Monthly Archives: September 2013

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries

Yield:
1 dozen cookies

The chagim are over, it’s back to school, back to work and officially Autumn. It’s also the perfect time to enjoy some classic cookies now that holiday cooking and baking can be put aside.

A good cookie recipe is hard to come by, but when I found this recipe for Oatmeal cookies I truly fell in love. You can keep them plain, add classic raisins, or like in my version below, add a twist with some chocolate chips and dried cherries! I have also used golden raisins and dried cranberries, but you can really do a little cookie improv based on your own tastes.

Another great part of this recipe – they can be made pareve or dairy! I almost always prefer to bake with butter, but I have made this recipe countless times with pareve margarine and the cookies come out great!

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Pro tip: to bring out the sweetness of cookies don’t forget the salt! Combine 1/2 Tbsp thick sea salt with 1/2 Tbsp sanding sugar and sprinkle just a pinch on each cookie. The sanding sugar with make the cookies look beautiful and the salt will really add a depth of flavor and bring out the cookie’s sweetness.

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cherries

Posted on September 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

Bagels ‘N Lox Salad

Yield:
6 servings

After a few months of gluten-free, lean-protein, low-carb, whole-grain, raw-food living, the taste buds may begin to cry out indignantly: “Why does everything taste the same? Why do we have to be so healthy? Why can’t we have pizza?  If we have to eat another leafy green salad dressed in olive oil and vinegar we’re going revolt!

Brown rice and beans is just so darn easy to prepareand so is oatmeal And shaking up a weekly jar of olive oil vinaigrette is no big deal. The wholesome dishes have been a habit for me, but has removed the guesswork, creatiity and flavor after so long. It is health-conscious eating, but mindful masticating?

Something had to give. At a recent Sunday Brunch party inspired by memories of thinly sliced smoked salmon and lox, baskets of bagel and tubs of cream cheeses, I was inspired to create this Bagels ‘N Lox Salad.

bagelz n lox salad1

It began as many meals had with a layer of the leafy green-of-choice. But then it really started to get good with a few boiled new potatoes tossed in for a tender bite and some toothsome heft. Salty-oily slivers of smoked salmon or lox draped loosely on the leafy bed. Thin ribbons of sweet-tangy pickled red onions layered on more color and exciting flavor. A scattering of capers for even more salty taste. And then a few well-toasted pumpernickel squares added in for a pleasing crunch.  It all ended tastily with a piquant drizzle of horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing (the dedicated health-nuts can easily substitute Greek yogurt).

It might not be as high on the health-o-meter as steel-cut oatmeal or brown rice and beans, but it’s still in keeping with the balanced eating regime. Sometimes we just need some Jewish love in the form of a flavor.

Bagels 'N Lox Salad

Posted on September 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

Pumpkin Corn Ricotta Enchiladas

Prep:
30 minutes

Cook:
25 minutes

Yield:
4 servings

If you don’t love the fall, well, you may want to examine your sanity. I can think of few things that are better than a crisp fall day with sun shining, leaves turning and the faint scent of spiced cider in the air. I love fall jackets, apple picking and just about ANYTHING made with pumpkins.

SONY DSCEach year I add a new set of dishes to my fall flavors repertoire, which very often combines pumpkin, sweet potato or squash and some kind of cheese. In years past I have created Pumpkin Lasagna, Mac ‘n Sweet Potato Cheesy Sauce and even Pumpkin Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fried Shallots. The Nosher even has a recipe for Pumpkin Challah!

The first pumpkin dish of my Autumn might seem like a weird combination, but I assure you it is savory, satisfying and delicious – Pumpkin Corn Ricotta Enchiladas! This recipe was inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite blogs called “Naturally Ella” which features seasonal, vegetarian food that always looks beautiful and delicious. Erin’s Roasted Corn Ricotta Enchiladas with Chipotle Tomato Sauce easily morphed into my version using pumpkin puree and a short-cut using canned tomato sauce.enchiladas1

This is a great dish to make on a Sunday to eat for dinner during the week, or even for a dairy lunch during Sukkot. After all – enchiladas are “stuffed’ making this (almost) traditional for the festival holiday.

Pumpkin Corn & Ricotta Enchiladas

Posted on September 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

Stuffed Apples for Sukkot

Did you know that it is traditional to eat stuffed foods on Sukkot?

Originally, I thought it was just because they tasted good. Not quite content, I did a little bit of research and came up with a few answers.

Some say that we eat stuffed cabbage on Simchat Torah because if you put two of these bundles together they look the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.

This answer didn’t thrill me because two store-bought dinner rolls have the same effect, except they don’t require, blood, sweat, and tears to serve them.

A bit more digging and I uncovered another answer: we eat stuffed foods because they symbolize an overwhelming bounty. Fall is when farmers harvest wheat in Israel. A simple vegetable overflowing with delicious filling reminds us of our desire for a year of overflowing harvest.

In biblical times, farmers would put collecting their crops on hold to sit in a sukkah with their family and celebrate Sukkot. Sitting out on the field studying Torah with their children, these farmers were surrounded by two great desires; one, that this year’s harvest would be plentiful and two that like those vegetables, their year would be bursting with moments like that one, doing what they loved most, studying Torah with who they loved most.

In the year 2013, when most of us do not run out to cut wheat, and the closest thing we’ve done to harvesting is scope out sales at the mall, I think it’s time to give this ancient tradition a modern twist – and what better than with dessert!

stuffed apples

This is a healthy autumn dessert that helps you stick to your new year resolutions. Or you can serve it with a side of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. My favorite part about this recipe is that if I somehow end up with leftovers, I can have dessert for breakfast without even the slightest bit of guilt!

Posted on September 17, 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

What the EZ Squirt Ketchup Flop Says About Coloring Our Foods

Recently a friend informed me, via Slate.com, that the éclair “has surpassed the macaron as the most buzzed about Parisian bonbon of the moment.” (Right, totally. I knew that.) But this isn’t your Parisian grandma’s éclair, missy! It has been fancified with trendy flavors and inventive toppings and, most notably, bold bright colors that would make Crayola proud.

multi colored eclairs

The very same week I went into Nussbaum and Wu’s on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to find trays of “Black and White” cookies in different colors. Besides the fact that there was something funny and now  “inaccurate” about these pink and white, or green and white cookies labeled “Black and Whites,” they caught my attention, especially after hearing of the “new” éclair.

colored black and white cookie

Now, I am not sure how I feel about the éclair of 2013. Or, to a lesser extent, this updating of what many might call “the official cookie of New York,” (which is expected to appear as its names suggests). How far can one veer from an original, from tradition, before you have created something entirely new? Not to mention, these modern éclairs seem to be yet another big city chef’s way of sparking buzz and the salivary glands of local foodies and Instagrammers with what really is something rather common and usually inexpensive—in this case, a sexed-up Euro Boston cream donut (though, I can think of plenty of others: popsicles, cupcakes, rice krispie treats, actual donuts).

Still it seems worthwhile to ponder how color is used to represent innovation and “newness,” especially in the food world. Of course color is important elsewhere. Namely in the fashion world—depending on the season or designer, the “hot look” is either bright colors, no color, or a particular color; and, most apropos of today, in the tech/gadget industry, as just last week the usually monochromatic innovators at Apple unveiled its forthcoming release of two different iPhones—a cheaper version, the 5C, that comes in five bright plastic colors, and a more expensive version, the 5S, that comes in a selection of metallic colors. (Side thought: who decided that “cheaper” equals a children’s paint set, and that those who are willing to pay more, would necessarily want, well, the more boring kind?)

But back to food. Considering that often the colors of an edible object are one of the first ways in which we not only recognize it, connect to our own memories and experiences, and decide if we, in fact, want to consume it, I am surprised any culinary team (of one, or many) ventures to mess with color at all!  Especially since it is far from predictable when an unusual color will work and when it will not work.  Green (and purple) absolutely did not fly for Heinz ketchup consumers in 2000 when almost nobody jumped on board the EZ Squirt train! Conversely, lack of color is also off-putting, or at least, not very lucrative as Pepsi found when they introduced the world to Crystal Pepsi.

ezsquirtBut why? Are we simply slaves to the intersection of tradition, custom, and current trends (be they global or social or cultural)? Bright purple ketchup? No thanks. Black “forbidden” rice and blue potatoes? Sure, for some. Lime green luxury car? Probably not. Electric yellow shoes? Well, at least Beyoncé gives a hell yeah! Can we even compare how color is used and interpreted across all aspects of life?

There might also be a current competing trend in the realm of color and food: to go natural. If Chipotle wants to sell you on its beliefs that fast food doesn’t have to be based on poor quality ingredients or conventional agriculture and production they want a tomato to look exactly like what you expect a tomato to look like (not to mention the whole burrito)! Countless products and other companies count on the fact that the absence of dyes and bright colors are often the visual marks of products labeled with words like “organic,” “artisan,” or “healthy,” and hence the visual cue to the consumer to buy said products based on these claims.

But still sometimes “recoloring” or unexpected color is a success. And maybe desserts, and especially the elevated dessert trend, can more readily get away with something that otherwise goes against our other (better) decisions, and general common sense. I mean, what on earth does common sense have to do with the nutritionally-unnecessary but wildly enjoyable black and white (or mint green and white) cookie? Nothing!

Posted on September 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

Yom Kippur Break-Fast Menu

Is there anything worse for a food blogger than fasting? It is perhaps the fasting that makes Yom Kippur that much more difficult, and more meaningful too. Thank goodness I have the break-fast menu to plan in order to keep my food-obsessed mind occupied.

I like to keep my break-fast menu pretty simple: bagels, cream cheese, fresh fruit, coffee (of course), a nice green salad and something warm and cheesy like blintzes or a dairy noodle kugel – things that can be prepared ahead of time and served quickly immediately after sundown.

Here are some of our favorite picks for easy and satisfying post-fast dishes that are sure to leave you in a contented, post-Yom Kippur food coma:

Israeli salad

Labane

Pickled Cauliflower

Israeli Salad

Stuffed Dates

Homemade Gravlax

bagel w cream cheese

Custom Cream Cheese

Homemade Bagels

Spinach, Blueberry and Goat Cheese Salad

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Spinach and Cheese Borekas

Dairy Lokshen (Noodle) Kugel

Classic Blintzes

Strawberry Rhubarb Blintzes

Posted on September 12, 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

Forgotten Fat and Gluten-Free Baking: Two New Cookbooks

‘Tis the season of endless Jewish holidays, back to school frenzy, an abundance of apples…and also niche Jewish cookbooks. With the releases of The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat and Nosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish American Kitchen we add two fascinating but narrowly focused cookbooks to the collection.

I love schmaltz, and so I was pretty excited to receive a copy of The Book of Schmaltz. You should know: I keep several kinds of schmaltz in my freezer at any given moment, and love to find ways to incorporate it into a variety of dishes, so this book couldn’t be more perfect for a fat-lovin’ gal like me.

schmaltz1The book contains recipes for all the classics you would expect including traditional chopped liver, chicken soup with matzo balls, and kreplach. Some of the more surprising recipes included in the book are schmaltz-roasted potatoes with onion and rosemary, chicken sausage and even oatmeal cookies with dried cherries (I will be trying this recipe very soon).

Ever heard of helzel? Well I hadn’t until I saw it listed under “Traditional Recipes.” Ruhlman’s version calls for stuffing kiskhe into chicken skin – yum! Though when my husband and I called the grandmothers to consult about this long–lost dish we heard that their versions of traditional helzel was prepared by stuffing a turkey neck. In fact, my Grandma Phoebe shared that her grandmother (my great-great grandmother) would include helzel in her weekly Shabbat cholent .

But before James Beard Award-winning author Michael Ruhlman gets into the recipes themselves, he actually gives a easy-to-follow guide to making your own homemade, perfectly rendered chicken fat – very useful indeed especially for the schmaltz virgin.

schmaltz_010713_620px

What a great gift for any of your family or friends who loves traditional Ashkenazi fare and isn’t afraid a little fat.

The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat, Michael Ruhlman and Donna Turner Ruhlman, (August 2013)

Schmaltz is not the only ingredient I gush over: I also gush for gluten. I have written before about my distaste for the gluten-free fad we are currently experiencing. But I do feel for my fellow gluten lovers who are unable to consume gluten-laden products due to medical reasons, which includes authors Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel, two bakers dedicated to high-quality gluten-free baked goods. Their cookbook Nosh on This was also just released.

Nosh-on-This.Cover600In the book’s foreword, fellow cookbook author Arthur Schwartz writes:

“The tragic irony is that we Jews are a people with an extensive repertoire of high-gluten delicacies, many of which we regard as cultural icons. We even have special prayers that we say before eating pastry.”

I never thought of it in this way but it is true: we are a people who value breads and sweets. So what is a gluten-free Jew to do!? In Lisa Stanger-Horel and Tim Horel’s case, they perfected a wide range of baked goods including Jewish classics like chocolate babka, honey cake, challah, rugelach and hamantaschen. Some other stand-outs? “Marizipany Gooey Brownies,” apple pie, and even éclairs and tiramisu.

Love eating matzo at Passover but can’t handle the gluten? They’ve got a recipe for that too.

For the Jewish baker the ultimate compliment is always, “it’s so good, it doesn’t even taste pareve.” These recipes look as mouth-watering as their gluten-laden counterparts. What a wonderful cookbook for the baker in your life who needs to stay away from gluten.

Nosh on This: Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish American Kitchen, Lisa Stander-Horel and Tim Horel (September 3, 2013)

Posted on September 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

Homemade Gravlax for Yom Kippur Break Fast

Prep:
20 minutes

Cook:
Curing time: 3-4 days

In Full Moon Feast, Jessica Prentice guides us through 13 lunar months and the foods grown and prepared within them in traditional cultures. At its core is the idea that food connects people to one another, to themselves, and to the natural world. Prentice describes the lifecycle of Pacific salmon, who in early autumn are born in freshwater streams, spend their lives in the ocean, and then journey back upstream to their birthplace to spawn the next generation.gravlax1

The salmon’s natural lifecycle provides a metaphor for this time of year, when we are engrossed in our own “return.” On the High Holidays, we do teshuva, which is often translated as “repentance,” but literally means “return.” We return to ourselves in order to examine who we are and who we want to be.gravlax2

Eating lox this time of year connects our own process of “teshuva” with salmon’s seasonal “return.” If you have never cured your own lox before, give this recipe a try, for Yom Kippur break-fast! It doesn’t require any special equipment, and is sure to delight. Thin slices of this buttery, moist gravlax will be delicious on your post-fast bagel or on a slice of homemade gluten-free challah. It tastes like no lox you have ever eaten before.gravlax3

Wild Salmon Gravlax, adapted from Aquavit's gravlax recipe

Posted on September 8, 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

Pomegranate Truffles

Yield:
20 truffles


Pomegranate truffles are a popular dessert in my Rosh Hashanah table. Persians are addicted to pomegranates; they even use pomegranates in stew! Hence, it seemed logical to use them for dessert as well. I love how tangy and sweet these truffles are, not to mention how well they go with a cup of tea (instead of using sugar).

pom truffles

I am proud that pomegranates are native of Persia – they are packed with nutritional value and antioxidants that protect against cellular damage. Mulberries, my husband’s favorite dried fruit, are a great source of iron and vitamin C. They also have an antioxidant present in red wine that has the potential of promoting a healthy heart. Hence, these truffles are not only absolutely fabulous to taste but packed with superfood qualities!

Pomegranate Truffles

Posted on September 2, 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

Our Complete Rosh Hashanah Menu

If you’re anything like me and my family, you’re probably in denial about the fact that Rosh Hashanah is mere days away.

But don’t fear. You can enjoy these last days on the beach, long Sunday mornings with the paper, and weekend brunches, because we’ve done the thinking for you. Check out our complete Rosh Hashanah menu including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options for each course of the meal. Click through the slideshow, see our recipes below, and start making your shopping lists.

Still concerned? Leave us your last-minute Rosh Hashanah questions in the comments or on our Facebook page! I’ll answer a selection of them on Tuesday, just in time to head off the last-minute panic.

First Course

Traditional Chicken Soup

Sweet n Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Vegetarian “Chicken” Soup

Beet Chips with Spicy Honey Mayo

Balsamic Apple Date Challah

Chopped Liver

Entrees

Grilled Chicken with Apple Salsa

Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate Sauce

Traditional Sweet Brisket

Pomegranate Brisket with Cranberry Succotash

Pomegranate Chicken

Roasted Beet and Leek Risotto

Side Dishes

White Wine Braised Leeks

Green Beans with Tahini

Black Eyed Peas with Tumeric and Pomegranate

Apple Pear Cranberry Kugel

Gluten Free Apple Kugel

Tzimmes with Kneidlach

Desserts

Tayglach

Apple Sauce Souffle Bread Pudding

Honey Pomegranate Cake

Gluten-Free Apple Cake

Vegan Honey Cake

Pomegranate Date Bars

View all

Posted on September 1, 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