The Jew And The Carrot

Mixing Bowl: Weekend Desserts, Harrods Goes Kosher

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

New Israeli food is taking over New York. [New York Magazine]

Planning a swanky wedding in London? Harrods is now catering kosher simchas! [Jewish Chronicle]

Three words: Smores Ice Cream. [Food52]

Incase that doesn’t suit you, here are 20 other desserts, perfect for Memorial Day celebrations. [Serious Eats]

Smithsonian Magazine just released it’s annual food issue. Check out pieces by Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl and Mimi Sheraton. [Smithsonian Magazine]

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John Kerry Stops To Smell the Shwarma

By Reuters

Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry stepped off the diplomatic track on Thursday and onto a West Bank street where he sampled a shawarma sandwich and a pistachio-sprinkled Palestinian sweet.

In a rare gesture for a U.S. secretary of state - but a staple of U.S. political campaigns - Kerry dropped by the Samer Restaurant in the Palestinian city of Ramallah to enjoy typical Middle Eastern fare.

“Man that is good,” Kerry said after biting into his shawarma, a sandwich filled with slivers of meat roasted on a rotating spit, typically wrapped in pita bread and garnished with tomatoes, tahini sauce, hummus and pickled turnips.

The top U.S. diplomat, who is in Israel and the Palestinian territories to try to revive peace talks that collapsed in 2010, then walked across the street to a sweet shop owned by the same man. There he dug into Kunafeh, a cheese pastry soaked in sweet syrup, and sipped coffee.

While U.S. secretaries of state have travelled to the West Bank dozens of times, they seldom step out of their official meetings to sample the local culture. One of Kerry’s aims is to perk up the Palestinian economy, something he may have done in a very small measure by insisting on paying for his food.


The Truth Behind Tnuva

By Jeffrey Cohan

wikimedia

Tnuva, the giant Israeli food company, made headlines this week with an admission that was stunningly candid, if not exactly a revelation.

In documents filed in Jerusalem District Court, Tnuva admitted that the slaughter of farm animals, if exposed to public view, “would horrify most meat-eating consumers.”

It’s one thing for Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, to famously say, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” McCartney, after all, has become a leading advocate for the compassionate treatment of animals.

But for a supermarket chain, for a business that sells meat, to say something of a similar vein … Well, that’s big news.

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GMOs and Jewish Law: Chemical Herbicides and Pesticides

By Rabbi Justin Goldstein

Courtesy of amsvans.com

As our knowledge of our world broadens and through science we come to new understandings of our surroundings, new complications and questions arise in how we observe kosher dietary laws. While we so often focus on the ethical issues of meat, we lose sight on the ethical ramifications of how we pursue a different matter of the laws and customs of kashrut – bugs.

According to the Torah most insects are forbidden, even the teeny tiny ones that hide hang out in the hard to reach places of broccoli or brussel sprouts. There are many customs and practices of the most efficient ways to clean vegetables for insects, but as we’ve discovered ways to see things which the naked eye cannot see the customs of some are changing drastically. For example, there was the somewhat famous affair of discovering microscopic crustaceans in New York City’s public water supply. One can find videos of microscopic bugs on strawberries, and there are those who say to wash romaine lettuce in dish soap because of little sticky bugs. And one can also find bags of greens and veggies with kosher symbols.

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Confessions of an Ignorant Eater

By Gal Beckerman

Courtesy of Gal Beckerman

I had gotten lazy. I’ll admit it. Since getting married almost five years ago, I had not really set foot in a kitchen (to cook, that is — I wash plenty of dishes). Not that I was any great chef before. But I was a bachelor, living alone, and I had my meager repertoire, including something called “Eggplant Surprise” — don’t ask what the surprise was. Even that was abandoned in the fairly commonplace division of labor that happens when two people make a home. She cooked. I cleaned.

But recently I’d started feeling strange about how disconnected I’d become from what I was putting in my mouth everyday. When you don’t cook, it’s easy to disregard what makes up the food you eat. When it’s something that’s made for you, it’s easy to stop thinking about how it’s made or — more importantly — what it’s made of. I can’t say I was eating unhealthily, but I just wasn’t very conscious beyond knowing, generally, what was good for me and what wasn’t.

Enter Mark Bittman and his new book, “VB6: Eating Vegan Before 6:00 To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good.” (And this is when I’m going to try my damnedest not to turn this post into an infomercial.) I don’t know what precipitated it — maybe one too many days of a pastry in the morning or a turkey sandwich that just made me feel sluggish — but about a month ago I started feeling the need for some kind of alteration in my eating habits. And then I discovered Bittman’s new diet book, which has a fairly simple and easy-to-follow main premise: Eat like a vegan before 6 pm.

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Top Dog: Who Makes the Best Kosher Hot Dog in America?

By Eli Cohn-Wein

Eli Cohn-Wein

Memorial Day is almost upon us, and it’s time to dust off that grill in the garage, fire it up and lay some franks down on it. The question is, are you really honoring the freedom your American forefathers fought for if you just get the same pack of Hebrew National every time you want some kosher dogs? What kind of freedom is that?

Thankfully, we live in a world with options, and we, here at the Forward, have tried out eight different varieties of kosher frankfurters to find out which will have the guests at your next BBQ plotzing. (Oh, and don’t forget mustard to top your dog.)

Scroll down to see which dog was crowned king.

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The Best Mustard for Your Kosher Franks

By Molly Yeh and Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

Now that you know which kosher frankfurter you’re grilling up this weekend, you’re going to need some mustard! Sorry, but a dog without mustard is just naked if you ask us. So, we checked in with the queen of mustard collectors (and Jew and the Carrot contributor) Molly Yeh. At recent count, Yeh had about 80 varieties of mustard in her Brooklyn apartment. “Staring at mustard sections in grocery stores is wonderfully relaxing,” she told us with all seriousness recently. Check out her recommendations below for the perfect mustard to top your dog. Happy barbequing!

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Save My Nutella Ice Cream — Please!

By Jocelyn Bogdan

abdullahi bogdan
I Need You: Kids like Z enjoy Nutella-laced ice cream.

Many years ago, while I was working as a counselor at Beth Tfiloh day camp in the Baltimore suburbs, my favorite camper took a trip to Israel. She came back with the best present a 15-year-old counselor could ever ask for: a jar of chocolate spread.

At the time, I’d never encountered such a thing. And it changed my life. Suddenly chocolate peanut butter sandwiches were the stuff dreams were made of.

Fast forward nearly two decades. We live in a world where chocolate and other nutty spreads are prevalent. Just yesterday the maker of Nutella made news by cancelling World Nutella Day!

At the same time, a minor travesty was unfolding in our neighborhood in brownstone Brooklyn. Ample Hills, Prospect Height’s newest and arguably most popular ice cream shop, announced that it is cutting down from 24 ice cream flavors to 16.

In doing so, they may get rid of Nanatella, a delicious organic banana ice cream rippled with — you guessed it — creamy Nutella.

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Mark Bittman's Meatballs, The New Way

By Mark Bittman

Gal Beckerman

Reprinted with permission from “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good” by Mark Bittman.

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 hour

Combining grains with vegetables and meat makes for a better meatball, moister and more complex in texture and flavor. The combination here is bulgur and spinach, but any soaked or cooked grains (brown rice or steel-cut oats are also nice) work well, as do mashed beans (use about 1½ cups).

There are just as many ways to eat these meatballs as there are to cook them: Put a few on a tossed green salad, stuff into a pita with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, or add them to the tomato sauce on page 239 and simmer for a few minutes, then serve with pasta or on toast.

¼ cup medium-grind bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 pound ground beef, or lamb
1 cup chopped cooked spinach (thawed frozen is fine), squeezed as dry as possible
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

1) Combine the bulgur and boiling water in a small bowl; cover and soak until fully tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a strainer, then press out as much of the water as possible. Combine the bulgur, beef, spinach, garlic, and salt and sprinkle with pepper. Shape into 16 meatballs, handling them no more than is necessary.

2) Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add some of the meatballs; work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat as necessary, until they’re firm and browned all over, 5 to 10 minutes. As they finish, transfer them to paper towels to drain and repeat with the remaining meatballs as necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutritional Info (4 meatballs, made with 80% lean ground beef): Calories: 439 • Cholesterol: 81mg • Fat: 34g • Saturated Fat: 10g • Protein: 23g • Carbohydrates: 10g • Sodium: 609mg • Fiber: 3g • Trans Fat: 1g • Sugars: 0g


Mark Bittman's Chickpea Ratatouille

By Mark Bittman

Thinkstock

Reprinted with permission from “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good” by Mark Bittman.

Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 1 1⁄2 hours, largely unattended

Classic ratatouille—a mixture of summery vegetables stewed with olive oil and herbs—is stellar and satisfying on its own. Add chickpeas (or cannellini, or lima beans) and you have a super-hearty main dish. Eggplant, zucchini, and peppers are the usual vegetables, but consider alternatives like roughly chopped hearty greens—escarole or kale, for example. Just be sure to keep the tomatoes for moisture.

1 pound eggplant (smaller ones are better), peeled if you like, and cut into large chunks
¾ pound zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 pound Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and chopped, or
1 28-ounce can, drained
1 onion, sliced
2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced
5 garlic cloves, halved
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or ½ cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

1) Heat the oven to 425°F. Combine all the ingredients except the oil, chickpeas, and herbs in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil and toss to combine.

2) Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender and some water has released from the tomatoes to create a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.

3) Add the chickpeas, stir, and return to the oven until the beans heat through, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the herbs and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Nutritional Info: Calories: 435 • Cholesterol: 0mg • Fat: 19g • Saturated Fat: 3g • Protein: 15g • Carbohydrates: 56g • Sodium: 803mg • Fiber: 18g • Trans Fat: 0g • Sugars: 17g


Wise Sons' Deli Brings Pastrami to SF Jewish Museum

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Evan Bloom
Wise Sons: Evan Bloom (left) and Leo Beckerman serve up nouveau deli sandwiches at their shop in San Francisco and soon at the city’s Jewish museum.

For those who may have been wondering whether new tastes would arrive at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco with its new director, there is now an answer. While Lori Starr will not officially become the museum’s new executive director until June 10, word is already out that Wise Sons will be moving into the downtown museum’s vacant restaurant not long afterwards.

Wise Sons’ Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, who are among the leaders of the Jewish deli revival of recent years, told j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, that they were very excited to open a second location at CJM. “It’s the next logical step for us,” Bloom said about the projected mid-to-late June opening.

To accommodate the additional food production involved in expanding beyond their restaurant at the corner of 24th and Shotwell Streets in the Mission District, Bloom and Beckerman have leased a new space that will allow for the increased production of baked goods and cured meats.

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Backyard Chickens and Window Box Gardens

By Hannah Kirshner

Courtesy of Modern Farmer

The brand new magazine Modern Farmer is no more for farmers than Sports Illustrated is for professional athletes, or Everyday Food is for chefs. It’s for the growing numbers of farm enthusiasts. Lured by a handsome portrait of a rooster on the front cover, I picked up a copy when it came out last month to see what it’s all about.

As someone who grew up on a small farm (and now lives in a big city) I enjoy the satisfaction of being able to identify different breeds of ducks, recognize a blueberry bush well before it offers anything to harvest, or decide when an ear of corn is ready to pick. These basic pleasures shouldn’t be reserved for country folk, and Modern Farmer is here to clue in urban and suburban readers.

The premier issue spans an impressive breadth of topics, from mango grafting in Malawi to a “rurbanist” shepherds’ cottage in Tasmania. Its cheeky tone entertains without falling into snarky territory, and manages to sidestep waxing too devoutly about the virtues of agrarian life. What the articles may lack in depth, the magazine makes up for by showcasing the rich variety of contemporary agricultural practices — and practitioners. It has much to offer anyone who wants to know more about where their food comes from, or to begin getting their hands in the dirt — excuse me, soil — if only a window box.

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Mixing Bowl: Kosher Slaughter in Poland, Gaza's KFC Craving

By Susan Armitage

AFP/Getty Images
New York diners are mourning the layoff of longtime restaurant critic Robert Sietsema from the Village Voice. [Eater]

Gaza residents craving KFC can order delivery, but with the meals smuggled by underground tunnel, it’s not exactly fast food. [The New York Times]

Lawmakers in Poland may lift a recent ban on kosher slaughter. [Times of Israel]

A Cambridge microbrewery is honoring Sean Collier, the MIT police officer allegedly killed by the Boston bombing suspects, with a new beer. [The Boston Globe]

A new deli in Atlanta, The General Muir, is bringing New York tastes to the South. [Business Insider]

Recipes for apricot-almond coffee cake, strawberry focaccia and spanakopita pie show that your oven loves spring produce, too. [Huffington Post]


Gefiltefest: Where All the British Jewish Food Lovers Go

By Devra Ferst

Charles Taylor
Guests at Gefiltefest can guess how much this white chocolate challah made by David Mendes weighs. The closest guess wins!

Four years ago, Michael Leventhal, a young publisher of history books living in London won a Jewish newspaper contest. His prize? A one-on-one cooking lesson with a chef. But his Sephardic wife, who is a wiz in the kitchen, feared that the lesson might be wasted on just the two of them. Leventhal decided to trade in his reward for a cooking demo for 10 friends. Pretty soon after, friends and acquaintances started to suggest other Jewish food topics they were interested in and some volunteered up their time to serve as speakers. “In less than 6 weeks had created a one day food festival. Within two weeks we sold 200 tickets and that was the first Gefiltefest,” Leventhal told me recently.

Next weekend Leventhal will welcome some 750 guests to this year’s festival in London, which is the only one of its kind in the UK and possibly the largest Jewish food festival outside of Israel. A mix of cooking demos, panels, fressing and Jewish study sessions, Gefiltefest is a non-denominational event dedicated to all things Jewish and food — a Limmud for food, if you will.

This year’s lineup includes a cooking demo with a Tunisian Jewish cook, a study session that will look at whether the locusts swarming Israel this spring are kosher (taste testing included) and curious sessions like “Israel, the Promised Land of Soft Drinks?” and a class on how to use edible ingredients to create portraits of famous Jewish characters from history. Favorites from years past like challah making and pickling workshops will also be on offer.

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Chatting Cheese with the Kosher Cheese Guy

By Michael Kaminer

Courtesy of Brent Delman

Cheese is the food of choice during Shavuot making it one of our favorite holidays. But, for those who keep strictly kosher, the cheese pickings have always been slim — mostly mild cheddars, mediocre mozzarellas and sometimes something that resembles parmesan. But, Brent Delman, aka The Cheese Guy is trying to change that.

A food importer and founder Old World Marketplace, Delman longed for quality cheese after finding religion later in life. His solution? Make his own. He is now one of only a handful of artisan kosher cheese producers in the country.

We caught up with him in Yonkers to chat cheese.

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The Last Jewish Waiter at Katz's Deli

By Maia Efrem

Wikicommons

Seth Meyers may have just been named as the next host of “Late Night” on NBC but we have our eyes on someone a little different. Meet David Manheim, foul-mouthed waiter at iconic Katz’s Deli by day, aspiring TV host by night. Not waiting for kismet to work its magic, Manheim, chronicles his life at the soon-to-be 125 year old deli on his blog “The Last Jewish Waiter.” Only blogging since April 20th, Manheim’s voice is a breath of fresh air in its unapologetic hatred of his job, his mistreatment (or some might say, New York treatment) of his customers and his comedic take on Jews and gentiles alike.

With an analysis of every type of customer, Manheim’s most interesting takes are those on the different types of Jews he serves. There are the easygoing, rich Jews who relocated to the South now making a pilgrimage back to the New York deli of their roots who delight in his mistreatment of them. And the Jews visiting from out of town impressing their family with their knowledge of all thing Katz. “I have to say, these guys crack me up,” writes Manheim, “they have determined that a square knish from Katz’s will finally open the dormant Jewish gene in their half-Jew daughter. I feel like they think one bite and the girl will be reciting a Haftarah portion.”

No doubt Manheim, who says he is 38, is among scores of Jewish waiters who hate their customers and have more than a few colorful words for them, the only difference is that he’s the only one with enough chutzpah to say it to your face. The controlled DMV-like chaos at Katz is unacceptable at a restaurant, writes Manheim, but he revels in it, “I love it! I throw silverware at the customers, refuse to serve certain items, and am generally nasty. With a certain understood kindness at the bottom.” Charm us, he does.

Check out his first video below:

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Shorty's Deli Comes Up Short in San Francisco

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Renee Ghert-Zand

I recently ate lunch with some family members at Shorty Goldstein’s and was overwhelmed…by the vinegar. I’m afraid that if chef and owner Michael Siegel doesn’t change some things at his new deli in San Francisco’s financial district, he’s going to be in a real pickle.

When I spoke to Siegel in December of last year, as he was working on opening his restaurant (really, more of a lunch counter), he told me that he would serve lots of Jewish deli classics, but that he would add his own, contemporary California-style twists to them. “It will be a mix between tradition and my style, which is a little nouveau,” he said.

The problem I found is that these changes Siegel has made are detracting from the authentic deli food that he is doing right. The biggest issue is his pickles. All you get when you eat them is an overpowering bite of vinegar. The vegetables’ natural flavors are lost, and there are no discernable spices.

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Shavuot: A Commitment to Change

By Elizabeth Traison

Courtesy of Janice Traison
One year after diagnosis

Three weeks ago I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my bat mitzvah. It is perhaps the Friday after the celebration of my bat mitzvah that I remember the most vividly; coming home from school I noticed my grandmother’s car parked in the driveway, and while we usually celebrate Shabbat with my grandparents, it was unusual to see her car in the driveway so early in the day. The situation grew more auspicious as I walked in the door and saw my mom standing in the kitchen with tear trails streaking her face. My youngest sister, only 4 years old at the time, was sitting at the table doing a puzzle. As fate would have it, the 10th anniversary of my bat mitzvah is also the 10th anniversary of my youngest sister’s diagnosis with diabetes.

The intersections of healthy food and Judaism in my own life most markedly began on that Friday afternoon. Not even one week into being a Jewish adult my life had dramatically altered. My father and I were forced to conquer our fears of needles by practicing injections on various citrus fruits. My family stopped drinking juices with high sugar contents, junk foods started disappearing, and while the rest of America became obsessed with avoiding carbs, we became obsessed with counting them.

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Kale and Mushroom Quinoa Mac and Cheese for Shavuot

By Amy Kritzer

Amy Kritzer

When Shauvot rolls around each year, my family usually serves up traditional sweets: Rich cheesecakes, rugelach and blintzes dominate the table. Now I love cheesecake as much as the next (former) New Yorker, but I tend to do things a little differently. I like to look at the holiday as an excuse to eat boatloads of cheese: feta, mozzarella, cheddar, you name it! Mmm cheese.

By why do we eat dairy at all on Shavuot? There are almost as many reasons for ditching meat on this holiday as there are delicious kinds of queso. Shavuot is the celebration of the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Suddenly they had to keep kosher and they did not have the necessary implements to slaughter and prepare kosher meat. Dairy it was! Another explanation is that the Israelites received the Torah right after their Exodus from Egypt, a journey described as escaping the misery of Egypt to the “land flowing with milk and honey”, and so we celebrate the day with dairy.

No matter the reason, let’s bring on the cheese. Since it’s not the healthiest food on the block, I always try to balance out indulgences with more nutritious options in dishes like quinoa mac and cheese. By swapping out the traditional pasta for quinoa, the dish is packed with protein and super filling. Quinoa has a heartier flavor than pasta and a nice chewy texture. This dish is creamy, cheesy, and has a nice crunch with the topping. For even more nutritional value, I added kale and mushrooms. Lest we get too wholesome, the whole thing is loaded with nearly a pound of cheese. Sounds healthy to me!

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Mixing Bowl: Mother's Day Recipes, Vegetarian Gefilte

By Susan Armitage

Thinkstock

Have you called your mom lately? Give her a ring and then get in the kitchen with these Mother’s Day brunch ideas. Smoked salmon breakfast latkes, anyone? [Nosher/MyJewishLearning]

Have the kids try their hand at challah, soft pretzels or maple meringue doughnuts with these family-friendly baking projects. [Food52]

Does your mom like a good pint more than a glass of bubbly? Try these pairings for a Mother’s Day beer brunch. [Serious Eats]

In Israel — or Sweden — a Coke just might have your name on it. [Tablet]

In the kitchen with the mashgiach at The J, the upscale New York glatt kosher spot formerly known as Jezebel. [The New York Times]

Rukhl Schaechter and Eve Jochnowitz tackle vegetarian gefilte fish in the latest episode of their cooking show, “Eat in Good Health!” (In Yiddish with English subtitles) [Yiddish Forverts]

The weather’s warming up, at least on the East Coast. Celebrate with five dairy-free, warm-weather desserts. [The Kitchn]


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