Author Archives: Aly Miller

About Aly Miller

Aly Miller was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and has been living in Brooklyn for the past 3 years. She graduated in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied human geography and lived in a lively vegan Jewish co-op. When she's not writing about food, she's probably cooking or illustrating it. Follow her at

The Best (And Worst) Way to Cut a Bagel

The other day, Tech Insider posted a video about “the best way to cut a bagel.” Intrigued, yet skeptical of the tech industry’s bagel-eating skills, we pressed play.

We were amused by the never-ending bagel loop they created, but not sold. The concept is to cut the bagel in the shape of a Möbius strip, which is a surface with just one side and one boundary. It’s a pretty cool mathematical phenomenon, and it has real world applications. But bagels, in our opinion, just aren’t one of them. At best, it’s a cool brunch trick. At it’s worst, it’s a sure way to get cream cheese all over your hands and face.

The best way, of course, is to simply separate the top half of the bagel from the bottom half of the bagel. Then, simply apply cream cheese and make into a sandwich or eat open faced. You knew it all along!

All in all, the Möbius strip bagel isn’t the best way to cut or eat a bagel, but it’s certainly a novel way to do it.

What’s your favorite way to eat a bagel? Here are some of our all-time favorites:

Classic Bagel Recipe
Rainbow Bagels with Strawberry Funfetti Cream Cheese
7 Incredible Ways to Eat Bagels and Lox

Sweet Dessert Hummus Recipe

Have you ever tried dessert hummus? That’s right – a sweet hummus. No, it’s not exactly traditional, but it is as simple as making classic hummus. Instead of savory ingredients like garlic, tahini and cumin, you add dates, maple syrup and even cocoa powder.

It’s perfect for those times you are craving something sweet but also want to eat healthy. No refined sugar, no guilt – just delicious!

Dairy-Free Cream Pie with Tahini and Chocolate

Some recipe ideas come together on the first try, without any mess or fuss. Others are true labors of love, like grains that simmer and simmer but never get soft until some unexpected moment at the end. This recipe happens to be one of the latter.

Using tahini instead of peanut butter is one of my classic moves, and I know that I’m not the only one. Tahini adds a nutty flavor with a hint of bitterness that goes perfectly with a smooth, dark chocolate. Sometimes, sesame seeds themselves are called for. While in Amsterdam last year, I became obsessed with Lindt’s sesame dark chocolate bar. The texture of crunchy, toasted seeds, encased in velvety dark chocolate had me at “hello.”

With these flavor visions in mind, I began recipe testing tahini cream pie, with a dark chocolate crust, and a hidden layer of chocolate ganache at the bottom. It would be dairy-free, perfect to serve after any meal. I’ve always loved the challenge of making rich, decadent desserts without dairy.

My discerning roommates and neighbors enlisted themselves every weekend over the past few months as taste-testers, happily devouring each and every version. We’ve had cookie crusts, shortbread crusts and almond crusts. A number of surprising ingredients, like tofu, coconut oil and even homemade cashew cream cheese found their way into the fillings. While each trial and error resulted in something magnificent, each had a wrinkle to smooth. Normally I don’t chase after such finicky ideas, but I believed in this pie, and it seemed to believe in me.

In the end, the recipe with the simplest ingredients and easiest directions clearly won out. You won’t find any tricky gluten-free ingredients or dairy substitutes in here — you might even have these items ready and waiting in your pantry. Since the directions are so easy, I think you’ll find that the hardest part is waiting for it to chill!

Nothing feels more right this week than to give something homemade and hard-won to the people I love. Finally, here’s the recipe they’ve been waiting for!

Ina Garten’s 7 Best Jewish Recipes

Ina Garten’s birthday is today, and we can’t think of any better way to celebrate our favorite celebrity chef than by cooking some of her classic Jewish recipes. No TV personality and cookbook writer has a more fun-loving, yet expert-graceful approach as Ina, whose books (Cooking For Jeffrey and Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, to name a few)  are infused with as many practical cooking tips as touching anecdotes.

Ina Garten is both relatable and inspiring. Brooklyn-born, she spent years working in DC, fell in love with cooking by working her way through Julia Child’s cookbooks, opened a gourmet grocery store, and eventually rose to fame as a cookbook writer and Food Network chef. Does she ever stop?

In the spirit of The Barefoot Contessa, pour a flute of champagne, invite some friends over, and start cooking!

Perfect Roast Chicken
Brisket With Carrot and Onions
Chopped Liver
Noodle Kugel
Stuffed Cabbage
Matzah Balls

(above photo from Ina Garten’s Facebook)

Healthy Kosher Snacks to Make or Buy

Keeping your healthy New Year’s resolutions are easy at first. Full of motivation, you cook healthy soups and stews, and pile your plate high with plenty of vegetables. Eating well for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is part of a healthy lifestyle. But what about the meals in-between? It’s way too easy to give into your brownie craving when you don’t have a healthy alternative in hand.

Healthy snacks are just as important to pack as a nutritious lunch. A blend of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats can give you that extra boost of energy you need to make it to dinnertime. Try making a large batch of one of our hummus recipes below, and you’ll have healthy snacks all week long. It’s also a great idea to keep some store-bought snacks in your purse to keep your junk food cravings at bay.

Hummus 2

Scrumptious Sweet Potato Hummus
Asian Green Pea Hummus
How to Make Simple Hummus
Vegan Chopped Liver with Mushrooms and Miso
Homemade Granola Bars
Perfect Kale Chips
Medjool Date Energy Bars (above)
Walnut Hummus

Store-Bought Snacks: 

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.02.28 PM

photo from @larabar

Kind Bars
Lära Bars (above)
Justin’s Classic Almond Butter Snack Packs
Trader Joe’s Omega Trail Mix
Health Warrior Chia Bar
Wonderfully Raw Cacoa Nib Coco-Roons
Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips Cool Ranch


Rye Bread is the Trendiest Jewish Food Right Now

Rye bread is on the rise, making headlines and appearing at farmers markets, upscale restaurants, and Scandinavian-inspired bakeries.

Aside from the timeless deli rye that goes so well with pastrami, the kind of rye bread we’re noticing is hard, dense and fermented. It’s made with mostly rye flour — sometimes 100% rye — and it’s studded with rye kernels and cracked wheat. This long-fermenting, sour bread was once a staple throughout Scandinavia, the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. It’s the kind of bread that’s perfect for open-faced sandwiches topped with a smoky cheese and salt-cured salmon.

New York Times writer Julia Moskin explores the European history of rye bread, in “Rye, a Grain With Ancient Roots is Rising Again.” She writes that “Before modern agriculture and transportation made wheat available everywhere, rye was the best (and sometimes only) option for bread baking,” as it was the easiest grain to grow in Northern, damp climates. This rustic, hardy loaf was the day-to-day bread, in stark contrast to to the light, airy loaves made for Shabbat

With easier access to wheat flour, Northern and Eastern European loaves became lighter, “loftier” and sweeter, Moskin writes. Rye loaves were cut with wheat flour, and spiced with caraway. This is the soft, chewy “sissel rye” (caraway rye) Polish and Ukrainian Jews brought to New York in the late 1800s. Along with caraway, sometimes fennel, anise, and coriander are added, a mixture known by Germans and Eastern Europeans as “bread spice.”

You can try your hand at making one of these loaves (recipes below), or, if you’re in New York City, you can have traditional Jewish rye bread at the historic Orwasher’s Bakery on the Upper East Side. On your way downtown, you can try the award-winning Danish restaurateur, Claus Meyer’s much buzzed-about rugbrod (Danish rye bread) at Grand Central Terminal’s Great Northern Food Hall or Agern restaurant. Alternatively, the trek out to his Williamsburg, Brooklyn pop-up bakery, Meyers Bageri, is one you won’t regret. 

Want to try making your own rye bread? Try one of these recipes, below!

Marbled Rye Challah
New York Deli Rye Bread from The Smitten Kitchen
Danish Rye Bread from The Daring Gourmet
Nordic Whole-Grain Rye Bread from The New York Times
Classic Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds from Michael Ruhlman
Mustard Rye Bread from What’s Cooking America


How to Host a Vegan Bagels and Lox Brunch

There was nothing like lox, until we tried carrot lox. According to Food 52 and several of our blogging friends, it might even be (gasp!) better than the actual thing. Pair it with some nut-based cream cheese, fresh dill and a vegan bagel, and you’ll be hooked. This year, we’re expecting lots of creativity in the world of vegan meat and fish, and there’s no better place to start than carrot “lox.”

Vegetable-based lox is prepared with careful attention to flavor and texture: you can slow roast whole carrots in a bed of salt, or slice them thinly, marinate, and roast. If you’d prefer tomatoes, try marinating them in kelp, liquid smoke and soy sauce (a la Carrots and Flowers, below). When you’re a vegan, or a simply a vegetable-lover like me, few things feel as triumphant as spinning a whole vegetable into something that meat-eaters will envy.

DIY vegan cream cheese is just as essential, and super easy. Most recipes are cashew or coconut-milk based, so they’re paleo and potentially nut-free. Just remember to plan ahead a few days so that you can soak your cashews or chill the coconut milk. Jazz it up with fresh dill, garlic, or even some fresh horseradish.

After all this vegetable and nut sorcery, you’ll probably opt to purchase your vegan bagels. Most bagels are vegan, but watch out for ingredients like honey, eggs (egg wash is common), or whey.

Below is a collection of our favorite vegan lox and cream cheese recipes. Let us know what you think–is carrot ‘lox’ the next big thing? Happy noshing!


Vegan Lox Recipes:
Smoked Carrot “Lox” from Food 52
Vegan NY Style Bagels with Tomato “Lox” and Cashew Cream Cheese from Carrots and Flowers
Vegan Cream Cheese and Beet Tart from May I Have That Recipe (above)
Carrot Lox from Olives for Dinner
Smoked Rainbow Carrot ‘Lox’ from In My Bowl

Vegan Cream Cheese Recipes:
Simple Cashew Cream Cheese Spread from Yum Universe
Simple Cultured Cashew Cream Cheese from Yup, It’s Vegan
Coconut Milk Cream Cheese from Nerdy Mama
Vegan Smoky Black Pepper Cream Cheese from The Vegan 8
Nut-Free Vegan Cream Cheese from Ceara’s Kitchen

Vegan Bagel Recipes
Bagel Recipe
Montreal Bagels from The New York Times
(use agave nectar instead of honey)





Hawaij Hot Cocoa with Cinnamon Whipped Cream Recipe

Brrrr, it’s cold outside. But we know exactly what you need to warm up: some spicy, hawaij hot cocoa.

Hawaij is an important, if not nearly sacred, Yemenite spice blend. Hawaij is one of the most important ingredients in Yemenite cooking, with both savory blends using coriander, turmeric and cumin for soups, or ginger, cardamom and cinnamon for coffee. You can make your own blends or buy it in specialty spice stores or online.

This hot cocoa was so delicious with cinnamon whipped cream, and it had the perfect amount of spice to warm up on even the coldest days. To see us make this warming hot cocoa watch here:

If want to try some other Yemenite dishes, check out the iconic, buttery kubaneh bread with grated tomato and this Yemenite vegetarian soup.

Hawaij Hot Cocoa with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

The Secret Behind New York City’s Best Smoked Fish

New Yorkers have so many options when it comes to lox and smoked fish — Eastern Nova, Western Nova, Gravlax, or Belly Lox just cover the basics. You can sample and place your order at the city’s finest appetizing stores, like Zabar’s, Barney Greengrass, Russ & Daughters or Shelksy’s, each with their own take on smoked fish. But these menu items actually have a lot in common –many of them come from Acme Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

READ: What Are the Different Kinds of Lox?

According to Bloomberg News, these distinct fishes are expertly brined and then cold smoked at 70 degrees. Zabar’s, Shelsky’s and Barney Greengrass all have a different Acme-smoked Nova on the menu. Shop owners work closely with Acme to craft the exact kind of fish that they know their customers are looking for. Josh Tupper, owner of Russ & Daughters, told Bon Appetit that cold-smoked fish is the most popular type of fish on the menu. There’s a lot at stake with lox — customers analyze it for the texture, flavor, appearance, melt-in-your-mouthiness and, last but not least, flavor.

Smoked Salmon Sandwich

How did Acme Smoked Fish rise to fame?

It all started with Harry Brownstein in 1905, a Russian immigrant in Brooklyn who with a pushcart distributed fish from local smokehouses to appetizing stores. Brownstein co-created his own smoked fish company in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood in 1937, and eventually built his own smoking facility in Greenpoint in 1954. The name Acme, according to its website, was chosen not only because it means “best in business,” but also because it shows up first in the Yellow Pages.

Acme soon started supplying several local grocery store chains with pickled and smoked fish, becoming one of the first brands to do so. Prior to the 1970s, most smoked and pickled fish was sold behind the deli counter or at appetizing stores. With advances in technology, food safety and food preservation, the company was able to expand into further markets and set up shop in Florida and North Carolina. From pushcart to fish factory, the Acme story is one with which local retailers like Shelsky’s and Russ & Daughters can identify.

According to Bloomberg’s food writer, Kate Krader, no slice of Acme-smoked Nova is the same. She rates them here. Which one is your favorite?

Kosher Fried Pickles Are Coming to NYC’s Lower East Side

Image from

There’s a new pickle shop in town, and they’re going to serve deep-fried pickles!

According to Eater New YorkThe Pickle Guys moved to a larger location, where they’re adding a casual restaurant to their popular retail shop and will be breading and frying their barrel-cured classics.

One hundred years ago, the neighborhood was teeming with pickle shops. Essex Street was known as “Pickle Alley.” Today there’s just one pickle guy, and it’s Alan Kaufman, who got his start at (the closed) Guss’s Pickles and opened his own shop in 2003. As the number of pickle vendors, delis, appetizing stores, and bialy shops in the Lower East Side dwindle to the single digits, there’s been great interest from the community and tourists in changing this trend.

READ: How Jewish Appetizing Got Its Name

The Pickle Guys will join other establishments with Jewish roots, Kossar’s Bialys and the Donut Plant, in this single-story retail building on Grand Street. It will be the only establishment on the block with kosher certification.

Kaufman keeps tradition alive with at least nine varieties of sour pickles, and doesn’t stop at cucumbers. He pickles carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, okra, and even mango and pineapple, which sit in salt brine with fresh garlic and spices.

A number of these brined delicacies will be fried in The Pickle Guys’ soon-to-be casual restaurant. They’ll open in March or April, so stay tuned!

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