Category Archives: Uncategorized

VIDEO: How to Make Ashkenazi Haroset

Putting the final touches on your Passover seder menu? Don’t forget one of the most important, and easiest, dishes: the haroset.

Haroset symbolizes the mortar used by the slaves in Egypt, and so it’s not only a tasty part of the seder, it’s a pretty important part of the Passover story as well.

There are dozens of ways to make haroset, and different Jewish communities from around the world all have their own version. But today we are going to focus on one of the most popular ways that North American Jews enjoy haroset, and that is the apple, walnut, cinnamon and sweet wine version that many of us know from our childhood and beyond.

After spending time with my own 90 year old grandmother and talking haroset, I learned she never even made hers: her dear friend Clare, of blessed memory, used to make a large enough batch for both families. (Note: Clare was a much better cook than my grandmother. So, thanks Clare.)

We based our version on this classic recipe from Claudia Roden. But here is another version I like to make with candied walnuts, pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds.

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Posted on March 26, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Eating My Way Through Yemen, Philly, Tel Aviv and NYC

I am more often found in my own kitchen working on recipes than out and about eating at restaurants, but this past week I found myself enjoying everything from Yemenite fish stew on the Upper West Side to Tel Aviv-style hummus in Philadelphia. I don’t always rave but truly: every bite was delicious.

Last week in New York City, well-known food writer Adeena Sussman along with renowned Israeli chef and food personality Gil Hovav hosted a week of pop-up dinners and brunch at the charming Upper West Side restaurant Vino Levantino. I didn’t totally know what to expect – the only other Yemenite food I had tasted before was lechoh bread this past summer in the market in Tel Aviv.

Yemeni cocktail

Gil Hovav introduced the event sharing funny and touching stories from his childhood in Israel about Yemenite food and his family. Plates of hummus and a smoky egpplant dip were soon spread out on the table, along with fluffy pita. But the best starter of all was the light yet spicy cocktail made with fresh ginger and grapefruit juice, an olive oil rim and a unique spice mix made by Lior Lev Sercaz of the NYC specialty spice shop La Boite (where I have visited, and yes, it is kind of awesome).

The kubaneh, the crown jewel of the dinner, was delicious and unique but made even more special by the love both Gil and Adeena expressed for it. Kubaneh I learned is almost like the Yemenite version of challah, though it is eaten Saturday morning and cooks overnight. It was crusty on the outside, while being moist on the inside, I imagine a result of being cooked in olive oil for so long.  I was slightly suspicious of a fish stew, but it was so rich and flavorful made with red snapper and hawayejj, a spice mix with Yemeni origins. A simple but perfect dessert of tahini cookies, semolina cake, pistachio and dried fruit was a flawless conclusion along with a “white coffee” made with ginger and cardamom. I was in love. I am in love. I left wanting more, and I remain hopeful that Adeena and Gil will soon deliver.

Yemeni dessert

I didn’t expect to be transported so quickly from the classic, spice-filled Jewish cooking of Yemen to borscht-belt inspired tapas, but nevertheless, this weekend I found myself surrounded by small plates “inspired by the cuisine of the Jewish diaspora” at Abe Fisher in Philadelphia. One of the exciting restaurants by Chef Micheal Solomonov, I was blown away by the light and spicy borscht tartare salad, pastrami hash knish and even duck confit blintzes.

Panna cotta at Abe Fisher

Dessert was divine: the maple bacon and egg cream gave the impression of drinking a classic egg cream, with a foamy chocolate on top akin to the drink I enjoyed throughout my childhood, but it was anything but a simple egg cream. The panna cotta was creamy and rich with a tangy citrus topping.

And most impressive of all was the attentive service from the staff. Perhaps it’s because I was removed from New York for 36 hours, or maybe it’s just because Solomonov is running a great operation, but all the staff we encountered were helpful, accommodating and passionate about the food of Abe Fisher.

For lunch on Saturday I found myself transported once again to another Jewish cuisine, this time to Tel Aviv at another Solomonov establishment: Dizengoff. The tiny restaurant is a hummuseria featuring a super simple menu of perfectly prepared hummus in various flavors which change daily, homemade pita bread, pickles, salad, limonana and beer. We arrived at noon and very quickly there was a line out the door. The hummus was perfectly creamy and the fact that they are making their own pita in-house is impressive to say the least.

bialy at chestnut street bagels

Sunday morning found me wandering in search of bagels and cream cheese for my husband and daughter who were snug in bed enjoying a lazy morning. I was lucky enough to stumble upon Chestnut Street Bagels, producing high quality, crusty bagels with all the fixins – even whitefish salad. I opted for a bialy with butter for myself, an absolute favorite and was not disappointed. Even for a New Yorker.

Different cities, vastly different cuisines, all absolutely delicious. And I guess that’s one of the things I love about Jewish food: it’s diverse, interesting, ever-changing and it’s everywhere these days.

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Posted on March 25, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Lemon Sponge Cake with Candied Citrus

Passover brings the same challenge each year – especially for the baker. That is, how to make an array of delicious and unique desserts – without the use of flour (or any other leavening ingredients, for that matter). This task is additionally complicated by the fact that dairy is often off-limits too.

citrus sponge cake 3So when I find a recipe that works – and that my family agrees is a “keeper” – I tend to bring it back year after year. And this sponge cake is no exception. Moist and deeply flavorful, I am a big fan of this classic Passover dessert. It comes out consistently delicious and keeps for days, too.

citrus sponge cake 1But – aside from the same-old dusting of powdered sugar (the kosher-for-Passover kind, of course!), it lacked that “wow” factor. So a few years ago I candied some orange and lemon slices and placed them on top – for a pretty presentation that looked lovely on our table.

Making candied citrus slices is super easy – and can provide a quick garnish for any dessert!

citrus sponge cake 4

Note: The recipe for the sponge cake is inspired by this recipe from Epicurious

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Lemon Sponge Cake with Candied Citrus

Posted on March 24, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

FREE STUFF: Breaking Matzo Aprons

Just in time for Passover a new online resource has launched called Breaking Matzo, aiming to make the holiday magical, memorable and meaningful with a host of delicious and fun ideas. Founded by Boston venture capitalist Andy Goldfarb, Breaking Matzo seeks to combine food, fun and philosophy into a user-friendly platform, inviting users to share their own Passover stories and experiences. And for us at The Nosher, the food is always most important: Breaking Matzo has all the traditional recipes you will need to make a wonderful seder, and a few modern updates too like charoset chicken salad and “lucky” matzah balls stuffed with gribenes.

Choc_Covered_Matzo_Breaking matzo

And even luckier than Andy’s gibenes-stuffed matzah balls are the THREE Nosher readers who will get to finish their Passover prep wearing one of these cute Breaking Matzo aprons. Enter below to win one of their aprons, and don’t forget to check out Breaking Matzo for additional Passover resources!

Caroline and Andy breaking matzo

 

 

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Posted on March 24, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Ricotta and Pine Nuts

Yield:
4 servings as main dish, 8 servings as a side dish

The trick to staying, ahem, healthy during Passover is eating as many veggies and fruits as you normally do. If your festive meals are front loaded with more meat than you regularly eat, it’s easy to shift to dairy or vegetarian menus, especially those that allow veggies to shine.

ricotta stuffed zucchini boats for Passover

These zucchini boats are matzah- free so expect the filling mixture to be creamy and luxuriant rather than firm. They are best eaten soon after they come out of the oven though they may be eaten warm or at room temperature.

ricotta stuffed zucchini boats for Passover

And speaking of matzah- free, this dish is perfect for any non-Passover meal also. It would be super served on a brunch buffet or served alongside a vegetable soup (tomato soup would be great), a green salad, roasted asparagus or peppers.

If you are up for making your own ricotta cheese (maybe when you’re not in the midst of the Passover cooking frenzy?) here’s an easy recipe from The Kitchn  or an even easier one from Ina Garten.

ricotta stuffed zucchini boats for Passover

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Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Ricotta and Pine Nuts

Posted on March 23, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Free Stuff: Artisanal Gefilte Fish Delivered to Your Door

We talk about the love and hate of gefilte fish a lot at The Nosher, and we know some of you love it. And others loathe it.

The Gefilteria gefilte fish

Enter The Gefilteria‘s gefilte fish: this is anything but that jarred stuff that looks like wet dryer lint. The brainchild of Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern, The Gefilteria is churning out carefully sourced, boutique gefilte fish among other re-imagined Old World Jewish foods. And as a small producer based in New York, they have a limited quantity of their coveted gefilte fish this Passover season.

 

gefilteria logo

But two very lucky Nosher readers will get to enjoy this item as part of their Passover Seder delivered to your door (*within the continental U.S.) via partner Challah Connection. How to score one of these precious loaves? Enter below! All you need to do is sign up for our newsletter.

 

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Posted on March 22, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Raspberry Swirl Chocolate Torte with Pecan Crust

Yield:
8-10 servings

Passover desserts can really be the worst. Canned macaroons. Dry cake. And while I know many people who love it, super rich flourless chocolate cake is just not my thing. I don’t enjoy how dense it is, even if i love chocolate. And I do love chocolate.

chocolate raspberry torte for Passover

Instead of the traditional, flourless chocolate cake, I wanted to create a chocolate dessert that was a bit lighter, while still remaining rich and chocolaty. The raspberry jam adds a slight tang to the torte, and pecan crust lends a nice crunch. I literally could not stop eating this, and so I gave it to my neighbors to eat instead. Suckers.

Note: After you bake the pecan crust it might look a little funny, like it didn’t work – almost a little too bubbly. I was also worried when I made it, but it is totally fine. I would also recommend topping your torte with fresh raspberries and even a few sprigs of mint for an extra beautiful presentation.

SONY DSC

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Raspberry Swirl Chocolate Torte with Pecan Crust

Posted on March 19, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Shredded Brisket Cumberland Pie

Yield:
8-10 servings

Savory meat pies have been everyday fare in Britain since the early Middle Ages. The original, hard-shelled stew-filled pasty was easy to carry along to the mines. But the outside crust wasn’t even intended to be edible at first. By the Elizabethan era, after the introduction of the potato into the British Isles, a corollary of the British meat pie arose. Simple potato-covered pies—like shepherd’s pie made with mutton and lamb, and cottage pie, chock full of beef—became common and have remained so. Cumberland pie is a variant that doesn’t get as much notice. It is not only delicious, but it is a great way to use cooked meat.

shredded brisket cumberland pie4

There are as many recipes for all these potato-topped pies as there are cooks, so finding an “original” recipe is all but impossible. Some recipes harken back to the Tudor era, with its mincemeat pies, meat pies flavored with sweet dried fruits and warm spices and flavorings such as saffron and candied citrus peels. In general though, shepherd’s pies tend to contain peas and legumes, while cottage pie, which seems to be a bit older, is simpler, with just a few root vegetables, chopped meat and plenty of sauce.

Cumberland pie is likely a variant of the cottage pie. Early recipes for Cumberland pie often include butter-rich mashed potatoes and occasionally there is cheddar cheese in the potato mix. With the accessibility of so many pareve milk-style products—from almond and cashew to soy or oat—creamy potatoes are now easy for kosher cooks. But what sets Cumberland pie apart is the crunchy topping, often a broiled top with plenty of toasted breadcrumbs.

shredded brisket cumberland pie1
When I lived outside of London in the 1980s, I ate more than my fair share of butter and cucumber sandwiches on pullman loaves, and fried egg and potatoes. But British food has undergone a renaissance, in much the same way that American food has.

My Cumberland pie is slowly braised at a low temperature with sweet wine. The parsnips in the stew are what gives it a decidedly Anglo-Ashkenazi spin. The recipe is easy to make in parts—perfect for Seder fare.  The meat should be made at least a day in advance, but it can be made up to five days ahead. The potatoes can be made the day before. The day you are serving the pie, skim the brisket pot well and remove the meat and vegetables. Heat the sauce until it has reduced in volume enough to coat the back of a spoon. That nappe (as French chefs call it) will make the dish flavor-rich. Cover the pie with the potatoes, warm in the oven, top with the crusty topping and broil at the last minute. It’s a showy and fun dish, perfect for a crowd and anything but bland.

cumberland pie for post

This recipe is actually as easy as pie to make but fear not the long list of ingredients. You’ll have a memorably hearty and flavor-rich dish that is worth the time.

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Shredded Brisket Cumberland Pie

Posted on March 18, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

How to Make Perfect Chicken Soup and Matzah Balls

Yield:
8-10 servings

More than any other question that I get from friends and readers is how to make a great chicken soup with matzah balls. Chicken soup is universal, comforting and enjoyed year-round, as opposed to some traditional Jewish foods that are only enjoyed at a particular holiday.

It’s not complicated if you follow a few easy steps, and this year we decided to help out even further by making a short video to help take away the mystery of making perfect chicken soup every time.

How to Make the Perfect Chicken Soup

We love debating sinkers versus floaters when it comes to matzah balls, right? Well I am firmly in camp fluffy. How to make fluffy matzah balls for your soup? Roll them very gently in the palms of your hands, make sure to wet your hands with ice water in between rolls and don’t forget the schmaltz. Or you can watch this video to help make the perfect fluffy matzah balls to go with your chicken soup.

The Secret to Fluffy Matzah Balls

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Best Chicken Soup

Posted on March 17, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Power Greens Matzah Ball Soup

Yield:
4-6 servings

Although I love tweaking traditional recipes, especially around Passover, (hello White Wine Braised Chicken or Manischewitz Ice Cream) there are some foods I never thought I’d touch. Such as my Bubbe’s matzo ball soup.

power greens matzah ball soup1

The rich homemade broth and with light and fluffy matzo balls and rounds of carrots, celery and my favorite parsnips. Its magically powers are unparalleled. Matzo ball soup has the ability to cure most ailments, bad days, and even my gentile friends request it all year long.

greens for matzah ball soup

But Passover food can be heavy. Potato kugel, chopped liver, flourless chocolate cake. I love it all, but sometimes it just doesn’t love me! The lack of greens and abundance of browns is apparent. This green soup cures that. What’s greatabout it is that you can pretty much throw in any greens you have in your fridge: broccoli, kale, Swiss chard. Throw it in there! It’s vegetarian friendly, and can be made ahead of time. In fact. The flavors just intensify as the days go on. Make sure to store the matzah balls separately, unless you want green balls. Which isn’t totally a bad thing.

power greens matzah ball soup2

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Power Greens Matzah Ball Soup

Posted on March 15, 2015

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy