Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Emergency Chicken Rub

One night, when I had neglected to plan ahead for dinner, I bought several bone-in chickn breasts and threw together this rub. It was a big hit, so I saved the recipe. The name comes from my daughter, Abigail, who believes that no plans for dinner constitutes an emergency.

½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup seasoned salt
2 Tbs paprika
2 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs dry mustard
2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Combine all of the rub ingredients. Store in a sealed glass jar.

• Remove the skin from the breast before applying the rub.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandma's Rugelach

I grew up on these Hanukkah cookies and, fortunately, inherited the recipe from my grandmother.

2 c flour
½ c confectioners' sugar
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 4-oz sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese (preferably Philadelphia)
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon
1 c small walnut pieces
1 c currants (or raisins)
1 egg, beaten

1. Into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, measure the flour, confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Cut each stick of butter into eight pieces and add to the food processor. Cut the block of cream cheese into eight pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse until the dough is well blended and collects in a ball.

2. Remove the dough from the food processor and shape into a ball. (If the dough seems overly sticky, knead in a little more flour.) Seal the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Cut the dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough into an 8-inch-by-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and a few shakes of ground cinnamon over the rectangle. Rub in with the palm of your hand.

5. Spread one-quarter of the walnuts and one-quarter of the currants evenly over the dough, leaving a margin of about one inch on each of the short sides and about three inches on the top. (In other words, the area covered should be about eight inches across by five inches high.) Press the nuts and currants into the dough so that they don't slide around. Beginning at the bottom, roll the dough to create a tight cylinder (as though the dough were a cigar wrapper). Seal by pinching at the seam and at the two ends. Place the log seam-side up on a platter and refrigerate while repeating this procedure with the remaining dough quarters.

6. Brush the top of each log with the beaten egg and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, then slice each log into 8–10 inch-thick rounds.

7. Place the cookies on baking sheets lined with silicon mats (or parchment paper). Bake until golden brown, about 25–30 minutes.

• It's important that the sides of the dough rectangle be roughly parallel. You can achieve this easily by folding any unevenness back into the rectangle.

• Because currants (and raisins) tend to stick together, I microwave them first for 20-30 seconds. This loosens and also plumps them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Koreans eat kimchi several times every day because it's such a great digestive. American cuisine is a bit too diversified for that—I wouldn't serve kimchi with spaghetti carbonara, for instance—but I do eat it often as a snack before dinner.

1 large head napa cabbage (about 4 lb)
1 c kosher salt
10 c cold water
1 large daikon (Japanese white radish)
1 lb carrots
1 bunch green onions
½ lb fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large head garlic, peeled and trimmed
1 large apple or pear, peeled and cored
1 large white onion, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
½ c fish sauce (nam pla)
½ c sugar
½–1 c hot red pepper powder

1. Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage and trim the root end. Cut the head lengthwise into quarters. Cut each quarter across its width to create slices about three inches long and a quarter of an inch thick.

2. In a large stockpot or crock, combine the salt and water to make a 10 percent brine. Add the sliced cabbage and soak for 2-3 hours. (The brine should cover the cabbage. If not, make and add more 10 percent brine.)

3. While the cabbage is soaking, peel and trim the daikon and carrots and chop into bite-sized pieces. Trim the green onions and chop into pieces about one inch long. Add the sauce ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and puree.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped daikon, carrots, and green onions with the sauce and toss to coat.

4. When the cabbage has soaked sufficiently, rinse it three times with cold water and drain well. Add to the sauced ingredients and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight. The next day, transfer to storage containers and refrigerate.

• Although Asian market typically sell the freshest (and cheapest) kimchi ingredients, you can probably find what you need in your local supermarket—except for the hot red pepper powder that gives kimchi its distinctive zip. Fortunately, the powder keeps forever, so a single trip to an Asian market can keep you in kimchi for a year or more.

• The way the cabbage is sliced has no effect on the kimchi's taste. I find it expedient to use the method described above, but feel free to make the pieces larger or smaller to suit your taste. Similarly, cut the daikon and carrots as you wish. I tend to slice the daikon and julienne the carrots.

• Even after three rinsings, the brined cabbage will still have a slightly salty taste—but only slightly salty.

• I store my kimchi in large Ball jars. Make sure to leave a little headroom so that the juice doesn't overflow onto your refrigerator shelf.

• Kimchi belongs to the same food family (fermented vegetables) as sauerkraut. Thus, if you prefer, you can store your kimchi at room temperature in the same way you would store sauerkraut—that is, with the vegetables completely submerged in the briny juice. This anaerobic ("without air") environment prevents harmful bacteria from growing.

• Although kimchi tastes good (at least to me) on the day that it's made, I recommend  waiting about a week for the flavors time to develop.