15 Israeli Inspired Recipes for Lag B’Omer


May 7th 2014

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Lag Ba’Omer is a festive day in the midst of the mourning period known as Sefirat Ha’Omer.  Traditionally people make bonfires and children play with mock bows and arrows to celebrate the life and teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.  It seems that there are not necessarily a group of foods that people identify specifically with Lag Ba’Omer, although in Israel that seems to be changing.  This holiday is celebrated with vigor around the country, but none more so than in Meron, the resting place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.  Many celebrate the holiday with kebabs and traditional foods, and many Americans have brought the tradition of s’mores to the holy land.  Below are 15 Israeli Inspired recipes for your Lag Ba’Omer celebration.


Joojeh Kebab

Chicken Kebab- Joojeh Kebab: This kebab is inspired by a mix of traditional Persian flavors including saffron and turmeric.  Any fears of serving tough or dry meat can be forgotten because this marinade makes the chicken tender and flavorful.  A great alternative are the classic Chicken and Veggie Skewers.


Lamb, Cherry Tomato and Red Onion Kebabs: Lamb is a great twist on the classic beef kebab.  Pile on cherry tomatoes and red onions  and enjoy a fantastic combination of savory lamb, sweet roasted tomatoes and the sharpness of red onion.  Or take the beef kebab to the next level with Grilled Chimichurri Beef Kebabs.


israeli potato salad and rainbow salad

Israeli Potato Salad: I was thrilled to find out that my family wasn’t the only one who approached potato salad with the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach!  In my family we call this “Aunt Ettie’s famous Potato Salad”, we skip the paprika; go light on the pickle juice; and use the canned baby peas and carrots instead of frozen peas.  In short, this recipe can be easily altered to fit your family’s preference.  Once you find the right balance, you’ll find yourself serving this potato salad not only on Lag Ba’Omer, but for every shabbos lunch!


Turkish Salad

Turkish Salad: I love how this recipe takes accessible ingredients and transforms them into an global eating experience; you probably have most of these items in your kitchen already!


Israeli Salad: So simple, yet so delicious.  I could capture the quintessential flavors of Israeli salad, but this recipe makes it so easy, the olive to lemon ratio is 1:1.  Another super quick salad sure to put a smile on people’s faces is the Israeli Cabbage Salad.


Spicy Eggplant Salsa

You can’t serve traditional Israeli foods without some form of eggplant!  Try one or try all of these versatile eggplants recipes.  There’s the Spicy Eggplant Salsa, Marinated Eggplant Salad, and Eggplant Babaganoush.



Luck for all of us in Chutz La’aretz, popular Israeli street foods can be found in almost every major city.  Now, you can make Homemade Shawarma and Falafel in your own kitchen without a massive spinning griller or a deep fryer!


Marble Halvah

S’mores aren’t exactly a traditional Israeli food, more a by-product of the many American Olim who wanted to enjoy a childhood favorite while basking in the glow of the Lag B’Omer bonfires.  While most people differ in their s’more making technique, the ingredients are pretty much the same everywhere.  Instead, try Israel inspired desserts such as Marble Halva and Peanut Butter Bamba Mousse can be made at home, sans bonfire


The Mother of Chocolate Chip Cookies


May 7th 2014

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My Mother was the Queen of chocolate chip cookies. When I was younger, if there was a shalom zachor, a Kiddush or sheva brachot, my mother was asked to make her famous chocolate chip cookies.

Yet, as I mentioned in the past, growing up, our house was the healthy house. There was no junk food in our home. No soda or sugar cereal. No cakes, pies or candy. Amusingly, the one thing my mother did allow us, was her homemade chocolate chip cookies. She was famous for those confections.

She would make a huge batch, (7 cups of flour) and stash them in the freezer for Shabbat or other special occasions. When the opportunity came and we were allowed the cookies, we were given permission to have 2 and only if we ate them with a glass of skim milk.

Being that we were rarely allowed to have these sugary treats, my siblings and I would always sneak cookies from the basement freezer. My mother finally had to put a note on the Tupperware container in the freezer informing us that she counted how many cookies were in the Tupperware and let us know of our demise, if any were to be missing! That was the end of our cookie heists.

While eating the cookies were our objective, baking chocolate chip cookies with my mother is one of my fondest memories. She never used a mixer. She mixed the dough in an extra large Tupperware bowl with her handy dandy wooden spoon. I would love making the cookies with her. The best part was when her back was turned and I would put my finger in the dough and shove the dough right into my mouth before my mother would turn around! * My sister and I were pros at swiping the dough behind my mother’s back.(mind you, we were the most well behaved children…we just loved cookie dough) After my mother would place the dough on cookie sheets and take the cookies out of the hot oven we would wait eagerly for her to give us the go ahead to have a warm gooey cookie. The whole process was heavenly.

As a mother myself, I too make my mother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe with my kids. When my children were younger they would get upset if I made the cookies while they were in school. To this day, my 18-year-old son still enjoys making the dough with me. Unlike my childhood, he doesn’t have to divert my attention to take some cookie dough; just clean hands and no double dipping. One swipe and done, I love it. And sometimes as an extra bonus if the wind blows just right, it gives us a chance to just talk! Cooking and baking in the kitchen with our kids and family lends itself to the possibility of extraordinary bonding -and I am all for that!!

Here’s the recipe for my Mother’s famous chocolate chip cookies (Click here).

Check out my collection of decorated serving pieces please visit me at SwirlGifts.com or onFacebook here.

*Homemade raw cookie dough is not recommended, may contain salmonella.


Why Mom Wants Vitamin K2 for Mother’s Day


May 6th 2014

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I know this sounds weird, vitamins as a Mother’s Day present, I must be crazy.  Last year, I happened to read an article about a recent study that showed Vitamin K2 had a measurable impact on bone health.  A few days later my mother in law was telling me that she was worried about going off Fosamax, a popular drug used to increase bone mass in those who are at risk for osteoporosis.  There are many known side effects related to Foxamax and my mother in law was weighing the benefits with the potential risks.  I suggested Vitamin K2 based on the article that I had read and when she told her doctor he said it was worth a shot.

Now, a year later, her bone density has actually improved, most likely due to the Vitamin K2 and she couldn’t stop thanking me.  I realized that I had actually given her the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Vitamin K was first discovered in the 1930′s.  Most of the attention has been given to Vitamin K1 and its effects on blood clotting.  In the last decade researchers found that the Vitamin K2 is vastly different from its counterpart and can offer benefits in bone and heart health.  If you are looking to add Vitamin K2 to your diet and not ready for a vitamin supplement, Vitamin K2 can be found in butter, egg yolks, and animal-based foods (especially liver).  Eat your leafy greens for lots of Vitamin K1 and pair it with some chopped liver for your Vitamin K2.  For vegetarians, look for Natto, common in Japanese food that is a great source of Vitamin K2 and is not as high in calories and fats as animal-based sources.

So with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, along with flowers and chocolate, you might want to show you care with Vitamin K2.


Click here for the Best Chicken Livers recipes.


sources: Today’s Dietitian


Grocery Shopping In Israel


May 6th 2014

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Ask Us: Dalesusan asked, “Where do you find the “same” ingredients in Israel that you used in NY? When I visit for a month, I miss some of my “staples”, although other items are better in Israel (like soft cheeses)?”


I totally agree with you. I just adore the soft salty Bulgarian cheese readily available in Israel. I crumble it into omelets, scoop it on top of salads and spread it on bagels. It’s got this fabulous creamy crumbly consistency (almost like a soft smooth feta) that just makes it perfect for all these applications. I also love soft salty Chemed and Tzfatit cheeses and well, I could go on, but that wasn’t your Q.

As for the “same” ingredients… the answer depends on where you live. If you find yourself in a heavily Anglo neighborhood some of your “staples” should not be too difficult to come by. My local supermarkets carries everything from familiar national brands like Heinz Ketchup, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Philadelphia cream cheese, Kellogg’s cereals, Hershey’s chocolates, Duncan Heinz cake mixes and icings, Oreo Cookies, Kikoman Soy Sauce, Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce, Gold’s Duck Sauce and Horseradish Sauce, Mikee’s Teriyaki Sauce, Mike and Ike candies, Barilla Pasta, Keebler’s Graham Cracker Crust, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Sharon’s Sorbet, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, Skippy Peanut Butter, Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar, Costco’s Kirkland brand products, Organic pumpkin puree, frozen spelt pie crust, and the list goes on. There is a large selection of gluten-free products as well.

I shop in Ramat Beit Shemesh at BEST Market and in Beit Shemesh at Osher Ad. No, we don’t have everything (I really miss Earth Balance, Toasted Sesame Oil, and Ume Plum Vinegar) and it’s impossible to completely transplant the American shopping experience (with it’s over abundance of selections) but we do have enough.

“Enough” meaning we get by and make adjustments. Especially if you are only coming for a month at a time it can be fun to break from your “staples” and lean toward local ingredients and products.

Since moving here I use tahini, silan (date honey) and amba (tart mango sauce) like crazy. Cumin and z’aatar are two of my favorite spices. I buy persimmons 20 at a time and I’ve gotten used to the fact that we may never cut into a large pineapple ever again. (In Israel we have these adorably cute little pineapples. But what’s not so cute is how many of those adorable mini pineapples it took me to make my Tropical Fruit Salsa).

I know anglo neighborhoods in Jerusalem and around the country that report similar findings. I think it all really depends on what your staples are. I cannot get Greek yogurt here (similar to the Chobani I loved and lived on) to save my life. So I make my own Semi-Homemade Greek Yogurt and make do. I find the chickens really fresh and juicy and CLEAN here and the checked herb and lettuce selection bountiful. I adore the tomatoes and cucumbers and eggplants and have gotten used to the fact that the onions look like they were just pulled from the earth. (They arrive at the store roots and dirt and all). And most importantly I live by this handy dandy list of Israel cooking tips and substitutions put together by our wonderful friend Dvora Rotter and the ever helpful and supportive JOY of KOSHER Israel community. Also check out our community comments on this SOS call to all Israeli cooks. Perhaps if you let us know WHERE you come when you come and WHAT you miss we can be of more help.

Until then, we can’t wait until you join us again soon.


I Am An Israeli Woman


May 5th 2014

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In honor of this Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s 66th Independence Day, Haaretz, put out a list of 66 Israeli Women You Should Know.

It’s my biggest surprise and honor to be counted among them. Thanks to all of you because if you weren’t here I wouldn’t be there. And with immeasurable gratitude to G-d that our family has been able to realize our dream of living in Israel.

It’s still not yet entirely second nature for me to say it, feel it, and think it, but… I am an Israeli woman.

In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut here is a look back at some of my favorite Israel videos and posts.

Happy Yom HaAtzmaut!


Watch the whole series of JOYofALIYAH right here:


Watch the whole series of JOYofISRAEL right here:




11 Different Things You Can Make With Sausage, and...


May 5th 2014

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Editor’s Note: Every time we post a recipe with sausage we get at least one comment about sausage not being kosher.  Then when we put a call out for you to Ask Us Anything, you asked: “Some of your recipes require sausage links. I can’t recall ever sieing kosher sausage in the supermarket. Which brands are kosher and where can I find them?” Yosef Silver to the rescue with everything you ever wanted to know about kosher sausage.


Long before the advent of the refrigerator, making your food last a long time wasn’t just good economic sense, it was a matter of survival. “Gedempte (well-cooked) chicken” didn’t become a classic yiddish recipe because Bubby liked to overcook her chicken, it was a way to make soup then roast the bird. One chicken, two meals.

Around the world, sausage, blood pudding and kishke became geographic variations of a staple that not only allowed you to use parts of an animal that might be harder to cook, but it also allowed you to cure the meat so it would last for a long time.

Dried, cured salami, now served with artisan crackers and stone ground mustard was born from our ancestors primal need to survive.

Sausage has clearly come a long way.

As is true with many food products, you get what you pay for. I’d hazard a guess that the less you pay for your sausage, the more likely it is to be filled with the sort of meat you probably don’t want to eat. There’s a wide range of kosher sausage available today and here are some of my favorites.

KOL FOODS have quality and taste covered. With 100% grass fed and organic foods, KOL Foods is my go-to for both my “healthy” English Breakfast and my Kishke Croutons. Their line of sausage products has everything from the Turkey Frank to Bratwurst, and Kielbasa, representing sausages from around the world. KOL Foods Sausages are available nationwide from their website and if you’re not sure what to buy, I recommend their sampler packs.

Jeff’s Gourmet Sausages are well known in the Los Angeles area and their Sausage Factory and store on Pico Blvd often has people lining up for their favorite bite. Whenever we’re back in LA, we fly home with half a dozen packages of Jeff’s Mergez, a Morrocan beef and lamb sausage combo. Unfortunately, these sausages are only available in LA, but if you’re nearby they have plenty of variety.

Jacks Gourmet may be best known for their Facon but they have a healthy line of sausage too. Like KOL Foods and Jacks, they sell Kielbasa and Mergez, and my favorite, often found on the shelf of our local grocery store, is their spicy Italian sausage. Dice that sausage with some sweet potatoes and add to an omelet for the perfect Sunday brunch!

Grow and Behold, sells pastured meat raised on small family farms.  They too sell a line of sausages covering all the flavors.  Their sampler pack is a great place to start.

Joburg was started by a South African man to bring the famous Boerwoers to the US.  The main difference between boerwoers and the other sausages we have talked about is that they are still raw and are not cured.  Joburg also offers a line of traditional sausages.

Sausage isn’t just about hot dogs or quick food, it can be a great ingredient in any number of recipes. Here are some of my favorite sausage themed recipes that I hope inspire you to add Sausage to your next grocery list!

Smoky Chicken and Sausage Stew

Smoky Chicken and Sausage Stew

Smokey Chicken and Sausage Stew
A flavorful Sausage can add a punch to a slow cooked meal or stew. This combination smells delcious as it cooks.

Healthy English Breakfast
A lighter version of the British classic with a unique alternative to the traditional blood pudding!

Glazed Pap and Wors Kebabs
This South African classic reminds me a little of the American Corn Dog with a delicious glaze on the outside.

Paelo Scotch Eggs
This recipe uses sausage in a whole new light to create a unique paelo-friendly dinner treat or picnic snack.

Beer Braised Sausage

Beer Braised Sausages
Braising your sausages in a dutch oven brings out the flavor of both the beer and the sausage for a magical and juicy first bite.

Turkey Apple Sausage Bites
Turkey and apple is a great combinations and these sausage bites are so quick to make from scratch.

Baked Eggs with Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash
Typing the name of this recipe has my drooling. I might need to make this for dinner tonight!

Baked Potato Stuffed with Chorizo Chili
Another out of the box use for sausage, this time using a Mexican (soy) chorizo as the base for a chili.

Sausage and Chicken Jambalya
I love jambalya and the fact that Jamie’s mastered a slow-cooker version is simply inspiring!

Stuffing Muffins
I learned the art of putting sausage in my stuffing muffins from my mother in law. Thanksgiving isn’t complete without these guys!

Homemade Kishke
It’s really not too hard to make a vegetarian kishke at home, especially with this quick kitchen hack.

Tomato Basil Salad with Kishke Croutons
Whether you make it yourself or buy it in the store, save a kishke for this salad next time. You’ll love how these croutons come out.


Celebrate Israel with Traditional Israeli Food


May 2nd 2014

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There are many ways to celebrate Israel here in the US on Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s independence day.  Most of the time it involves eating our favorite Israeli foods.  In Israel families pack large picnics and go out to BBQ and there is no reason we can’t do the same here.  Israeli food like Hummus and Zaatar has become increasingly popular among all people in the US over the past couple of years and it has become such a part of most of our homes that I rarely sit at a Shabbat table without being served hummus and often matbucha.  My favorite part is starting the meal with lots of little salads and spreads with some fresh pita.  Then you can grill up some chicken or kabobs or fry some falafel and your meal is complete.  Here is the menu I am thinking about this year, feel free to make your own spreads or take a little help from the store.

israeli style hummus

Israeli Style Hummus



No Knead Whole Wheat Pita

No Knead Whole Wheat Pita

Black Olive Falafel from Taim

Make Your Own Black Olive Falafel with this recipe from Taim

ground lamb kabob

Adana Kabob

Israeli Inspired Leafy Green Salad


Cauliflower Couscous


What are you Yom Haatzmaut plans?


Healthy Gourmet Flavored Salt From The Dead Sea


May 2nd 2014

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A startup founded by Israeli environmental activist Ari Fruchter, recognized that the unique mineral rich salt composition of the Dead Sea equals or surpasses other super premium table salts, like Fleur De Sel and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. Inspired by a small Palestinian salt-field on the edge of the Dead Sea which had been successfully harvesting culinary salt for several decades, a business idea was born and a subsequent Kickstarter campaign for Naked Sea Salt reached its goal in less than 48 hours.

Harvested using traditional, sustainable methods, Naked Sea Salt is all-natural, low-sodium, free of chemical processing, additives, or refinement, and blended with herbs and spices to create fifteen different flavors.

In coordination with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), a leading environmental organization committed to water preservation and rehabilitation in the region, Fruchter’s operations is not expected to have a significant impact on the Dead Sea’s water levels or surrounding environment.

Naked Sea Salt encourages peaceful coexistence and economic cooperation, working with the very same Palestinian company that Fruchter first encountered in 2011. With its dedication to environmental and economic concerns, part of the company’s mission is to serve as a model of sustainable, ethical practice for private manufacturing companies in the region and promote conservation so the Dead Sea can thrive and offer its rare gifts to future generations.

I was excited about these salts for many reasons and love the story behind them, but after I received a sampler set including these 15 flavors I became a huge fan from a culinary perspective. I have been using them on everything as a finishing salt and they add tremendous flavor. I thought I would choose my favorite and order and larger bottle, but I love them all and my kids enjoy choosing the right salt for each dish. I would order the sampler again.

For more information and to order your own salts visit their website, https://nakedsea.com/shop/. They ship to the U.S.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary starter kit of salts from the company with no obligation to write anything about them, all opinions are my own.


New Gourmet Flavored Cheeses *Giveaway*


May 1st 2014

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We will be giving away a cheese sampler every week during the month of May.  This post is sponsored by Sincerely Brigitte. I have written many articles about cheese and the evolution of kosher cheese, from a limited selection of slices that tasted like orange plastic to a world where kosher cheese has expanded from the kosher aisle to the gourmet aisle. The latest addition to our cheese board is on a plate of its own! Sincerely Brigitte has created a line of flavored cheeses that will complement almost any dairy meal or side dish. The six flavors include Jalapeno Cilantro and Chipotle, Parsley Chive and Garlic Basil, Tomato Olive and Blue Marble. They all have their unique taste, but they are made to complement, not overpower, with a mild Monterey Jack or Cheddar base.

Sincerely Brigitte cheeses are getting attention from cheese aficionados of every stripe, I have been using the cheeses over the past couple of months in all my Italian and Mexican dishes and my whole family loves it. The kids love choosing which cheese to sprinkle over their pasta or melt into their veggie taco. I love saving a step by using the flavor of these cheeses to transform an otherwise boring dish You better stock up, once I started with these flavored cheeses it makes it hard to go back to plain old cheddar. And stay tuned for more adventurous flavors to come, I am sworn to secrecy, but they sound amazing!

Brigitte, the cheese maker and longtime friend of Joy of Kosher, created these cheeses in hopes of creating a community of cheese lovers just like her. I know we have a lot of cheese lovers on this site and that is why we have teamed up to offer 4 CHANCES TO WIN!!

Over the next month we will be giving away four Sincerely Brigitte Cheese Sampler Sets including 1 of each of the 6 flavors with a little black cooler, a $40 value.

Enter below with Rafflecopter and you can enter daily or weekly to win, every Thursday in May we will pick one winner and share a new recipe featuring one of the cheeses.

Get started by commenting below, which flavor do you think will be your favorite?

The first winner is Erica S.

The second winner is Esti W.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Sincerely Brigitte, all opinions are my own, to find out more about their cheese, click here.



Cooking With Joy: Ktzizot – Israeli Mini...


May 1st 2014

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Remember the last time you opened up a new jar of spices or coffee?

You know that amazing aroma that hit you?

Yah that happened here too.

For this recipe, I had to buy a few new spices that I have never had before. There is a new supermarket in Monsey (where I live) called Evergreen. Its an incredible new store that has every single item one could possibly need to cook kosher. Not only did they have every single spice that Jamie calls for in this book, they have a few varieties of each- walking down their spice aisle will be like learning a new language, one that I was very excited to be learning!

The Sumac I got came in a bag. I had never seen or tasted it before. It has a beautiful purplish color and had a surprisingly fruity scent. I brought it over to Hubs all happily, he said it smelled weird.

Our five year old heard that and said ” that’s not a nice thing to say”. :)

Hubs said, your right it smells “interesting”.

While I was mixing it, the delicious scents of cinnamon, allspice and sumac blended together with the onions, parsley and meat and turned hubs into a believer! Quite a deviation from his standard Hungarian fair.

I decided to pan fry the mini burgers. Hubs and I could barely wait for them to come out of the pan before devouring them.

Ktzizot (Israeli Mini Burgers) page 33
DRESS IT UP Hummus-Topped Ktzizot

At least we kept one for the picture!

Our five year old was hanging around the kitchen and wanted to get in on the action. He happily took a bite of the cute mini burger. I asked him if he liked it- he just nodded since he was too busy chewing.

This recipe was crazy fast and easy to prepare. Oh and did I mention DELICIOUS! I will definitely be adding this to my weeknight dinner repertoire.


4 Mother’s Day Brunch Menus


April 30th 2014

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This year the adage April Showers Bring May Flowers has proven to be quite true, and as May approaches so does Mother’s Day.  Brunch is a very special way to remind the special women in our lives that care.  Preparing brunch is a major task in and of itself, add to that the many delicious recipes out there, choosing your menu can at times be overwhelming.  Below are 4 menus to try this Mother’s Day.




1.  Mediterranean Inspired: All too often brunch is filled with too many heavy foods.  This Mother’s Day, get inspired by our friends in the Mediterranean by serving light, yet satisfying entrees. Start with the Bitter and Sweet Radicchio Salad and Mini Crustless Quiches with Asparagus and Oven Dried Tomatoes. For the main meal, try the  Mediterranean Baked Trout with Fennel Salad with a side of Roasted Spring Vegetables with Pesto Dressing and Israeli Potato Salad.  For dessert, try Molasses Cake Parfaits with Poached Pears or the delightful Babka Bundt Cake.


2.  Steak and Eggs: If you’re planning to make brunch your only meal of the day, then this menu will surely keep you full!  Start light with Spring Lettuce with Pastrami Croutons and Balsamic Reduction salad and Pickled Deviled Eggs.  If you still have room serve the hearty, yet healthy Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup. Then try the Baked Eggs with Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash.  If you’re not tired of eggs yet, enjoy Vacherin or instead you could serve Bourbon Mousse and Gingersnap Cookie.


Wonton Brunch

3.  Wonton-Style: Brunch may not translate into every language, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating your own non-traditional brunch menu inspired by this classic dish.  Start with your choice of wonton soup, be it Vegetable Wonton Soup or this chicken based Wonton Soup. Keep the wonton theme strong with Tuna Tartar with Honey Sesame Wontons and Wonton Chips with Edamame Dip.  For the main course think outside of the box with Wonton Beef Empanadas and Sesame-Soy Steak Stir-Fry on Wonton Crisps. Serve pareve ice cream with Chocolate Raspberry Wontons to end the meal on a sweet note.


4.  Gluten-Free: This menu is based classic brunch options, but with gluten-free alternatives.  Create a grand brunch buffet or mix and match any of these delicious options. There’s the  Gluten Free Whole Grain Blueberry Scones or Flourless Banana Pancakes. While  Swiss Chard, Pear and Gruyère Tart, Fig and Onion Galette, Falafel Crusted Cheesy Croquets, and Smoked Salmon Rolls are great animal-based protein options. Satisfy that sweet tooth with Four “C” Tart with Gluten Free Crust or the Super-Moist Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake.


Kosher Parmesan: A Passion


April 30th 2014

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If you had asked me in my twenties what I would be doing thirty years from now, never in a million years would “cheese production” have crossed my mind. My story stems from a passion for travel and a love of good food; I left the finance world to pursue my dreams, and along the way, I found one of my favorite foods: Parmesan cheese.

A few years ago, I had the chance to taste the most incredible aged Parmesan from Argentina. It was Cholov Yisroel, aged 2 years, and made by a second generation Italian family who had immigrated to Argentina. I fell in love with the cheese and knew I had to find a way to bring this incredible flavor to my friends and family back home. But sadly, this foray into importing did not last long. A year later, heavy import duties, shortages of milk, and currency fluctuations made it impossible for us to continue.

My passion for Parmesan didn’t end in Argentina. I was convinced that there had to be a way to bring kosher Parmesan to the US. We looked at importing Parmesan from Italy directly. I found one cheese of a particularly incredible quality—it was authentic Parmesan Reggiano. There was one problem: import duties and the unfavorable dollar- Euro at the time meant that importing cheese would be like importing pure gold. I don’t have a problem spending money on food products, but even I, a gourmet food lover, have limits. The Italian adventure was cut short before even getting off the ground. However, my fascination for great aged Parmesan continued.

Seeing that I was having little luck in importing cheese from abroad, I discovered a great solution.  I was sure that we could make great Parmesan right here in the US. And I’m so happy we decided to try. I beamed with pride, when Anderson International Food’s inhouse rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Vogel, made our first production in Wisconsin. No more import duties, no more milk shortages. Here, we could shake hands with the dairy farmer, visit the farms, and make sure that we used only the very best quality milk for our cheese. I’ve learned from experience that making kosher Cholov Yisroel cheese is a very personal venture. We’ve created strong relationships with farmers across the country, and I feel so lucky to call many of these new business partners my friends.

After 12 months, our first production of cheese was ready to be cut and packaged.

We agreed to take our first wheels and chunk them. (We also added shredded and grated Parmesan.) I am partial to grating my own Parmesan; I always have a grater on hand and a chunk of Parmesan in my fridge.

I am so excited that Parmesan has become one of our staple products. My friends know how much I’ve learned about cheese over the past few years, especially Parmesan, so I am often asked to share my favorite serving suggestions.

Here are a few questions that I’m often asked:

How do you eat Parmesan?

A good Parmesan will add a dimension of flavor to any pizza, steamed or grilled vegetables, casseroles or salads. Sometimes I like to use Parmesan instead of salt. I cannot think of a dish that cannot be enhanced with Parmesan, except maybe fish, though I am sure my Italian friends would disagree with me. I am still discovering the versatility of this cheese.

Can Parmesan be added to a cheese platter or cheese board?

Yes! I use small chunks of Parmesan, especially when it is 12 months old and it is still fairly easy to cut into small bites. With a little jam and your favorite wine, you have an instant party.

Does Parmesan make a good snack – and is it healthy?

Absolutely! Sometimes when I am famished, I will slice an apple or a pear and eat it with a few pieces of Parmesan. With Parmesan, it is easy for me to show some restraint. The cheese has such intense flavor, a small piece is very satisfying. Unlike Brie which I love straight out of the fridge, since one bite can easily lead to half the wheel disappearing. Not a good thing!

Here are two of my favorite recipes with Parmesan:

Parmesan Crisps

Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Late Spring 2013) – subscribe now.



Easy Flourless No Added Sugar Banana Pancakes


April 29th 2014

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Way back when I was single and living in NYC I used to lose weight on Pesach. The story goes that I used the oven in my Manhattan apartment for storage – never turned the thing on. That’s not just some artistic liberty I took when writing my first book Quick & Kosher Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing, it was the G-d’s honest truth. I ate out, like it was my job and on Passover subsisted on yogurt, fresh fruits and veggies. All in all that made me a happy (skinny) TV Producer.

Now that I cook, for my family and for a living, I gain weight on Pesach (and sometimes year-round) and feel this crazy need to detox post-holiday. I discovered these flourless banana pancakes at about 1:05 into this cute banana mash up video I happened upon. Well wouldn’t you know that on Passover I loaded up on matzo brie (because I don’t have the nerve to inhale that heavy of a carb laden breakfast year-round), and decided to save these no flour banana pancakes for my healthy post-Passover mornings.

I really didn’t believe this recipe. Couldn’t imagine how it would work with just bananas and eggs. Now I am not gonna swear (cause it’s not good to swear) that this is a seamless stand-in for fluffy flour laden pancakes. But, for a pancake-lover who wants to indulge without the added carbs it certainly does the trick. You can add flavor and texture by mixing in semi-sweet chocolate chips, coarsely chopped walnuts (or pecans), blueberries, or pumpkin puree – YUMEEEEE!

Hip Hip Hooray for this Kosher for Passover pancake recipe that just happens to be my new post-Pesach, year-round, breakfast treat!

BTW – did you like the style of the banana video? I am thinking about producing some like that… let me know.

Get the recipe for these flour free Banana Pancakes.


4 Spring Salads That Wow


April 28th 2014

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Throughout the year, a common Shabbat side dish in America might be butternut squash pies made with store-bought crusts laden with shortening. A dessert might be I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cream-cheese cheesecake. Chicken might be smothered in duck sauce (what sauce? You mean sugar and cornstarch?) or barbeque sauce (a.k.a. molasses, vinegar and cornstarch)

Hearty Salad with Gorgeous Mustard Greens

On Pesach, those very same people might find themselves making the freshest, simplest and most delightful dishes: Light salads with freshly squeezed lemon juice, chicken soup with healthy chunks of parsnip and kabocha squash, avocado blended in salad dressings to create creaminess in place of mayonnaise, and fruit-based desserts.  There is something beautiful about simple food, a mouthful of nature unto itself.

Bitter and Sweet Radicchio Salad

Bitter and Sweet Radicchio Salad

This type of eating doesn’t have to be limited to Pesach, or even just to spring. There’s a real beauty to eating seasonally. Imagine the feeling of having waited almost a year to finally eat a peach, or even a gorgeous, red, vine-ripened tomato. Throughout the winter, tomatoes are terrible and anemic-looking, yet people keep buying them and eating them like there’s no other produce to eat in the country. You can go ahead and eat tomatoes if they mean that much to you, but realize that they’ve probably traveled a long distance, which means they were picked while still green.

cashew ginger stir fried vegetables

Cashew ginger Stir Fried Vegetables

When fruits and vegetables are picked too early, they don’t get a chance to reach their potential — whether in nutrients or in taste. Compared to out-of-season imported fruit, local summer tomatoes are not only a flavor explosion, they’re also better for you. The recipes I’ve shared below use only seasonal spring produce. If you try to shop locally as much as possible, you’re also avoiding the extra costs of importing, you’re supporting your own country’s economy, you’re supporting local farmers (and, yes, you’re helping lessen pollution and reliance on Middle Eastern oil).

Roasted Spring Vegetables with Pesto

Roasted Spring Vegetables with Pesto

Use this opportunity to bring vegetables back into your diet in a wholesome and simple way. Instead of pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin, baked in store-bought crusts, try basic pumpkin slices drizzled with a little olive oil and tamari, and roasted with sesame seeds. And when it comes to creating new dishes, remember: gorgeous, fresh, seasonal vegetables will speak for themselves.

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Passover 2013) – Subscribe Now.


Quick Survey


April 27th 2014

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