Tag Archives: Jewish

As Sweet as Honey

honey cake, gluten-free

Gluten-free honey cake provides a sweet start to the new year.

For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, we greet each other with “Shana Tovah Umetukah” – wishes for a happy and sweet new year. To symbolize sweetness, many families serve honey cake, a traditional Rosh Hashanah dessert. Which, as usual, leaves me searching for a great-tasting gluten-free alternative.

Fortunately, this year I made a moist gluten-free, dairy-free honey cake spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for my honey-child. (Cue Martha & The Vandellas’ “Honey Chile” and Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey.”)

For inspiration, I started with Marcy Goldman’s vaunted “Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake” from “A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.” I used gluten-free flour, subbed some applesauce and increased the orange juice to keep the cake moist and sweet. Buckwheat flour — a dark, strong gluten-free flour that’s high in protein, fiber and magnesium — works well here, complementing the complex flavors in the cake. Interestingly, buckwheat is not related to wheat but is a member of the rhubarb family.

Have a sweet new year!
Click for Gluten-Free Honey Cake recipe

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Filed under desserts, Jewish holidays, Recipes

A is for Apple Cake

Jewish Apple Cake, gluten-free

Shanah Tovah! Best wishes for a happy Rosh Hashanah and a sweet new year. We’re getting this new year off to a tasty start, with a gluten-free version of traditional Jewish apple cake.

My mother is famous for her Jewish apple cake, laced with apples that she plucks from the trees in her back yard. I’ve always wondered, though, what makes the apple cake “Jewish.” Really, I didn’t know that cakes could have a religion. The answer seems to be that the cake is made with vegetable oil and orange juice, instead of butter and milk, thus making it pareve (neither dairy nor meat). Apple cake is also a favorite dessert for Rosh Hashanah, when we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year.

Mom’s recipe worked surprisingly well in its gluten-free version. I substituted gluten-free flours, added xanthan gum (a binder for GF baking) and left the rest of the recipe intact. The cake is moist and bursts with the flavors of apples and cinnamon.

Click for the recipe for Gluten-Free Jewish Apple Cake

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Kasha Varnishkes, Gluten-Free

kasha-star

Kasha varnishkes: a satisfying Eastern European dish

Kasha varnishkes is a traditional Russian-Jewish dish of roasted buckwheat groats (kasha) tossed with bowtie noodles. Apparently, my grandfather hated kasha, as he had too many memories of eating it growing up. But we love it. To me, this earthy, satisfying dish typifies Old Country cooking. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. Rather, it’s a nutritious, gluten-free whole grain from the rhubarb and sorrel family.

Until now, I had to make kasha varnishkes with gluten-free fusilli pasta, as there was no gluten-free bowtie or farfalle pasta available. I was thrilled when Le Veneziane, a superb corn pasta from Italy, recently released gluten-free farfalle.

I wish we had gluten-free farfalle pasta a few years ago, since some of my daughter’s preschool and kindergarten projects used bowtie pasta. Don’t get me started, though, on schools’ unnecessary use of food in the classroom.

Kasha varnishkes can be served as a side-dish for brisket or it can stand alone as a vegetarian entree.

Click for Gluten-Free Kasha Varnishkes recipe

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Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Gluten-Free Potato Latkes

Happy Hanukkah!

Sorry that I’ve been neglecting this blog, but things have been busy and it seems there’s always something to do. In the past few months, we sold our condo (thankfully!), moved into a new (well, a rehabbed 100-year-old) house in Chicago, transitioned to a new neighborhood after 20 years in the old ‘hood, and changed our daughters to a new school.

Things are settling down now, and we are enjoying Hanukkah in our new home. And while Hanukkah may mean candles, dreidels and gifts to the kids, it means potato latkes to me.

Many homemade and store-bought latkes contain flour or matza meal. However, since the amount of flour is small, it’s pretty easy to adapt latkes to be gluten-free. If you’re looking to buy latkes, Kineret frozen potato latkes do not contain gluten.

This year, my family concurred that my latkes were the best ever. I used three russet potatoes and one sweet potato, which added a golden orange color and hint of sweetness. After I grated the potatoes, I let them sit in a colander to drain extra liquid. And I used potato starch instead of flour. Don’t listen to people who claim you have to hand-grate the potatoes; a food processor works just fine.

Even if your arteries harden at the sight of a thick layer of oil in a frying pan, don’t be stingy with the oil. To make the latkes brown and crisp, you need a generous layer of oil covering the bottom of the pan. Keep the pan hot to prevent the latkes from absorbing too much oil, but not so hot that you set off the smoke alarm.

Enjoy the remaining days of Hanukkah!

Click for Gluten-Free Potato Latkes recipe

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Filed under Jewish holidays, Recipes