The Jew And The Carrot

Cooking Kosher With Amar’e Stoudemire

By Michael Kaminer

He has a Star of David tattoo and a diamond pendant that spells out “YHWH,” one of God’s unwriteable names. He’s has parents he identifies as “Hebrew.” And he’s has part-ownership of an Israeli basketball team.

Now, hoops superstar Amar’e Stoudemire also has a cookbook, written with a personal chef whose career started at a kosher catering company.

Stoudemire’s “Cooking with Amar’e,” penned with Chef Max Hardy, shares “more than 100 healthy recipes… that blend French, Southern, Asian, and Caribbean traditions and flavors, and use ingredients from the local grocery store,” according to the jacket blurb.

Though Stoudemire only eats kosher food, the book includes just one traditional Jewish recipe, for brisket, along with more conventional (and non-kosher) fare like seared scallops, roast chicken, and chili.

“Cooking with Amar’e” plays the recipes as a student-teacher schtick, with the basketball legend an eager grasshopper to the chef’s culinary sage. “Max got me so interested in healthy cooking that I asked him to show me how to cook,” Stoudemire writes in the book’s intro. “I love making my vegetarian chili, though I had never even heard of ground tofu until I met Max.”

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Amar'e Stoudemire's Roast Chicken with Honey Cilantro Glaze

By Amar'e Stoudemire

This straightforward dish doesn’t require a huge number of ingredients. Though the marinade is best when made with fresh herbs, you can sub in dried rosemary and dried thyme in a pinch. Just use a teaspoon of dried rosemary and 3⁄4 teaspoon of dried thyme. The glaze, which you can make ahead of time, really livens up a plain roasted chicken, too.

Serves 6 to 8

1⁄4 cup stemmed, chopped fresh cilantro
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 2- to 3-pound chickens, cut into quarters
1 cup white wine

For the garlic and cilantro honey glaze:
1⁄4 cup honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons stemmed, chopped cilantro

1) Make the chicken: In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, garlic, rosemary, thyme, 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and cumin. Place the chicken into a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Using two large spoons, turn over the chicken pieces several times until they are well coated with the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

2) Preheat the oven to 375°F.

3) Heat a large, ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil and sear the chicken for 3 minutes on each side. You may need to do this in several batches. Place the chicken into a large baking dish. Pour the white wine over the chicken.

4) Bake the chicken for 30 minutes or until it reaches 165°F.

5) Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the honey, garlic, orange juice, and cilantro until well combined. Brush the cooked chicken with the glaze.


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Fresh Fattoush Salad From the Summer Garden

By Molly Yeh

With warm weather here to stay, I find myself cooking less and less hearty bubbe food to make way for summer delights. While in past years, the seasonal absence of heavy dishes has been filled by popsicles and ice cream, this year I am most looking forward to tending my very first garden for the freshest of fruits and veggies. (Is this what growing up is? Craving a vegetable instead of ice cream?)

Since having some of the best produce of my life in Israel last summer, I have looked towards that part of the world for inspiration when it comes to fixing fresh vegetables. Compared to what Middle Eastern spices and flavors can do to vegetables, the American ways of jazzing up salads with ranch dressing and mayonnaise are just baffling.

One dish that I cannot wait to make once my garden is fully grown is Fattoush salad. It has roots just north of Israel, in Lebanon, and the star of the dish is stale bread (usually pita). Variations run the gamut from “Jerusalem’s” creamy buttermilk version to a gluten free take that features a chickpea pancake. Sumac, mint leaves, lemon, and chopped vegetables are usual suspects in a Fattoush, and the result is utterly refreshing with a hint of comfort, thanks to the bread.

This version uses the addition of hard boiled eggs to make for a complete meal. Lightly frying the pita crisps it up a bit while leaving it slightly chewy, and a smidge of honey in the dressing gives balance to the lemon. Feel free to add any other goodies that your garden yields and have fun ringing in summer with this delicious, colorful salad.

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The Lower East Side Is Now Kosher-Less

By Michael Kaminer

Update: June 12th: It would appear that the close of Shalom Chai was temporary. And while the owner owes thousands to the landlord, the pizza shop is in fact open. More details coming soon.

It’s over: The last kosher restaurant on the Lower East Side is gone.

As if to highlight kosher’s tragic state downtown, Shalom Chai pizzeria has shuttered in the most ignominious fashion — evicted from its Grand Street digs after a turbulent five-year run that included multiple health-code violations.

Adding insult to injury, the eatery got the boot just before Shabbat last week, according to BoweryBoogie, which broke news of the closing — complete with a photo of the eviction notice against owner Tiferet Food Corporation.

The kosher dairy restaurant occupied a storefront owned by the Seward Park Co-op, the massive housing complex which recently lost another tenant — Noah’s Ark Deli, the neighborhood’s last full-service kosher restaurant.

As the Forward reported in March, Seward Park’s board voted against a kosher tenant for the space after an impassioned online campaign urging a replacement for Noah’s Ark. Comfort Diner will occupy the space instead with its second Manhattan location.

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Famed Hollywood Eatery Closes After 27 Years

By Eric Kelsey

Mel Brooks Ate Here! If the booths at Kate Mantilini could talk, they’d have plenty of Jewish stories to tell./Image courtesy of Kate Mantilini restaurant.*

(Reuters) — The din of voices haggling over movies and pitching TV series, as familiar as the trademark meatloaf and grilled salmon, will soon disappear from Kate Mantilini, the Beverly Hills restaurant whose booths have long been a mainstay of Hollywood’s power lunch crowd.

Situated on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills, Kate Mantilini - a favorite of comedian Mel Brooks and late director Billy Wilder - will close its doors and pack up its wood-backed booths on June 14 after 27 years.

“Many, many deals were made in those booths,” said Adam Lewis, the restaurant’s chief executive who made the decision to close after a rent increase. An outpost in Woodland Hills in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley will remain open.

“There’s a semblance of privacy in there, but you can hear everything everybody is saying,” added Lewis, 59, whose older brother David is the executive chef. “I’ve listened to pitches go down; some were really good, some I can’t believe they made it this far.”

The restaurant’s popularity among the Hollywood set was down in part to its location, said Tim Gray, a senior vice president of trade publication Variety.

It sits across from film studio The Weinstein Co and two blocks from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the industry organization that hands out the Oscars.

“It really was one of the staples for industry lunches,” Gray said of the restaurant that is arranged like a postmodern diner with a large sculptural sundial, a key early work by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne’s firm, Morphosis.

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The Great Brisket Crisis of 2014

By Michael Kaminer

Arby’s Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich has launched a brisket crisis. Credit: Arby’s.

Guard your briskets!

Brisket prices are skyrocketing nationwide as voracious demand for a “limited edition” Arby’s brisket sandwich eats into supply for the prized cut of meat.

Fueled by a hugely successful online marketing campaign, the fast-food giant is consuming more than a half-million pounds of brisket every week to keep up with its 3,300 stores demand for the “Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich,” whose schtick is that it smokes for thirteen hours.

At Jewish-themed restaurants around New York, brisket already commands premium prices. At the tourist-friendly Carnegie Deli, a brisket sandwich will set you back $17.99. Mile End’s smoked-meat sandwich, made of seasoned and marinated brisket, is a relative bargain at $15. A brisket sandwich at Katz’s Deli — albeit perfectly cooked and stacked sky-high — clocks in at $17.45. Owner Jake Dell says he’s eating the cost of the brisket shortage on the back end. “I can’t change my prices every week. Prices are only going one way and it’s clearly not down,” Dell told the Forward.

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My Grandmother's Luscious Lemon Pie

By Sari Kamin

At the end of a winding road through a cul-de-sac in Columbus, Ohio, lived my maternal grandparents, Lillian and Marty. They were always there when we pulled up, smiling through the screened door.

My grandmother was always cooking. I don’t think I ever saw her without her apron on. I remember her mostly from behind; skinny legs protruding from sweat pants, stirring something delicious smelling in an enormous metal pot. They had raised my mother on gefilte fish, chicken paprikash, and boiled cow tongue; recipes passed down from the generations that came before them. Though she was born and raised in Columbus, she had a knack for cooking traditional Eastern European food so authentic you’d think you were dining in the shtetl.

thinkstock

The home she lived in with my grandfather, smelled perpetually of brisket and other stewing meats. Chopped liver was a fixture at the table; it sat in a glass bowl as casually as salt. Her meals began with chicken soup and culminated in mountains of homemade mandlebrot. I was resolute in my distaste of her plat du jours, like roasted chicken and slow cooked meats, but I held tight, pushing food around with a fork in case her famous lemon meringue pie might make an appearance. The truth was, I loved her foods but I didn’t like them. By 15, I was a hard fast vegetarian who preferred kale to kreplach. But I was so endeared by her commitment to her meals; she lived to please us and feeding us was the best way she knew how.

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Roundup: The Year of Hummus and Bagels Continues

By Devra Ferst

Bagels at Black Seed. Credit: Devra Ferst

As we predicted around Hanukkah last year, 2014 is indeed the year of the bagel and hummus. This week, the web’s filled with bagel recommendations and a savory hummus bread pudding recipe — oh, and the trade secrets to Katz’s pastrami.

Where to get your lox on: The 10 best appetizing shops in New York City. [Village Voice]

Another day, another list of the best bagels in New York City. This one comes from Alan Richman. [GQ].

Fattet hummus is a savory Middle Eastern bread pudding made with pita and chickpeas, give this recipe a try. [Food 52]

Try pairing that with this carrot salad with tahini and crisped chickpeas pistachios and parsley. [Smitten Kitchen]

Katz’s pastrami — in 8 steps. [Serious Eats]


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Diner Meets Deli in San Francisco

By Devra Ferst

New York chef Amanda Freitag (you might know her as a judge on Chopped or a contestant on Next Iron Chef) is headed to San Francisco this Sunday for a one night “Diner Meets Deli” pop-up at nouveau deli Wise Sons.

Freitag, who helms the kitchen at Empire Diner and Wise Sons co-owner Evan Bloom, met last summer and hit it off “talking about matzo balls and our shared love of diner food,” Bloom told the Forward.

The duo will be offering a mash up of their respective restaurant’s menus including dishes like “The Wedge,” made with heirloom tomatoes, crispy pastrami from the deli, shaved egg and Russian dressing and Freitag’s take on bagel, cream cheese and lox — burrata with smoked salmon topped with “everything” spice and toasted rye. They will also be serving corned beef chili cheese fries and a matzo ball marrow soup. (Check out the full menu here

Photo: Ashley Shears


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Mahatma Ghandi's Secretary Cooks Indian Hameem

By Alix Wall

Pearl Sofaer (right) works with Frances Kalfus during a Berkeley cooking class. photo/alix wall

At a recent cooking class featuring a few dishes from the family of Bombay-born Pearl Sofaer, the stories threatened to eclipse the food.

“My mother was a secretary of Gandhi,” she said, as a student browned chicken parts on the stovetop. “He gave her a sewing machine. She wanted to take it to the U.S. when we left, but my father wouldn’t let her.”

The class, held at the Berkeley home of Rabbi Yehuda Ferris and his wife, Miriam, was co-sponsored by Chabad of the East Bay and JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), where Sofaer is on the speakers’ bureau. Sofaer is the author of “Baghdad to Bombay: In the Kitchens of My Cousins.” The 2008 book is very much like the class was, full of stories with some family recipes included. Sofaer learned how to cook from her mother in the United States — because in India they always had a cook.

The author, cantorial soloist, artist, mother and grandmother lives in Greenbrae; she has been in the United States for most of her adult life. While she and her mother were born in Bombay and her father in Rangoon, Burma, all are of Iraqi descent.

“I’m a Mizrachi Jew, who came from between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers,” she said, and then broke into the song about the waters of Babylon.

“When Babylon disintegrated, that’s when they moved to Baghdad, which became a major center. It was where the Hebrew alphabet was first written down, and the sofers (Hebrew for scribes) did that writing. I feel extremely fortunate to be from this heritage because it’s so very rich.”

The food she made was less rich, using no oil at all. While Indian cuisine is heavy on oil and ghee (clarified butter), she said Baghdadi Jews do not cook that way. We made a simple salad of diced tomatoes, dressed only with lemon juice, chopped cilantro and salt and pepper.

Same with a beet salad with caramelized onions; again, it was dressed with lemon juice, a bit of cranberry juice (the addition comes from her cousin in Toronto, not from India), and salt and pepper.

Sofaer was clear that all leaves should be plucked from the cilantro stems. “Never serve your guests cilantro like this,” she said, pointing to the entire stem. “I can’t stand lazy restaurants that do that.”

Before participants plucked, Miriam Ferris put the cilantro through a vigorous wash-and-soak in water and vinegar to make sure it was free of bugs, as kosher law dictates. She then laid it out on a light-box — normally used by photographers — to check it again. It had to go through the rinse process a second time when a bug was found after the first wash.

The main dish was made for the next night’s Iraqi Shabbat dinner. It was an Indian version of hameem (also spelled hamim), a Mizrachi version of cholent, also called t’bith in Arabic.

A whole chicken is rubbed with ground turmeric and cardamom and then browned. Tomatoes that have been parboiled and mashed are added, along with rice. Later, parboiled carrots are added, along with their cooking water, additional water, salt and pepper. The dish is cooked first over a flame and then later in the oven, where it can remain overnight.

Given that Sofaer was born in 1934, there were very few houses in India that had ovens during her childhood. “We had a charcoal brazier, and made hameem the night before,” she said. “We’d cover it with big burlap bags to keep it warm and cook it like that all night, and then eat it when we came home from synagogue for lunch.”

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Jerusalem's First Food Truck Releases a Cookbook

By Renee Ghert-Zand

In July 2013, Israel’s first-ever food truck rolled its way through Jerusalem, stopping at a different neighborhood every day. At each location, a local celebrity accompanied famed chef Assaf Granit in serving up to the public a signature dish, a recipe (tweaked slightly by Granit) that represented the local celebrity’s personal connection to the Holy City. Those of us who were fortunate to experience FoodTrip first hand won’t forget it soon.

Although FoodTrip has been over for almost a year, and there are no current plans to revive it, a newly published, beautifully designed “FoodTrip: Tasting Jerusalem” cookbook enables those who experienced the unique phenomenon to relive it, and those who missed it to almost feel as if they had actually been there.

Anyone who came out to see the whimsically decorated truck and taste the fare knew immediately that it was equally as much—if not more— about the food as it was about the people and the place. Of course, the food was delicious and creatively presented, but more importantly, it served as a vehicle for local residents (and in-the-know tourists) to come together, swap stories, sing, dance and celebrate a unique city.

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Indonesian Gadu Gadu

By Dana Weiss

Dana Weiss’s nanny’s version of Gadu Gadu

*Vegetarians can leave out the chicken

Serves four

Sauce
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
I clove of garlic, crushed
2 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter (not sweet)
1 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
A few stalks of lemongrass
2 tablespoons soya
½ cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh coriander

Steamed vegetables
3 zucchinis peeled, halved (lengthways) and cut into thin strips
1 cauliflower broken up into florets
1 cabbage cut into thin strips
1 carrot halved (lengthways) and cut into thin strips

Chicken 3 chicken breasts cut into cubes of approximately 3x3cm
2 tablespoons cornflour

1) To prepare the sauce, place all the ingredients in a pan, except for the coriander, and cook uncovered over a low light for about 30 minutes. Add the fresh coriander and put to one side.

2) In a bamboo steamer, or a pot with straining holes, steam all the vegetables quickly—about 3 minutes, season and place in ice water to stop the cooking process and ensure that the vegetable remain crisp.

3) Heat a wide pan with a little oil and place the cornflour in a flat bowl. When the oil is hot roll the chicken cubes in the cornflour until they are fully covered. Gently shake off any excess flour and fry until browned. Place the cubes on a plate lined with absorbent paper towel.

4) To serve, divide up the vegetables and the chicken onto plates and pour the sauce over them. We recommend serving it with either rice or noodles.

About Dana Weiss: Dana Weiss is the presenter of the weekend news on Channel Two Israel. Previously she was the host of “Meet the Press” on the same channel. She is also a documentary producer, investigative journalist and a lawyer and a guest lecturer at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Recipe and photo: Courtesy of Jerusalem Season of Culture. Photographer: Yael Ilan


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Chicken Freekeh by Chef Kamal Hashelmon

By Kamal Hashelmon

Serves 4

Spice mixture
1 flat teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 tablespoon of dried marjoram
½ teaspoon cumin

4 clean boneless chicken thighs

Freekeh
2 carrots peeled and cut into small cubes
2 onions cut into small cubes
2 finely-chopped garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups freekeh (smoked green wheat) or wheat
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons raisins
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup water
Cooking oil

For serving
2 handfuls of freshly chopped parsley
2 handfuls of roasted and chopped pine nuts

Prepare the spice mix

1) To make the freekeh, heat a pan with a little oil. When the oil is hot add the onion cubes and carrot and fry until the onion is translucent—about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.

2) Add the freekeh and mix well making sure that all of the grain is covered with oil. Add the raisins and about 2/3 of the spice mixture and mix again.

3) Pour in the water and ¾ of the stock. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and cook on a low light for about 30 minutes. Stir intermittently and if needed, adjust the seasoning.

4) To make the chicken, place the chicken in a bowl and rub the seasoning, salt, pepper and the remaining spice mix, into the chicken.

5) Heat a heavy pot on a high light. Pour in a little olive oil and fry the chicken, a few minutes on each side. Add the remaining chicken stock and cook until the liquid is reduced and absorbed into the chicken.

6) Pour the freekeh onto plates, place the chicken on top and garnish with chopped parsley and roasted pine nuts.

About Chef Kamal Hashelmon: Formerly the Head Chef for the St. George Landmark Hotel’s Turquoise Restaurant in East Jerusalem, Hashelmon is a Palestinian chef who specializes in Lebanese cuisine with a twist. His culinary training spanned the Middle East where he studied and worked in a number of different countries including, Beirut, Amman and Cairo, and a four-year term in one of Israel’s top restaurants, “Mul-Yam.”

Recipe and photo: Courtesy of Jerusalem Season of Culture. Photographer: Yael Ilan


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Always a Good Time for Cheese

By Len Zangwill

Len Zangwill

I am of the firm opinion that it is always a good time for cheese. I recently learned that the Shavuot holiday has a strong dairy component. I had never known this before, but I was very happy to discover this a day or two after I had completed a highly successful experiment in cheese making. I’ve defined the experiment’s success as the fact that I am still enjoying the cheese.

I attended a cheese making class a couple of weeks ago. I was very surprised to find out how easy it can be–at least for some (soft) cheeses. I decided to attempt to replicate the success of the class in a different environment–my own kitchen. Luckily, I had help from a knowledgeable wife and eager son–age 4. My son was probably as eager to try the cheese making experiment as I was. I had to explain to him that this was an experiment, and it may or may not work. If it worked, we had delicious cheese. If it did not work, we had a bunch of ruined milk.

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Reflecting on the Jewish Environmental Movement

By Sophie Golomb

Smash! Squeeze! Study! These were three tasks to choose from: the smashers would be taking hammers or use their fists to crush the apples, the squeezers would be sweeping the apple chunks into the wooden juicer to press, and the studiers would be reading and discussing Jewish texts related to apples, eating and the sabbatical year, Shmita. Everyone got a chance to perform each of the tasks and at the end of the activity, we sipped the delicious, fresh, homemade apple juice.

I participated in this apple juice making program in October at the Green Hevra council meeting. At the time, I had no idea what to expect from the retreat. I knew that I was attending the meeting with leaders of different Jewish environmental organizations throughout North America and I knew we would be collaborating, sharing ideas, and presenting unique but complementary perspectives on Judaism and environmental stewardship.

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Toronto's Fat Pasha Serves Up Jewish Food — With Attitude

By Michael Kaminer

It was the Tweet that sparked a virtual feeding frenzy: “For good Jew food, call 647-340-6142.”

That’s the phone number for Fat Pasha, the new 50-seat restaurant from bad-boy Toronto restaurateur Anthony Rose. And with its down-and-dirty takes on old-school Semitic staples — and a healthy dose of humor — it’s become the city’s hottest table since opening last month.

“Some people love us, some people hate us,” say Rose, whose other perpetually packed Toronto eateries include nouveau-diner Rose & Sons and BBQ joint Big Crow. “The ones who didn’t get ‘good Jew food’ said we were self-hating. They can’t take a joke. All of our restaurants have a little piece of Jew going on, whether it’s the schmaltz matzo ball soup at Rose or the versht at Big Crow.”

Clearly, Rose — who sports a “Polite as F*ck” t-shirt in a recent promo pic — doesn’t take himself too seriously. But his casual attitude belies a laser focus when it comes to food.

On Fat Pasha’s gleefully irreverent menu (“Show some love to the chefs, buy the kitchen a round, $16”, it goads): Updated classics like flanken ($24), gribenes ($12), latkes with pastrami salmon ($22), and schmaltz-fried rice ($14); Middle Eastern favorites like fattoush ($16), labneh ($5), couscous ($14), and spicy carrot salad (part of a huge $22 platter); and a few crowd-pleasers, like whole grilled fish (market price) and Cornish hen ($25). And when was the last time you saw halvah at a sit-down restaurant?

“We love Israeli and Middle Eastern food, but it’s foreign. Throw in the Ashkenazi stuff and it makes sense to me — it’s familiar,” Rose says. “We saw what Ottolenghi and Zahav were doing, and we thought ‘Let’s do that, and just dumb it down.’”

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Rosemary Ricotta Blintzes with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

By Molly Yeh

My love for most traditional carb-loaded Jewish foods began at first bite. Challah, matzo balls, kugel, they’ve all always topped my list for ultimate comfort and I don’t discriminate if they’re store-bought or freshly made from scratch. This has sadly not been the case with cheese blintzes. Until I started making them at home, I really didn’t even understand what all the hype was about.

Growing up, I had only ever had these little guys at brunch buffets, where chances are they were frozen at some point and possibly spent too much time in a warming tray. These are not the right ways to treat a dish that should have a golden brown crispy exterior, inner folds of soft fluffy pancake, and a sweet melty cheese filling. But I’ve learned, there are few things better than a fresh blintz straight out of the pan that hasn’t had the chance to even think about getting soggy.

These unleavened crepe-like pancakes have roots in Eastern Europe. Their relatives include blini, Russian leavened pancakes, and blinchiki, Russian unleavened pancakes which, in similar fashion to blintzes, are often filled with meat, potatoes or cheese. The cheese variety is particularly popular around this time of year because of the dairy meals that we eat in celebration of Shavuot.

The following recipe is for a blintz that’s elevated to a new level by way of rosemary and rhubarb. Rhubarb is at the height of its season right now and has a fresh tartness that blends perfectly with sweet strawberries. The rosemary is subtly infused into the milk which is used in the crepe batter, and its fragrant qualities go beautifully with the fruity sauce. The filling is made of airy ricotta and a bit of tangy creamy cheese, and it’s sweetened with honey.

Now not to take away from the family time or meaning behind the holiday that we’re celebrating, but these elegant blintzes might end up being the life of the party.

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Kosher Meets Sichuan at Boston's Black Trumpet

By Michael Kaminer

Boston’s becoming the hotbed of adventurous Jewish cuisine served in pop-up quarters.

Last month, the Forward reported on Kitchen Kibitz, a roving supper club that mashes up Mexican and Asian foods with traditional Jewish staples — think latkes with mole poblano or challah with nori.

Now, a pair of “social entrepreneurs” is launching a monthly pop-up dinner series whose first edition — debuting this Thursday — will feature kosher renditions of lovingly prepared homemade Sichuan delicacies.

Black Trumpet is the brainchild of Gabriel Fine and Mia Scharpie, a Boston couple with a mutual appreciation of both food and what Scharpie called “the rituals of dining.”

Its first edition — at “a high-ceilinged location in Cambridge” — will spotlight a cuisine with an informal but long-standing connection to Jewish palates: Sichuan, the intensely spiced and seasoned food of the southwest Chinese province.

All of Black Trumpet’s food will be kosher, and the pair is preparing every bit by hand, from homemade chili oil in a cucumber salad to a luscious, chicken-fat-based cashew butter served with freshly steamed bao, or stuffed Chinese buns.

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Why Are We Obsessed With Cupcakes? David Sax Knows

By Michael Kaminer

It was the humble cupcake that set David Sax on a years-long quest to explore how food trends emerge, evolve, and explode — often at warp speed. “The cupcake was the food trend that kicked off the 21st century,” he told the Forward. “It was the first food trend to grow up on the internet, go viral, and go global.” The result of Sax’s delicious investigations hits bookstores today: “The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue” is the journalist’s first book since his 2010’ James Beard Award-winning “Save the Deli”.

Deeply reported and cogently argued, The Tastemakers also ends up touching on culture, psychology, business, and science — all through the shape-shifting lens of food trends. The Forward caught up with Sax from his Toronto home office to chat about deli, upcoming food trends and cupcakes (of course).

In a world where one Tweet from the middle of nowhere can influence millions of people, how does the notion of “tastemakers” still apply as you present it in the book?

A tastemaker is anyone who can influence the way you eat. Twitter might be true on a day-to-day level, but the most powerful, sustained influence and impact comes from within the food industry. Chefs are the most visible. There are also people at flavor houses or large corporations, or buyers for stores like Whole Foods, who really set trends for what we’ll be eating and where our tastes are going. But it doesn’t have to be a big company. It can be an entrepreneur with a food truck who creates something new and takes a chance. Or someone down the line who says, “Let’s make gefilte fish into a Dorito” or whatever.

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15,000 Pounds of Hummus Recalled Over Listeria

By Devra Ferst

Target

Put down the hummus! Hot Mama’s Foods which makes hummus for Target, Trader Joe’s, and Giant Eagle has recalled 14,860 pounds of hummus that may be contaminated with listeria.

The company, which makes hummus under the popular brand name Archer Farms has released a full list of which “flavors” to avoid including Trader Joe’s Edamame Hummus and Target’s Archer Farms Traditional Hummus.

So far, no illnesses have been reported, but the company is urging shoppers to return their hummus for a full refund.


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