Category Archives: Thanksgiving

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


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).

One “Hal-a-vah” Cupcake!

As a presenter at Kosherfest for the Israel pavilion this year, I had to come up with my spin on an Israeli brunch.  I decided to focus on dessert first.  What would I create that no one else has ever done before?  As I was pondering the many delicacies I could put into action, I kept having this image of halvah (a sweet sesame confection) in my head.  That sweet, melt in your mouth, yet dry dessert I tasted in the Jerusalem market place (shuk) so many times!  I couldn’t make halvah though…that would be way to intricate for my demonstration of 5 different dishes in my meager 45 minute time slot.  
Had I ever eaten halvah in any other way than in its pure form?  Yes! Yes I had!
In Israel, around Hannukah, the streets are FILLED with the smell and aroma of sufganiyot (donuts).  They are traditionally made with jelly inside, but there is one special shop in the middle of the city that has the most unusual flavors and fillings one could ever imagine.  I happened upon it one day in the early morning (we’re talking 5 am) on the way to the Western Wall.  The sun was just starting to rise and I smelled something so amazing coming from one of the bakeries.  I peaked my head in and looked at the crazy assortment of unique flavored donuts, one of theme being halvah.  I picked the donut up, paid for it and after one bite I. Was. In. Heaven.  It was silky and sweet and totally worth waking up that early.   
That was my inspiration for this Israeli dessert!  Cupcakes are in no way, shape or form an Israeli dessert, but after all, this was MY take on an Israeli Brunch.  The addition of figs in the vanilla cupcake compliment the halvah nicely and adds a bite of texture.  I also added a bit more halvah to the top and a drizzle of silan (date honey), which happens to be the “honey” when referencing Israel as the “land of milk and honey”.  The halvah frosting is a bit heavy as a filling for the donut, but was great on top of the donut 🙂   


Dried Fig Cupcakes with Halvah Cream Cheese Frosting
(can be made parve or dairy)

Makes 24 mini cupcakes


½ C. Unsalted Butter or Earth Balance,  room temperature
2/3 C. Sugar
3 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 ½ C. Flour
1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ C. Milk or Almond Milk
½ C. Dried Figs, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Cream your butter and sugar until light and fluffy,  using electric beaters.   Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture to incorporate each egg before adding the next.  Beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients and the milk to the egg/butter mixture alternating in three additions (add in some flour, then some milk, then some flour, then some milk, then the rest of the flour) until combined. Fold in your figs and pour into the muffin cups.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.

Halvah Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 C. Butter or Earth Balance, room temperature
1/2 C. Cream Cheese or Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 C. Halvah
2-3 C. Powdered Sugar

Pinch of Salt

1 Tbs. Milk or Almond Milk
1 Tbs. Vanilla Extract

Whip the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.  Mix in the halvah.  Add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until just combined.   Add more  or less depending on desired consistency of icing. Add the salt and  continue to beat until the mixture is smooth.

Mix in the cream and vanilla on medium speed until just incorporated, and then increase to high speed until the icing is soft and fluffy.
Garnish with pistachios, candied pecans, candied walnuts, silan, figs or halva pieces

Sufganiyot (Basic Donut Recipe)
Makes about 20 donuts

1 Packet (1/4 Oz.) Yeast
1 Tbs. Sugar
1/4 C. Warm Water

3/4 C. Almond Milk or Milk
4 C. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 Egg
2 Egg Yolks
1/4 C. Sugar
1/3 C. Earth Balance or Butter, melted

Combine the yeast, sugar and water.  Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl add the flour, salt, almond milk yeast mixture, egg, egg yolks, sugar and earth balance.  Stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  Transfer to a clean and floured surface.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  You may add more flour if too sticky.  Let the dough rest in an oiled bowl for 1 hour, covered.  Punch dough down and divide in half.

Lightly flour the clean counter and roll the dough about ½ inch thick.  Cut with a drinking glass or cookie cutter and place on parchment paper.  Let rise for 45 minutes. 

Add 3 inches of oil to deep fryer and heat oil to 350 – 365 degrees F. over medium heat.

Cooking in small batches, carefully add donuts to hot oil. Fry 1 minute per side until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer donuts to wire rack or paper towel to cool.  Fill or ice the top with desired filling.

Enjoying the original halvah sufganiyot!

I Flip My Turkey in the Air?!?!

As most of you know, Chanukah is just around the corner, but this year the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars converge to give us Thanksgivukkah (or as some are calling it Chanksgiving)!  The Jewish festival of lights and the American holiday for giving thanks haven’t coincided since President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, and apparently won’t happen again till the year 79811. 

The much loved Jewish acapella group, the Maccabeats have incorporated this once in a lifetime Judeo-American mash-up into their new Hannukah Video a cover of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’, which I must say is another truly fantastic production.  Yours truly, team AliBabka, was responsible for all the delicious food and the wonderful table scape for the video.  In order to fulfill Uri Westrich’s cinematic vision, we set a classic American Thanksgiving table, with a bit of traditional Chanuka fixins mixed in. The Menu is as Follows:
Maple Glazed Turkey (coming out of the oven)
Whiskey Maple Gravy
Green Beans Almondine (getting a sprinkle of toasted Almonds)
Oven Roasted Wild Carrots
Classic Potato Latkes
Spiced Cinnamon Apple Sauce
Fresh Cranberry Relish with an Orange Ginger Twist
Joburg Sausage, Roasted Chestnut Stuffing with Figs
Pumpkin Pie topped with whipped Cream and Candied Pecans
Basket of Herbed Artisan Rolls
Thanks to all The Maccabeats and to Uri Westrich for allowing us to cater and be a part of this video.

I am sharing with you two recipes from the video:

Chestnut, Fig and Sasauge Stuffing.  (posted last week)

– Green Beans Almondine (below)

Check out some of the behind the scenes pics!  


Green Beans Almondine
1 lb. Fresh Green Beans, trimmed
1/4 C. Slivered Almonds, toasted
2 Shallots, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
In a pot, bring 1 inch of water to a gentle simmer and add green beans.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the green beans turn a bright green color.  Remove green beans and shake off excess water.  In a pan or wok, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and bring to a high heat.  Add green beans and saute for about 1-2 minutes, tossing with salt and pepper.  Transfer green beans to a serving plate and add another 1 Tbs. of olive oil to the pan.  Saute’ shallots till translucent, season with salt and pepper, and pour on top of the green beans.  To finish, sprinkle toasted almonds on top.

This Stuffing Is Stuffing

I rarely make stuffing, but on Thanksgiving, just like the turkey, eating stuffing is basically an obligation.  While I was pulling ingredients out of my fridge and freezer to make my sausage and chestnut stuffing, I noticed a package of dried figs.  That is exactly what my stuffing needed…figs!  This stuffing is extremely savory and has awesome flavor from the seared sausages and creamy chestnuts, but the figs give it that bite of sweet and pulls this dish together.


Chestnut, Fig and Sausage Stuffing
1 Pound (8 Cups) White Bread (preferably a day old), crust trimmed, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Pound Roasted Packaged Chestnuts
1 Pound Jo-Burg Boerewors Traditional Sausage, cut on a bias into ½ inch pieces
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 Celery Stalks, small dice
2 Carrots, small dice
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 C. Dry White Wine
1/2 C. Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1/2 C. Dried Figs, sliced thin
1 Tbs. Dried Thyme
1 Tbs. Dried Sage
2 Tbs. Fresh Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

Cut up the bread and put in bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté sausage until brown (7-10 minutes).  No need to add oil because the heat will extract the natural fat from the sausages.  Removes sausages and place in the bowl with the bread, keeping the fat from the sausages in the pan.  Add the 1 Tbs. of oil to the pan.  Sauté onions, carrots and celery until soft. 1 minute before the vegetable done, add the garlic.  Remove the vegetable and pour them into the bread and sausage mixture.  

Remove the pan from the stove and add the wine to the pan.  Place the pan back on the stove and scrape up any brown bits from bottom. Cook over medium heat until wine is reduced by half.  Add to bread mixture.

Add the stock to bread mixture; toss. Add figs, thyme, sage, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the eggs. 
Place the stuffing in a grease 9X13 baking dish or 1-9 inch round baking dish.  Cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes; remove foil.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 more minutes.


The sausages I used in this stuffing are JoBurg kosher sausages.  They are made of pure beef and have an incredible flavor!  Click here to buy them and be directed to their website!



A Gingery Thanksgiving

Every year, about 40 of my friends organize and get together for an annual Thanksgiving dinner a week before actual Thanksgiving.  It is a huge pot luck and everyone dresses up in costume.  Matan (my fiance) and I dressed up as pilgrims and Matan made a super tasty and beautiful looking turkey.  I contributed with my cranberry ginger sauce to perfectly compliment the turkey.  This cranberry sauce is not your typical out of the can jellied blob…it’s crunchy, sweet, tart and refreshing! The ginger adds a whole new flavor profile to the cranberry sauce and helps with digestion (not a bad thing on thanksgiving if ya know what I mean…).
Below, I included the best parve pumpkin pie you have ever tasted.  My grandmother asks me to make it for our  family Thanksgiving bash every year! Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!   

Cranberry Ginger Sauce

1 – 12 oz. Bag Fresh Cranberries
1/2 C. Sugar (add more or less depending on taste)
1 – 2″ Piece of Ginger, peeled and zested
1 Orange, zested and peeled, rind discarded and orange segments reserved
1/2 C. Walnuts
In a food processor, grind the cranberries, sugar, ginger, orange zest, orange segments and walnuts to desired consistency.  Serve or refrigerate for later. 
Pumpkin Pie
Makes 10 Servings
16 Oz. Pumpkin
12 Oz. Soymilk
2 Eggs
¾ C. Brown Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon
½ t. Ginger
¼ t. Nutmeg
(If no cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg, substitute 1 ½ t. of Pumpkin pie spice)
½ t. Salt


Prepare dough as directed through chilling.  Roll out dough and line a 9 inch pie plate; make turret edge.  Refrigerate or freeze 10-15 minutes to firm pastry.  Preheat oven to 425.  Line pie shell with foil and fill with pie weights.  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.

Matans Infamous Turkey