Purim, the cheeriest of all Jewish holidays, begins at sundown Wednesday night (March 23). It’s when we celebrate the oppression from the evil chief minister of King Ahasuerus in Persia (more on the history here). A holiday dubbed as the “Jewish Mardi Gras”, Purim calls for lots of drinking, eating, dressing in costume and giving of food (usually sweet) gifts to others called Mishloach Manot in Hebrew. And when we celebrate with hamantaschen cookies.
When I was sixteen I had the best job ever. I worked at a Chinese restaurant delivering food while the radio blasted in my car (okay, Dad’s car), for a few hours a day on the weekends. The tips were the clincher. The people of Glendale (Queens, New York) were very generous tippers (shout out to the wonderful folks of Glendale), making my job that much sweeter; happy to deliver Chinese food with the usual abundance of fortune cookies and duck sauce tucked into their shopping bags.
If this weekend comfort food doesn’t provide any consolation from a long week, then I don’t know what will.
Can we just stop and stare for a minute?
I’m not one to initiate a stare but look at those crispy edges. And the clusters of caramelized crunchy goodness. And the specks of orange zest. YASSS. Wait until we slice… there’s an irresistible blend of citrus swirling around with vanilla and honey flavors, all infused into the most decadent custardy french toast under a golden brown exterior.
Have you ever had a Shirley Temple? It was a popular kid’s drink in the seventies and eighties made up of ginger ale and grenadine and usually the bright red dyed kind. To make things healthier I made us a homemade dye free grenadine for our pomagritas cocktail. It is so versatile and easier than you think! Use it for Tequila Sunrises, Shirley Temples (kids love it), Rum and Cokes, martinis, anything really. It takes 20 minutes to make without any of the corn syrup, dyes or preservatives like the bottled stuff and stores for over a month in the fridge.
I couldn’t be more last-minute with this being it’s Christmas week and now, only now, am I sharing this chocolate peppermint bark (!). Sigh. I know, I know… snail mail pace … but hey, the good news is this super fast & easy for your last-minute homemade gift giving. Yesss.
A possible, just maybe, Christmas week scenario: It’s Christmas week and you still have last minute gifts you need to give but you want to make them homemade because you don’t know what your dear ones would like or want because they are more of an acquaintance from work, or your hair dresser, or your super or the mailman (who always makes sure you get your packages from Amazon safely and securely); and who wants to go to the mall and look for parking for an hour when you have too many things to do before Christmas, so you search for a quick and easy food gift that doesn’t look quick and easy and all without baking a single thing because you baked enough cookies and are cookie-ed out. With that, we also need to make it gluten free, dairy free, grain free, nut free and vegan to cover all your allergen bases.
Even though we are all well past pumpkin, I’m boldly (gasp) reprising its role despite all the gingerbread and eggnog in the air.
My love of waffles is obvious – gingerbread, pumpkin spice, vanilla bacon, (posted so long ago using my iPhone 4 (yes, really) to which the photos don’t do any justice), and savory cornbread ones with fried chicken (another vintage recipe), it’s no wonder I’m inspired to try new waffle recipes.
Coming from first-generation Russian Sephardic Jew immigrant family, we didn’t have homemade fried Israeli-style “sufganiyot” jelly doughnuts. Then again, we weren’t a very traditional “Jewish-food” kind of family. Eating Russian food like plov (lamb and rice pilaf with carrots) and a savory cabbage stuffed with ground beef, instead of brisket with sweet glazed carrots was the norm at the family holiday gatherings. But I do remember my Mom buying ponchiki (Russian for doughnuts and a close cousin to the Israeli version) from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Underfilled (never enough filling) with cherry jam or vanilla creme, is how I remember them – and usually coated with sugar. Albeit untraditional with our Chanukah table, doughnuts always made their way to the table.
Hope you got to spend some quality time with loved ones and enjoyed good eats on Thanksgiving as we did. It was just last week yet feels like it was eons ago, doesn’t it? We completely stuffed ourselves with roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, butternut squash puree with homemade marshmallow fluff topping, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, roasted green beans, cornbread, dinner rolls, salad, cranberry sauce and my favorite – stuffing – also cranberry pear and pumpkin pies. If that wasn’t enough, also made peppermint brookies, for the weekend to go with hot cocoa. I dug into my plate full speed and stuffed myself so quickly that halfway through I had to take a moment of pause.
Hey there, I’m back with another pie brimming with cranberries and pears!
Cranberries are burst of color in the late fall and could not come at a better time of year. It’s one of my favorite ingredients this time of year. Just when produce is beginning to pale in color, lo and behold, the festive cranberry for cakes, cookies, muffins, jams, dressings, and of course, the iconic sauce on Thanksgiving…and pie…SO good in pie.