Saturday, April 11, 2009

April 11th, part 2: food is better than the book

April 11th, part two. The food is better than the book.

Review of Gordon Dahlquist’s Glass books of the dream eaters. Not a bad book, but not particularly good either. If you were stuck on a desert island with nothing to do, it would be a good, long, book to have.

The Passover cooking is going strong, read on for recipes for a spicy north African Beef Stew, deliciously light Chocolate Walnut cookies, and Zuchini & Tomato gratin.

Moroccan Beef Stew (adapted from Faye Levy’s 1000 Jewish Recipes)

2 lbs cubed stewing beef
2-3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
Up to 3 cups water
4 tbsp minced garlic
Good pinch hot pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper
2 lbs red potatoes
1 large (or two small) sweet pepper peppers, chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat, and brown beef on all sides. Remove beef, and add the onions to the pan. Cook onion till softened, 5-7 minutes. Add beef back to pan, stir in garlic, hot pepper, cumin, paprika and salt & pepper. Add enough water to barely cover the beef, stir, and bring to a boil. Simmer over low-medium heat for 90 minutes, adding more water if needed. Cube potatoes, and add to stew, pushing them down into the liquid. Simmer another 30 minuets, then stir in sweet peppers, cooking into they soften, 5-10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Chocolate Walnut Cookies off the interwebs, somewhere.

2 1/2 cups walnuts
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweeted baking cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. finely chop the walnuts. if you are using a food processor, be careful because you don't want them pulverized, just chopped. toast the walnuts in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, and let cool. in a large bowl mix sugar, cocoa and salt. stir in walnuts. fold in vanilla and egg whites, stiring until the mixture has moistened, and darkened. do not beat or overmix, you just want it blended. Drop batter by teaspoonful onto baking sheets, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until tops are glossy and begins to crackle. let cool on baking sheets, then remove to racks. makes about 3 dozen cookies.

i was afraid these cookies would be overly rich and heavy. Nope. light, airy, and a nice balance of bitter chocolate to sweetness.

Zucchini & Tomato Gratin

I think I made this last year. it's from my French Provincial cookbook.

2lbs zuchini
3-4 tbsp butter or oil
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tbsp basil
1 cup matzah meal or breadcrums
4-5 tbsp grated Greyere, Danish Fontina, Swiss, or other swiss-like firm white oily cheese

Slice zucchini thinly, and layer in a colander with generous sprinkles of salt between each layer. don't be chinsy with the salt, it's important because it leeches the moisture out of the zucchini, and you'll be washing the salt off later anyways. Let zucchini sit for 1 hour, then rinse with cool water, and dry the slices on paper towels. Taste a peice. see? not as salty as you'd expect, and crispier and crunchier than unsalted zucchini.

Preheat oven to 400, heat the butter/oil in a skillet over medium heat. in batches, sautee the zuchini until browned. remove the zucchini from the skillet. add the tomatoes, garlic, basil and salt and pepper, and bring mixture to a boil. simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it has thickened a bit. Stir the zuchhini back into the skillet, and mix everything together. Pour into a baking dish. in a small bowl blend the matzah meal and the cheese, and sprinkle it over the zuchhini. dot with butter, and bake for 25 minutes.

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