Yom Kippur & Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes

Roasted Whole Grain Buckwheat, Bow Tie Pasta,
Caramelized Yellow Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms, Parsley

Irving and Fanny Hirsch

The holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur begins in a few hours, at sunset. Last night we made Kasha Varnishkes. It always brings back memories of Nana and Auntie Edythe. This year my version of Kasha Varnishkes (also called Kasha & Bows) is heart healthy, high in fiber, and includes wild mushrooms. Auntie Edythe would prepare hers with lots of kasha in proportion to the bows. My recipe is more like a pasta dish with buckwheat, mushrooms and onion.

My Nana was born in Kiev, Russia 1894. The family fled to Canada to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl. Her name was Vitte but she took her sister’s name, Fanny, after Fanny was killed in a machine accident. She met my Papa (paternal grandfather) when they were teenagers and their families were living in the same apartment complex in Montreal. His name was Yitzcok when he was born in Romania 1891 but changed it to Isadore upon arrival in Canada when he was 13 years old. He celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on the boat.

Fanny and Isadore married then made their way to America and settled in Chicago where Papa took the name Irving, and they raised their children, Edythe (back, center right in photo) and Leonard (my father, far left in photo). Sitting next to Aunt Edythe is her husband, my Uncle Sydney, and his mother, Rose. On the other side is my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Mickey (Papa’s youngest brother).

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Aromatic Mahi Mahi & Pineapple Soup


Mahi Mahi Soup with Pineapple, Tomato, Bean Sprouts, and Bok Choy
flavored with
Lemongrass, Shallot, Vietnamese Fish Sauce, and Fresh Cayenne Pepper
garnished with
Cilantro, Mint, and Lime

Fish, fruit, vegetables and aromatic herbs combine to make this simultaneously spicy, sour, sweet, and savory soup. Mahi mahi (aka dorado and dolphinfish) has a mild flavor similar to swordfish and a firm meaty texture with large moist flakes. This recipe features wild-caught mahi mahi from the Pacific waters off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup (which is traditionally made with a whole catfish, including the head and bones) was the inspiration for this fast, easy, and heart healthy incarnation.

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Heart Healthy Roasted Chile “Cream” Sauce

Wild-Caught Columbia River Sumac-Dusted Salmon
Fresh Steamed Broccolini
Roasted New Mexico Hatch Chile “Cream” Sauce

They are roasting up a storm in Hatch, New Mexico. And we are fortunate that our local Bristol Farms is carrying this fresh crop of Hatch chiles. If you cannot get Hatch chiles where you live, please try this sauce with roasted Anaheim, New Mexico, or poblano chiles. Rich and creamy with medium-hot spiciness, this savory sauce is terrific on fish, chicken, vegetables, rice, and tacos! And it’s heart healthy – made with tofu, canola oil, roasted chiles, cilantro, cumin and lime juice. No cream.

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Ultimate Crostini

toasted french baguette
mashed mayocoba beans with rosemary
chopped fresh baby spinach/ sesame rice wine vinaigrette
savory sautéed mushrooms/ roasted hatch chiles

Here is an über-flavorful appetizer certain to appeal to all of your guests: gourmet, cholesterol-conscious, vegan/vegetarian, and meat-eaters alike. It’s a creamy mayocoba bean mash with fresh rosemary, tender baby spinach dressed with a slightly sweet and toasty vinaigrette, meaty mushrooms, and smoky medium-hot chiles all layered atop sliced toasted baguette.

The inspiration for this crostini came from a favorite salad: Grilled King Trumpets & Shishito Peppers on Rosemary Skewers over Spinach and Roasted Soybeans. The combination of flavors and textures in the salad is extraordinary. Here, similar ingredients are terrific together arranged on slices of toast.


The Hatch Chile Festival is coming up on September 4th and 5th in Hatch, New Mexico, the “Chile Capital of the World.” Fresh Hatch chiles are only available for a limited time at our local market here in LA, and since we can’t attend the festival, we’ll be stocking up! Roasted chiles can be frozen and enjoyed throughout the year. Our first dish of  Hatch chile season is Ultimate Crostini.

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