Mushroom-Barley Beef Soup!

This one’s for the boys. I cannot say why, but that was my experience with this hearty soup on a recent Shabbos. We were having some guests over for Friday Night Dinner, most of whom were boys. I started the meal off with this soup, and began with the disclaimer: “I made this soup on a fast day (Ta’anit Esther) and did not try it, so I am bringing out salt and pepper. Feel free to season unabashedly.” When I began eating my portion it tasted good, but I proceeded to season unabashedly. The base of the soup was delicious, just needed a bissel more bang. Either way, as I was preparing the main course in the kitchen while everyone finished their soup, two of the boys came in for more.

photo 1 (6)

Well if that isn’t a compliment and warming to the heart, what is?

I personally reached for seconds of the broccoli salad, and the carrot kugel one of our guests brought, but the hit of the meal seemed to be the soup. For this I have to thank Kosher By Design Teens and Twenty Somethings (and thank you Elisha Caplan for getting us this gift before we got married!). The title of this cookbook is deceiving- while I may be a twenty-something, I imagine these recipes will be good at least well into my early thirties (just kidding, I mean forever). Other favorites in this cookbook that we’ve made are: Southwest Rotisserie Chicken Wraps (p. 94- Great for leftover boiled chicken); Thai-Chicken Burgers (p. 112- the peanutbutter curry sauce is out of this world); Spinach and Shells (p. 144- easy and mmm).

This recipe is called “Beef and Barley Soup” (p. 60), and it is easy and delicious. You begin by boiling the barley in one pot, while in another you brown meat. The recipe calls for flanken, but I used stew beef, which we had in the freezer. In the same pot in which you browned the meat, you then saute onions, garlic, mushrooms (I used portobello instead of crimini), add dijon mustard, cooking sherry (that was a first), and some chicken and beef stock. While the recipe calls to simmer the mushroom mixture  separetly from the barley, I combined the mushroom/beef mixture with the barley and simmered it for a half an hour.


Just don’t forget to season it!

And while I said this one is for the boys, it is bound to please anyone on a cold Friday night. Enjoy!

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Roasted Tomato-Eggplant Soup w/ Chickpeas!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional chicken soup with matzoh balls on Friday night, but every so often it’s fun to switch it up and do a different kind of soup or appetizer to begin your Shabbos meal.

photo 5 (4)

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I tend to hoard recipes in my bookmarked files on my computer, and like the German Apple Cake I had had this recipe saved on my computer for months, never quite in the mood to make it, until one Friday night a few weeks ago. This recipe is not only delicious and wonderfully healthy, but would make a perfect weeknight meal with some added brown rice (which I did with the leftovers). WARNING- If you don’t like lycopene and fresh produce, you will not enjoy this recipe.

The recipe for the soup is: I really have no idea how I originally came across this recipe, but come across it I did, and O am I glad I did. I happened to be in an eggplant mood the week I made this, and also made Moussaka from Kosher By Design Entertains as well (which was delicious), but this soup is sufficient on its own to satisfy what I know must be everyone’s ubiquitous need for eggplant.

What is so great about the recipe is that it is completely made from scratch with lots of veggies. It does not even call for any vegetable or chicken stock. You start by roasting a bunch of plum tomatoes and garlic in one pan, with oil, salt and pepper, and cut up eggplant and chickpeas on another pan with curry, oil, salt and pepper.

Tomatoes ready to be roasted! Proto-broth

Tomatoes ready to be roasted! Proto-broth

You then immersion blend the tomatoes and garlic with some water and voila- your broth! You then simply pour in the eggplant pieces and chickpeas (which, btw, are delicious on their own after being roasted with curry), and there’s your soup!

Curried Eggplant and Chickpeas- Post Roasting. Yum!

Curried Eggplant and Chickpeas- Post Roasting. Yum!

One suggestion- cut up the eggplant into very small pieces before roasting, to make for a more polite mouthful of soup!


Does anyone have any other “different” soups they like to make for Friday night?

Posted in Appetizers, Soup | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The time we attempted to make Kumquat Jam

photo 4 (3)Sigh.

I guess it happens. The epic fails. I have definitely had many experiences where things do not come out quite as planned, for example the time I made tuna quiche that was very dry, or the chocolate bar cookies that came out salty. It happens, part of the learning process. But those were still salvageable,  edible, decent I will even say. But I guess it also happens that sometimes the pot just burns and the kumquats develop a beautiful, pungent char.

See photo above.

This was my attempt at making kumqaut jam. My parents had brought us a box of kumquats for Tu-Bish’vat, and a week later, we finally tried them and decided we weren’t much moved by the sour taste that seemed like the nebach (read- pitiful) younger brother of the orange. I looked for recipes for kumquats online, and beside for kumquat cookies, which were ruled out due to the fact that no one would think they were exciting except for myself, I found a few recipes for Kumquat Jam. We like peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, so I though, Hey, great, new jam flavor! Alas, we will be sticking to our strawberry preserves for now.

I decided to use the following recipe: And I want to make it clear that this recipe got great reviews, so I take full responsibility for whatever went wrong with the recipe.

Anyway- the recipe involves a 3 days process of soaking the kumquats over night, boiling them and letting them sit again over night, and finally on the 3rd day, of boiling them with sugar and brandy for 45 minutes, until the mixture solidifies. Everything went smilingly those first two days, but after 40 minutes of boiling them with sugar on the 3rd day, the pot runneth over, and the kumquats were still swimming in liquid. No Jam.

The kumquats soaking innocently in their bath. Little did they know what was to come...

The kumquats soaking innocently in their bath. Little did they know what was to come…

My husband came home later, and after tasting the mixture, which he deemed yummy, we decided to continue boiling them. Come a half an hour later, and our smoke alarm is going off, our apartment smells of syrupy-sweet smoke, and our Calphalon sauce pan has gone from a gleaming silver to a dull black.



Any ideas- what went wrong? Was the pot not big enough?

Needless to say, the kumquat fiasco is still sitting in the fridge. One of our forks appears stuck in the pot for life, and we’re not sure if the pot is even salvageable. If anybody is dying for adventure, you’re invited over for some kumquat barbecue!

Cheers to fun times!

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German Apple Cake

Impossibly somehow, I stumbled upon an Apple Cake recipe that comes out deliciously flaky on the outside, and perfectly moist on the inside. I have made this recipe a few times, and it continues to come out a winner!

Crispy and Flaky Crust!

Crispy and Flaky Crust!

The recipe is from and it is Called German Apple Cake. What is German about it, I am not sure exactly. Smitten Kitchen has a German Apple Cake recipe on her website (which I have not tried), about which she writes: “I remember it being called at different times a ‘German Apple Cake’ and a ‘Jewish Apple Cake.'” So if Smitten Kitchen is correct, then it must be incumbent on every Jew, especially those of Western European descent, to make this cake.

I had bookmarked this cake almost a year ago to try (no idea how I came across it originally), and always stared longingly at the recipe until I finally had the opportunity to make it a few months ago. It is an incredibly easy, one bowl recipe, and while the recipe officially calls for a 9×13 inch cake pan, I have used a bundt pan each time I have made this cake, and I profess, it adds multitudes to the aesthetic delicious-ness of the cake.

If you are looking for a delicious and easy way to impress yourself and your guests, and you have a hankering for some apple, give it a try!

Healthy Alternative: I once substituted 3/4 applesauce for 3/4 oil, and while the cake still tasted delicious (if slightly sweeter), it was not as crisp and flaky on the outside, and was more prone to falling apart. Still though, there was not a crumb leftover.

Mixing the apples into the batter

Mixing the apples into the batter

Does anyone know more about the origins of the German Apple Cake?

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert! | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Hickory Smoked Chicken Smothered in Onions

Before this past weekend I had never roasted a chicken. Ever.


MMM- Broiled, Baked and Bangin’

Thankfully, I can cross that one off the bucket list, as a recipe for roast chicken in Kosher By Design not only came out successfully, but deliciously, and my roast chicken fears have mostly abated.

The recipe is for Hickory Smoked Chicken smothered in Onions on page 98 of the cookbook. Kosher by Design has definitely become my favorite cookbook! Can’t wait to get the KBD Entertains and KBD Short on Time!

While the recipe encompasses 3 steps (1.broil the chicken in the hickory seasoning. 2. make the onions and pour over chicken. 3. make the sauce and pour over onions/chicken), it is surprisingly fast, and comes out surprisingly yummy.

Pre-Broiling, seasoned with Emeril's Chicken Rub (contans hickory seasoning).

Pre-Broiling, seasoned with Emeril’s Chicken Rub (contains hickory seasoning).

It was difficult finding hickory seasoning in the store, so I ended up buying Emeril’s All Natural Chicken Rub, and it worked just fine.

The onions, cooked in a sauce of oil (which I used instead of margarine), brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce, smelled divine and would also be delicious as a topping on a burger or on their own!

pre-cooked onions

pre-cooked onions

and they're cooked and smellin fabulous

and they’re cooked and smellin fabulous

Finally, your pour the onions over the chicken which had broiled for approx. 7 minutes, and over all of this you pour an additional sauce, made with ketchup. maple syrup, vinegar, and mustard.

right before heading in the oven!

right before heading in the oven!

Simply bake at 350 for 1.5 hours and voila you can claim you’ve roasted chicken that is “stick to your guts good” (thanks Abba)!

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Dessert Fave- Strawberry Rhubarb CRUMBLE!

My parents spent Shabbos in the Heights with us for the first time this past weekend, and though they are the last people I need to impress, I was so excited to spend my free time cooking up a storm. In addition to my parents, my brother and his girlfriend came for Friday night dinner, and our cousins and a bunch of friends came for Shabbos lunch, and it was my first time doing all of the cooking for both meals (of course everyone offered to bring something, and while I usually jump at the offer, I had some extra time and was chalishing (yiddush for dying to)to cook.

photo 5 (1)

This week I am going to post some of the recipes I made for Shabbos- the good ones at least. I made a mix of new recipes as well as recipes that have become old friends and I was pretty happy for the most part. Just wish we had more leftovers.

I am going to start with desserts. A few months ago we had been at a Shabbos lunch meal and a girl had made Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble. If anyone has every had the Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie from My Most Favorite, then you know just how delicious the combo can be. Get this- the crumble was better. I got the recipe from her and finally made it for Shabbos lunch dessert. Blissful, fruity, crumbly, heaven (and though am prone to exaggeration this was seriously yum).

The best part was the lemony quick, from lemon zest in the crumb topping and lemon juice in the fruit. Salivating.

Making the Crumble Topping- with lemon zest!

Making the Crumble Topping- with lemon zest!

Preparing the fruit filling

Preparing the fruit filling

The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen and I am going to paste it here:

–>Instead of butter I use margarine

–>Instead of fresh fruit, I used frozen fruit, and simply cooked the crumble a few minutes longer, until the top started to brown.

Closeup of the final product

Closeup of the final product

Posted in Dessert! | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin Kugel/Pie (Your Choice)!



Pumpkin always seemed to me like a fake vegetable used only in Halloween decorations- funnily enough it turned out to be a wondeful addition to my Shabbat repetoire. The vorlage (shout out to my dead sea scrolls class, the paper of which I should be working on at this moment) of this recipe appears at, but my version is a bit healthier, with more common ingredients:



-2 cans pumpkin puree

-1/2 cup sugar

-2 tablespoons dark rum

-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

-3 eggs

-3/4 cup orange juice

-hanful of chopped pecans/walnuts and grape nuts for the topping (optional)

–>Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix all ingredients well, and put in a greased pie pan, and bake for 50 minutes.


–>Add an additional 1/4 cup of sugar, and place the filling in a prepared pie dish!

This recipe is delicious, and a nice alternative to the usual sweet potato or butternut squash pie (though it does not beat my friend dani’s butternut squash kugel recipe, which I will hopefully write up soon!)ImageImage

Posted in Dessert!, Side Dishes | Tagged , , | 4 Comments