There is absolutely no reason why kosher food and desserts have to be anything less than what everyone else is eating. Share with me your baking and cooking sucesses, challenges, and disasters. I will share my recipes, shabbat and holiday menu planning and my love of food.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pledge 25 Jewish Baking Class

Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase is celebrating the 25 years of Rabbi Lyle Fishman. To commemorate this milestone the synangogue launched "Pledge 25" asking each member the pledge 25 of Jewish learning or activity during the next year. I was asked to do a Jewish baking class and we did two classes. During the first class, we had about 16 people and baked challah and babka. Everyone made their own mini babkas to take home. I enjoyed watching several people 80 plus rolling out their babkas!

Yesterday we made rugelach and doughnuts for chanukah. I presented them with what I call the rugelach filling buffet: several jams, nuts, dried fruit, coconut, etc. with which to fill their rugelach rolls. The doughnuts were way too good. During the class I demonstrated how to make the dough that I cooked after everyone left. We ended up with about 30 doughnuts sitting around the kitchen that had to be eaten within 24 hours, or they get stale, PLUS I knew I had to make a fresh batch Friday for Chanukah. I keep hoping to get tired of eating them but that hasn't happened yet. Happy Chanukah!

Friendship Circle

The Chabad Lubavitch organization has a national program called "Friendship Circle" that matches up teens to special needs kids and does different projects with them. I ran two cooking programs for the group during November as part of their Cooking Circle program. On the first day, we made chicken matzoh ball soup, a chopped salad with creamy dijon dressing and an easy fruit tart. The second day we made cheese borekas, pizzas and the kids assembled and decorated their own layer cakes. I learned from working with special needs kids at Camp Ramah last summer that this group LOVES cake decorating. I gave them stacks of vanilla cake slices, bowls of icing and pastry bags with several icing colors and let them do what they want. Many adults are afraid of pastry bags, but not these kids. Although the result was more icing than cake, the kids had fun designing their cakes and squeezing the icing out of the bags. The helpers, including my daughter Emily, had a great time too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I have just returned from a succesful week of cooking events before over 100 people in South Florida. I was hired by three different Chabad Lubavitch groups to do a cooking demonstration and tasting of a full meal. It was hard work, but I had an army of helpers and the food turned out great, which is often a challenge in other people's kitchens. The crowd ranged in age from 13-85. I met interesting people including a teenager who asked me to sign her Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen book that I edited and a woman who asked to test my parve flan for my upcoming book.

My mom, who had never seen me do a cooking demo before a large group, was able to watch me and kvell. I didn't share my usual story about the fact that the only home baked cakes I ever got growing up were the cake mixes mom made on Passover. I did like those brownies . . .

For two of the events, in Parkland and Downtown Miami, I prepared the following menu:

Caramelized Onion and Sweet Potato Soup

Whole Chicken with Dried Fruit Stuffing

Crunchy Quinoa

Pear and Almond Tart

For the event in Palm Beach Gardens, I substituted my Brisket Osso Buco for the Chicken.

Some comments:

"The demo was informative and entertaining and your food absolutely amazing. I keep getting great feedback from the women that were there.. they absolutely loved you!"

"I just wanted to thank you again for the amazing event last night. The ladies really loved it and had a great time."

Here is the sweet potato soup recipe. You may think this recipe calls for a crazy amount of onions. Trust me, they cook down. Start cooking on high heat, and once they onions brown, turn the heat down a little every few minutes. When you think the onions are brown enough, cook another 5 minutes. You will want to use an immersion blender to puree the soup and keep the blender on for at least 3 minutes straight. If the soup is very thick, which can happen because your sweet potatoes could be bigger than mine, add a little hot water and puree again.

Caramelized Onion & Sweet Potato Soup serves 10 people

1/4 cup canola oil 4 lbs onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
8 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
3 large sweet potatoes cut in chunks

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook on medium to high heat, mixing often until onions are golden brown. This takes about 30 minutes.

Add garlic, salt, pepper and cook 5 minutes more. Add the sweet potatoes and water/stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 40 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Cool slightly.
Purée using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender or food processor until the soup is completely smooth. Taste for seasonings and add salt or white pepper as needed.

Florida Kosher food tip

Eat at the Gelato Cafe in Boca -- they have delicious soups, salads and sandwiches and absolutely fabulous gelato. The owner let me try a few flavors, including mojito flavored sorbet. Yum.