Jewish Cooking

collecting dots vs. connecting dots {honey spice cake}

The day is beginning to wake. The sky a chameleon, slowly morphing from deep navy to soft blue. I love watching this transformation. Years ago, I used to go out running at this early hour. The world went from still and quiet, to the squeaking wheels of trucks making their deliveries for the day. Commuters shuffling about, still wiping the sleep from their eyes, some clutching a canister of coffee for a life raft.

That old life feels so far from reality as I sit on my sofa in Maryland right now. We’ve been in the thick of adjusting to new schools, again. Virginia attends a tiny Montessori school, and hit the ground running. She’s always been my shadow, and while she’d much rather stay home with mama all day, she seems very content in her school environment. Continue reading »

spinach & pecorino latkes

Once September hits, the rest of the year seems to fall into fast forward mode. It also feels like a quick succession of emotional hurdles, leaving me caught in a constant game of catch up. That means I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen than usual. I know, that seems hard to imagine, but it is true. The kitchen is where I retreat to when I need to find myself again. People often ask how I manage to stay in shape, and the answer is usually that I have incredible will power. That is until I started making these spinach & pecorino latkes. For those of you who haven’t tasted latkes, I must warn you they’re highly addictive crispy, potato pancakes. Continue reading »

vegetarian matzoh ball soup

I know, my Jewish friends out there will think this picture is torture. Hours away from the start of Passover, and I’m posting a photo of matzoh ball soup with pasta in it. The picture is from last year. The soup was made for the last Passover we celebrated with Mikey. I didn’t use the pasta in my shiksa seder the night his parents came over, but I did add it to the leftovers. A no-no still for observant Jews, but being a recovering Catholic, I was able to play by my own food rules.

A few days ago I had coffee with a new friend, and her words have been echoing in my mind ever since. Then I came across this quote in the December issue of Whole Living magazine—I’m quite behind in my periodicals as you can tell.

“Avoid getting trapped in someone else’s story. Be the author of your own life.”

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vegetarian matzah ball soup

One would think focusing wouldn't be an issue with all the deadlines looming this week. It's a sunny day though, and the rays streaming through the window are teasing me, coaxing my inner procrastinator.

I stopped for what I thought would be a quick lunch break, figuring if I gave into my grumbling tummy, perhaps the words would come easier. I thrived yesterday in the kitchen, testing two new recipes. That is where I'm at my most comfortable these days. I understand my ingredients, and we have an unspoken trust that I will never do wrong by them.

As I sat at my desk slurping some leftover matzoh ball soup from Monday night's Passover dinner, I decided to take do a Facebook check in. There on my screen, my eyes caught sight of a photo. I recognized the guy in it. I clicked the image for a larger peek, and realized it was my dad.

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festival of frying {latke recipe}

I know, how much more can a Catholic Italian girl have to say about Hanukkah? Well, in the last two days I've fried close to eight dozen latkes, so I thought it would be unfair to not share some of them with you.

Please hold off on sending me your address. They are so easy to make, you can give them a go in your own kitchen. Until last year, I'd never met a latke that made the frying worth the calories. This seems a virtually impossible feat, living in NYC and all, but remember pasta and meatballs were our staples growing up.

Olga hooked me up with a genius idea from good ol' Martha last year, so it's time to pay it forward and keep spreading the gospel of crispy latkes. The secret here is reserving the potato's natural starch to add back into them. While Martha still includes some flour in her recipe, I've left it out all together, so my adaptation gets bonus points for being naturally gluten-free too. Olga and I both omitted the beer. I'd much rather have a cold pint with my latkes, not in them.

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sufganiyot {jelly doughnuts}

My hands are shaky as I type. Is it possible grating five pounds of potatoes has caused tennis elbow or a torn rotater cuff?

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Tonight we usher in the first night of Hanukkah, and we're going to a friend's house tomorrow for a party too, so I donned my Jewish grandma apron and settled in for a latke making session today.

I'm about as Jewish as I am a super model, but the Mr.'s mother is Jewish. Technically my girls are not because their mama is a shiksa, but always one to buck authority, I say they have as much right to their Jewish heritage as they do to my Italian one.

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zucchini apple whoopie pies

I can't take full credit for this recipe.

I mean I did create the cake-like cookies.

I'm even responsible for the crazy gaul to add ricotta to buttercream frosting.

The idea to layer them into a whoopie pie, though, was all Gail's. It's just one of the many reasons I love her and cherish our friendship. Only two sugar-obsessed minds could come together to create a zucchini apple whoopie pie.

My original intent was to a make a chewy zucchini apple cookie. After the first tray baked, I decided they were too chewy, and the batter needed tweaking. Simply adding a few more minutes to the baking time wouldn't do the trick.

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gnocchi: a love story

I’ve been promising this recipe for some time, and you’ve all been so patient. It just wasn’t 100% until today.

Just about an hour ago, in fact.

I finally got these exactly how I wanted them. The taste had always been there, but getting those darn grooves had proved challenging. Since I don’t like one-trick pony kitchen gadgets, buying a wooden
gnocchi board
wasn’t on my list of things to do.

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sweet potato, ricotta & leek soufflé

I’ve been really inspired by leftovers lately. That whole idea of waste not, want not, makes a big difference on the weekly grocery bill too. This past Rosh Hashanah, I was “winging” it for the side dish. I knew it would be something with sweet potatoes, since I’d picked them up at the farmer’s market, but I didn’t really have a plan. That is until I saw the leeks at the market too. I started thinking about mashed sweet potatoes paired with some sautéed leeks. Then that morphed into a soufflé. When I got home and started unloading ingredients, and spied some leftover homemade ricotta I’d made earlier in the week, my side dish was finally complete—a sweet potato, leek and ricotta soufflé would share the table with apple-onion braised brisket. It’ll also make a nice addition to my Thanksgiving table this year too.

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Apple Pie Pumpkin Cake + a serving of controversy

Can you believe this little ‘ol cake caused a bit of controversy this week? Rather than rehash it, you can go here to read the thread. Well, I get by with a little help from my friends, and their words of encouragement were very uplifting. Perhaps it was tough to swallow because it’s the first negative downright mean and ill-willed comment I’ve gotten. Anyone who’s met me knows I’m as sweet and honest as that darn pie, so why would anyone be so vicious? And so is life in this virtual world. Some people hold their head high, and work hard, creating and sharing from their heart…and others, well, you know the rest.

My first thought was I’d never be able to make this cake again. What was created out of love and joy, was soured by another’s lack of class and decorum, or was it? I’m taking advice from a close twitter friend, and holding my head high. Frankly, I’ve bounced back from much harsher things in this lifetime. So, Claire, this cake’s for you and no one is going to take that away from us. It connects me to you, your past and the future I share with your son and granddaughters. I’m casting away the bitterness of this experience and holding hope for all the sweetness this New Year will bring. La’chaim!

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