The Jew And The Carrot

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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The Gorbals’ Ilan Hall Talks Treyf

By Michael Kaminer

Not your mama’s matzo balls. Photograph courtesy of The Gorbals

Bacon-wrapped matzo balls put Ilan Hall on the map when he opened The Gorbals, his much-ballyhooed eatery in Downtown L.A. Now, New Yorkers are finally getting to experience Hall’s in-your-face, wackily inventive food with a new East Coast outpost of The Gorbals atop an Urban Outfitters “concept store” in Williamsburg.

Five years since his L.A. debut, Hall’s also proved he’s much bigger than one culinary gimmick. The victor of Top Chef’s second season, he now hosts the Esquire Network’s wildly popular competitive cooking show Knife Fight — executive-produced by none other than Drew Barrymore. While not quite a household name à la Batali or Ramsay, Hall’s as close as it comes to a bona fide culinary celebrity.

“People do come into the restaurant because they know my show or they’ve seen me on Top Chef,” he told the Forward from his shiny new Brooklyn kitchen. “It’s good press. But New York City isn’t really like that. I’m just a chef.”

But his menu belies his modesty: Think falafel-crusted veal sweetbreads with “cool ranch” hummus ($16), a “Jewish lunchbox” of gefilte fish cakes, kimchi, barley, and poached egg ($15), and a banh mi poutine, whose insane mash-up of pulled pork, mozzarella and pickled carrots somehow comes together beautifully into an irresistibly decadent whole. And, of course, those matzo balls ($9).

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Piety: Divine Pies Delivered to Your Door

By Elizabeth Traison

Piety’s honey-fig-plum pie (left) and rosemary-peach (right). Photograph by Elizabeth Traison

When it comes to a good pie, there are a few important factors that distinguish the edible from the incredible. Starting with the crust, which should be flaky and light but also capable of both standing up to and also complementing whatever goodness makes up the filling. While there are seemingly infinite possibilities when it comes to fillings, finding the right balance of ingredients — most notably, seasonal fruits and herbs — that marry together in a way that will make your mouth water is no easy task. Piety, Brooklyn’s newest kosher pie bakery, rises to the challenge.

Just from speaking to Rebecca Greenberg, founder and owner of Piety, you know she makes good pies. The patience, tenderness and kindness that come naturally to her personality (characteristics that were further developed by previous careers in education and child care), also make their way into her pies. “Baking a pie isn’t fast,” she says. “It takes time, patience and thoughtfulness” — and you know she’s speaking from experience. Crust and filling can make or break a good pie, but it’s these additional qualities that put a good pie over the top.

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Downtown L.A.'s Jewish Food Revival

By Anthony Weiss

Wexler’s Deli in Grand Central Market. Courtesy of Wexler’s Deli

(JTA) — At 97 years old, Grand Central Market has become one of the hottest destinations in this city, drawing long lines of foodies eager for the finest in artisanal cheeses, coddled eggs and pour-over coffee.

In August, the historic food market in downtown Los Angeles was named by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the country’s 10 best new food venues. Long a bustling bargain mart that catered to the city’s poorer denizens, the market has been reborn as a gourmet spot and tourist attraction.

At the heart of the market’s cavernous, industrial-era space sits one of the stars of that revival: Wexler’s Deli, the latest offering from wunderchef Micah Wexler, who has brought deli classics such as pastrami and corned beef back to Grand Central after a decades-long absence.

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Stuffed Peppers for Sukkot

By Liza Schoenfein

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

Moving from Yom Kippur straight into Sukkot, I started to think about what to cook, of course, and checked a few books and online references for inspiration.

Stuffed vegetables are de rigeur — they symbolize the hope for plenty during the harvest period — and being reminded of this, I thought of a crowd-pleasing recipe I came up with last fall, when, as now, farmer’s market stalls were overflowing with bright, multicolored bell peppers.

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5-Spice Stuffed Peppers

By Liza Schoenfein

Stuffed vegetables are a tradition at Sukkot, symbolizing the hope for plenty during the harvest. Photographs by Liza Schoenfein

Yields 8 stuffed peppers

½ onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed between your palms
½ teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice Powder
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 ¼ cup marinara sauce, divided
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1 egg, beaten
6-8 medium bell peppers, preferably a variety of colors, tops cut off (and reserved) and seeds removed
Fresh mint and/or parsley for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

2) In a 12-inch skillet, sauté the onion in oil for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the beef, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, oregano and Chinese 5-Spice, and cook, stirring, until the meat is no longer pink.

3) Drain meat in a colander to remove excess fat and then return to skillet. Stir in toasted pine nuts, rice, ½ cup of the marinara and egg. (Don’t add the egg until the pan has cooled down a bit.)

4) Add ¼ cup water to remaining ¾ cup marinara, pour into a shallow baking dish and arrange peppers on top. Spoon beef mixture into peppers, cover each with its top and bake 45 minutes. To serve, uncover each pepper, spoon some of the marinara on top, sprinkle with fresh herbs and replace the top loosely.

Liza Schoenfein is the new food editor of the Forward. Contact her at schoenfein@forward.com.


Harvest Chocolate Truffles for Sukkot

By Rabbi Debbie Prinz

Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia

Incorporate seasonal nuts and apples into these chocolate truffles to create a delicacy for Sukkot enjoyment. These truffles use fall harvest ingredients to enhance the happiness of the festival. Chag Sameach!

Harvest Chocolate Truffles

Yields 24 truffles

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)
3 pounds quality dark or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

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.” Combine the nuts, apple, orange, wine, honey, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing well. The fruit filling should have a smooth, thick texture. Roll the filling into 1-inch balls.

2) Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; remove from the heat.

3) Using two forks, dip the balls into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set.

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Mile End Goes Middle Eastern

By Liza Schoenfein

Schwarma-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Hearts of Palm, Apricots, Roasted Patty Pan Squash and Preserved Lemon from Mile End’s new Middle Eastern menu. Photograph courtesy of Mile End

New York’s Israeli food boom just got louder. The latest cannon blast is today’s announcement from Mile End Executive Chef Eli Sussman that beginning tomorrow night, he’ll offer a family-style five-course dinner menu “influenced by Middle Eastern Jewish cuisine” at Mile End on Bond. (There’s also a Mile End in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.)

Dishes will include Seared Cauliflower with Pickled Fennel, Oranges and Honey Harissa Tahini Dressing; Schwarma-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Hearts of Palm, Apricots, Roasted Patty Pan Squash and Preserved Lemon (pictured above); and Grilled Lamb Merguez with Grated Carrot Salad and Dates. Sussman will also offer vegetarian options.

The Middle Eastern menu will be available for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays. Mile End’s classic Montreal-style deli menu will remain on offer at both locations.

Liza Schoenfein is the new food editor of the Forward.


The Making of ‘The Chutzpah!’ Cocktail

By Naomi Major

Naomi and Jon’s mixology laboratory. Photograph by Jon Wunder

Now that I’m writing for the Forward, my boyfriend, Jon, has been peppering me with questions about Judaism and the paper. It’s lovely to have such a supportive boyfriend, but it’s more than a little embarrassing to have to pull out my dog-eared copy of Blair and Engel to get him answers.

Last week I’d written about the duo’s “The Jewish Festival Cookbook,” and the Forward had adapted a holiday recipe from the book, pears poached in concord wine.

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A Manischewitz Cocktail: Now That’s Chutzpah!

By Naomi Major

A tart, refreshing, sophisticated cocktail designed to use up the post-holiday concord wine. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

The Chutzpah!

Yields 1 cocktail

2 ounce concord wine such as Manischewitz
1 ounce orange juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce vodka
2-3 ounces dry sparkling wine such as prosecco or cava
Slice of lemon, cut into a round

Fill a shaker with ice and add all ingredients except the sparkling wine. Shake vigorously and pour into ice-filled highball glasses. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with lemon slice.


The Marvels of Mandle Bread

By Molly Yeh

Photographs by Molly Yeh

I could talk about my love of Mandel Bread until the cows come home. Not that a crispy almond cookie needs any explanation, but the reasons I love Mandel Bread so much go past its delicious flavor and satisfying texture.

My go-to recipe, which is inspired by Tori Avey’s, doesn’t require any planning ahead in the way of softening butter or acquiring obscure ingredients, and you don’t need to dirty up your electric mixer to make the dough. In that sense, it’s a very portable recipe, so if ever you find yourself in someone else’s kitchen with a hankering for a cookie, you can whip some up easy peasy.

Mandel Bread also has a super long shelf life because of its dry nature, so that paired with a strong sturdiness makes for a perfect addition to a care package for a loved one. Whenever I make a batch, it’s pretty much a given that half of it will be sent off to far away friends.

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Magic Moments at a Tel Aviv Soda Shop

By Shulie Madnick

Inside Levinsky 41 with Neta Maoz (left), who works in the shop, and owner Benny Briga (right). Photograph by Shulie Madnick.

One and a half year old Levinsky 41 is a bright, artisanal soda shop nestled in the historic Levinsky Spice Market, in the shadows of the old bus station in southern Tel Aviv.

A wide range of residents populate this bustling neighborhood and its surroundings, which was established in the 1930s by Jews from Saloniki, Greece. Hipsters, a mix of African immigrants, old timers, young starving artists and some involved in shady business at night are some of the dwellers in this revitalized area.

My friend Inbal Baum, of Delicious Israel, an American-born culinary guide in Israel, introduces us to Benny Briga, the owner of Levisnky 41. Benny, who resides in the neighborhood, is amused by my childish excitement and tourist-like, trigger-happy picture taking. I am sure he has witnessed my sort of enthusiasm before for the bubbly refreshments he concocts.

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Prejudice for Lunch in Bushwick?

By Hadas Margulies

@bushwickcoffee shop calls out “greedy” Jewish customers. Instagram.

My first day on the job as the new food intern at The Forward, and what news do I hear? The owner of one of my very own neighborhood spots, The Bushwick Coffee Shop, has posted a rant on Facebook and Instagram about the “greedy infiltrators” that are the Jews in Bushwick real estate.

Although the place offers a decent donut and cup of joe, it’s all been spoiled by a greasy side of anti-Semitism.

The owner has tried to clean up the ensuing mess with a series of photos of Jews who aren’t “greedily” buying Bushwick, but this Jewish Bushwick resident will be buying her future donuts at Dun-Well.

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


Israeli Coffee Chain Meets Ice-Cold Boycott

By Hadas Margulies

Cofizz created the wrong kind of buzz when it used this map of Israel in a promotion. Facebook

The Israeli coffee chain Cofizz may have the “best coffee” and “best price” — at least according to its slogan. But its advertising studio just brewed something far less popular.

The company recently posted a map of Israel on Facebook to celebrate the opening of its tenth location. The image, however, uses the internationally agreed upon map of Israel, without including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. That apparently left a bad taste in the mouths of some Israelis, who claim some or all of those occupied lands as part of the Jewish state.

A threatened customer boycott of the chain led Cofizz representatives to apologize, claiming an “unfortunate oversight.”

The map has since been removed and replaced with one that depicts Israel as encompassing the West Bank and Golan Heights. It also included the debatable statement: “We do not hold political views.” Hopefully, customers will see the next pot half-full.

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


Apple Adventures

By Len Zangwill

Photograph by Len Zangwill

My son decided that he wanted to pick apples so that the family could make applesauce together. He had just read “Apple Days”, by Alison Sarnoff Soffer, the PJ Library book that had taught him how to do it. My wife and I figured it would be a stretch to find any apple variety so early in the season, but since he had the idea to go pick apples it was worth a try. We had actually been waiting for a couple of years for him to grow tall enough to take him to an orchard to pick fruit.

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Eitan Bernath 'Chopped' — But Still Champ

By Deena Yellin

12-year-old Eitan Bernath, who appeared last night on “Chopped,” performing a cooking demo at a kosher market in Bergen County Monday night. Photograph by Elie Rosenfeld.

Eitan Bernath chopped mushrooms and sautéed onions with all the panache of a veteran chef as the crowd leaned forward in their seats, mouths watering.

“I love food,” Eitan smiled, his braces gleaming in the light. “I love eating food. I love talking about food. I love blogging and tweeting about food.” He turned over a slice of skirt steak that was sizzling in a pan and advised using peanut oil. “It brings out the flavor of the meat,” he said.

The 12-year-old chef was giving a cooking demonstration at Grand & Essex Market in Bergenfield, New Jersey, Monday night. The audience of over 125 people included the well-heeled housewives of Bergen County and their progeny, who oohed and ahed over every sizzle of Eitan’s fry pan. Even the Hasidim, usually hard at work behind the bakery and takeout counters of the upscale kosher supermarket, were transfixed.

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Derek Jeter Gets Carnegie Deli Sandwich

By Gabe Friedman

The Carnegie Deli in Manhattan has introduced a sandwich to honor Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. It is called the “Derek Jeter Triple Club Sandwich,” and it is priced at $27.99.

The towering sandwich contains a heap of turkey, American cheese, tomato, lettuce and bacon – making it certifiably not kosher.

Sarri Harper, daughter of the deli’s owner Marian Levine, told the New York Daily News that the sandwich has two meats because Jeter’s number was 2. The sandwich has five ingredients because Jeter won five World Series championships.

Harper also said that the Jeter sandwich will likely be offered only for a limited time, unless it sells well. Its main competition is the best-selling Woody Allen sandwich, which consists of corned beef and pastrami.

Jeter, who played his last game Monday night at Fenway Park in Boston, is considered a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.


A Cool, Sweet Break-Fast Soda

By Shulie Madnick

Photograph by Shulie Madnick

North African and Yemeni Jews, among other Sephardic Jews, break the Yom Kippur fast with a sweetened hot coffee or tea. Balkan Jews break the fast with laboriously extracted chilled almond milk and melon seed drink. Here’s a modern twist on the break-fast beverage tradition — a refreshing recipe from a charming little artisanal soda shop at the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv.

Note that the syrups should be made a few days in advance — so consider starting now…

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Jewish Tastes Put to Cruel Test

By Liza Schoenfein

Video by BuzzFeedYellow

I saw this video today, and I have to say, it kinda freaked me out. I felt quickly, viscerally defensive of Jewish food and indignant that the versions of classic Ashkenazic dishes on offer to an innocent band of non-Jewish young people looked like the least desirable ones imaginable.

A pale, flaccid-looking kugel appeared overcooked and, from the tasters’ comments, overly sweetened and cinnamon’d. Where were the nice browned edges? Where was the balance of flavors? And why were there maraschino cherries and what looked like canned peaches on top of it?

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Yom Kippur, 50's Style

By Naomi Major

The author’s vintage cookbook collection includes “The Jewish Festival Cookbook” from 1954, which provided insights into the mysterious world of Jewish holidays. Photograph by Jon Wunder.

When I say I’m Jewish, I put the emphasis on the “ish.” Yes, I had a bubbe and a zaide; we tossed around words like “oy” and “schmutz”; and we ate foods my friends had never heard of. We had tongue, matzoh brie, borscht, and the requisite Sunday-morning breakfast of bagels with cream cheese, whitefish and lox, all from the Jewish bakery and dairy. (This was long before every Episcopalian was having a bagel with a schmear after church.)

But we never acknowledged any of the holidays, and the synagogue was a place family friends had their weddings. We celebrated birthdays, and prayed at Maple Leaf Gardens for Toronto to win the Stanley Cup.

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