Baked Eggs in Latke Nests for Hanukkah

Baked Eggs in Latke Nests

This Hanukkah season, there have been dozens of recipes for “latke muffins” online. I can’t say I’m overwhelmed by this concept because basically you just take your latke mix and bake them in muffin tins instead of in the oven (on in a pan), and what does that give you besides muffin-shaped latkes? Bupkes! But it did get me thinking…

For ages I’ve been wanting to try baking eggs in the oven. I’ve seen eggs being baked inside puff pastry in muffin tins. I haven’t quite gotten around to trying that out. Instead, with Hanukkah upon us, I decided to mash up the two concepts and I came up with Hanukkah Baked Eggs in Latke Nests.

This is a fun dish, looks good, and adds a little bit of nutrition into this Hanukkah classic. They are like Hanukkah Hash Browns and Eggs. You can serve them with whatever you enjoy with eggs – smoked salmon, hot sauce, or plain old ketchup. Not sure this will work with apple sauce though. For that, make another batch and serve them for dessert with apple sauce and sour cream.

Happy Hanukkah!

Ingredients

3 medium sized potatoes (to make about 3 cups of grated potato)

1 small onion

14 eggs (12 should be medium sized, 2 can be large for use in the latke mixture)

2 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons oil

How to do it

1. Grate the potatoes (not finely) and the onion.

2. Rinse the potatoes in water to get rid of the starch and place them in a colander to drain – leave them to drain for about half and hour (at least). Squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

4. In a mixing bowl combine the potato, onion, 2 eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Liberally oil a 12-cup muffin tin.

6. Add about 2 tablespoons of potato mixture to each cup, and spread it up the sides, to the top of the cup, leaving a nest in the middle. Do not fill too much or there won’t be place for the eggs.

7. Bake for 25 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully break the remaining eggs into the latke nests.

9. Return to the oven for about 8-12 minutes. 12 minutes will give you hard yolks. Check to see when they are done to your taste.

Serve hot. Add smoked salmon on the side to upgrade the dish.

Makes 12 servings.

More fun with eggplant

Eggplant and Roasted Garlic Salad

Israel doesn’t have a national vegetable. If it did, I am positive it would be the eggplant. It’s such a versatile vegetable, and is prepared in so many different ways, depending on the ethnicity of the cook. In my case, my ethnicity meant that my first proper encounter with eggplant (known in my native South Africa as a bringal), was when I made aliyah. I had to first learn how to enjoy the taste. Once I had achieved that goal, I then moved on to figuring out how to prepare this jolly purple veg. Now it’s a favorite go-to veg on a regular basis.

One of my favorite ways to handle eggplant is to slice it down the middle and roast it in the oven. Then there is so much you can do with the soft, smoky flesh. I’ve already posted a recipe for the classic Baba Ganoush, which is the queen of eggplant salads. Last week, I was about to make it, but I had already prepared my Roasted Pumpkin and Tehina Salad, and I wanted a different taste. So I took a whole head of garlic, roasted it and mixed it with the roasted eggplant. It’s so simple. The rich and distinct taste of the roasted garlic makes this salad taste so good that you will just want to eat it with a spoon. But pita or challah work well too.

EGGPLANT AND ROASTED GARLIC SALAD

Ingredients

1 medium sized eggplant

A little olive oil

1 head of garlic

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use low fat)

Salt and pepper to taste

How to do it

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Slice the eggplant lengthways in two. Rub a little olive oil over the flesh side of each half and sprinkle with a little salt. Place on a baking tray, flesh side up. Place a whole head of garlic on the tray as well. Roast for about 25 minutes and remove the garlic. Continue to roast the eggplant until a fork slides into the narrow part of the eggplant very smoothly (about another 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the eggplant). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

3. Peel the eggplant or scoop the soft flesh out with a large spoon. Chop the eggplant with a large knife and place in a medium sized bowl.

4. Squeeze each garlic clove out of the peel into the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve with fresh pita or good fresh bread.

Serves about 6-8.

Parmesan and Potato Muffins for Shavuot

Potato and Parmesan Muffins

Potato and Parmesan Muffins

Ahead of Shavuot, I tried out a recipe for potato muffins that my husband found in a local newspaper. Every now and again he shoves a recipe cutting at me to try out (he has a good eye…). So with nothing on the menu for dinner last night, I decided to give these a go. As with all new recipes I try out, I am very critical and look to see how to improve on them. But as my family was devouring them rapidly, I realized that this recipe works very well as is and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find too much to change (I have upped with original cheese quantity…)

I love the combination of fresh herbs that give these muffins a really aromatic flavor. You can add the herbs you like and you can increase the quantities as well. I tried to maintain a balance so the kids wouldn’t turn up their noses. If you want to add a little decadence to this recipe, grate extra cheese and sprinkle it over the muffins as soon as they come out of the oven.

Serve these warm out of the oven for best results.

Here’s a PS…one day later, I had these cold, and as delicious as they are warm, I think they’re even better cold! Serve them as a substitute for rolls at a dairy meal, just don’t eat them all before they make it to your table.

POTATO AND PARMESAN MUFFINS

Ingredients

2 medium sized potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes (1cm)

1 large onion finely diced

3-4 cloves of garlic crushed

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

About 1 tablespoon each of fresh chopped parsley and rosemary (you can increase these quantities to taste)

3 large eggs beaten

200 g (7 oz) sour cream (one container)

100 g (3½ oz) softened butter

150 g (about 1½ cups) grated Parmesan cheese

1¾ cups self raising flour

1 teaspoon salt

How to do it

1.  In a pot of salted water, boil the cubed potatoes until just soft, drain and allow to cool down.

2. Saute the onions in the olive oil until just golden brown. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Remove from the heat.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

4. In a medium size down, combine the potatoes, onions, garlic and the rest of the ingredients.

5. Fill your muffin cups to ¾ full. They will not even out in the oven, so you can smooth them out if you are concerned about appearances.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins start getting golden brown on top.

Optional: Grate extra cheese and sprinkle it over the muffins as soon as they come out of the oven.

Serve warm. Makes about 18-20 muffins.

Vegetarian Samosas: A Spicy Burst of Flavor

Vegetarian Samosas served with Sweet Chili Sauce

Growing up in Cape Town, South Africa meant eating curries as regular meals and being surrounded by the flavors of Indian and Malaysian spices. Almost every little mini-market (which we called cafes) sold little triangles of crispy dough filled with curried meat or vegetables, known as samosas, which originated in India and South-east Asian countries. This was as common as finding hot dogs on the street corners of New York or falafel on the street corners of Tel Aviv. I loved the kosher versions of these little spicy pockets of flavor when I was growing up. They were always a treat, with their delicious crunch and rush of spice and flavor.

After years of not eating a samosa, I recently stumbled on a recipe that inspired me to take up the challenge. It was a chicken version of a mini curry pie that resembled the samosa of my childhood, so I decided to give it a whirl and adapted as vegetarian because it cut down on the work and, I believe, increased the flavor. I also used store bought puff pastry to cut down on the work, but you can use a home-made dough as well (recipe below), which will take more time.

The result was a batch of really more-ish samosas that my kids loved and we all couldn’t stop eating. Served with a dipping dish of chutney or sweet chili sauce, this is a great little platter to serve with drinks.

VEGETARIAN PUFF PASTRY SAMOSAS

Ingredients

1 kg frozen puff pastry

1-2 tablespoons oil

1 large or two medium-sized potatoes peeled and finely diced

1 small onion finely chopped

1 large carrot finely diced

1 large (or 2 medium) very ripe tomato peeled and finely chopped

½ cup corn kernels (I use frozen)

½ cup frozen peas

1-2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed

2 tablespoons curry powder (you can reduce this amount for a milder flavor)

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1 egg beaten

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)

Chutney or sweet chili sauce for serving

The filling

How to do it

1. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and allow to defrost a few hours before preparation so it is thawed in time for use.

2. Add water and some salt to a small pot, add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Cook for no more than 10 minutes and drain.

3. In a large skillet or wok, saute the potatoes carrots and onions in oil until they are all cooked through (about 5 minutes)

4. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for about a minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the curry powder and stir through until mixed (no more than half a minute)

5. Add the tomato and allow to cook till soft.

6. Add the peas and corn and stir through for about a minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

7. Add the coriander and salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the pastry into squares

8. Unroll the pastry and cut width-ways into three sections. Take one section, and place it on a clean, floured surface. Roll the pastry out (making sure to flour the rolling pin as well) until it is about half the thickness. Using a pizza cutter or very sharp knife, cut squares of about 6×6 cm (2½x2½ inches). Place about one teaspoon of the filling into the center of each piece of pastry. Fold the pastry carefully over the filling, making sure the filling doesn’t touch the ends of the pastry so you have a clean surface to seal, and removing all the air from inside. Press the edges of the pastry closed with your fingers and then use a fork to seal the sides shut.

Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the pastry square

(Tip: To ensure the filling doesn’t leak out during baking, turn the samosa over to make sure it is sealed closed from both sides. If not, give it another press with the fork from the back side as well.) Repeat for the other two sections of pastry.

9. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Place the samosas onto a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving about an inch between each. Brush the beaten egg onto each samosa, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if desired. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the samosas are golden in color. Serve with chutney or chili sauce.

Ready for baking

Makes about 36

Alternative: Home-made Pastry

You can use the following pastry recipe if you prefer home made pastry. This will give you a less flaky consistency and a more pie-like crust.

Ingredients

½ cup oil

1 egg

1 cup water

3-3½ cups flour (or as needed to make an elastic dough)

3½ teaspoons baking powder

How to do it

Home-made dough

1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and egg together. Add the salt and water and beat well.

2. Stir the flour into the liquid one cup at a time, and mix slowly until you get a doughy consistency. Then use your hands to add all of the flour so you get a workable, elastic dough that you will be able to roll out. Do not overwork the dough – knead just until all combined and smooth.

3. On a clean, floured surface, take one handful of the dough, and roll it out into a 3mm thick circle, using a floured rolling pin. The dough will spring back, so you can roll it a little thinner than 3mm.

4. Using a round cookies cutter about 8½cm (3½ inches) in diameter, cut circles in the dough. Note: Put the leftover in-between bits of dough back in with the rest of the dough and re-use it.  It’s a forgiving dough that won’t come apart because it’s already been rolled out.

5.Take about 1 teaspoon of the curry filling and place it in the middle of the circle. With your finger tip, dab some water along one half of the circle and close the dough over the filling, using your right thumb to push the filling to the back of the samosas you have a clean surface to seal. Making sure not to leave any air inside, seal the samosa with your finger tips and then use a fork to seal the edges further. Tip: Turn the samosa over and make sure that the bottom is properly sealed. If not, then give it another press with the fork.

Rosh Hashana: A Time for Traditional Food

Perogen in chicken soup

As the high holy days approach, I must first make my apologies to all my followers for being absent from my blog. The combination of a long period of craziness at work and summer vacation kept me away. But with Rosh Hashana around the corner, it’s time to get back to the keyboard and the kitchen and cook up some dishes that will make your chag a sweet and tasty one.

When I was growing up in South Africa, the first course in my house every Rosh Hashana was always perogen and soup. When I tell my friends that I am making perogen, most of them have no idea what I am on about. I suspect the South Africans out there will be nodding in recognition. In fact, when you Google the word “perogen”, you will come up with a definition like this: “A preparation of sodium perborate that, when mixed with the accompanying catalyzer, liberates 10% of the oxygen in the salt.” But don’t worry, I will not be giving you a recipe for a preparation of sodium perborate – I don’t even know what that is.

The fact is that our Ashkenazi perogen are a variation on the Polish word pierogi, dumplings  stuffed with potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese or fruit, which are traditionally boiled, and then baked or fried in butter. The kosher variation, or at least the perogen that I grew up eating, is simpler to make, but still involves a little effort, as any pie-like food does. There’s no boiling and frying involved. Instead these mini pies are baked in the oven till golden brown. Then they are served in chicken soup for a hearty start to a very long meal.

Both my dough and meat filling are very simple to make. Feel free to add any of your favorite meat seasonings to the meat mixture, such as dill or thyme. I keep it plain as there’s lots of flavor in my chicken soup that complements the perogen. This is also a great pre-fast dish as it’s not spicy or salty, and is really filling in a good way.

ROSH HASHANA PEROGEN

Ingredients

Filling

300g (just over ½ lb) ground beef

1 small onion very finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil or olive oil

1 tablespoon flour

Salt and pepper to taste

(Optional) ½ teaspoon of any preferred meat spice (dill, thyme, paprika, etc.)

Dough

Cut rounds from the dough and re-use the leftovers

½ cup oil

1 egg

1 cup water

3-3½ cups flour (or as needed to make an elastic dough)

3½ teaspoons baking powder

How to do it

Filling

1. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil and fry the onions until soft (not brown)

Place one teaspoon of filling in the middle of the dough round

2. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and stir the meat to brown it evenly.

3. Once the beef is brown, drain off some of the liquid, then add the flour and any additional seasoning, and stir over low heat until all combined and the flour is absorbed. Set aside to cool. Tip: You can make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.

Dough

Push the meat to the back of the folded round before you seal it

4. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and egg together. Add the salt and water and beat well.

5. Stir the flour into the liquid one cup at a time, and mix slowly until you get a doughy consistency. Then use your hands to add all of the flour so you get a workable, elastic dough that you will be able to roll out. Do not overwork the dough – knead just until all combined and smooth.

6. On a clean, floured surface, take one handful of the dough, and roll it out into a 3mm thick circle, using a floured rolling pin. The dough will spring back, so you can roll it a little thinner than 3mm.

Seal with a fork

7. Using a round cookies cutter about 8½cm (3½ inches) in diameter, cut circles in the dough. Note: Put the leftover in-between bits of dough back in with the rest of the dough and re-use it.  It’s a forgiving dough that won’t come apart because it’s already been rolled out.

8.Take about 1 teaspoon of the filling and place it in the middle of the circle. With your finger tip, dab some water along one half of the circle and close the dough over the meat, using your right thumb to push the filling to the back of the perogen so you have a clean surface to deal. Making sure not to leave any air inside, seal the pie with your finger tips and then use a fork to seal the edges further. Tip:Turn the perogen over and make sure that the bottom is properly sealed. If not, then give it another kvetch with the fork.

Baked and golden, ready for the soup

9. Place the prepared perogen on a greased baking tray lined with baking paper, about 2cm (1 inch) apart.

10. Bake at 190°C (375°F) for 15 minutes or until the perogen are golden brown.

11. Serve warm in chicken soup. Kids will also happily eat these plain with a dollop of ketchup.

Recipe makes about 30 perogen.

A Glogg on my Blog for Purim

Purim: Isn’t that the chag when we’re allowed to get really drunk? Actually, while hitting the bottle is almost as synonymous with Purim as dressing up, this isn’t an excuse to go all out and get blind drunk.

The Talmud tells us that “A person should drink on Purim until the point where they can’t tell the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘Cursed is Haman’.” In other words, we are permitted to drink to the point where we can’t intelligently debate which aspect of God’s revelation is greater, because, in fact it’s all the same. And importantly, we should not become so drunk that we forget to perform the mitzvot. So getting sozzled in moderation is key – one guideline is to drink just a little more than one usually does to induce a slightly higher level of blurriness, but no more.

So time to choose your poison, as it were.Purim is clearly the most festive of all chaggim, and our alcohol should fit its level of revelry. In addition, those of us in the Northern hemisphere celebrate Purim during the cold of winter, so what can be more fitting to quaff than a spicy, warm glogg (pronounced, says my friend Ann, “glerg”). So here’s a quick and easy recipe for a core warming libation that will put a smile on everyone’s face, a stagger in their step and a check mark next to the list of mitzvot we must perform on Purim.

Wishing you all a very happy and just slightly inebriated Purim!

PURIM GLOGG

Ingredients

Purim Glogg

750 ml (25 fl oz) dry red wine (1 regular bottle)

½ cup gin or vodka

½ cup raisins (optional)

1/3 cup sugar

Peel of one orange (use a vegetable peeler to remove only the rind of the orange – no white)

2 large cinnamon sticks broken up

2 cardamom pods opened up

6 whole cloves

How to do it

1. In a large pot or saucepan, stir together the wine, vodka/gin, sugar and raisins.

2. Please the orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in a spice bag (you can make this using a piece of doubled over cheese cloth, placing the spices in the middle, bringing the corners together and tying it up with a piece of clean string); or you can be lazy and throw it all in the pot and strain the liquid when you are done. Please the spices in the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer, without boiling. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove the spice bag or strain the liquid, and discard the spices.

3. Serve in a punch bowl or in a metal bowl that you can keep warm over a flame.

Serves about 8. Warning: This drink packs a punch!

Home Made Hot Chocolate on a Very Rainy Afternoon

Doesn’t that just sound perfect?

Baseball practice was not only rained out this afternoon, it was hailed out. So my son and I arrived home soaked to the bone and very cold. In my house, there’s only one antidote for this condition: home made hot chocolate.

Home made hot chocolate with marshmallows

Of course you can boil some water and add some powder and mix, but making your own takes hot chocolate to a whole new level. The extra five minutes of work are well worth the very happy faces of the kids who get to experience hot chocolate as it really should be – thick, chocolatey and ultra-yummy.

HOME MADE HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients

100 g (4 oz) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chopped up

Melt chocolate and sugar in the milk

¼ cup sugar

5 cups of milk

10 marshmallows or many mini-marshmallows (optional but very yummy)

How to do it

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the chocolate, sugar and ¾ cup of milk. While stirring, bring to the boil.

2. Add the rest of the milk and heat until hot but not boiling.

3. Ladle into mugs and add 2 marshmallows to each mug.

Makes about 5 cups of hot chocolate. Prepare yourself to make seconds!

Throw Away Your Frying Pan: Oven Baked Potato Latkes are Here

Prepare to save yourselves hours of toil and sweat this Hanukkah by simply baking your potato latkes in the oven. In response to my post earlier this week with a recipe for Oven Baked Cauliflower, Zucchini and Leek Latkes, I received some requests for a traditional potato latke version. So quite simply, here’s how you do it. It’s pretty much the same recipe as the pan fried latkes but now, it’s just oven baked. Using this oven baking method, you can really have fun and add whatever else you want to the latkes. I’m keeping my version simple for the sake of the children!

Serve this with home made apple sauce (prep instructions to follow) and sour cream, and you’ll taste the difference only in that these are far less oily and don’t leave you feeling like you need a good dose of Pepto Bismol afterwards.

OVEN BAKED POTATO LATKES

Ingredients (for about 10 latkes)

Oven Baked Potato Latkes Served with Sour Cream and Home Made Apple Sauce

3 medium sized potatoes (to make about 3 cups of grated potato)

1 small onion

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons oil

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. Grate the potatoes (not finely) and the onion.

3. Rinse the potatoes in water to get rid of the starch and place them in a colander to drain – leave them to drain for about half and hour (at least). (Don’t worry if the potatoes start getting brown, it won’t make a difference once they’re baked.) Squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands.

3. In a mixing bowl combine the potato, onion, eggs, flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Place a piece of baking paper on a large baking tray and spread the oil on the paper evenly. Drop about one tablespoon of the mixture on the paper and flatten it a bit with the spoon or a spatula and tuck in any loose strands of potato so they don’t burn. Squeeze any excess egg mixture out of the batter before you drop it on the tray.

Baking in the oven – this is when you make yourself a cup of coffee instead of standing over the stove

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn over each latke and bake for another 15 minutes or until both sides are browned (you don’t have to add more oil – there will be oil left on the paper).

6. Place the latkes on a double layer of paper towel to dab off any excess oil.

Serve with sour cream and home made apple sauce.

HOME MADE APPLE SAUCE

I’ve seen so many recipes for apple sauce, and most include added sweetener. Home made apple sauce really doesn’t need the added sugar – apples contain enough of their own natural sugar, which is brought out in the cooking process. So it really couldn’t be easier than this. I’ve been making this since my eldest son was a baby: He loved it then and today it perfectly complements potato latkes.

Use large green or yellow apples.

1. Peel and cut your apples into chunks (about 12 chunks per apple) and put them into a microwave safe bowl

Home Made Apple Sauce

2. Add 4 tablespoons of water per apple

3. Cook on 90% for 5 minutes (or until the apples are completely soft)

4. Puree the apples either by hand with a potato masher or in a small blender

And that’s it!!

Finally…low carb, low fat latkes just in time for Hanukkah

Hanukkah is coming up fast, and I must confess that of all the chaggim, it’s my least favorite when it comes to food. Too much oil, too much frying (which I hate), too many wasted calories. So when my friend Jessica Apple, who is the Editor in Chief of “A Sweet Life“, a comprehensive website for the diabetic community, asked me to come up with a low carb latke recipe she could publish for Hanukkah, I was excited to take up the challenge. In addition to nixing white flour, potatoes and of course sugar, I also elected to eliminate the pan frying stage, as there’s nothing I dislike doing more in the kitchen than frying food (except for washing dishes).

Using cauliflower as the creamy base instead of potatoes significantly reduces the calories. But the addition of leeks, zucchini, fresh dill and parsley means these latkes aren’t low on flavor. When my daughter  tasted them, knowing they were made with cauliflower, which she doesn’t usually like, she said: “Make these for Hanukkah this year!” For me, that’s the real taste test.

These oven baked latkes are my personal Hanukkah miracle as the baking means minimal use of oil, and whatever oil you spread on the baking paper that isn’t directly underneath the latke batter does NOT get absorbed. In addition, you can bake about 24 latkes at once on two baking trays, without having to hover over a hot pan of oil for ages. It’s win-win-win!

So Happy Hanukkah to all, and may the coming year be filled with miracles and light.

OVEN BAKED CAULIFLOWER, ZUCCHINI AND LEEK LATKES

Ingredients 

Oven Baked Cauliflower, Zucchini and Leek Latkes

½ head of a small cauliflower (about two cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small leek

1 small zucchini

2 eggs

2 tablespoons whole wheat (or white) self-raising flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1-2 tablespoons Canola oil

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C  (350°F)

2. Wash the cauliflower, cut into small florets and steam until the cauliflower has just softened (about 10 minutes). When the cauliflower is ready, place the pieces on a cutting board and chop (I smack it with the back of a chef’s knife – as you would garlic – and then do a rough chop). You don’t want any large chunks but it doesn’t have to be pureed.

3. Cut the white part of the leek lengthways and then cut each half lengthways again so you have the four quarters of the leek, and finely chop the leek (each slice should be about 2-3 mm). Saute in a pan in which you’ve heated the olive oil.

4. Grate the zucchini on a coarse grater and add to the leek, stirring until both the leek and the zucchini have softened (about 5 minutes), and set aside to cool.

5. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the herbs and seasoning. Add the vegetables (make sure they have cooled slightly so they don’t cook the eggs) and mix.

6. Add the flour and mix together.

7. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray and spread the Canola oil on the paper evenly. Drop about one tablespoon of the mixture on the paper and flatten it a bit with the spoon or a spatula.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn over each latke and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until both sides are browned (you don’t have to add more oil – there will be oil left on the paper).

9. Place the latkes on a double layer of paper towel to dab off any excess oil.

Serve with sour cream or lemon wedges.

This recipes makes about 12 latkes.

An Addendum to Tuscany – my Tomato Sauce

My post from three days ago largely centered around the tomato sauce I made in Tuscany this past summer. I promised to post the recipe at a later date, so here it is.

Tomato sauce

For me, there are two ways to make basic tomato sauce: With fresh tomatoes and with canned tomatoes. While I generally hate canned food, I make exceptions for one or two things. My one major exception is tomato products. Let’s face it, opening a can of crushed tomatoes is a quick and easy alternative than peeling and cooking fresh tomatoes. And while hanging around a real Tuscan kitchen this past summer, I saw that the Italians don’t consider themselves above using the prepared stuff either. There, they opt for the bottled tomato sauce which is runnier than our crushed tomatoes.

What’s more, I find that the taste of canned crushed tomatoes is often better than fresh tomatoes, especially when compared to off-season tomatoes that have very little taste. Another benefit is that canned may even be healthier than fresh tomatoes. According to Martha Stewart: “Canned tomatoes have even more health benefits than fresh tomatoes. Lycopene, a pigment that is responsible for the tomatoes’ red color, is one of several carotenoids (a group of antioxidants) that may help to decrease the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. The processing method used in canning tomatoes causes the release of a greater amount of lycopene than what is usually found in raw tomatoes.” (And if you’re concerned about the whole BPA thing, read this post from the Summer Tomato to put your mind at ease.)

Having said that, when the tomatoes are in season, taste nice and sweet, and I’ve bought too many and don’t want to throw out rotten tomatoes, I use them for making sauce. (Tip: often, the skin gets discolored when they’re starting to get old but when you peel them, you may find that under the skin the tomatoes are perfect. ) And when they’re good, they do make wonderful sauce that tastes great with pasta and they have a fresh taste to them that gives your sauce a lift.

So is my version of the basic tomato sauce. Note that the seasoning and flavors can be adjusted according to your personal taste…more or less garlic, herbs, wine, etc. You can also add any vegetables you’d like, such as carrots or zucchini. Just make sure they’re soft before you make the sauce so they blend in nicely. Have fun!!

THE VERY BASIC TOMATO SAUCE 

Ingredients

About 6-7 large very ripe very red tomatoes (if you have more, just use them, and increase the rest of the ingredient quantities) peeled* and chopped OR 1 800g can of crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic crushed

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil or 5-6 chopped fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 10 chopped fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 1/3 cup of dry red wine (optional but highly recommended)

How to do it

1. In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they are soft (they will just start to color, don’t brown them)

2. Add the crushed garlic and stir around in the pot for a few seconds until they just start to get some color (do not let them brown otherwise they will burn)

3. Add the tomatoes, herbs, seasoning, sugar and wine.

4. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer uncovered for at least 5 minutes, and longer if possible, until the sauce had reduced (you will see the line on the side of your pot showing the original  level of the sauce; I usually stop cooking when the sauce has dropped by about 1-2 cm).

Serve over pasta, use in lasagna, add ground beef and turn it into Bolognese sauce, make meatballs and cook them in this sauce…the possibilities are endless.

*To peel tomatoes, place them in boiling water for at least 5 minutes and the peels will slip off easily afterwards. If they peels don’t split by themselves, take a sharp knife and pierce the skin and they will peel back quickly. If they don’t then you haven’t soaked them for long enough, or you water wasn’t boiling.

To peel tomatoes, place them in boiling water for at least 5 minutes and the peels will slip off easily afterwards