Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I know that today is quatro de Mayo, but I thought you might appreciate this recipe in case you're in a festive mood tomorrow.

The Five Sisters hail from NW Denver, a place where Cinco de Mayo is more than an excuse for frat boys to sit around slurping margaritas, swigging Coronas and swallowing tequila shots.  It's a celebration of the under dog.  It means friends, family and cruising down Federal Boulevard. It also means Mexican food, really good Mexican food.  Which unfortunately doesn't exists here in the Chesapeake Basin (at least not that I've been able to find).  So I've taken matters into my own hands and decided to learn how to cook all of my hometown favorites.  Below you'll find my version of New Mexican Green Chile.

New Mexican Green Chile

6 pablaño peppers
2 jalapeño peppers
¼ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon cumin
3-4 cups stock
1 medium can high quality diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup Frozen corn (optional)
Salt to taste

Roast the chilies and jalapeños over a gas burner or under broiler.  When chilies are done their skin will be black and separated from the flesh of the pepper.  Allow peppers to cool and remove the charred skin, seed and dice into ½ inch chunks.  In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, add the diced chilies and continue to cook for a minute more.  Add the flour and cumin to the onion mixture and cook for five minutes over medium heat.  Add the sock one cup at a time and stir until combined. Add the tomatoes and corn, and allow chile to thicken over medium-low heat.

Note: If a thicker consistency is desired remove a ½ cup of the chile and combine with 1-2 teaspoons cornstarch, return the slurry to the main pot and stir.

Variation: I don’t eat meat, but I’m told this is delicious with pork or ground beef that has been browned and drained.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Boozy Blondies

While some of my sisters have spent the last week figuring out ingenious ways to keep their culinary creations both devout and delicious, I decided to take a more hedonistic approach. (Typical, I know).   

Blondies are often thought of as the Brownie's homely little sister. They're the plain one, not cool, not popular, not sexy.  Why anyone would be interested in these pallid pastries is beyond the imaginations of many, but not me.  Blondies--like many boring babes--can be awesome, you just need to get some booze in them (I kid, I kid). But seriously, they're a great blank canvas, and like the protagonist of many a teen movie, you just need to look past your preconceived notions of what a blondie is, and you'll see that there is "life-of-the-party" potential in this puddin.  

Boozy Blondies
1/2 cup dark rum or bourbon
1/2 cup dried figs (cut in small pieces)

2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour — if you don’t have a scale, then scoop rather than spoon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (230 grams) melted, very warm, unsalted butter
2 cups packed golden brown sugar (420 grams)
2 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips/ chunks
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces (optional)
1 cup toasted coconut


  1. Heat the booze and pour over the figs, let this concoction sit for a while (I did overnight, but an hour or so should be fine)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. (176 C). Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil or parchment paper or foil.
  3. Decant the liquor from the figs, and save both. 
  4. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and brown sugar. If you’ve used very hot butter, let the mixture cool for 5 minutes before beating in the egg. With a spoon or whisk, gently beat in the eggs, vanilla and rum. Stir dry ingredients into batter. Let the batter cool down if it is still warm, then stir in the chips, pecans, coconut and figs.
  5. Spread in pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until pale golden and edges start to pull away from the sides.

Seder Salad

Pesach burnout?

Is Matzo getting to you?  This is the perfect indulgence if you're going Kosher for Pesach this year and it makes a delicious salad whenever.
8 Cauliflower steaks
1/2 cup soft goats cheese, like a chevre
1/4 cup each parmagiano, pecorino and mozzarella OR for low sodium, compte, ementhaler and fresh mozzarella*
1 1/4 cup matzo meal
3/4 cups milk
A pinch of Spanish smoked paprika, Hungarian hot paprika, thyme, savory, whatever else you like particularly well 
1 cup of just one of the following oils: refined safflower and sunflower oils, peanut, safflower, soy, refined almond, avocado and cottonseed oil

1 head of lettuce or a bunch of mustard greens and spinach
1 firm, tart granny smith apple
A few springs of mint, basil, oregano, chives and dill
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp white sugar
2 cloves pulverized garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

*Other than the soft goats cheese, these cheeses can be substituted for whatever "kosher for passover" cheese you might have on hand.  Typically, two hard cheeses and one semi-hard cheese, like a mozzerella or a swiss, makes for the best consistency.

Chop the cauliflower into eight, large steaks, about a quarter inch thick.  Imagine that you want it to look like thick cut pastrami that has been put through a deli meat cutter.  Next, put goat cheese in a bowl.  Grate remaining cheeses and add.  Now, mix cheeses together thoroughly.  Wet hands slightly and make into 1 1/2 inch patties, about a third of an inch thick.  Now, put Matzo meal into a relatively large tupperwear container with a removable top.  Add dried spices.  Mix.   Now place milk into another similar container.  Place large frying pan on high heat stove top.  Add 1 cup oil.  As oil heats, gently press matzo onto cheese, followed by milk and then matzo again.  Continue until all cheese rounds are covered in matzo meal.  Now place into frying pan for about 45 seconds on each side or until are nicely browned.  Put on news paper to drain for about 8 minutes.  Now repeat with cauliflower steaks.  While they drain, chop up greens, chiffonade fresh herbs and cut granny smith apples into match sticks.  Reserve some fresh herbs and match stick apples, but toss the rest.  Emulsify garlic, sugar, vinegar and olive oil into dressing.  Dress salad.  Garnish with the fried cheese, cauliflower, reserved apples and herbs.  L'chaim!

For trends in kosher cheese, click here

Hungarian Lemon Cake with Roasted Plums


As promised, here is the recipe for Jutka's süti!  The measurements are Euro-metric, and while you might not all have a food scale, you do all have the internet!  I'm sure you can figure it out...

Jutka's Lemon Cake with Roasted Fruit

4 eggs, separated
20 dk butter
20 dk sugar
20 dk self-rising flour
1 lemon*
1/3 c. brown sugar* mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon (I eyeballed this last measurement, so just do what looks good to you)

Details after the jump!!

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. (If you beat the whites first, you don't need to wash the beaters.  Brilliant!).  Mix together the butter, sugar and egg yolks until smooth, then add in the zest and juice of the lemon.  Gently sift in the flour while continuing to mix the batter, then fold in the egg whites until just incorporated.  The batter will be quite thick and very fragrant.  Spread it out carefully in a large, well-buttered tart dish.  Arrange your fruit on top and give it a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.  Pop that baby in the oven at 375 for about 35 minutes, or until the top is gloriously browned, and the fruit is roasted to glistening perfection.  This tastes as good as it looks, which is saying a lot.

*A few words about fruit, flexibility and ingredients. Hungarian "brown sugar" is more like what we would call rapadura or raw sugar at home.  I think you could use granulated sugar or brown sugar, too, but if you're looking for precise results, I'd go raw. 

A few suggestions for mixing it up: Tonight, Jutka made this with lemon and 4 or 5 big plums, sliced in crescents.  Last week, she used vanilla, apples and fresh blackberries.  She says you can use whatever fruit is in season and looks good.  He favorite is strawberries (halved) with 1-2" pieces of rhubarb and lemon.  She also says a layer of roughly ground walnuts or pecans under the fruit, or a sprinkling of sliced almonds on top of the fruit is delicious (how could it not be?!).  Sometimes she foregoes cinnamon alltogether in favor of something else.  I'm thinking this might be a szupér vehicle for the first ripe peaches of Summer, with a little candied ginger whirled in the food processor with the sprinkling sugar. 

Since this is such a simple recipe, the really important thing is to use the very best ingredients.  Jutka gets flour imported from Italy and butter from France or Ireland.  The eggs and fruit are organic, from a farm not far from here.  Of course, Jutka's Gold Standard might be a little hard to replicate, but it definitely is inspirational, and the pudding is proof that she certainly knows what she's talking about!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Life gives you lemons...

In case you hadn't heard, it was Momo's birthday over the weekend.  And as The Professor was keen to point out "birthdays mean cake."  That child is wise beyond his years indeed (to be fair, I usually feel that when folks agree with me). So Sunday morning as the rest of the fam was at church, I went to my sacred space--the kitchen--and whipped up a luscious lemony bundt cake. It was divine if I do say so. I clearly missed the sunday school lesson on humility. 

Lazy Lady's Lemon Bundt
1 Box White Cake Mix
1 Box Instant Lemon Pudding
1/2 C Yogurt
1/3 C Sugar
1 C Powdered Sugar
Lots of Lemons! 

Follow the directions for making your boxed cake (mine called for 2 T vegetable oil, 3 egg whites, and 1 1/3 C water), except substitute lemon juice for half of the water (so 2/3 C in my case), also add the yogurt, pudding mix and the rind of 2 lemons to the cake batter. Bake according to box instructions (should be about 45min at 350 F).


Combine the 1/3 c sugar with 1/3 C lemon juice, and simmer until the sugar dissolves.

When your cake is done let it cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning out onto a drying rack placed over a baking pan.  Slooooooowly pour the lemon syrup over the warm cake giving it time to absorb the sweet/sour goodness.

Just before serving mix the powdered sugar with 2 generous tablespoons of Lemon juice to create a glaze, and slap that on the cake as well.

The result will be a lemon cake so moist and delicious you'll (or at least I'll) be craving it for the rest of the week.  Enjoy! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Purim Hamentashen!


  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Assorted fillings (I used nutella, apricot preserves, and blackberry jam)

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the orange juice and vanilla. Mix in the baking powder, then gradually stir in the flour until the dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch circles using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place circles on the prepared cookie sheets. Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling onto the center of each circle. Pinch the sides of each circle to form a triangle, covering as much of the filling as possible. The cookies may be frozen on the cookie sheets if desired to help retain their shape while cooking. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until light golden brown. These are best undercooked slightly. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

*basic recipe courtesy

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Salsa Verde

Chari's Salsa Verde with Ginger

The tomatillos look like they're covered in Chinese Lanterns.  I think they're so cute!

This salty sweet tangy yum is great on most anything but cereal and cake.  They are made with Tomatillios.  While one might think they are related to tomatoes, their closest relative is actually the gooseberry.

6 medium tomatillos
3 jalapeno peppers (depending on how spicy you want it, add more or less.)
2-3 medium limes, juice and peel
3 tbsp white or rice vinegar
1 medium large bunch cilantro
1 white or yellow onion
1 walnut sized knob of ginger 
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Wash everything.  Put tomatillos, peppers and onions in the oven on 450 for 30 minutes or til soft.  Remove and let cool. Place peppers in a brown paper bag (they'll be easier to peel) and leave for 15 minutes.  In the mean time, juice the limes, mix with sugar, vinegar, grated ginger and salt.  When veggies cool, place in blender, food processor or large mortar and pestle.  Add cilantro and pulse (or do whatever it is you do with a pestle) until you have a slightly chunky liquid.  Keep in a tight container for a week or so in your fridge. 

But I'm guessing it doesn't last that long!