Roasted Carrots with Tahini-Harissa Sauce

Time is rolling right by me and as much as I try to keep it still, I feel like it’s racing faster than I can keep up. Apparently it’s normal given the season in life I’m in: small kids and a never-ending to do list. I’m not complaining, just lamenting over the slow decrease of precious “me” time, when silence reigns and my hands get to be free to do as they please rather than be tied up in some serious multitasking. Imagine holding a delicious infant, balancing a cutting board on the counter and slicing an apple so that the older kids can munch on something to keep their little mouths occupied and out of trouble. Ah, the blessings. 
It’s taken a few kids for me to come to the realization that I need to create my time. By habit, I like to do things on a whim. I’m the non-planned, always-late type. Not a virtue, just a reality. It’s worked quite well for the past twenty-some years, allowing for carefree spontaneity and a laid-back approach. Things just fell into place, and they still do, except now they come tangled with stress. So I’m still working on my resolve to improve my time management skills (from two new years’ ago)
Despite it all, I’m still cooking and photographing, I just don’t get to share as quickly. So let’s pick up where we left off and talk about these carrots. I got this beautiful bunch in a CSA box. Their freshness was incredible and their smell intoxicating; sweet and aromatic. They were probably the most perfect carrots I’ve ever gotten. I knew they needed something special to bring out their best side, other than enjoying them raw. I roasted them to bring out their natural sweetness and topped them with a spicy, creamy sauce. A truly remarkable side dish. I served them along with a Mediterranean tilapia, which we’ll talk about soon, and they complemented each other beautifully. This recipe comes together in no time, which is especially beneficial when you are the non-planned, laid-back type.

I did just realize we are 3 months into 2014. So, happy belated 2014, and tu bishvat, and president’s day, and soon-to-be Purim!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup

The weather in LA has been a little unpredictable. One day I'll be wrapping a knitted scarf around my neck and snuggling the littles in hooded jackets, and the next I'll be reaching for summer shoes and a light sweater. By nightfall though, the air is crisp and chilly and I long for a comforting dinner. It usually comes in the form of a steaming bowl of soup that I can wrap my hands around. It's amazing how instantly it warms me up.

This cherry tomato soup was simple to put together yet bursts with flavor. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and deepens their flavor. As well for the onions. You simply cook it in stock for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper, and you get quite the tasty soup. We paired it with pumpernickel grilled cheese and a small salad, and called it a successful dinner.

(Click the link to check out "Comfort food" recipes from other bloggers in this month's Kosher Connection Link-up.)

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I've slipped out of here for a short while. A few things have been going on, most notably: we're moving soon. In just a few weeks Gd willing, we'll be unpacking boxes in a new living space. It's a small, charming apartment with french windows and beautiful sunlight. The kitchen is cozy and has a slight shabby, vintage feel. I'm excited for the change, though less excited about the packing.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you this Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese from the Joy of Kosher cookbook. I left you with a giveaway last time, that I'm extending because I haven't been around, so you can still enter if you'd like to win a copy of the cookbook. 
I made this with the kids as an afternoon activity. They loved participating in the process, and though this isn't the most simple recipe, it's worth every step. Really. The sweet undertones from the butternut squash complement the flavorful, spiced, cheesy sauce. The thyme adds a nice, earthy touch and the panko-parmesan topping takes it to the next level. I might have spooned a few mouthfuls directly from the serving dish after I devoured my entire share. Who could resist the crispy edges?
We used part of the recipe to make into muffin mac n cheese. I ended up freezing them and using them for the kids' lunch. (I defrost them overnight in the fridge and warm them up the toaster oven for a few minutes) Oh, kids lunch! I am now part of the "what do you give your kids for lunch?" conversations. They seem to purposely not eat what I pack for them. But I haven't given up. I try to mix things up even though they'd gladly eat plain pasta every day of the week.

If you're planning a mac n cheese dinner soon, try this recipe! It really is wonderful. Truthfully, the Joy of Kosher cookbook is filled with many other delectable recipes and you can still enter the giveaway here if you'd like to win a copy!

Joy of Kosher Cookbook Review & Giveaway

I got to know Jamie Geller over tea the other day. Not in person, but through the words and stories she shares in her new cookbook. The Joy of Kosher is a beautiful compilation of recipes, some updated classics and other new concoctions. It reads a little like a blog, with anecdotes dispersed throughout. A nice touch, I thought.

To me, a few things make up a worthwhile coobook: beautiful photographs, easy, innovative recipes that do not require packaged, processed ingredients, and categorizing the recipe in a practical, organized way.

Ok, let's start with my favorite part: the pictures! The photography is beautiful; polished and tasteful. The dishes look succulent. Each recipe has a picture, which to me is important since that's how I determine whether I'll try a recipe. I especially love the lifestyle photographs showing glimpses into Jamie's blessedly busy life as a harried mother of 5 adorable little ones, whom you get to meet. The pictures liven up the book and keep you turning page after page.

Now about the actual recipes. They are a mix of updated classics (think Scallion Cornbread, Deep Dish Kugel or Caviar topped Latkes) as well as some more interesting ones like Sesame Chicken Sushi or Blue Cheese, Pear & Arugula Pizza as well as Blackened Tilapia Tacos. Most of the recipes rely on fresh ingredients, and a few will use simple store-bought ingredients like the pizza rounds for her lachmagine. Oh, speaking of lachmagine (Syrian meat pizzas such as these), I love the diverse cultural influences throughout the recipes. She has many Israeli/Sephardi dishes (I bookmarked the falafel and schug) which means I'll have a fair share of things to cook from here (sorry I just can't do gefilte fish, I tried). Of course, there is the typical American and Asian stuff (the Soba Noodles with Tofu looks amazing).

I think the best feature in the book is that the recipes are given multiple versions and variations; ways you can dress them up or down. Don't feel like roasting the chicken? You'll get steps to make it in your slow-cooker. If you made a big batch of challah dough, you'll find more than a handful of suggestions to dress it up in different flavors. It makes the book that much more practical and user-friendly.

The book is also well organized. The recipes are divided in 5 categories: soups and starters, sides and salads, mains, desserts, and challah. The begining of each chapter has a summary of all the upcoming recipes within that section divided into meat, parve and dairy. This is a handy feature when you need to look up a recipe quickly.
Also, each recipe has approximate cook time and yield amount. The steps are numbered and the fonts and colors are just right (important when you're cooking and reading). The book is also a good size, making it a comfortable companion in the kitchen.

Now that I gave you a pragmatic overview of the book, I want to talk about what makes it extra special: the stories. Jamie made this book personal and memorable, you'll giggle your way through the pages with her characteristic humor. Her conversational tone makes you feel like your reading stories from your best friend. Even more, Jamie weaves in spiritual nuggets of information on Jewish life; from the significance of challah (love the shalom bayis challah recipe) to the beauty of keeping kosher. To me, food and spirituality are interconnected, and there is nothing more beautiful than true Jewish hospitality, especially using Jamie's fabulous recipes.

"What's important is that food brings us together, and we all want to share our best, most delectable meals with the people we love. And when it's kosher, we're also pulling in thousands of years of love and tradition" (Jamie Geller, p.6)

What can I say? It's really fabulous. I see the love and work Jamie put into. I'm happy it's part of my collection. I look forward to cooking with it and nurturing those around me with meals from its pages.

I even get to give one away! Yep, just in time for Chanukah.

So let's get this giveaway going.


1. Leave a comment, say anything you'd like. What are you cooking for Chanuka?

2. Follow the kosher spoon by subscribing to the email list here and/or to the RSS feed here

3. Follow the kosher spoon on instagram

4. Share the giveaway with friends, and leave a comment letting me know. (Through any and all social medias you use)

Do one or all. Remember to leave a separate comment for every entry.

The winner is: molly pitcher! Congrats!

*disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book. All opinions are really, seriously, truthfully my own.

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