Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

  

Challah for the Jewish New Year is special—round to celebrate the circle of life and sweet (typically with raisins) in the hope of a sweet year. For the occasion, I make what I call my cinnamon roll challah, with rum-soaked raisins (an homage to Italian desserts featuring rum) and a pretty swirl of brown sugar and cinnamon inside.

cinnamon raisin challah whole

Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

Recipe reprinted with permission from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life

Yield: Two large loaves. (Dairy with butter or Pareve with margarine or oil.)

Ingredients:

Dough

  • Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil for coating the bowl and plastic wrap
  • ½ cup rum
  • ½ cup (generous) dark raisins
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 1 cup very warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (with one yolk reserved for topping), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (or margarine or oil), softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5½ to 6½ cups bread flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1½ tsp. salt

 

Filling

  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

 

Egg Wash

  • Reserved egg yolk from dough recipe
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

 

Directions:

1. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.

2. Heat rum in the microwave or on stovetop until hot. Pour over raisins to submerge them completely. Let stand about 10 minutes. Drain and discard the rum and pat the raisins dry. Set aside.

3. Dissolve the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl, about five minutes. Mix in the sugar, three whole eggs and the one egg white, butter and vanilla. Stir in 2½ cups of the flour and the salt, and combine well. Then add 2½ more cups of flour and mix well. Add additional flour as needed to form a cohesive dough.

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Press the dough into a large thick disk, and insert a handful of the raisins, spaced apart. Fold the dough over the raisins and flatten again; continue inserting raisins this way until all are incorporated and well distributed.

5. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, then lift out, turn over, and place it (oiled side up) back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours.

6. Uncover the dough and press down on the middle to deflate. Cover and let rest for a few minutes.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Prepare the filling by stirring together the brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla extract and the melted butter or margarine.

8. Divide the dough in half. Return one half to the bowl and cover. Place the other half on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large rectangle, about 20 inches long by 9 to 10 inches wide. Brush a thin layer of the butter over the dough. Then sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture.

9. Starting at one long edge of the dough, roll it (jelly-roll style) gently but firmly to the other edge. Press the seam and ends to seal. Gently pull and roll this log until it is about 24 inches long, keeping the original thickness on one end and gradually narrowing the other end. Twine the narrow end around the larger end to make a large pinwheel. Press the loose end to seal. Gently press down on the top of the entire loaf to level it.

10. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the reserved egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water to combine. Brush on shaped loaves. Gently cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes, until nearly doubled. Halfway through the rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

11. Bake for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 15 to 18 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped (the interior should be between 185 and 190 degrees). Some of the sugar mixture might seep out and create a sweet undercrust, which I consider ideal. Serve the same day or freeze.

cinnamon raisin challah sliced

 

marcia_friedman_smallMarcia Friedman is the author of Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life. She continues to write about her journey and the intersection of Jewish and Italian food at meatballsandmatzahballs.com.

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

 

 

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

vegetablesIngredients:

  • 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

DIrections:

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

 

Directions:

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!

Tidbits:

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!

Teiglach

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

 


Directions:

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

Fireworks Picnic Fried Chicken with Maple Dipping Sauce

  

Fried chicken picnic

In many Jewish households, Fridays are for chicken. A roasted chicken for Shabbat is as commonplace as fireworks on the Fourth of July. If you’re creating a Jewish home, or a home with a Jewish flavor, a great way to do so is by sharing a delicious Shabbat or holiday meal. I love gathering with friends and hearing about their grandmothers’ roast chicken or the best roast chicken they had at a friend’s house growing up.

This time of year, it is hot outside and having the oven on for a long time roasting a chicken is less appealing. For Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th) we’ve got this simple fried chicken recipe, which is perfect for a picnic, and as always, the secret is in the sauce. The dipping sauce for this recipe is all about Canada Day because it’s a sweet maple syrup sauce that explodes with flavor thanks to some Dijon Mustard (a nod to Bastille Day, July 14, perhaps) and some fresh minced garlic.

Picnic Fried Chicken with Maple Dipping Sauce

(serves 6-8)

apple cider vinegarSpecial equipment needed: a candy thermometer to measure the heat of the oil.

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 full chicken breasts with the skin on (this will be four pieces)
    If the chicken breasts have the bones ask your butcher to split the breasts and remove the bones for you.  
  • 1 full skinless boneless chicken breast (this will be two pieces)
  • 1 400 ml can of coconut milk, divided
  • 1 cup of water, divided
  • 2 tsp. of smoky paprika (if you only have one kind of paprika just use that twice)
  • 2 tsp. of sweet paprika, divided
  • paprika1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of pepper
  • 3 tsp. of cider vinegar, divided
  • additional salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (optional 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch
  • vegetable oil for frying: enough to fill your pot about 1 1/2 inches which should be no more than 1/3 of the way up the pot.
    (I like canola or peanut oil)

 

 

garlicDipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
    I prefer the dark/grade B maple syrup
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard

 

Note: I make two different soaks for the chicken. One is more child-friendly and is a bit milder. My daughter does not like pepper so the children’s chicken is pepper free. I also make chicken strips for the children that cook quickly and are perfect for little fingers to hold.

The chicken is made in two steps: soak & fry.

Soak

Wet ingredients

1. You will need two bowls: one for the children’s chicken and one for the adult’s. In the larger bowl (adult bowl) mix the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Whisk the mixture together and then pour 1/3 of the mixture into the other bowl (kid’s bowl).

chicken soaking2.  To the adult bowl, add 2 tsp. of smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika, 2 tsp. of cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.

3. To the kid’s bowl add 1 tsp. of cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of salt.

4. Whisk the mixtures in each separate bowl until everything is combined.

5. Place the 4 chicken breast pieces that have skin into the adult bowl. If the chicken is not submerged you can add a little bit of water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.

6. Take the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into 1-inch strips with scissors or a kitchen knife.

7. Place the chicken strips into the kid’s bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.

Fry

fry the chicken1. Take the bowls out of the refrigerator and remove the chicken from the cold coconut milk soak to a wire rack over a tray. Let the chicken sit for a while so that some of the chill is removed from the meat. The coconut milk will begin to “melt” off the chicken. Let the soak drip off and remove any excess coconut milk before you coat the chicken in flour.

2. Fill your pot no more than 2 inches high with your oil and warm it up over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees.

3. In a large plastic bag add 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and mix well with a whisk.

4. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Then put the chicken into the flour mixture in batches. Shake to coat.

5. Have a baking tray or plate ready with a double layer of paper towels for the chicken to drain on as each batch is ready.

6. The full chicken breasts take 20 minutes to fry. Once your oil has reached 375 degrees, you can start frying in batches. I like to put a timer on for 5 minutes at a time. Every 5 minutes you can turn the chicken in the oil. After 4 turns the chicken will be ready. Take it out with a slotted spoon or very carefully with tongs and place it on a plate layered with two paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper to finish. The chicken strips take only about 8 minutes and can be done in two or three batches. Turn them every two minutes.

Dip

In a measuring cup pour 1 Tbsp. of honey, 3 Tbsp. of maple syrup, 1 clove of garlic minced, and 1 tsp. of Dijon. Whisk together. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

Happy Fourth of July and Canada Day!

Fried chicken

July Fourth BBQ Sauce

  

When I started dating my husband he was living in Atlanta, and through my visits down south I was introduced to a whole new world of food–barbeque. I don’t want to instigate a war between barbeque lovers and the intricacies of what makes a North Carolina BBQ sauce different from a Kansas City sauce, but, suffice it to say, I think it’s all pretty delicious.

Growing up, BBQ meant chicken breasts covered in store bought sauce, baked in the oven (my mom is from Ohio). And I ate it happily, but after I spent some time eating my way through Atlanta, I’ve learned how much better something can be when it’s fresh and homemade, and I love being able to adjust the seasoning based on what I’m serving or how I’m planning to use the leftovers.

After taste testing many different recipes for BBQ sauce, the ones I liked best have both brown sugar and molasses, with something smokey and spicy to cut the sweetness a bit–in this case chipotle in adobo, one of my go-to-ingredients for chili as well. All of these ingredients work in perfect concert together to create a sweet, smoky, spicy sauce. Whether it’s brisket or chicken, even veggies or tofu, everything tastes better slathered in this amazing and simple sauce.

BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce ingredientsAdding the honeyIngredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo
  • 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

 

 

Mix the sauceDirections:

1.  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. It’s important to add the onions first or else the garlic will burn.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the ingredients, the more liquid ones first. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Using an immersion blender, blend, still in pan, until completely smooth.

If you do not have an immersion blender, consider investing in one! It’s great for everything from baby food to soup to sauce. However, if you don’t have one, the sauce would be delicious slightly chunky: Just make sure to dice everything very finely, or you can pour the slightly cooled sauce into a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

5.  For use on grilled meat, let the sauce cool completely and then marinate the meat in sauce for up to an hour before grilling, and then continue to baste with sauce while cooking.

 

Immersion blenderIf using kosher meat, use less salt, as the meat is already salted.

This is fantastic for a typical American style BBQ feast, but can also transport you around the world. Using it on steak that is then thinly sliced is wonderful on top of a Vietnamese Bun. Used on pulled chicken you can create great sliders or tacos. Inside a simple chinese-style crepe pancake, it’s a wonderful start to mu-shu, along with some sauteed cabbage and carrots. The options are really limitless, and help you get a glimpse into the fact that grilled meat is really a staple in most cuisines.

Just another example of how food can bring people together across cultures and continents, when other factors just seem to divide us. What better way to celebrate the melting pot of America on the 4th of July than a recipe that can transcend? Wishing you the best for a Happy Fourth of July!

Bubbe’s Banana Bread Muffins

  

banana muffins

After dealing with the challenges of food in an interfaith family during the Passover and Easter season, it’s nice to come back together at Mothers’ Day to celebrate without the pressure of not serving meat on Good Friday when it also happens to be the first seder or how to have a traditional Easter dinner without a ham.

I also love Mothers’ Day because it’s another great excuse for BRUNCH! My favorite meal.

When I got married my mom’s friends threw me an amazing bridal shower and put together a recipe book with favorites contributed by all of the guests. I treasure these hand-written recipe cards, which have a place of honor in my kitchen, and they have become even more special as many of the recipes were contributed by my grandmother (bubbe) who passed away in the fall. I know I’ll be missing her as we sit down together for Mothers’ Day, so I’ll do my best to evoke her memory by baking one of her recipes.

I love my grandmother’s banana bread, and whenever my bananas are turning brown, I toss them in the freezer to be used later. The original recipe calls for margarine (which I don’t like to use), LOTS of sugar and sour cream. I switched it up a little bit here, and prepared it as mini muffins instead of as a loaf, since my kids will eat nearly anything if shaped like a mini muffin (think: meatloaf muffins, egg muffins … you get the picture).

This recipe is also great because it requires no fancy equipment. You don’t need a stand mixer or even a hand mixer; you really can do the whole thing with just bowls and a fork!

If you’re serving this dish at a meal that involves meat to people who keep kosher, you can easily substitute the yogurt with soy yogurt.

Bubbe’s Banana Bread Muffins

Yields 48 mini muffins (or 24 regular sized muffins)

It's always helpful to get everything together before you start.

It’s always helpful to get everything together before you start. The French call this “mis en place.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. salt.

 

 

 

Creaming

Use a a fork to cream together sugar, honey & coconut oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Liberally grease 2 mini muffin tins.

3. Combine baking soda and yogurt in a large bowl.

4. Cream together coconut oil, sugar and honey in a small bowl until well mixed. Add to yogurt mixture.

5. Use a potato masher to mash the overripe bananas into the batter.

 

 

directions

batter

6. Add smashed bananas and beaten eggs to mixture.

7. Combine flour, baking powder, vanilla, lemon zest and salt in a medium bowl.

8. Add dry ingredients to wet in two batches, mixing as you go.

9. Using a medium sized scooper, fill the tins to just under full.

10. Bake for 20 minutes (25 if you are making full size muffins), turning the pan once. Use a toothpick to check for done-ness: If it comes out clean, they’re ready! They should be just slightly golden brown on the edges. Let the muffins cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.

muffins cooling

muffins

A perfect addition to your Mothers’ Day brunch

I like to round out this meal out with a baked egg casserole, breakfast potatoes a big fruit salad and a Bloody Mary.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the special women in our lives! What are some of your Mothers’ Day favorites?

 

Spring Bone Broth with Potato Knaidlach

  

spring bone broth with parsley potato knaidlichMatzoh ball soup is a staple in many Jewish homes and if you recently attended a Passover seder, you likely indulged in this comforting winter dish. It is the soup many of us crave when we’re not feeling well and the soup that has become known as Jewish penicillin. Lately (or, like, a few years ago on the West Coast), there has been a new “buzz word” in the world of soup: Bone broth.) The basic recipe for bone broth hasn’t changed from the days of our nonna, bubbe or grandmother. What has changed is that we’re talking more and more about ingredients and cooking methods. We’re going back to our roots where there wasn’t a fear of using all the parts of all our ingredients, but rather, our grandparents embraced the versatility of their ingredients and took pride in stretching them, wasting nothing.

Soup is just broth until you add dumplings. Dumplings are a comfort food and every culture’s cuisine has some sort of dumplings. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are dropped in soups, served with chicken, fried up, steamed, filled with soup and meat, folded, rolled, pinched and pressed.

The universal truth when it comes to dumplings is that there are perhaps never enough. Whether you grew up alongside your Italian nonna cutting and rolling gnocchi on a Sunday morning or you poured matzoh ball mix out of a box with your father on Sunday afternoons, you know what’s in the back of everyone’s mind is, “Will this be enough?”. This recipe for brodo with potato knaidlach makes so many dumplings there are extras to freeze for a quick weekday meal.

This Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach takes us on a trip to Italy with inspiration from brodo (broth) and potato gnocchi (knaidlach). If you or your partner has Italian ancestry, this is a fun way to combine your cultures in a meal that’s fun to make together. You may want to save this one for the weekend because it takes a little time, but not so much that you can’t whip up a batch on a weekday evening either.

Spring Bone Broth and Parsley Knaidlach
(soup serves 4-6 with additional knaidlach to freeze)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large Russet (or baking) potatoes
  • 2-3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 8 cups of boxed bone broth or chicken stock
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 bunch of curly parsley
  • 1-2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Bones from 1 rotisserie chicken or two chicken legs
  • 1 bunch of fresh herbs (choose one): chives, basil, parsley, dill
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

For this recipe we’ll be doctoring up a boxed broth to save time, but you can try this fabulous brodo if you enjoy going the extra mile.

1.  Begin by preparing the potatoes for the potato dumplings. Scrub the potatoes with a brush and place them in a pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and let the potatoes boil for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes a toothpick or skewer should easily go into and slide out of the flesh of the potato with no resistance.

potatoes

2.  Once the potatoes are ready, let them cool on a plate for about 10 minutes until the skins are cold enough to peel off by hand. In the meantime, set your toaster oven or oven to 350℉.  Put some parchment or foil down on a tray (for easier clean-up) and drizzle 1 Tbsp. of oil on the tray.

3.  Slice your onion in half and wash (no need to peel) your carrots and cut them into thirds. Place the vegetables on the tray (onions cut side down) and just slide them through the olive oil so they are well coated. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables (about 1 tsp) and roast them for 25-30 minutes.

onion and carrots

4.  Now, the potatoes should be cool enough to handle. Peel them by pinching the skin and pulling it away from the potato.

peel potatoes5.  If you have a food mill (you know, the hand crank one you bought to make baby food), then use a food mill to process the potatoes. If you don’t have a food mill, a fork will work just as well. Make sure you use a large cutting board. Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices (a little bigger is OK too) then take your fork and press it through each slice so that the potato breaks into little strips.

Fork or food mill: it's all good.  Do not use a blender because it will make the potato gluey.

Fork or food mill: it’s all good. Do not use a blender because it will make the potato gluey.

6.  Once the potatoes have been pressed (through the food mill or fork), let them cool briefly on the tray or board. While the potatoes cool, you can start the broth. Gather your roasted vegetables, the bones you saved from a rotisserie chicken (from earlier in the week or that you saved and froze for soup), and your soy sauce.

Set aside two of the roasted carrots for later. If you are using chicken legs, just season them with salt and pepper and add them into the pot. Pour the two containers of broth into your stock pot. There should be about 8 cups. If you are short, just top it off with some water.

Then add: your chicken bones (if you haven’t already), your vegetables and the 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce to the pot. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.

7.  While the broth is cooking, you can make your gnocchi. This is a great “play dough” style activity to do with the kids. Make sure you have a clean counter and clean hands. There will be flour on the floor but you can sweep up after.

make the gnocchi

A true Italian nonna would have to you make this on the counter, but I prefer the security of a bowl. Sprinkle a little flour (about 1/2 cup) into the bottom of the bowl and then put 1/3 of the potatoes on top of the flour. Sprinkle a cup of flour over the potatoes and add another 1/3 of the potatoes over that. Sprinkle another cup of flour (you’re up to 2 1/2 cups now) over the potatoes and top with the last 1/3 of the potatoes. Gently toss the potatoes in the flour with your fingers to coat. The extra 1/2 cup of flour (3 cups in total) will be sprinkled in as needed later if your dough is too sticky.

potato and flour

8.  Make a well in the middle of the bowl of potatoes and flour and crack in 2 eggs. Add 1 tsp of kosher salt over the eggs.

gnocchi eggs and potato

With a fork, whisk the eggs and salt until combined and then slowly mix the eggs into the potato flour mixture. You will end up with a sticky dough. Continue to add flour until you have a dough that is soft and only slightly sticky. (You should only need at most 1/2 cup of flour but you can add as much as 1 cup of flour here if needed.)

making gnocchi with Isabelle

9.  Let the dough rest for a minute or two while you chop some parsley. You will want a small bunch of fresh curly parsley (wash and dry with a towel first). If you are making all the gnocchi with parsley, you will want 2/3 cup of minced parsley. If you have some picky eaters who cringe at the sight of green, you can leave 1/2 the potato knaidlach plain and you’ll want 1/3 cup of minced parsley.

10.  Now the fun begins. Split your dough in half and knead in 1/3 cup of parsley unless you are making all of your dumplings green. To help make clean-up a little easier, I like to put some wax paper or parchment paper down on the counter. You can sprinkle a little water on the counter first so the paper doesn’t slide around when you roll out the dough. Sprinkle flour on the parchment generously and roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick.

gnocchi dough

11. Cut the dough into 1/2 inch strips. Then roll each strip out into a long rope. I like to pinch the strips first and then roll them.

roll gnocchi

12.  Then, with a butter knife, cut the ropes into dozens of beautiful little knaidlach. They should be about 3/4 to 1 inch long. Do the same with the leftover plain dough if you are making some plain.

finished parsley knaidlich

13.  Now your broth is ready (it’s OK if it simmered longer than 20 mins). Strain your broth through a sieve into a new pot. Cut the carrots you set aside into tiny cubes (about the size as a pea). Take 1-2 cups of frozen peas (based on how much your family likes peas). Add the minced carrots and peas to the broth. Once the broth comes back to a boil, add in 1/3 of your potato knaidlich (aka gnocchi). The knaidlich are cooked once they float back to the top of the broth; about 5 minutes.

For picky diners, you can cook the plain knaidlach in salted boiling water and serve them like pasta with parmesan, butter and salt, pesto or tomato sauce.

The rest of the knaidlach can be put on a tray in the freezer until they become solid, and then transfered into a plastic bag. Frozen knaidlach can be cooked straight from frozen in boiling water or stock.

Serve the knaidlich and broth in a bowl and sprinkle with fresh herbs such as chives, basil, dill or more parsley. Buon appetito!

spring dumpling soup 2 spring dumpling soup

Ice Cream Pyramids for Jon Stewart (and You)

  

Ice Cream Pyramid

Jon Stewart, born Jonathan Leibowitz, is one of America’s best known Jews, and also in an inter-faith marriage. In 2012, as Passover and Easter were approaching Stewart encouraged Jews to up the ante on Passover as it wasn’t competing very well against Easter, especially for kids. In the “Faith Off” clip below, from The Daily Show, he says where Easter has chocolate, Passover has Matzah. Where Easter has Peeps, Passover has hard boiled eggs. You get the idea.

 

“Oh wait, I’ll see you over at the Red Sea ride when I’m done building ice cream pyramids.”

What about spicing things up, Jon asks? What about ice cream pyramids? Well Jon, in honor of your last Passover behind that Comedy Central desk where we’ve come to depend on you to deliver us news we can actually digest, we’re giving you just what you asked for: Ice Cream Pyramids.

This is a great way to get your kids excited about the upcoming Passover holiday, and if you’re serving a non-meat seder or Passover meal during the week of the holiday, this could certainly be the piece-de-resistance to serve as dessert.

When I started this experiment I had hoped to build a pyramid using small blocks of ice cream, similar to this sugar cube pyramid. But no matter how solid the ice cream was, or how quickly I worked, it wasn’t to be. So, plan B!

What you’ll need:

ice cream pyramids prep

  • 1 gallon of ice cream
  • Cutting Board
  • Large serrated knife/chef’s knife
  • Chocolate, caramel, chopped nuts, Nutella (or toppings of  your choice)

Before you begin:

Choose a gallon of your favorite ice cream that comes in a rectangular box. Make sure it is frozen solid.

Place your cutting board and a serrated knife in the freezer so that the ice cream won’t melt as quickly.

Clear space in the freezer for the finished product.

Instructions:

Cut the ice cream1.  Cut the box away so that you’re left with just a large block of ice cream.

2.  Cut the ice cream so that you have 1-inch thick square slices.

3.  Start by placing a square on the cold cutting board, and then, if desired, cover with favorite ice cream topping, then continue to layer the same way using all of the ice cream.

4.  You may need to re-freeze at a few points along the way if the ice cream is melting too quickly.

5.  Next comes the carving. Each piece, from bottom to top, should be trimmed with your knife so that it’s slightly smaller than the last, until you’re at a small point for the top of the pyramid. You can then leave as is, or smooth the sides to be flat.

Layer ice cream

ice_cream_top

 

6.  Continue by decorating the sides with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.

7.  Then place in freezer to re-firm.

8.  The end result is delicious, and the process is fun! You can set this up as a race between a few teams to see who can build the pyramid the quickest, or set a timer and see which group could build the tallest pyramid in the allotted time. Traditionally, matzah is only kosher for Passover if it’s made in 18 minutes or less, so you could try setting an 18-minute limit for your game as well.

 

 

 

 

Finished product

9.  As soon as it’s completed, place the finished product in the freezer to let it firm up before serving. You may actually have to let it set in the freezer as you go, depending on how quickly you are assembling it.

10.  To finish off, you can drizzle some chocolate sauce or caramel on top.

Chag sameach (happy holiday)! Please share your ice cream pyramid photos on InterfaithFamily’s Facebook page!