Purim 2016 is Almost Here, Are You Ready?

Our calendar keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure! Purim is around the corner and for me, that does not just mean costumes, it means lots of cooking classes with Purim themes (see special events below), menus that are themed or different from my regular Shabbos menus, and lots and lots of homemade treats.

I’ve put together lots of ideas to help make it easy and delicious. Send me your menus too or homemade Shaloch Manot ideas to share.

New Recipes
Creamy Parsnip Soup with Pear and Walnuts
Moroccan Spiced Turkey
Lamb and Apricot Tagine with Almond Couscous
Thai Lemonade (coming next week)
Sticky Drunk Pears
Tiramisu Parfaits (coming next week)
Nutty Chocolate Toffee Bark
Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts

Trip to Israel

Israel, so much fun, and recipes and back stage with Chef Moshe Basson

Eggplant Dip in raw tahini and pomegranate syrup
Chicken Ma’aluba
Stuffed Figs

I’m back from an amazing week of inspiration, food and fun in Israel with Emunah. It’s hard to select the highlights because it was all so wonderful. From visiting the incredible people and places that Emunah works with (the list is beyond comprehension, children’s homes, crisis centers in Sderot, day care centers, High School for the arts, summer camps and more more more), to meeting with the highest ranking female in the IDF, to a street art tour in Tel Aviv, to COOKING with Chef Moshe Basson from Eucalyptus restaurant, and cooking with the girls at the Emunah children’s home, Achuzat Sarah. We sang and danced in the kitchen just like I do at home.

Cooking for and with special people is always so joyful for me. I loved the teens at Achuzat Sarah (see pics below). Their enthusiasm and positive energy was contagious and uplifting for our group. It’s hard to imagine that these girls come from such unfortunate circumstances. Their smiles and warmth tell the story of how happy they are at Achuzat Sarah.

A major highlight of the trip was our cooking demo with Chef Moshe Basson of Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, just outside the walls of the old city. Chef Moshe came to Israel in 1951 as an Iraqi refugee. He lived in a refugee camp for over 8 months with his family, and while others, understandably, complained of the mud, and awful conditions, Chef Moshe’s family, used their small spot to live to build a garden and house a chicken or two. From there, Chef Moshe came to Israel and worked the land, grew everything from herbs, vegetables, grapes, and anything he could possibly create seeds with and he had small farm with animals, like goats, chickens, and hens. Chef Moshe was way before his time, farm to table was and is his life. He teaches with love and passion about food and Torah. He tells where and how the ingredients are mentioned in the Torah and how they meaningful in our lives. It was an honor and privilege to teach with him and we thoroughly enjoyed working together. I highly recommend bringing a group to learn with him or visit the restaurant. Chef Moshe taught us Iraqi and Israeli delicacies from smoked eggplant, to lamb, chicken ma’aluba, stuffed figs, to tahini dessert. He loved my Americanized versions of everything too. We made a great team and had a great meal!

Thank you Achuzat Sarah

Thank you Achuzat Sarah (an Emunah children's home in Bnei Brak)for cooking a fantastic meal with me. The teens were energetic, fun, friendly and amazing to work with. And what an incredible staff they have. I can't wait to go back and cook and visit again soon.







Thank you to the incredible Chef Moshe Basson, Israel

Thank you to the incredible Chef Moshe Basson of Eucalyptus Restaurant and his incredible staff for an exciting and delicious event in Jerusalem. We cooked up an incredible feast using Ingredients from Israel like tamarind, hyssop, silan, pomegranates, tahini, eggplant and more. I'm still dreaming of the meal and the fun time we had. You must visit next time you are in Israel.















What is Tamarind anyway?


Chef Ottolenghi, famous for vegetarian dishes and one of many chefs making Israeli style food, so en-vogue today uses it in almost everything but still, what the heck is it? Chef Moshe Basson, from Eucalyptus loves it too. Says to add about 1 – 2 tablespoons to chutneys, meat marinades, curry dishes, and even cholent.

1. Tamarind is a type of tree, originally grown in Africa but today does well in tropical areas like South Asia and Mexico.
2. It’s a fruit with a closed pod. Upon opening it, there are a few seeds and a tart pulp inside.
3. It’s most commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.
4. Delicious in soups, stews, chutneys and marinades. Sweet but tart, and sometimes very sour, tamarind is potent. Tamarind imparts zingy undertones, and it makes for lively accompaniments -- sweet or savory -- to main courses. It’s also used in sweet desserts and dessert syrups.
5. It can tenderize meats. Tamarind's natural acidity makes it a great marinade for meat, because the acid can break down and tenderize tougher cuts. Fine Cooking recommends using a tamarind marinate as a great trick for less expensive cuts: "Marinated overnight in a tamarind-tinged liquid, beef becomes succulent and tender.”
6. Tamarind extract is one of the secret ingredients of Worcestershire sauce
7. Tamarind paste is usually in the International aisle, it has a hecksher on jars from Sefon and Sadaf, along with other companies.
8. Want to make your own? Here’s a step-by-step guide from Indianhealthyrecipes.com

Thank you – Kim’s “Chopped” party

Happy Birthday Kim! Kim's "Chopped" party was a blast. Thank you to Riki and Fran for inviting me to host the event and thank you to all of Kim's friends for making it so incredible. The ladies had a basket full of 4 secret ingredients, their challenge, prepare a delicious and nutritious salad with those ingredients and anything from the pantry. Ready, set, cook! They were creative and fun even with the trivia and sabotages I threw at them while they cooked.









A Day of Love

Celebrate the ones you love each and everyday by cooking and caring for them!


A home cooked meal says I want to take care of you.
A home cooked meal says I want to nourish you.
A home cooked meal says I care and I want you to be healthy.
A home cooked meal says I love you.
A home cooked meal is remembered forever.


As seen in CELEBRATE, page 2 (BTW, CELEBRATE makes a great Valentine’s Day Gift, especially if you want to eat well!)

Valentine’s Day or any day, CELEBRATE the ones you love by preparing delicious dishes they love.

Breakfast in bed for your sweetheart? These pancakes are our favorite! Add a little more milk or buttermilk and it’s a great crepe recipe too. Fill them with strawberries and cream, nutella, or any other delicious filling. And serve it with a Nespresso latte (A Nespresso machine is a good gift too). My dad always buys me a Starbucks card so that I can have a virtual coffee with him everyday for a few weeks after Valentine’s Day ☺ I love this!

Feel like making something decadent and special? Try the Fall off the Bone, 4-Hour Lamb or Lamb Shanks with Shallots and Cherries.

Or a cozy, rustic and hearty Fall Beef Stew

Or something dairy and lighter, Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese and a classic Caesar Salad.

Dessert…I love dessert especially when I share it with someone I love.
Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake or Molten Chocolate Cakes

Chocolate truffles, cookie dough truffles, or tons and tons of other truffles

Chili Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Stunning Red Velvet Treats of all kinds or from CELEBRATE, the red velvet pareve cheesecake brownies, extra yum.

Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

In most national US markets, so-called yams are often sweet potatoes. True yams, which are commonly grown in parts of Africa, are a totally different vegetable. While they resemble sweet potatoes and can be used interchangeably, yams are thicker skinned and more pale, and have more starchy flesh. The confusion dates back to the when enslaved Africans referred to native American sweet potatoes as nyami, a West African word for yam. The term stuck and most people do not usually know what they are actually buying.

There are thousands of varieties of sweet potatoes. They come in different sizes and color, both outside and inside and are mostly grown in the southern United States. I like the darker flesh and skinned sweet potatoes often found in 3 pound bags. Sweet potatoes in my opinion have a sweeter, lighter taste than yams. They can be used interchangeably but next time you are in the market, check and see where they are from or if they are actually a sweet potato or a yam.

Try sweet potatoes in these delicious dishes:

Coconut and Sweet Potato Bisque
Terrific Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Casserole with Granola Crumble
Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Salad
Sweet Potato Muffins

Winter Soups

I traveled to Chicago this week to teach and WOW, winter is on. Across the nation, cold weather has arrived. The west coast has more snow in the mountains and Los Angeles temperatures in the 50’s? In NY we have been spared a bit until now. My soup pots are out! It’s time for hearty, meal-in-a-bowl, delicious warm soups. Here are a few options that fit the bill.

Smoky Spanish Meatball Soup
Red Pepper, Corn and Black Bean Chowder
Alphabet Soup with Meatballs
Chicken Udon Soup

Perfectly Browned and Caramelized Onions


Caramelized onions are a great “secret” ingredient to have on hand. They lend their deep flavor to so many dishes, like roasted chicken or mashed potatoes or pizza. But also to stews, sandwiches, burgers and more. The secret to making them is patience. It can take awhile for the onions to become deeply browned. Covering the skillet at the beginning helps the onions to soften and release their liquid, then slowly cooking them uncovered makes them meltingly soft and sweet. Since caramelized onions stay well covered in the refrigerator for a week, and can even be frozen, you may want to make a double batch to keep some for an instant source of flavor to enhance weekday meals. If you do that, use a 12-inch skillet to accommodate the extra volume.

Caramelized Onions

Good to Know


Common problems and solutions that I think are "Good to Know"…. Let me know if you have others, I love to answer reader questions, email me at ekurtz@gourmetkoshercooking.com

Soup too salty?
Add two peeleded potatoes, cut in four or five large pieces. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes in soup. Remove potatoes, add more water to soup if necessary. Reserve potato for mashed potatoes or as a snack. The potatoes will draw out the saltiness.

Dish too spicy?
Add sour cream, non-dairy sour cream, any dairy product or product that acts like a dairy product, like soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, cook and stir into dish. Or add a bit of honey or sugar.

Burned your soup?
Submerge pot of soup into a larger bowl filled with cold water. Don’t mix! Let it sit for about 10 minutes and do not stir the soup. Leave the scorched part on the bottom and ladle out the soup from the middle of the pot. Rewarm and serve.

Bread is stale?
Make bread crumbs, croutons, or bread pudding. Or wrap it in damp towel and bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes. It will be ready to eat.

Preserved Lemons and Recipes

Preserved lemons add a salty zing to any dish, especially in tagines or soups. They are available in some markets, but its also easy to make your own. The only hard part is waiting 4 weeks for them to be ready to use.

Preserved Lemons

Use them in these recipes. They add zesty, salty, freshness.
Roast Chicken with Shallot and Meyer Lemon Sauce
Baby Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Spread
Add them to this tagine:
Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine