Monthly Archives: October 2012

Slop Nuggets: Cookies You Make Without a Recipe

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When I was growing up I read a series of young adult mystery books about a girl who saw ghosts and solved mysteries as a result. The girl was named Nina Tanleven (she goes by Nine) and I loved the books, though I can’t tell you much about them today, since I haven’t cracked one of them in about 15 years. One thing I do remember from them is that Nine and her father (her mom had died, I think) liked to make cookies that they called slopnuggets. Slopnuggets were basically cookies made without a recipe. You just put things in a bowl that you thought should be in cookies, and stopped when it looked like cookie dough. Bake, and enjoy. Nine said that slopnuggets always turned out differently, but were generally delicious. And I remember that in the brief author biography of writer Bruce Coville, he noted that the books were fiction, but slopnuggets are real.

peanut butter molasses slopnuggets

Since I read the books I’ve been wanting to try my hand at slopnuggets, and this week I finally did it. When my washer broke and I needed to use a neighbor’s I decided to make her cookies as a thank you, and didn’t have time to look for a recipe, so it was time to get sloppy.

Turns out, making slopnuggets is really fun, and has generally yummy results (I say generally because in my second batch I accidentally used salt instead of sugar…and that was an unfixable error). Here are my tips for making successful slopnuggets, a perfect treat for a day when you’re cooped up inside because of a hurricane or a heat wave.

Start with dry ingredients:
You’ll probably want to use some kind of flour or oatmeal or a combination

Baking powder or soda
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cocoa)

Then add:
Sweetener of some kind
(sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, agave)

Then add:
Fat and liquids of some kind (oil, butter, peanut butter, pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, milk, juice)

And extract (vanilla, mint, lemon etc, depending on your mood and what you have on hand)

Once it’s the consistency of cookie dough, taste, adjust as needed, and add chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, and/or any other add-ins you’d like. Then drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at about 350F for about 15 minutes.

The con: you can’t give the recipe away when someone asks if you can share your maple walnut cookie recipe.

One of many pros: you never have to worry that you won’t have the ingredients necessary to make slopnuggets. It’s whatever you happen to have in the pantry.

A couple of hours ago I made a truly wonderful batch of peanut butter molasses cookies. I’m sure I could come up with a lovely fancy name for them, but I’m just calling them slopnuggets.

Posted on October 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

What (Else) To Do During the Hurricane

I would never make light of a serious situation, especially a Hurricane when who knows what can happen. But the reality is that many of us on the East Coast are in for some dreary weather at the very least, and some serious time indoors for the coming days.

I have prepared with bottles of water, bread, tuna and candles. But a few days stuck inside is also a great time to take inventory of your kitchen and replenish supplies.


When the weather outside is frightful, it’s a good time to whip up some vegetable or chicken stock. I love having homemade stock on hand for everything from soups and stews to weeknight rice or weekend risotto.

Basic Chicken Stock:  1 whole chicken, 1 onion, 3 carrots, 3 celery ribs, 2 parsnips, 1 turnip, whole peppercorns, 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, 1 bunch fresh dill, salt, 6 quarts water. Fill pot with ingredients and bring to boil. Simmer one hour, remove chicken and allow to cool. Continue to simmer until liquid has reduced. Skim fat off the top, and remove vegetables. Taste and add salt to your liking. Use chicken to put back into soup or make some chicken salad sandwiches.

Basic Veggie Stock: The truth about vegetables stock is that you can pretty much throw whatever you want into it (or whatever you have lying around). You can also try my Leftover Veggie Peel Stock. But if I was making stock from scratch, here’s what I would do: 4 carrots, 4 celery ribs, 2 onions, 2 parsnips, 1 turnip, one handful cherry tomatoes (or 1 plum tomato), 1 cup button mushrooms, 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, 1 bunch fresh dill, whole peppercorns, salt, 6 quarts of water. Cover veggies with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 2 hours, skimming the top. When liquid has reduced, remove veggies and add salt to your liking.


Thanksgiving and Holiday time is just around the corner now is a great time to whip up some cookie dough and put it in the freezer to use in the coming month. I won’t even tell anyone if you lick the spoon at the end.

Sugar cookies are so versatile. I use a basic recipe like this one to make linzer torte cookies, fun cut-outs decorated in sprinkles for kids, or sometimes I even get fancy and dip them in dark chocolate and cover with sanding sugar or chopped nuts. Try out Martha’s Sugar Cookies and store wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a Ziploc bag for up 1-2 months. Want to make these pareve? Just swap out the butter for margarine and use brandy instead of milk.

Is there anything better than homemade chocolate chip cookies? Not really. Go classic and mix together a batch of the one and only Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.


What is actually lurking in the back of your freezer? Do you have 7 boxes of pasta but no tomato sauce to go with it?  While you’re sitting in the house glued to The Weather Channel, go through your cabinets, fridge and freezer and figure out what you have, and what you need. I love making lists and making sure I have ingredients for my favorite go-to meals on hand – no better time than now to get yourself organized. Here are some of my ideas for the Perfect Pantry Dinners in a pinch to help you.

And if all else fails, make some hot cocoa or warm cider and hope that organizing your cabinets is the worst you’ll have to endure.

Posted on October 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

Tunisian Spiced Squash Soup

6-8 servings

Butternut squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, pumpkin…after awhile, all that squash and pumpkin kind of looks and tastes the same. Which is why I came up with this slight variation on a classic butternut squash soup: same roasted butternut squash, but with a Middle Eastern twist.

And I must give credit where it is due. While I am pretty picky about my cookbooks, especially kosher cookbooks, I do love Saffron Shores which inspired this soup recipe.

The key to making this soup is roasting the butternut squash with the harissa on top to really add depth of flavor. What is harissa? It’s a Middle Eastern spice blend traditionally made with dried chilis, coriander and cumin.  I added some fresh lemon juice and zest to add brightness.

If you make the soup pareve for a dairy meal, I highly suggest serving it with some thick Greek yogurt or labne, fresh pita chips and a drizzle of olive oil.

Happy cooking!


Tunisian Spiced Squash Soup


1 large butternut squash

2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and cubed

1 tsp harissa

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp lemon zest

2 Tbsp olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

1 small onion, diced

2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock

Olive oil

Greek yogurt or labne (optional)

pita chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the butternut squash in half length-wise, and lay out on a baking sheet covered with foil.

In a small bowl, mix together harissa, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil. Spread spice mixture onto squash using a pastry brush or fingers until evenly coated. Save a little of the mixture to also coat parsnips. Add parsnips and garlic cloves to baking sheet and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until squash is fork tender.

While squash is roasting, heat olive oil in a saucepan and sauté onion until translucent; add garlic for last 3 minutes.

When squash is finished roasting and has cooled around 20 minutes, scoop out flesh and place into blender or food processor along with parsnips, sauteed onion and small amounts of stock. Puree in batches until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender for this step.

Put pureed squash mixture back into saucepan, and heat through with stock. Allow to simmer on low for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Posted on October 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

Goodbye Greens, Hello Cake: My New Nursing Diet

Most weeks I talk about what I am eating, baking and cooking – this week I am going to share with you what I haven’t been eating.

For those of you who don’t know, I have an amazing little baby girl who is almost 5 months old. I am breastfeeding which I love.  But breastfeeding for me has proven to be much like my pregnancy: the little alien dictates the menu.

Throughout my pregnancy, I devoured produce: containers of raspberries, entire watermelons and in some weeks three bags of kale all on my own. I adore simple roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts, as I have discussed many times in this space – and I ate these my the bowl-full, throughout my pregnancy as well.

But my little lady Goldberg has had other plans for me and my formerly healthful eating habits since she was born. I have not been able to eat vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables – my favorite! Instead, I am eating sweet potatoes, avocado, tons of fruit. But each time I try to eat salad or some spinach – nope, the little lady protests with a tummy ache.

And so in place of veggies I am almost embarrassed to admit I have developed a rather serious addiction to CAKE. I suppose, that as a baker, this is not an altogether surprising replacement for vegetables. After all, a priest once told me that chocolate is a vegetable since it comes from a bean. And who wants to argue with a priest (especially when his logic seems so…delicious).

And while I agree cake does not replace the healthful benefits of spinach, broccoli or kale…for now it will simply have to do. But I am open to suggestions – let me know if you have any recipes to try (or tips to break the cake addiction). Until then you’ll find me in the bakery section.

Posted on October 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

Autumn Veggies

In the last few weeks you may have picked up on my love of Autumn cooking, and my not-so-subtle adoration of pumpkin. But the truth is that the Autumn has so many wonderful vegetables (and fruit) to relish throughout the season, aside from my beloved pumpkin.

To me there is almost nothing as perfect as easy and delicious roasted cauliflower or brussel sprouts: I chop them up, drizzle a few Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and toss with whole garlic cloves. Roast at 400 degrees for one hour, or until caramelized.

Cauliflower is also a fantastic ingredient to include in soups to thicken it, or even, just as a standalone like this perfectly simple Cauliflower Soup from Food52. It’s even pareve, so its ideal for a meat Shabbat meal this time of year.

If you are looking for a simple recipe with a subtle twist, I stumbled upon this recipe for Chipotle-Roasted Baby Carrots. I also like roasting carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper and a 1 tsp dried ginger.

While I was pregnant last Autumn, I devoured bag upon bag of kale, turning it into crunchy, salty kale chips. I rinsed the kale, removed the middle rib, and spread out the leaves on a baking sheet. I drizzled with a few Tbsp of olive oil and sea salt, and roasted at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes. These healthful chips are completely addictive so watch out!

But kale also makes a glorious base for a salad – like this Kale, Pear and Cranberry Salad from The Shiksa.

Last but not least – check out Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean take on butternut squash – this recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar makes my mouth water just thinking about the silky squash paired with rich tahini and spicy za’atar. Yum!

Happy Autumn cooking!



Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar

Posted on October 23, 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 Cookin’ This Week?

The first week back to work after a month of short weeks during the chagim is always a doozy, and so to be honest, I have NO idea what I am making for Shabbat dinner tonight! At least not yet…

But I do know that my husband and I are dying to try a fantastic looking recipe from this month’s Food and Wine. As soon as I saw this recipe for Braised Chicken with Cilantro, Mint and Chilies I knew my husband would start drooling. He loves any dish that creates a marinade using fresh herbs like this one. I’ll let you know how it turns out…!

Last weekend I had a really delicious cherry apple noodle kugel that I am looking forward to re-creating. While the kugel was delightful, I want to update this American-Jewish classic by using FRESH cranberries instead of canned cherry pie filling – it will probably turn out similar to this recipe for Apple-Pear Cranberry Kugel. Stay tuned!

Apples apples are everywhere and this time of year I do my best to make as many apple desserts and treats as possible. What’s on tap for my baking agenda this weekend? None other than Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust. If you are scratching your head about this one…allow me to explain: by incorporating the savory cheddar into the pie crust, you end up with both a flaky crust, and a delectable sweet-salty quality to the pie. I love this recipe from Bon Apetit, and I cannot wait to serve it to a dear friend who is visiting from in town this weekend.

A few months ago I wrote about a new cookbook, Jerusalem, from the acclaimed duo Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli and Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian. Their much-anticipated cookbook Jerusalem is now available for purchase and receiving rave reviews. Want to see if their style strikes your fancy? Try their recipe for Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Pine Nuts.

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, wonderful weekend and happy cooking!

Posted on October 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


Everyone loves challah…and these days, everyone loves photos of beautiful, homemade food – especially challah!

So, this week and next we are looking for the prettiest challah in all the land. Email your best homemade challah photo to by 10 PM on Monday, October 29, or upload it to Facebook and tag @Jewish Food, and you could win a copy of one of our library’s most beautiful  cookbooks: The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen by Lévana Kirschenbaum.

Need some help? Check out the picture above – those are my “Everything Bagel Challah Rolls.” We can’t wait to see your scrumptious-looking challah!

Posted on October 18, 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

Pumpkin Pizza

4 servings

I LOVE pumpkins – and really who doesn’t!? Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced lattes, all the beautiful and flavorful pumpkins of the Autumn, I just love them all. And so each year it seems I add another pumpkin recipe to my repertoire. I have perfected my pumpkin lasagna, and I can’t get enough pumpkin bread slathered with butter with my coffee on a brisk Fall morning.

But  this year I was searching around looking for a pumpkin pizza recipe and I couldn’t find anything noteworthy. So obviously the only thing for me to do was…make one.

The first thing I did was to pick out the pumpkin, which was a small-medium sized Sugar Pumpkin that I bought directly from a farm in Upstate New York. Confused by all the different kinds of pumpkins? Martha (of course we are on a first name basis…in my head) has a guide to some of the more interesting heirloom pumpkins and squash. Don’t have time to pick out some fancy pumpkin? Pick up a pumpkin, or a slice of pumpkin, at your local supermarket.

Next step was to cut open the entire pumpkin and roast it in the oven on 400 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes. When the pumpkin cooled down, I scooped out the flesh and put it through a food processor to make the puree smooth. Store in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

And even though I am a baker, I almost never make my own pizza dough. Trader Joes sells it for $1, and Whole Foods also has a great one for about $3.

What’s the perfect accessory to some pumpkin pizza? Well pumpkin beer of course!

Happy cooking and enjoy my newest pumpkin creation.


Pumpkin Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fried Shallots


1 store-bought pizza dough

2 whole shallots

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree

2 Tbsp butter

2 tsp salt

4 fresh sage leaves

1 cup goat cheese crumbles or ricotta

Olive oil



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place it in the bottom of the oven for at least 30 minutes.

Slice shallots into tiny rings. Heat vegetable oil in medium sized sauce pan on medium-high heat. Don't let oil get too hot. Fry shallots for 3-4 minutes, or until just crispy, in small batches. Let drain on a piece of paper towel and set aside

Spread out pizza dough until desired thickness and size. In a small saucepan, melt butter on low-medium heat until just bubbling. Add sage leaves and swirl around. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then remove sage.

In a medium sized bowl mix together pumpkin puree, sage infused butter and 2 tsp salt.

Pull pizza stone, or pizza pan, out of oven and spread dough on top. Using the back of a large metal spoon spread an even layer of the pumpkin mix on top. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles or dollops of ricotta (or hey - both!).

Bake in the oven for 10-11 minutes.

Pull pizza out of oven, and drizzle with good quality olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Add crispy shallots on top and serve.

Posted on October 16, 2012

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The Best Matzah Balls–From Budapest!

In a wonderful article in the New York Times this weekend, David Sax discusses the sanctity of matzah balls, but not just any matzah balls, the BEST matzah balls, which happen to be made with none other than GOOSE! Now, I did not grow up with a mother or grandmother who made the best matzah balls, or even remotely good matzah balls, so I feel no loyalty towards my own family’s recipe, which David points out is perhaps the only recipe that might come close to the recipe he uncovered in Budapest.

But as someone who constantly strives towards Jewish culinary perfection, I can attest to the virtues of using rendered fat to create the most flavorful and fluffy matzah balls. And I can also attest to the incredible flavor of goose – a few years ago I actually had the chance to cook a goose! I know there’s a joke in there somewhere…nevertheless, if you have the inclination (and the money – it is expensive) to special order a goose from your butcher, I promise you will not be disappointed. The meat was incredibly unique – both gamey and rich. And the quantity of rendered fat will leave your freezer, and your friends’ freezers, stocked for many, many months.

But in the meantime, I have used plain ‘ol chicken fat and even duck fat in matzah balls and been very satisfied with the flavor. Here are my tips to making the fluffiest matzah balls, which you can put to use trying David Sax’s recommendation for the best matzah balls!

Happy cooking!


Posted on October 15, 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 Roundup: A Lazy Week Edition

This week we are gonna try something different for our Shabbat recipe round-up: I’m gonna share with you MY Shabbat dinner menu!

I’ll be honest- the last thing I want to do after four straight weeks of holidays is make an elaborate meal. So this week I am keeping things SUPER simple.

We always keep an extra boiler chicken or turkey breast in the freezer, so roast herb turkey breast it is! Either the night before or a few hours before you are ready to serve dinner, combine 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary, 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley, 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper with 2 Tbsp orange juice and 3 Tbsp olive oil. Make a paste and spread all over turkey. Cook for one hour at 375 degrees, or until the juices run clear.

My husband was going to make potato kugel over Sukkot but never got around to it, so to go with our turkey breast I’ll throw together some baked potato wedges with aioli. Just slice up some good ‘ol russet potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven, at the same time as the turkey, until crispy (a little over one hour, though sometimes longer). To make your aioli extra special? Add 1 Tbsp sriracha.

Roasted brussel sprouts with garlic will round out the meal – quarter brussel sprouts, and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and about 4-6 whole unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast in oven, at the same time as potatoes and turkey, until brussel sprouts are caramelized and falling apart.

I am a baker first and foremost, but even I get lazy on weeks like this, so my go-to dessert is this chocolate cake recipe from the back of the Hersheys cocoa powder box! Yes, I know it calls for milk, but just replace the 1 cup of milk with either 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup coconut milk or 1 cup vanilla soy milk. I bake my cake using this bundt cake pan from Williams Sonoma, and finish the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe even some fresh berries. It will look way fancier than the actual time you spent on it.

Maybe next week I’ll feel like cooking a more elaborate meal…but for now this is just fine. My husband should just be happy I cooked anything at all!

Wishing you happy cooking (if you feel like it) and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted on October 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

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