In The JOK Kitchen With Eating The Bible *Giveaway...

 

February 18th 2014

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Rena Rossner was inspired about ten years ago while eating a hot bowl of red lentil soup.  That fateful soup began a journey for Rena that culminated in her first cookbook, Eating the Bible.  Eating the Bible takes us through the weekly Torah portions with quoted verses and a little bit of commentary that connects us to a recipe.  Rena find connections similar to the way I do in our Shabbat Menus and I had fun going through and finding new ideas I had never thought of before.  I also love the way Rena explains her connections going into just the right amount of detail and adding alternative recipes options as well as questions to help keep the conversation moving from cooking to table. Let’s learn a bit more about Rena and preview a few recipes here:

The red lentil soup served to you the same week we read about the one Esau sold for his birthright inspired your journey.   What else inspired you through the whole process?

Well, first, I think that creating these recipes gave me a reason to read the Bible/Torah much more closely. My husband was always reading and learning and connecting to the Torah every week, and this gave me a reason to spend as much time, if not more time, analyzing the texts. But I was doing it in a way that was interesting to me, and I was looking for something completely different – not erudition, but rather, nutrition! It was fascinating not just to see how food played a part in people’s lives in Ancient times, but also which food items were critical to their lives and which types of food played (often a really important part!) in these stories.

Did you always think you would write a cookbook?

No. Never. I love food and I love cooking and baking. My mother is an amazing cook and baker, and so was my grandmother, and I grew up cooking at their elbows, but I never thought that what I did was different or special enough to warrant a cookbook. When I got married and finally had a kitchen of my own I got tons of cookbooks for my bridal shower and I started creating elaborate menus and trying recipes I’d never had the opportunity to try before. Creating a meal for me became something like an artform. I didn’t realize then that as I worked my way through nearly every recipe in these books that I was actually taking everything to the next level.

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

What is your earliest memory of cooking?

Wow. That’s a good question! I think it must be watching my mom make birthday cakes. My mom is an amazing cake decorator, and for every birthday she always made something fabulous. I learned to decorate cakes just by watching her, and I remember every cake she ever made for me. I think something in that speaks to what I’m trying to do with EATING THE BIBLE. Why do I remember those birthday cakes? Because they were tactile memories. And I want EATING THE BIBLE to create those memories for everyone, so that people don’t just have tactile memories that they associate with holidays (think Turkey=Thanksgiving,) but also tactile memories of the Bible. How cool would that be if your mouth watered every time you read your favorite Bible stories? That’s what I want to do. To make it come alive.

Did you find that your study of Torah was enhanced when you looked at it with this food lens?

Yes, absolutely. It was a way for me to connect with the texts in my own way – to bring the stories alive in a way that spoke to all of my senses. Also, from a historical/academic perspective one of the things that was most fascinating to me was creating the index of food items mentioned in the Bible that’s found at the back of the book. What I discovered was amazing – the Bible can also be a blueprint for healthy eating! Wheat was surprisingly a mainstay of the Biblical diet, goat’s milk (which is supposed to be healthier for you that cow’s milk,) dates, olives, figs, and very little meat. Meat only on special occasions. It’s really very interesting if you think about it.

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

How do you expect/want your readers to enjoy your book?

I’d love people to use my cookbook to enhance their weekly tables and to help them bring meaning to their meals. I’d be even more excited if people loved my recipes so much that they returned to my cookbook to make the recipes again and again, just because they taste good!

Now that it is out there, have you thought about writing any other cookbooks?

Oh, well that is the big question! I have enough recipes from all my weekly columns to put out a second cookbook (Eating the Bible Revisited?) and many of my friends joke around with me about it giving new suggestions: Drinking with the Prophets? Eating Ecclesiastes? But in all seriousness I think it would be fascinating to take a look at the Prophets or at the Song of Songs. There’s lots of rich language in there and I think it would be a poetic and culinary challenge. Who knows. We’ll see!

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Which was more difficult for you, creating the recipes or finding a connection to the parsha?

Definitely finding the connection. Some weeks were super easy. I could write an entire cookbook just about certain chapters – Genesis alone has enough for hundreds of recipes. I actually thought Leviticus would be the hardest when I first started doing this, I thought it would be all meat from the sacrifices, but it was easy! So many of the sacrifices involved grain and oil and spices that it wasn’t a challenge at all. Deuteronomy was actually the most challenging – there were many chapters there that had absolutely no connection to food and I admit that sometimes it was a stretch.

Are all the recipes easy to make and good for Shabbat?

Most of them, yes. One of my main goals in creating this cookbook and these recipes was to make things that I myself would make easily and be able to bring to my table. But, because I know that not everyone finds cooking and baking as easy as I do, I also added “Alternatives” in a sidebar that give “quick and easy” ideas so that everyone, no matter what experience they have in the kitchen, can find a way to bring more meaning to their meals and help bring the Torah/Weekly Portion to life. Admittedly there are one or two recipes that are quite involved – The Gingerbread Tabernacle is a prime example, but I think every cookbook needs one or two challenge recipes in it, don’t you?

***Giveaway***

Thanks to Rena for sharing these recipes and insight into her and her book.  Now’s your chance to win a copy!!  In the comments below, let us know what is your favorite bible story?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

The Lava Lamp Cocktail Link Up

 

February 17th 2014

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If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a lava lamp is a visit to Spencer’s at your local mall or a blissed out night during college listening to psychedelic music, you’re probably not alone, but I’m here to tell you there’s a little more to the Lava Lamp than all that.

I was inspired by a friend’s recent story about a Lava Lamp cocktail and I was able to create a fun at home version that you can enjoy with or without alcohol, so it’s a perfect party drink whether you’re having some friends over or stuck at home with the kids.

Start with some homemade cranberry simple syrup, it’s easier than you think! Cranberries impart a natural, bright red color to the sugar syrup. There is no discernible tartness, just a refreshing cranberry infused sweetness. For the kids, pour a little bit of the cranberry simple syrup into a clear glass of unflavored seltzer with a few dried cranberries and watch in amazement as the dried cranberries float around just like a lava lamp! The Lava Lamp Cocktail is a fraction of the calories of any store-bought soda and a lot more fun to stare at for hours.

For grownups looking for a creative, easy to assemble cocktail, adding cranberry simple syrup to a sparkling wine or bubbly moscato will produce the same circa-1970s visual effects.

Somebody turn up the eight-track, I think I hear the Grateful Dead playing in the background.

 



 

Bread Making Kitchen Tools

 

February 14th 2014

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I have fully hopped on the no knead bread bandwagon and my family loves it.  I make the best, tastiest and cheapest bread at least once a week that tastes like it comes from a baker and it only takes about 10 minutes active time.  Read about my experiences and get my favorite no knead bread recipes here.

In addition to the various no knead breads that I make, once in a while I still take time out for Challah.  Whatever kind of bread you are making the right kitchen gadgets can make it easier and better for you.

For the no knead breads you really need a nice Dutch Oven, I really like using this one from Emile Henry. I also have their Bread Clochle which is meant to make breads in, but haven’t had as much success with it and I don’t really have space for so many different pots, I would rather have one that can do more.

Before getting into no knead bread I really enjoyed the bread machine.  It was no mess, no fuss and you can come home to a fresh bread every day.  You can use it just to knead for you or you can have it bake the whole thing, I like that this bread machine from Panasonic has a separate yeast dispenser and makes up to a 2 1/2 pound loaf.

This is a Bread Proofer, a special place to rise and fermetn your dough.  I have always wanted to try one of these and it even folds up, so you don’t have to worry about finding space to keep it. It also doubles as a yogurt maker and can be used to temper chocolate.  I am very intrigued by this machine, have you tried it?

Now that you have your bread you have to store it and keep it fresh.  Get a nice looking bread box, like this one to store all your baked goods.

For all your bread baking you need a nice extra large bowl, especially if you like making challah with 5 lbs of flour or if you do like me and make a huge batch of pita dough and then make some fresh every couple of days. This bowl  can hold up to 10 Liters and always works for me to keep out the mess.

For the challah baking days you can try out this challah pan for perfect shape every time.  They also have one in a tin.

One last fun tool is this Challah dough cover.  It is designed to fit neatly around a huge round bowl so it can be used for any of your bread making.

What bread baking tools do you find helpful?

 


 

Celebrating Memories – Chicken Paprikash...

 

February 14th 2014

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He was a holocaust survivor. He was a husband. He was a father. He was a Zaide. He was our hero. Alex Lebovic, my father-in-law, just recently passed away. No words can really express the emotion we feel as a dear one passes on to the next world. We perhaps handle it with grace, strength, overwhelming sadness, humor, denial, guilt, or perhaps with a degree of stoicism. For me, my face, my actions, my words are mere cover-ups to the way I really feel. My father in law was a lot of things, yet writing them on paper or expressing them verbally seems to diminish everything he was. And because of that, for me, I need to celebrate and honor his memory.

In today’s world, Judaism perhaps is just as much a religion as it is a culture. And food is a huge part of that culture. It is quite unlikely that you would find gefilte fish, schmaltz, cholent, gribenes or even potato kugel, outside the Jewish home. Our many holidays are laden with yummy and traditional foods.  Food for my father-in-law, meant being alive. Being a survivor of such notorious concentration camps as, Auschwitz and Dachau where food was scarce, if at all, gave my father-in-law a longing for the dishes he grew up on.

According to Wikipedia, chicken paprikash is a dish of Hungarian origin and one of the most famous Hungarian stews. Chicken paprikash was my father–in-laws favorite meal.

Chicken Paprikash

I hadn’t made chicken paprikash in about 6 years being that my daughter is on a gluten free diet and my husband is a vegetarian. Yet, this past Friday night for Shabbat dinner I decided to make it and it was amazing! A one-pot meal from the old country. There is much to remember about my father-in-law, but every once in awhile remembering the food he loved allows us to smile and celebrate his memory.

Click here for the full Chicken Paprikash recipe.

Come check out my designs for amazing gift ideas for any occasion, please visit me at SwirlGifts.com or on Facebook here.


 

Romantic Dinner For Two

 

February 13th 2014

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It has been a cold snowy winter for most of us.  Everyone is staying home more than usual.  The silver lining is finding the perfect menu to make a romantic dinner for two.  Whatever the occasion, a first date, a first anniversary or just a night without any kids here is a heart warming menu that can be served on a table filled with roses and candles.

Creamy Hot Tomato Soup

Creamy Hot Tomato Soup

Start the night by warming up to a hot bowl of creamy tomato soup.  A little bit of spicy chile peppers will stimulate your endorphins (feel good chemicals) and red is the color of love.

Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips

Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips

Nothing says “I love you” like a perfectly grilled steak, keep it simple and serve with these crispy parsnip chips and a simple lightly dressed salad.

Non Dairy Chocolate Fondue

Keep the night going with a sweet non dairy chocolate fondue.  Dip your favorite fruits, marshmallows, cookies and just have fun with it.

If you are looking for  someone special to share your dinner, our friends at JDATE are launching a new campaign, Get Chosen, to hep remind us of all the cultural reasons to meet other Jewish people.   Whether it’s finding someone who shares your love of gefilte fish, who is just as excited as you are to spend Christmas at a Chinese restaurant or who holds memories of sleepaway camp just as close to their heart, JDeal is helping to strengthen the Jewish community.

What other Jewish cultural connections do you think are important for new relationships?


 

The World of Culinary Sustainability

 

February 13th 2014

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The concept of ‘sustainability’ is a growing trend both in the world of agriculture and the world of food. Many of today’s farmers are doing away with the traditional methods of farming, which includes use of chemicals, machinery, and mass production of unhealthy and heavily genetically-modified foods, and are returning to producing natural and healthy nutrient rich produce. Since the 1930’s and 1940’s, we have lost thirty percent of the nutrients in our whole foods, and the ‘sustainability movement’ is trying to move back toward the ‘real’ food that existed prior to World War II.  Many food manufacturers, as well as restaurants, supermarkets, and other food related establishments, have openly welcomed the concept of ‘sustainability’ and incorporated this philosophy as well.

It is not a rare occurrence these days that I run across a product in grocery store that boasts “sustainably raised” or “sustainably farmed”. One of the reasons that I think I am so fond of many of the markets past the Mason-Dixon line, especially around Upstate New York and New England, is their effort to be part of the ‘sustainable’ mindset. Many of these markets, from small individual owned grocery stores to large chain supermarkets, are now seen boasting their fine selections of only locally grown fruit, no-growth hormone chickens, cage-free eggs, and all grass-fed beef. ‘Sustainability’ in regards to the culinary world essentially means going away from all the engineered foods we have available today and back to the natural. It means growing natural, unadulterated produce and selling it in the local stores. ‘Sustainability’ means treating food animals humanely, not injecting them with growth-hormones, and feeding them properly (because ultimately what they eat ends up in our stomachs). Sustainability means being good to the earth, for it in turn will be good to us.

I officially entered the world of Culinary Sustainability this past January, when I began classes in my new major in Culinary Sustainability at Kennesaw State University, located 25 miles north of Atlanta. While I had always tended to think of food solely as an art, with the commencement of my classes I was brought to the realization that food is also a science( I guess that’s why this degree is a Bachelor’s of Science!)The best part: this new innovative program of study enables me to enter the world of culinary science while allowing me to keep one foot into the world of the culinary arts at the same time.

The Culinary Sustainability program in which I am enrolled is designed not only to give students the knowledge of how to prepare food and properly run a business in the culinary and hospitality field, but to educate us in where our food comes from, the nutritional value behind our food and the best ways to utilize that nutrition, the best sustainable (i.e. environmental and economic) practices, and when you get right down to it: to really know foods in its essence.

The program includes courses in basic and advanced culinary skills, a study of world cuisines and cultures, organic agriculture (we go out to farm and the whole nine yards), food science, nutrition, and viticulture & vinification. Many of the instructors are real professionals, not just college educated professors with a master degree enabling them to teach on a college level. The instructor for my Organic Agriculture and Apiary (beekeeping) class made it clear on the first day that he does not identify as a college professor, but as a professional farmer. My Foodservice Management instructor is a professional Certified Mastered Chef (CMC), one of only 163 in the world, who has over 23 years experience in the culinary and hospitality industry. From dishwasher, to head chef, to hotel manager, he has done it all (I wonder if he has enough qualifications to teach this class?) Classes are “hands-on” and I will be learning about agriculture by going out to different farms and farming, learning about where honey comes from by beekeeping, and of course learning how to cook in a profession kitchen- by cooking in a professional kitchen. This semester I will be learning all about plant-based cuisine, and how to cater to vegetarian and vegan diets.

Going into a culinary based degree program as a student who adheres to a strict kosher diet and who follows Jewish law with regards to cooking (i.e. not mixing meat and dairy, and other like restrictions) has been an interesting experience so far. Being that I had to discuss the obstacles that this could present and how to accommodate my religious beliefs with the culinary department, I have been given the opportunity to know the head of the department and my instructors on a more personal basis. The department has been very understanding of helping me find ways to adhere to the kosher regulations I must follow, while at the same time, allowing me to participate fully in classes.  As of now, no real obstacles have presented themselves and all I have needed to do is buy my own set of knives, allowing me to jump into the cooking classes of my Culinary Sustainability track, without any problems of using utensils that were used with meat and dairy mixtures…and as of now…I have suddenly developed the ambition to become a sustainable farmer and start a Kosher eco-friendly sustainable cattle/poultry farm…or maybe I’ll just stick to food blogging for the time being….

Balsamic Roasted Mini Peppers

The main image above is from the KSU Farm, where my Organic Agriculture class takes place. Here is a new recipe for Balsami Roasted Peppers.  Let me know if you have any questions about culinary sustainability in the comments below.

 


 

A Night In Tuscany With Steak and Wine

 

February 13th 2014

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There are many foods we associate with Tuscany. White bean stew. Ragu. Fresh pasta. The list goes on, from the super traditional recipes that grandma perfected, to more contemporary dishes found in Italian restaurants worldwide. However, the food would not be what it is today without two Italian staples–meat and wine. Tuscany is known for its beautiful white cows–the Chianina, and its wine–from simple red house blends to a robust Chianti. Every household has a bit of meat and wine on hand at all times.

For years, the kosher-observant traveler has been unable to sample these quintessential foods, let alone find the raw ingredients to prepare them on their own. Thankfully, the recent kosher revolution has brought about a welcome, and delicious change. Kosher Culinary Adventures is a unique Kosher travel company (and I’m lucky enough to work with them!) that provides people with a passion for food and travel the opportunity to eat like a local. We do that by finding the best kosher meat, wine and cheese, kashering a villa, and cooking like a Tuscan grandmother.

One of my favorite memories of Tuscany is Friday night dinner–we all sat outside on the patio that overlooked an incredible expanse of rolling hills. After a week of non-stop cooking for our wonderful guests, I was quite exhausted. Someone handed me a glass of wine from kiddush, and I took a tired gulp. The wine shocked me, simply by how delicious it was, and how little I’d been anticipating the flavors in the glass. It was a robust Chianti Classico from 2008 produced by Terra di Seta, deep, and heavy in a way that still expressed its fruity flavors. It was truly a magical moment–sitting in the pleasant Tuscan warmth, surrounded by friends, delicious food, and of course, amazing kosher wine.

We are lucky enough to work closely with Terra di Seta, the only fully kosher winery in Italy. It makes an award-winning Chianti Classico, a wine famous in the Chianti region of Tuscany. The wine is made up of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. The wine is so prized in the area that it must be inspected before selling. Only if it passes strict quality control measures does it receive a coveted pink label that lets the consumer know it is an authentic Chianti Classico, complete with a tracking number to ensure that there is no wine fraud. The taste is expressive, slightly heavy due to the intense Sangiovese grape, but with lovely fruity notes. Terra di Seta has a beautiful winery one can visit. It is located in the heart of Chianti, with about 37 acres of vineyards. The wine is all organic and kosher-certified by the OK. It is truly worth a visit.

Another wonderful and delicious memory is the steak we served. I know, right? It’s just a steak, you say. What can be so special about that? However, a Tuscan steak is made of different stuff than your typical American or Israeli meat. A Chianti steak is almost always from a free-range, happy cow, who ate well its whole life–grass, flowers, and weeds. Italians have a huge respect for the animals they raise to eat, and that shows through in the flavor of the meat. For our steak night, we grilled the steak quickly and finished it in the oven for a perfect medium-rare. It was juicy, tender, and bursting with flavor. Our guests were amazed that a simple steak could be so incredible. We believe that a simple ingredient can make the most amazing cuisine–when you treat a cow or tomato with care, it repays you with a flavor unlike anything mass-produced can create.

We’re including a recipe for a perfect grilled steak and a simple red wine sauce. Get yourself the best meat you can find, and grab a mid-range bottle of wine to cook with. Channel your inner Tuscan! Fuss with the food just as much as is necessary to produce a great meal. We served our Steak with Red Wine Sauce with thyme-roasted potatoes and simple green beans, with a lovely chocolate souffle for dessert. And, of course, a perfect glass of Chianti Classico.

Steak with Red Wine Sauce

 


 

30 Recipes to Help You Sleep Better

 

February 12th 2014

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Sleep is a necessary part of our everyday schedules, but when we don’t sleep well we lose some of the benefits of a good night’s rest.  These 10 recipes will help you sleep better; improving your sleep quality has never tasted better.

 

Honey Baked Salmon

1.  Salmon has vitamin B6 which is a necessary element of melatonin production, a sleep triggering hormone.  Both the Honey Baked Salmon and the Rosemary Walnut Crusted Salmon with Garlic Aioli are great options because in addition to salmon, honey and walnuts are known for improving the efficiency of tryptophan, a sleep enhancing amino acid, in the brain.

Challah and Whole Wheat Bread Stuffing with Cherries and Chestnuts

2.  When you consume whole wheat before bed, the carbohydrates raise levels of tryptophan in the brain. Try serving the Whole Wheat Israeli Couscous or Challah and Whole Wheat Bread Stuffing with Cherries and Chestnuts.  In the mood for breakfast-for-dinner? Top the Oatmeal Pecan Waffles (or Pancakes) with yogurt.  Your sleep with benefit not only from the whole wheat, but also the yogurt and oatmeal.

 

Long Grain and Wild Rice Salad

3.  Because rice is high in the glycemic index, it shortens the time it takes to fall asleep.  Make it a meal with Avocado Stuffed Salmon with Wild Rice or Sweet and Sour Chicken with Sesame Rice, or as sides with Long Grain and Wild Rice Salad or Wild Rice Pancakes.

 

Grilled Plums with Kale Salad

4.  The calcium in Kale helps the brain use tryptophan and manufacture melatonin.  Two wonderful kale salads are Braised and Raw Kale with Pine Nuts and Grilled Plums with Chopped Kale and Warm Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette.

 

Wilted Spinach with Crispy Garlic

5.  Lettuce and Spinach are leafy greens with lactucarium, which has sedative properties.  These greens are so versatile and can be served raw or cooked for example as lettuce cups in the Vegan Thai Lettuce Cups with Peanut Sauce or the Calypso Fish Lettuce Wrap Steamer, or Wilted Spinach with Crispy Garlic and Creamy Mushroom Risotto with Spinach Walnut Salad.

 

Channa Masala

6.  Chickpeas are abundant in vitamin B6, which helps produce melatonin.  Chickpeas are so versatile, some classics includes Roasted Garlic Hummus with Oven Baked Pita or Hummus and Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Pine Nuts.  Or get the sleep benefits of rice and chickpeas by serving Channa Masala with plain white rice.

 

Tomato Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche

7.  The calcium in cheese helps the brain manufacture melatonin.  While cheese is high in calories, the richness lends itself to small portions that are still satisfying.  Try the Goat Cheese Walnut Salad, Italian Vegetable Soup with Cheese Bread, or Tomato Basil and Goat Cheese Quiche.

 

Grilled Tuna Nicoise Salad

8.  Tuna, similar to Salmon and Chickpeas, is high in B6 which helps in the production of melatonin.  Include multiple sleep-friendly foods in one meal with the Grilled Tuna with Chickpea and Spinach Salad or the Grilled Tuna Nicoise Salad.

 

Maple Roasted Almonds

9.  Almonds are know for improving sleep quality because they are high in magnesium.  Try Maple Roasted-Smoky Almonds as a satisfying snack before bed or as part of the meal with Almond Olive Sole or Baby French String Beans with Silvered Almonds.

 

Honey Pecan Streussel Cake

10.  Honey raises insulin levels and allow tryptophan to enter the brain more easily.  Honey blends easily into most recipes and tastes great with meat such as the Honey BBQ Sesame Wings and Garlic Honey Brisket, or serve it with dessert as Spongata (Double Crusted Honey Nut Pie) or Honey Pecan Streusel Cake.

 


 

Two New Ways To Make Pot Pie

 

February 12th 2014

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Growing up, pot pie night was the highlight of my week, dinner-wise at least! The idea of getting my very own little dish, piping hot out of the oven, made me feel so special. My mom used to make the classic chicken pot pie, but I thought it was time to recreate my favorite childhood dish. The best part is that it’s a one pot meal which means easy clean up, and who doesn’t love that?

If you love pizza, this dish is for you! Served in an nontraditional way, and filled with a unique blend of vegetables, both adults and kids will be excited for dinner. Feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables for the ones in the recipe.

Click here for the Pizza Pot Pie recipe.

Mock crab is one of my favorite ingredients to work with these days. Being able to take a non-kosher dish and make it kosher is thrilling to me!
Here is my take on the classic “crab” pot pie. The rustic element from the vegetables and elegance from the wine pairs perfectly to create a delicious one pot meal that is sure to impress your guests!

Here is my recipe for “Crab” Pot Pie.

If you want more ideas for traditional and non traditional pot pie recipes click here.


 

DIY Chai Latte and Giveaway

 

February 11th 2014

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I cry…
…when I leave on tour. I actually think it’s getting harder not easier as the kids get older. They understand that I am going, I understand how much I will be missing. How everyday something new, sad, exciting happens to them and I so badly want to be part and privy to it all. My daughter asked “why can’t you have a normal job?” “Like what?” I answered/questioned, “like a teacher” she said (duhhh?!?!). Between us chickens I can tell you with as much certainty as a human being can muster, that I was definitely not born to be a teacher.

When I go to New York for business and events I have some routines that comfort me while I am far from home. My most favorite of which is landing at JFK and heading to Central Perk in Cedarhurst for 2 soy chai lattes. The first I enjoy on site with my egg white omelet and salad breakfast. The second I take to go as I race to my first meeting.

I have come to miss my chai lattes when home and have found that most coffee shops in Israel don’t list chai on the menu next to espresso and cappuccino. So taking matters into my own hands I developed this Chai Concentrate/Chai Latte with the aid of no less than 5 online recipes as a guide.

I am staring at my empty tea glass now, tummy warm from a mugful of chai. It’s 64 degrees and I am facing the lush green mountains of Israel – my next trip to New York and Toronto many weeks away. I am home. And soon, the kids will be home from school. I think, sometimes (if just for the briefest of moments) you can have your cake and eat it too.

Come see me on tour for my new book JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes in Toronto on February 25th, for the first time ever I am coming to Canada and will be at one of the largest synagogues in North America, get more information and your tickets at http://www.bayt.ca. Review my new book on Amazon for your chance to WIN a FREE subscription to our award-winning JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller Magazine.

****Enter to Win***  After you submit your review on Amazon come back here and let us know in the comments and link to the review.  Contest will run through February 18th at 11:59pm. Open to US residents 18 and over.

 

The WINNER is Samantha!!  Thanks to all.


 

Cran-Apple Crunch

 

February 10th 2014

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Watch Jamie Geller show you how easy it is to make her delicious Cran-Apple Crunch Kugel.


 

Hail To A Slaw

 

February 10th 2014

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To be quite candid, if I may, I never really celebrated Presidents’ Day. It’s not because I am not patriotic. On the contrary, I nationally still identify myself as an American; even from living overseas. While I may not be too pleased with the current administration governing the country, I appreciate what the country still represents: Freedom, Liberty, Equality and Justice for all. I am not denying that we had great leaders who made an impact on America for the greater good. Their overall dedication to establishing and building the country, creating a haven for the poor and persecuted deserves my utmost respect and honor. Even though I made Aliyah, I still appreciate the freedoms and opportunities I’ve had growing up in America. At day school, we would recite the Pledge of Allegiance before class.

While I grew up celebrating July 4th and Thanksgiving, I never saw Presidents’ Day as a cause for celebration. While it is an established national holiday, all it meant to me was having a day off from school or work. We did spend a lot of family quality time together. We either went to a museum, sports event, or a movie. We didn’t throw any swanky dinners or parties.

President’s Day officially honors the life and work of George Washington, the first president of the United States. That is why many people like to eat Cherry Pie (he was the guy that wouldn’t chop down that cherry tree).  President’s Day commemorates all the presidents that lead America till this point. To some, Presidents’ Day is also known as Washington’s birthday. While most states consider this national holiday as a celebration for Washington’s birthday, some states officially declare this day to be President’s day.

Other states will focus on Lincoln’s leadership on this holiday as his birthday falls out on mid-February, some eat corn bread as it is said to be one of his favorites.  In weeks or days leading up to Presidents’ Day, schools tend to organize events or lessons for students about American presidents. Sales are also very popular at stores. I suppose that would be just cause for a celebration for me. 

Whatever you have planned it is always nice to include a salad in your celebration or your shopping.  A salad is essential to a light and healthy balanced meal. Whenever I host parties or events, I always make sure that salad is featured on the menu.  Enjoy this light, easy, and mayo-free Carrot Kohlrabi Slaw recipe. Easy to prepare and flexible, feel free to create your own variation.


 

How A New Recipe Is Born

 

February 7th 2014

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Normally I would enter into my kitchen and if I don’t have anything specific in mind I’d open the refrigerator and look for the leftovers; then whatever I find I start making something out of it. Sometimes when I stuff vegetables or dough I use the remaining filling to spontaneously create a new dish. Normally in cases like this no one asks me for the recipes, so in general I don’t write them down.

Now I learned my lesson. I posted a picture of one of my food creations on Facebook and one of my fans asked for the recipe – what a catch. Well I have to be honest and say this was one of those recipes that I improvised without taking notes.

I am sharing it here with you because I can imagine that is has happened to some of you at least once – am I right? I invite you to share your stories in the comments below.

So what do I tell the woman who asked for the recipe? I’ve asked my daughter and she suggested to simply tell her the truth that I improvised it and I don’t have a clue how to replicate it. At first I thought to myself she’s absolutely right. Do I need to provide a recipe every time I’m asked for one? On the other hand that’s my challenge – and so I decided that I will replicate the recipe and will provide it.

It was my mother who taught me how to improvise in the kitchen. I remember when I was about  11 years old and I was making a layer cake. One of the layers required whipped cream. While it wasn’t my first time whipping cream, that day I overdid it and the cream turned into butter. Wow what a disaster! So my mother calmly came into the kitchen and recommended to replace the whipped cream with another cream. Surprisingly the cake turned out tasty and no one could taste the difference. This so called ‘disaster’ taught me a great lesson, which I always remember!

The recipe I have replicated here is a Ricotta, Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin, which I originally made with blueberries.


 

The Best Salad Tools

 

February 7th 2014

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We love salads, they can be made up of any mix of vegetables, the options are endless.  The popularity of salad bars all over have consistently grown over the last 30 or so years because we also all love to make it our own and choose from lots of toppings.  You don’t have to go out to have salad bar fun, consider making your own.  Check out these kitchen gadgets to make salad bar creations that much more fun.

 

It all starts with the lettuce and no body likes it soggy.  Try this Zyliss Salad Spinner with a retractable easy pull cord and a stop button, your lettuce will get dry and crisped with little effort on your part.

 

The other thing we love about salad bars is the way they toss and chop it all together for us.  No worries, get your self this Salad Chop and Toss which easily chops fruits and veggies right in the bowl.  No need for a separate cutting board!

 

The other chopper option is one of these Mezzaluna, which chops herbs and veggies with a rocking motion.  Great for mincing herbs for dressing or other recipes, but it can also chop your salad right in the bowl just like at the salad bar.

 

Get a few of these Salad Dressing Makers and prepare a few dressings so you always have your favorites to choose from and can easily add variety.

Don’t forget the salad bowl.  A big stainless bowl is best especially if chopping and tossing in the bowl for a lot of people.

Enjoy your salads all year long, no more waiting in line!!

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Truth About Vermouth

 

February 6th 2014

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Vermouth is a type of fortified wine that is made by adding spirits to wine and infusing with a proprietary blend of botanicals. It has been used as a flavor enhancer in many cocktails for years, including classic cocktails like the Martini and the Manhattan.

Vermouth was popular starting in the 1800s and comes in dry and sweet varieties. Over the past several years there has been a resurgence of interest in old fashioned cocktails, many of which include vermouth. A variety of new aperitif and fortified wines (of which vermouth is both) have been introduced to the U.S. market.

While I wait for the kosher market to catch up with some artisanal and craft vermouth varieties that can bring your cocktail to the next level, I have been experimenting with the only kosher vermouth commercially available, by Kedem.

It turns out there is way more you can do with vermouth than just Martinis and Manhattans, neither of which I care for very much. Unlike most spirits, vermouth can’t sit on your shelf for months, once open it needs to be refrigerated and used within a month or less. However, if you start using vermouth to cook with in addition to your cocktails you will have no trouble using it up.

I have been using vermouth in place of wine in all my recipes from risotto, to sautéed green beans, to fondue, to chicken. The flavor works perfectly and the price is right too, at under $10/bottle I can have my drink and risotto too.

My current drink of choice is a riff on the Pisco Sour that I call Shaken Not Stirred using a raw egg white for texture and foam. The vermouth adds a very nice flavor and complexity to this refreshing drink, I prefer it with the dry vermouth, which I don’t find very dry, but if all they have is sweet, it will do.

If you want to get a little more interesting in vermouth choices you can always try to make your own.