Aug 10, 2017

Marvelous Mangoes

Known as “King of the Fruit,” more mangoes are eaten throughout the world than apples.

Mango arrived in Florida in the 1830's and in California in the 1880's.  Today mangoes are grown in most warm area all over the world with India leading the way.  There are some 1000 different varieties of mango, each with its distinct degree of woodiness, varying skin colors and different sizes.

Mangoes are actual comfort food—the can really can make you feel better! Beyond being delicious and rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, mangos contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties. These comforting enzymes act as a digestive aid and may reduce abdominal ailments. 

Mangoes are now at peak season.  Their delicious flavor is the perfect accompaniment to ice cream and they shine in fruit salads. The best way to choose a ripe mango is by either smelling or squeezing. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end.

The best way to ripen a mango is at room temperature, on the kitchen counter. Mangos are ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch and yielding to gentle pressure, like a ripe peach.  Store ripe mangoes in the refrigerator.  When stored properly a mango should have a shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks. 

Cutting mangoes can be messy. Some people will opt to purchase precut mango slices at their local grocer.  But that can defeat the fact that mangoes are well priced now during the summer. Try a mango splitter. This kitchen-tested gadget cuts the flesh neatly away from the large pit and allows you to neatly slice each half. Its way more cost effective than buying it precut!

Use mangoes in salads, desserts and try it on the grill. Now is the time to enjoy!

Serve this tasty sauce over simple grilled chicken breasts that have been seasoned with salt and pepper.

2 tablespoons canola oil 

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 ripe mango, peeled & cubed

1 cup mango nectar or orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Sauté chopped onions and red bell pepper over medium heat for 5-8 minutes until soft. Stir in flour and mix until completely dissolved. Add mango, mango nectar, ginger, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring over medium heat until sauce boils and is thickened. Serve hot over grilled chicken.

A sweet twist on a summertime favorite!

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups water
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a food processor, blend the mango, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and a splash of water until smooth. This will make the purée for the lemonade. In a pitcher, combine the water, lemon juice, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Mix in the puree. Serve over ice in tall glasses.

These pops look like ice cream but are dairy-free!

1 cup coconut milk

1 mango, diced (about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons honey

1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Blend coconut milk, mango and honey in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into half of 6 ice pop molds.

Add strawberries to remaining mixture and blend.

Fill the molds to the top. Freeze for at least 3 hours.  Enjoy!

Aug 3, 2017

BBQ Breads

Yes, we all grill beef, chicken and a variety of vegetables. We have even toasted hot dog buns and pita pockets on the barbecue before building the sandwich. But did you know you can actually bake the bread from scratch on your grill? Grilled bread has amazing flavor and smoky aroma that will take your dinner over the top.

These breads are usually simple affairs that can be mixed by hand. You don’t need to be a baker to stretch and flatten a piece and throw it on the barbecue. No special skills or equipment required.

Top them with shredded beef, chummus or other bean puree or grilled vegetables.

1 pound pastrami or homemade brisket, in one piece

3 Vidalia onions, sliced in rings

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the dough:

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1-1/4 cups hot tap water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Barbecue sauce of your choice for topping

Heat grill to medium high. Brush grates with an oil-dampened paper towel. Turn down one burner to low. Place pastrami or brisket on the hotter side of the grill.

Place sliced onions in a pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place on the cooler side of the grill and allow it to cook until soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 2-3/4 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add water and oil; mix just until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Divide into 6 portions. Roll or stretch each into a 6-8” circle.

Remove beef and shred using 2 forks. Set aside.

Brush grate with a little more oil. Grill each circle, covered, over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on one side or until lightly browned. Set aside.

Spread barbecue sauce on each flatbread. Top with shredded brisket and sliced onions. Place back on the grill to crisp up. Serve immediately.

For the white bean puree:

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, slightly drained

3 cloves garlic, smashed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Sun-dried Tomato salsa:

6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and julienned

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 roasted shallots, sliced thin

For the flatbread:

1 teaspoon instant yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups hot water

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, plus more for bowl

Puree the beans, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and thyme in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Set aside.

Mix together the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, honey, and parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

For the flatbread:

Combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and oil; mix just until smooth.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Divide into half. Heat grill to high.

Flatten flatbread dough and gently press into a large rectangle and place on grill. Grill on 1 side until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from grill, turn over, and spread each flatbread with a thin layer of bean puree, roasted shallots, and salsa. Return to grill, close cover and cook for 2 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

Jul 27, 2017

Man oh Man…icotti!

Tired of baked ziti and eggplant parmesan? Try some our favorite dairy recipes using manicotti. This large tube-like pasta is perfect for holding cheeses, tomato sauce, vegetables and a host of other ingredients.

Manicotti is an Italian American pasta used to recreate Italian dishes that were traditionally made with crepes. Using manicotti saves the work of preparing crepes for these filled dishes.

Goat Cheese Manicotti

1 box manicotti

2 tablespoons light olive oil

2 large Spanish onions, diced

1 box fresh white button mushrooms, diced

2 tablespoons chives, checked and chopped

8 ounces goat cheese

1½ cups ricotta cheese

2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

 2 teaspoons kosher salt

 ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

16 ounces marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought, divided

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fill a 6 quart pot with water and bring it up to a boil.

Heat a large skillet over a medium-low flame. Add oil and onions. Cook onions on low heat, stirring often until they caramelize.  Once the onions are cooked add the mushrooms and sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a large mixing spoon or a mixer set on low add chives and goat cheese. When the cheese is soft and creamy, add ricotta, 1/3 cup of parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.

 Add manicotti pasta to the boiling water. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain well. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Fill the bag halfway with the cheese mixture.

Pour 1 cup tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish.

Carefully pipe the filling into its center of each manicotti tube.

Lay the filled manicotti on top of the sauce in a neat row.  Cover with 1 more cup tomato sauce, and 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake manicotti for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

This dish is light flavorful and even those who shy away from fish will enjoy it.

1 box manicotti

for sauce:  2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
for the salmon: 2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
30 ounces salmon fillet cubes

make the sauce: Heat butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat.  Butter will foam; cook until foam subsides. Add flour and cook, whisking, 2 minutes. Add wine and water in a slow stream, whisking, then bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in cream, zest, and pepper, and then remove from heat. 

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add kosher salt. Cook manicotti until al dente—about 12 minutes.  Drain and allow manicotti to dry a bit.

Heat butter in a large skillet. Add shallots and sauté until golden. Add salmon cubes and cook just until seared on the outside, 2-3 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 9”x13”glass or ceramic baking dish and spread half of sauce in dish. 

Pack salmon mixture into manicotti, pushing toward the center.  Place in the baking dish, arranging to fit all. Spoon the remaining sauce over manicotti. 
Bake until salmon is just cooked through and sauce is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.   Serve immediately.

Jul 20, 2017


Looking for great crunch and lots of flavor? Look no further than snap peas.  (Bet you thought I was going to say potato chips!) Snap peas give salads and side dishes a boost of flavor and texture, not to mention beautiful color.  Although they are available all year, snap peas are now at peak flavor and perfect for adding to summer salads.

Snap peas are different than snow peas as the pods—or actual peas—are round. They are similar in the fact that both are completely edible. Sometimes called sugar snap peas, they are also sweeter than snow peas.

Be sure to remove the string or fibrous membrane running along the edge, before serving or cooking. They are tough to chew and take away from enjoying the peas to their fullest. Some grocers and supermarkets sell snap peas that have already been “stringed.”

If you are trying to lose weight, sweet, crunchy sugar snap peas can be beneficial. They have 35 calories per 3-ounce or 1 cup serving. They provide 2 grams of protein, no fat, 3 grams of natural sugar and 2 grams of fiber. The fiber will help keep you feeling full and reduce your temptation to snack between meals.

Here are some of our favorite recipe options:

This salad was invented because of a package of snap peas that someone forgot to eat straight out of the bag! That’s usually our favorite way to enjoy them.

1 lb. snap peas, strings removed

1 cup shredded carrots

1 small red onion, diced

¼ cup light olive oil

¼ cup fresh dill, checked and chopped or 4 frozen cubes

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ cup sugar

½ cup vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cut snap peas in half on the diagonal. Add to a bowl with the carrots and onions. Please oil, vinegar, sugar, dill and basil in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. You can also heat it in a microwave for 2 minutes. Pour over the vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well and allow to marinate for 3-4 hours. Serve.

Asian influences make this salad perfect to serve along with your stir-fried dinner.

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced ginger

2 cups of snap peas, strings removed

1 cup frozen green peas

½ cup spiralized or julienned carrots, one whole carrot

kosher salt to taste

Sesame seeds

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger, sauté just until fragrant.

Add snap peas and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, add in peas and carrots and continue to sauté another 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Add sesame seeds and crushed red pepper. Mix and serve.

This recipe is perfect for the upcoming Nine Days. Add it to your dairy recipes to balance out all the carbs and sugar.

3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed, rinsed, dried

3 tablespoons light olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed 

1/2 cup panko crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

salt and fresh ground pepper , to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine sugar snap peas and olive oil in a mixing bowl and toss to coat.

In a separate bowl mix together garlic, panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

Add the panko mixture to the sugar snap peas and toss to combine.

Arrange in previously prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy, turning once during cooking.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Jul 13, 2017

With a Cherry on Top

We all know they taste delicious, but did you know that if you suffer from arthritis or gout cherries can be a much more potent painkiller than aspirin?  Anthocyanins—the nutrient that gives cherries their beautiful red color—found in cherries block inflammatory enzymes, reducing pain. In fact, 20 cherries are 10 times as potent as aspirin and have positive effects on gout and arthritis pain.

Fresh cherries are now at the peak of flavor so take advantage with one of our tasty recipes. Be sure to pick up our new multiple cherry pitter to make quick work of pitting your fresh cherries for these recipes.

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Salt & pepper to taste

For the salad:

4 cups leafy greens; romaine, spinach or baby greens

12 ounces smoked turkey slices, cut in strips
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced

Heat oil until hot in a small fry pan; add crushed garlic. Cook just until garlic is aromatic. Remove from heat, cool and remove garlic. Add balsamic or red wine vinegar, honey, dry mustard and ground ginger.   Add salt and pepper to your liking.  Whisk to combine ingredients.

Divide lettuce among 4 plates.  Arrange turkey strips, cherries, mango, and kiwi on lettuce. Drizzle dressing over salad. 

3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sweet cherries, halved and pitted
1 cup fresh lemon juice

Crushed ice
1 bottle (1 liter) seltzer
4 sprigs fresh mint, optional

Fresh cherries for garnish

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan; add halved cherries. Bring mixture to boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Strain syrup into an airtight container and discard cherries. Refrigerate syrup until cold.

Fill a tall pitcher with ice. Pour lemon juice and 1/3 cup syrup over ice and top with club soda. Drop in whole cherries and mint. Leftover syrup may be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.

For the crumb topping:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup canola oil

1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the cake:

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

10 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup orange juice at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 pounds fresh dark cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan or a 9” x 13” pan.

For the crumb topping, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl; add oil and almond extract, and toss mixture with a fork until crumbly. Chill topping in the freezer until needed.

For the cake, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat margarine and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time. Add juice and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, mixing after each, just until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and smooth with an offset spatula. Tap pan sharply on the countertop to remove air bubbles, and top with an even layer of cherries, pressing slightly into batter. Sprinkle with crumb topping and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until edges are golden, cake springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing sides from pan; let cool completely.

Jul 6, 2017

Big Shpritz

The food world is obsessed with sprinkles.

Sprinkles are very small pieces of candy used as a decoration or to add color to desserts such as cupcakes, doughnuts or ice cream. The tiny candies are produced in a variety of colors and are generally used as a decoration.

American manufacturers refer to the long decorations as sprinkles. In Britain, they are known as “hundreds-and-thousands” because you cannot count them. In the Northeastern US, sprinkles are often referred to as jimmies.  The sprinkles known as nonpareils are tiny balls that were originally white, but that now come in many colors.

While many candy companies claim to have invented sprinkles, the elongated shape belongs to the Dutch. Known as “hagelslag;” it was invented in 1936 and used on bread and butter as a treat.  They were named hagelslag because they resemble hail—a common occurrence in Scandinavia.  

In 1989, the Pillsbury baking company introduced a Funfetti cake mix, a white cake mix with multicolored sprinkles included in the box. The twist was the sprinkles were for coloring the batter, not for decorating the top. In a hot oven, the sprinkles melted into streaks and dots of bright color that instantly made plain cake extremely attractive to kids.

There were, of course, many copycats—sprinkles or Funfetti began appearing in all types of mixes as well as drinks, yogurt and ice cream. In home kitchens, rainbow sprinkles showed up in pancakes and waffles, cookies and cupcakes. In recent years, mostly spurred on by social media, confetti-colored sprinkles have coated the entire world of baking. In fact, a famous food blogger had sprinkles thrown at her wedding instead of rice!

2 sticks margarine, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sprinkles, plus more for sprinkle on top before baking

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl using a mixer with paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, and baking powder. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Once combined, fold in the sprinkles.
Using a medium cookie scoop, portion the dough into balls.
  Add a few more sprinkles on top of each cookie. Chill the cookies for 30 minutes. This will prevent spreading in the oven.
Preheat oven to 350F.

Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes. The cookies will be very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets until completely cool.

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 stick margarine

2 2/3 cup flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup orange juice

½ cup multi-colored sprinkles

Buttercream (recipe follows) and more sprinkles for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 24 muffin/cupcake cups with paper cupcake liners. 

Mix eggs and sugar until light. Add margarine; cream until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and orange juice and mix just until combined.  Stir in sprinkles. Pour into lined muffin cups and bake 30-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and take out of the pan. Cool.

Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)

2 tablespoons water

Cream shortening and margarine in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add water and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

To frost a cupcake, use a large pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Fill with icing and starting at outer edge, squeeze bag and pipe a spiral.

“Shpritz” the top of the cream with more sprinkles to decorate.  Yields: 24 cupcakes

Jun 29, 2017

Knish Knosh

This uniquely Jewish food arrived in America with immigrants at the very beginning of the 20th century.  It was made popular the Eastern Europeans coming from the Pale of Settlement (mainly from present-day Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine).

Knish is a Yiddish word that was derived from the Ukrainian knysh and Polish knysz.  Knishes were originally sold out of pushcarts or hand baskets to picnickers and laborers. The first actual knish bakery in America was founded in New York in 1910 by the still-famous Yonah Schimmel. While the original knishes were hand crafted works of pride, most are now mass produced and pretty bland.

Knish fillings run the gamut from mashed potatoes with onions, ground beef, kasha, or cheese with fruit.

The United States underwent a knish renaissance in the 2000s largely driven by boutique “knish shops” sprouting up all over the country.

Many of us have tried similar recipes from other cuisines but this Jewish soul food still has the largest following.  You can go with the classic or add other vegetables to your liking. Try spinach, sweet potatoes, sautéed cabbage or a combination of your favorites.


7 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup canola oil

2 onions, chopped

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons white sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic


2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

Egg wash:

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons water

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine potatoes and onions in a large bowl; season with 2 teaspoons of salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic. Mash until smooth; set aside.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat eggs, oil, warm water, and salt. Gradually stir in flour. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece out to about 9x13-inches. Slice the rolled dough in half lengthwise, then spread the potato mixture down the center of each strip.

Fold both sides of the strip over the filling and gently press to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make six logs.

Cut each log into 2 inch slices and place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet.

Gently gather the top cut edges of the dough toward the center of the potato mixture to form a bun. Beat egg yolks and water together in a small bowl. Brush each knish with egg yolk mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup canola oil

2 cups leftover beef brisket or ground beef

1 cup mashed potatoes

1 egg

1 clove garlic, crushed

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Dough recipe above

Heat oil in a large skillet; sauté onion until translucent, stirring often.  Add beef and continue cooking until heated through or the beef is browned (if using raw). Remove from heat.

Add potatoes, eggs and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Follow directions above for filling and baking.