Some of the traditions we learn as children carry with us through our entire lives. For me, that would definitely be my family’s love of baking, as well as the celebration of Jewish traditions. As the owner of Sweet Sally’s Bakeshop, I am able to honor both.
As a child, my Jewish upbringing revolved around food and family. The holidays were much anticipated celebrations that involved baking, eating and the joy of being together. In my home, friends were always welcome at the table, and the more the merrier. Jewish, non Jewish, it didn’t matter. All were welcome and all were lovingly introduced to the Jewish baking traditions that my Grama Gracie brought to the table.
This summer wasn’t kind to New York restaurant lovers.
In June, Wylie Dufresne announced that he’d be closing the doors of his pioneering modernist restaurant WD50. Soon after, Danny Meyer said that Union Square Café would be leaving its original location when its lease expired at the end of the year.
Finally, some good news. At a moment when real estate always seems to trump tradition, Junior’s Cheesecake owner Alan Rosen has broken from the pack. Yesterday he announced that after much deliberation and a visit to his therapist, he would be turning his back on a $45 million offer to sell the building that houses the Flatbush flagship, which opened in 1950, because it did not include a crucial provision for the restaurant to reopen within the same footprint after construction.
“I’m not just running a restaurant,” Rosen explains. “I’m running something that has such a heritage and such a tradition for so many people here in Brooklyn, that it just can’t be replaced.”
Michael Harlan Turkell
As a kid growing up on New York’s Upper East Side, I had appetizing envy. My West Side friends had Zabar’s, Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, and Barney Greengrass.
Downtown, of course, there was Russ & Daughters.
Sure, there were a few Jewish delis like P.J. Bernstein’s, and eventually fancier shops like Sable’s, but we didn’t have the kind of legendary appetizing establishments that other, luckier, neighborhoods had.
Finally, the Upper East Side has arrived. (And alas, I’ve long since moved to another appetizing wasteland, West Harlem.)
Russ & Daughters, which has occupied the same space on East Houston Street for 100 years, yesterday announced a partnership with the Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, where it will open a 75-seat, sit-down kosher café and take-out retail counter in the Museum’s lower level.
It’s a great shidduch,” said Niki Russ Federman, 4th Generation owner of Russ & Daughters.
“We’re delighted to bring a unique and authentic piece of New York City’s cultural and culinary heritage and history from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side,” added Josh Russ Tupper, 4th Generation owner of Russ & Daughters.
No doubt Upper East Siders are equally delighted. The café and shop are scheduled to open in early 2015.
I’ve long felt a special kinship with Joan Rivers.
Not because we were both Jewish, but because we shared a Jewish sense of humor — no matter how bad things could get, we always found the funny in it.
The first time I almost met Joan was on a flight to San Francisco. I was on book tour and, in those heydays of publishing, sat in first class. I had ordered a vegetarian meal, having learned as a food person that when ordering a special meal more effort usually went into it. Joan was sitting behind me and noticed what I was eating. She asked the flight attendant how she could get a special meal and he explained it had to be ordered in advance. I wanted so much to talk to her and explain how it worked but I was too shy.
The second time, however, I found my voice through a somewhat ridiculous incident that I have never had the courage to write about before. But since it showed me what a warm and supportive person Joan Rivers was, now seems like the time to share it.
I was in the prep kitchen of NBC making pastries for my appearance on the Today Show for the “Pie and Pastry Bible.” Someone on the show announced that Brad Pitt was to be the next guest so when the door bell rang I stopped what I was doing and went running to the door, opened it. Instead of Brad Pitt, it was Joan Rivers! (I hadn’t realized that Brad’s appearance was being done remotely.)
I didn’t want Joan to see disappointment in my eyes so I exaggerated my greeting crying out “It’s Joan Rivers!”
She entered the prep area, looked at the apple pie I was styling and then went off to makeup. My appearance was to follow hers but when I went into the makeup room she was still in the chair and I could hear her saying to the makeup artist with great enthusiasm: “Just wait until you see Rose Levy Beranbaum’s desserts!”
I couldn’t believe that she would remember my name or that she would be so impressed by my baking. And I’ve loved her ever since.
This post originally appeared on Real Baking With Rose Levy Beranbaum. An interview with Rose to discuss her new cookbook, “The Baking Bible,” will appear on the blog next week”
Pho-chicken soup with kreplach dumplings / Vered Guttman
You could always tell the time of year by looking at my Polish grandmother Rachel’s chicken soup: If it was served with bubelach (egg pancakes) or home made lokshen (she used to fry dozens of thin omelets and slice them, very very slowly, to thin lokshen) you knew it was Passover. Kneidlach were served on just any Shabbat, and kreplach, chicken liver filled dumplings, were saved for the high holidays.
Kreplach involve a lot of work, kneading and rolling the dough, making the stuffing and shaping each dumpling. My grandmother did not believe in short-cuts and the kreplach were served only a few times a year. “We’ve been waiting for this a whole year!” she used to say in her almost perfect Hebrew.
But I’m lazy. I do make kibbeh soups, but kreplach seemed too much. Then I found the wonton wrappers, which are available in every Asian grocery store across the U.S. These come in a square or round shape, just the right size for kreplach. They’re easy to fold, fill and shape, and the wrappers are thin and let the filling take the lead.
To match the Chinese theme of the kreplach-dumplings I made a pho-inspired chicken soup. Pho is a wonderful aromatic Vietnamese soup; it is beef-based and spiced with star anise and cinnamon. The version below is a nod to the Vietnamese soup and the Polish tradition.
Pho-chicken soup with kreplach dumplings
You can make the soup up to three days in advance, and the dumplings a day in advance.
Wonton wrappers (dumpling wrappers) are available in the fridge or freezers of any Asian supermarket.
For the dried mushroom you can use any variety, including those found in the Asian markets (do not use porcini though, their strong flavor will overpower the soup).
Star anise is available in some health supermarkets, and in any Asian market.
(Haaretz) — Dip with labneh (sour yogurt cheese) and pomegranate molasses.
Yields 2 cups of dip
1 large eggplant 4 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling juice of ½ lemon 1 garlic clove, minced Kosher salt to taste 1½ cups Labneh 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses Pita chips or veggies for serving.
1. Steam eggplant as directed in the eggplant and yogurt soup above. Alternatively, you can also roast the eggplant whole either in a 450 degrees oven for half an hour or over open flame until the eggplant is soft and shows no resistance when you press it with your finger. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant.
Put the eggplant flesh in a bowl, mash it with a fork to an almost smooth consistency, add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste.
Spoon labneh into a wide serving bowl and spread with a spoon in circular motion (as you would with hummus). Spoon eggplant in the center and gently mix it with labneh, only half way, leaving some unmixed labneh. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and olive oil and serve with pita chips.
(Haaretz) — Growing up in Israel, it’s natural for me to love eggplants. So much, that I almost take it personally when I hear (all too often) my American friends saying it’s their least favorite vegetable.
In my opinion, there are two common mistakes with dealing with eggplants that prevent people from revealing their true deliciousness. First, the classic, purple-black large eggplants tend be bitter, especially when they are filled with seeds. To avoid this you need to treat the eggplants before cooking. It’s easy to do. Simply slice the eggplants as needed for your recipe, put in a colander over a large bowl and sprinkle every layer with a generous amount of kosher salt. Let stand for at least thirty minutes, wash with water, dry with paper towels and you’re ready to go. Another method it to soak the eggplant in salted water, but you need to take into consideration that the eggplant will absorb the water, which may not work well for your recipe.
The other common unforgivable mistake, one that I see everywhere, is not cooking the eggplant all the way, leaving the vegetable a little raw. A fully cooked (or fried, or grilled) eggplant should show no resistance to the touch. If it does, it’s not ready yet, and it would be like serving half raw potatoes. Terrible. No wonder so many people are turned off.
But when eggplants are done right, they’re outstanding. The flesh becomes almost sweet. Just try this simple Iraqi breakfast staple: Peel one regular eggplant, slice to 1/3 inch slices, put in a colander with salt (as described above), let stand for half an hour, wash and dry. Heat corn oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and fry the eggplant slices patiently until they’re golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined tray (to absorb the oil) and eat. It’s best on a slice of challah with nothing else.
Eggplant and yogurt is a classic refreshing combination. Here in a cold yogurt soup spiced with ginger and in a dip with labneh (sour yogurt cheese) and pomegranate molasses.
It’s a sad day for kosher pastry and cake lovers: after nearly a century of operations, the Entenmann’s factory on Long Island is shutting its doors.
“I’m going to miss going to work,” Joseph Fiorento, 76, of Bay Shore, told Newsday. Fiorentino started working at the factory in 1954 and was laid off in August when the factory closed. In 2004, to recognize 40 years of service, the Entenmann’s family gave him an engraved watch with his name to celebrate.
William Entenmann opened his first bakery in 1898 on Rogers Ave. in Flatbush, Brooklyn. His son moved the family operations to a bakery on Main Street in Bay shore in 1924.
Entenmann’s revolutionized the way baked goods were packed. In 1959, William Entenmann’s grandsons and his daughter developed a transparent box to display their goods — the idea was that people would be more likely to buy the product if they could inspect the quality themselves.
In 1961, the Entenmann’s opened their factory on the Bay Shore’s Fifth Ave, which employed 1,500 workers at its height in the 1990s. The company’s baked goods were certified kosher in the 1980s.
“Entenmann’s hired generations of local families,” Susanne Ankner, 56, said to Newsday. “Most people would say they were all grateful to have that job because it was a good-paying job and people were well provided for.”
On August 13, the Bay Shore factory stopped production.
“The bakery was closed because it can no longer effectively compete in the market,” said David Marguiles, spokesman for Bimbo Bakeries USA, which bought Entenmann’s in 2009. Rising taxes, fuel prices, and electricity costs in Long Island forced the closure.
But don’t fret too much — your local grocery stores will most likely still stock Entenmann’s kosher goodies, most likely from the 75 other manufacturing facilities nationwide.
Kramer and her business partner ate at Haj Kalil, an Arab restaurant in Jaffa, Israel. / Photo courtesy of Sara Kramer
Sara Kramer is not the first busy New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast. But she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar, Middle Eastern herbs, in her suitcase.
Until February of this year, Kramer, 28, was the executive chef at Glasserie, a celebrated Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant in Brooklyn that she co-founded. Now, she and her business partner (and former Glasserie sous chef) Sarah Hymanson, plan to open two new restaurants in Los Angeles — a downtown falafel and sandwich shop first, and later, an upscale-but-approachable shared plates eatery that will draw on flavors and ingredients from the same region.
Kramer’s restaurants are part of the burgeoning New Middle Eastern food movement, which has introduced ingredients like labneh cheese and pomegranate molasses to home cooks’ pantries, and vaulted chefs like Philadelphia’s Michael Solomonov (who owns the restaurant Zahav) and London’s Yotam Ottolenghi (co-author of the best-selling 2012 cookbook “Jerusalem”) into superstardom. In Los Angeles, Kramer’s work is preceded by chef Micah Wexler, whose modern Mediterranean restaurant, Mezze, was a hit with critics and diners until it closed in 2012.
On the face of it Kramer’s decision to uproot her life might seem spontaneous. Raised in Manhattan, she has deep personal and professional ties to the city. Furthermore, she started Glasserie just one year ago.
In an interview with Grub Street last February, she hinted that creative differences with Glasserie co-founder Sara Conklin were proving insurmountable. Relocating to California offers Kramer a chance to cook on her own terms. (The fact that her boyfriend is originally from Los Angeles sweetens the deal.)
In addition, Los Angeles’s sultry climate and its proximity to abundant produce year-round make it a better fit for her Mediterranean-focused vision. “We are interested in getting food straight from the source,” she said. “And the variety of produce at the farmers markets in California far surpasses what you find in New York.” From its date farms to its perfect tomatoes, “it just makes sense to make this kind of food here,” she said of her new home.
For several years, a key part of our Shabbat has been the weekly journey to the farmer’s market to pick up our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. Beginning in early July and lasting until approximately mid-September (if we are lucky), freshly picked corn on the cob is the centerpiece of our share. We plan Saturday dinners around it. The meal begins with Mr. Matt’s corn (in my son’s parlance), and is built from there with veggie burgers for protein. If we are really lucky, we have also received beets with good greens in our share that we can use.
As far as we are concerned, the corn we get from our share is by far the best corn we can get–and we take our corn very seriously indeed. It is literally picked the day before and we’ve learned to cook it that very night (Saturday) for the best taste. We don’t even need to put any butter on it at all. It is that sweet.
It was almost too good to be true. My son, from the moment he started eating solids, seemed willing to eat pretty much anything. I remember it being a few months before his second birthday when my husband and I marveled at the fact that he had a more versatile palate than most of the children we knew, many of whom were years older. In fact, on one occasion, after dining out with a couple whose sons wrote the book on pickiness, we actually had the gall to (privately) criticize our friends for letting their children get away with eating nothing but macaroni and cheese most nights during the week.
Yes, we certainly were spoiled back then. And naive.
Now that he’s lost his place in politics, Anthony Weiner has taken up… cooking?
The disgraced former Democratic Congressman from New York City is lending his support to Rockaway Restoration Kitchen, a new non-profit restaurant and job training center, according to the Rockaway Times.
The new eatery will serve up healthy nosh and offer food service training for disadvantaged residents of Rockaway, a neighborhood in New York City devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Down on his luck politically, Weiner is now trying to give a leg up to struggling New Yorkers. The non-profit plans to train up to 150 unemployed residents each year who struggle to keep jobs because of jail time, health problems, or drug abuse, according to its website.
Though Weiner is not publicly associated with the restaurant, he has apparently been working behind the scenes to find the eatery a space to call home.
The non-profit restaurant is also seeking an executive director, though Weiner does not appear to have taken that job.
Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after it became known that he was sending sexually-explicit photos and messages to younger women online. He later attempted a political comeback in the 2013 New York City mayoral race, but was forced to eat crow after further explicit messages came to light.
The restauranteur streak seems to run in the family — Weiner’s brother owns two restaurants in New York City – though this seems to be Weiner’s first attempt in the food service industry.
But others have tried to yoke his name to food before. An Illinois hot dog company announcedin August 2013 that it would begin selling a new brand of hot dogs called “Carlos Danger Weiners,” named after the alias Weiner used in his online escapades.
No word yet on whether Weiner’s new restaurant will be serving frankfurters.
Courtesy of the Food Network
Just as Beethoven lost his hearing and could still make beautiful music, Tanya Solomon proved that she can cook a damn fine pork dish even though she can’t sample it.
That’s how the San Francisco resident and member of Adath Israel Congregation explained her triumph on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” winning $20,000 on the Food Network show.
The caterer and mother of two won without tasting a single bite of what she made.
Solomon has an unusual background for a kosher caterer. The Walnut Creek native — who was raised Catholic — worked as a nanny for an Orthodox Jewish family many years ago. After attending culinary school, she returned to the Bay Area, became a personal chef, and then a caterer. Since she was already familiar with kashrut, it wasn’t a leap for her to start a kosher catering business. And the longer she did that, well, the inevitable happened.
At Adath Israel — where her kitchen was — “I was looking at Shabbos and yom tovs, and suddenly felt, “I have a Jewish neshama [soul]. I’m Jewish, there’s no denying it,” she said.
She went through a Conservative conversion, and is in the process of obtaining an Orthodox one. She is living an observant life, having met her husband on frumster.com, a website that matches observant Jews.
Solomon was on the radar of casting agents because of her participation in a short-lived NBC cooking program. No doubt her 5-foot-10 height, purple hair peeking out from beneath her snood and oversized personality all helped.
Once notified that she would be on the show, Solomon consulted Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton of the Vaad HaKashrus of Northern California, who told her besides not tasting the food, there were two other things she could not do: She was not allowed to cook meat with dairy or cook fish with meat. While kosher law dictates it’s permissible to eat fish at a meat meal, it is forbidden to cook them together. Strangely, it was permissible for her to cook traif.
Like “Chopped,” its better-known cousin, “Guy’s Grocery Games” starts with four contestants. The competitors have to run around a studio fashioned like a grocery store, pushing carts to collect their ingredients after they hear what the challenge is, with a total of 30 minutes to “shop” and cook their dish.
Dan Peretz // Haaretz
(Haaretz) — Danny Phillips’ knafeh place was supposed to satisfy practically every sector in this postmodern world of multiple identities and conflicts. There’s a menu based almost entirely on knafeh – one of the best loved of local foods – put together after extensive research, that gives pride of place to an ancient recipe. He uses local ingredients, including kadaif noodles made by a small local producer from the Nazareth area and cheeses from small boutique dairies. Prices are reasonable (“Knafeh is a food that makes people happy, so everyone should be able to afford to buy it,” declares the optimistic entrepreneur). And there are special items for vegans or customers with special health needs.
But there are those for whom the knafeh place Phillips opened in Jaffa’s Noga neighborhood exemplifies the bourgeois Jewish influx that is pushing some Arab residents out of the mixed city. And there is his audacity: Only an Englishman (Phillips was born in London in 1971) could come up with such completely unorthodox, savory versions of knafeh. Two dishes – knafeh with shakshouka (a nest of kadaif filled with Circassian cheese, tomatoes and egg yolks) and knafeh with spinach (a bed of noodles holds a mixture of feta cheese and spinach seasoned with sumac, lemon zest and cashew nuts) – aroused the ire of Hanin Majadala, a teacher of Arabic and an activist who lives in Jaffa.
The status she posted on her Facebook page on June 27 refers to both the Jewish-Arab and the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi conflicts, to the terrible crimes, in her view, being committed against the traditional dessert: “A post about how incredibly shameless Ashkenazim are. Knafeh. An Arab dessert. Not Mediterranean, not Mediterranean basin… Arab, asli, baladi, rasmi… the audacity and chutzpah have gone up yet another notch. Brace yourselves for Ashkenazi knafeh in Jaffa. The nerve, to open places selling Arab food and Arab desserts but with a Western twist. On the menu: Shakshuka on a bed of knafeh – so disgusting. No Arab would open a restaurant serving Ashkenazi food with an Arab twist, because we have self-respect first of all and respect for others, which you all are lacking. Nor are we lacking for good food, so we have no need to go out and adopt and steal the foods of others. And your food doesn’t taste good anyway.”
The status got 376 likes, 150 comments and 46 shares, and – whether for its bluntness or for how it underscored some painful issues – aroused a lot of stormy online discussion. The arguments that she and others raised related to socioeconomic matters, but also – as with the fierce debate over hummus and other Middle Eastern foods that are becoming part of Israeli cuisine – to issues of belonging and appropriation.
Since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began I have taken a break from my almost daily social media posts about chocolate. I want to mourn the devastation of the war. I want to respect the sacrifices being made by those in the Israel Defense Forces, their families and the entire country. I want to honor the injuries and the loss of life throughout in the conflict. Chocolate seems frivolous during such tragic events.
For the past three years, Jesse Friedman and Laura Hadden have been on a quest to explore world cuisine from their modest kitchen in Brooklyn. The married couple is the force behind United Noshes, a project to throw a dinner party featuring the culinary offerings of each of the 193 member states and 2 permanently observing non-members of the United Nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Every month, Hadden and Friedman research recipes, gather ingredients, and prepare two to three feasts to represent the selected countries, going in roughly alphabetical order. Friedman does much of the cooking while Hadden documents the feast and entertains the guests. When possible, they solicit help from people familiar with a country’s culture and good.
It’s a project that stretches Friedman and Hadden’s taste buds and cooking prowess, but it also has another added benefit: Forming a loose community of people who love culinary experimentation. Old friends and new ones join the parties, as well as foodies who find out about the project and sign up for the newsletter. The price of admission is a donation to the World Food Program, a humanitarian organization fighting world hunger. Some 500 people have signed up for the newsletter, and Friedman and Hadden have thrown United Noshes events in Boston, D.C., Seattle, and the Bay Area, as well. At Friedman and Hadden’s 83rd party, a celebration of Israeli and Palestinian cuisine, the guests included a handful of writers, a ballet dancer, and an analytics expert, all there to sample offerings that included lamb kebabs, homemade hummus, and rugelach.
“We hit upon the idea because it combined two things we’re interested in,” Friedman said. “Exploring international dishes and meeting new people. We’ve met hundreds of people who are adventurous enough to try what we’re cooking. In New York, people tend not to visit each other in their homes. We wanted to open ours up.”
I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 12 years old, much to my mother’s dismay, and maintained my meat-free diet for almost 15 years, during which time I never missed poultry or beef for even a moment. I decided to start eating meat again when my husband and I began dating seriously. The decision arose partially out of a sudden low-grade gluten intolerance that forced me to reevaluate my diet, and partially out of solidarity for my husband’s meat-eating ways.
See, my husband loves meat, so much so that his idea of a great sandwich is a corned beef-pastrami combo wrapped in turkey rather than bread. Give him a plate full of nothing but steak, and he’ll scarf it down. At barbecues, my husband has been known to devour enough hot dogs to rival those who compete at Coney Island. And when he needs an afternoon pick-me-up, he’ll comb through the fridge in search of leftover chicken rather than opt for the more-accessible items out on the counter.
Smoked fish platter at People’s Eatery // Photo by Adrian Ravinsky
Now, you can add Jewish-Chinese to the mix. Just-opened Peoples Eatery is drawing on the divergent food culture of Spadina Avenue — once the heart of Jewish Toronto, now a main artery through Chinatown — for its menu, according to partner Adrian Ravinsky.
“The past is the Jewish part of it. We’re resurrecting what Spadina once was with deli and appetizer cultures represented on the menu,” he said. “The present is the Chinese and East Asian food. The future is where anything goes, culturally, and the menu does that too.”
Think oversized platters of Peking Duck or smoked fish, small plates of potato knish, whitefish salad, and “General Tso-Fu” soy, with watermelon salad, dosa, and sabich thrown in for good measure. “It’s definitely an oddball selection,” Ravinsky said. “But it’s never fusion. Those elements never make it onto the same plate. They’re placed alongside one another.”
Many of us raising families and managing full time jobs have ideals about family time, environmental responsibility and Jewish engagement. These are things we know are really important both for the cohesion of our families and for the long term viability of our communities. Truly though, in trying to get it all done, these values get pushed aside as we attend to the immediate needs of scheduling and then living the rat race that we so carefully planned for ourselves. I know that we need more down time, that we need to cherish food and family, and work towards meaningful spiritual engagement, but I have difficulty making those ideals fit into the teetering Jenga structure that is my work / life / family / community balance.
Enter Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and you get to peek into a community that operates the way life would be lived, if our values and priorities matched up.
Photo: New York Neon Blog
Earlier this month, renovators uncovered the sign for an old Jewish Delicatessen behind a closing bodega at 2705 Broadway, according to New York Neon.
Classic Art Deco lettering in blue porcelain letters contrasts with a white background. Its blue neon lights are long gone, but the nostalgia remains.
Although the name in the left corners of the sign is obscured, a search through old telephone directories revealed that B. Hudes and Sons owned the deli back in the 1930s and ‘40s, making the sign around 75 years old.
In 1942, one of the “sons,” Max Hudes, moved on to operate the famous Carnegie Deli. He was the second owner, reported Eating In Translation, and wanted to try his hand at a sit-down delicatessen, instead of his old takeout-only at 2705 Broadway.
“The neighborhood is changing so much, so quickly… to have the history unveiled like this is very exciting,” preservationist and photographer Everett Scott said to pix11.
After Hudes Delicatessen closed, it merged with the space next door and reopened as the Olympia Superette, which lasted for several years. Most recently, the Grocery & Flower occupied the space. That business recently folded — once the Grocery & Flower’s signage was torn down, Hudes Delicatessen was revealed.
The future of the sign remains a mystery. Does it deserve to be scrapped or preserved?