Sunday, September 20, 2009

Traditional High Holiday Side Dishes...Un-Traditionally Better For You.

I grew up in a family where every Rosh Hashanah, some, or all, of the following traditional Jewish foods were cooked/baked:
  • Kasha and Varnishkas
  • Meat Kreplach
  • Challah
  • Tzimmes
  • Chicken Soup

Well, it all sounds good, right?

Well yeah, of course it does. But this list also contains some of the fattiest or calorie heavy foods I've ever had! As a little girl, I used to love meat Kreplach; or rather, meat dumplings. The trick was though, as it is with all Jewish cooking, to add some schmaltz, or chicken fat. Well, I recreated the taste of that without using much, or any, at all. As I was cooking, I noticed how just fact I was making these items made me feel nostalgic of my youth, and as I later found out, even my father's and great uncle's youth!

So below, please find my recipes for some traditional holiday foods, un-traditionally better for you.

Kasha and Varnishkas- Kasha, or buckwheat, with bow tie pasta. As a child, I cannot recall a holiday where this was NOT on the table. Thanks Mom, for teaching me what goes into this bad boy.

  • 1 16 ounce box of Barilla Plus Farfalle Pasta, cooked al dente.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup Kasha (like Wolff's brand)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 tbsp smart balance light margarine

Toast the kasha in a non-stick skillet over med ium heat. Toss the kasha in the pan a few times. Pay attention to how this smells! The nuttiness will come out when it is ready.

I can not tell you how many times I have burnt Kasha. So, please, for your taste buds sake, don't let this happen!

In another saucepan, bring to a boil the water and salt. Once boiling, stir in the kasha. Cover tightly and lower the heat to low. Put your timer on for 20 minutes. Finally, lift the lid and fluff the Kasha with a fork.

Roughly chop the onion and garlic and saute them with about a tsp of smart balance. Saute until translucent.

Next, add all of the ingredients to the bow tie pasta. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the remaining margarine. This is a great side dish or main dish. It serves about 12 healthy size portions, but more than likely, 16 side dishes.

The facts, per The Daily Plate

    Nutrition Facts
    Recipe Serves 12 people
    Amount per Serving
    Calories 329 Total Fat 4.83g Saturated Fat 1.79g Monounsaturated Fat 0.63g Cholesterol 6.25mg Sodium 75.42mg Potassium 73.33mg Total Carbohydrate 57.5g Dietary Fiber 5.58g Sugars 2g Protein 13.5g

Meat Kreplach- or Meat Dumplings!

My mother always warned me these were time consuming. I didn't find them to take that long. Enjoy!

  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 12 ounces of 93/7 lean ground beef
  • 1 cups Chopped Onion
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoons Minced Garlic in Water

For the dough:

Add flour, salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Take slightly beaten egg and water, pour into well of flour/salt mixture. Knead until elastic.

Roll dough out thinly onto lightly floured pastry board. Dough should be thin, but not paper thin.

For the filling:

Saute the onion & garlic in non stick skillet with 1 tsp olive oil.

Brown the beef in same non stick skillet

Place onion mix, beef, and egg into food processor. Blend til combined.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, assemble your dumplings. cut squares that are about 2" by 2". Place a little filling (about a tsp) in each dumpling. Dampen the edges of the dough, and fold over like triangles. Now, take a fork, and lightly press the edges of the dumpling together.

Place dumplings in boiling water for about 18 minutes.

You can serve the Kreplach like this, but I prefer mind pan fried.

The fun facts, from Livestrong/The Daily Plate:

Nutrition Facts

Recipe Makes 24 dumplings.

Amount per Serving (1 dumpling)

Calories 40 Total Fat 1.38g Saturated Fat 0.5g Monounsaturated Fat 0.17g

Polyunsaturated Fat 0.04g Cholesterol 22.92mg Sodium 23.13mg Potassium 5mg Total Carbohydrate 2.54g

Dietary Fiber 0.21g Sugars 0.08g Protein 3.79g



This was my first attempt at making ANY type of bread. I adapted this recipe from my new favorite cookbook-the Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook I referred to in an earlier post. This was delicious. Soft on the inside; golden brown on the outside. It was excellent alone, with chopped liver, and great the next day with a chicken sandwich. Enjoy!

  • 1, .25 ounce packet of Active dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoons Sugar, Granulated
  • 1/4 cups Tap Water
  • 4.5 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Coarse Kosher Salt
  • 3 servings egg yolk
  • 1 cups Tap Water
  • 1/3 cups Big Bear 100% Pure Honey
  • 2 tablespoons Smart Balance Omega Oil
First step, take the yeast packet, sugar, and 1/4 cup of water. Let yeast dissolve and become foamy.
Next, take the 4.5 cups of flour and salt and pulse about 4 times in a food processor. Next, add the honey, egg yolks, water, oil, and yeast mixture to the food processor. pulse until a ball of dough forms around the blade.

Place dough in a greased bowl for 1-2 hours until the size of the ball doubles. Don't forget to cover the bowl!

After your patience runs out, go on and take the dough out of the bowl and punch it (Time to take your aggression out, kids!).
Divide the ball into half. Working with half the dough, divide it into thirds. Now, it's time to braid your dough. Repeat with other half.
Grease two 9x4 loaf pans. Place one braided loaf in a each pan.
Cover again. Let your patience get the best of you for 1-2 more hours, until the loaves double in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375.
>> >> >> >> >>
Fast forward 2 hours...
Take an egg & some water and mix it together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the egg wash on each loaf.
It's time to put those dear loves in the oven.
Wait about 25-30 minutes.
When they are out, they should look like this.
Mmmm. Homemade Challah. Cheryl Ann, eat your heart out.

Nutrition Facts
Recipe Serves 16 people
Amount per Serving
Calories 61 Total Fat 2.61g Saturated Fat 0.48g Monounsaturated Fat 1.25g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.75g Cholesterol 39.94mg Sodium 61.53mg Potassium 8.75mg Total Carbohydrate 7.02g Dietary Fiber 0.38g Sugars 0.86g Protein 1.82g
So, Tzimmes is one of those dishes that as a kid, you look at and immediately say, "Heck no, I'm not eating that, grandma!" In fact, I definitely made a face when my father's mother made it. Well, as I've gotten older, I stopped to think what actually made this dish. Everything is pretty darn healthy in it. I mean, carrots- hello vitamin A, better eye sight, and antioxidants. And what about prunes- well, here we have another great antioxidant and a fruit that helps with fiber regularity (move over, fiber one).

Before I tell you the recipe for this easy (but takes a long time to cook dish), I will say, my father took a bite of this Tzimmes and said "Oh, Wow. This tastes exactly how my bubbe used to make it 50 years ago. " Yeah, I'm tooting my own horn. Mmm. Sweet, Sweet, Vegetables.
  • • About 15 Prunes, Sunsweet, Dried, Pitted
  • • 1.5 cups Carrots, Chopped
  • • 1 medium sized Sweetpotato
  • • 4 ounces Beef Shortribs- no bone.
  • • 1/2 cups Sugar, Granulated
  • • 1 medium sized Yukon Gold Potato
  • • 1 teaspoons Coarse Kosher Salt
  • • 1/4 cups Light Brown Sugar
This is so easy. You don't even know. Get your Mandoline slicer out, kids!
Slice carrots in round discs, about 1/2" thick.
Dice the sweet potato
Chop the beef short rib up into bite size pieces
Slice the yukon gold (you can really use whatever, I used what was on hand) 1/4" thickness.
Toss this all in a 13x9 pyrex.
Toss prunes into the mix
Add water until vegetables are just covered (about 1.5-2 cups)
Add sugars and salt. Mix well!

Toss in oven at 375 degrees for 60 minutes. Covered!!!
Take out after an hour; mix. If liquid has not absorbed, at this time, take a small bowl; add about 1 tbsp water and 1-2 tsp of cornstarch and whisk. Add cornstarch liquid to Tzimmes mixture.
Place back in oven for 60 more minutes, Uncovered!
See, it's easy!

Nutrition Facts
Recipe Serves 12 people
Amount per Serving
Calories 101 Total Fat 1.87g Saturated Fat 0.78g Monounsaturated Fat 0.81g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.07g Cholesterol 9.42mg Sodium 59.92mg Potassium 216.83mg Total Carbohydrate 15.49g
Dietary Fiber 1.75g Sugars 9.43g Protein 3.98g
Chicken Soup

For real. The following is true: Chicken soup is Jewish people's penicillin. It's also delicious on a cool day, an easy lunch, and stays for a few days so you can have left overs for lunch!

Now, you can have it, too!

The ingredients:

2-3 cubes of Telma chicken flavor (those are the little square Chicken Bouillons)
About 10 ounces Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cups Chopped Onion
1/2 cups Chopped Carrots
3 stalks of Chopped Celery
1/2 teaspoons Dill Weed, Dried
1/2 teaspoons Parsley, Dried

How do I make liquid deliciousness you ask?
Take stock pot.
Add about 6-8 cups of water.
Add Bouillon cubes.
Let boil.
Add other ingredients.
Let simmer for 1.5 hours before you taste.
Adjust seasoning to your liking.
Let cook for another 3 hours or so.

Voila. Yummy soup.

Nutrition Facts
Recipe Serves 8 people
Amount per Serving
Calories 77 Total Fat 0.28g Saturated Fat 0.01g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.03g Cholesterol 20.63mg
Sodium 508.72mg Potassium 90.25mg Total Carbohydrate 7.23g Dietary Fiber 0.9g Sugars 1.9g
Protein 1.25g

I hope you enjoy making these traditional dishes as much as I did!

Monday, September 14, 2009

You Can't Beat a Babka!

I remember one episode of Seinfeld, called the Dinner Party, where Elaine will do basically anything to get her hands on a Babka. Ever since I saw that episode, I HAD to make one (we're talking YEARS here, people). But I was too scared to try to make it. Eastern European baked goods typically equate to me purchasing larger jean sizes. Until now. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

So, this past weekend in preparation for the Jewish High Holidays, I wanted to channel my inner Jewish baker and decided to make a Babka. If it turned out good, hey, I could make a Babka for Break Fast on Yom Kippur.

So by now, if you don't know what a Babka is, you're probably wondering...What the heck is this freaking Babka? The Babka (I can't tell you how much I love saying the word "Babka," by the way), originates from Eastern Europe, and in Polish, means "Grandmother." Which couldn't be more fitting for my blog, really. Anyways, the Babka's I am used to are the ones made in a 9-10" bundt pan (or tube pan), and often have chocolate in them.

Well, lucky me, I have one of those bundt pans (I am so happy to finally use it) and also received this great cookbook as a shower gift from one of my mother's friends: Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook. There are so many babka recipes! I decided to merge a few together and make my own. I figured, if I am going to try to bake something new, I may as well create something all on my own, and if it is a fail, at least I went down kicking and screaming. So, here's my recipe that I adapted from Lil's recipe in the Hadassah cookbook. Note though, this is a 2 day process, so don't try to make this after dinner guys! Enjoy!
Mix the package of dry yeast, 1/4 c water, and 2 tsp of sugar and let yeast dissolve. In a bowl, sift flour. Add salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix. I love my KA mixer, so I used this...It is a time saver. Make sure to use the dough hook.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, add the 3 egg yolks, and the stick of light butter. Now, when I make this next time, I will substitute at least half the butter for applesauce to add some more nutrition, this time, I wanted to just test out my idea. The dough is somewhat ready (in my opinion), when it forms a ball around the hook.

Place in a zip-lock bag, adding more flour if you need to so that the dough forms a ball, and fridge it over night.

Next day:
Yaaaaawn. Up and at em.

Take the dough out, and cut it into half. Roll each ball of dough into oblong shapes- roughly 12-14" by 8-10" I am no where near exact, I just eye balled it.

So, now for the sweet loving goodness in the middle:
Here's how you make it:
Take the 3 egg whites and use your hand mixer or KA stand mixer (again, love it in times like these), and beat the egg whites until stiff, but not totally dry. This means white peaks form when you remove the whisk. Then, add a cup sugar, slowly.

Layer this meringue like mixture on both pieces of oblong dough that you rolled out.
Next, in a bowl, mix the chopped nuts, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Sprinkle this bit of love on top of the egg white mixture.

Now, roll one of those bad boys up like a jelly roll, starting from the short side. Grease your bundt pan. Place one jelly roll on one half of the bundt pan. Repeat, and place the second jelly roll looking thing on the other side. Make an egg wash with a tiny bit of egg and a little water and tiny bit of melted butter. Spread it on top of the cake.
Now, the piece de resistance: The crumb topping
Using a fork, mix this stuff up good and crumbly. Sprinkly on top of cake.

NOW....Cover your masterpiece with a clean towel and store in a warm place for 2 hours.

Moving on...

Take the masterpiece, throw it in a preheated 350 degree oven and let cook for 50 minutes.

Your dwelling will smell unreal. Like a Jewish bakery. I kid you not. And it serves around 16-20 people (small slices, that's all you need this cake is FILLING).

Here are the approximate facts for serving up to 20 people:

Nutrition Facts

Recipe Serves 20 people

Amount per Serving
  • Calories 130Calories from Fat 46
% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 5.37g8%
  • Saturated Fat 2.42g12%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 1.34g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.78g
  • Cholesterol 41.25mg14%
  • Sodium 69.93mg3%
  • Potassium 22.5mg1%
  • Total Carbohydrate 16.93g6%
  • Dietary Fiber 0.98g4%
  • Sugars 5.55g

  • Protein 3.29g7%