The Jew And The Carrot

Cooking as Catharsis

By Hillary Berkowitz Nussbaum

Thinkstock

As a college freshman, feeling the pressure of my first ever round of finals, and with no kitchen or supplies of any kind, I found myself yearning to bake. It was a distracting, clawing desire, pulling at the edges of my attention as I struggled in vain to study Rousseau or economic specialization or whatever I was learning in my freshman year introductory classes. I had no resources — no microwave, no mini fridge, not even a hotplate — but I also had no choice; I knew studying would not happen until I made something.

After a little bit of research, I gave up on my books and gave into the urge. We had a variety of “markets” near campus — gourmet, high-end, specialty — but not “super.” With a scarf wrapped around half of my face to keep out the Massachusetts cold, I walked the frigid few miles to and from the nearest real supermarket. I stocked up on cake mix (a last resort, under the circumstances) and the requisite supplies. Then, late that night, a friend snuck me into the kitchen in the basement of her dorm so I could bake — and finally study.

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Stress-Relieving Pumpkin Challah

By Hillary Berkowitz Nussbaum

Photograph by Hillary Berkowitz Nussbaum

It’s a stunningly simple way to a feel a sense of accomplishment and renewal — pick a recipe and execute it. It’s an exercise in presence, in clearing your mind and committing fully to the task at hand. It’s meditative. Cathartic. Next time you’re feeling restless or anxious, pressured or overwhelmed, try giving yourself over to the rhythms and repetitions of this recipe, and let your stress bake away.

I adapted this recipe from the golden pumpkin challah in Maggie Glezer’s “A Blessing of Bread.” I added the raisins, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, and left out cardamom, which was in the original recipe.

Yields 2 loaves

1 package (7g) yeast
2/3 cup warm water
3¾ cups unbleached white flour (you can substitute up to 1¾ cup with whole wheat flour)
½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg (+ 1 egg for glaze)
1½ teaspoons salt
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Cornmeal (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F.

2) Sprinkle yeast into a small bowl and pour the warm water on it. Let stand for 10 minutes, then stir to dissolve.

3) Mix flour and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast/water mixture. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate some of the flour into the water — just enough to form a soft paste. (Don’t try to completely incorporate — there should be quite a bit of dry flour left at this point.) Cover bowl with a towel and leave until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.

4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, oil, egg, salt and raisins (if using). Add to the risen flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is pliable. (If it’s too wet, keep adding flour in small amounts.)

5) Let dough rest 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly oil the bowl, put the dough in it and re-cover with the towel. Let dough rise in a warm place until it has tripled in size, 2-3 hours. Punch down dough, knead it a bit more and cut it into two equal pieces. Cut each of the two pieces into three equal pieces. (You should have 6 total pieces at this point.) Roll each piece into a straight rope. Braid three ropes together and repeat so that you end up with two braided loaves.

6) Sprinkle baking sheets with a little cornmeal, or line them with parchment paper. Place loaves on the sheets, cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Glaze loaves with extra beaten egg. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Cooking Allergy-Free, and Me

By Gabe Friedman

Photographs: © 2014 Helen Norman

Around the time I was 15, I stopped eating anything that contained gluten and soy, two ingredients that are found in the majority of American food products. Gluten is the protein found in wheat and several related grains, such as barley and rye, and soy refers to any product made from the soybean — from soybean vegetable oil, a common oil used in American restaurants, to soy lecithin, an “emulsifier” (or food thickener) found in most American processed foods.

To add to my list of restrictions, I had already been mostly off of dairy products (I say mostly because scientists devised a wonderful enzyme pill in the 1970s that allows lactose intolerant people like me to normally digest a moderate amount of dairy) for several years. An enormous variety of foods that I had enjoyed as a kid — from pizza to bagels to Chinese food doused in soy sauce — was suddenly off-limits as I tried to diagnose the cause of what had become chronic stomach pain.

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Moroccan Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

By Jenna Short

This dish is wheat-free, milk-free, egg-free, shellfish-free, fish-free, soy-free, corn-free and gluten-free. Photograph: © 2014 Helen Norman

This wonderful stew is easy to make. It’s traditionally cooked in a tagine, which makes a really nice presentation. If you don’t have one, use a large Dutch oven — you’ll get the same results.

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thirds lengthwise
1 large red onion, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
8 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 sprigs fresh cilantro, plus 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for serving
8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 3 table-spoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving
4 tablespoons honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup dried apricots, halved
1⁄2 cup almonds, chopped

1) In a large bowl, combine the cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and 4 tablespoons oil. Add the chicken and toss to coat; let sit for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour to marinate.

2) Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in the base of a tagine or in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add half of the chicken and cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes total, turning over halfway through cooking, until browned. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding another 3 tablespoons oil for cooking. Transfer the second batch of chicken to the plate.

3) Add the onions and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt to the tagine or Dutch oven and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Tie the cilantro and parsley sprigs into a bundle with kitchen twine and add to the pot along with 1 cup water, the cooked chicken, and any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

4) While the chicken is simmering, bring the honey, 1 cup water, the cinnamon sticks, and apricots to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the apricots are tender and plump and the liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.

5) While the apricots are simmering, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the almonds, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds to paper towels to drain; let the oil cool before discarding.

6) Ten minutes before the chicken is done cooking, add the apricot mixture to the pot but remove and discard the cinnamon sticks. Finish cooking the chicken.

7) Serve the chicken (if cooked in a tagine, serve it at the table if you like), topped with the toasted almonds and more freshly chopped herbs.

Variations

Nut-Free: To make this dish nut-free, leave out the almonds when serving.

Vegetarian: Replace the chicken with 1 to 2 blocks of extra-firm tofu. To prepare the tofu, cut into ½-inch strips, then place on several layers of paper towels; cover with more paper towels and top with a cutting board to drain excess liquid. Let stand for several minutes, pressing down occasionally. Tofu contains soy, so this variation will not be soy-free.

Vegan: To make this dish vegan, replace the chicken with tofu (follow the preparation instructions for the vegetarian option above) and replace the honey with agave nectar. Tofu contains soy, so this variation will not be soy-free.

Wine Pairing: A crisp rosé would be the best choice for this meal and would complement the dried fruits and nuts, which are the main attraction in most mildly spicy Moroccan dishes.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 8 servings): Calories: 323.1, Total Fat: 15.5g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 43.8mg, Total Carbohydrates: 20.1g, Dietary Fiber: 2.9g, Sugars: 13.8g, Protein: 27.7g

This recipe is from “Cooking Allergy-Free” (The Taunton Press 2014) by Jenna Short and is used by permission from The Taunton Press.


Can a Hot Sauce Set Your Soul on Fire?

By Hadas Margulies

Lo and behold: the first “boldly kosher” hot sauce is here. Photographs courtesy of Burning Bush

Neil Wernick’s inspiration to create Burning Bush Kosher Hot Sauce was derived from more than just a desire to spice up his food. Before he became a food entrepreneur, Wernick worked as a brand builder and engineer, whose Jewish background and love of Israel prompted him to register for the Hazon Israel Ride. On the trail, he came in contact with a variety of ancient herbs and spices, and his passion was ignited.

Back in his own garden, he began growing the herbs and vegetables that he used to create the original recipe for Burning Bush. “My business partner and I felt there was a real need for a kosher hot sauce,” Wernick told me. “There are so many hot sauces on the market, but none that prioritized kashrut. Kosher is even in the official name of our product.”

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Treasured New York Cookbook Shop to Close

By Hadas Margulies

The shop contains a trove of Jewish-related titles. Photograph by Jae-eun Chung

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, a treasured cookbook destination for chefs, collectors and recipe-lovers alike for the past 15 years, will close at the end of January. Owner Bonnie Slotnick says the landlord of her West Village shop would not renew her lease. She is, however, planning to move shop, perhaps to the East Village.

Bonnie Slotnick

“I’m not really an East Village person,” Slotnick told the Forward, “but it feels much more human scale and homey to me now than the West Village. And the prices in the West Village are insane.”

The change of location shouldn’t deter Slotnick’s loyal customers. Her vast collection features rare cookbooks and vintage magazines from as far back as the 18th century, drawing mentions on NPR and in the New Yorker and the New York Times, among other places.

Jewish cookbooks are one of her specialties. “I am Jewish,” Slotnick said. “So I know Jewish cookbooks quite well. Those and books on baking. Baking crosses all borders.”

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Bagel Stuffing for Thanksgiving

By Molly Yeh

Photographs by Molly Yeh

If your family is like my family, your Thanksgiving starts with turning on the Macy’s parade, pouring a glass of wine, and toasting a bagel. It doesn’t totally make sense, but when you consider that the parade quickly becomes background noise for a busy day of cooking and “tablescaping,” the wine and energy in the form of noshing on bagels sort of makes more sense.

Because for us, Thanksgiving is as much about the journey of preparing the meal all together as it is about sitting down around a table, gorging on sweet potatoes, and switching between tears and laughter as we all say what we were grateful for this year.

With Thanksgiving recipe planning on my brain right now, stuffing is first. Stuffing is always first. I think I’ve made stuffing with just about every one of my favorite bread-y things: challah, soft pretzels, sufganiyot for Thanksgivukkah… It’s only natural that this year’s stuffing be made with bagels. And what better way to use up bagels leftover from Thanksgiving brunch?

This stuffing pulls from flavors that are present in a classic bagel and lox: red onions, scallions, chives and capers, if you like them. Any savory bagel will do, although I believe that a mix of everything bagels and whole wheat or pumpernickel bagels will give you the most flavor with a pretty mix of color. If you’re down with dairy on the table, you might consider finishing this off with a drizzle of melted cream cheese.

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Meet New York City’s Youngest Kosher Baker

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Nechamit Rosen’s kosher cupcakes. Photograph courtesy of Nechamit Rosen

These days, a lot of women are talking about the importance of “leaning in,” but Nechamit Rosen, head pastry chef at the Kosher Marketplace, a kosher goods staple on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, knew how to do that before she picked up Sheryl Sanberg’s bestseller.

Two years ago, the then-21-year-old was tired of her assistant pastry chef job at Village Crown. She’d learned a lot there, but she was overworked. It was time for a change. So she printed up her résumé, made hundreds of mini samples and started introducing herself to the kosher eateries around town.

When she walked through the Kosher Marketplace’s electronic doors in May 2013, she had her pitch ready: “You don’t have an in-house kosher baker,” she told the store owner Alan Kaufman. “If you want to thrive in the current market competition, you need an in-house baker. I’m your girl.”

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Breaking the Food Chain

By Roz Warren

Thinkstock

I recently received an email that contained a simple request. Write down my favorite recipe, I was told, and email it to the person at the top of the list. Then delete that person’s name, add my own email address to the bottom of the list, and send the resulting request-for-recipes to 25 friends.

Soon, promised the letter, I’d get 36 recipes!

There was just one problem. I don’t cook. At all. I never have. I hate cooking. I’m a take-out kind of gal. Yes, I can throw together an amazing salad. But recipes? I hadn’t a single one.

Nor did I want any. Thirty-six recipes turning up in my inbox?

Priceless?? No, more like useless.

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Exploring the Pickle's Storied Past

By Michael Kaminer

Flickr

November 14 is Aaron Copland’s birthday. It’s the day that Chicago Bears’ quarterback Sid Luckman passed for seven touchdowns to help defeat the New York Giants 56 to 7 in 1943. And it’s the day Ivan Boesky confessed to illegal market activity in 1986.

But for readers of The Jew and the Carrot, November 14 has even greater significance: It’s National Pickle Day.

Pickles, of course, aren’t exclusively Jewish. They date back thousands of years, appearing as far as India and Egypt. But over the centuries, pickles became a staple food for Ashkenazi Jews. Pickled vegetables were a dietary staple for Jews living in the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Russia, as Claudia Roden explains in “The Book of Jewish Food”: “The sharp flavor of pickles proved a welcome addition to the bland bread-and-potato diet of these cold-weather countries.”

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7 Jewish Things About Pickles

By Michael Kaminer

In honor of National Pickle Day, we’ve been marinating some fun facts about our favorite fermented food. Photo: Thinkstock.

1) Cucumbers are mentioned twice in the Bible (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8) and history sets their first usage over 3,000 years ago in western Asia, Egypt and Greece. (Source: NY Food Museum)

2) Americans consume more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles each year; the North American pickle industry is valued at about $1.5 billion annually, according to Pickle Packers, a trade group. (Source: Pickle Packers)

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Food Trends Abound at Kosherfest

By Liza Schoenfein

Inside Kosherfest 2014. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

The first food that jumped out at me yesterday when I walked into the vast Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, for Kosherfest 2014 was the gluten-free granola. The latest offering from Foodman’s Original Matzolah, the cranberry-and-orange flavored product is wheat- and nut-free. Its prominent placement (Matzolah is distributed by Streit’s, whose matzo is a key ingredient) heralded what seemed to me to be the trend of the show: foods that not only follow the laws of kashrut but also specifically address other dietary restrictions, whether they involve gluten intolerance, veganism, or avoidance of dairy.

Among the gluten-free highlights at Kosherfest — the largest business-to-business trade show for the kosher industry — were new matzo ball mixes from Streit’s and the Manischewitcz Company, which also offered a gluten-free brownie mix.

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Kosher Sushi Place Firebombed in Paris

By JTA

Courtesy of Zekaï

Hours after the attempted arson of a Paris kosher restaurant, a group of French teenagers assaulted a Jewish adolescent outside a school.

Unidentified vandals tried to burn down the Zekaï sushi restaurant in the 17th arrondissement located 4 miles west of the school, according to a report of the incident by the National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA.

The vandals hurled stones at the restaurant’s armored glass door late at night but failed to punch a hole through it, the news website of the Tribune Juive newspaper reported. They also tried to set off a firebomb before fleeing, according to BNVCA, a nongovernmental watchdog.

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Putting Janna Gur's ‘Jewish Soul Food’ to the Test

By Alix Wall

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

This is a sporadic column by Bay Area personal chef Alix Wall, in which she evaluates a new cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing them with friends and asking what they think of the results. This time, she cooks her way through Israeli food authority Janna Gur’s new book.

When Janna Gur’s “Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh” arrived, I knew right away that I had a special book on my hands.

Gur emigrated to Israel from Riga, Latvia, as a teenager. The author of The New Book of Israeli Food, she championed Israeli cuisine before Yotam Ottolenghi; before Einat Admony. Together with her husband, Ilan Gur, she founded and still edits Al HaShulchan, an Israeli food magazine. She is frequently sought out to speak to groups about Israeli cuisine, and at one dinner with some visiting journalists, she was asked why so little traditional Ashkenazi food was to be found in Israel. Part of preserving a people’s culture is preserving its food, this journalist argued. Gur didn’t disagree. Rather than seeking out Israeli versions of old favorites, with this book Gur goes back to the diaspora, while at the same time updating many classics.

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Juicy Semolina, Coconut and Pistachio Cake

By Janna Gur

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

When semolina cakes come out of the oven, they are not so sweet and are very crumbly, but once they are doused with hot and fragrant syrup, they turn moist and very sweet. The syrup also prevents them from drying out so they keep for a long time. The following version, from Ruth Oliver’s kitchen, is the best I have ever tasted. Ground coconut and pistachio nuts add crunch, and cream renders the pastry richer.

Makes one 15 x 0-inch (40 x 5-cm) cake

For the cake

¾ cup (6½ fluid ounces/180 ml) vegetable oil
1½ cups (12 fluid ounces/350 ml) half-and-half (single cream)
1 cup (3½ ounces/100 g) shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5½ ounces/160 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ cups (9 ounces/250 g) semolina (cream of wheat or cream of farina)
½ cup (2 ounces/55 g) ground pistachio nuts
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 eggs
1½ cups (11 ounces/300 g) sugar
For the syrup
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

2) Combine the vegetable oil and half-and-half in a large bowl.

3) Combine the coconut, flour, semolina, ground pistachios, and baking pow¬der in a separate bowl. Stir into the oil mixture.

4) Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed for 8 minutes until pale and fluffy. Gently fold the beaten eggs into the semolina batter.

5) Pour the batter into a deep rectangular baking pan approximately 15 x 10 inches (40 x 25 cm). Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cake turns golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry with a few crumbs adhering.

6) While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup Bring the water, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

7) Take the cake out of the oven and pour the syrup evenly over the warm cake. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

VARIATIONS

For a nondairy version, substitute the same amount of coconut milk for the half-and-half.

BASBOUSA DESSERT

Cut the cake into small squares and top each square with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, crème fraîche, or thick yogurt. You may also add a spoonful of tart fruit preserves, or serve it with fruit compote or with wine-poached pears.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Georgian Eggplant Rolls With Walnut and Herb Filling

By Janna Gur

These look like Italian involtini, but the filling is unique and typically Georgian: pureed walnuts perfumed with fresh herbs (parsley and cilantro), garlic and vinegar. When pomegranates are in season, add fresh pomegranate seeds for crunch and flavor. I got this recipe from Marina Toporiya, a Georgian cook who used to own a modest restaurant in downtown Tel Aviv, where she turned out wonderful and unusual dishes from the old country.

Makes 12 to 14 rolls

For the eggplants

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dredging
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 to 3 eggplants, very thinly sliced lengthwise (you should have about 14 long, thin slices)

For the filling

12 ounces (350 g) walnuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon (or less) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Salt
Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)

1) Prepare the eggplants Put some flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt.

2) Heat a frying pan over medium heat and coat with a ½-inch (1½-cm) layer of vegetable oil. Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour mixture, then put in the pan, being careful not to crowd the pan (work in batches, if necessary). Fry the slices for about 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and allow to cool.

3) Prepare the filling Put the walnuts, garlic, onion, cayenne, turmeric, red pepper flakes, paprika, parsley, cilantro, vinegar, water and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the pome¬granate seeds (if using).

4) Spread a heaping spoonful of the filling on a fried eggplant slice and roll up the slice tightly. Place, seam-side down, on a plate and continue with the remaining filling and eggplants. Serve promptly.

TIP

Certain eggplants, especially those with lots of seeds, tend to be bitter. To get rid of the bitterness, sprinkle the sliced eggplants with coarse salt and set in a colander for an hour. Wash, pat dry with paper towels and fry as directed.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Moroccan Spicy Carrot Salad

By Janna Gur

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

To make this simple and tasty meze salad you will need two typical North African condiments — pickled lemons and harissa. Both can be made at home or bought at specialty food stores or Middle Eastern groceries, and both will prove useful and versatile additions to your pantry.

Serves 6 to 8

6 medium carrots, sliced into ¾-inch (2-cm) coins
3 cups water
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa
1 tablespoon pickled (Moroccan) lemons, finely chopped (see below or store-bought)
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt
¼ cup fresh cilantro or mint leaves, chopped

1) Put the sliced carrots in a saucepan and add the water, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the carrots are tender but still have some bite.

2) Transfer the carrots to a bowl (save some of the cooking liquid). Add the harissa, pickled lemons, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, salt, and about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and mix. Let cool. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

3) Refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight, to let the flavors meld. The salad will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Before serving, bring to room temperature and toss with the cilantro.

Pickled Lemons | MOROCCAN

For me, pickled lemons define the concept of a “secret ingredient.” Less sharp than fresh lemons; soft, aromatic, and spicy, they perform miracles in vegetable and grain salads and are a great addition to chicken and fish braises. I also use them in pasta sauces, especially those with tuna. Preparation is easy, but the curing process takes about three months.

Makes 2 pounds/1 kg

2 pounds (1 kg) lemons, thinly sliced or cut into small wedges, pips removed
1 cup coarse salt
5 garlic cloves
2 small hot chile peppers (red or green)
4 to 6 allspice berries
4 bay leaves
Sweet and/or hot paprika
Fresh lemon juice, to cover
Vegetable oil, to seal

1) Dip the lemon slices or wedges in the salt to cover all sides and arrange in layers in a sterilized glass jar. Place the garlic, chiles, allspice, and bay leaves between the layers of lemon. Press down hard until the juice begins to run out and pour the lemon juice on top. To seal, pour a generous layer of vegetable oil on top of everything.

2) Refrigerate for 3 weeks and up to a month. When the curing process has been completed, discard the garlic, chiles, allspice, and bay leaves and keep refrigerated.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Israeli Chef Dishes on Her New Berlin Hot Spot

By Julia M. Klein

Chef Haya Molcho of NENI. Photographs courtesy of NENI

With 20,000 Israeli immigrants, Berlin now hosts delicatessens and hummus cafes, as well as the more upscale, French-influenced fare of Mani Restaurant. The latest Israeli culinary sensation is NENI Berlin, a casually eclectic place with an open kitchen, luxuriant plant décor and panoramic views of the city.

Located on the 10th floor of the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, NENI Berlin has a tapas-style menu that boasts of melding Persian, Russian, Arabic, Moroccan, Turkish, Spanish, German and Austrian influences. Its unusual, richly flavored fusion dishes include caramelized eggplant with chili and ginger on couscous and curry hummus with grilled prawns. Middle Eastern staples such as pita, baba ganoush and falafel are served alongside a classic Ruben sandwich and tuna sashimi. With floor-to-ceiling windows, light wooden floors and pastel chairs, the dining room is bright and inviting. The atmosphere is so relaxed that, on a recent visit, a neighboring table of diners started offering me tastes of their food.

The woman behind NENI (whose initials represent the names of her four sons, Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv and Ilan) is Haya Molcho, a 59-year-old Tel Aviv-born restaurateur who grew up in Bremen, Germany, and lives in Vienna. With three of her sons as partners, she runs three restaurants, a catering business and a supermarket product line, NENI am Tisch (NENI on the Table), and has published three cookbooks. I talked to her by phone about her passion for food and how she built the NENI empire.

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Conflict Kitchen Closes Doors After Death Threats

By Liza Schoenfein

Photograph courtesy of Conflict Kitchen

After receiving a letter containing death threats, Pittsburgh’s Conflict Kitchen, which has been serving Palestinian food since early October, announced on its Facebook page Friday that it was shutting its doors until further notice.

“We will be closed until the credibility of the letter can be established by the Pittsburgh police,” the statement said. “We hope to reopen shortly.”

The co-directors of Conflict Kitchen, Dawn Weleski and Jon Rubin, declined an interview request from the Forward, saying, “We are not able to respond to press at this time upon the suggestion of the police.”

Conflict Kitchen describes itself on its website as “a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities every few months in relation to current geopolitical events.”

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Caught Between Gefilte Fish and Campbell’s Soup

By Hasia Diner

Photograph by Edsel Little; Flickr

When I first gravitated toward writing about food and immigration to the United States as an ostensibly serious academic, colleagues asked me — and, frankly, I asked myself — the obvious question. Why food? Food perhaps lacked the gravitas and significance of subjects like political, labor or immigration history. Academics might grudgingly admit that food is fun, or, at worst, accuse me of having gone over to the realm of the “popularizers.”

Food does indeed provide one of life’s greatest pleasures. And yet, for much of human history food also has been associated with difficulty, controversy, confusion, and conflict. Most people, for most of life on Earth, have fretted over where, or if, they would get their next meal. But the matter of food, and particularly food’s relationship to immigration, has long merited more ambitious historical treatment. Food has always functioned simultaneously as a barrier that sets one group of people apart from others and as a bridge linking people with little else in common.

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