Tamar Adler's Fried Jewish Artichokes
Save the Bubbes!
The Curious History of Kosher Salt
Shiva for Stage Deli
Berlin's Jewish Foodie Comeback
The Great Deli Rescue
Romping Through the Jewish Pumpkin Patch
Haimish to Haute, NYC Transforms Jewish Food
Bay Area's DIY Jewish Food Movement
Yid.Dish Recipe Box
'Inside the Jewish Bakery’
The Bacon Problem
Manischewitz Goes Sephardic
Jews and the Booze
Jews and Beer
Taking the Food Tour That Keeps on Feeding
At Kosher Feast, Fried Locusts for Dessert
Live Long and Super: Supermarket History
A Slice of Hebrew Pizza
Grow and Behold: A New Line of Kosher Chicken Launches A Conversation Around Jewish Food Ethics
When In Rome… Eat Like the Jews Do
A Letter to Our Readers
JCarrot Archives: 2006-August 2010
Shabbat Dinner, With Panache
If the purpose of dipping apple slices into honey on Rosh Hashanah is to bring about a sweet year, caramel candy apples offer a kind of extreme dipping. The recipe puts a new twist on a custom that is hundreds of years old.
Some believe that the tradition of dipping apples in honey originated from Solomon’s “Song of Songs” which says, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved — Israel.” In addition, a midrash, or biblical tale, says that trees and all vegetation were created on Rosh Hashanah eve. Others argue that the tradition came from Eastern Europe, where few biblical fruits, other than the apple, were common. Apple trees were also harvested around the holiday season. Either way, it is a beautiful custom: apples, the fruits of love, created on Rosh Hashanah eve, dipped in nature’s sweetest goo. It’s a sticky, finger-licking reminder of a sweet year.
Caramel candy apples are a snazzy version of the practice, like an ancient tradition on steroids. The process of making them is rather straightforward and a fun way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen, especially with kids. Each caramel apple is dipped in a delicious lacquer of the gooey stuff and individually designed with endless options for colorful toppings.
Apple cake is one of Judaism’s most enduring recipes. Every family has its own method and nary a Jewish cookbook is without an entry for this perennial favorite. While the cake is popular year round, at no time does it see more action than during Rosh Hashanah, when apples and honey represent a sweet new year. But there are many other simanim (the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah) that get overlooked and this year I wanted to bring them into the picture.
In a humorous twist of history and translation, apples may not have even been one of the biblical fruits of the bible. According to Gil Marks in “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” the bible mentions tapuach, which in modern Hebrew means apple. “However,” he says, “many authorities believe that the biblical tapuach was in fact a different fruit, perhaps the quince or a citrus fruit, because in the biblical period, the apple primarily grew wild and was not yet easily cultivated in tropical areas like Israel and Egypt.”
Start the year off well, be bold, shine forth with simplicity. Rosh Hashanah foods are meant not just to tickle our taste buds but also to inspire. The flavors and textures of holiday foods are meant to encourage the turn towards new possibilities. According Gilda Angel, the author of the “Sephardic Holiday Cooking,” Turkish Jewish cuisine, which relies on bright flavors of vegetables, side lining the heavy spices that dress up other Middle Eastern Jewish culinary traditions, is the perfect way to give the New Year a bright bold fresh start.
Like other Sephardic Jews, Turkish Jews who are originally of Spanish decent make food a spiritual centerpiece of the holiday. Drawing on the ancient Talmudic custom of eating foods that embody the wishes that we have for the New Year, Sephardic Jews around the world have developed complex holiday menus utilizing the ingredients that correlate to the blessings for the New Year. For those worried that there might be a negative decree in the coming year, try eating pumpkin dishes, such as the Pan De Calabaza, a pumpkin bread from the menu below, which will work to annul the decree. Leeks, like those who found in the Keftes De Prasa, or leek fritters, also below help give us luck instead of strengthen those who seek to triumph over us.
When I participated in the Adamah Fellowship at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in the fall of 2006, I remember feeling such amazement at the way that the High Holidays perfectly lined up with the agricultural calendar. I arrived at the farm just in time to see summer turn into fall — to harvest the last of the tomatoes and eggplants, clear out old cucumber and summer squash plants and begin to put the field “to bed,” planting cover crop and spreading manure to ensure fertile soil for the next growing season. As we celebrated the New Year, we dipped the first of the season’s apples into honey and feasted upon the frost-sweetened storage crops of the season: carrots, beets, and potatoes.
This year, the beginning of fall brought on the terrific force of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Connecticut rainstorms usually bring about an inch of rain, but these storms together brought between 9 and 11.5 inches of rain. This massive amount of water caused our main field, the sadeh, to flood — not once, but twice. As these waters rushed over the rows of carefully tended vegetables, they wreaked havoc. Low-lying vegetables such as cabbages and carrots were drowned. Other crops were simply swept away. The winter squash, which had been gathering sugars to be as sweet as possible for harvest, floated in the floodwaters to the woods at the edges of the field. Because of possible contamination in the floodwaters, vegetables that remained after the waters receded have been deemed unsafe to eat. Topsoil — the fertile, soft soil that farmers spend almost as much time cultivating as they do vegetables — was completely washed from the field. The past seven years of composting and cover cropping was lost and will have to begin our next season on hard, compacted soil.
There are no lack of recipes to cook up this Rosh Hashanah (we’ll share some of ours on Monday). In the meantime, check out the LA Times for chicken stuffed with brown rice and grapes and fruit “carpaccio.” Tablet shares recipes for a Persian meal including Quince and Veal Chorosht’e Be, Persian Chicken Soup With Chickpea Dumplings and Persian Sweet Rice With Orange and Carrots.
Looking to try out some new apple varieties this Rosh Hashanah? The Kitchn’ gives the low down on a bushel of them.
While those of us on a gluten-free diet may have our daily eating habits under control, the chagim (Jewish Holidays) present a whole new array of challenges. Unless you’re preparing a holiday feast in your own home where everything is under control and to your own standards, it’s often difficult to eat out — even if it’s with family.
For those of you gluten-free folks out there, hopefully your family is open to helping you navigate your way successfully through the holiday while keeping everyone happy. Just remember: many delicious dishes can be prepared easily sans gluten and so many are naturally gluten-free, such as salads, soups, sides…unfortunately just not a typical noodle kugel (unless you’re going to be adventurous and make your own egg noodles) nor a typical challah. Here is a quick guide to navigating Rosh Hashanah gluten-free with a few recipe links and ideas to help you out at this holiday season. Chag Sameach!
A few years ago, before beekeeping was legalized in New York, I purchased the last Brooklyn Bee honey of the season from rooftop beekeeper John Howe. In addition to showcasing a unique, hard-to-find urban honey for my family, my goal was to make a statement at the Rosh Hashanah table about the value of small-scale agriculture and the high quality of local honey…from bees pollinating my own backyard.
Little did I know that in trumpeting Brooklyn’s local honey I was potentially protecting my family from tainted honey from China. Smuggled Chinese honey is estimated to make up about a third of the industrially produced honey consumed in the US, according to last month’s chilling report by Andrew Schneider of Food Safety News.
My happiest memories of my father are of mid afternoon Fridays, the only time we would find him in the kitchen. A flock of six kids, like turtles making their journey back to the sea, trekking back home tired and famished on mid afternoon Fridays.
A couple of my younger siblings, walking a few miles back home from school, moments ago just jolted out of their seats in their classrooms, at the much awaited sound of the bell signaling the end of school week and freedom.
Another brother or a sister, stepping back home, dusty from an excursion on the patchy green, mostly sandy play area or from a playful ride outside on our lone brand new bike. I am hitchhiking in the scorching sun, from my army base somewhere in central Israel and heading home south, after an entire week or two of being away. Us all famished and cannot wait for Friday night Shabbat dinner.
Daniel Rogov, who passed away recently, may have gained notoriety for putting Israeli wine on the map, but it was as a food writer that he got his start. And while he will likely be most remembered for his impact on viticulture, his influence on the Israeli culinary scene was no less profound.
“He played an important role in our industry and [for] chefs,” says Jerusalem chef Michael Katz, owner of Adom, Colony, and Lavan at the Cinematheque. “Daniel Rogov was a very controversial person. Some people said he had no idea; some said he is a professional; some said he should have stuck to wine only; some said he had no idea about [being a] food critic; some said he was the best — what I am trying to say [is] that among the professional people there was no one idea or thought about the man…. Our opinion does not really matter [since] the public respected him and listened to him.”
“Take a bite, and if you don’t like it, spit it out!” said the veteran BBQ judge to my left as I eased into a folding chair, the smell of kosher brisket and ribs hovering over a packed parking lot of an Orthodox synagogue in Memphis on Sunday.
Before a recent move to Memphis, I considered myself to be pretty comfortable around a grill. After all, I was raised in Kansas City, and spent the last five years working in Texas, two areas of the country where BBQ is king. But as I sat down at the judges table at the 23rd Annual Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth (ASBEE) World Kosher BBQ Championships on Sunday, I realized I was entering a whole new world of sauce and flavor.
As I sat there waiting for my first taste of rib, the irony of all of this entered my mind. In Memphis, when it comes to barbeque, pork is a staple. As a somewhat practicing Jew, that means all I know about Memphis BBQ is what I’ve been told. In a sense, that’s how this all started. It was the late 1980s, and a couple of men sitting in the back of Shabbat services started lamenting about their inability to enter The Memphis in May World Barbeque Champions, a premier event in BBQ circles. The event is held on a Saturday in May, and focuses heavily on treyf, disqualifying many in this heavily-affiliated Jewish community. So from that, an idea was cooked-up, a Jewish BBQ contest.
We know that farmers “make hay while the sun shines,” but what do they do when it rains…and rains…and rains…? The devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee that followed on its heels, highlight the precariousness of farming and the painful, tragic effects of extreme weather events. In the wake of these storms, farmers across the Northeast are assessing damages and picking up pieces. For many, waterlogged fields have caused total crop failures; incessantly wet weather is causing storage crops to rot rather than cure; and what should have been three more months of salable produce can now only be plowed under. No matter how skilled the farmers are, the tragedy is that it’s not their fault; they did nothing wrong — it’s just what happens.
Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) attempts to mitigate some of the risk of extreme weather to farmers. Customers buy a share of the entire season, and in the contract they sign before the first snap pea is even a tendril on the vine, they agree that “being a member of the CSA involves sharing the rewards and risks (eg. poor weather, early winter, etc.) with our farmer.” But in practice, this can be a tough truth to swallow when customers find out, as did the members of the Hazon CSA at the 14th St. Y last week, that their five months of produce deliveries were cut down to three. It’s not their fault either — it’s just what happens.
Last week, news of Sam Sifton, the New York Times Restaurant Critic being promoted to the National Editor of the Gray Lady, shook the culinary world. Sifton, 45, served one of the shorter stints as restaurant critic at the Times but had gained a following toward the end of his tenure. He infused his articles with culture, history, erudition, and lots of humor. He also helped put Brooklyn on the culinary map, much to the chagrin of longtime Vogue critic Jeffrey Steingarten.
Sifton came to the Times as dining editor in 2001, a post he held for three years. Then he became Cultural editor until 2009 when he was chosen to succeed Frank Bruni as Restaurant Critic, a post he held for two years.
While being National Editor is a plum position and means that he is going up on the New York Times ladder, his foodie fans will be disappointed that he is moving on. Between his last weeks as restaurant critic and the beginning of his new post as national editor, Sifton found time to answer a couple of questions for the Jew and the Carrot.
Ron Ben-Israel is known for his eponymous New York City couture cake shop, which churns out incredible, edible pieces of art. Over 15 years, his celebration cakes — often topped with beautiful and realistic looking sugar flowers — have become favorites among society brides, fashion companies and high-end hotels alike.
On Thursday, Ben-Israel will become better known to the rest of the country during the premiere of his Food Network competition show, “Sweet Genius.” On each episode, four pastry chefs will compete in an elimination challenge. Ben-Israel will decide the winner, who will take home $10,000, based on both taste and presentation.
We spoke to the Israeli sweet genius himself about his show, his confections and his road from IDF soldier to professional dancer to cake maker extraordinaire.
Just 50 miles north of New York City, in Putnam Valley, the beautiful 248-acre Eden Village Camp is busy with preparations for the inaugural Festival of Eden. An expected hundreds of participants of all ages will gather on Sunday, September 25th to enjoy hands-on farming and green-living workshops, local organic food, live music, art, nature adventures, and Jewish environmental education, all made possible by the Saul Schottenstein Foundation B.
Eden Village is a new camp, fresh out of their second summer. The camp aims to be a living model of a thriving, inspired, sustainable Jewish community, grounded in social responsibility and a vibrant spiritual life. With a zero-waste goal and an emphasis on healthy, sustainable living it is no surprise that Eden Village takes food seriously. Organic vegetables and herbs are grown 72 feet from the Eden Village Kosher Kitchen, which will be providing kosher food options alongside other food vendors at the festival.
If you’re never braided a round challah, it can be a bit tricky. Here’s a video to help. Haaretz
The tweet that shocked the food world this week: “I’m stepping down as restaurant critic to be the national editor of The Times. #checkplease. @Samsifton
A New York Whole Foods store opened a mini in-store pickle shop this week, carrying a wide variety of artisanal pickles. Grubstreet
Bring over 300+ foodies, chefs, nutritionists and rabbis together to talk about food… and you better have a good plan for what to feed them! Planning food for the Hazon Food Conference is a delightful challenge. We have a list of food values which we try to meet at all Hazon events — and yet the values themselves sometimes conflict with each other. Add the fact that we’re not throwing a dinner party for 12, and the decisions get a lot more complicated. Food procurement and institutional cooking is an area that has a long way to go in terms of sustainability, and we’re proud of our efforts to nudge us along on that route — but we’re far from there yet. Here are some of the values we try to meet, and the choices we made to get there at this year’s Hazon Food Conference at UC Davis.
1. Local & Seasonal: Should feature fruits and vegetables that are in season in August. Ideally they are grown in Yolo County (where UC Davis is), or at least, in Northern California or California.
2. Natural, whole grain, unprocessed: In general we favor whole wheat breads over white; granola or oatmeal over sugar cereals; yogurts, jams and peanut butters without preservatives, white sugar & white flour, artificial flavorings, or hydrogenated oils.
3. Fair Trade: Especially chocolate, coffee, tea.
4. Kosher: Any processed foods (that come in a package) should be certified kosher with a ‘kosher seal’ on the packaging.
Starbucks may have famously flopped in Israel back in 2003. But with 14 stores and counting, LA-based chain Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has managed to gain a healthy foothold among Holy Land locals and American expats — partly because, as local-info site GoJerusalem.com has noted, the stores are all kosher.
Now, with a similar tweaking of its global offerings to suit local tastes, the chain has finally opened a New York City outlet.
The new store, at Broadway and 39th Street in Manhattan’s shmate district, lacks the slightly shopworn charm of its LA locations — a comfy vibe that belies a mammoth footprint in 22 countries — but brings a fresh face to the city’s saturated hot-beverage market.
My most memorable Shabbats were at summer camp, in Wisconsin. They began after pool time with a run-around process of my cabin-mates and I straightening our hair, blowing a fuse, sitting in darkness as we freaked out until the fuse was reset, and then repeating. We wore one of the four dresses that were reserved for our four Shabbats, and if we were lucky, one of the older campers would offer to do our makeup. Friday nights ended in the gym, dancing in circles and singing our favorites, which always included “Lean on Me” and “Brown-Eyed Girl.”
In between hair ironing and song singing, there was a beautiful outdoor service… and a terrible meal in the dining hall. Chicken swimming in a pool of its grease, rice pilaf minus the pilaf and probably an almost steamed vegetable. In fact, I’ve blocked most of the food out of my mind with fonder memories of grilled cheese and tomato soup Tuesdays.
This Saturday, a long overdue concept will make its debut at Manhattan’s Hester Street Fair: Israeli schnitzel with an urban-inspired twist. Schnitz NYC, a pop-up vendor, started by three childhood friends, Allon Yosha and siblings Donna and Yoni Erlich, will launch their business with two schnitzel sandwiches topped with unconventional condiments like daikon ginger relish and caramelized onion mustard.
“There’s a big educational component with schnitzel, in general, because a lot of people don’t know what schnitzel is,” said Yosha, a businessman with a lifelong passion for food. This isn’t to say that the word “schnitzel” is completely esoteric — with trendy schnitzel trucks on both sides of the country (and even in fantasy animation land, the food’s popularity is indeed growing. But for those who are still under the impression that schnitzel is “like a sausage or whatever,” they’ll be surprised to hear that they’ve likely had something like it — though it might have been called Milanese. Or Tonkatsu. Or, dare I say, a McNugget. The bottom line is, most cultures have a fried meat tradition, and while Italian and Southern American varieties may have already earned their fame, it’s time for Israel’s comfort meat to shine.
“Jews for social justice is where I am coming from. Equal rights and equal access to the bounty of the earth is foundational,” Nora Saks said while explaining why she is a FoodCorps service member. FoodCorps is a new national service organization (funded by AmeriCorps and others) building school gardens and establishing “Farm to School” programs to address childhood obesity and food-related disease.
Fifty individuals in their 20’s and 30’s were chosen from over 1,200 applicants to serve in 2010-2011, FoodCorp’s pilot year. Among them are a number of young Jews, including Saks. She, as well as Leah Chapman, Emily Ritchie, Sarah Rubin and Erin Taylor, shared with the Jew and the Carrot why they are excited to work with schools in limited-resources communities with high obesity rates. All of them will be working with partnering local organizations to teach kids about healthy nutrition, build and work to sustain school gardens, and help school lunch programs procure healthy food from local farms.
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