Delicious and matzo are not usually combined in the same sentence. But this homemade small batch matzo is actually tasty. Really!
We eat matzo, and other special foods, as part of the observance of Passover. If you are not familiar, the Passover holiday celebrates the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. The occasion is observed by having a feast, featuring special foods: matzo (signifying the unleavened bread we had to eat because we had to leave in a hurry and couldn’t wait for the bread to rise), charoset (a mixture of nuts and apples with wine that signifies bricks and mortar), horseradish (signifying the bitterness of slavery), lettuce or other greens dipped in saltwater (for tears), and four cups of wine. We also read the story of the escape (exodus) from a book called the Haggadah. The entire meal and ceremony is called a seder (order).
Back to the matzo. The supermarket stuff is, frankly, awful. My grandma used to call it hemstitched cardboard. Everything you’d normally eat that’s made with flour or leavening (noodles, rolls, pie, etc. has to be made with matzo). Since there’s no leavening it’s all really dense and heavy and hard to digest.
However, some time ago, I discovered I could make my own matzo. I found this recipe and it actually has something that store bought matzo sorely lacks. Namely… taste!
Since this is for one, I halved the recipe. Note that your oven temp may vary, and the matzo cooking time may vary. Keep an eye on it!
The goal here is to make the matzo as quickly as possible to get it under 18 minutes. However, if you are not trying to be strictly kosher for Passover, let the dough rest for 15 minutes before baking.
Your oven may vary. I find it takes a minute to two minutes to cook (especially for the first batch). Keep an eye on it. Underdone matzo can be cooked more. Overdone matzo can't be undone.
2 /14 C flour
1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt (because the crystal sizes are different between brands)
1 T mild olive oil
6T plus up to 2 T warm water
Preheat the oven to 500F.
Mix the ingredients all together in a bowl. Start with the smaller amount of water, adding more if necessary to form the dough.
Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and divide into four pieces. Flatten them slightly and either run them through a pasta maker (on decreasing thickness settings) or roll them out with a rolling pin on a floured board.
Poke holes in each piece with a fork.
If you want salted matzo, brush them with some water and add salt.
Slide the pieces onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-60 seconds until it starts to brown and bubble.
Flip the pieces over with tongs and bake another 15-30 seconds.
Repeat the process if you have more pieces. Subsequent batches may take a bit longer. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.
This Sephardic recipe is packed with flavor. It’s spicier than Eastern European food, but not super-hot. Flavored with onion, garlic, ginger, mild chilis, and cardamom, all of which become warm and mellow as they cook. The wine vinegar is OK for Passover too. And only one pot!
Never heard of hamantaschen? Well, they are a special triangular cookie served on Purim. More about that in a bit. However, since this is a single serving blog, I’ve made a small batch hamantaschen recipe, not a full one (even though the cookies are delicious, a full recipe is too much)!
I have adapted this from Tory Avey’s butter hamantaschen recipe. She has a non-dairy version too (but any excuse for butter is fine with me!) Back to Purim. Purim, like many Jewish holidays, commemorates when some evildoer tried to exterminate the Jewish people, but we survived. The running joke is, “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!” This often means particular foods that have a special association with the holiday (so latkes for Chanukah, matzo for Passover, and so on).
In this case, we eat triangular cookies. These are in the shape of Haman’s hat, or possibly his ears, or his pockets. The exact translation depends on where you are from and whether you are translating from Hebrew or Yiddish. Haman, by the way was the villain in the story. He may have been a villain, but the cookies are delicious.
Now, this recipe works in several steps. Yes, it’s a bit fiddly, but that’s why it’s a holiday treat! First you make the cookie dough and let it chill (so it’s easier to work with). Then, you cut the dough out into circles, and fill them with jam, or some other filling, and finally fold them into triangles and bake. The traditional flavors are apricot, raspberry, poppy seed, and sometimes chocolate. I’ve made mine with strawberry jam (because once I made all those cookies, I didn’t want to fuss with making a special filling too). Yet, another reason (besides not being able to eat a full recipe), why this is a small batch hamantaschen recipe!
Note: There are two methods for shaping the cookies. The first is to wet down the edges and then pinch the sides together. The second is to overlap the edges. I found I got the best results by combining the two methods: dampen the edge, then fold.
This is the pinch folded version (which is easier, but doesn’t hold shut as well):
Here’s what the overlap version looks like (step by step)
Optional: if you like, you can use the remaining half an egg to glaze the cookies before baking them. This will give them a nice shine.
6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 C sugar
1/2 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/8 C flour
pinch of salt
5-6 teaspoons water (in a ramekin or small bowl)
5-6 T (or about 18 tsp) jam or preserves (raspberry, strawberry, or apricot)
Cut up the butter into small pieces and pour into a mixing bowl. Next, add the sugar and cream that together (you can use a hand mixer or a spoon, since this is a small batch).
Add the half an egg and the vanilla. (To get half an egg, break the egg in half into a separate small bowl, then beat slightly. Pour half of the egg into the mixing bowl and save the rest for another use).
Sift the flour and salt in a separate bowl and then add that to the egg mixture.
Mix it again until it holds together and starts to form a dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl and need it until it becomes smooth and all the lumps have been worked out.
Add a little water if necessary (if the humidity is low and your dough is too dry). Or, if it's too damp, add a little extra flour.
Once it's smooth and holds together, roll the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly.
Then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least three hours (longer is better).
Now, we're going to cheat here and use jam instead of making filling. I like strawberry, but you can use raspberry, or apricot or whatever jam you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Flour a cutting board, unwrap the dough, and place it on the floured surface. You'll want to work fairly quickly so that the dough doesn't get too warm.
Flour a rolling pin, and roll out the dough, then flip it, and roll it out again. Keep going until it's very thin (about 1/8 of an inch). Add more flour to the board and/or the rolling pin to stop the dough from sticking.
Then use a cookie cutter (about 3 inch diameter) or a drinking glass to cut out the cookies.
Combine the extra bits and roll them out again to make more cookies. You should have about 17 or 18 in total.
Add a teaspoon of the jam inside each circle. Don't overdo it or the cookies will split open. They will still taste good, though!
Now make the triangles. Dip your finger into the water and run it over the edges of the circle. Fold over the left side of the circle about 1/3 across. Then do the same with the right side. You should still be able to see some of the filling. Now fold the bottom of the circle about a third of the way up. Slide the left side under the left flap and over the right flap. This will help keep the filling inside the cookie where it belongs.
Once that's done, pinch the ends together. Repeat this process until you have used up all the dough.
Set the cookies on a baking sheet with plenty of space between them.
Bake 10-15 minutes (keep checking to make sure they don't burn).
Helpful for getting the dough out of the bowl (since it’s crumbly) in order to knead it. If you are working in a small space, use the bench scraper to cut the dough in half before you roll it out. This will make it easier to manage. Use this for hamantaschen, challah, mini pies, or for transferring diced veggies from your cutting board to a pot.
Hamantaschen dough is crumbly and thin, so you will get better results with a heavy-duty rolling pin. It’s easier to hold than the kind with handles, and does a much better job of rolling out the dough.
I spotted this recipe for salmon cakes with lemon dill dijon mayonnaise sauce on Bon Appetit and thought it sounded delicious. But way too complicated. With too many steps and pots to clean.So I came up with an easier version that requires far less effort.Still tastes great though.
I’ve used canned salmon (so you don’t have to cook it separately) and store bought mayonnaise, gussied up to taste brighter and fresher. And, of course, made the entire recipe smaller, so it makes four cakes instead of 12.
I also swapped the scallions for onions (because that’s what I had), and dried dill instead of fresh (didn’t want to buy a whole bunch for one recipe).And, then used lemon juice instead of zest (zest would be fine too).
Mix the mayo ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the potato chunks in a one quart saucepan, fill with water, add salt to taste, and bring to a boil. This should take about ten minutes. Let the potatoes cook another ten minutes or so, until tender. Drain, mash them up, and set aside in a bowl.
Add the salmon, egg, dill, onion, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the potatoes.
Then add half the mayo mixture.
Stir that all together with a large spoon. Use the same spoon to scoop out cakes onto a plate. Cover the plate and let chill for an hour or so (this will help them stick together).
Form the cakes into four patties about half an inch thick.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet, on medium-low flame. Cook the salmon, about 5 minutes per side until golden brown.
In case you’re wondering, arroz con pollo just means chicken with rice. It’s a favorite Latin American dish, roughly similar to paella (but with a lot fewer steps and ingredients). I’ve adapted this from a Jacques Pépin recipe. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t he French? He is. But his wife is Puerto Rican and she taught him a thing or too.
Besides reducing the quantities, I’ve changed this recipe a bit. He used chickpeas and bacon ((I never have chickpeas, so I went with beans instead and I usually get chorizo, more versatile). He also put in cilantro stems. I like the dried version (coriander), but not fresh. And I’d never use it all anyway. So dried it is.
It’s all ready in about an hour. And, it only uses a single pot. Less cleanup is always a bonus as far as I’m concerned!
Heat a small, deep skillet on medium heat. Add the chorizo and break it up with a spoon. Let it brown for three or four minutes. Add the chicken and let that brown, about two or three minutes per side. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeño. Then add the remaining ingredients (except the Tabasco). Season with salt. Stir it all together so all the ingredients are incorporated. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until the chicken and rice are cooked through. Drizzle with Tabasco.
Two meals in one! This can be an entree or a soup. It’s also pantry friendly. Just cook the beans slowly with garlic, onions, and two surprise ingredients. Cook it longer for a side dish/entree, or a bit less for soup.
Now, I know, you likely think of the binder clip as a handy office tool. But, it turns out to have lots of kitchen uses too. It’s a great kitchen hack too!
For example, use it to close up bags of chips, bags of coffee, or to keep your open bag of rice shut. There’s another use, that I just discovered yesterday. I was taking out a bunch of ingredients from the freezer to put in the fridge to defrost. I realized that I could just clip the bags together with a binder clip. That way, when I was ready to cook, I wouldn’t have to search through the refrigerator hunting for each item I needed. It would all be together!
In America, we mostly tend to think of pie as something sweet, filled with fruit, and eaten for dessert. That’s certainly good (I wouldn’t turn down a good pie), but it’s not the entire story. Pies can do more than that. However, for reasons unknown, with the exception of chicken or turkey pot pie, we tend to mostly ignore the whole world of meat, vegetable, and other flavorful, no-fruit pies that make wonderful entrees. Take this savory mushroom onion pie, for instance. It’s got a crust like a fruit pie, but instead of blueberries or apples, it’s packed with mushrooms, cheese, and onions.
Not only is it delicious, but it’s an entire meal all by itself. Think a less-eggy quiche.
I’ve adapted the filling recipe from here and the crust from here.
Now, you can use store-bought pie dough, store-bought pizza dough (yes, really, I saw Jacques Pepin do it once—if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me), or make your own. It’s not hard. I’ve included directions for both. If you’ve got a pre-made crust, skip the instructions for that and go straight to the filling. If not, make the crust, and then start the filling while the crust chills.
NOTE: If you are using a store bought crust, use half the dough. Drape it over your baking dish, chill it, and proceed with the filling.
1/2 C ice cold water (add some ice cubes)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, straight from the fridge or even better, the freezer
6 ounces mushrooms (whatever combination you like; I used crimini)
1 T plus 1 1/2 tsp butter, divided
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C grated cheddar or mild cheese
1 T plus 1 1/2 tsp heavy cream
If you have a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together and then add the butter, chopped up into small cubes. Pulse until you get small pea-size pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, use a pastry blender or two knives. Slowly add the ice water and keep pulsing (or cutting) until it holds together. Chunks of butter should still be visible, you don’t want to blend it entirely together.
Flour a countertop or board. Use a spatula to remove the dough from the bowl. Pat it into a rough ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour. Then drape it over the baking dish and continue with the rest of the recipe, keeping the dish in the fridge so it stays cold.
Wash and slice the mushrooms.
Heat 1 T of the butter on medium-high in a small skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring until the onions soften, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove the onions from the pot and set aside. Put the sliced mushrooms in the same skillet, add the rest of the butter, and cook until the mushrooms lose their liquid. This should take about 5 minutes.
Add the onion back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the cheese over the crust.
Whisk the eggs and cream in a small bowl and pour over the cheese. Add the mushroom and onion mixture.
Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
I had some Italian plums I’d bought with the vague idea of making one of various recipes for a plum cake or a torte, or even mini pies. But, I (naturally) wanted something smaller, didn’t have the right pan, and I didn’t have the patience for lots of little crusts and fillings. Stumped, I stared at my bookshelf and thought, hey there’s a Pierre Franey cookbook I haven’t opened in a while. That’s silly. And lo and behold, there was an easy plum tart recipe inside. One pan, one crust, and no fiddly time-consuming individual filling. Plus, you only have to chill the crust for a few minutes, rather than hours. Less wait time. Perfect!
So, I cut the ingredients in half, and got myself an easy delicious dessert. It requires no special tart pan and there’s no need to run to the store for non-standard or expensive ingredients (like puff pastry). My ordinary six-inch baking pan worked just fine. I used Italian plums (the oblong kind), but ordinary, round plums would work too.
An easy -to -make French plum tart that's sized for one and doesn't require special equipment or ingredients.
*Note that the full original recipe called for 3T of water. But that never seemed to be enough. I made a full recipe on a few occasions and repeatedly found I needed 5-6 T of water. So, start with 2T and add more if needed. Other recipes I checked seem more in line with 5 or 6T of water. In addition, the original also called for 6T of sugar (too sweet). I can't help but wonder if the two measurements got reversed!
3/4 C plus 1 T flour, divided
5 T cold butter, cut up into small pieces
2-3 T cold water, preferably from the fridge*
3 T sugar, divided
4-5 Italian plums (or 3 standard round plums)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
If you have a food processor, add 3/4 C of flour, 3T of the chopped up butter, and the water into the bowl. Add 1 1/2 tsp. of the sugar and the cold water. Process that all together for about 30 seconds. If you don't have a food processor, put everything in a medium-size bowl and combine it with a pastry blender. If you don't have a pastry blender, use two knives. Without the food processor it will take a minute or two to combine. Once the dough comes together and forms a ball, remove it.
Flour a board and a rolling pin. Place the ball of dough on the floured board and roll it out. It should be about 6 or 7 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick.
Butter and flour a six-inch baking dish.
Drape the dough over the rolling pin and place it in the baking dish. Trim off any excess dough.
Put the whole thing in the fridge and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Once the dough has cooled, remove the dish from the fridge.
Cut the plums in half or thirds (depending on size) lengthwise. Arrange them over the dough with the skin facing up.
Mix together the remaining 1 T of the flour and and remaining 2T and 1 1/2 tsp of sugar and sprinkle it over the plums. Then top it with the rest of the butter.
This is one of my favorite baking gadgets. It’s much easier to use than the two knife method, and takes up a lot less space than a food processor. It’s held up really well (I bought it about four years ago), and it now comes in your choice of colors (so it will match your kitchen).
I started out baking with an old, relatively small rolling pin that I got as a gift. It was pretty (with incised patterns), but a real pain the neck to clean. It was also too small. This one is miles ahead. It’s easier to manipulate and hold, and does a much better job rolling out dough.
Summer tomatoes are (finally!) here and I am soo glad to be rid of the sad supermarket versions! I had some stale bread, and inspired by a friend, I decided to make a simple panzanella salad for one.
Panzanella is a classic Italian dish made from day-old crusty bread, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. After that, you can add more veggies (such as bell pepper or zucchini), toss in olives, and either a simple oil and vinegar dressing, or a full-out vinaigrette.
This one is adapted from Ina Garten’s version. Her recipe was for 12 people! It is traditional to let the whole salad sit for 30 minutes. That allows the bread to soak up the flavors. It also gives you soggy bread. Since I prefer it crisp, I ate it right away. Besides, that way there’s no waiting to eat!
I’ve cut her recipe for the vinaigrette in half and substituted white wine vinegar for Champagne vinegar. I have six or seven kinds of vinegar, and enough is enough! You can use the champagne version if you have it. This is a bit more dressing than you need for one salad, but it will keep and you can use it for something else (or more panzanella another day).
This Dijon mustard vinaigrette potato salad is different from the usual potato salads. Since it’s French, it’s got no mayo. Instead, there’s olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard for a bit of bite.
Shoemaker’s Chicken (or Chicken Scarpariello) is a classic Italian dish that isn’t really Italian at all. The true story goes something like this: Italians come to America and start adapting and creating new recipes, they become popular, a new tradition is born.
“Authentic” or not, it’s still delicious, flavored with a sweet/sour pan sauce that cooks right with the chicken.One pan, minimal cleanup. Always a good thing.
There, are (naturally) plenty of variations on this dish, from just simply cooking it with olive oil, wine, and lemon to adding sausage and peppadew peppers.Well, I didn’t have any sausage. I also didn’t have the right peppers, and since a) I didn’t want to get some for one meal or b) burden you with getting a whole jar of something for one meal, I used ordinary bell peppers instead. Then I added a bit of vinegar and a pinch of sugar to approximate the peppadew flavor.
Also, I used two different recipes as a starting point. The first one, from Bon Appetit,called for browning the chicken in a skillet and then transferring to the oven to finish, The second one, from Pierre Franey’s 60 Minute Gourmet cookbook, cooked it all entirely in the skillet. My skillets are old, and I’m not entirely sure how oven-safe they are.So, all-on-the stove top it was!
I did, however, make the potatoes suggested in Bon Appetit’s recipe.That was just simply heating the oven to 450, then cutting a large Yukon potato into chunks, tossing it with 1 T of olive oil, salt and pepper and baking for about 20-25 minutes.
Order of operations: If you’re making the potatoes, preheat the oven first, then start the chicken, cut up the potatoes, put them in to cook, and finish the chicken.
I adore meatballs, especially Swedish meatballs, but I find lately I’m having less and less patience with anything that has to be individually prepared, filled, or stuffed! However, I came up with a solution! Skip the dividing and the rolling, and just make a Swedish meatball loaf instead.
This recipe is adapted slightly from one in my 60-Minute Gourmet cookbook. I cut it in half (because an entire meatloaf was more than I wanted all at once). And, I fiddled with the ingredients a bit. It called for allspice (I have none) and aquavit (ditto – and not buying an entire bottle of something for one recipe).
Make the mixture, heat, and eat. No fussing. No bother. And no need to roll endless mini-meatballs either.
This works beautifully with just some rice (white or brown). Top both with the sauce.
The recipe is enough for one generous serving or two smaller ones. If you have extra, eat it cold for lunch (or as a sandwich) the next day. My mom would eat it for breakfast (her favorite), but you can do lunch if you want to be more conventional.
A different take on classic Swedish meatballs. No need to roll or carefully turn individual meatballs. Instead, it's all in a single Swedish meatball loaf.
*You can substitute ground veal for some of either the beef or pork. Some stores sell a "meatloaf" mix that's perfect for this.
**Crack the egg, beat it lightly, and then pour off half. Or use a medium egg.
1/4 lb. ground beef*
1/4 lb. ground pork*
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 T butter
2 1/4 tsp flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat the oven to 425 degrees
Mix the ground meats together in a mixing bowl.
Heat 1/2 tsp butter in a small pan. Once it melts, add the onion and cook on a low flame until it wilts (about 5 minutes).
In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and milk.
Spoon the cooked onion into the meat, and then the milk/bread mixture.
Now add the egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Stir it all together to combine.
Once it's thoroughly mixed, spoon it into a mini loaf pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
While the meatloaf is cooking, heat the remaining butter in the same skillet you used for the onions. Add the flour and stir. Then add the chicken broth, and keep stirring, for about a minute. Add the cream, and stir while you cook for another two minutes.