Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies
Oct28

Old Tradition Meets New: Ginger Cutout Cookies

I didn’t grown up with Halloween, so even after living in the US for 21 years (how did that happen?!), it doesn’t have the same meaning for me as the die-hards around me. (I’m sure if I had grown up collecting pails of candy with my friends, and dressing up in lavish costumes, it would be my fayyyvorite holiday!)  But I did grow up with a tradition of ginger cookies. My love for ginger “biscuits”—as we called them in South Africa—began with these very gingersnaps that my step-mom, Pam, used to make. They’re characteristically crunchy, but if you prefer a chewy cookie, just bake for less time. I like them perfectly crispy around the edges with just a little chew in the middle. Yum! If you’re not gonna frost them, painting them with egg gives them a glossy sheen, but if you forget this step (like I did) they will still be delish!   My favorite taster said they’re just right! (She’s munching on a ghost cookie—in case you’re wondering.)   I found the cute jack-o-lantern cookie stamp set at Sur La Table. Would you believe I FORGOT to use them and just managed to scrape three together with the last offcuts of dough!     And even after being rolled and re-rolled they were still pretty yummy! Though I did leave these in the oven for about 30 seconds too long so they’re crrrrrispy! Make sure to keep an eye on them because every minute counts!   In my recent trip to South Africa, I poured over Pam’s recipe book, taking snaps of all my childhood favs. (I sure wish I would’ve been more interested when I lived there.) How cool is this? The original recipe from her mom, Nan, who was a fabulous baker.   You know I just couldn’t stop there though, right? I modified the recipe (after my usual hours of research and testing) which called for creaming the eggs and sugar. (Yes, you read that correctly) There are so few recipes that require this step, that I decided to go with the simpler method of whisking and stirring—from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book (fabulous book) . I mean, why bring out the mixer unless absolutely necessary, right? And this way my daughter can be involved in the mixing too—not just the cutting and frosting. You might be wondering why they call for such a large amount of baking soda (2 teaspoons). This is so that they rise dramatically and then collapse, leaving the cute crackles on the surface. It also allows for better browning and the cracks in the dough allow more moisture to escape, making them crispier. Refrigerating the dough deepens...

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10 Recipes for a Happy New Year
Sep16

10 Recipes for a Happy New Year

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that OrnaBakes actually began with my bulkas—traditional cinnamon buns that we broke our fast on each Yom Kippur in South Africa—so it would only be right to kick off this list with my signature bake. Even if you didn’t read any further and just made these, your family would think you were a rock star! But each make-ahead dish has been tried and tested by me, and would be perfect for any holiday or family gathering. If you celebrate the Jewish Holidays, wishing you L’Shanah Tovah, from our family to yours.   Love,     Traditional South African Bulkas http://www.ornabakes.com/2012/09/cinnamon-bulkas-traditional-yeast-buns/ These soft, buttery buns, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, are just sweet enough, but not too rich—so you can enjoy them anytime. My favorite thing to do over the holidays is to make them with my little one. You can check out my YouTube vid for exactly how to make them. (Please give a THUMBS UP if you find it helpful!)   Cinnamon Raisin Challah http://www.ornabakes.com/2013/08/round-challah-for-a-sweet-new-year/ Did you know that Round Challah symbolizes the cycle of life, so what better a way to bring in a sweet New Year than to bake a fresh loaf to share with your loved ones! My cuz, Carla, taught me how to make this wonderful, sweet Cinnamon Sugar loaf, which then gave me the confidence to try other things with yeast… starting my love/hate relationship with yeast. But I will say that there’s nothing more satisfying than baking your own bread!   Chicken Marbella – from The Silver Palate http://www.silverpalate.com/recipe/store-favorites/chicken-marbella Our cousins, Leon & Judy, who live in Northern California, make their wonderful variation of this recipe for the holidays, because it feeds a crowd, you can make it ahead, and well… it’s plain delish! Make sure to marinate the chicken overnight to deepen the flavor and keep it moist. They use skinless breast halves (bone-in) and thighs, but I add some legs too—my personal fav. I love their take of using half prunes & half dried apricots. I just finely minced the garlic, or you could puree it, like in the original recipe. I use my favorite World’s Largest Olives from TJ’s and just leave out the pimentos. It’s a fabulous, easy recipe—you must try it!   Anne Burrell’s Brisket (without the bacon!) http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/braised-beef-brisket-with-onions-mushrooms-and-balsamic-recipe.html This is a nice change from the usual, sweet, chutney, ketchup, or cola brisket recipes. Don’t freak out on me about the bacon, just leave it out! Yes, I did find it a little weird in her episode where she says, why would anyone leave out the bacon (hello… Chef Anne, do you not have...

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Friday Food Finds: Target
Sep13

Friday Food Finds: Target

In the past few weeks I’ve taken you to Costco and Trader Joe’s on Friday Food Finds. This week I take you to one of the best places to get wholesome food at a reasonable price. Any idea where yet? Bet you didn’t guess Target! Target has a wide selection of smart food choices, and lots of Weight Watchers Power Foods. This week I show you a kid-friendly, high-protein pasta, my go-to Weight Watcher’s Simply Filling Breakfast, and some easy meal ideas.             Don’t forget to give this video a big THUMBS UP! Also don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter, and YouTube Channel so you don’t miss a single installment of Friday Food Finds. Where would you like to see me go...

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Vegas – you can bet on this gem!
Sep11

Vegas – you can bet on this gem!

Next time you’re in Vegas you MUST try The Lotus of Siam. ( http://www.saipinchutima.com) Actually, I would almost do the four hour drive from LA just to go this family-owned restaurant. (With a quick visit to my favorite Goldfish slot machine, of course.) What an experience! Outstanding, authentic, and simply deeelicious Thai Food. (Ranked #27 of 3877 restaurants on Trip Advisor) And reasonably priced, too.       I discovered this hidden gem on Top Chef Masters, when some celeb chef was singing its praises. I thought it would be a fun place to take my brother Neville, and his wife, sweetheart Petra—visiting from South Africa. Can you tell which one’s my brother? (or boet as they say in SA)     Cuz, Dale who lives in Vegas, and her boyf, Will were good sports and braved it too, and happily everyone was impressed.   It’s about a 15 minute car-ride from the Las Vegas Strip in a nondescript strip mall. The lineup of cabs out front is the first sign that the general public have caught on, and if you don’t have a resy you could wait for hours. The walls are covered with magazine articles and Zagat Ratings. The gorgeous wine cellar is another clue that this isn’t your average hole-in-the-wall.   We took our server’s recommendations, and each perfectly balanced dish was interesting, with huge depth of flavor. Here are some of my faves: Crispy Garlic Prawns    Giant garlic prawns. And I’m not talking “shrimp.” These are the real deal: meaty, gorgeous, deep fried with crispy shells that eat like chips. (I don’t usually do fried, but these were definitely worthy.)   Beef Short Ribs  The short ribs are un.bee.lievable. Fork-tender and tasty, with lovely, light, fresh noodles. (I could easily have polished that one off myself!   Crispy Duck Panang Curry I’ve never tasted such succulent and tender duck. The curry sauce didn’t over power, and despite being pan fried it wasn’t too rich. Green Papaya Salad (Healthy Pick)     If you haven’t tried this before, it’s not what you’d expect. I’m not a huge fan of fruit in salads, and this can be misleading because when you think papaya you think sweet fruit, right? But the green, unripe papaya is crispy and fresh—fab way to sneak in some greens. I couldn’t actually find this on the menu, but since it’s something I always order at Thai restaurants (and it was on the server’s top ten) it was a no-brainer. Pad Thai     It was a little embarrassing to order Pad Thai (which you’ll find at any Thai restaurant in the US) at this exotic establishment, but hubby, Sam, had to...

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Friday Food Finds: Costco
Sep05

Friday Food Finds: Costco

In the most recent installment of Friday Food Finds I took you to Costco to show you some of my go to food picks that my family and I love. I showed you some smart grab and go snack ideas to help tide you over if you hungry in-between meals. I also showed you one of my favorite new cheeses, and some quick and easy meal ideas. Costco is really a great place to save money while making smart food choices. Don’t forget to check out my YouTube to watch the most recent Friday Food Finds, and to catch up on our first installment where I show you some great choices in one of my favorite stores, Trader Joe’s. Follow the Orna Bake’s YouTube so you don’t miss out on all my great food...

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Friday Food Finds
Aug29

Friday Food Finds

Here at Ornabakes.com we believe eating healthy starts by making good food choices at the store. So last week we started a new segment called Friday Food Finds. In our first segment I took you to Trader Joe’s to show you what I stock up on. Some of my yummy finds you will find quite unexpected! If you haven’t checked it out yet you can check out the Ornabakes YouTube Channel for last week’s Friday Food Finds. This week I’m taking you along to Costco where I will show you some great grab and go snack finds. Plus I will show you some other great things Costco has to offer to help keep you making great food choices. So make sure to visit Ornabakes.com, later today to check it out! Don’t forget to follow our YouTube channel so you don’t miss a single installment of Friday Food Finds with me,...

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