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One of the bakeries where I grew up baked the best little olive rolls: small, with a chewy crust and the fluffiest softest bread inside, flecked with salty olives. I haven't managed to replicate those, but this bread has come closest to scratching the itch.

You can halve the recipe if you only want one loaf, but once I'm already going to the effort of baking bread I prefer to make two, especially since it freezes so well.

Recipe based on Wanderlust Kitchen's recipe
Recipe based on Wanderlust Kitchen's recipe


  • 3 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 5½ cups flour (use bread flour if you have)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives


  1. Pour half the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over it. Leave for 5-10 minutes until the yeast looks thick and frothy.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the olives. Mix (by hand or in a stand-mixer) until the dough comes together. Fold in the olives and knead for 10-15 minutes (if using a machine, you can cut it down to 5-10 minutes).
  3. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm or a damp towel.
  4. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Tip the dough out and punch down (ie. let it deflate). Divide the dough into two equal sized pieces and shape each one into an oval. Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside to rise for another hour.
  6. Heat the oven to 400°F and place an empty baking dish on the bottom rack.
  7. Use a serrated knife to cut 2-3 shallow slits in the top of each loaf and slide the pan into the oven. Carefully pull out the bottom rack just enough so that you can pour a cup of water onto the empty pan. Quickly close the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Transfer the bread to a wire cooling rack and only slice once fully cooled. Freezes well.

Caramel is one of those things that has to be homemade, dairy, and full fat. No shortcuts. It should be rich, smooth, and buttery, with a hint of salt to balance the sweetness. Warm. Fragrant. Decadent.

You can use this caramel sauce for just about anything: drizzle over ice cream, serve warm over apple pie or brownies, use it to top a cheesecake, or mix through for a marble effect. Dip an apple into it, swirl some into your coffee, or eat it by the spoonful. It's extremely versatile.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract


  1. Place the heavy cream, butter, and salt in a saucepan and cook over gentle heat until the butter has melted. Remove saucepan from the heat but keep warm until ready to use.
  2. Pour the sugar and water into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking the mixture and watch it change color. It will turn light amber and slowly get darker. Do not whisk or mix the sugar mixture while this is happening. If it seems to be darker in one part than another, gently swirl the pot to distribute the color more evenly.
  3. The darker amber the sugar, the stronger the caramel flavor will be.
  4. Immediately pour the warm butter and cream mixture into the sugar and whisk until incorporated. When the cream-butter mixture hits the sugar, it will bubble up wildly, so make sure you use a big enough pot to accommodate that.
  5. Remove the pot from the stove and whisk in the vanilla extract. If you prefer, replace the vanilla with rum or bourbon.
  6. Pour into a glass jar and leave caramel sauce to cool. Warm, or at room temperature, the caramel will be loose and pourable. In the fridge it will firm up but you can easily get it back to pourable texture by warming in a pot, in the microwave, or simply leaving at room temperature for a couple of hours.
  7. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

Yields: 2 cups caramel sauce

There's something incredibly striking about black rice. Look how it makes the other colors pop!

If you're not familiar with it, black rice (also called Forbidden Rice) has a slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor. Paired with some roasted sweet potato, tart pomegranate seeds, lots of fresh, fragrant parsley, and a squeeze of fresh orange juice, it creates the perfect fall salad or side dish, and a nice break from the pumpkin mania that sweeps the country at this time of year.

I've opted to keep it pareve, but you could absolutely crumble some feta cheese into this if you wanted to make it dairy.


  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika (use smoked paprika if you have it)
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 orange


  1. Cook black rice (I used short grain) according to the directions on the bag.
  2. Toss the cubed sweet potato with the oil, salt, garlic, and paprika. Spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake uncovered at 400°F until the bottoms are crisp and the middles soft, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  3. Pick the parsley leaves from the stems and wash well.
  4. To serve: Mix the black rice, roasted sweet potato, parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds together. Cut the orange in half and squeeze teh juice over the dish before serving.
  5. Tastes best warm, but good at room temperature too.

Serves: 6

A Healthier Version of the Traditional American Peanut Butter "Buckeye" Ball

You can look at these as energy balls (similar to a lara bar), or as a healthier version of buckeye peanut butter balls—they pretty much fall into both categories equally.

Often those bars or balls using nuts/seeds/dried fruit call for so many assorted ingredients, you either have to make a massive shopping trip or substitute with dubious results. But these use just two ingredients—dates and peanuts—which was definitely part of the appeal on my end.

I prefer to keep these in the freezer, but if you know you'll be using them in the next couple of days the fridge is just as good.


  • 2 cups whole pitted dates (approximately 30-40 dates, depending on size)
  • 1 cup roasted salted peanuts


  1. Place the dates in the bowl of your food processor. Process until dates resemble a chunky paste. Add in the peanuts and pulse until nuts are chopped and mixed throughout the dates.
  2. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to scoop the mixture into evenly-sized balls. Roll each ball with the palms of your hands so it's smooth and round.
  3. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 2 hours. Transfer energy balls to an airtight container.
  4. Optional: coat some or all of the balls with chocolate (recipe below).

Chocolate Coating Ingredients

  • ¾ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey


  1. Whisk together the coconut oil and cocoa powder so that there are no lumps. Slowly drizzle in the maple syrup (or honey) while whisking.
  2. Dip the energy balls into the mixture and return to the freezer.

Yields: 20 balls

A Healthier Version of the Classic

Stuffed cabbage (also called cabbage rolls), is a Simchat Torah classic. Read more about the origin of that tradition here.

Many recipes are heavy on the sweetness, and my goal here was to create a version that is more savory, but still flavorful, and with no sugar or honey at all. I did, however, add some raisins and dates to help counteract the acidity of all the tomato, but this recipe is by no means sweet. There's lots of fresh basil, oregano, smoked paprika, and jalapeno in there.

If you're looking for the quick and easy version, skip this one and make these traditional sweet ones instead. The ingredient list is exponentially shorter!

I used brown rice in this version. I like the texture it adds, and the way it stands up well to a long, slow cook, and re-heating, which is often necessary on the long Simchat Torah nights. If you're shorter on time, or prefer the taste, you can definitely use white rice and reduce the cook time.

Cabbage Roll Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized cabbage
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4-5 basil leaves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 20 fresh basil leaves

Cabbage Roll Directions

  1. Freeze the cabbage for 2-3 days. Defrost. As the cabbage defrosts, the leaves will wilt and soften. Carefully peel off one leaf at a time, being careful not to tear the leaves. Submerge the cabbage head in warm water if you're finding it difficult to remove the smaller center leaves. You will need about 12 whole leaves for this amount of filling. Wash the cabbage leaves and check for dirt and insects. Set aside.
  2. In a small frying pan, sauté the onion in the oil until translucent. Add the garlic and salt. Cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the shredded carrot and cook until soft. Mix through the minced basil. Remove mixture from the stove and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Combine the ground beef, raw rice, salt, pepper, paprika, mustard, and sautéed onion mixture. Mix well with your hands until rice is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Slowly add the cold water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing it in after each time. The mixture should loosen, but remain cohesive.
  4. Lay out the first cabbage leaf. Place a scoop (about 2 tbsp.) of the meat mixture at the bottom. Fold in the sides and roll up the leaf. (See pictures above for a clearer description). Be careful not to put too much filling, because the rice will expand as it cooks. Roll the cabbage tightly enough that it won't unfold while cooking, but not too tightly or your rice won't cook. Repeat with remaining leaves until all the filling has been used. You should get about 12 cabbage rolls from this amount of filling.
  5. Place 1 cup of sauce (recipe below) on the bottom of a large, deep baking dish. Lay the cabbage rolls, seam-side down, on top of the sauce. Wedge them in tightly so they won't move around while baking. Cover with more sauce, so that pan is full. If you have extra sauce that doesn't fit in the pan just now, set it aside for later (you will need it). Place two sprigs of oregano and 10 of the basil leaves on top.
  6. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300°F and cook for another 2-3 hours. About half-way through, take the pan out, remove the basil and oregano leaves. Check the sauce level. If it has reduced visibly, top it up with some of the remaining sauce and/or half a cup of water. Place the remaining 2 sprigs of oregano and 10 basil leaves on top, re-wrap with foil, and return to oven.
  7. Before you take the cabbage rolls out, remove one, cut it in half, and make sure the rice is cooked through. If it is, remove the entire tray. If not, return to oven and cook some more. Serve fresh or refrigerate and reheat later. Remove oregano, basil, and the large chunks of carrot and jalapeno before serving.
  8. To reheat, add some water and re-heat in the oven, or transfer to a frying pan, add some water, and reheat over a low gentle flame.

Yields: 12 cabbage rolls

Tomato Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup red wine (sweet or dry)
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 4 dates
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, halved, veins and seeds removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled, halved

Tomato Sauce Directions

  1. In a medium-large pot, cut the onion into quarter rounds and sauté lightly in oil. Add the crushed garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper, and cook over a low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Use as directed above.

Garnishes are an exciting way to dress up a simple soup, and if ever there was a time for soup, Sukkot is it. Who doesn't crave a warm bowl of soup on chilly Sukkot evenings? This is the most basic butternut squash soup—just onion, butternut, water and salt (recipe below)—but the garnishes provide flavor and texture in every bite.

Here I've used popped quinoa, puffed rice, sautéed pastrami, fried garlic and fried parsley leaves.

You can use assorted nuts and seeds to change it up. Most seeds pop/puff up so you can experiment with that. Crispy fried shallots, ginger, or shitake mushrooms are also delicious. And things like toasted sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and pepitas work too.

Here are the techniques I've used:

popped quinoa

Rinse the quinoa 2-3 times. Drain. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the quinoa. Mix gently with a wooden spoon, shaking the pan occasionally (as you would with popcorn). First the quinoa will dry off. Then it will start to jump and pop, (much like popcorn). As the quinoa pops it will begin to smell fragrant and toasty, and will darken in color. Stand over the pan, moving the quinoa around the pan with the wooden spoon, to ensure it doesn't burn. When most of the quinoa is golden in color, transfer to a cold bowl.

puffed rice

Heat ¼ cup oil in a shallow frying pan. When the oil is hot, toss in some raw rice. The rice will puff quickly. Use a small mesh strainer to scoop out the puffed rice. Repeat in small batches.

fried parsley

Drop parsley leaves into hot oil for a couple of seconds. Parsley will become crisp. I wouldn't bother heating oil just for this, but if you're making the puffed rice or sautéing anything else, drop some parsley in while you're at it.

sautéed pastrami

Dice pastrami and sauté briefly. Too long and it will become leathery. You could also do it in thin strips for a different look and texture.

fried garlic

Fry thin slices of garlic in hot oil very briefly—don't take your eyes off it or it will burn. Remove as soon as garlic turns golden. The darker it gets, the more bitter it will become. Sprinkle with salt.

Basic Butternut Soup

  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • salt
  1. Cut the onion into half rounds. Sauté in oil.
  2. Add the cubed butternut squash to the pot. Add water so that about ⅔ of the butternut is covered.
  3. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook until butternut squash is soft. Blend and salt to taste.

Note: here is my other Butternut Squash Soup recipe if you prefer something with more complexity of flavor.

Cook It Kosher features recipes from food blogger Miriam Szokovski, as well as guest bloggers and cookbook authors. Let us know if you’d like to contribute!
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