Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

pesach is in the air!

27 Mar

I love Pesach for its down to earth, back to the basics frame of mind, and because I love the kitchen and Pesach affords me the time and opportunity to cook and bake with the most basic ingredients.

Pesach in the RAAWWW!  We’ve come a long way since the time that the only available kosher for Pesach items were potato starch, hisachdus salt, black pepper, and oil!  In my day, we already had chocolate syrup, chocolate bars, mayonnaise and, of course, Kedem raspberry syrup.  Not to mention a host of other products which my Mother did not deem in necessary to use.  We learned, above all how to do without.  We didn’t buy ground nuts.  We had bowls of whole walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts which we shelled for eating and baking.  And we did not have the convenience of purchasing pre checked, bug-free lettuce.  In those days, year round salads were comprised of iceberg lettuce, which we would cut into chunks (non checked!).  On Pesach, we bought Romaine lettuce, as a bitter herb and sometimes we mixed it with Belgian endives.  The endives did not need checking but the Romaine checking was a project delegated to my father and often started when he came home from shul seder night!

We’ve come a long way since those days of few available Pesach items.  Today there are Pesach stores dedicated to Pesach items, and even small Mom and Pop groceries (of which there are few left today!) have an aisle or two of Kosher L’Pesach items.

I must say that I get upset when I see blatant retakes on such chometz items as breakfast cereals, pasta, and even pizza and rolls (frozen) being marketed and sold.  How will the next generation view Pesach?  Certainly not with the “we can live without it” mentality that we were brought up with.  In our generation of  “anything goes”, and with our kids seeing little or no deprivation on Pesach,  is it surprising that unfortunately, for many youths, this mentality carries over into their every day life?

What can’t you live without for 8 days?


chanukah 2011

26 Dec

I am officially hanging up my hat for the donut making this Chanukah Season.  I had already called it quits 24 hours ago, having made 1 batch of donuts on Wednesday night, for a family get-together we had at my daughter’s house,  and a double batch on Motzei Shabbos, in time for the Eisenberg seuda in honor of my Father-in-law’s first Yahrzeit.  So I’d sort of had it, until my one and only sister called last night at about 6:30pm to find out what was in my frying pan!  I said “latkes”  and she sighed in disappointment.  “Oh, and I’m making a fritlach dough now”, I added.  My sister was never one to mince words, as she told me that they were really in the mood for donuts, but “OK, whatever…..”

So I figured, the oil is in the pot anyway, the mixing bowl, rolling pin and board are dirty from the fritlach dough anyway, so what’s the big deal?  It only takes 5 minutes to put together the donut dough!  By the time she arrived with her husband and 4 boys, the donut dough was happily rising and the fritlach were sizzling in the frying pan.  The kids sat down to a game of draidel and fritlach, while my sister and I fried and filled the donuts.  What a hit! 

Now on this Monday morning, the 6th day of Chanukah 2010,  I am serious when I say I’m definitely hanging up my hat for this donut season.  Hopefully noone will call to see what’s cooking my frying pan because it will be empty!

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the community bulletin

09 Dec

I am proud to say that has joined with The Community Bulletin, an English language advertising magazine distributed in Israel for Americans/Israelis.  They have started a new column called The CooksNook,  which will be linked to this site.  Their first featured recipe will be the muffin donuts.  Welcome Aboard!


chanukah donuts

01 Dec

In Israel, sufganiyot (donuts) are sold exclusively for Chanukah and are not available for purchase the rest of the year. You can feel Chanukah in the air starting shortly after Rosh Chodesh CHESHVAN, when the stores start selling the most awesome donuts.  Their presence is noted by their prominent displays in store windows and it serves to set off the mood for the upcoming Chanukah season.  They’re all super delicious  –  whether they be custard filled, jelly filled, chocolate, or caramel filled – I can’t decide on a favorite.  Actually, whichever one I am eating at that moment is my favorite! 
Where I live, donuts are sold in bakeries and bagel shops all year round, so seeing them in the stores doesn’t automatically create an anticipation of Chanukah. . The donuts and sufganiyot are also not all created equal.  My favorite store-bought ones (after the free ones given out at KosherWest Supermarket each day of Chanukah ;)) are the ones from Shloime’s Bakery in Brooklyn which are also sold in Lakewood, at Gingerbread House.  But still, nothing compares to the fresh, homemade ones I make each year.  To kick off the Chanukah season here, I am going to post different varieties of homemade donuts every few days.  Please rate them in your comments and feel free to email me ( your favorite donut recipe for possible inclusion. 

photo credit:


the perfect meal

26 Oct

 It’s been over only a few days, but Sukkos is quickly fading into a memory.  The cooking, serving, clearing is all but forgotten, and with all the incredible food that we’ve had, the one thing that remains in my mind is the daytime seuda that I can only think of as “the perfect meal”.

After a bite of homemade challah, I served a plated Warm Sweetbreads Salad (Kosher by Design Entertains), where chunks of slightly cooked veal sweetbreads are tossed in breadcrumbs and lightly fried, while fresh garlic, ginger and onions, are sauteed with mild Asian flavors.  Then just a handful of the greens get wilted in the pan before it all gets tossed with the rest of the lettuce.  This dish is a favorite in my family! 

For the main course, I served a juicy slice of a medium-rare, Rib Eye Roast with Green Peppercorn Sauce*, a dollop of mashed potatoes with fried onions, and a few thin and elegant, lightly seasoned and sauteed, string beans.  It was perfect in its’ simplicity, and just what I would order in an upscale restaurant.

Dessert, was the only part of the meal that required a bit of planning, as part of the prep had to be done in advance.  I served Fried Ice Cream, which essentially tastes like pancakes and ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and a spritz of whipped cream.

All in all, the meal was divine.  Food doesn’t get much better than this.

*I actually had a hard time finding green peppercorns in time for Yom Tov.  Instead I used black peppercorns, albeit less than the recipe called for.  I did make the sauce previously with the green peppercorns and it was delicious.

photo credit: Karl Maasdam/Karl Maasdam Photography

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compliments to the chef

03 Oct

In addition to the pleasure of serving my family delicious foods on Shabbos and Yom Tov, my husband and I enjoy having guests over for some of the meals, giving me an opportunity to serve to others what has become “ordinary” to my family.  Such was the case, this Rosh Hashana, when I had a gentleman eating over for lunch as I presented my traditional stuffed veal pocket to the table.  I must say, the roast looked perfect – large and impressive, with juices oozing out onto the platter.  Because I serve this to my family at least twice a year, nobody looked terribly impressed, although I am sure that they were salivating.  Yet, our guest requested that I please not slice the roast for a few minutes so that he can just feast his eyes on the beautiful dish.  This statement and his genuine appreciation for the food he would soon eat, elevated the dish to greatness.  I granted his request and even turned the platter around so he could view the roast from all angles.

The roast was as delicious as it looked.  When dessert time rolled around, the kind gentleman said he would pass on dessert.  I sent my young son to serve him a portion of just baked Chocolate Chile Bread Pudding and to say “my Mother said ‘you’re not serious'”.  He laughed, accepted the dessert and swooned over it.  When he left, he said “believe me, I’ve been around – but you are the best cook in Lakewood!”.  Mr. W. may say this to every hostess he greets but it sure made me feel great and I will be happy to host him time and again with compliments like that!