Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

A friend shared this recipe recently, and I was intrigued. I had to try these cookies. The filling for these traditional Jewish cookies, is inspired by the filling used in cannoli.

I made a few changes from the recipe he shared, and was very happy with how they turned out.

The dough, which contains no sugar, has a wonderful, pastry-like texture. It pairs up well with the filling. The drizzle of chocolate is a perfect finish for them.

They aren’t a gooey, overly sweet cookie, which I really like.

They pair up nicely with tea or coffee. I confess,  I had a couple for breakfast with my morning tea. I would definitely make these again.

Thanks, Jared, for sharing this recipe.

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Cheesy Chocolate Hamantaschen

 

Filling:

¼ c. ricotta cheese

5 oz. cream cheese

½ c. powdered sugar

1 t. cinnamon

½ c. mini chocolate chips

Dough:

½ c. (1 stick) butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese

½ c. half and half or milk

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

2½c. flour

Topping:

1 egg white

2 T. water

½ c. chocolate chips

Powdered sugar, optional

 

Prepare the filling. Beat together the ricotta and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the milk and cinnamon, then stir in the chips. Chill until ready to use. Make the dough by mixing the cream cheese and butter together. Add the milk, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour until a stiff dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or put in a bag and chill at least an hour – or up to a couple of days – before proceeding. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a little less than ¼ – inch thickness. Cut dough out into 2-3 inch circles. Place a scant teaspoon of filling in middle of each dough circle. Combine the egg white with water and beat together. Brush a little of the egg white mixture over the edges of the dough circle. Fold the dough up in thirds towards the center, pinching the edges to seal. They should look like little three-corner hats. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps. Brush folded cookies with a little more of the egg white mixture. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake in a 375-degree- oven for 15 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Remove to cooling rack. Once cooled, melt the chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies. You can top with some powdered sugar, if you like. Makes 2½-3 dozen.

 

Canning Chickpeas

Chickpeas Cooling Down

I always get a lot of questions when I tell people I can dry beans. They ask if it is worth the effort. I find I like the flavor better than canned beans. Plus, I don’t have to cook from dry every time I want some. So for me, it is worth the effort.

It isn’t hard to do, but there are rules.

Because beans are a low acid food, they must be pressure canned. They also are precooked a little before they are canned. They don’t overcook when you do that. It just helps them to cook evenly and to get proper heat penetration.

Salt is optional, so you can leave it out, if you like.

Make sure you pick over the beans and toss any that are discolored.

They expand a lot when cooking. I started out with 2 quarts of dry garbanzo beans and ended up with 12 pints!!! Always use a bigger pot than you think you will need.

Canning Dry Beans- Chickpeas, kidney, black beans etc.

Rinse beans and place in a large pot. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes. Let stand 1 hour. Drain beans and return to pot. Cover with cold water- at least two inches over the beans. Bring to a simmer and simmer 30 minutes. Meanwhile, wash jars and get the pressure canner ready. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for how much water to place in your canner. Some say 2 or 3 inches of water. Mine says to add three quarts of water. I also add a little vinegar to my water to reduce mineral build up inside my canner. Not a safety issue, more cosmetic. A few tablespoons is plenty.

Ladle beans and water into canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add non-iodized salt, if you like. 1/2 teaspoon per pint and 1 teaspoon per quart. Beans will still expand, so make sure the water covers them. Tighten lids to fingertip tight. Place jars in canner, on a rack, where water should just be simmering. Secure lid and turn up the heat. Once a steady stream of heat comes out of the vent, start timing it. Steam must vent for ten minutes. Place weighted or dial gauge over the vent and watch while canner comes up to pressure. Once canner reaches 10 pounds pressure, start timing. You will gradually be able to turn the heat down, but do it slowly, so you don’t go below 10 pounds pressure. Pints are processed for 75 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes.

Once the time is up- turn off the heat and allow the canner to go down to zero pounds pressure. Don’t rush this step by trying to cool the canner. The cooling down time is part of the process. Remove the gauge carefully at this point. Wait another 10 minutes before removing the lid of the canner. Remove lid, facing away from you- there is still plenty of hot steam in the canner. Remove jars to a counter covered with a towel or cooling rack. Allow jars to cool before checking seals.

Sources NCHFP, Ball

Tiramisu Doughnuts

Tiramisu Doughnut

These doughnuts are inspired by the flavors of tiramisu, a traditional Italian dessert. They are a filled doughnut, like jelly doughnuts. I used the filling that I would normally use for making tiramisu. It is an egg custard, combined with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. After the doughnuts are filled, they are topped with a mocha ganache. The end result is sublime.

I started making these doughnuts a few years ago. It was Fat Tuesday and I was making jelly doughnuts, a family tradition. Not everybody likes jelly doughnuts and I wanted to switch things up. As a kid, I loved the cream filled doughnuts my folks would make. I decided to use the filling recipe I used for tiramisu. To finish it off, a little coffee is added to the ganache to give it the flavors of classic tiramisu.

You do need to store finished doughnuts in the fridge, assuming any are leftover.

I won’t lie, these doughnuts are a bit of work, but worth the effort. Here is the recipe.

 

 

Tiramisu Doughnuts

Filling:

5 egg yolks

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. Marsala wine (not cooking wine)

2 c. whipping cream

4 T. sugar

1 lb. mascarpone cheese

Make zabaglione (egg custard). In double boiler, over simmering water, beat together egg yolks and sugar until lemon colored. Stir in Marsala and continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and will mound on a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool down. You can place in bowl in fridge 30 minutes or so. Beat together whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat in mascarpone and chilled zabaglione. Chill 1 hour.

Dough:

4 c. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

½ c. butter

1 packet yeast

¼ c. warm water

2 t. sugar

1 c. evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

 

Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut in butter and set aside. Dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 t. sugar and set aside. Combine milk with eggs. Stir in yeast mixture and add to flour mixture stirring well. On lightly floured surface knead dough until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours.  Remove dough from bowl and punch down. Using about a third of the dough at a time roll dough out to about an ½ -inch thickness and cut out with a 2½ -inch biscuit  cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut out. You should get about 2 dozen. Place dough circles on a floured surface and cover with a towel until doubled, about an hour. Heat oil in a deep pan until it reaches 375 degrees. Cook doughnuts a few at a time until golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels and cool before filling.

Note: You can also refrigerate the dough after kneading it if you would prefer. Just place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll and cut dough into doughnuts when cold from the fridge. Allow to rise, covered, until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours. Fry as directed.

To fill doughnuts use a pastry bag fitted with a long tube tip for filling. I have these handy plastic syringes which are easy to use. Insert tube tip into doughnut and squeeze gently until doughnut is filled with cream (or jelly). Be careful not to overfill or doughnut will split. Once filled doughnuts can be frosted or topped with a sugar glaze. For the Tiramisu Doughnuts I made a mocha ganache.

Mocha Ganache

2 c. chocolate chips

1 c. whipping cream

1 T. instant coffee powder

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe dish and heat in microwave for 2 minutes. Stir mixture until smooth and return to microwave if chocolate is not fully melted. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds more at a time, stirring after each time until mixture is smooth.  For extra smooth mixture strain before using. Dip the top of the filled doughnuts in ganache.

Mom’s Jelly Doughnuts

Jelly Doughnuts

I remember how fun it was to watch my parents making doughnuts. The making of the dough, then cutting the dough into circles. The dough circles would then rise on the counter, under linen towels, until puffed up. Gently they would be fried, then set on paper towels to drain. Once cooled, the filling would be piped into them through a pastry bag filled with some wonderful jelly or jam.

I also remember learning to fill them. Squeezing the jelly from the pastry bag into the doughnut was tricky. You wanted to make sure there was enough filling, but not so much that they split open. After a couple of tries,  I realized you could figure it out by the weight of the filled doughnut in your hand.

My parents were both excellent bakers. My father had even been a professional baker at one time. I thought it was normal to have parents who made doughnuts. It was the norm in my family.

My folks only made them for special occasions. Unless my Mom got a taste for homemade jelly doughnuts. Then, my dad would make them for her. She loved jelly doughnuts. More than pretty much anyone else I knew.

You can fill them with any number of jellies, jams and cream fillings. I had fresh strawberries and dried apricots so I used them to make both a strawberry filing and an apricot filling. Once fried and filled, the doughnuts can be eaten plain or topped with a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze or just rolled in powdered sugar. They are a bit of work, but well worth the effort.

 

Jelly Doughnuts

Dough:
4 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
½ c. butter
1 packet yeast
¼ c. warm water
2 t. sugar
1 c. evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut in butter and set aside. Dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 t. sugar and set aside. Combine milk with eggs. Stir in yeast mixture and add to flour mixture stirring well. On lightly floured surface knead dough until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours. Remove dough from bowl and punch down. Using about a third of the dough at a time roll dough out to about an ½ -inch thickness and cut out with a 2½ -inch biscuit cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut out. You should get about 2 dozen. Place dough circles on a floured surface and cover with a towel until doubled, about an hour. Heat oil in a deep pan until it reaches 375 degrees. Cook doughnuts a few at a time until golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels and cool before filling.

Note: You can also refrigerate the dough after kneading it if you would prefer. Just place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll and cut dough into doughnuts when cold from the fridge. Allow to rise, covered, until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours. Fry as directed.

To fill doughnuts use a pastry bag fitted with a long tube tip for filling. I have these handy plastic syringes which are easy to use. Insert tube tip into doughnut and squeeze gently until doughnut is filled with jam. Be careful not to overfill or doughnut will split. Once filled doughnuts are topped with a powdered sugar glaze or rolled in powdered sugar.

Apricot Filling

12 oz. dried apricots, chopped up
2 c. water
2 c. sugar, or to taste

Combine apricots with water in saucepan and simmer, covered until apricots are really tender. This will take at least an hour- add more water, if needed. Add sugar to taste and cook until thickened. Puree mixture in a blender.

Strawberry Filling

1 lb. strawberries
1½ c. sugar
½ c. water
3 T. cornstarch

Crush berries and place in saucepan with the sugar. Cook until berries are tender, about 10 minutes. Combine water with cornstarch and add to strawberries. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Cool. , Puree. Makes 2 cups.

Reuben Bread

Turkey Reuben

I had a fun time yesterday teaching a friend how to make this bread. We made the Reuben bread, but also made three more breads, switching up the fillings. We ended up with a roast beef/provolone, ham with cheddar and a spinach artichoke bread.

This would make a great bread to serve for your Super Bowl party. If you are looking for a twist on a Reuben sandwich, try baking all the traditional ingredients into a loaf of bread.

By using quick rising yeast, this bread can be ready to eat in right around an hour. It tastes amazing, and looks pretty impressive, too.

Easier than you think, it will look like you spent all day making it. Plus, you can switch out the ingredients in all sorts of fun combinations.

 Rueben Bread

 

3 ¼ c. all purpose or bread flour, you can use a little rye flour, too

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 package quick-rising yeast

1 c. hot water

1 T. oil

¼ c. thousand island dressing*

6-8 oz. thin sliced corned beef

4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese

1 c. sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry

1 egg white, beaten

Caraway seeds

 

Set aside 1 cup of the flour. Combine remaining flour with the other dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in water and oil and gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle about 16 x 8. Spread dressing down center middle of dough. Top with meat slices, cheese and sauerkraut. Cut one-inch wide strips of dough from filling to edge on both sides. It will sort of look like fringe. Alternating sides, fold strips up and over the filling at an angle. Carefully lift loaf onto greased baking sheet and place at an angle. Cover with a towel and place sheet on top of a roasting pan half-filled with simmering water for 15 minutes. Brush with egg white and top with seeds. Bake in a preheated 400-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

* You can make your own Thousand Island Dressing by combining equal parts of ketchup, mayo and sweet pickle relish.

Note: The variations for this bread are almost endless. Some favorite combinations are ham and Swiss with mustard, roast beef and cheddar, chicken, broccoli and cheese, Spinach with ricotta or feta and onions, pizza, assorted fillings. You get the idea. Use your imagination and have fun. Just be careful not to overfill, or the bread will be hard to move, use fillings that aren’t too runny and always use cold fillings.

 

If you want to use regular yeast use warm, rather than hot water. Also, don’t let dough rise over boiling water. After kneading cover dough and let rise 45 minutes. Punch down and assemble as in original recipe. Cover with a towel and let rise until dough looks puffy, about 40 minutes. Bake as directed above. These breads can also be frozen.

Here are more pics from yesterday. Great job, Courtney!!!

Roast beef and provolone

Ready to rise

Spinach and Artichoke

All Done!!

 

 

 

“Chili” Stew

Chili Stew

This would be a great dish to serve on Superbowl Sunday. I  made this dish the other night. A couple of friends had stopped by, so I invited them to stay for dinner. They liked it a lot.  It’s a great option when time is short.

I love this recipe, but didn’t quite know what to call it. It wasn’t quite a traditional chili, so I decided to call it Chili Stew.

It comes together in no time, and still has plenty of flavor. Of course, you can cook it longer, if you have the time. You can also move it to a crock pot, once the meat and veggies have been sauteed and drained.

It can be served as is, or topped with cheese, sour cream or chopped onions.  Perfect dinner for a “chili” night.

 

 

Chili Stew

1 pound ground beef, pork or turkey – or a combination

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small sweet pepper, chopped

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 (16 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 c. corn, fresh, frozen or canned (drained)

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 T. minced garlic

1 t. paprika

1 t. cumin

1 t. oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

hot sauce to taste

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook the meat, onion and pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 4-5.

Super Crispy Chicken Wings

Crispy Chicken Wings

These wings are super crispy, even though they are baked in the oven, not fried. It may have to do with a rather unusual ingredient.

I got this recipe from a local television show and have made it a couple of times now. Thanks, David Moss, for this one. The wings are coated with a little salt and baking powder.

Yes, baking powder. I am not sure how it works, but the combination leaves you with wings that are super crisp on the outside and juicy inside. The only thing I changed from the original recipe, is that I use a little less salt.

Once the wings are done cooking, you can toss them in whatever sauce you like.

 

Super Crispy Chicken Wings 

3-4 lbs. chicken wings

2 T. baking powder

1 t. salt

Hot sauce and butter- or assorted dipping sauces

Cut wings into three pieces- discard tips, or use to make stock. Pat the wings dry. This step is important. The dry skin helps them to get crisp.  Place baking powder and salt in a plastic bag and add the wing pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat evenly. Continue until all the wings are coated.  Place wings on a rack that is placed on a baking sheet. Bake wings in a preheated 250 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn the heat up to 425 and continue cooking 45 minutes more. Remove wings from oven. You can melt butter, mix with some hot sauce and toss the wings in that mixture, or just serve the wings with your favorite sauce.

The Art of Biscuits

Biscuits Supreme

Biscuits are easy to make. They really are. Fast, too. You can mix up  a batch of biscuits in the time it takes the oven to preheat.  Yet, I know  people who seem to struggle with them. The other night, a friend and I were talking about the secret to  a light and flaky biscuit.

So what goes wrong? How do you make light, flaky biscuits every time?

For the moment I’ll assume you have a decent recipe. There are a lot of great biscuit recipes out there. I know people that have treasured family recipes. Biscuits that have been made the same way for generations.

Assuming also, that the baking powder is fresh*, there has to be some other reason that some folks just seem to struggle with biscuits.

The problem is – more than likely- over-mixing the dough. When I talk to someone who tells me that their  biscuits are always heavy or tough I first ask about how they are put together.

Once the dry ingredients have been mixed and the fat cut in, there is just liquid to be added. I prefer to chill whatever fat I am using.

At this point the dough should be handled just enough to hold together. A light hand means a light biscuit. The same is true for making scones. The more you knead the dough, handle the dough and roll the dough, the less flaky biscuits become.

Don’t treat biscuit dough the way you would a yeast-based dinner roll. The two are very different in how they are handled. Yeast-based doughs benefit from kneading and “working” the dough. Biscuits are the opposite.

Even when cutting out the biscuits, it will help if you cut  them out as close together as you can. That way you have fewer scraps to re-roll. Every time you roll the dough out- it becomes a little tougher.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite biscuits. They are light and very flaky. Is there anything better than a fresh, warm biscuit with some butter?

Biscuits Supreme

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
½ t. salt
½ c. cold butter, shortening or coconut oil – you can even use lard
2/3 c. milk

Stir together dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add milk all at once. Stir until dough sticks together and knead on lightly floured surface 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat to ½ inch thickness. Cut with 2-21/2 inch biscuit cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 10-12.

*If your baking powder might be old, you can test it. Place a couple of tablespoons of boiling water in a cup. Add a teaspoon, or two, of baking powder. The mixture should bubble vigorously. If there are no bubbles, or very few bubbles, you might want to get a new container of baking powder.

Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Pecans

Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Pecans

If you haven’t had broccoli rabe before, maybe you should give it a try.  I am always surprised at how many people have never tried broccoli rabe- also known as rapini.

This versatile vegetable consists of stems, leaves and small florets, with a strong broccoli flavor.

 

I think perhaps the sometimes strong, even bitter flavor, might turn people away from trying it. I enjoy that bitterness. If you don’t, you can temper it by blanching the broccoli rabe.

 

That’s what I did with this dish. I also paired the broccoli rabe with pasta and some cheese which also mellows out the flavor.

 

Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Pecans

1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box uncooked pasta
½ c. pecans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Return the water to a boil, and stir in the pasta. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite. Drain well in a colander set in the sink. While the pasta is cooking, cook and stir the pecans in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set the nuts aside, add the olive oil, and reduce heat to low. Stir in the garlic, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook 3 minutes to reheat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then stir in the drained pasta and walnuts. Toss with Parmesan cheese before serving. Serves 4.

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe

 

Baking Bread On New Day Cleveland

Here is my latest appearance on New Day Cleveland. Baking bread is easy- even baking with whole grains is not hard to do.

Baking bread with The Charmed Kitchen

New Release: