Tag Archives: jewish

Cinnamon-Cocoa-Pecan Rugelach

11 Nov

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It’s about time I post a recipe here. I have been so busy out and about, road tripping to make pie in Vermont and hang out on a farm, and experimenting with letting others, namely Blue Apron, do the grocery shopping for me.

I am back in the groove now with a recipe for RUGELACH! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season. These darling cookies fit the bill for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hannukah. But really, they are delicious any time of the year.

Actually, I made the dough for the rugelach way back in August and stuck it in my freezer, intending to bake them off for the Jewish high holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Alas, life got busy and I never got around to making them.

So, three months later, I finally pulled the rugelach dough from the freezer, placed it in the refrigerator to thaw, and set to work rolling, filling, and shaping the cookies. I have been known to keep pie doughs and pizza doughs and apparently rugelach doughs in my freezer for months on end, which is not ideal or recommended, but hey, they always turn out tasting dang good.

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I wrote about rugelach a few years back, and it is high time for an update. Continue reading

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Happy Passover

15 Apr

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Happy Passover. Or if you don’t celebrate, Happy Tuesday.

This year, I made a small dinner for a small crowd. Charoset, a light salad, spatchcocked flat-roasted chicken with carrots and parsnips, maple-roasted sweet potatoes (I used less syrup than the recipe calls for and added in some cinnamon). Complete with matzo sheets and red wine. Dessert was coconut macaroons from the bakery I work at, with a few squares of chocolate and a few more sips of wine.

A few more old favorite Passover recipes:

Matzo Lasagna

Kiss n’ Swirl Meringues (use Kosher for Passover vanilla, or omit altogether, if you do not consume vanilla on the holiday)

xo

Stephanie

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“Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup

17 Jan

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You know that area right underneath your nostrils? Mine is red and dry because I have been blowing my nose for almost a week now. Yuck. Colds are the worst. I still have energy to go about my usual business, but I’m just a snotty, gross mess.

Alas, chicken soup.

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Funny enough, a few days into the snotty sickness that has been permeating my apartment, I received an email from my boyfriend’s mom with a recipe for a fantastic chicken barley soup. Must have been mother’s intuition that we needed comfort.

This “Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup is heartier than the typical clear-broth chicken soup. Blending some of the broth with cooked potato, onion, celery, and garlic lends a creamy texture without any cream. If your favorite kitchen tool is an immersion blender, raise your hand! Makes life so easy.

Adding a little barley to the soup offers a nice contrast, a bite of texture. Barley is a great source of whole grain, it is rich in fiber and protein, and it turns the soup into its own meal.

I used a homemade turkey stock for this soup. It is so easy to freeze a bunch of leftover odds and ends of vegetables and prepare a quick stock. After I made a vegetable stock, I strained it, and then added it back to a pot with the neck and giblets I had in the freezer from my Thanksgiving turkey. There’s some good dark meat on the neck of a turkey, so don’t throw the neck away! Prepare your stock the day before if you want to get ahead.

So I had turkey stock in my chicken soup. No big deal. If you are short on time, you could just use water instead of stock, and add salt. Or buy stock. Either way.

Note that you could buy pre-cooked chicken, but I found it very easy to just toss two breasts (save the bones for stock if you want!) in the oven while I was preparing the rest of my ingredients.

“Creamy” Chicken Barley Soup

Recipe from Lucy, by way of Jackie

This makes a LOT of soup, about 10 servings (you could freeze extras, bring some to a friend, or halve the recipe)

2 T butter or oil
2 onions, chopped
6-7 celery sticks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 C russet potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 C pearl barley
8 -9 C stock (I made my vegetable stock, strained it, and added the neck and giblets that were in my freezer from Thanksgiving and simmered for ~1hour)
2 bay leaves
1/2 C white wine
2 bone-in chicken breasts (or slightly less than 2lbs), pre-cooked and shredded (see below for how to cook)
salt and pepper to taste

First, cook your chicken breasts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done (165 degrees F). When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones (save the bones in your freezer for stock), and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot melt butter (or oil) and saute onions, celery, garlic until soft.

Next, add potatoes, 6 – 7 C chicken stock, and thyme. Cook until potatoes are soft (15- 30 min), then use an immersion blender or transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Return this mixture to the pot, add the carrots, barley and bay leaves.  Cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add more stock for a soupier soup. When barley is tender, add wine and chicken, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a few more minutes to warm up the chicken.

Poppy Seed Cake

7 Jan

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I dare you to count the number of poppy seeds in this cake.

1…

2…

671…

My grandma used to make us poppy seed cake when we were kids. It was a plain cake, with a subtle crunch from the seeds, usually baked up in a bundt pan. Grandma uses canned poppy seeds, but I made this cake with the regular seeds that you can find by the spices at the grocery store. She says that poppy seed cake tastes even better when it’s a few days old.

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The process of preparing this cake gave me peace of mind. I brought out my Kitchen Aid mixer and whipped my egg whites to soft peaks, a task that gives me great pleasure, and that I do not get to do very often now that I am not cooking in a professional kitchen.

Folding my softly whipped egg whites into the thick yellow batter felt so good. My kitchen was silent; I was alone, soaking in every step.

To get the full recipe, head over to The Wednesday Chef.

A few notes:

Make sure your butter is soft. 

I used 1 cup of 1% lowfat milk + 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in place of buttermilk. 

Hamentaschen for Purim

8 Mar
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“Hamentaschen, Hamentaschen,
You’re my favorite Purim treat,
One filled with prunes and
Two filled with cherries
Three filled with poppy seeds
I will eat, I will eat, I will eat”
I used to sing this song every year in elementary school. We would also host a big carnival on the Jewish holiday, Purim. Dunk tank, goldfish, snacks, spin art, the whole shebang…
So, what exactly is the story of Purim? It involves kings and queens, good guys and bad guys, banquets and drinking, and, well, drinking. Purim celebrates Queen Esther of Persia foiling the evil vizier Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. This holiday is very joyous and celebratory, and possibly akin to a Jewish Mardi Gras. You get to dress up, drink, party, and just have fun.On Purim, it is traditional to make these triangle cookies filled with either jam or chocolate or poppy seeds etc. Hamentaschen are named for Haman, the villan of Purim. Some call these cookies Oznei Haman or “Haman’s ears.” Haman was also known for his triangular hat, and thus we now make triangular cookies to uh…eat the bad guy? The name “Hamentaschen” could also be a corruption of the Yiddish word montashn or the German word mohntaschen, both meaning poppyseed-filled pouches (from Wikipedia).

The pouches that I made this year did not have poppy seeds in them. Instead I filled some with homemade lime curd, some with homemade (by my buddy Tim) ginger and pear jam, and some with Nutella. Pretty freaking delicious if I say so myself.

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So this year I made two versions: one was vegan and one was not vegan. I liked them both so much, in fact I could not decide which I liked better. I guess I will just have one of each. Enjoy and Happy Belated Purim!

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The vegan Hamentaschen, with ginger and pear jam
Vegan Hamentaschen Dough
Recipe from Emily Weingarten

I really enjoyed the subtle flavor of the brown sugar in this dough. Really great vegan recipe!

2 cups unbleached flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup non-hydrogenated vegetable oil spread (such as Earth Balance)
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soymilk

Your choice of filling. Suggestions include: any flavor fruit preserves or butter, chocolate, poppyseed filling…

  1. Mix together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the vegetable oil spread, brown sugar and soymilk. Mix in the dry ingredients. Chill dough for 6 hours or overnight (I just chilled for a few hours and my dough was A-okay).
  3. On a floured surface, roll dough ¼ inch thick. Use a 3-inch cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut circles in the dough. Place a small amount of filling in the center of each circle. Pinch three corners of the dough to form a triangular-shaped cookie with a small hole in the center.
  4. Bake on a lightly oiled cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

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Jean’s Award-Winning Hamentaschen Dough Recipe

Recipe adapted from Jean, a family friend/winner of the synagogue’s Hamentaschen baking challenge

1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour

Filling of your choice

1. Beat together butter and sugar. Add the egg. Add the lemon juice and vanilla.
2. Combine salt, baking powder, and flour. Add this to the butter mixture.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least an hour.
4. Roll out your dough, cut into circles, fill the circles, pinch your edges to look like a triangle (make sure you pinch your ends together tightly otherwise they will open in the oven).
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Oh My Gah…Rainbow Cake!!!!!!!!!!

31 Dec


Yesterday I spent the day making magic in the kitchen with the infamous Linda—chef extraordinaire, queen of the kitchen, best home-cook ever! I grew up going to Linda’s house every week for Friday night dinner. She would prepare fresh baked challah bread, a homemade soup made with fresh veggies (always a different soup each time, always delicious), and then a big main course with sides galore. And for dessert—fruit, little cookies or cakes, and tea.

I really cherish those days when our families came together and enjoyed a good meal, chatting about politics and gossiping about all of the shenanigans happening in the neighborhood. Now all of the kids are older and our dinners happen less often, but when they do happen, I cherish them.

I arrived at Linda’s house yesterday with a big bag full of tart shells, sprinkles, almond extract, parchment paper, butter, aprons, and a few other miscellaneous essentials. She provided the rest.

We went to work, and our first project was to conquer one of my favorite childhood treats, RAINBOW CAKE, also known as seven layer bars.

Rainbow cake is really just almond cake with jam spread between each layer and a nice smooth layer of chocolate on top. The food coloring and sprinkles are just for aesthetics, but as Linda and I both agree, “you eat with your eyes.”


Eeeeee these are just so darling. I want to start a rainbow cake delivery service!!!!! I think that could be quite successful, don’t you? Everyone’s got a food truck these days, maybe I will start a rainbow cake truck and gallivant through different neighborhoods, putting smiles on faces.

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Ok, while I’m dreaming in LaLaLand, you should go ahead and start baking already. Once you have your cake batter, you just divide into three, drop some food coloring, spread into pans and bake, cool, and assemble. The hardest part about this recipe is the assembly, but don’t let that scare you. Enjoy the process because the end product will just make you plotz (Yiddish word for “burst” or “explode”) from so much deliciousness.

After Linda and I made the rainbow cakes, we moved on and made an apple tart with apples from her tree, and we baked challah bread (topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and black cumin seeds) and sticky buns. Our little friend Ezra enjoyed helping us sprinkle the seeds over the challahs!


This was the most fun that I have had in a while. Thanks Linda for always inspiring me to make magic.

Rainbow Cake
(aka seven layer bars)
Recipe inspired by SmittenKitchen

makes about 5 dozen bars, or more (or you can just leave it as a cake)

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste (I used a 7-oz package and it worked just fine)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained (I used raspberry preserves and did not strain them)
4-oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Optional: sprinkles

Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well.

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (we decided that a cookie sheet may have been easier) and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a little overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

2. Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

3. Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

 4. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly (we found it a bit strange to be folding egg whites into a really thick batter, but it worked fine).

5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Pour green batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). (If you own multiple pans, you can bake 2 layers at a time. We baked our green and white layers at the same time).

6. Bake your layers 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean).

7. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Bake the remaining layer (s) in same manner as above. Transfer to a rack to cool.

8. When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

9. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours (We chilled for 2 hours and were just fine. The reason for chilling so long is so that the preserves can really get pressed down and incorporated into the cake layers).

10. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature.

We decided to use one layer of chocolate on top instead of one on top and one on the bottom. Do as you please…***NOTE: If you want chocolate on both top and bottom, use 7-oz of chocolate and melt it 3.5-oz at a time.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, just stir it every 30 seconds).

11. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake, and sprinkle with sprinkles! Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. ***NOTE: If you are doing two layers of chocolate, spread your top with chocolate, refrigerate uncovered for about 15 minutes, invert, and spread your next layer with chocolate. Now you can add sprinkles. Chill.

12. Cut lengthwise into strips, Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies. Or, just leave the cake as a cake and cut slices as you please!

  • Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.