Smoked Salmon Dip

Do you ever have the kind of day or week where all you want to do is go home and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s?

Crying_icecream_eating

Come on, admit it.  You’ve been there.

I’m having that kind of week.  Work has been slow.  I feel fat.  My dog has been sick all over the house.  One ex-boyfriend got engaged this week, and another married.  Perfect timing, right?

Believe it or not, I somehow didn’t shove my face with Cherry Garcia.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely fixed the problem with food… but this time I decided to make a snack that is more along the lines of my own personal comfort food.  This dip is an ode to one of my absolute favorite meals:  A great Jewish Bagel and Lox spread.  Nothing beats it.

Smoked Salmon Dip

Ingredients:

1 8oz tub of Whipped Greek Cream Cheese (or other light cream cheese)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill 

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

4oz Smoked Salmon, chopped

Directions:

1.  In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, fresh dill, and lemon juice.  Add HALF of the chopped smoked salmon.  Process until smooth.  

2.  Add the rest of the smoked salmon and stir by hand keeping the rest of the salmon in bigger pieces.  Serve with Slices of Everything Bagel, Everything Pretzel Crisps, Bagel Chips, or veggies.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

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A few things about this recipe… besides the fact that it’s super delicious and awesome.

Greek Cream Cheese.  Try it.  It’s amazing!  Light Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt mixed together to bring to you a sweeter tasting product with the same consistency as regular cream cheese.  Lower in fat, higher in protein.  Win-win situation here.

Gourmet Garden.  My new lifesaver.  You can buy these in the refrigerated produce section at your grocery store.  They are pre-washed and chopped fresh herbs in a tube that will last much longer than buying the fresh leaves.  You can freeze them too!

Smoked Salmon.  Every good Jew knows.  Every good friend of a Jew should know too.  This stuff is gold.  Simply delicious and salty.  If you don’t know what it is, get with it.  You can buy it most places but I highly recommend checking out the selection at Trader Joe’s.  They have one variety that is a 4oz container that is already in pieces that will save you some money.  I think it’s <$4.

Now that I’ve consumed almost a quarter of this dip… I can say that I am totally starting to feel better!  🙂

Sweet & Sour Brisket

I have been a busy busy girl the past week or two with the holidays and some other things going on.  Dave and I split our holiday time between our two families so we got to celebrate Passover sedar twice!

I was so excited when my Mommom told me I could make something to help out this year.  I was back and forth as to what to make but finally decided to take on the responsibility of making the Brisket.  This would be a risky choice, having never made it before… but I was up for the challenge.  With the assistance of my crockpot and my handy-dandy Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I made one hell of a brisket!  Yay!

I realize Passover is OVER for this year, but there is always time for a good Brisket.

Sweet & Sour Brisket

Ingredients:

1 4-5lb Brisket (mine was 5.25)

1.5 teaspoons Sea Salt, plus some more for seasoning the meat

Black Pepper

1 cup Beef Broth

3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar

4 teaspoons Paprika

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

2 Tablespoons Onion Powder

Directions:

Step 1:  Cook Brisket.  Season the meat with Salt and Pepper on both sides.  Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Place the meat in a slow cooker, pour the sauce over it, and set it to cook on LOW for 10 hours.  Your house is going to smell phenomenal.

Step 2:  Rest Brisket.  Resist the urge to eat the brisket… it’s going to get better with time.  While the meat is still hot, scrape off any large fat pieces on the edges.  There was a TON on mine.  Transfer the brisket into a baking dish, making sure to keep all of the sauce too.  Chill in the refrigerator for anywhere between a few hours to a whole day.  

Step 3:  Re-Heat Brisket.  An hour before you need to eat the brisket, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Remove the grease that has hardened on the top of the meat and sauce (or not, but it’s really nasty so I recommend it).  Remove the brisket from the dish and place on a large cutting board.  Slice while cold and transfer back into the saucy baking dish and spoon the sauce over the meat.  Bake in the oven until heated through, the sauce should be bubbly on the edges.  Serve immediately.

Recipe from:  the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Note:  The original recipe includes directions for cooking in the oven.  Briefly… Cook the meat in a 350 degree preheated oven in a dutch oven or in a baking dish tightly covered with foil.  Bake for 3 hours.  

photo 4 (2)

Had to stuff this bad boy in there!  It's amazing how much it shrinks though... so much fat to remove.

Had to stuff this bad boy in there! It’s amazing how much it shrinks though… so much fat to remove.

Gettin' Saucy!

Gettin’ Saucy!

This is all I had to dirty while making the brisket... love it.

This is all I had to dirty while making the brisket… love it.

I was SO nervous about this silly brisket!  I really wanted to make something big and new and exciting and I didn’t want to screw it up.  To add to my new recipe anxiety, I was stupid and didn’t read the cooking time until I had already started at 6:30pm on Saturday.  If I did it the right way, that would have meant to take it out at 4:30am.  LOL.

Lucky for me, Dave was out at a bachelor party and I was already waiting for him and awake at 2:30 to finish the brisket up.  Lesson learned:  read directions first.  Duh.

Cooled brisket with the grease scraped off.  Ready to be sliced.

Cooled brisket with the grease scraped off. Ready to be sliced.

It's easiest to slice the brisket when it's cold.  You'll get better slices whereas when you cut it after it's reheated it'll be more fork tender and fall apart.

It’s easiest to slice the brisket when it’s cold. You’ll get better slices whereas when you cut it after it’s reheated it’ll be more fork tender and fall apart.

Once the brisket is cut, I transfered it to my dutch oven to heat up for dinner.  Don't stress if the slices break a little... those will be the best bites!

Once the brisket is cut, I transfered it to my dutch oven to heat up for dinner. Don’t stress if the slices break a little… those will be the best bites!

 

What a great spread... brisket was so good.

What a great spread… brisket was so good.

Despite my nerves and anxiety, the brisket was awesome.  It was so easy to make and turned out absolutely perfect and delicious.  The brisket was so moist and flavorful, it was also the perfect combination of sliced pieces and the fally-apart pieces that sop up all the sauce.  MMM!

I do have to pat myself on the back once more and mention to you that my Dad who has NEVER tried Brisket in my lifetime not only tried this one… but really liked it.  Whatttttttttt?!

It’s a good thing when there are no leftovers, right?  I’d say next time I’d make a bigger one but this 5.25 lb baby hardly fit into my crockpot!

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Leftovers

The Ultimate Jewish Omelette

Check this recipe out on Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party!

If you didn’t believe me before when I told you how much I love eggs, do you believe me now? This is now my fourth Omelette post and tenth post about Eggs.  This is the best one yet. (Better than my Salami Omelette & the Portobello Omelette too!)

My family hosts the yearly “break-fast” (as in breaking the fast, not your morning meal) dinner after Yom Kippur, serving delicious bagels with your typical Jewish fix-ins… Lox, Whitefish Salad, Onions, Tomatoes, Cukes, etc.  This year we had tons of leftovers… YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  Here’s where I went with it:

The Ultimate Jewish Omelette

A Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Butter

3 slices of Onion, chopped

2 slices of tomato, chopped

3 slices Lox, chopped

2 Egg Whites & 1 Egg

2 Tablespoons Fat Free Cream Cheese

Ground Pepper

Directions:

1.  Melt the butter in a medium-sized pan (or just use spray) over medium heat.  Add the onions and stir until they start to soften/brown.  Add the lox and stir in with the onion.  Cook for another 4 minutes or so until the lox cooks (it will turn a lighter pink).  

2.  Meanwhile, scramble the eggs together with a teaspoon of water.  Pour over the cooking onion and lox.  Continue to cook over medium heat until the top is no longer runny or almost solid.  It may help to put a lid on, it will help steam the egg and cook the top half.

3.  Add the chopped tomatoes and using two spoons, dollop 2 Tablespoons of Fat Free Cream cheese as evenly as possible.  Fold the omelette in half and let sit for another minute or two so the cheese will melt.  Serve with some pepper.

YUMMY YUMMY!  I obviously already looooooove Lox/Eggs/Onions, but Dave had never tried it before.  He was pretty skeptical but enjoyed it too :).  The cream cheese was awesome and it got super melty/creamy.  MMM.

Pre-Flip

I couldn’t resist some good Jewish Rye and of course Whitefish Salad.

The onions were almost caramelized and look how creamy the cheese is!

I had big eyes and wanted to use some other leftovers and ended up eating this with a piece of Rye and Pumpernickel Toast w/ some Whitefish Salad… and (random) sauteed spinach.  If you’ve never tried Lox in your eggs, please do!  It sounds strange but it works.  I promise.  OH, and don’t add extra salt!  Lox is really salty as it is.

Hamentashen

With the Jewish Holiday of Purim only a week away, it seems like now is a great time to make Hamentashen with my cousins.

What the heck is Purim, you might ask…

Purim is a holiday celebrated to remember the salvation of the Jewish people of Persiain the 4th Century BCE.  (thank you google) In America, the holiday is celebrated in Hebrew School and other Jewish schools but was never really considered “important” at least at my synagogue.

However, in Israel, Purim is celebrated how America celebrates Mardi Gras!  People dress up in costumes, go out, party, and have fun!  Unfortunately, Dave and I missed the Purim celebration by just a few days when we were in Israel, but our friend Adam will be there for it this year on March 7th.  I’m so jealous!  I guess that’s why Purim was on my mind, which led to the Hamentashen baking.

Okay, so now what the heck is a Hamentashen?  Hamentashen are triangle-shaped cookies with fruit filling that are made during Purim time.  The cookies get their name from Haman- the villain of Purim who tried to exterminate the Jewish people.  They are delicious and so fun to make.

Dave and I headed over to Aunt Lyn’s to meet my grandparents there this past Sunday to teach the kiddies how to make these delicious fruit-filled cookies.  Lyn took out my Great-Grandmother’s recipes, finding almost TEN Hamentashen recipes… and all were different.  The recipes were in her handwriting which was amazing.  Let me also mention how the ingredient “1 glass of oil” was often mentioned … and other phrases we had to decipher.  How cute.

My great-grandmom's recipe

Our recipe. No MUN!

After combining a few of the recipes, we made our own dough and let Aidan start to roll it flat.  In our assembly line, Lyn was next, cutting circles in the dough with a giant coffee mug.  My job was to spoon the filling into the cookies and shape them into triangles.  Dave, my Mommom and Poppop, and baby cousin Dani kept us company too.  We had so much fun!

Lyn showing Aidan how to cut the circles out of the dough

Let's start with Lemon- my Poppop's favorite flavor

We filled Strawberry, Lemon, Apple, and Prune!

These are what they look like when they're done! They start off crispy but the next day they'll be nice and soft.

Hamentashen Recipe

Ingredients:

¼ cup Canola Oil

½ cup Apple Sauce

3 Eggs

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 cup Sugar

4 ½ – 5 cups Flour

¼ cup warm Water or OJ

1 ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Filling:  Your choice of any pie filling!  

Directions:

1.  Mix all ingredients in a mixer, putting the flour in one cup at a time until it is well combined.

2.  Quarter the dough and roll out until it is about ¼ inch thick.

3.  Using a cup or a cookie cutter, press it down on the dough and cut circles out.  Add scrap dough to the rest and repeat with the remaining ¾ of the dough.

4.  Fill each circle with about 1 Tablespoon of filling.  Pinch dough into a triangle, sealing in the filling.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees on a foil and cooking spray covered cookie sheet, for about 15-20 minutes or until it starts to turn lightly brown.  L’Chaim!

Dani didn't know which one to pick!

Mommom with her oldest and youngest granddaughters!

Here is a recipe for Hamentashen from the Food Network’s own token Jew, Duff Goldman!  It sounds a little more complicated but really good.  Try one of them out and celebrate Purim this year!