Katherine Romanow (left) and Sydney Warshaw of Wandering Chew. Photograph by Lauren Kolyn.
They’re not trained as chefs. They haven’t cooked in restaurants. But Sydney Warshaw and Katherine Romanow are becoming two of the biggest machers in Montreal’s burgeoning Jewish food scene.
As The Wandering Chew, the duo stages pop-up events that “try to teach people about the variety of food that makes up Jewish cuisine,” Romanow told the Forward. “It’s more than the Ashkenazi staples everyone thinks about when they think Jewish food.”
With that in mind, Wandering Chew events have strayed all over the Semitic map, from an Iraqi-Jewish feast — the pair’s 2013 debut dinner — to a Mexican-Jewish fiesta to a Scandinavian-Jewish brunch.
Photograph by Deborah Gardner
Just a few hours before Purim, I came across this awesome creation on the blog Seattle Local Food, and just had to share it.
For the non-math nerds among us, it’s a hamantaschen created using a mathematical principle known as the Sierpinski triangle. Here’s how Deborah Gardner breaks it down:
You may be familiar with the Sierpinski triangle, a mathematically attractive, self-repeating fractal that starts with one equilateral triangle and breaks down into ever-smaller triangles.
Somehow this year it dawned on me that the world was incomplete without a Sierpinski hamantaschen, or sierpinskitaschen. I scoured the vast reaches of the Interwebs, to see if this had been done before. I may have missed something, but it seems this has not.
To find the recipe and learn more, click here.
Since she can’t rename the holiday itself, our columnist comes up with a cocktail to honor her Purim heroine. Presenting… The Esther. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.
By now we’ve clearly established that when a Jewish holiday comes along, I will not know a thing about it. What I appreciate about my lack of formal religious training is that I get to look at the customs and rituals without biases, but with an actual interest in learning about them. As an added bonus, my education comes mainly from a 1950s cookbook, read at leisure, usually with a cup of tea.
Tea sidebar: My grandfather, Samuel Major (née Mazaroff — thank you, Montreal immigration personnel), used to drink his tea from a clear glass mug, with a cube of sugar between his top and bottom teeth. He would sip the tea through the sugar cube, and once the cube had dissolved, he’d start another. I’ve always wanted to drink tea this way, but cavities and weak teeth loom as a genetic inevitability, so I have to let that family tradition pass into memory.
Back to Purim: It’s a good holiday; I’d even venture to say a great one, even though it doesn’t merit High Holiday status. Why great? Because it was a woman who saved the day!
My ladies of Jewish lore and traditions, Fannie Engle and Gertrude Blair, did a fine job explaining the story and the traditions that we now celebrate. Knowing the background, if I had my way the holiday wouldn’t be called Purim at all, it would be called EstherPalooza. But I rarely get my way, so I’m not holding my breath.
I do have doubts as to what really happened when Esther revealed her true Jewish self in ancient Persia. According to Engle and Blair in their educational masterwork, “The Jewish Festival Cookbook,” “It was a most hazardous undertaking, and the queen fortified her spirit with prayer and fasting before entering upon her task.”
Prayer? Sure. Fasting? Not so sure that’s the best way to screw up one’s courage. But if Engle and Blair say it worked for her, I’ll buy it. What’s clearly missing in this retelling, though, is the one ingredient that’s key to mustering up courage when you really need it: booze. I have a hard time believing that Esther didn’t slug back a couple of glasses of wine before risking her life and those of her people by outing herself as Jewish. My wine theory makes a lot of sense, especially when you read further on in Engle and Blair:
“One of the most colorful and dramatic of modern celebrations takes place in Tel Aviv. It is called Adloyada, meaning, ‘Until one does not know.’ This is a reference to an injunction of the Talmud, which prescribes that one be merry to the point of not knowing whether Mordecai is to be blessed and Haman cursed or vice versa.
In the story that is my life I have been merry — I’ve even been super-merry — without any type of stimulant or external substance, but “merry to confusion”? I think we all know what that’s a euphemism for.
Now, I’m not advocating going out on Purim and getting ridiculously merry — no one wants to see that, especially the children — but I do, as always, have a cocktail recipe for the occasion. It’s called the Esther, and it’s meant to offer our heroine the wine I hope she drank — in the form of sparkling rosé, because it’s festive. The ruby-colored citrus juice symbolizes the blood she kept from being spilled.
With that in mind, remember not to get all “merried up” and drive a car. It’s never the right choice, and I’m pretty sure Esther would be rather disappointed in you.
Petite Shell’s kosher rugelach. Photograph by Liz Arronson Rueven/KosherLikeMe.com.
…Manhattan’s Petite Shell, whose kosher rugelach have become a bona fide phenomenon among New York foodies, was named one of the city’s best coffee shops by Eater this week.
While Eater waxed rhapsodic about Petite Shell’s dulce de leche mini-croissants, the real draw here is what the Village Voice called “obsessively crafted” rugelach in mind-blowing flavors like Nutella, and feta with kalamata olives. Japanese cold brews and “draft” American coffees are made with beans roasted exclusively for Petite Shell by Ithaca, New York’s Forty Weight Coffee Roasters, as Yeah That’s Kosher has reported.
Watch Jay Parker of Ben’s Best Deli in Rego Park, Queens, make potato pancakes. Then try it yourself.
Makes 10 large potato pancakes
3 pounds (9 medium) white all purpose potatoes, peeled
½ pound (1 large) yellow onion
3 large eggs
1¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup flour
Oil (for frying)
Apple sauce as an accompaniment
1) Shred potatoes. Place in cold water. Shred onion. Place potatoes and onion into a colander and drain well, pressing to release all liquid.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Add potatoes and onion to the egg mixture. Stir to combine. Add flour. Stir to combine well
3) Heat one inch deep of oil in a large heavy skillet. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop a generous ½ cup of the potato mixture to ¾ inch thick. Cook, turning over halfway through the cook time, until golden brown on both sides and cooked in the center. Remove and drain on paper towels. Served with apple sauce.
The author wondered why chocolate was usually left out of the dough of a classic Purim treat. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Chocolate is in many ways the quintessential example of a food that is both Old and New World. Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is derived, was well known to both the Aztec and the Mayan peoples. It was a bitter powder ground from pods and prized for its alleged aphrodisiac properties.
The Spanish Conquistadors took cocoa back to Europe with them, where they concocted a wildly popular drink with the addition of sugar (also a New World food) and copious amounts of milk or cream. There you have it: the invention of the hot chocolate we would likely recognize today.
Sweet, creamy dulce de leche — a rich Latino caramel — is a wonderful counterpoint to chocolate’s slightly bitter edge. The warmth of ground chilies hits the palate last. This is a great cookie for adventurous eaters. Photograph by Tami Ganeles-Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Makes 36 cookies
For the dough:
3½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, Mexican preferred
½ teaspoon ground guajillo chili powder (or other medium-hot chili)
½ teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or other relatively mild chili)
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1¾ cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate (between 68% and 72% cacao), melted in microwave or a double boiler and cooled to room temperature
3 tablespoons Kahlua or other chocolate liqueur
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the egg wash:
1 egg white
2 teaspoons water
For the filling:
1 cup dulce de leche
For the drizzle:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (between 58% and 64% cacao)
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, guajillo and ancho chili powders and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and light brown sugar, and mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix after each addition until incorporated. Add the melted dark chocolate, and mix to combine. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix to form a dough.
3) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days before rolling and baking.)
4) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
5) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and set on the prepared baking sheet, arranging them about 1 inch apart, 12 circles per sheet. Collect scraps, reroll and cut into additional rounds once.
6) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg white and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
7) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche in the center of each. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough with egg wash.
8) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10–15 minutes.
9) Bake for 9–10 minutes, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 10–12 minutes. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
10) Meanwhile, melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave for 2–3 minutes, stirring often. When it is melted, drizzle decoratively over the hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Chocolate and halvah are a perfect pairing, and this cookie, fudgy and rich, is as delicious as it sounds. Photograph by Tami Ganeles/Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen.
Yields 36 cookies
For the dough:
4¾ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
⅓ cup strong coffee, espresso preferred, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur, Godiva preferred
For the filling:
2 cups Nutella, or any chocolate nut spread
2 cups crumbled halvah, traditional or marble
For the egg wash:
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon water
1) Make the dough: Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to blend well.
2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or, if you are using a handheld mixer, in a large mixing bowl), combine the butter and sugar and mix at medium speed for 3–5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula.
3) With the mixer running at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Add the coffee, vanilla bean paste and chocolate liqueur and mix to form a dough.
4) Shape the dough into 2 flat, round disks, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until very firm. (This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before rolling and baking.)
5) When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats and set aside. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin.
6) Place 1 disk of dough on the work surface, and roll out until it is between ¼- and ⅛-inch thick. (The second disk should remain refrigerated while you do the first batch.) With a 3-inch cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and place on the prepared baking sheets, arranging them about 1 inch apart. Collect the scraps of dough, re-roll once, cut additional circles and place on the baking sheet.
7) Make the egg wash by whisking the egg whites and 1 teaspoon of water in a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round of dough with the egg wash.
8) Place the Nutella and crumbled halvah in a small mixing bowl and stir until fully combined. It will not be smooth and may have a few small chunks.
9) Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold up the edges to shape each filled round into a triangle, pinching them to form points, and leaving a small amount of filling exposed at the top. Repeat with the remaining chilled dough and filling. Brush the dough (but not the filling) with egg wash.
10) Chill the filled hamantaschen in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
11) Bake for 13–14 minutes, until firm, alternating the baking sheets between the oven racks and turning the trays 180° F halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5–7 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Bake the remaining hamantaschen.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.
Tasters at Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen 2014. Photograph by Zev Fisher.
As in past years, many of the city’s best chefs will come out to put their own modern twists on traditional Jewish dishes. According to Sara Bookin-Weiner, manager of outreach at Boston’s New Center for Arts and Culture, a major goal of the event is to “encourage the best chefs in Boston to use their imagination in a Jewish way.”
Ben’s Best Deli’s Jay Parker (left) with Erik Greenberg Anjou, director and producer of the film. Photograph courtesy of “Deli Man.”
Of all the machers in the new film “Deli Man”, which opens this week, Jay Parker of Ben’s Best stands out. He’s in Rego Park, Queens, for one thing, not the sexy Lower East Side or Midtown Manhattan. He also comes across as a consummate deli man, as quick with a quip as he is with a witty quote about the joys — and occasional tsuris — of running a kosher deli.
And while Parker may not enjoy the high profile of some of his counterparts, Ben’s Best has developed its own mythos after 70 years in business. The New York Times hailed its pastrami as “incredible”; Guy Fieri honored Ben’s Best with a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives segment last year.
Ben Parker, Jay’s father, founded Ben’s Best in 1945. After Ben’s death in 1984, Jay — then 33-year-old bond trader — took over the business, and hasn’t looked back. At the start of another day serving up sky-high corned-beef sandwiches, overstuffed cabbage roll and steaming matzo-ball soup, Parker took time to catch up with the Forward. “Deli Man said something accurately: If you don’t love the business, you really can’t be here. It asks too much of you,” he says.
The 90-year-old Streit’s Matzo Factory on the Lower East Side will close after Passover.
(JTA) — Seated in his Lower East Side office, in front of a large portrait of company patriarch Aron Streit, Alan Adler avoids becoming too nostalgic.
“It’s like I tell my family members: None of you own a car from 1935, why do you think a matzo factory from 1935 is what we should be using today?” says Adler, one of Streit’s Matzos’ 11 co-owners.
This is the line of thought behind the imminent closing of the Streit’s matzo factory, a longtime Jewish fixture in a city neighborhood that once was home to one of the highest concentration of Jews in the country.
Streit’s, the last family-owned matzo company in the United States, announced in December that it would be permanently closing its 90-year-old factory after this Passover season because of longstanding mechanical problems and subsequent economic concerns. Sometime in April, the company will shift its matzo production either to its other factory across the river in northern New Jersey, where several other products such as macaroons and wafers are made, or to another non-Manhattan location.
An Israeli-owned car wash on the West Side Highway has become the unlikely source of what may be New York’s most delicious donuts.
No, the guys scrubbing cars aren’t baking in their spare time; former chef Scott Levine, whose resume includes bygone New York foodie temple Chanterelle, where he was executive sous chef, opened Underwest Donuts in December with his wife, fashion stylist Orlee Winer.
Breads Bakery, whose hamantaschen are pictured above, will operate three food concessions at the Armory Show, which falls on Purim this year. Photograph courtesy of Breads Bakery.
Here’s everything you need to know about restaurant openings and closings, chefs on the move and tasty events happening in the world of Jewish food.
A very serious art show will get a little Purim spirit this year.
Breads, the Israeli-owned bakery near Union Square, will serve its highly praised hamantaschen at the Armory Show, the chichi contemporary art fair that calls itself “one of the most important annual art events in New York.”
It’s a first for both Breads and the Armory Show, whose dates coincide with Purim this year. Breads will operate three food concessions at the show; along with hamantaschen, the bakery will offer baked goods like babka and croissants, plus sandwiches, salads and sweets.
A new cookbook offers everyday recipes and modern twists on Jewish classics, with wine pairings.
This is an occasional column in which the writer evaluates a cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing the dishes with friends and asking what they think of the results. For Purim, she cooked her way through “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table” by Jeff and Jodie Morgan.
Despite what people may think about winemakers — that they’ve always got a bottle of something open to drink — Jeff Morgan says that’s not the case with him and his wife, Jodie Morgan.
“For us, wine is really about eating, not just about drinking,” he said. “We rarely drink wine without food — it just doesn’t happen in our house. It’s all about sitting down and sharing something that tastes really good with each other, with our friends and our family.”
Photograph by Ed Anderson
Cut this tart into 2-by-3-inch squares and it becomes a pass-around finger food appetizer. Or slice it into larger portions, like pizza, and serve it alongside a salad for a light meal or first course. In Nice, France, where we used to live, the locals top the tart with anchovies and call it pissaladière, but we like it best without the little fish. Note that you can serve this tart hot, warm or at room temperature, all with excellent results!
For the tart crust, we use a mixture of all-purpose and high-gluten flours. You can also substitute bread flour for both flours. The dough will need to rise for a few hours, during which time you can prepare your topping.
When it comes to wine, this onion tart is quite versatile. It pairs equally well with both reds and whites. If you’re starting off with the tart as an appetizer, offer your guests a white wine like bubbly or perhaps a glass of crisp Chardonnay. The caramelized onions have a hint of sweetness — great with Riesling or Moscato.
Photograph by Ed Anderson
Filled with the flavors of the Middle Eastern shouk, or marketplace, these fragrant meatballs have just a hint of heat. They are bathed in a bright tomato sauce and served over smoky freekeh, a wonderful wheat cereal found all over Israel and now becoming popular in the United States. You can substitute brown rice for freekeh, if you can’t find it. Remember, though, that freekeh takes a little longer to cook than rice and requires more water. Whether you use freekeh or rice, start by cooking it first. When it’s done, just keep it warm and covered, until you are ready to serve.
Don’t be afraid of the long list of ingredients. Most are simply spices. And the tomato sauce is a snap to prepare. (We don’t recommend seeding or peeling the tomatoes. It’s not worth the effort.) However, because there are three steps here, the best way to keep it simple is to lay out the ingredients for all steps prior to cooking. You’ll breeze through the rest!
And from your wine cellar, look for a rich, spicy California Zinfandel or an earthy Syrah.
Cinnamon Snail food truck in happier times. Facebook
Vegans and omnivores alike are in mourning. Cinnamon Snail, the popular kosher, vegan food truck, will no longer roam the streets of New York City.
For five years, the truck, which Yelp named the 4th best eatery in America in 2014, has served up creative, gourmet vegan fare — dishes like pinenut-butter topped fresh fig pancakes, smoked portobello mushroom carpaccio and an addictive line of donuts and cinnamon rolls that has entrapped thousands of hungry New Yorkers, including me.
About a year ago, I was on the hunt for a perfect parve cake for my wedding. I wanted it to be vegan and free of chemicals or additives. I was already a longtime devotee of Cinnamon Snail’s truck, but I discovered online that Cinnamon Snail made wedding cakes, too. I knew I had found my baker.
The author’s Harissa Chili, inspired by the recipe in Einat Admony’s “Balaboosta” cookbook. Photograph by Gayle L. Squires.
Having become a well-practiced apartment mover over the past few years, I’ve learned that the best way — literally and figuratively — to warm your house is to cook and then share with friends. Sure, the last few days before a move and the first few days after it are all about take-out, delivery and treating yourself to that restaurant that just opened, which you’ve been wanting to try. But once the boxes dwindle and your kitchen no longer resembles a yard sale, getting back in front of the stove just feels so good.
After my last move, my housewarming meal was a chili Shabbat dinner. The recipe is below, but here’s the gist: first, sauté ground beef and lamb in a pot so hot it sizzles. Remove the cooked meat and place it into a bowl –— how proud are you that you can now find your bowls? — and then melt down (in the same pot) the aromatics and stir in some canned tomatoes and beans. The kick comes from North African harissa chili paste and a smidge of chipotle pepper. The most important part of the recipe, of course, is inviting over a few friends — the ones who are close enough that they’re not fazed by climbing over the last lingering boxes or pouring salt out of the container because you can’t find the shaker — to devour the entire pot of chili with a bottle or two of wine.
What better way to break in new digs than by inviting friends for a warm bowl of homey goodness? Photograph by Gayle L. Squires.
This recipe is adapted from the spicy chili in Einat Admony’s “Balaboosta.” To make my life easier, I used cans where I could: canned kidney beans instead of dried; canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I also replaced merguez sausage with ground lamb because it’s easier to find.
The heat in the chili comes from the North African spice paste harissa. Since the spiciness of harissa can vary, use a light touch initially — you can always add more later. I like to serve this on top of wheat berries, but you can use brown rice, barley, farro or your favorite grain.*
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground lamb
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can of chopped peeled tomatoes
-2-3 tablespoons harissa (depending on how spicy it is)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
About 4 cups water
2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1) Sauté. Heat a large heavy-bottom pot over high heat (no oil) — it’s ready when you drop a small piece of meat in and it sizzles very loudly. If the pot isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up boiling your meat instead of sautéing. Add the beef and lamb to the hot pot and sauté until browned. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Drain off any excess liquid, but leave all the good browned bits. Remove the meat and set aside.
2) Sauté again. Heat the olive oil in the emptied pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure not to burn it. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of harissa (you can add more later), cumin, chipotle, 2 tablespoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and water.
3) Simmer. Add the beans and bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours. After the first 30 minutes, taste for spice, stirring in extra harissa if you’d like more of a kick. Check the chili periodically, and if it looks dry, add some more water.
4) Serve. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with sliced scallion.
Gayle Squires is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Her path to the culinary world is paved with tap shoes, a medical degree, business consulting and travel. She has a knack for convincing chefs to give up their secret recipes. Her blog is KosherCamembert.
The popular smoked-fish store just added Jewish classics such as smoked meats, kasha varnishkes and kugel. Photograph courtesy of Shelsky’s.
Fans of Shelsky’s, the always-mobbed Brooklyn smoked-fish emporium, are getting even more to fress.
Starting today, the white-tiled appetizing shop will expand its menu to include classic deli sandwiches, Ashkenazi side dishes and meats by the pound.
“It’s something we’ve always wanted to do,” owner Peter Shelsky told the Forward. “We’ve done smoked fish for a while. Now, we want to play both sides of the News York Jewish food game.”