Warm Brie-Stuffed Dates

Serves 6-8, depending on how hungry your guests are

12 ounces (about 16-20) dates with pits (preferably Medjool)
4 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed
16-20 dry-roasted walnut halves, candied pecans, or pistachios

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
2. Slit the dates open lengthwise and remove the pits and stems.
3. Stuff about 1/2 teaspoon of cheese inside each date and close the sides loosely, mounding the cheese on top of each date. Top each with your choice of nut. Place the dates on a non-stick baking tray.
4. Bake the dates for 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dates are hot. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

The second recipe is from us, your friends at gourmetkoshercooking.com.

Fig and Walnut Biscotti

This is adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart. It is a very dry biscotti, more adult than the chocolate chip version and perfectly suited for morning or afternoon tea (or coffee).

1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flours, brown sugar and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs for about 5 minutes. Fold into flour mixture until combined. Stir in figs and walnuts. Lightly grease a parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet. Divide dough in half and make 2 longs. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cut into slices. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes (approximately – watch them so they don’t get overdone). Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Peppermint Biscotti

You will either love these or hate them! Big fans of peppermint love them. Others say they taste like toothpaste. I was hesitant but I discovered I fit in the former category. So I decided to share them - with the caveat.

¾ cup margarine, softened
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup crushed peppermint candies (I used some pareve candy canes that I found at the grocery store)

2 cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together margarine and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in extract. Blend in flour and baking powder. Stir in candy. Divide dough in form into loaves. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Slice and bake and additional 10 minutes. Cool. Melt chocolate chips and shortening and drizzle over cookies. Freeze well.

Potato Soup


This is real comfort food on a cold winter night.
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 (32 ounce) boxes Imagine No-Chicken Broth
8 – 10 medium-sized potatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper

In a large stockpot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in pepper. Purée with immersion blender.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Kugel


This has become a popular addition to our Shabbos table.
1 (32 ounce) bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets, defrosted
1 tablespoon onion soup mix
1 tablespoon chicken soup mix (pareve)
1 cup water
1 cup mayonnaise
4 eggs
¼ cup pine nuts
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan and bake for about 1 hour, until top is set and browned.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

My daughter gave me this recipe. I made it easier (and just as good) by using a brownie mix instead of making them from scratch.

For brownies:
1 Chewy Fudge brownie mix
For cookie:
½ cup shortening
¼ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

For glaze:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons margarine
1 (8 ounce) container pareve whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownies according to package directions for chewy brownies, not cake-like ones. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Next prepare cookie topping. Cream together shortening and sugars until fluffy. Beat in other ingredients and drop by spoonfuls on top of the brownie. Bake for about 1 hour or until browned. Cool.

When completely cooled, prepare glaze. Melt together chocolate chips and margarine. Whisk in whip and stir until smooth. Cool slight and pour over brownies. Store in refrigerator.

Wild Black Rice, Barley and Mushrooms

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons margarine
1-1/2 cups black rice
1 cup barley
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 carrot, diced
4-1/2 cups vegetable broth or pareve chicken broth
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

Let wild black rice sit in cold water for at least 15 minutes before cooking. Sauté onion and carrot in margarine for about 5 minutes; add mushrooms and stir until onion is soft. Stir in wild black rice and barley. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Fluff with a fork and top with toasted pine nuts.

White Bean Soup with Leeks, Potatoes and Green Olives

Gluten-Free Recipe of the Week

This is from my friend, Dana Slatkin, a professionally trained chef and cookbook author, who has recently begun experimenting with fresh and delicious gluten-free dishes.

Serves 6 as a first course

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks (about 8 ounces), trimmed and rinsed well, chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 ounces), peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
6 cups best-quality vegetable stock (or filtered water plus 1 bouillon cube)
2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 Parmesan rind (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 can (3 ounces) pitted green olives, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Chopped rosemary

1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and rosemary sprig and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Lower the flame to simmer and add the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the liquid has reduced and the potatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.

3. Allow to cool slightly, remove the rosemary and Parmesan rind, and then blend the soup in batches until very smooth, adding extra broth if necessary. Transfer the soup to a pot and keep warm while you prepare the Garnish.

4. Rinse out the blender and add the olives. With the blender running, pour in the oil to form a coarse purée.

5. To serve the soup, ladle it into bowls and dot with a little green olive purée and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary.

Raspberry Bellini

Makes 2

Last week we had three snow days in New York. Yes, three days of no school, limited car service, lots of sledding and hot chocolate and plenty of family time. On the morning of the third day, I made a delicious crustless spinach and mushroom quiche with these bellinis for my husband and I. It was a fun way to start the day.

A few frozen raspberries, for garnish
2 tablespoons raspberry-flavored liqueur
¾ cup Prosecco or other dry sparkling wine, chilled

Place the raspberries in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Add the raspberry flavored liqueur and fill the glass with the Prosecco and serve.

Asian Mushroom Soup

Serves 8 – 10
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 quarts reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and thinly sliced
5-ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
10 small shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and left whole
1 small Napa cabbage or 1/2 large cabbage, leaves sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise then in 1/2 crosswise, and very thinly sliced, or peeled in ribbons
2 good handfuls snow peas
1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Dark sesame oil


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the garlic and ginger until browned. Add the broth and soy sauce to the saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add the portobello, cremini, and shitake mushrooms, the cabbage and the carrots. Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, and then add the snow peas. Cook for just a few minutes longer, until the snow peas have softened but are still bright green. Add the scallions to the soup, remove from heat, and ladle into serving bowls. Drizzle a bit of sesame oil over the top of each serving.

Brownie Chocolate Chip Pie


This recipe was shared by our friend Ann-Michelle, who brought it to us for dessert one Friday night. It’s incredibly delicious, super easy to make, and unhealthy (consider yourself warned). It makes three pies which is lucky because you may eat one while waiting to serve the others. Freezes well but rewarm before serving.

2 Duncan Heinz brownie mixes, the 9x13 size (alternatively you may make homemade brownies but it is really not necessary)
24 cookies worth of chocolate chip cookie dough (Kineret works well)
3 graham cracker pie crusts

Top with pareve whipping cream or pareve vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make brownies following the "cakey" version on the box. Divide batter between the three pie crusts. Crumble the cookies on top (8 cookies per pie). Bake 30-45 min. It is going to be VERY VERY wet in the middle when you check it with a toothpick, so, after 30 min, check the part of the pie closer to the crust with a toothpick. It should still be VERY wet but not totally batter. This is better undercooked than overbaked. Depending on the oven calibration, cooking time is 30 -43 minutes. Delicious served warm with whipped pareve cream or pareve vanilla ice cream.

Asparagus, Artichoke, and Mushrooms with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Serves 8
This is great warm or equally good served at room temperature. I serve it at Shabbos lunch.

Vegetable Saute:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), sliced into 3-inch pieces
1 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or use canned or frozen artichoke bottoms if the frozen hearts are hard to find)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tarragon Vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Vegetables:

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and artichokes and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and reserve.

For the Tarragon Vinaigrette:
Combine the oil, vinegar, tarragon, salt and pepper in a glass screw-top jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to mix the vinaigrette.
Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and serve.

Rum Cake

This cake is super moist and super delicious.

1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
¼ cup water
½ cup oil
½ cup rum
1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup margarine
¾ cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup rum

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat together all batter ingredients until smooth. Pour into greased tube or Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and cool for about 30 minutes.

To make glaze, melt margarine, water and sugar in the microwave. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thoroughly combined. Stir in rum. Remove cake from pan and poke LOTS of holes in the top and sides. Place cake on rack over waxed paper and slowly drizzle glaze over cake. Let it absorb and continue to pour until used up. Any that drips onto the waxed paper can be picked up and poured again over the cake. This cake keeps well and is slightly better the second day after the glaze has been fully absorbed.

Updated Chicken Cacciatore

I also made this last Shabbos; it’s so simple that you can’t believe it’s so good. Your house will smell fantastic.

4 chickens, cut into 1/8th’s
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons basil
2 (29 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 onions, chopped
2 bulbs fennel, chopped
2 cups canned sliced mushrooms (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer in roasting pans. Sprinkle with pepper, garlic, oregano and basil. Bake for ½ hour. Remove from oven and cover with tomatoes, onions, fennel and mushrooms (if using). Return to oven and bake for an additional 1-1/2 hours. This dish only improves with reheating.

Fruit with Amaretto

This is nice light dessert after a heavy meal.

1/3 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons sugar
6 nectarines or peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
¼ cup Amaretto

Combine almonds and sugar in a small nonstick skillet; cook over low heat, stirring and watching constantly, until sugar melts and coats the almonds. Cool and break into small chunks. Place fruit in a large bowl and toss with Amaretto. Cover and chill. Spoon into dessert cups (pretty glass compotes if you have – these are my favorite although they are very expensive so I haven’t actually purchased any!). Top evenly with almond mixture.

Mexican Grilled Chicken with Black Beans and Rice

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
5 cups chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) cans corn kernels, drained
1 (29 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained (usually available at Whole Foods but if you can’t find them, just use regular diced tomatoes)
3 cups long-grain rice, uncooked
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chilies
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Avocado slices for garnish (optional)

Combine spices and rub into chicken breasts on all sides (you need to get your hands dirty for this one!). In a Dutch oven, combine the broth, corn, tomatoes, rice, beans and chilies. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro. In the meantime, heat your broiler or indoor grill (or outdoors, depending on what season you are doing this). Broil for about 15 minutes, turning once half way through. Lower heat and let grill about 5 more minutes to make sure it is fully cooked but still juicy. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve atop vegetable and rice mixture and garnish with avocado slices, if desired.

Chicken Sausage Gumbo

Yet another great use for leftover chicken!!

1 pound sausage, cut into thick slices (the recipe calls for smoked sausage but I prefer the hot ones; you can even use the sweet ones, depending on your family’s taste)
2 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons flour
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cups chicken broth (you can use the boxes of Imagine chicken or no-chicken broth if you don’t have any homemade)
1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 to 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Cook sausage over high heat in a Dutch oven, stirring often, until browned. Add oil and whisk in flour. Add onion, celery, garlic and green pepper; sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in broth, tomatoes and seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through. Serve over rice.

Pecan Pie

Adapted from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts
This is enough for two pie crusts – make one pie for now, and freeze one for later!
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt (I usually leave salt out when I am baking but since this was out of my league I put it in)
2 sticks unsalted margarine, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
About 1/3 cup cold water (just from the tap, no ice cubes involved)

Place flour, salt and margarine in the bowl of a food processor. Using the steel blade, pulse to combine. You should get pea-sized pieces. Add water and process VERY BRIEFLY to form one main lump, surrounded by lots of little pieces of dough. Gather it together to form a ball. Cut in half and let the dough rest a few minutes (you can start pulling together your filling ingredients) Roll out the dough between two large pieces of plastic wrap – this seems to be the secret (or at least one of them!) Keep the dough completely covered with plastic wrap so that none of it actually touches the rolling pin or the counter (or your kitchen table, as was my case). Remove the top layer of wrap and gently put the crust down in a pie pan – I used these ruffled ones that happen to be designed by the same friend!) Using extra dough hanging down, pinch the edges. Then, push your index finger in at whatever spacing you like, all the way around, to form the fluting. Voilà! Pour in filling. If you have any extra dough and you have any cookie cutters, you can top with some shapes – I like the leaves on sale now (!) at Williams-Sonoma. Get ready for the applause!

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Serves 8

1 pound dried cannellini beans
¼ cup smoked turkey, cut in small chunks
1 yellow onion, quartered lengthwise
1 celery stalk, quartered crosswise
1 carrot, quartered crosswise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
Finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the beans: Rinse the beans, place in a saucepan, and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat. Let stand for about 20 minutes, then drain.

Return the beans to the saucepan along with the smoked turkey, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bay leaf. Pour in the chicken stock and then add water as needed to cover the beans by 2 inches. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. (If you heat them too fast, the skins may break.) Adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans are almost tender, 20 minutes or longer. Add salt, to taste, and continue cooking until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let the beans cool in the liquid.

Strain the cooled beans and other solids through a sieve, reserving the liquid. In a food processor or with a hand blender, puree the beans and solids in batches with 3 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and 2 tablespoons olive oil.. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet over high heat, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil. Turn on the fan above your stove. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn brown. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for a few seconds, then add the basil. Cook until basil wilts.

To serve, ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls. Top the soup with the basil mixture.

Zaatar Salmon


Serves 6
2-½ - 3 pounds salmon (I like the tail end, skin on piece)
Juice of two lemons
1 lemon sliced very thin
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Zaatar spice (available at most grocery stores and Persian markets)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Rinse salmon and pat dry. Place salmon skin down on a low-sided pan, lined with foil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salmon. Sprinkle the kosher salt and the Zaatar spice over the salmon. Lay the lemon slices on top of the salmon. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Lemon Couscous

Submitted by my friend Yael

4 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoon scallions
1/2 cup craisins
½ cup dried apricots
1 cup couscous, prepared
¼ cup toasted almonds, sliced
Mix all ingredients together.

¼ cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Pour over the couscous. Toss well. This is best if made a day ahead of time and the flavors have a chance to blend. Serve warm or at room temperature.