Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Craving for Cauliflower Curry Pie

45 minutes

40 minutes

1 10.5" pie, about 10 servings

cauiflower curry pie

Pie says, “I’m Hungry!”

Most of the time I plan my dinner menus in the beginning of the week. I collect links for recipes I want to make, and page through cookbooks, and then make a shopping list. There aren’t many surprises later in the week, since I’ve already planned. But occasionally I get a craving for something, and veer off my plan. Last week, for reasons I can’t explain, I suddenly decided I wanted Cauliflower Curry Pie. Unfortunately, googling around I wasn’t able to find a recipe that came anywhere close to approximating what I was imagining.

Molly Katzen has a recipe for cauliflower pie in the Moosewood Cookbook, but it has a potato crust, and isn’t curried at all. I had just received a gorgeous pie plate, and was itching to use it. It had to be pie, and though I do love a potato crust in this case I wanted a classic savory pie crust.

So, I was forced to make up my own recipe, and I forced the results on my step-daughter, a semi-picky eater who, at 5, is generally skeptical of all vegetables, but is solidly pro-pie. The results were an enormous success. The crust came out perfectly, and the curry was a savory, mildly spicy vegetable medley that I think I’ll probably make again soon, even without the pie surrounding it. Though this recipe involved a bit more work than I’d typically put into a weeknight meal, it was totally worth it, and I’m definitely going to add it to my Shabbat and holiday menus. If you want to cut down on the time and/or you’re pastry phobic, you can use store bought crust.

Cauliflower Curry Pie


Pie Crust

2 sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes

7-8 Tablespoons ice water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 ¾ cups flour (I bet you could integrate some whole wheat flour, but I didn't try this time)


Cauliflower Curry

1 large onion (red onion works fine), chopped

2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (use your judgement)

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated

2 Tablespoons mild curry

pinch garam masala (optional)

1 can coconut milk

1 can diced tomatoes

1 head cauliflower, chopped

2-3 small potatoes, diced

1 8oz box frozen spinach

salt and pepper, to taste

milk to brush on top

parmesan cheese, grated (optional)



Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Drop the butter cubes into the flour mixture and hit the pulse button. Once all the butter is in the mixture should look like white gravel. Add 6 Tablespoons of the ice water, and run the food processor until a dough forms. If it still seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead with a sprinkling more of flour. Divide into two hunks and shape into hockey pucks. Wrap in wax paper and stick in the fridge for at least half an hour. If making the dough more than a day before the curry, wrap in plastic wrap.

While the dough is chilling, make the curry. Fry the chopped onion in the oil for 5-10 minutes until onions are beginning to soften. Then add the ginger, curry, and garam masala and fry for another 2-3 minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, cauliflower and potatoes and simmer. Add the frozen spinach (no need to have it defrosted, though that won't hurt) by just plopping the square of frozen spinach in the middle of the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, at which point the potatoes and cauliflower should be tender, and cooked through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. Turn off heat.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the pie dough from the fridge, and roll one of the hockey pucks out on a floured surface. Roll it pretty thin, and then place in the bottom of a pie plate, allowing whatever extra to spill over the sides. Using a slotted spoon, fill crust with cauliflower curry. Leave leftover liquid in pan, so you're left with a moist but not runny curry. Roll out the second hockey puck, and place on top of the curry. Press together the edges of the top and bottom crust, using a fork to crimp the edges together.

Brush the top of the pie with milk, and then make vents in the crust—I like to do this by writing a secret message, and this time my step-daughter requested that the pie say I'm Hungry, so that's what I wrote.

Bake at 400F for 40 minutes, or until golden on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. The pie is amazing when fresh from the oven, but is also surprisingly good when served cold, as lunch the next day.

Posted on January 31, 2013

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

Seeking: Persian Purim Treats!

PurimI have had a lot of confessions this week…so here is yet another one: my husband and I are obsessed with all things Persian! We have a number of close friends from Iranian-Jewish families, and we have always been fascinated by their traditions, history and (of course) FOOD! But this interest has reached new heights over the past few months.

Last week writer Esther Amini welcomed us into her home for Shabbat lunch, where we enjoyed home-cooked Persian rice and two kinds of Persian stew including my favorite, ghormeh sabzi. My husband has also been experimenting with some Persian-inspired recipes from the cookbook Jerusalem, which have been delicious, if not somewhat time consuming to prepare.

And I would be remiss not to mention my husband’s almost-obsessive interest in the Bravo TV show Shahs of Sunset (his favorite character is Reza). While their typical Bravo-drama antics may be what is “entertaining,” a glimpse into the Persian immigrant culture of Los Angeles has been fascinating. A few of the characters even come from Iranian-Jewish families including handsome Mike and the ever-hysterical Reza, whose father is Jewish.

Purim is coming up soon, a holiday truly steeped in Persian history and tradition. The Book of Esther recounts the story of Purim, telling of how the Jews of Persia were saved from destruction. Purim is truly one of the most joyous Jewish holidays, when we are obligated to drink, eat and celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than to share in the diversity of Jewish traditions and foods!?

Well, all this is to say….we are looking for YOUR Persian Purim recipes! If you’ve got a great family recipe and story to share, we would love to feature it for our readers. Email us your recipe, a photo if you’ve got one and if appropriate, a short story about the recipe, to

Deadline is Friday, February 15th at noon. We can’t wait to see what treats you’ve got  – and try them out for our own families.

Posted on January 30, 2013

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

Cheesy Garlic Biscuit Bites

2 dozen

Confession: I know nothing about football, which teams are playing in the Superbowl and I had to ask four times when the Superbowl is taking place this year. And yet there is something about Superbowl snacks that I love! My parents were never into football and took the opportunity each year on Superbowl Sunday to go out to dinner while the restaurants were empty, so I can’t even attribute this interest to some kind of family tradition. But I guess, who wouldn’t enjoy an occasion to indulge in delicious, junky foods like chicken wings, sliders, nachos and chili dogs!?

Last year I shared my two favorite chicken wing recipes, but this year I wanted to share a dairy recipe I have been dying to make for some time. My other confession is that the recipe for this delectable snack was 100% inspired by this recipe from The Gunny Sack. When I saw these pepperoni cheese bites I knew I needed to kosher-ize them!

I have written before about my love for Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, which I recently found out ARE kosher (OU-Dairy). But if you don’t want to use the canned biscuits I have a simple and equally delicious alternative: store-bought pizza dough!

Roll pizza dough to ½ inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter cut as many rounds as the dough will allow. GatherSONY DSC remaining dough and roll out again. Repeat until you have desired number of pizza dough rounds.

This snack really is a snap to whip together, but make sure you have enough for your party because the cheesy bites will be gobbled up before you know it!

Happy cooking and happy snacking!

Cheesy Garlic Biscuit Bites


2 cans Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (or one large ball pizza dough)

6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes

Jarred minced or crushed garlic in oil

Fresh basil

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp minced dried garlic

½ tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

Tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 9x13 baking pans

Working one by one, take a biscuit (or pizza dough round) and spread it out, flattening it with your fingers. Spread 1 tsp crushed garlic (from a jar) onto round. Place 3-4 cubes of mozzarella and a few strands of fresh basil. Fold edges of dough up and pinch to close. Place seam side down into greased dish.

Repeat until all the dough balls have been formed.

In a small bowl combine Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano and dried basil.

Brush each dough ball with beaten egg. Sprinkle cheese-herb mixture on each ball.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve with warm tomato sauce.

Posted on January 28, 2013

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 Menu – Family Dinner!

Earlier this week I wrote about those Shabbat dinners when you throw together whatever you have lying around in your pantry. And then there are other weeks when you have the time, or occasion, to plan each dish carefully a week or even two weeks in advance – and this week is one of those for me which I actually love.

We are hosting my husband’s parents and siblings this week for dinner, so this called for some advanced planning. Especially with a full week of work for my day job! On Wednesday evening I made the chocolate cake and a marinated cucumber salad like this one from The Food Yenta (I make mine without sour cream).

Thursday night – my husband made his grandmother’s famous salt and pepper noodle kugel while I made my Apple Cider Beef Stew and set the table.

And what’s on tap for Friday’s to-dos? Stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer and two large heads of cauliflower to roast with whole garlic cloves.

For my super simple garlicky cauliflower, I cut up two heads of cauliflower into small florets. In two pyrex pans, spread florets out and drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil in each pan. Sprinkle 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp pepper in each pan. Place 5-6 cloves of whole garlic in each pan. Roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until caramelized. The cauliflower becomes so sweet and delicious its almost addictive.

Happy planning, cooking and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted on January 25, 2013

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

Top 5 New Israel Food Spots

I love to travel. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do in my spare time, or whenever I can carve out time to take a trip; but going on vacation for me has become more about the destination, what I can see and do and less about the food. Don’t get me wrong as an avowed foodie I absolutely love to eat, but as a kosher keeping orthodox Jew many of the places I’ve traveled too severely limit my options on what I can and will eat.

That’s why Israel is one of my favorite foodie destinations. Everything from the street food, to the most high class restaurant can be found with a teuda (kosher certification). This makes traveling to Israel a kosher foodie’s dream come true, but with so many kosher options how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

On my most recent trip to Israel ( I just got back to the states a little over a week ago) I was lucky enough to sample a whole new array of delicious food.  Which is why I jumped at the chance when Shannon asked me to share with all of you my top 5 Israel foodie destinations from my most recent trip.

On your next trip to Israel I hope you’ll give these places a try; also do your own exploring, eat and taste your way through the country. In my opinion there’s no better way to see the land!


Jem’s,  Petach Tikvah,

Jem’s is a really unique place that you would never find in the American kosher scene – a beer factory that is also a kosher pub! They serve all sorts of traditional, greasy bar food that pairs great with their microbrews. Things you must try: beer battered onion rings, sausages, and meatball hero. And don’t forget to wash it all down with one of their refreshing microbrews. For more info check out a full review from YeahThatsKosher.

Hambuerguesa, Ibn Gvirol 22,Tel Aviv

Hambuerguesa is a great spot featuring a hamburgers and fries-only menu. They have an array of unique burger combinations including the Spanish burger which is topped with guacamole, salsa, red onions and lettuce; and the Hawaiian burger topped with grilled pineapple. If you love hamburgers, leave Burgers Bar behind and give this place a try!

Odelia, 89 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv

If you are looking for authentic Sephardi-Israeli food try out Odelia, which is a mix of Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian cuisine. It’s a very family friendly place where they even have special kids plates and utensils – pretty cool. The couscous with marak-soup and vegetables is delicious as is the potato mafrom – potatoes stuffed with ground meat and spinach and cooked till tender in an allspice, and coriander tomato sauce.

pesto salmonTokopaya, Nes Ziyyona,

In Israel there’s a difference between a regular restaurant with a cook and what they call a “chef restaurant” – literally that a trained chef does the cooking. Our cousins took us to Tokopaya, the place where they go for special occasions. It’s an elegant meat restaurant with beautiful (and delicious) presentation of food. The standouts for me included the focaccia bread that gets placed on each table served with roasted garlic cloves and a lemon garlic aioli; the pesto salmon; and the chocolate soufflé and créme bruleé dessert combo. If you’re in the Rechovot neighborhood  and looking for a “special” meal, then definitely try Tokopaya.

Grand Café, Baka Neighborhood, Jerusalem

Looking for an excellent dairy restaurant? Then you must try Grand Café in Jerusalem. They have a full menu of dairy delights that good for breakfast, lunch or dinner! If the weather permits, sit outside with a coffee and one of their delectable pastries and enjoy the people watching. Some standouts: the Fried Pesto goat cheese; raw shaved beet salad with lemon vinaigrette; and the homemade pasta with rose cream sauce.

Posted on January 24, 2013

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

Israeli Salad Couscous

4 servings

Some weeks I have my Shabbat menu all-set on Monday – I plan carefully to go food shopping early in the week and then I spend Thursday night and Friday afternoon preparing my meal. And then other weeks, my husband and I invite friends at the last minute and have to throw something together from our pantry. My Israeli Salad Couscous side dish is one of those dishes that came together out of necessity at the last minute.

ASONY DSCs it so happens it was a huge hit, and now makes it into our weeknight and Shabbat dinner menus. We prefer to use Israeli Couscous, versus regular couscous, which is a slightly thicker, very small round pasta – not as delicate as traditional Middle Eastern couscous.

Want to make this dish a tad healthier? Try a whole wheat variety, like this version I just picked up from Fairway!

Happy cooking!


Israeli Salad Cous Cous


1 cup Israeli cous cous

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup water

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 scallion, white and green parts diced

2 Tbsp diced red onion

3/4 cup diced cucumber

3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

juice and zest from 1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sumac (optional)


Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Cook cous cous until slightly toasted and covered evenly with oil. Add water and bring to boil. Add salt. Cover pot and cook on low-medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

If cous cous starts to get sticky, drizzle 1 tsp of olive and mix.

In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley, mint, salt, pepper and sumac (if using). Add pepper, scallion, red onion, cucumber and tomatoes and toss together until coated with dressing.

Add cous cous to salad and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Posted on January 21, 2013

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

Will Travel for Food

Last week at this time my husband and I were busy scrambling to get our suitcases and 7 month old out the door as we departed on our first proper vacation since she was born: we were headed to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, for 4 days of relaxing in the sun.

It was lovely – beautiful weather, gorgeous aqua colored water, friendly people and an exceptionally well-behaved little girl. Everything was great, except for one thing: the food!

Someone once said to my husband that normal people travel and enjoy eating along the way, but that he travels with the purpose of having good food. And to a certain extend that is true for both of us. One of the happiest days on our honeymoon was spent hopping from bakery to bakery all day in Venice sampling each local version of the “fritte venezia,” or the seasonal fried donuts they serve before Carnivale. We might have also sampled some espresso, pizzette and other pastry along the way…

There was nothing bad about the food we ate in St. John, in fact there were a few fantastic morsels – cinnamon bun bread pudding, plantain-coated mahi and a refreshing blood orange margarita.  And one of the stand-outs was a coconut rice cake made with chunks of fresh coconut that I am eager to recreate this weekend!

But the majority of the food was geared towards American tourists – club sandwiches, chicken caesar salads, hamburgers and french fries – items you could get at any restaurant here.

This most recent vacation was not about eating or even traveling persay, but about taking a break from our busy lives to rest and relax together as a family. And so it was a success! But I know we look forward to planning our next trip where will food will place higher on the agenda.

Stay tuned next week for a recipe for the coconut rice cakes we had on St. John and also for a guest post from Arielle Singer, who is recently back from her latest trip to Israel where food was top of the agenda!

Shabbat Shalom, and happy eating wherever you are this week.

Posted on January 18, 2013

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

It’s All About the Kugel

kugel_yerushalmiI have been on kind of a kugel kick lately. And by lately, I mean for the past four months, with no signs of stopping. I have made kugels with noodles, kugels with quinoa, and kugels with bulgur. I’ve made sweet kugels that should really be classified as desserts, and savory kugels that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Eastern European heritage suggested by the word kugel (which means ball, but which I also apply to my square-shaped kugels).

What I love about kugels is how versatile they are, and how comforting they are. The perfect food to get excited about when the weather is cold and wet. You can make a kugel for dinner three times a week and never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over. It’s also a great vehicle for camouflaging vegetables if you need to shoehorn some into your children or partner’s diet.

Here at MyJewishLearning we have recipes for Potato kugel, Sweet Potato Kugel, Cheese Lockshen Kugel, Yerushalmi Kugel, Gluten-free Apple Kugel, Zucchini Kugel, Carrot Kugel, Onion Kugel, Cinnamon Noodle Kugel, Apple Pear Cranberry Kugel, Broccoli Kugel, and the Love Potion Kugel

I also highly recommend all of the kugel recipes recently printed in the New York Times as part of their “kugel challenge”: Carrot Quinoa Kugel, Sweet Millet Kugel with Apricots and Raisins, Cabbage, Onion and Millet Kugel and finally the Sweet Potato and Apple Kugel.

I’m also a big fan of the recipe from TheKitchn from Mom’s Simple Savory Kugel  and this Butternut Squash Noodle Kugel from food52.

What’s your favorite kugel recipe?

Posted on January 16, 2013

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

Feeding My Daughter

6 servings

When my daughter was around 3 months old I started reading up on recipes for baby food and preparing to introduce solids, even though it was months away. Listening to me obsess over pureed sweet potatoes and mashed avocado, my husband finally asked, why are you in a rush for her to eat?! Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what was guiding my hyper-focused interest in feeding her.

But when she was 5 months old she sort of took matters into her own hands, quite literally. While I munched on a slice of apple one evening, she grabbed my hand, pulled it to her face and started sucking on the apple. I watched in happy awe as she continued to chomp on the apple slice, sucking the juice out of every last bit. And so a tiny foodie was born.

Since then we have introduced new foods little by little. And each time she tries something new – oranges, scrambled egg, pumpkin, or applesauce – I watch delighting in her curiosity and exploration of tastes and textures. We have discovered she loves slurping the broth from chicken soup (obviously…she is Jewish!) and doesn’t care for mashed peas. And above all else she prefers picking up her own food and feeding herself, which might be one of the cutest sights on earth.

Upon reflection it isn’t a surprise that someone (me) who spends so much time thinking about food would be excited to explore food with their new child. It’s common knowledge that food is love and I like to think that for Jews this is even more so. Am I now a typical “Jewish mom” – feeding as a sign of my love and overbearing-ness?! Regardless, it continues to be a new delight every day when we see what she’ll eat and enjoy next.

One of her favorite combinations is roasted parsnips, carrots and pumpkin. What’s great about this puree is that it is easy baby food – but it is also great as a side dish for adults. Leave out the salt until the end and then you have a dish for kids and adults. I like serving a puree like this along side sliced turkey breast or brisket. You can also use a base like this for soup – just add vegetable broth, a touch of cream and you have a healthful lunch or dinner.

Happy cooking and happy feeding!

Ella's Root Veggie Mash


2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 kabocha squash or sugar pumpkin

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

pinch of nutmeg

1-2 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a baking sheet. Place chopped carrots and parsnips on sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 scant tsps olive oil. Sprinkle cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg on top.

Place squash or pumpkin on a baking sheet.

Roast the carrots and parsnips for 45-55 minutes. Roast squash or pumpkin for 55-60 minutes, or until you are able to scoop out flesh easily. Allow squash or pumpkin to cool for 20 minutes before removing the flesh.

In a food process fitted with a blade, puree parsnips, carrots and pumpkin until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Posted on January 14, 2013

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

Orange Edamame Salad

4-6 servings

It’s one of my favorite times of the year – citrus season! I look forward each year when fresh oranges, grapefruits and lemons abound. This salad actually came about last year when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I constantly craved citrus fruit!. The funniest part about my citrus craving was that suddenly I was eating an entire grapefruit every day, even though I had never eaten grapefruit before in my life.

Pregnant or not, I love this Orange Edamame Salad, which can be served as a side dish, dairy, pareve or even as an entree. And as for the edamame, I highly recommend using the shelled, frozen edamame from Trader Joe’s – so easy!

My last recommendation – if you choose to grill some salmon or chicken for a salad entree, you can double the salad dressing recipe (below) and use it as a marinade! Not only will it make your prep a snap, but the it will intensify the flavor.


For a dairy salad: Add one cup crumbled goat cheese on top of salad.

For a dairy entree: Add one cup crumbed goat cheese and grilled salmon or tofu on top of salad.

For a meat entree: Add several slices of grilled chicken on top of salad.


Orange Edamame Salad


For the salad:

2 heads of butter bibb lettuce, or bag of butter lettuce mix

1 blood orange or naval orange, peeled and sectioned

1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

1 avocado, diced

1 cup chopped seedless cucumber

1/2 cup plain edamame

1/2 cup chopped candied pecans or walnuts

For the dressing:

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp honey

lemon and/or orange zest

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, honey and citrus zest. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture comes together evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In a large salad bowl, toss together salad ingredients. Add salad dressing to your taste.
Top with goat cheese, grilled salmon or grilled chicken (optional).

Posted on January 9, 2013

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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