Monthly Archives: November 2012

Za’atar Roasted Potatoes

4 servings

Everyone loves roasted potatoes for Shabbat dinner or even a weeknight meal. Its cheap, pretty effortless and potatoes are a produce item you can easily keep around to use when you need. Just make sure you keep them in a cool, dark place for the longest “shelf” life.


But roasted potatoes can also get a bit boring, so I am always looking for ways to spice(literally) them up. My za’atar roasted potatoes is my family’s new favorite go-to for weeknight or Shabbat – and I hope it will be yours soon too! I really enjoy slicing the potatoes into rounds, as opposed to quarters – it makes the potatoes feel “fancy” and fun without any extra work.


What is za’atar? Well, its actually a spice mix made up of oregano, salt, sesame seeds and a few other things. I always buy mine when I visit Israel (or more often, when friends bring it back to me from Israel). You can use it on chicken, sprinkle it on top of hummus or thick greek yogurt as a dip.

Za'atar Roasted Potatoes


1 1/2 pounds yukon gold or red potatoes

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp za'atar

tsp lemon zest


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut potatoes into quarters or 1/2 inch round slices.

Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt and za'atar. Roast in the oven for 35-45 minutes, to the your desired level of crispness.

Sprinkle lemon zest on top before serving.


Posted on November 30, 2012

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Jewish Food? Czech!

Growing up, I didn’t realize that the food my grandparents served me wasn’t typical “Jewish” food. Sure, when I would visit them in Chicago they would make matzo ball soup, roast chicken and potato kugel like my friends’ grandparents did, but most of the foods I would request them to make that I considered “Jewish” were actually based on Czech cuisine. It never occurred to me that what my grandparents cooked was different than what other Jewish grandparents served my peers.

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I made my first visit to the Czech Republic. My dad and I spent two weeks exploring all that the Czech Republic (CZ) had to offer. Unfortunately, I was getting over an epic stomach bug I acquired right before flying to CZ, so I don’t remember much about the food, other than I subsisted mostly on pastries purchased at local cukrárnas (sweet shops).

This October I joined my mom and dad on another trip to CZ. This trip had special meaning, since both of my grandparents had passed away within the last three years. I was determined to pay more attention to the cuisine, indulge in some of my favorites and honor the culinary traditions my grandparents passed down to me. I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to return home with a better understanding on how to duplicate Czech cuisine here in the US.

Although I could spend pages describing the morning pastries, traditional salads and soups I fell in love with, there are two dishes I grew up on that I want to share.

The first dish I came across greatly elevates the average chicken schnitzel. Chicken breast breaded in potato pancake batter instead of crumbs or crushed cornflakes. I found this gem in a hospoda (tavern) in Pilsen, the home of Pilsner Urquell beer. The crispy, well-seasoned latke crust perfectly complimented the moist chicken breast inside. With a side of sauerkraut and a small salad (and pint of beer, of course) it is a delicious and filling meal. My dad makes the most incredible latkes, and I plan on adapting his recipe this Chanukah to re-create this culinary discovery.

My next favorite is probably one you haven’t heard of. In my family, these dumplings, called švestkové knedlíky (plum-filled dumplings) were a winter staple. The dumpling dough is a mixture of potatoes, farina (cream of wheat), and enough egg to hold the dough together. They are filled, kreplach-style, with fruit filling. The Korycan Family standard was povidla (prune butter – it was delicious, I promise you). Once boiled, the dumplings are then served with melted butter, ground walnuts and sugar. Come winter, we ate plate after plate of these delicious dumplings for dinner. Much to my delight, on a trip to a Prague grocery store I came across pre-made, packaged povidla knedlíky. I stood there and debated the pros and cons of packing them in my checked luggage, but thankfully we found similar dumplings on a menu when visiting the historic town of Telch, saving me from a potato/prune laundry disaster.

I came across many other delicious foods while in CZ that reminded me of my childhood, but those two certainly were highlights. At every breakfast, lunch and dinner I was struck by how much the local cuisine reminded me of what I perceived as “Jewish” foods growing up. There is no doubt in my mind that Czech traditions will continue to be a part of the Korycan family culinary Judaism for many generations to come.

Posted on November 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

Apple Cider Beef Stew

6 servings

Here in New York the weather just started to finally get cold, and truth be told….I love it. I love breaking out my Winter weather accessories, sipping some indulgent hot cocoa and whipping up some comforting meals.

I had been meaning to work on my recipe for Apple Cider Beef Stew, and the cooler weather gave me the perfect chance to do so. My favorite step to this recipe is adding the potatoes to the stew 1.5-2 hours into the cooking, as opposed to right at the beginning. This ensures a cooked, but still-firm potato.

apple cider beef stew

Apple Cider Beef Stew


3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2 inch cubes

salt and pepper

all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

3-4 garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch crushed red pepper

2 cups apple cider

1 cup red wine

1  cup vegetable or beef stock

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

salt and pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper liberally over beef. Cover beef in light coating of flour.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot. Brown meat on all sides and then remove from pot and set aside on a dish.

Add another Tbsp olive oil and saute onions, carrots and garlic cloves, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cinnamon, bay leaves and pinch of red pepper flakes continuing to stir. Saute vegetables until transluscent.

Add apple cider, red wine, stock and balsamic vinegar and let come to simmer. Add salt and pepper. Place beef back into the pot, stir and cover cooking for 2 hours in preheated oven.

At the 2 hour mark, add the potatoes. Taste the stew, and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Put stew back into the oven for another 45 minutes.

Serve with rice or noodles.


Posted on November 26, 2012

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Jewish Foodie News Roundup

Just in time for Hanukkah and the holidays – three new cookbooks have arrived from some of the foremost Jewish lady foodies out there:

Susie Fishbein’s 7th cookbook, “Kosher by Design Cooking Coach: Recipes, Tips and Techniques To Make Anyone a Better Cook” hit the bookshelves on October 23rd. The Forward has a great Q&A with her, and you can order the book on Amazon…maybe for that special someone who might need a little boost in the kitchen.

The much anticipated Smitten Kitchen Cookbook also came out recently – as well as Chef Paula Shoyer’s first cookbook, The Kosher Baker, featuring 160 dairy-less desserts. Fellow blogger and Nosher contributor Amy Kritzer recently reviewed The Kosher Baker for the Austin Chronicle.

In other Jewish-food related news, The New York Times seems to have a new-found love affair with the non-traditional kugel – in the past few weeks they have featured recipes for a Quinoa and Carrot Kugel, as well a Cabbage, Onion and Millet Kugel. They don’t sound like my first line of defense for Shabbat, but I am willing to give anything a try – the quinoa and carrot kugel could even be a great side dish for Passover.

And in Washington, DC yet another non-kosher, reinvent-the-Jewish-classics restaurant has opened called DGS Delicatessen, from Chef Barry Koslow. From what my friends in DC have said and are posting, the menu sounds awfully similar to some of the eateries that have come before DGS (Kutchers Tribeca, Jack’s Wife Frida…), particularly the babka bread pudding, dessert kugel and updated kreplach. But regardless….once again, I am excited to see that Jewish Food is truly having a moment. I am starting to feel almost like a trendsetter myself.




Posted on November 20, 2012

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Gluhwein (Mulled Wine)

8-10 servings

My husband and I aren’t really the sit-on-a-beach-for-a-week types, so instead of a beach vaca for our honeymoon, we went skiing in Switzerland – pretty amazing! After our days on the slopes, we would get to the bottom of the mountain and hit up the bars for an apres-ski – and had for the first time Gluhwein, or more commonly known here as mulled wine.

The cloves and cinnamon add just the right amount of spice, and some sugar and orange add sweetness. Putting the cloves into the orange slices isn’t just decorative – its actually convenient so you don’t have to go fishing around for the cloves when you are ready to serve the warm, spicy drink. (This is a step, as you can see from the picture above, that I didn’t come to understand until I had made this recipe a few times…)

I will say in full disclosure that I have been known to whip up a batch of this cozy treat on a cold day, put it into a to-go mug and bring it to a pedicure. Am I allowed to say that? Regardless, it takes relaxation up a notch, and so I highly recommend.

It’s also the perfect drink to serve at a holiday gathering. You can double the batch, put it on the stove, and allow guests to serve themselves a warm mug. Wanna get fancy? Serve the hot wine in Israeli-style glass mugs like these.

Happy relaxing (and drinking)!


Gluhwein (Mulled Wine)


1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2-3 cinnamon sticks

1 bottle red wine

1 orange

10-12 cloves



Cut orange into slices and place cloves into the orange peel.

Heat water, sugar and cinnamon sticks in a medium-large saucepan until sugar is dissolved completely.

Add wine and bring to simmer, but don't let it boil. Continue to heat wine for 20-30 minutes. Serve in mugs and garnish with cinnamon stick and slices of orange.

Posted on November 19, 2012

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Bubbe’s Mushroom Challah Dressing

10-12 servings

Thanksgiving isn’t a Jewish holiday, per say, but with the abundance of traditional foods and family, it may as well be! Favorite Thanksgiving foods can vary greatly by family (I recall getting in a heated brawl with my roommate over green bean casserole vs. Brussels sprouts one year. Brussels sprouts all the way!) But certain foods seem to find their way to every table, such as turkey, cranberry sauce, pie and of course stuffing.

Unfortunately, I won’t be making the schlep from Texas to Connecticut to have Thanksgiving with my family this year. Which means I will miss the yearly gathering of everyone around the oven, opening and closing the door repeatedly questioning whether the bird is done, all whilst prodding and probing at it for clues. Miss you guys!

In order to continue the tradition in my own home, I decided to recreated Bubbe’s famous Challah Dressing (since it is cooked outside the turkey it is technically a dressing, and not stuffing) with my own twists. I swapped out the onions for leeks, and added carrots and lots of fresh herbs. If you can’t find any of the fresh herbs, you can substitute dried as noted. Dried herbs are more intense, so make sure to use less. Delish! Definitely a holiday dish everyone can agree on.


Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, TX who enjoys
cooking, theme parties and cowboys. She challenges herself to put a spin on her
grandmother’s traditional Jewish recipes and blogs about her endeavors at What
Jew Wanna Eat. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and watch her
cooking videos on Google+.

Bubbe's Mushroom Challah Dressing


1 large loaf challah, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8-10 cups, or enough to fill a
9x13 inch casserole dish)

4 Tbsp butter or margarine, plus more for greasing pan

1 cup carrots, diced

2 stalks leeks, cut into rounds

1 tsp kosher salt

2 cups celery, sliced

2 cups mushrooms (any kind), sliced

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (1/2 Tbsp dried)

1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced (1/2 Tbsp dried)

1 tsp fresh sage, minced (1/2 tsp dried)

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (1/2 tsp dried)

2 tsp fresh marjoram, minced (1 tsp dried)

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Fried sage leaves for garnish, if desired


Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread challah cubes on a cookie sheet and
bake for 30 minutes or until dried out, tossing halfway.

Then increase oven to 325 degrees F.

Use butter or margarine to grease a 9x13 inch ceramic or glass casserole pan.

Melt remaining butter or margarine in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add
in carrots, leeks and salt and sauté until vegetables start to soften.

Then add in celery, mushrooms and seasonings. Sauté until all vegetables are
slightly soft. Cool slightly.

Mix vegetables with challah bread.

Combine eggs with chicken stock and pour oven bread mixture until well
saturated (you may not need all of the liquid).

Bake at 325 degrees F covered in foil for 45 minutes, removing cover for the last
10 minutes.

Garnish with fried sage if desired.

Posted on November 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

Goat Soup, Shuba and Other Delicacies

Riding the Q train last week, I spotted an ad for “Ram Goat Flavored Soup Mix – with artificial goat flavor” and I immediately shuddered in disgust and disbelief. Goat flavored soup – ick! And not only is it goat flavored, but artificial goat flavor – I mean, what does that even mean???

And then I paused and thought I was being terribly short sighted. I’ve never had goat soup – but I have and annually consume kishke, tongue, sweetbreads, gefilte fish and cholent all of which probably would make others shudder in disgust and disbelief as well. And not only have I eaten all these items above, but I actually really enjoy them!

So who am I to judge ram goat flavored soup!?

And then just yesterday, a colleague who was born in Russia brought me Shuba, also known as “herring under a fur coat.” Shuba is a cold layered salad made up of herring, chopped egg, grated potato and beets – and it was delicious! It was creamy, slightly sweet and very light. I brought it home to my husband, who took a bite hesitantly and promptly decided it was not for him. But I enjoyed it a second time – I guess one lady’s goat soup is another man’s shuba. Feeling adventurous? You can make your own shuba with this recipe.

Who knows – perhaps I would love goat ram flavored soup, artificial flavors or not – but for now I’ll probably stick with the tongue and gefilte fish.

Posted on November 14, 2012

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Cranberry Apple Noodle Kugel

10-12 servings

Last month my husband and I brought our 4 month old daughter to visit one of her two living great-grandparents. Our daughter was delighted to meet her great-grandfather, and his wife cooked us a wonderful Shabbat dinner to celebrate, which included, among many other delicious dishes, a cherry apple noodle kugel that I just couldn’t get enough of.

As I devoured the sweet kugel I had the idea that the cherry-apple kugel could easily turn into a cranberry-apple kugel perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish.

The original recipe calls for a can of cherry pie filling, which I swapped out for a scratch-made cranberry sauce made with lemon zest, sugar and water.

No patience to make your own sauce? Buy a can of whole cranberry sauce to substitute!

Cranberry Apple Noodle Kugel


8 ounces fresh cranberries

2 tsp cornstarch

¾ cup water

½ cup sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

1 ½ lbs wide egg noodles (one and a half packages)

5 large eggs

3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup margarine or butter

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon plus extra


Place cranberries, ½ cup sugar, water and lemon zest in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait until water begins boil and then add cornstarch and stir. Continue to simmer until cranberries are all soft and sauce thickens. Add a little water if needed. Set aside to cool.

Cook noodles in large pot. Drain well and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.

Melt margarine or butter and mix with sugar, cinnamon and apples. Separate eggs and beat egg whites until frothy and thick. Add egg yolks to sugar-apple mixture.

Add noodles and mix well. Gently fold egg whites to noodle mixture.

Spread half the noodle mixture into the pan. Add a layer of the cranberry sauce. Add the remaining noodles. Sprinkle with a very light dusting of cinnamon on top.

Bake 50-55 minutes, or until desired crispiness on top.

Posted on November 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

Challah Photo Contest: THE WINNERS ARE IN!

I don’t know if you know this about me, but challah is sort of my thing; I LOVE baking challah, and coming up with new ways to serve this favorite Jewish comfort food. I’ve been working to perfect my own challah recipe since I was 16 years old and I even have a few signature flavors: rosemary garlic challah and “everything bagel” challah being among my friends and family’s favorites.

So I was pretty excited to receive all of YOUR challah photos – I was completely overwhelmed and in awe of the all the beautiful, and diverse, challah out there. Not to mention the creativity! We received SO many photos, from literally all over the country, and it was very difficult to choose just one – so we picked three challahs to feature at this time.

This was so much fun for ME that I know we will do it again. So don’t stop sending us your challah photos – email us at to send us any new photos you might have!

The first challah winner is from the Pence Family who submitted a photo of their beautiful, braided round challah for the holidays. (above)

The next challah winner is Dorothy Weiss’ beautiful braided challot. Not only is the photo of these babies gorgeous, but I also loved that her husband, Rabbi Gerald Weiss, is the one who wrote in to submit them. He says, “…they taste even better than they look! She’s also taught the next two generations how to make them with great success.”Nothing better than passing on such a special (and unique) tradition!

When my sister, who is now 20, became a bat mitzvah I baked the challah for her special weekend. So I was touched when I read the submission from the third and final challah photo winner, Glen L., who submitted a photo of the challah he made for his son’s bar mitzvah (photo credit to Shari DeAngelo).  Glen wrote: “I know it is not the most “beautiful” challah in the world, but it is very special to me because I made it for my son’s Bar Mitzvah.” What could be more beautiful than baking homemade challah to share together at such a joyous occasion!?

Thank you to everyone who sent in their pictures – it was SO hard to choose! Keep ‘em coming…and we’ll keep featuring your homemade creations.

Shabbat Shalom, and happy challah baking (or more importantly, challah eating)!

Posted on November 9, 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

Chipotle Peach Eco-Friendly Duck

A few weeks ago, my wife Meredith and I found ourselves equipped with a 5 pound thawed duck from Kol Foods, all ready to experiment with our delicacy. After a requisite number of Google searches, we concluded that we would stuff our bird with orange and onion and marinate it in a chipotle peach glaze.

I treated the marinating process much as I do when preparing chicken or beef. A delicious jarred marinade (thanks, Costco) submerged the duck in a gallon size zipped bag which I left in the refrigerator overnight, flipping once for even distribution.

In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, I placed our duck atop the rack of our roasting pan. Around the duck, I placed the overflow orange and onion from our cavity stuffing. I left the bird for the next hour, uncovered, having been salted, peppered and spritzed with a little cooking spray to assist in browning. (Time: 1 hr)

After an hour, which thankfully coincided with the halftime of the early NFL games, I flipped the bird (now, to breast side down), and left it for another hour. I was pleased with how the top had crisped and browned during the first hour and was looking forward to the deliciousness that would await at the end of this journey. (Total time: 2 hrs)

Even before I arrived in the kitchen, I could smell the clean, dark meat roasting. Salivating, I understood the critical task that laid ahead: I had to determine just how much longer this bird needed before I could rip into it. Using my ring finger, I determined it was still a little too soft, so I flipped the bird again (now, breast side up) and left it for the last 30 minutes: a good rule of thumb is 30 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven.

After letting the duck rest, I snagged a little meat from the drumstick and sliced a bit from the breast. Perfectly juicy and delicious, the chipotle peach glaze brought a surprising amount of heat and sweet.

As any experienced duck enthusiast knows, the best part of the cooking process isn’t even the meat at all, but the delicious fat rendered at the bottom of the pan. De-glazed with a bit of wine or even a little water, the oily goodness should be poured into a plastic container, allowed to cool and placed in the fridge. Give it 24 hours and then the oil and water will separate, leaving a divine semi-solid known as duck fat.

Thanks to the good folks at Kol Foods for sending us the sample fowl – they have produced a healthy, lean, kosher, and eco-sensitive bird with just the right amount of fat. Duck may not be ready to replace chicken on our regular Shabbat dinner menus, but it isn’t as complicated to make as you might believe. Don’t wait until you’re celebrating at a restaurant to indulge in duck. Celebrate at home, even if all that you’re celebrating is a delicious meal with good family or friends.


Posted on November 7, 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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