Category: Festival baking

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

Let me just start by saying that Evelyn Rose rocks!

As I mentioned in my post about Hamantaschen last week I have a fantastic Jewish cook book that is used by all of my family. It’s called the ‘The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook’ written by Evelyn Rose, published by Pavilion. My mum bought us all this book when we moved out from the family home. Mine was signed by Evelyn which makes it extra special. As you can see it has been made wet at some point and has smudged a little which really upsets me!Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook

Evelyn Rose was like the Jewish Delia. There was nothing that she didn’t know about Jewish cooking. There are many food laws to consider when you keep a kosher kitchen, mainly that you can’t mix meat and milk products, so a kosher cook book is essential! This book has over 1,100  recipes, 30 chapters and explains all about the different foods for different festivals.  Every Jewish festival comes with a traditional cake of some description. It’s a wonder there aren’t more overweight Jewish people around considering how many festivals there are!

The book

The chapters are broken up into the following categories

  • Starters
  • Fish and Vegetarian meals
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Desserts
  • Baking (Yay- obviously my best bit!)
  • Preserves
  • Cooking for a crowd  (also known as feeding an army!)
  • Festivals

Now, I have to admit that although I can bake, I’m pretty rubbish at cooking so this is my only book for cooking kosher meat and fish. I follow the recipes to the letter and they always come out great. They are also exactly as I remember them as cooked by my grandma as well as my mum. Real, traditional style cooking.

A friend of mine recently remarked that she hated not having pictures in a cookery book, as she didn’t know what the dishes were supposed to look like. I have to say that I have never worried about that, and that’s probably as I have always used this book (even from a young age with my mum). It doesn’t have a single photo in it. With 1100 recipes there really isn’t room! It does have these really cute illustrations though.

Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook
Just one of the lovely illustrations throughout out the book

The Jewish Festivals

When it comes to baking for festivals I love it that you just turn to the right page for all you need. So when it comes to Rosh Hashanah you know where to get a Honey Cake recipe.

For Purim there are no less than five types of Hamantaschen (sweetand savory) to choose from.

Hamantaschen diagram
I love the little diagrams, like how to fold Hamantaschen

Peseach is especially hard to bake and cook for as the food we eat for the 8 days of that festival are limiting and very specific, so this one stop book is all you need- the cinnamon balls and macaroons are a family favorite not to mention the Plava (Oh how I love a heavy Plava cake! Not long now. ) I have to admit that as I am flicking through the pages of this book-  so as not to leave anything out- it automatically falls open at cinnamon balls!)

During Shavuot we traditionally eat Cheese cake (which is probably why it’s Tim’s favorite festival) I love Evelyn’s  Yomtov cheese cake, but let’s face it. I love all cheesecakes!

I could go on and on, but I will end this post saying that I am sure one day I will be buying this book for Beau and Darcey. I can’t see it ever going out of print or fashion. It’s the official Jewish cooking bible and I truly wouldn’t be without it!


Hamantaschen recipe for Purim.

The best Hamantaschen recipe

Hamantaschen are like mini pies that Jewish people eat during the festival of Purim, which just happens to be this Wednesday. They’re one of those delicacies that my mum always makes for the community and all of the family. Each year before Purim we pick up the girls from Grandma’s after school and we collect little cling filmed wrapped paper plates full of Hamantachen. Very few actually make it through the 10 minute journey home!

When I first made Hamantaschen last year I used my mum’s pastry recipe for Kichel biscuits (I must share that recipe with you some time!) These are simple and moorish round biscuits that are perfect in my eyes. As I also use this pastry recipe for larger apple pies I thought it would be perfect for Hamantaschen. I was wrong! They were really soggy, broke the moment you touched them and just didn’t look like my mum’s!  Then she told me that she uses the Kichel Hamantaschen recipe from ‘The bible’!

The bibleThe New Complete international Jewish cook book

Unbeknownst to me ‘The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook, by Evelyn Rose published by Pavillion (see the link to Amazon on the right) is commonly known as ‘The bible’ by lots of Jewish families and not just mine! We also call it ‘The Red book’ for obvious reasons.

I was given the original version of this book (the black one) for my Bat Chayil in 1985.  (there I go giving away my age!) When the new version came out in 1992 mum bought me and my brother and sister a copy each and we’ve all been using it ever since. I’ll be doing a full review of this book later this week. It’s a great book.

So back to the Hamantaschen.

After last year’s disaster I set about making them again, only this time I used the red book’s recipe. It was a short pastry and made lovely Hamantaschen, but they weren’t the same as my mum’s which have the most delicious pastry. The kind that you don’t mind if you eat a corner of a Hamantaschen without any filling as it’s good on its own.  What I had made were crumbly and practically all of them opened up when baked- but I probably didn’t squish the pastry together well enough!

So I called my mum “What pastry do you use?” I asked. To which she replied. “I use the old book, not the new one”. They have completely different recipes.

So, off I went again. Just as I was about to start mum called me back to say that the pastry is sticky (as it uses oil not butter) and she always adds a bit more flour. I took this on board and set about with Hamantaschen Mark II. But I didn’t read the recipe properly and as I was so busy thinking about how much extra flour to put in that I accidentally added double the amount! Evelyn Rose recipes often give the either or version for flour and I missed that and added both! So what my mum said would be a sticky dough was so dry it wouldn’t bind together at all!

I was not winning!

Hamantaschen Mark III

Hamantaschen recipe

Finally success! I used the old book with the right amount of ingredients and they came out perfectly (maybe a bit puffier than I would have liked) but they tasted just like mum’s so I was finally happy and ready to share them with you…..

Hamantaschen recipe (from the old black book)

(Makes 24)

125g caster sugar

2 large eggs (put some to one side for glazing)

100ml (4 Fl oz) oil – Sunflower is best

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

150g plain flour (plus a table spoon or two more to reduce stickiness)

150g self raising flour (plus a table spoon or two more to reduce stickiness)

Filling ingredients (from the new red book)

50g raisins

225g baking apples (peeled and cored and cooked till tender)

3 tbsp walnuts (optional)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

50g brown sugar

To make the pastry

Heat the oven to 180°c, 350°F, gas mark 4. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Whisk the eggs until they are thick

Add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract and whisk again.

Stir in the flours. I added a table spoon of each flour at a time to reduce the stickiness of the dough but I think I would use more plain and less self-raising next time.

 Stir in the flour  Hamantaschen recipe

You can roll out the dough straight away but I chilled it while I got the fillings ready.

It's a sticky dough

I cheat and use tinned fruit. The apricots (in natural juice) are chopped up and sprinkled with a little sugar brown.

Tinned apricots

The apple is cubed and mixed in with the raisins, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. I soften the raisins in the microwave by adding some water to them in a bowl and giving them a minute on full heat.

Apple filling for Hamantaschen

The dough is really stretchy so needs a little kneading before you roll it out on a floured surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of around ½ cm. If it’s too thick it won’t taste as good and if it’s too thin it will tear when you fold them up. Use a 7cm round cutter to create the circles.

Cut out circles for Hamantaschen

Fold each side over to create a triangle shape. Leave a small gap at the centre for steam to escape. Press the pastry edges together firmly so they don’t pop open in the oven.Apricot Hamantaschen

Folding apple Hamantachen

Brush the top with beaten egg to give it a nice glaze. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tops become golden.

Egg wash the Hamantaschen

Once baked, leave on a wire rack to cool. They will keep for three days in an air tight container. I had visitors yesterday after I made them and they didn’t last! I am about to have the last one with a cup of tea! I guarantee they won’t last a day!



N.B. It’s worth mentioning that these are Parve so if you keep to a kosher diet you can make these as a desert after a meat meal. Yay!

Boobalars with Grandma Joan

Channuka treats at the family get together

Grandma Joan

What’s a Boobalar?

I know what you’re thinking. Boobalar is what Jewish Grandmother’s call their grand kids as they hug them and squeeze their chubby cheeks. Well it is, but it’s also the name of these delicious treats. I have searched high and low and scoured Google to find out what the real/ Jewish name is for these yummy Boobalars but I couldn’t find them anywhere. If you know what they are called please pop a comment below and end my curiosity! Thanks


Yesterday was the last day of Channuka.  Each year we take it in turns to host our family gathering and this year we met up at my brother’s house. The grown-ups do the Channuka Armadillo (our version of Secret Santa meets Ross from Friends!) and the kids get presents from everyone and of course we light our Menorahs (candle holders).

It’s traditional to eat fried food during Channuka to remind us of the oil that kept the everlasting light burning in the temple in days of old. The traditional cake for Channuka is donuts.  I tried to make donuts a few years ago when we were hosting at my house – lets just say I’ve never lived it down and I am still trying to remove the concrete like batter from my hob to this day! So, yesterday my mum made bubbalars (pronounced boo-bah-lars) for us all. They are seriously yummy, or as my four-year old nephew Asher kept saying when he was eating them “Yummy in my tummy!”

They are a kind of dounut but a bit softer and squidgier and taste amazing when you eat them hot out of the pan. We tear them up and dip the pieces in cinnamon flavoured sugar. I decided to take snap shots as Mum made them so I could share them with you. The only problem was that mum can make them without measuring anything out (She’s a proper Jewish mum!!) So, I had to make some more this morning so I could  measure the ingredients out and I could share them with you. Well really I wanted some more but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


(Makes 12 Boobalars)

2 eggs

225ml water

110g matzo meal (this is fine crumbs made from Matzo crackers. It’s available in Waitrose or from Ocado)

300ml sunflower oil (or enough that the Boobalars will float in your pan)

30g granulated sugar

1 tea spoon cinnamon

How to make Boobalars

Add some water

Crack open the eggs into a bowl and add the water. My mum watches to see how it looks to get the right consistency.I measure everything!

Mix up the water and eggs till they are well blended.

Add the matah meal

Add the matzo meal and mix until it forms a fluid batter.

heat the oil

Heat the oil in a pan. This is where my brother was very proud of his Alessi saucepan. I used a deep frying pan today which cooked them much quicker. Either will do the job just make sure you use plenty of oil so the Boobalars don’t touch the bottom.

drop the batter into the oil

When the oil is hot carefully place a spoonful of batter into the oil.

let them bubble awayUse two spoons – one heaped with the batter and the other to encourage it off the spoon.

leave to go golden brown

Leave them to bubble away. They only take a few minutes on each side. Mum’s one’s popped over by themselves when they were ready but mine didn’t (probably due to the differences in the amount of oil they were in) Turn them over when they look slightly cooked at the edges. Take care not to over cook them or they become very heavy. They should be golden brown.

place in an egg box

Mum swears by placing deep-fried food (including her amazing fish balls) to drain  in an old egg carton. They suck up the excess oil much better than kitchen paper. She has a stack of them in her kitchen cupboard at the ready. You can always use kitchen paper on a plate though.

cinnamon sugar

To make the dipping sugar simply place the cinnamon in a bowl with the sugar and mix it with a spoon. We always add tons of cinnamon as we love it!

Now all that’s left to do is tear them up, dip them in the cinnamon sugar and enjoy.

We set the kids up on Sara’s little table and they all gobbled their Boobalars right up. It was actually difficult to get them to stop eating in order to take this picture.

Happy cousins
Beau and Darcey with their cousins Sara and Asher. Note there are no Boobalars left on the serving plate!
The Whole family
The Whole family

I couldn’t resist sharing with you the family picture we took at the end of the day. I love celebrating with my family. We do it often and there is always food and fun involved!


My one stop shop for Christmas recipes is…..

Woman and Home’s

‘Feel Good Food magazine’

Now, you might think that I am biased about this particular magazine as not only did I work for Woman and Home for nine years, and I know the food team at Feel Good Food (or FGF as we call it!) and I also write the table setting pages for each issue, but I’m not biased at all!

As you may know I am Jewish and as Tim is Christian so I get to celebrate all the religions festivals for both sides of our families. It’s the fact that I eat a practically vegetarian diet ( as I keep Kosher) and am always on the lookout for new cakes and cookies to bake makes this quarterly mag like food porn.

The Food Team

The Food team at Woman & Home are Jane Curran and Rebecca Smith and they are my food guru’s. I used to sit opposite Jane in the Woman & Home offices and I would throw all sorts of baking queries at her and she could fire back the most complicated response in an instant. I was always impressed. Their recipes are seriously impressive, yet easy to follow and very impressive for a dinner party.

Bex is the foodie behind the food blog I love reading this as it’s like she’s still sitting next to me in the office and we are chatting about food like we always used to. Bex’s brownies are the best I have ever tasted. I’m taking them to the New Year’s eve party we are going to this year. She taught me about adding a little salt in chocolate recipes. “Salt!” I thought. But try it. Just add a pinch.You’ll never look back!

Her most recent post is about getting the timing right for your Christmas dinner – turkey and all. I’m so glad I am the baker in my house and not the cook, but check out her advice here.

Feel Good Food Magazine

Feel Good Food Magazine

Whenever a new issue of FGF came out I would read it on the train home. Just to warn you, this is not the magazine to read on a train when you are hungry! It will make your mouth water.  I always want to make the veggie options as they are always proper meals. None of that tasteless nut loaf rubbish here.

From this issue I’m making  the Vegetable potato pie which is packed full of sweet potatoes (which I love) my fav veggies and all sorts of great flavours  (a must for any veggie meal)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I love how these ‘Home made gifts’ are packaged up. These truffles look melt in the mouth! (actually I know that they are as I’ve eaten Jane’s truffles before!)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I asked Tim what I should take to his parents for Christmas day this year. I wanted to make the roulade ( as I’ve never made one before and I love them) but he reminded me that his dad likes to make one (from a FGF recipe from a few years ago) so I should make this layered chocolate cake instead. He loves Chocolate cake. The recipe states that it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Yeah right! This will be scoffed in one sitting at the MT household if me and Tim have anything to do with it!

So, if you are stuck for the perfect recipe and still need some inspiration this is the only mag you’ll need. I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s inside. There’s over 101 recipes in here! It’s available in supermarkets, news agents , but I always pick mine up in M&S.


Extra Chocolatey Christmas Pudding Cookies

The perfect Christmas cookie gift

My good friend Kathryn is popping over today with gifts for the girls. She is one of my oldest friends and always buys them a gift for Christmas. She’s so generous. We always buy her a birthday present (her birthday is in January – it’s one of those funny set ups) but I thought it would be lovely to give her some home made Christmas cookies as a little treat when she comes for lunch today. I know she loves chocolate. I mean who doesn’t? I decided to make extra chocolatey cookies and give them a Christmas touch. These cookies are pretty quick and easy to make, but they do need to be left over night to harden.  


Makes around 30 biscuits (enough to give and to ‘test’)

  • 200g unsalted butter- at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 egg – at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Green and red sugar paste for the holly

To make the biscuits

  • Heat your oven to 160° and line a baking sheet with baking paper.Put all the ingredients into the bowl
  • Place all the ingredients into a bowl in one go and mix until just blended, then use your hands to form a soft dough.
  • This mixture is quite sticky so it needs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour or you’ll end up with a sticky mess! Wrap the dough in cling film first so it doesn’t dry out.Wrap and chill the dough
  • When you are ready to roll out the dough, take a little out of the fridge at a time so it doesn’t get too warm and handle it as little as possible. Also, try not to use too much flour when rolling out as it will remain on the baked biscuits. I used a 2 ½ inch circle cutter to create the round cookies and used spacers to ensure each cookie was the same size. Pop them in the oven for 12 minutes or when the edges start to go darker.Cut out the circle cookies
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack once baked.Leave the cookies to cool off

To decorate the chocolate cookies

  • Roll out a small amount of green icing and use a holly leaf cutter (available at Cake craft or hobbycraft shops) to cut out 1, 2 or 3 leaves for each cookie. Set aside to dry a little, then roll out tiny balls of red sugarpaste. When you have enough press the bottom of the leaves together to secure. Add the berries to the base. If they don’t stick use a tiny amount of water or edible glue to position them.Cut out holly and roll the berries
  • Set aside to dry for 10 minutes or so, so you‘ll be able to handle them when you want to put them on the cookies. It’s a good idea to place some baking paper on the plate so the sugarpaste doesn’t get stuck.The holly
  • For the top of the Christmas pudding melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a non metallic bowl. I blast it for 30 seconds at a time so it doesn’t burn. Stir between each session till there are no lumps. I have a new toy (more on that next week) it’s a Lekue decopen which is a silicon icing tool. It’s perfect for holding hot melted chocolate without burning your hands and allows me to control where I ‘ice’. You can easily use a plastic icing bag with a nozzle though. If you don’t have either you could use a small spoon but it might take a bit of patience to do it that way!  Create an outline of the dribbling icing at the top of each pudding  then fill in the space with the chocolate.Melt the chocolateAdd the white chocolate topping
  • You can simply add the holly at this stage as the cookies look really cute. But for a ‘death by chocolate cookie’ melt the dark chocolate and create the bottom half of the pudding in the same way as the top. Then add the holly and leave to dry overnightReady to serve

Top tip: When adding the melted chocolate remember that it has a tendency to run so don’t ‘ice’ too close to the edge of the cookie or it will dribble off the side of the cookie and you won’t want to give it as a gift – you’ll have to eat it yourself!!! Wrapped up cookies



Christmas tree cookies- The quick and easy way

Christmas Tree cookiesThe cookie gift of giving

This weekend the girls are going to a Christmas party for the whole of Year One. I offered to make some cookies for the big event- this is our first Chrimbo party of the season so my first baking session (there are lots more planned!) I decided that as I need to make 40 cookies I needed to have a plan that would be really easy. In all they took in about 2 hours to make. Not bad for so many!

To make the Christmas tree cookies

You will need

1 x Vanilla cookie dough (see here for recipe to make around 30 cookies)

Rolling pin

Spacing sticks

icing sugar to dust

sugarpaste in green

cookie cutter

new damp sponge / damp kitchen roll will do

Spatula / cookie lift

To make the cookies
Cut out the Christmas tree cookie

Roll out the dough between two spacing sticks to ensure that each cookie is exactly the same. Cut out as many trees as you can. Avoid over kneading the dough as it makes the texture tough.

The more cool the dough is, the less the cookie will spread when being baked. Load up the baking trays and pop them in the fridge for a while if the dough has become too soft.

Vanilla cookies straight out of the oven

Then bake the cookies until the edges start to brown and your whole kitchen smells like vanilla. Around 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

To ice the cookies, roll out a thin layer of green sugarpaste(about 3-5mm thick) Use the same tree cookie cutter to cut out each piece of sugarpaste. If the dough was cold going into the oven the cookies shouldn’t have spread too much and the green tree shaped icing will fit on top perfectly. To make sure that the icing stays put place it on a new damp sponge or dampen a piece of kitchen paper. Don’t let the sugarpaste get soggy.

Lay the sugarpaste on a Christmas tree cookie

Position the sugarpaste over the cookie. It may need a bit of tweaking to make it fit but it’s malleable at this stage and can be made to fit quite easily. Smooth down any icing that goes over the edge of the cookie as once it has dried it will be brittle and will break off.

 Smooth the icing with the palm of your hand

Once in position smooth the sugarpaste with the palm of your hand then set aside to harden up a little. I leave them overnight.

Decorating the Christmas tree cookies

There are so many options when it comes to what you can then do to decorate these Christmas tree cookies. I did a load of different ideas but the world is your oyster.

What you'll need

I made up a small amount of royal icing to make the balls and sprinkles stick. I used my new toy, the Leuke Decomax icing kit (more to come on that later) silver and pearl balls, red edible glitter and multicoloured sprinkles.

ice lines for the decorations

I iced lines of royal icing across the tree.

silver or multi colour decs!

Diagonal lines worked much better than straight ones!

Add the Sprinkles to the Christmas tree cookies

Then I added the sprinkles. These ones were from the supermarket and looked so much better than I expected.

The glitter worked well too but made a lot of mess! Once dry I had to dust off in between the lines of glitter with a paint brush.

Add the balls

Individual dots of icing were great for holding the silver balls in place. On some I made the dots of royal icing bigger, added a ball and then added sprinkles on top. These were my favorite ones!

I had to do these when my daughters weren’t around or I wouldn’t have got a look in! It is so much fun to do.

Once you have finished decorating the cookies leave them overnight to dry, then bag them up in cellophane bags with festive ribbons. They make the perfect personal Christmas gift.

I can’t wait to take these to the party on Saturday!

What are you baking for gifts this Christmas? I’d love to know.

Christmas tree cookies

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