The Jew And The Carrot

My Biggest Fear: The Farmer’s Market

By Julie Mirliss

Julie Mirliss

This summer I was fortunate enough to live between 15th and 16th street on Union Square West. While most cab drivers will insist that this address does not exist, any fresh produce-loving New Yorker will absolutely rave over such an ideal location. Why? Because, four days a week, this address is home to the world famous Union Square Greenmarket. Dating back to 1976 when it began with only a few farmers, it has since grown exponentially to now holding 140 regional farmers, fisherman, and bakers in peak season. Loyal customers return every week to enjoy fresh and locally made products from just-picked fruits and vegetables, to heritage meats and award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, and much more.

As perfect as it sounds, I couldn’t help but feel discouraged. Even though I have a huge passion for fresh food and cooking, I’ve always heard that farmer’s markets are so overpriced, and sadly my student budget can’t fully afford my passion. Right now “affordability” is my top priority when it comes to grocery shopping. And while I hope one day “locally-grown and produced” will be my only standard, at the moment, it’s unfortunately just not my biggest concern. In addition to the price issue, I also had no idea how to navigate the market, let alone know what to buy. Everyone at the market seemed to have figured it out long ago. I was embarrassed to be the new-kid-on-the-block who didn’t have a clue about anything.

I needed a push. I needed a little confidence. And more than anything I needed knowledge before tackling this green monster of a market. And knowledge is just what I got.

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Amanda Cohen's Grilled Corn

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

thinkstock

*We chatted with Dirt Candy’s vegetable wizard/chef Amanda Cohen (and author of the just-out-this-week “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook,”) about how to use all of your delicious summer produce. Check out her thoughts on grilled spinach here

Corn’s peak season is usually at the beginning of August, but Cohen says she started seeing the sweet veggie at the farmer’s market as early as a couple of weeks ago.

As a kid, she remembers eating fresh-from-the-farmstand corn raw. But for those who want to cook their corn, she’s got some tips.

“It’s so easy to grill corn,” she says. At the restaurant, she removes the corn’s silk, and its outer husks. She then soaks the corn in water (so the husks won’t burn) and throws it on the grill.

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Cooking Veggies with Amanda Cohen

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Steven Eldridge

CSA boxes are always filled to the brim with delicious and colorful local and seasonal produce. But as someone who’s been given extra veggies from a friend and CSA member overrun with produce, I know it can be hard for the average at-home cook to think of new and exciting ways to use said produce.

For this we turned to Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of New York City’s all vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy, and author of the just-out-this-week “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook,”. Cohen gave us her advice for using two of her favorite mid-to-late-summer vegetables: corn and spinach. (Check back this afternoon for Cohen’s corn recipes.)

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Florida Prison Sued for Halting Kosher Food

By JTA

The U.S. government has sued the Florida Department of Corrections for ending its kosher meal service.

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit last week in federal District Court in Miami.

The kosher meal service was canceled in 2007. An average of 250 inmates used the kosher meal service, including Muslims, The Associated Press reported. The state now offers vegetarian and vegan options.

A Religious Dietary Study Group had advised the state not to end the kosher meal program, saying that the inmates “may either eat the non-kosher food and fail to obey his religious laws or not eat the non-kosher food and starve,” Reuters reported. The expense of providing the kosher meals came to about $146,000 a year, according to the committee.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 current inmates.

Earlier this year, an Israeli judge ruled that an American Jewish man convicted of manslaughter while driving drunk who fled to Israel more than a decade ago could not be extradited to Florida because he would not receive kosher food while in prison.


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Rami Levy: Israel's Supermarket King

By JTA

Thinkstock

The corporate offices of Rami Levy, Israel’s nouveau riche supermarket mogul, sit atop one of his grocery stores in southern Jerusalem. It’s not a busy neighborhood, nor is it easily accessible by public transit. But once the building comes into view, there’s no mistaking that it’s his.

Plastered across the side wall in bold letters on a yellow background are the words Rami Levy Hashikma Market. The company name appears at least six more times elsewhere on the building.

Meet the new Israeli mogul – with a net worth about $1 billion, according to Haaretz – whom many Jews outside Israel do not yet recognize, but who is emerging as a champion of the country’s economically struggling families.

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Mixing Bowl: Kosher 7-Eleven, Babka Love

By Blair Thornburgh

Is there actually something in the water that makes the classic chew of a New York Bagel the best, or is it all just bragging? [Smithsonian Food & Think]

The world’s first kosher 7-Eleven in Monsey, N.Y. is now serving up Slurpees, snacks, and specialty hot dogs, cooked on a rabbi-blessed grill with a convenient condiment bar including spicy mayo and (what else?) hummus. [Kosher Nexus]

Elevate your vacation reading with these eight fresh picks on sustainable food. [Grist]

Writer David Sax remembers his father-in-law and a shared lifelong love of Jewish food with a bite of babka. [The New York Times Magazine]

Serious Eats weighs in on kosher ice creamery Chozen’s new Chocolate Babka and Heavenly Halvah (dairy-free!) flavors. [Serious Eats]

Pastrami and rye panzanella: marbled meat, toasted bread, and sweet ripe tomatoes mingle in a deli-cious twist on the summery salad [Epicurious]

A new cereal-centric shop in NYC’s Greenwich Village puts the meal in oatmeal with toppings like fresh fruit, toasted nuts, and…gorgonzola? [Serious Eats: New York]


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What To Eat at Jezebel

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Thinkstock
We hear the bone marrow appetizer is pretty darn tasty!

After hearing (and reading) all the hype about how new, hip Soho restaurant Jezebel would rejuvenate, modernize, and make kosher dining “cool,” I had to check it out.

So on Tuesday night, my husband, two friends and I headed to the painfully trendy downtown New York neighborhood to check out what all the fuss is about.

There’s no sign outside the glatt kosher restaurant, and the only way to know you’re in the right place is to look down at the doormat.

Inside the two-story carriage house, the decor is a mix of vintage and shabby chic, with a little bit of humor thrown in — adorning the walls are paintings of Jewish pop culture icons like Woody Allen (who stands in for Jesus in a depiction of the last supper) and Barbra Streisand (as the Girl with the Pearl Earring).

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Summer Cooking: Stone-Fruit Slaw

By Ilana Schatz

Araganica Farm Club

I am incredibly spoiled to have a wonderful produce store just a few miles away, with a delectable array of organic fruits and veggies all year long. I always return home with much more produce than we’ll be able to eat, because I can’t resist their visual beauty and fragrances. Having access to so much fresh and organic produce has meant that we put off becoming a CSA member, that is, until a local CSA rep knocked on our door. Her earnest pitch and the sense of joining a larger community encouraged us to try it out.

Now, before I even drink my first cup of coffee, I leap out of bed eagerly on Thursday mornings to peek inside the box and behold what nature’s bounty awaits me. I always thought that I ate a varied and balanced diet (being originally trained as a public health nutritionist), until our CSA box began appearing at our doorstep. Almost every box brings something I’ve never cooked before, which sends me off in excitement looking for the perfect new recipe. A package of endive turned into a delicious hors d’œuvre stuffed with parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts and herbs. The shishito peppers (from Japan!) became an enticing side dish, simply cooked in hot oil until the skin began to blacken.

One of our recent boxes revealed a treasure of peaches and pluots. It’s been a great summer for stone fruit in California; last year’s crop, especially plums and pluots, was sparse due to strange spring weather. So, we’ve been gorging on juicy fruits the past month or so. When this box arrived, the fruit was still slightly firm, not quite ripe. I was intrigued to explore other alternatives. I have to admit that in addition to our many shelves of cookbooks I am a devotee of epicurious.com, and I turned there first. Who would have imagined that I’d find a recipe for Stone Fruit Slaw?

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New Year for Animals: The Time Has Come

By Jeffrey Cohan

Jeffrey Cohan

Editor’s Note: The Beet-Eating Heeb is the nom de plume of Jeffrey Cohan, a former journalist in Forest Hills, PA. He also blogs about Judaism and veganism on his own website.

A divinity student from a Presbyterian seminary approached The Beet-Eating Heeb recently and made a surprising comment.

“I’m so impressed,” he said, “with the emphasis that Judaism places on treating animals with compassion.”

The Beet-Eating Heeb didn’t know whether to kvell or to cry.

Kvell, because all levels of Jewish texts, from the Torah on down, express incredible sensitivity for the welfare of animals. The divinity student knew something about Judaism – on paper.

Cry, because concern for animals is almost totally absent from Jewish communal discourse, while literally billions of farm animals are suffering in abysmal conditions.

It is therefore, in the spirit of our Prophetic tradition, that a creative effort has arisen to rouse us from our chilling complacency and to focus attention on Judaism’s teachings about animals: Concerned Jews in Israel and the United States are trying to resurrect and reframe the ancient but long-forgotten holiday of Rosh Hashanah La B’Heimot, or New Year for Animals.

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Shabbat Meals: Rio Style

By Andrea Palatnik

Andrea Palatnik

Family legend has it that, when my parents got married, my paternal grandmother hired the newlywed couple a maid. How sweet, thought my mother. That is, until she found out the maid also doubled as a spy so that my grandma could make sure her daughter-in-law — a shiksa! — wouldn’t buy bacon and other unholy treats for her son.

My mother was raised in a strict Catholic family in Brazil and married one of only 30,000 Jews living in Rio de Janeiro, a city with 12 million inhabitants. She knew very little about Judaism before meeting my father, but she came to love everything about it. Two years after a civil ceremony, my mother decided she wanted her children to be Jewish, not Catholic or “cashew.” She began the process of converting and at the end, my parents had a second wedding — this time, under a chuppah.

When time came for her to raise two Jewish kids, she put a great deal of effort into making sure they would grow up with the same affection towards Judaism that she had acquired. She would have meetings with our school’s principal to learn about why we had come home with a cardboard bow and arrow on Lag BaOmer or why we had asked her to let us sleep in a tent made of bed sheets in the balcony during Sukkot. She wanted to be a part of it, and she enjoyed being involved in every possible way.

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A Summertime Cold Borscht

By Lisa Amand

Lisa Amand

There I was, like a character out of a Nora Ephron film, standing in the middle of Zabar’s, asking anyone within earshot the difference between their two beet soups. The bustling Manhattan store’s two versions of borscht boast the same color, almost the same ingredients. Scrutinizing the two containers, I hold them up to the sage pastrami-slicer behind the deli counter, asking him how the two vary. Can I eat either cold? He shrugs, smiles and nods.

A few days later, shopping at my favorite Eastern European food emporium, M & I International in Brighton Beach, I spy a big pot of ruby-red borcsht labeled red borscht. But when I say want to eat it cold, the woman immediately turns her back and strides over to the fridge, pointing to another pot covered with plastic wrap. As I pay $6 for the tall tub of pink soup, the friendly Russian explains with great urgency that the cold version boasts sour cream and yogurt and should never ever be heated. If you enjoy pairing cold borscht with bread, buy or bake dark, old-world, farmer’s rye.

The pleasant dilemma is that there are as many versions of cold borscht as there are countries in the Olympics. Even the name and spelling changes with its place of origin depending on whether you’re concocting Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian or Belarusian borscht.

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From Cookbook Collector to Pickler

By Miriam Leibowitz

Miriam Leibowitz

I still have the first cookbook I ever purchased: “Good Food for Bad Stomachs,” published in 1951. I bought it sometime in the 1980s at a neighbor’s yard sale; I was a weird kid who hung out at the antique malls grew up getting stomach aches from milk, so it the purchase was a no-brainer. The first thing I made from that book was rice pudding, something you couldn’t find in Knoxville, Tenn. but I just knew I’d love.

Years later, when I was in college, my paternal grandmother gifted me “The Vegetarian Epicure,” which has been used so much that the yellowed pages and worn spine are nearly split through. I am grateful that grandma also gave me a true love of cooking, gardening, and Cuisinart attachments.

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The Kosher Rachael Ray Heads to Israel

By Katherine Martinelli

Courtesy of Joy of Kosher

Jamie Geller is often called the “Kosher Rachael Ray.” But she wasn’t always a domestic goddess — or even kosher! After a successful career as a journalist and television producer, Geller got married and realized that she was “a disaster on wheels in the kitchen,” as she says.

Since learning her way around a stove, she’s brought her hard-earned personal and culinary lessons to the masses through a mini culinary empire with kosher cookbooks, web cooking shows, a magazine, and the popular Joy of Kosher website.

This week Geller and her family are picking up their family and leaving behind everything they know to move to Israel, all while documenting it in a reality mini-series called the Joy of Aliyah. I caught up with Geller before she made the move to talk about how she went from zero to hero in the kitchen, what she thinks of Israeli food and what lies ahead.

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Mixing Bowl: H&H Fight, Katz's Deli Is 'Manly?'

By Devra Ferst

iStock

The fight over the H&H Bagel name continues to get shmeared. [Grub Street]

School lunches are getting a healthy makeover thanks to Michelle Obama’s initiatives. But not so much for students who keep kosher in LA. [Jewish Journal]

Katz’s Deli might just be the “manliest” sandwich shop in America, atleast according to Men’s Health Guy Gourmet blog. [Village Voice]

Food and Wine spends some time with (and gets some recommendations from) our favorite Israeli spice master Lior Lev Sercarz. [Food and Wine]

The barbeque brisket pop-up BrisketTown is starting to take orders…. hmmm, we’ll see you in line. [Eater]


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Hummus Colonization: Now at Your Supermarket!

By Hannah Rubin

Hannah Rubin

And so, Hummus Week at the Forward comes to a close. One week, fifteen tasters, and thirty-two different hummuses.

On our score sheet for our Wacky Flavor Day, we included what might have seemed like a straightforward question: “does it taste like hummus?” However, many testers understandably asked for clarification about the terms defining just exactly what hummus is. Just tasting all the various Israeli-style hummuses made in New York restaurant kitchens proved to me how diverse the flavors of chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon, olive oil and garlic can be. Of course, this is all not to mention regional and national differences in hummus — for this project, we focused strictly on Israeli-style hummus.

Syria to Lebanon, Greece to Egypt — each Middle Eastern country not only uses their own individual hummus recipe, but also claims absolute ownership over the chickpea treat. In fact, the Lebanese Industrialists Association has consistently petitioned the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade to request protected status from the European Commission over hummus, and to declare it a uniquely Lebanese food, a trademark comparable to Italian “parmigiano reggiano” or French champagne.

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The Gracious (Gluten-Free) Host

By Rebecca Finkel

Jeff Coleman
The author’s (dairy-free) cupcake wedding cake included several gluten-free, egg-free cupcakes for guests with food sensitivities

Last year I moved across the country to complete a seven-month internship program. There wasn’t a lot of time to make friends, but I found that sharing food seemed to foster a sense of camaraderie. I was excited when one day a fellow intern invited me to her home for Friday night dinner. Since I’m gluten-free my initial instinct was to offer to bring a dish so she wouldn’t have to go out of her way but I also knew that my standards of kashrut were not as strict as hers. We compromised and agreed that I would bring fresh vegetables for a salad from the farm I was working on, and she insisted on trying her hand at making gluten-free challah.

Later that week we sat around the Shabbat table and bit into the tough pieces of densely packed bread before bursting out in laughter. It wasn’t very tasty, but I was touched by the kind gesture and it the first of many Shabbatot I spent at her table. So earlier this summer when The New York Times ran a piece called “The Picky Eater Who Came to Dinner”, I was upset at the article’s snarky tone which laments how hard it has become for Americans to break bread together.

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Sundried Tomatoes and Hummus Finally Meet

By Hannah Rubin

Hannah Rubin

While Roasted Red Pepper hummus may get more press time, you might be surprised to learn that sun dried tomato is sneaking up as the next big thing in flavored hummus. We saw it everywhere. Deeply hued, this rich and tangy red tomato hummus blend wowed us—in more ways than one. In general, we were confused whether to consider it hummus, given that it didn’t look, smell, or taste like the chickpea stuff. But, as we all had to admit, it did taste pretty good.

Well, almost all of us. Our resident Israeli, wouldn’t taste any of the stuff, shouting at us that “Israeli’s do not eat sun dried tomato hummus!! Its an abomination.” He then took off in a huff, and, thankfully, left his share of pita slices behind.

A note on scoring: Each hummus was rated on a scale from one to five based on texture, taste, appearance, smell, and tomato-ey goodness

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Wacky Hummus: Love It or Leave It?

By Hannah Rubin

Hannah Rubin

If you’re a hummus fiend — which I proudly am — you might have noticed a change in your grocer’s selection of hummus in the past couple of years. Suddenly, your options are no longer limited to just pine nuts or no pine nuts.

Welcome to the world of flavored hummus, where ingredients like horseradish, edamame, and guacamole rule the supermarket shelves, alongside exotic seasonings like chipotle and the bizarre buffalo sauce.

Ten years ago, you had to move the guacamole and salsa aside in order to find even just a single lame tub of hummus. It was probably Sabra, and it was almost definitely the original flavor. Cut to 2012 — Sabra now makes 19 different hummus flavors, and Tribe follows with a close 16. Whole supermarket display cases are devoted to the chickpea treat.

But is this latest crazy trend worth all of the hype (and shelf space)? We were curious. So we took it upon ourselves to try the 12 wackiest flavor of hummus we could get our hands on (we know, our jobs are tough). Check out our scores below to find out which flavors to take a chance on and which to leave at the store.

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Shabbat Meals: My Catholic Dinner

By David A.M. Wilensky

David A. M. Wilensky

In my experience, there’s often a token non-Jew at Friday night dinner or at the Seder — the Shabbos Goy or the Passover Goy, some call them (affectionately).

Last Friday, however, I experienced the unfamiliar sensation of being the Shabbos Jew at a Friday night dinner with several Catholic friends. And when I call them Catholic, understand what I mean: One is a seminarian in Rome and another is a playwright studying at Catholic University – and our host for the evening, Sarah, has a degree from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.

I’ve gotten used to feeling the Shabbos spirit at Friday night dinners with eclectic companions. (And my roommates — a lesbian lapsed Catholic and a Puerto Rican lapsed Pentecostal — have gotten used to things like knishes and kasha varnishkes.) Even so, this meal was a mish-mash of cultures — in the company and in the food served.

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Kosher Pop-up Brings Real BBQ to New York

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Courtesy of Ari White

A little piece of Texas has landed in the Bronx. Ari White, owner of Gemstone Catering, is dishing out slow-cooked brisket, pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches, kosher baby back ribs (using veal instead of the traditional pork), and much more at his Texas Smokehouse BBQ Pop-Up restaurant in Riverdale this week.

White has set up two tents — one housing buffet-style food (served by members of his staff), and the other with long, country-fair-style picnic tables along with a drinks and dessert table featuring sweet tea, Texas-sized chocolate chip cookies and peach cobbler (pareve of course). The down-and-dirty parking lot setting feels just right.

White, who is modern Orthodox, is well-known in the New York-area shul kiddish community for his Texas-style cholent (in which smoked ribs and brisket take the place of stew meat). And earlier this year, he won first place in the ribs competition and second place for his brisket at the Long Island Kosher Barbecue Championship, competing under the team name, “Smokin’ for Life.”

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