Thursday, November 17, 2011

Matzo Crack

I saw this recipe for Matzo toffee and felt like it was easy enough to try at least once.  Any kind of candy recipe that is known as "Matzo Crack" has my attention.  Easy and addictive?  Nice.  Husband approval?  Extra nice.  Good enough that husband okays it for a work bake sale?  Winner!

The recipe is originally from Marcy Goldman, then by David Lebovitz, then by Smitten Kitchen.  I used David Lebovitz's recipe cuz it didn't require as much chocolate.  I made two batches which was perfect for one box of Matzo (which typically has 10 pieces of Matzo).  Thanks, David!  

Chocolate Covered Matzoh ToffeeMakes approximately 30 pieces of candy
This recipe is adapted from Marcy Goldman of, whose latest book is A Passion For Baking. It’s super-simple and requires no fancy thermometer, equipment, or ingredients. If you can’t get matzoh, use plain crackers such as saltines instead and omit the additional salt in the recipe.
4 to 6 sheets unsalted matzohs
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) semisweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
1 cup (80g) toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet (approximately 11 x 17″, 28 x 42cm) completely with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2. Line the bottom of the sheet with matzoh, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
3. In a 3-4 quart (3-4l) heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matzoh, spreading with a heatproof spatula.
4. Put the pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F (175C) degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but make sure it’s not burning every once in a while. If it is in spots, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 325F (160C), then replace the pan.
5. Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula.
6. If you wish, sprinkle with toasted almonds (or another favorite nut, toasted and coarsely-chopped), a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, or roasted cocoa nibs.
Let cool completely, the break into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. It should keep well for about one week.
Note: If making for passover, omit the vanilla extract or find a kosher brand.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I was trying to think of a good snack to eat during a football game and the Eng brothers' Spinach Artichoke Dip came to mind.  This isn't a healthy dish (you'll see when you read it) but at least it has spinach and artichokes!  Warning though: if you happen to reheat it, it's gonna be oily.  I would just make sure that you have enough people to eat it all on the first pass.  Between 4 of us (including two preggos) we got through 3/4 of it.  

I made it in an 8x8 glass pan so we had to increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes for it to heat properly.  Thanks to Scott for writing down the recipe and making notes on variations.  

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts
1 8 oz package frozen chopped cooked spinach, defrosted
1 8 oz jar real mayonaise (no Miracle Whip!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 2-cup package shredded jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Drain artichokes. Cut off all remaining leaves, to get ONLY the heart meat of the artichokes. Finely chop artichoke hearts. Drain spinach.
3. Mix artichoke hearts, spinach, mayonaise, parmesan, and 1 1/2 cup jack cheese in bowl. Spread mixture in tin pie pan. Cover top with remaining jack cheese.
4. Cover with foil and bake 15-18 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with unsalted corn tortilla chips.

If you don't want it that cheesy, take out 1/2 cup of jack cheese. Unsalted corn tortilla chips are absolutely the best chips to serve this with. Regular tortilla chips are a far second. Sourdough bread slices are good too. Plain crackers can be used if no suitable substitute can be found. I have tried this with fresh spinach that I steamed. It worked fine, but was more work. I have not tried this with fresh artichokes or low-fat anything. And always try to use real ingredients. That means no processed cheese, or mayonaise substitutes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beef in Black Pepper Sauce

I love Chinese food but I think it's one of the hardest cuisines to cook because people generally don't write down ingredients or techniques.  Plus, there are so many different kinds of dishes within the genre, and there can be different variations.

Thankfully OTHER bloggers are skilled at developing recipes for Chinese dishes.  This Beef in Black Pepper Sauce totally rocked the other day- the beef was tender, it was peppery, and it was great with angel hair pasta.  I think it'd be awesome with chow fun noodles or just plain rice, too.  I only had time to marinate it for an hour (I used sirloin) but it was enough time to be tender and flavorful.

Thanks for Raymund of Ang Sarap for the recipe!

Beef in Black Pepper Sauce

600g Beef fillet, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large green capsicum, sliced
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup water
peanut oil
1. Marinate beef in 2 tbsp light soy sauce, Chinese wine, Worcestershire sauce, corn flour, 1/2 tbsp black pepper and baking soda for at least 2 hours.
2. Using a wok in high heat add peanut oil and toss in the beef and brown on all sides, this will take roughly 1 minute in a really hot wok.
3. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Add in the onions, remaining black pepper and green capsicums and stir fry for 2 more minutes
5. Add water and remaining light soy sauce then season with salt if needed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A side note

I think I'm a restless cook.  As much as I like tried and true recipes, it feels like the culinary world is too vast to stick to what I know.  W and I come across this dilemma (okay, really, first world problem) when we eat out in Boston, NYC or LA/OC- do we go to the places we know and love or try new places?  Should we make a dish we've made before or try something different?

After next week I'm not going to have the luxury of deciding what recipe to try.  It'll just be survival mode- what will give me sustenance with minimal preparation?  I won't be able to spend an hour at the grocery store or go to multiple grocery stores in one day.  I won't be able to make three course meals for friends.  No more fussy baking projects that require hours with the oven.  Someday that will change back and I'll have time to cook- and not only will I get to cook and bake, but I'll get to share it with someone new.  Hopefully she'll feel loved by the food we make for her.