A Recipe For Nostalgia, And Ambivalence

Whether you’re newly arrived or a veteran citizen, a recipe from ‘Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking’ works for Thanksgiving.

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Almost 40 years ago, just in time for the holidays, the young Anya von Bremzen and her refusenik mother Larisa Frumkin stepped onto American soil. The experience fell far short of any émigré fantasy, but became fodder for a high-flown food career and a book, “Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking” (Crown), published earlier this fall. Even today, von Bremzen remembers the hardships and weird pleasures of that first Chanukah and Thanksgiving in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Von Bremzen and her mother, Larisa Frumkin, emigrated together and cook together. Michael Datikash

Comfort Food, Israeli Style

Whip up a hearty pot of couscous and vegetables for dinner.

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The first time I ever had this dish - or a version of it - was when I was studying in Israel for a year after high school, and it was a frequent dinner option. We laughed about it - the watery vegetables and the tasteless couscous, but we often preferred it to the other dorm-food options, like dried out pizza or fake chicken nuggets filled with corn.

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini, peeled and diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-3 cups water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup instant couscous

An Easy-Bake Sufganiyot Alternative

Forget the Cronut; dig a Duffin for a simple, no-fry Thanksgivukah dessert option.

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Just in time for Hanukkah, with its glad ritual consumption of doughy, fried sufganiyot, comes news of a doughnut that’s got the bakery world in a tizzy -- and it's not the Cronut.

1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Orange, Meet Chocolate

Wow your guests with a luxurious chocolate orange tart.

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As summer turns to fall and winter approaches, bright, colorful berries are replaced with flavorful citrus on supermarket shelves. And I love baking with citrus - particularly the peel, since it is just so jam-packed with taste. Lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit all pack a powerful punch in just a little zest.

This recipe, which I first learned in pastry school, is a wonderful vehicle for citrus's bright flavors, paired with rich chocolate. It's a bit technically advanced, but if you've been cooking and baking along with me all this time, I think you can do it.

330g (2 2/3 cup) flour
28g (1/4 cup) cocoa, sifted
225g (1 cup/2 sticks)butter
115g (1/2 cup) sugar
2g (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla
57g (one extra large) egg
180g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
60g (1/4 cup) sugar
zest of one orange
170g (about 8-9) yolks
100g semisweet chocolate
30g (3 tbsp) brandy

Mediterranean-Style Sea Bass

Mix up a marinade that enhances the subtle flavors of fresh fish.

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I truly believe that when you start with good quality, fresh fish, you don't need to do too much to it. The fish should taste delicious on its own. The sauce or marinade should simply enhance the flavors that already exist. That's why this recipe works so well. The paste made of sun-dried tomatoes, capers, scallions and garlic is rich but simple. It brings out the flavors of the fish and makes a perfect lunch or dinner dish. It also looks stunning.


3 tablespoons capers, drained
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomato slices, plus 3 tablespoons of the oil
4 scallions, white parts only
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 sea bass fillets, about 6 ounces each, skin removed

Crispy, Garlic-y Potato Stacks

Turn the humble potato into a show-stopping side dish.

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I always joke with my friends that if I were ever to write a cookbook, it would be an all-potato cookbook. Yes, I have professional training in baking and pastry, but my heart belongs with potatoes. Roasted, fried, mashed, kugels or latkes, I love them in every form.

About 1 pound potatoes (3-4 large)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
salt and pepper

A Twist In The Tale

Have fun with your friends and family by serving these trompe l'oeil chocolate pretzel cookies.

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In this world, there are fancy, dainty, tea party cookies, and there are fun, childish, novelty cookies. These fall squarely into the latter category - not because of the flavor, which could rival any fancy treat, but the shape, mimicking pretzels, right down to the sprinkle of "salt."

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
demerara or turbinado sugar, for decoration

Cheesy, Buttery Squash Manicotti With Sage

After a successful prayer for autumn rain, comfort food is in order.

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Even after the long cycle of fall holidays has ended and most sukkahs have been put back in storage until next year, many foods that traditionally symbolize the holiday will remain on our tables for several months. Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period spent by the ancient Israelites wandering in the desert; but it is also associated with the autumn harvest, much like Thanksgiving. While the crops in modern America may be different from those in ancient Palestine, the same concept applies: It’s time to change our menus!

1 package manicotti (boiled as per instructions, or can use raw)
4 pounds butternut squash
2 scallions or 1 onion
3 logs goat cheese (about 3/4 pound)
1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese or Gruyere
3 to 4 tablespoons milk (more if not pre-boiling the manicotti)
1 stick butter
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
14 sage leaves
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Beets: Beautiful, Flavorful, Sweet

Vibrant fall colors make for a beautiful dish.

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I've had plenty of food in my day that looks fantastic but tastes mediocre, and food that is delicious but needs a little sprucing up. So when the two combine, and food is as "wow" as it tastes, it's a really special thing.
One of the things that makes food look so appealing is vibrant colors. Fall is a great season for that, and this dish combines beautiful jewel tones with great flavors.

4 medium beets
2 medium-large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

A Transporting Treat

Savor the end of blueberry season with a dessert that moves easily from kitchen to sukkah.

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Blueberry season is just coming to an end, so take advantage of this recipe to utilize the last surge of berries in these cute, pop tart-like desserts. Of course, in the United States you can buy berries almost year round, and frozen would work as well here.

The juices of the blueberries have a tendency to ooze out as they cook, even if you seal the edges as best you can: It doesn't really bother me, I kind of like the "rustic" look.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks/225g) butter or margarine, diced and frozen
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
About 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
coarse sugar
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