confessions of a modern mom

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Not Your Bubbe’s Gefilte Fish

Not Your Bubbe’s Gefilte Fish

Let’s say this right off the bat: I love gefilte fish. Smothered in spicy horseradish, this appetizer that has been made by generations of grandmothers in my family makes me feel connected to my past. I have hosted Passover in my home for over a […]

Your Own Personal Exodus: A How To Guide

Your Own Personal Exodus: A How To Guide

Last week, I was invited to speak at my synagogue as part of a lecture series about Pirkei Avot (Sages of our Fathers) – a compilation of sayings and wisdoms from Rabbis about moral and ethical principles. I was asked to select an adage that […]

Gluten Free Sufganiyot

Gluten Free Sufganiyot

What??? Yes, you read it right. I’ve been toying around with this for a while now…how do I make GF donuts so that my Celiac-suffering friends and family can enjoy this Chanukah treat beloved by so many? This recipe gives you all the flavor of […]

Light and Fresh Corn Soup

Light and Fresh Corn Soup

I must confess, I have a corn obsession. I love corn – raw, boiled, in a souffle, as a soup. I love it. I know, we’ve heard alot about the evils of corn. And yes, when it is processed down to its parts for corn […]

Why you should VOTE!!!

Why you should VOTE!!!

Every time there is an election, I get excited. We live in a country where we are free to choose our government officials – the very people who will make decisions that impact our lives on a daily basis. We are also free to speak […]

Another bun in the oven?

Another bun in the oven?

I have some exciting news to share. Nope, I’m not pregnant, though it does feel like I just delivered a baby… My first cookbook is published and available for download (ebook) and order (hardcover)! Seasoned Moments | Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur: Recipes for a Happy […]

The Chocolate Cake for Everyone

The Chocolate Cake for Everyone

More and more, I hear from friends that they have a food allergy or that their child does, which makes playdates, birthdays and dessert-time very challenging. The other day, we had a friend over. Her mother hadn’t mentioned any food sensitivities, but it got me […]

Opening Alert: American Cut Bar & Grill

Opening Alert: American Cut Bar & Grill

It’s been a few years since we moved out of New York City and we are still discovering the New Jersey dining landscape. To say it doesn’t compare to NYC is hilarious, I mean who are we kidding??? In a one block radius, NYC beats […]

Holy cow! I mean, chicken…

Holy cow! I mean, chicken…

Call me crazy, but I was afraid of roasting a whole chicken. I had different reasons not to try it – it is just as cheap to buy a roasted chicken at Fairway/Wholefoods/Other grocery store as an uncooked one; roasted chicken is dry; I was a […]

An Asian Twist to an Old Classic for Chanukah

An Asian Twist to an Old Classic for Chanukah

There has been a frying fiesta going on in my house. Chanukah celebrates the miracle of just a tiny bit of oil lasting for eight whole nights. It is only appropriate to give oil a central role in this holiday. Therefore, the two cardinal foods of […]


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Perfect for Spring: Best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER!

Perfect for Spring: Best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER!

Happy holiday to all celebrating this week – whether it’s Passover or Easter.

I am feeling fantastic today. My house is starting to come together 3 weeks (today!) after we moved in. We’re starting to really feel at home. Monday night was a big contributing factor: we hosted 34 of our closest family and friends for our first ever Passover Seder.

The table is set

I went food shopping on Thursday and started cooking on Saturday morning. I cooked and baked for 15 hours the first day. On Sunday, I spent 9 hours in the kitchen. Then, three hours were spent ironing napkins, setting the table, making place cards and making floral arrangements. By Monday, I had less to do than normal (which is usually half the cooking and setting up!!!). It is quite incredible how much easier it is to prepare a feast in a large kitchen with multiple ovens. Wow.

I’m really starting to appreciate the positive difference between city apartment living and the spaciousness of a house. I didn’t feel stressed out or cramped. I didn’t have to put things out in every room because the kitchen could barely hold a cookie sheet. Seriously, in our last kitchen, my counter was the size of a jelly roll pan and my oven was pretty small. Here’s the new kitchen:

 

Ahhhhhhh, space!

I can’t tell you how much I love this kitchen!!! First of all, the wood floors are so kind to my legs and back. Although I was standing on them for three days straight, my legs were no where as bad as they have been in the past when I’ve worked on harder surfaces like marble or ceramic tiles. Second, the space. I’m not the neatest cook (yeah, I make a total mess) so this kitchen enables me to spread out and NOT have to constantly do the dishes. The sink is the size of a trough, so I can stack quite a ridiculous amount of dishes before it needs to be cleared out.

But, as usual, I digress.

I made a lot of food. I got so excited at the grocery store that I made waaaaaaaay too many side dishes! Here’s the menu:

For the cocktail hour, we served cooked salami, chopped liver (I love making it because it’s so easy and soooooooo gooooooood) and an egg and onion salad that my aunt makes which always brings me back to childhood.

During the Seder: charoset, homemade horseradish (my aunt made the red, I made the white), potatoes and eggs in salt water.

Appetizers
Gefilte fish (my aunt makes the most incredible gefilte. It melts in your mouth and has the perfect flavor profile)

Chicken soup  with parsley-dill-garlic-pepper Matza balls

Mains
Coffee rubbed Brisket with caramelized onions

Sweet and sour chicken (my cousin Debbie made an amazingly delicious chicken that disappeared due to it’s yumminess. I was lucky to save a piece for my midnight snack that night)

Pistachio and parsley crusted cod

Sides
Roasted sweet potatoes with figs, scallions, cherry peppers and garlic in a pomegranate glaze

Mashed potatoes with schmaltz and chives

Potato leek kugel

Tsimmes (Zack’s aunt Marsha uses a fantastic mix of carrots, sweet potatoes and fruit to create a sweet, salty and heavenly concoction)

Mushrooms with pine nuts, onions, garlic and zaatar

String beans with crushed salted almonds and garlic

Steamed broccoli

Eggplant roasted with garlic and red pepper flakes (This one was all Zack – start to finish – and it was delish)

Desserts

Meringue kisses with hidden chocolate

Fudgy brownies

Carrot cake

Sponge cake

Orange cake (thanks, again, to cousin Debbie: she cooks, she bakes and she rocks)

Jelly thumbprint cookies

Matza almond toffee crunch (this stuff may be more addicting than crack)

Needless to say, there was a ton of food. I could have fed another 20 people, easy. Luckily, we love this food, so we’ve been eating it ALL week.

Now, I’m giving you my absolute favorite recipe because it really shocked me with its goodness. I love carrot cake. I always give people and restaurants the benefit of the doubt and try their carrot cake. In my many years of tasting the stuff, I have had too many dry, brittle and tasteless carrot cakes. I have also had plenty of Kosher for Passover cakes.

WARNING: I’m about to toot my own horn here. I have never had a Kosher for Passover cake this good and that I will be making all year round because it was so amazingly delicious. This is a moist, flavorful and scrumptious cake. You can’t just have one slice. At least I couldn’t. I ate about 1/3 of the cake. I am dreaming of the cake right now and may have to make it again this weekend. Yes, it’s just that great.

So, here is the recipe:

Best Carrot Cake Ever – for Passover and All Year Round

  • 1/2 pound carrots
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup matza meal
  • 1/4 cup matza cake meal
  • 1 1/4 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel carrots. Cover peeled carrots with water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until they are fork tender. Puree the carrots using fork (or hand blender) and set aside.
Beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until there are glossy stiff peaks. Set aside.
In the mixer, beat the egg yolks until very pale. Add the rest of the sugar and beat until very thick.
Blend the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Add dry ingredients, vanilla extract, orange juice, and lemon zest to the eggs. Mix until just blended.
Add carrot puree and mix just until blended.
Fold in the egg whites until just blended.
Spray/oil/butter just the bottom of the pan. Pour in the cake batter. Bake cake until it springs back when gently pressed in the middle: 40 minutes.
I served the cake as is, but you could make a cream cheese frosting to cover the cake. That would make it even more supercalifrajalisticexpialidociously delicious.
This is an easy cake to bake with a HUGE payoff. Trust me. This one will impress.
Wishing a Happy Passover to those celebrating. A lovely Good Friday and Happy Easter to others celebrating. And, a lovely spring to all.