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It may come as a surprise that food bloggers like to get to know…other food bloggers. Who else can relate to the frustration of food photography, keen interest in food trends and a generally obsessive interest level in, well, food?
I love getting to meet other food bloggers, and a few weeks ago I had the chance to sit down at NYC’s midtown Macaron Café (a favorite spot of mine, and not just because the macarons are delicious and kosher) with fellow food blogger Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me.
What was the inspiration for starting to write Kosher Like Me?
Not everyone keeps kosher quite the same way. Many Americans keep “kosher like me,” meaning, they will eat in non-kosher restaurants, but only strictly vegetarian dishes. And so I wanted to share the research I was already finding about non-Kosher restaurants that had vegetarian-friendly dishes and menus. In the past I would tell waiters at restaurants that I was vegetarian. But when I wrote this blog, I didn’t want to write about being vegetarian – I wanted to write my “Kosher Like Me” truth. About one third of my readers are vegetarian, also looking for veggie-friendly restaurants and recipes; one third of my readers are “Kosher Like Me” eaters; and one third are just health-conscience people.
What has been the most exciting thing to occur as a result of blogging?
Last year I was invited to speak on a panel at the Hazon Food Conference. It was exciting to be surrounded by people passionate about about kashrut and food grounded in Jewish tradition and a sustainable approach to the land and animals.
What has been the most surprising thing about writing your blog?
I never expected to encounter so many personal stories about kashrut and food, especially in unexpected places. Restaurant chefs often have a story that surprises me, including the owner of Macaron Café. When I met her I asked, “why did you make your macarons kosher?’ She explained that when she first had a business it was located in the garment district of New York City, where a lot of Orthodox Jews also work. She had many requests to make her Parisian macarons kosher, and so she did.
What is your favorite NYC-area restaurant that you keep coming back to?
Like-minded eaters have the easiest time facing a menu where all is fair game, and that means any of the great vegetarian restaurants in NYC. Candle Cafe is close to my apartment so we order in from there or I eat at the counter if I am solo. I love Dirt Candy for Amanda Cohen’s more refined and innovative treatment of veggies, too. I also love Hangawi, which is Korean and vegan.
My favorite non-vegetarian restaurant is Rouge Tomate on the Upper East Side of New York City. The food is always inventive and exquisitely plated but be prepared for smaller portions. They have plenty of vegetarian and fish choices and most often use veggie broth . The waiters are well trained to answer honestly and patiently when questioned about ingredients.
Got any advice for someone who wants to start their own food blog?
If you are thinking about starting your own blog, you should start by reading the blogs that interest you regularly and consider why you admire them or find them useful. Ask the editor of one of those blogs if you might contribute. Suggest a few ideas or an area of that blog’s content that you would like to add to. Editors are always looking for content and will likely welcome your inquiry. It’s a great way to check out what a blogger’s world is really about.
What’s on the horizon for Kosher Like Me?
I am on the verge of re-designing the blog in order to make it more user-friendly. After two and a half years, a lot has changed about what I want to share with my readers!
You can read more about Liz Rueven here and check back tomorrow for her recipe for hearty lentil soup.
Bagels, rugelach, and babka, oh my!
The most delicious giveaway of the winter is officially on until Thursday, December 19, and four of you are about to win a selection of incredible kosher goodies from our friends at Kosher Gift Box, our favorite online purveyor of Jewish nosh. For FREE.
The grand prize—get ready for it—is the NYC Brunch Basket, full of fresh bagels, rugelach, lox, and cream cheese ($119.99 value) sent overnight straight to your front door.
And the lucky runners-up?
One will get this Collector’s Tin of Rugelach ($44.99 value).
Another: this Fresh Challah Variety Pack with four delicious flavors ($34.99 value).
And the third: this amazing Babka Two-Pack with cinnamon and chocolate loaves. (Because why choose?) ($27.99 value).
Scroll back up to enter today!
(U.S. addresses only. Apologies to our international readers!)
For some time now I had in my head that I wanted to make a brownie that involved halva, that delicious Middle Eastern sesame confection. I researched. I pondered.
And then when I got a jar of the brand-new Soomsoom Foods Tehina, I knew it was my sign to go for it. What I loved about using this particular sesame paste was the super smooth consistency, easy pour-ability and also the fantastic plastic container. Much less messy or tricky to open than the metal cans!
While I chose to sprinkle the halva pieces on top of the brownies, you could also mix them into the brownie batter itself, or make a double batch of the brownies and do a layer of brownie filled with the tahini-cream cheese filling. The possibilities are endless.
Want to make this “semi-homemade” or pareve? Use some tried-and-true store-bought brownie mix and mix as directed. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips to batter, and sprinkle 1/2 cup crumbled halva on top for another variation.
This time of year can be strange for Jews, and Christmas parties can exacerbate the weirdness. Many a Jew has gone to a Christmas party wondering: Is it okay if I eat Christmas cookies? Is it okay if I make them? Do they have to be in the shapes of Jewish stars and dreidels?
For me, the Christmas cookie tradition has never posed much of a problem. I grew up making traditional Christmas cookies like gingerbread men with my mom, who wasn’t Jewish, and I love spending weekends making batch after batch of holiday cookies for my husband’s office and other loved ones. The concept that food is love transcends ethnicity or religion, and so I relish this time of the year to show my affections through the universal language of COOKIES.
Holiday cookies don’t have to be overtly for “Christmas” in fact my fellow food-loving writer Tamar Fox suggests a Hanukkah Sugar Cookie, with a special Austrian twist, perfect for a Jewish celebration or for other holiday treats.
Another way to update a cookie-classic with some Jewish spirit? Shades of Blue Rainbow Cookies from Nosher contributor Joy Prevor.
Or go totally “non-traditional” with my Salty Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies! My husband loves these, and who doesn’t just love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
Here are some of my other favorite cookie and treats recipes that I will be making later this week, Do you bake holiday cookies? Post your favorite recipes below!
Chai-Spiced Cookies from Whole Foods (pictured above)
Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti from King Arthur Flour
Poppy Seed Hanukkah Sugar Cookies from Weelicious
Oreo Cheesecake Brownies from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen
Salted Fudge Brownies from Food and Wine
Traditional Rugelach from Joan Nathan
Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Cherries (pictured below)
Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. Sigh. This has been such an exciting year to celebrate. But between Thanksgiving, the long holiday weekend and eight nights of latkes and sufganiyot, my stomach is sure ready to move on to lighter fare.
I’ve put together some of my favorite healthful eating ideas to help you detox from the eating debuachery of the past week. Got a great a recipe to get our eating on track? Post below and let us know!
Don’t forget dessert: Strawberry Lemon Granita
When I used to live in Washington, DC there was a little bar I loved frequenting which served, among other delicious items, tater tots, grilled cheese and even homemade tomato soup – all the best childhood comfort foods, just a bit upgraded. At some point in the restaurant’s history it changed over the menu to tapas (small Spanish-style plates), and the tater tots and grilled cheeses were a thing of the past. Sigh.
I love updating comfort foods, like my Sweet Potato Mac n Cheese and Shakshuka Pizza among other dishes. There is something so exciting about taking a bite that is both new and also brings back fond memories.
So on a cold November day a few weeks ago when my friend’s son requested soup for lunch, I knew right away I wanted to make something a 3 year old would enjoy as much as I would: creamy, healthy tomato soup with just a spoonful of playful alphabet letters, a throwback to childhood classics. Everyone enjoyed the tomato soup that day, including my 1 year old daughter, the 3 year old Jonah and me and the husband.
Make sure not to add the alphabet pasta until you serve otherwise the pasta will absorb too much of the soup and it will have a mushy, non-soup-like consistency.
When I was brainstorming my Thanksgivukkah menu I kept dwelling on one of my favorite childhood holiday dishes – what my family calls “Sweet Potato Yum Yum” (or what another family might call sweet potato casserole). You are probably familiar with the heavenly combination of pureed sweet potatoes, margarine, brown sugar and spices, topped with marshmallows and baked to sweet, melted perfection.
Combining the flavors from my family’s Sweet Potato Yum Yum into individual-sized sweet potato latkes topped with toast marshmallows seemed like the perfect crowd-pleasing dish to mark this once-in-a-lifetime holiday. And it is. Happy Thanksgivukkah!
Reprinted courtesy of www.thebigfatjewishwedding.com
Is there anything better than waking up the day after Thanksgiving and raiding the fridge full of leftovers while everyone else is elbowing one another at the mall?
My favorite Thanksgiving leftovers were always the excess crescent rolls slathered in butter next to some stuffing and a heaping pile of glazed sweet potatoes. A few carbs during the holidays never hurt anyone. But there comes a point sometime on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving where you just can’t look at another plate of turkey and glazed sweet potatoes. You are craving something different, but ahhh – who wants to waste all those leftover?
Fret no more because I have your solution: bite-sized Thanksgiving knishes made with leftover mashed potatoes, turkey and cranberry sauce. Combine these mini treats with some cranberry mustard dipping sauce and leftovers never sounded so good!
The possibilities are endless, or at least as endless as your leftovers.
Most of my favorite recipes use wholesome, healthful ingredients that are local and seasonal. I don’t buy a lot of processed products or packaged snacks. I truly enjoy making things from scratch.
But once in awhile I find a recipe or a product that I simple cannot resist. Oreo cookies. Entenmanns’s Cheese Danish Twist. And most recently a sweet potato kugel my mother-in-law made last year using sweet potatoes, marshmallows and a box of cake mix.
My sister-in-law and I sat at one end of the long kitchen table with two heaping platefuls of the addictive kugel, unable to prevent ourselves from eating yet another serving.
Soon after the sweet potato kugel binge, I fell asleep with my daughter upstairs for a full hour and a half. Forget the turkey-induced snooze fest…my kugel nap was just divine.
I convinced my mother-in-law to hand over the recipe, and with just a few small tweaks, I share it with you all. But I warn you: there is no going back. Make this at your own risk. You may not be able to put down your fork.