Category Archives: Dessert

Bubbe Julie’s Pesadik Kamish

My Bubbe (Yiddish word for grandmother) Julie is unstoppable. At 90 years old, she is still maintaining a three-story house, driving her car around Vancouver, and cooking up a storm. When my family and I are in town, we eat everything Bubbe makes for us–even if we are not hungry. I can still distinctly remember about 10 years ago when my father was interrogated by a US customs officer for carrying a poppyseed cake in a brown unmarked box, fresh from the oven. “What is in the box?” they asked. “It’s a poppyseed cake baked by my mother-in-law, I promise.” One of my favorites in her baking repertoire is kosher for Passover kamish. It almost doesn’t take like Passover. You may have heard kamish referred to as “Mandelbrot” or “Jewish biscotti”. It’s all the same: sweet, crunchy and delicious.

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Filed under Dessert, Jewish, Mishpokhe, Parve, Passover

Passover Pomelo Bars

Think lemon bar, but not. What’s a pomelo? Wikipedia holds lots of fun facts about this Southeast Asian native fruit, but for the sake of simplicity: biggest citrus, grapefuit-esque but sweeter, DELICIOUS. I was inspired to create a Passover recipe using this pith-ful fruit because I think more people should know about the pomelo and it offers an opportunity to share a Passover tradition I implemented last year (included below). That said, this is a recipe developed by an amateur baker, so please feel free to tweak it as you see fit.

I also invite you to include the pomelo on your Passover table this year, accompanied by the following reading (that I adapted for my seder last year): Continue reading

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Filed under Dessert, Holidays, Jewish, Passover

Matzah Candy

Matzah Candy

So I actually made a batch of this over a month ago for a friend and almost forgot that I had promised to post the recipe in time for Passover.  I make this delightfully simple matzah based candy every year, and it never fails to impress, but it is far from original so I’ll keep this post brief.  I originally tasted it made with saltine crackers as a kid and I, like many many other Jews, adapted the recipe using matzah. Variations on this  treat abound so get creative. I recently came across one that puts a layer of coconut in between the toffee and the cocolate, which I may try if I have some coconut left over from my soon to be made macaroons. If you want to be truly from scratch about this, you can use Gordon’s guide to making your own matzah, or you can skip that part and just buy a box.

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Filed under Dessert, Holidays, Passover

Kumquat Walnut Challah

Let’s get some chametz in before pesach!

Turns out, the kumquat is in season so I thought it would be fun to mix it into Amiee’s challah dough recipe. Why did I choose a seasonal fruit? Eating seasonally is something I’ve been trying to do a bit more of lately. Although our supermarkets allow us to buy foods grown virtually anywhere in the world all year round, these options are not the most sustainable. By purchasing local foods in-season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles. Buying seasonal produce also provides an exciting opportunity to try new foods and to experiment with seasonal recipes.

The most common variety of kumquat is the Nagami, or oval kumquat, which grows to be about two inches long and an inch in diameter–so cute a tiny! Kumquats have a pale orange rind that’s edible; unlike other citrus, the rind is actually the sweetest part of the fruit! The inner flesh and juice are sour and contain seeds, which you shouldn’t eat, so when you make the puree make sure to take them out!

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Dessert, Fruit and Vegtables

Chocolate Orange Truffles for Passover

Chocolate Orange Truffles

This weekend I was headed to a potluck  Oscar party at my friends Penny and Bill’s house.  Penny is a wonderful cook and Bill might be even more obsessed with Cooks Illustrated than I am. Penny asked me to bring bread but I also wanted to try making something new since I would have a crowd ready to eat it. I was pursuing Chow.com’s Oscar party guide and came across their recipe for Orange Marmalade Truffles and decided to give them a try.

I have also been contemplating Passover foods since my local grocery store has started stocking the wide array of Manischewitz and Kedem kosher for Passover prepared foods.  If you thought my views on the kosher food business couldn’t get more vitriolic, you have never talked to me (or Dafna, for that matter) about kosher for Passover food. Gordon probably still has PTSD from the year Dafna and I threw temper tantrums outside his office yelling “we hate Passover” as he calmly tried to review the intricacies of the eating rules and we became more and more grossed out at the foods available. The scariest options tend to be the desserts and sweets with an odd array of candies and baked goods you would never consider edible any other time of year. In reality, I love Passover. Much like my fondness for Thanksgiving, I find holidays that revolve around meals and some table-side ritual, with little other requirements, to be the most fun.  And much like the rest of kosher food, kosher for Passover food can still be very tasty if you start with fresh ingredients and make it yourself. As I read the recipe for the truffles I realized with minor adjustments you could make these for Passover as an alternative to the  horrifying cakes and cookies made from matzo meal. I, on the other hand, enjoyed them with a little side of George Clooney in a tux.

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Filed under Dessert, Holidays, Passover

Honey Wheat Hamantaschen

It’s okay, go ahead and get excited for this Trader Joe’s Honey Wheat Pretzel inspired Purim treat.

The strongest memory I have of Purim from my childhood included mass-produced, store-bought Hamantaschen served to my Temple community during the Purim Carnival. Chalky, bland, high-fructose-corn-syrup-y and double the price in tickets of all the good carnival games, I was a little less than interested. That’s why I was so excited when my friend and expert baker, Dara, shared her dough recipe with me.

Filling for Hamantaschen is where the FUN comes in. Be creative. Go wild. This year, I am using organic apricot preserves, dark chocolate and slivered almonds.

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Filed under Dessert, Purim

Poppy Seed Hamantaschen

Poppy Seed Hamantschen

While Gordon made Haman’s Ears for Purim, I decided to go for something a little less cannibalistic and make the traditional hamantaschen. Many a young Jewish-American child will learn this week in Hebrew school that the triangle shape of the hamantaschen represents the three corners of Haman’s hat, but in Israel they are still referred to as Haman’s Ears. Back in my younger days I used to make these every year around Purim, but haven’t made them in many years. I used to take a short cut and fill them with fruit preserves, which still produces a delicious treat, but I decided to change it up a bit and go for the more traditional poppy seed variety. I also noticed as I was pursuing recipes that the doughs were all variations on rolled butter cookies, so rather than futz around with them I decided to use my favorite from Cooks Illustrated. You will need about a cup of poppy seeds for the filling so I suggest you find a place to buy them in bulk, as they will be significantly cheaper that way. A couple of warnings about the poppy seeds: One, stock up on dental floss and make sure you check your teeth after consuming one of these, as they will most likely be riddled with seeds.  Two, don’t eat these if you have a drug screen coming up. You will consume way more poppy seeds in one of these cookies compared to the average muffin or bagel (and I dare you to eat just one) and you may very well test positive for opiates for up to 48 hours. So either way, these are not good pre-interview snacks, but post-some-Purim-worthy-inebriation they are delightful.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Dessert, Holidays, Purim

Haman’s Ears – Oznai Haman

Sweet Haman's Ears

There is only one mandatory action on Purim, that is to hear the story of the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of their enemy, Haman. One might debate whether this was due to Esther’s sexual manipulation of the king at her uncle Mordecai’s urging or it was in fact due to divine intervention.

What is not in debate however is the ferocity of the Jewish observance of the event. Jewish custom is to get stinking drunk and yell, scream and stomp every time Haman’s name is read aloud and generally remind everyone that we hold grudges for a very long time.[Don’t believe me, the Jews are the only people to remember the tribe of Amelek- just so we can observe the commandment to blot out their memory. That’s more than 2000 years of holding a grudge because they tried to jump us in the desert.]

This extends into the foods consumed on Purim. Oznai Haman (Haman’s Ears) come in several forms, ranging from stuffed cookies to this interesting fried pasta recipe I found. Of all of the Purim foods I have seen these turned out to be the most life-like and perhaps raising the greatest number of questions for a liberal western Jew to answer as he presents a plate of these fried ears to his kids.

I invite you to offer your own thoughts on consuming something that looks so much like a body part, and remind you that between Haman and his 10 sons (who were all impaled on wood spikes) there would have been 22 ears, snacks for everyone.

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Filed under Dessert, Gadgets and Gear, Jewish, Pasta and Grains, Purim

Ma’amoul – Menena (Walnut & Date Tartlets)

Hot and Tasty Ma'amoul Cookies

The next major holiday on the Jewish calendar is Purim. While we will crank out several variants of the traditional hamantachen (I know Amiee is working on her poppy seed filling) I wanted to try something new. In asking around I was told by my spouse that her co-worker who is Israeli of Egyptian descent makes Ma’amoul for Purim. Intrigued since I had never even heard of them I quickly consulted Claudia Roden who supplied a recipe that I then modified. Roden does not mention a holiday connection, but says her mother kept a box of these around all the time. But, since every good tradition has to start somewhere- I am going say this is indeed a Purim treat, sweet like the deliverance of the Jews from Haman.

Some notes on production. The dough will look loose and crumbly at first, let it rest to firm up. This is traditionally made with rose-water, which I do not keep on hand but feel free to swap out some of the milk for an equal amount of rose-water. Third, you can make any filling you want, Roden says that pistachios were the most prestigious given their price. Last, Roden says her mother made a design on the top with “dented pincers”. Having no idea what that might look like I did a Google image search and found that many people use a mold to create intricate designs that would make any Christmas cookie baker proud. I decided that I would keep it simple, scoring the tops with a fork in the manner of my own grandmother’s sugar cookies.

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Filed under Dessert, Israeli, Purim, Sephardic

Challah Bread Pudding

bread pudding

I know I have mentioned this on an individual basis, but about two years ago all five of us heathens took a week long trip to New Orleans together (along with about 30 others). We spent five days  gutting the homes of  some amazing families, who had endured unbelievable turmoil in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, so they could begin rebuilding and getting their lives back together. After the work we headed for a much needed weekend with real beds, showers and some seriously good times in the French Quarter. I believe all of us went on at least one other service trip to NOLA, but that one where we were all there together stands out in my memory as the one where we did the most meaningful work and where we also had the most fun. I recall beginning our Friday night with the five of us chillin’ in a delightful window booth in the amazing club, d.b.a on Frenchman St. They have probably the greatest  selection of whiskeys (along with an array of draft beers) I’ve encountered, with the addition of mellow live music to boot. We had some phenomenal food that weekend too, but nothing topped the homemade red beans and rice, jambalaya and barbecued chicken the homeowners made us during the week. With Mardi Gras approaching on Tuesday I wanted to give a little nod to the Crescent City and tried to think of a way to add a Jewish flair to a French Quarter classic. Given the propensity of deliciously trafyey pork and shellfish in NOLA cuisine this was proving to be a bit of a stretch, but once again my inspiration came from Cooks Illustrated magazine. They had an article recently which had determined that Challah makes the best bread pudding.  I had found my Jewish angle and I also love bread pudding. I suspect the gene for loving bread pudding is located closely to the one that had me develop a taste for scotch and bourbon, and I can thank my dad for both. I also got to combine those two joys by adding some bourbon to the bread pudding. I’ll warn you, this recipe is not for the literal faint of heart, and Lipitor may be an advisable accompaniment with dessert, but as they say in the Big Easy … “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!”

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Filed under Bread, Dessert, Other Stuff