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Everything posted by JFLinLA

  1. JFLinLA

    Formal Tea

    Hey CB. I was going to suggest you might review my thread on the upcoming Bat Mitzvah but I see Wendy has already pointed you there. (I just finished my last batch of the coffee kahlua blondies and Dad will be by on Wednesday to bring them to their freezer.) Anyway, it turned into a long thread so you may want to skip to the end and see what I ultimately decided. All recipes have now been truly tested through by me so if you're interested and you want any practical advice, just let me know.
  2. I second what Kokh Leffle said. Sorrento in Culver City is the best! However, for an Italian bakery, I love Nicolosi on Ventura in Encino. Cannoli to die for. You won't see them in the case, you have to ask. Then they go to the back and fill them for you fresh so the shells stay crispy!
  3. At the end of March we met my brother at a place he picked in San Gabriel. Don't know if it was halal but it was Chinese/Islamic.
  4. Haven't been in a million years but there's always the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon.
  5. This is going to sound cliche but there is something comforting about repeating the holiday traditions year after year. For all the talk about nouvelle whatever, we keep coming back to many of the traditional foods since that's what Mom, or Bubbe or whatever made and it wouldn't be (fill in name of holiday here) without it. On the other hand, new ingredients and appliances allow recipes to be changed and improved over time. (Gawd, imagine having to grate pototoes and onions manually every Hanukkah the way Grandma did! This why the food processor was invented!) While the writing may be same old, same old for you, remember there are those that are coming to it for the first time. A young adult away from home for the first time, someone newly married into a tradition, whatever. It may be old to you but it's really, really helpful to the newbies and comforting to the old timers. Besides, you never know what new tricks you will find. That's why after several years of taking over Passover responsibilities, and getting the routine down, I felt qualified to put together my how-to manual. The holidays can often be daunting for the cooks and party planners. We do appreciate all the help and advice. Oh, yeah, here's your smilie:
  6. Thanks everyone for all the input. I think I'm going to forego the silver for these. It was an interesting concept but too much trouble in the end and not worth it. The cookies (about 100) have all been baked, carefully wrapped, and are in the freezer. They will be decorated with plain old royal icing closer to the event. The food safe pen was a great suggestion and I will definitely use that to trace my design then pipe one color for that and another for the background.
  7. Can I use the food safe color pens on top of the royal icing? That way I can just ice the whole cookie once, stencil my design then paint.
  8. Actually, here's the method I was thinking of last night. I'll roll and cut my torah shapes and lightly trace the letter into the unbaked dough using the plastic stencil I made. After baking, when it comes time to decorate, I'll just do the Hebrew letter with the royal icing initially. After that dries, I can paint it with the silver. After that dries, I can pipe around it with tinted royal icing in my background color. Does that sound crazy?
  9. Thanks Wendy. I don't have experience with the metallic dusts. I was going to PM you with my questions, but in case others would have similar questions . . . This is how I was planning to decorate the torah-shaped cut-out cookies I am preparing for my daughters Bat Mitzvah (there's a whole other thread on that). When I did this 3 years ago, each cookie had 2 colors of royal -- one around the outside, and one in the middle in the shape of a Hebrew letter (in my daughter's case it will be a "shin"). This time, silver is creeping into our decorating colors which is why I'm thinking about this. I haven't yet decided whether I will just make enough cookies as party favors for only the kids (about 75) or for everyone (about 150). Knowing that, here are my questions: 1. I've seen there are a variety of dusts -- luster dust, pearl dust, others. Would you particularly recommend one kind over another? 2. Do I tint the icing the underlying color I want and paint over or do I do white and then paint over with the color I want? 3. I haven't baked the cookies yet. Right now, I'm getting a lot of dough made and chilled. I'll bake in a few days and then freeze the cookies to decorate the week right before the big event. Here's how I did it 3 years ago, let me know what you think. When I rolled and cut the cookies, I had prepared a stencil in the shape of the Hebrew letter I was using. Before baking, I used the stencil to lightly trace the shape of the letter into the un-baked dough. That made piping the correct shape later easier. Is there anything here that helps this process for me. 4. Any advice on brushes? Obviously my normal basting and pastry brushes won't do. Nor will the various craft/paint brushes lying around. Any other input would be welcome, and thanks again. Jody
  10. It's been years but my husband loves to talk about McClintocks, just north of SLO. Their specialty . . . turkey nuts. Really!
  11. Is it possible to get metallic colors in royal icing? Specifically, at this time, I'd like to do silver. Tell me how. Thanks.
  12. Yes, yes, I also tend to prefer too much. I think I'll probably achieve that without much problem (as that's what I did 3 years ago for my son's Bar Mitzvah without nearly this much planning). It's the same caterer as last time so I'm not worried. I expect his staff to eat but they're all pretty honest. I'm clearing freezer space and starting on the torah shaped cookies this week. Thanks again all. Jody
  13. First of all, I could really use some help with coming up with quantities as to what to make. In response to Wendy's and Pam's questions/comments: Friday night services will be after dinner. Desserts are served at the "Oneg" after services, about 9:00 PM. Attendees will be mainly the regular congregation. Only our closest relatives will be at this one. The Saturday night party will be just us and our guests for dinner, dancing and everything else. My guess is that kids and adults will mix at the dessert bar, ice cream bar and cappucino cart. Adults love the ice cream as much as the kids though they may not use as many of the candy toppings (gummy bears, etc.). Kids love the dessert bar though they will more likely grab the chocolate chip cookies and brownies and stay away from the more "sophisticated" stuff. Adults will get the hot drinks from the cappucino cart but both kids and adults love the ice-blended drinks. As for display, I will arrange the platters for Friday night but I have to trust my caterer to do it on Saturday so, it will be what it will be. Anyway, looking for help on quantities as I said. (I've got to take photos to show you all as I go.)
  14. For great California almonds and almond paste from people who know almonds: Mandelin in Bakersfield. They aren't really set up for retail but their stuff is great. So much so that I was able to convince Surfas in Culver City (in LA) to carry their stuff in quantities appropriate for a home cook/baker. Before that, I went straight to them. They were really nice on the phone and the stuff tastes as gorgeous as it looks!
  15. Russel -- Did she offer any changes to her thumb-print lime melt-away cookies? Here's an old thread I started on the problems I had with this recipe. You will see others were kind enough to try it out and experienced the same problems I had. Unfortunately, it has made me distrust the recipes in the book and I've been afraid to try anything since. Too bad, it's a lovely book. Wouldn't it be nice if all of the errors and corrections were posted someplace on-line for those of us who didn't get to see her?
  16. It's time for me to bring this back up again (even though it may not be fair this week for those of us observing Passover). I finished all my pre-Bat Mitzvah baking experiments in time for Passover baking. With that largely behind me, this week I'm focused on getting the invitations ready to mail out for my daughter's Bat Mitzvah. As soon as Passover is over, I start baking and freezing or mixing and freezing un-baked dough. I need your input to help me decide what to bake for the Friday night Oneg (refreshments after the service), for the dessert bar at the party on Saturday night, for both, and how much of each. As a reminder, here are a few basics: 1. I guess there will be about 150 people on both Friday and Saturday night. However, there will be virtually no overlap between the two evenings. 2. There will also be cut up fruit and cheese & crackers on Friday night, along with not great temple punch and not horrible temple coffee and tea. 3. For Saturday, about 50-60% will be kids. 4. We will also have an ice cream sundae bar and a cappucino cart on Saturday night. 5. No, I have not yet finalized the Saturday night menu with the caterer. 6. We do not keep kosher so, while I would never serve pork or shell fish, real butter and other milk products will be used in the desserts. 7. While I will take the week prior to the Bat Mitzvah off from work to do much of the last minute baking, everything will need to be done by Wednesday evening. Thursday, I will make the challah dough leave to rise in the fridge. Thursday afternoon is rehearsal. Friday morning, I will head up to the temple early with all the baked goods and the risen challah dough. While the braided challot (2 or 3 large challot, I haven't decided yet) are rising and baking, I'll get everything set out for the Friday night oneg with my mom, aunt and a few friends, and I'll leave the Saturday stuff clearly labeled for the caterer for Saturday. 8. In addition, I will also be baking torah-shaped cookies, decorated with royal icing, as party favors. So, for the Saturday dessert bar, and Friday night "oneg" here's what I'm considering: Chocolate chunk cookies (AB's "chewy" recipe) Toffee chip cookies (from the back of the Skor's chip bag, required by the Bat Mitzvah girl) Amaretti/almond macaroons lime meltaways (suggested here) bite-size chocolate almond brownies (a J. Torres recipe) apricot tea cakes (suggested here) raspberry bars (an ATK recipe) coffee chocolate chip Kahlua blondies (I provided the recipe here) lemon layer cake bars (a G. Gand recipe but I've finally figured out the changes to get it the way I want) caramel cheescake squares chocolate biscotti orange-pecan biscotti And, thanks to all of the many other suggestions. I'm sure I'll use them elsewhere. Looking forward, as always, to some great eG advice.
  17. I checked Martha's site but couldn't find it so, whenever you get a chance. I'm not having a creme caramel emergency so no pressure but thanks in advance.
  18. So Wendy, would you just use the previous recipe with milk instead of cream for a creme caramel or do you have another recipe/method you could share?
  19. Hey, I'd love a yummy creme caramel recipe. Would you post here or in the eGRA? Thanks.
  20. Jayne -- Great suggestion! I'll add a step, before you order tables, linens, etc., to count out your guests, list what you need to have, figure out what you need to get, and where you can beg, borrow, steal or rent it from. While plates and utensils can't be shared, Haggadot can. I'm so glad people are finding this useful. It is intended to be a guide, not the last word at all. Please change, amend and adapt to meet your own needs. Jody
  21. I remember as a kid, when we moved up to the Bay Area, being very dissappointed with the quality of produce available at the time. My mother used to talk about going to the Gelson's produce aisle on visits to LA just to stand there, look around, in order to cheer up. Does anyone besides me remember Jurgensen's from those days? Our years in the Bay Area saw us through the beginning of the CA culinary revolution but before that . . . Anyway, if the weekly farmers markets don't do the trick, or Gelsons, or Whole Foods, or Bristol Farms or Wild Oats, how about the original Farmer's Market at 3rd & Fairfax?
  22. I always have some of that concentrated chicken base seasoning stuff in the fridge. Not boullion. If it doesn't taste "chickeny" enough, I recommend boiling uncovered to concentrate flavor but you can also cheat with the seasoning stuff.
  23. Rinse & repeat . . . year after year.
  24. Is there a peach liqueur you could use?
  25. All of the Passover questions -- from Jews and non-Jews, and from the seder pros and the seder novices -- reminded of something. Four years ago I organized a "how-to" class at my synagogue. This wasn't one of those "create your own haggadah" or " how to make your seder meaningful for all ages" classes. The seder meal itself, like Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, can be daunting. This was intended to provide some practical advice on how to prepare for the big day/evening and how to get everything ready, retain your sanity, and maintain your relationships with your relations. So I just pulled out what we created for the class, updated it somewhat, and thought I'd share it here. It's intended as a guide and can be adjusted to suit your schedule, style, amount of freezer/oven space, etc. Here's what it doesnt incorporate: -- recipes: we provided some in the class and it actually turned into a recipe exchange but lots, and lots of seder recipes are provided elsewhere here in eG and elsewhere altogether -- time for cleaning your house of chametz: if you are more observant and follow that custom, then you're probably already scrubbing -- Shabbat: this year, preparation is complicated by the fact that the first Seder is Saturday night. If you refrain from work on Shabbat, you will need to back things up even further Finally, this is based on my own experience of growing up in a family of "balabostas" and all the training that came with that and my own experiences. Here goes: SURVIVING (AND EVEN ENJOYING) YOUR PASSOVER SEDER (FOR LEO BAECK TEMPLE, MARCH 2001 -- UPDATED FOR EGULLET, APRIL 2005) IMPORTANT SURVIVAL RULES 1. Plan ahead – make lists and schedules. 2. Cook ahead – Everything can be made ahead. Everything!! Besides, many dishes taste better when they are made ahead. It allows the flavors to “marry.” 3. Don’t do it all yourself – Enlist friends/family to prepare key dishes. 4. Don’t do it all yourself #2 - Order some or all of your Passover meal from a restaurant, deli, bakery, or market. 5. Don’t do it all yourself #3 – Get friends/family to help you set up and/or clean-up. 6. DON’T DO IT ALL YOURSELF!!!!! THE TABLE OVERVIEW Use your best stuff: -- Tablecloths -- Napkins -- China -- Silverware/stainless -- Crystal -- Serving pieces -- Etc. FOR THE TABLE -- Seder Plate* (see below) -- Matzah Plate & Cover with 3 matzahs* -- Kiddush Cup* -- Cup of Elijah* -- Pillow/Cushion* -- Extra Matzahs (easy to reach) -- Candles/Candlesticks -- Wine Bottles/Decanters -- Water Pitcher(s) -- Salt & Pepper -- Extra serving pieces for ceremonial foods: salt water, horseradish, charoset, parsley, etc. *These items are placed near the head of the table. The pillow or cushion is for the head chair FOR THE SEDER PLATE -- Horseradish (raw and/or prepared) -- Parsley -- Roasted Egg -- Charoset -- Roasted Shank Bone FOR EACH PLACE SETTING (Note: You do not need to have each item on the table when you start. Some of these can be waiting in the kitchen for service later.) -- Dinner plate (for main meal) -- Salad plate (for gefilte fish) -- Soup bowl -- Dessert plate -- Wine glass -- Water goblet -- Coffee cup -- Large and small fork -- Knife -- Soup Spoon -- Teaspoon -- Butter knife -- Good quality paper or plastic plates, bowls, etc. ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO HAVE READY -- Pitcher of warm or room-temperature water, bowl, and hand towel -- Matches -- Extra matzah pieces wrapped in napkins (for the afikomen) -- Additional serving platters, bowls, spoons, sugar, creamer, etc. TABLE SETTING OPTION #1 Place all ceremonial foods (salt water, etc.) on serving pieces in the center of the table. Seder participants all reach into the center, or pass foods when needed. TABLE SETTING OPTION #2 Place a nice paper or plastic plate on top of the dinner plate at each place setting. Place 2-4 small portion cups on each plate. On each plate place some parsley, horseradish (raw and/or prepared), charoset, salt water, hard-boiled egg, and additional vegetables (carrot/celery sticks, slice of boiled potato) if desired. Use portion cups for prepared horseradish, charoset, and salt water. Additional horseradish, charoset, etc. can still be placed on serving pieces in the middle of the table. Paper or plastic plate and portion cups are cleared away at the start of the meal. THE MENU – A TRADITIONAL ASHENAZI VERSION For the “Ceremonial” Meal: -- Parsley -- Salt Water -- Charoset -- Horse Radish – Raw and/or prepared -- Hard Boiled Eggs -- Matzahs Optional Items: -- Red Radishes -- Boiled potato cut into wedges -- Carrot & Celery Sticks -- Green Onions What About Those Eggs? (2 Traditions) The hard-boiled eggs are actually the traditional first course of the main meal. There are two traditions for how to eat them. In some cases, each participant takes a whole or halved hard-boiled egg, dips it in salt water, and eats it. In other cases, participants eat “egg soup” – the hard-boiled eggs are grated or shredded, spooned into bowls for each participant, and salt water is poured over the eggs before they are eaten with a spoon. Shulchan Oruch – The Meal is Served: Course #1: Gefilte Fish Course #2: Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls Main Course: Brisket, turkey or chicken Kugel – Matzah, Fruit, or Potato Additional Vegetable Side Dish – Something that can be prepared and kept warm or served at room temperature Beverages: Wine – Passover sweet wine and “good” kosher wine Water, Soda, and Grape juice -- for the kids and those who don’t drink alcohol Dessert: Macaroons, meringue cookies, or other flourless treats served with coffee and tea. SEDER PREPARATION SCHEDULE This is a sample schedule and can be varied to accommodate your personal schedule, the amount of refrigerator and freezer space you have, how much last minute cooking you want to do, or other variables. 3-4 Weeks Ahead -- Invite Guests (Assign Tasks) -- Plan Menu -- List non-edible things needed to be purchased, borrowed or rented -- Order any tables, chairs, linens or serving pieces that you are renting -- Make shopping lists -- Begin shopping for non-perishable items 2 Weeks Ahead -- Order any prepared food items from market, deli or restaurant -- Place special orders with butcher, fishmonger, etc. 1-2 Weeks Ahead -- Make chicken soup & matzah balls. Put the matzah balls in the soup and freeze. -- Polish silver, clean crystal or other serving pieces as needed -- Wash, iron and fold any linens that are needed 1 Week Ahead -- Shop for perishables -- Hard boil eggs (enough for each participant plus one to roast for the seder plate) and refrigerate -- Roast shank bone, cool, wrap in plastic or foil, and refrigerate. -- Begin any necessary house cleaning. 3-4 Days Ahead -- Begin making baked goods for desert, store in air-tight containers -- Make charoset, refrigerate -- Make gefilte fish and refrigerate -- Make brisket and refrigerate -- Begin making ice cubes 1-2 Days Ahead -- Make kugel and other side dishes, refrigerate -- Make carrot & celery sticks, store in a plastic container covered with water in the refrigerator -- Boil potatoes, cool and store in the refrigerator in plastic -- Wash red radishes, make radish flowers, store in a plastic container covered with water in the refrigerator -- Make matzah farfel muffins or Passover popovers (kigelach) The Day Before -- Set the table including all plates, silverware, serving pieces, etc. that you will need when you sit down. -- Place empty serving pieces on the table with notes to indicate what will go there -- For any serving pieces in refrigerator, place notes on table to indicate where they will go -- Put out salt and pepper -- Place haggadot at each seat -- Place bottles of sweet wine, “good” red wine, grape juice and soda on the table. (Juice and soda can be refrigerated if you have enough room. Otherwise, refrigerate later, or serve at room temperature to be cooled with ice cubes.) -- Remove fat from brisket gravy, slice brisket and return to refrigerator with gravy -- Peel and roast one of the eggs, return to the refrigerator -- Peel remaining eggs, or peel and shred remaining eggs. Place in serving dish, cover and store in the refrigerator -- Wash and dry parsley, cut ends of stems, store wrapped in paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator -- Clean horseradish root, peel part of one end, cut enough slices for each participant plus extra. Wrap slices tightly in plastic. Wrap remaining whole horseradish in plastic and refrigerate. -- Grind coffee, measure how much you will need and store in an air-tight container Early Morning – Seder Day -- Put white wine in the refrigerator -- Remove soup with matzah balls from freezer, place soup pot over very low heat. (Keep checking throughout the day. Do not boil.) -- Place three matzahs in cover on the table -- Place remaining matzahs on serving plate on the table -- Wrap “extra” afikomen pieces in napkins and place out of sight, near the head of the table -- Place charoset, horseradish, carrot & celery sticks, on serving plates or bowls. Cover and refrigerate. -- Pour cream/non-dairy creamer in pitcher. Cover and refrigerate -- Set up “dessert-staging” area in the kitchen with coffee cups/saucers, dessert plates, sugar/sweetener bowls, extra spoons/forks, coffee/tea service, and dessert platters -- Place desert items on serving platter(s), cover and put in “staging” area. Mid-day – Seder Day -- Prepare seder plate, cover with plastic and place on the table -- Set pitcher of room temperature water, bowl and towel on or near the table -- Place sliced brisket on serving platter, pour some gravy over (enough to keep moist), cover with foil, and place in a low oven (200-250°) -- Place additional gravy in pot on stove over low heat -- Set gravy boat near stove for easy service later -- Cut kugel and place on serving platter, cover with foil and place in a low oven -- Set-up dinner “staging-area” with plates for gefilte fish and room for serving platters and spoons you will need for the main course -- Remove other side dish from refrigerator, place on serving platter, cover and set in dinner “staging-area” -- Put pre-measured coffee and water into coffee maker -- Set soup bowls near the soup pot to allow for easy service -- Mix salt water in a pitcher, set aside Last Minute Preparations – Seder Day -- Place refrigerated seder items on the table – charoset, parsley, horseradish (raw and/or prepared), eggs, potato, red radish, carrot and celery sticks -- Remove plastic wrap from seder plate -- Place salt water in bowl(s) or individual serving cups on the table -- Set remaining salt water aside for refills or for “egg soup” -- Fill ice bucket and place on the table -- Fill water pitcher(s) with ice cubes and water, place on the table -- Place remaining cold drinks on the table including white wine -- Open wine bottles -- Fill Elijah’s cup -- Fill water glasses with ice cubes and water, or soda if guests prefer -- Make the coffee – Keep warm in coffee maker or in thermal carafe Finally, enjoy yourself! Remember, there is more than one reason why you have lots of wine on this holiday. Chag Sameach and I hope you all find the afikomen!
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