Pastelon Shepherd’s Pie

Yes, it’s true – plantains and I are having a moment. Ok fine, not a moment, a year. Or three. Or four.

I’ve basically been a fan of plantains ever since my first Whole30 back in 2014. I didn’t even know what they were back then, but when I found Whole30-approved plantain chips in Trader Joes, I was all in. I started noticing the plantains at my local Caribbean grocery, and I learned to make my own chips as well as tostones (twice fried plantains) which I devoured with guacamole and tuna tartare (OK I’m hungry now).

I realized that plantains could make an amazing stand-in for the overused potato on Pesach, so I started to experiment further with different recipes. My plantain nachos were a big hit, and I heard from some readers who started to make my sweet and savory plantain tortillas all year long!

And then there was that summer when I discovered plantains at my local Shoprite in upstate New York and I ate my fair share of maduros – fried ripe plantains with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a squeeze of lime. Better than ice cream.

Plantains, like bananas, change color as they ripen – although unlike bananas, they can be eaten at any stage, so long as they are cooked. Green plantains are very starchy, while yellow and black ones are sweeter and a bit easier to peel. When plantains are fully ripened and black – they only look scary on the outside, but on the inside the plantains are still quite firm. It’s at this point that you can fry them in oil for maduros, or boil them up for mash.

I recently happened upon a recipe for Pastelon – a Peurto Rican lasagna that uses plantains instead of lasagna noodles. It made me think of using mashed plantains instead of potatoes for Shepherd’s Pie and that’s how this recipe was born! It makes a great one pot meal for Chol Hamoed, and can even be prepared and frozen in advance.

Wishing you and yours and Kosher & Happy Passover!

Related Recipes:

plantain nachos
fish tacos with savory plantain tortillas
nutella crepes with sweet plantain tortillas

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Ratatouille Roast Chicken

Y’all know I’m not really one for traditional dishes, but if there’s any time where tradition plays an essential role, it’s Passover, or Pesach. The Passover seder is all about the rituals that we observe each year – from preparing our homes and making them chometz-free (free of any leavened grains), to eating matza and morror (bitter herbs), drinking four cups of wine, hiding the afikomen and reciting the Haggadah. It’s all about, as Fiddler-on-the-Roof used to say, TRADISHUN!

Because this holiday has always been about creating special memories with family, I’m all about the simple kosher-for-Passover foods that my mom prepared each year. On the eve of Passover, we would all wash up with soap, put on some aprons and get to work peeling and chopping veggies for her classic Pesach dishes.

We’d fill mason jars with ratatouille, mock chopped liver, cucumber salad and vinaigrette (a salad of cooked beets, carrots, potatoes and red onion) and each meal over Passover, we’d dig a little deeper into the jars, until they were finished. Somehow, we never got bored of eating the same dishes over and over again because that’s what the holiday was all about.

This ratatouille dish is not quite the same as my mom used to make (since she did not use any processed ingredients like spices or tomato paste!), but it’s definitely inspired by the Passover dish of my youth.

Related Recipes:

chimicken
pulled pesto chicken with fire roasted tomato jam
harissa roasted chicken

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Ferrero Rawcher Bites

It’s only taken 8 years, but welcome to the new and improved BUSYINBROOKLYN site! I’ve modernized the design, cleaned up some of the old junk and here we are! Clean, simple, and dare I say millennial? That’s my new favorite word!

I would love to hear your feedback on how you like it and if there is anything I can do to improve the design! Leave a comment below to let me know!

The new blog style may be streamlined and fresh, but the food here is just what you’re used to. Fun new recipes with a twist!

If you’re a regular around here, you know that date & nut bites are my all time favorite snack – and these will look familiar. I’ve made these marzipan flavored ones in the past, and if you’re lucky enough to own my cookbook, you’ve probably tried the much-loved pecan pie bites that are a family staple.

If that’s not enough, I’ve also made them into fun hamantaschen and gingerbread truffles. And I’m testing other flavors as we speak. Because (repeat after me) DATE NUT BITES ARE THE WORLD’S GREATEST SNACK.

Related Recipes:

marzipan date truffles
cowboy cookie dough bites
gingbread truffles

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Amba Bloody Harry

When I get into a new ingredient, I really get into it, and amba is my poison these days! It all started when my instafeed went viral for sabich, the Iraqi Jewish dish, on the #celebritychefbirthright trip. There it was – the fried eggplant, hardboiled egg and Israeli salad-stuffed pita sandwich dripping with amba, and I just new, although I had eaten it various times, that it was time to make amba myself.

So I turned to the most trusted source – Mike Solomonov’s new cookbook, Israeli Soul, for the recipe, and I. was. hooked. Sweet, spicy, tangy, earthy – everything you’d want in a condiment. I smothered it over sabich stuffed eggplant, marinated pargiot in all of it’s glory and made amba london broil. And truth be told – I’ve got some in the fridge right now that’s going to be drizzled over my eggs for lunch. But I wanted to take it a step further and deconstruct it, and with Purim pending any day now, a cocktail was born. I took inspiration from the traditional Bloody Mary – subbing mango juice for tomato, harissa paste for Tabasco sauce, fennel for celery and Israeli pickles for olives. I added a touch of the other prominent amba spices and what I can say? It honestly tastes like amba, but you still want to drink it, and it just works! And let me tell you, I’m no mixologist – a testament to the true deliciousness of this unique ingredient.

L’chaim!

Related Recipes:

The Hamantini
Strawberry Limonana
Cherry Basil Limonana
Tahini Frappuccino

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Salted Tahinut Chews

I’m not much of an actual peanut person but peanut butter is my jam – and I definitely love the iconic sandwich. In fact, during my last pregnancy, I craved PB&J sandwiches for the first few months, and I secretly hoped it would immunize my baby against peanut allergies. Once my daughter was born though, that all went out the window because my house it peanut free, and you won’t find any bamba in the pantry.

A couple of years ago, when my now-5-year-old son was about 16 months old, I gave him a Larabar for snack, and a few bites in he broke out in hives all over his body. Having never dealt with food allergies with my other children, I wasn’t really familiar with such as extreme reaction, but I gave him Benadryl and he fell fast asleep. When I went to check on him, his lips had turned blue so I quickly called Hatzalah and he was rushed to the hospital, with a dose of epinephrine administered on the way. Thus began my journey as a mom of a child with life threatening food allergies.

Let me tell you – there is literally nothing more terrifying than watching your child struggle to breathe because of something they ate. I always try to use my platform to spread awareness because I know what it means to be that clueless parent who is lucky enough to be unfamiliar with food allergies. When my son turned three and started to wear a kippah, I partnered with iKippah to design the first ever ALLERGY KIPPAH to help keep young boys with food allergies safe. My son proudly wears his kippah and I know that in case of an emergency, his allergy and emergency information can all be found underneath.

So what has that got to do with TAHINUT CHEWS? Well, since my house is peanut free, but thankfully we are free of sesame allergies, TAHINI has become our new peanut butter. And the truth is, it’s a great stand in. The texture is pretty similar and pure raw tahini paste really does taste a bit like peanut butter too. I use it in recipes like my tahini muddy buddies, in place of peanut butter in Asian sauces, cakes and treats. The best part is, you don’t have to melt tahini, since it’s liquid at room temperature, so this recipe comes together in just minutes. And I love that I don’t have to forgo one of my all time favorite indulgences – Rice Krispies Peanut Chews!

Now if you’ve got a peanut AND a sesame allergy? I truly feel bad for you! I always say G-d was good to me by at least saving us from a sesame allergy because TAHINI IS LIFE. Although I’ve got you covered there as well – cookie butter works as a great alternative to peanut butter too!

Related Recipes:

tahini muddy buddies
tahini scones
sweet tahini dip
halva krembos
halva and ricotta stuffed figs

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