Home December 2012 WEB EXCLUSIVE: Sweetness from Street

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Sweetness from Street

With Chanukah coming, prepare for an oil crisis – and I don’t mean high prices at the pump.  Who knew when Judah Maccabee’s tiny flask of oil miraculously burned for eight days that for thousands of years Jewish families would celebrate by lighting candles…and frying!

Jews of Eastern European descent eat mountains of latkes, but the symbol of the holiday is the oil, not the potato, so move over latkes (not that there’s anything wrong with them!).  Two tasty morsels from Susan Feniger’s new cookbook Street: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes (Clarkson Potter, $27.50) will help you celebrate Chanukah with pizzazz.

Feniger, one-half of the “Too Hot Tamales” of Food Network fame (with Mary Sue Milliken, also her co-partner in the Border Grill restaurants) has taken the street food she enjoyed from her years of globe-trotting adventures – think fast food meets regional home cooking – to her restaurant, Street, and now to her new cookbook of the same name.

Reminiscent of the sufganiyot Israelis enjoy for Chanukah, her Turkish Doughnuts are quickly dipped in Rose Water Syrup and served with sour cream and Rose Hip Jam.  “You can substitute any jam and purchased rosewater syrup,” she told me.  “It’s the combination of the sour cream and sweetness that makes the dish.”

In the streets of Singapore Feniger was “blown away” by banana fritters served with Coconut Kaya Jam.  Substitute any fruit jam, if you wish.

Feniger grew up in a reform Jewish household in Toledo, Ohio.  “We went to temple on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I attended Saturday school, but I wasn’t brought up religious,” she said.  “Our family was certainly very Jewish culturally, and Jewish culture is something I’m very drawn to.  It’s about food and family and helping someone else.”  The latter is evident in Feniger’s generous work with so many charities, including the Scleroderma Research Foundation.  “Giving back was something they taught us.  It wasn’t about a lot of money; it was about time and volunteer stuff.  It’s a very Jewish thing.”

Her mother, whom she remembers as a “great cook,” she lovingly credits as her inspiration.  “She was always in the kitchen,” Feniger recalls.  “She made her own salad dressing.  If she made tuna fish, it wasn’t just tuna fish and mayo, but she put a lot of stuff in it.  That shows she was someone who cared about food.”

Threads of Jewish influence run through the cookbook: Romanian eggplant, flanken in her glazed short ribs, matzo candy and the za’atar spice mix she remembers from her high school days on an Israeli kibbutz.  Ukrainian Spinach Dumplings, a favorite at the restaurant, were inspired by her grandmother’s varenyky.  “I would spend Saturday night at my grandmother’s house and on Sunday watch her prepare them for the canasta ladies,” she recalled.

The Jewish holidays at Street are festive affairs.  “I had never done any Jewish holidays, but for some reason, because Street is so small and intimate, celebrating the Jewish holidays there feels like a natural for us.  This is our third year for Street, and we’ve done Rosh Hashanah three times and Seder twice.  We even had a break-the-fast menu this year, which was really fun.”
Turkish Doughnuts with Rose Hip Jam

Yield: 6 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup whole milk

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

4 large eggs

Canola oil, for frying

Rose Water Syrup (recipe follows)

1 cup sour cream

Rose Hip Jam (recipe follows)

1. In small bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.

2. In large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, butter, and ½ cup water.  Bring to a boil; remove pan from heat, and add flour mixture all at once, stirring rapidly with wooden spoon until well combined and one solid mass.  Put pan back on stove over medium heat and stir continuously 4-5 minutes until smooth.  (For best texture, do not shorten this step.)

3. Transfer dough to stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed 2 minutes to release some steam.  With mixer on low, add eggs, one at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding next.  Scrape with rubber spatula; mix dough a few more times.  Dough will look glossy.

4. Fill deep, heavy-bottomed pot (5- to 6-inch sides work best) with oil reaching halfway up sides.  Heat over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes until drop of dough floats immediately and deep-frying thermometer reaches 350˚F.  Reduce heat slightly.

5. Working in batches, drop small spoonfuls of dough into hot oil, being careful not to splash and burn yourself.  Cook about 5 minutes, turning doughnuts and submerging them in oil occasionally to fry evenly.  When doughnuts are ready, they will be golden brown, light and airy.  If heavy, dough is still raw on inside, so cook a minute or two longer.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

6. Quickly drain in rose water syrup and arrange on platter.  Serve with sour cram and rose hip jam.

Rosewater Syrup

Yield: 1 quart

3 lemons

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup rose water

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Grate zest of lemons into medium saucepan.  Squeeze in lemon juice (discarding seeds) and add empty lemon halves, pith and all.  Add sugar, salt and 4 cups water; stir to dissolve sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes at a slow boil.  Mixture will thicken slightly.

2. Remove pan from heat; add rose water and cardamom.  Set aside to cool.  Syrup will keep in airtight container in refrigerator for several weeks.

Rosehip Jam

Yield: 2 cups

1½ cups (3 ounces) dried rose hips

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon green cardamom seeds (remove seeds from pods if using whole cardamom)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Juice of 1 lemon

1. Put rose hips, sugar, cardamom seeds, salt and 2 cups water in small saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Stir to combine and dissolve sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 to 30 minutes, until mixture is thick and coats back of a wooden spoon.

2. Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice.  Puree in food processor until almost completely smooth (it will still have a little texture).  Using rubber spatula, scrape mixture into a container and let cool, uncovered, in refrigerator.  It will keep for up to 1 month.

Sesame-Crusted Banana Fritters

1/3 cup rice flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1½ tablespoons sugar

¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup sparkling water

Canola oil, for frying

8 ripe mini or 4 regular-size bananas

Coconut Kaya Jam (recipe follows)

1. In medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, sesame seeds, and salt.  Slowly whisk in sparkling water to create consistency of loose pancake batter.

2. Fill a wide pan with 3-inch sides with enough oil to reach halfway up sides.  (Oil rises as it heats.)  Heat oil over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes, or until drop of batter floats immediately and deep-frying thermometer registers 350˚F.

3. Peel bananas and cut lengthwise into long, thin slices (about 4 slices per banana.  If using large bananas, cut in half horizontally and then slice lengthwise.)  Dip each slice in batter, drop into hot oil, and fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve immediately with jam for dipping.

Coconut Kaya Jam

Yield: 2 cups

1 cup well-shaken canned coconut milk

1 cup sugar

8 fresh pandan leaves (available in Asian markets)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1. In small saucepan, combine coconut milk and ½ cup of the sugar

2. Cut root end off pandan leaves and wash under cold running water to remove any dirt.  Cut into 4-inch pieces.  Add pandan and salt to coconut milk mixture.  Bring to a boil, pushing leaves down into milk, and cook 3 to 4 minutes until soft.  Remove from heat and let mixture steep 20 minutes, or until pandan is cool enough to handle with bare hands.

3. Remove leaves and squeeze over coconut mixture to extract as much flavor and liquid as possible.  Discard leaves and set liquid aside.

4. Bring 2 inches water to a simmer in medium saucepan.

5. In stainless steel bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks and remaining ½ cup sugar.  Slowly whisk in coconut mixture.  Set bowl over saucepan of lightly simmering water and cook gently, stirring constantly with rubber spatula, until mixture thickens, 15 to 20 minutes.  It will seem like a long time before you see any results, but the moment mixture starts to set, it becomes easy to overcook, so watch carefully.  Texture should be like thick custard.  Pour mixture into clean container and refrigerate to cool

6. Store cooled jam in airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Recipes from Street by Susan Feniger

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