Sunday, February 8, 2015

Funfetti Cheesecake Hamantaschen

The problem with having a blog for years and years when you are heavily into tradition and family is that after a few years, you've pretty much blogged all you have to say ;)
I mean, how many photos of my hamantaschen do you REALLY want to see? (For a glorious look back, you can click here...)
Well this year, Nina Safar shared a new twist on an old favorite that I found completely intriguing. Funfetti Cheesecake Hamantaschen! I fretted a bit about the fact that I dislike baking dairy because a) you are very limited when the end product can be eaten and b) most of my baking utensils are parve. I decided though, to make the effort and to serve these on Purim night when we break our fast. Such fun Purim-looking delights, don't you think?


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Under One Looks Forward To Night One....



A Freilichen Chanukah to all!

Feel free to submit your own photos for consideration. 
guesswhoscoming2dinner@gmail.com

Monday, December 15, 2014

Art Set Free

Not only is New York "The City That Never Sleeps", but it's nice to know that there are a lot of fun and wholesome activities that are FREE in the city.

I often think that not enough people take advantage of such fun activities as Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare on the Run (love this one!), Philharmonic in the Park, etc.

Though they've been around for quite some time, it's only in the past couple of years that I've become aware of artsbrookfield.com. Their tagline is "art set free" and from what I can see, they're really trying. In their words, "Arts Brookfield, a global initiative of Brookfield, engages diverse communities by invigorating our public spaces through free, world-class cultural experiences". 

Just a few weeks ago, I went to their exhibit called "Canstruction", where various artists and businesses teamed up to raise awareness about domestic hunger by creating sculptures entirely out of cans and after the exhibition, donating these cans to the poor.

Tonight, Avram and I enjoyed a wonderful ice sculpting demonstration right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Titled "Grace-ful Ice Microcosmos", Okamoto Studio transformed multiple blocks of ice into insects, small creatures and butterflies and they will only be on display for one more day! Have a look at some of my photos and check it out yourself. Scroll down and watch the progression...




















Monday, December 8, 2014

Cookbook Review - Secret Restaurant Recipes


I'm about to tell you something that reviewers don't like me to say...
When I hear about a new cookbook on the market, I often say to myself, "Not ANOTHER one...!" 

I'm starting to think that אֵין חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ  - there's nothing new under the sun. With the proliferation of recipes on social media and the internet WHO NEEDS COOKBOOKS? 
OK, so they make really nice gifts (pssst.... Chanukah is right around the corner). But they are becoming so repetitious, don't you think?
Well, I've got to say that for once,  I was intrigued when the nice folks at Artscroll offered me a reviewer's copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes. I really liked the concept. It offered something different. And who doesn't want to be in on a secret, right? 
When I received the cookbook, I was immediately impressed by how many well-known restaurants participated in the making of this book. Restaurants we've all eaten in, more than 70 in all, had opened up their card files and shared a little slice of their delicious heaven with the editors of this book. Fun, right?



I immediately picked out the recipe(s) that I wanted to make first - Cauliflower Bisque from my favorite Amsterdam Burger Company in New York, and Eggplant Chicken in Garlic Sauce from Segal's Oasis Grill in Phoenix, Arizona. Both recipes were easy to follow and were WINNERS. (Warning: The eggplant chicken was hottttt! But yummy :) )


I particularly liked that the book was peppered with little tips and hints from the chefs of these renowned establishments. I felt like I was in the back kitchen with Chef Jeff Nathan and he was giving me private lessons.

Did I like this cookbook? YES! Would I purchase it as a gift? YES!

(Have I been a cranky reviewer who has refused to review substandard cookbooks in the past? Ummmm... yes...)






Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reason #17 Why I Love Boating In Central Park

I've blogged before about how much I enjoy boating in Central Park.
Today was no exception. The sun was shining, a soft breeze was blowing across the water and.... you never know what your are going to see!
While waiting on (a what always looks longer than it is...) line to get a boat, I notice a young couple, clearly on a date. He - in a nice pressed white shirt and dark pants. She - looking slightly unsure (maybe because they were at the back of the line). I was disappointed in the fact that instead of engaging her, he spent a bit too much time and attention on his cell phone. I should have been dan l'kaf zechus.
Later in our boat ride, after I had completely forgotten the couple, I hear shouts of "mazel tov" coming from the bridge above us. We row towards the commotion and come upon the following unfolding scene...
A bouquet of flowers is tossed off the bridge into a waiting boat holding one young man, who gently tosses it to the boy I had seen earlier, now in a boat with his date. A banner is gently unfurled off the bridge as the young man proposes to the girl. They pose for this quick photo and are on their way.

Chosson and Kallah in the boat on the right

So Mazel Tov to Toni and Chosson! May you be zoche to build a bayis neeman b'yisrael. And thanks for adding extra fun to our boat ride today!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Shavuos Creativity Abounds

Between my talented daughter and daugher-in-law {and grandchildren}, each of whom made beautiful Har Sinai cakes, and my husband, who not only decorated shul as seen in the previous post, but also festooned our dining room with cedar roping and flowers, Matan Torah is EVERYWHERE!
Wishing you all a beautiful Yom Tov.
PS I am amazed at everyone's unique rendition of the same theme. Email me your Har Sinai Cakes and I'll post them. Just let me know if/how you'd like to be credited. guesswhoscoming2dinner@gmail.com







KAJ Shavuos Decorations Get A Face Lift

Thanks to the generosity of the children of Anni and David Baranker, in their parents' memory, Shavuos decorations at K'hal Adath Jeshurun / Breuers are even lovelier than ever!
Newly constructed, curved arches and a larger curved crown above the bimah studded with tiny lights, truly add to the beauty of this special Yom Tov.
Stop in and see for yourself! In this case, photos really don't do them justice.






(note to other bloggers etc... while I really don't mind sharing my photos and nearly ALWAYS say yes, it's kind of nice to be asked....)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thank Goodness For Those Pre-Pesach SALES...!

What would be do without all those Pre-Pesach DEEP discounts off the list prices, like the one shown on this Eichler's Web Page?
I mean who could resist a bargain like that? A raincoat which lists at 29.99 for ONLY 34.99.
I think I'll take TWO!

Hat Tip: CG

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Taste of Pesach

Now that Purim has passed, we are officially allowed to utter the "P" word. 
In that vein, I'd like to share with you my thoughts and opinions about a new cookbook sent to me by the kind folks over at Artscroll publications, for my unbiased review. 





Let me start off by saying that in general, a cookbook is a very lovely hostess gift, especially for Pesach. I still treasure the cookbook that my son-in-law so thoughtfully chose for me a couple of years ago, and I look forward to pulling it down again this year - both for the sweet consideration behind the gesture as well as the usefulness of the volume.

Now on to the cookbook in question. At first glance, this is a SLEEK volume. The matte black finish of the cover makes the glossy photos of the food pop right off the page. The cute little handwritten notes scattered throughout the pages give the recipes a homey feel.



What I liked about the book:

  • Though it's a Pesach cookbook, the recipes don't "scream" Pesach, nor do they seem to be doctored year-round recipes. They are merely good recipes that do not contain chometz ingredients.
  • Most recipes contain a relatively short list of often-used ingredients. You won't find any ingredients within these pages that you have have to hunt down - an extra bonus considering this is for Pesach.
  • Although there are some "fancier" recipes, most of them do not require inordinate amounts of prep time.
  • Every single recipe comes with a large, full-color photo of the finished dish.
Who this cookbook is best for:
  • People who like basic, easy to prepare foods, without a lot of fussing around or fancy ingredients.
  • People who have not yet built a "staple" repertoire for Pesach, either because they haven't been married long, or because they haven't made Pesach many times.
  • People who appreciate good food photography and attractive cookbooks.
  • People to whom you would like to give a gift that is current and relevant.
Things I didn't like about the book:
  • I don't think they really needed to include TWO different chocolate mousse recipes. Most of us have one already, and it works just fine for Pesach as well.
  • There is only a very small "Gebrokts" section at the back. I understand that this was done to give the cookbook universal appeal, but I do wish there were a few more recipes there.
  • Being that this will be my 30th(!!) year making Pesach, there are many (but by far not all) recipes contained within this book that I already have in my arsenal. But I suppose that might be said for most cookbooks.
Recipes that I look forward to trying:
  • Glazed Pastrami (all year long...!)
  • Roasted Mushroom Soup (ditto here)
  • Sweet Potato Crisps Salad (recipe available here)
  • Chicken Marsala
  • Potato Meat Kugel 
  • Spinach Kugelettes
  • Un-Potato Salad (made with butternut squash...I probably wouldn't use this year-round but it might be a nice change on Pesach)

Overall, I think the tag line on the book cover sums it up fairly accurately - 
Trusted Favorites. Simple Preparation. Magnificent Results.

Now all you sons-in-law go out - No! Don't send your wives to do it ... It's not the same thing! - and pick up a copy for your mother-in-law this Yom Tov. Even better - inscribe something on the inner cover... ;)



Monday, March 17, 2014

Post Purim Etiquette

I've stopped ranting about the dangers of drinking excessively on Purim, I have long since laid that banner down. I'm tired of hearing, "You don't understand. That's the only outlet these boys have.", because that argument is shameful in itself on so  many levels.

So here-forth instead I put to you my Purim Drinking Etiquette. It should be self-explanatory, but it's not.

If you drink a lot - DON'T DRIVE.
If you vomit - CLEAN IT UP
If you break something or damage property - understand that actions have consequences. Be the mentsch we know you really are down deep inside: report the damage, and take financial responsibility for it.
Oh, and one more.....
If you are charged with overseeing a drunken bunch of Yeshiva boys who don't know how to do on much on Purim but drink and act like animals and create a chillul Hashem for all non-Jewish workers who are charged with cleaning up (because we don't allow them normal, healthy outlets [such as sports] all year long...) - REMEMBER - YOU ARE THE GROWN UP. If you cannot handle the crowd, call for backup. If backup is not available, call the police. If chas v'sholom, somebody gets hurt, "I couldn't control what was going on", will not be a valid response!

{stepping down from my splintered and vomit soaked soapbox now}

A Decade of Joey Grammens

Although I fail to understand why year after year people request the posting of Joey's annual Purim grammen to the blog, I am once again obliging.



Purim Pics

As always, the best thing about the day is sharing the merriment with family and friends.



P.S. To those of you who may not see it right away. Joey and Kayla are dressed as Avram and I.... Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ;)