Though spring officially started more than two weeks ago, it’s been a little slow coming, despite a furtive but memorable appearance this week. Celebrate the arrival of warmer weather with a caramelized fennel, leek and orange salad. Food 52
This dish of peas with baked ricotta and breadcrumbs is the perfect crossover. Sufficiently warm for those brisk days when spring hasn’t yet quite made it, but fresh enough to remind you it’s on its way. Serious Eats
As has been noted, it’s a little soon, but you can start dreaming about those outdoor summer dinner parties with these three entertaining tips from Tel Aviv. The Kitchn
Does buying a whole chicken feel like a daunting task? Face your fears head on with a tutorial video on how to cut a whole bird yourself, simply and without hassle. NYTimes Dining
I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, land of the constant restaurant. I once heard that Toledo was a pilot city for new restaurant ventures. Mind you, I’m not talking the latest in gastronomy or raw food, I’m talking Applebee’s, Carraba’s Italian Grill, or BW3 (now known as Buffalo Wild Wings).
Meat, potatoes and, of course, corn were the staples of my food experience. An occasional trip to a Chinese restaurant that served General Tso Chicken was adventurous for me at that time. Though Toledo has a large Lebanese population, I didn’t have Middle Eastern food until I took a job at a restaurant conveniently located down the street from my house.
I was in New York last week so I know firsthand what sort of spring the east coast has had. I was more than happy to shed my winter wardrobe and return to the balmy warmth of Israel, where spring has fully sprung. Since the growing seasons here tend to be a bit ahead of the States, I have a preview of what will be hitting American farmer’s markets any day now: artichokes, fava beans, asparagus, and the like.
I wanted to make a Shabbat meal that would celebrate springtime, a promise of what’s to come for those still shivering and seeking comfort food. So I came up with a light, healthy, clean meal bursting with the flavors of the season that can be served warm, room temperature, or even made ahead and served cold. The entire menu is parve and gluten free, so it can accommodate a variety of diets.
There are few things healthier than simple poached fish, nor easier to make. It takes about 3 minutes of prep and 5 minutes of cooking and you have perfectly cooked fish. Firm-fleshed salmon is an excellent choice for this cooking method, but halibut or cod would also work well.
When you can cook Shabbat dinner for 30-40 people, opening a restaurant is a cakewalk. Or so it seems for chef Einat Admony of Taim and Balaboosta fame, whose third restaurant, Bar Bolonat, will open in “hopefully mid-July” on the corner of Hudson and 12th Avenue in New York’s West Village.
The Forward’s Anne Cohen recently spoke by telephone with Admony to talk about what “New Israeli” food means to her, if she ever gets tired of cooking it, and how this restaurant is different from the others.
She even gave us a sneak peak at the menu… Judging by her descriptions, we should start counting down the days to “mid-July.”
How would you describe the food at Bar Bolonat?
New Israeli cuisine mostly, it’s very playful. It’s a little more elevated than Balaboosta. Over there is going to be a lot of twists on traditional food.
Assistant White House chef Sam Kass, who cooks weekly for President Barack Obama and helps run a program to battle childhood obesity, said on Tuesday he will be furloughed because of federal budget cuts.
Kass mentioned the furlough while talking to reporters about Let’s Move, a childhood obesity initiative of first lady Michelle Obama. The program will not be affected by automatic budget cuts that took effect on March 1 but he said, “We’re being furloughed.”
A White House spokesman who accompanied Kass to the briefing declined to comment and the White House provided no details. Kass said he continues to cook for the Obamas weekly despite his increasing duties with Let’s Move.
Pioneers of Jewish cuisine have rocked some pretty awesome variations on the sandwich, with staples like knishes and latkes taking the place of bread. This weekend saw the birth of a New York sandwich stand, Scharf & Zoyer (Yiddish for spicy and sour), which adds a slew of wild sandwiches to the Jewish sandwich movement. Most notably, the stand has its own twist on KFC’s Double Down, the Kugel Double Down: two slices of kugel, pan fried on both sides, and then sandwiched around maple farmers cheese and a slaw of apples and onions.
Noah Arenstein, a lawyer with a side job of food blogging and an honorary degree in grandma’s cooking, runs the show. He found inspiration for the Kugel Double Down in the Potato Pave recipe in Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc.” The recipe calls for pan-frying slices of a potato casserole, “I thought, you can totally do that with kugel,” said Arenstein, “in my less refined days we’d do it with bacon and cheese.”
Other Scharf & Zoyer offerings draw inspiration from Georgian cuisine, which he learned from a friend who served there with the Peace Corps. Arenstein was interested to learn about the Jewish population in Georgia and has put these influences to use, in addition to flavors from North Africa and Spain.
Right now, I feel pretty bad for myself. As a result of my personal version of a pre-Passover plague of bed bugs, everything I own is in a plastic garbage bag. My kitchen looks like a landfill; a giant heap of what looks like garbage, but is actually the only possessions I have to call my own. I have been wearing the same pair of pants for more than a week, and have been sleeping on my couch with a towel as a blanket.
But, at least I know I can survive this part. A few years ago I traveled through Nepal for a number of weeks with only one pair of pants and two shirts. I traveled from Israel and when the Nepali banks refused to exchange my shekels into rupees, I had no choice but to sit on the curb and cry. I was alone in a place I had never been and had nothing but the very few clothes in my pack. Where would I sleep? Where would my next meal come from?
Yitzie Katz’s “aha” moment for KosherRestaurantsGPS — a new app tracking 1,600 certified-kosher food establishments — came three years ago in Manhattan’s Garment District.
Parked outside W. 36th St. kosher hangout Jerusalem Café, the software developer noticed his car’s navigation system didn’t recognize the restaurant existed. Worse, he learned, “even if you used a GPS hardware device under the ‘kosher’ setting, not all the places listed were indeed kosher,” he told the Forward in an e-mail. “So I set out to create my own database of reliable kosher places and an app for iPhones and Android devices.”
The result, KosherRestaurantsGPS, has been downloaded more than 60,000 times since its January launch, Katz says. The app, available free from iTunes and the Android Google Play store, includes more than 1,300 locations “with strict kosher certification,” Katz says.
“I work with different rabbis who are in the kashrut business, and they’ve given me a list of those hashgacha [kosher certifications] considered reliable to 95% of the Orthodox community. I consult with them frequently,” Katz said. “But I also tell my users to check the website or call the establishment and confirm the hashgacha because they may have changed and I have not been informed yet, or there’s that 5% chance you don’t hold by a particular hashgacha.”
It’s here! The New York Times Magazine’s 2013 food and drink issue is out this weekend in print and online. Features range from hunting and killing your own dinner to the rise of healthful fast food. [The New York Times]
Bye-bye matzo! Welcome all that delicious chametz back into your life with one of our favorite challah recipes. [Smitten Kitchen]
Or sweeten the end of Pesach with some babka. [The Jewish Week]
Craving spring flavors? Lemons can hold you over until the season gets fully underway. [Food 52]
Hitler’s food taster talks about her bitter years during the war. [Spiegel]
Another look at Washington, D.C.’s DGS Delicatessen and the modern deli renaissance. [NPR]
Kim Kushner, author of the newly published “The Modern Menu,” hadn’t planned on writing a cookbook. It came about as a result of her cooking students’ constantly asking her to compile her recipes, like curried couscous salad, crunchy curry cauliflower with tahini and pomegranate, chicken with pumpkin, figs, and honey, and tequila London broil with mango chutney.
Kushner responded with a kosher cookbook with recipes for simple, flavorful dishes photographed in a stunningly simple, but highly appealing fashion. “The Modern Menu” is about food that highlights fresh ingredients and evokes a sense of home, warmth and hospitality.
This is very much in keeping with Kushner’s approach to cooking, which is greatly influenced by her growing up in her Israeli-Moroccan mother’s kitchen in Montreal. In the introduction to her book, Kushner recalls that her childhood home was always filled with guests for dinner and Shabbat and holiday meals.
If the recipes of my life were bound into a book, surely the page for my dad’s ricotta pancakes would be the most well loved — splattered with old batter and lightly dusted in flour. It’s the recipe I reach for when I miss my childhood home or when I’m entertaining friends for brunch and when I can’t decide what to make — even if it’s dinner time.
The year I lived in Israel when I was 22 years old could easily be renamed “My Year in Pancakes.” Nearly ever Shabbat brought a different pancake recipe, many made in sparse kitchens without measuring cups or spoons. There were the lemon poppy seed pancakes that my roommate fell for, monkey cakes packed with chocolate, candied pecans and bananas devoured by my kibbutznik friends during gossip sessions the morning after a big party, and pear and strawberry pancakes made with supremely ripe fruit gathered right before the horn was sounded in Jerusalem’s market to announce the beginning of Shabbat. Since that year, I’ve flirted with pumpkin pancake recipes, chocolate chip and raspberry ones and countless others.
Last year, for the first time ever, I was alone on the last night of Passover.
No big deal, right? I had managed to get home to Montreal for the first two nights of Seder, had a steady supply of matzo and a fridge packed with leftovers, and to be honest, was kind of looking forward to not having to eat neon orange, kosher for Passover cheese now that I was on my own — so what was the problem?
But, for Moroccan Jews, Passover isn’t Passover without Mimouna, a kind of bread and carb-filled smorgasbord that takes place at sundown on the last night of the holiday.
So, along with another friend who keenly felt the absence of her grandmother’s mufletas (a Moroccan crêpe served with about 18 spoons of sugar or honey), we tried to organize our own Mimouna.
Like anything else in the Moroccan-Jewish community, no one can agree about the origins of Mimouna. Some say that the name comes from emunah, or faith, or even from the Arabic word for luck. Others argue that it’s a pagan holiday co-opted for Passover purposes, and has absolutely no religious component.
This blog post originally appeared on J. Weekly.
The phrase “school lunch” conjures up images of soggy chicken tenders or limp spaghetti in my mind. Yours too?
What if I told you that I ate lunch at a San Francisco high school recently and sampled Israeli couscous with beets … rainbow chard with white beans … coconut-cilantro rice with yams and broccoli … Brussels sprouts and apples with shallots, mashed kabocha and butternut squash … and celery root soup?
While the Jewish Community High School of the Bay’s lunch program has gained notice since Jesse Buckner-Alper started it in 2005, for its emphasis on healthy, organic, vegetarian and kosher food — even winning a Golden Carrot award from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — the school is not resting on its laurels. Rather, lunch director Risa Lichtman has instituted an Eat Local Day, which I attended last month.
Farmers market booths and food trucks don’t usually come to mind when one thinks of glatt kosher food. But that’s exactly how Michele Grant of The Kosher Palate is bringing organic, locally and sustainably sourced delights to Los Angeles’ kosher community.
Her food truck, Hannah Leah (named for her two grandmothers), sells vegetarian and vegan twists on traditional Jewish food for market goers to snack on or take home.
“I’m focused on broadening the palate of kosher eaters by introducing them to world cuisine and new culinary trends and techniques,” Grant explained. “But I am also trying to remove the stigma other people associate with glatt kosher food, to get people to stop crinkling their noses at the mention of it.”
Her “Ish-knish” is made with whole grain dough with squash or sweet potatoes mixed in. The filling contains roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions and a tapioca-based cheese substitute. She makes a matzo brie kugel topped with a sweet Sephardic eggplant sauce drizzled with a tofutti cream on top. “People taste the eggplant sauce and think it’s made from figs or quince,” Grant said.
My usual preparation for Passover entails reading and contemplating a lot (did I say “a lot”?) about the meaning of freedom and liberation; gratitude for the myriad ways I am blessed to experience it daily, and pondering the responsibilities it imposes on me to help free others less fortunate. I also focus on “cleaning out the chametz” theme by getting back to basics about the food I put into my body - everything I eat is homemade, not processed or packaged.
I often get bored by the fourth day and have been hungry for new recipes. This year, the timing was right and I was lucky to attend a Vegan Passover Cooking class with our favorite vegan chef, Philip Gelb in Oakland, CA. The dish that particularly drew my attention was “Roasted Beets with Horseradish and Basil”.
There are certain dishes we expect to see at a traditional Passover table. Chicken soup dotted with fluffy matzoh balls, moist and slow-roasted brisket, maybe even a crisp potato kugel as a classic side dish. But sometimes, when my family wants to spice things up a bit, we look to our Latin culinary traditions for inspiration. For example, as an alternative to a potato-filled side, we prefer to take a cue from the tropical motherland, and feature dishes using the starchy green plantain banana to mop up the juicy overflow from the meat.
Plantain bananas exhibit the “waste not, want not” mentality that my family has embraced for generations, as different dishes are created depending on the degree of ripeness in which you find your banana. Most people are familiar with the classic fried sweet plantains that accompany many a Cuban dish, called “platanos” — their sweet flesh caramelizes in the hot oil, making them irresistible. Unfortunately, to get this dish just right, fried platanos require the plantain to be over-ripe, letting the sugars really develop and the peel turn almost black. This process can take weeks, which is why I believe recipes were created for the days between. After all, my family is not known for our patience. When plantains are green, their starchy flesh resembles the consistency of a potato, and its flavor is just as mild. Thus, it is featured in many savory dishes in much the same way as a potato is. Plantain chips and tostones, for instance, are made with green, under-ripe bananas.
Mashed potatoes are a favorite of my meat-and-potatoes Midwestern husband, and in my household growing up, they were a crowd-pleaser, as well. Thus, as an unexpected twist to the classic mash, my family was partial to mashed green plantains, and they often made an appearance on our dinner table. Some cultures call it mofongo, and others call it mangu, but in Santiago de Cuba, where my family is from, the name is simple: Fufú.
Is there a box of matzo that’s worth $27. [Serious Eats]
These chametz-free desserts are making our sugar tooth ache. [Serious Eats]
These ones too. Can you say chocolate coconut matzo ice cream? [Serious Eats]
This weekend, swap out pancakes for vegetable matzo frittata Boston.com]
We might just have to break Passover on this… Rustic Beet Tart and Wilted Greens. [Food52]
Does it matter who grew your food? [TEDx]
This blog post originally appeared on What’s Your Food Worth?
Sue Fishkoff is the editor of j., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. Previously she has worked as a national correspondent for the JTA Jewish news service, focusing on Jewish identity and culture. Her freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Hadassah Magazine, and the London Jewish Chronicle. From 1991-1997, she was a staff writer for the Jerusalem Post, serving as the paper’s New York bureau chief from 1991 to 1994. She is the author of “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch” (Schocken Books, 2003) and “Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority” (Schocken, October 2010.)
Recently Fishkoff answered a few questions from Bryant Simon at What’s Your Food Worth.
As a long-time vegetarian, when I think of Passover, I am not thrilled by my food choices. At least, I wasn’t until I spent Passover 1992 in Israel and realized that I could follow Sephardic rules. I’m sure my ancestors in 1509 Portugal probably ate beans and rice, and maybe even corn by then, but their decedents likely stopped after fleeing to Poland during the Inquisition.
That leaves me, having grown up trying to make desserts with matzah meal for my family. I have my own traditions now, including a wine cake (arguably the only palatable use for sweet Passover wine), brownies that come out more like fudge, and at least one experimental treat. The family seders I grew up with, we generally had Barton’s candies, fruit jells (I loved the yellow and orange ones), boxes of chocolate covered matzah, and chocolate covered orange peels. The homemade desserts were either fruit compote or sponge cake. Getting creative with the after meal items was intensely challenging, as there were not a lot of K for P options in Knoxville. That, and my mom, who did all of the cooking also had a full time job and three of us kids to deal with in addition to holiday preparations.
Every Jewish cook has their Passover mainstays, which are usually divided down a line: Ashkenazi or Sephardic, depending on their family’s country of origin. On a recent Tuesday morning we decided to cross over and try our hands at making traditional Syrian Passover foods.
Our teacher was Jennifer Abadi, author of “A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen,” private chef and teacher of culinary classes all over Manhattan. Abadi recently launched a new blog, Too Good to Passover, which she’s hoping to grow into a book about Sephardic Passover foods, encompassing foods from many different Middle Eastern cultures.
She promised to keep it simple, and she did. We started our cooking class with macaroons. Forget the canned coconut variety you’re used to… these are made of pistachios. Abadi used salted and unsalted pistachios to get a salty-sweet combination that’s popular in Syrian cooking. The sugar and pistachios were pulsed together in a food processor and egg whites and rose water added later (technically, the recipe calls for orange blossom water, but that’s harder to find).