Category Archives: Traditional

Challah Kugel

Challah Kugel 


ואל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

It is written in Perkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers): Do not say, “When I have leisure time, I will study,” for you may never have leisure. (2:4)

According to the commentaries, this means that “one must consciously set aside time for study and spiritual growth.”

Now, I would not like to imply that blogging is on the same spiritual level as learning Torah.

But, with respect to blogging, I have extrapolated the above quote to mean: If I wait for things to calm down to blog, I will never blog.

As I shared in May, I am a big believer in the importance of rigorous self-care. As the primary caregiver for my family, I find blogging to be a fun and wonderfully creative outlet. Since blogging helps me cope, it’s time to post!

Challah kugel is a great way to use up leftover challah. Kugel in general is one of Yaffa’s favorite dishes, and this kugel in particular is especially yummy.

Challah Kugel

Ingredients:

16 oz challah

1 ½ cups water

1 ½  cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use apple or orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

4 eggs

1/2 – 1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons oil

Optional: ½ to 1 cup raisins, crushed pineapple or sliced apples

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah into small pieces into bowl. Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Variations: This recipe is really my basic formula for any sweet kugel. During Passover, I used crushed matzah instead of bread. To make it gluten free, I use rice, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

All the ingredients mixed in the pot.

 

In the pan, ready to bake.

Final outcome.

 

I consider this to be one of my signature kugel recipes. It is always a hit!

Enjoy!

 

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Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts 

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Every year we go to visit my sister for Chanukah. My sister, Raizel, is really a lot of fun. Aside from my mother, and my Aunt Perel (A”H), my sister is also one of the best cooks I know.

By training, Raizel is actually a chef. However, once she got married, she transferred her cooking skills to being a “Baal Chessed.” For those who may not already know, “chessed” translates as “loving kindness.” It is an action, as well as a character trait. So, if someone is a “Baal Chessed,” they are a charitable person who is constantly engaged in acts of kindness.  That is my sister, to a “T.”

In addition, my sister is also a Baal Hachnasat Orchim.”  “Hachnasat Orchim,” is the Hebrew word for “hospitality” or “welcoming guests.”  This mitzvah, in its purest form, consists of hosting and serving the needs of those who are destitute and have no place to eat or sleep.

My sister and her husband used to host up to 20 people per meal for Shabbat and holiday meals. All of their guests were treated to homemade, all natural, healthy, kosher food. Many of them  were people who genuinely needed a place to eat.

It was a delicate balancing act. Yet, my sister and her husband excelled at this mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), all while raising 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom are now married. One of my wonderful nieces, Eli, shared this recipe for doughnuts.

Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

Alternative: use water, coconut or nut milk instead

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

Alternative: use coconut oil or palm shortening instead

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoons salt

2 3/4 cup flour

Instructions:

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water. Add the milk (or substitute), butter, egg, sugar and salt. Blend this until its smooth.

Add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise, until the dough has doubled, about 1/2 – 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and roll out a half inch thick.

Using a cup or biscuit cutter (or even a dry empty can to cut out the doughnuts. If you want to make the doughnuts with the traditional hole in the middle, use a shot glass or similar sized object to cut out the holes. (The holes will later become doughnut holes)

Place these on cookie sheets and let them rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.

Heat oil in a pot, and then fry the doughnuts, approximately, 30 seconds on each side. Once the oil becomes hot, this process is very quick.

The trick is to have the oil hot, but not too hot. Our friend, Judith, said that in the days before there were thermometers, you knew the oil was hot enough when it would take 1 minute to cook a piece of bread. I thought that was a nice trick!

My sister simply put in one of the doughnut holes, and waited until it started to brown nicely.

Regulating the temperature correctly is critical to making doughnuts successfully. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn but the inside will be too raw. If that happens, bake the doughnuts in the oven so that they will cook nicely.

Remove from oil and place in pot of sugar syrup and coat on each side.

Sugar Glaze

The trick to making doughnuts taste completely awesome is to dip the doughnuts into the glaze right after they have been fried. Unfortunately, my sister is an intuitive cook, and she does not need to follow recipes. So, this an approximation of what she did.

Ingredients

Equal amounts of water and sugar, i.e. ½ water and ½ cup sugar.

Instructions:

To make a glaze using granulated sugar, place equal amounts of sugar and water to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.

If you want a thicker glaze, continue to cook the glaze and stir occasionally until it reduces to a thicker consistency, or add more sugar.

Once the doughnuts are cooked, quickly drop them into the simmering glaze, and turn to coat both sides and then remove and place on plate.

Decorate as desired.

Here are the pictures. My sister laughs at me that I need things explained so exactly. But, that is why I am writing this blog in the first place.  I am so grateful that I have her and my mother to learn from.

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First step.


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Kneaded into dough and read to rise.


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Cut into doughnut shape. The secret is to roll thin and use a good cookie cutter shape.


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First side cooking


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Flipping them over.


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Dipping into sugar glaze syrup.


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Final product. A work of art!

The final outcome was a work of art. The downside of doughnuts is that they are only good fresh. So, make sure you invite lots of people over to share them with you! You can tell them it’s a mitzvah.

My sister tells me that the reason why she is able to make these so well is that she is not afraid of making a mistake, and every year she keeps on trying to improve. So, now you know why she is not only an awesome cook, but an awesome person as well. She is truly our family tzedakis (righteous soul).

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Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways 

 

Cranberry Sauce 3 Ways  

 

Although Thanksgiving has passed, I still want to post my recipes from the holiday.

 

I seem to be having trouble with the formatting of my post, so I am afraid that my spacing of the paragraphs is off.

 

My mother in law (A’H) LOVED Thanksgiving. Nothing gave her more joy and a twinkle in her eye than this day.

 

She passed away on a Sunday after Thanksgiving when the girls were small. (I will not say how long ago as my mother in law was coy about her age.)We are convinced that she waited until after the holiday to celebrate one last time before leaving this world.

This year, we were fortunate to host my husband’s oldest sister and his nephew and his new wife joined us. (Readers may remember my posts on Sheva Brachot for them, https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/02/)

As we are aging, I appreciate these rare gatherings. Every celebration is a poignant opportunity to be cherished and savored.

This year, at my sister in law Hana’s request, we began our meal paying tribute to my mother in law, who loved this holiday so much. Everyone also shared what they were grateful for during this past year.

My gratitude was that everyone was such a good sport that the turkey took so long to cook. On Thanksgiving, I finally realized that an oven thermometer is critical to accurately gauge my oven’s temperature. My oven, it seems, is cooking challenged which contributes to my time challenges.

In my cooking frenzy, I made 3 different types of cranberry sauce.

I made my husband’s favorite traditional cranberry sauce, and 2 variations of cranberry relish.

Although these recipes are ubiquitous for Thanksgiving fare, I still wanted to post them here.


Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

 1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Optional: use orange juice instead of water

4 cups or 1 12-oz package fresh or frozen cranberries

Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

Instructions:

Rinse cranberries. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.Add cranberries. Return water to a boil and then gently simmer until the cranberries are cooked, and sauce is desired thickness.

Traditional Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Orange Relish With Or Without Ginger

Ingredients

12 ounces cranberries

1 cup white sugar

1 orange, quartered

Optional: grated fresh ginger, lemon zest

Instructions: 

Place sugar, cranberries and orange in food processor. Gently pulse until coarsely chopped and desired texture. Add grated ginger or lemon zest.

Here are the pictures:

Cranberry, orange and sugar, chopped in the food processor.

Here is the cranberry relish. Visually, it is hard to distinguish between the one with ginger or without.

They were all a hit. However, after our guests left, I took the cranberry relish and made a fruit torte. I have been wanting to post on that for a few weeks, but, I had to post this one first.

Enjoy!

 
 

Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

Taiglach or Honey Dough Balls

This year, I thought I would try to make taiglach for the first time with Raizel. 

The word “taiglach” is Yiddish for “little pieces of dough” which are cooked in honey. 

Growing up, this was a very special holiday treat that we only enjoyed on Sukkot. Taiglach are traditionally served on holidays which emphasize sweetness and joy. Some people have the custom of eating them on Purim as well.

I have very fond memories of eating taiglach in the sukkah as a child. I looked forward to them every year! 

Raizel was very excited to try this. 

I was excited that she was excited. 

Aside from Mommy time, making this also gave Raizel an opportunity to practice using her hands and develop her fine finger dexterity. 

Since my oven is still not working well, there was the added incentive that taiglach can be made on top of the stove. No oven required! So, it’s a win-win!

Dolly from koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com graciously made this recipe at my request. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until after I made the version below. Happily, our versions are slightly different. Experiment with which one you like best.

According to Dolly, her family made them with raisins and almonds and piled the taiglach up in a mound. However, growing up, our taiglach were made in a single layer and made without raisins or nuts. Instead, they were sprinkled with coconut.

Please check out her blog and wonderful explanation on this delicious treat.

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/silver-chair-polygamy-and-mount-sinai/

Ingredients

Dough

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons oil

About 1 ¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla

Syrup

1 cup honey. (I think that this is 1 lbs of honey, but I only had 12 oz so I added more sugar instead.)

1 ½ cups sugar.

2 teaspoons ginger

Optional: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons boiling water. This is critical, because otherwise the syrup will become too stiff and hard when it cools.

Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, blanched almonds or hazelnuts

Optional: ½ cup coarsely raisins or minced candied fruit.

Optional: shredded coconut to sprinkle as desired.

Instructions:

To make the dough: Combine the eggs, vanilla (if using) and oil together until smooth. Add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and the salt. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft, workable dough. If the dough is too dry, add a small amount of cold water. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. The dough should be soft, and not sticky.

Traditionally, the dough is divided into 4 and rolled into a rope until it is approximately .5 inches thick. Then the dough is cut into .5 inch pieces. Some people then tie them into loose knots and tuck the ends underneath. 

This dough, however, is very flexible. It can be cut into squares, or rolled into balls instead of twists. The pieces can even be baked or fried first for added crunch.

Since I am time challenged, I cut the dough into 36-40 pieces and then rolled them into balls. Some people like to add a few raisins inside the balls. Feel free to experiment. 

Syrup: Combine honey, sugar and spices in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil.

To assemble: Drop the pieces of dough into the syrup one at a time. Reduce the heat to low, and let them rise for 2 minutes. Cover and simmer for 15-30 minutes, without stirring. Then, stir the dough pieces occasionally so that all the pieces will cook evenly. Simmer (up to 45 minutes) until golden brown and the dough sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

Add boiling water and remove from heat. Spoon onto lined cookie sheet or pan in a single layer to cool. If desired, roll in chopped nuts or sprinkle with coconut. Pour some of the honey syrup over the taiglach if you would like them to stick together.

Save the rest of the sauce for a recipe that calls for honey. I am planning on using it to make chicken.

When cool, place in a sealed container. Do not refrigerate. 

The taiglach can remain at room temperature for several weeks, but hopefully they will be gone before then.

I was only able to take a few pictures:

A few left in the saucepan.

Raizel rolling them in nuts.

All done and ready to eat.

 

Raizel and Yaffa LOVED them!

I was particularly overjoyed when Raizel said, “the only reason why these taste so good is because we davened (prayed) while we made them.”

That was the first time that she validated my beliefs that prayer and love are critical to successful cooking!

It was “Yiddishe nachas!”  For those who may not know, Yiddishe nachas is a term which refers to the inner warmth and pride one feels when one observes the transmission from one generation to the next of one’s spiritual values and traditions.

True bliss on so many levels.

Enjoy!

 

 

Rosh Hashanah – Pressing the Reset Button on Life

Rosh Hashanah – Pressing the Reset Button on Life

roshhashanahshofar

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year begins tonight. It is a 2 day holiday, rich with symbolism and meaning.

On this blog, I like to highlight the Jewish holidays in order to provide a larger context for the role of food within the Jewish culture and religion.  Naturally, I am only speaking from a personal perspective, based on my own understanding. I am not an expert!

On Rosh Hashanah, we do “teshuva” for any of the mistakes that we made during the year.

The word “teshuva” which is commonly translated as “repentance” literally means “return.”

On this holiday, we have an opportunity to reset our spiritual connection to God. We identify and attempt to correct our mistakes, and reconnect and return our souls back to their original and pure connection of our Source — God.

The analogy that I like to use is the “factory reset button” on a cell phone. The function of the “factory reset button” is to return your cell phone to its original pristine condition when you first bought it. This function enables us to remove any software errors that one may have acquired over the lifetime and use of the phone. We have an opportunity to start with a clean slate.

So too with us.

On this holiday, we have an opportunity to repent and seek to repair any of our errors, misjudgments or miscalculations. Through the process of teshuva, on Rosh Hashana we return and reconnect to our inner essence which is created in God’s image. We have the opportunity to transform ourselves into better people.

Just for fun, I thought I would post this video in honor of this auspicious time of year. I had another one, but unfortunately, I do not seem to be able to upload it.😕


If anyone would like to read more of my thoughts on this holiday, I wrote something on my other blog, coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com.  Here is the link:

https://coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/elulfeeling-believing-knowing/

May we all be inscribed in the book of life and be granted a year filled with health, happiness and positive growth.

With blessings,

Carol & family.

rosh-hashanah

 

Passover Mandelbread  or Drop Cookies With Chocolate Chips

Although Passover is over, I still want to share some of the recipes that I made over the holiday. This way, I can keep track for next year.

This year, for the very first time, I experimented with making kosher for Passover mandelbread with chocolate chips. I also used the dough to make drop cookies as well. 

Mandelbread is a very traditional Jewish cookie similar to biscotti that I make during the year.

As I have shared, one of the culinary challenges of Passover is baking desserts without sacrificing taste and texture.

I usually try to stick to recipes that are specifically designed to be kosher for Passover. Especially when baking, I find that it is difficult to adapt recipes to be suitable for the holiday.

For many reasons, I also avoid cooking and baking with matzah meal. I find that matzah meal makes the texture dry and tastes unpleasant. 

So, I wanted to make mandelbread which is non-gebrokts (without matzah meal) and also gluten free. However, I couldn’t find a recipe to accommodate my specifications.

So, I broke some of my personal baking rules. I took my regular mandelbread recipe and adapted it for Passover. 

Instead of regular flour, I used almond flour and tapioca starch. I was not planning on initially adding the tapioca starch. But, the dough was too sticky and did not hold its shape without it.

Below is the recipe of how I made the cookies this year, together with my recommendations for how to improve the recipe for next year.

Ingredients 

1 orange

2 eggs

3/4 cups sugar

Recommendation: Can also make with only 1/2 cup sugar. 

1/2 cup oil

Next time, I might use 1/4 cup of oil as nuts have a higher fat content.

4 cups almond flour 

1/2 – 1 cup  tapioca starch (approximately to make the dough less sticky and able to be shaped)

With less oil, tapioca starch may not be necessary.

2 teaspoons baking power

1 cup chopped nuts (approximately, to make the dough less sticky and able to be shaped)

9 oz. chocolate chips

Instructions 

Using a food processor, pulse the whole orange until finely chopped. 

Add the sugar, eggs and oil and mix until smooth. 

Then add almond flour and baking powder and pulse until blended.

I found that the dough was too sticky, so I added the tapioca starch and chopped almonds.

Stir in 9 oz. of chocolate chips.

Bake in 350*F oven until lightly browned and firm to touch. 

Raizel loves “dot” cookies, which I rarely make. 

So, most of the batter was made as drop cookies. 

A much smaller amount was baked in a log like mandelbread. 

When cooked, I sliced the dough and baked them again in a 250*F oven until toasted.

Here are the pictures:

The cookie dough when fully mixed

Dough shaped as drop cookies

Drop cookies final product

The final product baked like mandelbread/biscotti

It actually turned out to be less time consuming to make drop cookies instead of mandelbread. And, I think the texture was better too.

It may be that with almond flour, the dough is less resilient? I also think that the texture might be better if the dough is chilled prior to baking.

Overall, the cookies were a hit. Raizel declared, “this is killer!” 

And, they are even being eaten after Passover!

Enjoy!

Charoset Two Ways

Charoset Two Ways

Passover is a time of year steeped in traditions. During this time of year, many people have recipes that are passed down through the family and only served during the holiday. Memories of certain foods thus become embedded in the memories of the Passover celebration.

Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that we eat during the Passover Seder. 

Charoset made by my mother is a work of art. I used to love to eat the leftovers the next day. Assuming, of course that anything was left! 

For Ashkenazi Jews (from Eastern Europe) charoset is traditionally made with apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon. Its color and texture are meant to recall the mortar that the Jews used during slavery to bond the bricks with each other. 

During the Seder, the charoset is eaten with the bitter herbs as a type of sandwich with matzah.

Apparently, it is now possible to buy charoset in a jar. However, I cannot imagine anything in a jar tasting as good as homemade. 

The date orange charoset was inspired from the comments by Dr. Jonathan in my  roasted chicken and hamentashen filling recipe. 

During our discussion, it occurred to me that the hamentashen filling, with extra nuts added would make a great charoset.

So, thank you Jonathan! 

Jonathan also has a wonderful blog on healthy lifestyles and nutrition. 

Please check out his blog:

 All About Healthy Choices

https://allabouthealthychoices.wordpress.com/about/

This year, I made our traditional charoset with apples, wine, cinnamon and roasted pecans. In addition, I also made charoset with dates, a whole orange, almonds, wine and cinnamon. 

All the measurements are flexible, as it depends on individual preferences

Traditional Charoset

Ingredients

2 apples, peeled and quartered

Optional: to make Feingold diet friendly, use pears instead.

¼ cup red wine (sweet is preferred)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup toasted pecans

Optional: sugar (I did not add any)

Instructions

Place apples and nuts in food processor. Pulse together until slightly chopped. Add cinnamon and wine and blend together until desired texture.

Date and Orange Charoset

Ingredients

1 cup pitted dates

1 orange: quartered, including the peel

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup toasted almonds

¼ cup red wine (sweet is preferred)

Instructions

Place dates and nuts in food processor. Pulse together until slightly chopped. Add cinnamon and wine and blend together until desired texture.

This is my only picture:

Date Orange Charoset


 

There is none left of the traditional charoset with apples and pecans left to photograph.

Overall, they were both a success!

Enjoy!