The Jew And The Carrot

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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Stuffed Quinces with Mint and Pomegranate

By Liza Schoenfein

Photographs by Liza Schoenfein

I had a wooden bowl of pale green pear-scented quinces on my kitchen counter all week. I wondered what I would do with them, and started flipping through my cookbooks, doing research. I’d already made quince paste this fall, and I liked the idea of taking my quinces in another direction.

It turns out that quinces appear in a wide array of Jewish fall dishes. In her “Jewish Holiday Cookbook” (Schocken), Joan Nathan writes of an Algerian chicken-and-quince tagine served at Rosh Hashanah. Claudia Roden mentions a similar dish in “The Book of Jewish Food” (Knopf), eaten by Algerian and Moroccan Jews the night before the Yom Kippur fast. In “Jerusalem” (Ten Speed Press), Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi share a lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate and cilantro, and it was here that I paused, because we are still in Sukkot, when stuffed dishes are served to symbolize the hope for a plentiful harvest (as I wrote last week when I made meat-stuffed peppers).

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Holding a Vegan 'Candle' to Jewish Holiday Menu

By Alix Wall

Photography © 2014 by Jim Franco

This is a sporadic column by 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.

When “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café: Celebratory Menus and Recipes from New York’s Premier Plant-Based Restaurants,” by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda, showed up on my doorstep, I flipped through it to see if there were any Jewish holidays represented.

I’m a fan of the trio of New York vegan eateries Candle Café, Candle 79 and Candle Café West, so I was glad to find that among the 10 menus for occasions such as the Superbowl, Lunar New Year, Easter Brunch and 4th of July, is one for Passover. And on that Passover menu are 11 recipes for Jewish favorites that wouldn’t be out of place on other Jewish holiday tables as well.

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Gefilte Tofu With Horseradish and Beet Relish

By Joy Pierson and Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda

Gefilte Tofu With Fresh Horseradish and Beet Relish from “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café. Photography © 2014 by Jim Franco

Gefilte fish is a traditional seder appetizer that is made with ground whitefish and matzo meal. We created a very tasty vegan version that is made with firm and silken tofu, carrots and celery. The taste and the texture are spot on! Note that if you don’t have a juicer to make the beet juice, you can substitute an extra half cup of finely shredded beets.

Serves 8 to 10

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu
8 ounces silken tofu
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped carrot
¼ cup finely chopped celery
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon agar powder

For the horseradish & beet relish:

1 ½ cups finely shredded fresh horseradish
½ cup finely shredded fresh raw beets
¼ cup beet juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
Minced fresh chives, to garnish

1) To make the gefilte tofu, cut the firm tofu in half and finely chop one-half of it.

2) Put the silken tofu in a large bowl. Take the whole piece of extra-firm tofu and crumble it into the bowl. Add the chopped extra-firm tofu to the bowl, toss the different tofus together, and set aside.

3) Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, shallots and salt and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the reserved tofu and agar to the pan and cook, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

3) Using a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, form the tofu into balls, put them on a baking sheet, and let sit for 30 minutes. The tofu will keep in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

4) To make the relish, combine the horseradish, beets, beet juice, vinegar and salt in a bowl.

5) To serve, put a scoop of the gefilte tofu on a salad plate, spoon the relish on the side and garnish with fresh chives.

Reprinted with permission from “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café,” by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press. Photography © 2014 by Jim Franco.

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Chopped “Liver”

By Joy Pierson and Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda

Photography © 2014 by Jim Franco

Although this recipe is fairly labor-intensive, it is well worth the work. You may want to double the recipe since it disappears quickly from the table, and you may want to keep some for delicious leftovers. It is also best to make it the day before you’re planning to serve it to let the flavors blend and intensify. Serve this fantastic spread with matzo or crudités.

Serves 8 to 10

¼ cup walnuts
1 cup dried chickpeas, covered with water and soaked overnight in the refrigerator
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, peeled, and finely diced
1 white onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more if needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed

1) Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2) Spread out the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast them for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel the walnuts and set aside.

3) Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Drain the chickpeas and add to the pot with the bay leaf. Cook uncovered over high heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Drain, remove the bay leaf and let cool.

4) Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

5) In another sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, decrease the heat and cook over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

6) Transfer the walnuts, chickpeas, mushrooms, onion, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. The chopped liver will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving. Serve in a bowl at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from “Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café,” by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press.

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Pumpkin Bagels, Allergy-Free and Easy

By Hadas Margulies

Healthful, homemade pumpkin bagels are easier to make than you might think. Photographs by Liza Schoenfein

As a holistic-nutrition student and private chef, my main goal in, well, life, is to create the healthiest comfort food known to man. There are certain foods I could never live without, but often they contain ingredients I definitely want to live without. Enter the bagel — a childhood favorite that I won’t eat today unless it’s thoroughly scooped out. And where’s the fun in that?

After eyeing some pumpkin bagels at Trader Joe’s that were full of unhealthy oils and sugar, I knew I had to make my own. The ones I came up with are virtually allergy-free (they’re gluten-free, nut-free, yeast-free and vegan) and extremely health supportive. They taste deliciously seasonal, too. Because they require no yeast (which means no rising time), you can make a week’s worth of bagels in less than half an hour.

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Cooking With Pumpkin, for Beginners

By Maurie Backman

The arrival of pumpkin-flavored foods has always seemed to signify the true start of fall, and in recent years, the pumpkin trend has really kicked into gear. Forget about coffee and lattes; these days you can buy everything from pumpkin-flavored cream cheese to pumpkin-infused potato chips. And while these processed, commercialized products may not seem like the most wholesome of food options, real pumpkin does offer a fair amount of nutritional value. In its natural form, it’s low in calories and sugar, rich in Vitamin A and amply packed with beta-carotene.

Of course, many associate pumpkin with baked goods and sweets — think pumpkin bread, muffins and of course, ice cream. But pumpkin also lends itself to a host of savory applications, from soups to sides to main courses.

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Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen Lives Up to Its Name

By Hadas Margulies

Conflict Kitchen goes Palestinian. Screenshot from Conflict Kitchen

Some members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community are none too happy with Conflict Kitchen’s latest menu.

Every few months, the popular local restaurant features a cuisine from a country that’s in conflict with the U.S. Currently on the menu is Palestinian food, which has stirred up a bit of a backlash.

“Palestine is not in conflict with the U.S.,” said Gregg Roman, director of the community relations council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “The restaurant is stirring up conflict for the sake of trying to be relevant.”

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A Podcast for the ‘Artsy Foodie’ in You

By Hadas Margulies

The new radio half hour airs Sundays at 6 p.m. Photograph courtesy of Joshua David Stein

Joshua David Stein, restaurant critic for the New York Observer, has launched a podcast on the Heritage Radio Network. The Joshua David Stein Variety Hour…Half Hour features poems, music and themed discussions about food.

According to the description on Heritage Radio Network, the show is “a freewheeling, haphazard hootenany about restaurants, reviewing restaurants, loving them, hating them, hating reviewing them as well as special segments like, ‘A Not-Yet-Famous Actor Reads Food Erotica’ and ‘This is the Portion of the Show with A Musical Guest!,’ in which a musical guest will perform a song about food. Think of it as This American Life but without the budget and where every episode our theme is food.”

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


Applesauce in All Its Glory

By Chana Billet

Photograph by Marisa McClellan; Flickr Creative Commons

When I was growing up, my grandmother used to serve small glass bowls of freshly churned applesauce. Unlike the snack-size, shelf-stable containers I often found in my lunchbox, applesauce at my grandmother’s house was an ethereal experience. Her fragrant, aromatic and always-warm version was nothing like the supermarket staple I ate at school.

I’m on a quest to make what are often sold as processed foods from scratch for my family, so I took my grandmother’s lead and started making applesauce at home. No fancy ingredients, special equipment or secret methods needed. Here’s what you do:

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