◊ Filling space


Dear mom,

I don’t want you to feel responsible for me feeling responsible for your worry. I’m not blaming you for it either. I’m just telling you how I feel. Isn’t that what you want? Such mixed messages! …  And more mother-induced trauma.

Just kidding. I’m over it. Glad that you and your chaise finally found homes.

Home. Some people seem to slide in easily. They appear comfortable in their space no matter what surrounds them. I am not one of those people. I’ve re-made home enough to know that I must put deliberate effort into feeling oriented and grounded. The process is always slow and harrowing.IMG_6234

I try to expedite it by walking around aimlessly (usually in the direction of a grocery store) to learn the grounds. I mark new territory with familiar scents  – I burn candles, incense, cookies. I fill new space with things that mark my permanence – glass containers of grains and spices, tubs of tea, jars of oils and lotions, bottles of nail polish.  Also rituals. Tea in the morning; Shabbat dinner; roasting vegetables Sunday afternoon; long runs on the weekend.

One of my favorite time and space-marking rituals is our annual Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Cleanse. It helps me understand the passage of time, connect with my body and reflect. This year’s cleanse seems particularly important.

As is, the cleanse dietary rituals are easy for me. I want an additional mind-body challenge.

Rebecca inspired me to consider meditation as a daily practice. I do not have patience for stillness. Thus, I will be incorporating 10 minutes of daily meditation in my 10 day cleanse. I’m already annoyed by the time commitment, but I need to be forced to take a pause. For the past year, I have been moving at lightening speed, and I need processing time in order to feel oriented.


In the spirit of the cleanse, below are two cleanse appropriate, Rosh Hashana inspired recipes. You will be here in three days to see my home firsthand! I’m really looking forward to shlepping you to Berkeley Bowl and making Rosh Hashana meals together.



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For most people, the high holidays smell like warm chunks of meet and heavy kugels. My High Holiday food memories are decorated with colorful salads. Our post-service lunches always contain a large variety of salads – big bowls of kale with avocado, pomegranate studded tabouleh, etc – for starving guests to nosh when they first arrive from after never-ending morning services. My new salad idea is just sweet enough to be Rosh Hashana appropriate: chopped apples, arugula and celery in a creamy honey- tahini dressing.


Chopped Apples, Arugula and Celery with Creamy Honey-Tahini Dressing

Serves: 5 – 10 depending on portion size

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbs honey (nix it for the cleanse)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vingegar
  • 1/3 cup crude tahini
  • plenty of fresh black pepper


  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 3 – 4 good, sweet, crunchy apples, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups arugula, chopped
  • 2 medium stalks of spring onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts

First, make the dressing. Make sure your garlic is crushed well and herbs are finely chopped. Add all ingredients to a jar or bowl. Stir well, until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add black pepper as desired. Let sit for at least one hour before use.


No more than one hour before serving, chop celery, apples, arugula and spring onions. Toast and crush walnuts and allow to cool. Pile all ingredients in a bowl, add 1/3 c dressing and toss until apples, arugula and celery pieces are coated. Serve immediately.


Green Goddess Tahini Dressing

Serves: many, many salads

Prep time: 15 minutes

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This dressing livens up any salad. It’s grain mixed into grain bowls, slathered over roasted veggies or tossed into simple lettuce salads.

  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1 bunch fresh scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbs lemon zest
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

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Simply place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth liquid consistency is formed. Add salt and pepper too taste. If too pungent, add additional yogurt.

In the salad pictured, I topped a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, roasted beets and chopped arugula with swirls of Green Goddess dressing, tahini, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground black pepper.

◊ Thanks dad


Dear dad,

Next time I question who I am, I won’t drive out to the farm to find my name. Instead I’ll look for a perfect tomato, slather it with mayo and layer it with egg in two pieces of white bread. I’m sure the egg and tomato sandwich will root me plenty. It is the food of my childhood… a summer treat that you made when mom’s work kept her late, the garden turned out beautiful home-growns or you entertained my friends and me with your attempts at the one-handed egg flip.

The other day, I had a friend over for the first time who was surprised when I said that my parents were out of town: “Your parents? I always assumed you lived with just your mom. I always hear Shaina’s mom this and Shaina’s mom that… but I’ve never hear much about your dad.”

Last week I received a check in the mail for “Shaina Schuster” and in high school I had to correct my friends: my dad isn’t Schuster… his last name is Shealy.

Mom is definitely the louder voice in our family, but please let’s not confuse her volume with her side’s influence on my nature. It might not be so apparent, but your “country roots” contribution to who I am extends a few notches beyond the egg and tomato sandwich.  Our family talks a lot about Bubbe’s kitchen and her recipes, but your mother coveted her time in the kitchen too … And let’s face it, my kitchen habits inch more towards your mom’s than Bubbe’s (who kept the ends of her curtains tied in plastic bags – curtain condoms – so they wouldn’t get dirty). Sorry, mom… I do not lament my lack of Schuster-obsessiveness.

I’m with Tom Robbins on his last-meal wishes: the egg and tomato sandwich is a perfect food.  Thanks for sharing and for sparing our readers from your second favorite sandwich – I cringe – banana and mayo on white bread.


I created the following recipes with The Cleanse in mind. I’m cleansing in celebration of Esrei Yamim, the ten days in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I’ve experimented with raw, paleo and vegan diets, but The Cleanse feels like the healthiest eating style for my body.

If you’re interested in the cleanse, visit our cleanse recipe page to get inspired and leave a comment if you want to learn more… I’m always excited for new cleanse buddies!
Mom, it’s so much easier to cleanse when I’m at home with your three freezers and three fridges stocked to their brims with nuts, dried fruits, weird flours, restaurant-sized tubs of spinach… there’s no lack of cleanse-friendly foods!

Big Kale Salad

Tahini Dressing:

  • 4 tbs tahini paste
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1/4 cup warm water if needed
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  • 1 big bunch of kale, destemmed, torn into pieces
  • 1 tsp course sea salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of chipotle chili seasoning, to taste


4 medium carrots, shredded or finely chopped
  • 2 peaches or nectarines, cut into bite sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium golden or red beet, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 avocado, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup toasted sunflower, pumpkin seeds, almond slices, and/or walnuts

Make the dressing by pureeing tahini, lemon, garlic, honey, etc with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth.
Pile kale into a big bowl. Massage lemon juice, salt, paprika and chipotle chili seasoning into kale leaves. It sounds silly, but the massage is crucial… you have to exercise the leaves until they are tender. Gently rub the leaves with your hands for 2 – 5 minutes. This can be done the night before, hours before or minutes before serving.

Just before serving, combine the kale with half of the dressing and remaining ingredients. Use your hands to gently toss ingredients together. Drizzle the salad with remaining dressing if desired.


Miso-Sesame Soba Noodles with Pan-Fried Tofu


  • 1 package (12 oz) dried soba noodles (I like to use 100% buckwheat, but they can be hard to find and expensive. More common is a buckwheat + spelt or wheat combination.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 shallots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons grated, peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cane sugar (optional)
  • 3 tbs miso paste
  • 2 tbs brown rice vinegar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • IMG_90971/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1 package (12 oz) extra-firm tofu, sliced
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 heads of baby bok choy, chunked and steamed (or blanched)
  • 2 heads broccolini (baby broccoli), chopped into bite size pieces and steamed (or blanched)

1 bunch of chives or scallions, minced

Cook the soba noodles in well salted water, drain, rinse under cold water. Set aside.

For the dressing, combine shallot, salt, sugar, ginger and garlic in morter and pestle. Crush until ingredients are well-mashed. Heat olive oil in pan and add shallot, salt, ginger and garlic. When browned and fragrant, remove from heat and whisk with toasted sesame oil, miso, vinegar, onion and lemon zest. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated.  Set aside.


Drain the tofu and pat it dry. Cut into matchstick shapes and season with a pinch of salt,  1/2 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tbs sesame oil, and black sesame seeds.  Cook in a large pan on medium heat until tofu is golden brown on both sides. This may take 10 – 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the soba noodles with the veggies and dressing. Top with tofu and garnish with chives or scallions.

◊ A Left Turn Or Something


Dear mom,

You got your wish: I’ll be home for Rosh Hashana.

My plans took a swift left turn last week… another plane ticket, another commitment; it’s real… I’m moving to Jerusalem. A year of hummus and salty cheese is reason enough.  I’m nervous and I’m laughing about it.

My deliberation over the decision was all-consuming as usual. But I learned something important: that my gut is a more informative organ than my brain. It’s smarter than the projections cast by rationale – it told me that right now I need nourishment and connection and new territory. Even though I worry about long-term stability (straight roads put me to sleep, so I seek twists and turns that sometimes just become rocky bumps what is wrong with me?!), I’m okay with stepping onto a wayward path right now. I don’t care about the weirdness.


I’ll be home through the holidays and am excited for the Esrei Yamim Cleanse. I hope that more people join this year since we now have a whole Cleanse category in our recipe index. Can we make our Rosh Hashana menu as cleanse-friendly as possible? I’ve been practicing with the vitamix (since our reunion we’ve been inseparable – it’s pathetic) and last week, I made beautiful purees that will be perfect for Rosh Hashana appetizers and Esrei Yamim snacks. No offense – I think my beets are prettier than yours.


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I don’t have much time left to trash the house and destroy the liquor cabinet before you come home from your vacation and we hit the kitchen hard. I’m ashamed that I didn’t do more bad things while you were out of town, but I accept defeat: my parents are better at drinking alcohol than me and my friends are too good/sparse. But I still have a few hours left…

Safe travels home!





Razzle-dazzle Savory Beet Puree

IMG_8926This puree is creamy, earthy, deep and freaking rad. My favorite breakfast lately is a rice cake with beet puree, yogurt, avocado and salt and pepper.

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It’s also great with apples, sandwiches and vinegary salad dressings… it will be a fabulous accompaniment to honey during the rounds of Rosh Hashana apples n’ honey. And it’s so pretty!

  • 1 cup raw walnuts (or half cup walnuts, half cup cashews)
  • 2 medium beets
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Wrap unpeeled, whole beets in foil and roast for 40 – 50 minutes. Allow to cool and peel (the peel should slip right off). Blend with remaining ingredients in food processor until a thick, psychedelic paste is formed. So simple!

Zesty Spinach Puree


Perfect as a cracker dip or over roasted veggies.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or cashews
  • 16 oz fresh, washed spinach
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

Add all ingredients to food process and puree until desired consistency.

Perfect Cinnamon Vanilla ‘Cleanse’ Pudding

I’ve been experimenting with a cleanse-friendly pudding recipe for almost two years now – I’ve tried it with avocado, chia, flax, cashews, almonds, dates, apples…. the variations are countless. I finally got it down to the perfect result. And the recipe requires just a few basic ingredients. I have two versions to share with you: vanilla and chocolate.


  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 8 de-stemmed dried figs
  • dash of cinnamon
  • tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup warm water

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until blended. Add more warm water if needed. Consistency should be like creamy peanut butter.

Delicious warm or cold, this “pudding” is so healthy that you can eat it for breakfast… it’s just like a bowl of oatmeal with dried fruits and nuts! It’s also satisfying as a dessert. Try it with fresh berries or peaches and a dollop of greek yogurt for a filling sweet treat.

Perfect Chocolate ‘Cleanse’ Pudding

  • 1 Cup Walnuts
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 8 destemmed dried figs
  • dash of cinnamon
  • tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbs good cocoa powder

Layer onto a rice cake with peanut or almond butter for a healthier take on the Reese’s Cup! Or stir into greek yogurt and berries for a special treat.


Black Sesame Amaranth Crackers


  • 3/4 Cup raw amaranth
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds
  • sea salt to taste1 tsp
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Cook amaranth (bring one part amaranth to two parts water to boil and then reduce to simmer… it takes about 20 minutes). It should be a sticky, gooey consistency… like thick oatmeal. Mix cooked amaranth with remaining ingredients. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and spread amaranth mixture into thin layers, using the back of a spatula to even it out (I covered the back of my spatula with olive oil so it wouldn’t stick to the amaranth mixture).

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Place in oven (convection bake setting is preferable) at 170 degrees for 35 – 60 minutes, depending on how thin your layer is. Remove from oven when browned as crisp. Allow to cool and gently break into cracker-size pieces. They should easily lift from the parchment paper.

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These crackers are super healthy – vegan, gluten free, etc – and great for dipping into purees or crumbling over salad or yogurt bowls.



♦ ◊ Rosh Hashana Special

Dear readers,

Mother and daughter reunited in the kitchen to prep for Rosh Hashana meals.

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Together, we prepared beautiful food for our intergenerational family and friends ranging from the classics (chicken soup and matzoh balls, Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions, noodle kugel and brisket) to the new (lemon scented quinoa with pesto and kale and sweet new year ladoo). We tried to design most of our menu to apply to The Cleanse so that we’d have some leftovers for Esrei Yamim.

This is how my ___ turns out better than yours…

We threw around the above sentence freely throughout our work together in the kitchen, teaching one another new lessons. Our cooking styles are different (fo sho) but it worked.

The major consensus: no matter how much counter space you have, it’s never enough.

3 things daughter learned:

1. When roasting veggies in the oven, heat olive oil on the cookie sheet before placing the veggies on them. The hot oil will scorch the skins of the veggies adding an extra crunch. And you need a really hot oven to get good roasted veggies. With convection, the heat gets blown evenly throughout the oven with a fan, typically from the back, for more even and quick distribution of heat. If you have a convection-bake setting, you have the convection component as well as the normal heat coming from the bottom of the oven, which crisps the veggies with high heat.

2. I learned that the shapes I cut vegetables in makes a difference. Usually, I just cut vegetables into lopsided chunks or whatever’s easiest… that’s why they come out ugly.  Cutting veggies with sharp edges allows them to crisp better on the outside… and consistent sizes are important for timing.

3. You can wash sneakers in a washing machine and dry them in a dryer and they’ll come out like new… what?

3 things mother learned:

1. Turn off the overhead lights to minimize glare when photographing.  And white balance is important – when pictures are taken indoors, the colors in the artificial lights are captured, rendering the natural colors of what is photographed. The things that are actually white should look white in the photograph… not yellow or blue. This is best achieved when photographing in natural light or using flash. Take away: photographs should be taken outdoors or near a window with plenty of natural light.

2. I learned to be a little more experimental in mixing sweet and savory herbs.. like cinnamon and parsley. And sea salt! I learned about celtic sea salt, and that all the salts really do taste different.

3. If you let dried fruits and nuts run long enough in a food processor, eventually it will become a paste – the oil in the nuts will bind it together. And nuts have loads of oil, so be careful!

Kasha with Mushrooms and Onions

  • Kasha (whole buckwheat groats)
  • olive oil
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

This is an all time Jewish favorite!

First toast kasha on stove. Then, cook in water and salt according to instructions on box.

Meanwhile, cook onions in oil over low heat until deep brown – this will take a long time. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook til browned and tender. Stir into kasha. Add salt and lots and lots of pepper.

If you get bored of eating it like this, stuff the leftovers into pepper, add tomato and bake in the oven!

Kasha is also great as a garnish to any salad or veggie. Just toast the kasha and throw it on any dish for extra crunch!

Lemon Scented Quinoa with Pesto and Kale
Inspired this 101cookbooks.com recipe

  • 1tbs  extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 3 shallots diced
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (here I used a combo of red, black and regular quinoa)
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 cups kale, chopped and massaged with lemon and salt
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup currents
  • 1/2 cup shopped scallions for garnish

Roasted tomatoes

Lay 1 pint of cherry tomatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper) flat on pan and roast in 350 degrees until shriveled and brown on the outside. This may take up to 1.5 hours.

In the meantime, cook the quinoa according to the box (I like to toast the quinoa in a pan before cooking – it brings out a nuttier flavor and always makes the quinoa more fluffy and chewy rather than mushy).

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in pan. Add diced shallots and cook until brown. Add corn, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add currants last, leaving them in heat for 2 minutes – just enough to plump them.

Remove corn, shallots and currents from stove and stir in pesto.

In a separate bowl, add chopped kale, sea salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. “Massage” this marinade into the kale, gently rubbing the leaves until they become bright green and tender. This should only take 5 minutes.

When above components are complete, mix together. Add pumpkin seeds and chopped right before serving so that they stay crunchy.  The best part of this dish is the variety of texture – chewy quinoa, gummy roasted tomatoes, and crunchy pumpkin seeds. And look at all the beautiful colors!!

Honey Cake

  • 3 C unbleached baking flour
  • 1 TBLSP cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl

  • 1 heaping TBLSP of instant coffee or espresso dissolved in 3/4 C of boiling water (allow to cool to lukewarm)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 C oil
  • 1 C honey
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 3/4 C brown sugar

Mix liquids and sugars together

Mix sugar mixture into flour mixture.

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C raisins

Add to combined mixture and mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 2 standard sized loaf pans.
Divide batter into the loaf pans.
Bake about 45 minutes til toothpick comes out clean. Start checking at 35 minutes and do not overbake.

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Sweet New Year Ladoo Balls on The Cleanse

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dried figs
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • sea salt
  • cardamom (best if fresh out of pods)
  • cinnamon
  • raisins
  • unsweetened coconut shreds

Dump all ingredients except for raisins and coconut shreds into food processor, and run processor until a smooth oily paste develops.

This may take a while depending on the food processor. If it gets warm, turn it off for a bit so that you don’t overheat the engine. Remove from food processor and mix raisins into paste. Roll into balls, and then roll in coconut shreds. Put in fridge to allow the balls to harden before serving.

cardamom pods

This version of the balls tasted a bit earthier than the original. I used only pumpkin seeds in the original version, which produced a creamier, smoother taste. Really, any nuts will work (any combo of fruity sweet and nutty fat is delish) – use whatever you have in the house.

Bubbe’s Potato Knishes

 Potato Filling

  • 5 lb potatoes
  • 3 lb onions
  • 1 tbs Mazola corn oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Boil 5 pounds of good potatoes (I like the thin skinned red ones) in salted water until done

Chop up 3 pounds of onions (more if you like onions) and sauté them in a little Mazola oil until golden or as brown as you like.

Peel and mash potatoes, add cooked onions, a little oil and salt and pepper to taste.


  • 1 c boiling water
  • 1 c Mazola corn oil
  • Gold Medal unbleached flour

Mix equal parts of boiling water and Mazola Corn Oil (1 cup each)

Add enough Gold Medal Unbleached flour to make it doughy and elastic. It should be soft, pliable, shiny and greasy to the touch.

 Putting it all Together

Take a small handful of dough and roll out on a floured surface until very thin and almost translucent in an oval shape that is longer than it is wide.   (12 -14” horizontally by 5-6 inches wide)


Place a tube-like amount (1 – 1 ½ “ diameter) of  the potato mixture filling about a ½ inch from the edge of the rolled dough closest to you along the length of the dough. Just plop the potato mixture along the edge of the dough and shape it as you roll it.  Imagine the potato mixture as a long thick hot dog that you will wrap dough around.  Use more potato mixture if you like really thick knishes.

 Start at the long edge of the dough closest to you and roll/wrap the dough around the potato mixture tightly to shape your roll (like a long horizontal tube) and continue rolling the dough around itself until you have wrapped it a few times. Because the dough is thin, wrapping it a few times will cover any holes that may have popped up. The dough is very stretchy and is actually pretty forgiving.  Close the ends by pinching the dough together or folding ends under.

 Lift the Knish “tube” and place seam side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with PAM or use parchment paper. Lightly score (cut) the top of the tube with horizontal angled cuts about an inch apart across the length of the tube to define each bite size piece that you will cut after the knish is baked. Do not cut all the way through.

Bake at 350º

Brush the top lightly with oil and bake at 350º until golden and crisp.  Cut along scored lines and place knish pieces on platter to serve immediately, if you can get them out of the kitchen before they disappear.  You will get several tube-like rolls of knishes from this recipe. You can cut 10 to 15 knish pieces from each roll depending on how big you make them. Bubbe’s knishes are generally no bigger than 1 ½ inches in diameter and cut into pieces about that long.  Whole lightly baked knish rolls can be frozen and re-baked at a later date when needed. Before rebaking, brush with a little oil and add a little salt n the top if you like them on the saltier side.  Pop the frozen knish in the oven at 350 and bake until crisp and golden.


If you run out of dough before you run out of filling, make another batch of dough, or just serve mashed potatoes with onions at your next meal. If you have too many fried onions, save them in a glass jar and use them next time you make something with fried onions, which in our house, was almost every meal.  If you run out of filling before the dough, just freeze the leftover dough and use it when you have some extra apples or peaches or blueberries and make a strudel.

 This dough is very versatile and can be used with any filling, sweet or savory, using the same method.  Some of my mother’s specialties were cheese knishes (farmers cheese with onions and dill, mixed with a little egg to hold the mixture together) and raisin strudel (finely chopped raisins and nuts held together with a little strawberry or apricot jam, with the dough topped with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar), all of them tightly rolled in the same dough and cut into those perfect bite-sized pieces