Category Archives: Honey

Experimenting with loukoumades (Definition if you read on)

In the spirit of family and friends, my roommate organized a Christmas Eve dinner for some friends like us who didn’t have any family in Vancouver. The menu was set with Greek salad, a seafood alfredo sauce with spaghetti and loukoumades.

To answer the question that is coming, loukoumades are a traditional Greek dessert that consists of small deep fried dough balls served with honey, cinammon and sugar. They sounded delicious but he’s never actually made them, he’s just watched his mother do it all these years, so I decided to give it a shot and play with dough and boiling oil and make some doughnuts.

Loukoumades

So with that, I took the family recipe and here’s what happened…

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups of flour

*oil for frying

*honey, cinnamon and sugar for serving

Mix the water, yeast, salt and sugar and 2 cups of flour together. Mix until it’s a sloppy consistency. Cover and leave in a warm area to rise (until double in size). Mix in the rest of the flour, and mix well. Cover and leave in warm area until it doubles in size again. In a large saucepan, fill about 3/4 of the pan in oil (canola oil, vegetable oil) and heat until very hot. Wet a spoon and scoop a small amount of the dough, dip GENTLY into the oil. Fry a few balls (5-10) at a time… Fry until the balls swell and become golden. If they fry too quickly, reduce heat.  Scoop them out and place them on a plate with paper to absorb the oil. Heat honey in a small saucepan to make it less sticky. Pour honey and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over them and serve while hot.

The Results

I had never used yeast before. I knew I needed to dissolve it in warm water, but I’m not sure if it was too warm or not warm enough, because I didn’t quite get the doubling in size effect.  And I didn’t get the sloppy consistency either when I mixed it all together. I contemplated adding more water, but I didn’t want to stray away from the recipe and potentially make matters worse!

Loukoumades

However…I persevered because I had a dessert to prepare and serve (only if it was good). I dealt with one more speed bump which was to figure out the correct temperature of the oil for a golden brown color rather than the color of “burnt”. Once I got the temperature correct, I pulled one out, cut it in half and took a bite. It wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I had hoped, so I called in my roommate for the official Greek inspection. They weren’t quite like his mother’s but I got the approval that they passed inspection!

So with that, the loukoumades were drizzled with honey, sprinkled with cinnammon and dusted with icing sugar and since every one of the 40 or so were gobbled up…well, enough said, right? Well, the one we left out for Santa was gone the next morning, so I guess he approved too!

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Filed under Christmas, cinammon, doughnuts, Friends, Greek, Honey, Loukoumades, Vancouver, yeast

Homemade BBQ Sauce 101

I have good news, my premonition was on the money and the simple act of opening the fridge unveiled a cornocopia of deliciousness! Not only were all the usual suspects there, but there were also some pieces that were going to comprise tomorrow night’s dinner, namely beef ribs. My father cooks often and one of his specialties are big beef ribs with his homemade BBQ sauce. The sauce is always a nice blend of sweet and spicy, but not the kind of hot that is uncomfortable, just enough that it’s saying hello and making sure you know it’s there.

Simply put, I used to wake up with a smile on my face with the scent of sweet onions knowing there was a serious meal being prepared for later in the day. That morning was no exception as the ribs had already been parboiled and the BBQ sauce was in the process of being reduced. I realized I had never asked about the sauce, I had just taken it for granted, so imagine my surprise when I asked for the recipe and I was told it’s whatever happens to be in the kitchen! Of course, there is a starting base to the sauce, but from there it’s all improvisation, which is really what makes it fun to cook!

Beef ribs done to perfection

Beef ribs done to perfection

It doesn’t have a name, but it does now…introducing Robert’s Whimsical and Manly BBQ Sauce

The Base

  • 1/2 of a sweet onion – finely diced
  • 4 gloves of garlic – minced

Cook down the onions and garlic, let the onions begin to caramelize, but not fully, you still want them to have a little crunch to them.

The Rest (there is no actual measurements here, this is where you play with measurements, blends, etc)

  • Ketchup (as it’s always in the fridge or at least should be)
  • Typically at least 2 types of BBQ sauce (as it’s always in the fridge or at least should be)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chinese chili sauce
  • Honey
  • Or whatever else you happen to come across

Mix them all together with the onions and garlic and let it reduce a bit on low until it seems like it has a good thick consistency. Let it chill out in the fridge to get even thicker so it can really stick to the ribs when you apply it.

Slow and low is always the mantra when doing ribs, usually around 250 degrees and they usually get coated 5-6 times with the sauce.

And for the record, they came out delicious as usual! Not only does it taste better with friends, it also definitely tastes better with family.

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Filed under BBQ Sauce, Beef Ribs, Friends, Garlic, Honey, ketchup, Sweet Onion

Say it with me…Challah

Although my plan is to cook/bake everything for my Rosh Hashanah dinner, I haven’t yet tackled the art of baking bread and I wouldn’t subject my friends to my first attempt!
So another traditional Jewish food is a sweet bread called Challah (pronounced Hallah, well, not quite how it’s pronounced, but for simplicity we’ll use this pronounciation) or sometimes referred to as egg bread. I’ll ask you to visualize while looking at the picture, the dough has initially been rolled out individually into long rolls then braided toegther before being baked. For Rosh Hashanah, the challah is typically round which signifies the cyclical nature of the year and how life is on-going. Like the apples with honey that I mentioned earlier, the sweet bread is symbolic to the sweet year that lies ahead and to really drive the point home, the bread is also eaten with honey for some extra sweetness!
Round Braided Challah
So still learning my way around Vancouver, I did what anyone would do and did a google search for “Jewish bakeries in Vancouver” and I came across Sabras Kosher Bakery at 3844 Oak Street.  I gave them a quick call at (604) 733-4912 and placed my order for 2 challah’s, one with raisins (which is delicious un-toasted, toasted, with butter, with jam, with anything!) and the other with chocolate chips (which i’ve never had, but sweet bread with chocolate chips, come on!) Each was is $7.00, not a bad deal, it’s a huge loaf of bread!
My advice to you in Vancouver, Montreal, London or wherever you are nowadays, stop inside your local bakery and ask if they are baking challah bread (or egg bread) since it’s that time of year and treat yourself  to something different and definitely delicious!

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Filed under Apples, Challah, Egg bread, Friends, Hallah, Honey, Kosher, Rosh Hashanah, Vancouver

Apples with Honey…Give it a shot!

So I’m thinking of trying my hand at cooking a full-0ut dinner this weekend for some friends to introduce them to Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and I’m beyond excited at the prospect of having apples with honey (among other dishes, which I will tell you about during the week). 

So simple, but it’s something you have to try, simply cut up some Granny Smith or some McIntonsh apples and pour yourself a little bowl of honey for dipping and go nuts! Mmmm, something about the sweetness of the honey with the tart taste of the apple, you’ll be wondering where this has been your whole life!

For the curious mind…the sweet honey represents the sweet year that people wish upon each other to begin a new year. On that sweet note, enjoy!

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Filed under Apples, Friends, Honey, Rosh Hashanah