Do it Yourself

 

Cheese for Dessert

 

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Yesterday, we learned how to construct a cheese plate.  The basic concept is the same when you are serving cheese as a dessert.  With a few minor changes in accompaniments you will be good to go.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Serve a light lunch, salad and quiche and save some room for dessert.


 

The Making of a Cheese Plate

 

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Coming soon to a table near you: long summer days, outdoor entertaining and Shavuot.  All of these occasions lend themselves to enjoying cheese.  I realize that the concept of a cheese course is fairly new to most Jews having grown up in America with very little kosher cheese to choose, but the time is right.  There has never been more kosher gourmet cheeses available than there are right now. So, even if you don’t think you’re a cheese person, give it a chance, you might surprise yourself.

Now, the question is when to serve this fabulous course, it really is suited equally to appetizer or dessert.  Take your pick, would you rather come home from shul, say Kiddush and sip your wine with cheese and crackers and nuts and olives while waiting for the food to warm up.  Or consider an easy dessert that will satisfy everyone.


 

DIY – Make Your Own Ricotta and Cream Cheese

 

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I look forward to Shavuos and planning my menu around delicious dairy cuisine. Comforting foods like lasagna, blintzes and cheesecake always draw admiration from friends gathered around our table.

It’s one thing to make homemade blintzes, but who actually makes the cream cheese in the blintz, or, for that matter, the ricotta in the lasagna?


 

DIY – Coconut Milk with Step by Step Photos

 

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I don’t believe there is any kosher for passover coconut milk on the market yet, at least I haven’t found it.  I remember last year there was a big deal over Almond milk that was certified.  It is so nice to be able to make non dairy desserts without using chemical filled artificial creamers.  Almond milk is a great option, but it can get pricey and sometimes the flavor is not ideal or you might need something with a little more fat.  That is when I turn to coconut milk.   On passover coconut is a big part of many desserts, think macaroons, how could there not be kosher for passover coconut milk.

Then I happen to be talking to a woman from Ghiana who told me she always makes her own coconut milk and it is not a big deal.  Especially if you start with already grated, which of course she doesn’t.  Then I remembered that our food blogger friend, Shoshana gave us a recipe last year for Passover pudding where she tells us how it is done.  Shoshana says to pour boiling water over the coconut and then puree in a blender and strain it in cheesecloth.  However, many recipes on line suggest soaking it in warm water and then straining it and that you can even go through the process twice with the second batch being thinner.  I thought that would be even easier, not to have to puree it, but I was not happy with the results. I think if you can get fresh coconut and grate it yourself you would not have to puree it.  But if you want to go the easy way we will still with Shoshana and here is how it is done.


 

Ingredient Spotlight: Horseradish

 

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Whenever we approach “Maror” at the Passover Seder, I see my little cousins cringe at the prospect of having to eat the bitter herb to remind us of the bitter work the Egyptians forced on the enslaved Hebrews. The horseradish we consume can even bring tears to your eyes if you have too much. By the end of the two Seders, there is usually enough horseradish to last for 3 or 4 more Passovers or preserved to be used with gefilte fish for the whole year.  The sale of bottled horseradish began in the 1860′s, but there is nothing like making your own.  Here are 2 different methods for preserving.

Drying: 1. Set oven to the lowest possible temperature. 2. Either slice the horseradish into uniform thickness, or grate using a box grater (this is how my leftover horseradish usually is anyway) 3. Lay out the horseradish in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in oven to dry. Check occasionally, until they are brittle to the touch. (**note–I don’t know how long this actually is) 4. Once fully dried, store in a dark airtight container on a dark shelf. If you have a vacuum sealer, you can vacuum seal the horseradish and store in the freezer. Mark with the date and discard after 6 months. Grated: 1. Grate the horseradish with a box grater. Be careful not to put your head too close or you will feel a rush of the released horseradish oils that will make your eyes tear. 2. Take a small clean jar that can hold 1/2-1 cup. Fill halfway with quality red, white, or light balsamic vinegar (1/4-1/2 cup). 3. Spoon the grated horseradish into the jar. Gently swirl with a bamboo skewer to make sure all pieces have been coated with vinegar. 4. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. Note: Homemade horseradish is usually stronger than store bought especially if you make it when it is very fresh and pungent. Here are some more ideas for how to use horseradish: -Sniff it when you have a cold–it will clear your sinuses right up! -Slice thinly using a mandolin and serve in salads. There are many varieties of horseradish, including a watermelon horseradish, which look beautiful when sliced and served this way. -Boil or steam the horseradish and eat it like you would a turnip or steamed carrots. The cooking process eliminates the pungent flavor of the horseradish, so for those who don’t like the flavor, this can be a great way to still benefit from the nutrition of the root vegetable, which is a great source of fiber.

Gefilte Fish Cakes with Horseradish Sauce


 

A Pirate Purim Party

 

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Hi Everyone! I’m so excited for purim! It is my favorite holiday. I remember as a kid rushing around with my mom to get all the fun items for our family mishloach manot. My mom always came up with a poem, theme, or found a cute container. All these years later I’m still doing the same thing.

Every year I try to figure out what my kids will be interested in. Over the years we’ve done Pinkalicious, Dr. Seuss, dogs, and the list goes on and on. This year my kids decided they wanted to be Jake and the Never Land Pirates. I figured that would be easy. Get them all pirate costumes and we’ll do some sort of treasure hunt. As I started to plan I decided to take it one step further. The Usdan Family became the Shushan Pirates!


 

How To Make The Perfect Cocktail

 

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Purim is coming, we’re so happy, we’re gonna make cocktails! Now that the especially long February is over, it’s time to spring into March with some class. Here are two delicious cocktails with my tips on how to get the most out of your drink.

For a full list of cocktails for Purim click here.


 

Purim DIY packaging Ideas

 

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I am not the most creative person nor am I really very artistic, but I sure do appreciate the beautiful work of others.  I know the way I love to make delicious treats others like to create cute little containers to package them in.  Does anyone want to partner? I will make the treats and you make the packaging?  Let me know.

Anyways, over the past few months I realized that we can get so many great ideas for our Purim Mishloach Manot from everyone else’s holiday packages.  Take a look at some inspiring ideas and let me know if you decide to use one and when you will be sending them over.


 

Dress Up Yourselves and Your Table with These Easy...

 

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Dressing up on Purim is so much fun and something most children look forward to the entire year. Use these instructions to create an array of hats and accessories to enhance a variety of costumes.  In the time it takes to say “abracadabra” (okay, just a bit longer than that) you can craft a cape worthy of any good king, queen, or “magician.”  The most incredible part is that it’s done with no needle and thread involved. How’s that for a Purim miracle!

Crown

Materials


 

Easy and Gorgeous Do-It Yourself Chanukah Table...

 

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Calling all Jewish Hostesses! Let’s use our year-round Jewish holidays to express our creative passions, as well as our desire to keep our families coming back for yummy food and a great Jewish holiday atmosphere. With so many table setting shopping resources at our fingertips, its exciting to set a fun holiday table that combines the old with the new, has a dash of color and sparkle, while also making sure to connect to the Jewish holiday theme at hand. No matter what your own personal style, budget, and the table decor that you already own, there is always a creative, yet easy way to update your holiday look.

This year, I decided to stick with the traditional Hanukkah blue and silver color combo mainly because I already owned blue water glasses given to me by my consuegro (Syrian word for son-in-law’s mother) as a Rosh Hashanah gift, plus I happen to own a set of blue and silver rimmed Greek style dishes (a perfect Macabee theme!). Wanting to add some holiday knicknacks to my Chanukah table, I decided to check out the local Ikea and West Elm stores and see what I could pick up without too much of a dent to my wallet.


 

Quick & Crafty Chanukah Decorating With Pom...

 

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With Chanukah just around the corner, now is the time to pull out some quick and crafty decorating ideas to get your home ready for the holiday! Not to worry, I’ve got a few ideas that will get you started in no time, and your house will look more festive that ever without too much effort. Sounds great, right?

Chanukah Pom Pom Chandelier JOK


 

Homemade Granola

 

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I remember the first time I realized that granola ain’t exactly a low cal diet food.  SO disappointed!  I mean, it just screams healthy, doesn’t it?  Shouldn’t a girl be able to eat all she wants of the stuff and go on losing pounds & inches? But I got over it. In an incredible feat of denial, I decided granola shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure.  I still categorize it in the “good-for-me” food group.  Hey, better granola than Godiva.

My recipe for Homemade Granola includes flaky light coconut chips and is sweetened with brown sugar, maple syrup (with its rich, earthy flavor) and raisins.  You can swap in an equal measure of craisins or chopped apricots, or pineapple, or any dried fruit of your choice in place of the raisins.


 

How To Spatchcock Turkey and Chicken

 

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Ok, the name is funny, but this is serious cooking. Spatchcocking poultry is the process of removing the backbone and sternum of a bird. The bird is then flattened out by pressing on it. (more…)


 

How To Make Ice Cream Without An Ice Cream Maker

 

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Although it is true that the best way to make smooth creamy ice cream is with an ice cream maker it is possible to get very good results without one as well. The key to creamy ice cream is to freeze the mixture quickly. In order to get the best results it is essential that the ice cream is well chilled before freezing. While this method may seem a bit strange it produces a creamy ice cream that is almost as smooth as one made with an ice cream maker.

Make ice cream according to the directions in the recipe, making sure to chill the mixture at least several hours but preferably overnight. Line two rimmed cookie sheets with plastic wrap. Pour half of the mixture onto each pan and freeze until completely firm. Remove one pan from the freezer. Working quickly, peel the ice cream off the plastic and break into medium-large pieces. Place them in the bowl of a food processor fit with a metal blade. Process until the ice cream is the texture of soft serve. Place in a container and freeze until firm. Repeat with the remaining ice cream. If making a recipe with a mix-in, such as cookie dough, fold the mix-in into the ice cream after removing it from the food processor.


 

Father’s Day Unique BBQ Sauces

 

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Let’s get real. We all know how uber important good BBQ sauce is to the success of your grilling. If you’ve got the right one, it’s all the seasoning you need; if you’ve got the wrong one, ain’t nothin gonna save your meat.

There are great bottled brands on the market, and “best” is a matter of taste. But if you are feeling a bit adventurous, why not try your hand at an easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe? I admit I never thought of creating my own BBQ sauce until I was inspired by the “DIY (Do-It-Yourself ) Diva” columnist, Felisa Billet, in my Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine. It turns out there are some DIY recipes which are easier than you or at least I thought.