Monthly Archives: April 2012

Break for Baby

Today is going to be my last post for the next month while I take some time to relish the spring weather, try out some new recipes, and oh yeah, maybe give birth to my first child.

When I first announced I was pregnant I got inundated with a lot of questions about what I was eating, and I will freely admit, being a pregnant “foodie” and blogger has certainly been an adventure all by itself. The first trimester was rough – all I wanted to eat was plain spaghetti with butter and parmesan cheese. My poor husband would come home each night, asking hopefully: “What’s for dinner?!” I would sheepishly reply, “Um, spaghetti?”

Eventually my cravings changed and we were able to resume a more normal eating schedule. And while many women have lots of crazy cravings during their pregnancy, some people have found my own particular culinary leanings pretty amusing. I have never been a grapefruit lover, but found myself eating almost an entire grapefruit daily for weeks on end. I’ve gone through 4 or 5 containers of berries in a week by myself. And I can often be found sitting on my couch noshing on an entire bag of roasted Kale. Not potato chips, or even pretzels – roasted kale.

And while I haven’t been much of a fan of meat during the pregnancy, I have single handedly consumed entire gallons of milk within the span of a week. And perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit I have polished off a box of cereal within a span of a few days. I comfort myself assuming it is all for the sake of a healthy baby.

From what everyone has told me, we are about to embark upon a whole new adventure with our first child, and I am not sure what role food will or won’t play, but I certainly look forward to seeing what lies in store.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the food musings of Jessica (and others) who will be taking over for me in the next month, and I look forward to “seeing you” soon.

Happy eating everyone!

Posted on April 30, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Perfect Pareve Desserts All Year

Finding a good pareve dessert, one that “doesn’t even taste pareve” is an endless crusade for so many Jewish baked-good lovers. I approach pareve desserts the same way I approach Passover recipes: change as little as possible for the best results! If a recipe requires too much tampering, its probably not worth it to make a pareve version.

I have a few go-to pareve dessert recipes you can try out all year depending on if you love chocolate, fruit or not baking at all!

Perfect for Autumn: Spiced Sweet Potato Cake. The sweet potatoes in this cake make it so moist you would never know that its totally dairy free. While this particular recipe calls for a Brown Sugar Icing, this cake is tasty enough to stand by itself. You can also turn this cake into cupcakes and finish it off with pareve cream cheese frosting.

Perfect for Winter/All Year: Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake Recipe. A fellow baker friend and I swear by this classic chocolate cake recipe, and all you need to do to make it pareve is replace the milk with almond milk or coconut milk. My one important tip to make this cake is that you MUST use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. This is my secret weapon for all pareve chocolate desserts. I like to make this chocolate cake in a bundt pan and merely dust with powdered sugar and garnish with berries to serve.

Perfect for Spring and Summer/All Year: Fruit Tarts! This Plum Tart recipe has the moist, flavorful crust you will ever find. You can definitely make it with peaches or plums during their peak over the summer, though you can really use this dough to make any kind of fruit tart throughout the year. How to make it pareve? Just replace the butter with pareve margarine and you are good to go!

Perfect for Summer: Fruit Kebabs! This is a dessert idea for the host or hostess who can’t be bothered with baking at all but still wants to satisfy their guests. You can choose any combination of fruits you like, include marshmallows or other candies or drizzle the whole lot in melted chocolate. Serve with sorbet or pareve ice cream and you are ready to go.

Posted on April 27, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Shabbat Recipe Round-Up

Spring has sprung, but it seems that some colder, wet weather has also returned for a bit. Perhaps its time for a ‘Spring Comfort Food’ themed Shabbat!?

I love experimenting with new flavors of challah which is why this Wild Blueberry and Agave Challah from The Challah Blog caught my eye. You can also substitute dried cherries or cranberries in place of the blueberries or turn the leftovers into a delicious french toast breakfast for Sunday morning.

‘Tis the season of the Spring pea, and so the perfect time to make a comforting bowl of Green Pea Soup with Tarragon and Pea Sprouts. Serving with meat? Just leave off the yogurt garnish.

Have you been looking for a great vegetarian main dish to serve for lunch or for a dairy meal? I love this springtime Vegetable Pot Pie, packed with some great springtime veggies and hearty enough to please the vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.

Sometimes I shy away from recipes that use too many ingredients, but I think this recipe for Gingery Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce may well be worth the work with its rich flavors and silky dipping sauce.

Peas and fresh greens are in season but so are asparagus! Try dressing up the veggie with this Asparagus with Roasted Garlic Aioli.

What comforting meal would be complete without a sweet ending!? Try these Ganache Filled Pecan cookies from Couldn’t Be Pareve this Shabbat!

Happy cooking and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted on April 26, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Best Sunday Pancakes

Yield:
One dozen small-medium pancakes


best sunday pancakesI love brunch on the weekends, but at a certain point living in New York City I became frustrated waiting on long lines for mediocre, overpriced food. What’s a breakfast-loving gal to do? Well, make her own of course! I’ve become an expert egg poacher, hashbrown  maker and pancake artist.

Here are some pancake variations to keep your Sundays morning interesting as well as my favorite, healthful pancake recipe that uses – that’s right – Greek yogurt to make super fluffy pancakes that almost feel healthy to eat. We even serve ours with agave syrup instead of maple syrup a lot of the time.

Happy brunching!

Fun Pancake Add-Ins

–One cup fresh raspberries plus ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

–1/3 cup peanut butter chips, 1/3 cup chocolate chips plus ½ cup sliced bananas

–One cup shredded coconut plus 2 Tablespoons pineapple juice

–1 cup chocolate chips, 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder plus one extra Tablespoon of milk

Shannon's Favorite Pancakes

Posted on April 24, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Spring Clean Your Kitchen!

It’s kind of cool that Passover naturally comes at a time when people are taking part in Spring cleaning rituals – Jews have their own, special form of Spring cleaning by ridding the house of crumbs and bread products while scouring the kitchen and ridding the fridge and freezer of unnecessary items.

But if you don’t take Passover as an opportunity to raid your fridge and break out the carpet cleaner, perhaps its time for a proper spring cleaning of your kitchen.

I’ve put together a list of my favorite tips and ideas – but send us yours too!

Re-stock your pantry!

If you did just clear out for the Passover holiday, then now is a great time to go out shopping to replace some of your pantry staples. I always like to have pasta, rice, different kinds of canned beans, tuna fish, crackers, jarred olives and pretzels on hand, among other things. Figure out which items can be useful to whip together weeknight meals in a pinch, or throw together a last-minute entertainment spread, and stock up now so you’re always prepared.

Replace your sponges and other cleaning supplies

To me there is nothing dirtier or germ-ier than kitchen sponges, and so I like to make sure to periodically toss them and start over with brand new ones. Kitchen and bathroom sponges are actually some of the most germ-infected items you will come across in your daily life.

Clean out the fridge!

Cleaning out the fridge is a task neither my husband or I enjoy, but doing this at least once a month will keep things fresher and actually prove less work in the long run. Make sure to look over expiration dates, and open all those bottles of jam and others condiments on the door to make sure nothing has turned into a science experiment. This is also a good opportunity to ditch your box of Baking Soda and grab yourself a new one. Martha has some additional great tips for cleaning out the fridge.

Give a thorough cleaning to sink, garbage disposal and dishwasher

Its easy to assume that if you spray down your sink, everything is clean. But to really do a proper cleaning you’ll probably have to go a little deeper when it comes to your sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave and oven. Check out some step-by-step tips to ensure your appliances and sink are truly clean.

Still looking for more? Check out some other helpful cleaning tips for your kitchen from SheKnows.

 

Posted on April 20, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Shabbat Recipe Round-up

This Shabbat feels like the first real Shabbat of Spring, not to mention, our chance to relish some challah and other chametz-related treats.

A new variety of vegetables is starting to crop up at the supermarkets and farmers markets, so time to welcome them onto your dinner menu! To start your meal try this Fennel Zucchini Soup with Warm Tomato Relish.

I am always looking for easy chicken recipes, and this Smoked Paprika Chicken from The Shiksa in the Kitchen is a tasty and fast recipe to try for Shabbat or for a weekday dinner.

If you are like me, then you’re probably still in need of a pasta fix after Passover. Try this Penne with Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes as a side dish, or if you want to have an all-in-one dish, add some grilled chicken on top of the pasta to serve as your main entree. Of course, leave off the Parmesan cheese.

As I have written before, I cannot get enough kale these days, so what a great way to serve up this hearty and healthful green – Tuscan Kale Caesar Slaw! Like the pasta above, if you’re serving with a meat meal just leave off the cheese.

I am not a big fan of pareve or vegan desserts, but when I saw this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Cream I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a great recipe, and can you believe it – pareve whipped cream!?! If you haven’t tried baking with coconut milk before, you may soon fall in love with this versatile ingredient after making these cupcakes.

Shabbat Shalom, happy Spring and happy cooking!

http://food52.com/recipes/7535_mexican_hot_chocolate_cupcakes_with_whipped_cream_vegan

Posted on April 19, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Ramp into Spring!

Spring has officially sprung, and with it the short window when ramps are in season. What is a ramp you ask? Ramps are a wild spring onion with a taste similar to garlic. They are only in season for a few weeks, typically in late April to early June. You can likely find them at your local farmer’s market, but don’t mistake them for scallions which they sort of resemble.

So what do you do with them? How about a simple Spaghetti with Ramps or this White Pizza with Ramps.

Because the window to enjoy ramps is so short, a great way enjoy the unique taste of ramps past June is to whip up some Compound Ramp Butter which you can add to a baked potato, mix into some pasta with parmesan cheese or use it to make “ramp bread” instead of garlic bread.

Happy experimenting and let us know if you decide to try something new with ramps this Spring.

Posted on April 16, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

L’Shana Habah…at a Restaurant?!

This week Jon Stewart called for the Jews to “take it up a notch” since our traditions couldn’t possibly compete with a fun filled Easter basket full of treats, and well, he’s not wrong. But in terms of Jewish cuisine, chefs around the country are definitely stepping up their game when it comes to Seder menus and Passover offerings.

My good friend in New Orleans recently sent me the Passover menu at Domenica that she got to experience, and wow was I blown away looking it over! Homemade matzah, Matzah Ball Soup with Duck and Escarole, and Pomegranate Lamb Shank, just to name a few of the dishes featured at the meal.

Tons of restaurants, both kosher and non, feature their own unique takes on the traditional Passover seder. For example in NYC Chef Julian Medina of Yerba Buena and Toloache features a Passover seder menu with a Mexican twist, including a spicy take on Matzah Ball Soup, Tacos de brisket in a matzah tortilla and matzah brei tres leches for dessert.

And Kutschers Tribeca (my favorite Jewish food joint) features high-end, yet traditional Jewish fare during the week of Passover.

The Jew and the Carrot has a more complete listing of Gourmet Restaurant Seders in NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and Los Angeles, and with a few days left of Passover, you might still be able to catch one!

Reviewing these menus, I ask myself: is the fuss of cleaning, cooking, planning and prepping worth it when top notch chefs are taking on the Passover challenge?

For now I probably will continue to plan my Seder menu two months in advance, but I love getting inspired from these chefs’ innovative versions of our traditional holiday fare.

Posted on April 12, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

What’s In The Beef?

Like so many kosher cooks around the country, you have probably recently wondered if there is pink slime, the ammonia-treated-meat-scrap-mixture found in most ground beef, in kosher meat. Well I have good news and I have bad news. The good news: according to the Orthodox Union, there is no pink slime in any product they have certified. The bad news? There’s almost certainly other stuff – worse stuff – in your kosher burger.

In a food animal’s life, the rules of Kashrut don’t kick in until slaughtering time. That means that until reaching the shohet’s knife, there is no difference between the cow in a Glatt Kosher OU burger and the cow in a McDonald’s Big Mac. (In fact, sometimes they are the exact same cow, as Rabbi Mandel at the OU told me – kosher meat producers routinely sell hindquarters to non-kosher processors.) A kosher label, therefore, doesn’t tell you anything about what happened to the cow while it was alive, including whether it was fed antibiotics and/or pumped with growth hormones. But even though this information is not in your kosher seal, it has strong implications for what’s in your food.

By adding antibiotics to the feed of every single animal on a factory farm, companies are able to inoculate animals living in extreme crowding and filth from infectious diseases that would otherwise wipe out entire herds. (Picture the Black Plague in Europe, only it’s e. coli on a feedlot.) Further, through the use of growth hormones, cows can reach unnaturally large sizes in very short periods of time. When you eat a burger – even a kosher one – you are ingesting those hormones and antibiotics (not to mention more highly evolved versions of the bacteria the antibiotics were meant to kill).

Unlike pink slime, which has no known negative health effects, the introduction of massive amounts of antibiotics and hormones into our food supply is extremely dangerous. Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to healthy farm animals in doses high enough to protect the animals from most infectious diseases but low enough to allow for the survival and then breeding of “superbugs.” According to the World Health Organization, we are nearing a “post-antibiotic era” in which these highly evolved microorganisms are completely resistant to our antibiotics. (Though with any luck, a recent court ruling ordering the FDA to investigate the effects of these practices may end them.) The use of hormones is no safer. After finding evidence linking hormone use to cancer, Europe banned the practice in 1989, but it is still an industry norm in the U.S. These problems are not just limited to beef: recent studies found that arsenic, anti-depressants, and painkillers are being fed to chickens.

But don’t worry. I am not about to tell you to become a vegetarian. Hazon, a Jewish organization dedicated to sustainability, has put together a great list of kosher meat producers that raise animals on natural diets without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Try it once and you’ll be hooked – not only is the meat healthier for you and more ethically and naturally-raised, it tastes better too.

Posted on April 11, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Judaism, Food Justice & Agriculture

Passover is a holiday about food, and about the story of the Jewish people. But what about the story of the Jewish people’s food? We’ve written before about how Passover food can be exorbitantly expensive, and about people eating lots of processed not-so-good-for-you food on this holiday of our redemption. If this is making you think more carefully about where your food comes from–good! We have just the class for you!

The Jewish Farm School and Hebrew College are partnering to offer a week-long, intensive course exploring the intersection of Judaism, agriculture and contemporary food justice.

In this week-long, service learning experience, participants ages 18-25 will explore the relationship between Judaism and contemporary food justice. This unique seminar will include farm work, text study and meetings with activists, community leaders, and professionals. On the farm, and through volunteer service work, students will gain hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture techniques such as planting, harvesting and soil building. In the bet midrash (study hall) at Hebrew College, students will explore a variety of Jewish texts relating to contemporary environmental and food justice issues such as food security, worker rights, and land stewardship.

When: Sunday, June 3 — Sunday, June 10, 2012
Where: Sustainable farms in the Greater Boston Area and Hebrew College, Newton, MA
Who: Students and professionals, ages 18-25; others will be considered.
How: Tuition is $1000 + transportation; generous fellowships are available.
*College credit available for interested participants*
To apply click here.
To find out more about Fellowships available contact Rabbi Or Rose, 617-559-8636
To find out more about this program visit jewishfarmschool.org or contact Rabbi Jacob Fine
Application Due: May 1st, 2012

Posted on April 10, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy