The Jew And The Carrot

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]


The Phoenix of Chicago Jewish Steakhouses

By Adam Langer

Myron & Phil

By the time I moved out of Chicago, the place had lost a good deal of its relevance for me. I had come to know Myron & Phil best as the restaurant just west of the storage facility where I kept most of the junk I thought I would need for my move out east. As a new, not-entirely-devout pescetarian married to a hardcore vegetarian, I had little need for a place that did its biggest business in steaks, ribs and a famed relish tray that came with three big scoops of chopped liver.

Sure, you could order the scrod or the steamed vegetable platter, but to do so was to invite disappointment. By then, my father was having a hard time getting out of the house anyway and going to Myron & Phil without him seemed beside the point. Founded in 1970, this was a restaurant for his generation, the sort of place where he had his usual table (close to the exit), his usual drink (“martini up, blue cheese olives”) and his usual order (“the Pritikin Chicken”). This was the quintessential 20th century Jewish steakhouse, a place where politicians came to shore up the Jewish vote — on the walls were framed, autographed photos of Bill Clinton, Dan Rostenkowski and the other celebs and pols who dined here. I haven’t been back in some time, but if Rahm and Barack’s pictures aren’t on the walls, I’d be stunned.

I remember Myron & Phil as a loud joint — a sort of seven-night-a-week Bar Mitzvah. Whoever was running it when I went there would holler at the line chefs, not by name but by physical description (“Hey, Tall Guy, give it a little more fire.”) Rumor had it that some tough Jews had a card game going in the back, but I never saw any evidence of that. Probably it was just a rumor started by my some of my relatives who populated the joint — men who’d fought their way out of the Depression on the Old West Side of Chicago and found middle-class comfort in oil, car sales, and the steel business. Whenever my dad saw Phil Freedman, one of the two brothers who owned the place, he would say he remembered him from when the Freedmans’ mom ran a cafeteria in his old neighborhood — yes, Myron and Phil had also made it out of the old ‘hood all the way to the north side.

Memories of Myron & Phil return upon reading reports that Myron Freedman, the restaurant’s 95-year-old co-founder, passed away early Wednesday morning. At right about the same time, the restaurant itself caught fire. Myron’s son Mark, who’s been running the restaurant for nearly 15 years, told the Sun-Times that he feels like a phoenix who will have to remake his father and uncle’s place as “the jewel of the North Shore.” Myron & Phil will re-open in about a month, says Freedman. Like all of us, he’s part of a generation that has risen from the ashes of the old one. Maybe I’ll even stop in on his restaurant with my family on my next trip through town. I’ve changed a lot since I was last there and I’m sure Myron & Phil has too. I’ll even bet that there’ll be a lot more on the menu for me to order other than steamed vegetables and scrod.

Adam Langer is the arts & culture editor of the Forward.


Jewish Mothers Who Can Cook — in Six Words

By Forward Staff

Thinkstock

For many of us, Jewish mothers are synonymous with home cooking. In advance of Mother’s Day, we asked you, our readers, to describe your Jewish mothers in just six words. Not surprisingly, sprinkled throughout the submissions were many entries dedicated to moms as the ultimate cooks. Sure, there was the requisite Jewish mom joke: “Sad? Eat! Tired? Eat! Test? Eat!” but other entries surprised us with their creativity and proved just how tight the link between Jewish moms and food really is.

Below are some of our favorite entries dedicated to our moms who cooked for us, forced us to eat gefilte fish and proved that you can cook kugel and be a skilled lawmaker.

Balaboosta, The kitchen wizard and genie.
— Elliot Lewis, 34, Albuquerque, about Sonia Gottlieb

Makes best chopped liver; will travel.
— Bryna Siegel Finer, 36, Pittsburgh, about Marcia Siegel

Has more balls than matzoh balls.
— Lauren Rosen, 42, New York City, about Doris Rosen

Forced me to eat gefilte fish
— Lauren Rosen, 42, New York City, about Doris Rosen

Candidate Mom serves kugel creates laws
— Francine Graff, 49, Culver City, Calif., about Loretta Weinberg


Eating Pork Can Be Ethical — Not Kosher

By Jeffrey Yoskowitz

Thinkstock

In an interview with the Forward, Michael Pollan said “semi-jokingly” that “it might be time to reconsider pork as treyf,” or so he said at a synagogue lecture to get some laughs. He also mentioned that he had a family pig named Kosher.

I can’t stop smirking at the image of the Pollan family chasing after its pet yelling “Kosher, come here.” It requires a particular brand of wry Jewish wit to appropriately play with ideas of the sacred and the profane in that way.

That’s why Pollan’s comments about reconsidering the Jewish prohibition on pigs, however serious or joking they were intended to be, caught my attention. As a Semitic swinologist (yes, it’s my own term) and editor of the site Pork Memoirs, weighing in on such matters comes with the territory.

It seems that, even in jest, Pollan underestimates the role that the pork taboo — and the dietary laws in general — play in Jewish culture and tradition. He considers the kosher laws as simply a system of ethics for eating, and advocates for reinterpreting those laws in light of evidence that pigs are more sustainable and efficient than other animals.

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Turning the Tables: It's Not My Problem

By Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas

Last week I walked around the tidal basin in Washington DC. It was a beautiful spring day with the famed cherry blossoms in bloom, boaters on the water, and tourists scampering about. I came to DC for a conference and ended up meeting with several legislators on a number of issues important to me and too much of the Jewish community. What was not on the docket of the conference nor on the minds of the legislators were issues of food justice. Immigration, gun control, entitlements, education, labor rights, LGBT rights, and even genocide were all major topics of discussions from the plenary to the breakout sessions. When we “hit the hill” members of the house and senate came and spoke to us about what they were working on, and none of them mentioned even once, the 50 million Americans who do not know where there next meal will come from.

Now, all of them spoke passionately about important causes - indeed they all are- yet it seemed as if no one said to them, “speak about food justice, it’s a Jewish issue.” It was like they simply let this one go. What I learned from my experience in DC is that it’s time for Jewish Food Movement to put justice at its center. Until we make the Jewish Food Movement about justice, congressmen of all stripes will assume that it is simply not a Jewish issue. There are issues and campaigns afoot, but before I link to them, allow me to teach a story from the midrash (I’m a rabbi, it’s what I do).

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How To Host a Fair Trade Oneg

By Ilana Schatz

courtesy of 12aproductions.com

World Fair Trade Day is May 11, and thousands of people around the world will be celebrating the positive impact that Fair Trade has made on the lives of farmers and artisans. Fair Trade principles embody key Jewish values - Osek - prohibition about oppressing workers, B’Tzelem Elohim - honoring the humanity of each person, Bal Tashchit - do not waste or destroy natural resources, and Tzedek - creating a life of justice for everyone.

We often treat ourselves to special foods as we celebrate our Shabbat. Here are some recipes for special Shabbat treats using Fair Trade ingredients, so we know that the people who grew our food were treated with Jewish values. Here is a list of Fair Trade and Kosher chocolate, coffee and tea.

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Are GMO's Kosher?

By Sara Trappler Spielman

Thinkstock

When the only kosher agency to certify organic food for the USDA announced last month that it will no longer grant kosher certification for products that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), it had me wondering: What is the relationship between kosher food and health?

Traditionally, not much — at least not where the label’s concerned.

“Poison can be given a kosher heksher,” Natural Food Certifiers founder and director, Rabbi Reuven Flamer told me over the phone.

“Kashrus has nothing to do with health, at least not physical health. If meat went bad you shouldn’t eat it because it’s not healthy, not because it’s not kosher. It’s two different realms,” he added.

Launched in 1997, NFC’s first certification, Apple K, was based on the principle that “If it’s kosher, it’s good for the soul; if it’s naturally healthy it’s good for the body, and each should have the other,” the website says. “Rejecting products that contain GMOs for kosher certification is a logical addition to our kosher supervision.”

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A Jewish Mother Learns To Cook Chicken Soup

By Carla Naumburg

I almost choked on my coffee when I read the email from my editor asking if I would be interested in reviewing a cookbook. The thing is, I don’t cook. I can prepare a few simple dishes (think fried egg or cheese quesadilla), but any “real” cooking — the sort that might involve following a recipe, mixing more than three ingredients, or using “herbs” and “spices” is definitely not on my skill list.

I was just about to say no when I realized that the book, “Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts” included Jewish folk tales and was written by Jane Yolen (author of the beloved “How Do Dinosaurs” series, along with about 90 other books) and her daughter, Heidi Stemple. I was intrigued, even if it meant cooking.

I can honestly tell you that this is the first cookbook I have ever read in one sitting. It’s a beautiful hard-bound book with lovely illustrations by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin throughout. In a time when all fairy tales seem to be variations of the orphaned-girl-turns-princess variety, I was grateful for the diverse, authentic, and engaging details of Yolen’s retellings of traditional stories. There are rabbis and prophets, wise women and foolish men, yahrzeit candles and chuppahs, and of course, lessons related to justice, tzedakah, and a range of Jewish values I am working to teach my daughters every day.

The girls (ages 4.5 and nearly 3) and I have read several of the stories together, and I was pleasantly surprised by the conversations that ensued. “The Latke Miracle” is the story of a poor widow who has no flour or oil for Hanukkah, but she is willing to welcome a stranger into her home nonetheless. She and her children are rewarded for their generosity with coins and food. My older daughter remembered the gifts she got last year for Hanukkah, and we talked about how she would feel if she got oil and flour as presents (not very good, apparently). But then we discussed what it would be like to get those if she didn’t have enough food to eat, and she agreed that they would be a pretty good present, if she could only to learn to cook.

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Turning the Community on To Composting

By Camille Diamond

Camille Diamond
Weighing compost before it gets put in the bin

Garbage in New York City is transported to landfills outside of the state. Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all have landfills full of our old clothes, packaging, contents of our last closet purge, and lots of food waste. This last one is the most unfortunate, because food was meant to compost back into the earth and enrich the soil for the next growing cycle. If we can keep food out of landfill and find a way to send it back to the soil that grows our food, we’re giving our future food the opportunity to be at least as nutritious as the food that came before it. It’s a simple concept. However, when you live in New York City where backyard gardens and opportunities to compost are scarce it seems like the only option for our food waste is to throw it into the landfill with the rest of the garbage.

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Mixing Bowl: BBQ Contest; Kosher Burgers

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

Meet the world’s most accomplished Israeli sommelier. [The NY Jewish Week]

Get ready for the second annual Long Island kosher BBQ cook-off. Trust us, you’ll want to save your appetite for this one. [Yeah That’s Kosher]

Serious Reading: four delicious books to devour this summer. [Serious Eats]

High-end burgers are showing up all over kosher menus in New York City. [Yeah That’s Kosher]

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells is hitting the road. He’ll be reviewing restaurants around the country. [Diner’s Journal]

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