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Cookies and Kickstarter

13 Mar

I’m embarrassed to see how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything. Last time I posted,  I said something about how I was going to start to (slowly) work on some new cookbooks. I did actually keep that promise,  but then my world turned topsy-turvy.

Not long after I posted,  a family looking for a new location for their business came to look at Desserts Plus and quickly made us an offer on our building. We accepted for many reasons, and starting looking for a new space. We had no idea how long it would take us.

Since moving our of our building 13 (!) months ago,  we’ve had a pop-up store for Passover,  rented a kitchen to cater a few major events and even had a booth at a farmer’s market for part of the simmer.

All along we worked on finding our space,  which we did last summer. Several delays kept construction from starting until early this year (you can see a lot of our updates on our Instagram account).

In fact,  we even have a  kickstarter campaign going to try to get the final push we need to finish our space.

(You can read more about our campaign on our Facebook page, instagram or kickstarter.)

Meanwhile,  while all of that was going on,  I was slowly working on my next cookbook.

Last month I published Pam’s Cookie Collection:

This is smaller than my other books with just 40-something recipes, but I’m proud of this one!  It’s got lots of recipes that I’ve been baking at Desserts Plus over the years, along with lots of others that I created in my home kitchen.

You can get copies here:

Createspace
amazon. com
amazon. ca
And here’s a wonderful write-up by the equally wonderful Norene Gilletz in the CJN.

If you don’t have any of my books but you’ve wanted them,  now is a good time to get them!  For the next week one of the rewards for our kickstarter campaign is a cookbook collection.  You can get one copy of each of my three books – signed if you like! (It’s listed twice – once if you’re able to pick them up at our new café and once if you need them shipped throughout North America.)

I’ll try not to be such a stranger!  Thanks for stopping by and reading.

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Get it done. .

26 Aug

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My first cookbook came out in 2004. Since then I’ve written one more (Passover)  plus some new recipes for the second addition of Soup-A Kosher Collection.  But in in addition to the books, I’ve developed lots and lots of recipes for newspapers, magazines, my blog and recipes that haven’t been published anywhere but I use all the time at home or at work (Desserts Plus ).

I’ve been talking about the next cookbook for ages,  but life keeps delaying things.  So the other day I  decided that enough was enough. It’s time to just get it done.  I opened the program where I store most of my recipes and printed them off, organized and categorized them.

It’s going to take time to get even one done, but I have a lot of great recipes to work from for a number of books.

Between working 10+ hours a day,  the holidays fast approaching and trying to sell my condo and hopefully move,  there isn’t a lot of extra time to work on recipes,  but just know that I am.

So many people have asked me when the next book will be available.  I don’t know for sure, but I do know that I’m committing to squeezing out time to test and test and test and get the next one out there. And then the next! 

Sneak Peek: Tahini Cookies

13 Jan

The cookie cookbook is rolling along and I hope to be done soon, so I thought it was time to share a new recipe — a sneak peek, so to speak.

I love sesame seeds, sesame paste (tahini) and sesame oil — basically any form of sesame works for me, but usually in a savory dish.  When I was brainstorming ideas for the cookie book, tahini made it to the notepad, though I’ve never baked or even tasted a cookie made with it.  I was trying to decide which other flavours I would use with the sesame — maybe cardamom or Chinese five spice? — but  I decided the first thing I should do was try baking a cookie that didn’t introduce more flavours and then go from there.  When I first tasted these, I was so happy with the results that I decided they didn’t need anything else.

If you like sesame, these cookies are for you. They’re deceptively simple to make, but the double dose of flavour from the tahini and the sesame seeds is delicious. They’re light, yet rich — perfect with a cup of tea.

Once baked, these cookies are delicate, so handle with care. They freeze beautifully in an air-tight container. Keep them parve by substituting a good quality non-dairy margarine for the butter.

sesame cookies

6 ounces butter — softened (3/4 cup)
1 cup tahini — well stirred
4 ounces powdered sugar — (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces flour — (2 cups)
1 cup sesame seeds, for rolling

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter, tahini and powdered sugar together in a stand mixer until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla and mix through.

Scrape the sides of the bowl down, add the flour and mix on low until it’s thoroughly mixed in and forms a dough.

I use a 1 ounce (2 Tbsp.) scoop to portion the dough, then roll them into balls. Roll the balls in the sesame seeds then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the balls down until they are approximately 1/2″ thick. Leave an inch between cookies because they will puff up a little as they bake.

Bake one pan of cookies at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Turn the pan and bake another 10 minutes or until the bottom and edges have lightly browned.

Makes 24-30 cookies.

Passover Post — No Time to Post

8 Mar

I started off the year well, posting more times in one week than I did in all of 2012. I did well into February until I got buried under Passover prep and all of the sudden I had no time to do anything.  I have a notebook full of recipes just waiting to be typed up and pictures on my phone ready to upload, but they’ll have to wait until after Passover before they get turned into posts. I thought I’d be able to post some great new recipes for Passover, but time got away from me (though there’s still a chance of some posts during the holiday).  Instead, I’ve done a little search online to find my Passover footprints and round them up into a single post here.  Some of the links are recipes on my blog or other websites, some are links to my business and my books and a few of them are links to eGullet.org, where I spent 3 Passovers blogging for the members there during Passover (I look back on those foodblogs now and can’t figure out how I got them done).

These are recipes on my blog:

The three eGullet Passover foodblogs I did over the years:

My family business: So, the reason I’m so busy now is that along with my parents, I own a kosher food store (the only independent kosher food store in the city) and catering company.  Passover is our busiest time of the year, no question.  We turn our store over completely for Passover,  removing all items that are not kosher for Passover from the shelves, freezers and coolers and bringing in well over 1,000 kosher for Passover items (plus beef, lamb, veal, poultry and deli). Starting last week, we’ve been getting truckloads of products delivered almost daily, starting with an initial order that weighed in at 11,600 lbs.  You can take a look at what we sell on our Facebook page, where we posted this album/tour.

On the side, I write cookbooks.  So far, two.  The second book is Passover –  A Kosher Collection. For the three weeks leading up to Passover, my days are spent (among other things) answering questions from my customers.  Younger customers are looking for help with traditional recipes, older customers are looking for new ideas and vice versa.  I realized that there was a need for a new Passover cookbook and went to work on it.  In the US and Canada, you can by it in various Judaica stores, and it’s available on Amazon.com in hard copy or for the Kindle/eReader.  You can also order them from my website, and I’ll ship them anywhere! Around the web – my Passover friendly recipes/articles from other sites:

To all those preparing for Pesach, I hope it’s an easy year for you and hopefully I’ll be back during the holiday with more recipes.  Chag sameach!

(inter)National Soup Month

7 Jan

According to daysoftheyear.com, January is National Soup Month. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this makes sense — for those of us in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, January can be a bitterly cold month and a warm bowl of soup can warm you from the inside out.

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(c) Pam Reiss

Now, I personally don’t believe you need to have a month out of the year set aside to enjoy soup. I’m an advocate of cooking soup throughout the year — there are so many different types of soups you can make that trying to cram them all into one month is impossible.  Not only that, but different growing seasons mean that some ingredients just aren’t available in January and you need to take advantage in the spring or summer of what’s readily available.

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(c) Pam Reiss

But just because I don’t like to limit soups to one month, it doesn’t mean I can’t get behind supporting and encouraging Soup Month.  I think everybody should make soup all the time.  Meat soups, dairy soups, parve soups, hot soups and cold soups.  Broths, chunky soups, chowders, pureed soups, thin soups and thick soups.  There are so many options.

This weekend I made a big pot of chicken soup.  I admit, it’s the soup I make more than any other.  First, I like to have some in the freezer to use in other recipes or just to pull out when I need a bowl of Jewish Penicillin.  But it’s more than that.  I have a strong connection to chicken soup.  It’s in my bones.  With a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove top I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen. The aromas coming from my pot of soup are the exact aromas that greeted me at the door every Friday night when I arrived at her house for our weekly Shabbat dinner.

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(c) Pam Reiss

It’s been many years since my grandmother was around to make a pot of chicken soup, but the memories have grown to include my own mother’s pot of simmering soup and the vats and vats of chicken soup we make at work. And having moved into a new home myself in the last year, one of the first things I did was make a huge pot of chicken soup (and meat kreplach), creating the same memory in my own kitchen that I have from my grandmother and mother’s kitchens.

I have recipes for Chicken Soup in both my cookbooks, and they’re great for learning how to make it, but once you’ve been making it for years, you can do it by sight, smell and taste.

No Quantities Chicken Soup Recipe (check cookbooks for quantities)

  • place lots and lots of chicken bones, wings and necks into a large pot, filling your pot 2/3s with chicken parts
  • cover with cold water, and place the pot over high heat
  • bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises to the top
  • as soon as it’s simmering, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim the top until there is no more scum
  • add yellow onions (peeled, but left whole), carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks), parsnips (peeled and cut into large chunks), celery (cut into large chunks) and simmer, skimming until all of the scum is removed
  • simmer another hour
  • add fresh dill, and simmer another 30 minutes
  • taste
  • if it’s too watery, simmer longer, letting the liquid reduce, if it’s rich enough, season with salt to taste
  • use tongs to remove any large pieces of vegetable and chicken and discard (we’re not using chicken with much meat on the bones, just bones, necks and wings, so there isn’t much worth keeping)
  • use a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth into clean bowls or pots
  • to chill the soup quickly, the night before I make chicken soup, I fill a few small freezer bags 2/3s with water, expel any extra air, close and freeze – once the soup has been strained, carefully place the frozen bags of ice in the broth and leave for 5-10 minutes  – the soup should be cool and ready for the fridge (remove the bags before refrigerating)
  • leave the soup in the fridge for a couple of hours, then carefully remove any fat from the top of the soup with a spoon
  • reheat when ready to eat or freeze for later use

To purchase the 2nd edition of Soup a Kosher Collection (with new recipes), follow these links:

In the USA: amazon.com

In Canada: amazon.ca

Shana tova! This year is off to a great start.

3 Oct

Shana tova! Happy new year!

It’s funny how things work out.  11 months ago (oy!) I posted  about my plans to move (soon!) and start working on my next cookbook.  I’m still not officially in my new home, but I have basically moved in and will be able to start work on the new book after this month of holidays.  But I don’t want you to think I haven’t done anything over the last year.

Instead of starting a new book, I was lucky enough to have to do some new work on my old book.  Confusing, right?  What happened was the Canadian publisher was out of Soup – A Kosher Collection and it was getting hard to get copies from the American publisher, so thankfully, Whitecap decided it was time to publish the 2nd edition of Soup.  With the decision to publish a new edition I was given the opportunity to include more recipes and the talented people at Whitecap produced some beautiful new photos as well.

In Canada you can start looking for copies in local bookstores, or click here to pre-order from Amazon.ca or here to check the status at Chapters/Indigo.

In the US, you can pre-order from Amazon.com here.

And the first review is in — click here to read it.

We’re only in the first week of 5772  and we’re off to a good start. May the rest of the year be a healthy, happy, sweet and prosperous one for everybody!

A Fresh Passover

10 Apr

I often hear people complain about heavy foods at Passover.  It’s true – with menus that include chopped liver, brisket and kugels it can weigh you down.  And while I like to serve traditional foods during the holidays, there are a lot more options that people don’t associate with Passover menus.

For meals that include these heavier dishes, I always make sure to include a fresh, crisp salad and fresh fruit for desserts.  I also make sure that the week has plenty of lighter meals – a fritatta with salad or maybe my favorite Mediterranean Black Cod served with steamed vegetables.

For a lighter, fresh Passover, here are a couple of my favorite salad recipes (from my cookbook Passover – A Kosher Collection).

Watermelon & Feta Salad

This is one of my favorite salads.  For a different version, replace the mint with basil and the lime juice with balsamic vinegar.

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL olive oil

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

6 cups | 1.4 L watermelon, seedless, cit into 1-inch | 2.5-cm cubes

4 oz. | 115 g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh mint, finely sliced

3 oz. | 85 g red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (1/2 small)

Mix the lime juice, olive oil and black pepper together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix together.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Can be made several hours in advance.  If you do make it ahead. pour off any excess liquid and taste, checking for seasoning before serving.

Jicima Slaw

This is a great alternative to classic coleslaw.  It’s crisp, light and flavourful.

1 1/2 lbs. | 680 g jicima, peeled and julienned (1 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g carrots, peeled and shredded (2 small)

3 oz. | 85 g yellow pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

3 oz. | 85 g orange pepper, cored, seeded and cut into a thin julienne (1/2 medium)

1 oz. | 28 g green onions, thinly sliced (2 large)

3 oz. | 85 g white onion, peeled and sliced paper thin (1/2 small)

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lime juice

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL grapeseed oil (or light olive oil)

1 tsp. | 5 mL salt

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL honey

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL black pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss together.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend together.

Can be made 4-6 hours before serving.

It’s all about the Charoset

5 Apr

With Passover less than two weeks away, it’s time to make some serious decisions.  The most important decision, in my opinion, is what kind of charoset to make.  I love charoset.  I like that charoset being passed around the table means dinner is about to start.  I love that charoset is symbolic — it’s there to remind us of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves in Egypt to build cities.  And I really love charoset because it’s delicious.

When I was growing up, charoset was always a mixture of shredded apples, cinnamon, honey, chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans) and some sweet red wine.  Nobody in my family used a precise recipe — we just added what looked right and kept tasting and adjusting until it was perfect.

Eventually I started experimenting and came up with some different flavour combinations that I really liked.  Now I have a few charoset recipes that I love.  Here’s my recipe for date charoset.  I like it so much I make a double batch to use it on matzo throughout the week (great for breakfast!).

Date Charoset

2 oz. | 55 g walnuts (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

8 oz. | 225 g pitted dates (1 cup | 235 mL)

3 oz. | 85 g golden raisins (1/2 cup | 120 mL)

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL dried ginger

1/2 tsp. | 2 mL cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

3 Tbsp. | 45 mL sweet red wine

2 Tbsp. | 30 mL fresh orange juice

1/4 tsp. | 1 mL orange zest

Toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 350 F | 175 C.  Spread the nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 8-9 minuets, or until golden brown.  Cool.

Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the charoset reaches a texture you like.  I like to pulse it until it is mostly paste, with some small chunks remaining.  If you like it chunkier, stop pulsing before it gets too smooth.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 1/2 cups | 355 mL

* Adapted from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection

Books Now Available At www.pamelareiss.com

27 Jan

It’s been an interesting week and a half.  Last week I sent over 40 review books out to media — we’ll see if anything comes from that.  The books have been selling out of the store and I’ve received interest from other stores/distributors in the US and Canada.  It’s very exciting to see them going out.  Today the first wholesale order was shipped out and I’m expecting some more wholesale orders from other cities to come in.

In other news, it looks like I’ll be having an official book launch in a few weeks at a great independent book store in Winnipeg. It’s the same store where I launched my first book five years ago and it’ll be nice to have the second one there.  I’ll post more information when dates and times are confirmed.

Finally, we’ve now got an updated website up at www.pamelareiss.com.  If you click on the “books” link at the top-right, we’re set up to accept book orders.  Shipping in Canada and the USA is free and to other countries it’s $10 for one or two books, $15 for three or four books.   If you need a quote for wholesale pricing, please get in touch.

Thanks to all of those who have already picked up a copy (or multiple copies) and for all of the great feedback!

The books are here!

18 Jan

I spent last night tossing and turning. The books were due to arrive today and I was anxious. I was scared to see the books.  It was a completely irrational fear because I knew about all the work that went into them.  Months of recipe testing and writing was followed by edit after edit. When that was done, it was time for proofing, a little more editing and then more proofing.

First thing this morning, we cleared out a hallway at work. Chairs and tables leftover from our restaurant days usually reside here, but they had to make way for the books! And then they arrived.  And I’m so happy with them.


Again, my irrational fear was that they wouldn’t look like real books. I can’t really explain this, because it makes no sense, but this is my first attempt at self-publishing and I was scared they wouldn’t look as good as Soup.  They look great! I’m thrilled with how they turned out.

So that’s 254 boxes of books, to the left.  It’s a whole lotta books. Good news is they all fit in the hall. I was concerned we’d have to fill the storage rooms and that we’d have rows of boxes stacked in the store aisles.  At the moment it’s not a problem, but we have to start moving some out soon.  As we approach Passover, we turn the entire store over and sell only Passover foods — and we need every inch of space we can get.

We sold 3 books out of the store this afternoon and I have orders that need to be shipped out tomorrow.
I also have to start packaging up the press kits and sending them out.  We’re on our way — just another 5990-odd books to go!

If you’re in Winnipeg, books are available at the store (Desserts Plus) for now, with more stores to follow.  They’re also available at amazon.com. We hope to have www.pamelareiss.com set up for book orders by the end of the week.