photo: Thomas Schauer

photo: Thomas Schauer

Katy Morris

With just a simple dash or a generous sprinkle, you can bring authentic Middle Eastern flavors to your cooking.

Inspired by lots of requests from our readers following our Balaboosta cookbook give-away, we decided to consult the experts on the most oft used Middle Eastern spices.

Here’s how some of our favorite Middle Eastern cooks and chefs recommend you use these spices to elicit authentic flavors in great tasting, Middle Eastern dishes.


photo: Thomas Schauer

photo: Thomas Schauer

Renowned Kosher Chef, Author of The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen: Glorious Meals Pure & Simple, and Kosher Food Blogger, Levana Kirschenbaum says that there is no spice that she wouldn’t consider, but that “for Moroccan Cooking, which is my first culinary love, turmeric and saffron are the most indispensable in cooked dishes. As important in our cooking as curry is to Indian cooking, we use Ras El Hanout (literally, head, or top, of the shop), a wonderful blend of spices that varies from cook to cook and from shop to shop, but always includes cardamom, nutmeg, anise, mace, cinnamon, ginger, various peppers, and turmeric.”

“The ideal way [to incorporate spices in dishes], since spices and herbs are so packed with flavor at no caloric costs, is to make them an integral part of the dish: in a rub, in a marinade, in the cooking liquids of dishes cooking on a stovetop (soups, stews, side dishes).”

For an example of how to do this, check out her tantalizing Chicken Tajine with Prunes and Almonds recipe, where she incorporates saffron, cinnamon, turmeric, and pepper into the base liquid.

 Favorite Spices: Turmeric and Saffron.

Favorite Uses: Rubs, Marinades, Base Cooking Liquids.



photo: Thomas Schauer

photo: Thomas Schauer

Reyna Simnegar, Persian food Chef, Author of Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride, and Kosher Food Blogger, is crazy about spices, but she was able to narrow down her top three to turmeric, saffron, and cardamom as the most popular and widely used in the Persian cuisine. “Turmeric is dubbed ‘poor man’s saffron’ since it is much less expensive than saffron. It’s often used with anything that is fried and although it is relatively bland, provides the bright goldeny color of saffron that makes Persian dishes attractive.”


Saffron, which is mainly used in rice dishes, is the most expensive spice in the world since it is handpicked and takes about 40 hours of labor in an orchard about the size of a football field to get about a pound. Luckily, just a little bit goes a long way in a dish. She uses saffron often for savory sauces accompanying poultry dishes, as well as in sweet desserts.

Reyna also emphasized the importance of buying the stems versus ground. “To ensure the quality of the saffron, you should buy the stems so you can grind them yourself [KLM: check out resources below of where to buy from specialty shops]. Check the back of the package for something called the ‘ISO’ which indicates the quality of the saffron – you should not buy one with a lower grade than 190.

Use a simple mortar and pestle to grind the stems, and be sure to have a specific one dedicated to only saffron, as the mortar will absorb the delicate flavor of the saffron.” Check out some of her sample recipes or buy her book for more ideas!

 Favorite Spices: Turmeric, Saffron, Cardamom.

Favorite Uses: Everything – Meats, Sauces, Sweets, Rice.



Photo: Thomas Schauer

Photo: Thomas Schauer

In the Syrian kitchen, Chef and Author of Fistful Of Lentils, Jennifer Abadi relies on the warm, earthy taste of cumin, intricate flavor of allspice, and spicy yet sweet cinnamon in a lot of her recipes to showcase the region’s flavors. “[The Syrian cuisine] is not a spicy ‘hot’ cuisine, but it is a spicy ‘flavorful’ one.

Unlike in Indian cooking (where you might find a long list of spices used in one dish), in Syrian cooking there is usually only one or two main spices used that are meant to stand out in the overall flavor. And there should always be a balance in color, texture, and flavor.” Jennifer was kind enough to share her savory and slightly sweet Roasted Red Pepper Dip recipe with us, which incorporates cumin (essential in Syrian cuisine), fenugreek, and pomegranate syrup (used often in Persian cooking).

Favorite Spices: Cumin, Allspice, Cinnamon.

Favorite Uses: Various – but focus on 1-2 key ones in a given dish.


Ready to spice up your dishes?

Here are some great sources:

 Online: Zamouri Spices; World Spice; Sadaf; Golchin’s

NYC: La Boite ; Spices and Tease ; Kalustyans

CT: Penzeys Spices 

Quick Tips: Keep in mind that spices do not actually go bad, but they do tend to lose their potency over time. They should be kept away from any light, air, dampness, and heat, so storing them in tightly sealed opaque containers in your cupboard is ideal.


Thank you to Reyna Simnegar , Levana Kirschenbaum, and Jennifer Abadi for helping to spice up this post!

Thank you also, to Lior Sercarz, La Boite, NYC, for sharing the beautiful photos of Middle Eastern spices from photographer Thomas Schauer.


Are you in CT on March 6? Join us as we explore the flavors of Syrian Jewish cooking with Jennifer Abadi as she demonstrates and shares generous tastes.

Where: Chabad of Westport

When: March 6, 7:30 PM

Cost: $36

Click here for more info and to register for this event. This event is strictly kosher. All are welcome.

Muhammara (Syrian Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Toasted Walnuts, Garlic, and Pomegranate Syrup)

1 hour, 30 minutes

3 cups; 6-8 servings

Muhammara (Syrian Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Toasted Walnuts, Garlic, and Pomegranate Syrup)

Savory meets sweet in this beautiful and healthy dip.

vegan and pareve.


  • 1 ½ pounds fresh red bell peppers (about 3 medium size), OR
  • One 24-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers (you will need 1 1/2 cups, without the liquid)
  • 3 ¼ cups walnut halves
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon room temperature water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground fenugreek, optional
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt (if using fresh peppers), or to taste (if using roasted peppers from a jar)
  • Garnish
  • Extra virgin olive or walnut oil
  • Crushed, toasted walnuts
  • Peasant bread, sour dough bread, or other thick and crusty white bread


  1. If using peppers from the jar, skip down to step #2. If using fresh peppers, rinse thoroughly under cold water. Preheat the broiler (on “Hi” if using an electric oven). Rub olive oil and a little salt all around each pepper and place on a baking sheet or small baking pan. Set pan under the broiler for about 12 to 15 minutes (skins should start to blacken and wilt), then turn the peppers over and broil the other side an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Keep turning and rotating the peppers until all sides blister. (Note: It is good if they turn black as you will peel these thin skins off, and the char will give a smoky flavor). Remove from the broiler and let cool until lukewarm. Peel the thin skin from each pepper and discard.
  2. If using peppers from the jar, drain liquid and place into a small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak the peppers, 1 to 2 hours, changing the water frequently to flush out the excess salt and vinegar.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Place the walnuts into a large skillet and begin to brown them over a high heat for about 2 minutes.
  5. Lower to a medium heat and shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, continue to dry-roast the walnuts until dark brown on all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour onto a large plate or baking pan to cool completely to room temperature, setting aside ¼ cup for the garnish when serving.
  6. Pour roasted and peeled peppers, the 3 cups of toasted walnuts, garlic cloves, and water into a food processor and pulse to combine.
  7. Add the tomato paste, olive oil, pomegranate syrup, cumin, and fenugreek (if desired) and process until very smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Taste and add the ¾ teaspoon of salt (if using freshly roasted peppers) or to taste (if necessary when using the jarred peppers).
  9. Serve at room temperature drizzled with olive or walnut oil, pomegranate syrup, the extra ¼ toasted walnuts, and a thick, crusty white bread on the side.


Thank you, Jennifer Abadi, for sharing this recipe with Kosher Like Me. Find more of Abadi's Syrian recipes at FISTFUL OF LENTILS.




chicken soup

Katy Morris

Both your doctor and your grandmother concur – there is something to be said for the remedial, comforting power of homemade chicken soup when your immune system is in need of a boost. Although many believe the benefits of chicken soup are psychosomatic (perhaps it elicits consoling memories of your childhood), modern research shows that there is scientific proof that this stuff is the ultimate comfort food and is super healthy.


Chicken soup contains a compound called carnosine, which helps to prevent inflammation that occurs at the onset of a viral infection. In addition, the hot fluid helps to soothe sore throats and eases congestion.  Chicken also has an amino acid in it called cysteine, which helps to thin that yucky mucus that can congest your lungs. Homemade broth, which aids digestion, is very rich in calcium, magnesium, and other easily absorbed, replenishing minerals.

chicken soup ingredients

Add some celery, carrots, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, and sweet potatoes into your chicken soup, and you will get the added antioxidant benefits of these nutrition-packed veggies that will help fight infections.  Sue Smith, of Prime Health Style, highlights that “root veggies have natural sweetness, and are very satisfying, grounding and warming.”

What other ingredients should you turn to at this time of year?

Spices , jarred

Sue Smith and Health Coach, Amie Guyette Hall, also specified that pungent and spicy ginger root is another must have for immune strengthening, and given its high concentration, you need only a little bit to reap its many benefits. Not only does it help to alleviate gastro intestinal discomfort, it is also a super antioxidant, has extensive anti-inflammatory effects and helps heal dizziness and nausea.

ginger shots Catch a Healthy Habit, Fairfield

Simply add fresh ginger to a mug of hot water for a quick, homemade ginger tea, and you will soon have a settled stomach. Catch A Healthy Habit’s 2 oz. ginger shot is another great way to enjoy the healing benefits of ginger. You gotta be brave though: it packs a hot punch!

Tynne, at Catch A Healthy Habit, highlights cinnamon as well: “Cinnamon strengthens the cardiovascular system and acts as a blood-thinning agent, which increases circulation and in turn acts to warm the body.”


Turmeric is another healing remedy to check out, according to both Smith and Guyette Hall. Used in Asia for medicinal purposes, turmeric is a potent antioxidant and contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory effects. It also has been proven to reduce pain and fever, and aid digestion.

Guyette Hall has some great resources on her website for warming drinks, including a Creamy Turmeric Tea.


She also mentioned that cayenne pepper is a key spice to include in warming dishes this winter. Not only is it an anti-cold and flu agent, cayenne has also been proven to ease upset stomach, sore throats, coughs, and to stimulate circulation.

B.O.C. breakfast of champions- The Stand

The Stand in Fairfield and Norwalk clearly understands the health benefits of this spice; they incorporate cayenne in their nutrient-packed juices and avocado toast sandwich.

If you’re seeking a traditional Chicken Soup recipe, see Liz’s below. “I’ve made chicken soup for my family forever. What’s changed is the range of ingredients I add to it. Traditional Jewish chicken soup is simply chicken, carrots, celery, onion and parsnips. After watching my Israeli mother-in-law add other veggies like zucchini and cauliflower, I began to add them in also, but in the last half hour of cooking. I add tomatoes for a little extra hit of vitamin C and for the beautiful golden color they add to the broth.”

” I was honored to be asked for my chicken soup recipe by my daughter-in-law! I never gave a thought to how I make it, other than to try to load it with tons of veggies, always organic. It was fun to pause and actually think through it.”

Liz eliminated the  messy straining by tying up the aromatics, garlic and onion and whatever else she doesn’t want floating in the bowl, in cheesecloth.  Before cooling the soup, simply lift out the pouch and allow it to drain over a colander so none of the golden broth is lost. What’s left in the pot is the magical broth, plenty of chicken and the veggies she and her family wants to eat.

soup sock

For a full selection of great spices, head on over to Penzey’s in Norwalk, La Boite in NYC, or the Savory Spice Shop online to pick up these great warming, healing spices.

Liz's Homemade Chicken Soup

serves 10

Liz's Homemade Chicken Soup

This chicken soup is a basic Jewish chicken soup recipe with a few additions and one great improvement that eliminates straining.

Tie up aromatics and any veggies you don't want in your soup bowl, in a Soup Sock or cheesecloth. When the soup is finished, pull out the cheesecloth, drain well so that no broth is lost, and discard.

I was honored to be asked for this recipe by my new daughter-in- law during this long, cold winter. Her husband (my son) has been known to eat this for breakfast with a healthy helping of thin noodles or orzo floating around in this rich, golden broth.

Enjoy! xo Liz


  • One chicken, cut in 1/8th's, rinsed and trimmed of extra fat and skin.
  • 1 onion, quartered (I remove them at the end)
  • 4-5 carrots, scraped and sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 turnip, scraped and cut into big chunks (I remove it at the end)
  • 4 stalks celery, washed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, chunked (optional)
  • 1 zucchini, washed and cut into bite size pieces (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh dill, washed and rough chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon soup enhancer, like Osem chicken or vegetable powder


  1. Place all ingredients, except dill and zucchini, in a large pot.
  2. Add cold water to a level about 2 inches above the ingredients. DO NOT add too much water or the soup will not be rich enough. This is the trick!
  3. Slowly, bring liquid to boil and immediately turn it to simmer. Keep an eye on the simmer, making sure it is low and slow (boiling will toughen the chicken). Leave the lid cracked open a bit so it doesn't overflow.
  4. After about 10 min, skim the surface of the soup of any gunk. Continue simmering with the lid cracked, for about 1.5 hours.
  5. In the last 30 mins. of cooking, add the fresh dill and zucchini. Bring the soup back to simmer for 30-45 mins.
  6. Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool. Pull out the chicken and cool separately so it doesn't continue cooking.
  7. Refrigerate over night and remove any accumulated fat before serving.


Boil orzo, alphabet noodles (we call them ABCD's) or thin noodles to serve with this broth. Keep noodles in a separate container.

I'm a big believer in always having at least one container of chicken soup in my freezer at all times. Ya just never know who will need it and when!

Greek Stuffed Japanese Eggplant


Recipe and Photo courtesy of Marcia Selden Catering

The eggplant can get a bad wrap.  Those shiny purple orbs can often seem intimidating, but fear not, our baked stuffed eggplant is perfectly delicious!  This self- contained dinner with its crunchy top and flavorful feta packed filling will leave everyone smiling.

"Greek Style" Baked Stuffed Eggplant

4 servings

This recipe was generously shared by Marcia Selden Catering, Stamford, CT.

This dish is Vegetarian and Dairy


  • 3 Japanese eggplant (about 1 lbs. each), split lengthwise
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 c. cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 ½ C. chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs. diced garlic
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1C canned (San Marzano) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. chopped fresh leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbs. julienned basil
  • 1 C. panko bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 C. crumbled feta
  • ½ C. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C. sliced Kalamata olives


  1. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and with a sharp knife scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leaving a 1/2-inch shell, being careful not to pierce the skins. Chop the pulp.
  2. Place the eggplant shells on a greased baking sheet and lightly brush the inside of each half with about 1 teaspoon of olive. Bake until the shells are softened but not brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. In a heavy skillet heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add quinoa and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, eggplant, salt and pepper, and cook until the eggplant is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and olives and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the parsley, oregano and basil, and stir well.
  6. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3/4 cup of bread crumbs and mix well into the vegetables. Stir in the feta and pine nuts, and re-season as needed.
  7. Divide the filling among the eggplant shells, and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese over the tops.
  8. Bake until the tops are golden and the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Drizzle with a bit of quality olive oil before serving.


Originally Posted in “Greek Style Japanese Eggplant


photo: Ben Alsop

photo: Ben Alsop

contributed by Katy Morris

Have you heard about Blue Hill Yogurt yet?

This trailblazing stuff is brilliant! Made with milk from 100% grass-fed cows from family-owned farms in the Northeast and flavored with simple, fresh ingredients, all natural Blue Hill Yogurt is available in 6 VEGGIE based flavors, beet, carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash, tomato, and parsnip. And they’re all gluten-free.

Launched in 2013 by the owners of one of my favorite farm-to-table restaurants, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Blue Hill Yogurts have taken the Northeast by storm.

photo: Kyle Orosz

photo: Kyle Orosz

My initial skepticism of the veggie based yogurt quickly dissipated with a couple of tastes; all of the bright-colored unique flavors are pleasantly smooth and very well balanced. The vibrant pink beet yogurt starts out tangy and sweet but then releases earthy overtones (this is my favorite of them all).

The savory butternut squash yogurt vaguely reminded me of pumpkin pie and I could easily identify the warming spice combination of cinnamon, sage, clove, and nutmeg.

photo: Kyle Orosz

photo: Kyle Orosz

Their carrot flavor was very sweet and you can really taste the carrot come through. Tart and suitably acidic, the tomato flavor is distinctive; I couldn’t imagine eating this as a morning breakfast, but think this would be fantastic used in one of the many recipes they suggest on their website, like the Farro and Cherry Tomato Salad.

The parsnip was packed with a sweet-earthy-malty flavors, and the sweet potato, while similar to the butternut squash, was pleasantly sweet (from the maple sugar) tangy, creamy, and savory.

photo: Ben Alsop

photo: Ben Alsop


As a locavore who appreciates knowing where my food is coming from, I loved the whimsical way Blue Hill introduces us to the cow under the lid. While the yogurt is enjoyable straight from the cup, some of the recipes (and video tutorials) offered on their website are too good to pass up. These include Sweet Potato Cheesecake, Minted Carrot and Cabbage Slaw, and Carrot Oatmeal Muffins – yum!

Although Blue Hill Yogurts are not certified kosher, they are made in a kosher facilityMaple Hill Creamery .

Blue Hill yogurts are available in Whole Foods Markets and smaller grocery stores throughout the Northeast.  To find the closest place to you, go to their website’s store locator.

Their Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Herbs, Feta and Pine Nuts looks particularly tantalizing.  Check it out, below.

Thank you, Noey, at First Press PR, for your help with this post.


Roasted Beets with Fresh Herbs, Feta and Pine Nuts

Roasted Beets with Fresh Herbs, Feta and Pine Nuts

Blue Hill veggie yogurts are great on their own and add bright flavors in salads and other recipes you'll find on their website.

This DAIRY recipe is courtesy of Blue Hill Farm.

Photo: Blue Hill Yogurt


  • 2 pounds medium red beets, trimmed and scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 (6-ounce) container Blue Hill Yogurt - Beet
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (1 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F with rack in middle.
  2. Layer 2 large sheets of foil; place beets on top. Drizzle beets with oil and season well with salt and pepper, then tightly wrap in the double layer of foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a knife, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.
  4. Remove beets from oven, then carefully unwrap and transfer to a plate. When cool enough to handle, peel beets, discarding roots and stem ends, then cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl; refrigerate to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, horseradish, vinegar, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and generous pinch pepper. Stir in shallot, mint and dill, mixing well to combine.
  6. Add beets to dressing, then stir well to combine. Gently stir in nuts and cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Originally Posted in “Blue Hill Yogurt Takes Savory Turn

Nicole Juliano Peranick Self Photo

It’s all about love, comfort, joy and a celebration of family traditions at With Love From the Cupboard, a Westport, Connecticut based boutique-styled artisanal bakery full of delectable, heartwarming desserts.

When she was a little girl, Chef and owner of With Love From the Cupboard, Nicole Peranick spent her afternoons and weekends happily baking with her grandmother. She would often tip toe downstairs, as her parents were still sleeping, so she could surprise them with warm pancakes and baked treats she loved to whip up. Her passion for creating gratifying culinary treasures exudes from her baked goods, and she has her grandmother to thank. The treats of With Love From the Cupboard cleverly blend a sense of tradition with a sophisticated, modern touch.

French Macarons

Nicole relocated to Connecticut from New Jersey with her husband in 2012 (lucky for us!) and has since been satisfying the sophisticated palates of Fairfield County with her unique sweet menu.

Her most popular item is the Gluten Free Macaron, a light yet indulgent Parisian style pastry with decadent fillings inspired by her Italian heritage. My favorites are the Tiramisu Macaron (chocolate shells with an espresso mascarpone buttercream filling) and the Spumoni Macaron (cherry chocolate shells with a pistachio cream and maraschino cherry filling).  These mouthwatering, distinctive flavor combinations are perfetto! The dairy-free fresh fruit jellies are made with seasonal produce and change with the season (flavors include white peach, passion fruit, and blood orange). She recommends munching on these for a sweet snack or using them as a fun garnish in a cocktail.

Chocolate Custard Profiteroles

For those nostalgic for their Nonna‘s baked treats, Nicole would love to work with you to recreate your favorite family recipe. Maybe you are dreaming of that fragrant apple pie you had as a kid, but you haven’t found the perfect gluten free recipe that brings you back to those great flavors.

Having trouble finding non-dairy desserts that taste like your Bubbe’s?

No problem. Nicole relishes the challenge of making adjustments as needed based on dietary and/or allergen restrictions (check out the fantastic Gluten and Dairy Free Cranberry Pear Almond Tea Cake recipe she gave us below!).


You can find Chef Nicole twice a month at the Westport Farmer’s Market or every Tuesday at New Canaan’s Farmer’s Market. She makes an effort to support local farmers and  uses locally sourced ingredients when possible, like the produce used in her jams, the maple syrup, and the eggs, which are from The Farmer’s Cow.

Find her in these CT. stores.

In addition to the standard “sweet treasures” she offers regularly (sweet breads, cupcakes, macrons, cookies), Nicole is able to accommodate custom catering orders (dairy free, gluten free, anything!) and is even willing to hand deliver throughout Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

With Love from the Cupboard

971 Post Road East
Westport, CT 06880

Visits are by appointment only at this time. Contact Nicole here.



Cranberry Pear Almond Tea Cake

8-10 servings

Cranberry Pear Almond Tea Cake

This gluten free and dairy free cake recipe was created by Nicole Peranick, With Love From the Cupboard.

It sings with flavors of Autumn and Winter. It is delicious with afternoon tea or as a non-dairy delight after dinner.

For kosher keepers who want a parve recipe but prefer to use all purpose flour, see Nicole's note about substitution, below.


  • 2 cups chopped pears (Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc mix)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, plumped in hot water then drained
  • 1 jumbo sized egg, beaten (recommend The Farmer’s Cow)
  • 1 ¾ cup gluten free all purpose flour (recommend Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • sliced blanched almonds
  • 1 thinly sliced pear, lightly brushed with canola oil (to prevent over-browning)
  • apricot nappage or preserves, warmed


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter, flour, and parchment line in 8 inch round pan.
  2. Combine pears, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and oil in a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Add egg, flour, baking soda and cranberries. Mix just enough to combine.
  4. Place batter in pan. Stop with sliced pears and almonds.
  5. Bake 40-50 minutes until done, toothpick inserted will center will come out clean.
  6. Cool and unmold tea cake. Lightly brush on apricot glaze for an elegant finish.


“Cupboard Twists” From Pastry Chef Nicole Peranick:

For a hint of citrus, add zest of ½ orange.

Soak cranberries in brandy or pear liquor overnight for a sweet indulgence, instead of plumping in hot water.

Not gluten-free? Substitute for 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour.

Originally Posted in “Nostalgic For Your Bubbe’s Recipe?


photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

Contributed by Shannon Sarna, blogger and content editor at The Nosher.

I hate pareve desserts. Hate. Despise. Abhor. Loathe. Detest. Any other synonyms I missed?

In my culinary endeavors, I am first and always a baker. I love using butter, heavy cream and buttermilk whenever possible. So pareve baking is truly the worst challenge with which I have to contend as a kosher cook.

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

But in my never-ending quest to create pareve desserts that don’t “taste pareve” I have a few tried-and-true, quality nondairy desserts that always satisfy. And when someone takes a bite and says incredulously, “this is pareve?” I know I have done my job well.

When I test out pareve dessert recipes, the number one thing I look for is minimal alterations. You will never find me making a pareve cheesecake dessert or something that would require more than 1-2 ingredient swaps. Breads and cakes that use water-rich vegetables like carrots, zucchini and sweet potatoes in particular produce a very moist result. .

Here are some of my favorite parave dessert recipes:

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting,  Recipe BELOW. Click here for Toasted Marshmallow Frosting.

Hershey’s Chocolate Cake  Click here for recipe. To make this cake pareve just substitute vanilla almond milk or coconut milk for the regular milk the recipe calls for.  I recommend using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. It will not come out the same without a deep, rich cocoa powder.

Citrus Angel Food Cake from Zoe Bakes, Click here for recipe.

Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse from the New York Times, Click here for recipe.

Zucchini Bread from Food and Wine, click here for recipe. 

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

photo courtesy of Shannon Sarna

Note from Liz:

The power of social media never ceases to amaze and thrill me. I “met” Shannon through The Nosher, a great resource about Jewish food on My Jewish Learning. After following each other on twitter and FB for a good few months, we finally met for real over late afternoon tea and macarons on a frigid day in NYC.  A mutual friend, who first told me that I just HAD to meet Shannon, joined us for our first cup. We had lots to talk about. I felt relieved to have more than 140 characters in which to share all that excites us in the Jewish food world.  And I’m grateful to friends and readers who go out of their way to connect like-minded eaters.

I was honored to be highlighted in a Blogger Profile on Nosher, here.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

12 cupcakes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

This easy non-dairy recipe was shared by Shannon Sarna, blogger and content editor at THE NOSHER.

From Shannon: I have been making this recipe for sweet potato cake for years and people are always shocked when I share that the recipe is dairy-free. And now it’s your turn to wow guests with this sweet treat.

When paired with Martha Stewart’s simple Marshmallow Frosting Recipe it makes the perfect Fall dessert. And hey, this totally counts as a serving of vegetables, so have two.


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap in tin foil. Roast for 40-50 minutes ofr until soft. Let cool.
  2. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out flesh. Place in a food processor fitted with a blade and pulse until smooth.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add pureed sweet potatoes, sugar and oil to a large bowl. Beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture in batches; beat just until blended.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line and grease muffin tins. Fill muffin trays until 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out cool. Allow to cool.
  7. Make frosting.
  8. Pipe frosting in a swirl on top of each cupcake. Using a hand-held blow torch, gently drag the torch across the frosting, toasting the frosting until just lightly brown.


Find the recipe for Marshmallow Frosting by clicking the link provided in the post above.

image courtesy of Fort Hill Farm, CT

image courtesy of Fort Hill Farm, CT

contributed by Katy Morris

In the bitter cold of February here in the Northeast, we are shining the spotlight on a locally grown, versatile root vegetable, the rutabaga.

 Ruta- What?

Rutabagas, otherwise known as swedes, are members of the Brassica family. Although not brightly colored or calling out for attention like some of your other winter favorites, don’t overlook this pleasantly earthy, mildly sweet veg. They are actually super nutritious, tasty, affordable, and easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes. Rutabagas are a cross between cabbages and turnips. They are a tad sweeter, larger, rounder, and denser than their turnip relative. Their bulbous bottom is a cream color and the shoulders are a purplish hue.


Where and when should I get them?

As always, your local farmer’s markets are always your best bet to get recently dug rutabagas.  Local Harvest is a really great resource to find your closest markets – check it out here.  If you must get them from your supermarket, just be aware that they will likely wax the vegetable in an effort to hold in the moisture. Although rutabagas are available all year, the quality of these thrifty root vegetables peaks around now through March.

Rutabaga (4)

What should I look for?

Rutabagas have a cream colored, bulbous bottom with purple hued shoulders. You want to make sure that the ones you pick are free of blemishes, soft spots and cracks and they should be very firm and relatively heavy. Choose rutabagas that are about 4-6 inches high, which is indicative of their maturity.


They are on my counter. How do I handle them?

Since rutabagas are pretty big and have a thick skin, people often assume that prepping them is a daunting task; however it’s not as hard as it looks. Get your large chef knife, paring knife (or vegetable peeler) and cutting board ready to go. After rinsing and drying the rutabaga, cut off the top and the bottom so that it doesn’t roll around on the surface. Then, using your peeler, scrape off the outer layer and be sure to get all the wax off (if you’ve purchased them someplace other than a farmers market).  You want to see the yellowish flesh of the bulb once peeled properly, not green or white. Once peeled, chop or slice, depending on how you plan on cooking them.

Rutabagas store extremely well. If you don’t want to prep and cook them right away, put the unwashed veggies in the drawer of your fridge, where they will be just fine for up to a month.

Rutabaga (2)

Prepped…and ready. Now what?

These guys are very versatile. You can eat them raw (as a snack, grated or julienned in your salad or cole slaw) or cooked (roasted, mashed, stewed, boiled, steamed – you name it!).  Some of the most popular ways to use them are as a substitute for mashed potatoes, roasted alongside potatoes, carrots, and onions, or creamed into a hot soup. Although the bulb is the most popular part to use, the greens are also edible. Note that they are pretty bitter, and can be used raw in salads or added to soups and stews.

rutabaga (3)

Recipe, please!

Thank you to Nancy Roper of Truck in Bedford, NY for this fantastic Winter Vegetable Taco recipe featuring locally grow rutabaga.

Winter Vegetable Tacos

12 tacos

Winter Vegetable Tacos

This vegetarian recipe was shared by Nancy Roper, TRUCK, Bedford, NY

To make this recipe vegan and parve (non-dairy) simply leave out the cheese on the topping, or use your fave vegan cheese.


  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1 inch size cubes
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed not peeled, cut into similar size pieces as rutabaga
  • 2 cups red cabbage,1 inch size pieces
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed, larger sprouts cut in half
  • 1-2 leeks, split down the middle cut into inch size pieces
  • 8 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup nice quality oil, safflower, sunflower, or olive oil, for roasting and sautéing
  • salt, we prefer Maldon, to taste


  1. Prepare vegetables and keep separate. In a bowl, toss the rutabagas in a little of the oil, salt to taste, spread on cookie sheet and place in 350 oven. Repeat same procedure with carrots. Roast carrots and rutabagas until cubes are soft in center and have brown edges.
  2. Cook leeks over medium heat, salt to taste. Cook until leeks are tender and translucent about 10 minutes. Repeat same process for red cabbage, may need to add a little water, 1/2 cup, cook until cabbage is tender.
  3. Blanche brussels sprouts in boiling water 1-2 minutes, shock in ice water, drain completely. When sprouts are completely drained add to sauté pan (medium high). Be sure not to overcook, but do lightly caramelize the sprouts.
  4. Mix all the vegetables in a bowl. When ready to serve tacos, the veg mixture must be hot, so heat in sauté pan or oven, briefly.
  5. *For the taco shells, for a soft taco you may use a small flour tortilla, however, we use fresh corn tortillas.
  6. Place 1/2 cup of hot vegetable mixture and top with tablespoon or so of fresh goat cheese and pico de gallo.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy!


* Using tongs dip the tortilla in boiling water for a second, remove and heat tortilla on both sides on a cast iron pan, nonstick pan or electric pancake griddle. This is a bit tricky. If you remove the tortilla too soon it tears and sticks to the pan. If tortilla stays too long on the griddle it will not bend into a taco shape…be sure to have extra tortillas and practice! Tortillas need to be served right away. You may hold them in a moist tea towel for about 10 minutes.

Originally Posted in “Seasonal Snippet: Diggin’ Rutabagas

2013-05-21 11.47.05-1

contributed by Katy Morris

Recipe by Liz Rueven

No gluten. No dairy. No soy. No GMO’s. No processed sugar. No chemicals. No preservatives. No GMO’s. 100% Organic. 100% delicious. No kidding.

I encourage you to run, not walk, to Grass Rxoots of Old Greenwich, CT, for it’s many vegetarian, vegan and kosher-friendly choices.

Grass Rxoots is subtly nuzzled within the Upper Crust Bagel Company (the bagels and pastries were not at all tempting after taking one look at the assortment of colorful veggie meals and snacks) where you’ll find some of the healthiest and healing offerings in the form of pure, organic, raw, seasonal, veggie-centric, simply delicious foods and juices.

paleo veggie frittata

paleo veggie frittata

A collaborative and innovative creation, GrassRxoots was started by a local medical doctor, Dr. Stephen Murphy, whose practice is based on wellness & preventative care and weight management, and a local Old Greenwich couple/owners of a bagel & coffee shop, Amy and Rob Guerrieri, who went to him to help address their daughter’s mysterious health issues. Soon after, the knowledgeable Holistic Nutritionist and culinary master, Heidi Fagley, and yet another renowned medical doctor, Kathy O’Neil, joined the team.

Together, they have created a delectable line of pure food and a corresponding wellness support program that are both based on the philosophy that real food can essentially be medicinal and truly change your life for the better…and by the way, it tastes really darn good.

photo (2)

Kosher Like Me was invited to a low-key lunch on a rainy New England day to come check out what all the fuss was all about and indulge in some new veggie treats. We sat with one of the owners, Amy, the Director of Business Development, Marketing, Outreach & Operations (phew – mouthful!), Rhoby, and the master chef/ nutritionist, Heidi. In between large mouthfuls of the colorful veggie dishes, I listened to their story.

Their dedication to serving only the most wholesome, seasonal, pure food was truly admirable and I instantly knew the like-minded readers of KLM would feel the same way. While Grass Rxoots has a regular standing menu of salads, soups, breakfasts, entrees, and juices,  they change up their ingredients based on what is available and organic from season to season, and even sometimes, week to week.


Heidi creates the tantalizing concoctions of the menu, which are then “approved” by the doctors to ensure utmost health nutrition in each dish. I checked out the array of options in the open fridge and could have eaten practically everything (note that they do offer free-range, grass-fed meats in some of their dishes. They are not kosher) with delight.

At a loss, I asked Amy for recommendations. I then sat down and enjoyed a refreshingly flavorful, crunchy, raw, vegan kale salad made with kale, chopped onions, bell peppers, raisins, walnuts, and a tahini-lemon dressing, and an exotic hot cauliflower-curry pureed soup that hit the spot on this yucky day.

2013-08-27 09.29.30-1

The flavor combinations – although quite simple and straightforward – were tasty and enjoyable. I asked Heidi what her favorite dish was and she told me that the “chillin’ oats”, a breakfast option, was very popular with customers and is one of her favorites. Amy and Rhoby then chimed in the same…how could I resist? I’ll take one, please!

Organic raw oats made with cashew milk, agave, cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt, and topped with nuts…this was more of a dessert for me than a breakfast option. It had a smooth, hearty consistency, a hint of cinnamon and vanilla, and a welcome touch of nutritious crunch from the walnut topping. Delish.

2013-08-23 10.24.15

I also decided to take home the “detox salad” for later – another simple yet flavor-packed choice made with finely chopped cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, raisins, lemon juice, date paste, and salt & pepper.

Although I did not taste their famous raw & unpasteurized juices, I learned that they take the same seasonal fruits & veggies that are use in their meals and juice them using a Norwalk Juicer, which essentially allows them to retain all the wonderful nutrient-dense benefits into a single bottle.

2013-07-30 09.54.36

Grass Rxoots also offers detox-cleansing programs – one with juice & food, one with only juice – that are aimed at making you feel clean, pure and great…just like all of their offerings. I was pleased to hear that the dynamic bunch is planning on expanding their reach and is now serving their deliciously nutritious food at the new Steam Coffee in Westport, as well as Stamford’s Sportsplex, and Noelle Day Spa.

In the spirit of Grass Rxoots’ daily chef’s choice of soups, one seasonal vegan and one seasonal paleo, Liz whipped up her vegan (parve) Curried Butternut Squash soup for you to enjoy on yet, another snowy winter day here in the Northeast.

Grass Rxoots is located inside the Upper Crust Bagel Company

197 Sound Beach Avenue Old Greenwich, CT. Click here for more info and to view their menu.

All photos, other than the Curried Butternut Squash Soup, below, are courtesy of Grass Rxoots.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe and photo, Liz Rueven, Kosher Like Me.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

10 servings

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This butternut squash soup is a warming addition to any autumn or winter meal. I love to use the orange spices, which add a little heat. Season to your taste and blend to a creamy consistency. No dairy needed!

This soup is vegan and parve.


  • 1/4 tsp slivered almonds, toasted (optional, for topping)
  • 3 Tb olive oil
  • 3.5-4 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 red onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Qts. organic vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon


  1. In a small, nonstick pan, toast slivered almonds until lightly browned. Remove and set aside for topping.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot and sauté onions and carrots until softened, 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add chopped squash and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add all of the seasoning and 2 quarts of broth.
  5. Simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender to the fork.
  6. Remove from heat, uncover and cool before blending.
  7. Blend to a smooth puree with an immersion blender, food processor or standard blender.
  8. Top soup with slivered almonds and a dash of paprika.


After cooking and when cool enough to handle, blend the soup to a creamy consistency using an immersion blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Leeks recently pulled

Contributed by Katy Morris

We are very excited to introduce a brand new series…Seasonal Snippets! These monthly posts will provide you with everything you need to know about the most interesting seasonal fruits and veggies so that locavores can continue to eat the diverse bounties of our land all year long.

What the heck is kohlrabi? How should I incorporate fresh figs into a recipe…and where can I even get them? Rutabaga-whata? And how do I handle celeriac? We will answer these questions and much more…

Now, you’re probably thinking it’s odd to launch this series in the dead of winter when the ground is frozen under a foot of snow. It’s my own sneaky way of trying to get you excited about some local ingredients that you may not have paid much attention to.  Take a walk through your farmers’ market and you will be pleasantly surprised by the shift of sights, fragrances and energy as we appreciate mid-winter ingredients and their subtle pleasures.

We kick off this exciting new series with the versatile cold weather crop, leeks.


What exactly are leeks?

You’ve probably heard of leeks as they are pretty popular in soups, but there are lots of creative ways to incorporate this vegetable into a variety of dishes, like the one we featured in September, Imam Bayeldi.  Leeks belong to the allium family – the same as onions. Although they look nothing alike and are cooked very differently, they indeed share a botanical relation and are also both aromatics.  Most of the time, people eat the white and lighter green parts of leeks, but the darker greens also have great flavor (more on this later).


What do they taste like?

Raw leeks have a pretty sharp taste similar to onions, but when cooked properly, they have a much more subtle and sweet flavor.


Are “wild leeks” and “leeks” the same thing?

Nope, they are not. Wild leeks or “ramps” are a different variety and have a much stronger aroma and flavor.


When do leeks grow?

Although they are available for growing year round, leeks are at their best starting in the fall through the early part of spring, so January is primetime.


 What do I look for when buying leeks?

Just like scallions, leeks are generally sold in bunches. Keep in mind that younger leeks tend to have a more delicate texture and flavor. You can tell the maturity of a leek by its bottom; if they are becoming bulbous, they have matured a little bit too much.

Select leeks that have deep, vibrant green leaves with cream-colored bottoms – these are the freshest – and stay away from dulled, yellowing ones. The best ones will also be firm and free of blemishes.


How do I store them?

You should not trim or wash the leeks before storing. Leeks’ strong aroma can permeate the refrigerator and be absorbed by other foods, so it’s best to store them uncooked in plastic wrap in the veggie crisper. Depending on how mature your leeks are, they can be stored anywhere from 1-2 weeks. If you are going to use your leeks for a main dish, don’t freeze them, as this tends to give them a bitter taste.


Walk me through the parts of this vegetable.

There are four main parts to a leek, and the only part that is unusable is the root end.


  • Generally, the dark outer leaves have been removed when sold in grocery stores. You will likely still see the outer leaves still on at the farmer’s market though. Keep in mind that these can be great for flavoring veggie stocks.
  • Greens tend to be removed and not used, but these can also be great in a number of ways (see below). Don’t get rid of these.
  • Light green/white parts are called for in most recipes.
  • Root ends can be thrown away and are not used in cooking.


How do I clean them?

Leeks attract dirt, so especially if you are buying them from your local farmer’s market, you need to wash them thoroughly. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t simply rinse and cook leeks since the dirt tends to get deep inside them; this is because soil gets piled up around them when grown ( called “blanching”) so that the majority of the leek is hidden from the sun . This makes them lighter in color and increases their tenderness.


The methods for cleaning depend on the way you are using them in the dish you are preparing. When using them chopped (common for soups), you should first cut off the roots, slice lengthwise, then cross cut. Put the chopped leeks into a bowl filled with cold water and toss them to remove any stuck pieces of dirt. Finally, scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon and put in a dry bowl.


For prepping whole leeks, you will approach it a little differently: slice lengthwise about two or so inches from each end, leaving the center in tact. Then, while rinsing under cold water, fan out and rub the leaves to get the dirt off.


How are they used in cooking?

This vegetable is extremely versatile. You can steam ‘em, bake ’em, sauté ‘em, chop ‘em, braise ‘em, use ‘em in stews and soups, as a garnish, side dish, or even a main. With its subtle flavor, leeks tend to pair particularly well with fish, potatoes and sometimes even raw in salads.

As we mentioned above, while many people think only the white parts of a leek should be used, there are great ways to use the green parts as well – making this a great two-in-one vegetable.

leeks browned

Tell me more about the green parts…

The green parts are generally long and flat and hence can be cut up in various ways, depending on the recipe.  They also have a flavor difference: the white part tends to be more delicate and the green more robust, which is why many people use them for stock. You can simply sauté them (low heat is recommended) for about 5-7 minutes, stir-fry (cook briefly), simmer (with 1 cup great vegetable broth and a dash of salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes), or add them in your favorite casserole or soup.


What does “sweating” mean?

This is very important. When recipes call for sautéed leeks, it really means you should “sweat” them. Just like sautéing, when you are sweating leeks, you start with a little bit of oil. But unlike sautéing, you should continue to simmer them over low heat, covered, in their own juices for about 10-20 minutes (depending on quantity) such that they are soft and tender but not browned.


Interesting Tidbits:


  • Leeks have been around since 4000 B.C. and were a big part of the Egyptians’ and Mesopotamia diet.
  • The leek is the national emblem of Wales; the cap badge of the Welsh Guards is actually a leek.
  • From our September post: Leeks are traditional on Sephardic tables on Rosh Hashanah. Click to read more.



Here’s a recipe from Cecily Gans, a well known chef and foods educator, certified holistic health counselor and executive chef/owner of The Main Course Catering in Fairfield, CT. She has taught Culinary Arts at Staples High School for almost 15 years and developed the curriculum for that program.

Roasted Cod with Caramelized Leeks over Puréed Yukon Gold Potatoes

3-4 servings fish, 4 servings potatoes

Roasted Cod with Caramelized Leeks over Puréed Yukon Gold Potatoes

Cecily Gans' recipe marries the bright flavors of leeks with mild, moist fish. She doubled the potato recipe with plenty to spare for those not watching their carb and fat intake.


  • 1 pound cod loin, in 2 portions – monk fish or sea bass will also work well
  • 2 small sprigs fresh thyme, picked
  • Maldon salt, to taste
  • Grains of paradise, to taste (or freshly ground black pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 leeks, trimmed to below the light green border, cut into ¼” rounds
  • 1 small head fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed, finely julienned
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, finely julienned
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked
  • ¼ cup extra dry Vermouth
  • 1 ½-2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved if large
  • Up to 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • Up to 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 375º, (for the fish) ‘convection roast’ if you have that setting.
  2. Boil the potatoes, starting in an ample amount of cold water until fork tender (20-25 minutes, depending on your stovetop and size of potato).
  3. While you are waiting for the potatoes, coat the fish in the olive oil and place on a parchment covered pan. Sprinkle with salt, thyme and ground grains of paradise (or pepper) and place in the oven.
  4. In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat until the viscosity lightens, add the leeks and sauté until wilted. Reduce the heat and caramelize slowly until golden brown. Move them to one side and add the butter.
  5. Add the fennel and thyme and combine, continuing until the fennel is cooked, but not wilted.
  6. Add the vermouth, stir and add the kale, continuing to mix until the kale is also cooked, but still has some volume. Season to taste.
  7. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat with the allotted butter to a simmer.
  8. Drain the potatoes when tender.
  9. Remove the fish from the oven when it begins to flake if pressed very gently (approximately 15 minutes, depending on your oven).
  10. Place the potatoes through a fine ricer, add cream/butter mix slowly and gently fold in until the potatoes are soft and light. Depending on starch content, you may have some cream leftover. Do not over-mix, season with salt.
  11. To plate, put your potatoes on the bottom, approximately ¾ cup. Using a spatula gently place a piece of fish over the top of the potatoes and place the leek, fennel and kale mix on top.


This recipe is dairy, but can be made parve by using non-dairy margarine and almond milk instead of butter and cream.








Originally Posted in “Seasonal Snippets: Leeks in Midwinter


photo courtesy of  The Schoolhouse

photo courtesy of The Schoolhouse

Contributed by Katy Morris

In a charming New England setting alongside the whispering Norwalk River in Wilton, Connecticut, sits a quaint and humble looking one-room schoolhouse that is home to a superior dining experience. The Schoolhouse of Cannondale, owned and operated by Tim LaBant since 2006, offers hungry patrons an upscale yet homey surrounding in which to enjoy thoughtfully constructed fare using familiar, mostly organic, seasonal ingredients in creative ways.

papardelle with mushroom ragout and fried kale

Liz offered the opportunity to join her for one of her fave CT. vegetarian experiences, by posting on her facebook page once we set the reservation. A friendly group of readers and like-minded eaters gathered over an extraordinary meal and became acquainted as we dished about the scrumptious food and more. These fixed price Vegetarian Wednesdays (which are going to continue indefinately given the excellent reception from diners) have become a winter tradition at the Schoolhouse.

baby carrots, watercress puree, orange and smoked celeraic

Think perfectly plated, vibrantly deep orange carrots, freshly pulled from the cold winter soil, alongside a smoked celeriac “cake” and juicy blood orange slices, drizzled with a luminous green emulsion of watercress puree adorning the plate; sautéed cauliflower slices mixed with nutty house made walnut milk and complemented by the unique taste of pickled cauliflower and warm sautéed dark greens. We’re talking an eye-and-palate pleasing impressive tutorial that earned the Schoolhouse an easy A+.

The four course vegetarian menu,  printed on a single sheet with easy to read and concise descriptions, warmly welcomed the Rueven party at the top of the page. The menu offered two enticing options for each course. Luckily, between all of us, we were able to order everything on the menu, which consisted of a thoughtful balance of heavy versus light options that were perfectly portioned on generously sized plates. And all of this, fairly priced (maybe even a bargain) at $40. per person.

lentil soup with saffron creme

First dishes up were the hot lentil soup with a saffron crème, and a roasted beet tartar with tarragon emulsion and arugula. The lentil soup was hearty and tasty, quite a comforting option for one of the crazy frigid days we’ve been experiencing here in the Northeast.

roasted beet tartar over arugula, tarragon emulsion and citrus

As we ate the beet tartar, made with capers, red onions, lemon juice, pickle juice, and a little bit of vinegar, dressed with a tarragon emulsion, and paired with locally sourced arugula and little bit of grapefruit, our palates perked up with the wonderfully balanced, earthy taste of the unique combination.

fried duck egg , confit potatoes, thyme butter leeks and fresh herbs (nasturtium)

The choices for course two consisted of a fried duck egg with confit potatoes, thyme butter leeks, and fresh herbs (wow!) or baby carrots with watercress puree, blood orange, and smoked celeriac. We couldn’t believe the delectable richness of the duck egg. We could instantly taste and see the difference from a chicken egg, as it was noticeably bigger and overall had a distinct, lush taste (head on over to The Speckled Rooster in Westport to buy them!)

Cauliflower steaks over wilted greens, walnut milk and pickled cauliflower

We were impressed, again with course three: a house made pappardelle pasta with a mushroom ragout (including shiitake and trumpet), topped with fried kale; OR wilted greens dish with cauliflower “steaks”, house made walnut milk, and pickled cauliflower. Both were fantastic, but the pasta would be our valedictorian (recipe below).

Chef LeBant makes the pasta in-house from scratch and shared his simple recipe, below. The hefty pasta combined with the “meaty” mushrooms in a light, creamy sauce topped with light, crispy kale was simply divine.

The crunchy sautéed cauliflower paired with the sautéed greens was also a veggie-loaded delight. Note that the walnut milk is made in house and actually does contain dairy. They create it by steeping walnuts in milk and pureeing it such that it can add an appropriate amount of woodsy, nutty protein to the dish.

warm orange toffee cake, blood orange curd, warm passion fruit cream, coconut sorbet


Choices for dessert were a warm orange toffee cake with blood orange curd, warm passion fruit cream, and coconut sorbet, OR a rosemary caramel & white chocolate custard with pink grapefruit and grapefruit cava sorbet. Both choices rendered us speechless. There were a lot of flying forks reaching for tastes of shared bites .

The icy cold, super clean coconut sorbet –really, a refreshing palate cleanser – paired exceptionally well with the warm, smooth passion fruit cream and the moist orange toffee cake, which was robed in a citrus glaze and had a flawlessly thin layer of crunch on top. This was a generous portion and perfectly balanced with contrasting flavors and textures – the cherry on top of our fantastic meal if you will. The smooth, creamy rosemary-infused custard contrasted with the tangy grapefruit to create a delectable juxtaposition of flavors – a perfect conclusion to a wonderfully executed dinner.

rosemary caramel and white chocolate custard, pink grapefruit, grapefruit cava sorbet

Tim LeBant and his crew (including Sous Chef, Nick Verdisco who is the creative mastermind of the vegetarian menu) strive to ensure they offer wide-ranging options that provide a variety of flavors, textures, colors, and richness. As always, LaBant makes every effort to obtain organic, locally sourced ingredients (many from Millstone Farm, just up the road in Wilton), but at times that tends to be a challenge. I had to ask why “Substitutions Politely Declined” was noted on their menu, to which the answer was that they spend a considerable amount of time and effort constructing a given dish to ensure optimal flavor, and texture, and if a customer requests a change to an ingredient, it could throw off the whole dish.

That being said, Tim assured me that they are 100% able to accommodate vegetarian diners with a smile…we love that. Call ahead for reservations (way ahead) and for special requests.

Schoolhouse Restaurant:

34 Cannon Rd, Wilton, CT 06897 | email: | call: (203) 834-9816


Tim was kind enough to share the recipe for our favorite dish of the night, the Pappardelle Pasta with Mushroom Ragout. Enjoy!

Pappardelle Pasta Dough

Pappardelle Pasta Dough

Serves 8-10, dairy

Pappardelle is a fat, wide pasta, perfect for handling this hefty mushroom ragout, below. These broad noodles are named pappardelle from the Italian root "pappare", meaning "to gobble up". You get the picture.


  • 18.75 oz. flour
  • 3 oz. Semolina
  • 5 Lg eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t milk
  • 2 t salt


  1. Pulse in a Cuisinart 15-20 times
  2. Knead 20 minutes by hand
  3. Wrap in plastic rest 30 minutes to rest at room temp
  4. Roll pasta out ,cut in to pappardelle and dust with semolina


This Pappardelle recipe and the Mushroom Ragout recipe that follows, were provided by Tim LaBant, owner and Chef at The Schoolhouse, Cannondale, CT.

Thank you, Tim, for sharing the recipes for our favorite dish!

Tip: If you are not up for making your own pasta, buy fresh sheets of lasagna and cut them into wide strips, modeled after pappardelle.

Mushroom Ragout

6 servings

This is a Dairy recipe.

Using a variety of mushrooms provides a complexity of flavors and textures. These less common varieties are well worth seeking out for their meaty textures and subtle nutty, herbaceous flavors.


  • mixed mushrooms (Trumpet Royals, Hen of the Woods, Black Trumpets, Beech, Honshimeji) any fresh mushrooms can be used
  • 2 avg sized shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 C Sherry
  • 1/2 T fresh thyme
  • 1/4 C of fresh parsley leaves (packed) minced after measuring
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T Balsamic
  • 1 T Cream
  • Parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Start a pot of water for cooking pasta
  2. In a large skillet sautee mushrooms, & shallots on high heat to caramelize
  3. Add garlic & saute 1 min
  4. Add sherry and reduce
  5. When most of sherry has cooked out add thyme and balsamic vinegar, reduce again
  6. Once liquid has become thick, add cream and parsley; remove from heat.
  7. Cook pasta and test for doneness. When done, add strained pasta to mushrooms and incorporate pasta into mushroom ragout. Toss gently making sure not to break up the pappardelle.

Originally Posted in “Vegetarian Wednesdays Deserve an A Plus