Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some recipe updates and improvements

I haven't been updating this blog to frequently since the summer.  There are a few reasons for this.  Work has been busier.  We have early empty-nester syndrome, which means that we do a lot of things (meditation programs, salsa lessons, Jewish text classes, Talmud study and occasional concerts and movies, to name a few). All of means that although I still cook alot, I tend to repeat old favorites from cookbooks and  online, including this blog, and haven't been experimenting with and testing new recipes as much as I used to.  The new recipes will come, though it may take a while. I had been toodling around with a Southern-Indian style watermelon peel recipe, and then watermelons went out of season. 

Meanwhile, experience and feedback from some readers has led me to modify some of the recipes in this blog.  On reader pointed out the ambiguity in language in the Yemenite Beef and Potato Stew recipe so I fixed that so that it is clear that it is prepared without adding water.  I changed the recipe for Teiglach to add a variation that was very popular with our guests on Rosh Hashanah -- with pistachios and dried cherries, and if my father's family (The Pruzhane Short People's Benevolent Association) is very lucky, I will make it for them this way at next week's Hanukkah party. 

And, speaking of Hanukkah, I modified the my recipe for Potato Latkes to indicate that I prefer them with less onion than some, and that you should add additional onion if you want a really onion-y latke.  You absolutely must try these latkes however, with whatever amount of onion you prefer.

That is all for now, more to follow. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baked Plums: my easiest recipe

I have come to realize over the years that I have very different standards than most people for what constitutes a "fast and easy" recipe.   Though this takes about an hour to bake, no one will dispute that it is EASY.

We first had it at Balkanika, a Macedonian restaurant on Ninth Avenue.  They served it with whipped cream, which we didn't particularly care for.  The ideal accompaniment would probably be kaymak, a Balkan clotted cream, if you can find it.  But ice cream or sorbet is easily available and quite good.  It is a great alternative to baked apples.  The flesh is always tender and the cooked plums have their own tart/sweet complexity that requires little additional seasoning.  You just have to remember that there is a small and very hard pit in the center.  This has become our Friday dinner dessert of preference when we don't have guests, because it is low in both effort and calories. 

Baked Plums


  • 2 medium-large black plums per person
  • Vegetable oil or spray
  • Honey and cinnamon (optional)
  • Vanilla ice cream or coconut sorbet (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Oil  or spray a baking dish that will fit all of the plums snugly.
  3. If you want, drizzle lightly with honey and dust with a little cinnamon.
  4. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, depending on size of the plum.  Ideally, they should not burst.  They can stay warm in a turned off or low oven for a long time.  (If holding in a warm oven, cut down on the baking time.)
  5. Serve warm, ideally with ice cream or sorbet.

Notes:  I don't prick the plums before baking.  This will prevent them from bursting (which usually doesn't happen in any case) but it also causes the juices to run out.  There isn't much more to say, this is really simple.