GRAPEFRUIT AVOCADO ENDIVE CUPS

So, Passover is next week. Insane, right? I don't know where January or February went, but now Passover is in a week - maybe 2018 is trying to do us a favor by ending as quickly as possible.

I'm not going to my family for Passover this year, which means I'll be staying home in the city, staring longingly at bagels until I come to my senses.* In helping a friend menu plan her seder, I've been thinking about the foods and traditions my family has for our own. We always have props for the ten plagues on the table - plastic animals and bugs, those plastic monster finger puppet things and, for some reason, tiny plastic cowboys with guns for the death of the first born plague, maybe?

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CHALLAH FOR BODY AND SOUL (OR YEAST MEETS WEST, FROM DAD)

Today's post is written by none other than Rina's amazing mama bear, Ruth! Welcome to the blog, Mama Gato.

Rina always stood on the little green stool.  I stood behind her, her crazy curls tickling my nose as she stretched her tiny fingers to reach the kneading bowl. My grown up hands guided her child hands.  Palm down, fold and turn, palm down, fold and turn, again and again. If the dough was too sticky Rina would make monster fingers with the tacky mess, and I would slowly add small pinches of flour to the bowl.  “Does it feel like an earlobe, yet?”  When Rina’s crazy curls bobbed up and down I would announce, “Then it’s done!”

That was how we made challah every Friday after nursery school.  I showed Rina how to check an egg for blood spots, how to wake up the yeast with warm water and feed it with sugar and then proof it— wait patiently (or not so patiently) for it to froth in the bowl.  This, Rina understood, was what it meant to “make Shabbos.”  The Sabbath did not come on it’s own—if we wanted Friday night to become Shabbos, then we had to make it so. We had to invite the guests, shop for groceries, prepare the meal and set the table.  In this way we transformed the mundane into the holy. A key step to turning an ordinary end-of-the-week dinner into a Shabbos feast was to bake the challah.

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BUMPY CAKE

Have you ever tried explaining something to someone only to realize that that something is completely unknown beyond the confines of your childhood hometown?

It's like this earth-shattering moment of shock where you realize your Mitten State suburb is smaller than you think and that a whole chunk of the world has been deprived of one of your favorite birthday party desserts. It's a tragic moment of revelation, but thank god we have a blog to save everyone. 

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MAPLE PECAN POPCORN

If you haven't had a chance to swing by our About Us Page, you might not know that Rina and I are high school musical dorks. And, no, that's not High School Musical with capital letters (though I do love me some Getcha Head In The Game), rather, high school musical, as in our high school's musical theater department. That's where our friendship first blossomed. It was my freshman year, her sophomore year, and she was the Marty to my Rizzo in Grease. 

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CHEDDAR, SCALLION + SRIRACHA LATKES

I was talking to my parents on the phone last night, and I started the conversation with a cheerful statement: people are terrible and girls are growing up with habitual predators literally everywhere. Everywhere! I knew this before the Harvey Weinstein news hit, as did every other woman on the planet, but now that we're openly acknowledging and condemning sexual assault, it feels simultaneously better and worse. Better, because people (ahem, men) are finally, FINALLY listening and believing, but worse, because, well, after seeing man after man after man whom I admired be accused of sexual assault, the little faith I had in humanity is pretty much shot. Bye forever, grain of hope. It was nice hosting you for a while.

I do some bat mitzvah tutoring on the side, and lately I've been thinking about how to empower girls of all ages in a realistic way. When Hilary Clinton lost the election, it was a major fuck you to the idea that a girl can grow up to be anything she wants. She can try, but if a man, regardless of his qualifications, is vying for that same position, she's screwed. So what is there to do?

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SWEET POTATO LATKES WITH VEGAN CHIPOTLE AIOLI

You know those days where you wake up and immediately suspect a bad day is afoot? Like, a day that's a worthy rival of Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a favorite in the Adler household growing up)? That was what yesterday was like. 

For starters, it was a Monday. Nothing good happens on a Monday. Even holiday weekend Mondays are really just Sundays in disguise. But this Monday, started with a wake up call from my parents checking in on me after hearing a pipe bomb went off at Port Authority. No casualties, thankfully. Then, five minutes later, the fire department comes barreling down my street, with firefighters in full gear clamoring up the stairs of my building. It was just steam, they said, thankfully. The worst part of these incidents was that I realized how New York I've become. I was not scared to ride the subway or be in a burning building. I was worried about being late for work and possibly having to evacuate in my pajamas. 

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VANILLA CARAMEL SUFGANIYOT

You didn't think we would leave you with just one sufganiyah recipe this holiday season, now, did you? Of course not. We feel obligated to make up for all those sad, dried out donuts you might have had in your day school youth. Or  for the fact that you were never even blessed with fried Hannukah treats to begin with and perhaps thought that sufganiyah was a type of martial arts. So, here we are - day two of our Hannukah foodie fest, and believe you me, this recipe is not one to be missed. 

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CHOCOLATE HALVA SUFGANIYOT

Alyssa and I are dedicated to creating foods and recipes that remind us of our Jewish upbringing and culture, which is why for the next couple of weeks we're making Hannukah recipes exclusively. The defining characteristic of a Hannukah food is whether or not it's fried in oil - the miracle of Hannukah is that after the Jewish Temple was destroyed, there was only enough oil for one night to light the menorah, but it lasted eight nights (which is why Hannukah is eight days). We don't recommend eating fried foods for eight days straight, but you must try homemade sufganiyot or latkes at least one during the holiday.

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CRANBERRY CURD TART WITH ROASTED HAZELNUT CRUST

I've always been told that my eating habits are a little weird. I tend to eat small meals throughout the day (more time spent eating is always a plus in my book, anyway), eat little bits of things instead of one big item, like a sandwich or something, and I take really small bites. Like, really small. I can work at a croissant for three hours - I've timed myself, it's a personal record.

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CHALLAH STUFFING WITH APPLES, SHALLOTS + CRANBERRIES

Like dry wine, stuffing is an acquired taste. 

To tell you the truth, I wasn't always a fan of stuffing. In fact, until we made this recipe, Rina wasn't much of a fan either. I get it -  there's something bizarre about a bread casserole with fruit in it. But once you dig your fork in and take a bite, I'm willing to bet you'll become a believer.

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BUTTERY CELERIAC POTATO MASH

Thanksgiving at my house is a bit of a scene. Depending on whether the Michigan-Ohio State football game is in Ann Arbor or Columbus, we usually have between 20 and 35 people at what I can only accurately call a Thanksgiving feast. Even though my mom complains about hosting, I know she secretly loves it. Family from both sides come into town along with a few old friends and college pals - what's not to love? It's certainly a joyous occasion filled to the brim with laughter and lots of carbs.

Ah, carbs. If Thanksgiving was a Jewish holiday, I'm pretty certain it would be a mitzvah to eat carbs. Between the stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and rolls, you've got all the starch you need to hibernate for the rest of the winter. My mom loves to complain about the carbs. In fact, she chooses her carbs wisely (and dutifully reports back to me) usually opting for stuffing over mashed potatoes. I'm more of a little bit of everything kind of girl, myself, but I will admit that in recent years the mashed potatoes have been so lackluster that it's been hard to make the case for multiple carbs.

Enter this celeriac mash.

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APPLE BRANDY SPIKED CIDER

After a certain point, living in New York becomes almost natural. I  say almost because mysterious subway stenches will never be considered natural, but after a bit of adjustment, the big city mellows enough to make any transplant feel at home. Or at least, said transplant finds the mellow among the chaos. 

I've been here for over three years now, and while I've never considered myself a New Yorker, I feel I have the city down pretty well. I know how to outsmart the closing doors, maneuver reckless bikers and eat delectably while on a budget. Despite this, I still find myself surprised by the small things this city quietly offers. Like the tiny corner farmers market just outside Morningside Park. Rina and I went with the intention of meeting Susie's Senior Dogs (more on that, later, we promise), and left with a bottle of the most understated alcohol I've ever encountered: apple brandy. 

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NOODLE KUGEL

It's no surprise that there's science backing nostalgic smells, but if you ask me, nostalgic tastes are just as real. Home Run Inn frozen pizza meant sleepovers at my best friends house. Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade cups were exclusively eaten at Detroit Pistons games. Of course stuffing was for crisp Michigan Thanksgivings and chocolate chip cookies were for Friday night dinners. But when I think of Rosh Hashanah, my mind immediately goes to my mom's delectable cinnamon noodle kugel. 

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RAINBOW KIDDISH COOKIES

When I was a kid, I loved anything and everything rainbow. I lived for Superman ice cream, rainbow Popsicles in the summer, friendship bracelets and Lisa Frank school supplies. Though I've grown out of my love for Superman ice cream (my brothers have not), a little bit of color goes a long way to brighten up even the grayest of adult days. In continuing with the Shabbat cookie trifecta we started a few weeks ago, Rina and I decided to whip up the the most popular cookie at the post bar-mitzvah kiddish luncheon - the rainbow chocolate drop cookie. 

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KICHEL (AKA BUBBE BOW TIE COOKIES)

Going to Jewish day school for most of our lives means Rina and I spent a fair share of our preteen years attending bar mitzvah synagogue services. If there was one thing I looked forward to on these Saturday mornings, it was the post-service Kiddush, or Jewish mini-brunch. They served an array of fishes of both the pickled and canned varieties, greasy potato chips and an assortment of dry, brittle, depressing cookies.

One such cookie, the abhorrent kichel, was truly a hot mess. This is the cookie that couldn't even pull itself together to look nice, let alone taste good. It tasted like sandpaper and looked like a wonton. It was all kinds of confused. 

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