Chocolate Challah Bread Pudding

I usually don't have leftover challah, even when I make my giant size recipe

But for Yom Kippur I make TWO giant size challahs, one for the pre-fast dinner and one for break-the-fast.

So, for the kids, there's usually a hunk or two left for French toast.

But this year I had bits and pieces left over: crusts from the pieces that went into the French toast (for the kids who don't like crust). And a few pieces of "insides" left from the grownups who picked off some of the crust.

I hate throwing food away, especially something as delicious as challah.

Waste not, want not.

I put all the leftover pieces into a bowl and made it into chocolate bread pudding.

You can't go wrong mixing challah, milk, sugar and chocolate.


Chocolate Challah Pudding

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces leftover challah,including crusts, (about 7-8 loosely packed
  •                                                                         cups of small pieces)
  • 3 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Butter a large, deep baking dish or (8-cup) souffle dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Break the bread into pieces into a bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and let it soak for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally so all pieces of bread absorb some milk. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the eggs with the sugar for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate. Mix in the bread-milk mixture. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place the dish inside a larger pan. Add enough water to the outer pan to come up one-inch of the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Makes 8 servings



Anyone who reads this blog knows that potatoes are my go-to comfort food. My magic medicine for when I'm stressed out.

So I'm definitely going to need something potato tonight when Ed and I have our debate-watch group over. (By the time this election is over my potato consumption for the year will be way over the limit.)

So I made a stuffed potato roll. Actually mashed potatoes with caramelized onions wrapped inside puff pastry.

Actually, a giant knish.

And guess what!? This dish is absolutely perfect for my Vegetarian Break-the-Fast, so I made one for that occasion too!

And also guess what!? It's also perfect for Meatless Monday. And also for Sukkot, when it is traditional to serve stuffed foods.

All in all, this is a big, big winner for whenever. Really. Whenever.


Giant Knish

  • 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets frozen parve puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a flat baking sheet. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash the potatoes until they are fluffy. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the egg, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix ingredients. Let cool. Using one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll the dough slightly thinner. Place half the potato filling down the center of the dough, using up the middle 1/3 of the dough and leaving a one-inch margin at both of the short ends. Enclose the filling: place one side of the dough over the filling, then place the other side of the dough over the filling. Press the short ends to enclose the filling at the top and bottom. Place the roll, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the dough feels cool and firm. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut with a serrated knife. 


Makes 2 rolls, each serving 6 people



Carrot Spice and Honey Muffins


I always make a few carrot dishes for Rosh Hashanah. It's tradition!

Most often it's soup, sometimes a side dish.

This year I baked carrot muffins. Big breakfast winner for everyone, especially the grandkids.

Freezable too, so you can have them on hand whenever you might have a need. Like Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving weekend.


Carrot Spice and Honey Muffins

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, honey, cooled butter and vanilla extract. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently just until blended. Fold in the carrots and raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown. Let cool in the tins for 2-3 minutes, then remove the muffins to a rack to cool.

Makes 12  




Potato Chips May Save the Day

When I feel stressed I want potatoes.

Any kind.

Baked, boiled, fried, mashed, cakes, salad, pierogi, kugel, soup.

This election is giving me stress.

I know a lot of people who are freaking out. So it's not just me.

But I definitely need some sort of potato to calm me down.

So tonight, when I have people over for my first debate watch gathering, I am serving homemade potato chips. These:

Rosemary and Sea Salt Potato Chips

  • 3 medium russet type potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary (or use dried, crushed rosemary)
  • sea salt, preferably coarse, freshly ground salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wipe the potato slices dry. Pour the olive oil into a bowl. Add the potato slices and toss them to coat on all sides. Place the potato slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning the slices once.  

 Makes 4 servings



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Grandma Hoffman's Skinny Noodle Crusty-Top Mushroom Onion Kugel

Kugel is the kind of food that people can get into an argument about.

The issues can become monumental.

Like -- should it be sweet or salty?

have cheese or not? 

if cheese-- what kind?

And lots more.

Including this biggie -- what width noodles to use!

Skinny? Medium? Wide?


Here's my answer. Medium or wide for sweet, creamy, dairy-based or fruit-laden kugels served as side dishes with dairy or for dessert, because you want more pasta-surface area to absorb the sauce.

BUT, definitely skinny noodles for a savory kugel because you want it crispy on top to crunch under the pan juices or gravy that come with the tender meat and vegetables.

I grew up in a family where salty kugels were the thing. And ALWAYS made with the skinniest of noodles.

Here's my grandma's recipe. If you make it in a shallow baking pan the entire kugel is one huge crunch. Use a deeper pan if you prefer some soft noodles under the crusty top.

Grandma Hoffman's Mushroom Onion Kugel

  • 10 ounces skinny egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or schmaltz
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh mushrooms, any variety, sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • paprika

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package directions, until the noodles are tender but not mushy. Drain under cold water and set aside. While the noodles are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Set aside. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the vegetables with any accumulated juices, and stir the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the eggs and some salt and pepper to taste and mix them in. Place the mixture inside a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake for about 25 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes or until the top is crispy and browned.

Makes 8 servings

Carrots with Pomegranate Jam Glaze

There are several ingredients in my life that I cook over and over.

Salmon. I make it so often for Ed and me that we are turning into fish.

Except that I also cook a lot of turkey, so maybe instead of growing fins and swimming up river we will grow feathers and start saying "gobble gobble."

And carrots. They're my go-to vegetable because most people like them and even people who say they hate vegetables usually say carrots are okay. 

I will definitely serve carrots for Rosh Hashanah. Why?


Pomegranates are also traditional for the holiday, so a while ago I cooked carrots and pomegranates (in the form of pomegranate molasses) together once and the result was really delicious.

But recently I decided to rework my old recipe using pomegranate jam that I bought from Crafted Kosher

It's a keeper.

Also, you can make the recipe up to the point of actually roasting them, so it's one of those wonderful dishes you can make ahead during this crazily busy holiday time.

Carrots with Pomegranate Jam

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate jam
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange peel
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pomegranate jam, orange juice, vegetable oil, orange peel, cayenne pepper and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to blend the ingredients, and cook for one minute, making sure the jam has melted. Peel the carrots and cut them lengthwise in half or quarters, depending on thickness. Place the carrots on the parchment lined baking sheet and pour the jam mixture over them. Roast the carrots, stirring occasionally, for 18-20 minutes or until they are tender and well glazed. Sprinkle with mint and serve. 

Makes 4 servings


Plums - as Crisp, not Torte

A few weeks ago I spotted Italian prune plums at Fairway. It was 96 degrees out, in the middle of a heat wave, and here I was looking at the first culinary signs of autumn.

But there they were, the plums, and of course I bought several pounds of them.

My thoughts went immediately to Plum Torte, the iconic Rosh Hashanah dessert. I make one every year.

But those plums are too good to reserve for just one holiday.

So I made these Italian Prune Plum Crisps.

Crisps are a more homey-style dessert than a stately looking Plum Torte. However, I think they are just perfect for the holidays. Easier too.

Or, why not serve both?


Plum Crisp with Oat Streusel


  • 36 Italian prune plums
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking or rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the plums, brown sugar, lemon juice and flour in a baking dish. Set aside. Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Place the oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crispy and brown.

Makes 6-8 servings.




How Sweet It Is!

Apple Chai Cake.jpg

After Labor Day the entire social structure of my life changes along with everyone else's. All of a sudden we switch gears from grilling and walks on the beach to back-to-school stuff and fall fashions.

And the High Holidays.

Everywhere I look now there's a Rosh Hashanah reminder. Even though it's late this year (Jewish holidays are always early or late, never on time). The first night is October 2nd. Not so far away!

And so, to paraphrase the poet Shelley, I ask you: when Rosh Hashanah comes can Apple Cake be far behind?

No way! Because Apple Cake is one of the culinary icons of the holidays, a rite of passage for all would-be Jewish bakers. It wouldn't be a proper holiday without this dessert.

But not every apple cake is quite like Amy Kritzer's! This delectable new version, fragrant with chai-inspired spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves) and cloaked with a soft, maple-infused cream cheese frosting is a standout for its creative take on an old-fashioned classic. It's a beauty as well, with its creamy drizzle and, if you wish, chopped walnuts for garnish.

The recipe is from Amy's new book, Sweet Noshings, which is loaded with magnificent recipes that feature modern updates to and new ways with traditional Jewish baked goods. Everything from Mandel Bread (Amy's includes espresso powder and dried cherries), to Chocolate-Lime Sufganiyot (perfect for Hanukkah) to Flourless Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes with Beet (!) Frosting (I can't wait to try that one!).

There's even a riff on the classic egg cream (it includes strawberries and almond milk).

Anyone who is familiar with Amy's popular blog, WhatJewWannaEat, knows that her recipes always surprise, always inspire. The cookbook does too. Satisfying those of us who like to go beyond ordinary when we cook.

And it certainly satisfies a sweet tooth.

Apple Chai Cake with Maple­ Cream Cheese Drizzle

Prep time: 30 minutes  • Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes  • Makes: 12 servings

 For cake

  • Butter, oil, or cooking spray for greasing pan
  • 3 cups (426 g) all-purpose flour, 
  • plus more for flouring the pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) neutral-flavored oil (such
  • as canola, vegetable, or grape seed)
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar, plus extra 5 tablespoons for apples
  • 4–5 Granny Smith apples, (3½ cups/440 g), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

 For drizzle

  • 4 ounces (113 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (113 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (plus 1–2 teaspoons, if needed) milk (or water or almond milk if keeping parve), at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/ 180ºC. Grease a 12-cup (2.8 L) Bundt pan with butter and a dusting of flour (or use nonstick spray) and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate large bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer or spoon, mix together oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Then mix in 2 cups of the sugar until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, switching to the beater attachment (or continue to mix by hand). Mix until combined, being careful not to over mix. Batter should be thick but pourable. 

4. Peel and core apples and cut into thin, 1/8-inch (3 mm) wedges.

5. Combine apples in a large bowl with remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

6. Spoon a third of the batter in pan. Add half of the apple mixture in an even layer, add another third of the batter. Follow with other half apple mixture and last of the batter.

7. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a cooling rack. 

8. To make drizzle, beat cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Then beat in powdered sugar, butter, maple syrup, salt, and enough milk to get a thick but runny glaze. Keep beating until smooth. Drizzle all over your cooled cake. 


Fried Green Tomatoes


I go out to my garden now and it's still warm, like summer. But the leaves on big maple trees in the back are starting to turn and I can see the vague copper tips. It's that transition season when you want to grab the last of summer but your head understands that autumn is coming.

I've picked dozens of luscious tomatoes in the last few weeks, but there are still some green ones hanging on the vines. Do I wait for them to ripen and have the last few precious bites?

What if there's a sudden frost! That happened to me last year and all my tomatoes were ruined.

Here's what to do: use some green tomatoes and leave just a few to ripen and hope for the best.

In the past I've baked green tomato pie, fried green tomato slices, baked green tomato slices, made green tomato pickles and cut green tomatoes into different kinds of chutney.

This year I decided to pack them into a sandwich.


Fried Green Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with one teaspoon water
  • 3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 12-16 slices green tomato (about 1/2-inch thick)
  • 4 Portuguese rolls, sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill with the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and cut them into quarters. Brush the pepper pieces with the olive oil. Broil the pepper pieces, turning them occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until charred. Remove the pieces to a plate. When cool, peel off the skin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the flour with some salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in another dish. Place the breadcrumbs in a third dish. Coat the tomato slices with flour. Shake off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten eggs, covering the slices completely. Coat the slices with the breadcrumbs. Place the tomato slices on a cookie sheet or baking rack to air dry for at least 15 minutes. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Place the rolls in the oven to warm them up for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven. While the rolls are warming, mix the mayonnaise and basil together. Spread equal amounts of the mayonnaise on the bottoms of each of the rolls. Top each with 3-4 tomato slices. Top each with two roasted pepper quarters. Top each with equal amounts of the cheese. Finally, cover with the top of the roll. Place back in the oven for a minute or so to slightly melt the cheese and serve.


Makes 4 sandwiches

Easy Peasy Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

Things are still blooming in my garden. And I'm not usually so lucky when it comes to my produce plantings, so I only planted tomatoes and herbs.

Next year: going to try berries. Strawberries and blueberries.

In the meantime it's store bought for me (including farmer's markets).

So the other day, when Fairway had a sale on blueberries (each dry pint for $1!!!!)I bought 5 (the limit). Even though I already had some fresh blueberries at home.

And then I had to use them.

I made blueberry cake, blueberry muffins and blueberry soup (so refreshing on a summer day!). And a blueberry crisp.

And also blueberry jam.

I like jam, but don't like fussing with sterilizing jars and putting the jars in one of those water-bath things. So I only make an amount that will be used within a couple of weeks and store it in my fridge. For example, for:

Here's the simple recipe:

Fuss-Free Blueberry Jam

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 cup sugar

Place the blueberries, orange juice, orange peel and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing down on the ingredients with a wooden spoon to crush the berries slightly. When the liquid has thickened to jam-like, remove the pan from the heat. Let cool and spoon into a jar. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups