Week {15} Recipes


February 11th 2015

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This week’s recipe list,

Sate Lilit  (make with ground chicken or fish)

Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

Raw Date Brownies

Chocolate Plum Walnut Torte

Kigal of Cholent (Kishke)

Kasha with Brassica Vegetables

Teriyaki Salmon

Pad Thai in Sweet Sauce


How and Why To Use Pressure and Slow Cookers


February 10th 2015

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Ask any of your middle-aged friends or relatives about pressure cookers, and they’ll likely conjure up a scene straight out of “Pulp Fiction.” While pressure cookers were at their most popular between the 1950s and 1970s, the rubber valves in those early versions could explode in your face pretty easily if the pressure got too strong, and many of us are still scarred by our childhood memories.

Pressure Cooker Risotto

Pressure-Cooker Wild Mushroom Risotto

Scared to death of scalding myself, I resisted buying one until well into my late 30s, when the stress of balancing work and motherhood made me decide that making a rich and full-bodied stock in 45 minutes or a stir-free risotto in 7 was worth finally facing my fears. After all, the staff at my neighborhood Williams and Sonoma assured me that modern pressure cookers will not release pressure unless properly locked, will release excess pressure easily, and will not randomly blow up in your kitchen (on the other hand, one food blogger last summer was visited by an anti-terrorism task force after Googling “pressure cookers,” which did make me wonder).

 Quick Homemade Chicken Stock

Quick Homemade Chicken Stock

But, how do they work? Water normally boils at 212°F at sea level. At lower pressure, for example in the mountains, the boiling point drops to a lower temperature. On the contrary, by sealing the liquid inside the pressure cooker, then boiling it, we create steam that raises the pressure in the pot, which in turn raises the boiling point of the liquid up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures and the steam make the food cook much quicker. Unlike microwave ovens, which can dehydrate and toughen certain types of foods and cook others unevenly, pressure cookers preserve moisture, flavor and most of the nutrients, while killing any parasites or bacteria. Hello, perfect braised ribs!

Nonna Miri's Beans

Nonna Miri’s Beans in a Flask… In The Slow Cooker

Despite of all their advantages, pressure cookers might still have too many drawbacks for the very accident-prone. Enter the crock pot, an appliance as all-American as apple pie (as a matter of fact, I’d never even heard of them until I moved to the US). Like the pressure cooker, the crock pot was buoyed by the post-war social changes which had brought many women to work outside the home. For an added touch of romance, the idea was inspired to Naxon (the owner of the original company, later sold to Rival), by his Bubbe’s cholent. The great innovation of the slow cooker was that it could be safely left unattended all day, putting the ingredients in before going to work and adding the last touches when returning from work. The slow cooker frees your oven and stovetop for other uses, or allows you to start cleaning those areas while still cooking part of your meal – which makes it a brilliant option for large gatherings and multi-course holiday meals.

Pear Cake

Pear Cake

However, speed is not the only reason to use a crock pot: there are plenty of other advantages to this method of cooking. For example, cheaper and tougher cuts of meat are tenderized through the long cooking process, which also allows better distribution of flavors – and once they are ready, they are kept warm until it’s time to eat. But the moist and gentle heat is also perfect for classic cheesecakes. At these low temperatures, the chance that the food will burn or stick to the bottom of the pot is practically zero. Which brings me to the main advantage offered by both the slow cooker and the pressure cooker, through opposite means (respectively, very low heat and very high heat): their ability to cook effortlessly and without stirring foods like risotto or polenta, that would otherwise require lots of babying. Foodie snobs might frown, but there are some days when you have better things to focus your energy on than your wooden spoon, and I dare your family members to tell the difference.


As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Late Winter 2014

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Cookbook Spotlight: Gefiltefest *Giveaway*


February 9th 2015

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The word doesn’t really exist – it was made up by Michael Leventhal, founder and organiser of a Jewish food charity and annual Jewish food festival in London.  It’s a play on the words ‘gefilte fish‘ perhaps the best known Ashkenazi dish.

This engaging cookbook is a collection of recipes from well known Ashkenazi and Sephardi chefs and food writers from across the globe, with a foreword by the best known of all, Claudia Roden.  It features personal favourites that you know are charged with emotion and every recipe has a story behind it.   Every dish reveals the writer’s roots, global wanderings and modern practicalities and passions.

The book brings together old and modern, with an especially strong section on chicken, lamb and beef for everyday or festival meals.

You’ll find asparagus and biltong salad from South Africa, tabbouleh and fattoush salad from Lebanon, artichoke and cheese casserole from Syria and rhubarb tart from Alsace.

Each recipe is what Jewish food is all about: loving preparation, pleasure in feeding family and friends, passing on the skills to later generations and celebrating Shabbat and festivals.

American contributors include: Ken Albala, Florence Fabricant,Sue Fishkoff, Jamie Geller,Stan Ginsberg,Joyce Goldstein, Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, Richard Grausman, Deborah Madison, the late Gil Marks, Helen Nash, Joan Nathan, Fred Plotkin, Steven Raichlen, Michael Ruhlman, Leah Shapira, Paula Shoyer and Tina Wasserman.

The Gefiltefest Cookbook will make a superb present and in the best of Jewish traditions, the proceeds will go to charity.

Here are just three of my favorite recipes:

Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray’s  Spring Asparagus and Pickled Red Onion Salad is an excellent starter for a Shabbat or holiday dinner. There is just something so elegant about asparagus stalks, with their bright green colour and tight, floral-like tips. Asparagus is one of the vegetables that really signals the coming of spring and that our winter dependence on root vegetables is coming to an end.


The poached leeks marinated in a tangy dressing in Florence Fabricant’s Leeks and Fennel in Anise Vinaigrette are elegant and appetite-whetting at the start of a meal. While creating this recipe, it occurred to Florence that the recipe could take on a different personality if fennel bulbs were combined with the leeks. She also added anise seed and tarragon to the dressing to reinforce the liquorice delicacy of the fennel.


Vanilla Cheesecake with Caramel Pecans and a Butterscotch Sauce is Rachel Davies’ take on a classic baked cheesecake with some extra special topping. She loves the jewel-like broken caramel on top of this cake, and it gives a nice crunch too. Her tip for this recipe: If you love toffee sauce, double the quantities and keep a little jar in the fridge to heat as a sauce with ice cream and desserts.

***Giveaway***  Win a copy of The Gefiltefest Cookbook by commenting below and then getting more chances with rafflecopter.
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/RECIPE/ White Chocolate Bark


February 9th 2015

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This recipe was so nice and easy! Perfect for Tu Bi’shvat, or any shabbos for a treat. The directions called for heating the chocolate in a pan over direct heat. I would suggest doing one of the following instead;

1) Melting in a microwave. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds until it’s melted.
2) Melting in a double boiler. Set your double boiler up over med heat. Place your chocolate in the bowl of the double boiler and stir until melted.
The microwave version is easier and what I ended up doing ☺

The white chocolate was very pretty and showed off the fruit in a great way. They look like little jewels on the chocolate. I also did a milk chocolate version and the fruit didn’t pop as well but the pistachios looked great. And to be honest I’m more of a dark chocolate person, white is not so much my thing. But it’s so pretty I’m glad I tried it! If you try it make sure to post a pic on Instagram and don’t forget to hashtg it #whitechocolatebark


A Healthier Take on Jewish Classics


February 6th 2015

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There are only a few things more confusing than advice on healthful eating: Paleoists, vegans, carb cyclers, ketone diet adepts, fructarians, vegetarians, flexitarians, doctors, dietitians, trainers, scientists, celebrities, coaches, chefs–and the list keeps going– all state that they’ve found the perfect way to eat, but many of them give opposite recommendations. And then, if we were already confused, there’s kashrut…However, if you look closely, there’s something everyone–including kosher laws–agrees upon: plants are great for us, and they should be the core of our diets.

We don’t normally think of Jewish dietary laws being plant based, however, they do give us plenty of freedom when it comes to the plant world. They also promote moderation with products from the animal kingdom; restricting us on how to obtain, combine and eat them. We do obsess with meat and dairy, however, maybe our eyes should be on the plants, which are pretty much free for all (except for checking them for insects, which are not plants!).

Adding more veggies into our dishes enriches them. Even the classics can benefit from the nutrients, phytochemicals (plant compounds), color, flavor, texture and fiber from roots, stems, florets, leaves, bulbs and even blossoms. Throw in more roots into your cholent, switch the bow ties in your kasha varenishkes for cruciferous vegetables to increase the dish’s antioxidant and health protective compound content, while you add some color contrast, crunch and a subtle sweetness. Here are the recipes to get you started, but feel free to get creative with what you get in the produce aisle or in the farmer’s market. Experiment with herbs, spices, and feel free to make substitutions. It’s hard to go wrong!

Healthier Cholent

My Root Vegetable Cholent is the perfect combination of healthy root vegetables, spices and beef stew meat, preferably pasture raised. The spices add lots of good-for-you compounds, like turmeric, which is a nutritional powerhouse and smoked paprika. The cholent should cook for a minimum of 8 hours but can also be set before shabbat and eaten at lunch.

Healthier Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha with Brassica Vegetables is twist on the traditional  Eastern European kasha dish made by toasting buckwheat. Some people find it a bit bitter. If you prefer, you can use buckwheat groats (untoasted) for a milder flavor.  Either way, it makes a delicious, nutrient loaded and gluten free option. Brassica vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and turnips have amazing cancer protective compounds, and you can interchange members of brassica vegetable family in this recipe, as you please.


Cooking With Joy: Somewhat Sephardic Chulent


February 5th 2015

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One aspect of this cookbook that I really like, are the intro’s that Jamie writes before all the recipes. Some of the things that she writes really pertain to me and how I am cooking my way through this book. In this recipe’s intro, Jamie writes “Who reads a cookbook in order, anyway?” Well I am very happy she wrote that. Originally when I started this project I thought that I would just go in order and cook every recipe. Well I haven’t really been doing that. Jamie was right- maybe nobody actually reads a cookbook in order! I am skipping around, and still building up the courage to cook the Family Fricasee from pg 171, not sure what about it scares me; I just haven’t brought myself to face it yet. Also, how many briskets or huge pieces of meat can my family eat in a row? (Don’t answer that)

Okay, now onto the actual recipe! This Chulent came out so delicious! It was such a pleasant change from our usual Chulent.  The way we make our usual is with beer, bbq sauce and Worcestershire sauce, so this had a quite a different flavor. I was wary of using cinnamon and chicken stock, but we along with our guests really loved it! We paired it with an Israeli salad to cut the richness. The use of rice made it so creamy and the chickpeas added a really nice texture.  The recipe calls for 4 veal marrow bones. I chose to use beef instead. The bones added SO much flavor but they did make the Chulent a little greasier than I would have liked, so next time I will only use 2.

DRESS IT UP Puff Pastry Sephardic Chulent Cups

Note: This blog series, Cooking With Joy, is meant to be a companion to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cookbook.  Most of the full recipes are only available in the cookbook.


Top 5 Jewish Comfort Foods You Should Make this...


February 4th 2015

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We survived January! Don’t listen to the groundhog, because despite whatever snow might be in store the days are only getting longer and you can forget it’s winter by getting a head start on Purim or Pesach planning (okay, maybe not quite yet).  We tend to reach for warming, comforting foods in the dark of winter and even more so on Shabbos when it’s a time to relax to truly enjoy.  Below are the 10 best recipes for 5 of the most famous Jewish comfort foods, since it can be a contentious subject they are not listed in any particular order, we all deserve to choose our own favorite foods!  A lot of people have family recipes from Bubbe, so let us know what you do different to make your classic Jewish foods truly comforting!



Garlic Honey Brisket

Garlic Honey Brisket: Jamie’s go-to, fool-proof brisket recipe that is as delicious as it is simple, or if you’re looking for a more barbecue inspired brisket try the “Overnight” BBQ Beef Brisket.  It’s hard to believe that brisket could be a gal’s best friend, but after tossing it in a marinade just sit back and let it do all the work while you reap the rewards of comforted and fully bellies alongside smiling faces.



Matzo Ball Soup: Otherwise known as Jewish Penicillin, and let me say not a week goes by in the winter when I don’t find a way to get some high-quality homemade matzo ball soup.  As long as you don’t pound them into baseballs, these will always bring comfort, but if someone is not a matzo ball fan try the Wild Rice Chicken Soup.



Geller Family Challah: Possibly the most famous challah recipe out there and even though it calls for a 6 pound bag of flour, you may devour most of it before anyone else realizes how much you made!  If there happens to be extra challah dough, make it into Challah Dough Cinnamon Buns for a warm erev-Shabbos treat.



Potato Kugel: Everyone always fights over the crispy corners, but serve them as individual kugel cups everyone will get their own!  You can also make this without the cups, just be sure to cook it in a glass pyrex, it helps to make it extra crispy.  Another must have is the classic Yerushalmi, or Salt and Pepper Kugel, the salt and pepper are a savory kick that differentiates this kugel from it’s otherwise sweet counterpart, raisin noodle kugel.



Family Heirloom Chulent: If people think post-Thanksgiving meal naps are a sport, then post-cholent Shabbos naps must be the marathon equivalent.  Whether you prefer old fashioned Ashkenazi chulent or are more of the Israeli Hamin fan, both  have an abundant mix of carbs and meats to keep everyone at the table satisfied.


Check out more Shabbos ideas here!



Cooking Portuguese with The Kosher Butcher’s...


February 4th 2015

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Adapted from ‘Cooking the Portuguese way in South Africa’ by Mimi Jardim

November 2014 was the first ever ‘South African Cook Book Awards’. TV cameras, radio personalities and journalists were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner and runners up.


​I’m sure you’ve all had one of those moments​ when you suddenly recognise somebody ‘really famous’ and they’re standing right in front of you in real life, and you think to yourself, there’s no point going up and being that ‘arb nerd’ introducing yourself with some silly statement! Well I had just one of those at that book awards. However, I did manage to push ​my way through the press just to confirm that right there in front of me was Mimi Jardim, Author, cooking teacher, food consultant and ​D​oye​n​ of Portuguese cooking in South A​f​rica. A gentle smile of acknowledgement from her seemed to suffice, until she saw my name tag and acknowledged my books!!!

She had a nurturing warmth where she almost took me under her wing introducing me to the South African Culinary World.  And ​wings I might add are her forte’ as she is the food consultant to Nando​’​s, the international chain of addictive Portugues​e flame grilled Chicken with a kosher franchise here in South Africa and branches opening ​soon in the United States.

​​I couldn’t wait to have her on my radio show and it was no surprise that a personality so warm and real would share all her tips, secrets and recipes for some of the most delicious Portuguese dishes I’ve ever ​made and ​tasted.

My family loves spicy food and just as a bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home, including of course a bay​ ​leaf tree and many chilli bushes in their gardens.

Being the food consultant to Nando​’​s would mean Mimi has made piri piri sauce on a scale from from 1 – 10 in ‘ouch’ factor.

Here is her favourite piri piri sauce.

Mimi’s Piri Piri Sauce

There are dozens of recipes for piri piri sauce. I prefer this very simple one. Piri piri chillies are VERY HOT. Unless you grown your own, they may be bought as dried, whole chillies. If you are using fresh chillies, crush or slice them, place them in a jar or bottle (preferably on with a cork top), add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a small piece of lemon rind, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt. Fill the rest of the bottle with two-thirds mixed olive and cooking oil and one-third vinegar. Cork the bottle and shake once a day. Leave for at least 10 – 15 days before using.

Chicken Mozambique is Portuguese version of Chicken Piri Piri.  My family loves spicy food! A bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home.

To save time while working in the fields, or at large church gatherings (festas), it is the custom in Madeira to skewer chunks of beef on bay sticks and to grill them over glowing coals. In restaurants today, kebabs are served on iron skewers which hang from a rack.

This Kebabs on Bay Tree Sticks recipe is very easy to try at home and it is amazing what an atmosphere it creates. The host offers the bay stick skewers to guests, who help themselves to chunks of meat. (Don’t forget to leave a hand free for the wine.) If you are using iron skewers, throw a few dried bay leaves into the fire – they produce a wonderful aroma. These can also be painted with blob of garlic ‘butter’ just before serving. Garlic ‘butter’ can also be served in a dipping bowl. Chunks of Portuguese bread/rolls can be placed on either side of a piece of meat to help pull it off the stick, then dipped in garlic!

Once you marinate the steak in Mimi Jardim’s Prego Steak Rolls recipe for 3-4 hours, you won’t be able to resist the the juiciness of the meat paired with the crispy Portuguese roll.  Dipping the the roll and steak into the gravy is key and, of course, my favourite is the taste of the bay leaves.


You can easily make Mimi’s Chocolate Salami recipe  your own. I added honeycomb, glaced cherries, baby marshmallow and melted the chocolate chips to replace chocolate powder for a non-dairy alternative. If you like nuts, you can add 1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts to the mixture.


/RECIPE/ Zippy Potato Skins


February 4th 2015

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This weeks review is a little late (so sorry) since I’ve been doing a little bit of travelling. Those of you following me on Instagram will have see the pics I posted of some healthy snack ideas. But back to business, the recipe that I’m going to talk about today is Zippy Potato Skins.

This is a great item for an appetizer to start off your meal or a perfect starchy finger food for a party. When I was mixing up the sour cream and spice mixture I tasted it once it was combined, and seemed like it was lacking salt. But I resisted the urge to add some, I wanted to try the recipe out, at least one time through before I started making changes and adjustments. Well that is, other than the change of not using the hot sauce – sorry Jamie but this family doesn’t like the hot stuff.

Baking the potatoes was very straight forward as was mixing the dipping sauce. Scooping out the flesh was fun, trying to be careful to not go too far and yet making sure I went far enough. But for me the bigger issue was what in the world am I going to do with all that leftover potato… but then finding recipes has never really been a weakness for me so I’m sure I’ll find something!

These served up very well and were absolutely delicious! Everyone loved them! And guess what?!?!? Once the dipping sauce was combined with the salty cheddar cheese it was perfect! Amazingly perfect. I’m sure once you try this recipe your mind will be full of inspirations with more possibilities for the skins. I’ve already been given some ideas for a possible chili, or some kind oftex mex mix. Ok, now I’m making myself hungry again. If you make these be sure to post your picture on instagram and hashtag it #zippypotatoskins


Israeli Inspired Cookies for Tu B’Shevat


February 3rd 2015

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I wanted to create a recipe that was at once inspired by the foods of Israel- fruit, seed and nuts for Tu B’Shvat. The connection to using fruit is so clear- of the four renewal holidays in Judaism, it is all about trees and the fruit they bear at it’s literal essence after all. But many Jewish dishes for this celebration also utilize the Biblical 7 species: wheat, barley, dates or honey, figs, pomegranates, olives and grapes or wine.  I wanted to focus on the contemporary Israel- widely multi-cultural, sophisticated and rich in local food traditions as well. My first thought: tahini. I can’t think of the Middle East, or mizrachi cuisine without it.

Heralded chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in his book Jerusalem with Sami Tamimi, has a great recipe for a tahini cookie – and I have made  it and enjoyed it. There are plenty of tahini cookie  recipes around – Bon Appetit’s Tahini Cookies; David Lebovitz’s Tahini and Almond CookiesMartha Stewart’s Tahini Cookies

(BTW Tamar Genger, Founder and Executive Editor of this website, wrote a great piece about tahini including a bunch of fun recipes found here)



I wanted to make sure my cookie, this cookie, was Tu B’Shvat specific. So it needed fruit. Big time flavor from fruit would be the ticket to making this cookie Tu B’Shavt-y. In terms of Israeli fruits, although Jaffa oranges might come to mind first for most people and perhaps even the prickly skinned sabra fruit, the fruit I associate with Israel is the pomegranate. I ate it there as a child. I was puzzled by the pareils and intrigued by the pungent, complex tart sweetness. Before I could get pomegranate molasses here, in the US, I used to simply reduce pomegranate juice – in and of itself a prized item, so hard to find in days of yore- and made my own. In this cookie I make a pomegranate caramel – sticky, tart and overtly sweet. The cookie dough is spiced and offers  a texture not unlike a good peanut butter cookie. And last but not least, the dough is not cloyingly sweet. And that is intentional. It’s rather European, just a little bit sophisticated  in sweetness. In Europe dough of many sweet treats are often devoid of sugar. My cookie has sugar, but it is just enough to take it right to the edge. These cookies are my 2015 my ode to the trees and plants, grains and fruits of modern Israel, through my American lens.  Enjoy.

Get my full recipe here: Tahini Pomegranate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies


Travel The World Without Leaving Your Kitchen


February 3rd 2015

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So Tamar and her Hubby (and really the entire family) love to travel the world, evidenced by their most recent trip to Bali, which I had to locate on the map, and which took them 3 days and 4 planes to get to.  So I may be exaggerating just a bit about their trek but I believe I am afforded some level of creative license when it comes to proving my point.

I on the other hand, am a real homebody.  I know it seems like I travel a fair amount for work but I do it just for work.  I don’t love flying, or bussing, or training, or boating, or driving for that matter.  I do love walking and hiking but not camping!  I don’t even like to leave the house at night.  I generally only leave for simchas, work and school meetings.

We have begun to travel and explore the whole of Israel.  Check out our trip to the Hermon Ski Resort in the Golan Heights, the City of David in Jerusalem, The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Morad Winery in Yokneam.  This I very much enJOY because Hubby does the driving (everything in Israel is “local” in that it’s just a car ride away) and we are together as a family on somewhat familiar ground.

But I do understand Tamar’s desire to tour and eat her way around the world (although I am not sure she would quite put it like that).  I just prefer traveling without leaving my kitchen.

Here are some wonderfully exotic, world inspired recipes  – thanks to the help of some of my friends – that you can recreate from the comfort of your kitchen.

See Tamar – I do get out some… or at least my friends do!


English Summer Pudding Cake

“English Summer pudding cakes are classic molded desserts that alternate layers of cake or bread, fruit and custard. It is a classic British dessert that is somehow a cross between a cake and a pie. It is best to use fresh fruit and is great way to use the fruits of Summer when they are plentiful. Frozen fruits work great though and make the recipe even easier to make any time of year. This dessert is deceptively easy. It looks so gorgeous, but you don’t even need a measuring cup to get this right. All you need is a nice mold, I used a flower pot and some patience, it has to set for at least 12 hours. Oh, you can wait. The best part of this recipe is you don’t need a measuring cup.”  – Iton Ochel

Click here for 107 more English and Irish recipes.


Swiss Chard Tart

Swiss Chard, Pear & Gruyère Tart

“One of my favorite lunches is a savory tart accompanied by a green salad. A few years ago, I spent several weeks working on a pastry assignment in Cascais, a small seaside town outside of Lisbon, Portugal. It was a quaint beach town with cobblestone streets and outdoor cafés that catered to the many tourists who flooded the town in the summer. Tucked away on a side street was an eclectic French café that served incredible lunches. The menu, which changed daily, was mostly composed of savory tarts, tartines, and salads. It soon became my hangout spot and to this day is the inspiration for many of the savory tarts I make.“ – Aran Goyoaga

Click here  for 292 more French recipes.


Sauerbraten – Classic Roast Beef with Apples and Raisins

“Classic German roast, my mom’s favorite for special occasions and holidays. I love to prepare it for Rosh Hashanah with apples, raisins and dried fruit like apples, apricots and figs that add a wonderful aroma and flavor to the meat. It’s a sweet and sour flavor, and the meat is so tender after being marinated for 3 days. If you don’t have enough time, at least try to marinate for a day.” – Tom Franz

Click here for more 17 more German recipes.



“Polenta has been eaten in Northern Italy for at least 3,000 years! It was initially made with spelt; once the Venetians introduced maize after the discovery of America, it became the ingredient of choice. If you have only tried the instant version, you need to upgrade to the real thing! Polenta tastes wonderful when served with either earthy stews or flavorful cheeses and stewed mushrooms.” – Alessandra Rovati

Click her for 569 more Italian recipes.


Slow Cooker Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

“A Louisianne Creole dish of Spanish and Fench influence… Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meat and vegetables and is completed by adding stock and rice.” – Wikipedia

Click here for 8 more Cajun and Creole recipes.


chicken filled brik

Moroccan Chicken-Filled Brik

With Saffron Orange Honey Brik is the North African version of the boreka, typically consisting of a thin dough around a filling and usually deep fried.

Click here for 58 more Moroccan recipes.


Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

The archipelago of The Canary Islands, though just off the coast of Africa, is officially part of Spain. The islands would be the last stop ships made on their way to The New World, and the first stop on their way back. This meat dish originated there and made its way to both Spain and Latin America.

Click here for 79 more Spanish recipes.


Teriayki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Teriyaki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

This tasty meal is a take on a traditional Vietnamese sandwich and a great way to use leftover beef you grilled the night before. If you don’t have any leftovers, simply grill skirt steak or flank steak marinated in teriyaki sauce and cool completely. This sandwich would be great with rotisserie chicken as well!

Click here for 406 more Asian recipes.

Now if only I could have earned frequent flier miles for all of that!



Cooking A Balinese Feast


February 2nd 2015

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On my recent vacation in Bali, I relaxed, shopped, went to the spa, made jewelry and learned to cook.

The Caraway Cooking Class teaches all kinds of cooking classes and is located near Nusa Dua in Bali.  That is where I learned to make my own spring rolls, use a mortar and pestle, wrap food in a banana leaf and make spicy sambal.

After the vegetarian cooking class I had the chance to meet up with Chef Kardino Zulhaidi, the head chef at the Conrad in Bali.  He has traveled the world, but recently came back to his birthplace, Bali.  The chef explained that the cuisine throughout Indonesia varies by the region and Balinese food stands on its own.  While Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng, fried noodles and rice, are traditional Indonesian dishes, they are not really Balinese.  He said that Bali cuisines is more fresh, lighter food.

Is it just me or is it really only a vacation when you get to drink out of a fresh coconut?  In Bali they don’t really use coconut milk to cook with, but they do enjoy drinking and eating them fresh.

Through my research I discovered that almost every Balinese recipe calls for shrimp paste.  There is really no substitute so for my kosher versions I just left it out.  I also adapted some of the ingredients to things I could easily  find in the U.S., for example we don’t have three kinds of ginger readily available anywhere by me and while I was able to get my hands on some Keffir lime leaves thanks to a friend, they are not easy to come by.  Taking into account these limitations, I tried all these recipes at home and still think they are flavorful and I highly recommend them.

I asked the chef to share some of his favorite most quintessential Balinese recipes.  I passed on the suckling pig, I didn’t think that was adaptable, but these kebabs grilled on lemon grass stalks sounded amazing.  He recommended them using ground chicken or even fish.  The lemon grass sure imparts flavor, but if you can’t find them any skewers will do.  The real trick in all these recipes is making the spice paste.  Get my recipe for Sate Lilit.

The other recipe the chef shared was for Chicken Betutu.  He says this dish is often made for special occasions with duck, but chicken can be used too, which is what I made.  I happen to get lucky and find banana leaves at a local ethnic market to wrap the chicken in, but you can always use parchment paper.  The wrapping and baking gave the chicken an almost smoked like flavor, that along with the amazing spice blend was a chicken to remember.  You can probably make wrapped individual chicken pieces too.

The next set of recipes I learned in the vegetarian cooking class, I even got a cute little video to help me remember and you learn how to make your own spring roll wrappers. I didn’t share all the recipes, because some are hard to replicate here.

After you watch, get the full recipe for Spring Rolls here.

This salad was actually made with shaved raw eggplant, cabbage, bean sprouts and a peanut paste for the dressing.  They call it Karedok, get the recipe.

I also learned to make a few sambal dips, spicy sauces, but the only one I have perfected is the spicy sambal ketchup.  I am working not he others and will share more as I have them.


Eat, Stay and Love in Bali


February 2nd 2015

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The sun was setting over the Indian Ocean at the Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa.  The sky a mix of red, yellow, orange, purple and blue – like a box of crayons spilled across the sky.  The 21 hour, two stopover marathon flight from JFK was most certainly worth it for this moment.

If you’ve never been to Bali, it’s about time to add this beautiful island to your bucket list.  The people are incredibly friendly, greeting the weary traveler with the warmest of smiles.  Our driver, Nyoman, was a walking encyclopedia of Balinese culture, traditions and traffic avoidance techniques that would have made the late Steve McQueen proud.

Full disclosure, Balinese food poses some challenges for the kosher traveler.  This is one destination where even Chabad has not yet settled (see below for info on Shabbat and holiday kosher meals) for the most part if you are looking for kosher food you need to either bring your own or hire a personal chef or live on fruit, vegetables and wrapped fish for the week and lots of the most amazing coffee.

If you are stuck with produce and fish, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  I enjoyed some of the most colorful and flavorful fruits and vegetables I’ve ever had in my life and the fish I enjoyed was so fresh it went from swimming to saucepan in less than a minute.  With a little advance planning most kitchens are able to accommodate requests for double wrapping or work with pans, knives or other utensils provided by guests who take the time to ask politely or have the hotel concierge make arrangements in advance.

What to Do

Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali, popularized by Julia Roberts, in “Eat, Pray, Love.”  It is a verdant stretch of rice fields, ravines and rivers surrounded by magnificent villas (many of which are available to rent) and excellent shopping and diverse dining options, including a few vegetarian restaurants.  The Hindu religious traditions run deep in Bali, and nowhere more so than in Ubud, where temples and other holy sites are everywhere.

We attended a traditional Legong and Barong Waksirsa dance performance, visited several temples, frolicked with monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest and toured an organic coffee plantation.  I even tried my hand at jewelry making at Chez Monique Silvermaking Class and made a pair of earrings for my daughter and mother-in-law.

For upscale entertainment, shopping and nightlife, Seminyak is the place.  Although bordered by Kuta and Legian which cater to a more rowdy, younger crowd of mostly Australians, Seminyak has a decidedly Hampton’s vibe.  In addition to dozens of boutique fashion and furniture stores, world-class DJs are choosing Bali and we got to spend a few hours at Mirror, one of the newest and poshest clubs on the island, where people dressed to impress and drink prices rivaled Manhattan.

Nusa Dua is one of the nicer, more family friendly beaches in Bali and is dotted with many resorts, shopping excursions and activities, including a wonderful vegetarian cooking class and food market tour at the Caraway Cooking School just 20 minutes away by car.

A far cry from Miami or the Jersey Shore, the sands of Nusa Dua are immaculate and the locals are very friendly – you will get asked for massages or water sports excursions, but  a gentle “no, thank you” is all that is necessary.  Nusa Dua is conveniently located near Jimbaran Bay where the aforementioned sunset puts on a daily show and if you like sunrises, Nusa Dua offers an unobstructed view each morning.  Modah Ani indeed!

Where to Stay

We spent most of our vacation at the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, a magnificent five-star resort in Nusa Dua.  Jean-Sébastien and Agung ensured our winter vacation was every bit as luxurious and romantic as our honeymoon.  The Conrad suites offered exclusive access to an adults-only swimming area, complimentary nightly cocktails and a room that rivaled our New York City apartment for size and far exceeded for luxury, with two (!) balconies boasting ocean views.

The Conrad Bali host water sports on premises right outside their meticulously manicured private beach and there was nightly Balinese dance performances and an array of family-friendly programming for small children so parents can enjoy some alone time.   There was ample lounge chairs around the largest pool I’ve ever seen and even when the hotel was at full capacity, it amazingly felt like a boutique with a staff to guest ratio that ensured that towels and sundries and daiquiris arrived in the blink of an eye.

For those seeking additional pampering, the Jiwa Spa was a wonderful place to begin and end our trip and right outside the hotel gates the Jari Menari spa delivered the best massage I ever had.

Final Thoughts

In all, Bali offers affordable luxury in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It beats to its own unique sound, a rhythm much different than the cacophony of honking horns and flashing lights in New York City.

In a companion article, I will be sharing some traditional Balinese recipes I learned while I was on vacation and a few recipes I adapted to kosher gratefully contributed by the new executive chef at the Conrad Bali.

Finally, not to be left behind is the incredible coffee culture I found in Bali.  If you love good coffee you will have some fun anywhere you go in Bali. From Luwak coffee, the prized coffee that is harvested from animal poop, to the many roasters around the island, I did not drink a bad cup my whole trip.

Note: Villa Shana Tova offers some holiday and Shabbat kosher meals by donation, for more information email [email protected]



Street Food Recipes From Around the World


January 30th 2015

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You are sitting at home imagining yourself traveling from country to country. Whether it is Thailand, Korea, Japan, India or Vietnam. You occasionally stop to purchase a hotel or house, or sometimes just stop to think “imagine if I was in…”

Many of us have already visited Asia but we are not referring to just the countries, we are referring to the different kitchens and culinary inspirations.

The smell of this Basil Chicken cooking will guide you to the kitchens of Thailand. Every bite is filled with  the spice of the chili pepper and the sweet taste of basil.

Pad Thai is a common street food in Thailand and according to a poll it is number 5 on a list of the World’s 50 most delicious foods. This Pad Thai in Sweet Sauce is easy to make and deliciously flavourful.

There is nothing like this crispy Vietnamese Naames Spring Rolls. After the initial crunch, the combination of all of the fresh herbs and the tamarind sauce make for a very tasty experience.

Although samosas can be filled with many different ingredients, Indian samosas are generally vegetarian and are served with mint sauce or chutney. These Vegetarian Samosas with a Mango Cilantro Chutney will fly your senses all the way to India so don’t forget to pack a bag!