Monthly Archives: May 2013

Weekly Shabbat Menu

Last week I was looking for a last minute marinade and came up with a brilliant new “everything” marinade for my chicken. I subscribe to the school of ziploc bag marinating which is easy and is my fool-proof method to ensure flavorful, moist roast chicken. And as I was trying to figure out what to marinate my chicken with, I just decided to throw all my favorite ingredients into the ziploc bag for my chicken.

Well lo and behold – it was so good that I knew I needed to recreate it! Here’s my recipe that marinates 2 whole chickens: 1 can of beer, 1/4 cup dijon or whole grain mustard, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp horseradish, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk all ingredients together and pour half over each chicken. Place chicken and marinade in plastic ziploc bag and allow to marinate overnight.

I also came across this recipe for creamy Hearts of Palm and Avocado salad, a perfect Summery side dish.

Want to make an all-in-one perfect chicken and veggies? Check out this gorgeous recipe from our friend Amy at What Jew Wanna Eat for Shabbat Chicken with Spring Vegetables.

spring chicken

I am a bit obsessed with the combination of lemon and za’atar on potatoes, so for yet another week I will be making my Za’atar Roasted Potatoes with an extra squeeze of lemon on top.

We are hosting a dessert party this Sunday in honor of my daughter’s first birthday (hold tight – pictures coming next week!) so I actually decided to forgo dessert this evening in favor of some fruit. I know, this is very unlike me, but after all, summer is upon us, and therefore less clothing…eek! I can skip dessert every once in awhile. As I am writing this I am questioning this decision, but hopefully I can stick with it.

But if you are looking for a perfect pareve summer dessert, look no further than this Strawberry Lemon Granita recipe, which doesn’t require any special equipment like an ice cream maker. So refreshing, sweet and simple to make!

And how could we have Shabbat without some challah!? Shabbat Shalom everyone and happy cooking!




Posted on May 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

Ultimate Kosher Burgers

4 servings

I spend, what some may consider, an unhealthy amount of time thinking about food, and how to make kosher versions of unkosher favorites. As Summertime approaches, I have been thinking a lot of about: hamburgers! Or perhaps more accurately, how absolutely mouth-watering delicious a cheeseburger looks. Alas, kashrut.

There is no way to recreate a kosher cheeseburger, and I simply don’t count soy cheese on top of a beef burger as a viable option. But I did want to explore a more creative way to make an amazing kosher burger.


Last week I wrote about making burgers for Shabbat and topping them with The Pioneer Woman’s Onion Strings. But as I was prepping my ingredients, I decided to shift strategy. I called my husband, who graciously stopped by our favorite butcher to grab a bag of chicken skin for me to whip up a batch of gribenes!

I know, gribenes is not healthy. It is far from heart-friendly, or waist-friendly. And I don’t advocate for making it more than once or twice a year max. But it is delicious. A Jewish version of pork rinds I always like to say.

How to make gribenes? Cut chicken skin into medium size strips. I don’t like cutting them too small, I like a larger piece of skin to crunch on. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add a scant tsp of oil or chicken fat (schmaltz) into the pan. Add chicken skin and saute 20-25 minutes, scraping frequently with spatula or wooden spoon to avoid  the skin sticking or burning.

When skin is a deep brown and appears crispy, remove with slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt.

So what did I decide should go on the ultimate kosher burger? Iceberg lettuce for a refreshing crunch, avocado for richness, spicy mayo, grilled pastrami and gribenes. And the combination of creamy, salty, crispy and spicy was the perfect way to enjoy a cheese-less burger. My husband gobbled his up so fast I barely noticed he ate it!

I am usually my own harshest critic, but even I had to admit: I had created a masterpiece, kosher or not.

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Ultimate Kosher Burgers


1 1/2 lb ground beef

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 avocado, sliced

2 cups shredded lettuce

8 slices thinly sliced pastrami

3/4 cup gribenes

For spicy mayo:

1/2 cup mayonaise

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp sriracha or hot sauce

1 Tbsp horseradish

1 tsp spicy brown mustard


Divide beef into four equal parts. Use food scale if you want to be exact. Form meat into four patties and lay out on a platter.

In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Sprinkle liberally on one side of burgers.

Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place burgers seasoning side down. Cook 5 minutes on first side. While burgers are cooking, sprinkle the other side with seasoned salt.

Flip burgers and cook another 3-4 minutes for medium burgers. Another 5-6 minutes for more well-done burgers. While cooking burgers, grill slices of pastrami for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crispy. Remove from heat and place on paper towel to remove and excess grease.

To make the spicy mayo, whisk together mayo, ketchup, hot sauce, horseradish and mustard,

To assemble burgers, spread around 1-2 tsp of spicy mayo on each side of bun. Place shredded iceberg on bottom bun. Place burger on top of iceberg.

Top burger with grilled pastrami, avocado and gribenes. Place bun on top.

Posted on May 29, 2013

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Berry Crumble Pie

2 pies

When the summer months arrive there is nothing more that I love than baking with fresh berries. There is a constant debate in my house of berry pie vs. berry crumble. See I love berry crumbles – the lightness of the berries with the crunchy sweet toppings while my husband tends to prefer the classic berry pie.

I finally decided I had to merge the two if I was going to be happy and keep my husband happy at the same. The result was nothing short of amazing. I mean, what is not to love about pie crust on the bottom filled with fresh berries, and topped with melt-in-your-mouth crumble? When served at a dairy meal or a late night snack, top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.berry crumble pie1

This recipe makes two pies – and trust me, it is so good you will want to bring one to work, share with friends, or keep it for yourself. This pie also freezes well, so you can put one away for a rainy day.

I know it seems like a lot of steps, but they are all simple and do not take very long. Reuse the bowls along the way for fewer dishes to be washed at the end.



Berry Crumble Pie


For the Crust:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
1 egg

For the Filling:
4 cups mixed berries
2 cups peeled apples cut into small pieces or peaches
zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

For the Crumble Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter or margarine, at room temperature


For the pie crust mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Cut in the shortening. In a second bowl, mix together the water, vinegar and egg. Mix wet ingredients into flour mixture. Divide into two equal pieces. Roll out pie crust in (two) pie tins.

For the filling, mix all together in a bowl split between two pies crusts.

For the crumble topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oats, and butter in a bowl.

Combine until the mixture resembles large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.

Bake pies for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Posted on May 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 for Memorial Day

Doesn’t it seem like Memorial Day has arrived a bit early this year!? We are barely past Shavuot and now a wonderful three day weekend looms before us.

I love a meal with a summery barbecue or picnic theme, and so what better cuisine to serve for a Shabbat meal over Memorial Day? In fact I am going to use Shabbat dinner this week to try out a new recipe: ultimate burgers with spicy mayo, avocado and onion straws, which I have never tried before. I am planning to use none other than The Pioneer Woman’s Onion Strings recipe but I will be replacing the buttermilk with coconut milk and adding a Tbsp of white vinegar. I mean, look at these gorgeous fried onions – who wouldn’t want to top a juicy burger with these:

onion straws

My other suggestions for a BBQ themed shabbat dinner?

How about one of these refreshing Watermelon Martinis to kick off dinner and the long weekend.

One of my new favorite recipes to make is this Horseradish Coleslaw, which no matter how much I make, my husband keeps asking for more. It’s a tangy, slightly spicy take on classic coleslaw.

A simple salad like this Cucumber Tomato Salad, from The Blond Cook, can go a long way if you are serving a slightly heavier entree. Have leftovers? Serve it the next day for lunch with some crumbled feta on top. Another great side dish to serve with a heavier meal that can do double duty for lunch the next day is this bright and colorful Mediterranean Pasta Salad from Leah Cooks Kosher.

Nothing says BBQ like some ribs, right? How about these Barbecue Beef Ribs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce from The Overtime Cook. Looking to save time but still want a great main dish to serve? Try these Ribs in a Crock Pot from Little B Cooks.

Last but not least: dessert! Go simple and beautiful with these Fruit Skewars with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

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




Posted on May 23, 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

Mastering the Six Braid Challah

I have spent a long time working on my challah – the consistency, baking time, different flavors. And for me it has always been about the taste, not about the look. But, everyone knows we eat as much with our eyes and nose as we do with our mouth, so I felt it was about time I put forth some effort to perfect my challah braiding.

When I began this endeavor I had only used three techniques for braiding: simple three strand braid (below), a knotted challah roll and a round six-braid challah for holidays that a lovely lady named Chayie Chinn taught me years ago using play-do!


But I was determined to master a six braid challah, what I consider the prettiest of all the challah shapes.

The Shiksa, one of my favorite bloggers, has a whole tutorial about braiding different kinds of challah which you can check out here. But truth be told (sorry Tori!) I didn’t love her suggestion for a six braid challah, and so after practicing with her instructions I was still in search of a technique (and a virtual teacher) that would give me the beautiful, uniform-shaped challahs I was looking for.

Finally after some google searching late one night, I came across this video from Maya Sprague which seemed to have the kind of directions I was seeking – step by step, and a braiding technique slightly different than some others.

It was confusing at first to follow along, so I recommend having everything you will need at hand, including your laptop or ipad. I pressed pause a lot, and rewound to make sure I was crossing over the correct strand. After a few tries I was definitely getting into the rhythm. I hope with some more practice this technique will become like second nature to me!

Now I know everyone has a different recipe, and a different way of shaping challahs, so I am a big believer in whatever works for you. And this is what worked for me, so thank you Maya for your awesome directions! Your challot are stunning.

Check out my gorgeous six braid challahs from last week! Do you have challah braiding tips? We want to know! Post your best tips below.


Posted on May 21, 2013

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Happy Birthday to the Ultimate Nosher

prego nosherLast year at this time, well, I was significantly larger as you can see. Our daughter was due to arrive around May 14th, mere days before my 30th birthday. While I was eager for our new addition to come out, I was also determined to celebrate my 30th birthday sans the new baby. Little did I know that our lady would hang on for another two weeks! But that’s another story.

As I milled around at home waiting for the contractions to start, I figured that I might as well bake myself a birthday cake. And so I did.

If you have never tasted anything from Momofuku Milk Bar, or haven’t seen Christina Tosi’s genius cookbook well then it is definitely time. Her desserts are so unique, many of them with a salty-sweet element that is precisely my cup of tea. So for my 30th birthday I decided I wanted to make her version of classic birthday cake. It is one of the best cake recipes I have ever made or eaten, which I cannot even attribute to my heightened pregnancy taste buds.

This year I made it again for my husband’s birthday and expanded on the decoration with my own twist:

birthday cake for jgo

As this year’s birthday rolled around, a rather uneventful-feeling #31, I decided that making my own birthday cake should be an annual event. And once again, I did.

My birthday also coincided with Shavuot this year, so it was the perfect chance to combine my love of a daiy-centric holiday with a decadent birthday cake.

Those of you who read The Nosher regularly must know by now that my absolute favorite go-to dessert is this Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe, which I usually make pareve my substituting the milk for coconut or almond milk and bake in a bundt pan. But with Shavuot, there was no substitution needed – how nice! However, I wanted this cake to have a mocha flavor, so I substituted the 1 cup of water for 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee.

To compliment the mocha cake flavor, I made this kahlua cream cheese frosting from Lovin From the Oven, and what a hit! I love love love kahlua, and this rich frosting paired perfectly with my mocha cake.

Topped with some oreo crumbs and crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans and voila: my mocha chocolate kahlua cake! Happy Birthday to me, the ultimate nosher! We all deserve a little cake for our birthdays, so I say, let us eat cake!

mocha chocolate cake

Posted on May 17, 2013

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Shavuot Recipe Picks

And finallyblintzes3 we get to one of my favorite Jewish holidays to cook for: Shavuot. I love making dairy meals, and even more than the meal itself, I love making dairy dessert!

I like to balance the richness of dairy-heavy meals with light salads such as this Fennel Celery Salad or this Spinach Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese.

Here are some of my favorite dairy-rific recipes to enjoy this Shavuot. My top pick: definitely the salted caramel ice cream – it’s so rich and creamy you can eat a small serving and feel satisfied. Then again, no harm in having a slightly larger serving either.

Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Salad from Naturally Ella

Cream of Green Pea soup

Classic Cheese Blintzes

NEW Baked Ziti Cupcakes

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Mascarpone


Mini Black Bottom Cheesecakes

Maple Sour Cream Bundt Cake from The Overtime Cook

Salted Caramel Ice Cream


Posted on May 13, 2013

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Baked Ziti Cupcakes

8 servings

A few months ago I was having lunch at my favorite Midtown NYC pizza spot – Pizza By Cer Te (no, it’s not kosher sorry) when I witnessed a culinary treat never before seen: a “lasagna cupcake.” I was determined to recreate this creative morsel, and I thought what better time than for Shavuot when it is traditional to eat dairy!


I love serving dairy meals, a bone of contention between me and my husband, who would prefer to consume meat at most meals. I even hosted a Shabbat  dinner for my birthday a few years ago where everyone was challenged with bringing a dish that included my favorite ingredient: mascarpone. It was super dairy-rific and fun to see the creative ways people incorporated the creamy, Italian cream cheese into dishes like artichoke dip and lasagna.

This recipe was super easy to prepare, but looks cute and impressive. Truth be told, the most challenging part was locating these aluminum cups, which I bought at a special baking supplies store. You can also use individual ramekins, or even bake them in muffin pans and remove them once baked.


The best way to serve these if you aren’t serving them right away is to wait to pipe on the cream cheese-ricotta mixture until ready to serve. First, reheat the ziti cupcakes until heated through. Once heated, pipe the ricotta-cream cheese mixture and pop back in the oven or preferably under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with dried or fresh basil and serve!

Happy cooking!

Baked Ziti Cupcakes


For the baked ziti:

1/2 lb penne or ziti pasta

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp minced garlic

1 cup plus extra tomato sauce

For the "frosting":

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

2 ounces cream cheese, softened


In a large pot bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta as directed, around 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, beaten egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once pasta is drained, add sauce, pasta into the cheese mixture and mix together. This doesn't have to be totally incorporated, in fact, its better if not.

Spray each aluminum cup or ramekin with cooking spray.

Place pasta mixture into each cup until it reaches just the top of the cup.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Add extra sauce if desired.

When ready to serve, mix ricotta with cream cheese in small bowl. Place mixture into piping bag or large ziploc bag. Snip the end of the piping bag or the tip of the ziploc bag and pipe ricotta mixture on top of ziti cups in a switl pattern.

Place cups under broiler or in oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is set, but before the cheese starts to melt too much.

Sprinkle top with fresh or dried basil and serve.

Posted on May 8, 2013

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Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas

Brunch is just about the best meal of the week. Brunch is lazy. Brunch is enjoyed with the best people in your life – your partner, your dog, your kids, or your best girlfriends. Brunch is hearty, delicate and boozy all at the same time. And I personally love making brunch as much as I like going out to brunch.

sweet potato pancakesThe perfect brunch has something sweet, something salty and something delicious to drink like strongly brewed coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. A bloody mary or mimosa doesn’t hurt either. I always try to serve one baked item, such as a muffin or scone’; something with eggs, like poaches eggs over latkes or a quiche; a nice big fruit salad; orange juice and coffee.

Here are some of my tried-and-true favorite brunch recipes perfect to make for the special mother in your life:

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Scones from Food52

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Bon Apetit. I like to replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. I also add 1 Tbsp flax seed to the dry ingredients.

banana chocolate chip muffins

Madame Croque Muffins from Rachel Khoo I love this recipe and make it over and over again – just leave out the ham to make it kosher. No one will ever know that you altered the recipe.

Sweet potato pancakes

Asparagus Leek and Gruyere Quiche from Martha Stewart

Smoked Salmon Breakfast Latkes from The Nosher! One of my favorite interpretations of Jewish food.

blueberry ricotta scones

Posted on May 7, 2013

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Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad

4-6 servings

Salads can be boring. In fact, every time I try to eat a salad for lunch I feel disappointed – like an opportunity for something delicious has been robbed from me. Which is why I am the queen of fun salads in my house, and am always looking to create new ways to put together my favorite fruits, veggies and nuts.

This is a recipe I haven’t made for YEARS but thought it was time to bring it back into the rotation, especially in time for Shavuot! You can serve this as a side salad for any dairy meal, and it’s perfect for a Shabbat lunch dish. Want to make it into a full meal? Serve it with some simply grilled or poached salmon and you are sure to feel some salad salmon satisfaction. Want to serve it with a meat meal? Just leave off the goat cheese!


I like making my own dressing, but you don’t have to – just pour on your favorite bottled dressing or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad


For the salad:

1 package pre-washed spinach

1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup chopped seedless cucumber

1/2 cup shelled edamame

1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

For the dressing:

2 tsp whole grain or dijon mustard

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper


Place spinach leaves in large bowl. Add blueberries, cucumber, edamame, goat cheese and macadamia nuts.

In a small bowl combine mustard, lemon juice, honey, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil and whisk until dressing comes together.


Posted on May 3, 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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