Category Archives: Cookies

Cheddar Salvation

Life can be good, even with danger lurking behind you

It’s a good thing I hang out with Ju-Boy, because he always sees the glass as half-full.  I tend to be a bit more pessimistic, having been disappointed on many occasions.  I was recently reminded of a joke I heard back in a university psych 101 class:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith have twin boys, Billy and Bobby.  Billy goes through life crying over every little thing, while Bobby is irritatingly optimistic.  They take the twins to a pediatric psychologist who asks that they leave the kids with him for 24 hours and he promises overnight success. 

The next evening they meet the psychologist at the door and he looks like he’s been through hell.  “I don’t know what I was thinking,” he tells the parents, “but your kids have broken the mold.  I put Billy in a room full of toys, thinking that would cheer him up, but…”

As they walk down the corridor they hear the sound of a little boy weeping.  They enter the room and there is Billy, sitting in the middle of as many toys as a boy would want, and he’s crying his eyes out.  “Billy, sweetie, what’s the matter?” asks his mother.  “Look at all these wonderful toys, why are you crying?  Why don’t you play with them?”

“Because if I play with the toys, I’ll break them!” came Billy’s answer.

“You think that’s strange, wait until you see Bobby,” said the psychologist.  As they walk down the corridor to Bobby’s room they are assailed by the most horrible smell of horse manure, and as they get closer to the room, the see that the door is open.  They can hear Bobby whistling while he flings handful after handful of horse manure into the corridor.  “I put your son in a room full of horse poo to try to get him down a little off his permanent high, but it doesn’t seems to be working.”

“Bobby, sweetie,” cried his mother, “why are you so happy playing in all this horse manure?”  Bobby’s answer?  “Because somewhere under all this horse poo, there’s got to be a pony!”

And that sums up my husband.  He’s always looking for the pony.  God loves him, how can life be bad, even when it looks bad?  Me?  I’m not crying, I just like to call myself realistic.  When things are going well, I want them to always be like that.  I don’t want the glass to be half-full if I’m enjoying the wine, I WANT A FULL GLASS OF WINE!!!!!!!!!!!

Lately I’ve come across a blog that I enjoy reading — Pancakes and French Fries.  It seems that the blogger, Jules, was having a bad month.  A month full of ill children, supermarket mishaps, balded dogs and finally, what can only be the epitome of bad experiences, and here I quote Jules verbatim, “Shortly before we left for the store I slipped in a puddle of urine, and it wasn’t mine.”

Okay, I’ve been having a bad month.  Actually, a bad summer.  Come to think of it, it’s been a bad year.  But then I start to think about Ju-Boy’s conviction that God loves him, and maybe I should hitch a ride on his star.  And while I’m not slipping around in someone else’s wee, I can take a leaf from Jules, at least I can comfort myself with these amazing chewy cheesy cookies.

Cheddar Salvation

The original recipe as per Jules can be found in her blog entry.  She calls them Cheddar Pecan Crisps.  But my version has no pecans, and I’ve played around with it a bit more, but they’ve made this day a glass half-full.

 

 

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (8 ounces, 225 grams) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar (or oregano)
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) pine nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F).
  2. In a mixer, combine the butter and cheddar cheese.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Do not overmix.
  4. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), pinch off some of the dough, about a heaping teaspoon’s worth, and roll into a ball.  Place the balls about an inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Flatten down the balls with the tines of a fork.  It helps to dip the fork in flour because the dough is very sticky.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until brown.  Remove to cool.
  6. As Jules claims, these little cheddary bites of salvation are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.  Serve with a full glass of wine. 

     

     

Cheddar Salvation -- is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Hadar Bars — The Next Generation

Didi and Hadar

When does one begin to feel old?  The first time it happened to me was when my oldest daughter got her first draft notice.  The second time it happened was just a few weeks ago when the first of my youngest daughter’s friends, my baby’s friend Hadar, got engaged at the ripe old age of 18!

Let’s rewind for a moment, all the way back to the 10th grade.  Karen and I were good friends, a friendship that pretty much started out due to the immense boredom of a certain class we had most mornings.  Together with Audrey we created The Notebook, an early blog of sorts.  Actually, since there was no Internet in those days outside of the military, it was pretty much just a log, not a blog.  In that Notebook we wrote songs parodying our teachers, we invented recipes for dishes you will never want to cook (I think one popular ingredient that Audrey always included was one hairy pimple — but only one) and we basically just had a three-way conversation in class, in writing.  The Notebook has long since disappeared.  Karen thinks I took it home and lost it forever.  Maybe I did.  When I cleaned out my mother’s apartment last December I looked for it, but couldn’t find it, and my mother never threw away anything! 

Toasting Hadar and Didi when they started their Sherut Leumi (National Service)

Now fast-forward back to the present.  Karen and I lost touch over the years, but our friendship was renewed when I started dating Ju-boy.  She and her wonderful husband Eli (my favorite Magyar) are good friends of his.  And the friendship has gone up a level or two, because Karen’s twin daughters and my baby Didi were in the same class in high school and are also good friends.  And I’m totally freaking out here.  It’s not that I think Hadar is too young to get married, it’s that I think that I’m too young to have a baby old enough to have friends who are getting married.  Guess I was wrong….

Didi, My Favorite Magyar, Mrs. My Favorite Magyar, The Bride-to-Be

But my happiness is bittersweet.  Hadar and her twin Hila are like my second daughters, actually fifth and sixth daughters, if you want to be picky about it).  This year I’m in mourning for my mother, and that means I’m not attending any parties.  I missed the l’chaim Karen and Eli threw when Hadar first got engaged, I’m going to miss the engagement party tonight, and, sob, I’m not going to the wedding either.

Melded, creamy, yummy, gooey-ness

But all is not lost, I get to feel useful by making Hadar Bars for the engagement party.  Hadar Bars came about when I decided to play around with Hadar’s favorite ingredients, fudge and peanut butter.  The recipe was originally published on Recipezaar.  It’s been a big hit with both the older and younger generations.  I like to bring them to the synagogue on Saturday morning.  Hadar’s dad brings the single malt, and we have a little tipple and nosh to fortify us after prayers.

Hadar Bars

300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

2-2 1/2 cups crushed plain sweet cookie crumbs

  • Combine the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke for 3 1/2 minutes. Stir to combine into a melded, creamy, yummy, gooey-ness.
  • Add the cookie crumbs and stir until completely combined.
  • Using wet hands, form into balls, you get to choose what size. Alternatively, pour into a 13 X 9 pan lined with parchment paper. Cut into squares after chilling.
  • Chill and guard fridge from curious children.

Mazal tov Hadar and Avichai! May you live happily ever after!

In Which I Become A Sous-Chef

Having churned out four daughters, you would have thought one of them had inherited my food obsession, both in cooking and eating.  But nooooooooo!  I should have seen it coming early on with Sassy, my oldest.  When she was born she weighed 2.3 kilos.  That’s a little over 5 pounds for those of you more comfortable in avoirdupois.  (I know, I’m being facetious.)  Today, 25 years old and married, she doesn’t weigh much more.  When she was little she would never eat, which was very frustrating to the Jewish Mother in me.  I would equate food with love, and she would be full up after just looking at a spoon of cottage cheese.  The other three didn’t weigh much more, and didn’t eat much more as well.

When I was a little girl I was also a picky eater (you wouldn’t know it from looking at me today), but I loved hanging out with my mother in the kitchen and watching her cook.  She would let me stir, she would let me dig my hands into the hamburger and squish things around, she would let me scramble eggs — I was in kiddie heaven.  I really have to thank my mother for letting me patchkeh around in the kitchen, wincing at the mess I would create and never letting that prevent me from making more messes.  I still have this picture in my head of her trying to extinguish the small fire I started by trying to fry an egg in a plastic cereal bowl.

Don’t get me wrong, my girls can cook!  Sassy married her soulmate, Sabraman (yes, he’s a superhero) and is trying to be more Yemenite than his whole family combined.  She has become the Queen of Hawaiij. Her sister, Tinky, makes a mean mushroom Alfredo pasta. My girls can cook, they just aren’t as obsessed with it as I am.  Sigh…..

Enter my stepson, Shy-boy.  He’s Ju-boy’s youngest, and he loves to cook.  Ju-boy loves bonding with his son while teaching him how to roast potatoes (he claims the secret is how much you sweat while making them), and I welcome having a sous-chef in the kitchen.  Except usually, Shy-boy ends up doing the cooking, and I am his sous-chef.  Which is exactly what happened today.

Carine Goren is the baking guru of Israel.  I love her recipes and her cooking shows on the Israeli Cooking Channel.  The recipe below comes from one of her books, אפייה זה משחק ילדים, which translates into Baking is Child’s Play.  Shy-boy has been chomping at the bit to try out a few of her recipes and today we did.

Pizza Cookie

This is a giant chocolate chip cookie topped with strawberry jam and white chocolate.  If you squint, it really looks like pizza.

Pizza dough:

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/4 teaspoon salt

100 grams (1/2 cup) butter or margarine

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

Pizza sauce:

1 cup red jam (we used strawberry, raspberry works too)

Cheese:

100 grams (4 ounces) white chocolate, grated (we didn’t have any so I chopped up some white chocolate chips instead)

  • Line an oven tray with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (320 in F)
  • In a bowl, mix together the white sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla essence and salt.
  • Melt the butter (marg) in the microwave and add to the mixture in the bowl.  Stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the flour, baking soda and chocolate chips and stir until you get a uniform dough.
  • Pat the dough down on to the parchment paper in the shape of a thin circle (pizza-shaped).  This will form one large cookie.  If the dough sticks to your hands wet them a bit and continue to pat the dough down until you have your pizza base.
  • Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30-35 mintues.  The cookie should be golden and a little bit soft in the middle.  When ready, remove, and let cool completely.
  • With the back of a spoon spread the jam as you would pizza sauce.
  • Grate the white chocolate over the jam, until the entire base is covered.
  • Cut your pizza cookie into triangular slices with a pizza cutter.  Come on, if you’re going to pretend this is a pizza, pretend all the way.

Mix the dough with a wooden spoon.

Pat the dough down to create the pizza base.

Spread the jam over the baked base.

Distribute the white chocolate "cheese" evenly over the "sauce."

Take the illusion all the way to the limit, cut into slices with a pizza cutter.

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