High-end kosher burgers take Manhattan. [YeahThatsKosher]
If you’ve never heard of za’atar, an herbal Middle Eastern spice blend, you’re missing out. Try it on flatbread, popcorn or in a Shabbat-worthy roast chicken recipe. [The Kitchn]
Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards winners are up. Peruse the list for mouthwatering photos, recipes and new food voices to follow. [Saveur]
Ever stained a pan cooking with wine, brown sugar or citrus? Get the lowdown on non-reactive cookware. [DavidLeibovitz.com]
This post first appeared on J. Weekly
I first came across Rebecca Katz’s cookbooks in culinary school. My program had a health-centric curriculum, and cooking for cancer patients was part of it.
I used her first book, “One Bite at a Time,” to make a polenta pie with sautéed greens and puttanesca sauce for a client with throat cancer who later claimed my food helped her cancer go into remission. I also was able to bring joy to a dying woman by making her whole-grain chocolate chip cookies without any refined sugar.
However, when Katz was cooking for her father when he had throat cancer in 2000, there was no such resource. Using her background as a natural foods chef and nutritionist, Katz made up recipes she thought her father — with his taste buds compromised from radiation — would enjoy, and that’s how her first book came about. Then came a second, “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.”
The drain on Jerusalem’s natural resources from religious tourism is finally acknowledged as an ecological dilemma. The Symposium on Green and Accessible Pilgrimage, which took place earlier this week, hopes to address it.
The brainchild of Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, Naomi Tsur, the mission is to bring religious leaders together in cooperation to help pilgrims “leave a green footprint” as they pass through Jerusalem and holy sites everywhere on the planet.
At the eco-focused event, eight local chefs competed for the city’s “greenest” dish. Well, perhaps competed is a generous term. The white-jacketed chefs assembling on the stone patio of the YMCA greeted each other with the big hugs and the macho kiss on each cheek that Israeli guys exchange to show affectionate respect.
In the background, sous chefs opened plastic containers, pulled out knives, and mixed sauces. Pungent herbal odors rose from bunches of sage, basil, and za’atar piled on a rough wooden chopping block. With the prep done, the chefs deftly created the dishes that resonate with “green cuisine,” placing a square of organic carrot here, painting a swab of turmeric sauce there, lightly dropping delicate green and black sprouts exactly on the right spot.
Springtime is in full swing in Tennessee. The dogwoods, irises and tulips are blooming, and last week I was privy to an early edition of my CSA share: parsnips, watercress, chickweed and kale. I’m still trying to decide what to make with the parsnips (besides drying them for soup this fall), but the greens made their way into salads and stir-frys.
The freshness of the greens got me thinking about what I have in easy garden access: parsley, mint, spinach, arugula and chard. The last of these was the most inspiring, and I’d love to share some of that, and a great dish with you!
Jamie Geller, often dubbed the “Kosher Rachel Ray,” is the first to admit that making aliyah was a challenge. But nine months in she’s saying “what took me so long?!” Geller captured her family’s trials, tribulations, and successes of moving to Israel last August in the documentary series “Joy of Aliyah.” Based on the success of her first program, Geller has teamed up once again with Nefesh B’Nefesh and new partner 12 Tribe Films to create a food and travel show, “Joy of Israel with Jamie Geller,” that follows her family on culinary adventures around the country.
“Even before the dream of aliyah was born,” says Geller, “I wanted to do a food and travel show set in Israel.” Inspired by programs like Jean-Georges and Marja Vongerichten’s Korean food and travel show “Kimchi Chronicles,” Geller says that her connection to Israel is what makes “Joy of Israel” more than your average travel program. “The real mission of the show,” explains Geller, “is to be a food and travel show with the backbone of this family that just made aliyah — so through the eyes of new olim [immigrants] and the excitement and emotion that goes with that.”
Check out the first episode below
“I’ve wanted to be Jewish since I was 6-years-old,” said Sarah Simmons, founder of the culinary salon City Grit, which hosted a four-course Southern Shabbat meal last Friday. After tasting Simmons’ twist on brisket and latkes, one would believe her claim as being “the most Jewish Gentile in New York City.”
The meal was made up of fresh new takes on traditional Jewish dishes, with inspiration drawn from Simmons’ southern upbringing, Israeli cuisine, and seasonal veggies. It’s one of a few of Simmons’ reoccurring meals in City Grit, which she started in 2011 after hosting private dinners in her home for a few years and being named Food & Wine magazine’s Home Cook Superstar of 2010. Other meals in the salon include an evening of southern comfort food, a “Butts, Legs, and Sides” menu with Korean influences, and a series with guest chefs.
After an informal blessing over the challah, the first course was brought out to the 40 or so guests, which ranged from what appeared to be a group celebrating a bachelorette party to people who weren’t Jewish but love the cuisine. First up was Simmons’ take on the fattoush salad — a roasted beet puree, greens, and a buttermilk tahini made with benne seeds (sesame seeds grown in the South, according to Simmons). It was light, nutty, and refreshing. It had diners requesting more challah to sop up the excess beet puree on the plate.
I’ve never visited my ancestral hometown. Mashad is located at the north-eastern part of Iran. It is a holy site for Shi’ite Muslims, a famous destination for pilgrims who visit the golden shrine of Emam Reza, resting place of the eight Imam of Shia. The history of the Jews of Mashad is unique and intense: In the spring of 1839, a few days before Passover, a pogrom occurred, in which dozens of Jews lost their lives. The surviving Jews were presented with a cruel choice: death or forcible conversion to Islam.
This started a long period of “hidden Jewishness.” We (the story was always told to me in the first-person-plural) took on Muslim names and appearance, prayed at the mosque, bought non-kosher meat (later throwing it to the dogs) and fresh bread during the seven days of Passover (secretly feeding it to the birds). Prayers were held in secret and Shabbat candles lit in basements. Some of the more affluent men were expected by their non-Jewish neighbors to perform the Islamic custom of Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca) which they did, wearing miniature Tefillin under their robes and sometimes stopping in Jerusalem — to pray at the Western Wall and establish synagogues, orphanages and poor-houses — on their way back home, to their double life in Mashad.
Even in hiding, families preserved the recipe for the traditional Mashadi Shabbat dinner, Cholow Nokhodow, a hearty beef and bean stew, rich with chopped fresh herbs and wedges of kohlrabi. We treat our signature Friday night dish with affection, it is unique to our cooking culture and not served by other Persian Jewish communities. For me, it is the taste of Shabbat.
Stir first three ingredients carefully and wait for the relationships to bloom. After ten years, move from Indiana to California. Introduce best friend into the mix. Ann is the same age as the child, who is now entering public middle school after years of Jewish day school. Ann helps this child transition because she herself has been in transition for many years. She came from Andhra Pradesh when she was young and had her friends call her Ann instead of Ananta to help her acculturate. She, like the child, has eating restrictions because she is Hindu and fiercely vegetarian. She is also equally curious about the world and similarly unintimidated by it. They become fast friends and will spend many years sharing food, culture, religion, fears, love interests, overbearing parents, a drive to overachieve and our friendship – which has stood the test of time and space.
Nothing brings a smile to a child’s face like the tinkling melodies of an ice cream truck rounding the corner. Unless it’s a Saturday afternoon and that child is standing in front of an orthodox synagogue.
About six years ago, Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, based in Chicago’s Lakeview community, was faced with an ice cream dilemma. One sunny Shabbat, as families were milling around the sidewalk before going home, an ice cream truck pulled up. Some families had money on them and were able to buy ice cream for their kids, but kids from more traditionally observant families couldn’t have any. What’s a rabbi to do? Rabbi Asher Lopatin didn’t want kids “to feel that Shabbat is depriving them of anything.” Lopatin and his wife, Rachel Tessler Lopatin, started talking about solutions: What could they do so people could get ice cream on Shabbat (somewhere a distinctly Yiddish voice is muttering, “We should all have such problems!”)? And so, the concept of a Shabbat ice cream account was born.
Around the corner from the synagogue sits Windy City Sweets, a small mom-and-pop candy, fudge, and ice cream shop. Their relationship with Anshe Sholom extends much farther back than the ice cream truck debacle. Over the years the store, which is owned by non-Jews, has made efforts to get kosher supervision for their candies and ice creams (all of their ice creams are now kosher, with the notable and tragic exception of Rocky Road). John Manchester, the current owner, sees it as a perfect fit, “We’re part of a community and they [the synagogue members] are a big part of it. It was a great match.”
Making sure food is part of a museum is not an easy task — fresh dishes will perish, plastic ones miss the point.
But, at Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, food, drink and the special Jewish relationship to eating and drinking will be a recurring thread woven throughout the yet to be installed core exhibition.
The Museum’s striking building was opened to the public April 19, but its permanent exhibition, a narrative presentation of 1,000 years of Jewish life, won’t debut until next year.
“We don’t have separate sections on discreet themes such as women, children, dress, or food,” said Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett, the NYU scholar in charge of the team putting together the core exhibition. “There are no encyclopedia entries.” Rather, she said, food, drink and issues related to them would be addressed within the context of the chronological narrative.
One of the primary claims which opponents of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) make is that there is a blatant lack of transparency both from biotech corporations and the federal government when it comes to the mechanisms in place for their approval by the FDA and the full impact of GMOs. There often appears to be “back-room dealings” with only a few people “in the know” making huge decisions that affect each and every one of us. Part of this may be specific to Big Agriculture and biotech companies, but to a large degree this is also an inherent part of our federal legislative processes. Part of congressional procedure includes a mode of lawmaking informally known as a ‘rider,’ an amendment to an appropriation bill that fundamentally and permanently changes the law governing the program which is funded by the bill. Many times, and usually without widespread public knowledge, lawmakers will amend congressional legislation with sometimes unrelated provisions as a means of changing governmental policy without the time and energy of a vote on the floor for that specific program. Recently, a rider was attached to the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 which, in effect, deregulates federal oversight on biotech food products even if such products are found to be dangerous.
The iconic Streit’s Matzo company is getting a documentary, and the film promises to look anything but flat.
Streit’s, which opened its doors in 1925 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is in its fifth generation, still using their original machinery to bake and pack matzo today. It’s the last family-operated matzo factory in the country — and they take their bread of affliction seriously.
“You’re not going to paint a picture that has no meaning and that’s how we make matzo here — it’s like art…Best job in the world,” says longtime Streit’s employeee Anthony Sapada in a thick New York Italian accent in a preview of the film (see below).
Filmmaker Michael Levine and producer Michael Green are hoping to tackle the story of Streit’s through a full-length movie, collecting memories of the factory from workers and enthusiasts alike. The team has launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $60,000 to make “Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream,” a look inside the factory’s near-century of operation.
Levine hopes to use Streit’s to paint a picture of the ever-changing Lower East Side, and as a microcosm of the evolving Jewish community around it, but it’s not just the usual New York real estate turmoil.
If you’re looking to spice up your Shabbat dinner routine, try these tomato jalepeno matzo balls. [Boston.com]
Some handy kosher travel advice — if you’re luck enough to be going to South Africa anytime soon. [Yeah That’s Kosher]
The secrets of New York’s King of Falafel. [Serious Eats]
There’s something so delightfully springy about honey. A bee sting cake looks like a perfect spring shabbat dessert recipe. [Smitten Kitchen]
The food world is getting yet another new magazine — Cherry Bomb. This one, on the women of the food world. [Grub Street]
In 1938, with 58 home runs for the Tigers, Hank Greenberg’s mother made him a promise. “There’s a rumor that if Hank had hit 60 home runs, which would either tie or beat Babe Ruth’s record, my mother-in-law would do whatever one does with gefilte fish. Cook it, bake it, stuff it,” Marilyn Greenberg, Hank’s sister-in-law, told filmmaker Aviva Kempner in an interview.
A Sports Illustrated article from 1982 added some more details to this tale of a Jewish mother’s promise to her son. Hank’s mother, according to the article, pledged to prepare for him no less than 61 gefilte fish, once he breaks the 1927 record of 60 homers. Greenberg had five more games to play that season, but he never hit another home run.
The story of the last games of the 1938 season and the speculations over why Hank didn’t hit another home run that season are some of the most fascinating parts of Aviva Kempner’s 1998 Peabody award-winning documentary, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, which was released on DVD earlier this month. Just in time for the new baseball season.
Hank Greenberg was a five-time Major League Baseball All-Star, a two-time American League MVP, and a Hall of Famer. “He was also Jewish – in a time when a generation of Jews was struggling to find their way in the New World, Hank Greenberg transformed the way non-Jews viewed Jews, and the way Jews saw themselves,” Kempner wrote in her introduction.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
On a corner in the heart of the former Jewish ghetto, David Popovits sits down for some matzo ball soup and supersized dumplings at his newly-opened kosher style restaurant.
A burly, 40-year-old Hungarian Jewish businessman, Popovits used to eat here as a boy, when the restaurant’s former owners ran a “dirty little place that smelled like oil but had good Wiener schnitzel,” as Popovits puts it.
It wasn’t the memories, but the location that convinced Popovits to gut the place and reopen the restaurant two months ago under the name Macesz Huszar, or “Matzo Soldier,” a gastronomic temple of Hungarian Jewish cuisine.
Planted in the now-fashionable 7th district, the area draws enough traffic to provide a clientele for this upscale establishment boasting designer chandeliers, a VIP room and an ample bronze bar.
Maftoul is traditionally a celebratory dish and takes a good amount of time and dedication to make properly — but the result is well worth the effort. To save time, make the spice mix in advance.
All recipes are reprinted with permission from “The Gaza Kitchen.”
How to Steam Maftoul
Maftoul (fresh or dried)*
Olive oil, as needed
Salt, as needed
1 small onion or 3 shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dill seed
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup dill greens, chopped
In a two-part steamer or couscousiere, fill the bottom part with water and a couple of lemons, quartered. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, smear the top part with oil and fill it with half the maftoul. If the steamer’s holes are large, you may want to cover them with a strip of cheesecloth or other pure cotton cloth before adding the maftoul. Allow this half of the maftoul to steam uncovered for about half an hour.
Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, grind dill seeds with 1/2 tsp salt until fragrant. Add onion and red pepper flakes and pound until coarsely mashed. Stir in cumin and 4 Tbsp olive oil. This dressing is called “arousit il maftoul”—the bride of the maftoul—for the enticing and discreet way it perfumes the grains. In Rafah, finely chopped dill greens are also added, in Gaza City red pepper flakes are preferred. Spread a layer of the arousit il maftoul on top of the maftoul in the steamer. Cover the arousit il maftoul with the remaining maftoul, and continue steaming. After some 15 minutes remove from heat and gently stir with a wooden spoon to fluff the maftoul so each grain is separate.
Hand-rolled organic Palestinian maftoul can be purchase from Canaan Fair Trade or in specialty stores (WIlliams & Sonoma and Whole Foods). In a pinch, Laila El-Haddad recommends using whole wheat Trader Joe’s couscous as a substitute. Steam it the same way as you would the maftoul.
“BISON?!?” I exclaimed to my dad who had just told me to try a new type of burger. I was ten years old, standing in my kitchen, eating what I thought was a typical dinner. I was actually halfway through with the patty when my dad informed me this wasn’t from a typical cow; rather, it was from an animal that I had never heard of. Immediately, I did what any ten-year-old would do, and I ran straight for the garbage. Then, I started crying. I didn’t want to eat strange foods that I had never heard of nor did I want to be tricked into eating something I thought was something else.
Thankfully — and sometimes not so thankfully — my parents trained me to eat everything from a very young age. Whether or not I was fooled, I developed a love for ethnic foods, rare meats, and strange looking vegetables. I was eating brussel sprouts, spinach, and cabbage from a very young age. My family didn’t observe Kosher dietary laws so I ate every kind of meat you can imagine as well. Typical dishes were shrimp scampi, lobster bisque, and pork tenderloin. Peanut butter and jelly? I had my first one during my freshmen year of college after a few of my friends learned I had never tried it before.
For those of us who weren’t lucky enough to attend Brooklyn’s uber food fair Smorgasburg last weekend — or anyone who just couldn’t take the crowds, we don’t blame you — allow me to introduce you to New York’s newest Jewish food artisan: NYShuk. The husband-and-wife kitchen team debuted their menu of Middle Eastern specialties like couscous with chickpea-and-short-rib stew, raisins, and chopped herbs; beet salad with lemon yogurt and walnuts; hot spiced mint tea; and the rose-scented semolina cake known as ‘shamishi’.
True to Brooklyn’s DIY ethos, Israeli-born couple Ron and Leetal Arazi reinterpret culinary tradition with artisanal ingredients, labor-intensive preparations, and personal spins on Sephardic foods of their childhoods. NYShuk joins a burgeoning wave of Jewish food artisans, including Scharf & Zoyer, which the Forward profiled last week.
Ron grew up in a Moroccan-Lebanese Jewish home before attending culinary school in France and working under star chefs like Yuhi Fujinaga and Susur Lee; pastry chef Leetal, whose family claims Eastern European and Turkish roots, has continued to cook while managing a busy career as a food stylist.
Read the story behind these cookies and the cookbook “Chadar Ochel” here
Reprinted with permission from ‘Chadar Ochel’ by Assi Haim and Ofer Vardi.
for 60 cookies
450 grams flour (approximately 3 2⁄3 cups)
¼ cup oil
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
5 cups honey
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1) In a food processor, place the flour, eggs and oil and mix until the dough is formed.
2) Divide the dough into 3 equally sized balls and knead each one separately by hand.
3) Form each ball into a sausage 4 inches long.
4) Divide each sausage into 10 pieces, and roll each into a rope that fits around three fingers. Form the rope into a ring by joining the ends.
5) Place the rings on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
6) Mix 1½ cups sugar and the ground ginger and sprinkle some over the rings. Reserve the rest of the sugar.
7) Make the syrup: In a large pan, bring the water, 3 cups of sugar and honey to a boil.
8) Slide the dough rings into the boiling syrup and cook for 30 minutes. Mix occasionally with a wooden spoon.
9) To check for doneness, take one teigelach out of the syrup. If it doesn’t shrink, the cookies are ready.
10) Take the cookies out of the syrup and strain. Put the cookies in a container with the rest of the sugar-ginger mixture and roll to coat. Keep in an airtight container.
After living in Israel for several years, Noah Karesh, 30, returned to live at the Moishe House in Washington D.C. It was there that he helped cook regular dinners for 50, and realized the power that the dinner table can have on forming relationships. His business partner, Danny Harris, 33, grew up in a mixed Sephardi-Ashkenzi home in New York where many stories and traditions were transmitted around the dining room table.
Now they’re parlaying those experiences into Feastly, a website that connects adventurous eaters with chefs who want to test recipes and hone their skills at dinner parties in their homes.
So far active in Washington D.C., New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, Feastly may be coming soon to a city near you. But it all started with a dinner for 25 people where Harris’ mom cooked a feast of Libyan Jewish dishes.
Alix Wall chatted with co-founder Harris about that first dinner, how exactly Feastly works and a recent meal called “Oy Caramba.”