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Cocktail Meatballs with Pignolis and Currants

80 small meatballs

Albondigas, or meatballs, are a mainstay of Sephardic cuisine. They come in sizes ranging from golf balls to cherries and may be rolled into round or flattened shapes. Chopped onions, garlic, roasted eggplant, fresh spinach, chopped leek and grated carrots have been mixed into meatballs for centuries. These ingredients served to season meat (or poultry) which was then fried or simmered in sauce. Moistened bread bound it all together and served as another way to make these delicious treats an economical choice.

Cocktail meatballs with pine nuts and currants

When I learned that the southern Italians sometimes included currants and pignoli nuts in their meatballs, I was intrigued. Perhaps it’s my Galiciana roots but I liked the prospect of adding a little sweetness (and unexpected texture) to the meat mix. It seemed like a good jumping point for considering how to use honey in my meatballs for Rosh Hashanah.

My intention was to get this mix subtly sweet, with a nod to the symbolism of serving sweet foods to ensure a sweet New Year. I paired citrus with the fruity nectar to balance the sweetness and sparked the flavors with cracked pepper, cumin and turmeric. Tiny, moist currants and rich pignoli provide an unfamiliar twist. For guests who think that meatballs belong in tomato sauce, they will be surprised and delighted by the yin/yang of this mildly sweet and lemony simmer broth.

Because these meatballs are quite small they are a bit of work. Set aside a couple of hours in order to get the task done. It will be time well spent. And you can check another dish off your ‘to do” list by making them in advance and freezing them.

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Cocktail Meatballs with Pignolis and Currants


For the meatballs:
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup currants
½ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
½ cup canola oil for frying

For the sauce:
2 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, combine all ingredients through turmeric. Mix gently with hands. Do not overmix.

Add currants and pignoli to meat mixture and combine.

Shape mixture into 1-1 ½” meatballs, wetting hands with water periodically to prevent the meat from sticking to fingers. Place meatballs on a couple of foil lined trays so they are all ready to fry at the same time.

Divide ½ cup of canola oil into 2 frying pans and heat on medium.

Add meatballs in a single layer until both pans are full but not crowded. Brown meatballs, turning them by using 2 spoons. They should be golden.

With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs when golden on all sides. Place meatballs on plates lined with paper towels so they may drain. Repeat until all meatballs are browned. You may want to save the browned pignoli and sprinkle them on meatballs when serving them.

Combine all ingredients for sauce and bring to low simmer. Taste to adjust for sweetness and salt.

Place all meatballs in sauce (It’s ok if they are not all submerged). Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Remove meatballs from sauce, plate and serve with toothpicks. Sprinkle with browned pignoli and chopped fresh mint or parsley leaves. Drizzle sauce over the meatballs if you like.

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Posted on September 17, 2014

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

A New Sesame on the Block

6-8 servings

Sesame seems to be enjoying a moment in the spotlight recently and I couldn’t be happier. Halva was always a staple in my house growing up, and now as an adult I am always looking for ways to include it in baked goods (like my halva swirl brownies) and other dishes. Earlier this year I was introduced to a sesame-based spread that my daughter and I both really enjoyed. In fact the jar has long been licked clean.

The newest halva spread business on the block is Brooklyn Sesame, started by native Israeli and expert “raw halva” maker Shahar Shamir who has been making and serving his all natural spreads for years for friends and family. Shahar actually never intended to start the small food business. Rather, he wanted to open a café, but when met with several challenges, his friends suggested he started selling his halva spread instead. And so Brooklyn Sesame was born.

brooklyn sesame

In Israel it is common to eat halva or tahini with breakfast, as a snack or for dessert. And while the fat content of tahini has been a turnoff for some Americans, that perception is starting to change as it is more widely acknowledged that good fats from items like nuts and sesame can produce long-term health benefits and even help with weight-loss.

Shahar himself admitted that he gained 7 pounds this last holiday season when he took a break from making his halva spread. There weren’t any open jars lying around, and so he was eating less of the super food.  “When I eat my halva, I am not eating other junk and I believe sesame and honey are great for digestion,” Shahar shared.


Brooklyn Sesame’s spreads come in six different varieties including pistachio, cocoa, black caraway seeds and toasted coconut. The high-quality spreads with a “Brooklyn sensibility” have even caught the attention of The New York Times, Food and Wine and Real Simple among many others.

Brooklyn Sesame logo

Have a halva craving? The halva spreads are available in more than 25 stores in the New York area, one store in Massachusetts or you can order from their website.

You can also try whipping up one of Shahar’s signature recipes this holiday season and use some rich, sweet halva spread to usher in the New Year.

The following recipes are courtesy of Jörg Thoene, Leah Koenig and Shahar Shamir.

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Apple and Coconut Halva Baklava Tarts


1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

6 sheets thawed filo dough

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (or substitute vegetable or coconut oil)

1/4 cup Brooklyn Sesame Halva Spread with Toasted Coconut, divided

Honey, for drizzling


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set aside a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a bowl, stir together the apple, lemon zest, lemon juice, and brown sugar; let stand for 10 minutes until it gets juicy. Stir in the pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon, and cardamom.

Place 1 sheet of filo dough on a cutting board (cover the remaining sheets with a damp towel so they do not dry out), and gently brush all over with the melted butter. Place a second sheet on top of the first and continue in this fashion, alternating brushing with butter and stacking filo sheets until there are 6 layers. Use a sharp knife to cut the filo sheet into 12 squares. Arrange 1 square into each well of the muffin tin, pressing it into the bottom and sides.

Spoon 1 teaspoon of Halva Spread into the bottom of each cup, then fill two-thirds of the way with the apple-nut mixture. Brush edges of each pastry with a little more melted butter; bake until the pastry is golden, 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then carefully remove tarts to a wire rack. Just before serving, drizzle each tart with a little honey.



Lamb Stew with Dates and Black Caraway Halva Spread


3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped, optional
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 1/2 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1/4 cup chopped dried dates
3 Tbsp Brooklyn Sesame Halva Spread with Black Caraway Seeds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped fresh parsley, for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat.
Working in batches (do not crowd the pan), add the lamb cubes and sear, turning with tongs, until well-browned on all sides. Transfer browned lamb to a plate and set aside.
Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot, then add onions, carrots, if using, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the meat back to the pot along with the wine, stock, and tomatoes; bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through, about 1 hour.
Stir in the dates and Halva Spread, turn heat up to medium-low, and continue cooking, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until fruit softens and the stew thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. (It will continue to thicken as it cools.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, transfer stew to a shallow bowl, sprinkle with parsley.

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Posted on September 15, 2014

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

Apple Kugel Crumble Cake

8-10 servings


apple noodle crumble kugel cake

I love noodle kugel, especially my husband’s salt and pepper noodle kugel, which is always a hit at any Shabbat or holiday meal we serve it. But I really wanted to create a sweetened version of noodle kugel for Rosh Hashanah this year using some fresh, local apples.

I tried this recipe several ways until I found the right balance of apples, sugar, eggs and crumb topping. The result is a kugel that is sweet, but not too sweet, moist but still has a rich, crunchy crumb topping.

It brings together the goodness of a fall apple crumble, with the tradition of a noodle kugel. Oh yeah, and I decided it should get baked in a springform pan so that it looks like a “cake” which is just so much fun. Don’t worry – you can still serve it as a side dish.


If you decide to bake yours in a springform pan, make sure the bottom is locked in place tightly before pouring the unbaked kugel mixture into the pan. If it isn’t, you could end up with a liquidy mess all over your kitchen. I mean, I am not saying that happened to me (it did), but just making a recommendation.


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Apple Kugel Crumble Cake


For the kugel:
1 12 ounce package wide egg noodles
8 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin

For the topping:
3/4 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup margarine or butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan or pyrex dish for baking. If using a springform pan, cover bottom in foil and place on a flat baking sheet to avoid spills.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook noodles around 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt and brown sugar. Add sliced apples and mix gently until coated completely.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the margarine or butter and using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut into the dry mixture until even, coarse crumbs form.

When noodles have been drained, add to egg mixture and mix gently until coated completely. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly on top of noodles.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until noodles have set and crumb topping starts to brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Posted on September 11, 2014

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

Crockpot Carne con Papas, An Alternative to Brisket

6-8 servings

My Cuban family loves my American husband for many reasons, but high on that list is his appreciation for all things Cuban food. Of course, we do make it easy for my beloved Midwesterner, with dishes like Carne con Papas, which literally translates to meat and potatoes. This dish is an old family favorite, and is quickly becoming one of the most requested dishes in my household

Carne con Papas

The recipe I use is inspired by a dish made by my Tia Pipa (Aunt Felipa). She is used to cooking for an army, and she’s been known to prepare a mean Carne con Papas in a giant commercial caldero, or cauldron. Although I admire her back-to-basics approach of slaving away over the hot stove for hours on end to perfect this favored dish, I prefer a more modern approach with the use of my slow-cooker.

Imagine if you took all the best features of your favorite family brisket recipe – aromatic and tender chunks of slow-roasted meat, saucy overflow goodness – and paired them with creamy, bite-sized potatoes. What could be bad about that? Like the best brisket recipes, Carne con Papas has trouble staying intact at the mere hint of a fork. The slow-cooked nature of this dish also means that every delicate bite is infused with the typical Island flavors of garlic, onion, and bell pepper.


Traditionally served alongside steamed white rice, I see no reason why this can’t be served with a good old-fashioned kugel to mop every last bit of flavor that the saucy overflow provides.  Carne con Papas is definitely one of those dishes where you won’t want to waste a single bit.

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Crockpot Carne con Papas


2 lbs beef top round or stew meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 sour oranges (or 2 oranges and 2 lemons), juiced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp smoked mustard (*If you can’t find smoked mustard, coarse Dijon works, too)
5 Tbsp olive oil, separated
Kosher Salt
fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper coarsely diced
1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 lbs small white-skinned potatoes, halved
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp of a spice mix involving salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, oregano and annatto seeds. (Sound complicated? Sazón Goya is ready-mixed.)


In a plastic zip-top bag, combine beef, citrus juice, oregano, garlic, mustard, 3 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Close the bag, making sure to remove all the air, and massage the ingredients together until well-combined. Place the bag in the refrigerator, and let marinade for 1-4 hours.

In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil. Separate the marinated beef into two sections, reserving the marinade liquid. Brown the first batch of beef for 3 minutes, and set aside. Lightly coat the second batch of beef in flour, and brown for 3 minutes. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add onion and bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and reserved marinade liquid, and deglaze the skillet using a wooden spoon. Stir in cumin and sazon goya.

Transfer the beef, vegetables, and sauce to a slow-cooker, and add in the dried bay leaves and potatoes. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours, or until beef is fork-tender. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serve with steamed white rice.

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Posted on September 8, 2014

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

Syrian Candied Gourd for Rosh Hashanah

Everybody knows about dipping apples in honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah for a “sweet” year. But in the Syrian tradition, we have an entire seder before the meal. There are actually many symbolic foods we make blessings on for the Jewish New Year.

In one of these prayers, we ask God to tear up any enemies’ decrees against the Jewish people. The Hebrew word for gourd, kara, resembles the word karaa, which means to rip. Before eating the gourd, we say, “May it be your will, Adonai, our God, God of our forefathers, that You tear up the evil edict of our judgment and may our merits be declared before you.” The gourd from our childhood was neon green and smelled like old ladies’ perfume, not to mention supremely freezer burned. It’s not uncommon to make (or buy) a batch, and store it in the freezer year after year until it runs out.

Candied Gourd

In my version of candied gourd I prefer to omit the green food coloring that gives the traditional version its signature color, as well as the rosewater. Rosewater is a key ingredient in many Middle Eastern sweets, so if you choose to use it just remember that a little goes a long way—just a drop is more than enough.

We actually prefer to use spaghetti squash as a more accessible alternative to gourd, but pumpkin, acorn squash or any winter gourd can be used. It is traditionally prepared as a sweet dish to go with the theme of a sweet new year—the same reason we eat dates and apples dipped in honey.

Candied Gourd

The other symbolic foods that our family eats during the Rosh Hashanah seder are dates, leeks, pomegranate, black-eyed peas, swiss chard, fish head, lamb head, or tongue, and a “new” fruit to say the shehechiyanu blessing on, which only has to be new for the year, and is usually starfruit.

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Syrian Candied Gourd


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
juice of ½ lemon
1 spaghetti squash
1 drop rosewater (optional)
1 drop green food coloring (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds and roast with the cut side down for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the water, sugar, and lemon juice in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 20 minutes, until the syrup is thick. Add rosewater, if using.

Scoop the flesh out of the squash and mix with the syrup. Feel free to add a drop of green food coloring here.

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Posted on September 4, 2014

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

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake

When the nice folks at The Nosher asked me to share my favorite Rosh Hashanah recipe, I knew exactly what I wanted to share. And it made me realize that there are meals and desserts, that – no matter how delicious or well-loved – I only make at specific times of year. This cake is a perfect example.sour-cream-apple-cof-cake-3

Moist and tender, not overly sweet, and laced with a heavenly streusel topping and filling, this coffee cake has got it all. And it’s super easy too.

sour-cream-apple-cof-cake-5Yet I only trot it out during the New Year. Sometimes it’s a Rosh Hashanah dessert, sometimes it’s served at break fast. But I never make it at any other time. I think that’s what makes it extra special. You can fill this cake with sliced pears, peaches or apples – but I use the apples, in keeping with the tradition of the New Year. And if I’m feeling extra cheeky, I’ll use Honey Crisps. As this cake also freezes beautifully you can make it in advance, saving a little work when preparing your holiday meal.


I hope you enjoy it – maybe it will become a holiday tradition for you too (but I won’t judge if you make it in January….).

This recipe is adapted from The Cake Bible. You will need a 9 inch springform pan to make it. 

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake


For the topping/filling:
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ cups cake flour
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ tsp vanilla

For the cake:
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced into ¼” thick wedges and tossed with 2 tsp lemon juice


Pre-heat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper – grease and flour the sides and bottom.

Make the topping/filling: In a food processor combine both sugars, walnuts and cinnamon. Pulse till nuts are coarsely chopped. Remove ¼ cup and put aside (for the filling). Add the flour, butter and vanilla and pulse briefly till mixture is crumbly. Set aside (this will be the topping).

Make the cake: In a medium bowl lightly whisk the yolks, ¼ c. of the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixer bowl and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining ¾ c. of sour cream. Mix on low speed till dry ingredients are moistened, and increase speed to medium – beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into your prepared pan, using a small angled spatula to smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the reserved filling and top with the sliced apples. Use a spoon to dollop the remaining batter over the top and gently smooth. Sprinkle with the reserved topping.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or till a cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the pan with your small metal spatula and remove. Cool completely before wrapping.

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Posted on September 2, 2014

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

Bulgur Salad with Chicken, Roasted Corn and Tomatoes

2 servings

Earlier this spring I was reading through my copy of the cookbook Jerusalem and came across a recipe for bulgur-stuffed eggplant with raisins, pine nuts and parsley. Sounded delicious, except for one thing: I had never cooked bulgur before. In fact, I barely knew what bulgar was.

Bulgur Salad with chicken roasted corn and cherry tomatoes

I walked the few short blocks to my nearest neighborhood store and picked up a bag, ready to recreate the delicious-sounding recipe. Well, bulgur turns out to be super easy to make (the same as rice) and incredibly satisfying. Nevertheless, I stuffed the bag away in my cabinet after making the recipe and sort of forgot about the grain.

Bulgur Salad with chicken roasted corn and cherry tomatoes

Just last week I was looking through my cabinets for some cooking inspiration, and rediscovered the bulgur. And it was one of those moments where I just decided to throw together a bunch of stuff I had in the fridge and it turned out delicious: leftover roasted chicken, fresh roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and fresh herbs. It was delicious, hearty while still being a fresh and light summer dinner.

Want to make this dish vegetarian? Swap out the chicken for some chickpeas instead.

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Bulgur Salad with Chicken, Roasted Corn and Tomatoes


1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 ears fresh corn
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
3/4 cup chopped chicken breast
fresh parsley
salt and pepper


Cook bulgur according to directions and add 1 Tbsp olive oil plus 1/2 tsp salt to cooking water. After bulgur is finished cooking (around 20 minutes) fluff with a fork and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove corn kernals from the cob and spread out in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until just starting to brown.

In a large bowl combine bulgur, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chicken and 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

Posted on August 26, 2014

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

Perfect Kale Chips

When I was pregnant with my daughter I discovered the wonder of kale chips. I was craving leafy greens, and making kale chips was a fun way to satisfy my urge. I would roast up 2 or 3 bags of kale at a time, and then stand shoveling it into my happy, pregnant mouth.


Fast forward, and I haven’t lost my taste for kale chips. And much to my delight, they are one of my daughter’s favorite snacks.

I want to be honest about the kale chip making endeavor: it can actually be a bit complicated. And whenever I mention kale chips among friends and family members, they always ask “how do you make yours? Mine always turn out soggy/burnt…”

kale-chips-2So here are my tips:

  • Make sure you spread kale out in a single layer. If the leaves overlap, they won’t crisp and cook properly.
  • Evenly coat the kale with olive oil. You can do this either by using a salad dressing mister, or simply massaging the kale before you bake it to make sure it is coated.
  • Start the kale at a lower temperature, and then raise it only at the end to get a good crisp – but don’t let them burn.
  • Watch the kale chips carefully at the end, and remove as they become done.

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Perfect Kale Chips


1 large head fresh kale
olive oil
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Break kale into even pieces and spread out in a single layer on lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Using your hands, massage kale to ensure olive oil coats leaves as evenly as possibly.

Bake for 20 minutes and turn leaves over on baking sheet. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, removing pieces of kale as they look done.

Serve as a snack.

Posted on August 21, 2014

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

Spinach Goat Cheese Tart with Herb Butter Crust

6-8 servings

At least several times a year I am privy to a conversation about the downfalls of social media. And how no one talks to one another anymore. As someone who uses social media professionally, I generally disagree citing countless examples of how social media has allowed me to stay in touch with friends across the world; keep up with news in real-time; and learn new things.

foodie potluck food

And two weeks ago, on a beautiful summer evening, the wonders of social came together to allow myself and a group of kosher food bloggers to take the fun of our online personalities and meet one another, share a meal and talk food in person.

Cookbook author and teacher Kim Kushner hosted the lovely outdoor evening, called #kosherfoodiepotluck, where each one of us brought a kosher, dairy dish and a sat around a large, expertly decorated table to what else: eat and talk.

foodie potluck outside

There were so many delicious dishes (especially some homemade cronuts by Chef Chaya), but my favorite part was getting the chance to meet so many other bloggers that I have known and followed for years. Here’s me meeting Melinda Strauss of Kitchen Tested for the first time. I am a hugger, thankfully she didn’t seem to mind. And on the right is me with Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me and Miriam Pascal of Overtime Cook.

foodie potluck people

You might be wondering, soooo….what did YOU make? I wanted to bring one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and I didn’t want to start creating a crazy new item for the first time. I also wanted to bring something that would transport easily, could use seasonal ingredients and could be served room temperature.

My goat cheese and spinach quiche with herb butter crust was just the thing. It’s also perfect for a Shabbat lunch, Sunday picnic or even Yom Kippur break-fast.Two notes about this recipe: first, it is inspired by my absolute favorite Julia Child, and resembles one of her recipes for an open-face tart. The second thing to note is that you can add any combination of fresh herbs that you like in the crust: sage, tarragon, mint or even cilantro. Get creative and enjoy.

spinach goat cheese tart

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Goat Cheese and Spinach Quiche with Herb Butter Crust


For the crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
6 ounces chilled butter
4 Tbsp chilled vegetable shortening
a scant half cup ice water, or more as needed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

For the filling:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 oz goat cheese, crumbled into pieces
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups blanched spinach, water squeezed out
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg

Special equipment: springform pan


In a food processor fitted with a blade, add all crust ingredients except for water. Pulse a few times to mix. Begin adding water just until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not over-pulse.

Remove dough and work on a lightly floured surface until you can shape the dough into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out crust on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Carefully roll the crust onto your rolling pin and lay on top of spring form pan. Gently push the crust into the pan using tips of fingers and thumbs. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork all over, You can get fancy with the edges of the crust, or just leave for a rustic look. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Whisk together eggs, cream, goat cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Heat a pan over medium heat and add butter and olive oil. Saute the shallots and garlic for just 2 minutes or until translucent. Add the spinach and stir for several minutes to remove any excess water. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add spinach and shallot mixture to the egg mixture. Pour into prepared quiche crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Posted on August 19, 2014

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


2 servings

When I first moved to Israel around five years ago, there were no Mexican food restaurants, and really very little interest in the cuisine. Fast forward to today: Tel Aviv has blossomed with possibilities for burritos and genuinely spicy salsa as well as 5 Mexican-style restaurants currently.


In truth, the ingredients used in Mexican food aren’t that different from those native to Israeli diets: a focus on fresh tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, lots of spices and citrus. So it was only a matter of time until Mexican food arrived in Israel. 

It is also lime season in Israel, and for this reason a celebration of excess lime usage is in order. To most this declaration sounds confusing: Israel is known for its fine citrus fruits, so why would lime season be such a big deal?  As it turns out, like other produce in Israel, much of the best crops are exported (primarily to Japan) so we don’t see it as much in our markets. Also, because the lime season is short, farmers do not see as much value compared to other citrus fruits.


Combine my love of Mexican food, love of lime season and shakshuka and you have a unique Mexi-terranean fusion perfect for summer breakfast, or anytime you feel like enjoying some Israeli fusion comfort food.


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Mexishuka (Mexican Shakshuka)


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
8 small (or 5 large) tomatoes
1 red chili pepper, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne Pepper
1 tsp salt
2-3 eggs
1 can refried beans
1 lime, cut into wedges
Corn tortillas (or Corn Tortilla Tostada Shells)
Fresh cilantro
Avocado, sliced thinly
Shredded cheese


Warm the olive oil in a heavy pan at medium heat. Add the onion and stir frequently until onion turns golden.

Add the garlic to the pan and cook for one minute, then add the tomatoes and cover. Lower the heat to medium-low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes are softened.

Add the spices and stir, tasting and adding spice to your desired flavor.

Crack the eggs directly into the tomato mixture, being careful not to break the yolk.

Continue cooking the sauce with the eggs for another 5-10 minutes until the yolks are cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the refried beans according to the instructions on the can.

If making the tostada: In a separate pan, grill the corn tortillas until crunchy then cut into chips to be used for dipping.

Arrange the tortillas either on a plate or in a bowl (or use a pre-cooked tostada shell), layering on top the refried beans and other desired toppings of cheese, cilantro, and avocado.

Once the eggs are cooked into the tomato dish, use a large spoon to transfer the tomato sauce and eggs on top of the tortilla (or tostada).

Add additional toppings to your taste, including a hefty squeeze of lime juice.

Posted on August 12, 2014

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