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Debby Segura is a designer, gourmet cook, and professional cooking teacher. Debby has been featured by the Jewish Journal, The Orthodox Union, and Kosher.com Visit her at debbysegura.com

New Year, New Chefs: Cooking with Kids by Chef Debby Segura


We all want a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year! One time-honored way to internalize that sweetness is by literally eating it! Beyond dipping the apple in the honey, bringing others into our kitchens to share the joys of baking, cooking and creating our sweet symbols helps us craft our own special holiday! Open your hearts and open your kitchens to a wonderful, inclusive experience. Start the New Year off with a flourish.

Cooking with kids is always a supervised experience, and picking the right recipes is key. Select your recipe(s) with care: They need to be age appropriate, safe, reliable and yet simple to make, while still yielding yummy, successful results. Watching bread rise, peeling apples, measuring, mixing and stirring are unique and memorable experiences, and of course, the aroma of fresh baked challah! Also, please don’t be put off by the bread recipes. If you don’t want to make dough yourself, 3 bags of Trader Joe’s Plain Pizza Dough can be substituted for 1 batch of Egg Challah dough. Easy Peasy!

There is a deep satisfaction that any kid (or adult!) feels when they bring their own creation to the table to share what they have made. That is what brings me here. That feeling is my joy, my reason for cooking, my reason for writing, my way to show love.

As with any project, give yourself plenty of time. Pick a morning or an afternoon in early September, well in advance of the Holidays, and choose a recipe that looks good to you. Gather all the supplies and ingredients you’ll need and set it all up. And then invite your special people, maybe a child, a grandparent, or a neighbor, to come cook up something delicious with you.

Afterwards, when all is said and done, the kitchen can be cleaned up, and the treasures you baked together can be sampled and savored, and then carefully wrapped, labeled, and frozen. Like so much that is great about life, all those delicious creations will be devoured so quickly. But the memory of that one September day when you made something wonderful will be sweet and lasting.

Living, Loving and Joy: Is there a better way to start the New Year? L’Shana Tova u’Metuka! May we all reach out to each other and be part of creating a Good, Sweet, Happy New Year.

Challahs & Honey Buns

Kids love to play with dough and these simple recipes are fun for kids. Each recipe starts with a 

basic dough (recipe below) that is easy to make, or you can purchase ready-made bread or pizza dough. Either will work. Buy the dough with the best “Sell By” date available and refrigerate it right away. Before shaping the dough, don’t bother letting it come to room temperature; just use it cold, straight out of the refrigerator.

Round Egg Challahs

Symbols of a Good, Complete Year

Yield: 2 medium challahs or 24 tiny panezicos. Panezicos is a Ladino word meaning “little breads” and are a mainstay of the traditional Sephardic table. 

1 Batch basic dough or 3 bags of pre-made bread or pizza dough,  

16 oz each.


Egg wash mixture: 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of oil, beaten together with 1 

tablespoon water 

Turbinado sugar or cinnamon sugar for a Sweet Year. For Panezicos, sesame seeds are traditional.

For two Challahs, spray two round cake pans (9”, 8”, or 6” round cake pans 

are all good.) with non-stick cooking spray. 

For two Challahs, spray two round cake pans (9”, 8”, or 6” round cake pans are all good.) with non-stick cooking spray. Divide your dough in half. From the first half of the dough, take about a quarter of that dough and make a round, flat pad of dough about 5” across. Place the dough pad in the center of the first prepared pan. On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining ¾ of that piece of dough into an 18” long “snake” which is about 2” thick but narrows at one end. Place the wide end of the “snake” on the edge of the dough pad and coil it around in an upward “snail” shape, ending with the narrow end of the “snake” at the center of the bread. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough, placing it in the second pan.

For Panezicos, cut your dough into 24 small, walnut-size pieces. Spray a 24-muffin tin or a large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the first piece of dough into a “snake” shape, about 8” long. Coil it to form a small snail shape, ending with a narrow tail at the center of the roll. Place it either in a muffin tin or on a cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining 23 little pieces of dough. 

Lightly spray the tops of the Challahs or Panezicos with nonstick cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F for 2 Challahs or to 375F for the Panezicos. Place a rack just below the center of the oven. Remove the top rack. 

Gently paint the tops of the Challahs with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds, Turbinado sugar, or cinnamon sugar as desired. Place the shapes on a cooking sheet, in cake pans or in muffin tins as desired. Place the breads into the preheated oven. Look in on the breads in about 20 minutes, and if the sugar on top of the breads browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil. 

Continue baking until the breads are fully cooked, about 35-40 minutes for the Challahs or 17-20 minutes for the Panezicos. When cool enough to handle, gently remove the bread from their pan(s) and cool on a rack.

Apple-Filled Challah

(Adapted from a recipe by Barbara Gindi)

Symbol of Roundness for a Good, Complete Year, filled with Apples and Honey for Sweetness.

Yield: 2 medium sized challot

1 Batch basic dough or 3 bags of pre-made bread or pizza dough, 16 oz each


3 apples, peeled cored and diced 

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons canola oil


Egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 

tablespoon water, mixed)

Cinnamon sugar

While dough is rising, prepare the filling. Combine the apple cubes, lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon. Cover and set aside. 

Spray two 8” round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Take one half of the dough and cut off a quarter of it and form that quarter piece into a 6” round pad of dough. Place the dough pad in the prepared cake pan. 

 On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining ¾ of that dough into a rectangle (about 9”x18”). Cover the dough evenly with half the filling, leaving a 1” empty border all around. Starting with an 18” side, roll the rectangle into a long snake, sealing the ends well with your fingertips, and then sealing the long end. On top of the piece of dough already in the prepared pan, gently coil the long roll, seam side down, into a snail-like shape to form a round challah, ending with the narrow end of the “snake” at the center of the bread, turned upward. Repeat with the second half of the dough and place it in its prepared pan. Lightly spray the challahs with non-stick cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap, allowing the challahs to double in size, about an hour. 

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush the Challahs with egg wash and generously sprinkle with innamon sugar or Turbinado sugar as desired. Bake in the center of the prepared oven. Look in on the Challahs in about 20 minutes, and if the sugar on top of the bread is browning too quickly, tent it loosely with foil. Continue baking for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the Challahs from the oven to cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the challahs from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a rack.

Honey-Cinnamon Buns

with Pomegranate Glaze*

Symbols of Sweetness (Honey) and Mitzvahs 


Yield: 2 batches of Honey Buns: Each batch 

serves 12

1 Batch basic dough or 3 bags 

of pre-made bread or pizza 

dough, 16 oz each.


½ cup honey or loosely packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

POMEGRANATE GLAZE: This pomegranate glaze is worth the effort. The deep pink glaze looks gorgeous with fresh pomegranate seeds, and its flavor is somewhere between Sour Sticks and Gummy Bears! If you cannot find pomegranate juice concentrate to color your glaze, you an substitute grenadine syrup.

3 cups powdered sugar, stirred well to break up any clumps 1 to 2 tablespoons Pomegranate Concentrate (Sadaf Brand is both pretty and naturally colored) 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Hot water added a teaspoon at a time to thin the glaze as directed below.

Divide the dough in half. Place a parchment paper round at the bottoms of two 9” round pans. Spray the pans and the parchment with non-stick cooking spray. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the first piece of dough out to create an 18”x9” rectangle, about ¼” thick. Spread the honey or brown sugar on the rectangle while being sure to leave a ½” border on the long side furthest from you. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the honey or brown sugar evenly. Moisten the ½” border of dough with ½ teaspoon or so of water. Roll the long side of the rectangle tightly toward the moistened long side of the rectangle and seal it and the sides of the roll closed. 

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 pieces of equal width. Place the rounds of dough into the prepared pan. Spray the rounds of dough with a bit more non-stick cooking spray ond piece of dough. Preheat the oven to 350F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Allow the dough to rise until it is just about level with the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to an hour. 

Place both pans in the preheated oven and bake about 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. 

When the buns are cool, make the GLAZE by whisking the powdered sugar, pomegranate concentrate and lemon juice together. Add hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to create a glaze that is thick but can still be drizzled (being careful not to add too much liquid!). After the glaze begins to set, about 5 minutes, sprinkle some fresh, red pomegranate seeds on top of the buns. Serve at room temperature.

Lady Apple “Cordials”

Symbols of Sweetness

I didn’t realize how great these tiny “liquor”-filled baked apples could be until I saw two children clicking them together and wishing each other L’Chaim!

Yield: 18 servings 18 Lady Apples (or other variety of small apple) 18 cubes of brown sugar (If you cannot find brown sugar cubes, white sugar cubes will do.)

Allow the Lady Apples Cordials too cool before serving.

Scrub each apple until clean and residue-free. With the small end of a melon scoop, remove the stem and seeds of the apple, being careful not to scoop through the bottom of the fruit. If you like, with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, peel away a narrow border or collar of skin around each round opening. Insert a cube or two of sugar into the hollow of each apple. Place the apples into a shallow casserole dish and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Watch as the apples cook as the little apples should be soft to the touch yet still retain their form. Do not over-cook.

New Year ’ s Simanim Salad

So many symbols of the New Year in one salad! Serves 8-10


1 large head of butter lettuce 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves (Spinach is a symbol of a purified heart.) Seeds of ½ a pomegranate (Pomegranate seeds symbolize the Mitzvahs.), all rind and white membrane having been gently removed ¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (Pumpkins symbolize Divine Protection) ½ yellow apple (Apples with sugar or honey symbolize sweetness.) ½ red apple 8 pitted dried dates (Dates symbolize an end to negative things in our lives.) 


¼ cup Canola oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar 

1 tablespoon minced leek (Leeks symbolize ridding ourselves of people who wish us harm.)

2 tablespoons Honey (Honey is a symbol of pure sweetness!)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of Cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the pumpkin seeds evenly on a cookie sheet. Spray the pumpkin seeds with non-stick cooking spray and salt lightly if desired. Gently bake the pumpkin seeds until some begin to plump, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and place them on a glass plate to quickly cool. Core the apples, leaving on the colorful skin, dice into ½” chunks. Cut dates into ¼” rings. Thoroughly clean lettuce and spinach leaves and tear into bitesize pieces.

Puree all DRESSING ingredients in a blender, or similar appliance and then place in a tightly lidded jar. Refrigerate until 15 minutes before using. 

To serve, arrange the salad greens and most of the seeds, dates and apples in a large bowl. Toss with some of the vinaigrette until well combined. (You will have extra dressing. Refrigerate until needed). Place the remaining seeds apples and dates on top of the salad as garnishes. Serve immediately.

Basic Dough Recipe


4 ½ cups Better for Bread flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon (or 2 envelopes) Instant or Rapid Rise Yeast

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt



1 egg or 2 tablespoons of oil

3 tablespoons Canola oil (or any flavorless oil)

Warm water

In the work bowl of a 14-cup food processor, place the DRY INGREDIENTS: the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, add the WET INGREDIENTS: an egg and canola oil. Add warm water to the WET INGREDIENTS in the measuring cup, for a total of 1 7/8 cups. Reserve. 

Place the top on the food processor and turn it on. Pour in the WET INGREDIENTS. Watch carefully, and when the dough just starts to form one cohesive ball, allow the machine to continue running precisely 60 seconds, to complete kneading. If you prefer you can knead by hand on a clean, hard, lightly floured surface, using the heels of your hands, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 20 minutes. 

Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Remove the dough from the food processor (or the dough you kneaded by hand) and place it in the prepared bowl. Rotate the dough once to coat it with the spray and cover the bowl of dough loosely with plastic wrap. 

Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down to remove air bubbles.


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