Tag: kosher restaurants

Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes Review & Giveaway

In the spirit of my Blogoversary last week, I figured it was about time for a giveaway. And I’ve been itching to review the latest cookbook in the Secret Restaurant Recipes series, so it worked out just perfectly!

Like all of the cookbooks by seasoned cookbook writers Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek, Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes does not disappoint. It’s got the same beautiful graphics, breathtaking photos and clean-cut layout as it’s original, but the recipes are a bit less glitzy yet not one bit less mouthwatering.

For this round, the writers went to everyday establishments – grills like the famous Fish Grill in LA (where I’ve noshed on their famous fish and chips), local favorites like Bagels ‘n Greens (ever taste their insane donuts?!), Boeuf & Bun (loooove their bondi burger), Izzy’s BBQ Addiction (I’m legit addicted, it’s in my ‘hood after all), Mendelsohn’s (we love their breaded cauliflower) and Pizza Time (best kosher pizza outside of Israel IMHO). They’ve covered Miami hot spots like 26 Sushi & Tapas (lettuce wraps please!), China Bistro (love their spicy chicken and eggplant) and Zak the Baker (I’ll have everything on the menu) and National must-haves like C  & R Kitchen (I’m till dreaming of the prime rib I had there), Milt’s BBQ (I must get there soon!), And Nobo Wine & Grill (I’ve already booked my reservation). Of course we can’t forget all the International spots like Aussies Milk & Honey (I had a great lunch there!), Israel’s Rimon Cafe (great memories!), and eateries in Austria, Brazil, England, Panama and Uruguay.

When they say they’ve hit the little guys, they mean it. They’ve got supermarkets like Pomegranate and Breadberry in Brooklyn, heimishe bakeries like Zishes in Monsey and even stadium joints like Legends in Yankee stadium. My favorite though would have to be The Wandering Que, a BBQ trailer that hauls it’s Texas-style BBQ rig around town. Leah & Victoria have indeed covered their tracks.

Of course I’m partial because my ‘hood made it to the Kosher Food Trends list (we house the famous Basil Pizza & Wine Bar, Boeuf & Bun & Izzy’s BBQ Addiction after all) and having my name on the shout-out list was a nice surprise (I shared some of my favorite hot spots). But the truth is – we have to let the recipes do the talking. The fact that roasted chickpeas are the first recipe of the Starters & Sides should say something. They’re my absolute favorite nosh to date. But the kani poppers, beef fry apricots, buffalo cauliflower, tater poppers and smoked hot wings tickled my fancy as well. Soups & Salads are down to earth, with recipes like black bean soup, Asian nappa salad, harvest twist and peach glazed chicken salad. They’ve even covered basics like store coleslaw (haven’t you always wondered how to get it just right?) and potato salad. Sandwiches are possibly my favorite chapter, and thankfully they’ve included the Morning Scramble from Boeuf & Bun, so when I don’t feel like walking up the block to their hip joint, I can just make it at home! My husband is particularly excited about Essen’s Sino Steak Sandwich, a dish he grew up eating! Pretzel sticks, honey mustard pargiot, chicken Pad Thai and Gotham glazed ribs are favorites from Chicken & Meat while the grilled fish taco, bourbon salmon and sushi pizza stood out from the Fish. They’ve even got Brunch & Lunch covered with recipes like Israeli breakfast, creamy home fries, and veggie chili, but I’ll take the creme brulee freezer. They finish off with a bang with dessert goodies like Zak the Bakers chocolate rugelach, T Fusion’s churros and Lula’s halva parfait. Mmm mmm good.

So, should you buy this book? Well, if you live in a place that doesn’t have too many eateries or you don’t mind cooking up some restaurant fare that’s not too intimidating, then this is the book for you. While the cookbook includes “everyday recipes” don’t expect them all to be quick and easy. If they’re good enough to be on a menu in a cafe somewhere, they’re going to require some work. But it looks to me like it will be well worth the effort.

Purchase Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes on Amazon.

Read a review of Secret Restaurant Recipes.


So lets get down to business because I know you are waiting! To enter this fabulous giveaway, here’s what to do!

1. Leave a comment on my Blogoversary Post letting me know your favorite BIB recipes of the past 5 years and/or what you’d like to see on the blog this year.
2. Leave a comment here letting me know your favorite kosher restaurant worldwide.

For an extra entry, follow Busy In Brooklyn via any of the channels below. Just be sure to leave a note in the comment letting me know where you follow.


Giveaway is open to U.S. residents (for international entries, prize can only be shipped in the U.S.). Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016.


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Secret Restaurant Recipes Review & Giveaway

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a cookbook. Like ever. It probably has a lot to do with my affinity for eating out. And beautiful food photography. And superb design. And impeccable styling. In a word, this book is: PERFECTION.

And I’d expect nothing less from seasoned cookbook writers Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek. Leah is the author of Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking, while Victoria is the managing editor of Whisk magaizne. Together, they coauthored the Made Easy cookbook series including Starters & Sides Made Easy, Passover Made EasyDairy Made Easy and Kids Cooking Made Easy. When I heard they were working on a new cookbook, I wondered what they would be “making easy”, but I never imagined it would be restaurant recipes!

As a true foodie, I’ve eaten at many a kosher restaurant, and I was surprised to see just how many amazing kosher restaurants are covered in this book (over 70!). From Tierra Sur in Oxnard, California (one of the best restaurant meals I’ve ever had), to Rare in Miami Beach, FL (love their crab cakes) and Pizza Pita in Montreal (I always wondered how they make their poutine!). There’s also Carlos & Gabby’s in New Jersey (who doesn’t love their crispy chicken fingers?!) and New York favorites like Amsterdam Burger Co. (the breakfast burger is incredible!), Reserve Cut (I always orders the short rib tacos!) and my favorite local places like Basil Pizza & Wine Bar (they serve up their famous basil fries just up the street), Mason & Mug (I’ve been reinventing their deviled kale salad forever!), and Pardes (wish they would have included their smoked paprika popcorn recipe). Restaurants in England, Israel, Italy, Mexico and even Panama, are also included.

It’s so exciting to get a sneak peek behind some of the establishments that we regularly frequent. And Secret Restaurant Recipes is about more than just the recipes. It also includes tips and techniques from today’s top kosher chefs. I was surprised to see that some of the recipes are fairly easy, while others are more involved. When I first looked through the cookbook and had a craving for Reserve Cut’s short rib tacos, I just got up and went to the restaurant! On the other hand, Pizza Pita’s poutine was so ridiculously easy, I was able to make it quickly at home.

Thanks to the generosity of Artscroll/Mesorah Publications, I’m sharing 2 recipes from the book here. I recently did a demo at a chinese auction where Victoria Dwek also demonstrated the eggplant chicken from Segal’s Oasis Grill in Phoenix, Arizona. It smelled so incredible, I just knew I had to include it! I’m also sharing a dessert recipe from Bagels & Greens because if their donuts are any indication, these brownies are going to be a real treat!

Purchase Secret Restaurant Recipes on Amazon.

Read a review of Everyday Secret Restaurant Recipes.


Of course, I’m also giving away a FREE COPY of Secret Restaurant Recipes! To enter, simply leave a comment below about your favorite kosher restaurant dish. For an extra entry, follow Busy In Brooklyn via any of the channels below. Just be sure to leave a note in the comment letting me know where you follow.


Giveaway is open to U.S. residents (for international entries, prize can only be shipped in the U.S.). Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015.

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The Pardes Tasting Menu Experience

I live in Brooklyn, NY (hence the blog name:)), so I’m just a short ride away from the famous kosher restaurant, Pardes. I’ve been there quite a few times with my husband, but never for the tasting menu. Although I love to cook (and eat), I’m not the most adventurous eater. I’m more of a steak and potatoes kind of girl. When I go to Pardes, I usually order the beef cheek pizza or the Pardes signature burger & fries (with the most amazing, lip-smacking red wine ketchup!). So when my cousin suggested that we go to Pardes for the tasting menu, I was a little hesitant. Sweetbreads (the thymus gland) are not exactly my thing.

<<Funny story actually. My husband and I were once at an upscale restaurant in Manhattan. I forget where. When he saw sweetbreads on the menu, he thought they were, well, sweet breads, so he ordered it. You can imagine how that worked out.>>

So back to Pardes, I decided to take my cousin up on her offer to challenge myself to a truly gourmet eating experience. I promised myself I would try everything that was served to me, regardless of the animal it came from (or the part of the animal!) It’s a good thing I made that promise because I might have left hungry otherwise. Not only did I have sweetbreads (which I enjoyed immensely), but I also sampled ox heart, marrow tartare, goat and tongue, among other things.

I’m not even going to pretend to understand the complexity of Chef Moshe Wendel’s dishes. There is no mistaking that he is a culinary genius. All I know is, although I may not be familiar with all of his unique ingredients and combinations, we still speak the universal language of good food, and that I understand.

What I find so refreshing about Pardes is that each and every time you go, you’re in for a unique experience. Chef Wendel is constantly changing up the menu, and his dishes are not ones that you’ll find anywhere. In these days of Pinterest and social media, it seems like everyone is making another version of someone elses dish, but Chef Wendel’s dishes are all his own – one hundred percent. His ability to marry unique flavors and to present dishes that are as beautiful on the eye as they are on the palate are a testament to his amazing talents.

And that’s not all.

Living in New York, and being a real foodie, you can imagine just how many restaurants I’ve been to. Most of the time, if the food is good, the dessert isn’t. There is only so much hot chocolate souffle that I am willing to eat. But not at Pardes. The same oomph and charisma that is put into each and every dish, is put into the dessert menu – and that’s without having a pastry chef. Is there anything that this Chef can’t do? The desserts are so whimsical and delicious, it’s worth a trip JUST for their ice cream. Well, maybe that, and an order of fries with their glorious ketchup…or the smoked paprika popcorn…or the heirloom tomato soup…or the…

click on pictures for an enlarged view

1. Smoked paprika popcorn
We came a few minutes early to our reservation, and since the Chef serves all the tasting menu patrons at the same time, they gave us some complimentary popcorn while we waited. Smoked. Paprika. Popcorn. It’s lick-your-finger kind of good.
2.Tuna tartare with salmon roe, edible flowers, ginger, grapefruit and tomato water broth.
An OK start to our meal. The components of this dish did not seem to come together (especially the tomato water), but each was nice on it’s own. My least favorite of the night.
3. Heirloom tomato salad, crispy salmon skin, seabeans, rouille (saffron mayonnaise)
Light and lovely. The salmon skin chip was super crunchy with no fishy aftertaste. And the seabeans were so fresh and delicious!
4. Hamachi, pepper jam, pistachio powder
While I was hoping for a cooked fish option, the hamachi did not disappoint. However, the pepper jam was the real standout, with sweet tomato-y goodness.
5. Taramasolata (fish roe dip) with bread crumbs, green beans, baby celery, pink olive
My first taste of taramasolata – creamy and surprisingly un-fishy. I loved the briny pink olive sauce, toasted breadcrumbs and the crunchy green beans.
6. Palate cleanser: sorbet trio, canteloupe, wheatgrass and coffee
Each sorbet was delicious in it’s own right but the wheatgrass was definitely the winner here. It was so clean, crisp and refreshing.
7. Heirloom tomato soup with barley bacon and basil oil
My favorite dish of the entire meal. Velvety soup with smoky bacon barley bits and droplets of basil oil – I’m coming back for more!
8. Terrine of goat, simple green salad, pickled onion
I’ve never tasted goat before and I’m glad I tried it at Pardes. It was tender and flavorful with a lovely texture.
9. Sweetbreads, smoked chicken skin, creamy leeks, mushroom/miso puree, saffron seaweed jus
I’ve always been afraid to eat sweetbreads, but I promised myself I’d try everything. I’m glad I did, they were quite good. And the crispy smoked chicken skin? yum!
10. Tongue with onion rings and mustard mayo
The chef sent us this course as a bonus, I’m not sure why. Our server mentioned something about the wait. I wasn’t about to complain – melt-in-your mouth tongue and crispy onion rings? who could ask for more? And that mustard mayo was the perfect complement to the dish.
11. Ox heart, japanese white turnip, rodebach/prune reduction, mustard/juniper pickle, baby celery
The surprise of the night. Who would have thought that ox heart would be so delicious? This dish was plated so beautifully and the sauces were equally superb.
12. Tartares of marrow and rib eye, hazelnut, trumpet royale, cepe vinegar, black garlic
Believe it or not, this was my first time eating beef tartare, and boy have I been missing out. Full of fresh flavor. The marrow tartare, on the other hand, was not as successful. To me, it was like eating a spoonful of fat (which some people, like my Mom, might enjoy). Although I did appreciate the creative use of the marrow bone (as a breadstick holder).
13. Duck, hibiscus vinegar, sorrel, zucchini puree, orange
Both the duck breast and leg were served in this dish and they were both perfectly cooked. The sorrel and orange added a bright, citrus note that complemented the duck really well. The zucchini puree was not as enjoyable. I found the texture to be kind of pasty.
14. “Green egg & lamb” pistou provencal, seasonal greens in garlic broth, lamb shoulder confit, poached egg
I loved poached eggs, on anything, so I was kind of dissapointed when this dish turned out to be super spicy. And I like spicy food. But this was borderline mouth-on-fire.
15. Ice cream sandwich with flowers, orange blossom and rosewater semifreddo, various plums
Perfection on a plate. I wanted to lick that semifreddo off the dish!
16. Hazelnut financier, hazelnut parfait, candied hazelnuts, fresh and pickled blueberries, blueberry sauce and sorbet
This dessert was nice and I really appreciated the four different preparations of the blueberries. I must admit though, I had my heart set on the peach crumble with maple bacon walnut ice cream! There’s always next time!

Sangria with cinnamon, anise, banana, mango
With hints of banana, this sangria was surprisingly light and refreshing.
Lake Placid Ubu Aledeep red English strong ale, chocolate malty goodness that packs a serious wallop for its drinkability.
Smooth and delicious, but a tad too bitter for my taste.

Pardes Restaurant
497 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 797-3880
Tasting Menu, approximately 10 courses, $110 p/p + taxes & tip, reservations required

1 year ago: peanut butter fudge ice cream pie

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