Looking for a way to introduce your family to classic Jewish cuisine – that’s tailored with kids in mind? Tina Wasserman delivers prime pickings in Entree to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Children (URJ Books and Music). The Jewish cookbook is filled with fun recipes for kids and parents alike that the entire family will love (“not just gimmicky kids stuff”), all paired with both photos and conversation kick starters that will get kids thinking about their Jewish heritage. It also features an interactive digital cookbook designed to teach kids about various kitchen utensils, cooking methods and terminology, complete with 30 instructional videos that bring the techniques to life.
Curious what’s cooking? Try out these three Jewish food recipes from the book, including whole-wheat pretzels, a bread kugel (a baked pudding/casserole) and beet hummus.
Whole Wheat Pretzels
Good luck, prosperity and an inexpensive way to fed the hungry: That’s a taste of the symbolism behind pretzels, Wasserman notes. Originally invented as a creative way to use up leftover bread dough, these treats remain family favorites. Try this version with or without the delicious orange glaze topping. Yields 12 large pretzels.
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 package yeast (rapid rise or regular dried yeast)
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. salt
- Kosher salt (optional)
Orange Glaze (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. orange extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp. water or milk
- Stir the two flours together in a 1-quart bowl.
- Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture and the yeast in a 3-quart bowl.
- Combine the water, oil, honey and salt in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and microwave for 45 seconds or until it is hot to the touch but not scalding.
- Stir the hot liquid mixture with a spatula to combine; then add to the bowl with the flour and yeast. Beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the bowl to make a firm dough. If the dough is still very soft and sticky, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time.
- Knead by hand for 3-5 minutes on a lightly floured counter (use some of the remaining flour until the dough is smooth). Let rest for 10 minutes on the counter, covered by the turned-over used mixing bowl.
- Cut the dough into 12 pieces, and roll each into a 15-inch rope. Shape the ropes into pretzels, bringing each end of the rope toward you and crossing the ends in the middle to create a pretzel shape.
- For salt pretzels: Brush each pretzel with a little water and then press the top of the pretzel in a dish of kosher salt.
- Place the pretzels on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a lightly greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 425 F for 15-20 minutes until golden.
- For glazed pretzels: Whisk the orange extract, sugar and milk or water with a small bar whisk in a 1-quart bowl until smooth. Either brush the glaze on the warm pretzels or dip the tops of the pretzels into a dish of the glaze. Allow the glaze to harden for a few minutes before serving.
Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Bread kugel is a pudding-consistency casserole-style dish. The first types date back some 800 years, Wasserman says, and were pretty simple. Spice yours up with raisins and sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe that a classic technique. And, while there are a lot of ingredients, Wasserman notes you can work on each step progressively throughout the day, covering and then combining before baking. Yields 12 or more servings.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (apples, prunes, pears, apricots or any of your other favorites)
- 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- 1/4 cup Madeira wine (optional; add more apricot nectar if not using)
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 loaf of white bread or challah with crust, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes (about 7 cups)
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary
- 1/2 tsp. sage
- 1/4 tsp. marjoram
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- Kosher salt and 10 grindings of pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, warm or at room temperature
- 1 egg
- Note: Substitute 2 tsp. of poultry seasoning mix for the individual herbs, if you prefer
- Saute the onion in the olive oil until lightly golden. Add the celery and mushrooms and saute for about 10 minutes – or until the vegetables are soft and have given up their juices. Set aside.
- Grease a 2-quart casserole or 11 1/2-by-8-inch pan with additional olive oil.
- Combine the chopped dried fruit, dried cranberries, apricot nectar and Madeira in a small glass bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and bread cubes in a 4-quart bowl.
- Mix the seasonings with the chicken broth and egg. Set aside.
- Add the onion mixture and the dried fruit/juice mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes and toss.
- Add the broth and egg mixture and stir until the mixture is very moist and almost runny. If necessary, add a little more broth or nectar.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole and bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes. Note: The casserole can be baked for the first 25 minutes covered with foil, shiny side up. Then, remove the foil for the remainder of the cooking time. This will give you a very soft stuffing.
A quintessential Jewish beet dish is borscht – a slightly sweet/tart, cold soup. Hummus, with its mix of chickpeas and sesame paste, has Middle East roots – and, Wasserman notes, “could probably be considered an Israeli national dish, because it is served at all meals and festive occasions.” Try this recipe as a great way to introduce kids to beets. Yields 1 pint.
- 1 15-oz. can whole beets, rinsed and drained (or one large, fresh beet that’s been oven-roasted and peeled)
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup tahini (sesame butter)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon baharat (or cinnamon or allspice and a pinch of cayenne)
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 10 grindings of black pepper or to taste
- Place drained beets and garbanzo beans in a food processor work bowl, and pulse the machine on and off until the two ingredients are blended into a coarse texture. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and process until the ingredients form a fairly smooth paste.
- Place the mixture in a decorative bowl, and serve with pita bread or vegetables for dipping.
Did you try these recipes out at home with your family? Comment and tell us how your family liked the recipes!
This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for 2015.