May 31, 2010

Chocolate Ginger Cookies For Brave Kids

When it comes to hot and spicy food, I easily fall prey to the prejudice that is held towards my ethnic group. I don’t like hot food. I mean, some black pepper or a whole chili never really bother me, and in some cases are quite essential, but I never really eat spicy food which is so hot that it numbs your mouth. What’s the point to blur all the tastes in a dish for the sake of one? With that being said let me tell you that I absolutely adore very hot flavors that disappear after a second or two - like wasabi, mustard or ginger. I can eat those for breakfast.

I got the idea to make Chocolate ginger cookies from a cocoa mix Anna gave me on her stay here. Chocolate goes really well with hot flavors, and I thought that I never really tasted a chocolate cookie that had ginger in it.

I went to the “Organic Market” with my boy to buy some sugared ginger. Those little cubes were so beautiful that he immediately grabbed a big one and put it in his mouth, expecting a sweet marmalade like candy... “Oh, take it out! - it’s going to be spicy...” I told him right away with panic. And then, with the ginger cube still in his mouth, I kneeled down to meet his height, and said with a more relaxed sorry-I-acted-mommy-crazy-on-you kind of tone: ”Sweetie, this is ginger; it’s coated with sugar, but soon you will feel very hot in your mouth, so please take it out and try a smaller bite...” He spitted the chewed on cube, and then, after two seconds, the tears came rushing in. I think he never imagined that his taste buds are capable of feeling this way.

After making a batch of these chocolate ginger cookies, I filled our cookie jar, pleased with the outcome, but feeling a bit guilty because little “y” won’t be able to enjoy them. I thought to myself - O.K., these are adult cookies... but when my husband came home he didn’t get them at all. “Well, I guess there’s probably a good reason why you have never tasted a chocolate ginger cookie till this day”, he said. “The ginger just doesn’t work”. I disagreed with him, and just when I was about to taste another cookie to prove to myself I was right, little “y” stepped into the kitchen demanding to taste the cookie. I let him taste it after a long lecture about ginger and the way it made him feel in the market. He took one little bite and started crying again. I felt even guiltier: I was now making cookies which make my child cry, and not for the good reasons. I was sure he will spit out the cookie and throw it away, but surprisingly he took another bite, and finally finished it without making a sound.

This incident could lead me to one of the following conclusions: ginger and such flavors are acquired tastes, or a kid will put up with anything for the experience of chocolate...

Make these cookies for the right crowd, or choose to omit the ginger for great regular cocoa chocolate chips cookies. Either way, enjoy!

May 24, 2010

Our New Breakfast Hit: Muesli Snacks

Breakfasts are always a big issue in our house. We wake up late, left with 30-40 minutes of morning arrangements before we are rushed to say goodbye to each other, and then start our day apart. “What would you like for breakfast?”, We ask our little one. “mmm…white oatmeal!”, he would respond confidently. “Again?” we would ask with a bored look, and think to ourselves that really, we did not give him any more options (besides, maybe, cornflakes and fruit).

Getting your kid to like something new can be tricky sometimes. You have to be enthusiastic about it, but yet very cool. You have to make a bit of a fuss, but act like it was always part of the house’s menu. Four key elements that always work for me are:
a. show the dish “in its making” process first.
b. incorporate new tastes and textures with familiar ones.
c. always be the first biter, and let your kid ask:”what are you eating?”
d. don’t be too bummed if it doesn’t work, there’s always tomorrow or his adulthood...

But really, who am I kidding? If it’s sweet and there’s vanilla in it, it’s already in the bag.

So we gladly added something new to our breakfast menu, something light, healthy and quick - muesli snacks! I made homemade granola, which is really worth it. Well, not money wise, because buying all the good ingredients for it really cannot be too cost affective. You can easily find some well priced tasty granolas in the market today, but being the picky eater that I am, nothing beats controlling exactly what goes inside your homemade granola. I made this one with coconut, dried pineapples, walnuts, almonds and vanilla. It was so good, and a big jar of it lasted for almost a month. We eat it for breakfast with yogurt, honey and fresh fruit.

May 18, 2010

Cheesecake and A Gift From London


My friend Anna came for a short visit to Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago, after spending the last two years in London doing her Masters degree at the AA School of Architecture, and working for a well known architecture firm. After being away from home for so long, it’s almost impossible to try and fit in all you want to do in only a nine days vacation - family, friends, sights, restaurants, coffee shops, the ocean, and, of course, shopping!

That’s why we were very glad that for two days of her visit she stayed in our house. As for myself, I knew that I have to keep a balance between being the domestic loony hostess I am used to be (staying late the night before baking a cake, granola and crackers...), and giving Anna the space she needs in order to do whatever she wants to. And to put it in my own words: “Yes. Don’t feel obligated. treat us as a B&B...” .

I guess it’s like the balance between the things we say and the things we mean.…


We’ve celebrated her first day in the city by having breakfast at Cafe 12, the new and coolest café at Rothschild Av. by Mati and Ruti Brudo, and then came home to have some tea and cake, how British of us. I’ve baked the tastiest cheesecake by “Reviva&Celia”. Anna didn’t know I’ve baked her a cake, and yet she took out of her suitcase a beautiful Antique pie server by sheffield, how appropriate!. I made a vow to use it immediately, and not to keep it as 'the guests silverware' only. Thank you sweetie, for everything. miss you already...

I’m publishing this post at the last minute (as usual) and a second before Shavuot, so if you haven’t decided yet which cheesecake to make this holiday, this one is a safe bet, and if it’s too late for you, well, there’s always other opportunities to bake a good cheesecake.

I’ve made some really minor changes to the recipe, so if you want the original one you can find it in their wonderful book “Reviva and Celia - Sweets”.

For the base of this cake I’ve used some leftovers of very buttery polenta shortbreads, but you can easily replace them with petit beurres and a melted butter as followed. Enjoy!

May 6, 2010

On Maurice Sendak and Oatmeal Cocoa Pancakes

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Just like Mickey from “In The Night Kitchen”, the wonderful kid’s book by Maurice Sendak, I find myself many many times being awake in the wee small hours of the morning, trying to make something work.

It was always like that. I never knew how to manage time the way I wouldn't be left with last minute projects. Everything I was ever passionate working on always happened while everybody else were asleep. As a former Architecture student I found myself building models throughout the night (but hey, didn’t everyone?). Every party or birthday celebration always kept me deprived of sleep while I was planning, wrapping presents, picking out menus. Ever since I can remember myself, I have experienced my baking skills in the middle of the night.

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“Why?”, “Why are you doing it to yourself?”, my dear Mr. Y (my darling husband) asks in a judgmental voice..., “When will you learn ... to put things in perspective ... to start planning more early?” Well, the truth is - I admit that I like it this way. I like the silence, that non-pressure environment. I like that in those hours it seems like time has stopped and morning is very far away. I like the fact that it’s just me, and I don’t need to face the dreaded juggling between tasks, that I can do what I always do best: doing one thing at a time and doing it right (well, most of the time...).

So, this new blog is about my love to whatever meets the eye and mouth, for the love of baking, planning and making things nice, preferably in the night, in my nocturnal little kitchen. But not just - because I’m really trying to improve my ways, to "join society" and to manage my time more efficiently.

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For my first post on this blog, here’s something that won’t keep you up awake at night. It’s the easiest morning pancake, and just like Sendak's “In the Night Kitchen” ends with the promise of making an all time American pancake every morning (“Milk for the morning cake...”), I made a promise to myself to make a bunch of pancakes for my two guys every weekend.

This is the cocoa oatmeal version, which is slightly more corrupted, but of course they’re worth it... serve them with fresh fruit and lots of thick yogurt.