Honey Zimsterne “Star” Cookies


Holiday zimsterne cookiesFood pathways show the influence on recipes from region to region and neighbor to neighbor. In Germany, a recipe for gingerbread men was adapted and adopted by Eastern European Jews to make Zimsterne, or “star” cookies to be served at the end of Shabbat after Havdalah services. Containing the spices found in the Bisomim box used during the close of Shabbat service, the symbolism was to take the sweetness of Shabbat with you into the coming week.

With the holiday season coming up and relatives visiting, this cookie is the perfect bridge between Jewish tradition and Christmas cookie baking. Everyone will enjoy the treat and you can share two celebrations with all family members at one time. Best of all, everyone can help make these soft spice cookies or, you can make them in advance. They keep very well in an airtight container and their flavor gets better, as all spice cookies do, with age.

Happy holidays!




Zimsterne Cookies

Makes 4 or more dozen depending on size of cookie


ingredients4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup honey

5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

Confectioner’s sugar for rolling out dough

Decorative Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. milk


1.   Cream the butter and the sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture gets lighter in color. Beat in the honey.

2.  Combine the baking soda and spices with 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.

3.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining 4 cups of flour, mixing well to form a thick dough. If your mixer is powerful, use it to add the reserved cup of flour and spices until well combined. If not, stir the remaining flour into the dough by hand. Make sure that the mixture is thoroughly combined.

4.  Pat dough into a flat round and place in a plastic storage bag or airtight container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm and easy to handle.

Cutting cookies

star cookie cutter5.  Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly dust a pastry board with some confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out on the board to ¼ inch thickness.

6.  Cut the dough into star shapes using a cookie cutter, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the icing.


To make the icing:

How to make icing

1.  Place the cup of confectioner’s sugar in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in some more milk until the mixture resembles mayonnaise in consistency.

Iced zimsterne cookies2.  Using a pastry brush, brush the icing over the tops of the warm cookies and let sit at room temperature until the cookies are cool and the icing is dry and no longer sticky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze until later use.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Children love to cut out cookies and transfer them to the cookie sheet. A trick to prevent the dough from dragging on the spatula and losing its shape is to rub a scrap of dough on the spatula and then dip the spatula in some of the confectioner’s sugar before you transfer the cookie onto the baking sheet.


  • Using a rolling pin is often challenging for young hands. However, rolling pin bands of varying thickness are sold that fit on the ends of the rolling pin to ensure the dough isn’t rolled unevenly.



Jewish-Italian Inspired Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes for Hanukkah


Recipe courtesy of Marcia A. Friedman from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life. Win a copy of her cookbook here!

Photos copyright Marcia A. Friedman

Ricotta pancakes for Hanukkah

One of my favorite foods from my “adopted” Jewish heritage has to be potato latkes, particularly my husband’s. It’s a family recipe lovingly passed down and painstakingly recreated (down to the fingers bloodied from hand-grating the potatoes) for generations. The recipe is special not only because it produces exquisite little crispy pancakes but also because it connects us to family history. Although I enjoy experimenting with recipes—especially those that unite Jewish culinary traditions with those of my Italian background—I haven’t been able to bring myself to experiment with the beloved potato latkes.

But when I discovered that the very first latkes were cheese pancakes, well, that provided motivation for some new recipes. Those early latkes came to be when Italy’s Jews adopted ricotta pancakes as a Hanukkah dish. Those creamy cakes, sitting squarely at an intersection of Jewish and Italian cuisine, could be something to experiment with and make my own.

Finding these connections enhances how I enjoy this simple winter holiday, which I first got to know after converting to Judaism. In contrast to Christmas, Hanukkah takes a quieter approach, an aspect I’ve come to greatly appreciate. Each night offers a little moment of peace as we light an additional candle to commemorate the historic rededication of the Jewish temple—when a small vial of precious olive oil provided light for eight nights.

Each night also offers an opportunity for fantastic food, given that the traditions evolved to incorporate foods fried in oil. But as if eight nights of fried foods wasn’t enough, there’s also a tradition of dairy dishes. This comes by way of an associated holiday story in which Judith infiltrated the enemy camp, used salty cheese to make the enemy leader so thirsty he got drunk on wine, and then killed him when he passed out. So some say the miracle was done (or greatly helped) through milk.

These food themes merge delightfully with Italian ricotta pancakes, fried ever so lightly on the griddle. And besides pulling from Italian and Jewish traditions, the recipe adopts the style of modern American pancakes or hotcakes. But it tastes so much better thanks to ricotta and lemon zest and the airiness of whipped egg whites.

My lemon-ricotta pancakes blend the frying and the dairy themes, but more important to me, they represent a marriage of evolving Italian, Jewish, and American food traditions that works in its own unique way to connect us to Hanukkahs past and present. By its nature, the dish welcomes all to the table, and, in so doing, I’d like to think makes all our holidays a little brighter. And it leaves plenty of room for those potato latkes.

These luscious pancakes made with ricotta, a cheese of Italian origin, should be made ahead—really. Reheating in the oven mellows the cheese and lemon flavor and perfects the texture so that a slightly crispy exterior gives way to a creamy interior. I love serving these as a “sandwich” with cream spiked with limoncello, a lemon-flavored liqueur originating from the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. The short stack makes a beautiful and appetizing presentation—especially for dairy-focused celebrations such as Hanukkah or Shavuot.

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Limoncello Cream

The hot pancakes work beautifully as a short stack with a dollop of limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur) whipped cream in the middle. A few blueberries scattered about add flavor and that blue color so festive for the holiday. If you are cooking with children, omit the limoncello from the whipped cream, and let kids help make the pancake “sandwiches” and decorate with the berries. These beautiful stacks can be breakfast but I prefer them as dessert. No matter what, just be sure to serve them right away.

Makes 20 to 22 small pancakes, or 10 or 11 pancake sandwiches (1 to 2 sandwiches per serving)



Ingredients for ricotta pancakes1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

3 large eggs, separated

1½ cups buttermilk

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lemon zest for ricotta pancakes2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)

Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil for greasing the griddle or pan

Limoncello Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream

½ tsp. vanilla extract

3 Tbsp. limoncello

1½ Tbsp. sugar


Fresh blueberries or other berries (optional)


This recipe, I discovered by happy accident, also improves when made in advance. Make the pancakes up to a couple of weeks ahead, freeze them, and then reheat them in the oven and make the whipped cream just before serving. The flavors meld and the exteriors become slightly crispy while their interiors stay creamy and rich. In the true spirit of the holiday, the cook can actually sit down and enjoy this recipe together with everyone.

Beat the egg whites1.  Lightly whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl or on a sheet of wax paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest.

2.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until they hold stiff peaks, about 1 minute.

3.  Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the ricotta mixture and stir until just incorporated (will still be a bit lumpy). Fold in the egg whites until just a few stray streaks of white remain. The batter will be fluffy and lumpy.

Pancakes cooking

4.  Heat a griddle to medium-high and brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Drop ¼ cupfuls of batter onto griddle; spread gently with the back of a spoon to make an approximate 3½-inch circle. Cook until golden brown on both sides and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Pancakes for Hanukkah

5.  Either serve immediately following the steps below, or when pancakes are completely cool, wrap and freeze.

6.  To serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets, placing an ovenproof wire rack on each one. Place frozen pancakes in a single layer on the wire racks and bake until warmed and slightly crispy, rotating pans and turning pancakes halfway through, 16 to 22 minutes.

Limoncello cream for pancakes

7.  Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and limoncello. Beat on high speed. As the cream gains a little volume, sprinkle sugar over, and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.

8.  When pancakes are done, place a generous dollop of whipped cream between two pancakes and top with another spoonful of cream. Scatter fresh berries over top and sides. The cream will start to melt, which is lovely. Serve right away.

Hanukkah ricotta pancakesLearn about Marcia’s other Italian-Jewish cooking ideas with her cookbook, Meatballs and Matzah BallsEnter to win a free copy!


Roasted, Toasted & Fried: A Hanukkah Salad



Let’s face it, the star of any Hanukkah meal is always the latkes. Those crispy, fried, salted potato pancakes could be turned out all night and the plate would always be polished off within minutes.

Whether you dollop apple sauce or slather sour cream on top, latkes don’t quite make a full meal. (For the perfect latke recipe, click here.) This hearty salad is a perfect way to round it out. It can easily be prepped while the latkes are frying or earlier in the day. If your crew is especially hungry, start off with a bowl of matzah ball soup.

Almost every culture has a way of using up stale bread, from Italian panzanellas to Lebanese fatoush salads, from crisped bits of bread at the bottom of a French onion soup to croutons on a garden salad. Inspired by mandel/Shkedei marak, which are mini crackers that Israelis (and Jewish Americans) like to pour in their soup, this fall salad has sweet potato mandel. Mandel are used like New England’s oyster crackers, but they are much smaller in size.


Hanukkah Salad with Delicata Squash & Baby Spinach

This salad serves four people as a main dish to be served with latkes. It can serve 6-8 as a side salad.


  • 1 5oz container of pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 delicata squash
  • 12 medium Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme (8-9 sprigs)
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/4 tsp. Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp. of honey
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of light cream or half & half
  • Kosher salt & sea salt (for the blanching water)
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, pistachios or pine nuts (optional)



The beauty of delicata squash is that it does not have to be peeled. The skin is tender and when it is roasted it is just perfect for a hearty addition to a salad.


1.  Preheat a toaster oven or oven to 425° F. Put a medium sized pot of water on the stove to boil. Salt the water well (3-5 tsp. of sea salt or Kosher salt). Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice water leaving room for the Brussels sprouts when they come out of the blanching pot.blanching Brussels sprouts Brussels sprouts

2.  While the water is boiling, prep your Brussels sprouts. Remove a few of the outer leaves of the Brussels Sprouts until you get to the clean, fresh leaf. Cut large ones in half and smaller ones can be left whole. Do not remove the stem or core yet.

3.  Put the clean Brussels sprouts into the boiling, salted water for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Brussels sprouts and plunge them into the ice water. Keep the blanching water for later. Cut larger Brussels sprouts in half. Remove the bottom stem from the tiny ones and you can core the larger sprouts by cutting a small ‘v’ in the bottom just above the stem.

Clean your squash for Hanukkah salad

Keep the seeds to be roasted. They make a delicious garnish for the salad and with a honey Sriracha glaze add a nice sweet and spicy crunch as well.

4.  Wash and slice the delicata squash, skin and all, and carefully remove the seeds and pulp. Keep the seeds in a bowl to be roasted.

Slice your delicata squash

Roast your vegetables

5.  On a foil-lined tray, drizzle 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Place the slices of squash and the Brussels sprouts on the tray. Drizzle the other 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt, three sprigs of thyme and 1/2 tsp. of pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

6.  While the squash is roasting, peel the sweet potato and cut it into pea-sized cubes. Place the cubes into a bowl of water. Bring the blanching water back to a boil and prepare another bowl of ice water. Blanch the sweet potato cubes for 2 minutes and then submerge in ice water. With a slotted spoon remove the sweet potato cubes from the ice water and let them dry on a dish towel.


Diced sweet potato

The sweet potato cubes dry out before they get fried into little crouton-like mandel.

Thyme, onion & lemon7.  Prepare your salad dressing. Mince 1 shallot and place in a jar. Add 1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. of Kosher salt, 1/2 cup of light cream and the leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme. Shake the jar and place it in the fridge until the rest of the salad is assembled.

8.  Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and let them come to room temperature. Leave the oven on. Then, add canola oil to a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once a drop of water dances on top of the oil, it is ready. Carefully pour in the dried sweet potato cubes and let them brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the sweet potato mandel and sprinkle them with salt.

9.  Wash and dry the delicata squash seeds. In the hot sweet potato oil, add the leaves from 3 more sprigs of thyme. (Be careful: They will splatter a little.) Toss in the dry squash seeds and stir. Roast the seeds on a tray in the oven for 5-8 minutes until golden. In a small bowl, mix the Sriracha and honey. Toss the seeds in the honey/Sriracha mix and then return to the tray to roast for 2-3 more minutes. Watch these as they can burn quickly.

10.  In a bowl, add your spinach and top with the sweet potato mandel, roasted squash and Brussels sprouts. If you would like to add nuts, you can toast them in a dry pan and then sprinkle them over the salad once cooled. With the carrot on a cutting board with a lot of pressure on the peeler, peel strips of carrot and sprinkle them over the salad. Top with the roasted squash seeds and serve with the creamy lemon thyme dressing.

Happy Hanukkah!


The Right Way to Make Potato Latkes


Perfect potato latkesIf you have just been asked to make the latkes for your child’s classroom during Hanukkah or the family thinks that you should be in charge of making the potato latkes for the first time, do not despair! I promise you this year you will make the best latkes you, or anyone else has ever had (and that was a quote from the head rabbi of the URJ after he thanked me for my “Tina’s Tidbits”!).

Although there are many stories associated with the triumph of the Maccabees and the redemption of the Holy Temple from the hands of the Syrian armies of Antiochus, the story of the one sealed bottle of oil for the Ner Tamid (everlasting light) in the Temple that lasted for eight days instead of one has been the foundation for traditional holiday cooking. Foods fried in oil have become synonymous with Hanukkah celebrations, especially in Europe.

However, most people do not know that potato latkes (pancakes) were created in the late 1700s and really didn’t take on the symbolism until the early 1800s when potatoes were readily available and raised geese were harvested for their meat and oil at the same time that the holiday was celebrated.

The following recipe, if followed step by step, will be easy to make (no peeling potatoes!), will NOT turn black, and will be crisp and fluffy, not thin and greasy.

One last tip: NEVER refrigerate latkes! Either leave them at room temperature until ready to serve in the evening, or freeze them. Either way, reheat the latkes for 7-10 minutes in a 425°F oven just until they are bubbly and crisp. Your family will praise you and your in-laws will be proud of you (and a little jealous!!!).

Potato Latkes


latke ingredients

  • 6-8 large thin-skinned potatoes; California long whites or Yukon Gold
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup matzo or cracker meal
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • Oil for frying





Watch a video fo Tina making these latkes with applesauce


1.  Grate the raw potatoes using the large grating disk on a processor or the largest holes on a grater if doing it by hand. Place grated potato in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain while you grate the onion.

2.  Combine eggs, salt, pepper and matzo meal in a 3-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly.

3.  Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add onions to the work bowl. Pulse on and off 5 times. Add ¼ of the grated potatoes to the onion and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

rinsing potatoes for latkesLatke mixture












4.  Add the drained potatoes to the bowl and mix thoroughly using a large spoon or your hands.

5.  Heat a large frying pan or large skillet for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat for an additional 20 seconds. Drop mounds of potato mixture into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Drain fried latkes on a platter covered with crumpled paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

See part two of Tina’s video tutorial

fried and frying latkes








The Knish of Plenty: A Thanksgiving (Leftovers) Knish


Thanksgiving feast in a knish.

Thanksgiving is a North American tradition that falls just at the end of the great harvest before the soil freezes and goes dormant for the winter. It is a meal that tells tales of the Native Americans who owned the soil and the Puritan immigrants who were looking for new soil from which to harvest meals and on which to live more freely. While each family has their own must haves on the table and Thanksgiving traditions (Football or Charlie Brown on TV), one thing that holds true for just about every family is that there will be leftovers.

If you look for some history on the knish, most routes point to Brooklyn, NY, but their heritage goes all the back to “the old country” in Poland. Traditionally a knish is filled with potatoes mashed with onions and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). There are also kasha knishes (buckwheat), and the sweet cheese knish. My knish takes your Thanksgiving leftovers and puts them in a wonderful little package that can be enjoyed right away or frozen to nosh (snack) on later when you’re craving a little taste of Thanksgiving.

Note: This recipe uses a dairy free stuffing in order to keep the recipe Kosher. The gravy is also dairy free and is thickened with the schmaltz from the turkey gravy: When you separate the fat from the gravy, chill it and use it to make your flour slurry to thicken the gravy. 

Thanksgiving Knishes
(makes 24 full size knishes)


  • 4 cups of leftover stuffing
  • 3 cups of cubed leftover turkey
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • salt for finishing (I like to use Maldon sea salt or a French flaky salt, but Kosher salt is OK too)
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • gravy
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cranberry sauce
  • roasted onions, shallots, carrots, Brussels sprouts (whatever vegetables you have leftover), to get 1 cup of thinly sliced vegetables
Sage leaves waiting to be fried crisp for the knish dough and the garnish.

Sage leaves waiting to be fried crisp for the knish dough and the garnish.

Sage Warm Water Knish Dough Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of sage leaves (20-40 leaves of all sizes)
  •  1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water for an egg wash



1.  Begin by making the fried sage leaves. You will need to make sure your leaves are completely dry before starting. Have a plate with a paper towel on it nearby and a slotted spoon. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/4 cup of canola oil over medium heat in a small pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the oil is hot (if you splash a drop of water on it, it dances about and sizzles), with the lid in one hand, carefully toss in 1/4 of your sage leaves and immediately place the lid on top of the pot. The leaves will sizzle furiously. Once the sizzling stops, gently give the leaves one last stir and then carefully remove them and place them on the paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the leaves in 3 more batches.

2.  Set the prettiest leaves aside as a garnish. The rest you will break into your dough.

3.  Set the sage oil aside and let it cool.

4.  In a food processor, with the steel knife, process the eggs, the 1/2 cup of cooled sage oil, and warm water for 5 seconds or until mixed.

5.  Add to the egg mixture: salt, baking powder and flour. Process with 2-3 on/off pulses. Then crumble in the sage leaves. Process everything until just blended through.

Knish dough mixture

In just a few seconds this mixture comes together into a beautiful knish dough. It is slightly sticky but easy to work with after it rests

6.  Add a small handful of flour to a bowl just to coat. Put the sticky knish dough into the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes while you prep your fillings.

The stuffing before the additional broth is added.

You can see here how mashed the stuffing gets.  It becomes more like a soft mashed potato texture than a stuffing texture.

You can see here in the top bowl how mashed the stuffing gets. It becomes more like a soft mashed potato texture than a stuffing texture. The bottom bowl holds the knish dough as it rests.

7.  Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a baking sheet with canola oil or some sort of oil spray.

8.  Add 1/2 cup of stock and 2 tsp of pepper to your stuffing and mash it all together with a fork so you have a very soft mashed stuffing. If your stuffing is very dry you can add a little more. If you have a very soft stuffing you may need a little less.

9.  Cube your turkey. You can do a mix of dark and light meat.

10.  Add the zest of one lemon to your cranberry sauce.



Rolled out knish dough

Knish dough waiting to be filled


1.  Now it is time to assemble. Divide your dough into four sections. Each section will be divided into six balls of dough for a total of 24. Working with one section at a time, make six balls of dough. On a floured counter or cutting board, roll out one dough ball at a time as thinly as possible. The dough will almost be see-through. Make sure you have no holes. If you have a hole, ball it up and start again.

Unbaked knishes

Knishes ready for an egg wash and to be popped into the oven

2.  Take your rectangle of dough and add in a tablespoon or so each of turkey and stuffing. Add in a few slices of vegetables and a 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Adjust amount of filling to fit inside the dough. After the first one, you will have a good sense of how much is too much.

3.  Carefully stretch the dough over the top of the stuffing pulling one side at a time over and layering them on top of one another. Then, flip the knish over so the seam is on the bottom and place it on the greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. I like to bake 6 at a time, but you can do more if you like.

4.  Blend your egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the knishes with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake the knishes for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

To serve, garnish with a fried sage leaf, warm up some gravy and serve with a side of cranberry sauce. Enjoy your gourmet leftovers!

Thanksgiving knish ready to be enjoyed.


English Cottage Pie with Flanken Short Ribs


Shepherd’s pie is an old English, Irish and Scottish peasant food. It’s traditionally made with minced lamb and is topped with mashed potatoes. An earlier version of this dish is known as cottage pie. Cottage pie was typically made with ground beef. Whether it’s cottage pie or shepherd’s pie the essentials are potatoes and an inexpensive cut of meat.

English cottage pie

This version fuses cultures, inviting a Jewish flair by using flanken cut beef short ribs rather than ground beef. Flanken is a Yiddish word for the cut of meat that goes across the bone so the meat is in strips wrapped around sections of bone rather than lying along the bone. This is a tough, typically undesirable cut of meat, which is why it was easily available, and, like so many peasant foods, is absolutely delicious if treated just right.

Flanken would have been used for cholent and stews that could sit for hours on the stove to be enjoyed during Shabbat or for the holidays. Although this recipe does take a little time, it doesn’t take hours. It is quick to prepare and slow to cook, which is perfect for a cool fall day.

Cottage pie with flanken short ribs

English Cottage Pie with Yiddish Flanken Cut Short Ribs


  • 4 flanked cut short ribs 2 in. thick
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 medium/large yukon potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 1 – 1 1/2  cups of rice milk, stock or water
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 350° F. flanken

2.  Pat the flanked short ribs dry with a paper towel. Then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of salt. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. of olive oil into a dutch oven or a frying pan. If you are using a dutch oven or oven-safe pan with a lid you can make this all in one pot. If you do not have a dutch oven you can transfer the meat to a roasting pan once it has browned. Brown the short ribs on high/medium high on both sides.

3.  While the meat is browning, wash and trim cauliflower. Remove core and slice in half. Wash potatoes and wipe dry. Cut root side off of the head of garlic. Pour 1/8 of a cup of olive oil over the potatoes, garlic and cauliflower and rub with oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of salt over the vegetables and place them together in a separate roasting pan.


Add the wine4.  If you are using a roasting pan for your meat as well, transfer the browned ribs to the pan now. Deglaze your frying pan with 1 1/2 cups of red wine then pour that into the roasting pan as well. If you are using a dutch oven, just add the wine to the dutch oven and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste and cover with a lid or heavy duty tin foil.

5.  Place everything in the oven for 90 minutes. Be prepared to check the vegetables within an hour. If they are still hard, you can add a few tablespoons of water to the roasting pan.

6.  After 90 minutes, carefully remove the dishes from the oven. Check that the potatoes and cauliflower are tender and there is no resistance when a knife is inserted into either. Remove the bones from the flanken cut short ribs. They should pop out with a spoon or fork. The meat should be very tender. After removing the bones, put the meat back in the oven with the lid on for another 30 minutes while you prepare the mash.cauliflower

7.  In a food processor or blender puree the roasted garlic, cauliflower and 1 cup of water, stock or rice milk. You want a smooth texture. If the puree is too thick (like mashed potatoes) add a little more liquid until the puree is more like a thin applesauce. Slice the potatoes (if you prefer no skin, remove the potato skins as soon as the potatoes are cool enough to touch). Drizzle 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil over the potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Mash in 1/2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of freshly ground pepper. Next, stir the cauliflower mash into the mashed potatoes.

8.  Take the ribs out of the oven and carefully take out the meat one rib or piece at a time.  With two forks, shred the meat. As you shred the meat remove the pieces of cartilage that can be found near where the bones were. Once you have shredded all the meat, scoop out the tomato paste that is left in the pan and mix it with the shredded meat. Add two cups of (defrosted) frozen peas to the shredded meat and stir together.

9.  Layer the meat into a baking dish or deep dish pie plate. Then add a thick layer of the mash until the meat is all sealed in below.Adding the potatoes

10.  You can sprinkle the potato with paprika for color if you like. Take a teaspoonful of the rendered fat from the short ribs and drizzle it over the potatoes. Cover the shepherd’s pie with tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.finished product

The pie can be prepared (steps 1-9) and frozen or left overnight in the fridge and then cooked the following day.

Let us know what you thought of the recipe and share your own photos on Instagram!

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cazuela for Sukkot


SweetPotatoCazuelaSukkot is synonymous with fall fruits and vegetables which are often used to decorate the sukkah. No specific foods are required but using the abundance of our local harvest replicates the Israelites bringing some of the bounty of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Making the long trek to the city, the travelers dwelled in temporary huts, or sukkahs, at the base of the Jerusalem hills.

It is customary to sleep and eat in the sukkah for eight days. In many climates this is not advisable, but eating in the temporary hut that has a lattice roof through which to view the stars was mandated in the Talmud on this holiday. Mandate aside, it is customary to invite friends and family to partake of a meal in your own sukkah (or to visit friends who have built one).

Dishes that are easily transported from your kitchen to the table outside are preferred and, of course, including nature’s fall produce is a must. Here is a side dish that can be made dairy with butter or parve (no milk or meat products) if anyone in your sukkah keeps kosher. It is Caribbean in origin, an area of the world where many Jews settled 400 years ago. You can, of course, bake your own sweet potatoes and small pie pumpkin to mash for this sweet potato pumpkin cazuela, but to save time and even allow your young children to help you make this recipe I call for canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes in light or no syrup.

One word of warning: This dish is so very delicious that I would double or triple the ingredients if you are making it for more than four people. And don’t forget Thanksgiving. But, please, hold the marshmallows—this is not a dessert, but could be served with any number of other dishes.

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cazuela

Cazuela ingredientsIngredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5.6 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
  • 1 29-ounce can of yams in light syrup, drained and mashed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2-inch stick of cinnamon broken into pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 3 whole cloves



1.  Place the butter or coconut oil in a 2-quart Pyrex bowl and microwave for 45 seconds.

2.  Whisk the sugars, flour and salt into the butter to combine.

3.  Whisk the coconut milk into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Add the eggs and combine.

4.  Add the pumpkin puree and the mashed yams and whisk until a smooth batter is formed.

Spices and pumpkin puree

Pumpkin cazuela5.  Combine the water with the spices in a small glass cup and microwave for 3 ½ minutes. Let the spices steep for 5 minutes. Strain the spiced water through a fine mesh strainer into the pumpkin-potato mixture and stir to incorporate.

7.  Butter a 2-quart casserole and pour the mixture into the prepared dish.

8.  Bake covered in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 1 hour. Serve hot out of the oven or reheated warm or hot.

Happy Sukkot!


Sugar pie pumpkins are about 1 ½ pounds and very rounded. Always use them when a recipe calls for cooked pumpkin. Larger pumpkins are more watery.

Coconut milk is not milk or dairy. It is the liquid formed from ground, fresh, hydrated coconut.

Traditional Rosh Hashanah Teiglach


TTEIGLACHeiglach is an eastern European confection most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah. It was often served for festive occasions such as a wedding, bar mitzvah or bris and in some communities during Shavuot or Simchat Torah because Torah is often equated with honey.

Teig in Yiddish means dough and Lach at the end of a word signifies small. Therefore Teiglach are little balls of baked dough submerged in honey syrup and then mixed with dried or candied cherries or raisins and some nuts (usually almond or hazelnut).

Once readily available in bakeries in large Jewish communities throughout North America, this confection is rapidly disappearing, so whether you were raised Jewish or not, this treat may be new to you. Not to worry if your own family doesn’t have the recipe; Teiglach is easy to make!

Even small children can help make the dough because no electric equipment is required and children enjoy rolling the dough into “snakes” while you can rapidly complete the task. However, children MUST NOT be involved with making the honey syrup, as the high temperature will certainly burn them if they accidentally touch the syrup before it cools. They can watch from afar and measure the awaiting dried fruit and nuts, but an adult must work alone while making the syrup and mixing all of the ingredients together.

The Teiglach may be served in a large pyramid or a few coated balls spooned into little paper cups. It is meant to be eaten with the fingers, pulling the balls off one by one and definitely licking one’s fingers afterwards!

L’Shanah Tova!


Ingredients:Teiglach Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound wildflower honey (any honey is O.K. but wildflower is the best)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 piece of orange zest 2″ long 1/2 inch wide
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup candied cherries or raisins



1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the eggs, oil, water and vanilla and beat with a fork or whisk until light and combined. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, ginger and baking powder.

3.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well combined.

Teiglach adding egg mixture

knead the dough4.  Knead with your hands for a few minutes until dough is smooth and shiny. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

5.  Roll out small balls of dough into long 1/2-inch wide snakes and cut into 1/3 inch pieces. Roll dough pieces briefly in your hands to make balls and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely or freeze until later use.

6.  When you are ready to complete recipe, combine the honey, sugar, orange zest and ginger in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the teiglach balls, nuts and cherries or raisins to the honey mixture and stir to coat well. Place in a pie plate or individual tart tins mounded to form a pyramid.




Teiglach Syrup boiling

Teiglach Syrup cooking


IMG_0509IMG_0508Teiglach finished

Apples & Honey Pastrami Hash for a Sweet New Year


Hash with egg

In New England, beets give red flannel hash its sweetness and beautiful pink color. The sweet beets contrast with the salty meat (usually leftover corned beef). This recipe uses apples and honey for sweetness. Instead of the traditional Irish corned beef, the meat in this recipe is a Jewish deli staple: Pastrami. Apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah are usually enjoyed at the end of a meal in a sweet treat like honey cake, or served simply for dipping apples into honey. This twist lets you start your day with some apples and honey for a hearty breakfast.

Apples and Honey Pastrami Hash
Serves 4



  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 small apples
    (Use an apple like Granny Smith or Golden Delicious that will keep its shape. I used fresh Jersey Mac apples.)
  • 1/2 a Spanish onion
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of peeled diced potatoes
    (I used 8 small red potatoes)
  • 1/4 lb of pastrami cut in one thick piece
    (Ask the person at the deli to cut one piece 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, not sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp. of honey
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cinnamon and cayenne (optional)



1.  Start by prepping the ingredients. You will want a bowl with salt and water for the diced potatoes and a bowl with juice of 1/2 the lemon and water for the apples. Peel the potatoes and then slice and dice them into a small dice until you have 2 cups of potatoes. Place the diced potatoes into the salted water.

potatoes and apples

potatoes on towel2.  Peel and slice your apples the same way. Put the apples into the acidulated water (the lemon water). In a pan, heat 1 Tbsp. of the canola oil. While the oil heats up, drain the potatoes and dry them on a kitchen towel. Toss the potatoes into the pan and stir to coat with oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until browned.


3.  While the potatoes brown, dice 1/2 of the onion. Once the potatoes are browned, set them aside in a bowl. Add a little more oil to the pan (2-3 tsp.) and toss in the diced onions. Cook over medium-low heat.

drain the apples

4.  Drain the apples. Once the onions start to become transluscent, add the apples. Cook for a few minutes together, then add 1 generous tablespoon of honey. Stir and cook together until the apples are soft but keep their shape. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set the apple, honey and onion mixture aside in a bowl and wash the pan or wipe it down so you don’t burn the honey that is left behind.

diced pastrami5.  Dice the pastrami to a small dice, the same size as the potatoes and apples. Add 2-3 tsp. of oil to your pan. Brown the diced pastrami. Once the pastrami has browned on all sides (or close enough), toss in the potatoes and the apple mixture. Season the entire hash with some salt and pepper. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne if you want another level of spice.

6.  If you have been using a cast iron pan, you can put the entire pan in the oven to keep it warm while you fry up the eggs. I think sunny side up eggs are the best way to top the hash, but it can be topped with an egg any way your family likes them. Put the hash on four plates, then top with an egg, sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the egg, and serve.

Have a sweet new year!

pastrami hash from above

Farmer’s Market Pizza: Sweet & Savory


farmer's market pizzas

These farmer’s market pizzas take some of the most beautiful gems from the day’s trip to the market and highlight them for dinner. On a hot day, the pizzas can be made with just the toaster oven and on the grill to keep the house nice and cool. Zucchini is plentiful this time of year so, I took the traditional Southern Italian practice of drying zucchini and modified it to get all of the concentrated flavor without the hours of drying. The twist for these pizzas, especially the sweet one, is that they are white pizzas inspired by a classic Jewish treat: the blintz.

Farmer’s Market Pizza
Makes two small/medium savory pizzas and two small/medium sweet pizzas

carrots at the farmer's marketIngredients:

  • 2 pizza doughs from the refrigerator section of your local pizzeria or grocery store

Savory Ingredients:

  • 1 package (7 1/2 oz) of farmer’s cheese
    (You can use ricotta if you cannot find farmer’s cheese)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tsp. of Canola oil
  • 2-3 medium sized zucchini (or any other delicious veggies you find)
  • Kosher salt
  • dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP of olive oil
  • black pepper


Fruit at farmer's marketSweet Ingredients:

  • 1 package (7 1/2 oz) of farmer’s cheese
    (You can use ricotta if you cannot find farmer’s cheese)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. of mascarpone cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
  • 1 pint of blueberries
    (Use any other seasonal fruit that strikes your fancy
    such as cherries, raspberries, peaches or nectarines)
  • powdered sugar for serving



Savory Pizza with Dried Zucchini

Finished pizza

zucchini1.  To dry the zucchini, first wash and slice it into 1/8 inch slices. Then line a baking pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle some Kosher salt over the paper and lay the zucchini over the salt. Sprinkle the top of the zucchini with salt as well. Let the zucchini rest in the salt for at least 30 minutes.

2.  After 30 minutes, preheat your oven or toaster oven to 150° F. Rinse the zucchini slices well under a running tap and place them on a clean kitchen towel to pat dry. Then, place the zucchini on a tray covered with tin foil and let it dry out in the oven for about two hours. If you are short on time, you can raise the oven temperature a bit and let the zucchini dry out for a shorter time.

dried zucchini

3.  Once the zucchini are fairly dry, almost rubbery in texture, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle a teaspoon of dried oregano over them. Do NOT add salt, but do grind fresh pepper over the zucchini to taste.

4.  Preheat your grill to high or preheat your oven to 450° F. Split your dough in half and create two oblong pizzas on oiled heavy-duty tin foil or on an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You can use a spray oil but I prefer to put a teaspoon of Canola oil on the foil and spread it with my hands or a paper towel. Partially bake the dough. This should take 10 minutes or so.

5.  Remove the partially baked dough and prepare your cheese.

Parmesan cheese

6.  In a bowl, add the 7 1/2 oz of farmers cheese, squeeze 4 cloves of farmer’s market garlic through a garlic press (or mince), add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and then grate 4-6 Tbsp. of Parmesan to taste. Mix until uniform.

7.  Spread the cheese on the two pizza crusts and then carefully arrange the zucchini slices over the cheese. Place back on the grill or in the oven until the cheese is heated through. Slice and serve.

Note: This pizza can be topped with any kind of squash, onions or other fabulous vegetables you find at the farmer’s market. Just prepare the vegetables by cooking them partially first in the oven or on the grill, then assemble the pizzas, heat and serve.


Sweet Farmer’s Market Blueberry Blintz Pizza

Serving of blueberry pizza

1.  Prepare the dough as above, but before placing it to cook, brush water over the top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar.

2.  Preheat your grill to high or preheat your oven to 450° F. Split your dough in half and create two round pizzas on oiled heavy-duty tin foil or on an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You can use a spray oil but I prefer to put a teaspoon of Canola oil on the foil and spread it with my hands or a paper towel. Partially bake the dough. This should take 10 minutes or so.

Farmer's cheese

Drain the blueberries3.  In a bowl, mix the farmer’s cheese, the zest of 1/2 of the lemon, mascarpone cheese and granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it).


4.  Top the partially cooked pizza crusts with the cheese mixture and return to the grill or oven until the cheese begins to melt slightly and is heated through.


5.  Take the pizza off of the heat and top with fresh blueberries. Sprinkle the entire pizza with a dusting of powdered sugar and finish with a little bit more lemon zest.

Closeup of blueberry pizza

Note: This pizza can be topped with pitted and sliced cherries, fresh berries and stone fruit that is not too juicy. If you are using stone fruit, I recommend grilling the stone fruit halves separately first and then slicing before topping the pizza.