The High Holidays are Around the Corner


The High Holidays are around the corner.  I know; I don’t believe it either.  Isn’t it still summer? The kids are still around (reminding me of the line in Pride and Prejudice, “You have delighted us long enough!”) and we don’t even have the list of school supplies.  Yet three weeks from today is Rosh HaShanah and it’s not too soon to begin menu planning.  We are putting together a great new selection of recipes for this year’s chagim but please check our indexes from 2010 and 2011 for some other great ideas. One of the things we like to do is play around with the simanim and whip up special dishes to highlight the experience. Here are some of our past favorites:

Rosh Hashanah Salad
Spiced Pumpkin Soup
Apple Challah
Leek Patties
Coconut Date Balls
Pomegranate Sweet Custard Tart

You are now well on your way to creating a sweet new year!

A Special Recommendation


It’s official.  This July is the hottest month on record.  But we don’t need the newspaper to tell us that.  We experience it every time we walk outside.  We frequently experience it even when we stay indoors!  And the last thing we feel like doing in over 90 degree weather is cooking.  Even die-hard GKC staff are feeling a little wilted in this heat.  So we have a special recommendation this week.  Visit our restaurant section, find your state and city and see what’s available.  This is the time to either go out to eat or bring something in. Sometimes it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  And for those who still feel like cooking, you can check out our new weekly recipes or of course all the other recipes on the site.  But me, I’m going out…I’m anticipating air conditioning, good food and no clean-up. Need I say more?

We are Nuts for No Nut Nation!

Calling all moms and kids with nut allergies and all those who love tasting new delicious treats! GKC found another great company, No Nut Nation, that makes adorable, scrumptious, all natural, peanut free, and tree nut free products that you must find in your area.  People with and without allergies are going to love them.

We love their Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes because they are party perfect in both taste and appearance.  They are so cute you could serve them at a birthday party and we loved the moist cakes, the pure flavors and especially the swirl of cream cheese frosting. Best yet, they are not only nut free, they are egg free, AND all natural.  No artificial coloring in these cupcakes. No Nut Nation figured out how to use beet juice as a coloring agent so effectively that it colors the cupcakes without affecting the flavor or texture.  They sure fooled GKC.  The mini cupcakes are also available in chocolate and chocolate chip.


We also tasted their Whoopie Pies, OMG so super cute, individually wrapped and just delicious.  Available in an assortment of flavors, including chocolate, chocolate chip, and red velvet, they are elegant enough for a sophisticated palate and fun for kids too.

No Nut Nation has other products too. Try the “Perfect Brownie” or “Brownie Bites”.  What’s so great in these rich, chocolaty, nut free, and moist brownies? They are loaded with antioxidants.  How great is that? Eat a treat and remain healthy! No Nut Nation, does not stop there, their product list is complete with other items like chocolate chip cookies and cookie bites. Crunchy and moist chocolate chip cookies are terrific for school snacks or a mid week treat.

No Nut Nation is a company launched by a concerned mom whose daughter has tree nut and nut allergies.  She began baking nut-free treats in her home as a necessity.  She got so good at it that other parents starting asking for them.  She teamed up with another mom, and in 2010, they created No Nut Nation.  GKC gives our seal of appoval.


Lucky East Coasters, No Nut Nation, products are available in Whole Foods Stores and Fairway Markets.  They are very popular for schools and specialty stores too.  Ask your school or store to carry them!

Find them at NoNutNation.com
Kosher certified by OK Kosher. Most items are OK Dairy.

Meatless Mexican


Mexican food is one of our favorite options during these meatless nine days.  You can use the vegetarian ground round or just vegetables to make many flavorful and spicy dishes.  They are colorful, filling and a treat. No one will even miss the meat. Some of our new favorites are:

Guacamole with Grilled Jalapenos
Black Bean Chili
and
Jalapeno Grilled Cheese

Or check out some of our old favorites: Mexican Black Bean Lasagna, Mexican Cole Slaw and this Vegetarian Corn Chips Pie

Guacamole with Grilled Jalapenos

1 jalapeno, quartered and seeded
3 scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 avocadoes, peeled
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

In a small bowl, mix jalapeno, scallions, garlic and olive oil until coated. Heat a grill pan over a medium-high flame. Add vegetables and grill until charred, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Place jalapeno and scallions in a medium bowl. Remove garlic from peel, mash and add to bowl. Add avocadoes and begin to mash. Add remaining ingredients and continue mashing until thick and well-combined. Serve immediately.

Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

A spicy variety on an easy favorite. Recipe is for 1 – can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled etc. etc.

1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
2 slices crusty bread
1 tablespoon butter, softened
¼ cup shredded pizza cheese

Place jalapeno on a baking sheet, cut side down. Broil for about 10 minutes or until blackened. Cool and chop. Mix with grated cheese. Butter outsides of bread. Place cheese and jalapeno mixture on top of one bread slice. Cover with other slice and grill in pan – about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Yum!

Black Bean Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (4-ounce) can diced, roasted green chilies
1 jalapeno, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably Corona)
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or pareve chicken broth
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Accompaniments: sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, guacamole, sliced olive rings

In a medium Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chilies, jalapeno, onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in beer. Cook until reduced by half. Add beans, chili powder, cumin, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing flavors to blend. Stir in lime juice, remove from heat and serve. Good over rice with some or all of the accompaniments listed above.

Burgers, Burgers, and more Burgers

The food trend of the summer is the burger. Everyone from Rachael Ray to Jean George is making them, featuring them, and writing books about them. GKC just had to get our two cents in about them. Here’s what we’ve learned from the newest articles and columns on making burgers plus our own practical and delicious experimenting.

Fat is Good in a meat burger. You want to use ground beef (FRESHLY ground by the butcher) that contains about 80% beef and 20% fat.

Be Gentle! Kneading is for bread. Handle the meat gently and form loose patties to retain flavor. Packed patties become tough.

Burgers need salt and pepper. We recommend kosher salt and pepper and then whatever other seasonings you like, mesquite, onion, etc. The experts are claiming that they need little other than salt and pepper. I still like a few dried spices like onion powder and mustard.

Spatulas are NOT for pressing. Use them for flipping and DO NOT press on your burgers. All that juice that drips out is the flavor.

Make a small indentation in the center of each burger. Burgers contract as they cook, causing the middle to form a dome-like top. Making a small indentation in the center of the patty will keep the burger flat and even and therefore allow all the toppings to stay on under the bun.

Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. A rare burger is about 125 degrees, and a well-done burger is 160 degrees.

Add a little liquid. Some experts disagree with GKC here, but Cook’s Illustrated and Bobby Flay agree that moisture is the key to a juicy burger. Remember no pressing on the burgers to lose moisture. We recommend adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of ice water to the meat or any other liquid of your choice, like a combination of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, seltzer, beer, mustard, you name it but add a bit to add moisture to the patty.

Buy lots of condiments for a burger bar. We love serving fried onions, guacamole, spicy mustard, sautéed mushrooms, and tons of store bought mustards, salsas, tapenades, or whatever you like, for a fun burger bar evening with guests.

Let us know your best burger tips. And find lots of great burger recipes on GKC!

4th of July

The 4th of July is about so much more than food – but we’ll leave that part for other more eloquent bloggers to express. Our concern is with the meal – the picnic, the barbecue, the celebration.  Every serving of fried chicken, every grilled burger or hot dog needs a good side to go with it and what could be better than classic coleslaw and its myriad variations. Here are some of our favorites – old:
Terra Chip Coleslaw
Spicy Indian Coleslaw
Jalapeno Slaw
New Year’s Cole Slaw
And new:
Southwestern Coleslaw

Southwestern Coleslaw

1-1/2 packages cole slaw
2 scallions, minced
2 radishes sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

 

In a large bowl, combine cole slaw with scallions and radishes.  Whisk together all dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables. Mix until well-combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

I am not sure if it’s because I am in charge of the kitchen or if it’s because I am home earlier than my husband, but I am the one who barbeques in our family. And aside from the bbq smell that lingers on my clothing and hair, I love it. I love experimenting with different sauces and meats. I love the quick cooking and all the gadgets and I love that my kids eat up every bite.

Lately, I have been experimenting with BBQ sauce and am excited to share my new favorite. It is fantastic on chicken, meat, burgers, and lamb. I also used the leftover sauce as the base on a Roasted Vegetable Tart.

Drum roll please….

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

Roasted Vegetable Tart

My New Favorite BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce:
1 head of garlic, roasted, squeezed from the skin
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chipolte in adobe sauce (optional: made by Roland in a can with OU hashgacha)
½ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For the sauce: Place the roasted garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, syrup, vinegar, Worcestershire, chipolte, chicken stock and pepper in a small pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to low and thicken 20 minutes. (This sauce stores well for weeks)

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Serves 10

Ratatouille Tart:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
1/2 to 3/4 cup leftover BBQ Sauce
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline
1 to 2 roasted red peppers, julienned
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Roll the puff pastry out on a floured surface to a rectangular shape, about 12 by 10 1/2 inches. Transfer the pastry sheet to a parchment-lined baking sheet. With the tines of a fork, dock a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the sheet and dock the center of the sheet a few times as well. This will prevent the dough from rising as it cooks. 



Spread the BBQ sauce evenly over the pastry, leaving a small border around the edge of the pastry. Layer the tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini in overlapping rows, or in whatever pattern you like. Sprinkle the roasted red peppers around the tart. Drizzle the assembled tart with a little olive oil, making sure to brush a little on the edges, season with salt and pepper. 

Bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the basil before serving.

Father’s Day

photo: seriouseats.com


I don’t know how barbequing and grilling came to be a father’s job.  And I certainly know that mother’s are perfectly capable of it as well!  But if there’s a cooking job that men like to do, hey, far be it from me to stand in their way! It’s a nice way to end a slow Sunday – or any other day for that matter – and the possibilities are truly endless.  This year we are focused on burgers and we have rounded up a few of our favorites.  As always, we’d love to hear yours!

Father’s Day Burger
Asian Burgers
Grilled Burgers with Lemon Margarine
Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers
Salmon Burgers
Tuna Burgers

Is Your Lettuce Lifeless?

Crispy green lettuce is the most sought after leafy vegetable, for both salads and sandwiches. Lettuce is rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A and iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Best yet, it is helpful to maintain a healthy metabolism.. Lettuce is high in dietary fiber, which aids digestion and helps those suffering from constipation. Some say that the juice of lettuce mixed with rose oil and applied to the forehead can help ease a painful headache.

In my house, we use a lot of lettuce and keeping it crisp is crucial. No one wants unappetizing, limp and wrinkled lettuce in your refrigerator when you bought it only two days before. Storage is key.

Here are our best GKC tips on how to buy and store lettuce:

1. In the store, choose the leaves that look crispy and bright in color. Avoid wilted leaves that are shriveled at the edges. Looking for bright color and perky edges should help you differentiate between quality lettuce and those that arrived several days before.

2. The main storage problem is usually too much moisture. This dampness condenses on the leaves and suffocates them. The key is to store the lettuce wrapped in damp paper towels and sealed in a Ziploc bag. This will absorb the extra water without dehydrating the leaves. Store this lettuce in your crisper drawer, if you have one, otherwise store it with other vegetables.

3. Do not pile lots of other vegetables on top of the lettuce. It will bruise and become wilted.

4. Store leftover salad with a damp paper towel on top of the salad. Do not cover it with plastic wrap. This will stay surprisingly well for a day or two without become brown or wilted.

Try these great salads with your crispy lettuce
Basic Vinaigrette Salad
Spring Salad with Portobello Mushrooms
Red Leaf Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans

Muffins

photo: suite101.com

I don’t know if you’re like us– we find a particular food item and for a while, we’re obsessed with it.  Some obsessions fade and some (like the one for ice cream and our current dippin’ dots addiction –we know they’re so 2008 but who cares?!) never do.  At the moment we are focused on muffins – healthy ones, decadent ones, muffins to have with morning coffee, muffins to have with afternoon tea, muffins to eat before bed…Yes, we’ve seen the calorie count but we don’t have to eat the whole thing at once – or do we?  And they can be instead of lunch, can’t they? Or we could make smaller ones…whatever your preferences, we’re sure there is a perfect muffin out there for you.  Here is a roundup of just a few that GKC has to offer. Send us your favorite muffin recipe!!  (We’ll send a prize to the one we like best!)

Take the icing off our pumpkin cupcakes and they qualify.  Check out our Cooking with Kids section.

Or try these:
Blueberry Muffins
Crunchy Oat and Cranberry Muffins
Best Ever Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Goat Cheese and Rosemary Muffins
Gingerbread Muffins

And these special ones:

Raspberry Almond Muffins

Remember to send us your favorite muffin recipe; indulge our obsession!

Fish Recipes for Shavuos


With a three day Yom Tov approaching we have received many great questions about which fish recipes can be prepared ahead of time and either stored for a few days or frozen.  Here are a few tips for fresh fish preparation and storage, then some recipes we recommend.  Don’t forget to check the fish recipes in the index and on the homepage, there are so many choices, there is sure to be a recipe for everyone’s taste.

Tips for Great Fish Preparation

  • Only buy fresh fish. Make sure you ask the fish counter if it is fresh. Fish that has been frozen and defrosted already will not refreeze well. It will come out smelling very fishy.
  • Fish should look good and not have a strong odor.  If the fish smells, do not use it or buy it.
  • Fish can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
  • Only freeze fresh fish or fish patty recipes, like croquettes. Grilled, baked or roasted fish does not taste good after it has been cooked and then frozen and defrosted.  Most fish can be prepared a day or two early and stored, covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  • Fresh fish can be frozen.  Wrap it tightly, with as little air as possible in plastic wrap and then put it in a resealable plastic bag, like a zip lock. Freeze and defrost in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

To sum it up, either prepare the fish on Friday and store it until ready to cook on Sunday. Or, buy the fish fresh on Thursday and store it in the freezer, wrapped, as we suggested above.  Then on Saturday evening put it in the refrigerator to defrost.  Prepare the fish fresh on Sunday morning and serve.

These recipes below may be prepared and stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days.

Baked Salmon with Blackberry Ginger Glaze
Blackened Tilapia with Mango Salsa
Flounder Fillets with Tomatoes and Capers
Grilled Tuna with Asian Dipping Sauce
Salmon Croquettes with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
Salmon Patties with Ginger Sesame Sauce
Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze
Thai Fish Cakes

Don’t forget to check out all the cheesecakes! What’s Shavuot without cheesecake?

Chag Sameach!

Roasted Vegetables

photo: tobostonandbakeagain


With summer sneaking up on us, our meals are becoming more salad and vegetable-based, less meat-centered. My new favorite salad addition is roasted vegetables – of all kinds, shapes and sizes. All you do is cut into chunks, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some kosher salt and cook at 400 degrees until soft, stirring every 20 minutes. Add to your salads or eat alone as a snack. Some great options filling my refrigerator right now are roasted yellow beets, roasted red beets, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted red onions and roasted red peppers. But you are only limited by your imagination. Roasted scallions are good. As are roasted mushrooms, roasted zucchini, roasted corn kernels…Add these favorites to your next salad bar night.

Soft Serve Fruit Co


What do you get when you cross a health conscience mom with a ravishing sweet tooth, and an entrepreneurial husband? The Soft Serve Fruit Co., New York’s newest refreshing and healthy alternative to frozen yogurt. No dairy, no fat, no gluten, allergen free, low calorie, PAREVE…just simple wholesome ingredients like fruit, water, and a touch of organic cane sugar (Yes! That’s it), yield Soft Serve Fruit and yes, it’s very tasty.

Chloe Epstein, husband Josh Epstein, and tri-athlete friend Michael Sloan came together to develop this delicious product and the fantastic stores they sell it in. No chic and cold design here. These stores are fashioned like a farm fresh fruit stand in the Hamptons, with fruit crates and lots of shingles. Soft Serve Fruit Co. has an all natural and fresh feeling and taste. Their mission? Celebrate good, wholesome foods that are delicious and avoid empty calories. Fellow moms and GKC readers agree with that!

The flavors are seasonal like berry, and mango in the summer, apple and pumpkin in the fall, pear and cranberry for the winter, and almost always strawberry and banana. That’s not all though. They are currently developing new flavors, some surprises and some request flavors, coming this summer. We are sworn to secrecy but we tasted some and you are going to love them.

With Chloe’s guidance, (thanks for the great time!) GKC tasted and tasted and loved every bite. Our favorites? The strawberry and banana; strawberry was sweet and delicious and hard to believe that it was just made from pure and simple strawberries. The banana was creamy, just like the consistency of yogurt. Best yet, the adorable stores feature sundaes – we loved the Crunchy Salty (banana soft fruit, fresh bananas, pretzels, all natural peanut butter, and chocolate chips;WOW!), smoothies, vegan waffles topped with soft serve fruit, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, granola, and tons of other toppings that contain no high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.

Where to try it or find Soft Serve Fruit Co? Union Square, Upper East Side, the Hamptons, Fairway Market in Queens and expanding soon across the country or to your local market – just ask for it. They deliver too, to offices and residences as well as catering special events; just email them at info@softservefruitco.com for more information.

Soft Serve Fruit Co. is pareve and kosher certified by Rabbi Aaron Mehlman of National Kosher Supervision.

Try it soon! We will see you there.
Upper East Side: 1371 Third Ave, at 78th St. 212 794 2200
Union Square: 25 East 17th St, at Broadway 212 675 0550
Hamptons 869 Montauk Highway, Watermill 631 726 6166

Always Chocolate

In Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, “Chicken Soup with Rice”, he suggests that “All seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup with rice.” That’s how I feel about chocolate. There is no need of an excuse, an event or a Hallmark card occasion. Chocolate is the go-to, feel-good treat all year ’round. And nowadays they even suggest it has some health value. So go for it. Here are some of our favorite – and easiest – chocolate recipes to satisfy that craving. We’d love to try yours…

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars
Chocolate Pound Loaf
Easy (Almost) Everything Brownies

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars

photo: cookiemadness.net


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.

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.

Choices with Sweeteners

Personally, I am not sure white sugar is quite as evil as its critics make it out to be, but clearly our society suffers from rising numbers of adults and children with obesity and other health related issues.

Recently I read that on average Americans consume 72 pounds of sugar a year; that’s 22 teaspoons a day and is more than 2 times what our grandparents ate. At first I thought, no way, not my family! But then I examined and gave some thought to the diet of most kids, including mine, special candy on every holiday, Shabbos food, Shabbos cereal (as we call it), treats in school, yogurts and granola bars all loaded with extra sweets, coffee with sweeteners, and more.

I am not suggesting a world without sweets but thought it might be appropriate to make a few suggestions about refined sugar. Try alternatives like honey, molasses, maple syrup, and agave instead of white sugar or brown sugar (which is essentially white sugar with a little molasses added for flavor and color). While these minimally processed sweeteners do count as added sugar and should still be used sparingly, they provide antioxidants and essential minerals and don’t cause as big a spike in blood sugar as refined sweeteners do.



Each has its own distinct flavor, which adds an extra dimension to food and beverages.

Honey is a go-to sweetener for yogurt, teas, challah, as well as compotes, fruit crisps, and cobblers. It’s filled with antioxidants. The darker the color the more it contains.

Maple syrup is especially good in granola, oatmeal, and some cakes. It’s rich in zinc and manganese so they help boost the immune system.

Molasses have an intense flavor that works perfectly in barbecue sauces and marinades. It has the highest nutritional value of all the sweeteners but the strongest and distinctive flavor.

Agave has the mildest flavor of the bunch; it dissolves easily, so it’s great in cold drinks and coffee. It has a low glycemic index and therefore a more moderate effect on blood sugar.

You can bake with all of these alternative sweeteners too; they tend to make baked goods very soft and moist. Depending on the recipe, you might need to experiment with the amount you use. Start by substituting 3/4 cup honey, maple syrup, or molasses for each cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid by 3 tablespoons. To substitute agave, use 2/3 cup agave nectar for each cup of sugar ( I often use it in my challah recipe) and reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup. Also, since these sweeteners will speed the browning process (the form of sugar they contain reacts more readily to heat), reduce the baking temperature by 25°F. Check for doneness at the usual time, but you may have to increase the baking time slightly.


Try some of these recipes that contain white sugar alternatives:

Maple Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
Grilled Salmon with Honey Fruit Salsa
Baked Apples
Cocoa Brownies Sweetened with Agave Syrup

Hamantashen


It’s that time of year again, the time where we make those funny three-cornered pastries shaped like Haman’s hat, the time when we try to find the best recipe for those pastries!

Here is a round-up of some of our favorites:
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

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 Fillings

Apricot-Coconut:
2 cups apricot preserves
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped nuts like walnuts, toasted
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prune:
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.

Poppy Seed:
4 ounces poppy seed
½ cup nondairy creamer
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, creamer, margarine, raisins, walnuts, and honey. Bring to a boil and stir over medium heat until the creamer is absorbed and the mixture thickens. Cool. Stir in the vanilla.

Chocolate:

½ cup cocoa
½ cup sugar
¼ cup nondairy creamer
1 cup toasted nuts, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly.
The next recipe was submitted by Sarah Faygie Berkowitz. I think I’m going to try it this year.

Easy Hamentashen with Gourmet Fillings


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

Cappucino: 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.

Cranberry White Chocolate Hamentashen

This one is from Shoshana Ohriner

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 Hamentashen

And here is Rochel Lieberman’s submission:
Dough:
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

Filling:
(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!

Spicy Sweet Potato Hamentashen

This recipe was contributed by Naomi Nachman at www.theaussiegourmet.com
2 sheets puff pastry
2 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cumin
Salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg

Peel the sweet potatoes and boil them until they are soft then drain them.
Once they are slightly cooled, mash them with a fork.
Add honey, cinnamon, cumin, salt and. Mix well.
Cut defrosted puff pastry dough into 3-4 inch round with a cookie cutter. Place the filling inside the center and bring up 3 sides of the dough to form a hamentashen. Brush circles with egg wash and bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper at 350 for 20- 25 minutes until golden.
Serve warm

Don’t forget to try this Hamentaschen with Two Fillings recipe from Kosher Revolution cookbook.