A Weekday Treat—Overnight French Toast


Number 2 pencil, nerdy t-shirt and a plate of French Toast—Max is ready for his test.


I haven’t made this recipe in years, and then two things happened that brought it to mind.

1. Molly came home from her math tutor’s house with three large loaves of day-old bread. There was no explaination as to why she was given the bread, nor where it came from. We hypothesize that the tutor thinks we are a pauper family with 8 kids—a least that was Molly’s first thought and she right away informed the tutor that there are only three kids in the family. 2. Tomorrow is the beginning of AP test week—no wait it’s only the first of two AP test weeks—at our over-achieving, why bother with college when you can take 2 dozen AP classes in high school high school. (I know that my editor friends will be all over that sentence, but that’s what you get from a designer.) Anyway, nothing like a good breakfast before an AP Computer Science test, right? A great use for old bread, and what a wonderful treat for a weekday breafast.

Overnight French Toast

  • 1 loaf french or Italian bread, sliced thick

The night before: Mix the following together in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. grated orange or lemon rind
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar (I used white)
  • 1 or 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

Arrange the bread slices in the pan, on top of the egg/milk mixture. Wait a minute and then turn them over. Cover and place in refrigerator over night.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes on a side.

Here is the bread, ready to be tucked in for the night:


Maralee’s Moroccan Stew-Soup

Morrocon stew. To make it a soup just add more water or stock.

My sister’s kitchen always smells good. She is a master at soups. When we were at her house last week she made this dish, using many things that were picked fresh from her garden. It was delicious. This is my attempt at it. I’ve included some meat, but it is equally good as a vegetarian dish.

Moroccan Stew

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 pound beef, cubed (I used some stew meat)
  • 4 c. kale, chopped (reserving 2 cups)
  • 3 c. chopped sweet potato
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. raw red lentils
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes, chopped + 2 cans water
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (or 1/2 c. raw)
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. allspice

In a large soup pot, brown the meat (if you’re using it) in the oil, and then add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft. Add everything else except for 2 cups of the kale. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for several hours. Taste and adjust for any of the seasonings you’d like to have stronger. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the reserved kale. This will add a bit of brighter green to the dish, as well as a little bit of crunch.

Serve with rice, and some hot sauce on the side.

To  make as a soup, add some additional water or some stock.


These are best when served right from the pan, and plopped into a bowl of chicken soup.

My mom would make kreplach every Yom Kippur. I don’t think I’d tasted one in over 20 years, but in my mind I could TASTE them, and finally I broke down and made some. With thanks to Cousin Betty and sister Maralee for helping to jog my memory, since all I had was a scrawled note of my mother’s with the recipe for the dough.

Every culture has their dumplings: pierogi, gyoza, wonton. The Jews have their kreplach. The triangular kreplach from my mother’s kitchen are made with a dough that is part mashed potato and part noodle. For the frugal-minded cook, a little piece of a leftover roast is the basis for the filling. They are first boiled, then fried— there is nothing better!

Fry these until they are nicely browned and crisp.

Gently boil for 5 minutes before frying.




For the filling

  • 1 c. cooked beef, loosely measured, then ground
  • 1/3 c. grated raw onion
  • 1–2 Tbs. oil, if your meat is very dry or lean
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ tsp. seasoned salt
  • For the dough
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 medium potato, boiled



Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Prepare the filling

Mix together the ground beef, onion, oil, egg, and salt.

Make the dough

Using a fork, beat the egg, mix in the flour and salt, then mash in the boiled potato. On a lightly floured board, knead the dough for about a minute, adding only a little more flour as necessary.


Divide the dough into two halves. On the floured board, roll into a rectangle, about 8˝ x 10˝, then cut into 2˝ squares. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the corner of each square. Put a little water into a small dish, dip your finger, and wet two adjacent edges of the dough square. Fold one half of the dough over to meet the wet edges, forming a triangle, then press to seal well. Continue filling and sealing all of the kreplach.


When the water has boiled, drop the kreplach, in batches, into the boiling water, lowering the temperature so that they cook at a low, easy boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove, using a slotted spoon, to a cookie sheet.


In a deep pan, pour in about 1/8˝ of oil. When very hot, add the kreplach, cooking in small batches. When browned, turn over to cook on the other side. Remove to drain onto a paper towel. Serve while very hot and crisp, with a bowl of homemade chicken soup.


I’m sorry to have not posted in a while, however, the Walker Cafe is temporarily closed while we relocate out of state. The cook is busy packing boxes,  and of course the kitchen needs to remain pristine or no one will buy this house. But be patient. I will cook up many more ideas come September when the Cafe sets up shop in our new kitchen.

Meanwhile, please check out some of last summer’s salad ideas. Here are some of my favorites:

Colorful Salad Bar

Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing

Chicken salad, Fish salad and Egg salad

Pink Slaw

Cold lamb salad

Lemon Asparagus

Our friend Molly introduced us to this. If you love asparagus, this is a fresh new way to taste it.

Lemon Asparagus

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil

Take the zest from half the lemon, then juice from the whole lemon, and set aside. Place the asparagus in a shallow baking dish, toss with the oil making sure the stalks are evenly coated, and arrange them in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Remove from oven, drizzle on the juice and top with the zest.

Hero Mother and Mothers of Invention: Mom’s Lasagna and Turkey Cobbler

My mother made good on her promise.

My mother was a hero.

In January of 1978 my brother Richard and his wife were flying home from their vacation, and would be stopping by my parent’s home to pick up Sam, their dog. Sam had been my dog, but since moving into their new home which was all decorated in white—white wool carpet, white sofa, white upholstered dining room chairs—and with me off at college, the dog had gone to live with Richard. I was six when my mother promised me that I could have a dog, but only if I could wait until I turned twelve. I didn’t mention the dog thing again until my twelfth birthday and then, surprisingly, my mother made good on her promise. I think she felt guilty that I would be home alone, with the last of my three older siblings heading off to college. The fact that my mother took me shopping for a puppy is the first example of my mom as a hero, since she was not a dog person (note the white carpet and white furniture). In addition to a lot of white, the new home had slick parquet floors, in a great open area which at its longest spanned 55 feet, and which sat atop 6″ of hollow-core concrete slabs. My dad was in the precast concrete business and there was a lot of structural concrete in the new home. After over 25 years (they had paid off the mortgage) in a 1920’s era home with the creakiest of floors, my father was proud of the solid floors in this new dream house. One could sneak from room to room in the new house without the slightest sound. There was no give to these floors.

Mom had prepared Richard’s favorite lasagna for dinner, and it sat on the counter waiting to go in the oven. A proficient multi-tasker long before they had a word for it, she phoned the airline to see when the plane would be arriving at O’Hare, and while on hold she took a minute to lay down the phone and run into the other room for a moment. Mom always had hot feet and instead of shoes or slippers she wore those nude-colored knee-high stockings. She had a drawer stuffed with hundreds of them in all shades of nudes and beige and taupe. As she ran into the other room, while the airline played hold-music, she slipped on the smooth parquet, and her hip landed right on that 6″ of immovable, hollow-core concrete, and broke.

Realizing that it was painful to walk, Mom crawled into the kitchen and somehow put the lasagna in the oven. She managed to get to the couch to wait until my brother arrived and called an ambulance. On her way out the door, on a stretcher, she told us when the lasagna would be ready and that we should be sure to check on it and sit down to eat it while it was hot. My hero.

An old recipe, with my regards to Dan Quayle.

–  –  –  –  –

I didn’t break anything, I only had a cold, and so I can’t claim to be anywhere in a league with Ruth Gordon. Yet even though I was feeling ill I felt compelled by that mysterious, maternal force to produce a meal.  The day before I had taken out the bag of frozen turkey scraps which had been in the freezer since Thanksgiving, and it was time to use them or toss them. As I lay in bed all day, feeling sorry for my pitiful virus, I contemplated the thawed turkey scraps and how I had planned on a lovely pot pie for dinner. Feeling the need to make dinner, and also feeling very lazy, I made a hurry-up version of a pot pie, making more of a cobbler than a pie. I made pot-pie filling as usual, poured it into a casserole dish, then mixed up a batch of biscuits in the food processor and glopped on bits of the biscuit dough on top of the filling,

Last night we had Turkey Cobbler for the third night in a row. Max asked me how much more of it there was and when I replied, sheepishly, that he must be sick of it, he said, “No, I could eat this every night for weeks! I love this!” I think I just invented Max’s favorite dinner, which I can make when he comes to visit me some day, when I’m watching his dog. I will endeavor to be a heroic mother. I will not, however, ever have a home that is decorated in all white.

With a father who loves biscuits and gravy, and a teenage boy's love of carbs, it makes sense that this is Max's new favorite meal.

Maralee’s Spaghetti Lasagna

My sister Maralee’s dinner tonight sounded so wonderful that I asked her to take a picture of it and write about it for my blog. This is from Maralee.

Last week I was having the Crystal Lake Interfaith Clergy Group over to the synagogue for lunch, and I bought all the ingredients for lasagna.  Then it turned out we had some lasagna in the synagogue freezer, made by the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys in their social action group, and we had to use up before Passover.  So there I was—stuck with the ingredients, which I brought home.  Tonight I decided to use those ingredients to make lasagna at home, but there was one problem—we try to only use whole wheat pasta, and the leftover noodles were white!  This is how I came to invent a new dish:  Spaghetti Lasagna.  It’s a quick dish to make, and here is how I did it:

Spaghetti Lasagna

  • Barilla Italian Bake Pasta Sauce, 2 jars (or use your favorite)
  • Ricotta cheese, 32 oz.
  • Shredded Mozzarella, 16 oz.
  • Shredded parmesan, ½ cup
  • frozen chopped spinach, ten oz. package, thawed
  • sliced baby portabella mushrooms, half a pound, uncooked
  • spaghetti noodles, 1 lb., uncooked

In a 9×13 Pyrex dish pour a little of the sauce from each of the jars to cover the bottom.

Lay half the spaghetti length-wise to cover the entire dish—you might want to break some in half to fill in the ends.

Pour the rest of one jar of sauce over the spaghetti and place sliced mushrooms over the sauce to cover (some slices were too thick and I sliced them thinner).

Spread half the ricotta over the mushroomed sauce (I spread it by hand).

Sprinkle half the mozzarella over the ricotta, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan,

Lay the other half of the spaghetti over the cheese,

Mix the spinach with the rest of the sauce and spread over the spaghetti,

Finish off with the rest of the ricotta followed by the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake for 50 minutes.

Here we are, happy together in my kitchen, last year at Pesach.


Serve this piping hot over rice.

My boys love curry, and since they’ve been pretty nice to me this week I decided to make it for them—from scratch. The last time I made curry, however,  was from a bar of curry which came in a small green box, purchased from the Japanese grocery store.  The bar came segmented into squares, and resembled a large, yellow bar of chocolate; the instructions were to melt a quantity of segments into a pan to instantly create a curry sauce. Since I have recently become morally opposed to instant anything, I decided to plunge ahead and recreate the dish that I’ve eaten countless times. My boys are very happy to report that I got it exactly right—rich, thick and spicy.


  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups chicken stock*
  • 1-1/2 c. cubed chicken
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 3 carrots, chunked
  • 3 potatoes, chunked
  • 4 T. curry powder, or to taste
  • 2 T. ground cumin seed, or to taste (click here to see how to grind your own)
  • salt
  • 1 c. frozen peas

– other optional ingredients could include: cauliflower florets, pineapple chunks, peppers cut into 1/2″ squares

– to make this a vegetarian curry, simply omit the chicken, boost the quantity of vegies, and use a vegetable stock

In a large saucepan (one with a lid), saute the onion in the oil. Stir in 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 tablespoon of the ground cumin seed, the garlic and the bay leaf. Stir until well mixed, then add the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Add the carrots and potatoes and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Cover and simmer over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through. Add more stock as needed, to maintain a sauce-like consistency. Taste and add more curry powder and cumin, and salt to taste.

*To make your own stock:

  • 6 chicken legs
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • salt

Before you begin the curry, trim off meat from the chicken legs, leaving a little meat on the bones. Place the 6 bones in a small sauce pan and cover with about 4 cups of water. Add the bay leaf and about a teaspoon of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. By the time you have cut up the vegetables and meat for the curry, and sauteed the onions and chicken, your stock will be ready to use.

Love Mom’s soup

I road my bicycle to work today. It was quite pleasant but at 33 degrees and the wind in my face, I wanted to make soup as soon as I got home. Over the past few years, I’ve taken some liberties with my mother’s classic vegetable soup by adding a can of black beans, some basil, garlic, some kale or maybe some sweet potato. It’s almost always delicious, but it hasn’t been tasting right to me. The best part about making Mom’s recipes is that they evoke such strong memories of family. It’s not quite like having my mother in the house, but it certainly works on many levels. So I thought I’d post this recipe again (first posted last March 25), with its original directions.

Ruth Gordon’s Vegetable Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced thin
  • 1/3 c. chopped parsley (or a whole parsley root if you can find one)
  • 1 14 oz. can tomatoes, chopped
  • 2/3 c. frozen peas
  • 2/3 c. frozen beans
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • a small handful of oats
  • a small handful of rice
  • a small handful of barley
  • salt to taste

In a large soup pot, saute the onion in the oil, add all of the rest of the ingredients and cover with water. If you’re lucky enough to find a parsley root, peel the root, leave on any greens, and throw the whole thing into the pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for at least 1-1/2 hours, keeping over a low heat until serving, and cooking all afternoon if you like. Remove and discard the parsley root before serving the soup.

A family classic: Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (sweet and sour)

Once a year, after the really big cabbages arrived in the store, Mom would make stuffed cabbage. This was a family delicacy and we four kids loved this dish. I remember taking a piece of that good white bread Mom would buy and dunking it right into the serving bowl, and then eating the soggy, sweet, orange-colored slice.

The recipe was lost, but my sister recently found it scrawled on the back of an envelope. Mom’s version called for using the juice from a jar of sweet pickles but, quite honestly, even though it was common practice when I was a kid, the thought of using that now makes me a little ill. Tonight I made it without the pickle juice, and I think it’s a perfect taste-replica of Mom’s recipe. Unfortunately, unlike me and my siblings, 2/3 of my kids won’t even taste it, and I made 15 pieces. Fortunately, it does quite well in the freezer.

makes about 15 pieces


  • 1 large cabbage, approx. 4 lbs.
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 28 oz. can tomato puree plus ½ can of water
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • 12 ginger snaps
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ½ c. raisins
  • 9 oz. prunes, pitted
  • salt
  • flat toothpicks


1. Core the cabbage and place it cut side down in a large pot filled with a few inches of salted water. Steam the cabbage for about 10–15 minutes, run it under cold water, and gently remove the outermost, steamed leaves. Return the cabbage to the pot and steam again, repeating as necessary until you can easily remove all of the biggest leaves. Chop up the center of the cabbage and set aside.

2. In a very large roasting pan or deep soup pot, add the tomato puree, water, sugar, vinegar, ginger snaps, onion, raisins, prunes, the reserved chopped cabbage and 1½ teaspoons of salt. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.

3. While the gravy is heating up, prepare the cabbage rolls. Mix the ground beef with 1 teaspoon of salt.

4. Roll up a 2″ x 1″ oval portion of meat inside a cabbage leaf, and secure with a toothpick.

Place each roll, toothpick side down, into the pot, on top of the gravy. Chop up any extra cabbage leaves and put them, along with reserved chopped cabbage, into the pot. Simmer, covered, for about 3 hours, basting occasionally, until the leaves are very soft and somewhat transparent, and the meat is fully cooked. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Click here to watch a video of rolling up the cabbage.

Place the cabbage rolls on the gravy.

These are best served over rice or on top of egg noodles.


This recipe is included in my cookbook:

The Plate is My Canvas: Recipes and Stories from My Family’s Interfaith Kitchen


Written in the style of a family memoir, with stories from the author’s family, this book includes all of the Jewish classics, from rugelach to latkes. Married to a Lutheran man, Walker learned to cook her husband’s family’s classics as well—with help from her mother-in-law’s handwritten recipes. Stunning photographs accompany each recipe. A perfect gift for an interfaith family.