Spicing Up Tradition, Santa Fe Style!

 

October 28th 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPICY TIPS FROM DEVORAH LEAH’S KITCHEN

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

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

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

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

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

RESOURCES:

Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe
www.chabadsantafe.com
(505) 983-2000
Info@chabadsantafe.com

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market

New Mexico Jewish Historical Society

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

Santa Fe Hadassah

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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Food Tours in Israel

 

October 27th 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

A Family Vacation in Lake Como

 

October 24th 2014

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

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

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

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

Look at these views from the ferry.

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

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

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

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

Yes, these are real live turtles!!

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

 

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

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


 

24 Hours In Milan

 

October 23rd 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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


 

Cooking With Joy: Coq au Vin

 

October 23rd 2014

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


 

15 Travel Friendly Recipes

 

October 22nd 2014

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

 

apples-and-cinnamon-quinoa-breakfast

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

 

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

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

 

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

 


 

Ancient Pans for Modern Flavors

 

October 22nd 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Buy This On Amazon

COCCIO-TERRACOTTA EARTHENWARE (Enameled or not)

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

Click here for 5 Tips for Cooking with Earthenware

Get my recipe for Tuscan Pepper Stew here

Copper Pots

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

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

Get my recipe for authentic polenta here.

 

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

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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Using and Taking Care of Copper Pots

 

October 21st 2014

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

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

Get my recipe for authentic polenta here.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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Tips For Cooking With Terracotta Earthenware

 

October 21st 2014

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

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

5 Earthenware Tips

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

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

Get my recipe for Tuscan Pepper Stew here.

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

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Summer 2013

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A Shabbat Project Breakfast Idea

 

October 20th 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

New Jewish Summer Camp Options for Parents

 

October 20th 2014

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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


 

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

 

October 15th 2014

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

 

 

 

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

Oatmeal Protein Cupcakes

Healthy Green Smoothie

Roasted Grape Breakfast Farro

Soft Boiled Eggs on Toast

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

Granola

Flourless Banana Pancakes

Cinnamon Blueberry Buckwheat Chia Muffins

 

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

Tomato Soup with Egg in a Hole

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Teriyaki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Arugula Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

Grilled Herbed Veggie Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Chicken Mango Salad

Smoked Salmon Olive and Wild Rice Salad

Thai Chicken Salad

 

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

Maple Roasted Smoky Almonds

Baked Root Vegetable Chips with Babaganoush

Kale and Popcorn Medley

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

Whole Wheat Mozzarella and Chive Cheez-Its

Chickpea Snack (try it with za’atar!)

 

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

Fish Tacos

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Blue Marble Quiche

Sautéed Chicken With Leeks, Carrots, Parsnips and Mushrooms

Fresh Carrot and Corn Soup

Mushroom Chow Fun (small portion!)

Bahn Mi Salmon Burger

Black Bean Yellow Pepper and Cumin Chili

Turkey Veggie Meatballs with Panko Crust

Fresh Fig, Carrot, Fennel and Kale Salad

Fall Harvest Soup

Smoked Salmon Waldorf Salad

Apple Compote

Mint Chocolate and Lavender Popcorn

Almond Olive Oil Cake

No-Bake Chocolate Cappuccino Brownies

Banana Chocolate Oatmeal Muffin Top Cookies

 

See more healthy recipes here!

 


 

DIY Passion Fruit Cornucopia and Colada

 

October 15th 2014

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

 

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

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

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

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


 

I Failed Again…

 

October 15th 2014

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I failed.
I did it again.

I didn’t fail because the cookies were dry.

I failed because I said the cookies were dry.

I have been playing around with a whole wheat, olive oil, cinnamon, chocolate chip cookie recipe.

My first batch came out excellent.

So naturally I tried to improve upon excellent.

Note to self, excellent is pretty excellent (as in, excellent enough!).

My second batch came out less than excellent.

Way less than excellent.

In fact they came out so very dry.

Even though I have given the same advice over and over and over again, in person and in print, I simply couldn’t hold myself back.

I always tell you all not to make excuses for your food.  Your guests aren’t critics from the New York Times and don’t know how the recipe was supposed to look or taste.

But I convinced myself this situation was different.  I wasn’t making silly excuses for missing ingredients.

The cookies were dry.

And I needed everyone to know that I knew that.

Really, I didn’t want to serve the cookies.

But since they came out so excellent the first time I only made 108 this time, to keep in batches in the freezer.

So I had to serve them.

Really, because Hubby made me serve them.

Because he is not into wasting food.

And neither am I.

Unless the food is not edible (as in, really dry!).

And so I served the cookies.

But I just needed my guests to know that I knew that the cookies were dry.
And then Hubby called me out saying “you just couldn’t help yourself, could you?!”

Well I had the chance to do full teshuva (the Hebrew word for “return” with the common connotation of repenting for one’s sins but more accurately meaning a return to one’s original state).

I had 25 friends coming for a BBQ.

I had 72 cookies left to serve.

Do you think I was able to keep quiet and serve them with a smile?

*But what do you really  think I should have done?  The cookies were very dry (just reiterating in case you somehow missed that point) and I didn’t want my guests to think I was delusional and thought the cookies were good, especially because I am me.  Thoughts?

 


 

Caviar For Shabbat

 

October 14th 2014

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This article is dedicated to my father, who with out fail, reminds me every three day yom tov to do eruv tavshilin.  Eruv Tavshilin refers to the prepared food that is set aside with a prayer before a yom tov, that allows us to cook and prepare foods on a yom tov for Shabbat when Shabbat is the following day.  This is most often necessary when two days of holiday lead into Shabbat as we have been enjoying this year.  Get all the details of Ervu Tavshilin here and don’t worry if you have forgotten or didn’t know about it before, there are many that allow you to rely on the eruv of the Rabbi in the community who will have everyone in mind.

In my family as I am sure in many it is customary to use a hard boiled egg and challah or matzah for the Eruv.  It is easy to eat the bread at any meal, but no one in my family really likes to sit down to a hard boiled egg, that is how I started to serve Caviar on Shabbat.

Traditionally caviar refers to the fish eggs of specific fish, like beluga, which is not only ridiculously expensive, but also not kosher.  However, caviar can really refer to any type of fish eggs including Salmon roe which many people enjoy in sushi.  Years ago I found a jar of black caviar at the store that was sold for at most three dollars and was kosher.  I knew it was going to be the delicacy people go crazy over, but I figured it would be fun and was well within my budget.  I learned to serve it on a light cracker or blini with chopped egg white, egg yolk and onion.  I didn’t have a mother of pearl spoon, so I used a ceramic spoon and my husband had a blast snacking on caviar and drinking vodka.

Only recently did I try the caviar that Chef David from Prime Grill says is the best Kosher caviar, Bowfin.  While not nearly as expensive as the non kosher stuff, it was at least 10 times the price of my cheap stuff.  It might be worth the splurge now and again, but I am just as happy without it.

Recently I spotted the inexpensive caviar again and brought it home, excited to introduce it to the kids.  After sitting int he cupboard a few months, I finally found the best time to serve it on Rosh Hashanah.  I had my hard boiled egg, I had some crackers and I found a new tradition.  Yes, caviar is high in sodium, but it is also low calorie and noted to be an excellent source of vitamin A, Potassium, Omega 3 fats, and vitamin D.   Still, it is generally enjoyed in small quantities so I wouldn’t get too excited.