shalach manos

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Jerusalem Hummus In Jars

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

I’ve got to hand this one to a favorite person and a favorite cookbook: Naomi Nachman, and “Zahav“, respectively. Naomi is a foodie friend who’s not quite at my stage in life. She just married off her first child and her youngest is about the age of my oldest. Naomi might be older but she’s got more energy than my five kids put together! She’s always the life of the party and her foodie calendar puts me to shame. She just wrapped her first cookbook, Perfect for Pesach, which I was lucky enough to get some sneak peeks behind the scenes (and test some of the amazing recipes!). She runs a Pesach catering business, a “Chopped” themed party service, writes for various publications and even has her own radio show, Table for Two on the Nachum Segal Network. I love Naomi’s positive energy and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Recently, Naomi managed to squeeze in a trip to Israel amid her crazy hectic schedule, and she brought me back some Hawaj from the shuk. I’d never tried hawaj before, but I knew that there were two types of the Yemenite spice blend – one for soup and one for coffee. The spice was so potent (everything from the shuk always is!) that my whole kitchen smelled of it, even through the Ziploc bag! I wanted to make the most of the spice so I thought about how I could use it to really let it shine. And it hit me – hummus basar!

I had never made meat hummus before, or any REAL hummus from scratch and I was excited to try! I went to the holy grail of Israeli cookbooks, “Zahav” to find the perfect recipe and of course Michael Solomonov’s did not disappoint. What I love so much about Zahav is that every recipe is approachable, and unlike some of the other cookbooks on Middle Eastern cuisine, Zahav is the least bit pretentious. The hummus I made from the book was by the far the best one I had ever tasted and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to store-bought. It is just a whole ‘nother ballgame.

What I learned from Solomonov is that hummus is so much more about the quality of the tahini than it is about the chickpeas. I always thought of hummus as a chickpea spread, but no. It’s a silky-smooth-sesame chickpea spread that will knock your socks off. You start by preparing silky smooth tahini that involves a brilliant garlic hack that I won’t share (buy the cookbook to find out what it is!). Then you take that tahini perfection and add loads of it to butter-soft chickpeas. Oh. My. God. is it good.

Zahav’s hummus recipe is a two step process, but I’ve simplified it here into one. I would definitely encourage you to try the original recipe at least once, but this makes a pretty good substitute. And please do me a favor and don’t put the amazingly pungent and flavorful hawaj-spiced beef over store-bought hummus because that’s like serving homemade shortcakes with canned whipped cream. Just no. And if  you’re feeling up to the task, try Zahav’s pita recipe and bake ’em up in mini to go along with these Jerusalem hummus jars. There’s really nothing quite like homemade pita to go along with homemade hummus.  I’ve made the recipe a few times already and it is super simple and incredibly delicious!

If this post hasn’t already compelled you to buy the cookbook, here’s an excerpt of a review I wrote after I got it:

“Michael brings the beauty of Israeli culture and cuisine to the forefront without the bells and whistles. He lets the food stand on it’s own, humble and beautiful, with clear, easy to fllow recipes that dont require millions of ingredients. And he’s not cheffy about it either….This guy isn’t cooking Israeli food because it’s trendy, he’s just doing what he loves and it comes through on every page. Even though he himself is not kosher….he acknowledges that the rules of kosher define the boundaries of Israeli cuisine and keeps all the recipe in the book (and in his restaurant) free of shellfish, pork and mixing milk and meat. In a culture that thinks that you have to be “treif” to be cool (especially so if you are Jewish), this man has my total respect). ”

Of course this Hummus Basar was made in jars in the spirit of Purim, but feel free to make this recipe and serve Israeli style, in a big bowl with lots of fresh pita for dipping! You can also make the hawaj beef and serve it over rice, it makes for a delicious side dish!

Related Recipes:

chestnut hummus with herbed pita chips
roasted garlic hummus with everything pita chips
chicken shawarma
farro grain bowl with Jerusalem pargiot
sweet tahini dip

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Purim Deviled Eggs

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

You probably never thought you’d hear a nice Jewish girl say this, but thank G-d for Easter! You see, I just wasn’t feeling Purim this year. I’ve been busier than ever (I think I should change my name to BUSIER in Brooklyn) and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t really come up with a fun food gift that wouldn’t break the bank.

Enter Target’s dollar section AKA my favorite place of all time! Since I couldn’t seem to come up with something, I decided to shop around and let the aisles do the talking. Well talk, they did! When I saw these adorable Easter egg crates, I knew exactly what I was going to make. Total cost: $1.

After I found the egg crates, I realized that I would need something to place them in – something nice and sturdy, that would hold them in place. Well, I didn’t have to look much further. A bit deeper in to the Target bargain bins, I found these square wooden boxes, which fit the crates just right. Total cost: $3.

Now all I needed was to fill the empty space next to the eggs, but what to put? Hmm, deviled eggs, deviled…hot…hot sauce! The perfect accompaniment to deviled eggs! So I did what any bargain hunter would do, on my way home from Target, I stopped by every little supermarket I could find and went straight for the condiment aisle. I tried all the bottles to see what would fit, until I scored the ultimate find! OU certified Louisiana hot sauce at 4 for $1. You got that right! FOUR whole bottles for one hundred pennies! The original price was $3.19 per bottle, but they were on special just this week! Talk about good timing!

I also scored this amazing copper beer bucket at Target for just $3 – a great addition to my growing props collection. And the plastic eggs that came with the egg cartons? My kids are gonna have a ball with those.

So, Target loot in hand, I went home and cooked up some 6 dozen eggs. Cooking in bulk always reminds me why I never want to go into the catering business. Peeling them was such a pain, and my house literally stunk like a chicken coop! Do you know what the secret to easy egg peeling is? Use old eggs. Seriously! The fresher the egg, the harder they are to peel. And do you think I remembered to buy eggs two weeks ago? NO. This girl, who knew the secret to easy-egg-peeling, bought FRESH eggs. I kid you not.


Now if you want to serve up deviled eggs vertical-style (stuffing them standing up instead of cutting them in half lengthwise), here’s what I learned: you need to slice off the top from the wide end of the egg. If you start from the narrow tip, you’re gonna lose half the egg before you reach enough of the yellow to be able to get it out. Once I sliced off the wide end, I squeezed gently on the whites and the yolk literally plops out. It even makes a “plopping” noise. Kind of funny!

Once I’ve separated my yolks from the whites, I go ahead and fill my food processor with the yolks, adding in some mayo, mustard, pickle relish, onion powder and salt. I give it a whirl and let it go until the mixture is nice and creamy. Then, I scoop the creamy filling into a ziploc bag and cut off the tip. I fill the whites with the yolks and top it with a bit of chopped green onion. Simple. Clean. And oh so yummy.

Deviled eggs, check. Egg cartons, check. Hot sauce, check.

Now the only thing left to do, was make a cute card – and it came to me just as I was putting the finishing touches on my crates. Why not use yellow and white card stock to make an egg-shaped card? I’m not a big fan of my handwriting so creating tags on the computer really works for me! Seriously, how cute are these?!

I hope you enjoyed my little peek into my family’s shalach manos! Wishing you and yours a truly EGGSELLENT PURIM!

If this post has induced a deviled eggs craving, I’ve got you covered! Check out this classic recipe, or try this pickled one!

And if you’d like to print your own Egg cards, download the template here (I reduced the size for the yolk portion of the card).

What did you make for shalach manos this year? Share your Purim ideas with me in the comments below!

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Terra Stix White Chocolate Bark

Monday, March 10th, 2014


I can’t believe how the years have gone by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday that I was getting dressed up in my princess costume, hopping around town with my bag full of shalach manos. Now I’ve got my own little princesses in tow, and I’m the one doing the driving. Where oh where has all the time gone?

I have some great memories of my mother preparing Purim packages for family and friends. She’d often give out Boston Cream Pies from Schick’s Bakery with a bottle of wine, and I was all too happy to deliver it. I’d get a dollar here and a dollar there, and always an extra stash of candy to nosh on.

The Boston cream pies were always a huge hit, and a welcome change from the bags of pineapples and wine that filled everyones tables. When I was just married, I followed suit and made mini pies for everyone, with a side of chocolate dipped strawberries. That was a good one!

I wish I could remember all the cutesy ideas I’ve had over the years. And the not-so-cutesy ones too. One year, I decided to make candy apples (from the “Applebaums”) and it was a complete disaster! There was a burnt sugar and red food coloring all over the place, and the apples were so sticky, I could barely package them!

When it comes to homemade food gifts, chocolate bark takes the cake for the easiest one of all. But I couldn’t just make any boring old chocolate bark! While nuts and dried fruits are delicious, they’re fairly typical. Instead, I decided to combine sweet & salty flavors with milky white chocolate and colorful Terra Stix. The result is so gorgeous, it’s almost too pretty to eat. Except when you do, the combo is so good you don’t want to stop!

Other Food Gift Ideas & Recipes:

chocolate dipped pretzel rods
hummus & pita chips
“Shushan sushi salad”
Purim pretzels with raspberry honey mustard pretzel dip
milk & cookies
salami chips with dijon dipping sauce

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Grape Nut Coconut Crunch Cookies

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

As a kid growing up in a small community, my friends and I would make our rounds early Purim morning, skipping excitedly down Kingston Avenue, our bags overflowing with shalach manos. There was always someone who delivered a bottle of chocolate milk and a danish, or better yet, some milk and cookies. Taffy and candies weren’t my thing, but cookies? Cookies were special. I’d rip open the shiny cellophane and dig right in to the perfect Purim breakfast.

Cookies have always been one of my favorite things. I love them chewy, but also crunchy, and sweet but also salty. How is that possible? Well, if you try these Grape Nut coconut crunch cookies, you’ll understand. The coconut flakes add chewiness while the Grape Nuts complement with just the right amount of crunch. They bake up into these perfect little mounds that are oh-so-pretty and perfect for a milk and cookies breakfast come Purim morning. And if you’ve got some friends down the block, I’m sure they’d appreciate a batch wrapped in cellophane, with a cold bottle of milk.

 

Other cookie recipes:

oatmeal cookies
pecan lace cookies
gingerbread cookies
s’mores cookies
chocolate crinkle cookies
classic sugar cookies
cowboy cookies

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Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip

Monday, February 11th, 2013

If you’re still scrambling for shalach manos ideas, you’ve come to the right place! And not just because I’m gonna wow you with this unbelievably amazing pretzel dip that makes the perfect home-made gift. I’ve also got lots of other ideas for you, starting with this old post.

And then there’s this new giveaway post with tons of amazing shalach manos ideas in the comments! (If you haven’t already entered this giveaway, what are you waiting for? Have you seen the bowls I’m giving away?!)

And since I love you all so much, I’ve created a new category where you can find all of my Purim Posts in one place!

And that’s not all.

If after all that you’re STILL stuck in a rut, check out all the amazing home-made gift ideas for Purim in the Kosher Connection Link-Up below!

If my raspberry honey mustard pretzel dip had you at hello and you want to know how to package it up, well here’s what I did:

Print out adorable tags onto cute cardstock and tape them to the top of small canning jars filled with pretzel dip. Wrap some raffia around the lid and secure with a bow. Then, fill a small cellophane bag with an assortment of pretzels and fold over the top. Print a label that says “Purim Pretzels” on one side and “from: family name” on the other. Fold it over the cellophane bag and staple on each side.

Voila. Purim Pretzel Perfection.

If you’re not up to making this pretzel dip for your Purim package, you should still give it a try. The combination of the sweet raspberry jam and spicy brown mustard, topped off with some hot mustard seeds in each bite, make this the perfect condiment for turkey subs, chicken salad or wraps of any kind!


1 year ago: butter rum l’chaim cake
2 years ago: crunchy chocolate dipped pretzel rods

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The Silver Spoon Purim Giveaway!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

With the Jewish holiday of Purim just around the corner, I thought it would be fun if I gave you all a sort of shalach manos in the form of a giveaway! I turned to one of my favorite gift shops in my neighborhood of Brooklyn and they were more than happy to get in on the fun!

The Silver Spoon store is chock full of unique and beautiful home and giftware. They offer a full line of servingware, stemware, flatware and dinnerware to suit every taste and budget. Their gifts are beautifully wrapped and topped off with a silver spoon for an adorable keepsake. To enter to win this giveaway for a set of 3 beautiful bowls, follow the instructions below.

bowls
1. Follow Busy In Brooklyn on Facebook.
2. Follow The Silver Spoon on Facebook.
3. Post a comment with your most original mishloach manos idea.

You must do all of the above to enter into the giveaway.
A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, February 20th.

Open to U.S. residents only.

Check out the Silver Spoon website for more beautiful gifts!

The Silver Spoon
1295 President St.
Brooklyn, NY 11213
Tel: 877.527.7770
Email: info@silverspoonstore.com
Website: http://www.silverspoonstore.com

Salami Chips with Dijon Dipping Sauce

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Funny story. When I was growing up, my mother used to prepare salami sandwiches for my siblings and I every Friday afternoon. She would pack up our sandwiches, and we’d take them to the courtyard of our building to eat lunch. Little did she know, each week we’d head straight for our building’s incinerator and throw our sandwiches down the shoot.

I tried to eat those sandwiches, I really did. But those hard white pieces in the salami just made me gag. Fast forward quite a number of years and I’m a married woman. I’m in the supermarket with my husband and he wants to buy, you guessed it, salami. I explain to him that in no uncertain terms am I going to put that stuff into my mouth. But he promises me that his preparation is so delicious, even I will eat it.

So we head home, and true to his word, my husband whips up sauteed salami that is not only swallowable, it’s pretty good. I mean, I’m not about to go crazy over it, it’s still salami, but I can see where some might enjoy it.

Now fast forward quite a few more years, and that same sweet husband who whipped me up a dinner of sauteed salami, bought me some amazing food magazines for Shabbos (I’ll take that over flowers any day!). Among them is the Real Simple magazine and it has a recipe for salami chips. Sounds intriguing. So I whip up a batch according to the magazine’s directions and they come out disgusting. Absolutely, horrendous. I play around with the cooking time and the oven temperature, and finally, after countless batches, I get it right!

Interestingly enough, I have read that salami is often eaten on Purim to commemorate the hanging of Haman (salami is also hung). Salami chips would make for a unique and tasty shalach manos, or, you can serve them up as an appetizer at your Purim seudah.

 

1 year ago: chocolate dipped pretzel rods

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Shalach Manos Ideas

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I thought I’d post some shalach manos ideas that I’ve done in the past, in case you’re scrambling for ideas at the last minute. I usually like to give out something creative, or at least tasty. I feel like we get so overloaded with cellophane wrapped “junk” that giving just another bag of it will just add to the pile. Instead, try to come up with a dish that can be served at the meal, or incorporate servingware or a gadget that will be useful in the future. Your shalach manos will stand out, be remembered, and appreciated.

I do realize that this is not for everyone. At the end of the day, mishloach manos is a mitzvah that does not have to be elaborate or cute. It has gotten so out of hand in some neighborhoods. Everywhere you turn – every store, school, organization – is selling baskets for you to give out. Personally, I enjoy coming up with creative ideas and putting them together. But I don’t do it every year. If you are feeling overwhelmed, I definitely recommend giving a donation to an organization that is close to your heart, and sending out Purim cards (from the organization, or personal) letting people know that you’ve opted to send a donation in lieu of shalach manos. I did that last year (you can see the card in this post).

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

For Teens:

@”Mini Me” – A diet basket for the teenager – mini carrots, mini apples, mini rice cakes, mini orange juice.
@”Lets go to the Stadium” – Popcorn, soft pretzel, can of soda, packets of mustard.
@”Breakfast on the Go” – Danish/donut and small chocolate milk or iced coffee.
@”A Girls best Friend” – Jewelry holder with hanging candy watch, ringpop, winky (or homemade cheerio) necklace etc.

Just Married:

@”Lechaim” – Martini glass with olives and a mini vodka.
@”Bakerman” – Small basket filled with a mini rolling pin, mini jelly, a hamantasch, and a recipe for hamantaschen.
@”An Apple a Day” – Candy apples in an assortment of toppings. Cover styrofoam in faux grass and stick a few candy apples in.
@”In the Kitch” – oven glove with something homemade and a mini alcohol.

For Anyone:

@”Chocolate Lovers Dream” – Mini Boston Cream Pies with chocolate dipped strawberrys and a few red torino chocolates.
@“Shushan Shushi” – Sushi salad prepared on a plate with a side of chopsticks, ginger, soy sauce and wasabi.
@“Sweet & Salty” – Chocolate dipped pretzel rods with assorted toppings.
@”Crazy for Chocolate” – Mini chocolate bundt cake with mini chocolate liquor in the center.
@”Mexican Fiesta” – 7 layer dip with a bag of tortilla chips.

For Teachers, Therapists (or anyone you need to incorporate a nice gift into the shalach manos):

@Cheese plate and spreader with crackers, cheese, jelly or chocolate spread.
@Vase filled with rock candy and real or faux flowers.
@Pie tray or pie server with homemade or store-bought pie.
@Pitcher with lemon, lemon tea and tea biscuits.
@On the go insulated coffee cup with coffee, coffee candy and mini starbucks liquor.
@Set of boxed shot glasses. Fill each glass with different candy or chocolate and wrap in gift wrap.
@Bottle of wine with a nice wine stopper. Pair with chocolate.
@Theme cookbook with a matching gadget – for ex. book on ice cream with ice cream scoop, or book on cookies with a cookie cutter.

I hope you enjoyed these shalach manos ideas! If you need a second bracha, you can always give wine, a mini alcohol, chocolates or a clear box with hamantaschen.

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Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Saturday, February 19th, 2011


I figured since we just passed Purim Katan, and shalach manos giving is right around the corner, I should share some shalach manos ideas. Two years ago, I made these yummy chocolate dipped pretzel sticks. A week or two before Purim, I started shopping for the ingredients. It’s lucky I did that, because for some reason, every single store was out of pretzel rods. I must have gone to every kosher supermarket in all the five boroughs until I found them. I bought so many bags that we were eating pretzel rods (sans coating) for the next couple of months!

To create these crunchy confections, I would recommend that you prepare a large working surface. This is a messy job! Make stations for the different coatings and cut sheets of wax paper to lay the pretzels. Make sure not to touch them until the chocolate has fully set. When you are done, you can mix up all the broken pretzels pieces with the leftover chocolate, sprinkles, nuts and nonpareils. Spread on a sheet of wax paper for an instant pretzel bark. That was the best part!

Pretzels Pairings:
White chocolate with black sprinkles
White chocolate with nuts
White chocolate with nonpareils
Dark chocolate with colored sprinkles
Dark chocolate with nuts

Other optional toppings:

Toasted coconut
Peanut/Pistachio/Hazelnut brittle from Bakers Choice
Chocolate lentils
Colored sugar
Crushed peppermint candy
Chopped Viennese crunch

Pretzels Pairings:
White chocolate with black sprinkles
White chocolate with nuts
White chocolate with nonpareils
Dark chocolate with colored sprinkles
Dark chocolate with nuts

Other optional toppings:

Toasted coconut
Peanut/Pistachio/Hazelnut brittle from Bakers Choice
Chocolate lentils
Colored sugar
Crushed peppermint candy
Chopped Viennese crunch

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Sushi Salad

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

This is one of those recipes that is super easy, delicious, and gets finished to the last drop every time I make it. I serve it often for Shabbos lunch and my guests absolutely love it. You can prepare the rice before Shabbos, put it in a Ziploc bag, and take it out two hours before plating.

I really dislike the taste of mock-crab. I find it spongy. If you like it, definitely go ahead and add it to the salad. You can also flake some cooked salmon on top. If you’re brave, and go for raw fish, go ahead and add that. Lox is also a good idea. I once chopped up some baked fish sticks and sprinkled it on top for an added crunch (think tempura crumbs on sushi). Or, serve alongside fried flounder.

Check out my other version of sushi salad here.

Believe it or not, a couple of years ago, I actually made these for Shalach Manos. I prepared everything ahead of time. Something like 10 cups of sushi rice. Bags and bags of diced cucumbers. And of course, the heaven-sent store-bought shredded carrots. I didn’t use avocado because of the browning. I bought these great black square plates (and some other asian-inspired ones) and started plating. It took hours. Maybe if I wasn’t such a perfectionist, things would have went a bit faster. It was crazy. I would never do it again. I sent chopsticks and my wasabi-soy dressing. I printed out the recipe and called it “SHUSHAN SHUSHI SALAD” (now try saying that five times in a row!). The end product was so cute and a great mishloach manos, but unless you only plan on making a few, I wouldn’t recommend it!

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