As you may remember from my post last year about Hamantaschen…I am typically not such a big fan. The ones I remember growing up with were always dry and crumbly.Until I found my friend Rachel’s Hamantaschen recipe, I had written off the triangle treats entirely.
Last year I made PB & Jelly flavored hamantaschen as well as a s’mores flavor. And this year I am happy to share a new flavor: Dark Chocolate Ganache with Salted Caramel Drizzle.
I know some people are “so over the salty sweet thing;” but I am not. My favorite chocolate will always be chocolate covered pretzels. And you know what’s better than chocolate covered pretzels? Chocolate covered potato chips. And perhaps the best? The peanut butter filled pretzel bites covered in milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s. But I digress.
I surprised even myself with this recipe – it is really delicious, and both my husband and I could not stop eating these.
Rachel’s Best Hamantaschen dough often requires a bit more than merely 1 1/4 cups flour it initially calls for. Also, keep flour-ing your work surface as you go.
Plan ahead – you really need to make the dough and the ganache ahead of time because they both need to chill properly before making them.
Pinch pinch pinch! Pinch those corners, otherwise your filling will spill out and make for ugly cookies.
½ cup butter (or margarine)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk (or almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Dark Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
Rum to taste (optional)
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk, vanilla and orange zest until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by ½ cupfuls until firm.
Chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Over a double boiler, heat cream and chopped chocolate. When chocolate is mostly melted, lightly whisk until ganache is smooth and shiny. Whisk in rum and salt. Chill for several hours.
Dust surface with powdered sugar or flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in powdered sugar or flour before each cut!
Remove ganache from fridge, and using a teaspoon form about 1/2 inch round balls and place in center of dough. Carefully fold in the edges to form a triangular shape, and pinch the corners tightly to seal.
Bake at 400° for about 7-9 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool completely.
Using a teaspoon or a small plastic squeeze bottle, drizzle caramel sauce back and forth on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with scant amount of thick sea salt.
Yesterday I posted our latest guest post featuring a gorgeous Valentines Day themed tri-color cupcake. And while I am not surprised some of our readers took issue with Jews celebrating Valentines Day, nevertheless I wanted to address it.
I did not grow up celebrating Purim, but I did grow up celebrating Valentine’s Day. Each year my dad would bring home a single red rose to my mother and a box of her favorite chocolates from a local chocolatier. He would also bring me a present – some years a fancy box of chocolates with a silk flower on the cover; other years a bouquet of my own flowers; and one year a small gold heart necklace. I loved these small tokens and have fond memories of my father’s simple romantic gesture to my mother.
I understand that for some Jews, celebrating a seemingly Christian holiday feels problematic, and frankly, I am not going to argue with anyone and try to convince them one way or the other. The amazing Rabbi Mike Uram offers his assessment of whether or not it is problematic for Jews to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so feel free to read his view, or any other that you like.
But what I want to say about this is: many Americans Jews (dare I say – the majority) feel the same way I do and like celebrating “Hallmark holidays” like Valentine’s Day. We are American, and we celebrate American holidays (and Jewish holidays too) even if they sometimes feel silly or superficial because something in these traditions connects us to one another.
I do celebrate Purim now, and can’t wait to dress up with my daughter and husband in a few weeks. And I do love making Hamantaschen, just like I enjoy a good box of drug-store-bought chocolates with a silk flower on top. At the end of the day, I respect all Jews’ choices and traditions and don’t care whether we agree on what those choices and traditions should be; my only hope and expectation is that other Jews will respect my choices in return.
But onto the really important stuff: what kind of Hamantaschen will I be making this year!?
Last year I made PB& Jelly Hamntaschen which were a huge it as well as a s’mores flavor with chocolate and mini marshmallows. Both these flavors deserve a repeat performance, and I am also thinking about a berries ‘n cream or chocolate caramel flavored Hamanhaschen. Stay tuned for what I cook up this year!
In need of THE BEST recipe for Hamantaschen? We’ve got that too so try out this recipe – it’s the only recipe I will use.
A few weeks ago I wrote about a delicious coconut rice cake we tasted while vacationing on the island of St. John. And this weekend I finally got the chance to recreate them!I often make wild mushroom risotto balls, but this was a new sort of rice endeavor. Arborio rice, which you use to make risotto, has a lot of starch and so when you form it into balls for frying, it sticks together very easily. Basmati (or jasmine) rice is less starchy and requires a bit more elbow grease to ensure proper sticking. I like to keep a small bowl of cold water on hand to wet my hands while patting, the same as you might do while forming matzo balls.
This recipe does take a bit of time but it is delicious and something different especially to serve for guests or on a special occasion. And best of all? It’s pareve!
Serve it with a spicy Pineapple Salsa like this one from Two Peas and their Pod or a Mango Chutney like this one from Alton Brown for a lovely appetizer. Or serve it as a side dish along side grilled chicken breast, steak or seared salmon.
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut extract
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Bring coconut milk and water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp olive oil. Add rice and reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and let cook untouched for 20 minutes.
Allow to cook, placing in fridge for at least one hour or up to 48 hours.
Place rice into large mixing bowl. Add two beaten eggs, shredded coconut, salt and coconut extract. Mix gently with hands.
In a medium skillet, heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil on medium heat.
Fill small bowl with cold water and another bowl with panko bread crumbs. Wet hands and make form flat rice patties using palms of your hand, packing tightly as you work. Patties should be about 1/4 cup size. Dip each side of the patty into panko bread crumbs,
Fry patties on each side about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from pan and place on wire rack or plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with extra salt while still hot.
Serve while warm.
I have had a lot of confessions this week…so here is yet another one: my husband and I are obsessed with all things Persian! We have a number of close friends from Iranian-Jewish families, and we have always been fascinated by their traditions, history and (of course) FOOD! But this interest has reached new heights over the past few months.
Last week writer Esther Amini welcomed us into her home for Shabbat lunch, where we enjoyed home-cooked Persian rice and two kinds of Persian stew including my favorite, ghormeh sabzi. My husband has also been experimenting with some Persian-inspired recipes from the cookbook Jerusalem, which have been delicious, if not somewhat time consuming to prepare.
And I would be remiss not to mention my husband’s almost-obsessive interest in the Bravo TV show Shahs of Sunset (his favorite character is Reza). While their typical Bravo-drama antics may be what is “entertaining,” a glimpse into the Persian immigrant culture of Los Angeles has been fascinating. A few of the characters even come from Iranian-Jewish families including handsome Mike and the ever-hysterical Reza, whose father is Jewish.
Purim is coming up soon, a holiday truly steeped in Persian history and tradition. The Book of Esther recounts the story of Purim, telling of how the Jews of Persia were saved from destruction. Purim is truly one of the most joyous Jewish holidays, when we are obligated to drink, eat and celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than to share in the diversity of Jewish traditions and foods!?
Well, all this is to say….we are looking for YOUR Persian Purim recipes! If you’ve got a great family recipe and story to share, we would love to feature it for our readers. Email us your recipe, a photo if you’ve got one and if appropriate, a short story about the recipe, to TheNosher.Contests@gmail.com.
Deadline is Friday, February 15th at noon. We can’t wait to see what treats you’ve got – and try them out for our own families.
Confession: I know nothing about football, which teams are playing in the Superbowl and I had to ask four times when the Superbowl is taking place this year. And yet there is something about Superbowl snacks that I love! My parents were never into football and took the opportunity each year on Superbowl Sunday to go out to dinner while the restaurants were empty, so I can’t even attribute this interest to some kind of family tradition. But I guess, who wouldn’t enjoy an occasion to indulge in delicious, junky foods like chicken wings, sliders, nachos and chili dogs!?
Last year I shared my two favorite chicken wing recipes, but this year I wanted to share a dairy recipe I have been dying to make for some time. My other confession is that the recipe for this delectable snack was 100% inspired by this recipe from The Gunny Sack. When I saw these pepperoni cheese bites I knew I needed to kosher-ize them!
I have written before about my love for Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, which I recently found out ARE kosher (OU-Dairy). But if you don’t want to use the canned biscuits I have a simple and equally delicious alternative: store-bought pizza dough!
Roll pizza dough to ½ inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter cut as many rounds as the dough will allow. Gather remaining dough and roll out again. Repeat until you have desired number of pizza dough rounds.
This snack really is a snap to whip together, but make sure you have enough for your party because the cheesy bites will be gobbled up before you know it!
Happy cooking and happy snacking!
2 cans Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (or one large ball pizza dough)
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Jarred minced or crushed garlic in oil
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp minced dried garlic
½ tsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease two 9x13 baking pans
Working one by one, take a biscuit (or pizza dough round) and spread it out, flattening it with your fingers. Spread 1 tsp crushed garlic (from a jar) onto round. Place 3-4 cubes of mozzarella and a few strands of fresh basil. Fold edges of dough up and pinch to close. Place seam side down into greased dish.
Repeat until all the dough balls have been formed.
In a small bowl combine Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano and dried basil.
Brush each dough ball with beaten egg. Sprinkle cheese-herb mixture on each ball.
Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve with warm tomato sauce.
Earlier this week I wrote about those Shabbat dinners when you throw together whatever you have lying around in your pantry. And then there are other weeks when you have the time, or occasion, to plan each dish carefully a week or even two weeks in advance – and this week is one of those for me which I actually love.
We are hosting my husband’s parents and siblings this week for dinner, so this called for some advanced planning. Especially with a full week of work for my day job! On Wednesday evening I made the chocolate cake and a marinated cucumber salad like this one from The Food Yenta (I make mine without sour cream).
Thursday night – my husband made his grandmother’s famous salt and pepper noodle kugel while I made my Apple Cider Beef Stew and set the table.
And what’s on tap for Friday’s to-dos? Stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer and two large heads of cauliflower to roast with whole garlic cloves.
For my super simple garlicky cauliflower, I cut up two heads of cauliflower into small florets. In two pyrex pans, spread florets out and drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil in each pan. Sprinkle 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp pepper in each pan. Place 5-6 cloves of whole garlic in each pan. Roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until caramelized. The cauliflower becomes so sweet and delicious its almost addictive.
Happy planning, cooking and Shabbat Shalom!
Some weeks I have my Shabbat menu all-set on Monday – I plan carefully to go food shopping early in the week and then I spend Thursday night and Friday afternoon preparing my meal. And then other weeks, my husband and I invite friends at the last minute and have to throw something together from our pantry. My Israeli Salad Couscous side dish is one of those dishes that came together out of necessity at the last minute.
As it so happens it was a huge hit, and now makes it into our weeknight and Shabbat dinner menus. We prefer to use Israeli Couscous, versus regular couscous, which is a slightly thicker, very small round pasta – not as delicate as traditional Middle Eastern couscous.
Want to make this dish a tad healthier? Try a whole wheat variety, like this version I just picked up from Fairway!
1 cup Israeli cous cous
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 scallion, white and green parts diced
2 Tbsp diced red onion
3/4 cup diced cucumber
3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Cook cous cous until slightly toasted and covered evenly with oil. Add water and bring to boil. Add salt. Cover pot and cook on low-medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
If cous cous starts to get sticky, drizzle 1 tsp of olive and mix.
In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley, mint, salt, pepper and sumac (if using). Add pepper, scallion, red onion, cucumber and tomatoes and toss together until coated with dressing.
Add cous cous to salad and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Last week at this time my husband and I were busy scrambling to get our suitcases and 7 month old out the door as we departed on our first proper vacation since she was born: we were headed to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, for 4 days of relaxing in the sun.
It was lovely – beautiful weather, gorgeous aqua colored water, friendly people and an exceptionally well-behaved little girl. Everything was great, except for one thing: the food!
Someone once said to my husband that normal people travel and enjoy eating along the way, but that he travels with the purpose of having good food. And to a certain extend that is true for both of us. One of the happiest days on our honeymoon was spent hopping from bakery to bakery all day in Venice sampling each local version of the “fritte venezia,” or the seasonal fried donuts they serve before Carnivale. We might have also sampled some espresso, pizzette and other pastry along the way…
There was nothing bad about the food we ate in St. John, in fact there were a few fantastic morsels – cinnamon bun bread pudding, plantain-coated mahi and a refreshing blood orange margarita. And one of the stand-outs was a coconut rice cake made with chunks of fresh coconut that I am eager to recreate this weekend!
But the majority of the food was geared towards American tourists – club sandwiches, chicken caesar salads, hamburgers and french fries – items you could get at any restaurant here.
This most recent vacation was not about eating or even traveling persay, but about taking a break from our busy lives to rest and relax together as a family. And so it was a success! But I know we look forward to planning our next trip where will food will place higher on the agenda.
Stay tuned next week for a recipe for the coconut rice cakes we had on St. John and also for a guest post from Arielle Singer, who is recently back from her latest trip to Israel where food was top of the agenda!
Shabbat Shalom, and happy eating wherever you are this week.
When my daughter was around 3 months old I started reading up on recipes for baby food and preparing to introduce solids, even though it was months away. Listening to me obsess over pureed sweet potatoes and mashed avocado, my husband finally asked, why are you in a rush for her to eat?! Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what was guiding my hyper-focused interest in feeding her.
But when she was 5 months old she sort of took matters into her own hands, quite literally. While I munched on a slice of apple one evening, she grabbed my hand, pulled it to her face and started sucking on the apple. I watched in happy awe as she continued to chomp on the apple slice, sucking the juice out of every last bit. And so a tiny foodie was born.
Since then we have introduced new foods little by little. And each time she tries something new – oranges, scrambled egg, pumpkin, or applesauce – I watch delighting in her curiosity and exploration of tastes and textures. We have discovered she loves slurping the broth from chicken soup (obviously…she is Jewish!) and doesn’t care for mashed peas. And above all else she prefers picking up her own food and feeding herself, which might be one of the cutest sights on earth.
Upon reflection it isn’t a surprise that someone (me) who spends so much time thinking about food would be excited to explore food with their new child. It’s common knowledge that food is love and I like to think that for Jews this is even more so. Am I now a typical “Jewish mom” – feeding as a sign of my love and overbearing-ness?! Regardless, it continues to be a new delight every day when we see what she’ll eat and enjoy next.
One of her favorite combinations is roasted parsnips, carrots and pumpkin. What’s great about this puree is that it is easy baby food – but it is also great as a side dish for adults. Leave out the salt until the end and then you have a dish for kids and adults. I like serving a puree like this along side sliced turkey breast or brisket. You can also use a base like this for soup – just add vegetable broth, a touch of cream and you have a healthful lunch or dinner.
Happy cooking and happy feeding!
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 kabocha squash or sugar pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a baking sheet. Place chopped carrots and parsnips on sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 scant tsps olive oil. Sprinkle cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg on top.
Place squash or pumpkin on a baking sheet.
Roast the carrots and parsnips for 45-55 minutes. Roast squash or pumpkin for 55-60 minutes, or until you are able to scoop out flesh easily. Allow squash or pumpkin to cool for 20 minutes before removing the flesh.
In a food process fitted with a blade, puree parsnips, carrots and pumpkin until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
It’s one of my favorite times of the year – citrus season! I look forward each year when fresh oranges, grapefruits and lemons abound. This salad actually came about last year when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I constantly craved citrus fruit!. The funniest part about my citrus craving was that suddenly I was eating an entire grapefruit every day, even though I had never eaten grapefruit before in my life.
Pregnant or not, I love this Orange Edamame Salad, which can be served as a side dish, dairy, pareve or even as an entree. And as for the edamame, I highly recommend using the shelled, frozen edamame from Trader Joe’s – so easy!
My last recommendation – if you choose to grill some salmon or chicken for a salad entree, you can double the salad dressing recipe (below) and use it as a marinade! Not only will it make your prep a snap, but the it will intensify the flavor.
For a dairy salad: Add one cup crumbled goat cheese on top of salad.
For a dairy entree: Add one cup crumbed goat cheese and grilled salmon or tofu on top of salad.
For a meat entree: Add several slices of grilled chicken on top of salad.
For the salad:
2 heads of butter bibb lettuce, or bag of butter lettuce mix
1 blood orange or naval orange, peeled and sectioned
1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 avocado, diced
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/2 cup plain edamame
1/2 cup chopped candied pecans or walnuts
For the dressing:
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
lemon and/or orange zest
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste