Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Crumb Water Challah

This is another variation of my focaccia challah recipe, which I hope you will find as flavorful and fantastic as my family does. It also has considerably less sugar and oil than many other challah recipes. To make up for this, I add a crumb topping and either chocolate chips or a cinnamon/sugar combo... or both. Feel free to experiment: you really can't lose.


4 and a half cups water
4 packages dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
12 cups flour
2 tablespoons coarse salt

Crumb topping:

1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil or margarine
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees then turn the oven off.

In a separate bowl, combine and mix the flour with the salt.

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine contents of both bowls slowly. If you have a 4 or 5 quart mixer, when dough forms, you may want to take out some dough to make space to combine the rest of your ingredients to create a uniform dough.

Place all the dough together in a large oven-safe bowl sprayed with oil. If the dough is uniform, no more kneading is required. If the dough has some flour still visible and needs some more kneading, do so now. I sometimes place back some of the dough into the mixer to finish it kneading. 

When all is kneaded and placed in the bowl, cover the bowl with foil sprayed with oil. Place this in the warm oven that has been turned off. Wait until the dough has almost doubled in size. This takes approximately an hour.

Remove from the oven and shape the loaves. I coil together round loaves for the Yom Tovim, and braids for the rest of the year. You may add an egg wash here if you like, though I do not as we have an egg allergy at home (beat two eggs and paint all exposed parts of the loaves). Combine the crumb topping and add ingredients only until you've reached a nice crumbly consistency. Sprinkle crumbs on top as well as chocolate chips or cinnamon (I like to create nooks and crannies in the dough, especially for chocolate chips and crumbs). Note: Margarine rather than oil makes for a softer crumb, if that is what you are looking for. Crumbs made with oil are harder and more crunchy-cookie-like.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. The challah is done when the tops are nicely browned.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tales of the Crowdsourced Kosher Cheddar (Part II)

This is one of my favorite food stories from the last year or so, and it's especially great because it involves kosher foodies, entrepreneurs, artisan cheesemakers and dreams. We first met Mark Bodzin when he was just a mashgiach with a Kickstarter idea, and then he turned it into something great. Read part one of the story here.

Recently, I got the chance to taste the first fruits of Mark's labors (and I have another pound in my fridge if anyone wants to make me an offer!), and I had the great pleasure of interviewing him again. This time I also interviewed the head cheesemaker at Shelburne Farms (yes, that's a real job! Isn't it cool?). Here is my part two.

It's just such a joy to meet people who are as committed to their work as they are committed to quality. Coming in Jan-Feb 2016, the next Shelburne Farms' kosher cheddar... this time Chalav Yisroel. Looking forward to hearing many more good things from Mark Bodzin and Shelburne Farms.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Soft-Baked, Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Altered from my sister Jacq's excellent recipe. Very easy, egg-free and tastes just like Entenmann's!

1/2 c margarine (1 stick)
1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c white sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 and 1/4 c flour
1/4 c oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 c chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and sugars, then add the other wet ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients and mix until matter is well-combined. Add chocolate chips at the end.

Roll into round ball and place on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 8 to 12 minutes. When you pull them out, they should be puffed up, almost doughy looking. They will shrink down. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hanukkah Gelt Cookies!

A major hit for the under-four set, and also for anyone who loves sugar cookies. They're sweet, uncomplicated, quick and seasonal. Exactly what you want a Hanukkah cookie to be. Enjoy.


1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup margarine
2 eggs (or the equivalent in egg replacer)
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 pareve chocolate Hanukkah gelt coins


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the sugar and margarine until smooth, and add the eggs and wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients well, and slowly add to your wet mixture. When the dough comes together, rolling the dough into balls and pressing lightly on them to flatten (on parchment paper-covered cookie sheets). Then unwrap a chocolate coin and place it in the middle. Or let a child do this!   

Bake 8-10 minutes, and take out immmediately for a softer cookie, or a little longer for a crispy cookie (Wait until the top browns a little for more crisp cookies). Cool the cookies on racks. With one-inch balls, you will yield approximately 25 cookies. For smaller balls, many more. I made a variety of sizes so that the chocolate gelt pieces would fit. Enjoy. A freilichen Hanukkah to all!

*If you don't wish to use immediately, the dough can also be formed into a log, placed in plastic wrap and refrigerated for an hour or overnight, or even frozen. When ready to bake, the dough can be sliced with a sharp knife into sugar cookies.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interviewing Chef Kiko Sante, New Executive Chef at Mocha Bleu

Had a very interesting chat with Chef Kiko Sante, an Italian chef who, over his three decades working in America, has worked at several pretty legendary restaurants in Manhattan, including the Rainbow Room, Orsini and Tino's. He has now transitioned to as executive chef for the Glatt kosher restaurant, Mocha Bleu, in Teaneck.

Check out my interview! Enjoy!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

All-of-a-Kind Family Novels Reissued to Inspire a New Generation

I know this isn't food per se, but I learned of some of my favorite Lower East Side foods from these wonderful books... Such a pleasure that we get to re-read them with our children.
Many of the avid fiction readers among us were inspired by great books we read as young adults. Novels we read as older children and teenagers can often deeply affect one’s future understanding of life, history and relationships. One such example of a beloved book that stayed with young American Jewish girls was All-of-a-Kind Family. Sydney Taylor’s series about five sisters who lived in turn of the century New York, was published in the 1950s, and taught many kids about the nature of their grandparents’ childhoods on the Lower East Side. For the second half of the 20th century, All-of-a-Kind Family was the most recognizable and widely-known series about American-Jewish children.
This past summer, Lizzie Skurnick, editor-in-chief of Lizzie Skurnick Books, an imprint of Ig Publishing, began reissuing the four out-of-print sequels of All-of-a-Kind Family. The first two, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown, and All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown, were reissued in June and July, and More All-of-a-Kind Family and Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family will be available this fall. The original title has never gone out of print.
“Those books were very important to me,” said Skurnick, in an interview with JLBC. Skurnick explained that she first began resurrecting out-of-print Young Adult (YA) fiction for a column she wrote for the online magazine Jezebel, which discussed a lost YA title in each entry. “They were literary classics,” she said. “I turned 35 and I suddenly realized how important these books had been to me. I realize they had formed so much of my notions of history. For example, I learned so much about the Lower East Side from All-of-a-Kind family.”

Monday, September 29, 2014

Teaneck Tween Chef Eitan Bernath to Compete on Chopped

Such a pleasure to interview young foodies!
Teaneck–For the last year or so, the Bernath family of Teaneck has been keeping a huge secret. A custom-made Choppedchef’s jacket was hanging in oldest son Eitan’s closet. The 12-year-old Yavneh student would soon be on national television, as part of the first-ever kids episode of Food Network’sChopped. But finally, the secret is out. His episode will air on Tuesday, September 30 at 10 p.m.
“It was actually a very stressful 6th-grade year for us, because we were constantly in training and we couldn’t tell anyone,” said Sabrina Bernath, Eitan’s mother. Eitan beat out close to a thousand other 5th and 6th graders to win the right to compete, and had six months to prepare for the challenge. The show filmed last April; Eitan is now in 7th grade and preparing for his bar mitzvah.
Read the rest of the article here: