Chocolate Meltaway Cake

GKC friend and reader, Rachel, requested a recipe for chocolate meltaway cake like the one from the NY bakeries. We tried and tried to get their recipe but had no luck. But, while we were asking, we were also tasting and developing our own version that is remarkably close to theirs. Rachel tried it too, and said that it was not exact but so delicious that they definitely ate too much of it. She used wafer crumbs in place of the cookies crumbs.

1-1/2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 – 1/2 cup melted margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix crust ingredients together and press into bottoms and up sides of a greased 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until lightly browned.

For meltaway center:
1-1/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup non-dairy creamer

Crumble topping:
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 – 2/3 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For meltaway center: In a small saucepan warm non-dairy creamer over low flame until hot but not boiling. Add chocolate, turn off heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour 2/3 of chocolate into crust.

For crumble topping: In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, and oil until crumbly but leaving some large chunks. Sprinkle 1/3 over chocolate layer. Fold the second 1/3 into the reserved chocolate. Spoon over crumble layer. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 on top. Bake for 12 minutes. Chill until ready to serve. You may need a little more crumble, if so use 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 3/4 – 1 cup oil for additional crumble.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Seared Salmon with Coconut Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

I made this for dinner last night and it was a big hit. Sweet from the coconut but zesty and full of Indian flavors from the garam masala. I served it with rice and roasted vegetables.

4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala (if you do not have this use ½ teaspoon of fennel and ½ teaspoon cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 tablespoon ground coriander, plus 1/2 teaspoon to season salmon
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

For the sauce: 
Put 2 tablespoons canola oil into a large skillet over low-med heat and add ginger and garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds and stir in garam masala, mustard and ground coriander; cook for 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring well. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary. 

For the salmon: 
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, season the salmon fillets with 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sear them on each side for 6 – 7 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Put the salmon on a plate and ladle some sauce over it. 

Spinach and Beet Salad with Balsamic Dressing


2 (6 ounce) bags baby spinach
2 red beets, peeled and diced
2 yellow beets, peeled and diced
1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

To roast beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In separate pans, toss beets with about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until caramelized – about 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Cool.

To prepare dressing: Mix together vinegar, garlic, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil.

To assemble: In a large bowl, combine spinach, beets, hearts of palm, cucumbers and almonds. Toss to coat with dressing. Serve immediately.

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars


This recipe is dairy so serve it during the week – just because – or save it for a special Shavuos treat.

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ cup milk or soy milk
1 cup chopped toasted peanuts, divided (optional)
½ cup (1 stick) margarine
1 (10-ounce) package peanut butter chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat together melted margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa and milk until completely incorporated. Stir in ¾ cup nuts, if using Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt ½ cup margarine with peanut butter chips, stirring until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and mix well. Pour over brownie layer in pan.

Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with remaining peanuts, if using. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until firm.

Chicken and Spinach Noodle Casserole

4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms, drained
1 (12-ounce) package egg noodles, cooked and drained

¼ cup margarine
¼ cup flour
1 cup nondairy creamer
1 cup chicken stock
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, spinach, mushrooms and noodles.

In a small pot, over low heat, melt margarine. Whisk in flour until blended. Gradually pour in nondairy creamer and chicken stock, whisking continually until a thick sauce is formed. Remove from heat and stir in spices. Pour over chicken mixture and toss well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes.

Imitation Crab Casserole


¼ red pepper, chopped
1 pound imitation crab, broken into small chunks
½ cup mayonnaise
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together red pepper, crab, mayonnaise, scallions, lemon juice and season salt. Pour into prepared dish.
Combine bread crumbs with melted margarine and sprinkle over top.
Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

Coconut Biscotti

photo: yumyumyummers

1-1/2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, vanilla and eggs. On low speed, add dry ingredients and then coconut. Mix well. (Dough will be sticky)

Lightly flour hands and shape dough into 2 “loaves”. Pat down to approximately 1-inch thickness. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and slice loaves. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate Pound Loaf

½ cup (1 stick) margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup tofutti sour cream
1-3/4 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and sour cream. On low speed, add dry ingredients until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool for 15 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.

Easy (Almost) Everything Brownies

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup toasted pecans (optional)
1 (19.9-ounce) brownie mix, prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.

In a small bowl, mix together chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and pecans, if using. Stir half of mixture into brownie batter and pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining mixture on top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool before cutting.

Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers with Pareve Lemon Cream Sauce

This is a great and easy way to spice up a midweek meal. The lamb burgers are a refreshing and flavorful twist to a regular burger and the lemon sauce adds a coolness to the dish.

Makes 6 – 8 servings

For the lemon yogurt sauce:
1 pint tofutti sour cream
1 lemon, zested
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt
12 slider buns or 1 challah, sliced

For the mini burgers:
2 pounds ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups lettuce, torn into small pieces
4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

Make the sauce: 
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the pareve sour cream, lemon zest and juice. Season, to taste, with salt. Sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before using. 

Make the burgers: 
Preheat the grill or grill pan. 

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and work together until they are fully incorporated. You’re your hands, gently form little balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inches big and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking pan. With a fork, flatten burgers to about 1/2-inch thick. 
Once the grill is hot, place them on the grill or grill pan and cook, about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until fully cooked through.

Slice buns and toast if you like. Serve burgers with lettuce, tomato, and lemon cream sauce.

Cocoa Brownies Sweetened with Agave Syrup

Makes 24 mini brownies
(adapted from The Good Housekeeping Baking: More Than 600 Recipes for Homemade Treats)

5 tablespoons margarine or butter
2/3 cup agave syrup

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, cut into bite size pieces
2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease mini-muffin pans.

In a medium saucepan, melt margarine over low heat. Add chocolate chunks, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
Stir in the agave syrup. Stir in eggs, 1 at a time. Add vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt
Stir flour mixture into saucepan until blended.
Spoon the batter into the mini-muffin cups.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Soy Spinach with Sesame

This is good both warm and room temperature. Grinding the sesame gives it additional nutty flavor.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound baby spinach (about 16 loosely packed cups)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, divided
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
4-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Kosher salt

In a large skillet pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook 3 minutes or until fully cooked through. Remove from heat.

Using a spice grinder, grind 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds with 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar with the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Stir in the ground sesame seeds.

Add the cooled spinach and gently toss it, separating any clumps. Serve sprinkled with the remaining sesame seeds.

Lamb and Spinach Stuffed Onions

photo by Anna Williams

These are not only delicious but look incredible. Serve them for Shabbos dinner warm for extra special company.

Serves 6

Stuffed Onions
2 – 3 unpeeled 1½ pound sweet onions, like Vidalia, root ends trimmed 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces spinach
1½ pounds ground lamb
3 teaspoons ancho chile powder (I like ancho-chili powder but you can use chili powder if you do not have it)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
1-/2 cups beef broth, divided
1-1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup pareve whipping cream

1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the onions in a small baking dish, root ends down, and rub with olive oil. Add 1/2 inch of water to the dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until tender. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet. Add the spinach in batches, tossing until wilted. Transfer to a colander and squeeze out the water. Coarsely chop the spinach.

In the same skillet, cook the lamb over moderately high heat, breaking it up, until no pink remains, 3 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and add the ancho chile powder and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the spinach. Transfer the lamb filling to a large bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup of the beef broth and 3/4 cup of the crushed tomatoes.

Cut 1/2 inch off the top and bottom of the baked onions. Separate the layers, trying not to break them. You will need 10 onion cups: some large, some medium and 2 small. Finely chop enough of the onion scraps to make 1/2 cup; fold into the lamb filling and season with salt and pepper.

Stand the onion cups in a non-stick medium baking dish. Season the insides with salt and fill with the lamb.

In a large skillet, combine the pareve cream with the remaining beef broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over and around the onions.

MAKE THE TOPPING In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Mound the topping on the onions. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, until hot. Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 5 minutes, until the topping is crisp. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken Udon Soup

photo by Sang An

I could eat this soup everyday any time of year.

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package fresh shiitake mushrooms
4 cups chicken stock
6 (1/4-inch) slices peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 star anise, optional (I usually skip this)
6 ounces dried udon noodles (thick Japanese wheat noodles)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup sake or dry white wine
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions

Remove stems from mushrooms; reserve stems. Thinly slice mushroom caps; set aside. Combine mushroom stems, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, green onion and star anise in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain stock through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

Cook udon noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water;

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add reserved sliced mushroom caps to pan, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add minced ginger and minced garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add sake, and cook for 4 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add stock to pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add chicken, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and salt; simmer for 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated. Divide noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Add 1 1/2 cups soup to each bowl. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions.

Sautéed Chicken with Olive Tapenade

Chicken and olives are two of our favorite ingredients, thus together they are always a big hit. Use good quality olives if they are available in your area. If not any canned olive will still taste great. The olive tapenade can be served with fish like salmon, or halibut and is great on pita too.

1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 cup pittted olives of your choice
3 tablespoons pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon drained capers
1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cooking spray
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Place garlic clove in a food ­processor; process until finely chopped. Add olives, kalamata olives, and capers. Pulse 10 times or until very finely chopped. With processor on, add olive oil, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper to mixture through food chute; process until combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until done. Serve chicken with tapenade.

Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

photo by Francesco Tonelli

This is an easy to prepare and good all the time, go-to chocolate cake.

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons margarine
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a saucepan bring water, margarine, and 1/4 cup cocoa to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add soy milk, vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Combine margarine, soy milk, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar; stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and pecans. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.

Tater Tots Casserole

You’re right; it’s not gourmet. You’re right; it’s unbelievably simple. You’re right; it’s perfect for after Passover when all those people who said they couldn’t eat another morsel are actually hungry again! And you’re right; it’s also unbelievably delicious!

1 (32-ounce) package frozen tater tots
12 eggs (as if you didn’t use enough over Yom Tov!)
1 cup milk
1 (4-ounce) can fire-roasted diced green chiles
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 (8-ounce) package grated Monterey Jack cheese (spicy if you can find)
Sour cream
Avocado or Guacamole

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Arrange tater tots across bottom of dish (they don’t need to be in a single layer).
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, chiles, cumin, oregano, chili powder and garlic. Pour over potatoes. Bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over all. Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until cheese starts to brown (I like my cheese very browned!) Let stand briefly before cutting.
Serve with salsa, sour cream and avocado or guacamole.

Easiest Broccoli Kugel


What you need during Chol Hamoed are easy recipes. This takes the traditional broccoli kugel and reduces it to its most minimal steps.

1 (32 ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets, defrosted
1 tablespoon chicken consommé powder
1 tablespoon onion soup powder
1 cup water
4 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients except pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Purée. Stir in pine nuts, if using. Pour into 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake for about 1 hour, or until lightly browned.

Citrus Marinated Roasted Chicken

Too busy to cook? Try this easy and delicious chicken that we adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine. It’s quick and filled with flavor. I serve it midweek and sometimes on a quiet Shabbos evening.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
2 lemons, cut into wedges
2 oranges, cut into wedges
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup orange juice
8 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pour the olive oil into roasting pan large. Place chicken pieces in pans.

Scatter the lemon and orange wedges around the chicken pieces, but don’t put them on top of the chicken or they’ll interfere with browning.

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon and orange zest, both juice, garlic, oregano, soy sauce, honey, and pepper flakes. Pour the marinade evenly over the chicken. Cover with plastic and refrigerate, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sprinkle chicken with with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 375°F and continue to roast until the chicken is golden-brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Serve the chicken with the citrus wedges, passing the reduced pan juice at the table.

Quinoa Salad with Mustard Roasted Vegetables

Quinoa is my new favorite superfood. It is a protein-rich seed with a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture and somewhat of a nutty flavor. Although some consider it to be a grain, it is actually a relative to spinach and swiss chard, which is why some people eat it on Pesach. It is similar to couscous, with a chewier texture and more health benefits.

Much Thanks to GKC friend Chanie for sharing the recipe.

Chanie Apfelbaum keeps Busy in Brooklyn, blogging about her cooking, crafting and coping adventures. She combines her love of writing, photography and design to bring you original dishes and crafts that your whole family will enjoy.

Quinoa Salad with Mustard Roasted Vegetables

2 cups quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear, drained well
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Mustard Roasted Vegetables:

1 yellow zucchini, chopped
1 green zucchini, chopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 container cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp dijon mustard
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

For Quinoa: Heat up a pot with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add rinsed quinoa and saute for a few minutes until toasted and fragrant.
In a separate pot, boil broth with 1 tsp of salt. Add broth to quinoa. Simmer, covered, on a low flame, for 15 minutes.
Fluff with a fork.

For Roasted Vegetables: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix vegetables with garlic, oil, balsamic, mustard seeds, mustard, salt and pepper. Spread vegetables out on a baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until crisp-tender and tomatoes have burst (you can help them along by pressing gently with a fork).
Combine quinoa with vegetables and their juices. Mix in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

For Passover: Substitute Passover Mustard for Dijon Mustard and omit mustard seed.

Ojos de Haman Bread

Try this unique and spectacular bread for your Purim seudah – you will wow your kids and your guests!

(The Eyes of Haman)
By Debby Segura © 2008

Years ago, we visited the home of another young couple for a Purim Seudah. The couple was Moroccan and the woman was an accomplished traditional cook. To begin the meal, she brought out a beautiful Moroccan Purim bread called “Ojo de Haman”, crowned by a hard-boiled egg. One of the men at the table gamely plucked out the egg. He explained that this action symbolized the destruction of Haman in Megillat Esther. Well, I had never seen such a thing!

When I started baking bread I immersed myself in the study of all the different types of challah. I saw that several Sephardic communties have their own type of Purim breads and pastries in many different shapes and sizes, some with one egg, some with two. The first time I made a Purim bread, I made a bread with one hard boiled egg, much like the “ojo de Haman” made by my friend.

The second or third year I made it, I was invited to a large Purim Seudah. Rather than make many small “Ojo de Haman” breads, I decided to make one huge bread with two ojos, or eyes. I called it the “Ojos de Haman” and created a bread version of the head of Haman. People loved it! Kids ran to pluck out those eggs and vanquish Haman. And now, whenever we go out for our Purim Seudah, I know what I’ll be asked to bring!

Below is the recipe for “Ojos de Haman”. For a large Seudah, I triple the recipe. The recipe itself is a Challah recipe I have been using for years. Made in a food processor, this dough is quick and easy to make. Putting the “Ojos de Haman” together is a fun project. Just leave yourself 20 minutes or so to patschke with it!

Ojos de Haman
(The Eyes of Haman)

Makes 1 large bread
(Serves a group of 12-15)

5 cups Better for Bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 scant tablespoon (or 2 envelopes) Rapid Rise Yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg
Canola oil
1 ½ cup warm water
Pam, and flour, cornmeal or polenta to dust the pan.
2 dyed hard boiled eggs (I dye mine by putting brown onion skins in the water while they boil.)
Red fruit leather
Egg wash (made by whisking 1 raw egg with 1 tablespoon water) Slivered almonds
Poppy seeds
Sesame seeds

In the work bowl of a 14-cup food processor, place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a two cup glass measuring cup, place the egg and just enough canola oil to total ½ cup. Add to this 1 ½ cup warm water. Place the top on the processor, and turn it on. Pour in the water and, when the dough just forms one cohesive ball, allow the machine to continue running just 60 seconds to complete kneading.

Place the dough in a large mixing bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Rotate the dough to coat with the spray and cover the bowl of dough loosely with plastic wrap.

Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Punch the dough down to remove air bubbles. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust it with flour, cornmeal or polenta.

And now the fun begins! Did you ever play with Mr. Potato Head as a child? Well, Haman is a lot like that!

First, divide the dough into thirds. Cut about 1/4 of the first piece off, and form the rest into a round disc, about 4 inches across. This is the face. Place it just above the center of the prepared pan. Form the smaller piece into a snake that tapers at both ends and place it on the top of the head.

Divide the second piece of dough into quarters.

Form the remaining piece into a square and then cut it in half to form 2 triangles. Place these two ears on either side of the face.

• Take the first quarter. Roll it into a 7″ long snake and make it into a uni-brow.
• Take the second quarter and cut it in half. Shape one half like a long potato. This is the nose. Center it on the face. Place the two eggs on either side of it and press them gently into the dough. Pull a walnut-sized piece of dough from the next piece and form 4 skinny 5″ long snakes. Use these small snakes to make and “X” over each eye.
• Divide this piece into a smaller and a larger half. Make the smaller piece into a short snake with tapered ends. Cut a slit into the middle. This is the mouth. Make the remaining piece into a large snake. This is the mustachio. Center it under the tip of the nose and curl up the ends. Take the mouth and place it beneath the mustachio to finish the face.

Divide the last piece into eighths and make each into a snake.

These make up the beard. Affix each to the bottom of the face. Spray the entire creation with Pam and gently cover it to rise for 45 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Paint the surface of the bread with the egg wash and decorate the beard, eyebrow and mustachio with poppy seeds and the horns with sesame. Use fruit roll for the tongue and just generally have fun decorating! Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then raise the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes or so more.

Cool on a rack. Chag Purim Sameach!

Bison Shepherd’s Pie

From GKC friend and fabulous chef Levana Kirschenbaum of

One of my favorite comfort foods, made affordably lean with the choice of bison: tomorrow’s meat I hope, even predict! Although the classic Shepherd’s Pie features mashed potatoes, if you would rather substitute other white vegetables it would be perfectly delicious too: Celery root, parsnips, turnips etc…

6 large potatoes, cut into large chunks
1 cup soy or other dairy-free milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Good pinch nutmeg
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
4 ribs celery
2 pounds ground bison, beef or turkey
¼ cup tomato paste
Optional: 1 cup frozen peas or corn, or a combination
Ground pepper, oregano and ground bay leaf to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bring water to boil in a large pot, add the potatoes and cook until tender. While still hot, drain them thoroughly, add the milk and seasoning and mash them thoroughly. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large skillet. In a food processor, mince the onion, garlic, carrot and celery, and add to the skillet. Saute until the mixture is translucent, and add the bison. Saute until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the tomato paste and seasonings, and frozen veggies if using.

Spread the meat mixture in a 9×13-inch baking dish, and spread the potato mixture carefully on top. Spray the top with vegetable spray. Bake 30 minutes, until the top is golden. Cut into squares and serve hot.

For more recipes from Levana go to

Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

From GKC friend and fabulous chef Levana Kirschenbaum of

You can stuff artichoke bottoms with virtually anything you like: meat, fish, rice, vegetables, cheese, breadcrumbs: The latter is what I am choosing to go with in this recipe, just so I can let the artichoke be the main star.

¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, quartered
4 large cloves garlic
2 ribs celery, peeled
1 bunch flat parsley
6-8 sprigs dill, fronds and stems
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons capers
3 cups fresh bread crumbs, gluten-free OK
Salt and pepper to taste
14-16 large frozen artichoke bottoms, no need to thaw before using.

Cooking liquid:
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 good pinches saffron


Heat the oil in large skillet. In a food processor, coarsely grind the onion, garlic, celery, parsley and dill, and add to the skillet. Sauté the mixture until translucent. Add all but last ingredients, and mix thoroughly, adding a few drops water if necessary to form a thick paste. Fill the artichokes with the mixture, using it all up. Bring the cooking liquid ingredients to boil, and place the bottoms stuffing side up in the skillet. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook covered 20 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a platter, and look at the liquid left in the skillet: if it is too thin reduce to thicken, and pour over the artichokes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

For more recipes from Levana go to

Lamb and Pine Nut-Stuffed Grape Leaves

From GKC friend and fabulous chef Levana Kirschenbaum of

This treat might cure you of all misguided urges you may have to open a can and find a dozen insipid ready-to-eat grape leaf rolls: Instead, spend a few minutes on the preparation of these fabulous gems, and enjoy them with family and friends! You can stuff the leaves with anything- meat, fish or vegetarian – but today this filling is the star!

1/4 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic
1 large onion, quartered
1 small bunch flat parsley
¼ cup mint leaves, packed
1 pound ground lamb
1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and diced small
1/2 cup golden or black raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (325 degree oven, 10-12 minutes). Skip if you are avoiding nuts
Good pinch saffron
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) jar grape leaves, separated and rinsed
1 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil in a skillet. In a food processor, finely grind the garlic. Add the onion, parsley and and mint, and grind coarsely. Add the ground mixture to the skillet, and saute until translucent. Add the lamb and tomato, and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add all remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place a tablespoon stuffing at the bottom center of a leaf (smaller leaves: Make them overlap to get a larger more workable surface) . Roll once, fold the sides towards to center, and roll all the way up. Place seam side down in a pan just large enough to fit the leaves snugly in one layer. Repeat with the remaining leaves and stuffing. whisk the juice, tomato paste and oil in a little bowl, and pour evenly over the leaves. Bake about 40 minutes, until the juices are reduced and the leaves look nicely browned on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For more recipes from Levana go to