Monday, May 19, 2014

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup-Shavuot Linkup

Shavuot is one of the lesser Jewish known holidays in the diaspora. Falling on the 6th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan (in diaspora also on the 7th), it is the anniversary of when G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. Shavuot literally means weeks and commemorates the seven weeks that we count from Passover (Pesach) to Shavuot. The holiday is also known as Chag HaKatzir or the Festival of Reaping as this is the time of the wheat harvest in Israel. The holiday is also know as Yom Habikurim or the Holiday of the First Fruits.

On Shavuot there is a custom to eat dairy foods. So basically it is a  24 hour (48 hour in the Diaspora)cheesecake, pizza, lasagna, quiche, etc. party. There are various reasons for this custom with a prominent one being that as the Jews had just received the Torah they were still unfamiliar with the Jewish dietary laws (Kashrut) and ritual slaughter. They had to stick to dairy and remain temporary vegetarians until they were well versed in keeping Kosher.

I was in a dilemma before writing this blog. Most dairy dishes are high in cholesterol and not on the top of the healthy list. I thought of blogging about vegan options on Shavuot. I then uttered my mantra to myself:: "Life is about balance" and on Shavuot I will be balancing a lot of cheesy and creamy dishes on my plates! But seriously, I do serve cheese and cheesecake and dishes with cheese but I also serve lots of salads made from veggies and whole grains, etc. Also, we are allowed to enjoy life, especially on special occasions. If you basically lead a healthy lifestyle, some gazillion % cheese won't kill you on Shavuot.

So I decided to try something that I had never made. I have made my share of cheesecakes, quiches, lasagnas, etc. but I had never made broccoli soup with cheese and I must admit, that it is as decadently delicious as it sounds.

The Recipe


1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
5 cups milk (I used 1 %)
1 cup 10 % fat cream (half and half to Americans)
3 heads fresh brocolli (around 2 3/4 pounds)
1 pinch nutmeg
2-3 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Melt butter in a pot over medium heat and saute the onions for around 5 minutes until golden
Sprinkle flour on top and stir in, cooking for around 1 minute
Add rest of ingredients and bring to a boil.
Cook for 20-30 minutes until broccoli is tender
Add cheddar cheese to boiling soup and stir in until melted.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
Serve in regular bowls or bread bowls (if you want)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Whole Wheat Beer Bread: Chametzfest Link Up

I don't know about you, but I am feeling lazy.  I want a break from cooking. Pesach/Passover has worn me out. So many holiday and Shabbat meals, so many guests, so much fun (and work) and so much yummy food. To sum up the recent cooking and eating period, I will quote a loosely translated Hebrew expression: it was good and it's good that it's over (Zeh Haya Tov V'Tov Shehaya).

In the above spirit of cooking burnout inspired laziness, there was no way that I was baking Challah today so I opted for the easier option of baking beer bread.  This choice of bread baking is also the perfect selection for this week's Kosher Connection Link Up/Chametzfest. You can't get more Chametz than beer and bread and beer bread definitely trumps it all. 

The Recipe


3 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp demerara or other natural cane sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt 
12 ounces (300-330 ml) beer


Mix dry ingredients
Add beer and mix with wooden spoon until a dough is formed
Pour dough into greased loaf pan and bake 50-60 mins.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Easy Pesach Coconut Macaroons

I love cooking and baking. Could you tell? At the same time, there are some things that I just don't make. There are actually lots of things that I don't prepare.  I used to want to cook and bake everything but learned that with a family, a job and a life besides cooking, that some things are not worth the time, especially if you can buy them or have a friend or family member who can make it instead. Examples? Kreplach: after spending a ton of time in the kitchen only to have a 12 little sad things floating in my soup when I can just buy a package that tastes better and takes no time. Gnocci-same! Sushi, I cheat and make Sushi Salad and have children that make it sometimes but no matter what it tastes better from the Sushi place.  

Until this very moment in time, macaroons fell into that category. I remember, every year my mom buying the canned macaroons that were small, over-moist and sickly sweet and I never did care for them much. Then one year, I had a palate-opening experience. Gitel's a kosher bakery in Chicago in the 1980's, opened it's new premisis just before Pesach and they were selling these large, fluffy, delectable macaroons. I then discovered that I like macaroons. After that year, those airy and tasty macaroons disappeared into thin air, never to be seen again until I came to Israel in 1986, you couldn't find the sticky canned stuff any where but every bakery and supermarket was filled with these puffy, fluffy, delicious coconut delights.  

So, again...why should I make them? Even with the inflated and crazy prices, there is so much other work for Pesach, so who needs to make something that can be bought. The truth, I would have never thought of making them but ironically, now, in the middle of using up all my Hametz food, I found myself stuck with an opened bag of coconut to use up and decided to experiment.

Well, they came out delicious! Not as pretty as the store bought ones but light and not too sweet. I'm still not sure if I'll make them for Pesach but I will definitely consider it if time permits.


3 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt


Heat oven to 180 C (350 F)
Whip up egg whites until peaks form.
 Gradually add sugar vanilla and salt and whip some more until well-blended
Mix coconut into egg white mixture
Form into balls and bake until lightly browned for 15-20 minutes

Makes 20-24 cookies

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baked Tuna-Potato Patties for Pesach and All Year Round

Hi All. I'm on a roll here with three posts in a little over a week. I can hear the applause and feel that back patting! I am now in my mode of operation that I call creative procrastination. It basically means that I do lots of productive things but not necessarily those on the top of my priority list. This translates to cooking and blogging instead of Pesach cleaning.

 Next Monday night we are throwing a Sheva Brachot  with four other families and one of the dishes I need to prepare is

Tuna Patties. This recipe is based on a recipe that I got from my neighbor Judy but I have adapted it slightly.  I hadn't made these in ages as maybe two family members would eat them and because as the original recipe called for frying which I try to avoid. Well, lately I have been baking more and more "frying" recipes with amazing results including this one. So without any further ado (Drum Roll) the recipe!


2 cans of tuna, drained
2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 medium onion, chopped and sauteed in canola or olive oil
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Additional oil or cooking spray


Mix all of the ingredients together until well blended.
Grease or spray baking sheet or pan
Form into small patties and place on pan
Bake on 225 C (450 F) for 15-20 minutes.
If necessary, flip and bake approximately 5-10 mins more.

Betavon! Enjoy!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quinoa-Walnut Patties for Pesach (Passover)

I start this post with a disclaimer. I am not a Rabbi nor a Halachic (Jewish Law) Authority of any sorts. I know there has been debate about whether quinoa is kitniyot (a legume) and whether Ashkenazi Jews can eat quinoa on Pesach. We do eat quinoa on Pesach which is very helpful in feeding my two vegetarians. This recipe is great all year round and is gluten free so I recommend that you continue reading no matter what your background.

I served these patties at lunch on Shabbat (Saturday) and they were enjoyed by the vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.


1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups boiling water
1 medium onion finely diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 oz (approx 180 g) ground walnuts
freshly ground pepper
2-4 eggs

non-stick spray or oil for greasing baking pan

Cook quinoa and cool. 
Heat oil and saute onions until carmelized, add the garlic for the last minute or two of cooking.
Mix all quinoa, onion-garlic sautee and the rest of the ingredients until well mixed. 
Form into approximately 12 patties and place on greased baking pan.
Bake at 225 C(450 F) or broil/grill in oven for approximately 15 mins and then flip and cook for approximately 5-10 mins on the second side.

Serve as is or with the sauce of your choice.

Can be frozen and can be reheated.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Spinach-Artichoke Kugel: a Pesach Friendly Recipe

I'm Back!

Hi all, sorry its been so long. No excuses really. I just got out of the blogging routine. I'm going to try to be "good" for now on, with anywhere from weekly to monthly (bare minimum) posts.  It is now that period that many Jews love hate go through this time of year where we try to use up the food in our house and at the same time are looking for ideas regarding what we should cook for Pesach. My next recipe kills those two birds with one stone and still remains vegetarian :).  I have been going through my freezer and  remembered that a couple of months ago that frozen artichoke bottoms were on sale. I also had some frozen spinach. I thought that I would make frozen artichoke bottoms stuffed with a spinach filling.  In the end I changed my mind and made this delicious kugel and the best thing is that it is gluten free and Kosher for Pesach.

Spinach-Artichoke Kugel


1 tablespoon oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
500g (approx. 1 lb) chopped frozen spinach
400 g (approx 14 oz.) frozen artichoke bottoms
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup ground walnuts/and/or ground sunflower seeds (sunflower seeds are considered legumes for Ashkenazim on Pesach)


Sautee onions in oil until soft and golden.
In the meantime, defrost spinach and drain well.  
Defrost artichoke bottoms.
Mix sauteed onions with the rest of the ingredients.
Bake in a greased rectangular pan at 180 C (350 F) for 45-50 mins or until solid and slightly browned.