matcha, red bean, and almond rainbow cookies

I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.

I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.

Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.

I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!


Rainbow Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste

Red food coloring

3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam

4 oz (114g) dark chocolate

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


-yeh!

p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!

pizza bourekas

It’s been a while since we discussed pizza night recipes! Pizza night is obviously really exciting during the summer because the tomatoes and basil from the garden make every Friday a home run. In July, I got into such a great groove of sticking a pizza in the oven, running outside to the garden (or, more likely, sending Eggboy out), and yanking a few basil leaves to tear over a steamy hot margarita. Our basil did so well this year in its sunny spot in front of the house. When fall came, we transitioned to apple pizzas with apples from our trees and squash pizzas with some of the gajillion butternut squash that we grew, but my problem with those types of flavors that straddle the line between savory and sweet is that I love them sooooo much for about two days and then I immediately get sick of them and I can’t think about them for another year. 

So after the garden had truly died, we fell into kind of a janky pizza phase: a few weeks ago I was dead set on trying that place in town that college kids go to exclusively after 2am, at one point I got a frozen cauliflower pizza, and two weeks ago there was the five course dive bar pizza tasting experience. They were all awesome. But like awesome in the way that spray can cheese is awesome…????

I figured that all of this pre-made pizza could have meant that I was in a pizza making rut, so rather than continuing to mourn the loss of my basil plant, I decided to shake things up and make pizza bourekas. Bourekas!! I love bourekas. Bourekas are pastry pockets that can be filled with pretty much anything, the most common of which have potatoes or cheese. I first fell in love with them at the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv, and they’re originally from the Balkans (they’re related to this Borek). With store-bought puff pastry, they’re not too difficult to make, and with pizza fillings they are just plain addictive. Cheesy sauciness in a buttery flaky pastry? Oh yes yes yes. They’re just as great hot out of the oven as they are cold out of the fridge the next morning for breakfast, which is the sign of a solid pizza situation. You can add any of your favorite pizza toppings, these days I’m into mini pepperoni, which I am hereby calling “meat sprinkles.”

…Slowly backs away…

And I’m using ingredients from one of my favorite grocery brands, Our Family! If you’re from North Dakota or Michigan, you know (and love) Our Family from seeing them in almost every section of the grocery store. I use their ingredients all the time because they’re reliable and the name just makes me smile. The culinary team for Girl Meets Farm also loves Our Family because their label is really easy to greek, but my North Dakota friends still recognized it! Which made me really happy. Thanks so much for sponsoring this post, Our Family


Pizza Bourekas

Makes 6

Ingredients

4 oz Our Family shredded mozzarella

6 oz Our Family whole milk or part skim ricotta

2 large eggs

2 tb all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

A good pinch of Kosher salt

Black pepper

A pinch of dried oregano

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

6 tb (94g) pizza sauce, plus more for serving

Additional toppings as desired: chopped peppers, onions, mini pepperoni, sausage, etc.

Crushed red pepper, for topping

Clues

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the mozzarella, ricotta, 1 of the eggs, flour, salt, a few turns of pepper, and oregano.

On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll the puff pastry out to 10” x 15”. If it gets sticky, you can dust with more flour as needed. Cut the pastry into 6 squares and transfer to the baking sheet. Place a dollop of the cheese mixture into one of the corners of each square, leaving a 3/4” border (see photo above for reference). Create a well in the center of the cheese mixture and add a spoonful of sauce. Sprinkle with additional desired toppings. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash and brush the edges of the pastry with it. Fold the pastry over and press to seal well, using a fork to pinch the edges. Repeat with remaining pastry squares. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. 

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºf. 

Bake until golden brown; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. (It’s alright if some of them break open at the seams while baking, it’s part of their rustic charm.) Let cool slightly and then serve warm with additional pizza sauce for dunking. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and are great cold the next morning for breakfast! You can also prepare a whole batch a day or two in advance, store them in the fridge, and reheat them for a few minutes in a 325ºf oven before serving. 

-yeh!

Thank you, Our Family, for sponsoring this post

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

pistachio and olive oil basbousa

We are down to the last week and a half of filming season 2 and I miss it already! I love this crew so much. Right now they’re in my kitchen filming a conga line gif of sprinkly rice krispies treats and it is the silliest. The past few days have been warm enough for us to sit outside and eat lunch together (with Sven and Ole, who also are going to miss the crew dearly when we wrap). And over the weekend we went out and ordered all of the pizza at the best dive bar in town, Judy’s, but because they only have one pizza oven it came coursed out like a fancy tasting menu, which was a great new way to eat pizza. While we ate we sat anxiously waiting for the lottery numbers to be announced because we all went in on tickets together… we didn’t win. Or maybe we did and I just can’t tell you because we all made a pact not to tell anyone if we won. (I guess you’ll know I won if I start using whole vanilla beans and manuka honey in everything.)


In Eggboy news, sugar beet harvest is chugging along! The weather is so conventionally beautiful that at this rate all of the beets will be out of the ground by the end of the week. Then we party!!! Then Eggboy catches up on sleep. Then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s Chrismukkah, then it’s 2019. It’s all smooth sailing from here! 

So, like, let’s eat cake about it??

This is my new favorite cake, Basbousa! Basbousa is a Middle Eastern semolina cake that has a coarse texture, not unlike that of cornbread. When it comes out of the oven it gets covered in a sugary syrup, so even though it’s crumbly, it’s very moist. I first met basbousa at Zahav last year, when I tried their carrot hazelnut version. It was nutty and almost pudding-y, and I immediately fell in love with its ability to be rustic in texture and sharp angled all at the same time. Like a structured tweed blazer, for lack of a more relevant comparison. 

This version is based on Janna Gur’s recipe from Jewish Soul Food and combines roasted pistachios with coconut and olive oil for a toasty, tender, and comforting snack cake. Its flavor is so complex that “frosting” isn’t even in its vocabulary, and because of the syrup, it will stay fresh for a good few days. If it lasts that long. 


pistachio and olive oil babousa

makes one 8” square cake

ingredients

1/2 c (50g) shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut

1/2 c + 1 tb (80g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c + 2 tb (125g) semolina flour

1/4 c (28g) ground roasted unsalted pistachios, plus more for decorating

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tb (75g) olive oil

1/4 c (60ml) heavy cream

1/2 c (120ml) whole milk

3 large eggs

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract


Syrup

3/4 c (178ml) water

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1 tsp rosewater, optional

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line an 8x8” pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, flour, semolina, pistachios, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cream, and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and almond extract on high for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Fold the egg mixture into the semolina mixture and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup: combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in rosewater, if using. 

When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Sprinkle with additional pistachios, cut into squares, and enjoy.


Pastrami Egg Rolls

We are filming season 2 of Girl Meets Farm right now!! My house is filled with cameras and lighting things and we’re currently on our day off, so I’m catching up on laundry and showing Lily, Alana, and Michelle all around Grand Forks because they are in town to be guests on the show!! I’m introducing them to all of Grand Forks’ greatest hits: cheesy pickles, Darcy’s, and hotdish. Mmmmm. 

The shoot is almost halfway over and it has been so much fun. We’ve been filming so many hearty comforting wintery dishes that are the types of foods that I *live* for (spätzle! goulash! latkes! lefse!) and on the days that we shot the holiday episode, it snowed all of that snow!!! It was perfect. Every few days friends and family come over from near and far to participate in meal scenes, and that’s been the best thing ever, second only to the fact that during shoot weeks Eggboy allows us to have the TV that’s normally in our kitchen set up in our bedroom. Hehe. 

Mark your calendars, the season premieres on 11/11 @ 11!! (10am central :) 

Ok I’ve gotta go take my out of town fronds to meet the town chocolate shop now. But I’m leaving you with pastrami egg rolls because ever since I had pastrami egg rolls years ago at Red Farm in the West Village with my auntie and Eggboy (it was Eggboy’s first time meeting any of my family members!!!), I have been obsessed. Obviously. Because it’s salty smoky meat wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and fried to chewy delicious perfection. And dipped in a good strong mustard, because acid. These have caraway as a nod to the standard pastrami on rye, and they are kind of me as an appetizer?? Chinese, Jewish, and salty 😜. This recipe is loosely based on my friend Nile’s family egg roll recipe because Nile is the best egg roll maker in the North and she has leftover egg rolls cold for breakfast the next day, which is a very strong move. 


Pastrami Egg Rolls

makes 8

Ingredients

1 tb canola oil, plus more for frying

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

A pinch of kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp caraway seeds

8 oz pastrami, finely sliced

10 oz coleslaw mix or shredded green cabbage

1 tb soy sauce

1 tb apple cider vinegar

Black pepper

1 tb flour

1 tb water

8 egg roll wrappers

Strong deli mustard or Chinese hot mustard, for serving

Clues

In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway and cook for another minute. Add the pastrami and cook until heated. Turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cabbage. Season with soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper. Taste and adjust as desired. In a small bowl, mix together the water and flour to form a paste (it will act as your glue). Fill egg roll wrappers like the above gif, sealing well with the paste.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 360ºf-370ºf. You can either use a lot of oil to fully submerge and deep fry them or do what I do and only heat about 1/2” of oil and turn them while frying to ensure that all sides get crisp. Fry for a few minutes until the outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel or wire rack, let cool slightly, and serve with mustard.