Top 5 Jewish Comfort Foods You Should Make this...


February 4th 2015

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We survived January! Don’t listen to the groundhog, because despite whatever snow might be in store the days are only getting longer and you can forget it’s winter by getting a head start on Purim or Pesach planning (okay, maybe not quite yet).  We tend to reach for warming, comforting foods in the dark of winter and even more so on Shabbos when it’s a time to relax to truly enjoy.  Below are the 10 best recipes for 5 of the most famous Jewish comfort foods, since it can be a contentious subject they are not listed in any particular order, we all deserve to choose our own favorite foods!  A lot of people have family recipes from Bubbe, so let us know what you do different to make your classic Jewish foods truly comforting!



Garlic Honey Brisket

Garlic Honey Brisket: Jamie’s go-to, fool-proof brisket recipe that is as delicious as it is simple, or if you’re looking for a more barbecue inspired brisket try the “Overnight” BBQ Beef Brisket.  It’s hard to believe that brisket could be a gal’s best friend, but after tossing it in a marinade just sit back and let it do all the work while you reap the rewards of comforted and fully bellies alongside smiling faces.



Matzo Ball Soup: Otherwise known as Jewish Penicillin, and let me say not a week goes by in the winter when I don’t find a way to get some high-quality homemade matzo ball soup.  As long as you don’t pound them into baseballs, these will always bring comfort, but if someone is not a matzo ball fan try the Wild Rice Chicken Soup.



Geller Family Challah: Possibly the most famous challah recipe out there and even though it calls for a 6 pound bag of flour, you may devour most of it before anyone else realizes how much you made!  If there happens to be extra challah dough, make it into Challah Dough Cinnamon Buns for a warm erev-Shabbos treat.



Potato Kugel: Everyone always fights over the crispy corners, but serve them as individual kugel cups everyone will get their own!  You can also make this without the cups, just be sure to cook it in a glass pyrex, it helps to make it extra crispy.  Another must have is the classic Yerushalmi, or Salt and Pepper Kugel, the salt and pepper are a savory kick that differentiates this kugel from it’s otherwise sweet counterpart, raisin noodle kugel.



Family Heirloom Chulent: If people think post-Thanksgiving meal naps are a sport, then post-cholent Shabbos naps must be the marathon equivalent.  Whether you prefer old fashioned Ashkenazi chulent or are more of the Israeli Hamin fan, both  have an abundant mix of carbs and meats to keep everyone at the table satisfied.


Check out more Shabbos ideas here!



Cooking Portuguese with The Kosher Butcher’s...


February 4th 2015

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Adapted from ‘Cooking the Portuguese way in South Africa’ by Mimi Jardim

November 2014 was the first ever ‘South African Cook Book Awards’. TV cameras, radio personalities and journalists were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner and runners up.


​I’m sure you’ve all had one of those moments​ when you suddenly recognise somebody ‘really famous’ and they’re standing right in front of you in real life, and you think to yourself, there’s no point going up and being that ‘arb nerd’ introducing yourself with some silly statement! Well I had just one of those at that book awards. However, I did manage to push ​my way through the press just to confirm that right there in front of me was Mimi Jardim, Author, cooking teacher, food consultant and ​D​oye​n​ of Portuguese cooking in South A​f​rica. A gentle smile of acknowledgement from her seemed to suffice, until she saw my name tag and acknowledged my books!!!

She had a nurturing warmth where she almost took me under her wing introducing me to the South African Culinary World.  And ​wings I might add are her forte’ as she is the food consultant to Nando​’​s, the international chain of addictive Portugues​e flame grilled Chicken with a kosher franchise here in South Africa and branches opening ​soon in the United States.

​​I couldn’t wait to have her on my radio show and it was no surprise that a personality so warm and real would share all her tips, secrets and recipes for some of the most delicious Portuguese dishes I’ve ever ​made and ​tasted.

My family loves spicy food and just as a bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home, including of course a bay​ ​leaf tree and many chilli bushes in their gardens.

Being the food consultant to Nando​’​s would mean Mimi has made piri piri sauce on a scale from from 1 – 10 in ‘ouch’ factor.

Here is her favourite piri piri sauce.

Mimi’s Piri Piri Sauce

There are dozens of recipes for piri piri sauce. I prefer this very simple one. Piri piri chillies are VERY HOT. Unless you grown your own, they may be bought as dried, whole chillies. If you are using fresh chillies, crush or slice them, place them in a jar or bottle (preferably on with a cork top), add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a small piece of lemon rind, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt. Fill the rest of the bottle with two-thirds mixed olive and cooking oil and one-third vinegar. Cork the bottle and shake once a day. Leave for at least 10 – 15 days before using.

Chicken Mozambique is Portuguese version of Chicken Piri Piri.  My family loves spicy food! A bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home.

To save time while working in the fields, or at large church gatherings (festas), it is the custom in Madeira to skewer chunks of beef on bay sticks and to grill them over glowing coals. In restaurants today, kebabs are served on iron skewers which hang from a rack.

This Kebabs on Bay Tree Sticks recipe is very easy to try at home and it is amazing what an atmosphere it creates. The host offers the bay stick skewers to guests, who help themselves to chunks of meat. (Don’t forget to leave a hand free for the wine.) If you are using iron skewers, throw a few dried bay leaves into the fire – they produce a wonderful aroma. These can also be painted with blob of garlic ‘butter’ just before serving. Garlic ‘butter’ can also be served in a dipping bowl. Chunks of Portuguese bread/rolls can be placed on either side of a piece of meat to help pull it off the stick, then dipped in garlic!

Once you marinate the steak in Mimi Jardim’s Prego Steak Rolls recipe for 3-4 hours, you won’t be able to resist the the juiciness of the meat paired with the crispy Portuguese roll.  Dipping the the roll and steak into the gravy is key and, of course, my favourite is the taste of the bay leaves.


You can easily make Mimi’s Chocolate Salami recipe  your own. I added honeycomb, glaced cherries, baby marshmallow and melted the chocolate chips to replace chocolate powder for a non-dairy alternative. If you like nuts, you can add 1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts to the mixture.


/RECIPE/ Zippy Potato Skins


February 4th 2015

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This weeks review is a little late (so sorry) since I’ve been doing a little bit of travelling. Those of you following me on Instagram will have see the pics I posted of some healthy snack ideas. But back to business, the recipe that I’m going to talk about today is Zippy Potato Skins.

This is a great item for an appetizer to start off your meal or a perfect starchy finger food for a party. When I was mixing up the sour cream and spice mixture I tasted it once it was combined, and seemed like it was lacking salt. But I resisted the urge to add some, I wanted to try the recipe out, at least one time through before I started making changes and adjustments. Well that is, other than the change of not using the hot sauce – sorry Jamie but this family doesn’t like the hot stuff.

Baking the potatoes was very straight forward as was mixing the dipping sauce. Scooping out the flesh was fun, trying to be careful to not go too far and yet making sure I went far enough. But for me the bigger issue was what in the world am I going to do with all that leftover potato… but then finding recipes has never really been a weakness for me so I’m sure I’ll find something!

These served up very well and were absolutely delicious! Everyone loved them! And guess what?!?!? Once the dipping sauce was combined with the salty cheddar cheese it was perfect! Amazingly perfect. I’m sure once you try this recipe your mind will be full of inspirations with more possibilities for the skins. I’ve already been given some ideas for a possible chili, or some kind oftex mex mix. Ok, now I’m making myself hungry again. If you make these be sure to post your picture on instagram and hashtag it #zippypotatoskins


Israeli Inspired Cookies for Tu B’Shevat


February 3rd 2015

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I wanted to create a recipe that was at once inspired by the foods of Israel- fruit, seed and nuts for Tu B’Shvat. The connection to using fruit is so clear- of the four renewal holidays in Judaism, it is all about trees and the fruit they bear at it’s literal essence after all. But many Jewish dishes for this celebration also utilize the Biblical 7 species: wheat, barley, dates or honey, figs, pomegranates, olives and grapes or wine.  I wanted to focus on the contemporary Israel- widely multi-cultural, sophisticated and rich in local food traditions as well. My first thought: tahini. I can’t think of the Middle East, or mizrachi cuisine without it.

Heralded chef Yotam Ottolenghi, in his book Jerusalem with Sami Tamimi, has a great recipe for a tahini cookie – and I have made  it and enjoyed it. There are plenty of tahini cookie  recipes around – Bon Appetit’s Tahini Cookies; David Lebovitz’s Tahini and Almond CookiesMartha Stewart’s Tahini Cookies

(BTW Tamar Genger, Founder and Executive Editor of this website, wrote a great piece about tahini including a bunch of fun recipes found here)



I wanted to make sure my cookie, this cookie, was Tu B’Shvat specific. So it needed fruit. Big time flavor from fruit would be the ticket to making this cookie Tu B’Shavt-y. In terms of Israeli fruits, although Jaffa oranges might come to mind first for most people and perhaps even the prickly skinned sabra fruit, the fruit I associate with Israel is the pomegranate. I ate it there as a child. I was puzzled by the pareils and intrigued by the pungent, complex tart sweetness. Before I could get pomegranate molasses here, in the US, I used to simply reduce pomegranate juice – in and of itself a prized item, so hard to find in days of yore- and made my own. In this cookie I make a pomegranate caramel – sticky, tart and overtly sweet. The cookie dough is spiced and offers  a texture not unlike a good peanut butter cookie. And last but not least, the dough is not cloyingly sweet. And that is intentional. It’s rather European, just a little bit sophisticated  in sweetness. In Europe dough of many sweet treats are often devoid of sugar. My cookie has sugar, but it is just enough to take it right to the edge. These cookies are my 2015 my ode to the trees and plants, grains and fruits of modern Israel, through my American lens.  Enjoy.

Get my full recipe here: Tahini Pomegranate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies


Travel The World Without Leaving Your Kitchen


February 3rd 2015

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So Tamar and her Hubby (and really the entire family) love to travel the world, evidenced by their most recent trip to Bali, which I had to locate on the map, and which took them 3 days and 4 planes to get to.  So I may be exaggerating just a bit about their trek but I believe I am afforded some level of creative license when it comes to proving my point.

I on the other hand, am a real homebody.  I know it seems like I travel a fair amount for work but I do it just for work.  I don’t love flying, or bussing, or training, or boating, or driving for that matter.  I do love walking and hiking but not camping!  I don’t even like to leave the house at night.  I generally only leave for simchas, work and school meetings.

We have begun to travel and explore the whole of Israel.  Check out our trip to the Hermon Ski Resort in the Golan Heights, the City of David in Jerusalem, The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Morad Winery in Yokneam.  This I very much enJOY because Hubby does the driving (everything in Israel is “local” in that it’s just a car ride away) and we are together as a family on somewhat familiar ground.

But I do understand Tamar’s desire to tour and eat her way around the world (although I am not sure she would quite put it like that).  I just prefer traveling without leaving my kitchen.

Here are some wonderfully exotic, world inspired recipes  – thanks to the help of some of my friends – that you can recreate from the comfort of your kitchen.

See Tamar – I do get out some… or at least my friends do!


English Summer Pudding Cake

“English Summer pudding cakes are classic molded desserts that alternate layers of cake or bread, fruit and custard. It is a classic British dessert that is somehow a cross between a cake and a pie. It is best to use fresh fruit and is great way to use the fruits of Summer when they are plentiful. Frozen fruits work great though and make the recipe even easier to make any time of year. This dessert is deceptively easy. It looks so gorgeous, but you don’t even need a measuring cup to get this right. All you need is a nice mold, I used a flower pot and some patience, it has to set for at least 12 hours. Oh, you can wait. The best part of this recipe is you don’t need a measuring cup.”  – Iton Ochel

Click here for 107 more English and Irish recipes.


Swiss Chard Tart

Swiss Chard, Pear & Gruyère Tart

“One of my favorite lunches is a savory tart accompanied by a green salad. A few years ago, I spent several weeks working on a pastry assignment in Cascais, a small seaside town outside of Lisbon, Portugal. It was a quaint beach town with cobblestone streets and outdoor cafés that catered to the many tourists who flooded the town in the summer. Tucked away on a side street was an eclectic French café that served incredible lunches. The menu, which changed daily, was mostly composed of savory tarts, tartines, and salads. It soon became my hangout spot and to this day is the inspiration for many of the savory tarts I make.“ – Aran Goyoaga

Click here  for 292 more French recipes.


Sauerbraten – Classic Roast Beef with Apples and Raisins

“Classic German roast, my mom’s favorite for special occasions and holidays. I love to prepare it for Rosh Hashanah with apples, raisins and dried fruit like apples, apricots and figs that add a wonderful aroma and flavor to the meat. It’s a sweet and sour flavor, and the meat is so tender after being marinated for 3 days. If you don’t have enough time, at least try to marinate for a day.” – Tom Franz

Click here for more 17 more German recipes.



“Polenta has been eaten in Northern Italy for at least 3,000 years! It was initially made with spelt; once the Venetians introduced maize after the discovery of America, it became the ingredient of choice. If you have only tried the instant version, you need to upgrade to the real thing! Polenta tastes wonderful when served with either earthy stews or flavorful cheeses and stewed mushrooms.” – Alessandra Rovati

Click her for 569 more Italian recipes.


Slow Cooker Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

“A Louisianne Creole dish of Spanish and Fench influence… Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meat and vegetables and is completed by adding stock and rice.” – Wikipedia

Click here for 8 more Cajun and Creole recipes.


chicken filled brik

Moroccan Chicken-Filled Brik

With Saffron Orange Honey Brik is the North African version of the boreka, typically consisting of a thin dough around a filling and usually deep fried.

Click here for 58 more Moroccan recipes.


Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

The archipelago of The Canary Islands, though just off the coast of Africa, is officially part of Spain. The islands would be the last stop ships made on their way to The New World, and the first stop on their way back. This meat dish originated there and made its way to both Spain and Latin America.

Click here for 79 more Spanish recipes.


Teriayki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

Teriyaki Beef Banh Mi with Sesame Cucumber Salad

This tasty meal is a take on a traditional Vietnamese sandwich and a great way to use leftover beef you grilled the night before. If you don’t have any leftovers, simply grill skirt steak or flank steak marinated in teriyaki sauce and cool completely. This sandwich would be great with rotisserie chicken as well!

Click here for 406 more Asian recipes.

Now if only I could have earned frequent flier miles for all of that!



Cooking A Balinese Feast


February 2nd 2015

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On my recent vacation in Bali, I relaxed, shopped, went to the spa, made jewelry and learned to cook.

The Caraway Cooking Class teaches all kinds of cooking classes and is located near Nusa Dua in Bali.  That is where I learned to make my own spring rolls, use a mortar and pestle, wrap food in a banana leaf and make spicy sambal.

After the vegetarian cooking class I had the chance to meet up with Chef Kardino Zulhaidi, the head chef at the Conrad in Bali.  He has traveled the world, but recently came back to his birthplace, Bali.  The chef explained that the cuisine throughout Indonesia varies by the region and Balinese food stands on its own.  While Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng, fried noodles and rice, are traditional Indonesian dishes, they are not really Balinese.  He said that Bali cuisines is more fresh, lighter food.

Is it just me or is it really only a vacation when you get to drink out of a fresh coconut?  In Bali they don’t really use coconut milk to cook with, but they do enjoy drinking and eating them fresh.

Through my research I discovered that almost every Balinese recipe calls for shrimp paste.  There is really no substitute so for my kosher versions I just left it out.  I also adapted some of the ingredients to things I could easily  find in the U.S., for example we don’t have three kinds of ginger readily available anywhere by me and while I was able to get my hands on some Keffir lime leaves thanks to a friend, they are not easy to come by.  Taking into account these limitations, I tried all these recipes at home and still think they are flavorful and I highly recommend them.

I asked the chef to share some of his favorite most quintessential Balinese recipes.  I passed on the suckling pig, I didn’t think that was adaptable, but these kebabs grilled on lemon grass stalks sounded amazing.  He recommended them using ground chicken or even fish.  The lemon grass sure imparts flavor, but if you can’t find them any skewers will do.  The real trick in all these recipes is making the spice paste.  Get my recipe for Sate Lilit.

The other recipe the chef shared was for Chicken Betutu.  He says this dish is often made for special occasions with duck, but chicken can be used too, which is what I made.  I happen to get lucky and find banana leaves at a local ethnic market to wrap the chicken in, but you can always use parchment paper.  The wrapping and baking gave the chicken an almost smoked like flavor, that along with the amazing spice blend was a chicken to remember.  You can probably make wrapped individual chicken pieces too.

The next set of recipes I learned in the vegetarian cooking class, I even got a cute little video to help me remember and you learn how to make your own spring roll wrappers. I didn’t share all the recipes, because some are hard to replicate here.

After you watch, get the full recipe for Spring Rolls here.

This salad was actually made with shaved raw eggplant, cabbage, bean sprouts and a peanut paste for the dressing.  They call it Karedok, get the recipe.

I also learned to make a few sambal dips, spicy sauces, but the only one I have perfected is the spicy sambal ketchup.  I am working not he others and will share more as I have them.


Eat, Stay and Love in Bali


February 2nd 2015

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The sun was setting over the Indian Ocean at the Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa.  The sky a mix of red, yellow, orange, purple and blue – like a box of crayons spilled across the sky.  The 21 hour, two stopover marathon flight from JFK was most certainly worth it for this moment.

If you’ve never been to Bali, it’s about time to add this beautiful island to your bucket list.  The people are incredibly friendly, greeting the weary traveler with the warmest of smiles.  Our driver, Nyoman, was a walking encyclopedia of Balinese culture, traditions and traffic avoidance techniques that would have made the late Steve McQueen proud.

Full disclosure, Balinese food poses some challenges for the kosher traveler.  This is one destination where even Chabad has not yet settled (see below for info on Shabbat and holiday kosher meals) for the most part if you are looking for kosher food you need to either bring your own or hire a personal chef or live on fruit, vegetables and wrapped fish for the week and lots of the most amazing coffee.

If you are stuck with produce and fish, I promise you won’t be disappointed.  I enjoyed some of the most colorful and flavorful fruits and vegetables I’ve ever had in my life and the fish I enjoyed was so fresh it went from swimming to saucepan in less than a minute.  With a little advance planning most kitchens are able to accommodate requests for double wrapping or work with pans, knives or other utensils provided by guests who take the time to ask politely or have the hotel concierge make arrangements in advance.

What to Do

Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali, popularized by Julia Roberts, in “Eat, Pray, Love.”  It is a verdant stretch of rice fields, ravines and rivers surrounded by magnificent villas (many of which are available to rent) and excellent shopping and diverse dining options, including a few vegetarian restaurants.  The Hindu religious traditions run deep in Bali, and nowhere more so than in Ubud, where temples and other holy sites are everywhere.

We attended a traditional Legong and Barong Waksirsa dance performance, visited several temples, frolicked with monkeys at the Ubud Monkey Forest and toured an organic coffee plantation.  I even tried my hand at jewelry making at Chez Monique Silvermaking Class and made a pair of earrings for my daughter and mother-in-law.

For upscale entertainment, shopping and nightlife, Seminyak is the place.  Although bordered by Kuta and Legian which cater to a more rowdy, younger crowd of mostly Australians, Seminyak has a decidedly Hampton’s vibe.  In addition to dozens of boutique fashion and furniture stores, world-class DJs are choosing Bali and we got to spend a few hours at Mirror, one of the newest and poshest clubs on the island, where people dressed to impress and drink prices rivaled Manhattan.

Nusa Dua is one of the nicer, more family friendly beaches in Bali and is dotted with many resorts, shopping excursions and activities, including a wonderful vegetarian cooking class and food market tour at the Caraway Cooking School just 20 minutes away by car.

A far cry from Miami or the Jersey Shore, the sands of Nusa Dua are immaculate and the locals are very friendly – you will get asked for massages or water sports excursions, but  a gentle “no, thank you” is all that is necessary.  Nusa Dua is conveniently located near Jimbaran Bay where the aforementioned sunset puts on a daily show and if you like sunrises, Nusa Dua offers an unobstructed view each morning.  Modah Ani indeed!

Where to Stay

We spent most of our vacation at the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, a magnificent five-star resort in Nusa Dua.  Jean-Sébastien and Agung ensured our winter vacation was every bit as luxurious and romantic as our honeymoon.  The Conrad suites offered exclusive access to an adults-only swimming area, complimentary nightly cocktails and a room that rivaled our New York City apartment for size and far exceeded for luxury, with two (!) balconies boasting ocean views.

The Conrad Bali host water sports on premises right outside their meticulously manicured private beach and there was nightly Balinese dance performances and an array of family-friendly programming for small children so parents can enjoy some alone time.   There was ample lounge chairs around the largest pool I’ve ever seen and even when the hotel was at full capacity, it amazingly felt like a boutique with a staff to guest ratio that ensured that towels and sundries and daiquiris arrived in the blink of an eye.

For those seeking additional pampering, the Jiwa Spa was a wonderful place to begin and end our trip and right outside the hotel gates the Jari Menari spa delivered the best massage I ever had.

Final Thoughts

In all, Bali offers affordable luxury in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It beats to its own unique sound, a rhythm much different than the cacophony of honking horns and flashing lights in New York City.

In a companion article, I will be sharing some traditional Balinese recipes I learned while I was on vacation and a few recipes I adapted to kosher gratefully contributed by the new executive chef at the Conrad Bali.

Finally, not to be left behind is the incredible coffee culture I found in Bali.  If you love good coffee you will have some fun anywhere you go in Bali. From Luwak coffee, the prized coffee that is harvested from animal poop, to the many roasters around the island, I did not drink a bad cup my whole trip.

Note: Villa Shana Tova offers some holiday and Shabbat kosher meals by donation, for more information email [email protected]



Vietnamese Naames Spring Rolls


January 30th 2015

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Posted 01/30/2015 by ITONOCHEL

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Street Food Recipes From Around the World


January 30th 2015

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You are sitting at home imagining yourself traveling from country to country. Whether it is Thailand, Korea, Japan, India or Vietnam. You occasionally stop to purchase a hotel or house, or sometimes just stop to think “imagine if I was in…”

Many of us have already visited Asia but we are not referring to just the countries, we are referring to the different kitchens and culinary inspirations.

The smell of this Basil Chicken cooking will guide you to the kitchens of Thailand. Every bite is filled with  the spice of the chili pepper and the sweet taste of basil.

Pad Thai is a common street food in Thailand and according to a poll it is number 5 on a list of the World’s 50 most delicious foods. This Pad Thai in Sweet Sauce is easy to make and deliciously flavourful.

There is nothing like this crispy Vietnamese Naames Spring Rolls. After the initial crunch, the combination of all of the fresh herbs and the tamarind sauce make for a very tasty experience.

Although samosas can be filled with many different ingredients, Indian samosas are generally vegetarian and are served with mint sauce or chutney. These Vegetarian Samosas with a Mango Cilantro Chutney will fly your senses all the way to India so don’t forget to pack a bag!


Vegetarian Samosas with a Mango Cilantro Chutney


January 30th 2015

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Posted 01/30/2015 by ITONOCHEL

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Late Winter/Purim 2015


January 29th 2015

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Check out our latest issue with recipes for Purim inspired Challah, edible gifts, Hamantaschen Galette, Duck 4 ways, Whole Roasted Fish, DIY Whole Grain Pita, Salted caramel, 3 ingredient soups, Chef wars: Quinoa and so much more. Subscribe at


In The JOK Kitchen With Allergy Free Cooking ...


January 29th 2015

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Special diets due to allergies are seen more and more these days and Jenna Short is no stranger to allergies. Trained as a graphic designer, Jenna discovered a dairy allergy after eating her way through Italy – which you’ll hear more about later. Although finding out you have an allergy can be difficult, Jenna turned her discovery into a business venture. After some experimentation with cooking, she opened up her boutique catering company called ShortbreadNYC, and recently came out with a new cookbook, Cooking Allergy-Free, where every recipe comes with notes for specific allergies and how to adjust most to fit any diet.

You founded ShortbreadNYC a boutique catering company – what does that mean and why did you start it?
Shortbreadnyc is a boutique events company that suits challenging palettes by focusing on gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, Kosher and everything in between. Shortbreadnyc rose from a place of my own necessity being allergic to dairy I felt that it was a growing problem that was not shy of the events world. We cater to small and unique events and customize everything down to the invitations, designs and cake. Because of our attention to detail we like to keep our events at a small scale in order to be able to give our customers the attention and care they deserve.


What is your history of allergies or how did you get into cooking allergy free?
While majoring in graphic design at the Art Institute of Boston, I spent a semester abroad eating my way through Italy—quite literally! Upon my return, I discovered that not only had I gained 60 pounds but also had become allergic to dairy in the process. Because of my new-found allergy and my vast love of food, I decided to add some of my creativity from graphics to cooking, all with the idea that I—and anyone with a dietary restriction—deserved delicious food regardless of an allergy. Thus began my journey as a foodie, chef, and baker.

We gets lots of requests for gluten free recipes for a family member or guest – what suggestions do you have for those people?
MY BOOK! Ha, but seriously my book is a great crowd pleaser. All of the recipes in the book are “normal” but each recipe teaches you how to adapt it to suit all of your family members’ needs, and will ultimately teach them how to apply the same techniques to their own beloved recipes they used to use.

I can see many of the flavors of Israel and the Mediterranean in your cookbook, what inspired your recipe selection?
I have been living in Israel for the past 3 years and am continuously inspired by the incredible food scene here. Not only is it an up in coming “foodie” destination, but they use only fresh and local ingredients that truly contribute to the quality of any meal. Most, if not all of the “Mediterranean” recipe in the book were taught to me by friends or friends mothers who hold the secrets to cuisine from that side of the world. One of the cool things about Israeli culture is that most people are from the surrounding countries which really lend to an eclectic culinary experience.


Any advice for busy moms looking to get dinner on the table every night?
Buy a crockpot! …All-Clad if you must know… It saves me every time. I throw together whatever I have in the fridge in the morning, sometimes premeditated- but sometimes not, and when dinner rolls along and another day swooshes by with seemingly having “done nothing” AGAIN…at least I can serve a hot and delicious meal to my family. Several of the recipes from my book are crock pot friendly, my two favorites are the Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken and the Coffee-Glazed Braised Beef.

Thanks to Jenna for that great advice about the crockpot. I have to second that! Check out these recipes from her cookbook and then enter below to WIN your own copy:

Barley, Asparagus, and Mushroom Salad Topped with Gingered Tofu
Lamb Shawarma with Pomegranate-Mint Salsa
Sesame Tuna with Ginger-Miso Dipping Sauce
Basic Baguette

***Giveaway***  Win a copy of Cooking Allergy Free by commenting below and then getting more chances with rafflecopter.

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10 Recipes to Help Escape the Winter


January 28th 2015

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At this moment I am questioning my life choices, I am enjoying a refreshing mango popsicle despite the fact that today was supposed to be day-two of the snow-pocalypse that turned out to be little more than a normal winter storm.  Tomorrow morning I won’t be able to escape a slippery-sliding trip to the subway on my way to work, but for now I can dream of recipes that will convince me that I have escaped to a warmer climate.



Wings are my idea summer go-to, anytime I get to try a different type of buffalo wing I am one happy camper.  For the adventurous there’s the Strawberry Jalapeño BBQ Chicken Wings.  If you like something with minimal prep time, go for the Slow Cooker Mole Chicken Wings which take so little work for such a delicious result.  And if you’re looking for an update on a classic recipe, try the Buffalo Turkey Wings with Non Dairy Ranch.



Soup may not be the first thing that crosses one’s mind when they think “paradise”, but to each their own.  Spicy soup is always welcome in my home, no matter what the weather, the spice helps put the life back into things.  Fish Soup and Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup are both loaded with flavor and healthy ingredients to keep your energy up despite whatever weather you may have to face.  Or try a stew such as the Brazilian Feijoada to transport you the colorful (and warm!) streets of Brazil.



What’s that you say..paradise requires a drink in hand?  Have no fear, a cold, hard drink provides for a delightful escape in any and all temperatures.  Have some fun with a Pomegranate Cosmo, a Fall Bourbon Cocktail or a Cider Rye Cocktail.


How To Celebrate a Tu b’Shevat Seder


January 28th 2015

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Tu b’Shevat is one of these hidden minor holidays, which haven’t gotten much attention until the last few decades. It is kind of a New Age, cutting age type of holiday with no ‘don’ts’ and not even any specific must ‘dos.’ If you are looking for spiritual renewal through mystical teachings, meditational practice and conscious mindful eating, then Tu b’Shevat has much to offer.

On Tu b’Shevat, the sap in the tree begins to flow once again to revitalize the tree. The secret of Tu b’Shevat gently whispers; “when everything looks dead, dark and murky, life, light and glory is hiding just below the surface.” The time when nothing seems to be happening on the outside is the beginning of the richest inner life. Tu b’Shevat begins a period of renewal for the individual and the community. On Tu b’Shevat we can tune into the redemption of spring. Even though we may be experiencing the winter of exile in both personal and collective stage of our lives on the outside, a new life force begins to emerge within our souls on the inside.

Tu b’Shevat – Celebrating the Fruits of the Land of Israel
Another reason why Tu b’Shevat is one of my favorite holidays is that it connects us to the fruits of the Land. The Torah singles out Seven Species through which the Land of Israel is praised:

“For Hashem your G-d is bringing you into a good land, a land of streams,
of wellsprings and underground waters that spring out of valleys and
hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates;
a land of olive oil and honey… You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless
Hashem your G-d for the good land that He has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:9–10)

These Species are especially suited to the climate of the Land of Israel and grow abundantly even without additional irrigation. When blessing G*d for our food, the Seven Species take precedence. Even if you currently live outside of the Holy Land, one way to connect yourself to the Land of Israel is by partaking from these Seven Species especially on Tu b’Shevat.

The Tu b’Shvat Seder
The Tu b’Shevat Seder celebrates our yearning to return to the Land of Israel. The students of the Holy Arizal (Rabbi Isaac Luria in the 16th century, Sefad) compiled a Tu b’Shevat Seder somewhat similar to the Seder for Passover. It involves appreciating the fruits of the tree, particularly those native to the Land of Israel. The Tu b’Shevat Seder is based primarily on Kabbalistic sources. Since the order and the contents of the Seder do not follow specific Jewish law, there is much room for flexibility and creativity for each of you to conduct the Seder in your own way.

Practical Guidelines for Conducting a TubShevat Seder
The Tu b’Shevat Fruit Seder facilitates partaking of the fruits of the Land in a mindful way, enjoying their colors, textures and tastes, while praising Hashem for the fruits with intentional blessings. For more than 30 years the special Tu b’Shevat Fruit Seder, which I enjoy with students, family and friends, is the centerpiece of my Tu b’Shevat celebration.

I recommend setting aside at least two hours to run a meaningful Tu b’Shevat Seder with enough time to share and discuss Torah about each of the fruits. Set your Tu b’Shevat table with four fruit platters arranged according to the Four Worlds. You can invite each of the participants to bring one kind of fruit and share insights about it. Be creative! You may decorate your table with fragrant flowers. Include songs and meditations of your choice between each of the sequences. Just as Passover is accompanied by the Hagadah, we have produced a Tu b’Shevat Seder Text, which includes texts with verses from the Bible and passages from the Oral Torah describing the various fruits. I included our beautifully illustrated Tu b’Shevat Hagaddah in my book, The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel where I also included additional teachings about the hidden holiday of Tu b’Shevat.

Try my recipes for

Walnut Olive Dip

Pomegranate Carrot Salad

Raisin Carob Truffles