Sunday, December 19, 2010

Iraqi Meat Stew with Peas

4 T butter
2 lbs beef or lamb, cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium onions, diced
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz), with their juice
1/2 cup water
2 t cumin
1 ½ t allspice
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté meat (in small batches) in butter over medium heat until brown, stirring often. Remove meat, and add cilantro, onions and garlic to pan. Sauté until onions begin to brown. Add spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add back the meat and its juices, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add peas and cook another 20 minutes or until the meat is tender and the peas are cooked. Serve with hot rice or egg noodles.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lemon Bars

Makes about two dozen 1 1/2- to 2-inch squares.

The lemon filling must be added to a warm crust. The 30-minute chilling and 20-minute baking of the crust should allow plenty of time to prepare the filling. If not, make the filling first and stir to blend just before pouring it into the crust. Any leftover bars can be sealed in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to two days.


The Crust

1 3/4

cups unbleached AP flour


cup confectioners' sugar , plus extra to decorate finished bars


cup cornstarch


teaspoon table salt


tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at very cool room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus extra for greasing pan

Lemon Filling


large eggs , beaten lightly

1 1/3

cups granulated sugar


tablespoons unbleached AP flour


teaspoons grated lemon zest from 2 large lemons


cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained


cup whole milk


teaspoon table salt


1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and line with one sheet parchment or wax paper. Dot paper with butter, then lay second sheet crosswise over it (see illustration 1, below).

2. Pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second bursts. (To do this by hand, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Freeze butter and grate it on large holes of box grater into flour mixture. Toss butter pieces to coat. Rub pieces between your fingers for a minute, until flour turns pale yellow and coarse.) Sprinkle mixture into lined pan and, following illustration 2, press firmly with fingers into even, 1/4-inch layer over entire pan bottom and about 1/2-inch up sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

3. For the filling: Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.

4. To finish the bars: Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes. Following illustrations 3 and 4, below, transfer to cutting board, fold paper down, and cut into serving-size bars, wiping knife or pizza cutter clean between cuts, as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over bars, if desired.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pantry Chocolate Cake

When you're desperate for chocolate, and you don't have any in the house, you can make this cake from pantry staples.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brewed coffee*
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased 8 inch square pan. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

*The recipe card in my mom's index did not say "brewed coffee", just "coffee", and when my sister and I first made this cake on our own as children, we put in 1 cup of Folger's crystals and added some amount of water when the batter looked dry. The cake turned out crunchy from all the crystals and inedible to the adults of the house. However, my sister and I loved it, and we became quite caffeinated feasting on it.