Tri-color cheesecake squares

By | June 2, 2014


This recipe and story appear in the June 2, 2014 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my cooking column in Binah magazine. (On stands now!)

Shavuos and I have not been getting along.

The irony of it is that we should be the best of friends. Dairy foods are my favorites, and my vegetarian kitchen is entirely milchigs, if you don’t count the small pareve shelf. Since Shavuos is the perfect opportunity to indulge in dairy’s best, it’s the yom tov that I look forward to making all year. And since it’s the chag when people expect to be eating dairy anyway, it’s my ideal hosting time.

And yet, I haven’t made Shavuos once since I got married. Rosh HaShanah, Succos? Yes and yes. Pesach? Every year. But not Shavuos. There’s always some reason.

Year one: It’s the day before erev Shavuos, and I spend the whole of it working on my husband’s birthday dinner and a towering decadence of a cake. There is a lot of chocolate, a lot of butter, and a lot of peanut butter frosting. After the meal, I stay up half the night putting together a menu plan and grocery list for the chag. Unfortunately, I wake up the next morning sick with some fever/flu thing. My husband steps in to cook for yom tov, and the lasagna I had in mind instead makes an appearance a few weeks after the fact.

Year two: I’m expecting and feeling too nauseous to get off the couch for more than a few minutes at a time. We’ve been invited out, and I wish we could go because it would be such a nice change of pace for my husband, who’s been picking up all the slack and hasn’t had a normal meal in who knows how long. I have to be realistic, though — I know I won’t be able to sit at someone else’s table for a full meal, much less stomach the food — so we decline. When people ask me what I’m making for yom tov, I just say we’re keeping things simple. My husband comes to the rescue again, this time with pita pizzas and soup. A couple of weeks later, I start feeling better. It’s only early summer at this point, but already I can’t wait to make Shavuos next year.

Year three: The baby is five months old and just starting to settle into a schedule. One of my sisters-in-law is visiting from Canada, and the plan is for us to have the nighttime seudah at home and then go to friends for lunch. This time, I make my menu and grocery list with time to spare. There will be homemade cream cheese, French onion soup, peas and shells alfredo — does it get any better? For dessert at home, we’ll slice into a huge buttery kokosh cake in honor of my husband’s birthday, and for dessert at the meal with our friends, we’ll bring individual cheesecakes with chocolate cookie crusts and drizzled-chocolate tops. The day before erev Shavuos, I get the cheesecakes in the fridge and opt to save most of the other cooking for the following day.

This is partly because my throat feels a little funny, though I assure myself it’s all in my head. By the next morning, I can’t deny it. My throat is on fire now, and the rest of me is in agony, too. My sister-in-law arrives, and I can’t even make it out of bed to say hello. She and my husband make the alfredo dish together, and early on yom tov afternoon, they take the baby and the cheesecakes to lunch. I spend ninety percent of Shavuos under the covers. After chag, I make it to the clinic, where the doctor tells me I have strep. For the record, I’ve never had strep before.

Year four: Stay tuned. By now, I know better than to expect that I’ll actually make the Shavuos of my menu-planning dreams. If it does happen, it will go down in history as one of my best yamim tovim. And if for the fourth time, I don’t manage to make (make it through) Shavuos, we’ll at least have our cheesecake in the freezer. This year, I’m doing my baking more than a day in advance.


Eva on June 3, 2014 at 2:12 am.

Be well and Chag Sameach! I hope you have a wonderful Yom Tov and an equally wonderful time cooking for it! : )


Tali Simon on June 3, 2014 at 9:23 am.



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