Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2014

ONLY A FEW SEATS LEFT! DON’T WAIT, GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY! Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2014! Limited Time only coupon, use code GKC20 at checkout for $20 off each ticket. Get them at Come drink the best and newest bottles of wine and eat and chat with chefs from your favorite restaurants and experience food and have a great time together. I’d love to see you!

Now in its 8th year, the Kosher Food & Wine Experience (or KFWE) has grown to be the destination for wine lovers and foodies, that means me! And btw, who is coming with me? For those not familiar with KFWE, this is the premier kosher food and wine show with events in NY, LA, London and most recently Miami which was a tremendous success and drew over 600 people in its inaugural year!

Each year, Kosher Food and Wine Experience, adds something new and exciting and this year they went really big! New this year is the addition of a luxury yacht, which will be docked at Pier 60. The Hornblower Hybrid, one of New York’s most modern yachts features two floors and will dazzle with a Dessert Pavilion featuring the largest variety of delectable sweets KFWE has ever offered, a complete selection of dessert wines and an expanded mixology bar! Mixed drinks are a huge food trend and GKC readers love them too.

The yacht will also have a lounge area, where people can relax and take a break. The yacht will remain docked at Pier 60 for duration of the show and guests are welcome to come and go between the two areas as they please throughout the evening. With such an array of wine and food, KFWE is a great opportunity to discover a great new wine, fun new restaurant or just have a magical night out. KFWE NY is set for February 24, 2014 at 6:30pm at Pier 60 – Chelsea Piers, NYC. If all that wasn’t enough, a special promotional code is available for Gourmet Kosher Cooking readers, $20 off the ticket price. Use promo code GKC20 at checkout, but don’t wait, this code is only available for a limited time!

Tickets are only available online and will not be sold at the door. To buy tickets or for more information on New York or any of the other KFWE shows, please visit

Chili Powder vs. Chile Powder

Chili powder with an “I” is not the same as chile powder with and “e”. Chili powder is usually a blend of ground mild dried chiles and spices like cumin, pepper, and salt (Hot chili powder contains cayenne, too.). They are lighter in color since they are a blend of spices. Pure chile powders are ground solely from a specific kind of chile with no additional ingredients. They are reddish in color and have a strong flavor profile. I use chili powder as the backbone spice of my chili, while pure chile powders let me add exactly the additional kind of chile flavor and heat that I want. You can find pure chile powders at most supermarkets, ranging from the moderately hot pasilla, ancho and smoked, to the much hotter chipotle and cayenne. Aside from heat, you will find chile powders have different degrees of smoky and fruity flavors. The best way to get to know their flavors is to cook with them.

Here are a few chili recipes to help you get to know your chile powder varieties. Feel free to experience and substitute different types of chili powder in these recipes. Remember though the pure chile powders add a bit of heat so add them slowly and taste the terrific results!

Chicken and White Bean Chili
Chili with Assorted Chile Powder and Meat
Black Bean Chili
Mexican Chili
Traditional Chili With Meat
Vegetarian Chili
And lots of great recipes with Chili Powder here
Don’t forget to make the Chili Chocolate Covered Strawberries!

Ramen Noodles

Ramen Noodles are all the rage this year. They are not just for dorm room cooking and are showing up in top notch restaurants as well as personal chef menus. Full blown restaurants devoted to ramen and noodles called, Noodle shops are also big sensations. My favorites though are the pop-up places and food trucks nationwide with ramen menu items. I just wish they were all kosher. So inspired by the ramen rage, this week, I’m including a few salad and main dish favorites that feature ramen noodles. They add crunch and saltiness to everything and cook up in just a minute or two. Try them, you will love them, and soon will stock them in your pantry all year long.

Spinach and Romaine Salad with Strawberries and Ramen Crunch
Crunchy Asian Salad with Ramen Noodles
Broccoli Slaw
Beef and Broccoli with Ramen Noodles

What’s wrong with my cookies? Troubleshooting Cookie Chart

Assorted Cookies
I get lots and lots of questions about baking issues. There is nothing more frustrating than putting in effort to bake something and it doesn’t turn out as you expected. Today we will tackle cookie baking issues. I’ve created a chart to help with all the possible causes of the misbehaving cookies. Just look on the left side for the problem and then the right side for potential solution. Always make sure your oven is calibrated correctly and keep a thermometer inside the oven to double check the cooking temperature accuracy.

Also, I thought it might help to know what the essential cookie ingredients do in the baking process:
Butter/margarine – The more butter that is in the cookie the crispier it is, so if you like a puffy cookie, use a lower butter ratio recipe.
Flour – Also, impacts how a cookie spreads. Only use all-purpose flour in cookies (high-gluten flour and cake flour do not let the cookies spread well enough)
Baking Powder and Baking Soda – Both are leavening agents. Baking soda helps the browning process.
Sugar – Sweetens and thins cookies because sugar melts in the oven. White sugar makes thinner cookies than brown sugar or honey. Brown sugar cookies maintain moisture after baking and tend to be chewier and white sugar cookies are crispier.
Eggs – Binding

Find lots of great cookie recipes here. Or try some of my favorites Ballpark Cookies, Chunky Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies or Minda’s Best Biscotti.


Cooking Inspired

Feeling uninspired in the kitchen? Worry no more because, Estee Kafra, creator of and former editor of Binah magazine and Kosher Inspired for Mispacha magazine, is back with another great book that will bring your creativity and enthusiasm back to your home.  COOKING INSPIRED is filled hundreds of recipes, gorgeous photos, gluten-free and Passover recipes and conversions, and great tips and tricks for everyone.  Maybe best of all, the book includes tons of recipes that are easy to prepare and beautiful to present.  Estee is a seasoned cook and a busy mom, and all of her recipes have clear and simple instructions and are the types of recipes that you are looking for.  From kugels to salads, to roasts and lots of “counter cakes” as she calls them (you know that cake that sits on the counter, egging you on to try it, taste it, and then serve it to all of your guests), it’s full of ideas and new flavors.

I tried lots of recipes from this book, Citrus Cornish Hens, Maple Roast (yum and super quick), and my favorite, Preserved Lemon and Olive Roast Chicken.  I loved the tangy sweetness of the preserved lemons mixed with he wine and sun-dried tomatoes.  Estee uses both common and less common ingredients to keep things inspired in the kitchen.

Estee is a GKC and personal friend and she answered a few of our pressing questions this week.

GKC: Do you have a favorite section of the book or a favorite recipe?
Estee: Thats a bit like asking “do you have a favorite child”   I think i would choose the “counter cake” section, as these  are recipes i really make on a regular basis, and they take turns  on my counter…but i like the originality of the appetizer section as well.

GKC: People love your other books, how is this one different and what was your inspiration?
Estee: My inspiration is this amazing world we live in, and that is exactly what sets this book apart.  It’s based upon the many aspects of our lives that inspire us to be better cooks and better people.

GKC: Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget ?
Estee: I love my microplane zester.  There  is almost nothing that cannot be improved by some lemon zest.

GKC: Any secret pantry ingredient you love?
Estee: I am huge fan of ginger, but my husband isn’t….so i use it sparingly.

GKC: What’s your go-to shabbos recipe?
Estee: I have been making the maple roast from page 210 for weeks now, and none seems to be getting tired of it yet. I added butternut squash to the bottom of the pot this week.  It was amazing!

Thanks Estee for sharing your thoughts.  Try these sneak peak recipes,
Vanilla Bean Apple Bundt Cake and
Asian Pasta Salad with Vegetables.  Go get Cooking Inspired today!

Buy one today at for just $27.99 or submit to win one on GKC.

Meyer Lemons

Last week on my regular Costco run, strawberries, romaine, green beans….I was elated to find a bright, fragrant and beautiful package of Meyer lemons. I always forget that October through May is their peak season and a great time to enjoy their super sweet goodness.

Thought to be a cross between an orange and a lemon, Meyer lemons are rounder and smoother-skinned than regular lemons, with a color that’s more bright yellow. As lemons go, these are especially sweet and perfumy, so when you see them at the market, pounce. Their juice tastes great in any recipe in which you’d use regular lemon juice, and their zest is especially delicious in cakes and scones.

I have included a few recipes but in addition, I highly recommend using their zest and juice in any recipe, from salad dressings, to spreads, to desserts, and even on roasted vegetables. They add freshness, sweetness, and a great burst of flavor.

Here are three tips:
Spread it: Add a generous squeeze of Meyer lemon juice and a minced clove of garlic to mayonnaise for gefilte fish or grilled chicken sandwiches.

Grate it: 
Combine the freshly grated peel of one Meyer lemon with one minced clove of garlic, a handful of chopped parsley, and toasted bread crumbs. Use a spoonful of the mixture, called gremolata, to perk up braised meat or veal stews or atop roasted asparagus or broccoli.

Roast it: 
Add wedges of Meyer lemons alongside wedges of potatoes in the roasting pan. Also, alongside simple roasted chicken. Make sure you squeeze the roasted juice over the potatoes or chicken before you serve them

Meyer Lemon and Coconut Shortbread Bars
Baby Lamb Chops with Minted Meyer Lemon Spread
Roast Chicken with Shallot and Meyer Lemon Sauce

Healthy Cooking

Chanukah and Thanksgiving tend to run our schedules and our diets on overdrive. I think the most commonly searched recipes in the last few days were anything with the word “light” in front of it. I like to cook light but have been focusing more on healthy than light. Healthy food is filling, full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and great taste. Light recipes often use artificial flavorings like splenda to keep them sweet. So in an effort to improve overall health and still enjoy all of our food including dessert, I came up with a challenge, change one ingredient that will improve health and maintain the same great taste of a dish. You won’t believe the results! Seriously good food, no hint of anything missing, and improved health…now, you cannot beat that! Don’t forget to send me all your great one-fix substitutions so I can share them with everyone. And stay tuned next week for another great ingredient swap!

Pumpkin Bread with Sweetened Bananas
Chocolate Avocado Brownies

More Thanksgivvukah Recipes, See them All!


Spinach Salad with Persimmons
Sweet Potato Latke
Curried Leftover Turkey Salad
Quick Thai Pumpkin Soup

Main Dish

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Roast Turkey with Chestnut-Apple Stuffing
Classic Roast Turkey
Apple Brined Turkey
Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika
Perfect Roast Turkey
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Pareve Ricotta Cheese and Olives with Balsamic Glaze
Fall Stew
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
Perfect Roast Turkey

Side Dish

Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Leeks
Mashed Potatoes with Wasabi
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger
Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Green Bean Almondine
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Cranberry Pear Relish
Pumpkin Pilaf
Sweet Potato Coconut Crumble
Special Spice Cranberry Relish
Butternut Squash Stuffin Muffins
Baby Winter Squash with Spiced Orange-Currant Stuffing
Roast Turkey with Chestnut-Apple Stuffing
Roasted Turkey Roulade with Sausage Stuffing
Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika
Sausage and Apple Kosher Stuffing
Stuffed Chicken with Turkey and Apple-Cranberry Sausage Stuffing
Turkey Pie with Cranberry Thyme Crust
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Ginger
Citrus Cranberry Sauce
Orange Maple Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Chutney
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Leeks
Mashed Potatoes with Wasabi
Marilyn’s Stuffing
Provencal Potato Gratin
Pumpkin Pilaf
Smashed Potatoes with Pareve Sour Cream and Chives
Spanish Rice
Special Spice Cranberry Relish
Wild Rice with Roasted Grapes, Pecans and Sage
Lots of Stuffing Recipes here, Lots of Cranberry Sauces here, Potatoes everyway you can think of here

Recipe by Paula Shoyer, author of The Holiday Kosher Baker
Pumpkin Doughnuts and Almond and Olive Oil Cake
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Bread Stuffed with Cream Cheese
Easiest Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Bread
Cranberry Apple Sauce
Doughnut Bread Pudding
Olive Oil Cake
Lemon Bars with Cranberries
Pecan Pie Bars
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Pecan Streusel
Apple Blueberry Pie
Apple Pie with Cranberries
Best Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Pecan Pie Bars
Lemon Bars with Cranberries
Olive Oil Cake
Roasted Cranberry Pear Relish
Sweet Potato Coconut Crumble
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Cranberry Macadamia Nut Stuffing
Cranberry-Pistachio Paté
Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread Stuffed with Cream Cheese
Pumpkin Doughnuts
Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Pecan Streusel
Spicy Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze


thanksgivukkahThanksgivvukah, have you heard of it? For those of you who are still in the dark (there is already a facebook and twitter account for Thanksgivvukah, t-shirts for sale in NYC, and lots of time off for the kids), it’s Thursday, November 28, 2013, when for the first time in my lifetime, maybe ever, the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the same night. How fun is that? All those thanks can be directed to family, friends and also to the Maccabees. I’m ecstatic about it. It means one great meal and party and lots of happy people together. In the Thanksgivvukah spirit, I wanted to share recipes that combine fabulous fall flavors plus Hanukah and Thanksgiving.

Gotta Make Latkes
Sweet Potato Latke

Main Dish

Classic Roast Turkey
Apple Brined Turkey
Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika
Coffee Flavored Turkey
Perfect Roast Turkey

Side Dish

Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Green Bean Almondine
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Cranberry Pear Relish
Pumpkin Pilaf
Sweet Potato Coconut Crumble
Special Spice Cranberry Relish
Butternut Squash Stuffin Muffins
Lots of Stuffing Recipes here, Lots of Cranberry Sauces here, Potatoes everyway you can think of here

Cranberry Apple Sauce
Doughnut Bread Pudding
Olive Oil Cake
Lemon Bars with Cranberries
Pecan Pie Bars
Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes
Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Pecan Streusel

Kosherfest 2013

Bigger again, and I’d say better than ever.  Thousands of people and hundreds of vendors flooded the Meadowlands Expo Center last week for Kosherfest 2013.  I was there to taste, to test, to visit with all of our favorite kosher vendors.  So here is what was new and what I found most memorable at Kosherfest 2013.

First stop was visiting friends at Royal Wine (that’s Kedem too) and I loved starting my day with a L’chaim and then their new Kedem Fresh Grape juice.  Packaged like fresh squeezed orange juice, Kedem Fresh is the freshest tasting grape juice that has no added sugar.  It’s gorgeously purple, refreshing and a great, healthier alternative.

Next from Mikee, a new NON-DAIRY Mac and cheese, that will change your life. Really people, this is unbelievable.  Same color, same taste, no hydrogenated oils or ultra garbage ingredients, just real Mac and cheese tasting goodness. Okay, it’s not gourmet but its mom’s want in a pinch. Watch your local market for this product; I think they were buying it off the Mikee display.  I also liked their new pareve Ranch salad dressing. I tasted a few that day and this one tastes like, and looks like Ranch dressing, just pareve and also without hydrogenated oils.
Next to fleish options.  Jack’s Gourmet is always a big hit with me.  His booth was swamped with people tasting and oohing and aahing over his latest creations and all the yummy food Susie Fishbein was demoing.  I can’t wait to taste his new “Facon Burger” (you know I use the “Facon” strips all the time and love them).  He served an awesome Italian Sausage burger, ground up, browned and with some basic tomato sauce and spices.  These burgers will enhance everything from a baked potato, a soup, a chili, a stuffing, crumbled on salad or even just as a burger.  Congratulations Jack’s Gourmet on another year of great new products.
Matt’s Munchies (we love them and buy them buy the 25 pack in our house) won the Kosherfest award for best snack food. For those of you who have not discovered these little gems, your snack options are about to improve! All natural, gluten free, less than 100 calories and delicious, fruit leather squares that come in amazing flavors.  We love Island Mango and choco nana best, but try them all!

Newcomer, Summit Point Farms had some great items.  Packaged in small containers his BBQ Beans, are sweet and zesty, and filled with smoky brisket.  Check your local market’s refrigerated section for this great item.  Their Hickory Smoke BBQ brisket, fully cooked and packaged in 1 lb. packages is going to be your go-to take out item.  Slow braised and super soft and flavorful, this product is going to sell well.  Kosherfest judges thought so too, and awarded them with the best New Product Award.

Our friends at Osem are doing amazing things with their products.  First, you asked and they listened…they removed all MSG from their soup and seasoning mixes, YES! That means their broths have no MSG and additional additives that we all try to avoid.  Two cheers for this excellent improvement and serious edge over all the other brands.   They also changed their packaging to reflect gorgeous images of scenes in Israel with information about those destinations on the back of the boxes.  Not only is their matzo tasty, but now educational and inspiring too.  Their flatbreads taste great, and their Israeli couscous comes in bigger sizes, which makes those of us who make large quantities of it, really happy.  More, yes there is more.  Customers asked for it and they made it.  An all natural dairy Mac and cheese called Twist and Cheese.  Looks and tastes like the other stuff but wow! Real cheddar.  Way to go Osem.

Pereg, my favorite spice company, is now introducing a new product, quinoa pasta.  I can’t wait to tell you about it in more detail in upcoming blogs. But this is awesome news for anyone who is gluten sensitive or just looking for lower carb options.  Even better, its lower in calories and still has that pasta feel to it.

This year a few new drinks were highlights at Kosherfest.  Real bottled ginger ale, Bruce Cost’s Unfiltered Ginger Ale original and flavored is unique and a great new product to try.  It’s full of real ginger taste and great packaging.  You have to find this all-natural drink bottled in Brooklyn and discover an all-new way to drink Ginger Ale. Frava, another new concept drink, is a natural juice with caffeine, and the company has a great story.  Three college friends in need of a caffeine boost for study time, were unsatisfied with the warmth of coffee, the absence of energy from regular juice and the taste and questionable content of energy drinks so they used their entrepreneurial brains and created Frava, a combination of natural juice, caffeine and vitamins. Cool concept and tastes like sweet juice. I think both drinks will be hot this year.

I love lemonade (did you see my video on homemade lemonade?), and Pulse Beverage Company, a newcomer to Kosherfest showcased Cabana, natural lemonade in great flavors. It’s Lemony, sweet, and full of natural color.  I loved the strawberry lemonade and the Island Mango flavors.

If you want even more great products from Kosherfest, email me, at and I’ll share more, more, more.

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs


My health conscious teens have become obsessed with fresh hard-boiled eggs. Warm and slightly salted is their favorite way to eat the whites but I’m finding them in their salads, and mashed up with a little spinach, garlic and mayo too. The yolks seem to end up in the garbage but I often rescue them for a good egg salad dish. In addition to buying about 5 dozen eggs a week now, I have mastered the perfect hard-boiled egg technique. We detest the ugly gray film that can sometimes form around the yolk of an overcooked egg. And the perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg really does have better flavor than the over boiled variety. So here is my GKC lesson on BEST HARD-BOILED eggs and then a funny tip on how to get the shell off.

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs:
Place 6 eggs (fyi, older eggs peel easier), in a medium heavy saucepan. Add water to cover by about 1 ½ inches. I salt the water. Bring to a boil, and then IMMEDIATELY, remove from the heat. Cover and let stand, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Gently crack the eggs and peel under running water to release the membrane and get the shell off.

Now, here is my crazy peeling tip. Crack a line around the middle of the egg with the edge of a spoon. Turn the spoon over so the bottom is facing up and insert the tip into the cracked shell, taking care to get under the membrane. Rotate the egg, keeping the spoon under the shell. The spoon breaks the suction and the entire shell pops right off. It works best when the egg is warm. We have contests in the house for who can do it with the least number of cracks or shell breaks. Try it, it really works!

Joy of Kosher

Just in time for Hanukkah, Jamie Geller, best-selling author and GKC friend, is back with a new book that you will love.  Joy of Kosher, Fast, Fresh, Family Meals is filled with gorgeous (so gorgeous!) pictures, and tons of recipes that will go from weekday to weekend.  With her fun flair and great style, Jamie makes everything look easy and delicious.

The book is filled with tips and ideas on how to dress up a dish for Shabbos or dress it down for a terrific quick dinner.  Recipes like Crystal Clear Chicken Soup with Julienned Vegetables and Angel Hair (Dress It Down: Chicken Noodle Alphabet Soup), Garlic Honey Brisket (Dress It Down: Honey Brisket Pita Pockets
), Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese (Dress It Down: Mac and Cheese Muffin Cups)
, and Gooey Chocolate Cherry Cake (Dress It Up: Red Wine Chocolate Cherry Heart Cake). Plus, Jamie offers a whole chapter on the art of making challah, 10 sweet and savory recipes, holiday menus, and a special Passover section.  See the sneak peak recipes at the end of this post.

I love the introduction too.  We get to meet Jamie’s adorable family in photos and see them all at work and play in their home.  Jamie is candid and funny about her life in food and how she has grown from the “bride who knew nothing” to as I call her, the “girl who uses saffron and sumac”.  That’s a lot of progress.

As Jamie says, “This book is for busy parents who want to make tasty food without a lot of fuss and who want to entertain without slaving in the kitchen and always elicit a lot of oohs and aahs.”  I think that makes it for just about everyone!

GKC got to speak with Jamie this week and she even squeezed in some time for some of our pressing questions.  Here is what she had to say.

GKC: What’s your favorite kitchen tool? Least favorite?
Jamie: Tongs – they are an extension of my arm!  Tied with my Wusthof 8-inch Chef’s Knife, also an extension of my arm.   2nd Most Favorite: Dutch Oven – feels homey and “professional” all at the same time.  Anyone that has a Dutch oven is serious (about cooking, or has some serious cash!) and knows what they are doing.  (Well at least that’s what I like to tell myself).  But I really love it because mine is RED – my fave color (after black and white – which are colors to me!). Sorry Elizabeth I know you asked for just one but I can’t help myself.  Least Favorite: My stand mixer.  In truth I absolutely adore it.  I have been known to hug it.  But right now it’s my nemesis because in my new Israeli kitchen I don’t have very much counter space so it lives on top of my fridge – and is such a production to pull down and plug in (to a 10 pound transformer!).  But once it’s doing its thing it falls into my most favorite kitchen tool category.

GKC: Any pantry items you can’t live without?
Jamie: Olive oil.  I live for olive oil, literally.  I don’t measure it (unless I am writing a recipe) I think it’s sacrilegious – as there is almost no such thing as too much good quality, extra virgin, cold pressed, fruity, rich, olive oil.

GKC: What’s your go to dinner?
Jamie: Duck Sauce Chicken with Herb Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes from my first book, Quick & Kosher Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing.  This old habit just won’t die.

GKC: Wow, from the “Bride Who Knew Nothing” to a foodie who uses sumac and saffron, what’s your best advice for someone new to preparing meals?
Jamie: Don’t overdo things.  Start slow, don’t stress and cook with a smile.  Simple can taste good – really, really, really good.  Trust me! I have both built a career and feed my family around this very concept.

And just for GKC this week, a few of Jamie’s recipes from Joy of Kosher.  Garlic Honey Brisket (Dress it Up) and Honey Brisket Pita Pockets (Dress it Down).  AND…WOW! Gooey Chocolate Cherry Cake (super rich and delicious, with a hint of the cherry chunks running through it) and Dress it Down, Red Wine Chocolate Cherry Cake.  Thanks Jamie!

I made the Cilantro Corn Cakes (filled with my favorites like, cumin, corn, cilantro and lime) and the Stuffed Baked Onions (yum, stuffing with cranberry and challah and nutty crunch).  Both are easy, beautiful and just my kind of food.

Joy of Kosher is available in bookstores nationwide including Barnes & Noble, Amazon (just $18 on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble), and Jewish bookstores everywhere. GKC has one to giveaway so SUBMIT to win one too.

Q & A with GKC

This week it’s Q and A time. I love hearing from you and sometimes your great questions get posted but only the person who asked it, ever really sees the answer. So this week, I’m answering a few of your questions that I thought you might all be interested in.

Question: “ How should I store tomatoes? I heard they should not be refrigerated.”
GKC: Usually refrigeration extends the life of most fruits and vegetables, some produce like bananas and tomatoes can succumb to what is known as “chill injury” (btw, I get that in the winter in NY too J

Ripe tomatoes actually lose flavor in the refrigerator. For the most flavor and longest shelf life, store tomatoes at about 55 degrees (maybe in a wine fridge, or in a drawer in the regular refrigerator with independent temperature control). For those of you like me who do not have that swanky fridge, store them room temperature and use them within 4 days.

Question: “Can you ripen under ripe fruit in a paper bag?”
GKC: Funny but the paper bag method only works with fall and winter fruits that store starch like apples, pears, bananas, mangos (okay, one summer option), and kiwis. At home, you can increase the sweetness of these unripe fruits by putting them in a paper bag with a piece of already ripe fruit. Sorry, doesn’t work for summer fruits, just buy them almost ripe.

Question: “I have a new refrigerator with a “crisper drawer”, what is this and how does it work?”
GKC: I love this question because I also have many appliances that I am not sure how to use all the components so I’m thrilled to demystify this cool feature. Fresh fruits and vegetables are crisp because their cells contain a lot of water. Losing even 5% of this can make things like lettuce wilt. The crisper drawer is designed to retain moisture (not just chill). They do this with vent levers and dials to adjust humidity and air flow. For the crispest vegetables, especially leafy ones keep the vent 1/3 to ½ open, which will ensure a humid environment and still allow some ventilation. For crisp fruit, keep the vent closed to minimize the amount of oxygen that flows into the compartment. Strange but ripe fruit breathes on a cellular level so closing it, slows down respiration and increases storage life of the fruit.

Question: “So many cake recipes call for buttermilk, what can I substitute for that?”
GKC: For every ½ cup of buttermilk, I use ½ cup non-dairy milk or soymilk PLUS 1 tablespoon white vinegar. This really works well and I do it all the time.

Sukkah Hill Spirits Etrog Liqueur

etrog liqueur web image
I love it when someone’s innate talents and passions becomes a terrific business. That’s exactly what happened to friends Marni and Howard Witkin from Los Angeles. Marni, a talented cook and Howard an accomplished computer science and math guy (with two successful companies), year after year collected estrogim from friends in the neighborhood and whipped up a batch of their homemade Estrog Liqueur to share with others. It was just something fun to do with their estrogim. People loved it and begged for more, including a local market owner in LA who said, “If you bottle this, I’ll sell every one of them!” So that’s what they did. And thus Sukkah Hill Spirits was created and the first Etrog hand-crafted artisanal liqueur is now available from Vendome Wines and Spirits and soon in stores throughout the United States. BTW, it’s the only Etrog Liqueur available too.

Lucky for me, I got to speak to Marni and Howard about this new venture. And I got to taste it too! Wow! Fresh, flavorful, smooth, a hint of sweet, and definitely alcoholic (38% alcohol). I can’t wait for you to taste it too. Here’s what Sukkah Hill Spirits shared…

etrog blossoms
GKC: Where do you get your estrogim?
Sukkah Hill Spirits: This started with estrogim from friends in the neighborhood but as we became a real spirits manufacturer, we became expert estrog buyers, purchasing numerous varieties of estrogim, sweet, tangy and juicy.

GKC: How is Etrog Liqueur different from Citron vodka or Limoncello? Can I cook with it?
Sukkah Hill Spirits: The drinks are similar because they are both citrus drinks but also quite different. Our liqueur is made with Etrog not lemon. Just as an orange and a lemon are both citrus but have very different flavors, etrog has its own unique flavor and aroma. The etrog’s aroma is so wonderful, it is traditionally considered to be the aroma of Gan Eden itself. Our Etrog Liqueur is a clear, high proof aromatic sweet spirit. Lemoncellos are lower proof and sweeter and thicker/heavier. A citron Vodka is an unsweetened alcohol/vodka with a generally slightly bitter bite. And yes, you can cook with it.

GKC: I added it to a marinade and it tenderized a roast perfectly and gave my lemon mousse a great kick!

GKC: How do you make this incredible liqueur?
Sukkah Hill Spirits: We start with a mix of etrogim. Each variety brings a different quality to the drink. We have a proprietary extraction method (all natural) for getting the flavor from the fruit, followed by sweetening and getting the proof just right, It is tasted repeatedly 🙂 for quality and bottled and labeled according to each batch. It is completely handmade in small batches of just about 500 bottles per barrel.

etrog liqueur goes home
GKC: What’s your favorite way to drink it?
Sukkah Hill Spirits: Marni likes to mix it with rosemary, lime, sugar and gin. Others rave about it poured over ice cream or in a hot cup of tea. Howard likes it on the rocks with Templeton Rye.

GKC: My two cents is muddle fresh lime, add etrog liqueur, a splash of vanilla vodka and lemonade. We had it in the succah (I called it lemon lime etrog lemonade for adults J

GKC: So what’s next? Did I mention they recently won awards for top artisanal fruit liqueur?
Sukkah Hill Spirits: BESAMIM liqueur. It’s already being bottled and is ready to be sold. We won top awards for this flavor too! Think havdalah spices in a liqueur.

Now I have got to try that too! Thanks Marni and Howard for sharing this fantastic new spirit with GKC. Check out Sukkah Hill Spirits online or on facebook and try some. Get it Vendome Wines and Spirits or ask your local wine store to carry it. And don’t forget to submit to win a bottle too!

2013 Yom Tov Menu Ideas

So many recipe ideas, but what are you going to make? Here are some GKC menu ideas that I hope will simplify your holiday preparations. I’m a list maker for everything and somehow, once I get it all on paper I already feel like I’ve started.

Yom Tov Menu Ideas:
Asian Spiced and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Pickled Salmon with Sweet Dill Sauce
Sweet and Smoky Ribs
Balsamic Glazed Carrots
Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Mash
Apple Pie Bars

Day Meal:
Chilled Curry Mango Soup
Mixed Greens with Grapefruit and Pomegranate Salad
Wine Braised Lamb with Dried Fruit
Couscous with Lemon and Dried Fruit
Summer Corn and Tomato Salad
Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies
Open Faced Plum Tart

Nighttime Dairy Meal:
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Salmon
Caramelized Onion and Boursin Cheese Pizza
Roasted Broccoli with Seasoned Crumbs
Caesar Salad
Individual Banana Betty

Nighttime Meat Meal:
Red Lentil and Apricot Soup
Salmon Pinwheels
Mango Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing
Prime Rib with Cabernet Juice
Zucchini with Tomato and Basil
Couscous with Lemon and Dried Fruit
Apple Cranberry Turnovers

And last year we suggested these:
Rosh Hashanah Salad
Roasted Asparagus
Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine
White House Honey Cupcake
more recipes from last year

Choosing, Cutting and Storing Pomegranates


Last year the LA Times ran this article and my friend Sabina saved it to share for Rosh Hashannah. It seemed timely, obviously with Rosh Hashannah around the corner. We are all buying pomegranates this time of year but more often all year long. I hope these tips help all year.

Sweet and tangy as they are, pomegranates are undoubtedly the “un-convenience” fruit. Few other foods demand as much of the eater. Not only do you have to break through that tough, leathery outer shell, but then you have to pry apart the pith to get to the delicious, edible parts.

Even after all that, you may well wind up with all of your clothes stained bright red. That’s probably why you rarely see anyone walking down the street snacking on a pomegranate. There’s an easy way to clean a pomegranate, though. Score the skin in quarters and open it up. Then put each quarter underwater and use your fingers to ream the seeds from the inside. The pith is light and will float to the top; the heavier seedy fruit will sink. Use them as garnishes for salads and desserts.

How to choose: Select pomegranates that are heavy for their size–they’ll be the juiciest. Don’t worry too much about the color of the rind: It can vary from completely red to reddish-brown without it affecting the quality. Do look for deep color though.

How to store: Pomegranates should be refrigerated; they’ll last at least three to four weeks. Once they’ve been seeded, the seeds also can be frozen in a tightly sealed bag.

Want to use pomegranates in some recipes? Try these recipes with pomegranates.

Beyond Honey Cake: Delicious Desserts Sweetened with Honey

Honeycake is traditionally served on Rosh Hashannah to symbolize a sweet new year.  And although my recipe for honey cake is tasty, most people are not too excited about this traditional dish.  So in an effort to sweeten the new year with honey I came up with a few recipes that are include sweet honey but are bigger crowd pleasers than honey cake.  These are so good that we don’t just make them for Yom Tov but include them in our repertoire all year long.

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies
Honey Oatmeal Cookies
Lemon and Honey Cupcake with Lemon Honey Frosting
Honey and Dark Beer Chocolate Cake

Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies


Makes 18 big cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted margarine, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (mine was slightly chilled)
1 tablespoon honey

2/3 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts or roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or coarse sugar or regular sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together peanut butter, margarine, brown sugar, granulated sugar and honey, until creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour until well combined. Place dough in freezer for 15 minutes, stir, and freeze for an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Sift confectioners’ sugar into a medium sized mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter and honey until well combined. Shape mixture into 18 small balls, and place on a plate. Place plate in refrigerator until ready for use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large sheet pan with cooking spray.

Make the coating by stirring together peanuts, turbinado sugar and cinnamon, in a small bowl, until well combined.

Remove bowl from freezer; shape dough into an 11 inch x 2 1/2 inch log. Wrap dough in plastic wrap to shape better. Slice dough into 18 equal pieces. Take each piece of dough, flatten with your hand, place a peanut butter ball in the center, and wrap dough around ball. Roll ball in your hands to shape better. Roll balls in peanut mixture, to coat completely; place on prepared sheet pan. Flatten cookies. Don’t flatten too much.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 13-15 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Cool 4 minutes on sheet pan, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Thai Peanut Sauce

One of my favorite cooking ingredients is Peanut Butter because it is awesome in everything from appetizers to desserts. I use it in so many recipes: desserts, salad dressings, as a sauce or marinade, and coated on chicken. Here is one of my go-to Peanut Sauce recipes and then some delicious ideas on how to use it.

Great Go-To Peanut Sauce

Makes 2 cups
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (packed) light brown sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a food processor, blend ginger and garlic clove into a until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and 1/3 cup water and blend, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if needed to thin, until smooth.

Ideas and recipes for Great Go-To Peanut Sauce:
– Use it as a dip for vegetable crudite, or grilled chicken and steak
– Toss with noodles and add cucumbers and cilantro for great Peanut noodles
– Lather it on raw chicken or meat, marinade for 2 hours then bake either in a 375 degree oven or grill
– Add 2 tablespoons canola oil, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the sauce and toss with Spinach lettuce, sugar snap peas, mushrooms and almonds for a great salad
– Drizzle it over cooked vegetables like broccoli or spinach
– Top ice cream with it and add chocolate shavings

Grilling Time Chart: Your Time and Temperature Grilling Guide for Meat, Chicken and Vegetables

Grilling is not just for dads anymore. In fact, in our family, I’m the grill girl.  I love it though. I love how fast it is and the numerous flavor combinations that get enhanced from great grilling techniques.  I’ve been working with my new Weber Summit grill (it’s awesome) this summer (we shot some great videos that are coming soon) and have come up with my official “Grill Time and Temperature” charts to help you be a better griller. Print this chart and pull it out every time you fire up your grill. You’ll be able to cook everything exactly right, never too dry or undercooked.  Got a grilling question? Or want me to add something? Let me know, email me here, and I’ll send it out and add it to the chart. Happy grilling.

Grilling Beef
Steaks:  Grill steaks for the time given in the chart or till desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling time.
Cooking Method: Multi-Level – sear over high heat then finish over medium heat.
For searing, allow 2 minutes for 1-inch-thick steaks and 4 minutes for 1½ – 2-inch-thick steaks. Turn steaks and move to a cooler medium heat to finish grilling, turning once halfway through remaining grilling time. The cooking times in the chart include searing.



Rare (130- 140°)

Medium (140- 155°)

Well (170°)

Flank steak, London broil, minute steak 1-1½ lbs. 10-15 min. 15-19 min.  
Thin strip steaks:

Skirt steak, mush steak,

1 in. 8-10 min. 10-12 min. 12-14 min.
Bone In steaks ¾ in. 5-7 min. 7-9 min. 9-11 min.
Other Steaks:


1 in.

1½ in.

2 in.

6-7 min.

10-12 min

15-17 min.

7-9 min.

12-15 min

17-19 min.

9-11 min

15-19 min.

19-22 min.

Roasts:  Place meat, fat side up, in center of cooking grate. Grill indirect for time given in chart. Use a meat thermometer to check meat for desired internal temperature.

Cooking Method: Indirect



Rare (125° F)

Medium (140°)

Well (170°)

Brisket, fresh 5-6 lbs     2½-3 hrs
French roast, boneless

Square roast

Delmonico roast

4-6 lbs 1½-2 hrs 2-2½ hrs 2½-3 hrs

Grilling Poultry
Boneless breast, turkey patties and turkey steaks:  Grill over medium heat for the time given in chart, turning once halfway through grilling time.

Cooking Method: Direct

Type Of Poultry


Medium (170 )


Chicken breasts, skinned and boned 4-5 oz. ea. (pounded to even thickness)   10-12 min.
Turkey patties (ground raw turkey) ¾ in. thick   10-12 min.
Turkey steaks 4-6 oz. ea. (pounded to even thickness)   10-12 min.

Poultry pieces (with or without skin):  Grill over medium heat for the time given in the chart. During the last 10 minutes of grilling time, brush with sauce, if desired.  I recommend marinating it for 2 hours and up to overnight in a sauce (without a lot of sugar – this tends to burn on the grill) to give the poultry some flavor.

Whole birds:  Place whole chicken or turkey, breast side up, in center of the cooking grate. Grill for the time given in the chart or until registers 180°. When checking for doneness with a meat thermometer, insert in the center of the inside thigh muscle, making sure the probe does not touch the bone.

Cooking Method: Direct for pieces.  Indirect for whole birds.

Type Of Poultry


Medium (170°)

Well (180°)

Broiler-fryer chicken, halves 1½-2 lbs.   1-1¼ hrs.
Broiler-fryer chicken, whole 3-4 lbs.

4-5 lbs.

5-6 lbs.

  1¼-1¾ hrs.

1¾-2 hrs.

2-2½ hrs.

Chicken breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks From 3-4 pound bird.  Adjust slightly for larger bird.   35-45 min.
Cornish game hens, halves ½-¾ lb. ea.   40-50 min.
Cornish game hens, whole 1-1½ lbs. ea.   45-60 min.
Turkey, boneless, whole 2½-3½ lbs.   1¾-2¼ hrs.
Turkey, *unstuffed, whole 6-8 lbs.

10-12 lbs.

14-18 lbs.

  1¼-2 hrs.

2-3 hrs.

3-4 hrs.

Turkey breasts, half 3-4 lbs. 1½-2 hrs.  
Turkey breasts, whole 4-6 lbs.

6-8 lbs.

1½-2¼ hrs.

2-3½ hrs


*Be sure to fully defrost turkey before grilling. When defrosting turkey in the refrigerator, allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs.

Cooking Method: Direct over medium heat
The trick with vegetables is getting them to cook through at the same time – not always an easy task since we frequently like to eat a variety of different veggies together but their grilling times vary widely.  Following these guidelines should help.  After a time or two you’ll be able to judge how to apply them to your particular grill and preferred degree of doneness.

Make sure you marinade the veggies or brush them first with oil to prevent sticking.  You may thread them on skewers, use a grilling basket or place them directly on the grill.  Cook them in a closed grill and turn once, halfway through the cooking time.


Grilling Time

Scallions ends trimmed 5 minutes
Tomatoes ½” slices 5 minutes
Summer Squash ¼” slices 10 minutes
Zucchini ¼” slices 10 minutes
Eggplant ¼” slices 10 minutes
Asparagus thick end trimmed 10 – 15 minutes
White Mushrooms whole 10 minutes
Bell Peppers 1″ wide strips or rings 10 minutes
Onions ½” slices 15 minutes
Potatoes ¼” slices 15 minutes


Making of Video


Crazy pic, right? Yes, that was taken this week while shooting video through all sorts of weather, strong sun, wind, and then rain. The results will still be amazing, thanks to the extraordinary efforts and lots of interesting photographer weather gear from the fabulous crew that shoots RECIPEBOXTV with me. They are not only a great film crew but also good tasters !

The making of cooking videos requires lots of special people. First, my glam girl, Judy from Cheveaux (516-374-2121), she makes me look good even after I’ve cooked 9 items, and sometimes the same thing under hot lights, three different times for three different cuts. And yes, it is more fun to cook with long lashes. Thanks Judy!

Next, much thanks goes to some of our sponsors.  This week we shot 8 grilling episodes with Weber.  I used their powerful and super functional Summit Grill and we made some fabulous food, starting with Grilled French Bread Brushetta, Roasted Garlic Marinated Grilled Chicken, Grilled Vegetable Salad, Coffee Rubbed Steak, and there was more, we used the side burner to make Sesame Noodles, and Homemade Lemonade (then an adult version).  Cuisinart, Kitchenaid, Le Crueset, and Thermapen were involved this week too, and we included some of my favorite products in the shoot like the immersion blender, the digital thermometer by Thermapen, and fantastic cookware by Le Crueset.

I must mention that although we use a crew of people, and this week we had the addition of my fantastic intern Sabina Barbanel and one of my daughters and her friend, this is a seriously intense endeavor.  We spend 8 hours shooting 4 episodes that are about 4 minutes each.  Sound crazy? It’s not, that’s what it takes to create great content, the best photography, live action, and dynamo results.  Having said all of that, it’s really fun and scary to be in front of the camera.  You can sound and feel so natural and then the camera rolls and the words, they just don’t come to you anymore, or the first part of what you wanted to say comes out and your mind is blank for the rest.  Once gain, I’m grateful we have a good production crew (and an amazing editor, thanks Lindsey!) that is patient with me and reminds me that I might want to talk about what we are making J

Stay tuned for more great videos coming on, (coming soon), and tons of sites that are syndicating the video content like aol, yahoo, and Meredith publishing.

Cooking with Emunah of America

Last week I had the great pleasure of presenting a Nine Days Cooking Demonstration to a group of young leaders for Emunah of America.  Not only did they have a terrific turnout but they were a super engaged and fun audience.  It’s amazing for me to see a large group of young women who are excited and eager to learn to cook and so many that already have great skills to share with others.

We had about an hour and a half of active cooking and questions and then plenty of time to enjoy what I prepared.  Being the Nine Days, we first prepared a Roasted Tomato and Garlic Salmon.  Check out the video for that recipe and all my tips and instructions. Next I had to share the best pizza ever, Caramelized Onion, shitake, and Boursin Cheese Pizza.  They were weary of this ingredient combo but those of you who remember how I rave about it for years, know that it may sound crazy but the results are fantastic and it will become a family favorite the first time you serve it. Then we enjoyed an Italian Vinaigrette Salad and a S’mores Pie.  Both incredible, easy to make, and absolutely gorgeous to look at.  Those recipes are in the upcoming book, so stay tuned and I’ll share them with you as soon as possible.  Or invite me to your event and I’ll cook up something fantastic for your group!

Many thanks to Dani for organizing the event and inviting me. And to Michelle for hosting it.  She always hosts events in the most elegant and welcoming way!  And mostly thank you to Emunah of America, who succeed in providing such vital work for so many people in need in Israel.  You name the need, they have it covered in some way.  From educational services, to social services, to crisis management, parenting, day-care centers, children’s residential homes and so much more, Emunah is working to improve the lives of people in Israel.  I am proud that I was able to be a part of their important work.

Menu before the Tisha B’Av Fast

The final days of the nine days culminate with a difficult fast. I have read and written about the best foods to eat before a fast. I’m not sure if any of it works and everyone has their own special twist or tip for surviving a long summer day with no food or drinks. Personally, I find it tough (although I am embarrassed to complain when all we need to do is fast to commemorate such troubling history of the Jewish people) and I stick to some classic hydrating dishes and flavors that I think help, like cold soup, watermelon, sorbet, honey and lemons. Here is my menu, please share yours.

Greek Yogurt Gazpacho
Cedar Planked Salmon with Dill Sauce
Couscous with Pinenuts
Beet, Avocado, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad
Watermelon Sorbet

Nine Days Recipe Ideas

I actually enjoy testing and tasting recipes that work well during the nine days. I like to keep the meals light and flavorful and leave extra room for homemade or store bought ice cream. Here are a few recipes to add to your repertoire. And don’t forget to check out other great nine days recipes on GKC.

Pan Roasted Maple Halibut with Herbed Pistou
Mushroom and Spinach Frittata
Crispy Kani Salad with Cucumber and Spicy Mayo by Esther Deutsch
Salmon with Yogurt Zaatar Sauce

Nine Days Pasta – Choosing the right strand

Time for pasta but choosing the right strand is more than just about what you have in the pantry.  Choosing the right pasta depends on the topping.  The shape should be dictated by the type of sauce you are preparing with it.  Here are a few tips to go by:

Tubes: Tubular shapes like penne and ziti are perfect with hearty and thick sauces like meaty tomato based sauces.  Ridged ones capture even more sauce.  Try this Bolognese Pasta with tubes or with spaghetti.  For the nine days, use soy meat instead of beef.

Ribbons: Wide, flat pastas like pappardelle are ideal for sopping up creamy sauces.  Generally, the wider the noodle, the heavier the sauce.  I like linguine with artichokes.

Long strands:  Long, round pasta like spaghetti are best with olive oil and tomato based sauces, which coat each strand evenly.  Go thinner for delicate preparations.  A good one to try is Spaghetti with Red and Yellow Peppers (if you do not cook with wine during the nine days, just omit it and use 4 cloves of garlic with the olive oil).

Shapes: Chunky vegetable sauces absolutely go better with short pastas that have lots of crevices to trap the sauce.  Try this Eggplant and Ricotta Pasta, it’s perfect with shaped noodles.

Try lots of pastas with different types of noodles.  See pasta index here.