Category Archives: Jewish

Apple and Chocolate Heaven cake with honey and cinnamon syrup

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Apple cake for Rosh Hashana – been there, done that. Here’s a new combo that includes the seasonal and traditionally significant tastiness of the ever-so-overdone Rosh dessert. Thank you smitten kitchenal di la restaurant, and my CIA spy (aka my brother) for your inspirations…

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Filed under Dessert, Jewish, Parve, Rosh Hashana

Sweet and Spicy New Year Carrot Salad

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If grad school has taught me anything, it’s that the less ingredients and the simpler the recipe, the better: for the sake of time efficiency and really tasting those yummy fresh veggies! Since Rosh Hashana is on a Monday this year, try out this carrot salad recipe this year to save some time and enjoy some seasonal produce. You can make it an hour before you serve it or a couple days in advance! The longer the carrots marinate in the dressing, the better.

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Holidays, Jewish, Rosh Hashana

Hamantaschen with an Argentine Twist

Hola from Argentina! Despite the large Jewish population here, I’m a bit isolated in the north on a rural farm, without the pleasures of Jewish bakeries so the following recipe was inspired by the ingredients I could get my hands on. As a substitute for the traditional honey, I used dulce de leche, an Argentine sweet gooey delight. Try using it as well as a filling for the cookie!

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Filed under Dairy, Dessert, Jewish, Purim

Tehina Tehina Everywhere

Tehina//Tehini//Tahini//Tahina

The amount of ways to spell this wonder speaks to how versatile this can be in the kitchen. One of the things that I missed most about Israel when I was in Brazil was tehina. Now, getting ready to leave here again, I’ve already started to miss it.  Not that you can’t get tehina elsewhere. I’ve even found it in most supermarkets in Brazil, at a less than fair price. But truth be told, I was never a tehina believer until I moved to Tel Aviv,  and sadly the tehina I’ve tasted everywhere else just doesn’t compare to what I’ve grown to love so much.

You always hear in Israel, “I make the best tehina” or “No, seriously you haven’t tried tehina until you’ve tried (insert brand name here)”. For some reason all the most reputable brand names are called by various animals that appear on the label- Eagle, Giraffe, Pigeon. Why these animals are associated with sesame paste I don’t know but who really cares when what they contain is so sublimey delicious. While living in Tel Aviv I made it a point to test all the most popular brands and do a comparison to figure out which is really “the best tehina ever”. The clear winner: Tehina Yona (Pigeon.). Tehina comes in variety of colors based on the original color of seeds, golden or white, and the treatment they receive while being processed, toasted or untoasted. The yona is 100% ground white sesames and is pure deliciousness.

When I realized that there was no post on tehina sauce I figured it was necessary as it is a staple for every Israeli household, and is becoming widely popular in the states because of it’s nutritional value and versatility. It is fairly straight forward and completely depends on your personal tastes, do you like it creamy or more liquidy, pure and simple or amped up with various add-ins — garlic, parsley, olive oil, paprika….. tehina is one of those base sauces that can stand up to almost any other flavor and still be delicious (in fact, on a recent edition of Israeli version of Masterchef someone made a savory tehina sauce with vanilla- the judges seemed to like it… and that’s right I somehow still got caught into the trap of Masterchef all the way in Brazil). My personal favorite is to have it with a roasted eggplant and salad.

Anyways enough of my shenanigans- here’s to the good stuff. Two versions: One classy and one dressed up in flavors you wouldn’t expect, but oh so delicious. So this is my tribute to you my creamy white gem of an accompaniment.

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish

Deep Fried Turkey for Hanukkah

Fried Turkey

I know I am a bit late with this, and Hanukkah is half over, but I got sidelined with a killer cold for the past week. I was back on my feet just in time for Latke Ball on Thursday and Chinese food with friends tonight. A couple of week ago, some friends and I decided to kick off Hanukkah early and deep fried a turkey. Combined with niner’s football, latkes and beer, it made for a pretty awesome Sunday. While the tradition of deep frying turkey got started in the American South, and most people associate it with Thanksgiving, this culinary trend was ripe for a Hebraic takeover. Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish holiday but there are three universal practices associated with it: Lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating fried foods. Why settle for simple potatoes when you can fry an entire bird? Now when this idea was first proposed there was a lot of concern that this was a spectacularly dangerous thing to be doing on a small San Francisco balcony. There are a lot of  people who have done incredibly stupid things combining a turkey and a deep-fryer and have started some crazy fires. You can even entertain yourself for hours on YouTube watching people do this very thing. I have been lucky enough to have watched the process a few time at my family’s Thanksgiving and got some great pointers from Derek B.  Plus a few simple rules can greatly reduce the risk.

  1. This is not a one person job. You need at least two people or a mechanical pulley system (thanks Alton) to do this safely. Luckily, men really enjoy doing this and I had Ben, Shaun and Sivan on hand to assemble the fryer and do the heavy lifting.
  2. Have a fire extinguisher handy. (and as Ben helpful pointed out, have it accessible in a place that would not require you to go through any potential fires to retrieve it)
  3. Totally defrost your turkey. A still frozen turkey = massively splattering oil.
  4. Don’t over flow the oil. Most of the fires start when the oil overflows the pot and catches the flame which subsequently ignites the rest of the pot of oil. You can do a displacement test with water and your turkey before you unwrap it to determine the amount of oil you need. When you lower the turkey in after you have heated the oil – turn off the flame.
  5. Last but not least – Get drunk AFTER the turkey comes out.

With the appropriate safety precautions, you will have a fantastic bird and may never roast a turkey again. My crowd of about 15 people cleaned an 18lb turkey down to the bone. The only drawback to this is a lack of leftovers.

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Filed under Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Meat

Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Pomegranate for Sukkot

Lenils with Walnuts and Pomegranate

I know Sukkot ends on Wednesday so I am sort sneaking this one in under the wire, but as typically happens I start to get a little Jew’ed out by the time Simcha Torah rolls around. I already managed to get in some delicious trayfe-on-trayfe antidote in the form of mussels with pork belly at the latest hot SF pop-up, Mission Chinese yesterday. It was delicious and was accompanied by some blogger dick-wagging with my friend Eric, over who has more hits from the more obscure reference. His is the Stout Scarab, which is the essentially the original mini-van and what he claims is a highly efficient use of vehicular space. I have my doubts.  Mine are pashtida and schug (thanks Daf) . I am only mentioning this because it allows me to link to his high traffic post multiple times in an attempt to claim to be a source of his traffic and ultimately get the last word. (Insert evil laugh here)

Sukkot is one of those odd Jewish holidays that I still manage to learn something new about every year. This year I learned while meals should be eaten in the Sukkah, there are actually only six things that may not be eaten outside of the Sukkah. Weirdly, they are the five grains that constitute chametz (or the forbidden grains) for Passover, wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats, along with grape products. This is further solidifying my believe that while Sukkot celebrates the harvest, Passover only exist because we ran out of the harvest from the fall.

At any rate I was looking for something with grains or legume and pomegranate for Sukkot. I had a bag of dry lentils left over from side dishes for lamb and luckily Cooks Illustrated provided inspiration yet again.

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Jewish, Pasta and Grains, Sukkot

Roast Chicken with Apples, Honey and Fennel

Chicken with Apples and Fennel

Question: How long does it take five young professionals in San Francisco to come to consensus on high holiday plans via email and text? I’ll never know the answer. My friends and I started discussing it at the end of August and went in circles for weeks. It was like the set-up to a bad joke – liberal Jews, raised reform, reconstuctionist, conservative, one a convert, all of us with a slight twinge of traditionalism mixed with egalitarianism, and none of us are currently members of a particular synagogue.  We even specifically started “shul shopping” by going to some shabbat services looking for a place with the right mix for all of us. The only thing I learned is that the perfect shul does not exist, but in line with the old joke, the one that each person won’t set foot in, does. Luckily, through an impromptu shabbat dinner, we all ended up at the same table and settled on plans within ten minutes. It was a High Holiday miracle!

The dinner came together because I was looking for a Rosh Hashana recipe and serendipitously one appeared in my inbox. I subscribe to a few recipe list and one for salmon with apples and fennel appeared and I knew I was on the right path. Salmon is a pain to make for a crowd because it can easily get dried out, plus it is expensive, not to mention that my good friend, Sarah, now won’t eat fish because she believes it is all unsustainable and toxic. Chicken is almost always the answer for a meal for a crowd of Jews and what I turned to. Since I was sort inventing this recipe I decided a test run was necessary before my larger Rosh Hashana shabbat dinner and invited my friends to serve as guinea pigs.

After working all day and grocery shopping the thought of doing the photography was feeling a bit overwhelming so I called in an old debt and enlisted my good friend Ryan Simon to serve as the official photographer. He has been nagging me to upgrade to an SLR, so this seemed like a good opportunity to let him show me the goods and if it might be worth the investment. All the photos on this post are his, and I threw in a couple of extra because they were particularly good, so I urge you to click and enlarge them.

I also suggest you to look back at some past Rosh hashana recipes as we have a really nice collection going. I personally will be reviewing the how to braid a spiral challah post so I can impress my guest next week. L’Shana Tova!

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Holidays, Jewish, Meat, Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Yom Kippur

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes

Israeli Couscous

I realize I have been MIA since Purim, but the last month was a long series of crappy happenstance that ate up most of my free time.  Oddly, one of the last of the series, the evening before Pesach began, was my inspiration for today’s post.  I was driving in the Mission, headed over for a Troika dinner meeting when, in my haste to find a parking space, I crashed my car into an Indian food delivery truck.  Anyone who knows me, knows how deeply attached to my car I am, so after assurances that no one was hurt, the sadness of my broken car set in. Despite this, following the insurance fun and the bungee cording of my car’s bumper into a drivable arrangement, we managed to resume the evening plans.  My fellow Troika members, Sarah and Megan, consoled my wounded ego with assurances that I was a decent driver and fed me chametz in the form of Israeli couscous. It was amazingly delicious, both warm the night before and again cold for lunch the next day.

With Passover behind us and with Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, coming up next Tues, a little Israeli chametz, seemed like a good way to come back.  Israeli couscous, or ptitim, was invented by the Osem food company to serve as a substitute for rice during the years following the founding of Israel, when rice was in short supply. It is wheat based and has grown significantly in popularity in the US in recent years, and can now be found in most US grocery stores.

Its amazing adaptability, also gave me the opportunity to play Ready Steady Cook. I had some bell peppers that needed to be used, as well as some cherry tomatoes that I bought believing they were an orange breed, but it turns out they were just really under-ripe and flavorless. The best way to rescue bad tomatoes is to roast them with a little olive oil and salt, so into the oven they went. I figured as long as I was turning on the oven I may as well roast the bell peppers too. Digging through my kitchen I discovered a small bag of pine nuts left from pesto making in September, a shallot in its last moments,  and way in the back of my fridge, my long-neglected jar of preserved meyer lemons, that I put up last year. I threw these things together with a block of feta and I had dinner.

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from Pesach past

mmm... matzo ball soup

Passover is rapidly approaching and I have been laid up after knee surgery for the past week. I had grand plans for Passover related posts this year but my recovery has kept me off me feet longer than I anticipated.  In my delusion of being much younger than I actually am I thought I would be cooking away this weekend, but am still propped up with an ice pack.  Luckily, I am bucking tradition and not hosting a Seder until the 4th night, since it also happens to be my birthday, so I have a couple of weeks to go. Unluckily, this means no birthday cake, but I prefer ice cream anyway. So, as I slowly get back into the kitchen, here are some of our recipes from last year to help with your Seder menu planning:

Matzah Ball Soup

Make Your Own Matzah

Matzah Crack .. I mean Candy

Charoset

Matzah Brie (Fried matzah)

Pomelo Passover Bars

Chocolate Orange Truffles

Passover Kamish (mandelbrot)

and last but not least Hillel’s kosher for Passover BLT sandwich with homemade lamb bacon

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Filed under Holidays, Jewish, Passover

Polish Egg Bread (for Purim and Shabbat)


“What foods other than hamantaschen are traditional for purim?!”

This is the question I asked myself (and google) this week. According to Wilshire Blvd. Temple in Los Angeles, there are quite a few of other more savory options. Among them are kreplach, filled with minced meat or vegetables to evoke the response of stopping and general noise making upon hearing ‘haman’. Some communities will also eat nuts and beans because *legend has it* Esther ate mostly these foods in the court of King Ahashuerus (he didn’t keep kosher).

So what about this year’s fun shabbat/purim combination?! Polish Egg Bread. Also known as “koyletsh” (or sometimes spelled: keylitsh, keylitch, koilitch, koylatsh) this is an extra rich challah type bread prepared for special occasions and Purim. Why Purim? Apparently the long strands for braiding are supposed to remind us of the ropes used to hang Haman. So morbid.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Bread, Jewish, Purim, Shabbat