Cinnamon Sugar Challah

It's too long since I made challah and I finally found the right spot of time, except I also wanted cinnamon rolls. Indecision can breed innovation.  Here's my take on the combination of the two.

1/2 cup water & 1/2 cup milk (warm)
1 tbsp dry yeast
4 1/4 cups of flour
2 extra large eggs + 1 yolk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup of honey
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg white, for egg wash

3/4 light brown sugar
1/4 cups softened butter
2 tbsp cinnamon 

Mix warm water/milk with the yeast (add a teaspoon of sugar), let stand until it starts to bubble. For fresh yeast, typically 10-15 minutes. Mix flour and salt, add in the yeast mix, oil, honey and beaten eggs. Knead to incorporate and create a smooth, consistent dough.

Let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.

Roll out on top of an oiled parchment to about the length/width of your cookie sheet. Spread the butter on top evenly, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Leave about a quarter inch along the sides to prevent cinnamon from spilling over. Roll the long side until you have the seam beneath the roll. With kitchen shears, start cutting half inch, into the roll, and positioning "leaves" to the left and to the right. You can get quite creative here. The shape was something I leaned on Pinterest at some point. 
Transfer the parchment onto the cookie sheet.  Mix your egg white with about 2 tablespoons of water, and brush your Challah.  Place into a preheated 350° oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until Golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and let's sit on top of a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.



I hardly ever follow a recipe, even my own. I tend to change things around based on my mood, the contents of my fridge, and how distracted I might be :-). I know I've said this before, so when faced with a request from a friend of how to make borscht, I gladly obliged. Months later after she had another bowl and conveniently pulled out a copy I sent her a time ago, she started quizzing me whether I followed my own directions. Short story – I didn't.
When I start making something, I can envision what it should or would taste like. So along the way I adjust, cajole and improvise to get to my final destination. This is especially true with soups. 

So in the recipe below I gave many different options, but I would encourage you to improvise as well.

1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, grated (sometimes one grated, and the others chopped into quarter inch half circles)
2 celery sticks, chopped (occasionally I will skip these)
1 lb stew beef (or short ribs, or osso Buco, or no meat at all)
1 bunch beets (about four medium sized, or three large)
1 can, canned tomatoes (or three large peeled tomatoes chopped, and their juice)
1 can, tomato paste (for half a cup of Heinz tomato ketchup)
1/2 head of cabbage, Core removed
Salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons Smoked paprika
Fresh ground black Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons of chopped dill

In a thick bottomed pot, heat olive oil. Roast onions until turning golden and add carrots and celery. Cook on medium heat until carrots are starting to turn golden. Add beef and roast for 7 to 10 minutes.  Add water to cover and add peeled beets. Bring to a boil on medium heat and turn down the heat. Skim off any protein. Cook with lid close for 1.5 hours. Remove the beets, grate and set aside. Add canned tomatoes. Remove 1 cup of soup and mix with tomato paste and add back to the pot. Add the grated beets. Salt to taste and add about 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Shred cabbage and add to the soup. Turn off the heat, add the dill and close the lid.

Enjoy with a heaping tablespoon of sour cream, and for those that know me, with a teaspoon of hot mustard. A great addition I learned from my dad.


Farina Buttermilk Pancakes

1/4 c dry farina
1/4 c boiling water
1 egg
1/4 c flour 
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c finely shredded carrots (purple carrots are the coolest looking)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt

Mix farina and boiling water and let stand. Whip the egg, sugar and salt together. Add in buttermilk and baking soda, then mix in the farina, carrots and flour. Let stand for 20 minutes, then fry in coconut oil.


Kefir Crepes

2 eggs
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup kefir
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
2.5 tbsp vegetable oil

Whisk eggs for about a minute and add in salt. Whisk in water in a thin stream as you continue whisking. Whisk in the kefir. Slowly start adding flour and soda while whisking. Add in sugar and oil. 

Fry on a heavy pan (like cast iron) on both sides; turning when the crepe turns golden.


Chicken Mole with Cilantro Rice

3 pounds of skinless chicken thighs
14 ounce can of tomatoes (skinless)
14 ounces of water
2 chilis in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
3 clothes of garlic
1 medium onion
1/4 cup  slivered almonds
1/4 cup  raisins
1/4 cup  dry cherries
1/4 cup dry dates
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Season skinless chicken thighs with salt and lay them into the slow cooker. Purée the rest of the ingredients in a blender. Taste the sauce and adjust salt/ingredients as needed. Pour sauce over the chicken. Slow cook on low for eight hours.

Skim the fat off the top. Reduce some of the sauce on stovetop on low heat for 15 minutes, to thicken.

Cilantro Pesto
1/2 cup of cilantro 
1 Persian cucumber 
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp of sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
One clove of garlic

Blend and adjust seasoning to taste.  

Serve sauce a top of rice, with a side of chicken in the mole sauce.


Miso, Dijon and honey dressing

1 tbsp honey
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1 heaping tsp miso paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c orange juice