Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of my grandmother. She was old and feeble, and chronic pain often prevented her from leaving the house. Still, there were a few occasions when my grandmother would never fail to make an appearance in my mother’s kitchen. One such of those special occasions was right before the holiday of Purim began. She carefully tied the strings of her apron in a neat bow before she perched herself on a kitchen stool and began to give orders.
She showed me how to dip the rim of a wine glass in the pearly mounds of flour to make the perfect circle for my cookies. She directed my fingers with a watchful eye as I carefully portioned out just the right amount of filling and carefully folded my circle into a triangle, or “Haman’s Ears” as my grandmother used to call them. We sat there late into the night, after the cookies had long since come out of the oven, covered in flour and giggling like schoolgirls.
Nowadays, we live in different cities and my grandmother’s days in the kitchen are far behind her. As I am no longer able to eat the cookies as she made them, I have adapted the recipe. But every time I make them, there is still a small part of her inside them. I hope you enjoy these hamentashen as much as I do.
For the dough:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup arrowroot flour (plus ¼ cup for dusting)
½ tsp sea salt
1 vanilla bean
½ cup of honey
¼ cup of coconut oil, melted
For the filling:
11 ounces dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp honey
½ cup of water
In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, lemon juice, honey and water over medium high heat.
Bring to a boil and stir continuously, until the mixture has reduced. Then, remove from heat and set aside while you make the dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot flour, and the sea salt until well mixed.
With a small paring knife, poke a tiny hole in the top of your vanilla bean and slice it in half. Use the knife to scrap the small black seeds into a small bowl. For this recipe, you should only be using the seeds from 2-inches of your bean (the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.)
Add the vanilla bean seeds, the honey, and the melted coconut oil to your flour mixture and stir until just incorporated, being careful not to over-mix the dough. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball.
Next, position the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, adding arrowroot flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. Place another sheet of parchment paper over the dough, and using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/4 inch thick layer.
Remove the top layer of parchment paper. Dust the open end of a glass (or a round cookie cutter) with arrowroot powder. Then, carefully cut out circles in the dough, and remove the extra dough from the sides.
Fill the center of each circle with a little over a teaspoon of filling. Carefully fold each one of the three sides in, forming a triangular shape, and sealing the filling inside. Pinch the corners in to seal the cookies.
Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet, and bake cookies for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
While I remain a strong gluten and bread enthusiast, I love to hear about other passionate bloggers’ food journeys, and Donyel Meese (aka The Kosher Cave Girl) has a very interesting food journey. She and I had the chance to catch up over email recently and I really loved what she had to say about making your own bread and sweets and switching out healthy options into your diet – everything in moderation! Read more about Donyel and her kosher Paleo lifestyle below.
Why did you start blogging?
The idea to start a blog stemmed from an afternoon I spent with a friend whining about the fact that I had just made the most incredible hazelnut-swirled brownies, but that I couldn’t find the piece of paper that I had written the recipe on anywhere. The friend suggested that I start blogging my recipes to ensure that I’d never lose another one. I really do enjoy the creating recipes, the photography, and coming up with posts. The Kosher Cave Girl also serves as an outlet for my love of writing, and my readers are often unfortunately witnesses to my (often rather pathetic) attempts at humor.
Your food journey has had lots of ups and downs. Would you say you always loved cooking and food, or did it result out of necessity for your diet?
I have always loved baking things. When my friends arrive at my apartment, they make a beeline for my freezer, breezing past me without so much as a hello until they’ve got something in their mouth. When I found out that I was both lactose and dairy intolerant, and made the switch to a Paleo lifestyle, I quickly grew frustrated with what I saw as so many restrictions.
It was as simple as changing my outlook. Instead of mourning the fact that I could no longer eat my favorite browned-butter snickerdoodles, I decided to create a version that I could eat. Now, there are very few foods that I actually miss, and I have a lot of fun coming up with recipes to mirror the dishes that I loved before going Paleo.
What are your culinary influences?
My mother spent time in Africa, Australia, and Thailand before returning to the U.S. after she completed her undergrad at University of Hawai’i, so I was exposed to lot of cultural dishes at a very young age. Because of her, I love experimenting with unique flavors and spices like coconut milk, lemongrass, saffron, and curry.
For those that can and do eat gluten, what ways can the paleo diet influence their eating habits, without taking away their beloved bread?
You don’t have to follow a Paleo diet to incorporate fresh, healthy, & non-processed foods in your lifestyle. Simple switches can make a world of difference. Try making tuna salad with avocado instead of mayo. Learn to love water. If you want bread, cookies, or cakes, make your own instead of buying prepackaged ones loaded with preservatives to keep them “fresh” (homemade is not only cheaper, but it tastes better too!). Sodas and sugary drinks are usually calorie bombs and do little to quench your thirst. Cook with coconut oil and olive oil, instead of canola oil and vegetable oil.
One of the wonderful aspects of a Paleo lifestyle is that you’re encouraged not to count calories. Instead, emphasis is placed on mindful and intuitive eating – listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satiated.
What has surprised you about blogging or what’s been the best thing that has happened as a result of blogging?
I always thought that blogging was so glamorous, but I’ve found that in this circus, I feel more like the juggler than the girl on the flying trapeze. The amount of time and preparation that goes into blogging is absolutely unbelievable. The readers only see the glamorous side of food blogging, but behind the scenes, all hell breaks lost. My kitchen sink is perpetually overflowing with dirty dishes. I spend more time at the grocery store than at my own apartment. Recipes go horribly wrong, it takes 200 pictures of cookies to get one useable one, and my e-mail inbox is almost always full. On top of all of that, I’m juggling my food blogger lifestyle with being a full-time student.
I’ve learned so much about photography, graphic design, and social media, but my absolute favorite perk is being able to connect with readers, whether it’s getting to know them, answering a question, or helping them adapt a recipe. It’s so rewarding, and it brings me such a sense of joy and fulfillment.
What advice do you have for someone else who wants to start a food blog?
Is it terribly cliché of me to tell you that good things come to those who wait? When I first started blogging in Fall of 2013, I had no readers. You could literally hear the crickets chirping every time I posted a new recipe. But don’t get discouraged. Keep posting, keep marketing, and people will come.
I’ve also found that pictures are key. I’m also guilty when I tell you that if I see a recipe without a picture, I probably won’t make it. Everyone loves drooling over stunning food photography, myself included. I don’t have any fancy lights or props, just my Nikon 5100. I’m still learning, but I’m having fun with it.
What’s on the horizon for your blog?
Thank G-d, I’ve been offered a lot of wonderful opportunities for The Kosher Cave Girl. Let’s just say that there might be a cookbook revolving around a Paleo take on traditional Shabbat foods in my future. I have a lot of exciting projects and partnerships in the works, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
The Super Bowl is a week away, so the men in my life tell me. I am not much for subscribing to traditional gender roles, but I admit freely: I hate football. But I do love cooking up snacks for football-viewing especially spicy chicken wings and beef-stuffed knishes.
Looking for some kosher snack ideas for the football fans in your life? We have some great dairy, meat, pareve and gluten free ideas from our recipe archives and our favorite bloggers.
What will you be cooking up? Share below!
Roasted Garlic Hummus (pareve)
Beet Chips with Spicy Honey Mayo (pareve)
Spinach and Cheese Borekas (dairy)
Classic Hot Wings (meat)
Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings (meat)
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.
For me, Rosh Hashanah always symbolizes the beginning of Fall (although it is way early this year, practically still summer) and I love celebrating apples at my holiday table.
This sweet, nutty apple cake will be the perfect ending to your Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot meal, and is sure to satisfy even the most gluten-loving guests.
¼ cup coconut oil (or margarine or other fat of your choice)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup almond meal
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup millet flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup diced apple
1 tsp sucanat (raw sugar)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (if you have convection, use it!) and grease an 8-inch round pan.
Using a mixer, cream coconut oil, honey, and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, allowing to incorporate before adding the next. Stir in applesauce and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: almond meal, brown rice flour, millet flour, teff flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three batches, allowing each batch to incorporate before adding the next. The batter will become thick and sticky. Stir in diced apples.
Spread batter into prepared pan and sprinkle sucanat over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is firm, the edges are golden and crispy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For more of Rella's delicious gluten-free recipes check out her blog The Penny Pinching Epicure.
I like to say that baking is chemistry, and gluten-free baking is a science.
The secret to baking gluten-free goodies that are very close to the real thing lies in producing the “stretch factor” without gluten and using the right mix of gluten-free flours.
Creating the Illusion of Gluten
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt that creates the “stretch factor” in batters and dough. Adding xanthan gum, guar gum, or psyllium husk to the mix helps create the same stretchy properties, and results in a chewy rather than crumbly baked good.
The Right Mix
In general, a mix of gluten-free flours will always be better than a single gluten-free flour. This is because no gluten-free flour can closely mirror glutinous all-purpose flour.
The gluten-free flours I use most frequently are sorghum, millet, brown rice, and tapioca. To add richness, I also sometimes add almond or hazelnut meal into the mix. A lot of my recipes have been developed through trial-and-error, but there are also many resources online for gluten-free baking.
I buy my own flours separately and combine them in different ratios depending on the recipe, but there are also some great gluten-free flour mixes out there: My favorite brand for all of my gluten-free flours is Bob’s Red Mill and Namaste is a close second. You can find gluten-free flours at most mainstream grocery stores these days, although it is usually cheaper to order them online.
Gluten-free baking is a bit more complex than glutinous baking, but I promise the results are so much better than store-bought gluten-free baked goods.
These yogurt mini-muffins are the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack, packed with whole grains and protein. I offer two mix-in options below (coconut-chocolate chip and cranberry-pistachio), but feel free to add other nuts, dried fruit, or sweet morsels of your choosing. This is recipe is adapted from the Kitchn.
1 cup sorghum
1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup tapioca
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
For coconut-chocolate chip:
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a mini-muffin tin (if you have convection, use it!).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until smooth.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in chosen mix-ins.
Divide batter evenly into muffin tin (I use my medium cookie scoop) and bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Food related traditions like hamantashen are some of my favorite parts of being Jewish. I had to work on this hamantashen recipe for a while, because creating a gluten-free cookie dough that can be rolled and cut is no easy task. But I think I’ve finally got it (don’t skip chilling the dough, it really makes all the difference)!
This recipe makes hamentashen that are crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. If you prefer them to be completely crispy, bake an additional 2-3 minutes.
*Make sure you choose a gluten-free flour that includes xanthan gum (I like Bob's Wonderful Bread Mix or Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend), or add 1 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum with the flour.
Cream margarine and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, allowing to combine before adding the next.
In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 cups of gluten-free flour (and xanthan gum if required). Turn mixer to the lowest speed and add to wet mixture a 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the dry ingredients to be incorporated before adding more. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
Divide the dough into four parts, roll each into a ball, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Dust the counter and the rolling pin with gluten-free flour. Remove 1 dough ball from the refrigerator and cut into circles using a 4 oz. mason jar or small juice glass (if the dough is too sticky to roll out and cut, add additional flour a tablespoon at a time until it is pliable enough). Fill with 1/4 tsp tsp of filling, pinch into a triangle, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Rella Kaplowitz has blogged gluten-free and mostly dairy-free as the Penny Pinching Epicure for the last 3 years. In "real life," Rella lives in Washington, DC with her husband where she specializes in organizational improvement consulting for the federal government.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerances have been ignored and under-diagnosed for years, but these days it’s hard to miss. Labs have seen a jump in requests for blood tests and it is now estimated that somewhere around 18 million Americans are sensitive to gluten.
Gluten is an insoluble protein in wheat, rye, and barley, among others. Because it is somewhat elastic, it helps to leaven and build structure in baked goods. It’s also hard for the human digestive system to handle. For most people, their bodies persevere and move on with their days, but for others eating or coming in contact with gluten can have a major impact.
Gluten intolerance is a toxic, negative reaction to gluten. It can often be dealt with through slight avoidance, indulging on occasion and not being stringent about gluten in non-food products like toothpaste and paint. Celiac, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body builds up antibodies against gluten every time the person comes in contact with the protein. After a while, the intestinal villi are destroyed and become incapable of absorbing nutrients, which leads to blood toxicity. In short: if you think you might have a gluten intolerance, it’s a good idea to check it out before it gets out of hand. While many people have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon as a fad, those who actually suffer from gluten experience a wide range of serious symptoms.
People often are nervous about making food for friends who can’t eat gluten and while it’s true that the diet can be challenging and expensive, it doesn’t have to be so far from the food you are used to. Many who switch to gluten-free lifestyles actually eat healthier, because they make more room in their diets for vegetables, fruits, and wholesome foods. Try the recipe below for a great granola that happens to be “GF”–just make sure to buy gluten free oats for those who have severe sensitivity.
If you’re looking for a new challenge as a baker, pulling off a tasty gluten-free treat is rewarding and much appreciated by people who don’t eat gluten. There are so many incredible whole grain and legume flours out there to experiment with–make this your excuse! Keep in mind that without gluten, breads will need more yeast, eggs are crucial for binding, and you may need more fat or fruit puree to keep it moist. Make sure you eat or freeze your baked goods right away, since gluten-free items have a short shelf life and lose moisture quickly.
Resources to check out:
The Gluten Free Gourmet by Betty Hagman
Gluten Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly
Gluten Free Girl and the Chef by Shana James Ahern
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Grade A maple syrup
1 spoonful raw honey
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, cut in strips
1/4 cup dried medjool dates, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 375° Farenheit.
Mix oats and nuts in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk maple syrup, honey, and coconut oil. Pour over oat mixture and mix until evenly coated.
Spread mixture onto a full sheet pan (or two half sheet pans) in an even layer.
Put the tray in the oven and check regularly, stirring the oat mixture to avoid burning. Remove when golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. The granola will not be hard at this point–that happens as it cools.
When the mixture has cooled a little, fold in dried fruit. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.