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Archive for Rosh Hashanah

RECIPE: Chicken Liver Crostini…Or Maybe Foie Gras

Chicken Liver Crostini

Chicken Livers On Baguette Toast

Torchon With Toasted Baguette

Dartagnan Foie Gras Torchon

[1] This recipe from Emiko Davies at Honest Cooking is popular in Tuscany (it also contains mushrooms). [2] Food Network adds a garnish of chopped hard-boiled egg and sliced radishes (recipe). Other colored vegetables also work, from asparagus and coronations to grape tomatoes. [3] A torchon of foie gras with toasted baguette (photo courtesy Elle France). [4] You can purchase a ready-to-eat torchon from D’Artagnan.


Crostini and bruschetta have entered the American mainstream over the past 20 years (here’s the difference).

At better restaurants, a bowl of soup is often served with a side or floating garnish of crostini, which can be simple toasted baguette slices (or other bread) and a side of butter or other spread; or topped with anything from cheese (blue, brie, feta, goat) to mashed avocado and bean purée.

As millions of Americans get ready to enjoy the customary chopped liver Rosh Hashanah dinner, take a detour from the customary on saltines, rye or pumpernickel. Make chicken liver crostini.

You can make them with store-bought chopped chicken liver or mousse, but we always keep the tradition going with our Nana’s recipe.

Nana served her chopped liver with Nabisco saltines or Stoned Wheat Thins. When we were young, Mom had moved beyond those to party pumpernickel and [homemade] rye toasts.

Other families prefer triangles of white toast or rye bread. We like baguette crostini or (for a chopped liver sandwich) rye bread.

At Passover, chopped liver is served with matzoh.

Crostini is the Italian name for croutons—not American salad croutons, but small size pieces of toast like a sliced, toasted baguette or a similar Italian loaf. They’re splendid with chopped liver, and are commonplace in Italy as a base for chopped liver.

European chopped chicken liver dates back perhaps 3,000 years. The chicken, which originated in [take your pick—the jury is still out] Africa, China or the Middle East, didn’t get to Western Europe until about 1000 B.C.E.

You can bet that every part of the bird was used, including the innards. We’ve seen some European recipes that of the chopped the liver liver together with the heart and gizzard, no doubt as their ancestors did.

Many Americans think of chopped chicken liver as Jewish cooking, served at holidays and special events. But it’s also served by European Christians.

In Tuscany, Crostini di Fegatini (chicken liver crostini) is on every Christmas table—made by nonna (grandma), or with her recipe, and spread on crostini. As in Jewish households, its served for every birthday dinner or special occasion meal, and can be found on “the menu of literally every trattoria in Tuscany,” per Emiko Davies, a food writer and photographer specializing in Italian cuisine.

Here’s her recipe, adapted from one of those Tuscan trattorias.

On the opposite side of the country, in Venice, the recipes use butter and calves liver. In France, heavy cream and cognac (no surprise there!).

As much as we love Nana’s chicken liver, for us the ultimate chicken liver crostini is not chicken liver at all, but a slice of a duck liver torchon or terrine (a.k.a. foie gras) on toasted brioche.

The liver comes fully prepared, with nothing to do except slice it and make the crostini.

If you’re used to spending on good steaks, you can afford it. A 5-ounce torchon (good for 10 or more slices) is $39.99 and a 1-pound torch is $99.99, at

It makes a lovely gift for a foie-gras (or chopped liver) lover.

In addition to room temperature chopped liver on crostini, you can also serve crostini topped with warm sautéed chicken livers and onions. Just slice the livers into pieces after sautéing.

For some food fun, serve a duo of chicken liver crostini as an appetizer: one with chopped liver, one with sautéed liver.

What’s the difference between an appetizer and an hors d’oeuvre? See below.


This recipe calls for schmaltz, rendered chicken fat. Some European cultures use butter, cream or olive oil. Just keep to these fats.

We once were served chopped chicken liver at a Passover seder, made with mayonnaise! The guest who brought it must not have been able to find or make schmaltz. We will never forget that taste (think of pastrami or corned beef with mayonnaise). Oy.

Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, plus optional chilling time. Nana insisted on making the liver at least a half-day in advance, to allow the flavors to meld in the fridge.

Chopped Liver Consistency

Depending on the preferences of the cook, chopped liver can be coarse, medium, or blended into a mousse-type consistency with some extra fat.

Our preference is medium-to-mousse, but cooks with less time can go rustic. It’s just as tasty; we just a finer texture on the palate.


  • 2 pounds fresh chicken livers, rinsed and patted try
  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz—recipe below)
  • 2 cups yellow onions, medium to fine dice
  • 4 extra-large eggs, hard-cooked and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme leaves (or more parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1. CHECK the livers and remove any fat or membrane. Heat a large sauté or fry pan to medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of rendered chicken fat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden but not brown—about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large plate and wipe out the pan.

    2. COOK the livers 1 pound at a time. Place the livers in the same pan in a single layer, and season them with salt and pepper. Add three more tablespoons of fat and turn the heat to high. When the fat begins to shimmer, place the livers in the pan in a single layer. Cook the livers for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side until browned, turning once. You want to to get the insides just pink. Never overcook liver!

    3. TRANSFER the livers to the plate with the onions and repeat with the second pound of livers and 3 more tablespoons of fat. Let the cooked livers to cool on a platter.

    4. CHOP the livers and onions to your desired consistency. If you don’t have great knife skills, the time-honored Jewish technique is to use a mezzaluna and a wooden chopping bowl. You can buy them as a set, but it’s much easier—and less expensive—to use a double-blade mezzaluna and purchase a separate 12″ wood bowl. You can use the mezzaluna to chop vegetables or anything else; and the wood bowl doubles as a salad bowl, chip bowl, etc.

    Don’t plus in a food processor without experimenting to see if you can get the consistency you want (it could end up like mousse). If you do use a processor, pulse in small batches so the bottom won’t liquefy before the top ingredients are well chopped.

    5. ADD the chopped eggs, herbs, seasonings and the remaining chicken fat to the bowl. Toss to combine. If you want a finer consistency, continue chopping. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    *You can substitute turkey livers. Here’s a party-size recipe from the New York Times.



    If you love chopped liver as much as we do, play around with the recipe and see which suits you. Some people like less hard-boiled egg mixed in; others leave it out of the liver and use it as a garnish on top. Some people like more herbs and onions, some people prefer less.

    Some people like the Italian custom of adding wine or fortified wine, the addition of fresh sage and garlic, and shallots instead of yellow onions.

    Our favorite chopped liver appetizer preparation is our own Four-Onion Chopped Liver Crostini: chopped liver and onions (the basic recipe above), with a garnish of caramelized onions, some pickled onions on the side (red onions or cocktail onions), and a plate garnish of minced chives. Wowsa!
    Optional Mix-Ins

    Don’t use them all at once to find your ideal chopped liver recipe. Test small batches to see what you prefer.

    After you cook one or two pounds of livers, divide the batch and add the additional flavors you want to try.

    Some of the following are Italian touches; others were incorporated to Jewish-style chopped liver we’ve had along the way. If add adding wine or spirits, add them the last few minutes of cooking the livers.

  • 1/4 cup reconstituted dried mushrooms or sautéed fresh mushrooms, both finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced sautéed garlic
  • Heat: a pinch cayenne or chipotle powder, splash of hot sauce, etc.
  • Wine or spirits: 2 tablespoons dry white wine, port, madeira, marsala, sherry, vin santo; or 1 tablespoon brandy or 80-proof spirit
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
  • Crunch: ½ stalk celery or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
    Optional Garnishes

  • Apple or fig slicet
  • Baby arugula
  • Caramelilzed onions (delish!)
  • Chutney, fig or sour cherry jam, etc.
  • Coarse sea salt, plain or flavored
  • Cornichons, halved
  • Cress, microgreens or sprouts
  • Fresh herbs: parsley, sage, thyme
  • Hard-boiled eggs or yolks only (for more color), chopped
    †Aside from a garnish, you can create bottom layer of sliced apple or fig, with the chicken liver on top.


    Plan ahead: Save the uncooked chicken fat and skin you trim from chicken instead of throwing them away. Freeze them, and when you have enough, defrost and you’re ready to render.

  • You can also get chicken fat—often free—from butchers, who throw it away (except kosher butchers, who know their customers will buy it). Ask at your butcher shop or supermarket meat department.
  • You can also collect the fat from homemade chicken soup. Refrigerate it and skim the solid fat that rises to the top. It won’t be a whole lot, but every few tablespoons count.
  • You can see the entire process in photos from Tori Avey (who uses a slightly different recipe than we have here).
    Get Ready To Enjoy Gribenes

    The by-product of rendering the skin for fat are cracklings: crispy pieces of chicken skin. In Yiddish they’re called gribenes (grih-beh-NESS) or grieven (GREE-vin), which means “scraps” in Hebrew.

    They’re a prized treat to eat on potatoes or anything else. When a whole chicken is being used for soup and the skin isn’t needed (it just adds fat that needs to be skimmed off later), it can be cut into strips for gribenes. Cooked with sliced onions, the result is memorable.

    Ready to render?
    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup Or More‡

  • 8 ounces chicken fat and/or raw skin, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
    ‡Rendering fat only produces more schmaltz than rendering fat with skin.



    Chopped Liver With Caramelized Onions

    Chopped Chicken Livers

    Chicken Liver Crostini With Chutney

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    [5] This double garnish from is a dynamite combination of caramelized onions and fresh sage. [6] Arugula garnish (photo courtesy [7] Kings uses a garnish of baby sage and cranberry sauce or chutney (the recipe). [8] Chef Craig Wallen whips the livers into mousse consistency and garnishes the crostini with coarse sea salt (the recipe; photo by Stephanie Bourgeois). [9] Alton Brown serves DIY crostini, with individual ramekins of chicken liver mousse and a side of toasts. His recipe uses cream and cognac (photo courtesy Food Network).

    1. COMBINE the chicken fat and any skin in a small saucepan, along with the thyme, garlic and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

    2. COOK until the fat has rendered (liquefied) and the skin pieces are crispy, about 35 to 45 minutes. As liquid fat fills the pan, drain it into a measuring cup or other vessel; the gribenes will take longer to get crisp.

    3. EAT the gribenes as soon as possible after they come out of the pan. Don’t refrigerate; they’ll go limp. These delicious cracklings can be eaten with potatoes, garnish a salad or chicken/turkey sandwich, grits or polenta, etc. Both Nana and Mom ate them straight from the pan.

    4. COOL the chicken fat slightly, then strain it into a lidded jar. It will keep for up to one week, maybe longer.

    The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference:

    Hors d’oeuvre (there’s no extra “s” in French: it’s the same spelling singular or plural), pronounced or-DERV, refers to finger food, such as canapés, served with drinks prior to the meal. The name means “outside the work,” i.e., not part of the main meal.

    French hors d’oeuvre were traditionally one-bite items, artistically constructed. Today, the category of has expanded to mini quiches, skewers, tarts; baby lamb chops; stuffed mushrooms, etc.

    An appetizer is a first course, served at the table and in larger portions. While you can plate multiple hors d’oeuvres as an appetizer,

    What about crackers and cheese, crudités and dips, salsa and chips, and other popular American foods served with pre-dinner drinks? Since they are finger foods, you can call them hors d’oeuvre. American hors d’oeuvre.



    RECIPE: Dried Fruit Tart For Rosh Hashanah Or Anytime

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    Dried fruit tart with Star Of David lattice. Photo © Martha Stewart Media.


    What we love about this tart is that for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the lattice crust is woven strips of pâte brisée in a Star of David pattern.

    If the pattern looks familiar to non-Jews, it’s because it’s the weave used in classic chair caning.

    Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish New Year, make this lattice-topped tart. Per the recipe on, “The star pattern is easier to make than you might guess.”

    The filling in the tart is made from dried fruits—apricots, cranberries and prunes—that are poached in a spiced vanilla-cognac syrup.

    Here’s the recipe on

    You can use the same lattice on any pie or tart.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

    For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

    This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

    The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.


    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.


    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.


    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.



    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.





    BOOK: The Gefilte Manifesto, New Cooking For The New Year

    The Gefilte Manifesto

    Gefilte Fish Terrine

    [1] Modernize Jewish cooking with The Gefilte Manifesto. Cover photo: parchment-wrapped trout roasted with sliced onions. [2] The new gefilte fish: a two-fish terrine (photos courtesy Flatiron Books).


    Those who don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, can still participate in one of the sweetest treats: sliced apples with honey for dipping. It symbolizes a sweet start to the new wear.

    This year, Rosh Hashanah spans Sunday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 4*.

    If you’re guesting for Rosh Hashanah and need a host/hostess gift, we like the new cookbook from Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, owners of The Gefilteria, a culinary venture that reimagines Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.


    THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, combines respect for culinary tradition with modern culinary preferences.

    The authors—Brooklynites Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz—took more than 100 recipes “pulled deep from the kitchens of Eastern Europe and the diaspora of North America.”

    They re-thought the recipes, taking into consideration modern palates, seasonality and consumers’ desire for easy-to-follow recipes.

    The authors’ variations on time-honored favorites add modern spins to both everyday and holiday dishes. Consider:

  • Fried Sour Pickles With Garlic Aïoli
  • Kasha Varnishkes With Brussels Sprouts
  • Kimchi Stuffed Cabbage
  • Savory Blintzes
  • Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine
  • Sour Dill Martinis
  • Spinach & Leek Kreplach
    You’ll see how easy it is to make home-cured corned beef and pastrami, farmer cheese and honey-sesame chews—just like Great-Great-Great Grandmother did, but with modern conveniences like electricity, food processors and refrigerators.

    Get your copy here.

    Plan B: Bring a really fine honey like Savannah Bee, and a bowl of apples.
    *In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, the dates of Jewish holidays vary yearly. They are based on the Hebrew calendar, which is not in sync with the Gregorian-Wester-Christian calendar.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples & Honey

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    Apples and honey, a Jewish New Year tradition, are a delicious snack or
    simple dessert on any day.


    Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the holiday traditions is dipping an apple in honey. But the tradition can be enjoyed year-round by anyone looking for a tasty snack or a simple dessert.

    All you need are honey and apples. Slice the apples and serve them with a dish of honey.

    TIP: While a bowl of honey lets more than one person dip at a time, a Honey Bear squeeze bottle or other squeeze bottle (with a dispensing tip) is much neater!


    Apples are sweet, honey is even sweeter. Combine the two and it’s symbolic of a [hopefully] ultra-sweet new year.

    The apple symbolizes the Garden of Eden, which according to the Torah has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.”


    So whether or not you’re celebrating anything today, pick up some crisp apples and honey, slice and dip. If you aren’t already familiar with this combination, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to put them together!

    There’s generic honey—a blend of inexpensive honeys from around the world, blended to a common denominator for American supermarket purchases.

    And then there’s varietal honey: single-source honey, such as Black Sage, Clover, Orange Blossom, Raspbery and Sage. There are hundreds of varieties, each made from the nectar of a different flower, bush or tree.

    Each varietal honey has a distinct flavor; thus, and each pairs well with specific foods. Check out our food and honey pairings.

    Consider these pairing tips from Rowan Jacobsen, an apple grower and author of Apples of Uncommon Character:

  • Gala apples with orange blossom honey
  • Granny Smith and other tart green apples with basswood honey
  • Honeycrisp apples with wildflower honey
  • Pink Lady or SweeTango apples with avocado honey
  • Pippin apples with apple blossom honey
  • Russet apples with tupelo honey
    Here’s the full article.

    Happy New Year to those who celebrate, and enjoy those apples and honey, to those who don’t.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Kugel

    The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah*, begins tomorrow night at sundown*. A traditional part of the dinner is kugel (KOO-gull), a casserole-like baked pudding that is served as part of the main course.

    The traditional versions in Jewish households are noodle pudding (lokshen kugel), made with egg noodles and raisins; and potato kugel; but mixed vegetable kugels have become very popular in recent decades.

    In our family’s tradition of excess, Nana always made a noodle kugel and a potato-carrot kugel. We always looked forward to them—especially the sweet noodle kugel—and always requested the crispiest† piece. Nana’s noodle pudding recipe is below.


    “Kugel” is a word from Middle High German meaning sphere, globe or ball. The Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the first versions, baked in round pans to a puffed-up shape. (Today, kugels are often baked in square or rectangular pans.)

    According to Wikipedia, the first kugels were savory casseroles made from bread and flour. Some 800 years ago, German cooks replaced the bread and flour with noodles or farfel (pellet-shaped pasta like orzo).


    Vegetable Kugel

    A slice of vegetable kugel, made with carrot, onion, potato and zucchini. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

    Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency that is common in today’s dessert kugels.

    Polish Jews added raisins, cinnamon and cottage cheese to their noodle kugels. Jews in different communities developed their own flavors. In Jerusalem, the kugel of choice is a caramelized sugar and black pepper noodle kugel. Here’s a detailed history of kugel.

    *Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” Because of the nature of the Jewish calendar, the date differs each year.

    †Bake a noodle kugel for a few extra minutes and the top noodles get crisper.


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    Cholesterol conscious? This noodle kugel omits the egg yolks. Recipe courtesy Kitchen
    Daily. Here’s their recipe.



    As with casseroles, there are as many types of kugel as there are cooks who conceive them. You may even have enjoyed kugel without knowing it: Baked rice pudding is a kugel (rice kugel). Carrot pudding is a kugel.

    Savory kugels are most often potato kugels, but broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cheese, spinach, yellow squash and zucchini have become popular (usually with a touch of onion). Like cauliflower and mushrooms? Put them in your kugel. Here’s a link to many savory kugel recipes.

    Sweet kugels are made with apples, butternut squash, cherries, corn, dried fruits, peaches, pineapple, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and more. You can use any fruit you fancy, from lychee to mango. Check out these sweet kugel recipes.

    There are flourless Passover kugel recipes that adapt of all of these.




  • 1/2 pound wide egg noodles
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 dashes salt
  • Optional: slivered almonds‡

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. BOIL the noodles in salted water for 4 minutes; then drain. Combine the noodles with the other ingredients (except the almonds) in a large mixing bowl

    3. POUR into a greased baking pan, 9″ by 13″ baking dish (substitute 9″ by 9″ square pan). Sprinkle the optional almonds over the top. Bake until the custard is set and the top is golden brown, about 30 to 45 minutes.
    Enjoy the leftover kugel for breakfast, cold or warmed.
    ‡Some people add a can of crushed pineapple. Nana would geschrei!



    RECIPE: The Best Baklava


    A winning baklava recipe. Photo courtesy
    Food 52.


    We admit to an enthusiasm for baklava. Good baklava—made with quality honey—is one of the world’s great pastries. Here’s the history of baklava, an ancient pastry that dates to the 8th century B.C.E.

    This recipe was the runner up in a contest held by Food52 for the California Walnut Board.

    “This is my mom’s recipe,” says CookbookChick, who submitted the recipe. “I don’t know where she got the idea for her ‘secret ingredient,’ but it produces the best baklava ever. [Mom is Mrs. Z, credited below.]

    “If you like baklava but can’t get past the cloying sweetness, this is the one to try: You will never go back or be satisfied with the stuff you get in Greek restaurants again.”

    Honey and apples is a Rosh Hashanah tradition, a wish for a sweet new year. The Jewish New Year begins next Thursday; some sweet, honeyed baklava would not be out of place. Try this recipe, courtesy of Food52 for the California Walnut Board.


    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

    For The Baklava Syrup

  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
    For The Baklava

  • 1 cup graham crackers, finely crushed (the secret ingredient!)
  • 1-1/2 pounds walnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound butter, melted and clarified*
  • 1 pound filo dough
  • 24 whole cloves
    *To clarify, melt the butter, skim off the milk solids and pour off the clear yellow butter. Discard the white solids in the bottom of the pan.



    1. COMBINE all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, just until a thin syrup is formed. Allow to cool to room temperature while you build the baklava.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    3. CRUSH the graham crackers into fine crumbs. You can do this (a) by putting them in a sealed plastic bag and pounding them with a meat tenderizer, (b) rolling with a rolling pin, or (c) pulverizing in a food processor.

    4. GRIND the nuts finely with a manual nut grinder (preferable) or in a food processor. With the latter, take care not to grind too far, or you will have nut butter.

    5. COMBINE the graham cracker crumbs, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.



    California walnuts. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.


    6. LAY out the filo dough on a clean kitchen towel. Lay another towel on top of the filo to help prevent it from drying out.

    7. BUILD the baklava in an 8 x 8-inch square pan. Layer 6 to 8 sheets of filo in the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet lightly with butter before adding the next (a silicone basting brush makes it easy). Many Greek cooks, including Mrs. Z, simply drizzle the butter from a teaspoon; or you can use a traditional boar bristle pastry brush.

    8. SPRINKLE the nut mixture in a thin layer over the filo dough. Cover with 3 to 4 more sheets, each brushed lightly with butter. Repeat until the nut mixture is completely used up. Cover with 6 to 8 filo sheet, brushing each layer lightly with butter.

    9. REFRIGERATE the uncooked baklava for an hour or two until the butter solidifies. Then, before baking, cut with a sharp knife into small squares or diamond shapes. If you want the traditional diamond shapes, start with a corner-to-corner diagonal cut. Stick a whole clove into the center of each piece.

    10. BAKE at 350°F for no longer than one hour, until it becomes a light golden brown. If the baklava dries out, it is ruined.

    11. REMOVE from the oven and immediately pour the room temperature syrup evenly over the hot pastry. The rule is hot pastry, cool syrup or you’ll get a soggy dessert! Start with about half of the syrup, letting the pastry absorb it (you may not use it all).

    Serving idea: Nestle each piece in a pretty paper cupcake cup or foil cupcake cup and present on a platter.



    ROSH HASHANAH: Classic Tzimmes Recipe

    The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated this year from the evening of Wednesday, September 4th through the evening of Friday, September 6th (in the Hebrew calendar, the year is year 5774.

    European (Ashkenazic) Jews have a feast that traditionally includes:

  • Gefilte fish appetizer
  • Chicken soup
  • Brisket or roast chicken
  • Carrot and sweet potato tzimmes
  • Potato kugel or other potato dish
  • A vegetable side
  • Fruit compote
  • Honey cake

    Tzimmes, a carrot-sweet potato dish. Photo courtesy


    Everyone can enjoy the Jewish New Year with this tzimmes (TSIH-mess) recipe. Tzimmes, which means “light meal” in Yiddish, is a sweetened combination of vegetables, usually carrots and potatoes. Meat can be included, and dried prunes are often added.

    Tzimmes is is stewed or baked in a casserole. The result is a side dish that will appeal to all people with a sweet tooth.

    Here, the classic recipe is dressed up by Dole with dried cranberries, in addition to the conventional chopped dates.


    Moist and delicious dates from California.
    Photo © Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers.




  • 1 package (16 ounces) baby carrots or 1 pound regular carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. HEAT a large saucepan of water to boiling; add sweet potatoes and carrots and reduce heat to medium. Cook 15 minutes or until slightly tender, drain in colander and set aside.

    3. STIR together dates, cranberries and walnuts in large bowl. Add cooled sweet potato and carrots, orange juice, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon, cumin and salt. Gently stir until evenly coated.

    4. TRANSFER mixture to prepared dish; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, basting with pan juices half way through cooking.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Organic Honey From Whole Foods Markets

    September is National Honey Month, a good reason to focus on our favorite ways to use honey.

    Even if you’re not Jewish, you can start this week with a Rosh Hashanah tradition:

    Celebrate the Jewish New Year with a traditional snack of apples and honey. The custom ushers in a sweet new year.

    We never thought to dip apples and honey until we were invited to our neighbors’ home one Rosh Hashanah 10 years ago. It’s become a favorite treat.

    TIP: Instead of placing the honey into a small dish for dipping, as in the photo, think of hollowing out a large apple and placing it, filled with honey, in the center of a plate of apple slices.

    We recently discovered that there’s a special prayer to recite before the honey and apples are consumed. THE NIBBLE doesn’t publish religious content, but we were so charmed by the thought of a prayer of thanks for honey and apples that we couldn’t resist:


    Honey and apples are a Rosh Hashanah tradition. Photo courtesy


  • Recite the first part of the prayer: Blessed are you Lord, our God, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the tree. (In Hebrew: Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, Borai p’ree ha’aritz.)
  • Take a bite of an apple slice dipped in honey.
  • Recite the second part of the prayer: May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year. (In Hebrew: Y’hee ratzon mee-l’fanekha, Adonai Elohaynu v’elohey avoteynu sh’tichadeish aleinu shanah tovah um’tuqah.
  • Enjoy the rest of the apples and honey.

    The new 365 Organic Mountain Forest Honey
    line. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.



    Just in time for fall apple-dipping, Whole Foods Market has introduced 365 Everyday Value Mountain Forest Honey, U.S. Grade A in four varieties:

  • Light Amber
  • Amber
  • Raw Honey
  • White Raw Honey
    Organic honey is made from the nectar of plants in fields that have not been treated with chemical pesticide. The fields must be pesticide-free for 20 miles in every direction of the beehives.


    In addition to organic certification, the honeys are also Whole Trade, a certification similar to Fair Trade. It ensures that the products were produced in a way that ensures fair prices to producers, safe and healthy working conditions for farm workers and environmentally-friendly production. (More about Fair Trade and similar certifying organizations).


    Try honey in these delicious recipes from Whole Foods:

  • Honey Lime Salmon Kabobs
  • Honey Mustard Coleslaw
  • Baklava With Honey Syrup

    Here’s everything you need to know about honey: types, storing and using, pairing, trivia, history, and more recipes.

    Have a sweet September.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Flavored Challah Bread

    Chocolate-stuffed babka and olive-
    stuffed challah from Motzi. Photo by
    Sue Ding | THE NIBBLE.


    Challah was the type of bread tithed to priests* in ancient Israeli temples. A portion of the challah loaf was sanctified and the rest was consumed. Challah became the customary bread to serve with Sabbath and holiday meals.

    Motzi has updated the traditional plain challah by stuffing it with delicious things: sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives, pumpkin and chocolate (not all in one loaf, of course).

    With the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, commencing on Wednesday, September 28th, it’s a perfect time to try these delicious stuffed challahs, or send them as gifts (just $5.00 a loaf).

    When we sat down to try our order, we never dreamed that five loaves of bread would disappear so quickly.

    Fortunately, the products freeze well, so on our next order, we paced ourselves.

  • Read the full review.
  • Discover a world of delicious bread types in our Bread Glossary.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.
    *Where were the rabbis? Long before rabbis were in charge of Jewish congregations, priests were in charge of the temples. The roots of Judaism date back to the Bronze Age (3300 to 1200 B.C.E.). Rabbinic Judaism (today’s Judaism) developed during the 3rd to 6th centuries C.E., after the codification of the Talmud (the central text of Judaism that covers customs, ethics, history, law and philosophy). “Rabbi” means “teacher of the Talmud.”



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