Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recipe: Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise is one of the 5 basic sauces in cooking, the others being Bechamel, Veloute, Brown, and Tomato. It is known as being very hard to get right, requiring a lot of patience and a sauce that absolutely cannot be rushed, but by G-d if you get it right, it's culinary perfection. My mother teaching me to make Hollandaise is one of my earliest memories. My Grammy taught her when she was a girl. Grammy's recipe is by far the best I have ever tasted, better even than any restaurant I've been to. Despite its rumored difficulty, I have managed to perfect my Grammy's recipe into a next to fool proof one. 9 times out of 10 it comes out perfectly and is amazing on Fish, Asparagus, Broccoli, Artichokes, Steamed Potatoes, Eggs Benedict, as a sandwich spread, on a spoon....


Lemon- 1 whole large Lemon's worth of juice
Butter or Margarine- 1 stick (use either real butter or margarine, olive oil spread or Good Start imitation butter DOES NOT WORK!!!)
Egg Yolks- 3 large yolks (I find the best way to separate an egg is to crack it directly into your hand and let the whites slide through your fingers. Once separated make sure to beat the yolks before adding)
Salt- pinch or so to taste

Also need:

Sauce pan

To Prepare:

Now firstly I will say alot of people will tell you you have to use a double broiler (which is basically a saucepan filled with water with a metal bowl floating in it) to make Hollandaise. You can do this if you feel more comfortable. I have in the past, my Mom and Grammy both did, but I do not have metal bowls now so I have learned to make it using only a small non stick sauce pan. They key is VERY VERY LOW HEAT. First set the saucepan on the burner with the stick of Butter or Margarine in it. I like to slice the Butter/Margarine so that it melts faster/more evenly. You want to melt it just to the point that there is no longer any solid but not to the point that it has gone clear. It should still be milky colored. Add Lemon juice and a touch of salt and whisk together. It should taste basically like lemon butter but a nice balance of both, if one or the other is over powering, add a bit more of the one that tastes less. Next add the beaten egg yolk. If I am using the Hollendaise as a dipping sauce, say for Artichokes or something and want a thicker consistancy, I sometimes add an extra yolk, but for a pouring sauce, 3 is fine. Now, in my family there is a running joke that you must first "Emulsify the eggs". This started one Thanksgiving when I was about 8 and I was at the stove making Hollandaise. My aunt (Mom's sister so therefore also trained by my Grammy) was over helping prepare dinner and as I poured the egg into the lemon butter mixture she ran SCREAMING across the kitchen and snatched it out of my hands. I of course was in shock and was like "what did I do??" She replied that I "didn't Emulsify the eggs" and had therefore ruined the Hollandaise. I had no idea what she was talking about as I had never done anything like that before and was subsequently crushed. Emulsifying the eggs apparently means adding a bit of the liquid Butter/Margarine and Lemon mixture to the egg and mixing vigorously BEFORE pouring it into the rest of the Lemmon Butter mixture instead of just pouring the egg straight into the pan and stirring like mad. I have made probably a hundred or so batches of Hollandaise since then and have never once emulsified my eggs and no one has died yet soooo.... Never the less, whenever I am cooking it with my Mom, one or the other of us always remarks on the fact that we forgot to emulsify the eggs. ANYWAYS. Add the beaten egg yolk to the Lemon Butter and whisk vigorously for several minutes over VERY LOW heat. DO NOT be tempted to turn the heat up. As the mixture warms it will begin to thicken. Again, DO NOT turn up the heat in attempts to make it thicken faster. This will cause the egg to cook to quickly and for everything to separate. You will know when it has separated because it no longer is this beautiful yellow custard, it will instead get little grains where the egg has pulled out and the butter will also pull away again. There is no turning back from there, you have to throw everything out and start over. Don't worry if it separates on you the first time, it happens to the best of us. Just grab another Lemon and start over. Once the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency, remove from heat and serve. This is best when it is served immediately so it pretty much needs to be made right before you go to the table, or as close to it as possible. It does not reheat well as it tends to separate when it is reheated. I always use leftovers as a cold sandwich spread, Hello Day after Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches!! So quick recap, LOW LOW heat, stir like crazy, and have a little patience. That's the secret, there you go:)

Recipe: Apple Pear Oatmeal Crumble

This is my fall back dessert as it is not difficult to make and it is always a crowd pleaser. I always make it around this time of year for Rosh Hashanah because of the apples and since it can be made Parve for those keeping Kosher which is great, and it doesn't take long to throw together. Since it is a crumble, it is much easier than the traditional apple pie because you dont have to deal with making the crust (something my Mom has made into an art form and I have never mastered). I love the delicate sweetness of the baked pears mixed with tart apples and the topping is almost like a giant oatmeal cookie. This reminds me of something the little old ladies back home would serve hot with ice cream. Ultimate comfort food.

Disclaimer: I mixed 3 separate recipes for this one and I always seem to make it a bit differently every time. You have to sort of feel out the topping, if it feels to dry, add more Margerine/butter, too wet, more dry ingredients. I have found if you are making this in hot humid weather (Good Morning, Israel), the topping tends to get to sticky. Topping should crumble, not goop.


Tart Pie Apples- 5-7 large apples (I prefer something like Granny Smith) peeled and sliced. I do not chop them small preferring longer medium thickness slices as I think its prettier served that way and less likely to end up like mush.
Pears- 5-7 large pears. Try not to get them TO ripe as when they cook they get very soft. Cut them slightly fatter than the apples as they cook faster. By making them a bit fatter, they will be approximately the same softness when cooked.
Margarine/Butter- 1- 1 1/2 stick, give or take, at room temp (unless its Israel in the summer, then just softened)
White Sugar-1/2 Cup
Brown Sugar- 1 cup packed, 1-2 TBSP loose
Oatmeal- 1 cup Quick Oats, not the slow cooks.
Flour- 1 Cup
Baking Powder-1/2 tsp
Egg-1 large egg, beaten well
Cinnamon- 1 tsp (sigh, I have had to make this optional as my husband HATES cinnamon and has threated the Big D if I use it, or Celery or Coconut in my cooking... Yeah he's weird, thats another posting. I love it though so pre-hubby I used it liberally. Up to you.)
Vanilla- 1-3 tsp (I am a vanilla NUT so I use it in both the filling and the topping. Use at your own discretion)
Salt- A good pinch
Corn Starch- 1/2-1 tsp (optional)
Walnuts- 1/2 cup Chopped (optional)
Dried Cranberries- 1/2 cup (optional)

Also Need:

9x13 inch NON STICK or Throw away Baking pan (or otherwise large/fairly deep baking pan.)
Cookie Sheet (I have found that this sometimes bubbles over so to save your Oven, put a cookie sheet under it)
Mixing Bowl
Measuring Cups/ Spoons
Hand Mixer

To Prepare:

Preheat Oven to 350 F.

For the Filling:

First place peeled Apple/Pear Slices in a Mixing bowl. Add in Cranberries and or Walnuts if using. Stir together with 2 TBSP Brown sugar, 1 of the tsp Vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon if using until lightly coated. Also stir in the Corn Starch. The reason I use Corn starch is this ends up being very juicy and I found that the Corn Starch thickens up the juice just enough that it becomes creamy and not runny when serving. If you prefer a juicier filling, feel free to leave it out. Arrange Apple/ Pear slices in the bottom of the baking pan. Sometimes I get fancy and arrange them in a circular pattern from the inside out alternating layers. Sometimes I just throw everything in there, it doesn't really matter. The fruit will end up being taller than the pan but that doesn't matter as it cooks down.

For the Topping:

Cream Margarine/Butter with Brown and White Sugars until mixed. Add Egg and Vanilla and mix. Add remaining Dry Ingredients (Flour, Oatmeal, Baking Powder, Salt, Cinnamon) a bit at a time, mixing in between. Stop when Mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle and pat the mixture over the Fruit in the baking dish until everything is covered. I like to make it fairly thick so sometimes I make a bit extra of the topping so that I can get more of a fat cookie on top instead of a light crumble, (I'm not gonna lie, a fair amount of topping gets eaten raw too). Up to you.

Once everything is assembled, place on cookie sheet and put into the oven for 45 mins to an hour. Keep an eye on it and when the topping is nice and Brown, pull it out. I like to do a fork check to make sure that it is done all the way through the topping. If it is still a bit gooey, cover with aluminum foil so that it doesn't get to brown and put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. I like to serve this warm with Vanilla Ice Cream because, well that is Apple pie perfection. Delish:)

Recipe: 3 Minute Coffee Mug Cake

Yes, you read that right, 3 minutes. Well its actually about 8 with the measuring and mixing but holy potatoes, 8 minutes to ooey gooey chocolaty goodness?? Yes Please!! This recipe has been circling the internet for a while and it is really worth the 8 minutes. Try it, You can thank me later;).


Flour- 4 TBSP
Sugar- 4 TBSP
Cocoa Powder- 2 Heaping TBSP (I kinda like mine a little over the top haha) This is baking Cocoa Powder, not like chocolate milk powder.
Egg- 1 Large
Milk- 3 TBSP
Cooking Oil-3 TBSP
Chocolate Chips- Small handful, optional (I laugh as write that, I mean seriously, OPTIONAL chocolate chips?? Who am I kidding??)
Vanilla Extract- 1/4 Tsp (splash)

Also Need:

Large Coffee Mug
Stirring Spoon
Baseball Bat/ Tazer/ Guard Dog/ other method of warding off potential thieves

To Prepare:

Place Flour, Sugar, and Cocoa Powder into the Coffee Mug. Mix together. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Next add in Oil and Milk and mix thoroughly. Add "Optional" Chocolate Chips (hehe) and Vanilla extract. Mix. Place Mug in Microwave and cook for 3 minutes on High. Cake will rise over the edge of the Mug, don't panic:). Remove cake from Micky and let it cool for a minute or so. You can either tip it out into a bowl and scoop a dollop (or two or three) of Vanilla Ice cream on it or if you can't wait just grab a fork and dig in. Supposedly this can serve two, but that's what the Baseball bat is for;).

Recipe: Avocado Salad/ Sandwich Spread

So this is my Husband's current favorite put it on everything Salad. I can barely get it made before he's got a fork in the bowl. Its great just plain on bread as a sandwich filler, as a dip for chips or crackers, or just straight out of the bowl(a la hubby). Its a fun and colorful adaptation on the traditional Guacamole that takes just a few minutes to throw together (yay!).


Avocado- 1-2 Large ripe Avocados. I prefer the Darker bumpy skinned Avocados because I think they have a creamier buttery flavor, but the smooth skinned bright green ones are fine too just as long as it is properly ripe, not hard. You can test an Avocado's ripeness by pressing gently on the skin. If it gives slightly to the touch it is ripe. If it is hard or mushy, do not use it.
Green Onions- 2-4 depending on the size/ taste, chopped fine
Corn- Either 2-3 ears fresh raw corn cut off the cob or 1 small can drained
Tomatoes-2-3 I prefer Romano because they are more "Meaty" and have less water, but any is fine, Diced
Hard Boiled Egg- 2-3 Diced
Salt- To taste

Also Need:
Fork for mixing
Cutting Board and Knife
Medium Bowl

To Prepare:

Start by halving the Avocado and removing the pit. (You can grow your own Avocado tree easily by sticking three toothpicks into the sides of the pit and placing it into a coffee mug of water for a few weeks until it sprouts. They make a really nice indoor tree and for those in hotter climates, a great addition to the garden). Once the pit is removed, scrape the meat out of the avocado using the fork. Mash the meat in the bowl until it is fairly smooth. You can leave a few chunks, it doesn't have to be perfect. Next add the chopped onion, tomato, and egg. Stir together until thoroughly mixed and salt to taste. Spread on bread for sandwiches or use as a yummy dip. Is a great accompaniment to the tuna salad recipe posted earlier. Yumm!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons and Never Crying over Spilled Milk

In typical Southern Fashion, I learned early on a phrase for every situation and I try day to day to remind myself of their importance. Here are some favorites:

A Penny saved is a Penny earned. I shamelessly collect spare Agerot (pretty much the Israeli equivalent of a Penny), even if that means taking out the little old Russian Grannies on the street for them. They are meticulously pocketed and saved up for when they are next needed. (Read: for the next Family Card Game.)

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Everyones Mother, mine included said this to them, sometimes on a daily basis. I honestly really believe in this. I unfortunately have to deal with people who believe the exact opposite and tend to have a comment for anything and everything to the point where I have had to slightly amend this one. It now reads, If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all... Until you are in the privacy of your own home. Then feel free to slam pots and pans, binge on chocolate and let out all of your pent up frustrations on your husband in the form of colorful 4 letter words that would make even the roughest Hell's Angel blush and ride his Harley to the nearest Confessional. Disclaimer for the Hubbies: It is best in this situation to duck and cover. Do not try to fix it. Do not try to understand it. Certainly do not take the other persons side, no matter HOW colorful or "wrong" the insults. The level of "correctness" in this situation DOES NOT matter and SHOULD DEFINITELY NOT be pointed out. This could result in severe bodily harm. Best to just nod periodically and agree in short ambiguous sentences. Better yet, just break out the Ben & Jerry's and a large spoon and then slowly back away.

Curiosity killed the cat. I am the most curious nosy person I know. Therefore I have decided to take this in the most literal sense. I warn my cats every day not to be sticking their noses in places they shouldn't ie: the toilet bowl, my cereal bowl (particularly not right after the toilet bowl), the dresser drawers (Ziva repeatedly gets shut in the baby's dresser by accident), the fan, the list goes on. I figure its safer in the more literal sense. You can't be too careful:)

Don't count your Chickens before they hatch. I have no chickens. Hence no counting.

Never cry over spilled milk. To most its as old as time. The past is the past, get over it right? Well to us breastfeeding Mum's this takes on a whole new meaning. Milk is hard earned, liquid gold. Hungry tummies demand it. Its perfection that we have earned and sometimes fought hard for. We selflessly hook ourselves up to machines for hours a day sometimes to save away save away, our freezers full of bags upon bags of our hard work. Well that a pack of hot dogs, and half a bottle of vodka. I found out the other day how hard this particular Idiom is to uphold. Another night at the in-laws, Lord love them. I had pumped a bottle because my MIL has a deeply ingrained need to feed the baby, so I indulge sometimes for the sake of family harmony. I bring milk in travel bottles with lids that heat up easily and then transfer it into the baby bottles that she keeps at her house. The particular baby bottles we use come apart into a base, a little rubber seal for the base that lets in a little bit of air (to prevent gas, not relevant really to the story) the bottle (open at top and bottom, definitely relevant to story), then the nipple and the ring that screws the nipple onto the bottle. This particular time, while I was heating up the water to heat the milk in, I noticed the bottle looked a little scummy so I took it apart to do a second cleaning and then left it beside the sink to dry while the milk heated. A few minutes later my MIL goes into the kitchen and I follow a few seconds later to supervise bottle prep. I come around the corner just in time to see a WHOOSH of milky white goodness being poured down the sink. My first thought was that she had for some reason decided the milk was bad and had disposed of it down the sink, something that for a few seconds turned me into a borderline psychotic ready to rip her from limb to limb. After a few seconds of clarity, I looked again to see that she had neglected to put the base and the rubber seal on the bottom of the bottle, opting instead to pour the milk into the open end at the top and then out the open end of the bottom. Somehow she didn't notice the spillage until all 6 oz were down the drain and I was collapsed against the wall in pale faced horror. Needless to say, I excused myself to the bathroom where no less than a few "please don't let me kill her" tears were shed and baby got boobie after all, a win in his book.

And lastly for now, When life hands you lemons, make Lemonade. I try to be positive, really I do, for the most part I'm a stick to it, grit your teeth, push forward, find the light at the end and keep going till you get there kind of girl. Lately my husband and I have had a really rough run of bad luck, really really. No need to go into much detail but lets just say we've had lemons by the bushel. In the end, I have to remember that we are both healthy, we still love each other very much (most of the time) and we have an absolutely perfect happy little boy, we could have it much worse. I have learned that sometimes you have so many Lemons, you need to make Lemonade, and then Lemon Pie, and Lemon cookies, and Lemon Chicken, and Lemon Pickle and Hollandaise. Even then, sometimes you still have some left over Lemons. Thats when I say screw it and grab the Tequila ;).

Got Milk??

So I've always been a supporter of breastfeeding. I was a breastfed baby, as were my brother and sister. I grew up on a farm and saw animal babies nursing from their mothers every spring. It was just how you fed a baby. The babies that had to be bottle fed for one reason or another just didn't ever seem to thrive as well as those who had their mothers milk.

However, I didn't become as passionate as I am today until midway through my pregnancy. I spent pretty much my entire pregnancy in bed for one reason or another, and what do you do when your stuck in bed and have no tv?? Well browse the internet of course! I came across a protest group on FB turned mothering support group called Hey Facebook Breastfeeding is not obscene! and it not only filled my need for hours of reading, but it also gave me an invaluable resource of other like minded mothers. When I say like minded I mean other mothers who are passionate about giving their babies the most natural healthy start at life as possible. Mothers who believe in baby wearing, and cosleeping, cloth diapers and breastfeeding to 2 years and beyond. Mothers who don't try to get their babies on schedules, instead opting to feed on demand and learn from their babies what they need and when.

When I first started reading the posts on the site, there was inevitably a post or two at any given time about some sort of health ailment, be it mother or baby. Eczema, diaper rash, ear infections, runny noses, the list goes on. Advice was sought and inevitably someone would suggest putting breastmilk on it. It was straight out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the Dad chases any ailing family member around and tells them to "Put some Windex on it," never mind the ailment.

Now I stated before I have always been a big fan of Breastfeeding, but to be honest, this was a little "crunchy" even for me. Seriously folks, Ointment, Butt cream, Ear drops, Sudafed, MODERN MEDICINE HELLLOOOO??? I would sort of roll my eyes and move on.

Fast forward a few months and I am eating my words.. Crunchity Crunch Crunch...

A few days ago I woke up and my left eye was nearly swollen shut as both my top and bottom tear ducts had blocked and become infected. My eye was puffy, red, extremely painful and it itched like nothing I had ever experienced. On top of that, since both ducts were blocked, my eye was INCREDIBLY dry and every blink felt like sandpaper. As much as I would have loved to stay in bed with an ice pack on my eye and feel sorry for myself, as a newly working Momma, I had to drag myself to work.

About two hours into my shift I was in agony. I wanted to dig my eye out with a spoon! Anything just to make it stop itching and hurting. I took my pump break and was sitting there trying to figure out how to scratch my eye to relieve the itch without touching it and causing further pain, unsuccessfully I might add. I was fervently wishing for eyedrops when the voices of all those Moms in HFBINO popped in my head. "Put some breastmilk on it."

I sort of laughed to myself for a few seconds and then out of desperation figured, What the hell, it can't kill me right?? (Right???????) I was already pumping so I just stole a few drops from the baby, (Sorry kiddo, Mommy was desperate!!) and rubbed it around my eye, and then dripped a few more directly into my eye. I then waited for my eye to explode, or fall out or make cottage cheese, something weird had to happen right??

The relief was almost instantaneous! It was as if my eye had a slippery protective film on it. I was amazed. I repeated this a few more times during my shift and then went home to hubby. Before I went to sleep that morning (I work nights) I asked him to help me pour some expressed breast milk into my eye. Lord love him, he didn't miss a beat, just went and got a teaspoon, watched me fill it, and then dribbled it into my eye like it was something he had seen done a million times before.

Two days later and my eye is completely healed. Two days of breastmilk and my eye was as good as new. It would have otherwise taken a week and a half of prescription eye drops to do the exact same thing but with the added fun of a trip to the Coupat Holim (clinic), waiting in line with a baby for the doctor, repeat line waiting at a Pharmacy, and then the trip home, all in my beloved Israeli heat. Whee.

I am a complete convert. I always knew breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, always fresh, perfectly balanced for babies needs at that moment in time. A woman's body is amazing, producing such a perfect food, and NOW?? Not only do I know I am feeding my baby food made just for him, customized to maximize those adorable fat rolls (which thanks to breastmilk are less likely to become the fat rolls of childhood obesity) and put just the right twinkle in his Elvin eyes (which thanks to breastmilk are less likely to need glasses), I have also found my "Windex."

I'm now gonna be that Jewish Mama, following my kids around the house with a spray bottle of breastmilk, ready for anything from pimples, to pink eye, to poopy butt rash (hey I needed another "P" for alliteration). I can see it now, all the tubes in our medicine cabinet replaced by natures cure. Calamine lotion for Bug bites? Nope! Breastmilk. Waterproof eye makeup remover? Guess what? Breastmilk. Sudafed for the Sniffles? Breastmilk. Vitamins? Breastmilk. Ky Jelly?? You got it... Breastmilk:)

To read more amazing uses for breastmilk check out: