Monthly Archives: September 2012

Parsley-Serrano Pesto

One of the things we picked up at the farmers market in San Diego was a parsley-chili pesto from Hani’s Market (a local San Diego company).  This was a wonderful thing, I found myself finding excuses to eat it all day long.  I would put it on pita bread points, on crackers with cheese, on salads with feta, you name it, I (and Heather and Ken) put it on it!

Since it was a refrigerated item, I could not bring it home, so I decided to try to re-create it, or something similarly yummy.  It is not quite exactly the same, but pretty darn close and equally tasty and addictive!

I started with some parsley from my garden.

I decided to start with 2 cups, just like I do for basil pesto.  Then I grabbed some serrano peppers from the garden.

I had bought pickled garlic with cayenne at the farmers market, so I decided to use that instead of plain garlic and red pepper flakes.  So, if you do not have access to pickled garlic with cayenne, feel free to make the substitution – tasting as you go along.

From there it was a matter of adding, pulsing the food processor and tasting.  Do not get scared off by the amount of serrano peppers in the recipe – it has a great bite, but it is really not that hot.  And, you can always use less.  It should taste fairly garlicky, but if you are using plain raw garlic, start with 12 cloves and increase gradually from there.  Raw garlic is stronger than pickled garlic.

So as I munch on my tasty snack, I am transported back to San Diego and can easily picture sunset over the pacific…

Parsley-Serrano Pesto

2 packed cups parsley, stems removed

28 cloves raw pickled garlic with cayenne

6 serrano peppers, seeded

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place parsley in the food processor, pulse to chop.

Add the rest of the ingredients, pulse to mince and mix together.  Taste and adjust, adding more garlic or peppers, or both.

Serve with crackers, chips, and or cheese or spread on grilled vegetables, add to salads, eggs, whatever strikes your fancy.  Store in the fridge or freeze what you won’t use in a week.


Makes 1 cup.

Categories: Kosher, Pesto, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

30 x 30 Challenge

One of the things I do in my consulting business is operate a program focused on decreasing the carbon footprint of staff at the University of Pennsylvania.  To accomplish this, I think it is beneficial to tap into and raise people’s connection to the environment and their surroundings.

Walking at the Russell Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, DE

A few months ago, I learned of the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30 x 30 Challenge – spend 30 minutes a day out in nature for 30 days in a row.  What a simple, yet wonderful idea!  Eat lunch outside, go for a walk or run in a park or along a river, read a book under a tree, work in your garden – so many possibilities, even in the heart of the city!

Hanging out by the woods

So, I will be challenging the staff involved in my program to take the 30 x 30 Challenge, and to involve their co-workers and friends.  We will do some group activities, but mostly it will be up to each individual to decide what they want to do. All I will as is that they make note of what they did and how it made them feel.

Chilling at the Morris Arboretum near Philly

We will be doing the Challenge from October 8 to November 6.  Come along and join us!  I will share my daily notes here on the blog.  I would love if you share your favorite outdoor activities, or how you spent your time outside with us!

Kayaking and bird watching along a local river

Categories: General | 1 Comment

Cammy’s Cinnamon Raisin Challah French Toast

There is nothing better than challah french toast except, perhaps, cinnamon raisin challah french toast!  And who better to make it than our own Top Chef, Cammy?

Cinnamon Raisin Challah French Toast

See the recipe for the cinnamon raisin challah in the recipe for raisin challah. The bread is so flavorful, that a very basic egg dip can be used.

Cinnamon Raisin Challah French Toast

1 loaf cinnamon raisin challah

2 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

splash of milk

butter or margarine, for the griddle

maple syrup or homemade strawberry sauce

The “Bottom Chef” (that’s me, according to my 3 year old) prepped the bread, by slicing it into 8 slices, about 3/4″ thick.

Cinnamon Raisin Challah

The bread is so flavorful, that a very basic egg dip can be used.  The Top Chef cracked 2 eggs into a shallow bowl.

Don’t forget to check for any stray eggshells

Add a splash of milk.

A little help with pouring may be in order

Beat together with a whisk.

Cammy has become an expert whisker

Dip the bread in the egg mixture.  Flip to soak both sides, remove the excess egg mixture.

Cammy did not like the feel of the egg dip, so the Bottom Chef had to flip each slice of bread

Heat a griddle or griddle pan over medium-high heat.  coat with butter.  Cook the bread in batches, until light brown on the bottom.

The Bottom Chef handled the griddle work

The flip and cook the other side til lightly browned and cooked through.

Nicely toasted

Serve with maple syrup or homemade strawberry syrup.  Enjoy!

Enjoying the fruits of his labor.

With homemade strawberry sauce – yum!

Serves 4.

Categories: Bread, Breakfast, Cammy's Cooking Adventures, Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe, Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur, Vegetarian | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Apple-Pear Butter in the Slow Cooker

It is fall and that means two of my favorite fruits are in season:  apples and pears.  And early fall is best to me, because that is when honey crisp apples are available in our local orchards.  My daughter, Emily, needed a break from the college grind, so I picked her up, we went for a hike in White Clay Creek State Park and then to Milburn Orchards for some honey crisps, bartlett pears and apple cider.

I have already told you how I love my slow cooker; so when I saw a recipe for slow cooker spiced apple and pear butter by Kelsey Nixon, I just had to try it.  I just love the warm spices in it.  I have adapted it here to my taste and procedure preferences.

Enjoy the apple-pear butter on some fresh, warm bread.  We especially enjoyed it on the raisin challah during Rosh Hashanah.

Apple-Pear Butter in the Slow Cooker

5 Honey Crisp apples (from Milburn Orchards)

6 Bartlett pears (from Milburn Orchards)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup Honey Crisp apple cider (from Milburn Orchards)

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp kosher salt

6 inches of cinnamon sticks (broken)

Peel the apples and pears and cut into chunks that will fit into the food processor.

Using the grater blade, process the fruit in batches and place in the slow cooker.

Ad the brown sugar, apple cider, molasses, allspice, cloves, salt and cinnamon sticks.

Stir lightly to mix the spices through.

Cover and cook 4 to 6 hours on high.

Uncover the slow cooker and remove the cinnamon sticks, reserve them. Using an immersion blender, process the fruit until smooth.

Return the cinnamon sticks to the slow cooker.  Continue cooking, uncovered, on high for 4 hours, stirring every now and then if you’d like, until thick and spreadable.  Warning, it is really tempting to sit there and eat it all with a spoon at any point during this cooking – it is a warm, spicy, apple saucy goodness.  But be patient, the apple-pear butter is worth the wait.  If, after 4 hours it still does not seem thick enough, stir and continue cooking on high for 30 minute intervals until it reaches the consistency you want.

Allow to cool. Transfer into airtight containers and refrigerate up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 3 months.


Makes at least 4 cups.

Categories: Apples, Breakfast, Kosher, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 5 Comments

Ode to Okra, part 2 – Pan-Seared Okra and Corn


Because of the damage from the caterpillars (at least I think that is who ate the leaves), I lost most of my okra plants. So the harvest is slow, although ‘pitiful’ may be the better term.  But I finally have enough to do some pan-searing, so I made a half-recipe.  When I have more okra, I often do this without the corn, but it is great both ways.

This dish was a real surprise when I first made it last year.  Even Cam (2 years old at the time) loved the pan-seared okra – he once ate the bowl containing all 3 servings before anyone else could get to it!  A toddler scarfing down okra, who would have thought?

Pan-Seared Okra and Corn

1/2 pound okra (from the garden)

2 cups corn, cut from the cob – Since I did not have fresh cobs, I used some of my previously frozen corn.

1 Tbsp olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Cut the okra – I like lengthwise for this recipe.

Combine okra and corn in a bowl.  Toss with oil, salt and pepper.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat.  When hot add the okra and corn (leave any excess oil in the bowl). Cook without stirring for 3 minutes, then stir, flipping okra.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes, til well seared. Remove to a serving bowl and adjust seasoning.  Enjoy!

Serves 4


Categories: Kosher, Okra, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | 2 Comments

Cammy’s Honey Spiced Apple Muffins

For Cammy’s contribution to our Rosh Hashanah celebration, he made the apple cupcakes from Joan Nathan’s The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen.  We call them muffins because they seem better to us as a breakfast treat rather than as a dessert.  The warm spices evoke thoughts of the oncoming fall.  They are best drizzled with honey, but go well with a little butter or cream cheese as well.

Cammy’s honey spiced apple muffin drizzled with honey

Honey Spiced Apple Muffins

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey (from Weaver Family Farm)

2 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 apples, organic

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.

Peel and grate the apples.

Use the food processor for a rough grate

Beat the eggs

Combine the oil and honey

Add the oil and honey to the eggs

If you make the same mistake we did, transfer the eggs, honey and oil to a large bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt

Add the spices and walnuts to the grated apples

The house will start to smell wonderfully even at this point!

Add some of the flour mixture to the egg mixture, then add some of the spiced apples.  Repeat until all ingredients are combined.

Mix in each addition.

Line the muffin tins with paper liners.  Fill each cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes

Makes 18 muffins

Serve with honey and butter. Enjoy!

Categories: Apples, Bread, Breakfast, Cammy's Cooking Adventures, Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe, Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Honey Orange Roasted Chicken

I rarely make roast chicken, but when I do, I cannot bring myself to make any other chicken than this.  It has become my go-to dish for Rosh Hashanah and often finds its way to the Passover Seder (when I am not doing a Persian meal).  The bird is always moist, the skin sweet and crispy, and it always gets raves.  One of its secrets – an orange placed in the cavity. But it is also the combination of orange, ginger, honey, soy sauce, garlic and almonds, a perfect combination.

I hate seeing anything go to waste, so I always make chicken broth from the carcass.  Even with just the few times I make chicken, I get enough broth to meet most of my needs.  If you use the carcass to make chicken stock or broth, it becomes the chicken that keeps on giving, with all those wonderful flavors transmitted to the broth. I suggest freezing the broth in 1 and 2 cup portions.

Honey Orange Roasted Chicken

1 large roasting chicken

1 cup water

1 orange

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey (local)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup slivered or chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the chicken in a roasting pan with 1 cup of water.  Put the peel from the orange and place it in the bird’s cavity.

Mix together the orange juice, honey, ginger, lemon juice, soy sauce and onion powder.  Mix til well combined.

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting up.  Enjoy!

Categories: Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Main Dish, Passover, Recipe, Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Raisin Challah

We are preparing for Rosh Hashanah, so it is time to bake some raisin challah.  Although I use a recipe I found years ago in Joan Nathan’s The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen, I am not yet ready to tackle it with Cam.  Look for that post in a year or two.  I am perfectly capable of making a total floury mess of my kitchen all by myself.

I did not grow any of the ingredients in the challah, so what is local about the raisin challah?  Three things – the eggs (from Farmer Kim), the meadow honey (from Weaver Family Farm in Middletown, PA), and the organic raisins (which I bought at the farmers market in San Diego from Smit Orchards in Linden, CA).  Ok, calling that local may be a stretch, but they only added 1/2 lb to my suitcase (I should have bought more, they were amazing!).

What I love about this recipe, it makes 3 loaves – 2 for the holiday and 1 that can be turned into cinnamon raisin bread and used for…Cinnamon Raisin Challah French Toast!  Oh, I see a Cammy’s Cooking Adventure post coming for that one.

2 envelopes active dried yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water, divided

1 tsp sugar

4 eggs (from Farmer Kim)

1/2 cup honey (from Weaver Family Farm)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

8-9 cups flour

2 cups raisins (from Smit Orchards)

Sesame seeds

In a small bowl, stir together yeast, 1 cup warm water, and the sugar.  Set aside for 10 minutes to proof it (make sure it bubbles).

Beat 3 eggs with the honey.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup warm water, oil and salt.  Add the yeast mixture, beating well with a spoon.  Add 5 cups of the flour, one cup at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.  The dough will be sticky.  Add the raisins.

Add 2 more cups of flour, beating well with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Place the last 2 cups of flour on your work surface.  Knead the dough until almost all the flour is absorbed into it.

Return to the bowl.

Cover with a towel and let rise for 1-2 hours, until has doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, punch it down.  Divide into 3 equal parts.

For the braided loaf,  further divide the piece of dough into 3 more parts for braiding.  Roll the dough into long ropes.

Braid as you would hair.  Pinch the ends together.  This can be made into a round braided loaf .

For the round loaf, roll the dough into one long strand.

Wrap it in a spiral.

For the cinnamon raisin loaf, roll the dough into a rectangle.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar (a mis on 1 Tbsp cinnamon with 1/2 cup sugar).

Roll it up like a jelly roll.

Place the loaves on greased baking sheets or in 9″round pans.  The cinnamon raisin loaf can go in a loaf pan. Cover with a tower and let rise another 30 minutes, until it doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 350F,

Mix the last egg with a little water.  Brush the loaves with the egg-wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake 25 minutes, or until golden.

Let cool and enjoy!  L’Shana Tovah!

Makes 3 medium-sized loaves.

Categories: Bread, Jewish Holiday, Kosher, Recipe, Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Cammy’s Scrambled Eggs

We hadn’t planned on Cammy cooking this weekend, but as we lost power because of the storm, we had to shift his dinner to a stovetop meal, and he wanted eggs.  So, voila!, a perfect dish for him to make for himself and give him an activity to keep him occupied in the dark.

He put on his headlamp, pulled up his “cooking chair” and our Top Chef was ready to scramble some eggs.

Cracking the eggs into a bowl

Whisking well.

Adding the torn cheese pieces – he used muenster

Moving the spatula to get a good scramble

Naan (cooked on the stovetop) instead of toast tonight

Dinner by candlelight – just as the rain ended and the sky started to lighten

Enjoying the aftermath of the storm with a full belly!

Categories: Cammy's Cooking Adventures | 2 Comments

Fried Eggplant Khoresh (Bademjun Sorkh Kardeh)

It was an exciting night for cooking, and a good thing I planned a dinner that could all be done on the stove top.  Just as I was salting the eggplant and boiling the water to blanch the tomatoes, a storm blew through and we lost power for the next 2 hours.   Because of the storm clouds, the sky became very dark.  So it was an evening to cook (and play) via lantern and candlelight.  Cam made the most of it – wearing the headlamp and cooking his own dinner via lamplight (check out the upcoming Cammy’s Scrambled Eggs).

Fried eggplant khoresh is similar to eggplant khoresh, but rather than being a stew, it is more like a thick dip, best eaten with a good flat bread – we used naan. Also, instead of pickled vegetables, this gets its tang from an accompaniment of grated onions in wine vinegar.  It makes for a very communal and very tasty dinner.

Garden update – The caterpillars have arrived and did some real damage while I was away.  Most of the okra and eggplant have been stripped of leaves, as have many of the bean plants.  I am being vigilant about finding and removing them and trying some oil soap (organic) to keep them off the plants.  Ever optimistic, I planted the fall crops – kale, spinach, carrots, scallions, broccoli and cauliflower. Just a little of each.  Fall crops have been hit or miss for me, we shall see how they do this year.  Cammy helped me harvest.  But when I emptied his basket, I realized  he had some help…

And finally, the last of our raspberries – just enough for a pre-lunch snack for Cam.

Fried Eggplant Khoresh (Bademjun Sorkh Kardeh)

1 large eggplant or an equivalent number of smaller ones (from the garden)

2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and sliced (from the garden)

1/2 cup safflower or canola oil

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 onion

1/2 cup good red wine vinegar (I used 1 cup in these pictures, but it was really too much)

Naan or other good flat bread

Peel and slice the eggplant (in rounds if large, lengthwise if small).  Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for 20 minutes.  Rinse well and pat dry.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the eggplant in batches until golden on each side.

Drain on paper towels.  Pour out any excess oil, then return the eggplant to the skillet.  Layer the tomatoes on top and pour the hot water over all.

Cook over medium/medium-low heat for 30 minutes until the eggplant is soft and covered with a rich brown gravy.

While the eggplant is cooking, grate the onion into the vinegar.  Remember, the picture below has more vinegar than I think necessary, I would like it more ‘relish-y.’

Also while the eggplants cook, make or heat up the flat bread.  Below is the naan heating over our griddle plate.

Serve the khoresh with the onion and naan.

Dip the naan into the khoresh and top with some onions. Enjoy!!

Serves 2 as a main dish, more as an appetizer.

Categories: Eggplant, Kosher, Main Dish, Persian, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

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