Favorite nosherei

There’s snacking, nibbling and grazing, and then there’s noshing, which has a certain cachet when it comes to eating in small quantities. There are many definitions of the word “nosh,” but my favorite is “to eat on the sly.”

Sitting with a good book and munching potato chips is nibbling, an apple in between meals is snacking, and eating small portions of a variety of foods is grazing, but surreptitiously biting into that slice of Hebrew National salami, to be followed by yet another slice when nobody’s looking … that’s noshing.

Or a sliver of that still warm-from-the-oven coffee cake when nobody’s home, a midnight spread of chopped liver on matzah crackers, a generous handful of honeyed walnuts or a few spiced olives that were meant for your next dinner party.

My grandmother used to have a kitchen cabinet designated for nosherei that was filled with all the edibles her grandchildren loved best. My favorites were the miniature Hershey bars. Today, some of my favorite noshes are cold fried chicken (just the leg, please), and last night’s grilled steak fresh from the fridge accompanied by a forkful of cold spaghetti consumed when I’m all alone and eating on the sly.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake | Serves 8 to 10

Nut mixture:
11/4cups coarsely chopped walnuts
11/4 cups golden brown sugar
41/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
41/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbs. golden raisins

Cake mixture:
23/4 cups flour
11/2 tsp. baking soda
11/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
11/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12-cup bundt pan. Mix nut mixture ingredients in small bowl. Set nut mixture aside. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and sour cream alternately into butter mixture in 3 additions. Beat batter on high 1 minute.

Pour 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining nut mixture. Spoon remaining batter over.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack and cool 1 hour. Transfer to platter. Let cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Middle-of-the-Night Fried Chicken | Serves 4

2 cups breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 chicken breast halves
2 chicken whole legs

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 450 degrees. Place breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Leave oven on. Stir together mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cumin, and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush mayonnaise mixture all over chicken, then transfer chicken to bowl of crumbs to coat evenly on both sides, pressing crumbs to help them adhere. Bake chicken, skin sides up, in baking pan until well browned and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Let chicken stand 5 to 10 minutes (do not cover).

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher. E-mail her at [email protected].