Tag Archives: 3/8/12

Hamentaschen (traditional Jewish cookies for the holiday of Purim)

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/8/12 (Purim)

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates when the Jewish people of long-ago Persia were saved from a plot to kill them. Hamentaschen are supposed to look like the ears of the villain in the story. Hamentaschen dough is soft and too sweet. Poppy seeds and prunes are traditional fillings, but you can use any jam or jelly, or get creative with chocolate, peanut butter, and more.

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Winter Minestrone Soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/8/12 – served with the easiest homemade whole wheat bread

winter minestrone soup, low on liquid after sitting and absorbing for quite a while

Minestrone is an Italian soup that is always adapted to include whatever is on hand. This version is simple and easy to make, and if you have a slow-cooker, it can cook all day while you’re out, or overnight. Soaking the beans requires some advance planning, but you can also use canned beans and cook the soup for less time. For more information on cooking beans, see the dry bean guide.

  • ½ lb dry beans, any variety or a mix (can substitute 1 can of beans – see notes in recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, canola, or olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped*
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (optional)**
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes***
  • 4 oz (1/4 box) dry pasta, any small shape
  • salt
  • black pepper

Soak the dry beans in lots of water (cover by at least 4 inches) for 8-12 hours. You can also quick-soak them: place dry beans in a pot with water to cover by 4 inches, bring to a boil for 1 minute, turn off heat, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

In a large soup pot (if you won’t be using a slow cooker) or a skillet, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and carrots and cook on medium heat until the vegetables are just beginning to brown. Add the garlic (and rosemary, if using) and cook 1 minute more.

Stovetop instructions: Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, 1-2 hours. (Note: if using canned beans, simmer only 15-20 minutes.) Add the pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Slow cooker instructions: Transfer the cooked vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the soaked beans, stock or water, and tomatoes and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours, until beans are tender. (Note: if using canned beans, cook only 2-3 hours on low or 1-2 hours on high). Add the pasta and cook for 30 minutes more, until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yield: 6 generous servings

*All of these can be grown here in Nebraska and stored fairly well.

**Fresh rosemary can be grown outdoors in the summer and indoors all year round. You can dry your own for later use.

***Summer tomatoes are simple to can for year-round use.

Easy, No-Knead, No-Timeframe Wheat and White Breads

Committee meeting working lunch, 11/29/11 – White bread served as a tortilla española sandwich

Committee meeting working lunch, 1/11/12 – Wheat bread served with roasted garlic and potato soup

Committee meeting working lunch, 3/18/12 – Wheat bread served with winter minestrone soup

whole wheat bread, baked inside a cast aluminum pot

a flat, round bread to accommodate a tortilla sandwich

The authors of book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have developed a technique that lets you keep a no-knead bread dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and take off a small amount to bake whenever you want. Tasty, homemade bread doesn’t get much simpler than this. The loaf you get from this recipe isn’t the best for slicing into sandwiches, but it’s great for eating alongside a meal or soaking up gravy and sauce.

The master recipe is available here.

A 100% whole wheat version is available here (the vital wheat gluten called for is available in the baking section of many larger grocery stores).

For best results, bake the bread inside a cast iron or aluminum pot or dutch oven: 30 minutes at 450 with the top on, then about 15 minutes with the top off, until the loaf is browned, sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom, and has an internal temperature of 200 degrees.