Bagel vs. Crepe, Which Will Win?

An industrious couple in Brighton Beach is giving the bagel a run for it’s money.

Will the down-to-earth NYC bagel stay the supreme schmear-vehicle or will it be the elegant crepe as the ultimate roll up? Basically, same ingredients; one more fattening then the other with the key difference that you put your topping ON instead of IN (of course, that’s not the only differences, but the main ones).

What’s your vote? For the complete article, click here.

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Trader Joe’s Chip Change – Where Do You Stand?

You may or may not have heard that earlier this month, Trader Joe’s sparked national outcry when it changed the Kosher certification of its chocolate chips from Pareve to Dairy.  Kosher observers everywhere are rushing to clear the shelves of the original chips before they are replaced with their dairy counterpart, with some buying as many as 90 bags in one trip.  So much commotion has been caused that the internet seems to be full of consumers speaking out against the change; the Wall Street Journal even wrote an extensive article and reported that (as of one week ago) more than 4,200 had signed an online petition to reverse the decision.  Both Trader Joe’s and the Orthodox Union have received “hundreds” of letters and voicemails.

Trader Joe’s reported in a statement that the ingredients of the morsels had not changed, only the bagging process.  In an effort to save money, the manufacturer has reportedly eliminated a cleaning step of the conveyor belt between the bagging of dairy chips and the previously-pareve TJ chips.  Many industry experts believe that the voiced disappointment will not go unnoticed by the company, and that a revised processing plan should emerge, allowing the chips to once again be labeled Pareve.

The issue at hand – the reason those who eat Kosher diets noticed the change immediately – is that according to Kosher laws, dairy and meat may not be consumed together (or within three hours of each other, for that matter).  The old chips allowed customers to eat and bake with the chips without having to worry about eating meat with a meal before or after, as they were dairy-free.

As kosher gift baskets are my business, I, Jane, pay attention to these kinds of things happening in the news.  What do you, Challah Connection readers, think?  Does this change affect the way your family enjoys desserts?  Will you need to shop elsewhere?  Did you notice the change at all?

While some concerned patrons argue that TJ’s chips were the only mainstream, high-quality pareve produce available, I actually prefer other types of chocolate chips to the TJ brand.  Nestle and Callebaut are two of my favorites, and they are both certified Kosher Dairy.

Let us know what you think!  And feel free to include your favorite chocolate chip recipe – whether it’s for cookies, muffins or a cake; vegan, dairy, or gluten free, we want to hear it!

 

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The Land of Milk and Honey–What Does It Mean?

The phrase “land of milk and honey” is one that many of us have heard before. First mentioned in the book of Exodus as a description of Israel’s agricultural abundance, it was Moses’s destination while leading Jews out of Egypt.

Since then, it has become a visual metaphor for all things flowing and abundant. It is a term that conjures up pure pleasure including freedom, delicious, birth, fertility and more.

Order Cheesecake By 2PM, EST Thursday, May 24
Marble truffle cheesecakeThe holiday of Shavuot begins this Saturday, May 26 and celebrates the giving of the Torah* at Mt. Sinai, and the season’s first harvest of fruits. It’s customary to eat a dairy meal on Shavuot, reminding us of the land of milk and honey.

Favorite dairy dishes are blintzes, lasagna, noodle kugel, cottage cheese pancakes and cheesecake. As a matter of fact, cheesecake has become the most popular Shavuot dessert. Our cheesecakes, all OU, Dairy, are shipped nationwide. Last day to order for delivery at the start of Shavuot is Thursday, 2PM EST. Of course, cheesecake is also a Memorial Day favorite.

* the Torah is the primary “Jewish document” showing Jews how to act, feel and participate in every aspect of life and death. It is the “blueprint” for Jewish life and death.

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Cook Something Fabulous for Mom

This Mother’s Day, give Mom something really special: some of your home cooking. I’m not talking about a 5 course meal, although that is certainly fine. I’m thinking about 1 very special “something”
that will bring smiles and tears of happiness to her eyes.

Here are 3 delicious ideas, recipes included. Naturally, you’ll have to select your “project” based on Mom’s locale and whether you can cook “in person” or need to send your gift:
1) Apple Cake: I have baked this recipe about 5 times in the last few months. It is always outstanding and my family and I love it. Ships easily.
Challah French Toast2) Challah French Toast and Cottage Cheese Pancakes are both outstanding brunch dishes. Just add coffee, orange juice and fresh fruit and you have terrific meal!
3) Tomato and Onion Tart is a savory dish that can be served for brunch or lunch. Pair it with a salad, glass of white white and you’re done!

This Mother’s Day, I will be in Pennsylvania at my son’s college graduation–a terrific Mother’s Day. But the weekend after, we will be celebrating Mother’s Day with my mom and Mother-in-law. I will definitely be cooking for that!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Hats Off to Frieda

Do you know who is the visionary that brought exotic fruits to your supermarket shelves? Honestly, I had never thought about it, until today. Freida Caplan, who is 88 years old, started her business, Frieda’s Specialty Product,  50 years ago. The first female business owner at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, she made her mark for her interest in unusual fruits and veggies. Freida is most known for bringing Kiwifruit to the US but spaghetti squash and Asian pears are also tied to her legacy. I thank Frieda for her out-of-the box thinking as well as confidence that these products would appeal to us. Indeed they do!

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Favorite Brisket Recipe, In Time for Passover

I used to be a brisket purist and saute a couple of pounds of onions and brown the meat while making a big mess of my kitchen. Now, here’s what I do and the result is just as good as the messy and laborious method:
-line a 9X13 pyrex dish with tin foil. Use enough foil so that it can be tented above the dish. A 6 inch tent will do. Place the brisket on the bottom of the pan, on top of the foil.
-shmear a generous amount of ketchup all over the brisket
-add 2 cut up onions and 2 cloves of garlic (or more of each–you really can’t add too much onion or garlic) on top of the brisket
-add water to the bottom of the dish so that it covers about 1/2 way up the depth of the brisket. You can add some left over coffee for extra flavor. I have heard of some people adding coca cola to their brisket.
-tent the foil above–you are essentially steam baking the brisket
-bake in 350 oven for 2-3 hours. Check every hour to be sure there is enough liquid. The liquid will be your gravy so you need enough.
-When done, remove from the oven and cool. Cut in thin slices against the grain and put into a clean baking dish (one that you can serve from would be nice) along with all of the juices. Refridgerate or freeze. The day you are going to serve it, bake for another couple of hours at 350. Be sure to taste the sauce to see if you need salt, pepper or other spices that you like.

Yum.

Jane Moritz

Challah Connection

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Charoset 2012 Recipe Scramble

Passover Begins April 6–Get Your Culinary Juices Flowing

When it comes to making the Passover Seder Plate, most of us take a task oriented approach: Roasted Egg? Check, Horseradish? Check. Shank bone? Check. You get what I mean: it’s one of the seder tables’ most important items but making it is all about following the list of ingredients rather then how each looks or taste. Actually, the seder plate does have an opportunity for culinary creativity: CHAROSET*.

Announcing Our Newest Recipe Scramble:  Charoset 2012

Here’s how it works: Following are 5 categories of ingredients: fruits, spices, nuts and seeds, liquids and “glue.” To enter our recipe scramble, select a minimum of 4 ingredients from any of the categories, to create a charoset that you would enjoy. Don’t see an ingredient you want? Add it!

 There are only 2 requirements to follow: 1) that it have a mortar-like consistency and 2) that it be tasty enough to be enjoyed. Sweet or savory are ok.

Fruits

(fresh or dried)

Spices Nuts & Seeds Liquids “Glue”
Dates Cinnamon Almonds Red Wine Almond butter
Apricots Curry Power Walnuts Grape Juice Cashew Butter
Raisins Ginger Sesame Seeds Soy Milk Mashed egg yolk
Apples Tumeric Roasted Edamame Almond Milk Matzo Meal
Pears Cardomom Pomegranate Juice Avocado
Prunes Cumin Lemon Juice
Figs Coriander Lime Juice
Bananas Fresh Orange Juice with Pulp
Fresh Ginger
Cranberry
Mango

RULES: By March 27, post your charoset recipe in the comments section of our blog or email it to Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner along any other interesting facts related to your recipe. If emailing, include subject line: “Charoset 2012.” Recipes will be judged based on creativity, originality and ease of use. Winners will be announced on March 29. If you are a winner, we will email to notify you and at that time get your name and shipping address so we can send your prize.

PRIZES: First prize wins our fabulous Passover Fruit Basket (value $89.99) Second and Third prize wins a family gift box of 8 parve dark chocolate kosher for Passover bars from Matzel Toff! (Value $31) Prizes will be shipped to you or a recipient that you choose (US shipping only)!

CHAROSET 2012 sponsored by CHALLAH CONNECTION and our friends at MATZEL TOFF!

*What is Charoset? It’s typically a combination of chopped apples, walnuts and red wine that signifies the mortar to make bricks used by enslaved Jews in Egypt. It is one of the symbolic foods that we eat at Passover to remind us that we were once slaves but are now free.

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Purim, Hamentashen and College Kids

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Purim.

That goes for everyone of course, but most certainly college kids. Purim is about celebrating and partying and who does that better then college kids? (not that I am altogether thrilled with their abilities in this area)

As a mom of 3, 2 of whom are in college, I can attest to their love of having fun and here’s my point: hamentashen, challah, babka and black and white cookies are part of the fun!

Let’s just take my older son Sam (#2 Harry is an art student and seems to have far more limited time for partying-ok by me). Sam is a senior at a small liberal arts college where there are not too many Jewish kids. He was also the President of his fraternity. These 2 distinctions are what has taught me what I know–that everyone–Catholic, Buddist, Protestant, Atheist–loves our favorite “Jewish” baked goods. Over the last 4 years, I have sent enough challah and babka to fill all of the frat houses on campus and I am pleased to say that over the years I have received so many thank you emails and seen many posts on Sam’s facebook page like–”need challah”, or “where’s the hamentashen bro” “get your ma to send some brisket.” Of course I am kvelling. Fedex and I have singlehandedly introduced these yummies to people who had never had them and now they are clamoring for more.

As the good mom that I try to be, with admittedly easier access to the goods then most of you, yesterday I packed up good sized Purim gifts for both my boys. They’ll be getting all the favorites–challah, babka, hamentashen and Purim blowers. And of course there is plenty to share with their friends. Can’t wait to see the posts and tweets!

So if you want to wow your child and his or her friends, come to challahconnection.com and shop away. Purim is on March 8, but there is still time to order for on time delivery. You can put together your own Purim Gift or choose one of these shown here (my personal favorites). Happy Purim!!

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Purim is Next Week!

Now that President’s Week school break and the Oscars is over, it’s time to face reality: Purim is next week, Wednesday to be exact. We know so many of you love sending Purim gifts and shalach manot to friends and family, but it’s time to wake up and smell the sweet smell of fresh baked hamentashen: Purim is a little more then a week away. What does this mean?

It’s time to go to challahconnection.com and shop for the finest Purim gifts available anywhere. Our hamentashen (the triangle shaped cookie that we eat on Purim) is fresh-baked-delicious and comes in five flavors: raspberry, apricot, poppyseed, prune and chocolate. While our Purim gifts are outstanding, so is our customer service. As so many of you know, we go way out of our way to make sure that your gifts arrive in perfect condition and on time (It’s a sad state of the world that our customers are happily shocked when we call or email to tell them that we changed their shipping method to save them money or that the shipping method they chose is not going to deliver the package on their specified date. We are constantly amazed that so many companies DON’T do this–shame on them!!).

Salespitch over–Please get your Purim shopping done–while we still have stock of everything on our website!!

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Valentine’s Day: What Makes This Day Different From Any Other?

With 23 happy years of marriage under my belt and 21.5 of them as a mother of 3 beautiful sons, one of my goals is to shine my love on them everyday, as many times a day as possible. Naturally, given my humanness, I am not always successful and my own needs sometimes get in the way. But I do try. So, when Valentine’s Day comes around I usually invoke the old Passover idea: What makes this day different then any other? Honestly, not that much. But now that 2 of my sons are away at school, Valentine’s Day for me is largely an occasion to send them some love and we all know that the mailable version of love is FOOD. So, if you are like me and you need to send some love to those who are away, the 2 gifts shown here; the SweetHeart Valentine Tin (above) and the outrageously yummy Brownie Gift Box (left) are 2  of my favorite delicious choices. While we do have a Valentine’s Gift department that has more Valentine-specific items, just go to challahconnection.com–our entire site is filled with “Mailable Love.”

Love and kisses,

jane

P.S. To see all of our delicious food gifts, click here!

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