Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Geller’

Matzo Mania

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Passover begins tonight. This eight-day holiday means many things to many people: the survival of the Jewish people in the book of Exodus, the overall history of Judaism, and even the last supper of Jesus.
For me, it’s a time to remember my Jewish relatives–particularly my grandparents, whom we always joined for Passover when I was a child.
As a food writer, I appreciate the way the whole holiday is structured around food. Each thing eaten at the Seder has its own meaning. In addition, the practice of eating no bread other than unleavened matzo during Passover commemorates the departure of the Jews from Egypt. Their bread didn’t have time to rise.
It is also a sort of penance. Eating matzo, pretty much the plainest of breads imaginable, reminds Jews of the trials of their forebears.
My grandmother served matzo without much adornment during Passover, occasionally sprucing it up with a little whipped cream cheese for breakfast or lunch.
Despite this tradition, I’m always tickled by the idea of getting a little fancier with matzo.
This year I have made two simple “matzo plus” dishes I’d like to share with you.
The first is Matzo Pizza. I got this idea from the website’s resident chef, Jamie Geller, created a tasty standard pizza with her matzo—vegetables, cheese, tomato sauce.
I’m not such a fan of tomato-based pizza that I can’t wait eight days to have it. I do love asparagus, however. I’m a sucker for the asparagus pizza served in spring at the Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts.
That pizza inspired this one. Matzo will never replace yeast crusts in my kitchen year round, but during Passover (or when one is in a hurry) it makes an acceptable, crispy platform for cheese and vegetables.
My second recipe today is a treat I’ve enjoyed for years when made by other people, Matzo Crunch. (Beware: many call it Matzo Crack because of its highly addictive properties!)
Marcy Goldman of invented this confection, which I have adapted a little. I have seen it covered with nuts (pressed into the chocolate when you sprinkle the optional salt). My friend Lark Fleury even makes it during other times of year with saltine crackers.
Marcy maintains that you can make the crunch with margarine if you keep kosher and want to eat it with meat. I think the butter adds so much flavor that I would advise you NOT to try the margarine. Just don’t eat the crunch with a meat meal!
Whenever and however you make it, I advise you to make sure that you have lots of people to whom you can give the crunch. It really is addictive—and very, very rich. I love to make it—and I love to get it out of the house FAST.
Happy Passover……

Springtime Matzo Pizza

10 thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
3 basil leaves, torn into pieces
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, cut into small rings
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1-1/2 matzos (the whole matzo should be halved for easier serving so that you have three halves)
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly oil the foil.
Sauté the asparagus in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest; then toss in the ripe olives and feta.
Place the three halves of matzo on the prepared cookie sheet, making sure that they fit together as well as possible. Sprinkle most of the mozzarella cheese on top of the matzo.
Spread the asparagus mixture over the cheese, and top with a little more mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts nicely.

Serves 1 for dinner or 2 to 3 for lunch.


6 pieces matzo, broken into several strips each
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, white, or some of each—even milk if you like, and I like)
coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional but yummy)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil, and place parchment paper or silicone mats over the foil. Place the pieces of matzo on top.
In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring them to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Spoon the sugar mixture over the matzo, spreading it with a spatula to cover the matzo as well as you can. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the matzo from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. After 5 minutes, spread the chocolate with a knife. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top if you wish for additional crunch and flavor.

Allow the crunch to cool; then break it into more pieces. Makes about 40 small pieces. Don’t forget to give most of them away!




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Hamentaschen Drawing

Monday, February 8th, 2010
(Courtesy of

(Courtesy of

Purim is almost upon us, and the nice folks at have offered to send a tin of gourmet Hamentaschen to one of my blog readers or Twitter followers.
I highly recommend the holiday of Purim to those of you who are unfamiliar with it. It may well be the most joyous holiday in the Jewish calendar.
It celebrates one of the relatively few heroines in the Bible—Queen Esther of Persia. Here’s a brief rundown of her story:
A young Jewish girl in the fourth century B.C.E., Esther won a beauty pageant held by King Ahasuerus (a.k.a. Xerxes), who was looking for a new wife. He had executed the previous one in a fit of pique. He replaced her with Esther.
Esther’s cousin and former guardian, Mordecai, warned her not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Living in exile in Persia, the Jews were often subjected to anti-Semitism.
The king’s evil counselor, Haman, took offense when Mordecai refused to bow down to him and arranged to have all the Jews in the country killed. Esther went to the king and revealed her identity. This act took great courage, given the fate of her predecessor. Esther pulled it off, however.
In the end, the horrible Haman was hanged at the gallows he had erected for Mordecai. Esther and the Jewish people were given permission to defend themselves against their enemies. Jews in Persia held a HUGE party to celebrate their brave, beautiful queen and their enhanced status.
To commemorate Esther’s resourcefulness Jewish people party on Purim. It’s a time for dressing up in costumes and playing pranks. It’s also a time for giving to the needy and for exchanging gifts of food. And it’s a time for getting drunk—or at least for seeing the world from a new, youthful perspective. 
"Esther" by John Everett Millais (Courtesy of the Tate Online)

"Esther" by John Everett Millais (Courtesy of the Tate Online)

Hamentaschen are a sweet Purim treat. I’ve loved them all my life. They rank somewhere between a cookie and a small cake in bakeries. They are triangular (some say to mimic the shape of nasty Haman’s tricorn hat). And they’re enhanced with poppy seed or fruit filling.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, Hamentaschen are occasionally filled with and/or covered with chocolate in our chocoholic culture!
I’ll be posting a traditional Hamentaschen recipe soon. Meanwhile, I encourage you to enter the drawing from Here’s what you have to do:
Leave a comment on this blog or post a tweet from now through this coming Friday, February 12. I’ll cut off entries at midnight EST.
The comment or tweet should contain two pieces of information.
First, it should tell me what YOUR favorite food holiday—religious or non-religious—is.
Second, it should provide a link to the web site. Find something on the site that intrigues you—a recipe, a product (they have tasty foods available year round, not just for Purim!), a piece of information about a Jewish holiday.
If you choose to tweet rather than post a comment here, please send a tweet to me (remember, my Twitter name is LaTinque) so I won’t miss your contribution!
Next Monday, February 15, I will randomly select a winner from the comments and tweets. will send that lucky person the tin of Hamentaschen. It should arrive in plenty of time to help you usher in Purim on February 28.
As they said of Levy’s rye bread, you don’t have to be Jewish to love Hamentaschen!
While you’re thinking about your comment and/or tweet, you might like to try this recipe from’s Chef Jamie Geller.
Jamie has provided several recipes that enable readers to consume alcohol during Purim without getting drunk. She calls them her “saucy” selections. This soup will enable you to celebrate this holiday without going overboard.
I look forward to reading your comments……
Jamie's Soup (Courtesy of

Jamie's Soup (Courtesy of

Kosher Italian Bean Soup
(Courtesy of and Jamie Geller)
1 medium onion, quartered
6 cups water
3 cups Imagine Organic No-Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
10 baby carrots
10 baby zucchini
1 frozen crushed garlic cube
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Place all ingredients in a 6-quart stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce the soup to a simmer and cook it uncovered for 18 to 20 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 8. 
Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

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Latkes and Beyond!

Monday, December 14th, 2009
Samosa Latkes

A Samosa Latke

Once a year or so (usually at Hanukkah, of course!) my family loves latkes. We don’t fry a lot of food, but when a holiday is all about oil one has to indulge in a little frying.
We usually make the traditional latkes I chronicled in a post last year at this time. This year I thought we’d try something a little different. We actually made TWO new kinds of latkes.
One version, which I’ll detail in a future post (making and eating latkes can really wear a girl out), was made with sweet potatoes. We called these Yam-e-kes.
I got the idea for the second version from Chef Jamie Geller of I had been toying with the idea of making samosas, my favorite potato-based Indian turnovers, for some time. Jamie came up with the idea of putting samosa spices into a latke.
Since “Sam-e-kes” sounds a little awkward I’m just using Jamie’s terminology and calling these Samosa Latkes. They represent a wonderful pairing of two cuisines I adore.
If you’d like to see Jamie’s version of these latkes, please visit’s recipes for Hanukkah (she offers other great ideas as well!). You’ll note that she has produced a relatively low-fat latke. Since we only make them once a year we kept the fat.
I should warn you that my nephew Michael doesn’t believe that EITHER of our experiments actually qualifies as a latke. Whatever they are, they’re pretty tasty.
One note: these are not particularly spicy Sam-e-kes, only flavorful ones. If you’d like more spice, feel free to add more to taste.
Happy Hanukkah!
Samosa Latkes
2 large baking potatoes
1 large onion, more or less finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
6 tablespoons flour or matzo meal (plus a little more if you need it)
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
2 cups peas, barely cooked
extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
Wash the potatoes well and peel them if you want to (the skins are nutritious so you don’t have to). Grate them. This takes a really long time with a box grater so I prefer to use the grater attachment of a food processor.
(Do not use the main blade of a food processor as it will make the potato pieces small and wet.)
Wrap the potato shreds in a clean dishtowel. Carry it to the sink, and wring out as much liquid as you can. Leave the wrapped shreds in the sink to drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (and maybe have a cocktail or two).
In a medium bowl, combine the potato pieces, onion, eggs, flour, ginger, salt, and spices. Stir in the peas. In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil until the oil begins to shimmer.
Scoop some of the potato mixture out of the bowl with a soup spoon, and flatten it with your hand. Pop the flattened potato into the hot oil. It should hiss and bubble a bit; if not, wait before you put more pancakes into the oil.
It’s just fine if your latkes are a little ragged around the edges. If they don’t hold together and are hard to turn, however, you may want to add a little more flour to your batter.
Fry the potato cakes a few at a time, turning each when the first side becomes golden. Drain the cooked latkes on paper towels; then pop them into a 250-degree oven to stay warm until their cousins are finished cooking.
When you run out of batter (or feel you have enough for your family!), sprinkle the chopped cilantro over your latkes, light the menorah, and eat. Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.
Michael loves to light the Hanukkah candles.

Michael loves to light the Hanukkah candles.


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P.S. from much later…. Here I am making these on TV!

Rosh Hashanah Honey Chicken

Friday, September 18th, 2009


The Jewish New Year arrives at sunset tonight. I have warm memories of going to Temple with my grandmother on Rosh Hashanah every September when I was little.
With a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, I was actually brought up Unitarian. By and large Unitarianism worked for me. It encouraged both humanism and skepticism.
Nevertheless, as a religion (rather than a school of thought) it had its frustrating moments. I remember asking once in Sunday school what I should believe, theologically speaking. I was presented with statistics about what percentage of Unitarians believed in God, Jesus, and so forth.
It was interesting information but not very helpful to a nine year old.
The Jewish New Year always satisfied the young Tinky. Going to Temple gave me all the religious ritual and certainty the Unitarians lacked. 
Even better, it was a social event as well as a religious one. My grandmother sat upstairs in the balcony with an entire community of women. They kept one ear focused on the service and the other on each others’ news.
Rosh Hashanah also appealed and appeals to me because it falls at a time of year that feels a lot newer than that of the Christian New Year.
We start school years in September. We start diets in September. (I usually do, anyway). Fall is a time of balance, of transition, of summing up and thinking ahead–in short, a perfect time to celebrate and calibrate the New Year.
Honey is a traditional addition to meals at Rosh Hashanah. It helps cooks wish everyone at the table a sweet year.
Last year at this time I made a tasty honey cake. This year I wanted to try something savory. A girl can have too much cake in her life.
I got a little help from the folks at, a web site that offers more than 15,000 different kosher products for home delivery. publicized itself and celebrated the New Year earlier this week by distributing apples, honey, and recipes at various New York City locations by means of a giant motorized shopping cart. I wasn’t able to go to New York so its publicist kindly sent me a few recipes. They were devised by Jamie Geller,’s “chief foodie officer.”
I made this chicken dish last night. It couldn’t have been easier to prepare–and the soy sauce kept the honey from over-sweetening the chicken.
If I made it at another time of year, I’d probably raise the proportion of soy sauce to honey to make the sweetness even more subtle. I’d also try substituting maple syrup for the honey since I love maple syrup.
God did NOT promise the Israelites a land of milk and maple, however, so for Rosh Hashanah I’ll stick with the honey.
I wish you all a sweet New Year! Here are links to a couple of my other recipes to sweeten it, by the way: a honey chicken with soy (oh, yum!) and a VERY simple harvest honey and corn dish.
Jamie Geller’s Honey Chicken
1 chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds), cut into eight pieces
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced (Jamie actually suggested 1 tablespoon garlic powder, but I didn’t have any in the house so I used fresh instead)
1 teaspoon black pepper (I just turned the pepper grinder several times)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Rinse the chicken pieces, pat them dry, and place them in the baking dish.
In a small bowl combine the honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the chicken.
Bake the chicken in the preheated oven until it is golden brown (about an hour–maybe a little less for some of the smaller pieces), basting from time to time. Serves 4 generously.
Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

Jamie Geller (Courtesy of

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