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The Jew and the Carrot and Purim

So, I have some exciting news: The Jew and the Carrot (Hazon's food blog) has posted links to my Cheesecake and Brownie Fillings for Hamentaschen! You can find the article here.

Carrot Bread

This carrot bread is quick, easy and absolutely delicious. I made it for a potluck and brought the rest to work, where it was quickly devoured accompanied by yummy sounds! You would never know that it is wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy free. It is slightly sweet; although, I don't think it is sweet enough to serve as dessert. For a little added sweetness, mix your favorite non-dairy spread (at room temperature) with some agave nectar and spread on slices.

1 cup walnut halves
12 ounces carrots
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup soy flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground Vietnamese (or Saigon) cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup dark agave nectar

dry measuring cups
parchment-lined baking sheet
nylon scrubber
chef's knife
cutting board
food processor fitted with top shredding attachment
measuring spoons
small bowl
small whisk
liquid measruing cup
stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or large bowl and hand mixer
rubber spatula
9"x5" loaf pan greased with sunflower oil, bottomed lined with parchment and greased again
cake tester or wooden skewer
cooling rack
plastic wrap

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Place the walnut halves in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet and toast in oven about 7 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. When cool, break into pieces.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
4. Under cold running water, with nylon scrubber, scrub carrots. Cut off stem end and cut into pieces small enough to fit into the food chute of your food processor. Shred carrots in food processor.
5. In small bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
6. In mixer, thoroughly mix the eggs, oil and agave nectar until blended. Add the flour mixture in fourths, mixing to incorporate after each addition, scraping down with rubber spatula as necessary.
7. Mix carrots until blended.
8. Fold in toasted walnut pieces.
9. With rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly, being sure to seal the edges. Bake in oven for about 1 hour until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.
10. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on cooling rack. Turn bread out onto cooling rack, bottom-side down, and allow to cool completely.
11. When completely cool, tightly wrap in plastic wrap for at least 24 hours. This bread will keep for up to three days.

(c) 2010 by Allison Lattman

Latke Logistics

Hanukkah is just around the corner (first night is December 11 this year). Time to get out those frying pans and start cookin'. I have recipes for 10 different latkes on this website and wanted to be sure to give you all some general advice about latke-making.

Latke, a Definition and a (Very) Brief Hanukkah Story
Why latkes for Hanukkah? Hanukkah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple after it was destroyed. When the Jews went to rebuild the Temple, they only had enough oil to light the Temple for one days. But, then, a miracle happened, and the oil lasted for eight days until they were able to make more oil to light the Temple. We eat latkes on Hanukkah because they are fried in oil. The oil reminds us of the miracle of the oil and the reason we celebrate Hanukkah.

Why are most latkes made with potatoes? "Latke" is the Yiddish word for "pancake." In Eastern Europe, from where Ashkenazi Jews (and, by default, latkes) hail, our ancestor had lots of potatoes. They made EVERYTHING with them, hence, potato latkes, potato kugel, potato knishes, etc. So, since the reason we eat latkes on Hanukkah is because of the oil, latkes can really be made of anything you can think of. I have 10 different recipes here, feel free to create your own:

Potato Latkes with Applesauce and Greek Yogurt
Sweet Potato Latkes with Apple Chutney
Southwest Latkes with Creamy Cilantro Dip
Greek Latkes with Tsatsiki Sauce
Zucchini Parmesan Latkes with Marinara Sauce
Thai Noodle Latkes with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Empanada Latkes with Salsa Verde

Apple Pie Latkes with Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
Bananas Foster Latkes with Rum Sauce
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Latkes with Creme Anglaise

Tips for Great Latkes
1. The real secret to great latkes is to squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the potatoes, spinach or whatever vegetables you are using. The drier, the better. In addition, be sure to squeeze each latke (before adding to the hot oil) between two teaspoons to remove as much moisture as possible.
2. Use a lot of oil. In our health-conscious world this may be counter-intuitive. But, actually, the deeper the oil (as long as it's hot enough, see next tip), the quicker the latkes cook and the LESS OIL THEY ABSORB. It is actually healthier to use MORE oil for frying.
3. Make sure your oil is HOT! To test, stick the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil all the way down to the bottom of the pan. If small bubbles start to form, the oil is hot enough. Keep in mind that every time you add oil, you need to let it heat up again.
4. Do not over-crowd your pan! Over-crowding cools the oil too much, and the latkes won't cook.
5. The longer your oil is heating (i.e., the longer you're frying latkes), the hotter it gets. While your first few batches may take several minutes on each side to get golden, later batches will take less time because the oil gets hotter the longer it's in the pan over a hot burner.
6. Drain your excess oil. Cut paper grocery bags so you can lay them flat, with the inside touching the latkes. (I line mine on a large baking sheet; it's the perfect size!) As you fill up each layer, add more bags on top and keep stacking layers of latkes between layers of grocery bags. Alternatively, you could use paper towels, but grocery bags absorb more (pound for pound) and why waste more paper when you can just reuse what you already have?

Freezing and Reheating
If you choose to make your latkes ahead of time and freeze them, follow these steps. This a great technique if you are making a lot for a party and don't want to be a slave to the kitchen. Just make sure you have enough room in the freezer!
1. After layering the latkes between grocery bags on a baking sheet, place a grocery bag over the top layer and stick the whole baking sheet in the freezer. Allow to freeze for a few hours or overnight.
2. Remove baking sheet from freezer and place latkes into a zippered freezer bag or other container. Throw away the grocery bags. As far as I can tell, latkes can freeze forever!
3. When ready to reheat, preheat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Place the latkes (directly from the freezer) in a single layer on the parchment paper and bake until heated through. Heating time depends on size and type of latkes you are reheating. Generally, you should start checking after about 10 minutes.

Have a wonderful holiday and happy latke-making!

2009 by Allison Lattman

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Latkes with Creme Anglaise

My first attempt at chocolate chocolate chip latkes was to use brownie batter. Oy, what a mess!!!! Apparently, brownie batter just dissipates into the hot oil, creating a big oily mess in your skillet. Then, I had an idea--choux pastry! Perfect! The dough is a basic choux pastry (used for eclairs, cream puffs, crullers, etc.) with a few changes: a lot more sugar, vanilla and, of course, cocoa powder. Because of the chocolate, it can be difficult to tell when they're ready (and there's nothing worse than burnt chocolate!!!). While frying on the first side, look for bubbles to form in the center of the batter (just like pancakes), then you know it's time to flip. Continue frying on the second side for 2-3 minutes. And, ENJOY!!!!

1 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs, plus water to make 1 cup total
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
confectioners' sugar, for serving
Creme Anglaise, for serving

liquid measuring cup
medium saucepot
measuring cups
mixing spoon
medium bowl
measuring spoons
liquid measure shot glass
stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment
large skillet
2 teaspoons
spatula or slotted spoon
brown paper grocery bags

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and cocoa powder with whisk. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, combine water, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir and cook until butter and sugar are melted and mixture starts to boil.
3. Add flour, in fourths, to sugar mixture, thoroughly mixing after each addition. You should have something that resembles chocolate playdough.
4. Put dough into the bowl of electric mixer. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
5. With mixer going at low speed, add eggs (and water) one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next one.
6. With mixing spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.
7. Heat 1/2 inch oil in skillet.
8. Using the teaspoons, add batter to skillet, frying until bubbles form over surface of each latke. Flip and fry for an additional 2-3 minutes.
9. Drain on brown paper grocery bags.
10. Serve immediately topped with confectioners' sugar and Creme Anglaise.

Yields about 4 dozen latkes

2009 by Allison Lattman

Creme Anglaise

Creme Anglaise is a custard sauce used for many dessert application. Have fun!

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1 vanilla bean
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange liqueur

medium saucepot
liquid measuring cup
paring knife
cutting board
measuring cups
2 medium bowls
mixing spoon
liquid measure shot glass
damp parchment paper

1. Add milk to saucepot.
2. Split vanilla bean lengthwise. With back of knife, scrape out seeds. Add seeds and pod to milk.
3. Heat milk over medium heat until small bubbles form along the edge.
4. While milk is heating, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick.
5. When milk is ready, remove vanilla bean pod. While whisking egg mixture, add milk in a steady stream.
6. Return mixture to saucepot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
7. Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl and stir in liqueur.
8. Cover with damp parchment paper, making sure the parchment touches the surface of the custard.
9. Allow to cool to room temperature.
10. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature when ready to use.

Yields about 1 1/2 cups

2009 by Allison Lattman

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Salsa Verde

So, even I may have to admit that calling these latkes is pushing the envelope, but they're damn good; so, why not!

1 poblano pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ounce portabella mushrooms, stems and spores removed, diced
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water and drained, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
water, for sealing
canola oil, for frying
Salsa Verde, for serving
chef's knife
cutting board
garlic press
brown paper lunch bag
brown paper grocery bags
small bowl
measuring spoons
medium bowl
mixing spoon
flat surface, for rolling
rolling pin
2-inch round cookie cutter
pastry brush
large skillet
1. Over a gas burner, roast the poblano pepper until black and charred all around. (Alternatively, cut pepper in half. Place cut side down on baking sheet and place under broiler untill charred.) Place in a brown paper lunch bag and let steam for at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft.
3. Add garlic and mushrooms, cook until mushrooms are soft.
4. Drain on a brown paper grocery bag.
5. Remove roasted pepper from bag. Remove charred skin, stem, seeds and white membrane. Dice pepper and add that and mushroom mixture to the mixing bowl.
6. Add cheeses, cilantro and salt and pepper. Mix.
7. On a floured surface, roll out dough (you may need to do half at a time) into 1/8-inch thick.
8. Using the 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut circles of dough. (You may reroll dough ONE more time. If you do more than that, it may become very tough.)
9. brush both sides of rounds with water.
10. Pile about 1 teaspoon of mixture on half the rounds.
11. Cover each filled round with an empty round. Stretch the dough to seal around the filling, while pushing the filling into the center. Pinch each empanada to seal tightly.
12. Heat 1/2 inch oil in skillet.
13. Add empanadas and cook on each side until golden.
14. Remove from oil and let drain on brown paper grocery bags.
15. Serve immediately with Salsa Verde.
Yields about 4 dozen empanada latkes
2009 by Allison Lattman

Empanada Dough

Empanada dough is like basic pastry dough but with the addition of eggs and vinegar. If you don't have a large capacity food processor (like like 14-cup food processor by Cuisinart), you will need to make this in batches.

4 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 1 hour
2 large eggs, cold
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons white vinegar, cold

large capacity food processor fitted with bottom chopping blade
liquid measuring cup
measuring spoons
liquid measure shot glass
plastic wrap

1. In the food processor combine flour and salt.
2. In a measuring cup, combine water and vinegar. Set aside.
3. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal.
4. With processor running, slowly add water and vinegar in a steady stream.
5. Turn mixture onto plastic wrap. Wrap tighley and flatten into a disk.
6. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

2009 by Allison Lattman