The Jew And The Carrot

Baked Apples With Vanilla-Walnut Charoset

By Franklin Becker

Franklin Becker’s charoset dessert. Photograph courtesy of The Little Beet

Everyone loves a good apple pie. Growing up in Brooklyn, in the primarily Jewish neighborhood of Midwood, meant eating lots of traditional sweets like apple strudel and rugelach. I always loved the texture of nuts and fruit together, specifically, that sweet but tart profile combining with nuttiness and cinnamon. At Seder time, we would have the charoset. So when developing the [Little Beet Table] menu, I knew I wanted to offer “apple pie.” Since we are a gluten-free establishment and one that generally focuses on a healthier way of life, I thought to myself, how can I add some texture to this dessert without a fattening crust? So, I immediately turned to my heritage and the beloved charoset. I added some vanilla bean to it to heighten the flavors and bring it back to an American apple pie profile.

To make the dessert parve, oil can replace the butter in the caramel sauce (same measurement) and you can use a non-dairy whipped topping instead of the Battenkill whipped cream.

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Jewish and Muslim Students Collaborate on UCSD Dining Plan

By Jean Hanks

Flickr

The University of California at San Diego will soon become the first campus in the UC system to have a joint Kosher/Halal dining hall, U-T San Diego reported. The project began over a year ago, when Zev Hurwitz, executive vice president of the Union of Jewish Students, approached school administrators with the idea for a kosher dining station. He then reached out to the Muslim Student Association to include them in the discussion.

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Mouthwatering Orange-Scented Macaroons

By Gayle L. Squires

Photographs by Gayle L. Squires

The Passover tradition that’s been handed down from generation to generation in my family is the luxury of a catered Seder. But we’ve always supplemented the cookie and cake plate with extra desserts. At my grandparents’ table, it was Bubbe’s layered and fruit-studded gelatin mold. At my aunt’s, a large platter of sliced melon, citrus and berries. At my parents’, chocolate-covered cherry-marshmallow twists and chocolate cake from a mix.

When I emerged as the baker in the family, I became the de facto dessert maker. I have three simple guidelines for pre-afikoman treats: 1) avoid matzo or cake meal; 2) use as few bowls and utensils as possible; and 3) make something you would want to eat year-round. After much trial and error, I’ve narrowed my Passover repertoire down to a handful of reliable desserts that serve as solid basics, ready to be adapted from one Seder to the next.

Macaroons serve as a perfect blank canvas. While unadorned mounds of coconut, sugar and egg whites are pretty spectacular on their own, it’s the variations that get me jazzed. Sure, you can add cocoa powder and chocolate chips, but what about citrus zest, cinnamon or rose water? And while most recipes call for sweetened shredded coconut, I urge you to seek out the largest unsweetened flakes (sometimes called coconut chips) you can find for macaroons that offer the greatest contrast in texture with deeply golden, crispy edges and tender chewy insides. Then there are the toppings: chocolate to dip, salted caramel to drizzle or jam to bake into an indented thumbprint.

If you’re not sure where to begin, try the macaroon recipe below, adapted from chocolatier and cookbook author Alice Medrich. They’re laced with orange blossom water and flecked with orange zest. The first bite will make you feel as though you’re basking in a gentle Mediterranean breeze, getting you into the mood to conclude the Seder by singing l’shanah ha’abah bi-Y’rushalayim — next year in Jerusalem (or at least Tel Aviv).

Chag sameach and happy baking!

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Cooking for Passover Like a 5-Star Kosher Chef

By Marcy Oster

Inbal Hotel Jerusalem, where the chef offered an online how-to on holiday cooking. Courtesy Inbal Hotel.

(JTA) - At this time of year I always ask around to my friends and neighbors for new and creative Passover recipes — and if I can stand upright after chasing after crumbs of chametz, helping my kids prepare Torah commentary for the seder and changing over my kitchen to kosher for Passover, I even try one or two of them.

I never thought I would have the chance to get Passover recipes directly from the executive chef of a 5-star kosher hotel restaurant, however. And I am sure ready to eat restaurant-style food from the comfort of my own home.

Inbal Jerusalem Hotel executive chef Nir Elkayam showed me and anyone else who wanted to watch, how to make new and interesting dishes for the upcoming holiday in a live online demonstration, accompanied by a live chat where you could ask him all your Passover cooking questions.

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A Perfectly Modern Passover

By Alix Wall

This is an occasional column in which the writer evaluates a cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing the dishes with friends and asking those friends what they think of the results. For Passover, the writer cooked her way through “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” by Forward writer and contributing editor Leah Koenig.

In the introduction to “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), Leah Koenig writes that she felt a certain kind of freedom when she began hosting Sabbath dinners in her 20s.

Her grandmother had died before she was born, she writes, and as a teenager she showed no interest in how her mom made her “legendary latkes.”

“Because I had not inherited specific recipes, I felt free from any pressure to simply copy what I was taught, and free to improvise and add my own personality,” Koenig writes. “I was creating my Jewish repertoire from scratch, and doing it in my twenty-first century kitchen filled with vegetables from the farmers’ market and a sauce-splattered laptop that played music while I chopped. There, I could incorporate ingredients that fell outside the Eastern European repertoire I inherited, and cook in a way that felt true to my life.”

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Red Wine and Honey Brisket

By Leah Koenig

Photograph by Sang An

For many people, brisket is the Proustian madeleine of Jewish cooking. The rich, savory scent of caramelizing meat that perfumes the house as it cooks seems to stir people into a nostalgia-fueled fervor. There is no question that the brisket your bubbe made was the best ever, and you cannot compete with the layers of memories that flavor her version in your mind. That’s okay, because you have a few tricks of your own up your sleeve. This version slow-cooks the meat in a sweet and tangy mixture of honey and red wine until it sighs and falls apart at the touch of a fork. I included the red wine as a nod to stracotto, the Roman Jewish take on brisket, which simmers beef in wine and spices.

Brisket’s flavor and texture improve with age, so while you can certainly serve it right away, it will taste best if you make it a day in advance. Once the brisket has chilled in the refrigerator overnight, spoon off and discard any excess fat congealed at the top and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain (meat is easier to slice when it’s cold), then place the slices back into the Dutch oven or roasting pan, spooning some of the saucy onion mixture over the top. Warm in a 300° F oven until hot and bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe calls for second-cut brisket, which is sometimes referred to as deckle. It can be difficult to find second-cut brisket packaged in the grocery store, so ask your butcher about it. While you’re asking for things, see if the butcher will trim off any excess fat, too. If you have first-cut brisket on hand, go ahead and use it — the dish will still be delicious.

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Roasted Beet Salad With Preserved Lemon

By Leah Koenig

Photograph by Sang An

With all due respect to the classic pairing of beets and goat cheese, there are other ways to serve cooked beets! Take this salad, which tosses them with preserved lemon, fennel, basil and capers. The lemon and capers act as a tangy counterpart to the sweet Mediterranean root, and the fresh fennel adds delicious crunch.

Serves 6

2 pounds medium beets, ends trimmed and scrubbed
2 small fennel bulbs, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brine-packed capers, drained, patted dry, and roughly chopped
10 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
3 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon peel
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400° F. Wrap each beet tightly in a piece of aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Roast in the oven until a fork can be easily inserted into the center, 50 to 70 minutes. (Time will vary depending on the size of your beets, so start checking at 50 minutes and keep cooking if not soft.) Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch. Use a paper towel to rub off the skin, or peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets into bite-size pieces. (Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.)

2) Combine the beets, fennel, capers, basil and preserved lemon peel in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salad and gently toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes. Divide the salad among plates and serve.

Recipes reprinted with permission from “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” Chronicle Books (2015), by Leah Koenig.


The Weekly Dish

By Michael Kaminer

Greenberg’s Apple Macaroon Cake. Photograph courtesy of William Greenberg Desserts

We love sweets from NYC’s William Greenberg Desserts, and we’re grateful the company cranks out such luscious kosher-for-Passover treats. They make great gifts for your Seder hosts, and show-stoppers for dessert at your own feast. Favorites: rich apple macaroon cake that translates as almond sponge cake with sliced apples and crushed pecans; a classic honey cake; and superb macaroons in trad flavors like chocolate almond and vanilla. They’re only available through the holiday.

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A Jewish Perspective on Preserving

By Jacob Siegel

Canned vegetables await processing at the 2014 Hazon Food Conference.

Two hundred pounds of tomatoes. Some big and red and juicy, some yellow, some tiny cherry tomatoes, a pile of colorful beefsteaks and even a box of ripe green tomatoes with beautiful dark green veins.

This summer, two hundred pounds of tomatoes passed through our kitchen. And over the course of three weeks, our shelves got overwhelmed with tomato sauce, salsa and dried tomato chips.

Not to mention the two hundred fifty pounds of apples.

I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression: I haven’t always focused on preserving produce when it’s in season. My passion for canning and preserving represents a new stage in my life. Growing up, most of the cans I interacted with were either full of processed beets and green beans from the grocery store, or empty…and being kicked down an empty alley in a fierce game of Kick-the-Can.

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WATCH! 7 Secrets to a Splendid Seder

By Liza Schoenfein

7 Secrets to a Splendid Seder from the Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

Five years ago, I became the keeper of our family Seder. As the self-appointed repository of the recipes and traditions my sister and I grew up with, it was important to me to get it “right” — to incorporate enough of the familiar foods and rituals so that the experience would feel deeply rooted in our personal history.

I would use the pile of beautiful-if-dog-eared haggadot, underlined and scribbled in, with the names of my relatives — first in my dad’s handwriting, then in my mother’s — next to the passages each of us was assigned by them to read year after year. As the older generation dwindled, sons-in-law entered the mix, then my boys and my sister’s girls. Old names were crossed out; new ones added. I still hear my grandmother Lillian’s voice reading lines from the Song of Songs, “Arise my beloved…” — though for years now they have been recited by my sister, Karen.

Liza setting her table. Photographs by Martyna Starosta

I always make the sweet, bright-green spring peas my mom pureed every year to accompany her main course — there would be a mutiny if I didn’t — and, among other desserts, I serve the chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, brought every year by a family friend, on my grandmother’s two-tiered china tray.

Over the past few years, I’ve taken great joy not only in preserving our memories, but also in putting my own imprint on the holiday. Whereas the first year I used my grandparents’ fine, heavy linens to cover the dining table I inherited from them, I now love to mix it up, perhaps using their napkins mixed with a new, modern cloth that’s lighter and more springlike (and easier to wash). I’ve introduced a number of new recipes, and a few new practices that feel fun and fresh.

Here are my seven secrets to a splendid Seder. As you prepare your own celebration, consider incorporating whichever of these ideas you like as a way of staying rooted in your history while embracing whatever tweaks on tradition you find appealing.

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Wine for Passover, Elegant Enough For All Year

By Liza Schoenfein

Fill the Four Cups With Any Of These Crisp Whites and Rich Reds, All Under $30. Image: Thinkstock

I have a soft spot in my heart for Manischewitz, the Kosher wine served at so many Sabbath dinners and Seders, because it was the first wine I ever tasted. Being allowed this wine at Passover when I was a little girl made me feel very grownup, sweet as it was (and probably diluted).

So it is with love that I say that kosher-for-Passover wine doesn’t have to be Manischewitz.

There are so many great kosher wines these days — below are a few of my favorites. I had a chance to taste a bunch of them at the Kosher Food & Wine Experience back in February, and others were recommended by kosher-wine afficianado Sadie Flateman of 67 Wines in Manhattan.

Tabor Winery Adama Sauvignon Blanc 2013 $20

A lean, classic style of sauvignon blanc, the flavor of this dry white wine is somewhat grassy, with a flinty mineral quality that comes from the chalk soil the grapes are grown in. There’s passionfruit and citrus on the palate. A good match for light fish dishes.

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Chocolate-Charoset Truffles for Passover

By Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz

Plan to make extra Sephardic-style charoset so you have enough to whip up these easy and delicious Passover confections. Photograph by Deborah R. Prinz.

This is a great combination of chocolate and a Sephardi version charoset, the Passover fruit concoction representing the building of granaries by the Hebrew slaves. Use this charoset recipe for your Seder and use the leftovers for your truffles. Or make enough charoset to plan for these truffles as your Seder dessert. Either way, they are delicious.

Makes 24 truffles

3 pounds high-quality dark or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
¼ cup pistachios

¼ cup pecans

1/8 cup almonds
1/8 cup pine nuts

½ tart apple

¼ navel orange, with rind

A few drops of sweet white wine

A few drops of honey

Pinch of fresh or ground ginger (or to taste)
Pinch of ground cinnamon (or to taste)

1) Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Grind the nuts, apples and orange separately in a food processor. The nuts should be as close to a powder as possible without becoming “butter.”

2) Combine the nuts, apple, orange, wine, honey, ginger, and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing well. The charoset filling should have a smooth, thick texture.

3) Roll the charoset into 1-inch balls. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; remove from the heat. Using two forks, dip the balls into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared baking sheet; refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

Deborah R. Prinz speaks about chocolate and Jews around the world. Her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao,”was published in 2013 by Jewish Lightsand is in its third printing. The book is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings.


The Seder Plate in a Glass

By Naomi Major

This Passover-themed take on a vodka martini incorporates fresh horseradish and parsley. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

At one Passover Seder I attended, all the guests brought dishes to contribute to the meal. As each person entered the apartment, the words “Do you have a bowl for this?” were uttered. Since that day, I have thought of Passover as The Festival of the Bowls. The meal was fabulous, by the way. I ate so much lamb that by the time dessert rolled around I had the urge to graze lazily on a hillside and say “Baa.”

One commonality (beyond the ritual readings and traditions) I’ve noticed among the various Seders I’ve been to is that prior to sitting down, there is a lot of prep work, setting of tables and entertaining of children. On any other evening, this would be considered cocktail hour. But, as we know, this night is different from all other nights. For one thing, four cups of wine are consumed.

Should that preclude a delightful pre-Haggadah beverage? I think not. (If you’re worried about overconsumption, perhaps you will allow a sip to stand in for a cup of wine each time you are instructed to drink.)

A pre-Seder cocktail should be simple and straightforward, because the meal preparations are so involved. And of course it should feel springlike — ideally made with ingredients that tie it to the holiday.

What could be more straightforward than a martini? Flavored not with an olive or lemon rind, but with a bit of freshly grated horseradish, and garnished with a sprig of parsley, it’s a Seder plate in a glass!

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14 Brisket Quotations From a Braised-Meat Maven

By Stephanie Pierson

Thinkstock

Yes, it is meltingly tender, a hallowed tradition, the ultimate comfort food, the meat that people who don’t eat meat do eat. (Before I wrote “The Brisket Book,” I thought that was a little odd too.)

And brisket — multitasker extraordinaire — is not only delicious, it is also deliciously quotable.

Observations, opinions, advice, tips, humor, reminiscences, praise, pleas, poems and stories abound. Mostly opinions. And to make it juicier, brisket mavens rarely agree on anything beside the fact that they love brisket and that their family makes the best one ever. Ever.

So disagreements abound too. And not just about whether onion soup mix is a less worthy ingredient than fresh whole onions. In the course of my book research, I met a woman who had a large extended family with lots of exes, step-thises, and half-thats. So when it came to Passover, she had 22 family brisket recipes to choose from. Everyone and her first cousin by her second ex-stepmother had something to say about that!

Which is what makes brisket worth celebrating. And you can quote me.

1) “Some foods will improve your meal, your mood, your day, your buttered noodles. Brisket will improve your life.”
— Stephanie Pierson, in “The Brisket Book”

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VIDEO: How to Make the Best Boozy Brisket

By Liza Schoenfein

Brisket video from the Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

Holiday food doesn’t have to be a huge production. The most beloved dishes are often the simplest, and if they can be made ahead, then all the better.

Brisket is one of these. Long, slow cooking in flavorful liquid transforms a tough lump of protein into the most tender, comforting and tasty dish. My grandmother used to braise hers in lots of tomato and a bottle of beer, and when we were little she called it “stringy meat.”

My mother, her daughter, was a culinary sophisticate who, like so many women of her generation, taught herself to cook by making her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Instead of humble brisket, she would braise a rump roast in red wine. Called “boef à la mode,” it was hardly more complicated than its homey predecessor, but came across as a most elegant alternative.

My own brisket draws a little from each model, and couldn’t be simpler. The braising liquid is a lot of sturdy red wine mixed with a little tomato. Inspired by the Italian tradition of sprinkling chopped fresh herbs, zest and garlic — called a gremolata — over osso buco, I finish the dish with the fresh, bright mixture. It wakes up the flavor of the stewed meat and contributes irresistible aroma and texture.

For Passover, the addition of fresh horseradish to this garnish feels thematically appropriate, and it carries a key flavor of the Seder through the delicious main course.

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Kosher Supermarket in Paris Reopens After Attack

By Jean Hanks

Shopping carts in front of the Hyper Cacher on March 15 at the reopening. Photograph by Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images.

Almost two months after the attack that killed four hostages in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris on January 9, the store reopened its doors on Sunday. The market has a completely new staff and is fully refurbished, but the memories of the attack and the victims remain strong. Laurent Mimoun, Hyper Cacher’s new manager, told local media that it is the thought of the victims that “has been the driver behind reopening the shop.”

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Doughnut Meets Babka in Latest Pastry Mashup

By David A.M. Wilensky

Three flavors of doughka (for now…), left to right: lemon and olive oil, Mexican chocolate and sticky banana. Photographs by David A.M. Wilensky.

Get that stale hamantaschen flavor out of your mouth. Get some delectable risen dessert carbs in before Passover arrives. Just get yourself over to the Chelsea location of Dough and pick up Mexican Jewish pastry savant Fany Gerson’s latest creation: the doughka. Half doughnut and half babka, as the name suggests, Gerson’s latest confectionary creation made its debut last month.

Each doughka looks just like a babka, albeit on the smaller side. But unlike the perennially stale, ever-dense texture of that store-bought babka that got left at your house after Shabbos dinner last week (you know the one: half-eaten by the time your guests left; begrudgingly toasted back to life for breakfast the following morning), Gerson’s doughka begins with a base of the unbelievably light yeast dough from which Dough’s doughnuts are made.

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The Weekly Dish

By Michael Kaminer

Mile End Deli’s Manhattan location will serve Passover dinner April 3 and 4. Photograph courtesy of Mile End.

Here’s everything you need to know about restaurant openings and closings, chefs on the move and tasty events happening in the world of Jewish food.

It seems like every restaurant in the Big Apple is hosting a Seder-style meal this Passover, but two stand out. Mile End, the always-fabulous Montreal-inspired deli, will host “a casual Seder with the core blessings and the four questions, followed by dinner with wine pairings.” On the $125-per-person menu: chopped liver with house-made pickles; matzo ball soup with smoked chicken, leeks, asparagus and garlic schmaltz; Gefilteria gefilte fish with fennel, radish, chrain, and dill; bitter greens and soft egg with spring vegetables and pickled ramp vinaigrette; and smoked lamb shoulder with merguez, tsimmis and rhubarb charoset.

“The inspiration for the dinner is the Seder plate itself,” owner Noah Bernamoff told the Forward. “There is also an element of decadence to the meal along with its wine pairings that speaks to the notion of relaxation and luxury: We recline at the Seder and speak of the exodus from Egypt as a way to exhibit our relative comfort and the generations that have sacrificed to bring the Jewish people from slavery to freedom.”

Mexican-Jewish chef Julian Medina of Toloache is adding Jewish accents to his menu for the Passover week. Photograph courtesy of Toloache.

And at his three Toloache outposts in Manhattan, chef Julian Medina is adding Jewish accents to his nouveau-Mexican cuisine from April 3-11. On offer: Julian’s Matzo Ball Soup, made with zucchini, carrots, epazote and jalepeno-scented chicken consommé; guacamole con Pescado Ahumado, a chunky avocado mixed with achiote smoked white fish salad “Yucatan style”, plus horseradish and habanero for heat, served with matzo; and Tacos de Brisket, Matzo tortillas filled with chipotle braised brisket, avocado and salsa. Toloache will also serve up two types of kosher tequila and a Sabra Margarita made with Don Diego Kosher Tequila, prickly pear, agave nectar and lime.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Matzo Balls

By Jakki Spicer

Thinkstock

My mother had been dead not quite twenty-three months when I was told I would not be making the matzo ball soup. I can’t quite remember what I said next, but I remember the feeling clearly, viscerally: like lead in the gut, a slight dizziness; a fuzziness around the edges of my brain.

It is true that the world was not going to end if I didn’t make the matzo balls for the Seder. But my mother had made the traditional Passover dumplings for decades before she died, for this very same loud, chaotic family Seder I’d been going to since I before I could remember. And the Seder before she’d died was the first year in memory she hadn’t made them; she’d been too tired, too sick. So she’d passed her giant soup pots to me, and asked me to make them. And I had. They were, by all accounts, delicious.

The following year I was undone by grief and whole-wheat matzo meal. I brought bad matzo balls to the family Seder, and thereby lost my right to make them again.

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The Only Kosher Deli in Denver

By Uriel Heilman

Joshua Horowitz, left, bought the East Side Kosher Deli in February 2015 from Michael and Marcy Schreiber, who had owned it for 17 years. Photograph by Uriel Heilman.

(JTA) – Dena Ivgi lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but she does her kosher food shopping 500 miles away, at the East Side Kosher Deli in Denver, Colorado.

That’s because the deli — a Denver institution that’s part restaurant, grocer, butcher, bakery and deli counter — is the closest kosher food purveyor to Ivgi’s home. Usually she puts in a mail order, but she stops in whenever she has the opportunity.

“We’ve been ordering kosher food from here for the last four years,” Ivgi said. “Our car will be going back packed full of food, especially with kosher-for-Passover stuff. The matzo they sell in Jackson Hole isn’t even kosher for Passover.”

All around the mountain states and in Denver, the East Side Kosher Deli in the city’s Cherry Creek neighborhood is a lifeline for kosher consumers, carrying everything from Israeli cheeses to short ribs to sizzling chicken fajitas.

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