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
Some Jews will celebrate this Tu B’Shvat, by blessing and eating different kinds of fruits — paying attention to their different textures and tastes, by eating the Seven Species of grains and fruits of Israel or seven local foods and by reciting or singing a string of passages from Jewish and other texts as part of a seder.
In so doing, we turn the “outside” recurring patterns of nature into something we feel both subjectively and physically as new. But where did we get this idea to celebrate Tu B’Shvat with a seder and with the seven species? The Passover Haggadah is an influence, of course, and there are other precedents for the Jewish practice of reading and eating. But the particular form of most contemporary Tu B’Shvat seders, with their focus on blessing, eating, and talking about fruits and what they symbolize, is modeled after a mystical manual, ”Pri Etz Hadar,” [“The Fruit of the Goodly Tree”], first printed in Venice in 1728 as part of the “Hemdat Yamim”, which was heavily influenced by the kabbalists of Safed. Some Ashkenazic authorities condemned the text as Sabbatian propaganda. Until recently, it was circulated and published primarily by Sefardim.
Throughout the centuries of Jewish tradition, we have celebrated holidays by eating festive meals. In many homes meat is the centerpiece on the table at these joyous occasions. This tradition originates from the book of Isaiah, “If you call the sabbath ‘delight,’ the Lord’s holy day ‘honored’; And if you honor it and go not your ways nor look to your affairs, nor strike bargains — then you can seek the favor of the Lord.” (Isaiah 58:13-14). Jewish sages have interpreted this text to say that we should “delight” in Shabbat by eating food that is special— for many centuries this has meant meat, which historically wasn’t eaten during the week but only on the Sabbath.
However, Limmud NY 2011, a multidenominational Jewish conference focused on Jewish learning of all kinds, held last week in the Catskills, proved that meat is not necessarily the only way that we can delight in Shabbat through food.
Tonight, Jan 19th, there’ll be a full moon in the sky: the full moon of the Hebrew month Shvat. The indigenous Israelites from whom we descend celebrated this as the start of the year for the natural world. Like lots of elements of Jewish tradition, we never forgot it, even as its meaning has changed over time.
Tu B’Shvat’s a great holiday, and there’s every likelihood there will be a record number of Tu B’Shvat seders this year, including many being hosted by Moishe Houses and Birthright Next, around the country, using Hazon’s Tu B’Shvat Haggadahs. (You can go to one, or you can create your own.)
But one thing worth thinking about afresh is the question of what food you serve at a your Tu B’Shvat seder.
Clare Burson does not seem the least bit tired of talking about cheese. Which is a bit strange, considering how much attention one notable possession of hers — a 117-year-old wedge of cheese-turned-family heirloom passed down from her great-grandfather — has garnered (including but not limited to a story in the New Yorker. The singer songwriter is so passionate about food, particularly as a lens through which to understand her family’s history, that she hosted a food and music pairing event as the release party for her latest record, Silver and Ash (Rounder Records, 2010).
A sparsely beautiful narrative work, the album, traces Burson’s maternal grandmother’s escape from Germany in 1938. The event, which was co-hosted by history-focused gastronomist Sarah Lohman, featured four courses. Each was inspired by a different stop on Burson’s family’s journey from Germany in the ‘30’s to present-day Brooklyn. Guests dined while Burson performed the deeply moving song cycle with her guitar at the front of the room.
Listen to a sample from Silver and Ash:
Three amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs have been filed in the past week in support of a motion to retry former Agriprocessors’ executive Sholom Rubashkin, according to Yated Ne’eman a weekly Haredi newspaper. The briefs were filed by the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, The Washington Legal Foundation and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The briefs support a motion submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit by Rubashkin’s lawyers Nathan Lewin and Alyza Lewin, in August 2010. The ACLU, which previously came out against the treatment of workers at the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant, “filed the brief after it found out that [Linda] Reade, chief judge of the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Iowa, was involved in a troubling way with prosecutors and investigators, helping to plan the raid and arrests,” according to a statement issued by the ACLU.
In Israel by late January, about halfway through the rainy season, the majority of the year’s precipitation has fallen. The sap in the trees begins to flow and the branches show the initial signs of budding. It’s at this time that Jews celebrate Tu B’Shvat (this Thursday and Friday) — known as the New Year for the tree. Since Tu B’Shvat is a minor holiday, few specific dishes were created for its celebration, but rather the practice emerged of serving dishes that highlight the flavors of local fresh fruit and nuts, which each Jewish community adapted to what was available to them.
Sephardim, partially due to the warm climate and early growing season in their locales, have long manifested a deep devotion for the day, which they call Las Frutus (“The Fruit”). To celebrate, Sephardic families customarily visit relatives where they are offered a veritable feast, appropriately containing an abundance of fruits and nuts. The children are encouraged to not only partake of the spread, but to take bolsas de frutas (“bags of fruit”) home with them.
Like any rabbi, Robert Sternberg has seforim, volumes of Jewish learning and commentary, at home. But he may be alone among his peers with a collection of 500 cookbooks, many of which extend far beyond Jewish cuisine.
The Denver native, who was ordained at an Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem and now has a congregation near his home in Springfield, MA, has been a culinary enthusiast for as long as he can remember.
It began when he was five years old, helping his grandmother as she rolled dough and stuffed blintzes for a kosher caterer. Fueled by those memories, he tried years later to replicate his grandmother’s knaidlach (matzo balls), without success. Midlife, he finally indulged his gastronomic passion by going back to school — and to his roots in the kitchen — to earn an associate degree in culinary arts.
New York Times Dining Critic Sam Sifton fields a reader’s question of where she should take her kosher-keeping boyfriend for an intensely treyf meal and dubs famous Jewish cookbook author Arthur Schwartz his hero in the process.
Israel is known for its hummus, falafel and well, the birthplace of monotheism. But beer? Not so much. At least until now, Café Liz reports on the holy land’s first beer expo and shares some tasting highlights.
This blog is cross-posted from Haartetz.com.
The restaurant world’s most closely guarded secret project this winter is not a sleekly designed new restaurant, a gourmet bistro or a new menu. The next challenge facing Eyal Shani, the chef who waxed poetic in the “Master Chef” series, is none other than a pita stand, set to open in the coming months at the intersection of Kaplan and Ibn Gvirol streets in Tel Aviv.
The dishes and ingredients are being kept secret, but Shani promised, “We will create something new there.” At his Tel Aviv restaurant, Abraxas North, he already serves several experimental pita dishes that have been well received, from pita filled with shrimp and aioli sauce to minute steak in pita.
Shani is not alone: Pita is making a grand comeback in gourmet restaurants. No longer just the simple, familiar baked bread used at shawarma stands, it is now served in a hot pan, with sauces, fennel seeds, salads and stir-fried meat cubes.
Read more at Haartetz.com.
7 Chefs. 7 Wines. 7 Artists.
It sounds like the perfect all-star afternoon, or the beginning of a highly competitive television series. Rather, these were the components of the first annual “Cultural Feast” lunch at the Schmooze Conference on January 11 at City Winery in New York City. The lunch featured seven different Jewish artists, each of a different medium, seven skilled kosher chefs and seven kosher wines from New Zealand to France. The idea was to pair each course with “a nibble of culture and [a] taste of wine,” said organizer of the lunch Michael Dorf.
True to his roots, Dorf, whose City Winery makes a number of wines in-house, and hosts wine pairing and tasting events, developed the concept of the meal around the arc of wines typically served at tasting meals. We “start with lighter wine and move to robust red wine, then dessert wine,” he said.
In this week’s Ingredients column Leah Koenig writes about Lior Lev Sercarz, the master spice blender behind La Boîte à Epice. Lev Sercarz, who has blended spices for Chef Daniel Boulud and Zahav restaurant’s Michael Solomonov, speaks with Koenig in this video about his spiced cookie business La Boîte à Biscuits.
We’re used to it by now: the mad dash home on these too-short Friday afternoons. They say the days are getting longer now, but I don’t know. The hours that we optimistically call “late afternoon” still feel like the dead of night. Fortunately, we know what to do. We have Wednesday! We make soup. We have Thursday! We bake a cake. And in that final hour between briefcases down and candles lit, we brown our waiting bird and slide it into the oven to cook the rest of the way through. If, as one reader commented last time we’re lucky enough to have that hour at all. When we tumble through the door mere minutes before the last light slips away, what then?
Enter that darling of Shabbat food prep, the crock pot. When we think crock pot, we typically think cholent, and we typically think Saturday lunch. But we shouldn’t stop there. For a slab of meat that stands up to a good long braise, the crock pot is an ideal final resting place. And Friday night is as good a time as any to enjoy a meal that more or less prepares itself. In fact, it just might be the best. Your work in the kitchen begins and ends on Friday morning, and entails little more than folding a browned brisket into a crock pot and shooting out the door. There are spices involved – cumin, coriander, chili powder – the requisite garlic and onions, a generous pour of molasses, a can of tomatoes, and a chipotle chili to seal the deal. By mid-afternoon, that humble crock pot squatting on your counter will be pumping out the kind of aroma usually reserved for summertime barbeque pits and backyard grills. It’s all the proof you’ll need that you’re having southwestern pulled brisket for dinner.
This blog is cross-posted from The Joy of Kosher.
Jeff Morgan grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - before the area required a skirt or kippah. He didn’t have a Bar Mitzvah, nor did not celebrate shabbat and he never kept kosher. But somehow along the way he learned to make what Robert Parker of Wine Spectator fame has said “may be the finest kosher wine in America.”
In 1992, Morgan who was working as a wine writer, was asked to write the annual Passover wine article for the Wine Spectator. When we asked him why he was chosen for the assignment, Morgan replied, “If you are going to be critical about kosher wine in a major publication, it helps to be Jewish.” It was his first experience with kosher wine. He was not impressed.
Visitors to San Francisco today would find it hard to believe that there were once three kosher restaurants, four Jewish bakeries, five kosher meat markets, and three Jewish delicatessens in the city. In fact, they were all within a two square-block area known as the Fillmore, once referred to as the Lower East Side of San Francisco.
However, the post-WWII exodus of Jews to the suburbs North, East and South of the city eventually left the area without an identifiably Jewish neighborhood or serious demand for kosher food. The Bay Area’s Jewish population is now the third largest in the United States (behind those of New York and Los Angeles), but its extremely low rate of community affiliation has dashed the hopes of anyone who had anticipated a new incarnation of the Fillmore.
The end of 2010 may have come and gone, but the end of winter — at least for most of us — is nowhere in sight. For those days when all you want to do is sit on the couch and eat microwave popcorn (and for me, this is about every day between December and March), paella is a great way to make yourself put down those fake butter-splashed morsels. It’s hearty, easy to make, and great for adding in those random vegetable leftovers you have hiding in the back of your fridge. And while the word may make visions of chorizo and crayfish dance in your head — it certainly did for me — it’s a dish that’s very easily adaptable to a kosher diet. Spanish Jewish communities have been making it as a weeknight dinner for centuries, adding in olives, fish, and eggplant.
Paella originated in Valencia in Eastern Spain, where field workers began making the dish in the mid-19th century. Traditionally, the meats used included rabbit, chicken, snails, and sometimes even marsh rat as seafood wasn’t commonly eaten in the area. As the popularity of the dish spread, different Spanish communities put their own twist on it, using varying mixtures of meats and vegetables. This recipe is closer to the original Valencian paella than the popular shellfish-heavy version from Barcelona, but is just as chock full of flavor.
Two chefs in New York City are reinventing Jewish food – without going kosher – the Wall Street Journal reports.
We were sad to see Jewish chef Spike Mendelsohn pack his knives and go on Top Chef Masters recently. He chats about the show and his love of the perfect burger with Serious Eats.
Ben Havumaki, a friend who is traveling through Southeast Asia emailed me recently from Thailand, “I’m fresh back from a meal at the Chabad House in Chiang Mai. I ate…………..Schnitzel! It was paired with ‘Wok Stirred Vegetables.’”
Whether or not the sound of that combination makes your mouth water, a meal of that nature – Ashkenazic or Israeli food made with a dash of local flavor, is characteristic of what is served at Chabad Centers the world over.
Chabad centers are in seemingly every corner of the globe (there are 3,300 centers in 75 countries), from The Democratic Republic of Congo, to Casablanca to Sao Paolo. While the long beards of the men and standard black and white attire of the shluchim, or emissaries, who run the centers, may stand out in some of the more exotic locations, the centers work hard to create a welcoming atmosphere for locals and travelers alike, sometimes using their menus to do so.
Every time Bravo’s Top Chef begins a new season, I watch with eagerness, excitement, and like any kosher-keeping fan of the show, a twinge of jealousy. Not only because the winning dish always seems to include bacon or because all that oyster ceviche looks so tasty, but because I know that there will never be a kosher contestant on the show.
Let’s face this. The judges on the show are super objective: they don’t allow for leniencies because of little things like injuries and illness. How much would they allow for a kosher-keeper? Eventually, they would mention something about the chef being “held back” by their rules, or the challenge would be based around lamb in yogurt sauce or pork belly. And then, of course, the kosher chef would be asked to pack their knives and go.
My 3-year-old daughter clambers into the car at the end of a long day, asks me what’s for dinner. When I tell her turkey burgers, her voice gets hopeful. “We cook it?” No, I made it the night before. But, she reminds me that we bought the ingredients together in the store. As I begin to worry about a child-sized guilt trip, she is happily chatting away about something else.
Liora loves to be in the kitchen with me. No matter how beloved the play date, if she sees me head for the cutting board, she is dragging her stool next to me to be able to watch what is being chopped on the counter. She mixes scrambled eggs, rolls out (and mushes) cookie dough, and gets her hands sticky with ricotta gnocchi. One of her favorite bedtime stories is a book from PJ Library about baking challah, “It’s Challah Time”; and I am trying to muster the courage to actually try out the cupcake decorating set she got for Hanukkah.
With my big girl as my sous chef, I often reflect on the passage in the Talmud that outlines the responsibilities of parents to their children: teaching them Torah, providing them with a trade and getting them married (some also say: teaching them to swim). To my ear, this sounds like parents are required to provide their kids with the skills to live productive, independent lives, and so teaching my kids to cook falls naturally for me into this mitzvah. I don’t need to raise a gourmet cook, but I think basic life skills include knowing how to scramble an egg and make tomato sauce from scratch. So much of Jewish traditio,n particularly among women, has been passed down through cooking and eating together. What happens in the kitchen is an ongoing collective memory, and it is my responsibility to adapt and pass that along as much as I pass along the importance of Shabbat or tzedakah.
“The perfect borscht is what life should be but never is,” writes Alexandar Hemon in The New Yorker food issue this past November. Until recently, I simply figured I’d never tasted “the perfect borscht.” My first impression of the Eastern European delicacy was the purple liquid my father would buy once a year on Passover. On the second or third day, after having his share of matzoh, he would take out the glass Manischewitz bottle of purple borscht and mix it with just a bit too much sour cream. While he always offered us a taste, my siblings and I would politely decline.
Yet, when my mother and I found ourselves in Moscow and Kiev last month, I decided to give it a second chance, this time fresh from a simmering soup pot instead of the jar. Borscht in Yiddish or bohrshch in Russian (there are many spellings – it’s the food equivalent of the word Hanukkah), loosely translates to a soup with a beet base. In Moment magazine, cookbook author Joan Nathan explains that in the 18th century, before potatoes were the food of the masses in Russia and Ukraine, red beets made up much of the local diet.
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