Tuesday, October 22, 2013

PB+C Birthday Cake

I made this cake last Friday for my sister in law's birthday. Since she is a choco-holic I knew I had to find something decadent that would fit the bill. This recipe is so incredibly simple, airy and delicious. It uses a little oil and doesn't have any eggs or margarine, so it can even be considered "healthy". I found the recipe on a great cooking site which promised that this will become your go-to chocolate cake and I completely agree it has. The batter is very easy to put together and the ingredients are things you most probably already have in the kitchen. The cake is great on its own, but since it was for a birthday I enhanced it a bit. I made a double recipe and sliced each cake into 2 layers. Between each layer I spread peanut butter frosting and then frosted the outside with chocolate frosting and garnished the sides of the cake with crushed peanuts. Best part of baking birthday cakes instead of buying them? Getting to lick the bowl :) Happy Birthday!

Chocolate cake recipe adapted slightly from Cafe Beaujolais (Ten Speed Press, 1984).

Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbs neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs cider of white vinegar

Heat oven to 350° F or 175° C.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla and vinegar.
Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. If lumpy, whisk until smooth, or pour through strainer in to a bowl and break up lumps, pressing them though.
Pour into a greased 9-inch round cake pan.
Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches to the counter several times to pop air bubbles.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently.
Cool before removing from the pan and dust with confectioner's sugar or top with frosting if desired.

I did not have any vanilla so I used hazelnut liquor instead (hazelnut+chocolate=Nutella yum).
I dissolved one tsp of coffee into the water to help boost the chocolate flavor.
To slice cake evenly into layers I went around the edges with serrated knife then took a long piece of dental floss and pulled it through the cake to make an even slice.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 stick margarine softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp soy milk
1-1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or if you've got a strong arm) beat together margarine and peanut butter until fluffy. Add sugar and stream in soy milk. Add more sugar or milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Chocolate Frosting 
1/2 stick margarine melted
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 Tbs soy milk
1/2 tsp coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla or hazelnut liquor

Mix together melted margarine, cocoa, coffee and vanilla or liquor. Slowly add in confectioner's sugar and soy milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Late Night Mac and Cheese

When I was growing up, an after Shabbos treat in our house was "Saucy Noodles". My brother invented the dish and while we teased him about it, we all came to love it. This is a more adult version of that childhood favorite. It was created several weeks ago after my friends and I returned home from Motzai Shabbos Slichot. On our walk home at about 2 AM, my friends said they were hungry so we stopped at the 24 hour store and picked up some food. I pulled together this creamy comfort food in less than 20 minutes. All it took was about 5 minutes for us to eat the entire thing. This might not be the healthiest thing to be eating in the wee hours of the morning but who cares? It's delicious. Sorry that there is no picture of this dish, we were just too hungry

1 lb (or 500 grams) pasta. Any shape you have on hand will do
3 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic sliced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbs flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup shredded cheese preferably mozzarella, but anything you have on hand will do
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and a big pinch of salt (the key to great pasta is salted water) and cook according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute then whisk in flour. Cook for about a minute, then slowly whisk in milk and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. When it comes to a simmer, mix in the cheese and make sure no lumps have formed. Add more milk if the sauce isn't the thickness that you desire. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Devour.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Red Lentil Soup with Tachina Swirl

The weather in Jerusalem is changing and I'm so excited! The temperatures are slowly dropping and I decided it was time for a thick hearty soup for dinner. The smokiness of the paprika and the heat from the chili powder give this soup that homey warmth feeling and lentils make this soup so deliciously creamy, you won't be able to resist a second helping. Rich in fiber, iron and protein, lentils should definitely become a pantry staple in your house (so should tahini paste, it's one of my most favorite ingredients, which you'll come to learn in later posts).
If you don't have a blender don't worry you can mash up the lentils with a fork or leave them as is.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion minced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 carrots diced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups red lentils
Salt and pepper

4 Tbs tahini paste
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
cilantro (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and carrot. Sauté for 5 minutes then add garlic and spices. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add lentils and enough water to cover them by one inch. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes until lentils are falling apart. Remove from heat and transfer to blender or use immersion blender. Bring the soup back up to a boil. In the meantime prepare tachina sauce. Mix together all the ingredients, you might need a splash of water to loosen it up depending on the thickness of your tahini paste. When mincing the garlic sprinkle a bit of salt on your cutting board and work it into the garlic as you mince, this creates almost a garlic paste and cuts down the assertiveness of the garlic so it doesn't overpower the sauce. Ladle soup into bowls and top with a swirl of tachina.
Serves 4.


I have always loved to cook and I have recently made aliyah and live in Katamon. I want to use this forum to display recipes I have developed, share helpful cooking tips and tricks, post pictures of delicious food that I make and see, and just share the fun I have in the kitchen. You don't have to be a professional or have any fancy tools, just the basics and an empty stomach. So join me on this new adventure of cooking in Israel.