Monday, January 25, 2021

Shivat Haminim / Seven Species Muffins for Tu B'Shvat

Tu B'Shvat is a holiday when we celebrate and the fruit of the land that Hashem has given us. It is a day to be thankful for all that Hashem has blessed us with. 

In the book of Devarim/Deuteronomy it is written that Hashem has blessed us by bringing us to a land of abundance:

אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ

 A land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey. 

These muffins celebrate those words, by using each of those fruits of the land 

Flour - Wheat

Barley - Beer 

Vines - Raisins 

Figs - Dried Figs

Pomegranates - Fresh Arils 

Olives - Olive Oil 

Honey - This is not referring to the honey from bees, but rather from dates that grow all over the country.

I also added some chopped almonds to these muffins because of the song that we sing on Tu B'Shvat -השקדיה פורחת

ושמש פז זורחת,
צפורים מראש כל גג
מבשרות את בוא החג.

ט"ו בשבט הגיע
חג לאילנות.

The almond tree is blooming
And the golden sun is shining,
Birds atop each roof
Announcing the arrival of the festival.

Tu B'Shvat has arrived
It's the festival of trees.

If you're not into using the fruits listed and you don't want to use beer don't worry the recipe has substitutions. 

Shivat Haminim / Seven Species Muffins for Tu B'Shvat

2 1/2 cups flour 

1 Tbsp  baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt 

1 cup mild flavor beer OR 1 cup buttermilk (1 cup milk or dairy-free milk of your choice + 1 Tbs lemon juice)

1/4 cup olive oil OR 1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs 

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup silan/date syrup OR 1/2 cup sugar 

1 cup chopped fresh and dried fruits - I used pomegranate seeds and dried figs, but feel free to use different dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, apricots, dates...

Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C 

Coat a standard-size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners. 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a liquid measuring cup mix together the beer, oil, eggs, and silan. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Make sure not to overmix your batter or else your muffins will be dense and chewy. Fold in the fruits. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with chopped almond and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes 

Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin before popping out and cooling on a rack. 

Yield: 12 standard-size muffins 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Potato Leek Soup

When I want to make soup, I usually open the fridge and pantry and try to make a recipe from things that I have on hand. This week my pickings were pretty slim and last night I was wondering do I even have anything to make soup for #soupsunday? Then I remembered I had a big ol' leek in the fridge and a few potatoes so potato leek soup it is! 

The beauty of this soup is that it has 8 ingredients - salt, pepper, water, olive oil, butter (which is optional, but delicious), white wine, and of course potatoes and leeks. I know you're thinking how can such simple ingredients make a really rich and creamy soup with no cream added? The key is to allow the leeks to slowly cook down and practically melt away in the olive oil. They become sweet and are the backbone of flavor to this soup so you want to make sure not to rush the process. After the leeks cook down, wine is added and slowly reduces and that adds another layer of flavor. Potatoes and water are then added to the pot and everything gently simmers until the potatoes are fall-apart tender. The soup then gets blended until smooth and that's it. 

Velvety, rich, creamy, and simply satisfying that's what this soup is all about. 

Potato Leek Soup 

2 medium leeks

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter (or use an additional tablespoon of olive oil if you don't want to use butter)


1/3 cup dry or semi-dry white wine*

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper 

900 grams/2 lbs about 3 large potatoes - In the US  use Yukon gold

3 cups of water 

To prepare the leeks cut off the root end and the dark green top and peel off the first layer and discard or you can save it all to make a scrap vegetable stock. Working with just the white and light green part of the leek, slice the leek in half lengthwise and then place the leek flat on your board and thinly slice into half-moons. Place the sliced leeks into a large bowl of water and using your fingers swish them around to allow any sand and grit that is trapped between the layers to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Using a slotted spoon or your hands skim the leeks out of the water and place on a kitchen towel to dry slightly before proceeding with the recipe. 

In a pot set over a medium-low flame, add the oil and butter and heat until the butter is melted. Add the cleaned leeks along with a good pinch of salt and allow the leeks to cook for 10-15 minutes stirring every few minutes until they have reduced in size and are soft and translucent. Don't rush the process if you see that they are getting dark around the edges lower the heat and let them gently cook. 

While the leeks are cooking prepare the potatoes, peel them and cut into about 1-inch chunks don't worry about the precision of your cut, but you do want them all relatively the same size so they cook at the same rate. Set the potatoes aside. 

Once the leeks have cooked down add the white wine and scrape anything that is stuck to the bottom of the and pot allow the wine to reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the black pepper, potatoes, water, and another pinch of salt. Raise the heat, bring to a boil and then reduce the flame to low, cover the pot and allow the soup to cook until the potatoes are really tender about 15-20 minutes. 

Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a stand blender, blend the soup until velvety smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. If the soup is too thick add more water 1/4 cup at a time until you are happy with the texture.

This soup is delicious as is or even more decadent with a swirl of heavy cream. 

I like to garnish the soup with a sprinkling of chopped chives to compliment the leek flavor of the soup and a tiny pinch of cracked black pepper to balance the richness.  

Yield: 4 servings 

This soup will last about a week in the fridge and it freezes beautifully. Just allow it to cool completely and store in an air-tight container. 

*White wine - there is 1/3 of a cup in the recipe - please use a wine that you would drink, a wine that you enjoy because why would you add something that doesn't taste good to your soup? If you don't have any wine on hand you can use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 2 tsp white wine vinegar and 1/4 cup of water.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Piña Colada Muffins

Winter has finally arrived here in Jerusalem as it has been raining on and off for the past few days. I have been waiting to make these muffins until it was really wintery out here because I think these are perfect rainy day muffins. Besides the fact that there is literally a chorus to a song about piña coladas and rain. These are great for a rainy winter day because while you watch the rain, you can take a bite of these muffins and get little bits of pineapple and coconut and you can imagine you are lying on a tropical beach somewhere sipping a piña colada. 

Piña colada literally means strained pineapple in Spanish and that is the main flavor of the famous drink and of these muffins. The other ingredients of the drink are rum and coconut cream. There isn't any rum in these muffins, but you can substitute the vanilla extract with rum extract if you've got it. I also wanted to amp up the coconut flavor so there are three types of coconut in these muffins. I use coconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut flakes so the batter itself has a mild coconut flavor and then there are chunks of coconut that give great texture to these muffins. 

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain then you're going to like these muffins. 

Piña Colada Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour 

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt 

1 cup coconut milk*

1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice

1/4 cup coconut oil*

2 large eggs 

2 tsp vanilla extract or rum extract

1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp for sprinkling on top 

1 cup finely diced pineapple**

1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes 

*You can use any type of milk in place of the coconut milk and canola oil can be used in place of the coconut oil. 

**You can use fresh, frozen that has been defrosted or canned. If using canned or frozen pineapple, make sure it is well-drained. 

Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C 

Coat a standard-size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners. When I make a muffin without a crumb topping I just spray the pans to pop the muffins right out because there's no issue of losing some crumb topping. 

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a liquid measuring cup mix together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the sugar. Mix until just combined. Make sure not to overmix your batter or else your muffins will be dense and chewy. Fold in the pineapple pieces and coconut flakes. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with the reserved sugar and a few more coconut flakes. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes 

Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin before popping out and cooling on a rack. 

Yield: 12 standard-size muffins 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Carrot Ginger Soup

Sweet carrots, bright ginger, and earthy turmeric all blended up with coconut cream make this soup rich, flavorful, and super satisfying. 

If you're able to get your hands on fresh turmeric this recipe is a great use for it! But if you do get your hands on some be sure to wear some gloves so it doesn't get all over your hands. If you don't have fresh turmeric don't worry you can still make this soup just keep in mind that dried herbs and spices have a more concentrated flavor than fresh so you just need to use a smaller amount. 

The carrots aren't just sauteed and boiled they are roasted to concentrate their sweetness to add another layer of flavor to the soup. 

Carrot Ginger Soup

1 kg/2.2 lbs carrots - about 10 medium carrots, peeled

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp silan/honey 

1/4 tsp cumin 


1 large onion, diced 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger - about a 1-inch piece

1 Tbsp freshly grated turmeric - about a 2-inch piece OR 1 tsp dried turmeric powder

Tiny pinch of chili flakes (optional)

1 can full-fat coconut cream

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups water 

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F 

Cut the peeled carrots on a bias into 1/4 inch medallions. 

Place the carrots in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, silan/honey, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Spread the carrots in a single layer on a parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 20-25 minutes. 

While the carrots roast heat 1 tablespoon of olive in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, and chili flakes if using. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the roasted carrots, coconut cream, and water. Don't add all of the water at once, start out with 2 1/2 cups. Add another pinch of salt and bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat, cover the pot, and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are tender. Blend the soup until smooth and add more water until you are happy with the thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. I like to finish the soup with a few leaves of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  

Yield: 4 servings 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Egg Muffins

These egg muffins are great as a grab and go breakfast and make for a flavorful protein-packed midday snack. You can make a big batch to always have on-hand in the freezer and they come together quickly with a few basic ingredients. 

These are a great way to use leftover roasted vegetables and you can make any vegetable and cheese flavor combinations you'd like! Whether you call them, egg muffins, little frittatas, or mini omelets these little guys are the perfect make-ahead breakfast to save you time on busy mornings. 

These definitely are different than the usual #muffinmonday, but still delicious and super simple to make!

 Egg Muffins 

1 dozen eggs 

1/3 cup milk 

1 tsp salt 

1/4 tsp black pepper 

1/4 cup shredded cheese 

2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs 

3/4 cup chopped roasted/sauteed vegetables 

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C
Liberally spray a standard size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
If you have a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spouted edge use that for easy pouring. Fill each muffin cup with the egg mixture and then add a sprinkling of cheese and vegetables to each one. Have fun with the combinations!  
Bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are slightly golden and the eggs are set. The muffins will be puffed when you remove them from the oven, but they will settle as they cool don't be concerned.
Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. If the pan was well greased they should pop right out if not just run a knife around the muffins to take them out of the pan. 
These will last in the fridge for a week or you can freeze in a single layer in a Ziploc bag for up to 3 months.

Yield: 12 muffins

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Mushroom Barley Soup

People ask me where I learned how to cook and my answer is always - I got it from my momma. I learned so much about cooking and the joy of feeding others from my Ema. One of the most important things I learned from her is that simple is always best and you show your love for others through food. Weeknight dinners and Shabbos meals were always filled with so many delicious dishes and those two lessons from my mother shined through those dishes. 

It's traditional to have chicken soup on Friday night for Shabbat, but some weeks my mother would change it up and would make this really yummy, creamy, hearty mushroom barley soup. This soup exemplifies that cooking can be simple, delicious, and truly heartwarming. 

My mother got this recipe from a friend of hers. We are very close to a family in our neighborhood and would eat there often on Shabbat and Chagim. We were served this soup on a Friday night at their house about 20 years ago and we loved it so much that my mother had to get the recipe from her friend and she's been making it ever since. 

This photo was taken by my mother! We Facetimed while she was photographing it so I could direct her and she did a beautiful job! 

This recipe can easily be doubled and freezes beautifully! 

Mushroom Barley Soup

1 large onion, diced 

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp Flour

1 cup boiling water

½ cup pearl barley

½ cup dry lima beans or any other small white bean 

8 oz / 250 grams white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot, diced

1 rib of celery, diced

1 1/4 Tbsp salt

3/4 tsp black pepper

10 cups water

1 tsp chopped fresh dill 

1Tbsp chopped fresh parsley 

Heat the oil in a large pot (I recommend at least a 6-quart pot) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add the flour to make a roux and cook for about 2 minutes until the flour has become slightly golden brown. Add the boiling water and whisk to break up any lumps cook until thickened. Add the remaining ingredients besides the fresh herbs. Bring to a boil then reduce the flame, cover the pot, and allow the soup to simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot. The soup is done when the barley and beans are tender and the soup has a creamy consistency. Add the fresh herbs and taste for seasoning adjust to your liking.  

Monday, January 4, 2021

Bran Muffins

Ok, I know what you're thinking, this is not the most exciting sounding flavor, but trust me these muffins are anything but boring! 

Bran muffins get a bad rap as dry, tasteless, chewy muffins and I'm here to change your mind about bran muffins. These are sweet, moist, and just downright yummy.

The wheat bran gives these muffins a little nutty flavor and packs these muffins with lots of nutrients. The batter is delicious on its own, but feel free to add in mix-ins of your choice like chocolate chips, berries, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, and if you really must you can even add raisins.

Bran Muffins 

1 1/4 cups wheat bran 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 

2 tsp baking powder 

3/4 tsp baking soda 

3/4 tsp salt 

3 Tbsp oil 

3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk of your choice 

2 eggs 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1/2 cup honey / silan / molasses 

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F 

Line a standard-size muffin pan with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl mix together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium-sized bowl mix together the oil, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. The batter will be thick - if you want to add some fun mix-ins now is the time. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 13-15 minutes. 

These are great on their own and they're even better served warm with a pat of butter and a slathering of jam. 

Yield: 12 standard-size muffins