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Jul 2, 2015


The word “pretzel” refers to bread of German origin, with a looped knot or twisted braid. Pretzels can be either soft or hard and come in a myriad shapes and sizes. Traditional soft pretzels are about the size of a hand. Most hard pretzels are much smaller. Historians believe the pretzel was invented by monks in the year 610 to symbolize marriage and represent intertwined lives. Pretzels were thought to bring prosperity and good luck.
In the 1700’s German immigrants gave rise to Pennsylvania Dutch culture. They brought with them the recipe for soft pretzels and, in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries dotted the Pennsylvania Dutch landscape.   Between 1850 and 1889 many pretzel factories opened in the Lancaster area.  Some are still in operation today.  The Anderson Pretzel Factory, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, calls itself the world's largest—they manufacture 65 tons daily. They began making pretzels by hand in 1889 and in 1955 machines were added.  Soft pretzels have become a staple for Pennsylvanians and the average Philadelphian consumes about twelve times more pretzels than the national average.
Interestingly, the crunchy hard pretzel evolved when a baker put them in the oven without rising and forgot about them. Baked too long, the pretzels grew dark, hard and crunchy—and turned out to be a wild success.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 packet active dry yeast
4 ½ cups flour
4 tablespoons canola oil plus more for the pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt or coarse salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and oil and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with a silpat or parchment paper. If you are using parchment, lightly brush paper with the oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart stockpot.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope. Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the top of the “U” in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the lined pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large slotted spatula. Return each to the lined pan and brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Jun 21, 2015

Slush Fund

With summer fast approaching you are probably thinking of ways to keep cool. Many folks turn to frozen drinks in order to fight summer heat.

A slushy, sometimes known as slush, is a flavored frozen drink. It is usually made by freezing a non-carbonated juice or other liquid. The sugar in the liquid often keeps it from freezing completely.  Because they do not require a pressure chamber to carbonate them, slushies are sold in eateries throughout the country.  They are even more popular than other frozen beverages, all of which sell millions every year. Smoothies usually contain fruit or vegetables along with juice or simple syrup. Razzles and shakes usually feature ice cream or heavy cream, making them thicker and creamier.  Smoothies, Razzles and even slush can be pretty pricey if you indulge often enough. Making these frozen drinks at home is a lot less expensive. If you are thinking you will need a high-powered blender to crush ice, think again! Our new Zoku slush and shake maker will freeze any liquid combination to the perfect slushy consistency in just minutes. It requires nothing more than gentle stirring in the special container.

You simply freeze inner core for 8 or more hours. Pour in cold juice, pureed fruit or cream up to the fill line.  Scrape the wall of the cup with the included spoon to remove ice from wall. Stir and watch it freeze.  Pick one up today and try one of these delicious and refreshing summer thirst quenchers.

This frozen drink is full or texture as well as flavor!

1 ½ cups quality vanilla ice cream
1cup fresh checked strawberries or frozen strawberries, thawed
¼ cup milk
2/3 cup cubed pound or sponge cake

For garnish:

whipped cream
sliced strawberries
pound cake crumbs

Place ice cream, strawberries and milk into a blender and purée on medium speed. Pour into the frozen slush container; stir until thick. Stir in pound cake cubes.  Pour into a tall glass and top shake with whipped cream, sliced strawberries and pound cake crumbs

Make this as sweet or as tart as you prefer

 16 ounces fresh squeezed or quality orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons honey or more to taste

 Place all ingredients into a blender and puree on medium speed. Pour into the frozen Slush Maker container; stir until thick, scraping thickened liquid off the walls of the container.

If you miss this classic cold-weather flavor try it in a frosty summer drink.

16 ounces good quality apple cider
6 tablespoons caramel sauce, dairy or pareve
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients into a blender and combine on medium speed. Pour into the frozen slush maker container and stir until thick. Pour into a tall glass, if desired, garnish with apple slices or an additional drizzle of caramel.

This drink  will be enjoyed by the adults in the family

 1 pound fresh sweet cherries, pitted or canned sweet cherries, drained well
zest of 1 small lime
1 cup (8 ounces) lemonade
6-8 fresh mint leaves

2 ounces vodka or fruit liquor

 Place all ingredients except liquor into a blender and purée on medium speed. Pour into the frozen slush maker container and stir until thick. Divide between 2 tall glasses and add 1 ounce liquor to each just before serving.

This one will quickly become the hands-down favorite!

1 cup chocolate ice cream
6 ounces heavy cream
3 tablespoons caramel sauce
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

 For garnishing:

whipped cream
chocolate covered pretzels
caramel sauce
sea salt

Place all ingredients into a blender and purée on medium speed. Pour into the frozen slush maker container and stir until thick, scraping frozen particles off the walls. If desired, top shakes with whipped cream, chopped chocolate covered pretzels, caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt.

Keep cool!

Jun 14, 2015

La La La…Lasagna!

The origin of lasagna is in dispute among food historians. Three countries with distinct cuisines all claim to have invented it. One theory is that lasagna comes from Greek word for a flat sheet of pasta dough cut into strips.  This word still used in Greek to mean a flat thin type of unleavened bread. Did they invent this layered dish of pasta, sauce and cheese?
It is believed the Romans came up with the Latin word "lasanum" in meaning "cooking pot". Later, the Italians used the word to refer to the dish in which lasagna is made. Following that, the name of the food took on the name of the serving dish.
Contrarily, some British food historians claim the original recipe was printed in the first cookbook ever published—in England—therefore it must be British in origin. They have mostly given up that claim since we all know Britain cannot hold a candle to Italy when it comes to cooking!  Besides, pasta with sauce is a truly Italian concept.  Nowadays, most folks don’t really care where it comes from as the recipes have changed over the years to include vegetables and both red and white sauces.
In Italy, lasagna noodles are totally flat, while American lasagna tends to be ruffled along the edges to help trap sauces. The best noodles are made from Durum wheat; a particularly hard wheat which stands up to extended cooking, remaining chewy and firm even after boiling and baking. Some cooks prefer to use special no-boil lasagna noodles, which are layered into a lasagna pan without being precooked. The moisture in the lasagna and the heat of the oven cook these noodles so that they are finished along with the rest of the lasagna.
We’re sure you’ve got plenty of recipes for traditional lasagna; we thought you’d like something a little different. This one contains no tomato sauce at all!

9 lasagna noodles
1 cup boiling water
1 ounce dried porcini, shiitake or oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 shallots chopped
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced (a variety adds flavor)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, checked and chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1/2 cup white wine
3 ounces low fat cream cheese
3 cups low-fat milk, divided
¼ cup flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 2-3 quart baking dish.
Cook noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside.
Combine 1 cup boiling water and dried mushrooms. Cover and let stand 30 minutes; strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid and mushrooms separately.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; add shallots to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add fresh mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sauté 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms are browned. Add parsley and half the garlic; sauté another minute. Stir in wine; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese and 1 tablespoon chives. Add reconstituted mushrooms.
Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add remaining garlic cloves to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, 2 3/4 cups milk, remaining salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Combine remaining milk and flour in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to milk mixture, and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk.
Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into the prepared baking dish and top with 3 noodles. Spread half of mushroom mixture over noodles. Repeat layers, ending with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden.

Jun 4, 2015

Make Some Lemonade!

While it may seem to be quintessentially American; the first written evidence of lemonade is found in Egyptian writings. It was enjoyed by common folks who made lemonade from lemon juice, honey and dates. 
Lemonade made with sugar was first introduced in France during the 16th century. In Paris in 1676, a business called the Compagnie de Limonadiers was given exclusive rights to sell lemonade, which their vendors sold by the cup from tanks carried upon their backs. The French term limonade has since come to mean "soft drink" in many languages.
Today, there are plenty of ready-made lemonade drinks in the grocery and supermarket. There are actually three types of lemonade: clear, cloudy and fizzy lemonade. Clear lemonade is made with carbonated soda or plain water without adding sugar. It is also referred to as lemon water.  This used to be a popular beverage in the European countries; however, lately they have begun to drink sweet versions of lemonade as well. Cloudy lemonade is a traditional drink made with plain water, lemon and sugar and is mostly found in India, USA and Canada. Fizzy lemonade refers to carbonated soda, either natural or artificial lemon flavor and high fructose corn syrup for sweetness.
Lemonade is the perfect summer drink.  You’ll find it at picnics and barbecues by the pitcherful.  Add a few lemon slices when serving or freeze lemon slices in your ice cubes to keep the lemonade nice and chilly. You can make simple lemonade or try a new adult alcoholic version. 

This sophisticated lemonade will wow the crowd

1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 quarts + 2 cups of water, divided
2 cups of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup bourbon (Old Williamsburg or other bourbon)
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon sliced into rounds, for garnish

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and 2 cups of water to a simmer and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
In a large pitcher combine the simple syrup, lemon juice, bourbon, honey and 1 quart of water. Taste and add additional water to taste.
Serve in ice-filled glasses and garnish with lemon slices.

This lemon-flavored Sangria is a family favorite!

1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 bottle Chardonnay wine
1 (12 ounce) can of frozen lemonade
1/2 cup of Triple Sec liquor
1 (20 ounce) can of pineapple chunks or tidbits, in juice
1 apple, cut into chunks
1 orange, sliced thin
1 lemon, sliced thin
6 strawberries, sliced
1 (12-ounce) can of lemon-lime soda
Whole strawberries, or lemon or orange slices, for garnish, optional

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a simmer and stir until sugar is completely dissolved to create simple syrup.
In a large pitcher, combine the wine, lemonade, Triple Sec and simple syrup. Stir well. Add the pineapple with the juice, apple chunks, orange and lemon slices, and sliced strawberries. Stir and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, stir in lemon-lime soda.

This is a milder alcoholic version that can serve the young people in your family too.
1 cup sugar
1 cup of water
3 large peaches
6 cups seltzer
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 cups moscato wine (blue bottle)

In a small pot, combine the sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Remove the skins from 2 of the peaches using a serrated peeler. Remove the pit and place peaches in the blender or food processor, and puree until liquefied.
In a large pitcher, combine the pureed peaches, the cooled simple syrup, seltzer, lemon juice and wine. Stir to combine. Add ice cubes and stir again.

Cut the remaining peach into thin slices. Stir a few of the slices into the lemonade and use the others to garnish the glasses. 

May 31, 2015

Going Greek

You don’t have to be a foodie to know that Greek yogurt has earned its place as a food fad that’s here to stay. Thicker and creamier than traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt consumption has increased steadily in the last few years. It has become equally popular among kosher consumers despite its higher cost.
The process for making regular and Greek yogurt starts off the same: milk is first heated, then cooled to the proper fermentation temperature between 106 and 114°F before bacterial cultures are added. The mixture is then left to ferment until the bacteria grows, produces lactic acid, and gels the milk proteins to produce regular yogurt. To make Greek yogurt, regular yogurt is strained extensively to remove liquid whey and lactose, leaving behind a thicker-textured yogurt.
Strained yogurt, Greek yogurt, yogurt cheese, labneh have all been part of other cuisines for centuries.  
Besides texture, here are some other differences between regular and Greek yogurt:
Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of regular yogurt. Check the nutrition facts and choose a brand highest in protein for the most benefit.  Unless you're buying nonfat or low-fat varieties, Greek yogurt has about three times the saturated fat than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt contains about half the sodium of regular yogurt. Greek yogurt contains approximately half the amount of carbohydrates of regular yogurt.  Of course, added sweeteners or fruit to any yogurt will increase the carbohydrate count.
Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise in dairy recipes. It also adds moisture to baked goods and makes delicious smoothies.

1 cup frozen sweet cherries or strawberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup pomegranate cherry juice
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1 banana, peeled and sliced in half

Combine all ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker. Enjoy immediately

Serve with your favorite vegetables or chips
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup prepared pesto (or 6 basil cubes blended with ½ cup pine nuts and 2 teaspoons olive oil)
kosher salt and black pepper
cut-up vegetables, for serving

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, pesto, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mix well until combined.

While this sounds like an odd combination of Mexican and Greek cuisines—we think you’ll enjoy it!

1 teaspoon light olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
4 scallions, checked and sliced (white and light green parts)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch each of thyme, oregano, and cayenne
3 cups fresh spinach
4 small wraps
2 eggs
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese 

In a small nonstick pan, heat the oil. Add the onion and scallions and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cooking a minute or two more until soft. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and the spices. 
Mix in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cool slightly. Use a wooden spoon to press out some of the liquid from the cooked spinach and drain. 
In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt and feta. Add to the cooled spinach and mix until combined. 
Wipe out the pan, then brush it with about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Over low heat, put one wrap in the pan and soften slightly. Turn the heat to medium and pour one quarter of the egg-spinach mixture over half of the wrap, fold the other half over and cook on one side until the egg begins to firm up, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, then cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining wraps and egg mixture and serve immediately.

May 21, 2015

Shavuos Specialties

Baking for Shavuos is our favorite kind of baking! Butter, cream cheese and heavy cream impart rich flavor to baked good that can never be achieved with parve substitutes.

8 ½ cups flour
3 heaping tablespoons instant yeast
3 sticks butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup hot water
16 ounces unwhipped cream cheese, softened
7 ounces farmer cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For assembly:
1 cup heat-proof raspberry jam (available at our store)
1 egg yolk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon oil

Make the dough:
Place all ingredients in your mixer bowl. Knead for 10 minutes and remove from bowl. Allow dough to rise 30 minutes. Divide dough in half and work with one half at a time.
Make the filling:
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the cream cheese, farmer cheese, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Roll one half into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle, and place on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread half of the jam in a 2 1/2-inch-wide strip, lengthwise, down the center of each dough rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border at the top and bottom. Top the jam with half of the filling. Make 2-inch long slits every 3/4 inch down both long sides of the dough, toward the outer edge of the dough. Fold the top and bottom ends over the filling, folding up one inch. Starting at the top, pull one cut strip at a time up and over the filling, alternating sides so the strips overlap making it appear as though the dough is braided.
Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Cover the braids and let them rise for 30 additional minutes, until they’re slightly puffy looking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush gently over the braids. Bake the braids for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes.
Mix confectioners’ sugar, milk and oil until combined. Drizzle generously over braids and allow to dry.  Yield: 2 braids, about 16 servings.

Baking spray with flour
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, diced into small cubes
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dulce de leche
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks (available in our store)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch-square baking dish with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil with baking spray.
Pulse 2 cups flour, the butter, confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt in a food processor or mixer until the mixture starts clumping together, about 1 minute. Press firmly and evenly in the bottom and 1/4 inch up the sides of the lined pan.
Bake until firm and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the dulce de leche, heavy cream, egg yolks and the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into the crust and sprinkle even with the chocolate chunks and pecans. Return to the oven and bake until set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Lift out of the pan using the overhanging foil. Cut into 1 ½ inch squares and serve.

Yield: 25 cookie bars 

May 17, 2015

I’ll Have Tuna

While we’re not quite sure how tuna salad became a seuda shlishis staple we can tell you how it became an indispensable American food. 
Culinary evidence from old cookbooks and restaurant menus confirms cooked chicken and mayonnaise-type salads were popular in America all the way back to colonial times. They were extremely popular in the mid-late 19th century.
Canned tuna was first introduced and mass marketed to the American public in 1903. It began as the sardine canning industry but quickly expanded to tuna when there was a dearth of sardines.  It was discovered that steam cooked tuna resulted in a hearty tasty dish.  Canned tuna quickly became popular as an alternative to salads made from chicken and turkey. During WWI its widespread use as the perfect protein for American doughboys helped the industry expand.
Ladies magazines in the early 1900’s touted canned tuna as a handy item for good housekeepers and offered some suggestions on how to serve it. Here is an early recipe:
Tuna fish salad
1 can Tuna fish
shredded lettuce
salt and red pepper to taste
1 tablespoonful vinegar
2 tablespoonfuls lemon-juice
Mayonnaise dressing
1 tablespoonful capers
1 hard-cooked egg
2 or 3 stuffed olives.
Line a salad dish with shredded lettuce. Break the fish into pieces and place it on top of the lettuce. Mix the salt, red pepper, lemon-juice, and vinegar together and pour over the fish. Chill, and when ready to serve, decorate with the capers, slices of hard-cooked egg, and the stuffed olives. Service with mayonnaise dressing. Another method.--Flake one can of Tuna fish with a silver fork, add one and one-half cupful of diced celery and one-half cupful of broken English walnut meats, mix with mayonnaise--or boiled dressing. Serve on crisp lettuce leaves."
---Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes [1916]

Of course you can stick with just a bit of mayonnaise to make your tuna salad; we think you will want to try some of our interesting options.

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
Salt and pepper
2 cans water-packed tuna, well drained
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
5 scallions, minced
½ cup finely chopped nori (about 2 sheets)
1½ tablespoons black sesame seeds

Toss cucumber with ½ teaspoon salt in a strainer or colander set over a bowl. Drain for at least 1 hour. Rinse cucumber, dry with paper towels, and place in medium bowl (you should have about 1¼ cups).
In another medium bowl, use a fork to stir the tuna, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, flaking tuna as you stir. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper to taste to combine. Vigorously whisk in sesame and canola oils. Add dressing, celery, scallion, nori, sesame seeds, and cucumber to tuna mixture and stir until well combined and tuna is evenly moistened.

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cans tuna, well drained
2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
6 red radishes, finely chopped
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
2 cups baby arugula leaves, roughly chopped

In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir tuna, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, flaking tuna as you stir. In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, oil, garlic, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until smooth and uniform. Scrape the dressing mixture into the tuna, add radishes, chickpeas, capers, and onions, and stir until well combined and tuna is evenly moistened. Add the arugula and stir to combine.