Salads can be boring. In fact, every time I try to eat a salad for lunch I feel disappointed – like an opportunity for something delicious has been robbed from me. Which is why I am the queen of fun salads in my house, and am always looking to create new ways to put together my favorite fruits, veggies and nuts.
This is a recipe I haven’t made for YEARS but thought it was time to bring it back into the rotation, especially in time for Shavuot! You can serve this as a side salad for any dairy meal, and it’s perfect for a Shabbat lunch dish. Want to make it into a full meal? Serve it with some simply grilled or poached salmon and you are sure to feel some salad salmon satisfaction. Want to serve it with a meat meal? Just leave off the goat cheese!
I like making my own dressing, but you don’t have to – just pour on your favorite bottled dressing or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For the salad:
1 package pre-washed spinach
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
For the dressing:
2 tsp whole grain or dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Place spinach leaves in large bowl. Add blueberries, cucumber, edamame, goat cheese and macadamia nuts.
In a small bowl combine mustard, lemon juice, honey, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil and whisk until dressing comes together.
People often ask for my challah recipe, at which point I explain it’s not the recipe itself that is the key, it’s really some of the other steps, including some of the gear that I use that makes my challah so good.
Some of my tips?
Feed your yeast – make sure to add 1 tsp sugar to your yeast and lukewarm water mixture to help move it along, thus “feeding your yeast.” When the yeast-water mixture is foamy and bubbling on top you will know its ready,
Double the rise – always let your challah rise twice! Let it rise once for 2-4 hours, punching down as needed. Then braid your challah and let it rise again before baking for a super fluffy result.
My dear friend Danielle, a trained pastry chef, was always telling me I NEEDED a scale. And you know what – she was right. A digital scale for baking is really essential and I don’t know how I ever survived without it. You might be asking…why would I use this for challah!? I am not good at eye-balling dough so that it is the same amount in each strand, each loaf or when I make individual challah rolls. Measuring your dough will ensure more even distribution and an all-around better-looking loaf!
A silpat, although perhaps a pricey investment since I recommend buying 2, is well worth the upfront cost. You know when the bottom of your bread gets slightly burned, but the inside and top is perfect? Well a silpat will make sure that doesn’t happen. And you can use it for much more than challah – it’s ideal for cookies as well.
My next suggestion has many applications beyond just challah – a dough scraper is a great tool to have for baking in general. But why for challah? I love using the scraper to cut the dough into clean pieces as I am dividing it up. And perhaps even more exciting than cutting is how easy a scraper makes clean-up since you can use it to collect all the bits of dough and flour off your counter or work surface.
Lastly, I recommend a good non-silicone pastry brush in order to apply your egg wash. I have also used silicone pastry brushes, but I simple prefer the non-silicone variety. I also use pastry brushes like these when making scones, pies and a variety of cookies.
I generally prefer savory challah, since you can use the leftovers for sandwiches. But every now and then a sweet challah with chocolate chips, cinnamon, raisins or chocolate really hits the spot.
Not everyone loves the flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and I consider those people crazy. What is better than peanut butter and chocolate!? Well, maybe peanut butter and chocolate in a challah. With crumbs on top. Served with a cup of coffee, and this is what my breakfast dreams are made out of.
Tip: baking challah is not a 1 hour process, so definitely give yourself plenty of lead time. And don’t rush the rising – the longer you let the dough rise, the fluffier it will be.
Happy challah baking!
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 eggs plus 1 egg for brushing
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For crumb topping:
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp margarine
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
Put yeast and 1 tsp sugar into a small bowl. Add lukewarm water, stir gently and allow to sit until foamy bubbles form on top, around 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, peanut butter and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. When yeast-water mixture is ready, add to flour mixture until it is incorporated.
Add eggs one at a time and another cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.
Change to dough hook on mixer, or if working without a mixer, continue to mix in a large bowl. Add chocolate chips.
When the dough is too difficult to stir, flour a working surface and start kneading. Add remaining flour and knead for 10 more minutes.
Grease a large bowl and add dough to bowl. Cover with warm, wet towel. Let dough rise for 2-6 hours, punching down at least once.
To make the crumbs, add flour, brown sugar, salt, margarine and peanut butter to a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut ingredients together until small-medium size crumbs form. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
When challah has risen, braid challah into two medium sized loaves. Place loaves on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Allow challah to rise 30-60 minutes extra.
Brush challah with beaten egg and sprinkle crumbs on top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until outside is golden, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
I went to Jewish day school from pre-school all the way through 12th grade, and looking back, there were definitely some lessons that had a much bigger impact than others. Perhaps my most enduring lesson is one I got way back in kindergarten at Solomon Schechter: challah baking. The teachers guided us through the recipe, and eventually gave each child a small mound of dough to shape into a challah that we took home at the end of the day. We also took home a piece of paper with the recipe typed on it, and it has been my go-to challah recipe ever since.
Since kindergarten I’ve made this challah hundreds of times. I’ve made it on three continents, at four universities, and in half a dozen homes. It never disappoints. I hope it brings as much doughy goodness to your table as it has to mine. Shabbat shalom!
2 packages yeast (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
8-10 cups flour
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
2 Tablepoons maple syrup (optional)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 beaten egg
Poppy or Sesame seeds
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water from the tap with 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil, water and salt. If you'd like a sweeter challah, add honey or maple syrup. For a little spice in your challah, add cardamom and vanilla.
Mix yeast mixture into egg mixture, using beaters, your hands, or the dough hook on a standing mixer. Add 2 cups of flour at a time, mixing between additions (feel free to substitute whole wheat flour for up to 3 cups of regular flour). When the dough gets thick and sticky, turn it out onto a floured counter and knead the flour in by hand. Stop kneading when it seems like the dough will not accept any more flour (usually about 9 cups of flour). Put the dough back in the bowl and cover loosely with a kitchen towel. Let sit for at least 4 hours, up to 8 hours.
After the dough has risen for at least four hours, punch it down, and knead in raisins if you'd like to us them. Then divide the dough into three sections. Each section will be a loaf. Braid or shape the challot however you like. (The Shiksa has a wonderful and very comprehensive guide to braiding and shaping challah dough here.)
Once the loaves are braided or shaped, place them on cookie sheets, and cover loosely with a towel. Allow to rise at least another half hour, preferably an hour. Preheat the oven to 350F. Then, beat an egg, and brush it lightly on each challah, making sure to get the egg wash in all the crevices of the loaf. Sprinkle the tops with poppy or sesame seeds if you wish. Bake the challot for 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top, and are making your kitchen smell like heaven.
It’s almost time for Purim, so no better way to start Shabbat than with this creative recipe for Hamantaschen Challah!
I love classic roasted chicken for Shabbat dinner, but sometimes you need something a little different. Try this Spinach Stuffed Roasted Chicken from Overtime Cook as a new twist on classic Friday night chicken.
No matter how many times I make brussel sprouts, or how many recipes I come across, I simply cannot get enough! This week I came across this simple, tasty recipe for Zesty Fried Brussel Sprouts, which makes a perfect veggie side.
Shabbat Shalom and happy cooking!
Its the Shabbat before the Superbowl, and it’s probably time to make sure you get in a few extra servings of veggies before the snackfast on Sunday. This week I put together some recipe ideas that are chock full of colorful vegetables so that at least you get some vitamins in before the chili dogs and nachos.
Blood oranges, one of my favorite fruits, are still in season right now, and so I jumped when I saw this Blood Orange Salsa, with avocado and cilantro. I would serve this with some tortilla chips and cut up veggies as a refreshing and satisfying starter.
I am loving this recipe for Baked Chicken with Cannellini Beans from The Food Yenta! Not only is it super easy, but it uses my favorite type of beans, plus fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes. This is a perfect, throw-together dish for an easy Shabbat entree.
Well, you have to eat something for dessert, so why not finish the meal with a healthy dose of apples. I like this simple recipe for an Apple Gallette, as the author describes, the “no fear apple pie.” Just swap out the butter in the crust for margarine, or use your dough of choice.
Shabbat Shalom, and happy cooking!