Kreplach

Challah may have been my first introduction to Jewish food, but that was  an introduction of my own making.  Now kreplach, that was something my husband invited me to do with him.  I recognized even at the time what a mark of favor that was!

You see, this recipe is one of those treasured family creations.  It is the staple at every holiday dinner and it is just assumed that a big batch will be a key part of the meal.

Sure, challah and chicken soup are more well known…but this recipe is a family heirloom.  My husband’s grandmother taught him how to make it, and she was the only one the family trusted with the job.  You can imagine how he felt the year that HE was nominated to make the whole batch.  He enlisted my help and we struggled to make them just right, because we really wanted her approval.  After all, this was her recipe AND the first time I was going to meet her!

I consider myself very lucky to have been co-chef and presenter that year.  Not long after I got a chance to meet her, she passed away, and I feel like with the kreplach I have at least a thin tenuous connection to her and the family legacy.

But, please don’t think that kreplach is a solemn food!  I’m not sure how anything that is fried, salty and this delicious could ever be eaten with a straight face.  Oh, as any good family recipe does, it definitely brings up stories and family memories, but they are more likely to be nearly-choke funny then sad!  In fact, I think the only way to eat kreplach is as close to the stove as possible, so you can get them hot off the pan, and with a big group of people you care about!

**Just so you know how dedicated I am to giving all of the best recipes I can find, I’m going to let you in on a secret.  Before I was allowed to post this, I had to make sure that all of the family was ok with me putting it on the internet.  That was scary, because it meant I had to tell them that I was writing this blog at all!  Thankfully for all of you, this blog met their approval so you can get in on this!**

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Cajun Style Salmon with Grilled Zucchini

As I flip through my cookbooks and stacks of recipes that I save for the blog, I’m realizing just how many fish dishes there are in the mix!  There is definitely a tradition of fish cookery and a real variety of what flavors or sauces are added to it.  I’m ok with that, since “they” all say that fish is really healthy for you and it cooks up quickly! We’ve taken to keeping a frozen fish fillet in our freezer for those nights when all other inspiration has fled.  You can usually find something to dress it up with out of the leftovers in your pantry.

I realize I should have put this post during Passover, because it is a very easy way to stay within the restrictions of the holiday.  Plus, fish is pretty traditional for Easter as well and since they overlap this year it would’ve been a nice way to provide a dish slightly more culturally sensitive then ham.

Oh well!  I guess you’ll just have to put this in the archive for next year, or better yet… cook it up this week!  We made it on the grill, since the weather has been lovely, but you can also broil it in the oven if you need to.  The zucchini is my husband’s concoction and it has become the repeat favorite at every BBQ gathering we’ve hosted, who knew!  The only advice I have for this recipe is to get a really nice piece of fish.  There isn’t a heavy sauce or anything so the flavor of the fish really comes through.

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Baked Avocado Fries

Hey look at that… Passover is over!  You made it through, aren’t you proud?  Maybe you are like me and you don’t really keep kosher for Passover (that’s ok, I won’t tell) but maybe you DO and so getting through this is a real accomplishment.  I bet you want to celebrate with something breaded and delicious and not all that good for you.

Don’t worry, I have just the dish for you!  I came across this thanks to Pinterest, yes I am getting slowly pulled in but am avoiding full on obsession…so far.  It is from a fun blog called “Adventures in Cooking.”  I haven’t explored too much of it yet, but it looks like there is some really good stuff on there.  It takes avocado, already delicious, and makes it taste like it has been fried.  I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this before!

Anyway, back to the stove.  Make these for a party, or yourself.  I won’t tell either way.

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NPR Story on Matzah

Ok, so this isn’t a recipe, but it is very very fitting for the blog.  No really, it is I promise!  You see, just when I thought it was safe to forget about matzah for another year….it snuck up on me again! Planet Money, a really awesome podcast from NPR, just did a segment called “The Matzo Economy.”  They go into the headquarters of Manischewitz, look at their business and how they keep solvent when…really…most people buy matzah for one week a year.  Finally, they tie it all in to the global economy!

I know, it sounds about as exciting as those talking head shows that fill the 24hr news networks.  But, give it a try!  Planet Money has this great way of taking super complex ideas, making them approachable and interesting.  I always finish a podcast feeling much smarter and like I actually understand what they were talking about.

This one was especially on target to what I’d been thinking about.  I mean, my grocery store always has one section of one aisle that has kosher options on it.  Then, right before Passover, it explodes into its own huge aisle.  Where does it go the rest of the year?  How do they mass produce something that has such specific requirements for every step of the process.  I’m sure that is EXACTLY what you were thinking about too, wasn’t it?  No?  Maybe?  But you are now so you might as well listen to the show!

You can listen to this particular podcast through the link above, but you can also subscribe through their website or ITunes to get a short segment twice a week.  If you like it, then I definitely recommend you listen to “The Case for Preschool.”  Consider it a favor to me, since that is one of my own personal soapboxes!

I’ll also let you in on a little secret.  Hearing this made me want to make some matzah crunch with those random leftover bits of matzah I still have lying around.  You know,  if there is any matzah in your house you need to get rid of then you can do the same thing…..while listening to the podcast!  Good idea huh?

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Curried Sweet Potato Tzimmes with Apple

So at its very basic, tzimmes is really just stewed vegetables with fruit.  Usually, you’ll see it as carrots with dried fruit…and that is delicious.  The awesome thing, like most of the recipes that I’m discovering through this blog, is that it doesn’t HAVE to be that way.  Why not use another veggie you like?  Add some fresh fruit!  Change up the flavors for some kick if you don’t like it as sweet.

Now, I have had some awesome carrot based tzimmes (Beth, I’m talking to you…that one you made was delicious).  However, it isn’t something I would make for just me and my husband on a weeknight.  This sweet potato one, it can be a meal on its own.  In fact, it was our meal the other night and I think it will go into the rotation even after Passover is done.

It isn’t too tricky to make, it has good flavor and it doesn’t need a ton of ingredients.  Since you are baking sweet potatoes you need to plan a little in advance (or microwave them if you prefer) but after that it comes together quickly.  Plus, you can play with the spices to make it fit what you like.  Hope you enjoy this one!

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Passover Popovers

Who said you can’t have bread during Passover?  You can, you just have to get creative about making it.  A good friend of mine always tells me how sick she gets of matzoh sandwiches by the end of Passover.  I can see why, you have to admit that stuff is not the tastiest (unless you make it yourself…hint hint)

So, hopefully, this recipe relieves some of her lunch boredom this year!  My husband was very skeptical of these at first, but he must have been a quick convert because before I knew it three of the rolls had vanished off the cooling rack.  The recipe is exceeding simple, can be done in one pot and takes no knowledge of yeast or other baking secrets. Plus, you can make it up to three days in advance and keep it in the fridge.  Hooray!

The recipe calls for matzoh meal, which you can find in the Kosher section of the grocery store.  If you’ve already purchased matzoh cake meal (perhaps for a delicious fruit crisp) that will also work, although they don’t seem to puff up as nicely.  The good flavor is still there though!

The rolls originally also called for safflower oil.  I wasn’t sure why until I did a little digging.  Since vegetable oil usually has soybeans in it, that apparently makes it not kosher for Passover.  The best explanation I could find for all of this was through the Orthodox Union, they are the self-proclaimed “world leader in kosher certification” and you’ve seen their little “u” stamp on Kosher foods I am sure!  If you are interested you can read more on it here.   Essentially, this doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule for everyone, so you can use your judgement and substitute vegetable oil if you would like to!

Oof, that got technical fast!  To make a long story short, use the ingredients that you feel comfortable with and definitely try these rolls because they are tasty!

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Passover Fruit Crisp

Wow, Passover happened again.  That seemed really fast…anyone else think so?  I wasn’t ready at all, in fact I grabbed what must have been the last box of matzoh in the entire grocery store.  Whenever I am running late like that, I know that it means my blog post won’t be up in a timely fashion.  After all, it is now Saturday afternoon and if anyone is going to a Seder tonight you will (probably) already have your dish picked out.  That’s ok though, because I think you will still want to make this to share with a special someone later in the week!

When it comes to Passover desserts, the repertoire can look a little familiar.  After all, how much baking can you do with no leaven to work with?  It will hold out that the Mock Chestnut Torte I made last year is still one of my Passover secret weapons (I have one in the oven now for the Seder I’m going to tonight).  However, that isn’t always what you feeling like.  After all, we’ve had nice weather…maybe you are craving some fruit!

I got this recipe from the Washington Post and it was really satisfying to mix up all the delicious berries and have them come out bubbling and hot.  You can see from my photo that my husband approved…he dug in before I could even snap a picture!

I am still tweaking the crumble part, it didn’t get as crispy as I wanted it to.  I think next time it will be about making sure there is plenty of brown sugar in there and that the butter really gets broken up so it has a chance to ooze over everything else.  However, if yours turns out a bit dry then just make sure you mix it into the fruit before taking the first bite…that will fix it!

The other awesome thing about this dish is that it can be made up to three days in advance and kept in the fridge.  You’ll definitely want to find individual sized ramekins, this is a juicy dish and spooning it out wouldn’t go so well.  I used some I had, but also bought disposable little loaf pans so that it could travel more easily.  You can get about 8-10 servings out of this depending on the size of the dish you use.  Enjoy!

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