Sunday, April 22, 2012

Oakland Veg Week Diary

Please check out my all vegan all the time blog, Dish It Up Vegan, for a report on my Oakland Veg Week experiences, including recipes ideas and restaurant resources.  Check it out here.

Pssst! Wanna Buy This Cake? --- Come to the Share Our Strength Bake Sale on 4/28 and Help End Childhood Hunger

I'll be offering up slices (or mini bundt cakes, haven't decided yet) of this luscious, vegan coconut-lemon bundt cakes at the up coming Save Our Strength San Francisco Food Bloggers Bake Sale to benefit Share Our Strength's efforts to end childhood hunger.

(Don't live in the Bay area?  Share our Strength bakes sales are being held across the U.S.  Check the organization's bake sale finder for one near you.)

The event will be outside Omnivore Books, 3885a Cesar Chavez Street (at Church Street), San Francisco, on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Prices for goodies start at just $1.  You can expect everything from homemade caramel corn to amazing cupcakes to incredible home-baked breads. Some will be plain, many fancy, but all will be delicious. There will be vegan and gluten-free goodies, too.

Come early for best selection, but organizers expect to have goodies available all through the event.  An added inducement - famed chocolate expert Alice Medrich will be at the bookstore for a free and open to the public appearance and book signing at 3 p.m.

For more information on my bundt cake (including a link to the recipe), please click here.

For more info click here

Here's a list of  participating bloggers for this year's bake sale.
Please check them out.

  • ailovebaking
  • Bake for Change
  • Bake your Heart Out
  • Cake Sharing
  • Chef Kittie
  • Blog Appetit
  • Dessert First
  • Desserts for Breakfast
  • Dining with Dusty
  • Dulcinea Bakeshop
  • Eat the Love
  • Honey & Hero
  • I'd Have Baked a Cake
  • Kitchen Salt
  • La Vie En Route
  • Mad Dough
  • Magpies Bakery
  • Namthip
  • Original Cinn
  • Pastry Angie
  • Penni Wisner
  • Piece of Cake
  • Scott and Howard
  • She Eats Well
  • Suzie Sweet Tooth
  • The Flirty Blog
  • The iPie Store
  • With Style And Grace
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    More Ideas for Passover

    A mufleta flatbread dripping with butter and honey for the post-Pesach celebration of Mimouna
    My latest j. weekly pieces have some more tasty ideas for Passover and after -- including some recipes from the Moroccan tradition, a fish soup and a delightful poached fruit dessert.

    This article, written for the j. weekly's Passover section, has recipes for a stellar sweet potato-pineapple bake, salmon baked in foil, a carrot salad and a recipe for mufleta, a post-Pesach Moroccan flatbread that is spread with honey and butter and is easy and addictive.  It is part of the Mimouna celebration.  I've also written about mufleta on Blog Appetit including an alternative recipe for the bread and two very different toppings - a sweet honey caramel and a savory eggplant conserve.

    The second article in last Friday's j. weekly was my regular column where I featured the spicy fish soup and poached apricot recipes from noted food writers Levana Kirschenbaum and Jeff Nathan.

    Saturday, April 07, 2012

    Recipe Update - Shredded Pastry with Nuts for Passover

    Please click here to see an important recipe update for my Passover shredded pastry recipe.  A change in ingredient manufacture necessitates a change in preparation .  Scroll to the bottom on recipe for update note.

    Thursday, April 05, 2012

    You Can Never Have Too Many Charosets -- My Article in the J. Weekly and More

    Charoset truffles, a pyramid of Eastern European-style charoset and Iraqi charoset
    Mixing it up at Passover by having a variety of charosets (sometimes spelled harosets or charoses) is a way to explore the geographical and other differences and similarities of Jews around the world, which I explore in my j. weekly column here.  I hope you will take a few minutes and check out how the charosets can add meaning as well as taste to a Seder dinner.

    In addition to the recipes for charoset truffles, Greek charoset, Iraqi charoset and two types of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) charosets in the j. weekly article, here's another charoset recipe from Dawn Kepler from the interfaith group Building Jewish Bridges, who is quoted in the article.

    Building Jewish Bridges Charoses

    1/4 cup pitted dates
    1 large apple
    1/4 cup dried apricots
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    orange juice & sweet wine to taste.
    Chop up all the ingredients. You can use a blender and process just a bit at a time. Mix everything together. Serve as part of Seder plate and as a spread throughout the holiday.

    Tuesday, April 03, 2012

    Gluten-Free for Passover - Some Ideas from Blog Appetit

    By the way, that's no matzh ball in that soup -- it's a gluten-free dumpling (for more on that see below.)

    There are more and more commercial products available at Passover for those needing a gluten-free diet, but a holiday based on unleavened wheat bread is still pretty tough.

    Here are some ideas taken from the Blog Appetit archives:

    Almost all the Pesach noodles I'm seeing this year are gluten free (made with potato and other acceptable starches).  Where have all the matzah meal noodles gone?  I don't know, but this development makes Passover gluten-free meal planning a bit easier and it also means this delicious pastry is now gluten free. (And even vegan when made with Passover parve margarine.)  Click here for my Passover Turkish Shredded Pastry.  (Update: The new gluten-free versions do not perform as well as the noodles I used to develop the recipe.  Please see the update notes on the recipe before attempting to make this.)

    A few years ago I developed an entire gluten-free Passsover menu. It featured chicken soup with almond-chicken dumplings (see the photo above), chicken tagine with quiona and pistachio lemon bars. You can get all the recipes here.

    This crustless green chili quiche might be perfect for a holiday brunch or lunch.

    These leek-potato patties weren't devised for Passover, but they would work well for a Seder or other meal.

    My chopped chicken liver just like MY grandma used to make is also gluten free.

    Take a look though all my Jewish recipes to see a variety of chicken, beef, fish and vegetable recipes you should be able to use or modify for a gluten-free diet.

    Happy holiday!

    Grilled Lamb and Bitter Lettuce -- A Different Kind of a Passover Story (With Recipes, Of Course)

    Homemade Matzah
    On the first night of Passover, more than 200 families in the Bay area will be sharing some ancient Seder traditions and foods that would be unfamiliar to Jews raised with stories of the four questions and expectations of eating sweet charoset.

    That’s because the Bay area is the home to the largest enclave of Karaite Jews in the United States. Karaim, a sect with roots that go back to the 8th Century, derives its practices only from what is in the written Torah and not from the Talmud or other rabbinic sources.

    We don’t have a Seder plate and many things are not acceptable. There is no vinegar, baking powder, or cheese” during Passover according to Rémy Pessah, of Mountain View. Only foods and practices that are mentioned in the Torah are allowed. Anything fermented or that could ferment is forbidden throughout the holiday.

    Pessah, a textile artist, often lectures about the Karaites and is a talented cook, freely sharing her expertise and recipes for Egyptian Karaite specialties, including teaching a recent class at Osher Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto that was co-sponsored by JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa). She and her husband, Joe, helped found the Karaite Temple B’nai Israel in Daly City.

    Karaites celebrate Passover for seven days. They only recount the story of the exodus the first night using Haggadahs featuring details taken from the Torah. Many Karaites in the U.S. feel a very personal connection to the story, since like Pessah’s family they lived in Egypt for centuries, but were forced to emigrate because of deteriorating conditions and persecution (including imprisonment) after the wars with Israel. Other groups of Karaites still live in the Ukraine, Crimea and Israel. Worldwide estimates range from 25,000 to 50,000 with approximately 2,000 living in the Bay area.

    Karaites’ Passover tables, traditionally dressed in new, white tablecloths, do feature some ceremonial foods.

    Pessah’s Pesach table in Mountain View will feature two types of matzah – commercially made and a homemade version made with matzah cake meal to eat with the maror. The homemade matzah features coriander seeds. Similar to Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, Karaites do eat seeds such as coriander and cumin that Ashkenazi rabbinic tradition has made kitniyot or unacceptable. Pessah makes sure the dough is mixed and in the oven in under 10 minutes to avoid any remote chance of fermentation or rising. The maror, or bitter herbs, this special matzah is made for is a chopped salad of greens and herbs including romaine lettuce, chicory and endive. There is no charoset, but whole or chopped nuts are served.

    A Karaite Seder meal always features lamb that is roast, barbecued or grilled, according to Pessah.

    “The Torah says to have lamb when they left Egypt and that the leftovers be burnt and not taken,” she said. “Growing up my mother made sure we have just enough so not to waste.” Pessah says some families roast a whole lamb in recognition of the Temple sacrifice, a practice which is avoided in other Jewish traditions, even those which permit eating lamb at the Seder meal.

    The Seder meal will also often feature greens and rice but only fresh beans such as fava. “We don’t eat dried beans, we don’t eat anything that has been dried and needs to soak since it will expand,” Pessah explained.

    Dessert might a jam-filled Swiss roll, but with homemade preserves, since Karaites shun most commercially made Pesach products. Almond brittle, almond cookies and other pastries are also served.

    Below are several of Pessah’s recipes along with my interpretations of some of the Karaite specialties.

    Bitter Herbs Salad
    Serves 12

    The ingredients in Remy Pessah’s maror inspired this recipe, which was also influenced by Middle Eastern fattoush or bread salads. Fennel fronds are the feathery leaves attached to the fennel bulb stalks.

    1 1/2 cups of 1” cubes of fennel bulbs
    1/4 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
    2 cups of 1” pieces of Belgium endive
    4 cups of 1” pieces of romaine lettuce
    4 cups of 1” pieces of red leaf lettuce
    2 cups of 1” pieces of frisee or other curly chicory
    1 cup finely chopped parsley
    1cup finely chopped fresh dill
    2 small lemons
    2 Tbs. finely minced lemon zest
    1 tsp. minced garlic
    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
    1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    2 Tbs. water
    6 sheets of matzah, broken into 1” shards

    In a very large bowl, combine fennel bulbs, fennel fronds, endive, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, frisee, parsley and dill. Toss well. Cut away the peel and white pith from the two lemons and chop the remaining flesh into 1/4" pieces. Combine chopped lemon pieces in a jar or other container with the lemon zest, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, lemon juice, oil and water.
    Just before serving, mix or shake the dressing until combined, pour over salad. Toss salad. Add matzah pieces and toss again. Serve immediately.

    Rémy Pessah’s Maror – To use as a Karaite-style maror, finely chop vegetables and herbs and combine with 2Tbs. lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt and 2 diced pickled lemons. If pickled lemons are not available, use 1/4 tsp. additional salt, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper and 2 Tbs. finely minced lemon zest and the finely diced flesh of 2 small peeled lemons.

    Rémy Pessah’s Homemade Matzah
    Makes 40-45 2” x 2” crackers

    Pessah’s matzah recipe includes coriander seeds, which Ashkenazi Jews avoid during Passover. If it is not your custom to eat the seeds during Pesach, just omit them, the crackers will still be very tasty and make a good accompaniment for foods throughout the holiday. Pessah specifies that the dough should be prepared and put in the oven within 10 minutes of mixing the dry ingredients with the wet.

    3 cups matzah cake meal
    3/4 cup olive oil
    1 1/2 cup water
    1 Tbs. coriander seeds (optional)
    1 tsp. salt

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine cake meal, oil, water, coriander seeds (if using) and salt in large bowl. Stir with spoon until all liquid has been incorporated and a crumbly dough has formed. Oil hands and mix until dough combines. Knead for a minute or two until dough is smooth. Divide into 2 equal parts. Form into two disks. Take one disk and then flatten out evenly with fingers on an ungreased baking sheet until the dough is only about 1/8” thick. Repeat on a second ungreased baking sheet with the remaining dough. Cut the dough into 2” x 2” squares. Bake 20-25 minutes until the ends of the dough are slightly brown and the matzah is cooked all the way through. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

    Grilled Lamb

    Having grilled or barbecued lamb for the Seder meal is an important part of the Karaite tradition. Ashkenazi custom is to avoid lamb and roasted meats at the Seder meal. Sephardic and Mizrahi custom includes eating lamb as part of the meal.

    3 -4 lb. boneless butterflied leg of lamb
    1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
    1/2 cup finely chopped mint
    3 tsp. minced garlic

    Trim excess fat off lamb. Combine juice, oil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, mint, garlic and mix well. Open the leg so it lies flat. Rub mixture all over lamb. Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or for several hours in the refrigerator, bringing back to room temperature before grilling. Oil grill rack. Prepare charcoal or preheat gas grill to medium high heat. Grill over medium to medium high heat, adjusting for flare ups and turning frequently for 25-35 minutes until an instant-read thermometer indicates desired doneness – 120 degrees for rare, 130 degrees for medium rare, 140 degrees for medium or 155 degrees for medium well. (Thinner sections of the butterflied leg will be more well done than the thicker portion). Meat will continue cooking after removed from grill. Let rest loosely covered with aluminum foil 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

    Rémy Pessah’s Almond Brittle
    Makes about 2 cups of candy pieces

    3/4 cup sugar
    1 cup blanched, slivered almonds
    Oil as needed

    Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Lightly oil Melt sugar on low heat in a stainless steel pot. Add almonds, stir well. Pour onto prepared baking sheet, spread into a single layer with the back of a large, oiled spoon. Let cool and break into sections.
    A version of this article originally appeared in j. weekly

    Monday, April 02, 2012

    Two Thumbs Up for Meals on Wheels Five-Star Night this April 27

    Host Narsai David (center) and participating chefs
     I am a big support of Alameda County Meals on Wheels and its wonderful fundraiser - Five-Star Night. Check out the local restuarants that will be providing the food as well as the menu.

     (FYI - my support for the dinner has absolutely NOTHING to do with my husband and I winning some fabulous raffle prizes at the dinner.)

    Here is a copy of their news release on the event. I will post more about Meals on Wheels and the benefit soon.  Hope you will support this great organization in whatever you can.  Don't live in Alameda County? Find your local Meals on Wheels at

    “Five Star Night” Alameda County Meals On Wheels Benefit Set for April 27

    Five Star Night, the 25th annual fundraiser for Alameda County Meals on Wheels, takes place on Friday, April 27 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, CA. The $250.00 four course dinner (including a sumptuous dessert buffet), under the guidance of Narsai David and Ellen Tussman, will be created by 14 of the Bay Area’s finest chefs. The event includes a champagne and fine wine reception with hors d’oeuvres, plus silent and live auctions, a gala dinner and dancing. The evening's special guest will be Julie Haener, the co-anchor of KTVU-TV's top-rated Bay Area newscast.

    For tickets or more information, call 510.777.9560 or visit

    Participating restaurants and food companies will be adesso/dopo, Bay Wolf, Bocanova, Grace Street Catering, Italian Colors, La Farine, Lalime’s, Market Hall Bakery, Marica, Mua, Telegraph, Ozumo, Picante and Semifreddi’s.

    Funds raised at Five Star Night are distributed to Meals on Wheels programs throughout Alameda County to provide freshly prepared warm meals for thousands of homebound seniors.

    The Scottish Rite Center is located at 1547 Lakeside Drive in Oakland, CA.

    photo credit: Alameda County Meals on Wheels