Aufruf Rice Krispies Treat Cake

rice krispie cake with flowers

This past Erev Shabbos was a busy one.  My father’s chemo day has been moved to Thursday, so more of the Shabbos preparation has been piling up on Friday.  Aaron and Hindy were arriving for Shabbos.  Guests were coming for Seuda Shlishis (third meal) Shabbos afternoon.  I needed to run to Monsey for a nursing home visit.  Candle lighting was at 4:12 PM.   And, there was so much to get done.  Thankfully, we had an aufruf to look forward to attending Shabbos morning.

I woke up before 5 AM on a mission.   All the ingredients were on hand, but not much of the cooking had been started.  I had been too exhausted on Thursday to start my Shabbos cooking, but thank G-d, I had plenty of energy early Friday morning to accomplish all that I had to do.

I decided to start with the funnest part of the Shabbos preparation.  I used my large soup pot to make the Rice Krispies Treats batter for the Aufruf Cake and decorated the top with simple Marshmallow Tulips.  After turning the cake onto a doily, I placed it on one of my Upcycled Chalkboard Chargers and wrote a mazel tov wish in metallic marker right on the charger.

Now, off to the Shabbos cooking marathon:  chicken soupcholentBroccoli Kugelfarrogrilled chickenmeatballs, stuffed turkey breast, cranberry relish, Tomato Medley with Arugula Pestobaked apples and more!



Pacman Gefilte Fish

pacman gefilte fish 1

Sometimes the wow is all in the presentation.  The presentation takes a simple menu item to a whole new level.   Just cutting something a different way or finding a unique manner to plate it creates a real wow.

Gefilte fish is a Jewish Shabbos and Yom Tov (holiday) staple.  It is like a meatloaf, except with ground fish.  And, traditionally, it is cut into slices and served with horseradish and beets.  This is a simple and unique way to serve gefilte fish.

I first saw this way of serving gefilte fish at my friend, Lori’s house many years ago.  I have served gefilte fish so many times this way and it never fails to bring a smile to the lips of my guests.  This Pacman presentation has received lots of mileage, especially with Avigail and Judah, my grandchildren.  They are too young to know what Pacman is, so we just call it “fish” gefilte fish and they look forward to it whenever they visit for Shabbos.

pacman gefilte fish 2


one loaf of gefilte fish and 1-2 carrots, prepared according to directions



Prepare gefilte fish and carrot according to package directions.  I used A&B Cut cooked gefilte fish loaf into slices.  Cut a notch out of the narrow end of each slice and remove it.  Move it to the other end of the slice, creating a fishtail.

Cut carrot into slices.  Place one over the notch cutout to resemble a fish eye.




A Beautifully Plated Entree



This entree combines salmon sliders, a simple arugula salad with grape tomatoes and beet pesto pasta.  It is about creating originality, whimsy and appetite by mixing different colors, textures and flavors.

Here are some tips that I used for plating this entree:


Repurpose simple items you already have to create that wow
Note the simple wooden picks on the salmon sliders. They create an inexpensive organic element on the plate that adds height and interest

Choose a variety of textural elements
Find foods that compliment each other in texture. Here, the baby arugula adds a soft fluttery texture, while the packed pasta is mounded to create a cohesive element and the round salmon sliders are stacked diagonally.

Display ordinary foods in extraordinary ways
I used a small glass sprayed with oil spray. I then packed the pasta into the glass, firmly packing it. I turned the glass over to unmold the pasta.


Find some originality and whimsy
I butterflied four grape tomatoes in half. For each flower, I placed to butterflied tomatoes together diagonally. I drew three different size circles with sauce to create some whimsy.

Leave plenty of white space on the plate
Leave plenty of white space between each element. This way. the plate and the details can be appreciated.

Plating Lesson: Leah’s Birthday Dessert

Today was Leah’s birthday and we celebrated the special day by going out as a family to Leah’s favorite restaurant in Manhattan, Noi Due.

Don and I had never been to Noi Due and we were delighted with the food selection, presentation and taste.  Although we were all too full to have dessert, we felt compelled to order at least one dessert to share so that we could sing “Happy Birthday” to Leah.

Leah ordered her favorite dessert in the whole world: cheesecake.  Simple New York-style cheescake.  Not Italian-style cheesecake.  Not the in-house prepared tiramisu.  Not anything else.  Just plain cheesecake.

And, when the dessert was served, Leah was delighted.  And so was everyone else.

Ju-Ju eyed the confectioners sugar.  Avigail eyed the whipped cream.  Don was hoping to share the cheescake.

I just admired the plating…..and asked Aaron S. to take a picture for the blog.


Because, I loved a creatively plated dessert.  And, this dessert was cleverly and beautifully plated.

Here is what I loved about the dessert plate:

Beautiful plating is in the simple details
A simple piece of cheesecake was embellished with powdered sugar, whipped cream and some chocolate syrup. all simple ingredients that together yielded something extraordinary

There were many textural elements to appreciate
This plate allowed us to enjoy the ruffled whipped cream, decadent sauce, creamy cheese cake slice, the handwritten birthday note and the powdery sugar

It was original
They took the time to write “Happy Birthday” with a flourish and a dose of whimsy.

There was plenty of white space on the plate
The elements of the dessert were not crowded and left the diner with a feeling of space to appreciate the details

Happy Birthday, Leah!

Salad Appetizer in a Flower Pot

A plated appetizer should be pleasing to the palate and pleasing to the eye.  Very often, the difference between an ordinary appetizer and an extraordinary appetizer is in the plating.

This one is the perfect example.

I have taken a small terra cotta flowerpot and fitted it with a plastic cup.  I filled the cup with Heirloom Tomato Salad and garnished it with a Curly Scallion Garnish and beet horseradish sauce.  To add a ‘flower’ to the flowerpot, I placed a radish garnish on a skewer and placed it into the pot.



terra cotta pots

short 4″ skewers




Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Sweet Potato Roses in Salad Box


Who said that salads have to be tossed in a salad bowl?

I love the idea of individual salads and especially individual layered salads. There is something wonderful about being served an individual salad, especially when there is a beautiful and delicious garnish to top it off.

Here is one sensational salad appetizer that I created using the simplest of ingredients to create a wow.




sweet potato, onion or zucchini, scrubbed
kosher salt
romaine lettuce leaves
chopped peppers or your favorite chopped vegetables
Simple and Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette or your favorite dressing in a squeeze bottle


mandoline or wide peeler
clear square plastic bowls



Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Thinly slice unpeeled sweet potato using wide peeler or mandoline.

Place thin sweet potato, zucchini or onion slices on parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil and kosher salt. Roast for 20-30 minutes, just until vegetables are soft with the edges just starting to turn brown.

While roasting the vegetables, soak and rinse romaine lettuce and chopped peppers.

Stand 1-2 sprigs of smallest inner leaves of hearts of romaine at edge of square plastic bowl. Place chopped peppers at the bottom and squeeze scant amount of dressing on top of peppers.

Remove the vegetable slices from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Roll each slice up to form a rose, using the crispy end to form the middle of the rose bud and wind the softer end around to form a rose.


Garnish each salad with vegetable roses and tuck  two or three loops of chives between the vegetable roses and the romaine  sprigs.




Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links from Amazon,
which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

It’s All About Plating: Simple Baked Apple Dressed Up

I love simple things done right.

Delicious and beautiful does not need to go hand in hand with complicated and time-consuming.  It can certainly be something simple just presented in a unique way.

I love plated appetizers and desserts.  It dresses up the meal and makes each guest feel pampered.  It also allows for the simple combination of colors, flavors, temperatures and textures that  create a wow to the palate and a wow to the eye.

I have found that good plating needs white space in order to properly appreciate the elements on the plate.  Very often, I will use  three different elements on a plate and will opt for a larger plate so that each plate element will be able to be appreciated without being crowded.

Here is a plated dessert where the Simply Baked Apple is served warm, the chocolate sorbet is frozen and the star fruit and whipped cream dress up the plate.

I have used a large square appetizer plate as the canvas.  I placed a small plastic square plate under the apple and a taster spoon under the chocolate sorbet.  Placing the frozen sorbet in a taster spoon or small bowl allows me to portion out the sorbet in advance.  This saves me time and effort during the meal.  I added whipped cream to the center of the apple right before serving and placed a candy gummy ring to the top of the apple.  I finished the plate with a few slices of starfruit.


Salmon Terrarium Appetizer


We were fortunate to have spend the past Sukkos (Fall Jewish Holiday celebrated in temporary huts covered in natural materials) in Israel.  We always marvel at how our  Jerusalem sukka is so much larger than our doll-size apartment living space.  Our sukka is tucked into one of those beautiful, dusty and wonderful corners of Jerusalem.  It is surrounded by gorgeous Jerusalem stone walls and is just beneath a main street with people strolling by on their way to the kotel (Western Wall) via  Sha’ar Yafo (Jaffa Gate).


On sukkos, our sukka was home to many guests.  Our guests over Yom Tov are our friends, our family, our neighbors, Aaron and Davida’s friends and their friends’ friends.   Over the past Sukkos holiday, I served lots of food to many, many guests.  I try to keep the food simple, so that I can enjoy the spirit of the Yom Tov (holiday).  To keep things interesting, I try different table settings and plating techniques.

One of my appetizer mainstays is salmon.  I usually prepare a side of Perfect Salmon with Roasted Vegetables.  For the first meal, I usually serve the salmon as is.  It is beautiful just as is.

As an alternative, I often plate the salmon differently for the next Yom Tov meal.  This time, I flaked it in small pieces and served it in a clear square bowl with some Simple and Perfect Spicy Mayo and dill sauce drizzled on top and garnished with a few chive sprigs.  I just placed a few fancy lettuce leaves on the side for garnish.


Simple to Wow!