Tahini Vanilla Ice Box Cake

  

Tahini ice box cake

Valentine’s Day. How does this fit into a Jewish or interfaith home? Technically, yes, Valentine’s Day is named for a saint. It was first instituted by Pope Gelasius I in 496 C.E. to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. Yet scholars know almost nothing about this St. Valentine. There is an abundant amount of  literature on St. Valentine but most of it is not historical but based on legend. And, truth be told, Valentine’s Day is not a “religious” holiday. The association of a saint does not necessary make it so. I’m sure some might take issues with the previous sentences but to my estimation, Valentine’s Day is an American “holiday” and perfect for families that celebrate Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.

My kids go to private Jewish preschool. They haven’t come in contact yet with Valentine’s Day. But, our oldest will be headed to public Kindergarten next year and we can almost guarantee that we will be met with Valentines. And I ask you? What’s not “Jewish” about showing your like and care with the giving of sweet cards and yummy treats? But, if you’re like me and you’re still struggling with the concept of bringing Valentine’s Day into your home, then why not make it a little more Jewish with the inclusion of seemingly “Jewish” foods like, I don’t know, tahini!

Therefore, I bring you a simple and delicious tahini and vanilla ice box cake. I love ice box cakes. They’re great for impressing your family and friends while not having to actually cook anything. I mean, what says, “I love you” more than frozen tahini in the shape of hearts set in a pink ice cream cake!?

Tahini Vanilla Icebox Cake

Ingredients for Halva:

  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 1/2 cups tahini, well stirred to combine

 

Ingredients for Icebox Cake:

  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream
  • 2 teaspoons of natural red gel food coloring or 4 1/2 teaspoons red liquid food coloring (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • (optional) 1 cup rainbow sprinkles

 

Directions for Halva Hearts:

Halva hearts1. Heat honey on medium heat until your candy or instant-read thermometer reads 240˚ F, or indicates the “soft ball” stage of candy making. To confirm that you are at the “soft ball” stage, drop a bit of the honey into a cup of cold water. It should form a sticky and soft ball that flattens when removed from the water.

2. Have the tahini ready to heat in a separate small pot, and once the honey is at the appropriate temperature, set the honey aside and heat tahini to 120˚ F.

3. Add the warmed tahini to the honey and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. At first it will look separated but after a few minutes, the mixture will come together smoothly.

4. Continue to mix until the mixture starts to stiffen, for a good 6-8 minutes. Pour mixture into a well-greased and parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 deep-set baking sheet or loaf pan (it MUST have at least 1 inch sides on the pan you use as it’ll keep the tahini within the pan), or into a greased and parchment paper-lined cake pan with a removable bottom.

5. Let cool to room temperature and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. This will allow the sugar crystals to form, which will give the halvah its distinctive texture.

6. Once done, cut out at least 8 – 10 hearts using a sharp, metal cookie cutter.

Directions for Vanilla Ice Box Cake:

pink ice cream

stir ice creamice cream

 

 

Ice cream over heartsAdd hearts to ice cream1. In a chilled bowl combine vanilla ice cream and food coloring. Cover and freeze for 1 hour or until mixture is spreadable.

2. Line a 9-inch Pullman or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with two sheets of plastic wrap, enough to cover the bottom and sides, allowing plastic wrap to extend over sides of pan. Spread half of the vanilla ice cream evenly in the bottom of the pan.

3. Place the tahini stars down the center of the ice cream pressing down so that the bottom points of the stars are completely submerged in the pink ice cream and the tops are just visible, and placing stars so that they are touching. Freeze for 1 hour.

4. Spread the rest of the pink vanilla ice cream in an even layer over the stars to cover. Cover the top of the cake with heaps of rainbow sprinkles. Freeze for 24 hours or until very firm.

5. Use the plastic wrap to lift mixture from pan. Transfer to a serving plate and cut about an inch into the cake to reveal the first heart. Enjoy!

finished ice cream cake

Strawberry Dessert Nachos

  

Strawberry Dessert Nachos Valentine’s day is fast approaching, but we believe in celebrating big love, little love, silly love, happy love, sad love and family love any day of the week. In our diverse Jewish, multi-faith community, it’s important to show our love for one another, and take advantage of opportunities to spread kindness. This quick and easy chocolate and strawberry nacho recipe is perfect for whenever love strikes.

“Not Your Average Love” Nachos

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
  • zest from 1/4 lime
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
  • 3-4 handfuls of Churro style nacho chips (cinnamon sugar corn chips) or Cinnamon Sugar Pita chips
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
  • 1 3.5 oz tablet of dark chocolate

 

Directions:

1. Over medium low heat, heat two cups of frozen strawberries in a small saucepan. Add the zest from 1/4 of the lime and 2 Tbsp. of sugar to the saucepan and cook with the lid off. Once the strawberries have started to release their juices and are completely thawed and soft, take the pan off the heat and let it cool slightly.

2. Once cooled, put the strawberry mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Be careful when blending because if the mixture is still warm the steam may create pressure and pop the lid off the blender.

3. Pour the strawberry mixture into a cute bowl and then prepare the chocolate drizzle. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup of cream and 1 Tbsp. of butter and heat over medium low until the butter has completely melted. Add 2 Tbsp. of sugar to the cream and butter mixture. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the pot off the heat.

4. Break the chocolate into squares and let them dissolve in the hot cream.

5. Spread the cinnamon sugar chips over a platter or plate and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Put the extra chocolate sauce in another cute bowl to serve on the side.

6. Dip a chocolate drizzled chip into the strawberry salsa and feed it to someone you love.

Fresh Start Rice Noodle Bowls

  

In the winter there is something so comforting about a classic Shabbat roasted chicken. Often though, the meal can feel heavy with chicken at the center of heavy starch and vegetable sides. This Rice Noodle Bowl takes either freshly roasted chicken breasts, or some of your leftover roasted chicken and creates a nice, light, customizable meal in a bowl. It’s comfort food with out the gooey heavy cheesiness of, say, mac ‘n’ cheese or chili.

The long noodles also make this a perfect dish to cook for couples and families celebrating Chinese New Year, which just happens to fall on Shabbat this year (January 28 to be exact). Just as we eat honey and apples for a sweet Jewish new year, Chinese tradition is to eat long noodles. It is one of the “lucky foods” meant to represent a long life.

Ingredients

Choose what you like to add into your rice bowl. You can make it with tofu to keep it vegetarian or salmon if you want fish. You can also add some fresh grated ginger or cilantro for extra flavors.

Rice Noodle Bowls with Vegetables and Chicken
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Rotisserie chicken or 2 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 pint of mushrooms of your choice (I used Beech Mushrooms)
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed oil is best)
    You will have leftover shallot oil that can be used in other recipes
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1 bouillon cube with water or chicken stock (for 1 cup of stock)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/2 package of rice noodles (two nests)
  • 1 carrot

 

Directions:

ingredients1.  If you are using a rotisserie chicken, you will just slice 4 slices of the chicken breast and set it aside on a plate. If you are roasting a chicken breast, use this method from Ina Garten; it is simple and tasty.

2.  Pour vegetable oil into a small saucepan and heat it over low. While the oil heats, slice the shallots as thinly as possible. Have a fork or slotted spoon on hand and put a layer of paper towels on a small plate.Turn the oil up to medium heat. Once the oil ripples, you should be able to toss in a piece of shallot and see if it sizzles instantly. Then it is hot enough. If it burns, take the oil off the heat to cool and remove the burnt shallot. Cook the shallots in the hot oil for 10-20 minutes until crispy. Remove the shallots with a fork or slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. Set the oil aside to cool.

3.  Wash and slice the scallions using both the white and green parts of the scallion about halfway up the greens. Peel the carrot and slice it into thin matchsticks.

4.  Prepare the rice noodles as directed by the package. Typically, the noodles soak in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water.

5.  Pour the shallot oil into a jar. The leftover oil is great for salad dressings and seasoning. You will not use the entire 1/4 cup.

sautee mushrooms6.  If you are just using a few mushrooms you can sauté them in the oil left behind in the pan. If you are using a lot of mushrooms, use a larger sauté pan and pour in a teaspoon of the shallot oil. You do not want to crowd the mushrooms or they will steam instead of sauté. Clean and slice the mushrooms if they are not pre-sliced. Smaller mushrooms can be left whole.

7.  In a small saucepan, cover the egg with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. While the egg is simmering prepare a bowl with ice water. After 3 minutes, dunk the egg in the ice water and let it cool. Once cool, carefully peel the egg.

8.  Empty the water out of the egg saucepan and add in your stock or water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then let simmer. Wash and slice the baby bok choy into halves or quarters depending on how big they are.

cook your bok choy9.  Now you can assemble your rice noodle bowls. On a plate or individual bowls you will put your slices of scallion, crispy shallots, carrots and sautéed mushrooms. Toss the rinsed rice noodles in the leftover oil from the pan that you used to sautée the mushrooms. Just before serving, cook the bok choy in the chicken stock for a few minutes and then heat up the slices of chicken in the chicken stock as well. This will only take a few minutes each.

9.  Divide the noodles into two bowls. Slice the egg and put half in each bowl. Allow people to add the toppings they like to the dish and then drizzle with a little additional shallot oil. Stir it all together and enjoy.

Chinese noodle bowl

 

 

Red and Green Latkes for Hanukkah at Christmas

  

red and green latkes

Some years Hanukkah and Christmas overlap—not only do they overlap this year, but the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve! To have a little fun with this intersection of holidays, I made two non-traditional versions of a classic Hanukkah mainstay: latkes. Red and green latkes, to be precise. The red latkes are made from beets and the green latkes are made from broccoli. Italian cooks like to add a little Parmesan to their frittelle di broccoli (broccoli fritters). I left mine plain with just a little ricotta, but feel free to add some Parmesan for an Italian flair.

The beet latkes are like the “rich man’s latkes” from my mother’s cookbook since they don’t have anything added like flour to make them heartier. They’re more delicate than the broccoli latkes and are almost lacy when cooked. The broccoli has more moisture, so I added extra flour and some ricotta to make them a bit fluffier.

Latkes Two Ways

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli and beets2 beets
  • 2 small or 1 large onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • ¼ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • Sour cream, optional
  • Apple sauce, optional

 

Directions:

grated onion1.  Fill a medium-sized pot with water and salt to blanch the broccoli. Trim the stalk of the broccoli by cutting off the rough end and peeling the rest. Then slice the broccoli into large “trees.” Add the broccoli to the boiling water for 2 minutes. While it blanches, prepare a bowl of ice and water to shock the broccoli after removing from pot. Drain and set aside to cool.

2.  Grate the onions and squeeze them in a kitchen towel to get as much of the onion juice out as possible. Discard juice.

3.  Peel and grate the beets on the large-grate side of a box grater. Squeeze them in a paper towel (unless you don’t mind staining a cloth towel) and discard the juice.

ingredients for beet latkes4.  Mix the grated beets, 2 eggs and half of the grated onions in a bowl. Season with ½ tsp. salt and about ¼ tsp. pepper. Set aside.

5.  Cut the broccoli stalks down all the way to the very top of the florets so you have tiny florets and stalks. Break the florets up into a bowl (like crumbling feta cheese with your fingers). Grate the stalks on the box grater and add them to the florets.

7.  Mix in flour, ricotta, one egg, the rest of the grated onion and the remaining ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Set aside.

frying beet latkes

8.  In a hot frying pan, add 2 Tbsp.vegetable or grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. Take a spoonful of the beet mixture (it will be very delicate), squeeze it slightly and lay it into the pan to fry. Don’t move the beet latkes when placed in the pan until they begin to brown a little around the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Once they begin to darken (if you’re not sure, you can peek underneath after a few minutes), flip and cook on the other side 3-5 minutes.

9.  While the beet latkes are frying, prepare a plate with paper towels to drain the latkes. Once you’ve fried all the beet latkes, use a paper towel to carefully wipe out the oil (turn off the heat). Then add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and fry the broccoli latkes, following the same method.

Serve with sour cream or apple sauce (or both!).

For more Hanukkah recipes, click here

beet and broccoli latkes

red and green latkes

Gingerbread Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Doughnuts)

  

 

sufganiyot_stackChristmas and the first night of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year. Growing up the child of a divorced, interreligious family, this would have blown my mind even more than it does as an adult. While I was raised primarily in my Jewish mother’s home, my brother and I spent every Christmas with my dad, stepmother and half-sister, and we loved it. I mean, loved it. Sure, the extra presents were nice (very nice), but the experience of both holidays was nothing short of warmth.

Now, at 36, as I think back to having to shuffle between houses for holidays, I feel nothing but warmth. I loved lighting the menorah and the smell of the match as it lit a fresh batch of Hanukkah candles. I equally loved the smell of eggnog and the sound of Nat King Cole’s classic Christmas record as I helped my dad and family decorate the tree. I never once felt I was compromising my enriched and grounded Jewish identity as I played along with my dad and stepmom in pretending, for the sake of my beloved half-sister, that Santa and his reindeer were, in fact, on the roof trying to figure out how to get down the chimney.

Somehow, my family figured out how to give my brother and me a safe and inviting interreligious experience growing up and never asked us to choose. It was our normal, and it was perfect. I hope this recipe helps you bring some of that warmth into your home.

Gingerbread Sufganiyot

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

  • 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, plus ½ cup extra for coating
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tsp. warm water
  • 4.5 Tbsp. room-temperature butter
  • 4 cups neutral oil for frying (like canola)

 

For the filling:

  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. allspice
  • ¼ Tbsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ Tbsp. ground cloves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

 

Instructions

1.  Place all doughnut ingredients, except the butter, into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Work on a low speed for about 4 minutes, or until well-combined and elastic.

2.  With the mixer still running, add the butter piece by piece, until it’s all worked in and incorporated. There should be no visible pieces. This will take about 5-8 minutes.

3.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

4.  While the dough is rising, make the filling. Place the cream, milk, vanilla and gingerbread-spice mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat.

5.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.

6.  Pour the mixture back into the pan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until it boils and becomes very thick, about 1-2 minutes. Once the mixture is the consistency of soft butter, scrape it out into a bowl, cover and set aside to cool completely.

doughnut dough

7.  When the dough has risen, punch it down and scrape it out onto a well-floured surface. Make sure your hands are properly floured and pat the dough into a rectangle, about ½-inch thick, and cut out nine doughnuts using a well-floured 2.5-inch round biscuit cutter or large glass. Place the doughnuts on a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 45 minutes, or until puffy.

8.  When the doughnuts are finished their second rise, place about 2 inches of oil into a high-sided pan (or use a deep fryer) and heat over a low flame, until it reaches 350 degrees (or until a small piece of dough dropped in the oil bubbles and rises to the surface).

9.  Fry the doughnuts a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan) for about 1 minute each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.

10.  Drain on paper towels and toss in the ½ cup sugar.

Inject doughnuts with gingerbread

11.  To fill the doughnuts, I use a flavor injector, like you would use for a turkey. I find this the easiest way to get the cream in. Alternatively, you can place the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch nozzle. Press the piping bag into the side of each doughnut and squeeze until you can feel the weight of the doughnut increase slightly.

Find more Hanukkah recipes here

Gingerbread dougnuts

Ponchiki: Polish Cheese Doughnut Holes

  

PonchikiThere are two stories associated with Hanukkah: One tells how the vial of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted for eight, and the other is the story of Judith and how she saved her town from annihilation at the hands of General Holefernes by getting him drunk on salty cheese and wine until he passed out and was killed. The latter story is not often told in Hebrew school (for good reason!), but the holiday’s culinary tradition of eating foods prepared with cheese is widespread throughout Mediterranean Jewish communities.

Doughnuts, or sufganiot as they are called in Israel, are a Sephardi treat. Ponchiki, however, are traditionally made in Poland and Eastern Europe, the area where Ashkenazi Jews came from. So this recipe not only combines two culinary traditions and two cultural areas of Judaism, it also fulfills the holiday traditions of consuming fried foods and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 7.5-ounce packages Friendship Dairies Farmer Cheese or 2 cups homemade farmer’s cheese (see recipe below)
  • 3-4 cups corn or vegetable oil for frying

 

Directions:

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a one-quart bowl. Set aside.

2.  Whisk the egg in a two-quart bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to whisk until foamy and well combined.

ponchiki: whisk

add the cheese3.  Add the cheese and whisk vigorously to break it down into small particles, thoroughly combining it with the egg mixture.

4.  Add the flour mixture and stir with the whisk or a spatula until no particles of flour are visible.

5.  Heat the oil in a small, deep fryer or in a two-quart saucepan to a temperature of 375ºF. If necessary, add enough oil to come to a depth of about two inches. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you’ll know the oil is ready when a little bit of dough rolls in the oil and begins to brown.

 

 

Fry your doughnuts6. Using a small spring ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon and rubber spatula, scoop up some dough and drop it into the hot oil. Don’t fry more than six balls at a time so the oil temperature remains constant. Turn doughnut holes over, if necessary, to brown on all sides. Doughnuts will be done after about three minutes. If holes are browning too fast, lower the heat slightly.

7.  Crumple paper towels on a plate to drain the holes of excess oil. While still warm, toss them in confectioner’s sugar or in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

They are best eaten warm but will stay crisp for a few hours.

 

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Makes about two to three cups.

Ingredients:

  • ½ gallon whole or 2 percent milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cheesecloth

 

Directions:

1.  Bring milk and buttermilk to a simmer. Add the salt and continue to cook until the ingredients separate into curds and whey.

2.  Scoop up the cheese with a skimmer or small strainer and place in a large double-mesh strainer or colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. Let the cheese sit so any excess moisture can drip out, then bring the edges of the cloth together and twist them to force out any leftover moisture.

3.  Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use in a recipe, or eat with jam on toast.

For more Hanukkah recipes, click here

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

  

Ruegelach display

As Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, it’s a fine time to share my beloved recipe for rugelach. Before I became Jewish, I had always loved the Christmas cookie baking traditions—from the aromas that filled the house to all the flavors and textures of the different cookies. And all the sampling, of course. Celebrating my first Hanukkah made me yearn for a sweet little bite to bake for the holiday. Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies fell way short, as did a few other strategies. Then I came upon rugelach (the name for which likely comes from the Yiddish word for “royal”). These American-Jewish delicacies that are part cookie and part pastry captured my baking heart, and I’ve made this recipe every year since. It beautifully combines a delicate texture with the comforting flavors of cinnamon, pecans and a kiss of apricot. Rugelach would go well on any cookie tray and a tin full of these makes a wonderful gift.

Cream Cheese Rugelach with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar

Reprinted with permission from “Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life” by Marcia Friedman

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup apricot preserves at room temperature
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk

 

Topping:

  • 1½ Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

1. Cream the cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and light. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in the flour until just combined. The dough will be very sticky. Add a little additional flour if needed to make it cohesive.

2. Divide it into four equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball on a large piece of plastic wrap, gently press into a disk shape, and then enclose in the plastic. Repeat with the other three balls. Refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for 20 minutes.

3. Make the filling by combining 6 Tbsp. of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, ¾ tsp. cinnamon and the pecans. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Rugelach prep

4. Remove one disk from the refrigerator; unwrap and place dough on a floured surface. Gently roll into an approximate 9-inch circle. Spread a generous ½ Tbsp. of the apricot preserves over the dough to about ¼ inch from the edge. Sprinkle evenly with a scant ½ cup of brown-sugar filling and gently press. Cut the circle into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide edge, roll up each triangle. Place the formed pastries seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or freeze for about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Make the topping by combining the 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar and the ½ tsp. cinnamon.

7. Brush each pastry with the egg and milk mixture, and sprinkle lightly with sugar-cinnamon topping. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until well browned. Remove from oven, and let rest on the cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring rugelach to a wire rack. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Rugelach bake

Yield: 48 rugelach

Note: Assembled pastries can be frozen and baked at a later time. Defrost partially before placing in oven, and allow extra time for baking.

Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

  

thanksgivingbreadpud-12

Bread pudding—essentially made from stale bread and custard—originated in England as a poor family’s dessert. Every culture handles its leftovers differently; in Jewish cooking, the most common pudding recipes include kugel and matzo brei. This particular savory version uses eggs and chicken stock for the custard instead of milk, and the bread is seasoned with all the flavors of Thanksgiving. If you don’t have stale bread for this, save your bread ends instead, using a variety of different breads (other than sandwich bread).

thanksgivingbreadpud-5-2

Thanksgiving Dinner Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1-lb. loaf French or Italian bread
  • 4 onions
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground pepper

 

Optional topping:

  • 1 cup potato chips
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

 

thanksgivingbreadpud-1-2

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cube bread into 1-inch pieces. Bake the bread cubes on a baking sheet for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cubes in the oven as it cools.

2. Chop onions and sauté over medium heat with olive oil. Chop the celery into a small dice and toss it in with the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery softens slightly.

3. Add 1 Tbsp. sage into the onion mixture. Over the onion mixture, strip the leaves off of two sprigs of thyme by running your fingers, pinched, along the stem (try the opposite direction if that doesn’t work well). Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and stir until mixed. Take the onion mixture out of the pan and put 1/4 cup in a medium-sized bowl to cool. Put the rest aside in another bowl to cool.

4. Take the bread cubes out of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees again. Toss the bread cubes in with the larger portion of the onion mixture and set aside.

5. Once cool, add the ground turkey into the ¼-cup onion mixture. Separate two eggs, keeping the whites. Add the two egg yolks to the ground turkey. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, brown sugar and 1 Tbsp. sage. Add fresh cranberries and mix together until uniform.

thanksgivingbreadpud-2

6. In the same pan you used for the onions (no need to rinse it!) add vegetable, grapeseed or canola oil. Form small, burger-sized patties with the turkey mixture and fry them over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes a side. They should be browned on the outside and opaque in the middle. Put the patties aside on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to touch, break them into large pieces.

thanksgivingbreadpud-7

7. Toss the patty pieces with the bread cubes and onion mixture. Any juices on the plate can be added to the mixture as well.

8. Add four additional eggs to the two egg whites. Whisk with a fork and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour eggs and chicken stock over the bread-pudding mix. Add the remaining thyme and sage, plus the dried cranberries. The best way to mix it all is with your hands. If the mixture is still fairly dry, add another 1/2 cup of stock.

9. Put 1 tsp. vegetable oil in a 9×13 glass baking dish and grease the dish with a paper towel. Gently lay the mixture into the dish. Pat down lightly. If you have extra mixture, you can bake it separately in a small dish. Bake for 30-45 minutes, uncovered. After 30 minutes, sprinkle the potato-chip mixture on top and continue baking. Serve with roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Serve with some roasted vegetables, green beans or a nice fall salad.

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese

  

bruschetta_mac_and_cheese_holding_650There’s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)—macaroni and cheese. To give you a clue as to just how much I love mac and cheese, for my 30th birthday my husband took me out to a well-known restaurant in Ann Arbor, MI, where I was in graduate school at the time, and ordered a flight of four different kinds of made-to-order mac and cheese. Six years later, I still remember it as one of my most favorite meals.

So when it comes to hosting a vegetarian friend for a Shabbat meal, I see it as an opportunity to embrace my mac and cheese side. I like to get creative and go bananas with mac and cheese. For Sukkot one year, I had some friends over for a mac and cheese bar that included every kind of vegetarian-friendly topping you can think of, and about four different kinds of hot sauces. It was awesome! But when I want to bring out a showstopper, the recipe below is the one I go for. The balsamic vinegar pairs perfectly with the cheeses that have been kissed with a hint of mustard. Plus you can never go wrong with a beautiful, colorful topping like tomatoes, basil and Parmesan. And if your kids don’t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the “untouched” pasta on the side. Everyone wins!

Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

Mac and Cheese

  • 13 oz. rotini pasta or other small pasta shapes
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper

Bruschetta Topping

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Roughly 8 whole basil leaves, finely chopped (or chiffonade)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 Bruschetta Topping

1. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil and salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.

Mac and Cheese

1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

3. Remove saucepan from the heat, and by the handful stir in the cheeses, allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard and salt. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

4. Once complete, either spoon all of your mac and cheese into a serving dish and serve with artfully placed bruschetta topping (this is what I recommend for the wow factor!) or spoon into individual bowls and add toppings.

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Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl

  

Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl

My first introduction to Shakshuka was several years ago when my local and new favorite café, Sofra, a Turkish coffee shop started serving it. If you want to make or try their traditional version, you can find their recipe here. This Shakshuka takes this popular mishmash of an Israeli breakfast and throws in some flavors of the American South.  If you have time, I recommend making it with collard greens. However, this version has spinach as the greens to save on time. The addition of yams to the tomato sauce gives it a slight Southern sweetness and richness that is perfect for the colder fall and winter mornings. The remoulade drizzle also adds a taste of the South and you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like.

Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl
(Serves 4 can be doubled or halved. )

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, divided
  • 1 green pepper, divided
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Tabasco Sauce, divided – quantity to taste
  • 2 tsp. of pickle juice
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 small yams
  • 3 Tbsp. of grape seed or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. of Kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pinch of smoked salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. of your favorite spice (thyme, Creole spice mix, old bay seasoning or oregano)
  • 8-12 cups of fresh spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 4 cups of tomato purée, or diced tomatoes (For a smoother sauce, use the purée.)
  • 4 slices of fresh tomato
  • 1 can of ready to bake biscuits or try this recipe to make your own.
  • 4 eggs

 

Buttermilk biscuits from scratch only take minutes to prepare.

Buttermilk biscuits from scratch only take minutes to prepare.

Directions:

1. Bake your biscuits as directed on the package or make some quick and easy Southern biscuits from scratch.

2. The Southern drizzle is a remoulade sauce made with sour cream and mayonnaise. In a blender, add 1/4 of a small yellow onion roughly chopped, 1/8 of your green pepper, 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup, 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard, 1 clove of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, 2 tsp. of pickle juice and a 1/2 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream. Blend until smooth and put in the refrigerator to chill.tiny yam croutons

3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, cut a yam in half and slice four thin slices off the middle of the yam, about 1/8 inch thick, and pat them dry. Heat 3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a small sauté or saucepan. Thinly slice and cube your four yam slices to make mini croutons. Once the oil is hot enough that it starts to ripple, toss in the cubed yams and cook until golden over medium high heat. Remove the crispy yams and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour out half the oil from the pan. Dice and sauté the rest of the onion and green pepper over medium low heat just until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Remove the onions and green peppers with a slotted spoon and place into an oven safe pan or dish. You can use a small cast iron pan or a baking dish.

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4. Without cleaning the pan, toss in your 8-12 cups of washed and trimmed spinach and cook until wilted. Remove and sprinkle with smoked salt. You can use regular salt here if you like, but the smokey flavor adds a little extra Southern flare. If you have time to prepare collard greens instead of spinach, just replace the sour cream above with all mayonnaise.

5. Grate the rest of your yams and add them to the pan. Pour in the 4 cups of tomato purée. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens a little. Once the grated yams are very soft, pour the mixture over your onions and peppers.

6. Crack all four eggs into your dish, or spoon the tomato and vegetable mixture into individual dishes and crack one egg in each dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the egg is just set. Ideally, you want the yolk runny.

7. Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle each slice of fresh tomato lightly with salt and pepper. Split your biscuits and slide a slice of tomato in the middle of each one. Add the spinach to the dish next to your eggs and toss the yam croutons over the dish. Drizzle the Southern sauce over the eggs and spinach, add a few extra dashes of Tabasco and serve.

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