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.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I peak into my freezer, I am overwhelmed by the immeasurable number of bags of leftover challah that I have put away. I hate wasting the leftover challah slices and scraps after Shabbat, and yet I so infrequently find uses for them.
So I decided it was high time to put all that challah to delicious good use, beyond just bread pudding (delicious) and french toast on Sunday (the perfect breakfast).
Here are a variety of ideas for how to use up those leftover morsels that may actually get you excited about all those bags of bread in the freezer.
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.
When I was in high school, I had the most wonderful English teacher (that’s you, Mr. Scanlon!) who quoted Emerson, roughly, saying that we all contradict ourselves.
I often feel like I am the epitome of contradiction where eating and cooking is concerned. I strive to keep a mostly vegetarian diet, but sometimes I can’t help it. I relish making something fatty and delicious using red meat. And my Pastrami Sandwich Challah fits this bill precisely.
Stuffing my challah with meat all began with my famous challah dogs (stay tuned for that recipe!). But recently I had a hankering to stuff my challah with something else. Ground beef? Seemed messy. Chicken? So dry. But then I thought of the North American classic deli roll—a dish I did not grow up with, and which I find both disgusting and delicious. And the idea for this crazy new challah began to take shape.
If you have a local butcher as an option, please please please go get freshly sliced pastrami. Thin is best—a thick-cut pastrami will not result in the same consistency.
Make sure not to spread the Russian dressing on too thick, or you could end up with a leaky challah. I know that sounds delicious, but it might not make for such a pretty-looking challah.
Let us know if you try this. I’d love to hear modifications!
5 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
½ Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs plus one egg yolk
1/8-1/4 lb thinly sliced pastrami
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mayo
Dried minced onion
Thick sea salt (optional)
Proof yeast by placing yeast, sugar and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Stir gently just once or twice. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, onion powder and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil. Mix thoroughly.
Add another cup of flour and 2 eggs until smooth (save extra egg yolk for later). Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.
Add another 1 1/2 cups flour and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise 3-4 hours.
After dough has risen, roll out dough using a rolling pin until it is about ½ inch thick. Mix ketchup and mayo in a small bowl and spread a thin layer all over the dough.
Lay pastrami down in a single layer overlapping pieces only slightly.
Working quickly, start rolling up the dough towards you. Try and keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Pinch the end when you finish.
Create a pinwheel shaped-challah by snaking the dough around and around in a circle around itself. When finished, tuck the end under the challah neatly and pinch lightly. This doesn't have to be perfect - remember, as long as it tastes good, almost no one will care what it looks like.
Allow challah to rise another hour. This extra rise will ensure fluffy challah.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush challah with beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds, dried onion and a touch of thick sea salt (optional). Bake challah for 27-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Love challah? Love Chinese food? You can’t believe the luck you’re in: Challah with a Chinese Twist!
Hold onto your challah covers, Noshers!
Molly Yeh, a rocking young Chinese-American Jew and world-class baker just came up with an incredible recipe that celebrates her mixed heritage. And we’re so glad she did!
Find her gloriously easy and delicious recipe here. “Inspired by the scallion pancake,” she writes.
We’re in food-love!
After a few months of gluten-free, lean-protein, low-carb, whole-grain, raw-food living, the taste buds may begin to cry out indignantly: “Why does everything taste the same? Why do we have to be so healthy? Why can’t we have pizza? If we have to eat another leafy green salad dressed in olive oil and vinegar we’re going revolt!
Brown rice and beans is just so darn easy to prepare, and so is oatmeal And shaking up a weekly jar of olive oil vinaigrette is no big deal The wholesome dishes have been a habit for me, but has removed the guesswork, creatiity and flavor after so long. It is health-conscious eating, but mindful masticating?
Something had to give. At a recent Sunday Brunch party inspired by memories of thinly sliced smoked salmon and lox, baskets of bagel and tubs of cream cheeses, I was inspired to create this Bagels ‘N Lox Salad.
It began as many meals had with a layer of the leafy green-of-choice. But then it really started to get good with a few boiled new potatoes tossed in for a tender bite and some toothsome heft. Salty-oily slivers of smoked salmon or lox draped loosely on the leafy bed. Thin ribbons of sweet-tangy pickled red onions layered on more color and exciting flavor. A scattering of capers for even more salty taste. And then a few well-toasted pumpernickel squares added in for a pleasing crunch. It all ended tastily with a piquant drizzle of horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing (the dedicated health-nuts can easily substitute Greek yogurt).
It might not be as high on the health-o-meter as steel-cut oatmeal or brown rice and beans, but it’s still in keeping with the balanced eating regime. Sometimes we just need some Jewish love in the form of a flavor.
For the pickled red onions:
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
For the Crème Fraiche Dressing:
3 Tbsp crème fraiche or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp prepared white horseradish
Salt & pepper, to taste
Pinch of sugar, optional
1 pound small new potatoes
2 slices pumpernickel or rye bread
12 ounces torn romaine or mixed greens
6 ounces sliced lox or smoked salmon, cut into bite-sized squares
2-3 Tbsp capers, drained
To make the pickled red onions: Pour red wine vinegar in a small bowl, mix in sugar until it dissolves add the sliced onion, ensuring it is mostly submerged in vinegar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Boil or steam potatoes until just tender; drain let cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile make the dressing: In a small bowl mix together crème fraiche (or yogurt), fresh dill, horseradish. Adjust seasonings to taste.
To make the croutons, pre-heat oven to 375F. Cut slices of bread into bite-sized squares and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
On a large platter evenly spread out lettuce. Space out the boiled potatoes strategically on the lettuce. Drape squares of smoked salmon over potatoes.
Distribute the pickled red onions in equal amounts over the platter. Sprinkle drained capers artfully over salad.
Drizzle salad with horseradish-dill crème fraiche dressing- ensuring that every section gets an adequate amount.
Scatter the cooled croutons evenly over salad platter.
Other suggested add-ins: sliced avocado, radishes, beets, hard-boiled eggs. Store-bought bagel chips are a fine substitution for the pumpernickel croutons.
For anyone who has been following me on Instagram you know I’ve been a tad obsessed with cooking whatever is fresh at my local Jersey City farmer’s markets. Not too bad, right!?
It’s like my own Top Chef-Chopped challenge every week – what is at the farmer’s market today, what do I have in my fridge, and what can I whip up for dinner? Which mostly means, we have been eating a lot of salads, pasta, and more salads over the past few weeks, much to my meat-preferring husband’s chagrin. I am happy to report that he seems to be surviving.
I have made countless salad combinations with my fresh finds the past few weeks, but my Orecchiette with Kale Basil Walnut Pesto has been the real recipe winner to result from my farmers market shopping. Orecchiette is a great pasta when you want to really taste the sauce because the little “ears” really get coated, making a super flavorful pasta.
I like to leave pesto without cheese in it so that if I decide to marinate some chicken breasts or steak, I still have that option. And this batch of pesto makes enough for another pasta dinner, for some grilled veggies or for a quick chicken dinner.
1/2 pound orecchette pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 cups fresh kale
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
reserved pasta cooking water
parmesan cheese (optional)
In a saute pan on low-medium heat, slowly toast walnuts until just fragrant, around 4-5 minutes. Make sure they do not burn.
In a food processor fitted with a blade, add kale, basil, walnuts, garlic and a few Tbsp of the olive oil. Begin to pulse. Slowly add the remaining olive oil until smooth. You might want to add a touch more olive oil depending on your preference.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water.
Drain pasta and set aside. Return pot to low-medium heat on the stove, and add half the pesto to the pot. Add a few Tbsp of cooking water and stir.
Put drained pasta back into pot and mix until pasta is completely covered. Add more pasta water to loosen sauce if needed.
Serve with parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish.
What’s that saying – no rest for the weary!?
I got back from three weeks in Israel this past Sunday morning (during which time I was mostly working). Unpacked. Attempted to get back on New York time. And almost immediately was back to work in my kitchen baking batch after batch of macaroons and challah rolls for New York City’s first ever pop up Shabbat – “Shabubbe.”
I am so excited (and nervous) to be included in this first Shabbat pop-up restaurant and honored to be among so many culinary creatives. In fact, some of the same talented people, including the folks at Gefilteria, who brought you The Kubbeh Project earlier this year, will also be participating in tonight’s first pop-up Shabbat restaurant. Personally, I love the idea of finding new ways for Jews to meet one another, celebrate Shabbat and enjoy amazing Jewish food.
So what am I making? It may not seem like the season for macaroons. But I really love the traditional Passover treat. In fact, I first fell in love with chewy, coconut macaroons….at the movies! When I was in high school I used to frequent a small movie theatre nearby in Connecticut. It was the only movie theatre featuring a multitude of foreign films and documentaries (yes, I am a HUGE nerd). The movie theatre also featured – you guessed it – huge, moist coconut macaroons that were half dipped in chocolate. I was used to the canned variety my grandmother would buy at Passover, and could only wonder why all macaroons didn’t taste as good as the ones sold at my favorite movie theatre,
Well, fast forward, and I would like to think I have perfected recreating this childhood favorite, and even added my own spin.
So for ShaBubbe tonight I made two different kinds – macaroons with mini chocolate chips dipped in dark chocolate, and plain macaroons with dark chocolate and salted caramel sauce dirzzled on top.
How to make your own?
I like using this recipe from Martha Stewart! Try drizzling some melted chocolate on top along with this recipe for salted caramel sauce. The best part about the caramel sauce? It makes a big batch, so you can use the leftovers for an ice cream topping. Or to dip fruit. Or heck, just dip a spoon in it and enjoy.
Maybe next week will be quieter. But for now I have to get back to baking challah!
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom, however you will be enjoying it.
I am actually really excited about our Shabbat dinner tonight. I am trying out some new recipes, and experimenting with some gluten-free dishes now that my sister is on a gluten free and dairy free diet. My idea of Hell is a world where I couldn’t eat bread or dairy desserts.
So what’s on deck for this week’s Shabbat menu?
When I saw this recipe for Indian Barbecue Chicken, I knew I had to make it! Instead of using chicken breasts, I am going to make a whole roasted chicken and then serve the barbecue sauce on the side.
My sister has decided she is going to make some Shaved Zucchini Noodles with Kale Pesto. I am eager to see how they turn out. While searching for recipes I also came across this recipe from Whole Food Diary for Zucchini Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes and Kale Pesto. It looks incredible, gluten free or not. This recipe has also inspired me to look into buying a “spiralizer” to make cool, uniform veggie pasta!
Instead I decided to make this recipe from Whole Foods for non-dairy Rice Pudding, made with coconut milk and cinnamon. I also added a tsp of vanilla extract and star anise for a little extra punch. It smells divine and I can’t wait to serve it to my sister.
Shabbat Shalom and happy cooking!
I always advise people never to try new things when you are bringing something or hosting a meal. And what did I decide to do? Try a new cake recipe to bring to someone’s house who I had never met. This past Thursday night, I opened my trusty copy of Kosher By Design Entertains and decided to make a simple vanilla and chocolate swirl cake recipe for Shabbat dessert. Easy enough, right? Wrong!
The recipe itself was great – the cake batter was awesome! I mean, obviously I licked the spoon. And then disaster struck: I let the cake cool 15 minutes and removed the cake. And it broke. Broken Bundt. #fail. So now what!?
Well, at 11:00 pm I decided to make another dessert. This time I would make my tried-and-true, always-a-hit salty doubly chocolate chip cookies. Except that somehow I under-baked them too much, and they were more like slightly baked cookie dough rather than perfectly chewy cookies. Yet another fail!
What was going on with me!?
Whenever I am whipping something up in the kitchen, I always post the photos to Instagram (are you following me yet? well why the heck not! Follow me here!). And on Thursday night I posted the photo of my poor, poor broken bundt. And lo and behold, a fellow pareve baker suggested I turn the cake into a trifle. Genius!
And that’s just what I did.
Now, the cake recipe is really the least important part. So to make this trifle you can use the same recipe from Kosher By Design Entertains, or you can use a store bought angel food cake or you can even use brownies if you want to be really indulgent.
For you dieters out there….you can actually leave out the cake entirely and simply layer different kinds of fruit together with chocolate mousse and some slivered almonds for crunch. Like a dessert parfait, but with chocolate mousse. Ok, ok, not exactly diet food. But slightly less carb-heavy.
For the trifle I made I used this recipe for the chocolate mousse. But truth be told, usually I live and die by this recipe for Olive oil and chocolate mousse from The New York Times. You can use any mousse recipe that suits you.
Don’t have a trifle dish? You can use just a big glass bowl! I bought mine from Target! But you can also order one from Amazon like this one.
Well, happy broken bundt baking everyone!
1 cake, such as chocolate cake or angel food cake.
1 batch chocolate mousse
2 cups fresh berries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
fresh berries for garnish
In a medium saucepan, add berries, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until you have a syrup-like consistency. Mash berries or put through food processor for a smoother consistency. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large glass bowl or trifle dish, break up around 2 cups of cake or brownie into bottom of bowl. Add layer of chocolate mousse and a drizzle of berry syrup.
Repeat until you have 3 layers and have used up most of the cake and mousse.
Garnish with fresh berries.