If Wishes Were Like Shlishkes

Certain staples of Jewish cuisine are beloved as nonpartisan delicacies, as they should be. Steaming bowls of matzo ball soup soothe the soul, crisp latkes satisfy cravings for all things fried, and bagels are the grab-and-go breakfast for countless generations. Food doesn’t care what you do or don’t believe.

Shlishkes, however, haven’t made the same leap into mainstream culture. Originating with Hungarian Ashkenazi Jews, these humble potato dumplings are often compared to Italian gnocchi for their similar structure. Tender, soft, gently simmered morsels made from a bare minimum of ingredients, they’re within easy reach of anyone on a budget or with limited cooking experience.

Potato Shlishkes

How do you make shlishkes?

It’s quite simple:

  1. Boil and mash potatoes.
  2. Add flour.
  3. Cut into dumplings.
  4. Boil and drain.
  5. Toss with breadcrumbs and bake until toasted.

This final step is what truly separates it from the other potato-based pastas. Liberal use of vegan butter or schmaltz and breadcrumbs transforms homely dough into nutty, crunchy, rich, and savory delights.

Want to make these shlishkes your own?

Such a simple formula is ripe for creative interpretation. A few easy ideas for a tasty twist on tradition include:

  • Use coarse almond meal or crushed crunchy chickpeas instead of breadcrumbs for a gluten-free option.
  • Swap white potatoes for orange or purple sweet potatoes.
  • Add cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes to spice things up.
  • Use olive oil instead of vegan butter or schmaltz to decrease the saturated fat.
  • Finish with a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese.

Like any good starchy side, shlishkes are best accompanied by a hearty entree. In truth, though, there’s no bad pairing or inopportune time to serve them. Enjoy shlishke for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Bachelor parties, Satanic rites; anything worth celebrating with a comforting, homemade meal!

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Long Noodles For Long Days

In January it’s so nice
While slipping on the sliding ice
To slurp hot chicken with long rice
Slurping once, slurping twice
Slurping chicken with long rice

Perhaps that’s not quite how the original children’s book begins, but it’s close enough. Closely linked in my mind to the earliest days of childhood, sitting in my Papa Sam’s lap as he read to me from the colorful pages, the lilting cadence of that simple poetry instantly takes me back. Memories of pillow forts and story time, footie pajamas and a bed full of stuffed animals bubble up like a pot simmering on the back burner. It’s fitting that this particular tale is all about comfort food, since that’s the hunger it satisfies in my soul.

Of course, the real story is about soup, but there’s room for more than one home cooked source of solace. Chicken long rice is basically the brothless equivalent.

What is chicken long rice?

First introduced to me by a friend living on Oahu, chicken long rice features thin vermicelli noodles interwoven with shredded chicken cooked in a savory broth spiked with ginger. It’s a cozy dish that satisfies all those wintry cravings, but also brilliantly light and easy to eat in the heat of summer.

The name itself is a bit of a misnomer; while rice noodles are acceptable, it’s most commonly made with mung bean threads (AKA cellophane noodles, glass noodles, or saifun) which are resilient, chewy, and great for soaking in all of that flavorful liquid.

Adapted from Chinese cuisine, it’s now a Hawaiian staple that turns up at luaus, potlucks, and everyday dinners across the island state.

What makes this the best recipe for chicken long rice?

I’m so glad you asked! Naturally, it’s plant-based like everything else I make, putting it firmly within the grasp of hungry vegans and vegetarians at last. Additionally, the starch-based noodles open up the possibility of catering to gluten-free eaters; just use wheat-free tamari instead of soy sauce, and double-check that your meatless chicken follows suit, too.

Do yourself a favor: Bookmark this page right now. Just like in the children’s story, there’s no bad time for a bowlful of comfort. You’re going to want this one for the months ahead.

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Best Vegan Pumpkin Recipes to Fall in Love with Autumn

Pumpkins have sustained and inspired us for centuries, rising to great acclaim as a social media darling after centuries in the root cellar. They were one of the first domesticated crops, dating back over 9000 years in Mexico. Those earliest ancestors were comparatively tiny, bitter, and tough, with little in common with any of the 45 different varieties that currently exist. It’s a good thing that all parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the leaves, flowers, and stems, securing the pumpkin’s place on homestead farms as it continued to evolve.

Of course, the pumpkin’s greatest claim to fame today has more to do with the associated spices than any of its natural charms. My feelings for the trend have come full circle. I’m no longer dismayed by the disconnect, but encouraged by the possibilities. Now we’re primed to fully embrace all the squash has to offer.

Get ready to fall harder for pumpkin this year. I’ve got the very best vegan recipes right here for you to explore both the sweet and savory sides of pumpkin, ranging from wholesome to indulgent, simple to complex. Canned puree is always available, but pumpkin cravings only peak this season. Don’t waste another autumn without knowing just how incredible pumpkin can taste.

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Chickens Coming Home to Roost

As a summer-lover, sun-worshiper, and heat-seeker, I never thought I’d be so grateful to say goodbye. I’ve also never experienced a year with nearly 70 days at or above 100 degrees before. When you can’t go for a walk midday without burning to a crisp, or using your car for anything but baking cookies, it shifts the script significantly. There’s still a lot to love, from ripe heirloom tomatoes to warm late night swims, but for the first time ever, I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to embrace fall with open arms.

To that end, I’m diving head-first into cozy comfort foods. Bring on the pasta drowned in browned butter, the sautéed mushrooms dancing in white wine. It’s the season of wild mushrooms, flourishing in cool, damp weather. Nestled at the base of oak trees or hidden beneath fallen leaves, they cluster together like a bouquet of flowers, blooming in earthy shades of browns and greys. Springing up where you’d least expect it, luck is often a more important factor than skill when it comes to foraging.

This is my favorite type of backyard chicken. Hen of the woods mushrooms get their name from those feathery, frilled caps, said to look like a sitting hen. Given that they can grow into masses upwards of 50 pounds, I’d like that think there are no barnyard animals that can really measure up.

What makes hen of the woods mushrooms so great?

Also known as maitake mushrooms, they’ve long been touted for their medicinal properties, such as:

  • Boosting the immune system
  • Reducing cancer risks
  • Stabilizing blood sugar
  • Helping regulate blood pressure

What I’m most interested in, however, is their culinary value.

What do hen of the woods mushrooms taste like?

Both subtly nuanced and boldly earthy, delicate yet peppery and assertive, hen of the woods mushrooms are a brilliant bundle of contradictions. One moment they’re soft and tender, buttery and supple, the next they’re almost audibly crunchy, chewy and crisp. There’s no alternative that exactly replicates such a unique eating experience.

Pair that with a luscious blanket of caramelized onions, slowly browned over low heat, with a cascading sauce of nutty browned butter, spiked with a splash of dry white wine. Vegan tortellini tumble and tangle within the wilted mushroom fronds, springs of curly kale sprouting wildly like an overgrown forest floor. It’s a rustic, untamed, and understated plating for a powerhouse of flavor. Toasted pecans rain down like a gentle shower, ending with a clean, clear crunch.

While it’s a dish that could exist in any season given greater accessibility to farmed mushrooms and imported produce, the heart and soul of it can only exist in autumn. In the growing darkness and increasing cold, let it envelop you in warmth. Take comfort knowing that there’s so much good to come of this new season.

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