Sharing our love of baking, cooking and edible gardening

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coconut-Cinnamon Macaroons (kosher for Passover, gluten free)

Coconut-Cinnamon Macaroon
adapted from

This year I spent an inordinate amount of time looking through macaroon recipes. I'm not sure what I was looking for, I have a good stand-by recipe from Scharffenberger chocolate, but this one caught my eye. It's easier than many, there is no cooking prior to baking; just whip egg whites, add the remaining ingredients and form small walnut size balls. The original recipe called for dipping the macaroon in melted chocolate to coat about half the cookie. In my version I baked plain macaroons as well as macaroons with mini-chips They are light and delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and airy in the inside.

These cookies whip up in minutes, but do require a hand or stand mixer (for whipping the egg whites). 

1 c sugar (divide 1/2 to blend into egg whites, 1/2 for the coconut mixture
3 c flaked coconut
3 Tsp maple syrup 
1 tsp vanilla sugar 
pinch kosher salt 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
3/4 c mini chocolate chips (optional) 

variation: melt 12 oz bittersweet chocolate and dip the cooled cookies to coat 1/2 of the cookie 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
2. Combine the coconut, 1/2c sugar, maple syrup, vanilla sugar, salt, cinnamon and chips (if using) in a bowl.
3. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add 1/2 c sugar, while continuously beating
4. Add the coconut mixture and beat or mix well
5. Let stand for 5 minutes or so to help the mixture set
6. Wet your hands a bit and form walnut-size balls, placing them about an inch apart on the cookie sheet
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The macaroons will look golden and toasty. Remove from the oven. Slide the paper off of the cookie sheet onto a rack or other flat surface and cool before handling and storing


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Matzah-Onion Kugel with Onion Confit Topping (Kosher for Passover)

Kugel is great- make it ahead of time,  served hot or room temperature,  and then you can save the rest for re-warmed left overs! 

This kugel is the savory matzah kugel we're using as a side-dish at our Seders this year. I made it with whole-wheat matzah, but regular white would work just as well.  The onion confit topping was made by slow cooking sliced red onions until they were almost the consistency of  jam.

If you are unfamiliar with kugel - think of this as stuffing made on the side.

Due to time constraints I made the kugel over two days. The onion confit can be made a day or two ahead (as I did). Once the confit is made, the assembly takes about 30 minutes and baking 60-70 minutes.

2 qt saucepan
Sharp knife, cutting board
Large mixing bowl, mixing spoon
Measuring cup, spoon
Baking pan (approximately 9x13)

For the confit:

  • Thinly sliced red onions (approximately 3 lbs, enough to fill the 2 qt pan)
  • 1/3 c grape juice or sweet wine
  • 1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 Tbsp apricot preserves or marmalade
  • Pinch salt (kosher or sea salt) 
For the kugel:
  • 8 matzah boards (whole wheat or white)
  • 2 large red onions, diced 
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 6 large eggs, mixed
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp of both, but you should taste the mixture- before adding the raw eggs- to judge for yourself) 
  • additional olive oil for greasing the pan 
Prepare the confit:
1. Slice the onions and fill the 2 qt saucepan
2. Pour about half of the grape juice over the onions, sprinkle the salt, add the apricot jam
3. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat until the onions are very soft (about an hour); stir occasionally, add a small amount of grape juice (or wine) if needed 
4. Cool, store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  The confit can be made a day or two ahead of time

Prepare the kugel: 
1. Saute the diced onion in olive oil until pieces are soft and a small portion is beginning to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat and cool
2.Place 8 matzah boards into a large mixing bowl. Break the boards into large pieces and pour 2-3 cups of boiling water over the matzah. Mix to ensure that the water saturates the matzah. The matzah will absorb most, if not all of the water 

3. If any water remains after 5 minutes, pour it off.  Add the sauteed onions, salt and pepper into the matzah mixture. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees 
4. Mix and cool  

4. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and mix. Pour the egg mixture into the matzah- onion mixture. Mix lightly 
5. Liberally grease a baking pan with olive oil, making sure to grease the sides as well as the bottom of the pan.  Pour the kugel mixture into the pan 
6. Spread the onion confit on top of the mixture

7. Slide the kugel into the oven, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 60-70 minutes. The onions will start to brown a bit and the kugel will feel firm to touch
8. Serve hot or at room temperature. You can make the kugel ahead of time - bake, cool, double wrap and freeze in the baking pan. Unwrap when you defrost and place in the oven after the kugel is defrosted to warm up a bit 
9. Serve in the baking pan or slice and place slices on a platter. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Nuggets (Kosher for Passover)

Thank you King Arthur Flour for the basic recipe!

This cookie is made in one bowl, mixed with a spoon, baked on a parchment paper lined pan. Prep is 10 minutes, clean up is faster!  This couldn't be easier! 

Cookie sheet
Parchment paper
Mixing bowl, measuring cup, mixing spoon, measuring spoon
Large mixing bowl

Ingredients and Procedure: 

Mix together: 
3 large egg whites 
1 cup confectioner's sugar (available for Passover)
2 Tbsp vanilla sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa

The mixture will be sticky, but will come together and look like thick fudge frosting. 

1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts 

Mix well and drop by the tbsp,  onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  The mixture will make 18-24 medium size cookies. 

Bake in a pre-heated oven, 350 degrees, for about 9 minutes. The chocolate will begin to look set and dry. 

Slide the parchment off of the cookie sheet and cool the cookies completely on the parchment. 
Remove the cookies by sliding a metal spatula under the cookie. Store in a closed container, with either parchment or waxed paper between layers. 

* I think that chocolate chips and dried cranberries would work as well. If anyone tries this, please let me know!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pumpkin Samsa (Bukaharian- Uzbek baked vegetarian dumplings)

Vegetarian Samsa
Adapted from Gil Mark's Olive Trees and Honey. Wiley 2005 

Bukharian Jews are an ancient Jewish community from Central Asia. They have a distinct culture and like Jewish communities throughout the world developed a Jewish-Persian dialect called Bukhori.  The community remained isolated over the centuries, with short periods of time that they enjoyed safety and flourished. Over time they dropped their Persian-Jewish practices and with exposure to traveling scholars from Ottoman Palestine began practicing Judaism in the Sephardi tradition. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 an exodus began, speeding up after World War II. The community has almost completely relocated to Israel and parts of the United States, with remnant communities existing in Tashkent (Uzbekestan) and Dushanbe (Tajikistan). The community in Dushanbe was almost totally destroyed in the early 2000's; the majority of the community has emigrated. 

Dumplings are a delicious export from ancient China. Food ingredients and preparation methods crossed national and cultural boundaries all along the ancient trade routes. The Bukharian Jews living along the the "Silk Road," the overland trade route stretching from China, through Central Asia are no exception. 

Samsa are ubiquitous in Central Asia with many variant fillings, including meat, mutton, fat from the tail of the sheep, onions and various vegetables. They are baked, whether inside a tandoor or a typical western-style oven. The vegetarian version I've included are typical of "pareve" (non-dairy/non-meat) fillings created for use on Shabbat and at other festive meals. 

Other vegetable versions of samsa I found use cabbage and beets, flavored with coriander, pepper and cumin as well as green herb mixtures that include cilantro, parsley, mint. On one blog, written by a woman in Uzbekistan, I found a recipe for samsa that included chickpeas, onions, coriander and black pepper. 

This recipe includes instructions for making a stiff dough found Gil Mark's Olive Tree's & Honey. Some of the cooks and blog authors I've found on line recommend using puff pastry (a different dough texture) or ready-made won-ton wrappers (a fall back used for kreplach as well). 

The filling is made by slowly cooking the vegetables and completely cooling. Both the dough and filling can be made up to 2 days before assembly. 

The dough is rolled, filled, placed on baking sheets and baked. Making dumplings is time consuming and in my opinion its better to make more than you need and freeze the extra dumplings for use at another time. 

Samsa are triangle shaped, however, from examining various sources, including a You Tube video, is formed in a manner similar to making a folded paper hat, then turned over so the smooth side faces up while the dumplings bake. 

I made the dough in a Cuisinart; however, it can be mixed in a bowl
mixing bowl
measuring cups, measuring spoons, scale 
rolling pin
silpat or other flat surface for rolling out the dough (if you are making your own dough)
heavy bottom pan (to slow cook the squash)
mixing spoon
heavy gauge baking sheet
parchment paper 

8 oz (1 c) warm water
2-3 Tbsp neutral oil (corn, safflower) or clarified butter (which will make the samsa dairy)
1.5 tsp kosher salt 
12 oz (3 scant cups) all purpose flour 
2 eggs, mixed + 2 tsp vegetable oil  (for egg wash)

Squash/Pumpkin filling:
1/4 c neutral vegetable oil 
2 large onions, diced 
1 - 1.5 lb peeled, seeded and diced winter squash (I use butternut, but any hard squash will work)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper 

For the dough:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and salt.
2. Mix the oil into the water and slowly add the water through the feed while blending the mixture. 
3. Mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Transfer to a slightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 1 hour (or up to 2 days). 

Alternatively: use prepared won-ton or dumpling wrappers (square shaped). 

For the filling:
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan (a heavy base pan will work better), add the onion and slowly cook  until the pieces just begin to caramelize.
2. Add the diced squash and cover. Cook slowly until the squash is soft (15-25 minutes depending on the squash you use). Stir the mixture to prevent burning, but do not add water. 
3. Mix in the spices and either mash the mixture or spin it in the food processor to form a puree. 
4. Cool the mixture completely. 

To assemble the dumplings:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Take a small portion of dough (about 1/4 of the total), knead a bit, form into     an oblong and begin to roll out to a thin rectangle.  Dust the work surface with flour to keep from sticking. 
2. Fold the top third over the center of the rectangle, and the bottom third over     the folded portion. You are essentially creating a "layered" effect in the dough. 
3. You will have a log shape. Roll out to lengthen the log and then reverse the       rolling to create a rectangle, approximately 12" x 6" 
4. Cutting across the width of the dough, cut the rectangle into 6-8 portions. 

5. Roll out one portion to create a rectangle approximately 4"x3" - it will shrink       back a bit. Brush with egg mixture. 

6. Place a heaping Tbsp of filling, centered in the upper third of the rectangle. Fold the dough over the filling and press the edge to cover the filling. The lower third     of the dough will have no filling on it. Brush the exposed dough with egg               mixture. Fold it up (as if forming a folded paper hat or paper boat). Smooth           over the filled portion. The egg mixture will help seal all of the seams. 
7. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush top surface with       egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn baking sheet 180 degrees and bake an additional 10- 12 minutes until the dumplings begin to turn a light golden color. 
9. Cool dumplings on a rack. Repeat the process until the dough is used up.         Depending on the size of the dumplings you create this recipe will make                 approximately 24-30 dumplings. 
10. Dumplings can be served with spicey tomato sauce (to keep the dish pareve or non-dairy) or sour cream. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Almond Cake (Non-Dairy)

This cake is a non-dairy version of Amanda Hesser's Almond Cake, found in the New York Times Essential Cookbook and earlier in her column in the New York Times, August, 2001. Not all cakes can make the jump from dairy to non-dairy without suffering for it - but this one, which I've made several times, really stands up to the modification. This cake looks much like a nut torte, but does contain flour.

Amanda Hesser credited the recipe to her mother-in-law, Elizabeth. She wrote that her mother-in-law described the cake as, "The Shar-Pei of cakes."  Assuming that her mother in law meant ugly but delightful, it's an apt description. The cake crumbles a bit along the edges and doesn't always slice perfectly; however, it's rich and very yummy.

The cake is assembled without any special tricks: creaming fat and sugar, adding other fat ingredients (almond paste and egg yolks) and moving onto liquids and solids.  The leaving agent is a combination of four egg yolks and baking soda. The original recipe incorporates the baking soda into sour cream, since I use coconut milk "yogurt" mixed with a bit of white vinegar, I mix the baking soda into the flour and not into the liquid mixture.


  • 2 - 8inch round cake pans (the original recipe calls for springform pans, I use regular cake pans successfully 
  • parchment paper to line the bottom of the pans
  • electric mixer or stand mixer 
  • measuring cups, spoons
  • kitchen scale 
  • silicone spatula
  •  9 oz (just a bit over 2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or margarine
  • 1 1/3 c granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 7 oz almond paste (I use Love 'n Bake, which comes in a 10 oz can. Weigh the required 7 oz and wrap the remainder and store in the freezer) 
  • 4 large egg yolks 
  • 1 tsp almond extract 
  • 1 container (6oz) coconut milk "yogurt" (plain or vanilla) 
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  •  1/2 cup sliced or diced almonds (optional) 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease the 2 pans, line the bottom of each with parchment paper.  
  2. Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. Cream the margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the salt and almond paste, a small chunk at a time. Keep mixing until well blended.
  4. Add the yolks, one at a time, continuously mixing. The mixture will be creamy. Add the extract.
  5. Combine the coconut milk and vinegar and pour into the mixing bowl and continue to blend.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture at low speed and mix until just blended. Don't over mix, you are not looking to develop gluten. 
  7. Divide and pour into the prepared pans. The mixture will be thick, use a spatula to smooth out as well as you can. The batter will not pour in nicely, it will look a bit rough around the edges - don't worry- it will mostly smooth out in the oven. This cake does look a bit rustic after baked- that's ok. 
  8. Top with almonds if desired. (The original recipe suggested a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the finished cake.)
  9. Bake for 1 hour. The cake will brown slightly, feel firm but soft in the center. Cool completely and then use the parchment at the bottom to help you lift the cake out of the pan. The cake crumbles easily. 
  10. This cake is best when left to age for a day or two before serving. Amanda Hesser notes that it stays well for a week or two, I've never had that experience, the cake gets eaten too quickly! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Egg Kichel (Bow Tie Cookies)

Recipe, thanks to Inside the Jewish Bakery by Ginsberg and Berg.

Kichel  (Bow Tie cookies) often tastes like sugar coated cardboard. As a kid it was one of the few sweetened carbs that I could skip. With the advent of packaged "bow tie" cookies I think the product got even worse; however, leafing through Ginsberg and Berg's Inside the Jewish Bakery  a few years ago and reminiscing about many of the baked goods displayed I suddenly had an unexplainable yen for the kichel I never cared for. We delightfully found that home made kichel is delicious: crisp and not too sweet. I will make a comparison that some people will understand: it's like eating a sweetened version of chow-mein noodles (the wide kind). light, airy, crisp and way too easy to eat too many. 

Egg kichel, along with less than delicious honey cake and tasteles chiffon cake was, at one time, a mainstay of the "basic" Saturday kiddush at the end of synagogue services.  The odd thing is that although the "shul cake" as many people call it was often tasteless, if not stale, Jewish bakeries, whether European or Middle Eastern produce wonderful baked goods and sweets. Why an entire category of poor quality baked goods became the center of the table, celebrating the Sabbath bride, is beyond me. 

By the time I decided the bake the cookies (and go from the nostalgic reading of Ginsberg & Berg's narrative to reading the actual recipe) I had a "duh" moment - the full name of the cookie: eier kichel (egg cookie) of course means that this is an egg-ful cookie. Unlike an "egg cream," which has no eggs, egg kichel actually uses many eggs- they serve as the dough leavening agent. Think of it as Passover baking with flour. (There are Pesach kichel recipes, but they remind me of....yes......sweetened cardboard). 

Don't consider making Egg Kichel unless you: 1. are able to consume a great deal of cholesterol (there are 13 yolks in the recipe), 2. have a powerful electric mixer (the dough really needs to be kneaded until thick and stretchy) and 3. want to re-imagine an old fashioned food that is much better than the reputation it has. 

Assembly was similar to making bread with one short rise. Mix the ingredients, beat (knead) until a stiff stretchy dough results (sort of like thick silly putty). Rest. Roll out, cut, twist, place on baking pans and bake. Kichel must cool completely before storing. I'm freezing the batch pictured by double wrapping and placing in the freezer (for six weeks, which will still be fine). 

heavy duty mixer or stand mixer 
measuring cups, spoons
kitchen scale 
baking sheets
parchment paper (for lining the baking sheets)

1.5 oz (3Tbsp +1 tsp) granulated sugar
1 tsp table salt (NOT kosher salt)
4 large eggs
9 large egg yolks
6 oz (3/4c) neutral vegetable oil 
1.5 tsp vanilla 
16 oz (4 scant c) all purpose flour
18 oz (2.5 c) granulated sugar for coating 

1. Pour eggs into the mixing bowl and on low speed blend the whole eggs and egg yolks
2. Add remaining dough ingredients and mix at low speed (KitchenAid speed 2) until the dough is very stretchy and shiney (this will take about 20 minutes).  I stop occasionally and use a flexible dough scraper or silicone spatula to scrape the dough and push down into the bowl.  

NOTE: the dough will resemble still "silly putty,"  very shiny and stretchable and pulling away from the sides of the bowl - keep mixing until you reach that point. 

3. Scoop up the dough, pat it into a ball, place onto a floured surface and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes - this rest helps the gluten relax and will make it easier to roll out. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. On the floured surface pat the dough into a rectangle. Spread out approximately 1 cup of sugar on the work surface and roll the dough directly over the sugar.  The dough should be rolled to approximately 1/4 inch thick. Liberally sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top of the dough. 

6. Cut small rectangles  (approximately 2.5x1)  using a pizza cutter, bench knife or knife. 

7. Taking one portion at a time, twist the dough piece at the center and set on the baking sheet.  The dough will resemble a "bow tie." Repeat until the baking sheet is filled. Scoop up some of the sugar from the work surface and sprinkle onto the unbaked bow ties. The sugar will form a white sparkly- frosty crust over the baked cookie. 
Press each dough piece at the point of the twist, this will help prevent
the dough from untwisting as it bakes

8. Bake, one pan at a time, in the top 1/3 of the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking if the cookies are browning unevenly.  The cookies must be starting to puff and turn slightly brown before you remove them from the oven - otherwise they will deflate. 
9. Cool the cookies completely and store in a closed container (or double wrap and freeze). This recipe makes 6-7 dozen small kichelach (plural of kichel). 

These cookies are perfect when paired with a cup of tea....or something a bit stronger. 

Memories of eating kichel are welcome! Please leave comments below.