In our home there is a clear division of labor when it comes to the kinds of meals we both cook. The husband is in charge of meat and fish. I am in charge of soups, sauces and salads. (And dessert too of course). Thankfully we both help out with the cleaning-up, at least most of the time.
Salads are really so much fun to throw together. I love experimenting with seasonal ingredients I find at my local farmer’s market and also using ingredients I have hanging around in my house. And above all about salads: I love that you can improvise.
The salad calls for arugula but all you have is spinach? Just substitute! Have some apples in the house that you want to use before they go bad? Chop them up and throw them in! This is actually how some of my best salad creations came about in the first place including one of my favorites, this Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with edamame and cucumbers. It was literally what I had in my fridge and it happened to combine together for a delightful and delicious result. Just take a look:
I have found that traditional Israel salad is just the kind of salad that can be made into multiple variations, each one slightly different. For a little more spice you can add a pinch or two of sumac. You can leave out the peppers, leave out the cucumbers, or even add a few things, like chickpeas, feta and mint.
This salad came about like so many of my other favorite salad combinations. It was Saturday afternoon, my daughter was playing at the park with her dad and I was given a few moments to enjoy lunch by myself – glorious. Wine might have also been involved. I looked in the fridge, and threw together what I had: tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas and feta!
And by adding chickpeas and feta, this classic side salad becomes a light but hearty main dish packed with protein, fiber and most importantly, flavor.
Keep improvising and enjoy!
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, red onion, scallion, chickpeas and feta cheese in a medium bowl.
Dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle fresh mint on top.
Thanksgivukah is taking over: the menurkey (turkey + menorah) is the coveted item of the season and the interwebs are exploding with recipes, decorating ideas and kitschy paraphernalia to celebrate this “once in an eternity” event.
Not being one to turn up my nose at a Jewish fad, I set out to come up with my own perfect Thanksgivukah recipe.
I didn’t want to come up with some turkey-topped latke or cranberry Manischewitz sangria (although those are good ideas too). I wanted to think a bit sweet, since dessert is always my go-to. Pumpkin pie is my favorite traditional Thanksgiving dessert. But yet again, my mind kept straying to something slightly different. I thought…jelly doughnut…cranberry relish…it seemed almost too obvious.
Cranberry relish-filled sufganiyot might not be the right dessert to serve right after a big Thanksgiving meal, since they really need to be fried fresh. But they are a perfect Thanksgiving brunch option. Or even a great activity for your family the day after since you can use up that leftover cranberry relish!
If you make a chunky relish like this
then just puree the leftovers to use as the doughnut filling. If your relish is already smooth, then one less step!
Another tip: when filling the doughnuts it might seem like you are over-stuffing with relish, but you will want to make sure you are not skimping on the filling. When you insert the wooden skewer, wiggle it around a bit in the middle to create a relish-ready cavern. And don’t try to be too delicate with the piping bag – get it in there and squeeze away.
For the cranberry relish:
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 tsp corn starch
For the dough:
2 Tbsp dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
¼ cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, softened
Vegetable oil for frying
Special equipment: wooden skewer, piping bag, round piping tip
To make the relish: Add cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and continue to simmer for around 5 minutes. Add corn starch and stir vigorously. Cook another 5 minutes or until cranberries have completely softened.
Remove from heat. Place cover on pot and let the cranberries sit for another 5 minutes.
Allow the cranberries to cool slightly.
Place cranberry mixture into food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse until completely smooth. Chill.
To make the dough: In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water. Sprinkle sugar on top and mix lightly. Allow to sit until foamy, around 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is ready, in a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, eggs, butter and yeast mixture using a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.
On a floured surface knead dough until it is smooth, shiny and bounces back when touched, around 8-10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise 1 ½-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
To assemble: On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cutter or glass, cut rounds. You may have to roll out dough a few times. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 20-25 minutes.
Heat oil in a pot on medium heat until a thermometer measures 370 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, raise the heat to low-medium heat and test one of the doughnuts. If the oil immediately starts bubbling and the doughnut begins browning, it is the right temperature. If it doesn’t bubble at all, heat needs to be higher. If the oil splatters or the doughnut starts browning too quickly, heat needs to be turned down.
In a pyrex dish or large plate, combine around 2 cups of sugar with orange zest and combine lightly with a fork.
Using a slotted spoon, place 3-4 doughnuts into the oil. Allow to fry on each side around 40 seconds or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place onto a plate lined with paper towel. Once excess oil has been removed, roll in sugar-zest mixture while doughnuts are still warm so that the sugar sticks.
When all the doughnuts have been fried and sugared, begin to fill the doughnuts. Place the cranberry relish in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds, just to soften slightly.
Fill pastry bag with a few heaping tablespoons of cranberry relish. If you don’t have a tip, you can just snip the corner of the pastry bag with a scissor.
Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
Have you heard of the ramen burger, well more accurately, a hamburger placed on a ramen noodle “bun”? I hadn’t either until yesterday when I saw a photo on Instagram and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Crazy! Genius! Delicious! Where has this been all my life? Where have I been all its life? The answer, of course is: Brooklyn, where all wacky but brilliant food ideas originate.
But perhaps the best part of the ramen burger is that it is 100% kosher-friendly. As this Buzzfeed article explains, all you need to recreate your own ramen burger is to use a packet of cooked ramen noodles, an egg and a little patience to make the ramen patties. Fantastic.
Rest assured: the crazy burger combos continue. While perusing Facebook earlier this week, I came across yet another wacky Brooklyn-born burger: the KUGEL burger by whimsical Jewish-inspired eatery Scharf & Zoyer. That’s right: a burger sandwiched between two slices of crispy, savory noodle kugel.
Challah French Toast Breakfast Burger
Slice leftover challah into thick pieces around 1/2 inch thick. In a baking dish or shallow bowl whisk two eggs with 1/2 cup almond or soy milk. Dip challah slices in egg and milk mixture until completely coated, but not too soggy.
Heat a pan on medium heat and coat with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
Cook slices of challah on each side until golden brown, around 3-4 minutes.
Prepare hamburgers to your liking. Place hamburger patty on top of french toast slices. Top with fried egg, ketchup, maple syrup or other toppings of your choice. Place second slice of french toast on top.
Prepare small batch of traditional potato latkes.
Prepare hamburgers to your liking. Place hamburger patty on top of latke.
Top with tomato, caramelized onions or other toppings of your choice. Place second latke on top.
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: