Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rosh Hashanah Apple Cake

Many years ago, I received a version of this Rosh Hashanah Apple Cake from a cousin of my husband's.  The original recipe calls for two cups of sugar and over a cup of oil, but over the years I have lightened it up by replacing some of the oil with applesauce and reducing the sugar.  The addition of applesauce in place of the oil helps retain the moisture and adds another level of apple flavor. The outcome is a densely moist cake with the perfect balance of sweetness.

I hope you enjoy this Apple Cake this holiday season!


Rosh Hashanah Apple Cake (Pareve)

4 Granny Smith apples, medium-size, peeled
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. 

Quarter, core and slice peeled apples.

Sprinkle 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon over apples.  Mix to coat.

In a medium-size bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a mixer, lightly beat eggs.  Add sugar and beat on medium speed until egg mixture is a pale yellow.

 Add vegetable oil and applesauce and blend until incorporated.

Alternate adding the flour and orange juice to the batter, beginning with a third of the flour and then half of the orange juice.

Once all the flour and juice has been incorprated add the vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed for one minute.

Pour 1/4 of the batter into the tube pan and then arrange 1/3 of the apple slices on top of the batter. 

Repeat the layers alternating between the batter and apples.  You should have 3 layers of apples and 4 layers of batter (ending with the batter).

Bake in the oven for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes.  Cake should be lightly brown and springs back to the touch.

Cool 10 to 15 minutes on a wire rack before inverting and removing from the pan.

After removing from pan, cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Charoset Bar

The past four years our Sisterhood has organized a Women's Seder.  We are lifted spiritually with learning, song and speakers as we approach the Passover holiday.  The evening also provides new ideas and recipes for us to incorporate into our own seders and the holiday week.  This year we were introduced to the very innovative Charoset bar-an assortment of ingredients to create our very own charoset.  It was a hit!  The charoset bar had suggestions of ingredients to mix that would resemble Italian charoset, Moroccan Charoset, and Egyptian Charoset just to name a few.  We created our own small samplings of charoset and compared our special mix with others.

I approached the Charoset bar excited to experiment, but hesitant to implement the idea. Every year I prepare the same menu, reluctant to steer away from tradition. I have two considerations when adding to the seder meal. First, I can't change my timing. Over the years, I perfected the dance that I  have with my small oven and a lot of guests. 
Second, food expectations and traditions. We all enjoy and associate a particular food with specific celebrations. I hesitate to change or eliminate a family /guest favorite.  Currently, I prepare the traditional Ashkenazic Charoset, one with nuts and one without.  Adding the Charoset bar allows everyone to make the traditional charoset or do some culinary experimenting.  Also, the timing of my seder should not be affected. So, I am trying itout this year. Who knows maybe the new traditional charoset will be created this Passover.

If you want to create your own charoset bar, here are some suggested ingredients (all are chopped or sliced):

Apricot (dried)
Lemons and oranges (for juicing)
Ginger, ground
Matzah Meal

Happy Passover!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Easy and Delicious Macaroons for Passover

Passover is fast approaching. Are you ready? Of course your house is clean, and your menus and shopping lists are ready. Or you are almost ready. Maybe you are still deciding what to serve for dessert at your seder, or what to bring for dessert if you are going to a seder at someone else’s house. Before you buy that can of macaroons in the grocery store, try making your own coconut macaroons. They are so delicious and easy that you will be wondering why you ever bought macaroons in the can. Here is the recipe for Chocolate Macaroons from page 51 of California Kosher. I have added some extra instructions for those of you who want coconut macaroons without the chocolate.


Chocolate Macaroons (Pareve)

One 6 oz package semisweet chocolate chips (pareve)
2 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
One 8 oz package coconut (2 2/3 cups, lightly packed) (I have found that shredded coconut works best)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Cool. Beat egg whites until stiff; gradually add salt and sugar. Beat well after each addition. Fold in melted chocolate. Fold in coconut and vanilla. Drop dough by teaspoonful on ungreased, foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake one pan of cookies at a time. Bake exactly 13 minutes in preheated 325 degree oven. Cool cookies completely before lifting them off the foil. Makes 3-4 dozen.

If you want coconut macaroons without the chocolate, leave it out and change the sugar to ¾ cup and the coconut to 2 1/2 cups. Bake these for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until light brown.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

BBQ Wings and Pareve Ranch Dressing

Eitan Loewenstein is a writer, pastry chef and dessert caterer. As a member of our community, Eitan has baked chocolate chip cookies in our Purim "Cook Off" and has baked over 1,000 hamantashen for the Adat Ari El Religious School fundraiser.
We are thrilled to have Eitan as a contributor to our blog and teach us some culinary techniques along the way. BBQ Wings are traditional for a Super Bowl Party and if you have never made them, Eitan has made it very easy with his step by step instruction. If you'd like Eitan to prepare food for your next party or write you something funny please e-mail him at: EmailEitan@gmail.com

As a pastry chef for hire I rarely get to make savory food items for my customers. Typically I make loads of delicious cakes, cookies and bars. Yummy to be sure, but man can not live on desserts alone although I've made a valiant effort. Lucky for me, my family allows me to cook them dinner once in a while.

One of those items people who keep kosher really seem to miss is buffalo wings with ranch dressing. We're left with two options: fake wings or a pareve dressing. Fake wings are never quite convincing so I go for the real chicken and a pareve dipping sauce. Since I'm the only one in my family who'd eat the spicy wings, I usually go for a BBQ sauce to please the whole family. I'll give you the recipe for Buffalo as well, just in case you're feeling zesty.

It's true you can go to the butcher and buy pre-cut wings but in order to shave a few cents off each pound of wings I simply cut my own. It's easy and quick, if you know this trick.

Here's how to cut wings easily. Pick up the wing in one hand and squeeze the pieces together. This makes the top joint pronounced and easy to find. Use a knife to start an incision where the two bones separate. Do not cut all the way through or you're likely to get your hand as well. Once you have marked the joint put the wing on the cutting board and complete the cut. After you do a couple this way you'll figure out where the joint is and not have to do the whole lift and pinch thing and instead just cut them on the board.

You'll notice that these wings are not fried but still come out super crispy. Restaurants fry their wings because it's faster and they don't care about your health. I care. We'll bake these wings at a very high temperature for a long time to get them just as crispy as if they were dunked in fat.

The ranch dressing can be made with either mayo or pareve sour cream. I usually don't have pareve sour cream in my fridge so I almost always use mayo. The sour cream makes for a more creamy dip so it might be worth grabbing a pint if you're looking to impress your guests more than usual. You can thin the dip out with either non-dairy creamer or water. Obviously one will be a little creamier than the other. That said I almost always do a mayo/water dip and my family and friends love it.

BBQ sauce and ranch are simply suggestions. Any bottled or home made chicken sauce can be used to make whatever wings fly into your dreams. I've made General Tso's wings and sweet and sour wings simply by subbing in a sauce I happened to have in the pantry. Experiment and have fun. Chicken wings are so cheap there's no reason not to serve a giant plate of these at your next party.

Now, onto the recipe:

BBQ Wings and Pareve Ranch Dressing

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a meal. Approx. 20 pieces.

2 pounds Chicken Wings (Separated into two pieces)
Salt & Pepper
3/4 cup or to taste BBQ Sauce (I prefer Char-B-Que brand)

1/2 cup Mayonnaise or Pareve Sour Cream
1/4 cup Non-Dairy Creamer or Water
1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley
pinch of Dill
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Pareve Chicken Consume Powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Use paper towels to dry your wings as much as possible. The drier they are the crisper they get. I actually like to leave mine out on the counter while the oven heats up but some people might frown at the idea of leaving chicken out at room temperature even if you're about to cook them to a very high temperature. Not me and I'm certified as a food handler.

3. Put aluminum foil in a sheet pan and place an uncoated metal cookie cooling rack inside of the sheet pan. If you don't want to make one of your cookie racks fleishig (meat) simply put wings directly onto the aluminum but they won't be as crispy. You must be absolutely certain your cooling rack has no plastic on it or you will be picking pieces of melted plastic out of your teeth for weeks. Coat with non-stick spray.

4. Place chicken wings on rack making sure to leave room between each wing to allow for good browning. Lightly salt and pepper.

5. Bake in oven for 50 minutes until golden brown. Flipping halfway through helps brown the wings evenly but be sure not to leave the oven door open while flipping. There might be some smoke as the fat renders off. Don't worry.

6. Upon removing from oven move wings immediately into a bowl and toss with BBQ sauce.

7. Construct the dressing by mixing the mayo with all the herbs and spices.

8. Once mixed slowly add water/non-dairy creamer until the dipping sauce reaches desired consistency. If you add too much at once you will have a hard time mixing the liquid in and your sauce can get lumpy. If it does get lumpy use a whisk and mix until smooth.

9. Eat with your hands.

Variation: Pareve Buffalo Wing Sauce

1/2 cup Hot Sauce (Frank's Red Hot Sauce is traditional and has a hechsher)

1/3 cup Margarine

1. Melt margarine in microwave then mix in hot sauce. Use instead of BBQ sauce in recipe above


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Hanukkah is over, but there is a Jewish tradition of eating cheese on Hanukkah, which has brought us some great things to eat all year long. Since the eighth grade Confirmation class is doing a unit on Jews and Food, I taught them about the tradition of eating cheese on Hanukkah, and we made Rugelach, a half-moon cream-cheese cookie.

The eating of dairy foods, especially cheese, on Hanukkah is a minor custom that has its roots in the story of Judith. In the book of Judith we are told that Holofernes, an Assyrian general, had surrounded a small Jewish village as part of his campaign to conquer Judea. When the water supply of the village was cut off, Judith went to the Assyrian camp and pretended to surrender. She met Holofernes, who fell in love with her. She went back to his tent with him, where she fed him cheese and wine. When he fell into a drunken sleep, Judith beheaded him and escaped from the camp, taking the severed head with her. When Judith got back to the village and told the Jews what she had done, they launched a successful attack on the Assyrians, saving the village.

In the Middle Ages it was traditional to eat cheesecakes at Hanukkah in commemoration of the cheese Judith gave to General Holofernes. Today, many people serve rugelach at Hanukkah in memory of Judith.

Crescent pastries were first eaten in Austria-Hungary in the 1600s and 1700s. Jews in Austria-Hungary made crescent pastries called Rugelach, which is a Yiddish word meaning "little twists."

Here is a recipe for Rugelach which you will enjoy at Hanukkah and all year.


Rugelach (Dairy)


6 ounces block cream cheese
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream

Cut cream cheese into tablespoon-size pieces and let it soften at room temperature.

Cut butter into small pieces of about ½ tablespoon and refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine flour, salt and butter in food processor and process with brief pulses until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add cream cheese and sour cream, distributing evenly over mixture.

Process with brief pulses until dough just holds together. If dough is too dry add 1-2 tsps water. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, press it together into a ball, and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.


1. ½ cup raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ cup sugar, 1 cup jam (leave out the raisins if you don’t like them, or substitute chopped nuts)

2. ½ cup mini chocolate chips, ½ cup cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa), ¼ cup melted butter.


Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare an egg wash by mixing one egg and a tablespoon of water, set aside.

Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll one piece of dough into a circle, about 9 inches.

For the first filling, brush with jam, leaving a 2 inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

For the second filling, brush with melted butter, leaving a 2 inch border around the edges. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Push chocolate chips gently into the dough.

The next step is to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Then roll each wedge up from the wide end to the point, pinching the point to seal.

Place on baking sheets with points of the triangles facing down, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Curve each into a crescent.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Refrigerate 20 minutes before baking.

Remove from the refrigerator and spread egg wash on each cookie and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake about 25 minutes or until light golden. Let stand 1 minute, then put on racks to cool.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kiddushim Every Week!

Adat Ari El President Sandy Samuels has many goals for our synagogue. The underlying theme of some of these goals: how does Adat Ari El provide or aid in the congregants connection to God and a connection to each other?

Over the past several months, Sandy has been working closely with Sisterhood President, Karen Gale and Sisterhood's Service Vice President, Marla Feinberg to provide kiddushim every Shabbat that there is not a Mitzvah kiddush hosted. Therefore, every Shabbat congregants will pray together and then connect as they share a Shabbat meal.

Sisterhood's kiddushim menu includes challah, green salad, dessert and of course, tuna salad! Sandy invited all the past synagogue presidents and Executive Committe to kick-off the first of these Shabbat kiddushes with a Tuna Salad Making Night. Sandy superbly supervised the tuna salad preparation. He even showed off some knife skills in the proper technique to created the perfect size chopped celery. The tuna salad team flaked the tuna, chopped the celery, grated the hard-boiled eggs, seasoned and bound it all together with the mayonnaise. Sandy then did the dishes!

Come pray and then watch Sandy and team's tuna salad disappear this Shabbat.

Sandy showing celery chopping techniques

The team in action

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome Kensington Caterers!

Last night, we were treated to a wonderful evening. We joined together at the annual Women's League Torah Fund Dinner to support Torah Fund and honor Arlene Bloom and Ruth Devine with the Chayai Olam and Kol Ishah Awards, respectfully. The prelude to the programming was an incredible inaugural dinner catered by Kensington Caterers. Kensington impressed those in attendance with beautiful presented and flavorful food.

Kensington Caterers Kosher division recently partnered with Adat Ari El to provide "exceptional kosher cuisine" using the highest quality of ingredients. They delivered what they promised. Beyond their kosher division, Kensington also manages on-site food service at the Rose Garden Cafe inside the California Science Center, as well as the Bullocks Tea Room in the Southwestern Law School.

Richard Mooney, co-owner, graciously agreed to give us the recipe to their Apple Cider and Orange dressing that accompanied the artfully presented salad (pictured below). The salad consisted of romaine hearts, placed within dark pumpernickel bread with grilled Granny Smith apples, pumpernickel croutons, candied almonds and Apple Cider and Orange dressing.

Welcome to the Adat Ari El community and we look forward to many meals to come!

To book Kensington Caterers for your next event or party, or view a sample list of kosher menu items, please visit Kensington's website: http://www.kensingtoncaterers.com/kosher.html

Apple Cider and Orange Dressing (Pareve)

1/3 cup Cider Vinegar (unfiltered)
½ cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Finely Minced Shallot
1 tablespoon Honey
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ of a Granny Smith Green Apple, finely minced
Fresh chives

In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except olive oil and fresh apple.

Add the olive oil slowly while beating to create an emulsion.

Adjust seasoning as desired, adding more salt and/or pepper.

Add minced fresh apple to dressing.

Fresh chives can be added if desired.