Monthly Archives: June 2012

Red, White & Blue (pareve) Desserts

The Fourth of July is just a few days away and you’re wondering – what kind of dessert can I make for the barbecue I have to attend!?

The most obvious red, white ‘n blue dessert is of course fresh whipped cream with berries. But what to whip up for a pareve dessert option?

Looking to make something super simple – try making a Berry and Meringue Trifle using store-bought meringue cookies, blueberries and raspberries or strawberies. In a trifle dish alternate layers of white meringue cookies and the berries so it creates a colorful and patriotic dessert that looks something like this.

Willing to put in a little more work?

Cobbler is a perfect summer dish, and Dairy Free Cooking has a Red White and Blue cobbler recipe. This would be great served with sorbet or soy ice cream on the side.

I love these Pretzel Sparklers from Martha Stewart. What a fun activity to make with your kids for festive decoration or a Fourth of July snack.

By far the most impressive red white and blue dessert recipe I have seen is for these striped patriotic cupcakes by using food coloring and dividing the batter into three batches. As the instructions lay out, you can use ANY white cake recipe you want, so its not a problem to use your own favorite pareve white cake recipe, or just make your life easy and buy a Duncan Hines cake mix!

If you need a pareve frosting recipe to go with these cupcakes I would recommend Seven  Minute Frosting.

Another simple idea for a pareve patriotic treat is to make decorated sugar cookies. Whip up a batch of your favorite sugar cookie recipe and bake into star shapes. Once they have cooled, melt 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Dip half the cookies in the chocolate and pour some patriotic sprinkles like these from Wilton on top. Let cool and harden on parchment paper for 1-2 hours or until completely dry.

 

 

 

 

Posted on June 29, 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

Heat wave number two has arrived and it’s starting to make me worried. Will I ever want to turn on my oven again? Will I ever want to serve something other than cold soup, raw vegetables, fruit, and ice cream?

Who am I kidding? That menu doesn’t have me worried in the least! I am worried about the environment, climate change, etc., but it’s not so bad to live in a world where vegetables are crisp, refreshing, and satiating. A girl can dream.

Here’s a list of the things I’m making or wish I was making this Shabbat.

I’m always playing with challah–I try to make a different kind every week. But sometimes I like to stray a bit from the norm and make a bread that isn’t actually challah, but still allows me and my guests to say hamotzi. So if I were you and you were feeling adventurous this week I would make this Sour Cherry Focaccia. It speaks for itself

Fig Taleggio Pizza is sweet and pungent and bitter all at once. It’s festive and light.

Since we’ve entered the full swing of CSA season and local crop availability is hitting its peak, my box was crazy heavy this week and snuggled in with the romaine and the chard was kohlrabi. A funky looking vegetable, it’s a great base for a slaw or home fries or any number of other recipes.

Another wonderful light side or main dish is this radish cous cous. You can easily substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock if you want to make it pareve. I would also recommend my favorite radish for this dish

This blueberry boy bait (I don’t know what boy bait is, but it looks like something I would want to eat a whole pan of) PLUS roasted peaches and lavender ice cream, which is sweetened with honey! If you make these, can I come over for dessert?

Posted on June 28, 2012

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Girl Scouts Cookies Go Candy!?

I almost never buy candy. Never. But earlier this week I saw a commercial for Nestlé Crunch limited-edition Girl Scout Cookie flavored candy bars and knew I had to go out and try them right away.

The candy bars are being sold June through September in three flavors based on classic Girl Scout cookies: Thin Mints, Caramel Coconut and Peanut Butter Crème.

The Samoa flavor cookie is my favorite, but the Caramel Coconut candy bar was actually a disappointment! Fear not – the other two flavors were far more impressive and worth the splurge, especially the Thin Mint flavor.

So all this talk and thinking about Girl Scout Cookies got me thinking…what else can you do with Girl Scout Cookies!?

Hardly the first to consider this, I found a number of fantastic recipes using leftover Girl Scout Cookies, that is, if you actually have any leftover! My favorites from this list on Taste of Home are the Peppermint Mint Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cookie Parfait.

And if you are a Samoa cookie lover like me, you can check out this list of 5 Samoa Girl Cookie Cupcakes – such creative ideas to inspire you, or at least break those cookies out of the freezer.

If you still haven’t had your fill of Girl Scout cookie-related baked goods, check out Cupcake Wars on the Food Network on July 8th when four bakers compete for their cupcakes to be featured at the 100th birthday bash for the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Have a good recipe using Girl Scout cookies – send it our way!

 

Posted on June 28, 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

Arugula Hazelnut Pesto

Prep:
10 minutes


img_0795Summer means a lot of things when it comes to food–berries and cucumbers and tomatoes, to name a few! It’s also a time when herbs are plentiful–almost too plentiful to keep up with. There’s one sure way to tackle this problem: pesto. You can use pesto for so many different wonderful things–pasta (of course), pizza sauce, dip, salad dressing. And you can make vats of pesto and freeze it in usable portions for later (just stop before you add any dairy).

But what if I told you pesto didn’t have to be herb based? While traditional pesto is a combination of basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil, the word is derived from an Italian verb meaning to pound or crush and can really involve any kind of vegetation. So here I’m introducing Arugula Hazelnut pesto. It’s full of flavor and bite, but mellowed out with the subtle sweetness of the hazelnut. If you don’t want quite so much arugula taste, throw in some parsley to balance the flavor a little more.

Arugula Hazelnut Pesto

Ingredients

3 cups arugula

1 cup parsley (optional)

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool.

Add the arugula and parsley (if using) to a blender or food processor. Pulse for 5 seconds.

Add the garlic, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper.

Gradually drizzle in the olive oil while the blender or food processor is running. Process until smooth.

Taste to adjust seasoning and consistency. If it's too thick, add more oil.

Posted on June 28, 2012

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Fit to Eat

There has been a lot of talk about kashrut lately. And while some of it has been related to foods actually being certified kosher, a lot of it is simply about whether food is or isn’t fit for consumption.

There’s still a lot of talk lingering from the big news that New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, ever on an anti-obesity crusade, wants to ban supersized soft drinks in the city, meaning drinks that are more than 16 ounces. One of the key arguments–beyond the health implications of these drinks–is that it’s really hard to tell just how much you are consuming and that’s completely intentional. (I recommend the accompanying quiz to prove it.) In other words, New York’s near future may involve a world in which soft drinks are no longer “kosher.”

On Monday, fish markets and grocery stores were selling something new (sort of). For the first time since the March 2011 tsunami that turned into a nuclear disaster, fish caught in the region were available for purchase–in this case octopus and a type of snail, so not kosher, strictly speaking. But, after extensive testing, these fish were determined free of radiation and thus fit for consumption. Other fish, of the more kosher variety, are expected to be available soon, but there are still concerns about radiation.

And, of course, there was the big fuss last week over Hebrew National Hot Dogs, which are actually labeled kosher, but, apparently, are not. As it turns out, ConAgra employees who process the meat have been complaining that the meat involved doesn’t actually meet kosher standards. Now Hebrew National’s new “higher authority” is a federal court in Minnesota where the company is being tried for misleading customers and misrepresenting their product. So even food that we think is fit to eat, might not be kosher.

Posted on June 26, 2012

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Babka Bread Pudding


Bread pudding is one of my absolute favorite desserts – its easy to make and is one of those great dishes you can whip up with all that leftover bread hanging out in your freezer. I have fond memories of my mother making batches of bread pudding with the “ends” of the bread that my brother and I would never eat.

Now as an adult, I love experimenting with different kinds of breads in my bread pudding, and it should come as no surprise that my favorite kind of bread to use for bread pudding is challah.  Challah already has good flavor and soaks up the milk, eggs and sugar really well, just like french toast! I’ve also had amazing croissant bread pudding that was surprisingly light while still being decadent and the most delicious bread pudding I’ve ever had is the white chocolate biscuit bread pudding at Cafe Adelaide in New Orleans.

When I saw Babka bread pudding on the menu at Kutscher’s Tribeca in NYC I knew I had to try to make my own version. Babka is already dense and sweet, so it provides the perfect backdrop for a rich, pareve Shabbat-perfect dessert.

I suggest using a chocolate babka, but of course you could use a cinnamon babka as well, even if Seinfeld might disagree.

Babka Bread Pudding

Ingredients

1 store-bought chocolate babka

3 cups coconut or almond milk

1/4 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

 

 

Directions

Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish using cooking spray or vegetable oil.

Cut the babka into half inch cubes and place into baking dish.

Combine coconut or almond milk, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs together. Add eggs to milk mixture.

Pour liquid over babka cubes and let soak in for an hour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Serve with pareve ice cream and fresh berries.

Posted on June 25, 2012

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Watermelon Jicama Salad

Prep:
10 minutes

Yield:
6 servings


Wednesday was officially the first day of summer 2012. Earlier this week I went to a farmers’ market for work, where a chef was giving a cooking demonstration to residents of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. She taught them how to make a cold spaghetti dish with tomatoes, capers, and olives and she introduced them to a new food: jicama.

Native to Central America, jicama is a white tuber with a texture similar to a water chestnut. It’s an ideal food for a hot summer day, since it is almost completely made of water. Jicama does not have much flavor of it’s own, so once you’ve peeled the brown skin, serve it with a dip or dressing. When you go to the store look for a firm, heavy jicama with mostly unblemished skin and store it at cool temperatures.

In Latin America, jicama is served with lime juice, coarse salt, and ground chile. This salad plays on the idea, but adds a sweet and juicy element to it: watermelon. Nothing says summer like watermelon and with this heat, it’s high time we accept the fact that summer has arrived.

Watermelon Jicama Salad

Ingredients

1 jicama

1 small to medium size watermelon

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon lime juice (about 2 limes)

3 tablespoons basil, chiffonade

2 tablespoons mint, chiffonade

salt and pepper to taste

crumbled feta (optional)

Directions

Peel brown skin off jicama (some recommend using a spoon). Cut into 1/4 inch strips or into small dice.

Chop up watermelon into bite sized chunks.

Combine jicama and watermelon. Dress with orange juice and lime juice.

Toss with basil and mint. Season to taste.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta if using.

Posted on June 22, 2012

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Tomato, Tomahto

Yield:
8-10 servings


Ah, summer tomatoes – so fresh, so many varieties, so what to do with them?!

Of course the most simple thing to do is to make an easy summer tomato salad such as this Marinated Heirloom Tomato Salad from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. Don’t have heirloom tomatoes? You can try the same marinade with cherry, grape or any variety of tomatoes.

Hankering for some chips and salsa? Try making your own fresh salsa such as this Orange and Tomato Salsa recipe from Emeril Lagasse. Fresh salsas are also delicious served on top of grilled chicken or fish.

A great way to turn turn a batch of tomatoes into a summer meal is by making Gazpacho! You can try a traditional version such as this recipe from Ina Garten or my own updated version of Bloody Mary Gazpacho.

My last recommendation for a summer tomato treat is perhaps the most indulgent and a bit more work, but well worth the effort and calories! I love serving this Tomato and Mozzarella Tart for Shabbat lunch or even at Sunday brunch.

Happy summer cooking!

 

Tomato Mozzarella Tart

Ingredients

1 prepared tart crust (I like Julia Child’s recipe, which you can find here)

4 medium sized tomatoes, sliced thin
1 large ball (around 8 ounces) of buffalo mozzarella
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Set out sheets of paper towel, and remove excess water from the tomato slices by laying out the tomatoes on top of the towels to blot.

Slice mozzarella into even circles. Layer the tomato slices and mozzarella slices alternately, creating a circle pattern and ensuring that the mozzarella is covering as much of the bottom of the crust as possible.

In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. When thoroughly combined, drizzle over tomato and mozzarella.

If desired, sprinkle parmesan over tart before baking. The extra cheese will add a nice crusty layer to the tart after it is baked, and also add an extra layer of flavor.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.

The tart can be served warmed, or at room temperature, perfect for a Shabbat lunch.

Posted on June 22, 2012

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Shabbat Recipe Round-up: Heat Wave Edition

Unless you’ve been living in an igloo, you may have noticed that it’s really, really hot out. My extensive research indicates that this seems to be happening all over, so I bet it applies even to the igloo-dwellers. Here’s a great group of recipes that will cool you down and taste delicious! The best part: you don’t have to turn on your oven.

Start off with something non-traditional, but refreshing and light. This chilled watermelon soup is full of nutrients and interesting flavors. You do not need to add the sugar recommended in the recipe. If you are serving it with a meat meal, take out the feta and serve it with spiced nuts and diced cucumbers.

Keep the crunchy-sweet-refreshing theme going with mango jicama salad. This has a bit of a kick, but the sweet fruit balances it out. The chile powder plus mango combination makes it feel like a Latin American street food.

Take this opportunity to make a red snapper ceviche. It tastes like something cooked, but all it takes is a hefty dose of citrus juice, plus a few bonus flavors on the side. Serve with chips or just a spoon.

Per usual, I’m going to throw out a Mark Bittman resource here: slaws eight ways. One of these crunchy creative salads will be the perfect vegetable side dish for your ceviche.

For dessert, play with different combinations of macerated fruit. You can never go wrong with strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar. (I thought it was gross the first time I heard about it, but, believe me, you’ll like it.)

Posted on June 21, 2012

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Jewish and Vegan: a Blossoming Love Story

People become vegans for all sorts of reasons–ethical, environmental, health. But recently, a growing number of Jews have begun adopting a vegan diet as an expression of their Judaism, or at least a piece of it.

Veganism entails abstaining from any product derived from an animal–meat, eggs, dairy, leather, and even, for some, honey. The idea of not consuming these products has been around for a while, but it was only given the term “vegan” in the 1940s to differentiate practitioners from vegetarians. Vegan diets have many of health benefits, especially because vegans tend to eat more whole grains, legumes, and produce, but there are some important health considerations to think about.

Jews and vegans have been sharing headlines for some time now. Rav Kook famously promoted Jewish vegetarianism at the turn of the 20th century. Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer took a break from fiction to write about how he came to his decision to be a vegan in Eating Animals (after that, he changed it up again and edited a haggadah). Now the idea of Kosher veganism has come even more directly into the spotlight with the creation of The Shamayim V’Aaretz Institute, which seeks to educate and create leadership around animal welfare activism, Kosher veganism, and Jewish spirituality. Sporting an all-star cast, the Institute was founded by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Uri L’Tzedek and Mayim Bialik. Its board includes noted performer Matisyahu, who recently had a makeover.

Mayim Bialik, everyone’s new favorite Jewish celebrity, has become a vocal advocate of the vegan lifestyle and attachment parenting. Jumping on the s*** people say train, she starred in a video for the Institute called “Stuff Kosher Meat Eaters Say to Kosher Vegans.”

But while the number of supporters for and interest in this lifestyle is growing (check out the 34,000+ views of Mayim’s video), there are still plenty of people who feel Judaism and veganism are irreconcilable belief systems. Sorting through the spam in the comments, there are a few dissident voices. “The fact is that the Halacha DOES require the eating of meat… as with any other Halacha – we have to do things we don’t want to do.” Another commenter wrote, “This is absurd. Torah is inherently incompatible with veganism.” Rav Shmuly has a few answers for these allegations.

If you are a vegan or want to learn more about the concept of Kosher veganism, I recommend checking out the Shamayim V’Aretz Institute’s web site for recipes, resources for vegan clothes and cosmetics, and great videos–like Rav Shmuly and his wife showing off their vegan groceries. The Beet Eating Heeb is also full of resources and commentaries on veganism, Judaism, and the relationship between the two.

Posted on June 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

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