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Baked Farmers Cheese Mobile
Baked Farmer's Cheese with Cinnamon, Walnuts and Raisins

This recipe is an excerpt from:
Remaining Kosher Volume One: A Cookbook for All with a Hechsher in Their Heart
UDJ Productions All text © 2016 Lauren Stacy Berdy
All photos © 2016 John White
All other rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

Lauren Stacy Berdy earned her professional diploma from Ecole de Cuisine, La Varenne Paris, France in 1978, then spent a few years working in Europe before bringing it home. She spent more than three decades as a private chef-caterer. She now resides 130 paces from the beach with her husband in Hollywood, Florida, where she wrote Remaining Kosher Volume One: A Cookbook For All With A Hechsher In Their Heart. This eBook is available on iTunes. Volume Two is well on its way.

Baked Farmer’s Cheese 
with Cinnamon, Walnuts and Raisins

Too much mystery surrounds the making of foods we love to eat. This easy recipe is a perfect example of what has way too much mysticism attached to it.
Well, I tear away the curtain here. Nothing will come between you and the success of achieving this Lower East Side favorite. As always, my interest is to get you into the kitchen.Start with store-bought farmer’s cheese; wind up with a perfect demonstration of our forefather’s inventiveness.
The neutrality of plain farmer’s cheese goes way beyond its original intentions here. Not exactly a cheesecake, but your mouth might think so.
A miniature aluminum foil loaf pans are a perfect mold for these babies.The Lower East Side of New York remains alive in all of us.

• ½ cup walnuts: toasted and “broken up”
• 1lb. farmer’s cheese
• 4 tablespoons honey
• 1 cup yellow raisins
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Yield: 1 mini loaf (weighing 1½ lbs.) – scale up as needed
Special Equipment: toaster oven, clean kitchen towel & bowl, oven broiler, mixing bowl, wooden spoon, parchment paper, baking mold or disposable aluminum mini loaf pan (6” x 3½” x 2”)

At least two hours before assembly:
Open the farmer’s cheese and discard the packaging.
Place the wet farmer’s cheese in the middle of a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the towel snugly around the cheese, bringing all four sides into the middle.
On the flat surface of a cutting board, press the towel into the cheese- it’s okay to break it up.

Toweled Cheese Mobile

Turn it over and press down the other side. Place the toweled cheese in a bowl and refrigerate to absorb the cheese’s remaining whey content.
Keep wrapped for at least 2 hours- overnight is fine.

Mold Berdy Mobile

Prepare the mold: Cut the parchment paper so it conforms to the lines of your chosen mold. The parchment is just there to insure ease while unmolding and soak in any extra whey.
Toast the walnuts until they are fragrant. Cool.Break up the large pieces using your hands or knife. Set aside.
When ready to proceed, turn on your oven’s broiler to its highest setting. 
Unwrap the cheese and place in the mixing bowl. Add in the walnuts, honey, yellow raisins, cinnamon and salt.

Nuts walnuts Berdy Mobile

Use a wooden spoon and/or spatula to break up the cheese clumps. Mix the ingredients until they are all well blended.

Break up clumps Mobile

Of course, you could use your bare hands as well.

scrape blended contents Mobile

Scrape the blended contents into the middle of the mixing bowl.
Place the bowl over mold and scrape it all in. Press the contents towards the edges and evenly distribute the cheese evenly in the mold.
Put the mold on a baking sheet and place it directly under the broiler.
Depending upon the broiler’s strength, the cheese will begin to bubble and color during the first three minutes. Wait until the surface appears spotted and darkened. This may take anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes.
Do not overcook- the cheese will not be creamy!
Set your baked cheese aside. Cool to room temperature, wrap and refrigerate.
Slip the cheese out of the mold and peel off the parchment. Platter the cheese. 

Serve with bread or crackers. Apple and pear slices are delicious additions. Cut and core the apples and pears into wedges, then toss with a few drops of lemon juice. Surround the baked cheese.

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What's Kosher at the Zoo?

We assigned our roving reporters (Shaya, Sara, Rivky, Bracha and Tehilla Scher) to The Maryland Zoo during Chol Hamoed Passover with a mission to find the kosher animals. Armed with their cameras and a picnic lunch - Shaya took the lead and filed this report!

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is a great place with many interesting animals. Here are some of the animals we scoped out:


In order for an animal to be kosher, it needs to have hooves that are totally split. At the zoo, there were a number of animals with split hooves. The goats in the goat corral at the zoo were a good example. We enjoyed petting and brushing their fur while getting a close-up, hands-on look at their hooves. Another feature of kosher animals is that they chew their cud. Whenever they eat, the swallowed food comes back to their mouth and the animal chews it again. Additionally, an animal may not be eaten if there is no tradition passed down from generation to generation concerning its kosher status.
Although not known by many people, giraffes are kosher animals. The reason giraffes are not eaten by Jews is that there is no tradition passed down about them being kosher . We had a very good view of these beautiful and amazing animals at the zoo. In fact, the zoo offers a giraffe encounter station where you can feed a giraffe and the giraffes are close enough to pet, although we couldn’t do this- zoo rules. Also not commonly known, deer and gazelle are kosher. The Maryland Zoo includes the African gazelle and sitatunga, a kind of deer found in Africa. We enjoyed viewing all of these animals at the zoo.

Kosher Eaters
Many animals at the Maryland Zoo have kosher diets. Here are a few of them. Each penguin eats one pound of anchovies, a kosher fish, every day. Of course, all herbivores have a kosher diet. We fed the giraffes a bunch of acacia browse, a type of plant. But flamingos have a very non-kosher diet. They eat shellfish, fish, worms, insects, algae, seeds, and plants. At least the plants are kosher! In fact, Flamingos get their pink color from the shrimp they eat! 

Kosher Shofars
At the Maryland Zoo, a variety of animals have horns. Could you use them for a Shofar?


1. A rhinoceros is not kosher so you can’t use its horn for a Shofar.
2. A warthog is also not kosher so its horn can’t be used. Also, a warthog’s horns are not really horns. They are overgrown teeth and are actually tusks.
3. A gazelle is kosher so the horns are kosher for a Shofar.
4. An elephant is not kosher and it has tusks, not horns, like a warthog.
5. A goat is kosher, so its horns are kosher.
6. Even though a cow is kosher, its horns are not kosher shofars. This is because the Torah describes the cow horn as a keren instead of a shofar.

I had a very enjoyable time visiting the Maryland zoo with my family. The animals are a true reflection  of the diverse creatures that exist in all parts of the world. It would be a shame slaughtering them to eat. Instead, come to the Maryland zoo to see all these amazing wonders of Hashem. 

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Wines of the Year

KosherWine Wines of the year 240w
For the first time ever, has released its Top 100 list where the team selects the most exciting wines of the year from the thousands that they carry. Click here to see the list.

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Lauren Berdy hamentashen Mobile
Parve Hamantashen Revisited 
A hamantash is a piece of pastry first and foremost. The dough that forms the famous triangle is just as important as the filling.

You want the crust to be notable. Have I got a dough for you! It is parve, it is easy to work with and it will spark your mouth’s interest.
It is made on the shoulders of the mighty halvah and its cousin tahini. Halvah and tahini have a long storied history of being used in baking.
I would be the last to say that I was an originator. I have just continued that conversation. Once the dough is made, all those “hats” need filling.
Apples, dried figs, prunes and apricots are calling out to me. I answered that call and present my own musings.


Parve Sweet Pastry Dough Ingredients
¼ cup ice cold water
3 extra large egg yolks, checked
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup sugar
½ cup vanilla halvah, packed like brown sugar
1 tablespoon tahini, stirred, creamy
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested (optional)
flour for rolling
egg wash
1 extra-large egg, checked
3 tablespoons tap water

Yield: about 45 hamantashen


Pastry Method
This dough is made in a standing mixer with batter hook attachment.
Prepare the ice water: in a measuring cup, add ½ cup cold tap water and toss in a couple ice cubes. Set aside.
Prime the other ingredients.
Pry the packed, measured halvah out and place into a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds to soften. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together over the standing mixing bowl.
Place the sugar, egg yolks, softened halvah, tahini, optional lemon zest into the bowl.
Attach the batter hook. On medium speed blend ingredients until crumbs are formed.
Discard the ice and pour off all but a ¼ cup of ice water.
Pour in the water and add in the lemon juice. Blend all the ingredients together just until a dough is formed.
Remove the finished dough. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before use.
This dough can be also be wrapped in parchment and then sealed in plastic this way for three days, or keep frozen for about two weeks.

Line baking pan(s) with silpat mat(s) or parchment paper.
Make the egg wash. Beat the egg and the water together.
Cut the dough in half. Refrigerate other half.
Preheat oven to 350 ºF (convection when available).
On a liberally floured work surface. Roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Dust the surface with flour as necessary.
Use a 3” round cutter or a drinking glass to cut out as many circles as possible. Place the dough circles on the prepared baking pan(s).
Reform scraps and repeat.
Chill the circles until firm- about 30 minutes.
Make more circles with the other half of the dough, or seal and refrigerate or freeze.
Remove the chilled circles from refrigerator. Brush the top of each circle with egg wash.
Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle.
Fold in the sides to form a triangle. Pinch the dough to enclose the filling.
Brush the entire surface of the each pastry with egg wash.
I like to shower each piece with sugar, it adds crunch. It’s up to you.
Bake the pastries in the center rack of the oven until golden brown on the edges. About 20-25 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes; then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Four Fillings
Berdy Fillings Mobile

Tangerine Filling


1 tangerine: peeled for the zest
1 cup pitted prunes, well packed
¼ cup tangerine juice
¼ cup sugar


Use a vegetable peeler to zest the tangerine. You want the zest, not the white pith.
Place the peels into a saucepan. Cover the peels with tap water. Bring to a rapid boil then drain. Repeat two more times.
Cut the remaining naked tangerine in half. Squeeze out the juice. You need ¼ cup of juice. Add water if necessary. Set aside.
Place the prunes, tangerine peel, juice and sugar into a microwavable bowl. Seal with plastic wrap.
Cook for 2½ minutes.
Plop and scrape it all into the standing mixer and purée.
Scrape into a jar or container. Refrigerate.

 Fig-Rose Filling


 Filling Ingredients (yields about 1½ cups)
1 cup dried brown figs, stemmed, well packed
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons rose water or rose syrup
optional: 1 tablespoon dried rose petals: plucked and checked
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Place the stemmed figs, water and sugar into a microwavable bowl. Seal with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2½ minutes. Remove.
Pluck the optional rose petals.
Scrape cooked figs and all into the standing mixer. Add the rose water or syrup, lemon juice and optional rose petals. Purée. Taste, add more rose water or syrup to suit.
Scrape into a container or lidded jar.

Apple-Raisin Filling (yields about 1½ cups)


3 large golden delicious apples; peeled and diced
¼ cup yellow raisins
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


Peel, core, slice and dice the apples into smaller pieces- about 4 overflowing cups.
Combine the apples, raisins, water, sugar and cinnamon stick into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.
Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the apples are very tender while stirring frequently- about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Use a potato masher or fork to gently mash apples until mixture is very soft but still chunky. Cool completely.
This filling can be made 2 days ahead: just cover and refrigerate.


Apricot Lekvar with Bitter Almonds yields about 1 cup)


½ tablespoon bitter almonds (a.k.a. dried apricot kernels), toasted
1 cup dried apricots, well packed
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup tap water
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


Preheat toaster oven or oven to 350 ºF.
Toast the bitter almonds for 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Combine the apricots, sugar and water in a microwave bowl. Seal with plastic. Microwave for 2½ minutes.
Scrape the cooked apricots into a standing blender. Add in toasted bitter almonds, almond extract and lemon juice. Purée.
Scrape into a container or a lidded jar.


Lauren Stacy Berdy earned her professional diploma from Ecole de Cuisine, La Varenne Paris, France in 1978, then spent a few years working in Europe before bringing it home. She spent more than three decades as a private chef-caterer. She now resides 130 paces from the beach with her husband in Hollywood, Florida, where she wrote Remaining Kosher Volume One: A Cookbook For All With A Hechsher In Their Heart. This eBook is available on iTunes. Volume Two is well on its way.

Rethinking Sweet Parve
Even with more than three decades of culinary expertise it was always challenging when working kosher as a caterer to create parve desserts. I have tasted many parve cookies, cakes and pastries that are disappointing to eat. They give taste the skip. The fact is that most parve sweets, even homemade ones, have been co-opted by faux industrial ingredients like margarine. Margarine and I have no real relationship. It is like the friend of a friend of another friend. It’s a stand-in replacement. It is really just tasteless oil.
But nothing says that cannot be changed constraints can sometimes teach us more about ourselves. We are not bound by tradition. We do not have to be bullied by ingredients. Maintaining the Kosher standard has less to do with wishful thinking and fast substitutions and more to do with just being in the nature of all things kosher.
My personal take on cooking kosher food is simple. It is valued because it invokes a delicious idea not just an adherence. My desserts are no different.
I have adopted another point of view, a new direction. I want to get the past into perspective. My interest is to start a sweet parve conversation. Think of this as parve ecology.
I changed the way I viewed sweet parve by changing my attitude towards it. I have faith in my skills. They have supplied me with a living for many years.
Our world is filled with wonderful sun filled ingredients, splendid staples like extra virgin olive oil, halvah and tahini.
I would be the last person to say that I am an originator of anything. All it takes is a sudden leap of thought to transform what seems like an elusive subject like non-dairy sweets and make something not only delicious but also memorable. A sideways glance can rotate one's point of view.
It is my hope in sharing these recipes that I help to expand the landscape of tempting parve sweets. Choices abound and many new roads have been explored. It’s all in the laws of succession. Replacement rather than continuity!
Also, I ask you who doesn’t appreciate a delicious cookie.


Recipe:Kosher, parve, dessert, Purim

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Wholly Wholsome logo
The foundation for Wholly Wholesome was paved in 1972 in Morristown, New Jersey when Bob Wintz began a family business to bring baked goods to consumers. As the years passed and the company prospered, the Wintz family expanded their business and founded the Run-A-Ton Group.

Wholly Wholesome™ was born in 1996, founded by Bob’s son, Doon Wintz. It is a company dedicated to both quality and taste for the ingredient conscious consumer, with products “that taste as good or better than any other baked product in both the natural foods and conventional market”.

pieblueAs part of the Run–A–Ton Group, Doon Wintz along with his corporate team combined their passion for natural foods and great baked goods, with a commitment to wholesome, yet tasty baked foods and ready to bake products. Wholly Wholesome pie shells are parve.

product pie shells and gf‘Tis the season for baking pies! These “bake at home” pie shells and pie crusts are naturally wholicious and a great base for homemade pie filling. Just keep them frozen until you are ready to bake! Or, buy the pie dough and roll it out yourself when you need it. Wholly Wholesome pie shells are "guilt free" and taste homemade. We are longtime fans because the products are made without the use of animal products, artificial ingredients or hydrogenated fats. They are kosher certified OU Parve- and free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors and sweeteners.

For more information, visit

Enjoy this recipe for Chocolate Angel Pie made in a Wholly Wholesome pie shell!

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