DIY – Homemade Bubbly Cocktails

 

December 27th 2013

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This time of year sparkling wine and champagne are in high demand.   We love to toast with champagne and we love to mix it up too.   Light and fruity wine cocktails are the perfect complement to any celebration. When you have some bubbles, a bit of spice, and some succulent fruit, you can’t go wrong.

How to choose good wines to use in cocktails?

Look for sweet wines that can combine well with spice and fruit for complexity, and bubbles, which aerate the wine for a sparkling fizz that is festive and fun. These wines are sturdy enough to stand up to ice, and the preparations are simple enough to whip up for a crowd. L’Chaim!!

 

Sparkling Sangria

A bottle of Jeunesse Cabernet Sauvignon poured into a pretty pitcher is the start of a fruity batch of this Sparkling Sangria.  The bright wine with its berry and floral fragrances combine well with all kinds of fruits. The dried apricots, plums, and apples complement and suggest a Middle Eastern flavor profile; adding the spice and bubbles of Ginger Ale contribute the “wow” factor.

 

Passion Fruit and Ginger Cocktail

Morad Vineyard’s fruity wine distilled in Israel from passion fruit is a newcomer to the party. Light and sweet, it is great on its own, but mixed with ginger and vodka in this cocktail, it makes the party.

Sparkling Cocktail

Bartenura makes its fruity sparkling Moscato and Rose in the Monferrato hills in the south of the province of Asti, Italy. The bold bubbles and natural sweetness makes for a great cocktail mixer with any kind of fruit. Chill the wine well in advance and feel free to substitute with any juice you fancy.

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (February/March 2013) – Subscribe Now


 

Go To Easy Dinner For Hectic Days

 

December 26th 2013

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Every mom has one: a go-to recipe for hectic days. It may be a casserole, or a one-pot meal, it might even be a main course salad. And of course, we’re always on the lookout for a new go-to recipe because, we get bored eating the same thing all the time.

For the working moms at Oorah, never was such a dish needed than during Oorah Auction season. There’s barely a moment to breathe, let alone cook as we put it all together—the auction that is. This is the major event of our organization, which funds over 49 programs for Jewish children and their families.

Oorah Auction

The culmination of all our fundraising efforts, the auction is a big deal. The grand prize is $1,000,000. It’s up to us to make the website and the auction book look attractive and tempting to woo prospective donors into buying a ticket or two (or ten). But each day, we still come home to the laundry and our hungry families.

That’s when we want to have a repertoire of fast, easy, all-in-one meals to prepare, preferably with ingredients we can have at the ready in our pantries so we don’t have to run out to shop, first. You want this to be the kind of thing you can do as you’re walking in the door, kicking off your heels, scooping up a kid for a kiss, and listening to the calls on your answering machine.

Something Green

Tuna Noodle Salad is just such a dish. You’ve probably got the ingredients on hand right now. It’s a main dish salad that is a complete meal in one. It’s got carbs, protein, and something green (peas).

Are you thinking, “Peas are a CARB, not a vegetable?” So okay, if you want to get fancy, toss a bag of greens with some Craisins, nuts, and a bottled salad dressing. Put that out on the table, too.

But really—it’s totally unnecessary. Everyone understands that things get hectic sometimes, so lose the guilt. Just put this out on the table and dig in.

Here’s my recipe for Tuna Noodle Salad, what is your go to meal for hectic days?

 


 

Make The Best Strata For Your Winter Brunch

 

December 25th 2013

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When winter sets in, we want heavy, soul-satisfying food. The days are shorter, and we may be feeling sluggish, so we don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. That’s especially true of Sundays, when we don’t have to go anywhere and the day stretches before us unhurried and unpressured.

A strata is just the thing for a lazy winter brunch with friends. It’s gorgeous straight out of the oven, all golden and puffy, a real show-stopper. It’s basically a savory bread pudding. It’s called “strata” because the ingredients are layered like the stratosphere.

Prepare Ahead

The easiest dish in the world to put together, strata is a do-ahead dish. That’s a boon for me as a working mom, the communications writer at Kars4Kids. But the truth is, strata isn’t just something you do ahead if you choose; it’s actually preferable to prepare the strata ahead of time before the final cooking, so that the bread can soak up all the delicious custard mixture.

In addition to all these glorious attributes, strata is also a flexible dish. Here, I’ve used spinach, onions, and Gruyère cheese with a generous portion of Dijon mustard to enhance the flavor of the custard mixture. But you can add sautéed mushrooms, or go Tex-Mex by substituting corn, sliced black olives, and jalapeno peppers for the spinach and onion mixture and switching out some sharp cheddar for the gruyere. Add some julienned sun-dried tomato strips and a liberal dusting of chili powder and you’re good to go.

Sky’s The Limit

You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. The main thing is good bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. Everything else is up to you—the sky’s the limit. Let the strata steep overnight in the fridge in a pretty oven-to-table casserole dish, take it out while you’re making coffee (no cheating with instant) and a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s or Mimosas, and then pop the strata into the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Be prepared for oohs and ahhs. And yes, they’re going to want the recipe. Whether you’re willing to share is another question.

Here is my recipe for the Best Spinach Strata.


 

Brunch with An Asian Kick

 

December 24th 2013

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Curry, Caramel, Coconut and Chocolate Tart *Dear...

 

December 24th 2013

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Chocolate together with smoked chiles?  Chinese five spice?  Curry???  Well, yes, yes and yes!  But before we plunge into flavor adventures, let’s back up a bit.

As you know, there’s nothing else like chocolate.  It is great in both sweet and savory applications; it can be melted, chopped, grated and pulverized into nibs and powder for a multitude of uses; it can be used straight up and intense or blended with sugar and milk for a lighter taste.  And best of all, its deep, universally-loved essence blends beautifully with so many other flavors, each enhancing the other.

For me, the experimenting all started with truffles.  The first truffle flavors I developed professionally for my chocolate business, Dear Coco, were the most familiar: espresso, toasted coconut, salted caramel, peanut, banana, peppermint – classic pairings.  Then came the next level of flavor combinations: green tea, Mexican cinnamon and almond, smoked paprika, chai tea, lime – interesting and a bit different yet still very approachable.  Some unusual, off-the-beaten-path flavors became part of our rotating monthly truffle collections to spread the exotic and fun throughout the year: sesame, apricot anise, passion fruit, lavender, coconut jerk, balsamic vinegar.  Amazing – all these beautiful flavors (and more) blended with chocolate, and they all work – a testament to the beauty and versatility of chocolate.

Even after I developed 38 flavors of truffles, there were still possibilities on my idea list that I hadn’t yet explored.  Since I love making caramel I decided to detour from truffles and try something completely different: blending new spices and aromatics with toffee and then making all of it taste even better by adding chocolate.  And this is how our new Toffee Chocolate Bar line was conceived, developed (after tons of trials and refinements) and finally born.  And am I ever proud!  These unique, textured bars are loaded with flavorful handcrafted toffees, fresh roasted nuts and seeds, smooth premium dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt to balance all the flavors.  With eight different globally-inspired flavors (like our truffles), there is a toffee bar (or several) for everyone.

This dessert is inspired by one of our toffee bars: Madras, which combines sweet curry toffee with roasted sunflower seeds and sea salt in premium Belgian dark chocolate.  Curry and chocolate together might sound strange, but don’t wrinkle your nose – it is surprisingly delicious.  I took the flavor profile of this toffee bar (chocolate, caramel and curry) and added creamy, nutty coconut to create this “4C” double-decker tart (gluten free, dairy free).  This tart features a layer of fragrant, curry-infused caramel topped with a layer of smooth, luscious dark chocolate ganache, all encased in a chewy coconut crust and sprinkled with sea salt.

Try my recipe for this Curry, Caramel, Coconut and Chocolate Tart then enter to WIN.

I hope you’ll embark on a delicious chocolate journey and try this wonderful tart – let me know how you enjoy the chocolate adventure!

***Giveaway***

Toffee Chocolate Bar Gift Set (all eight flavors) Valued at $54.

Be transported by all eight flavors of Dear Coco’s artisan Toffee Chocolate Bars, hand-tied together with an elegant turquoise organza ribbon.  All natural, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, certified kosher pareve and 100% handcrafted in small batches with no corn syrup, trans fats or preservatives.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

Wild Rice Recipes

 

December 23rd 2013

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Wild Rice is actually the seed of a grass plant. The plant grows in shallow lakes and slow moving streams. Wild rice is native to America and China and is a staple of Ojibwa Native Americans.  Wild rice is endangered in many areas due to loss of habitat and it varies a lot in quality. The term wild does not accurately describe the growing environment and much of the rice we buy is cultivated and mechanically harvested.  True wild rice is river grown and hand harvested.

The perennial plants produce delicious and fragrant seeds each year. The seeds are very fragile and are susceptible to shattering which drives the price of the seeds up, that is why true wild rice is expensive, full flavored and elegant, but worth out.  Seek out a sustainable true wild rice that is hand harvested and you will be rewarded with a delicious and nutritious side dish. It is high in protein and dietary fiber so that is an added bonus.

Here are a few of my favorite wild rice recipes:

Soul satisfying and heartwarming are the words to describe this soup. Wild Rice tastes a bit like tea. The grassy-herby flavor paired with earthy mushrooms and vegetables make the soup a satisfying winter dish.

wild rice chicken soup

Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Popped Wild Rice is a fun garnish for soup and salads. (Most grains will pop when heated in hot oil.) Wild rice has a nutty flavor that pairs well with mushrooms, root vegetables and assertive salad greens such as arugula, spinach and water cress.

Miso and Shiitake Wild Rice Cakes work wonderfully with my soy braised chicken thighs.  The mixture of flavors offer tons of umami.

Have you cooked with wild rice? Let me know in the comments and let me know if you try some of these recipes:

Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Popped Wild Rice

Miso and Shiitake Wild Rice Cakes

Soy Braised Chicken Thighs


 

Nominate Your Favorites – 2013 Best of...

 

December 23rd 2013

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We’re Back.  We love to hear from you and learn about new and not so new chefs, wines, products, blogs etc.  Nominate yourself, nominate your friends and nominate your favorites.  The third annual  Best of Kosher awards are here!!!

This year we have a few changes including fun prizes to giveaway to all of you.

The Best of Kosher Awards is our online contest recognizing the best of kosher in eight exciting categories, as voted by visitors to JoyofKosher.com,  but before we get to all that we have to find our nominees and we need you to help us.

Starting NOW you can nominate your favorite products, restaurants, kosher food personalities and more!  The nomination period will go through January 6th at 11:59pm.  You can even nominate yourself (I am not telling anyone).  Just don’t nominate our new cookbook, we know you love it, but we have to keep it fair and so the Joy of Kosher Cookbook is not eligible for this contest.

 

 

The more you nominate the better chance you have to win!! We are giving away 2 prize packages of kitchen gadgets.  One from Lekue including a large Steamcase, Omelette Maker, and Citrus Sprayer (total retail value $70) and one from Rosle including Garlic Press, Egg Whisk, Meat Hammer and Locking Tongs (total retail value $136).

To enter please go to this page and click on nominate. (leaving a comment here does not count as an entry)

The Joy of Kosher Best of Kosher Awards in addition to being loads of fun will really give everyone a chance to showcase their favorite kosher brands and products.

Go get Nominating!!


 

Gluten Free and Celebrating With a Potato Bar

 

December 20th 2013

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It’s that time of year, at least for me, Graduation. My 21-year-old daughter is graduating from college this month and starting graduate school next month! Time flies. I remember when she was born with that full head of brown hair, her first day of preschool, her siddur party and so many wonderful milestones. I also remember the countless stomachaches, the visits to the pediatrician, the numerous phone calls from school, informing me that my daughter is once again not feeling well. It took years for my daughter to be diagnosed with gluten intolerance.

It happened by chance one morning at the gym. I was exercising and this famous actress was on tv explaining her newly diagnosed health issue. As I was listening I remember thinking, she is describing my daughter, stomach as hard as a rock, always looking 3-months pregnant, constant undiagnosed stomach pains, fatigue and more. She then went on to explain her gluten allergy. That evening when my daughter came home from high school, (yes, high school, it took us that long to recognize her condition) I told her about the show and we decided she needs to get off gluten (granted we never even heard of this before).

In the past, my daughter went off milk, she went off eggs, nothing helped, but the minute she withdrew gluten from her diet, she started feeling better. In just a short time her stomach was no longer hard. She started to look and feel amazing. Gluten was the culprit. By the time we went to the doctor to confirm, my daughter had not been on gluten for an extended time and the Gastroenterologist felt there was no need for her to go back on, just to confirm that she is allergic to gluten. Our family diet slowly changed and gluten products no longer made up the core of our meals. Sometimes it is challenging, but like most thing we have adjusted.

And so, as we celebrate my daughter’s graduation from college, in grand style, we will make adjustments to the menu. Adjustments will be made, but no sacrifices. Gluten free no longer means you have to settle!

We are having a light meal with 2 kinds of soup: Zucchini and Butternut Squash

And we are going to have a baked potato bar with all the trimmings!

Sometimes potatoes get a bad rap as the ‘other’ starch.  But did you know that the potato is a great source of vitamins and minerals? It contains a healthy dose of iron, magnesium, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and Niacin. We are planning on a spectacular potato bar, with your choice of butter, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, roasted broccoli, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chives, tuna fish, baked beans and you can never go wrong with a bit of feta cheese. All delicious and all gluten free. Bring on the party, spuds and all!

Of course we will have homemade ice cream cake  for dessert, now that is something to celebrate!

If you are celebrating too or even if you are not, come check out my designs for amazing gift ideas for any occasion, please visit me at SwirlGifts.com or on Facebook here.

 


 

The Best Chicken Liver Recipes

 

December 19th 2013

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Once upon a time…. and it wasn’t that long ago either, we had to grill and kosher liver at home. Today, thank goodness, we can order it form some butchers grilled and already koshered for us.

I remember my mother having to kosher her own meat. I can still see those koshering racks, chunks of salt and lumps of ‘something’ floating about in aluminum buckets under our kitchen table, but come dinnertime, thank goodness, it had miraculously evolved into a magnificent roast.

Fortunately, life took a dramatic turn in the ’70s when a decision was made that all meat would be koshered on the butcher’s premises. The backbreaking job of koshering meat at home was finally over and I’ve got the ‘chutzpah’ to complain about the occasional piece of liver!

Offal is the name often used to refer to various organ meats.  I always felt that it was an ‘awful’ name for wonderful delicacies such as pickled tongue, livers peri-peri and chopped liver. So I decided to change the word offal (or ‘awful’ as my children like to call it) to ‘awesome’.

So, here are a few ‘awesome’ recipes that helped me get my iron deficient daughter to eat livers! It worked for me, I hope it does for you!

Chicken Livers Peri Peri

Chopped Liver and Bagel

Glazed Pickled Tongue with Parsley Butter Bean Sauce

The trick to the main recipe here is the peri peri oil, very common here in South Africa, and sure to be a big hit wherever you are too once you try it.  About 6 times a year (maybe more, as it’s a family favourite) I make up a bottle of Peri-peri oil, click here for the recipe.

 


 

Eggplant 101 – Cooking and Freezing

 

December 18th 2013

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Over the summer, I had an opportunity to try different dishes at several new restaurants around the area. I was surprised at the many ways that eggplant can be prepared.  Once my children married, B”H, and left the nest, I am the only one in my family who will eat eggplant parmesan.  I didn’t want to bake it, then waste it since I couldn’t possible eat it all by myself in one meal!  I also didn’t want to eat it day after day.  So for all of you “empty nesters” who try not to overcook, here is my method for eating what you enjoy when you want to have it and not waste a morsel of it!

I bake it in 9 X 13 pan.  Afterwards, I divide it up into individual portions and flash freeze them in my Tupperware Freezermates container.  I layer it on parchment paper in the container for easier removal.  Anytime I would like to eat it for a Dairy meal, all I need to do is pop one portion out for myself, while making something else for my husband.  Both of us are happy and I do not waste any food.  These days, I use this method for many other recipes where I don’t miss out on favorites when there is no one else who will share it with me.

Whether you choose to grill it, roast it, or bake it, the slightly sweet, fiber-rich eggplant can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes utilizing various cooking techniques. Eggplant has a mild flavor and “meaty” texture and is available year-round. Because of its robust flavor and texture, it makes the perfect addition to meat and poultry-based stews and casseroles, and vegetarian main dishes. Here are a few tips for buying, storing, and cooking this versatile vegetable, which is recommended on many food plans.

Buying and Storing Eggplant

The most common eggplants, which are dark purple, are known as American, or globe eggplants. But there are also Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and Spanish varieties, which come in a many shapes, sizes, and colors, including squat and tear-shaped, canary yellow, bright orange, and white, as well as striated.

When shopping for eggplants, be sure to look for those that are firm, heavy, and smooth. Eggplants with wrinkled or flabby-looking skin will most likely be bitter-tasting. To check for freshness, simply press the vegetable with your thumb; the indentation should fill up rapidly if the eggplant is fresh.

Eggplants should be kept in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for a couple of days if not refrigerated, or for up to four days in the fridge (as long as you wrap them tightly in plastic wrap).

Cooking Eggplant

Eggplant can be cooked and eaten with or without its skin. If you want to eat it without the skin, you can peel it before cooking or simply scoop out the flesh when you’re ready to eat. The flesh of eggplant begins to turn brown when exposed to air, so avoid cutting the vegetable until you’re ready to cook it. Eggplant can be added to soups, stews, and casseroles, or eaten on its own. Here are 4 more ways to enjoy eggplant:

  • Grill eggplants whole (with a couple of holes poked in them to let steam escape) or grill them halved or sliced with a light coating of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of herbs.
  • Roast eggplant slices for sandwiches or add cooked cubed eggplant to a tomato sauce and serve with whole-wheat pasta.
  • Add cooked and mashed eggplant to your favorite hummus recipe. It stays fresh in any sealed Tupperware round container.
  • Steam halved or cubed eggplant, then drizzle with a little sesame oil, some reduced-sodium soy sauce, and vinegar for a delicious appetizer.

Click here for lightened-up version of the classic Eggplant Parmesan we all enjoy.


 

Family Game Night Menu

 

December 17th 2013

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It has been a really cold Winter so far and Winter hasn’t even started yet.  A friend told me that she heard this is going to be the snowiest winter in years and I can’t even begin to guess what the Jerusalem snow storm is supposed to tell us.  The lesson I am choosing to glean is to start planning some fun nights in.

Even without snow, when it starts to get really cold, people just want to cuddle up in their pajamas and stay warm.  That doesn’t mean the fun has to stop, instead, it is time to host a game night!!  Get the kids or your friends together and enjoy your winter at home.  You have to work a bit to prepare some fun food, but we will keep it easy so you don’t miss out on any of the action.

Snack type foods are the best for game nights, in my opinion, but they need to be substantial and still include some veggies.

 

spinach tidbits

I always keep frozen spinach around to make last minute veggie sides like these Spinach Tidbits.  You should have all the ingredients and they are easy to make and even more easy to eat.

Pomegranate Guacamole

Pomegranate Guacamole

Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole are a staple game night food.  If you can swing it, dress it up a bit with this recipe for Pomegranate Guacamole, great with carrots and celery to dip too.

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

I try to keep things healthy, so if I am going to go for a breaded, hot melty cheese stick at least I can make it at home and bake it instead of frying.  It is easier and lower in fat.  Perfect to dip in some hot marinara sauce too.  Get the recipe for Baked Mozzarella Sticks

acorn squash chips

Acorn Squash chips

I love all baked veggie chips, this time of year, I keep Winter squashed on hand so that these Acorn Squash Chips are perfect.  You can even toast the seeds for an extra snack out of the same food.

Maple Almond Popcorn

Maple Almond Popcorn

If you have had enough savory foods, let’s move on to the sweet stuff.  Got to love this Maple Almond Popcorn with its sugary coating.

Fruit Skewers With Yogurt Dip

Fruit Skewers With Yogurt Dip

Make your fruit more fun to eat, let people assemble their own or make them ahead.  Everyone loves food on a stick especially if you give them something to dip it in, Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Dip.

smores pop tarts

S'Mores Pop Tarts

No family night is complete without s’mores.  If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, go ahead and make the original, if not, try these S’Mores Pop Tarts.

You can bet your friends and family will stay warm and cozy and create memories and fun together all Winter long.

 


 

Comfort Me With White Bean Stew *Link Up*

 

December 16th 2013

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Years ago I made a random white bean side dish that I left on the hot plate to stay warm for Shabbat dinner.  When I was ready to serve the dish the liquid had mostly evaporated and I feared a disaster in front of a table full of hungry guests.  Turned out to be the best dish on the table.  I love happy accidents, they lead to the best recipes.

This recipe is  perfect on a cold winter night when all you want is something hot, soothing and full of flavor, this concentrated bean stew totally does the trick.   The secret is the sun-dried tomatoes.  The longer they sit the more they infuse the stew with a salty, umami rich flavor you will want to savor. And let’s face it, we can all use a bit of sun in December.

Since the time of my happy accident I have played around a bit, adding chicken, using different kinds of greens and other flavorings, but my favorite is still the original “mistake” recipe from two years ago. Combine any hearty winter greens, white cannellini beans, rosemary, lots of garlic and sun dried tomatoes.  You can use chicken or vegetable stock or water and cook for at least an hour and simmer for up to 3 hours on low.  Pure comfort!

By the way, one of my favorite books is Comfort Me With Apples from Ruth Reichl and that inspired the title.

Enjoy my recipe, Chard and White Bean Stew Recipe.



 

Comfort Comes In Many Forms

 

December 16th 2013

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In the Winter time no matter what the weather, we all enjoy some comfort.  So many foods make me feel comforted, whether for the memories associated or the flavors they provide, here are my favorite comforting foods.  What are yours?

SWEET:

Individual Baked Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

I often make this Individual Baked Challah French Toast (pictured above) family style in my beautiful blue oven to table Emile Henry casserole dish. I am just jonesing for a brunch party so I can bake this baby up.

For a fancier version of sweet challah goodness try my Dressed Up Apple Challah Kugel Tower with Apricot Honey, page 95 in my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

SOUP:

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread

Warm the tummy, warm the soul. I now live in a house of stone and in the winter there’s a chill that’s hard to shake without my space heater, some fuzzy slippers and some real goooood soup. This Italian Vegetable Soup + Cheese Bread is ready in minutes.


And when some serious comfort is in order I simmer a pot of Poppy’s Potato and Sour Cream Soup – and Dress It Up with a spice rub around the rim of individual mugs. Get the recipe on page 73 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

“SANDWICH”:


Sometimes you just want a bite of a burger in a bun. My Dressed Down Unloaded Burger is good enough to speak for itself on page 207 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.

For something with a little more bling this BBQ Beef Burger with Quick Pickles will spice things up.

SAVORY:

chicken-pot-pie-with-herbed-drop-biscuits

And if it’s a winter one pot meal you are after my Chicken Pot Pie with Herbed Drop Biscuits is a family wonder of wonders.

Same goes for my “Buttery” Crusted Beef Pot Pie on page 220 of my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes – requires not much more than a spoon to scoop and serve and satiate, family style.

Stay warm, stay safe, stay cozy. Cook and oh… buy the book ! :-)

 



 

Have You Got The X Factor?

 

December 13th 2013

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Have you got the cooking X factor?

One of my guests who participated in my cooking tour recently complained, “I get frustrated to invest so much time in cooking when the food is gone so quickly.” Can you imagine what I answered?

I told her that, for me cooking is creativity and passion; when the food I cook has been eaten it’s an opportunity to get to another enjoyable cooking creation. I am always happy to hit restart and come up with something new! It is even better that I don’t need to find space for all my creations, they are eaten up!!

How about you?

How do you feel about spending hours in the kitchen and then the food disappears quickly?
What do you enjoy about cooking?
Please share your thoughts with me here in the comments for on my Facebook page.

I come from the love of cooking, not just the love of food and eating. This love of cooking opens all my senses. I appreciate the colors and shapes of the foods from the fruits and vegetables to the decorated cakes, breads and pastries. Above all I love the smells of home-made bread and pastries – and that’s even before mentioning the taste!

X factor means some advantageous quality that someone or something is attributed to have, a quality that is regarded as mysterious and difficult to describe or isolate. (Wikipedia)

My love for food starts way before the cooking itself, from the moment I plan what I’m going to cook I also spend an enjoyable time reading and searching for Israeli recipes and new ideas .

I so enjoy my shopping time especially when I’m in the market. I can spend hours there, like a child in a toy store. It is so wonderful choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, discovering what’s new, finding new places and chatting with the vendors. It is well known that food connects people even if they are strangers.

Walking through the market on my own and while on a food tour, I get tempted to buy more than what I need. This is exactly what happened to me last week when I found these gorgeous baby eggplants. I had to buy some and pickled them that same day.

Get my recipe for Pickled Baby Eggplants here.

I am also lucky to get to meet lovely people on the culinary tours of Israel from all over the world with whom I share the joy of cooking and who also have this X factor for food and cooking.

If you like food, and cooking is your passion you’ve got the X factor!


 

New Recipes Using Homemade Dried Falafel Mix

 

December 12th 2013

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It really doesn’t get any better than homemade falafel fresh out of the oil! But making falafel can be a bit of a pain and I find myself wanting to just go out and buy falafel or use that boxed mix to make them at home. Instead of using that sodium-filled falafel mix from a box, I’ve created my own easy recipe for homemade dried falafel mix using garbanzo bean flour. The falafel mix is filled with the flavors of cumin, parsley, paprika, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder and it tastes good on just about anything.

Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce

There’s nothing better than a juicy piece of chicken, especially with some serious crunch from the skin! For the Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce, I drizzled the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper then dipped it right in the dried falafel mix. It has some major flavor impact from the homemade dried falafel mix and cooking the chicken at a high temperature created the perfect crust. Inspired by the flavors of the mediterranean, I mixed together a quick and flavorful tahini sauce to drizzle over the chicken.

Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes

Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes

So not only can you make delicious falafel balls and crunchy chicken, you can practically dip anything in the homemade dried falafel mix so make a big batch! Instead of frying up your average croquette, try dipping leftover creamy mashed potatoes in homemade dried falafel mix for a new spin on the classic. These Falafel-Crusted Cheesy Potato Croquettes have a crunchy exterior and a creamy and cheesy mashed potato filling. Perfect as an appetizer or side dish!