Passover recipes—from scratch!

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From gefilte fish and prepared horseradish to charoset, chicken soup, and matzo balls, my family cooks from scratch—and sometimes without a recipe. Growing up in an Ashkenazi Jewish family and watching my mother add a handful of this and a dash of that, I’ve gathered my memories into clear, easy-to-follow recipes. With each recipe beautifully photographed, Essential Passover From Scratch offers the very best from my family’s kitchen.

Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen


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The variety of hummus in the stores these days has exploded—along with the price of this simple spread. Dry legumes are extremely affordable, and when you see how easy this is to make, and how delicious when eaten fresh, you might reconsider paying for store-bought.

To cook the beans, combine the following, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 3 hours, or until the beans are quite soft. Save the liquid.

  • 1 pound dried garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas)
  • 8 c. water
  • 1 tbs. salt

Combine the following in a food processor. Process until smooth.

  • cooked garbanzo beans
  • 3/4 c. of the reserved cooking liquid—or just enough to achieve desired consistency*
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2  tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

When very smooth, pulse in

  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley

*Room-temperature tahini will be thin, but will thicken when refrigerated. Keep this in mind when adding liquid


Whole Wheat, Oat, Millet, and Molasses Loaf

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This bread is light in texture with a little bit of crunch from the millet, and a subtle sweetness from the molasses. Delicious with soup, fabulous toasted, and great as a sandwich loaf.


  • yeast, 1 package or 2-1/4 tsp.
  • 2 c. warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. quick oats
  • 2 Tbs. molasses
  • 3 Tbs. corn meal
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. white bread flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. millet


  1. Proof the yeast, along with the sugar, in the warm water.
  2. Stir in the oats, molasses, corn meal, salt, and flours.
  3. Knead for about 10 minutes or until very smooth, adding in the millet in the final minutes. Add more white flour as necessary, but the dough should remain slightly sticky.
  4. Place dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 or 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Dust a baking pan with a little corn meal. Punch down the bread, form into a smooth ball and place onto the cookie sheet. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown and tests done.

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties, You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries



Walker Cafe’s Chocolate Chip Whiskey and Rye Cookies

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I was inspired by a question from the owner of a local farm store, yesterday, “Can you make cookies using rye flour?” That sounded interesting to me, since I like a cookie that has more flavor, is much more than just sweet. The rye adds a hint of nuttiness, and the whiskey along with orange zest gives a depth of flavor that honestly turned this into the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve tasted.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 Tbs. rye whiskey
  • 1-1/4 c. rye flour
  • 1 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate chips


  1. Cream butter, shortening, and sugars until very creamy
  2. Add in, one at a time, the egg, vanilla, orange zest, and whiskey, until smooth
  3. Mix together the flours,  baking soda, and salt, then stir into the batter.
  4. Stir in the chips.
  5. Drop by 1-1/2 Tbs. scoop unto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle very lightly with flaked salt (optional). Bake for 10 mins. Cool on a rack.

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties, You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Betty’s Espresso Swirl Cookies

Makes 5-7 dozen small cookies.

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These small, buttery cookies are loaded with real espresso powder and topped with a dark swirl of coffee-infused chocolate ganache. They are fancy, but easy to make.

I made a gluten free batch which taste just like the original version, by substituting Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free all purpose baking flour, 1–1, for all of the traditional flour. The gluten-free cookies spread more, resulting in a thinner cookie. But the taste is fantastic.

Cousin Betty’s Espresso Chocolate Swirl Cookies

For the dough

  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 c. powdered sugar (plus a little extra for forming the cookie rolls)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. ground espresso
  • 2 c. flour [substitute gluten-free all purpose baking flour for gluten-free recipe]

Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and espresso. Stir in the flour until just combined—don’t over mix. Form the dough into two balls. Roll each into a coil, between 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ in diameter. Roll up into wax paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. Slice into 1/8″ disks. Bake for 12-14 minutes. While they are cooling, prepare the ganache.

For the ganache topping

  • 1/4 c. cream or half and half
  • 1 Tbsp. ground espresso
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine the cream and ground espresso, gently heat until it barely starts to sizzle, turn off the heat, and let steep for two minutes. Strain through a coffee filter into the top of a double boiler. Add in the chocolate chips, and still until just melted. Fill a zip lock bag with the ganache, snip a small hole in the corner and pipe swirls onto each cookie. When cool, wrap  cookies in airtight container.

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For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties, You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

Chocolate Babka

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I’ve made coffee cakes from Ida’s Yeast Dough for years, but have never rolled and filled them to make a chocolate babka. The fun part was coming up with a flavorful, deep chocolate filling, and then rolling, scoring, and twisting the cakes.

The dough

Make one batch of Ida’s Yeast Dough. Cool for several hours or overnight.


Make the filling

Combine all ingredients and microwave until just melted. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stopping to stir to avoid scorching.

  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. dark cocoa
  • 1//2 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Prepare two loaf pans

Lightly grease each pan, then fit with parchment, leaving overlap on the long sides of the pan.

Make the cakes

Divide the dough in half. Roll each into a 20″ x 15″ rectangle, using plenty of flour to avoid sticking. Evenly spread half the filling over the dough. Starting on the long edge, roll the dough very tightly into a long coil. Take a very sharp knife and cut through the coil down its length, into about half of the coil’s depth. Carefully lift one half of the coil and place over the other half, to make a twist—keeping the cut side up. Create one more twist, moving one end of the coil over the other—again keeping the cut side up. Tuck the remaining dough under the end and place the cake into one of the prepared pans. Loosly cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40–45 minutes, or until nicely browned, and the bread has an internal temperature of 190–200 degrees.

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(above) After the dough is rolled out, evenly spread on a thin layer of the chocolate filling. Roll it up, and slit it down the length before coiling and placing in the prepared pan (below).

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Ida’s Yeast Dough Coffee Cake and other delicious recipes are included in my new 86-page baking cookbook, You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries


The Plate is My Canvas is a book!

I’m thrilled to announce that The Plate is My Canvas is now available as a book, and includes many recipes from this blog.
The Plate is My Canvas: Recipes and Stories from My Family’s Interfaith Kitchen, 222 pages.

I’ve also published two books that are excerpts from “The Plate.”
—For just the Passover recipes, most of which are included in the “The Plate,” Essential Passover from Scratch: Recipes and Stories from My Mother’s Kitchen, 72 pages.
—For the very best of my baked goods—cookies, bread, coffee cakes, etc., You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries, 86 pages.

These projects started as this food blog! From there emerged the iNosh iPad app (no longer available), and now the books. My goal in making printed copies of The Plate is My Canvas was to pass down my family’s traditions to my children, and I presented them each with the big volume in December of 2018. It’s taken a while, but now the books are available to others.