All posts by AliBabka


Macarons…one of the hardest things I have ever made, yet made to look so easy.   A few weeks ago I embarked on a macaron challenge.  I had all I needed…almond flour, egg whites, powdered sugar and a recipe by Chef Thomas Keller.
Painstakingly, I measured out each ingredient on a scale by grams.  I made a meringue using heat for the first time and was super excited when I piped out my first beautiful circles of macaron cookie.  I popped them in the oven and waited.  They looked like they were rising!  When I heard the alarm go off that they were done, I took the macarons out of the oven and placed them on a cooling rack.  My excitement quickly diminished when they began to flatten…and stick to the parchment paper.  Upset, but hope yet not dwindled, I embarked on another recipe.
I watched the YouTube recipe video numerous amounts of time until I perfected each step in my head.  I had in mind to make mint cookies with a chocolate ganache.  As I waited for the cookies to come out of the oven I made the ganache.  There was no way in my mind that these weren’t going to turn out perfect!  As you can probably guess, they turned out less then perfect.  Lopsided to be exact.  I tried the recipe yet again…and they were lopsided…yet again.
I read and watched youtube videos and blogs about possible reasons why I failed at making these cookies.  But, alas, I could not figure it out!
My spirits were down and my motivation needed to be rejuvenated.  I gave it a few days and vented to some friends of mine until one piped up and said their mother was a macaron genius.  I needed her to teach me!  Yesterday, she came in and showed me and my friend the ropes.  They turned out PERFECT!  Thank you to my friend Sara Scheinbach and her mother-in-law Judy Scheinbach for taking time out of their busy days to show me how it’s done.


Those light and airy cookies are just a whip of an egg white away and I can proudly say that I can now make macarons!  The world is whole again!macarons1macarons2

French Macarons (Credit: San Antonio Cooking School) 
Makes about 45 Filled Cookies

1 1/4 Cup (120 Grams) Almond Flour, ground up in a food processor
1 2/3 Cup (200 Grams) Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup (100 Grams) Large Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons (35 Grams) Granulated Sugar
Food Coloring (optional) – a few drop is all you need

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  You can make your own macaron stencil by placing the cap of a gallon of water or milk and tracing 20 circles with a pencil or marker.  Place the stenciled macaron paper another piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  After you are done making your cooking with the stencil, simply slide out the stencil and use it for additional cookie sheets.
Have a pastry bag fitted with a1/4 inch plain tip ready.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a bowl.  You will have leftover almond clumps.  Dispose of those clumps or sprinkle over yogurt.

In another bowl, whip egg whites and salt.  Begin whipping on medium speed until foamy.  Gradually increase the speed to medium high and slowly stream in the granulated sugar.  Whipping until the whites form a stiff peak when lifted.  Fold in the food coloring.

Add about 1/4 of the dry ingredients and fold in.  Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients in two to three more equal additions.  Fold until the dry ingredients are well mixed and the batter is smooth and forms a quickly dissolving peak when tapped with your fingertip.

Transfer the batter to the piping bag.  Hold the bag perpendicular to the parchment paper about 1/4 inch above.  Use even pressure to squeeze out enough batter to form a 1 inch circle.  Pipe all of the cookies.

Lift each baking sheet about one inch front the counter and drop it to knock the air bubbles out of the cookie batter.  Let the batter rest for 15 minutes at room temperature allowing the tops to dry slightly.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time on the center rack for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops are smooth and just firm to the touch. Cool.

Carefully peel the paper away from the cookies and place them back on the wire racks until you are ready to fill or store them.

Pipe a small amount of filling onto the bottom center of a cookie.  Gently press the bottom of another cookie of the same size onto the filling, allowing the filling to spread just to the edges.  Repeat with all of the cookies. Can be made one day in advance.  They can also be frozen until ready to enjoy.

m5 m4 m6





Kosherfest is one of my favorite events to attend each year! This year I was not able to go because I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my babybabka! On behalf of AliBabka, I sent my two trusty babkas, Enon Avital and Shalom Silbermintz, to scout out and search for the best and most interesting products Kosherfest had to offer.

Here are their top picks:

Frozen fruit treats that taste like real food, because, you guessed it: they’re made of fruit and nothing else. The texture of these fruit pops was perfectly smooth, and we went back for seconds.

Bootlegger Gin from Prohibition Distillery
Newly certified kosher, this gin has a very clean finish, and a flavor profile with all the right notes. Their vodka is nice too, and the jury is still out on the small-batch bourbon.
As good as ever, and now all natural (the spicy jerky was Enon’s favorite), with their line of beef sticks slated for the all-natural makeover sometime in 2016 (Pepper beef stick was shalom’s meat of choice).

A new service for ordering kosher food anywhere. They take the hassle of hunting down food while traveling, and are basically a global GrubHub/Seamless for ready-made kosher food delivery.

Another newly-kosher product, great for topping ice creams and cakes, or just eating alone, like we did.
From the French line of truly magnificent chalav yisrael cheeses, this one is a must try.
Hevron Heights Isaac’s Ram Cabernet Sauvignon
We’re big fans of cabs because of their wide appeal, and at the price point of this bottle, we expect it to become a regular on our shabbat tables.
Enon Avital is also a food lettering artist, and was posting #LiveFromKosherFest:

Decorating for the Perfect Hanukkah Dinner Party

Guest Blogger: Kaitlin Krull from
Opening up your home during the holiday season is an important part of Jewish tradition. Celebrating Hanukkah with a family meal and gift giving is about more than just good food. At Modernize, we understand that ambience and decor are just as important as the food you serve during a dinner party. If you want to host a Hanukkah party with a creative twist, here are some simple tricks to make your celebration extraordinary.
Color scheme
If you want to stick with Hanukkah tradition, a color scheme of blue, silver, and gold or yellow is the way to go. You can easily tweak the traditional hues and choose a combination of dark and light blues and various metallics to take your party decorations from run of the mill to stellar.
For a more laid back decoration option, choose cutlery and table settings that match the color scheme without going too far with the theme. This understated dining room setting is perfect for a quiet Hanukkah meal.
via Modernize
For those who like to push the boat out, go all out with your color scheme, choose a bolder, clearly Hanukkah themed table setting, like this vision in metallic, blue, and white (complete with Star of David shaped placecards).
via HGTV
Decorative accessories
Once you’ve decided on your dinner party color scheme, it’s time to accessorize your dining room. Décor is often about the little details, so choose unique, creative table settings, centerpieces, and accessories that will wow your guests this Hanukkah.
     Get creative with your menorah by making your own out of votive holders, wooden blocks, or            even salvaged wood. This simple branch menorah from the ever-crafty Martha Stewart is designed      to be a stunning centerpiece or sideboard focal point and takes virtually no time to complete with        maximum effect.
Candles are excellent dinner party accessories, functioning as brilliant table centerpieces or alternative lighting if you’re going for a softer glow. Luminaries and candle gardens are perfect for Hanukkah, as it is the Festival of Lights, so find as many candles as you can (or make your own from beeswax!) and bring them together to make your party brighter than any other.
     Fairy lights or garlands
If you want to decorate for your Hanukkah party with a Festival of Lights theme but worry about open flames and other hazards surrounding candles, strings of fairy lights make a stunning alternative. If you want the effect with no lighting altogether, make your own plastic mirror effect garland from metallic gelt pieces.
          Gift table
A true Hanukkah celebration consists of not only celebratory meals and prayers over candlelight, but also presents. If your guests are bringing gifts to share over the eight nights of Hanukkah, use this opportunity to designate and decorate a sideboard or special gift table in your dining room. If you’re running out of room on your dining table for the menorah or want to showcase a floral or other centerpiece, place it proudly among your gifts and other handmade decorations.
     Decorative bulbs
Although it’s Hanukkah in the Jewish calendar, if you’ve walked the aisles of your local stores during the holiday season you won’t be able to miss the Christmas decorations for sale virtually everywhere. Take advantage of traditional Christmas décor by purchasing blue and metallic baubles and bulbs and making your own hanging decorations. It will save you countless hours trying to track down Hanukkah-specific decorations and increase your DIY prowess instantly.

The Best Pumpkin Pie

I think we all can agree that Thanksgiving is not complete until you have had a bite of pumpkin pie.  As much as I tried though, I was never satisfied with the parve pumpkin pies!  That’s when I took matters into my own hands.  I looked and tried tons of different recipes until I came across this gem! 

This recipe for pumpkin pie is adapted from a dairy version in Good Housekeeping.  I used my usual crust recipe, which also happens to be the easiest, quickest and flakiest crust I have ever made! This pie remains a favorite in my family and is requested every year.  I am sure it will become a staple in your home! 

 Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Makes 8- 10 Servings
Best Pie Crust In The World (below)
16 Oz. Pumpkin
12 Oz. Soymilk
2 Eggs
¾ C. Brown Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon
½ t. Ginger
¼ t. Nutmeg
½ t. Salt
Prepare dough as directed.  Roll out dough and line a greased 9 inch pie plate. Preheat oven to 425.  Prick holes in the pie crust with a fork.  Line the pie shell with foil.  Bake 15 minutes, remove foil and bake 5-10 more minutes, until golden.  If crust puffs up during baking press it to the pie plate with the back of a spoon.  Turn oven to 375.  In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and beat until well mixed.  Pour it into the pie shell and bake for 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  Cool and serve with whipped cream.
Pie Crust
Makes 1 Pie Crust
1 ¼ C. Flour
¼ t. Salt
6 T. Earth Balance
3-5 T. Ice Water
Process the flour, salt and earth balance in a blender or with a pastry blender.  Sprinkle in ice water till a ball is formed.    

Pumpkin Pie 2


Udon’t You Wanna Make This Recipe

I am always looking for new, interesting and healthy side dishes or meals to make for Shabbat or the weekday.  A lot of my blogging inspiration comes from whatever is in my fridge or pantry.  I technically have a Chopped competition with myself every time I come up with a new blog post. 
I recently bought these huge containers of natural peanut butter from Costco.  They are my new favorite peanut butter because they simply contain peanut and salt.  They also stay super creamy, whereas most natural peanut butters tend to harden and ends up more like a chunky and dry mess.  

I love peanut noodles, but most recipes are not healthy.  By using the natural peanut butter I have more control on the additional sweeteners and sugars I choose to add.  You can either serve this is a side dish or throw in salmon or chicken to make a complete meal!  Either way, this recipe is sure to please the palate and your waistline! 
Peanut Noodles 1

Peanut Udon Noodles with Sautéed Red Cabbage

Makes About 4-6 Servings
9.5 oz. Udon Noodles
2 C. Shredded Red Cabbage
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
½ C.  Natural Peanut Butter (peanuts and salt)
¼ C. Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce/Tamari
1/3 C. Rice Vinegar
¼ C. Honey
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
1 tsp. Ginger, minced
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
5 Scallions, cut on bias
½ C. Carrots, grated
1 Tbs. Sesame Seeds, garnish
3 Radishes, thinly sliced, garnish
Make the udon  noodles according the package directions.  Rinse and put to the side in a big bowl. Saute the red cabbage in the oil for about 10 minutes just until the cabbage starts to wilt.  In a small bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.  Combine the noodles, red cabbage, scallions and carrots.  Add the peanut dressing and mix until thoroughly combined.


Serve room temperature or cold in a big serving bowl or individual bowls and garnish with sesame seeds and radish slices.

Peanut Noodles 2

Kick It Up A Notch

I love dips! They are mostly packed with protein and make a very tasty snack, appetizer or side dish, plus they are so simple to make and take seconds to whip up.  This black bean dip took me three minutes to make (seriously, I timed it)!  All you need is a food processor and the ingredients listed below and you are in business! 

The dip has a nice kick from the red onion and is amazing to pair with crackers and vegetables.  This dip is also fantastic spread on a wrap or sandwich as a flavorful and healthier alternative to mayonnaise.   The options are endless! 

Bean Dip 2

Kicked Up Black Bean Dip

Makes About 1 Cup
¼ Small Red Onion
1 – 15 oz. Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Fresh Mint
1 tsp. Cumin
¼ tsp. Salt
Olive Oil, garnish
Mint Leaves, garnish
Red Pepper Flakes, garnish

In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients together until desired consistency is reached.  Place in a bowl and garnish with mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Serve cold.

Black Bean Dip 1

Have A Rosy Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is full of excitement and anticipation, but can be overwhelming and daunting with shopping lists and menus.  My goal, as a personal chef, is to make my clients’ lives simpler and less stressful by helping them with tips and techniques to conquer the most overwhelming tasks during this upcoming holiday season (and every holiday for that matter)…COOKING!  
If you don’t live in the Ohio area and cannot hire me to make your Rosh Hashana, I would like to provide simple recipes for my readers to jump in and out of the kitchen.  I love veal and was so excited to order rose vealpepper steaks from Grow and Behold to create this one pot wonder.  This specific veal is ridiculously tender and flavorful and takes literally minutes to prepare!  If you want to be in and out of the kitchen and have a great main dish for Rosh Hashana, this recipe is the way to go.    

And just so you remember…Grow and Behold meat is kosher, raised on a pasture and better than any organic meat! They use NO hormones and NO antibiotics and their sausages and hot dogs have NO nitrates or preservatives. They visit all of their farms and work directly with the growers to ensure that Grow and Behold standards for animal welfare and pasture management are met. 
Use the code “alibabka15” and get $15.00 off your order of $100 or more! Your taste buds will never be the same! (expires 9/30/2015)
Veal G and B 2
Rose Veal Pepper Steak with Glazed Apples
1 lb. Rose Veal Pepper Steak
1/4 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup Vegetable, Chicken or Beef Broth
2 tsp. Minced Garlic
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Whiskey
1 Gala Apple, cored/de-seeded and cut in half and thinly sliced.
In a cast iron or non-stick pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Coat the veal in flour until fully covered.  Shake off excess flour and place each piece carefully in the hot oil.  Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove veal from hot oil and place on a separate plate.  Turn the stove down to medium and pour in vegetable broth.  Using a spatula, scrape all of the brown flour bits off the bottom and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the garlic, brown sugar and whiskey and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Add the veal back into the pan and sprinkle in the apple slices.  Stir to coat the apple and veal in the sauce and simmer for two minutes. Serve hot.

Veal G and B