Saturday, April 23, 2011

Seder Dinner

This year, the worship committee decided we should do a Seder dinner to celebrate Maundy Thursday.  By "we", in essence, they meant "me".  I'm sure I could have recruited more help but I didn't want to do a potluck thing, I wanted to do a really nice meal.  Fortunately, Cara had a Seder Plate Challenge that gave me lots of cool ideas for foods to cook. 

I decided to go with:

Massaged Kale Salad. This was good and people really seemed to like it. I wasn't over the top impressed...I think I'm just not a fan of kale...if I did this again, I'd probably just go with spinach.
Matzoh Encrusted Asparagus. There was definitely WAY too much crust/coating.  I multiplied the amount of asparagus by 10 and didn't double the crust mix at all and still had WAY too much.  I'd be a minimalist if I do this again and only use 1 or 2 matzoh crackers, 1 tbsp of oregano and a half cup or so of Parmesan cheese.  (If I weren't trying to keep it kosher for passover, I might just use Italian bread crumbs with the Parmesan...)

Apricot Beef Brisket.  This was super simple to make and very yummy! I might be inclined to use about half the amount of apricots, not because they were bad, but just b/c they didn't get put to good use after cooking...
Mashed Potatoes.  These were just a safe extra in case other items didn't turn out.  I peeled then boiled the potatoes, drained them, and then added sour cream, heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper...all just eye-balled and to taste.

Charoset.  I basically multiplied each of the recipes by 4 or 5 to have enough for 35 people, and we had way too much of this, I'd say the single recipe could easily serve 8-10.  I'm going to try and slow cook the leftovers to make applesauce, we'll see how that works out.  But the flavor is good and people loved it!

Deviled eggs.  I did two batches, half were normal/basic...just mayo, mustard, salt and pepper, the others had all of that plus curry powder to taste (which are my preference but I know not everyone likes the curry...)
Horseradish Cauliflower Latkes.  these were a decent amount of work. I used a regular steamer on the stove top to prep the cauliflower and prepared the "batter" a day ahead to try and help me out on the day of, which was a good plan, though I almost forgot the egg whites, which was not a good plan b/c they keep the batter together when you fry it.  The suggestion for a ton of horseradish seemed crazy to me, especially as it made me cry as I added it, but in retrospect, I would have gone with more rather than less. She used 6T for 1 head of cauliflower. I used 12T for 5 heads of cauliflower. I definitely could have used more and it would have been just fine.

Oreo truffles.  these were SUPER of the easiest cookies/desserts ever.  I did take the advice of the reviews and used milk chocolate instead of semi sweet and just used a 12oz bag instead of 16 oz and it worked out just fine!

White chocolate truffles.  the original Seder plate challenged had wasabi white chocolate ginger truffles which sounded wonderful and I really wanted to try, but tracking down fresh wasabi was no easy task.  When I found it online, it was $84 for a half a pound, and there was simply no way I was going to go that route. So I found these instead and they were yummy and relatively simple.  though, as you roll the truffles, the heat from your hands will start to melt the chocolate. The powdered sugar does help, as would dipping your hands in ice water every so often.  I'd make these again without hesitation!

Chocolate dipped Almond Butter merengues.  these left a little to be desired in my mind, but that may be because I have too much of a sweet tooth...these just weren't sweet, so they hardly ranked as a yummy dessert in my book, but lots of folks tried them and seemed to like them. If you make them, my caution would be that it's easy to burn the merengue, I'd shorten the cooking time and only cook them on the upper ranks of the oven.

Over all, it was definitely a holiday feast and people really enjoyed doing the dinner (along with the liturgy which I adapted from one sent by a friend).  I think it'd be worth trying again in the future, but with more help and maybe some different recipes or variations. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beef and Broccoli recipe

So apparently when you're 8.5 months pregnant all you want to do is that's primarily what you'll get here...or so it seems. 

Cinnamon rolls

My best friend had made these cinnamon rolls the last time I visited and they were awesome. I had to try them!

Unfortunately, I faced a few frustrations in the process, but hopefully you can over come those:

1) With only the 6 cups of flour, the dough was super sticky, instead of adding more flour, I let it go hoping it would come out alright, unfortunately it seemed to stifle the rising process, so my recommendation would be to add more flour until it no longer sticks to the side of the bowl (at least in large part).
2) the dough wouldn't rise.  I waited hours and it simply wasn't working. I used fresh yeast, didn't over-kneed, and had it rise in a draft free location, but that didn't seem to a matter.  Finally I got a new tip and put it in the oven (off) with a bowl of boiling water. Granted I left it there for a couple of hours while I was in Bible study, but when I got back, it had finally risen.
3) When I went to roll it out, there was a TON of dough. They are not kidding that this recipe makes a lot.  If I did it again. I would pound the dough down more and then cut it into 2 pieces and do half at a time with the butter/brown sugar/cinnamon topping.
4) I used a big roasting pan to cook them, and would recommend using a huge pan (probably two) for this recipe.

In the end, they still taste awesome...but it was definitely a recipe that came to those who (had) to wait.  

I hope you have more luck with the rising than I did, and I hope you enjoy just as much as we did!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cool Easter idea for kids

A parishioner got this as a forward on email. I had not read it before and thought it was a very cool idea. It should be done the night before Easter before going to bed.

1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 cup sugar
ziplock bag
wooden spoon
masking tape

Preheat oven to 300 F. Place pecans in ziplock and let kids beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Romans soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink.  Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life.  Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23-27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 cup sugar.  Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us.  He wants us to know and belong to him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes for those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:13.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. 

Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven. Close the door and turn the oven off.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.

Go to bed! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followeres were in despair when the tomb was sealed.  Read John 16:20 and 22.
On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  notice the cracked surface and take a bite.  the cookies are hollow!  Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9.

Asparagus Soup

Even though blogging hasn't made it to the top of the list this Lent, cooking often has.  Here's an asparagus soup recipe I tried for one of our Lenten soup suppers.  It was a definite hit! 

I mostly followed the recipe, though did make some of the suggested change:
Instead of 1/4 margarine, I used 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil
I added 4 cloves of garlic
I added an extra potato
I didn't puree everything, just about 3/4 of the soup which left some nice texture
I ditched the can of chicken soup
I used 6 tsp of of bouillion instead of the 4 tbsp that were recommended.
I skipped the soy sauce