Being Good and Loving It With Poached Pears


January 8th 2014

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Sometimes I behave. Sometimes I don’t. When I am being good, poached pears taste like a beautiful sweet gift from G-d. A light, pleasant, end to a meal — elegant enough to serve on Shabbos easy enough to prepare in about 20 minutes.

Growing up compote was a staple at my grandparents home – served both as a side to the main or as a sweet dessert. I like to think of my Orange Ginger Poached Pears as a dressed up version of the fruit stew I grew up with.

Now if you can’t get your cute little hands on a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger you can either omit it or sub in ground ginger. Use about 2 teaspoons and cook it for a few seconds in a little bit of oil first to help release the flavors and prevent that powdery taste. Then add orange juice, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer before adding your pears.

Try this recipe for Orange Ginger Poached Pears and let me know in the comments, what you eat when you’re being good.


In the JOK Kitchen with Tina Wasserman *Giveaway*


January 7th 2014

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Tina Wasserman has been in the food writing business for a while, but two years ago when she wrote her first cookbook, Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of The Jewish Diaspora, she really appeared on the map.  Tina loves to share the history of our food and helps us all connect to our Jewish roots through food.  Her new book, Entree to Judaism For Families, is filled with the tools to help kids of all ages learn to cook in the kitchen and learn bits of history too.  I had the chance to meet Tina recently and I came away with so much amazing knowledge.  Let’s see what we can learn now.

Your books are filled with little history lessons connecting the food to Jewish history, how did you learn all these facts?

History books, the Talmud, interviews with people in my community that grew up Jewish in the Maghreb (North Africa) and the Middle East and India, credible Internet sites (no Wikipedia!) that represented all Jewish denominations and, believe it or not, old Jewish cookbooks that really portrayed the culinary customs of Jewish immigrants to this country more than one hundred years ago. It was amazing to watch the transformation of immigrant cuisine as subsequent generations grew up in North America.

Corn Pudding

In your first book you shared recipes from all over the world, what is different about this book?

My focus in Entree to Judaism for Families was creating recipes that would be fun to make, would not be “gimmicky” children’s food but would be sophisticated preparations that would introduce children to a wide array of foods that would be delicious, incorporate many nutritious ingredients (vegetables,whole grains,fruits) and still have a link to ancient and modern Jewish culture and history. Each recipe provides a springboard for discussion that facilitates discussion about one’s own family heritage

Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sundried Tomatoes

Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sundried Tomatoes

This new book  (will) also  be  available in digital form, what is the benefit of that version?

The first book is now available on iTunes too.  I am a trained culinary educator. I actually started out as a junior high school Home Economics teacher. No matter what I am teaching-Jewish food lore or programming for religious schools, I am always teaching techniques on how to cook. The digital version is, to my knowledge, the first digitally interactive cookbook geared to young cooks. Each recipe provides links within the directions to photos of equipment or very short videos on technique. Link for the word whisk will pop up a photo of that utensil and can lead to child developmental exercises of following commands and finding the whisk in the kitchen. Highlighting this, and many other words can enhance spelling proficiency. Why do we have to always teach B is for ball and C is for cat? Why can’t W be for whisk and B for boil? The book is also imbedded with over thirty minute videos to teach technique. A child could play with the app in their car seat as easily as in the kitchen!

Classic Jewish Deli Chicken Salad

Classic Jewish Deli Chicken Salad

You believe strongly in tradition, what is your favorite Jewish tradition as it relates to food?

That is a very hard question. Certainly all recipes related to Pesach conjure memories; chopping charoset in the wooden bowl with a handheld metal blade, slicing the hard boiled eggs for the salt water at each place setting. But I think I have received the greatest joy from teaching children(and their parents) how to make a traditionally shaped 6 braided challah. When my husband’s grandmother was 90 she taught me how to create the braid sitting at her kitchen table using six skinny bakery strings. I link the tradition to Leviticus and discuss the commandment to the twelve tribes about how to place their show bread on the olden table in the holy Temple. I have a you tube video on how to do this but seeing the delight on the faces of my students, young and old, is a joy for me.

You wrote this book for the Reform movement and you made sure that all the recipes followed the laws of kashrut, why was that important to you?

The true definition of Jewish food, whether it is from India, Iraq, Russia or South America, is that it is food that carries on
culinary tradition utilizing foods that are readily available in the region that conformed to the laws of Shabbat and Kashrut. So if I am teaching foods that are rooted in centuries-old traditions, they will conform to kashrut and I will keep it that way. I keep a kosher home because I wanted my children to grow up in a home that emphasized our culinary heritage. I am definitely not alone in that regard in the Reform Jewish movement so I wanted to be true to the tradition.

Persian Cauliflower Kuku

How do you think families can use this book together?

Parents really want to do things with their children but playing a board game or sitting on the sidelines cheering on your child at a tee ball game only can bring so much connectivity! Parents have laughed when they see the recipes in my book and say that the instructions and recipes are more useful for them! These recipes, with their “Tidbits” for how to cook with children at different ages and stages of development , will facilitate relaxed and productive interaction between adult and child, teacher and student. The recipes can be a part of a meal rather than an independent activity creating a snack. And the suggested “Kitchen Conversations” opens up a dialogue that becomes personalized with family anecdotes. Persian Kuku might be a silly sounding name for a frittata-like egg and vegetable dish but it exposes the child to spinach or cauliflower,lends itself to a discussion about Persian Jews and provides a dish that can be “fun” eaten in small squares skewered with toothpicks that look like little swords or colorful frilly tops.

Corn Pudding

Persian Cauliflower Kuku

Classic Jewish Chicken Salad

Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sundried Tomatoes
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10 Ways To Eat and Love Beets


January 6th 2014

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Growing up I never really liked beets.  I really had only ever seen them out of a jar usually in a salad bar.  Never had a I seen them raw or with green tops. Apparently, that is still the case for most people living in the U.S. where most beets consumed are from a can and even when sold raw they are often sold without their tops.  Only recently did I discover a love for beets and then a greater love for their green tops.

I have been reading a new book all about the history of vegetables and how to choose, store and cook the best ones for maximum nutrition.  The book, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, is a wealth of information that I will share when I can.  So, while I already loved beets, I found even more reasons that you should love them too.  Beets are a rich source of boron, which is good for bones and apparently may be an aphrodisiac too.  And beets, even without their greens (but, please eat the greens they are so good) are one of the healthiest vegetables.  People who eat beets on a regular basis have a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.  Robinson also mentions that the nitrates in beets have been shown to enhance athletic performance, a glass of beet juice with Wheaties might be the true breakfast of champions.

Here I have curated 10 of my favorite ways to enjoy beets.  Please join me in the new Beet Generation!!

Beet and Goat Cheese Crostini

Beet and Goat Cheese Crostini

While I do prefer fresh beets, if you are not ready to start with fresh, this recipe uses jarred borscht mixed with goat cheese.  A great way to initiate beet newbies and to get your beets when fresh are not available.


Beet Farro Risotto with Goat Cheese

This recipe I created last Summer and has literally become a regular staple in my house that my husband and I can not get enough of.  This version also uses a jar of borscht, but it is even better with some fresh beets and sauteed beet greens mixed in as well.  Last week I sliced the beets thin and roasted them with a bit of olive oil on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, so they were like chips, that even got the kids to eat them.

chicken with beets and sweets

Orange Chicken Thighs with Beets and Sweets

If you can get your hands on both red and yellow beets you can really make a pretty meal.  Instead of roast potatoes, try roasted beets on the side of your favorite chicken.

Wild Rice with Carrots and Beets

Wild Rice with Carrots and Beets

I have always loved this recipe from Jamie, the mix of colors just draws me in.  This is also probably one of her most healthy recipes, between the wild rice, the carrots and the beets you will live a long life on this dish.

Roasted Beets with Honeyed Pistachios

Roasted Beets with Honeyed Pistachios

This simple roasted beets recipe is a classic.  Mixed with goat cheese and pistachios with a little honey drizzled on top.  If you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting and peeling, you can buy the beets that come in a package ready to go, they taste great are even kosher for Passover.

Beet Carpaccio

Beet Carpaccio

Carpaccio is usually a term reserved for meat, but it basically means that the food is shaved really thin.  This beet carpaccio has a real elegant look and tastes amazing with the caramelized onions.

Beet Pepperoni

This is the dish that first got me cooking beets and beet greens together.  I love the flavor of these beet pepperoni chips, you can use them on pizza, but mine don’t usually even make it to the table.

roasted beet orange salad

Roasted Beet Orange Salad

Beets and oranges also pair very well together.  Perfect for the season right now, this salad is a real wow type of dish.

Beet & Carrot Latkes

Beet & Carrot Latkes

For a little change you can always shred your beets, like in these beet and carrot latkes.  You don’t have to wait for Hanukkah to enjoy these treats.

Beet, Kale and Seaweed Salad

Beet, Kale and Seaweed Salad

You can also use the raw shredded beets in a salad.  You will be surprised how good raw beets taste.

I hope you enjoy these recipes for beets, what is your favorite way to eat them?


Champagne Sweetened Lentils


January 6th 2014

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Watch Jamie Geller prepare her Champagne Sweetened Lentils – it’s Quick and Kosher!


The Best Citrus Squeezer/Juicer


January 3rd 2014

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For the longest time all I had to squeeze lemons was a little plastic piece that was so flimsy I didn’t even like using it.  I use lemons and limes often in food, but usually it is one at a time so I just did it with my hands.  Then I started getting into cocktail making and I really enjoy a frozen mint mojito in the Summer and other citrusy drinks in the Winter.  I finally got myself a real lemon/lime squeezer and I can’t believe it took me so long.

This is under $14 and is an amazing squeezer, takes up no space and has literally changed my life.  I actually will consider making lemonade now for the kids too. Have you tried this little gadget?

So far in my small kitchen, I am not ready for anything else, but if I had space, I would consider this Cuisinart Juicer, it can juice anything from the smallest lime to the largest grapefruit.

If you are more of an orange person and you have space, this Rabbit Juicer is a great option.  It is particularly great if you have an orange tree and want to squeeze a glass or two every day.


Gluten Free Travel Inspired Coconut Chicken


January 3rd 2014

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Hey, everyone!

I’m really glad to be joining you here on the Joy of Kosher and I just wanted to introduce myself formally — as I sit at home in my PJs — before we embark on our culinary journey together, otherwise… you know…it could be awkward.

My name is Aviva and I’m essentially just like Curious George — except that I usually don’t have a yellow-hatted chauffeur following me around, I’m not a monkey and I CAN COOK. But I’m super inquisitive about the world, impulsive and have a knack for getting myself into random shenanigans.

It definitely keeps those around me on their toes.

A little about me:

I am a “trained” artist and a chef. I have intense wanderlust, which makes me M.I.A a lot, but I always come back, like Mary Poppins. I never know where the next strong wind is going to blow me, sometimes for months at a time. Also, I hate to measure.

I am the author of No Potato Passover, an extremely famous cookbook, if I do say so myself. It won an award in Paris and they gave me a key to the city and now I get to stay at the Eiffel Tower whenever I’m visiting!

I am currently working on a new book, Gluten Free Around the World (coming this summer!). This book, like my last one, will have gratuitous travel photography, but, it will also be a travel journal so you can hear my opinions about ‘ohh the places I’ve been.’

Aside from the fact that I adore a challenge (I am the one who managed to go through Passover without potatoes, after all), my goal with my new book is to make gluten-free cooking easy, delicious, and most of all, inclusive. I want to focus on the things people CAN eat, and create family style meals where all can partake and no one is sitting at the end of the table feeling they’re missing out on all the good stuff.

So get ready for exotic places and lots of recipes that are delicious, accessible, gluten free and kosher! You’re welcome!

Oh, and just in case you can’t get enough of me here, you can follow me and my wackiness on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. I constantly post recipes and photos from my travels.

Don’t miss this amazing recipe for Coconut Chicken with Plum Dipping Sauce.


Healthy Resolutions You Can Keep


January 2nd 2014

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Happy New Year! Welcome to a new year and a new you! January has long been a time for resolutions and plans to improve ourselves in the coming year. The most common resolutions made are losing weight and getting fit. The most common resolutions broken are losing weight and getting fit. However, this doesn’t have to be true for you this year. Making a resolution to become healthier can be as easy as changing your focus and creating a healthy lifestyle.

Now while that may sound intimidating to completely change the way you live, it really doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. All it takes is changing your mindset and setting up your day to minimize temptation and maximize good habits. This can be as simple as throwing out that ashtray, and putting your running shoes where you’ll see them (and use them).

When it comes to getting fit, joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer aren’t the only options.

Find an activity that you enjoy and you’re practically guaranteed that you’ll keep at it!
Create a commitment to be physically active by scheduling time with a friend or signing up for a class. If you love the activity, it won’t be a chore, and you’ll look forward to doing it frequently.

  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Basketball
  • Yoga

The options are limitless, and it doesn’t have to be lifting weights in a dreary gym. And physical activity can be easily added to your activities of daily living:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking to a farther bus-stop
  • Parking your car farther from your destination

Becoming fit can be an exciting and invigorating change to your life providing more energy and innumerable health benefits.

Instead of starting another crazy fad-diet to lose weight, become aware of what your body is telling you.

  • Eat when you’re hungry
  • Stop when you’re full
  • Be in the moment when you eat and enjoy it! Turn off your phone, put away that magazine and really taste the food entering your mouth. You’ll notice it takes a lot less food to satisfy yourself when you’re in the moment and aware of what you’re eating.

Use high will power moments to prepare for low will power moments:

  • Cut up fruits and vegetables and have them ready for those times you need a quick snack instead of reaching for some cookies
  • Make a date with a friend to exercise
  • Plan your grocery shopping to avoid impulse junk-food shopping
  • Replace sodas and flavoured drinks with water
  • Arm yourself with tools so you can succeed and have a happy and healthy new year



How To Cook Turkey London Broil


January 2nd 2014

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There are three things that intrigue me… first and foremost is food and the many ways it can be turned from nourishment into an edible work of art.  Next is words… the written, the spoken, the meanings.  And finally there is history.  The history of our people, my people, antique furniture and old photos.  Along with these very separate subjects is often a chance for them to come together, especially for us food writing chefs.

Old recipes and those with interesting names are also fun for me to work with.  Where did they come from, and what has made them endure the test of time and the counting of calories?  Who was the first one to create a dish, and who was the first one to put it in a cookbook?  A modern day favorite is the Caesar Salad, which does not hail from the Roman Emperor Caesar, but from the Grand Master Maitre d’ Hotel at the brand new Waldorf Astoria of the 1930′s.  Or was it the Italian Chef Caesar Cardini, living in Mexico in the 1920′s?

Once I’ve learned a new fun foodie fact I do my best to cook the dish, at least once.  Every year on New Year’s Day, (the one in January), I cook up a big pot of Hoppin’ John ~ an African American dish prepared on this day during the sad time of slavery as a special treat.  It’s said to bring luck for the new year.  And twice a year I make an Apple Brown Betty, for the one reason that my great-grandmother’s name was Betty Brown.

My collection of foodie words was recently picked through when I was questioned about a Turkey London Broil.  It sounds so fascinating, so delicious, such a new and interesting meal to put on the table.  And with the wonder of Thanksgivukkah just recently passed, this is a perfect time for some edible word play.

A Turkey London Broil is another name for a boneless, skinless half turkey breast.  But don’t be disappointed that it is nothing more exciting, as this wonderful cut of fowl offers so many options for a quick and light supper.

Weighing in at roughly a pound and a half, they don’t shrink much during cooking, and can serve several portions.  As any day-after-Thanksgiving cook knows, the leftovers are great, too.

The turkey breast has very little, to no fat content and can dry out quickly if not cooked properly.  Recipes abound for a traditional Beef London Broil, and the same goes for its turkey counterpart.  Dry rubs, marinades and brines are all savory starts to imparting flavor into the meat.  Additionally, sauces and gravies add a velvety texture.

As with all meats, once cooked, allow it to rest for 10 – 15 minutes before slicing.  Be sure to carve it against the grain using a long sharp knife.

While I make a big to-do about my whole roasted brined turkey on Thanksgiving, I like to go a little easier the rest of the year, with moisture inducing marinades or sauces for the turkey breasts.  I hope you enjoy the recipe I’ve included here.

Saffron Apricot Braised Turkey

From the Abigael’s Restaurant Group in New York City, we wish you a great 2014!


Healthy and Gourmet Popcorn Recipes


January 1st 2014

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Who was it that first discovered the magical potential hidden within every kernel of corn?

That healthy snack, light as air…  that burst of white, crunchy happiness?

Honestly the best i can do is source corn husk findings in ancient peru. (If your imagination  was going in the direction of Native Americans sitting around ingesting mouthfuls on a  scorching hot day…enjoy the imagery, just double  check the continent.)  But, really, how did popcorn evolve from a supposed  ancient Peruvian munching habit to becoming America’s #1 favorite snack?

kale popcorn

Kale and Popcorn Medley

Columbus and his crew were possibly the first Westerners  to gaze curiously at corn (and yes, the first to excitedly  watch the kernels crackle with the Natives) but they still had no popcorn machines until 1885. When candy  and other munchables were inaccessible during WWII,  America turned to its ever-plentiful corn fields for a  cheap alternative and when TV took over the American  lifestyle, the consumption of popcorn rose 500%!

Truffle Rosemary Popcorn

Truffle Rosemary Popcorn

Lately, corn has been getting a bad rap for all the genetic modifications, over-processing, and being added  to almost every product on your grocery shelf. So allow  me to take you back to a corn age-of-innocence of sorts,  where its just you, the kernels and a delightful explosion  of creativity.  Low in calories, with a relatively high fiber content, plain  air-popped popcorn will have your nutritionist beaming  at your snacking choices. In addition, its neutral nature is  graciously versatile. The sky’s the limit for fun combinations!  To attain optimum flavor, air pop the corn on a stovetop  as close to the time of serving as possible. If time is of  the essence, store-bought popcorn will do (try to find unsalted  or just cut out the salt when called for in a recipe).  So, for whomever it was that gave us the gift of popcorn,  let’s throw a party and serve everyone’s favorite party  food!

Mint Chocolate and Lavender Popcorn

Mint Chocolate and Lavender Popcorn

For more about popcorn and how to air pop in the microwave with a paper bag click here.

For 20 different ways to flavor your popcorn browse here.

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (February/March 2013) – Subscribe Now.


Make Your House Smell Amazing With A Healthy Treat


December 31st 2013

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On many a cold winter New York mornings I would drop my then 2-year old son off at his play group to the smell of hot, homemade granola.  It was intoxicating.  Sweet and syrupy the power of suggestion was enough to make me demand that his teacher let me taste, just a little, for research purposes of course.  Teacher Rivky as she was known ran the play group out of her home and was all too happy to cater to my “research”.  She was such a giving person and always sent me on my way with a granola care package big enough to feed me and the growing baby in my belly.

I love the simplicity of the recipe and the fact that almost any substitution works.  Instead of raisins use dried cherries, cranberries or blueberries.  Instead of almonds try walnuts, pecans or peanuts.  If you have the palate of a pregnant woman you can just add all of the above.  Warning – don’t burn that precious palate of yours – wait at least 15 minutes for your granola to cool before taste testing, for research purposes of course.

Click here to get my Homemade Granola recipe.


A Taste of Puerto Rico


December 30th 2013

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The warm Caribbean sun that seems to kiss the sand of Puerto Rico shined brightly on us when we landed a few weeks ago for a long-weekend far from the falling temperatures and falling leaves of New York in November.  To be completely honest, Puerto Rico was never on my must-see list.  I tend to go for more exotic travel, (see my article about Thailand and Costa Rica) but the combination of a cheap direct flight and free babysitting (thanks in-laws) was too much to resist.

The beaches of Isla Verde are located about 8 minutes from San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and since you don’t have to go through customs you can take off at 9 and dip your toes in the warm sand by lunchtime.  Although the Jewish population is only around 2,000, it is the largest community in the Caribbean islands and boasts a Reform and Conservative synagogue and a Chabad that is within easy walking distance to many beachfront hotels, including the El San Juan Hotel and Ritz Carlton, both of which I was able to experience during my stay.

Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and founded by Juan Ponce de León (who also discovered Florida), there is a surprising amount of history on the island.  Beginning in the 16th century, the city of San Juan was protected by Castillo San Felipe del Morro, (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristóbal, two fortresses sitting atop a high cliff protecting the entrance to the San Juan Bay, self-guided tours are available daily where you can explore the World Heritage site that took nearly three centuries to complete.

Old San Juan is a must-see on any visit.  You can wander the cobblestone streets and colorful colonial architecture with ample shopping and cafes and there is a free trolley to take you around most of the important sites of Old San Juan.  Chabad has a Jewish Welcome Center right in the heart of Old San Juan, on Fortaleza Street, offering kosher food, souvenirs and information about the local community.

We visited the two most popular beach areas for tourists, Isla Verde and Condado but made our decision to stay in Isla Verde because of the proximity to shul.  The image above was the view from the lounge chair, where I spent most of the weekend reading and sleeping.  Both the Ritz Carlton and El San Juan are very accommodating to Jewish travelers and offered elevator and room key escort service on Shabbat among other high-end hotel amenities, including a casino, the best Mojito of my life at the Ritz (see recipe below) and a fantastic nightclub at the El San Juan.

I thought the beaches on Isla Verde were wonderful.  Calm, crystal blue waters and soft powdery sand were a refreshing change from the Florida beaches where I grew up where shards of sea shells and crashing breakers would leave my knees sore for days afterwards.

There are other great activities outside of San Juan, such as the El Yunque Rain Forest and a Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo.  I’ll have to try these another time.

All in all, I thought Puerto Rico was a great place for a long weekend.  I wished I would have fared better at the casino, though.  My experiment trying to learn how to play craps cost a hundred dollars and was over so quick I’m not sure what I learned, except that I’m no good at gambling.  But if you spend most of your time in the water, basking in the warmth of the sun with a rum drink in your hand, it’s hard to spend a few days in San Juan and not end up a winner.

Here is my favorite Mojto Recipe.




DIY – Homemade Bubbly Cocktails


December 27th 2013

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This time of year sparkling wine and champagne are in high demand.   We love to toast with champagne and we love to mix it up too.   Light and fruity wine cocktails are the perfect complement to any celebration. When you have some bubbles, a bit of spice, and some succulent fruit, you can’t go wrong.

How to choose good wines to use in cocktails?

Look for sweet wines that can combine well with spice and fruit for complexity, and bubbles, which aerate the wine for a sparkling fizz that is festive and fun. These wines are sturdy enough to stand up to ice, and the preparations are simple enough to whip up for a crowd. L’Chaim!!


Sparkling Sangria

A bottle of Jeunesse Cabernet Sauvignon poured into a pretty pitcher is the start of a fruity batch of this Sparkling Sangria.  The bright wine with its berry and floral fragrances combine well with all kinds of fruits. The dried apricots, plums, and apples complement and suggest a Middle Eastern flavor profile; adding the spice and bubbles of Ginger Ale contribute the “wow” factor.


Passion Fruit and Ginger Cocktail

Morad Vineyard’s fruity wine distilled in Israel from passion fruit is a newcomer to the party. Light and sweet, it is great on its own, but mixed with ginger and vodka in this cocktail, it makes the party.

Sparkling Cocktail

Bartenura makes its fruity sparkling Moscato and Rose in the Monferrato hills in the south of the province of Asti, Italy. The bold bubbles and natural sweetness makes for a great cocktail mixer with any kind of fruit. Chill the wine well in advance and feel free to substitute with any juice you fancy.

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


Go To Easy Dinner For Hectic Days


December 26th 2013

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Every mom has one: a go-to recipe for hectic days. It may be a casserole, or a one-pot meal, it might even be a main course salad. And of course, we’re always on the lookout for a new go-to recipe because, we get bored eating the same thing all the time.

For the working moms at Oorah, never was such a dish needed than during Oorah Auction season. There’s barely a moment to breathe, let alone cook as we put it all together—the auction that is. This is the major event of our organization, which funds over 49 programs for Jewish children and their families.

Oorah Auction

The culmination of all our fundraising efforts, the auction is a big deal. The grand prize is $1,000,000. It’s up to us to make the website and the auction book look attractive and tempting to woo prospective donors into buying a ticket or two (or ten). But each day, we still come home to the laundry and our hungry families.

That’s when we want to have a repertoire of fast, easy, all-in-one meals to prepare, preferably with ingredients we can have at the ready in our pantries so we don’t have to run out to shop, first. You want this to be the kind of thing you can do as you’re walking in the door, kicking off your heels, scooping up a kid for a kiss, and listening to the calls on your answering machine.

Something Green

Tuna Noodle Salad is just such a dish. You’ve probably got the ingredients on hand right now. It’s a main dish salad that is a complete meal in one. It’s got carbs, protein, and something green (peas).

Are you thinking, “Peas are a CARB, not a vegetable?” So okay, if you want to get fancy, toss a bag of greens with some Craisins, nuts, and a bottled salad dressing. Put that out on the table, too.

But really—it’s totally unnecessary. Everyone understands that things get hectic sometimes, so lose the guilt. Just put this out on the table and dig in.

Here’s my recipe for Tuna Noodle Salad, what is your go to meal for hectic days?



Make The Best Strata For Your Winter Brunch


December 25th 2013

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When winter sets in, we want heavy, soul-satisfying food. The days are shorter, and we may be feeling sluggish, so we don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. That’s especially true of Sundays, when we don’t have to go anywhere and the day stretches before us unhurried and unpressured.

A strata is just the thing for a lazy winter brunch with friends. It’s gorgeous straight out of the oven, all golden and puffy, a real show-stopper. It’s basically a savory bread pudding. It’s called “strata” because the ingredients are layered like the stratosphere.

Prepare Ahead

The easiest dish in the world to put together, strata is a do-ahead dish. That’s a boon for me as a working mom, the communications writer at Kars4Kids. But the truth is, strata isn’t just something you do ahead if you choose; it’s actually preferable to prepare the strata ahead of time before the final cooking, so that the bread can soak up all the delicious custard mixture.

In addition to all these glorious attributes, strata is also a flexible dish. Here, I’ve used spinach, onions, and Gruyère cheese with a generous portion of Dijon mustard to enhance the flavor of the custard mixture. But you can add sautéed mushrooms, or go Tex-Mex by substituting corn, sliced black olives, and jalapeno peppers for the spinach and onion mixture and switching out some sharp cheddar for the gruyere. Add some julienned sun-dried tomato strips and a liberal dusting of chili powder and you’re good to go.

Sky’s The Limit

You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. The main thing is good bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. Everything else is up to you—the sky’s the limit. Let the strata steep overnight in the fridge in a pretty oven-to-table casserole dish, take it out while you’re making coffee (no cheating with instant) and a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s or Mimosas, and then pop the strata into the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Be prepared for oohs and ahhs. And yes, they’re going to want the recipe. Whether you’re willing to share is another question.

Here is my recipe for the Best Spinach Strata.


Brunch with An Asian Kick


December 24th 2013

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