Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rosewater and Pistachio Hamantaschen

Yield:
Around 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Each year as Purim approaches food bloggers like me scramble to find the most unique, creative and sometimes bizarre ways to make “hamantaschen.” I would be lying if I said I was immune to this pressure. But I have taken this annual challenge as an opportunity to focus on delicious flavor combinations for hamantaschen, not just crazy ideas, hence my most recent recipe: Speculoos hamantaschen which pretty much blew my chocolate ganache and salted caramel hamantaschen out of the water.

rosewater pistachio hamantaschen3

I was also thinking about color this year, and the Persian-inspired combination of rosewater and pistachio. Since picking up rosewater in Israel this past summer, I have tried using it in a number of dishes. I really love the subtle, fragrant flavor, although I have also learned that a little goes a long way: it can pack quite an overwhelming floral punch if you use too much.

Since the Purim story of Esther, Mordechai and Haman takes place in ancient Persia, what better flavors to use than rosewater and pistachio? You will love the rich yet subtle flavor of these treats, plus the color is just so pretty you can’t help but be thrilled to see these lined up on a platter at a Purim party.

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Rosewater and Pistachio Hamantaschen

Posted on February 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

Tagalong Hamantaschen

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People might wax poetic about the fall foliage or eagerly await summer, but the season I look forward to the most is Girl Scout Cookie season! New Years Diets are quickly forgotten…at the first sight of those adorable girls in green berets I squeal with excitement before buying so many boxes I have trouble carrying them away!  My favorites include Samoas and Thin Mints, but I think we can all agree that there’s almost no better combination than sweet peanut butter and delectable shortbread cookie all wrapped in a smooth chocolate coating.  Yes, my friends, it’s true. I am firmly on Team Tagalong.

As I was munching on some Tagalongs after work last week and glancing at my calendar at the upcoming holidays I realized it was pretty much my duty to all fellow Jewish food and Girl Scout cookie lovers to reinvent the Tagalong as a hamantaschen cookie. After a few attempts to perfect the recipe, I created an easy shortbread cookie dough, peanut butter filling and chocolate candy coating that my husband and friends couldn’t get enough of. It definitely tops the Chocolate Hamantaschen with Irish Crème Filling I created last year, and that one was pretty good.

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One note of caution – don’t upgrade the ingredients! When testing this recipe, I discovered using chocolate bark made all the difference in mimicking the flavors of the Tagalong. You might be tempted to go for the high quality dark chocolate, but don’t! The chocolate bark thinly coats the shortbread dough and peanut butter filling for that amazing crunch and taste that you used to only be able to find in that beautiful red Tagalong box.

These Tagalong hamantaschen taste identical to the original Girl Scout cookie, but in a Purim-perfect package your friends and family will adore – Scouts’ honor!

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Tagalong Hamantaschen

Posted on February 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

Inedible Hamantaschen Jewelry

Do you love food so much that you would wear it around your neck? Or hanging from your ears?

If the answer is yes then you are in luck because that’s exactly what sisters Jessica and Susan Partain are making with their company Inedible Jewelry.

The Martha Stewart Show

I first came across their adorable pieces of “inedible jewelry” while scrolling through instagram. I discovered their hamantaschen jewelry – that’s right, hamantaschen jewelry – and I wanted to learn more. They have challah charms, pomegranate earrings and even matzah jewelry, truly a Jewish female food lover’s dream come true. Jessica was kind enough to give me some of her time over the phone earlier this week, where I learned about how she turned a hobby for dollhouse food into a full time jewelry business.

The sisters aren’t Jewish (it’s ok guys, not everyone is perfect), but food has played an inspirational role in their upbringing. Jessica shared with me that her Italian grandmother was a huge influence in their life. “There was never just dinner – it was a 12 hour eating marathon. One time we even were walking out the door headed to a restaurant and she asked, ‘does anyone need anything to eat before we go to dinner.’ ”

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The sisters actually got started by making food for their dollhouse as kids, sculpting handmade, tiny food for their dolls who were “vastly over fed.” When they were in high school they decided playing with dollhouses wasn’t acceptable anymore, so they decided to focus their talents on jewelry. And in 2006 Jessica and Susan turned their part-time hobby into a full-time business, at least for Jessica who runs the business full time out of their native Charlottesville, Virginia. The vibrant farmer’s market in Charlottesville has even served as an incubator for their business, providing a great space to build up their following and test out ideas.

They don’t just make Jewish food of course, but a variety of classic American eats, sweets and even special orders. What’s the craziest request they ever got? A Japanese dessert called Taiyaki, or what is also known as “waffle fish.” And we thought gefilte fish was a strange dish. “Food speaks to such varied, but specific traditions and celebrations. That’s one of the reasons we love making our jewelry,” Jessica shared. People have even proposed with their jewelry!

Check out all their creations including their various hamantaschen pieces on Etsy. And if anyone wants to order me a challah necklace, you know where to find me.

hamantaschen jewelry collage

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Posted on February 11, 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

Rice Krispies Treats Hamantaschen

Yield:
2 dozen treats

As a former chef and pastry chef I had many delicious sweet and savory treats in mind to turn into hamantaschen for this year. But I wanted to keep it simple enough to recreate in a home kitchen, yet something different to also get people excited about Purim and hamantaschen of course too.

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Rice Krispies treats on a stick are always one of the most popular items I sell from my dessert company, and so it felt only natural to turn these into a Purim delight for the whole family to enjoy.

The best part about this recipe is that there is no oozing of filling, no seams of the dough breaking, and NO BAKING. This recipe may be different than your average Rice Krispies Treat since there is no fluff involved. The authentic way to make Rice Krispies Treats uses real marshmallows melted with a little butter to insure a crunchy, not too sweet and absolutely delicious dessert.

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To use these in your mishloach manot I recommend heading to Amazing Savings or Michael’s to get some cute treat bags to store them. Include a packet of hot chocolate mix and you have yourself an easy and delicious s’mores-themed mishloach manot.

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Rice Krispie Treat Hamantaschen

Posted on February 10, 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

Speculoos Hamantaschen

speculoos hamantaschen1 text

Speculoos, or European cookie butter, seems to be all the rage these days. Trader Joe’s makes their own brand and also has several speculoos related products including a chocolate bar and even flavored cookies. Food52 has a recipe for making your own cookie butter and Kitchen-Tested has a vegan recipe as well. I bought mine at Target, but I wager most major supermarkets will have it in stock.

I don’t always fall into trends, but I will admit: speculoos cookie butter is delicious and addictive. It is sweet, it tastes like a cookie but has the smooth, creamy consistency of peanut butter. I am not one to eat peanut butter right out of the jar, but dear god help me if I see a spoon near a jar of speculoos.

speculoos hamantaschen2

And so, it seemed perfectly obvious when my husband suggested a speculoos filled hamantaschen. I went to work right away, filling each triangle and then drizzling the finished product in dark chocolate and topped with pearl sugar. After all, a European cookie butter hamantaschen needs an extra sophisticated topping. I also added a pinch of thick sea salt to take the sweet flavors up a notch.

Note: the speculoos will spread a lot when it is baked, so make sure to pop your assembled cookies into the freezer for 5-10 minutes before baking. This will help ensure the cookies remain intact.

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Posted on February 9, 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

This Week in Noshing

I feel like I have barely left my apartment building for the past several weeks. Every week has been another snow storm, another reason to hunker down, bake something and avoid the wet, dreary weather. All you people living in warm climates – I know you have no idea what I am talking about. But my friends in Boston can certainly sympathize as the Northeast braces for more potential snow in the coming week.

While I might be going a bit stir crazy, the time indoors has allowed me to explore some new recipes and ingredients.

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I love making banana bread, pumpkin bread and zucchini bread, but sometimes you just want to shake things up a bit, you know? I came across this recipe for banana pineapple bread from The View from Grand Island, and I knew at once I needed to make it. The bread came out perfect and I loved the slight crunch from the poppy seeds. The pineapple added a nice tropical touch, a welcome flavor in this winter weather.

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I also made this chicken and chorizo gumbo from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.It was SO good, and much easier than I thought; I was a bit nervous to try my Northern hand at making such a Souther staple. I even replaced the okra with broccoli stems because that’s what I had in my fridge. If you are wondering: Kosher chorizo? The answer is yes! Have you heard of Jack’s Gourmet Kosher Sausage? They have a number of delicious flavors which you can find at your local kosher market or even order online. I have also made this potato and kale soup with chorizo using the sausage. It is spicy, but delicious.

chorizo

It’s officially citrus season! I look forward to blood oranges all year, and so last week during the snow storm I invited some neighbors over and made a batch of blood orange martinis, one of my favorite ways to enjoy the winter fruit.

blood orange martini

And in case you missed it, I also made my husband’s absolute favorite: spiced chocolate pudding pie with bourbon whipped cream.

pudding pie

I still have a few recipes up my sleeves including some upcoming hamantaschen recipes for Purim. I also came across this adorable idea for a heart-shaped caprese salad that I think could be made with triangle or other kid-friendly shapes, or even Jewish-shaped cookie cutters for holidays. And next week I will be checking out the Ninth Annual Kosher Food and Wine Expo where I am hoping to take in some great new kosher wines to share with you all too.

What are you cooking up? Don’t forget to tag your photos with the hashtag #noshthis on instagram, twitter or post right on our Facebook page to be featured as part of our monthly photo contest.

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Posted on February 4, 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

Love and Pudding Pie

Yield:
6-8 servings

chocolate pudding pie1

My mom was always baking when I was growing up. Nothing complicated, in fact, quite the opposite: leftover slices of white bread became bread pudding, banana bread was a frequent way to use up mushy bananas and we even got scratch-made chocolate chip cookies on rainy days. But perhaps the dessert I remember most fondly is my mom’s pudding pie. Also uncomplicated, she would make it from a box of pudding mix and pour it into a graham cracker crust, with several bowls filled with the leftover pudding for us to enjoy. I even loved the thick skin that would form on top.

Fast forward, and chocolate pudding pie is now my husband’s favorite dessert that I make. I don’t know quite how long ago, but probably shortly after we were married his cousin gifted me the Williams Sonoma Baking Book which has become a go-to for lots of my own rainy day baking projects. I found this chocolate pudding pie recipe and have been making a slightly altered version ever since. In fact, it’s probably the dessert I make most frequently because I know how much my husband covets the dessert.

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Unlike my mom’s version, I do make the pudding from scratch using whole milk, egg yolks, corn starch and a few special spices. But true to my mom’s version, I prefer using a store-bought graham cracker, or sometimes when I am feeling like we need a little extra chocolate, a chocolate cookie crust, which makes this recipe pretty simple to whip up even at the last minute. The taste is a little more sophisticated than your average chocolate pudding, a little bit decadent and absolutely easy as pie.

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Spiced Chocolate Pudding Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Posted on February 2, 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

King Cake Challah

Yield:
1 large challah cake

King cake challah3

I have always had a love of affair with the city of New Orleans. I have traveled there nearly ten times since my early 20’s: for work a few times, but more often, to visit our growing number of dear friends who live there. I love the warmth of the city, the vibrant culture and history, the music, and of course, the food.

While I enjoyed many delicious eats over my travels to the city, the first time I tasted a King Cake was three years ago, just a few months before our daughter was born. I was seven and a half months pregnant, waddling around Mardi Gras with an enormous protruding stomach, enjoying every moment, especially all the food. To welcome us to the Mardi Gras festivities, our dear friend Melanie arrived with a beautiful, colorful King Cake from Cake Cafe. This was no ordinary King Cake – it was stuffed with goat cheese and apples, and it was one of the best treats I have ever enjoyed. So much so that each year since, my husband longs to have another one, but there is just nothing comparable in the New York area.

king cake generic

For those not familiar with a King Cake, it is a Christian tradition that marks Kings Day (when the three kings brought gifts to baby Jesus) and so a small baby Jesus is traditionally baked inside a King Cake. It also marks the coming of Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, when it’s commnon to encounter many varieties of King Cake throughout the city between early January and Mardi Gras itself.

A King Cake should also not be confused with The King’s Cake, or a galette des rois, a beautiful French pastry that, to me, tastes like an enormous, buttery almond croissant. You may see it in your local bakery topped literally with a crown. It is absolutely delicious as well, but different from a King Cake. A King Cake in its modern form tastes most closely to a cheese danish or Entenmann’s coffee cake.

So what is a challah queen like me supposed to do with a love of King Cake, but no quality one available? Make a king cake challah of course.

I flavored the dough with some traditional king cake flavors, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. But the most fun parts of this challah creation are the icing and the colorful sprinkles. Gold, purple and green are the colors of Mardi Gras, and are the distinguishing factor between merely a round cheese danish, and a King Cake for Mardi Gras.

I didn’t bake a baby Jesus in the challah of course, but it would be perfect with a cup of coffee in the late afternoon. Or for breakfast, who am I to judge how you start your day? And while it won’t ever be the same as the amazing version from our time in New Orleans, at least it brought back some fond memories of New Orleans and our dear friends who welcome us back time and time again.

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King Cake Challah

Posted on January 29, 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 Use Schmaltz

My friends, family and even random Facebook buddies all know that I love using schmaltz. But the most frequent question I receive on the topic: how should I use leftover chicken fat?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Photo credit: Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat

Photo credit: Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat

First, what is schmaltz and how do you make it? Schmaltz is most commonly chicken fat, but can also be duck fat (my favorite) or goose fat (even better).  You can buy chicken fat in most grocery stores or butcher shops, but it is also very easy to make.

Most Jews I know use their schmaltz once per year, when they make chopped liver. I will admit: I love having an excuse to go a little schmaltz crazy when I make my Tuscan-style liver every year for Passover. Or maybe even when making matzah balls. But there are lots of other ways to use up that fat for delicious results throughout the year.

I know some of you are ready to yell at me. Schmaltz is unhealthy! Why are you advocating adding more fat to your diet? And to you people I will say, you are probably reading the wrong blog. But also, I am not advocating more, regular, excessive schmaltz consumption; I just want to share some other ways to use small amounts of the fat in order to add lots of flavor.

Some of my favorite ways to use a little shmaltz in my cooking:

– Swap out half the oil in a base of a soup, and saute your onions, garlic and/or vegetables in the golden fat for an extra flavor boost.

– Make caramelized onions using schmaltz for a great sandwich or hamburger topping.

– Swap out some of the oil in a savory noodle kugel or potato kugel recipe for schmaltz

– Drizzle on top of roasted vegetables or potatoes.

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And even more great recipes ideas:

Duck fat french fries from The Food Network

Deviled eggs with schmaltz and gribenes

Chicken fat roasted vegetables with gremolata from Food and Wine

Ultra crispy potatoes from Serious Eats

Green beans with schmaltz fried shallots from Melinda Strauss

Blueberry port duck with duck fat potatoes from Busy in Brooklyn

duck-breast-with-potatoes

Has your schmaltz craving and questions been answered? If not get yourself a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s Book of Schmaltz for even more recipes and tips.

Great recipes to share? Still more questions? Post below!

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Posted on January 27, 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

Chicken Soup with Quinoa, Leeks and Albóndigas

Yield:
10-12 servings

In the chill of January and February, comfort foods are more than just a welcome respite on the table. For a soul-warming winter dish, I often make soup. And there is one soup that I make that combines several of my favorite flavor profiles: Chicken soup (read: Ashkenazi all the way) with leeks (read: French- and Sephardic-influenced), albondigas, or little meatballs (read: Arab- and Mediterranean-influenced) with quinoa (read: healthy and Latino-influenced).

chicken soup with albondigas and leek and quinoa4

Quinoa has been a culinary darling for a number of years, but this Peruvian–Bolivian grain is worthy of the attention it gets. It’s packed with protein and gluten free. Oh yes, and it’s kosher for Passover too. The key to quinoa is to rinse it well and let it drain before using, and cook it until the little white circles—those cute curlicues—lift away from the center of the each grain.

uncleaned leeks for soup1

In the U.S., leeks, unlike quinoa, are still living in the shadow of other foods—largely by other members of the allium family, like onions. But leeks have a wonderfully gentle flavor that has always been loved in many other areas of the world. Now, they are a bit messy to deal with since soil is embedded between those big leaves.But you can buy them already nice and clean, all cut up, in well-stocked grocery stores, either in the produce aisle or freezer case.

Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish, though they aren’t Spanish at all – they originate from the Middle East. And just about every culture in every country has come up with their own meatballs, based on what they had available and their favorite herbs and spices. For Latino countries, that often meant onions, a bread-style binder, eggs, and fresh, local herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, Mexican oregano, mint, and epazote (another Mexican herb). In Mexico and Central America the most common way to eat little meatballs is in soups.

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This chicken soup is an amalgam of flavor profiles, with a distinct emphasis on Latin flavors. Enjoy it—and make it your own; the recipe is as much a formula as a template for your favorite flavors. So reach for what you like best, and have fun with comfort foods from around the world.

Notes

To clean leeks, remove the tough green outer leaves and root ends.  Cut them in half lengthwise and slice crosswise in half-circles. Fill a bowl with water, place the leeks into it and wash well, separating the interior layers with your fingertips. Leeks absorb huge amounts of dirt and sand as they grow, so keep washing until they are perfectly clean; the dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl while the leeks float to the surface. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and set aside. (Don’t drain by pouring the water out of the bowl over them or you will be pouring the dirt back onto them.) Rinse the bowl thoroughly, fill with water, return the leeks to the bowl, and soak until you are ready to use them.

Pimenton, a sweet smoked paprika is Spain’s favorite seasoning. It imparts both sweetness and smokiness to recipes and is beloved throughout the Mediterranean region.

Masa harina is a traditional Mexican cornmeal flour. Dried corn is processed in a mixture of lime and water, which makes it easier to hull and also makes its nutrients more accessible. The wet, processed corn is ground into a dough called masa. When the processed corn is dried and ground into flour, it is called masa harina.

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Chicken Soup with Quinoa, Leeks and Albóndigas

Posted on January 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