Jewish food

4 Bloggers Dish

Holidays are for traditional food right?

Well, yes and no. Even traditions change. Maybe more slowly, but they change. New people come into the family. Health issues arise. Someone is allergic to something. Someone else is on a gluten-free diet or has decided to be a vegetarian. Another one hates that old soup that’s been on the menu for ages.

So new recipes are welcome. Especially if those recipes are fresh and modern, easy to make and festive enough for the holiday table.

There’s a new e-book for Passover that has all that and more. It’s called 4 Bloggers Dish and it’s filled with recipes that work not only for the holiday but year round. There’s no way I am waiting for Passover to try the Zucchini Fries with Horseradish Aioli. Ditto the Asparagus with Anchovies and Lemon Dressing.

I know two of the bloggers — Liz Rueven and Whitney Fisch who put this book together. They’re wonderful cooks (as I know Amy Kritzer and Sarah Lasry are). They know food, they know flavor and their Passover recipes offer a whole new collection of dishes that conform to all the Passover dietary laws but bring the menu into the 21st century.

In addition to the recipes you’ll find tips, freezer instruction and notes on how to prepare some of the dishes ahead — a worthy and necessary bonus when you have zillions of other things to do.

Here’s one of Liz Rueven’s soup recipes. It’s a vegetarian version of traditional onion soup that you can prepare on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. It can be a dairy dish too, by including the cheesy matzah crackers.

French Onion Soup with Cheesy Matzah Crackers

Prep Time: 45 minutes. Cook:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

Soup:

4 tablespoons margarine

4 large Spanish (red) onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly

6  cloves garlic, peeled: 2 whole, 4 chopped

1/3 cup dry red wine

8 cups organic vegetable broth

1 cup water

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

5 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves 

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat margarine in large pan on stovetop. Saute the onions over low heat, stirring only once or twice. Onions should be soft and caramelized in about 20-25 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Add red wine and simmer until the alcohol cooks off, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to large pot with a lid or slow cooker insert. Add vegetable broth, water, and all seasonings. On stovetop; simmer on low for 45 minutes, covered. In slow cooker: cook on High for 4 hours. When soup is finished, remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

Make matzah crackers

Ingredients:

3-4 matzah crackers per person

1 cup shredded mozzarella or other cheese of choice

paprika powder

a few sprigs of fresh thyme for plating

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place matzah crackers in a single layer on sheet. Sprinkle cheese on crackers. Shake a bit of paprika over the cheese for added color. Place pan under broiler and stay close by. Melt cheese until bubbly and remove tray from oven.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheesy matzah just before serving. Place a bit of fresh thyme in the center of each cracker.

Makes 8-10 servings

Prep Ahead Guide:  Onion Soup may be made 2-3 days in advance and will improve as flavors have time to meld. Re-heat in pot on stove .

Freezer Instructions: Freeze one month ahead, in airtight container, minus the croutons.

This recipe is vegetarian, Gebrokts. The broth is pareve. Adding the Cheesy matzah crackers makes it dairy. 

 

New York Cheesecake

This is my no-better-than-this-one cheesecake.

Honest.

I have tasted all sorts. Plain, chocolate, gloppy-cherry-topped, graham cracker crusted, pumpkin-infused, brandy-spiked, caramel swirled. Sara Lee’s, Lindy’s, Eli’s, Junior’s.

Not that I spend my life eating cheesecake. In fact, cheesecake is a rare item at our house because, let’s face it, there are enough calories in one slice for an entire meal.

Nope. Cheesecake is reserved for special occasions, like Shavuot (which begins at sundown May 14 this year). It’s tradition to eat dairy on this holiday, and cheesecake has always been the most popular holiday dessert.

As far as I’m concerned, because cheesecake is such a rarity in my life, it has to be worthy. Worthy of a celebration. Worth adding all those calories to my day.

This one is.

Honest.

 

New York Cheesecake

 

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately)
  • 1-1/2 pounds cream cheese (3-8 ounce packages)
  • freshly grated peel of one small orange
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup dairy sour cream or unflavored yogurt

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the butter on the bottom and sides of a 9” springform pan. Sprinkle the inside of the pan with the graham cracker crumbs. Shake the pan to coat the bottom and sides of the pan completely. Beat the cream cheese, orange peel and lemon peel together in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese has softened and is smooth. Gradually add the vanilla, cream and sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating them in after each addition. Stir in the sour cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Prepare a bain-marie, that is, place the springform pan inside a larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come at least 1-inch up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 70-75 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly browned. Remove the springform pan from the larger pan and let the cake cool in the springform pan. When the cake has reached room temperature, refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or until it is thoroughly chilled. Remove the sides of the pan to serve the cake. Slices best using a knife that has been inserted into very hot water. Makes one

Ginger Chicken Skewers

During the hearings for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Senator Lindsey Graham wanted to know what she knew about the Christmas Day Bomber. So he asked: “where were you on Christmas day?”  And Kagan, who is obviously smart and witty, said: “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”  She got a fierce round of applause.  I don’t know if Senator Graham understood the joke, but anyone who is Jewish, or hangs out with people who are Jewish or at least lives in a place where there are Jewish people knows that Jewish people are famous for doing three things on Christmas:  Going to the movies  Working in a Soup Kitchen  Eating Chinese food  Some say it’s a tribal thing. I don’t know. My children and grandchildren are always at my house on Christmas, especially if it falls over a long weekend like this year’s kind of is. We re-do Hanukkah, open gifts that I hadn’t bought in time for that and go to my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Eileen’s house because they have a universal type holiday party. And there are too many young children in the family to go out to any Chinese restaurant that would have us or go to the movies or work in a soup kitchen.  So I make a Chinese dish at home, sometimes a nibble, like  Pearly Meatballs  and sometimes an entree, like  Chicken and Peanuts .  This year it’s Ginger-Chicken Skewers. They’re tangy and sweet, have eye appeal and can be prepared up to the point of actualy cooking, in advance.  Which makes these perfect hors d’oeuvre for New Year’s if you’re entertaining. Or any old time I suppose.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year to all.  Honestly, I think it’s a whole lot easier just to say Happy Holidays, which covers it all. But I don’t feel like getting too political here. This is about a good hors d’oeuvre.     Ginger Chicken Skewers     1/3 cup soy sauce  3 tablespoons orange juice  1 tablespoon vegetable oil  2 teaspoons sesame seed oil  3 scallions, chopped  2 tablespoons chopped ginger  2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken  1 red bell pepper  1 green bell pepper    Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, vegetable oil, sesame seed oil, scallions and ginger in a medium bowl. Cut the chicken into strips about 3-inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Immerse the chicken in the soy sauce mixture and let soak for 2-3 hours. Remove the stem, pith and seeds from the peppers and cut them into chunks. Soak 2-1/2 dozen wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Thread the skewers using one strip of chicken, placing different color pepper pieces between the curves. Broil chicken 6 minutes, turning skewers occasionally, or until chicken is cooked through.   Makes 2-1/2 dozen

During the hearings for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Senator Lindsey Graham wanted to know what she knew about the Christmas Day Bomber. So he asked: “where were you on Christmas day?”

And Kagan, who is obviously smart and witty, said: “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”

She got a fierce round of applause.

I don’t know if Senator Graham understood the joke, but anyone who is Jewish, or hangs out with people who are Jewish or at least lives in a place where there are Jewish people knows that Jewish people are famous for doing three things on Christmas:

Going to the movies

Working in a Soup Kitchen

Eating Chinese food

Some say it’s a tribal thing. I don’t know. My children and grandchildren are always at my house on Christmas, especially if it falls over a long weekend like this year’s kind of is. We re-do Hanukkah, open gifts that I hadn’t bought in time for that and go to my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Eileen’s house because they have a universal type holiday party. And there are too many young children in the family to go out to any Chinese restaurant that would have us or go to the movies or work in a soup kitchen.

So I make a Chinese dish at home, sometimes a nibble, like Pearly Meatballs and sometimes an entree, like Chicken and Peanuts.

This year it’s Ginger-Chicken Skewers. They’re tangy and sweet, have eye appeal and can be prepared up to the point of actualy cooking, in advance.

Which makes these perfect hors d’oeuvre for New Year’s if you’re entertaining. Or any old time I suppose.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year to all.

Honestly, I think it’s a whole lot easier just to say Happy Holidays, which covers it all. But I don’t feel like getting too political here. This is about a good hors d’oeuvre.

Ginger Chicken Skewers

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sesame seed oil

3 scallions, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, vegetable oil, sesame seed oil, scallions and ginger in a medium bowl. Cut the chicken into strips about 3-inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Immerse the chicken in the soy sauce mixture and let soak for 2-3 hours. Remove the stem, pith and seeds from the peppers and cut them into chunks. Soak 2-1/2 dozen wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Thread the skewers using one strip of chicken, placing different color pepper pieces between the curves. Broil chicken 6 minutes, turning skewers occasionally, or until chicken is cooked through.

Makes 2-1/2 dozen

Plum Cake

Apples and Honey may be the most celebrated of Rosh Hashanah foods, but plums are also high on the list. Anyone who grew up in a Jewish household is surely familiar with Plum Torte, a standard item for the High Holidays. In fact, I think that every year, or nearly every year, the New York Times publishes a recipe for it.  
 So,  here’s  my recipe. And by the way, my niece  Rachel  once made this cake using  pears  because plums were not in season anymore.  
 But this year, in addition to my usual plum torte, I am making Plum Cake. There is an abundance of gorgeous, plump, prune plums (a/k/a President plums) in the market and I couldn’t resist, so I bought several pounds to bake with. 
 I once wrote about how much I loved my  Aunt Beck’s apple cake , a favorite end-of-summer and Jewish holiday treat. So I changed a few ingredients and proportions here and there and made it into plum cake. It not only tastes as good as the apple version, the colors are festive and gorgeous. I think Aunt Beck would like it. 
 Plum Cake 
  Crust:  
 1 large egg 
  1/3 cup sugar  
  6 tablespoons vegetable oil  
  2 tablespoons orange juice (or apple, apricot, mango)  
  2 cups all-purpose flour  
  1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder  
  1/2 teaspoon salt  
  1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon peel  
     
  Filling:  
    2 pounds Italian prune plums (or President plums) 
  1/3 cup sugar  
  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon  
  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
  2 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into tiny pieces  
     
  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the crust, beat the egg, sugar, vegetable oil and orange juice together in a mixer set at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until well mixed. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and citrus peel and mix until a smooth, soft, uniform dough has formed, about 2-3 minutes. Cut the dough into two pieces, one piece twice as large as the other. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface. Fit the larger piece into the bottom and up the sides of an 8”x8” or 9”x9” pan Wash the plums, cut in half and remove the pit. Slice the plums. Place them in a bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon and flour and place the mixture inside the dough. Dot the surface with butter. Roll the smaller piece of dough and place it on top. Press the edges to seal them. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until well browned. Makes 8-12 servings  
   

Apples and Honey may be the most celebrated of Rosh Hashanah foods, but plums are also high on the list. Anyone who grew up in a Jewish household is surely familiar with Plum Torte, a standard item for the High Holidays. In fact, I think that every year, or nearly every year, the New York Times publishes a recipe for it. 

So, here’s my recipe. And by the way, my niece Rachel once made this cake using pears because plums were not in season anymore. 

But this year, in addition to my usual plum torte, I am making Plum Cake. There is an abundance of gorgeous, plump, prune plums (a/k/a President plums) in the market and I couldn’t resist, so I bought several pounds to bake with.

I once wrote about how much I loved my Aunt Beck’s apple cake, a favorite end-of-summer and Jewish holiday treat. So I changed a few ingredients and proportions here and there and made it into plum cake. It not only tastes as good as the apple version, the colors are festive and gorgeous. I think Aunt Beck would like it.

Plum Cake

Crust:

1 large egg

1/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons orange juice (or apple, apricot, mango)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon peel

 

Filling:

 2 pounds Italian prune plums (or President plums)

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into tiny pieces

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the crust, beat the egg, sugar, vegetable oil and orange juice together in a mixer set at medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until well mixed. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and citrus peel and mix until a smooth, soft, uniform dough has formed, about 2-3 minutes. Cut the dough into two pieces, one piece twice as large as the other. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface. Fit the larger piece into the bottom and up the sides of an 8”x8” or 9”x9” pan Wash the plums, cut in half and remove the pit. Slice the plums. Place them in a bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon and flour and place the mixture inside the dough. Dot the surface with butter. Roll the smaller piece of dough and place it on top. Press the edges to seal them. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until well browned. Makes 8-12 servings

 

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Is this any time to be eating cheesecake? I mean, just when the weather is grand and we are beginning to think about what we will look like in a bathing suit soon?  Well, yes, if you don’t eat the whole cake and maybe you cut down on other high-calorie items or maybe work out a little longer. Indulgence is fine, IMHO, as long as it doesn’t get to be a habit.  And yes, if you will be observing Shavuot next weekend. This Jewish holiday celebrates the giving of the law (Torah) to the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt. But somehow, for celebration sake anyway, there’s usually a cheesecake involved. Scholars say it may have to do with the Israelites’ flight from Egypt to the Holy Land, which is described as the land of “Milk and Honey.”  I think this year I will serve a different kind of cheesecake: Brownies with Cheesecake. In fact, they are already in my freezer for the company I am expecting.      Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies   1 cup butter  4 ounces unsweetened chocolate  2-1/2 cups sugar  4 large eggs  1 cup all purpose flour  1/2 teaspoon salt  1 cup chopped nuts, optional  2 teaspoons vanilla extract  1 8-ounce package cream cheese  Lightly grease a 13”x9” baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan set over low heat (or in the top part of a double boiler set over barely simmering water). When the butter and chocolate have melted, blend them and stir in 2 cups of the sugar and 3 of the eggs. Whisk ingredients thoroughly. Add the flour, salt, nuts (if used) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir in the ingredients with a large wooden spoon. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until thoroughly blended. Spoon blobs of the cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate batter. Cut through the cheese, making swirls in the chocolate mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool. Cut into bars with a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Refrigerate. Makes 24-36 pieces

Is this any time to be eating cheesecake? I mean, just when the weather is grand and we are beginning to think about what we will look like in a bathing suit soon?

Well, yes, if you don’t eat the whole cake and maybe you cut down on other high-calorie items or maybe work out a little longer. Indulgence is fine, IMHO, as long as it doesn’t get to be a habit.

And yes, if you will be observing Shavuot next weekend. This Jewish holiday celebrates the giving of the law (Torah) to the Israelites after the Exodus from Egypt. But somehow, for celebration sake anyway, there’s usually a cheesecake involved. Scholars say it may have to do with the Israelites’ flight from Egypt to the Holy Land, which is described as the land of “Milk and Honey.”

I think this year I will serve a different kind of cheesecake: Brownies with Cheesecake. In fact, they are already in my freezer for the company I am expecting.

 

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

1 cup butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2-1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts, optional

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

Lightly grease a 13”x9” baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan set over low heat (or in the top part of a double boiler set over barely simmering water). When the butter and chocolate have melted, blend them and stir in 2 cups of the sugar and 3 of the eggs. Whisk ingredients thoroughly. Add the flour, salt, nuts (if used) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir in the ingredients with a large wooden spoon. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until thoroughly blended. Spoon blobs of the cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate batter. Cut through the cheese, making swirls in the chocolate mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool. Cut into bars with a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Refrigerate. Makes 24-36 pieces

Chocolate-Raisin-Nut Babka

Doesn’t this Babka look as if it came from a bakery?

It didn’t, of course. You can see from the second photo that it was taken straight from the loaf pan. That paper hanging over on the sides is needed to lift the cake out of the pan, because if you invert the cake (as you do with layer cake layers), all the crumbles fall off. Which, now that I think of it is not so bad because then you can gather them up and eat them in the name of cleaning up, without having to share that delicious delicious part with anyone else.

I’ve made Babka before, but never this good and never one that looked as professional. My Mom, who was a terrific baker, never baked Babka. She always said the one from the bakery near us was so good that she needn’t bother. So of all the wonderful baked goods I learned from her, this wasn’t one.

Our nearby bakeries don’t have great-tasting Babka. But we love this coffee cake so much I have been intent on getting it right, homemade.

After a few tries I did.

It got two thumbs up from everyone, so I’d like to share the recipe:

Chocolate-Raisin-Nut Babka

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water
  • Streusel

Combine the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl, pour in the warm milk and mix. Set aside for 5-6 minutes or until foamy. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium for 2-3 minutes or until well combined and smooth. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt and beat them in. Add the yeast mixture and beat it in until the batter is smooth. Gradually add as much of the remaining flour as is necessary to form a soft dough (about 1-3/4 cups). Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, beating each tablespoon in completely. Use a dough hook or knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is soft and smooth and slightly sticky. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. 

Lightly grease 2 9”x5” loaf pans. Line the pans with parchment paper, leaving enough extra at the short side so that you can lift out the cake when it has finished baking. Cut the dough in half and roll each half out on a floured surface to rectangles 13”x9”. Brush each rectangle with equal amounts of the melted butter. Scatter the chocolate, raisins and nuts, if used, on top, leaving some room around the edges. Roll the dough, jelly roll style. Twist the filled dough 3-4 times and place in the loaf pans. Brush the tops with some of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with Streusel. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the Babkas for about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in the pan. Lift the cake out using the parchment paper ends.

 Streusel

  •  3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Add the butter in chunks and work into the dry ingredients with fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.

Makes two Babkas

Passover Potato Pancakes with Leeks, Feta Cheese and Mashed Potatoes

When is matzo brei actually a potato pancake?

When you mix them together. Like in this matzo-potato pancake which is a terrific lunch or brunch dish during Passover.

This has been one of my go-to dishes for years, after that time I wanted to use up all the matzo farfel instead of having to throw it away knowing I wouldn’t use it again when Passover was done. So I experimented using it like the soaked matzo of matzo brei and added different ingredients to see what we all liked. 

I’ve made a version of this with sauteed mushrooms. And some with plain old yellow onion. But this is the best.

Passover Potato Pancakes with Leeks, Feta Cheese and Mashed Potatoes

1 bunch leeks

2 cups matzo farfel

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

2 cups mashed potatoes

1 large egg

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

vegetable oil for frying

dairy sour cream or plain, Greek style yogurt, optional

Discard the dark green portions of the leeks, then wash the leaves carefully; rinse and chop into small pieces. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the leek pieces, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the leeks have softened. Drain and place the leeks in a mixing bowl. Place the farfel in another bowl, cover with hot water and let soak for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Drain the farfel, squeeze it as dry as possible and add to the leeks. Add the feta cheese, mashed potatoes and egg. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to distribute them evenly. Season with salt and pepper (about 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Drop the farfel mixture by the heaping tablespoon into the hot fat. Flatten and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve plain or with sour cream or yogurt. Makes 4-6 servings

Chremslich

Passover wouldn’t be right without Chremslich. My grandma’s soft, honey-drenched matzo fritters. 
 I can’t remember ever having a Seder without these.  
 Some people eat chremslich for dessert but grandma always served them with the turkey, right alongside whatever vegetables there were. Like the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. 
 There are hundreds of recipes for chremslich and I’ve tried many. But none measure up to the ones I’ve known since before I can even remember. 
 Except that my grandmother added broken walnuts to hers and my daughter Gillian is allergic to walnuts so I make mine with pignolis, to which my brother Jeff always says “it’s better with walnuts,” but it actually isn’t. 
 I have also included raisins, on occasion, just to see what it’s like. And once in a while, grated fresh orange peel. Although methinks that the orange peel, though delicious, might be a bit too nouvelle for some people. 
 Maybe. 
 Anyway, here’s grandma’s recipe. I hope this is one of those recipes that my kids make in years to come. I can’t imagine Passover without these. 
 Btw, you can make these days in advance and keep them in the honey — and add more honey because by then the fritters are soaked through. And they are just as good. Some would say even better. 
 Or you can keep the fritters and honey separate and cook them together just before you serve them. 
 Chremslich 
 3 large eggs 
 pinch of salt 
 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon or orange peel, OPTIONAL 
 1/4 cup sugar 
 3/4 cup matzo meal 
 vegetable oil for frying 
 1 pound honey, approximately 
 1/2 cup raisins, OPTIONAL 
 1/3 cup pignoli nuts (or use 1/2 cup chopped walnuts) 
 Separate the eggs. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, salt and one tablespoon vegetable oil together until well blended. Stir in the citrus peel, if used, and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the whites stand up in peaks. Fold the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the matzo meal. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. With cool, wet hands, shape portions of the mixture into disks about 1-1/2-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Fry the disks for 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and place the fried disks in a large saucepan. Pour the honey over the disks. Add the raisins, if used, and the nuts. Cook over low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until heated through and all the disks are coated with honey. Serve immediately or make ahead and reheat. Add more honey as tastes dictate. Makes 10-12 servings

Passover wouldn’t be right without Chremslich. My grandma’s soft, honey-drenched matzo fritters.

I can’t remember ever having a Seder without these. 

Some people eat chremslich for dessert but grandma always served them with the turkey, right alongside whatever vegetables there were. Like the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

There are hundreds of recipes for chremslich and I’ve tried many. But none measure up to the ones I’ve known since before I can even remember.

Except that my grandmother added broken walnuts to hers and my daughter Gillian is allergic to walnuts so I make mine with pignolis, to which my brother Jeff always says “it’s better with walnuts,” but it actually isn’t.

I have also included raisins, on occasion, just to see what it’s like. And once in a while, grated fresh orange peel. Although methinks that the orange peel, though delicious, might be a bit too nouvelle for some people.

Maybe.

Anyway, here’s grandma’s recipe. I hope this is one of those recipes that my kids make in years to come. I can’t imagine Passover without these.

Btw, you can make these days in advance and keep them in the honey — and add more honey because by then the fritters are soaked through. And they are just as good. Some would say even better.

Or you can keep the fritters and honey separate and cook them together just before you serve them.

Chremslich

3 large eggs

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon or orange peel, OPTIONAL

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup matzo meal

vegetable oil for frying

1 pound honey, approximately

1/2 cup raisins, OPTIONAL

1/3 cup pignoli nuts (or use 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)

Separate the eggs. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, salt and one tablespoon vegetable oil together until well blended. Stir in the citrus peel, if used, and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the whites stand up in peaks. Fold the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the matzo meal. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. With cool, wet hands, shape portions of the mixture into disks about 1-1/2-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Fry the disks for 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and place the fried disks in a large saucepan. Pour the honey over the disks. Add the raisins, if used, and the nuts. Cook over low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until heated through and all the disks are coated with honey. Serve immediately or make ahead and reheat. Add more honey as tastes dictate. Makes 10-12 servings

Matzo Balls

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Should Matzo Balls sink or float? 

I had a cousin who made the kind of matzo balls that sank. In fact, I would have bet that they also bounced. But her family loved them and it’s true, when it comes to matzo balls you either like the firm, rubbery cannonball type that sits at the bottom of the soup bowl or the soft, spongy, light-as-a-feather kind that floats on top.

Here’s the recipe we use. These make medium, slightly-firm, soup soaked delicious matzo balls. Perfect for Passover, which is only 11 days away! If you like matzo balls fluffier, cut down dough refrigeration time.

Matzo Balls

  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black or white pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley or dill, or both, optional
  • 4 whole large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted goose fat, chicken fat, margarine or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken soup, water or seltzer

In a bowl. combine the matzo meal, salt, pepper and parsley or dill (or both). In another bowl, beat the eggs and melted fat together. Add the egg mixture to the matzo mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in the liquid. Cover the ingredients and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. With wet cold hands shape the matzo mixture into balls 1/2-inch to 1-inch balls (you may have to re-wet hands occasionally). Add the matzo balls one by one to the boiling water. Lower the heat so that the water is at a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for at least 50 minutes (do not lift the cover) or until they are tender. Remove the matzo balls from the water. Place into the soup to soak up more flavor.

Makes up to 20

My Grandma's Award-winning Challah

My house is going to smell GREAT today! It’s Friday. The grandkids are coming for the weekend. That means challah with dinner, Challah French Toast in the morning.  There are few things that smell as good as a challah baking in the oven.  This challah recipe is from my father’s mother. Last year I had lunch with a long lost cousin on my father’s side who had been brought up by that grandmother (and grandfather). I hadn’t seen him in 40 years. We started to talk about his life with them and at some point got to the cooking and of course, the challah. He told me that grandma’s challah was legendary and that once, one of her challahs went up at auction for their synagogue and it raised $100. And that was in the 1930s! A fortune of money, but I guess the buyer knew how good that challah would be.  Grandma’s recipe, as handed down by my mother, had no instructions and the list of ingredients said stuff like “8 hands of flour” and “1/2 hand of sugar.”  It took several tries for me to work this out but I finally did get it right.   Here is the award-winning challah recipe:   Challah   2 packages active dry yeast 1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees; feels slightly warm to touch) 1/2 cup sugar 8 cups all-purpose flour, approximately 1 tablespoon salt 5 large eggs 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1–1/2 cups warm water (about 105 degrees) Poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional  In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly.  While the yeast is resting, place 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the 1-1/2 cups water. Mix, using the dough hook until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and blend in thoroughly. Knead for about 3-4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to make the dough smooth and soft, but not overly sticky.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Remove the dough to a floured surface.  Cut the dough into 3 or 6 pieces, depending on whether you are going to make a 3 or 6 strand braid. Make long strands out of each piece. Braid the strands and seal the ends together by pressing on the dough. Place the bread on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg. Brush the surface with some of the egg. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  While the dough is in the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the challah for about 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown.  Makes one large challah. You can cut the dough in half to make two smaller loaves (bake for about 22-25 minutes) or make a half recipe. (For half recipes you can use a food processor to make and knead the dough).

My house is going to smell GREAT today! It’s Friday. The grandkids are coming for the weekend. That means challah with dinner, Challah French Toast in the morning.

There are few things that smell as good as a challah baking in the oven.

This challah recipe is from my father’s mother. Last year I had lunch with a long lost cousin on my father’s side who had been brought up by that grandmother (and grandfather). I hadn’t seen him in 40 years. We started to talk about his life with them and at some point got to the cooking and of course, the challah. He told me that grandma’s challah was legendary and that once, one of her challahs went up at auction for their synagogue and it raised $100. And that was in the 1930s! A fortune of money, but I guess the buyer knew how good that challah would be.

Grandma’s recipe, as handed down by my mother, had no instructions and the list of ingredients said stuff like “8 hands of flour” and “1/2 hand of sugar.”

It took several tries for me to work this out but I finally did get it right. 

Here is the award-winning challah recipe:

Challah

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 105 degrees; feels slightly warm to touch)
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour, approximately
1 tablespoon salt
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1–1/2 cups warm water (about 105 degrees)
Poppy seeds or sesame seeds, optional

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of flour. Stir and set aside for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly.

While the yeast is resting, place 7-1/2 cups flour with the remaining sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook. Add 4 of the eggs, the vegetable oil and the 1-1/2 cups water. Mix, using the dough hook until well combined. Add the yeast mixture and blend in thoroughly. Knead for about 3-4 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to make the dough smooth and soft, but not overly sticky.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, cover the bowl and let rise again for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Remove the dough to a floured surface.

Cut the dough into 3 or 6 pieces, depending on whether you are going to make a 3 or 6 strand braid. Make long strands out of each piece. Braid the strands and seal the ends together by pressing on the dough. Place the bread on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Beat the last egg. Brush the surface with some of the egg. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the last rise, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the challah for about 30 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Makes one large challah. You can cut the dough in half to make two smaller loaves (bake for about 22-25 minutes) or make a half recipe. (For half recipes you can use a food processor to make and knead the dough).