Ashkenazic Cheese Pancakes

During the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, I spent a trimester each year teaching cooking to the high schoolers in my synagogue’s religious school. I was so thrilled to be asked, and really enjoyed teaching them basic and advanced skills as we cooked our way through different dishes.

Our first year for Chanukah, we cooked sufganiyot, and last year we made five different latkes and other fried foods from various backgrounds. There are many resources, both internet and in print, for many, many traditional Chanukah dishes and some modern twists on traditional favorites. One of the latkes we made was this apple latke from Smitten Kitchen, which was definitely a favorite.

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Potato Latkes, the Slightly Cheater Method

There are almost as many different ways to make a potato latke as there are people to eat them. Some of it goes back to what you ate growing up, or a new method you’ve found, or any one of a number of variables.

However, at the core is a very simple formula – grated potatoes, onion, egg, some kind of starch, salt and pepper.

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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”