Cabbage Puff Pastry Roulade

An easy and fun appetizer for a festive meal, that can also serve as a main dish with some salad on the side. This year this appetizer will be part of our Rosh HaShanah table. Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish new year and usually we celebrate it with different edible blessings. One of the main blessings is for us to be the head and not the tail or in other words we are wishing to be leaders and lead by example. The food which symbolizes this blessing is the head of a cow or lamb (cheek meat) and in some communities it is the head of a fish. This year, though, as we turned vegan, we can’t do either, so we decided to be creative and use a head of cabbage. Hence the following recipe. For more about Rosh HaShanah recipes check my Rosh HaShanah Blessings and Recipes.

Wishing a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to all who celebrate!

1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 tbs oil
½ cabbage head, thinly shredded
12 mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package frozen Puff Pastry sheets (2 sheets)
Sesame/nigella seeds (optional)

In a large saucepan heat the oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the cabbage and keep sautéing, while stirring occasionally, until cabbage is wilted and slightly seared.

Add the mushrooms and the spices and give the dish a good stir.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered, until the cabbage and mushrooms are very soft, and all the liquid evaporated from the pot. If there are liquids left, remove the cover and raise the heat to let all liquid evaporate.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Defrost the frozen puff pastry at room temperature for about 40 minutes. The dough should be defrosted but cold enough to handle, otherwise it’s too hard to work with.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place one of the pastry sheets on a work surface and roll it out to a rectangle. Place ½ of the chilled cabbage filling in the middle of the sheet lengthwise, to create a cylinder. Fold the short side edges of the dough on top of the filling, then fold the top and the bottom edges, one on top of the other, to close the roulade.

Place the roulade, sim down, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and repeat the process with remaining ingredients.

You may brush the top of the roulades with egg wash and sprinkle sesame or nigella seeds on top.

Bake in the preheated oven until the roulades turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and chill for a few minutes before serving.

Eggplant Rollatini with Mushrooms

My husband and two boys used to be the carnivores in our house, and if a main dish didn’t include meat, they were very dissatisfied. But not anymore. Not after having this dish for dinner. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that now I can introduce more meatless dishes and they are totally fine with that and a new era started in our home – we are all vegan now.

Of course, this dish is not what made us change our eating habits but it was a nice trigger.

The flavor of the mushrooms is very rich and full of umami. Do not skip on the baby bella or the dried mushrooms. They are responsible for the umami flavor.

4 large eggplants
Oil spray
¼ cup oil
1 large onion, diced
20 oz mixed mushrooms (baby Bella, white button)
1 oz mixed dried mushrooms or dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

2 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
1 cup water
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and black pepper

Preheat an oven to 400F.

Slice the eggplants lengthwise, into ½ thick slices. Generously pray a baking sheet with oil and arrange the eggplant slices in one layer. Spray the eggplants with the oil. You will probably need 2-3 baking sheets to accommodate all the eggplant.

Place in the preheated oven and bake until eggplants turn golden. Remove from the oven and chill. Turn oven off.

In the meantime, heat ¼ cup oil in a large pot and sauté the onion.

Chop the fresh mushrooms in a food processor until they resemble ground meat in texture.

Place the dried mushrooms in a coffee grinder and grind to a powder.

Once the onion is golden, add the ground mushrooms to the pot and sauté on high heat for 5 minutes stirring it occasionally.

Add the garlic powder, Aleppo pepper and salt and sauté for 1 more minute.

Turn off the heat, add the chopped parsley and mix well. Chill.

Heat 2 tbs oil in a small pot and saute the onions for 3 minutes.

Place the tomatoes in a food processor and puree. Add the tomatoes to the sautéed onion and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomato paste, water, and spices and stir it all in. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Putting it all together:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place 1 tbs of the mushroom filling on one end of the eggplant and roll up tightly.

Place the eggplant rolls in a baking dish, seam side down, one next to the other.

When baking dish is full, top the eggplant with half the amount of the tomato sauce, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Serve hot or at room temperature with some good bread.


Pickled Asparagus

What do I do when I find asparagus at the supermarket that is so beautiful and fresh and so cheap? I buy a nice amount of it even though I have no idea what to do with so much asparagus. That’s what happened 2 weeks ago and I ended up with a nice amount in the fridge for a few days, and it actually made me a little anxious. Asparagus goes bad quickly and you have to use it fast. But how much roasted asparagus and asparagus soup can you make in one week? Then It dawned on me that I could pickle the asparagus just like my mother pickles cucumbers and it would probably be as crunchy and delicious. So I did it.

3lb fresh asparagus
6 dried bay leaves
10 cloves garlic, peeled
10 allspice seeds
5 dill sprigs
2-quart jar

Place 3 bay leaves, 5 allspice seeds, and 5 cloves garlic on the bottom of the jar.

Chop the ends of the asparagus spears to fit the height of the jar. Place them tightly in the jar spear side up. Push the dill sprigs in between the asparagus.

Top with the rest of garlic, bay leaves and allspice.

Make a saltwater solution in a bowl with the ratio of 1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water. You’ll need about 3 cups water. Fill the pickle jar with saltwater until the water completely covers the asparagus. Close the jar and let stand in room temperature for a week.


Flourless Truffle Cake for Passover

When I had my gluten free bakery, this cake was the star around Thanksgiving and Passover. Even customers who did not need to eat gluten free would come especially for this truffle cake. And no wonder they did. This cake is addictive! It is a dense, creamy block of chocolate with chocolate ganache on top. So rich and decadent, silky and smooth, and so chocolatey; it’s almost a sin…though you can’t eat more than a small sliver at a time.

Anyway, for several years this dessert has been the main event around our Passover table, and I thought it would be a good idea to post the recipe as we are getting ready to celebrate Passover in a few days. And now, with COVID-19 forcing us to celebrate each in our own home away from people we love, this recipe can sweeten the deal a little.

I know that for those of you who keep kosher, this cake it not an option, as it is dairy. You can still make it during Passover, though, and enjoy it in between meals…

And you may also want to look up my amazing Coconut Orange Cake recipe which is both dairy free and kosher for Passover (for rice eaters).

225g butter
450g semi-sweet chocolate
4 eggs
2 egg yolks

180g heavy cream
30g (1 1/2 tbs) butter
2 tbs granulated sugar
225g (8oz) semi-sweet chocolate

Coat the inside of a 8” baking pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat it with butter. Make sure the pan is well greased.

Heat oven to 325F (not convection).

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a large glass or plastic bowl. Add the butter and melt in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Stir until smooth.

Heat 1 inch of water in a medium size pot over medium heat.

Place the whole eggs and yolks in a bowl that can sit on top of the pot. Place the pot on top of the pot and whisk the eggs until they reach a temperature of 110F.

Transfer the eggs to a mixer and whisk on high speed until eggs become light and pale, about 5 minutes.

Fold 1/3 of the egg foam into the melted chocolate. Add the rest of the foam and fold gently but thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking pan and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until cake reaches 170F (you will have to use a thermometer inserted in the middle of the cake).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cake circle, and refrigerate.

In a saucepan, melt the heavy cream, butter and sugar. Mix occasionally and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate to the pot and stir until smooth.

Cover the cake with the ganache and keep refrigerated.

The cake can be made well in advance and once is cold can also be kept frozen for a while. Just make sure it is wrapped well.

All About Hamantaschen

Haman taschen (in Yiddish and German) means Haman’s pockets. These are traditional Jewish, triangular shaped cookies, made for the holiday of Purim. In a nutshell, Purim is the Jewish equivalent to Halloween when it comes to costumes and partying. Is has been celebrated for centuries to commemorate the almost annihilation of the Jews in Persia, 2000 years ago, and their last-minute redemption thanks to Queen Esther, who happened to be Jewish, and her uncle Mordechai. The villain in the story who wanted to get rid of all the Jews and ended up being hanged, is Haman, the king’s chief advisor.

So, the cookies are named after Haman’s pockets. Why? I have no idea. In Hebrew the name is even funnier and translates as Haman’s ears. Again, I have no idea how the name came to be, but it seems like no one really wonders about it. Weird!

I don’t think I’ve ever bought Hamantaschen. We’ve always made them at home, for Purim, ever since I was a little girl. I loved making them with my mother and I love making them every year with my kids. This year even my hubby joined the fun. I know they enjoy it too, even though they are not little anymore. It is a fun tradition that we have in our home, and it makes the Purim holiday even more fun and special. One of the nice customs of this holiday is to make baskets of foods and treats and give them to friends, neighbors, and the needy. So, we always make a huge amount of Hamantaschen and add them to the baskets we make.

If you live in in the U.S, in areas where there is a large Jewish community, you may have seen these triangular cookies in delis, bakeries, and diners all year round. But I can promise you that they don’t taste anywhere near the following recipe. If you ever had Hamantaschen and thought you liked them, you must try this version. You’ll never be able to eat the other stuff again. And if you never had Hamantaschen, don’t look any further. This is the real deal. The dough in this recipe is different than the usual cookie dough you’ll find in most recipes. It is delicate and melts in your mouth and is soooo delicious!!

100g powdered sugar
200g (8oz) cold butter, cut into cubes
350g (2 ½ cups) flour
¼ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1tsp vanilla extract or lemon zest from 2 lemons (depends on the filling)

Place the flour, sugar, butter, and salt in a food processor equipped with the blade attachment and work it to get a crumbly mixture.

Add the egg yolks, milk, and the lemon zest, or the vanilla, and keep mixing by pulsing the mixture only to the point where the dough becomes cohesive.

If the dough is too sticky, add one tablespoon of flour. If too dry and crumbly, add 1 tbs milk. Do not overwork the dough, as you want it to be flaky.

Flatten the dough into a 2-inch-thick disk, to make it easier to open it later on. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours.

In the meantime, prepare the filling of your choice. Some suggestions are given on the bottom.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the dough from the fridge and bring to room temperature so you can easily roll it out, without cracking the dough. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch in thickness. Use a 3 ½ inch wide drinking glass or a round cookie cutter to cut round disks. Try to leave as little room as possible between disks, to avoid reusing much of the dough. The less you work the dough, the flakier the cookies will be.

Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of your filling of choice into the middle of each disk. Fold up the edges of the disk to form a triangle. Pinch the corners to “glue” them together. You may leave some the cookie open so the filling is visible, or you can choice to pinch the edges completely and create a “surprise” cookie.

Place the Hamantaschen, 2 inches apart, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake for 12 minutes. The cookies should remain light colored. They are not supposed to brown too much.

There are some traditional Hamantaschen fillings used commercially such as prune, apricot or raspberry jelly, and sometimes poppy seeds. Chocolate filling is a newer addition in commercial Hamantaschen in Israel. However, the fillings are usually of the less good quality.

Best thing would be to make your own filling. You can fill your Hamantaschen with every filling you can think of. Here are some of our favorites:

Cocoa, chocolate Chips, and Cinnamon (use vanilla in the dough and omit the lemon zest)–
1 stick very soft butter
3 hipping tbs cocoa powder
1 hipping tbs cinnamon
5 heaping tbs sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix the butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sugar, into a paste. Place ½ tsp of the paste in the middle of each dough disc, then top with 4-5 chocolate chips.
You may also try to just fill the dough with some chocolate chips. It is less rich and gooey, but still yummy. Another option is to fill the Hamantaschen with Nutella. It is not my cup of tea, but my kids love it.

Poppy Seed, my number 1 choice (use lemon zest and vanilla in the dough)-
¼ cup milk
2 tbs honey
¾ cup sugar
2 cups ground poppy seeds
Zest from 2 lemons
Combine sugar, honey and milk in a medium sauce pan and simmer on low heat, until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the poppy seeds and keep simmering for 3-5 minutes, occasionally stirring the mixture. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon zest, and set aside to cool.

Dates, pretty up there with the poppy seed (use lemon zest in the dough and omit the vanilla) –
200g (8oz) soft Madjool dates, pitted
50g (2oz) soft butter
Place dates and butter in a food processor and pulse into a paste.

Apricot preserves (use lemon zest and vanilla in the dough) – The difference between preserves and jelly is the texture. Jelly only has the fruit juice in it and is very smooth. Preserves have pieces of the actual fruit and are a little chunky. For our purpose, preserves are better since they hold better and are less runny when baked. Buy the best quality preserves you can put your hands on, do not compromise. It does make a difference. If you only find jelly, do not buy the fake one used in commercial Hamantaschen. Get the good stuff, with no additives or preservatives. To make it hold better when baked, mix the jelly with some tea biscuits crumbs.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Like any other fresh ingredient, cabbage that is left as is long enough, will start to rot, due to the bacteria that’s in it and that’s in the air. However, when pickled, the fermentation process that the cabbage goes through kills the bacteria that causes the cabbage to rot. And it creates an ideal environment for lactobacillus bacteria (also found in the cabbage) to flourish. Healthwise, that means that pickled cabbage (or any pickled veggie, for that matter) is rich in probiotics, naturally. Hence, it’s great for our health.

Another great by product of the fermentation is that it augments the amounts of the glutamic acid in the final product. Glutamic acid is an amino acid that is responsible for the umami flavor in foods.

Now that we understand the process let’s make it happen.

For a gallon size jar, you will need:

6.5lb shredded cabbage
3tbs koshering salt.

Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and massage the cabbage to coat it well with salt. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. The cabbage wilts and extracts water, which is exactly what you want.

If you’d like to flavor your pickled cabbage, now would be the time. You may add chili pepper flakes, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds – they all combine very well with pickled cabbage. I happen to like it ‘au naturel’.

Sterilize a one-gallon jar with boiling water. Do not shake the jar or it might break. Discard of the water and fill the jar with the salted cabbage. Make sure, while filling, that you press down the cabbage in the jar as much as possible, using your fist. Add the salted water extracted from the cabbage.

If the cabbage is not covered with water, that means that your cabbage was of the drier kind (like my cabbage), and you’ll need to add water. In this case, mix 1 quart of boiling water with 1 tbs salt, and set aside to cool. Once the water is at room temperature pour it into the jar, only to the point where it covers the cabbage.

Seal the jar, place it in a bowl or a tray with a rim, and keep in a cool place away from direct light.

The fermentation process of the cabbage creates a lot of gas in the jar and sometimes pushes out the liquid, which is why you want to keep the jar in another container for a couple of days. Also, to prevent the jar from exploding, you need to open it for one second, once a day, to let the built-up gas out. After 3-4 days you don’t need to worry about it anymore.

The cabbage takes 2 weeks to pickle but is at its best after 3-4 weeks. In my case, it took 3 weeks before the cabbage was good to eat. At 5 weeks it was even better and still had a crunch to it. And at 3 months it turned totally wilted and soft, and resembled the sauerkraut you buy at the store.

So be patient. It’s worth it! And when you end up with the best sauerkraut ever, I’d love to hear about it.