May 17, 2018

Going Flat

Flatbread or pizzas with delicious topping combinations are the “in thing” right now. From pulled beef pizzas to roasted sweet potatoes and runny eggs, pizza toppings are the darling of creative chefs everywhere. These loaded pizzas have become full-fledged meals all baked in one pan. They can be done on flat sheet pans or deep 9”x13” pans to hold even more toppings. The latest trend is baking the pizza in a cast iron skillet for an amazingly crisp crust at home.

These pizzas can be a great addition to your yom tov menu. They are kid-friendly and you can change toppings to suit your family’s tastes.  Serve them as an appetizer or side dish, or a component of your buffet.  We’ve got one fleishig and milchig recipe—both are delicious!

For the pizza dough

2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups flour 

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup hot tap water

2 teaspoons kosher salt


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 spicy sausage, sliced thin

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast and flour.  Add the oil, water and salt. Stir together with a large spoon until a sticky dough forms. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a bowl that is lightly coated with a little olive oil, making sure the dough is evenly coated in the oil. Place a damp cloth on top of the bowl and let sit in a warm place for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 550 degrees, divide dough in half.

Working with one half, roll and stretch the dough until it’s about 10-12” in diameter. Place it in the skillet and continue to flatten until it evenly fills the skillet, leave the outer edge of the dough thicker if you're a crust fan.  

Spread olive oil over the dough. Drizzle with mustard.  Lay out sweet potato, sausage and onions, leaving an inch around the outside.

Bake pizza for about 17-18 minutes, or until crust is brown and sausage is sizzling. Remove from oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes, then serve.

Serve this delicious bread alongside your appetizer or salad

2 teaspoons sugar

1½ teaspoons instant yeast 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

8 oz Gouda cheese grated 

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

 8 oz baby arugula, checked

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine 1 cup very warm water (115-120 degrees F), the sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the flour and salt; stir to form a sticky dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, dusting with flour.

 Brush a large bowl with olive oil; add the dough, loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Stretch the dough on the baking sheet. Cover with a towel; set aside until doubled, 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Scatter ¾ of the cheese, bell pepper and scallion whites over the dough. Bake until the crust is golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Toss the arugula and scallion greens with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the sea salt. Sprinkle over the flatbread. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and bake 2 to 3 more minutes or until cheese bubbles.

May 10, 2018

Salmon and Salad, a Winning Combination

Looking for new ways to perk up your salmon this yom tov? How about a salad? We have salad recipes that incorporate salmon so your appetizer looks more enticing than ever before. Ramp up the flavor by combining seasoned salmon fillets with dressed vegetables for satisfying flavor.

For the fish:

16 cubes salmon filet

½ cup sweet chili sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cups panko crumbs

2 tablespoons canola oil

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons light olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

12 ounces baby greens

1 small red onion, sliced thin

1 yellow pepper, sliced thin

½ pound snow peas; cut on the diagonal into thin strips

Marinate the salmon: mix the chili sauce and mayonnaise in a Ziploc plastic bag or non-reactive container. Rinse fish fillets and pat dry. Add to sweet chili mixture and stir to coat. Allow it to marinate 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil. Remove salmon cubes from marinade and pat dry on paper towels. Place panko crumbs in a bowl and coat fish cubes thoroughly. Place fish on the lined pan and bake 15 minutes turning once to brown all sides of the cubes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare the dressing: Place all the ingredients in container and whisk or shake vigorously to combine.

Divide greens, sliced onion, sliced peppers and snow peas among 4 large plates. Top each with 4 salmon cubes and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

1 pound salmon, skinless, cut into 4 fillets

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon light olive oil to sauté

Lemon dill dressing:

3 tablespoons lemon juice from 2 medium lemons

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh dill, checked and chopped

for the salad:

6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped (about 2 bags)

1/2 English cucumber sliced

6 radishes thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion (1/2 cup) thinly sliced

2 avocados pitted, peeled and sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until well combined.  Set aside.

Season both sides of salmon filets with kosher salt and black pepper.

Heat 1/2 oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat until shimmering. Once oil is hot, add salmon and cook 3-4 minutes per side or until golden and cooked through (cook time can vary depending on thickness of salmon filet). Remove salmon to a plate and spoon 1 teaspoon of the dressing over each filet. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Arrange salad ingredients in the salad bowl: romaine lettuce, sliced cucumber, sliced radishes, red onion, and sliced avocados. Drizzle with remaining lemon dressing and toss to combine. Divide between 4 plates and top each plate with a salmon filet.

1 pound skinless salmon fillets

Kosher salt and ground pepper

3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh basil, checked and chopped or 4 cubes frozen

3 Persian cucumbers,  sliced thin

4 to 6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced crosswise (1 cup)

Heat broiler.  Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with salt and pepper; rub with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Broil, 4 inches from heat source, until fillets are opaque throughout, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cook green beans in a medium pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes; drain, and let cool slightly. 

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil, lime juice, and basil; season generously with salt and pepper. Add green beans, cucumber, and radishes. With a fork, break salmon into large chunks. Add to salad; toss gently. Serve immediately.

May 3, 2018

Muffin Much

What’s the difference between a muffin and a cupcake you ask? Cupcakes tend to have frostings and decoration while muffins may not. On the other hand, muffins sometimes have streusel and sugar crystal topping while cupcakes don’t.  So while the perception is that muffins are “healthier” than cupcakes, that’s not often the case. Unless they contain healthier ingredients; but you can switch to whole wheat flour and applesauce for either muffins or cupcakes. So at the end of the day, what is the difference? Nuthin’ much!

We have all seen many healthy muffin recipes, including those that use oats or fiber cereals. They usually contain unsweetened applesauce in place of sugar and oil or butter. Those are fine all year long. But when planning your Shavuos baking, we say stick with the real thing and enjoy it in moderation with your family as a yom tov treat. You can go back to oat bran on Tuesday!

Both these muffins freeze well so you can start your baking today.

This recipe combines 2 milchig favorites!


one 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract


2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed; about 2 medium-large carrots

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line the pan with paper muffin cups.

Stir together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Set aside.

make the muffin batter:

 In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and butter.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Fold in the grated carrots, stirring to combine.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom.   Drop on a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese filling.

Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups quite full. The batter should come to within about 1/4" of the top of each muffin cup.  

Bake the muffins until a cake tester inserted into the cake part of one (not into the cream cheese filling) comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The tops of the muffins will feel firm to the touch.

Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you're able to handle them, transfer them to a rack. If you serve the muffins warm, the filling will be soft. If you wait for them to cool, it'll firm up.

Feel free to substitute for any other nuts you prefer, or add some caramel chips for even more flavor

2 cups chopped pecans, divided

1 cups brown sugar, packed 

1 1/2 cups flour 

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream or whole milk

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled

Sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of pecans, sugar, flour and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the vanilla, cream or milk and melted butter and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry ingredients, stirring until moistened.

Spoon the batter into the cups, filling each almost full. Sprinkle remaining pecans and sugar crystals on top.  Bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in a muffin, about 20 minutes.

Apr 26, 2018

America’s Favorite Condiment

Ketchup as we know it today originated in Asian culture.  It was originally a spicy, pickled fish sauce made of anchovies, walnuts, mushrooms and kidney beans.  It dates back hundreds of years was called ke-tsiap or kecap and was popular in 17th-century China. British seamen brought ke-tsiap home with them where the name was changed to catchup and then finally ketchup. Ketchup started out as a general term for any type of sauce made of mushrooms, herbs and spices. Some early ingredients included cucumbers, berries, lemon juice, celery and grapes. Mushroom ketchup is still available in some countries, and banana ketchup is popular in the Philippines.

It wasn't until the late 1700s though that New Englanders added tomatoes to the blend.  In 1824, a ketchup recipe using tomatoes appeared in The Virginia Housewife--an influential 19th-century cookbook written a cousin of Thomas Jefferson.

Tomato ketchup began its rise in popularity in the United States, due mostly to the American enthusiasm for tomatoes. Tomato ketchup was first sold locally by farmers.

Henry J. Heinz began making ketchup in 1876 and his recipe remains the same to this day.  Heinz tomato ketchup was advertised: "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!"  By 1992, yearly ketchup sales reached $723 million. In October 2000, Heinz introduced colored ketchup which eventually included green, purple, pink, orange, teal, and blue. These products were made by adding food coloring to the traditional ketchup. But Americans remained true to the original and as of 2006[update] these products have been discontinued.

When HJ Heinz Co. began advertising the health benefits of consuming ketchup, nutritionists were up in arms. Their campaign was a result of several studies that found eating cooked tomato products decreased the risk of certain type of cancer. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene is better absorbed from cooked tomato products. But, adding ketchup to burgers and French fries will not make them into health foods.

In the 1980's ketchup was declared a vegetable by the government for school lunch menus; a fact that is still ridiculed by nutritionist until today. 

Ketchup is one of the few foods that wakes up all our taste buds, from sweet to salty to sour to bitter. That must be the reason for its everlasting popularity. You may use it simply to dress up your burger or dunk your fries, but ketchup add flavor to lots of other dishes and can be found in many recipes.

Deconstructed tacos are a delicious dinner option!

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 pound ground beef

1/2         cup ketchup

4 cups salad greens or romaine lettuce

2 cups small taco chips

1 medium tomato, diced

2 scallions, checked and sliced

¼   cup hot barbecue sauce

¼    cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Sauté for 5 minutes.

Crumble in beef and thoroughly cook. Stir in ketchup and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange greens on a large platter. Top with a layer of taco chips.

Spoon meat onto chips. Sprinkle with tomato and scallions.

Blend barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, water and juice. Drizzle over salad and serve.

This dipping sauce is a tasty step up from just pouring ketchup out of the bottle

1-1/2     cups ketchup

½ cup orange juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

½ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened.

Serve warm or cool as a dipping sauce for fried chicken fingers, egg rolls, or chicken wings.

Apr 19, 2018

Stinking Rose Day

April 19th is National Garlic Day. Yes, another one of these obscure food holidays. This one should remind you to incorporate garlic into your cooking whenever you can.

Garlic, known fondly as “the stinking rose” is part of the lily family together with onions, chives and scallions.  Garlic is the only food that can actually kill bacteria and at the same time protect the body from the poisons that are causing the infection. Garlic has been known to lower cholesterol and even fight cancer.  Medical research studies have shown a marked effect on cholesterol levels when eating garlic daily for a number of weeks.  Other studies show us that regular consumption of garlic lowers blood pressure as well.  Garlic has also been shown to increase the birth weight of babies when taken on a regular basis by their mothers.   Before the advent of antibiotics, garlic was used to treat wounds and infections on battlefields.  It has been shown to be effective against such life threatening diseases as tuberculosis and asthma. 

While the accolades for garlic’s medicinal powers are impressive, we love garlic because it adds flavor to foods like no other single ingredient.  Adding some crushed garlic to your salad dressing, marinades and soups will make them sing. 

The easiest way to crush garlic is with a quality garlic press. Better presses allow you to crush the cloves without peeling them. Just put the clove into the press and squeeze. The flesh will come out through the holes while the skin stays inside.  Then remove the skin with the tip of your knife.

We’ve got some delicious garlicky recipes for you to try.

You can easily make this pizza shop classic at home for dinner tonight!

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for baking sheet

1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature for 30 minutes

flour for dusting

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

Kosher or sea salt

Lightly butter a baking sheet.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Cut dough in half. Cut each half crosswise into 1-inch-thick strips (for 24 strips total). Tie each strip into a knot, gently stretching dough as needed. Place on prepared sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until slightly puffed, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake knots until cooked through and golden, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup butter with garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic butter to a large bowl; stir in oregano.

Place warm bread knots in bowl with garlic butter; toss until well coated. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with flaky salt.

Looking for new flavors for your basic roast chicken? Look no further than this well-seasoned dish!

4 chicken bottoms

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 sprigs rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried

2 heads of garlic, cut in half crosswise

2 bunches red scallions

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350.  Place rosemary, garlic, and 1 bunch of scallions in a roasting pan.

Place chicken, skin side up, on top of aromatics. Roast, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 40-45 minutes.

Brush chicken with 1 Tbsp. oil and turn on broiler. Broil 5-10 minutes or until skin chars. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Ramp up canned chickpeas with this quick recipe!

2 15-oz. cans chickpeas (rinsed)

4 crushed garlic cloves

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup light olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook chickpeas with garlic and crushed red pepper in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is golden and chickpeas begin to blister, 6–8 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Apr 12, 2018

Wholesome is the Key

With the advent of social media, age-old traditions, once closely held by small communites have been introduced to Yidden of all types. Shlissel challah is no exception. Just as there are now Ashkenazim celebrating the end of Pesach with Mimouna, many Sephardim and even unaffiliated Jews have begun baking key-shaped challah the Shabbos after Pesach.

There is no rule as to how the challah should look. And tradition does not even tell us if the challah should be shaped like a key or just have a key tucked into it. Should it be a real key or maybe a piece of challah dough cut with a key-shaped cookie cutter? (Yes, this is a plug for those, since we sell the cookie cutter!) The key to this tradition—pardon the pun—is actually just baking a challah! How you chose to decorate it is up to you.

In the past we’ve written about shlissel challah and always included a traditional white flour recipe. Lately, folks have been leaning toward a healthier version. Our whole wheat challah does not have any sweetening agent in it at all. You will find it is not missing the sugar or honey or even sugar substitute at all. It’s got a bread-like taste and using instant, not active dry, yeast ensures a beautiful rise. The only difference is using hot, not warm water.  Instant yeast requires hotter temperatures to revive the freeze-drying process.  Tap water is fine, no need to boil. Plus, you will be amazed at how quickly the dough rises.

The best part; it’s a simple recipe with easy instructions. The kind of recipe even a first-time baker will not find intimidating. Go ahead and try!

5 lbs white whole wheat flour (I like brain grain)
3 1/3 tablespoons instant yeast (I'm a Fleischman’s yeast snob)
6 cups HOT tap water
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
3 heaping tablespoons kosher salt

2 egg yolks, beaten

Poppy seeds or sesame seeds for sprinkling

Place flour into mixer bowl, if you prefer to sift, go ahead and do that. Whole wheat flour is hard to sift. I prefer to buy mine from a busy grocery or even a bakery to ensure freshness. Add all remaining ingredients in order.  Knead at lowest speed for 10 minutes.  Remove from the mixer and place in a large bowl or on a plastic-covered work space.

Let the dough rest 10 minutes.
Take challah. Divide and braid. This recipe will make 5 challahs approximately 10-11 inches long.  Alternatively, it will be enough for 15 “balbatische” bilkelach.  Make the challahs smaller than the pans as this recipe will rise well. 
Let them rise 30-40 minutes in a warm area.
Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings. I usually use both poppy and sesame seeds.
Put into a cold oven set to 350. Bake 40 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the challahs or until lightly browned. Challah with no sugar will never get very dark.
Remove and cool.

If you would like to make one large key-shaped challah, use a disposable tube pan with the hole in the center. Make 2 cuts on one side of the pan about 2” apart. Cut from the top edge down to the bottom of the pan and flatten the cut strip of foil outward.  Make the same type of cuts at one short end of a medium disposable rectangular loaf pan and flatten the cut edge outward as well. Fit the two pans together by tucking each open flap into the other pan. Using about half the recipe above, divide the dough in half, with one half larger than the other; about a 60/40 ratio. Make a simple 3 strand braid from each part. Place the larger braid in the tube pan and the smaller braid in the loaf pan.  Allow the challah to rise until the braids meet. Brush with egg wash and bake as directed above.

Mar 29, 2018

Keep Kool!

Heavy yom tov meals call for light cool desserts. Sorbet is perfect because it uses minimal ingredients and can be made in many flavors. 

Sorbets are a simple combination of fresh fruit or fruit juice with sugar. Approximately two pounds of fruit will make a quart of sorbet. That is about five cups of chopped fruit. A little more or less is fine; this is a basic formula and can be adjusted as needed. Puree this fruit and add a little sugar, and that's your sorbet base.

The easiest way to add sugar is to make simple sugar syrup. Simmer equal parts sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved and let it cool. Some fruits are sweet enough on their own so that they barely need added sugar. But remember freezing dulls sweet flavors, so we want the basic recipe to be a little too sweet before freezing.

8 ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Peel, core and cut pears for the sorbet into chunks.  Place in a medium stockpot and sprinkle with lemon juice.  Add ginger and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add sugar and water and cook until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and let pears cool.  Place only pears in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. Discard liquid.  Transfer to a bowl and freeze 1 hour. 
Remove from freezer and re-blend puree, either in a mixer or food processor.  Freeze until serving. 

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

5 cups seedless watermelon cubes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Lime slices
small watermelon wedges

Combine wine, sugar and lime juice in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer gently 3 minutes. Cool completely. Puree cubed watermelon in processor. Strain puree through sieve set over large bowl, pressing on solids with a spatula. Discard solids in sieve. Stir wine mixture and orange juice concentrate into watermelon puree.

Pour melon mixture into 8 x 8 x 2-inch dish or container.  Freeze until semi-firm, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Cover; freeze until solid, at least 8 hours or overnight. Chill food processor work bowl and metal blade in the freezer for 30 minutes. Transfer melon mixture to processor. Using the pulse button, process until very smooth, occasionally scraping bottom and sides of bowl.

Freeze 6 small bowls 30 minutes. Scoop sorbet into frozen bowls. Garnish with lime slices and watermelon wedges. Serve immediately.

1 cup sugar

2 cups water
1/2 cup cocoa

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add chocolate and cocoa.  Whisk mixture until chocolate has melted and cocoa has completely dissolved. 
Prepare a large pan or bowl filled with ice water (water and ice cubes).  Return saucepan to heat and bring to a boil again.  As bubbles break across the surface, remove from heat.  Place pan in ice water bath to cool for 10 minutes.  Pour sorbet into a shallow  airtight container and freeze for 3 hours.
Remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature until you can transfer to your mixer or food processor bowl.  Beat for 1-2 minutes, breaking up any ice crystals.  Return to freezer for 3 hours.  Repeat beating and freezing twice more until sorbet is smooth and light. 

1 cup water

2 cups sugar

4 ripe mangoes (about 3 1/2 pounds total)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Bring water and sugar to a boil and continue boiling until all the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside to cool.  This is known as simple syrup and can be used to make sorbet from any fruit or as a base for lemonade. 

Using a serrated peeler, remove as much skin as possible from each mango. With a knife cut remove flesh from pit and place in a food processor. Add simple syrup and lemon juice to processor and purée until smooth.

Freeze mango purée in an ice-cream maker or any shallow container. If you are not using an ice cream maker, follow steps above in the recipe for chocolate sorbet regarding freezing and blending to create a light texture.