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Sephardic Almond Macaroons

Marcia Silcox

These Sephardic cookies are chewy and pretty – and they’re delicious all year long, not just during Passover!

This recipe was handwritten on a card by the late Helen Aresty Fine, z”l, of Rochester, N.Y., whose family had deep Sephardic roots from the city of Monastir (now Bitola) in North Macedonia.

Helen was an excellent baker dedicated to keeping Sephardic cooking alive. Her recipe card included notes about buying bulk almond paste at the Rochester Public Market, which still exists, 50 years later.

1 lb. almond paste (not marzipan) or two 7-oz. packages
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
½ tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place three egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and salt, and beat until dissolved and thick, about 5 minutes. Break up almond pasted and add to egg mixture, beating until well incorporated.
  3. Refrigerate for at least two hours, up to overnight. Drop by scant teaspoons onto parchment lined paper, about two inches apart, as they will spread. Drop sliced almonds on top of each cookie.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool on a baking rack. Makes about 72 cookies.

    Marcia Fine Silcox is the president of Temple Micah in Washington, D.C. She is an avid baker and sharer of family recipes, especially Sephardic treats.

Geshmirta Matzah

Tina Wasserman

Geshmirta matzah may have a funny-sounding name, but the dish itself is oh-so-delicious! Geshmirta is a Yiddish word that means to shmear or spread something on top of something else.

This Passover treat – a milk-soaked matzah coated with lightly sweetened cream cheese and broiled to a light golden brown – is popular among the Jewish community in South Africa, especially in Capetown.

I originally wrote this recipe (which appears in my cookbook Entree to Judaism for Families) for a friend who asked me to help re-create a food memory from her childhood. She loved this version, and I hope you will, too!

Watch this video to learn how to make the recipe or follow the instructions below.

3-4 sheets of matzah
8-oz. container of whipped cream cheese
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp of sugar
2 tbsp of sour cream, cream, or Greek yogurt
2 tbsp of sugar mixed with ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Line a jellyroll pan with foil, dull side facing you. Fit the matzo to line the entire bottom of the pan.  Set aside.
  • Using a rubber spatula, mix the cream cheese, egg, vanilla, first 2 tablespoons of sugar, and sour cream or cream in a two-quart bowl until smooth and well combined.
  • Spread mixture evenly over the matzos (if you have one, a small, angled spatula would be perfect for younger children) and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until mixture is slightly golden and matzah is crisp.  Cut into squares and eat within an hour to preserve crispiness.
  • Tina’s Tidbits:
  • Regular cream cheese may be used if at room temperature.  Children will find it easier to blend ingredients by hand if using whipped.
  • Using softened ingredients at room temperature often eliminates the need for an electric mixer making the recipe toddler friendly.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Using ingredients softened to room temperature can eliminates the need for an electric mixer, which makes the recipe toddler-friendly.
  • Although whipped cream cheese is easiest for children to blend by hand, you can also use regular, room temperature cream cheese.

Apple Hamantaschen Galette

Emily Paster

I'll be making a batch of hamantaschen on Purim for my family, but it is a labor-intensive project. For those of you who need a more streamlined baking project, this apple hamantaschen galette is it. Keep the three-cornered shape of the hamantaschen, but instead of making dozens of small cookies, make one, big family dessert.

A galette, which can be sweet or savory, is a rustic kind of pastry featuring flaky dough circled around a filling. Italians have a similar idea called a crostada. Unlike pie, galette is not made in a dish, but is more free-form, requiring a slightly sturdier dough.

With his passion for fruit desserts, my husband was all over this apple hamantaschen galette. If you make one, I don’t think anyone will miss the hamantaschen cookies. After Purim, go ahead and make it in a circular shape. It’s too good to miss.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz. (one and a half sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 1/2 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg
Turbinado sugar, optional

For the dough

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in small bowl, and place the bowl in the freezer for ten minutes.
  2. When the flour is quite cold, remove the bowl from the freezer and add the cubed butter.
  3. Toss the bowl to coat the butter with the flour.
  4. Cut the butter into the dough using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Leave some visible pieces of butter that are slightly smaller than a pea.
  5. Mix the water and lemon juice together and drizzle over the dough. Stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together.
  6. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it against the sides of the bowl until you have incorporated all of the dough.
  7. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour. (Dough can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for longer periods.)

For the filling

  1. Combine the apple slices, lemon juice, and zest in a medium bowl.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sugar, spices, salt, and cornstarch, and add to the apple mixture, tossing to combine.

To assemble

  1. Place dough on a well-floured surface or nonstick rolling mat, and using a well-floured rolling pin, roll dough out in a circle shape until it is ¼ inch thick.
  2. Carefully transfer dough - a large pastry scraper comes in handy here - to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Place the apple filling in the center of the galette leaving a two-inch border around the edge.
  4. Fold the dough over the apples in a triangle, pleating the dough as necessary. Pinch corners of the dough together to seal.
  5. Beat the egg with a teaspoon of water and brush the egg wash over the outside of the galette.
  6. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar, if using.

To bake

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes at 400°F, then turn heat down to 350°F and bake an additional 25 minutes. (If crust begins to burn, cover edge with foil.)
  3. Cool galette on a wire rack for thirty minutes before serving.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Emily Paster is the author of three cookbooks, Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving (2016), The Joys of Jewish Preserving (2017) and, most recently, Epic Air Fryer Cookbook. She is the writer and photographer behind the website West of the Loop, which has been called “a family food blog to savor.” As the founder of the Chicago Food Swap, a community event where handmade foods are bartered and exchanged, Emily is a leader in the national food swap movement.

Crusty Olive Bread

Jan Rood-Ojalvo

Olives are one of the Seven Species eaten on Tu BiShvat .

What could make a crusty loaf of artisanal bread even better – just imagine studding it with an assortment of kalamata and green olives. They poke out temptingly and add a depth of flavor that is fun and sophisticated.

This bread is easy to assemble, with just a few ingredients, and even easier to bake with this fool-proof refrigerator rising and dutch oven baking.

3 1/2 cups unbleached or bread flour (or a combination of 3 cups white flour, 1/2 cup whole grain flour)
1 scant tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 3/4 cups olives, pitted, patted dry and coarsely chopped (a mixture of Kalamata and green olives is attractive and delicious)
  1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a stand mixer with a dough hook.
  2. Add water and mix on medium speed until dough begins to come together on the hook. 
  3. Add olives and mix gently until dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Take dough out of bowl and knead into one ball for a large loaf, or cut in half and form two balls for smaller loaves.
  5. Place each ball into a greased plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for four hours or up to three days.
  6. To bake, remove dough from fridge and let it rest on the counter in its plastic bag. 
  7. Put dutch oven into cold oven, set at 500°F. Heat for one hour.
  8. Remove pot from oven, lift lid, place dough gently inside, score with sharp serrated knife, replace lid and place back in oven. 
  9. Lower temperature to 450°F. Bake 25 minutes covered. 
  10. Remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes, until the crust is browned and crisp.
  11. Let cool before slicing (if you can – we never make it).

Flavor Variation

Lemon-Herb Olive Bread: Add the zest of one lemon and 2 teaspoons of Herbs de Provence to the dry ingredients in the initial mixing. 

Jan Rood-Ojalvo has longstanding ties to Congregation M'kor Shalom and the Katz JCC, both in Cherry Hill, NJ. Jan, who lives with her husband Steve in Haddonfield, NJ, loves baking, traveling, opera, and staying in touch with her six children – and two granddaughters.

Date and Nut Dainties

The Garden City Jewish Center Sisterhood

These date and nut morsels are perfect for Tu BiShvat, when it is customary to eat foods containing the Seven Species, which includes dates. 

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (7 1/2 oz.) pkg. dates, cut up
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
candied cherries, cut up
chocolate chips
  • Preaheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a cookie sheet.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually add the sugar and salt. Continue beating until thick. Add the lemon juice and fold in the dates and nuts.
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet, and leave room for spreading.
  • Decorate the top of each cookie with a piece of candied cherry or chocolate chip.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce to 225°F. The dainties are done when slightly browned.
  • Remove from pan with a spatula as soon as done and cool on a wire cake rack.

Asian Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts and Fried Tofu Croutons

Tina Wasserman

This is not an ancient recipe, but it is a good example of how observant Jews in far-reaching areas of the world used the ingredients readily available to build upon the foundation of Jewish dietary laws. 

1/3 cup corn oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame seed oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cream sherry
2 × 1/2-inch strip of lemon zest
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 scallion, white part and 2 inches of green, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
10 ounces fresh baby spinach or spinach-mesclun mix
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/3 cup julienne-sliced bamboo shoots
1/2 cup blanched snow peas, finely sliced lengthwise
3 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 25 cubes)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Oil for deep-frying
1 egg white (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup dried panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until relatively smooth. Set aside in a screw-top jar until ready to use.
  2. Rinse and dry the spinach and bean sprouts. Place in a large salad bowl with bamboo shoots and snow peas.
  3. Marinate the tofu squares in honey and soy sauce for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a 1-quart saucepan to a depth of 1 inch. Roll the tofu in the egg white, and coat thoroughly with the bread crumbs. Fry the tofu until golden, and drain on paper towel.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring the water, sugar, five-spice powder, and salt to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan.
  5. Add the walnuts and stir for 1 minute. Spread the nuts onto a nonstick jellyroll pan or a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake walnuts for 7 minutes or until they are dark golden and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Remove the nuts from the baking pan and cool on an oiled counter or cookie sheet. When cool, break the pieces up and store in freezer until ready to use.
  7. To assemble the salad, toss the greens with some of the vinaigrette until lightly moistened. Top salad with some of the walnuts and the tofu croutons and serve with remaining vinaigrette on the side.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • “Blanching” literally means “to whiten,” but with reference to vegetables it means cooking in boiling salted water for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then plunging the vegetables into ice water to stop the cooking process. This is done to set the bright color and heighten the flavor of the food by bringing out the natural sugars in the food. This technique should always be used on green vegetables that are to be served cold in a salad or as crudités with dip.
  • Panko is a type of bread crumb from Japan that is large and irregular in shape and gives food an excellent crunchy coating.

Quinoa Tabbouleh (Gluten-Free)

Chef Katie Simmons

Traditional tabbouleh is a classic Middle Eastern salad combining cracked wheat with fresh parsley.  This gluten-free version uses healthy quinoa. My secret ingredient is the Sherry vinegar, which adds a pop of bright, acidic flavor. Sherry vinegar is fruitier than red wine vinegar and less sweet than balsamic. This tabbouleh calls for curly parsley, which has a milder, slightly sweeter flavor than flat-leaf parsley, and nicely complements the nutty flavor of the quinoa.

1 cup uncooked white quinoa
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, or substitute with Champagne vinegar or lemon juice
1 bunch curly parsley
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, diced
  • Place the quinoa, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a dry pot. Cover and toast over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes. When the quinoa is toasted, add the shallot, garlic, and 2 cups of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until quinoa is done, about 10-12 minutes. When the quinoa is done, remove from heat and fluff to steam off any excess liquid.
  • Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl. Let cool for about 10 minutes.  (Note: You can speed this up by placing the bowl in the freezer.)
  • While the quinoa cools, chop the parsley and dice the tomatoes.When the quinoa has cooled, add the Sherry vinegar, parsley, and tomatoes. Stir well to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning. 
  • Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Classically-trained Chef Katie Simmons is a personal chef in Chicago. Her journey to cooking has been a winding path from Kentucky to backpacking in New Zealand through culinary school at Kendall College and working for Whole Foods Market.  Her own frustrations of being an overweight fitness professional finally led her to embrace a plant-based, vegan diet. 

Tart Pomegranate and Cherry Tonic

Chef Mark Reinfeld

In some families, it’s customary to enjoy pomegranates during the High Holidays because, according to legend, the number of seeds in the pomegranate reflects the number of good deeds you will do in the coming year. Another interpretation suggests that pomegranates contain 613 seeds, the same number of mitzvot (commandments) as are in the Torah.

Behold the heart-healthy mojito mocktail. So brightly delicious and refreshing! In general we shy away from prepared juices, but these two powerhouses are the exception.  Pomegranate’s tiny seeds hold lots of vitamin C, with proven immune boosting, tissue repairing, and cell protecting qualities, as well as two other powerful antioxidants well known to prevent disease and reduce inflammation. Cherry juice is not only known for its ability to reduce pain by lowering uric acid in gout or muscle soreness, but also is one of the few known substantial sources of melatonin.

2 sprigs mint leaves
⅔ cup pomegranate juice
⅔ cup tart cherry juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
⅔ cup sparkling water
Sweetener to taste

Yield: 16 ounces
Prep time: 10 minutes

  1. Place mint sprigs in a pitcher or in two glasses. Crush with a cocktail muddler or with your hands.  
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well before serving.

Variation: Go crazy and add a scoop of vegan ice cream for the float of your dreams. 

Reprinted with permission from The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan: The Plant-Based Way to Stay Mentally Sharp and Physically Fit (Da Capo Press/Hachette Book Group, 2019).

Mark Reinfeld is the 2017 Inductee into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. He is a multi-award winning chef and author of eight books, including his latest, The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan. His last book, Healing the Vegan Way, was selected as the #1 book for Vegans in 2016 by Mark has over 25 years of experience preparing creative vegan and raw cuisine. Since 2012, he has served as the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest. He has offered consulting services for clients such as Google, Whole Foods, Kroger, Danone, The Humane Society, Bon Appetit Management, Aramark, Sodexo, and more. Mark was the founding chef of The Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, voted “Best Restaurant on Kaua’i.”

His first cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, has won 9 national awards including “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA.” Mark is the recipient of’s Recipe of the Year Award and Aspen Center for Integral Health’s Platinum Carrot Award. Through his Vegan Fusion company, he offers consulting services, vegan and raw cooking workshops, a plant-based chef certification program, and chef trainings internationally. His two-part online culinary course, offered in conjunction with the Vegetarian Times, is available. 

Rosh HaShanah Noodle Kugel

Tina Wasserman

Here’s a delicious noodle kugel that incorporates all the symbols for a sweet and fruitful New Year. The kugel is moist, not too sweet, and contains no dairy products, so it can be served with a meat meal or for dessert.

12 ounces extra-wide dried egg noodles
1/3 cup vegetable oil (corn or canola)
4 large eggs
Two 3.9-ounce (snack size) containers or 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup wildflower or clover honey
1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 Jonagold or Gala apples, pared, cored, and sliced into thin semicircles (reserve 8 slices for garnish on top of kugel)
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (for topping)
Nonstick cooking spray or pareve margarine
  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 × 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and stir gently with a rubber spatula to coat and separate all the noodles.
  3. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the applesauce, honey, apple juice concentrate, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and combine.
  4. Using a spatula, add the apple semicircles and raisins (if using) to the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the apple mixture into the noodles. Mix gently, but thoroughly, and pour into the prepared pan. Place reserved apple slices down the center of the casserole.
  6. Lightly grease the shiny side of a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and cover the casserole, greased side down.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes and remove from the oven. Uncover, sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture, and lightly spray with cooking spray or dot with margarine. Return the uncovered casserole to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Because honey is 1–1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar, less is needed to sweeten most recipes.
  • Covering a casserole with foil, dull side out, will help the food absorb heat from the oven without drying out.
  • Always bake a noodle kugel immediately after adding the egg mixture or the mixture will settle and create a rubbery layer on the bottom and the noodles will be dry on top.

Ethiopian Potato Salad

Bryant Heinzelman

When I converted to Judaism, I knew observing dietary laws would be important to me – but at first, I found this extremely difficult because I love meat and all things dairy, and being from the South, my family often mixed the two to create rich, buttery, and often-fried foods. It took some time, but eventually I came to find that many Jews have created delicious foods inspired by their local communities and surroundings – within the bounds of kosher law.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Ethiopian Jewish community and smitten with their food, and one dish that has stood out to me is Ethiopian potato salad. This dish’s rich history dates back to the mid-1800s, when the potato was first introduced to Ethiopia by a German immigrant and was cultivated in the Ethiopian Highlands as a backup crop if others failed.

The current potato salad recipe is thought to have formed from a variety of European, African, and Middle Eastern culinary and cultural influences in the Ethiopian Highlands and Eritrea throughout the last 160 years. This pairs well with just about any dish, or it can be eaten alone – but because it’s served cold, it’s especially refreshing during the warmer months.

2 pounds white potatoes, thoroughly washed and peeled
3 medium-sized lemons
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 medium white onion, minced (about ⅔ cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 medium jalapeño peppers, seeded, or 1 large green bell pepper (depending on your preferred level of spice)
8-10 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
  1. Carefully wash all produce, then set everything aside, apart from the potatoes.
  2. Peel and cut potatoes into 2 ½”-sized (or bite-sized) pieces.
  3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
  4. After water is boiling, add potatoes. Cook potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until a fork easily enters a chunk – but not so soft that they’d mash or fall apart easily.
  5. When potatoes are done cooking, rinse under running water. This will keep the potatoes from overcooking and becoming too soft.
  6. Set aside potatoes to cool.
  7. Thoroughly wash the lemons and zest them. Take care not to shave down to the white part of the peel, as the result is bitter. (If you don’t own a zester, being patient with the small side of a cheese grater will work, too.)
  8. Cut the zested lemons in half and juice them into a small bowl.
  9. In a large mixing bowl, add measured ingredients, starting with your oil (as your dressing base) then garlic, onion, jalapeño, Italian parsley, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whisk until thoroughly mixed together.
  10. Once your dressing is ready, add your cooled potatoes and mix slowly and thoroughly, taking care not to mash or break the potatoes.
  11. Refrigerate for at least two hours. For best results, refrigerate overnight or prepare in the morning to enjoy with an evening meal.

Quick tips

  • After you’ve mixed the dressing ingredients, taste the mixture to see if it meets your desire. I’m not shy with my salt and pepper, so I’m fairly liberal with both; I enjoy this dish on the tangy side, so I typically add a bit more zest and lemon juice if the spirit so moves!.
  • To avoid peeling, use small white or red potatoes.
  • For added kick and a bit of color, add a dash of Berber pepper on top.

Want more from Bryant? Check out “From Tennessee to Iraq and Back,” our interview with him on the podcast Wholly Jewish.

Bryant Heinzelman is a veteran of the US Army and a graduate of The Military Intelligence College NTTC Cory Station; he spent eight years as an intelligence analyst working in Europe, Florida, Texas, and the Middle East. Upon returning to the U.S., he shifted his focus from military intelligence to Jewish community-building and interfaith outreach.


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