A Vinegar Pantry Tutorial

Vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients. It is characterized by its acidic taste and is known best for the pungent flavor it imparts to salads.   For centuries, vinegar has been valued for its health benefits.  Vinegar comes in many different tastes and colors and has a wide variety of uses beyond the salad bowl.

vinegar tutorial 1

Adding a splash of an acidic ingredient like vinegar is an excellent way to brighten all types of salads and other dishes.  There are so many varieties and each one has a distinct personality and flavor.

I reserve the standard white variety for cleaning uses, since it boasts a very pungent and sharp taste that can be overly assertive.  It can be used for weed control and cleaning purposes.

My go-to vinegar is cider vinegar since it imparts a medium acidic taste while still tasting fruity and fresh.

Different vinegars impart a variety of  flavors and can change the way that you prepare and enjoy your food.   Feel free to experiment with different vinegars to find the ones that you enjoy most.

My pantry boasts a large variety of vinegars and here are some of my favorites:


Cider vinegar: Cider vinegar is fashioned from apples.  This brownish clear vinegar stands up well to hardy salads and is the go-to ingredient in marinades.  It is perfect for recipes like: Roasted Sweet Potato and Beet Salad,  Cowboy Caviar: A Simple and Hearty Salad with Attitude and Simply the Best Marinade: A Science Lesson

White vinegar: White vinegar is assertive and clear.  It is distilled from grain and can be used with sturdy greens.  It has a very assertive flavor that sticks to the back of my throat, so I tend to reserve it for cleaning (When Crayons Must Learn Boundaries: Simple Ways to Clean Crayon Marks on Walls) and garden tasks like (At War with Weeds: A Homemade Non-Toxic Weed-Killer)

Wine vinegar:  Wine vinegar comes in red and white varieties.  Heinz manufactures an assortment of delicious wine vinegars that carry the o-u-p (kosher for Passover) certification year-round.  This type of vinegar is light and delicious and can be used in dressings for a variety of light and pungent salads.   Typically, wine vinegar comes in a shaker bottle and should be shaken sparingly directly on salad.   Wine vinegar is perfect for recipes like Warm Zucchini-Mushroom Salad with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds and Etty’s Simple Basil-Dijon Vinaigrette

Rice vinegar:  Rice vinegar is an excellent alternative to cider or white vinegar.  I used it in a variety of Asian-inspired dishes.  It combines perfectly with soy sauce and sesame oil.  Try it is dishes like Individual Sushi Salads and Asian Red Cabbage Salad…Simple and Wow

Balsamic vinegar:  Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorites, too.  It is dark brown in color and imparts a sweet, syrupy flavor.  Balsamic vinegar is not a tye of wine vinegar, but is rather made from grape pressings that have not been allowed to ferment.  This vinegar imparts a very distinctive flavor and should be used sparingly, often just dotted onto salads, vegetable and protein dishes and fruit.  This vinegar is delicious in Simple, Creamy and Perfect Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette and Roasted Rainbow Skewers.


DIY Passover French Baked Onions

french fried onions for pesach

So many of my simple and moist recipes rely on french fried onions.  They add moisture and pizazz to even the simplest and leanest of fish, meats and poultry.  Recipes such as Onion-Battered Baked TilapiaSimple Onion Baked Chicken Cutlets and Low and Slow Oven Brisket require this as a key ingredient.

Year-round, this is a readily available ingredient with so many kosher brands to choose from.  For some reason the smaller packages of French’s do not carry an o-u kosher certification while the 26.5 ounce package of Family size french fried onions is available on Amazon with a reliable o-u certification.

Since these products have flour listed on the ingredient list, I understood that they would not acceptable for Passover use.    However, I was hoping to find a similar product this year that would be kosher for Passover.   Alas, I was unsuccessful.

That meant that I needed to develop a recipe for french fried onions similar enough to the store-bought ones.  I also wanted a recipe that would not require frying.  There is just too much to be done before Pesach (Passover) for me to be frying onions in small batches.

This recipe is good.  It is not as dry and crunchy as the original.  But, it does serve as a good replacement for these recipes.  And, it is simple.

I would love to hear your comments, especially if you found this recipe to be simple to wow.


4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup Passover crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil or cooking spray


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.

Separate thinly sliced onion rings into individual rings. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and toss to coat the onion rings.

Place the onion rings ton the baking sheet and drizzle olive oil or generously spray with cooking spray.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, frequently checking that the onions do not burn.  When ready, these onions should be just starting to turn golden brown.

Allow onions to come to room temperature before using.

Simple Coffee Spice Rub



I am not a coffee drinker.  I just never developed a taste for coffee.  To me, it tastes bitter and unpleasant.  Thankfully, I wake up with enough energy that I don’t need the boost that coffee provides.

Interestingly, though, I love the aroma of coffee.  While the taste does not please me, the aroma of coffee is something I really enjoy.

There isn’t another member of my extended family that shares my distaste for coffee.  In fact, it is rare that I meet someone else who does not start their day with a cup of coffee.

Despite my not drinking coffee, we stock quite a varied supply of coffee in our home to satisfy the different but obligatory morning coffees of our family.  Some like dark roast, others light roast; some enjoy favored coffees and we have some visitors that actually prefer instant coffee.

Since we do not brew coffee on Shabbos (our Saturday Sabbath), our coffee drinkers either brew it in advance, buy cold brew coffee or use instant coffee for their Shabbos java.

I find that I have lots of leftover instant coffee, not fresh enough for the morning brew, but with enough aroma and flavor for a spice rub.  I store this instant coffee in the freezer until I am ready to use it.  Once I make the spice rub, I store the coffee rub in a spice container or ziploc bag in the freezer, as well.

The aroma and texture of this rub really adds that special wow to a roast. This spice rub imparts an amazing quality and flavor, even to my coffee-impaired taste buds.

If you are concerned about the caffeine in the coffee rub, feel free to use decaf coffee, instead.


4 tablespoons ground coffee, regular or decaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


Combine by shaking in container or ziploc bag.  Cover tightly and store leftovers in freezer



Simple DIY Cajun Blackening Spice Blend for Low-Carb Atkins Cooking

I have been on a low-carb diet for the past many weeks.  One of the most important aspects of the diet  is finding flavor and texture in ingredients that are low-carb. I have prepared fried fish using spices instead of breading.  I have found new toppings and new spices that replace the flavor and texture of many higher-carb ingredients.

Spice blends are the key.  There are plenty on the market, but making them yourself has cost and flavor benefits.  Homemade spice blends generally cost a fraction of the cost of prepared ones.  Some of the commercially-made ones have sugar,  which is a no-no on the diet.  Most importantly, this spice blend allows you to adjust the proportions of the ingredients to suit your own diet and you own taste.  You can adjust or omit the cayenne pepper if you prefer a milder spice blend and you can omit or reduce the salt if you are careful about your salt intake.

This cajun blackening spice blend has a myriad of uses. You can use it as a breading for fried fish (Blackened Atkins Low-Carb Tilapia Fillets), as a spice rub for roasted meat or chicken and as a flavoring for your crockpot stews. You can sprinkle it on salmon (Low-Carb Cajun Salmon Fillets in Foil Packets) or tofu before pan-frying or grilling.   It will transform your cooking!

cajun blackening seasoning


DIY Everything Mix Topping: Perfect for Breadsticks and Challah

Now that Pesach (Passover) is behind us and chometz (leavened food items) are back on the menu, I would like to highlight a week of challah and bread-related recipes.  Over the next few days we will count down to our first Shabbos after  Pesach with challah.

Many people who don’t ordinarily prepare home-baked challah choose to bake  Schlissel (key) Challah for the first Shabbos after Pesach in merit for a financially successful year. They either bake the challah in the shape of a key or insert a foil-wrapped house key into the center of one challah.

I posted my own go-to challah recipe Simply the Best Challah Recipe…ever! several months ago.  Yesterday, I posted the special blessings to say when preparing the challah: Divine Challah: Blessings to Nourish the Soul.  Today, I will help you prepare a simple everything topping for your favorite bread or challah recipe.

As you can imagine, we are not a plain vanilla type of family.  We like our food  with loads of flavor and personality.  When we order bagels, of course, we tend to order the everything bagels, the ones with all the toppings.  We love that everything topping sprinkled on all types of baked items, like challah, breadsticks and even savory puffed pastry items like deli roll.

In a comment from Simply the Best Challah Recipe…ever!, my aunt posted her everything topping recipe.  Tante Sari explained that she prepares this topping in batches and stores it in a spice jar with a shaker top.  That way, when she bakes her challah, it is readily available.

everything topping in salt cellar

Of course, you can purchase an everything mix topping in many specialty stores.  The advantage of making this one yourself is that it is more cost-effective and you can tailor the proportions yourself.

Here is Tante Sari’s everything topping: (more…)