Cooking Glorious Tajines with Levana

Levana is almost always referred to by her first name.
Like another favorite, extroverted star, her name rhymes with Madonna. No connection.
Levana is a legend in the kosher food world. She co-owned Levana Restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 32 years where she introduced upscale, innovative kosher dining to a public that had previously settled for mediocre kosher experiences when eating in restaurants.
Her multicultural, boldly seasoned creations exposed, educated, and elevated our expectations. After 32 years, the restaurant closed and now Levana spends most of her professional time as a cooking teacher, cookbook author and traveling the country giving cooking demosContinue reading

Loving the Turkey on the Day After

thanks Mattbites

The morning after Thanksgiving can feel like a letdown.
The big day has passed and there is still mess to contend with.
The bright spot is a refrigerator packed with all sorts of leftovers including  a hefty platter of turkey, sliced and ready to be reinvented.Change it up and everyone will love the reinvention.
 Serve it the same way more than twice, and they will likely be hankering for pizza while your fridge is still full.

Kosher Revolution


I continue to collect cookbooks despite the seduction of those powerful search engines that can bring up 75 recipes for chocolate chip cookies in two secs. My kosher cookbook collection is impressive.  I also have my share of vegetarian, Italian and Israeli volumes mixed in.
In the last few years I have purchased great reads by chefs and writers I have gotten to know. These are becoming my favorites because I know these chefs’ voices through reading their blogs or through my interviews with them. Continue reading

Rugellach: Sweet Treats for the New Year


I grew up knowing the fragrant aromas of freshly baked cakes, nutty cookies,  jam filled pastries and  whole grain bread.  My grandfather was a baker by trade. He came to NYC from Poland, in his late teens.

In a tiny village in Poland, his step father contracted a master baker to house him and train him in all aspects of baking. After two years of horribly long hours and searingly hot servitude, he ran away but was tracked  down and forced to return to finish out the terms of his apprenticeship contract.  On his second attempt, he succeeded in making his way to a ship bound for Ellis Island.

He  found some mishpuha  (relatives) on the Lower East Side and sent for his beautiful and oh so sweet step sister, whom he then married in NYC. He made a living as a baker for the rest of his life.  My  grandmother, his step sister (yes, you guessed correctly), was a superior home baker of all things parave  (non-dairy).

I remember them visiting our home every Sunday, toting both glossy, cardboard bakery boxes secured with twine and a second parcel of  home baked, parave treats to enjoy after our meat meals.  Calories be damned. We never gave it a thought and everyone lived long, healthy lives. Continue reading