Ah, Manischewitz, The classic, sweet Jewish wine at the butt of so many jokes about Jews.
I am not really a fan of drinking it by itself, except of course for that time I drank it straight from the bottle with a straw. But otherwise. I think it makes a good base for sangria in a pinch. And I like to use it in my Tuscan-style chopped liver. But straight up in a glass? Probably not.
But recently I was asked to teach a cocktails-making session at Limmud, a conference dedicated to Jewish learning “without limts.” I wanted to bring some uniquely Jewish flavors to cocktails, and so I immediately began to think of how I could include Manischewitz as part of the fun.
While it may sound from the ingredients that this is a very sweet cocktail, its actually quite subtle. You can add more or less syrup according to your tastes so try it a few ways until you find the right balance for your taste buds.
3 Tbsp Manischewitz syrup (see directions below)
2 tsp lemon juice
3 oz (1 ½ shots) good-quality gin such as Hendricks or Bombay Saphire
Cava or prosecco sparkling wine
lemon slice for garnish
Special equipment: Cocktail shaker
To make the Manischewitz Syrup:
Place 2 cups of Manischewitz wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then continue to reduce 15-20 minutes until it is thick, syrupy and about half its original size. Allow to cool and place in fridge for one hour.
To assembly the drink:
Place about 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add Manischewitz syrup, gin and fresh lemon juice.
Shake vigorously up and down until white and frothy on top.
Strain into serving glass. Top with approximately 1/2 cup prosecco or cava. Garnish with fresh lemon slice.
When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.
My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe. Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.
I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd. Plus, you can practice your inner Martha Stewart and decorate individual ceramic crocks, as I’ve done here, or one large serving dish.
Cooking tip: if you want to play with the servings, figure that you will use 1 small sweet potato per person or 1 large sweet potato for every two people. In addition, you will want 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup per large sweet potato.
4 large sweet potatoes, cooked until completely soft
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup-1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
½ cup-1 cup pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the well-cooked sweet potatoes. If they were cooked earlier, re-heat them for 2 minutes in the microwave in a glass or ceramic dish.
Using a food processor, whip the sweet potatoes and the maple syrup until light and fluffy. You can also use an immersion blender for this step.
Place the mixture into individual ceramic crocks or 1 large serving dish and smooth out the
top. Decorate with dried cherries and pecans.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
Hamantaschen are the traditional treat of the holiday of Purim. These delicious cookies remind us of our sweet victory over Haman, a villain with a triangular shaped hat who attempted to kill the Jews of Persia. Hamantaschen cookies are usually filled with poppy seeds or jam, but when I found out that Purim fell over St Patrick’s Day Weekend this year, I knew a recipe mash-up was a must!
I toyed with the idea of dying the hamantaschen dough green or picking a green filling — lime curd or Andes mint chocolate both sounded like delicious options. However, in the end I settled on incorporating the flavor of Irish creme liqueur. These Irish hamantschen have a crisp chocolate cookie crust that gives way to a rich and creamy spiked center. My take on the traditional Purim cookie is easy to make and pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee
Having trouble folding your cookies? Try this tutorial if you’re having trouble!
For the dough:
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup irish crème liqueur
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling:
16 oz cream cheese (2 8oz packages)
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup Irish crème liqueur
For the topping:
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water, beaten
In a medium bowl, mix cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the shortening, butter and sugar. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Add liqueur and vanilla.
Fold in dry ingredient mixture until a dough forms. Do not overmix. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and form a large ball. Divide in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
While dough is chilling, prepare cheesecake filling. Blend cream cheese and sugar. Add Irish crème and the eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly after each egg.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk remaining egg and 1 tbsp water together to create an egg glaze.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until thin, around ¼ inch. Cut 3 ½ inch rounds with a cup or cookie cutter and brush round with beaten egg glaze. Fill each round with a teaspoon of Irish crème filling. Pinch corners together to create a triangular shape. Brush pastries again with the egg glaze.
Bake until golden brown (17 to 21 minutes).
Reprinted courtesy of www.thebigfatjewishwedding.
It’s so satisfying to dish out a big bowl of chili on a cold Fall or Winter day, no?
I love chili, and I especially love hot dogs smothered in homemade chili. But we have been cutting back on our red meat consumption and so I wanted to create a version that would be as hearty and satisfying as meat-chili, but a bit healthier.
Another great thing about chili is that you can really add and subtract ingredients based on your taste. Want more spice? Add more than a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or even some diced jalapeno.
Don’t like a particular kind of beans? Just swap it out for the beans you do like.
And I love using colorful bell peppers to pack this dish with flavor and vitamins. Plus they are just so darn pretty, aren’t they?
1 onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp chili powder
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package ground beef substitute
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
1 scallion (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, jalapeno and bell peppers, sauteing until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
Add spices and continue to cook 1 minute.
Add ground beef substitute, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Continue to cook another 5 -7 minutes until browned
Add can of tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes. When the chili has cooked and the liquid has reduced, add rinsed beans and stir until mixed throughout.
Serve with cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream if desired. Garnish with chopped scallion.
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.
I have never really loved the idea of savory hamantaschen. My sweet tooth just revolts at the concept. But after some poking and prodding from others, I decided: fine. I would try and make some savory hamantaschen.
A few weeks ago I made some balsamic caramelized onions to go on top of homemade pizza. They were amazing. Sweet and savory – my favorite combination. So as I was thinking about what kinds of savory hamantaschen I might try to make, I realized a sweet, savory onion jam was the perfect compromise to satisfy both sweet and savory cravings.
My husband serves as my trusty taste-tester and critic for all my creations, so I am happy to share that he LOVED this version. And I hope you will, too.
For the Hamantaschen dough:
½ cup butter (or margarine)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
For the onion jam filling:
4 small-medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp red wine
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp greek yogurt
To make the dough:
Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, milk and rosemary until mixed thoroughly.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture until incorporated.
Note: if the dough is too soft, increase flour amount by a few Tbsp at a time until firm.
Chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
To make the onion jam filling:
Add oil and butter to saute pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add onions to the pan, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes. If onions are browning too quickly reduce to low-medium heat.
When onions are completely translucent and soft, add balsamic vinegar and continue stirring for another 5-10 minutes. When onions seem sticky and the vinegar has reduced, add wine and stir. Scrape any bits off bottom of pan.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove onions from heat and set aside.
When onions have cooled, place onions in a food processor fitted with blade. Pulse until smooth. Mix in greek yogurt.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dust surface with flour to keep from sticking. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch thick.
Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circle and place onto cookie sheet. To keep the dough from sticking to your cutter, dip in flour before each cut.
Fill each round with onion jam and using your favorite method, pinch corners together tightly.
Bake for 7-9 minutes.
I didn’t grow up eating kugel regularly. My only exposure to kugel was on the one or two times a year we would all gather around my grandmother’s dining room table for Jewish holidays. My grandmother would serve two kinds of kugel which she would describe as “one sweet, one savory.” I would more aptly describe them as “dry and drier.”
When I was in college and dating “a nice Jewish boy” his mother made an incredible dairy noodle kugel with crushed pineapple, butter and sour cream. Now THAT was kugel. I was in love. And when I met my husband and his family, I fell in love with his Baba Billie’s salt and pepper noodle kugel.
Like everything Baba Billie made, this kugel is not for the faint-hearted, or faint-stomached. This is not a light recipe, but it is good. You may look at the amount of oil and think, come on – really? Yes, really. I don’t make this every day, nor do I suggest making it every day. We make it a few times each year always to rave reviews. Everything in moderation, or so my father always says, and this kugel is no exception.
My husband likes to use regular wide noodles, but I opt for the super-duper extra wide. You can use either variety you like.
Like a little kick? Make sure to use hot paprika on top. If you prefer to play to it safe just use a sweet, smoky paprika instead.
1 12 ounce package of wide or extra wide egg noodles
2 Tbsp jarred garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Special equipment: Pyrex baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is heated, add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of olive oil to baking dish and place pan in oven for the oil to heat. This step will make for a crispier kugel.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles as directed on package, around 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles to egg mixture and mix gently until completely coated. Remove baking dish with hot oil from the oven and add noodles to the dish. It will sizzle slightly - this is a good thing.
Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered or until noodles are desired crispiness. Serve warm or room temperature.
Having leftover challah has never been a bad thing. Sunday morning brunches, Shabbat afternoon sandwiches; the options go on. Since I am hosting most Friday nights and am constantly left with challah I decided I needed to be a little more creative with the leftovers.
This past weekend I also happened to have a bowl of mixed berries left over and knew right away this was the week to leave my comfort zone and make stuffed challah french toast using both these delicious remains.
French toast is one of my favorite foods and eat it any time of day. And now that I have created this challah masterpiece, I may never stop. I even went as far as to make homemade blueberry syrup to go on top, but you can leave this step out if you prefer plain maple syrup.
For the French toast:
1/2 loaf leftover challah
½ cup mixed berries
4oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
½ cup milk
Butter or oil for pan
For the blueberry syrup
½ cup of sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup water
½ cup of fresh blueberries
½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter
Pinch of salt
To make the French toast:
Slice the challah into 2-inch thick pieces. Using a paring knife, cut a deep slit across the top in the middle of each slice, approximately 4 inches long - This will form your “pocket.” Once you’re done, set the bread aside.
Put the room temperature cream cheese, vanilla and mixed berries in a bowl and combine using a wooden spoon. The berries will crush a bit and that is good. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, add 2 eggs, cinnamon, maple syrup, and milk. Mix well.
Take the fruit-cream cheese mixture and stuff into the "pockets" of the challah.
When done stuffing each piece of bread, completely coat each piece in egg mixture. Make sure all sides are covered.
Put butter or oil into a hot skillet and melt completely. Add the stuffed challah to the skillet and cook roughly about 3-6 minutes on each side, until it reaches a nice golden brown. You want to make sure the cream cheese mixture heats through.
To make the blueberry syrup:
Combine sugar, cornstarch and water over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the blueberries and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the butter, cinnamon and salt simmer for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Top the stuffed French toast with berry syrup.
Linzer torte cookies were one of my mom’s go-to recipes that I have fond memories of making with her as a child. We didn’t make them for Valentine’s Day per se, but made them for any special occasion that came up – parties, piano recitals and even rainy Saturdays.
This recipe isn’t quite the same as hers, which unfortunately was lost when she passed away. But it is the closest thing I have found to the buttery cookies we made together during my childhood. I find this version to be particularly versatile because the cookies are excellent made in both dairy and pareve varieties, which cannot be said for every dessert recipe!
I actually don’t make these for Valentine’s Day either, but really love to make these cookies for Sheva Berakhot celebrations for friends! But they are also great as a sweet treat for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, Shabbat or any day you just want to show a little extra lovin’.
I love making these fun square-shaped cookies with just a smidge of sweet jam peeking out from the heart shaped cut-out. But you can have fun and make any shape that suits your fancy.
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
Extra flour for rolling
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add egg, vanilla and orange zest and combine.
Add flour one cup at a time until full incorporated.
Place dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. You may need to add extra flour during this step as this dough tends to be sticky, but try not to add too much.
Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
When cookies have cooled completely, spread with jam and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Most weeks it’s hard to find a crumb of challah leftover after Shabbat, especially since my husband and I love hosting our friends for Shabbat dinner whenever we can.
But every few weeks or so we like to enjoy a quiet Shabbat just the three of us, and when this happens, there is inevitably part of a challah loaf leftover.
Of course, I make French toast. I make croutons, bread crumbs and even bread pudding. But sometimes a gal just wants to try something new.
I found this recipe from the Inventive Vegetarian and knew I wanted to use up some of my challah to finish off a rich bowl of French Onion Soup. Topped with bubbling, melted munster cheese and you have a Jewish version of this iconic soup. The onions make the soup sweet, and the richness of both the eggy challah and gooey munster cheese make each bite practically sinful
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
½ tsp sugar
1 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
6 pieces leftover challah
6 pieces sliced munster cheese
Special equipment: individual ramekins
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
Add onions and allow to cook for 12-15 minutes. Don’t worry about fussing with them too much right now, you will be stirring later.
After 15 minutes, add the sugar and stir. Allow the onions to caramelize for the next 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently. If the onions are getting crispy make sure to lower the heat.
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle the flour over them and cook for about three minutes, continuing to stir.
Next, add the wine, deglazing the bottom of the pan as you stir.
Add the stock and the water, continuing to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and allow to cook another 30 minutes.
Add several ladles full of soup to each individual ramekin.
Toast your challah pieces and place on top of soup. Add a slice of Munster on top of challah round and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and just beginning to brown.