The Jew And The Carrot

Matzoh Beer? Drink Up!

By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby

With the explosion of craft beers in the past five years, it was only a matter of time before an intrepid soul conquered the final brewery frontier: Queens, New York. Rich Buceta and the team at Single Cut brewery are opening a 5,000 square foot brewery there later this month. And the star of the Single Cut lineup? Matzoh-based beer.

“The folks at [local pub] Queens Kickshaw came up with the idea for this beer as a tribute to the Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Eve,” brewmaster Rich Buceta explained. The brew, which is made by mixing Szechuan peppercorns and matzoh into the malted barley mash, is dubbed a “White Lagrr,” perhaps because of the ferocious kick that the spicing will bring to it.

Aside from creating what sounds like the perfect Chanukah beer, Buceta plans a number of other yet-to-be-revealed concoctions. “We’ll be aging several beers in rum barrels, as well as brewing a number of Belgian-style ales,” he said. But the heart of the brewery lies in hoppy ales, like the Halfstack India Pale Ale that clocks in at 6.6% alcohol by volume. They plan to release a seasonal “Fullstack” IPA that’s even more alcoholic — a whopping 8.6%.

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Beacon Hebrew Alliances Commits to Healthy Living

By Brent Spodek

Wikimedia
This article was co-authored by Jennifer Clair, Bobby Gropper, Valerie Gropper, Ann Gross, Jeff Gross, Deana Morenoff, Joan Pirie, Bill Smith, and Rachel Zollner.

When our synagogue, Beacon Hebrew Alliance, took on a community-wide listening campaign about two years ago, food quickly emerged as an important issue. Some of us were locavores, committed to eating regionally produced food; some were Jewish traditionalists, committed to eating kosher certified food, and some of us were lapsed vegetarians, some of us were price conscious and some had yet other commitments.

In addition to the many personal commitments, our community was growing quickly, and that meant there were more and more questions and disagreements about what we could and couldn’t eat in the synagogue. Our new rabbi was confused as to why our informal policy allowed us to bring in food from the local non-kosher deli but not to have a pot-luck with food prepared in members’ homes. At one point, a new mother in our community looked at the cake and candy that was put out during one of our kids programs and said “I don’t care if it’s ‘kosher,’ I don’t want to feed that junk to my kids.” It was clear that not only did we not have a consistent food policy that reflected our values, we didn’t even have a common language which we could use to talk about food.

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Mixing Bowl: Latke Throwdown; Egyptian Falafel

By Devra Ferst

iStock

If you’re stuck at home today, try making your own challah. Here’s a simple recipe. [The Daily Meal]

Are you a latke expert? Ready to throw down in a huge latke competition? Enter your recipe here. [Edible Manhattan]

Deb Perlman’s mushroom bourguinon, a perfect fall, vegetarian, Shabbat dish. [Food 52]

Try an Egyptian twist on falafel — made with fava beans. [Saveur]

A taste of the American South comes to Tel Aviv. [Tablet]

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Tasting Notes from the Whisky Jewbilee

By Dan Friedman

Thinkstock

The largest whisky event of the year took place last weekend at the Marriott Marquis. Stretching from sundown Friday to a later Saturday night, WhiskyFest NY was attended by hundreds of aficionados of the pungent malt. Sadly, I couldn’t make it this year, but I managed to stop by the first so-called “Whisky Jewbilee” run by Single Cask Nation just before the weekend.

Single Cask Nation is an attempt to turn a hobby into a business. Joshua Hatton, Jason Johnstone-Yellin and Seth Klaskin took what began as a blog and the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society and turned it into a niche bottler and importer of whisky. Though I was interested to see (and taste) what the hosts had found to put in their bottles, my expectations were fairly low. The location was a synagogue hall on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I didn’t recognize the names of many of the whiskies being poured and the price seemed high at $75 (though, full disclosure, members of the press were not charged).

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Shabbat Meals: West African Brisket

By Michael Twitty

Michael Twitty

Being an African-American who is a Jew-By-Choice means having to do a lot of culinary negotiations. The table is where I integrate both sides of my hyphen. The plate is a means of “locating” myself squarely in the history of both Diasporas — African and Jewish, and all the places those Diaspora’s represent from Angola and Alabama to Ashkenaz, from South Carolina and Senegal to Sepharad. Cooking is how I pull all of my parts together and articulate who I am to those who might not understand how someone like me could be culturally “possible.” Shabbat gives me an opportunity to look within and use my cooking to tell stories that friends of all backgrounds have never heard — stories of history and migration, struggle and triumph, loss and recovery.

I often serve this West African Style Brisket on Shabbat, which is inspired by recipes from Nigeria, Senegal, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. The dry spice mixture is a take on suya, a very old spice mixture from West Africa, hearkening back to the days of the medieval salt and gold trade. Certain flavors like garlic, ginger, bay leaf, and onion are common in both culinary traditions; while others like the inclusion of peppers, olive oil, horseradish, and the use of stock, point to different stops on the map as each Diaspora wound its way to North America.

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Kosher Chow Comes to the Super Bowl

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock
Get ready to chow down on kosher franks at the Super Bowl.

There’s no need to brown bag it if you are a kosher football fanatic headed to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII next February.

Kosher fare will be served in the stadium at the big game, reports Kosher Today. Game-goers will get to chow down on beef hot dogs, beef sausages with peppers and onions, polish beef sausage, pretzels, bottled soda, bottled water and bottled beer. (In other words, it’ll be your basic football stadium food, minus the nachos — sorry, vegetarians.)

All the food will be provided by Kosher Sports, Inc.,, which runs a kosher stand at all New Orleans Saints games at the Superdome. If you’ve chowed down on kosher franks at Citifield, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, Barclays Center, United Center, Oriole Park, American Airlines Arena, and Ford Field, then you can expect more of the same.

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The Quest for the Kosher Cheeseburger

By David Chudnow

David Chudnow

Keeping kosher my whole life has limited much of my culinary knowledge. I have this feeling sometimes, especially when I am looking up a new recipe or watching a cooking show, that I am missing something, that I have been cheated in some way. I never knew that split pea soup was supposed to have a hambone in it. Or that lasagna, as a default, is made with meat instead of vegetables. And worst of all, I have never tasted that ultimate non-kosher American delicacy, the cheeseburger.

Let me be clear: I don’t feel that I am missing out on the secret world that is bacon, nor do I have a desire to eat octopus or crocodile. But the concept of mixing milchigs with fleishigs (that is, dairy with meat) is incredibly enticing. Cheese is good; meat is good; why not mix them? I mean, other than the thousands of years of tradition, which I do my best to follow. I often joke that if I were to ever really break kashrut, it would be on turkey and Swiss, which is not even biblically treyf.

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5 Wacky Ways To Eat Your Pastrami

By Margaret Eby

Courtesy of Red Farm
At Red Farm in New York, pastrami is stuffed into an eggroll for a twist on the Chinese classic.

Pastrami is the staple of Jewish deli food: unctuous and fatty, thinly sliced and layered over a good seedy rye with just a dab of spicy mustard and, it makes one of the more perfect, simple sandwiches. But now the workhouse of the delicatessen is migrating into unusual territory. Chefs around the country have begun to experiment with pastrami in a variety of dishes. From crunchy and chewy pastrami nachos to frothy pastrami ramen, the humble sandwich filler has gotten a whole new culinary reputation as a versatile protein and a clever bacon replacement, too. Below, we present some of our favorite pastrami innovations.

Would you try these pastrami concoctions? Let us know in the comments.

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Staying Healthy During a Hurricane

By Elizabeth Traison

Wikicommons

Sitting on the couch in my Brooklyn apartment, staring at the bright gray sky with trees blowing vehemently in the wind, I feel as if I am waiting for the world to end. My parents called me, as did my aunt, and my grandparents. My cousins sent emails, and my friends sent instant messages, only for me to respond that we are still waiting for the worst of it, and that if I were still home in Detroit people would probably still be driving 75 mph down the highway.

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Bagel Shortage and Hurricane Recipes

By Devra Ferst

Jessica Fechtor
Lemon Za’atar chicken is zingy enough to wake up even this dark day.

As East Coasters prepped for the Frankenstorm, stores sold out of flashlights, bottled water and… bagels? According to the Village Voice, nary a bagel was to be found in Manhattan’s West Village this morning.

So what to do if you’re stuck, hunkered down in your home, for the next 24+ hours? Cook a delicious meal of course. Here are some recipe ideas. If you’re missing some ingredients, don’t fret or run out to the store, you have plenty of time on a day like today to experiment with what’s in your pantry.

Share your favorite stormy-day recipes with us in the comments.

Stay safe and dry.

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Cooking in Season: Pumpkin Macaroons

By Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh

True, it’s not really the official time of year for macaroons. But as the world struggled to find something that doesn’t work with pumpkin (like Pumpkin Pop-Tarts, Pumpkin Eggos), I had to know if the stray bag of coconut sitting in my cabinet would compliment it. So I dug up my basic macaroon recipe that a family friend gave me a while back and I got to work.

It turns out the flavors of the coconut and pumpkin blend beautifully, creating a nutty, more subtle version of the pumpkin treats that I’m used to. I’m tempted to stock up on canned pumpkin right now so that I have some when Passover rolls back around. What’s more is that now pumpkin has been dubbed the new bacon — and a kosher one at that — we really ought to celebrate it!

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Kosher Update: Empire Poultry Fires CEO

By JTA

Empire Kosher Poultry Inc. fired its chief executive officer allegedly after the aborted acquisition of another kosher poultry firm.

Greg Rosenbaum learned Oct. 10 that he was out at Empire, the leading supplier of kosher poultry in the United States, the Washington Jewish Week reported Wednesday. The company, based in Mifflintown, Pa., went from near collapse to prosperity and expansion about a year after Rosenbaum arrived there in 2006, the newspaper reported.

Rosenbaum told the newspaper that he was fired because of a “disagreement between himself and the partners of Empire Kosher on the strategy and direction for the company.” The problems began, he said, after the partners vetoed a complex acquisition deal that he had been negotiating since the spring with MVP Kosher Foods, the country’s second largest supplier of kosher poultry.

MVP Kosher’s Mark Honigsfeld told the Washington Jewish Week that he had approached Rosenbaum in May and that negotiations were taking place with the knowledge of both companies’ board of directors. In preparation for the acquisition, Honigsfeld said his company turned over to Empire its farming relationships, inventories, birds and customers. In July, MVP closed its plant in Birdsboro, Pa.

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What If Farming Is Actually A Curse?

By Anna Hanau

wikimedia

The next shmitta (sabbatical) year is two years away. At Hazon we’re gearing up for it already by doing some weekly learning on the topic with Rabbi Ari Hart, and recently, a look at some of our foundation stories in the Torah – Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel in particular – led us to unexpected realizations.

Such as: What if Jewish tradition sees farming as a lower, compromised, even “exiled” state? And what is the point of a cycle – whether it is seven days of Shabbat and the week, or seven years of a Sabbatical year cycle – if they keep simply repeating themselves?

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What's for Dinner? Prepared Kosher Meals at Fairway

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Courtesy of Abigael's/Fairway

Dinnertime may get a lot easier for kosher customers at Manhattan’s Fairway stores.

Just last week, the supermarket chain began offering “dinners to go” from Glatt Kosher New York City restaurant Abigael’s on Broadway.

The prepared meals — the kind you usually only find in specialty kosher markets and not in mainstream supermarkets — are available in the pre-packaged deli section of Fairway’s Upper West Side and Upper East Side locations.

A spokesperson for Fairway told us: “We reached out to Jeff Nathan of Abigael’s because we are big fans of his restaurant and asked him to make meals to go for our customers.”

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Culinary Dreams of Israel — Interrupted

By Emma Rudolph

Emma Rudolph

I’m going to be honest with you. I signed up for Birthright mostly because I wanted to spend ten days eating Israeli food. When I found out I was chosen for a summer 2012 trip, my daydreams were filled with visions of pistachio-studded halvah, mounds of falafel, juicy shawarma, and creamy hummus. You could say I was going on the trip for all the wrong reasons, that gorging oneself on Israeli delicacies was not a moral reason to take advantage of a free 10-day trip to the Holy Land. Well sometimes karma bites you back.

I arrived in Jerusalem on a breezy July night, accompanied by my best friend and about 40 other college students, still strangers to me. Jet-lagged and exhausted from the 11-hour flight, we trudged into the hostel’s dining room. My eyes perked up at the sight of roasted chicken, hummus, and juicy watermelon. Yes, this is why I had traveled for nearly half a day. I happily ate my dinner and played the obligatory name games with the group.

Not even 12 hours after the meal, I was struck with a certain discomfort. I’d been sick from traveling before, and I assured myself this little stomach upset would pass. I sullenly skipped out on the next morning’s breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and Israeli salad.

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No Whisky for Old Jews?

By Dan Friedman

wikicommons

When I first went to WhiskyFest New York two years ago I was astounded at how Jewish it was. Growing up in Britain, there had been whisky at Kiddush, but it was rough generic stuff, not for the connoisseur. I never saw the bottles, but it was more Manischewitz than Mouton Rothschild. At the 2010 event I saw Jews of all stripes sipping some of the finest malt whiskies available in the world. I felt surprised, vindicated, happy.

Then, after last year’s event, the organizers from Whisky Advocate magazine (until last year Malt Advocate) announced their plan to capitalize on the size and strength of the demand and move from a Tuesday night onto a weekend — the last weekend in October, 2012. Not really a weekend, but from Friday night to Saturday night. AKA shabbat. AKA it’s now muktze, or inappropriate for traditionally observant Jews.

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Confession: I have a Secret Snack Stash

By Edward Angert

wikimedia

I work for the largest Jewish environmental organization in the United States. The kind that has a written food values policy which outlines the steps we, as an organization, take to ensure that the food we serve to our guests, participants, and each other is kosher, ethical, healthy, delicious, and a conversation starter.

Why then, do I have a five-pound bag of Halloween chocolates in my desk drawer?

Because somewhere around 4pm, it’s time for chocolate. And I don’t mean the good-quality, fair trade, dark chocolate (I keep that hidden in a different drawer), I mean that sugary, processed, preservative-laden, “exactly what I wanted right now” chocolate.

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Oma & Bella Film Recalls War-Time Recipes

By Reuters/Barbara Goldberg

Thinkstock

For anyone who craves one more hug from a grandma long gone, one more of her chocolate turtle cookies or another whiff of her apple strudel baking in the oven, there is “Oma & Bella.”

Scenes from the new documentary about two octogenarian friends living together in Berlin are warm, but the hunger to learn more about their past as Holocaust survivors creates a suspenseful undercurrent throughout the film, which is being released on iTunes and Amazon in the United States on Tuesday.

The sometimes jarring shifts from cozy kitchen scenes of chopping and sauteing to starkly lit interviews in which they reluctantly reveal some of the horrors they survived as Jewish girls in World War Two are purposeful, filmmaker Alexa Karolinski said.

“In the beginning, they basically said, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you don’t ask us about then,’” Karolinski said of the agreement with her grandmother — or Oma — Regina Karolinski, and her friend Bella Katz, who moved in to help with Oma’s recovery from a hip operation in 2007 and never left.

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Gefilte Fish Throwdown Heats Up

By Michael Twitty

Michael Twitty
Gefilteria’s platter of salmon and whitefish gefilte fish.

A mom, a food crafter and a chef glare at one another in a Baltimore parking lot ready to throw down with fire and sharp objects. No, this is not a surprise culinary season of The Wire, or a bizarre new John Waters film. It’s a “Gefilte Fish Throwdown” sponsored by the Jewish Museum of Maryland as part of their exhibit “Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture, and American Jewish Identity.”

Aromas of fresh fish, piquant onion and horseradish, with faint notes of celery and short gusts of white pepper seem “louder” than the dogs yelping in the distance or the occasional siren. As the brisk cool air dances with the flames of the camping stoves, and the hot, bright sun beats down on the 100 or so people in the audience, it may be a Sunday in October, but it’s beginning to smell a lot like Passover.

Hosted by honored guest, Aaron Harkin of Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR, and host of The Signal, the competition got under way as the eager audience was introduced to the three participants. Dave Whaley of Baltimore’s acclaimed restaurant, Wit and Wisdom at The Four Seasons, unveiled his novel gefilte fish corndog, dipped in corn batter and deep fried served with a birthday-cake-pink tinted sauce of cream, horseradish and beet powder. “I didn’t have whitefish or pike, so I decided to use cobia, another kosher fish, that I knew would stand up to being made into a fish sausage and would remain firm and flavorful throughout the process.”

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We're Smitten With the 'Smitten Kitchen Cookbook'

By Margaret Eby

Deb Perelman

There are two general camps of cookbooks: the kind that you keep on the coffee table and the kind that you keep in the kitchen. The former are big, sumptuous, glossy numbers, usually full of exotic ingredients and complicated recipes. The latter are often less pretty but functional, stained by sauce splatters and muffin batter. It’s rare to find a volume that serves both purposes, but Deb Perelman’s wonderful The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is one of them.

Perelman, who based the book on her popular website of the same name, describes herself as “an obsessive home cook,” and her recipes certainly reflect that. She tinkers, she recreates, she attempts to cajole people. Her buttered popcorn cookies, for instance — salty-sweet umami crunch-balls that should replace Rice Krispie treats in your next holiday platter — were an effort to convince a friend to see the merits of buttered popcorn. She updates old recipes, because, she admits, “my curiosity gets the better of me, and it’s usually worth the blasphemy. Her fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah for example, takes a classic and adds notes of herbaceous savoriness to the sweet and supple bread. She uses honey instead of sugar to leaven the yeast, and tucks a fig and orange zest paste into the braided dough. The result is something heavenly, and fairly simple, even if you’re not a seasoned baker. (Though, I confess, I abandoned her braiding technique in favor of a simpler one.) A dear friend of mine, asking after what I was baking, was the first to proclaim “heresy!” about the addition of salt and figs. He was also the first to ask for the recipe once he tasted it.

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