And finally we get to one of my favorite Jewish holidays to cook for: Shavuot. I love making dairy meals, and even more than the meal itself, I love making dairy dessert!
Here are some of my favorite dairy-rific recipes to enjoy this Shavuot. My top pick: definitely the salted caramel ice cream – it’s so rich and creamy you can eat a small serving and feel satisfied. Then again, no harm in having a slightly larger serving either.
Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Salad from Naturally Ella
Maple Sour Cream Bundt Cake from The Overtime Cook
A few months ago I was having lunch at my favorite Midtown NYC pizza spot – Pizza By Cer Te (no, it’s not kosher sorry) when I witnessed a culinary treat never before seen: a “lasagna cupcake.” I was determined to recreate this creative morsel, and I thought what better time than for Shavuot when it is traditional to eat dairy!
I love serving dairy meals, a bone of contention between me and my husband, who would prefer to consume meat at most meals. I even hosted a Shabbat dinner for my birthday a few years ago where everyone was challenged with bringing a dish that included my favorite ingredient: mascarpone. It was super dairy-rific and fun to see the creative ways people incorporated the creamy, Italian cream cheese into dishes like artichoke dip and lasagna.
This recipe was super easy to prepare, but looks cute and impressive. Truth be told, the most challenging part was locating these aluminum cups, which I bought at a special baking supplies store. You can also use individual ramekins, or even bake them in muffin pans and remove them once baked.
The best way to serve these if you aren’t serving them right away is to wait to pipe on the cream cheese-ricotta mixture until ready to serve. First, reheat the ziti cupcakes until heated through. Once heated, pipe the ricotta-cream cheese mixture and pop back in the oven or preferably under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with dried or fresh basil and serve!
For the baked ziti:
1/2 lb penne or ziti pasta
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup plus extra tomato sauce
For the "frosting":
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
In a large pot bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta as directed, around 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, beaten egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once pasta is drained, add sauce, pasta into the cheese mixture and mix together. This doesn't have to be totally incorporated, in fact, its better if not.
Spray each aluminum cup or ramekin with cooking spray.
Place pasta mixture into each cup until it reaches just the top of the cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Add extra sauce if desired.
When ready to serve, mix ricotta with cream cheese in small bowl. Place mixture into piping bag or large ziploc bag. Snip the end of the piping bag or the tip of the ziploc bag and pipe ricotta mixture on top of ziti cups in a switl pattern.
Place cups under broiler or in oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is set, but before the cheese starts to melt too much.
Sprinkle top with fresh or dried basil and serve.
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.
On the weekends growing up there was no better lunch for my mom than boxed mac n cheese. And us kids weren’t complaining! I can even remember how my mom would stand at the stove and scrape those last few little pastas into her mouth with a spoon.
I do love any kind of pasta with a cheese sauce, but I don’t want to serve my daughter something with so much salt, added color and goodness-knows-what-else that typically comes in the boxed variety.
So as I was peering into my fridge last week I decided to add pureed sweet potato as part of a bechamel sauce over pasta for my little lady. The dish turned out so good I decided to have a bowl right alongside my daughter. And in the end, we were both savoring the last spoonfuls of mac n cheese together.
What’s great about a dish like this is that you can really add and subtract according to your tastes. Instead of pureed sweet potato, you can insert butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin or spinach. It’s an easy, sneaky way to add a little more veggies into your life and also add additional creaminess to the sauce.
I also love the bright orange color that the pureed sweet potato turned the cheese sauce, without any “fake stuff.”
1/2 lb mini shells, tubetini or elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
reserved pasta cooking water
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as directed, around 8-9 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter in medium saucepan over low-medium heat. When butter is foamy and almost completely melted, add 1 Tbsp flour and whisk around 2 minutes, to ensure the flour is cooked. Add milk, yogurt and sweet potato puree one at a time, whisking in between to ensure mixture is smooth.
Add 2-3 Tbsp of pasta cooking water and whisk some more.
Add cheese and whisk until completely melted and sauce is smooth once again.
At this point you can leave the sauce as is, or add a few more Tbsp of the pasta cooking water depending on how thick you prefer your mac 'n cheese.
Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Drain pasta and add pasta to cheese sauce. Mix together and serve.
Before you head off into the wonders/horrors of a three day yom tov there’s still time for one more dairy recipe. (Technically, this recipe is pareve, but it makes a great vehicle for dairy foods, i.e. cheese.)
A friend of mine here in Chicago is using Shavuot as an excuse for an interactive lunch: make your own pizza. For the purpose of this lunch, we’ll be eating store bought crusts, but if we wanted to take it up a notch, we could make this great whole wheat dough.
The recipe makes a chewy crust that browns nicely. Like any other recipe for pizza dough, the key to this one is a really hot oven. You can change the proportion of whole wheat to bread flour, but I wouldn’t go more than 50-50. If you are using vegetable toppings remember to put them under the cheese so they don’t burn.
What’s your favorite way to eat a pizza?
2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup whole wheat dough
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a bowl.
While mixing, add the water and 2 tablespoons of oil until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
Scrape the ball onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a bowl with the remaining oil, add the dough, and cover it with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let it double in size, about one hour.
After 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Press each dough ball into a 1/2 inch thick flat round, adding flour or oil to the work surface as necessary. Press or roll the dough until it is as thin as you can make it. Allow the dough to rest if it becomes difficult to work with.
Brush lightly with olive oil and top as desired.
Bake for at least 10 minutes, rotating once, until crisp.
It’s customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot. Though I used to pull all-nighters with relative frequency, those days are (thankfully) behind me, and a 2am study session can be a little tough. Enter the affogato, a recipe brought to us from Ariel Pollock, that combines a delicious brownie with ice cream (dairy is also customary on Shavuot) and a shot of espresso. The brownie will be something to look forward to, and the espresso will keep you going for the few more hours until sunrise.
I was in charge of loading this recipe onto MyJewishLearning yesterday, and it looked and sounded so delicious that I was distracted for the rest of the day, thinking about how I might be able to either go to a restaurant and get one, or make one myself. I didn’t get a chance to have one yesterday, but it’s the first item on my agenda tonight. No, it’s not quite Shavuot yet, but I’m just preparing myself… To see the recipe and make it yourself, click here.
The blintz itself is essentially the same as a French crepe. Flour, eggs, and milk made into a thin batter and quickly cooked on a nonstick surface. We have a few variations here and here. Plus, there is always the frozen option.
I’ve never been a lover of blintzes. They always seem kind of mushy or gummy. So in preparation for this year, I did some research. I asked everyone I knew about blintzes. After a number of polls and brainstorming, we struck gold. My friend came up with the idea of mixing chunks of apple into the sweetened ricotta. Another friend added thinly sliced apples as a delicate garnish. By making the pancakes fresh and filling them with a honey-sweetened mixture, these blintzes are tasty and light.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup green apples, peeled and diced, plus slices for garnish
salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Mix ricotta, honey, apples, nutmeg, and salt.
Warm a crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat with butter.
Spoon 1 tablespoon onto one end of the blintz and begin to roll. Before reaching the other end, fold in the sides and finish rolling to make a sealed package.
Brown the blintzes in the hot pan, folded side down. Remove when golden.
Layer the apple slices over the blintzes and serve hot.
When in doubt, break out the puff pastry. Easy to work with, and always yielding a mouth-watering result, you really can’t go wrong with a dish that uses puff pastry as a base. This recipe has a Mediterranean flair and is perfect for Shavuot, brunch, or a weeknight dinner. It can be done as a rectangle shaped tart or as individual turnovers.
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted and rolled out
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper (or 1 jarred roasted red pepper)
1 cup artichoke hearts (about half a box)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons pesto (my favorite recipe)
Salt, pepper, crushed chilies, to taste
Saute the onion on low heat, until the onion is very soft and lightly browned. If you are using a fresh red pepper, roast it under the broiler until it is charred on all sides. Put it in a bowl, cover it with saran wrap, and let it cool. When it is fully cooled, peel the skin off and cut the pepper into slices.
Meanwhile prepare the puff pastry. Lay it flat on a baking sheet. Cut lines down each side, about a third of the way in, on the diagonal.
Mix the ricotta and pesto together. Season with salt, pepper and crushed chilies. (This is also an awesome dip for vegetables or pita chips!) Shmear the cheese mixture onto the middle third of the puff pastry. Top with an even layer of carmelized onions, artichoke hearts and sliced roasted red bell pepper.
Now to make it fancy looking. Fold over the sides, one strip at a time (right, then left, then right, then left…you get it) until the tart is closed. Brush with egg. Sprinkle the top with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Bake at 375F for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Serve with a salad. I like serving it with a sweet salad to contrast the flavors in the tart.
Want to mix it up? Use this as a model. Include something creamy(cheese), something sweet (like the onions), and whatever vegetables you have lying around!
When we moved to Chicago, my roommate and I decided we wanted to have a dairy-only kitchen. We had a whole bunch of reasons, but, as it turns out, there aren’t too many hecksher kosher dairy kitchens. People around here give us a pretty hard time for it.
Over the next few days, we’ll be posting all kinds of dairy recipes–from appetizers to entrees to desserts.
In the mean time, here are some of our old favorites: