It’s autumn, and sure, we all love pumpkin. But there are also an array of other squash and seasonal veggies that are pretty exciting too, including the adorable acorn squash.
Growing up my dad would prepare acorn squash in a very simple way: cut in half and roasted with butter and maple syrup. Nothing bad about that.
But I have been searching for other ways to prepare the cute squash. Finally a few weeks ago I came across this recipe for Orzo and Cheese Baked in Acorn Squash and I thought: ok, I have to make this! Not only is it cheesy and easy, but making a stuffed dish during Sukkot was also Jewishly appropriate.
I didn’t have orzo, but I did have Israeli couscous, a favorite ingredient. I also wanted to get in a little extra vegetables in this dish, so I added some onion and pepper. Want to make this healthier? You could substitute whole wheat couscous, quinoa and even add some lentils.
2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
¾ cup water
¾ cup uncooked Israeli couscous
¾ cup water
Salt and pepper
½ onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
¼ cup milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice off a piece from each half of acorn squash so they will lie flat in the pan when baking later.
Place squash open side down in a baking pan. Add 3/4 cup water to pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and discard water. Turn squash open side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook another 15 minutes until tender.
Bring the ¾ cup of water to a boil. Add couscous and salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
In a large sauté pan add a few tbsp olive oil. Cook onions and pepper for 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until soft and translucent, another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl. Add cooked couscous, cheddar cheese, milk and 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.
Remove squash from oven. Spoon couscous cheese filling into each squash. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake until top begins to brown, around 25 minutes.
It’s no great secret that I hate pareve desserts. Or perhaps I should more accurately say: I hate bad pareve desserts. Some might even say I have made it my mission in life to dream up pareve desserts that don’t suck. And this brownie recipe is one of those.
While I generally prefer boxed brownie mixes (gasp!), this brownie recipe is nearly a match. But if you would rather use a boxed mix in this recipe, you can and should. No one will know you didn’t whip it up from scratch. If you do make it from scratch, you will be surprised how easy this recipe is to throw together, even at the very last minute.
I love enjoying these brownies with a relaxing cup of tea after dinner, with a glass of milk as an indulgent afternoon treat and they are especially delicious if you store them in the fridge so they are cool and fudgy. Did I mention these brownies are great when made nondairy? Your guests won’t even know they are pareve.
This recipe is based on Martha Stewart’s recipe for Fudgy Chocolate Brownies.
1/2 cup margarine or butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
4 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup smashed graham cracker crumbs
thick sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8x8 square with parchment paper or tin foil. Grease the pan with cooking spray.
Place butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second increments, stirring well in between, until butter and chocolate is completely melted and consistency is smooth and shiny. Allow to cool slightly.
Stir sugar into cooled chocolate mixture. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla.
Whisk together flour, salt and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to wet mixture.
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Spoon large dots of marshmallow fluff on top of batter and sprinkle with half the graham crack crumbs.
Pour remaining batter on top. Sprinkle remaining graham cracker crumbs on top and a light sprinkle of thick sea salt if desired.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing into squares.
Next to pumpkin, apple cider might be one of my favorite flavors of fall. I like it hot and spicy, spiked with bourbon or just plain out of the container on a cool and sunny autumn day.
But I also love cooking with it. For the past few years I have been making a fall favorite apple cider beef stew which is perfect for Sunday supper or Shabbat dinner. But I am always looking for savory recipes to use this beloved ingredient.
This past week I came across this recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots made with orange juice and herbs among other flavors. I thought, if you could roast root vegetables with orange juice, why not apple cider?
I tested it out, and it was a hit. This is a perfect side dish for any kind of dinner this time of year.
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place your cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.
With the holidays quickly approaching, we find ourselves yet again in the kitchen preparing daily feasts for our families and friends. Whether we are cooking traditional foods or new recipes, we sometimes get lost in the idea that the more complicated the recipe, the tastier and more impressive it is. In my own cooking, I find that it’s usually the simpler recipes using fresh and seasonal produce are the most delicious and healthier to boot. Let’s put the healthy back into the new year and cook fresh, seasonal foods and this butternut squash gnocchi is healthful and delicious.
Aviva Kanoff’s new cookbook “Gluten Free Around the World” comes out November 1, 2014.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large egg
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more for hands and work surface
3 Tbsp butter
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
sea salt to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Boil butternut squash in 4 cups water until soft, then strain. Mash or puree in a food processor.
Set a large pot of water to boil. In a medium-sized bowl, combine butternut squash, egg and salt. Add flour in 3-4 separate additions, stirring to combine after each addition. Continue adding flour until dough is firm enough to handle, but still somewhat sticky.
With floured hands, pinch off about a quarter of the dough. Roll between palms and on floured work surface to make a 1-inch thick rope. Cut rope into bite-sized pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.
Drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan. Add sage leaves and cook, swirling frequently, until butter browns. Set aside.
Drain gnocchi on paper towels, then add to brown butter and toss. Sprinkle with sea salt and Parmesan cheese if desired.
We made it through the first set of the holidays. Congrats to all of us. Of course we look forward to and enjoy the holidays with out families, but they are also exhausting.
And what’s next? Another holiday of course. It’s time for Sukkot.
By the time it’s Sukkot I am ready for lighter meals, which is why a delicious soup with a salad, cheese and crackers is my ideal menu. It’s satisfying, but a little lightened up after the past few weeks of meal-laden celebrating.
Sukkot also coincides with the fall, and my obsession for all things pumpkin. Cakes and pies, grilled and roasted: you name it I have done it or will be doing it. This soup is amazing because when you are roasting the pumpkin and red pepper with the sage you entire house will smell like the warming flavors of fall.
Note: I prefer to roast the red peppers the day before making the soup. The skin comes off more easily with plenty of time for cooling.
2 sugar pumpkins
3 red peppers
1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
20 sage leaves
2 medium yukon potato, cubed
½ cup olive oil plus olive oil for brushing the pumpkin
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 cups water
1 tsp of maple syrup
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried sage
leftover challah, cut into cubes
Split the pumpkins in half, rub inside with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the maple syrup. Place 16 sage leaves inside and roast on a baking sheet at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until inside of pumpkin is tender.
When there is a half an hour left, place the whole red peppers in the oven. Peppers should roast until the skin is crisp and a little black.
Once the pumpkin is out of the oven, discard the sage. Place the roasted red peppers in a paper bag. After the peppers have cooled, peel the skin, remove seeds and cut into pieces.
Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin using a large spoon. Discard the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the
Add potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper, the pumpkin flesh, and the remaining sage leaves. Sauté all veggies for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Add the liquid and bring to a boil. Once boiled turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can puree in batches in a food processor or regular blender.
Spread the challah cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Toss with dried sage and minced garlic.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool.
Serve soup with challah croutons and sage as garnish if desired.
Whereas Rosh Hashanah is my favorite Jewish holiday of the year, Yom Kippur is one of my least favorite, only second to Passover when my beloved carbs are rudely snatched away from me for an entire week. Ah, the things we do for our heritage.
Not eating for 25 hours is hard. It sucks. And I am not good at it, despite the meaningful role I believe it occupies in observing such an important, reflective holiday.
But the one thing that makes it better? Breaking the fast of course. So get creative with your break-the-fast menu and try some new dishes this year. Here are some menu suggestions to make that fast a little easier.
Dips and Salads
Everyone loves pumpkin these days, eh? Every cafe carries their own version of a pumpkin latte and pumpkin-themed candies overflow on supermarket shelves this time of year. ‘Tis truly the season of pumpkin, and I am not really complaining.
I love finding news ways to cook and bake with pumpkin including white pumpkin cheddar ale soup, pumpkin pizza and pumpkin corn ricotta enchiladas, which is a perfect dish this time of year when pumpkin is first coming into season and fresh corn is still in abundance at local farmers markets. Some other fun pumpkin recipes to try? Pumpkin Flan, pumpkin challah and of course some classic pumpkin bread.
As with many recipes I dream up, I was merely staring in my fridge when a leftover can of pumpkin puree sparked the idea: pumpkin babka!
Well, I whipped up a batch of babka dough, impatiently let it rise, and filled it with pumpkin puree, brown sugar and cinnamon. After 35 minutes of baking, my apartment smelled like a perfect piece of autumn heaven, and a new pumpkin recipe was born.
This babka is perfect to serve at your Yom Kippur break-fast, brunch gatherings or just with a cup of coffee for breakfast. Because you can use canned pumpkin, you can make this recipe year-round, so you can enjoy a little slice of pumpkin spice even when pumpkins aren’t in season.
For the dough:
4 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup lukewarm water
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
½ cup milk or almond milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
For the filling:
1 ½ cup canned pumpkin or pureed fresh pumpkin
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ Tbsp cinnamon
For the syrup:
2/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 whole cinnamon stick
Place yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Add lukewarm water and set aside until foamy, around 5-10 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix together flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and allspice. In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter (or margarine) and milk (or almond milk).
Put mixer on low and begin adding the water yeast mixture, then the butter-milk mixture. Add the eggs one at a time.
When the dough begins to come together, after about 3-5 minutes, raise the speed to high and mix for another 5-10 minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow to rise until it has doubled, about 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut dough into three equal parts. Roll out dough until it is a rectangular-like shape. Spread with ½ cup of pumpkin, ¼ cup brown sugar and ½ Tbsp cinnamon. Working from the longest side, roll up dough using quick fingers, like you would in order to make cinnamon rolls.
Once the dough is a long log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed. Secure the ends on one side, and twist both the pieces. Pinch and secure at the other end.
Repeat with two additional babkas. Place in a greased loaf pan.
Bake for 35 minutes.
While the babka is baking, combine 2/3 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 whole cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and swirl around to ensure all the sugar is dissolved.
About 20-25 minutes into baking, spoon about half the syrup onto the baking babkas.
When you take the babkas out of the oven after they have baked completely, immediately brush extra syrup on top of all three babkas. You may have syrup leftover.
Daily life can be so hectic, between keeping up with Netflix and waiting in line for your daily Pumpkin Spice Latte, so having a day dedicated to reflection and atonement (in between naps and binge watching The Food Network) is a meaningful change of pace. And of course, at the end of the day of fasting, there’s the food.
Our break fast spread was as traditional as they come. Kugels, coffee cake, an assortment of rarely-touched pre-made Italian cookies from the local Jewish supermarket, and the pièce de résistance, the bagel spread. When pangs of hunger set in during the final hours, this is what I focused on. Dozens of bagels, lox, red onions, tomatoes, capers, and an assortment of cream cheeses from chive to strawberry. While others were vying for an end piece of coffee cake, I went straight for the good stuff. Half of an everything bagel, never scooped, schmeared with plain cream cheese, lots of lox, red onions and capers. Always a delicious meal, but especially after a day of fasting.
This year, I decided to take all my favorite bagel toppers and put them in a quiche. I love quiche, but hadn’t made one since culinary school. The salty capers and smoked salmon paired with creamy tart goat cheese and sweet red onions is pretty magical. I highly recommend the homemade crust; the flakiness is worth the extra effort. The best part is (okay, besides the eating part) that you can easily make this ahead of time and serve at your break fast.
For the crust:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chilled in the freezer and diced
2-4 Tbsp ice water
For the quiche filling:
½ small red onion, cut into thin slivers
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp capers
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
4 ounces smoked salmon, diced
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
To make dough, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Then add in butter and mix with hands until you have a coarse, crumbly mixture. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor.) Add in water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Be careful not to over mix. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll out dough on a lightly flowered surface into a 12-inch circle. Place it in a tart pan and press down to fit in the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line dough with parchment paper and fill 2/3 of the way with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is set, about 12-15 minutes.
Carefully remove paper and bake until golden brown, an additional 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large sauté pan, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Sauté red onions with a pinch of salt until the start to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Then add capers and sauté for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, black pepper and nutmeg. Once crust is cooled, sprinkle half of the onion mixture, goat cheese and smoked salmon on the bottom of the crust. Pour over egg mixture and dollop with remaining ingredients. Bake until quiche is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.
I think everyone has their favorite holiday—you know, the holiday that gets you giddy and excited. And my favorite Jewish holiday is upon us: Rosh Hashanah.
My family didn’t always celebrate all the Jewish holidays growing up, but we always gathered at my grandmother’s house for Rosh Hashanah. The smell of chicken soup and the site of a beautifully set table always fills me with warmth.
Aside from the family memories, I enjoy Rosh Hashanah because I love the idea of starting new: taking a breath, resetting and focusing for the coming year. I wouldn’t go so far to say I make resolutions each year, but I do try to set goals that are realistic and will better myself.
As my daughter gets older (she is now a little over 2 years old) it’s not so easy to pull a fast one on her. I need to curtail my cussing, for fear of scornful looks from her preschool teacher; I need to be diligent about things like bedtime and routine; and I have come to realize that when it comes to cooking and eating, I need to practice what I preach. She wants to do everything that mommy does, and that includes what mommy is eating.
How can I eat junk food or less-than-healthful foods around her, if I don’t want her to mimic that behavior? Well, I can’t. And I shouldn’t, not for her or myself either. As a result of this realization, one of my goals for the coming year is to make sure that I am modeling good eating behavior for my daughter. If I wouldn’t let her eat it, well then I shouldn’t eat it either.
One of the things I have been doing quite regularly is bringing her to pick-your-own farms in New Jersey so we can pick fresh fruit and vegetables together. We both love this activity, and I have seen how it has impacted both of us: I spend more time cooking vegetables, and she absolutely loves eating fresh fruit right from the source. She has even been known to take a bite out of a whole pepper or eggplant.
The other thing we have done together is: cook. I have a step stool in my kitchen, which she has firmly claimed as her own, and she stands with me and serves as my “helper.” Sometimes it’s frustrating, most of the time it’s messy, but I can see how much she enjoys actively taking part in this process. And how can I not schep nachas that she wants to be just like me?
So the hardest part? Resisting the urge to order greasy take-out after a long day, and instead, make a colorful salad or roast some vegetables. Here’s to a better, sweeter and healthier year for us all.
Holiday gatherings are always hectic, but Rosh Hashanah seems especially so. It’s easy to get stressed out with preparations, the start of the school year and the marathon of holidays that continue popping up for the rest of the month.
To prevent what my mother calls “the crazies,” she serves this festive cocktail as family and friends arrive for our holiday meal. Nontraditional? Yes. Effective? YES. This Jew Year’s Eve Punch is one of her favorite tricks to ensure a smooth and joyful beginning to the New Year.
Perfect for the High Holiday celebrations from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot this delicious punch incorporates the sweet flavors of apple and honey into an easy-to-make and easy-to-love drink. You can make this with or without alcohol (we often mix two versions to make sure our guests have a non-alcoholic option) and it is always a hit. Serve your Jew Year’s Eve Punch in a large punch bowl or in individual glasses, garnished with a thinly sliced apple round and honey “swizzle stick” like these.
1 quart Apple Cider
1 quart Ginger Ale
2 cups Honey Bourbon
1-2 granny smith apples, cut into slices
Honey sticks (optional)
Chill apple cider, ginger ale and bourbon if using.
Pour apple cider, ginger ale and bourbon into large pitcher or punch bowl and add ice and apple slices.
Garnish individual glasses with an apple slice and honey stick if desired.