Doesn’t it seem like Memorial Day has arrived a bit early this year!? We are barely past Shavuot and now a wonderful three day weekend looms before us.
I love a meal with a Summery barbecue or picnic theme, and so what better cuisine to serve for a Shabbat meal over Memorial Day? In fact I am going to use Shabbat dinner this week to try out a new recipe: ultimate burgers with spicy mayo, avocado and onion straws, which I have never tried before. I am planning to use none other than The Pioneer Woman’s Onion Strings recipe but I will be replacing the buttermilk with coconut milk and adding a Tbsp of white vinegar. I mean, look at these gorgeous fried onions – who wouldn’t want to top a juicy burger with these:
My other suggestions for a BBQ themed shabbat dinner?
How about one of these refreshing Watermelon Martinis to kick off dinner and the long weekend.
One of my new favorite recipes to make is this Horseradish Coleslaw, which no matter how much I make, my husband keeps asking for more. It’s a tangy, slightly spicy take on classic coleslaw.
A simple salad like this Cucumber Tomato Salad, from The Blond Cook, can go a long way if you are serving a slightly heavier entree. Have leftovers? Serve it the next day for lunch with some crumbled feta on top. Another great side dish to serve with a heavier meal that can do double duty for lunch the next day is this bright and colorful Mediterranean Pasta Salad from Leah Cooks Kosher.
Nothing says BBQ like some ribs, right? How about these Barbecue Beef Ribs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce from The Overtime Cook. Looking to save time but still want a great main dish to serve? Try these Ribs in a Crock Pot from Little B Cooks.
Last but not least: dessert! Go simple and beautiful with these Fruit Skewars with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, wonderful holiday weekend and happy cooking!
I have spent a long time working on my challah – the consistency, baking time, different flavors. And for me it has always been about the taste, not about the look. But, everyone knows we eat as much with our eyes and nose as we do with our mouth, so I felt it was about time I put forth some effort to perfect my challah braiding.
When I began this endeavor I had only used three techniques for braiding: simple three strand braid (below), a knotted challah roll and a round six-braid challah for holidays that a lovely lady named Chayie Chinn taught me years ago using play-do!
But I was determined to master a six braid challah, what I consider the prettiest of all the challah shapes.
The Shiksa, one of my favorite bloggers, has a whole tutorial about braiding different kinds of challah which you can check out here. But truth be told (sorry Tori!) I didn’t love her suggestion for a six braid challah, and so after practicing with her instructions I was still in search of a technique (and a virtual teacher) that would give me the beautiful, uniform-shaped challahs I was looking for.
Finally after some google searching late one night, I came across this video from Maya Sprague which seemed to have the kind of directions I was seeking – step by step, and a braiding technique slightly different than some others.
It was confusing at first to follow along, so I recommend having everything you will need at hand, including your laptop or ipad. I pressed pause a lot, and rewound to make sure I was crossing over the correct strand. After a few tries I was definitely getting into the rhythm. I hope with some more practice this technique will become like second nature to me!
Now I know everyone has a different recipe, and a different way of shaping challahs, so I am a big believer in whatever works for you. And this is what worked for me, so thank you Maya for your awesome directions! Your challot are stunning.
Check out my gorgeous six braid challahs from last week! Do you have challah braiding tips? We want to know! Post your best tips below.
Last year at this time, well, I was significantly larger as you can see. Our daughter was due to arrive around May 14th, mere days before my 30th birthday. While I was eager for our new addition to come out, I was also determined to celebrate my 30th birthday sans the new baby. Little did I know that our lady would hang on for another two weeks! But that’s another story.
As I milled around at home waiting for the contractions to start, I figured that I might as well bake myself a birthday cake. And so I did.
If you have never tasted anything from Momofuku Milk Bar, or haven’t seen Christina Tosi’s genius cookbook well then it is definitely time. Her desserts are so unique, many of them with a salty-sweet element that is precisely my cup of tea. So for my 30th birthday I decided I wanted to make her version of classic birthday cake. It is one of the best cake recipes I have ever made or eaten, which I cannot even attribute to my heightened pregnancy taste buds.
This year I made it again for my husband’s birthday and expanded on the decoration with my own twist:
As this year’s birthday rolled around, a rather uneventful-feeling #31, I decided that making my own birthday cake should be an annual event. And once again, I did.
My birthday also coincided with Shavuot this year, so it was the perfect chance to combine my love of a daiy-centric holiday with a decadent birthday cake.
Those of you who read The Nosher regularly must know by now that my absolute favorite go-to dessert is this Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe, which I usually make pareve my substituting the milk for coconut or almond milk and bake in a bundt pan. But with Shavuot, there was no substitution needed – how nice! However, I wanted this cake to have a mocha flavor, so I substituted the 1 cup of water for 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee.
To compliment the mocha cake flavor, I made this kahlua cream cheese frosting from Lovin From the Oven, and what a hit! I love love love kahlua, and this rich frosting paired perfectly with my mocha cake.
Topped with some oreo crumbs and crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans and voila: my mocha chocolate kahlua cake! Happy Birthday to me, the ultimate nosher! We all deserve a little cake for our birthdays, so I say, let us eat cake!
And finally we get to one of my favorite Jewish holidays to cook for: Shavuot. I love making dairy meals, and even more than the meal itself, I love making dairy dessert!
Here are some of my favorite dairy-rific recipes to enjoy this Shavuot. My top pick: definitely the salted caramel ice cream – it’s so rich and creamy you can eat a small serving and feel satisfied. Then again, no harm in having a slightly larger serving either.
Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Salad from Naturally Ella
Maple Sour Cream Bundt Cake from The Overtime Cook
A few months ago I was having lunch at my favorite Midtown NYC pizza spot – Pizza By Cer Te (no, it’s not kosher sorry) when I witnessed a culinary treat never before seen: a “lasagna cupcake.” I was determined to recreate this creative morsel, and I thought what better time than for Shavuot when it is traditional to eat dairy!
I love serving dairy meals, a bone of contention between me and my husband, who would prefer to consume meat at most meals. I even hosted a Shabbat dinner for my birthday a few years ago where everyone was challenged with bringing a dish that included my favorite ingredient: mascarpone. It was super dairy-rific and fun to see the creative ways people incorporated the creamy, Italian cream cheese into dishes like artichoke dip and lasagna.
This recipe was super easy to prepare, but looks cute and impressive. Truth be told, the most challenging part was locating these aluminum cups, which I bought at a special baking supplies store. You can also use individual ramekins, or even bake them in muffin pans and remove them once baked.
The best way to serve these if you aren’t serving them right away is to wait to pipe on the cream cheese-ricotta mixture until ready to serve. First, reheat the ziti cupcakes until heated through. Once heated, pipe the ricotta-cream cheese mixture and pop back in the oven or preferably under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with dried or fresh basil and serve!
For the baked ziti:
1/2 lb penne or ziti pasta
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup plus extra tomato sauce
For the "frosting":
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
In a large pot bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta as directed, around 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, beaten egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once pasta is drained, add sauce, pasta into the cheese mixture and mix together. This doesn't have to be totally incorporated, in fact, its better if not.
Spray each aluminum cup or ramekin with cooking spray.
Place pasta mixture into each cup until it reaches just the top of the cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Add extra sauce if desired.
When ready to serve, mix ricotta with cream cheese in small bowl. Place mixture into piping bag or large ziploc bag. Snip the end of the piping bag or the tip of the ziploc bag and pipe ricotta mixture on top of ziti cups in a switl pattern.
Place cups under broiler or in oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is set, but before the cheese starts to melt too much.
Sprinkle top with fresh or dried basil and serve.
Brunch is just about the best meal of the week. Brunch is lazy. Brunch is enjoyed with the best people in your life – your partner, your dog, your kids, or your best girlfriends. Brunch is hearty, delicate and boozy all at the same time. And I personally love making brunch as much as I like going out to brunch.
The perfect brunch has something sweet, something salty and something delicious to drink like strongly brewed coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. A bloody mary or mimosa doesn’t hurt either. I always try to serve one baked item, such as a muffin or scone’; something with eggs, like poaches eggs over latkes or a quiche; a nice big fruit salad; orange juice and coffee.
Here are some of my tried-and-true favorite brunch recipes perfect to make for the special mother in your life:
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Bon Apetit. I like to replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour. I also add 1 Tbsp flax seed to the dry ingredients.
Madame Croque Muffins from Rachel Khoo I love this recipe and make it over and over again – just leave out the ham to make it kosher. No one will ever know that you altered the recipe.
Asparagus Leek and Gruyere Quiche from Martha Stewart
Smoked Salmon Breakfast Latkes from The Nosher! One of my favorite interpretations of Jewish food.
Salads can be boring. In fact, every time I try to eat a salad for lunch I feel disappointed – like an opportunity for something delicious has been robbed from me. Which is why I am the queen of fun salads in my house, and am always looking to create new ways to put together my favorite fruits, veggies and nuts.
This is a recipe I haven’t made for YEARS but thought it was time to bring it back into the rotation, especially in time for Shavuot! You can serve this as a side salad for any dairy meal, and it’s perfect for a Shabbat lunch dish. Want to make it into a full meal? Serve it with some simply grilled or poached salmon and you are sure to feel some salad salmon satisfaction. Want to serve it with a meat meal? Just leave off the goat cheese!
I like making my own dressing, but you don’t have to – just pour on your favorite bottled dressing or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For the salad:
1 package pre-washed spinach
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
For the dressing:
2 tsp whole grain or dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Place spinach leaves in large bowl. Add blueberries, cucumber, edamame, goat cheese and macadamia nuts.
In a small bowl combine mustard, lemon juice, honey, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil and whisk until dressing comes together.
People often ask for my challah recipe, at which point I explain it’s not the recipe itself that is the key, it’s really some of the other steps, including some of the gear that I use that makes my challah so good.
Some of my tips?
Feed your yeast – make sure to add 1 tsp sugar to your yeast and lukewarm water mixture to help move it along, thus “feeding your yeast.” When the yeast-water mixture is foamy and bubbling on top you will know its ready,
Double the rise – always let your challah rise twice! Let it rise once for 2-4 hours, punching down as needed. Then braid your challah and let it rise again before baking for a super fluffy result.
My dear friend Danielle, a trained pastry chef, was always telling me I NEEDED a scale. And you know what – she was right. A digital scale for baking is really essential and I don’t know how I ever survived without it. You might be asking…why would I use this for challah!? I am not good at eye-balling dough so that it is the same amount in each strand, each loaf or when I make individual challah rolls. Measuring your dough will ensure more even distribution and an all-around better-looking loaf!
A silpat, although perhaps a pricey investment since I recommend buying 2, is well worth the upfront cost. You know when the bottom of your bread gets slightly burned, but the inside and top is perfect? Well a silpat will make sure that doesn’t happen. And you can use it for much more than challah – it’s ideal for cookies as well.
My next suggestion has many applications beyond just challah – a dough scraper is a great tool to have for baking in general. But why for challah? I love using the scraper to cut the dough into clean pieces as I am dividing it up. And perhaps even more exciting than cutting is how easy a scraper makes clean-up since you can use it to collect all the bits of dough and flour off your counter or work surface.
Lastly, I recommend a good non-silicone pastry brush in order to apply your egg wash. I have also used silicone pastry brushes, but I simple prefer the non-silicone variety. I also use pastry brushes like these when making scones, pies and a variety of cookies.
On the weekends growing up there was no better lunch for my mom than boxed mac n cheese. And us kids weren’t complaining! I can even remember how my mom would stand at the stove and scrape those last few little pastas into her mouth with a spoon.
I do love any kind of pasta with a cheese sauce, but I don’t want to serve my daughter something with so much salt, added color and goodness-knows-what-else that typically comes in the boxed variety.
So as I was peering into my fridge last week I decided to add pureed sweet potato as part of a bechamel sauce over pasta for my little lady. The dish turned out so good I decided to have a bowl right alongside my daughter. And in the end, we were both savoring the last spoonfuls of mac n cheese together.
What’s great about a dish like this is that you can really add and subtract according to your tastes. Instead of pureed sweet potato, you can insert butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin or spinach. It’s an easy, sneaky way to add a little more veggies into your life and also add additional creaminess to the sauce.
I also love the bright orange color that the pureed sweet potato turned the cheese sauce, without any “fake stuff.”
1/2 lb mini shells, tubetini or elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
reserved pasta cooking water
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as directed, around 8-9 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter in medium saucepan over low-medium heat. When butter is foamy and almost completely melted, add 1 Tbsp flour and whisk around 2 minutes, to ensure the flour is cooked. Add milk, yogurt and sweet potato puree one at a time, whisking in between to ensure mixture is smooth.
Add 2-3 Tbsp of pasta cooking water and whisk some more.
Add cheese and whisk until completely melted and sauce is smooth once again.
At this point you can leave the sauce as is, or add a few more Tbsp of the pasta cooking water depending on how thick you prefer your mac 'n cheese.
Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Drain pasta and add pasta to cheese sauce. Mix together and serve.
It seems like the Jewish world has sweets on the brain lately! I think the kosher world is continually striving for a greater variety of kosher desserts and specialty items, and it seems like we are slowly getting there which is pretty exciting.
I’ve long been saying that the moment of the cupcake has passed, and that other desserts are taking its place instead. I thought for a little while it might be replaced by the whoopie pie, or even the cake pop. But the macaron has really taken center stage over the past 2 years.
Macarons are not my personal sweet of choice – I don’t love the chewy texture. But a lot of people DO love them, and they are a great option for Passover or Shabbat, because they are often pareve and flour-free! Want to be bold and make your own? What Jew Wanna Eat’s Amy Kritzer has a recipe for (dairy) Raspberry Macarons with Cream Cheese Filling.
But for those of us less willing to put in the grunt work, Macarons and Cookies By Woops just opened a new location in the Garden State Plaza Mall in New Jersey! Check out their beautiful sweet on their website. And yes, they are kosher!
I adore a good pot of freshly brewed tea, especially made with high quality loose tea. A friend posted on Facebook this week that Davids Tea is now offering over 90 kosher certified loose-leaf teas! I am partial to chamomile and English Breakfast, but they also offer several oolang varieties, blueberry flavored black tea, chai, chocolate and sweet dreams, just to name a few of the 90 flavors! You can place an order from on their website.
And in the Lakeview area of Chicago, a small sweets shop called Windy City Sweets has allowed members of the observant Jewish community’s nearby synagogue to create Shabbat accounts so that the the community can enjoy ice cream on Shabbat afternoon. The arrangement was so successful that Rabbi Asher Lopatin (the rabbi of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation) now uses the sweet shop to regularly host ice cream happy hours and post-holiday ice cream celebrations. Now that’s a community with its priorities straight! Read more about this from The Forward’s Jew and the Carrot.