An Oscar Night Menu


February 25th 2014

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Every year I love to plan a special menu for watching the Oscars.  It is so much fun to try and incorporate something from all the best picture nominations into our party.  This year with 10 nominations it is not going to be easy to get them all in, but I will try.  I also got a real kick out of the Oscar Matzos that Wolfgaang Puck will be serving this year, albeit with some beluga cavair, who would have though that matzo of any kind would make it to the awards.

Here is my take on an Oscar night menu for 2014 based on the best picture nominees: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena,12 Years As A Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

corn and honey blinis with kosher caviar


Start the night with these Corn and Honey Blinis served with Bowfin Caviar, recipe brought to us from the chef of Prime Grill who says the Bowfin caviar is the closest thing to real caviar for the kosher consumer.  You can also fake it with the cheaper black caviar found in most kohser markets.  This recipe reflects the sheer excess from the movie The Wolf on Wall Street.

Chicken Piccata

Serve this Chicken Piccata in notice of the night out in American Hustle with the mayor and Irving and their wives.  There is a lot of Italian food going on in this movie, so anything Italian will do, but the chicken piccata is raved over.

Collard Green and Hummus Mini-Wraps

Collard Green and Hummus Mini-Wraps

12 Years As A Slave is a heart wrenching movie set in the South where collard greens, corn bread and blackberries abound.  This recipe is not your typical southern preparation, but I like it for eating in front of the the television and the leftovers are perfect weekday lunches.

Vegetarian Rice Salad

Serve this rice salad filled with fava beans without the optional cheese for Captain Phillips.  Set in Africa, captain phillips was was captured by pirates from Somalia, where the cuisine is so varied from Indian, Persian, to Italian, so almost anything goes.  Fava beans in particular are mentioned so this rice and fava bean salad is nice choice.

Green Bean and Asparagus Fries

Green Bean and Asparagus Fries

The Dallas Buyer’s Club revolves around the rodeo where fried foods and food on a stick abounds.  I am going with a healthy version with these vegetable fries.

root beer float

Root Beer Float

For dessert serve a classic Root Beer Float, make it with any non dairy ice cream to keep it parve and think about the people floating around in space in gravity.  I am going to have this recipe do double duty to work with Nebraska too.   A movie where beer plays a big role, either serve your favorite Nebraksa brew or enjoy this Root Beer Float.

I have done my best, but can’t fit anything in for the movie Her or Philomena.  For Philomena you could go with something British, tea and crumpets maybe, but does anyone have any idea for the Her?







Create The Perfect Purim Gift Basket *Giveaway*


February 25th 2014

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Even though we had an extra month of Adar this year I still feel like all of a sudden Purim is creeping up on me.  I have been undecided about my plan for Mishloach Manot this year when I got a call from Oh! Nuts.  I knew all about Oh! Nuts, I love the gift baskets they sell, but I usually prepare my own baskets and I didn’t realize the extent of what they sold.  Turns out they are are a mecca of supplies to help make any food gift basket, especially though for Purim.  They have homemade hamantashen, tons of chocolate specialties and tons of candy if every different color.

For the perfect Purim gift basket theme, consider color to express your creativity! Choose your favorite color or mix it up for a variation on a theme (Red and White for Where’s Waldo? Rainbow for Wizard of Oz, Blue and White for Israel). Our friends at Oh! Nuts make it easy with a section of their website devoted to browsing candy by color.   Click for more ideas.

This is an example of some of the candies they sell in pink, you can buy a pink candy sampler or buy each one in bulk.

Another idea is to place these flavored Jordan almonds on a plate like they are pebbles and top with their mini hamantashen.  The mini hamantashen are baked on premises and drizzled with chocolate.  They also sell chocolate dipped hamantashen with colored sugar as you can see in the main image so you can match your theme.

If you run out of time to make your own, choose from a wide variety of Mishloach Manot, many with free shipping and all with delicious hamantashen.  This Picnic Box basket goes with a less traditional more modern approach.  But, you can stick with tradition and order the gold box filled with hamantashen, grape juice, chocolate, and fruit candy for all your friends and family in bulk and get it for under $13 including shipping.

This Mishloach Manot basket comes with this exquisite washing cup and tasty gourmet treats and right now, you have the chance to win this basket!

Oh Nuts is offering 5% off all your Mishloach Manot needs with coupon code: JOKP.


Enter to win this basket now using the Rafflecopter entry below.

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This post was sponsored by Oh! Nuts, all opinions expressed are my own.




3 Cheese Fondue Recipes *Giveaway*


February 24th 2014

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Fondue for two sounds nice, but lately I’ve been doing fondue for five. My kids get so excited when they hear we are having fondue and although we’re talking some serious cheese, I know I will get them to eat their veggies.

Fondue is the perfect family night IN.  Get your kids involved by letting them choose the cheese and their favorite items to dip.  You can all delight in the ooey gooey goodness.  Serve a salad on the side and dinner is served.

It ‘s best to make fondue in a special pot, I use this one from Emile Henry, it is the perfect size for 6-8 people and looks great going from stove top to table top.

I a tried a variety of different flavors, from spicy to savory to sweet, using different cheeses, different liquids and different dippers and you really can’t go wrong.

cheddar fondue with soft pretzels

Cheddar Cider Fondue With Pretzel Bites

This cheddar fondue is made with a mix of Natural & Kosher cheddar and Monterrey Jack.  I used hard apple cider as the liquid, but you can easily use apple juice, sparkling wine or beer.  Our favorite dippers were homemade soft pretzels and lightly steamed broccoli, so you get the perfect crunch.


Pesto Fondue With Polenta Cubes

My pesto fondue was made using a blend of Mozzarella, Muenster and Fontina, once the cheese had melted and startled to bubble, I swirled in a Spinach Walnut Pesto.  I made some crispy polenta squares to dip and roasted artichoke bottoms, mushrooms and cauliflower.


Dill Havarti Fondue

The Dill Havarti fondue was equally delicious with oven-roasted fingerling potatoes.  To make a fondue you just need a bit of liquid, some cornstarch to thicken the base and lots of cheese.  When hot and gooey, take it to the table and set on a trivet or special warming rack with asterno light to keep the cheese melty.  If you don’t have a fondue pot, go out and buy one today and share some of your tremendous cheese recipes with us here at Joy of Kosher!

***Giveaway*** Or, maybe you will be our lucky winner.  Now is your chance to get this Emile Henry Fondue Pot.  Enter now with Rafflecopter below.
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This post was part of an ongoing partnership with Natural & Kosher Cheese and the prize is supplied by Emile Henry.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Shabbat Menu – Eating The Clouds


February 23rd 2014

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Finally, the Mishkan has been built and Aaron and his sons officially are anointed priests.  A cloud appears over the Mishkan to signify the divine presence.  To celebrate the completion of the Mishkan and the second book of the Torah we will rejoice with a cloud like dessert, Meringues.  You can make cookies, pavlova, pies or this amazing creation, the Baked Alaska!

wild rice chicken soup

Wild Rice Chicken Soup


Herb-Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

Herb-Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

Roasted Almond Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Almond Sweet Potatoes

Kale Squared

Kale Squared


baked alaska

Non Dairy Baked Alaska

Shabbat Parsha Pekudei.


Recipe Ideas For Your Mishloach Manot


February 21st 2014

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It is less than a month until Purim and time to get planning.  Every year we work to come up with new costumes, new hamantashen recipes, and new Seudah themes.  We also love to put together the perfect gift baskets to send our friends, from using recyclables to make our containers to Healthy Themed Mishloach Manot there is always something new to try.  Here are some homemade treats to include in your baskets this year.


Instead of going with desserts, consider including portable real food!!

sweet potato knishes

Sweet Potato Knishes

Make your own knishes, use any filling you want, they can be eaten hot or cold and everyone loves them.

quinoa stuffed grape leaves

Quinoa Stuffed Grape Leaves

Grape leaves would be a perfect part of a Mediterranean basket.  Send along with Jamie’s Tricolor Hummus and Pita crisps.

date bbq sauce

Date BBQ Sauce

Make a homemade BBQ sauce or Ketchup and send along with some Chicken Skewers.

Mixed Pickled Vegetables

Mixed Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables are very popular right now and they go really well with cocktails.  Make your own and send them along with your Mishloach Manot this year.

pretzel wrapped brats

Pretzel Wrapped Bratwurst with Cider Braised Onions

Instead of just making soft pretzels, wrap the dough around Bratwurst and send with your favorite mustard.


Send along delicious Greek yogurt with your own Homemade Granola.

honey comb chocolate bar

Honey Comb Chocolate Bar Crunchies

Make your own candy, like this crunchy chocolate bar.



Browse through all our Hamantashen recipes and choose one or a few to try this year.

Peanut Chews Cookies

Instead of just giving candy bars, make cookies with candy bars inside them!

Mask Cake Pops

Mask Cake Pops

Make your own cake pops in the shape of masks!!

Mini Pizza Doughnuts

Mini Pizza Doughnuts

Not sure where these Mini Pizza Doughnuts belong on the list, but I had to include them, really amazing!!  Also, note anything mini is great, what are you planning?

Click here for Gluten free baked goods and mishloach manot ideas.

Once you have all your homemade treats ready, get a little help from the store to round out your baskets, Oh! Nuts is offering you 5% off right now with coupon code: JOKP, check out all the color coded candies and mishloach manot supplies here.


A New Look at Rye


February 21st 2014

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Some foods leave an indelible imprint on your taste buds, no matter how old you are when you taste them. The flavors that grab you as a child not only remain, they often, later in life propel food quests. One of my searches is for great rye. If you grew up eating Wall Bakery’s breads from Woodmere, like I did, you know why. True, the bread from other bakeries—Cedarhurst Bake Shop, or Zomick in Far Rockaway was also very good, excellent really, but Wall’s bread stood alone. It has a crust both crunchy and pliable while the inside is plush, heavy and always moist. It’s what I think of when I hear the phrase “the staff of life”–bread so sustaining I believed I could live on bread alone.

There was a second type of rye at those bakeries called corn bread. Now, this is not my mother’s corn bread. She grew up south of the Mason Dixon line and hers was a quick bread, basically corn muffins in a pan. Old world corn was rye with light rye flour and cornmeal and the one thing both rye’s have in common is simple. No matter how many culinary degrees I get, no matter how many bakers I ask, no matter how many pizza stones I use, sourdough starters I nurture, or the amount water I schpritz while it cooks, darn it, I cannot replicate either of these breads at home.

I decided recently to create a dish to feed my rye flavor need. Fortunately rye, a hard winter cereal that is just as apt to be used for a ground cover crop or cattle feed, is now available in it’s whole grain, full berry form thanks to the 21st century food revolution that has made ancient grains available again.

Today’s rye (secale cereale) originated as an Anatolian weed. It was probably cultivated in northern and central European by the Early Neolithic period. Popular in the Bronze and Iron ages, as a beer component, bread flour and forage cover for animals, it is still used for the same things today. Light rye and dark are the same grain, the equivalent of white flour and whole wheat where the outer bran husk is removed from the grain. The berries are the whole grain in it’s purest, edible form. Rye was initially the food of the elite, but quickly slid behind all processed white wheat flours. Drought resistant and temperature tolerant, rye continues to be a popular grain especially in Northern climates.

When I saw some rye berries in a bulk bin at the market I couldn’t wait to get home and play. I’ve added it to soup the way you might use barley, and I love it in salads, especially mixed with wheat berries because the combo tastes like my childhood rye bread. In summer I add fresh raw corn right off the cob for the quick pop of sweetness when you break into a kernel. Add some cut up ripe, juicy tomatoes and serve it in lettuce cups, Asian style for a summer treat. These salads are my modern, lets say neo-Yiddishkite, cornbread and rye breads.

I’ll never stop trying to make a perfect rye bread, but until that happens I satisfy my taste buds and nourish my memories, knowing it’s also healthy for my family. To me, that’s not just a recipe for now, that’s a recipe wow.

Click here to get the full recipe for my Rye Berry and Swiss Salad with Mustard Tarragon and Caraway Dressing




Gluten Free Purim Treats


February 20th 2014

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On the holiday of Purim we eat hamantashen and send baskets of goodies to our friends and families.  This has become much more difficult in the age of allergies that we are living in.  Most often the baskets are filled with fresh baked goods, luckily the gluten free options have come a long way and we have a slew of amazing Gluten Free Treats for you to include in your mishloach manot this year.  All the recipes can be found by clicking on the images.


Pumpkin Apple Butter Gluten Free Rugelach

Did you love rugelach when you could eat gluten? Now’s your chance to rediscover your favorite food, this time gluten free from Lisa, the women who will not leave any Jewish baked good behind, this time with a pumpkin filing.

gluten free CheeseCrackers

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cheesy Sandwich Crackers

For something truly unique try these cheese crackers filled with peanut butter.  Perfect for munching while out delivering your baskets all day.

Truffle Rosemary Popcorn

Truffle Rosemary Popcorn

If you don’t want to bother with all the gluten free flour mixes, stick with the naturally gluten free treats, like popcorn.  Dress it up with Truffles and Rosemary or your favorite flavors.

Maple Roasted Almonds

Maple Roasted Almonds

Prepare these flavorful almonds and place in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon, everyone loves the smoky sweet taste they offer.


Candied Orange Peel

Make your own candied orange peel (or lemon or grapefruit).  It is gluten free, easy and filled with fiber.

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

If you use a gluten free crisped rice cereal you can make your favorite treats of all!!

Cocoa Nib Brittle

Cocoa Nib Brittle

Brittle is a type of hard candy you can make at home with nuts or in this case cocoa nibs.  Crack it into pieces and enjoy this grown up candy.

Toblerone Marshmallows

Toblerone Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are fun treat to send along with a hot chocolate packet and a mug, especially if this Winter continues on.

gluten free hamantashen

Gluten Free Hamantashen

Don’t miss out on hamantashen, just cause you can’t tolerate gluten. Our friend Shoshana has perfected this recipe just for you.
There are so many ideas for Mishloach Manot that can be gluten free, like chips and salsa or our Sushi and Miso combo.


Winter Comfort Food


February 20th 2014

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Never has there been a winter in need of comfort food as this one.  The freezing cold, the snowy days, all we need is some warmth in the kitchen and in our tummies.  Check out these gourmet comfort food recipes for every night of the week.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shanks

Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet and Savory Caponata served with Toasted Almond and Black Currant Couscous

This is one of my favorite dishes because of the braising technique. The shank, a less desirable and inexpensive cut of the lamb, is slowly tenderized with deep fl avors from the caponata.  The vegetables are cooked down very slowly, which allows all of the natural sweetness to be released. When combined with the brininess of the olives and the woodsy flavors of the rosemary, this dish becomes extremely balanced.

Butternut Squash & Leek Tortellini

Butternut Squash & Leek Tortellini

Butternut Squash and Leek Tortelini with Sage and Parmesan

I am completely obsessed with all pasta dishes. I love the simplicity that allows bold flavors to be on the forefront. The puree made from roasted butternut squash and leeks can be very rich, but is perfectly balanced with the acid from the lemon. I have made this dish kosher by eliminating the pancetta.  however, a good quality sea salt used with roasting the squash can achieve the same sweet and salty result.

Caramelized Turnips and Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Turnips and Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Turnips and Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Chestnuts

Turnips are one of my favorite vegetables, and they are very popular during the winter months. I believe that caramelizing them with light brown sugar is the best way to bring out their sweetness. Roasting the Brussels sprouts is the best way to keep them al dente. Finally, roasting the chestnuts with a high quality olive oil provides the depth of flavor that bacon would provide, and the dish remains kosher!

More comfort found in the original article with recipes for Lemon & Rosemary Grilled Seabass, Warm Cardamom Spiced Pear and Quince Crisp, and Roasted Vegetables.

by Jason Cohen as seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Late Winter 2014) – Subscribe Now

Jason Cohen graduated from the Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts with degrees in Culinary Arts and Foodservice Management, after receiving a scholarship by placing 5th in a national culinary competition. With a focus on mastering technique, he
has developed an overwhelming respect for ingredients, and has traveled across the country to partake in culinary events. His true passion, however, goes right back to his childhood roots when he watched his grandparents cooking traditional kosher dishes from scratch. While visiting Israel on the Taglit Birthright program, he fell in love with the land, and as his spiritual journey is evolving, has focused on making current gourmet dishes kosher. Jason shares his favorite winter dishes re-created in a kosher style, demonstrating that non-kosher flavors are not necessary to accomplish delicious, simple, yet gourmet results.





Make Your Own Korean Bimbimbop


February 19th 2014

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BimBimBop is a delicious and beautiful Korean dish for both the eyes and the mouth. The literal translation means “bowl of rice” and utilizes many flavorful and colorful vegetables and proteins to create a filling and satisfying meal with everyday items from the fridge. It can be served either hot or cold and an egg is cracked on top to give the dish depth and creaminess.

Traditionally, bimbimbop is made in a clay pot and heated till the bottom layer of the rice becomes crispy. I wanted to get that same affect, so I heated up the already made rice in a hot wok until it became crispy. I then added the rest of already prepared and cooked vegetables and meat, cracked an egg on top and had one of the best meals I have ever eaten!

While I was making bimbimbop, I took cues from my husband whose influence in the kitchen is Asian inspired and has had bimbimbop in the past multiple times. When he said it tasted amazing and authentic, I knew I had hit the jackpot!

Here’s my recipe for bimbimbop without using a clay pot.



20 Unique Hamantashen Recipes


February 19th 2014

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During a leap year, when there are two Adars, it is said to be a time of increased simcha.  This extra month is a blessing and is giving me time to increase my simcha before Purim.  It also has given me more time to think about Hamantashen, those amazing litte hat-shaped cookies and all of the flavors I can fill them with.


The first five recipes are “out-of-the-box” hamantashen.  It’s nice to change things up and serve a few unique, and surprising hamantashen in addition to classic flavors that we all love.


1.  Pareve Cinammon Dulce de Leche Hamantashen.  I love this recipe because it reminds me of my favorite ice cream flavor.

Pareve Cinnamon Dulce De Leche Hamantashen


2. Cranberry and White Chocolate Hamentashen.  The cranberry and white chocolate hits the right balance of sweet, but not overly sweet.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Hamentashen Recipe


3.  Cardamom Scented Hamantashen with Pear and Goat Cheese Filling.  These are like a meal in a hamantash.  I love how the cardamom reminds me of the middle east.

Cardamom Scented Hamantaschen with Goat Cheese and Pear Filling


4.  Gingerbread Hamantaschen with Spiced Apple Filling.  These flavors are deep and comforting.

Gingerbread Hamantaschen with Spiced Apple Filling


While any cookie-centric holiday is sure to be a hit with the kids, these five hamantashen recipes are especially kid-friendly, although I’m sure more than a few adults will be grabbing these off the kids table.


5.  Lemon Hamentaschen.  These Hamentaschen aren’t tart, but the bright flavors are sweet and kid-friendly.

Lemon Hamentaschen


6.  Peanut Butter and Jelly Hamentaschen.  Who can deny this all-time favorite?  If you don’t like peanut butter, or have an allergy, try substituting any of your favorite nut butters.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Hamentaschen


7.  Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen Dough.  Mix and match fillings, try chocolate, caramel, nut butters, or jams.

Chocolate Chip Hamantashen Dough


8.  Hamantaschen Truffle Pops.  These are an adorable way to serve hamantaschen!

Hamantashen Truffle Pops


9.  Double Chocolate Hamantashen.  If your kids love chocolate, then this is might be their new favorite hamantash flavor!

Double Chocolate Hamantashen


10.  Chocolate Mousse Filling.  Chocolate filling is amazing, but chocolate mousse adds a lightness that we don’t always expect from hamantashen.  This filling also works in pie pops.

Pie Pops


There are many ways to customize your hamantashen, but these five fillings are a mix of classic fruit preserves and decadent fillings.


11. Date-Nut Filling.  This filling is very reminiscent of the flavors of Persia.  Date-Nut Filling


12.  Rosewater-Almond Filling.  Talk about out-of-the-box!  These are delicious and really stand-out.

Rosewater-Almond Filling


13.  Chocolate Sauce Filling.  I love chocolate, even more so when it’s inside a hamantash.

Chocolate Sauce


14.  Poppy Seed Filling.  This is a classic flavor, you can never go wrong with poppy seed.

Poppy Seed Filling


15.  Apricot Filling.   This is my family’s favorite flavor.  We love brightness of the apricot in contrast to the hamantash’s texture.

Apricot Filling


I like to call these “pie-inspired” hamantashen because their fillings remind me of classic pie flavors. While the  wild-blueberry  and lemon meringue fillings remind me of summer, and gives me hope that this polar vortex of a winter will eventually end, the pecan pie, pumpkin and cinnamon apple hamantashen are warm, and comforting.


16.  Pumpkin Whole Wheat Hamantashen.  The whole wheat dough is a nice change and it tastes great with the pumpkin filling.

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Hamantashen


17. Pecan Pie Hamentashen.  The crunch of the pecans plays well with the texture of the hamantashen.

Pecan Pie Hamentashen


18.  Cinnamon Apple Hamantashen + Apple Pie Filling.  It’s like your own hand-held, mini apple pie.

Cinnamon Apple Hamantashen


19.  Lemon Meringue Hamantaschen.  The lemon meringue filling makes these hamantaschen very creamy and decadent.

Lemong Meringue Hamantaschen


20.  Wild Blueberry Filling + Buttery Hamantaschen Dough.  When I think of fruit preserves as fillings, I usually think of raspberry and apricot.  The wild blueberry is so bright and refreshing.

Buttery Hamantashen Dough

Browse through all our Hamantashen recipes here.




In The JOK Kitchen With Eating The Bible *Giveaway...


February 18th 2014

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Rena Rossner was inspired about ten years ago while eating a hot bowl of red lentil soup.  That fateful soup began a journey for Rena that culminated in her first cookbook, Eating the Bible.  Eating the Bible takes us through the weekly Torah portions with quoted verses and a little bit of commentary that connects us to a recipe.  Rena find connections similar to the way I do in our Shabbat Menus and I had fun going through and finding new ideas I had never thought of before.  I also love the way Rena explains her connections going into just the right amount of detail and adding alternative recipes options as well as questions to help keep the conversation moving from cooking to table. Let’s learn a bit more about Rena and preview a few recipes here:

The red lentil soup served to you the same week we read about the one Esau sold for his birthright inspired your journey.   What else inspired you through the whole process?

Well, first, I think that creating these recipes gave me a reason to read the Bible/Torah much more closely. My husband was always reading and learning and connecting to the Torah every week, and this gave me a reason to spend as much time, if not more time, analyzing the texts. But I was doing it in a way that was interesting to me, and I was looking for something completely different – not erudition, but rather, nutrition! It was fascinating not just to see how food played a part in people’s lives in Ancient times, but also which food items were critical to their lives and which types of food played (often a really important part!) in these stories.

Did you always think you would write a cookbook?

No. Never. I love food and I love cooking and baking. My mother is an amazing cook and baker, and so was my grandmother, and I grew up cooking at their elbows, but I never thought that what I did was different or special enough to warrant a cookbook. When I got married and finally had a kitchen of my own I got tons of cookbooks for my bridal shower and I started creating elaborate menus and trying recipes I’d never had the opportunity to try before. Creating a meal for me became something like an artform. I didn’t realize then that as I worked my way through nearly every recipe in these books that I was actually taking everything to the next level.

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

What is your earliest memory of cooking?

Wow. That’s a good question! I think it must be watching my mom make birthday cakes. My mom is an amazing cake decorator, and for every birthday she always made something fabulous. I learned to decorate cakes just by watching her, and I remember every cake she ever made for me. I think something in that speaks to what I’m trying to do with EATING THE BIBLE. Why do I remember those birthday cakes? Because they were tactile memories. And I want EATING THE BIBLE to create those memories for everyone, so that people don’t just have tactile memories that they associate with holidays (think Turkey=Thanksgiving,) but also tactile memories of the Bible. How cool would that be if your mouth watered every time you read your favorite Bible stories? That’s what I want to do. To make it come alive.

Did you find that your study of Torah was enhanced when you looked at it with this food lens?

Yes, absolutely. It was a way for me to connect with the texts in my own way – to bring the stories alive in a way that spoke to all of my senses. Also, from a historical/academic perspective one of the things that was most fascinating to me was creating the index of food items mentioned in the Bible that’s found at the back of the book. What I discovered was amazing – the Bible can also be a blueprint for healthy eating! Wheat was surprisingly a mainstay of the Biblical diet, goat’s milk (which is supposed to be healthier for you that cow’s milk,) dates, olives, figs, and very little meat. Meat only on special occasions. It’s really very interesting if you think about it.

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

How do you expect/want your readers to enjoy your book?

I’d love people to use my cookbook to enhance their weekly tables and to help them bring meaning to their meals. I’d be even more excited if people loved my recipes so much that they returned to my cookbook to make the recipes again and again, just because they taste good!

Now that it is out there, have you thought about writing any other cookbooks?

Oh, well that is the big question! I have enough recipes from all my weekly columns to put out a second cookbook (Eating the Bible Revisited?) and many of my friends joke around with me about it giving new suggestions: Drinking with the Prophets? Eating Ecclesiastes? But in all seriousness I think it would be fascinating to take a look at the Prophets or at the Song of Songs. There’s lots of rich language in there and I think it would be a poetic and culinary challenge. Who knows. We’ll see!

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Which was more difficult for you, creating the recipes or finding a connection to the parsha?

Definitely finding the connection. Some weeks were super easy. I could write an entire cookbook just about certain chapters – Genesis alone has enough for hundreds of recipes. I actually thought Leviticus would be the hardest when I first started doing this, I thought it would be all meat from the sacrifices, but it was easy! So many of the sacrifices involved grain and oil and spices that it wasn’t a challenge at all. Deuteronomy was actually the most challenging – there were many chapters there that had absolutely no connection to food and I admit that sometimes it was a stretch.

Are all the recipes easy to make and good for Shabbat?

Most of them, yes. One of my main goals in creating this cookbook and these recipes was to make things that I myself would make easily and be able to bring to my table. But, because I know that not everyone finds cooking and baking as easy as I do, I also added “Alternatives” in a sidebar that give “quick and easy” ideas so that everyone, no matter what experience they have in the kitchen, can find a way to bring more meaning to their meals and help bring the Torah/Weekly Portion to life. Admittedly there are one or two recipes that are quite involved – The Gingerbread Tabernacle is a prime example, but I think every cookbook needs one or two challenge recipes in it, don’t you?


Thanks to Rena for sharing these recipes and insight into her and her book.  Now’s your chance to win a copy!!  In the comments below, let us know what is your favorite bible story?

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The Lava Lamp Cocktail Link Up


February 17th 2014

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If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a lava lamp is a visit to Spencer’s at your local mall or a blissed out night during college listening to psychedelic music, you’re probably not alone, but I’m here to tell you there’s a little more to the Lava Lamp than all that.

I was inspired by a friend’s recent story about a Lava Lamp cocktail and I was able to create a fun at home version that you can enjoy with or without alcohol, so it’s a perfect party drink whether you’re having some friends over or stuck at home with the kids.

Start with some homemade cranberry simple syrup, it’s easier than you think! Cranberries impart a natural, bright red color to the sugar syrup. There is no discernible tartness, just a refreshing cranberry infused sweetness. For the kids, pour a little bit of the cranberry simple syrup into a clear glass of unflavored seltzer with a few dried cranberries and watch in amazement as the dried cranberries float around just like a lava lamp! The Lava Lamp Cocktail is a fraction of the calories of any store-bought soda and a lot more fun to stare at for hours.

For grownups looking for a creative, easy to assemble cocktail, adding cranberry simple syrup to a sparkling wine or bubbly moscato will produce the same circa-1970s visual effects.

Somebody turn up the eight-track, I think I hear the Grateful Dead playing in the background.



Bread Making Kitchen Tools


February 14th 2014

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I have fully hopped on the no knead bread bandwagon and my family loves it.  I make the best, tastiest and cheapest bread at least once a week that tastes like it comes from a baker and it only takes about 10 minutes active time.  Read about my experiences and get my favorite no knead bread recipes here.

In addition to the various no knead breads that I make, once in a while I still take time out for Challah.  Whatever kind of bread you are making the right kitchen gadgets can make it easier and better for you.

For the no knead breads you really need a nice Dutch Oven, I really like using this one from Emile Henry. I also have their Bread Clochle which is meant to make breads in, but haven’t had as much success with it and I don’t really have space for so many different pots, I would rather have one that can do more.

Before getting into no knead bread I really enjoyed the bread machine.  It was no mess, no fuss and you can come home to a fresh bread every day.  You can use it just to knead for you or you can have it bake the whole thing, I like that this bread machine from Panasonic has a separate yeast dispenser and makes up to a 2 1/2 pound loaf.

This is a Bread Proofer, a special place to rise and fermetn your dough.  I have always wanted to try one of these and it even folds up, so you don’t have to worry about finding space to keep it. It also doubles as a yogurt maker and can be used to temper chocolate.  I am very intrigued by this machine, have you tried it?

Now that you have your bread you have to store it and keep it fresh.  Get a nice looking bread box, like this one to store all your baked goods.

For all your bread baking you need a nice extra large bowl, especially if you like making challah with 5 lbs of flour or if you do like me and make a huge batch of pita dough and then make some fresh every couple of days. This bowl  can hold up to 10 Liters and always works for me to keep out the mess.

For the challah baking days you can try out this challah pan for perfect shape every time.  They also have one in a tin.

One last fun tool is this Challah dough cover.  It is designed to fit neatly around a huge round bowl so it can be used for any of your bread making.

What bread baking tools do you find helpful?



Celebrating Memories – Chicken Paprikash...


February 14th 2014

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He was a holocaust survivor. He was a husband. He was a father. He was a Zaide. He was our hero. Alex Lebovic, my father-in-law, just recently passed away. No words can really express the emotion we feel as a dear one passes on to the next world. We perhaps handle it with grace, strength, overwhelming sadness, humor, denial, guilt, or perhaps with a degree of stoicism. For me, my face, my actions, my words are mere cover-ups to the way I really feel. My father in law was a lot of things, yet writing them on paper or expressing them verbally seems to diminish everything he was. And because of that, for me, I need to celebrate and honor his memory.

In today’s world, Judaism perhaps is just as much a religion as it is a culture. And food is a huge part of that culture. It is quite unlikely that you would find gefilte fish, schmaltz, cholent, gribenes or even potato kugel, outside the Jewish home. Our many holidays are laden with yummy and traditional foods.  Food for my father-in-law, meant being alive. Being a survivor of such notorious concentration camps as, Auschwitz and Dachau where food was scarce, if at all, gave my father-in-law a longing for the dishes he grew up on.

According to Wikipedia, chicken paprikash is a dish of Hungarian origin and one of the most famous Hungarian stews. Chicken paprikash was my father–in-laws favorite meal.

Chicken Paprikash

I hadn’t made chicken paprikash in about 6 years being that my daughter is on a gluten free diet and my husband is a vegetarian. Yet, this past Friday night for Shabbat dinner I decided to make it and it was amazing! A one-pot meal from the old country. There is much to remember about my father-in-law, but every once in awhile remembering the food he loved allows us to smile and celebrate his memory.

Click here for the full Chicken Paprikash recipe.

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Romantic Dinner For Two


February 13th 2014

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It has been a cold snowy winter for most of us.  Everyone is staying home more than usual.  The silver lining is finding the perfect menu to make a romantic dinner for two.  Whatever the occasion, a first date, a first anniversary or just a night without any kids here is a heart warming menu that can be served on a table filled with roses and candles.

Creamy Hot Tomato Soup

Creamy Hot Tomato Soup

Start the night by warming up to a hot bowl of creamy tomato soup.  A little bit of spicy chile peppers will stimulate your endorphins (feel good chemicals) and red is the color of love.

Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips

Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips

Nothing says “I love you” like a perfectly grilled steak, keep it simple and serve with these crispy parsnip chips and a simple lightly dressed salad.

Non Dairy Chocolate Fondue

Keep the night going with a sweet non dairy chocolate fondue.  Dip your favorite fruits, marshmallows, cookies and just have fun with it.

If you are looking for  someone special to share your dinner, our friends at JDATE are launching a new campaign, Get Chosen, to hep remind us of all the cultural reasons to meet other Jewish people.   Whether it’s finding someone who shares your love of gefilte fish, who is just as excited as you are to spend Christmas at a Chinese restaurant or who holds memories of sleepaway camp just as close to their heart, JDeal is helping to strengthen the Jewish community.

What other Jewish cultural connections do you think are important for new relationships?