Hello Nosher readers! I’m so honored to have a recipe on this lovely site. I’ve been a long-time reader of MyJewishLearning.com so am extra honored to be featured.
Now, about this recipe. Lately, I’ve been on a mad “one-pot” meal frenzy.
I’ve got several full time jobs, including one with health insurance benefits and one with hugs-and-kisses benefits, both of which take up a lot of time. When it comes to cooking for Shabbat (or any meal), I try to keep it simple. This little side dish would be perfect with some grilled lemon salmon or any baked fish, really. And, if bread crumbs are omitted or almond flour is substituted, it’s grain-free and gluten-free friendly, which also means Passover-friendly. I hope you enjoy!
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (or almond flour if gluten-free)
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the tomatoes, cauliflower, garlic and olive oil in an 9x13-inch baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower are browning, about 25 - 30 minutes. After 25 - 30 minutes, you might notice that the casserole has become a bit watery.
Note: you might want to spoon out some of that moisture to help the cauliflower keep its crispness.
Combine the panko breadcumbs and the butter, then sprinkle over the tomatoes. Next, sprinkle the Parmesan over the casserole. Broil for 30 - 45 seconds, then sprinkle the basil over the top. Serve.
I have been following Whitney Fisch, aka Jewhungry, for the past 6 months on instagram, and eventually started reading her blog as well. I love her fresh, kosher recipes and the stories she shares about being a mom and a middle school counselor at a day school in Miami. So when she and I finally got to catch up on the phone last week I was absolutely thrilled. Read more below to hear how she got into cooking (hint: it all started in Jerusalem!) and about an exciting Passover cookbook she has in the works.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging about three years ago, initially with my friend Jeremy, mostly about cultural Jewish stuff and some food. I was working all the time and I really needed an outlet that allowed me some escape from my busy work life. It didn’t start as a food blog, and I actually took some time off from blogging all together while I was pregnant because the smell of all food made me nauseous.
After my pregnancy, Jeremy and I, though still very close friends, decided he would focus on other writing opportunities so I ended up taking over the blog, and it organically took on a new direction: parenting stories, stories about being a social worker and a counselor as well as stories about growing up in the South and living in Miami. And of course, I was writing about what I was cooking and eating.
Have you always loved cooking?
No not even a little bit!
I tried so hard to cook after college. And I had some tragic mishaps along the way. For example, when I was 22 I tried to make potato salad, but it didn’t dawn on me that I had to boil the potatoes first. I tried to serve it at a backyard picnic…well, it was not successful.
It wasn’t until I moved to Jerusalem and I was a stone throw’s away from the shuk that I started experimenting with cooking. It happened that I also met my future husband at that time and he let me use him as a guinea pig for my cooking. There was actually one time he made roasted potatoes with onion soup mix – how “Ashkenazi mom” of him – and I thought it was a culinary revelation. This shows you how much I was food illiterate.
It was through being in Jerusalem, having the time to cook in the evenings and being so close such amazing, fresh food that I really started cooking.
Has living in Miami influenced your cooking?
Absolutely! I am influenced both in terms of taste and visually. The colors that I choose, props I use on the blog – everything. I use lime and cilantro in at least half my dishes – those flavors are so prevalent here.
And the weather here really influences my cooking. I am not making cholent, stews or heavy meats. It’s 85 degrees! So I want to eat fresh.
You didn’t always keep kosher. Is there anything you miss?
I wouldn’t say there is anything I miss per say. It is more about foods I am curious about that I have never eaten. For example, I want to try full-on French food. I read all of Julia Child’s books. And then I read all of Ruth Reichl’s books. So it’s more about what I am curious about eating more so that any single food that I miss.
What have you learned from blogging?
Early on I was advised by someone who told me I should write less, and I am glad I ignored that advice. I get amazing letters from people that read and really enjoy the stories I share.
So while I have continued writing, at some point I stopped doing complicated recipes and starting cooking more simple things, because that’s what I had time for and also those are popular with people. Sometimes people just want a good veggie chili recipe, etc.
What has been the best thing that has happened as a result of blogging?
Definitely the connections between people – the friends I have made online, especially with other bloggers. For example, I had a google hangout this morning with Amy Kritzer, Liz Rueven and The Patchke Princess talking about the Passover cookbook we are working on! I feel like we are supportive of one another, not competitive.
I have made so many friends through the internet and blogging including unexpected friends like The Rural Roost, who is neither kosher nor Jewish. But how exciting is it to connect with someone from Montana who I may not have ever met otherwise!
What advice do you have for someone else who wants to start a food blog?
Make sure you figure out your voice and where you want to go with blogging. Once you figure out your voice, you need to make sure you are connecting with other bloggers who share a similar focus as you. It helps build a community through like-minded bloggers.
What’s on the horizon for Jewhungry?
A lot!I am moving to Los Angeles where, among other things, I will be doing recipes and parent blogging for JkidLA. I am also working on a redesign for the blog and of course the Passover cookbook I mentioned.
A lot of my friends have fond memories of their grandmother’s chicken soup or their mom’s amazing brisket. Sadly, I don’t have these sacred food memories. My Jewish grandmother (who I love dearly) is not such a great cook. Her kugel is always dried-out, her soup is too fatty and still needs salt, and she serves jarred gefilte fish at holidays, which more closely resembles lint from a dryer than something edible.
But one of the dishes she makes that I do enjoy is her marinated cucumber salad. It’s a dish that she learned to make from her grandmother (my great-great grandmother) who lived most of her life in Russia.
I updated her recipe just a bit, using seedless English cucumbers instead of regular cucumber, and adding a bit of spice with just a pinch of red pepper. I also love serving my salad in mason jars – definitely a modern twist.
This quick salad is a cinch to whip up, keeps for several days in the fridge and is a real crowd-pleaser. My young daughter devours it, and even my father-in-law approves – truly the ultimate compliment.
1 large seedless English cucumber
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp water
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
Slice cucumber 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and dill.
Add thinly sliced cucumbers and onions to bowl and mix until liquid coats all the cucumbers and onions.
Place salad into container and allow to chill several hours or overnight.
Tu Bishvat is the perfect holiday for locavores, school kids and home cooks, alike. It’s a fruit-focsued holiday with plenty of room for creative cooking and connecting more deeply with the land as Spring approaches.
School kids love the field trips to plant trees while home cooks and chefs dream up new ideas for integrating the seven edible species mentioned in the Torah:
When M. returned from a quick trip to visit his parents in Israel, he brought back a tightly wrapped disc of plump, moist figs in his backpack. I immediately turned to Mollie Katzen’s latest vegetarian book The Heart of the Plate for inspiration on how to integrate these beauties into a dish where figs would be the stars while I stay true to eating within the growing season here in the Northeast.
5-6 ripe figs (dried are fine)
1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime
3 ounces parmesan cheese
1 loaf ciabatta or sourdough baguette (fresh or day-old)
1 large or 2 small bunches lacinato kale (1/2 pound total)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, cut in half and then into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
lemon or lime wedges
Stem the figs and slice them lengthwise into about 5 wedges apiece. Place them in a medium dish and sprinkle with lemon or line juice. Toss gently to coat and set aside.
Shave strips of parmesan from the block of cheese, using a sturdy vegetable peeler. Lovely cheese ribbons will ensue. Set aside.
Slice the bread into approximately a dozen thin (as in almost see-through) slices. Larger slices from ciabatta can be halved for easier handling and consumption. Set aside.
Hold each kale leaf by the stem and use a very sharp knife to release the leaf from the stem (it's OK to leave the narrow part of the stem that blends into the leaf farther up).
Make a pile of leaves, roll them tightly, and cut crosswise into thin strips. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water and swish around to clean. Spin very dry and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Place a large deep skillet over medium heat for about a minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt.
Cook, stirring and/or shaking the pan a little, for 2-3 minutes, until the onion becomes shiny and is still this side of tender.
Transfer the hot onion to the kale in the bowl and stir everything around for a bit, then return the entire bowlful of kale-plus-onion to the pan. Stir-fry quickly - for just a minute or so - over medium-high heat until the kale turns an even deeper shade of green and wilts slightly.
Return it all to the bowl, tossing in the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. You can add some of the parmesan ribbons at this point, if you like them to melt in slightly.
Remove the pan from the heat, wait a minute or two, then add the vinegar to the pan (stand back - it will sizzle), swirl it around, and pour what's left of it onto the kale. (It will most likely evaporate.)
Without bothering to clean the pan, return it to the stove over medium heat. Wait another minute, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add the bread slices in a single layer and grill on each side until lightly golden and perfectly crisp.
Transfer the toasts to the kale, along with the figs and all their juice.
Toss quickly (no need to get things uniform), adding the remaining cheese and walnuts as you go.
Serve right away, passing a pepper mill over the salad and offering wedges of lemon or lime to be squeezed over the figs.
Yes, yes it’s COLD. We all got the memo. So instead of just kvetching about it, how about warming up with some homemade soup.
I love a hearty soup with a piece of crusty bread for lunch or paired along side a chopped salad for dinner. Soup is a great way to use leftovers, and also a great way to get in some extra veggies.
So while you’re bundled up avoiding the polar vortex, try your hand at one of these satisfying soups that is sure to make you forget that it’s actually -4 degrees outside.
Hearty Lentil Soup from Liz Rueven
Roasted Eggplant and Chickpea Soup from Martha Stewart
Cumin Spiced Tomato Soup with Wild Rice from Aviv Harkov
Weekday dinnertime, sigh. You’re tired, you’re hungry and you just want to sit down with a glass of wine and unwind from the day.
Before you reach for those takeout menus, you may want to rummage around in your fridge to see what ingredients you have on hand that can easily be thrown together. That’s exactly what I did last week while looking for something quick, easy (but delicious) to have for dinner after a long day at work.
Because you cook the broccoli with the pasta, this pasta dish is really a cinch to whip up, even on those nights when cooking is the last thing you want to do. No chickpeas? You could replace them with cannellini beans. Extra chicken lying around? Leave out the ricotta and add in some grilled chicken pieces instead.
The lemon zest in this dish goes a long way, packing a strong punch of flavor with such a small step. Do you have a lemon zester as part of your kitchen arsenal? If not make sure to get one immediately! I have one on hand all the time, and even have a separate one for Passover. Here’s the one I love using.
1 cup penne pasta
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta as directed. For the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add broccoli florets to water.
Drain pasta and broccoli.
Add pasta and broccoli to a large bowl and coat with olive oil. Add chickpeas and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Add ricotta on top and serve.
Okay everyone, it’s a new year, and so it’s time for a new salad!
Kale is everywhere, and I must admit – I long ago hopped onto the kale train. I love making roasted kale as a salty, crispy snack. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I would make my way through three entire bags of kale in a single week. I just love kale and I know I am not the only one. There’s even a cookbook called Fifty Shades of Kale dedicated to the leafy green!
Recently I’ve had a few different kinds of salad using raw kale as the base, instead of spinach or other mixed greens. It was hearty and really satisfying, so I decided I would move on from roasting or sauteing the kale, and go right for a chopped kale salad.
You can dress this salad up to your liking by adding some chopped cucumber, red onion or some feta cheese. Want to make this this salad into a full meal? Add grilled chicken on top for a hearty lunch or dinner.
3 cups chopped fresh kale
2 medium beets
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup chopped candied walnuts
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the beets. Place in tin foil and roast in oven for 45-60 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool. Remove the outer peel of beets using hands or a vegetable peeler.
Cut beets into bite-sized pieces.
Place chopped kale in a large salad bowl. Add beets, apple, candied walnuts and dried cherries or cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or salad dressing of your choosing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
This time of year, I love thinking back on the highlights of what I ate, what I made and what I want to create in the coming year. I focused a lot this year on my cakes, which I will be sharing on the blog in 2014 (stay tuned!), and I expanded my vegetarian repertoire significantly. And meanwhile, the Jewish food scene was busy with its own 2013 agenda, some of which I found exciting, and some that I would be happy to see not make a re-appearance in 2014.
Gluten-Free Everyone and Everything
If one more person tells me they are going gluten-free or their doctor has told them they have a gluten allergy, I am going shove a loaf of challah right into their mouth. Ok, I know that might sound harsh. But it seems like everyone around me has gone gluten-free this year, no!?
If you ask me, Jews have always been the kings and queens of gluten-free cooking and baking, since it’s pretty close to a Passover diet! For example, my Passover Sweet Potato Pie with Macaroon Crust is also…gluten-free. A happy side effect.
But aside from my snarky attitude about the gluten-free fad, there are great resources out there including Rella Kaplowitz’s kosher gluten-free blog and even an entire Jewish cookbook dedicated to classic Jewish baked goods called Nosh on This. And don’t forget to check out our very own recipe for the Ultimate Gluten-Free Challah.
Pop-Ups Popping Up
Pop-up restaurants have been, literally, popping up all over the country for the past couple of years. In fact the first time I experienced a pop-up was in New Orleans about 3 years ago. The general concept of a pop-up is for a chef or group of chefs who want to try something different, or who don’t have their own space, will use a traditional restaurant space or other space and open a restaurant for a short amount of time. And in 2013 pop-ups have taken on a distinctively Jewish flavor. Devra Ferst wrote in The Forward that “New York Pop-Ups Deliver the Country’s Most Exciting Jewish Fare.”
Earlier this year The Kubbeh Project from Naami Shefi made the biggest headlines, opening for three weeks in the East Village of New York City.
And Danya Cheskis-Gold has run a Shabbat dinner series called Pop-Up Shabbat since July 2013, an intimate Shabbat dinner with innovative food, music, drinks and new friends. When Danya created Pop-Up Shabbat it wasn’t just about the food, it was also about creating a different kind of Jewish experience. She explained,
“I’ve got 15 years of Jewish education, summer camp, and USY under my belt, and my grandparents met at a Zionist meeting, so you might say I’m pretty identified with my religious and cultural background. I’ve tried out synagogues all over the Manhattan and hippie minyans in Brooklyn, but nothing’s been quite the right fit. So, I started Pop-Up Shabbat. It’s my DIY Judaism – it makes me feel connected to the community and traditions that I most love about being Jewish, but in a way that’s relevant for me, others like me and fits in with my lifestyle.”
A Return to Meat
I am not anti-meat by any means, although I do eat a mainly vegetarian diet these days for health and environmental reasons. So when I do eat meat I want to know that it is quality which is why it was great to find out that in 2013 the Prime Hospitality Group started serving certified Angus Beef at most of their NYC restaurants, a trend I expect to see spreading in 2014 as people become increasingly concerned about the quality and origins of the meat they consume.
But there were several other exciting meat-centric trends this year including a focus on BBQ and upscale steakhouses, which Dani Klein from YeahThatsKosher.com was kind enough to share some of his thoughts about:
Smoking meat isn’t something commonly found in kosher restaurants until recently. Smokey Joe’s in Teaneck, NJ has been pleasing Bergen County residents with their flavors for a few years now, but BBQ has truly exploded in 2013. What was formerly known as “Hakadosh BBQ” (currently “Wandering Cue”), originally a pop-up BBQ event in Westchester County hosted by caterer Ari White, turned into a year of appearances throughout NYC and beyond, especially at street fairs and events. One of those events was the 2nd annual Long Island Kosher BBQ Championship, where professional and amateur BBQ-ers battled it out. Outside of the NYC area, Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed opened in Chicago to rave reviews.
Lots of NY kosher steakhouses in the news this year. The Prime Grill moved to a new, larger location further north in midtown east, in addition to giving “Prime at the Bentley” a permanent home at the Bentley Hotel (which was originally a pop up restaurant in late 2012). Mike’s Bistro announced that it is leaving the Upper West Side and moving to Midtown East. In addition to the opening of Chagall Bistro in Brooklyn, two new high end kosher steakhouses opened their doors in the second half of 2013: La Brochette, a French steakhouse on Lexington Ave, replacing a previous kosher restaurant; and Reserve Cut, a beautiful, modern steakhouse opened up in the Setai downtown by Wall Street. This year also saw the close of J SOHO (formerly “Jezebel”) which was open for barely more than a year.
The Croissant Craze
If you haven’t heard of the Cronut, a donut-croissant hybrid that took over NYC this year, you might have been living under a rock in 2013. The cronut even hit Israel, with multiple varieties sweeping the country. And just recently in NYC, a new croissant hybrid came onto the scene at Bubby’s: the crnish, a croissant-knish combination.
I predict there are many more Jewish food mash-ups in store for 2014, and I can’t wait to see what crazy combos are born.
If Christmas is a time for tradition and family, then count me in! But I’m not talking about building gingerbread houses and trimming the tree. Our Jewish Christmas traditions were more about moo shu, a movie (ideally in the Home Alone series) and maybe a trip to the local casino. Usually, we’d pile in the car and head over to Cheng Du, one of the only restaurants open that day in town, and fill up on chicken & broccoli, vegetable dumplings and fortune cookies. And then an hour later when we were hungry again, finish the leftovers.
A few years ago, maybe turned off by the crowds or MSG, or inspired by my love of eating at home, I decided to start making my own Chinese food for Christmas instead. One bite of my homemade General Tso’s Chicken and I was hooked! This year, I took the decidedly unkosher Crab Rangoon and swapped the crab for lox. The result? Like a fried version of my favorite bagel breakfast. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Now you can have lox and schmear for every meal. Christmas can’t come soon enough!
8 ounces cream cheese (dairy or pareve), at room temperature
4 ounces lox, finely diced
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp chives, minced
Pinch of salt
20 wonton wrappers
Canola oil, for deep frying
In a small bow, mix the cream cheese, lox, sugar, green onions and salt well.
Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper.
Fold two pointy ends of the wonton wrapper together to make a triangle.
Fold the other two ends to make a tiny parcel. Using a little water, pinch to seal tight and make sure there is no leakage.
Heat up a heavy bottomed pot of 2-3 inches of oil to 350 degrees F and fry the rangoon in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Can you believe 2014 is just a few weeks away!? This time each year I think about how awesome it is that Jews get not one but two new years – two opportunities for reflection, for looking ahead and for resolutions.
It’s been a great year at The Nosher – so many fun recipes, stories and tips that we got to share together. Like my tips for making perfect challah every time, or my friend Danielle’s favorite tiny kitchen tools that you just can’t live without.
But it always comes back to: the food! So here are my favorite recipes from 2013.
What was your food highlight from 2013? The best dish you made? Or the best thing you ate? Share below!
The best challah recipes of 2013:
The best desserts of 2013:
The best savory dishes of 2013: