Home-made Chocolate Peanut-Butter Balls (aka “Homemade Reeses”)

Courses:  Cuisines:  
Over 27 years ago, I attended the ordination party of my friend and colleague Rabbi Paula Winnig. Before they became popular, her mom was already making these "to-die for" home-made chocolate peanut-butter balls. I had to have the recipe. She wrote it on the back of the ordination program for me. Somewhere I still have that handwritten recipe. Everyone LOVES these! My cousin will call and ask: "Can you please make just 4 for me?" (Because she's afraid she doesn't have the willpower to refrain from eating the entire batch). It's a fun recipe to make with young children: lots of squooshing and mooshing of ingredients together. I have adapted the original recipe a bit. I recommend making them at least one day in advance (everything needs time to "meld together" for optimum taste). They freeze beautifully and also taste great frozen.

Peppermint Candy Shot-Glasses

Holidays:  Courses:  Cuisines:  
Three of my little sweet shot-glasses. So yummy!
Three of my little sweet shot-glasses. So yummy!
I belong to a "members-only" Facebook cooking page established by my friend, famed Canadian chef, Norene Gilletz. People share recipes, pose query's and exchange ideas. Someone posted a blog from "The Watering Mouth"that includes a recipe and video link  for how to make these peppermint candy shot-glasses. It's a homemade YouTube video and very funny. I was going to visit some friends during the Chanukah/Christmas/New Year's season and thought these would be a fun gift to bring.

Bella’s Mini Date-Nut “Bites”

Holidays:  /  Courses:  Cuisines:  /  /  
Last night, some friends came for dinner and brought these delicious mini "cupcakes" (I'm calling them "bites".) As she handed them to me, Mona said, "I've observed that you hardly ever eat any bread, cake, or things like that, so I thought these would be perfect for you." (I'm on an anti-inflammatory grain-free diet for a neurological condition and follow it about 95% of the time). These yummy treats are absolutely divine! They are perfect for everyone (except for those who are allergic to nuts or eggs). They contain no added sugars, no flours of any kind, no added fats. The only ingredients are dried fruits, nuts and eggs! And they look gorgeous! Perfect for any occasion! I'm going to serve them for Rosh Hashanah and Passover! (from the Kitchen of Mona Saidens: Bella is Mona's mother)

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip “Blondies”

Courses:  Cuisines:  
This is a delicious and healthy alternative for those people who are on gluten-free and/or grain-free diets. You can whip it up quickly and it bakes in less than a half-hour. While they are not as dense as regular blondies, they are a nice substitute. And, if you don't tell anyone they are "grain-free" or "gluten-free" - they won't notice! An added bonus: since the main ingredient is almond butter, these would make a great post-workout snack! There are many versions of this recipe on all the "grain-free" websites online, but this one seems the simplest.

My Friend Lynn’s Rustic Apple Cranberry Tart

Courses:  Cuisines:  
My friend Lynn Burton is a wonderful baker! She loves to present her friends with wonderful gifts from her kitchen. I had this delicious apple cranberry tart once at her house and she graciously shared the recipe with me. I love it because you can quickly make the pastry dough in the food processor and you can substitute whatever fruit you would like for the filling.

Chocolate Wontons

Holidays:  Courses:  Cuisines:  
Bob Blumer, chef and Canadian
Bob Blumer, chef and Canadian
(Inspired by Bob Blumer) At Chanukah, it’s traditional to eat fried foods: crispy potato latkes (pancakes), sweet jelly doughnuts (known as sufganiyot in Hebrew). I fell in love with Canadian chef Bob Blumer while I lived in Toronto. He had a TV show called “The Surreal Gourmet” and cooked fun and delicious foods out of an RV decked out like a huge toaster (complete with toast popping out of the top). Bob believes that food should be delicious, fun and amusing. He loves to make things that remind you of something else: a pink, frothy drink served up in Pepto-Bismol bottles, for instance. Or roasted cauliflower bites served up in popcorn containers. When I saw his recipe for Chocolate Wontons – I thought this would be great to make for CHANUKAH. Because: a) they are fried b) it’s a participatory experience: kids and adults get to make their own (but have an adult do the actual frying) c) people can choose which ingredients they want to put inside. d) Everyone has a lot of fun making them and then eating them! I have been making these around Chanukah-time now for three years and they are a huge hit! They taste like a cross between a banana fritter and a rich and gooey S’more. Who doesn’t love those?!

Sue Devor’s Decadent Flour-less Chocolate Torte

Holidays:  Courses:  Cuisines:  /  
When I lived in Toronto, Sue Devor, the owner of "Sweet Sue's" pastry shop was my congregant. She often led a "baking for Passover" cooking demo at my congregation. Passover baked goods shouldn't taste like "Passover". She introduced me to this rich and gooey chocolate torte. This recipe has become one of my most requested YEAR-ROUND favourites. My brother (the Culinary Institute of America trained chef) declared: "Wow! This cake is better than one of mine!" I've modified Sue's original recipe to make it serve a larger group and added a chocolate glaze. You can flavour it with mint extract (if you like mint), or use a strong espresso (in place of water) if you like a mocha flavour.  This is sure to be a show-stopper and a big hit! Here is my version of Sue's fabulous recipe. Thank you, Sue!

Cold Melon Soup Duo

Courses:  /  
"Summer time, and the living is easy..." This is the season when we want to eat lightly and not spend hours in the kitchen preparing food that's cool, refreshing, delicious, and beautiful. My dear friends Judy and David introduced me to this delicious and beautiful cold melon soup duo. It's the perfect starter for an easy summer lunch or dinner (or, you can even serve it for dessert with some vanilla ice cream on the side). I've "tweaked" the recipe a bit to suit my taste. What's so wonderful about it, is that the prep time is minimal, but the impact on presentation is huge! It's important, however, to prepare it at least several hours before you plan to serve it (or in the morning). It needs to sit in the fridge for a few hours for two reasons: 1) the flavors need time to "marry"; and 2) it is best served chilled.