Black + White Creamsicles

  

Aside from the smell of tuna fish, nothing can really transport me to a New York Jewish deli like a black and white cookie. Just the mere sight of of the cookie transports me to a Shabbat luncheon in which I’m elbow-ing the person to the left and right of me (and sometimes behind me) in an attempt to get my hands on the last black and white cookie.

If you’ve ever been to a Yom Kippur break-the-fast or a Shabbat kiddush lunch, you KNOW what I’m talking about. The dessert table is the first table everyone goes for and most certainly, if there is a black and white cookie to be had, it’s the first cookie taken. (Fun fact: Did you know that the black and white cookie isn’t actually a cookie? It’s considered a drop cake. Whatever it is, it’s delicious.) Though folklore tells us that it was quite possibly not invented in NYC, but actually upstate in Ithaca, it’s still been wholly embraced by deli culture.

For me, the black and white cookie represents one of the greatest parts about being Jewish—that Jewish food can be loved and accepted by all, regardless of Jewish affiliation and/or observance level. And while there’s nothing especially “Jewish” about the black and white cookie, one can’t help but think of Jewish culture when eating it (just like brisket or kugel, in my opinion). And so, in this age of increased aggression and polarization toward the other, shouldn’t we all take Jerry Seinfeld’s lead and “look to the cook” … or in this case, the popsicle?! This recipe takes inspiration from a black and white cookie and transforms it with a fun summery twist to create a delicious creamsicle.

Black + White Creamsicle
makes roughly 12 popsicles

Ingredients for the chocolate layer:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural or Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 shot of espresso
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (optional)

 

Directions for chocolate layer:

1. Combine the sugar, espresso, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in just enough of the milk to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining whipping cream.

2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with the whisk—constantly scraping the bottom, sides and corners of the pot—until the mixture begins to bubble a little at the edges. Continue whisking and cooking for two more minutes.

3. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla and scrape the mixture into a glass or silicone pitcher (for immediate filling) or into the bowl to cool. Next, fill your popsicle molds halfway with your chocolate mixture and freeze for at least six hours.

Next, make your vanilla side.

Ingredients for vanilla layer:

  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Directions for vanilla layer:

1. In a bowl, stir together the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the sour cream, milk, cream and vanilla.

2. Take your chocolate popsicles out of the freezer and fill the remaining half with your vanilla side. If your mold has a cover with openings for sticks, cover and insert sticks. Otherwise, freeze until the mixture is thick enough to hold a stick upright and then insert sticks. Freeze until hard, about 4 hours if the mixture was cool, 6 or more hours if hot.

3. Line a tray with wax paper. Fill a container with warm water deep enough to dip the full height of your molds. Dip the mold long enough to release the popsicles when you pull on the stick. Remove and set popsicles on wax paper. Wrap each in a piece of wax paper and/or put them in a resealable plastic freezer bag and return them to the freezer until serving.

Click here for a fun non-dairy popsicle recipe from Whitney!

Key Lime Bars for Shavuot

  

By Mari Levine

I like to call Shavuot the “No meat? No problem!” holiday. When brainstorming a recipe for this post, I learned a lot about the history of this holiday, particularly why we focus on dairy dishes instead of meat. Or, more to the point: What’s with all the blintzes?

What I learned is that Jews are resourceful when they’re hungry. So when we were given the Torah on that fateful Shabbat atop Mount Sinai and instructed to start eating kosher, we didn’t wait until we were allowed to “kasher” our meat and cooking utensils. Instead, we decided to make our first kosher meal a dairy one, using the milk we’d set aside for the animals.

I’m always looking for more opportunities to eat dairy desserts like cheesecake and ice cream, and acknowledging the origin of our religion’s dietary laws is as good a reason as any. Key lime bars are one of my favorite dairy desserts because of their bracing, bright flavor and smooth filling, layered to make a tidy, portable cheesecake. These little squares are so good you’ll want to shout it from the rooftop—or mountaintop, as the case may be.

Key Lime Bars

Makes about 16

Ingredients:

CRUST

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. finely ground graham crackers
  • 5 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • â…“ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt

 

FILLING

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lime zest
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice

 

Directions:

1. FOR THE CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.

2. Combine graham crackers, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine until graham cracker crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to prepared baking pan and press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until deeper in color and dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

3. FOR THE FILLING: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, zest, condensed milk, and yolk. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add lime juice and stir until well combined.

4. Pour filling into crust and use spatula to spread into even layer that reaches to corners of pan. Bake until filling is just set, rotating pan halfway through, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on wire rack, then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

5. Remove from pan, cut into squares, and serve.

Reprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. 

Mari Levine is a freelance food writer and an editor for America’s Test Kitchen, where she combines her journalism and culinary degrees from Brandeis University and Johnson & Wales, respectively, with her restaurant and lifelong eating experience. When she’s not working hoisin sauce into everything she eats or binging on anything sandwiched between two slices of bread, she can be found on her bike, engrossed in a documentary, or playing sports that involve throwing and/or catching a ball (the latest: flag football).

Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

  

I grew up with Easter baskets, but I didn’t grow up “celebrating” Easter by any means. When I visited dad’s house during Easter time, though, my stepmother would have beautiful Easter baskets prepared for my brother, myself and of course, my half-sister. If you follow me on my blog, Jewhungry, then you know I am the product of a Jewish mother and a Christian father. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I was primarily raised by my Jewish mother and I am an observant Jewish woman today. That said, I have so much respect and gratitude for the experiences from the exposure to Christianity that I had growing up. At the time, I would’ve said I had respect for it because of the awesome Easter baskets and Christmas presents. Now, as a grown woman and mother, I have respect for it because it’s part of my heritage and what brought me to where I am today.

While I toyed with the idea of figuring out how to do a Passover basket, I realized it just wouldn’t be the same. Also, I’m not a huge fan of cultural religious appropriation. However, if I were to put anything in a Passover basket, these cute little funfetti bites would be it. Not all nuts are kosher for Passover, but hazelnuts and cashews are definitely kosher. Plus, they pair beautifully with the dates. And what doesn’t look good with rainbow sprinkles? You also don’t actually bake these guys so, win-win!

I was inspired by the vegan goddess that is Dana over at The Minimalist Baker. If you don’t know her stuff, well, I’m just gonna assume you’ve been in a coma for years because that’s the only conceivable reason I could understand for not knowing her.

I hope this dessert brings you and your loved ones sweet holidays. Happy no baking!

 Vegan Funfetti Cheesecake Bites {No-Bake + GF}

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup packed dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt

 

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, quick soaked*
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk (see instructions for note)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or more) rainbow sprinkles

 

Instructions:

1. Add ingredients for the crust into a food processor and process until a loose dough forms – it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. If it’s too dry, add a few more dates through the spout while processing. If too wet, add a few more hazelnuts or almonds.

2. Grease a standard mini muffin tin.

3. Scoop in heaping 1 Tbsp. amounts of crust and press with fingers, making sure to really pack it in there. Set in freezer to firm up.

4. To quick soak cashews, pour boiling hot water over the cashews, soak for 1 hour uncovered, then drain and use as instructed.

5. Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender and mix until very smooth. For the coconut milk, I like to scoop the “cream” off the top because it provides a richer texture. But if yours is already all mixed together, just add it in as is. (Pro tip – Put a can of coconut milk right into the fridge as soon as you get home from the grocery store. This will guarantee you have the ‘cream’ on hand for just such an occasion as making raw cheesecake bites!)

6. Blend all filling ingredients for roughly 1 minute or until silky smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

7. Pour filling into a separate medium size bowl. Add in your sprinkles leaving a handful to the side for sprinkling on top just before freezing.

8. Divide filling evenly among the muffin tins. Tap a few times to release any air bubbles.

9. Evenly disperse the last sprinkles
onto the tops of each cheesecake to create a pretty little topping. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until hard – about 4-6 hours.

10. Once set, remove by running a butter knife along the sides of the crust. They should pop right out. Let sit for a few minutes so you don’t break your teeth on them. Keep in the freezer for up to 1-2 weeks.

This recipe was reprinted with permission from jewhungrytheblog.com

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 120Ëš 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.

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
  • ÂĽ 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
  • ÂĽ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ÂĽ 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 ÂĽ 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, Âľ 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.

Three-Berry Coconut-Almond Milk Popsicles

  

berry popsicles

Ahhhh, summer. The days are long and hot and Shabbat is even longer and hotter. When it comes to prepping for Shabbat in the summer, it’s always nice to have more hours in the day on Fridays. I love having those extra hours to work on a special main course or to enjoy a refreshing homemade margarita (compliments of my sous chef, who also happens to be my husband). But the toss up, of course, is that havdalah doesn’t come in until as late as 9 pm and with a preschooler who wants snacks every 20 minutes and a husband who eats everything in sight, I’ve gotta be prepared with tons of food options on Shabbat. Since I try to curb too much sugar eating, I’ve started having these homemade popsicles on hand for a late afternoon Shabbat treat. They are a BIG hit with the little and big members of my family. They are not overly sweet but lean more to the cool and refreshing genre of popsicles.

Feel free to add a little bit of maple syrup in with your honey if you’re wanting them a bit sweeter. Either way, you’ll feel a lot better for giving your family a tasty, cool treat that is free of refined sugar and food coloring and packed full of healthy goodness. Enjoy!

How to make popsiclesIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixture of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. plus 2 Tbsp. honey
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Directions:

1.  In a small sauce pot, combine berries, water and 3 tablespoons honey. Bring to a boil until liquid is syrupy and thick. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Do not mash the blueberries, keep them as is (it’s prettier).

2.  In a small bowl, whisk in 2 tablespoons of honey, the vanilla, coconut and almond milk.

3.  Fill popsicle molds a little over half full of coconut-almond milk. Spoon in berry mixture to fill the popsicle mold.

4.  Place mold in freezer for 1 hour. Remove molds and insert wooden sticks into each popsicle cavity. Place mold back in the freezer for at least another 4 hours until ice pops are solid.

Finished popsicles

 

Delicious berry popsicle

Sweet Summer Kugel Bites

  

Sweet summer kugel

For summer, we are taking inspiration from the layers of an Italian lasagna as well as the sweetness of kugel. Lasagna is of course a classic Italian dish. Its creamy, rich filling is a perfect comfort food for the chilly days of fall and winter. In Jewish kitchens, noodle kugel (Lokshen Kugel) makes an appearance several times a year. It is a great dairy option for a Yom Kippur break fast and a favorite for Shavuot when we eat dairy.

These mini sweet summer lasagna-kugels let you take the in-season fruits of summer and layer them between a delicious ricotta filling and pasta. They are great served warm with some grilled fruit for a sweet and light meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can be enjoyed straight from the fridge for a little after-camp snack or picnic treat. This can be made as a single dish in a large pan or as individual minis in a muffin tin.

Sweet Summer Mini Kugels

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 lasagna noodles or 6 oz. of wide egg noodles
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta
  • 2 oz. of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups of fruit preserves or a bowl of cherries, a bowl of raspberries and a bowl of apricots (about 2 cups of stewed fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream

 

summer kugel prep

Directions:

1. Begin by cooking and straining the pasta so it has time to cool.  Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar and the vanilla into the pasta water and bring it to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente (as noted on the box). If you are using muffin tins for individual kugels, I recommend using the egg noodles because they fit more easily into the cups. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

2.  You can use preserves if time is an issue, but this is a perfect way to use up fruit that is becoming a bit overripe or isn’t so pretty anymore and you want to cook with it. In a small saucepan, add the fruit (peel and all is OK) and a tablespoon of water. Cover the pot and cook on medium-low until the fruit softens. Then take the lid off and cook on low until the fruit breaks down into the consistency of a compote or apple sauce.

ricotta egg mixtureFruits with skins like apricots will separate from the skins and you can just pull out the skins from the pot. If you like your kugel to be a bit sweeter, then add some sugar to the mixture a teaspoon at a time to taste.

3. Set the preserves aside in a bowl to cool.

4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp. of sugar. If you are using the egg noodles, once the pasta has cooled, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.

kugel filling

5. Now you layer your kugel (like a traditional lasagna). If you are using lasagna noodles, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. Then add a layer of noodles, a layer of the ricotta mixture, a layer of fruit, a layer of lasagna noodles and a thin layer of the ricotta on top.

If you are using egg noodles and a muffin tin, put cupcake liners in each spot. Take the noodles that have been tossed with a little of the ricotta mixture and put a thin layer of them on the bottom. Add a layer of ricotta and a layer of fruit. The advantage of muffin tins is that you can do a variety of flavors. I did cherry, raspberry and apricot. Top the fruit with a layer of the egg noodles.

mini kugels ready to bake

6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes for the individual kugels until the top is lightly golden brown. For the larger kugel, cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time depends on how juicy your fruit is. The top will be golden brown and the fruit will bubble up a little when done.

7. For the topping which can be drizzled on top, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Drizzle over slices at the table.

summer kugel with pineapple

Serve with a fruit salad or some grilled fruit for a full, fruity, sweet meal.

Semolina Cara Cara Orange Cake

  

Semolina cara cara orange cake shavuot

Shavuot. The “Festival of Weeks.” If ever there was a confusing holiday (Shmini Atzeret aside), Shavuot is it. The definition of “Shavuot” alone is confusing enough. Festival of Weeks? Who wants to celebrate a festival of weeks!? That said, if ever there was an example of why one should never judge anything by its name alone, Shavuot is such an example.

So what are we celebrating, exactly? First, there is the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai (kind of a big deal). Then there is the completion of the counting of the Omer (the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, thus, “Festival of WEEKS”). The counting of the Omer reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavuot: Passover freed the Jews physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavuot redeemed the Jews spiritually from bondage to idolatry and immorality. But I always wonder, have we really been “freed” from our bondage to idolatry? I’m gonna go with a hard, “NO” on that one.

Semolina cara cara orange cake shavuot

IMG_4027Semolina cara cara orange cake shavuot

In my role as a high school counselor, I am often meeting and talking with students about their personal expectations. Too often, adolescents (and their parents, for that matter) have expectations for themselves that are not remotely attainable. Whether it’s trying to fit their body or personal image to that of a celebrity or the pursuit of academic perfection, I would argue that we are still very much bound to worshiping of idols. As a society, we have given so much power to fame and perfection, it is worshiped as truth. Adolescents “follow” celebrities and try in vain to emulate their lifestyle in such a way that they are willing to risk their financial status and physical, mental and emotional health. If that’s not worshiping of an idol, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of worship, Shavuot has recently become of my most favorite holidays due to the foods that are traditionally eaten on this day: dairy foods and spring/summer veggies and fruit. I’m talking foods such as cheesecakes and fresh green salads and gorgeous, ripe fruit. It’s a time of newness and of a re-commitment to learning and spirituality. I dream of hosting a huge picnic in a kibbutz sometime, the sun shining down upon my family and friends and eating salads and cakes until we feel we’re about to burst! One of the cakes I’ll be offering up during a meal this Shavuot is this gorgeous Semolina Cara Cara Orange Cake. Not only does it lend itself to a beautiful presentation, it just so happens to taste good as well. A double threat, if you will.

Happy eating!

Cara Cara Cake

Top down Cara Cara cake

Finished Cara Cara cake

Semolina Cara Cara Orange Cake

Candied Orange Peel with Syrup Topping:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup orange blossom honey
  • 3 Tbsp. green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 Cara Cara orange, thinly sliced

 

Directions:

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring sugar, honey, cardamom and 3 cups water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add orange slices.

2.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, turning orange slices occasionally until tender and syrup is reduced to 3 1/4 cups, about 40 minutes.

3.  Arrange orange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; remove cardamom pods and seeds. Strain syrup.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover syrup and orange slices separately; chill. Return orange slices to room temperature and rewarm syrup slightly before using.

Ingredients for Cake

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used coconut milk yogurt, which was completely fine and delicious)
  • 1 cup fine semolina PLUS 1 cup coarse semolina (or 2 cups coarse semolina)
  • â…“ cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

 

Directions for Cake

1.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2.  Place the butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Set aside.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine together the sugar and yogurt. Now add in the semolina, baking powder and milk. Finally stir in the melted butter and let the mixture sit briefly so that the butter is absorbed.

4.  Transfer the semolina mixture into a lightly greased 9″-round cake pan or baking dish. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

5.  Pierce the hot cake all over with a metal skewer. Slowly drizzle 3/4 cup warm syrup all over. When syrup is absorbed, slowly pour 3/4 cup more syrup over the top. Reserve remaining syrup for serving. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, run a thin knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides. Arrange candied orange slices over top.