A Late Evening Snack: Happy Jew Year

On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (the head of the year and the day of atonement respectively) challah is round, not the standard braided loaf. For those who aren’t carb adventurous, challah is the traditional Jewish egg bread served on the Sabbath. For the religious new year and day of atonement round challah is served to symbolize the circle of life from one year to the next.

This year I decided that I’d do something nice for my Mom for the holiday. So I made her a Rosh HaShana challah from scratch. I used LGF’s Vicious Babushka’s recipe for honey saffron challah, which you can find here. Braiding instructions for a round challah can be viewed here.

It was very easy to follow, everything went smoothly in the prep, and it baked up beautifully. It tasted as good as it looked. One note: I made what are called 3 lbs loaves. So basically my yield from the recipe were two very large loaves of round challah. I’ll be making two more at the end of this week ahead of Yom Kippur a week from tonight. Pics below in order of preparation.

Everything coming together in the mixer:

After rising and waiting for braiding.

Braided and waiting to be made into a round. Or, if you’re prepping for a highland games or Celtic festival, just bake it like this for a Judeo-Celtic Cross. Very ecumenical…

Final proofing:

Proofed and egg washed:

Fresh out of the oven and cooling:

Open thread!

Saturday Evening Open Thread

So, my Gators are playing Kentucky this evening. Last time Kentucky beat Florida, I was a student at the University of Florida. That was a very, very, VERY long time ago. Ronald Reagan was president!

However, we suck this year, so, this game could be all ‘Cats. They’re ahead so far.

Anyhoo, we’re eating tacos with homemade hot sauce, accented with Guatemalan sour cream, which is creamier, saltier and more delicious than regular sour cream.

What are y’all up to? Open thread!

Visualize Whirled Peas

I know there’s a series of acute global and national crises brewing. There’s climate change, which may have flung hurricanes and typhoons across the oceans like so many martial arts stars targeting our vulnerable coastlines. And the quickening investigation into the role a foreign power played in installing a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the Oval Office. And federal agencies repackaged as force-multipliers for rogue police departments and out-of-control border protection units. And smarmy liars trying to gut healthcare and social services to further enrich obscenely wealthy plutocrats. And our escalating showdown with the planet’s other nuclear-armed narcissist with a fondness for nepotism, military parades, sycophancy and preposterous hairdos.

To all that, I say, “Blaarrrgh!” Not because it’s not important. Not because I don’t care. But rather because, like the sole remaining team member in a dodge-ball match, I don’t know how to avoid the blows, so I’m curling up in the fetal position. This post is a pixelated manifestation of that phenomenon.

Instead of worrying about these grave crises, I want to know who is trying to shove green peas down our throats. Is there a Pea Council? A Green Pea Growers Association? Because some cabal is pushing peas, and they’ve infiltrated the highest levels of our media organizations and social media platforms.

The first salvo was The New York Times’ unconscionable suggestion that we put green peas in guacamole a couple of years ago, but that was just the beginning:

“Trust us?” How about “fuck no!” Suddenly the food section had become as unreliable as the political coverage. Thankfully, we still had President Obama to protect us back then:

And after that high-profile beat-down, the pea pushers kept a lower profile, but they haven’t stopped. For years now, I’ve stood by helplessly as peas crop up in the most unlikely recipes. I was just looking up ingredients for green goddess salad dressing, and damned if there wasn’t a video ad adjacent suggesting that green peas should be pureed and used to make a sauce for seared sea scallops. As fucking if.

I’ve got nothing against green peas. They have their place, which is alongside carrots, in soups, in a monoculture side dish and even smushed up with mint and served with fish and chips by the more tradition-minded purveyors.

But this business of adding peas to anything green or pretending that they are on the same culinary plane as butter, olive oil, scallions or garlic has to fucking stop.

Please feel free to discuss weightier matters, such as Trump’s wack U.N. speech. I’ll be over here trying not to visualize whirled peas.

Open thread!

The USS Sprinkles: Damn The Hot Fudge Torpedos!

The good folks at Task & Purpose bring us this great moment in US Navy gastronomic history:

On July 1, 1914, the U.S. Navy implemented the cruelest and most unusual punishment in its venerable history: a ban on alcohol.

Under General Order 99, drinking “alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station,” became prohibited, with commanding officers “held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order,” according to a U.S. Naval Institute reflection on the 100th anniversary of the ban in 2014. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels delivered the order; described as a “teetotaler,” Daniels was ridiculed in the press for the decision for years, only for the U.S. to constitutionally establish national Prohibition just six years later.

The Navy’s Prohibition pregame is memorable not just for its ridiculousness but also for giving American sailors (and eventually everyone else) an insatiable appetite for ice cream. Sure, ice cream’s been an American tradition since George Washington spent $200 on the treat in a single summer, but Prohibition created national cravings that persisted across military and civilian worlds even after alcohol was legalized again in 1933. If there’s nothing as American as apple pie, that apple pie tastes a billion times more patriotic with a scoop of ice cream.

Don’t forget the sprinkles!

With the ban on alcohol aboard ships in 1914, the US Navy sought to offset the loss of alcohol at sea and found that ice cream was popular among the sailors. It was so popular that the Navy borrowed a refrigerated concrete barge from the Army Transportation Corps in 1945 to serve as a floating ice cream parlor. At a cost of $1 million, the barge was towed around the Pacific to provide ice cream to ships smaller than a destroyer that lacked ice cream making facilities. The Navy proudly announced that the vessel could manufacture 10 gallons of ice cream every seven minutes and had storage capacity of 2000 gallons.

Back to Task & Purpose for a second scoop:

To that end, the Navy in 1945 borrowed a concrete barge from the Army Transportation Corps that, retrofitted with heavy-duty refrigeration units, functioned as a floating ice cream parlor for smaller vessels in the Pacific Ocean. Officially called a “BRL” (Barge, Refrigerated, Large, which sounds like a bureaucracy’s take on a Bond martini), the Navy’s beloved “ice cream ship” was basically a 265-foot-long ice cream factory, capable of churning out 500 gallons of the sweet stuff a day (USNI pegs output at 10 gallons every 7 minutes) and  stashing another 500 in its cavernous freezers — on top of some 1,500 tons of meat and 500 tons of vegetables.

The BRL wasn’t even the wackiest ice cream scheme that service members devised during those years at war. “By 1943, American heavy-bomber crews figured out they could make ice cream over enemy territory by strapping buckets of mix to the rear gunner’s compartment before missions,” writes Siegel. “By the time they landed, the custard would have frozen at altitude and been churned smooth by engine vibrations and turbulence—if not machine-gun fire and midair explosions. Soldiers on the ground reportedmixing snow and melted chocolate bars in helmets to improvise a chocolate sorbet.”

I’ll take a chocolate dipped soft serve swirl in a waffle cone with sprinkles please!

Stay frosty!


A Saturday Night Snack: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

Now we know why all the rum is gone…

Anyhow, TaMara is unavailable and asked if I’d fill in as the emergency backup food goddess. So I’ve gotten out the frilly apron, shined up the tiara, put on the oven mitts (which make it very hard to type), and we’re underway!

Yesterday I made a bananas foster bread pudding so I had just thing ready to go when called back to active duty.

Here’s a slice all set up for enjoyment served with salted caramel ice cream.


2 loaves of challah sliced regular

6 eggs

32 ounces of heavy whipping cream

1 cup of milk

2 cups of dark brown sugar

8 bananas

3 sticks of unsalted butter

Vanilla extract to taste

Rum to taste (or, if you prefer and don’t get hung up on tradition, bourbon) – the alcohol is optional if you want, prefer, and/or need to make a non-alcoholic version. I use a dark rum, but use whichever you prefer.

Directions: Bread Pudding

Let the challah sit a couple of days so it is just beginning to dry out and go stale. Then chop the challah into cubes and place in a very, very large mixing bowl. Combine the eggs, 1/2 the cream (16 ounces), the milk, 1/2 the sugar (1 cup), and vanilla extract to taste in a mixing bowl. Whisk until  everything is combined into a custard. Pour the custard over the cubed challah and mix it around to make sure all the bread is soaking up the custard. Set aside.

Directions: Bananas Foster

Peel and slice the bananas. In a large saute pan melt the three sticks of butter. Add the sliced bananas and allow them to begin to naturally caramelize in the butter. Once this happens add vanilla extract to taste and the remaining brown sugar (1 cup). Cook everything down until everything is well combined and a caramel is beginning to form. If adding alcohol, add the rum (or bourbon) to taste and continue to cook until the alcohol cooks off. Add the remaining cream (16 ounces), combining everything well, and then allow to cook down without breaking the caramel for several minutes. So this has to be watched, you can’t just walk away while it simmers.

One note: in a traditional Bananas Foster, as far as I know, you do not add cream to the caramel/rum sauce. I do it here because I want a slightly richer mouthfeel as I add it as a second custard to the bread pudding mix.

Here’s the Bananas Foster simmering away:

Directions: Banana Foster Bread Pudding

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a 1/2 hotel pan or equivalent pyrex or aluminum foil pan and spray it with your preferred cooking spray or butter it to prevent sticking. Pour the bread pudding mix into the pan. Then pour the Bananas Foster over the bread pudding and mix to incorporate well. Cover the top of the baking pan with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil. Don’t worry the plastic wrap won’t melt – it’s there to keep the bread pudding from drying out when baked.

Here’s what it looks like before it is wrapped and put in the oven:

Bake the bread pudding for an hour, then remove from the oven and cool. This is what it looks like after it has baked:

To Serve

The bread pudding can be served hot, warm, or cold. With ice cream, whipped cream, ice cream and whipped cream, or with more Bananas Foster spooned over the top. Or just plain.

As the base bread pudding recipe – the custard and bread mixture – is essentially a French toast/pan perdu, albeit diced up, a great way to serve it is to slice a couple of pieces and reheat them in a skillet in some melted butter as bread pudding French toast.

If you don’t like Bananas Foster, or bananas, or anyone named Foster (he knows what he did…), then you can skip that step completely. Or you can substitute a chocolate ganache for the bananas foster and make a chocolate swirl bread pudding. Or a caramel ganache. Or leave out the alcohol and substitute apples for the bananas and a make a caramel apple bread pudding. How you flavor the bread pudding is limited only by your imagination. And, perhaps, notions of decency and good taste…

And, obligatory:

Open thread!

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread

Remember when I made a Shrek birthday cake upon request for a family member a while back? A Puss in Boots (from Shrek 2) cake has been requested by another family member. I’m baking that cake now.

It’s going to be harder to get the decoration on this one right, I think. The future recipient specifically wanted it to depict the scene where Puss is all pathetic with the huge eyes.

Anyhoo, I’ll share pics later, nail it or nah. Open thread!

Summer Menus: July Week Three

JeffreyW’s yummy zucchini and summer squash

A bit delayed this weekend. No real excuse, except life, as usual, was a little hectic. Today I went for my first ride in at least a year. Had to test out my bike after the crew that was here to replace my furnace and add energy upgrades, also fixed my bike. Loved those guys.

When I got home, I was startled to find a hawk sitting peacefully in my driveway, awaiting my return. I believe he was a young Cooper’s hawk.

For this week, we are raiding the garden –  Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute featured along with a Family BLT on Monday.

One of JeffreyW’s many BLT photos. Now I’m hungry.

You can find all the menus and recipes here: July Menus Week Three

At least someone has fresh tomatoes…mine are a long way from JeffreyW’s crop.

Click here for the PDF of the shopping lists, July Week Three Shopping List. Reminder that they are color-coordinated and you can easily cross out ingredients you won’t be using.

Technically this is my BBQ pulled pork sandwich, but you get the idea.

Friday’s menu features Slowcooker Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, perfect for those hot mid-summer days when you don’t even want to fire up the grill.

I’ll be out of town next weekend, so next’s recipes could be delayed. I’m a little nervous – first time with the new pet sitter. She seems great and has had Great Danes herself. But I never know if Bixby is going to be a big lovebug or decide to throw his weight around. And fingers crossed Bailey doesn’t decide to eat any more furniture. Crazy dogs.

What’s on your menu this week? What’s your favorite summer garden food? Mine is corn on the cob. Someone asked in one of the recipe threads how best to cook on the grill. I like to peel down the husks, wash off the silks and then pull the husks back up and grill the wet corn. The steam helps it cook quicker. If you desire a little char  on the corn, once it’s done cooking, pull the husks off and grill for a minute or two more, turning often until desired char is achieved.

Open thread!