Shavuot

Blue Salad (with green): Berries and Cheese

I love blueberries and I love blue cheese, so I figured they might go together well.

They did!

In this light, refreshing summer salad.

Nice for a full lunch — add a crust of bread. Or as a first course for dinner.

I bought the blueberries and the cheese. But the greens? Right from my garden! What a joy!

Blue Salad (with green)

  • 1 head leaf lettuce or 6 cups mixed greens

  • 1 cup blueberries

  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion tops

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (or use avocado oil)

  • 3-4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds, optional

Tear the lettuce into smaller pieces and place them in a salad bowl. Add the blueberries, cheese and chives and toss the ingredients. Pour in the olive oil and toss the ingredients again. Add 3 tablespoons of the Balsamic vinegar, toss and taste, add more Balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve and garnish with the toasted almonds if desired.

Makes 4-6 servings

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

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You know that famous Plum Torte so many of us bake for Rosh Hashanah? I decided to use it for a light, summery coffee cake.

Sort of. I replaced the plums (not yet available anyway) with fresh seasonal blueberries.

I gave it a bit of enrichment by adding some yogurt (dairy sour cream would be fine too) and a splash of orange (by way of peel) because the citrus pairs so well with blueberries.

Voila! A terrific, easy, more-appropriate-for-summer dessert. July 4th? Sure. Picnic? Sure. Any time at all.

Blueberry Yogurt Torte

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup plus one teaspoon sugar

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt

  • 1 pint blueberries

  • lemon juice (about one tablespoon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes or until creamy and well blended. Mix the flour, orange peel, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix briefly to blend ingredients. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for a minute or two at medium speed until a thick batter has formed. Add the eggs and yogurt and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake, pressing them slightly into the batter. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned, set and crispy. Let cool.

Makes 8 servings

Chopped Salad with Chick Peas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

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For us, summer means salad. Not just leafy greens and tomatoes for starters to a meal. We eat bulky filling salads for dinner. Like this chopped salad, which of course could be served with other salads or as a side dish to grilled fish. But it’s also satisfying on its own, just like this. Add a crust bread and some fabulous olive oil for dipping and that’s all you need (except for dessert of course).

Chopped Salad with Chickpeas, Feta Cheese and Zatar Vinaigrette

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and chopped

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

  • 3–4 scallions, chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup tangy black olives, pitted and halved

  • 3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon zatar

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Pita bread or crisps, optional

Place the cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions, chick peas, cheese, parsley, and olives in a bowl and toss ingredients gently. Just before serving, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, and zatar. Pour over the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Salad tastes good with Pita bread or crisps.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Coffee Ice Cream with Hawaij Spices

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Shavuot is the “dairy holiday” right?

So that means ….. ice cream!

Here’s a new flavor for you: Hawaij-infused coffee ice cream. It’s like an ultra-rich, coffee-lover’s version of plain old coffee ice cream except that it has a splash of spice. Hawaij spice blend to be specific. A few months ago Pereg sent me some samples of their new Hawaij spice combos.

I used the savory blend for an absolutely fabulous chicken curry (plus several other recipes that I’ll post about some other day).

But the coffee blend (which includes inger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom) I figured would be useful beyond simply spicing up my afternoon cuppa.

So I used it to make ice cream.

Oh my is all I can say.

If you love coffee ice cream, this one’s for you.

Coffee Ice Cream with Hawaij Spices

  • 1 cup coffee beans

  • 2 cups half and half

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Pereg Hawaij coffee spice

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup heavy cream

Place the coffee beans in a paper or plastic bag and gently tap with a rolling pin or meat mallet to break the beans coarsely. Not all of the beans need to be broken. Place the beans in a saucepan and pour in the half and half. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for at least one hour. Strain the liquid, discard the beans and set the liquid aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, salt, egg yolks and Hawaij together at medium speed for 4-5 minutes or until thick and pale. Pour in the strained, steeped cream. Beat the ingredients, starting at low speed and gradually to medium speed, for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is well blended and a uniform color. Pour the mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the heavy cream. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to cool completely. Stir in the vanilla extract. Freeze in an ice cream maker until thick and cold. Spoon into a container and freeze until firm.

Makes about 5 cups

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Roasted Vegetable Galette

Everyone who knows me or has read a few Mother’s Day posts on my blog knows we don’t celebrate the usual way. We don’t go out to a restaurant or club.

We stay home and have a cookoff.

Yes, we cook and it’s work and a mess but we have the best time ever. Everyone participates (except that some years I am just in charge of the beverages).

We choose a theme, form into teams and each team chooses a recipe. I buy the ingredients a couple of days before and then, on Sunday, my two daughters, their husbands, my husband and my grandkids all get cooking.

Last year our theme was dips. I prepared a tropical salsa.

One year it was chocolate chip cookies.

We’ve done tomato sauce, eggs and so on.

This year we decided on PIE. Each team will make some sort of pie.

There are no rules. They interpret the word (pie) however they wish.

So — apple pie? Sure!

Pizza pie? Of course!

Pot pie? Yes!

The only limit: this will be a vegetarian/dairy meal. So, no beef pot pie.

But — quiche? Why not — it’s a type of open face pie, right?

How about a potato/olive/onion empanada? YUM!

Cabbage pastie? ok!

I am thinking of this though: roasted vegetable galette. I make it with pie dough so it qualifies, doesn’t it?

A good Meatless Monday (or any other day) choice.

 

Roasted Vegetable Galette

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallion tops

  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

  • 2 medium yellow squash, sliced

  • 4-5 plum tomatoes, sliced

  • 1 large Portobello mushroom, sliced

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • salt to taste

  • 1 bunch spinach, washed and dried

  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese

  • 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 egg, beaten, optional

For the crust: mix the flour, salt and chives together in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and shortening and cut the fat into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender or by processing on pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Gradually add 3 tablespoons milk and mix to form a soft dough, adding more milk as needed. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a circle about 12-13 inches in diameter (about 1/8-inch thick) and transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.

For the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash, tomato and Portobello slices on the baking sheet and brush on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for 20-22 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Drain any liquid, chop the spinach coarsely and set aside.

Reduce the oven heat to 400 degrees. Scatter the circle of dough with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, leaving a border of about 1-1/2 inches. Mix the vegetables together with the basil and place over the cheese. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese on top. Fold the dough over the vegetables but not completely; leave the center open, with 7-8 inches of the vegetables showing. Pleat the dough at the edge to give the galette a rustic look. Beat the egg and brush it onto the dough for a glazed look, if desired. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Makes 8 servings

Pizza with Spinach, Tomatoes and Cheese

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Has pizza become the official post Passover food?

I don’t remember that being the case when I was growing up. After Passover, we were full-on with bagels, challah and sandwiches.

So when did this well-loved dish become so extraordinarily popular?

In the first half of the 20th century there were only a few pizza parlors in the United States, all in urban centers such as New York and Boston (and in New Haven, where, in 1925, Frank Pepe set up the still-famous Pepe’s Pizza). But most of the clientele were folks in the local Italian immigrant community.

Pizza became a “thing” in the late 1940s, spurred on by former GIs who had been to Italy during World War II and tasted it there and didn’t want to do without.

Can you blame them?

Pizza has since become an iconic American dish, with toppings way way beyond the classic, original Italian Marhgerite.

We have homemade pizza post Passover, because why not!

Also, when we want a meatless meal, because why not!

For Shavuot, the “dairy” holiday, because why not!

As an hors d’oeuvre for a dairy or fish dinner, because why not?

Pizza with Spinach and Eggs 

  • 1 pizza crust (about 10-inches)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and dried (about 6 ounces)

  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, sliced

  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded or chopped

  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the crust on a pizza stone or lightly oiled pizza pan or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the spinach and cook for 3–5 minutes or until wilted and all the liquid has evaporated from the pan. If necessary, press the spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Spread the spinach evenly on top of the crust. Place the tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano. Drizzle with remaining half tablespoon olive oil. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust is beginning to brown.

 Makes 2 servings

 

 

 

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

People sometimes laugh at me because we are a year-round matzo family, year-round matzo-brei family.

I mean -- when something is delicious, why wait for Passover?

On the other hand, when Passover comes, I like to branch out from the usual matzo-brei breakfasts -- for instance, with pancakes like these, which are rich and holiday-festive, and also substantial enough for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. 

 

Matzo Cheese Pancakes

  • 1 cup cottage cheese

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or one tablespoon grated orange peel

  • 1/2 cup matzo cake meal

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon potato starch

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 cup raisins

  • butter for frying

In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon peel and whisk together until well blended. In a second bowl combine the cake meal, sugar, potato starch, cinnamon and salt. Spoon the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the cake meal and whisk until the batter is smooth and uniform. Fold in raisins, if used.

Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan or griddle over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add batter by heaping tablespoonsful and cook for 1-2 minutes or so until browned on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook for a minute or so on the second side or until lightly browned. Add more butter to the pan as needed to prevent sticking.

Makes about 16

Orange-Vanilla Flavored Cheese Stuffed Dates

Sometimes I think life is a bunch of holidays with not much in between. Except for the entire month of January.

I suppose that's a good thing, because holidays are happy and celebratory.

Also, there's the food. Except for Yom Kippur, every holiday has food. And even when it comes to Yom Kippur, there's the break-the-fast when it's all over and the break-the-fast is all about food. 

As far as holidays go, at this point of the year, we've just finished Thanksgiving. So what’s next up?

Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is a really delicious holiday. Lots of fried stuff like latkes and doughnuts.

It's also a dairy holiday because of the story of Judith, which you can read about it here

For our family, in honor of Judith, I make lots of dairy items in addition to the usual potato latkes and doughnuts. I have served cheese latkes and potato latkes with a yogurt based sauce laced with lemongrass. And also Potato Galette with Caramelized Onions and Cheese and Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel (actually that one’s a favorite). 

Desserts? Maybe Meyer Lemon Yogurt Pie (you can use regular lemons) or Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries. Maybe even cheesecake. Or some fabulous cheesecake cookies!

And also these stuffed dates! Easy to make, not too sweet (no added sugar), these little morsels are perfect for the holiday. If you don't want to use almonds for garnish, crushed, toasted coconut will do nicely.

Btw, these make a nice tidbit for New Year’s, either as hors d’oeuvre or late night snack. 

 

Orange-Vanilla Flavored Cheese Stuffed Dates

  • 12 medjool dates

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds (or pistachios or crushed, toasted coconut)

Cut the dates through the center, but not all the way through to the bottom. Remove the pit and spread the date slightly to form a hollow for filling. Mix the cream cheese, yogurt, orange peel and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and soft. Fill the dates with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Makes 12 

Ricotta Tart with Lemon and Coconut

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Cheesecake? Wonderful! 

But how about cheese pie? Tart?

For Shavuot.

Or anytime at all!

This recipe started with a nut streusel top but I needed something nut-free, so substituted shredded coconut. You can change that to chopped almonds if you prefer.

You need to start ahead on this one so that the cheese can drain and become dry-ish. This gives the filling a tender texture and also helps assure the crust won't get too soggy too soon.

Ricotta Tart

For the filling:

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon or orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

For the crust:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange peel
  • 1/4 pound butter, melted

To make the filling:

Place the ricotta cheese in a strainer set over a bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, to drain as much liquid as possible from the cheese. Pace the drained cheese in a food processor bowl. Add the eggs, honey, citrus peel and cinnamon and process until the ingredients are well blended and smooth. Set aside while you make the crust.

To make the crust:

Place the flour in a bowl. Mix in the sugar, salt and citrus peel. Pour in the melted butter and mix the ingredients to form a soft dough. Press the dough onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Prick the dough with the tines of a fork. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the dough with aluminum foil and weight it down with pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and weights, turn the oven heat down to 375 degrees and bake the crust for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon the filling in baked crust and sprinkle the coconut over top. Bake for about 25 minutes or until crispy looking and the center is set. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings

Orange and Vanilla Scented Cheese Stuffed Dates

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Sometimes I think life is a bunch of holidays with not much in between, except for the entire month of January.

I suppose that's a good thing, because holidays are happy and celebratory. Also, there's the food. Except for Yom Kippur, every holiday has food. And even when it comes to Yom Kippur, there's the break-the-fast when it's all over and the break-the-fast is all about food. 

As far as holidays go, at this point of the year, we've just finished Thanksgiving. Next up? Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is a really delicious holiday. Lots of fried stuff like latkes and doughnuts.

It's also a dairy holiday because of the story of Judith. You can read all about it here

So for me, in honor of Judith, in addition to the usual potato latkes and doughnuts, I have served cheese latkes and potato latkes with a yogurt based sauce laced with lemongrassPotato Galette with Caramelized Onions and Cheese has been on my Hanukkah menu and also Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel

Desserts? I could go with Meyer Lemon Yogurt Pie (you can use regular lemons) or maybe Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries. Maybe even cheesecake. Or some fabulous cheesecake cookies!

And also these stuffed dates! Easy to make, not too sweet (no added sugar), these little morsels are perfect for the holiday. If you don't want to use almonds for garnish, crushed, toasted coconut will do nicely.

 

ORANGE-VANILLA SCENTED CHEESE STUFFED DATES

  • 12 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds (or pistachios or crushed, toasted coconut)

Cut the dates through the center, but not all the way through to the bottom. Remove the pit and spread the date slightly to form a hollow for filling. Mix the cram cheese, yogurt, orange peel and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and soft. Fill the dates with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Makes 12