The Jew And The Carrot

Lukshen Kugel, Luscious and Light

By Felicia Black

Getty Images

When I learned that Liam, a friend of my 9-year-old son, would be joining us at the potluck dinner in the synagogue sukkah because (as he told his mom) “Jews have the best food,” I reluctantly abandoned my plan to purchase a tray of spanakopita. I felt stymied by the task ahead: to prepare a wholesome dairy dish of Jewish origins that would appeal to children and adults alike, and one that would also survive the trip to the sukkah on a brisk autumn evening.

Then I remembered kugel. My mother-in-law’s noodle kugel, to be precise, handed down to her by her own mother, who is known in these quarters as Grandma Rae. Rae, perhaps because her husband died young of a cardiac-related illness, specialized in healthy cooking, and her kugel bears little resemblance to the sweet, rich noodle kugels of my own youth, which call for at least a stick of butter and a tub of sour cream, topped by handfuls of crunchy cornflakes.

Rae’s kugel is neither savory nor overly sweet. She somehow managed to eliminate what my husband Jeremy calls “the fun stuff” and still retain the traditional essence of a noodle kugel, which Yiddish-speakers call lokshen kugel. Imported from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, it is a filling, warming dish suitable for any autumn or winter evening. The version we make is much lighter than the conventional one, and spicier too, thanks to Jeremy’s addition of nutmeg and cardamom.

On Sukkot, Liam piled his plate high with the various potluck contributions. The son of a Presbyterian minister, this is a fourth grader who delights in sampling new cuisines, whether he’s in the jungles of Peru or the food courts of Flushing, Queens. After a few minutes of eating beneath the chilly skies of the rooftop sukkah, he leaned toward my son. “I like this dish,” he said confidentially, pointing toward a few crispy noodles in the corner of his plate. It was Rae’s kugel.

Lighter Lokshen Kugel

1½ 12-ounce packages of Dutch egg noodles (whole wheat if possible)
2½ 16-ounce containers of low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese (ricotta can replace part of cottage cheese)
4 eggs (or five if cottage cheese looks dry; egg whites can also be substituted)
1 or 2 tablespoons of butter
2 or 3 peeled, cored and chopped apples, coated with cinnamon/sugar mixture
1 cup yellow raisins
Splash of vanilla extract
Cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg (as desired — about ½ teaspoon each)
Wheat germ (Can also use other healthy, crunchy cereal)
2 teaspoons brown sugar

1) Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

2) Lightly grease 9 X 13-inch baking pan with butter or oil.

3) Parboil noodles (for about three minutes). Rinse and drain. Put noodles aside, mixing in one tablespoon of butter to melt while they cool.

4) Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add noodles to mixture. Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle wheat germ and brown sugar on top. Cover with foil.

5) Bake for about 45 minutes. Uncover and broil, on low if possible, until crispy, about 10 minutes. (Watch carefully to make sure kugel doesn’t burn.)


I've Taken Liberties With Roberta Greenberg’s Brisket

By Stephanie Pierson

Photograph by Hathaway_M; Flickr

Out of all the recipes in my cookbook, “The Brisket Book. A Love Story With Recipes” (Andrews McMeel), only one came with a blessing.

It is the Temple Emanu-El Brisket from home cook Roberta Greenberg, the longtime assistant to the rabbis at this well-known New York synagogue. I found Ms. Greenberg’s recipe on the temple website and begged both her and David Posner, then the head rabbi there, for permission to include it in my book. I reached out first to Ms. Greenberg, who properly asked me to check with the rabbi. Higher powers prevailed. Rabbi Posner turned out to be every bit as sweet and tender as his assistant’s brisket. And the recipe was mine to use.

I love this recipe: “Quivering cranberry slices that melt into the meat and slowly caramelize to give this dish its lovely character.” That is how I described it in the head notes, adding that, “It takes so little effort for this sweet alchemy to work.” The ingredients are ridiculously simple: a brisket, garlic powder, paprika, onions, cranberry slices.

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Recipe Redux: Temple Emanu-El Brisket 6.0

By Stephanie Pierson

You’re reading the recipe below right — it’s full of strikeouts and add-ins that match the red-pen amendments the author made to the recipe in her own cookbook (above). After making the original at least 20 times, she feels she’s improved on what was already near-perfection. Photograph by Stephanie Pierson

Serves 8 to 10

One 4- to 5-pound (get a 5 or 5 ½ lb one if you want leftovers and who doesn’t? Just make sure your casserole is big enough) beef brisket (Please get grass-fed, if possible, for maximum flavor and for humanely-raised beef — and have the butcher leave on a lot of fat. You can always skim off the fat later but you can’t add it once it’s off. Grass-fed briskets tend to be lean. Too-lean brisket dry out. Some butchers do take off most of the fat, thinking you won’t want to pay for the fat and/or because they don’t realize how vital it is to have it.)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
Two 14-ounce cans jellied cranberry sauce, sliced

1) Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days. (Uh oh — I am usually in such a hurry and holiday tizzy that I don’t get around to doing it two days before. Or any days before. )

2) When you’re ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500° F. (That is way too hot for my city apartment — I am afraid the kitchen would blow up. I’m afraid of bats and lightening, too. So I preheat it to 450˚F.)

3) Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan, (it’s really a casserole dish with a tight seal) and roast for 20 minutes (That scares me to death — I can’t imagine the brisket wouldn’t overcook at 20 minutes a side. So I roast/brown it in the oven for about 10 minutes a side.) Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350° F. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry sauce slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil (if you do have a tight-fitting lid on your casserole — and I do — I don’t see the reason for aluminum foil) and cook until fork tender, about three hours. (Because of the longish roasting/browning step, my Rosh Hashanah brisket actually cooked in under 3 hours. And it was over 5 pounds. So check it earlier.)

4) Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. (If you slice it too thin, the slices will fall apart when you are ready to heat it up and serve it.) Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle (I now think it’s just: Make sure the slices are all fully covered in the sauce.) so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil, (put on the lid) and refrigerate overnight.

5) The next day, remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350° F (Don’t ever ever turn your oven up any higher than 350° F to braise your brisket — it will be like a sweat lodge for your brisket and it could definitely dry up. Lots of recipes call for 325° F.) for 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. (The notion of reheating it for 40-50 minutes seems excessive to me now. Further, I am not a fan of uncovering the brisket in the oven. When I am ready to serve my brisket, I reheat it slowly on the top of the stove.)

6) Serve with the sauce. (Oh, and because I like a smooth sauce better than a rough one, I put the sauce in the blender. Which also seems to thicken it and kind of silken it. Braised brisket is never really a pretty dish but this helps. It looks way less homely.)


Temple Emanu-El Brisket: The Original

By Roberta Greenberg

The recipe, as it appears in Stephanie Pierson’s “The Brisket Book.” The author has since revised it. Photograph by Stephanie Pierson

Serves 8 to 10

One 4- to 5-pound beef brisket
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large onions, peeled and cut into eighths
Two 14-ounce cans jellied cranberry sauce, sliced

1) Sprinkle both sides of the brisket with the garlic powder, paprika and salt and pepper taste. Tightly cover the brisket with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days.

2) When you’re ready to finish the dish, preheat the oven to 500° F.

3) Unwrap the brisket, place it in a roasting pan, and roast for 20 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from the oven and decrease the temperature to 350° F. Place the onions under and around the brisket, then cover the top of the meat with the cranberry sauce slices. Tightly cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and cook until fork tender, about three hours.

4) Remove the pan from the oven and allow the brisket to cool. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board, trim the fat, then slice the meat against the grain to the desired thickness. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice, cover the pan with foil, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove any congealed fat from the top of the sauce. Heat the brisket, covered, at 350°F for 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until hot and the sauce has reduced a bit. Serve with the sauce.

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A Brisket Blessing

By Stephanie Pierson

I saved the email Rabbi Posner sent me giving permission to use Roberta Greenberg’s Temple Emanu-El brisket recipe because it was so charming. It read:

“You have my heart-felt blessing to use the recipe. I ran this, of course, by my wife, of 41 years. She said, “Davey…what about my recipe for “Steak Continental?” I responded, “Tzipi…please…don’t get involved… I want to keep my job.”


Actor Turns Table-Waiting Tragedy into Comedy

By Hadas Margulies

Brad Zimmerman’s road hasn’t been easy — and he lets you know why in his new one-man show. Photograph courtesy of Symphony Space

Ever wondered what it’s like to be an aspiring entertainer stuck waiting tables for decades? I wouldn’t recommend asking one. Instead, you might take a seat at Brad Zimmerman’s one-man show, “My Son the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy,” which opened last week at Stage 72 at New York’s Triad Theater.

After 30 years waiting tables and trying to find success as an actor and comedian, Zimmerman can finally, quite possibly, make his mother proud.

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DIY Pork-Detector Kit Hits France

By Julie Wiener

A new way to detect whether food contains pork traces will soon be available online

JTA - Worried that the food you thought was kosher, or at least kosher style, has some hidden pork?

Now, using a few test tubes, water and a small pregnancy test-like strip, you can find out in a few minutes whether your food contains pork traces.

HalalTest, a new product developed by two French entrepreneurs, does just this and already has sold 10,000 kits in France, according to Ynet. The kit is being marketed to France’s Muslim community but reportedly will be available online soon.

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A No-Guilt (Vegan) Schmear for Your Bagel

By Hadas Margulies

This cream cheese beats the pants off Tofutti. Photograph by Hadas Margulies

As a follow-up to my post on gluten-free vegan pumpkin bagels, I thought it was only fitting to share with you a whole new world of cream cheese: the raw, vegan one.

I love raw foods, because no nutrients are lost in their preparation. You get all the good stuff, untarnished by heat. Of course, cooked food has its benefits, too, which is why I go for a healthy mix of both raw and cooked foods.

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Bench Pressing the Bottle

By Rachel Delia Benaim

Photograph by Marcus Lam; Flickr

Ever heard the conjecture that calories don’t count on Jewish holidays?

It’s crazy, we know, but the more I think about it, there might be some modicum of truth to it.

By now we’ve all heard about studies showing that red wine contains resveratrol, a chemical compound naturally produced by some plants, which benefits the human heart, muscles and bones.

This week, the Latin Times put a new twist on this already encouraging piece of information: Drinking red wine, they posited, might be as good for you as going to the gym.

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One-Spice Magic

By Chana Billet

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

Spices have the incredible potential to transform a simple dish, and you don’t need a mélange of them to create tremendous flavor. Add cumin to hummus; paprika to fish; or cinnamon to brisket and these foods take on a life of their own as a single spice works its magic.

I am passionate about one-spice dishes because of an experience I had this summer, cooking in a makeshift kitchen with a very limited pantry. My husband worked as the drama director at a Jewish sleep-away camp, where we lived for eight weeks in a cabin. After eating two disappointing meals in the camp’s commissary, I went to Walmart and outfitted our small space with an electric burner and a few basic pots. I bought a slab of wood to function as a countertop and used our bathroom sink to wash the dishes.

In this rustic set-up, I made the most glorious, tasty, healthful meals. Best of all, my limited pantry led me to discover the power of letting one spice do its job.

Of the dishes I created this summer, one of our favorites was stewed chicken with paprika, summer squash and chickpeas, which we enjoyed at many outdoor Shabbat dinners amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Catskill Mountains. This one-pot main course lets the stove — and the paprika — do all the work.

Now that it’s fall, I can’t stop making it.


Paprika Chicken With Chickpeas and Zucchini

By Chana Billet

This savory dish proves the power of letting one spice do its job. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
1 heaping tablespoon paprika, plus more for sprinkling
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
8 pieces of chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin removed
½ cup water
2 medium summer squash, such as zucchini or yellow squash, cut into large chunks

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot and cook the onion until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the paprika and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and stir gently to combine. Add parsley, reserving a little bit to garnish the dish before serving. Add salt and pepper.

2) Add the chicken pieces and enough water so that ¼- to ½-inch of the chicken is covered, about ½ cup. Use a large spoon to ladle the onion and chickpea mixture over the chicken.

3) Sprinkle with additional paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and spoon more of the cooking liquid over the chicken. Add squash, sprinkling with a little more paprika, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is stewed and practically falling off the bone. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

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Indian-Scented Spin on a Jewish Staple

By Hadas Margulies

This yellow cabbage and edamame dish will warm the Indian Eastern European in you. Photograph by Hadas Margulies

A good cabbage dish is one of my favorite gift’s from my Eastern European ancestors. A head of cabbage is cheap, huge and its fairly neutral flavor allows so much room for creativity.

Now that it’s getting cold in New York, I’m all about warming, Indian-inspired spices and sizzling side dishes. This one is quick and easy and doesn’t require too many ingredients. All of the vegetables should be chopped fairly small, but the size isn’t particularly important. If you don’t already have these spices at home, they’re worth the investment. The mix I have for you here is extremely effective in brightening up most vegetables. And of course, as a holistic nutrition student, I’m all about the immune-boosting spices and herbs. Turmeric, ginger and garlic are said to fend off unwanted sniffles; cumin is packed with nutrition, especially blood-building iron, and chili powder will kick-start your metabolism.

Bring it on, Fall, bring it on.

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Berlin's Hummus Entrepreneurs

By Yermi Brenner

Eran Weinberger, in front of his restaurant, Zula Hummus Cafe. Photographs by Yermi Brenner

Back in Israel, I used to eat a hummus plate for lunch about three times a week. When I relocated to Berlin this summer, reviving this delicious routine was high on my priority list.

On my third evening in town, while strolling East Berlin’s streets, I saw a restaurant with an inviting name: Zula Hummus Cafe. Zula is Hebrew slang describing a comfortable, relaxing place, and at the time — as I cluelessly searched for an apartment in this huge city, with zero German language skills — that’s exactly what Zula Hummus Cafe was for me. It gave me a feeling of home.

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Crumbs Reopens, With New Treats on the Menu

By Hadas Margulies

The writer wants to eat all of the Kid’s Favorite Taste Pack pictured above. Courtesy of Crumbs

Cupcake-loving kosher-keepers rejoice — Crumbs is back in action and sweeter than ever.

The cupcake chain, which opened in 2003 on the Upper West Side, closed its doors this past July. I remember it well. My Israeli cousins were devastated that they’d need to find a new bakery to supply them with sweets on their annual New York visits. Now we can all breath a sigh of relief, because as of Sukkot, Crumbs has reopened in Herald Square with a lofty selection of cupcakes, of course, as well as challah, ice cream and a new creation, the bassant (bagel croissant!).

After incurring $14 million in debts, Crumbs owes its second chance to Beirut-born Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur and star of CNBC’s “The Profit.” On the show, Lemonis finds ways to bring failing businesses back into the game. And really, if bassants won’t do the trick, I don’t know what will.

Hadas Margulies is the new food intern at the Forward. Find her at HadasMargulies.com.


A Twist on Cholent You've Got to Try

By Maurie Backman

Photograph by MollyJade via Flickr

Growing up, there was nothing like waking up on Shabbat morning to the unmistakable smell of cholent cooking in my mother’s extra-large stock pot. Held down by a massive weight (which my mother used to call “the cholent maker,” leading me to believe there was an actual devise that magically worked to churn beef, beans, potatoes and barley into a perfectly cohesive stew), the pot would often threaten to bubble over, spilling drops of rich cholent goodness down the sides.

At times, the smell would be overwhelming, both for better and for worse. But the hardest part was the hour before lunch time, when the anticipation of that perfect amalgamation of spices and substance would take over and my mother’s otherwise reasonably well-behaved children would turn into unrecognizable monsters begging for food.

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Behold, Schnitzi the Schnitzel Truck

By Dan Friedman

Photograph by Dan Friedman

When I was growing up, reheated frozen turkey schnitzel was a default dinner. The timing was carefully calibrated. My mother, who tutored math at home, could turn on the oven before her last class, come downstairs and put the schnitzel tray into the oven during her student’s first solo attempt at the algebraic challenge and, by the end of class, voilà, schnitzels and oven chips.

My sister and I were grateful that we’d arrive home from our after-school activities to find food on the table even after mum had worked all afternoon, but we also developed tasty ways of rehydrating ourselves after eating the hygroscopic meat. Whether it was the initial freezing of the meat, its reheating or the dry-breading of its surface that caused its tendency to absorb all moisture we never knew, but to avoid parched palates we doused it with a variety of tomato sauces, ketchups and tangy pickles. Plus, bitter experience had taught us to keep water, juices and squashes handy, just in case.

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Today is Lower East Side Pickle Day!

By Hadas Margulies

Turning back time on the Lower East Side today. Courtesy of Lower East Side Pickle Day

It’s hard to stay cool as a cucumber when today is such a big dill!

Lower East Side Pickle Day is finally upon us in all its salty and sour green glory. From 12-5 p.m. today (Sunday, October 19), get a taste of the Lower East Side’s rich heritage as Orchard Street at Delancey fills up with pushcarts, fashion vendors, music, games and an amazing array of food.

Pickle Day was designed to remind New Yorkers of the world that existed before all the trendy brunch spots took over.

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‘Chanel’ With a Schmear

By Michael Kaminer

Actress India Menuez arrives at a Chanel event with a delicious (if ersatz) accessory. Photograph by Timothy A. Clary; Getty Images

This bagel goes with everything.

A mock “Chanel” bag designed to resemble a bagel with schmear became a global sensation this week after making its debut on the arm of actress India Menuez at a Chanel No. 5 dinner in New York Monday night.

The edible-looking accessory isn’t even the first Jewish-food mashup for Montreal-born artist Chloe Wise, who created the bagel bag. Wise made a “Prada” challah backpack this summer called “Ain’t No Challah Back (Pack) Girl” — basically a sculpted, braided challah loaf with two straps and a Prada label. And a 2013 work called “Star of Larry David” mounted sculpted bacon strips into a Jewish star.

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Kosher Barbecue Comes to Crown Heights

By Michael Kaminer

Photographs courtesy of Izzy’s BBQ Addiction

New York’s got spots for kosher sushi (Butterfish), kosher tapas (Mason & Mug), even kosher deconstructed BLTs (Pardes).

But aside from food trucks like The Wandering Que, fans of kosher barbecue have had no place to call their own.

That’s about to change. Sruli Eidelman, the self-taught pitmaster behind the hugely popular barbecue pop-up Izzy’s BBQ Addiction is about to open the Big Apple’s first stand-alone kosher barbecue joint.

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Israelis Hungry for Vegan Diet

By Ben Sales

Photograph by Mr.TinDC; Flickr Creative Commons

(JTA) — The music pounded, the liquor flowed, dancers filled the floor and khinkali meat dumplings and kababi skewers — staples of traditional Georgian cuisines — sat on almost every table.

That was back in February, before Nana Shrier, the owner of the hip Tel Aviv bar and restaurant Nanuchka, saw a television news report about factory farming. Then everything changed.

Abhorred by how animals are treated in industrial meat and dairy production, Shrier stripped all the animal products from the menu — from cheese to eggs to chicken and steak — and made the restaurant entirely vegan.

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