Mar 31, 2016

Not a Potato


In 1992, a comparison was done on the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value.  Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Studies have consistently shown that a high intake of beta carotene-rich vegetables and fruits, like sweet potatoes, can significantly reduce the risks of cancer. Sweet potatoes contain virtually no fat or sodium. And, despite the name "sweet", they may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as studies have revealed that they help to stabilize blood sugar levels.

The sweet potato is not actually a potato, only a distant cousin. Potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots. The reason for the name may be found in the original Spanish word for sweet potato;”batata.” From there it was an easy change to potato and the common mistake that the two are related.

The sweet potato has yellow or orange flesh, and its thin skin may either be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends.

When selecting sweet potatoes, only choose those that are smooth, plump, dry and clean. Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting a sweet potato or the flesh will discolor.

It takes six to eight weeks after harvest for sweet potatoes to reach their peak in sweetness. They can be stored at home for up to two months in a dark cool place.  Sweet potatoes can be baked, grilled, steamed, sautéed and roasted. Their mildly sweet flavor lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes. Roasting sweet potatoes rather than boiling them, will keep all the nutritional benefits and bring out their inherent flavor. Bake up some sweet potatoes wedges with cinnamon and brown sugar or add them to a gratin. Any way you use them will be sure to please your family.  

All this fascinating information is food for thought as you plan your Pesach menus. Serve them instead of white potatoes to ramp up the health benefits of your yom tov meals.


Sweet potatoes and pears go well together in this easy dish.


2 Bartlett pears

Juice of 1 lemon

6 medium sweet potatoes

4 tablespoon canola oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional

1/2 cup light brown or regular granulated sugar


Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Peel, core, and roughly chop the pears; place in the water. Add the lemon juice. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the pears are easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove pears using a slotted spoon, and set aside.  

Wash potatoes and dry.  Rub with a bit of canola oil and prick skins with a fork. Bake potatoes on a roasting pan at 400 degrees F for 1 hour, or until done. Smaller potatoes only need about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the cooked flesh into a large bowl, reserving the empty potato skins. Add the oil and pears to the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the egg, salt, pepper, cloves and spoon or pipe into the reserved shells.  Place filled potatoes on a lined baking pan.

Sprinkle sugar over potato tops and bake until tops brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cinnamon stick

4 pounds sweet potatoes


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment. 

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the oil, sugar, water, salt and ginger.  Add the cinnamon stick and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove cinnamon stick and discard.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut them in wedges lengthwise.  Toss potato wedges with brown sugar mixture and spread on prepared pan.  Bake 40 minutes or until tender, stirring once after 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Mar 17, 2016

Something Fishy

Serving fish at your Purim seuda is commonplace. But the recipe you use does not have to be! Try one of our delicious dishes this year and treat your family to something new!


Elegant and delicious; the pistachios and mint give this salmon a new dimension.

2 lbs salmon filet, from mid section, cut lengthwise into 8-10 ¼” strips

 Salt and freshly ground pepper 

¼ cup light olive oil

1 bunch parsley, leaves and stems, chopped

4 tablespoons fresh mint, checked and chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 c shelled unsalted pistachios

1 lemon, zested and juiced

½ cup light olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper


 Grease or line a sheet pan. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Starting at one end of a salmon strip, fold it over to make the center “bud”. Keep wrapping the strip until you reach the end.   Place on prepared pan and drizzle with a light olive oil, add a generous grind of black pepper and salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Roughly chop the parsley and mint and place in a medium sized bowl. Roughly chop the pistachios and add to bowl.  Add garlic, lemon zest and juice. Stir in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

 It’s best to make the salsa a little in advance to allow the zest and garlic to infuse into the oil.

Serve each rosette on a bed of salsa.


This dish has a bit of a Mediterranean flavor that makes it unique!

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1-1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds

olive oil cooking spray

1 teaspoon kosher salt

16 bamboo skewers soaked in water 1 hour

Line a sheet pan with foil and preheat broiler or heat a grill pan until sizzling.

Mix oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.
Beginning and ending with salmon, thread salmon and folded lemon slices onto 8 pairs of parallel skewers to make 8 kebabs total. Spray the fish lightly with oil or brush with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and the spice mixture.

Broil or grill salmon skewer on each side until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes total, turning once to cook both sides.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cedar Salmon

You may have seen lots of recipes using cedar to add flavor to your salmon but hesitated because they sounded complicated.  Now you can try this simple recipe that packs a punch!

6 cedar sheets
6 salmon fillets, skin removed—about 1 lb

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons brown sugar, not brownulated


Soak cedar sheets in salted water for a ½ hour, then drain.

Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay each salmon filet on a cedar sheet and spread the mustard over the top and sides. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and crumble between your fingers, then sprinkle over the mustard. Fold up the sides of the wrap and tie with kitchen twine.
Heat your broiler or grill to high. Place the wrapped fillets on a foil-lined pan or on the grill rack.

Cook until cooked through, around 15-20 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a platter and serve wrapped.

Mar 10, 2016

Chocolate is The Answer!

To everyone’s question—“What should I make for shalach manos?”

Whether you make chocolate truffles, chocolate bark or chocolate logs, chocolate answers the age-old question. Most everyone likes chocolate and with so many delicious options you are sure to find a recipe that will make your friends and family sing your praises!


1 cup chopped pecans 
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

12 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

8 ounces mini marshmallows


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans and coconut on baking sheet; bake until golden, 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Line a jelly roll or sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper.

Melt chocolate over a double boiler and spread evenly in the lined pan. Sprinkle with toasted nuts, graham crackers and marshmallows. Tap the pan firmly on the counter to remove air bubbles. Allow chocolate to set at cool room temperature or freezer.

Break into uneven pieces and store airtight.


8 ounces good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Melt the 2 chocolates in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, coming almost to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Log


Log mold

Acetate sheet

Transfer sheet or texture sheets



1 lb. praline paste

2 lbs. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

6 ounces hazelnut brittle (optional)

2 cups cornflakes (optional)

Additional 8 ounces bittersweet coating if using a transfer sheet


Melt the chocolate and praline in a microwave or double boiler. Stir to combine and melt completely.  Use an immersion blender to smooth out all lumps of praline. Stir in the nuts or cornflakes if using.

Cut the acetate sheet in half lengthwise.

Line the mold with one acetate sheet. Reserve extra acetate for another use.

Method 1- Place a transfer sheet trimmed to the size of the mold face up on top of the acetate. Pour the chocolate mixture into mold and put into the refrigerator to set. It can take up to 4 hours for the chocolate to be completely hardened.

When the log is firm, release the two ends with a thin metal spatula and invert the log onto a tray. Gently remove acetate sheet and transfer sheet. Slice off the part of the log that the transfer sheet didn’t cover. You can melt that again for your next log or to make truffles.

Method 2- Pour the chocolate mixture into mold directly on top of the acetate and put into the refrigerator to set. When the log is firm, release the two ends with a spatula and invert the log onto a tray.  Gently remove acetate sheet.

Melt the bittersweet coating for the topping. Trim the transfer sheet to the exact size need to cover the log. Gently spread the melted and cooled chocolate evenly over the sheet. Lift the transfer sheet and drape over log. Place in refrigerator to set. After about 30 minutes, remove transfer sheet.

Store at room temperature.

You can also use an acetate texture sheet or silicone mat in your mold to give the log a texture rather than a printed exterior. Simply place in the mold, design side up and proceed as directed above.


Mar 3, 2016

Satisfying Salads

Let’s face it—salad for lunch sounds like a great idea until your stomach begins rumbling an hour later. Filling up on greens is great for the diet but adding protein will keep you satisfied for hours. Nuts, beans, low fat cheese and lean meat will keep you from being hungry and heading towards the nosh cabinet! Try adding 2 sliced hard boiled eggs or cubes of low fat mozzarella to your favorite tossed salad. Or use a cup of drained chickpeas or black beans to replace the croutons in your Caesar salad.  Try some sliced smoked turkey and sunflower seeds in your standby cabbage salad and it will keep your full all afternoon.


4 cups fresh spinach leaves, checked 

1 English cucumber, peeled and diced

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup fresh mint or basil leaves, checked & coarsely chopped or 1 teaspoon dry

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; more as needed

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, optional

1 teaspoon kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 cup feta cheese, diced small


Place the spinach leaves, cucumber, tomatoes and mint and chickpeas in a bowl.

 In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in the feta. Add the feta mixture to the spinach, season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and mix well. Serve at once.


2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed

2 cups fresh wax beans, trimmed

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons dried basil

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Freshly ground black pepper


 Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the beans in the water until crisp-tender; cook each type separately as cooking time will vary.   Run beans under cold water to cool. Drain well and put the beans in a serving bowl.

 In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced red onion, return to a boil. Allow to cool, about 15 minutes. Drain the onions and reserve the vinegar.

Toss the marinated onions with the beans, add 2 tablespoon of the vinegar and the olive oil. Add the basil and pine nuts, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss again. Add more of the vinegar if you’d like a little more tang.

This salad tastes even better after marinating for a day or two in the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar snap peas

1/2 cup regular or light mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon yellow or Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoons fresh dill, checked and chopped

1 bag romaine lettuce

1 red bell pepper, cut in strips

1 small red onion, sliced thin

8 ounces smoked turkey breast, cut in strips


In a pot of boiling water or in a microwave safe dish, cook peas, covered, for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and dill.

Arrange romaine lettuce on 4 plates. Add peas, pepper, onion and turkey strips. Top with dressing.

Hearty appetite!

Feb 25, 2016

Terrific Taters

There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States but they basically boil down to a few categories. Using the right potatoes for your recipe will make all the difference in the finished dish.

Russets are ideal for light and fluffy mashed potatoes. They also fry up crisp and golden brown, and they are the potato of choice for baking. Try cutting into planks or wedges to make hearty oven-roasted fries.

Because of their waxy texture, the flesh of red potatoes stays firm throughout the cooking process, whether they are being roasted or cooked in a stew. Their thin yet vibrant red skin adds appealing color and texture to side dishes and salads. Reds are frequently used to make potato salad or add pizzazz to soups and stews.  

White potatoes hold their shape well after cooking. Their delicate, thin skins add just the right amount of texture to a velvety mashed potato dish without the need for peeling. Grilling whites brings out a more full-bodied flavor.

Grilling gives yellow potatoes a crispy skin that enhances the dense flesh, creating a slightly sweet caramelized flavor. The creamy texture and golden color of yellow potatoes mean you can use less or no butter for lighter, healthier dishes.

Most blue/purple potatoes have moist, firm flesh that retains its shape while adding rich, vibrant color and luscious taste to salads. The purple color is preserved best by microwaving, but steaming and baking are also great ways to cook blue/purple potatoes.

Red, White and Blues—combine in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors pop.

Fingerling color and shape are a welcome visual addition to any dish. Pan-frying and roasting enhance their robust flavor and showcase their wonderful nutty or buttery tastes.

Try this delicious potato recipe for dinner tonight!


4 slices thick-cut pastrami chopped

6 scallions, checked, chopped, divided

5-6 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook pastrami in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of fat is rendered and pieces begins to crisp, about 5 minutes. Set 1 tablespoon of scallions aside. Add remaining scallions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until pastrami is crisp and scallions are soft, 4–5 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, remove pastrami mixture from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add 3 tablespoons canola oil to the fat remaining in skillet.

Coarsely shred potatoes into a large bowl. Working in batches, squeeze potatoes with your hands to release liquid and transfer to another large bowl. Discard liquid. Add the reserved pastrami mixture to the squeezed potatoes. Season with 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper; toss to evenly distribute.

Heat skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Scrape potato mixture into hot skillet, pressing with a spatula into an even layer. Tent with foil; cook for 10 minutes, rotating skillet frequently to avoid hot spots. Remove foil; cook rösti until bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Run a spatula around sides and underneath rösti. Invert a large plate over skillet. Using oven mitts carefully flip rösti onto plate.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to skillet. Heat.  Slide rösti back in, browned side up. Tent with foil; cook for 5 minutes. Uncover; cook until browned on bottom and potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Gently run spatula around sides and underneath rösti and slide onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with reserved scallions and season with more salt, if desired.


Feb 18, 2016

Tipsy Turvy

How many times have you hesitated to try a new recipe because of its alcohol content? Do you by-pass all those delicious dishes that call for liquor, wine or beer for fear of getting your family drunk? Many cooks would agree with your view, however misguided it may actually be.

The flavor and aroma achieved with these ingredients is not to be lightly passed over.  Nothing compares to that smoky flavor imparted by bourbon or whiskey in cakes, pies and barbecue dishes.  Desserts flambéed (flamed) with brandy are an all-time classic.  Chicken and beef dishes benefit greatly from the addition of red wine to the basting ingredients. Beer-baked poultry retains lots of moisture but almost no alcohol.  Most of the alcohol cooks away due to the heat of cooking. 

So here’s the scoop on how much alcohol remains after various means of food preparation.  The amount of alcohol evaporation depends on several factors. Higher temperatures and longer cook times will cause greater dissipation of the alcohol. The longer a dish cooks the less alcohol it retains. The higher the temperature, the more evaporation takes place.

A flambéed fruit dessert will retain the highest alcohol content as it’s cooked for only a minute or two.

A veal shoulder or rib roast, cooked or baked for 2 hours and basted with a mixture of red wine, garlic and pepper will emerge almost alcohol-free but very tender and tasty.

The size of the pot used will also affect the alcohol level in the finished dish. The same Chicken Marsala prepared in a 10” sauté pan will have a higher content than that dish cooked in a 12” pan because the wider area allows for more evaporation.

A pound cake or pie baked at 350 degrees for 1 hour will retain minute amounts of liquor or whiskey but plenty of mouthwatering flavor.

Adding alcohol to a sauce at the end of cooking will result in very little evaporation.  If this is an issue for you or others eating the dish, you may want to deviate from the recipes instructions just a bit, and add the wine or spirits earlier.

Our list here shows how much alcohol remains after various kitchen techniques.

·        If no heat is applied, such as liquor added to a fruit salad, remaining alcohol is at 100%

·        Overnight marinating with no heat applied; 70% remains

·        Alcoholic ingredients added to boiling liquid, and immediately removed from heat leave 85% of the alcohol behind. 

·        Flambéed dishes retain 75% of the brandy used

Baked recipes with alcohol stirred into the ingredients:

·        15 minutes—40%

·        1 hour—25%

·        2 hours—10%

·        2.5 hours—5% 

Now that you know your family won’t be turning tipsy with every new dish, you’ll want to try this:


1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 whole salmon fillet (about 2 1/2-pounds)


For the relish:

3 large navel oranges

1 red pepper, cut in match sticks

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

canola oil

sesame seeds


Marinate the salmon:

Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend.  Pour marinade into a 9” x 13” glass or ceramic baking dish.  Place salmon fillet, skin side up, in orange juice mixture; cover with plastic and chill at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Segment oranges and discard peel. Place in a bowl. Add red pepper and next seven and stir to combine.  Relish can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and generously brush with oil. Place fish, skin side down, on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until fish is just opaque in center, about 20 minutes. Using large spatula, gently loosen salmon from the parchment. Using parchment as an aid, carefully lift salmon from sheet and allow salmon to slide from paper onto a platter. Mound orange relish down center of the fish, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.





Feb 11, 2016

Eat Paste!

No—we don’t mean paste as in glue!

Nut butter or paste is a spreadable food made by grinding nuts until their natural oils are released.  They had a high natural fat content but it is a fat that is actually good for you.

Nut pastes or nut butters are becoming increasingly popular among both professional and home bakers.   Nut butters are naturally gluten-free, trans fat-free and low in carbohydrates. They add a buttery mouth-feel to baked goods and work as a thickener. In general, tree nuts are a good source of unsaturated fat, linolenic acid and beneficial omega 3 oils and they are usually free of preservatives and artificial colors.

Deeply roasted nut butter adds a rich flavor and can help compensate for the bland taste of some gluten-free blends. Nut butters work especially well to add flavor in brownies, bar cookies and sugar cookies, both gluten-free and traditional. Nut butters are also widely used in energy bars to bind the ingredients while adding protein.

Pistachio paste, in particular has been gaining a following once consumers taste baked goods that contain this pretty green ingredient. We like both the flavor and color it imparts to cookies, meringues and mousses. Our friend, Chef Efrat Leibfroind introduced numerous recipes using pistachio paste during her last visit to the US when she taught culinary classes. The students were excited by this new taste sensation and we have made it available to the home baker.

Try some of our new recipes using our pistachio paste:

This pretty green pie makes one 9-10 inch delicious dessert.

For the pie crust:

12-14 chocolate graham crackers

3 tablespoons margarine, softened

3 tablespoons sugar


For the filling:

2 eggs

6 yolks

½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

½ cup pistachio paste

2 cups whipped topping, defrosted


Bittersweet chocolate for garnish

Chopped pistachios for garnish


Process graham crackers in the food processor with the margarine and sugar until finely ground. Press into a 9” pie plate or springform pan and refrigerate.

Beat together the eggs, yolks and confectioners’ sugar in a heat-proof large bowl.  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Cook the mixture stirring with a whisk until the eggs are slightly thickened.

Remove the bowl from the heat and place on your countertop.  Stir in the pistachio paste, which will help cool the mixture.

Beat the topping until stiff.  Fold it into the cooled pistachio mixture.  Pour or pipe mixture into the prepared pie shell.  Top with chopped pistachios and chocolate curls then cover loosely and freeze for at least 6 hours or until firm.


These crumbly cookies melt in your mouth as you enjoy them!

2 sticks (8 ounces) margarine, softened

½ cup pistachio nut paste

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup chopped, toasted, and salted pistachios

Powdered sugar for rolling


Preheat oven to 325°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment or silpat pan liners.

Cream the margarine, pistachio paste, and sugar in your electric mixer. Blend in the vanilla and water.

Mix in the flour and baking powder until the dough is smooth and stiff. Blend in the nuts.

Use a medium cookie scoop to portion dough into 4 dozen 1 inch cookies. Dampen your hands and roll cookies into balls. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 18-25 minutes, until a light golden brown.

When cool, roll in powdered sugar. Store in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. If the confectioners’ sugar dissolves into the cookies you can roll again in powdered sugar before serving.