As fluffy as snow!


So pink. I suppose they say it takes a real man to wear pink…

Well travelers, it’s been a long time. As it turns out, planning a wedding, traveling to your home town to plan said wedding, moving to a new apartment , cooking in your beautiful new kitchen, and working  as always is NOT conducive to food history blogging. But our venue is secured, my dress is picked 🙂  and our registry of amazing kitchen things is underway. And next week we may even finally get our new couch delivered!

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day, which has always been one of my favorite baking holidays as it is always an excuse for making chocolate/fruit desserts. Despite my fiancé’s many positive attributes, he has one big flaw…he hates rich, decadent desserts (one of my primary food groups of course), and prefers light desserts such as sponge and angel food cakes.

Angel food cake is a relative newcomer to the confectionary world, likely invented in America in the mid 19th century. One of the earliest recipes was written by a former slave, Abby Fisher, who included a recipe for “silver cake” in her book, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc.  Fannie Farmer was the first to print the name “angel food cake” in her version of the Boston-Cooking School Cook Book in 1896. Some historians say the name came about because the light, heavenly texture. This is of course in contrast to angel food’s counterpart, devil’s food cake.

One of the main reasons why angel food cake took so long to develop was the necessity of whipped egged whites in the batter. Prior to the invention of hand and stand mixers, cooks would have needed to whisk the egg whites by hand—an incredibly labor-intensive task.  It is very likely that the first angel food cakes were made by slaves for this very reason. With the improvement of kitchen tools and equipment during and after the Industrial Revolution, housewives and servants could make more luxurious cakes.


Tube pans allow heat from the oven to spread evenly, creating a light and air-like texture.

Angel food cakes are traditionally bakes in tube pans, with have a whole in the center to allow for even heat circulation. Historically, many of specialty cake molds in America were produced by the Pennsylvania Dutch, and therefore some historians argue that the cake must have originated in Pennsylvania.

Angel food cakes became increasingly popular in the mid-20th century, when companies like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury began producing angel food cake mixes.  With artificial stabilizers and powdered egg whites already inside the box, the home cook needed not even bother with the hassle of whipping egg whites. Cooks aiming to impress might hollow out the cake and fill it with a fruit compote, mousse, or instant gelatin mixture.

Today, angel food cake is widely popular as a low-fat  dessert available for as little as $3 per cake at the local grocery stores. It is sometimes used as a base for fruit sauce or ice cream, or as a dipper in chocolate fondue.  While the grocery store version is perfectly fine for the above uses, it is no replacement for a light and airy homemade cake.

For further reading:


Stanton’s Birthday Strawberry Angel Food Cake


Unfortunately, I baked the cake on a particularly rainy, humid day and it decided to sink in a bit.

Stanton requested a strawberry angel food cake for his birthday last May. The bright pink color is an added bonus perfect for Valentine’s Day and Cherry Blossom Festival. I also make a key lime version for St. Patrick’s Day.


1 3/4 cups superfine sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cake flour

12 eggs (room temperature, they’ll separate better)

1/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon raspberry or vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

3-4 drops red food coloring

1 1/2 tablespoons powdered dehydrated strawberry (I buy dehydrated strawberries at Trader Joe’s and smash in a plastic bag. Raspberries work too!)


    • Sift together cake flour, salt, and 1 cup sugar.
    • Separate eggs. We only need the whites for this recipe, so save the yolks for French toast, ice cream, or omelets! Follow these directions to freeze yolks for future use.
    • Combine egg whites, water, extract, and cream of tartar in mixer. Slowly add remaining sugar. Beat at medium speed until peaks form.
    • Use a spatula to carefully fold dry ingredients into egg white mixture. Don’t over mix or eggs will deflate!
    • Carefully pour batter into an ungreased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
    • Now comes the scary part. It’s going to sound crazy, but trust me on this. Turn your cake upside down and allow the tube of pan to rest over a bottle of soda. Cool completely.

I understand the fear of tipping a cake you just pulled from the oven upside-down over a bottle. But as long as you did not grease the pan, that cake isn’t gong anywhere.

  • Once cool, gently run knife around edges of pan. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, very gently lift cake out of pan. I’ll sometimes use a thin spatula.
  • Serve with whipped cream, ice cream and/or berries!

Some enjoy whipped cream.


I prefer berries.

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Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels



Looking for an alternative to apple pie this holiday season? My fiancé and I recently went apple-picking in Charlottesville—in fact we picked about 25 pounds of granny smiths and fujis. We made the obligatory apple crisp and caramel apples, but I wanted to try something new to use more up.

While apple strudel, or “apfelstrudel” as it is called in German, has been around for several hundred years, this treat was a first for me! According to my Grandma Betty, her mother made strudel, and grandma remembers the process involved in stretching the dough paper thin across the family’s table.



Strudel became especially popular Strudel is actually related to baklava, a delicacy that spread through the Ottoman Empire. The Turks brought baklava to Austria in around 1453 C.E., inspiring Austrians to make their own variation with chopped apples and nuts. Over the next several centuries, many variations of strudel were developed, including cherry, berry, and poppyseed varieties.

Did you know “strudel” actually means “whirlpool” in German (because it is rolled over so many times)?

For further reading


2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
13 tablespoons lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling 1
5 cups chopped apples (I leave peels on so that I can pretend I’m being healthy)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
4 tablespoons rum

Filling 2
1 cup bread crumbs
1 stick melted butter

1) Make the dough: Combine ingredients. Knead the dough on a floured surface with floured hands until smooth, about 5-10 minutes. Allow to rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.


Me and the dough, so cute!

2) Prepare apple filling: Soak raisins in rum for 20 minutes. You may drain and dispose of the rum after this, or you can save it to add to a nice cup of hot tea or coffee. Combine apples, spices, sugar, and raisins in a large bowl and set aside.


Lot’s of apples!

3) Prepare bread crumbs: Combine with melted butter and set aside. Pretty easy one.


Filling 2

4) Stretch the dough: Place rested dough on a large table with a tablecloth. Start by rolling the dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin.


Practice your stretches!

Once the dough really starts the get thin, you may use the back of your hands and fingertips to stretch the dough even thinner. You need to do this until you can read a newspaper through the dough, so get comfy. And if the dough tears, that’s ok, you can pinch the dough back together later.


Time to fold the strudel.

5) Fill the strudel: Spread melted butter over dough surface. Spread bread crumb filling across the entire dough, excluding the edges. Line the apple filling along one of the narrow edges, occupying no more than 1/6 of the entire dough surface.


He’s such a good baking assistant.

6) The fun part:Time to roll up the strudel! Gently fold the edge closest to the apple filling over the apples. Pick up the two corners of the tablecloth closest to the apple filling and gently lift. The table cloth will do the rolling work for you! Just don’t let the strudel roll all the way off the other side of the table!


Seriously so much fun! But really, don’t roll it off the table!

7) Very gently pick up the strudel (it will be heavy) and lift it onto a greased pan or cookie sheet. If you’d like, melt another 1/4 stick butter and brush over the strudel prior to baking.

8) Bake the strudel at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes.

9) Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream!

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Holy Holishkes!

The outer leaves are always the darkest. So I thought it would be fun to line them up in order.

Sounds like something that Robin would say to Batman, like “Holy holishkes, Batman! It’s the Joker!”

Holishkes, or stuffed cabbage leaves (galuptzi in Polish), are often eaten on the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot or Simchat Torah (literally “Celebration of the Torah). On Sukkot, Jews build small huts reminiscent of the temporary dwellings they used during their 40 years wandering the desert. Traditional foods for the holiday include fruit, nuts, vegetables, and other seasonal dishes.

One Jewish tradition also holds that two stuffed cabbages side by side resemble a Torah scroll, making them even more special for today since tonight marks the start of Simchat Torah. Jews around the world will complete the final passages of the Torah and start all over again at the beginning. We also dance with the Torah and one another. In fact, some old-timers believe that one’s dance partner on Simchat Torah is critical, as you may meet your future spouse!  Anyway, I digress.


Not sure I see the Torah, but it sounds nice!

Cabbage, the primary ingredient in holishkes, is one of the world’s oldest vegetables, having been consumed and cultivated for thousands of years across multiple continents. The earliest cabbages were loose bunches of leaves, similar to kale or romaine lettuce, and eventually parented over 500 varieties. Among these cabbage assortments are broccoli and cauliflower. The smooth, light green cabbage we see at the grocery store today originated in Germany during the mid-12th century.

Ashkenazi Jews survived on cabbage as their primary vegetable until the arrival of potatoes in the early 18th century. Stuffing the leaves with a ground-meat mixture was an easy way to stretch a small piece of meat, which was quite expensive back then. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East brought their families’ stuffed cabbage recipes with them to America. Sometimes they altered their family recipes by adding tomato paste or sweet-and-sour sauce, products easily available in the new country.

For further reading:

Marks, Gil. Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2005.

Vegetarian Holishkes

Since stuffed cabbage recipes have been cooked by Jews and non-Jews across the globe, I looked to many places for inspiration, combining elements of various recipes. This recipe is very forgiving if you want to omit an ingredient or substitute something new. Just be sure to keep the interplay of sweet and savory.


1 head green cabbage


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup raisins

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped mint (spearmint works well)

1 teaspoon honey


3 additional tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

2 cups water

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1) Peel the cabbage: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place whole head of cabbage into pot and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool slightly.


I’d recommend tongs to remove the cabbage from the pot. And don’t throw away the water! It has lots of nutrirents from the cabbage. Use leftover cabbage leaves, onion, and any veggies on hand to make a light soup!

Very carefully begin to pull the outermost leaves from the cabbage, repeating process until you get to the heart. No worries if you tear a few of them—you can use them to line the bottom of baking pan and on top of rolls.


This takes some time, so be patient. If the inner leaves are too tough, return the cabbage to boiling water for a minute to soften.

2) Prepare the filling: Heat oil in pot over medium hot. Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes of until translucent. Add brown rice and stir until coated in oil. Add water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to simmer. Will likely take 30-45 minutes. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and add raisins, parsley, and mint. Set aside to cool.


Coating rice with oil and onion prior to cooking.


You could also use dried currants or cranberries instead of raisins.


I was very nervous about using a sweet herb like mint in this recipe, but it totally made the dish!

3) Make the sauce: Heat olive oil in yet another pot. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.


Don’t let it boil over…I might have done that…

4) Stuff the cabbage: Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling into the center of each leave. Fold the left side of leaf over stuffing, then the two adjacent sides, and the final side. Place roll seam-side down into 9×13 Pyrex baking dish. Cover stuffed cabbage rolls with extra cabbage leaves.


Kind of looks like the tofu lettuce wraps I get at P.F. Chang’s.

5) Pour sauce over rolls, and cover with extra cabbage leaves to lock flavors.

6) Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until smell permeates room and sauce thickens.

7) Enjoy straight from the oven or as a cold snack. They also freeze beautifully!


Ready to eat!

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S’more S’mores

The closest you can to get to a campfire s’more without the fire.

Thymetravelers is delighted to be back after a much needed summer break! Of course if you were in DC earlier this month, summer seemed to be in full swing.  Sure, the grocery stores had started carrying their usual fall wares: bulk bags of candy for trick-or-treaters, totes of apples for pie-making, and pumpkin-spice everything under the sun.  But it was 97 degrees outside! In September! So naturally I started to reminisce about one of my favorite summer treats, the s’more.

S’mores, the simple yet delicious childhood treat made of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, seem so obvious…what else would we ever eat around the campfire, or at a post-game tailgate (preferably if the Brewers or Packers were playing)?

The first official recipe for s’mores was published in 1927 by The Girl Scouts of America in their handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.  I’d like to point out that I was a proud girl scout in not one, but TWO troops during my youth. Like many dishes cooked around a fire, however, the s’more recipe was likely shared by word of mouth years before it was recorded for posterity. Indeed to look at the s’more’s history, we have to look at its ingredients and similar snacks of the time period.

While have already explored the history of chocolate and marshmallows, we have not yet discussed graham crackers. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented graham flour in 1829. An avid vegetarian and health food advocate, he promoted coarsely ground whole wheat flour for its high fiber content. This flour, the main ingredient in the crackers, came to be named after Graham. One of Graham’s followers, Russell Thatcher Trall, became the first to manufacture the graham cracker in the 1850s.

Today’s sugary and processed graham crackers bear little resemblance to their predecessors, and their applications certainly are not healthy. Even before those girl scouts developed s’mores, graham crackers were already becoming a sweet treat instead of a nutritious biscuit. The Mallomar cookie was developed in 1913, and the moon pie soon followed in 1917. Both were strikingly similar to the s’more, which would be printed a decade later. In fact, it is completely conceivable that  s’mores were around already as well—it’s just that there weren’t any food historians recording these important matters!

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Crackers.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 173. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.


The guys

My roommate and boyfriend proved to be very good rugelach makers! So we will all be opening up a bakery tomorrow…

Cooking Thyme

S’more Rugelach


2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 ¼ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs  (I just use double ziplock bags and my fists)

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash

Ground cinnamon for sprinkling


1) Make the dough: Cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, and salt in small increments, beating slowly. Place dough on floured surface and roll into a ball. Break into 4 smaller balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.

2) Melt the fluff: Place fluff in a microwave-safe container and heat for 15 seconds. You may need to repeat this step throughout the process if marshmallow gets too thick.

Nope, I didn’t enjoy this step at all…

3) Roll the dough: Remove a ball from the fridge and place on well-floured surface. Roll into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter.

I’ve gotten so good at this! I miss hand though. She did conveniently visit the day after I made these, and enjoyed very much!

4) Pile on the layers: Spread a layer of marshmallow fluff across the dough . Top with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. If you’d like, sprinkle with cinnamon as well.

It’s kind of like painting, but far more sticky than acrylic.

5) Cut into 12 wedges using a pizza-cutter or sharp knife. Roll up the rugelach, starting with the wider side.

Rolling the rugelach!

6) Brush the rugelach with egg whites and sprinkle cinnamon if desired.

7) Bake 15-20 minutes until rugelach is golden.

8) You should probably wait for them to cool, but who are we kidding? Just don’t burn yourself.

All ready to bring to your next picnic!

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As American as cherry pie?

photo 1

An actual cherry tree! George isn’t getting this one!

As Americans of all ages prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, no doubt our minds go to the Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, my personal favorite Thomas Jefferson, and our first president, George Washington. Thanks to a fable involving George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, I associate cherries with the Fourth of July. After all, what is more American than cherry pie?

While cherry pie may well be American in origin (although even this is open for debate), cherries certainly are not. Both sweet and sour cherries are indigenous to the Mediterranean, in particular in southeastern Europe and Asia Minor.  The  species name for the sweet cherry, avium, refers to the birds who helped deposit cherry pits (let’s not think about how) to various regions.  Ancient Greeks were likely the first to domesticate sweet cherries.

Early European settlers brought cherries to America in the 1600s. Over time the fruit was distributed throughout the thirteen colonies. Thomas Jefferson grew cherries, I’ll have you know. As pioneers pushed further west, cherries followed, eventually traveling all the way to Washington state! In 1875, the Lewelling family of Oregon invented the Bing cherry. Unlike previous varieties, Bing cherries could safely travel without bruising.  Like other sweet cherries however, Bings are fussy. They can only grow in warm, dry places and rain and humidity will make them crack open.

photo 3 (2)

Look at these beauties!

America’s sour cherry industry began in the mid- nineteenth century, taking root in Michigan. Sour cherries are very perishable, making them impossible to transport and sell in stores. Thanks to advances in technology during the early 20th century, sour cherries could be sold frozen or canned.

So what makes cherries American? Perhaps it’s the George Washington fable. Perhaps it is the fact that they are bright red like the stripes of our flag. Regardless of the reason, cherries have certainly found their place at the American table.

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Cherries.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 206-7. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Cooking Thyme!

photo 4 (2)

A perfect contrast between tart and sweet

Cherry Crisp

I’m lucky to have lived in two regions where sour cherries grow well: Door County, WI and right outside of D.C. in Maryland.  If you do not feel like going to pick yopur own cherries, check your local farmer’s market. If fresh sour cherries are not available, look for frozen or canned varieties.


This recipe makes just the right amount for 4-6 people. If you plan to have more guests at your 1776 viewing party, simply double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish.

photo 3

I’m just getting started with cherry picking!


2 cups fresh sour cherries

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup oats

½ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon



1)      Pit the cherries. No cherry pitter? That’s ok…I certainly don’t have space for one in my kitchen. Instead, we used paper clips. Simply pierce the paperclip into the stem-end of the cherry and scoop out the pit.

photo 2 (2)

Stanton is using paper clips to remove pits

2)      Combine cherries, sugar, and flour and set aside.

photo 1 (3)

Cherry mixture awaiting topping

3)      In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter by using two knives to “cut” butter into the dry ingredients. Butter chunks should eventually be pea-sized.

photo 2 (3)

Cutting the butter

4)      Lightly coat a 8×5 inch pyrex with butter or cooking spray.  Pour cherry mixture into pan. Top with oat blend.

photo 3 (3)

Topping with oat mixture

5)      Bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

6)      Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Might I suggest Thomas Jefferson’s?

photo 5 (2)


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When life gives you lemons…


I love lemons. They are so bright and cheerful!

Summer is finally here, and no fruit brings this to mind more than lemons. Whether as lemonade, in lemon sorbet, drizzled over grilled fish, or simply as a garnish for water or iced tea, lemon always seems to outshine. And it’s no wonder, given this citrus’s history. No one knows exactly when lemons originated, but most historians agree that they likely originated in India. Thanks to the Torah’s outlining of the four species to be waved on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, we know that one of the lemon’s parents, the citron (ie estrog) was around well before the common era.

For much of the lemon’s early history, it was not used as a food, but rather as an ornamental plant for decorating homes and gardens, or  for medicinal properties. Historians believe that lemons made their way to Ancient Rome by the first century AD. Over the next few centuries, the citrus circulated across the Middle East and Mediterranean. Egyptians drank a beverage called kashkab , which was made of fermented barley, mint, rue, black pepper, and lemon leaf.  A combination of Arab conquerors, European crusaders, and Jewish merchants are believed to have helped lemons spread all the way from the Middle East to Europe.

European cultivation began in Genoa, Italy in the 15th century.  So it is no coincidence that Italian explorer Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds on his voyage to the Americas, starting in Hispanola in 1493. Over the next few centuries, lemons were cultivated in California and Florida. Growers faced challenges in the late 19th century, especially during the harsh winter of 1894-5 when a freeze destroyed many of the lemons. Planting and mass production did not resume again for several decades. In fact, it wasn’t until 1953 that the industry recovered, when American consumers demanded frozen lemon (and orange) concentrates and lemon oil.

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Lemons.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 206-7. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Cooking Thyme!

Summer Lemon Ice

Ice with gingersnap

Delicious and refreshing

Since Italy had such an important role in the lemon’s history, I thought it was only fair to prepare an old Italian favorite—lemon ice. I adapted this dessert from Julia Child’s recipe for lemon sorbet, adding a bit more lemon than she did because I like sour. If you don’t, no worries—feel free to use less lemon juice or zest!


6 large lemons (you will need ½ cup lemon zest and 1 cup lemon juice)

2 ½ cups sugar

4 cups water

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

Ginger snaps or wafers if you’d like


1)      Prep lemons: grate ½ cup lemon zest and juice 1 cup lemon juice.


Zesting the lemons with the wonderful zester I got from my Aunt Susan!

2)      Combine lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups cold water.

zest and sugar

Lemon zest combined with sugar

3)      Place saucepan on heat and simmer. Add sugar and cook until dissolved.

4)      Remove from heat and add lemon juice and remaining water.


If you don’t have a juicer, you can also use a strainer or colander

5)      Chill mixture until at least at room temperature in the fridge or in an ice bath of ice cubes.

egg whites

Minerva is busy as always, whipping those egg whites!

6)      Whip egg whites and salt in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into lemon mixture.

folding egg whites

Folding egg whites into lemon syrup mixture

7)      Now is the moment of choices. You may freeze the mixture in your ice cream machine or freeze in small containers and mix by hand every few hours until frozen solid.

Lemon ice freezing

You can see that it is beginning to freeze toward the center

8)      Serve with ginger cookies for best results.


My friends gave the lemon ice rave reviews

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One Tough Cookie (to track)

photo 3 (2)

Why yes, they do taste as good as they look!

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month! I realize that May is almost over, but I’ve been busy baking all sorts of treats, including multiple birthday cakes. In fact, today’s cookie is sort of cake-like when baked properly.

Last year, we celebrated two of the most popular Jewish culinary contributions to America: challah and rugelach. Today’s recipe is believed to have Jewish roots as well, although its origins are pretty fuzzy. Unlike rugelach and challah, black and white cookies (also known as half-moons) likely were NOT brought from Europe with Jewish immigrants. In fact, the story may be the other way around!

photo 2

Minerva is sooo happy Passover is over!

Many food historians trace black and white cookies back to New York, where Jewish delicatessens offered a wide range of baked goods using familiar and new ingredients from their nations of origin and the United States respectively. The cookies were probably developed sometime in the early 20th century, the peak of Jewish immigration to the United States (and in particular New York’s Lower East Side).

Some credit Hemstrought’s Bakery of Utica, New York, as the innovator of black and white cookies, but this has not been verified. In fact, it is entirely plausible that a non-Jewish bakery created the confections, and kosher-style delis simply followed suit.

To further complicate matters, Germany has a similar cookie called an Amerikaner, which very well may have been introduced by American soldiers during and after World War II, bringing the cookie full circle.

The black and white cookie’s ambiguity is just another example of why I love history. We are always in pursuit of more evidence.

For further reading:!cookie-black-white/ccls


photo 1 (2)

This recipe makes dozens of cookies (no worries, they freeze well).

Cooking Thyme!


Black and white cookies



4 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup milk


2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
5 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract



1)      In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

photo 1

Cake flour makes these cookies soft and fluffy.

2)      Use your Minerva or handmixer to cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

3)      Add eggs, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla and lightly mix.

4)      Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to butter mixture.

photo 3

Stanton is taking this whole dough scooping process very seriously.

5)      Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop ¼ cup of batter and gently plop on tray. Flatten slightly (these are NOT drop cookies). Repeat, leaving two inches or so between each cookie.

6)      Bake at 375 degrees for 12-18 minutes, until cookies are just slightly brown. Allow to cool completely before removing.

7)      Make the icing: Melt chocolate in microwave on 20-second intervals (otherwise it will burn) and set aside. Add water and corn syrup to a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from stove and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour ¾ cup of the mixture into the chocolate bowl. Stir until combined. You now have 2 icings!

8)      Ice the cookies: Flip cookies upside down. Using a spoon or knife, frost half of the each cookie with vanilla icing, then chocolate.

photo 4

Stanton and Jake helped ice all of the cookies at 11 pm. Thanks guys!

9)      Enjoy!

***Tip:  Use layers of wax paper to prevent cookies from sticking together during storage.

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Redeeming the Bread of Affliction


Matzah encrusted flounder. Part of this balanced meal.

Home stretch guys! Passover is almost over, which means lots of bread, pasta, and soy products! Don’t get me wrong-I’ve had a wonderful time at my family seders and cooking all sorts of chametz (bread) free delicacies with my boyfriend, such as tortilla Española, pan-seared salmon, roasted rosemary potatoes, matzah-encrusted flounder, and grilled vegetables. But the primary Passover staple, matzah, has never been my favorite. This year, however, I find myself looking at the bland cracker in a new light.

According to the Passover story, the Israelites carried raw dough on their backs when they hastily fled slavery in Egypt. As a result, the dough baked on their backs from the sun’s heat. This is why Jews around the globe eat matzah during Passover, to remember the exodus. The tradition began thousands of years ago. During the time of the Great Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish community gathered to tell the Passover story and eat matzah together. As Jews dispersed into separate communities worldwide, they carried on the tradition of baking and eating matzah for Passover. Matzah-baking was a tedious process requiring special wheat supervised by rabbis to ensure their integrity. Rabbis also oversaw the dough prepping, rolling, and baking process, all of which had to be completed in 18 minutes or less to avoid leavening.  For thousands of years, matzah remained mostly unchanged.

In 1838, a Frenchman named Isaac Singer invented a matzo-dough-rolling machine that sped up the process and enabled mass production. Singer’s machine started an extensive debate within the Jewish community. Was matzah produced by machinery instead of human hands still kosher for Passover? Rolling dough had become an employment for poor Jews within the community. This machinery made their work obsolete. But a more efficient method for producing matzah would make the product cheaper for everyone, including poor consumers. In the end, the Jewish community welcomed this new technology, provided that rabbinical supervision continue through production.


Handmade matzah

In 1888, a Lithuanian immigrant named Dov Behr opened the first matzo-making factory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Behr changed his name to Manischewitz (probably sounds familiar) and developed an entirely automated method of matzo production. In advertisements, Manischewitz boasted that “no human hand touches these matzos!” By the 1920s, Manischewitz was the world’s largest matzah producer, making 1.2 million sheets a day. Of course, the appearance of matzah significantly changed with this new technology-uniform rectangular sheets became the norm. Streit’s opened its factory in New York in 1925, and continues production at its same location today. Even Israeli matzot are available at everyday American grocery stores today.

And so, matzah has been around for a very very very long time. If those Passover seders have taught me anything, it is to respect my elders. I suppose matzah qualifies. In that spirit, I enjoy my matzah in three forms: as a matzah s’more, a matzah pizza, or matzah lasagna.

For further reading:

Nathan, Joan. Jewish Cooking in American. New York: Knopf, 1998.,8599,1890268,00.html

Before oven

I prefer my matzah with extra sauce.

Matzah Lasagna


6 sheets matzah (I recommend whole wheat)

1 jar tomato sauce

1 container (16 oz) low fat cottage cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella

4 eggs

3 cloves minced garlic

Dash black pepper

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

4 large mushrooms, sliced


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a large mixing bowl, combine cheeses, eggs, garlic, and pepper.
3) One at a time, soak matzah sheets in a dish of hot water for 30 seconds.

Soaking matzah

Soaking the matzah!

4) Let the layering begin! Coat bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish with tomato sauce. Add two sheets of matzah. Add another layer of sauce. Add a layer of cheese mixture. Finally, if you’d like, add a layer of veggies. Then continue process again until you run out of ingredients or space, starting with another layer of matzah.


Veggies and whole wheat matzah totally make this healthy. Which means more matzah s’mores later!

5) Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Cooked lasagna

Our first few slices were a bit watery because we ate straight from the oven…still delicious (at least for Passover)!

***This lasagna is best made the day before and left to cool in the fridge overnight and reheated later. It will be very runny immediately after coming out of the oven, which improves with chill time.

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Green Hamantaschen


So many hamantaschen. Definitely more than last year. From back left: chocolate apricot, chocolate raspberry, apricot (my boyfriend’s family recipe), raspberry (also his), apricot (my family’s recipe), chocolate chips, spinach feta, and mushroom sage.

It snowed again in DC, can you believe it? This most recent storm is prompting social media users to call today Snow Patrick’s Day! Hopefully anyone planning to go out for tonight’s shamrock festivities will still be able to do so safely—of course, were we in the Midwest, this wouldn’t be an issue. Where there’s a will, there’s a way—for green beer.

Fortunately, my friends and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday, so we are all set. It wasn’t the only festivity we celebrated, and in fact was kind of the afterthought holiday. Saturday night was the Jewish holiday of Purim.

As a one-sentence refresher on this story celebrating religious freedom: Persian King Ahasuerus replaces his queen, Vashti, with Esther, who is secretly Jewish, the king’s evil Jafar-like advisor Haman decides to kill all of the Jews, Esther’s wise uncle Mordecai encourages her to appeal to the king for help, Esther saves the day. Visit last year’s Purim post for more details!

Both involve spending time with family and friends, drinking a lot, and eating tasty treats. Meshing green foods for St. Patrick’s Day with hamantaschen cookies for Purim presented a new challenge.

Last year, as you may recall, we made over 100 apricot, raspberry, and chocolate hamantaschen. This year, we decided to take things up a notch by baking savory hamantschen. Seems innovative, yes? Think again.

Doughy pockets filled with vegetables, meat, cheeses, and spices are nothing revolutionary. People worldwide have made them in various forms since ancient times. Chinese wantons, Korean dumplings, Turkish borekitas, Ethiopian sambusas, Spanish/Latin American empanadas, Polish pierogi, Italian ravioli, Greek spanakopita, and Middle Eastern borekas are just a few!

Savory hamantaschen have become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially in Israel. The Jewish state is home to Jews from across the globe, and their culinary traditions manifest themselves in Israel’s bakeries and street vendors, and restaurants. And even The New York Times is paying attention!

I used a Mediterranean spinach feta pie as an inspiration for making my green hamantaschen. I even took a look at historic recipe like this one from The Milwaukee Sentinel! Spinach pie, sometimes known as spanakopita in Greece, is much newer than you’d think. I’m sorry to destroy any preconceived notions, but ancient Greeks did not eat them. While they had plenty of vegetable dishes wrapped in pastry dough, spinach had not yet been introduced to the Mediterranean.

Spinach, a fussy vegetable requiring a cool climate, originated in Persia—where the Purim story took place! So maybe Esther, Mordecai, and even Haman ate spinach! In the 8th century, Arabs spreading out across the Mediterranean developed advanced irrigation systems that helped the temperamental leafy green withstand climate challenges. And so spinach finally became part of Greek cuisine!

For further reading:

Marks, Gil. Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2005.

Cooking Thyme!


We ran out of spinach hamantaschen first!

Spinach Feta Hamantaschen


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Dash of lemon juice

10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Dash of black pepper and nutmeg


1)      Mix top ingredients together to make dough. Allow to chill for at least an hour in the fridge.


Dough ingredients ready for mixing!

2)      Combine second group of ingredients to make filling. Feel free to experiment with additional spices if you wish.


Mixing spinach filling…sometimes your hands are still the best kitchen tools…

3)      Roll out the dough as thinly as you can on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Use a wide-rimmed glass to cut the dough into circles.


We made seven batches of hamantaschen that day. Rolling took forever!

4)      Fill the circles with a teaspoon or so of filling. Seal the pastry by folding the sides and pinching the corners to make a triangle. If dough does not stick, wet your fingertips with a little warm water to help seal.


Fortunately I had lots of friends to help! Here are Maggie and Jake!


Danielle and Ryan turned out to be hamantaschen experts. Who knew?

5)      Bake hamantaschen in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until the dough is cooked throughout and bottoms are golden.

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On Cloud Nine


Light as a cloud

Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy Snow Day to you lucky people out there! I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day, whether or not I was in a relationship. My mom always made delicious holiday treats, such as cupcakes, pink peppermint brownies, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Plus I bought Disney princess lollipop valentines for my friends and classmates…in fact, I still sometimes do this as an adult!

As I mentioned on last year’s V-Day post, I hate most pink and fluffy things. I’m delighted to share another exception to this rule, the meringue!

Meringue is a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. Sometimes extra binding agents, such as gelatin, cornstarch, and cream of tartar, are added to make the meringue less fragile. The mixture may be used as a cookie or a topping for cakes and pies (I’m still looking for that Rascal House lemon meringue pie recipe from Miami, if anyone has leads).

Some historians trace meringue back to an 18th century Swiss chef named Gasparini, who lived in the town of Meiringen (now part of Germany). Others argue that the pastry was born in England—a country rarely known for its tasty cuisine. Lady Elinor Fettiplace penned what might have been the first recipe for meringue in 1604 in Oxfordshire. The treat was called white bisket bread, and was circulated in Fettiplace’s cookbook.

One of the most famous meringue addicts was Marie Antoinette. As queen of France, Marie became notorious for throwing elaborate parties with elegant pastries and sweets. This frivolity of course ended in 1793 when she and her husband, King Louis XVI, were beheaded as part of the French Revolution.

Even so, meringue remains at the center of many French dishes, savory and sweet. While the first meringues were shaped with a spoon, it was the French who switched over to elegant designs created by piping the whipped egg white through a pastry bag.

For today’s recipe, I’ve opted to go old-school and shape the cookies without a piping bag. Hope you (and your valentines) enjoy!

For further reading:

Jackson, Linda and Jennifer Evans Gardner, Meringue. Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2012.

Cooking Thyme!


My roommates devoured these at record speed!

Raspberry Chocolate Kisses

These cookies are great for parties, or just to eat with your friends! They also make terrific gifts if wrapped in a nice container. Just be sure not to over-pack as they are quite fragile.


3 egg whites

¾ cups sugar

3 ½ tablespoons raspberry jello mix (cheap grocery store brand works too)

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 cup mini chocolate chips


1)      Whip egg whites in an electric mixer on high speed for 2 minutes or until foamy.


I know these egg whites don’t look like much yet, but they will!

2)      Add sugar and jello mix and beat until stiff peaks form


Minerva the mixer is my valentine (don’t tell my boyfriend)!

3)      Pour in chocolate chips and vinegar. Whip for an additional minute.


You could omit the chocolate chips to make these cookies fat-free…but why would you do that?

4)      Drop batter by the spoonful onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.

5)      Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, no not allow to brown.


We are ready to bake!

6)      Once cooled, pack cookies in airtight containers for your valentine(s).

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