Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Blueberry Muffins and Breakfast smoothies

I’ve been making these muffins for breakfast a lot lately. They are from “The hummingbird bakery cookbook” – thank you Claire for the great, and very well used present.  I’m able to rustle up a batch in ten minutes now, such a wonderful breakfast. More often than not, I use frozen blueberries. Here In Canada I only like the cultivated blueberries, I’m not exactly sure what cultivated blueberries are, but I have a feeling that the have been sprayed with various insecticides, injected with hormones, and been genetically modified. Yup, love giving these to my kids for breakfast. Thing is, the other blueberries here are small and tart, and lousy in the muffins. These muffins are amazing – the buttermilk is a must, and they actually seem to improve with time

Blueberry Muffins
2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Cups  blueberries

Preheat oven to  350F.
Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a medium-large bowl and whisk with a fork.
Pour  the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract into a jug and mix to combine. Slowly pour into the flour mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter is just incorporated – don’t over stir. Finally, gently fold in the blueberries until evenly dispersed.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Leave the muffins to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Put the kettle on, turn the phone off and enjoy.
Makes 12

Another  great breakfast, especially for those less inclined to the muffin top, is a smoothie. I usually have this for breakfast, Some frozen raspberries and or blackberries, a little maple syrup, a little hot water, milk, blend, perfect.   I am of course STARVING by lunch time when I have this for breakfast, but hey.

Thursday, 7 March 2013


It’s been ages. Ages, I know. Making quick delicious dinners when one is busy is one thing, writing about them is a different thing entirely. It’s been busy with fun trips to England, where we ate amazingly well!

I’ve had a few requests for a quiche recipe. I’ve been a little apprehensive to give it out, I’m not sure anything containing pastry fits into ticking all the boxes healthy cooking, but primarily because it exposes just how easy it is to make an amazing quiche. So in Columbus, I sold cakes, artisan bread, salads, cookies, etc, but what The Cake box sold, more than anything else by far was quiche. I decide to start selling quiches because it’s simple to package and reheat. No one was as surprised as I was about how in demand they became. These sold so quickly. I know that they are going to become a regular in your repertoire, make as many as you can and freeze for an instant supper, or easy premade lunch. Serve with salad, lunch is done.


Quiche ( 4 ways)

1 premade pie crust (the secrets out!)

1 cup of roasted sweet potato/frozen thawed broccoli/frozen spinach/sautéed mushrooms or a combination of all (my favorite – spinach and sweet potato)

1 onion

3 eggs

3/4 cups milk

Salt, Pepper, garlic and onion powder

1/2 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, or Mexican blend if you can find)

  • If you’re making the sweet potato quiche, cube your sweet potatoes, roast with any seasoning that like, I go for my favorites – salt pepper, onion and garlic seasoning. Roast for around 45 minutes until golden and soft. You can freeze any excess.
  • If you’re making a mushroom quiche, wash and slice a small packet of mushrooms, season as desired – I use the same seasoning as with the sweet potato's.
  • Sautee the onion
  • Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  • In a jug whisk the eggs, followed by the milk and spices and whisk again. Set aside.
  • Place your premade pie crust on a baking tray, and dismiss any guilt you may feel.
  • Place your chosen vegetable, and sautéed onions in the pie crust. Pour milk over and sprinkle the grated cheese.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden.

Enjoy – it’s REALLY good!


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon (Beef Stew)

It’s getting colder – time for the most requested recipe of anything I make. French cuisine guys, but French cuisine ticking all the boxes. No butter, no cream, super healthy, super delicious. What makes this French is the deliciously savory flavors of meat and red wine – quite a bit of red wine. My mum – an excellent cook made this a lot, and one day we decided to add a little red wine, and it turned delicious into truly special. Stews do seem to be making a come back, but it might be best if you practice calling it beef bourguignon (bb) just in case. You will feel pretentious, but honestly, slopping dinner on the table saying ‘here’s ya stew’ makes it much less special then serving the exactly the same thing with a French name.
Surprisingly, kids LOVE this, really love this, don’t worry too much about the alcohol content. My mum always taught me that alcohol evaporates during cooking, or something like that, which I have blindly believed, but am a little nervous about publicizing such a statement on the internet, so ask Dr.Google if this is infact true before serving your children if you’re worried.
Now meat. we’re using lean chuck steak. I buy mine already cubed, and it is very lean here in Canada. In Israel I had more of a hard time getting the butcher to trim the fat “Ma Pitom?! (are you joking) the fat has all the flavor”. Well no, it really doesn’t. There is nothing flavorful about having a mouthful of fat. Please make sure you get meat with most of the fat trimmed off. The most economical and healthy way to view meat is as a garnish, a flavoring, rather than the focus of the meal. The cheaper cuts of meat need to be braised for a few hours, otherwise they’re too tough. This dish showcase the most humble cut of meat at it’s best. This bb is packed with vegetables – the more the better. Serve with rice and this is a meal, a very filling meal in it’s entirety – you’ll be able to feed a lot of people, while filling them up on vegetables so they’ll feel great, as well as very satisfied. I’m craving it just writing about it, which is saying something since it’s 9.30am on a Sunday morning. We really like brown rice in our house, but this served with basmati rice makes it a little more elegant – although if you can find brown basmati rice, that would be perfect.
Now – you’ll be chopping lots of carrots, mushrooms and zucchini's, and that’s pretty time consuming, but this is a very stress free meal. I would never suggest making this midweek for a midweek dinner, when you get in from work – you wouldn’t be eating until 10pm if you try that. But making a large batch of this and confidently serving this as your main meal on shabbos, or for any important meal is infact a time savor. Stews are always better reheated. The flavors deepen when it cools down so if you can make this the night before, you really should, and, as always make enough for two meals and freeze half, or if you want your instant work night dinners, freeze in portions, and freeze some cooked rice too, defrost the night before and reheat. What an amazing midweek meal to come home to.

We usually have this on shabbos, and have served it to many, many happy satisfied guests. If your inclination is to always pile more and more on the table – something that we’ll call the Susie Fishbein effect, please resist. This is enough, you’re enough. Your guests will think its enough. Picture your table. Beef bourguignon, Steaming rice and a bowl of steamed broccoli, and of course the left over wine from cooking. It’s perfect. Resist the temptation to serve more, for you main course anyway. The recipie I’m giving serves 8 at least, you’d be wise to double it.

A little oil
2lbs cubed chuck steak
2 Onions sliced
20oz Mushrooms quartered
15 Carrots peeled and sliced 1cm rings
4 Zuchinni sliced – 1cm rings
2-3 beef stock cubes
5.5 fl oz can tomato paste
1-1/2 cups red wine – not cooking wine, to taste
salt and pepper
  • In a large pot heat some oil on a medium high heat and brown your beef cubes briefly, once browned place the meat and pan juices onto a plate or dish and set aside. You may need to do this in batches.
  • Don’t clean out you pot, browning your meat has added lots of flavor already, and don’t worry if you have some meat pieces stuck on the bottom. Add some more oil to your pot, turn the flame down to medium add you onions and stir every so often with a wooden spoon, making sure your picking up the residue from the meat. When browned, add your Mushrooms, then carrots, then zucchini.
  • Have a swig of wine
  • Return the browned meat to the pot, pour water to cover everything in the pot. Crumble in the stock cubes, add the tomato paste and bring to a light boil and stir. Add the wine, salt and pepper and simmer for a couple of hours. Check for seasoning – You may find you prefer more wine.
  • If preparing for the next day, or even two days time cool and place in your fridge. There is nothing that ensures a good night sleep like having a delicious pot of bb in your fridge ready for the next night.
  • Serve with rice, and some steamed vegetables.
Enjoy and let me know if you’ve made anything on here and how it was!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Quick weekday dinners

After publishing my blog last week I had a lovely long conversation with my big sister. Claire is an ER doctor, and a mummy to a very gorgeous two year old. Yes. My sister is very very busy, and had a particularly long difficult day when I spoke to her. Claire and I both love to cook, and our long detailed conversations about what we’re cooking, what spices we’re using, etc take up a large part of our chat time and amuse my brother in law to no end. Last week however the conversation felt a little different. Once respective children were plonked in front of the tv/you-tube, Claire told me how much she enjoyed the blog (thank you) I asked Claire what she was making for dinner “Oh” she sighed, “I’m just making eggs”, and there, in just that tiny sigh I sensed a slight fatigued exasperation, just a hint, and the exasperation was, if I’m not wrong was directed at me. Well, I had just suggested on this blog “Chicken is fast food – it’s so easy! Go make it”, and explained how making fresh bread from scratch could save time. The recipes I gave last week are delicious, and easy, but not so helpful if you need to put dinner on the table in ten minutes. Well. So, I replied to Claire “That’s great! We love eggs!” and we do, and we eat a LOT of eggs.

So, this week I’ll give you three of our favorite meals, that are so easy and so quick, and two of them can be on your table in under ten minutes. And hopefully will make me more popular with my big sister. Now I’m not getting overly excited about writing about this kind of food. It’s MUCH more fun giving recipes for easy rum truffles or a delicious beef stew which I hope to give in the next few weeks, but these are probably some of the most useful meal ideas to have under your belt. All delicious, all satisfying, all thoroughly unsexy.... Think of them as your sensible walking shoes. In fact,talking of shoes, I once read that women in the UK have more high heels in their wardrobe then any other kind of shoe, yet wear them the least. That’s how we work. So, here we go, the most important food we need to master is the quick, healthy suppers, while the cookbooks we buy have the intricate complicated dinner party food.


Baked Potatoes

This isn’t a recipe of course. It’s a very enthusiastic reminder. In our weird culture where we either ban or worship carbohydrates we need to make sure we don’t go to extremes. The baked potato can be the base for a great meal. So unfashionable, but so delicious and satisfying. Scrub, and wrap your potatoes in foil and bake for an hour or so at 350° Fahrenheit, or if you want to eat sooner, set the oven to the hottest it will go and they will probably be ready in 40 minutes. Serve with whatever your heart desires. For me, it’s cheddar cheese and plenty of salt and pepper, but of course your options are endless, open a can of tuna and some sweetcorn, sour cream, parmesan, and never underestimate what some hot sauce can do for your food life. Honestly whatever you have lying around. Make sure you serve some salad with it – those prewashed leaves are really great. Dinner done. Most kids love this.
The most important thing now is that you make twice as many potatoes that you need for your supper. Keep them in the fridge in the foil!!!!

Almost Instant Frittatta

I make this a lot. This is the easy kind of egg dish to make for people that don’t like eggs. To me it tastes a little like a latke, mmm.
Now, take your already baked potato, and dice, leave the skin in delicious and nutritious – count on one small for a woman, one medium for a man.
Heat a medium/large frying pan – depending on how many people you are cooking for. Spay some oil on your pan and sauté your diced potatoes at a high heat until golden brown and crisp and crunchy. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on. While your sautéing your potatoes, whisk some eggs in a jug with a little salt and pepper. Two for women, three for men (I’m not sexist, men just need 500 more calories then women that’s all). Spray a little more oil in your pan, and pour the eggs over the potatoes. Once set on the underside, carefully flip over. Cut into wedges and serve with salad or some other vegetable. EASY!! Please try this – it’s really good.

Broccoli Soup

Children who don’t like vegetables, or soup, really love this. It’s great for a mid week lunch/dinner, but good enough to serve before a fancy meal.
In your saucepan or pot heat about 4-7 cups of water on high until boiling. Add as much or little chicken soup powder as you like and taste – I use all natural, vegetarian msg free, add some salt and pepper. Depending on how many people your feeding and how much leftovers you want. Add a bag or two of frozen broccoli, allow to cook for about four minutes, and puree with an immersion blender. Done. Check for seasoning.
Now I always make sure I have some cooked rice in a bag in the freezer – It’s a great habit to get into when you have some leftover rice. If you have rice, put some at the bottom of each bowl, and pour the soup over. If making this for children it’s a great bonus that the frozen rice cools down the soup. If your serving adults make sure you put the rice into your bowls after you’ve put your pot of water on to boil. Now there are days when this is enough of a dinner for all of us, but it’s probably a good idea to add some kind of protein to round out this meal, a boiled egg, some cheese, or, at this time of year a delicious mug of hot chocolate for dessert!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Artisan Bread and Hummus

I know I’ve lost half of you by now, just from reading the title, but don’t be put off. This is EASY! I promise. I have tired so many challah recipes and I can’t do it, I just cant. My challah making attempts have ranged from very disappointing to inedible, and all involved a monumental effort. SO not worth it. So I gave in, and did what any respectable Jewish woman would do and I brought my challah. Then, one day, when we were living in Columbus, Ohio, I realised something. It was actually going to take me longer to put coats and shoes on both girls, strap them into the car, schlep them to the kosher bakery, and then return home again, then to just roll up my sleeves and make my own bread, even taking into account that I would have to stop every 5 minutes or so to change a nappy(diaper), kiss a boo boo, put a princess dress on one of my princesses, answer the phone, have a glass of wine (come on as if...), etc. etc. So, I gave it one last shot. THANK GD because this is what I came up with and it’s truly amazing. Wow, it’s so so good, and so easy!

I’m so happy to be able to give out the recipe at long last. I couldn’t while we were in Ohio because I sold loaves and loaves of this. It went against every fiber of my being to say no when someone asked for a recipe, so here we go – enjoy Ohion’s. Flour, water, yeast and salt, that’s it. Traditional challah is made with oil, sugar and egg. It’s delicious, but like everything, the sweetness has become so mainstream that it’s not even special any more. It used to be that sugar was reserved for desserts, or special significant meals on Rosh Hashanah, and Thanksgiving when the sweetness was significant. Now however, it’s the norm for everything, and every meal to be so sweet. Taking a step back, and going back to savory, truly savory food is what’s special now.
This recipe has saved me a lot of time too. We’ve done away with providing an appetizer when we have guests because the bread is so good with the hummus, there is no need. For our Friday night dinners this is served with the hummus, zehug, a very spicy middle eastern chili spread that we buy, edemmame, (thawed and served with a sesame soy dressing – recipe to come), some olives and pickles if you fancy, prewashed salad leaves out of a bag, and of course wine. My husband has taken to roasting some beetroot (beets), then peeling and slicing it to serve with this. Pretty random I say, but always goes down very well. I sometimes make a quinoa salad if I have time, but there is no need at all.

If everything is arranged simply and beautifully, it makes it all very special. My favorite part of food preparation is the presentation. My good friend from Columbus, feels that 90% of the enjoyment of a meal is the presentation, not sure I would go that far, but if you preserve most of your energy for the presentation side of things, rather than staying up all night, rolling your rice in vine leaves, you’ll be much happier with the results.

Artisan Bread

Buy the very best bread flour that you can find. In Canada, I’ve only found one brand, but I really like it. I buy Robin Hood multi-grain bread flour – excellent. In the States I would only use king Arthur bread flour, you can even buy it in Walmart. Don’t waste your time trying to make it with all purpose flour. I triple the below recipe and freeze most of it in loaves in freezer bags. then thaw as needed. So this really does save you time, and a lot of money, and of course it’s so much healthier than the traditional oil and sugar laden challah that we’re all used to.
5 3/4 Cups bread flour
2 cups any combination of ground flax, whole wheat, rye, oat, or make this 100% white, in which case, use 7 3/4 cups of white flour.
5tsp Salt
4tsp Quick rise yeast
1tbs Sugar – you absolutely need this to activate the yeast.
2.5 Cups warm water
In a large bowl or jug place your yeast and sugar. Add the warm water which should be blood temperature, makes sense right? Whisk with a fork and leave for about 10-15 minutes until frothy on the top. If it’s not frothy start over. Either your yeast is dead, or the water was to hot or cold.

In the meantime, while your waiting for your yeast to frothefy, measure out your flour and salt in a big bowl and give it a little whisk with a fork. I use a cleaned out plastic toy bin, I don’t have a big enough bowl when I triple the recipe.
When your yeast is ready, pour the water into the flour, stir with your fork until almost incorporated, then pour out onto your clean, floured surface and kneed for about ten minutes until springy. It’s hard to explain the feeling, but you’ll know when it’s ready, it will feel alive and springy, just springy - you’ll see. You’ll probably need to add some more flour as you go.

Clean out your bowl, or stolen toy bin, pour a little oil in it, then place your dough in and roll around in the oil until covered. Cover with a towel or cling film. If you’re making this for the next day, well done on being so very organized, give yourself a pat on the back, and place in the fridge. Take out the next morning and allow it to come to room temperature. If your making this for immediate consumption, leave in a warm place for an hour or two, until doubled in size.

Once doubled in size, punch down, knead for a minute or so then form into any shape you desire. Score three lines with a serrated knife – just for the effect, then dust with a nice amount of flour. Allow to sit for half an hour, and then bake in a preheated 430° Fahrenheit for thirty five minutes until cooked through. Now the cookbooks always say knock on the underside of the bread until it sounds hollow. Maybe I don’t know what knocking on something hollow sounds like, but this has NEVER worked for me. I carefully insert my knife on the underside of one of the loaves to see if it’s cooked. If still doughy, bake for a little longer. If the hollow trick works for you, by all means.

Try to make this as close to serving as you can. It’s good the next day, but not even close to how amazing it is that first night. One of the reasons this bread is so good is because it contains absolutely no preservatives, but that also means you can’t plan on having it sit around all week for you to use for sandwiches. Don’t worry though, you won’t have any leftovers from this.
I got my very first food processor a few months ago – Really enjoying it. I brought the biggest one that I could find, which is a big time saver. About two weeks back my mum asked me what I was making for Friday night dinner, “well, to start, home made bread, and home made hummus...”, and then my mum cut me off, not to say, ‘oh darling how wonderful, I’m so proud, can I have that recipe”, nope, nothing like that, rather, “Oh darling, I think it’s probably time you went back to work”. Ha! Well, I know it sound like a silly thing to make, after all, the hummus that is sold in almost every supermarket is delicious, but this is REALLY good. Plus, it save so much money. I buy a big bag of dried chickpeas. Once a month I soak as many as I can in my biggest pot overnight, drain, rinse, then boil the heck out of them the next day, or to put it more politely, boil them for around two hours. Then I freeze in portions, ready to be plucked from my freezer when I want to make the hummus. If your eyes are glazing over, fine, whatever, buy yourself some cans of chickpeas, see if I care ;). Every recipe that I see is very heavy on the Tahina. I use very little – personal preference. In fact, if you want to make this without any Tahina at all it would still be pretty amazing.

2-3 cloves garlic (or to taste)
A pinch – I mean it, a pinch of cumin (don’t worry if you don’t have)
1 tsp. tahina
2 cups chick peas
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice

Place your garlic in the food processor and blitz. Add cumin, tahina, and blitz again. Add chickpeas, oil and lemon juice, some salt and process until wonderfully smooth. Check seasoning, its always easier to add salt at the end.

I like to smear this on a plate, or place in a nice bowl, drizzling with some olive oil, and sprinkling zatar a middle eastern spice mixture on top, or paprika, or chickpeas, or pine nuts...
Serves 8.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Ultimate Fast Food Meal - Roast Chicken, Roast Potato's and Green Beans

Ticking the boxes

My husband (S) and I are embarrassingly into ticking boxes. When he gets a chance to spend time with our girls, he likes to take them supermarket shopping - why? Because it ticks all the right boxes, 1. He gets to spend time with the girls, tick. 2. He gets to buy food, and look out for bargains - his new hobby, tick tick. 3. He gets the girls out of my hair, tick (and tick for me), 4. I don't have to do a big supermarket shop with both girls and then come home and drink half a bottle of vodka, tick tick tick tick.

Almost every meal I prepare needs to tick FOUR boxes:
  • It has to be delicious
  • It has to be healthy and balanced
  • It has to be easy
  • It has to be affordable

And so this is what this blog will be about. I'll present you with my favourite meals, and side dishes that can tick these boxes, hopefully helping you to enjoy the process more, be healthier and have a bunch more money in your pocket. We spend very little on our food bill - you can do it too.

We have lots of guests, and they never feel hard done by or have a clue that we make our food on this budget, in fact they really love the food and more often than not, ring me up up a few days later with pen in hand asking for a recipe.
It used to be that people were embarrassed about being frugal. I even remember complimenting someone on their dress – ‘Thanks, its from Primark’ she whispered. (I guess equivalent would be KMart in the states?) The very next year I complimented the same person on a really lovely coat ‘Primark – she beamed proudly, £7.99 – love it there’. Being frugal nowadays doesn’t mean your poor stingy or boring, it means you smart with your money and resourceful. Don’t be afraid of having a food budget, and sticking to it. It’s an achievement, and it will force you to be a better, healthier cook, I promise.

Here is a wonderful and easy meal suggestion to start with - one that many are intimidated by, yet is so easy and impressive. Pretty much this is everyones favourite meal

The Ultimate Fast Food Meal - Roast Chicken, Roast Potato's and Green Beans.

No really, Roast chicken really is the ULTIMATE fast food, and so delicious. I have been making this chicken for years, and while I have enjoyed flirtations with roasting chicken with wine, garlic and lemon, home made BBQ sauce, marmalade and oranges, and even duck and soy sauce, this is what I always come back to. It ticks all of our boxes and is so easy!

The Chicken

Chicken, cut up if available (1 chicken per 4/5 people is a good bet)
Garlic powder

Arrange chicken in a roasting pan, sprinkle the above ingredients over chicken, roast at 400° Fahrenheit on the top shelf of the oven until golden brown.

Cover with foil, place on 2nd shelf of oven, roast for another 45 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit.

If you like gravy, pour pan juices into a jug and wait for the fat to rise, skim off, pour gravy back into pan to reheat it. If you don’t like gravy, pour into a jug, pop into the fridge, when solidified take the fat off, put your gravy into a little bag in the freezer and use next time you make a soup – yum.

When done arrange on your platter – or serve straight from the roasting pan. If You have, why not sprinkle with some parsley or cilantro - it's the small things.

The potatoes

Potatoes - 1 large per person
Garlic powder
Rosemary (if you have, if not these potato's are still amazing)

Put a roasting dish with a little oil into a hot oven – the chicken should have gone into the oven about 10 minutes before you start this.

Scrub or peal your potatoes, whatever kind you like, you can even do this with sweet potatoes or a combination of both, and cut them into 6 roast potato shapes.

Take your pan out of the oven, put your potatoes in the hot roasting dish and sprinkle over the above ingredients, don’t be shy with the salt.

Place into the oven and they will be done when the chickens ready. When you move the chicken to the 2nd shelf, move your potato's to the top shelf. The potato's should be golden ,crispy, soft in the middle an delicious. You can keep them warm on a hot plate for around two hours, but I wouldn't recommend you reheating them

The Green beans
There is a trend now to serve green beans with lots of oil and brown sugar, to me it's a shame. If cooked correctly, green beans are so good on their own, and served with the chicken, with some of the gravey, mmmm.

1 bag of frozen green beans
A little salt

Boil water in a medium pot

Take your green beans out of the freezer, place in a strainer and rinse with hot water from the tap.

When the water in the pot has boiled, steam your green beans for about 4 minutes until delicious and crisp. This works with almost any frozen vegetable.

That its – such an amazing meal. Serving the chicken rice makes this even easier. Hands on time is minimal, and if arranged nicely, totally has the wow factor.