Drinks

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Watermelon Limeade

Monday, June 24th, 2013

There’s nothing like an ice cold cup of lemon or limeade to cool you off on a hot summer’s day. Summer, or winter, I’m a huge fan of citrus drinks, but all too often, I find that they are overly sweet. This lightly sweetened watermelon-limeade is reminiscent of agua fresca, a refreshing fruit-infused water drink popularized in Mexico . Aqua fresca is a terrific thirst quencher for summer picnics and barbeques.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been wanting to set up a lemonade stand for my kids. So when I was testing this recipe for the blog, I knew just  what to do with my pitcher full of limeade. My girls couldn’t be more excited about their reenactment of one of their favorite books “Pinkalicious and The Pink Drink,” while my son stood by asking for continuous refills. I set my kids to work designing a sign for our table (isn’t it adorable?!) while I put together all the necessities. Since we used tiny little cups, we set our price at just 5 cents, a total steal for today’s economy!

We live on a very quiet block, with not much foot traffic, so my little ones grew increasingly sad as they waited for someone, ANYONE to buy a cup. With construction going on directly across the street, we were lucky enough to have the contractor buy a round for all of his workers. He generously gave my kids more than 20 cups worth of pay. After that, traffic picked up and thanks to the generosity of strangers and friends my elated children netted $6.51. That’s a whole lot of profit when you’re asking for a meager 5 cents a cup.

I’ll never forget the excitement and smiles on the faces of my children, and the pride they showed in their first business venture. Our pink lemonade wasn’t just a thirst-quencher. For two little girls in Brooklyn, it made a favorite book come alive and wishes and dreams come true.

1 year ago: smores chocolate toffee bark
2 years ago: salad nicoise

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Sachlav Rose Water Pudding

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Sachlav (also pronounced sahlab, salep, or saloop) is a popular warm winter drink in the Middle East. Even though I spent an entire year living in Israel, this light rose water pudding made it past me somehow and my first taste of it was actually in a restaurant in Brooklyn, named Bissale. I was reminiscing about my Bissale experiences in this recent post, and the fragrant rose water drink just came back to me.

I thought a rose water scented pudding would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, when Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It is told that Mount Sinai was covered in roses at the time the Torah was received, so many communities have a custom to decorate their homes and synagogues (as well as Torah scrolls) with roses. Persian Jews even refer to this holiday as the Feast of the Roses and in some Sephardic synagogues, it is customary to sprinkle rose water on the congregants.

Rose water, which is made by steeping and distilling fresh rose petals in water, is featured in many Sephardic desserts and pastries. It can be purchased at most Middle Eastern and specialty food stores.

Sachlav was traditionally made with ground orchid tubers called sahlab. The tubers of the orchid were dried and ground up to create a fragrant powder that thickens the milk into a pudding. Nowadays, cornstarch, which is cheaper and easier to find, is used to thicken the drink. Sachlav is usually finished with a touch of orange blossom or rose water, but some prefer to forgo the fragrant waters and garnish it with coconut, cinnamon and/or nuts and raisins.

Sachlav is usually served in the winter, like a Middle Eastern hot chocolate. Personally, I have a weakness for hot pudding (I always eat chocolate pudding boiling hot, right out of the pot) so I’m good eating it all year long. If you prefer a cold pudding, you can set the sachlav in the fridge, and serve it up like traditional malabi.

So what’s malabi? It’s a cold rose-water-scented milk pudding, that is pretty similar to sachlav, except it’s usually garnished with raspberry syrup and pistachios. If you’d like to turn this recipe into malabi, simply pour into serving glasses, let cool and then refrigerate until set. You might want to garnish it with my strawberry rhubarb compote for a seasonal garnish that would compliment the rose water really well.

1 year ago: pesto & goat cheese crostini
2 years ago: sundried tomato olive tapenade

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Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Technically it’s only been about a week and a half since my last post, but somehow it feels like an eternity. Thankfully, the weather has FINALLY turned around here in Brooklyn, and the sun is starting to peak through the clouds. With the warm weather making it’s entrance, it’s time to lighten up our menu’s and keep things simple and healthy before summer comes around. Smoothie’s are a great start!

Most of the time, I tend to skip breakfast altogether as I don’t have much of an appetite in the morning. With smoothies being ice cold and refreshing, I’m able to get in some nutrients without feeling like I’m filling up too much. This tropical fruit smoothie is one of my favorite blends. It’s just so refreshing!

Some of my other favorite smoothie combinations include:

banana+dates+almond milk + honey
persismmon + yogurt + cinnamon/nutmeg + honey
peaches+oatmeal+vanilla+milk+agave
avocado+raspberries+pomegranate juice
kale+kiwi+banana+orange juice

What are some of your favorites? Share them with me in the comments below!


1 year ago: pepper steak with plum sauce
2 years ago: sesame linguini with marinated chicken breast

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Strawberry Limonana

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Limonana is a frozen minty lemonade that is popular in Israel. With tart lemons, sweet sugar syrup and fresh mint, it’s the perfect icy drink for a hot and humid day. I had to put my own twist on it, so I included frozen strawberries, for added color and delicious berry flavor.

When I had first planned on writing this post, it was supposed to be about all things summer. About the sticky, humid weather here in Brooklyn, and how to beat the heat on these unbearable days. I had plans to woo you with coffee ice cubes and frozen grapes. But all that changed.

Yesterday, I went to see Jamie Geller off to Israel at a goodbye party sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh. Jamie, if you don’t already know, is the author of the Quick & Kosher cookbooks, as well as the face behind Joy of Kosher. She is making aliya with her family, and chronicling her journey in a series of webisodes, titled “Joy of Aliyah”. The first two episodes have covered Jamie’s announcement, and “The Lift”. Joy of Aliya is real and raw, taking you along for the ride through the milestones of the aliya process.

I was speaking to Jamie about her move, and how lucky she is to be able to live in the holy land of Israel. I told her about the year I spent in seminary, over 10 years ago, and how it changed my life forever. She encouraged me to take a Nefesh B’Nefesh pamphlet, but I declined. “I don’t need one”, I said, “It’s already in here,” pointing to my heart.

After leaving the BBQ, I was feeling really nostalgic (or should I say, homesick?). so I went to my basement, and dug up my old seminary albums (yes, I admit, I grew up in the pre-digital age). I thought it might be a good idea to capture my experience by posting some pictures on my blog. As I turned each page, the photos pulled at my heartstrings and I felt that deep yearning to return. There is no other place on earth where I have felt such inner peace and a sense of being complete. In Israel, I don’t need to hike Masada, or drive an ATV through the galilee, I need only to walk along the holy city streets to feel as though I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I am sure it is because Israel is the place for which it states, “Eretz Asher Tomid Enei Hashem Elokecha Ba Meireishit Hashana Ad Acharit Hashana“, “Israel is the land for which the eyes of G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year, until the end of the year.” The holiness of the land is so palpable, you can feel it with every step (there’s a reason they call it “The Holy Land!”).

As I looked through my pictures, I realized, there isn’t a single one that I could share that would convey to you my heartfelt love for Eretz Yisroel or what it means to me. It’s the feeling of being home, of being where I belong. It’s more than any pictures can show or any words can convey. It’s a soul-thing. And Jamie, it’s still right in here, stronger than ever. Maybe, just maybe, we will meet again soon, in Jerusalem!

Come to think of it, if I did move to Israel, what would my blog be called? Would it be Busy in Beitar, or Busy in Bayit Vegan, or Busy in Beit Shemesh? Oh gosh, so many choices, where would I move? I think I might need that pamphlet after all.

Watch Jamie’s Joy of Aliyah eposides, here.

Read about my return to Israel after 10 long years, here (bonus, beautiful pics!).

 

 

1 year ago: watermelon ice cubes

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Spiked Fruit Punch

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Every now and then, my husband likes to mix up a pitcher of fruit punch. And I’m not talking about the sweet kiddie kind. His punch of choice involves a hefty dose of alcohol – vodka, precisely. He’s not what you would call an experienced mixologist, but his concoctions have turned out pretty delicious. One Shabbos, he whisked together this combination, and it has become our favorite. It’s simple and fruity with just the right kick – perfect for your Purim seudah. If you’d like, serve up a pitcher of just juice, and let the adults spike their drinks to their desired taste.

Wishing all BIB readers, followers, fellow foodies and bloggers a very Happy Purim!

1 year ago: sangria sunday

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It’s our Blogoversary!
Celebrate with {Mulled Wine}

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

We’ve come a long way since my first post back on January 19th, 2011. Believe me, I never imagined I would make it this far. What started out as a hobby has blossomed into a full blown passion. I’m so thankful to all of my readers who are the reason for my continued success.

Over the past year, BIB has grown considerably, with recipes featured throughout the blogosphere as well as in Bitayavon and Binah Magazines. With bated breath, Busy in Brooklyn finished in 5th place in the Joy of Kosher “2011 Best of Kosher” competition with almost 850 votes.

It’s been a whirlwind! Here are some stats from the past year that I thought you might enjoy:

Most popular category: dessert recipes
Most popular recipe: sushi salad
Most popular craft: shell stitch crochet hat
Most popular how to: caramelize apples
Most commented: black bean brownies

I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store! In the meantime, keep reading, keep cooking, and most importantly, keep commenting! Your feedback really gives me the push I need to keep going!

Do you want to give BIB a Blogoversary present? Share our page on your facebook wall and ask friends to like us and visit our blog!

And now, to celebrate! I figured we should all make a L’chaim to toast to our one year Blogoversary. But a plain old glass of wine just wouldn’t do. Instead, we’re gonna click our glasses with a warm cup of mulled wine. Mulled wine is a spiced red wine that has been warmed with spices and citrus. It is perfect for a cold winter night in which you have cause to celebrate.

The best part about making mulled wine (also known as glogg) is that you don’t need to use an expensive bottle. You can use a combination of whatever whole spices you have on hand, or simply use a few spoons of your bisamim.

Traditionally, mulled wine includes the following:

} dry red wine or a combination of dry and sweet (port is best)
} sweetener, such as, white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or agave
} juice and zest of citrus, such as orange and/or lemon
} additional alcohol of choice, such as vodka or brandy, (optional)
} dried fruit, raisins, and/or almonds (optional)
} a combination of whole spices, such as:

cinnamon sticks
cardamom pods
cloves
allspice berries
peppercorns
star anise
bay leaves
nutmeg
vanilla pods
ginger root

I prefer to wrap up the spices in a cheesecloth but you can also add them straight to the pot and strain before serving.

 

1 year ago: chicken breast with port wine cherry sauce

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Persimmon Yogurt Smoothie

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Persimmon is one fall fruit that doesn’t get the same limelight as apples and pears, but is equally delicious. I first fell in love with these orange fruit when I spent a year studying in Israel. I bought them whenever I had a chance, biting into them like I was chomping on an apple.

There are 2 types of persimmon – the heart shaped hachiya and the tomato-shaped fuyu. Hachiya persimmons contain high levels of tannins causing them to taste “furry” if eaten before fully ripening. Believe me, I know this because I’ve spent a lot of time scraping the “pithy” substance off my tongue. Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are non-astringent and can be eaten when firm. Upon ripening, they become freckled with tiny brown specs which add sweetness and flavor to the fruit.

What do persimmon taste like? Channeling Ron Ben-Israel on Sweet Genius, I would describe a ripe persimmon as, creamy. juicy. sweet. fragrant. peachy. hints of mango.

Freezing the persimmon and blending it with yogurt results in a thick, creamy consistency that is almost as good as ice cream!

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3 Layer Chocolate Cake Martini

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011


With Simchas Torah just around the corner, I just had to include an alcoholic beverage for the ladies. I mean, why should the guys get to have all the fun! We deserve to make a l’chaim, especially after our string of 3-day cooking fests!

More importantly, we have the most special, amazing, heartwarming and miraculous reason to celebrate. The release of Gilad Shalit who has been held captive by Hamas for five long years.

Welcome Home Gilad!


I’m not the biggest drinker, so if I have a martini recipe, it’s because I tasted it somewhere, not because I decided to whip up a cocktail one night :) I recently celebrated my sister-in-law CR’s birthday with a night out on the town. We hit a fun broadway show, but before that, we made sure to stop by Clubhouse Cafe for some appetizers and drinks. With the show just 30 minutes later, we quickly sampled a few of their “snacks” at the bar including duck empanadas, chunky guacamole, grilled kebabs, sliders and chicken fingers. What’s a birthday celebration without a toast, so we ordered cocktails including their chocolate martini, mojito and fruit punch sangria. We finished off our appetizer feast with some real 3 layer chocolate cake (topped off with a candle and a song, of course!) We left Clubhouse just a tad lightheaded and giggly, the perfect starter to the perfect night.

The verdict? While we only feasted on Clubhouse’s snacks and drinks, I must say that the food was fresh, flavorful, well presented, and delicious. The drinks were great, and the chocolate cake was moist and decadent. I would definitely go back, this time however, for a full meal!

As I mentioned, I’m far from a lush, but when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about those chocolate martini’s. They were awesome. My sister-in-law, as thoughtful as she is, sent me over some mini bottles of the ingredients so I could create my own at home. And believe you me, I did :) When looking up the cocktail online, I discovered that the martini is actually called three layer chocolate cake. How apropo!

Happy Birthday CR!

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Watermelon Ice Cubes

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


The weather here in New York last week was truly unbearable, with temperatures over 100 degrees. I am the kind of person that just cannot stand the heat. Anything over 75 degrees is too hot for me. But of course, I cannot control the weather, so I need to come up with ways to deal with it. If there’s a heat wave going on, I usually don’t leave the house. Otherwise, on hot days, I tend to go from my house, to the car, to any indoor place with air conditioning. If I have to be in the sun, I make sure to have cold water with me, and if there is a sprinkler around, I’m more than likely to drench myself!

It was one such day that I was dreaming up some ideas for an ice cold drink to cool off with. I decided to make some lemonade, but instead of traditional ice cubes that tend to water down beverages, I opted to make some cranberry-juice ones to turn it into pink lemonade. I was about to head out for some lemons when the amazing food guru Alton Brown tweeted about watermelon iced cubes. Brilliant! I knew I had to make them!

Ice cubes are a great way to cool down on a hot summer’s day. Here are some other fun ice cube ideas:

– For iced tea or coffee, make a tray of tea or coffee ice cubes to keep your beverage cold without watering it down.
– Citrus ice cubes are great for tea or cocktails. Juice lemons, limes or oranges and put a quarter slice of citrus in each cube.
– Decorate your ice cubes with sprigs of mint, maraschino cherries, or edible flowers.
– Coke and ginger ale ice cubes are a great addition to any cocktail.
– Punch ice cubes work well in a punch bowl for your next party.

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Banana Dates Milk & Honey Smoothie

Monday, May 2nd, 2011


For all those Brooklynites out there, you may remember a certain little establishment on the corner of Coney Island and Avenue P called Bissale. It used to be opened till the wee hours of the morning (I’m not sure if it ever really closed) and hailed its own psychic, who’s only charge was to pay for her meal! The place had the absolute best Israeli food, but there was some shady business going on there (not to mention it was far from clean, but we turned a blind eye). At one point they opened up a secret hooka bar in the back (there might have been more than just hooka going on there!). Anyway, my friend Dina and I used to frequent the place and we always ordered up the same thing: ftut, french fries, and a banana, date, milk and honey smoothie. The ftut was basically some chopped malawach dough, mixed up with cheese and mushrooms, with a tomato dipping sauce. The french fries were incredible. But the prize, for me, was the smoothie. It was creamy and sweet, full of delicious flavor! Bissale closed its doors a few years ago, and while I miss the great food, and even better memories (not including the calories!), I’m happy to savor my favorite shake in my favorite place, home sweet home.

The original recipe uses whole milk, but I use almond milk to pack a protein punch and nutty flavor. Also, to eliminate the need for ice cubes (which will just water it down), I freeze the banana and dates a few hours in advance.

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