Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Articles written by Sonya Sanford


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  • Japanese-Style Latkes for Chanukah

    Sonya Sanford|Dec 1, 2023

    This recipe was first published on The Nosher. The Japanese word "okonomiyaki" is derived from two words: okonomi (how you like it) and yaki (grill). Okonomiyaki is a customizable Japanese savory vegetable pancake. Like a latke, it gets cooked in oil in a fritter formation. Unlike a latke, it's usually made into a large plate-sized pancake comprising mainly cabbage. Food historians have linked the rise in popularity of okonomiyaki in Japan to World War II, when rice was more scarce and this reci...

  • Apple and Honey Ruffle Milk Pie Recipe

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 15, 2023

    This story originally appeared in The Nosher. Ruffle milk pie is a Greek dessert made with a simple custard base and rose-like coils of phyllo dough. It’s a type of galatopita (Greek for pie made with milk) that is very similar to the Middle Eastern dessert muakacha (Arabic for wrinkle), which is also known as a crinkle cake. Crinkle cakes had a viral TikTok moment last year, and it’s obvious why ruffle pies have become so popular: they’re easy to make and result in a gorgeous, golden brown dess...

  • My family's Soviet-era Rosh Hashanah dinner is all about delicious food and freedom

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 15, 2023

    This story originally appeared on The Nosher. Most of my American Jewish friends ate brisket, kugel and babka at their family High Holiday feasts. I often imagined what that would be like, curious about the dishes that were so popular with my friends but were never served in my own home. In my Soviet immigrant family, our holiday meals looked quite different. Typically, my maternal grandmother, Mira, hosted both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at her home. These meals always had a very specific...

  • These old-fashioned Apple Dumplings are my Rosh Hashanah comfort food

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 15, 2023

    Old-fashioned apple dumplings are made with peeled and cored-out apples that get encased in pastry or biscuit crust and are baked until golden and tender. For hundreds of years, apple dumplings have remained a classic comfort food both in the States and across the pond in England. Descriptions of this dish appear as far back as the early 1700s, and apple dumplings were famously Thomas Edison’s favorite food. This dessert has remained popular in the United States for hundreds of years, from New E...

  • Apple Matzah Kugel recipe

    Sonya Sanford|Apr 7, 2023

    This recipe originally appeared on The Nosher. Apple matzah kugel is a classic Ashkenazi Passover dish. Just like many noodle kugels, this is a sweet kugel that is meant to be served with the main course at the seder. For a modern twist and some textural contrast, a simple streusel topping is added to the kugel for a nutty, sweet, crunch on top of the soft apple filling. Warmed-up leftovers make a perfect breakfast, served with a little yogurt or a drizzle of cream on top. And we won't tell if...

  • The Indian Jewish chicken recipe you're going to crave

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 2, 2022

    There is no substitute for eating a dish in its place of origin, preferably made in a home kitchen by hands that hold the muscle memory of thousands of meals. For me, a close second is stumbling across a recipe, trying it out, and feeling transported to a new place by its flavors. The vastness of the Jewish Diaspora has gifted us with a wealth of interesting types of culinary mergers, and I particularly love exploring the Jewish food of India, where Jewish communities date back thousands of years. There are three distinctive Jewish Indian...

  • Israel's favorite no-bake chocolate balls

    Sonya Sanford|Jul 22, 2022

    Kadorei shokolad (chocolate balls) are one of Israel’s most popular desserts. Like many of the world’s most comforting foods, these sweet treats can typically only be found in home kitchens. They’re made with a few simple pantry staples, including ubiquitous Israeli tea biscuits. While the exact origins of kadorei shokolad are unknown, the recipe was first published in 1975 by Israeli cookbook author, Ruth Sirkis. Sirkis deeply influenced Israeli home cooking, and she is often referred to as th...

  • Russian Jews are obsessed with this salad

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 3, 2021

    Health salads - sweet and tangy slaw-like, cabbage-based salads that often include carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers - are a fixture of New York Jewish delis. They're sold by the pound in the deli case or sometimes generously arrive alongside your complimentary plate of pickles. While the dressing is typically sweetened with sugar, the purported "health" is derived from the volume of raw vegetables and the notable absence of mayonnaise. If you're from New Jersey, you may also know this dish...

  • How to make pampushky, the Ukrainian garlic bread rolls that dreams are made of

    Sonya Sanford|Apr 9, 2021

    Pampushky are fluffy, soft Ukrainian garlic bread rolls. Ukraine was known as the "breadbasket" of the Soviet Union, and both garlic and bread are staples of the cuisine. These rolls are traditionally served alongside borscht; the garlic's sharpness compliments the sweetness of its beets. Garlic and bread is such a common side to borscht that my own grandparents would often simply eat slices of brown bread and whole raw cloves of garlic with their soup. I was first inspired to make pampushky...

  • Zucchini Baba Ganoush: Use all that summer squash for a rich dip

    Sonya Sanford|Jul 26, 2019

    By the end of the summer, I’m always looking for ways to use up all the summer squash that is inevitably overgrowing in my garden. Making a baba ganoush-like dip with zucchini is my favorite way to use up this versatile vegetable. Like eggplant, the traditional baba ganoush base, zucchini will easily blend up into a creamy dip. Unlike eggplant, it makes for a lighter, airier and softer textured baba ganoush. Whether you’re using eggplant or zucchini, the vegetables benefit from being blackened. You can achieve a smoky char by broiling the zucch... Full story

  • These 3 easy tahini sauces spice up dinner

    Sonya Sanford|May 31, 2019

    Basic tahini sauce is made with a mixture of tahini paste, water, lemon juice and garlic. Tahini paste itself is made from toasted ground sesame seeds. Both tahini paste and tahini sauces are staples of Israeli cooking. Tahini has a nutty flavor with subtle bittersweetness. Its flavor is mild, its texture is creamy, and it can act as a canvas for an array of flavors from fresh herbs and spices to sweeteners and yogurt. Here are three of my favorite takes on tahini sauces: spicy gochujang... Full story

  • 'Old school' Passover popovers make a comeback

    Sonya Sanford|Apr 19, 2019

    Passover popovers fall into the category of "old school" Jewish food. Like mandel bread or matzah brei, they're one of those dishes my grandmother always made during the holiday. These recipes were popular in a time when every baked Passover dish seemed to be made of matzah meal and before there was an abundance of grain-free flours and quinoa. You'll find recipes for these popovers in classic Jewish cookbooks, and I think they deserve some renewed attention. The batter for these popovers is... Full story

  • Cabbage Schnitzel Recipe

    Sonya Sanford|Mar 8, 2019

    Schnitzel is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It’s hard not to like a food that is fried and golden brown. Schnitzel is commonly made from chicken or veal, but you’ll also find vegetarian versions made from celery root or, in this case, cabbage. Any recipe for schnitzel always catches my eye, and I’ve often come across cabbage schnitzel in Russian and Eastern European cooking. Meat in that part of the world could be scarce, and cooks came up with creative solutions for making vegetables taste richer. Cabbage also often was one of the only... Full story

  • Pink pickled turnips taste as good they look

    Sonya Sanford|Mar 8, 2019

    Pink pickled turnips are a fixture of Middle Eastern cuisine, and it’s hard to find a restaurant shawarma plate without them. Their rose-like magenta color makes you forget that these pickles are in fact made from an often overlooked root vegetable. Their seemingly unnatural pink color is not a result of synthetic food colorings, but comes from the addition of red beets that impart their deep-hued color to the white-fleshed turnips as they ferment. Turnips have a sharp mustardy flavor that is similar in pungency to a radish, and that becomes me... Full story

  • Egyptian Golden Potato Soup Recipe 

    Sonya Sanford|Nov 16, 2018

    (The Nosher via JTA)-Egyptian Jews comprise one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. There have been waves of Jewish immigration to Egypt over centuries: Sephardic Jews arrived during the Spanish inquisition, Ashkenazi Jews fled there from Eastern Europe during the pogroms of the 19th century, and Jewish traders from the Ottoman Empire settled after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In the 1950s, Egypt began to expel its Jews following the creation of the State of Israel. Like... Full story

  • Georgian-Style Stuffed Tomatoes Recipe

    Sonya Sanford|Sep 21, 2018

    (The Nosher via JTA)-There can never be too many tomatoes. August's heat is always made more bearable for me by peak tomato season. I love to eat them cut into thick rounds and topped on crusty well-buttered toasted bread, or chopped small in a simple Israeli salad alongside cucumber and herbs. Stuffed vegetables of all kinds were regularly made and eaten in our home, just as they are in many other Russian Jewish kitchens. Stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers and stuffed mushrooms are regional... Full story

  • Your new favorite Israeli condiment: Amba, a pickled mango sauce

    Sonya Sanford|Jul 13, 2018

    (The Nosher via JTA)-If you've been to a falafel or shwarma stand in Israel, then you have probably heard of amba. It's a spiced pickled mango condiment whose popularity in Israel comes by way of the Iraqi Jewish community. This flavorful condiment is commonly found in Iraq and across the Middle East, as well as in India. In fact, amba originated in India, and the word means mango in Marathi. You can find countless recipes and variations for amba, but the main and required ingredient is mango.... Full story

  • No-Bake Strawberry Coconut Pie for Passover

    Sonya Sanford|Mar 23, 2018

    (The Nosher via JTA)-I first tried raw vegan coconut cream pie years ago at Café Gratitude, one of the popular plant-based restaurants in Los Angeles. Café Gratitude is a quintessential healthy L.A. eatery. The menu features dishes with titles like "I am bountiful" and "I am cosmic" (which you are semi-forced to say out loud as written). Those dishes might include heirloom grains, fermented vegetables, turmeric or seaweed. The servers often have ethereally glowing skin and offer you an i... Full story

  • The Indian-Jewish chicken recipe you're going to crave

    Sonya Sanford|Mar 16, 2018

    (The Nosher via JTA)-There is no substitute for eating a dish in its place of origin, preferably made in a home kitchen by hands that hold the muscle memory of thousands of meals. For me, a close second is stumbling across a recipe, trying it out, and feeling transported to a new place by its flavors. The vastness of the Jewish Diaspora has gifted us with a wealth of interesting types of culinary mergers, and I particularly love exploring the Jewish food of India, where Jewish communities date... Full story

  • This White Bean Soup has a secret Israeli ingredient

    Sonya Sanford|Dec 29, 2017

    (The Nosher via JTA)-I recently stumbled upon a Yemenite Jewish cookbook from the early '60s called "Yemenite & Sabra Cookery," by Naomi and Shimon Tzabar. It's the type of cookbook I especially love to discover; the kind that covers a rare topic and is unusually designed. This one has beautiful wood-block print images scattered throughout. The recipes are more like sketches of how to make something rather than being clear directives. The first page of the book features a recipe for zhug, a clas... Full story

  • Japanese-Style Latkes for Chanukah

    Sonya Sanford|Dec 15, 2017

    (The Nosher via JTA)-The Japanese word okonomiyaki is derived from two words: okonomi "how you like it" and yaki "grill." Okonomiyaki is a customizable Japanese savory vegetable pancake. Like a latke, it gets cooked in oil in a fritter formation. Unlike a latke, it's usually made into a large plate-sized pancake comprising mainly cabbage. Food historians have linked the rise in popularity of okonomiyaki in Japan to World War II, when rice was more scarce and this recipe offered a filling meal... Full story

  • The easiest Jewish comfort food of my childhood

    Sonya Sanford|Dec 1, 2017

    (The Nosher via JTA)-Noodles and cottage cheese was the defining dish of my childhood. I think of it as the Eastern European version of boxed macaroni and cheese-a culinary staple of youth. Whenever I bring up noodles and cottage cheese in conversation, it always elicits a strong reaction: Either there is an immediate enthusiastic nostalgia associated with it, or instant confusion and/or disgust. I've found little neutrality on the subject. The polarity of responses inspired me to do more... Full story

  • Matzah Ball Pho recipe

    Sonya Sanford|Oct 27, 2017

    (The Nosher via JTA)-Growing up in Seattle, it's easy to fall in love with pho. Nearly as ubiquitous as coffee shops or teriyaki spots (yes, teriyaki), pho restaurants seem to be just around every corner of the city. They welcome you in from the cold and the rain with their steamy glass windows and equally steamy giant bowls of soup. Pho (pronounced fuh) is a traditional Vietnamese soup that was popularized around the world by Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Pho... Full story

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