A Brunch Hanukkah Party Menu


November 13th 2013

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We have shared tons of recipes for Hanukkah, new recipes for Thanksgivukkah and tons of Hanukkah menus and table ideas.  The other day, someone on facebook asked for menu ideas for a day time party.  She said they were having a family get together the Sunday after Thanksgiving and were going to be having lunch, what did we suggest.  I realized that we never shared a menu for people to use during the day.  Most people stay together for a Hanukkah party so they can light candles together, but that doesn’t work for everyone and some people need to get their kids home and to bed early (I remember those days).  Some people might even call everyone over for a lunch and then family can stay through to light candles and still get home for dinner.   So, let’s thank our Facebook friend for reminding me to share this menu.  My feeling is that most of the daytime parties will be on Sunday, which means brunch goes all day.  And since latkes are always in order, a brunch menu is perfect.  Latkes go so well with eggs and/or smoked salmon, the possibilities are endless.

Honestly, I can’t decide, so here are a couple options…

Menu 1

This is a latin inspired meal combining the influences of Spain and Mexico, I would lay out a platter of tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole.  Maybe some plantain chips if desired and if you can even add on cheese or fake meat empanadas if desired.  Then serve..

Potato Pancakes with Guacamole and Poached Eggs

Potato Pancakes with Guacamole and Poached Eggs

Tilapia Ceviche with Mango

Tilapia Ceviche with Mango

Cucumber And Black Bean Salsa Salad

Cucumber And Black Bean Salsa Salad

Don’t leave out the festive drink – this one can be made without alcohol too.

Sparkling Mango Strawberry Sangria

Sparkling Mango Strawberry Sangria

And for a twist on traditional doughnuts, try the Churro.


Churros with Chocolate Dip

Menu 2

This menu is a more classic brunch stepped up a bit.  You could easily just serve your favorite potato latke with smoked salmon on top.  If you haven’t had it before, you will wonder what took you so long.  For this menu you could leave out a platter of crudites, some nice vegetables with dip, like this Blue Cheese Dip.  Maybe some olives and pickles too or even a hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip with french bread.

Herb Potato Fritters with Smoked Atlantic Salmon & Watercress

Herb Potato Fritters with Smoked Atlantic Salmon & Watercress


Egg White Frittata with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Mushrooms

Go with a simple mimosa for the beverage of choice with this meal.



Make sure to put on a rich pot of coffee and serve with these sweet doughnuts.

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Have a very happy Hanukkah!!!




Day in Jerusalem – Hanukkagiving


November 13th 2013

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A new phrase has been “coined” this year “Thanksgivukkah” as a way of describing the rare occurrence of Hanukka and Thanksgiving falling out on the same weekend. Considering that Hanukka begins first and lasts longer, I have decided to refer to it as Hanukkagiving.  So you might think this would have been a great time to post about Volunteer Opportunities and ways to “give” but we took care of that last month in our post called Volunteer Tourism.  The Thanksgiving activities in Jerusalem are scarce and the days of Norman’s Thanksgiving Feast on Emek Refaim are long gone so to celebrate Thanksgiving, I recommend a nice family turkey dinner at home.

Let’s focus on some unique ways to celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem.

How often are you given the opportunity to stand in the center of history? To experience a holiday in the exact location where the miracle originally occurred? It’s truly a privilege to be able to choose from a variety of activities in Jerusalem, as a way of celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. I’ve chosen to share my four favorite holiday activities.

Old City of Jerusalem

  • “Light Up The City Family Tour”:  This unique candle lit tour takes you through the Old City of Jerusalem. Follow the lights of the Hanukkiot lit in the streets, the windows and most beautifully within the stone walls of the alleyways in the Old City. This family focused tour entertains kids and adults with stories, puzzles and riddles about the Old City and the history of this miraculous holiday. The grand finale of the tour is a view of the Kotel “Western Wall” with the large Hanukkiah lit on the Kotel Plaza.

Reservations: info@funinjerusalem.com


Israel Museum

The overwhelming beauty of the Jewish Art & Life Gallery at the Israel Museum takes on a special meaning during Hanukkah. My favorite exhibit is the one room devoted to Hanukkiot from different time periods and different communities.

  • SketchBook Tour of the Israel Museum: I love to make things interactive when it comes to entertaining the family. I would suggest taking a Sketchbook Tour in this special gallery led by Polly, a Fulbright Scholar and artist. Polly teaches kids and adults to look for the details, find the pieces that inspire them and then to capture that inspiration in their own sketchbooks. Reservations: sketchbook@funinjerusalem.com

Jerusalem’s Diverse Neighborhoods One of the beauties of Jerusalem is the diversity of her inhabitants. As you walk down the block, the neighborhoods change, the communities differ and the people can tell you a different story. Jerusalem’s inhabitants love to share and the stories are worth hearing especially when you can learn about Jews from different backgrounds and how we all celebrate the same holidays with our own spices and flavors.

  • Mekor Baruch Home Encounter: Join locals and tourists as you are led around one of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods. You will be welcomed into Ahuva’s home for coffee, tea and cookies as she explains to you about the Haredi lifestyle specifically for Hasidim from Gur, what it is like to live in her neighborhood and how she became the “Savta Cholent Champion” of Jerusalem. The tour ends with a Challah Baking workshop led by Ahuva, including some great Hanukka ideas for challah shapes.
  • Ein Kerem Home Encounter: Experience Yemenite hospitality when Kinneret invites you into her home; the home where her family has lived since 1948. Learn about her unique Yemenite culture and the story of her Saba Shalom who bravely convinced his family to settle in Ein Kerem. Kinneret will share special Hanukka memories with you. The tour includes Yemenite music and dance as well as a tour of the local artists in the beautiful neighborhood of Ein Kerem.         Reservations: Encounters@funinjerusalem.com

Gourmet Sufganiyot When suggesting my favorite Hanukkah activities to do in Jerusalem, I have saved the best one for last or at least the sweetest one. For kids (and adults like me who are willing to admit it) one of the highlights of the Hanukkah season is when the Roladin Bakery announces its sufganiyot menu. Roladin, a chain of high end bakeries throughout Israel, prides itself on its unique flavors and I have included the menu below and some pictures which can speak louder than words. Yes its worth planning your next trip to Israel for Hanukkah!

Traditional Flavors

  • Traditional Strawberry
  • Traditional Caramel

Gourmet Collection

  • Belgian Chocolate & Cream
  • White Chocolate Caramel
  • Pistachio Cherry Mania
  • Chocolate Chocolate
  • Candy Covered Chocolate
  • Halva & White Chocolate
  • Biscuit: Oreo Streusel

Specialty Chasers: includes a chaser of alcohol inserted into the sufganiya

    • Malabi
    • Bianco Chocolate
    • Praline

Stay tuned for next month’s Day in Jerusalem…”Entertaining the Teens”.



Thanksgiving Pie Fries


November 12th 2013

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner it is firmly pie season. Sure, I make pies all year round, but there is no one-day of the year that screams “pie” like Thanksgiving. (Ok, maybe March 14th does as well, but only among the slightly nerdy circles I run in.) The challenge of Thanksgiving pies for me is that people expect the traditional flavors, leaving me much less freedom to innovate and play around with the dessert than I usually have. It is rare for me to serve the same dessert twice for Shabbat or holidays, but for Thanksgiving people expect the classics.

That is what makes these pie fries so much fun. They have the traditional Thanksgiving pie flavors of pumpkin and cranberry apple served up in a fun new shape. I had seen apple versions of pie fries all over the web, so when I was given the challenge of turning them into more Thanksgiving like treats I jumped at the opportunity. Although they are baked and not really fried, pie “fries” are the perfect Thanksgivukkah treat.

Since I would never dream of serving French fries without some kind of dipping sauce, it was clear that these fries needed a sweet dipping sauce of their own. I always serve cinnamon ice cream with my Thanksgiving pies so I decided to use that same flavor paring here. This creamy and slightly spicy pastry cream is the perfect dip for the pie fries, if you can keep yourself from just eating it with a spoon.

Click through these links for the full recipes for:

Pumpkin Pie Fries

Cranberry Apple Pie Fries

Cinnamon Pastry Cream


How My Creamy Baked Ziti Saved the Day


November 12th 2013

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It’s easy when you live in Israel to forget.  Halloween came and went without a word.  It’s November 7th and a warm 81 degrees F, gone are the long New York winters.  And Sandy – while big news here last year, was not commemorated in any major way at the one-year anniversary mark.

But while in New York 2 weeks ago – it was impossible to forget.  News programs were flooded with “1 Year Later” stories, specials and features.  And everywhere you went someone told their tale.  Tamar and I were out to dinner with our dear friend – Brigitte Mizrahi, the fabulous French woman behind the Natural & Kosher, Les Petites Fermieres, and Sincerely Brigitte line of cheeses.  Her story was intense and inspiring and shocking even one year later.

As we were walking around Kosherfest we were stopped by a bunch of great gals from Jersey – one of them grabbed me and said “do I have a story for you.”  I wasn’t expecting a Sandy story from a perfect stranger on the floor of the largest industry trade show.  But like I said everywhere you went someone had something to share.

Here we are with the Great Gals from Jersey.

Susan told me that together with her neighborhood friends she made 30+ trays of my Creamy Baked Ziti for an uplifting Thanksgiving day lunch held for residents of Union Beach hit by Super Storm Sandy.  I couldn’t believe it – I was so unbelievably touched.  She kept saying “your ziti Jamie!  Your ziti!”.

When you write a recipe you think about lots of things.  Is it easy?  Is it fast? Is it good?  Is it good enough? Is it kid food? Adult food? Family food? Dinner food? Can it be made ahead?  Does it freeze well?  How long will it stay fresh?  Does it need special instructions for re-heating?  And on and on and on.  You never think “can this be made times 30 and served as a hot meal to lift the spirits of someone who has lost and somehow foster a sense of community spirit, strength and perseverance?”.

Make no mistake; I know my ziti didn’t do all that.  But to know that it was part of that effort – and helped Susan and her friends achieve those end goals made me feel this story was worth re-telling.  For no other reason than to share the message that the beautiful ripple effects of your actions and efforts both professionally and personally should never be underestimated.  We love to Spread the Joy here and you know what, Susan Spread the Joy right back when she told me this story.  Thank you Susan – in that moment I felt so happy and so special and so very thankful.

Please take a moment to share your uplifting Sandy stories or any Spread the Joy ideas.  I love to get the good vibes going.


In the JOK Kitchen with Chef David From The Prime...


November 11th 2013

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The Prime Grill is the premier kosher restaurant in New York.  In 2000, Joey Allaham, a Syrian Jewish immigrant born to a family of butchers, saw a gap in the marketplace for a kosher steakhouse that could rival the best steakhouses in New York City.  Opening in midtown Manhattan, Joey took a gamble that really paid off.  Hiring Chef David Kolotkin early, the two pioneers of upscale kosher cuisine brought kosher dining to a higher level.  With the publication of their first cookbook, we can now try to recreate some of their most popular recipes at home.  I probably need to get started on my dry-aging room…

The cookbook shares the personal stories of Joey and Chef David and what motivated them to create The Prime Grill.  There are pictures of the staff, kitchen and dining areas of the original Prime Grill restaurant space.  The Prime Grill moved to a new location just this year and I love the way this book pays homage to its recent past even as the restaurant team looks to its future.

Everyone at Joy of Kosher are big fans of Chef David Kolotkin and loved watching him compete with Chef Kami from Prime KO at our Holiday Chef Wars a few years ago.  We were lucky to be able to grab a few minutes with Chef David musing about the new cookbook and his experience at The Prime Grill.

corn and honey blinis with kosher caviar


How would you describe your cooking philosophy?

To make kosher food taste non kosher. :)

How has your culinary style changed from working at a kosher restaurant?

I like to cook American food with local seasonal ingredients.  I believe in using simple, high quality ingredients and making them taste great, the only thing that changed when I moved to a kosher restaurant was the mindset.  I still had a goal to make the best steak, not the best kosher steak.

Prime Grill Porcini Burgers

Prime Grill Porcini Burgers

What do you find to be the greatest challenge?

I have been doing this so long I am numb to the challenges of kosher.  The hardest part of my job is juggling the multiple location.  It is also challenging when we have events on Shabbat where everything has to be prepared ahead of time and don’t get me started on opening up after Shabbat. We have to choose dishes that will sit well or can be prepared and cooked quickly.

Are all the recipes in the book available at the restaurant?

We opened the new location with most of the recipes from the book. Some of them were on the menu before, but many are new or altered.  I have a smoked salmon fritter recipe in the book that I made at the old location, now I have a meat fryer so I have changed it to a beef bacon fritter.

Prime Grill Mustard and Garlic Confit Fillet

Mustard and Garlic Confit Fillet

When you are not behind the stove, what do you like to eat?

I love junk.  I love pizza and Chinese food. I don’t like fancy stuff, I think all this fusion food has just led to confusion.  I like to know what I am eating.

What is your earliest memory of cooking?

In the book I talked about how I was churning my own ice cream in the garage when I was 12, but even before that I used to go to my friends house to bake cookies.  My mom was a health nut and she never bought us things like that, so we would just make them.

When I was in 7th grade I switched schools and was able to choose classes, so I picked Home Ec, figured I would meet some nice girls and get to cook.  I ended up getting sick for a couple of weeks and when I returned they were sewing, switched to word working after that.  However, I did get to make one Chinese chicken dish that taught me about marinading.  Like so many great finds in cooking it happened by accident.  I prepared the dish with all the sauce and just before I was going to cook it, the bell rang, so I put it in the fridge and came back to cook it the next day.  It was so good that I went home and tried making it for my Father, but it wasn’t quite the same.  Only then did I realize that letting it sit overnight made all the difference.

Prime Grill Potato Cake

Potato Cake with Sweet Shallot Jam and Thyme

Here are a few recipes from the book as a preview:

Corn and Honey Blinis Topped with Bowfin Caviar

Porcini Mushroom Burgers

Mustard and Garlic Confit Filet

Potato Cake with Sweet Shallot Jam and Thyme


***Giveaway***  Thanks to Chef David for talking with us and for giving us a book for one of you to win!!!  All you have to do is leave a comment below and enter with the rafflecopter options for your chance to win in The Prime Grill Cookbook Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Joy of Israel – Holy City of Hebron and...


November 8th 2013

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You have been asking, you have been patiently waiting and now here it is.

With gratitude to G-d, my production partners at 12 Tribe Films and Chizuk Now we present Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller Episode #3: Hebron and the Southern Hebron Hills.

For a behind-the-scenes look at how this episode came to be, read on.

I had been to Israel about 10 times before making aliyah.  And I lived here for over a year before making my way to Hebron for the first time in my entire life.  For whatever reason it was just never on the itinerary of the synagogue trip, school sponsored semester abroad or mission I was part of.

When Chizuk Now contacted us about sponsoring this 3rd episode of Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller they had only one mission.  They tasked us with filming a food and travel show set in Hebron to ensure this sacred city is both top of mind and a destination place for every tourist and resident of Israel.

Well I wasn’t sure what to do.  I mean I had never been to the place, didn’t know what to expect.  I began my research by taking my family on a tour with the famed Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum.  He is known as Mr. Hebron.  Literally everyone I called and spoke to said one name Rav Simcha and since all roads led to Rav Simcha I signed up for his weekly tour sponsored by the Hebron Fund.

The Hebron Fund raises money for the improvement of daily life of the approximately 90 families living in Hebron, it is because of the incredible sacrifice and determination of these 90 families that we are able to freely visit this 2nd holiest city in the world.

The Fund’s support extends to funding for all parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, after-school programs, libraries, and summer youth activities; as well as sponsorship of public cultural and educational events in Hebron. In addition the Fund aids the maintenance and development of the synagogues in the Machpela Cave, the ancient Avraham Avinu Synagogue and other religious institutions in the area.

The hope of both the Hebron Fund and our video is to revive and expand the ancient Jewish custom of pilgrimage to this holy site.

Our tour with Rav Simcha was otherworldly.  We were moved to tears in prayer and awe as he spoke about the past, present, and future of this small piece of real estate, the first piece of real estate bought by Abraham in Israel.

Hebron is intense and I have experienced my most incredible prayers since moving here at MaArat HaMachpela, The Tomb of the Patriarchs.

So it was clear that the sacred site, the MaArah would be the travel destination of our show, but what of the food?  Hebron has a lovely little pizza shop where I enjoyed one of the BIGGEST and best cheese bourekas (my absolute weakness) but it felt like an insult to the holy city to hold a recipe tutorial in the shadow of the MaArah.

So I spent a day with my new and dear friend Eve Harrow a licensed Israeli Tour Guide who took me deep into the Southern Hills of Hebron on a scouting trip.

Listening to Eve was like listening to the most knowledgeable friend.  She delivered incredible amounts of information in the most warm and friendly manner and taught me things with the excitement of a school girl experiencing it for the first time yet with the knowledge of an accomplished historian.  Eve will show you parts of Israel you never knew existed.  She will take you off the beaten path and let you discover the hidden treasures of our home.

After no less than 3 locations and a briefing on many others Eve helped me settle on the culinary guests featured in this episode; Holy Cacao, an artisanal bean to bar chocolate factory situated just 20 minutes south of Hebron and makers of my new sweet obsession.

I now yearn for Hebron on a regular basis and have been back no less than 4 times in the last few months.  It’s magical, it’s special, it’s important.

Watch a little behind the scenes clip here:

Thank you Chizuk Now, Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, Rabbi Dan Rosensetin and The Hebron Fund, Eve Harow and Holy Cacao for sharing your time, knowledge, story and expertise in the making of this episode.

To Donate To Chizuk Now click here.

To Book a Tour of Hebron click here.

To Book a Tour with Eve Harow email eve.harow@gmail.com

To Order Holy Cacao Chocolate click here.


Let’s Have a Chanukah Party


November 8th 2013

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Hosting a Chanukah party?

We have 3 gourmet menus suggested by premiere caterer, Esprit Caterers.  Get some ideas, try some of the recipes and use them for your party.

heirloom tomato salad, sea bass ceviche cucumber cups, root vegetables, tri-color potato latkes, blood orange beet salad
menu 1 – rack of lamb, black lentils, jerusalem artichokes, apricot sauce
menu 2 – red mountain trout, forbidden rice, parsnip puree
menu 3 – cornish hen, veloute sauce, fava beans
doughnuts with multiple toppings

Now that we have the food let’s make a gorgeous table.  Make your own Menorah centerpiece.  Mix water and blue food coloring in large glass cups, place tea lights in cups and light the candles for a menorah-like centerpiece.

Craft these dreidels with these no fail instructions: DREIDELINSTRUCTIONS

This article was originally published in Joy of Kosher Magazine Winter 2012, order your copy to get all the recipes in the menus above.  Here are few of them to whet your appetite.

cornish hen with veloute sauce
Cornish Hen with Velouté Sauce

blood orange and beet salad
Blood-Orange & Beet Salad

ceviche in cucumber cups
Sea Bass Ceviche in Cucumber Cups

Blue Potato Latkes


Table Design & Production:
SWANK Productions
Esprit Caterers
212 207 3888
Menorah, Hamsas, Candle Sticks, Dreidels, Kiddush Cups:
All courtesy of Pickman Museum Shop at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC


Recipe courtesy of Esprit Caterers www.espritevents.com 212 207 3888

This article was originally published in Joy of Kosher Magazine (Winter 2012) – Subscribe Now!


How To Make Kosher Paella Without a Paella Pan


November 7th 2013

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Paella is one hearty dish! Typically filled to the paella-pan brim with rice, chicken, seafood, spices, vegetables and more. There is no minimum and no maximum to how many ingredients are combined to make a Paella. Since I keep kosher, my paella was a little more tamed. Seafood- outta the dish! In place of the “shrimp” I used incredible sausage. By sautéing the sausage first, my Paella base of flavor was born. Salty, briny and meaty sausage flavor; I’m a fan of that!

Before I continue with the plethora of aromatic ingredients, let me begin by how to cook a paella. Sadly, I do not own a paella pan. I even asked for an extension to write this article so I could buy cute mini paella pans for individually served dishes. Tamar, the wonderful editor at Joy Of Kosher told me “You don’t need to buy a paella pan… how many people will have this in their kitchen’s already? Just use a wok, or a deep frying pan.” Thanks to Tamar, I saved some money, and realized that my good ol’ giant meat frying pan would do the job.

kosher paella

The key to a great paella is the layering of flavors. That takes us back to how I made the fabulous paella.

I began by sauteing the sausage. Once crispy, I removed from the pan and placed in a bowl. Next, I sauteed my dark meat chicken cutlets. Feel free to use regular white meat, but if you have tasted dark meat “pargiot” chicken I shouldn’t have to explain how succulent…and AMAZING they are. Again, once cooked through, add to sausage bowl. Rice time. I chose sushi rice because it cooks very quickly. Saute the rice in the leftover fat from the sausage and chicken. Instead of water, I used chicken broth to cook the rice for added flavor. Add in garlic and spices. If your rice seems dry, add more broth. I used an entire box of chicken broth with 1.5 cups of rice. Gave a beautiful risotto texture. Once rice is cooked, toss in chicken and sausage to heat through. It is nice to keep some chicken and sausage separate to garnish the dish at the end.

I hope you enjoy making Paella, get the full recipe here! It is easy, not expensive, and a nice update on “chicken and rice.”

Have you ever made Paella before? Let me know in the comments below.


Joy of Kosher Cookbook Clubs


November 6th 2013

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In anticipation of the release of the new Joy of Kosher Cookbook we arranged for 10 cookbook clubs around the country.  We asked and you volunteered.  The volunteers that were randomly selected from our Host a Joy of Kosher Cookbook Club were tasked with inviting at least 5 friends to talk, cook and eat from the new book.  Here is a recap from some of there parties and we hope they inspire you to host one of your own.

Becky Romanoff shared:

We had a fantastic ladies night dinner here in Elizabeth, NJ. It was an evening of great food, wine and friends. Our feast included appetizers, entrees, and desserts from Jamie’s cookbook so we were able to get a well-rounded taste of the recipes throughout the book. Each of the 13 participants selected a recipe in advance and brought their dish over on the night of the dinner. We set up the dinner buffet style with little signs next to each dish identifying the recipe. Everyone was able to try the different items and each one was a true hit. Throughout the meal people commented on how easy the recipes were to follow. A few of the delicious foods we got to sample were “Tropical Fruit Guacamole”, “Anita’s Lachmajine”,  “Chunky Red Chili”, “Sweet and Sticky Chicken Drumsticks”, and “Sweet Potato Cake”. We all had a terrific evening and were so glad to be able to take part in this beautiful and scrumptious event!

Kari Alterman from Detroit shared:
On Monday, October 28, 12 of us got together and enjoyed many of the recipes from The Joy of Kosher Cookbook.  When I learned I won the ‘contest,’ I was so excited since I love cooking, love my friends, and love new recipes!  The challenge for my friends was my gluten-free diet.  Since I was diagnosed with Celiac in February, I’ve had at least one meal in each of these friend’s homes and they’ve been troopers at learning how to substitute to make it all work.
So, I went through the cookbook, and picked about 25 recipes that could easily be made gluten-free (or were GF naturally).  I made the two main dishes and a dessert.  I then texted each friend 2 recipes, so they could pick what they wanted.  We ended up with a great dairy dinner!  We had: Lemon Lovers Hummus, Waldorf Salad, Cilantro Corn Cakes, Rice Salad, Brussel Sprouts, Green Beans, Teriyaki Trout, Mac n’Cheese, Cornbread….and for dessert, Orange Cheesecake, Brownies, Pistachio bark and Caramel Apples.  (Did I mention that EVERYTHING was Gluten Free?) Honestly, everything was delicious.  I wish I could say we went around and introduced each dish, but with a dozen working moms out on a ‘school night,’ we were so excited to just sit, talk and eat good food that we didn’t get around to it! We did commit to trying this again, with other cookbooks (hopefully from Jamie!).
Rachel Fryman from NY:
We had a Thanksgiving themed dinner. Sorry, we missed a picture of the Turkey :-(
With a group of good friends we had an early Thanksgiving feast in Washington Heights, NY. During supper we passed around a copy of the new Joy of Kosher cookbook. Everyone introduced their own dish and described the recipe and preparation process.
The winter citrus salad was beautiful and a wonderful fresh start to the meal. We gobbled up the moist turkey, savory rice salad and creamy sweet potato pie. The green beans were a hit with a bit of kick (too much for some and many agreed to omit the chili pepper next time)!
For dessert, the autumn theme continued with the parve pumpkin mousse and cardamom scented cookies. Good quality chocolate and sea salt was key to making the Salted Almond & Pistachio Bark. Thank you and looking forward to cooking again for the Joy of Kosher.

Thank you to Rachel Jonas for taking such beautiful pictures of all your delicious creations.

Liath Bricks from Virginia:

Our Joy of Kosher Cookbook party was on October 27th.  We had four moms and their kids at our home for a lovely brunch.  We picked a morning time frame so that the kids would all be happy playing together, and picked recipes from the cookbook that would make a great veggie/dairy lunch with leftovers to take home.

I had coffee and the sweet potato cake ready for everyone when they arrived.  The Sweet Potato cake received rave reviews!  It is easy, delicious, and everyone kept eating more and more until we had a small end piece left (which my husband promptly wrapped up to take to work the next day).  Needless to say, everyone was paging through the book to find that recipe!
One of the moms had brought the Veggie Chopped Liver, and again, everyone was thumbing through the book to find the recipe since it was so unbelievably good!  Every person I have met always mentioned some weird frozen peas recipe for veggie chopped liver, and this was definitely not it!  This dish rivaled my Romanian-Israeli Savta’s recipe for chopped liver, it was really that good!
So here we were munching away on addictive Sweet Potato Cake and delicious veggie chopped liver and we had to force ourselves to stop munching and start cooking :)
I had started the Spinach, White Bean and Tomato soup earlier that morning, to allow the flavors to become established, and we finished it off with the spinach before lunch.  Since I completely forgot to buy puff pastry dough, I just made parmesan crisps on the Silpat in the oven for an easy and totally addictive garnish.   We also made the beautiful and refreshing Winter Citrus Salad.  The salad, the soup and the Cranberry-Rosemary Challah were our delicious lunch.  Lastly, we let the kids make their own individual chocolate candy bark while the adults indulged in sinful Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse (which, had we not known it was non-dairy, we would never have guessed!).  All in all it was a very successful little party.
Hubby and I have recently relocated from Atlanta, GA to Richmond, VA and this was a great opportunity to meet new friends.  Since the Richmond community is very observant, having a kosher cookbook party was the ideal “Siba L’Mesibah” (as they say in Israel).  I have found my ideal Chanukah gift!
Loren Puterman in California:
I was so excited to be asked to host a cookbook club party for Jamie’s new cookbook, not only because I am a huge fan of hers, but also because I too went from a bride who knew nothing to an accomplished home cook. The moment the book arrived my kids and I poured over the recipes, deciding exactly what the best menu was for  my friends. The recipes all looked so fabulous that I decided that I would cook everything and that I would assign each friend a wine, that Jamie recommended, that went with the dish. We decided on Avocado and mock crab salad with butter lettuce and lemon dressing to start, which was delicious. For the main course I made the Moroccan roasted chicken, which was definitely the highlight of the night, Easy cranberry and pine nut couscous… which was easy and tasty, mushrooms with herbs and wine in phyllo cups, which I cannot wait to make again and pour over a steak…., and then colorful mustard string beans, which looked as good on the platter as they tasted. To end off the meal, my friend Rachel, made the Nutty caramel brownies, which we all agreed were worth every extra calories!
What I loved most about this cookbook, and I find consistent with Jamie’s recipes, is that I was able to cook the entire menu that day and did not stand in the kitchen for hours!!
My friends and I had a wonderful evening full of delicious food, wine tasting and friendship. I am looking forward to trying many more of the recipes.
Here are pictures from Bryna Roth’s Party.

Now that you see how it is done, when are you going to host your own Joy of Kosher cookbook club party?

If you attended one of these parties, add your comments below.  Check out more pictures from all these parties and tag yourselves in our facebook album here.

Order your copy and/or leave a review of the cookbook on amazon for The Joy of Kosher Cookbook.


Thanksgivukkah Tablescape Ideas *Giveaway*


November 6th 2013

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If you have checked your “American” calendar ,  you will have noticed that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall (no pun intended) on the same day this year. According to Steven Colbert, Thanksgiving is actually under attack!! But wait Steven isn’t it Hanukkah that actually must share the limelight, or wait, aren’t we just killing two birds with one stone. Sorry for the last comment, maybe that wasn’t appropriate….

Anyways… if you were wondering how to decorate your Thanksgivukkah table this year, I have a few easy and fun ideas I would like to share. These ideas are meant for the entire family, not just for Mom, so I hope the kids are following.

A fun menorah will light up the table. Here I have used miniature pumpkins, but anything would work from apples, to persimmon to miniature squash. Just use what you find in your local grocery store or market. Let a parent carve the holes for the tealights. Any colour tealights will do, just make sure your shamas is taller than the rest. I have added some fall leaves and twigs for interest. You can use any type of leaf. Ivy grows wild most everywhere, or even better get the kids to make their own leaves. The more everyone is involved, the more fun you will have.

The dreidels were made using these instructions and template http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel.

For the napkin we created turkeys made from pinecones and a folded napkin. Go to youtube or google “how to fold a turkey napkin“, you will find a tutorial there. The older kids may enjoy folding the napkins (cloth or paper), while the younger kids are creating or painting the dreidels, pinecones or leaves. If you don’t want the mess, plain pinecones are just fine; just make sure you wash and let the pinecones dry ahead of time, so you don’t find any uninvited guests at your table!!

The turkey head was made from a folded piece of card stock. Simply fold a right handed triangle to form the head and then make a second fold to create the neck. The red “wattle” which is the fleshy thing that grows under a turkey’s throat, was just a red painted teardrop cut out from paper.

For an added bit of fun we scattered Hanukkah gelt (parve) at each placesetting. It adds just a little bit of bling, and chocolate is always a crowd pleaser. If you look closely, a special pilgrim kippa (paper buckle glued to the kippa) can be found on our table . We always enjoy adding something a little different and unexpected. Your guests will certainly remember those little touches and will remember the fun time you shared together.

I hope you have enjoyed my ideas, and see that you don’t need to spend much to make something special. Be creative, make it fun, and involve the entire family in the Thanksgivukkah preparations.  You will amaze yourself that you really can create something from nothing.

Please ask any questions about everything in this post or any other table scape ideas in the comments below.


Barbara from BlossumBleu is giving away this gorgeous 100% polyester, machine washable tablecloth (72×108 inches) plus the vase!!!  Total retail value is $140.  Blossum Bleu offers custom table linens that all are all machine washable.  They specialize in custom sizes and unique fabrics.  With free shipping across the U.S. you have found your one stop shopping for all your table linens.  Follow BlossumBleu on Instagram, email MWaingort@aol.com and enter to win with rafflecopter.

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How To Create a Dessert Table for Hanukkah ...


November 5th 2013

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Well I have certainly made a lot of friends since moving to Israel.  My newest pals are a sister team of event designers from the city of Modiin.  Nesia and Daphna run A La Mode Designer Desserts, Designer Parties.  And I tapped them to create a vibrant, modern, unexpected Chanukah dessert table.  Watch this video and learn how to recreate this thing of beauty step-by-step.  It’s also filled with lot’s of little take-away ideas for gifts, sweets, and snacks that can be incorporated into any party.

Here’s a little more from behind the scenes:

This is a closeup of one side of the dessert table.  Note that the sisters from A La Mode (visit them on Facebook here) suggest displaying like fruits together in mini martini glasses instead of a mixed fruit salad – it enhances the bold graphic look of this table.  The black and white zigzag pattern is repeated many times over in the table runner, paper cones, straws, and picture frames.  And check out the messaging, “Take a Gift” lets your guests know these little candy boxes are party favors.  Watch the How To Video and learn how to make the paper cones and candy boxes.

When hosting a house party Nesia and Daphna say it’s important to carry the theme throughout the house – don’t just relegate the goods to one party table.  Here this coffee table doubles as a doughnut buffet including candies, chocolates, and paper goods that mimic the dessert table color scheme.  If the party extends to the outdoors or other rooms of the house don’t forget to put out a little somethin’ to pull the entire look together.

And here I am with the girls building our martini candy menorah.  Nesia is wearing the green skirt Daphna is in the pale blue cardigan.


Do you like this video?  Do you want more dessert table, DIY party favor, candy craft, and sweet styling videos and tips?  Let me know in the comments below and enter to win a candy prize package from Mike and Ike and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.

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This post is part of an ongoing partnership with Just Born.


Hanukkah Gift Guide


November 4th 2013

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This year Hanukkah begins on Wednesday night November 27, 2013.  I can’t remember the last time Hanukkah was even in November.  And who can miss all the excitement over the convergence of the first day of Hanukkah with Thanksgiving, now coined Thanksgivukkah.  Unless you are my mother in law who buys all her holiday presents before Summer is over, you are probably feeling a bit behind schedule this year.  Here is our foodie gift guide, filled with sweets and treats and more to liven up your holiday table.

Let’s start off with my Hanukkah Chocolate Gift Guide:

Veruca chocolates has finally transformed chocolate gelt into the treasure it is meant to be.  Give the kids the foil wrapped sacks and save these gold coins for yourself.  They are available in 3 flavors and certified Kosher by the CRC.  They are all molded to replicate an actual Judean coin dating back to the 4th decade BCE, and is finished in gold dust. They will also look gorgeous on your dessert table.  Order your Veruca Chocolate gelt here.  (please note that the gelt is currently their only certified kosher product)


thanksgivukah chocolates

Special for Thanksgivukah!!!  Celebrate the once in a lifetime miracle of the calendar and the candelabra with gourmet kosher Thanksgivukkah chocolates.  They also have chocolate dreidels and other Thanksgiving chocolates.  JoyofKosher fans get 10% with coupon code JOYOFKOSHER.  Click here to get your Thanksgivukkah chocolates.

Zelda’s Sweet Shoppe offers decorated Hanukkah cookies and baskets.  Also new this year are their signature chocolate covered marshmallows in dreidel shape as well as a decorated caramel corn.  Email them to order these new items.

One more chocolate gelt that is a step above. These still have the foil covers, but the silver ones are mint flavored!! Get chocolate coins from Lake Champlain.

For those not as in love with chocolate as me here are some food related gifts you might enjoy.

Stick with food, but move to something savory that still makes a great gift.  Natural and Kosher Cheese Sampler package with a recipe and usage booklet inside.  We love this little box set.  You should find it at most Supermarkets and even Costco. Get more information on their facebook page.

I love this stainless Latke Spatula. Cute and practical at the same time.  Get it from Amazon.

Anyone would love to add these to their Hanukkah table.  Blue and white porcelain plates that can be used for everything from salads, to appetizers to desserts.  Sold by Williams-Sonoma.

Move beyond those plastic Hanukkah cookie cutters to these hand crafted Jewish themed cookie cuter set perfect for Hanukkah.  Get the Hanukkah cookie cutters here.  You can also get a Hanukkah Linzer cookie cutter from the Kosher Cook.

If you are looking for something a little fancier, check out this Pomegranate Decorative Dreidel from Quest Gifts, available at most Judaica stores.  Please email us at info@joyofkosher.com for specific retailers.

No Hanukkah gift guide is complete with out our New Joy of Kosher cookbook!!!  The perfect gift for every one (even the ones that don’t like cook).  Order your copies on Amazon.

Let us know if you find any other fun holiday gift ideas, share it in the comments below.







Sneak Peek Of the New Issue


November 4th 2013

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Consider this issue gift wrapped! It’s our great big special Chanukah gift to you, filled with fresh ideas for your Chanukah parties and enough inspiration to last and last through the winter.  This issue is loaded with the season’s coziest customs like
latke making, doughnut decorating and gift giving. Featuring perfect potato latkes, including classic and cauliflower (page 53); ice cream stuffed doughnuts, sushi doughnuts, doughnut ‘kebobs,’ fillings and glazes galore, oh, my! (page 72); and tips
on how to turn your doughnut designs into a DIY moment for you and your guests with stenciled doughnut decorations that are an exquisite piece of art almost too beautiful to eat (page 76)!

Plus party platters (page 64) and party punches (page 62) both adult- and kid-friendly.  Ahem, and may I suggest the perfect Chanukah gift for just about everyone on your list? My NEW Cookbook, Joy of Kosher: Fast Fresh Family Recipes. These recipes are versatile beyond words. I show you how to dress them up for entertaining and dress them down for everyday. On page 42 I take you behind the scenes and give you a taste of what it really takes to cook up a cookbook.

And just like the recipes in my book do double duty – everyday to holiday – so does this issue. We know it’s a long winter;
we would never leave you cold. So we’ve got wok weeknight dinners that WOW (page 56), and winner recipes for winter
greens (page 24). And is there anything so comforting and tummy-warming as a hot soup and fresh bread? We’ve paired
three soups with three easy homemade breads for three easy winter meals (page 30)!

Did I promise you a BIG present or WHAT?  Now, don’t miss out, order your subscription today and send a friend our Chanukah issue free!!


Subscribe Now!!


Best Uses for Leftover Candy


November 1st 2013

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Can there ever be such a thing as too much candy?  I guess it depends on who you are talking to, but if you find yourself with bags of open candies we have lots of great uses that go beyond popping them in your mouth.  You can separate the candy, make a pretty plate or container to bring over as a hostess gift.  You can serve the candy to your Shabbat guests. The best uses for lots of candy is turning them into fantastic dessert recipe creations.  Here we have 10 recipes to make the best use of your leftover candy.

Mike and Ike Bejeweled Sugar Cookies

Mike and Ike Bejeweled Sugar Cookies

peanut chew cake

Goldenberg's Peanut Chew Vanilla Cake

Brownie Candy Cups

Brownie Candy Cups

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

Mike and Ike Rice Krispie Treats

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Peanut Chew Doughnut

Gelt Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

Gelt Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

Baby Ruth Cookies

Chocolate Coffee Toffee Tort

Mike and Ike Lemonade Cookies (main image)


Do you have any recipe creations with other leftover candies? Please submit them to our database, here.


Why I Love Olives


November 1st 2013

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There are a handful of ingredients that not only strengthen the flavor of a dish, but also stand strong as an appetizer-like snack on their own.   My favorite one is small, it’s oily, it’s a fruit, and it’s harvested for its meat and oil.  It is the quintessential olive.

There are dozens of olive varieties encompassing both size and flavor.  Similar to the different nuances in grapes and the wines that grapes become, olives grown in different regions will pick up the fine distinctions of those areas.  The leading growers of olives are the Mediterranean countries ~ Spain, Greece, Italy and Israel where there are groves with some fruit bearing trees dating back thousands of years.  The United States can also claim rights to this delicacy with much younger groves in the Southwestern states.

Not only is the olive’s unique taste affected by its birthplace, but the final flavor of the fruit also depends on how ripe it is when picked, as well as the processing it goes through.  Interestingly, all freshly picked olives are bitter.

Although we are most familiar with the multitude of black olives, there are many that are offered in shades of green.  The green olives are under-ripe when picked.  As they ripen, olives change from green to straw-colored to red.  They are black at full ripeness.  Spanish olives are picked young and fermented in brine for six to twelve months.  When bottled, they’re packed in a light brine and sold in a variety of forms including pitted, whole, or stuffed with an array of delicacies such as pimientos, almonds, onions, carrots, blue cheese and cloves of garlic.  Olives picked in a riper state contain more oil and are a deeper green color.  The common black olive, or Mission olive, is a ripe green olive that obtains its characteristic color and flavor through processing.  Greek Kalamata and the French Niçoise olives are two of the more popular imported ripe olives.  Dry-cured olives have been packed in salt.  The salt removes most of the moisture and creates dry, wrinkled fruit.  These are sometimes rubbed with olive oil and packed with herbs.  Both domestic and imported olives are available bottled, canned and in bulk year-round.

Next time you’ve got a few extra minutes at the grocery store, I recommend a culinary field trip straight to the olive bar.  This is a great alternative to buying olives in a can ~ devoid of flavorful brine and packed with too much processing.  My refrigerator is never big enough when I bring home all those plastic containers filled with a colossal amount of olives.

Olives are not just for nibbling one at a time.  With the ready availability of pitted olives, they are nearly indispensable as an ingredient.  Mediterranean dishes often call for the addition of olives as a flavor enhancer as well as a visual accompaniment. The variety of olives to choose from can be overwhelming when a dish cries out for them.  One way to help me through this daunting chore is to pair up the type of olive with a dish from its indigenous background.  For instance, when I prepare a French dish such as Sea Bass Niçoise, it’s an easy call to use the olive with the same name.  An authentic Greek dish of orzo, tomato and feta would easily call for a Kalamata olive.  An Israeli Meze display would be incomplete without a selection of locally harvested and cured olives.

And speaking of the Mediterranean, the Spanish Tapenade delicacy of finely ground black olives, sun dried tomatoes, capers and extra virgin olive oil is a terrific foundation ingredient ~ great on its own, but even better when utilized within other dishes.  A tray of crackers or small toast points placed to the side will coach any newcomer to this basic chopped olive spread.  The Tapenade does double duty when spread over salmon fillet and baked to a glistening crust in Salmon Olivida  ~ one of our award winning recipes from years ago.  Or, turn your Friday night chicken on its thigh by inserting your hand under the skin and spreading the Tapenade between the flesh and skin.  The skin will be succulent and flavorful; the meat will be tender and juicy.

By themselves, an assortment of olives in the middle of your table is always welcome.  This delicacy is even healthy for you, filled with the good kind of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats.  Olives are naturally salty, and even more so after being flavored in a brine.  So keep in mind, not too much salt necessary when olives are incorporated into your cooking.  Stick a Post-It onto pages 189 and 208 in my  cookbook, Jeff Nathan’s Family Suppers.  There are several wonderful recipes utilizing olives including Black Olive Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Butter.

While you’re adding the finishing touches to this olive recipe, knock back a martini with an olive, not a twist!

Get the Recipe for Chicken Savoy with Olives