Kosher for Passover Bittersweet Brownies

It’s that time of year again when I spend an inordinate amount of time swearing at magazine articles about “easy Passover desserts” for including dairy products. Most passover recipes in magazines are great for jews who want to eat traditional food (no grains) during passover but they are way off limits for jews who “keep kosher” in terms of meat, milk, and excluding seeds and legumes (as many Ashkenazi traditions do during passover). While I’m not a jew, I act as executive pastry chef (and sous chef, and bottle washer) for my college comrade’s parent’s seder in upstate New York. The celebration averages 40 people over two sessions starting on the first night of Passover. It’s a meal that typically includes meat, which means my pastry menu must omit dairy in addition to the all-Passover ban on grains, leavening, legumes and seeds. The meal is prepared in a kosher kitchen, which ratchets up a notch of complexity over Passover when two separate sets of dishes swap in, and all yeast, grain, and legume-related items are ostracized to the basement for the duration.

I’ve tried to build a menu that avoids circa 1955 Better Homes and Gardens preparations, while maximizing my own sanity as a non-food-service-professional. It’s a work in progress.

In reviewing last year’s pastry menu (of which I have NO MEMORY: I blame wedding-planning trauma) I found this adaptation, and thought it should be on the internet. I’ll post some more of the old tried and true recipes as we get closer to the holiday.

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Culinarily Adjacent FAQ: On Picking Up Heavy Things, and Putting Them Back Down Again

About 8 months ago we got married, which means that (accounting for vacations and lazy days) we’re coming up on 6 months of weightlifting, seriously, as beginners. After the honeymoon, with so much free time left over from NOT WEDDING PLANNING, we re-examined our lifestyle and thought it could use some more cross-training. I suggested some light weight training. Salt Boy inhaled everything reddit had to say on the subject, and came back with a plan. For more background and info, read as much of that link as you can.

We work out Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, in the evening after work. We start with 30 minutes of cardio (usually elliptical) to warm up before lifting. I really like Zombies! Run!, interspersed with bubblegum pop music during my cardio, but to each his own.

Then we do whichever of the following workouts we didn’t do last time (alternate).

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What to Eat in New York When You’re Sick


Salt Boy has laryngitis. Which probably means I’ll have it soon. I’m laying in a big batch of soup and sorbet, just in case. I’ve put a lot of thought into mitigating the symptoms of cold and flu season, since I basically get everyone’s colds. Here’s the game plan.

Step 1: Embrace Delivery Culture

I’ve been known to order california and cucumber rolls just so I can ingest them with too much wasabi dissolved in the soy sauce. Plus it often comes with Miso Soup. There’s a place across the street from our apartment that will hand you a quart vat of chinese noodle soup with bok choi, roasted pork and wontons. The Thai places will often sell you Tom Kha (spelling may vary), a soup made with chicken, coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal, which is rich, tangy and creamy but contains no dairy (important when phlemmy).

Step 2: Things to Make at Home

The Ginger Chicken Soup

Go to Trader Joe’s. Buy mirepoix, garlic, lemons, boxed organic stock x2, ground ginger from the spice aisle, noodles, and a pack of chicken breast. Or have forethought and have this in the house already at time of illness.

Pro tip: Trader Joe’s will sell you a cheater quart container of already-diced mirepoix. It is made for “I’m sick and I need soup.” We pop one of these in the freezer once a month or so and it holds up remarkably well for soup purposes. You could do the same with minced garlic, fresh lemon juice and chicken breast if you take your sick-preparation really seriously.

Sautee mirepoix plus at least 4 cloves of minced/crushed garlic in a pot with olive oil. Deglaze with 2 units of stock. Add bay leaf, at least 2 lemons worth of juice, and at least 2 tablespoons of POWDERED ginger. Adjust with salt and pepper. If you like, add noodles. Also if you like, sous vide some chicken breast and add the shredded chicken breast to the bowl at time of service.

Influenza Sorbet 

(Lazily adapted from Jeni’s Splendid. She has a delightful cookbook out now.)

I should remember to make a quart of this every November, and then it’s just there when the inevitable virus strikes.

Combine 2 cups orange juice, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 tsp powdered ginger, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 4 tbps bourbon, 1/4 tsp xanthan gum in a bowl. Stick blender into submission (until everything seems combined). Chill for 2 hours. Spin in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you have no ice cream maker, make granita: pour the mixture into a wide baking dish and put it in the freezer. Set a timer for 30 minutes and scrape with a fork every time the timer goes off. Stop when it reaches a consistency that you like. Alternately, freeze in ice cube trays and then pulverize in a food processor. Pack it back in a freezer-compatible container and freeze. Administer medicinally when “needed.”

Phoning It In: Pumpkin Swirl Brownies


Last weekend I travelled to North Carolina to cook for visit my bestie’s newborn daughter. My husband and college buddy made two of the Food Lab’s amazing spinach lasagnas (the army-base carnivores went back for seconds), 30 burritos (green chili chicken and stewed beef), and a truly enormous triple-batch of Flour’s banana bread (also baked in a giant lasagna pan). All of this made its way into my friends’ chest freezer for the next month of eat/sleep/nurse sustenance, as it pleases their tiny adorable dictator. There was a lot of kitchen time in my week. A LOT. Which is why I’m not surprised that sci-fi night rolled around without any baking or even baking plans. I had meant to do the baking on one of my wide-open days with no meetings or tutoring appointments. Oh well.

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Plum Torte for the End of Summer

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It’s the end of the summer, you can spin the light to gold…if it’s not drizzling. The leaves haven’t turned yet, but it’s noticeably cooler. Suddenly there’s a (laughable) pumpkin spice version of every imaginable product. The farmer’s market is full of decorative gourds, but I’m not quite ready to embrace all the apples.

So plums then.

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Cranberry Chess Pie: The Beginning of a Study In How to Make Normal Sized Desserts

cranberry chess pie

I had stepped away from baking for a bit, and when I came back to it, my life was different. I married my partner in crime, and in a strange twist we started weightlifting together, shifting our diet away from things that aren’t animal protein or vegetables.

On the other hand, I spend one night a week with dear friends watching sci-fi (when available, or whatever ridiculous shows are available instead), drinking wine, eating cheese and ordering the best delivery we can find on Seamless. At some point I decided that civilized gatherings require pie. Sci-fi Pie. This gathering draws between four and eight humans on a average, and the idea of making an entire batch of brownies or a standard size pie was troubling. None of us are kids in our 20s. We want our pie, but we don’t want to be stuck with the 3/4 of an entire pie that would remain if we each had a slice.

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New Orleans – because “Where do I drink in NoLA” has become an FAQ

Last summer, after 9 months of working long hours with mostly no observed weekends, we took a vacation. Now, you might think that New Orleans in July is a terrible idea. On the one hand, it’s as hot and humid as it gets. On the other hand, NOLA doesn’t care about things like dress codes, and you’ve got the place mostly to yourself as far as tourism goes. We stayed in the French quarter through a package deal, and did not rent a car, instead opting for a cab to and from the airport, and public transit for the rest.

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