Chef Laura Frankel

LAURA FRANKEL is the former chef and founder of the Shallots restaurants. Frankel has training and extensive experience in both savory and pastry kitchens. After Frankel had a family and began maintaining a kosher home she found that there was nowhere in Chicago serving the quality of food that she knew she could offer. She opened her first restaurant in 1999 offering kosher fine dining with a produce-driven menu. Frankel opened Shallots NY in 2000 in Mid-town Manhattan. Frankel has run restaurants in Chicago and New York and has taught cooking classes across the country. She is the author of JEWISH COOKING FOR ALL SEASONS, John Wiley and Sons publishers and is currently working on her second kosher cookbook. Frankel has recently accepted the post as Executive Chef and head of food services at the Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and café at the Spertus Institute for Jewish studies in Chicago Her website is Before committing herself to her culinary passion, she played both alto and baritone saxophones. She taught and played professionally. Frankel has 3 children. Zachary-20, Ari-17 and Jonah-13 who all love to cook and eat great food!

Chef Laura Frankel's Website »

Yid.Dish: Crema di Zucca (Pumpkin Soup)


Here is part 2 of Chef Laura’s Italian Rosh Hashanah menu. Find part one – an apple cake with apple cider honey zabaglione – here.  Yes, yes, we’re featuring two soup recipes in a row on The Jew & The Carrot – but what is fall without an abundance of warm, creamy soups?!

Autumn in Tuscany looks a lot like the neighborhood pumpkin patch I remember visiting when I was a kid – with pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors piled high. This versatile vegetable stores well for winter, is easily canned and is frequently featured in savory dishes. And this luxuriously textured soup is a perfect example of cucina povera, which is the practice of using what is readily available and seasonal.

Btai Avon!

Yid.Dish: Duck, Duck Goose(berry)!


As a chef, summer is my favorite time of the year. I do not enjoy the weather so much (read: I hate the heat), but I love the gorgeous, unusual fruits and vegetables in the market. This week I couldn’t wait to schlep home my bounty that included one of my summer favorites – the gooseberry.

Gooseberries are similar to currants in their tartness and texture. They come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green to dark crimson. Generally too tart to be eaten from hand, they are delicious combined with sweeter fruits and are an amazing addition to lighter wine sauces.

My recipe for Duck Confit with Gooseberry Sauce (see below the jump) is a dish I will be featuring this week at a wine degustation dinner at Puck’s at Spertus Institute. The sauce is similar to an aigredoux – sweet and sour – but with attitude. It also features one of my favorite shmaltz atlernatives: Duck Fat! Plan ahead if you are going to try this recipe, as kosher ducks are always frozen. You can also serve this sauce with chicken or fish if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Yid.Dish: Roasted Strawberry Salad & Goat Cheese Croutons

Shavuot is one of my favorite culinary holidays. It’s one of the few holidays where dairy dishes do not get pushed aside by meat (though I certainly have nothing against meat!) and get to be the star of the show. It’s also the celebration of Bikkurim (first fruits), which commemorates the bringing of the Seven Species of Israel (barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates) to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Strawberries are not technically one of the seven species, but they are definitely among the “first fruits” of the spring season here in America. In the recipe below, I’ve paired sweet roasted strawberries with medallions of fried goat cheese and a honey lavender vinaigrette. What could taste more like springtime than that?

Recipe below the jump.

Spotlight On: Charoset


There has been a lot of talk about charoset on The Jew & The Carrot lately. Reader Maddie commented: “I’ve always anticipated the crunch of the matzah mixed with the tangy zip of the apples, cinnamon, and raisins….mmm, can’t wait!” Contributor Alix Wall’s family sculpts their charoset into a pyramid shape, reminiscent of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. What the blog has lacked however, is a good solid recipe for the stuff. I’m here to change all that.

In my kitchen, I’ve moved beyond the traditional Ashkenazi-style charoset many Jews grew up eating. Although the traditional recipe is quite good, there are too many opportunities to mix things up – Sephardic recipes that replace raisins with sticky dates and figs, or even unexpected variations and flavors. But really, why choose? I like to make several different types of charoset and do a charoset tasting with my guests. After all, the seder is supposed to be fun!

Try these three charoset recipes at your seder – you might just start a new tradition!

Yid.Dish: Persian Chiffon Cake

chiffon2.jpgThe saffron in the cake adds not only its distinctive beautiful color but also an elegant earthiness. Remember, rosewater and orange blossom water (which can be found in the baking sections of most grocery stores) are exotic and potent. A little goes a long way.

This recipe can also be used to make a gorgeous batch of cupcakes. Make each one a work of art by decorating the tops with non-sprayed rose petals and dried, candied orange rind.

Yid.Dish: Lamb Tagine


I have made and served lamb tagine to thousands of customers for over the last decade. Quite by accident it became my signature dish and we have been linked together forever! I used to have dreams about lamb tagine, I made it so often – and yet, I never tire of making this fragrant dish.

I love the whole process of putting together my spice mix, browning the meat and finally enjoying the big “tah dah” as I remove the tagine cover and the first whiff of pure “heaven” wafts through the air. (I had a waiter who told me that I should come up with a lamb tagine scented candle.) While not a Persian dish, the exotic flavors will instantly take you to the Middle East. I like to call this dish “Middle Eastern comfort food.”

Serves 6+

Yid.Dish: Fall in Love with Chocolate Mousse


I don’t know what it is, but I have been craving chocolate for weeks. I always enjoy the velvety, luscious stuff, but recently things have gotten out of hand.

It may be the time of year. I don’t mean the holiday set aside for eating chocolate and receiving roses, though the red cupids in florists’ windows may have a subliminal effect. It also isn’t my insatiable sweet tooth – I can bake whenever I want.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the culprits are these amazing new cocoa and chocolate bath products I bought.

One For Each Night…

I love latkes! I love the crispy slightly greasy oniony treat that is a familiar sight on Hanukkah. Give me apple sauce; give me sour cream, just give latkes.

At least for the first night. Then give me something else.

This week I am teaching Chicago-area Hanukkah revelers different gastronomic delights that fulfill the mitzvah of eating something fried. Below are some of the recipes. Have a Freylich Hanukkah!

Latke Time!

caviarlatke.jpgAt your next Hanukkah party why stop at topping the fried crispy beauties with just apple sauce or sour cream? Have a latke bar! Place a large platter of latkes out and add bowls of toppings.

See how, below the jump…


I was just in Los Angeles and saw a bus stop sign exclaiming in huge letters “Mazel Tov on YOUR kosher Subway”. Ironically, I checked my email shortly after the sighting and before I had time to digest the gist of the message I saw another kosher Subway had just opened in New York.  

Someone hold me, I’m scared!

Some fun things to do with pumpkin

When my kids were younger we went through the annual battle that always concluded with someone (usually me) in tears. Halloween is a Jewish child’s enemy. Every year I tried to circumnavigate the whole situation by buying candy and renting scary movies. This was sort of a good solution though the idea of running wild through neighborhoods with friends dressed as batman, an army guy, or whatever the costume du jour was that year was all most too much. My youngest son (Jonah is 13) recently confessed to having “done it” last year. The conversation went something like this. “You know Halloween is not that big a deal Mom”, “I know, I have been telling you that for years. Ummmm, how do you know?” 

Dessert Defense

It always happens every time I perform a demo. I am rolling along with whatever the menu du jour is and I am all excited and enthusiastic about the food and ingredients (I can be quite dramatic at a demo). Then I get to dessert and it all goes south on me. Invariably someone asks me about pareve desserts.

I cannot stand fake food. I never use margarine and non-dairy creamer in place of butter and cream. I just don’t trade lipid for lipid and white liquid for white liquid. I end up in heated battles at these demos with home cooks telling me how great their margarine cakes are and how dare I suggest otherwise?!

Kosher Teaching/Teaching Kosher


I have the greatest job in the world. I have said it before in my book Jewish Cooking for All Seasons (John Wiley and Sons) and I’ll say it again. I am a chef. I get to make delicious things for people to eat all day long. Chocolate is my playground, great olive oils are my toys and the best produce is mine for the taking. I get to do this all day long and I get paid for it! I am a chef-with a twist. I am the new Executive Chef for Wolfgang Puck Catering at the Spertus Institute in Chicago.

I can’t wait to get into the new building next month with my brand new kitchens, all gleaming shiny and bright. I can’t wait to show the Jewish Community, that after 10 years of cooking kosher in my former restaurants (Shallots, Shallots NY and Shallots Bistro) that I have many tricks still up my sleeve. But, there is a catch.

Yid.Dish: Pumpkin Risotto


See the original recipe
6 baby pumpkins-tops cut off and reserved, hollowed out to create a cavity

2 T. butter
2 T. Olive oil
1 shallot chopped
1 clove of garlic-chopped
1 ¾ cups Arborio rice
2 pints boiling vegetable stock
1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup of cream
3 T. Mascarpone cheese
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh herbs for garnish

Toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

1. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over low heat until translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with the butter.