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Hummus Simanim

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

As the New Year approaches, I always like to evaluate where I stand and think about what changes I want to make for myself in the coming year, both personally and professionally. For years, my goal was to take the necessary steps towards writing my own cookbook, and now that I have met that goal (far beyond my expectations, with our first printing of 15,000 books completely sold out in just 3 months!), I keep asking myself, “What’s next?”.


I’m not the type of person that settles on status quo – I’m always dreaming up the next big thing and finding ways to challenge myself. It’s like they say – “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind” – and I definitely believe in that.


Truth be told, once the book went to print, I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that I couldn’t imagine coming up with new recipes and ideas ever again! But as my workload lightened up this summer, I got back in the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I had to, and I found my groove again! I went back to my roots, the foods and the flavors that I love the most (yes, that means Israeli food!) and this amazing new recipe came to me! It’s simanim on steroids and it is everything you’ve ever dreamed of for your Rosh Hashanah table and more!

Simanim, or symbolic foods, are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize our hopes for a sweet New Year. Some simanim include leeks, pomegranate, gourds (any type of squash), dates, black eyed peas or green beans, beets, carrots and fish head (some use ram’s head). These specific foods are eaten because their hebrew translation relates to specific blessings that convey our wishes for the coming year.


When I put the platter together, I couldn’t stop taking photos because, I mean, HOW GORGEOUS IS IT, amiright??? I all but maxed out my SD card and went. to. town. (No- I like seriously went to town, for some fresh pita!). I invited my neighbors over and we stood over my kitchen counter in the mountains, scooping hummus and salad onto blistered bread, the tastes of Israel growing stronger with each bite. It was a simple dish, but it captured everything I love about what I do – channeling my creativity, sharing with friends, cooking with color and putting a twist on tradition.

This dish reminded me how important it is to cook from a place of love – it is, after all, the secret ingredient that makes everything taste better – and that it’s food, family and tradition that brings us all together.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and sweet New Year with much success in all areas of your lives. May we continue to reach milestones and share good news with each other this year!
Ksiva Vachasima Tova L’shana Tova Umisukah!



Related Recipes:

simanim fritto misto
simanim pasta salad
simanim holiday salad
hummus bassar
chestnut hummus

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Lemon Grilled Leeks with Crispy Panko

Sunday, August 26th, 2018

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: leeks are an underrated vegetable. Thankfully, they are one of the symbolic foods that is customary to eat on Rosh Hashanah, so once a year people actually take the time to pay attention to them!

Leeks are buttery soft when braised, crispitty crunchy when fried and smoky when grilled. In a word: they are versatile. And I’m so happy to share this method + recipe with you!


First, let us consider that since Rosh Hashanah is so early this year, we can still make use of our grills, and if you don’t have one, there’s still time to savor some al fresco dining. PC Richard & Son has everything you need for outdoor grilling – like these Traeger grills that I’m personally hoping to upgrade to, and some more affordable Weber models. I’ve been grilling so much this summer and I can honestly tell you that there’s nothing quite like it. You keep the mess outdoors, the food is full of flavor and meals come together in minutes. It’s a win-win.

I’ll tell you what else is a win-win: the combo of lemony leeks with a hint of sweet honey and garlicky crispy crumbs makes this humble vegetable the star of the holiday table. It also makes the perfect side to some braised brisket, a leg of lamb or grilled rib eye steak. So lets get grillin!

This post is sponsored by P.C. Richard & Son. All opinions are my own.

Related Recipes:

salmon en croute with creamed leeks
roasted smashed potatoes with leeks
cream of leek soup

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Hawaij Honey Cake with Labneh Frosting

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

If you are lucky enough to own a copy of Millennial Kosher, chances are you are one of hundreds who has made my hawaij garlic confit a staple on their Shabbos table. I for one can not get through the weekend without the intoxicating smell of hawaij wafting through my home. And my challah can’t live without dipping into the fragrant oily dip.

I’m proud to have introduced so many people to one of my favorite spice blends – a Yemenite curry that is famous for it’s use in chicken soup. What many don’t know, however, is that there is also a sweet version of hawaij, traditionally used for coffee. Since many honey cakes incorporate coffee into the batter, I figured that spicing up the cake with some hawaij for coffee was the perfect way to introduce the sweet side of the Yemenite spice.

Besides for the fragrant spice blend, I also incorporated one of my favorite Israeli ingredients – silan or date honey. It’s interesting to note that when the Torah speaks of Israel being the “Land that flows with milk and honey”, it is actually referring to date honey. There is nothing quite like dates from the shuk in Israel, and silan has become a much-loved ingredient in my house. It works both in sweet and savory applications (try it over pargiot!) and it’s delicious when paired with tahini.

Now lets talk about the other unique component of this amazing recipe – the frosting! If you’d never tried making labneh before, it’s so much easier than it seems! Labneh is the Israeli cream cheese – light and creamy with a healthy dose of tang. I’m personally not a fan of classic American cream cheese, so it’s all about the labneh for me!

Labneh is extremely versatile – it can be rolled into balls and marinated in olive oil with different spices, drizzled with some olive oil and za’atar for dipping pita, or made into a sweet frosting with some added hawaij to perfectly compliment this breakfast loaf!

I am totally obsessed over how this recipe came together! The cake is crazy moist, nothing like that dry honey cake we all dread. The hawaij adds just enough spice, but nothing over the top, and the creamy frosting adds a nice tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

My favorite part about this cake though, was decorating it!! I had a vision for incorporating my favorite seasonal fruit – figs – and I just love how it came out! Feel free to play around with fresh pomegranate, honeycomb, cinnamon sticks and other fun toppings to make the cake your own.

I always say I’m not a baker, but this recipe helped me realize that even though I don’t like the science of baking, there is still so much room for creativity and if I can get around the technicalities, I can create a masterpiece.

Here’s to a New Year of trying new things, delicious eats and sweetness all around!

This post was sponsored by Norman’s. All opinions are my own. 

Related Recipes:

parsnip honey cake with cream cheese frosting
honey cake with caramelized apples
bourbon honey cake balls

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Pina Colada Ice Cream

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

I have a love/hate relationship with bananas. I love me some banana cake with frosting, but I’m not a fan of strawberry + banana anything. Banana “nice cream” is a great invention, but sometimes I want some ice cream that’s good for my body that doesn’t taste like, well, bananas.

Enter the humble pineapple. I’ve turned it into a rotisserie stand in my cookbook, Millennial Kosher, and now it’s solving my nice cream problems with it’s unique ability to blend up into a creamy and dreamy dessert.

Like bananas, the pineapple must be frozen before making “nice cream”, and the addition of coconut and rum makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island somewhere. Which is kinda nice considering I haven’t been to one in about 12 years.

So while my Instagram is flooded with photos of Mykonos, I’ll happily enjoy some of this guilt-free ice cream on my porch in Upstate New York, savoring the smell of grass and the breeze sweeping through the mountains. Enjoy the last licks of summer, it’s almost over! (insert sad emoji face here).

Related Recipes:

passion fruit coolada
persimmon coconut ice cream
nutella banana nice cream
orange creamsicle pops

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Grilled Chicken Wedge Salad
with Carrot Ginger Dressing

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Grilled chicken salad is my dish of choice for summer. There always seems to be some leftover chicken in the fridge and I love the challenge of coming up with new ways to eat it – depending on what I have on hand. I typically go with Middle Eastern-inspired recipes when I use pargiot, or dark meat cutlets, and I go Asian or Indian with chicken breasts.

The iceberg salad with carrot ginger dressing is my favorite starter at Asian restaurants – it’s just so light and fresh and really the perfect way to start a meal of heavy Chinese food. I’m always picking out the big chunks of iceberg that are wedged into each other, so I decided to make a salad that is all about the wedge!

Traditional wedge salad is smothered in bacon and blue cheese dressing – and aside from the fact that it’s not kosher, I’m not even tempted, because, well….blue cheese. I prefer not to eat food that tastes like stinky socks, you know? But this right here? This is I can get behind. With creamy avocado, peppery radishes and crisp cucumber, you don’t even miss croutons and the dish will leave you feeling light and refreshed – just how I love my summer salads.

Related Recipes:

Asian lettuce wraps
grilled chicken fattoush with za’atar ranch
grilled chicken salad with jalapeno honey mustard dressing
grilled chicken shawarma salad

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Tahini Scones

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

I’m fond of calling myself a #bakernonbaker but the truth is, sometimes I surprise myself. These scones were next-level. The crunchiest exterior, pillow-soft interior and crazy flaky – almost like halva! How my little of this and little of that achieved scone-perfection is a mystery even I cannot solve, but I think it has a lot to do with the magic ingredient – tahini.

I’m pretty open about the fact that I’m not into the science of food. I’ve never been a very technical person. Technicalities give me a headache. I don’t find gastronomy intriguing, but one thing I can tell you is that tahini has special powers. Something about it’s fat content makes it bind with other ingredients in a completely different way. Fold it into whipped cream and you’ll get the thickest emulsion that will not deflate – and it will freeze up so smooth and creamy with the texture of ice cream! Mix it with water and you’ve got the silkiest, creamiest dip or stir in some silan and you’ve got a thick fudge. What is it about this magic ingredient that can be used in both sweet or savory applications, mixed into doughs and salad dressings, fudge and candy?

Tahini so fascinates me, I almost want to explore the science of emulsification. Almost. It does something so special to these flaky scones, you’ll never believe they don’t have butter!

Buttery pastries intimidate me. The way you have to get the butter into the perfect pea-size, and you can’t melt it with the heat of your hands. How you have to be careful to handle the dough just-so and not overmix it. How you have to perfect the process to allow for pillows of flakiness in every bite. Too painstaking for this impatient cook.

But cream-based scones? I got this. And so can you. Because it’s just as simple as mixing some ingredients into a bowl and forming them into a disc. And you can thank the magic ingredient, tahini, for doing the work of butter – minus the technicalities.

I thought about glazing the scones (and even posted a poll on my Instagram!), but I decided not to mess with perfection. Sometimes you get something just right and you don’t need to over-complicate things. So I left the scones as-is, allowing the subtle tahini flavor to shine, and served them with a side of dairy whipped cream and fresh berries, ‘cuz really, does it get any better than that?

OK, maybe with a side of a steaming hot cafe hafuch and some fresh figs. (on a porch somewhere in Israel. I’m pushing it now, aren’t I?) The breakfast of my dreams.

Related Recipes:

halva krembos with sesame cookies
halva and ricotta stuffed figs
tahini frappuccino
tahini puppy chow 

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Kalbi Korean BBQ Ribs

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Before we get started on this summer-must-have recipe, I have a small favor to ask of y’all! Saveur is hosting their yearly blog awards and it would mean so much to me if you would nominate me for “best food culture blog“. It’s super easy to do and takes less than 2 minutes – you can nominate busyinbrooklyn as many times as you’d like until tomorrow evening. Thank you so much for your continued love and support!

I don’t grill – meat – enough. Maybe it’s because my husband is vegetarian. Or because kosher cuts are so darn expensive, and my kids don’t really care either way. I’m the only one who’s really going to appreciate it, so I can’t justify the splurge that often. Of course burgers, hot dogs, pargiot and veggies make a regular appearance on the grill, but steak – not so much.

I’m far from a vegetarian but I’m also not that enthusiastic about animal protein. It feels so heavy and hard to digest, so we’re down to having it just once a week (OK twice if you count those days when I just want to crash and feed my kids hot dogs – the no nitrate, reduced fat, better for you version because even though I’m tired, I’m not about to feed my kids complete and total junk!). Don’t tell my husband but I have to admit that I feel better when I don’t eat that much meat, but it’s summer, and the grill is calling for some sizzling steak!

I used to get this dish at Sushi Mestuyan in Queens – a kosher Japanese steak house that was, when it first opened, a pretty good restaurant. It was around for years, opened up a few other branches, and gradually declined into obscurity. I don’t think it’s around anymore, but I dream about their Metsuyan Kalbi, because it had the most tender pieces of grilled meat in a rich Korean BBQ sauce that I can practically still taste. They served it in a cast iron skillet with a side of coconut rice and it was enough to make a vegetarian want to splurge. I forgot about that dish until I made these ribs, and the sweet and spicy umami-rich marinade just brought me back to their dining room with the giant fish tank along the wall. When food can transport you like that – you know you’ve got yourself a winning recipe! Also when your anti-animal-protein husband breaks his diet for a piece (or two, or three) you can bet you’ve nailed it.

What makes the marinade truly shine is my (not so new) favorite kosher ingredient – gochujang! Tzipporah Rothkopf, a Korean convert to Judaism decided to bring some of her native condiments to the kosher market and I thank G-d every day that she decided to become Jewish! Her kosher-certified brand, KOKO Kosher Korean features authentic Korean condiments like gochujang (fermented red chili paste), gochugaru (chili powder),  kimchi (fermented cabbage), doenjang (fermented soybean paste aka miso), and ganjang (fermented soy sauce). What makes these products so unique is that the fermentation process deepens the flavors, creating umami-rich savory notes that are so complex and delicious. I can’t get enough of her gochujang – it’s sticky, sweet, salty and spicy all at once – I can eat it with a spoon!

Related Recipes:

Asian grilled marinated chicken
mongolian beef
grilled radicchio with black sesame dressing

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Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve got a thing for stuffing roasted eggplant halves. I’ve made it a bunch of different ways – in fact – I had so many variations that I wanted to put into my cookbook, Millennial Kosher, that I almost wanted to do a stuffed eggplant chapter! Alas, we had to nix this shakshuka recipe because I already had 2 other stuffed recipes in the book (fully loaded stuffed eggplants and lamb moussaka eggplant boats).

It was a hard decision because this recipe is just THAT good. But the great part about being a food blogger is that I knew I could eventually just post it on the blog, and this seems like the perfect week! With the Nine Days upon us (a period of mourning in which observant Jews abstain from eating meat), we’re all looking for light and healthy vegetarian fare, and this fits the bill.

If you’re a fan of shakshuka, I’ve got lots of other variations available on the blog too, like this Mexican Quinoa Shakshuka, the beet, kale and goat cheese version that WhatJewWannaEat guest posted for me when I was on maternity leave,  this fun zoodle version, one with garbanzo beans and labneh, another one with spaghetti squash and spinach, and even a stuffed portobello one. Can you tell I have a thing for runny eggs in spicy tomato sauce??

All the above versions are kinda great – but I’m partial to the ramen shakshuka in my cookbook, and this incredible variation. The silky fire roasted eggplant with the runny egg and the spicy tomato sauce marry so well together, it’s a wonder no one came up with this before!

If you’re a fan of stuffed roasted eggplants, you can also try these other ideas: roasted eggplant parmesan, roasted eggplant parmesan with fetastuffed roasted eggplant, and sous vide stuffed eggplant with dukkah and pomegranate.  I wasn’t kidding. I heart stuffed eggplant. Almost as much as shakshuka. Ok as much as shakshuka.

Related Recipes:

Mexican quinoa shakshuka,
beet, kale and goat cheese shakshuka
zoodle shakshuka,
garbanzo bean shakshuka with labneh
spaghetti squash shakshuka
stuffed portobello shakshuka

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Chunky Monkey Marzipan Nice Cream

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Baby I’m back and it feels SO GOOD!! I finally found my blogging groove again and I’ve been cooking and shooting so much – not because I felt pressured, just for the sheer joy of it. It reminds me why I started the blog in the first place, and made me realize just how much I’ve missed it.

This recipe came to me one night this week, and I literally couldn’t sleep thinking about it! How it would taste, what dish I could use for it and how I would shoot it. It was inspired by one of my first smoothie experiences – back in the days when smoothies weren’t that popular. It was the banana, date, milk and honey smoothie from Bissaleh, the Israeli restaurant that gave me my first taste of Israeli cuisine when I was just a teenager. I’d order the drink – ice cold – whenever I would go, and it was just. so. freakin. good. Come to think of it, it’s the place that got me hooked on dates too. And sachlav. And malawach. And everything in between.

Call it the Middle Eastern take on chunky monkey – a classic banana ice cream filled with chocolate fudge and walnuts. Truth be told I’ve never actually HAD chunky monkey ice cream, and banana flavor wouldn’t normally be my thing. But nice cream is another story. If you’ve never made it, it’s basically the best ice cream hack of all time – blending frozen banana chunks until it’s the consistency of smooth-as-butter soft serve. And it’s pretty darn good too. Add some dates, almonds, marzipan and silan and you’ve got yourself a marriage of flavors that is pretty addictive. The fact that it’s good for you? that’s just a cherry on the top.

Now I know marzipan is one of those love it or hate it ingredients. Personally, I used to hate it growing up, but when I married a rainbow-cookie-lover, it slowly grew on me. My kids are huge fans of rainbow cookies too, so I had to come around.

Normally when I think of marzipan desserts, I imagine using almond extract for that intense flavor, but when Molly Yeh put chunks of store-bought marzipan into her biscotti in her cookbook, Molly on the Range, I started looking at marzipan in a new way. She also got me hooked on using the stuff instead of fondant for easy cake decorating (like in this cake!). Basically the stuff is magic.

Marzipan, like rosewater, is an acquired taste, so if you’re not a fan, no worries, you can just sub chocolate chunks in this recipe. You can also do a lot of other substitutions like candied almonds instead of roasted ones, other nuts of you choice, or figs instead of dates. Basically you can customize this however you like and it’ll still be delicious.

And you know what? If you don’t like bananas, just go ahead and fold the ingredients into some softened vanilla ice cream. How good would that be? Or just stuff some marzipan into a pitted date. Or into your mouth. You can’t really go wrong with that.

Are you a fan of marzipan? What are some of your favorite nice cream flavors? Share them with me in the comments below!

Related Recipes:

marzipan biscotti
marzipan date truffles
nutella banana ice cream
banana nut milk & honey smoothie
date and almond hamantaschen

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Grilled Chicken Fattoush with Za’atar Ranch

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Reunited (with my camera) and it feels SO good! I haven’t picked up my equipment to photograph food since I shot my cookbook months ago and I thought I might be a little rusty but by George I think I’ve still got it!

Shooting food today reminded me just how much I love what I do and I’ve missed it! Recipe development, food photography and food styling give me SO much joy, and I am legit the luckiest girl in the world to get to do it for a living. As a food blogger, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of social media – keeping up with the ever changing algorithms, apps and platforms – you almost forget why you got into it in the first place and coming back after a long break is just so good for the blogger soul.

It’s funny because when my book went to print in March, I took a sigh of relief that my schedule would finally ease up and I’d be able to take a breather, but the exact opposite happened. I had a book launch to plan, interviews, book signings and demos that followed in quick succession. It’s all been a roller coaster ride and I’ve been wanting so badly to come up for some air – until I finally did this week, and you know what I realized? I don’t even know how to relax. So I went back to what I know and that’s food. And my camera. And even though you could look at it as work – it was exactly what I needed. I had no deadline. It wasn’t for a book, or a magazine, or even the blog. It was for me.

The food: cuz lets face it, it’s always about the food! Lemon Sumac Grilled Pargiot to be precise. I’m a total pargiot convert. I can’t go back to dry grilled chicken breasts, they’re just so, blah! But pargiot? – so. darn. tasty. And they never dry out! This lemon sumac version is so light and fresh for summer, with a hint of sweetness from the silan. The perfect marriage.

The chicken is a great topping for the summery fattoush – a fresh salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and fried bread (in this case pita chips). I paired it with a lip-smacking za’atar ranch because that’s just how I roll. This is your new summer salad, and you can thank me later.

Related Recipes:

farro grain bowl
grilled chicken shawarma salad
grilled marinated chicken

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