Monday, December 28, 2009

Three Cheese Mac 'n Cheese

Here I present a rather non-traditional, non-yellow, non-elbow macaroni mac 'n cheese dish, with spinach, chickpeas and vegetable stock thrown in for good health. It's a light yet no less cheesy version of a classic dairy dish. I made it a couple of times last week to rave reviews. I hope you like it!

1 box whole grain pasta, cooked according to package directions

2 tbsp margarine (I use earth balance veggy sticks)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups pareve vegetable stock
1/4 cup almond milk (regular milk, half and half, or cream will also work well)
1 cup low fat part skim ricotta
1 cup shredded or pulsed parmesan reggiano cheese (plus extra for later)
2 oz or 2 slices light muenster or monterey jack cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (broccoli or cauliflower would also work fine)
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

In a large, wide-bottomed saucepan, combine the margarine and flour and make a roux by cooking together for a minute or so until pasty and bubbly. Add almond milk and vegetable stock slowly and mix thoroughly until there are no lumps. You should have a nice sauce that coats the back of the spoon well. Add the ricotta and parmesan cheeses and mix until incorporated. Add salt and pepper and correct the seasoning. Add the veggies, chickpeas and the pasta, correct the seasoning again. Transfer to a baking dish and top with parmesan and muenster/monterey jack cheese. Bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet Potato and Leek Latkes

After we're done making regular classic latkes for a couple of Chanukah nights, it's time to think outside the [white potato] box and get some anti-oxidents and vitamins into our bloodstreams!

I made latkes tonight with sweet potatoes and leeks and they turned out great. Let's face it -- fried anything would probably be pretty good. But these taste just like latkes should. Crisp and delicious and mightily Chanukah-esque. I hope you enjoy these as much as my [vegetable hater] husband and I did.

6 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped fine in food processor
6 leeks, white and very light green parts only, washed and chopped fine in food processor
3 eggs
2 tsp salt (or to taste, 2 tsp makes a very savory latke)
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour

vegetable oil for frying (I use Mazola Corn Plus!)

Let sweet potatoes drain a bit before combining with other ingredients. Heat oil in a wide bottomed pan until very hot, and fry latkes until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a warm oven and serve hot!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scottish Oatmeal Shortbread Squares

I was inspired by Amy, a fellow blogger over at Baking and Mistaking to make Scottish shortbread with oatmeal. I was all ready to make her version, but then, while talking with my mom, she pulled out a very old, out of print cookbook from McCall's Magazine that she got for her wedding which had a amazing recipe that I just had to try. Like Amy's recipe, there are few ingredients, but in this one there's a ton more oatmeal, which is a whole grain! Now, while I won't look you in the eye and tell you this is health food, I do feel better about serving these than say, chocolate covered marshmallows...

I will tell you that this recipe is quick and easy and it's a perfect thing to bring to friends for dessert on a cold winter evening. And it really tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen!

3 cups quick cooking oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1 tsp vanilla

(optional) 1 high quality Swiss dark chocolate bar for dipping, melted in the microwave and stirred with a teaspoon of vegetable oil.

Mix ingredients only until incorporated, until it resembles a coarse cornmeal. Press with your fingers into square pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Score (slice) into squares as soon as it comes out of the oven. Makes 18 generous squares.

If dipping, place dipped cookies on parchment paper and store in the refrigerator until set.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Classic Potato Latkes

It's difficult to do my "classically kosher" thing [which is to take classic Jewish recipes and update/modernize them with today's healthy options for less fat and oil] with something as classic and traditional as latkes, because the whole point of latkes is that they are fried in oil, to remember the miracle of the oil that burned in the Temple for eight nights instead of just one.

Also, I can't fully support some people's crazy notion (most recently seen in the NY Times) that latkes are supposed to be fried in olive oil. This is a culinary falsehood. Latkes will simply not brown and crisp up well with olive oil, because olive oil has a low burning temperature. The corners are likely to burn before the insides are even done cooking. So forget about it and use vegetable oil!

The one thing that I do actively suggest is to use Mazola Plus! vegetable oils, which are fortified with omega threes. It is comparatively healthy and it tastes great. For latke frying, I would recommend Mazola's Corn Plus.

Introduced in 2007, Mazola® Corn Plus!™ is a unique combination of pure corn and canola oils. It is a delicious way to cook plus it is a heart healthier option to other fats and oils. The pure, light flavor of Mazola® Corn Plus!™ is ideal for all types of contemporary cooking from salad dressings and marinades to cakes and cookies. Mazola® Corn Plus!™ is naturally cholesterol free and provides 600mg of Omega-3 per serving.

And away we go with the world's best latkes, otherwise known as the best latkes ever (My mom's recipe, of course)! Not only is this recipe delicious, it's also easy. A freilichen Chanukah to everyone!!

5-6 Russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and grated (or pulsed in food processor)
2 yellow onions, grated (but less likely to make you cry if you pulse it in a food processor)
2 large eggs (or two eggs worth of pasteurized egg substitute)
2 tbsp flour
1 and 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt (plus more for garnishing)
cracked pepper to taste

Mazola Corn Plus! or vegetable oil for cooking

After you have grated or pulsed (grating will give you a lighter latke, pulsed will give you a more pancake-like potato pancake) the potatoes, place them in a sieve or spaghetti strainer to drain, or put them in layers of cheesecloth or paper towels and squeeze the water out. Mix ingredients together until combined.

In a wide bottomed non-stick saute pan, heat vegetable or canola oil until very hot, and place either large or small spoonfuls in pan (depending on whether you want full size or mini latkes), and flatten only at the beginning. Don't crowd them. Wait until the corners have started to get very brown, and flip.

When the latke is done, you will know because it will smell amazing and look crisp and delicious on both sides. When removing latkes from the pan, ideally with a slotted spatula, place on several layers of paper towel to sop up excess oil, and garnish with coarse salt. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve!

Serve traditionally with applesauce or sour cream (But I like them best plain).

This recipe tends to make 12 large or 24 mini latkes.

Potato Latkes on Foodista

Olive Oil and Herb Master Boule Bread

Okay, so in my continuing travails on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day thing, I actually mixed up some bread today and it really only took about five minutes, but it did, surprisingly result in a delicious, crusty loaf.

I mixed up some dough, added dried herbs for flavor, sat it on the counter for three hours while I went to Tenefly to tutor a restaurant manager to pass the ServSafe exam, then came home, shaped it and baked it. You still need to remember that with this artisan bread baking business, you still have to preheat the oven for 25 minutes, without forgetting the breadstone, and organize your brain enough to have a sprinkling of cornmeal on your pizza peel, but generally, it has gotten easier, and I am able to say, I got closer to the five minutes of artisan bread baking as opposed to what was closer to the seven hours that it took me the first time I tried it.

Here's what I did:

3 cups warm water mixed with 1 and a half packages dry yeast, mixed with 1 and a half tbsp kosher salt.

Add to that 6 and a half cups of flour, 2 tsp dried thyme, and 2 tsp dried rosemary. Mix until incorporated.

Place mixed, unkneaded contents in a container with a cover, and affix the cover but not tightly.

Leave home and do something with your life. Then come home ready to prepare dinner. (I understand this can be left out for 5+ hours).

Then, I took approximately half the mixture and shaped it into a round loaf. No kneading. I placed flour on the top of the loaf, and slashed it horizontally with a knife. I then brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled with kosher salt, some granulated garlic and additional herbs, and placed it in a hot 450 degree oven on my breadstone, and baked for approximately 30 minutes until brown and crusty!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pareve Mexican Vegetable Soup and Corn Bread

I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa recently, and she served an enticing and decadent dairy cornbread with a mexican chicken soup. The flavor combination looked amazing if a bit verboten, and I set out immediately to try and see if I could make both pareve, so that these two dishes could be served with either dairy or meat dishes.

The cornbread came out light and airy and I left out the cheese and scallions she used, because I am a bit of a cornbread purist and I don't want anything mucking it up. The Mexican soup I watched Ina make bears little resemblance to what I ended up with, and it's now something new all its own. She used tortillas to thicken hers, and I used potatoes, but the whole thing is just gorgeously scented. Ina used coriander and cumin, which I used but also added a bay leaf and smoked paprika. She also used a jalapeno in hers (without seeds), but I didn't have any in the house so substituted a small pinch of cayenne. Plus, I don't like cooking with jalapeno because I ALWAYS end up forgetting that I just minced one and somehow touch my face hours later and it burns. Even when I wear plastic gloves!!

Corn bread:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 sticks margarine (1/2 pound), melted
3 eggs
2 cups soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or MimicCreme
1/3 cup scallions (optional)

Sift together first five dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and mix the dry and wet just until incorporated; do not overbeat. Let sit for 15 minutes before baking at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Mexican vegetable soup:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, minced
1 box white mushrooms, minced
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 small pinch cayenne
1 bay leaf
10 cups water
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Before serving: 4 oz. almond milk, diced avocados, tortilla chips

Saute the onions, carrots and mushrooms in olive oil until softened. Add the rest of the ingriedients and simmer for 1 hour. Puree if you wish. Before serving, add several ounces of almond milk to add creaminess, and serve with tortilla chips, sliced avocado and of course, fresh hot cornbread!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Persian Chicken with Saffron and Sumac

Many Ashkenazi Jews think of Persia only once a year, on Purim. But Persian Jewish communities in Los Angeles, New York and Israel are large, vibrant and growing, and they have a rich history dating back to biblical times. Of course, with Persian Jewry also comes some of the Middle East's best, classically kosher culinary secrets. Because I have a Persian neighbor, I have tasted some of these delicacies myself, but have hesitated so far to try cooking Persian on my own.

Several weeks ago while visiting Los Angeles, I had a chance to meet some lovely friends of my brother Lewis, and because they are of this heritage, it was even more exciting for me that they were willing to share a version of broiled Persian chicken that I felt confident enough to try out.

Before this, I had been generally unable to find kosher recipes for Persian chicken on the Internet, but what I did know was that I needed to use saffron and sumac powder, and that the chicken is generally marinated in lemon juice and then broiled. This is a very "classically kosher" concept, because my attempt with this blog is to get away from heavy sauces and added fats. With broiled food, one locks in the flavor on the plate while leaving the oil and fat in the pan.

Lewis' friends not only supplied me with the best source for the saffron (Trader Joe's!), generally acknowledged to be most expensive and rare spice around (saffron is handpicked from the inner stigma of the crocus flower), they even sent a bag filled with bottles of it for me to take back to New Jersey! I used a bottle of that in addition to ground sumac powder that I found at Golan Dried Fruits on Coney Island Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

I am not confident of the amounts on this recipe, and though this version was good, I am not sure it was authentic. The spice profile used here is very different from my normal Eastern European flavors (no garlic or paprika, can you believe it?!), and even though I've eaten lots of Middle Eastern food, cooking it is a different thing. I would absolutely love any comments or suggestions. But on this version, my husband and I both found it delicious and unusual.

1 chicken, cut in eights
1 gram Spanish saffron, buzzed into a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder
4-5 lemons, juice only
1 onion, finely grated
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp ground sumac

Marinate the chicken for half an hour, or more, in the lemon juice that you have mixed with the saffron, onion and some salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 400 degrees for another half an hour, then broil for 5-10 minutes on high, until deeply browned. Sprinkle generously with ground sumac. Here, it is served with aromatic saffron rice and fresh grape tomatoes with parsley.

Saffron on Foodista

Persian Chicken on Foodista

Sumac on Foodista

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quick Savory Piecrust

This is super-super easy and super good. It's my mom's recipe and it's what we used, with herbs, for the herb-crusted quiche. This crust can be used for anything however. Adding 2 tablespoons of sugar to the mix even makes it a great base for sweet potato pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
5 tbsp cold water
1 tsp kosher salt

For the crust, combine the ingredients and mix with a fork. Form the dough into two balls of the same size, about the size of baseballs, and place each between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll them out with a rolling pin and place in pie pans. The crust patches really easily so just flatten it enough to crawl up the sides a bit. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven until slightly browned. Remove from oven, fill with your favorite fillings and bake.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Gracious Miracle

When Nana, my father's mother, passed away this past September, right before Yom Kippur, we found her ketubah (marriage contract), which was written in 1924, and checked it to make sure we had her Hebrew name correct to say in memorial prayers.

We found that in addition to her Hebrew name of Hanna, which means gracious, she also had a second name of Nessa that none of us had known about. Nessa means miracle. We immediately added that second name to our prayers for our dad's complete recovery from the open heart surgery he had on Rosh Hashanah, which left him on a bi-ventricular assist device with an immediate need for a heart transplant. In retrospect, it was a miracle we had to pray for.

"The call" came last evening, nine and a half weeks after his initial surgery, 32 long days and nights after he had been on the heart transplant list at the most critical level.

Today's transplant, performed by the world-class transplant team at UCLA Medical Center, is indeed a miracle bestowed graciously upon us by our G-d who hears prayer, and it is with deep gratitude to Hashem that we begin the next phase of his recovery.

We continue to pray for Sholom ben Hanna Nessa's complete recovery, and thank our friends and family for all your love, prayers and good wishes. Dad, we love you and are glad to have you with as long as Hashem lends you to us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Herb-Crusted Sun Dried Tomato and Mushroom Quiche

In Orange County, California, the availability of kosher-certified hard cheeses are limited to speciality stores and are not always available in the average supermarket. And as my mom recovered from surgery today, I asked her to tell me what she felt like eating and assured myself that whatever she said, I could whip it up. After all, what good is a daughter who went to culinary school if she can't produce delectable morsels for her mom when she is recovering her strength?

The first thing my mom asked for early in the day was a cheese soufle. But before I expressed my intense fear and consternation at being asked to make something that requires finesse when the last time I cooked in this kitchen was circa 1992, she broke in that she thought we didn't have the materials in the house and instead asked for scrambled eggs with cheese grated on top. As late afternoon approached though, and she expressed interest in only light and cheesy foods, we decided a quiche would be perfect. But since we had next to no cheese left in the house, I had to go out to forage for materials.

Unfortunately, there was no hard cheese to be had with a hechsher in the two supermarkets I tried. I am so spoiled to live in Teaneck! Often, my mom said that one can find the kosher run of Tillamook Chedder in local California stores, but the only kosher cheeses I found were Alouette, Philadelphia and various brands of ricotta. I decided to go with the ricotta and the very small bit of chedder I had left over from my mom's earlier scrambled egg lunch.

I also didn't want to use milk or cream in the quiche because it adds excess fat and the dish would pack a large lactose punch, which I am not that excited about. (My whole raison d'etre of Classically Kosher is to modernize Jewish recipes and update them with ingredients that will help us live more healthfully). Of course, you will achieve the same delicious result with low-fat milk, whole milk or cream. So I used unsweetened Blue Diamond almond milk (O-U), which is an excellent cream substitute, very similar in fact to MimicCreme, which is an almond and cashew milk mixture that I wrote about last week here. Almond milk and almond milk blends is probably the next big trend in kosher cooking and baking. It was discovered by Chef Mark Hellermann as he developed pareve recipes for the first time in preparation to teach the first kosher/professional baking and pastry course in the United States, at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts.

Anyway, on to the recipe:

This makes two quiches.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
5 tbsp water
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dehydrated or granulated garlic


8 eggs, beaten (or the same amount egg substitute)
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk)
1 box white mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 clove fresh garlic
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (or more) chedder, colby or monterey jack cheese, grated
fresh ground pepper
1 tsp salt

For the crust, combine the ingredients and mix with a fork. Form the dough into two balls of the same size, about the size of baseballs, and place each between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll them out with a rolling pin and place in pie pans. The crust patches really easily so just flatten it enough to crawl up the sides a bit. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven until slightly browned. Remove from oven.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and combine with almond milk and ricotta and mix with a fork until smooth. Separately, saute the mushrooms in the olive oil with the garlic until browned. Add this and the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and pour into the crusts. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour until firm on top.

Garnish with more chopped chives and minced sun dried tomatoes. Slice thin for hors d'oeuvres or thickly for lunch, brunch or dinner. These would be great in ramekins for mini-quiches... Yum!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pareve Vichyssoise: Kosher Potato Leek Soup

I love Julia Child, I love soup and I love cream. I mean, who doesn't? But in the Jewish world, because of the combination of cream and chicken stock, a true Vichyssoise soup has never been possible... Until now!

Last week at Kosherfest, our team at the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts exhibited next to the MimicCreme*** team! Their product is a Kof-K certified pareve cream product, made from almond and cashew milk, without soy or anything unnatural. And it really tastes creamy, without any weird or chemical aftertaste. It also has fewer calories than real cream, and no cholesterol or saturated fat.

Aside from having wonderful chats with MimicCreme's team throughout the conference, finding them to be just plain nice people, our team at CKCA was also singularly impressed by the versatility and uniqueness of their product.

It comes in both sweetened and unsweetened versions, and I spoke with MimicCreme's founder, Rose Anne Jarrett, about the kinds of recipes that can be developed using the product.

The sweetened version certainly works great for ice cream-style preparations, as we found out by tasting samples of coffee ice cream at their booth. And my fellow blogger Shoshana of the site Couldn't be Pareve, recently blogged about the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream, a deep chocolate flavored with cinnamon and a wisp of spiciness, that she made with the sweetened MimicCreme. It sounds amazing. I tried a cold preparation too, with the unsweetened stuff with less amazing results. I did a frozen chocolate cream pie, but it froze too hard to cut and serve comfortably. Could have been that my ratios were off, as the taste was still good.

But back to my dreams of Julia Child and Vichyssoise. I used MimicCreme as a replacement for the cream in the classic recipe, and it worked extremely well. I recommend the below version, and look forward to trying out other vegetable bisques with this product. But first, I need more of it!

On that note, the MimicCreme team is looking for a distributor (possibly in kosher stores) for their product, and I hope it turns out, because right now it seems that the only place to get this product is online, at this link.

Pareve Vichyssoise:

4 cups leeks, white and very light green parts only, sliced
4 cups old or russet baking potatoes(very starchy, not red or new potatoes recommended), sliced
7 cups reduced or low sodium chicken stock (or enough to cover the vegetables)
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
1 tsp pepper (optional)
1/2 cup MimicCreme
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced

Bring the leeks, potatoes and chicken stock to a boil in a deep, wide-bottomed saucepan. Salt lightly, cover partially, and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat and add cream. Purée the soup (optional) with an immersion blender or food processor. Taste and correct seasoning. After chilling the soup, you may wish to stir in a little more cream. I learned in culinary school that you have to salt hot foods when they're hot, and cold foods when they're cold. (I'm sure Julia would turn over in her grave if she heard I was serving Vichyssoise hot, but come on, I am JEWISH after all. We view the whole point of soup as being warm and comforting). So depending on whether you are serving the soup cold or hot, make sure to correct the seasoning at the temperture you'll be serving it. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of chives. Makes 4 to 5 generous servings.

Please note I loved this soup, my husband (who thinks he does not eat vegetables) loved this soup, and everyone I told about it promised to make it immediately. Don't delay. It is super-yummy!

*** I have not been paid to shill MimicCreme products on the Internet. I am doing it voluntarily, though I was provided with a sample of the product free of charge, for recipe development purposes only! As always, if anyone wants to send me or CKCA samples, I/we am/are more than willing to test them out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adventures in "Five Minute" Artisan Bread Baking

So I finally tested out the master boule recipe, which I have wanted to do since I first heard about it on the web. It's from a book that I don't own, called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Now, the first thing you need to know, is that it didn't take me five minutes a day to do this. It took much, much longer. Perhaps it will take less time later on after I get the hang of it.

As a cook who doesn't generally bake bread, the first thing I had to do was buy yeast, which was the easiest part, as it happens. Then I had to think for a couple of weeks about how to acquire a bread baking stone. Because I remembered my chef instructor telling me that breadstones were extremely expensive and that there were ways to acquire the same thing without shelling out your inheritance at Williams Sonoma, I asked Chef Avram Wiseman and he told me to measure my oven, then go to Home Depot and get a two-inch thick piece of brick, bluestone or concrete. Not wanting to think about how to find our measuring tape, I then I asked CKCA Pastry Chef Mark Hellermann the same question. He told me to go to a tile store and get a piece of unglazed tile.

Both those options seemed kind of complicated. Especially since I didn't even know tile stores existed. So I did was I usually do: I asked my mom. She said: "They're not THAT expensive. Use your Bed Bath and Beyond coupon."

So that's what I did! I got the Oneida pizza stone, which came with a handy dandy stand too. BB&B was selling it for $19.99 but I got it for about $15 with my coupon.

The other things I needed, I already had: flour, water, a container to both mix and store the dough, and a broiler pan to create steam during baking.

Now, with all the materials in place, I made the dough.

The recipe is as follows: 3 cups of warm water, 1 and a half packets yeast, 1 tbsp kosher salt, and 6 and a half cups of flour. Dissolve the yeast and salt in the water, then add the flour, mix and let sit for like 3 hours, then bake, or store in the fridge overnight. You can read more about the specifics of the recipe here at Global Gourmet.

(Note: Three hours followed by overnight is not five minutes, but I will grant you, the mixing part did not take long).

So the next day, I got up, (showered, got dressed, read the front page of the Wall Street Journal, checked my email, went to the cleaners), put my breadstone in the oven to preheat to 450 degrees, put my broiler pan in there too, so it would be ready to take the water to create steam, and then I shaped a grapefruit-sized ball of dough out of my refrigerated mixture, and placed it, with corn meal, on a pizza peel that I also got at Bed Bath and Beyond, specifically for this occasion. Then you have to let it rest for 40 minutes. Not five minutes, 40 minutes. How are people supposed to do this thing in five minutes a day if they don't work at home?

Anyway, I digress.

After the dough had rested and risen a bit again, it was time to bake. I carefully used my fancy pizza peel to place the dough on the breadstone, then added a cup of hot water to the broiler pan and tried to quickly close the oven door, as per directions, to trap the steam. Then I ran out of the house screaming as the smoke alarms in my house went on, upstairs and downstairs, due to the "steam." Nice.

Anyway, the bread was supposed to take about 30 minutes, and I should have left it in a little longer, perhaps 40 o 45, to really get a brown on the loaf. But the taste was pretty good. I think Alexander will like it a lot.

But it did NOT take 5 minutes.

Artisan Bread In Five Minute A Day on Foodista

Friday, October 30, 2009

Raspberry Apple Kugel

When I lived on the Upper West Side, it seemed that every big singles Shabbos meal had to include several items, including the cranberry kugel. It was very easy to make: a can of cranberries, a couple of apples, mixed and spread out at the bottom of a large tin pan (for easy traveling and no clean-up). then mix up some flour, brown sugar and oats and crumble that on top. (Some people also crumble in an entire stick of margarine, but Classically Kosher thinks that is completely unnecessary, adds unneeded transfats and makes the kugel taste not discernably different because the fruit is so delicious on its own. But I digress.). Then bake at 375 for maybe 35 minutes. As soon as the fruit is bubbly and everything is melted and yummy, you're done.

Today, raspberries were on sale at the Farmer's Market for $1.50 a box, so I picked up five and didn't feel guilty about baking it into a fancy Shabbos kugel. Tart and delicate, raspberries add a nice modern feeling to this tried and true Shabbos side dish. Raspberries are also positively stuffed with antioxidents and are gorgeous to look at. The taste of baked raspberries is like no other.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I am going to! Shabbat Shalom.

5 boxes fresh raspberries, washed (or two bags frozen and thawed)
2 apples, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar (if the raspberries are very tart)
1/2 cup boiling water (if the rasperries are not very juicy)

Spread the fruit at the bottom of the pan. Mix up the remaining dry ingredients and sprinkle over the raspberry mixture. Bake at 375 for half an hour and add boiling water if the raspberries do not seem to be releasing their juice. Bake an additional 15 to 30 minutes until the oatmeal is cooked and you can see the fruit bubbling through. Serve warm, if possible. It makes a big difference in the flavor.

Raspberry on Foodista

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Every once in a while, I get an insane craving for coconut cake, but my life (and waistline) doesn't have room for an entire cake, especially since coconut cake is often made with milk so it wouldn't be likely to be a Shabbos treat in my carnivorous house. So, I attempted to make a chewy coco-nutty cookie that could be shaped small, like gingersnaps, so I don't eat too many. Plus, Alexander will eat all of them anyway (as long as no one tells him coconut is a fruit!)

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance natural shortening, which is OU parve, and better for you than Crisco)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rice milk
1 teaspoon coconut (or almond) extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened dried coconut

Cream the eggs with the sugar and add the shortening. Beat until there are no lumps. Then, add the rice milk and extract. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then mix slowly into the batter. Empty dough onto plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough with a small amount of flour to approximately a quarter of an inch in thickness. Then, spread coconut over the top, pressing it only lightly into the dough, so a little bit hangs off. Using a small glass (I recommend a shot glass), cut rounds and place on a parchment-papered cookie sheet. Cook for 8 minutes, just until the coconut toasts on top. Any longer and the cookies will be more crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet until cooled. Enjoy!

Coconut on Foodista

Monday, October 26, 2009

Basil-Tarragon Israeli Cous Cous

I made this on Sukkot and am just now getting around to putting it up, but it is a good cold side dish for anytime. Yum Yum!

2 bags Israeli Cous Cous, prepared according to package directions
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup Craisins
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts
2 tbsp basil oil (or 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with 1 tsp of dried basil, or 2 tbsp of fresh chopped basil)
1/2 cup tarragon rice vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Briefly boil the carrots and broccoli, approximately 4 minutes) and place in iced water (blanch and shock). Combine the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

CKCA's going to Kosherfest!!!

I am so excited to go to Kosherfest this year, proudly representing my culinary school, the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts. If you don't know about CKCA, it's a really great school, in fact, the only kosher culinary school in America, where a lot of learning is going on. It's based in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and I really had a wonderful time taking their pro-course this past spring.

It's my personal opinion that the very existence of a kosher culinary school is an indication that kosher cuisine is improving and is going to only get better. I can tell you from getting to know my classmates that they went from being good amateur cooks to fantastic, discerning chefs and you can bet that with their energy and excitement about kosher culinary careers, they're coming to a restaurant near you!

CKCA, in case you don't know about it, runs professional culinary training courses, and also Sunday and evening recreational classes. I have done both and learned a lot about the art and science of cooking in both types of classes.

If you are at Kosherfest, please take the opportunity to stop by our booth (#445), and say hi. I will be happy to tell you more about this great place that taught me everything I know (about classic French cooking!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sneaky Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was thinking this week about how Alexander would have really liked the pumpkin chocolate chip loaf if he had just been able to get past the name. So I thought and thought and then I had it. I altered the recipe to make Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins, with, oddly enough, mostly the same ingredients. The health benefits of pumpkin are so amazing that if I can sneak a can into some muffins now and then, I think it's worth it for Alexander's future health. And these muffins are really very delicious and there is no discernible pumpkin taste. The coffee taste is very, very mild, so feel free to add more coffee if you want to crank up the flavor a bit.

Here's a little about pumpkin and its health benefits:

-Very high in carotenoids, which neutralize free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.

-High in lutein and zeaxanthin, which scavenge free radicals in the lens of the eye. Therefore, they may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.

-Pumpkins have a lot of common nutrients, like iron, zinc, and fiber. Iron, of course, is needed by red blood cells. Zinc deficiency may be related to osteoporosis of the hip and spine in older men. And fiber is important for bowel health.

Sneaky Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups pumpkin
2 tsp decaffeinated instant coffee granules
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 handful sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into muffin tins and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until dry on top, about 15 minutes. This can also be poured into a loaf tin, though it needs a longer baking time, about an additional half hour.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mastering the Muffin Method

My article on the muffin method appears today on, featuring my cousin Laurie's yummy pumpkin chocolate chip loaf recipe. It's great and makes very reliable and delicious cake, every time.

It is a good cake to bring to friends or relatives too because you can make a few at a time, a few days in advance. As long as it's covered with plastic wrap all around, it will stay fresh for at least four days, and it can also be frozen if it's wrapped properly. It's a great idea for a treat to bring to a friend who has had a baby.

You can use any kind of fruit puree really, not necessarily pumpkin. I already tried the recipe with applesauce, and it works well if you add a splash of vanilla.

You can also replace the pumpkin seasonally with other items like mashed banana and frozen thawed blueberries or raspberries. Just make sure to add some vanilla and skip some or all of the chocolate chips.

You can read the full article here.

Laurie's recipe is below:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups pumpkin
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, sugar and oil until light in color. Add, alternately, dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour until half full into large, ungreased tube pan (or 9 x 13 pan). Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until dry in center. This cake also may be baked in muffin tins, two 8”x 8” pans, or two large loaf pans or three small ones. The baking time will be shorter if you use smaller pans or muffin tins, so keep an eye on them. Recipe can be easily halved or doubled.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kosher Chicken Florentine

This pasta dish reminds me of a trip to Florence I made with my friends Mandy, Lisa and Aaron in 2004, which was yummy and fun.

Everything in Florence is made with spinach, tomatoes and garlic. It's like a law or something. Those Italians! That's why everything in America that is flavored with spinach, tomatoes and garlic is called Florentine. But I am not complaining because it is a classic flavor combination which is always refreshing and pleasant. The combination also lends itself well to kosher or vegetarian cooking because meat is not really needed in the dish. I added chicken to give heft to a weeknight meal. This is a great dish to serve on a warmish night in the Sukkah!!

3-4 chicken pieces on the bone with skins, baked until crispy
1 white or yellow onion, pureed or diced tiny
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large can tomato puree
1/2 cup water or a small can of tomato sauce
1 cup frozen spinach pieces (I use Bodek)
1/2 cup black olives, sliced (I recommend Martini's Select Natural Kalamata Olives, available at Trader Joe's for a STEAL and certified Star-K. Thanks, Lewis!!!)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp granulated garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1 dash cayenne pepper (optional)
1 box pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Shells), prepared according to package directions.

Once the chicken is baked and cooled, remove the skins and cut pieces off the bone into bite size pieces, as for chicken salad. Set aside.

In a deep saucepan, combine pureed or diced onions with the chopped garlic and olive oil and cook until lightly browned. Add tomato product(s) and herbs/spices. Cook for five minutes or so to let the flavors come together. Now, add the spinach, chicken and olives, and bring back to a simmer for at least ten minutes. Next, combine pasta with sauce and place, covered, in a warm oven, for half an hour if possible. This will help the flavors of the warm spinach and chicken marry with the pasta.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sukkot Salads, Part III

My sister created this fantastic appetizer when faced with the challenge of using up the leftovers of the biggest cabbage known to creation, which I picked up at the Teaneck Farmers Market last week, to make stuffed cabbage.

After the cabbages were stuffed, there were still the remains of a larger than normal cabbage. The cabbage was fresh and tangy and Jacq not only made something with it, she made something simple and wonderful. There wasn't any left at the end of the day!

1 fresh normal sized green cabbage, chopped lengthwise and then into bite size slaw slivers.
1 cup Craisins (OU-Pareve)
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's with Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)

Visit the following links for Sukkot Salads II and Sukkot Salads I.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage

It turns out that all rules have exceptions. And the exception to the Alexander-eats-no-green-veggies rule is that he dearly loves stuffed cabbage. Weird, I know. I made a version of the stuff that he scarfs with delight, and it delights me to see him eating a green vegetable!

The difference between Hungarian stuffed cabbage recipes and Polish/Russian ones is that the Hungarian taste tends toward the savory, while the more traditional stuffed cabbages are sweet, most often sweetened with brown sugar.

This sweet tomato flavor is, to me, too cloying. In fact, while some people love this flavor, this is one that had me for my whole life thinking I didn't like stuffed cabbage. But once I sampled the Hungarian version, I was happily surprised.

10-15 cabbage leaves, boiled until wilted
1 pound ground meat (beef, veal, turkey or even chicken)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (separated)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, minced small
1 large egg
1 cup uncooked rice, prepared according to package directions
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 beef bouillon cube or tablespoon of demi-glace

In a deep oven-ready saucepan, combine the tomato products, bouillon, 1 tablespoon paprika and let it simmer. In a separate bowl, combine the uncooked beef with the thyme, marjoram, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of paprika, minced onion, egg and cooked rice.

Using a soup spoon, fill the cabbage leaves, fold them like a burrito, and place gently, fold side down, into the tomato sauce as you finish. When all the cabbage leaves are filled and the meat is all used up, transfer the whole thing to a 350 degree oven for one hour. Serve to enthusiastic fans.

Easy weeknight tip: If you don't feel like stuffing the cabbage leaves, you can make the equally lovable "unstuffed cabbage," a specialty of my friend Randi. She just cuts bite sized pieces of the cabbage and adds them to the tomato mixture, and makes free form meatballs from the meat mixture. It's equally delicious!

Sweeten up tip: If your grandmother was from Poland and your tongue craves the sweeter version of stuffed cabbage, dissolve two tablespoons of brown packed sugar in the tomato sauce before adding anything else.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jewish Roast Turkey

It's funny that the one main dish that feeds the most people, for Shabbos, simchas, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot or Thanksgiving, takes a minimum of effort. Here's what I do:

With one 12-15 pound bird (defrosted or fresh), I apply generous shakes, top and bottom and all around, with granulated garlic, black pepper, salt and sweet Hungarian paprika (of course!)
Rub the spices into the skin, and place, breast side down, in a deep baking pan.

Cook at 325 degrees for three and a half to four and a half hours. Pierce the area under the wing and when the juices run clear it's done. You can also use a cooking thermometer to measure that the internal temperature has reached 165.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Braised Red Snapper With Lemon and Wine

The store had some beautiful red snapper for sale before Rosh Hashanah, so I took it home and braised it in wine, lemons and parsley, with just a little bit of salt and pepper. It turned out great and froze well too, because I didn't serve it until the second day of Yom Tov.

2 red snapper filets (about 2 pounds)
1 cup white wine (preferably a non-oaky Chardonnay)
2 lemons, juice only
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place the snapper filets skin side up in a wide saucepan with a lid and add the liquid and the salt and pepper. Cover and braise for 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat until the sides curl up. Garnish generously with fresh parsley and serve either immediately, or freeze and defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Heat up just before serving.

No-Fail Yummy Sugar Cookies

I had a pound of these cookies yesterday, but my niece and three nephews came for an overnight visit and I don't know what happened to them! Time to bake again since they're coming again for Simchas Torah!

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance natural shortening, O-U pareve)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
(Plus: half a cup of sugar set aside in a small bowl)

Mix the sugar and the shortening 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, shape into a square log, cover with plastic wrap and stow in the fridge for at least two or three hours, or overnight. These also freeze well.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap, slice or roll out and make shapes, and dredge on both sides in sugar. Cook 8 minutes, and take out immmediately for a softer cookie, or a little longer for a crispy cookie (Wait until the top browns a little). Cool the cookies on racks. Makes a lot (about 65 cookies), so keep half of your dough in the freezer for the next time your favorite cookie monsters visit.

Almond Horns of Plenty

Our favorite local bakery, Butterflake, went nut-free this summer, leaving my husband bereft of one of his favorite treats, the almond horn. I worked with my original sugar cookie recipe, candied some almonds and melted some chocolate chips, and came up with what Alexander referred to as "better than Butterflake." Well, I don't know, because those dudes are expert bakers and I dream often about their Cinnamon Challah, but I am happy I was able to approximate the almond horn at home.

This is a wonderful dessert that can be made several days in advance. Either the dough or the finished product can be frozen, so it is a perfect dessert for Sukkot when you get tired of perfect honey cake, and delicious with tea or coffee.

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance natural shortening, O-U pareve)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For topping: 1 cup chocolate chips, melted in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds
For candied almonds: 2 cups sliced almonds (not slivered!)
1 additional cup sugar
1 squirt almond extract

Mix the sugar and the shortening 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, shape into a log, cover with plastic wrap and stow in the fridge for at least two or three hours, or overnight. This dough also freeze very well.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap, and roll about two tablespoons worth of dough by hand into snakes about five inches long and about 5/8ths of an inch thick. Set aside.

To candy the almonds, make sure you take precautions to be careful, because melting sugar is very, very hot! In a dry saucepan, add a couple of handfuls of sliced almonds to 3/4 cup of sugar. Add a squirt of almond extract and turn the fire on to medium low, and then raise it if you need to. Mix the items constantly, it will take only a couple of minutes for the sugar to melt. Make sure each almond piece is coated with candied sugar and turn off the fire. Transfer the almonds to a plate. They will stay hot for at least ten minutes so be careful!

Now, roll your dough snakes in the almonds, and place on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Tilt the ends toward each other so it resembles a horseshoe. Bake at 400 degrees for at least ten minutes, or until lightly browned.

When the cookies have cooled, dip the ends into some melted chocolate chips, and voila, we have almond horns! You should always make more of these than you think you have to, because they seem to mysteriously disappear around my house.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Healthier, High Fiber Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't dream of a healthy chocolate chip cookie? Well, I do. Here, I am making an effort to incorporate whole grains and healthier oils into a super-basic, super-simple cookie recipe, without compromising anything on taste. Here's my Classically Kosher promise: if these cookies aren't of the best you've ever had, I will eat them for you! Just bring them over! Or send them in the mail!

1 cup Earth Balance shortening (O-U Pareve)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled or steel cut oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and both types of sugar. Make sure there are no shortening lumps. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended, do not beat. Once combined, add the oats, and chocolate chips. Roll into one tbsp (or smaller) balls and place at least one inch apart on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes until crisp and brown, and let them sit for at least five minutes before removing from the pan, to allow them to solidify. Makes 20 scrumptious cookies.

Jewish Roast Chicken

1 whole fryer chicken
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 bulb garlic cut in half crosswise
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 lemon, sliced in quarters

Combine the spices. Wash and dry the chicken, stuff the lemon quarters and garlic bulb in the cavity, and rub, top and bottom, with the spice blend. Bake for one hour uncovered, at 425 degrees. Check the color and bake for an additional half hour if needed. Pierce with a fork in the thigh and when the juice runs clear, it's done. For best results, serve immediately or keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

French Country Chicken

For an alternative to schnitzel or classic roast chicken (recipes coming soon) on Rosh Hashanah, this recipe guarantees moist chicken even on the second day of a two-day yom tov. I have made it for years, but I think the recipe was originally given to me by my friends Anna and Josh, big DC gourmands and experts in all things fleishig. This is definitely going on my Rosh Hashanah table this year!

1 whole chicken fryer, cut in 8ths.
1 entire head garlic, peeled (16 cloves approx.)
1 bottle dry white wine (I recommend California Chardonnay or , but not too oakey, and not too expensive. Try Baron Herzog, Chardonnay 2007
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 lemons, cut in eighths.
1 tsp herbes de provence spice blend (optional)
salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange raw chicken in a deep baking pan. Salt and pepper chicken generously. Distribute garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, sliced lemons and herbes de provence evenly among the chicken pieces, and bathe in white wine. Cook covered at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove covering and bake uncovered for an additional 1 hour. Can be easily refrigerated, in the wine sauce, and reheated again and again. The flavor just gets better, and the chicken only more moist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kosher Beef Bourguignon (a.k.a. Rosh Hashanah Brisket!)

Someone said to me recently that I should think about kosher-izing Julia Child's famous beef bourguignon recipe, which has bacon in it. But when I looked on the Internet for the recipe, I realized that beef bourguignon really includes most of the flavors of what us Yids know simply as brisket. It's perhaps not on the Shabbat table every Friday night, beef costs being what they are these days, but it's certainly something that graces the table on special occasions, like Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

So here's a way to fancy up your brisket recipe this year. I like add some layers of flavor to meals on the Chagim anyway, to make the holiday more special. A few simple additions to a basic brisket recipe can really dress it up and add that Julia Child-esque flair. I suggest adding red wine and fresh thyme to your regular brisket recipe, which you can certainly leave out if you want that traditional brisket taste. I also did not include tomato paste when I cooked mine, but it is certainly a welcome staple that adds a lot of traditional flavor.

Also, another major difference between brisket and beef bourguignon is that beef bourguignon is usually identified by the beef cut, which is in stew-like chunks. And of course brisket wouldn't be brisket if it weren't sliced very thinly, and as always, against the grain.

1 top of the rib beef brisket (1/2 pound uncooked per adult)
5 shallots or 2 large onions (chopped)
3 parsnips (roughly chopped)
3 carrots (roughly chopped)
3 cloves garlic
2 cups beef stock or beef broth (low sodium preferred)
2 cups red wine (burgundy or a similar deep ruby red wine: I used a Teal Lake Petit Verdot/Cab mixture, because of the price point and because I personally don't use it as a drinking wine, but think it's great for cooking).
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 oz. can of tomato paste (or tomato sauce, or chopped tomatoes)
1 cup frozen or canned pearl onions
1 box baby bella or sliced portobello mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

Saute your onions or shallots in a large deep pot with garlic. Add your meat and brown it on both sides, until there is a crust but not burned. Remove the beef and let it sit while you add your chopped parsnips, carrots and let them infuse some flavor and color. Then add back your meat, and add your beef stock, wine, thyme, bay leaf and tomato product. Simmer on the stove, covered for one hour. Transfer the pot to the oven (at 300 degrees for a least two hours). Make sure it's tightly covered. About half an hour before it's done, take the meat out and slice it and add it back to the gravy. Add your mushrooms and pearl onions and return the whole thing to the oven for at least a half hour.

Bon Appetit!

P.S. The longer brisket sits on a hot plate, the softer and more moist it becomes. That's why it's a perfect dish for a holiday meal!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perfect Honey Cake

An article I wrote about the precise art and science of honey cake came out today (click here to read it), but here is the recipe, with my original notes.

Honey cake is a traditional dessert served around the high holidays, to encourage a Shanah Tovah, a sweet new year.

This is my mom's easy recipe, altered extensively from The Taste of Shabbos, originally published by Feldheim in 1987.

Among other tweaks, what my mom stressed in changing the recipe is to add the ingredients in the correct order, and above all, don't overmix the batter. Just combine the ingredients until there are no lumps of flour. Otherwise you run the risk of the cake becoming tough. There are two leavening agents already in this recipe (baking powder and baking soda), so there is no need to develop the gluten in the flour.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 cup strong brewed decaf or regular coffee
½ cup golden raisins (coated first in flour) (optional)

Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs in mixing bowl. Combine slowly with sugar, oil and then honey. Add coffee alternating with your dry ingredients, taking care to mix only until the dry ingredients are combined. Sprinkle in the flour covered raisins at the end, by hand.

The mixture can be poured into one 9 by 12 cake pan, or two loaf pans, or in mini-loaf or cupcake pans. Fill the pans halfway or a little more. Bake at 375 degrees. The baking time can be anywhere from 15 to 35 or 40 minutes, depending on the depth of your pan. Test for doneness by piercing with a toothpick; If the toothpick comes away clean, the cake is done. If you don't have a toothpick, just wait until the middle of the cake doesn't jiggle when you move the oven rack. The recipe doubles well and freezes well.

Honey on Foodista

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Savory Tea Biscuits

These biscuits were an overall winner, and incredibly easy to make. Plus, they're adorable!

Alexander and I split them in half and filled them with smoked salmon and sliced onions.

2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tablespoons shortening (I use Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp table salt
3/4 cup water or milk
1/4 tsp dried rosemary or thyme (optional)
kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine dry ingredients. Mix in shortening with a fork. When that is fully combined (no lumps), add the liquid. Mix until it just comes together.

Turn the dough out and roll out and shape into 1/2 inch rounds (a shot glass works great for this). Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sukkot Salads, Part II

(click on the photo for a larger image)

Amazing seasonal salad made today, with yellow grape tomatoes, arugula, butter lettuce, red leaf lettuce, cranberries and chickpeas. Toast some pine nuts to put on top!

The dressing was as follows:

3 tbsp basil oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp olive oil (to make 3 parts oil to one part vinegar)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced (I buzzed the shallot and garlic bulbs together in the food processor for a few seconds)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

For more Sukkot Salads, click here for Sukkot Salads III, or here for Sukkot Salads I.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Article in this Weekend's Hamodia

Not only am I a reader and subscriber of Hamodia, the newspaper of Torah Jewry, I finally was published in it. I am so proud to be associated with this fine publication.

Reprinted in full below:

From Page A20, Hamodia Weekend Edition, August 25, 2009

Building Kosher Professional Careers, One Chef at a Time

Brooklyn, NY – The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, which has offered a Professional Training Program in Culinary Arts for the past year, is expanding. In addition to the classic Professional Culinary Arts curriculum, CKCA will also offer a new professional training program in Baking and Pastry Arts, starting right after the high holidays.

Based in Flatbush, above a cookware store owned by Lubavitcher Jews, CKCA initially offered only recreational cooking, cake decorating and garnishing classes. However, many people who attended the classes requested more professional training, so they could learn classic techniques and apply them in kosher environments. Until CKCA was established, the only way a kosher-keeping student could study the culinary arts in the United States was to attend a non-kosher program and rely on classmates to taste the food.

Over the past year, CKCA, still the only kosher professional culinary arts program in the USA, has graduated several dozen individuals from numerous states and abroad. All who have desired internships have been placed, and many have been placed in jobs as well. Several grads are opening their own food-related businesses, and some are working as personal chefs. It is expected that the new bakers, who will graduate around Chanukah, will readily find work as well.

“It’s exciting because, as culinary education opportunities become available in the Jewish world, kosher restaurant quality is sure to improve,” said Liz K., a graduate of the CKCA Pro Program from Bergenfield, N.J.

The new Professional Baking and Pastry Arts Program will be comprised of 150 hours of training and include kitchen and classroom components. The curriculum will include a full orientation to the professional bakeshop, including the principles and science of baking, ingredients, and weights and measures. Students will learn to make breads including quick breads, yeast breads and artisan breads. They will learn the fine art of making pastries, pies and tarts, cake baking and decoration, as well as cookies. Additionally, they will master making meringues, custards, souffles, and mousses, work with dessert sauces and fruit desserts. And, of course, there will be considerable attention paid to chocolate! As in the Professional Culinary Arts Program, there will be kashrut and food safety and sanitation lectures as well as preparation for NYC Dept of Health and ServSafe certifications. Class size is limited to allow maximum individual attention.

The Head Instructor for the Pro Baking Program will be Chef Mark Hellerman. For more information, visit, or call Jesse Blonder, CKCA Director, at 718.758.1339.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When God Gives You Basil...

Make homemade basil oil!

I found a huge bunch of basil yesterday at the incomparable new Paramus Fairway Market and I remembered that Chef Avram Wiseman told me that if you buy basil in season and preserve it in a jar with extra virgin olive oil, it will deliver summer-licious taste throughout the winter. The oil's herb-infused goodness is hard to beat.

Take a clean jar and fill completely with washed and dried basil leaves. Make sure to get all the sand off the leaves. Don't be afraid to force the leaves down in there as space gets tight. Then, fill to the top with your extra virgin olive oil, cover and place in the fridge.

By the next day, the oil will smell and taste great and will be a beautiful way to add flavor to your pasta, vegetable and bread recipes. I used basil oil in my foccacia bread in culinary school, and it was amazingly good! You can use basil oil anywhere you would use extra virgin olive oil, to give sauteed veggies an extra layer of flavor, or in salad dressings, for example.

The oil will eventually solidify, but this doesn't mean it's gone off. Just take it out a half hour before you need to use it and it will return to the gorgeous green globs you want. You can use both the oil and the basil leaves in any kind of recipe. The color of the basil leaves will remain vibrantly green as long as they're covered with oil. Buon Appetito!

Basil on Foodista

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Best Pareve Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

My friend Lea just had a beautiful baby girl, and I am bringing over a couple of meals for her tomorrow. The challenge, however, is that she can't eat gluten, so I had to come up with something yummy, classic and comforting for her to enjoy for dessert. I didn't want to just cut up some fresh fruit and be done with it, and I really hope she can take some time to enjoy a meal made just for her. It turns out that everyone in the house will like these cookies, because you simply don't miss the flour.

I tried out a recipe I found from the Bob's Red Mill website; the Bob's Red Mill flours all have an underlined K, which after a little research, indicated that it is an excellent hechsher. All of Bob's Red Mill products are under the supervision of Rabbi Avrohom Teichman of Igud Hakashrus/Kehilla Kosher of Los Angeles, CA. Kehilla Kashrus is also known by a K inside a heart symbol.

I altered the recipe, originally by Carol Fenster, to make it non-dairy, without butter, and without sea salt. I also found I needed to alter the cooking time so the cookies weren't raw inside.

1-2/3 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum (often available in organic sections of grocery stores)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Smart Balance margarine
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 jumbo egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Stir together the gluten-free baking flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt; set aside.

In your mixer, beat margarine (room temperature, not melted) with the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and egg. Beat in flour mixture on low speed, mixing thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips. It gets very glue-ey.

Empty the bowl onto plastic wrap, wrap up and refrigerate for two or more hours. Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees on a greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet 15-17 minutes or until browned. Cool 2-3 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 24 deliciously gluten-free cookies.

Pareve Snickerdoodles!

(Click on the image for a larger picture).

These are perfect for dessert or snacks anytime!

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening (I use Earth Balance natural shortening, which is OU parve, and better for you than Crisco)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water or rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping: Cinnamon-sugar mixture (usually about 2/3 cup sugar to 3 tbsp cinnamon). You can also use pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg to replace some of the cinnamon if you like, but go easier, because those spices are much stronger than cinnamon.

Mix the sugar and the shortening 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, shape into a log, cover with plastic wrap and stow in the fridge for at least two or three hours, or overnight. These also freeze well.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap, slice or roll out and make shapes, and dredge on both sides in cinnamon sugar. Cook 8 minutes, and take out immmediately for a softer cookie, or a little longer for a crispy cookie. Cool the cookies on racks. Makes a lot (about 65 cookies). Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Melava Malka Salmon Shallot Frittata

A delicious frittata, a version of the lox egg and onion omelette, to extend the joy of Shabbos just a little longer.

2 shallots, minced small
6-8 oz. baked salmon or smoked salmon pieces, chopped
6 eggs
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Chopped fresh chives

Saute your chopped shallots until dark brown and crunchy, and heavily pepper and salt them. Beat the eggs with a little milk or water, and add them to the onion mixture. Give them a few seconds to set, then add your chopped salmon. Give it a gentle stir to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Cook until the bottom is moveable and place in the broiler for a few minutes to solidify the top. Turn upside down onto a plate and serve with chopped chives.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sukkot Salads, Part I

click on the image for a large view.
As the summer wanes and school goes back into session, my mind turns not to freshly-sharpened pencils... but to my favorite salad recipes for Sukkot. Sukkot is pretty much my favorite Jewish holiday of the year, because I love to eat outside and to celebrate the bountiful harvest, in all its forms.

Today, I tested out a sophisticated bistro salad recipe (a version of which I saw on the Food Network this past weekend) that I think my salad-eater fans out there will love. Those who do not eat vegetables (in my family, and others) will not find this salad to their liking. But hey, I promise I will give you my crazily good cauliflower mac and cheese recipe real soon.

The vinagrette recipe here is what's important. The veggies are interchangeable. Basically, I used what was in the fridge after the weekend.

Liz's simply fresh vinagrette:

1 tbsp dijon mustand
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Whisk together. To this I added three cups of fresh spinach leaves, two chopped avocados, a handful of rough chopped grape tomatoes, and one rough chopped red bell pepper.

Garnish and enjoy! Bon Appetit!

For more Sukkot Salads, click here for Sukkot Salads III, or here for Sukkot Salads II.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kosher Baking and Pastry Professional Program

My culinary school, Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, is offering a new 150-hour course, the first in the United States, a professional program focusing on kosher baking and pastry. You can learn more about it at

It's really exciting because the class is going to start graduating incredibly talented bakers, and they are going to apply their skills in kosher restaurants all over the country. I even bet that kosher bakeries will start being able to sell higher quality classic French pastry. As more kosher bakers get educated, I think the quality in the entire marketplace will go through the roof!

The master chef instructor is Mark Hellermann, who has worked as a pastry chef for Balducci’s and as executive chef for Tastings Restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. He has also produced his own line of baked goods for the NY City farmers market. Chef Hellermann especially likes working with chocolate and artisan breads. He has taught culinary and pastry classes at the New York Restaurant School for many years and has recently joined CKCA to teach the professional training program in baking & pastry arts. Tell your friends!