Schlissel Challah

Here’s how I know that the Almighty has a sense of humor. On the Shabbos after Passover, just when you think you may never want to see the inside of a kitchen again, there is a particular custom to bake schlissel challah. For those whose Yiddish is a little rusty, schlissel means key – and baking a key inside the challah is meant to be a propitious sign for livelihood. That’s the humor. We all want a decent livelihood so how can we ignore this opportunity? Here’s one of our favorite challah recipes to make your forced return to the kitchen especially delicious. If this doesn’t open up the gates of income, I don’t know what will!


Perfect Challah with Sweet Crumble Topping
This is the most delicious challah ever – promise. The only “complaint” expressed is about starting the meal with dessert!

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups warm water
2 cups sugar
2 cups oil
8 eggs
2 tablespoons salt
12-14 cups bread flour (hi-gluten flour)

In a large bowl pour water over yeast. As it is proofing (bubbling), add sugar. After yeast has tripled in size and is no longer bubbling (about 5 to 10 minutes), add oil, eggs and salt. Whisk everything together. Then begin stirring in flour, 3-4 cups at a time. Continue until it is no longer possible to stir in anymore. Take dough out of the bowl and on a clean work surface, knead dough until it is elastic, about 5 minutes. If it is sticky, add more flour. Sprinkle oil around bowl and roll dough in oil to keep it moist. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Punch dough down, braid and place in greased pans. Cover again and let braided challahs rise for another hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle loaves with streusel topping. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Optional Streusel Topping:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup margarine, cut into pieces (alternatively, you can use ½ canola oil)

Mix sugar, flour, and margarine with fork or in food processor to form a crumble. Sprinkle on top of challah before baking. (I usually double it and just keep remainder in the freezer to use week after week)

Purim is Here

Purim is here…what are you making? What are you sending? And what are you drinking? Share your favorite Purim recipe for the Favorite Purim recipe contest for a chance to win a cookbook

It’s funny though that just as soon as we bring in and send out all this candy, we cannot wait to use it up and get it out to get ready for Passover. So In addition to all these great Purim ideas, GKC has got the answers to what to do with leftover candy in 2011. Last year we suggested:
Candy Bar Blondies
Tootsie Roll Cheesecake
Hershey Bar Banana Treat
Potato Chip Baked Chicken

This year we’ve added a few more suggestions Leftover Candy Cupcakes and Leftover Candy Chocolate Bark. (Remember the local schools love wrapped, marked candy donations to use as treats for the kids – check with your local school. In New York, JEP (the Jewish Enrichment Program) collects the wrapped, marked candy at many of the schools in the tri-state area to use for their kiruv programs. If you do not have a collection at your school you can mail it to them at JEP 110 Rockaway Turnpike, Lawrence, NY 11559.)

Leftover Candy Chocolate Bark

1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips
3 (2.1-ounce) Butterfinger candy bars cut into irregular 1-inch pieces, or other candy bar of choice
3 (1.4-ounce) heath toffee candy bars, cut into irregular ½ inch pieces or other candy of choice
8 (.55 ounce) peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges, or other candy bar of choice
¼ cup honey-roasted peanuts
3 ounces high quality white chocolate, chopped
Reese’s Pieces and/or M & M’s

Line baking sheet with foil. Stir chocolate chips in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Pour chocolate onto foil, spread to ¼ inch thickness (about 12 x 10 inch rectangle). Sprinkle with Butterfinger candy, toffee, peanut butter cups, and nuts, making sure all pieces touch melted chocolate to adhere (or use whatever candy you have leftover).

Put white chocolate in heavy small saucepan. Stir constantly over very low heat until chocolate is melted and warm (not hot) to touch. Remove from heat. Dip spoon into chocolate, wave from side to side over bark, creating zigzag lines. Scatter Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s over, making sure candy touches melted chocolate.

Chill bark until firm, 30 minutes. Slide foil with candy onto work surface. Peel off foil and cut bark into irregular pieces.

Homemade Purim Gifts

Homemade Purim gifts are not only made by adults but also with kids. GKC loves cooking with kids so we tested these ideas on our own children. They each got rave reviews and looked super elegant and sophisticated when wrapped in clear cello bags and tied with big ribbons (my kids like to do that part too). We think your friends will never believe that these gourmet mishloach manot gifts were made by your kids. Try them all.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn
Easy Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

Crunchy Nutty Caramel Popcorn


3 quarts freshly popped popcorn
1 cup cashews (or other nut of choice), unsalted and roasted
1 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts
1 cup whole almonds or pecans
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup margarine
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the popped corn and nuts in the pan, mixing well. Place in the heating oven while preparing the glaze.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, orange zest and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until l the sugar dissolves. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla and baking soda. Gradually pour the glaze over the popped corn mixture, stirring to coat well.

Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven. Using a metal spatula, free the popcorn from the bottom of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan.

Break into clumps. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Easy Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

Although it is not common to send a Purim gift that is dairy, this fudge is just too good not to post. If it’s PC in your community to send dairy items, try it and wrap each piece individually in tissue with decorative ribbons on both ends. If dairy Shaloch Manot are not for you, save this one to your recipe box and make it for Shavuos.

Makes 8 dozen pieces

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups toasted walnut, pecan, macadamia, or other nuts, chopped, optional
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
20 large marshmallows
4 cups sugar
2 (5-ounce) cans evaporated milk

Combine the chocolate pieces, nuts (if using), butter, and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.

Place the marshmallows, sugar, and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour the marshmallow mixture into the chocolate mixture; beat constantly until creamy. Quickly pour into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting into pieces. Serve at room temperature.

More Homemade Mishloach Manot Ideas

As promised, more homemade mishloach manot ideas. Tell us what you have come up with. As you know we love to post reader-submitted recipes and our readers love to try them. What is your favorite homemade gift item? Submit it here.

Potato Chip Chocolate Toffee
Sweet, Savory and a Little Spicy Chutney
Mixed Nut Brittle
Orange Ricotta Pound Cake
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pretzel Pops
Mini Cinnamon Buns
Infused Vodkas

Potato Chip Chocolate Toffee

2 sticks unsalted margarine
5 cups thick cut potato chips
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set 1 cup potato chips aside. Break the remaining chips in half if they are large.

Combine the margarine, sugar, vanilla extract and vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 4 cups chips, then immediately pour onto the baking sheet and spread in a thin layer. Gently press the reserved 1 cup chips on tops of the toffee and let cool.

Put about ¾ of the chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl and microwave 30 seconds. Stir, then continue to microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth, about 4 minutes. Drizzle the chocolate over the toffee. Set aside to harden, about 20 minutes. Break the toffee into pieces.

Mixed Nut Brittle

2 cups sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup unsalted margarine
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup pine nuts
1 cup sliced almonds

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.

Mix sugar and corn syrup in large heavy saucepan. Add margarine and corn syrup. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and margarine melts. Attach a candy thermometer to pan side. Increase heat, and cook without stirring until mixture is deep golden brown, bubbling thickly and thermometer registers 350 degrees, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove thermometer. Using large wooden spoon, stir in salt and then all nuts.

Turn mixture out onto the prepared sheet. Using large offset spatula, spread to ¼ inch thickness. Cool completely. Break into pieces of desired size. Can be made 2 weeks ahead and store in airtight container at room temperature.

Sweet, Savory and a Little Spicy Fruit Chutney


Use on roasted turkey, lamb, chicken or even as a dip on your favorite chip. Divine!

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 shallot, chopped
1 pinch chili flake
1 Serrano pepper, chopped (or jalapeno pepper for a milder version)
3 pears, peeled and diced
4 apples, peeled and diced
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
1-3/4 cups Dijon mustard
Salt

In a large heavy bottomed pot, over high heat, add the sugar, water and juice of half a lemon and cook until a medium-dark caramel is achieved, about 8 minutes. Add shallots and the chilies to the caramel. Immediately add all of the fruit, wine, and bay leaf. Cook gently until the fruits are tender and remove from heat. Add the Dijon when the fruits have just been removed from the heat, taste for salt. Let cool to room temperature. Store refrigerated in a covered container or in individual canning jars.

Homemade Gourmet Mishloach Manot Ideas

Each year, we rack our brains trying to think of the most creative, delicious and cost-effective ways to send mishloach manos to friends and family members. Purim baskets have become more than just a way to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloach manos; they are a way to connect with the people we love, show our creative sides and bring smiles to the neighborhood. But for many of us, the sheer amount of mishloach manot we need to prepare makes this a rather exhausting task, and one that we would much rather outsource somehow, even at great expense. These homemade mishloach manot ideas will not only help you save money as you cook your own food, but they will turn the “work” into a fun experience for the whole family. Each year GKC reviews and tests numerous recipes to find the ones that we think make great gourmet gifts. Try these out and stay tuned for more ideas next week.

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pretzel Pops
Mini Cinnamon Buns
Infused Vodkas

Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls


½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup plus1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon margarine, room temperature
1 cup crushed pretzels
2 cups chocolate chips

Stir together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add margarine and stir in the crushed pretzels. Form into 1 inch balls. Freeze for 30 minutes. Melt chocolate in pot or in a double boiler over a very low flame, stirring often or alternatively, in the microwave cook it in 30-second intervals and stir after each interval.

Dip the balls in the melted chocolate and refrigerate until set.

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Adapted from original recipe by Giada De Laurentis
1-1/2 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Optional: Include a card that says Serving Suggestions

1. Eat in the morning, afternoon, evening or all of the above
2. Definitely enjoy with coffee or tea.
3. Extra delicious with strawberries. Instructions: Remove stems, wash and quarter 1 pint strawberries
Place the strawberries in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.
To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze
1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) pareve tofutti cream cheese or cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons pareve milk, soymilk, or regular milk
Melted margarine or butter, for brushing

Directions
After the dough comes together, on a well-floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 15 by 11-inch rectangle. In a mixing bowl add the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Spread the softened unsalted margarine over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough tightly ending with the seam-side down. Cut 10 slices each about 1/2-inch thick.

Place in 2 (9 by 13-inch) greased baking dishes and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the rolls to rise in a warm environment for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Brush with melted margarine before baking

Bake at 400 degrees F until the tops are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted margarine and cool on cooling rack. Drizzle with prepared pareve cream cheese glaze.

Pareve Cream Cheese Glaze: In a mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, pareve cream cheese, margarine, pareve milk, and vanilla.

Rapid Rolls
3 (0.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted margarine, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 cups flour, plus more if needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey.

On low speed, add 1/2 cup melted margarine, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Portion the dough into 24 even servings. Form the rolls into desired shape and let rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size. Place the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet. Brush the rolls with melted margarine.

Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted margarine, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Chocolate Truffles

You don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day to notice that chocolate is in the air!! (Well, flowers too but this is a cooking site!) I was debating whether to try my hand at some molten chocolate cakes or go for the more direct experience – Godiva, anyone (for chalav yisrael options, try Le Chocolatier. My favorite chocolates are usually the truffles (well, truth be told, I like the caramel and nut options also…) so I decided to save the trip to the store and try to make my own. It was a little messy but the results were worth it.

I made Mocha Truffles, Peanut Butter Truffles and Chocolate Truffles. After dipping in chocolate, truffles can be left alone or rolled in crushed nuts, coconut, sprinkles, cocoa, powdered sugar…

Mocha Truffles

2 (12 ounce) packages semisweet chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) package tofutti cream cheese
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons water

Melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Stir in tofutti cream cheese, coffee and water until completely blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill for about 1 hour. Dip in chocolate coating; then roll in topping of your choice if desired.

Chocolate Coating:
2 cups (1 12-ounce package) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Melt in microwave and stir until smooth.

Peanut Butter Truffles

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Cream together margarine, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix in remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Shape into balls and place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Chill for 1 hour before dipping in chocolate coating and rolling in other toppings (chopped peanuts works nicely here)

Plain Chocolate Truffles


There is actually nothing plain about this taste.

2 cups (1 12-ounce package) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup pareve whip
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat chocolate chips and pareve whip in microwave. Stir until smooth. Stir in margarine and vanilla. Cool, cover and refrigerate for a few hours. Shape into balls and place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate for an additional hour before dipping in chocolate coating and rolling in toppings.

New Kosher Restaurant Guide on GKC!!


How many times have you been travelling and desperately needed a complete list of kosher restaurants in the area? Or even just wondered whether any new kosher restaurants have opened up in your hometown? Most big cities will have some information available online for their kosher communities, but the hassle of having to look up a location’s individual list of kosher restaurants can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially since even if you manage to find that, you still won’t know whether you can trust the certification, or even if it’s any good.

Have no fear – Gourmet Kosher Cooking is proud to introduce our new user-friendly comprehensive Kosher Restaurant Guide!

Here are some of the helpful and unique features you’ll find in our guide:
o Search by state and city (USA and some countries like Canada and France – more international locations coming soon!)
o Certification/hashgacha information WITH contacts and phone numbers
o Meat vs. dairy status
o Short description of type of food
o Location and phone number
o Hours of operation
o Website
o Online menu where available
o User comments for reviews

Whether you’re looking for a kosher restaurant in NYC, New Jersey kosher restaurants, kosher restaurants in LA, Chicago, Boston, even far-off states like Nebraska and Kentucky – you’ll find a place to eat using our guide. And of course, if you find a great spot that’s not yet on the guide, let us know about it so we can continue to expand and include every option.

You’ll find the Kosher Restaurant Guide on the right-hand side of your Gourmet Kosher Cooking screen. You can start searching right away by selecting a state from the drop-down menu, or click the link to the main page of the guide. Don’t forget to leave your comments and reviews if you’ve tried one of the kosher restaurants on the list – we’re all curious to know what you think.

Mandelbroit or Biscotti

Whatever you call them, they taste great and I am addicted. I make my “famous” Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Mandelbroit for almost any occasion – mishloach manos, bake sales, thank yous, because it’s Tuesday…But I also like to experiment with new and different kinds. And I have to confess that I am pretty much insatiable. Some of my recent favorites and the ones now filling my freezer include:

Ginger Mandelbroit
Snickerdoodle Biscotti (I’m just varying the name!)
Chocolate Biscotti
Apricot-Almond Mandelbroit

And I really wish Pat’s restaurant in Los Angeles would share their recipe. They’re the perfect dessert – not too sweet (so obviously not too many calories) and lots of crunch and flavor. If anyone can wheedle it out of them…

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

½ cup margarine, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/4 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
Cinnamon-Sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugars until flurry. Add baking powder and spices. Beat in eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. On a low speed, mix in flour and nuts. Divide dough in half and shape into logs. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Beat together egg white and water and brush atop flattened logs. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes – until lightly browned. Cool slightly, slice and return to oven for about 10 minutes – until center is just dry. Cool on wire rack.

Chocolate Biscotti

½ cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons soy milk or nondairy creamer
½ cup cocoa powder
2-3/4 cups flour
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (regular or miniature)
½ cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugar. Add baking powder, eggs, yolk and creamer. Mix well. Beat in cocoa and flour. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Divide dough in half and shape into logs. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Combine egg white and water and brush on top of logs. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes and cool slightly. Slice and return to oven for about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Ginger Mandelbroit

½ cup margarine, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons ginger (ground)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
½ cup minced crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugar. Beat in molasses and eggs. On a low speed, add flour, ground ginger and baking powder. Mix well Stir in fresh ginger and crystallized ginger. Take a deep breath and enjoy the aroma. Divide dough in half and form into logs. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. Cool briefly and slice. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes – until inside is just dry. Col on rack.