Photograph courtesy of Abe Fisher.
Leeks and feta cheese. Cajun seasonings. Black garlic jam and pickled apples.
These are latkes?
Welcome to Latkepalooza, the annual Philadelphia smackdown that challenges local chefs to reinvent the humble potato pancake.
On Sunday, December 7, nine eateries across a wide swath of Philadelphia’s stellar restaurant scene will showcase recipes created especially for the 12-year-old cook-off, now a hot ticket for Philly foodies.
The event began in 2003 “as a way to blend a popular Hanukkah tradition with Philadelphia’s growing foodie culture — a direct result of the city’s restaurant renaissance,” said Sahar Oz, director of programming at Philadelphia’s Gershman Y, which launched — and still hosts — the event. More than 350 latke lovers are expected this year.
Photograph and recipe courtesy of Abe Fisher.
Makes one big latke, cut into wedges to serve
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons flour
2½ teaspoons salt
Combine all ingredients quickly, don’t overmix.
Using a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, fill hot pan halfway with oil.
Let oil get hot (a dollop of the mix should sizzle) before adding all of the mixture to the pan.
Cook 5 minutes on the first side, flip and cook 5 minutes on the second side, flip and cook 2 minutes, flip again and cook 2 minutes. Remove from oil and drain.
Gin Cured Salmon
1 side of filleted salmon, pinbones removed
1 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated or brown sugar
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
¼ to ½ cup of gin
1) Combine all salt, sugar, dill, parsley. Then add ¼ cup gin to dry ingredients, until mixture has a wet sand consistency. Use this “sand” to pack the fish, laid out on a sheet tray with space in between each piece.
2) Pack fish with wet sand mixture. Let it sit in fridge 7 days, uncovered, to cure.
3) After 7 days, slice thinly to serve.
2 bunches of baby beets, rinsed but skin on
2 cups water
2 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons ground allspice
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup chopped chives, to garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F.
2) Place beets, liquids, sugar, allspice and salt in a pan. Cover, and cook in oven for 45 minutes, until beets are fork tender. Allow beets to cool in the liquid. (Peels will come right off.) Discard peels and cooking liquid.
3) Dice beets small and mix with chopped chives, reserving a few to garnish finished dish.
Homemade Boursin-Style Cheese
1 head garlic
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt to taste
¾ cup butter
1 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons dried chives
2 tablespoons fresh dill
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup sour cream
1) Preheat oven to 275˚ F.
2) Wrap whole head of garlic in foil. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and bake for 1½ hours or until very soft.
3) Combine butter, cream cheese and roasted garlic in a food processor with white pepper. Process until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in chives, dill, parsley and sour cream. Salt to taste. Store up to a week in the refrigerator.
To assemble the dish:
Serve latkes hot, cut into wedges. Schmear boursin across each plate; place one latke wedge down; top with two shingles of sliced salmon; add second latke; shingle two more layers of salmon. Top with pickled beets; garnish with chopped chives.
This orange-chocolate “cheese” cake is from Susan Powers’ “Rawmazing Desserts”. Photograph by Susan Powers
My first foray into the healthful and delicious world of raw desserts began seven years ago when I was making a sheva brachot (seven blessings) dinner for a friend who had gotten married two days earlier. As Murphy’s Law predicted, my oven and stove died the morning of the big event.
While I prepared most of the dinner on the grill, I was stumped by the challenge of what to make for dessert.
Like a “Top Chef” quick-fire contest with crazy requirements, the final course had to be non-dairy and made without an oven or stovetop.
I had a lot of fresh fruit on hand because, originally, I was going to make mini peach-blueberry crumbles. I halved and pitted the peaches and soaked them in sweet wine and spices. As they macerated, I processed cashews in the blender with a little bit of water, maple syrup and vanilla bean to create a decadent cashew crème.
This raw, parve orange-chocolate “cheese” cake is from Susan Powers’ “Rawmazing Desserts”. Photograph by Susan Powers
You will want to make this cheese cake the night before for proper setting up. Think of it as a make-ahead dessert. You can add the extra layer of crumbs either on top or in the middle. I kind of like the way it looks in the middle!
For the crust:
½ cup almonds
½ cup pecans
4 Medjool dates, soaked in a little bit of water until soft
¼ cup cacao powder
For the filling:
2-4 oranges, depending on size
2 cups cashews, soaked in water until soft, about 4 hours, then rinsed and drained
1¼ cup of coconut oil
1 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup raw agave nectar or maple syrup
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
To make the crust:
1) Line a 7-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2) Process the almonds and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped.
3) Add the dates and cacao. Process until well blended. The mixture should stick together when you pinch it.
4) Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan. Make sure to press it in well. Set aside the remaining mixture.
To make the filling:
1) Zest the oranges until you have ½ cup of zest.
2) Juice the oranges until you have 1 cup of juice.
3) In a high-speed blender, combine the cashews, coconut oil, orange juice and raw agave nectar or maple syrup. Blend until smooth.
4) Add the zest and ginger. Pulse to just combine.
5) Pour the filling over the crust and refrigerate overnight.
6) Before serving, sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture and garnish with strips of orange zest, if desired.
Chef’s note: If you want to use the crust as a layer (like photo), you will need to pour half the filling mixture into the pan and place it in the freezer for a bit (DO NOT LET FREEZE) to let it set up. Sprinkle crust over bottom layer then carefully pour in the remaining filling mixture.
From Rawmazing.com by Susan Powers. Originally published in “Rawmazing Desserts”.
Picture it: a tender, nutty crust and crumble topping, surrounding caramel-coated apple slices kissed with cinnamon, all gently warmed in the dehydrator or oven. In other words, autumnal heaven. That is this pie. Photograph by Amber Shea Crawley
For the crust and topping:
1½ cup almonds
¾ cup walnuts
¾ cup pecans
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup golden raisins
1/3 cup pitted Medjool dates
For the caramel sauce:
1 cup pitted Medjool dates, soaked in warm water until soft and then drained
2/3 cups non-dairy milk, such as coconut, oat, almond or hempseed milk, either store-bought or homemade
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
For the filling:
3 medium red apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
To make the crust:
1) Combine the almonds, walnuts, pecans and salt in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the raisins, ¼ cup at a time, pulsing in between additions until well-incorporated. Add the dates and pulse until the mixture is sticky but still crumbly. Measure out 1 cup of the crust mixture and set it aside.
2) Transfer the remaining crust mixture to a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate (lined with parchment paper for easy removal, if desired). Press the mixture thinly, firmly and evenly onto the sides and bottom of the pan. Set aside the pan while you make the sauce and filling.
To make the caramel sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, up to 3 days.
To make the filling and assemble the pie:
1) Combine the sliced apples with lemon juice and cinnamon in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the caramel sauce and toss again until the apple slices are coated with the caramel.
2) Transfer the apple mixture, and any extra sauce lingering in the bottom of the bowl, into the reserved crust, arranging the apples and patting them down so they create a flat, even layer.
3) Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top of the apple filling.
4) Dehydrate at 115˚ F for 5-6 hours, until the pie is barely warmed through, or bake in a preheated oven at 250˚F for 20-25 minutes, until warmed throughout, or just refrigerate until ready to serve.
5) To store, wrap snugly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
From “Practically Raw Desserts” © 2013 by Amber Shea Crawley. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.
It was certainly one of the stranger Jewish conversations I have had. (Mind you, I have had many.) There I was in Oxford after a hearty Sabbath lunch, walking in the beauty of Christ Church Meadow, chatting with a new friend about food. At a moment, he turned to me and said, “You said you’re South African, right?”
“Sort of,” I responded. “Why?”
And then he explained to me a great British Jewish saga. Marmite — that constant, ever-British (and delicious) condiment — was not kosher-certified by the British rabbinical authorities, despite its “suitability for a kosher diet.” That is, as manufactured in Britain! However, the South African version is certified, and until recently, was readily available at South African and Jewish shops across the United Kingdom. But then the British manufacturer decided to enforce its brand monopoly — and the South African — and kosher — Marmite was gone!
A happy Hanukkah mistake becomes a delicious breakfast. Photograph by Yishai Margulies
In preparation for Hanukkah, I had my heart set on creating the ultimate gluten-free and vegan sufganiyot — doughnut holes digestible to all. And, after a total of three fruitless hours waiting for my dough to rise, I should have given up. I didn’t. I formed dense little balls and tossed them into the frying pan, hoping the sizzling coconut oil and general deliciousness of the doughnuts might make up for their texture. Alas, even my teenage brother wouldn’t eat them.
I was out of time, and my brother was hungry. I had promised him a sweet, Hanukkah-themed breakfast! I make a mean latke, but Yishai had his sweet tooth set on some sugar. Then it hit me: Combine the jelly doughnut with the potato pancake. My brother and I love combining foods. We call one of our claims to fame the cawffle — part cookie, part waffle. It’s two chocolate waffles with a white, coconut cream in the middle, like an Oreo. And with that memory, the sufganiyatka was born.
The next decision I had to make was what kind of oil to use. It had to be a high-quality one. Hanukkah, after all, is a celebration of oil. I chose coconut oil, in the end, because it’s an extremely stable oil with a high smoke point. In other words, its chemistry doesn’t change when heated, like that of olive oil, making it a healthier choice. It also tastes amazing.
When it comes down to it, you may think the sufganiyatka is just another pancake — grain-free, vegan and ultra moist and fluffy one, that is. But it’s also a festive quick fix. They look great and are a heck of a lot healthier than traditional sufganiyot.
Before I let my brother taste, we had to photograph our creation. “Are these for Pancake Monthly or something?” he asked sarcastically, searching for the best angle. “Sort of,” I told him. “They’re so pretty, I don’t want to eat them,” he said. But he did — impressively quickly for an omnivore, too. Hanukkah breakfast success.
Photographs courtesy of the Jewish Whisky Company.
I’m not a big whisky drinker. I’m especially not a whisky drinker at 11:30 in the morning on a workday. But that changed when I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joshua Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin, two of the three founders of the Jewish Whisky Company. (The third founder is Seth Klaskin.)
Prior to founding the JWC, Joshua and Jason had two of the most widely read, respected, followed and admired whisky blogs on the Internet. (Joshua still writes his, which is called jewmalt.com.) Readers would write in for advice and buying suggestions; distilleries would send the guys bottles and ask for their opinions. Over the years, Joshua and Jason found themselves consulting with each other, and eventually became friends.
Readers often asked Joshua, who observes kosher laws, his opinion of the “kosherness” of whisky, and where they could get good whisky that satisfied their dietary needs. That’s when Joshua called Jason and said, “Please tell me this is a crazy idea….”
Instead, Jason applauded the idea — starting an independent whisky bottling company — and thus the Jewish Whisky Company was born.
Anne Russ behind the counter at Russ & Daughters. Photograph courtesy of Russ & Daughters.
“You want to watch a Homeland or something?” my husband Mark asked me the other night. I was on my computer, looking at a trailer for The Sturgeon Queens, a new documentary about the history of Russ & Daughters, the much beloved New York appetizing shop that’s celebrating its centennial this year.
“Check this out,” I said, turning the screen toward him and starting the preview from the beginning. I explained that I needed to watch the film sometime in the next few days, before interviewing the filmmaker, Julie Cohen, who also made the 2008 PBS documentary The Jews of New York.
Trailer for The Sturgeon Queens, which premieres this week. Flanking their father, Joel Russ, they are (from left to right) Hattie, Ida and Anne.
“Oh, let’s watch it now,” Mark said when the preview was over.
“Really?” I asked. “You’re okay watching a documentary about a Lower East Side appetizing shop instead of Homeland?”
“It looks great,” he said. And it was.
A few days later, I slid into a sage-green vinyl booth opposite Julie Cohen at the new Russ & Daughters Café, which opened a few blocks from the original shop in May. Over cream-cheese-and-lox omelets, a herring sampler and a delectable salmon spread called hot smoke/cold smoke, served with homemade potato chips, we chatted about the film.
The Shuka Team gears up for its first eggcellent day. Photograph courtesy of The Shuka Team
Catch The Shuka Truck today — you’ll recognize it by its lovely shade of eggshell — as it parks for the first time.
For its main attraction, the Shuka team will be cooking up Shakshuka, of course — the Israeli/Tunisian dish featuring eggs cooked atop a well-seasoned tomato sauce. You’ll also find plenty of hummus and vegetable sides at today’s parking spot on 32nd and Park.
Hadas Margulies is the food intern at the Forward. Find her at HadasMargulies.com.
Schmaltz Appetizing’s bagel with whitefish salad. Photographs by Caroline Aksich, Toronto Life
Anthony Rose swears this was the original tagline for Schmaltz Appetizing, his new Toronto fish emporium:
“We cater the beginning and the end — the bris and the shiva.”
The joke is typical Rose. While the 35-year-old is dead serious about food, he brings a mischievous, unfiltered wit into everything from menus to Tweets at his four Toronto restaurants.
Schmaltz Appetizing is the newest — and possibly gutsiest. Unabashedly modeled after New York appetizing mecca Russ & Daughters, the store occupies a tiny space behind Fat Pasha, Rose’s white-hot Ashkenazi-Middle-Eastern mashup palace. Poured-concrete floors and sleek wood fixtures give the place a very hip ambience that makes a perfect stage for its nouveau-Jewish offerings.
Photographs by Sigal Samuel
Taking my first bite of bamia kuhta at Haldi, Manhattan’s new Indian-Jewish restaurant, I registered a surge of spiciness — and of guilt.
Suddenly, I felt sure that wherever she was, whatever she was doing at that moment, my Bombay-born grandmother could see me enjoying an Indian-Jewish feast that was — heresy of heresies! — not of her own making.
I tried to quell my grandmother’s imagined rebuke by telling myself that this bamia did not measure up to hers: the okra was crispier, the gravy too spicy, the chicken perplexingly and somewhat devastatingly replaced by lamb. But who was I kidding? As I went back for another forkful and another, I had to admit that I was happy to be here. Finally, a restaurant that brought the tastes of my Indian-Jewish family dinners to the city of my exile, New York.
T’ruah rabbis and farmworker activists protest at a Wendy’s in Naples, Florida, calling on the fast-food giant to join the Fair Food Program. Photograph by Coalition of Imokalee Workers.
Who picks the food you eat? How are they treated? How much are they paid?
These are just a few of the critical questions that we often overlook at mealtimes. “Food Chains,” a new documentary, offers some powerful answers.
“Food Chains” is a snapshot of the current state of American farmworkers: underpaid, undervalued and facing a violent and unpredictable workplace in which they can’t report abuses because of fear of reprisals.
Growing up in Montreal and Toronto respectively, neither my husband nor I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. According to my parents, it was a Christian holiday. In my imagination, Thanksgiving encouraged families of scrubbed-faced pale-haired Christians across the country to sit around their hand-sawn and sanded wood tables under a big similarly homemade cross and say thank you to Jesus for their bounty.
In reality, Thanksgiving in Canada, as in America, is a harvest holiday, but it’s held more than a month earlier (it was pushed back from November to October in 1957 as not to clash with Armistice Day), and it seems to me the reason so few Canadian Jews celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving is because of the terrible timing. Canadian Thanksgiving, almost without fail, lands on Yom Kippur, between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, or on Sukkot. Trying to add another holiday during the early-fall calendar of Jewish holidays is not only chaotic, it can be a straight-up conflict (fasting and turkey-eating simply do not go hand-in-hand).
A heritage turkey awaits schechita, or ritual slaughter, conducted by the author. Photograph by Alyssa Kapnik
In 2013, President Obama pardoned two turkeys: Caramel and Popcorn. Caramel has already passed away and Popcorn is sure to follow soon. But these birds didn’t perish because of death panels, predators or homicidal presidents… they died because of bad genetics.
While ethically minded consumers look for “pasture-raised” and “organic” turkeys for Thanksgiving, the truth is that both of these terms ultimately have little to do with the well-being of a turkey. If you start with an animal that is badly bred, all the nutritious food and sunshine in the world won’t change the fact that it’s unhealthy. Taking a hybrid turkey and giving it organic feed is like planting GMO corn in an organic field: It just doesn’t make any sense.
Torta di zucca, an Italian winter squash and olive oil cake. Photograph by Gayle L. Squires
Admitting this in the days leading up to Thanksgiving might put me squarely in the crosshairs of the long-defunct House Committee on Un-American Activities, but I’m a risk-taker, so here goes: I don’t like pie. I particularly don’t like pumpkin pie. Now that I’ve said it out loud, please let me explain. (Don’t worry, I’ll be brief — and there’s cake at the end if you listen to the whole story.)
I will limit my anti-pie sentiments to three. First, the bottom crust is usually either too hard if it’s blind baked, or too soggy if it’s not. Second, and I know that I’m going to offend our orange-hued mascot of this week’s holiday feast and lovers of spiced lattes everywhere, pumpkin filling has the look and texture of baby food and the smell of a candle. Finally, if your home is anything like mine, after stuffing ourselves with turkey, dessert must be non-dairy, and while butter might be able to save many a pie, parve pie is just sad. After Thanksgiving dinner, I typically fill my dessert plate with the cut fruit.
Before this gets all Debbie downer, I do have a solution to my Thanksgiving woes: cake!
The recipe was adapted from Marta’s torta di zucca, a winter squash and olive oil cake by Chef Pat Clark. Photograph by Gayle L. Squires
I tested this cake with kobucha squash and butternut squash, and both worked well. A 1½ pound gourd has about 1 pound of usable squash which, shredded, yields 2¼ very tightly packed cups. Use whatever squash you like, just make sure to watch carefully while it roasts so that it doesn’t burn. You can substitute any nut for the cashews — I think almonds or pecans would work nicely. While Clark’s original recipe called for hand-grating the squash, I used my food processor, which yielded slightly thicker pieces of squash.
The bake time for this cake is quite long and will vary depending on your oven and the type of pan that you use. I used a 9-inch round springform pan with high sides and the total bake time was one hour and ten minutes. For the first 30 minutes or so, cover the pan with aluminum foil that you’ve poked holes in — this will allow the cake to bake without letting the top burn. The holes prevent the cake from steaming.
Serves 8 to 10
For the cake:
1½ pounds kobucha squash (or 1 pound pre-peeled and cut butternut squash)
¾ cup cashews
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for preparing the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1¾ cups white sugar
1 cup less 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the citrus glaze:
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1) Preheat the oven to 425° F.
2) Cut the squash into quarters. Remove the stringy bits and seeds. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer of your squash. Grate the squash using the large holes on a box grater or a food processor.
3) Spread the grated squash out on a baking tray and flash in the oven for 8-10 minutes to remove excess moisture from the squash. (A little color is okay, but don’t let the squash burn.)
4) Turn the oven down to 350° F. Toast the cashews for about 5 minutes until just slightly browned. Allow the nuts to cool and then coarsely chop.
5) Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with high sides by lightly spraying with oil. Dust the greased pan with flour, covering all surfaces and tapping out the excess flour.
6) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
7) With a stand mixer on medium to medium-high, paddle together the eggs, sugar, olive oil and vanilla until light and creamy. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
8) Add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix on low until just together. Use a rubber spatula and scrape down the mixing bowl again. Add the squash and toasted nuts all at once, mixing on low until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.
9) Poke a few holes in a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover your cake. Lightly tent the top of the cake, leaving room so it won’t touch the surface of the cake as it rises. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil tent, rotate cake and bake for 35-45 more minutes. Toothpick test the dead center to make sure your cake is fully baked.
10) While the cake is baking, whisk together the citrus glaze ingredients and leave on top of the stove to fully dissolve sugar. Whisk again prior to use.
11) Cool for 15-20 minutes and turn cake out onto a cooling rack. Immediately use a pastry brush to coat the top and sides with glaze, making sure to use all the glaze. You will think it’s too much, but it’s not. Allow the cake to completely cool before cutting.
One of the delicious cheese breads of Georgia. Photographs by Liza Schoenfein
“Gaumarjos!” Maia Efrem said, clinking a glass of red wine with those of the seven friends she’d gathered at Oda House, a Georgian restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. “That literally means ‘to victory’ in Georgian, and it’s how we say ‘cheers’.”
With that we kicked off our Georgian supra, or “big feast.” “It’s always served family style,” said Efrem, one of my colleagues at the Forward, who moved to Israel from Georgia when she was seven, then to Queens, New York, at 10.
The wine we toasted with, a dry red from the Kakhetia region, was made from a grape called saperavi. Efrem told us that all the wines of Georgia are aged not in oak or steel barrels but in clay.
To start, we ordered a trio of three appetizers called pkhali, each featuring ground walnuts, one with green beans, another with spinach, and a third wrapped in thin sheets of eggplant and topped with pomegranate seeds. All were redolent of coriander and fenugreek, two of the most commonly used spices in Georgian cuisine.
Photogaph by Liza Schoenfein
Blissful Sunday, thanks to Murray’s Sturgeon Shop on New York’s Upper West Side. The Eastern Nova is as buttery as ever, and sliced to translucent perfection by the inimitable Ira Goller.
Liza Schoenfein is the food editor of the Forward. Contact her at email@example.com.
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.