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"Food for Thought . . . where food breaks down barriers and brings us all to the table!"

Food for Thought was created to facilitate dialogue with our neighbors and to embrace and highlight the diversity of our OWA members. Gathering together at the table promotes fellowship and provides a place of love and peace. If you have a recipe to feature in Food for Thought, send your submission to .


2021 Episodes

Basic Caramel with Kathy Cruz

Notes

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I cook my caramel to 249 degrees, which gives me a firm caramel to use for dipping.

Ingredients
(Cook Time: 10-15 minutes)

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  • 2 ¼ Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter (I use salted butter)
  • Pinch of Salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 14-ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup milk or dark melting chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp of course sea salt

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Directions

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  1. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in sugar and salt, then add corn syrup. Mix well. Add sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until caramel reaches your desired temperature from 245 degrees to 252 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  2. Pour into an 8"x8" pan, lined with parchment paper. Let sit for at least 12 hours.
  3. Cut into 1" squares. Dip into chocolate and add sea salt. Let sit until chocolate is hardened.

Enjoy!


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Baba Solatycki's Pierogies with Karen Michaelson

Notes

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Place in freezer till frozen and ready to cook. If you will be using them over time, store them well in bags, they do keep pretty well.

Ingredients
(Yield: 36 pierogies)
(Prep Time: 1.25 hours, start to freeze)
(Cook Time: 15-25 minutes)

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Dough

  • 2 cups flour (regular or gluten free)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1-2 TBSP vegetable oil or olive oil
  • ¾ hot water

Filling

  • 5 large potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 5-8 oz cheddar cheese (I like extra sharp)
  • Chopped onions, fried (optional)
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • *Alternate fillings – Be Creative! Sauerkraut, fried onions, spinach, mushrooms, etc.

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Directions

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Dough

  1. Mix dough ingredients by hand; knead until smooth on a lightly floured surface. Add extra flour or water as needed - the dough should be smooth and pliable.
  2. Wrap lightly in plastic & let sit 2 hours at room temp.
  3. Then divide the dough into 4 sections, rolling each piece to approximately ¼" thick; use a 2 ½ to 3" glass to cut circles from the rolled out dough.

Filling

  1. Using a teaspoon, scoop a dollop of potato or chosen mixture and place in center of dough; fold over dough and start with 1 pinch in the middle to seal, then pinch all around until sealed.
  2. Using a baking sheet or container, layer pierogies with parchment or plastic wrap in between.
  3. Place in freezer until frozen and ready to cook.

Time to Eat

  1. Bring salted water to a boil, drop in pierogies, and low boil till they float. (You can eat them right after boil, but finish the process below and you will thank me!)
  2. While boiling, prepare frying pan with butter and fry onions if you like. Strain water, put pierogies in frying pan, and brown each side till slightly crispy.
  3. Plate, serve with sour cream, and loosen your belt!

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Rajma Curry with Bidisha Rudra

Notes

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Most of the ingredients are easily available in any grocery store. For specific spices, such as garam masala, you can find them at any Indian store, or stores like Trader Joe's, Sprouts, etc.

Home recipe: Lightly roast together 1 spoon each of cumin, coriander seeds, and 1/2 spoon each of nutmeg and cloves in a shallow non stick dish. Roast until all the spices turn aromatic without burning. Blend the spices into a coarse powder and save it in an airtight container and use as needed.

Ingredients
(Yield: 4 servings)
(Prep Time: 10 minutes)
(Cook Time: 20 minutes)

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  • 2 Tablespoon light cooking oil
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 inch of ginger finely grated
  • 4-5 gloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (per taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • (The above spices/powders can be found in any Indian grocery store, or stores, such as Walmart, Safeway, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, etc.)
  • 3 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 small cans of red kidney beans (15 oz each), drained
  • Water as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • For garnish: a handful of finely chopped cilantro leaves, a spoon full of whipped cream (optional)

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Directions

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  1. Add oil to a deep heavy bottomed pan. Once the oil is warm, add in the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. As soon as the spices begin to sizzle, add in the chopped onion, ginger, and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes till lightly browned.
  2. Lower the flame slightly and add all the spices, and fry till fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and combine well with the onion and spices. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from getting burnt. The spices will be ready when you see the oil begins to separate. (takes about 5-7 minutes)
  3. Increase the flame and stir in kidney beans, season with salt and add about 1 glass of water (depending on the thickness of gravy you prefer). Lower the heat slightly, and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
  4. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and cream (optional) and serve warm with rice or enjoy it simply as a bowl of soup.

Enjoy!


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Mexican Street Corn Salad with Monique Arechiga

Ingredients
(Yield: 8 servings)
(Prep Time: 10 minutes)
(Cook Time: 10 minutes)

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Salad

  • 4 cups of corn (fresh or appoximately 24 oz. frozen)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, minced (leave some for garnish)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup coitja cheese (shredded or crumbled)

Dressing

  • 3 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 4 Tablespoon fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

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Directions

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  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan to medium high; add corn and cook until slightly charred, approximately 7-10 minutes. Set aside in large bowl.
  2. Add pepper, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno to the corn, mixing well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and mix until smooth.
  4. Pour dressing over corn and mix well.
  5. Add half the cheese to the corn and mix well. Use the remaining cheese and a few cilantro leaves as garnish on top.
  6. Cover and store in the fridge up to 8 hours before serving.

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Cake Box Cookies with Mary Lanning

Ingredients
(Yield: 1 dozen cookies)

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Cookies
(Prep Time: 5 minutes)
(Time to Cook: 20 minutes)

  • 1 box cake, any flavor
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

Buttercream Icing
(Yield: 2 cups frosting)
(Prep Time: 10 minutes)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Optional: food coloring

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Directions

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Cookies

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix one box cake mix (any flavor), egg, and oil until dough forms.
  3. Scoop dough and form into balls. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 350° for approximately 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Option: top with buttercream icing (recipe included) and sprinkles.

Buttercream Icing

  1. In a large bowl, whip butter on high until fluffy (approximately 3 minutes).
  2. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts, and salt.
  3. On low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar.
  4. Mix on high until creamy (approximately 3 minutes).

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Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Cookies with Jeannette Berman

Ingredients
(Yield: 24 cookies)
(Prep Time: 15 minutes)

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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup rolled old fashioned oats

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Directions

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Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Any cocoa powder you have will do. I have made it with regular, dutch processed, and black cocoa powder (kind used for Oreo cookies). They all taste good!

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment, silpat or lightly grease with unsalted butter.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  5. Beat in the egg, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture.
  7. Stir in the oats.
  8. Arrange spoonfuls of dough on the cookie sheets, and then flatten with a fork dipped in cold water to make a cross hatch pattern.
  9. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
  10. After you take them out of the oven, let the cookies sit on the pan for two minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Arroz Caldo with Elen Rose Factor

Ingredients
(Yield: 16 8-oz servings)

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  • 8 qt Instant Pot
  • 4 qt water
  • 4 chicken thighs (approx 1.5-2 lbs)
  • 2" fresh, peeled ginger (7-8 big slices or julienne style)
  • 3 tbsp powdered chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
  • 2 cups of uncooked, rinsed rice
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

Seasonings / Toppings

  • green onions
  • crumbled chicharon
  • fried garlic
  • chopped hard boiled eggs
  • kalamansi or lemon

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Directions

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  1. Rinse 2 cups of rice until water runs clear, approximately three times. Fill Instant Pot halfway with water. Add all ingredients (except for toppings).
  2. Pressure cook on high for 12 min. Be sure to turn off KEEP WARM function. Let it slow release, do not use the quick release function — soup will spew everywhere if you do! Add toppings.

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Challah French Toast with Liz Friedfeld

Ingredients
(Yield: 8-10 servings)

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French Toast

  • 1 loaf challah (but can use any type such as sourdough or French bread)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/4" cubes

Serve With

  • Pure maple syrup
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving
  • 1 cup mixed blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries

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Directions

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Night Preparation

  • Additional butter needed for greasing a 13" x 9" dish. I use Pyrex. Grease the pan with butter.
  • Slice the challah into 1/2" slices and lay overlapping in the greased pan.
  • In a separate bowl, add the eggs, milk, half & half, cinnamon, and vanilla; whisk together.
  • Pour the mixture evenly over the challah, and press lightly with the back of a spoon or spatula to make sure all areas are covered by the egg mixture.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Topping

  • Add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the base of a food processor, and pulse gently to mix the ingredients.
  • Cut up a stick of butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine pebbles.
  • Place in a resealable bag and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Next Morning

  • Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the pan containing the soaked challah from the refrigerator and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon / butter / sugar topping.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350° (or until a toothpick inserted comes out dry and clean).
  • To serve, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and top individual portions with maple syrup and fresh mixed berries.

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Whipped Cream with Alana Rossi

Ingredients
(Yield: 2-4 people, or 1 cup of whipped cream)

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  • Organic Powdered Sugar
  • Organic Heavy Whipping Cream

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Directions

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  1. Pour 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream into a deep bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the powdered sugar.
  2. Mix at a low speed until the sugar is mixed in.
  3. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of powdered sugar. Mix at a high speed until fluffy.
  4. Enjoy with fresh fruit or as a topping for pies, cakes, etc.

Want to spice it up? Add 1 teaspoon of sherry, brandy, rum, or your favorite liqueur.


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