You can thank corn nuts for this salad. Actually you can thank Skopp’s Supermarket in Fallsburg, New York where I purchased said corn nuts that totally inspired this salad!
When it comes to salads (or really most of the recipes I make for dinner), I’m not much of a planner. Inspiration hits at the grocery store or when I’m standing in front of my refrigerator trying to clear it out at the end of the week.
In this case, I was shopping at Skopp’s for my weekly groceries upstate, and I eyed the nut cart with roasted corn nuts all warm and toasty. So I reached for the scoop and thought, “How good would these taste on a salad?!”. I was already in the produce aisle where I caught sight of big beautiful summer peaches, and it hit me – yes!! Juicy peaches and crunchy corn nuts are a good idea, what else should I add? I happened to be standing near the avocados at that point and it was a match made in fruity heaven.
Off to the next aisle, the beautiful baby heirloom tomatoes looked so fresh and colorful and I knew they’d add the perfect balance to the sweetness of the peaches. Mixed greens were a given. And the maple candied pecans – well they are a favorite around here, and the flavors matched perfectly.
That, my friends, is how this Summer Peach Salad was born. It is also a lesson that everything is better with corn nuts!
Summer Peach Salad
YIELD: 6-8 servings
5oz. spring mix
8oz. heirloom grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 large peach, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup BBQ flavored corn nuts
1/2 cup maple candied pecans or store-bought candied pecans
Chili Lime Dressing
1/2 cup light olive oil or grapeseed oil
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar (unflavored)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp chili powder
kosher salt, to taste
In a bowl or platter, layer all the salad ingredients. Place all the dressing ingredients into a jar or container and shake vigorously until thickened. Pour over salad before serving.
Well hello there blogosphere, it’s been so long, hasn’t it?! Life has been hectic as ever, but I’ve always got my blog on the back of mind, wanting to cook, and photograph, and post and just share with y’all. Pesach (in Beijing, China!) has come and gone. I’ve since been to Ohio, and off to Antwerp tomorrow, and guess how I’m celebrating? By making kugel!
If you know me, I consider myself the Anti-Kugel. Yes, that’s right. I’m Jewish and I don’t like kugel! Why, you ask? Well I believe that instead of boiling up veggies, mashing them, and then mixing them with oil and eggs and who-knows-what-else, why don’t you skip the whole complicated process and JUST. ROAST. VEGGIES. Same goes with potatoes. And noodles? Well you can cook em and eat em JUST. LIKE THAT. But alas, kugel has stood the test of time, and you’ll find the gazillion calorie concoction in most Jewish Ashkenazi houses on Erev Shabbat (my mom included)!
So what, pray tell, is kugel doing HERE? Well in one word: Shtisel. The viral Israeli TV series that was made popular by Netflix has captured my heart, and that of many, Jews and non-Jews alike. It has me craving Israeli salad with tahini, tea, and all sorts of traditional heimish foods that I haven’t looked at in years. In short: If Shtisel has ME making kugel, and you’re not watching it, then you’ve got to GET. ON. IT. Chasdei Hashem I’m here to spread the Shtisel love!
So I’ve been sprinkled with “heimish” dust but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to made traditional kugel, because, well, I’m still ME. And because Shavuos is coming up, what do you think I did? I made dairy lokshin kugel – one that’s lightened up with the refreshing taste of orange, cardamom and vanilla bean + some ricotta for creaminess and yogurt for some tang. All in all, a perfect compliment to your Shavuot menu. B’hechlet!
Orange Cardamom Noodle Kugel
12 oz. wide egg noodles
4 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing the pan
15 oz. ricotta cheese
12 oz. plain Greek yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 medium orange
2 tbsp honey, or to taste
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates, chopped (see note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles and cook for 7 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Stir with butter.
In a second bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, orange zest and juice, honey, cardamom, vanilla bean paste and salt. Stir with a spoon until the mixture is smooth. Add the buttered noodles and dates and stir to incorporate.
Grease a baking dish with butter and pour in the noodle mixture. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the kugel is set and starting to brown around the edges.
NOTE: to make chopping easier, freeze the dates or refrigerate for a few hours.
It’s officially hamantaschen time and while baking is not my favorite thing, I always try to push myself to a fun twist on the classic 3-cornered-cookies, and these FIG NEWTON delicious bites did not disappoint!
Fun fact – I first tested this recipe three years ago, but it needed tweaking, so I put it off year after year (see above! ;), but recently I made a decision to stop being afraid of dough, and I held myself to it! Yes baking is a science, and I’m not very technical but I can do it, and you can too.
Now if I’m honest, I’ve never actually had traditional fig newtons because they are OU-D and I keep cholov yisroel (dairy which has been derived from milk that has been milked under the supervision of a religiously observant Jew – not the case with OU-D certified foods), however, I have tasted an off-brand copycat version and I’ve also made them from scratch a few times (can you tell I like figs?), so I think I have a pretty good idea of what they taste like.
Purim prep is in full swing here with the kids deciding on custumes, shalach manos shopping and menu planning. I for one was dead set on dressing up as the SHTISEL family because I’m a huge fan of the series, but the kids are not having it! So, I’m on my own with this one.
Happy Purim Prep!
Fig Newton Hamantaschen
1 stick butter or trans-fat-free margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12oz. dried plump califmyrnia figs, stems removed and sliced in half
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Place the figs into a medium saucepan with the orange juice, honey, cinnamon and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
While the figs are cooking, place the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until creamy. Add the vanilla and egg and beat until smooth. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. Press the dough together to form a ball.
Place the figs mixture in a food processor blender and puree until completely smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to around 1/4 inch thick and cut out circles with a cookie cutter or a drinking glass. Place a teaspoon of fig jam into the center of the circles and pinch the corners closed to form a triangle. Bring all the scraps together and roll out again, repeating the process until you’ve used up all the dough and jam.
Place the hamantaschen on a parchment lined baking sheet (or 2, if needed) and bake for approximately 12 minutes, until the bottoms start to turn light brown. Transfer to a cooking rack.
Store cooled hamantaschen in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for later, if desired.
I have a love/hate relationship with bananas. I love me some banana cake with frosting, but I’m not a fan of strawberry + banana anything. Banana “nice cream” is a great invention, but sometimes I want some ice cream that’s good for my body that doesn’t taste like, well, bananas.
Enter the humble pineapple. I’ve turned it into a rotisserie stand in my cookbook, Millennial Kosher, and now it’s solving my nice cream problems with it’s unique ability to blend up into a creamy and dreamy dessert.
Like bananas, the pineapple must be frozen before making “nice cream”, and the addition of coconut and rum makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island somewhere. Which is kinda nice considering I haven’t been to one in about 12 years.
So while my Instagram is flooded with photos of Mykonos, I’ll happily enjoy some of this guilt-free ice cream on my porch in Upstate New York, savoring the smell of grass and the breeze sweeping through the mountains. Enjoy the last licks of summer, it’s almost over! (insert sad emoji face here).
Pina Colada Ice Cream
YIELD: 6 servings
1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp rum, optional
2 tbsp maple syrup, or, to taste
pinch of salt
Place the pineapple in a ziploc bag and freeze overnight. Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight.
Carefully remove the coconut milk from the fridge and scoop out the coconut cream from the top of the can, leaving the liquid on the bottom (drink or discard). Place the coconut cream into a food processor along with the frozen pineapple chunks, rum, maple syrup and salt, Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know just how much I love to cook with the seasons. When fruits and vegetables are at their peak, they tend to taste much better and cost much less. It also helps with menu planning because you can scale down the ingredients that you want to incorporate into your menu.
Late summer/Early fall would have to be my favorite of all the seasons, mostly because of the figs. You still get to enjoy the late summer harvest of corn and tomatoes, but you also get to go apple picking with your family, and enjoy the early signs of pomegranates and pumpkins. I love incorporating all the warm autumn flavors of nutmeg and cloves into my food – it’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, especially under the Sukkah, where you get to enjoy that evening chill without having to bundle up.
Sukkot is a great time to experiment with warm spices and seasonal produce and one of the ways I do that is to poach fruits in spiced wine. Poached pears are a classic, but I’ve also done cherries, cranberries, apricots, and of course, just plain old mulled wine, which is one of my favorite drinks of all time. Adding warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, along with orange zest and peppercorns, gives the wine a deep, rich flavor, not to mention that the smell is intoxicating.
Speaking of wines, I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but recently, we’ve started getting more into it. It’s really fun to try new wines and note the characteristics of the different grapes and how they are aged. We’re even looking into getting a wine cooler, which are surprisingly more affordable than you might think. P.C. Richard & Son has a great selection here, and it looks like they are running a birthday sale so it’s a great time to take advantage.
I was reading up on why wine fridges are important over on The Kitchn, and it looks like storing my wine collection in my hot kitchen cabinet is a bad idea. So I’m thinking this seriously affordable free standing cooler might be a nice Sukkot gift for the hubby this year! And I wouldn’t complain at all if he decided to buy me something in turn from this collection of outdoor furniture to spruce up my Sukkah, especially this low-cost fire pit (can you imagine drinking mulled wine around that?!).
Now if you’re not familiar with this dessert, malabi is a Middle Eastern rosewater pudding that’s traditionally served with pomegranate syrup. The pudding is always finished with some chopped pistachios, and shredded coconut and it’s a decadent, yet light, dessert that’s the perfect finish to a holiday meal.
I’m a huge fan of malabi’s cousin, sachlav, which is basically the unset version of malabi – a pudding that you drink hot instead of cold. Malabi is great to make in advance, because it holds well in the refrigerator. The flavor of the orange and cardamom is so refreshing, and it can be served on it’s own, with some pomegranate seeds, pistachios and shredded coconut, or you can go all out and make the drunken figs for a gorgeous dish that’s worthy of your Sukkah.
I love figs in all shapes and sizes – every variety – raw, cooked or jammed. This beautiful crimson version is poached in red wine with warm spices, and the wine is then reduced into a luscious syrup. The drunken figs can be served over pound cake, ice cream or yogurt, along with a drizzle of the red wine syrup. Whether you choose to serve it with the malabi, or over another dessert, your guests will be wowed!
Wishing you and yours a Chag Sameach!
Orange Cardamom Malabi with Drunken Figs inspired by the coconut malabi with grapefruit curd by kitchen-tested
For the pudding:
2 14oz. cans full fat coconut milk (I prefer Roland)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
pinch of sea salt
chopped pistachios and shredded coconut, optional, for serving
In a saucepan, bring the coconut milk, sugar, orange zest, cardamom and sea salt up to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Pour the cornstarch mixture slowly into the coconut milk, whisking continuously as you pour. Continue to whisk the mixture until thickened into a pudding. Pour into serving glasses and set aside to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
OPTIONAL: to decorate the rims of your serving glasses (this must be done before filling with pudding), finely chop pistachios in a food processor. In a small pot, melt a bit of honey with a little bit of water. Dip the rims of your serving glasses into the honey syrup and then into the chopped pistachios.
For the drunken figs:
3 cups dry red wine (I used Malbec)
1/2 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 allspice berries
5 black peppercorns
2 strips of orange zest
juice of 1 orange
8oz. black mission figs, stem removed and cut in half
Method:In a saucepan, combine the wine, honey and aromatics. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir to dissolve the honey. Add the figs. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until figs are soft but still hold their shape. Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and return the wine to a boil. Simmer until the wine reduces down to a syrup, and coats the back of a spoon (it will thicken further once it cools). Pour the syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove the aromatics and store in a glass jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Before serving, place a few figs in each glass and drizzle with red wine syrup. Top with chopped pistachios and shredded coconut, if desired.