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All photos byÂ Laurel Street Kitchen
When my now-husband Bryan and I began talking about spending our lives together, we enrolled in Introduction to Judaism classes at a local a reform synagogue in San Francisco. Bryanâ€™s Jewish education had ended at 13 and I was not Jewish, so we both learned so much from those classes.
While I am grateful for the wonderfully welcoming community at our very reform temple, there were also some Jewish rituals I had only heard about and longed to participate in. I found Havdalah for example, the beautiful ritual that utilizes all five senses to mark the end of Shabbat, particularly enchanting.
Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to participate in a meaningful Havdalah ceremony in Jerusalem on a trip with Honeymoon Israel. When we returned, I decided to host a Shabbat walk and Havdalah ceremony at our home with our new Honeymoon Israel community. I found thisÂ InterfaithFamily guide to HavdalahÂ very useful! Since it was early in the evening, I decided to do a spread of small bites.
One new thing I loved learning about in Israel was the Seven Species, seven agricultural products listed in the Torah as being special products to the Land of Israel. Everywhere we went, we saw them featured on everything from challah covers to watercolor paintings. Inspired by this, I decided to create a 7 Species Cheese Spread for our gathering. You can play with the ingredients however you wish. Here are the ingredients and one easy recipe I created using store-bought hummus to create a gourmet platter even if you’re limited on time.
Seven Species Cheese Spread
Arrange cheeses on a cheeseboard or use cake stands for more height and drama. Place pita in a pretty basket or bowl lined with a napkin. Place smaller items like figs, dates and olives into small bowls on or around the cheese board. If your dates and olives are not pitted, be sure to add a small bowl on the side for pits. Right before guests arrive, drizzle a small amount of honey on the mild soft cheese (I recommend a brie). Be careful to only add a small drizzle so it doesnâ€™t drip off the platter! I used honeycomb here instead.
1. Heat oven to 300Â°F and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each tomato in half lengthwise and place tomatoes, cut side up onto the baking sheets. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and a sprinkle a bit of salt on them. Place them in the oven for 90 minutes, then set them aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.
2. Boil one-and-a-half cups of salted water. When the water comes to a boil, pour in the barley and turn the heat down to a simmer for 30 minutes. Check the barley at this time–it should have some chew to it but be springy and not too hard. It took me about 45 minutes. When the barley is done, rinse with cool water and set it aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.
3. Spread hummus with the back of a large spoon onto a large serving platter. Sprinkle the sumac over the hummus evenly, then barley, then tomatoes, then olives, then chives. Drizzle with olive oil, then sea salt and serve with fresh pita.
On Mother’s Day we celebrate mom and/or any other women in your life who have helped to nourish and care for you. Whether it’s the Italian mom who loves Sunday Supper but your red sauce is ordered in or the Jewish woman who spends SundayÂ in the kitchen all day cooking and no one is allowed in to your sacred space, on Mother’s Day we want her to sit back and put her feet up for a little while. Let the kids into the kitchen with a parent, caretaker, grandparent, babysitter or friend and let them make brunch.
These Frittatas are easy to make with adult supervision (only needed for a few steps), even if it is just the woman of honor and the kids. She can sit with her feet up in the kitchen and let them take care of most of the steps while she relaxes. Try it. She’ll love it.
Mini Brunch Frittatas
Ask a grown up to help you get these ingredients for your recipe. If you have only theÂ first six ingredients you can still make this recipe. The rest is optional.
Watch a video on how to make this recipe!
1.Â Wash your hands. Ask a grown up to turn the oven on to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Put the muffin tin into a clean sink and spray each cup withÂ cooking oilÂ orÂ pour a little oil into a cup and brush the inside of each muffin cupÂ with oil on the bottom and up all the sides with a pastry brush.
4.Â Tap the egg on the counter near the glass measuring cup. Then over the cup, carefully try to pull the egg apart with your thumbs near the cracked shell. Pull the shell apart and let the egg fall into the measuring cup. If any shell falls in, scoop it out with the egg shell in your hands. Then pour the egg into the big bowl. Do this for all 8 eggs.Â Pour the 1/2 cup of milk into the big bowl with the eggs.Â Mix the milk and eggs together with the whisk or fork until the whole mixture is smooth and light yellow.
5.Â Grate the Parmesan cheeseÂ until you haveÂ enough to fill one regular muffin cup. Then grate the same amount of the other cheese. You can measure it right into the muffin tin but then scoop it out and set it aside on a corner of your cutting board.
6.Â Add theÂ pepper and salt to the egg mixture and stir it all up. Over the sink, pour the egg mixture into your measuring cup. Carefully pour the egg mixture halfway up each muffin cup.
7.Â Wash a handful of each herb and a handful of the spinach under cold running water. Then dry the herbs and spinach on a kitchen towel. Herbs with little leaves can just be picked off the stem and put in a pile on your cutting board. The herbs with big leaves can be cut into little strips with your scissors.You can use your children’s scissors instead of sharpÂ kitchen scissors just make sure they are washed with dish soap and water first.Â
8. Â Sprinkle the herbs and cheese into the muffin cups on top of the egg mixture. You can leave some plain if you like or make some just with cheese or just with herbs. You make what your family likes. Then, wash the green, yellow, red or orange pepper.
…This is the grown up part.
Grown ups: Put the muffin tin in the oven and to set a timer for 10-12 minutes. Ask your little chef for the pepper. Trim the top and take out the core, then slice the pepper into rings.Â Take the muffin tin out when the timer goes off. The frittatas will look slightly under-cooked in the middle but areÂ just right. If the frittatas are still wet in the middle after a minute out of the oven, put them back in for two more minutes. Using a rubber spatula remove the frittatas from the muffin tin and place them on a plate.
Kids:Â You get to finish this off. Put some of the rest of the spinach on a largeÂ plate or platter. Place the frittatas onÂ top of the spinach and put a pepper ring around each frittata to make them look like flowers. Then it is time to eat and celebrate!
Tips for nervous adults:
We all know so many ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers, but the recipes are few and far between when it comes to Passover leftovers. Here is a tasty way to use up what’s left afterÂ your seder. You can make this recipe from scratch, but it’s better with leftovers. If you want meat, you can keep it kosher by skipping the cheese. Add in some of the seder horseradish to give it some spice. You can make your stacks as high or low as you like. I like to have four layers. Whether you stack them high or low, they will be delicious!
1.Â SliceÂ your chilled kugel evenly. The amount of kugel you have left over will determine how many stacks you can make.
2.Â In a pan, heat the vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the slices of kugel and cook until golden brownÂ on both sides. Set the slices aside on a plate while you prepare theÂ other ingredients.
3.Â Finely chop the shallot. If needed, add a little extra vegetable oil to the pan that you cooked the kugel in. SautĂ© the shallots over medium-low heat.
4. Toss the mushrooms in with the shallots and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the liquid begins to cook off of the mushrooms and they begin to brown, add a pinch of salt. This is your mushroom duxelles.Â If you prefer, youÂ can use the leftover brisket instead and skip the mozzarella on top.
5.Â Turn the broiler on and make sure your rack is low enough that the stack has room to sit under the broiler. On a baking pan lined with foil, place one slice of kugel. Top that with a row of sliced asparagus or green beans. Top that with another piece of kugel and a spoonful of mushroom duxelles (or a piece of brisket). Top with another slice of kugel and add a spoonful of tsimmes or a slice of sweet potato. Top with a final piece of potato kugel and add a slice of mozzarella. Leave the cheese off if you are using brisket. If you need a toothpick or skewer to stabilize the stack, you can push one into the kugel stack being careful that it is not right under the broiler.
6.Â Place the stack under the broiler until the cheese begins to bubble and brown. Enjoy!
There 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 holidayâ€™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.
1. Â Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a one-quart bowl. Set aside.
2. Â Whisk the egg in a two-quart bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to whisk until foamy and well combined.
4. Â Add the flour mixture and stir with the whisk or a spatula until no particles of flour are visible.
5. Â Heat the oil in a small, deep fryer or in a two-quart saucepan to a temperature of 375ÂşF. If necessary, add enough oil to come to a depth of about two inches. If you donâ€™t have a deep-fry thermometer, youâ€™ll know the oil is ready when a little bit of dough rolls in the oil and begins to brown.
6. Using a small spring ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon and rubber spatula, scoop up some dough and drop it into the hot oil. Donâ€™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. Â Crumple paper towels on a plate to drain the holes of excess oil. While still warm, toss them in confectionerâ€™s sugar or in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
They are best eaten warm but will stay crisp for a few hours.
Homemade Farmerâ€™s Cheese
Makes about two to three cups.
1. Â Bring milk and buttermilk to a simmer. Add the salt and continue to cook until the ingredients separate into curds and whey.
2. Â 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. Â Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use in a recipe, or eat with jam on toast.
For more Hanukkah recipes, click here
Thereâ€™s one dish that will always and forever have a place in my heart (probably literally and figuratively at this point!)â€”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 donâ€™t like greens or vegetables of any color touching their mac and cheese, you can give them the â€śuntouchedâ€ť pasta on the side. Everyone wins!
Bruschetta Mac and Cheese Recipe
Mac and Cheese
Â Bruschetta Topping
1.Â InÂ a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removingÂ before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden). Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
2.Â 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.Â In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions.Â Drain well.
2.Â While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat.Â When the butter has melted and started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 Â˝ minutes, whisking constantly.Â Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.Â Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
3.Â 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.Â Stir in the mustard and salt.Â Return the saucepan to the heat and stir in the pasta.Â Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce.Â Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.
4.Â 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.
Some people have strong feelings about the kind of recipe that aims to create a Passover-friendly version of a dish that is typically leavened. Detractors think creating Passover bagels, muffins, and rolls miss the point of the holidayâ€™s specific diet. Those in favor see the practice as helping to make a difficult holiday more bearable. Some will even point to foods like Passover Popovers as an example of Jewish ingenuity.
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I donâ€™t see the point suffering through a week of â€śI canâ€™t believe you want to call this a bagel.â€ť (But hey, if you can convince yourself that whatever youâ€™ve come up with tastes like a bagel, more power to you. Iâ€™ll have eggs for breakfast this week.) On the other hand, when the introduction of matzah into a dish creates a delightful new twist on an old favorite, Iâ€™m all for it.
This brings us to Matzah Kugel, a sweet, dairy-filled confection of matzah layered with sweetened cheese. Sure, you could make a kugel with Passover noodles and come up with an almost-but-not-quite-satisfying proxy for the regular version, but you will never forget that itâ€™s not the â€śrealâ€ť thing. Matzah kugel, on the other hand, takes the idea of a noodle kugel as a jumping off point and transforms it into something different but equally delicious.
This dish can function as a side dish or a main course. (It pairs well with a side salad and a piece of gefilte fish.) You can freeze leftover portions: they reheat well in the microwave and even make a delicious and quick breakfast when you just canâ€™t take one more piece of matzah with cream cheese.
Cheese Matzah Kugel for Passover
2. Â Add cottage cheese, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix to combine thoroughly.
3. Â Grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.
4. Â Arrange half of the matzah so that it covers the bottom of the dish.
5. Â Pour half of the cheese mixture over it. Repeat with balance of the matzah and cheese mixture.Â If you wish, sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar over the top of the kugel.
6. Â Bake at 350Â°F for 40 minutes or until set.
Hamentaschen, a popular treat for the holiday of Purim, translates to â€śHamanâ€™s pockets.â€ť Haman is the villain in the story of Purim and in addition to booing whenever his name is mentioned,Â on Â Purim we eat sweet filled cookies that are in the triangular shape of Hamanâ€™s hat.Â This is a savory twist on the traditional Hamentaschen and can be served as an appetizer or as part of a Purim meal. It is made with pre-made pie crust, so it is a quick and easy dish to prepare.
1. Â Preheat oven to 450â„‰. Thaw the broccoli in a colander by running cold water of it. Then set it aside on a kitchen towel to dry a little. Then, thaw the spinach in a colander by running cold water over the spinach. Once thawed, put the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze the excess water out of the spinach or push the moisture out through a sieve.
2. Â Mash the goat cheese, cottage cheese and feta in a bowl with a fork until uniformly mixed.Â Add the salt, pepper and lemon zest. Scoop out 1/3 of the cheese mix to set aside. The other 2/3 will be mixed with the spinach, broccoli, dill and onion.
3. Â Finely chop the broccoli and the dill. Slice and mince 1/2 the onion. If the spinach is whole leaf then chop the spinach as well.Â Stir the broccoli and spinach into the cheese mixture.Â Set the mixture aside and prepare your pastry.
4. Â Roll the pie crusts out slightly so they are about 1/8 inch thick.Â Trim the sides to make approximately a 9-10-inch square.Â Do not worry if your measurements are off as long as you have a rectangle or square-like shape.Â You can keep the trim to roll out again later. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares or whatever looks even. You will have about 9 squares per pie dough.
5. Â With a knife you can score diagonally across the square (or just eyeball it).Â Then cut a triangle window out of one side of the square with at least a 1/2-inch border.Â Carefully pull the uncut side of the square over onto the cut side and push along the middle crease. Then flip the dough over so youâ€™ll have a triangle cutout on top of a triangle of dough.
6. Â With a fork, press down along the edges of the triangle to crimp the dough.Â Fill each pastry cutout with a small spoonful of just the cheese mixture and then a larger spoonful of the spinach, broccoli and feta mixture piled high in the center. You can pinch the edges to fill out the corners of the triangle.
7. Brush the sides of each hamentaschen with egg and sprinkle with nigella seeds (optional).Â Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pie crust is a light golden brown.
Comfort food comes in many different shapes and forms. Each culture, each tradition, each household, each individual has a dish that is comforting to them. Comfort foods tend to be soft, warm and not overly seasoned. This Italian gnocchi al forno takes the flavors of a Jewish comfort food: matzoh ball soup, and puts them into a warm, oven-baked, cheesy, saucy dish.
This is made with pre-made gnocchi so it is a quick and easy recipe for any day of the week. The lemon adds brightness to the rich sauce. Italians understand the glory of this fruit and as Italian poet Eugenio Montale wrote: “… now it’s our turn, us poor ones, to have a share of riches/ and it’s the scent of the lemon.”
Lemon Dill Gnocchi al Forno with Roasted Carrots
1. Â Preheat the ovenÂ to 375â„‰.Â While the oven is heating up, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Peel the carrots and leave them whole. Line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with parchment. Put the carrots on the parchment and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of salt.
2. Â Roast the carrots in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
3. Â Once the water comes to a boil, put the gnocchi into the boiling water. The gnocchi take 3-5 minutes to cook. Once the gnocchi float to the top of the water, they are cooked. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate or baking dish.
4. Â Grate the mozzarella. Chop the kale into thin slices. Set both aside. Once the carrots come out of the oven, raise the temperature to 400â„‰.
5. Â In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the dill to the butter and let the butter cook a little until it is nice and foamy.
Add in the flour and mix it together until you have a paste. Cook the paste in the pan for a few minutes.
Once the paste begins to bubble a little at the edges, add in 1/2 cup of wine, stir and cook down for 3-4 minutes. Add in the zest of 1/4-1/2 a lemon. Then 1 cup at a time, add in the whole milk.
Stir together until the sauce thickens and the flour paste is incorporated. Add in the cheese and stir until the cheese melts completely.
6.Â In a large baking dish, or several small dishes, put a layer of kale into the bottom of the dish. Top with a layer of gnocchi and then pour a generous amount of the cheese sauce over top. Top the cheese with some freshly ground pepper.
7. Â Cook the lemon and dill gnocchi al forno uncovered for 30-40 minutes. The sauce will bubble and caramelize slightly. Serve the gnocchi with a side of roasted carrots, and a glass of chilled white wine.
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
Savory Pizza with Dried Zucchini
1. Â 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. Â After 30 minutes, preheat your oven or toaster oven to 150Â° 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.
3. Â Once the zucchini are fairly dry, almost rubbery in texture, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle a teaspoonÂ of dried oregano over them. Do NOT add salt, but do grind freshÂ pepperÂ over the zucchiniÂ to taste.
4. Â Preheat your grill to high or preheatÂ your oven toÂ 450Â° 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 butÂ I prefer to put a teaspoonÂ 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. Â Remove the partially baked dough and prepare your cheese.
6. Â 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. Â 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 BlintzÂ Pizza
1. Â Prepare the dough as above, but before placing it to cook, brush water over the top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar.
2. Â Preheat your grill to high orÂ preheatÂ your ovenÂ toÂ 450Â° F. Split your dough in half and create two roundÂ pizzas on oiled heavy-duty tin foil or on an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You can use a spray oil butÂ I prefer to put a teaspoonÂ 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.
4. Â 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. Â 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.
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 toppingÂ the pizza.