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 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. Let rise for 30 minutes.

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.

A new twist to an old slaw

This wasn’t fancy, but in addition to adding a little sparkle to last night’s dinner, we all had a delicious serving of raw broccoli. Raw broccoli—not my favorite way to enjoy a vegetable, but this is lovely! It’s light, fresh, and lemony, with the seeds adding a wonderful nutty depth.

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Lemony Broccoli Slaw with Sunflower Seeds

  • 1 12-oz bag broccoli slaw
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • juice of one juicy lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash of garlic powder
  • a grind of fresh pepper
  • 1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice, stir in the sugar until dissolved. In a larger bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Serve with an extra sprinkle of sunflower seeds.


Turkey not your thing? Try a cranberry cholent for Thanksgivukah.



  • ½ pound dried cranberry, pinto or butter beans, or 1 15-oz can
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 pounds brisket
  • 2 large onions, sliced thick
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, chunked
  • 4 large carrots, chunked
  • 1 28-oz can whole plum
  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tbs. thyme
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • coarsely ground pepper
  • tomatoes


  1. Soak the beans overnight, then cook in salted water, along with the whole garlic cloves and bay leaves, until just barely tender.
  2. When the beans are ready, season the brisket with salt and pepper and place into a large roasting pan. Cover with the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes (with juice) and cranberries. Spoon on the cooked beans along with 1 cup of the bean broth. Sprinkle with the thyme and a few more grinds of pepper.
  3. Cover tightly and bake at 325˚ for 4-5 hours.

Whole Wheat Carrot-Apple Muffins

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

Carrot Apple muffins

Grab one of these on your way out the door!

When enjoying a breakfast muffin, our family likes to feel like we are eating more than white fluff with a streusel topping. These muffins have carrots, apples, nuts and raisins. Made with whole wheat pastry flour, they are still light, but with a complex flavor. Pair one of these beauties with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese and you’ve got a neat little breakfast for your sprint out the door.

Whole Wheat Carrot-Apple Muffins (makes 16)

In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 c. white; 1 c. whole wheat)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda

Fold in:

  • 3 large carrots (grated) — about 1-1/2 c.
  • 2 large apples (peeled and grated ) — about 1-1/2 c.
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. raisins, dates or a mixture
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

Stir in:

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Spoon into greased or papered muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Graduation Hummus


After five years of high school (he wasn’t slow–it was a 5-year high school), Max is now a free man. With the weight of school off of his shoulders he wandered into the kitchen and asked if he could help with dinner tonight. I was making Cholae, an Indian garbanzo bean dish, with Indian Fried Rice. Max made the rice while I made the cholae.

I had cooked up enough extra garbanzo beans so that we could make hummus. The last time Max and I made hummus together it was fantastic—made from freshly cooked garbanzo beans the hummus tastes light and fresh, far superior to store-bought. It’s always my preference to cook from scratch, for the health benefits, the artistic enjoyment of creating a beautiful meal, as well as the cost. Tonight we wrote down what we did.

Hummus can be made from canned beans, however, although it takes longer to make from dried beans (they take about 3 hours to cook) we think it’s worth it. Shop at an ethnic market, where the prices are far lower than in the chain grocers.

Graduation Hummus

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.

  • 2 c. dried garbanzo beans (also called chick peas or chana)
  • 8 c. water
  • 1 tbs. salt

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

  • 4 c. cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 c. liquid
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil (optional)

You may also add some chopped parsley and/or a little paprika.


Jam with Mom

Strawberries are ripe now—those exquisite locally grown berries with the delicate skin. I picked up a flat at the Vienna, VA farmers market, which gave us enough to eat, and plenty for jam. The greatest thing about this, the first of the season’s jam, was that Max asked me if he could help. We think that he is prematurely homesick. And being the good scientist, always looking for a better way, he suggested using a pastry cutter to chop the berries.


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: