Praline For Purim

by Moshe Dembitzer, GKC contributor

For as long as I can remember I have had an addiction to praline. Whenever praline chocolate truffles or praline brownies were placed in front of me, my eyes would light up and my mouth would water. After you try this recipe you will understand. With Purim just around the corner everyone is looking for a new ingredient to spruce up their Shalach Manos, Seudah, or even favorite Hamantashen recipe. And after you try this surprisingly easy recipe for Praline paste, you will have just the thing to elevate any recipe and make it a Purim to remember.

Try these praline recipes:
Chocolate Cake and Praline Topping
Warm Bananas Praline with Pareve Vanilla Ice Cream

Or add some Praline paste to the chocolate filling in this Classic Hamantashen recipe to take them to the next level.

Bourbon Chicken

Serves 4

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned, about 6 minutes total. Remove chicken from pan.

Add remaining ingredients, heating over mediumand cook until well mixed and dissolved, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to pan and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with white rice.

Oven Roasted Greek Potatoes

Serves 8

8 large potatoes, peeled, cut into large wedges ( about 6-7 wedges per potato)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or parchment paper
Place all the ingredients into a baking pan large enough to hold them. Season generously with salt and black pepper. Toss to make sure all ingredients are coated.
Bake for 40 minutes. Toss them once while baking.

Add 1/2 cup more water if pan appears to be getting dry, and pop back into oven to brown other side of potatoes.

Bloody Mary Chicken

Fun way to present chicken at a seuda. I like to place the chicken on a plate over a few celery sticks. Then serve a shot glass of the sauce with another celery stick coming out of the shot glass. It’s especially fun on Purim
Serves 10

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, or pargiot
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
15 ounces Bloody Mary mix, plus more if needed (or tomato vegetable cocktail mix)
1/4 cup vodka, optional
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
Several dashes Tabasco, or to taste
Several dashes Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
5 celery stalks, cut into long pieces

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, onions, and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add chicken and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan.

Add chili powder, cumin and oregano and toast seasonings for 1 minutes. Add the Bloody Mary mix, vodka if using, Montreal steak seasoning, Tabasco and Worcestershire. Stir until combined. Bring sauce to a boil, simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add chicken back to the pan and continue to simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.

Serve on a bed of celery sticks with sauce.

Beer Bathed Pulled Brisket

Serves 10

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (5 pound) brisket
2 onions, sliced
1 cup beer
1 bottle good barbecue sauce

Stir together the brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the brisket. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place onions in a large roasting pan. Put the brisket top of the onions. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast until fork-tender and falling apart, about 3 ½ – 4 ½ hours. Remove the brisket from the pan and set it on a cutting board. Pour off most of the cooking liquid. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat with two forks and return it to the pan.

In a saucepan place a 1/2 cup water, beer, and bbq same and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and reduced a bit. Pour sauce over the shredded beef. Rewarm.

Serve brisket warm with sauce in lettuce cups, on hamburger or slider buns, or over mashed potatoes.

Nacho Chicken

This is a fun and delicious dish for Purim. It’s a little wild in appearance and full of flavor. My kids like it as a weeknight meal too.
Serves 6

2 tablespoons taco seasoning (from the Ortega seasoning package)
2 tablespoons chili powder
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces tomato sauce
A few dashes hot sauce or S’riracha sacue
1 large bag tortilla chips
1/4 cup jarred jalapeno slices or 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced (be careful when handling jalapenos, the spiciness will get into your skin and then burn, use gloves or a paper towel to protect your fingers)
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives
3 tomatoes, finely chopped
3 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped
1/4 cup Tofutti sour cream, optional
Guacamole, optional
Cilantro, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the taco seasoning and chili powder in a small dish and then rub all over the chicken breasts on both sides.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side, then remove from the skillet and set aside. To the skillet, add the tomato sauce, hot sauce and 2 cups hot water and bring to a gentle boil.

Crumble about 2 cups of tortilla chips on a platter. Place chicken on top. Crumble a generous amount of chips on top of chicken. Sprinkle with jalapenos, olives, tomatoes and green onions. Place dollops of Tofutti sour cream, guacamole and cilantro on top, if using.

Alternatively, for a shredded nacho dish: Shred the chicken with 2 forks, then return the shredded chicken to the tomato sauce liquid and simmer on low until everything is hot and bubbly.

Sprinkle a layer of tortilla chips onto 2 ovenproof plates or baking dishes. Sprinkle a layer of chicken and sauce; repeat twice more with each layer getting smaller in circumference. Layer on the jalapenos, black olives, tomatoes, green onions on the top, then add dollops of Tofutti sour cream, guacamole, and cilatnro.

Classic Hamantashen


3 cups flour
½ cup finely ground almonds
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ pound unsalted margarine or butter
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Hamantashen Fillings

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. Blend or cut in the butter until the mixture resembles very fine crumbs.

In a small bow, beat the egg, water and lemon juice until well blended. Add to the flour mixture and beat until completely blended and the mixture begin to form a dough. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a floured board and knead the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into 6 equal portions for easier handling. Flatten each portion with the palms of your hands and roll it out to ¼ inch thick. With a scalloped cookie cutter or the top of a water glass, cut into 3 ½ inch rounds. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold the edges of the dough toward the center to form a triangle, leaving a bit of the filling visible in the center. Pinch the edges to seal them.

Place the hamantashen on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white. Bake fro 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and eat.

Hamantashen Prune Filling

1 ¼ cups pitted prunes
½ cup raisins
Sweet wine or water
½ cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup walnuts, toasted

In a large bowl, soak the prunes and raisins in enough wine to cover for 3 hours or overnight. Drain well. Chop or mince the prunes and raisins. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zests, and walnuts and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Hamantashen Poppy Seed Filling

4 ounces poppy seed
½ cup pareve milk
1 tablespoon unsalted margarine or butter
¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the poppy seeds, pareve milk, margarine, raisins, walnuts, and honey. Bring to a boil and stir over medium heat until the pareve milk is absorbed and the mixture thickens. Cool. Stir in the vanilla.

Easy Hamantashen with Gourmet Fillings

Submitted by Sarah Faygie Berkowitz

1 Duncan Hines Cake Mix (lemon, chocolate, butter golden, yellow strawberry,etc…)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
(Note the absence of oil, margarine or butter!)

Gourmet Filling Options:
Apple Pie: chopped apples and walnuts, cinnamon and sugar

Cappuccino: Nestle’s Iced Jave syrup and a few chocolate chunks or chips

Strawberry Daiquiri: Strawberry Preserves (or cut up fresh strawberries) and a shot of Strawberry Daiquiri Syrup

Peanut butter and Jelly: A 1/2 spoonful of each side by side

Lemon Zest: a small spoonful of lemon pie filling and grated lemon zest

Cranberry Pecan: A scoop of whole cranberry sauce (chopped fresh or frozen cranberries optional) and chopped pecans

Cooking Instructions:
Mix all ingredients well with an electric mixer. Roll out dough to desired thickness. Cut out circles using a yartzheit glass or other round shape.

Place spoonfuls of filling, pinch corners together, place on parchment paper or greased cookie sheet and bake 12 – 15 minutes, depending on desired firmness and oven accuracy.

Other Tips/Notes:


This dough really needs to be mixed in a kitchen aid. I tried by hand and only got crumbs and thought it was yet another defective recipe. The mixer made a perfect dough of my crumbs in about 4 seconds. The trick is to try to roll it out evenly on a floured surface (thick or thin – however you like it). One of the beauties of this dough is that you don’t have to pinch it to death to keep the filling contained. It doesn’t open up and ooze out like some other recipes I’ve tried.

Hamantashen, hamentaschen

Cranberry White Chocolate Hamentashen

I’ve waited my whole life for this recipe. I’ve made dozens over the years and none of them were what I wanted. I got the fillings down pat (anything but prune) but the great dough eluded me. Back in Atlanta, I suddenly remembered tasting a hamentash a neighbor had made years ago. I called her, and here it is in all its simple glory (if you’ve seen it before and everyone and her sister knows this one, don’t burst my bubble. Just be happy for me.)
This one is from Shoshana Ohriner
Recipe : Cranberry White Chocolate Hamentashen

1/2 cup margarine, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup shortening, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 beaten eggs
2-4 tablespoons orange juice
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten

Cranberry White Chocolate Filling
1 12 oz bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons sugar
4 oz white chocolate chips

Cooking Instructions:

Pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor until well combined. Add the margarine and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add beaten eggs and pulse until combined.

Remove the from the food processor and pour into a large bowl. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of orange juice and mix until it comes together into a ball.

If the dough seems dry add the remaining orange juice.

Divide the dough into two disks, wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
While the dough is chilling make the filling. Place the cranberries, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until all the cranberries have popped.

Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until they are melted. Let filling cool to room temperature.
Roll out dough and using a round cutter, cut into circles. Fill each circle with a small amount of filling. (For 2 inch circles use about a teaspoon of filling). Brush each circle with the egg wash and fold two sides together, pinching tight to make a corner. Fold up the remaining side to make a triangle with the filling showing in the middle and pinch the other two corners well. It is important that they are well pinched, so that they do not come open in the oven.
Bake at 350 until they are slightly firm to the touch, about 11 minutes.

American Embassy Hamantashen

Submitted by Rochel Lieberman

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups flour, sifted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons Orange Juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

(either prepared or home-made)

Cooking Instructions:

Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Work the shortening in by hand (you can also do this in a food processor). Add the egg and orange juice, mixing until a dough is formed. Chill overnight, if possible, or at least 2 hours. Prepare Filling.

Roll out dough ~ 1/8th inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 3″ circles, and place 1 heaping teaspoonful of the filling on each. Pinch 3 edges together, leaving a small opening in the center. Place on a greased and floured cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rest for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, until delicately browned on top. Transfer to cooling rack until completely cool. Can be frozen, but don’t expect to find too many left for Purim!

Other Tips/Notes:
When we lived in Mexico in the 1980′s we became close friends with a giyores tzedek who was on diplomatic post in the American Embassy, She often brought us “treats” from the commissary, including her own baked goods that used “American” (i.e. unavailable to us) ingredients. This is her recipe, which we have enjoyed making for years afterwards, now that we are back in the US and have access to kosher ingredients. Enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

My sister sent me this creative and delicious recipe that she got from a friend at her book group. I loved the concept and my sister and I made a few edits to make it kosher. It’s delicious and a lot of fun to serve. It has all the great flavors of lasagna in one bowl of soup. The original recipe came from a website called

Serves 8
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can “fire roasted” diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups pareve chicken stock or vegetable stock
8 oz. fusilli pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups fresh spinach, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the cheesy part:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
Extra mozzarella for topping

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1
minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cooked noodles and simmer for 5 minutes or until noodles are warmed through.

Right before serving, stir in the basil and spinach. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.

For the cheesy part, yumminess…
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop the cheesy yum in each soup bowl and ladle the hot soup over the cheese. Sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top.

Crunchy Chunky Everything Cookies

Makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies
Crazy yummy. You can substitute anything and everything for the nuts or dried fruit in this recipe. I like to use a combination of chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes other assorted chips. You can also use other types of cereal like rice krispies, honey bunch of oats, or crumbled cheerios.

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) margarine
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
4 heaping cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups prepared granola (from the box)
1 heaping cup cooking oats
1 1/2 cups apricots
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the margarine and sugars. Add the vanilla and eggs. Next, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Add in the granola and oatmeal. Fold in the apricots, cherries, pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips.

With a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

Awesome Chili aka My Friend Shlomo’s Famous Chili

I look forward to this chili every year at Shlomo’s house. It’s one of his signature dishes. He often makes it in place of cholent for Shabbos too. For a crock pot and preparation for Shabbos, make sure to add sufficient water to slightly cover ingredients and keep on lowest heat so that it does not dry out.
Serves 10

2 lbs. chopped meat, browned and crumbled, drained of its fat.
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups beef broth (or chicken broth)
1 (15 ounce) can small red beans
1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can small white or cannellini beans
1 small box (16 ounces) of frozen corn or 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
3 cloves garlic
3 medium jalapeno peppers, chopped, with seeds (remove seeds and membranes for less heat)
1 package/envelope of Ortega (or other kosher brand) taco seasoning or chili seasoning
1 package/envelope of Lipton Kosher Recipe Secrets ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon cumin

Combine all of the ingredients into an 8-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least one hour. Serve in small bowls topped with a dollop of Tofutti sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips.

Football Party Recipes

Football and food just go together. People have been making Super Bowl parties and tailgating for years. I personally love it because I’m not only a fan of football but also a fan of making and serving foods that are not typical Shabbos foods. I love a great chili, cornbread, homemade condiments, and lots of cookies and munchies. Try a few of these for your game day. Not a sports fans? You will still love these on any Sunday or weeknight. All easy and delicious.

Awesome Chili aka My Friend Shlomo’s Famous Chili
Vegetarian Chili
Black Bean Chili
Other Chili recipes
Chili, Cornbread, Shepherd’s Pie
Homemade Pigs in a Blanket
Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Crunchy Chunky Everything Cookies
Spiced Nut Mix
Crunchy Caramel Popcorn

Carrot Cake Cookies

My friend Malkie Gordon Hirsch runs a great facebook page called Kiss the Kosher Cook, it’s fabulous! People post anything and everything food, from something delicious they make for dinner to their Shabbos menu, or a new cookbook they are excited to dive into plus recipes for each item. I love the enthusiasm for cooking from this group and especially love how receptive they are testing recipes for me. One reader asked for a Carrot Cake Cookie…here you go.

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted margarine
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups grated carrots
1 cup raisins
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Pareve Cream Cheese Frosting: recipe

In a mixer, cream margarine, sugars, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add to margarine mixture and mix on low until just combined.

Stir in oats, coconut, carrots, raisins, and walnuts. Chill dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

Scoop dough onto prepared sheets by the tablespoon about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake 12- 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool then transfer to cooking rack.

Spread 2 tablespoons frosting on half of the cookies. Place a second cookie on top to make a sandwich. Alternatively, use a flower tip and pipe some frosting into the center of each cookie.

Pareve Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 ½ cups

1 cup (8 ounces) softened Tofutti cream cheese
½ cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a mixer, cream the cream cheese, margarine, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Add vanilla, salt and lemon zest and mix.

Store frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed. Bring to room temperature before using.

California Style Tuna Fish a la Dad

Makes 2 cups

2 (7 ounce) cans solid white tuna in water, drained
About ¼ cup mayonnaise
About 1 ½ tablespoons pickle relish
About 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1 scallion, chopped, or 1 ½ tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons peeled, chopped green apple,
3 tablespoons chopped nuts, like peanuts, almonds, walnuts
Pinch salt

In a small bowl, mix tuna fish, breaking up large chunks. Add all the ingredients together and mix well until everything is coated and mixed together.

Serve on a sandwich, with vegetables, as a dip, or on a bagel with melted cheese on top.

Store in the refrigerator, covered. Keeps for about 5 days.

Kale Chips

Serves 4

1 bunch kale, rinsed and dried well (about 10 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Any seasonings you like; blended spice mixture, crushed red pepper, onion powder, seasoning salt, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, etc.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. 

Remove and discard the thick stems of the kale and tear the leaves into large pieces. Spread kale in a single layer on 2 large cookie sheets. Spray leaves with nonstick cooking spray to coat lightly. Sprinkle with salt and any seasoning of your choice. Bake just until the kale chips are crisp but not browned, 20-35 minutes. Cool. 

Pumpkin Bread Sweetened with Bananas

Serves 8

Bananas are naturally sweet and serve as a good, non-processed sugar substitute in baking.
They also contain resistant starch, which has been linked to burning fat. But because they contain more moisture than sugar does, make sure you use less milk or water when baking with bananas (about 3 tablespoons less for each banana).

1 banana, mashed (this is in place of 1 cup sugar)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil!)
1/3 cup water or soymilk
1 (15 ounces) can pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat eggs and mix with banana (or sugar), oil, water, and pumpkin.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.
Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients until just blended
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.