I had not even heard of Tu Bishvat until college when I attended a seder celebrating the holiday. And while it may sound a bit crunchy to celebrate a holiday for the trees, nuts and fruit, it comes at a time in our lives as modern Jews when appreciating our natural resources and the environment is more important than ever.
You can host a full-on seder, or also just take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge our relationship to the land. You can even make a batch of fruit-filled sangria, though my daughter and I decided to try our hand this year at chewy granola bars packed with dried fruit and almonds in honor of Tu Bishvat. We chose to use a combination of dried cherries, blueberries and raisins, though you could use any combo of dried fruit that you like.
This recipe was inspired by this version from Alton Brown.
2 cups oats
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mixed dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 square pan.
Spread the oats and sunflower seeds out on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.
Meanwhile heat butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar has completely melted.
Once the oats and sunflower seeds are done toasting, remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Place oats, sunflower seeds, flax seed, cinnamon, salt, almonds and dried fruit into a large bowl. Add melted butter-sugar mixture and combine until completely coated.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly using an offset spatula. This step is important to ensuring even granola bars.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.
Every year when I work on a new recipe in preparation for Superbowl Sunday, I write and reflect on the same fact: I have zero interest in football, but I just love Superbowl snacks. Potato skins. Nachos. Chicken wings. Brisket sliders. All the most delicious and unhealthy bites you can imagine.
I love breaking out my deep fryer for a batch of wings, but it can be time consuming and even a bit messy. Sometimes, you just don’t want a layer of oil all over your kitchen, ya know?
One of the reasons I love this recipe so much, aside from how delicious and fun it is, is that you can improvise to make it any way you like: make a super spicy coleslaw, or your family’s favorite recipe for coleslaw, add corned beef and pastrami, or swap out the regular fries for some sweet potato fries or even tater tots.
You can also make it easy on yourself and just buy a bag of frozen fries. Prepare them as directed and top with chopped corned beef, coleslaw and Russian dressing. No one will be the wiser, and maybe your kitchen will remain that much cleaner. You can also buy Russian dressing, or make your own. I like using this recipe, I just omit the onion.
5 large Idaho potatoes
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb chopped, sliced corned beef
1 bag prepared shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp horseradish (optional)
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 batch prepared Russian dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on two baking sheets.
Bake until crisp, around 40 minutes, or to your liking.
While potatoes are cooking, prepare the coleslaw. Whisk together mayo, white vinegar, sugar, horseradish (if desired), salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cabbage and toss until completely coated.
Heat up corned beef in oven or microwave briefly.
Pile fries on a platter and add warm corned beef, about half the coleslaw and prepared Russian dressing. Serve while warm.
The past few weeks have felt like a whirlwind of packing, unpacking, eating, and then packing again. My daughter and I spent the last two weeks of 2014 in Los Angeles, spending time with some of my family, attending a dear friend’s wedding and what else: eating. And we got the chance to eat some pretty great stuff.
On of our most important goals in LA was to sample some divine donuts, and I can happily say, we were successful. One of our favorite spots? Donut Friend in Glendale that features largely vegan doughnuts. I was skeptical, but they were delicious, beautiful to look at and the flavors were very creative. We even got to try a vegan “bacon” doughnut made from coconut bacon chips.
I got to spend a glorious morning chatting, noshing and baking with Nosher contributor Jennifer Stempel right in her Los Angeles home. Our goal, in addition to talking all things food and family, was to try and re-create the guava and cheese pastries from the famous Cuban bakery Portos. It was such a fun exercise and in the end, we got incredibly close to remaking the original. It also inspired a new recipe from Jennifer for a savory version of her beloved pastry, manchego and quince turnovers. Yum!
Here we are taking a selfie in her kitchen. We are pretty adorable.
Other LA highlights? We visited the famous Canter’s Deli, which opened its doors in 1931! My brother wanted to go because the eatery is featured in an episode of Entourage. I was all about their mish mosh soup, which included matzah balls, kreplach, noodles and rice. I will now only only serve soup in this way. We also hit up a newer spot on the recommendation of several friends called Eggslut, a breakfast spot in Grand Central Market in downtown LA. Doughnuts, matzah ball soup and egg sandwiches: an all around successful trip.
And this week? We are lounging and eating from the beaches of Turks and Caicos, an island in the Caribbean. The views, weather and lowkey pace down here have been definite highlights, and we’ve had a few great eats though mostly we have been cooking and grilling from home. Fresh coconuts right from the trees outside mean lots of coconut cocktails.
The best thing I have eaten on the island? Would you believe, of all things, it was a doughnut! The custard filled doughnuts from Caicos Bakery in Grace Bay was one of the best doughnuts I have ever eaten. Perfectly fried and with a dusting of sugar, I would have liked to eat several in one sitting. But I stopped at just one.
Next week I am looking forward to being back home, unpacked and working on some new recipes from my own kitchen again. But for now I think there is a coconut with my name on it. Maybe a doughnut too.
Sometimes the simplest recipes are just the best. So often we try to complicate our lives and our cooking by thinking more is better, and simple can’t be good. But I have recently discovered the secret to the best, nondairy garlic bread to accompany a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s simplicity may shock you. Ok, maybe I am being overly dramatic. It is just garlic bread after all.
Roasted garlic is one of my favorite flavors. I add whole garlic cloves to lots of my dishes – roast chicken, root vegetables and even challah. I love the slight sweetness of roasted garlic, plus it’s a cinch to prepare and it’s super healthy! Garlic has more vitamin c than even orange juice.
Recently I roasted a whole head of garlic, added it to a healthy amount of olive oil and smashed it into a baguette for the simplest, most delicious garlic bread. I didn’t miss the butter, or Parmesan that some garlic bread recipes call for. Ok, maybe I missed the butter a little.
I would serve this crispy bread alongside some traditional Italian meatballs or a cozy bowl of soup. You will see – sometimes delicious doesn’t need to be complicated at all.
one large French-style baguette
2 whole heads of garlic
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place garlic on a baking sheet or in a oven-safe ramekin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35-40 ,minutes, until garlic is completely soft and golden but not crisp.
Allow garlic to cool. You can prepare this step a few hours or a day ahead of time.
Cut baguette in half. Squeeze cloves from bulb and smash with a fork. Add olive oil and continue smashing.
Spread half the garlic mixture on one side of the bread, and the other half of mixture on the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until just crisp and golden. Remove from oven and top with fresh parsley if desired.
It’s a new year, so we’re trying out some new things. We love hearing what you’re eating, and we want to hear more. The same way we inspire you with new recipes and news, you inspire us with what you are cooking at home and eating out all over the country (and around the world).
So starting this first week of 2015, we will be hosting a weekly photo contest to see what you, our wonderful, creative, food-focused readers, are eating.
Each week there will be a new theme to the contest, and the instructions are easy:
- Post a photo of your dish on Twitter, Instagram or on our Facebook page.
- Describe the dish briefly – What is it? Why was it delicious?
- Be sure to use the hashtag #noshthis and tag @JewishFood on Twitter.
Show us your healthful eating for 2015. Not eating healthy this year? No matter, post a pic anyways so we can also enjoy the indulgence.
The winning photo will be featured each week on our Facebook, so get cooking and snapping those pics! We can’t wait.
Photo credit: Liz Reuven
It’s the time of year when every blog and website is putting up their “best of” list. Instead of going through all our recipes from the past year or naming some of the trends of 2014, I wanted to do something a little more fun, and a little more personal: a review of all the crazy challah I created this year.
In the past few months a lot of people have asked, what’s with the challah? Why do you like creating such crazy flavor combinations?
I’ve been baking challah since I was 16 years old, not based on a family recipe I use, but from my own that I have worked on over the last 15+ years. We didn’t have a classic challah on our Shabbat table each week (we didn’t have Shabbat dinner at all), so I don’t bring the same challah baggage as others with stronger challah family traditions. It is perhaps for this reason that I don’t mind throwing caution to the wind, and mashing up the classic challah with a variety of stuffings and flavors to suit my mood or the season.
It’s also in part to my involvement with Pop-Up Shabbat that I have taken on the task of creating more and more challah creations. At these bi-monthly pop-up dinners, a brand new Shabbat dinner menu is created on a specific theme, and I am tasked with creating a corresponding challah recipe. It has been such a fun and challenging exercise that has truly expanded even the way that I think about my beloved bread.
So if you’re ready to expand the way you think about challah, check out one of my unique creations of 2014, or even better: create your own.
Nearly six years ago, my husband (who was then merely a newish boyfriend in my life) took me out for a lovely meal at a hip new restaurant in Washington, DC called Komi. The dinner was amazing, with course after course of Greek-inspired dishes. I couldn’t tell you exactly what we ate that night except for one absolute stand-out appetizer: mascarpone stuffed dates, which were warm out of the oven and served with a perfect sprinkling of thick, flaky sea salt. I was in love with the sweet, savory, creamy bite and went home to try and recreate it.
After several trials, I realized I must be doing something wrong because my mascarpone filling kept oozing out. Still delicious, but it wasn’t quite the recreation I was looking for. I filed the recipe away, and only years later when we went back for another meal at Komi did I try to master the dish once again.
The waiter serving us at our second amazing Komi dinner wasn’t too keen on giving up the secret of the non-oozing mascarpone, but after careful prodding from my husband, we learned that we needed to chill the stuffed dates before baking them to achieve the desired result of a warm date with creamy filling intact. I went home to test it out again, and eureka: it worked.
This dish is one of my favorite appetizers to serve for any kind of party, and great as a small bite with prosecco or other sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve. Or a random Wednesday.
- Make sure to buy the plumpest-looking medjool dates you can find.
- Don’t want to spend your time pitting the dates? Just buy them already pitted.
- You can use a regular Ziploc bag with an end snipped off to fill the dates BUT I recommend using a proper piping bag to get the filling all the way into the bottom of the date more easily.
36 pitted medjool dates (the plumper the better)
4 ounces mascarpone, left at room temperature
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp honey
pinch of salt
Mix mascarpone, Greek yogurt, honey and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Scoop out mixture and place in a piping or ziploc bag.
Squeeze small amount into each date. Repeat with remaining filling and dates.
Place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or tin foil. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 375. While oven is warming up, place dates in freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Bake dates for around 4-6 minutes, until just warm but before filling begins to ooze.
Sprinkle with flaky sea salt such as maldon salt. Serve warm or room temperature.
The holiday season is sort of a strange time for me. Like many American Jews, I grew up celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. When I decided to firmly embrace my Jewish side, I felt like I had to give up Christmas and some of the secular joys of the holiday season. To complicate matters, Christmas reminds me terribly of my mother who passed away when I was sixteen, and so while it is a connection to her, it is a bittersweet memory.
My mom really got into holidays – all holidays – whether it was Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, she was ready with some tacky earrings, decorative salt shakers and surely an ugly sweater or two as well. She loved Christmas music, and from early December through New Year’s we would be subjected to a rotation of possibly the two worst Christmas albums ever made: Johnny Matthis and Amy Grant. I cringe just thinking about those CDs of hers.
Nevertheless, the season is bittersweet as I balance my desire to connect to these memories of my mother, participate in some kind of festive activities while maintaining the strong Jewish identity of my family. I admittedly tread a fine line: baking holiday cookies every year for my husband’s office, (though not in red or green or Santa shapes) listening to The Nutcracker with my daughter and combining the flavors of chocolate and peppermint in various forms to pay homage to the season. After all, should Christians really get to drink all the skinny peppermint mochas at Starbucks!?
Two years ago I started making a chocolate peppermint bundt cake that my husband and I absolutely adored. And while I have been whipping up lots of batches of peppermint hot cocoa for my little one, I wanted to take these flavors to the next level by adding them to, what else: challah.
What makes this challah so special is not only the deep dark chocolate dough, or the melty,chocolate chips inside, but also the super gooey marshmallows dotting the top. When my daughter spotted the finished product her eyes lit up and she wanted to break into the chocolaty masterpiece right away. Who am I to say no, especially when it makes for such an adorable picture. And yes, she is wearing her ballet costume because she had been practicing her Nutcracker dance moves.
It may not be overtly Christmas-y, nor is it exactly what I did with my mother. But somehow creating something new, that touches upon the joy and spirit of the holiday season, brings me comfort, connects me to my past and allows me to create new memories for my family.
1 ½ Tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 ½-5 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp peppermint extract
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
¼ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped peppermint bark or chocolate-mint candies, plus extra
Thick sea salt
In a small bowl, place yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together 1 ½ cups flour, cocoa powder, salt and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil, vanilla and peppermint extract. Mix thoroughly.
Add another 1 cup of flour and eggs + egg yolk and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer. Add chocolate chips and peppermint bark (or other mint candies).
Add another 1 ½- 2 cups of mixed flour, mixing thoroughly and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining ½ cup flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 5 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise at least around 3 hours, punching down at least once if possible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Braid challah into desired shape. Allow challah to rise another 45-60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah.
In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tsp water. Brush egg wash liberally over challah. Sprinkle with additional chopped peppermint bark (or other mint candies) and thick sea salt.
If making one large challah, bake around 27-28 minutes; if making two smaller challahs, bake 24-26 minutes.
When you have around 7-9 minutes left of baking time, working quickly, remove challahs from oven and place marshmallows on top. Finish baking.
Note: if you place marshmallows on top the entire baking time, they will become too melted and run all over the place.
I have long considered myself somewhat a latke expert, with several varieties under my belt, and never a single latke leftover when serving to my friends and family. That is until I had the chance to spend time with Michelin Star Chef Bill Telepan and Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Telepan last week.
Chef Bill Telepan isn’t Jewish, though his latkes might indicate otherwise. In truth, Bill grew up in suburban New Jersey eating potato pancakes every holiday season prepared by his Hungarian mother. He carries this tradition on with his own family, serving up a big Christmas breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes and, what else, latkes.
But he has also been serving up latkes at his restaurant for nearly ten years, and even won an award for his latkes at the Annual Latke Festival in New York City several years ago. He likes serving them two ways: plain with sour cream and homemade applesauce, or as an appetizer with smoked salmon and creme fraiche (a personal favorite).
So what can a Michelin Star chef teach a nice Jewish girl about frying latkes? Well, a lot. And it turns out I had been making a couple of mistakes.
Bill shared that you want to keep the natural potato starch in the mix, but also need to remove excess liquid. After mixing all the latke ingredients, he allows the mix to sit around 5-10 minutes. Then he drains it, mixes the eggs with the leftover potato starch, and adds that back into the potatoes.
Don’t squeeze out too much liquid: I had been squeezing out the liquid from my latke each time I formed a patty, but Bill told me you don’t want to do that, because then the latkes will be dry. Instead, lightly form a patty using your hands or a tablespoon to keep the moisture in, creating a fluffier and creamier latke.
Onion is key for Bill, who uses a ratio of 1 small onion to every 1 ½ lbs of russet potatoes. When I tried out this ratio over the weekend, my dad immediately said “wow, great onion flavor” so I guess Bill is really on to something.
Another key element is adding enough salt, both in the mix of the latkes, and then a small sprinkle after they come out of the hot oil. While 2 tsp of salt for 1 ½ lbs of potatoes may seem like a lot, Bill pointed out that potatoes really absorb the salt and need a little extra to bring out the flavor.
In my time at the restaurant I also had the chance to spend time with Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael, who has been serving up some of New York City’s best desserts for years, who decided to try her hand at serving Hanukkah jelly donuts this year for the first time.
You have probably had a jelly donut around Hanukkah time. And they are fine, I mean what is bad about fried dough. But what I loved about Larissa’s Hanukkah donuts is the balance of rich chocolate ganache and raspberry jam filling paired with delightfully light, bite-sized donut “holes.” After all eating several small donuts is way more fun than trying to stuff one enormous powder-sugar covered donut into your mouth.
If making donuts from scratch seems like a daunting task, Larissa shared that you can actually allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge, a helpful tip for the busy home baker. No fancy oil for this frying: just plain old vegetable oil.
So now you can enjoy Michelin Star quality latkes and Hanukkah donuts all from the comfort of your own home.
Latkes and Hanukkah donuts will be available at Telepan from December 16th to 24th and are available both for take-out and in-house dining. Donuts will only be available for the dinner menu.
Chef Bill Telepan’s Potato Latkes, Yield: 6 latkes
1 ½ lbs of Idaho (russet) potatoes
1 small onion
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
Using the large hole on a box grater, grate potatoes and the onions into a mixing bowl.
Squeeze the grated potatoes and onion and save the water from the potatoes. After the water from the potatoes has settled, pour off the water and save the starch which settled to the bottom.
Beat the eggs and add them to the starch and combine well. Add the flour and salt and combine all.
Pan fry in a sauté pan in a generous amount of vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy on the outside, and cooking through on the inside.
For the dough:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 medium eggs
2 Tbsp milk
3 scant Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
2 ¼ tsp salt
7 Tbsp slightly softened butter
For the chocolate ganache:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate
1 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp heavy cream
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Mix yeast, milk, flour and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, on low speed until combined. Mix in sugar and salt.
Add butter and mix on medium speed until gluten is developed, around 10 minutes. Place dough onto a floured cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise to double in size. Another option is to place in refrigerator overnight.
Once the dough is doubled in size, put onto a floured surface and roll to ½ inch thick. Cut with cookie cutter (I use a 1 ½ inch round cutter) and place on a cookie sheet with parchment, or waxed paper, or lightly floured. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Heat your oil to 350. Fry the doughnuts for around 3 minutes. Break one open to check that 3 minutes is enough time and that middle is cooked through.
Roll in sugar. You can fill with chocolate or jam or both.
To make the ganache: Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over a pot of boiling water. Set aside. Place cream in a pot and heat until boiling. Pour over chocolate and mix with whisk until combined.
Loaded baked potatoes have always intrigued me. There are tons of vegetarian versions to enjoy, but there is something about the classic version that always captured my attention: steaming hot with melted cheddar cheese, a big dollop of sour cream, and of course, crispy bacon on top.
So I decided to take the plunge, and turn my affection-from-afar for the loaded baked potato into a latke version. The classic potato latke got a makeover with some grated cheddar cheese and scallions, and then I topped it all with tangy sour cream, more scallions and bacon bits. Ok everyone, don’t get your panties in a twist. Not real bacon: the fake kind they sell in the salad dressing aisle.
Of course, what could be bad about this combination of ingredients? Pretty much nothing.
An unexpected surprise of this recipe? The red and green from the scallions and bacon bits create a little Chrismukkah action. So for those of you who might be from interfaith families, or just like getting into the red and green holiday spirit, this recipe has your name all over it.
8 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 small onion
2 cups diced green onions (around 10)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Pareve “bacon” bits
Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a hand grater, coarsely great potatoes and onions. Place in a large bowl.
Add flour, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until completely combined. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Add grated cheddar cheese and half of the chopped scallions.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands or large spoon, make a latke patty and place in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet, which you can place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Top latkes with sour cream, additional scallions and bacon bits.