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New Passover Cookbooks to Make Your Life Easier

It happens every year: Purim has just passed, and now it is time to focus on Passover right away. Yes folks, we are here whether we like it or not. For those of you who haven’t started cooking yet (oh yes, I know lots of people who have) and who haven’t had their menus planned since December (I know those too) there are a few new cookbooks out this year to help make your holiday a little more delicious.

new passover menu by Paula Shoyer

Paula Shoyer, author of The Holiday Kosher Baker among several other cookbooks, has released her newest collection: The New Passover Menu.

This cookbook is anything but traditional, and shows a distinct European flare, perhaps a result of Ms. Shoyer’s time spent in culinary school in Paris. In fact, she dedicates an entire section to a French dairy menu, a welcome addition for this dairy-lover, and a distinct difference from most meat-heavy Passover cookbooks.

Chicken Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Zucchini Spaghetti

She also includes some more traditional favorites, like matzah ball variations, lamb stew and several kugels. But it’s her Italian, French and even BBQ dishes that really make this new book unique. And of course her desserts like date and pistachio roll and flourless chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.

gluten free around the world for web

Another beautiful cookbook available for Passover and year-around cooking is Aviva Kanoff‘s second cookbook, Gluten-Free Around the World. This is not an explicitly Passover cookbook, but many of it’s recipes are already appropriate for Passover without any adaptation. Aviva once again wows us with a colorful account of travel and food that brings world flavors into the kosher home.

Kanoff’s fish dishes are particularly noteworthy, including plantain crusted red snapper, rosemary walnut crusted salmon with garlic aioli and Tuscan tuna steaks with basil yogurt sauce, just to name a few. Not exactly your bubbe’s poached salmon, eh?

Passover doesn’t have to be all brisket, potato kugel and tam tams, and both these cookbooks bring flavors and cooking techniques from around the world to expand the boundaries of your kitchen. We will be featuring recipes from both Shoyer and Kanoff’s cookbooks as part of The Nosher’s Passover line-up, so stay tuned this month for more.

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Posted on March 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

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

I am over the snow and so is the rest of Boston where I live. Each morning I wake up hoping that just a little bit of the snow melted and maybe, just maybe there would be one strand of grass in sight. Each morning I wake up and I am disappointed that not only has the snow remained taller than I am, but it is so cold that besides work there is very little to get me out of the house.

oatmeal lace cookies1

At the start of this crazy Boston winter I vowed not to fall into a string of baking days. In fact, I started by focusing on cleaning out closets, organizing my computer, and catching up on laundry. I met up with friends to go on walks, took the dog to the park, and shoveled more snow than I knew could even fall from the sky – and I’m Canadian.

oatmeal lace cookies2

As the days got colder and the snow continued to grace us with its presence baking seemed like the only logical thing to do. Beyond the fact that standing near the oven would help me stay warm in my freezing apartment, I wanted to bake something for my co-workers. Smiles in Boston are hard to find right now and these cookies, these cookies certainly helped.

They are so crunchy yet delicate, sweet with a hint of saltiness. Did I mentioned they are non-dairy and gluten-free too!?

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Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Posted on March 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

Homemade Pita Bread

In the ancient world, bread was usually made by using a type of sourdough starter. A little bit of raw dough was set aside, unbaked, in a cool, shaded place. This dough was then used as the leavening agent for the next week’s bake. Preparing leavened bread required the use of old matter, a bacterial culture that was continuously fermenting in an unbroken chain of bread baking with no beginning and no end. Perhaps this is why God demands that our cleansing each spring be total: we need to break all the chains that fetter us to the past. We must clear out all of the old from the house to make way for the new.

fresh pita

The ancient Hebrew word for leaven, or yeast, is se’or. There are no coincidences in the Hebrew language, and often there are multiple meanings within one word. The root of the word lehash’ir, which means to leave behind, is se’or. We can see this as an allusion to the Passover theme of leaving the past behind to start a new beginning. The “chain” of sourdough starter that was used constantly can be seen as a metaphor for the chains of slavery. The plainness and simplicity of matzah can be reinterpreted as a clean slate, the new beginning of the freed slave.

spiritual kneading web1

Use your left-over flour in preparation for cleaning out last year’s chains to the past to make pita, a type of round flatbread. Although pita is leavened, as a flatbread, it is similar to the Yemenite and Iraqi matzah, which is soft, rather than crisp, like typical Ashkenazi and Sephardic matzah. The circular shape can serve as an illustration of renewal, as we move through the cycle of the year to re-enter the spring season once more, and with it, the beginning of the Jewish year.

This recipe appears in my new book, Spiritual Kneading Through the Jewish Months: Building the Sacred Through Challah as part of my vision to write about how each Jewish month carries a specific energy from which we can draw it down and learn from it.

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Homemade Pita Bread

Posted on March 5, 2015

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Mozzarella and Tomato Caprese Blintzes

Yield:
7-8 blintzes

I’d like to think this caprese blintz is the epitome of my background. A blend of cultures, colliding different upbringings and introducing new memories.

CapreseBlintz 1 for web

I grew up, like many Brooklyn Jewish girls next door, on blintzes and bagels, on latkes and matzah balls and so did everyone around me. It was the norm. Jewish delis filled with freshly made bialys were the signature of my past and new worldly flavors are the introduction to my future.

CapreseBlintz in process for web

You can imagine how my worlds collided when I moved to Hawaii when I was fourteen. The only Jewish girl in my school, the only one that had some reminisce of a east coast accent, the only know what knew what a blintz was. But alas, everything happens for a reason. My eight years living in Hawaii taught me patience and love of the land and introduced me to my Italian husband of (soon to be) 10 years who fell in love with traveling just as much as I did.

Over the last 10 years, Joe and I have had a love affair with traveling and one of our favorite memories was experiencing a true caprese  salad in Italy. The tomatoes were so sweet and mozzarella like no other. I have been addicted ever since and want to caprese-fy anything I can get my hands on! Blintzes seemed to be a natural fit for these flavors.

CapreseBlintz vert for web

This one is certainly for the savory lovers and aint your mama’s blintz, that’s for sure! Filled with soft mozzarella and sundried tomatoes, you will certainly be transported to a café in Italy like I was! A blend of cultures for your next brunch? I like that idea.

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Mozzarella and Tomato Caprese Blintzes

Posted on March 3, 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 the Perfect Hamantaschen (With Videos!)

Yield:
Around 2 dozen

Now it’s all here in one video, in one post–from A-Z, from Ahasuerus to Zeresh–how do you make those perfect hamantaschen? Here you have it, in short little videos with my own two hands and messy kitchen.

This little guide is geared toward avoiding the worst pre-Purim fate: making beautiful, delicious-looking hamantaschen and then opening up the oven only to find they have exploded all over the place.

With these few easy steps, we think all bakers can avoid the curse of the leaky hamantaschen.

Find our classic hamantaschen dough recipe below, and tons of variations here.

And without further ado, here is a 1-minute video that combines all the steps (including a surreptitious Nutella-lick) into a quick jaunty watch:

Now let’s take that one step at a time:

Step 1: Make the dough and chill it for at least an hour.

Step 2: Roll it out your chilled dough to 1/4-1/2 inch thick:

Step 3: Cut out your cookies using a regular old drinking glass or 2.5 inch round cookie cutter.

Step 4: Place a scant 1/2 teaspoon of filling in each round, then fold the sides up pinching carefully along the edge and three corners.

Step 5: Place cookies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before baking. This will help the cookies set and further ensure no leaking.

Bake, cool, and enjoy!

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Perfect Hamantaschen

Basic Hamantaschen Recipe

Posted on February 27, 2015

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Israelis Cure Peanut Allergies, Kosher Pot and Sausage Trucks in NYC

Another week and another new kosher food cart has hit the streets of New York. Or so it seems recently.

Food trucks became all the rage in New York about six years ago. And I should know – I gained 7 lbs sampling the abundance of fusion tacos, schnitzel sandwiches and red velvet whoopie pies when the trend first arrived. I then spent hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer to lose the weight. Thanks food trucks.

guys in front of shuka truck

But many years later, kosher food seems to finally be jumping on the bandwagon. I recently spent time with the Israeli threesome behind The Shuka Truck, and just yesterday stopped by The Holy Rollers (ten points for a great name) a new meat-centric sausage cart parked in midtown.

I love hot dogs, and I once even ate four in one sitting washed down by a pitcher of margaritas. Not my finest moment. I have also taken a sausage-making class. So with my love of hot dogs and sausage in mind, I was pretty excited to try the new cart. I ordered two of the sausage heroes, both topped with pulled brisket, pastrami and chili, and truth be told, I was a bit underwhelmed despite the abundance of meat. I thought the brisket was too sweet and saucy, there was too much bread, and not enough sausage because they don’t actually give you a whole sausage: they cut it in half. But they charge you nearly $15 for the hero, quite a bit more than your average $2 street hot dog, and certainly more than I prefer to spend on an average lunch.

holy rollers

However, my co-workers thought the sandwiches were great and really loved all the meat together. In fact my vegetarian co-worker was so enchanted by the scent of pastrami she decided to forgo her vegetarianism and didn’t look back, also loving the sausage hero. And so, it might just be me. Or it might be that the Holy Rollers have a decent product and hopefully will improve as they become more experienced. So if you love a whole lotta meat on top of sausage drenched in the sauce of your choice, you will probably enjoy the Holy Rollers and I would say go check them out. You can find them on Facebook.

Moving on from my own eating adventures to the news of the week: have you heard the recent news that the key to avoiding peanut allergies in kids might be the Israeli snack bamba? But no, seriously. A recent medical study has released findings that, contrary to what has been a popularly held belief for Americans, exposing children to small amounts of peanuts can actually ensure their ability to tolerate the food. And the study specifically explored why Israeli Jewish children had less incidents of peanut allergies than their American counterparts. One of the reasons? Bamba. So go ahead and enjoy your peanut-flavored snacks, and make sure to give it to your kids or grandkids too.

bamba

New Yorkers are about to get yet another new kosher restaurant. Tablet reports that Top Chef alum Alex Reznik is set to open a much-anticipated restaurant, Bedford Kitchen in Queens in six weeks from now.

And perhaps the most controversial of news this week was reported by the New York Post: a company in Colorado is working with rabbis in New York on a plan to start selling legal, edible marijuana products that are certified kosher. Marijuana itself doesn’t need to be certified kosher since it is a plant, but any edible item made with marijuana would need certification.

So there you have it, this week in kosher and Jewish news.

Got some news to share from your neck of the woods? Post on our Facebook page or email me at ssarna@70Facesmedia.org.

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Posted on February 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

Triple Chocolate Hamantaschen

Yield:
2 dozen

Just when you thought you were sick of hamantaschen recipes I have one more. But it’s worth it, I promise.

triple chocolate hamantaschen

When people talk about hamantaschen it’s always about the filling: classics like poppy and apricot or more updated fillings like fluff or peanut butter and jelly. I love getting creative with the fillings (speculoos hamantaschen anyone?) but this year I also wanted to give a little love and attention to the dough. And what better ingredient to include than chocolate.

triple chocolate hamantaschen3

Once you have made your chocolate dough you can still get creative with the fillings, although my favorite was the delicious and easy nutella filling which perfectly complimented the dark cocoa powder in the dough and the sweeter white chocolate drizzle on top.  But you could also try filling the chocolate dough with raspberry jam, peanut butter or even halva.

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Triple Chocolate Hamantaschen

Posted on February 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

Apricot-Infused Bourbon for Purim and Beyond

Hamantaschen get all the Purim glory, and rightfully so. These soft triangular cookies can be filled with anything from the traditional apricot, poppy seed or prune to non-traditional varieties like red velvet or Neapolitan. The only limits are your imagination and your oven space.

apricot bourbon infused

While the children are noshing on hamantaschen and dressing up in their Purim finest, the adults get to play with another tradition. I’m talking, of course, about the boozing. It’s a mitzvah to drink on Purim, so that one is intoxicated enough that they cannot tell the difference between the evil Haman or hero Mordechai. You don’t have to tell me twice. But what to drink?

apricots & cinnamon

I took inspiration from hamantaschen flavors and infused bourbon with apricots, and then poured the finished product over ice in a poppy seed rimmed glass. You can also get creative with the finished bourbon. Maybe make a bourbon caramel to drizzle over hamantaschen, or an apricot hot toddy? As a bonus, this recipe also makes boozy apricots. Which I recommend eating straight from the jar or serving over vanilla ice cream. Not a bourbon fan? You can substitute vodka or gin, and mix the final product with a splash of pomegranate juice to take the edge off.

apricot bourbon w poppy rim

 

Note: The apricots will absorb some of the bourbon so the yield will be less than two cups. You can easily double this recipe. I recommend it!

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Apricot-Infused Bourbon for Purim and Beyond

Posted on February 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

This Week in Kosher Food Trends

This past December I had the pleasure of attending for the first time the annual Latke fest held at the Metropolitan Pavillion in New York City. The event was a Jewish food lover’s dream – I was overwhelmed by delicious latke choices, even after two months of latke testing in my own kitchen. I was also somewhat surprised by how orderly the event ran: the guests were polite, there was ample room to move around and I was able to sample almost everything I wanted. I am still blown away by the creative combinations dreamed up by chefs from all over the New York City area including my own favorite: a chopped liver topped latke from Shelsky’s in Brooklyn.  I went home happy, full, a little buzzed and inspired from the innovative approaches to Jewish food.

KFWE crowds

Two weeks ago I attended the Annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience, also held at the Metropolitan Pavillion. But to walk through the doors you wouldn’t recognize the same room. The civilized, jovial atmosphere was gone, replaced by pushy hoards of people vying to get their money’s worth from the event, or single women decked out in their finest looking for a husband. I had to elbow my way in to get a taste of wine; I said excuse me to deaf ears; and several times as I tasted some of the liquor offerings I was chastised like a teenager to ‘be careful.’

I expected a lot of people. Fine. What I did not expect was the fighting I only ever see at the baby lamb chop station during a bar mitzvah shmorg. Silly me – throw a bunch of otherwise normal Jews into a room with meat and wine and everyone will revert back into pack behavior. I was joined by fellow food and wine lover Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me who helped me traverse the treacherous terrain. Here we are taking a selfie while tasting some red wine.

Liz and Shannon at KFWE

And aside from the jostling crowds, there were a few food highlights: I was finally able to try The Wandering Que’s much talked about brisket, and it was divine: well seasoned and fall apart tender. I also fell madly in love with the chipotle and cinnamon prime rib from T-Fusion Steakhouse, and not just because the guy serving me was a shameless flirt. It was amazing, I could not stop talking about the great flavor and perfectly cooked meat.

T-house fusion steakhouse

The wine was overwhelming, and due to the massive crowds, it was nearly impossible to speak at any length with the wineries. Nevertheless two of my favorites were the Drappier Brut Champagne Cart D’or ($49.99) and the Shiloh Shor Cabernet Franc ($29.99).

In other Jewish food news, there are two new kosher food carts that have recently hit the streets of NYC: The Shuka Truck, serving up different kinds of shakshuka and Holy Rollers, serving up some interesting combos of hot dogs and sausages. I haven’t been able to try Holy Rollers yet, though plan to go soon.  But I can say with confidence to check out the Shuka Truck. The food was delicious and the three Israeli friends running the shop are adorable and hysterical.

kitchen sync umami burger

Another exciting piece of news from the kosher food world: a new food delivery service called KitchenSynch has launched – the first and only Glatt Kosher meal kit delivery service that brings you all of the pre-measured ingredients you need to prepare a complete meal from scratch. So for those of you who get nervous about cooking, or want to branch and try new things, but with some of the guess work removed – this is a great option to try.

Kitchn Sync provides the seasonings and ingredients for the main course & side dishes, all individually wrapped and pre-portioned. Each delivery comes with a recipe card with step-by-step instructions that can be saved for future use. Sample dishes include Bimbimbap Bowls, Sangria Chicken with fruit glaze, and Roasted Tea Infused Chicken with cauliflower fried rice.  All chicken, meat, veal, lamb, and turkey used in the meals are locally sourced and under Glatt Kosher national kosher supervision. Kitchn Synch is the brainchild of Douglas Soclof, founder of Dougies BBQ & Grill who shares “I saw a missing niche in meal delivery kits for them. It’s for anyone looking for great quality, delicious food delivered to their door.” For more information check out their website, Kitchen Synch.

Got some kosher or Jewish food news to share from your hood? Email ssarna@70facesmedia.org or post below!

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Posted on February 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

Tagalong Hamantaschen

Tagalong 1 text

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.

Tagalong 4

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