Pho gà-Vietnamese Spiced Chicken Soup


Before we get to the pho, some exciting news. On Sunday November 17th we are doing another pop up night at Congregation Ezras Israel. Last time we did a pop up night it was sold out, so make sure and get your reservations in ASAP. The menu this time is Vietnamese (hence the pho recipe, which will also be served at the pop up). I love the super bright flavors used in Vietnamese cooking. Your taste buds will be rocked by anise, lemongrass and ginger. See below for the full details. Make sure you register for the event before registration closes this Sunday, November 10th!



PhoPho, pronounced fuh, is a Vietnamese street food staple soup that is influenced by Chinese immigrants and French settlers and was later made popular across the world after the Vietnam war by refugees. It is usually made with boiling beef stock poured over thinly sliced raw beef. If you go that route, make sure to slice the beef super thin (partially freezing it first helps) and make sure the stock is boiling so the beef cooks., You can make pho with chicken as in this recipe, pork, or even vegetables. If you make a version with chicken (or pork for our non-kosher friends) I recommend precooking the protein. Unlike beef, you never want to serve rare chicken or pork.

What makes pho different than your Bubby’s chicken soup? It is seasoned with aggressive spices such as ginger, clove, and star anise.  Pho is almost always served with rice noodles, and usually comes with a series of accompaniments such as chilies, cilantro, Thai basil, lime, bean sprouts, and scallions. I recommend just giving everyone a bowl with only broth and noodles and putting all the extras on a big platter in the middle of the table so your guests can choose what they want. I think people enjoy what I like to call “interactive eating”. Who says you can’t play with your food??



5 from 1 vote
phở gà-Vietnamese Spiced Chicken Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins

A little Jewish penicillin with some Asian flare

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Keyword: Pho
Servings: 8 Bowls
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1/2 Gallon Chicken Stock See recipe for chicken soup below or use store bought in a pinch
  • 6 Cloves Garlic Peeled and smashed
  • 1 Large Onion Peeled and quartered
  • 2 inch Piece of Fresh Ginger Peeled
  • 2 Sticks Cinnamon
  • 3 Star Anise Pods
  • 6 Cloves Cloves
  • 1 tbsp (Vegan) Fish Sauce or Soy Sauce See my recipe for vegan fish sauce below
Add Ins
  • Rice Noodles Cooked per the directions on the package
  • Fresh Chili Peppers Sliced thinly on a bias
  • Scallions Sliced thinly on a bias
  • Cilantro Stems removed
  • Lime Cut into wedges
  • Thai Basil Stems removed
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Shredded Roast Chicken This is a great way to use up leftovers or you can you use grocery store rotisserie chicken in a pinch.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the garlic, onion, and ginger on the sheet pan. Roast until the aromatics begin to brown.

  2. Add the roasted aromatics, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, and chicken stock to a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes and strain out the solids.

  3. Add the noodles to the bowl and cover with the broth. Top with your favorite add ins and squeeze in some lime juice for some brightness.

5 from 1 vote
Chicken Soup
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs

A classic kosher comfort dish.  It's good for what ails you, they don't call it Jewish penicillin for nothing. I don't like anything too fancy in my chicken soup so I stay away from things like zucchini and tomatoes, but if you like them feel free to add them, it won't hurt anything.  

One final note, your soup will never taste as good as your mother's for 2 reasons:

1. Memories are a strong force

2. She probably added some soup mix with MSG to give it that little something extra.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Jewish
Servings: 1 Large Pot
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 4 Medium Carrots Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 4 Ribs Celery Rinsed, tops and bottoms cut off and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Large Sweet Potato Peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Turnip Peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 Parsnip Peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 1 Onion Peeled and roughly chopped
  • Salt To taste
  • Pepper To taste
  • 1 Handful Dill
  • 1 Handful Parsley
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 4 Chicken Leg Quarters Remove and save the fat and skin to make schmaltz
  1. Put all the ingredients in your largest pot and fill with enough water to cover everything, making sure not to fill too high in order to prevent it from boiling over.

  2. Cover the pot and put over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the soup is at a boil remove the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.

  3. Let the soup simmer for about four hours or until the soup reduces by about 15%.

  4. Remove chicken from the bones, adding the chicken back in to the soup and discarding the bones.  Serve within a week or freeze for up to six months. 

0 from 0 votes
Vegan "Fish" Sauce
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Fish sauce is a sauce used to add a little funk to a dish.  Fish sauce is usually made by fermenting small fish such as anchovies in salt and then pressing out the liquid from it. While kosher fish sauce is available, I chose to make my own vegan fish sauce as many people who eat strictly kosher do not mix fish with meat or fowl. To create the requisite funk I used a quartet of fermented products, some of which can be hard to find. For that reason, even though I usually shy away from recommending specific brands, I make an exception here. I ended up buying much of what I needed at Whole Foods, but most they can of course be found on

Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Fish Sauce
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  1. Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir until all the solids are dissolved. 

Recipe Notes

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Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s pop up preview recipe: Vietnamese Coconut Lime Rice Pudding with Mango (Xôi xoài)

Spinach Ravioli With Alfredo Sauce

Spinach RavioliWelcome Home

We sent my eldest son to sleep away camp for the first time this year.  While my wife was nervous about him being away from home, he was very excited to be free from chores for a month. He spent four weeks enjoying himself, playing a lot of sports, making new friends, and going on a lot of trips, but as everyone knows, camp food can be somewhat basic. Now I am sure he was well fed (the chef is a friend of mine), but I wanted to make something special for his first dinner back home. That being said, while my son is not the world’s most adventurous eater, he does really like spinach ravioli. He encountered it at a Sheva Brachot at a restaurant several years ago and has loved the dish ever since.

The Nine Days

I also wanted find a recipe to share that was vegetarian, which I know is usually Rachel’s domain, but the “Nine Days” are approaching at the end of this week. What are the  “Nine Days” you ask and what does it have to do with vegetarian food? On the Jewish calendar, the Nine Days which begin on the first day of the Jewish month of Av, are a traditional time of mourning for several historical tragedies that befell the Jewish people. They culminate with the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, a fast day known as Tisha Ba’Av. As a sign of mourning, many Jews have a tradition to abstain from eating meat during this period. Spinach ravioli fit this bill nicely.

Yes It Is Worth The Effort

Why make your own spinach ravioli when you can just buy it in a box from the freezer section of your favorite supermarket? Sure, it’s time consuming, but it is fairly easy and if you take the time, your family will be able to taste the love you put in it. Also, when it comes to making things from scratch, pasta will impress people with minimal effort.  It also cooks very quickly, so once they are formed you can have them on the table in two minutes. You can also make a large batch and freeze them on a cookie sheet and pull out a handful and cook just what you need, at a fraction of the price of buying them in the store.

0 from 0 votes
Spinach Ravioli
Homemade Spinach Ravioli With Alfredo Sauce
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
1 hr
Total Time
3 hrs 30 mins

This a great way to get your kids to eat their spinach. There is spinach in the dough, filling and sauce. Is it a lot of work? Yes. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely. Don't try to rush this recipe. This is a recipe that you should devote a Sunday to. With a little time and a lot of love, your pasta will come out great.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta, ravioli, spinach
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 bunch Fresh Spinach About 1/2 pound. Washed, stems trimmed, and roughly chopped.
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 Large Onion Diced
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Spinach About 1/2 pound. Washed, stems trimmed, and roughly chopped.
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 15 oz Ricotta Cheese
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Chopped fine
  • 3 tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Grated
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Spinach About 1/2 pound. Washed, stems trimmed, and roughly chopped.
  • 1 Large Egg Beaten
  • All Purpose Flour To keep the pasta from sticking
  1. Add half the butter to a large saute pan and place over medium heat. Saute spinach until it is wilted. Do not overcook the spinach as it will shrink down significantly. Move the spinach to bowl and allow it to cool.

  2. Once the spinach is cooled, use your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Catch the liquid in a bowl and reserve for later.

  3. Add the spinach to your food processor fitted with the S-blade and process until the spinach is smooth. If you are having trouble getting the spinach to puree to a smooth consistency slowly add the liquid from the spinach back into the mixture.

  4. Once the spinach is smooth, switch to the dough blade and add the flour, eggs and oil. Process until the dough comes to together in to a ball. If it looks a little dry add some more or the spinach liquid or some water. Be careful not to over process otherwise your dough will be tough.

  5. Remove the dough from the food processor to the a lightly floured counter. If the dough still looks a little shaggy, knead by hand until a smooth ball is formed. Once the dough forms a smooth ball, wrap tightly in plastic and put in the refrigerator to rest for at least as hour.

  1. Add the butter to a saute pan and put over medium heat. Add the onions and salt to pan and saute until the onions start to brown. Add the spinach and saute until the spinach is wilted.

  2. Move the spinach and onion mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the ricotta and stir until the spinach is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

  1. Add the butter and garlic to a large saute pan. Once the butter is melted, add the flour. Stir, coating all of the flour and cook until the mixture just begins to brown. This mixture is called a roux.

  2. Add the cream, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to the roux. Stir to combine, making sure to get all of the roux off of the bottom of the pan so it does not burn.

  3. Bring the sauce to a bare simmer being careful not to allow it to boil, and add the spinach. The sauce is done once the spinach is wilted.

Assembly and Final Cooking
  1. Roll out the pasta dough into two long sheets. Use a pasta roller if you have one, it it will make your life much easier. Start on the widest setting, moving one interval thinner each time. You can use a rolling pin if you don't have a pasta roller but your dough will likely be thicker, changing the texture.

  2. Place one of the sheets on a lightly floured counter. Starting about an inch from the end put a teaspoon of filling every two inches centered vertically.

  3. Brush egg along the edges and between each mound of filling. Carefully place the the second sheet of dough on top. Press the top sheet down over around the filling, pushing out any air.

  4. Trim the edges with a pastry cutter or a sharp knife to make sure you have straight edges and cut between each ravioli evenly.

  5. Place a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat. Once the water comes to boil, add the raviolis in batches. Cook until they float to the surface. It should only take about a minute.

  6. Remove the raviolis from the water to a bowl or plate with a slotted spoon. Add as much sauce as you like, and eat immediately.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s latest “Nine Days” recipe, Wild Salmon Sweet Potato Sliders with Garlic Chive Mayo or any of our vegetarian recipes.

South Florida Trip-Kosher Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago my wife and I headed down to South Florida for some restaurant hopping and relaxation. Here is a review of the kosher restaurants we tried while we were down there.

Fried CauliflowerStraight from the airport we grabbed lunch at Mozart Cafe in Hollywood.  The first thing I noticed was the menu was absolutely massive for a cafe.  Of course there was sushi on the menu, because it wouldn’t be a kosher joint without it.  In my Pizzaopinion, large menus are a sign of an unfocused restaurant and the details end up getting lost in the shuffle.  The food was decent but a bit forgettable, the service was efficient but waiter seemed like he needed to switch to decaf. We sat inside and to be honest we would have been better outside despite a little bit of heat as the decor was a bit boring and the walls were dingy. Also, we received more than one item on chipped plates, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Chipped Plate

We started with breaded tempura cauliflower served with a sweet chili sauce to share. It was definitely breaded and not tempura.  I am not sure why they used the term tempura in the description.  The portion size was sufficient,  which is the least I would expect for $9 appetizer and the sauce tasted like it was out of a bottle.

My wife ordered gnocchi with a garlic alfredo sauce ($17.45).  The gnocchi tasted mass produced and were way over sauced. I ordered their Milano pizza ($11.50) which was what I think of as a Margarita (fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomato) with the addition of shredded mozzarella and tomato sauce.  Overall the pizza was fine, but I suspect the crust may have been mass produced. An 18% tip was automatically added.  Overall it was sufficient for a quick lunch but not particularly impressive and a bit over-priced.

Short Rib FlatbreadFor dinner the first night, we headed to Harbour Bistro the sister restaurant to Harbour Grill, in Surfside. The best way I can describe this place is a super high end deli.  Don’t think chicken soup and mile high sandwiches, rather think hand crafted sausages and artisan cured meats.  The restaurant is a little on the small side and feels a bit cramped, and did have a small issue with a leaky refrigerator, but once I pointed it out the waitress it was quickly cleaned up. Generally the service was excellent and the food was excellent.

My wife started with the Short Rib Flat Bread ($26) with caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms which she thoroughly enjoyed.  I tasted it and found it very good.  The bread was a little thicker than I expected.  My guess is that was done intentionally to handle the volume and moisture of the toppings.

I started with the homemade Sausage Platter, ($24) an assortment of 2 merguez and 2 lamb chorizo.  The flavor and texture Lamb Sausagewere excellent.  You could tell it was homemade and not your average mass produced hot dog.  Honestly it ate like a small meal itself.

Charcuterie BoardI followed that up with the Charcuterie Platter ($34) which a spectacular display of cured meat products.  I could not even begin to remember all the varieties presented, but know that it changes daily based on availability.  The assortment ranged from super rich to downright funky, but I enjoyed it.  I would recommend splitting this dish with at least one other person as it is a lot of food and can be a little overwhelming.

My wife order the Rib Eye ($52) described on the menu as a certified prime rib eye dry aged for 6 weeks and pan seared. It is served with sauteed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  She seemed to enjoy it and the bite I had was tasty.

For desSteaksert we shared what they called an Opera ($15).  It seamed to be some sort of hybrid of a napoleon and tiramisu.  It was fairly enjoyable and well presented.

While the wine list was large enough for me, I found the number of wines available by the glass a little low, most were only available by the bottle.

Overall the food was excellent both in taste and presentation and the service was excellent. However, the ambiance was slightly lacking, detracted by the open deli counter and the noise of the slicer and vacuum sealer.

For brunch the second day we went to Grand Cafe in Hollywood.  Of the three restaurants we caught lunch at, all Israeli style dairy cafes, this was the best. This time we sat Croissant Specialoutside and enjoyed the 80 degree weather, although the ambiance suffers slightly due to the fact it is a strip mall and occasionally you catch a whiff of cigarettes from the smoking section.  Even though they were fairly busy for a late morning in the middle of the week, the service Waffleswas very attentive, although we were cared for by multiple servers which was a bit confusing.  We started with a warmed chocolate croissant ($4) and a potato boreka ($2) which were generally good. My wife had a the croissant special ($10.45), which is a croissant omelet sandwich with cheese and tomato.  She thought is was excellent even though she does not usually like tomatoes.  I had the Belgium waffles ($12) and a cafe mocha ($4.45), both were good but nothing to write home about.  Overall a good meal.

Mocha Latte


For dinner the second night we headed back to Surfside to Backyard BBQ and Brew.  Before I go ahead with my review, as a matter of full disclosure I want to admit a bias. I consider Mendel Segal, the Pit Master at Backyard BBQ a friend.  I have competed both against him and in BBQ competitions that he has organized.  That being said I will do my best to be objective.

Pecan Pie

First thing I want to say is while they Backyard BBQ is open late like many restaurants in South Florida, get there early because the good stuff sells out fast.  We got there around 8 PM and all forms of beef ribs were done for the day.  The menu was printed on a simple piece of paper in a plastic sheet protector, which I will chalk up to the fact that they recently reopened with a new menu. They have a couple of televisions which I find distracting, but according to Mendel the restaurant gets a sizable crowd for football games. The service was excellent, the waiter was very attentive.  The best way I could describe the decor was elegantly rustic, which I enjoyed.

We started with the Brisket Truffle Poutine Fries ($18).  The fries looked fresh and hand cut in house. The gravy was nice and rich, and the brisket shreds were moist, although I don’t know that I got much truffle from the dish, but overall a good dish.  On the menu it says, “Ask about our combo platters,”   so I asked Mendel to make me a platter of whatever he thought was good that night.  I ended up with a combo including a 2/3 of an order of brisket ($20), a full order of burnt ends ($25), and a 1/2 order of lamb ribs ($21) along with sides of red skin mashed potatoes and green beans.  The brisket and burnt ends were excellent as I have come to expect from Mendel as the winningest man in kosher BBQ.  Although, as far as the lamb ribs were concerned I found the crust from the rub and the fat both to be a bit thick relative to the amount of meat on them, which I attribute more to the anatomy of the animal than the cook, and for what they cost I would not order them again.

They have a great craft beer list.  I was looking for something on the lighter side, so I ordered a Shiner Ruby Redbird, a grapefruit flavored beer.  While I found it refreshing I did not get much grapefruit flavor from it. Mendel also brought me over another beer on the house, a stout that someone had brought him that I found excellent. We ended the meal with the bourbon pecan pie which I highly recommend. Like I said at the beginning, I am biased, but if you are in the mood for some real deal kosher BBQ, this place is not to be missed.

Also check out Rachel’s husband Elliot’s Review: Backyard BBQ & Brew in Surfside, FL

BBQ Combo

On day 3 we had brunch at Yumberry in Hollywood wTuna Melthich was somewhat Yumberry Cauliflowerunimpressive.  Similar to when we we went to Mozart Cafe we started with cauliflower tempura ($9), described as battered deep-fried cauliflower served with chili sauce.  The dish was very similar to Mozart’s.  Yumberry’s cauliflower also seemed to be breaded and not battered and the sweet chili sauced seemed like the same bottled sauce as Mozart.

My wife had a tuna panini ($13) which see said was decent, although not particularly remarkable.  I had a shakshuka ($12). The eggs in that shakshuka were cooked over easy and then added to the sauce (which I found a bit thin), despite my specific request to have the eggs cooked in the sauce.  I also had the Yum Berry coffee, a mocha cappuccino with whipped cream.  It seemed a bit small, and lacked some oomph.  Overall the meal was unimpressive.


Foozo PizzaFoozo FriesLater that day we grabbed a quick early early dinner at Foozo.  The food did take a bit of time but was generally pretty good.  The pizza topping options were creative and the sauce and crust overall pretty good, although it could have been just a tad thicker as it got a bit soggy.  The fries were a bit of let down though, as they seemed to be a mass produced frozen product.

Zac PastriesWe stopped at Serendipity in Wynwood for some ice cream before leaving but they were closed to do a pop-up event offsite. So we walked up the street and grabbed some pastries from the popular Zak the Baker.  One of these days I will get to his new restaurant, as we had been to their old location a few years ago, and their stuff is the real deal, laden with rich butter and flaky puff pastry.

All in all it was nice to visit some restaurants that we don’t have in Chicago and of course the weather was definitely better than back home.