Author Archives: Shannon Sarna

Shannon Sarna

About Shannon Sarna

Shannon Sarna is the editor of The Nosher. Born to an Italian mother who loved to bake, a Jewish father who loved to experiment, and a food chemist grandfather, loving and experimenting with diverse foods is simply in her blood. Her writing and recipes have been featured in Tablet Magazine, JTA News, The Jewish Week, Joy of Kosher Magazine and Buzzfeed. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA with a degree in Comparative Government and Spanish Language and Literature and currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. To see what Shannon is cooking and eating, follow her on twitter @shasarna and on Instagram.

FREE STUFF: Win One of These Awesome Passover Cookbooks!

Are you starting to plan your Passover menus? I know I am, and I also know that every year I look to change up a few dishes. Sure, I like to keep our Seder menus classic with brisket, kugel and chicken soup. But sometimes you just need some inspiration. If you can also relate, then look no further, because we’ve got not one but two beautiful Passover cookbooks chock full of recipe ideas to make for the Seder and for all week.

My friend Naomi Nachman of The Aussie Gourmet has made it her professional calling to invent Passover food so delicious and beautiful you would eat it all year. And in her first cookbook Perfect for Pesach, she worked with two other talented colleagues, Miriam Pascal and Melinda Strauss, to deliver this easy-to-navigate, mouth-watering cookbook. (Check back next week for her maple glazed rack of ribs recipe).

And straight from the Streit family (ha, try saying that five times fast) comes Matzo: 35 Recipes for Passover and All Year Long written by Michelle Streit Heilbrun, the granddaughter of the founder of Streit’s Matzo. This book celebrates the bread of affliction in the most creative ways you can imagine: matzah chiliquiles, matzah nachos and even matzah tiramisu.

Enter to win one of these beautiful cookbooks below and make sure to tell your friends! Happy cooking.


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How to Make Chopped Liver

Chopped liver is a staple on holiday tables during Passover and Rosh Hashanah, as well as served up deliciously at Jewish delis across the country. It is a beloved, old-world dish born out of the desire to use every part of the animal – even the livers. And so its origins are quite humble. Still, the result of the livers with fried onions, oil or schmaltz and either eggs or vegetables is a super rich spread fit for a king. (Also, it’s really quite easy to make!)

I think the secret to great chopped liver is lots of fried onions, a little bit of schmaltz and not over-broiling the livers. According to rules of kashrut livers, must be fully cooked. But if you cook them exactly the right amount of time, or just slightly under, the liver result is much richer than if you over-broil them and dry them out.

Follow this simple, classic recipe and you’ll be schmearing chopped liver before you know it.


The Jewish Chef Who Inspired This Popular TV Show

I always love sharing how much social media can bring people together and create wonderful collaborations. And how I first met Gabi Moskowitz, blogger, cookbook author and TV producer extraordinaire, was through Instagram. I soon discovered she was not only a fun Jewish blogger and writer, but that the show Young and Hungry on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) was based on her blog. Gabi is just one of those people you love working with — talented, easy going, creative, kind and generous. And so I was so excited not only when she started writing some guests posts for The Nosher, but also when she agreed to answer some questions about how she got into this wonderful crazy industry in the first place and a little about her latest cookbook.

When and why did you start blogging?

I first got into blogging when I was 26 and had just broken up with a boyfriend. I was sad and restless and suddenly found myself with more time than I’d ever had before. I started my first blog, as a place to write thoughts, feelings and recipes for what I was cooking. Eventually the blogging bug bit me, and I started what is now my primary website,, as a place to share high-quality but low-cost recipes.  

Does being Jewish inform your love of food and cooking?

Jewish culture permeates every aspect of my life, but my cooking is perhaps where it is most evident. I don’t keep kosher but my husband does and our kitchen is kosher, so a lot of my cooking in the past few years really reflects that. I often make kosher versions of my favorite treyf foods (like potstickers, pasta carbonara and even bacon).

Actors Emily Osment (as Gabi) and Jonathan Sadowski on the show Young and Hungry.

How did your experience as a blogger and chef get turned into a TV show?  

I received an email from an agent in 2011, who was a fan of my blog and thought it might be interesting fodder for a sitcom. He arranged some meetings for me with production companies and eventually, I met one I really loved, who also liked me and wanted to work together (The Tannenbaum Company, which also created Two-and-a-Half Men). I met with several TV writers, and eventually met one (David Holden) whom I felt was the best one to take my story and develop it into fiction. Together, we managed to sell it to ABC Family (which is now called Freeform), and amazingly, the pilot got picked up and turned into a series, which premiered in 2014. We’re now on our fifth season. I still can’t believe it’s real. 

Tell us about your latest cookbook, Hot Mess Kitchen. What do you hope people reading it will take away? Is it only for women?  

Hot Mess Kitchen, which is coming out this fall is perhaps more geared toward women, but it is in no way exclusively for women! It’s about cooking for the hot mess in us all. We all have an inner hot mess; it’s the part of you that is (or feels) depressed, manic, broke, chronically late, and/or like you’re simply not enough, no matter how hard you try. The book is full of hilarious and heartfelt essays (I co-wrote it with Miranda Berman, a hilarious TV writer who currently works on The Mindy Project and Mindy Kaling wrote the foreword), and really excellent, straightforward, doable recipes accompanied by beautiful photos (thanks to photo genius Frankie Frankeny). 

What’s the one dish you still struggle making? 

It sounds so lame but I 100% need a recipe to make chocolate chip cookies, or any cookie for that matter. I’m a great free-wheeling savory chef but baking requires more focus than I usually want to give it.

What advice would you give to others who are interested in launching a career in food media?

Be the you-est you you can be, in both your photo content, and your writing. Food is all about perspective–it tells a story. So work on bringing your food story out as much as possible.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only eat one Jewish food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

An onion bialy with scallion cream cheese. Presumably I’m by myself, so nobody else will have to deal with my onion breath, right?

FREE STUFF: Manischewitz S’mores for Passover

Manischewitz and Passover are pretty synonymous: after all, it’s hard to make matzah ball soup without the matzah meal. And this year Manischewitz is all about the kids with a new series of products: matzah pizza kits, s’mores kits and mini matzah kits.

But we know s’mores aren’t just for kids, so thanks to Manischiewtz, we are giving away an entire case of these fun s’mores kits! Enter below to win not one box but an entire CASE of these s’mores kits, and then throw a Passover  s’mores party for you and your friends! Or for some kids. No judgement either way.

Enter below and make sure to tell your friends! And make sure to check out Kveller’s giveaway for Manischewitz’s Matzah pizza kits giveaway.

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The Jewish Chef Behind NYC’s Best Ramen

Photo: Geoff Johnson/Netflix/Geoff Johnson/Netflix

Netflix’s original series “Chef’s Table” released its third season this past fall (yeah, yeah I am finally catching up TV shows) and I think it’s the best one yet. And one of my favorite episodes features a restaurant where I have actually eaten: Ivan Ramen, a small, Japanese ramen joint nearly at the end of the world in NYC’s lower east side. While you may have heard of Ivan Ramen, you may not know that Chef Ivan Orkin is actually a Jewish guy from Syosset Long Island.

Orkin actually first opened a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, where ramen is a much-beloved obsession. Earning acclaim there first, he then opened his restaurant in Manhattan. Then another. And then yet another. But how does a Jewish guy from Long Island become an acclaimed chef and ramen guru?

If you have a Netflix account make sure to watch it. (Also take a look at this profile from The New York Times).  Two of my other favorite episodes this season include Nancy Silverton, whose story makes you want to get in the kitchen and perfect your craft and Gaggan Anand, a chef whose story will make you think anything is possible.

If you want to learn more about Orkin’s ramen journey check out his memoir Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint.

Hankering for some ramen after reading this? I know, me too. Try making your own with this kosher version or get a little crazy with some ramen noodle latkes.

Easiest Hamantaschen Recipe, Ever

We know that hamantaschen can be tricky to master. The cookies explode, the dough is too crumbly, the list goes on. So if you don’t feel like going through the hassle of making dough from scratch, just go to the supermarket and pick up some prepared pie crust. Yes, that’s right – pie crust. Then use your favorite fillings like nutella, jam or even savory flavors like pesto and cheese. Watch me and my crazy kids make hamataschen or read below for the full instructions.

And if you do want to try making hamantaschen from scratch, try one of my favorite recipes for cookie butter and dark chocolate hamantaschen.



Kreplach Recipe: Jewish Dumplings You Can Make at Home

I have always loved kreplach but was too intimidated to try and make them from scratch on my own. Lucky for me (and you) one of our writers, cookbook author Ronnie Fein, has a kreplach expertise and was kind enough to show us, along with our fellow blogger Liz Rueven, how to do it on video.

Watch below for her tips and tricks, or see the full recipe below. You can also try this recipe from Joan Nathan.



Ronnie Fein’s Meat Kreplach Recipeyields 40-50 kreplach

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Bagels Have Gone Too Far

I am a born- and-bred New Yorker who loves a good, classic bagel and schmear. It’s practically a requirement to live in the New York area. I have been working on my own recipe for some time (stay tuned!) and I am no stranger to the rainbow bagel and other crazy counterparts that have been trendy the past two years. In fact, I first spotted rainbow bagels nearly three years ago in Hoboken, NJ near my daughter’s former preschool. And since then, indeed, rainbow bagels have taken over.

But it’s not just rainbow bagels. It’s Oreo bagels. And truffle bagels. And a whole list of wacky flavor combinations we compiled last year. And now, to add insult to injury, the sacred bagel has been defiled by Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. And I simply cannot remain silent about this gross injustice done unto this New Yorker’s favorite Sunday breakfast. Check out this video posted by The Food Network of the crazy flavors being churned out by The Bagel Nook in Freehold, NJ:

What America needs right now is a good simple sesame bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomatoes and red onion. No more, no less. Let’s make bagels great again.

But, you know, if you’re into the rainbow bagel thing, that’s cool too. Try making your own with my friend Whitney’s recipe for rainbow bagels with funfetti cream cheese.

Compost Cookie Hamantaschen Recipe

If you’ve never made compost cookies, but you love desserts that are a little salty and a little sweet, this cookie (and hamantaschen) are for you. Do a quick Google search for “compost cookie” and you will come up with dozens of recipes. But the original compost cookie was born out of the crazy genius dessert brain of Christina Tosi of Milk Bar, one of my personal baking heroes.  The recipe for her famous cookie (and cakes and crazy desserts) can be found in her cookbook, which I absolutely love and highly recommend if love baking projects.

I love classic hamanastchen dough filled simply with jam or Nutella. But I wanted to get a little crazy with the actual dough this year, which is where the compost part comes in. In Tosi’s famous cookies, she adds cornflakes, pretzels, potato chips and even coffee grinds. You know, like you add the coffee grinds to your compost? It’s sort of an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of cookie.

The cookies are complex, fun and absolutely delish. Get creative and crazy with your toppings, because after all, it’s Purim.

Compost Cookie Hamantaschen

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!

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