Have you ever taken a trip to your local farmer’s market and seen some pumpkins or squash like this:
And you thought, “I must have one of those!” Then you brought it home, sat it down on the counter, scratched your head and said – “ok, now what the heck do I do with this!?”
But then I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
Pasta? Nah.Too much work.
Pie? Seemed liked a waste.
Combine with beer and cheese for a rich and warming soup? Ding ding ding!
Most surprising thing about the white pumpkin was actually the color – the flesh is slightly yellow inside, not the same white of the outside. And when roasted, the flesh becomes even darker, resembling a cheese pumpkin puree.
So please welcome to the world my White Pumpkin Cheddar Ale Soup. Pair this was a big hunk of crusty bread, green salad and a cold pumpkin beer for a well-rounded and happy meal.
1 medium sized white pumpkin
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 bottle pumpkin ale or other seasonal ale
½ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Pepitas or dried pumpkin seeds
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pumpkin in halves or quarters and spread on a baking sheet. Season inside of pumpkin with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast until flesh is fork tender and juices are released, around 45-60 minutes.
Allow pumpkin to cool.
Scoop pumpkin flesh and place in food processor fitted with blade. Puree pumpkin in batches until smooth. You can add a cup of stock if it makes this part easier.
Remove pumpkin puree and place into large pot along with half the vegetable stock. Heat through on medium-high heat.
Add butter and cheddar, whisking until melted. Add remaining vegetable stock.
Add beer, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to simmer and cook for another 10 minutes on low-medium heat.
Garnish with pepitas or pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. You can even add a dollop of creme fraiche if you're feeling extra fancy.
Whereas the much acclaimed cookbook Jerusalem by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi feature stunning recipes that sound delectable but require 27 steps and a chef’s degree to execute properly, Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration by Orly Ziv is a new cookbook featuring basic Israeli fare for the home cook. And that’s a good thing.
Everyone loves the variety of salads, or “salatim,” that traditional Israeli cuisine offers, and Cook in Israel dedicates its first three sections to eggplant and tomatoes, salads and vegetables. Included are simple classics like baba ghanoush, hummus and Moroccan carrot salad. But there are also some innovative twists on tradition like Israeli salad with pomegranate and avocado and shakshuka with eggplant.
I also like the Holiday section which includes recipes for several kinds of latkes, honey cake and apple jam among others. Top on my list of recipes to try? The chocolate and halva babka. Delish.
The ingredient list for the recipes is refreshingly short, and there is nothing that seems daunting.The book is truly filled with everyday, accessible recipes for the cook who loves to bring the flavors and warmth of Israel into their kitchen.
Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration, Orly Ziv
Before there was a baby or bills there were lots of vacations and other more frivolous ways that the husband and I spent our time and money.
One Summer before we were married we went to Vail for a beautiful, outdoors-centric long weekend. I expected great hiking and scenic mountain views, but I didn’t expect such an exciting food scene: outdoor farmers markets, gourmet mountainside dinners and jalapenos roasted before my eyes, among other highlights.
But the absolute culinary highlight from our time in Vail was a Sunday evening dinner at Kelly Liken, from acclaimed chef Kelly Liken. Little did we know, the restaurant throws its menu out the window on Sundays and cooks a completely new menu based on whatever is fresh at the farmers market that morning. I don’t remember everything we ate, but I do remember that it was outstanding.As our appetizer that evening we ordered a roasted beet soup that was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. I was so enamored with the soup that the husband, in true Jewish New Yorker form, asked the waiter if he could get the recipe for us to take home.
I was mildly embarrassed at his pushy request, but a few minutes later the waiter came back with the recipe jotted down in pen on a paper napkin. I don’t have that napkin anymore, but I have made the recipe enough times that it is forever engrained in my memory. Not to mention it was a pretty exciting moment to get the recipe for such a special soup straight from the chef. I may have made a few adjustments along the way, but no matter – it still turns out great.
This soup can be served hot or cold, although I prefer it served warm with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt. The soup definitely requires patience since it has many steps to make it. But the result is so delicious it is worth the effort.
6 large beets or 8-10 small-medium beets
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 quart vegetable stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub beets and wipe dry. Wrap each beet in tin foil and close tightly. Roast for at least one hour, or until beets are tender. Allow to cool enough to handle. Peel beets and chop into small pieces.
In a skillet heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Saute onions and fresh thyme until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add beets and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove thyme.
Pour beet, onion and garlic mixture into a food processor fitted with a blade. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth to food processor. Pulse until completely smooth.
Put beet and onion mixture through a fine mesh sieve or food mill in batches. This will take time. Place beet liquid to pot and add vegetables broth and whisk together. Bring liquid to a simmer on medium heat.
After soup has cooked for 3-5 minutes and is starting to bubble, reduce heat to low-medium. Add heavy creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt.
This month two big names in the kosher world came out with new cookbooks: The Prime Grill Cookbook by David Kolotkin and Joey Allaham and Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes by internet-famed Jamie Geller.
Both are beautiful and packed full of recipe choices but that’s where the similarities end. The Prime Grill Cookbook positions itself as “redefining the kosher experience,” in line with what the upscale midtown Manhattan restaurant has sought to do. While Joy of Kosher features family focused recipes that are easily “dressed up, or dressed down.” It’s sort of a Jewish mom meets Rachael Ray meets “Semi Homemade” guide to weekly family meals.
As a food writer, home cook and all around culinary-obsessed person, the family recipe route has never been what gets me really excited but I can see how the Joy of Kosher enterprise has amassed such a loyal following with their relatable recipes and striking photography.
Geller’s second cookbook is beautiful with fun ideas, but her narrative not only doesn’t speak to me, but kind of turns me off. She writes in the book that she wrote this cookbook at 3:00 am on her phone; all moms and busy working ladies can relate to multi-tasking and getting stuff done at weird times. But at 3:00 am, you better believe I am sleeping, or watching some awful re-run of Real Housewives of New Jersey. She also writes “Yes, I taste test every recipe. That’s why I look this way.” The woman has had 5 kids for goodness sake – she looks great! Jamie, why put yourself down like that girl!? Own your fabulousness!
Aside from Geller’s stories sprinkled throughout the book, there are simple, beautiful-looking recipes and other special features, like a guide to ingredients one will need to make the dishes. I really enjoyed the eye-catching “Fruit, Flower and Mint Ice Cubes” – such a pretty and fun idea for a special meal or cocktails. Other highlights: Hummus Trifle, Wilted Spinach with Crispy Chips, Balsamic London Broil and Caramel Fruit Bites.
If you are looking for family-friendly recipes that are accessible for the everyday cook, true to advertising, this is definitely the cookbook for you.
Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes, October 2013, William Morrow Cookbooks
I have been following Chef David Kolotkin’s career for some time and have eaten at several of the Prime Group’s restaurants in NYC, so I was eager to have a look at The Prime Grill Cookbook when it came out last month.
It is large, straightforward, not overly-fancy with staged photos of barns and props and sunsets that I just don’t care about. I am in this for the food, and I cannot decide which of the delectable-looking recipes from the cookbook I want to make first: Truffled Deviled Eggs, Potato Gnocchi with Duck Bolognaise and Sage, Falafel Crusted Salmon or the Sweet New Jersey Corn Flan with Sautéed Mushrooms.
I wasn’t impressed with the dessert recipes offered, but I did think that the basic stock recipes, salad dressings and infused olive oils were a great tool for the cook (like me) who likes to whip up everything from scratch when possible. It’s no surprise that the real recipe stand-outs of the cookbook are the meat recipes, which seem accessible enough that they aren’t scary to prepare, but unique enough to provide culinary inspiration.
Adventurous meat-loving home chefs rejoice – The Prime Grill Cookbook is here for you.
The Prime Grill Cookbook, September 2013, Pelican Publishing
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!
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.
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 Tbsp thick sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter or margarine with sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and cherries (or other add-ins). Don't overmix. In a small bowl combine sanding sugar and sea salt.
Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Lightly flatten cookies with moistened fingers. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and sugar on top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to cooling racks.
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.
Each 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.
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.
2 ears fresh corn
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
Pinch fresh pepper
1 cup ricotta
½ cup pumpkin puree (fresh preferably, but canned is fine)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp fresh lime zest
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro plus extra for garnish
2 ½ cups canned tomato puree
2-3 canned chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
4-6 whole wheat tortillas
½ cup grated cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove corn from the cob and place in a small bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread corn out onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until kernels are soft and starting to turn golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, pumpkin puree, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Add cooled corn to ricotta mixture.
In a small sauce pan mix together tomato puree and chipotle chilies in adobo and heat until warmed through. Depending on how much spice you like, you can add more or less of the chilies.
Spread the bottom of an 8x5 pyrex dish or baking pan with ½ cup of the tomato sauce. Spoon around ½ cup pumpkin ricotta mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Roll up gently (but tightly) and place fold side down in pan. Cover with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and bubbling.
Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with slices of avocado, black beans and Greek yogurt (or sour cream).
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:
‘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.
The 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.
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.
“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)
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.
I love a good challah challenge and always welcome an excuse to create new flavors for friends and family to try. I tend to favor savory combinations such as rosemary and garlic, za’atar and “everything bagel” challah flavors, although I also make salty chocolate and cinnamon raisin versions on occasion.
For Rosh Hashanah this year I wanted to branch out and try something completely new and perfect for the holiday.
A few months ago I was chatting with my husband’s best friend’s mother, whom we lovingly call “Mama Morley.” She was explaining a technique she uses for round challah that I had not tried before – stuffing the challah dough and rolling it like a cinnamon bun. Brilliant!
This conversation stuck in my head, and so as I was mulling over potential recipes for the New Year I realized I should try this technique and stuff it with something uniquely delicious for Rosh Hashanah.
And thus my Balsamic Apple Date Challah was born. The dough itself is sweet, laced with cinnamon, vanilla and just a touch of nutmeg. And when you break into the round loaf, it is like biting into a challah cinnamon bun.
I sprinkled the top of the challah with thick sea salt, cinnamon and sanding sugar. But you can leave the salt off if you would rather go all-sweet. Either way, your guests will barely be able to control themselves around this challah. My daughter kept trying to sneak her own bites, as you can see below from her chubby little hands which somehow made it into the photos.
Wishing everyone a sweet, happy, healthy and DELICIOUS New Year.
For the challah dough:
5 cups flour
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp honey
½ Tbsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
For the filling:
3 gala apples, peeled and diced
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
½ tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup water
¼ cup red wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
For top of challah:
1 tsp water
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp sanding sugar
1 Tbsp thick sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
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 whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil. Mix thoroughly.
Add another cup of flour and eggs until smooth. 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.
To make the filling, place apples, dates, salt, cinnamon stick, water, red wine and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer on medium heat until the mixture is reduced. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer another 2-3 minutes. The mixture will cook around 10-15 minutes in total.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.
Place mixture in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until smooth.
After the challah is done rising, cut the dough in half. To be as precise as possible, use a scale to measure the weight.
Roll the first ball out using a rolling pin into a rectangle. Spread around half, perhaps slightly less, of the apple-date mixture in an even layer, leaving 1/2 inch all around without filling. 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 (maybe except that judgmental great aunt) will care what it looks like.
Repeat with other half of dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Allow challahs to rise another 30-60 minutes, or until you can see the the size has grown.
Beat 1 egg with 1 tsp water and 1 tsp of honey. Brush liberally over each challah. Combine sea salt, sanding sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over challah.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until middle looks like it has just set, and the color is golden.