Rossel making workshop

poster rossel email

This process will results in two products; rossel, fermented soured beet juice and the fermented beet pieces. Both are used to make Pesach borscht.



Food, food and food

Attended a very nice Parent’s shmooze session last Sunday organized by Rabbi Brody. We were challenged to think about our favorite Jewish traditions and for most people, of course there is some type of food involved! There was lots of food for thought in the interesting conversation that followed, although I sometimes wonder if we use food as ritual rather than as one component of ritual. For instance making and eating a challah bread alone is not a Jewish act. It is the baking challah including taking challah and eating the challah as part of making kiddush or hamoetzi that makes the activity Jewish (as oppose to Jewish-style I guess).

Check out the The Kosher Cooking Carnival – a monthly blog carnival about kosher food, kosher cooking, anything to do with kosher food. My original Etrog jam recipe “Etrog Marmalade with Myrtle Leaf Infusion” is included this month. Interestingly, the Etrog marmalade recipe is the most popular post on this site (by far).

Etrog jam jar

Here is another recipe, a rustic homemade pita bread with an international flair. The flour is locally sourced, the pitas were drizzled with Californian olive oil and a sprinkle of Palestinian za’atar.


  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Let the dough rise for a minimum of 30 min.
  3. Roll into balls and flatten into round shape (not too thin, not too fat).
  4. Let the dough rest and rise another 20 min.
  5. Heat up a frying pan (no oil!). Place 1 pita at a time into pan. Cover (I used a pan lid) and cook for 2-3 min on each side. When turning for the second side, flatten with a spatula for even cooking. The way the pocket just puffs open is pretty magic.

pita breadUPDATE: Hope to see you at the next parent shmooze. Please mark your calendars for Jan 11th 2015!


Simple Summer Borscht

summer borscht


  • Cooked beetroots (2-4, depending on size)
  • Couple sticks of celery
  • Goat yogurt (1 cup, can adjust to taste)
  • Balsamic vinegar (about a couple of tablespoons)
  • Dash of olive oil (about one tablespoon)
  • salt
  • Water (or ice cubes for a really cold borscht)

Everything goes into the liquidizer. Blend vigorously. Adjust salt to taste, maybe spritz in a grind of black pepper. Drink.

If everything is chilled before liquidizing it’s like a slushie and can seriously reduce one’s core temperature!

I used to laboriously peel beets prior to cooking before I learned that the secret to cooked beets is to leave the skins on. This takes about 12 mins in the pressure cooker after which the skins just slip off easily.

Alternatively, precooked beets are available in the supermarket which makes the whole recipe a lot faster.

precooked beets

On hot days my Grandma z’l used to make great schave. I always got a kick out of slurping the mushy dark bits although I was always having to fend her off trying to get me to put a potato or a boiled egg in it. I think I was the only one in the family who liked the taste of this soup, so it always felt special when she would bring it out of the fridge. I have no idea where she got the sorrel from and have never seen sorrel in the US.

I need a new standby

This is my standby cheesecake.

It is the classic American cheesecake adapted from the recipe on the back of the box when you buy 6 Philadelphia cream cheese packets at once.

But seriously, take a look at the ingredients:

cheesecake ingredients

This recipe uses a whopping 5 packets of Philadelphia cream cheese alone, in addition to all the other high indulgence ingredients. It’s like the recipe was sponsored by the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor industry!

I made the traditional cheesecake with the graham cracker crust and a pear vanilla flavoring.

I also created another cake with lemon and golden raisins and no crust for a gluten free version as requested by some guests. What was very apparent was the way the ultra-high fat content of the cake mixture dwarfed the flavoring note. To accentuate the lemon taste I ended up using fresh lemon juice, lemon zest AND a large glug of lemon extract.

lemon extract

Here’s a picture of the cake right out of the oven. Not very photogenic but will be covered up with some sliced apricots and will look as delicious as it will taste.

cheesecake with sultanas

But I think for next year I need a new standby. I am all ears for lighter cheesecake recipe suggestions. Please send them my way.




Post-modern Gefilte fish (or Gefilte fish in 30 mins)

Yes, you can indeed make delicious gefilte fish in 30 mins.

Yes, there are some shortcuts.

No, this is not your classical gefilte fish, more like the traditional gefilte fish recipe deconstructed.


Gary is famous for his gefilte fish, so notable that my relatives presented his willingness to grind raw fish as exhibit A; proof that he would be an excellent husband. In fact it was not until I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Yoskowitz, the proprietor of the Gefilteria before I was aware of another man who was so passionate about gefilte fish.

But the making of authentic gefilte fish is a laborious process. First off, the designated fish, carp etc has to be special ordered (I remember when I realized that gefilte didn’t refer to a fish species!), the fish heads and bones have to be boiled to make the jellied stock, one has to be fastidious about picking out all the small bones, assembling the special contraption for grinding the fish and so forth.

With all the demands on our time, it is no surprise that making gefilte fish hasn’t happened too frequently. And yet, perish the thought that we would eat the type that comes in jars. So it was that one day I started thinking about how gefilte fish became such a classic and the rationale for using carp. My understanding is that the recipe is generally thought to be the result of enterprising Jewish women developing a Shabbat-friendly dish with a readily available local ingredient; aquaculture being in wide practice in Eastern Europe. I remember my grandpa telling me about how his mother complained at coming to the industrial Britain in the years before his birth in 1905 and how much she missed the farm life in Russia with her beautiful pond.

Today, the most widely available fish is farmed salmon. To stay true to the spirit of gefilte fish in the sense of a dish made with the cheapest available fish I decided to use salmon. I also incorporated a milder white fleshed fish which is traditional for gefilte fish. This was branzini, which happened to be available at Wegmans and they will fillet the fish for you (see my previous post regarding availability of kosher fish in Ithaca).

The features that make this recipe so quick are first the starting point of using fish fillets (no deboning), second using the food processor (makes quick work of chopping), and third eliminating the jellied stock (believe me, you won’t taste a difference). Let’s get to the recipe.

gefilte fish ingredients

Once the ingredients are assembled and the greens washed, the recipe goes super quick.

  1. Before starting prepare a large mixing bowl and a pan of salted boiling water.
  2. Process the dill, onion, green onions, parsley in the food processor until finely chopped. Keep an eye on this, just a few pulses should be sufficient, you don’t want the mixture to turn to paste. Remove from the food processor into the large mixing bowl and combine with the eggs.
  3. Process fish fillets in the food processor. Careful to not over process, you are looking for a minced texture, not mush. I did this in two batches.
  4. Mix the minced fish with the remaining ingredients. Make rounded balls with about one heaped tablespoon of the mixture and drop into the boiling water. Boil for 10-12 mins. The gefilte fish balls increase ~25% in volume during cooking, make sure your pan can accommodate this expansion.

Useful note: This recipe makes a large quantity and these gefilte fish freeze well.

fish dish

For the optimum gefilte fish experience, you cannot beat the authentic accompaniment and I highly recommend home-made chraine. I will go through this recipe in another post but there are no short-cuts to its production, home-made chraine takes longer to prepare than the gefilte fish. But it’s definitely worth it. In the meantime, בתיאבון!

the Pesach on-ramp

New recipe!!!! “English” Charoset

  • ~10 dates
  • equivalent volume raisins
  • a few dried Bing cherries
  • 1 apple peeled and finely chopped
  • handful of almonds

Cook all ingredients except almonds with a little water until the apples are soft, Grind almonds in food processor, add cooked ingredients and pulse until mixture reaches desired texture.

I’m calling this “English” Charoset as this is inspired by a very famous English recipe that I happen to adore. I’m not to going to mention the name of this recipe publicly because it is not the type of recipe that one would normally use for Jewish cuisine inspiration. Those of you who know me well will will know what this is, and anybody who really needs to know the answer should message me and I will fill you in.

Even the pet rats are getting into the swing of things, enjoying their chometz-free environment and getting used to egg matzo.


Binky pesach copy