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Kosher Connection Round-Up: Two Ultimate Thanksgivukkah Latke Sandwiches

17 Nov
Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

Traditions.  I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately.  My husband and I don’t really have a lot of traditions.  We’ve been together for five years and married for three and I feel strongly that that’s long enough to have some actual traditions but we just don’t have any.  I would assume that part of the reason for this is because in the 5 years we have been together and 3 years of marriage, we’ve lived in a number of cities (Jerusalem, Ann Arbor, and Miami).  We haven’t actually been anywhere long enough to set up shop and cultivate some serious traditions.  I often read or hear about families who have long-standing traditions of this or that and it sounds really, really nice.  I’d like to get me some of those traditions, if you please?

Kids: The eat for 2 minutes and play for 2 hours.

Kids: The eat for 2 minutes and play for 2 hours.

One tradition we won't drop: Mommy and Siona photo shoot on Thanksgiving (this was last year's).

One tradition we won’t drop: Mommy and Siona photo shoot on Thanksgiving (this was last year’s).

Six adults and one child ate all that delicious, homemade grub.

Six adults and one child ate all that delicious, homemade grub.

The closest thing my husband and I have come to an actual tradition is hosting Thanksgiving.  We have hosted every Thanksgiving we’ve had since moving to Miami in December of 2010; all two of them.  Each year we’ve had our dear friends (and fellow food-lovers), Adam and Francine (check out her yummy food blog here) and their son, Matan come for dinner and this year is no exception.  I have such amazingly fond memories of our Miami Thanksgivings that now, with this impending LA move on the horizon, I feel that what was to become a tradition will be bittersweet this year.  Our Miami Thanksgiving is precious.  It’s ballsy to say, but no grandparents are allowed.  It’s just my our urban family and, now that my husband’s brother and his family have moved here, siblings.  But that’s it.  We drink beers, we eat A LOT and let the kids run wild.  I have no doubts that this year will not disappoint.

Composing the Masterpiece

Composing the Masterpiece

Who needs bread?

Who needs bread?

Well folks, I think it’s safe to say that the “Thanksgivukkah” horse is dead.  It is so very, very dead.  But just in case it isn’t quite dead yet, I went ahead and accepted my own challenge of creating the ultimate Thanksgivukkah sandwich.  Actually, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I made TWO Thanksgivukkah sandwiches; one to be created using all those glorious leftovers from your Thanksgiving dinner and the other as a beautiful dessert/breakfast/side dish.  I had posted the question on the Jewhungry Facebook page of whether or not a sandwich with latkes as the ‘bun’ was too much but, come on, if you like Jewhungry on Facebook chances are, you are all in favor of a sandwich that has latkes for a bun (and chances are, we would get along swimmingly).

For the sake of my own sanity, I did not roast an entire turkey from scratch nor did I make a batch of my mom’s stuffing recipe.  Instead, I used turkey tenderloin and organic, kosher instant stuffing.  The savory sandwich was, in a word, ridconulous.  It tasted so so good.  And because I started making them at 7am on Sunday morning, my husband, baby daughter and I ate them for brunch at 11am.  This was a true labor of love.  This month’s Kosher Connection round-up theme was “Thanksgivukkah” and well, what better way to mash-up your Thanksgiving turkey and your Chanukkah latke than an actual mash-up . . . on your plate and in your belly.  Enjoy!

Just in case you need help breaking it down.

Just in case you need help breaking it down.

I think cranberry aioli is really really pretty.

I think cranberry aioli is really really pretty.

Savory Sweet + Russet Potato Thanksgivukkah Sandwich

Ingredients:

Tradition latke recipe found here
Turkey tenderloins
3 Tbsp olive oil
Rubbed sage
Garlic powder
Thyme
Pepper
Stuffing – either homemade or instant will work (you decide)
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp Canned jellied cranberry sauce w/whole cranberry chunks
1/2  lemon, juiced
Green leaf lettuce
Gravy (for the sake of my sanity and this recipe, I used instant vegetarian gravy)

How?

(I’m assuming you already having stuffing ready for sandwich-making.  This recipe does not include a stuffing recipe but there are PLENTY out there so feel free to Google).

Before you start with the latkes, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.  Wash and dry your turkey tenderloins. Lay side-by-side on the tin foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the tenderloins with olive oil and the dry spices listed above.  Using a basting brush, brush the olive oil and spices so that they are evenly dispersed on the turkey.  Put in oven and roast for 25 – 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  Once finished, set aside.

Find the method for the traditional savory latke recipe here.

Once you have completed making all your latkes, set to the side an start mixing your cranberry aioli.  Combine mayonnaise, cranberry jelly and lemon juice into a bowl and whisk until well combined.  Add more cranberry or mayo for your liking.

For assembly:  My husband and I are big believers in the even-spread and the importance of the art of layering a sandwich (have i mentioned that we are of nerd-like quality?).  Therefore, I recommend the following for composing your latke sandwich:

Latke Side One:  Cranberry aioli and stuffing
Latke Side Two:  Small leaf of lettuce, turkey, gravy

Lay side one onto side two and go. To. Town.

And just in case you have room for dessert . . .

And just in case you have room for dessert . . .

Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Apple Latke Sandwich with Chocolate Gelt and Coconut Milk Whipped Cream {Latke recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen}

Ingredients:

Find coconut milk whipped cream ingredients and method here.

(Makes 8 – 10 latkes)

3 Medium sweet potatoes
2 large, tart, and firm apples such as Granny Smiths
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
Sunflower oil
Dark chocolate gelt

How:

First, set up a large bowl of ice water in the sink.  You will pour the shredded sweet potatoes and apples in the ice bath immediately after shredding.

Peel and core apples and sweet potatoes.  Using the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor, shred the apples and sweet potatoes (they can be done in the same bowl). Transfer to the ice bath so as to prevent browning.  Let soak for a few minutes while you clean out your food processor.  Next, transfer to a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth sling and wring out as much juice as you can.

Transfer grated sweet potato and apple mixture to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder and toss with the sweet potatoes and apples, coating them evenly. Whisk eggs in this small dish until lightly beaten and stir into sweet potato-apple-lemon-flour mixture.

Add sunflower oil to a large frying pan that reaches a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. Scoop mixture out with large kitchen spoon (usually I loose the spoon after a while and just get in there with my hands). Squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid. (If you squeezed the potatoes out thoroughly in the cloth, you may not have much excess liquid to squeeze out).  Shape the sweet potato/apple mixture into a tightly compacted disk.

Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the “feel” for it.

The oil should sizzle, but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.

Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 2 tablespoons of mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that – don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Remove the latkes from the frying pan and let oil soak on paper towel.

For Assembly of Sandwich:

Place a chocolate gelt coin on each latke.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and either eat separately or place one on top of the other and, I don’t mean to be redundant, go. To. Town.

Why eat them separately?

Why eat them separately?

Wait for it . . .

Wait for it . . .

When you can make it a sandwich?

When you can make it a sandwich?

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

27 Oct

image (1)

I am so tired. Oy. Vey. It has been a week. I think it’s been like two weeks in one, no? You ever have that feeling? I don’t even really have the energy to write anything witty. I am, however, so excited about this recipe so I’ll spare you the usual exceptionally long post and share a few short things:

1. My first blog post for The Huffington Post was published on Friday. I am very proud of the work it took to get there, much less the post itself, and the amazing feedback I’ve gotten from friends and strangers. Thank you to all who posted it on various social media outlets and most especially, to those who actually read it! I am so grateful. Find the post here.

2. Buzzfeed stole my picture! So there I was coming back online from a restful (slept 10 hours Friday night and took two naps on Shabbat. HOLLER!) and quiet Shabbat when I notice that I’ve got 20 text messages waiting for me. And then I notice that I have an exceptional amount of notifications on Facebook too. Well, turns out Buzzfeed posted a hilarious round up of 50 Things Only 90s Girls Would Understand and they used a picture of me from my high school days (circa 1996) I had posted on a blog post I wrote way back in March. Yep. Just me and Drew Barrymore and all our choker-wearing glory. My friend, Ali, thinks I “won the Internet”. Well, if winning the Internet means having your non-professionally edited and enhanced Sophomore (?) yearbook picture splashed right next to an uber-vamped Drew Barrymore, well, I’d like to ‘lose’ the Internet next time. please. Oh, and to top it off, they dubbed me “WordPress”. No name. No permission asked for usage. Just a picture of me from almost 20 years ago with “WordPress” on it. Awesome.

3. Decisions have been made. The next step is upon us. More to come.

In the meantime, I had this recipe in my head for quite a while but knew it needed something. And then my girl, Samantha, from The Little Ferraro Kitchen posted her delicious sweet potato pie with coconut milk whipped cream and I thought, “That’s it!” Since we are exactly one month away from Thanksgiving and my kosher-eating self will need a parve (a.k.a vegan) dessert on hand (plus a grain-free dessert for my grain-free family members who I hope will be visiting us again for Thanksgiving this year), I wanted to adapt my versatile grain-free brownie recipe into a fresh and delicious pie. The recipe turned out to be so delicious and so easy. It has a little bit of sugar in it but other than that, it’s a pretty healthy dessert. I let my 14 month-old go nuts on some of the ‘crust’ mixture with minimal guilt and that’s saying something!

If you do decide to try this recipe, and I hope you do, the trick with the whipped cream is to chill EVERYTHING before whipping. EVERYTHING. Take that can of coconut milk and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Grab your mixing bowl and your mixing attachments and put them in the refrigerator as well. It will be the difference between actual whipped cream and frothy coconut milk. There are further instructions where the recipe is listed so make sure you read through before starting.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie 'crusts'.

I used regular-sized muffin tins + parchment paper to make pie ‘crusts’.

Tiny pie crust - No grain, all glory.

Tiny pie crust – No grain, all glory.

Bring on the color.

Bring on the color.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

Add a dollop of coconut milk whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

It would be delicious even without whipped cream.

One last look at the yumminess.

One last look at the yumminess.

Mini Pie of Deliciousness

Mini Vegan Chocolate Chip Berry Pies + Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

Ingredients for Crust:

Adapted from my own recipe for Raw Brownie Bites (Make sure to omit the oats for a grain-free version. Keep them if you don’t mind a grain or two).

  • 2 Cups of dates, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oats (I used gluten free)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp milled flaxseed
  • 3 Heaping TBSP of vegan cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp organic maple syrup (depending upon your taste—start with 1 and if you make it again, up to 2 if it wasn’t sweet enough for you)

**Extra cocoa for rolling the bites in afterwards if want an extra chocolate punch.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (Recipe straight from my girl, Samantha, at The Little Ferraro Kitchen)

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Mixed Berry Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup Strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Blackberries, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Raspberries, chopped
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 Tbsp Demerara Sugar

Crust How-To:

I used regular-sized muffin tins to shape the crusts but a ramekin will work just as well.

Cut pieces of parchment paper into squares about 8 in. by 8 in. or large enough that when placed into the muffin tins there is an excess of paper sticking out.

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until well combined—to about the count of 30 or until the ingredients have a dough-like consistency. If you feel like it’s a bit dry due to too many walnuts or oats, just add a bit of water, about 1 tbsp at a time, until you get that doughy consistency. Once you’ve attained your desired consistency, scoop out enough ‘dough’ to form a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Gently press the dough ball into the parchment paper-lined muffin tin and shape to the entirety of the tin so that a ‘crust’ forms. Your crust should be thick enough to hold the filling but thin enough so that it doesn’t take over the pie flavor. Do this until you run out of ‘dough’. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 30 minutes.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream:

If you haven’t already, open the coconut milk can and pour out the water in a separate bowl (Save it and use for smoothies, soups, etc). If you’ve been chilling your coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours in prep for this recipe, the watery part of the coconut milk will be at the bottom of the can so pour slowly and make sure to omit the watery part at the end.

Pour the thicker coconut milk in your chilled mixer and begin to whip starting on low and gradually moving to medium-high setting. As soon as it begins to thicken, add powdered sugar and continue to beat. Check every so often for desired consistency.

Fruit Filling:

Place all your chopped fruit into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar and mix until well combined.

Assembly:

Once your crusts have refrigerated, scoop fruit filling into each pie; enough so that the is a ‘mound’ of fruit filling. Top with a dollop or two (or three) of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Miami and Her Flavors – Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Couscous”

16 Jun

We moved to Miami in December of 2010. I graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work on a Sunday and we started our drive to Florida from Ann Arbor on the very next day. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d live in Miami or really any part of Florida. But I fell in love with a Marine Biologist and we had an agreement—16 months in Ann Arbor for my higher education degree and then I’d move anywhere he needed for his higher education degree. I mean granted, I made this agreement knowing that he would need to be near a beach for his PhD program so needless to say, it was an agreement I entered into without hesitation. So 16 months after we made our agreement (and one Master’s in Social Work later), we packed up our car and headed down South. Michigan to Miami is no small drive so we set out to make a few stops along the way. Because my man loves his bourbon, we made a detour to Bourbon County in Kentucky. It was a dream come true for him. My favorite part of this portion of the trip was our stay in a local Bed and Breakfast. It just so happened that we checked into our B & B on Christmas Eve. It was clear that this town and definitely this B & B hadn’t seen a tourist in quite a while. When we drove up, the proprietor turned on all her twinkling Christmas lights, pressed play on her Nat King Cole Christmas album and waited to turn on the main room’s large Christmas tree until we walked in to the room. My husband and I looked at each other thinking the same thing, this poor woman has no idea that her only two customers this holiday season are two big Jews. Oy.

Outside our apartment in Ann Arbor (with Judy Blue!) the day we moved, December 2010

Outside our apartment in Ann Arbor (with Judy Blue!) the day we moved, December 2010

 

Ann the Inn Keeper with her two undercover Jewish guests on Christmas day.

Ann the Inn Keeper with her two undercover Jewish guests on Christmas day.

 

Ann collected antiques.  She insisted we sit in this "courting" chair. We indulged her.  It was our Jewish guilt working over time.

Ann collected antiques. She insisted we sit in this “courting” chair. We indulged her. It was our Jewish guilt working over time.

 

Two days later, we arrived at my mom’s house in Asheville, NC just in time for the snow to start pouring down. Our trip got delayed a few days but we eventually took the risk and headed down to Miami. Watching the climate change from a winter wonderland by starting our journey in the mountains and ending 10 hours later in sunny Orlando, Florida was incredible. The next day we woke up and drove the remaining four hours to Miami. Now, I had only been in Miami once before this for about 8 hours and I had only been in South Beach. So armed with the memories of that day and one too many viewings of The Bird Cage, I was completely surprised to find out that not all of Miami is a sun-soaked, pastel, art-deco wonderland. In fact, that’s only a small portion of Miami. Miami is huge, and a bit beat-up in parts and then completely overly manicured in others. She holds hidden gems in the most random and unexpected places. I’m not in love with Miami but I try to love her for what she has to offer and when it comes to flavor, she has a lot to offer.

Father's Day in Miami.  Welcome to the good life!

Father’s Day in Miami. Welcome to the good life!

So on this beautiful evening on this hot, Miami day, that just also happened to be Father’s Day, I played with some of my favorite Miami flavors. Being that its Father’s Day, it’s hot out and my man loves the ocean, we went to the beach. We also grilled some meat because how else to you let the man you love know that he’s the greatest father on the planet but with some grilled meat?! To accompany our meat-fest, I made some cilantro lime cauliflower “couscous”. Since I now have 3 clients with varying diet restrictions, Im trying to play with alternatives. Yes, this meant saying “shalom” to my old friend, the cauliflower, but this was the perfect side dish to a heavy meal. I also think this would be beautiful as an accompaniment to fish, or maybe if you’re going paleo or grain-free, like some of my clients, this would be great with roasted veggies or in soup. You can play with the flavors if cilantro isn’t your thing. The cauliflower is extremely versatile. I hope you like!

Cauliflower as couscous

Cauliflower as couscous

 

Chopped

Chopped

 

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Couscous

Ingredients

1 Head of Cauliflower
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Sea salt
Pepper

1/2 Cup Cilantro
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp Coconut oil
Juice of Half a Lime
Sea salt

Fresh

Fresh

How

Chop cauliflower into smaller florets for the processor. Place chopped cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until consistency resembles fluffy couscous. Heat coconut oil in a skillet or Dutch oven. Place processed cauliflower into the Dutch oven. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Turn heat to low, season with salt and pepper and cover. Let sit on low heat for 5-10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, place cilantro, garlic, salt, oil and lime juice in a clean food processor or blender. Pulse together until we’ll combined.

Once couscous is done (do a taste test for softness to let you know it’s done), turn off the heat, pour the cilantro sauce into the Dutch oven with the couscous and stir to combine. Serve hot.

 

Couscous complete

Couscous complete

Feeling Raw – Raw, vegan brownie bites

2 Jun
The Women

The Women (photo courtesy of Alex Berger)

This past week has been a rollercoaster. It started out wonderfully. The whole family on my mom’s side met in Louisville, Ky for a mini family reunion to honor my grandmother on her 90th birthday. We are a crazy lot. I don’t know how we did it, but the four of us; my brother, myself, my cousin, Ayelet and my cousin, Mike, managed to marry people who are just as nutty and just as entertaining as we are. Aside from nutty, ours is also a small lot. I’m not sure if it’s the many potential cousins and auntie and uncles who might have been but who never were because of the Holocaust or because my grandmother, who is British and met my grandfather in England during the war, came over to settle in the States and, as a result, we weren’t able to be as involved with my British family as we would have liked to have been. Whatever the reasons, as far as cousins go, I only have 2 first cousins but luckily, they are the bee’s knees! They are like siblings and I truly hope our children continue to have a similar close relationship. And as for grandma, well, she is sassy, tiny, hilarious and awesome. My grandmother has twin sisters, Doreen and June, who look exactly like the Gabor sisters and don’t you think for one second that they don’t know it either. As the story goes, my grandfather met one of my grandmother’s sisters first and asked her out on a date. As was their habit, one would make a date and then if she decided she didn’t really want to go out on that date, the other would step in (they are that identical). In the case of my grandfather, neither wanted to keep the date (I’m not sure why but it all worked out in the end) so my grandmother stepped in. And the rest, as they say, is history. It was often the case, in terms of marriages between American soldiers and a local girl abroad, that marriages happened quickly and without much planning. My grandpa submitted a request for a weekend leave so he could finally marry my grandmother. But the Army wasn’t so in to giving a person advanced noticed so Thursday or Friday, while my grandfather was stationed in France, he received the news that he was granted his leave for that very weekend and that very weekend only, so he hopped a train, made his way to England and they were married to very minimal fanfare that very weekend. Ahhhh . . . romance.

This is me and Dana, my cousin Mike's wife.  We both lucked out when he found this one.

This is me and Dana, my cousin Mike’s wife. We both lucked out when he found this one.

Picture courtesy of my cousin shown here, helping Grandma blow out her candles.

Picture courtesy of my cousin shown here, helping Grandma blow out her candles.

Anyway, all that is to say that it was a lovely weekend and was especially lovely to get away from the stress of work. I came back from the reunion feeling refreshed (not so much energized) but more prepared to get back into things at work. However, on Wednesday night, just as I was beginning to celebrate the fact that there have about 8 days left of the school year, I received word of the devastating loss of one of our students who had just graduated the week before. The circumstances surrounding the death are a bit hazy and quite frankly, I don’t need to know them. All I needed to know was that I was needed on campus in a way I hadn’t been needed before. The following day was the hardest of my professional career. I’m not trained in grief counseling. I’m not even trained in counseling. I’m a social worker with a concentration in community organizing so my on-the-job skills were tested every second of this past Thursday and Friday. I came home on Thursday completed gutted. So much so that at 9 o’clock at night I made the decision to go get some comfort in the form of frozen yogurt. I went to one of those places that measures by the weight, you know, with all the topping options. I mean yes, I may have chosen the healthier flavor in that plain yogurt with all the active, live cultures, but I killed those cultures something fierce when I topped them with Reese’s peanut butter cups and chocolate sauce. And let me tell you, as a personal chef to people with an eye on health (I added to my client list—got me a vegan!), I’m sure I should tell you, heck, you might want me to tell you, that after eating that gargantuan cup of frozen yogurt topped with Reese’s cups and chocolate sauce that I didn’t feel comforted or better but worse because of all that sugar, but I can’t. I can’t tell you that, dear reader, because I would be lying to you and I don’t condone lying. Not one bit. That froyo was absolutely delicious and I felt completely fine afterwards.

The hubby capturing some wildflowers on the side of the road in Kentucky

The hubby capturing some wildflowers on the side of the road in Kentucky

I did however, decide the next day that I needed a healthier pick me up and I wanted to make a treat for my new client for this week’s delivery so I decided on raw brownie bites. Guys, seriously, if you’ve skimmed this entire post up until this point, PAY ATTENTION NOW. The following is a recipe for what is, up to this point, one of my most favorite recipe developments yet. I started out following a recipe from the Simple Veganista and then abandoned it completely to go with my gut and apparently my gut was still hungry for the taste of comfort food but this time around, that comfort food would be healthy. So, grab your food processor and bookmark this page. I feel very strongly that you’ll be glad that you did. (P.S. this is so easy and would be great as a healthy snack for kids. I’m excited to let Siona try it once we clear that 1 year mark).

Chopped dates and walnuts

Chopped dates and walnuts

All the ingredients in the processor

All the ingredients in the processor

Raw Brownie Bites:

Ingredients:

10 – 12 dates, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup oats (I used gluten free)
1/4 – 1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp milled flaxseed
3 tbsp vegan cocoa powder
3/4 tbsp vanilla extract
1 – 2 tbsp organic maple syrup (depending upon your taste—start with 1 and if you make it again, up to 2 if it wasn’t sweet enough for you)
**Extra cocoa for rolling the bites in afterwards if want an extra chocolate punch.

The grind

The grind

Goodness

Goodness

The final product

The final product

The How:

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until well combined—to about the count of 30 or until the ingredients have a dough-like consistency. If you feel like it’s a bit dry due to too many walnuts or oats, just add a bit of water, about 1 tbsp at a time, until you get that doughy consistency. Once you’ve attained your desired consistency, roll into 1 inch balls. You can add fun little powder extras after rolling, like more cocoa or a combo of cocoa and cinnamon, if you want a little extra flavor. Keep refrigerated.

Close up to the goodies

Close up to the goodies

Monday Round-Up: Desserts! Egg Cream Popsicles w/Chocolate Chips

18 Mar

Hey gang.  This month’s Kosher Connection round-up theme is Passover-friendly desserts.  This initially intimidated the crap outta me.  I tried (and failed) at cashew/almond brittle but then it hit me.  While most of the Jews of these great United States will be celebrating Passover in frigid temperatures, us Miami Jews will be living it up in this balmy spring/summer weather.  And what’s better than a cool, delicious popsicle in this Miami heat!?  And of course, nothing (to me, at least) says “Jew” and “Passover” much like an egg cream.  That classic combination of chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer—-all of which have nothing to do with eggs or cream (OK, maybe the milk is kinda like cream).  Plus, and let’s be honest, I’m overwhelmed and can’t imagine baking desserts on top of all the cooking I have to do for my very first Seder! That’s right y’all, I’m hosting my first Seder.  Heck, I’m hosting two Sedarim and a lunch!  I’m overwhelmed.  I may or may not have cried a little last night trying to think about how to figure out to cook, clean, take care of my little one and go to work full-time.  So, rather than get into a story from the week or some new neurosis I’m working on I’m asking YOU for stories and advice.  HELP! What advice do you have for a first-time Seder hostess? What have you learned through your own experiences?  What made a Seder memorable for you (positively or negatively)?  Tell! Tell!  Please feel free to leave stories, advice, etc. in the comments section of this post.  It’s appreciated.  Yours,

Whit

Ahhh, the union of chocolate, milk and seltzer.

Ahhh, the union of chocolate, milk and seltzer.

Egg Cream Popsicles (the recipe is based on how many popsicle holders you have use of—just make sure that there’s a little less seltzer than milk as seltzer needs diluting in order to freeze).

WHAT!?

~4 Popsicles

* 1/2 Cup seltzer
* 1 Cup Milk

* 3 Tbsp Chocolate Syrup

* Handful of Chocolate Chips

How’s That Now!?

Pour 1/2 inch of cold milk into a tall soda glass.

Add seltzer or club soda to within 1 inch of the top of a 2 cup glass measuring cup with a spout; stir vigorously with a long spoon (this will cause it to foam/bubble, which you want!).  Very gently pour 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup slowly down the inside of the glass; briskly stir with a long spoon only at the bottom of the glass where the chocolate sits. The resulting drink should have a dark brown bottom and a 1-inch high pure white foam top.  When assembling in popsicle holders — put chocolate chips in first (about 1/4 in full) then add liquid up to the top.  Freeze and enjoy!

We're getting serious now

We’re getting serious now

This is very serious business :)

This is very serious business 🙂

**Please excuse no finished product picture. It’s dark and the light in the apartment stinks so I’m just not doing it. 🙂

Annnnnnnnnnd we’re back (we hope).

12 Oct

Well, it’s been a while, to say the least.  It would appear that our last blog post was almost a year ago.  Ugh.  So here’s what happened (at least with one of us.  I’ll let Jeremy explain himself 😉
So I got pregnant.  My husband and I had our first child in August and around the time of the last blog post is when I started the ever so ladylike first trimester symptom of nauseous and vomiting.  Yum, right?  It go so bad that I stopped eating cheese! CHEESE PEOPLE! I LOVE CHEESE! There was one week in the first trimester that I only ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Then there was that one time that my hubby made himself a veggie burger and the sheer smell of it made me, well, yeah. And then the second trimester hit and out went the nausea and in came the intense cravings.  There was that one time I wanted turkey and stuffing dinner so so badly that I ended up in tears because Boston Market isn’t kosher.  But now, almost a year later, in place of intense cravings and puking and rallying is the most beautiful baby in the world (no, seriously).  Ever since the little one was born, I’ve spent an insane amount on my iPhone, especially during the first several weeks of her life.  When a newborn wants to eat every 2 to 3 hours around the clock and it’s 3 am, you need to do something to keep yourself awake and for me, that was perusing apps like Pinterest and Punchfork.  And now that babe is finally on a bit of a schedule and the glory of nap time has entered my life (as well as the glory of an Ergo.  Oh sweet, sweet Ergo), I’m able to cook again.  Cooking is such a great creative outlet for me.  And I didn’t realize it until it wasn’t there anymore, but so was this blog.  And though my family is my whole world, a woman needs something for herself, well, at least this woman does.  so back to the blog we go.   This past Simchat Torah we hosted family and friends for lunch and it was wonderful having people around the table enjoying my food again.  Now, don’t get it twisted, the time to actually sit down and write is limited but I’m gonna try my best to get back to it (and Jeremy promises to do the same.  He told me so himself!)  We know there are a bajillion food blogs out there so we’re grateful you’re back reading ours.

Tiny One

Ok, so Simcaht Torah lunch was a dairy sensation.  We don’t usually go dairy on holidays but I spent the shabbat before reading the Southern Living my sister-in-law left after the family visited and my goodness, there was this recipe for caramel coffee cake that made my mouth water.  Now being Southern myself, I couldn’t believe it took me 32 years to actually read my first Southern Living and it was revelatory.  Sure, 85% of the recipes in it call for bacon but I find it only a challenge I wish to take on rather than a big stop sign.  And sure, 100% of the recipes in the magazine could clog your arteries just by looking at them but again, challenge to make healthier, not stop sign.  And Lord knows I need things to be healthier now that I gots some baby weight to lose. But I digress, let’s get back to the coffee cake.  Did I mention caramel sauce?  Also, did you know caramel sauce take 10 seconds to make?  Dangerous.  The men around the table asked for seconds so I’m gonna assume that the cake tasted good but, why don’t you give it a try and let me know 🙂

Crumbs

Mess

Cake Ingredients:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla

Preparation:

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apples; sauté 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).
  2. 2. Meanwhile, prepare Streusel Topping and Caramel Sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce for another use.
  3. 3. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  4. 4. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a greased and floured shiny 9-inch springform pan; top with apples. Drizzle with 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce; sprinkle with Streusel Topping.
  5. 5. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. (A wooden pick will not come out clean.) Cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes; remove sides of pan. Cool completely on wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Drizzle with 1/2 cup Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce

Bring 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup whipping cream (I used half & half), and 1/4 cup honey to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes before serving.

Streussel Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Stir together flour, pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until blended. Let stand 30 minutes or until firm enough to crumble into small pieces.

 

speaking of strawberries…

20 Jun

I went to a pretty fantastic brunch a week or two ago.  The food was beyond amazing.  One of my favorite bites was something that I’ve been dying to share with you.  Have you ever wanted to have a quick and easy trick (dish) up your sleeve?  Not literally, silly.  Of course you don’t want to walk around with a plate tucked into that summer tank top.  You’d look stupid.  That wouldn’t even make sense on Gaga.  Seriously.  Haven’t you wanted to have something that you could throw together at the last-minute.  Haven’t you wanted to be a magician with food?  Of course you have.  What’s more?  Of course I’m here to tell you a life changing little something that will transform your personal curb appeal.

In a word?  Fruit Dip.

Fine.  So that’s two words.  Whatever.  It’s life changing.

Seriously.

I have a hard time with fruit because my inner 5-year-old says things like oranges look like baby fingers when they’re in pieces and when I chew them it feels like I have a mouth full of skin.  Alright.  So I’m sharing too much about my possibly eccentric personality.  I’ve got issues.  What I’m trying to tell you is that fruit dip tastes good.  You might eat a baby finger just to get some.  I’m not kidding.  My favorite thing to eat it with is strawberries, but you can use it on just about anything.  Trust me when I say you’re going to want to eat it on everything.

WHAT?

1 package cream cheese (8oz)

1 small jar of marshmallow fluff (7.5 oz)

 

HOW?

Throw your room temperature package of cream cheese into a stand mixer, add the jar of marshmallow fluff.  Mix until it’s creamy, beautiful and smooth.

 

Easy, right?  Crazy easy.  Fine.  So I said that I was hell-bent on getting corn syrup out of our lives.  I’m making an exception.  Besides, if this will get you to eat more fruit, it’s worth it.  Slice up some strawberries, melon, grapes, whatever fruit you have around and watch your fruit and this dip disappear.  You’ll be the most popular person on your block.  I promise.

We’re Back . . . and just in time for a holiday devoted to cheese!

5 Jun

Hello again friends! How are you? So, May was kinda busy.  I mean, very busy.  Actually, I have no idea how it went by so quickly but luckily it did cause it was kind of a nasty b*tch.  But June, shalom to you dear, sweet June.  It’s officially beyond hot here in South Florida and what better time than the sweltering heat of June to start baking up a storm in preparation of Shavuot.  Shavuot, which translates into ‘weeks’ in Hebrew, is one of those holidays I forget I truly love.  Here is a holiday based entirely around love (love of Torah, love of Gd and love of learning) while also being a holiday based around the idea of renewal (renewal of the acceptance of the Torah, renewal of one’s love of Gd and renewal of one’s decision to keep learning).  Shavuot is the day the Jewish people renew our acceptance of the Torah.  However, like in every healthy relationship, this is no one-way street of devotion.  Oh no my friends.  Shavuot is also the day that Gd ‘regifts’ the Torah to the Jewish people so that we may renew our acceptance.  Now, please do not see the word ‘regift’ and picture Gd handing over that bizarre yogurt maker no one registered for (but somehow got anyway).  That’s not the type of regifting we’re talking about.  It’s an understanding that Gd knows the Torah and all it’s complications is truly a gift or rather, a blessing, and Gd is telling the Jewish folk, “Look, I know this is complicated and the world is rough but I trust you and believe in you so much that I have no regrets in that original Torah-giving of 3300 years ago.”  It is customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot.  This ultimate all nighter is seen as an embodiment of the acceptance.

Prepping for Cheesecake

It’s as if the Jewish people and Gd are renewing their vows together and then we get to eat a really great brunch of blintzes, cheesecake and other delicious dairy goodies.  I’m not 100% sure of where this custom came from, but some believe that since Shavuot commemorates the receiving of the Torah, which included the kosher laws, the Jewish people could not cook meat in their pots, which had yet to be kashered.  But that’s besides the point.  We’re talking about a holiday that encourages the eating of my favorite food—cheese!  Oh sweet, sweet cheese.

Cheesecake Filling

So, the first item up for Shavuot baking is actually a classic no-bake cheesecake.  Cheese-freak that I am, I’ve never made a cheesecake.  Now, because I have to make 2 days worth of meals in advance of the holiday (you can technically cook on a ‘chag’ but you can’t start a new flame so a lot of people will keep their ovens on or a flame on their store but I’m too paranoid for that business) so I opted for a no-bake cheesecake so I could also tackle some ultimate oatmeal cookies and a cauliflower cheddar soup.  See below for the cheesecake and cookie recipes (you’ll have to forgive me for not including the cauliflower soup–I got too dang tired as it was the last thing I made).

Chag Sameach!!

No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

What?

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces prepared whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust (6 ounces)
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise

How?

1. Beat the cream cheese until smooth with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until just combined. Fold in the whipped topping. Scrape mixture into the piecrust. (There may be some filling left over. If so, reserve it to be decoratively piped onto the top of the pie.) Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

2. Starting in the center, arrange the strawberries in a circular pattern. Pipe with extra filling, if desired.

Cookie Perfection

Not Your Bubbe’s Oatmeal Cookies

This is a half recipe. It makes a couple dozen standard-size cookies.

What?

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (I often use a half teaspoon, but I like more salt in my baked goods)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup raisins (I don’t like mine drowning in raisins)
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup mini morsels of chocolate chips

How?

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill

Pre-Cookie

the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Ridiculous Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie

6 May

Ummm . . . I made a pie.  I made like the whole thing–the crust, the topping, all of it.  See, this jewhungry author only figured out how to cook about 2 years ago so there is still a vast array of foods I have NO IDEA how to make and a majority of them I find very intimidating.  Pies were in this category.  However, when the hubby and I were registering for our wedding I made the genius decision to register for a pastry cutter thinking that one day I would bake a dang pie.  Well, that one day came about 7 months after our wedding when the Whole Foods in our neighborhood was having an amazing sale on local strawberries.  Four pints of strawberries later and I was on my way home ready to face a pie.  Now, my dear friend, Chicago Red, is a pie mistress and even instituted Friday Pie Day, which just sounds delicious, but I digress.  The point is I know and love a pie mistress so I was nervous to disappoint.

Upon scouring the internet and finding most pie crust recipes calling for shortening, I found a recipe on a blog called Sweet Mary and it turned out to be sensational (though I did learn the lesson the hard way that I MUST run an egg wash over any exposed crust and to go ahead and double the recipe if I want a gorgeous lattice topping).  Another lesson I learned is the danger of using frozen fruit.  I had no access to fresh rhubarb so I was forced to use frozen and of course, the end result was a little watery.  Regardless, the pie was delicious and I will attempt to make it again with all fresh ingredients.

Oh, also? TONIGHT, jewhungry co-author and playwright extraordinaire, Jeremy, is debuting his insanely hilarious show, You’re Being Ridiculous at the Gorilla Tango Theater in Chicago.  I dedicate this post and this pie to him! Also, go see the show.

Pie Dough:

1 1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch cubes

3 tablespoons very cold water

Here are my tips/tricks to keep in mind:

Pie dough is easier to roll when it is cold, cold, cold.  So, I put my mixing bowl, chopped butter, and a small bowl of water right into the freezer for about 15 minutes before starting.  Also, every baker will tell you to work fast.  As soon as the butter starts warming up, things get more challenging.  I also have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, which is probably my most beloved possession.  You can also do this by hand, it really won’t matter.

Also, this recipe makes one crust.  If you are doing a double crust, double the recipe (of course!).

By hand:  Stir flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture looks like coarse meal with the butter pieces about the size of small peas.  Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment:  Stir the flour, sugar, and salt in the mixer bowl.  Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat.  Mix on medium-low until it looks like coarse meal with the butter pieces about the size of small peas.  Add the water and mix on low just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to your work surface. If you are doing a double crust, divide the dough in half.  Put the half you are not using in the fridge while you work.  Pat the half you are using into a ball.  Flatten into a disk with 6-8 gentle taps of the rolling-pin.  As you work, lift the dough and give it a quarter turn.  You can keep dusting the top of the dough, work surface, and/or rolling-pin as needed so things don’t stick.  Roll out into a round about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick.  To get the dough in the pie dish, roll it halfway right on to the rolling-pin.  Lift up and slip the pie dish right underneath the dough.  Center.  And, lay it down gently.  Press into the pan.  Cut off edges and leave about 3/4 inch of overhang.

At this point, you need a pie recipe!  I usually lightly brush the bottom dough with beaten egg when I do fruit pies.  This will cook a bit when in the over and prevents the bottom of the dough from being soggy.  Who likes a soggy crust?  Not me!   Obviously, you will repeat the steps above after making the filling if you are making a double crust pie.  Then, you can do the edges as you wish.  Crimp or whatever you want.

For the filling:

3 1/2 cups of 1/2 inch thick slices of trimmed rhubarb

1 16-ounce container of strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Combine first 7 ingredients in bowl.  Toss gently to blend.  Roll out one dough disk on floured surface to the size of your pie pan.  Place in pie pan and trim the excess around the edges.   Egg wash the bottom of the crust with beaten egg.  Pour the filling into the crust.  Roll out the second disk of dough.  Cut into strips about 3/4″ wide.  Arrange one set of strips on the pie.  Space them out evenly.  Then form a lattice with the remaining strips.  To form a lattice, it is just like weaving.  There should be an over-under pattern.  I should have really taken photos of the whole process and written my own steps.  I will keep that in mind for a future lattice pie.  For now, take a look at the Food Network’s directions.

Once the lattice is  finished and placed on top of the pie, trim and crimp the edges.  Then, egg wash the whole top.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes.  Reduce temp to 375 and bake till golden and bubbling.  Perhaps, this will take about another  45-60 minutes.  Cool completely to let set.

It’s almost that time again…

30 Mar

It’s time to start thinking about Passover.  Can you believe it?  Time flies when you’re eating bread, I guess.  There is no better way to ease into the sometimes difficult task of Passover eating than Chocolate Covered Matzoh.  There’s also not an easier way to become the most popular person at a Passover Seder, or a Tuesday night in June (or any other time of the year).  The secret way to truly win friends and influence people is to learn how to make CCM.  Seriously.  Memorize what I’m about to teach you.  Make it for your Seder.  Then?  Randomly surprise people with it throughout the year.  You’ll never be lonely again…or skinny…

This recipe is delightfully simple and easy.  It just takes a few minutes, but the joy goes on forever.  I’m not kidding when I tell you that this dessert can change lives.

What?

4 to 6 sheets of Matzoh…(I use a high fiber Matzoh to feel healthy)

1 cup (two sticks of butter or margarine)

1 cup of packed light brown sugar

1 pinch of Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 bag of chocolate chips

1 cup of pecans or favorite nut chopped (optional)

extra Kosher Salt for sprinkling

How?

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil.  This step isn’t completely necessary but it’ll make the clean up a zillion times easier.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzoh, covering all parts.  You’ll need to break pieces to fit any extra spaces, which will be annoying because despite being perforated, it does not actually break in straight lines.  Don’t get stressed out about this part.  Like life…making Chocolate Covered Matzoh is a little messy and imperfect.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. I use a whisk…  It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzoh or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand for a couple of minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel using a spatula.  It’s like magic it’s so unbelievably easy.  If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts.  I usually skip the nuts and sprinkle the top of the gooey chocolatey goodness with Kosher Salt.  Trust me here.  The salty sweetness = new bffs.

Once the salt is on, I throw the baking sheet into the freezer to speed up the process.  When it’s solid you’re ready to go!  If you’re short on Matzoh, or (G-d forbid) you don’t have any where you are use saltines.  It’s the same-ish feel…just not necessarily Kosher for Passover.  I’m sorry that there aren’t any pictures of my CCM, I kinda ate it all before I could remember to get out my camera.  Oops.  Now for a run, I guess?

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