Friday, December 27, 2013

Kosher Thai Curry Paste

It turns out that Thai curry paste traditionally contains shrimp paste, so it's pretty much a no-go for us Yids. I looked but have not yet located any certified versions, and I have a pretty wide array of kosher products available to me at the many kosher stores here in Teaneck. The following is my own version, and it's spicy and mouthwateringly savory. It calls to mind all the Thai flavors (except basil, that goes in later as cooking finishes), and works well as a marinade, as a curry starter or as a sauce. A mortar and pestle or a spice grinder is ideal for mashing all the ingredients together, but that takes elbow grease; the small bowl attachment of a food processor works well also.


1/3 cup shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled, small dice
3/4 tsp dried ground tumeric (or fresh, if you can find it!)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 inch piece of lemongrass stalk, small dice
1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried chili flakes (I used one small dried red chili)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground bay leaves or 2 kefir lime leaves (optional -- one can also place a bay leave in the curry itself when cooking)
1-2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
2-4 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)

Combine dry ingredients and mash. Add liquids sparingly and process until smooth. Use as a marinade or in recipes. Thai chicken curry recipe to follow.

Friday, December 6, 2013

An Urgent Request To Bring Shabbos in Ten Minutes Early Today

We don't usually write messages like this, but we want to share a personal story with you, and ask you to help us. 

Our close friend, a young mother of three children aged 3 and younger, is waiting at home for her husband, who has been in the hospital at Columbia Presbyterian since just before Rosh Hashanah. The youngest child, an infant, has essentially never been held by his father.  

A strong, energetic young man, a man of business who has given back to this community generously, Ted (Raphael Avraham ben Edis Itka) fell ill almost exactly a year ago and has been in and out of consciousness since then. He has been unable to play with or hold his children. His condition continues to plateau and worsen even as everyone he and his family knows are praying for his refuah shleima.  

Our friend, this morning, on the shortest Friday of the year, started by asking 20 friends if they would bring in Shabbos today ten minutes early, to either learn or spend time with their children in the zechus of Ted's refuah shleima. Her friends, in turn, wish for all the community to do this on behalf of this family that is so dear to us. 

Any extra time that you can spend doing this today would be valued and appreciated. We hope that this will be a way for us to bargain with Hashem to bring Ted back to his wife and children, and to us. 

If you can do any extra tehillim or learning this Shabbos, and are able to do it in the zechus of Raphael Avraham ben Edis Itka, it would be greatly, greatly appreciated. We pray that Hashem will hear this great cry and bring Ted back to us all. 

Please forward or share if you can. Good Shabbos, and thank you,

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Easy Egg-Free Pancakes

Most egg-free pancake recipes don't really have nutritional content, so I am happy to have made this for my daughters (one of whom is allergic to eggs). It contains milk, oat bran, and whole wheat pastry flour, so it packs a nutritional punch even though it tastes just like regular pancakes. I hope you enjoy them as much as my girls do.


1 and 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose flour -- don't substitute regular whole wheat flour)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oat bran

light butter (salted)
canola spray


Combine all ingredients and mix only until combined. Heat a non-stick pan or griddle with canola spray and a generous pat of light butter, to a medium-high heat. When the butter bubbles, drop 2 or 3 tbsp-sized dollops of batter and wait until the sided start to bubble, indicating readiness to flip. Cook briefly on the other side and remove from heat. They cook very quickly. Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey brown sugar and/or fruit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dairy Mexican Lasagne With Spinach, Corn and Black Beans

I love this easy, spicy casserole. It has Mexican flavors with the comfort food feel of Italian lasagne. I can make a pan or two at a time, and either freeze one, to have a fabulous dinner on hand for another week, or to deliver to a friend.


1 and 1/2 boxes lasagne noodles (I use and recommend the lower carb Dreamfield's brand)
2 cups reduced fat or low fat cheese, shredded

For spinach filling:

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed or 4 cups fresh
2 cups ricotta cheese, part skim
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed
1 cup whole kernel sweet corn

For Sauce layer:

1 large onion, diced
2 large cans (15.5 oz.) tomato sauce
2 large cans (15.5 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 bottle salsa or enchilada sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste


Combine spinach ingredients and mix well. For sauce layer, carmelize the onion and then add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for 15 minutes to one hour. Cook lasagne noodles to package directions.

Line two lasagne pans or baking dishes with parchment paper. Spoon sauce to the bottom of both pans and layer with noodles, followed by the spinach filling, then a thin layer of cheese. Cover with lasagne noodles, then sauce, then spinach, and repeat until lasagne is on top followed by sauce, then cheese.

Bake at 350 for one hour until bubbling. The casserole freezes well but takes a long time to thaw.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Nine Days Recipe: Chilled Lentil Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

I've been making versions of this bright, vibrant salad all summer, but it's finally perfect, in my opinion. Lentils are a filling, inexpensive protein, and they hold up to strong flavors like the ones in this kicky vinaigrette. I recommend using whole green lentils for this recipe, not split lentils which are often used for winter soups. Whole lentils, also known as French lentils, cook up very well to an al dente texture, and are just delicious in this crunchy, refreshing main course salad or side for grilled fish

Friday, April 26, 2013

Egg-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Egg-free and dairy-free; that means vegan too! Enjoy!


1/2 cup margarine (I recommend Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups flour (I recommend Bob's Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup quick oats
Up to 3 tbsp warm water
1 cup chocolate chips


In a mixer, cream margarine with sugars and vanilla extract. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt and mix well with a fork. Combine flour mixture with the sugar mixture and add the oil and oats. If the dough remains grainy or dry, add one tbsp warm water at a time with the mixer running, until the dough comes together. Add chocolate chips and mix briefly. Roll 1 tbsp balls of dough and place onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Press down lightly on the dough to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. For a chewy cookie, remove from the oven when the centers are still soft. This recipe should yield 24-28 cookies.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Best Hamantaschen Recipe Bar None

My mom's recipe for hamantaschen, developed in California and then adapted by five daughters and daughters-in-law, is the best recipe any of us have ever used or eaten. It’s soft-baked, it’s incredible and best of all, it's impossible to mess up. This is one of those recipes that’s endlessly adaptable and utterly reliable. For example, some of us add a teaspoon of cinnamon for a spicy kick, and another replaces half the liquid with lemon juice for a subtly tart burst.  We've added extra eggs by accident to no ill effect ,and made the cookies successfully in varying climates and elevations. To make this recipe even more legendary, my cousin Jennifer Gage reports that last year she was able to make the hamantaschen successfully and deliciously on top of a wood stove in the middle of a blackout/blizzard. No one who has ever used my mom's recipe has ever not passed it on to others, to our knowledge. We invite you to enjoy it and share it; My mom Ruth Book is famous for her hamantaschen, and now you will be too!

And don't just take my word for it! The recipe this year won the Jerusalem Post's hamantaschen recipe contest. The recipe was made by Zohar Friedman, the social media editor, with lemon zest and raspberry filling, and enjoyed in the Jpost's offices on Purim day 2013! Please note that no one in my family was remotely surprised by this win. 

This recipe yields approximately 40 cookies. 


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons milk, rice milk or water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup of your favorite filling


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cream together margarine and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture with the mixer on low, alternating with water or rice milk.

5. Chill the dough for 1 hour to overnight (this step can be skipped if you're in a rush, cold dough is just easier to handle), then roll out with flour sprinkled below and above the dough, to 1/4 inch thickness, and using a water glass or round cookie cutter, cut into 2-inch rounds.

6. Fill each round with 1 heaping teaspoon of your favorite filling, and draw up sides for triangle.

7. Seal edges with cold water.

8. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes. Reduce your oven temperature if the dough begins to burn on the bottom. It is very common that ovens run hot, especially if you are baking in batches and the oven has been on for multiple hours. I use an internal oven thermometer for this reason.  

9. To keep hamantaschen soft, store in airtight containers.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Focaccia Challah with Olive Oil, Garlic and Rosemary

This challah, originally a fabulous focaccia bread recipe from Lynn Kutner of my own Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, has been altered to make a airy, savory challah**, perfect to wow guests at Friday night dinner. And I mean, you will really wow them! The challah is best the same day it's baked, so cover it tightly to use even the following day.

The health benefits of using this recipe over other egg challah or even water challah recipes is quite clear. With only teaspoons of sugar as opposed to cups, and with no eggs and with olive oil instead of vegetable oil, this is a truly delicious, even heart-healthy alternative to a high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-sugar content challah. And the best part is you won't miss a thing. 


4 packages dry yeast
4 and 1/2 cups cool water
4 tsp sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp dried rosemary
12 cups unbleached bread flour

2 tbsp coarse kosher salt


3 teaspoons additional chopped dried rosemary1 tsp dried granulated or minced garlic
additional coarse kosher salt for sprinkling

additional olive oil for brushing
olive oil or (other nonstick oil) spray


Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix in sugar. Let mixture stand for five minutes. Then, add olive oil and rosemary (or substitute your favorite herb). In another bowl, combine flour with salt, and mix with a fork. Either by hand or using the bread dough attachment on a stand mixer, slowly add two cups of the flour mixture at a time to the liquid mixture until all is combined and a dough forms. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Turn out dough into a large oiled bowl or container and cover lightly. Allow to rise for 2 hours. In cold temperatures, allow more time for the rise or do the rise in a lukewarm oven (heat oven to 170 degrees, turn off the oven, and then put the dough in, making sure your bowl or container is oven-safe). 

Once the dough has risen, separate dough roughly into sprayed pans and press lightly to make nooks and crannies. Brush olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt, rosemary and garlic. Allow dough to rise an additional half hour. 

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Challah is done when nicely browned on top.  

This recipe yields 4 large challahs with 12 cupcake tin sized rolls (or any other combination). The recipe can be easily halved. 

**If you say a bracha over at least 2 lbs 10 oz. of flour (acceptable according to ArtScroll), then this recipe qualifies for a bracha.