Sweet kaak is nothing like regular kaak, except that it’s also kinda like a bread stick. Actually, it’s really more like a cookie made with orange zest. I usually don’t love orange zest, but for some reason I absolutely love sweet kaak. It’s a traditional Syrian treat, one that if I have in my cookie jar (okay, fine, I don’t have a cookie jar, but I do have airtight containers that I can leave on the counter and store cookies in) I will finish in about a day. Basically, they are sugar cookies that are twisted. Yum! Continue reading
I love biscotti! They are the perfect after dinner treat, and are a great treat in the morning to dip in coffee. These cookies are filled with dried fruits and nuts, which makes me think they’re healthy, too! I usually take my time and make teeny skinny biscotti, but these are great cut a bit thicker, since you get a mouthful of the dried fruit. Plus, it makes making the biscotti that much easier. Continue reading
The problem with making desserts for Shabbat is that we can’t take pictures of the final project…I mean, you can see the cake and how it looked right out of the oven, but you can’t see it sliced and on a plate, which is too bad because this cake was pretty. Okay, the pan is a little bit messy, but at least my counter is clean! Oh, and the other problem is that you have to make the desserts pareve. Which means no cream cheese frosting! Those who dare to eat pareve whipped topping dolloped some on top of their cake. I ate it plain and it was amazing just the way it was. Continue reading
It finally feels like spring and artichokes are here! I admit, artichokes used to scare me. Until a couple of years ago I’d had the frozen kind and the kind that came in a jar, but never the real thing. Then one day Jessica and I decided to buy some and learned how to boil them online. We were instantly converted to fresh artichoke people (while wondering who first figured out that there was a delicious heart hiding among the spiky leaves?!), but I’ve moved on to baking and roasting rather than steaming them these days.
This has to be one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made. And with the reaction it got from my seder crowd, I think I’ll have to make it for every holiday meal. Not only are they simple to make, especially if you have the ingredients on hand, they also don’t involve an oven, so you can make them on the actual holiday if you forgot to prepare something in advance. Continue reading
When my cousin invited me and 80 other people over for Shabbat lunch, I knew I had to chip in. I would make gluten-free cookies! Because what would be the point of bringing something if he couldn’t eat it? You see, my cousin has celiac disease; his body can’t digest gluten. Continue reading
So you know when you walk by those Nuts 4 Nuts carts in Manhattan and they smell so amazingly good that you finally cave in and buy them, only to realized that you wasted two dollars on something that smells 1000 times better than it tastes? Why do they not taste like they smell? I decided to take matters into my own hands. These subtly spiced candied cashews made my apartment smell amazing and they made my taste buds happy. Take that, nuts that you buy from a cart on the street (when you put it that way, I’m not so surprised…)!
I had all of these leftover cashews from when I made cashew chicken. I also wanted something to munch on. These candied cashews come together so quickly and easily (maybe 15 minutes), as long as you have cashews around, you’re good to go. Or else try them with other nuts. They’re very similar to the peanuts that Jessica made, but I played around with the spices and the sugars.
- 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the spices together.
- In a large skillet over high heat, mix the nuts, sugar and water. Stir frequently and bring to a boil. Continue stirring; the liquid should evaporate and turn into a syrupy consistency. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle the spices over the nuts and stir vigorously, letting the water completely evaporate, for about 4 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and continue stirring until the nuts are coated in the crystallized sugar.
- Carefully pour the nuts out onto the baking sheet to let cool.
It’s kind of like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread. And with a lot more peanut butter. And a little more amazing. Use your favorite jam (oh, use some of the homemade stuff if you want this to be even more decadent!)
I made these pareve, and used earth balance shortening and natural peanut butter. I actually use Skippy brand because 1. it was on sale, and 2. it is much creamier than most natural peanut butters. And though that’s not what I always prefer in pb&j sandwiches, it’s definitely better for the texture of the cookie. No trans-fats in this recipe! Use butter if you want it to be even more amazing, but then you can’t serve it to your family after Friday night dinner.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, adapted from Ina Garten:
- 1/2 pound earth balance, or your favorite natural margarine or shortening (or butter, of course!)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (18 ounces) peanut butter
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (unless you have really salty peanut butter. then just leave it out)
- 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) jam. I used raspberry, but use your favorite flavor)
- 2/3 cups roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan (I used a pyrex)
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium until they turn light yellow, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix until just combined.
5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
6. Add the flour mixture to the wet with the mixer on low. Mix only until just combined.
7. Spread about 2/3 (just eyeball it) of the batter to the bottom of your baking pan. Smooth it out and make sure it’s even using a knife or spatula.
8. Spread the jam on top, evenly.
9. Take spoonfuls of the batter and drop the rest on top of the jam. Don’t worry if the jam layer is not completely covered, the dough will spread during baking.
10. Sprinkle with the peanuts.
11. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.
12. Let cool before cutting into bars (or else they’ll fall apart and crumble – they’ll still taste good, though!). I cut them into 24 bars. They’re really decadent, so they don’t have to be big to be enjoyed!
I remember watching Jamie Oliver on the Food Network, back when he was the Naked Chef. Well, he wasn’t actually naked, which is why I wasn’t surprised when they changed the name of his show (or did they just start a new one) called Oliver’s Twist. Anyway, he would “strip down” recipes so that they were really just the essentials of cooking. No fancy gadgets or ingredients, just great homemade food. Now he’s never on the Food Network anymore, and I don’t get the Cooking Channel, so I never see him on TV. I can’t even watch the reruns of his show Jamie at Home. But I can still get most of the recipes on the Food Network website, which makes me happy. His recipes are simple and tasty, and he doesn’t use any gross ingredients; it’s mostly natural, earthy food. His recipes really bring out the essential flavors of the main ingredients.
And this is why I was so excited to make this soup recipe. I love Jamie Oliver and I love butternut squash! It’s definitely my favorite winter squash, even though it’s a pain to peel and chop. Everything else about it is just perfect, an my favorite way to eat it is in soup form. Something about butternut squash soup just makes me smile.
Sage is a classic combination with butternut squash, and infusing the oil with that flavor imparts a wonderful undertone to the soup. The sage on top adds a great crispiness. I ate a lot of those sage chips before serving the soup. Oops. Hence the lack of crispy sage on top of the soup in the picture. It’s delicious with a teaspoon of sour cream mixed in, too. Just so you know.
Superb squash soup, adapted from Jamie Oliver (serves 8):
- 16 fresh sage leaves
- 2 red onions, peeled and chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds taken out and chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 quarts vegetable stock
- Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Heat large saucepan over medium heat and pour in some olive oil, enough to cover the bottom.
2. When it’s hot, throw in the sage leaves and fry for about 30 seconds, until crispy. Remove with a slitted spoon and drain on paper-towel lined plate.
3. Add your celery, onion, and carrot, garlic, and jalapeno to the pot. Add salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
4. Add the squash and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. When the squash is soft, blend the soup using an immersion blender until you have a smooth puree (or as chunky as you like it).
6. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle the sage leaves on top.
7. Serve with croutons if you want (that’s how Jamie Oliver did it).