The best kind of Hanukkah gifts are those you can make and your friends eat. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.
Every holiday season, I don an apron and crank out huge batches of truffles, granola, chocolate bark and other edible treats as gifts. Besides the fact that homemade presents are a boon for my budget, I also like that they have a special, personal touch. I try something new each year and last year’s edible DIY project took the cake (err, cookie): Homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, along with a piece of nice chocolate.
If you’re anything like me, then the mere thought of homemade marshmallows knocks your socks off. Before seeing the recipe in Karen Solomon’s “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It”, I had only vague notions that marshmallows came from anywhere besides a plastic bag in the grocery store. But, like so many things, homemade marshmallows are a game changer.
For a bagel purist, the thought of a bagel burger is far from appetizing. Cream cheese, lox, fried eggs, and sometimes deli meat belong between two halves of a sliced bagel—but not a ground beef patty.
But if McDonald’s were to ever introduce a bagel burger, it would have to do so in New York, home of the world’s best bagel — right? Wrong. The fast food giant has debuted its bagel burger in France, home of the baguette and croissant, not the Jewish roll with the hole.
To add insult to injury, one of the three varieties of “Bagel Stories” they’re offering at McDo (as McDonald’s is popularly known in France) involves slices of — gasp! — bacon sandwiched somewhere between the two bagel halves.
“Good coffee” in Jerusalem. “It’s sort of a misnomer,” says Jerusalem resident and former barista Emunah Weisberg “People think Israel has a great coffee culture because Israelis are always sitting in cafes. But people are actually just drinking Nescafe and poorly pulled shots of espresso.”
The Wisconsin native launched At Home Café, a weekly pop-up café that she runs outside of her home in the funky Jerusalem neighborhood Nachlaot, after enduring two years without quality coffee since moving from the U.S.
The area, which is located next to the city’s Mahaneh Yehudah market and is known for its eclectic houses filled with artists and students, has become host to a vibrant underground food scene lately.
From pop-up cafes, microbreweries and a communal living room — Nachlaot is shaping up to be a microcosm of artisan foodies, bridging the gap between good food and community. Like Weisberg, many of these businesses were founded by individuals who simply wanted to provide quality products that they couldn’t find themselves.
After 75 years in business, New York’s Stage Delicatessen announced its closure today. For a deli world already used to deaths and disappearances, having seen thousands of landmarks wiped clean from our palate over the past decades, the end of the Stage plunges deep into the heart of deli lovers. The magnitude of its loss is incalculable. The significance is simply staggering.
Oh sure, in her later years she was easily dismissed as tired, failing, cranky, and limping along. Just a mere hint of her former greatness remained visible through the accumulated knickknacks and tchotchkes, and her telltale shtick. Once the talk of the town, now just seemed warmed over and rehashed for the tourist throngs, like a day old slice of salami repurposed into an omelet. They’ll say it hadn’t been the same for years, or even decades, and that her time was past, but they know in their hearts that even at this age, she was taken from us too soon.
Yes, there were older delicatessens, and bigger delicatessens, and, many will argue, better delicatessens than the Stage in its most recent incarnation. But there are few Jewish delis in America that were as influential to the evolution of the deli’s culture than the Stage. It was the deli that many others took their cues from, the deli that made the food famous, the place that Americanized the Jewish delicatessen.
New York is hosting the most bad ass latke throwdown there is. Serious Eats has some free tickets to win! [Serious Eats
Eight oil-fried gourmet foods for Hanukkah including: Panko latkes, Sweet potato parsnip latkes with feta and leeks, not to mention zeppole. YUM! [Food52]
Kutsher’s is serving eight different latkes for eight nights of Hanukkah. Offerings include pastrami smoked duck, pear butter, and sour cherry latkes” as well as a Peking duck, cucumber, scallion, and sesame hoisin variety on the last night. [Grub Street]
The 75-year-old Midtown landmark located just a couple of blocks from Carnegie Hall (and from its rival, the Carnegie Deli) still has its website — with tantalizing photos of overstuffed pastrami sandwiches, crunchy pickles, tangy coleslaw, and creamy cheesecakes — up, but now the food is only for looking at, not tasting. Gone are the sandwiches that gustatorily honored celebrity customers like Mel Brooks, Larry David, Katie Couric, Howie Mandel, Al Rocker, Cindy Adams and Dolly Parton.
“I beg to differ…what you have made is NOT a kugel.”
This is the opening line to a comment by Jezzie in Scottsdale, AZ in a recent New York Times article, named “Kugel Challenge.” What started out as simple question to replicate a quinoa kugel featured at a dinner has turned into one of the greatest comment battles about Jewish food in a while (read: since the annual High Holiday brisket and matzo ball soup discussions).
Martha Rose Shulman, of the “Recipes for Health” column of the Times offered five recipes for healthy, alternative grain kugels for this wary reader. Naturally, “healthy” and “alternative grains” have struck some serious cords within the Jewish (or otherwise) kugel-consuming communities out there.
This is how they’re doing matzo ball soup in San Francisco this year:
First, get an overnight delivery of wood pigeon flown in fresh from Scotland. Actually, first make sure the birds were shot in the wild. With tiny buckshot pellets. Then slow poach the breast meat in a sweet, salty brine. Give it a crust of black pepper and coriander.
For the broth, make it using the pigeon bones, then reduce it by half to make it oh-so rich. As for the matzo balls, construct them with homemade matzo, fresh local eggs, toasted caraway seeds and a touch of soda water.
And there you have it: “Wood pigeon pastrami with caraway dumplings in a double consommé” — or, as chef David Bazirgan calls it, “my take on matzo ball soup.”
This blog post is cross-posted from What Is Your Food Worth.
Ask anyone who’s the biggest macher on Philadelphia’s Jewish restaurant scene, and the answer is invariably the same: Chef Michael Solomonov.
Chef Solomonov is best known for Zahav, his shrine to modern Israeli cooking. But in recent years, he’s added Percy Street Barbecue and the Federal Donuts chicken-and-doughnut joints to his growing restaurant empire.
In early November, Chef Solomonov threw the doors open on his newest venture, the Main Line glatt kosher restaurant and catering company Citron and Rose. He’s re-imagining some kosher classics (chopped liver paired with sour cherry, chocolate and pumpernickel; cholent with crispy duck breast standing in for the classic beef or chicken) and even serving a few kosher cocktails (the Lower East Side, made with gin, cucumber and dill; the Reb Roy, with Manischewitz replacing the Rob Roy’s vermouth). Here’s a look at the complete dinner menu.
A constitutional court in Poland reportedly has ruled against allowing Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter in the country.
The Warsaw court’s ruling, which was made known on Tuesday, said the government had acted unconstitutionally when it exempted Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them as their faiths require, according to Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
Kadlcik told JTA that in addition to the special exception announced by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, is permissible under the 1997 Law on Regulating the Relations between the State and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
“It appears there is a legal contradiction here and it is too early to tell what this means,” he said. “We are seeking legal advice on this right now.”
Poland has approximately 6,000 Jews, according to the European Jewish Congress.
According to Kadlcik, Poland has no kosher slaughterhouses but locally slaughtered kosher meat is nonetheless served at kosher cantines across the country.
“I’m not sure we will be able to keep serving meat there,” he said.
Brassica and Brine isn’t a maritime law firm. But the Los Angeles company, which specializes in fermented vegetables, is judicious about preserving vegetables. Using produce sourced from local organic farmers, founder Uri Laio uses ancient, labor-intensive techniques to create kimchi, kraut, kombucha, pickled root veggies, and more. He’s earned a cult following in LA for an artisan spin on “lacto-fermentation”, a technique that supercharges both flavor and nutritional content. Laio, an Orthodox Jew, swapped law school for craft food production in 2010 after a stint on the Isabella Freedman Center’s Adamah Farm in Falls Village, CT. Adamah’s aim is to “cultivate the soil and the soul”; Laio’s own mission hews close to that ethos. “One of my goals in creating Brassica and Brine is to bring the most healing foods on earth into the Jewish community,” Laio, 29, told the Forward from Los Angeles. Brassica and Brine products, with their distinctive retro-cool labels, are available at LA foodie haven Farmshop, megamarket Western Kosher, and at local farmers’ markets. His full range is also available at Brassicaandbrine.com. Brassica, by the way, is the Latin name for cabbage.
My journey with the Paleo lifestyle began the day after Rosh Hashanah. I use the term ‘lifestyle’ rather than ‘diet’ for many reasons. Fully committing to this major lifestyle change was a tough choice for me. As a new year approaches, it is not uncommon to profess, “I’m going to start eating healthier, control my portions and make better choices”, “I’m going to eat less, move more and exercise regularly”. However, my resolution was: “I am going to try the Paleo lifestyle for a few weeks.”
What is the paleo diet exactly? Essentially, it is eating the foods that were eaten by our ancestors in the Paleolithic era. It’s part of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle meaning that the foods you are permitted to eat are: fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, lamb, poultry, and game meat), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Foods that are not considered part of the lifestyle are dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and other processed foods since these items were not part of our ancestral menu.
The atmosphere in Tel Aviv last week, as residents ran to bomb shelters in response to incoming missile warning sirens, was far from pleasant. So Danielle Levy, proprietor of I Love Cupcakes, did her part to try to lighten the tense mood that had settled over the city by offering her customers some Operation Pillar of Defense themed cupcakes.
“It was hard to live in Tel Aviv last week,” Levy told The Forward. “Everyone was very stressed. It was a big shock for everybody.” A few people had asked her to make cupcakes with army-themed decorations like little helmets, uniforms, and boots. However, she decided to go in a different direction and decorate her cupcakes in a way that would “make people smile, brighten their day.” The little doves, hearts, peace signs, Israeli flags and IDF insignia decorations were a gesture of moral support to the citizens and army of Israel. She even topped some cupcakes with miniature “Make cupcakes not war” signs.
But how did my family get so lucky that we are able to avoid this (great?) American pastime? And what will we be doing if not carving a twenty-pound bird and screaming at each other?
For as long as I have been conscious of Thanksgiving, my family has been making turkey-shaped pizza on the fourth Thursday of November. Apparently, there were some in my family who did not love the taste of turkey. So rather than deny the iconic status of this New World bird, my mother decided that a pizza created in its image would suffice (and ensure that her children could relate to American culture).
Jewish mixed marriages have been commonplace for decades, but they’re still more successful under the chuppa than they are in the kitchen. Claudia Roden dismissed the idea altogether in “The Book of Jewish Food,” writing “…there was no fusion of styles, no Ashkenazi-Sephardi hybrids, and no unifying element.”
This is such a hard and fast rule that when I got a letter asking me to help track down the origins of a long lost “Sephardic liver pie” recipe, I was utterly amazed, if not a little horrified.
“My grandmother Virginia usually served it at Thanksgiving,” wrote Alan Moskowitz, “and it was always referred to as stuffing.” Stuffing sounded so much more appealing than “liver pie,” and it did get me past my initial shock. The description was frankly mind-blowing, a cross between chopped liver on sourdough rye and mina, a light-textured, ground beef and matzah pie that’s as connected to the Ottoman Sephardic Passover meal as the Seder plate itself. He might as well have described a lasagna soufflé. Clearly this recipe was a deliberate fusion of the two cuisines.
With all the cooking that leads up to Thanksgiving — there turkey to prepare, cranberry sauce, all those pies and don’t forget the gravy — no one, not even the most dedicated cooks, wants to exert that energy all over again for Shabbat the following day. But plain leftovers, in the form of a turkey sandwich doesn’t quite seem fitting for Shabbat dinner either. Fortunately, Thanksgiving leftovers can be turned into a flavorful and special Shabbat meal.
Start preparing your Shabbat meal at the same time as your Thanksgiving. While preparing your Thanksgiving feast, for example, don’t throw away all your vegetable ends and peels. Instead, save those herb stems, garlic and onion skins, celery leaves and carrot tops in a sealable plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer. When it comes time to clean up after dinner, put your turkey carcass along with those vegetable scraps in a big pot and make a soothing and flavorful stock that can become the base for a delicious turkey matzo ball soup (get the recipe below). Even if you don’t use it right away, homemade stock can be cooled and frozen for later use. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays so I can easily use as much as I want.
Sometimes we write recipes, and sometimes recipes just write themselves. This is one of those recipes.
It was October 30th, the day after Hurricane Sandy hit, and I was at my wits end. My home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn had power, my family was out of harms way, but I was still having a hard time coping. My toddler was spiking a fever and my older kids were at each other’s throat. It was their third consecutive day home from school and they’d played their fill of iPod matching games, drawn enough pictures to cover the refrigerator, and baked enough cupcakes to feed all the kids in the neighborhood. With several snack breaks, our supplies were running scarce and I stared into the refrigerator wondering what on earth to make for dinner.
This will be my third Thanksgiving in Israel, marking yet another year that has slipped by. It’s the day when I miss America and my family most, but also the time when I realize the extent to which the foods of the Mediterranean and the Middle East have seeped into my cooking, making my life more flavorful.
The first year, I had been in Israel less than two months when Thanksgiving arrived and hadn’t found my sea legs at the grocery store yet. Tracking down all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving feast was daunting. Luckily, my in-laws came to the rescue by visiting just before the holiday, stocking us with essentials like canned pumpkin.
We had a huge potluck meal with close to 50 of my husband’s medical school classmates, all of whom brought their favorite Thanksgiving dishes to the table. It was a feast of epic proportions with traditions from every corner of my home-country represented. I contributed brisket and my mother-in-law’s famous pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, both favorites in my husband’s family.
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.
Somewhere in the higher realms, Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer is observing his 110th birthday today.
And it would be a pity if his birthday went unnoticed at The Jew and the Carrot, a space dedicated to discussions of Jewish eating.
After all, Singer, the greatest Yiddish writer, had something to say about food, to put it mildly. He wrote vividly about the ethical imperative of vegetarianism in both “The Slaughterer” and “The Letter Writer,” two of his classic short stories.
So his 110th birthday provides an occasion – maybe even an appropriate one – to briefly re-examine those two stories from the perspective of our contemporary food system.
Hostess Brands Inc, the maker of the iconic Twinkies snack cake, will square off in a bankruptcy court on Monday against an agent of the U.S. Justice Department, who says the wind-down plan is too generous to management.
The U.S. Trustee, an agent of the U.S. Department of Justice who oversees bankruptcy cases, said in court documents it is opposed to the wind-down plan because Hostess plans improper bonuses to company insiders.
The 82-year-old Hostess wants permission to pay senior management a bonus of up to 75 percent of their annual pay so they will stay on and help wind-down the business.