The Jew And The Carrot

Killing Our Living Waters

By Rabbi Jacob Elisha Fine

Julie Fine

During the High Holy Days when we are asked to take stock of our own lives and to squarely confront our own mortality, it is appropriate to also examine the well-being of the larger Creation upon which we depend, and of which we are a part. When we consider water, it has been quite a year indeed. We have witnessed a frightening series of droughts, forest fires, floods, ice melts, heat waves, and other extreme weather events. On top of these natural phenomena, hydrofracking has emerged as one of the most significant environmental issues of our time. Kyle Rabin, Director of GRACE Foundation’s Water and Energy Programs, notes that, “It takes 4.5 million gallons of water to drill and fracture a typical deep shale gas well, and up to 1 million gallons of that hazardous water-sand-chemical mixture flows back up to the surface which, if mishandled, can pose a threat to nearby water resources.”

The Torah is full of references to “mayim chayim,” “living waters.” The language of mayim chayim is used in a number of contexts. It is used to describe the fresh, potable water that Isaac’s servants find when re-digging Abraham’s stopped wells (Genesis 26:19), and by the prophet Jeremiah who refers to the Creator as the “Source of Living Waters,” (Jeremiah 17:13). Finally, the language of “living waters” in used commonly in the context of ritual purification for both people and for objects (Numbers 19:17 for example).

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Bagels Beware: Lox Is Recalled

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Thinkstock

You may want to hold off on that lox to go with your bagel and schmear — at least until you can be sure that the smoked salmon was not produced by the Dutch company Foppen.

There has been a widespread salmonella food poisoning outbreak linked to Foppen’s lox, which is sold in the United States by Costco, under its Kirkland house brand. In response to notification on Monday of the outbreak by Foppen, Costco has removed all of the lox from its shelves and has blocked it from being scanned at its stores’ checkouts.

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The Scent of Sukkot — In a Bottle

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Ayala Moriel

Ayala Moriel, a Vancouver-based artisan natural perfumer is attracting some interesting attention this sukkot and it’s not for her sukkah. Moriel has bottled the scent of the holiday (or atleast it’s signature fruit) in her Etrog Oy de Cologne. The perfume is made by blending the essence of etrog or citron with smells of pomelo, Japanese mint, green myrtle, honey, lemon myrtle and frankincense.

The scent is one of the latest among the approximately 50 all-natural hand crafted fragrances Moriel has created for Ayala Moriel Parfums, the company she started in 2001. “It’s climbing fast onto my bestseller list. It’s nice to see something new so well received,” she said about the etrog cologne, which has more staying power than most citrus fragrances, which tend to dissipate quickly.

Although Moriel is known mainly for her botanical fragrances, some of which are considered by experts to be as refined as some of the classical European perfumes. She has also begun to expand her offerings to include perfumed tea and chocolates.

“It’s like adapting a short story into a movie” Moriel said of her process of producing food stuffs that correspond to her perfumes.

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Sukkot Meals: Sweet and Sour Stuffed Onions

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

Stuffed vegetables are a central part of the Jewish culinary canon, but growing up I thought they were limited to cabbage and peppers. Only when I moved to Israel did I come to appreciate the sheer multitude of vegetables that can be stuffed — peppers and cabbage yes, but also tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, onions, and more. Of all of them it was the stuffed onions that were a true revelation, those delicate, tear-inducing layers wrapped around sweet and savory mixtures of meat and stewed until rich and tender.

They make the perfect dish for Sukkot either as a side or centerpiece. While there are no foods specific to the fall harvest holiday, stuffed items — in the form of kreplach, stuffed vegetables, fruit-filled pastries, and whatever else you might imagine — have become the standard. Some believe that stuffed foods represent the bounty that comes with a good harvest. Others say that stuffed foods are akin to being wrapped in a Sukkah. On a practical level, stuffed vegetables can also be made ahead, are good hot or room temperature, and can be easily transported to the Sukkah. Whatever the reason, it’s a delicious custom.

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Mixing Bowl: Pastrami Kung Pao; Sukkah Meals

By Devra Ferst

iStock

Pastrami is no longer just deli fare. In New York, you’ll find it in tacos, ramen and even Kung Pao. [Fork in the Road]

In the Jewish Cookery Book, the first kosher and Jewish cookbook published in America, author Esther Levy provides a recipe for challah but calls it something completely different. Curious? Find out what she called it. [Haaretz]

Celebrate fall and have a delicious meal in the Sukkah with Ruth Reichl’s pumpkin pancakes. [Ruth Reichl]

If you need a break from hummus on your challah, try this delicious sounding bean dip with dill, mint and parsley. [David Lebovitz]

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Molecular Gastronomy (Finally) Hits the Kosher World

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Flickr: kochtopf
Seasoned steak being prepared for the sous vide machine.

Yehuda Goldberg, owner and chef at Sepha Catering in Toronto is offering his clients something unusual.

As far as Goldberg knows, he is the only kosher caterer in the city — and perhaps anywhere — using the French cooking method sous vide. The technique, which means “under vacuum” in French, calls for food to be sealed in an airtight plastic bag and immersed in a bath of low temperature water for extended periods of time resulting in extremely moist and flavorful dishes.

The technique is part of the school of molecular gastronomy, which uses modern technology and science to manipulate food. Avant-garde chefs like Grant Achatz and Ferran Adria have used carbon dioxide to create bubbles or foam, liquid nitrogen for flash freezing and shattering and ultrasound waves to control cooking times. Until now, molecular gastronomy was virtually unheard of in the kosher community, but Goldberg, who hails from a large Lubavitcher family and trained in Europe, hopes to change that.

We chatted with him about ultra-moist gefilte fish, a 27-hour brisket, and what sous vide chefs call “the danger zone.”

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Not Outraged? You're Not Paying Attention!

By Jonathan Zasloff

If you’re Jewish, and into food, and not outraged, then you’re not paying attention.

Americans like to think of ourselves as a generous people, and we are – even though special interests transform much of our international food aid programs into a wasteful boondoggle that undermines the abilities of communities and countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to feed themselves. And that’s what’s happening now. Food aid is critical and important, but for it to work, it needs to work right, and right now, not enough of it is.

Here’s why: if children are starving in part of Ethiopia, it makes sense for US aid dollars to buy food from farmers close by in other parts of Ethiopia or neighboring countries. Buying locally develops and sustains local agriculture, and gets the food to those in need quickly. But instead current US law requires virtually all food aid to be bought from heavily subsidized US agribusinesses and shipped overseas. That means that more than half of every food aid grain dollar is wasted in subsidizing large companies and shipping costs and takes up to 14 weeks longer to reach hungry people than buying food locally. And it’s even worse than that, because sending free or subsidized US grain to developing countries such as Haiti can undermine local agriculture in the long-term, making future famines more likely, as communities are no longer able to feed themselves in the face of future shocks such as drought. Communities in which I have worked as a volunteer with American Jewish World Service are now far more vulnerable to hunger are a result of of subsidized US food dumped into their countries.

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Eat More on Yom Kippur?

By Elizabeth Traison

Elizabeth Traison

For the most part, Jews celebrate good things with lots of food. Holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Passover bring to mind full bellies and bubbie’s matzo ball soup, perhaps even more than the feelings of repentance and liberation they are supposed to invoke. On the other hand, to commemorate sad events, we fast. The temple was destroyed on Tisha B’Av, and an assassination marked the end of Jewish autonomy in Jerusalem (Tzom Gedaliah) and on these days, we refrain from eating to better concentrate on the solemnness of the day.

But Yom Kippur, the holiest of the Jewish holidays, breaks the mold: On Yom Kippur we’re supposed to not eat and be happy about it. The haftarah traditionally read on Yom Kippur makes this explicitly clear. Referring to the ancient Jews wearing sackcloth and ashes, the prophet Isaiah says in the name of God, “Do you call that a fast?” I imagine the end of the sentence must have gone “I’ll show YOU a fast!” as white linen-clad Isaiah dances an over-the-top dance to demonstrate his glee in front of a roomful of Jews in sackcloth and misery.

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Cooking Ahead: A Complete Break Fast Menu

By Devra Ferst

Katherine Martinelli
Mezze are a perfect dish to welcome you home after a day of fasting and are easily made a day or two before.

After a day of atoning and fasting, the last thing any of us want to do is walk into our kitchen, fire up the stove and start cooking a meal that won’t be ready for a few hours. The key to preparing a lovely and delicious break fast, whether it’s for your family or a large group, is to cook dishes that store well and to reheat or finish them at the last moment. We’ve outlined a complete meal here. If you have family traditions for break fast, consider incorporating a dish or two from this menu to try something new.

Challah

While baking challah in advance isn’t the ideal situation, these two recipes call for apples or apple cider, which gives the challah a bit of extra moisture to help it stay fresh a day after it’s baked.

Apple Cider Challah

Apple Honey Challah

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Restaurants Serve Up Yom Kippur Break Fast

By Lisa Amand

Courtesy of Miriam Restaurant

After a long day of prayers and atonement, the Yom Kippur fast ends at sunset and Jews gather to Break Fast and break bread.

Many people want to go home after synagogue services, putting together a traditional dinner, while some prefer to let a restaurant be the host, relax and be pampered like the chosen people. Here are a few suggestions should you want to let someone else do the cooking.

Brooklyn
No need to make a reservation at Miriam’s, a Mediterranean-Jewish restaurant in Brooklyn. Eat at the wooden bar or grab a coveted place at the tall, communal table in the front window of this popular Park Slope spot. Families and couples can spread out at one of the cozy dining room tables. The long, colorful haunt is strewn with Moroccan lights and atmospheric candles. On Miriam’s menu for Break Fast: roasted, boneless free-range chicken with Israeli couscous, roasted butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. Grass-fed, braised short ribs with traditional kugel is another holiday entree. Those preferring lighter fare can sup on chicken noodle soup served with kreplach.
79 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, will be open until 10:30 Wednesday, 718-622-2250.

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Bringing Mindfulness to the Break Fast Table

By Katherine Romanow

Myrite Rotstein

With the days of Yamim Noraim almost at their beginning not only have my thoughts turned to the dishes I want to make for all the glorious holiday meals that are coming up, but also to the fast of Yom Kippur that will end this time of introspection and atonement.

Fasting is a ritual that is not only central within Jewish tradition but stretches across other religious traditions. Muslims practice the month long fast of Ramadan, while adherents of various Christian denominations, such as Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church, fast during the period of Lent. The Baha’I religion has a feast similar to Ramadan and the first Sunday of each month is a fast day for Mormons.

These periods of fasting offer us the opportunity for intense spiritual connectedness and spiritual nourishment. Yet there is no doubt that by the end of the fast people’s thoughts are begin to turn towards the long awaited break-fast meal.

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Deli Vandals: NY's Lansky's Was Ransacked

By Seth Berkman

Flickr: Alanmayers

On Wednesday, Lansky’s Traditional Jewish Deli on New York’s Upper West Side was closed after equipment was broken, money was stolen from the register and walls were vandalized.

The West Side Rag reported that owner David Ruggerio said someone broke in on late Tuesday and wrote “ugly” and “offensive” words on the walls.

The New York Post reported detectives are looking at the possibility that it was an inside job. Ruggerio claimed that two weeks earlier, a dishwasher and an accomplice broke into the deli and cooked themselves meals. After both incidents, Ruggerio said he saw a message left behind, “’NOPOLR,’” with capital A’s in the two O’s and the word “California” beneath.

The Post also reported that in 1999, Ruggerio pled guilty to adding $100,000 in tips to credit card bills.

Ruggerio hopes to re-open Friday evening.


Fire 'Em Up: Manhattan's Kosher BBQ Competition

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

Thinkstock

It’s boy (and girl) meets (kosher) grill on Sunday at Fairway Market’s First Annual Manhattan Kosher Grilling Challenge.

Three amateur chefs (who were chosen from more than 100 grilling fans) will show off their barbecue chops for a chance to win some serious bragging rights as “best kosher griller” at the challenge, part of the 92nd Street Y’s annual street fair.

Jarod Lojeck of Stamford, Connecticut will compete with Dov’s Stuffed Burger, two quarter-pound patties stuffed with sautéed onions and Russian dressing. The recipe was modeled after a similar cheese-filled burger he saw made on a cooking show. “The Russian dressing gives it that creamy taste that you might get with cheese,” he said.

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Mixing Bowl: DIY Tahini; I Dream of Falafel

By Devra Ferst

iStock

Just because Rosh Hashanah is over, doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate the start of the year with something sweet. Here are 11 great honey recipes including one for Fig, Phyllo and Honey Stacks and another for Lavender Honey Thyme Frozen Yogurt. [Serious Eats]

…And if you’re going through apple withdraw after the holiday, try this simple Cranberry Apple Strudel. [Serious Eats]

If you love making your own hummus, try this DIY tahini recipe. [The Kitchn]

I Dream of Falafel is perhaps the best name for a falafel shop we’ve ever heard of. Plus they serve sweet potato falafel. How are we just hearing about this? [Serious Eats]

Take a look into how Kellogg’s keep Corn Flakes kosher in the world’s largest cereal plant. [The Jewish Chronicle]

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Scrumptious Shabbat Salads For Any Season

By Rachel Harkham

Rachel Harkham
delicious bibimbap salad

During the hot summer months my mother had a few standard Shabbat-lunch salads. There was a Carrot Pineapple salad made with crunchy sweet carrots cut into matchsticks and mixed together with a syrupy can of crushed pineapple. Also in her repertoire; a leafy green salad with chopped chicken and a dressing that I swear tasted like lemonade. Looking back on it I can’t blame her for her haphazard combinations, she just wanted to get back to her beloved rest-day ritual of devouring a good book or two.

Like Mom, I recognize the merits of a thrown together Shabbat salad. For me it is a celebration of non- cooking, an opportunity for creative re-assigning, and an invitation to experiment. This summer of Saturday Salads began with a Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Salad, which featured leftover cornmeal crusted chicken strips on a bed of shredded lettuce, a scattering of minced chili peppers, cubed avocado and diced tomato and topped off with crushed tortilla chips. It was flavorful and full of texture, but not so impressive on the “lite ‘n healthy” scale.

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Revitalized Rugelach with Raspberries and Chocolate

By Shoshana Davis

Flickr: Carly & Art

Growing up I was spoiled. My grandfather was a baker and he always had fresh out of the oven cookies for us. His rainbow cookies were my favorite.

After coming over from Germany, he began his career creating confections for the US Army during World War II, and moved on to own a bakery in the heart of Queens. My grandmother ran the books and decorated the windows, while my mother and her sister learned basic arithmetic working the register, and got into sisterly spats ending with throwing a pie across the room.

Now, years later, I’m attempting to recreate some of his delicious recipes with just his note cards to guide me — and a little help from my mom.

What might seem like a step by step process is actually a gigantic undertaking as it is no easy task to convert his notes into something you might find in a cookbook. His recipe cards are essentially just a list of ingredients on a piece of paper. Like any consumer based kitchen, his measurements are 17 times larger than what I can make in my mixer, contain loads of fat (even lard!) and often ingredients that are much harder to keep at home (like a starter). I decided to tackle one of the easier recipes and attempt to recreate his rugelach.

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Slivovitz Fans Vote for Their Favorites

By Ezra Glinter

Ezra Glinter

Which is the best slivovitz in the land? Slivophiles across America will have to wait until October 13 to find out the official results of the International Slivovitz Drinkers Association, which will hold this year’s U.S. Slivovitz Festival at the Northeastern Hotel on Dunlap Island, Minnesota. But a few enterprising slivofans got the party started early, with simultaneous celebrations on September 8 at a residential home in Queens, New York and at Lambert’s Seafood Restaurant and Sports Bar in Glenn Dale, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.

(For more info on the Eastern European plum brandy, see my previous articles for the Forward here and here.)

Gian Cossa, organizer of the Washington festival, reported that of the slivovitzes sampled the favorites were Clear Creek, from the Clear Creek distillery in Oregon, and the Jelinek 10-year, a classic slivovitz from the Czech Republic. According to Cossa, the festival was one of the liveliest to date with an attendance of approximately 60 to 75 people throughout the day, and visitors coming from as far away as Pittsburgh and South Virginia.

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Q&A: Avoiding the Lunch Box Blues

By Blair Thornburgh

Courtesy of J.M. Hirsch

As food editor for the Associated Press, it’s no surprise that J.M. Hirsch spends his days writing about food. But he’s become known on the Internet for an interesting twist on his day job: lunch blogger. Hirsch began his popular “Lunch Box Blues” website about the seemingly straightforward task that parents know is anything but simple: packing his eight-year-old son Parker’s lunch every day. On the blog, he chronicles everything — from the vegetable victories to the lonesome leftovers —five days a week. The Jew and the Carrot spoke with Hirsch by phone about all things lunch: prepping, packing, and the perils of PB&J.

What inspired you to start a blog?

I wish that the blog was my brilliant idea, but it wasn’t. I was having lunch with someone one day, and we were comparing notes about our kids’ lunches, and she looked at me, and she said “You have got to start a blog about your son’s lunch.” And I said, “You’re crazy. Nobody cares that much about my son’s lunch.” So I ignored her, and a couple months later…I said “fine. I’ll do it, but I’m not gonna like it.” So I got a template for a blog, the most minimalist template I could find online, and I said “All I’m gonna do is take a picture of his lunch every day and write a description of what he’s eating.”

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Six Questions for Cookbook Author Helen Nash

By Leah Koenig

Ann Stratton

Whether or not they realize it, today’s Jewish food lovers, particularly the kosher-keeping ones, owe a debt of thanks to Helen Nash. Born in 1935 in Krakow, Poland, to a prominent Orthodox family, Nash, a longtime member of Manhattan’s Upper East Side society (she learned to cook as a newlywed, by taking lessons with culinary legends like Marcella Hazan), was an early champion of the notion that kosher food could be sophisticated and elegant rather than oppressively heavy. With restaurants like Pardes in Brooklyn and Jezebel in Manhattan making headlines today, the idea of artisanal kosher food seems almost obvious. But when Nash published “Kosher Cuisine,” those words were still an oxymoron.

Nash, now 77, recently published her newest book, “Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish” — a cookbook that builds on her lifelong good taste while focusing on dishes that are simple and accessible for novice and studied cooks alike. Nash spoke with the Forward’s Leah Koenig about the impact of the Internet on the kosher food world, her secret to making perfectly moist chopped liver (hint: It’s not more oil) and why, at its heart, all kosher cooking is about family.

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Serving Up the Nose and Tail in Toronto

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Noah Goldberg

Chef Noah Goldberg returned to his native Toronto last January after working several years in New York for culinary legends Susur Lee and Daniel Boulud, and in London for Anthony Demetre and Fergus Henderson, wanting to create something unique. He envisioned a restaurant where patrons would eat not only whole meals, but also whole animals.

So, in May, Goldberg opened The Feasting Room, an experimental pop-up restaurant in a music bar in downtown Toronto. The restaurant is offering a blind six-course tasting menu dinner five evenings a week for six months, with the menu each week focusing on a different animal. Although diners know what animal they will be eating, they have no idea what dishes will be served. Upon being seated, they get a card with a drawing of the animal, with numbers on it corresponding to the part of the animal being used in each course. Nothing goes to waste, with Goldberg and his team devising dishes that use everything from nose to tail. So far, they have done this for rabbit, goose, lamb, pig, chicken, cow, duck, turkey and buffalo. Now that the fall is here, game will be coming soon.

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