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:
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.
The High Holidays are fast approaching and it seems everybody I know is in menu-planning mode. A good cheese kugel is great for lunch during Rosh Hashana or for breaking the fast on Yom Kippur.
I know a lot of recipes call for some sugar, but I prefer to leave it out of cheese kugels — leave it for the apple or other fruit versions. I like my cheese kugel to have a little tang and will either add sour cream, or in this case, buttermilk to the recipe. The topping is optional, and it is delicious without it, but perhaps just a little more delicious with it.
Serve with extra sour cream on the side or if you must have a little sweetness, some sliced strawberries in syrup.
Buttermilk Cheese Kugel
375 grams egg noodles — wide
5 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter
375 grams dry curd cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cook the noodles following the instructions on the package. Drain well and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, salt and cottage cheese. Pour this mixture onto the noodles and stir to thoroughly mix.
Lightly butter a 2 quart (liter) casserole and pour the noodle mixture into the pan.
If you choose to add the optional topping, mix all of the topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture on top of the noodles.
Bake the kugel in a preheated 375º oven for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the kugel has set.
Cranberry sauce is one of those things that is really, really easy to make, but i think a lot of people forgo making it and opt for opening a can instead. If you have access to fresh cranberries (or frozen, depending on the season) don’t question it — make a batch yourself and see how easy and delicious it is.
I always make it with orange or mandarin juice because I like the flavor combo. You can use water if you prefer. I also like the addition of some ground, dry ginger. I’ve tried it with fresh ginger, but it was too strong for my taste. You can omit the ginger altogether, or substitute cinnamon, clove, nutmeg or allspice. And if you’d like even more of a citrus kick, add some zest,
- 3 cups (or one 12 oz. package) fresh cranberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh orange or mandarin (or tangerine or . .) juice
- 1/2 tsp. dry ginger
Wash and pick through the cranberries. Add everything to the pot and place over medium-high heat. Once the liquid comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberries have all popped and the sauce has thickened. Pour into a dish to cool. Can be served warm or cover and keep refrigerated for up to one week.
Makes 2 cups.
I’m going to be honest with you. I love my homemade granola so much that I think I had it for breakfast every day for about six months (with some Greek yogurt and fresh berries) until I finally got sick of it and (thought I) never wanted to see it again. Then, after going on a granola fast for a few months, I woke up one day and realized that I really missed it.
Here’s what I love about it: it’s filling and delicious and flexible. I’m sharing a recipe with you (below), but just take it as a guide. Add or replace nuts, spices, grains or anything else you like. Just stick with the basics — start with oats, add nuts and or coconut, spices, grains, some fat and a sweetener. You can add dried fruit, but don’t add it at the beginning. Stir it in for the last 10 minutes of baking. And make big batches — in a freezer bag or container this stuff can hang out in the freezer for a couple of months.
- 5 cups large flake oats
- 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- 2 cups slivered, blanched almonds
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. allspice
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
Preheat your oven to 325°.
In a large mixing bowl, use a spoon to mix the oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
Add the oil, vanilla and corn syrup and mix until everything is well incorporated.
Spread the mixture out on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Switch the position of the trays around, then bake another 20 minutes and stir. Switch the trays around one more time and bake another 20 minutes or until golden brown (if you’re adding dried fruit, add it after 50 minutes or total baking time — then bake another 10 minutes or until done).
Let cool completely and package in freezer bags or an air-tight container. Can stay on your counter for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.
My favorite way to have this is with some Greek yogurt and lots of fresh, ripe berries.
I love Tortilla Soup and make many different yet similar versions of it. What’s so great about Tortilla Soup (in my mind, at least) is that it’s a bowl of hot, slightly spicy (how spicy is up to you), filling soup that’s just what I want on a cold winter day, yet the flavours take me to southern California and I can pretend I’m sitting in the sun rather than shivering in the ice and snow.
The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a new obsession for me, but if you can’t get them, don’t want to use them because they’re too spicy or don’t like them, simply leave them out and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder. If you have it, add 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika as well.
The fresh, cool avocado that I add when serving the soup is something new for me. The last couple of times I’ve made this soup I’ve added the avocado and love it. The creamy, cool avocado is a great addition to the spicy, tart soup flavours.
- 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium orange pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 4 tomatillos, paper removed, cored and chopped
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced 1/2″
- 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, chopped
- tortilla chips
- lime wedges
- extra cilantro
Over medium heat, saute the onion and orange pepper in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, black pepper and the tomatillo and cook another minute.
Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce and stir through. Add the stock and tomato juice, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the chicken and beans and cook for 2 minutes, then add the corn. Cook another 8-10 minutes, or until the soup just comes back to the simmer, the corn is hot and the chicken has cooked through.
Add the lime juice and cilantro, stir through and taste, checking the seasoning and adjusting if necessary.
Top each bowl with diced avocado and serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges and chopped cilantro on the side.
I’ve always liked cauliflower — even when I was really young, I always liked the vegetables that most kids don’t. I’m quite happy with simply steamed cauliflower, but I’ll take it in a soup, with sauces, in a stir-fry, a quiche or many other recipes. But just like my crispy smashed potatoes, one of my absolutely favorites ways to prepare cauliflower is to simply roast it. (It also happens to be great for Passover.)
Just like those crispy smashed potatoes, the ingredient list is small — only four items:
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
- 1 large cauliflower, washed well and broken down into small florets
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Mix the olive oil, garlic and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower and mix until the oil, salt and garlic are evenly distributed. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Roast for 20 minutes, then toss and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the edges golden brown. Serve immediately.
** Any leftovers are great chopped up and added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Every year we turn our kosher food store into a Passover kosher food store. For over a month, from Purim through Pesach, my days are all about Passover. We pack away all of the chometz and get tonnes and tonnes (literally) of kosher for Passover food – it takes us days to get everything unpacked and on the shelves. We even rent a 40 foot train container and park it in our parking lot for extra storage.
As soon as that first items hit the shelves (or even before that) our days are filled with customer questions – about the products we sell, about the foods we cook and about recipes and menu ideas. Some people love cooking for Passover — they love pulling out the recipes that are traditional in there family and/or experimenting with new recipes and ideas. Others . . . well, others feel differently. They fear Passover and loathe matzo. I also hear a lot of complaints about how heavy the food is. But it doesn’t have to be.
I am firmly in the camp that likes Passover food. Really. I actually like matzo. I hear people say they think it tastes like cardboard all the time. I have no problem with a piece of matzo with butter and some fruit for breakfast. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. Seder meals that include soups, starters, at least two meats, several sides, and dessert can weigh you down, but those meals don’t have to, and the rest of the week can certainly focus on other, lighter things.
One of my favourite treats, something that’s good all year round but I tend to cook rarely outside of Passover is cheese blintzes. The delicate wrapper (bletlach) filled with creamy cheese and served with strawberries and a crisp salad make a great dinner — one that I enjoyed tonight. They were so delicious I was questioning my decision to keep them as a Passover treat — but maybe that’s part of what makes them so special.
Blintz Wrappers / Bletlach (based on a recipe from my book, Passover – A Kosher Collection)
It may take a few tries to get the hang of making these, but once you do, they’re easy to make. Fill them with cheese, fruit, potatoes or meat.
4 large eggs
1/2 cup cool water
5 Tbsp. potato starch
1/4 tsp. salt
oil for the skillet
Whisk the eggs, water, potato starch and salt together in a large measuring cup and let it rest for a few minutes. Whisk again, making sure you get rid of any potato starch lumps. Heat an 8″ non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with oil — I like grape seed. Whisk the batter again and pour some into the pan — swirl the pan immediately so that the batter forms a thin layer and pour any excess batter back into the measuring cup.
Cook until the blettle (single bletlach) starts to bubble a little, the top is dry to the touch, the bottom just starts to brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Loosen the edges and turn the blettle out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Continue with the rest of the batter, whisking before each blettle and brushing with oil after every 2 or 3 bletlach — you should get 12-15 bletlach from one batch. Separate the layers of bletlach with parchment paper.
2 lbs. 1% pressed cottage cheese (or paper or baker’s cheese)
4 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon until everything is thoroughly incorporated.
Assemble the blintzes by placing one wrapper on your work surface with the cooked-side up.
Place approximately 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture along the bottom edge of the wrapper and roll it up from the bottom so that the filling is covered with the blettle. Fold the left and right sides in so that both ends are closed then continue to roll up from the bottom, using the whole blettle. Continue with the rest of the bletlach and filling.
You can refrigerate or freeze them at this point or heat some butter in a skillet and brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Serve on their own or with strawberries and sour cream.
These strawberries are great with the blintzes or use to top your matzo brei for breakfast.
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. potato starch
2 tsp. cool water
Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a pot over medium heat and cook until the strawberries have release some juice and the liquid comes to a simmer — this should take about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the potato starch and water together. Add to the pot and stir through. Cook another minute, or until the juices have thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Serve hot of chill and serve cold.