Hurricane Sandy reserves.

The Whole Kitchen

It’s no shock to any of my friends that I ve been pretty low energy and run down the last several months. Stress has been slowly eating at me, and the lack of a real vacation since last Christmas has me feeling a little dry and crispy at the edges. I am yearning for this week s Thanksgiving holiday, and can t wait for 4 days of laziness, cooking and relaxing at home.

I adore the foods, traditions and feeding the people I love on Turkey Day, but this year abdicating all responsibility to my aunt, uncle & cousins in the burbs sounds like bliss. I’ll whip up a little gluten-free something to bring along, but this year, I’m kicking back and relaxing. Ahhhh.

Last month, Shauna wrote a post where she shared how she d been feeling tired, and slightly off. She learned that she needed to give up…

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Orange Scented Banana Walnut Blueberry Muffins

I don’t like to bake but every time I make something amazing, like these muffins, I think just maybe I could become a baker.  I started out with a pretty ordinary recipe for banana bread and decided I didn’t like much of it.  So, I opened by fridge and found a pint of blueberries that needed to be used in addition to my mushy bananas and some clementines hiding and the back and came up with this recipe that’s great for breakfast or dessert.

You Will Need

4 Over-Ripe Bananas Whipped by hand (about 1 1/2 cups)

About 1 cup blueberries

Zest of 2 clementines

1 cup walnuts chopped

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar ( I used unbleached white)

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1 stick butter plus extra for muffin tin

Tools Needed

large bowl

2 cup measuring cup

muffin tin

electric hand mixer

wood spoon

kitchen timer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Start in a large bowl and mix sugar with butter and zest with the electric hand mixer.  When the mixture is fluffy add eggs one at a time until smooth.   I personally don’t like to dirty more bowls than necessary so I put the flour and other dry ingredients into a large measuring cup instead of a separate bowl.  Which ever you prefer add vanilla and spices, and the dry ingredients to the egg sugar ingredients slowly until well incorporated.

At this point I switched to a wooden spoon instead of the mixer so I didn’t over work the batter. 

Fold in the bananas, blue berries, and the walnuts until just incorporated.

Use a large tablespoon to spoon out one tablespoon each into tins and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops have puffed up and the sides are golden and slightly pull away from the tin.

Take out of tins to cool and store in air tight container.

I think this would be good with apples and pears for early spring and in the summer it would be tasty with raspberries and lemon zest.  You can make this recipe Kosher Dairy, which mine is, by making sure the items are kosher.

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Banana-Blueberry Smoothie with Ginger and Pineapple

cure for a rainy NYC day-smoothie!

I’ve been doing this juicing thing lately.  In Union Square at Coffee Shop in NYC there is a little Jus Stand attached to the bustling diner known for it’s Irving Farms coffee and waitress/models.  I’ve been drinking a lot of spinach juices usually infused with Carrots and Apples or with Grapefruit and Ginger.  I have dreams of getting a juicer, especially now since I will actually have counter top space and two, count ’em two pantries. 

Until the move and the saving and spending of money on more important appliances, like the KitchenAide Standup Mixer in Chrome, I will be making smoothies.  Like the one I made this morning.  Which is pretty good, but a little stringy because of the Ginger.  I would suggest substituting a candied ginger that’s unsweetened or maybe adding ginger powder?  I added Flax seeds as well but any protein substitute could be used.  I didn’t add a sweetener because I used over-ripe bananas but you can use honey or agave sweeter if you wish.

You will Need

1 Over ripe banana

6 oz Fresh blueberries

1/4 cup frozen pineapples

1 inch cube of ginger grated.  (I didn’t do this so maybe you won’t have the string issue)

1-2 large tablespoons (the big spoons not the measuring spoons) of  plain Greek yogurt.  I used Chobani because it’s Kosher.

Add Yogurt and over-ripe banana to the blender and blend until banana is smooth.  With blender running add remaining fruit and ginger and blend until the consistency is smooth.


This Recipe is Kosher (Dairy), Vegetarian, and Easy.

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Erika’s (and Grandma Valerie’s) Matzo Ball Soup

You will need

1 1/3 cup Matzo Meal

4 Large Carrots

4 Celery Stalks

1 Large Onion

5 Cloves of Garlic

1 small can of Stewed Tomatoes

3 eggs

1/3 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)

1 tbsp baking powder

Whole Pepper Corns




Salt and Pepper

3.5-4lb Whole Kosher Chicken

Cheesecloth or Canvas Spice Bag

~Roughly cut the vegetables into large chunks and set aside

~Rinse Chicken and place in Large stock pot.  Add Chopped Vegetables to the pot and fill with cold water until the chicken is covered.  Cutting off a small handful of dill, 4 sprigs of rosemary, and a handful of parsley add the herbs to the cloth bag and tie tightly.  Place the bag in the water using a spoon to push it down into the water, rather than floating on top.

~Over medium-high heat bring to a rolling bowl to make stock (approximately 2 hours)

~Around hour 1 open the pot to check the chicken.  If you’ve got schmaltz (this is Grandma Valerie’s method) you know it’s time to start making your matzo balls.  Schmaltz is the rendered chicken fat that appears at the top of the boiling water.

~To make your Matzo Balls crack the eggs in a medium bowl and beat well.  Beat in schmaltz and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and ground pepper along with the baking powder.  Fold in the Matzo Meal and stir well until well blended.  Cover with Plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes (Thanks 2nd Ave Deli and Grandma Valerie!)

~At 2 Hours your chicken should be cooked through.  Using a colander carefully pour the stock into another large stock pot so that the chicken, herbs, and veggies are contained and the stock is reserved in the clean pot.  Taste the stock and adjust the seasoning and bring the stock to a simmer over medium-low heat.  You may notice there is still schmaltz in the stock, skim off the fat and keep stock at a low simmer.

~Break off approximately 5-8 whole parsley leaves and set aside near a working surface.  Remove the matzo meal from the refrigerator and wet your hands.  Using a small ice cream scooper or tea spoon spoon matzo meal into one hand sort of flat and place a parsley leave in the middle.  Form the meal into a ball approximately 1 inch in diameter.  Don’t worry if they’re a little large but know they will double in size when they cook.  Continue forming balls with the parsley center until you’ve used all of the meal. 

My matzo balls with the parsely center

~Carefully drop the matzo balls into the simmering stock and bring heat to medium.  Cover the pot.  Simmer matzo balls for 25 minutes.  The Parsley Center adds a little extra to the Matzo Balls, thanks to Mirs’ Grandmother Valerie for that addition to the recipe.

The Jury is still out on what goes in Matzo Ball Soup.  For me personally, I like to break off pieces of the chicken and chop up the carrots and celery to add to the stock and matzo balls.  Other just like the Matzo balls with stock, still others like small pasta with the Matzo Balls and stock.  Whichever way you like it, do it!  Just enjoy!

**You can make this recipe vegetarian by making a vegetable stock.  If I were making vegetable stock I would double the garlic, carrots and celery.  Add 3-4 onions, and for fun possibly radishes, leeks, or parsnips.  Doublee the herbs as well to get a great flavor.  Instead of schmaltz use Seltzer for the matzo balls.

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Matzo Ball Soup Try

Mmmmmatzo Balls

One of the things that every Jew must know, according to my girlfriend, is how to make Bubbe’s Matzo Ball Soup.  Mirs grandmother Valerie passed on her Matzo ball soup recipe to Mirs’ mother, a Jew by Choice.  Mirs’ mother gave the recipe to her and now, Mirs has passed it to me.  Today, as I’m writing this, an entire chicken is boiling in a large stock pot with a cheesecloth bag filled with rosemary (my addition) parsley and dill.  There’s a large onion roughly chopped, 3 heirloom carrots, and celery as well as a can of stewed tomatoes and a pinch of sugar.   The apartment smells heavenly.

I’m only making chicken broth, after all, the real work will come in a few hours when I start making the actual matzo balls.  For me, the matzo balls are my favorite part of matzo ball soup.  And in my two years of dating a nice Jewish girl I’ve had my share of matzo balls and I can honestly say that not all matzo balls are created equal.  The Matzo balls at 2nd Avenue Deli, for instance are really great but not as amazing as the Matzo Balls at Sarge’s Deli a few blocks away.  Mirs’ matzo balls are insanely light and fluffy and my good friend Rachel makes a pretty bangin’ matzo ball.  Obviously the broth needs to be amazing but for me, the Matzo balls are what makes the soup fantastic.

So here I am, listening to Grandma Valerie’s Matzo ball soup recipe being rattled off to me trying to put it to memory.  “You start the matzo balls when the schmaltz rises.”  I got a tip from 2 Jewish friends, and the debate between seltzer and schmaltz is still raging (we used schmaltz because that’s how Grandma Valerie does it and the 2nd Ave Deli recipe does too)  They’re resting in the fridge for a half hour and in about 2 hours I will have successfully made matzo ball soup! 

The picture above is not my own, but by tonight I will post my recipe, borrowed in bits and pieces, of course, from 2nd Ave Deli, Rachel, Grandma Valerie, and Mirs.

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NYC Farmer’s Markets in the Fall

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, I have.  I just haven’t been posting pictures or recipes.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of food I’ve cooked and food I love to photograph and I promise to be more diligent about posting recipes.

Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes, my favorite thing to make


Fettucine Alfredo with Mushrooms, Brocolli, and Fresh Peas

Curried Lentils in a Squash cup with Panko

Yogurt Cake with Warm Berries



Root Vegetables


Beautiful Carrots




Purple Brocolli

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Winter Squash Soup spiked with Whisky

Winter Squash Soup with Whisky

For this recipe you will Need

4-5 Small-Medium Winter Squash varieties, except Spaghetti Squash or 2-3 Large varieties

3-5 cloves of garlic

1/2 quart milk

Olive Oil or butter




Mild Curry (Spicy would be nice as well)

Maker’s Mark (or your favorite Whisky or Bourbon)

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack to middle of oven. 

Mix 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, and ginger.

Cut the squash and scoop out seeds and place them cut side up on a baking sheet

Using the oil liberally coat the flesh. 

Using a spoon, sprinkle the spice mixture over the squash so that they are evenly covered and put the baking rack, uncovered in the oven for approximately 1 hour or until the flesh is fork-tender.  With about 15 minutes remaining add garlic cloves to the baking pan with the skin on.

Roasted Squash

Using an oven mit scoop out flesh and pooled oil into a blender with the quart of milk, the warm garlic and blend until a smooth consistency.  I made mine on the thicker side but if you like a thinner soup, add more milk.  When the consistency of your liking is achieved pour the soup into a stock pot.  Add 1 teaspoon of Maker’s Mark or your favorite Whiskey, salt and pepper to taste, and warm over low heat.  Be careful not to let the soup bubble.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!

This recipe is Vegetarian, and can be made Kosher (Dairy)

You can substitute Milk for SoyMilk Creamer or Vegetable stock to make Vegan, adjust salt and pepper accordingly.

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