Monthly Archives: February 2013

New Pizza on the Block

The Prime Pizza da soloRestaurant Group is really on a roll lately – they are opening a new location for Prime Grill this Spring, changing the menu of Solo from meat to dairy and they just opened their Neopolitan-style pizza spot with Pizza da Solo, located conveniently for the midtown working crowd at 55th and Madison in the Sony building.

Being half Italian, I do consider myself somewhat of a pizza expert. I also worked at a pizzeria during high school, yet another credential which establishes my expertise in pizza consumption. And I have to say, kosher or not, Pizza da Solo was great – super thin crust, balanced flavors and a good selection of interesting topping combos. To achieve an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, they have brought in Giulio Adriani, pizza exert who is the chef and owner of the Forcella restaurants, to serve as a consultant chef to the pizzeria.

I had lunch yesterday a the pizzeria where I chatted with Chef David Kolotkin who shared that even he can’t stop eating the delicious pizza!

Pizza da Solo features a perfectly simple menu of pizzas, calzones and salads. I got to taste three different pizza varieties while I was there, but hands down the standout was the Pizza al Tartufo Olio, a white pizza with truffle oil and arugula. Their sweet tomato sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes and their mozzarella and ricotta is made in-house! In case you were worried, Pizza da Solo has separate kitchen facilities from Prime Grill and Solo, as well as a separate mashgiach. All the dairy used is cholov yisroel.

thin crustEver heard of salad pizza? It’s one of my absolute favorites, and their take includes brie cheese, apples, walnuts, balsamic vinegar over a foccacia pizza. They also have a smoked salmon pizza and a piccante pizza, made with ricotta, mozzarella, jalapenos and cherry tomatoes. Not quite so adventurous? Fear not they have classic margherita pizza and marinara pizza too.

Single Jewish ladies in midtown: you should get yourselves over for some pizza ASAP – during the time I was there the clientele was almost exclusively Jewish men.  But maximize your time in line, because even while the place is popular, the wait wasn’t oppressive – the pizza took just 5-10 minutes on average. I’ve waited much longer for a latte at Starbucks.

Overheard from the men next to me? “This is going to be such a hotspot for lunch!” My thoughts exactly.

Posted on February 26, 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

Ready, Set….Passover!

When I was a little girl and I would spend time with my grandparents, they would be planning dinner while we were still eating breakfast and I never understood it. In fact, it downright drove me crazy! And yet now that I am older, and perhaps even more food-obsessed than they were, I am 100% guilty of this habit as well. Purim is barely behind us, and we are already fully engaged in our Passover planning over here at The Nosher, trying out new recipes and working to put together some great menus and ideas for our readers.

I always start testing Passover recipes in February to make sure I have a few new ones in my arsenal, and this weekend I worked on my new favorite Passover dessert recipe, so stay tuned!

matzah-moralityOnce again we will be posting our Communal Seder and will have a couple of other great features including a giveaway of Aviva Kanoff’s award-winning cookbook, No Potato Passover and a special Q&A and recipe from DGS Delicatessen in Washington, DC.

In the meantime we really want to hear from YOU – are you looking for a particular kind of recipe for Passover? Need help locating kosher for Passover ingredients in your area? Have a great tip you want to share with our readers? Comment on our Facebook page and let us know!

Posted on February 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

Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranate Molasses

Yield:
6 servings

Some of the best ideas are made on the fly, and this recipe was one of those. While perusing my local fruits and veggie market I decided it had been far too long since I had made acorn squash – a childhood favorite.

My dad used to roast acorn squash with maSONY DSCple syrup and then let us eat up the the sweet squash with a spoon. But I wanted to try a slightly new spin, and instead of roasting it with maple syrup, I opted to roast it and then finish it with pomegranate molasses and for crunch, some chopped walnuts.

You can find pomegranate molasses in many supermarkets, but if not you can also order it online. Don’t want to buy it? The Shiksa has instructions how to make your own pomegranate molasses!

 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Pomegranate Molasses

Ingredients

2 acorn squash, cut in half

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

pinch crushed red pepper

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix brown sugar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle over each half of squash.

Roast squash for 45-60 minutes or until tender.

Scoop out flesh and mash with a fork until desired consistency. If you prefer very smooth, put through a food processor.

Finish squash with pomegranate molasses and chopped walnuts

Posted on February 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

Yummy Gluten-Free Hamantaschen

Yield:
7-8 dozen small hamantaschen

gluten free hamantaschen v2Food related traditions like hamantashen are some of my favorite parts of being Jewish. I had to work on this hamantashen recipe for a while, because creating a gluten-free cookie dough that can be rolled and cut is no easy task. But I think I’ve finally got it (don’t skip chilling the dough, it really makes all the difference)!

This recipe makes hamentashen that are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. If you prefer them to be completely crispy, bake an additional 2-3 minutes.

Yummy Gluten-Free Hamantaschen

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) of margarine, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour, divided*
jam or other filling of your choice

Directions

*Make sure you choose a gluten-free flour that includes xanthan gum (I like Bob's Wonderful Bread Mix or Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend), or add 1 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum with the flour.

Cream margarine and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, allowing to combine before adding the next.

In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 cups of gluten-free flour (and xanthan gum if required). Turn mixer to the lowest speed and add to wet mixture a 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the dry ingredients to be incorporated before adding more. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

Divide the dough into four parts, roll each into a ball, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Dust the counter and the rolling pin with gluten-free flour. Remove 1 dough ball from the refrigerator and cut into circles using a 4 oz. mason jar or small juice glass (if the dough is too sticky to roll out and cut, add additional flour a tablespoon at a time until it is pliable enough). Fill with 1/4 tsp tsp of filling, pinch into a triangle, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Rella Kaplowitz has blogged gluten-free and mostly dairy-free as the Penny Pinching Epicure for the last 3 years. In "real life," Rella lives in Washington, DC with her husband where she specializes in organizational improvement consulting for the federal government.

Posted on February 19, 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

Hamantaschen Throwdown!

Well I am just tickled to share that I have been asked to serve as a judge at an upcoming Hamantaschen Throwdown, being hosted by Jersey Tribe on Sunday, March 3rd. What a perfect role for me – not only do I get to participate in the most beloved Jewish female activity, judging, but I will also get to taste a variety of Hamantaschen and weigh in with my preferences. There will also be a Persian cooking class as part of the evening, and you may recall my expressed adoration of all things Persian, especially food.

As I have mentioned before, I do not typically like hamantaschen so I hope the contestants will be bringing their A game. The three contestants kindly shared some brief information about their plans for the competition: Hindy Garfinkel, a fellow food blogger at Confident Cook plans to go a savory route while Lisa Radding will be bringing her family’s dough recipe as part of her arsenal.  The third contestant, Christine Broussard, shared a number of unique flavor combinations she is considering for the throwdown. I can’t wait to see what the three bakers come up with as their final product.

For more information about the event you can visit Jersey Tribe. I will be sure to report back with the winning combination and hopefully a new recipe you can add to your own Purim arsenal.

In the meantime, we have a GLUTEN FREE hamantaschen recipe from a guest blogger this week so stay tuned!

Posted on February 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

Hamantaschen with Ganache and Salted Caramel

Yield:
2 dozen

As you may remember from my post last year about Hamantaschen…I am typically not such a big fan. The ones I remember growing up with were always dry and crumbly.Until I found my friend Rachel’s Hamantaschen recipe, I had written off the triangle treats entirely.

Last year I made PB & Jelly flavored hamantaschen as well as a s’mores flavor. And this year I am happy to share a new flavor: Dark Chocolate Ganache with Salted Caramel Drizzle.

SONY DSCI know some people are “so over the salty sweet thing;” but I am not. My favorite chocolate will always be chocolate covered pretzels.  And you know what’s better than chocolate covered pretzels? Chocolate covered potato chips. And perhaps the best? The peanut butter filled pretzel bites covered in milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s. But I digress.

I surprised even myself with this recipe – it is really delicious, and both my husband and I could not stop eating these.

My tips:

Rachel’s Best Hamantaschen dough often requires a bit more than merely 1 1/4 cups flour it initially calls for. Also, keep flour-ing your work surface as you go.

Plan ahead – you really need to make the dough and the ganache ahead of time because they both need to chill properly before making them.

Pinch pinch pinch! Pinch those corners, otherwise your filling will spill out and make for ugly cookies.

Hamantaschen with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients

Dough:

½ cup butter (or margarine)

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 Tbsp milk (or almond milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp grated orange zest

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

pinch of salt

Rum to taste (optional)

 

1 batch Salted Caramel Sauce

 

Directions

Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk, vanilla and orange zest until mixed thoroughly.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.

Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by ½ cupfuls until firm.

Chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Over a double boiler, heat cream and chopped chocolate. When chocolate is mostly melted, lightly whisk until ganache is smooth and shiny. Whisk in rum and salt. Chill for several hours.

Dust surface with powdered sugar or flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.

Using a round cookie cutter, cut out and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in powdered sugar or flour before each cut!

Remove ganache from fridge, and using a teaspoon form about 1/2 inch round balls and place in center of dough. Carefully fold in the edges to form a triangular shape, and pinch the corners tightly to seal.

Bake at 400° for about 7-9 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool completely.

Using a teaspoon or a small plastic squeeze bottle, drizzle caramel sauce back and forth on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with scant amount of thick sea salt.

Posted on February 11, 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

Neopolitan Hamantaschen

Yield:
30 cookies

Purim has always beenIMG_6397 one of my favorites out of the many, many Jewish holidays. Dressing up in fun costumes, masks, festive food and drinks. What’s not to love? One of my fondest memories growing up was attending out synagogue’s annual Purim Carnival. They went all out with games, face paint, and prizes all to celebrate Esther saving the Jews from Haman’s plans of extermination. Of course, as a young foodie, one of my favorite parts was the carnival themed food. While others went straight for the popcorn or cotton candy, I was all about the build your own ice cream sundae bar. Oh my. I piled on scoops of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, rainbow sprinkles and a cherry or two.

Hamantaschen, the symbolic Purim cookie, are a great base for all sorts of flavors. I’ve made Chocolate Dipped Hamantaschen, Hamantaschen Tarts and even Caramelized Onion Hamantaschen. But when it came time to recreate a version this year, I reminisced about my favorite ice cream flavors and went with Neapolitan. A strawberry cookie filled with chocolate and drizzled with vanilla. Why should kids have all the fun?

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+.

 

Neopolitan Hamantaschen

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar

2 ¾ cups flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 stick butter, room temperature

½ tsp vanilla

1 egg plus 1 for egg wash

Red food coloring if desired

Zest of 1 orange

1 cup chocolate nut butter, homemade or store bought

½ cup powdered sugar

few drops vanilla extract

Water

Directions

Combine the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Meanwhile, puree strawberries in a food processer until blended.

Then add in the wet ingredients to the dry: butter, vanilla, 1 egg, pureed strawberries and orange zest and combine well with a mixer. If the dough is sticky, add a bit more flour. If it is dry add a bit of water. Form dough into a large ball and chill for at least one hour or up to overnight.

When you are ready to make your hamantaschen, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick. Use a 3-inch circle cookie cutter to cut circles in the dough. The top of a wine glass works too! Roll out the scraps and recut into circles.

Then take a teaspoon of the nut butter and put it in the center of each circle. Don’t add any more- the filling will spread to fill the cookie, and anymore would just run over the top making for an ugly hamantaschen.

Fold two sides together overlapping at the bottom, and then fold the top down and secure.

Use the white of the last egg as an egg wash to give the hamantaschen shine and help it hold its shape. Then bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Allow cookies to cool.

Mix powdered sugar with vanilla extract and enough water to get a thick glaze. Drizzle over hamantaschen, let harden and enjoy!

Posted on February 11, 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

On Valentines Day, Hamantaschen and Jews

photo-7Yesterday I posted our latest guest post featuring a gorgeous Valentines Day themed tri-color cupcake. And while I am not surprised some of our readers took issue with Jews celebrating Valentines Day, nevertheless I wanted to address it.

I did not grow up celebrating Purim, but I did grow up celebrating Valentine’s Day. Each year my dad would bring home a single red rose to my mother and a box of her favorite chocolates from a local chocolatier. He would also bring me a present – some years a fancy box of chocolates with a silk flower on the cover; other years a bouquet of my own flowers; and one year a small gold heart necklace. I loved these small tokens and have fond memories of my father’s simple romantic gesture to my mother.

I understand that for some Jews, celebrating a seemingly Christian holiday feels problematic, and frankly, I am not going to argue with anyone and try to convince them one way or the other.  The amazing Rabbi Mike Uram offers his assessment of whether or not it is problematic for Jews to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so feel free to read his view, or any other that you like.

But what I want to say about this is: many Americans Jews (dare I say – the majority) feel the same way I do and like celebrating “Hallmark holidays” like Valentine’s Day. We are American, and we celebrate American holidays (and Jewish holidays too) even if they sometimes feel silly or superficial because something in these traditions connects us to one another.

I do celebrate Purim now, and can’t wait to dress up with my daughter and husband in a few weeks. And I do love making Hamantaschen, just like I enjoy a good box of drug-store-bought chocolates with a silk flower on top. At the end of the day, I respect all Jews’ choices and traditions and don’t care whether we agree on what those choices and traditions should be; my only hope and expectation is that other Jews will respect my choices in return.

But onto the really important stuff: what kind of Hamantaschen will I be making this year!?

Last year I made PB& Jelly Hamntaschen which were a huge it as well as a s’mores flavor with chocolate and mini marshmallows.  Both these flavors deserve a repeat performance, and I am also thinking about a berries ‘n cream or chocolate caramel flavored Hamanhaschen. Stay tuned for what I cook up this year!

In the meantime check out The Shiksa’s Nutella Hamantaschen and look out for an all-new Hamantaschen flavor from What Jew Wanna Eat, who will be guest posting on The Nosher next week.

In need of THE BEST recipe for Hamantaschen? We’ve got that too so try out this recipe – it’s the only recipe I will use.

Happy celebrating.

Posted on February 7, 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

Tri-Color V-Day “Cupcakes”

Cook:
16 minutes

Yield:
3-layer 9"x13" cake

In this day and age, it’s hard to create a unique treat without consulting food magazines, blogs and social media sites like Pinterest. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw declared her love for Magnolia Bakery, cupcakes have been all the rage. I’ve always loved making cupcakes, as they are easy to serve, can take on little personalities of their own, and most importantly, I can try one before giving them to anyone else. (You can’t do that with an entire cake!)

For Valentine’s Day, I considered heart-shaped cupcakes or something red-velvet but while more frosting and more sprinkles make everything more delicious, for this project, I wanted to focus on simplicity. Multicolored cakes are all the rag these days, and I love anything pink so I decided to make mini three-layer cakes with fluffy buttercream frosting and a classic cherry heart lollipop to top it off. By definition, these aren’t exactly “cupcakes” but I don’t think you’ll get any complaints.

Brittany Wayne grew up in Weston, CT and enjoyed baking with her parents from a young age. In high school, Brittany completed a year-long independent study on cake decorating, culminating in a three-tiered wedding cake. The teacher who graded the study gave Brittany a D because she didn’t believe Brittany made the cakes she brought in each month. Brittany did make the cakes. You can follow Brittany and her cake creations on Twitter, and Instagram.

slide cake

Tri-Color Valentines Cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more to grease pan)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 ½ cups flour (plus more to dust the greased pan)

1 ¼ cup whole milk

Pink and red food coloring gel (I use Wilton)

For the frosting:

8 oz. Granulated Sugar

4 oz. Egg Whites

1.5 cups softened Butter (3 sticks)

Pinch of Salt

Pink food coloring gel (I use Wilton)

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put butter in mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat well. Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to butter mixture followed by ½ of the milk. Alternate adding the dry mixture and milk until all is incorporated.

Separate batter equally into three bowls and add pink gel dye to one and red dye to another and leave the third white.

Grease and flour three 9” x 13” cake pans and spread batter evenly.

Bake cakes for 12-16 minutes (check after 10 minutes to make sure it’s not burning since these are such thin cakes) until a toothpick comes out clean. If the top of the cake is wiggly, leave it in for a couple more minutes.

Let cakes cool on wire racks while you make the frosting.

(An easier alternative is to fill cupcake tins about 2/3rds of the way with layers of red, pink and white batter to create a gradient effect once baked)

For the frosting:

Put sugar, egg whites and salt in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until sugar has dissolved.

Pour immediately into stand mixer (or remove from heat and beat using hand mixer) and whisk until it is shiny white and stiff peaks have formed. Let cool.

Switch to the paddle attachment on your stand mixer. Add butter in small cubes (make sure the mixture is completely cool otherwise the butter will melt when added) Beat until a smooth and fluffy buttercream has formed. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

Add a small amount of the pink gel to the buttercream and mix with a spatula. Careful, the gel is very concentrated, you don’t need to use a lot to get a strong color and you can always add more.

Before frosting cakes, flip each over so the “nice side” is up, not the side that was on the bottom of the cake pan.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of the red cake, use a cutting board to help slide the pink layer on top of the red. Repeat and put the white layer on top. Refrigerate between two layers of parchment paper, put a cutting board with some heavy objects on top for around 10 minutes.

Remove from fridge and remove parchment paper. Cut off around half an inch of cake to make clean edges on all sides. Cut into two-inch squares (should make around 20 squares), cleaning the knife between cuts.

If using a piping bag, use a large star-shaped tip or you can put the frosting in a zip lock bag and cut off the end to form a tip.

While squeezing the bag, pipe frosting onto the cake in a small circular motion to create a small dollop of frosting. Top it off by inserting an unwrapped heart-shaped lollipop (or any pink or red lollipop) in the center of the cake.

Posted on February 6, 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

Coconut Rice Cakes

Yield:
20 cakes

SONY DSCA few weeks ago I wrote about a delicious coconut rice cake we tasted while vacationing on the island of St. John. And this weekend I finally got the chance to recreate them! I often make wild mushroom risotto balls, but this was a new sort of rice endeavor. Arborio rice, which you use to make risotto, has a lot of starch and so when you form it into balls for frying, it sticks together very easily. Basmati (or jasmine) rice is less starchy and requires a bit more elbow grease to ensure proper sticking. I like to keep a small bowl of cold water on hand to wet my hands while patting, the same as you might do while forming matzah balls.

This recipe does take a bit of time but it is delicious and something different especially to serve for guests or on a special occasion. And best of all? It’s pareve!

Serve it with a spicy Pineapple Salsa like this one from Two Peas and their Pod or a Mango Chutney like this one from Alton Brown for a lovely appetizer. Or serve it as a side dish along side grilled chicken breast, steak or seared salmon.

Coconut Rice Cakes

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp salt

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coconut extract

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Bring coconut milk and water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp olive oil. Add rice and reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and let cook untouched for 20 minutes.

Allow to cook, placing in fridge for at least one hour or up to 48 hours.

Place rice into large mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs, shredded coconut, salt and coconut extract. Mix gently with hands.

In a medium skillet, heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil on medium heat.

Fill small bowl with cold water and another bowl with panko bread crumbs. Wet hands and make form flat rice patties using palms of your hand, packing tightly as you work. Patties should be about 1/4 cup size. Dip each side of the patty into panko bread crumbs,

Fry patties on each side about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from pan and place on wire rack or plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with extra salt while still hot.

Serve while warm.

Posted on February 4, 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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