Father’s Day

Father’s Day is around the corner and barbeques are on the schedule. Using the BBQ can be easy and just requires a few great marinades. I love everything made on the grill from chicken and meat, to vegetables, grilled breads and even grilled fruit.

For great marinades, check out these recipes. For condiments, more sauces, and a few side dishes, check out these recipes for bourbon baked beans, homemade pickles, and great slider sauce.

I’m making this BBQ sauce, it’s one of my favorites! I’m also making these burgers and this Dry Rubbed BBQ London Broil. Jazz up your salsa side dishes with this amazing and totally original slaw, Stone Fruit Slaw. I serve it alongside any grilled chicken or meat. It’s super fresh and both sweet and savory.

Stone Fruit Slaw
Grilled Chicken with Zaatar and Lemon
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Barbecue Sauce Dressing

Secret to Great Cheesecake

The secret to velvety cheesecake is knowing how to handle the batter. Gently folding the beaten eggs into the cheesecake batter will give you an even, smooth, creamy texture.

A few other keys to success:
– Spring form pan: ideal for the soft texture of traditional cheesecake – removing a cheesecake from any other pan is nearly impossible.
– Overbeating incorporates too much air, which produces a cheesecake that puffs in the oven, then falls and cracks as it cools. Overbaking produces cracks in the top of a cheesecake and a texture that becomes dry and crumbly where the filling meets the crust.
– Water Bath method: This will help your cheesecake bake slowly and evenly. The water bath ensures the outer edge of the cake won’t bake faster than the center. Place your curst-lined springform pan on a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Bring edges of foil up and mold around sides of pan to form a watertight seal. Place pan into a roasting pan and after adding the cheesecake filling, pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn off oven, let stand in over for 60 minutes. Remove from water bath, cool as directed.
– Pressing matters: Press the crust into the pan and 1 ½ inches up the sides. Use your hand or the bottom of a measuring cup.
– Room temperature ingredients: Make sure the cream cheese is softened before incorporating with the sugar. This helps create a silky smooth batter. Cold cream cheese will give you chunks in your batter.
– Fold in beaten eggs: Don’t overbeat the eggs or it will incorporate too much air.
– Give it a shake: Check you cheesecake for doneness by giving the pan a gently shake. A perfectly cooked cheesecake will still have a shaky, jellylike center, giving the illusion that it’s not done baking. Chilling the cheesecake will set the center and help develop the lush texture.
– Releasing the cake: Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake before unclipping the sides of the springform pan. Cool the cheesecake completely on a wire baking rack before chilling for at least 4 hours. It will solidify in the fridge.

Make It Yours Cheesecake

Reflections on Mother’s Day


Yes, I know Mother’s Day was last Sunday but I’m still on a high from the warm text messages, sweet cards, and thoughtful gifts my kids prepared. I’ve officially become one of those moms that saves notes and cards and really appreciates the sentiments that could be shared everyday but get reserved for what America designates as the day to appreciate mom. Who cares, I’m in. It was a real mom day for me, mother-son brunch in the morning at school, a few baseball games and carpools and then a barbeque with family. Food was terrific and stay tuned because I tested lots of great marinades that I’m posting for Father’s day and yum, they are delicious. On top of the activity, I’m still appreciating the fantastic and personal gifts my kids showered upon me. First, a new Nike running cap. I love those light-weight caps that are great for exercise and a summer day. A gorgeous necklace with lettering, “LOVE” on it, so cute and trendy, and of course a cookbook that I had my eye on, Fresh From the Farm, by Susie Middleton (these summer recipes are going to make some great summer recipe posts!). Scary how well my kids get my simple pleasures, a bit of exercise, a sparkle of jewels, and cooking. Gosh, I love them!

How to Wash, Store, and Cut Fresh Herbs


Herbs need to be handled with care in order to keep them bright, fresh and fragrant. They also need to be handled with extra special care to ensure proper kashrus. For the kashrus part, check with your local rabbi about washing and checking each variety. For the fresh and fragrant part, I’m here to help you. Just follow these simple tips and you will have fabulous flavors to use in so many recipes!

Washing: Wash herbs in cool water, swishing them gently to release the dirt and grit. Use some kind of soap, vinegar or whatever your Rabbi recommends to take care of bug issues. Lift the herbs from the dirty water so that you do not pour the released grit back on the herbs. Rinse them again with cool water. Dry herbs with a salad spinner. Do not squeeze them. Check them thoroughly for bugs.

Storing: Wrap washed and dried (it’s important they are stored dry) herbs loosely in a damp paper towel and refrigerate in a heavy-duty zip-lock storage bag or plastic container, left slightly open for air to get in. Most herbs will last about 4 – 5 days in the fridge, longer for stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary. Basil is best stored at cool room temperature, with its stems submerge in a glass of water.

Chopping: Chops herbs using a very sharp knife (a dull one will mash and bruise them). Strip the leaves from the stems, using a slice-down-the-stem motion. Pile the herbs on a cutting board. Lift and lower the knife to chop through the herbs, pivoting the blade across the pile as you chop, stopping to gather the herbs back into a pile as you go.

Use fresh herbs in salads, dips, to finish chicken and meat dishes. Or try basil in these recipes, or cilantro in these dishes. Like rosemary? Try these recipes with fresh rosemary, or use thyme in these choices, and I like these recipes with fresh chives.

The Secret Ingredient Sweet Banana Bread

I’ve been making banana bread for years and I feel like I just discovered the trick! The sweet secret that no one knows about is about to be revealed. You see, I’ve been working on a recipe for Shavuos for roasted banana and walnut ice cream and I roasted a lot of bananas. So many that I used the extra to make a banana bread and voile, best banana bread ever!

The other cool fabulous thing about roasting bananas is that they don’t need to be overripe to use them. Overripe bananas are sweeter than the just ripe version. When you roast them it does not matter how ripe they are. Roasting bananas causes the natural sugars in the fruit to melt into thick, caramely syrup, adding a rich, deep flavor to traditional banana bread. Try it! You’ll be hooked. Plus the extras are amazing in vanilla yogurt, homemade granola, on sweet potatoes, or just licked off a spoon.

A few banana bread pointers:
– Roasting bananas make them super sweet and soft; you can mix them right into the batter. But beware; the roasting process makes the peel very black and ugly. No worries, they are delicious on the inside.
– Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Just grease ½ way up though. This will give the loaf a slightly rounded top.
– Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Combine them gently. The batter should be just moistened, thick, and lumpy. Over mixing makes a heavy, uneven loaf.

Roasted Banana, Banana Bread
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

Welcome back to GKC!

Thank you for the tremendous support for Passover! The comments, questions, and responses made it all worth the effort! I hope your seders and meals were as delicious and impressive as ours were. We loved preparing old favorite recipes with so many new Passover recipes that are now new favorites. Your input and support keep the site fresh, alive, and keep the writers inspired to create new recipes and make great content in the coming year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Marshmallow Making

Small bakeries and sweet shops are loaded with this food trend, flavored homemade marshmallows. They come in all different colors and flavors and have a terrific appearance. Airy, fluffy, tall, and coated in powdered sugar, these are irresistible to kids and adults. I can’t decide how I feel about them but I’ve enjoyed testing and tasting all different varieties. Add color and flavors as you like, i.e. a dap of pink with strawberry extract, or green with 1 teaspoon coconut extract and the zest of a lime, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and finely ground cookie crumbs for cookies flavored. If you are every going to try these home-made, Purim is the perfect time.

Soft and Chewy Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade Gift Ideas

Most people do a lot of wrapping and buying for Purim Mishloach Manot. After all its hard to make something homemade to give out to a large number of people, deal with challenging kashrut issues, and still run around and get to all of your children’s friends houses. I’m still an advocate for doing something homemade and fun and skipping the impressive but expensive store-bought baskets. Trust me, these will be much more memorable.

Creamy Caramel Sauce
Wine Nut Bar Mix
Herbed Finishing Salt
Carrot Dip
Sesame Kiddush Cookies

KFWE 2014

I didn’t think this event could be bigger or better or include more wines, drinks, and food, but KFWE 2014, did all of those. Thousands of people, winemakers sharing their visions, successes, and love for wine, and restaurants and food trends being tasted. KFWE 2014 was a huge success and Royal Wines did an amazing job. One of the best parts of the event is meeting up with readers to get to know you in person, sharing wine favorites with other writers and friends, and catching up with fellow bloggers and chefs. So thank you to all of you and I enjoyed my time with you.

KFWE Friends

KFWE Friends

KFWE friends

KFWE friends

Now on to wine! I felt the entire evening was filled with fragrance. Yes, the food smelled great, but I really mean that the wines have become so aromatic; you can almost taste their depth and flavor just by smelling them. My senses were so profoundly pleased. Second, I am thrilled that some of my favorite Israeli wines, Psagot, Tulip, and Flam (and Napa winery Covenant) have introduced mevushal wines. Although not always popular, I’m excited about it because it’s much easier to serve them at simchas, and bring them as gifts.

Jonathan Hadju from Covenant Wines

Jonathan Hadju from Covenant Wines

Here are some of my favorites from the evening. Covenant Winery poured their 2011 Chardonnay, called Lavan. It’s perfectly balanced, easily savored and enjoyable. All their wines are on my best pick list and winemaker Jonathan Hadju is always fun to chat with. They released a mevushal wine with nice fruit overtones and a terrific smell. I’m sure it will be a big hit. I loved the Capcanes Rose, which is new for them and a big popular trend in wine. The Peraj Habib Cabernet is a wonderful accompaniment to a meat meal and pairs nicely with ribs or hearty Shabbos chicken.

Jacob from Psagot Winery

Jacob from Psagot Winery

My favorite Israeli wines included Psagot (welcoming 2 mevushal bottles, both are terrific). It’s always wonderful to catch up with wine maker, Jacob. Last year we visited the Psagot winery in Israel and had a fantastic time. In addition to their mevushal wines, try their Cabernet Franc and Edom wines, well balanced, super flavorful and silky and smooth. I love the Tulip winery (I tried their new wine called Black Tulip, yum, divine) for many reasons. First they make great wine (also try their Just Tulip wines, they are priced well and very enjoyable), also, they grow and process their wines in the Valley of Hope in Israel and hire disabled adults to work at the winery. Chesed and winemaking, now that’s a combination I’m excited about.

A few others you must check out, Flam, Yatir, and Bazelet. I enjoyed Flam’s Rose, it’s dry and not too sweet and their Classico, is superb. Yatir’s Forest is worth the splurge any day and their Syrah is silky and smooth and pairs with anything from fish and chicken to pasta. I met winemaker Yoav Levi from Bazelet in the Golan. This is a new winery for me and I was totally impressed. Not only were the wines delicious, but also zesty, dry, and well balanced. And what’s interesting about the wines is that they have a naturally high alcohol content, just above 15%. Now, that’s a Kiddush wine. Both the merlot reserve and cabernet reserve are great wines to try.

I’ve been reading about Shiloh’s chardonnay (they didn’t have it L but I loved the Barbera. Also, new for me were the 1848 wines. My favorites were the 2009 Reserve (fabulous!), Cabernet Franc and the Merlot. Although I buy it often, I enjoyed the Goose Bay Pinot Noir. This wine has nice hints of cherry and oak and a little spiciness too.

Herzog Cellars new Cabernet Basin

Herzog Cellars new Cabernet Basin

And of course, the Herzog Wine Cellars shared some wonderful wines. Just released Herzog Cabernet called Basin, where the grapes are grown in a region in Northern Napa called the Basin. It’s a rich and warm wine that’s full of flavor. Both the Clone 6 and the Alexander Valley Cabernets are always enjoyable and a favorite gift to bring to others. Be sure to check out the Chenin Blanc too, its very well priced and is good for many palates.

Ari White slicing brisket and showing us veal pancetta

Ari White slicing brisket and showing us veal pancetta

Ari White slicing brisket

Ari White slicing brisket

Silver leaf caterers kale salad

Silver leaf caterers kale salad

Were you wondering if I tried any food? It’s me, so of course I did! Ari White, the pit boss from Texas Roadside Smokehouse won rave reviews from all, serving 18 hr. Oak and Apple Smoked Brisket (the bbq sauce was a perfect combination of sweet and smoky and the brisket was soft enough to cut with a fork) and in conjunction with superstar caterers Gemstar catering, veal pancetta and lamb bacon (I’m not kidding!). Both melt in your mouth awesome and memorable. Silverleaf caterers served a crisp and on trend Kale Salad with Roasted Squash and Pomegranate seeds (I definitely trying to recreate this one at home!). Etc. Steakhouse in Teaneck shared a wonderful Pink Peppercorn Crusted Rib-eye. I loved the spicy pepper, with the sweet taste of pomegranate and the hints of citrus. It was a nice surprise from a restaurant I have not yet tried (I’m definitely making a trip to Teaneck to try it out though). Jose Mareilles, the owner and chef from Le Marais is always delightful and a pleasure to see. He sure knows how to make a great hanger steak.

What will they think of and bring for us next year? I love the opportunity to taste and experience wines from around the world all in one place. I love to see the latest and best food trends incorporated into kosher restaurants and chef’s repertoire. KFWE 2014 was wonderful. Please join me next year!

Cook In Israel, A New Book by Orly Ziv


Yotam Ottolenghi, Israeli chef and author of Jerusalem and Plenty (neither are kosher), has helped bring Israeli cooking and food to the forefront of food trends. Luckily author Orly Ziv, brings us Cook In Israel, a new kosher cookbook with the bright and flavorful ingredients of Mediteranean cooking. Drawing on her Jewish-Greek heritage, Orly has been teaching cooking classes and leading culinary tours of Israel for years (check out her tours through the markets and Tel Aviv, ending in a culinary class at CookinIsrael.com). The recipes and incredible knowledge she shares on these delightful trips, are now available in her debut book, Cook In Israel.

The book is filled with over 100 delicious recipes that allow the everyday cook to bring the flavors of Israel to their kitchen. It’s easy to follow, includes cooking tips (I love the onion trick, keep the root on, then cut it with root intact until the end, no more tears!), and nutritional information. Orly has a background in nutrition so her recipes are not only gorgeous and delicious but also nutritious. She invites her readers to try new dishes and flavor combination. I love recipes for the familiar flavors of Israel like eggplant, tahini, tomato, and chickpeas and also the flavors that are newer, like silan (Sweet date honey – its incredible), and the color of pomegranate seeds tossed throughout many recipes. I’m excited about the Tahini and Almond cookies, the Roasted Cauliflower with Silan, and the Sephardic Style Baked Fish with Vegetables. Easy and delicious weeknight cooking at its best!

GKC has a few special sneak peak recipes and a giveaway! Submit to win!
Check out these recipes to get a look at what Cook In Israel is all about. And buy a copy today on Amazon.com for $35

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini and Silan
Eggplant Biladi
Chocolate and Halva Babka

Homemade Breadcrumbs

Yes, breadcrumbs are available in the ready-made package and some companies like, Pereg, even make them with additional flavors. But, the terrific toasty smell and amazing crunch of breadcrumbs, is only possible with the homemade version. Additionally, if you are gluten-sensitive, or prefer whole grains, like whole wheat, the ready-made version just does not offer you any options. I make a big batch, (you’ll see how easy it is below) and store them for tons of great uses, like:

– Top them on broccoli or cauliflower and roast at a high temperature for toasty and crunchy broccoli
– Toss them in a salad in place of croutons. It adds crunch and depth and great texture
– Toss them in a pasta dish made from olive oil, garlic, pasta water and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Add the breadcrumbs, and you have a hearty and delicious pasta dish
– Roast green beans or asparagus. Top with the breadcrumbs. Looks gorgeous on the serving platter too.
– Top any stew, veal stew, or short ribs. Adds a great finishing touch
– Of course, use them on schnitzel, veal chops or lamb chops

Here is how I make them. Let me know how you use them too. Btw, get creative, make a dairy version by adding Parmesan cheese, or add S’riachi sauce or crushed red pepper to make them a little spicy, or add another herb of your choice, I think oregano, or basil is great or dried Herbs d’Provence.

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Winter Soups

Unreasonably cold temperatures throughout the world lend to comfort foods and soup with every meal. And although I make all sorts of soups from Thai Chicken to Indian Vegetable, I find the classic recipes are so important to warm the body and soul. These classics are a big hit every time. My kids love to come home from school and start their meal with a warm bowl of any of these soups. Sometimes, they are lucky enough to have a bit left over to bring for lunch the next day.

Classic Split Pea Soup
Classic Potato Leek Soup
Chicken Udon Soup


Pretzels are my favorite salty, crunchy addiction. I never tire of them.

I’m a traditionalist and prefer the small twist type but they certainly have a flavor or shape for everyone. Chefs and food trenders have noticed pretzels because they are showing up on restaurant menus and in amazing desserts. It’s that salty sweet trend and I love it.

Here are a few great recipes that use pretzels, as toppings, croutons, or in a sweet treat. There is something for everyone so watch out potato chips, the pretzel is looking to take over.

Pretzel Crusted Tilapia
Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Croutons
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

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 http://kfwe2014.com/purchase.php. 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 www.kfwe2014.com.

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 kosherscoop.com 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 Kosherscoop.com 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 ekurtz@gourmetkoshercooking.com 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.