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“How do you make the perfect Italian coffee at home,” you wonder? Well, I’ll tell you!  As you may already know, I am passionate about coffee. When I go to sleep at night, I am already excited to wake up and have my morning coffee. Anyone else?  There are several ways and types of coffee that I enjoy, but there is a wonderful way to make coffee that is a deep part of Italian culture, and that is the Moka.  Not to be confused with mocha, the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, but moka, with a “K.”

Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

To make this coffee and bring some of this Italian coffee culture into your home, you must begin with a moka pot.  Interestingly, the word “Moka” actually comes from a port city in Yemen, where coffee was exported.

Delicious Coffee to Start the Day

There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning.  Just the mere thought of the smell, the taste, can make you jump out of bed.  A pot of good coffee is a way to bring everyone together.  Sitting over hot coffee with a friend is one of my favorite things to do.  And, there are so many ways and types of coffee, but today I’m going to tell you all about preparing and drinking a moka.  

Coffee the Italian Way

Torrefazione Cannaregio – My favorite coffee shop!

Fortunately, not far from where I live, there is one of my most favorite places in all of Venice. It is a coffee house called Torrefazione Cannaregio.  Torrefazione refers to a coffee bean roaster. It was started in 1930, and was located on the main street, Strada Nuova.  It was a unique place. The door opened and you were hit with the most incredible aroma of coffee.  The floor was lined with enormous sacks of coffee beans and you could even get a glimpse of an enormous round coffee roaster in the back.  It was always packed, but the line moved fast. Some would take their coffee “da portare via” (to go) and others would drink at the counter, as there was only bar service.

It’s since changed ownership and now it is located right near the Jewish Ghetto, on the Fondamenta Ormesini.  Combining the look of a quaint coffee house with the beautiful glass containers of coffee lining the walls, you can sit inside and look out at the Venetian canal and watch gondolas go by. Although you may hear many languages from around the world at one of their canal-side tables, if you stand and drink right at the bar, you can often hear Venetian, the unique Italian dialect of the lagoon city. 

Know Your Coffee

The staff is well-versed in every type of coffee they sell and how exactly to make it.  Each coffee bean produces a different taste, and the staff is kind and patient to explain the details.  Some coffee beans are more fruity, while others are more earthy. At Torrefazione Cannaregio, they will even blend coffee for you with your choice of ingredients such as anise, black pepper, cinnamon and more. In Italy, people genuinely savor and enjoy the flavor of the coffee.  A typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a “cornetto,” a croissant, either plain, dusted with powered sugar or chocolate-filled. 

The Moka Coffee Grind

Perfect Moka Italian Coffee Grind

If you will be buying coffee beans to be ground on the premises, you will be asked whether you would like them ground for espresso or moka.  The grind for a moka machine is a bit more course than that of an espresso machine. Once you have your perfect grind and blend, you are (almost) all set.  

An Italian Coffee Classic

With these easy steps, I will share with you how you can make the perfect moka Italian coffee at home, just like the Italians do. I That’s a coffee with a smooth, rich taste, and not bitter. But first, you must have a moka machine.  My preference is a Bialetti, which is the most well-known brand.  With a Bialetti, you know what are getting.  It is a high-quality coffee maker, named after it’s inventor, Alfonso Bialetti.  The story goes that in the early part of the 20th century, Mr. Bialetti had a workshop where he produced aluminum products.  In the 30’s, he designed what would become the iconic moka pot, which has enhanced the way people drink coffee around the world.

Moka machines comes in a range of sizes.  At home, I have a six cup moka, which is a perfect size for just us or for when we are having some company. If that’s too big for you, you can get a small moka that makes two cups.  I’ve seen a much larger 18 cup moka, as well. And now, on to the actual brewing process.

                                                              

How to Make a Moka Coffee

Making a moka is actually very easy.  Familiarize yourself with the parts of the stove-top machine.  The base get filled with water.  The little filter cup gets the coffee.  On the underside of the top of the moka machine, you will see two parts: a little filter and a rubber ring holding it in place.  It’s all quite basic.  But there are some tricks of the trade that will make your moka coffee taste just perfect.

Step 1

Put some water up to boil, because starting with boiling water is one of the keys to making a delicious moka.  By beginning with water that is already hot, the coffee in the moka machine won’t be exposed to the direct heat of the flame any longer than necessary. This will eliminate that bitter taste that’s commonly associated with coffee that is prepared incorrectly in a moka.  

Step 2

Next, take a look inside the bottom container.  You will see a little valve.  That’s where you fill your boiled water to. Keep in mind that once you fill the base of the machine with the boiling water, it will be hot.  So, work with a dish towel when you need to pick it up. You can also preheat the coffee cups you’ll be using with some of the remaining boiled water.

Step 3

Now it’s time to fill the filter cup with coffee.  Fill it to the top of the cup, without pressing the coffee down. You can give it a gentle swipe to even it out, but it shouldn’t be packed.  Insert the cup into the water-filled base.

Step 4

Next, take your dish towel to hold the base still while you place the top of the moka machine on and carefully twist it closed.  And now, you are just a few minutes from having some of the most delicious coffee you will ever taste.

Step 5

Place the moka machine on the stove and turn the flame on to medium-low heat.  Regardless of the size of your moka pot, be sure that the stove flame does not extend outward and up the sides of the moka pot.  Soon, the coffee magic will begin. You’ll start to hear the coffee boil upward through the internal mechanism into the top container.  It’s doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it. 

Your kitchen will smell so delicious.  All the coffee lovers in the house will come running.  Carefully pour, serve, sip and enjoy.  I always say that coffee is like a vacation in a cup.  And a moka is like when you get an upgrade. To make it even better, you can pair it with these delicious Bisse Italian Biscotti.

A Virtual Shopping Experience in Venice

When you do come and visit Venice, you can buy a bag of beans to take home for yourself or to give as a gift.  What an amazing souvenir for a coffee lover.  But, why wait! This is one of the places I love to take people on my virtual personal shopping tours. Would you like me to pick some up for you? Let me know! You can set up a virtual personal shopping experience in Venice with me, from the comfort of you own home.  For more info, email me at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com

What’s your favorite flavor or type of coffee? Let me know in the comments. I’m so excited to hear from you!

There’s nothing like taking a few minutes each day to do something nice for yourself.  It can be very easy to treat yourself in a special way.  Here’s a tip that is not only is nice, but has many benefits as well. Infuse yourself with care.  Learn how to make a tisane infusion with delicious natural ingredients like mint, ginger and cinnamon.

What is the Difference Between a Tea and a Tisane

The difference between a tea and a tisane is quite simple.  Tea comes from specific plants.  A tisane is an infusion of a variety of herbs, leaves, spices and flowers. 

Tisane varieties and combinations are endless, and can suit your mood or taste.  After dinner, I love to make a digestivo, which as you can guess by the Italian name, can help to aid in digestion.  As an after dinner drink, one of the most popular choices at GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant is my infusion of mint, ginger and cinnamon stick.

Yet, this tisane is not only a great way to end your meal.  This particular blend is also a delicious way to start your day.  It’s distinct combination of flavors makes your morning feel like a holiday. 

Make It a Special Moment

For the mornings, I have a special mug that I bought when I was traveling with my daughter.  In the evenings, I love to use the Richard Ginori tea cups I was gifted by a friend.  I also love  tea sets with a floral motif.  Using a specific cup for your “tisane-time” can genuinely elevate the moment.  It’s a reminder that you are taking a time to do something special for yourself.  And, making use of a gift, whether from someone else or from yourself, can conjure up good memories.

Benefits

Aside from taking some time for yourself, a tisane has many physical benfits as well. It can be a great way to avoid caffeine, if that is important to you. Generally speaking, a tisane can be a stress reducer, helping you calm down and unwind after a hard day.  It’s relaxing qualities can also help induce sleep. You work so hard.  You deserve it!

Tisane Your Way!

Whatever your taste palate, there is something for you.  When it comes to nature, there is no limit.  Aside from my go-to tisane mentioned here, other popular choices to create your own infusion are: lemon, chamomile, dill, lavender, rosemary, thyme, orange peels, cardamom and even edible flowers such as pansies.

Whatever the time of year, there are always great ingredients to be found to make a delicious tisane, and it’s always in season to take care of yourself.  So, don’t hesitate.  In fact, make it a priority to do (at least) one more thing beneficial to your physical health.  After all, our physical bodies protect our souls.  So nourish yourself physically, so you will have the calm and strength to nourish yourself spiritually.

Tisane of Mint, Ginger and Cinnamon

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions 

  • Boil water
  • Add mint, ginger and cinnamon stick to suit your taste to a tea pot
  • Cover with the boiling water
  • Steep for a few minutes
  • Drink as is or add your favorite sweetener, like honey.

Want something to dip in your tisane infusion? Try these delicious Italian Bisse Biscotti!

Italian Bisse Cookies biscotti from the Jewish Ghetto of Venice
Italian Bisse Cookies biscotti from the Jewish Ghetto of Venice

What other herbal combinations would you like to try? Let me know in the comments down below the related articles. I love hearing from you!

What is aquafaba and what can I make with it? Delicious Vegan Meringues – Without Egg!

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

If you want to know how to make aquafaba, just read on. Aquafaba is the liquid in cans of legumes, like chick peas.  It can be used as an egg white replacement in various recipes and one of my favorite uses is to make meringues.  Yes, you read that right! 

This isn’t a recipe for vegans only. Whether you eat eggs or not, you will enjoy this recipe. It is so easy. And, meringues are so elegant. Everyone will think you spent many hours in the kitchen crafting these little lovelies. I gave some to a friend as a little appreciation gift. When I told her how easy they were to make, she couldn’t believe it! It’s practically as easy as whip, bake, eat.

Whenever I make humus, I use the aquafaba to make these delicious and beautiful treats. The best part about it is that you likely have the rest of the ingredients in your kitchen. To make these vegan meringues without egg, all it takes is some sugar and some vanilla extract. You could use cream of tartar, but that is optional. The cream of tartar helps the merigunes hold their shape a bit. We don’t have kosher cream of tartar here, so I never use it and my meringues come out just fine.

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There are so many options with meringues. You can change the shape, size, color, flavor and even add fillings. I’ve added a drop of food color or flavored extract to make all sorts of varieties. My family loves these double meringues with chocolate between them like the ones pictured here. It’s simple. Just melt some chocolate, use the back of a spoon to apply some to the bottom of one meringue and stick a second meringue to it. These also make a beautiful gift to bring over to a neighbor, a teacher or someone at work.

Meringues

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 16 meringues
Calories 31

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (120 grams )
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
  • 5/8 cup sugar (120 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 250F (120 C)
  • Pour aquafaba in bowl
  • Add cream of tartar (optional)
  • Add sugar slowly while mixing, until peaks are stiff
  • Use a pastry bag to form meringues on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sometimes I use a star tip to get a swirled shape, but most often, I use a round tip and make these macaron shaped meringue. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can use a plastic bag (like a ziploc) with a tiny hole cut at one of the corners.
  • Cook at 250F (120C) for one hour until just firm, and not sticky on the outside.

Notes

Tip: The aquafaba to sugar ratio is 1:1.  I do the recipe at home in grams, but I’ve also listed the measurements in cups.  Measuring in grams is a bit more precise.  If you have a digital scale, just set it to grams and measure away!
Calories: 31kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dessert and treats

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 31kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 31mg | Sugar: 8g

If you like dessert, you’ll love these Italian Bisse Cookies from the Jewish Ghetto of Venice!

Are looking for the best Hanukkah doughnuts (sufganiyot) recipe? Then look no further! Suganiyot (singular: suganiyah) are round jelly doughnuts eaten around the world during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

How Will You Fill Your Hanukkah Doughnuts?

Don’t stop at jelly! Nowadays, you can find suganiyot filled with every type of flavor you can imagine. Some favorites are chocolate cream, vanilla custard, fruit jam and nutella. But, why stop there! I’ve made cappuccino cream and sweet tehini mousse. And, sufganiyot are delicious topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar.

These little pillows of goodness are the perfect treat. They are sure to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. Imagine seeing a beautiful platter of Hanukkah doughnuts adorning the table with other holiday delicacies or receiving them in a Hanukkah gift package!

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

Why Do We Eat Sufganiyot for Hanukkah?

We eat sufganiyot cooked in oil to recount the miracle of the oil of the menorah in the ancient temple in Jerusalem more than 2,200 years ago. The Syrian-Greek Army (the Seleucids) caused great havoc when they took over the Temple in Jerusalem. They erected statues for idol worship and destroyed the cruses of oil needed to light the menorah each day.

Miracles Abound!

Firstly, the small band of Jews, led by the Maccabees, defeated the large and mighty Greek army. Then a great miracle occurred when one cruse of pure oil was found. But, it was just enough oil to last for one day. The greater miracle was that the oil lasted 8 days, which was the exact amount of time necessary to travel and acquire more pure oil. To read more about Hanukkah and celebrating it during this challenging year, click here.

And now, get ready for the best Hanukkah Doughnuts Sufganiyot Recipe! Pin It now, so you can make it later!

Hanukkah Doughnuts Sufganiyot Recipe Pin

Sufganiyot for Hanukkah (Jelly Doughnuts)

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 26 doughnuts
Calories 93

Ingredients

  • active dry yeast 2 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 ounce or 7 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk at room temperature (you can use soy milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups flour

Instructions 

Preparing the Dough

  • This dough can be mixed by hand or by electric mixer.
  • Put the yeast and warm water in a mixing bowl, with a sprinkling of the measured out sugar to activate the yeast. When it starts to bubble a bit, then you know the yeast is working.
  • Add the rest of the sugar and the milk, and whisk.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, pinch of salt and teaspoon of vanilla and continue whisking.
  • Change the whisk attachment to the dough hook.
  • Add the butter or margarine in pieces.
  • Add the flour in three parts to ensure everything gets mixed well.
  • Mix for several minutes.
  • If needed, add a 1/2 teaspoon of milk at a time to gather up any dry flour at the bottom of the bowl.

Making the Doughnuts

  • When the dough is ready, roll it out about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut circles with a cookie cutter between 2 1/2 – 3 inches round. (My cutter is actually 2 3/4 inches).
  • Press the cookie cutter straight down into the dough and twist right before you remove it from the dough.
  • Place doughnut circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Let the doughnuts rise for at least 30 minutes. (When I have the time, I even let them rise 1.5 hours).
  • Fill a large pot, like a pasta pot, with 2 inches (approximately 4 cups) of vegetable oil. (During Hanukkah, I actually use half vegetable oil and half extra virgin olive oil, but all vegetable oil is fine).
  • Heat oil on medium high and then turn down to low.
  • Place three sufganiyot at a time in the oil and cook the first side for 2 minutes. (Tip: They seem to expand better by putting the side that was face down while they were rising, face up in the pot of oil).
  • Flip them over with a slotted spoon and cook for another minute.
  • Cooking time will vary based on the size of your pot and your stove, so do a test run with the first batch. Sometimes, the doughnuts will cook as fast as one minute per side.
  • Remove the sufganiyot with the slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
  • When cooled, filled them to your heart's desire and sprinkle with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Calories: 93kcal
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: Chanukah, Chanukah donuts, dessert, dessert and treats, Hanukkah, Hanukkah doughnuts, kosher, sufganiyah, suganiyot

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 94IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

Have you ever seen a 1000 pound menorah go up by hand?!

What’s your favorite sufganiyot filling? What other recipes would you like me to post on the blog? Scroll down and let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

How to Enjoy Hanukkah 2020 Safely

When is Hanukkah and how do you spell Hanukkah are perhaps the two biggest questions about the holiday! Whether you spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah, Hanukkah is on the evening of the 24th of Kislev, which in 2020 begins Thursday, December 10 and ends Friday, December 18.  It’s hard to believe that the year 2020 is coming to an end.   It has been a challenging year to say the least.  Some are healing physically and some emotionally. Many are wondering how to enjoy Hanukkah safely with others or how to enjoy it if they are on their own.

We are taught that life is not about what happens, but how we react. With that being said, there are many who will be facing another holiday without family and friends.  Some for health reasons, some have kids away at school and for some, the youngest child has just gotten married leaving parents now as empty nesters.  Sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone, in being alone.

🤍 Many of you ask which products I use and recommend. This post contains some of my affiliate links for “making every day the best day” while cooking, entertaining and living life.  If you buy something through one of these links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a small commission which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!

How can I manage the holiday alone?

We don’t have to manage the holidays as if it is something to go through, but we can make it truly wonderful.  Here are some thoughts about ways to make the holidays a meaningful experience, and not just a passage of time.  

Happiness is interesting.  It can be brought on by many different things.  But regardless of what actually encourages us to feel happy, the state of happiness triggers the same kind of stimuli in our brains.  

Being sad or lonely is a separate feeling.  One can be happy about one thing while at the same time, be sad about another.  What we focus on more is what gets our attention and becomes the stronger feeling.  This is important because this leads us to our next thoughts and feelings. And, whether they will be positive or negative begins with us.  It may not always be easy, but we can (and must) work on our focus.

Focus is Almost Like a Muscle

The more we work on our focus, the more we strengthen it.  And this isn’t only true at moments we are actively using it.  Even during unexpected situations, we will have greater success. Imagine having to suddenly catch a heavy falling object. If we are fit, then we can exert the necessary strength when we need it.  It takes work, repetition and dedication to strengthen our ability to focus, but it can be done.  Be strong and separate the two concepts of the holiday: the inherent joy in the festival itself and who we are with (or not with).  We can then truly experience a special and memorable holiday.  

Chanukah Unites Us

Over forty years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn connected Jews all over the world via satellite to enjoy the Hanukkah menorah lighting together. As we all have seen more this year than any year before, we too can make use of technology to spread light all around the world. Whether you are lighting at home on your own or with family, get online during your menorah lighting to share one of the most meaningful parts of the holiday together with those you care about. And remember to give a big “amen” to each other as you say the blessings. 

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on 
PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 
7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

Learn the Blessings

On the first night, we say all three blessings.  On the remaining nights, we say the first two.  

In the first, we bless the lighting of the Hanukkah lights.  The second blessing mentions the miracles that G-d performed for those who came before us and for those miracles that He will also do for us.

The third blessing is said on the first night only.  It is a blessing that we say when we are doing a mitzvah for the first time that year. These words of gratitude are an expression of thanks that G-d has sustained us and brought us to celebrate this special moment.

1. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner Cha-nu-kah.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

2. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-a-sa ni-sim la-avo-te-nu ba-ya-mim ha-hem bi-zman ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who performed miracles for our forefathers in those days, at this time.

3. Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‐d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

The Lyrics, The Tunes, The Instruments! 

After lighting the menorah, you can break out the song sheets and sing the songs you loved as a kid or learn them together.  Sing, stream or play them on a musical instrument. There is an abundance of Hanukkah music online to choose from.  So turn up the volume and turn up the holiday feeling.

Decorate for Chanukah

Decorate ahead in anticipation of Hanukkah.  From table settings to wall hangings and balloons, there’s nothing like walking into a room filled with decorations to get you feeling the festive vibe.  And the actual planning and decorating can really get you in the Hanukkah mood.

You can buy some decorations, make them yourself or a combination of the two.  There are plenty of DYI ideas and printables online. And here are some of my favorites you can order, like

Window Decorations

                                                            

Ceiling Hanging Swirls

                                                            

Banners

                                                            

Hanukkah Meal Table Decorations

                                                            

And I just love these Hanging Ball Lanterns

                                                            

Milk Chocolate Coins – Hanukkah Gelt

                                                            

Make your zoom call screen shots more festive and memorable with these Fun Photo Booth Props.

                                                            

Get Your Dreidel Game On!  Whether you are playing in person together or online together.

                                                            

Treat yourself or others to delicious holiday treats with these Hanukkah Cookie Cutters.

                                                            

Review the History of Chanukah

In Jewish tradition, every physical thing has a spiritual equivalent.  Each historical event isn’t just something to be remembered. Jewish mysticism teaches that the power of the original event is also present and available for us each and every year on the anniversary of its original occurence.

2200 years ago, in the second century BCE, the Land of Israel was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks.  The Greeks objected to belief in the One G-d.  They tried to force the Jews to give up learning Torah and observing mitzvot.  Instead, they wanted the Jews to adopt the Greek culture and beliefs, which ran contrary to Judaism.

A small group of farmers, led by Judah the Maccabee, fought against the mighty Greek army. So mighty was the Greek Army, they were the first to employ the use of elephants during fighting. Without much military skill or equipment, the small band of Jews fought off the Greeks, drove them out of the land and rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem to reinstitute the special services to G-d.  One of the special daily services in the time of the Temple was to light the seven-branched menorah.  

The Hanukkah Miracle

But there was no pure oil to be found, as the Greeks had damaged all the containers.  Then miraculously, one cruse of pure oil was found, enough for just one night.  The greater miracle was that the oil not only lasted 8 days, but that was the exact amount of time necessary to travel and acquire more pure oil.  Our Sages instituted the celebration of this historical event as an annual holiday to remember and publicize the revealed miracles of Chanukah.  

It also reminds us that the smallest amount of light can dispel a great amount of darkness.  Goodness is compared to the light, and the not good to the dark.  This season is a chance to spread our own unique light by rededicating ourselves to increasing in random acts of goodness and kindness.

Cook Special Hanukkah Foods

World Famous Latke Recipe

How about having a World Famous Latke Recipe? This is the latke recipe from GAM GAM Kosher Restaurant at the main entrance of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy.  It may very well be the most eaten latke recipe on the planet, as we have served hundreds of thousands of latkes to guests from all over the world for more than 20 years! You can get my latke recipe here.

Latkes are delicious served with sour cream, apple sauce or whatever you fancy.  And it goes without saying, that the best latkes are followed up with delicoius Hanukkah doughnuts, or sufganiyot. Whether you buy some or make them at home, there is a filling for everyone’s taste: strawberry or cherry jelly, chocolate cream, vanilla custard and more!  

Deliver a Special Hanukkah Package to Someone

More often than not, giving is more fun than receiving. Buy or make a double batch of latkes or Hanukkah doughnuts and bring some joy to a neighbor, a colleague or a teacher. What better way to bring a smile to someone’s face during the holidays than sharing and showing you are thinking of them.

Send Chanukah Greetings

Make a list of ten people (or more) to send Chanukah greetings to, via online cards.  This is probably one of the easiest ways to bring a smile to someone’s face.  It may seem like a simple gesture, but receiving an e-card with a personal message is heart-warming.  It is taught, “Words that come from the heart, enter the heart.”

Spread Light

King Soloman, wrote in Proverbs: “The soul of man is a lamp of G-d.” A lamp is made up of a wick, oil and a container to hold the oil.  All the parts are needed to produce light. A wick instantly would burn to ash if not for the oil to sustain its flame.  Oil can’t easily be lit on its own, if at all.  

But when all three parts are brought together, they can produce a flame that is strong and constant.  The same goes for our soul.  What does it mean to be the lamp of G-d?  We are here for a Divine purpose: to elevate the physical world with spirituality.  G-d supplies us with the oil, the Torah and mitzvot.  The physicality of our lives is the wick.  We use our hands to light the Hanukkah menorah or to put a coin in a charity box.  We use our mouths to say a blessing before eating or drinking.  

We must combine our physical wick (our good actions) with our spiritual oil (Torah and mitzvot), and internalize their significance, as we are the lamp.  

Be the Light!

Fill yourself, ignite yourself and shine. Not only for those around you, but shine also for yourself.  Feel the warm glow of our traditions and the warmth of the strength and comfort of getting through these challenging times, as we look ahead toward the future. Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy Hanukkah filled with light and joy!

For more on the Mystical Insights of Hanukkah, catch my class on PulveREDU, this coming Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm EST, 7:00pm CET, 8:00pm IST.  You can register here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about Hanukkah this year. Leave me your comments below. xo

Spicy Schug Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 32 teaspoons
Calories 31
Add some spice to your life, and to your kitchen, with this authentic Yemenite schug recipe. Schug is often eaten on falafel in pita or meat dishes like shawarma. It's also great with humus, grilled chicken, yogurts, eggs or anything you want to add some kick to.
I’m an Ashkenazi girl with a Separdic stomach. And at my Shabbat table, we have guests from all over the world where we typically have six continents represented. You know my motto is "keeping everyone around the table happy!" This also applies when serving hundreds of guests each Shabbat. By night, I serve fish simmering in the traditional spicy Moroccan tomato sauce Charaime (Haraimi). By day, it's baked salmon with lemon or pesto. And there are salads and dips running the entire spectrum of Jewish cuisine, including plenty of schug.
This recipe can be made ahead since it can last days in the fridge. (But it won’t because it will be devoured). And since it is so fast and easy, it can be made fresh each time. I’ve made schug with an immersion blender, but I recommend preparing it in a food processor for the best consistency.
There are many different variations of red or green schug recipes around, and there are even different spellings: schug, zhug and skhug. The delicious taste of this hot sauce comes from the blend of nutritious fresh produce and a list of spices that also have their share of vitamins.
By the way, did you know that the longer a green chili pepper sits on the vine, it begins to change color until it’s red?

Ingredients

  • 5 jalapeno peppers (for aesthetics, I use four green and one red)
  • 1 cup parsley ((one bunch))
  • 1 cup cilantro ((one bunch))
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Preparing recipes with spicy peppers takes a bit of care. Jalapeno and other hot peppers can leave a residue of capsaisin on your hands for hours or even days. Be careful not to touch your face, eyes or that of a child who needs something mid-preparation. Best is to use a pair of one time use gloves.
  • Carefully cut and remove stems from the peppers.
  • Next cut peppers lengthwise to remove seeds and any excess white pith. Most of the heat is in the seeds, so if you want to bring the heat to the next level, add some when the recipe is finished, but I doubt you will need it.
  • Put the peppers in the food processor.
  • Cut most of the stems from the parsley and cilantro. Leaving some stems is fine.
  • Add the parsley and cilantro to food processor and give a rough chop. Schug should be a bit chunky, as opposed to a creamy pesto, but the texture is a personal choice.
  • Then add the remaining ingredients and pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings to your liking.

Notes

Makes approximately one cup of schug. Keep refrigerated in an air tight jar or container.
Calories: 31kcal
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: kosher, Mediterranean, sauce, schug, Shabbat, Yemenite

Nutrition

Serving: 1teaspoon | Calories: 31kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 73mg | Potassium: 7mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg

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These delicious stuffed mushrooms make a quick and easy side dish, main dish for vegetarians or even a healthy snack.

I found these gorgeous oversized mushrooms at the supermarket and decided they would be perfect as stuffed mushrooms. Such an easy, yet elegant dish.

I love mushrooms because there are so many varieties and they are rich in fiber and protein.  Mushrooms also contain vitamins, nutrients and powerful antioxidants like selenium, which is very important for the immune system.  Selenium can also have an effect on fighting inflammation.

Easy Elegant Stuffed Mushrooms

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
I make a double batch of these stuffed mushrooms because everyone always wants seconds!

Ingredients

  • 8 mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 8 cracker squares (1 individual pack of saltine style crackers)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Wash the mushrooms well
  • Trim the very ends of the mushrooms stems
  • Peel the carrots
  • Use your thumb to pop off the mushroom stems
  • Chop the stems and carrots into bits
  • Place the chopped mushroom stems and carrots in a bowl.
  • Crush the crackers in the package or in a baggie to avoid a mess and add them to the vegetables.
  • Add the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Mix until well incorporated.
  • The mix should be moist, but not soggy. (Add some more olive oil if necessary).
  • Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.
  • Lay out the mushroom caps and sprinkle tops and bottoms with salt and pepper.
  • Fill with the vegetable mix.
  • Sprinkle with olive oil.
  • Bake at 350F/180C for approximately 15 minutes. Cook longer if you desire a crispier texture
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: kosher, mushroom recipes, side dishes, Vegetarian

I’d love to hear from you! Does this sound like something you’ll enjoy? What other types of recipes would you like me to post? Let me know in the comments below!

Delicious Potato Knishes

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Dough Chill 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8
My mother and I took a walk down memory lane to New York’s world famous Coney Island.
“They were absolutely delicious. They really were.," recalls my mother, while reminiscing about Surf Knishes, my parents’ knish factory on Coney Island’s Surf Avenue 50 years ago.
“Everything was fresh”, she continues, “no artifical ingredients, real potatoes and the secret spice recipe.”
Recalling the sights and sounds of one of New York’s most famous hot spots for food, entertainment and Summer fun, she explained that one of Surf Knishes wholesale customers was the iconic restaurant Nathan’s Famous, then owned by the Handwerker Family.
Surf Knishes also had a take-away window to serve the passersby delighting in the sights of the Coney Island Boardwalk. I can imagine the locals and tourists working up an appetite while enjoying the famed Cyclone roller coaster, the performers and parades.
What better to satisfy their hunger than this traditional Ashkenazi Jewish pocket of deliciousness of mashed potatoes in a warm flaky pastry. My recipe may be different, but the passion remains the same as evidenced by my knishes being devoured like hotcakes off the griddle.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teasoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup apple juice or water
  • Potato Filling:
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg for eggwash

Instructions 

  • Mix the dry ingredients
  • Add the vegetable oil and mix
  • Add 1/2 cup of apple juice or water and mix.
  • Add remaining liquid by the spoonful until dough is well-mixed
  • Cover and refridgerate the dough for 30 minutes or until ready to use.
  • While dough is chilling, boil 3 large potatoes in salted water.
  • Dice and sautee’ half an onion until translucent.
  • Place in a large bowl, mash the potatoes with a fork and season the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of evoo and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Add the egg to the potato mixture and mix well.
  • Tip: I use an immersion blender to quickly puree the potato mixture, because my family prefers a smooth filling. Skip this step if you prefer otherwise.
  • Roll out the dough thinly into a rectangle.
  • Using a smooth edged knife, cut the dough in half vertically and then into quarter horizontally to make eight even-sized rectangles.
  • Add a dollop of potato mixture to the bottom half of a rectangle and fold and close the knish. Press the edges closed all around with your fingertips. (Like someone two-finger typing with their pointer fingers). Repeat with the remaining rectangles.
  • Brush each knish with beaten egg and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes.

Notes

My husband bought me this KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Blender many years ago and I absolutely love it!  I use it on a daily basis to make smoothies, soups, sauces, nut butter and more.  It also comes with a whisk attachment that makes scrambling eggs or beating egg whites into stiff peaks a piece of cake.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: ashkenaz, bread, grains, knish, potato, rice, side dishes

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