Category Archives: Passover

Easy Springtime Vegetables

During the Passover/Easter weekend I did a lot, a lot, A LOT of cooking — which also meant a lot of eating.  when I was planning the menu I wanted healthy and spring dishes.

Here are two bright, colorful, and healthy winners – Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower.

Roasted Parsley Carrots, adapted from The New York Times
2 pounds carrots, peeled, then cut in half  horizontally and then down the middle vertically
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a prep bowl drizzle the olive oil over the carrots and then sprinkle in the salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
Lay the carrots on a foil covered baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until fork tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Add parsley just before serving.
Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, adapted from Martha Stewart
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), broken into 1-inch florets
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), broken into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Prep the broccoli and cauliflower, wash, dry, and cut and place in large Ziploc bag or Tupperware. 
Add to the container the olive oil, salt and pepper, thinly sliced garlic and the lemon slices.  Close the container and shake thoroughly to fully coat all of the pieces with the oil, lemon and garlic.
I left my vegetable bag in the refrigerator overnight, but you could also skip right to the roasting.
Lay the contents of the bag onto a covered baking sheet and into a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, longer for crispier vegetables.  Check the vegetables at the midway point and toss on the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
These recipes were affordable to source, a cinch to prepare, healthy and kid approved.

Tradition, Tradition… or Not?

We’re just days away from two major holidays, Passover and Easter.  I grew up celebrating Passover and Mark’s family celebrates Easter and together we practice our family’s traditions and have created some new ones that are now all our own.

For us, the root of our traditions centers on our love of food.  Food brings people together, it sparks conversation, and it inspires people to learn more, share more, and love more.

This year for Passover, we’ll be doing a quiet Seder at home and we’ll be hosting a spring brunch on Sunday that will feature elements of both traditions.

As I do my menu planning, I continue to debate (with myself) what to make.  The trouble with tradition, or perhaps the reason for tradition, is that so many of the “traditional” foods are no longer part of our regular diet – dishes like low and slow cooked brisket, oversized matzo ball soup, kugels, honey cakes, are once, twice, maybe three times a year specialties.   But, that is what makes them special – heavy too – but always special.

Does a departure from the traditional Ashkenazi (Eastern European) menu in favor of a Latin/Asian/Sephardic (North African) inspired meal mean I am losing my traditions?  What would Tevye say?  Or is it a fun and inspired way to add new culinary skills to a millienia old meal?

These oil laden dishes are really most worth savoring because of the stories of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents that made the same dishes in their own kitchens once upon a time.

In the end I think I will continue to slowly and very subtly make adjustments to our menu, but one thing is for sure, we’ll eat lots and lots of matzo.

If you’re invited to a Seder or just want to have a sweet Passover friendly treat try this recipe out:

For Matzo Toffee – or Matzo Crack, depends on who you ask!
4 to 5 pieces of matzo*
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Toppings, as desired
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and/or parchment paper.
  • Place the matzo in one layer on the baking sheet, breaking it when necessary to fill the pan completely. Set aside.
  • In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture reaches a boil, continue to cook for an additional three minutes, still stirring, until thickened and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and pour over the matzo, spreading an even layer with a heat-proof spatula.  Be super careful, this is a great way to burn a finger or a hand.
  • Put the pan in the oven, then immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn. If it looks like it is starting to burn, turn heat down to 325.
  • After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate over the pan. Let sit for five minutes, then spread the now-melted chocolate evenly with a spatula.
  • You can leave it just as is, enjoying the simplicity. Or add your favorite toppings while the chocolate is still melted.   I like to add dried unsweetened fruit or blanched almonds or pistachios, steer clear of the peanuts, they are not kosher for Passover.

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes – Gluten Free/Dairy Free

Sometimes you just have to do your sweet tooth a favor, and by favor, I obviously mean indulge its cravings and drown it out in chocolate.  That’s pretty much the deal with anything that is triple chocolate, like these triple chocolate cupcakes.  I made them for a family gathering, because I wanted to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions, even if cupcakes typically fall outside of a diet.  And, the beauty of these cupcakes is that, even though they are dairy and gluten free, they are awesome!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Elana’s Pantry, which is an amazing resource for anyone exploring GF baking


¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup vegan chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon kosher sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup agave nectar
Set oven to 375 degrees

Here’s the thing, with gluten free baking you might come across ingredients that seem a little “ehh” or just plain weird.  Frankly that is how I felt about the coconut flour, mainly because the smell and taste of coconut reminds me of a bottle of Banana Boat, but this high in fiber flour has no such smell or taste. So fear not!

Moving on… In a medium size bowl combine the coconut flour and coca powder, salt and baking soda.

In a separate and larger bowl, blend the oil, eggs and agave.  Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and add the chocolate chips.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into muffin wrappers and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Check with a toothpick to make sure they are done and fully baked.

While the beautiful and very chocolatey cupcakes are cooling, get to work on the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting


3/4 cup dairy-free spread (Earth-Balance is also soy-free)
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
6 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl mix the coca powder, and powdered sugar over the spread with a spoon.  Add the vanilla and then use a blender to fully incorporate and achieve the soft, whipped consistency of butter cream, you know without the butter.

Pour yourself a big, BIG glass of milk/soy milk/rice milk/almond milk and enjoy!

Easy Passover Desserts

Oh, did you forget tonight was Passover?  You forgot you were supposed to bring a dessert to your friend’s/coworker’s/cousin’s/mother-in-law’s house?  Oh you’re supposed to bring a dessert and you don’t have like an extra 6,000 eggs lying around, and matzah cake meal?

Do not worry.  Walk away from the bakery counter.  Matzah Toffee to the rescue!

The ingredients are simple, and because its basically sugar, butter and chocolate (and your creativity) it is hard to go wrong.  And you can get ready at the same time!

5 sheets of matzah
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil, and lay out the matzah.  

In a medium size sauce pot, over low heat, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar.  While stirring constantly, watch for the sugar to melt into the butter.  When it starts to bubble remove from the heat.  Off the stove add the vanilla, or other extract that you might like – or none at all, and the salt, and continue to stir.

With a heat-proof spatula spread the toffee mixture on top of the matzah getting as close to all four corners as possible.  

Put the entire tray into a warm oven of 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (Take a shower).

Out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips onto the hot toffee’d matzah and then tent the entire tray with tin foil and let it sit for 15 minutes.  When tented the heat will melt the chocolate and you’re free to do other things.  (Go do your make up).
Come back to the matzah and spread the chocolate with a knife or spatula and then be creative, sprinkle with a little sea salt, some chopped pistachios or almonds, or candied ginger.

Put the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer.  (Dry your hair). When you’re ready to go, break into candy bar sized pieces.

Enjoy with family and friends – this sweet treat is perfect as a Passover dessert, hosting gift, or a quick snack.

Happy Passover!

Menu Planning for Passover

On Monday night our family will come over for a Passover Seder.  I am excited to start cooking and have been assembling a menu for weeks.

If you were eating at my house, this is what you’d get!

Herbed Salad

Mark’s Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
via The Daily Batch
Julie’s Charoset

Matzah Ball Soup
Homemade Matzah
via The Daily Batch

Smitten Kitchen’s Slow Cooked Brisket
via Smitten Kitchen

Herbed Potatoes

Roasted Asparagus
via Bon Appetit
Roasted Carrots

 Chocolate Mousse Pie in Coconut Macaroon Shell
Knowing myself I am sure there will be a few more items that sneak onto the table…  What are you favorite Passover foods?  If you’ve never celebrated is there anything you’re interested in trying?

Passover Humor


I’ve got Passover on the brain; I am menu planning, I am planning to clean, and I am writing/revising a Haggadah (the book that is read during the Passover meal).  Least of my worries is what to wear for Passover.

Which is why I got a good laugh when my friend forwarded me this email from Rent the Runway:
Friends, there are few guarantees in life, but of this I can be sure.  I will not be wearing the Diane Von Furstenberg Taste of Elegance Dress for my taste of matzah.  It’s a beauty but you’d probably be better off wearing it to the next J-Date “Matzah Madness” Happy Hour.

For more Passover humor, with a techie twist, please watch this, laugh, and talk amongst yourself (in the comments!).



Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche

Sometimes it is a Monday night and you realize you have like 12 mushrooms in your refrigerator and two random russet potatoes – both of which were purchased at some point with another recipe in mind.  But now you don’t care about those recipes.

So what to do?  Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche probably does the trick.  I am a quiche fan – it is easy, filling, and completely customizable.

Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche Ingredients
5 eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup skim milk
2 large russet potatoes
1 onion
10 – 12 mushrooms
10 stalks skinny asparagus 
6 slices Swiss cheese, or shredded Swiss
1 tbsp of grated parmigiana cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

 I know there are quiche enthusiasts who will say a good quiche has to be with a proper pie crust, and usually that is true.  However, in the pursuit of healthy living and delicious eating, this is a fast and quite good alternative.

Slice the potatoes crosswise into 1/4″ coins. In a colander drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper -this is a tip, place the colander over the pan you’ll be baking in to catch the oil. Then neatly layer the potatoes in a to cover the base of the pie pan. I sprinkle a tablespoon of grated parmigiana cheese on to the potatoes and then set in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking chop the onion, mushrooms and asparagus.  In a large nonstick pan saute the onions and when they are softened add the mushrooms and then when the mushrooms are just a moment from being down add the asparagus.

Cooled vegetables with the Swiss cheese on top
While the vegetables and crust cools – this is very important – prepare the egg mixture.  I used 2 egg whites and 5 whole eggs and I think you could adjust that to your liking. Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper and then add the cooled vegetables and cheese.

Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes – at this time the egg should have a slight bounce but be firm and an inserted knife should come out clean.  This is beautiful served with a fresh salad or on it’s own because it is filled with delicious and nutritious vegetables – and yes, in our house it is breakfast, lunch or dinner!


P.S. Mark and Carly secret: During a bridal shower game I had to guess what Mark’s favorite food was that I made.  Not lasagna, or crab cakes, or cookies, quiche. 

Basic Brisket, and so good!

When you want an authentically Jewish brisket recipe, (not barbecue brisket, or pulled brisket, just you the familiar brisket found on Hanukkah, Passover, and Rosh Hashanah tables),  you’ll probably need to call a mom, or grandma or aunt.  If you want a different variation, visit Food and Wine.

Anyway, so I found myself in Whole Foods standing in the meat refrigerator looking at some huge pieces of meat.  That is step 1 to making a brisket, the meat is huge.  Understanding that, getting over it, and knowing that it will shrink to half it’s original size is critical.

I called my cousin Amy first – she gave a list of her ingredients.  Then I called my mom, and she gave a similiar list of her ingredients.  When it came time to go, I just did everything.

 Jewish Style Brisket Ingredients, serve 8-10
3.5 – 4 lb brisket
1 onion
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup starter (crazy, I know)
1/2 can of San Marzano Pureed Tomato
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup of red wine
2 tbsp of Ketchup
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp of butter
Salt and Pepper
Cooks for at least 3-4 hours, at 325 degrees.

In a very large non-stick pan on medium-low heat melt some butter and add the chopped onion.  Let the onion simmer and add a sprinkle of salt.  When the onion are closer to translucent than white add the brisket to the pan.

Let the brisket cook on both sides for 3 minutes.  You’re not really cooking here, you’re just browning.  Here’s the warning, brisket has a strip of fat on one side, seeing it can be a little overwhelming and gross, keep moving, don’t worry about.
After the brisket has browned on both sides place it in a large baking pan with the raw chopped vegetables and the cooked onions.   Make sure the fat part of the brisket is on the top.

In a medium bowl mix the ingredients, onion soup starter, tomato, wine, vinegar, ketchup and sugar. 
Then pour all over the brisket.  You may need to use some muscle to lift the brisket to get the sauce in every little spot.  Yep, just like that.  To be fair, I texted this image to my parents to get a virtual thumbs up.  You don’t have to text my parents, you don’t even have to text your parents.  This is what it should look like.
Find a roll of aluminum foil and start wrapping.  The pan needs to be completely covered and secured. Now, you can put it in the oven for 3 – 4 hours.  Walk away.  Try not to worry, definitely do not open the oven and play with the foil.   
After removing the brisket from the oven, keep it covered for an additional 30 minutes.  This will give you enough time to make a side dish or two, maybe Kasha, or potatoes?  We made kasha and bow-ties.  Seriously good.

When you unwrap the pan, you slice against the grain.  You can let it cool completely and remove the fat, or  you can go authentic, and keep the fat on.  It’s a holiday, its going to be okay.  Enjoy the sauce, the carrots will be full of a sweet and tangy flavor and the meat will be very tender.

It’s a holiday tradition, and one that is easy to be creative with.  I think when you make it for many years, like your aunt, grandma and mom, you’ll tell someone else just add some of this and some of that.  But if you need a recipe, now you’ve got it!

Happy Hanukkah!

Roasted Potatoes, Poupourri You Can Eat

To be fair this is not so much of a “recipe” as it is a suggestion.  

I know that this weekend is dedicated to running around for last minute costumes, carving pumpkins, excessive makeup, buying candy, consuming lots more candy, and indulging on some other celebratory vices.  And that is all good.  But, the weekend is long, and eventually you’ll want something that is healthy, and easy.  This is so easy that while you’re setting your hair in curlers and finishing the details of your meat dress this can cook.

Roasted Potatoes is the most homey non-recipe recipe there is.  I like to mix a large variety of potatoes (white, red, purple, sweet, yellow) and chop them all up into chunks that are about 1/4 – 1/3 of an inch thick.

Set the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  And get chopping. 

Ta da!  All chopped.  When all the chopped potatoes are in a bowl drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle on some Kosher salt, crack some black pepper.  
Okay, now here is where you have some creative license.  Are you feeling traditional?  How about some rosemary and thyme.  Want some heat?  Sprinkle on some cayenne.  Want Italian flavors?  Try oregano, parsley, and maybe some  finely grated Parmigiana-Reggiano, or do as we do and go a little crazy with the Old Bay.  There is no right or wrong amount, but you’ll want to see the flecks of flavor on each piece of potato.  This is truly an instance of “flavor to taste”.

Throw in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, the longer it’s in there the more browned the edges will become, again this is a personal preference.  Also, I am going to again recommend mixing up the variety of potatoes, they each have a different flavor and texture and so all together they are like a little (healthy) party in your mouth.
Enlarged to show flavor intensity detail!
Happy Halloween, this year instead of a pre-trick or treating peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pizza (which are all more than fabulous), mix it up with this!

The New Banana Split

I like cookies, brownies, cakes (in slices and in cups) but sometimes, I want to take a break from the butter and sugar, and eggs and go a little bit more natural.  By natural, I don’t mean baking with agave or honey, which I have done, or using whole wheat flour, which I do more and more, I mean just eating fruit.

This summer we have reaped the benefits of living within walking distance to a farmers’ market and enjoying peaches, blueberries, strawberries and melon by the bowlful.  But, this dish, this changed it all.  Let me introduce you to banana ice cream, which I found on The Kitchn, made with just bananas.
The bananas that are currently sitting on your counter top that are getting more and more freckles each day?  That is your only ingredient. Depending on the desired serving size, I have found 2 bananas enough for 3 people – but it’s just banana so there’s no downside in eating a lot!

Cut the bananas up into 1/2 inch slices and throw them in the freezer for at least 2 – hours.  I recently froze mine for 24 hours, and that was fine too.  The more frozen the better.

After they bananas slices are thoroughly frozen dump them all into your blender/food processor and go.  At first the bananas will look gravelly, and hard, and chunky, and not at all ice creamy -although my sister did point out that it resembled Dippin’ Dots, everyone’s local mall’s version of the ice cream of the future. 

No matter… Press on, keep grinding, and occasionally pausing to scrape down the sides with a spoon.  In a matter of moments, seriously 3-4 minutes tops, the banana gravel becomes beautiful whipped banana ice cream.

Now you can eat it right now in a bowl (or out of the mixer) if you want, and it is amazing.  Or you can add additional flavors.  Some favorites in my house right now are a teaspoon of chunky peanut butter, honey, or cinnamon, but why not some coconut flakes (if you like that, I don’t), or some cocoa powder, or chocolate syrup?

So far this hasn’t lasted past dessert, because we eat it all so quickly – but I would eat it for breakfast, or serve it with warm waffles/pancakes/french toast.  I need a brunch party, stat!