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”

What I’m Cooking: Valentine’s Day

My love of Valentine’s Day goes easily back to elementary school days. I remember making containers to hold candy for my family, and sneaking them into their rooms at night. The first year, my friend and I were taking sewing classes, and I remember sewing a heart-shaped pillow with a pocket for candy on it. One year, I took sponges and cut small heart shapes out of them, and sponged pink and red hearts on plain white paper. I cut the paper into strips and wove baskets out of them.

It’s been many years since I’ve been that creative, but I still really enjoy baking for my friends and family. And for the last four or five years, the employees club at work (of which I’m on the board) has done a Valentine’s-themed bake sale.

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Whole Orange Cake

Sometimes you spy a recipe somewhere, decide you have to make it, and it becomes a favorite. Other times, you have an idea for a bake, and go searching until you find a recipe that meets your idea. This is one of those times.

While pondering what desserts to bring to my friend’s new years party, I somehow got the idea of making a whole clementine cake. I suppose it may have been influenced by Mary Berry’s recipe for a Whole Orange Cake (I’m on a major Great British Bake Off obsession right now), although I definitely wasn’t thinking directly about it. The first recipe I found was Nigella’s Clementine Cake recipe, which looked wonderful, except it used ground almonds and my friend has a nut allergy.

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Apple Honey Cake

For many of us, holidays are a combination of dishes that must be made, new dishes to try, and the sad fact that each person can only eat so much. Every year for Rosh Hashanah, my mother makes a fabulous apple cake. When I moved down here to Texas, I started making it for break-the-fast (the meal following the 25 hour fast during Yom Kippur, which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah) instead, because my friends and I weren’t cooking dinner during Rosh Hashanah. Continue reading “Apple Honey Cake”

Triple Pomegranate Challah

A slice of pomegranate challah

My friend Molly is always making wonderful challah variations, which besides making my mouth water, also really make me regret how far away I live! Normally I don’t do anything untraditional with my challot, for a couple of reasons. I don’t really make challah during the year, because it’s just me alone, and I go out to eat on Friday night after services. So I only make challah for High Holidays, and I make a somewhat traditional fruited challah (next time try half raisins and half chopped apricots, it’s awesome) and I’m done for the year.

Proofing yeast in pomegranate juice Continue reading “Triple Pomegranate Challah”