In the JOK Kitchen with Silk Road Vegetarian ...


June 23rd 2014

Contributed by:


32 comments | Leave Comment


The Silk Road refers to the routes of trade along Central Asia, India and the Mediterranean.  Many of our Jewish ancestors worked along these routes dealing in the spice trade.  Dahlia Abraham-Klein takes us all on a culinary journey through her heritage in her new book.  After years of suffering health problems on a regular American diet, Dahlia went back to her roots and found that the foods of her ancestors could be easily made today.  Many are naturally vegan and gluten free and they changed her life.

The Silk Road Vegetarian is the culmination of Dahlia’s transformation and celebration of her family’s strong culinary roots along the Silk Road. With 120 vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten free recipes tweaked for the modern cook, the Silk Road Vegetarian has something for everyone.  Dahlia shares a lot of herself in this book, but we wanted to know a little more.  Here is what we learned from Dahlia plus a few recipes from the book you can try out.  And don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win your own copy.

You found renewed interest in foods from the Silk Road that you grew up on after feeling sick on a more Americanized diet. Was it difficult to learn to cook this way?

I grew up watching my mother cook the traditional foods from Central Asia, so through osmosis and some extra tips from my mother I learned to cook the dishes I grew up with.
I also learned through years of studying naturopathy (natural medicine) after suffering from a sever ulcer and years of meditation, that the attitude towards food needs to change.
Cooking with patience, love and nurturance changes the spiritual energy of the food you give to your loved ones. Food has healed me and if cooked properly can heal people.
So keeping that in mind it’s not difficult for me to cook this way when the outcome is so great.

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

You got very personal in this cookbook even including old pictures of your family, was it hard to share so much of yourself?

It was not difficult to share myself with my readers. For the service of the book, I felt it was crucial to be completely open and honest in that way my readers can connect to a real person.

What was your earliest memory of cooking?

I started cooking from a young age, probably around 15 yrs. old.

Persian Bean & Noodle Soup

Persian Bean and Noodle Soup

What was your worst kitchen disaster?

Experimenting with gluten free desserts was a challenge for me. I made terrible gluten free desserts until I made them perfect. You need to know how to combine the right flours to make a nice consistency, otherwise you have a mushy cookie or a cookie that is hard as a rock.

How did you decide which recipes to develop/include for this cookbook?

I have included almost all the recipes I have grown up with that could be converted to vegetarian. There were some dishes that were made with dough, that I did not convert because this is a gluten free cookbook. I felt I had enough recipes to fill a book.

Do cooks who use your cookbook need to get a whole new set of spices?

Depends on the cook. I think anyone picking up this book has an adventurous palate and will most likely have these spices in their pantry. Vegetarians are generally risk takers with food, because they might feel that vegetarian fare is limiting so will try anything.

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans pulah

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans pulah

What is your favorite spice?

My favorite spice has to be curry. It’s a combination of spices including: coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers in their blends. You can make your own variation of curry and add additional ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed and cardamom.

What tips do you have for busy moms trying to get a healthy dinner on the table every night and eat well themselves every day?

The wonderful thing about Central Asian cuisine is that we are masters at one pot meals. There is a whole chapter devoted to Rice Meals and in it the meals have everything you need for a wholesome nutritious meal. There are legumes, rice, vegetables and currants in the dish. It can be made once a week, and feed the family through out the week and for little money as well.

Here are a few recipes excerpted from the book:

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans & Carrots

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

Persian Bean and Noodle Soup

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Baseball Birthday Party


June 20th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


Take me out to the ball game, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks…

Summer is the season of baseball and it is also a time to celebrate.  Whether you are planning a kids birthday or just a fun baseball themed shindig we have the recipes, menu and some decoration ideas for you.  All brought to you with the support of Gold’s, our go to Summer condiments.

Start out with the invitations:

It is easy to find a baseball themed paper or online invitation, click here for examples.

Order some fun decorations from places like Etsy, here.

And serve our favorite baseball foods.

pretzel wrapped brats

Pretzel Wrapped Bratwurst with Cider Braised Onions

Make sure everyone gets  turn at bat with these  Pretzel Wrapped Brats with Cider Braised Onions combine our two favorite baseball foods, soft pretzels and hot dogs or brats.  Serve with lots of Gold’s mustard.

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn

Make this Caramel Popcorn mix as your homemade version of  Cracker Jacks and guarantee a home run.

Serve lots of veggie dippers for guilt free snacking and try a few quick and easy homemade dips, such as:

  • Tarragon Mustard Dip - mix 1/4 cup low fat mayo with 3 tablespoons Gold’s Dijon Mustard, fresh tarragon and 1 tablespoon vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Horseradish Guacamole – mash up 1 avocado with the juice of 1 lime, a large spoonful of Gold’s Horseradish and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Creamy Wasabi – mix Gold’s Wasabi Sauce with non dairy sour cream, lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro, adjust quantities to taste.


For the grand slam finale everyone will love these Baseball Cake Pops.  Use your favorite non dairy cake mix and non diary candy melts, they are sure to impress.



This post is sponsored by Gold’s, all opinions are my own.



Cooking with Joy: Coconut Berry Soup


June 19th 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


Coconut Milk is another one of those ingredients that I have only heard of and never tasted. As I opened the first can the scent transported me to a tropical island, imagining myself swinging in a hammock in a warm breeze under a palm tree, now back to reality. I just HAD to taste the milk, since I needed to know what my end product would taste like. It was creamy and not at all sweet with a mild taste of coconut. Since I am not someone who uses coconut often, this was new to me.

I added the milk to the frozen fruit that was already in the bowl, my kids thought I was making smoothies, well I sorta was!
Then it came time to find my zester for the lemons. I used to know exactly where it was, until my 2 year old started using that drawer while “helping” me in the kitchen. ” Want Dis Mommy”, Nope please put it back” K” (she put it back and took something else out ) “Want Dis Mommy”, Nope don’t need that either, please put it back” and that usually goes on for a while until she finds something else to keep her busy while Im trying to make dinner. Anyway- I found the zester, it only took a couple of minutes.

In went the lemon juice (this time no juice all over the counter), lemon zest, honey and salt. I used my immersion blender, which is one of my favorite and most used kitchen tools. It makes clean up a breeze and is so much easier then schlepping out the blender- ( for those of us who don’t have the luxury of counter space). If you don’t have an immersion blender yet, I highly recommend getting one!

I didn’t strain the soup through a sieve. Not that it wasn’t necessary, its just I don’t have a sieve and I was just making this for my fam to have a yummy dessert and knew they wouldn’t be particular. If you have a sieve, totally go for it! It would definitely make the soup even creamier

When I turned around for 2 seconds to put the dishes in the sink, my 5 year old had his finger in the mixing bowl- It’s just THAT good.

As a yummy adult variation Hubs and I added some coconut flavored rum to the soup- back to the tropical island we went :) Just one thing to keep in mind if you add alcohol, you need to stir it, since it will probably separate (ours did).

We ate most of it for desert after dinner, and I froze the rest for shabbos, I’m looking forward.

Chilled Coconut Berry Soup
DRESS IT UP Fruit, Flower, and Mint Ice Cubes


10 Oil-Free Recipes


June 18th 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


I’m slow to admit that I may be a bit heavy-handed when it comes to oil, there’s something to love about the sound of it simmering in a pan ready to make anything you throw at it taste good.  As of late, my family has become suspicious about just how necessary all of this oil is. With that in mind, I started exploring oil-free recipes here at Joy of Kosher and was surprised to find that dishes from a plentitude of cuisines can be made oil-free.  I’m not planning to say good-bye to oil for good, but I’m definitely ready to cut back and am glad that there are many recipes on the site, including the ones below, that will make this task easier.



What’s better than a burger in the summer?  Well, that would be easy: a burger topped with guacamole.  Serve the Mexican Burgers with Flour Tortillas with grilled corn, peaches and plums for a healthy and satisfying meal.



Staying with the Latin inspired cuisine, but focusing on the dairy side of things are the Confetti Quesadillas with Cilantro Yogurt Dip.  If, like me,  you’re not a big cilantro fan just go easy on the amount you put with the dip, you’ll still get the tanginess without an overwhelming cilantro flavor.  Or try the Roasted Red Pepper Dip and Pico de Gallo.



Another great dairy favorite gone oil-free is Suri’s Special Eggplant Parmesan.  When I think Italian automatically I reach for the oil, although honestly I probably do that with all cuisines.  This recipe is not wanting for oil, and psychologically I think that knowing that a dish this decadent is not swimming in calories makes it taste even better.



For a light, satisfying meat meal in the summer try the Lamb Bacon Wrapped Asparagus.  They’re great for entertaining or an a family meal.  Serve them with the Celery Root, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and the Sweet and Sour Watermelon Salad.



Summer Rolls

The Summer Rolls are great as an appetizer or a main meal.  The crispy crust and vegetables taste great alongside imitation crab or your fish of choice.  If you serve it as an appetizer, also try the Edamame Avocado Dip.




I Like My Food All Rolled Up


June 18th 2014

Contributed by:


6 comments | Leave Comment


A couple of years ago Pesach, we did an “All Rolled Up” article, featuring Steak Rolls, Eggplant Rollatini, Kishka-Stuffed Chicken, and lots more. It was super popular. To this day, my Chicken Pastrami Rolls get more comments than any other recipe.

It’s not unusual for me to be stopped in the street by my readers (or their spouses) saying, “I just ate your Chicken Pastrami Rolls!” (while Hubby rolls his eyes). When we posted a how-to video online, folks generously shared other versions or their favorite tweaks.

So we decided to serve up a few more fun and fast chicken roll ideas in this issue. These fuss-free fillings (try saying that three times, fast!) would just as easily work in steak, salmon, turkey, flounder, or anything else you can roll up. It’s a fun, easy way to make even simple food look snazzy.

Pick Your Protein

pick your protein and follow the recipe instructions; adjust bake times accordingly:


3 TO 4 OUNCES BONELESS, SKINLESS DARK MEAT CHICKEN CUTLETS bake at 350 ̊F for 35 to 45 minutes

3 TO 4 OUNCES SKINLESS SALMON FILLETS bake at 350 ̊F for 15 minutes

3 TO 4 OUNCES SKINLESS SOLE FILLETS bake at 350 ̊F for 20 minutes

3 TO 4 OUNCES SKINLESS FLOUNDER FILLETS bake at 350 ̊F for 20 minutes

3 TO 4 OUNCES SANDWICH STEAKS OR BEEF CUTLETS bake at 350 ̊F for 30 minutes

Each cutlet or fillet should weigh about 3 to 4 ounces and should be of equal thickness throughout, about 1⁄4 to an 1/8th of an inch thick. Have your butcher or fishmonger thinly slice your meat or fish for you. For chicken you can prepare and pound out your cutlets yourself.

Here are the recipes that you can adapt as needed:

Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

Asian Vegetable Stuff Flounder

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Steak

Quick Thyme Bread Stuffed Chicken


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


Instead of Heavy Cream, Try Coconut Milk


June 17th 2014

Contributed by:


2 comments | Leave Comment


ASK US: What do you recommend as a A SAVORY pareve substitute for heavy cream.


Don’t you just hate that moment when you fall in love with a savory meat or pareve recipe only to find out that it calls for whipping cream?!? I mean, how can I add whipping cream to my chicken alfredo, savory cream sauces, fish stews and even biscuits with gravy. Yes, that’s right! I’m talking about rich fluffy biscuits with thick meaty gravy.

The answer to this dairy conundrum is as simple as a can of natural coconut milk! Versatile coconut milk can add creamy texture to soups, rich flavor to sauces and is the perfect substitute for heavy cream in any of your favorite savory dishes. If you’re wondering about other pareve milks like soy milk and almond milk, they are just too thin to use in place of rich heavy cream so go for the good stuff and stock your pantry with canned coconut milk. I like to buy a whole case of this creamy substitute so I always have some around and those cans can sit on your pantry shelf forever! Does it get any more convenient?!? It’s really as easy as shaking a can of full fat coconut milk, opening it up and substituting measure for measure with the heavy cream in any recipe. If you have any extra coconut milk, transfer it to an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. I like to add extra coconut milk to my morning cup of coffee or stir with melted chocolate for a rich ganache but you can use yours for even more savory dishes if you want. The options are seriously endless.

can or carton of coconut milk
What is the difference between canned coconut milk and boxed coconut milk drink? People are always asking me if they can use boxed coconut milk drink in place of canned coconut milk in a recipe and my answer is always the same…“NOPE!” Boxed coconut milk drink is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a drink. It’s often watered down and filled with additives like carrageenan, guar gum and other sweeteners and should be avoided for all cooking and baking. And if you’re wondering about using lite coconut milk since it has less fat and calories than full fat coconut milk, just know that water has been added to lite coconut milk, making it thinner and therefore not a good substitute for heavy cream.

Here are a few brands of kosher canned coconut milk that I recommend and you can buy them all on Amazon: Native Forest, Natural Value, Roland.

These recipes are made with or can be adapted to be made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream.


Are Quail Eggs Kosher?


June 16th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


From faux crab and shrimp to premium Kobe-Wagyu beef and bison to gourmet parve ‘cheese’, the kosher world has welcomed a lot of non-traditional, cutting-edge fare over the past few decades.  Never a people to settle for regular old matzah ball soup and gefilte fish, kosher food enthusiasts have always been ones to up the ante in kosher cuisine by introducing unusual and exotic foods into our repertoire. Ever since an O-U sponsored ‘Mesorah dinner’ at Levana Kirschenbaum’s famed restaurant in 2004, which served exotic foods not commonly found on a kosher menu-including quail, quail and quail eggs have gained much attention and interest from many kosher foodies and consumers. And why not, it’s all  kosher, isn’t it?

As it turns out- it’s not that simple. While the Torah provides physical signs and characteristics in mammals (i.e. that they have both split hooves and chew their cud) and fish (i.e. that they have both fins and scales) that identify them as a kosher species, it does not do the same for birds. Rather the Torah lists 24 families of non-kosher birds and leaves it to be assumed that accordingly the remaining species of birds are all kosher. But its still not that simple! According to tradition, after the Torah was given, Moses identified and detailed to the Jewish people which birds were permitted to be eaten, and which were forbidden. This oral tradition, known as a mesorah, has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. Of course, many things get lost over time- and this is no exception. Thus the status of the acceptability of many birds as kosher is not as widely recognized or accepted as the birds for which we have a stronger based tradition and they are thus forbidden to be eaten according to the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish  Law). For instance- it is universally accepted that chicken is a kosher bird while even today some people will still not accept turkey as a kosher bird. According to the O-U’s website, many families of birds have been accepted as kosher in different localities at one time in history, including goose, pigeons, doves, and of course- quail.

As any student of the Bible could tell you, quail are mentioned in the book of Exodus when the Jewish people, who were wandering in the Sinai dessert complained of a lack of meat. In response to this complaint, G-D sent Slav, which is commonly translated as quail, for the Jewish people to eat. The only issue with simply translating slav as quail is that there are currently almost 50 breeds of birds identified as “quail”. The common Coturnix quail, also known as Pharaoh, Bible, and Nile quail, is the breed of quail that is accepted as kosher according to the Orthodox Union (OU). This recognition comes as the result of much research by the Orthodox Union team, in particular Rabbi Chaim Loike (the OU bird expert). As I am sure you can tell from some of the names this bird is referred by, this quail is said to be of the same kind that the Jewish people ate in the desert after leaving Egypt (i.e Bible quail/Pharaoh quail) and the same quail that was commonly eaten by the Jews of Europe prior to WWII.

In order to identify the kosher quail, Rabbi Loike, along with some of his fellow peers, met with Rabbi Zweigenhoft, a Holocaust survivor who prior to the war, was well recognized in Europe for his knowledge of the identification of various kosher species. Rabbi Zweigenhoft detailed how to identify the kosher quail from the non-kosher quail and this information was then compared to historical/ biological information on the quail of Europe. Also playing a key role in the identification of the Coturnix quail as the kosher quail was archeological evidence in Egyptian pyramids which contained depictions of these quail being harvested by the Egyptians. This indicated that these were the birds which were present in the desert and thus, consumed by the wandering Jews. With all this information indicating the Coturnix as the kosher quail, the OU officially recognized the bird as a kosher species.

If you should have the desire to try cooking with quail eggs (as I did), I recommend that you do your research in verifying that the eggs you find are those of a Coturnix quail and to check with your local kashrus organization as to comply with their acceptance of quail/eggs and their kashrus standards.

These are great recipe to use with quail eggs, as it is easy and adds a cool/fancy touch to a meal as a garnish or accompaniment. Of course you can make this recipe with chicken eggs, as well.

Scotch Quail Eggs

Toasted Sesame Asian Pickled Quail Eggs





5 Things To Do In NY With Your Family


June 13th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


In today’s world, most of us find ourselves working all the time.  Cell phones or tablets in hand it is really hard to shut off.  I am thankful for Shabbat every week, but I still feel that I don’t give quite enough of my time and attention to my kids.  During the school year, everyone is running around, Sundays get filled up with extra curricular activities and my husband and I fight over time to work rather than time to take the kids out and have some fun.  Last Summer we decided we would devote our Sundays to our family.  We planned an outing each week where we all could be together, let go of our work and our digital devices explore our city and be together.  We called it Super Summer Sundays.

Whether you decide to follow in our stead or just want some ideas for those living or visiting NY, I thought I would share a few of our favorite things to do in NY with a family.

1. Queens Science Center – Did you know that you can get free admission to this museum on Sundays before 11:00am? It does not apply in July and August, so luckily we got it in the last week of June.  The museum was incredibly kid friendly even for the much younger set, it was very hands on and interactive.  Nearby, they also have a huge playground and carousel and mini golf and tons of kosher restaurants, this is a must visit.

2. Prospect Park Zoo – I live in the Bronx and we do love the Bronx Zoo, but it is really big and sometimes it is more manageable to go to a smaller zoo.  I had to be in Brooklyn for work anyways that day, but we didn’t want to miss a Sunday, so it was a good excuse and a great 2 hours.

3. Caramoor - Gorgeous setting for a picnic and music outing, get the kids interested in classical music in a child friendly way.  At Caramoor in Westchester, about 1 hour from the city they offer music concerts that you can listen to from the picnic grounds.  During the show we were even able to wander closer to see the stage for the few minutes of attention span my kids had.

4. New York Historical Society – this recently renovated museum has an unbelievable children’s floor, great for all ages, seriously I learned a lot too.   And if you have a Bank of America card they participate in free first Sundays, I highly recommend checking this place out, perfect for a hot or rainy day when you want air conditioning and make sure to check their schedule they sometimes have kids movies showing.


5. Tour of the Lower East Side and the Tenement Museum – it had been years since I had been down the LES and the whole neighborhood has completely changed.  Luckily they still have some of the old kosher stand bys, Kossars Bialy and The Pickle Guys, so we got to take home lots of treats.  But more importantly they still have the Tenement museum and a few gorgeous old synagogues.  At the tenement museum we went on a Meet the Resident tour that was geared for children and while I found it a bit pricey for a one hour tour, I really did enjoy it and so did the kids.   Then we were able to visit a few of the synagogues including The Eldridge Street Synagogue – with one of the most gorgeous stain glass work I have seen in this city.

There are so many more amazing sites in this city, we also did Liberty Island (thus the main image) and the Cloisters which were also fantastic and both had kid friendly Audio Guides for kids 5 and up it is really worth it.  I love that every week we create new memories with each other and I hope that I have inspired you to do the same.  What are your favorite sites and activities to do as a family?



Made With Love For Father’s Day


June 12th 2014

Contributed by:


3 comments | Leave Comment


Growing up, my father was a Commander in the U.S. Navy. His position meant nothing at home of course, where my mother had him out-ranked. Still, it was ‘civilian’ Dad who taught me one of the most important lessons I ever learned in the kitchen. He taught me how to cook with love.

My father was the Sunday morning chef. He taught my siblings and me how to make all-manner of eggs, French toast, waffles with ice cream, and the best sandwiches ever! He explained the difference between just throwing the ingredients together in a bowl and taking ownership and responsibility of what we make. He explained to us that it was not just about the right measurements or even using the best ingredients, what mattered most in the kitchen was what mattered most in life. The secret ingredient was an attitude. He taught us, the most important part of the process was making the food with love.

After years of his Sunday morning brunches, my Dad gave the reigns to my siblings and me. We were in charge of making the Sunday morning feasts. I remember every time I would place the cinnamon flavored French toast on my Dad’s plate, he would always say, “This is the best French toast I have ever had.” Every Sunday was the same, whether it was a scrambled egg, French toast, or a tuna fish sandwich; week after week he always said the same thing, “This is the best I ever had.” As a child, I was confused. I asked my father, how is it possible that every time I made him breakfast, it was the best ever? He explained that each week, as I made the morning meal with care and love, my creations were just the best.

I never bought it.

However, years later, when I became a parent, I found myself doing the same exact thing. I showed my kids how to toast the bread just right, how to spread the mayonnaise on the toast just so, squeezing the tuna fish from the can until there is no water left, placing the tuna in the bowl before the mayonnaise, mashing it until there are no lumps, placing just the perfect amount of tuna on the toast and of course placing just the right amount of lettuce on the bread, to make for a sandwich made with love. And of course I would tell my kids, “This is the best sandwich ever! “

And you know what? I meant it every time.

My father taught me well. It is not about how one adds just the perfect amount of cinnamon to the eggs for French toast or how much is the right amount of mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich. In fact, it is not about the measurements at all. It is about the love of a father, a love of a parent(s), being present in every generation that allows each and every one of us to taste the “best ever”.


Back in the day; soft boiled eggs on toast.

Just the other day, I was reminiscing about this old time favorite, not many people make it anymore because of the possibility of salmonella. Yet, it sure is yummy!

Here is my recipe for Soft Boiled Eggs on Toast.



Cooking With Joy: Shabbos Special


June 12th 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


This project is going pretty well and the more I work my way through the book the more encouraged I get. So far I have finished the Appetizers section and am heading towards sides. Not sure how I will continue from here, but this week I have focused on Shabbos food. We are having guests for shabbos lunch, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try these recipes out. Aside from my usual shabbos fair, I made the following things from the cookbook- Deep Dish Kugel, Garlic Ranch dip, Deli Salad, Gefilte fish and even made the Lemon Lovers Chummus again, because it was that good and easy!

Fancy Crudites with Garlic Ranch Dip page 61
Quick Crudites

Wednesday night- I made the dips since they can be kept in the fridge for longer than the rest of the food. I have never really tasted the “Ranch” flavor before, I really loved the flavor. Cool, Creamy, Tangy, Garlicky- that is how I would describe it. I plan on serving that along with the Chummus, challah and fish as the first course this shabbos lunch to our guests.

Baked Herbed Gefilte Fish page 58
DRESS IT UP Baked Carrots-Stuffed Gefilte Fish

Chilled Coconut Berry Soup page 63
DRESS IT UP Fruit, Flower, and Mint Ice Cubes

Baked Sweet Potato Chips page 66
DRESS IT UP Purple, Orange, and White Chips

Triple Deli Pasta Salad with Creamy Italian Dressing page 77
DRESS IT UP Deconstructed Chef’s Salad

Daddy’s Deep Dish Potato Kigel/Kugel page 91
DRESS IT UP Pastrami Potato Kugel

Thursday night-I made the Kugel and the Gefilte fish. You may remember from previous post that Gefilte fish is one of those things that I don’t do. After reading Jamie’s intro to this recipe and tasting the finished product I realize why that is. The texture of boiled fish to me is GROSS! Don’t get me wrong, I am still not a fish fan, but this recipe was so much more palatable (I even picked at the onions from the bottom). The fish came out much firmer than the usual boiled type. The spices made it have a Sfardi like taste. Hubs said it would be great with Matbucha and Turkish Salad- maybe next time!

Our usual shabbos doesn’t have kugel. I like to save it for Yom Tov or guests, since its not so healthy. My usual recipe calls for half the eggs to potatoes. This recipe calls for one egg per potato- yikes, talk about cholesterol! But its special and I wont make it all that often, so once in a while its ok(ish). Hubs and I tasted the kugel once its cooled enough to cut. As promised by baking it in glass the crusts came out SO CRISPY and the center so soft and delicious!! As much as I would like to save the environment and not use disposables, I usually use disposable aluminum tins, just to make things easier. Even though I greased the glass as directed, it was still very hard to get every last bit out. Hubs said the crispy crust was worth scrubbing extra hard.

I made the salad dressing before shabbos, and made a sample plate for the picture. I decided not to have pasta as part of it, I am not a fan of pasta in my salad. We really didnt like the creamy italian dressing. Again the vinegar was front and center- in our opinion overpowered the rest of salad. But like Jamie writes at this recipe- make it your own- so we did! We dont like pasta in our veggie salad and we dont like lots of vinegar in our food. I ended up making a different dressing to serve for the meal.

Our guests DEVOURED the gefilte fish and dips and really enjoyed the kugel and salad, even though it had a different dressing. A very enjoyable shabbos meal had by all!



Father’s Day Comfort Food Redux


June 11th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


Growing up, many summer Sunday nights were spent in the car traveling from Long Island back to Manhattan.  There was always one June weekend when we left unusually early in the day to beat post-barbecue Father’s Day traffic.   I learned two things, 1. Avoiding traffic is a game of strategy and 2. Barbecues are a popular Father’s Day minhag (custom/tradition).  As you can guess my family didn’t celebrate with a barbecue, because we were busy avoiding traffic, but you can’t help but love some of the classic foods served at summer barbecues.  That being said, many of those foods are served all year long and could use some revamping to help make the day special, below are 5 comfort foods perfect for a Father’s Day barbecue or just a quiet day with Dad.


Bison Sliders

Take your classic burger and turn up the volume.  Try a different meat such as lamb, veal or bison (or no meat: Black Bean Burgers with Avocado-Lime Mayonnaise)  and even change up the presentation by serving them as sliders as in our Bison Sliders.  Or stick with ground beef and play around with toppings like Corn and Avocado Relish, Spicy Fried Onions and Special Sauce.


What’s a burger without fries?  When it comes to french fries everyone is a judge, whether they prefer them cut thick or thin, and like them crispy or a bit soft.  Shake things up and enjoy indulging in a few extra of these healthy(ier) vegetable fries.  First up, there’s the Vegetable Fries which can be made with any root vegetable you have on hand.  Then there are the Eggplant French Fries which would be great served with hummus, roasted pine nuts and a sprinkling of zaa’tar. Finally, these may not be as crispy as your usual fries, but the Sweet Chili and Garlic Sweet Potatoes will not disappoint.


Buffalo wings will always have my loyalty, but when it comes to barbecue I like to change up the sauce so that it is more sweet and savory and less four-alarm spicy.  For example, good luck choosing between two finger-licking good preparations as in the Honey BBQ Sesame Wings or Sticky Ginger Wings.  If you’re not a fan, or just don’t want to watch your guests and children running around with barbecue-stained fingers, try the equally delicious Falafel-Crusted Chicken with Tahini Sauce.


If you’re a taco person, there are plenty of ways of change up this classic food.  Having lived in a small beach town on Long Island for a number of years, I’m partial to a good fish taco.  Take it to the next level by preparing your fish ceviche-style in the Ceviche Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa.  Go vegan, or finally enjoy cheese on a taco, with the Vegan Portobello Tacos.  No matter what you choose to serve, enjoy spending the day celebrating those you love.






A Father’s Day Menu


June 11th 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


Mother’s Day bring brunch and breakfast in bed.  Father’s day usually means BBQ often with Dad doing all the work.  That’s okay, cause I think he likes it as long as he is only in charge of the meat.  Here is a menu that will let the Dad’s enjoy the grilling and the meat and  everyone else enjoy the celebration.

pina colada smoothie

Pina Colada

Start out with some refreshing Pina Colada.  This recipe is without alcohol, so you can just add Rum to those that want to be a little more relaxed.

Create a Hot Dog Toppings Bar

Let Dad grill the dogs or sausages and everyone else can chip in to make or set out the toppings.  We love Gold’s many varieties of mustards as a starting point for our dogs, then pile on the caramelized onions, baked beans, guacamole, favorite slaw or pickled vegetables.

Jerk Chicken

Try some flavorful Jerk Chicken and/or a Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.

steak with chimichurri

Grilled Steak with Chimichurri

Prep ahead if you want to marinate the meat and make extra sauce, it goes great on everything.

Tangy Grilled Asparagus

I can’t get enough asparagus this year especially when hot off the grill.  Stay outside and keep on grilling. Throw on some peppers and/or zucchini and make extra for salads and sandwiches you can enjoy all week long.

Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Ice Cream

Now that you have had your fill and hopefully gave Dad some presents.  Make or buy some non dairy ice cream and serve with hot grilled peaches.

Wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day, a wonderful excuse to spend quality time with the family.


No Food In The Car


June 10th 2014

Contributed by:


21 comments | Leave Comment


It’s a rule.  A real rule.  One we never break.  Mostly cause it’s a dad rule.

There’s always one (disciplinarian) in the family.  In this family it’s Hubby.  After selling our dirty-like-a-dumpster minivan Hubby instituted the no eating in the car rule when we got our new wheels.

The first time my then 1 year old cried all the way home from nursery as I held her snack hostage in the front seat was absolute torture.  That 2 minute and 20 second ride felt like an eternity and I was silently mad at Hubby and his over the top rule.  In fact I tried to give her the snack (cause she was a baby!) but all the other kids were screaming “NO!  Abba doesn’t let eating in the car!”  I couldn’t very well openly defy him and his rule.  Could I?

I would be even harder pressed to obey the rule (which really is like family law) if not for how nice and clean and beautiful smelling our year-old-but-feels-like-new minivan is.  And the immediate gratification every time I enter the car (which is like 10 times a day, at least) makes me think some rules are not made to be broken.  And the toddler tears only lasted a few trips.  Now she actually hands me the snack with a smile as she settles into her car seat, knowing she will get it back in exactly 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  When she gets home she pulls out her toddler booster high chair thingy climbs into it and waits for someone to attach her tray so she can eat.  (Cause that’s also a rule, we don’t eat walking around the house).  It’s all so civilized really.

This (sometimes) civilized no (food) mess life of ours reminds me that rules are good.  But I already told you I am not the natural born disciplinarian.  So when Hubby traveled to NY for 4 days he hung a huge sign that said “REMEMBER: There is NO!!!!! eating in the car.”  Now of course I remembered, how could I forget?  But you see in marriage (as with all relationships) one has to read between the lines.  Translation: “JAMIE GELLER, MOMMY, YEAH YOU! need to enforce this rule even in my absence”.

So on the mornings we were running late and the kids took breakfast in a bag (more on that in a minute) I dutifully said “Remember Abba doesn’t let eating in the car.” (Yes I know that’s grammatically incorrect but sometimes you just gots to speak to the kids in their language).  And guess what, that wasn’t good enough for Hubby!  He wanted to know why I had to blame him for the rule, make him the bad guy.  “It’s not fair” he said.  I said I invoked his name for the sake of adherence to the rule, so the kiddies would actually listen to me.  But if forced to dig down deep I actually most probably used his name in vain because if it were up to moi there would be no such rule.  WE would ALL be eating in an embarrassingly dirty car.

In our marriage, I love to jokingly take credit for Hubby’s successful ideas. Especially the ones I fought so hard against. When I finally come around to seeing the genius in his ideas, I say things like “see I told you so” (Hubby just loves when I say “I told you so”) or “thank G-d I (me, me, me, it’s all about me!) had the idea”. The first time I did it he was stunned, totally taken aback, “WHAT?!!!! YOU?????” he exclaimed. Now it’s so commonplace he usually just rolls his eyes, or giggles. Finally just the other day he gave into my obsession with being the hatcher of all good ideas in this household and said “when you’re right, you’re right!” And boy was I right on this one!

And if you have to give the kids breakfast in a bag try these homemade Sweet Peanut Butter Cereal Bars.

So tell me, do you all eat in the car?



In the JOK Kitchen with The Forest Feast *Giveaway...


June 9th 2014

Contributed by:


52 comments | Leave Comment


The Forest Feast is a new vegetarian cookbook written by Erin Gleeson from her cabin in the woods.  After years of city living, she and her (Rabbi) husband moved to California and chose to live in a cabin in the woods.  Erin is incredibly talented and enjoys the beauty of her outdoor surroundings.  The cookbook is filled with vibrant photos of her food in the gorgeous setting of her home.  She shares bonus pictures of her surroundings to make us all jealous and she even includes fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering.  Her recipes are simple, all vegetarian and pleasing to all your senses. To purchase The Forest Feast click here.

You grew up vegetarian, did you ever go through a rebellious meat phase? 

About 4 years ago I decided to start eating meat, so I am actually not vegetarian anymore! I was working with all these amazing chefs in New York, photographing their beautiful food and just decided that I wanted to be able to try it sometimes when offered. My reason for remaining vegetarian all those years had much to do with issues surrounding sustainability. I felt like if I could eat meat sparingly and try to source it in a way that was responsible, I’d be okay with it. So that’s what I do now. I eat very little meat at home, and usually order vegetarian when out, but I like to have the option to try something if the opportunity arises.

Does your husband also eat mostly vegetarian?

We eat mostly vegetarian at home, but occasionally branch out. Since I didn’t grow up with it, my cooking knowledge of meat is limited, so Jonathan is the one who usually prepares meat if we have it­ he’s a great cook. If we cook meat, it’s usually during the summer for a BBQ or for a special holiday meal.

Now that you are settled in your little cabin, what do you miss about New York?

Walking everywhere! And friends and family. And bagels. Jonathan is from New York and most of his family is still there, so luckily we have many opportunities to go back.

What do you love best about your new home?

The outdoor space. The California weather is mild enough most of the year that we can spend a lot of time outdoors, which I love.

You share a lot about your early experiences as an artist, but what about food and cooking, What is your earliest memory of cooking?

I grew up in an apple orchard and I have vivid memories of cooking everything imaginable with apples each Fall. My grandmas and aunts would come visit and we’d set up an apple coring station in the kitchen, clamped to a table. We’d make apple pies, crisps, breads, butters, leathers­ you name it, we made it!

What is your favorite food?


Which recipe would you recommend to someone trying to eat more vegetarian meals?

 I’d recommend the Polenta Stuffed Portabellos. They are filling, “meaty” and pair well with a lot of sides.

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

Which recipe would be the most kid friendly?

I have fond memories of camping at the beach as a kid and eating Dipped Strawberries (in the sweets section of the book). You simply prepare a bowl of Greek Yogurt (or in my 1980s case, sour cream) and a bowl of brown sugar. Dip fresh strawberries first in the yogurt, then in the sugar, then eat immediately. It’s a fun interactive sweet treat.

You share a lot of salads, which I love, especially as the weather begins to heat up, which is the best Summertime salad?

I’d suggest the Nectarine Tomato Salad. It’s savory and sweet, and does well when made ahead for a crowd. Plus, it feels just a little different, and if you can get juicy ripe fruit from the farmers market, it’s so delicious.



Now is your turn to WIN a copy of this gorgeous vegetarian cookbook to add to your collection.  The Forest Feast retails for $35 and you be the lucky winner by entering with Rafflecopter below.  Start by sharing a comment on the gorgeous pictures you see in this article.

&nbspa Rafflecopter giveaway


How To Cook With Herbs


June 6th 2014

Contributed by:


2 comments | Leave Comment


Herb Guide To Cooking

Herb Guide To Cooking [Infographic] by the team at heitonbuckley