All posts by AliBabka

Bloody Good Hamantashen!

Purim is all about drinking and hamantashen, and another Purim means another cocktail hamantashen!  Check out the other cookies I have developed over the past few years by clicking HERE.  The development of these cookies definitely taps into my creative side when trying to construct a liquid cocktail in a solid cookie.   Add more or less Tabasco sauce to the filling depending on how spicy you would like your cookie. 

Bloody Mary Hamantashen
Makes 2 Dozen

Sundried Tomato Cookie Dough:

1 Cup Earth Balance or Butter
½ Cup Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
2 Tbs.  Sundried Tomatoes
1 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
½ tsp. Salt
2 Cups Flour
¼ Cup Cornmeal
2 Pieces of Celery

Place the Earth Balance or butter, sugar, egg yolks, sundried tomatoes, Tabasco sauce and salt in the food processor.  Pulse until it all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Place the flour and cornmeal in the food processor and pulse until the mixture forms a ball.  Remove dough from food processor and roll into a 3 to 4 inch wide cylinder.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

As the dough chills, make the filling


Tomato Filling:
1 – 14.5 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes
3 Tbs. Tomato Paste
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 ½ tsp. Horseradish
1 tsp. Tabasco Sauce, or more to taste
½ tsp. Worchester
2 Tbs. Vodka

Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan.  Turn the stove to medium high heat.  When the mixture comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and stir every few minutes until the filling becomes thickened, about 10 minutes.  Be careful to watch it so it does not burn.  Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking pan with parchment paper.   Take dough out of the refrigerator and cut into 24 pieces, about ½ inch thick.  Place on parchment paper and flatten with your fingertips or palm of your hand till the dough is 3 ½ inches in wide.   Place about a teaspoon of filling in each circle and pinch the cookie into three corners to form a hamantashen.   Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the dough begins to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Cut the celery into tiny pieces, about 1 ½ inches long and 1 cm wide.  Place a piece of celery on each cookie and serve.

The recipe yields extra filling which may be frozen and used for more cookies at a later time or used as a sauce for pasta or chicken.


Open Face Dumplings!

I have been craving Chinese food almost everyday for the past week and finally gave in and made these amazing open face dumplings! I love scallion pancakes (who doesn’t love fried dough?) and I am obsessed with Asian spiced beef.  The scallion pancakes have a soft texture on the sides and a crunch from being fried on the bottom.  The meat is spiced perfectly and the sweet and sour sauce just enhances everything about this dish.  Total winner and so excited to share this recipe with you!  

Open Face Beef Dumplings with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Serves 4; 2 Dumplings Each

Scallion Pancakes
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose White Flour
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Bunch Scallions, Chopped

Combine the flour and the water and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.  This takes some time by hand, but the process can be done quicker and cleaner by using a stand mixer. Let rest for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the beef filling.

Beef Filling
1 1/2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 Onion, Finely Diced
1 Egg
1 Tbs. Honey
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. Rice Vinegar
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
2 Tsp. Ginger, minced
2 Tsp. Garlic, minced
1/4 Cup Water
Salt and Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

On a floured surface, cut the scallion pancake ball into 8 equal parts.   Roll each dough one at a time.  Starting with the first piece of dough and using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 6 inch circle.  lighting brush the top with oil, 1 Tbs. of scallions and a sprinkle of salt.  Fold in half and press into a ball so no scallions can escape.  Roll the ball of dough again into a 6 inch circle and put to the side.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

In a nonstick skillet, heat up 2 Tbs. of Oil.  Take a scallion pancake  and place 1/2 – 3/4 Cup of the meat mixture inside.  Pinch the sides of the pancake to cover the sides of the meat mixture, leaving the top exposed.  Put to the side and finish filling the rest of the dough.  Place the pancakes in the hot oil, not letting them touch, and fry for about 2 minutes, just until dough starts to turn brown and fried. 

Being VERY CAREFUL, place a lid or piece of foil securely on the top of the pan with the dumplings. Make sure the temperature on the stove is at low and very slowly pour in 1/4 cup of water lifting the lid up slightly so as not to get burned by the oil.  Cover immediately and turn to medium low.  Steam for  15-20 minutes until the meat is completely cooked through.  Drain the dumplings and serve warm with sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
1/4 Cup Ponzu
3 Tbs. Honey

Combine all in a small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce is reduced to 1/4 Cup.  Serve warm.

Not Your Average Potato Latke

If you are looking for an amazing twist on a classic potato pancake, this is the recipe you will want to make! These can also be served as an appetizer before a Shabbos Hanukkah meal or as an accompaniment to any meal throughout the year! I used red potatoes because their starch content is much higher and water content much lower, resulting in a crispy and not too liquidy batter…perfect for frying!  The recipe was featured in this months Joy of Kosher magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine at (Hint: Makes a great present for Hanukkah)!

Asian Mok Crab Red Potato Latkes
Makes About 2 Dozen Latkes
1 Pound of Imitation Crab, shredded with fingers
1 lb. Red Potatoes, Shredded
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. Old Bay Spice
2 Eggs
3 Tbs. Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
2 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Bunch Scallions, chopped
2 Tbs. Cilantro, minced
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Canola Oil
Mix together all the ingredients just until incorporated.  Turn the stove on to medium-high.  Place a pan on the stove and fill with about a 1/2 Inch of oil.  When hot (but not smoking) drop a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture into the oil and flatten with a spatula.  Fry on one side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, repeat on the other side.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. Serve warm with Garlic-Ginger Tehina .
Garlic-Ginger Tehina
1/2 Cup Tahini paste
1/2 Cup Water
2 tsp. Ginger, minced
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp. Maple Syrup
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Mix all together until incororapted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with latkes.

A Funny Sounding Dessert

When I was in culinary school we made amazing looking and tasting desserts! Because of the un-kosher status of culinary school, I would go home, mouth still watering, and replicate these desserts using my kosher kitchen and ingredients.  One of my all time favorite was the frangipane.  I love desserts with nuts!  I adapted this recipe by making the crust out of nuts and in turn making this dessert gluten free!
Your food processor will be your best friend in this recipe, making the frangipane only minutes for you to prepare.  *You can also substitute any nut paste for the almond paste.

Almond Frangipane
2 Cups Almonds
1/2 Cup Pecans or Cashews
6 Tbs. Earth Balance
1/3 C. Sugar

1 – 6 Oz Container Almond Paste*
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1 1/2 Tbs. Rum
3 Tbs. Earth Balance

Fruit of your choice: 5 Plums, 2 Handfuls of Grapes, 2 Handfuls of Raspberries, 3-4 Pears, 3-4 Apples, etc.

Preheat oven to 400.  Pulse the ingredients for the crust in a food processor until it forms a soft but crumbly dough. Press into a 9 inch springform tart pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.  Take out of oven and let cool.  Turn oven down to 375.
In the food processor add in all of the ingredients for the filling.  Process ingredients until thoroughly combined and smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary. Pour into cooled pie shell.
If using fruit with pits, slice down the middle, remove pit.  Slice each half and fan out over the filling.  If using fruit without pits, sprinkle the whole berries or grapes over the top of the filling.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the almond filling between the fruit is a nice golden brown.  Cool and serve at room temperature.

Pumpkin Pie…Thing Of The Past

Most of my cooking inspiration comes from my clients.  I ask them to tell me all of their food likes, dislikes, allergies and menu themes, and In return I give them a custom menu that is made according to all of their responses.  I was recently asked to make a pumpkin bread for a “Thanksgiving style” meal.  I thought it was a brilliant idea!  Their request pushed the bounds and reached for more than just a pumpkin pie.  
It always amazes me when a vegetable or fruit can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.  Zucchini, Carrots, Apples….the list goes on and on.  They all can be used in not only a savory recipe but in a dessert as well!  Pumpkin is another one of those versatile foods and It is perfectly showcased In this moist and beautiful pumpkin chocolate chip bread.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Makes 8 or more Servings

1 C. Sugar

½ C. Butter or Earth Balance
1 – 15 Oz. Can Pumpkin Puree
2 Eggs
½ t. salt
1 ½ C. Flour
1 t. Baking Soda
½ C. Sour Cream or Soy Milk or Almond Milk
1 t. Vanilla
½ C. Chocolate Chips, Good Quality
½ C. Chopped Walnuts (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter or Earth Balance and sugar together.  Add pumpkin puree and eggs. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and sour cream or almond/soy milk.  Stir in vanilla, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake for one hour or until tooth pick comes out clean. (Muffins = 30 minutes bake time).

Curry In The New Year

I made this dish for many clients over Rosh Hashana and got amazing reviews.  Originally, it was supposed to be served in small portions and eaten with the simanim ,but my clients and myself consumed this salad during the main course as well!  This dish is so easy to make, unbelievably flavorful and very healthy! I recommend serving this with rice and eating it for dinner any day of the week.

Black Eyed Pea Curry
1 C. Uncooked Black Eyes Peas
1 C. Water or Vegetable Stock
2 Tbsp. Oil
2 Tsp. Ginger, minced
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tsp. Brown Mustard Seeds
1 – 14.5 Oz. Canned Diced Tomatoes
1 Tsp. Ground Coriander
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 Tsp. Ground Curry
1 Tsp. Paprika
1/2 Tsp. Turmeric
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Tomato Paste 
1/4 C. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Rinse the beans and soak in cold water or 4 hours or overnight. Rinse and boil in fresh water for 30 minutes until reached desired doneness.  The beans should be soft but still hold together. 
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium low.
Fry minced jalapeno, ginger, garlic and mustard seeds on medium-low heat until the seeds start to pop.  Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin, curry, paprika, turmeric, tomato paste and salt.  Stir and  add the black eyed peas and water or vegetable stock.  Simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes on medium heat until water has evaporated and bean mixture turns thick.  Add the chopped cilantro.  The curry is best served warm or at room temperature.

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

Rosh Hashana is coming up fast and I have been thinking a lot about different recipes to post. 
My husband envisioned a recipe like this about a year ago, but never brought it to life.  His was much more complicated and involved a phyllo dough purse enveloping the apples.  I told him that was way to complicated and with all the Rosh Hashana cooking we are making and I’m sure you are as well, it was much too time consuming.  Therefore, we came up with, in essences, a meatball mixture inside of an apple.  Festive apples for Rosh Hashana, yet very practical and pretty for a meal. 

This is definitely a show stopper dish that everyone will enjoy! If you find yourself with extra meat and don’t want to fill more apples, these are great when baked as meatballs or even grilled for a nice flavorful twist on hamburger.

Beef Kofta Stuffed Apples
Makes 6-8 Servings

6-8 Gala Apples, Cut 1/2 inch off the top and core center, leaving the outside to form a cup. (reserve top and all the extra cored apple pieces)
1  Egg
½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
3 (3 tsp.) Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint, finely chopped
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
1 tsp. Ground All Spice 
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ Cup Pinenuts, toasted (optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 lb . Ground Beef

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a muffin tin.
Dice the extra insides of the apple that you cored, removing the seeds.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk egg, panko, garlic, mint, cumin, all spice, cinnamon, pinenuts, cored diced apple pieces, salt and pepper. Crumble in beef and gently mix.  Do not overwork.

Stuff the cored apple cups with the meat mixture.
Place the apples in the greased muffin tin, one apple per muffin mold. Place the top (stem and all) of each apple on top of the apple and meat cup, leaving a bit of the meat exposed.
In the preheated oven, bake the apples, uncovered for 45 minutes until they become soft and juicy.
Serve warm.

This Soup is Smokin’

Tomato soup is one of my all time favorite comfort foods.  In my opinion, comfort food needs to have the ability to be made quickly in order to eat it when you want it the most.  I know plenty of recipes for tomato soup that call for roasting them in an oven and sautéing multiple ingredients together to reach the desired flavor.  I, on the other hand, would like to keep comfort food simple.  This recipe has very few steps and ingredients. The tomatoes have their own sweetness and creaminess and therefore it takes very little to make it very delicious.  I used liquid smoke to give the tomato soup it’s signature toasty flavor….in virtually one second! 
Next time you have a craving for tomato soup (and how about some grilled cheese?!) open up a few cans or slice a few tomatoes and let your immersion blender do the rest!

Smokey Creamy Tomato Soup
Serves 4

4 Cups Tomatoes (Fresh or Diced in Can), with juices
1 – 6 Oz. Jar Tomato Paste
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbs. White Miso Paste
1/2 Tsp. Back Pepper
1 Tsp. Basil, dried
1 Cup Milk (2% or Whole)
1/4 Tsp. Liquid Smoke
Optional Toppings: Sour Cream, Bread Croutons, Arugula, Basil

Pour in a pot the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, pepper and basil.  Heat through.  When the tomatoes begin to simmer turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender or vitamix till smooth.  Add the milk and smoke and blend until desired consistency has been reached.  Ladle into bowls and garnish.  This soup may be served hot or cold.

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

I just returned back from Israel about a week ago and I have been thinking about so many wonderful Israeli dishes and food I ate on my vacation.  The one theme that keeps going through my mind is “Fresh.” Everything we ate, from vegetable and fruit, to fish, poultry and meat…it was all fresh!
We traveled all around Israel, mouth, nose and eyes wide open, experiencing as much as we could in the short amount of time we were there.  We went to two market places, one called Machane Yehuda (The center of Jerusalem) and the other Shuk HaCarmel (the center of Tel Aviv/Yaffo).  Both are filled with produce that has literally just been picked from the fields and baked goods you can smell a mile away.  In the crevices of the long rows and the aisle of little shops, lay some of the best products and produce you would ever find! We witnessed the process of making techina (tahini), freshly ground sesame seeds that were made into a paste with morter and stone, we tasted the smoothest halvah, smelled the freshly baked laffa and pita, stood mesmerized while watching our lunch of fresh pasta being kneaded, rolled out and boiled, watched and tasted fruit and vegetable juice combinations squeezed right in front of our eyes,  we were privy to see the largest collection of kosher cheeses and so much more!

This week I haven’t had one day pass without making a classic Israeli salad.  The flavor of the vegetables we have in our supermarkets don’t even compare to the flavors in Israel, but they are still delicious and tasty! 

Israel is no doubt the inspiration for this dish.  We must have eaten watermelon everyday of our trip.   The combination of tomatoes and watermelon are such a perfect match and meld so beautifully with the feta cheese, creating a beautiful and fruity salad as a snack or with fish as a main course.   I know you will enjoy this fantastically fresh salad!


Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad
6 C. Watermelon, cubed
1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 C. Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
8 Oz. Feta, crumbled
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbs. Fresh Mint, chopped (more for garnish)

Mix all the ingredients together.  Serve cold.

Asparagus…So In Right Now!

Asparagus is in season!  At least that is what all the famers markets are displaying, showing off and selling!  Now is the time to buy these stalks of deliciousness and they are at its peak just in time for the holiday of Shavuot!
I am so excited to be sharing this wonderful soup recipe with you! I love asparagus and found a fantastic sale on them the other day which made them even more irresistible to buy!  This soup is a creamy and savory experience and great served cold, which I think is a perfect way to serve soup during lunch on a very warm Shavuot day.  I made this cold asparagus soup for a 25 person party the other day and to quote the hostess it was “Absolutely amazing!”   

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Makes 10 Servings

2 Lbs. Asparagus, woody ends removed (reserve a handful of asparagus tips to roast for garnish)
4 Tbs. Unsalted Butter or Oil
2 Leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Small Idaho Potatoes, Cut into 8th’s
1 Tbs. Fresh Thyme
4 C. Vegetable Stock
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. Fresh lemon juice
Garnish: Roasted Asparagus Tips, Dill, Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400. Toss the asparagus with a little bit of oil and roast for 20-25 minutes.  Heat butter in a large pot and sauté the chopped leaks until they turn translucent and soft.  Add the fresh garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the potatoes, thyme and vegetable stock into the pot.  Bring stock to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook for another 5 minutes, until potatoes are soft.  With a food processor, immersion blender or a Vitamix (my favorite!), blend all the ingredients together until smooth.  Add the Cream, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Tastes great served warm or cold.  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, roasted asparagus tips and a sprig of dill.