3 Love Potions for Tu B’Av

By dvdp.tumblr.com

By dvdp.tumblr.com

Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, is believed to be a fortuitous time to find one’s bashert, or “soulmate.”

Throughout history, people have tried to help move the process along by concocting love potions.

This year, the holiday begins at sunset on August 11. Below are three of the most popular “love potions.” [Read more…]

The Ultimate Brownie

browniesWe have been having a tough time in Israel these past weeks. Sirens have had us rushing to shelters, and the country is in turmoil.

Let’s face it, when we are stressed out, food is a great comfort. When we are talking comfort food, how can chocolate not immediately come to mind?

Chocolate brownies are a great way to deliver the king of all sweets. I have been through many brownie recipes.  Some I like because they are very quick to make, others, because they are just decadent and over the top. Recently, I found a recipe that I think has to be the Holy Grail of brownie recipes. It is everything a real classic brownie should be. It uses lots of chocolate and then a little more, and the result is one of the most chocolaty, lush, rich brownies you will ever eat.

So for times like these, as well as for times that are less stressful but just call for a good brownie, here is my recipe for Lush Chocolate Brownies.

Lush Chocolate Brownies

  • 275 g (10 oz) dark chocolate
  • 225 g (8 oz) butter or margarine
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (225 g/8 oz) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 115 g (4 oz) or just under 1 cup self raising flour
  • 115 g (4 oz) chocolate chips (dark or white)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F)
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat till smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla, and then stir in the melted chocolate.
  4. Fold in the flour, chocolate chips and pecans.
  5. Line a 30×20 cm (12×8 in) baking tin with baking paper, and spray with cooking spray. Pour the mixture in and bake for 35-40 minutes. Do not over-bake if you want a gooey brownie.
  6. Leave to cool and then cut into squares.

Makes 12 large brownies.

Salt Water Taffy: Summer In A Candy Wrapper

By Ronit Treatman

Nothing says summer at the Jersey shore more than a mouthful of sticky salt water taffy.

Salt water taffy originated in Atlantic City in the summer of 1883. That year, a powerful storm caused flooding, soaking all the taffy for sale in the shops along the boardwalk. As the storm subsided, children still wanted to purchase taffy. One enterprising store owner named David Bradley jokingly told them he could sell them “salt water taffy.” When the customers tasted the ocean-soaked candy, they loved it. A Jersey shore summer tradition was born.

You can make your own salt water taffy at home. You won’t need any ocean water, just some sea salt.

Cherry Taffy by Monica Nguyen

Cherry Taffy by Monica Nguyen

Salt Water Taffy

Adapted from The Exploratorium 

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • A few drops of grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or blueberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place the sugar and cornstarch in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the water, sea salt, corn syrup, and butter.
  3. Keep stirring the mixture until it begins to boil.
  4. Continue cooking the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit (check with a candy thermometer).
  5. As the taffy is cooking, dip a pastry brush in warm water and paint the inner sides of the pot with it.
  6. When the taffy reaches a temperature of 270 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the fire.
  7. Mix in a few drops of fruit juice for color, and the vanilla extract, and baking soda.
  8. Pour the hot taffy onto a buttered cookie sheet.
  9. Once the taffy is cool enough to be handled, butter your hands.
  10. Pull the taffy for about 10 minutes to aerate it.
  11. Roll the pulled taffy into a rope.
  12. Butter a sharp knife, and cut the rope into candy-sized pieces (about ½ inch).
  13. When the salt water taffy has cooled completely, wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting the ends.

Make Food Fun for Kids!

— by Sarina Roffé

We get so many of our eating habits from when we are children, that it is important to teach them good habits at a young age. It seems that childhood obesity has become a national epidemic. In my granddaughter’s school this year, junk food was forbidden with lunch. The rule was a protein, a veggie and a fruit. No chips, pretzels or cookies. Lunches became more difficult when the school became a peanut free zone, and we now had to think harder about lunches. The no snack rule permeated the school and because it was a school-wide, the children learned not to expect junk food. Teaching children these good habits helps them to live a healthier lifestyle. It also helps your children avoid being overweight.

There are many ways to make healthy food fun for your child. A few hints. Make sandwiches fun by using cookie cutters and letting them cut out shapes in their sandwiches. Slice carrots and use cherry tomatoes or other veggies to make faces on a sandwich. Use strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and banana slices to make food art – a butterfly, or caterpillar. Make faces out of rice cakes using apple slices for ears. Make orange juice ice pops during the summer. As parents, it is our responsibility to promote healthy eating in our children so that it becomes a habit. Check out the recipes on our website and in our app, due out later this summer.Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisine is a collection of kosher family recipes derived from Esther Cohen Salem, Sarina’s grandmother, and Renee Salem Missry, her mother. The authentic recipes in the cooking app were handed down from mother to daughter with love and are traditional foods found in the Levant.

Book Review: “Culinary Expeditions” Are Always Appropriate

Culinary-Expeditions_FrontCover_Nov20-1

By Ronit Treatman

The members of the Women’s Committee of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology were inspired to collaborate on one of the best books I have had the pleasure of acquiring this year.

Culinary Expeditions introduces its readers to culinary artifacts from around the world, culled from the Museum’s amazing collection. Each artifact is accompanied by a recipe that reflects the culture of its provenance. All proceeds from the sales of this book will directly benefit the Museum.

In our increasingly internationalized world, this book is the perfect gift for any occasion. Learning about each others’ cultures and foods helps us all connect with each other.

[Read more…]

Fried Tomatoes and Eggs

— by Yvette Manessis Corporon

Love for food and cooking is in my Greek woman DNA.

There is nothing better than picking earthy ripe tomatoes from the vine and cooking them over an open fire with freshly hatched eggs from the hen house. But since not all of us live on a Greek island, tomatoes and eggs from the grocery store will be just as delicious.

Please note one thing: No real Greek cook ever measures. Ask a Greek for a recipe, and the closest thing to measurements you will get is “a little of this, a splash of that, and some of this too, for taste.”

Recipe after the jump.

  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • a few splashes of extra virgin olive oil
  • a few leaves of fresh basil or a sprig of fresh thyme, torn into small pieces
  • salt to taste
  1. Dice the tomatoes and drain the extra liquid.
  2. Coat a medium-sized pan with olive oil and add the tomatoes. Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring a few times until they lose their firm texture and are now mushy and thick. It usually takes between 5 and 7 minutes.
  3. Take a spoon and clear four spaces in the pan, pushing the tomatoes aside, so you have places to put the eggs.
  4. Crack the eggs into the spaces you created, and cover the pan. Cook on low heat between 2 and 3 minutes, depending upon how firm you like your eggs cooked. (I like my yolks soft, but not runny.)
  5. Remove the cover, and when the eggs are just about done, add the basil leaves or thyme.
  6. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Remove from the pan and serve. You can serve with some crusty, toasted bread for dipping.

Baked Ricotta for Shavuot


Photo by jamesonf.

— by Ronit Treatman

Shavuot, the celebration of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, is a cheese lover’s dream.

Why cheese? The laws of kashrut did not exist before the Torah, so all of the cooking utensils were impure. Jews had to learn how to perform a kosher ritual slaughter before they could consume kosher meat. Therefore, it was easier to make dairy meals.  

The Ancient Greeks are credited with inventing the first cheesecake. It was as basic as possible: just baked white cheese.

A perfect cheese for baking is ricotta: an Italian cheese made from the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled, called whey. Ricotta means “recooked” in Italian.

Recipe after the jump.
The whey for ricotta traditionally comes from the milk of a sheep, goat, cow or Italian water buffalo. An easy and versatile way to entertain your guests during Shavuot is to start with ricotta al forno, “baked ricotta,” as a neutral canvas.

Baked Ricotta

This is the most elementary cheesecake. You may serve it as a sweet or savory dish by spooning the appropriate topping over it. The savory toppings should be presented with warm, fresh, crusty bread on the side.  

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour the ricotta into an ovenproof casserole dish coated with vegetable oil. Spread the cheese evenly in the dish.
  3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Savory Topping Ideas:

  • Roasted red and green peppers, minced cilantro, and minced garlic tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Caramelized onions and sage.
  • Zest from one lemon, fresh thyme, salt, black pepper.
  • Roasted tomatoes tossed with fresh basil leaves, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
  • Roasted asparagus tossed with extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper.
  • Artichoke hearts sautéed in olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and black pepper.
  • Green olives, tomatoes, and minced garlic sautéed in olive oil with white wine, salt, and black pepper.

Sweet Topping Ideas:

  • Wildflower honey.
  • Fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
  • One pound of peaches poached in 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of bourbon.
  • Melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • Two sliced bananas sautéed in one teaspoon of butter, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of rum.
  • Two tablespoons of orange blossom water, 1 teaspoon of sugar, a few strands of saffron, 1 cardamom pod, and a handful of pistachio nuts heated together.  
  • Fresh cherries (1 cup) simmered in 2 tablespoons water, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, a few drops of almond extract, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

The Perfect Greek Side Dish, Appetizer or Sauce

— by Yvette Manessis Corporon

I have a lot of “go-to” traditional dishes in my repertoire, but the one of the things I am asked to make again and again is also one of the easiest.

Tzatziki is the perfect side dish, appetizer or sauce. It is very easy to make and can be used in many different ways, including a dip for pita bread, or as a sauce for any meat or fish.

My recipe for tzatziki is below, and I still can’t bring myself to do precise measurements. It drives all of my measure-loving American friends crazy. But sorry, this is about as close as I can get.

Recipe after the jump.

  • 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt — you can use a 17.6 oz. container of Fage 2% Greek Yogurt (my personal favorite).
  • 1/2 of an English cucumber or 1 large regular cucumber (I prefer the English cucumber; it has a firmer texture than a regular cucumber.)
  • 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a few tablespoons of vinegar, I prefer white balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • salt
  1. Put the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Peel the cucumber.
  3. Grate the cucumber and place the pulp in a dish towel or in several paper towels. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Dump the dried pulp in the bowl and mix.
  4. Mince or grate 1 clove of fresh garlic and add to the bowl. You can add the second clove depending on how potent you like the flavor.
  5. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  6. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of vinegar. I prefer more vinegar, as I like my tzatziki tangy.
  7. Add salt to taste
  8. Mix everything well. You can serve right away, but I like to refrigerate for at least an hour to bring out the flavors.

Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and author. She is currently a senior producer with the syndicated entertainment news show, EXTRA. She is the author of When the Cypress Whispers.

4 Creative Foods to Roast on a Stick for Lag BaOmer

— by Ronit Treatman

Lag BaOmer is a celebration of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132-136 CE. The Roman troops used bonfires as military signals on hilltops, and so the Jews were not allowed to light them. In Israel it is traditional to light the once-forbidden bonfires and to roast delicious snacks over them.

(Don’t know how to light a bonfire? Find out at Survivaltek.)

Four bonfire ideas after the jump.
1) Halloumi Cheese

This Cypriot cheese is made from sheep’s milk. It has a high melting point, which makes it perfect for roasting. The fire gives this cheese a delicious, crackly crust. It maintains its firm texture when it’s grilled. Its charred, salty flavor is very satisfying.

2) Bread

Prepackaged dough makes roasting bread on a stick effortless. Just place the raw dough on a stick, and cook over the heat of the flames. The fire gives it a distinctive smoky flavor.

3) Kosher “Chorizo”

Chorizo is a type of sausage from the Iberian Peninsula. Smoked red peppers are mixed with raw meat and then placed in a casing. This is what  gives chorizo its special flavor.

4) Apples

Apples roasted over a fire are called “singing apples.” This is because they make whistling noises while they cook. The heat caramelizes the sugar in the peel, giving them a beautiful bronze color. These apples taste like apple pie on a stick.