Imagine you’re a kosher traveler sightseeing in Croatia and you’d like to make sandwiches for a picnic lunch. How would you know which bread is kosher, or which jam to look for on the store shelf? You probably wouldn’t have a clue.
Until now, kosher shopping posed a real challenge to those unfamiliar with European hekshers and local kosher food distribution networks. But all that is changing thanks to a massive online database of every kosher European food product — ever.
It’s not always easy to find products with various hekshers all listed together in one place. Fortunately for Jews Down Under, the Kashrut Authority of Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific Region has a website (promising “Keeping kosher made easy”) with just such a list. But in the United States, consumers have to search different authorities’ databases. For instance, the Orthodox Union’s database only contains OU authorized products.
“This online resource is a fantastic example of how modern technology can be used to make religious life a little easier,” said Conference of European Rabbis president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the new European list. “The project comes following a huge amount of hard work over recent months and we will of course continue to update and improve it.”
With more than 5,000 products listed, kosher eaters in Europe will not go hungry. You can buy kosher Knorr sauce to put on your kosher Buitoni pasta in just about any country on the continent. Sweet tooths can be indulged with kosher chocolate from famous confectioners like Lindt in many European countries.
And there is no need to call off that picnic you were hoping to have while touring Zagreb. Thanks to Croatia’s chief rabbi Dr. Kotel Da-Don, you’ll just need to consult your smart phone to be able to find more than twenty varieties of kosher jam (many of them local brands) for your sandwiches.
Whenever it snows I am a gleeful. I don’t care about tomorrow’s bad commute, slushy sidewalks or the big scar on my left knee from slipping during an icy walk two years ago. Snow days as an adult are rare, but I’ve managed to salvage that childhood excitement by turning to my kitchen, late at night for a special baking session. I imagine myself into Maurice Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen,” baking cookies in my PJ’s, running to the corner store in my mother’s old purple snow boots for some extra milk.
Just as the cookies come out of the oven, the nibbling starts. (I was never very good at waiting for things to cool.) Roommates and neighborhood friends are always invited — even if it’s late. The next morning, as the snow starts to turn to gray slush, I console myself with the lingering smell of sugar and chocolate — and a bite of last night’s snowy kitchen mischief.
Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Monster Cookies: In New York City, Levain Bakery’s cookies reign supreme — there is no better chocolate chip cookie. The 6 oz. monsters are perfectly crisp outside and gooey inside. While the exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, this one comes pretty darn close. For an extra touch, try adding chopped walnuts into the batter and a bit of sea salt atop the cookies while they’re cooling.
The first time I heard that Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala had adopted the “quenelle” as his trademark, my first thought was that the controversial French comedian had a strange affinity for fish.
That’s because a quenelle, in my mind, refers not to an anti-Semitic inverted Nazi salute, but to a delicious dish from the south of France. A specialty from Lyon, the quenelle is a dumpling-like mixture of minced fish (usually pike) or meat, combined with breadcrumbs, seasoning, butter and eggs, then rolled, poached and served with sauce (often lobster or crayfish-based, replace with dill or red pepper sauce for a kosher alternative).
Pope Francis treated a Jewish delegation from his native Argentina to a private lunch catered by one of Rome’s top kosher restaurants.
On Thursday, proprietors of the restaurant Ba’ Ghetto brought Roman Jewish specialties to the Vatican, where the pope hosted the group of rabbis and Jewish leaders at the Santa Marta guesthouse, his residence. A photograph showed the group seated at a round table covered with a white tablecloth. The menu included Jewish-style fried artichokes, anchovies and endive, sauteed zucchini and other foods.
Amit Dabush, a proprietor of Ba’ Ghetto, which sits in the heart of the city’s old Jewish ghetto, told ADNKronos that the pope tasted everything they brought.
“He told me that he really liked our pistachio mousse,” Dabush was quoted as saying.
The Argentine delegation, headed by the pope’s longtime friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, was at the Vatican to help mark the Roman Catholic Church’s annual “Day of Judaism,” which was initiated in the 1990s to foster Jewish-Catholic relations and help Catholics understand the Jewish roots of Christianity.
My new year’s resolution was not to eat bread that I didn’t make. Between December 31st and January 1st, this already proved too difficult, so I scaled it back to not purchasing bread. In other words, if I wanted bread, I’d have to make it.
I’ve already mastered my classic challah recipe (which is actually not classic because it’s vegan). What used to take me hours and hours of anxious waiting and careful kneading, I have now turned into a quick and easy Thursday night dough making, and a pre-Shabbat braiding that takes less than an hour including 30 minutes in the oven. And every time, people can’t believe that I actually made my own bread.
Sherryl Betesh’s Kibbe Nabelsieh: Meat-Filled Bulgur Shells
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups fine bulgur wheat
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
Lemon wedges, for serving
How will smoked meat taste at 30,000 feet?
Itinerant fressers at Toronto Pearson International Airport will soon find out.
Caplansky’s, the wildly successful deli empire founded by Canuck cured-beef maven Zane Caplansky, has unveiled plans for two concessions inside Pearson, Canada’s busiest air-travel hub.
Caplansky, who’s gone from one-man pop-up to culinary celebrity, will open Caplansky’s Deli, “a traditional Jewish deli offering breakfast plates, heaping deli sandwiches and home-style dinner entrees, as well as Caplansky’s Snack Bar, featuring simmering hot sandwiches made-to-order and other grab and go snacks,” according to an announcement from HMS Host, which manages food and beverage operations at the airport. The new outlets are slated to open early 2015.
It’s part of a huge expansion of food offerings at Pearson; Caplansky will join star chefs like Susur Lee and Mark McEwan, both of whom are overseeing brand extensions there. The culinary stars have been recruited by one of their own: Roger Mooking, a Toronto chef and television personality, who got the plum assignment of choosing purveyors for Pearson from HMS Host.
Five months ago I moved from downtown Brooklyn to a farm in a small town on the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, population approximately four Jews (read: not enough Jews to support a local deli or even a Zomick’s presence at the town Target). Having lived in or near a city for my entire life, it didn’t occur to me that a town could exist without a pastrami sandwich or a place to get a bagel. But here, there is not a matzo ball in sight.
Celebrating my Jewishness in a sea of Scandinavians (and Midwesterners) has been a wild and rewarding adventure.
(JTA) — Mark Bittman is not a religious man by any stretch of the imagination, least of all his own.
A longtime food writer for The New York Times who three years ago shifted from cooking to food policy columnist, Bittman has made a living eating the kinds of things frowned upon by Jewish tradition.
As he told me recently, “Pork cooked in milk is an amazing dish.”
Though he was born and raised a Jew – going to synagogue, religious school and Reform youth groups at Manhattan’s East End Temple – Bittman says he pretty much has had nothing to do with Judaism since he graduated from high school in 1967.
But read his columns on food sustainability and the book he published last April, “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health… for Good,” and you might see some religious echoes in Bittman’s food philosophy.
The crogel is here. You can’t say you didn’t see it coming, what with all the hype last summer about the cronut. If someone could think of crossing a croissant with a donut, then it’s obvious someone else was eventually going to come up with a croissant-bagel hybrid.
We can thank Stew Leonard’s, the family-owned supermarket chain with four stores in Connecticut and New York, for the crogel. Stew Leonard’s has been baking croissants for thirty years, but on January 8, a baker named Tanya at the chain’s Norwalk store came up with the idea of marrying the French pastry with the Jewish roll-with-the-hole.
The baker took some regular croissant dough, fashioned it in to a bagel shape, kettle boiled it and then hearth baked it. And voilà — the crogel: crispy on the outside and flaky and buttery on the inside.
All good Jewish kids know that nothing beats your bubbe’s brisket.
That heartwarming philosophy is basically the premise of Mo Rocca’s cooking show, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli, ” which pays tribute to the culinary wizards behind each family’s recipes.
Wine may have been produced in the land of Israel since biblical times, but Israel’s wine industry is relatively new and it’s growing handsomely. Last week’s Sommelier Wine Expo in Tel Aviv offered an excellent opportunity to drink (and drink to) the wines of country’s budding boutique wineries.
We tasted, sipped, swirled wine in our glasses and narrowed it down to our three favorite wineries and one award-winning boutique liquor. We can’t wait to putt these bottles on our table. You’re unlikely to find these products being sold in too many places outside Israel — in fact, you’re unlikely to find them outside specialty wine stores even within Israel — but keep your eyes open, the search is half the fun.
JTA — Most Girl Guide cookies have been certified kosher in Canada following the efforts of an all-Orthodox troop.
When the 31 Jewish girls established the 613th Thornhill Pathfinder Unit in Thornhill, Ontario, a heavily Jewish suburb north of Toronto, the first question member Sara Silverman asked was, “When do we start selling cookies?” according to the Girl Guides of Canada. But the troop could not bring the cookies into the synagogue where they met.
The unit “badly wanted to raise funds for Girl Guides and for camps, trips and other activities,” noted the Guides this week on its website. The unit’s leader wrote the organization, asking how to make the iconic treats kosher.
The Guides said they worked closely with the cookies’ manufacturer, Dare Foods Ltd., and found there was nothing unkosher about the ingredients in their classic chocolate and vanilla cookies sold in the spring.
All that was required was formal certification. Recently, the Guides confirmed that the spring cookies would be certified under the auspices of the Orthodox Union, or O.U.
The process was “a relatively simple and fiscally feasible endeavor,” the Guides said.
There will be no similar fate for the time being for the group’s chocolate mint cookies, sold in the fall, because of non-kosher ingredients in their coating, the group said.
“It feels like our unit has made a difference,” Avigail Rucker, a 12-year-old Guide, told The Canadian Jewish News.
All Girl Scout cookies in the United States have been kosher for at least 20 years, said organization spokesman Stewart Goodbody.
When you turn on the weather and hear phrases like “dangerous deep freeze” and “the coldest day on record” there’s really only one thing to do — drag your biggest, heaviest soup pot out of the cupboard, fill it with your favorite meats and veggies and start simmering something, warm, fragrant and delicious.
While we all enjoy a big bowl of matzo ball soup, the Jewish love affair with the ladle isn’t limited to sinkers and floaters. Below are our favorite non-traditional Jewish soups. Tell us about yours in the comments!
Einat Admony’s Tangy Chamusta Soup: Kurdish Jews weather the season with bowls of tangy chicken broth with semolina and beef dumplings, ribbons of Swiss chard and enough lemon juice to fight off any oncoming cold.
Yemini Jews, who set up simple eateries in Israel after settling there in the 1950s, are famous for their soups and stews, skillfully using bones, cheap cuts of meat and various spices to get a real intensity of flavor. This particular soup is what we cook to brighten up a dreary winter’s night. It is fantastic! If you like, consider adding ground cinnamon as Aleppian Jews do in a very similar soup. A few marrow bones won’t go amiss either.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ of a small head of celery root, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
20 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound stewing meat from lamb (or beef if you prefer), cut into 1-inch cubes
7 cups water
½ cup dried Cannellini or pinto beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water, then drained
7 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon caster sugar
9 ounces Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potato, peeled and cut into ¾ inch salt and black pepper
bread to serve
lemon juice for serving
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion and celery root over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic cloves and cumin and cook for a further 2 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.
Place the meat and water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming the surface frequently until you get a clear broth. Add the onion and celery root mix the drained beans, cardamom, turmeric, tomato paste, and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
Add the potatoes to the soup and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring back to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and beans are tender. The soup should be thick. Let it bubble away a bit longer, if needed, to reduce, or add some water. Taste and add more seasoning to your liking. Serve the soup with bread and some lemon juice and fresh chopped cilantro, or zhoug.
“Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”
Einat’s Notes: Like a few other recipes in this book, I owe this one to my friend Guy. If I get mad at Guy, all I need to do is eat his amazing chamusta, and I soon forget why I was upset. Chamusta is a Kurdish sour soup that’s traditionally served with a semolina dumpling stuffed with minced meat. My recipe turns the dumpling inside out, creating a meatball with semolina inside. Baharat is an Israeli spice blend; make my version or look for it in ethnic markets.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
½ bunch Swiss chard (about 2 ½ cups), coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4 to 6 lemons)
6 cups chicken stock
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
½ cup semolina flour
1 medium yellow onion, grated
2 cloves Roasted Garlic (see below), finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Baharat (see below)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
½ teaspoon chile flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the garlic, celery, and leek. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock. Stir in the turmeric and sugar and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the kebabs: Combine all the ingredients except the canola oil in a large bowl and roll the meat mixture into kebabs the size and shape of your thumb (you should be able to make about 16). Heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat for 5 minutes, then add the canola oil. Grill the kebabs for 3 minutes on each side.
To serve, put the kebabs at the bottom of a shallow bowl and top with a few ladles of chamusta.
The traditional way to roast garlic is in the oven. But here’s an easier version: peel the bulb ahead of time instead of after and then braise it in oil. I didn’t forget to put any quantities in this recipe. Roast as many garlic cloves as you’d like.
Peel each garlic clove and place it in a saucepan. Pour in just enough canola oil to cover the cloves completely. Place the pan over a very low—and I mean low—flame. Simmer until the garlic cloves are tender and brown spots start to appear, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before transferring the garlic to an airtight container with just enough oil to cover the cloves.
I store the roasted garlic in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. And I never throw away the rest of the oil, because it’s great for brushing on slices of ciabatta right before grilling them. Just make sure to store the oil in the refrigerator as well, and this will keep much longer than a few weeks.
Makes about 1 1/3 cups
In arabic baharat means “spices” and refers to a blend of spices. This combination of spices, which can improve even the most inedible dishes, changes from region to region, from one dish to another; its use varies from lamb to fish, from chicken to pickles. Here is the combination of spices I prefer, and I think it goes with everything.
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons allspice
3 tablespoons ground coriander
5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon dried lemon zest (optional)
4 teaspoons dried ginger (optional)
Combine all the ingredients together until well mixed. Store in an airtight jar and keep away from direct sunlight.
Reprinted with permission from “The Mile End Cookbook.”
Author Rae Bernamoff: What I love about our updated version of this peasant soup is that it’s based on an actual beet broth—not beef stock, as in a lot of Russian borschts, and not even vegetable stock to which beets have been added. This is a really beet-y, and surprisingly hearty, borscht. And it’s completely vegetarian.
For the beet stock:
6 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound beets (about 2 medium beets), peeled and grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
4 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 Beefsteak or Jersey tomatoes, chopped
3 whole allspice berries
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 fresh bay leaf
2 or 3 sprigs of parsley
2 or 3 sprigs of dill
1 sprig of thyme
For the soup:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 bunch Tuscan kale or chard, thick stems removed, cut into ribbons
1 carrot, grated
¼ head of green cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, for serving
Crème fraîche, for serving
Make the beet stock: Combine all the stock ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours. When the stock is cool enough to handle, strain it through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the mixture to extract all the liquid. Discard the solids and set the stock aside; it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Make the Soup: Pour the oil into a large pot; place it over medium heat and add the kale, carrot, and cabbage. Cook, stirring frequently, until the kale and cabbage are al dente. Pour the reserved stock into the pot and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the borscht hot; finish each bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little crème fraîche.
Up until only very recently, I wouldn’t have had any problem with eating zucchini in January. I believed that a tomato was a tomato, a cucumber a cucumber, and a zucchini a zucchini, regardless of where it came from or what time of year it was. But this year, I decided to try to keep it local and seasonal. So while I should be curling up with a bowl of a rich winter squash soup and a mug of hot apple cider to wash it down, instead, I still have zucchini on my mind.
Why can’t I shake the zucchini, you ask? The story goes that this summer I committed to going to the farmers market each week and buying the majority of my produce there. And I wasn’t disappointed: the produce was so delicious, all on its own. Accordingly, I came home energized and excited to create and devour that evening’s meal. I cooked more than I had in a while. My favorite creation from the summer was a zucchini and ricotta galette. Perhaps what made it special was the delectability of the zucchini and its perfect pairing with the ricotta and sour cream-based crust. Or it could have been my sense of accomplishment after struggling with the dough in my un-air conditioned kitchen. But it might have also just been the company and sense of possibility on that summer evening.
JTA — In the elegant silence of a narrow street near the River Seine, David Moyal takes a breath of fresh winter air and enters a noisy restaurant in the French capital.
Inside Miznon, he is transported to another world, filled with the cacophony of Hebrew voices and Israeli music. A bustling new bistro that Moyal runs in the 4th arrondissement, Miznon is becoming hugely popular with Israelis and French Jews thanks to its Tel Aviv feel and audacious mission to pack Paris into a pita.
Inside, a few dozen customers are chatting and gesticulating while eating fusion dishes such as ratatouille with hummus, beef bourguignon with fried eggplant or a whole head of roasted cauliflower. Sometimes a staffer will spontaneously start drumming on pots to songs by Yehoram Ga’on or the Dorbanim as one of his colleagues doles out complimentary glasses of mint tea.
“As you can see, we were going for good service but with a healthy amount of Israeli ‘balagan,’ ” Moyal says, using the Hebrew slang word that translates roughly as “hullabaloo.”
Opened in October in the heart of the Marais, the historically Jewish district on the right bank of the Seine, Miznon is the brainchild of Eyal Shani, a well-known Israeli television chef who owns a successful restaurant by the same name in Tel Aviv.
“My vision is to take whole cities and translate them into one pita,” Shani says. “So in this case, to take Paris’ energies, its groove, its longings, its limitations, its beauty and its food, and express all of that in one pita.”
Miznon is not the only Israeli restaurant in the Marais to offer pita power for a couple of euros. Next door is L’As Du Fallafel (The Falafel Ace), a Parisian eatery whose devoted clientele and 35 years in existence have made it into something of an institution here.
Moyal, 32, says he is unfazed by the competition.
Mollie Katzen recently told a roomful of Google employees, who have wonderful meals prepared for them every day at work, to go home and cook.
Katzen was at the tech giant headquarters pushing her new cookbook, “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation.” It’s her 12th book published in the 40 years since she burst on the culinary scene with her seminal “Moosewood Cookbook.” Katzen spoke to the Googlers for 50 minutes, spending a full 15 of them parsing the book’s title.
This is the first time Katzen has used “vegetarian” on the cover of one of her books — and she purposely uses the word as an adjective and not a noun. “I personally choose to redefine it,” she says of the word. She wants people to stop using it to label people, and instead to start using it to describe the food on a plate.
“When someone sits down at your table and says they’re a vegetarian, they’re mainly making a statement about meat — as in, ‘I don’t want it, keep it away,’” she explains. “I have found so many self-described vegetarians for whom it has nothing, or very little, to do with vegetables.”