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
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.
At tables of food lining a neighborhood courtyard, a steady stream of visitors helped themselves to an al fresco meal. But the presence of several people on low chairs, eating from plates on their laps, suggested this was no festive occasion.
Indeed, this was a public feast customary among Indian Jews sitting shiva, the seven-day period of mourning following the death of a family member. For Yonah Berman, the scene offered a cultural lesson the Montreal rabbi would not soon forget.
On a trip to Israel, Berman unexpectedly found himself in that courtyard while accompanying a colleague on a shiva call in the town of Kiryat Gat, where many immigrant Indian Jews have settled. As he recalls, tables of food including fragrant rice and chicken, had been set up under the cloak of a big tent for the dozens of men filing through; women stayed inside the house.
While many kicked off 2011 resolving to eat less, that isn’t a choice for 17.4 million Americans. 14.7% of households nationwide don’t know where there next meal is coming from, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.
Worldwide, 925 million people – one out of every seven, or 14% – are undernourished, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme. And in Israel 1.1 million people, or 22% of the population, are food insecure.
As the Times Square ball dropped, government and corporate sectors switched from their 2010 to 2011 budgets. In the mix, New York State, whose population makes up the largest kosher consumer market outside of Israel, has stripped the Division of Kosher Law Enforcement, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The 11-employee division of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has been whittled down to just its director. The cut follows another budgetary decision made last summer to lay-off much of the division’s staff. The department is saying that the lay-offs will save the state $1 million this year.
Raised by an Italian father and Jewish mother, chef Nikki Cascone was encouraged to embrace both of her backgrounds. But it was during a trip to the Jewish ghettos in Italy that she became determined to meld the two in her kitchen.
In December, she opened Octavia’s Porch, a restaurant serving global Jewish cuisine, with her husband, Brad Grossman (whose father is Jewish, and mother is Italian).
Though traditional Jewish foods, such as gefilte fish and kreplach, make their way onto her plates, Cascone adds international flavor to almost every dish. The gefilte fish is not your grandmother’s — served with radish, lime and fresh horseradish. The kreplach is served Asian style, with soy and scallion. The schmears, in particular, pays homage to both Italian and Jewish culture. There’s the traditional Jewish salmon-cucumber-dill, but there’s also an Italian-style white bean, lemon and chive variety.
We spoke with the nine-month-pregnant “Top Chef” alum about sustainable gefilte fish, her unborn baby, how Hanukkah is “bull”, and much more.
The Orthodox Union and other kosher agencies are fighting lawsuits against companies that falsely use their name and certification, the Wall Street Journal reports.
What’s the best bagel in New York City? Midtown Lunch attempts to answer the age-old question.
Like many passionate foodies, Sarah Melamed of Israeli blog Food Bridge loves outdoor markets. This week, she takes us on a tour of Akko’s shuk.
“There’s always been kosher champagne,” says Aron Riter, founder of the Kosher Wine Society. “Well at least for the past 30 years,” he clarifies. But, kosher Prosecco, the north Italian interpretation of a sparkling white wine, has only come into light in the past five years, he adds. A more affordable and equally palatable alternative to the French Champagne, Prosecco is the perfect wine to mix into a sparkling cocktail or punch to celebrate this year’s Shabbat-New Years Eve duo.
With both lightly sweet and very dry varieties, this Italian wine has a number of similarities to its French counterpart. Like Champagne, Prosecco’s name is protected by law. It must be made in northeastern Italy, near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, the two towns that invented the drink to officially don the Prosecco name.
Nowhere do form and function meet so well as in a warm bowl of cholent. The hearty Sabbath stew known by an endless array of names and flavors in Jewish communities around the world is essentially an outgrowth of two seemingly opposing forces: The Jewish laws prohibiting cooking on the Sabbath and the encouragement offered by the rabbis in the Talmud to have a hot lunch on Saturday afternoon. These dishes cook sleepily at low temperatures from Friday afternoon onward, coming together brilliantly right on time for post-synagogue feasting.
The word cholent, probably stemming from the Old French term chald/chalt meaning warm, and lent, or slow, refers to the Eastern European version of this dish. Its origins date back to the Talmudic period and possibly before, most likely becoming common in Medieval France, inspired by the French dish cassoulet. Many Jews who were expelled from France in the 14th century fled to Germany where the term for the stew was morphed into the Yiddish, cholent. Today, the Ashenazic variety of the dish generally contains potatoes, barley, meat, beans and some salt and pepper for flavor.
“Mana Food” sounds Jewish, perhaps a reference to the manna from heaven that the Israelites ate in the desert. But on the island of Maui it’s a lovely health food supermarket in the town of Paia. The “Mana” here refers to a Hawaiian notion of spiritual power, one of many Hawaiian words and concepts that bear a striking resemblance to Hebrew and Jewish ideas, despite the small Jewish community on island, which numbers just 3000.
Hawaiian cuisine is most popularly known for its use of tropical fruits, such as pineapple, coconut, and papaya that are used to flavor everything from chicken to ice cream. Lesser known is the Hawaiian “breadfruit”, a versatile fruit rich in starch that tastes a bit like potatoes and can withstand adverse weather conditions and survive traveling long distances. Poi, a gooey almost soup like dish, which is made out of breadfruit or taro leaves, is also a staple of traditional Hawaiian cuisine. Though, today, Hawaiian food generally reflects a blending of cultures from the Asian and Polynesian influences. Local varieties of seafood are also very popular and usually presented in their Hawaiian names.
As a participant at the 5th annual Hazon Food Conference in Sonoma, CA I was set to learn about the current state of the Jewish food movement. I was ready for the conversations about raw vegan fare, workshops on organic produce, and sessions on new urban farming techniques.
But as I looked at the first item on the schedule, there it was. Babka. Front and center as one of the opening sessions offered at the conference. Why babka? Why here? Why now?
In a way, it felt like a step backwards to me. A loaf of refined sugar, white flour, and enough butter to even make Paula Dean blush. It’s definitely not your typical eco-friendly treat.
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