The Jew And The Carrot

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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Compote of Pears in Wine Sauce

By Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair

A recipe from 1954 holds up pretty well with a few small variations. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

Serves 6

6 medium-size green winter pears
Water to cover
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A few slivers of ginger root or crystalized ginger
½ cup sugar
1 cup Concord wine (or to cover)

Wash and pare (peel) the fruit and add just enough water to cover. Cook until tender but not too soft, about 30 minutes. Pour out about 3/4 of the water. Add remaining ingredients (adding more wine so liquid just covers pears) and simmer for about 10 minutes. Chill and serve in the sauce. If pears are large, cut in halve sand core before cooking.

Adapted from “The Jewish Festival Cookbook” by Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair (David McKay Company Inc. 1954)

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Home Delivery for the Holidays

By Michael Kaminer

Mile End’s Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich Kit. Photograph courtesy of FoodyDirect.

Back in March, the Forward reported that Houston deli extraordinaire Kenny & Ziggy’s had started shipping a Seder in a Box as part of its haimish offerings on specialty-food site FoodyDirect.

Now, FoodyDirect’s Jewish quotient is getting upped again. Brooklyn’s own Mile End Deli has launched a meaty presence on the site, shipping kits and platters themed around its massively popular Montreal-inspired menu. The perfect no-hassle way to break the fast, perhaps?

For $99 — plus shipping of $10-$30, depending on your location — you can fress on a Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich kit that includes two pounds of Mile End’s luscious dry-cured and house-smoked smoked meat, a half loaf of sliced rye, eight ounces of deli mustard and a quart of McClure’s whole garlic-dill pickles.

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The Making of a Plum-Perfect Honey Cake

By Liza Schoenfein

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

I’ve had honey cake on the brain lately. I know: Haven’t we all?

But I can say with confidence that I’ve been more immersed in honey-cake contemplation than the average Jewish woman approaching the High Holy Days.

Not only did I just interview Rose Levy Beranbaum about her glorious version of this Rosh Hashanah classic — the recipe is here — but I was also recently tasked with developing a gluten-free honey cake. And I went through several failed attempts before coming up with one I could be proud of, a cake that was moist and not too sweet, which involved a combination of regular gluten-free flour and lovely, flavorful almond meal.

So there’s been a lot of honey cake happening in my kitchen these days.

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Recipe: Plum-Perfect Honey Cake

By Liza Schoenfein

This gluten-free take on a Rosh Hashanah classic incorporates Italian plums for a seasonal twist. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

Cooking spray
4 Italian plums, halved lengthwise and pits removed
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar, divided
1½ cups almond flour/meal, such as Bob’s Red Mill
½ cup gluten-free all purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup coconut oil or olive oil
3/4 cup honey
¼ cup coffee

1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a nonstick bundt pan with cooking spray, and lay plums skin-side down evenly around the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

2) Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, honey, and coffee. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring to combine. Pour into bundt pan and cook on middle rack of the oven for about one hour, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes. Slide a thin sharp knife between the cake and the pan before turning cake out onto a cake plate.

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


A Honey Cocktail for Rosh Hashanah

By Adeena Sussman

New Year’s Balm (left) and Spiced Honey-Rosemary Roasted Nuts. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.

Growing up, there were exactly four bottles in the Sussman family liquor cabinet — if you could call an out-of-the-way cubby above the microwave, reachable only by footstool, a “liquor cabinet.”

The Kahlua was used for brownies or chocolate cake when we ran out of vanilla extract. Chocolate-and-orange-flavored Sabra, an Israeli invention, served no purpose other than to allow us to use our last liras at Ben Gurion airport, simultaneously reaffirming our Zionism. (I’m not convinced anyone has ever actually tasted Sabra.) Throat-clearing, high-alcohol Slivovitz was an occasional tipple my dad would share with his father-in-law, and also served as the inspiration for my one misguided preteen attempt at a flambé dessert.

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New Year's Balm

By Adeena Sussman

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

In this simple cocktail, sweet notes of apple and honey are tempered with tart lemon juice and a hint of rosemary — rumored to be one of Drambuie’s secret ingredients.

Yields one cocktail

2½ ounces Drambuie
1 ounce apple cider
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce lemon juice
1 drop Angostura bitters
1 sprig of rosemary
Seltzer water
Apple slices dipped in honey for garnish

1) Combine first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.

2) Top with a splash of seltzer and garnish with a thin slice of honey-dipped apple.

Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Epicurious and Gourmet. Her most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Schrager, is “Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Recipes and Sides” (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

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Spiced Honey-Rosemary Roasted Nuts

By Adeena Sussman

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

These are the perfect accompaniment to a honey-laced New Year’s cocktail.

3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups mixed raw nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk honey with sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add mixed nuts, toss to coat and spread evenly on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Roast until fragrant and golden, 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely and loosen nuts into a serving bowl. Spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Epicurious and Gourmet. Her most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Schrager, is “Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Recipes and Sides” (Clarkson Potter, 2014).

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Nu, Where's the Chocolate?

By Rabbi Debbie Prinz

On Rosh Hashanah, we manifest the greeting, Shanah Tovah u’Metukah, “may it be a good and sweet year” through our apples dipped into honey, or the raisins added to our customary round challah, or our honey cake and taiglach (small donuts) we drown in honey. Nu, where’s the chocolate? Chocoholics have to wonder.

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This Beekeeper Means Business

By Alix Wall

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

Ishai Zeldner was a 20-something college graduate doing an ulpan on Kibbutz Beit HaShita in northern Israel when he was assigned to work with Yusuf Gidron, the kibbutz beekeeper.

“I had no clue about bees,” Zeldner said. “One night I was working with Yosef, moving the bees, and I got stung on the top of my head and I didn’t collapse or run away. He was looking for a strapping young guy to help him, and that’s all it took. It was total serendipity; the rest is history.”

What Zeldner means by “the rest” is the 9,000-square-foot operation he heads today, the Woodland, California-based Z Specialty Foods, which sells many gourmet products, the largest category by far being his impressive array of honeys. Now 67, Zeldner traces his love of honey and bees back to that fateful night in Israel over 40 years ago.

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Healthier Kugel Recipes for the Holidays

By Maurie Backman

There’s nothing like a series of back-to-back Jewish holidays to help you pack on the pounds without even trying. Between my mother’s Rosh Hashanah brisket, my bubbie’s stuffed cabbage for Sukkot, and our elaborate post-Yom Kippur feast that features enough delectable breads, spreads, and pastries to more than make up for 24 hours without eating, it’s a wonder any of our clothing fits by the time October rolls around each year.

Given the deliciousness of the various items that typically grace our holiday table, the assault on my waistline is more than worth it. That said, we’ve made an effort over the past few years to mitigate the damage by swapping some of our old school, traditional kugel recipes for ones that are just as tasty but far more healthy.

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Challah Back, Girl!

By Liza Schoenfein

William Greenberg Desserts’ Challah, Round for Rosh Hashanah. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

An email landed in my inbox this week from William Greenberg Desserts, a tiny kosher bakery on Madison Avenue — and with it came a flood of memories. My grandparents lived practically around the corner from Greenberg’s (we lived nearby too), and my grandmother would sometimes take me there on Friday afternoons after school to pick up one of the lovely braided challahs flecked with raisins, so eggy and sweet they were more like cake than bread.

We’d walk into the cool white space and I’d be hit with the scent of sweet butter, of cookies and babkas and all manner of delicious treats. As Nana ordered, an aproned woman behind the counter would catch my eye, pull out a bin of cookies, and hand me one with a sly smile. It happened every time. My favorite was a thin, crisp butter cookie topped with slivered almonds, which both my grandmother and my mom would pick up for special occasions. I loved the white cardboard box they arranged the cookies in, and the red bakery string, descending from above, that they tied around it.

William Greenberg’s challah is my quintessential holiday bread, the one I measure all others by.
Owner Carol Becker
(It’s the same way that New Yorker’s seem to measure every slice of pizza by whichever one they grew up eating.) So it’s strange that I hadn’t been in since my childhood—until today.

Inspired by that email and the upcoming holidays, I tromped across the park this morning and paid a long-overdue visit to William Greenberg’s. The shop smelled exactly as it always had, and it has a similar feel, but it’s been renovated by owner Carol Becker, who bought the place seven years ago. It’s cheerful and bustling, and on this beautiful Friday it was packed with customers.

As I chatted with Carol, sharing my childhood recollections and asking about the store, she pulled on a pair of thin rubber gloves, reached into a huge plastic container of almond cookies, put a few into a little white paper bag and handed it to me. It was a gift straight out of the past, happily unchanged.

Not to get all madeleine about it, because that’s so cliché, but I am always struck, particularly at the holidays, by the way foods can trigger memories and connect us to family who are no longer here.

William Greenberg Desserts delivers by messenger throughout Manhattan and by mail anywhere in the U.S.

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


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