How To Serve Your Own Grilled Cheese Bar


May 8th 2015

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First off, I want to make one thing very clear: Nothing beats white bread with American cheese and ketchup, slowly panfried in a pan with butter. The bread takes on a golden brown color and the cheese melts together with the sweet acidic ketchup and forms the perfect bite. But…

Unfortunately for me, I can’t really put that sandwich on our tasting menu (our customers expect something a bit more glamorous) so we had to think about grilled cheese a bit out of the box, and came up with the famous ‘Epic Bites Grilled Cheese Bar.’ This is the ultimate grilled cheese experience and popular party menu.

There are hundreds of variations you can choose from when making grilled cheese, but unlimited varieties can get confusing so we like to offer a choice of 6.

Here are our favorite 6 to help you create the Ultimate Grilled Cheese Bar:

Classic Grilled Cheese

1. The Classic Grilled Cheese is probably my favorite (if it wasn’t clear from my first sentence, I like the simple flavors of bread and gooey cheese) and is made with our homemade cheese slice on Sourdough Pullman. A Pullman looks  like an ordinary loaf of white bread, but since it’s made with sourdough it has an elevated flavor.

Wild Mushroom Grilled Cheese

2. Wild Mushroom Grilled Cheese (AKA Expensive) is the most popular sandwich at our events. This sandwich starts with our Mushroom Conserva which is a blend of local wild mushrooms (maitake, chantrelles, hedgehogs) and more conventional types (crimini, white button) that are slowly cooked in oil with loads of fresh herbs and garlic, then acidulated with vinegar and allowed to cool. This condiment is great on everything and is a staple in our kitchen.

More: 2 Grilled Cheese Recipes Including Classic and Light

Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Grilled Sandwich

3. Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Grilled Sandwich is the perfect “no-cow” sandwich (as we call it here at Epic Bites Catering). You may never have thought to make your own fig jam, but this recipe is very easy and tastes amazing. The smooth goat cheese and crusty bread (of your choice of course) pair perfectly with the homemade jam. You may want to double or even triple the jam recipe. Yes, it’s really that good!

4. Smoked Ricotta and Red Pepper Mostarda With Fresh Mozzarella Grilled Cheese is the specialty sandwich I try to get as many people as possible to try. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, smoky, and savory. We cold-smoke ricotta (or you can cheat and add some smoked salt to it, REAL SMOKED SALT) then layer it on Ciabatta (or focaccia) with fresh mozzarella and a healthy dose of Red Pepper Mostarda.

5. Our Avocado and Sweet Thai Chilli Grilled Cheese is a surprising combination of avocado, cheddar and sweet Thai chilli sauce. The sweet Thai chilli sauce is smeared on the bread and adds a sweet tangy taste to the sandwich. When the cheese melts and the avocado heats up the delicious combination of flavors truly blooms in your mouth.

More: Grilled Cheese Gadgets


Grilled Vegetable with Pesto Sandwich

6. The final grilled sandwich is our Grilled Vegetables With Pesto Sandwich, which is our vegan specialty. You can use any vegetables that you like to grill. Be creative! We usually use zucchini and eggplant, but branch out to asparagus, peppers or even carrots.

A few more tips:

1. Types of Bread – We used a combination of baguettes (best for pesto grilled vegetables), basic white (avocado/cheddar/chili), and rye bread (most versatile) for our grilled cheese.

2. The secret weapon – The secret to a crispy grilled cheese is to forgo the butter and oil and use mayo instead. Mayo is an emulsified fat so it tends to give you a nice crust without getting greasy. Apply generously to the bread.

3. The equipment – Don’t have a $500 Panini grill? Use a sauté pan over medium heat or an affordable grilled cheese press.

This article was written by Chef Isaac Bernstein.


As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

May/June 2014

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Cooking With Joy: Dairy Sticky Buns and Orange...


May 7th 2015

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Last Shavuos I went all out Joy of Kosher style.  I made two types of cinnamon buns and a cheesecake! Shavuos is only 2 day!! What was I thinking?!? After looking at everything that I had baked, I realized it was WAY too much for our family to eat alone and so I decided to have an impromptu Kiddush. Everything tastes better when enjoyed with friends!

Dairy Sticky Buns

Gooey Pecan Sticky Buns p.344

The recipe for the Dairy Sticky Buns calls for pecans, although I left them out since Hubs and the kids wouldn’t have eaten them had I put them in. I realize now, after the fact, that the saltiness of the nuts is essential for the recipe, because the pecans are needed to cut the sweetness of the “Sticky Goo”. I’ll remember to include them next time.

Hubs and I each had one and enjoyed them very much! One was enough to get all the sticky sweet yumminess. Our friends however felt differently. One of the guests ate four all by himself! I guess he liked them.

Orange Scented Cheesecake p.305
DRESS IT UP Candied Orange Cheesecake

The Orange Scented Cheesecake did not go over as well though. I was really disappointed, because I really LOVE cheesecake. Everyone at the table had the same comments: “great consistency, the crust was to die for, but the cake itself needed more flavor”. My friends and I agreed that it needed vanilla and a little more sugar. Like all the recipes that came before it, making the cheesecake was a learning experience and I am still glad I made it.

I can’t wait to figure out what I’ll be making this Shavuos!!

Note: This blog series, Cooking With Joy, is meant to be a companion to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cookbook.  Most of the full recipes are only available in the cookbook.


A Cheesecake Roundup For Shavuot


May 6th 2015

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It feels like Passover just ended, but we celebrate 33 days tonight with Lag Baomer and that means Shavuot is only a few weeks away!!

That means it’s about time to start thinking about what you are going to cook.

The tradition is to eat dairy on Shavuot and we have almost 2,000 dairy recipes for you to browse that it is difficult to choose, but no Shavuot is complete without:

Cheesecake.  Cheesecake comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors.  Here are 6 favorites to help you narrow things down. Feel free to test them out before the holiday and don’t forget to let us know how they turned out in the comments below.

Pareve Snickers Cheesecake

Parve Snickers Cheesecake


You’re starting with a parve cheesecake?  Heaven forbid!!

This Parve Snickers Cheesecake is so delicious whether you keep it parve or make it dairy it deserved first placement.  It comes out amazing every time and also keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. When you take it out, just drizzle on the caramel and chocolate and top with peanuts and voila!!

Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes

Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes

These Mini Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecakes look pretty and they taste even better. The raspberry preserve adds a tart, yet sweet twist to the delicious cheesecake and the fresh raspberry on top is the perfect touch. They are also perfect for a big group, because who doesn’t like their own personal cheesecake!

More: A Step by Step Guide To Make The Perfect Cheesecake

strawberry parfait

Strawberry ‘Cheesecake’ Parfait

Although not a traditional cheesecake, our Strawberry ‘Cheesecake’ Parfait is another personal dessert that people love. It is no bake and the strawberries, cream cheese and whip cream are the perfect combination. It looks beautiful in any glass, but mix it up and try different shapes and sizes.

Low-Fat Lemon Cheesecake

Low-Fat Lemon Cheesecake

Not many people think low-fat when it comes to Shavuot, but this Low-Fat Lemon Cheesecake will change your mind. With 10 servings per recipe and only 196 calories per serving this cheesecake has the delicious taste of tart lemon and a great creamy texture.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

Although this Cookie Dough Cheesecake with Milk Chocolate Ganache recipe takes a bit more work it is definitely worth a try. It has three layers, brownie crust, cookie dough and cheesecake, and a milk chocolate ganache layer on top. Every bite is better than the next!!

More: No Bake Desserts

Basic Cheesecake

Basic Cheesecake

A cheesecake roundup wouldn’t be complete without a basic cheesecake recipe. This recipe isn’t too difficult and you can can add any flavor to the cream cheese or even spices to the graham cracker crust if you would like to make it your own.

There you go:

6 delicious and diverse cheesecake recipes perfect for Shavuot!! For more cheesecake recipes browse over 50.


Mother’s Day Brunch White Bread Recipes


May 6th 2015

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You know what gets really under appreciated? White bread.

I’m talking about the classic wonder bread-like white bread that used to house our peanut butter and jelly and melty cheeses at school.

What happened to being the greatest thing since sliced bread?

The greatest thing since French baguette doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Now that everything has gotten all fancy and grown up, white sandwich bread in the supermarket aisle gets an upturned nose for having preservatives and all sorts of other bad stuff that taste good. All the multigrain and I-only-last-a-day-before-you-can-turn-me-to-breadcrumbs breads are getting all the love.

But in reality, white bread has held our hands all throughout our childhood. It supported our growth and was always there when we were feeling sad no matter what we threw on it. It was soft and cuddly and made you feel nice. Kind of like your mom who is always there for you no matter what and is always super underappreciated? That’s why I implore you to use this mothers day as an opportunity to say to your mom, Mom I love you like I love white bread.

There will always be a very large place in my heart for you. And just to make sure she understands how much that really means, here’s a couple of recipes upside of awesome to make for your mom on Mothers Day proving just that! It will make giving your mom the best Mother’s Day the yeast of your worries. (Hang on, its about to get punny in here.)

Nothing says I Loaf You like:

Crème Brule French Toast Roll Ups with Nutella

You’re the best thing since Sliced Bread Crème Brule French-Toast Roll Ups with Hazelnut Filling

It’s like French toast, crème brulee and nutella all rolled into one gorgeous little package. If this isn’t the way to your mother’s heart I don’t know what is.

nest eggs in a hole

Hole in my Hearts Egg-in-Toast

This recipe comes from way back in my childhood when my dad used to make us breakfasts on weekends. It was always a special treat and the best part was dipping the toasty corners and extra little middle toast into the runny yolk.

over stuffed bread pudding

“You’ve Always Made Sure I Was” Over Stuffed Bread Pudding

This recipe has everything in it, like an indecisive 7 year old’s ice cream sundae. It’s a great way of showing your mom that no matter how old she gets she still looks young. “Like really young Ma, you could be my sister.” Use your extra bread odds and ends for making this recipe! The fillings I used are just suggestions. Don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with your own ideas for stuffing and toppings!

Mother's Day Smothie with Strawberries

I Knead You Thick Fruit Smoothie

Using dry bread to thicken soups is an age-old trick; why not apply the same thing to  a smoothie? This is a great smoothie for those of you who love a thick smoothie mustache but hate bananas. Feel free to get a little fancy-dancy and spike the smoothie with some white wine or sparkly champagne.

I know what you’re thinking… you’re so sick of bread jokes one more and your toast… wah wah….


Celebrate Mother’s Day With A Cook-off


May 5th 2015

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We haven’t gone out to a restaurant on Mother’s Day in years. I can’t handle the crowds, the rushed service, the same old tired food. And frankly, now that we have 5 grandchildren, we also don’t want to make them wait and – perhaps – become restless and cranky, which only makes it more stressful for us (and everyone else in the restaurant).

It’s just easier at home.

I don’t mind cooking. It’s more relaxing than the restaurant scene. My daughters and sons-in-law also like to cook. My husband likes to pour the wine and make the drinks. So we have Mother’s Day at my house with a cook-off every year. We choose a theme: one year it was chocolate chip cookies, one year burgers, another year pasta with red sauce. Like that.

Each participant (it could be one of them or a couple together) tells me in advance what ingredients he or she needs (the actual recipes remain a secret) and I do the shopping. We get busy early afternoon and a few hours later (and a few glasses of something alcoholic) we are all happy and ready to eat.

All the recipes are different, so everyone is bound to find a dish they like, even the picky eaters. And everyone is a winner. First prize for most creative. First prize for most visually appealing. First prize for most comforting. Like that.

This year I’m thinking – maybe we’ll have a chicken wings cook-off.  Or maybe grilled cheese (I’m also thinking that my grandson Zev, now age 14, may want to take part in the festivities and do some cooking and he doesn’t eat chicken). We have to have a family vote. Whichever we do, I’ll provide the side dishes and salad, plus dessert. Ed will be in charge of the beverages.

My kitchen is always a mess at the end of one of these cook-offs (then again, after the kids and grandkids visit it’s always a mess). But honestly, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

If we decide on chicken wings or grilled cheese, these are the recipes I’ll cook.

Hot and Spicy Wings

My Hot and Spicy Wings are always a hit. The Sriracha sauce gives the wings a perfect spicy kick.

Grilled Cheese

There are never leftovers of my crispy and gooey Grilled Goat Cheese Panini with Charmoula Dressing. The recipe is easy and designed for one serving but you can make as many as you would like.


A Loving Mother’s Day Brunch Menu


May 5th 2015

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When I think of a description for Mom’s around the world, I think of “loving” and when I think of what kind of food and what kind of menu to create “loving” is there again.  Isn’t there an old saying that the reason Mom’s food tastes better is because she made it with love?  Even if your mother doesn’t show her affection with tons of hugs and kisses and traditional signs of love, I know there is love behind all her actions.  In honor of all the loving Mother’s and everyone planning a Brunch to celebrate Mom, this menu is for you.

Double Espresso Hot Chocolate

Instead of the regular morning coffee, try something a bit more decadent, with a shot of Double Espresso Liqueur for an extra dose of love.  This Hot Chocolate will surely start the Brunch on the right track or you can save it for dessert and start with a Mango Bellini.

Kale Potato Hash with Fried Egg

For the main coarse consider going with this Kale and Potato Hash with Fried Egg, easy to make, includes some greens and tastes delicious.  If you are more of a frittata or quick person try this Asparagus and Cheese Frittata and serve with roast potatoes or go lighter with roast cauliflower.


Send her off to get a massage with my favorite Cranberry White Chocolate Scones, but you can fill them with her favorites, dark chocolate and pecan is my second fave.  They can really be made quick and easy, but if you are more comfortable with muffins, try Chocolate Banana Muffins.

Finally, the most important part about making Brunch for Mom is keeping the kitchen clean!!!  Even if you have your mom coming to you, the husbands and kids are in charge of cooking and cleaning on Mother’s Day.

Main Image is a Potato and Cheddar Frittata


4 Sizzling Hot Dog Topping Ideas


April 30th 2015

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Lag B’Omer is almost here, and it’s time to get into that BBQ mindset. As a child, I’ve always put the 3 classic condiments on my hotdog: ketchup, mustard and relish. This year I decided to go off the well traveled dog path and transform the simple hot dog in a bun to ‘The Ultimate Dog’. I couldn’t decide on just one recipe so I’ve created FOUR fun and fresh recipes to tempt each and every one of you.

Hot Dog with Mushroom and Onion Topping

Hot Dog with Sautéed Mushrooms and Onions

You can do no harm when adding mushrooms and onions to a hot dog. This recipe is quick, easy and extremely flavorful. The aroma of the sautéed onions will leave your mouth watering and keep you going back for seconds. Top your hot dog off with some yellow mustard to give your meal some extra color and taste.

California Dog - Alfalfa Topped Hot Dog

California Dog

Born and raised in Los Angeles, I felt inspired to create a hot dog that was symbolic of my hometown. I decided to create a recipe using fresh and healthy ingredients ranging from guacamole to alfalfa sprouts. For some extra kick and a half, add Sriracha to taste. This is the perfect recipe for anyone that wants to make this an extra HOT Lag B’Omer even without a fire!

Sausage wrapped with Turkey bacon and topped with avocado and crispy onions

Hot Dog or Sausage Topped with Turkey Bacon, Avocado and Crispy Onions

Meat on meat…that’s right. As a carnivore lover, this hot dog is everything I can dream of that fits in a bun. Hot dogs are great, but what’s even better IMO is sausage. My thought process was the following: If I’m already replacing the hot dog for sausage then I might as well add some turkey bacon. Okay, fine. Maybe the two thoughts don’t click, but one bite into this sausage dog and you’ll understand exactly what I mean. The savory sausage, with the salty bacon dipped in chipotle mustard will have your taste buds thanking you.

Hot Dog topped with Asian Slaw

Hot Dog topped with Asian Slaw

My Slaw Dog.  Usually I like coleslaw accompanying my hot dog, but this time I decided to take a risk and mix the two together. The scallions will add a sharp flavor to your dog, while the ramen noodles will give you that extra crunch you’ve been waiting for. Adding an Asian sesame dressing will give your hot dog some sweetness and tang.

Hot Dog Topper Sampler - check out all 4 recipes for amazing ideas for your next BBQ bash


Cooking with Joy: BBQ Short Rib Sandwich With...


April 30th 2015

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Disclaimer! This is not an “I think I’ll make short ribs tonight” kinda recipe. This recipe takes time, but the results are ridiculously worth it!

These short ribs tasted like they were right out of one of the best BBQ places. Hubs and I have really only been to one that I can think of, Milt’s in Chicago. And come to think of it, when we were there we got the short ribs!

I am getting very into making spice blends. Thanks to this project, my spice cabinet is brimming with lots of new spices that are getting a lot of use.  The spice blend for this recipe is superb with flavors of dry mustard, ground ginger and cayenne mixed with onion and garlic powders, perfectly sweet and spicy.  (I tasted a little on my finger before rubbing it onto the meat).

Next, came the searing, I just love that sound and smell!  Then I caramelized the onions and garlic, covered the meat with the BBQ sauce, put it in the oven and forgot about it for the next 4 hours! Actually I didn’t forget about it at all.  The aroma permeating the house was just too good!

I don’t usually prepare the dressed up version of the recipes, but in this case I couldn’t resist.  Short ribs on garlic toast with wasabi mayo-YES PLEASE!!!!!!! Aside from the wasabi mayo I also made the red horseradish mayo. Both spreads added a great tangy creaminess that balanced the sweet smokiness of the meat.

At the end of a long day cooking the meat, biting into the sandwich was pure joy. I couldn’t stop licking my fingers!

BBQ Short Rib Sandwiches with Avocado p. 183
DRESS IT UP Short Rib Sliders with Flavored Mayo on Garlic Toast

Note: This blog series, Cooking With Joy, is meant to be a companion to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cookbook.  Most of the full recipes are only available in the cookbook.


2 Ways To Flambe for Lag Baomer


April 29th 2015

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Lag Baomer is the 33rd day that we count between Passover and Shavuot.  It is also a day that marks celebration among a time of mourning.  Celebrations typically include bonfires and you can read the full reasons and history here then get lots of fun S’more Recipe Ideas here.   Sometimes bonfires are not as easy to come by especially when you live in a city, so I like to find other ways to light my fire.

This year I am learning to Flambe.  Flambé refers to a cooking method where alcohol is added to a pan of cooked food and then gets set aflame.  Often seen in fancy restaurants and in movies, this technique is actually quite easy to do at home, just follow some basic fire safety rules.  Make sure to keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen at all times.  Keep a pot lid close by to smother the flame if needed and don’t pour liquor directly from a bottle into the pan.  Now that we have safety out of the way, here are the recipes.

Bananas Flambe on Fire

It was pretty exciting when this happened!!

Bananas flambe was a lot of fun and very tasty.  It came together in less than minutes and everyone loves it. The rum set aflame really adds a depth of flavor to the dish that you can’t compare.

Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes and Bourbon Flambe

The other recipe I flambéed was this Corn Chowder, you can use your favorite corn chowder recipe if you prefer, then just before serving light some Bourbon on fire, once the fire settles drizzle over your soup and enjoy.  If you are scared off by the big flame above, start with the chowder.  The flame didn’t get as high and will get you comfortable with the flambe technique.

Have you ever cooked this way before? Tried Cherries Jubilee or Crepes Suzette? Let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you a wonderful flambeed Lag Baomer!!



Three Spring Menu Ideas


April 29th 2015

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I know how much you all love menus and I just happen to love creating them for you, but also for me.  I need to plan my menus ahead so I can stay organized and food is the one part of my life I can always plan for.  My goal is to share a new seasonal menu every week, but this week I thought I would share three in honor of Spring!!

Keep reading for one meat menu, one dairy menu and one vegan menu, try one or try them all or mix and match, just get inspired for every day dinners.

The Meat Menu

Spring Onion and Spinach Soup

Spring Onion and Spinach Soup

Leave out the optional heavy cream to keep this soup parve and start your meal off with tons of vitamins!!  A low calorie, nutrient dense soup you will love.


Grilled California Asparagus and Lamb with Mustard Aioli

Grilled California Asparagus and Lamb with Mustard Aioli

For the main meat course we combine succulent lamb with grilled asparagus, lamb works well with the flavors of spring, but you can feel free to use beef cubes if you prefer.

Walnut Crunch Couscous

Walnut Crunch Couscous

Keep it simple with a plain white rice or get a little extra flavor with this walnut couscous, this makes really great leftovers too.


Angel Food Cake Strawberry Bavarian

If you are using this meal for Shabbat or special guests go all out with this easy to pull off dessert.  Using an angel food cake mix you can’t go wrong.

The Dairy Menu

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pecornio

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pecornio

Try your asparagus as a raw salad.  Allow to marinate a few hours and serve with flavorful Pecornior or shaved Parmesan, light and delicious.


Baby Shell Pasta Salad with Olives and Fennel

Fill every body up with this unbelievable pasta salad.  Use whatever pasta you have on hand, leave some plane for the picky eaters and throw everything else in for everyone else.

Easy Poached Salmon

Easy Poached Salmon

Pasta salad and asparagus might be all you need for some, but if you want to make a full meal for company or bigger eaters, serve with this easy poached salmon.  The perfect accompaniment for a healthy spring menu.

Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb Crisp

For dessert enjoy the hot fruit of the season – Rhubarb!!  When you make it as a crisp you can even same some for breakfast.

The Vegetarian/Vegan Menu

shiitake mushroom soup

Asian Shiitake Mushroom Soup Recipe

Spring time is for light warm soups as we start to warm up outside, but find cool evenings still give a chill. This mushroom soup fits the bill.

miso glazed tofu with soba noodles

Miso Glazed Tofu

Make your favorite tofu recipe, this one is mine.  Pan seared with a miso sauce, serve hot over warm soba and cover in sesame seeds.


Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas

Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas

Don’t forget the green, use green beans, sno peas or even asparagus if you prefer, keep it simple and steam them or sauté like this recipe.

Chocolate Raspberry Wontons

Chocolate Raspberry Wontons

End the meal with these bite size sweet wontons.

What are you looking forward to enjoying this Spring?


Watch Our Perfect Pizza Dough Recipe


April 28th 2015

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You can thank a fellow Joy of Kosher fan for this video. On our YouTube Channel, she posted a comment requesting that we share a video demonstrating pizza dough from scratch.

So even though the request was posted way back in November 2014,  we never forgot.  As soon as the first opportunity presented itself I called in an expert – my friend Chef Zissie of to help me create this video especially for her.

If you have any special requests for recipes and or videos leave them in the comments below. Stay tuned for our follow up video (coming next month) featuring the most incredible and unique pizza topping idea.  And yes this is the PERFECT PIZZA DOUGH!

This one’s for you! 

Love you guys!!!

Full recipe can be seen and printed here.


Why I Love Niçoise Salad


April 27th 2015

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The first time I actually ate and fell in love with Niçoise Salad was in Israel.  I was 15 and we were staying at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.  After trying the salad in the hotel lobby for lunch I continued to order it almost every day followed by a Cafe Haphuch (“upside-down” coffee, Israel’s answer to cappuccino) for the term of our 2 week trip.

Now more than 2 decades later (how in the world is it that I have a memory from 20 years ago that doesn’t include me in diapers?!) it’s still a favorite.

Niçoise is a beautiful springtime salad that eats like a meal.  Traditionally composed of tuna, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and Niçoise olives (hence the name) it can be served with or without greens on a platter, plate or in a bowl topped with vinaigrette.  Variations include artichoke hearts, red peppers, beans, a cameo from the onion family (red, green, leeks, shallots or the like), a poached egg (in place of the hard cooked) and more.  Also note that the tuna can be cooked (seared being preferable) or flakes from a can.

My version features tuna steak, string beans, small red skinned potatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, romaine, red onion, hard-cooked eggs, tomato on the vine, white beans and of course olives.

Niçoise olives are cured in brine and packed in olive oil.  These French variety, small, purplish-black, olives have a distinctive smooth, nutty flavor with some bitterness (read: sour).  They really pack a flavor punch considering their smaller size.  Kalamata olives are a good substitute or any black-ish kosher oil cured olives you have access to will work well.  Note I much, much, much prefer serving this salad with pitted olives.  If you decide (against your better judgment and my warning) to serve the olives with the pits you must, must, must warn your diners so they don’t crack a tooth or worse. (Ideally I prefer not to have to take the Heimlich maneuver refresher course before serving this salad – know what I mean?).

Find my Niçoise Salad recipe here. Do you love Niçoise Salad like I love Niçoise Salad?  How do you like to make it?

Nicoise Salad


Fennel 4 Ways


April 24th 2015

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Fennel is a highly aromatic vegetable with a flavor profile that most closely resembles black licorice. But don’t let that scare you away! Even if you don’t like black licorice, once you learn how to cook with fennel, you will fall for the mild and natural anise flavor. Fennel is an unusually shaped vegetable with a bulb on the bottom and fronds coming out of the top that make a beautiful garnish. You can also find fennel seeds in the dry spice aisle, where it is commonly used in Mediterranean as well as Indian food. In fact, in many parts of India, roasted fennel seeds are offered after the meal as a digestive and breath freshener. Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked. To bring out the full flavor, I love roasting fennel along with other root vegetables. Fennel is low in calories, high in vitamin C and fiber and has antioxidants as well.

Here are 4 fennel recipes that you should definitely give a try:

Sautéed Fennel With Almonds

Sautéed Fennel with Almonds has a great crunch to it. The licorice taste is not too over powering and the dried cranberries add a great tart flavor.

Fennel Grapefruit Salad

The grapefruit in this Fennel Grapefruit Salad adds an elegant color and, best of all, the salad comes together in minutes.  Try garnishing the salad with dill or use up your fennel fronds by sprinkling them over this delicious salad.

Pasta with Roasted Fennel and Sausage

Pasta with Roasted Fennel and Vegetarian Sausage is a must-try recipe. The vegetarian sausage paired with the fennel and Parmesan is such a great combination. Also, remember to reserve some of you pasta water to loosen up the noodles in the last step of the recipe.

Warm Fennel Dip

This Warm Fennel Dip recipe is an updated take on warm artichoke dip. It can be made parve or, even better, you can make it dairy with lots of Parmesan cheese. Serve it piping hot with a bread, cracker or chip of your choice.

Joy of Kosher Late Winter MagazineAs seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Purim 2014

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Cooking With Joy: Argentinian Brisket With...


April 23rd 2015

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By now you have noticed that Evergreen is where I do most of my shopping, especially for meat. Since I am there pretty often, I have built up a relationship with many of the managers. AJ is my go to guy. He will often ask me “what’s on the menu this week?” or “I’m waiting for samples”. This week when he looked in my shopping cart he saw that I had a first cut brisket. He told me to put it back and to take a second cut instead. I was hesitant at first, but listened to his reasoning. AJ said that second cut brisket is a fattier piece of meat which makes for a softer more flavorful roast. When I have bought brisket in the past I have only bought first cut, thinking it was superior. It is all in a person’s taste; however, I soon found out that I in fact agree with AJ. This recipe turned out AMAZING using the second cut.  Let me know in the comments below which cut you prefer, but first let me tell you how the rest of the recipe went!

This recipe is very easy to prep. I combined the paprika, cumin, salt, oregano, garlic powder and cayenne, and then rubbed it onto the meat while my pan was heating up. I love searing meat (I know I have said that before), and love how it seals in the flavor of the spices. After searing, I transferred the meat to a pot to put in the oven and poured the beef broth and red wine vinegar over it. Like I said, it was very easy to prep. I was really wondering how interesting this brisket could possibly turn out. It was really nothing fancy, just some spices and broth and into the oven. Well as I am sure you could imagine, the meat basting in the broth and its own juices in addition to the spices for a few hours made for an incredible result! The gravy from the pan was good enough to drink with a straw!

Next came the chimichurri prep. At first when I tasted it alone it was very vinegary, but when we tasted it together with the meat it made a lot of sense.  The tang from the vinegar mellowed when eaten together with the meat. Hubs and I enjoyed this recipe very much and the kids ate the meat happily sans the chimichurri.

Argentinian Brisket with Chimichurri

Argentina Brisket with Chimichurri page 200
DRESS IT DOWN Pulled Argentina Brisket and Rice

 Note: This blog series, Cooking With Joy, is meant to be a companion to the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller cookbook.  Most of the full recipes are only available in the cookbook.


6 Unexpected Asparagus Recipes


April 22nd 2015

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Is it really finally Spring?

After this cold, snowy Winter, I am really enjoying watching the tulips start to bloom.  We need to get some color back in our life.

Summer will bring us the rainbow with blueberries and raspberries and peaches and plums, but it all starts in Spring with strawberries and mangos and lots of Asparagus.

It’s the little things that get us excited over here at JOY of KOSHER, so we are celebrating Spring with 6 unexpected Asparagus recipes.  Sure you can just steam them, but that is boring.  You can grill or roast them and we do that all the time, but if you are looking for a change or get a big tub of Asparagus in your CSA and don’t know what to do, we really love to wrap them.

Lamb Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Oh, yeah, we went there.  Wrap your asparagus with some incredibly flavorful kosher lamb bacon or if you can’t get that go ahead and use pastrami.  The flavor is elevated even more with a brown sugar topping in these Lamb Bacon Wrapped Asparagus.  A must try.

Crispy California Asparagus Straws

You can also go dairy with these Crispy California Asparagus Straws wrapped in puff pastry and sprinkled with parm.  Perfect make ahead for your next Brunch. (Can you say Shavuot?)

Ever wonder what else you can do with wonton wrappers?  Try wrapping them around asparagus and pan frying them.  For a little added flavor spread some spicy mustard on before you wrap for these unbelievable Fried Asparagus Rolls, just make sure to make an extra batch, they go fast.

Going a little lighter for our Spring picnics is also a good idea and that is when these Asparagus Spring Rolls With Sweet Red Chili Dipping Sauce come in for the perfect waist watching choice that does not skimp on flavor.

Now that we’ve wrapped and rolled you can take it easy with an Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Sandwich.  Pack this gorgeous baguette in your brown bag and watch everyone else covet.

Green Bean and Asparagus Fries

Last, but not least go ahead and turn them into fries!!  Just a dusting of panko and a roast in the oven and you can have Asparagus Fries With Dipping Sauce any day you want.

Hope you enjoyed all our unexpected recipes.  If you can’t get your kids to eat asparagus with one of them then you never will, but that’s okay more for us :) .

Note: Some kosher authorities do not allow the use of the tips of green asparagus, but do allow white asparagus, all these recipes would work with white asparagus.

***Giveaway*** Now it’s time to announce our giveaway brought to us by Winn-Dixie!!  Win a gift bag of kosher food products plus a signed copy of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller.

Comment on this post and enter here with Rafflecopter.

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{This recipe roundup and giveaway is brought to you by Winn-Dixie, your neighborhood supermarket.  All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting these sponsors that allow us to create new and special content like this for}

6 Unexpected Asparagus Recipes - Get ready to Wrap and Roll and Crunch!