The Unexpected

AriCooks, asian-inspired, Dairy Free, Quick Meals, Salad, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

Can't stand the heat? This light and nutritious tofu salad is perfect for summertime lunches.

It’s a tried and true fact of living that few things are what you expect them to be and that life is full of surprises. Of course both those things sound like cliches, but we have sayings for a reason, and as the years go by I am more and more struck by the universality of the human experience.

When we decided to leave Boston it was after a long period of frustration with a place that is undeniably cold and (as a matter of perspective) cold-mannered and, in many ways, ambivalent. Having been a part of a largely non-Jewish (and apolitical) dance community for many years in Boston, few people had much to say to me about our upcoming move in terms of choice of location. Unexpectedly however, a friend who is a well known Irish Dancer mentioned that she knew a fiddle player who was moving to Israel at the same time as we were. I was intrigued.

“An Irish fiddle player?” I asked, “Moving to Jerusalem?”

As it turned out the musician in question was married to a journalist who had just accepted the rather overwhelming job of being the Middle East Correspondent for Public Radio, and they would be transplanted to Jerusalem for the next three years.

“How brave…” I murmured, “To be the wife of a journalist in a land that is so foreign to you, to which you have no idealogical or religious connection. And with small children to boot…”

Seeing as we would both be new in town, the Irish dancer offered to connect us.

“You can show her the ropes,” I believe was the general gist of conversation.

Although I suppose I have showed Ellery around a bit since we both arrived in Israel, our friendship has proven to be a lot more complex than simply a half-Israeli helping out a newbie (who, as it turns out, is quite capable of learning the lay of the land with or without a guide). With Ellery, Matt, and the kids so much a part of our lives here in Israel, I am constantly reminded that Boston is a home. We wax poetic about our favorite cafes, markets and restaurants, and trade anecdotes about Somerville and East Boston (our respective old neighborhoods). I also have the opportunity to see Jerusalem through the eyes of someone who neither loathes nor romanticizes this wild place, a truly refreshing opportunity. Ellery is quick-witted, dry and often very funny in her day-to-day assessments of Israeli society as she sees it. For these and many other reasons (such as my having a partner in Cheesecake Factory-bashing), I am thankful that she is here. I look forward to more adventures with her and the whole K-B crew.

E, this tofu salad is for you!

Ellery and Pookie, drinking a beer.

Tofu Salad, Yerushalmi Style

8 oz firm tofu, drained and crumbled

1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice (or any cooked grain you have avaiblable)

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs Tamari soy sauce

3 Tbs tahini paste

2 Tbs dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonaise

3 scallion, green parts only, finely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

2 small carrots, diced

1 small cucumber, peeled and diced

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

a few fresh basil leaves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the crumbled tofu in a dry skillet over medium heat, until it loses some of its moisture and shrinks slightly.

Put the tofu into a mixing bowl and add the cooked rice. While the tofu is still hot, swiftly stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce.

Now add the tahini, dijon and mayonnaise and stir everything together. Add the chopped veggies and herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy on its own, or stuffed into a pita with extra mustard and crisp lettuce leaves.

Chocolate Sorbet

Dairy Free, dessert, Summer, Vegan

One of the food writers I’m acquainted with here in Israel has a blog aptly named, Hope it will Rain. This phrase is stuck in in my head these days, as the once-lush, green valley where we like to walk, has turned brittle and brown in recent weeks — typical for most of the country’s grassy spaces at the end of July.

A hot Shabbat afternoon in the Valley of the Cross עמק המצלבה

hot weather flowers

my favorite tree, next to the Monastery of the Cross

I can think of few things that sound better at the end of long, hot walk, than cold watermelon slices and chocolate sorbet. (And apparently, I’m not the only one.)

Chocolate Sorbet, from Smitten Kitchen

Due to factors beyond my control, I remain sans food-processor for the time being. It’s tough, but I try to take these things in stride. Likewise, when my ice cream-maker decided it didn’t like running on my little converter after a few minutes of weak churning, I simply poured the mixture into a tupperware and froze it as it was, with perfectly acceptable results. 

2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk, for 45 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender, or whisk very, very well. Chill the mixture thoroughly (for 3-5 hours), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out. If you do not have an ice cream maker, just freeze the chilled mixture and prepare yourself for some seriously rich, pudding-like, chocolate sorbet.

Something in between

AriCooks, cake, Dairy Free, dessert, Quick Meals, Vegan, vegetarian

Eating Chocolate Amaretto Cake. Recipe below.

Carbohydrates, mainly in the form of breads and cakes, are my first love in the world of sustenance. Although I often restrain myself and opt for protein (beans, nuts, etc), a bright green salad, or a beautiful piece of fruit (not hard to find in Israel), most of the time, when my stomach tells me it is time to eat, my immediate thoughts are of tea cake, whole wheat bread with peanut butter, chocolate cake, apple muffins, or pita stuffed with hummus. When the end of the week rolls around and I have finished making my favorite challah recipe, my thoughts immediately turn to dessert. Usually, by 2 or 3 pm on Friday, I am patting myself on the back for having everything done. The house smells like freshly baked bread, the dessert is cooling on a rack and it’s time to relax and catch up with what the rest of the world has been up to…. But then I remember: dinner. Right. Challah and cake are all well and good, but we are supposed to eat something in  between. Darnnit. Back to the kitchen I go.

looks good, but something is missing...

Although Jeff, Auralee, and I are not huge eaters, and certainly do not expect a multi-course feast when it is just the three of us, I understand the importance of a well-balanced meal. Luckily, there are many vegetable and veggie protein dishes in the pages of my  cookbook collection that come to the rescue on the Friday afternoons when the preparation of dinner catches me off guard.

Egyptian Eggplant, adapted slightly from Claudia Roden’s, Cooking of the Mediterranean

This really could not be much easier. A kind of lazy-man’s moussaka, if you will. Accompanied by a freshly-made tabbouleh salad, this was the perfect simple, summer Shabbat dinner, and left plenty of room for Chocolate Amaretto Cake and Lemon Semolina Cake (see below)

3 medium eggplant

3 tomatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 cup goat cheese of your choice

salt & pepper

fresh mint

bread crumbs

Broil the whole eggplants in the oven (pierce each on a couple time with a fork), until completely roasted, and cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before peeling and slicing into rounds or half-rounds. Spread the eggplant into a greased baking dish that has been dusted with bread crumbs and top with the diced tomatoes and diced/crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper and bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle baked dish with fresh, minced mint leaves. Serves 4

Chocolate Amaretto Cake, adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

The original recipe calls for light rum, which I have used before when making this cake. This time, amaretto (almond liqueur) was what I had on hand. Both are delicious.

1 cup all purpose flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar, divided (original recipe calls for one cup, but I think it’s plenty sweet with a little less)

1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder, divided

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup soy milk (I used 1/4 cup soy and a 1/4 cup yogurt)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp amaretto

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup amaretto

1/2 cup boiling water

Boil some water in a teakettle, preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup of the cocoa powder. Add the soymilk, oil, and extracts and mix into a thick batter (it will be very dense). Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining cocoa powder and sugar. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into a glass measuring cup, add the maple syrup, and amaretto to the water, and pour this mixture on top of the cake batter.

Place the cake on a cookie sheet in case of pudding overflow (mine did leak) and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool just a bit and then release the sides of the pan while it’s warm (over a plate to prevent spillage– this is one moist, messy dessert).

Lemon Semolina Cake, from Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl

12 blanched, whole almonds, finely ground in an electric spice mill, or food processor

3 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup superfine sugar (if all you have on hand is regular granulated sugar, you can give it  a quick whirl in the spice grinder as well)

3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup, plus 1 Tbs semolina (I used whole wheat semolina)

For topping/serving

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1 1/2 cups berries

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 325°F/149°C. Grease a cake pan and line the bottom with a round of buttered parchment paper.

Separate eggs, putting yolks in a large bowl and whites in a slightly smaller one. Add sugar to yolks and beat with a whisk or an electric mixer until pale yellow and very thick. 3-5 minutes.

Gently, but thoroughly, fold in ground almonds and semolina.

Beat whits with cleaned beaters (they need to be completely free of yolk/oil) until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold gently but thoroughly into the yolk mixture (try to not over-mix, it deflates the whites, which are your leavening agent in this recipe).

Transfer batter to a pan and smooth top. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, 25-30 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert cake onto a cooling rack (you do not want to let this cake cool in the pan because the edges will cling to the sides of the pan while the middle deflates and you will have a concave cake). Carefully remove paper and cool cake completely.

Beat cream in a small bowl (with electric mixer or a strong whisk-arm) until it just holds stiff peaks.

Top/serve cake with berried and cream. Serves 6-8

Summer Granola

breakfast, Dairy Free, Summer, Tips and Tricks, Vegan

There are many sweet things about being back in Israel. Tiny countries (or this one, at any rate) have the tendency to feel like an extended neighborhood. There is a sense of one-ness, smallness, and that, “we’re-all-family-here” feeling. Along with that comes everyone treating each other like family, for better or for worse. Shouting at strangers with a vehemence usually reserved for teenage daughters barking at their moms, is not at all uncommon on the streets of Jerusalem. Nor is responding to a stranger’s question with a tone that mixes condescension and playfulness, the way an older relative or sibling might respond. When I’m feeling more Israeli than Bostonian, I find it charming, on days when it is the opposite, well… not so much.

Whatever my mood, the warm weather makes just about any bad day seem a little less so, and good days, even better, as my body continues its great inner-thaw of 2011. And since it is my firm belief (instilled by my dad) that I won’t get very far without breakfast, I must continue to find warm-weather morning-meals, accordingly.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever tire of my favorite granola recipe, it’s good to switch things up a bit sometimes, and with the summer coming a little sooner here, and lasting quite a bit longer than it does in Boston, a lighter, seasonal granola was in order.

Summer Granola, adapted from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman

While it may be a tad controversial, I admit to subscribing to many of the food-rants in the modern-day vegan manifesto, “Skinny Bitch”. I would like to qualify my appreciation of their book by saying that I do not think it is suitable for young girls in particular, because it does — to my mind — come a little too close to equating being “good” (as in, a good person) with being a healthy eater, which as some of us know is a recipe for disordered eating. That being said, they make many excellent points about health, and expose the nasty underbelly of the meat industry in a way that grabs the reader’s attention very effectively.

2 cups rolled oats

1 1/4 cups chopped nuts (they recommend sliced almonds, I do a combo of almonds, walnuts and either sunflower or sesame seeds)

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbs rice syrup (I use date honey, or more maple syrup)

2 Tbs safflower oil, plus more for greasing the baking sheet (I used coconut oil last time, which needs to be melted)

1 cup chopped dried fruit (optional, I don’t like dried fruit in my granola)

Preheat oven to 300°F/149°C

Arrange the oats on a large rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine the nuts, coconut, and salt. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the oil and syrups. Stir the toasted oats into the nut mixture. Add the syrup mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.

Grease the baking sheet. Spread the granola evenly on the sheet and bake, stirring occasionally until golden 25-30 minutes. Stir in the dried fruit, if using, and cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Middle Eastern Roasted Pumpkin with Lentils and Wheat Berries

AriCooks, Autumn, Dairy Free, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

Summer has definitely arrived and there are so many beautiful things at the shuk right now, it’s tough to know where to begin…

There are cherries. Mountains of them. Beautiful, deep red ones, as well as the Rainier cherries with their mottled red and yellow skins.

Photo taken from "From Suq to Shuk", by Avi Taranto

There are piles and piles of sweet and tangy nectarines, peaches, apricots and plums of all shades.

And there are these hunks of bright orange-fleshed pumpkin with thick white skin.

Let’s start with the pumpkin.

Roasted Pumpkin with Lentils and Wheat Berries

2-3 cups middle eastern white-skinned pumpkin, or butternut squash, cut into cubes

1 small onion, cut into wedges

good-quality olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground anise

1/2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup dried brown lentils, soaked for a day, then cooked until tender

1/2 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight (you may need to also simmer them briefly)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro

juice from 1/2 a lime (optional– sadly, we don’t have limes here in Israel right now, their season is brief, at the tail end of summer)

Toss cubed pumpkin with onion wedges, olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Roast in a shallow pan at 375°F until pumpkin is fork-tender.

After pumpkin and onions are roasted, add cooked lentils and soaked wheat berries to the pan. Sprinkle everything with a little more olive oil and mix. Put into a 325°F oven and heat through. Sprinkle with cilantro, lime juice, and chopped walnuts before serving.

Before Cheesecake…

Dairy Free, Savory pies and quiches, Tips and Tricks, vegetarian, Yeast bread

I am trying to get quite a lot in here before Wednesday’s holiday, which is all about cheese. Well, it’s actually about Revelation, but we eat cheese while feeling that something is being revealed. For more on Shavuot you can check out Jeff’s blog here. For more on food, stick with me.

Before I get swept up in the cheesecake baking, I have this Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Tart to share with you all, which is actually dairy free and nearly vegan (with the exception of one egg in the yeasted dough). The addition of caramelized red onions gives it depth of flavor and a nice consistency. I suggest making it in stages; roasting your peppers a day ahead, and maybe chopping and caramelizing your onions a day or two ahead as well. The more you can simply assemble — rather than cook and prepapre — on baking day, the more you can enjoy sitting down to eat (i.e. not exhausted)!

Roasted Red Pepper and Kalamata Tart with Yeasted Crust, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

For the Dough:

2 Tbs active dry yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup warm water

3 Tbs olive oil

1 egg lightly beaten

3/8 tsp salt

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly ~ 10 minutes. Add the oil, egg, and salt, then stir in flour (not all at once, you may not need all of it). When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk — 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile prepare the filling.

Tart Filling:

2 red onions, halved and thinly sliced

3 Tbs olive oil, plus extra for the crust

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used 4)

3 large red bell peppers

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1/8 tsp saffron threads

1/4 tsp anise seeds

salt and pepper

2 Tbs chopped basil

8 kalamata olives halved and pitted

Roast the red peppers whole, under a broiler, rotating every couple of minute until they are evenly mottled. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate or cutting board to let the skins steam off ~ 15 minutes. Peel and seed the the peppers and finely chop up all but 2/3 or one pepper. Cut the reserved 2/3 pepper into thin strips.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium heat until they are soft, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, turn down the heat to low and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes more. Do not burn. While the are cooking, peel, seed, and finely chop the tomatoes (to peel tomatoes, cut an X shape in the bottom of each tomato, place in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for a minute or two, then pour out the hot water and cover them in cool water. Drain and peel). Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes and diced peppers to the onions, crumble the saffron threads and anise seeds into the mixture, and season with 1/2 tsp salt and a little pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, especially towards the end. The mixture should be quite thick. Taste for salt and stir in the basil leaves.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/210°C. Roll out the dough and drape it over a 10 inch tart pan. There will be plenty of overhang.

Trim it and crimp the dough around the rim. Add the filling. Take the reserved, narrow strips of pepper and use the to make a lattice design over the top (I didn’t have quite enough pepper to do this — any design you make will be lovely). Place the olives in the spaces formed by the peppers.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and brush the rim of the crust with olive oil. Unmold the tart onto a platter and serve.

French Hill Salad

Dairy Free, Salad, Spring, Summer, Vegan, vegetarian

One of the best parts of being back in Israel is reuniting with friends from my past. Although not all my high school friends remained in Israel after graduation, the ones who did are now much more accessible and even the ones who left Israel come to visit with some regularity.

I am quite delighted to now be residing in the same great city as Ilana, a former Pardess Chana-ite, who gracefully mothers three beautiful children while also working full time as an elementary school teacher. Ilana, her husband Ziv and their children live in beautiful French Hill where she cooks, sews, gardens and makes Martha Stewart look like a lazy socialite. She does it all with a smile and a laugh, taking such genuine joy in life that it is contagious.

This salad is an example of the type of simple and delicious food that comes out of Ilana’s classically-Israeli kitchen. Ziv should be credited too, as he is never far from the food-preparations or (as he pointed out) from being the chief “taster”.

French Hill Salad, adapted from the Samberg house

serve 4-6

Whether accompanying a hearty lasagna (or “matzagna” as Ilana served over Passover), or a simple summer lunch, this salad is a refreshing green treat for cilantro lovers. Make sure to chop the herbs very finely, as their stems can be a little tough.  

1 large bunch of very fresh parsley, WELL washed (I usually do several washes) and finely chopped

1 small-medium bunch of cilantro, WELL washed and finely chopped

1-2 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

good-quality olive oil

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Mix parsley and cilantro in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and a couple glugs of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and top with chopped toasted almonds.

Fennel Orange Salad

AriCooks, Dairy Free, Salad, Vegan

Every week, I promise myself that I will not save my weekend shopping until Friday, when the shuk here in Jerusalem is bursting at the seams with Shabbat shoppers all running over each other’s feet with our little pulley carts. Yet, every Friday morning I find myself, once again, elbowing my way to the loquats, the onions, and the parsley, and shouting my order at the pickle man, as I try to be heard over the enthusiastic tour group behind me.

Yesterday, as I walked up the insanity that is Agripas Street (now that every bus in the city has been rerouted there because of the light rail construction, coming soon…since 1990), I vowed once again that next week I will do my shopping on Thursday, like a normal person.

Under the canopy at Aroma: being caffeinated is essential for successful shuk-shopping, otherwise one might be besieged by chalva sellers and trampled by old ladies wielding large bunches of braided garlic

Shopping amidst chaos presents two problems: one, it’s tough to navigate, and two, I get so overwhelmed, I forget what I came for. Luckily, when I returned to our apartment it seemed I did in fact have the makings of a nutritious though quirky Shabbat dinner.

Auralee helping me make the filling for stuffed grape leaves

Fennel Orange Salad 

Although not exactly a spring salad, it seems fitting since I don’t consider 60° F days deserving of the title. Hopefully the consistent warm weather is around the corner, and whatever the case, this salad is fresh and delicious in any season.

1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped

2-3 small cucumbers (US cucumbers are  much larger, so you could probably use 1), peeled and finely chopped

1 orange bell pepper, ribbed, seeded and finely chopped

1-2 oranges, peeled and chopped

Combine everything in a large bowl and toss to coat with juices from the orange. Add a couple teaspoons of good-quality olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and toss again. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Stubborn little soup

AriCooks, Dairy Free, Vegan, vegetarian

Well it’s winter in Tel Aviv, which is to say that it’s a little chilly in the mornings and evenings and it rains briefly every couple of days. The coldest temperatures we’ve seen have been 45ºF and almost no one has central heating. We use a little space heater when the apartment feels too cold and our soup cravings are mainly limited to the evening hours. Since we are not shoveling snow or dealing with frigid temperatures, my desire for stews is somewhat curbed and I was trying to think of a hearty soup that didn’t feel too filling for the mediterranean rainy season, but would still warm us when the evening air turned cool. A creamy corn soup seemed like the obvious answer, and I headed out to the shuk on Thursday without a thought as to whether it is actually corn season here in Israel. Apparently it is not. I was only able to find corn at one of the produce sellers in the entire market, and my stubborn determination to satisfy this sudden craving left me 18 shekels poorer (about a dollar an ear; not cheap). Luckily the soup turned out delicious, and I will be sure to make this recipe again and again, once corn is back at the market in abundance.

Ari’s Corn Soup

In an effort to maximize the corn-flavor and really get the most out of each cob, I decided to simmer the corn cobs in a broth for about 45 minutes and use that as the soup’s base. Adding the whole kernels to the final product also boost flavor and give the soup texture and body. This one is a keeper.

serves 6

5 ears corn, shucked, corn kernels sliced off of husk and set aside

4 cups milk/soy/almond/rice milk etc

water or vegetable broth

olive oil

2 onions, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbs chopped fresh thyme

3-4 celery stalks, leaves included, chopped

salt and pepper

vegetable bouillon/soup powder, to tast (if you are not using vegetable broth)

cilantro for garnish (optional)

Make the creamy corn stock:

Break the corn cobs in half and slice the kernels off the husks and set aside. Place the husks in a large pot and pour in milk, adding water or vegetable broth to cover. Being to boil (being careful not to let the mixture boil over) and then turn down and simmer on low for 30-60 minutes.

Mean while chop up the onions, carrots, herbs and celery. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the onions and carrots, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and beginning to turn transluscent. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and saute a few minute  longer, then toss in the celery.

Remove the corn husks from the milk broth and discard them. Add a couple spoonfuls of soup powder (if you did not use broth) and the sauteed veggies. Bring to a boil again briefly, then add the corn kernels and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with chopped cilantro.

Apple Cider Dumplings

AriCooks, Autumn, Dairy Free, dessert, dumplings, Tips and Tricks, Winter

Tomorrow is the day we ship our stuff off across the seas. That will include nearly all my kitchen equipment so this is likely my last post before Tel Aviv!

My sister came by yesterday evening, bearing Thai Food (we never turn Thai-food bearers away) and bringing her usual witty banter, smudged eye-make-up, and hilarious anecdotes from another day of waitressing. There are not a lot of people who are allowed to see the state of physical and emotional affairs up here on the third floor, in the final days before our departure, but Alissa is one of the privileged exceptions.

Post-noodles, dumpling-making seemed like a good idea to my slightly manic, pre-move self. After all it was only 9pm- the night was young! These apple cider dumplings were an apt choice since they remind me of Here… of cold weather, and New England flavors and cooking for people I love.

dumplings simmering in apple cider syrup

Cinnamon Dumplings with Apple Cider Syrup, adapted from Martha Stewart Living, September 2005

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter/vegan margarine, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk/soy milk

4 cups apple cider

Creme fraiche, for serving (optional)


Sift flour(s), baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir together sugar and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until sugar begins to melt and turn light amber, about 14 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted and mixture turns medium amber, about 2 minutes more.

Meanwhile, work butter/margarine into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until flour is incorporated but mixture is still crumbly. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, and milk in a medium bowl. Form a well in the center of flour mixture; pour in egg mixture. Stir gently with a fork until combined.

Remove sugar mixture from heat; slowly whisk in cider. Return to heat; bring to a simmer. Using your hands or a small spoon, divide the dough evenly into 12 pieces, and roll into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Carefully drop 6 balls of dough into the simmering cider syrup. Cook, turning once or twice to coat fully, until dumplings have tripled in size and are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to a platter, and cover. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Divide dumplings among 6 bowls, and drizzle with the remaining cider syrup.

Serve with creme fraiche/whipped cream or just as they are.