The Shabbat table – Save room for the cheesecake!

Baked cheesecake (Wikimedia Commons photo - zingyyellow - )

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! If you’re looking for easy, delicious recipes for Shavuot, Shabbat, or any time at all, check out Nealy Fischer’s new cookbook: Food You Want for The Life You Crave.

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone craves solutions for making meals simpler and healthier. Whether you’re a parent feeding a family of four, or cooking for just one or two, you’re probably really busy juggling all of life’s obligations. And you probably just want to sit down for a meal that didn’t take you all day to prepare that will leave you feeling as good as it tastes. With more than 100 delectable kosher and gluten-free recipes, Nealy Fischer, kosher chef, author and founder of The Flexible Chef, has created a collection of recipes that helps you do just that. It is the ultimate assortment of energizing yet crave-able dishes that save time and banish meal prep stress.

With Nealy’s Flexible Flips, home cooks can mix, match, and substitute ingredients to make any meal fit for any meal preferences. Some Flips health-ify recipes (think pizza quiche that tastes just like a real slice of pizza); other Flips transform taste, giving you ultimate freedom to be creative, just like a real chef. Have a flop? No worries—there are Flips to salvage those burned brownies or under-baked banana bread. Recipes include: Sarah’s Meltaway Brisket, Carrot Croquettes, Roasted Cauliflower Shakshuka, and Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie.

Nealy says: “Many of us feel bound by the culinary standards we impose on ourselves. The unrelenting pressures of today’s world can leave us desperate for a secret ingredient to change all of that. My hope is for this book to serve as a blueprint if you’re tired of needing to have it all—but still desire a taste of it. After years of trial and error, I’ve honed a system (and a way of cooking) that helps make each day less harried and more enjoyable. The key? Flexibility.”

The following recipes are excellent additions to the gluten-free kitchen. As an added bonus, they provide dairy-free choices for family and friends. For more recipes, cooking videos, and information about Nealy, see Enjoy!



Steps: Coat, Bake!

Adapted from Food You Want for The Life You Crave by Nealy Fischer

Nealy shares: “This is one of the more stunning ways to serve a whole salmon fillet. You’ll crave the crispy browned edges as they blend with the succulent, herby, nutty topping. I love having friends over for casual weekend lunch buffets, when I serve this fish accompanied by a bountiful display of salads. After lunch, we all go for a hike, topping off a day made in healthy heaven.”



2 Tbsp olive oil

3-pound side of salmon, whole, skin-on

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



2/3 cup gluten-free cracker crumbs

2/3 cup almond flour

4 Tbsp butter, melted

Handful of roughly chopped fresh basil

1 tsp dried or fresh rosemary

Pinch of salt (see note below)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the olive oil over a large baking sheet.
  2. Place the salmon on the baking sheet, skin side down, and spread the mustard and honey over the flesh. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all the coating ingredients. Use your hands for easy mixing (but wear gloves if you have a fresh manicure).
  4. Sprinkle the coating over the top of the salmon, making sure you have an even layer that covers all or most of the flesh.
  5. Bake for 20–30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a knife inserted in the centre reveals that the salmon is opaque and cooked through.

Makes 10 servings


Nail This:

  • You’re looking for the salmon skin to bubble and the topping to crisp up, forming a deliciously buttery, flavourful crust.
  • If you’re using (already salty) cracker crumbs, add only a pinch of salt to the coating. If you’re using almond flour only, or in combo with breadcrumbs, increase the amount of salt to 1 teaspoon. Adjust to taste.
  • If your salmon is larger, make extra mustard and honey and double the coating if you need more.

Flip It:

  • Use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of cracker crumbs, or use all almond flour. Crackers really add the best crisp, but these options will do if necessary.
  • Get a skinless fillet if you prefer to go “naked,” or use pre-cut salmon pieces instead of a whole side of fish.
Cauliflower Crunch Tabouli (Nealy Fischer photo)


Steps: Chop, Toss!

Adapted from Food You Want for The Life You Crave by Nealy Fischer

Nealy adds: “There’s nothing ordinary about this stunning herb-specked, grain-free tabouli. Raw cauliflower and pine nuts take centre stage and combine to add an unexpected and essential nuttiness and colour that elevate the dish. This recipe takes just minutes to whip up and seconds to devour. It’s crunchy, fresh, and the very definition of craveable clean food that makes you want more. I really shouldn’t play favourites, but this salad may well be my favourite!”


1/2 head purple or white cauliflower, core removed

3 Persian cucumbers, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, chopped

1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped

2 Tbsp finely diced red onion

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, pressed (optional)

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup chopped pine nuts, toasted


  1. In a food processor, chop the cauliflower into 1/4-inch pieces. Do not over process. Alternatively, chop it by hand.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cauliflower, cucumber, tomato, mint, parsley, and red onion.
  3. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic (if desired). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with pine nuts just before serving.
  4. Serve immediately, or it may be made an hour ahead. If making in advance, toss the pine nuts in right before serving so they stay crunchy.

Serves 6

Nail This:

  • Because the fresh, raw ingredients are the centrepiece here, only make this recipe when you have access to the freshest herbs and cauliflower.
  • Nuts are crucial. They add an essential favour and crunch that are unexpected and should be included.

Flip It:

  • Use any colour cauliflower you can find.
  • Substitute another nut for the pine nuts. Toasted would be yummiest.
  • Add chopped anything! Red bell peppers and olives are favourite flavour profiles.


Unbelievably Dairy-Free Cheesecake (Nealy Fischer photo)



Steps: Mix, Cream, Bake!

Adapted from Food You Want for The Life You Crave by Nealy Fischer

Nealy says: “My diners are usually stunned that this cheesecake is dairy free—it’s really that good. In truth, it’s more decadent than I like to admit, and we serve it only occasionally (to my kids’ dismay). I’m breaking my own flexible rules by sharing it with you because this cake contains one ingredient that’s necessary without exception: nondairy “cream cheese.” It is available in many supermarkets, but locating it can sometimes be a challenge. Still, some things are worth searching for.”



2 cups/8 oz graham cracker crumbs (I use gluten-free—or use any cinnamon cookie, crushed into crumbs)

8 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 Tbsp granulated sugar



3 8-ounce packages plain dairy-free “cream cheese,” preferably Tofutti brand

1 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp minced lemon zest

3 large eggs

1 cup well-chilled coconut cream solids (drain before measuring)

3 Tbsp all-purpose gluten-free flour

Pinch of salt

Pineapple or cherry compote or seedless raspberry jam, for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper, and spray the sides with cooking spray (or the cake will stick).
  2. Crust: In a medium bowl, mix together the crumbs, coconut oil, and sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan; place it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  3. Filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest. Cream the ingredients together, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beaters. Continue mixing until well blended.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chilled coconut cream, and beat for one full minute.
  5. Stir in the flour and salt, mixing until just incorporated.
  6. Remove the pan from the freezer, and pour the filling over the crust. Bake for approximately 2 hours, or until the sides are set and the center still jiggles a little bit but springs back when touched.
  7. Turn off the oven and open the door. The cake will continue baking as the oven cools down and should dry to a smooth finish on top, with no cracks. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  8. Run a knife around the edge of the cake, then remove the springform. Top the cake with pineapple or cherry compote, if desired. If using jam, make a glaze by warming it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then cooling it to room temperature (so that it’s runny and spreadable).

Makes 10–12 servings


Nail This:

  • Discard any clear water from the can of coconut cream, and use only the white, creamy solids.
  • You need to chill this overnight so it will set. Plan on making it a day ahead of serving. It can be made up to 2 days in advance.
  • Notice the low oven temperature? This helps the cake bake evenly, avoiding burnt edges or cracks on top.

Flip It:

  • Make mini cheesecakes in individual springform pans; baking time will vary based on the pans’ size.
  • If your cake does crack, just top it with berries and nobody will notice.
  • Save any leftover coconut cream for smoothies or curries. It can also be frozen for later use.