Baking cookies alleviates cabin fever

Brown butter almond tuiles (Barbara Silverstein photo)

Shabbat Shalom! Social distancing week two is almost over and I’m adjusting to cabin fever. However, as long as it’s not COVID-19, I’m not complaining. Being in relatively good health is something to be grateful for these days.

I’m staying indoors most days and I’m watching a lot more CNN. I haven’t seen my children or grandchildren for almost two weeks, but my husband is home with me 24/7. He’s not working for the time being and he’s been doing a lot of cooking.

I don’t think our kitchen is big enough for the two of us. But I’m learning to tolerate his encroachment into my space…as long as he washes his pots and pan.

This past week I combatted cabin fever by testing cookie recipes for Passover. I always taste the food I test to make sure the recipes work. However, without my kids around, well those cookies have been disappearing fast…and my husband is not the culprit.

The truth is that I could not resist eating the cookies I made from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s recipe for Brown Butter Almond Tuiles from their book, Sweet. I adapted the recipe for Passover with one main ingredient change – I substituted potato starch for the flour.

I also skipped the step of browning the butter because I was lazy. Instead I melted the butter in the microwave and then cooled it as the recipe instructs.

What’s Passover without brisket? I’ve included the late Norene Gilletz’s famous Coke Brisket, from her book, Healthy Helpings, the updated version of Meal Leani Yumm!. Why use cola? In her book she says that it makes the meat tender.

The other Passover staple, at least in my house, is Matzah Brie. I included a recipe for this Passover favourite because I liked the tips given by Devorah Kahan and Rachel Moskowitz in their new kosher cookbook called, ONE POT, ONE PAN: Super Simple, Easy and Delicious Recipes for Beginners, Balabustas and Everyone in Between. 

Kahan and Moskowitz also offer a recipe for Meat Matzah Pizza, which they say is a “twist on pizza.” They recommend this dish for a hot meal for Chol Hamoed.

Brown butter almond tuiles (Barbara Silverstein photo)

BROWN BUTTER ALMOND TUILES (Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh)

40 g (3 tbsp) butter, cubed

210 ml (1¼ cups) sliced almonds

140 ml (½ cup +1 tbsp) granulated sugar

60 ml (¼ cup) potato starch

2 large egg whites

3 ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Melt the butter in a microwave dish 20-30 seconds and let cool. Place the almonds, sugar, and starch in a large bowl and then add the cooled butter. Add the egg whites and vanilla and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Drop tablespoons of the almond mixture onto the prepared baking sheet spaced about 5 cm (2 in.) apart. Flatten the mixture down by patting them with moistened fingers. Keep a small bowl of warm water nearby to dip into. Continue to fill up the pan with the rounds of almond mixture keeping the rounds 6 cm. (2½ inches) apart.

Bake for 12 -18 minutes depending on the heat of your oven (convection ovens bake faster). Rotate the pan after 6 -9 minutes for even baking continuing baking until the tuiles are golden brown all over.

Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the tuiles to cool for 5 minutes before gently transferring them with a small metal spatula to a wire rack until they cool completely. Makes about 20 cookies.

Coke Brisket (Doug Gilletz photo)

COKE BRISKET (Norene Gilletz)

3 onions, sliced

2- 2½ K (4½ – 5 lb) beef brisket, well-trimmed

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper, to taste

5 ml (1 tsp) dried basil

15 ml (1 tbsp) paprika

60 ml (¼ cup) apricot jam

60 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

250 ml (1 cup) diet cola

Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Place onions in pan; place brisket on top of onions. Rub meat on all sides with garlic, seasonings, jam and lemon juice. Pour cola over and around brisket. Marinate for an hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 165°C (325°F). Cook covered. Allow 45 minutes per ½ kilo as the cooking time, until meat is fork tender. Uncover meat for the last hour and baste it occasionally. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate overnight, if possible. Discard hardened fat which congeals on the surface. Slice brisket thinly across the grain, trimming away any fat. Reheat slices in the defatted pan juices.

Yield: 12 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.


Matzah Brie (Devorah Kahan and Rachel Moskowitz photo)

MATZAH BRIE (Devorah Kahan and Rachel Moskowitz)

1 sheet matzah


1 egg

Salt and pepper or sugar and cinnamon, to taste

15 ml (1 tbsp) oil


Crack the matzah into large pieces, about 6 -9 cm (2-3 inches). Soak in room-temperature water to cover for 5 minutes to soften. Drain all excess water.

Crack the egg into a bowl, add salt and pepper or sugar and cinnamon and beat with a fork. Add soaked matzah and mix.

Heat oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Add the matzah mixture and fry while stirring until egg is thoroughly cooked.

Note: You can add the spices/sugar either before or after frying. If you are cooking for multiple people, you may want to leave it out and let everyone choose what they want.

Tip: You can break up the matzah either before or after you soak it, depending on how small you like the pieces.

If you break it up after it soaks, the pieces will be bigger. If you want small pieces, place in a Ziploc bag before you soak it and crush or pound it until pieces are the desired size.


Meat Matzah Pizza (Devorah Kahan and Rachel Moskowitz photo)

MEAT MATZAH PIZZA (Devorah Kahan and Rachel Moskowitz)

½ lb. (225 g) ground beef

30 ml 2 tablespoons oil

1 small green pepper, sliced

1 small red pepper, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

4-5 white mushrooms, sliced

10 ml (2 tsp )salt, divided

225 g (8 oz) marinara sauce

1 ml (1/8 tsp) onion powder

1 ml (1/8 tsp)ground cinnamon

1 ml (1/8 tsp) garlic powder

2-3 sheets matzah


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with foil.

Place oil in a frying pan and heat over a high flame. Add vegetables and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they are tender but still have a bite to them. Remove from fire and add 1 teaspoon salt; transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same pan, brown ground beef over high heat until it’s cooked through and no longer pink.

Turn off flame. Add marinara sauce to meat and add remaining 1 teaspoon salt and spices.

Place matzah on baking sheet and spread a thin layer of meat over it. Top with sautéed veggies. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 2-3 servings.

Tip: If you are making this meal for a crowd, you can sauté the vegetables and cook the meat the night before. This ensures minimal prep time the next day, as all you have to do is assemble the pizzas and bake. Also, you can use leftover Bolognese sauce for the meat if you have it on hand.