Challah

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I made challah today, following a recipe I’ve used several times before (here). It came out beautifully, but didn’t rise enough. I’ll have to figure something else out next time. For now, though, this will have to do.

My family is Jewish, and challah was everpresent at synagogue on Saturday mornings. Round challah with raisins was a special favorite for Rosh Hashanah, the new year. It lends itself well to sandwiches, or just being slathered in honey. But my favorite is French toast. I can’t wait to share this with my friends on Friday.

Making challah is fun and easy. It takes all day, but most of it is hands-off, and it’s worth it. Mixing and kneading takes up all of 15 minutes, and then the rest is 3 separate risings, during which you can do chores, cook the rest of your meal, or read. It would certainly be easier with a stand mixer, but until I get one…

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Catching up

I’ve been so bad about posting. I’ve also been bad about cooking, so I guess it makes sense. Last week I went on a much-anticipated and much-needed vacation to California, so I could visit family and watch two very close friends get married. While I was there, I got some impromptu cooking lessons from my friend Maddy, who is trying to start her own catering company. (San Francisco Bay Area readers, take note, and find her at The Barbarian Gourmet.) Her task for the wedding was to make all the food for the bachelorette party, which took the two of us a couple of days, in between all the other wedding-related tasks. But we did it, and I still dream of her Israeli couscous salad.

Also while I was out there, I visited my cousin and her (very) soon-to-be husband. They own a beautiful 3/4-acre lot filled to the brim with over 200 trees and vines. Very nearly our entire dinner came from their garden. I really enjoyed talking with both of them about growing seasons and living sustainably. While most of their plans are far, far out of my reach, I’m definitely more motivated to start a garden than ever before.

This Friday, I’m having the first of what I hope will be monthly dinner parties. The theme is breakfast and I’ll be prepping for it all week. My hope is to post on everything I make, either as they come out or next weekend. So keep an eye out for

  • Challah (and Challah French toast)
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pop Tarts (really!)
  • Crustless quiche
  • Hashbrown waffles
  • Potato-leek soup (not for the party, but because I got a lot of potatoes and leeks in my CSA box this week)
  • Black bean cakes (need something protein-filled to go with the soup)

Tomato Pie

Tomorrow I’m going to an outdoor play with a bunch of people, and even though it wasn’t strictly necessary to bring a meal to share, I decided I would anyway. Coincidentally I had a lot of tomatoes to use up. I queried my social networks and ended up getting talked into tomato pie.

Now, I am not a Southerner. Tomato pie is a distinctly Southern food that I’ve never even eaten, let alone thought about making. But it looked easy, so I decided to go for it. Looking at the mayonnaise content, though, nearly gave me a heart attack. Luckily, my CSA recently posted a recipe for homemade mayo that made me feel better about slathering a pie in 3/4 cup of it.

So the first step was making the mayo.

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You need: eggs, a lemon, canola oil, olive oil, salt, and mustard.

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The eggs, lemon juice, mustard, and salt went into my trusty stick blender.

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After mixing in the oil, I poured it into a jar, and this is the final product. It’s delicious and rich. Like store mayo but ten times better. I find the consistency a little thin, but that can be improved with more oil, and probably with extended refrigeration.

Important tips: the eggs are raw. There’s no way around that. If you’re not keen on eating raw eggs, you shouldn’t use this recipe. But you can avoid getting sick if you use safe eggs (know your source), keep it in the fridge, and don’t use it in recipes that will be left out all day. Once you’ve made it, use it inside of a week.

Even though about half this batch went into the pie, there’s a bunch left. I foresee many sandwiches this week.

Next, it was onto the pie.

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(Yes, it’s a pre-fab pie crust. Shh.)

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In the crust: a whole yellow onion, chopped; a jalapeno, chopped, for a little kick; 6 or 7 roughly chopped and seeded tomatoes.

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Topped with 3/4 cup mayo mixed with 1/3rd cup Parmesan and a little more than that in mozzarella.

And 35ish minutes later…

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Can’t wait to cut this up tomorrow!