Purim is less than two weeks away which means it is more than time to start planning for your festive celebrations and making sure you are ready for some hamantaschen baking. I always find that I look forward to baking much more when I have just the right gear, so I thought I’d share what’s been most useful to me in prepping for Purim.
I hate getting bits of flour and dough all over my counter when I am baking, so I love using one of these Jumbo pastry mats in order to roll out dough.
I doubted it at first, but I’ve actually found that a great rolling pin makes a difference. I love this silicone one. It’s really easy to clean and the dough almost never sticks to the surface.
I also want to highly recommend my absolute favorite Silpat. If you don’t already own one of these silicone baking mats, your baking life is about to improve forever. I love baking cookies and challah on these to ensure nothing sticks or burns and everything comes out perfect.
What to put inside those hamantaschen? My personal vote is for creamy, nutty, chocolatey Nutella. It’s easy, delicious but also a bit outside the bounds of traditional apricot or poppyseed.
Scientific fact: kids love to dress up. And maybe it will keep them quiet for 3 minutes while you finish your hamantachen baking. Well, we can hope. Get them this set of Purim masks.
But since adults love to dress up, too (at least, I do) I love this set of fancy feather masks perfect to distribute at a Purim party.
I also really love this silly but classic wooden Haman grogger! Forget using it as a noisemaker—I think it would make a great decorative accent for your Purim tablescape.
And if your heart’s in the right place but you want someone else to do the baking for you, send a delicious basket like this one. (Use code AFPUR14 for 10% off orders over $50, before 3/16).
Hope these picks were fun for you. Happy Purim 2014!
It’s so satisfying to dish out a big bowl of chili on a cold Fall or Winter day, no?
I love chili, and I especially love hot dogs smothered in homemade chili. But we have been cutting back on our red meat consumption and so I wanted to create a version that would be as hearty and satisfying as meat-chili, but a bit healthier.
Another great thing about chili is that you can really add and subtract ingredients based on your taste. Want more spice? Add more than a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or even some diced jalapeno.
Don’t like a particular kind of beans? Just swap it out for the beans you do like.
And I love using colorful bell peppers to pack this dish with flavor and vitamins. Plus they are just so darn pretty, aren’t they?
1 onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp chili powder
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package ground beef substitute
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
1 scallion (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, jalapeno and bell peppers, sauteing until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
Add spices and continue to cook 1 minute.
Add ground beef substitute, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Continue to cook another 5 -7 minutes until browned
Add can of tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes. When the chili has cooked and the liquid has reduced, add rinsed beans and stir until mixed throughout.
Serve with cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream if desired. Garnish with chopped scallion.
On Purim we are supposed to drink until we can no longer tell the difference between good and evil, right? Why drink till you can no longer tell the difference between good and evil when you can eat till you can’t tell the difference between good and evil, up and down, sweet and savory, you name it.
It seems each year bakers and bloggers are coming up with the most unique flavor combinations (myself included) that they can think of: pumpkin pie hamantaschen, peanut butter and jelly hamantaschen (a favorite in my house) and even rainbow hamantaschen.
Last year I created these Hamantaschen with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel (which were featured in Buzzfeed’s 32 Crazy Hamantachen). And let me just say: they are delicious, throwing the days of poppy seed and apricot filled hamantaschen into last year’s pile of outdated trends.
Everyone has their favorite flavor, and sometimes you just need a good traditional, jam-filled hamantaschen. But it’s always fun to think outside the box and get a little crazy when Purim comes around.
Try one of these crazy sweet, savory and booze-inspired treats. Have a crazy flavor combo? Comment below!
Crazy Sweet Hamantaschen
Crazy Savory Hamantaschen
Crazy Booze-Inspired Purim Treats
While I remain a strong gluten and bread enthusiast, I love to hear about other passionate bloggers’ food journeys, and Donyel Meese (aka The Kosher Cave Girl) has a very interesting food journey. She and I had the chance to catch up over email recently and I really loved what she had to say about making your own bread and sweets and switching out healthy options into your diet – everything in moderation! Read more about Donyel and her kosher Paleo lifestyle below.
Why did you start blogging?
The idea to start a blog stemmed from an afternoon I spent with a friend whining about the fact that I had just made the most incredible hazelnut-swirled brownies, but that I couldn’t find the piece of paper that I had written the recipe on anywhere. The friend suggested that I start blogging my recipes to ensure that I’d never lose another one. I really do enjoy the creating recipes, the photography, and coming up with posts. The Kosher Cave Girl also serves as an outlet for my love of writing, and my readers are often unfortunately witnesses to my (often rather pathetic) attempts at humor.
Your food journey has had lots of ups and downs. Would you say you always loved cooking and food, or did it result out of necessity for your diet?
I have always loved baking things. When my friends arrive at my apartment, they make a beeline for my freezer, breezing past me without so much as a hello until they’ve got something in their mouth. When I found out that I was both lactose and dairy intolerant, and made the switch to a Paleo lifestyle, I quickly grew frustrated with what I saw as so many restrictions.
It was as simple as changing my outlook. Instead of mourning the fact that I could no longer eat my favorite browned-butter snickerdoodles, I decided to create a version that I could eat. Now, there are very few foods that I actually miss, and I have a lot of fun coming up with recipes to mirror the dishes that I loved before going Paleo.
What are your culinary influences?
My mother spent time in Africa, Australia, and Thailand before returning to the U.S. after she completed her undergrad at University of Hawai’i, so I was exposed to lot of cultural dishes at a very young age. Because of her, I love experimenting with unique flavors and spices like coconut milk, lemongrass, saffron, and curry.
For those that can and do eat gluten, what ways can the paleo diet influence their eating habits, without taking away their beloved bread?
You don’t have to follow a Paleo diet to incorporate fresh, healthy, & non-processed foods in your lifestyle. Simple switches can make a world of difference. Try making tuna salad with avocado instead of mayo. Learn to love water. If you want bread, cookies, or cakes, make your own instead of buying prepackaged ones loaded with preservatives to keep them “fresh” (homemade is not only cheaper, but it tastes better too!). Sodas and sugary drinks are usually calorie bombs and do little to quench your thirst. Cook with coconut oil and olive oil, instead of canola oil and vegetable oil.
One of the wonderful aspects of a Paleo lifestyle is that you’re encouraged not to count calories. Instead, emphasis is placed on mindful and intuitive eating – listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satiated.
What has surprised you about blogging or what’s been the best thing that has happened as a result of blogging?
I always thought that blogging was so glamorous, but I’ve found that in this circus, I feel more like the juggler than the girl on the flying trapeze. The amount of time and preparation that goes into blogging is absolutely unbelievable. The readers only see the glamorous side of food blogging, but behind the scenes, all hell breaks lost. My kitchen sink is perpetually overflowing with dirty dishes. I spend more time at the grocery store than at my own apartment. Recipes go horribly wrong, it takes 200 pictures of cookies to get one useable one, and my e-mail inbox is almost always full. On top of all of that, I’m juggling my food blogger lifestyle with being a full-time student.
I’ve learned so much about photography, graphic design, and social media, but my absolute favorite perk is being able to connect with readers, whether it’s getting to know them, answering a question, or helping them adapt a recipe. It’s so rewarding, and it brings me such a sense of joy and fulfillment.
What advice do you have for someone else who wants to start a food blog?
Is it terribly cliché of me to tell you that good things come to those who wait? When I first started blogging in Fall of 2013, I had no readers. You could literally hear the crickets chirping every time I posted a new recipe. But don’t get discouraged. Keep posting, keep marketing, and people will come.
I’ve also found that pictures are key. I’m also guilty when I tell you that if I see a recipe without a picture, I probably won’t make it. Everyone loves drooling over stunning food photography, myself included. I don’t have any fancy lights or props, just my Nikon 5100. I’m still learning, but I’m having fun with it.
What’s on the horizon for your blog?
Thank G-d, I’ve been offered a lot of wonderful opportunities for The Kosher Cave Girl. Let’s just say that there might be a cookbook revolving around a Paleo take on traditional Shabbat foods in my future. I have a lot of exciting projects and partnerships in the works, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I have never really loved the idea of savory hamantaschen. My sweet tooth just revolts at the concept. But after some poking and prodding from others, I decided: fine. I would try and make some savory hamantaschen.
A few weeks ago I made some balsamic caramelized onions to go on top of homemade pizza. They were amazing. Sweet and savory – my favorite combination. So as I was thinking about what kinds of savory hamantaschen I might try to make, I realized a sweet, savory onion jam was the perfect compromise to satisfy both sweet and savory cravings.
My husband serves as my trusty taste-tester and critic for all my creations, so I am happy to share that he LOVED this version. And I hope you will, too.
For the Hamantaschen dough:
½ cup butter (or margarine)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
For the onion jam filling:
4 small-medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp red wine
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp greek yogurt
To make the dough:
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk and rosemary until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by a few Tbsp at a time until firm.
Chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
To make the onion jam filling:
Add oil and butter to saute pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add onions to the pan, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes. If onions are browning too quickly reduce to low-medium heat.
When onions are completely translucent and soft, add balsamic vinegar and continue stirring for another 5-10 minutes. When onions seem sticky and the vinegar has reduced, add wine and stir. Scrape any bits off bottom of pan.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove onions from heat and set aside.
When onions have cooled, place onions in a food processor fitted with blade. Pulse until smooth. Mix in greek yogurt.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dust surface with flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circle and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in flour before each cut.
Fill each round with onion jam and using your favorite method, pinch corners together tightly.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I peak into my freezer, I am overwhelmed by the immeasurable number of bags of leftover challah that I have put away. I hate wasting the leftover challah slices and scraps after Shabbat, and yet I so infrequently find uses for them.
So I decided it was high time to put all that challah to delicious good use, beyond just bread pudding (delicious) and french toast on Sunday (the perfect breakfast).
Here are a variety of ideas for how to use up those leftover morsels that may actually get you excited about all those bags of bread in the freezer.
I didn’t grow up eating kugel regularly. My only exposure to kugel was on the one or two times a year we would all gather around my grandmother’s dining room table for Jewish holidays. My grandmother would serve two kinds of kugel which she would describe as “one sweet, one savory.” I would more aptly describe them as “dry and drier.”
When I was in college and dating “a nice Jewish boy” his mother made an incredible dairy noodle kugel with crushed pineapple, butter and sour cream. Now THAT was kugel. I was in love. And when I met my husband and his family, I fell in love with his Baba Billie’s salt and pepper noodle kugel.
Like everything Baba Billie made, this kugel is not for the faint-hearted, or faint-stomached. This is not a light recipe, but it is good. You may look at the amount of oil and think, come on – really? Yes, really. I don’t make this every day, nor do I suggest making it every day. We make it a few times each year always to rave reviews. Everything in moderation, or so my father always says, and this kugel is no exception.
My husband likes to use regular wide noodles, but I opt for the super-duper extra wide. You can use either variety you like.
Like a little kick? Make sure to use hot paprika on top. If you prefer to play to it safe just use a sweet, smoky paprika instead.
1 12 ounce package of wide or extra wide egg noodles
2 Tbsp jarred garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Special equipment: Pyrex baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is heated, add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of olive oil to baking dish and place pan in oven for the oil to heat. This step will make for a crispier kugel.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles as directed on package, around 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles to egg mixture and mix gently until completely coated. Remove baking dish with hot oil from the oven and add noodles to the dish. It will sizzle slightly - this is a good thing.
Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered or until noodles are desired crispiness. Serve warm or room temperature.
Linzer torte cookies were one of my mom’s go-to recipes that I have fond memories of making with her as a child. We didn’t make them for Valentine’s Day per se, but made them for any special occasion that came up – parties, piano recitals and even rainy Saturdays.
This recipe isn’t quite the same as hers, which unfortunately was lost when she passed away. But it is the closest thing I have found to the buttery cookies we made together during my childhood. I find this version to be particularly versatile because the cookies are excellent made in both dairy and pareve varieties, which cannot be said for every dessert recipe!
I actually don’t make these for Valentine’s Day either, but really love to make these cookies for Sheva Berakhot celebrations for friends! But they are also great as a sweet treat for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, Shabbat or any day you just want to show a little extra lovin’.
I love making these fun square-shaped cookies with just a smidge of sweet jam peeking out from the heart shaped cut-out. But you can have fun and make any shape that suits your fancy.
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
Extra flour for rolling
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, vanilla and orange zest and combine.
Add flour one cup at a time until full incorporated.
Place dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. You may need to add extra flour during this step as this dough tends to be sticky, but try not to add too much.
Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
When cookies have cooled completely, spread with jam and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Most weeks it’s hard to find a crumb of challah leftover after Shabbat, especially since my husband and I love hosting our friends for Shabbat dinner whenever we can.
But every few weeks or so we like to enjoy a quiet Shabbat just the three of us, and when this happens, there is inevitably part of a challah loaf leftover.
Of course, I make French toast. I make croutons, bread crumbs and even bread pudding. But sometimes a gal just wants to try something new.
I found this recipe from the Inventive Vegetarian and knew I wanted to use up some of my challah to finish off a rich bowl of French Onion Soup. Topped with bubbling, melted munster cheese and you have a Jewish version of this iconic soup. The onions make the soup sweet, and the richness of both the eggy challah and gooey munster cheese make each bite practically sinful
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
½ tsp sugar
1 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
6 pieces leftover challah
6 pieces sliced munster cheese
Special equipment: individual ramekins
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
Add onions and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes. Don’t worry about fussing with them too much right now, you will be stirring later.
After 15 minutes, add the sugar and stir. Allow the onions to caramelize for the next 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently. If the onions are getting crispy make sure to lower the heat.
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle the flour over them and cook for about three minutes, continuing to stir.
Next, add the wine, deglazing the bottom of the pan as you stir.
Add the stock and the water, continuing to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and allow to cook another 30 minutes.
Add several ladles full of soup to each individual ramekin.
Toast your challah pieces and place on top of soup. Add a slice of Munster on top of challah round and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and just beginning to brown.
When I was in high school, I had the most wonderful English teacher (that’s you, Mr. Scanlon!) who quoted Emerson, roughly, saying that we all contradict ourselves.
I often feel like I am the epitome of contradiction where eating and cooking is concerned. I strive to keep a mostly vegetarian diet, but sometimes I can’t help it. I relish making something fatty and delicious using red meat. And my Pastrami Sandwich Challah fits this bill precisely.
Stuffing my challah with meat all began with my famous challah dogs (stay tuned for that recipe!). But recently I had a hankering to stuff my challah with something else. Ground beef? Seemed messy. Chicken? So dry. But then I thought of the North American classic deli roll—a dish I did not grow up with, and which I find both disgusting and delicious. And the idea for this crazy new challah began to take shape.
If you have a local butcher as an option, please please please go get freshly sliced pastrami. Thin is best—a thick-cut pastrami will not result in the same consistency.
Make sure not to spread the Russian dressing on too thick, or you could end up with a leaky challah. I know that sounds delicious, but it might not make for such a pretty-looking challah.
Let us know if you try this. I’d love to hear modifications!
5 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
½ Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs plus one egg yolk
1/8-1/4 lb thinly sliced pastrami
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mayo
Dried minced onion
Thick sea salt (optional)
Proof yeast by placing yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Stir gently just once or twice. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, onion powder and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil. Mix thoroughly.
Add another cup of flour and 2 eggs until smooth (save extra egg yolk for later). Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
Add another 1 1/2 cups flour and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise 3-4 hours.
After dough has risen, roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is about ½ inch thick. Mix ketchup and mayo in a small bowl and spread a thin layer all over the dough.
Lay pastrami down in a single layer overlapping pieces only slightly.
Working quickly, start rolling up the dough towards you. Try and keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Pinch the end when you finish.
Create a pinwheel shaped-challah by snaking the dough around and around in a circle around itself. When finished, tuck the end under the challah neatly and pinch lightly. This doesn't have to be perfect - remember, as long as it tastes good, almost no one will care what it looks like.
Allow challah to rise another hour. This extra rise will ensure fluffy challah.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush challah with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds, dried onion and a touch of thick sea salt (optional). Bake challah for 27-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.