Archive for November, 2010


The Contest, So Far…

We’ve gotten only 14 entries, so far, for our photo contest on your interpretation of any one of Susie Fishbein’s 900 plus recipes. Some were shot from afar, centered on an otherwise empty table (thus it was hard to see the actual dish). Some were shot directly from above giving the food a very flat, uninteresting look. Some were out of focus, but two pictures actually stood out. Both came from Lakewood…

Cauliflower Popcorn, from Passover by Design

Why do I like this photo? Though the photographer obviously did not spend time food styling the shot, nor hours setting up the lighting, the shot is interesting because of the choice of colors which only enhance the actual dish and direct the eye to the food itself. The shadows are soft and the photo was obviously shot with available light rather than flash. The colors of the cauliflower popcorn lack contrast on their own, but the surroundings add interest, so does the slanted angle which brings considerable drama to the shot. Well done!!

Another interesting shot, taken by my granddaughter Leah after she baked it…


Confetti Cake from Kosher By Design - Kids in the Kitchen

She opted for a more traditional angle and relied on the cake’s own colors for interest, resisting the temptation of adding unnecessary elements in the foreground or background.

By the way, I was in Lakewood for the weekend, she made the cake on Thursday evening and I got to enjoy its moistness and great taste on Shabbos. It may not have looked fully professional but it was truly delicious, a great testament to Susie Fishbein’s cookbooks and Leah’s dedication to producing a delectable cake for her zeydeh. She knows I have a sweet tooth!! Very nice!

Is there no one in the 5 New York boroughs capable of taking a memorable food shot? There is still time, we’ll extend the deadline from November the 18th to the 25th (one additional week). Please send us your best photos of any of Susie Fishbein’s 900 plus recipes to:

Meanwhile, let me repeat a few pointers about food photography:

  • Try to get as close a shot of the finished dish as possible.
  • If your photo will include something other than just the dish you prepared, make sure that the main object of attention in your composition still remains the item you made from one of theKosher by Design recipes.
  • Make sure the lighting (available light, flash, etc.) does not give off some ugly, distracting shadows. If at all possible try to photograph your dish during daylight hours, by a window letting in natural light. If you are using flash bounce it off the ceiling or a wall, as that will balance out the light and diffuse harsher shadows.
  • Prepare your settings in advance. Food looks its best during the first few minutes of preparation and its looks deteriorate as the clock ticks. Colors may change, the way you stacked it up may collapse and so on.
  • Remember, when you photograph food you want to make it inviting, you want the viewer to imagine and taste it with the mind’s eye. As you put the food on the dish, pay attention to the colors, the shapes and the positioning of each piece.

Look at the photos in some of your cookbooks, or look at line at some great food photography by the pros: Lou MannaChristine PetersDiana DeLucia, or Michael Ray. You’ll find these photographers have different styles, yet all presents their subjects in mouth watering ways.

Look at how the pros do it, and get ideas. We know you will neither spend hours adjusting the light nor doing heavy food styling. We do not expect professional photos, but we do expect a little bit of imagination and interesting shots. Download your free recipe index, cook up a storm and send us your best photos.



Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie… Chicken Pot Pie… one of my all time favorite foods. It may not look fancy, needs no exotic ingredients, but when it comes to winter comfort food few other compare!


In the hope that others appreciate it as well, I offer this recipe adapted (to make it kosher) from Aida Mollenkamp‘s recipes as they appear on the pages of

For the pie’s filling we must first make Creamed Chicken, this can be made from any chicken leftovers:

Creamed Chicken Recipe

Total: 20 mins
Active: 20 mins
Makes: 4 to 6 servings


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted margarine (1/2 stick)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup unflavored soy milk
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


  1. Melt margarine over medium-low heat in a large saucepan or frying pan until foaming. Sprinkle in flour while constantly whisking, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Slowly add broth, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth. Add soy milk and again whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add chicken and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chicken Pot Pie

Total: 1 hr 10 mins
35 mins
12 servings


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine (1/4 stick), plus more for coating the dish
  • 2 cups pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 cuppotato, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cupcelery (leaves too), coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cupcarrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Creamed Chicken (recipe above)
  • 1 large egg
  • 14 ounces store-bought puff pastry dough, defrosted if frozen


  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with margarine and set aside.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons margarine over medium heat in a large frying pan until foaming. Add onions and sage and cook until sage aroma is released, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add potato, celery, and carrots and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until carrots and onions are just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes.
  4. Remove mixture from heat, stir in peas, parsley, and creamed chicken, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Turn filling into the prepared baking dish. Whisk egg together with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.
  6. With kitchen shears, cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish.
  7. Brush dough with reserved egg wash and cut 10 evenly distributed slits in the top to vent. Cook until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

I made this dish last night. to say it was just delicious would be a serious understatement. Coming home from the cold, this one truly hit the spot! Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!



Little Lemon Meringue Pie

I’m constantly looking for delicious desserts, I confess, I have a sweet tooth… While scouring the web, for something decadent but fairly easy to prepare, I came across the following on The Food Network:

My mother (a"h) used to make something very similar... ahh, the memories!


Little Lemon Meringue Pies



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sour cream or yogurt

Lemon Filling:

  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed


  • 1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 (6-cup) standard non-stick muffin tin


Beat the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and continue to beat until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the egg yolk. Add half of the flour, beating until just crumbly. Scrape down the bowl again; add the remaining flour and then the sour cream or yogurt, beating just until the dough is evenly moistened. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to bring it together.

Roll the dough between 2 generously floured sheets of waxed or parchment paper into a circle about 1/4-inch thick with a rolling pin. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Cut out 6 (4 1/2-inch) rounds using an inverted bowl or round cookie cutter. Place rounds in the muffin tins and, using a small shot glass or your fingers, press into the corners and about halfway up the sides for a snug fit (see photo). Freeze dough in the muffin tin for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Spray the outside of 6 standard muffin liners with cooking spray and place in the crusts. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crusts until just brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for about 1 minute; then carefully remove the muffin liners and baking beans. Return pan to the oven and continue to bake until crusts are cooked through and evenly browned (see photo), about 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool slightly. Then carefully remove crusts from the muffin tin and cool completely on a rack.

Lemon Filling:

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and yolks in a nonreactive saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is smooth and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the lemon and lime juice and zest and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is as thick as sour cream and is just about to simmer, 3 to 4 minutes. (Take care to stir into the sides of the pot so that all curd thickens evenly.)

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the butter a little at a time, until smooth. Stir occasionally until cooled. (Setting the bowl in a larger bowl of ice will speed this up.). Fill each tartlet with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cool lemon filling.


Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a standing mixer’s bowl above the water. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch (135 degrees F) and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and continue to beat to make a stiff, cool meringue, about 10 minutes. Dollop or pipe on top of the filling.

Just before serving, preheat the broiler to high. Set the pies on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler until the meringue is evenly toasted, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, brown meringue with a blowtorch.) Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

For Busy Bakers:

They can be refrigerated for up to 2 days These also freeze wonderfully! They can be assembled and frozen up to 1 week in advance. Defrost for 20 minutes before broiling the tops and serving.

To make ahead in stages:

– The crusts can be made, baked and frozen up to 2 weeks.

– The curd can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

– The meringue can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!



You’ve Come a Long way, Baby! Kosher in America Today

[When I first came to the American shores in 1962 (from Uruguay, South America), there were only a couple of kosher food manufacturers available in Richmond, VA – where my parents settled at the time. As for wine, the only real kosher options were extra sweet and sweeter yet… 48 years later, the choice of kosher certified foods in supermarkets has grown exponentially and there is little that is not available. Kosher wines are manufactured around the globe and win international awards! What caused this phenomenal revolution, how did kosher go mainstream? To understand how it all happened I sat down, yesterday, with Menachem Lubinsky, President and CEO of Lubicom. A summary of our conversation follows.]

Menachem Lubinsky

The major factors contributing to the growth of the kosher industry are:

  • Natural growth
  • Dramatic improvements in packaging
  • Accessibility in supermarkets
  • Opportunities beyond traditional markets
  • Technology

The kosher consumer numbers have almost doubled in the last 20 years, with those under age 45 comprising over half of the total. More affluent neighborhoods convinced manufacturers that no segment of the market should be closed to them.

New advances in food production vastly improved the quality of kosher products. Packaging became more attractive and eye catching (as opposed to the old cellophane wrappers), an important ingredient in marketing and getting shelf space.

By expanding the kosher sections a new demographic of customers, with larger families, comes in and spends far more than the earlier smaller families. Certainly supermarkets pushed out smaller grocery stores – yet those who were willing to adapt to the new times and became more specialized in their offerings thrived. As a result, a lot of independents are opening today with choices not available in the larger stores, thereby expanding variety.

Muslims make up a large percentage of kosher consumers  because of their concerns over pork. In the bigger cities, where such are available, they are exhorted to use strictly halal stores and yet, they still come to kosher establishments. In smaller cities you can find them in the kosher isles of supermarkets. [Even at last week’s Kosherfest, there were Muslims. CS.]

Kosher products are slowly becoming mainstream, Middle Eastern treats like hummus are now commonplace throughout America. Bagels are not only available throughout most of the Western world and parts of Asia, but the word itself is now part of normal everyday parlance, whether here, most of Europe or even Japan. Eating kosher is no longer just a “Jewish thing,” it’s trendy!

And then, of course, there is the social media. A technology that is revolutionizing the flow of information at incredible speeds. Mr. Lubinsky witnessed its tremendous power at Pomegranate recently as he saw a lady tweeting the specials… Within a half hour, ten of her friends had joined her in shopping!

Yes, kosher has come an incredibly long way whether in number of items, the quality of restaurants and wines available. In 2008 kosher represented a $200 billion market as opposed to $150 billion in 2003. Many non Jews seek out kosher because they believe it to be safer, better, healthier.

[Prior and during his time at Lubicom, Mr. Lubinsky worked and continues to work extensively with both profit and non-profits. He has an M.B.A. in Marketing and Advertising from the Bernard Baruch College at City University of New York. He has received many prestigious awards and been honored by major organizations for his work and advocacy. As a major player in the field, he is the universally acknowledged expert on the matter of kosher marketing, its history and its growth.]



Creative Eye, Creative Mind

Tammy Polatsek

What makes one person walk into a ballroom or a gymnasium and be overwhelmed by it’s scale and structure wondering how they can possibly make the space interesting, and the other be charged with neurons, colors, structural nuances dancing in their heads filling the room with endless creative possibilities? What makes one person with a healthy budget and a good eye for detail, color and proportion be inspired by others and recreate good decor, floral and table arrangements, attractive foods; while the other with half, equal or double the budget is engaged in creating and using space, objects, colors and textures in forms that burst forth in endless streams of creative harmonic innovation and beauty?

Meet Tammy Polatsek of Aristocratic Design Co. From the first to the last detail, she’s a steady, self directed, well orchestrated stream of flowing unique mental images metamorphosed into magnificent creations – working form, color, medium and function of objects as her partners in creation. Be it a cake, a dish, a flower, a space, a wedding, an event, Tammy has the unique gift of transforming the plain into the magnificent and magnificent as you’ve never seen it before.

We visited her yesterday at the Aristocratic Design Co. booth. She was setting up for a Bonei Olam auction, where she was donating $3,000 in event planning services. Tammy showed us her custom-made line (Carmona) of off white porcelain dishes. Note the aesthetic flow of form and function

The shapes, the lighting, the color reflections... perfect positioning!

that she adheres to, while creating shapes that are totally original. (Aristocratic Design Co. will do custom orders on these plates, BTW).

Graceful interplay

Ahhh, the table setting… done on a table made from a wonderful piece of wood she found and shaped into a design that is signature Polatsek. The family of colors just flow from one to the other; it’s a feast for the eyes in shades of pinks, brown and burgundies that just blend beautifully with shapes that move together in harmonious union. Even the flowers, (which she imports fresh directly from Colombia & Ecuador) seem to bend to her will, yet she seems to submit to their will as well.

The subtle yet deep dance of form and tone on a monochromatic theme, in this closeup of one of the flower arrangements

Her creative juices are forever unfolding, evolving, moving, never stepping on the same place in the river of her artistic consciousness.

...another floral arrangement

Tammy showed us photos of some of the events she created. From moving floral arrangements on runway models, to Indian weddings, to show stopping events for the Oscars in Hollywood, to World Wrestling Entertainment, to the Emmy Awards, to Las Vegas events, to Fox News she outdoes herself and any of the competition with eclat and originality!

What began in her early married life as a challenge to herself to prove to that she could, when told by others that she could not, sparked the beginning of a creative process whose ongoing journey creates an Eden of gorgeous ‘out of the box’ possibilities wherever she directs her energies.

Having already published her Aristocratic Fruits – a step-by-step book on fruit carving – and other projects, she is now working on a new book, From Chef to Chef with Love – a composite of over 400 chefs from around the globe telling their stories and sharing their experiencing cooking with the various cultural food restrictions of their respective regions.

Tammy and Aristocratic Design Co. are available for booking. Floral Wedding design packages start at around $3,500. Don’t be intimidated by her talent, she’s got a warm, accessible nature. And be assured that she will deliver a stunning original event that will be talked about and copied for years to come.



Thank You!!

Photo by: Aquafornia

How time flies! When we started (on November 2nd, 2009) we were not sure if we’d still be blogging a year later. Would we get any regular readers? Would anybody really be interested in our thoughts? Could we say something, could we sound different, from far more established bloggers and existing websites? A 171 posts and a later later, we realize our hopes are slowly materializing. Most of the exhibitors we spoke to, at last week’s Kosherfest, had heard of us; an impressive number of them had actually seen and read these pages here and abroad.

We constantly meet people who follow our musings regularly. As beginning bloggers, who wondered for how long we would be able to post once or occasionally twice a week, we suddenly find a lot of material that interests our readership. We’ve been told our writing styles are refreshing, our photography mouth watering. Even non-Jewish publications and blogs have noticed us. But I must confide in you, IF we are any good at what we do it is only because we love our subject matter… we are foodies!

During this past year, we’ve sampled some of the top kosher eateries, (from Chinese to Middle Eastern cuisine, from Japanese to French, to Italian, to American, to Fusion, we’ve tasted them) met some amazing chefs – people full of creative energy and an uncanny understanding of the nuances of flavor. We’ve learned and continue learning a lot, about food, about wine; above all, as we forge new relationships with chefs, with restaurateurs, with manufacturers of kosher products, with cookbook authors, with winemakers around the world, etc., we are often told personal stories that prove that even those who excel at their craft are just humans like the rest of us. What drives them to succeed? What fuels their drive? Simple, it is their passion for food, their passion to prove that kosher need not be a second class cuisine. Yes, cooking kosher, manufacturing kosher products, may be a bit more challenging… but, it is precisely those challenges that spur them on, that excites their creative juices. Kosher has come a long way!!!

But what SYR and I are most grateful for, gentle reader – what helped us the most – were your suggestions, your words of encouragement.

What lies ahead is exciting, we plan many a contest for this upcoming year and are at this very moment negotiating the prizes. We plan on bringing you guest posts by well known Chefs, as well as outstanding recipes from professionals and from housewives who almost daily improve, create, or adapt delicious new dishes. We will also bring you reviews of amazing new products. And, of course, we will continue to review kosher restaurants and often we will write about our revisits to favorite eateries.

Right now and until November the 18th, we are running a contest based on recipes from any of Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design series. Send us your best photo of any of Susie’s 900 plus recipes and you may win her latest cookbook: Kosher by Design Teens and 20 Somethings, meanwhile you can download the complete recipe index at: Email us your best to:

Our first year was productive and we are proud of how we grew, but there is so much more to accomplish. Thank you, gentle reader, we could never have gotten here without you.



Ella Valley Vineyards

This past Wednesday, October 28th, I attended a wine tasting by the Israel Wine Lovers Group in Manhattan – at the end of two days at Kosherfest. The wines featured, this particular evening, were from Israel’s Ella Valley Vineyards, distributed here by Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd.

The wines were presented by Joseph Berkowitz (from Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd.). We tasted 7 different potables.

Ella Valley's tasting selections for the evening

We started with a Sauvignon Blanc 2008, pale straw colored, its aroma spoke of lime, pears with a hint of minerals. It tasted very citrusy, definitely showed promise.

Ella Valley Winery‘s Chardonnay 2007 followed. This wine is aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. On the nose one detects pineapple and apricot, with a small amount of minerals. We tasted the first bottle at room temperature and it fell a bit short of perfection. But, that was just the first bottle… Please read on until the end, gentle reader.

Joseph Berkowitz expounding on the qualities of each bottle

Next we had their Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. With 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, this wine was aged in French oak barrels for 16 months. Its aroma shows some unique minerals and plums, with a hint of the French oak’s vanilla. It tasted far superior to the two previous selections, with a beautiful ruby red color and refined complexity that gave it depth and character.

We segued the above with the winery’s Merlot 2005. Aged for 16 months, it is bended from 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose one finds it ripe with red fruits and some seasoning herbs. On the palate the fruitiness becomes mixed with bitter chocolate and a hint of coffee. Very good!

Listening attentively to the individual responses to the wines

The Syrah 2006 was next in line. Blended from 90% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot, it was my favorite! Powerful, aromatic, aged for 16 months, Daniel Rogov gave it a 92 rating “outstanding in every way.”

We then moved to the Cabernet Franc 2007, with 90% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. its aroma bespeaks of pepper, blackcurrant, with a hint of tobacco and violets. Though it is usually quite lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, this particular selection had a dark red color. It opened to a distinctive peppery start but yielded to cherry, licorice and citrus peel on the long finish.

We went on tho the Ella Valley VineyardsChoice Merlot 2003. Aged for 17 months, it consists of 100% Merlot grapes. Powerful and gripping, royal purple in color, its aroma has strong notes of black cherry, berries and spices. In the glass it shows a full body and firm structure. Its elegance is obvious! It ends with an appealing spicy oak on the long finish.

After such a powerful wine, Mr. Berkowitz suggested we end the evening with a well chilled bottle of Chardonnay 2007. Unlike the first bottle we tasted (at room temperature),  this one was full of flavor and deliciously refreshing. It compared more than favorably with other Israeli and Chilean Chardonnays I tasted at Kosherfest earlier in the day. This time it showed the true reason Daniel Rogov awarded it a rating of 90.


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