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© 2012 Jessie Kaufman. These photos and content are protected by US Copyright laws. It is unlawful to reproduce, publish, or edit this content without permission.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Knead Semolina Bread

I'm one of those people that just isn't a baker.  Up until a few months ago the only bread that I ever had success making was pizza dough, and I think that's in large part due to the stockpile of NYC water I have in my freezer. (Thanks Whitney!)

So, when I finally decided I'd had enough I tried the "foolproof" No Knead Method by Jim Lahey. Mark Bittman said any idiot could do it. I assure you, I am a bread idiot. I wasn't expecting much. Even after I opened the oven I had resigned to the fact that this wasn't going to turn out and I could go back to my bread self-depreciating ways, but it looked pretty good. I let it cool and cut it, still preparing for bread disaster in the form of taste and again was shocked. It resembled the bread down the street from the old Italian bakery near our old abode in Brooklyn that my husband and I were obsessed with.

I've since made 30+ loaves, with different variations. This one is my new favorite.

No Knead Semolina Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups of semolina flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp of instant yeast
1.5 tsp of salt
1.5 cups of water

Throw everything but water into a bowl, mix, add water. Cover for 12-18 hours. I make mine after dinner and cook it in the morning.

Heat an oven with a covered dutch oven or similar dish to 500 degrees.

Flour a surface, lightly coat dough with flour and form a round loaf. Add to pan and cover.

Cook 30 minutes, remove lid, and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and pan and let cool on wire wrack for at least 1 hour.

Cut and enjoy. Don't forget the butter!

I'm never buying bread again. Click the link above to watch the original video.

Three Bean Chili

You know how everyone has that recipe that they are famous for? This is mine. When I had an office job this was consistently the one thing that coworkers begged me to make and bring in.

My father is a firefighter and if there is one thing he made sure his kids knew how to cook it was this chili. I've changed up his recipe a bit. His calls for venison, fresh tomatoes, and a whole lot of crushed red pepper.

Three Bean Chili
Makes 8 servings

1 cup of cooked black beans
1 cup of cooked light red kidney beans
1 cup of cooked dark red kidney beans
1 28oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes
2 cups of water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 can of tomato sauce
1 small onion diced
3 cloves of garlic diced
1/4 cup of diced jalapenos
2.5 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
(my original recipe calls for 1lb of ground sirloin browned and drained of fat and added before the beans. I don't even miss it though.)

In a large pot combine oil and onion, saute until translucent, add garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes, water, and tomato sauce, stir.

gradually add in spices and jalapeno and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add beans and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite bread.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Cookbook Christmas Wishlist via Chronicle Books and Happy Haulidays

I am guilty of filling up an entire bookshelf in our dining room with cookbooks and starting a new pile on the floor. Since it's only about eight books high right now, and four of those are from the library I don't really feel bad. Cookbooks are so addicting. I study the photography techniques, recipe variations and look for interesting ingredients.

So, when my friend Nelly over at Cooking with Books posted her cookbook wish list I knew I had to make one of my own. Chronicle Books challenged bloggers to come up with a $500 cookbook wish list. If I win, one lucky commenter will win all of my books too so don't forget to comment.

1. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
2. Eat Like a Man  by Esquire (ok, I want this one for my husband)
3. The Salpinc Cookbook  by Priscilla Satkoff
4. Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool
5. Rustica by Frank Camorra
6. Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
7. The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best
8. Firehouse Food by San Francisco's Firefighters
9. Ruhlman's Twenty by Michael Ruhlman
10. The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan
11. A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchel
12. Sunday Roasts by Betty Rosbottom
13. The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
14. Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor

What do you think of this list? If you could only have one which would you pick?

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I had a grandiose idea for a nature photo post while I was visiting my parents vacation home in Indian River, MI this Thanksgiving. I quickly found out though that you're not supposed to go outside when your parents live in the middle of a forest during hunting season unless you're wearing orange. 

Two problems:
1. Orange is not my color
2. Hunters still accidentally get shot every year even if they're wearing orange, right?

So I passed and my camera got put away for most of the entire time that I was there. 

I did have some time to play with my dad's speedlight. Since it didn't work full auto on my camera there was a lot of tinkering to be done. I think this photo came out nicely. It was pitch dark outside and I'm pretty thrilled with the amount of natural looking light. So, if you'd like to get me something for my birthday which is a mere 14 days away. Ahem. Ahem. :)

I made a Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole. My parents had never had it before. It was really good and I'll share the recipe sometime soon. 

I also did a riff on no knead bread which I'll be sharing this week. This one will be one that I'm sure will grace my family's table for years to come. 

Also this week: 
Three Bean Chili w/Semolina No Knead Bread
Herbed Red Potato Soup
Black Bean Salad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jay-Z's Wings

Isn't this a pretty photo? I have no idea who took it. ;)

People Magazine 2011 Super Bowl Edition
Friends, make these for the men in your life the Lions game. You won't regret it. Never mind that Thanksgiving is on the same day. They are delicious.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. My husband and I are headed here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Photo Mash Up

I'm going to start something on Sundays on here... a weekly little mash up of my favorite photos, or things that I've procured during the week. Or maybe something that just deserves a little commentary.

Marc bought me this. I think it's funny and useful.

I've been having trouble with my photos lately because I like to use natural light. This is how Chicago apparently looks until Spring. 
Can you guess the time that I took this?

Nope, not 4.

Not 3. 

11:30 AM! 

I'm going to buy a shoe mount flash. 

Lastly. I'm embarrassed to tell you how long this thing has already been up. It's our first big Christmas tree. Our old Brooklyn Apartment was the size of our living room and since it already felt like we were living in an episode of hoarders after we put away all of our wedding gifts a tree was just not possible. Lately, when we wonder where our kitten, Jinx is, it's very likely that you'll find him lounging in the middle of the tree. Every morning the tree needs to be redone because he "redecorates" at night. He's such a little designer. 

Have a relaxing Sunday friends!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Broccoli Spring Rolls

This is an instagram photo because a nameless professional photographer forgot to charge all three of her camera batteries.

Why broccoli, you ask? Why not. You know how I love antioxidants and broccoli is full of them. You can serve them with rice or as an appetizer while watching the game. That's right, trick your husband into eating vegetables and Go Lions!

Broccoli Spring Rolls
Makes 20 spring rolls, serves 4-8 hungry men

1 bag of broccoli slaw (if you'd rather have the typical spring roll, sub 1 bag of coleslaw mix)
1 bag of bean shoots
3-4 Shiitake mushrooms, diced (did you know Shiitake's contain lentinan? Lentinan is used as an anticancer agent in Eastern countries)
1 tsp ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp lite soy sauce
1 package of egg roll wrappers

water for sealing the egg roll wrappers
vegetable oil for frying

In a saute pan, combine broccoli slaw, bean shoots, mushroom, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the bean shoots and broccoli are slightly softened. 

Lay out your egg roll wrappers, so they form a diamond, not a square. Place the filling into the rolls. I use about 2 tbsp, give or take.

Get your fingers wet, and lightly run them around the edges of the wrapper. Take the bottom point of your wrapper and fold it over the top of the filling. Fold the sides in towards the middle and roll the filling towards the top of the wrapper. If you got it wet enough, it should be sealed.  

Place spring rolls in a deep fryer or a heavy bottomed pan with about 1 inch of oil. 

Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. 

Dip in your favorite soy sauce, duck sauce, or get creative and make something of your own. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Classic NYC Bodega Sandwich

You know what I miss about NYC the most?

The food.

I was never really in love with the people or the hustle and bustle, the sirens, nosy neighbors, and people always assuming that I was Russian because I have wide shoulders. Russian, really? I have the nose of an Englishman and the ice blue eyes of my Irish ancestors.

I'm happy to report that after four months in Illinois not a single one of these things has been a problem. I did, however have a little bit of a problem finding the food that Marc and I had gotten accustomed to enjoying.

Last Thursday when Marc was out of town I went on a bit of a personal mission. You see, I am obsessed with this sandwich. I used to go to work with Marc when he had short days if I wasn't busy just because they had this perfect sandwich in his old college cafeteria. It had been way too long and I had to find a way to make it.

What is it about your significant other being out of town that makes us crave food that we seemingly have forgotten about?

After a little research I drove to Naperville and found a market that carried what I needed.

To make this, you need to procure:

-*Boar's Head Brand Cracked Pepper Mill Turkey Breast (This is the brand that all Bodega's use)
-Boar's Head Brand Yellow American Cheese
-Tomato (I always skip the tomato because I hate the way it makes everything slide off the sandwich)
-Mayo (Skipped this too. I think mayo is gross)
-A good quality bagel, or if you're desperate, get the frozen kind. This sandwich will still be good.
I do have a great bagel recipe to recommend here, but I was hungry and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Toast your bagel, add about 4-6 pieces of your lunchmeat, one piece of cheese, and your choice of toppings. Slice this thing of beauty in half, and thank me later.

*Boar's Head did not endorse or solicit this post. It comes from a place of pure sandwich love. 

What do you make when you're home alone?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegan Friendly Corn Casserole & Food Network's Virtual Thanksgiving

One of my grandma Ginny’s great joys in life (and mine), is gifting me her small town community’s semiannual cookbook. Compiled by the residents in Lovells, Michigan, her social group, “The Cheerful Givers,” donates the funds raised by the cookbook to the town’s volunteer fire department.

This dinner entree, which I recommend incorporating into your Thanksgiving menu if you have any vegetarians or vegans joining you, is adapted from Barbara Loar’s recipe, which calls for a tortilla-based crust with chicken and pinto beans. For my family’s tastes, I reduced the onion, added red pepper, and made this into more of a pie, with a cornmeal crust.

When I told my husband what we were having for dinner, he politely said he he trusted my cooking skills, but couldn't see this turning out good.

And then he ate what would've been the leftovers along with his words. He would now like me to make this every week for the rest of his life.

Vegan Friendly Corn Casserole
Serves 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups of corn
1.5 cups of kidney beans
1.5 cups of chopped tomatoes or 1 14.5ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cornmeal crust
1 1/4 cups of white corn meal
1 tsp salt
1 cup of grated vegan Jack or Cheddar cheese
5 cups of water

Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add bell pepper. Continue to saute until onion is golden brown. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the corn, beans, tomatoes, and all seasoning. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes.

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Slowly pour the cornmeal into the water, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Once smoothly incorporated, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. If you taste this it is going to taste salty. Don't worry, it all comes together.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Coat a 2.5 quart casserole dish (I used a deep pie dish) with cooking spray or butter. Line the bottom with half of the cooked cornmeal. Ladle the skillet mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Top with remaining corn meal, making a smooth top.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cornmeal is golden brown and crusty. Let stand for 15 minutes. Cut an serve.

This recipe is a part of Food Network's Virtual Thanksgiving. Browse the links below to get more great Thanksgiving recipes from participating food bloggers:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She's Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder 
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup
The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That's Forking GoodCinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes
Even more:
Kitchen CoursesThanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce

There are a few things that I've always been intimidated to make, gnocchi being right up there. I still have yet to brave my first cheesecake too. After reading up on the health benefits of sweet potato recently I decided to finally brave the gnocchi monster. You know what I discovered? They were so easy to make. A little messy, but easy.

Along with having anti-inflammatory and blood sugar regulating properties AND being gluten free they also do amazing things for your skin... and the best part, you have to eat them with fat to get the most benefits. Hello butter!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit, Makes 10-12 servings

2lbs of sweet potatoes
1 12 oz container of ricotta, drained in cheesecloth for 1 hour
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
2 tbsp salt
2 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour, plus extra flour for rolling.

Microwave sweet potatoes until tender. About 15 minutes.
Scrape sweet potato flesh into a food processor. Add ricotta and blend.
Add maple syrup, pumpkin spice, salt and flour. Blend
Gradually add flour until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out on flour surface. Divide into 6 pieces. Take a piece and roll it out so it's the thickness of a thin cigar, dough will be about 20 inches long.
Sprinkle dough with flour and cut into gnocchi sized pieces. I did 3/4 of an inch pieces here.
Lightly press a fork on each piece to make an indentation.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil gnocchi until tender. About 6 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet and cool completely.

Butter and Sage Sauce:
I used Mario Batalli's recipe

Toss the gnocchi in the butter and sage sauce and serve.

If you want, you can freeze these too.

If you have a foolproof cheesecake recipe please send it to me. I'd love to try to make one for my birthday next month.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black Bean Tamales

I got hooked on tamales when my mother in law bought them for Christmas dinner one year. She ordered them from the famous Evie's Tamales in Detroit.

Tamales are traditionally made with lard, and as you're probably getting the gist of from my previous posts, I don't like using ingredients that are known artery cloggers. I knew I had to find a way to sub it. I tried a few different oils, some sour cream, and settled on corn oil. It gives them a nice consistency and brings out the taste of the Maseca.

Before you embark on this recipe know that they do take a while to make. It's about an hour and a half from start to finish assuming you've precooked your beans and don't double this recipe. If it's your first time making them it will likely take you a little bit longer until you get the hang of spreading and wrapping. I suggest using your hands. Don't be afraid to get dirty here. It also goes faster if you recruit your friends or husband to help you. This masa is nearly impossible to get off of your counter, so I line mine with a little water and lay some plastic wrap on top. It makes for an easy cleanup.

Black Bean Tamales
This recipe makes about 10-15 medium sized tamales

3 cups Maseca Corn Masa mix for tamales
3 cups of organic broth (vegetable or chicken)
1/2 cup corn oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups of cooked black beans (Cook them however you like, For this recipe I used Jennifer Perillo's "A Not So Simple Pot of Beans", if you don't want to go meatless sub 2 cups of rotisserie chicken)
12 ounces of your favorite salsa, chile, or tomatillo sauce 1 bag corn husks

Soak the husks in warm water until soft, this can be done overnight, but if you forget it takes about 1-2 hours, so do this ahead.

Mix the Maseca, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add the corn oil and broth.

Spread the masa evenly over a husk. If the wrapper is vertical your spread should be about 2 inches wide, 4-5 inches long, and 1/4 of an inch thick. Leave enough room on the narrow bottom part of the husk to fold up. You'll need about an inch for this. Place about 1 tbsp of your filling in the middle of the Maseca mixture and top with your favorite sauce, can be salsa, tomatillo, chile, or a mole, I've even used a softrito. It's all good.

<-----It should look something like this

Fold the sides of the corn husk to center over the masa so that they overlap to make a long package. Fold up the excess on the bottom and tie with a "string" from a husk.
Once you've folded it, it'll look like this.

There's a lot of different ways to fold these, so if your family does it differently, feel free to do it however you like.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and place steamer basket on top. Place a lid on top. Place the tamales so the the bottom part that you folded over is on the bottom and open top is facing up. Steam for 1 hour or until the Maseca pulls away from the corn husk when tested.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, chile, or tomatillo sauce.

These tamales freeze beautifully too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Skinny Vanilla Chai Latte

I have a slight confession.

Since we've moved to the suburbs I have to drive places that I used to typically walk to. This has been good for my bank account because now if I want something that requires driving I just try to just make it at home. Driving is so much work. Gas is expensive.

So, the other night when I was dying for a Chai Latte and didn't want to drive to Starbucks or spend my pennies on it I took matters into my own hands. And let me tell you, it netted delicious results.

Skinny Vanilla Chai Latte
Makes two lattes, or one if you have a big mug

1.5 cups of water
1 cup of skim milk
2 tsp black tea
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 large strip of orange peel, or 1 tsp of dried orange peel
3 cloves
2 whole black peppercorns
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp of white sugar, or 2 packets of splenda

Combine the milk and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it's warm place the remaining ingredients into the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until the color deepens, about 2-3 minutes. Strain, and enjoy.