Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mushroom Matzoh Lasagna

As I have mentioned before, living near Kennet Square, PA, the Mushroom Capital, mushrooms are quite a local food.  They are also one of Lauren’s favorites.  Thus, mushroom matzoh lasagna when she came home for the weekend.

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This recipe is adapted from one I found on a few years ago.  The changes I have made are relatively minor, but this version was by far the best I have made.  This is an excellent vegetarian recipe for Passover.  It goes really well with a good salad, and makes a very colorful plate.

Mushroom matzoh lasagna 9

Mushroom Matzoh Lasagna

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, chopped (local)

2 cups canned whole tomatoes, pureed

1/2 tsp dried oregano (from the garden)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 matzohs

1 cup cheddar jack cheese, grated

1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan.

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Cook onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft, about 6 minutes.

Mushroom matzoh lasagna 1

Stir in 1 cup pureed tomatoes and oregano, simmer for 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Mushroom matzoh lasagna 2

Soften matzohs by holding under warm running water for a few seconds.  Spread 2 Tbsp of tomatoes on the bottom of the pan. Lay one matzoh on top. Spread 1/2 mushroom sauce on top. Top with matzoh.

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Add 1/2 the cheddar jack.

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Lay the 3rd matzoh on top, followed by the rest of the mushroom sauce, a matzoh, the rest of the cheddar jack, then the last matzoh.  Pour the rest of the tomatoes on top, then top with the grated parmigiano-reggiano.

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Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

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Let sit for a few minutes, then cut into squares to serve.  Enjoy!

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Serves 4.





Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Passover, Vegetarian | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Matzoh Bark – Chocolate Peppermint and Peanut Butter Banana

OK, I admit it, there is absolutely nothing local about this treat.  But I realized that I promised the recipe, so here it is… This version is adapted from one by Zoe Francois.  I made 1 1/2 times her recipe for caramel and doubled the number of trays.  I also decided to make one tray a peanut butter/chocolate mix – I still used the same amount of chips per tray.

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We first made a version of this with my sister-in-law Ginny, and the girls loved it! It is so sweet and rich I have refused to make them, but this year I decided to treat everyone with these for our seder dessert.

Matzoh Bark – Chocolate Peppermint and Peanut Butter Banana

5 – 6 matzohs

3 sticks of butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed.

2 cups chips (I used a combination of white, dark and milk chocolate for one tray and peanut butter and semi-sweet for the other)

Crushed peppermints

Crushed banana chips


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line 2 rimmed  baking sheets with foil, spray with cooking spray.  Lay out the matzohs to cover the trays in a single layer.

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Melt the butter and brown sugar in a sauce pot over medium high heat, whisking continually until it starts to thicken.

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Pour the caramel over the matzoh, spread it out with a spatula and bake for 12-15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, crush the peppermint candies (or get your daughter to do it:)).

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Remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle with chips.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

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Spread the melted chips in an even layer over all the matzohs.  Sprinkle with the topping.

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Place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.

Peel from the foil and break into pieces.

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Store in an airtight container for up to a week.  Enjoy!

Makes 2 trays.

Categories: Dessert, Kosher, Passover, Recipe | 2 Comments

Passover Granola and the Start of Marathon Training

Hands down, this granola is my family’s favorite thing I make for Passover.  Even though it makes 2 quarts, I usually have to make it at least twice to get us through the week.


The original version of this recipe comes from a book my mother got back in the 80’s “Cooking Kosher Naturally” by Jane Kinderlehrer.  It is funny that my mother never really cared about natural cooking, but the book has become my favorite for granolas, breads and some healthy baked goodies.  Oh, it also has a great tuna lasagna recipe that I will share some other time.

As with most granolas, make this on a day you have some time.  It has to bake for over two hours, with you stirring every 15 minutes. But, trust me, it is worth it. You can’t go wrong with the ingredients – matzoh instead of oats, coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, cinnamon and a touch of honey.

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Then to add even more yumminess, you add raisin and dates.

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Enjoy it alone as a snack and with yogurt or milk for breakfast.  Here I tossed in a few frozen blueberries, yum, yum and more yum!


Marathon training begins

So now the planning is over and the work begins….

I had a stress test last week as one last precaution my doctor wanted.  It was funny, the cardiologist examined me, told me I looked great and asked why was I there? Then he read my family history and said, yes, let’s get a stress test just to be sure. But all checked out, we talked and laughed through the test; the doctor overseeing the test even commented on my great walking form – can I say ‘a great time was had by all?’

I am using Jeff Galloway’s Run Injury Free training plan, so it is a long one – about 30 weeks.  I have also had to calculate in the 2 weeks I will likely miss when I am in Turkey for a conference.  So today was the official start of my training.  The symbolic kick-off will be the Cherry Blossom 5K through the Brandywine Zoo on March 30.  I am still looking for a 10k nearby on April 27 or 28.

As I filled in my Saturday distances on my calendar, I have to say I started getting overwhelmed somewhere mid-summer.  I am glad  I have committed to run the half-marathon with my nephew in Chicago in July.  That gives me my interim goal.  I will re-evaluate how my training is going and my body is doing after that.

I was not nearly as intimidated when I started training for my Century bike ride…. but I was also less than half the age I am now  🙂

Passover Granola

6 matzohs, broken into 1/2″ pieces (preferably whole wheat)

2 cups shredded coconut

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup cashew pieces

1/3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup honey (local)

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Raisins and dates, in whatever quantity you like


I am large bowl, combine the matzoh with the rest of the dry ingredients, except the almonds and dried fruit.

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In a small bowl, combine the honey and oil.

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Mix the honey and oil into the dry ingredients.  Drizzle the water onto the mixture, a little at a time, mixing in until it is all absorbed.

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Heat the oven to 225F.  Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spread half the mixture onto each cookie sheet.

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Bake for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Add the almonds and bake for another 15 minutes.  The mixture should be a toasty brown.

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Turn off the oven and let the granola cool in the oven.

Once the mixture is totally cool, mix in the dried fruit.


Store in tightly covered containers. Enjoy!

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Makes about 2 quarts (depending upon how much of it you ate while “testing” it at different points of cooking.)

Categories: Breakfast, Kosher, Passover | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi (Herbed Rice and Fish)

The holidays are falling just about on top of each other this year. Persian New Year was March 21 and Passover starts March 25.  Oy! Sabzi Polo ba Mahi, a special herbed rice with fried fish, is the traditional dish for Persian New Year.

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I have been searching for a recipe that I really like and have been getting closer each year. The problem I have is that I do not like dill, and most of the recipes rely heavily on dill, finding the balance of including it enough but not too much has been a challenge.  So each year it requires some improvisation.  This year I seem to have gotten it just right- fresh parsley and scallions and dried dill.

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For the last few years we have been also doing Persian food for our Seder.  This year it will be Chicken Fesenjoon, along with matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish, pickles, kugels and homemade chocolate covered matzot (look for that post in a couple of days).

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi

3 cups basmati rice

2 bunches parsley

2 bunches scallions

1/8 cup dried dill

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp olive oil

Tilapia, enough to serve 4 – 6 people

1/2 cup flour

Salt (I used black sea salt) and freshly ground pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

Lemon juice



Put the rice in a large bowl and rinse 2 or 3 times.  Soak in salted water for at least an hour.  Drain.

Wash and dry the parsley and scallions. Use a salad spinner, it will make the chopping go much easier.

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Add the scallions and parsley to the food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until well chopped.  Add the dill.

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To make the rice, fill a pot with salted water.  Add the drained rice and greens.  Bring the uncovered pot to a boil, about 20 minutes – you want to cook the rice until it still has a bit of a bite to it.  Drain into a strainer.

Put the pot back over medium-high heat, put in 1 Tbsp butter and a 1/4 cup of water.  Once the butter has melted, swirl the pan around, then return the rice and greens to the pot.  Press down.

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Cover with a towel and lid (or use a padded lid cover).

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Cook for about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook another 30-40 minutes.  You want a nice layer of tadigh (crispy rice crust on the bottom of the pan) to form.


Over high heat, heat olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron skillet.

Pour flour into a shallow bowl, mix in salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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Dip the tilapia into the flour mixture and coat both sides.

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Cook jus a couple of minutes on each side until crisp and cooked through (Tilapia cooks very quickly).

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Serve the rice topped with fish and tadigh.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Enjoy!

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Serves 4 – 6.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Persian, Recipe | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Pesto Salmon Cakes

We are still working our way through all the sauces I made and froze last summer.  I am always amazed at how much pesto there is in the freezer; I think it multiplies when I am not looking!

So, tonight it was time to use some pesto to make really yummy salmon cakes.  Of course, at his request, I made salmon sticks for Cam.

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The funniest part of dinner was when Cam, who was no where near the kitchen when I cooked, bit into a salmon stick, smiled and asked, “is there pesto in here?”  Not a bad palate for a 3 year old!  Even better that he was bappy that there was pesto in it.  It shouldn;t be a surprise, since pesto is his preferred pasta sauce (see Cammy’s Pesto).

Anyway, back to the salmon cakes… the pesto provides both flavor and moisture to the mixture.  Tonight I added lime zest as well, I usually use lemon zest- both work really well.  For our sandwiches, I made a pesto-mayonnaise (a mixture of about 1 Tbsp pesto with 1/3 cup mayonnaise) and topped it with organic marinated tomatoes.

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Pesto Salmon Cakes

1 pound canned red salmon – wild caught

1 cup panko

1/4 cup pesto, from the garden

1 egg, from Farmer Kim

1 tsp lemon or lime zest

2 Tbsp olive oil


Flake the salmon and mix with panko.

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Add the pesto and mix thoroughly.

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Lightly beat the egg and add it and the zest to the mixture and form into patties (or sticks).

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Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook salmon, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

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Serve with pesto mayonnaise and whatever other condiments you choose. Enjoy!

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Serves 4.

Categories: Kosher, Main Dish, Pesto, Recipe, Sandwich | Tags: | 6 Comments

Lemon Broccoli Pasta

We planted the first seeds this weekend:  sugar snap peas, peas, spinach, red and purple carrots, rainbow chard, and lettuce.  Now I hope for regular rains to nourish my seeds.  The strawberry plants are looking a little worn, perhaps they have played themselves out, we will see how it goes the year.  The garlic are looking happy though.

Sometimes I am in the mood for a simple, refreshing dinner. With broccoli, whole wheat pasta, lemon, basil, parmesan, cannellini, garlic, crushed red pepper, this dish is just that. But also add in heartwarming, there is something in it that just makes me feel very happy and content when I eat it.

Lemon Broccoli Pasta

1 pound whole wheat pasta, such as rotini or penne

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound broccoli florets

1 Tbsp dried basil (from the garden)

1 can cannellini, drained and rinsed

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta. Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 – 2 minutes, until golden.

Add broccoli, basil and water, cook, covered, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until tender.

Add beans and heat through. Add lemon juice, zest, salt and red pepper.

Add pasta. Stir in remaining oil and enough liquid to create a sauce.

Serve immediately with cheese on the side. Enjoy!

Serves 4 – 5.

Categories: Broccoli, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Win’s Irish Soda Bread

Growing up in New York City, we all were Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, you never even thought about it, you just were. Even my Romanian Jewish father made corned beef and cabbage every year.

My annual tradition includes my former mother-in-law’s Irish soda bread. I adored Win and am glad she is still part of my life each year as I bake her bread. Food joins people together.

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There was one problem this year, I could not find the recipe. I had reorganized my recipes and somehow it had disappeared.  Luckily, Arielle (my oldest) was home, and had a copy of her grandmother’s recipe. The baking was on! While I worked on dinner, Arielle made the bread, so any hand you see is hers. The recipe is for 1 loaf; We wanted 2 loaves, one with and one without caraway seeds, so we doubled the recipe.

Win’s Irish Soda Bread

from Winifred Farrell

2 cups flour

level 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 cups raisins

1 1/2 Tbsp shortening (you can use butter)

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg (from Farmer Kim)


Preheat the oven to 325 – 350F.

Mix dry ingredients together, add caraway seeds.

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Rub in the shortening (we cut it in with a pastry knife).

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Beat the egg in the buttermilk.

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Fold in the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients lightly until flour is wet.

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Pour onto a floured board and knead into round shape.

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Place on a cookie sheet.

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Bake for 45 – 60 minutes. Test to see if dry in the center with a toothpick.

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Categories: Bread | Tags: | 4 Comments

Hidden Carrot Baked Ziti

Life with a 3 year old is a challenge – sometimes even I resort to hiding vegetables to get them into my son’s diet. Even with his love of eating things from the garden, he is still a pre-schooler whose food whims change weekly. These days cucumbers are a favorite, but carrots are on his “no thank you” list, so into the pasta sauce it goes. And it worked, not only did he eat his whole plate, but had another helping a little later!


I used to make a Latin American pasta sauce that included carrots, so it makes perfect sense to me to incorporate carrots into my sauce. Carrots do add extra sweetness to the sauce, so to counteract that, I added a bit of crushed red pepper as well.


This is a great dish to make in the winter using some tomato sauce I made and froze when tomatoes were plentiful in my garden. I tasted my sauce before adding the carrots, it didn’t need any additions. But taste your sauce after you thaw it, sometimes it will need additional tomato paste or herbs to give it body. For the ziti, I only use a relatively small amount of mozzarella on top, feel free to add more if that is your preference.


Hidden Carrot Baked Ziti

1 large organic carrot, shredded – about 2 cups.

3 cups basic tomato sauce

1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1 lb ziti

2 cups part-skim ricotta

3/4 cup mozzarella, shredded (more is you like)


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to directions.


Meanwhile, add the carrots and crushed red pepper to the tomato sauce and heat over low heat.

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Preheat the oven to 350F.

Stir the pasta, sauce and ricotta together in a 9 x 13 dish, mix thoroughly.


Top with mozzarella. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly.


Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!


Serves 6 – 8

Categories: Carrot, Kosher, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipe, Tomatoes, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Spaghetti Squash with Honey and Feta

This post initially appeared in December as a guest blog on Rantings of an Amateur Chef.  I am reposting it here in case you missed it there.

In my garden I grew both large and small spaghetti squashes.  While the large ones go into main dishes, small spaghetti squash are useful for side dishes when it is just three of us in the house.  When I made my honey orange roasted chicken, I decided to make a spaghetti squash as a side with mediterranean flavors to compliment the chicken.  A little honey to brighten the squash and feta to add some sharpness.

Spaghetti Squash with Honey and Feta

1 small spaghetti squash, about 1 – 1 1/2 lbs (from the garden)

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp honey (local)

2 to 3 ounces feta, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

Place face down in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes, til a knife inserted into the skin goes in easily. Remove from the oven.

Allow to cool a little.  Use a fork to remove the “strands” into a bowl.

Add the honey, mix in well.

Heat the squash in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir in the feta.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Serves 2 – 3 as a side dish.

Categories: Kosher, Recipe, Spaghetti Squash | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Chips

We are finally down to the last pound of Jerusalem artichokes, I can’t believe how long hey have stayed fresh!  I stored them in sealed plastic bags in the vegetable bin of the fridge.  Yet one more example of how long things stay fresh when you get them right after they come out of the ground.  Makes me wonder how long produce hangs around before it even hits the shelves of the grocery store.

I just ran across a recipe for Jerusalem artichoke chips flavored with rosemary on Pinterest, it is from the (y)our food choices website.


Since I am making this for our 3 year old, I decided to omit the rosemary, since he would have made me pick any piece of rosemary off  his chips.


I had made apple-cheddar soup last night, so I was going to use the chips as croutons for my bowl today.


Oven Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Chips 

1 lemon

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of it in a bowl filled with fresh water. Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes and place them in the bowl of acidulated water.


Thinly slice the chokes, about 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick, or as thin as possible (I alternated between hand slicing and using a mandoline).


Place the sliced tubers in a clean bowl and squeeze the other half of lemon over the top and toss to coat.


Evenly place the slices on the baking sheets in one layer, do not over lap. Lightly sprinkle salt over the slices and place in the oven.


Bake for 15 minutes; then pull the pans out of the oven and begin to remove the browned and crispy ones from the pan. Rotate the pans and place them back in the over for 3-5 minutes. Continue to check the tuber slices and remove the crispier ones and place the lighter colored ones back in the oven. This will take up to 30-40 minutes. Consolidate the slices to one pan when there is room available.


Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!


Categories: Recipe, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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