Saturday, September 22, 2018

Holiday Challah

This is not the challah you are making your family so you can eat healthier. This is the sweet yellow challah you make for special occasions where everyone around the table leans back and rolls their eyes in ecstasy.

While challah has come to mean the Jewish egg-bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat and holidays (or "challah-days" ;-) pun intended) the name comes from the piece of challah that is required to be separated as an offering or sacrifice to G-d. This "mitzva" or Jewish commandment is required anytime someone bakes with a substantial portion of flour. Baking and taking challah is a mitzvah special to women, and it is also a special time for women to ask for extra blessings - to ask G-d for what they need or want. Women often use this time to ask for peace, healing and blessings for members of the community. I put this recipe together in order to use enough flour to "take challah" or separate a piece of challah and make a blessing on this holy act.

It is traditional to eat round sweet raisin challah for Rosh Hashana, in the merit of having a sweet new year.

Makes approximately 6 substantial loaves (see images).


  • 1.5 oz or 45 grams or 3 Tablespoons yeast
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3.5 cups warm water (just below body temperature)
  • 5 whole large eggs plus 2 additional yolks in the dough 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (warm enough to be liquid)
  • Heaping Tablespoon honey or more to taste
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • optional - raisins (or chocolate chips, if you're feeling extra fun)
  • 1700 grams all-purpose flour or bread flour (approximately 12-14 cups) (the proportions of the above ingredients do not translate well to whole wheat or other flours)
  • some flour for rolling and braiding
  • 1 additional egg yolk with water for tops
  • optional - poppy seeds or sesame seeds for top
Note: save the 3 extra egg whites for the egg-white omelet you'll make yourself while waiting for the dough to rise. Or make meringues for dessert.

Method (can all be done by hand in one large bowl)

  1. Mix water, sugar, and yeast.
  2. Gently beat eggs.
  3. Add eggs, oils, honey and (optional) raisins. Mix well. Leave the salt sitting out so you don't forget it later.
  4. Slowly add approximately 2/3 of the flour mixing constantly.
  5. Cover with plastic or a damp cloth and let this "sponge" rise approximately 1 hour. (Skip this step if dough will sit overnight.)
  6. Add salt.
  7. Slowly add the rest of the flour while kneading, stretching, and folding the dough to develop the gluten. The dough should loose most of its stickiness and be dense enough to hold the shape of a ball or snake.
  8. Let the dough rise in a warm place for another couple hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
  9. Now would be the time to separate "challah," as mentioned above. HERE are details.
  10. Fold and roll the dough into separate balls in preparation for braiding or making rolls or knots. If you're not the braiding type, roll twelve balls a bit bigger than a golf ball and place in a round pan. We call this "pull-apart challah" (see image).
  11. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. Shape dough as desired. Ideas and videos HERE.
  13. Beat egg yolk with a spoonful of water and brush liberally on challah with a pastry brush or paper towel.
  14. Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 C while dough rests and rises a bit.
  15. Bake 20-40 minutes until interior temperate measures 190 F or 88 C.

Send me pictures of your Challah! Happy holidays! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Passover List Making

I love lists. I need lists. Passover is THE list holiday.

For me, it starts the previous year. While I'm cooking and while I'm putting things away I make lists:
- Buy next year - Food (so I don't have to guess how much matzah, eggs, and cheese we actually ate)
- Buy next year - tools/appliances wish list
- Don't buy/what I have already

The tricky part here is remembering where I put the list. If you don't type up your lists, I recommend scanning them and emailing them to myself. (You hear that future self!? Email me my lists! Or where I put my lists!)

Keep your menus and shopping lists from year to year. Keep a list of links to recipes. No need to reinvent the wheel!
I start here:
And here:

The problem is, I think I skipped all this list making last year. And this year I was very busy with work (I'm a tax accountant.) and I was a bit lazy about inviting guests anyway, so, I was thinking - I've done this a few times. I'll just wing it. Walk up and down the aisles, buy whatever I think we need. Start cooking a day and a half before Passover and don't stop until the holiday comes in.

Just because I'm living dangerously, doesn't mean you have to! I'd like to refer you to my friend and fellow Israeli entrepreneur, Rebekah Saltzman, CEO of Balagan Be Gone.

Rebekah says, "Most people think  Pesach is a pain but it doesn't have to be, you can get it all done and still arrive at the Seder calm and collected.  Use my guide to help you get there.  It takes a little time to populate but the payoff for years to come is so helpful and time-saving.  Keep a list of all your supplies, recipes, menus and guests all in one place for all the holidays!  I raise my glasses, all four of them, to a PAINLESS Pesach!"

Rebekah designed a spreadsheet to get you started AND made a video to walk you through it! It's free for the tiny price of your email address. You still need to personalize it, but the structure is all there! I'm going to start personalizing mine as soon as I hit "post".

Check out Rebekah's "Painless Pesach"!

If you use Gmail and Google Drive:
1. Enter your name and email address.
3. In the Google Sheet, select File > Make a copy...
4. Watch Rebekah's video and start organizing your Pesach

If you don't use Google Drive, for step #3 above, select File > Download as > [Microsoft Excel]. But remember where you saved it!!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sprout Chocolate Chips to Maximize Health Benefits

With the ongoing war on sugar, and a new superfood on the shelves every week, you may be overwhelmed by the onslaught of health fads. Humans have been consuming and fermenting chocolate beverages for over 3000 years. But, is chocolate in its current form candy or superfood?

The sugar, fat, and additives you find in most major brands of chocolate make them a poor choice of snack. However, dark chocolate is a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and an excellent source of antioxidants. 

You can increase chocolate's healthy properties even more by sprouting it. Even letting your chocolate germinate for 48 hours can unleash the benefits of sprouting. You can easily sprout chocolate chips at home on paper towels or in a plastic or glass container, just like sprouting alfalfa chia or seeds. For an example, see my tutorial on growing alfalfa sprouts.

Sprouting causes the chocolate germ to partially digest some of the starches and sugars in the chocolate, lowering its glycemic index and making it higher in fiber, vitamin D, and phytonutrients. Chocolate in its natural form has phytic acid and other "anti-nutrients" which inhibit the absorption of certain minerals. The process of soaking degrades these anti-nutrients, making it easier to absorb the natural iron and zinc.

Sprouting chocolate chips can be tossed on salad, used in sprouted grain pancakes, or eaten plain.

Follow my blog so you don't miss next week's post on fermented macaroni and cheese!

1. Soak chocolate chips overnight in cool water.
2. Lay out on wet paper towel or cheesecloth and cover with another damp cloth.
3. Once the chocolate chips split open and a sprout starts peeking out, move the chips to a place with some natural light. Keep them away from direct sun, or they could melt.
4. This process works best on April 1.

This post was brought to you by the very talented Yoga Painter (image below)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Live Hummus with Fermented foods

This is how I make hummus. All the fermented things add natural probiotics to the diet and act as a natural preservative. I recognize you might not have all these things in the house, so feel free to substitute, and tell me what happens!

*Try this with white beans, black beans, fava beans, and other legumes.

Into a food processor, add:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (I use pickeled garlic from making cucumber pickers)
Chop garlic with seasoning.

  • 4 cups cooked or sprouted chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, that's two cans -
    SAVE THE WATER/cooking liquid, save a few chickpeas for garnish.
  • About 1/16 (1"x1" piece) of a preserved lemon
  • 1.5 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about half a small lemon)
  • 1 Tablespoon live pickle juice (optional)
Blend until smooth.

  • About 1/4 cup (2-3 oz) water from chickpeas
  • 2 Tablespoons Tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Garnish with with extra chickpeas, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little fresh, quality cumin or zaatar.

Chickpeas are high in fiber and iron, and have been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Hummus is an excellent way to turn some raw vegetables into a hearty snack.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Rich Mocha Fudge Brownies (Dairy Free)

Trigger warning:
My family has been eating a lot more wheat-free, no sugar added, raw, nutrient-rich things. This is NOT one of those things.

This recipe is based on a well tested recipe from America's Test Kitchen for chewy brownies. I've adjusted to make them with available, dairy free, ingredients, and more rich chocolate and fudgy.

These brownies are a real show-stopper, and they are relatively easy to make in that they don't require a mixer, separate mixing bowls, or whipping anything into "peaks."

YIELD: at least 24 very rich brownies, or one 9x13 pan or "half pan"

  • 1/3-1/2 cup (100 ml) cocoa powder (depending on your taste) (I use about 1.2 oz by weight) 
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee
  • 2 oz finely chopped unsweetened chocolate (I start with 7/8 of a 100 gram bar of 100% cocoa "Holy Cacoa")
  • 4 Tablespoons (about 1.8 oz by weight) coconut oil
  • 5/8 cup (5 liquid oz) olive oil
  • 2 eggs (whole)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (use a little less for a deeper bitter-sweet flavor, but significantly decreasing or substituting sugar will alter the structure of the brownie
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt (less if your salt is extra fine, more for kosher salt)
  • 8 oz (250 grams) cold, high quality bittersweet chocolate chips or large chocolate chunks

  1. Have all ingredients ready, except coffee.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 C. Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper (or foil) and a light coating of oil or cooking spray.
  3. Brew strong coffee, add to large mixing bowl (must still be hot).
  4. Whisk in cocoa powder, followed by chopped unsweetened chocolate. Whisk until smooth and melted. Mixture looks like ganache. Resist the urge to taste this bitter mixture.
  5. Wisk in oils, then eggs, yolks, and vanilla.
  6. Wisk in sugar until everything is homogeneous. Until this step, you don't need to worry about mixing too much.
  7. Switch to a spatula and mix in flour and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  8. Scrape into oiled paper- or foil-lined pan.
  9. Cook 20-30 minutes. Checking frequently after 20 minutes or as soon as you smell them. They are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with sticky chocolatey crumbs, but the brownies are not "soapy" or very jiggly. Remember these have a lot of chocolate and other ingredients that are liquid when hot and will cool to a solid. Do not leave them in until solid.
  10. Let cool at least 1 hour, preferably several hours in the fridge before cutting.

* Pull out as soon as you smell it.
* Double the recipe, slice into small squares, and freeze small portions. WRAP WELL because high fat foods absorb other smells/flavors. Plastic wrap just doesn't cut it.
* Serve hot with ice cream, or cold. I like them when they've been out of the freezer for about 10 minutes.
* Try adding pecans.
* For chewy, less gooey brownies, add an extra 1/4 cup flour and cook an extra 4-5 minutes.
* Try adding caramels and rock salt on top in the last 7 minutes of cooking. (Reduce salt in batter.)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Live" Tahini with Preserved Lemon and Garlic

Healthy tehina/tahina/tachina/tahini dressing or dip or sauce

I make this dip most weeks. We dip bread in it on Sabbath and I use it as salad dressing during the week. It would also be excellent drizzled over eggplant.

I do all this with my stick blender, so you will want a tall cup that fits a stick blender.

You CAN do this by hand, but you will need to finely chop all the solids.

  • 1/2 cup tahini paste (I use Ethiopian or sprouted Tahini)
  • 3/4 cup water (less for thicker dip)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1, 2, or 3 cloves of garlic - preferably fermented (I use the cloves that are left after we eat all the pickles. Fresh or frozen are fine, but adjust for the potency.)
  • 1/8 of a preserved lemon, seeds removed
  • juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
* If you don't have preserved lemon, use the juice from half a lemon or more to taste and 1/2 tsp salt in place of 3 ingredients above.

Add all ingredients to cup. Blend or mix until tahini turns white and smooth.

  • 1 small bunch of parsley leaves, optional
If using a blender, pulse to chop parsley. You may want to keep a couple leaves for garnish.

Now here's the tough part: Transfer to a closed container without eating it all.

Just checking In

Hi! It's me. For real. I didn’t forget my password or stop cooking.

I will not apologize for being gone so long. Though, I cooked some yummy things that I will probably never remember to try again.

I've been both very busy and rather inhibited by the idea that my “non-recipes” needed to be well tested with carefully measured ingredients and Pinterest-worthy (or Instagram-worthy) photos.

I will not promise to post more often. I will not promise to measure better, though I will try. My pictures may even get worse as I no longer keep a real camera in the kitchen. I do promise to post what I can, photo or not, because it’s better than nothing. And, hey, I started this blog for myself, and I use it!

What have I been up to in the kitchen? Still fermenting, and making lots of things with fermented ingredients, which I look forward to sharing. I grow sprouts. I make soup stock from vegetable scraps. I also look forward to sharing more kitchen tips, menus, and meal-planning strategies. 

If you're still following my blog, I'd love to hear from you! Are there any nonrecipes that you keep going back to?

Oh, and while I was on hiatus, Google has informed me that
"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent. "

So Trigger warning - There may be cookies on my blog. I hope they are delicious!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Pi Day 3.14.15: Classic American Apple Pie

In honor of the most pi pie day for the next hundred years, I'm making pie! I don't cook many things that require measuring. But Saturday is a special day... at least by the American calendar and any other math geeks using the MM-DD-YY format!

For more options on some simpler crumbles, see the original post Thansgiving: Crust and Crumbles.

And, I had my daughter take a video of me creating the lattice work.

Food Processor Crust RECIPE:
Makes 5 single crusts (enough for two double crusts plus 'security'.)

1. Chop together in a food processor:
- 4.5 cups pastry flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1.5 sticks of butter-flavored margarine

Add more flour if necessary to form a slightly crumbly mixture.

2. Mix with fork in a separate bowl or cup:
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 vodka (Inspired by America's test kitchen, made the dough so easy to work with!)

3. Slowly add liquid mixture to food processor,

4. Wrap dough in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for at least half an hour (up to two days, or freeze for longer.)

Here is your NONrecipe filling:

1. Peel, core, and thinly slice 8-15 apples. Enough to fill your pie(s) in a heaping mound. I use a variety of apples - mostly green Granny Smiths, come pink crisps, all crunchy. Start with the green ones. Toss the red ones with a drop of lemon juice.

2. Season to taste: Mix all the sliced apples in a big zip-top bag or bowl with
 - brown sugar
 - cinnamon
 - nutmeg, prefferably fresh ground
 - butter or margarine
 - salt, ginger, allspice, and whatever else you want...
 - a little corn starch or flour depending on the amount of juice generated by the apples

Put it together:

Pre-heat oven to 425 F.

1. Oil and flour your pie pan(s).

2. Roll out 1/4 of the dough, I use a Silpat mat or canvas pastry cloth.

3. Gently transfer to the pan. Cut off excess, but leave about half an inch all the way around.

4. Fill with apple mixture in a big hill.

5. Cover with second crust. If your design does not have holes (like my lattice work demo), make slits for the steam to escape.

6. Bake 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender (stab them with a toothpick.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Improvisational Flour-less Chocolate Cake

Before Pesach I made Brownies, but I overcooked them and forgot to add nuts. They were a bit disappointing.  This week I wanted something chocolaty, but more moist and less traditional. I whipped these up:

LOL: Prunes "without a nucleus"
  • 2 small carrots, peeled
  • 2 red apples, peeled
  • 2 bags (400 grams/ 14 oz.) of pitted plums
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 c oil
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 bags (400 grams) walnuts, chopped
  • fresh ground cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Salt

Bake at 350 F/170 C for about 20 minutes depending on ingredients and thickness.

I encourage you to experiment with leftovers to make your own cakes and brownies. 

Do you have leftover cooked sweet potato, charoset, or applesauce? Over-ripe bananas, peaches, or pears? Throw it in! Add finely ground nuts for body. (Feel free to add baking soda or baking powder.)

I especially love to cook with kids and give them the reins with what and how much to add.
Please comment and tell me about your own baking improvisations.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chewy Chocolate Almond Hazelnut Cookies - Gluten Free

These are the easiest no-fail special Passover dessert and snack. I just can't get enough!

Based on Faye Levy's Almond Macaroons, posted by Miriyummy.

For one batch, I would recommend a minimum food processor capacity of 1 liter or 1 quart.


  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (preferably substitute some regular sugar with vanilla sugar)
  • 1/4-1/2 cocoa powder (depending on your taste)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on your taste)

  1. Grind nuts and half the sugar in a food processor until medium-fine.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend to a fine paste.
  3. Preheat oven to 170 C/350 F.
  4. Line 1-2 pans with parchment paper.
  5. Dampen hands, then form small balls of "dough" and flatten slightly. (I had my kids do this. They were slow, but it kept them busy.)
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes. The cookies should darken, but stay chewy on the inside.
  7. Keep in an air tight container for at least a week.


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