light and fluffy mashed potatoes

For Erev Yom Kippur dinner last night, I made mashed potatoes.  I thought they were good, but my daughter Randi swooned as she ate some and said, “These potatoes are like fluffy clouds, they’re so light!  She asked me if I had done anything different than usual to which I said I didn’t, but I realized I’d better write down what I did do!

5 lbs. organic Idaho potatoes

2 sticks Whole Foods salted butter

about 1/2 cup whole, organic milk

salt (not kosher)

about 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Peel potatoes.  Cut into largish pieces and put in large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil (uncovered), and simmer over low boil till you can put a fork into potatoes easily.  Drain in colander.  Put your sticks of butter back in pot to melt over low flame.  Add potatoes back in, and mash.  Add salt to taste and pepper too.  Then add milk, and mash till nice and fluffy.

Fastastic Italian Broccoli Or Asparagus With Seasoned Breadcrumbs and Romano Cheese

My friend Lisa gave me this fabulous recipe that her grandmother had made.  I have now made this every week since she gave it to me for my daughter and her family.  This recipe reminds me of the flavors you get with chicken or shrimp oreganata- very tasty and satisfying.  When Lisa gave me the recipe, she told me that she had discovered that when her daughter was really little, she actually liked eating broccoli because, I guess it was disguised by delicious flavors.  So it turned out that my grandson Noah also loved the broccoli this way.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince my son Danny to give it a try- that’s how much he hates broccoli anything.  But what makes this such a great recipe is that it is very substantial, and you don’t need as much of your main course, because this is just so amazing and very filling too! Thanks Lisa for sharing this recipe of your grandma’s with me!

As much broccoli or asparagus as you wish (I usually buy about 2 pounds of organic)

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

shredded Romano cheese

garlic powder, black pepper, kosher salt, dried parsley flakes

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Cut about 1 inch off the bottoms of the broccoli or asparagus, rinse with cold water to wash.  Boil a large pot of water.  Then drop broccoli into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.  Dump into collander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. 

Put oven on broil, and put oven rack about 8 inches from the heat element.  Dump broccoli on sheet pan covered with foil in single layer.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper.  Sprinkle bread crumbs heavily over all.  Then sprinkle parsley flakes over all.  Then sprinkle shredded Romano generously over all.  Give another sprinkling of black pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Place under the broiler for about 5 -7 minutes till nicely browned, but not burned.   

Do the same with asparagus.

Another Pea Soup

I like to keep a  one pound bag of split peas in the house just in case we’re in the mood for pea soup. We just had the big blizzard the day after Christmas, and I was snowed in with my son Benji.  I couldn’t have been happier.  He loves soup, I love him, so I made him a pot of delicious, warming soup.  It was a great day.

1 pound bag of green split peas

1 pound bag of yellow split peas

2 large  onion

4 quarts water

about pound of organic carrots, cut into smallish chunks

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the peas.  Put in large saucepan.  Pour the water over.  Peel onions and then pierce with a fork, and place in pot whole.  Put sliced carrots in pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered about 2 hours over low flame, adding your salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with thin egg noodles, matzoh balls, cooked Kosher hot dogs pieces, or just plain.

Greek-Style Couscous With Spinach, Garlic, Feta, And Pine Nuts

I made this recipe for my daughter Randi and her husband Dan last night as a side dish, and they loved it!  It is healthy, easy to make, and much more tasty than the average couscous recipe.  The whole wheat couscous tastes just as good as the regular, so if you can find it, I recommend using it as it is healthier. This recipe serves about 3-4 people, double this recipe for 5-8 people.

  • 1 box Near East whole wheat couscous- box says plain
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • about 3 1/2 -4 ounces of prewashed baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • about 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated on microplane
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Note:  If you do not like feta cheese, or you’d like the dish to be even less fattening, eliminate the feta cheese.

In large skillet, toast pine nuts till lightly browned.  Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 very large ( or 4 small) minced garlic cloves and put flame on medium.  Saute until garlic is translucent.  Add spinach over low flame, just until spinach is wilted.  Add salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice and zest.  Take off heat.  (You can do this part in advance if you wish.) 

A few minutes before you are ready to serve, follow directions and recipe on box for couscous- follow exactly.  When couscous is ready, add it to warmed spinach mixture in large skillet and mix.  Spoon into serving bowl, sprinkle feta cheese over, mix gently, and serve.

Vegetarian Pea Soup With Matzah Balls

I have made pea soup for years.  For years, I made it with flanken.  My mother, father, and children loved it.  My in-law Marcia Greenhouse though had the brilliant idea of making the soup without meat and adding matzah balls to the recipe!  Since her son and my daughter were both vegetarians who couldn’t eat chicken soup with matzah balls, she decided, why not make the matzah balls with pea soup?  The consensus in the family is that Marcia’s matza balls are better than mine, and I totally agree.  My daughter Randi always asks me why Marcia’s matzah balls are better than mine, and I just don’t have the answer.   Here is the recipe for my delicious pea soup and my and Marcia’s matzah balls.  Oh, I made a really big pot, and then I freeze the rest in quart containers (with the matza balls).

for the soup: 

  • 6 tubes of Manischewitz split pea soup mix (I throw the seasoning packets away)
  • about 24 cups of cold water (about 5 quarts)
  • kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons or to taste
  • pepper, about 2 – 3 teaspoons or to taste
  • 2 large onions, peeled – but left whole
  • 2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
  • optional – 1/2 box of alphabet noodles or barley shaped noodles (only if you are not making matzah balls)

Pour the contents of  6 tubes of Manischewitz pea soup mix into the bottom of a very large pot.  Pour in about 24 cups of water (about 4 cups of water for each soup mix packet).  Pierce the two onions with a fork and place in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Skim scum off top.  Add salt and pepper.  Lower flame to low.  Simmer with top on.  After about one hour, add the cut up carrots.  Continue to simmer with cover on  for at least one more hour until you don’t see any more pieces of dried peas.  Discard onions.  If you are adding the noodles, boil them separately and then add them to the soup when the soup is fully cooked.

for the matzah balls:

  • 1 box (2 packets) Manishewitz matzah ball mix
  • oil and eggs- for quantities, see instructions on box

Follow directions on the box exactly.  Refrigerate batter, according to directions on the box.  Then, form the matzah balls using dampened hands.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the matzah balls to that pot and cook according to package directions.  Add  cooked matzah balls to the soup. 

Note:  Freeze leftover soup and matzah balls in quart containers. 

   

Thin-Sliced Fried Eggplant With Marinara Sauce

I had this at my in-law’s Marsha’s house. Her husband Al Berman made this for an appetizer. It was DELICIOUS!!! You can serve this as an appetizer, or as a quick and healthy dinner served with marinara sauce and a salad. Believe it or not, my sons, Danny and Benji both love this, and they hate eggplant. Try this for your kids.

  • 1 or 2 eggplants (choose eggplants that have a smaller diameter), peeled
  • 1 or 2 eggs (or as many as necessary) mixed with a little water
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • oil, for frying
  • marinara sauce, for serving

Peel eggplants and slice them thinly, between an 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Place in egg mixture. Then dredge in bread crumbs thoroughly on both sides.

Heat a large frying pan or 2 pans until hot. Then add oil, either light olive oil, canola, corn, or vegetable oil about 1/8 inch high in pan. When oil starts to shimmer, add eggplant. Fry on both sides until nicely browned.  Add oil as needed.

Serve with marinara sauce, either a good jarred variety such as “The Silver Palate” or my delicious homemade marinara sauce.

Roasted String Beans and Tomatoes

This dish is easy to make, healthy, delicious, and the colors are beautiful.  I made this for my son Danny and myself, and to my shock, Danny loved it, even though he doesn’t usually like string beans. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of fresh string beans, ends trimmed
  • about 8-10 plum tomatoes or 2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • kosher salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • olive oil (I use light)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Cut plum tomatoes into medium size chunks, each about the size of a half of a cherry tomato.  If using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half.  Place on prepared sheet pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons oil over, sprinkle with salt and pepper and thyme.  Toss with your hands to coat well with oil.  Roast uncovered in oven for about 45 minutes.  Then take out, and add the string beans.  Drizzle a little more oil over beans and sprinkle beans with salt and pepper.  Then toss gently.  Roast for another 20-30 minutes until the beans start to brown on the ends.  Serve.

Passover Spinach Pie Or Passover Spanikopita

This Is The Best Recipe For Passover Spinach Pie Or Passover Spanikopita!

Last year, our wonderful friends, the Slotnicks, invited us over for a Passover Seder.  I wanted to bring a main course dish that my daughter and her husband, who are both vegetarians, would enjoy.  My daughter loves the Greek dish called spanikopita or spinach pie, so I decided to create my own Passover version of it.  It turned out delicious!  And it only took about 30 minutes to prepare.  We’re getting very close to Passover, and I definitely plan to make this Passover spanikopita for Seder or just for a light dinner this year!

  • about 6 matza boards
  • 5 extra large or jumbo eggs (3 for filling, 2 for pouring over the top)
  • 1-10 ounce box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
  • 8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, chopped finely
  • about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried dill or 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped dill
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease sides and bottom of  a 9 x 13 pyrex or ceramic baking dish well with butter or margarine.

In a medium mixing bowl, gently mix the drained spinach with the crumbled feta, the chopped raw onion, 3 eggs the pepper, and the dill; set aside.

Soak about 3 matzas in warm water in another 9 x 13 baking dish.  When the matza starts to soften, gently squeeze the water out, very carefully, so that you don’t crumble the matza.  Then place the matzas in the bottom of the pan to cover it.  Do not overlap the matza; just lay it side by side covering the bottom of the pan the way you would if you were making lasagna.

Spread the entire spinach mixture evenly over the matza, covering the matza completely.  Then soak another 3 matzas in warm water, gently squeeze out excess water, and place the matza over the top of the spinach, covering the spinach completely.  Beat the remaining 2 eggs and pour over the matza.  Dot with butter or margarine.  Bake covered for about 30 minutes till hot and bubbly.

Note #1:  You can prepare this in advance and refrigerate this up until the step where you pour the 2 beaten eggs over the matza.  Then when you wish to bake it, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, pour the 2 beaten eggs over it, dot it with butter or margarine and bake covered, for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Note #2:  You may substitute 1 pound of fresh spinach for the frozen, but you will need to saute it (very briefly) in a little oil, butter or margarine, just until it wilts and turns a dark green before you mix it with the feta, egg, onion, pepper, and dill. I like to use the frozen spinach, because 1-16 ounce box of frozen spinach is equivalent to much more than 1 pound of fresh spinach.

Ellen’s Delicious Passover Pineapple Kugel

Learn To Make This Outstanding Pineapple Kugel For Passover!  

I adapted this recipe from a recipe I got from my friend Ellen Wachstein.  Ellen is an amazing person and a wonderful friend! I have so many memories of the happy times my family spent over the years with Ellen, her husband Bobby, and her three great children, Toby, Steven, and Alexa. My favorite memories are of the many days our two families spent together at the Phillips Avenue Beach Pavilion in Deal, New Jersey, or of the many times our two families just hung out together at their house or our house.  Anyway, my family was lucky to be invited over to the Wachstein’s for a Passover Seder one year.  Bobby Wachstein does a fabulous job of leading the Seder!  Of course, I was very into the food.  One of the dishes Ellen made for the Seder was her Passover pineapple kugel.  I loved it.  I got the recipe and I make it every year for Passover.  Whenever I am invited to anyone’s home for a Seder, I always bring this dish, and it  gets rave reviews.  I know if you make this pineapple kugel for Passover once, it will become a favorite of yours, too!

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine (use unsalted margarine to make this dish pareve, otherwise you can use salted margarine or butter) (used margarine for Passover 2014)(used butter Passover 2015)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (you only need salt if you are using unsalted butter or margarine)
  • scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2- 20 ounce cans crushed pineapple in natural juice, strained but not dry at all (you will not be using the juice)
  • 6 extra large eggs, mixed in a small bowl (switch to 7 ex. lg. next time– to give a little more liquid)
  • 4 cups of dry matza farfel (used whole canister April 2014) This year, I used 14 oz. of matza that I broke into pieces myself when I couldn’t find farfel)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling on top (also sprinkled cinn. and sugar on top April 2014) I used 2 1/2 teaspoons 2015 and sprinkled top too

to make the kugel:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the margarine into a 9 x 13 baking dish, rectangular or oval, and place in the oven.  When it is melted take out the pan, swirl the margarine around in the pan to make sure that the sides and bottom are well greased.  Pour the melted margarine into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Place a colander in the sink.  Put the whole canister (14 oz.) of matza farfel in the colander.  Run warm water over the matza farfel.  When the matza farfel starts to soften, turn the water off.  The pieces of farfel should be soft, but not mushy.  This is the tricky part.  Because if you have let too much water soak into the matza farfel, it will turn into one glob of mush, and you will have to throw it away and start all over.  Hold the colander with both hands and shake the excess water out, the way you would if you were draining pasta.  Dump the matza farfel into the large mixing bowl with the melted margarine.  Mix the farfel gently with the melted margarine using a rubber spatula.  Pour the sugar and the drained pineapple into the mixing bowl and mix gently with the rubber spatula.   Pour the beaten eggs in, and mix gently to incorporate well.  Add the cinnamon, and mix in.

Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle the top with additional cinnamon.  The cinnamon on the top is what is going to make the kugel look pretty, so be generous.  Bake about 60 – 65 minutes until kugel is browned on the sides and the bottom.  Serve.

Hint #1:  You can bake this in advance, then cut up into 24 pieces, place in heavy duty aluminum foil, and then heat up later either  in the microwave (If you are heating this up in the microwave, take it out of the aluminum foil, and place it on a microwave safe plate).

Hint #2:  I like to bake this in a clear glass baking dish so I can see if the sides and the bottom are browning.  If you bake this in a ceramic baking dish, it will be harder for you to know if the kugel is done.

Chippy Linder’s Kasha Varnishkes

Learn To Make This Traditional Eastern European Jewish Dish Right In Your Own Home!

Kasha varnishkes is most definitely a Jewish dish that most non-Jews probably never even heard of …until they saw one of my all-time favorite Seinfeld episodes, the one where a rabbi who lived in Elaine’s building said to Elaine, “Would you like to come up to my apartment for some kasha varnishkes?” Larry David’s masterful and incomparable writing unveiled kasha varnishkes to mainstream America and the world. Well, I’ve been making kasha varnishkes for years, and I have an incredible recipe for it which came from my mother’s close friend, Chippy Linder. The first time I tasted Chippy’s kasha varnishkas, I knew I would have to learn how to make her recipe.  I love to make this dish for my daughter Randi and her husband Dan, and for my mother and my son Benji. What really sets this recipe apart from others is the delicious taste of the fried onions and the texture of the miniature bowtie noodles. You may think this dish is hard to make, but it really is quite easy. Once you make it one time, you won’t need to open up another box of Cohen’s frozen kasha varnishkes or pay a lot of money for it at your local deli. Master this recipe and you will be on your way to becoming a real Jewish cook!

  • 12 ounces (1 box Ronzoni miniature bowtie pasta- egg bows #138)
  • 1- 13 oz. box Wolff’s medium or coarse kasha
  • 2-3 pounds of onions
  • 2 eggs
  • corn, canola, or light olive oil
  •  reserved pasta water (from when you boil the bow ties)
  • kosher salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

Dice onions by hand or using metal blade in food processor. Pour a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Pour onions into pan, season with kosher salt and pepper, and fry onions over medium flame until well browned but not burned. Set aside pan with the fried onions.

In medium saucepan, put contents of box of kasha, a few dashes of kosher salt and about 10 grinds of cracked pepper. Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl, and then pour into the pan with the kasha. Turn heat to medium. Mix the kasha with the egg with a fork for a few minutes. The kasha will start to dry out. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the egg has dried on the kasha and the kasha kernels are separate. Add about 3 cups of boiling or very hot water. Stir, and then cover pot and cook over very low flame for 10 minutes until kasha is tender and the liquid is absorbed.  If you think the kasha looks too dry, add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the miniature bowtie noodles according to package directions until just cooked. Drain in colander. Put the pasta in a very large mixing bowl. Add the cooked kasha and the fried diced onions. Mix, and add more salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add any leftover oil from the pan that you fried the onions in. If you think the kasha varnishkes are too dry, add one tablespoon of oil and a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Mix well. Serve hot.

Note 1: This makes about 3 -4 quarts. If you want to make a smaller quantity, just halve all the ingredients.

Note 2: You can make this 1 or 2 days in advance, and then heat in a bowl in the microwave. When you reheat, you may need to add a drop more oil if the kasha seems too dry and some extra salt and pepper to taste. You can also freeze leftovers in quart containers in the freezer.

Note 3:  If your family members are allergic to wheat, then eliminate the noodles from the recipe.  Kasha is wheat and gluten free.