thought it was sfin-jy. Then I thought maybe it was sfin-guy. Then when I found out it was fried ricotta dough, I didn't care how it was pronounced. Next I rationalized that since it's drizzled with honey, it would make an appropriate Rosh Hashanah dessert and added the ingredients to my shopping list. Side note: The leftovers are great for breakfast (kind of like classy doughnut holes).

Yield: 15 servings

1 lb. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting

1.      In large bowl, combine ricotta, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix together baking powder and 1/2 cup flour. Fold into ricotta mixture. Add enough of remaining flour to make a thick batter. Let rest 1 hour.
2.      Heat oil in large heavy saucepan over high heat until a small amount of batter dropped in oil sizzles and starts to color.
3.      Scoop batter into a large ziploc bag and cut a small opening on one of the corners. Squeeze the batter out of the bag, a teaspoon at a time, into the hot oil and fry until golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
4.      Stack sfingi on serving platter in a pyramid. Drizzle stack with honey and dust with confectioner's sugar.

ricotta, eggs, sugar and homemade vanilla extract
adding flour/baking powder
sfingi dough
sfingi frying
fried sfingi
sfingi inside

Actually, this photo was taken the next morning when it was cold
(the night before when it was fresh and hot, it looked a little gooier).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tzimmes with Dumplings

By now I'm sure you've realized that this whole week has been Rosh Hashanah recipes. And I don't know about you, but for me, it's been a real eye opener (or closer maybe). I've come to the realization that Jewish food is not pretty, at least not from a photography standpoint (It's okay, I can say it, I'm Jewish). To be fair, it might just be the dishes I chose. Each one was mushier and clumpier than the next. This tzimmes is no exception.

But looks aside, tzimmes is sweet and delicious. It's usually just cooked vegetables and fruit. I have seen recipes with meat added, but I've never tried that. If you're already familiar with tzimmes, you might be asking yourself, what's up with the dumplings? I know tzimmes doesn't usually have them, but that's the way my grandmother made it and I grew up thinking that was normal. Later when I tried to find a recipe with dumplings, I found out it isn't. But I like them. Especially with a little onion. It adds a nice savory note so the dish isn't sickeningly sweet.

(Yield: 8-10 side dishes)

2 medium-large sweet potatoes, cut into 1 ½-inch chunks
8 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 lb. dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, prunes (apricots halved)
1/2 cup maple sugar (or light brown sugar)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few pinches black pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 small onion, finely minced (about 1/2 cup)

1.      Put sweet potatoes, carrots, dried fruit and maple sugar in a large oven-safe pot and add enough water to reach just over the top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

2.      While the vegetables cook, prepare the dumplings. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, buttermilk, melted butter and onions; pour into the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together, the batter should be thick like biscuit dough and sticky (add more buttermilk if too dry).

3.      Preheat oven to 325° F.

4.      Spoon 1-2 cups of the hot liquid from the pot into a measuring cup.  Make very small dumplings (about 1 inch each) and place them on top of vegetables in the pot.  Pour the hot liquid over.

5.      Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until dumplings are golden brown.  Break up the dumplings using a spatula or knife. Mix to combine and let sit for 10 minutes (the dumplings will soak up more of the liquid). Serve hot.

Freezes well (stir in some water if needed when reheating).

chopped carrots
chopped sweet potato
dried cranberries, apricots and golden raisins
maple sugar
water added

I tried making it with apple cider once and it was way too sweet.
mixing chopped onion with buttermilk, egg and butter
adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
dumpling dough
removing some of the hot cooking liquid
adding the dumplings
don't worry about them touching (you'll break them up later)
pouring the hot cooking liquid over the dough
ready to bake
close up
breaking apart the dumplings
on a plate

See what I mean (not exactly the
Cindy Crawford of the food world).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stracotto with Porcini Mushrooms

Instead of brisket for Rosh Hashanah this year, I decided to go with this really delicious Italian pot roast my friend Elizabeth served last Passover. It was just so rich with flavor. It's swimming in this succulent, full-bodied sauce made with onions, red wine and earthy dried porcini mushrooms. While technically it's not a brisket, it's so similar, I doubt anyone will even notice the difference.

Side note: I have never been able to successfully slice a brisket or pot roast. I've been served some very handsome strips at friends' houses and seen photos of perfect portions in magazines and on the internet. Mine, however, is always a hot mess (and yes, I do wait for it to cool off a little and slice it against the grain). I know I'm doing something right because it's so tender that it just falls apart. Which is really what you want in a brisket/roast. So I just heat it up in the sauce and serve it like stew.

Serves: 8-10 servings

1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 3/4 cups canned beef broth
1/2-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish

1.       Preheat oven to 350º F.
2.       Pat the beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy 6-quart roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total cooking time. Transfer the beef to a bowl.
3.       Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan; add the onions and saute until tender, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the wine and boil 1 minute. Stir in the broth and mushrooms. Return the beef to the pan. Bring the liquids to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until the beef is fork-tender, turning the beef over halfway through cooking, about 3 hours.
4.       Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent the beef with foil and let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Transfer the pan juices and vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth (or blend using an immersion blender). Combine the sauce and rosemary sprig in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
5.       Cut the beef across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the sliced beef on a platter and garnish with rosemary. Spoon the sauce over and serve, passing the remaining sauce in a sauce boat.

from Giada De Laurentiis
chuck roast

My roast came tied with twine. It isn't necessary
to tie it, but in this case, it was helpful (I don't think
it would have fit in my pot otherwise).
browning the roast
slicing the onions
cooking the onions
garlic cloves
wine added
dried porcini mushrooms (you gotta love the name)
adding the porcinis
adding the roast back to the pot
roast turned over, about halfway through cooking
done (and twine removed)
roast resting while I blend the sauce
I used the immersion blender (I only had to burn
myself 5 or 6 times before I realized I needed one).
rosemary added
slicing the roast

Here's where it all falls apart (literally). See, hot mess.
stracotto stew