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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ooey gooey can’t-believe-they’re-pareve “Turtles” (we ate them, so I can’t show you what they look like).

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If only I had taken a picture.  But Shabbos was early, one of the earliest of the year.  And now, they’re all gone.  I hope that tells you how yummy these are.  Like, “I can’t-believe-these-are-pareve” yummy.

Imagine hunks of gooey caramel, topped with lightly toasted pecans and just the right amount of dark chocolate.  You know, sort of like Turtles?  Except these guys are easy to make at home, out of regular coconut milk.  And no, they really truly do NOT taste like coconut.  (Not that I mind the taste of coconut; it’s the texture I can’t stand.)

Special tools?

image I usually hate nonstick, but I happen to have this heavy-duty nonstick muffin top pan.  This also comes in handy before Rosh Hashanah to make honey cake tops, which are absolutely divine.  You could also use a whoopie pie pan, or make these in silicone baking cups.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

3 magic ways to keep it clean: getting sticky dough off your hands.

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So you made bread.  Good for you!

Now what do you do with those ooky, ooky fingers?  Try one of these three magic tricks to get your hands sparkly again in no time.

1)  Get scraping

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Grab your trusty bench scraper.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but I haven’t found any other tool that works as well.  Now, just like you’re stripping paint from the wall, gently SCRAAAAAAAPE the dough together.  Off your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, wherever it’s stuck.  Once you have most of the dough loosened, you can rub that around your hands to get the rest off.  Don’t throw it away.  Just ball it up and toss it in wherever the rest of your dough is rising. 

2)  Fight flour with flour

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Janis Dohmann’s (and now my) Pecan Pie

"I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie." quote from When Harry Met Sally

This has been my go-to pecan pie recipe for YEARS (maybe since the late 90s?).  But when I went to the site today, I discovered that the recipe was GONE.

Shock, horror, dismay!

Happily the Wayback Machine remembers everything.  So I was able to dig up an archived copy of the recipe.  (If you’re curious, you can also visit my old Geocities site, going as far back as 1999.)

Here’s what the page originally looked like:

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I’m reposting the recipe here without permission as a public service.  If you are the copyright holder (Janis Dohmann and family, I suppose), and you don’t want this recipe to stay up here, then please just let me know nicely and I’ll take it down.

NOTE 1: 

Because my pie pan is rather deep, I usually make 1.5 times this recipe (ie 3 eggs instead of 2, 1.5 cups of corn syrup, etc.)

NOTE 2:

For Israelis who have trouble finding corn syrup, I substituted about 1/3 invert sugar, made with this Marshmallow Syrup recipe (I didn’t have Cream of Tartar, so I substituted a small squirt of lemon juice).  Don’t use ALL invert sugar, because you’ll lose the taste and make the recipe waaaaay too sweet.

Here’s the recipe:

Dohmann Pecan Farms

Growers of Texas Native Pecans Since 1972


Janis Dohmann's Pecan Pie

_______________________________________________

We have tested many pecan pie recipes but this one, which Janis has fixed several hundred times, is by far our favorite. It has won numerous awards and accolades and we hope you enjoy it also.


Ingredients Directions

2 Eggs, Slightly Beaten
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1-1/4 Cups Broken Texas native pecans

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
Spread pecans in an unbaked 9-inch pie shell.
Mix remaining ingredients and pour over pecans.
Bake at 375 deg F. for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set.

TIPS:

  1. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil about halfway through baking to prevent crust from getting too brown before the pie is done.
  2. For best results, be sure to use only Texas native pecans. If you insist on using hybrid pecans or pecans grown in some other state, don't complain to us if you aren't happy with the way your pie turns out.
  3. Note that this recipe calls for Light Corn syrup (we use the Karo brand). Many people use dark syrup in their pecan pies but we find that this gives the pies a rather strong taste and a darker, less appealing texture.

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. We would love to hear how your pie turned out -- you can contact us at janis@dohmann.com .

_______________________________________________

| Pecan Home Page | Order Some Pecans | Dohmann Home Page | Top of This Page |

This site is http://www.ortech-engr.com/pecans/pecanpie.html

Enjoy!

I'm not blogging here all that often, because we're still settling in and doing things like trying to make money (go figure). If you’d like to hear from me more often, I’ve included a signup below so you can get on my mailing list for Jewish parenting ideas, kids’ book giveaways, and more.  No obligation, just tons of (occasional) fun.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

5 bread baking myths you've got to stop believing - NOW.

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When you love baking as much as I do, you become an evangelist.

After we moved to Israel, and our whole lives were topsy-turvy, the only time I felt like things were at all “normal” were when I was making bread.  Those breads were rudimentary at first – hey, we didn’t even have an oven.  But they kept me grounded. 

I was so ecstatic when all our possessions arrived, including my gorgeous cast iron loaf pans, plastic dough bucket, and other beloved bakeware, accumulated over the years.  It was time to get my hands floury and really start baking again.

I love how centered and grounded baking makes me feel, but can’t help wondering why other people seem to think it’s hard, or complicated, or just not something they have space for in their lives.  We all have time and space to make bread.  Sure, it takes a while, but very little of that is active prep time.  A bread that takes 36 hours from start to finish may have less than ten minutes of actual stirring, kneading, mixing and forming loaves.

What other food do we have that prepares itself in the background the way bread does, while we go about our daily lives?   Set it, forget it, and it only gets better and better.

Here are five myths that keep people from baking… and the reasons you can happily ignore each and every one of them.

 

Myth #1:  “Use warm water.”

Where it came from:  When you buy yeast, it’s in suspended animation, sleeping in its little packet.  Adding water wakes it up and starts doing its job – chewing up the flour and burping it out into tons of tiny air bubbles.  Burping is good.  Burping takes time, but it goes faster when things are a little warmer.

Yeast experiment!

Reality check:  Warmth may give an artificial boost to your dough, but you’ll get way better results with time instead.  Start your breads a few hours earlier, because then, in addition to burping, they’ll start breeding, and while burping is good (see above), breeding is VERY good.  Yummy, too.  Whatever you do, don’t use HOT water.  Some people read “warm” and think, “the warmer, the better.” In particular, never use water that’s hotter than what you'd enjoy being poured over a sensitive part of your body. I’ll let you imagine any sensitive part you want.  Don’t gauge temperature with your hands, because their skin is much less sensitive.

 

Myth #2:  “Yeast is yeast.”

Where it came from:  I honestly don’t know. I guess all yeast LOOKS alike, in that it’s a powdery beige substance, but does it do the same thing when you add it to your dough?  Nope.

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Reality check:  You will usually get better results with Instant Yeast.  The kind that you mix right in with all the other stuff.  I used to grab the packets of “traditional” yeast because hey, isn’t traditional better when it comes to baking bread?  I was wrong.  Instant yeast has a higher ratio of live yeast.  It simply works better. That said, just as with Myth #1, time can fix this one, too.  Even the lousiest, deadest yeast packet probably has some some living yeasts inside.  If you use lousy yeast, just add time and you’ll still get great results.

Myth #3:  “Punch it down.”

Where it came from:  Again, I’m not sure.  Did dough once sneak up on someone and attack them from behind?  If not, I have no idea why someone decided it needed punching.

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Reality check:  If your dough is wet, it may benefit from a quick “strech n’ fold” operation, but otherwise, it doesn’t need punching down.  And what kind of message are you sending to those yeast?  They’ve been working hard for an hour or two, burping air bubbles into your dough, and then you come along and destroy all that hard work.  “Sheesh,” you can almost hear them saying.  “Now we gotta start that burping all over again.”  Eventually, your yeast will get discouraged, so no punching.

 

Myth #4:  “You can bake great bread in a hurry.”

Where it came from:  You can, sort of.  Google it and you’ll find a ton of ways to get tasty bread fast.  I have a few standbys that I use myself.  But the very best breads, the ones you’ll remember forever, while not difficult (see the next Myth), do need a minimum time investment.

image Reality check:  This is why I admire the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day idea so much.  They say, basically up front, that the time thing is non-negotiable.  You must set aside a couple of hours up front for the convenience of mind-blowingly delicious, air-filled bliss in 5 minutes or so later on.  A couple of hours is nothing.  Try rising your dough overnight!  36 hours!  Try sourdough and keep your dough alive for years and years! 

Remember the Dr. Seuss book, On Beyond Zebra, in which a young boy discovers the delightful creatures that lie in the alphabet, just past the letter “Z”?

image In the places I go, there are things that I see
That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.

Same thing with bread.  Once you try long-risen bread, you will not want to go back to the 45-minute stuff – except when you’re in a hurry.

Myth #5:  “Baking bread is hard.”

Where it came from:  They have diplomas in baking.  My sister has one – she’s a professional bread baker.  She had to learn all kinds of math, and science, and pass a food safety course.  You must have to know a ton to bake bread, right?image

Reality check:  If they could do it in Ancient Egypt, you can do it today in your home kitchen.  (Just don’t try to build pyramids!)  Bread baking is high-touch, but not terribly high-tech.  Like any other new craft, it won’t come naturally at first.  But even when you’re learning, you can’t mess it up, I promise.  The only situation I can imagine where your bread would be terrible is if you add too much salt.  Otherwise, what have you got?  Either a) flatbread, b) not-quite-salty/flavourful-enough bread (add salt!  drizzle with olive oil!).

Sure – your breads may LOOK weird sometimes…

http://lh6.ggpht.com/-7L72m1euSFs/T_EJUe3_xUI/AAAAAAAAWqs/SMrUM42o7Fs/DSC03403_thumb%25255B2%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800IMG_00005203

… but don’t be afraid to play around and start making your own.  You’ll be so proud to show off what you create.

Enjoy!

I'm not blogging here all that often, because we're still settling in and doing things like trying to make money (go figure). If you’d like to hear from me more often, I’ve included a signup below so you can get on my mailing list for Jewish parenting ideas, kids’ book giveaways, and more.  No obligation, just tons of (occasional) fun.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

(photo credit:  Betsssssy via flickr)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The ugliest challah

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I had such high hopes… but it turned out so, so badly.  Well, tasty enough.  But UGLY as sin.

It all started with a video that showed a beautiful, trim Israeli lady making the most gorgeous braids with the kind of ease that you only acquire after having made thousands of them.

I watched it.  Naomi Rivka watched it.  We were inspired – hooray!

As soon as I started to pull of this complicated six-braid, everything began to go horribly wrong, starting with the ginormous octopus contraption you see at the top of this post.

From there, I created a not-too-shabby looking braided thingy…

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And then tucked it together to resemble – um, a mummified dog?

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Yuck, says Naomi Rivka.

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Meanwhile, she herself was inspired by another technique she’d seen in the video to create a round challah, wrapped with a band to make it more regal.  Beautiful!

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Just to make the situation even more ridiculous, it turned out there wasn’t room on my (entire-oven-sized) baking pan for both of our challahs… so, ever the martyr, I sacrificed the (nonexistent) beauty of my own to give hers the space it needed.

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After baking, she had a gorgeous, Rosh Hashanah-worthy creation, and I had something that more closely resembling a six-string guitar or the footprint a filthy giant might make, stomping through the sand.

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Fortunately, the sting of failure was tempered a little by the first honeycake muffin tops of the year…

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Mmm… honeycake muffin tops.  The sweet smell that proves Elul is in the air.

Speaking of Elul, did I mention I have been writing books?  It’s as good an excuse as any not to blog regularly, and if you’d like to see some you might be interested in, in case you’re shopping for kids’ picture books for Jewish holidays.

If you’d like to hear from me more often, I’ve included a signup below so you can get on my mailing list.  No obligation, just tons of (very, very occasional) fun.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

Friday, July 18, 2014

With love from Israel: mega-easy pareve “rogelach”

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Many social media people have been worried over the last few days:  apparently, if you Google “Israel,” you get all kinds of dire, terrible images.

This post is my attempt to fix that.

So why is the word “rogelach” in quotes up at the top?  Because if you just google rogelach (or, as I did, rugelach), most of the recipes you’ll find involve cream cheese, and possibly milk and butter.  It seems that us pareve people are in the minority when it comes to rogelach.

And because dairy does such incredible, delicious things when it lives inside a dough, these can never be truly “real” rogelach.  But they can be a tasty, rogelach-shaped puffy cookie on your Shabbos table (or any other day of the week’s table), and some weeks, it just doesn’t get better than that.

I started with regular leftover challah dough.  If you need a recipe, you can try my Reliable Challah recipe.

If you happen to have leftover dough sitting around, you may find these so easy you’ll wonder why people bother going out to bakeries to buy them in the first place.

You will also need some filling ready.  My standby chocolate filling recipe is below, and takes about 30 seconds to mix up.

1.  Roll our your dough into a circle.  Mine were pretty thin, because I prefer more filling and less dough.

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2.  “Shmeer” it with chocolate filling.  You could also add chocolate chips at this point, or almond paste, or anything else you like inside.

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3.  Cut it up like a pizza.  I cut it in half first, then cut each half in half, and do that once more, to get 16 roughly even-sized pieces.

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4.  Starting at the outside, roll up the pieces, one by one.

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5.  Transfer each finished “rogela” to a baking pan.

6.  Bake about 15-20 minutes at 350-ish (my oven here is only approximate; it’s turned to a notch below 200 Celsius) until lightly golden brown on top, as seen above.

In case you need one, Here’s my Standby Chocolate Filling recipe, which I have used from everything to hamentashen to kokosh to rogelach and beyond.  The corn starch gives this a little bit of body, so it doesn’t just turn flat during the baking process, which happened with every previous filling recipe I tried.

STANDBY CHOCOLATE FILLING RECIPE

Unless you are feeding an army, use the half recipe!!!

Full Recipe (a ton – too much for most things)

Half Recipe (a lot – enough for most things)

3 cups sugar

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup corn starch
2 cups cocoa
approx 2 cups oil – but don’t dump it all in!

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

¼ cup corn starch
1 cup cocoa

approx 1 cup oil – but don’t dump it all in!

1. Mix in bowl.  No mixer required, just stir it around until evenly mixed.

2. Store in fridge until ready to use.  It will thicken slightly in the fridge, but will still be spreadable.

Optional:  For Almond-Chocolate Filling, I added ground almonds and roasted cinnamon when I made this once and it made the filling taste special and less generic.

Enjoy!  And please share this around to prove that there are still great, DELICIOUS things happening here in Israel.

Good Shabbos from the holy land!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The taste of s’mores in Israel

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Quit kvetching.  At least, that’s what everybody says when I blog about the problems I’ve had baking here in Israel. 

Which, just to recap, range from teeny tiny oven in small, hellishly-hot kitchen, to weird fake ingredients (tzimkao, vanillin sugar), to things that are missing altogether or wildly expensive (maple anything, corn syrup).

Fair enough; you’re more likely to be successful in your aliyah if you adapt quickly and learn to savour the wonderful foods that can be found here, rather than moping about what you miss from “back home.”  In truth, I don’t even say the words “back home” because this IS home.

But one thing I’ve found myself missing – heaven help me! - is the taste of s’mores.  Particularly the delectable S’mores Bars in this pareve recipe.  Cleverly, these bars recreate the gooey goodness of s’mores in a versatile dessert-bar form.  After searching for a perfect “s’mores dessert” for a whle, I finally discovered this recipe and have now made it many times over the last few years… (you can peek at them in this post if you scroll down)

Almost everything about the recipe was perfectly do-able in an Israeli kitchen… except the graham cracker crumbs which make up a large percentage of the dry ingredients (by replacing some of the flour with graham cracker crumbs, you recreate the taste of the cracker part of the s’mores without compromising the delectable cookie dough texture).

Happily, although graham crackers are nowhere to be seen, my husband brought home two hard-to-find imported American pie crusts before Shavuos.  I let him bake his cheesecake in one, but I already knew what I would do with mine… S’mores Dessert Bars.  Especially because he brought home two jars of real American-style marshmallow fluff in the same haul.

Mmm… graham.  Mmm… marshmallow.

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Goodbye, crust!

There’s not even a WORD for Graham Cracker in Hebrew.  Or, for that matter, pie.  (The closest I’ve found is Pashtida, which is not at all the same.) 

This imported crust, bought specially from our local “trayfe” supermarket (so-called because they have many trayfe products, so you have to look carefully for a hechsher) is labelled:  Baked Tachtit (bottom) for “Pie.”  (in Hebrew, פאי).

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So after all the effort of importing the crust, sourcing it, buying it, and (for my husband) shlepping it home intact… it felt more than a little sacrilegious smashing it up into little teeny morsels.

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But smash it up I did – and I’m glad I did.  It was delicious!