Chocolate Rugelach

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We may have mentioned it once or twice, or a million times, but Selim definitely has the sweet tooth in this family. I could eat chips & dip for the rest of my life, but Selim could easily subsist on sweets, especially chocolate! We like to joke that he has a separate dessert stomach. It’s amazing – he can be stuffed after a dinner out or something big that we cooked at home, and then not five minutes later, he’s asking for the dessert menu or if we have any chocolate hidden in the house.

So when I decided to attempt rugelach for our Hanukkah dinner this year, I browsed a lot of recipes. I personally was enticed by the many recipes with nuts and cinnamon sugar, but I knew I had to make chocolate for Selim. I decided to stick with the more American preparation, that generally includes cream cheese in the dough, as opposed to a more yeasty Israeli preparation.

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Chocolate Rugelach

(Adapted from the following sites- here & here & here!)
Ingredients: 
  • 4oz  butter, softened
  • 4oz regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cups flour (+ additional for dusting)
  • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
Instructions: 
  1. Allow the butter and cream cheese to sit out so they soften.
  2. Combine the butter, cream cheese, regular sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream all of these ingredients together.
  3. Slowly add the flour in while the mixer is running.
  4. Once well-combined, turn out onto a floured counter and knead into a ball. Divide the ball into two equal pieces and flatten slightly into round discs.
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar with the cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together an egg with the remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. After the dough has chilled, remove each disc, one at a time from the refrigerator to work on.
  10. Roll out into a large circle. Sprinkle with the sugar-spice mixture, leaving a slight edge. (Remember to only use 1/2 of the mixture – or make more, whatever…!)
  11. Now top with chopped chocolate.
  12. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough like a pizza, into 8 pieces. Roll each one up, starting with the wider edge.
  13. Place the rolled up rugelach on a lined cookie sheet. Brush with cinnamon egg wash.
  14. Repeat steps 9 through 13 with each piece of dough. Keep dough refrigerated until using/ready to bake.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After removing from the oven, let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 24

 

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Potato Latkes

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If there’s any dish that just screams ‘Hanukkah,’ it’s potato latkes. Latkes are traditional Hanukkah fare not for the dish itself, but for the oil its fried in. Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights; it celebrates the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight days. Over 2000 years ago, the city of Jerusalem was under Syrian-Greek control. Specifically, the king Antiochus IV Epiphanes reversed the rule of his father in allowing Jews to practice their religion and began persecuting the Jewish people. Their religion was banned, they were ordered to worship traditional Greek gods, many were massacred, and the Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated. A Jewish rebellion broke out, led by the Maccabees, which eventually drove the Syrian-Greeks out of Jerusalem. Once this occurred, the Jews set about cleaning and restoring the Temple. Once the Temple was rededicated, there was only a small amount of oil, enough that would keep the menorah lit for one day. The flame was supposed to stay lit continuously, but no one knew how the oil would last. The miracle was that the oil lasted for eight days, until the supply could be replenished. Jewish sages of the time proclaimed this miracle and thus created the holiday of Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights!

For this recipe, I used Tori Avey’s recipe and tips & tricks to try to make this the best batch possible. The goal is to have a crispy exterior with a warm and soft interior. Traditionally, you would top your Hanukkah latkes with applesauce or sour cream, but since we ate our with the delicious Wine & Honey Brisket that had plenty of pan sauce in which to dip the latkes if needed!

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Potato Latkes

(Adapted from toriavey.com)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes (~1lb)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal/crushed matzo crackers
  • 2 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Few turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Oil
Instructions: 
  1. Peel and then grate the potatoes. Submerge the potato shreds in cold water while working.
  2. Quarter the onion and then run it through a food processor.
  3. Drain the potato shreds through a doubled cheesecloth.
  4. Add the onion to the potato in the cheesecloth. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible.
  5. Combine the potato and onion with the matzo meal, the egg, salt, and pepper.
  6. Pour enough oil into your pan to form a layer ~1/8th inch thick. Goal temperature for frying = 360-375 degrees – you can check with a candy thermometer if you have one.
  7. Form a small patty with your hands, roughly 3 tbsp worth. Test this first one to make sure your oil is a good temperature. Should be 2-3 minutes per side, yielding crispy brown edges with a soft interior.
  8. Set the latkes on a wire rack to cool, with paper towels underneath. Serve while still warm.
Makes 8-10 latkes

 

Hanukkah Feast 2017

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Today is the Friday of Hanukkah for 2017. We’re not Jewish, but always have thought that this blog was a great excuse to cook and sample foods from all of the world’s countries, cultures, and religions… Holidays just seem to be the logical place to start.

Selim loves Jewish food. He grew up in Cleveland, which has a melting pot of European immigrants and their descendants. Lucky for Clevelanders, that means that their city is full of a variety of delicious foods. I think he mostly loves Jewish food for it’s delicious desserts, but those are just a gateway. I’ve been working nights and off-shifts this month, meaning that there a quite a few days when Selim’s gone all day. Which has allowed me to cook all day and have quite the surprise waiting for him when he got home this afternoon! We usually do pizzas or something easy out of the freezer on Friday night, so I think tonight’s dinner will be quite the upgrade.

Check out what I’ve made:

Wine & Honey Brisket

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Potato Latkes

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Chocolate Rugelach

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Hope you enjoy! And…

Happy Hanukkah! 

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Challah

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So the other evening, I tried to flip the ceiling fan on (after Selim told me not to because he thought it was broken, but I forgot ok?!), and instead blew a fuse. I tried to flip the breaker back and it sent blue sparks at me. So I quit doing that. I may not be the most savvy girl in the world when it comes to things like that, but I know that blue sparks + no electricity = call an electrician.

What does this have to do with challah? Everything and nothing. Unfortunately for my TV and internet addicted self, the fuse I blew covered our whole living room – where our TV and internet router are. Sure we could’ve moved them I guess, but it just seems sad if you can’t live without the Netflix and Hulu for a whole day. So instead of wasting my life on mindless TV, I baked instead!

I’d been thinking about challah because Passover was last week (and because it’s the best bread ever). I honestly never thought about making it before because its gorgeous appearance made it seem out of my league in terms of baking ability. Plus I figured the Jewish grandmas had some secret that they weren’t sharing with the rest of us. Turns out I was wrong – even I can make gorgeous challah! It’s actually way less complicated than I thought and you probably have all the ingredients on hand. (I did, hence spur of the moment baking afternoon.)

Since I don’t have a Jewish grandma handy, I got this recipe from one of my favorite corners of the internet – The Kitchn. Check them out if you want to learn how to do anything culinary related. Their step by step guide to making challah worked perfectly for me and is nearly verbatim what I’ll be sharing in this recipe. Thanks guys!! 👋🏼

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Challah

Ingredients: 
  • 2 teaspoons active dry  yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 cups flour + extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup sugar + a pinch
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • A third egg, divided into yolk & white
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
Instructions: 
  1. Dissolve the yeast into the water. Stir and then allow to sit until yeast causes frothing on the top.
  2. Meanwhile, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt) in the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining wet ingredients except for the egg white (eggs, egg yolk, oil).
  4. Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the dry ones. Begin to mix together with a large spoon. Follow with the water/yeast.
  5. Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer. Turn on low-medium and knead for 6+ minutes. [If the dough is to sticky, slowly add flour by the teaspoon. If too dry, do the same with water.]
  6. Oil a large bowl. Place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for two hours.
  7. Now that the dough has doubled in size, divide it into six equal chunks.
  8. Roll each piece of dough out into long ropes.
  9. Lay the six dough ropes next to each other. Pinch the ends of all six pieces together at the top. Then braid together, taking the right-most strand and pulling it over the nearest two strands, under the next, over the remaining two, and then laying it down at the far left. OVER two – UNDER one – OVER two. (Check out The Kitchn’s lovely pictorial in their post for a visual!) Once you can go no further, pinch the ends together.
  10. Sprinkle dough with a smidge of flour. Place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat if you have one). Re-cover with your damp towel and let sit for another hour.
  11. Brush the dough generously with the leftover egg white.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes. When done, the challah will have a gorgeous deep brown crust and be warm and fluffy on the inside.
Makes a large loaf.

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