Cooking A Whole Brisket Overnight Is Perfection


March 27th 2014

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It took me a long time to love brisket. It’s the kind of meat that can be dry, stringy and hard-to-chew if you don’t cook it right.

My mother-in-law changed my mind. Unlike my mom, who insisted on using the first-cut portion, my mother-in-law clued me in to the second cut, which is more flavorful. Yes, it has a lot of fat but most of it melts away during cooking. Besides, it’s the fat that softens and enriches the meat as it cooks.

After years of never making brisket for my family, I started experimenting. It took a while before I got the dish right.

Here’s what I learned: a whole brisket (first plus second cut) is my best bet because it serves so many and it also satisfies the people who prefer the leaner portions. It’s festive looking too, which makes it suitable for extended family holiday meals (although I should say that I also make this large piece throughout the year and freeze smaller portions for those nights when I get home late and don’t feel like cooking from scratch). Besides, the whole brisket includes that awesome tasting top, the deckle – that so-called “inferior” second cut that some restaurants now prepare and offer at some spectacularly high prices.

Despite the usual arguments about whether brisket should be cooked in the oven or on top of the stove, the real key is to cook it at very low temperatures for a very long time (using either method). I set it up just before I go to sleep in a 225 degree oven. The most delicious and fragrant alarm clock in the world – braised brisket perfume – wakes me up in the morning. This works for smaller cuts too but decrease the time of course.

I don’t use a lot of seasoning – for us, meat flavor is paramount. I also don’t add any liquids, but I do include water-loaded vegetables such as onions (and sometimes tomatoes and celery), which baste the brisket beautifully and provide lots of intensely flavored pan juices.

Like all good braised dishes, brisket tastes better a day or so after you cook it. I separate the meat, pan juices and vegetables. That allows me to scoop off the fat easily.

Although most people I know slice the meat and put the gravy and vegetables back on top (or puree the pan fluids with the vegetables), I don’t. It’s fine that way, but our family prefers the gravy over mashed potatoes.

The brisket? I slice it, slather it with homemade barbecue sauce and give it a roast on high heat to caramelize the surface (or broil or grill it). Either way, it’s good eats on Passover or any other time. Juicy, tender, flavorful. And the leftovers are good too.

Click here for the full recipe of my Whole Brisket with Homemade BBQ Sauce.


A Spanish Seder Menu


March 27th 2014

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I love ethnic food. Well, okay, I love all food, but I have a special place in my heart for creating menu based on a specific international cuisine. So a few years ago when I found kosher for Passover soy sauce I created a Chinese Seder. It got rave reviews and has become a new family tradition. Last year, I had to host two Seders, so I was looking for something new and decided to try Spanish food and it worked beautifully!


Saffron Matzo Ball Soup With Sofrito

It all starts with the soup. Chicken Soup with Sofrito and Saffron Matzo Balls is flavorful and comforting. You can keep all the parts separate, if some of the little ones don’t want sofrito (a Spanish vegetable saute) you can leave it out.

spanish eggplant stuffed artichoke bottoms

Spanish Eggplant Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Then you can fill the meal with an assortment of tapas, like this easy appetizer using frozen artichoke bottoms filled with Sabra Spanish Eggplant.  You can’t get much easier and they are really tasty too, served hot or cold.

tortilla espanolla

Tortilla Espanolla

This classic Spanish tapas recipe of egg and potatoes in an omelet can be served hot or cold, which is perfect for a Passover seder where your oven will already be overflowing. Instead of hard boiled eggs around the table, pass around little slices of this scrumptious treat.

quinoa paella

Paella is traditionally made with rice and seafood and meat, but for Passover I made it with quinoa, sausage and chicken.

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce

I love Romesco sauce on everything so make a big batch and use throughout Passover.  Either follow the recipe with the asparagus and sub out matzo for bread or use this Romesco Recipe, which is my favorite.

Pesach Fingers

Pesach Fingers

For dessert, I suggest a few small sweets.  Chocolate Covered Strawberries are always a winner as our these ridiculously easy cookies, Pesach Fingers (made from your favorite kind of nut), and of course Macaroons or Meringues.

Dress the table with vibrant colors this year enjoy some of the flavors of Spain at your Seder.

Note: A few of these recipes use Saffron which some consider to be kitniyot (The OU says it is not kitniyot but may require special checking), these dishes can be made without Saffron if desired.




15 Healthy Passover Chicken Recipes


March 26th 2014

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Passover would probably be at the top of the list of healthiest Jewish holidays.  Sometimes, though, because of the many restricted ingredients, we may find ourselves adding a little extra oil and salt than is necessary.  These 15 kosher for Passover chicken recipes are easy, healthy, and full flavor.


Orange Chicken with Beets and Sweets

1.  Orange Chicken Thighs with Beets and Sweets: This refreshing chicken recipe is perfect for a spring holiday.  After some initial vegetable peeling, this meal practically cooks itself.


Caramelized Onion Chicken

2.  Caramelized Onion Chicken:  On pesach, I really appreciate recipes which minimize ingredients yet maximize flavor.  Better yet this meal is totally hands-off, put the chicken in the oven to slow cook for two hour and return to a fragrant kitchen and a delicious dinner.


Chicken with Zucchini and Wine Stuffing

3.  Chicken with Zucchini and Wine Stuffing: This is a great dish for the seder!  While you’re running around making last minute preparations erev pesach, leave this on stove and rest assured that this chicken is simmering to perfection.


Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes & Onions

4.  Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes, and Onions: Another wonderful option during a seder, this chicken recipe is reminiscent of mediterranean flavors which will delight your guests.  Plus, this is a perfect recipe to repurpose for lunch the next day.


Date Glazed Roast Chicken

5.  Date Glazed Roast Chicken: The aromatic combination of dates, orange juice and spices compose this sweet and savory chicken dish.  Take care to ensure that your vinegar is kosher for Passover.


Chicken Ratatouille

6.  Chicken Ratatouille: If your custom is to peel all of your vegetables during pesach, then this is a great option.  The flavors of the tomatoes and zucchinis pair richly with the chicken, the vegetables compliment this dish so well even if they are peeled.


Passover Seder Lemon and Wine Poached Chicken

7.  Passover Seder Lemon Wine Poached Chicken: Lemons and wine are a classic, crowd-pleasing combination.  The flavors enhance the delicate flavors of the chicken.


Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken with Potatoes

8.  Lemon Rosemary Roast Chicken and Potatoes: Yet another recipe to demonstrate the power of lemon in a chicken dish.  Rosemary, lemon, garlic and white wine are the star ingredients of this delicious dish.


Grilled Chicken Legs with Peach Salsa

9.  Grilled Chicken Legs with Peach Salsa: Here in the Northeast, we are finally seeing glimpses of warm weather.  If you are lucky enough to live in a warmer area, I would recommend serving this grilled chicken dish for lunch or dinner during chol ha’moed.


Classic Jewish Deli Chicken Salad

10.  Classic Jewish Deli Chicken Salad: A great way to repurpose leftover chicken, serve the chicken salad with sides or on top of a hearty green salad.


Roasted Chicken in Dry Spice Rub

11.  Roasted Chicken in a Dry Spice Rub: This is a roast chicken that is not at all lacking in flavor.  Alter the dry rub as needed, if you can’t find certain spices that are kosher for Passover simply double up on the ones you do have.


Chicken and Veggie Skewers

12.  Chicken and Veggie Skewers: These are very kid friendly and a great way to spread a small amount of chicken into a satisfying meal.  You can switch things up by customizing each persons’ skewer with the vegetables of their choice.


Grilled Chicken Mango Salad

13.  Grilled Mango Chicken Salad: Another great Passover lunch recipe, this salad has a very simple dressing and refreshing ingredients.


Kishke Stuffed Orange Chicken

14.  Kishke Stuffed Orange Chicken: A modern take on a classic Jewish ingredient, your guests will be impressed and surprised by the combination of kishke and citrus in this delicious chicken dish.


Easy Roasted Chicken

15.  Easy Roasted Chicken: It wouldn’t be Passover without a classic, roasted chicken dish.  Whether it’s served at the seders or during chol ha’moed, this dish evokes comforting memories of tradition.


Shortcut Matbucha Shakshuka Video *Giveaway*


March 26th 2014

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I’m kind of a connoisseur when it comes to Shakshuka.  The fact that I have ordered it in most every restaurant that serves it should certainly qualify me as an expert of some sort, dontchya think?

I have had Spinach and Cream Shakshuka at Café Rimon in Mamilla, an open air mall outside the Old City of Jerusalem.  I have had Leek and Eggplant Shakshuka at Gavna an outdoor cafe overlooking the Judean Hills in the Gush and I have had the traditional tomato and pepper Shakshuka at café chains across the country and at Ikea’s kosher cafeteria in Rishon L’Ziyon.  I have eaten Shakshuka both with and without both  Feta and Bulgarian cheeses, both with runny and firm yolks and both spicy hot and not spicy enough.  I love it.  In truth, I just adore it still, this after 18 months of making it my mission to try every Shakshuka in Israel.

The ultimate Israeli one pan breakfast or anytime meal, Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached or baked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers and onions spiced with cumin, believed to be of Tunisian origin.  It’s actually super simple to make.  But you know me; super simple is sometimes not simple enough.  Inspired by Sabra’s kosher for Passover Moroccan Matbucha (a cooked dish of tomatoes, peppers and garlic) I have created a super duper Shakshuka shortcut.  No knife, no cutting board, just one pan to both cook and serve in qualifies this as fast, fearless, fabulous Shakshuka both for the un-initiated and the connoisseurs in the crowd.  Seriously, on set when we shot this How-To Shortcut Shakshuka video I served my Israeli crew the very Shakshuka I made on camera for lunch and they LOVED! LOVED! LOVED!  So this is tested, tasted and approved by the natives.

And just to alleviate your concerns I have indeed officially taste tested Shakshuka for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner so I can assure you that it works well for all times and meals.  Great for a crowd (because it kinda feels exotic – think of it like eggs dressed up in a slightly spicy sauce) it can be “beefed” up by adding feta, spinach and/or sautéed eggplant.  Serve hot, straight out of the pan with fresh bread and salad for a literal meal in minutes.  Great idea for Passover too (just serve it with Matzah)!  For a printable version of the recipe click here for Shortcut Shakshuka.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Now you can also enter to win a $100 Amex card in honor of our partnership with Sabra. Enter here with Rafflecopter.
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Passover Gift Guide – Seder Plates and...


March 25th 2014

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Whether you are looking for a new gift idea to bring your hosts this Passover or looking to upgrade your Judaica here are a few of our new favorite Haggadahs and Seder Plates.

Some people use the same Haggadah year after year and work to make sure everyone at their table has the same one and some enjoy adding a new one to their collection every year.  Even if you don’t use it at the Seder, every haggadah is unique and offers new insights to help you plan your seder.

The Bronfman Haggadah was published last year by the renowned philanthropist and Jewish Leader, Edgar Bronfman.  This haggadah is beautifully illustrated and is meant for people of all ages and all backgrounds.  This year they have added on a companion Haggadah app to help people prepare for the seder.  Children can listen to the story of the Exodus and learn the songs of the seder.  You can watch videos and learn in a more interactive way.

This new haggadah is hot off the presses and comes to us by Stanely Lebovic the writer and illustrator who happens to be the husband to Linda Lebovic, one of our regular contributors.  The book is a large heirloom edition with over 60 full color illustrated pages and a 3 feet illustrated pull out.  This haggadah sets an example of how to bring one’s self to the Seder table and intertwine the richness inherent in each of us with the poetry and song found throughout the Haggadah.  Stanley aims to bring the stories of old to the people of today.  Get your copy on Amazon.

This new Haggadah, The Night That Unites, is the first one that combines the teachings of three modern Rabbis from the 20th Century.  Get stories from Rav Kook, songs from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and teachings from Rabbi Soloveitchik.  Don’t miss the questions to help engage your seder guests.

This one is not an actual haggadah, but can offer some new excitement to your seder.  Many people like to do games and skits to get the children involved and even keep the less inclined grown ups interested.  This book of plays and parodies will help get everyone engaged.

This Haggadah is a new modern looking, bright and lively book.  It might be a little harder to read some of the sections, but it is worth it for the illustrations and fun colors.

There are many kinds of Seder Plates.  Some like to have one with the three levels below the plate to hold the matzahs, some need an extra plate for the ever expanding family and some just want one for decoration, let’s check out a few below.

This modern colorful Lotus Seder Plate is a real beauty, maybe more for those looking for decoration, but it can be practical too.

Most of the tiered seder plates are either silver plated domes or gorgeous artsy ones that are very expensive.  This wooden tiered Seder plate has a less traditional shape, but is pretty and functional.  Emanuel Tiered Seder Plate.

For a more classic design and easily used and cleaned seder plate, consider this white porcelain pomegranate seder plate.


A Passover Tablescape


March 25th 2014

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Before I can sit down to plan my seder night menu (or maybe we should leave that one to Jamie), I like to design my tablesetting for the evening well in advance of Pesach, as let’s face it, who has time later. Make it fun and easy so the entire family will enjoy. All you need is some cardstock, scissors, corks for the placecards, a good craft store and dollar store (shekel shop for those of us living in Israel), a computer and a little imagination.

For the tablecloth I used a piece of crushed velvet and an overlay of burlap to create the desert look (get it Yetzias mitzrayim).

I’ve made pyramids (you can find instructions on youtube) out of matzah cardstock and parchment paper.

The leftover matzah paper was used to create the napkin rings and the placecards. Simply cut strips of paper, any width you like, and glue to create rings for your napkins.

Wine corks we used to hold the placecards. Cut the bottom of the corks to make a flat surface and then cut a slit in the corks to hold the placecards in place.

Camels and frogs add a fun element to the table. I found my little green friends at my favourite shekel shop, while the camels I downloaded from the internet. If you’ve visited Israel and had the chance to ride a camel, why not include some photos of family on camels, just for fun.  Add some flowers for colour and perhaps candles in lanterns for a touch of elegance, then sit back, relax and enjoy your exodus from Egypt.


Flowers were provided by Mookie Cohen ( Miss Gardenia Floral Event & Design)


Fresh, Fast and Fancy Passover Sides


March 25th 2014

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I had a blast tasting and testing these 7 sweet and savory Seder sides for Passover. All ingredients are easily accessible in both the U.S. and Israel, and all recipes are non-gebrochts. Watch these simple Seder side dishes become staples at your table year-round!

Salad with Pastrami Croutons

Spring Salad with Pastrami Croutons and Balsamic Reduction

This recipe is simple and springy, but you have to follow a few rules. Balsamic vinegar will sweeten when reduced and it will also intensify in flavor, so you want good-quality balsamic — not generic or cheap brands — for your balsamic reduction. Avoid using uncoated copper or aluminum pans which can alter the flavor of the vinegar. Remember that vinegar can thicken quickly, but you can always add water to bring it back to desired consistency.

Citrus Glazed Roasted Carrots

Citrus Glazed Roasted Carrots

There’s nothing sweeter than oven-roasted caramelized carrots. The citrus brightens this dish and pairs well with thyme, another favorite and uber versatile herb that I don’t leave home without. Use small, multi-colored baby carrots with the greens on top and add pearl onions to elevate this simple side to 5-star status.


Eggplant Tomato Stacks

Eggplant Tomato Stacks

These individual eggplant stacks are as beautiful as they are versatile – add ground beef to make them heartier (or shredded mozzarella for a dairy dinner). I’ve included a recipe for homemade tomato sauce as well!

Colored Cauliflower

Roasted Colored Cauliflower

Year round, I add my new obsession – cumin –to this dish. For Passover I retested this recipe without it, and the caulifl ower is still beautiful,
flavorful and irresistible, straight out of the oven!

Zucchini Fritters with Tomato Salsa

Zucchini Fritters with Tomato Salsa

My Grandma “Ma” always made chremslach, a.k.a potato pancakes. Latkes are great Passover fare. You can easily substitute
potato starch for breadcrumbs or matzo meal to make your favorite recipes non-gebrochts. I was inspired by her Old Country recipe but wanted a New Country twist so I adapted it to feature zucchini, which is “free” on my diet. The fresh tomato salsa is also great on fish or chicken, or served as part of your starter course.


In the JOK Kitchen with Let My Children Cook! ...


March 24th 2014

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Tamar Ansh, otherwise known as the challah queen (at least that is how I know her cause of her book, Taste of Challah), just came out with the perfect Passover coobook for you and your kids.  Let My Children Cook!, would be a fun book for anyone and can really help get your kids get involved in the kitchen his year.  She covers all the basics, like matzah balls and charoset as well as lots of new serving ideas and recipes for the whole family to enjoy.  She even throws in a few clever crafts.  I spoke with Tamar and learned a bit more about her.

1. What inspired you to write this cookbook for kids?

Inspiration for a book can come from many sources; with each book I’ve done, Hashem sent me the idea and the inspiration in a different way.

For this book, Let My Children Cook!, the inspiration actually came from a totally unexpected angle. A friend of mine mentioned the idea to me in a short email. I read it quickly and the idea just took off nearly immediately in my head. I sat there all that day and part of the next and by just thinking about it without interruptions, so many ideas got put down in my first outline. The best part about it – the title!! THAT ‘came to me’ almost instantaneously! Every time I see it again it makes me chuckle inside – the title was so perfect that I just had to see this book become a reality; and now, Baruch Hashem, it is…

 2. What ages do you think your book is best for?

As I wrote on the cover, this book is for “kids aged 8 – 108!” BUT, the truth is that it can really be used by nearly everybody. The recipes were written and geared towards food the average kid will enjoy and want to eat. And if they like to eat it, they will also like to try cooking it.  This book’s younger cook age is around 8-year-olds and above, just as I wrote on the cover, and kids aged 11-16 will find it easiest. However, I know that anyone making Passover will enjoy it, those new to their Passover kitchen, grandmothers with grandkids coming over to visit, kids who want to make something for their cousins and friends, or mothers who want something quick and easy that their kids will eat. Just about anyone, regardless of whether there are kids in your life or not, can have a good time with this book.

Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake

3. What do you like to cook with your kids?

My kids are actually very good cooks by now. They will make anything but their absolute favorite is making sponge cakes, brownies and ice creams – in other words, desserts! Last year my girls made the most amazing potato blintzes and Pesach egg noodles (sorry, those are in my other Pesach cookbook, Pesach – Anything’s Possible!), besides lots of salads and of course, nearly every single dessert we had. They are planning to do so again…I love working together with all of them in the kitchen; it really makes it feel like the holiday is coming and the smells and the enjoyment of having them with me together is very special.

We’ll leave out mention of how many dishes we have to wash every time!!

4. What is your earliest cooking memory?

Ahem…can’t say I have one! I wasn’t much of a cook when I was a kid! Matza pizza and matza and butter were all I really did on my own…my mother was and still is a great cook, though!

6. How did you decide to add some craft projects into this book too?

I used to be a pre-school teacher and every year we made the crafts you see me listing in Let My Children Cook! The kids loved making them, I enjoyed seeing the fun they had when taking them home on that last day of school before Pesach break, and so I decided, why not share them here? Plus, kids who can do them on their own or have their parent set them up to do it, will have something productive to do with themselves while the family is so busy getting ready for the holiday. Parents of younger children are sure to appreciate this bonus to this cookbook.  Try out this Passover Placemat Craft here.

Have a great, delicious and enjoyable Passover!

Try these two favorite recipes from the book: Passover Chocolate Brownies and Fluffy Matzah Balls and Chocolate Sponge Cake from Pesach Anything’s Possible.

***Giveaway***  Enter to win your copy of Let My Children Cook!!  Do you let your kids cook in the kitchen?

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Share and Win $200


March 24th 2014

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Over the next month we want you to show us what you are eating and who you are eating with every day.


  • Take pictures of your food, your family, and your friends
  • Submit pics below or on Twitter and Instagram with #ShareSabra
  • The more pictures you submit the more chances you have to win!

We will feature our favorite shares and select a winner on April 23rd.


Disclosure: This promotion is part of ongoing partnership with Sabra.


Passover Placemats Craft


March 24th 2014

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  • One sturdy, brightly colored piece of thicker construction paper, size
  • 8 X 11 (A4), per kid
  • One good photo of each kid who is making a placemat
  • Stickers for decorating the edges
  • Magic markers in various colors
  • Stencil for writing the letters of the name, optional


1 Using the stencil, if you have it, write your name neatly near the top right half of the paper. You can do it in Hebrew or English letters.

2 Attach the photo to the other half of the paper.

3 Place stickers in any pattern you like all around the edges of the paper; this will be your border or frame.

4 Using the magic markers, color the name and the rest of the paper so it will be pretty. Those who know how to write can add a short love note to the person who will be receiving the placemat, such as, “Hi, Bubby, I love you! Happy Pesach!”

5 When you are done, take it to a store that does lamination and laminate it. Now your placemat is all ready for use! When it gets dirty, just give it a swipe with a damp rag, and it will be as good as new!

Excerpt from Let My Children Cook!


Shabbat Menu – A Clean New Year


March 23rd 2014

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This week in parsha Tazria we continue reading about the laws purity, but it also happens to be Shabbat Hachodesh.  The Shabbat before the first of Nissan, which is considered the first month of the Jewish calendar.  At the same time Spring is in the air and we are cleaning our homes and preparing for the holiday of Passover.  Let’s start the new year off with clean and homes and clean bodies.  This week’s menu features clean healthy foods that have no processed ingredients.

Indian Inspired Salmon Cakes

Creamy Broccoli Salad

Creamy Broccoli Salad

roasted moroccan spiced chicken breast

Roasted Moroccan Spiced Chicken Breast

Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous

Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous

Zucchini Pasta with Mushrooms and Oven Dried Tomatoes

Zucchini Pasta with Mushrooms and Oven Dried Tomatoes

Pine Apple Fruit Salad

Pine Apple Fruit Salad


How To Eat Pizza Like an Israeli


March 21st 2014

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A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Jamie Geller.  As the resident adviser to new (and not so new) olim, I get all kinds of questions about cooking and baking in Israel.  But this one made me realize, the questions are about eating in Israel, too!

Jamie wanted to know if I had a recipe for the delicious dipping sauce that frequently accompanies pizzas here in Israel, and while I was at it, if I knew how to make the tavlinim – spices – that come with every delivery.  It occurred to me that the way we eat pizza has changed since we made Aliyah. It used to be plain pizza, with a side of French fries.  Here, French fries are rarely available in pizza shops, and it is the condiments that make the meal.  Spices are sprinkled on top (green or the more spicy red combination), and sauce is drizzled over the top or on the side for dunking your slice.  But while I have a sufficient number of spice packets to cover a football field of pizzas, I would prefer to make my own spice mixes, leaving off the ubiquitous MSG and controlling the amount of salt, for a healthier result.  The same is true for dipping sauce – I can use lower fat and sugar ingredients, and minimize the sodium.

So, Jamie, after some fun experimenting (my kids say thanks!), here are recipes for sauce and spices, so you can DIY them too, and our friends outside of Israel can enjoy our way of eating the Italian specialty.

Here are my recipes for Tavlinim Spices and Rotev, Pizza Sauce.

By the way, the pizza pictured here is from Chashmonaim’s own Pizza Mia, where you can get some of the best New York style pizza in the country, as well as delicious dairy catering.

Editor’s note:

Thanks to the original questioner,  Miriam Cohen who sent us this email:

I wanted to know if you could help me out.  I lived in E”Y for 4 yrs.  and on the occasions that we went out to pizza they have that  yummy rotev that is spicy and that you eat with the pizza.  At one point my husband asked the guy he knew in Jerusalem pizza in geula how he made it and he told him but I can’t seem to remember where I wrote it down from ages ago.  Would it be possible you could help me out and post a recipe for the israeli pizza rotev (the one from Jerusalem pizza in geula was the best!).

We hope this helps Miriam and the rest of us recreate memories of pizza past.


Spring 2014 Sneak Peek


March 20th 2014

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This Pesach issue is 100% Gluten Free. Get decadent dessert recipes to fancify your Seder plus a vegan miracle mousse you won’t believe has only 2 ingredients. Learn everything you need to know about meat and salmon for the holiday and beyond is in this issue. Wineries, wine gadgets, and cooking with wine with tips and recipes. Goat cheese recipes for your health and lots of Spring time salads, soups and fruit recipes.  Take a look at our sneak peek below and then Subscribe Today!


Putting More Joy into Kosher: Our Best Restaurant...


March 20th 2014

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The voters have eaten. And the eaters have voted.

Why did fans come out in force when Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed (named for an off-beat uncle and Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed) was in the running for Joy of Kosher’s Best Restaurant of 2013?

“I think it goes beyond the pulled brisket, or even our smoked ribs and Milt burgers,” said award-winning executive chef Bryan Gryka. The Chicago hotspot’s Facebook page and website confirm his modest assertion. Beyond foodie fever, many Milt’s customers seem ecstatic to be doing double mitzvahs. When every bite is kosher and every dollar of profit goes to tzedakah, it’s hard not to feel the joy.

Yes, 100% of Milt’s profits go to charity. The Community Gift of the Month supports nonprofit organizations that help people with special needs or lifelong diseases, work to eradicate abuse and sexual assault, fight poverty, and enhance educational opportunities. Recently Milt’s joined a customer loyalty program, through which it lets diners redeem points as donated “meals” to local food banks and soup kitchens rather than discounted drinks or free appetizers. The new Milt’s Night Out program seeks out spare sports or cultural tickets, pairs them with a free dinner, and creates a memorable evening for people who are going through trying times.

Locals may not care that Milt’s is kosher. They may happen in because it’s a trendy restaurant that has received top marks from reviewers and was named a New Restaurant of the Year by UrbanSpoon. They come back to satisfy their appetite for barbecue and to read more perplexities and brain teasers, conveniently placed on each table and hung on magnetized walls. They also may reserve a spot for an upcoming lecture on history, politics, spirituality humor, and other subjects by an expert from anywhere in the world. Milt’s acts, as described on its website, “as a community center without the pool.” With a fourteen-person Community Table, large booths, and regular tables, Milt’s is a hub of conversation.

All of Milt’s programs and charitable giving are facilitated by the Jeffrey F. Kahan Memorial Fund, a donor-advised fund at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, which receives and distributes Milt’s profits as well as gifts from other donors. Milt’s owner and founder Jeff Aeder established the JKMF in memory of a cherished member of the community. “Jeff Kahan loved Israel,” said Aeder, “and he had strong sense of Jewish identity. That, along with his passion for a good debate, continually inspires our programming.”

Under strict CRC kashrut supervision, Milt’s hosts Shabbat dinners for private groups and also for nonprofit groups that aim to bring together Jewish young adults and give them – quite literally – a taste of tradition. The JKMF makes these dinners possible through a donation that is worth part of the cost, thus enabling them to attract more participants.

Besides thousands of Facebook “likes” and shares, and the near-perfect customer ratings, Milt’s fans sometimes take the time to post adoring comments. One such comment came at the unveiling of the Milt’s Night Out program. “So glad you exist,” wrote Tammy Klein Bergman. “You are amazing!!!”

To learn more about Milt’s, sign up for emails, and stay abreast of developments such as the first-ever Chicago barbecue competition and festival, visit

Bring a little bit of Milt’s into your home with Executive Chef Bryan Gryka’s cornbread recipe.

Main image from

Other images supplied by Milt’s.

Article contributed by Sari Steinberg.



Win The Spice And Spirit Passover Book Set


March 19th 2014

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The famous purple cookbook comes in a Passover version.  One for all year round and one just for Passover with tried and true recipes using no processed ingredients whatsoever.  Now you can win the cookbook and Passover planner!!

Find out more on Amazon.

Enter to win below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway