Coconut Cake and Boiled White Icing

coconut cake

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I love butter cream icing; but when my son Benjamin requests coconut cake for his birthday, it’s not butter cream that I use. Many years ago I originally saw the recipe for boiled white icing in an old edition of the Settlement Cookbook .  It looked rather complicated; but one day I experimented and found that it makes mounds of a creamy and delicious white icing. Over the years this icing has become the topping for not only my coconut cakes, but numerous […]

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Coconut Macaroons elevated to Flavortown

Sweet, crunchy and gooey chocolate coconut macaroons with Maldon salt

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Recently at a friends party  I tasted a  coconut macaroon  from the dessert tray. My favorite candy as a child was the Mounds bar, so; anytime I see a sweet made with coconut, I’m in. I naturally asked for the recipe and prepared to, gather  the ingredients as well as a couple of extra ingredients  I felt would really push this confection over the top. I finished making them as my husband was ready to leave for work.  Naturally he  asked to […]

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Lunch/Brunch

Avocado, Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Corn Salad withBasil

Avocado, Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Corn Salad with Basil

Today can only be described as beautiful. The house was filled with family celebrating the baby naming of our fifth granddaughter. As with most joyous occasions, food is usually a focal point; and today was no exception. After gathering in the family room and participating in a short naming ceremony everyone was hungry and ready to eat.

One of my favorite activities is planning a menu when I entertain. For this occasion I thought about who was coming and what were their favorite foods. My youngest daughter and the mother of the granddaughter we honored requested a french toast souffle. So the menu now had its first dish.

corn salad

Corn Salad with Basil

The family arrived at noon so the menu  included lunch slash brunch items. The following is what we enjoyed today.

  • french toast souffle accompanied with blueberry syrup and/or maple syrup
  • white fish salad with bagel chips
  • avocado, hearts of palm and artichoke hearts salad dressed in a lemon vinaigrette
  • summer squash souffle with sour cream garnish
  • fresh corn salad
  • lox, bagel cream cheese, sliced tomato, onion and capers
  • deli platter of assorted meats with condiments and sliced Italian bread
  • sliced sour pickles
  • pick up desserts
Smoked Salmon Platter

Smoked Salmon Platter

Whitefish Salad

Whitefish Salad

French Toast Souffle recipe

Medley of Papaya, Kiwi, Mango and Orange

Medley of Papaya, Kiwi, Mango and Orange

My daughter’s mother-in-law made these fabulous dipped  pretzel sticks as well as an array of pick up goodies that included dark and blonde brownies, Jewish biscotti, better known as mandel bread and some delicious raspberry squares. I made a slew of chocolate meringues for a gluten free choice as well as a mini dessert  with yellow cake topped with strawberries topped with whipped cream.

Mandel bread, Brownies and Raspberry Squares

Mandel bread, Brownies and Raspberry Squares

Sugared Pretzel Sticks

Sugared Pretzel Sticks

Yes the day was wonderful, filled with good food and a very beautiful family!

 

 

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brussel sprouts

Brussels sprouts

As a child I hated Brussels sprouts. They looked just like cabbage and whenever my mother cooked cabbage, the house smelled awful. Consequently, in my mind, if smells bad…it tastes bad.

In the last few years I have discovered two recipes that take my thoughts on this vegetable to the delicious level. In fact, until my husband said, enough with the Brussels sprouts, I served them frequently. I now even make them for special occasions.

Recipe #1

  • 3 C Brussels sprouts
  • 1 C white wine (not sweet)
  • 1 C olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper

Cut the tough ends off the sprouts and cut them in half. Pour oil and wine in a glass baking dish and place halved sprouts cut side up into dish.Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper over all. Cover with plastic wrap leaving an opening on one quarter of the dish and place in microwave on high for 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness. Absolutely delicious!

Recipe #2

  • 3 C Brussels sprouts
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Dijon or whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut Brussels sprouts in half and place on baking sheet. Mix together olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture over Brussels sprouts and mix around mix well to ensure Brussels sprouts are coated evenly. Place lemon halves on baking sheet as well. Roast Brussels sprouts for 35-45 minutes until desired crispiness.

Adapted

 

 

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Easiest Way to Peel Garlic

Easy peel

Easy peel

Most cooks use a ton of garlic in their cooking; and if they don’t shame, shame shame! Garlic is good for the body and it makes so many foods taste better. A good cook always has fresh garlic on hand.
Here is the easiest way I have found to peel it and always have a fresh amount of it in the fridge.
My husband first told my about this method and have used it ever since. There is no muss, no fuss… and no smelly garlic hands afterward!
Find two empty leftover jars. In the first put in a whole bulb of garlic. Secure the lid on the jar tight and shake, shake, shake. Seriously, pretend you are dancing to music and walk around shaking this jar as fast and as hard as you can.
After a few minutes you will find that the bulb is now a mass of cloves and the paper has come off the cloves.
One more step and you’re finished. Empty that jar onto a clean counter and separate the cloves from the paper. Transfer your peeled garlic to the second jar; secure the lid tightly and refrigerate.
The end result is fresh garlic for a month. Now, how long did that take?

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Ten Years after Katrina

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the devastating storm known as Katrina. Through a great deal of help from outsiders and inhabitants alike, the city of New Orleans is once again a thriving community. In fact it is now a better place to live, because of an unexpected horrific tragedy that gave a city the opportunity to rebuild and remake itself.

Being raised in New Orleans and personally touched by the storm I consequently wrote my Mother’s story about her days before and after the storm. Her story has a happy ending, unlike that of so many others. It is important that we be reminded that tragedy can befall a city and its inhabitants so unexpectedly; and how we should never take anything for granted.

My Mother’s story is archived in the Jewish Women’s Archives, Katina’s Jewish Voices oral history collection. It is a story of her inner will and strength and an interesting read.

My Mother’s Story

It was the Wednesday after Katrina hit and the levees had destroyed the city. The TV had shown pictures of Memorial Hospital. The commentator had said that the hospital had been evacuated and that the hospital was empty. My mother had needed a procedure done and she had been admitted to the hospital on the preceding Saturday. When the word came on Sunday that the city must evacuate, my mothers’ doctor, had told the family she would be more comfortable and safer at the hospital versus taking a long road trip.

Our family had dispersed all over the south and after the storm the children of, Margaret Buring were calling each other frantically asking, “Have you heard from her?” The four of us waited and waited; but, by Wednesday afternoon, we started to really worry. Where was our Mother? Surely if the hospital had been evacuated, she would have reached at least one of us.

We called every hospital we could find from Texas to Florida and heard the same refrain, “we are supposed to get evacuees, but so far none have come in!” My brother-in-law even got Michael Brown (the head of Fema) on the phone and he couldn’t help. Panic started to set in.

All day Thursday we heard nothing… and then, at six that evening, the phone rang. I ranto get it and the gentleman at the other end said “This is Delta airlines calling. I said, Yes sir, what can I do for you?” After what seemed like the longest pause and in a voice that was filled with pride, he says, “We Have Your Mother!” I screamed, rushed to the car and called my siblings.

I spied her sitting on a bench. My first thought was that she looked like a Holocaust survivor. My mother was a woman who prided herself on always looking immaculate and here sat our Mother with disheveled hair wearing nothing but shorty pajamas, socks that Delta Airlines had given her and the look of an eighty plus year old woman that said “I am a survivor! I jumped out of the car to hug her and she whispered in my ear, “you have a very smart mother!’

And smart she was as she told us the grueling story of her survival. She had been in the hospital for five days with temperatures reaching 106 degrees and no food, other then water. How all the patients had been moved to higher floors using the stairwell to avoid rising waters. She said that she slept in the hallways with people screaming all around her. She spoke of the amazing doctors and nurses and volunteers who had stayed behind to take care of the infirmed.

Finally on Thursday morning she was told that boats had finally come to the hospital to evacuate the patients. She gathered the only belongings she could carry and put them in a small plastic bag. They consisted of her wallet, her eyeglasses and her medicine. She had on shorty pajamas, a matching robe and a pair of slippers. Besides her plastic bag she had her walker. As the line moved forward to get on the boat, the security guard told the patients, “You are not allowed to take anything on the boat except yourselves. Every person dropped their little plastic bags. Now she had nothing, but herself and her wits.

She did keep her walker. The doors opened and she stepped into the dirty water almost to her waist. She was lifted on to the boat. As it moved down what used to be a double lane street with a pretty median with trees and flowers , she thought now I am safe. No sooner had this thought crossed her mind, when the person driving the boat said that she would have to get off. The water at that point was not high enough to sustain the weight of the boat and its passengers. She walked to higher ground though the murky waters for three long blocks. She thought to herself, I am not going to die here. I want to see my children again. She lost her house shoes and discarded her robe as it was sopping wet and grimy.

She found an ambulance and was driven to the airport. She was told that the Air Force was sending planes for all evacuees. A lady lent her some coins to use the phone to call us, but nothing worked. She walked over to the information desk and asked when would the planes be coming? The woman had no idea, but told her that the president of Delta Airlines had flown in a group of Delta employee volunteers from Atlanta that day. His plane was leaving in ten minutes and taking back evacuees.

My Mother walked as quickly as she could to the gate and saw that the line to get on the plane was far out the door. She spied a man in a wheelchair at the back of the line and approached him. “Sir, I know you want to get on this plane, she said, “Stick with me!” She escorted him to the front of the line and entered the area for handicapped patients. Needless to say, our mother got on that plane!

I was fortunate enough to spend the last year of my Mothers life together with her in Atlanta. Last weekend my family was here to celebrate the marriage of my oldest son. It was also the anniversary of the date my Mother passed away one year ago. To honor her we all went to services on Saturday morning. As I waited at the synagogue for the services to begin I was telling a total stranger about my mothers Katrina story and he summed it up beautifully.: ‘no matter what trials G-d puts before us the human spirit will prevail’.

G-d rests her soul. We miss her terribly…..

A number of women’s organizations are commemorating the tenth anniversary of Katrina in New Orleans on June 16th.. Participating in the event is the New Orleans section, National Council of Jewish Women and the New Orleans chapter of Hadassah. Joining these two is the Jewish Women’s Archive. This organization chronicles and transmits the rich legacy of Jewish women and their contributions to our world.

The seminar will explore the impact of women’s leadership during the hurricane and beyond, and assess the state of Jewish women’s leadership in New Orleans today. There will be a screening of excerpts from the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Katrina’s Jewish Voices oral history collection.

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Mini Tomato Tarts

 

Mini Tomato Tart

Mini Tomato Tart

 

I first tasted a tomato pie at a favorite southern diner. With a party on the horizon, I started to experiment with making this pie. My husband said that it was really good and when one of my daughters tried it, I had her seal of approval. I knew I had a winner.

For the upcoming party I needed to convert my recipe to appetizer size and so I developed a mini tomato tart. It was simple enough after buying a ready made box of pie dough

Recipe

  • 1 box prepared pie dough (prefer Pillsbury)
  • 6 slices cooked crisp bacon strips crumbled
  • 1 bunch fresh basil strips
  • 1 C chopped tomatoes
  • 1 C sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 C Provolone cheese shredded

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut and place prepared dough in mini muffin pans.
  3. Prebake dough until light brown and cool.
  4. Layer ingredients in order given.
  5. Place in oven until cheese is fully melted and gooey.

 

 

 

 

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Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

Black and White Cookies

I haven’t baked in a while; but, on a recent holiday I was itching to make a dessert I had never made before. My husband has loved black and white cookies since he was a little boy and on this occasion I chose to surprise him.

I must say I found many good recipes; but I settled on one adapted from the fabulous New York food emporium, Zabar’s.

The cookies are large and I placed them in an airtight container after they were completely cool. I planned on icing them the next day. They got a wee bit too soft for me, so I re-baked them for another ten minutes to crisp them up a tad. The cookie is not a hard crisp cookie to begin with: it is more like a semi hard cake; but hard, soft or in-between they were a hit!

Cookie Recipe

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 -2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Icing

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk, vanilla and, lemon extract.

Combine cake flour and all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually blend into the creamed mixture.

Drop tablespoons of the dough at least 2 inches apart on prepared sheet.

Bake until edges begin to brown; checking in 10 minutes.

Cool completely.

 

To make icing:

Place confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl.

Mix in boiling water one tablespoon at a time until mixture is thick and spreadable.

Transfer half of the frosting to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water.

Stir in chocolate.

Warm mixture, stirring frequently, until chocolate melts.

Remove from heat.

Let both the chocolate and the white icing set up, before using to get the proper spreading consistency.

With a small spatula or the back of a small spoon,, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with white frosting.

Set on wax paper until frosting hardens.

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Redford or DiCaprio?

This weekend we are going to see the Great Gatsby. I’m wondering how different DiCaprio will play Gatsby versus Robert Redford. Redford is close to eighty; so this remake is a long time coming.

My daughter Lilly saw it the other night at a special screening and she emailed me the following about her evening. Wish I had been invited!  She wrote, “As an elite member of “The Gilt Groupe” I was treated as a V.I.P. this past Wednesday evening at a premiere screening of “The Great Gatsby.” If you don’t know what The Gilt Groupe is, you are in for a treat.

Gilt provides their members with today’s top designer labels at up to a 60% off retail. Becoming a member is free and you are notified daily of deals on apparel and accessories for women, men, kids and home goods as well as exclusive local happenings and events and one-of-a-kind travel packages.

Gilt is currently expanding their market and trying to establish a more visible presence in the Atlanta area. I was one of the lucky ones and was treated to a ticket to an exclusive advance screening of “The Great Gatsby”. It was a private pre-screening preceded by a wine and beer reception.  I was instructed to wear a Gatsby themed costume and maybe win a prize.

Unfortunately, I came straight from work, so didn’t have the opportunity to get a costume together; but many people went all out! First, second and third place winners all received prizes which I believe included a gift certificate to a local spa. It was an all-around wonderful experience. The screening took place at one of my favorite theaters ( lazy boy recliners) and the movie was in 3D.  Between the movie, a little libation and sitting and visiting with a great friend, the event was a great ‘hump day treat”. Thank you to the Gilt Groupe.

To find out more information about The Gilt Groupe, visit their website at: http://www.gilt.com

 

 

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My Father’s Favorite Passover Dish

As we approach Passover I can’t help but think about my wonderful father and how much he is missed. It has been over ten years since he passed away and every time Passover rolls around I am reminded of his favorite dish.

My father did not cook. I do not remember him in the kitchen ever, except during this eight day holiday where he only made one dish. He made it every day for breakfast and all four of his children couldn’t wait till it was ready. I served it to my kids growing up and they loved it as well.

The health conscious world that we live in may not appreciate it; but I was raised with it and it is delicious.

The Fried Matzo Sandwich

  • 9 pieces of Matzo
  • Container of Whipped Cream Cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 Eggs
  1. Carefully break each piece of matzo into 3 equal pieces.
  2. Spread a thick layer (1/8 to ¼ inch) of cream cheese on three pieces and cover each with three more pieces making a sandwich.
  3. Break these into two pieces.
  4. Spread and cover the remaining matzo and break into pieces.
  5. Beat the eggs into a wide bowl.
  6. Dip the sandwich pieces in the egg and soak and cover both sides.
  7. Melt enough butter in a wide skillet to cover the entire skillet area.
  8. Cook the cream cheese sandwiches on both sides until outside matzo is browned and cream cheese is melted and hot.
  9. Drain on paper towel and enjoy while hot. 
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