Step Up your Sandwich Game: 8 Sandwiches to Try


October 29th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


As it is officially sweater season, I enjoy nothing more than a lunch or dinner of a half sandwich and a steaming bowl of soup.  But seeing as I will be joining the real world quite soon, (graduation is in less than two months!), I’m giving my go-to sandwiches a much needed update.  It takes just a little creativity and few new spices and toppings to take your favorite sandwiches to the next level.  What’s your current go-to sandwich, how do you like to change it up? Please share in the comment section below!


Teriayki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

1.  Teriyaki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad: I feel more sophisticated just reading the name of the sandwich!  It’s not intimidating or difficult to make, just think of it as an Asian inspired ( and healthier version) of the pastrami sandwich.


greek grilled cheese

2.  Greek Style Grilled Cheese Hoagies with Scallions: Melava Malka, anyone?  While I might not bring this sandwich to work, it is definitely a dinner-time approved comfort food.


Mini Chocolate Coconut Sandwiches

3.  Mini Chocolate Coconut Sandwiches:  Not exactly dessert for dinner, but these pareve sandwiches are a nice weekday treat and make for a seriously adorable dessert.


4.  Kouftikes de Prasa Sandwiches: Traditionally this sandwich is made with mini meatballs, but this vegetarian version is healthier and even more delicious.  Sweet and savory leek patties are seasoned with cinnamon, cumin and cayenne, and topped with labneh and spicy pickled cabbage.


Short Rib Sliders

5.  Short Rib Sliders:  Flanken is a popular cut of meat that can be prepared in a growing number of ways.  No need to wait to throw it into shabbos cholent, instead serve it on a weekday in these short rib sliders.  Prepare the meat ahead of time, or throw it in the oven after school or work and let it slow cook until dinner time.


6.  Turkey Sandwich with Simple Fig-Onion Jam: The age-old turkey sandwich meets sophistication, the fig-onion jam makes for a delicious condiment and an extra dollop can hide any dryness the turkey, especially if its leftover, can have.


Non Dairy Cashew Ice Cream Sandwiches

7.  Cashew Ice Cream “Sandwiches”: This is a make-ahead recipe for sure, there’s isn’t a lot of individual prep time but the cashews need time to soak and the ice cream to freeze.  It’s well worth the wait though!


8.  Grilled Vegetable Wraps with Creamy Coleslaw: An easy weekday vegetarian meal, this sandwich works well for both lunch and dinner.




Joy of Kosher Living in Atlanta


October 29th 2014

Contributed by:


14 comments | Leave Comment


I was born and raised in the charming southern city of Atlanta, Georgia and am one of few Observant Jews who can claim bragging rights to being a fourth-generation Atlantan (a real Southern gent’). I guess you could say “I’m the real thing” (with apologies to the Coca-Cola Company). That being said, I very much feel a part of Jewish Atlanta. I also very much feel a part of Kosher Atlanta, in particular, as my father ran a popular and very much missed Kosher bakery in Atlanta for close to twenty years and conducted business with many of the city’s synagogues and kosher hotels- giving me an inside look into many of the city’s kosher venues. Always one who has been enraptured by food, I have also seen many restaurants come and go, from our short-lived French bistro-Élysées Buckhead to -the southern family style Twelve Oaks BBQ- to the great neighborhood pizza place, Wall Street Pizza (which is also very much missed). Many Atlantans have enjoyed the flavors and cuisine-culture that these bygone restaurants all respectively brought to Kosher Atlanta.

Mock Up Of The Owners of The Spicy Peach

Times have changed and the Jewish community of Atlanta has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. With that growth comes the expansion of kosher offerings in the city, most recently a specialty food store ‘The Spicy Peach’. Think Gourmet Glatt/Pomegranate, Amazing Savings, and Oh Nuts! all combined into one tiny store with the Southern heart of roadside Cracker Barrel. Artistically packed into the cozy store are dozens of gourmet cheeses, scrumptious chocolates & candies, high-end disposable dining wear, and other hard-to-find gourmet specialty kosher items (like exotic international/ethnic sauces and snacks) that the city was missing until the Spicy Peach’s arrival.  The Spicy Peach also offers a full line Panini and sandwich bar, soup station, and cholov-yisroel iced-coffee drinks and soft serve ice cream. It’s the new one -stop -shop for kosher awesomeness!

Fuego Mundo

In the Atlanta dining scene, Fuego Mundo is really where kosher is at! Fuego Mundo, meaning “world of fire” is the city’s “hottest” kosher restaurant. Located in the heart of one of Atlanta’s busiest business districts and just a short drive from all of the city’s Jewish neighborhoods, is a fusion style South American wood fire grill- specializing in healthy, organic, vegan, and gluten free dining options. I dare say I don’t think you’ll find a kosher restaurant quite like Fuego Mundo anywhere else in the U.S. Originally opened as a non-kosher restaurant in 2010, the owners decided to cater to the kosher community of Atlanta two years after their initial opening- a decision that was met with great excitement and appreciation from the kosher community. Diners get to enjoy watching their entrees being grilled right before their eyes on an open-fire wood grille while they sit and spend quality time with their family and friends. The entrée menu offers a variety of options from pineapple glazed citrus-pepper grilled salmon -to spicy grilled chicken breast- to their 16 oz. Uruguayan grass fed rib-eye steak. They even offered a grilled tofu steak and a number of amazing South American and traditional side dishes. Live musical entertainment is just an added bit of excitement to the atmosphere on a Saturday night. There’s something for everyone at Fuego Mundo.

The reigning kosher establishment in Atlanta is Chai Peking. Located inside the Toco Hills Kroger supermarket, the ever-popular Chinese take-out has been catering to kosher Atlantans for over 15 amazing years. I was amused when some friends of mine who recently moved to Atlanta seemed surprised on how good kosher Chinese food in Atlanta was, smiling with satisfaction as they told us about their meal. Chai Peking is a unique kosher Chinese place…let’s admit it: how many Chinese places do you know that serve Cholent on Thursdays as a fundraiser for a local charitable organization? But of course it’s their food (in addition to the great Southern service) that makes them stand apart. With over 150 menu options including veal, fish, and Americana and Israeli dishes, there is something for everyone at Chai Peking. My childhood favorite was their Chinese hot dog (hot dog wrapped in pastrami and deep fried a wonton wrapper) and our family favorite is the General Tso’s chicken and garlic chicken and beef.

The summers in Atlanta can be schvitzing, to say the least. To remedy the hot and humid summer days are two great spots for frozen treats: Bruster’s Ice Cream and Menchie’s frozen yogurt. Bruster’s fresh made ice cream and waffle cones have been delighting Atlantans for over a decade while Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt has joined the kosher scene within the past couple years. In my opinion, what’s more fun than cooling myself off with frozen yogurt is being able to sample all the self-serve yogurt options myself before deciding on my flavors.

The sweet tooth offerings in Atlanta don’t stop at ice cream and frozen yogurt. The city boasts five kosher certified Krispy Kreme donut locations, the coolest cotton candy you have ever heard of by ‘Cotton Cravings’ (located in the heart of uptown’s Lenox Mall), and a fun gourmet cookie shop known as Ali’s Cookies, that are so good they were featured as “snack of the day” on Rachel Ray’s daytime Talk Show. And for those who think they’re in heaven with 7-11, Atlanta’s QuickTrip convenience stores have many frozen and hot beverages that are kosher( by AKC list approval) that put 7-11 Slurpees to shame.

Publix Supermarket Toco Hills

Atlanta also boasts a number of Kroger Co. grocery outlets which offer a full line of kosher products, kosher deli and take-out, and fresh-cut kosher meat and poultry. Not to mention, Atlanta has the only Publix Supermarket that has a kosher meat department, kosher deli (good fried chicken) and sub-sandwich shop, and a fully-kosher bakery. One can also find fresh kosher meat and poultry, dairy products, as well as fresh baked goods at two of the city’s Costco locations.

While the local supermarkets offer wonderful fresh meat and poultry options, many of the city’s residents buy their meat from Griller’s Pride. Griller’s Pride is a local purveyor of fine fresh meats, specializing in premium glatt-kosher beef, fowl, and homemade authentic South African sausages (AKA: Boerewors) and biltong. The best part is that they ship anywhere in the U.S.

Steve Gilmer’s ‘Kosher Gourmet’, Atlanta’s oldest independent kosher meat-market, offers fresh cut meats to customer specification, a colorful array of Shabbos takeout, traditional NY deli sandwiches, and specializes in catering for special occasions and corporate events.

The city also boasts two Middle-Eastern/Israeli restaurants (Pita Palace and Pita Grille) and a vegetarian family -friendly restaurant, Broadway Café, where customers can go to enjoy hot pizza and a selection of fresh dairy fare. Pizza lovers can also get some amazing pizza (really amazing!) on Thursday evenings from Congregation Beth Tefillah (Chabad of Georgia), which has been selling quality stone-oven pizza (for takeout) as a weekly fundraiser for over 12 years. This is some of the best pizza I have ever had and the funny thing is that a lot of kosher Atlantans are not even aware that this exist!

As I continuously watch the Atlanta Jewish community grow by leaps and bounds, I watch with anticipation as what the growth will bring next to Atlanta’s kosher scene. A sushi place? Hamburger Joint? A House of Dog? Carlos & Gabby’s??? Until then, I will enjoy the many great kosher establishments that bless the capital of the Sweet South.


Spicing Up Tradition, Santa Fe Style!


October 28th 2014

Contributed by:


2 comments | Leave Comment


In this multi-cultural melting pot, one enterprising family endeavors to bring a uniquely “New Mexican” spin to generations-old Ashkenazi and Sephardi recipes.

Thanks to Santa Fe, New Mexico’s historically inclusive culture, Jewish travelers will feel welcome. Reminders of how European Jewish immigrants helped build Santa Fe from the ground up can be found in every part of town, from world-re-nowned art gallery street Canyon Road to museums and public buildings. La Posada, one of Santa Fe’s poshest hotels and most coveted sites for weddings and bar mitzvahs (kosher catering available), was built out of the homes of German-Jewish immigrants Abraham and Julia Staab, instrumental in transforming the city into a trade center and state capital in the 19th century.

Even with five shuls and approximately 7,000 Jews among the greater population of 65,000, however, there are no stand-alone kosher cafes—surprising when one considers the well-documented impact the Staabs and other pioneers, entrepreneurs and artists had on Santa Fe. Chabad Santa Fe’s Rabbi Berel and Devorah Leah Levertov, however, believe there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a kosher restaurant in Santa Fe. While Devorah runs a small kosher “market” out of the family garage, and Santa Fe Chabad offers catering services as well as prepared meals-to-go ($40), they are diligently working to push things forward with the same pioneering spirit as their 19th century counterparts.

Rabbi Levertov recently worked with the Santa Fe Tortilla Company to make their production facilities kosher. A visitor can also get a taste of their vision now by contacting Chabad Santa Fe to attend one of their Friday Shabbos dinners or holiday events.

Every Shabbos and gathering is admittedly a labor of love, as Devorah Leah makes the rounds to different area supermarkets (Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Smith’s, and Albertson’s) and Santa Fe’s nationally acclaimed farmers’ market to stock up on provisions and produce. Every Friday, Devorah Leah and her daughters bask in the glow of a Georgia O’Keefe sunset and the warm, pungent aromas of New Mexico chili and spices as the different dishes that will comprise their late spring Shabbos spread.

“What makes New Mexico cuisine special and why I love it so much are the flavors,” affirms Devorah Leah as she checks on her green chili matzoh ball soup. “The way we prepare food on the holidays as well as every day is a mix of traditional (Ashkenaz) kosher food and New Mexican components such as the fresh green and dried red chilies. Every year we purchase a big stack of green chilies when they are in season in the fall, and we use both kinds throughout the year in everything. Though roasting chilies takes effort, the smell alone is worth it. We do chili-based stews for major holidays and events, and occasionally offer a chili cholent!”


A word on chili: “When using chili, I add accordingly for extra flavor. Here in New Mexico, people eat their chili dishes very hot, but you need to be careful as every chili pepper is different, and the longer you cook the dish, the more the chili flavor dilutes.”

Chili Chicken Soup: “I prep and combine one bag of carrots (chopped), one large sweet potato, three chopped zucchinis, a whole chopped onion, salt, pepper, garlic, a bunch of parsley and most importantly, two large roasted New Mexico green chili peppers, (no skin and no seeds) in a large pot with the chicken. Next, I fill the pot with water, bring to a boil and simmer for a few hours. The chili gives it a good kick!”

Chili Gefilte Fish: “I line the bottom of a pan with 8 ounces tomato sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, parsley and two tablespoons of lemon juice. I take all the parchment paper off of my gefilte fish, put two rolls into the pan, pour lemon juice over the frozen rolls and pour remaining half can of tomato sauce over the fish and lemon juice. Then sprinkle some garlic powder, red chili pepper, black pepper and parsley on top of sauce. I bake it uncovered for two hours at 350°F.

Chili Potato Side Dish: “Cut your potatoes into chunks and boil until soft, but be careful not to overcook them. Next, drain the water and add olive oil, salt, red chili pepper, fresh parsley, garlic powder and diced New Mexico roasted green chili pieces. If you can- not get these peppers in your area, or the peppers are not in season, you can use cans of hot roasted green chili pepper, diced. Mix it all together, serve immediately or keep warm in oven.”

New Mexico Taco Salad: “This is a mix of romaine lettuce, fresh tomatoes, black olives, avocado, red onions and roasted corn. What makes the salad ‘New Mexican’ is the dressing, which needs to be added in at the very last minute. The dressing is two parts of homemade medium or hot salsa, mixed with one part mayo. You then customize it with fresh diced green chili or red chili added to the dressing to taste. Finally, mix crumbled tortilla chips like those by Garden of Eden and top with more homemade salsa.”


Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe
(505) 983-2000

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market

New Mexico Jewish Historical Society

The Jewish Federation of New Mexico Headquartered in Albuquerque, this organization provides services and information for Jews throughout the state. 

Santa Fe Hadassah

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

Subscribe Now


Food Tours in Israel


October 27th 2014

Contributed by:


5 comments | Leave Comment


This past summer, I had the amazing chance to spend six weeks in Israel with my family. We really got to see what it was like to LIVE in Israel. We arrived toward the end of June and two weeks later we heard our first emergency siren. The siren didn’t really worry me or my kids, but all the calls from friends and relatives helped me realize that my Israeli cousins weren’t worried for our safety, but for our sanity. We readjusted to this new normal with a profound faith in our Army and the people of Israel who were remarkably resilient during these difficult days.

We made some changes to our trip and moved north where we got to spend more time with family. The events of the summer didn’t hold us back from all the eating we had planned. Before the trip, I had been researching all the Israel food tours that have popped up in recent years.  There are many companies that offer all kinds of culinary tours, here are a few I have been in touch with (feel free to add any that you have used in the comments below:

Due to timing, I did my own tour of the Tel Aviv Carmel Market and Machaneh Yehuda.  Pictured here is a Hummus shop in the Carmel market.  I heard great things about this Hummus shop that looked like an old synagogue, but I didn’t get a chance to eat there, because we were too full from an Israeli breakfast.

Machaneh Yehuda was a zoo and not easy to navigate with three kids, but our favorite stall was the halva guys.  They offer plenty of free tastes of the multitude of flavors they sell and my kids had a ball picking out some to take home.  Next time I plan to try the Shuk Bites tour, where you take a self-guided tour that points you to the best tastes at the market.  I also won’t go on a Friday.

Our best tour this trip was the Tel Aviv tour by Delicious Israel. Delicious Israel is a food tour company run by Inbal Baum, an Israeli who was brought up in the US. She gave up a promising career as a New York lawyer for her lifelong passion for food and history. She has started a successful business organzing food tours and cooking classes in Tel Aviv. Inbal introduced us to her favorite shops and sites as we walked from the Jaffa Port to the Levinsky market.

Upon leaving the Jaffa Port we had our first bite, and it was an unbelievable hummus that will forever change the way I think about hummus. While I loved the whole experience, I particularly loved dipping raw onion into the dense, creamy spread. It allowed me to eat more without filling up on the pita (as much).

We had a few other tasty treats and learned about Jaffa oranges and walked through the Jaffa flea market, but the real highlight for me was our visit to the historic Levinsky market. The market has been around since the 1920s and is recently enjoying a resurgence of interest by Israeli foodies and tourists. It has a unique mix of old and new shops for spices, baked goods, cheese, delis and more.

I’m still dreaming of the soda guy! Everyone that experiences Benny’s sodas get hooked on the amazing natural flavors he concocts in his closet-sized laboratory. Fellow blogger, Shulie shares her experience and a recipe on the Forward here. We loved it so much I came back with my kids (check them out on Instagram) and now have my oldest son working on his own sodas – look out Benny!

We also loved the antipasto platter from one of the local gourmet shops. They had the most unbelievable olives and homemade stuffed grape leaves. We tried crispy potato borekas right out of the oven and an interesting frozen dessert drink called Faloodeh, made with rice vermicelli, sugar and rose water. Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience!

A food tour is a wonderful way to experience the history, culture and cuisine of a city. They can be customized for your taste, kashrut level or family interests and can really personalize the travel experience.

I highly recommend trying a food tour next time you are in Israel.

If you have done one in Israel or anywhere else, please share your experience in the comments below.



A Family Vacation in Lake Como


October 24th 2014

Contributed by:


2 comments | Leave Comment


Lake Como, a popular vacation destination in Northern Italy is best known to most Americans today because George Clooney lives there, see pictures of his villa here.  Now, that wasn’t my reason for going (at least that’s what I promised my husband) and I didn’t have any celebrity sightings at all, but I did see some of the most gorgeous scenery imaginable.

On our family trip to Israel this summer we were able to arrange a brief stopover in Milan, after a short stay in the world’s fashion capital we took a 1 hour train to the lake region.

The area of Lake Como is comprised of dozens of small villages running up and down either side of the water.  It is often recommended for romantic getaways and honeymoons, because of the gorgeous views of the Swiss Alps over the lake, quaint small towns and beautiful gardens, but it is also very family friendly.

It is relatively easy to find an apartment to rent with Airbnb or other vacation rental sites so that you can have enough space for even a very large family. You can bring some kosher foods from Milan which boasts several kosher restaurants and markets or buy fresh produce in the local markets.  The biggest decision you have is which village to stay in.  A ferry boat service traverses the lake throughout the day and some towns offer water taxi service, but some villages have more frequent service than others.  You will want to find a nice village that you enjoy and works with your budget, but it’s nice to know that many other small towns are only a short boat trip away.

Look at these views from the ferry.

We stayed in Bellano, this was the view from our bedroom, the waterfall that put us to sleep every night.

Bellano was not as busy as some of the other lake towns which was a plus for us.  Bellano had several small markets, playgrounds, a movie theater, public and private swimming areas and some great fishing.  We thought it was the perfect place to stay, but there is less to do for tourists.

Since the nineteenth century, Bellagio has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most exclusive and opulent resort villages in Italy. The neoclassical villas of Bellagio evoke refinement and sophistication and you can easily arrange a guided tour of the grounds of these magnificent homes. Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni are the most famous in town.  Tickets to Villa Melzi include entrance to the neo-classical Chapel, the museum and the park which boasts beautiful sculptures and lovely azaleas and rhododendrons. Villa Serbelloni is operated by the Rockefeller Foundation and hosts artists and scientists from all over the world.  Although you can’t see the inside of the Villa, you can tour the grounds and gardens.

Villa Carlotta in the lakeside village of Tremezzo was one of the highlights of our trip.  The museum includes Canova’s masterpieces such as Palamede, Amore e Psiche, Tersicore, La Maddalena Penitente, but also Thorvaldsen’s monumental frieze Alessandro Magno’s Entrance to Babylon and the famous painting Romeo and Juliet Last Farewell by Hayez.

Yes, these are real live turtles!!

You can also stroll for hours in the Villa’s gardens observing azaleas, camellias, ferns, rhododendron and bamboo with the glittering waters of the lake in the postcard-ready background.


The main highlight of Varenna is Villa Monastero, a 14-room house museum where you can experience 19th century life in the living, dining, parlor and bedoom of the aristocratic neo-classical villa adorned with objects of art and furniture and surrounded by a lovely botanical garden hosting a wide variety of indigenous and exotic species.

On our Lake Como vacation we enjoyed the amazing views of snowcapped mountains and the daily adventures ferrying from town to town along the magnificent lake, walking cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways and falling under the spellbinding magic of Italy’s Lombardy region.  You will do a lot of walking and my youngest was just turning 6, she only whined a little bit.


24 Hours In Milan


October 23rd 2014

Contributed by:


4 comments | Leave Comment


This summer my family and I took an extended trip to Israel and scheduled a stopover to Italy.  We flew from New York to Milan and had a little over 24 hours to enjoy the city.  A lot of people told me to skip Milan that it wasn’t worth a visit (unless you were going during Fashion Week or had a big expense account), but I beg to disagree.  The city of Milan offers much more than we could ever enjoy in 24 hours and it is worth a stopover or a special visit to see for yourself.

Arrive in Milan airport early in the morning, drop your bags at the gorgeous Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport hotel (you don’t even have to leave the terminal) before heading out for the day.  From the airport to the downtown Milan, you can take a bus or Malpensa Express train service and be in the city center in less than an hour.

Our first stop was to a rectory adjacent to Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the Last Supper, Leonardo DaVinci’s magnificent wall painting that was reopened to the public in 1999 after a 22 year restoration effort.  Please be sure to book tickets in advance to reserve your preferred time and they do sell out frequently – especially during the busy tourist season.

 Next, we spent a couple of hours at the nearby Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, “Leonardo da Vinci” the largest museum of science and technology in Italy, showcasing the history of Italian science, technology and industry from the 19th century to the present.  The museum was very kid-friendly and the historic models of DaVinci’s innovations offered a glimpse into the extraordinary artist and forward-thinking renaissance scientist and inventor.

For a delicious kosher lunch, head over to - It is only about a 20 minute walk – (pick up something for later as there are not so many kosher food options in the center).

After lunch you can head over to the Duomo di Milano, landmark Gothic cathedral in the center which is adjacent to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls where you can find many high-end stores from all over the world right next to 19th century coffee houses.


As the afternoon came to an end, we took the kids to Castello Sforzesco.  A historic castle right in the center of Milan.  The Castle was named after Francesco Sforza, who transformed it into a residence in 1450, but its origins go back nearly a hundred years earlier to the time of Galeazzo II Visconti.


An evening in Milan is not complete without a night at the opera.  The La Scala Opera House regularly boasts the world’s greatest opera stars.  My husband and I saw Mozart’s Così fan tutte in a small box seat — it was an experience we will never forget!  Check out my inside picture from Instagram here.

Photos above from Shutterstock, except for the Sheraton which came from the hotel.  My photos didn’t come out so great this time around.

Make sure to check out our trip to Lake Como, the second part of this vacation.


Cooking With Joy: Coq au Vin


October 23rd 2014

Contributed by:


2 comments | Leave Comment


When I get overwhelmed I love to watch The Food Network, specifically The Barefoot Contessa. Everything about her calms me down. She has such an ease to everything she does. One of the dishes that she makes is Coq Au Vin. It’s always been something that I have wanted to try, just had to figure out how to make it easier and kosher. Thank you Jamie for giving us exactly that!

Before I continue on about the Coq Au Vin, I just want to talk about the actual chicken for a minute. I don’t have such a great relationship with bone chicken, so I opted to use cutlets. Not all chicken is created equal. The quality of the meats and various cuts at Evergreen, are things you can’t always find in other places. The whole store is like this, but specifically the meat department- you could just spend time looking at everything and become inspired- at least that is what I do. When you have good ingredients the recipes always taste better. And that is just one of the reasons why I love shopping there.

Coq au Vin with Veal Sausage, Thyme, and Merlot page 148
DRESS IT DOWN Quick Coq au Vin 

I combined the dressed up and dressed down versions. I followed the recipe for the dressed up version, yet used cutlets to make the recipe cook faster. I love using Jacks sausages, so I used the Kilbasa again, just because its SO GOOD! Again I left out the thyme, and the dish turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.  I used a really nice bottle of Merlot. Of course I had to taste it before pouring it into the pot, it was surprisingly sweet, with fruity notes (look at me talking about wine and being all fancy) Seriously though, the wine lent itself beautifully to this dish. When cooking with wine, make sure it’s a bottle that you would want to drink, since the flavor and the quality is what will be passed onto the dish.


The aroma of the wine was filling the house and it was making me really hungry. After I took the pot out of the oven, I let it cool just enough before diving in. I put a bite of mushroom, pearl onion, sausage and chicken onto the fork (my mouth is watering as I write this) together, dipped it into the wine for good measure and ate. The richness of the sausage and mushrooms combined with  the silkiness of the pearl onions- WHOA!! I tried to find the words to write, but honestly I just kept going back for more.

Special thanks to Yehoshua Werth of The Grapevine for sponsoring the Merlot. Next time you are in Monsey go visit them. They have a gorgeous new store, wide selection and very friendly knowledgeable staff.


15 Travel Friendly Recipes


October 22nd 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


It’s officially fall here in New England!  The beautiful scenery makes me want to go outdoors and enjoy the gorgeous colors of fall, not to mention the necessary road trips to go apple and pumpkin picking.  Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia (where I attend college) I’m just a stones throw away from hiking trails and the farms of Lancaster County.  I’m done with midterms and looking to spend sometime outside, which means packing travel friendly foods (there aren’t too many kosher options in Amish country!) for my time on the road.  Below are 15 recipes to take on your travels.



Quinoa is my go-to starch when traveling, and everyday, really!  It is a protein filled base that will support just about anything you pair with it.  From Apple and Cinnamon to Citrus Scented Quinoa and California Raisin Salad.  Or try quinoa salads such as Quinoa, Black Bean & Mango Salad, Black Quinoa Asian Slaw, and good old Quinoa Salad.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I’m not going to lie, these bars aren’t diet food but they are delicious and will give you energy.  Some, like the Power Packed Oat Bars with Cranberries, Apricots and Pumpkin Seeds or Gluten Free Miracle Chocolate Chip Bars make for a good breakfast or snack.  The Sweet Peanut Butter Cereal BarCrunchy Maple Brown Sugar Granola Bars, or Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are a nice treat after a day spent traveling.


In addition to the classic PB&J, some travel friendly sandwiches include the delicious Roast Beef Sandwich or Chunky Tuna Sandwiches.  Or stick to the veggies with Roast Pepper and Pesto Tea Sandwiches, Oven Roasted Falafel or Ultimate Veggie Sliders.  To prevent soggy bread, spread condiments in the middle of the sandwich or wait to assemble the sandwiches until you’re ready to eat.



Ancient Pans for Modern Flavors


October 22nd 2014

Contributed by:


1 comment | Leave Comment


It’s not that I don’t love my mother; she is great. She is smart, interesting, accomplished and fun to be with.  It’s just that she has this annoying habit of recalling my past mistakes and exclaiming: “I told you so!”

It all started in the eighties when I was a know-it-all teenager, and decided to embark on a modernization spree. The first step was imposing the purchase of a microwave oven and a Braun food processor (my mother continued to whisk her mayonnaise by hand, and used the microwave to store cooking books). Next was my “upgrade” from aluminum and cast-iron pans to stainless steel and non-stick Teflon. Still polite, condescending silence (after all, if that was the extent of my teenage rebellion, she considered herself lucky).

Until one day she found out that, to make space for the new stainless set, I had dared to dispose of grandma’s pentola di coccio (clay pot), and her copper pots (paioli) for polenta and jam. Now, you shouldn’t think that my nonna was one of these extraordinary home cooks that populate the dreams of Italian food lovers; all she could make were five or six things.  However, her bread soup and polenta were awesome, and when my mom opened the cabinets to find her favorite tools missing – all h*ll broke loose. We had an epic fight, which ended, as always, with her saying “One day you’ll be sorry!” and me raising my eyes, hissing “Yeah, right!” and slamming my bedroom door.

But here is the thing: even when your children look like they aren’t listening to you, they are. It’s just going to take them about 20 years to process the information and finally agree with you 100%. One day in my thirties I woke up and realized that, in many ways, I had turned into my mother. The truth was that my mom had been giving me sound advice for all my life. Some of it just took a while to actually sink in.

I started noticing many articles that praised the qualities of traditional cookware. Cast iron, clay, copper; they were all calling my name from the glossy pages of my favorite Williams- Sonoma catalogues. Of course, after I broke down and spent a week’s salary on an imported and overpriced version of something I myself had thrown out, I went to great lengths to hide them from Mom.

Buy This On Amazon


When I was little, I remember my Nonna telling me that clay “remembers” all the delicious dishes that are cooked in it, so the older and the more “used’ the pot is, the tastier the result. I would have laughed this off as an old wives’ tale – but my mom, who is a pharmaceutical chemist, confirms that it’s all true, thanks to the porous nature of clay. This means, she adds, that (no matter how gorgeous my authentic Tuscan cookware is, and how many cooking classes I teach) my stew is never going to taste as good as it would have in our family heirloom.

Click here for 5 Tips for Cooking with Earthenware

Get my recipe for Tuscan Pepper Stew here

Copper Pots

What home cook hasn’t dreamed of owning an extravagantly expensive copper cookware set and feeling like a romantic French chef in a Paris kitchen? Let’s admit it: even if you don’t cook at all, such a shiny and gorgeous set would make your kitchen look designer fabulous! In addition to adding a decorative flair, copper conducts heat better than any other material, propagating the heat quickly but evenly through the whole utensil, without any of those annoying burns you get with stainless steel. Copper also lasts practically forever, and like cast iron and clay it boosts the flavor of some particular foods.

Read all about using Copper pots, limitation and best uses. 

Get my recipe for authentic polenta here.


This article is part of a series on “pots & pans” published in Joy Of Kosher Magazine. Some other pots & pans included are crock pots & pressure cookers, for more information and recipes Subscribe Today

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

Subscribe Now


Using and Taking Care of Copper Pots


October 21st 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


What home cook hasn’t dreamed of owning an extravagantly expensive copper cookware set and feeling like a romantic French chef in a Paris kitchen? Let’s admit it: even if you don’t cook at all, such a shiny and gorgeous set would make your kitchen look designer fabulous! In addition to adding a decorative flair, copper conducts heat better than any other material, propagating the heat quickly but evenly through the whole utensil, without any of those annoying burns you get with stainless steel. Copper also lasts practically forever, and like cast iron and clay it boosts the flavor of some particular foods.

And how could I not mention polenta, the symbol of cucina povera (peasant cooking) in Northern Italy – which has recently made inroads in the trendiest New York City restaurants? A basic cornmeal and water mush served on a wooden cutting board, delicious with hearty stews or artisanal cheeses, the best polenta is always made in a heavy-gauge unlined copper pot with flared sides, a paiolo. It’s hard to explain, but the “flavor” of copper is part of “real” polenta, and lends it a depth that’s a
far cry from the blandness of any prepackaged and instant versions.

Get my recipe for authentic polenta here.

There is a misconception that copper utensils are not easy to take care of. Nowadays, there are many commercial products that make it a breeze to shine your set to perfection.

However, the most natural and effective system is what grandma taught me: washing with hot water and Marseille soap, and shining with a “scrub” made of equal parts of corn flour, white vinegar, and kosher salt.

When to avoid cooking with copper: Like the other “reactive” metals (aluminum, copper, iron, and steel when not ‘stainless’), copper also reacts with acidic and alkaline foods: preparations with tomatoes or lemon juice can take on a metallic flavor, and light-colored foods, like eggs, can develop gray streaks.Foods will also pick some copper from the cookware, especially if you cook preparations with acidic ingredients for a long time, and if they are left to cool down in the pot. While iron is processed easily by our bodies and has health benefits, copper or aluminum can build up in the body with harmful effects. This doesn’t happen with occasional use, but you should avoid copper for everyday usage and storage.

Temporary solution: To eliminate this problem altogether, manufactures have lined the inside of copper pots and pans with tin or stainless steel. Unfortunately, this type of cookware is outrageously expensive and the lining gets damaged over time. Damaged stainless lining cannot be fixed– which means you lose on the main advantage of copper, its durability! Tin can be redone, but it has a disadvantage: it cannot withstand the same high temperatures as copper. This makes tinned copper utensils less than ideal for some of copper’s otherwise most perfect matches: candy, chocolate, and jam-making. All of these need to cook evenly, quickly and at high heat, which only pure (unlined) copper can achieve, particularly when its thickness at the bottom is between 2 and 2.5 mm.

Use only UNSOLDERED copper pots, for the best flavor, I bought my Ruffoni on Amazon.


This article is part of a series on “pots & pans” published in Joy Of Kosher Magazine. Some other pots & pans included are crock pots & pressure cookers, for more information and recipes Subscribe Today

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

Subscribe Now


Tips For Cooking With Terracotta Earthenware


October 21st 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


When I was little, I remember my Nonna telling me that clay “remembers” all the delicious dishes that are cooked in it, so the older and the more “used’ the pot is, the tastier the result. I would have laughed this off as an old wives’ tale – but my mom, who is a pharmaceutical chemist, confirms that it’s all true, thanks to the porous nature of clay. This means, she adds, that (no matter how gorgeous my authentic Tuscan cookware is, and how many cooking classes I teach) my stew is never going to taste as good as it would have in our family heirloom (one’s I threw away as a rebellious teen).

People have been cooking in clay utensils since the beginnings of time. From Morocco to Italy, from Mexico to Japan, terracotta is favored for slow cooked preparations, from minestrone to stew, from legumes to meat sauces. Unlike metals, earthenware heats up extremely slowly, and releases the heat to its contents just as slowly! So much so, that the food keeps cooking for a while once the heat is turned off.

5 Earthenware Tips

  1. Moist heat can have its drawbacks too: once when I opened the lid to check my Japanese hot pot recipe, I ended up with a third degree burn from the steam. I have since invested in a pair of asbestos gloves for safe handling of my pot.
  2. Before the first use, most manufacturers recommend that clay pots be soaked in water for several hours to be tempered and made heat-resistant. Some even rub the surface with garlic as a kind of “toner” to close the pores. Note that natural pots (unglazed) also need to be “seasoned.” There are different ways to do this (rice, pareve milk, etc.) and you can simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Because clay is porous and absorbent, you should never use commercial detergents to clean it! Hot water and a good scrub, plus some vinegar and/or baking soda are all you need.
  4. “Natural” clay pots can only be used in the oven. However, glazed ones can withstand more direct heat and can be used on the stovetop; but always on lower settings, and with the help of a heat diffuser (available for about $5 at most cooking supply stores).
  5. As far as glazed clay is concerned, while some countries such as the U.S., France and Italy are known for their high quality-control standards, other places produce gorgeous pots but still use lead in the coloring. Lead is highly toxic, so make sure to do your homework before you buy!

You can find Italian Terra Cotta pots like the one pictured here on Amazon.

Get my recipe for Tuscan Pepper Stew here.

This article is part of a series on “pots & pans” published in Joy Of Kosher Magazine. Some other pots & pans included are crock pots & pressure cookers, for more information and recipes Subscribe Today

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

Subscribe Now


A Shabbat Project Breakfast Idea


October 20th 2014

Contributed by:


6 comments | Leave Comment


Looking for inspiration for a Shabbos Breakfast? – look no further than these Israeli Breakfast ideas.

Rushed off our feet during the week sometimes makes it impossible to sit down as a family and eat a healthy breakfast together. Let’s really get into the spice and spirit of the promised land, leaving the macon and eggs behind, to enjoy the land of milk and honey in the form of an Israeli breakfast.

The options are endless and you don’t have to make a thing!

Everything’s available from your favourite supermarket. All you have to do is spread it all out on the table.  Your breakfast can include any or all of the following ideas:

  • Cereals
  • Yogurts
  • Labane (Yogurt cheese)
  • Crackers
  • Cream cheese
  • Feta
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Smoked salmon
  • Pickled herring
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Humus
  • Techina
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Dried fruit compote
  • Fresh fruit juices
  • Coffee
  • Babka
  • Muffins

Now you have plenty of  time to bake your challas and prepare your cholent.

Have you signed up for the Shabbat Project yet?   Join the JOK team and sign up now!!


New Jewish Summer Camp Options for Parents


October 20th 2014

Contributed by:


6 comments | Leave Comment


This past summer four new Jewish summer camps opened their doors to offer kids (and parents) new choices.  Thanks to a generous grant from four major foundations (Jim Joseph, AVI CHAI, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and UJA-Federation of New York), visionary camp directors were able to create new experiences to meet the demands of many families looking for unique camp experiences that incorporate Jewish values with a concentration on  science, sports, business and health and wellness.


Camp Zeke, located in the Poconos, focuses on health, wellness and culinary.  When I learned of this camp I thought it was a perfect fit for my kids.  Cooking and healthy eating are central values for my family and I liked the way Camp Zeke was able to weave these programs into a diverse camp experience.  We learned about Camp Zeke at our local synagogue and decided to give it a try for their one week Taste of Zeke program.


In the weeks and days leading up to camp, my 10-year old read the entire website and pamphlet, practically memorizing the sample menu and activities list.  My 8-year old was excited to go away for the week with his big brother and try his hands at Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts).  I of course missed them each day, but followed along with the pictures on Facebook and their website and I could see they were having so much fun. Camp Zeke exceeded our high expectations.

The camp is not affiliated with any Jewish movement, they serve kosher (dairy) food and have a respectful and robust Shabbat program.  Every day they have bunk activities, electives and in the evening they come together for a camp wide activity.  Activities include Sports, Art and Cooking, but they also offer Strength Training and Yoga.

Before Shabbat, campers work together to prepare a traditional Shabbat meal and they all dress up in blue and white for the evening services and dinner.  On Shabbat day, the kids choose between a spiritual walk or yoga services with meditation.  It is a time for quiet contemplation and spiritual reflection and my boys loved it!

The goal of Camp Zeke and some of the other new Jewish summer camps is to provide more opportunities to connect kids to their Jewish identity.  My children go to a Jewish day school and live an active Jewish life, but the opportunity to fuse food, health and Jewish values at Camp Zeke gave them an even stronger spiritual connection.

Visit to learn more and take advantage of the Camp Zeke Early Bird Special - Sign up byOctober 31st for $350 off.



Photos provided by Camp Zeke and taken by Netanya Lerner (who just happened to find out about the camp from us)


Bereshis and New Beginnings: Healthy All-Day...


October 15th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


The new year starts on Rosh Hashana, the slate is wiped clean on Yom Kippur, and the Torah reading cycle starts anew on Simchas Torah.  And what begins the Monday after the holidays of Tishrei come to a close?  My new diet, that’s what.  Eating healthy on a holiday or weekday is often times a lot easier said than done, especially when one considers the other priorities that take precedence.  I find that when I call it a “diet” I usually end up gaining weight because I’m always saying “diet starts tomorrow… or after ____ treat”.  Instead, I find that it’s much more sustainable to focus on eating healthier rather than restricting oneself.  Below are 40 healthy dishes (even dessert!) for each meal of the day.  Hatzlacha!




Start the day right with power-packed punch of protein, carbs and healthy fats.  If you’re up to it, (not sure if I even am), try a smoothie filled with veggies and fruits to help get those necessary nutrients in early.

Oatmeal Protein Cupcakes

Healthy Green Smoothie

Roasted Grape Breakfast Farro

Soft Boiled Eggs on Toast

Benedict Goes to Norway (substitute with whole wheat, sourdough or gluten-free bread)


Flourless Banana Pancakes

Cinnamon Blueberry Buckwheat Chia Muffins


At lunch I’m always faced with the tough decision of having a large lunch or instead having a large dinner.  I tend to lean towards the former and eat a heavier lunch, limiting myself to a small dinner. Whatever you prefer, the lunch recipes below work great paired up (1/2 sandwich + soup and/or salad) or as larger stand-alone portions.

Tomato Soup with Egg in a Hole

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Teriyaki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Arugula Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

Grilled Herbed Veggie Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Mango Salad

Smoked Salmon Olive and Wild Rice Salad

Thai Chicken Salad


The nerve-enducing afternoon snack doesn’t have to wreck a good day of eating.  Try drinking a large glass of water and moving a bit before you snack to reduce fake hunger inducing factors such as dehydration and tension.

Maple Roasted Smoky Almonds

Baked Root Vegetable Chips with Babaganoush

Kale and Popcorn Medley

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Whole Wheat Mozzarella and Chive Cheez-Its

Chickpea Snack (try it with za’atar!)


After a long day treat yourself to a healthy, satisfying dinner followed by a sweet dessert.

Fish Tacos

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Blue Marble Quiche

Sautéed Chicken With Leeks, Carrots, Parsnips and Mushrooms

Fresh Carrot and Corn Soup

Mushroom Chow Fun (small portion!)

Bahn Mi Salmon Burger

Black Bean Yellow Pepper and Cumin Chili

Turkey Veggie Meatballs with Panko Crust

Fresh Fig, Carrot, Fennel and Kale Salad

Fall Harvest Soup

Smoked Salmon Waldorf Salad

Apple Compote

Mint Chocolate and Lavender Popcorn

Almond Olive Oil Cake

No-Bake Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies

Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Muffin Top Cookies


See more healthy recipes here!



DIY Passion Fruit Cornucopia and Colada


October 15th 2014

Contributed by:


0 comments | Leave Comment


Wine doesn’t have to be just for drinking. Especially fruit flavored wine, like Morad’s Danue line. I used their passion fruit variety to make a creamy cocktail and a tropical-inspired dessert in honor of harvest season.


In the spirit of Sukkot and Thanksgiving, I created a twist on the classic cream horn, using puff pastry to make cornucopia’s. Cornucopia’s are literally “horns of plenty”, resembling an abundant harvest.  

I used Morad Passion Fruit Wine, a flavorful and affordable drink, to flavor the cream. Passion fruits are full of vitamins A & C, as well as iron, and are both tangy and sweet. The passion fruit flavored custard adds an exotic touch to the traditional french dessert. Get my full recipe for non dairy Passion Fruit Cornucopia here.  

Aside from drinking Morad’s passion fruit wine straight from a glass or using it to flavor dessert, you can also use it to make a creamy cocktail. I did a riff on the classic pina colada by using the wine in place of rum, making it a little lighter so you can enjoy even more. I added rich coconut milk and crushed pineapple for a fresh and delicious drink. Get my full recipe for Passion Fruit Colada here.

Get your bottles of Morad Fruit Wines at your local wine store, if they don’t have it, ask them to order it.  L’chaim.