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Cook It Kosher

Chili-lime cheesecake may sound a little on the strange side, but I actually won a cheesecake contest last year with this recipe, so swallow your skepticism and give it a try.

The base of the cheesecake incorporates coconut; the actual cheesecake is lime-flavored; and once it has baked and cooled, the cheesecake is drizzled with a chili syrup—a dreamy marriage of a few key Thai flavors.


The holiday of Shavuot is almost upon us, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah by hearing the Ten Commandments being read in the synagogue. Some of the customs specific to this holiday include decorating our homes with greenery and eating dairy foods.





Prepare the pan:

  • You will need a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe. If you don’t have a springform pan, you can use a regular pan, but the cake will be difficult to remove. You may need to cut it while it’s still in the pan.
  • This cheesecake cooks best in a water bath, so you’ll need a larger pan that the springform pan can sit in.
  • Wrap the outside of the springform pan in 2–3 layers of foil. This helps keep the water from seeping through the crack around the base.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. (120 grams) tea biscuits, crushed
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
  • 8 tbsp. butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

Crust Directions:

  1. Optional: toast the coconut first. To toast, spread the coconut out on a pan and bake at 350F for 3-5 minutes until golden. Keep a close eye on it because it can quickly over-toast, ie. burn.
  2. Crush the tea biscuits to a fine crumb, and mix with the coconut, sugar, salt and melted butter.
  3. Press the mixture down firmly into the base of the springform pan. Use the back of a spoon to help compress the mixture.
  4. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 24 oz. (680 grams) cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Zest of 4 limes
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream

Cheesecake Directions:

  1. Let the cream cheese come to room temperature.
  2. Using an electric mixer (stand or handheld), beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the eggs one a time. Wait until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Pour in the lime juice, lime zest and salt. Mix. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, and mix until smooth.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture over the base.
  6. Place the springform pan into the larger pan, and add 1 inch of water to the larger pan.
  7. Bake at 350° F for approximately 60–75 minutes. In order not to overcook the cake, turn off the oven when the center is still jiggly (but not completely wet). Leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven for an hour. Then remove and let it cool completely.
  8. Refrigerate cake until cold. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, then gently release the springform.

Chili Syrup Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 red chilis, de-seeded

Chili Syrup Directions

  1. Cut the chili peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds. Dice very finely.
  2. Place the sugar, lime juice and diced chili into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes. Refrigerate.
  3. If serving the entire cheesecake at once, drizzle syrup over the cake and serve. Otherwise, cut the cheesecake and drizzle syrup over the individual pieces you are serving.

When I chanced upon a rhubarb-wrapped mousse cake recipe a couple of years ago, I knew I needed to try and replicate the technique on a cheesecake. Fortunately, rhubarb season coincides with Shavuot season, and this beautiful cake came to be.


The rhubarb is a decorating technique, so you can use any cheesecake recipe for the base. I used my classic cheesecake recipe, but if you have family favorite you prefer, go ahead and use it.

The only change I made was to divide the recipe into two smaller pans (4.5 inches in diameter), to make it easier to wrap the rhubarb strips around the cake, without too much overlap.


The basic technique involves peeling off thin strips of rhubarb, cooking them very briefly in a sugar syrup, and wrapping them around the cake. You then retain the syrup to brush over the rhubarb and serve drizzled over the cheesecake, adding delicate notes of flavor.





Rhubarb idea and method inspired by SprinkleBakes
Rhubarb idea and method inspired by SprinkleBakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cheesecake recipe (use my classic cheesecake recipe or your own)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 long stalks of rhubarb (you want to look for rhubarb that has a strong red/pink color)

Directions

  1. Bake cheesecake and refrigerate overnight. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to cover with the rhubarb. Note: You may find it easier to bake the cheesecake in 2-3 smaller pans (I used 2 4.5 inch pans), rather than one large cake. It can be hard to find rhubarb long enough to cover a full size cake.
  2. Use a peeler to peel thin strips of rhubarb.
  3. Pour the water and sugar into a small pot. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Place 3-4 strips of rhubarb into the syrup at a time. Leave them in to cook for 30-40 seconds, remove and transfer to a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat until all strips have been cooked.
  5. Strain the remaining syrup and set aside for later.
  6. Now you're ready to decorate the cheesecake. Gently lay the strips of rhubarb across the top of the cake. When the entire top is covered, trim the edges with scissors, so they only drape over the cake for half an inch or so. If the strips have dried too much or start to peel away, brush them with some of the reserved cooking syrup.
  7. Wrap more strips of rhubarb around the sides of the cake, until the cake is fully covered. Brush the entire cake with the sugar syrup and refrigerate until ready to serve. Also refrigerate the remaining syrup.
  8. When you're ready to cut the cake, use a very sharp knife to neatly cut through the rhubarb. Serve each piece with a drizzle of the rhubarb syrup.

Lemon is my all-time favorite ingredient, and lately I've been on a bit of a parsley kick. Since lemon and parsley marry so well, these chicken kebab skewers are fragrant, herbaceous, fresh, and flavorful.

For best flavor, it's important to use fresh lemon, fresh parsley, and fresh garlic. Bottled lemon juice won't cut it.

You can cook these on an outdoor grill, indoor grill pan, or even just in the oven. I've given directions for all.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2½ cups flat-leaf parsley (approximately 25 grams)
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into cubes and place in a bowl or container.
  2. Blitz the rest of the ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Pour over the chicken. Mix so that the marinade reaches all the chicken.
  3. Marinate the chicken for a few hours, or overnight.
  4. Thread the chicken onto wooden skewers. Optional: intersperse the chicken with chunks of onion or other vegetables. I used onion.
  5. Cook skewers on the barbecue until chicken is cooked through but tender.
  6. To cook indoors, pre-heat the oven to 500°F. Heat a grill pan over high heat for 4-5 minutes. Place the chicken skewers on the pan and grill for 2-3 minutes, then flip and grill for another 2 minutes. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for another 5 minutes. If you don't have a grill pan, you can still make these. Place the chicken skewers on a real baking sheet and bake at 500°F for 10-12 minutes.

Yields: 10 kebabs

I think ricotta is one of the most underrated cheeses out there. It's cottage cheese's softer, creamier, infinitely-more-delicious older sister. Seriously. Cottage cheese is a poor substitute, certainly not an equal.

If you can't find it in a store, or would prefer to make your own for other reasons, this recipe should prove helpful.

How to use ricotta? You could try this ricotta spinach lasagna, cheesy stuffed shells, or lemon ricotta pound cake. It's also delicious spread on toast and topped with jam or cooked berries.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk (do not use skim)
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and gently warm over medium heat.
  2. Just before the milk comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and add the lemon juice or vinegar. Stir gently to distribute the acid, then let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, it should have separated into clumps of white curd and thinner liquid whey. If there is still a lot of milk, add another tablespoon of lemon juice/vinegar and wait another 5 minutes.
  4. Line a strainer with cheesecloth (a kitchen towel or wet paper towel can also work in a pinch), and place the strainer over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the strainer and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. If you want a very soft ricotta, remove it from the strainer after 10 minutes, and if you want a very dry ricotta, keep it in for longer. For more uses, 15-20 minutes will give you a good texture. Use immediately or refrigerate for later.

Gluten-free baking can be an exercise in frustration, but this bread recipe has never let me down. For me, the success is in the texture. As you can see, it has plenty of aeration which lends it some of the fluffiness of real bread.


It freezes well, so you can slice it, freeze in a zip-top bag, and take out as needed. It toasts well, and although it is more fragile than regular wheat bread, it does a good job of holding up toppings (see pictures).



If you're unfamiliar with gluten-free bread, be aware that it has more of a batter consistency and cannot be shaped or braided. For challah, some people like to use the silicone moulds, which gives it the appearance of a braided loaf, but in my experience cakes and breads do not bake well in silicone. Since I prioritize taste and texture over appearance, I simply pour the batter into loaf bans and bake as such. It might make for non-traditional challah, but hey, gluten-free challah is non-traditional to begin with. And if you're using this for breakfast toast or school lunches, loaf pans make for neatly sliced sandwich bread.

batter/dough before rising
batter/dough before rising

batter/dough after rising
batter/dough after rising

Recipe adapted from Barefeetinthekitchen.com
Recipe adapted from Barefeetinthekitchen.com

Since this bread is made with liquid other than water, it is considered pat haba bekisnin, over which the blessing of mezonot is normally said. When this bread is eaten as the basis of a meal that is at least the size of four eggs (approximately 8 oz.), it takes on the status of bona fide bread, warranting washing, hamotzie and a full afterblessing.

Two unsliced loaves of this bread can be used as challah for the Shabbat meal. If you will be eating the abovementioned size, treat it exactly like bread made of flour and water. If not, skip the pre-meal washing and make the blessing of mezonot instead of hamotzie, and say the appropriate (truncated) afterblessing following your meal (this follows the final decision of the Alter Rebbe that mezonot can constitute the two loaves of the Shabbat meal).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2½ cups oat flour (look for oat flour which is certified gluten free)
  • 1⅓ cups potato starch
  • ⅔ cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2½ tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1½ cups unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ½ cup oil
  • 6 eggs (+ 1 egg for the egg wash)
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the brown rice flour, oat flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, yeast, salt and xanthan gum into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Warm the milk and slowly mix it into the dry ingredients. Add the oil and honey and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs one a time, making sure each egg has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
  4. Beat the mixture at high speed for 3-5 minutes. This adds air to the batter, which helps with the texture of the finished loaf.
  5. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or saran wrap. Let rise for 60-90 minutes. (Note: the batter will puff up but don't expect it to double in size like regular bread dough.)
  6. Gently pour the batter into two loaf pans lined with parchment paper. Smooth the top of each loaf with wet fingers or the back of a spoon dipped in water.
  7. Beat the egg and brush the top of both loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Cover the pans and allow the dough to rise for another hour.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then gently tip out onto a cooling rack.
  11. Only slice the bread once it has fully cooled, or it will fall apart. Freezes well.

Yields: 2 loaves


Gluten Free & Kosher for Passover

This year I've gone super simple with my Pesach recipes, and in keeping with that theme, here's an oldie but a goodie: chocolate-covered frozen banana pops.


It's literally as simple as dipping frozen bananas in chocolate and the toppings of your choice. I've included detailed instructions, but you can absolutely make adjustments to suit your family's tastes.


If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know I am passionately in favor of using salt in desserts—it really takes them up a level. So for toppings I used chopped nuts and toasted coconut. You can use plain toasted coconut, but I toasted it with a small amount of sugar and a generous sprinkle of salt.


Ingredients:

  • 5 bananas
  • 10 popsicle sticks
  • 100 grams / 3.5 oz. dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • kosher salt
  • oil
  • optional: small amount of white chocolate for drizzle

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Peel the bananas and cut in half horizontally. Gently push a popsicle stick into each one. Place the banana popsicles on the baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours, until frozen solid.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Toss the shredded coconut with 2 teaspoons sugar and a sprinkle of kosher salt (if you're using table salt, use a very small amount). Spread the coconut out in a thin layer on a baking pan, and place in the oven. Remove pan every 2-3 minutes, stir, and put back, for a total of about 10 minutes, until just golden. Set the coconut aside to cool.
  4. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, add a small amount of oil to thin it out (start with 1 teaspoon and see how it feels).
  5. When the bananas are fully frozen, set up a dipping station. Place each item on a separate plate: the pistachios, walnuts, and coconut. And have the melted chocolate in a bowl. Optional: Melt some white chocolate and use it to drizzle over the dark chocolate.
  6. Dip each banana pop into the dark chocolate and immediately roll in the desired topping. Place banana pop back on the tray and back into the freezer. Once the chocolate has frozen, transfer the banana pops to a zip top bag or covered container and keep frozen until serving.

Yields: 10 banana pops


Cook It Kosher features recipes from Chabad.org 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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