Category Archives: Carine Goren
It’s been a slow summer for me. I don’t do well in the humid heat of Ra’anana. I feel sluggish, ponderous, as sticky as thick honey. All that, and a bout of pneumonia last week, has left me full of ennui and it hasn’t helped the blogging much either. I haven’t been in much of a mood to cook, or to write about cooking. Pity this hasn’t extended to my appetite, that’s been as healthy as ever, in the most unhealthy of ways.
It took my friend Abby to get me out of my funk. Well, not totally out of it, just to nudge me a bit. She’s been asking me about Rosh Hashana menus. I haven’t really thought about the holiday yet, I mean, it’s not Rosh Hashana until next year…
Last week was my high school reunion, the first time we all formally got together as a school unit in 31 years. I was a bit cautious about seeing everyone again. In my mind we were all still 17 years old. Did I want to see my old friends as middle-aged women? It turns out not a single one of us has aged a day since we all graduated back in January 1980 and set out to conquer the world.
Once upon a time, in 1970, my family spent some time in Norway. There’s not much I remember, I was 7 at the time, but what I do remember was that I got to hang with some cool cousins, I got to say Jeg ikke gjør det oppfatte (I don’t understand) a lot, and I was cold, always cold. Even in the summer.
My family of four moved in with my uncle’s family of four. Eight people in one house, two women sharing one kitchen. My mother and aunt were in each other’s pots and pans and dinnertime was always a combination of my once Lithuanian now American mother, and my once Hungarian now Norwegian aunt. We had a few weird combinations. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat hot dogs with ketchup, which I still love to this day. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat chunks of bread mixed with sour cream and sprinkled with sugar. I’ve never seen that combo before, and quite frankly, am happy to never see it again. And it was in Oslo that I had the most amazing jams, made from the most amazing berries. They have berries up there that I’ve never seen in the States or in Israel. I put jam on everything back then, except for hot dogs.
My cousin Rebecca, that sweet little bald thing up there in the picture, the cutie on the right, left the frozen fjords of Norway and now lives in the frozen hustle bustle of Sweden. I haven’t seen her in a while, but we chat on Facebook. Just today I was complaining about how hot it is here in Israel. It’s Chanuka, it’s not supposed to be hot on Chanuka. We’re supposed to be wearing sweaters, eating hot latkes, drinking hot chocolate, and instead I’m trying to stay cool in the hot sunshine while walking to work. Rebecca said she would trade places with me, she’s drinking her mug of hot tea while staring out into the brisk Swedish weather, with the temps a cozy -15 degrees C. Yes, that’s minus 15.
So I’m trying to conjure up some memories of Norway to cool me off. They say foodie memories can be very strong, so I’m making the traditional Chanuka sufganiya, otherwise known as the jelly donut. Carine Goren, my favorite dessert diva, posted her recipe for sufganiyot on Facebook this morning, and the dough is rising now, ready for a bath of hot oil and then some yummy jam. The last time we were in Ikea I picked up some Swedish lingonberry jam, and some of that spread on a slice of Rykrisp took my straight back to those white Oslo nights. I think a little lingonberry jam on my Chanuka sufganiyot is the perfect remedy for a balmy Chanuka.
Jammy Donut Holes
I very rarely make full-blown jelly donuts for Chanuka, they’re a pain to fry, I never manage to get them just right on the outside, just right on the inside, and oy, all that oil! So I make donuts holes, and we all get to dip them in whatever we like, and the filling becomes a topping.
This is Carine Goren’s recipe for sufganiyot, but she uses a whole kilo of flour to make 30 huge donuts. I’ve halved the recipe, to make lots of little holes.
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon freeze-dried yeast
- 2/3 cups milk (I use soy milk), heated to lukewarm
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Grated rind of half a lemon
- canola oil, for deep frying
- jam for filling
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Place all the ingredients except for the oil, jam and powdered sugar in the mixer fitter with a dough hook. Mix until the dough is smooth, it should feel like your earlobe, go ahead, give it a pinch.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- When the dough has doubled its bulk punch it down, knead by hand for about two minutes, and then pull off pieces and roll into balls. The size of the piece should be based on the size of the sufganiya you want. Golfball sized pieces will give you a full-size sufganiya. We like to make bite-sized donuts, so our pieces are about a third of a golfball.
- Put the balls to rise again on pieces of parchment paper. Let rise again for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime bring the oil to a low boil in a pan. I’m not going to tell you how big of a pot and how much oil, since that should be a cooking preference. Big pots, lots of oil, lots of room for many large donuts. I use a small saucepan with about 2-3 inches of oil, and fry about 4 or 5 holes at a time.
- Carefully lower the balls into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes on each side for the big boys, 1 minute or less for the babies. Remove with a slotted spoon and let rest on some paper towels to sop up any extra oil.
- Fill with the jam and dust with the powdered sugar. Or do it Miriyummy-style, serving up the plain donut holes with the jam on the side, and dip at will.
Happy Chanuka! May your holiday be filled with light, and yummy little holes!
Nature versus nurture, it’s a crap shoot, really. How much of the person you are today is because of DNA? How much of your personality is due to your upbringing? Case in point: my brother, Skeezix.
Skeezix is three years younger than I am. In spite of my efforts to destroy this interloper into my happy childhood, he’s managed to survive to become one of the defenders of truth, justice and the American way. Skeezix is a submariner in the US navy, stationed in Pearl Harbor. We were both raised in the same home, both smothered in chicken soup, sweet kiddush wine and the paranoia of Holocaust survivor parents. And yet, we have ended up on opposite sides of the Jewish spectrum.
I am what you would call agressively Jewish. I am Torah observant, I keep kosher, my week revolves around the spindle of Shabbat. Judaism for me is not just a religion, it’s a way of life.
Not so for Skeezix. In his early teens he began to buck against my parents and our way of life. Today is he a fervent athiest. He revels in letting me know how delicious pork is, that he has no clue when Yom Kippur is, and it’s really pissing me off that he inherited our mother’s cast iron frying pan and he’s using it to fry up his shark steaks and bacon strips.
One of the things that drove my parents to despair is that Skeezix married Dree, the Shiksa. My father sadly shook his head and oy-yoy-yoyed into his Gemara. My mother threatend to put her head in the oven. Dree is the epitome of Shiksahood. Tattooed, pierced in places you can only begin to imagine, this bacon-eating, Santa-loving transplanted surfer girl was every thing my parents dreaded Skeezix would bring home.
I have to admit, I was also prejudiced, at first. My brother’s description of their wedding included the line, “Dree’s dad got so drunk we had to carry him out to his truck.” No offense, my darling Dree, but those are words never really heard at an Orthodox Jewish wedding.
Skeezix and I planned a joint trip back to New York, me bringing my two youngest from Israel, Skeezix bringing the Shiksa and her daughter (from her first marriage) from Hawaii. I was planning on being gracious, but not overly friendly. I was sure this family reunion was going to set off an Armageddon in the Bronx (as if that didn’t happen all the time).
I planned on being gracious, and yet again, Miriyummy plans and God laughs. What I discovered was that Dree was one cool Shiksa. She’s funny, she’s smart and she refuses to take any crap from the anti-religious Skeezix. She’s the one who pushed my brother to light Chanuka candles in my father’s house. She’s the one who forced him to drink kosher wine at my mother’s Shabbat table. She made sure the chocolate dreidls they brought my kids from Hawaii were kosher. She dragged my brother out of the apartmet to smoke in the stairwell so as not to offend my father on Shabbat. As much as I wanted to not like Dree, I grew to love her. She respected my parents’ way of life, and made my rebellious brother respect them as well.
Dree and Skeezix are unfortunately separated now, though still married. I never thought I would say this, but I hope my stupid brother comes to his senses and realizes what a treasure he has in my favorite shiska. Listen, if your family has to have a token shiksa, let it be one as cool as Dree. Aloha au ia ‘oe kuaana!
This is a Carine Goren recipe. The first time I posted some pictures on Facebook of a chocolate babka I made I got a comment from Dree that she loves that stuff. So here’s a yeast cake that transcends all religions and brings family together, even when they are 12 time zones apart.
For the dough:
1/2 kilo (3 1/2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon yeast
100 grams (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (300 ml) milk
4 eggs (at room temperature)
scant half cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 grams (1/2 cup) very soft butter
1 beaten egg, for brushing on top
To make the dough, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Attach the dough hook. Melt the butter together and then add the cold milk to the melted butter so the liquid is just lukewarm. Add th butter/milk mixture to the flour/yeast mixture, together with the eggs and sugar. Mix at low to medium speed until the dough pulls together, and then add the salt. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and just a tiny bit sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled.
Because the dough is sticky, it’s perhaps best to let it rise halfway in a warm place in your kitchen and then to let it finish rising in your fridger for another two hours. This way the dough cools down and will be less sticky to work with. You could also prepare the dough a day before, or let it rise in the fridge overnight.
To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cocoa and the cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.
Take out the doubled dough and punch it down. Divide it into two separate (yet equal) pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle about 1/2 centimeter (a little over an inch) thick. I can never get the perfect rectangles you see on TV, but it really doesn’t matter, because when you roll the whole thing up in the end you can’t tell anyway.
Spread the butter over the two rectangles (polygons, blobs) and then try to sprinkle the filling evenly over the buttered dough. Roll each blob up from the long end, then twist the two rolls together and place in a buttered (or parchment-papered) round cake pan. Brush with the beaten egg. When I first made this recipe, as you can probably see in the photo, I didn’t read all the instructions, because, you know, I’m such a hotshot cook. So I mixed the butter with the sugar, cocoa and cinnamon instead. It was still spreadable, still edible, but not as good as doing it according to Carine’s instructions. Hubris bites.
At this point you should have remembered to preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F). Place the rolled babka into the oven, there’s no need for an additional rise. Bake for about 50 minutes until the babka is all brown and yummy and inviting.
The reason you don’t have one more rise before placing the babka in the oven is because that’s the way most of our grandmothers did it. If you really, really feel you need to let it rise just a bit one more time, go ahead, the Babka Police aren’t going to arrest you.
One of the best things about moving to Ra’anana is that not only did I get reacquainted with friends from the past (for instance, Karen from high school), but the second generation has kicked in, and my kids are now friends with their kids. Way back in the day, before the second generation was even a twinkle in our eyes, Jonathan was a friend of The X. He used to come over for Shabbat and abuse our bathroom. A few years later he married Vicki, one of my favorite yummy mummies. We didn’t see each other often as a couple, usually just at weddings and other celebrations. But when I married Ju-boy and moved into his burb, Jonathan and Vicki were just down the street, and the friendship was renewed, and a stronger link was forged. Jonathan is a loyal friend, and Vicki, well, Vicki is such an amazing cook she actually makes me think I have miles to go before I can keep up with her in the kitchen. Her petite frame has some wonderful shoulders and she’s a great friend, always willing to let me rant and set me straight about life.
Jonathan and Vicki’s son Shim-boy is friendly with my Tinky, but the closest bond is between my Didi and Leah. They started out in high school together, went on to do their bagruyot (matric) studies together, and now that both are in National Service (Didi in Afula, Leah in Jerusalem), they try to meet up when both manage to get home on the same weekends. They laugh together, fight, make up, go out for sushi and ice coffees (I hope not at the same time), and each one likes to raid the other one’s kitchen. Didi, picky thing that she is, will willingly eat anything Vicki puts in front of her, and Leah is always ready to sample my baking experiments.
With such devotion to kitchen quality assurance, how could I not play around with some of Leah’s favorite ingredients and make a brownie in her honor. Well, not exactly a brownie, with Leah’s tightly curled flaxen locks, it’s more of a blondie. A lambie blondie. A luscious lambie blondie. A Luscious Lambie Leah (always alliterative, actually).
White chocolate, check. Gooey caramel toffees, check. Light brown sugar, check. These luscious lambies are a combination of various ideas. The blondies are based on the Butterscotch Blondies found in Bruce Weinstein’s The Ultimate Brownie Book. The idea for the toffee filling comes from Carine Goren, my dessert diva. You need to flatten the toffees (or caramel squares). I made good use of Shy-boy. I highly suggest everyone acquire a step-son interested in cooking for this task, a valuable piece of kitchen equipment.
20 milk toffee candies (or caramel squares), unwrapped
1 2/3 cup white chocolate chips (divided)
3/4 stick unsalted butter (150 grams)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar (I used golden)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Flatten the toffees/caramels and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Line a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place 2/3 cup of the white chocolate chips and the butter together. Melt either on top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir until well combined and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda together until well combined, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl beat the white sugar, light brown sugar and eggs at medium speed, for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the white chocolate mixture and the vanilla, 2 minutes or so, until everything is smooth and uniform.
- With a wooden spoon (I used a spatula), stir in the remaining 1 cup of white chocolate chips and the flour mixture. Do this until everything is just incorporated, do not beat, do not overmix! The batter will be very thick.
- Pour half of the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Then evenly place the flattened toffees/caramels over the surface of the batter. The gently pour the second half of the blondie batter over the flattened toffee/caramel layer, and smooth with your spoon/spatula until everything is covered. Do this gently.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is light brown. You can’t do the toothpick test here because of the goopiness of the filling.
- Chill well before cutting into squares.
They say a little competition in life is healthy. I once had the bad judgement to take a class in philosphy. Not much of that class has been retained, but I do remember writing a paper about Adam Smith. One of my vague memories of him is that he wrote about cooperative competition, where individuals compete to improve their levels of happiness, but do so in a cooperative manner, joining forces to achieve a desired end and not violating each other’s targets.
Ju-boy and his friend Tom Jones do not believe in cooperative competion. They just believe in competition, period. They compete over who has the best whisky collection, they compete over who paid less per kilo for a whole chicken at the supermarket, and they compete at the gym. There they are, running side by side on their treadmills, little gerbils spinning their wheels, trying to see who can get nowhere first. Tom’s wife, Sweet Caroline, and I just shake our heads. Let the boys play their little game, we have better things to discuss.
The other day it was Tom’s birthday. Ju-boy, in the spirit of friendship, asked me to bake him a birthday cake. I thought, how sweet. Tom works hard to help everyone see a better world, and my altruistic husband wants to give him a surprise for his birthday. I can be so naive. When I asked Ju-boy what kind of cake to make for Tom, he cackled his reply, “Who cares! Just shtup the thing full of sugar and fat and calories. We’ll see how fast he runs at the gym, mwah hah hah hah hah!”
Did I really want to do that? Tom’s a nice guy. He and his Sweet C belong to that group of friends-in-law that made me feel so welcome when I moved to Ra’anana. And did I want to sacrifice quality over quantity (of calories)? I went pouring through my recipes and found one that would make all parties happy.
Carine Goren has a recipe for cinnamon rolls that I’ve been dying to try out. I can also have my own agenda. The recipe was calorie-laden enough to make Ju-boy happy, interesting enough to make me happy, and Tom ate just one, managing to both treat himself and not totally annihilate his diet, so everybody wins. Except Ju-boy, who would have preferred that Tom scarf down the whole plate. Ah, well, he lives to plot another day.
Carine Goren is my favorite (at the moment) for sweet yummies. This is my variation of what she calls Better Than Store-Bought Cinnamon Rolls. She uses instant vanilla pudding in the yeast dough, which gives it a nice flavor and an wonderful texture. Carine’s original recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting, which I left out. Also, her recipe is dairy. I originally made this for Tom with milk and butter, but have since altered the recipe to make this non-dairy. Feel free to sub milk and butter for the soy milk and margarine.
Yummy Cinnamon Buns
4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
one package instant vanilla pudding (3.5 ounces, 80 grams)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups soy milk, lukewarm
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
melted margarine for brushing, 1/4 – 1/3 cup
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Mix and proof the dough:
- In a mixer bowl fitted with the dough hook, mix the flour, yeast and instant pudding mix.
- Add the sugar, soy milk, egg, melted margarine and salt, knead for 5 minutes until the dough is fairly soft and smooth.
- Cover and leave to double in size.
- Make the cinnamon filling:
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. You get to melt the margarine later…
- Assembling and baking the buns:
- Turn the risen dough out on the a floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick (1 1/4 centimeters).
- Brush with the melted margarine, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, and roll it up width-wise into a long roll. Cut into equal sized buns about 1 inch thick (2 1/2 centimeters).
- Place the buns in a parchment paper lined tray, give them enough space to spread out. As you can see from the picture above, I didn’t, but they came out just fine.
- Leave them to rise and double in bulk once again.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
- Brush the buns with the egg wash and bake for just 15 minutes, or until the buns are golden but still soft to the touch. DO NOT OVERBAKE. These are yummy when soft, not so yummy when overdone.
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good, she was very very good
And when she was bad she was horrid
Once upon a time, back in 1990, I was talking to my friend Cara on the phone and rendered her speechless with these words, “I can’t decide if I’m going to get pregnant tonight or not.” The next day I bumped into her in the supermarket and did it again with these words, “Well, I’m about 12 hours pregnant.”
I’d like to say it was an uneventful pregnancy. Biologically it was. However, if you remember your history correctly, sometime during my first trimester Saddam Hussein started raining SCUD missiles on Israel. While Didi was in her own little sealed room in my womb, her father and I, together with her three older sisters, sat in a sealed room in our apartment, gas masks firmly in place, waiting for the all clear.
Didi was a cuddly little thing, always smiling, happy to have three older slaves sisters to do her little baby bidding. Around the time her curls started to really come in she hit her Terrible Twos. Didi didn’t just have them, she was the poster child. The little girl in this video had nothing on my angel, my Didi could have taught the Master Class in Tantrum Throwing.
Around the time my baby was 5 years old and the Terrible Twos were still alive and kicking I had a little chat with her kindergarden teacher. I had been kicking around a theory that the sealed room within a sealed room had something to do with her personality. I had spoken to a few friends and they also mentioned that their children who had been in utero during the Gulf War were also a tad… difficult. Placement in the family didn’t seem to matter, these were older kids, middle children, the babies in the family. The teacher mulled this over for a moment and said to me, “You know, I’ve been a kindergarden teacher for 20 years, and I have never had such a difficult group of kids as this class!”
When Didi was 11 1/2, just as we were planning her Bat Mitzvah celebration, certain events happened to our family that made me once again enter my sealed room, even though the missiles didn’t come from Iraq, they came from within. Didi had to quickly come to terms with a new family dynamic. All of my daughters found their own ways to deal with what happened, but Didi stuck by me the entire time. In a period where I felt lost, she was always my beacon home, her face and smile a shining light through the darkness.
When my life finally got back on track, Didi was there, and now it was my turn to be her anchor. When she was 14 I got remarried and moved her away from the only home she had ever known to a new town, a new school, a new group of friends, a new family. The first year was hard, but I like to think I was as supportive as I could be, and she has found her niche here in Ra’anana. She truly fits in, and I believe she is happy here.
Last summer Didi turned 18, old enough to vote, old enough to drink, old enough to serve her country. She opted not to be drafted into the Israeli army but to do National Service. She works at a shelter for disadvantaged children, children removed from their homes for various reasons, children whose life stories can make you cry. There’s nothing Didi won’t do for these children. One little girl, whose story is so tragic you just want to cuddle her and protect her and make it better, has become a favorite of hers. Over the Shavuot holiday, when this child had nowhere to go, Didi brought her home. When she saw the child had no clothes for the holiday she went out and spent her own money to buy her a dress and a pair of shoes.
Didi doesn’t believe she’s made a difference this year. Red tape and bureaucracy have made her doubt herself, and she called me last week in tears to rail against a wasted year. I don’t think she’s wasted this year, do you? When I see the smile on this little girl’s face as Didi makes sure she has a good breakfast before going off to the synagogue on the holiday, when I hear the kids kidding around with her in the background while I talk to her on the phone, when I see the countless photos of happy faces she plasters all over Facebook, I see a life that has injected goodness into the lives of others.
Didi, sweet Didi, do not let anyone make you doubt yourself!
A few weeks ago Didi was home for Shabbat. The meal had been mostly cooked and we had a few hours of downtime before candle lighting. “Let’s make something yummy!” suggested Didi. Never one to turn down cooking with my girls, we went to my cookbooks and Didi suggested the recipe below, from my (relatively) new cookbook by Carine Goren, Sweet Secrets.
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong tea, cooled
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves (we left this out)
Preheat the oven to 170 C (340 F).
In a bowl mix together the sugar, honey, oil, tea and eggs until evenly combined.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon (and ground cloves). Mix to a lump-free batter.
Pour into muffin pans lined with cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes until the muffins spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, with moist crumbs.
Carine says the recipe should make two 12 cup muffin pans worth of muffins. We got around 50 smallish muffins and another small pan of Honey Muffin Cake (because we ran out of muffin pans).
We had these for dessert on Friday night, and they were indeed yummy, so mission accomplished. By Saturday morning they were gone! Didi had gone out on Friday night to meet up with her friends, most of whom she never gets to see anymore because they are all doing either National Service or are in the army. She took her handiwork with her. While I mourned the loss of the muffins for the family, I’m very proud of my daughter that she’s turning into her mother, with a need to feed.