It’s that time of year, when we celebrate with cheese and wine, lasagna and blintzes and Torah’s all around.
But lets be real. Life is not easy these days and the state of the world is sad. Every day seems to bring on another challenge and most of us just aren’t feeling it. ((HUGS)) all around.
So I’m here to say this: food is comfort. Especially cheese. And bring on all the comfort food because WE NEED IT. And that’s ok.
This Shavuot, think about what brings you joy. Decorate your house in flowers, pour yourself some Rose’ and DISCONNECT. Focus on the people you love and the things that make you happy.
I’m on a pickle binge so what makes me happy right now is all the sour, crunchy and spicy elements I can plate up with some savory Everything Bagel Brie. It makes a great starter to balance out all that cheesecake!
Wishing you all a Chag Sameach.
Pan Fried Everything Bagel Brie
1 wheel brie, chilled (see note)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tbsp everything bagel seasoning
salt, to taste
canola oil, for frying
In a shallow bowl, mix the panko crumbs and everything bagel seasoning. Season, with salt, if needed (depending on saltiness of the everything bagel spice). Dip the brie into the egg and then press into the panko mix, coating on all sides.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a small frying pan (or enough to reach half way up the brie). Fry the brie until golden on both sides. Serve immediately with assorted crackers, tapenade and pickles.
NOTE: Make sure the brie is cold from the fridge, otherwise it will melt before the crumbs have a chance to brown.
Sundried Tomato Olive Tapenade
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1/3 cup fresh dill leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil from sundried tomato jar (or good quality olive oil)
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until finely minced.
People often ask me if I feel deprived as a serious foodie who keeps kosher, and the answer is “no”. As someone who’s been kosher since birth, I don’t crave “treif” simply because I’ve never tried it. And there is really so much available on the kosher market today, that I don’t really feel like I’m missing out.
BUT… (there’s always a but isn’t there?!), traveling as a kosher keeper is hard stuff. Especially when you go places that don’t have much kosher available, and you’ve got to stuff your bag with cans of tuna and crackers. I have to admit that part isn’t easy, and for that reason, I usually choose to travel to places based on the kosher availability there.
Which totally works for me because eating out, I feel, is part and parcel of a vacation. I’m not the sit-by-the-beach and suntan kinda gal, so I’d rather hit the town and see what it has to offer.
I love exploring different food cultures and traveling really opens your eyes to different ingredients and flavor combinations. On my recent trip to Paris, I ordered the camembert salad, which was served simply over a bed of iceberg lettuce, with a drizzle of balsamic and honey and a sprinkling of pine nuts. It really made me rethink the whole camembert thing (I always just wrap it in puff pastry), and I knew I was going to recreate it when I got home,
I took the best of the salad, and paired it with the “en croute” concept, for a deconstructed cheese salad of your dreams. There’s not much else to say about this other than IT’S AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS.
Camembert, if you’re not familiar, is a soft and creamy, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese. The white bloomy rind is totally edible, with barely any moldy flavor. As someone who is not a fan of moldy cheese, I absolutely love Camembert (and brie!), so I wouldn’t be scared off by it.
If you’re not quite ready for Camembert on it’s own, I recommend wrapping it in puff pastry with some fig jam and candied nuts and baking until puffed and golden. That’s really what got me into this wheel of wonder to begin with and it’s absolutely amazing!
Camembert En Croûte Salad
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 bunches cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 wheel Camembert or brie
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 4oz. pkg baby arugula
1 6oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
raw honey, optional, for serving
For the basil oil:
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Add to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Strain out the basil leaves if you wish.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week (bring to room temp before using).
NOTE: for bright green oil, blanch the basil leaves first by placing them in boiling water for about 10 seconds and then removing to ice water.
For the balsamic syrup:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
Combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, until it is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Cool completely (it will thicken as it cools), then transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, oregano, garlic powder and salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the puff pastry sheets from the fridge and cut into thirds at the folds. Spread the butter over each piece and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Using a pizza cutter, cut into triangles. Return to the fridge while you prepare the other components.
Place the tomatoes on one side of a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Prepare a small foil packet and place the pine nuts in it. Place in the corner of the same baking sheet. Prepare a second foil packet and place the Camembert inside. Place on the baking sheet, opposite the pine nuts packet.
Place the baking sheet of puff pastry and tomatoes in the oven. After 8-10 minutes, remove the packet of pine nuts. After 15 minutes, remove the brie. Continue baking the tomatoes and puff pastry for another 10 minutes, until the puff pastry is puffed and golden, and the tomatoes have softened.
To plate: arrange the arugula on a platter. Top with tomatoes, artichokes and pine nuts. Place the Camembert on top with the puff pastry alongside. Right before serving, drizzle basil oil, baslamic syrup and honey over the salad and serve.
Ever since I was little, my mom’s been making the same Shavuot menu each year. It includes her amazing lasagna, homemade potato and cheese blintzes, French onion soup and an array of store-bought cheesecakes. For the second day meal, she switches up the lasagna for eggplant rollatini, or what she likes to call, rollantini.
I probably pack on about 10 lbs. in those two days, but it’s always worth every bite. Until the weather gets hotter, my skirts are a tad too tight around the middle, and I’m cursing out that creamy slice of cheesecake.
Which is why THIS happened! I may be expecting baby #5 this summer, but I’ve been packing on the pounds like I’m about to go into hibernation! I’ve got to ease up on my carb intake, so, I did what I always do when I’m looking for pasta alternatives, I go for zucchini. If I’m not eating cheesy zoodle marinara (an absolute staple in my kitchen), I go for a riff on my spinach lasagna roll-ups, made with zucchini strips. This time, I decided to turn those rolls upside down, and add in yellow squash and eggplant, for a pretty rose garden look. Shavuot, after all, is known as “the feast of the roses”, so how very apropos.
Vegetable ribbon pies and rose spiral apple desserts are all the rage right now, so I was more than happy to follow the trend with a savory holiday-worthy version.
Of course there are lots of variations that you can do with this dish – from adding spinach to the filling, using carrots for rolling, or baking it all into a pie crust. But I just love that this is gluten free and no-carb, so why mess with perfection, am I right?
With all my lighter spins on heavy pasta dishes, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what we eat is all in our heads. When I started subbing zoodles in for my spaghetti, a funny thing happened. I didn’t miss anything! I was full, satiated and most importantly, I felt like I had actually eaten pasta! It made me realize that we really have the ability to trick our brains into thinking we are eating something else – if only we can create the same taste, similar texture and mouthfeel, you barely notice the difference. The scale however, definitely does.
So, I’m hoping I’ve inspired you to lighten up your holiday meals, even if only with one dish. If I were you, I’d make it this one!
Do you have any other tricks to lightening up your favorite pasta dishes? I’d love to hear! Share them with me in the comments below!
Three-Cheese Rollatini Rose Pie
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 small eggplant
2 cups Natural & Kosher ricotta cheese
8oz. Natural & Kosher shredded mozarella, divided
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Natural & Kosher grated parmesan, divided
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cups marinara sauce
Special Equipment: 9.5″ deep pie dish
Using a peeler or a mandolin, slice the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash into ribbons of equal thickness (see note). They should be thin enough so that they are pliable, but not too thin that they will fall apart during cooking.
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup parmesan, egg, basil, and oregano.
Pour the marinara sauce into the bottom of your pie dish and sprinkle with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese from the bag. Working one at a time, spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture on the vegetable ribbons and roll up. Place the rolls, standing up (with the peel facing up, if trimmed), in the marinara sauce and continue until the pie dish is full. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese.
Bake, covered, at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes (depending on thickness), or until the vegetables are tender. Uncover and bake at 450 degrees until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
This pie does not freeze well. To make in advance, prepare the pie as per directions and refrigerate (unbaked) for up to one day. Bake and serve.
VARIATION: For a no-tomato version, place the rolls directly into the pie dish, without the sauce and continue as above. You may also make the pie inside a pie crust.
NOTE: Look for squash and eggplants that have a straight edge and are roughly the same size, otherwise, you may have to trim it down, as I did with the eggplants (or look for Japanese eggplants that are naturally narrow). If the vegetables are not too wide, a peeler works great for making ribbons. You’ll need about 1/2 of each vegetable (depending on how large it is), so if you have leftovers, you can make a second pie (with or without the filling) or chop it up for homemade ratatouille.