My Mother’s Apple Cake

Apples and honey are common symbols of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Apples are dipped in honey to symbolize wishes for a sweet new year, and both feature prominently in traditional dessert recipes (see honey cake truffles and apple honey cake).

Growing up, my mother made this amazing apple cake every year for Rosh Hashanah. When I moved to Texas, I usually don’t cook meals for Rosh Hashanah, so I started making it for Yom Kippur’s break fast. Apple cakes like this are incredibly common, and so associated with Jews that many recipes are called “Jewish Apple Cake”.

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Overnight Challah French Toast

For the last two years, my friend Karen and I have led a fundraiser for our synagogue’s religious school, making round challot for the High Holy Days. Challot is the plural of challah, that wonderful egg bread similar to brioche, that is traditionally eaten at every Shabbat and holidays. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, and to celebrate it, challot are traditionally round-shaped and often contain dried fruit (usually raisins) to symbolize a sweet new year.

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Loaded Candy Bar Brownies

Everyone has a couple of go-to dessert recipes, things that are easy to whip up and crowd favorites. For many of us in America, this includes chocolate chip cookies (usually the Toll House recipe with or without slight variations; personally I follow the recipe except use only one stick of butter – recipe gets raves and it’s a little healthier) and brownies.

There is a lot of debate when it comes to brownies, mainly between whether melted chocolate or cocoa is better. There are good reasons for both, and many recipes actually call for both to take advantage of those reasons.

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Peach Pecan Bread

Most Saturdays I head for the farmer’s market as soon as I wake up, as a lot of things sell out early. For the last year or so, I also treat myself to a couple of pastries from Black Rooster Bakery – including my favorite croissant, which is a very traditional Parisienne style that I crave. Twice in the last couple of weeks, they didn’t have my croissant, and I opted instead for a peach pecan scone.

Tuesday nights I play mah jongg with a group of women, and sometimes I like to bring dessert. Last week I made this Cannoli Pound Cake. This week, I was trying to decide what to make and I think the scone popped in my head, because as soon as I thought “Peach Pecan Bread” I was filled with a sense of wonder, and excitement.

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What I’m Cooking: Summer Desserts & a Salad

First, a small brag. These peaches are from the two trees I have in my front yard. It’s been a couple of years, and I forgot some cardinal rules, so I lost a fair amount of the crop to critters, but I managed to salvage a nice amount. I was also surprised to learn that the younger (by a year) of the two trees is actually a white peach!

I made three great recipes this week that I had to share with you all. The first is a pie that I haven’t made in years, but one bite reminds me why it’s been on my mind for years.

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Strawberry Loaf Cake


When I first stated baking for the synagogue, I scoured the internet for cookie recipes that would be incredible but relatively inexpensive. I wanted a citrus cookie, but as our Rabbi is allergic to lemon, I looked for an orange cookie. I found this incredible cookie, and I’ve made it numerous times over the last four or five years.

Fast forward to last year, when a request for Sprinkles Cupcakes’ recipe for Strawberry Cupcakes introduced me to that wonderful recipe, and made me want to replicate it in cookie form. I had leftover strawberry puree, and tried adapting the orange cookie recipe, but my couple of different tries didn’t hit the mark and I moved on from that quest. Continue reading “Strawberry Loaf Cake”

Syrup Soaked Orange Semolina Cake

Tray of desserts for a Jerusalem-themed event

Several years ago we had an Israeli-themed dinner at the synagogue, and I was in charge of making the desserts. A couple of weeks ago, we had a Jerusalem-themed event, and I ended up making the same set of desserts again, because I enjoyed them so much.

Another tray of desserts for a Jerusalem-themed event

One of the recipes is these Tahini Cookies from Yotam Ottolenghi, who is amazing. Another are these Kadorei Shokolad (Chocolate Balls), which my Israeli friends agree are wonderful and traditional. I rolled half of the balls in desiccated coconut and the other half in nonpareils; both are wonderful, and they give color and contrast to the cookie trays. I scoop the balls using a #60 cookie scoop [I own two different ones, I’m so addicted to cookie scoops!], a dozen or so at a time. I roll them smooth, coat in the desired coating, then put in the fridge to harden once I’ve finished the batch, otherwise they’ll be a little too soft.  Continue reading “Syrup Soaked Orange Semolina Cake”

Vegetarian Cassoulet

Like many meat-based dishes, cassoulet (a traditional French stew containing meat and beans) never entered my head, until I saw Gourmet’s Vegetarian Cassoulet recipe in 2008. It caught my eye in part because it used a lot of celery, and I often have half a head that languishes around. I made it several times within the next couple of years, and enjoyed it, but it never became a regular dish for me, and I forgot all about it.

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Leftover Spaghetti Casserole

Growing up, my parents taught us not to waste food, as much or more by example than by words. We froze the surplus from the garden to use during the year, composted vegetable scraps, frequently ate leftovers, and my mom often planned meals around bits and pieces that needed to be used up.

I am not as accomplished as this, and frequently find bits of food falling by the wayside. It frustrates me, though, and I try to move closer and closer to being very low waste. Continue reading “Leftover Spaghetti Casserole”

Raspberry Swirled Heart Cookies

I found these cookies in 2012, when I was looking for Valentine’s-themed recipes for a work bake sale. They were so simple, and yet had amazing flavor, I was seriously impressed.

It took me a couple of tries to successfully tweak it, but I also started making them at my shul and they became a favorite there, too. Since 2012, I make them faithfully every year for our work bake sale (in addition to other treats) and also make them during the year at the synagogue. Continue reading “Raspberry Swirled Heart Cookies”