Although it’s become one of the city’s top tourist destinations, Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda shuk (market) can be an intimidating place for newcomers. Vendors yell out competing prices in loud, raspy voices. Crowded alleys run into each other, and old ladies will roll you over with their overflowing carts if you don’t look out.
In recent years the market has experienced a renaissance and so today trendy bars and coffee shops are nestled between second and third generation butchers and fishmongers. For those who want an insider’s view of the shuk but don’t know where to start, a new website called Machne and self-guided tour called Shuk Bites seek to enlighten you.
For some of us, planning our Passover cooking for our friends and family is intimidating enough. Now, imagine cooking at the White House? With noted in-house pastry chef Bill Yosses. Overwhelming, right? Well, not for Jewish food writer Joan Nathan. Nathan, a long-time DC resident and friend of Yosses’s spent Wednesday afternoon at the White House preparing Passover dishes at an event. Fortunately for us, it was caught on tape. Watch below as Nathan creates a pear and pecan haroset, which she learned to make recently while visiting Arkansas. The pair also cooks Nathan’s sweet Matzo Chremsel. For the complete recipes read more.
Ever wondered how Manischewitz makes all that matzo? Check out this video to see how. [JTA]
If you’ve never prepared a Seder, or the whole idea intimidates you, check out Joan Nathan’s perfect day by day guide for throwing the perfect Seder. [New York Times]
A fantastic recipe for Skillet-Baked Eggs with Spinach, Yogurt, and Spiced Butter from one of our favorite Israeli chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi. [Serious Eats]
A look at ethical kosher meat company KOL Foods. [Gourmet Live]
While considering the culinary prospects for Passover 2012, strangely, the words “matzo brei” keep coming up. This is strange, because I don’t even like matzo brei; my memories of this dish feature a matzah-egg mush served to us on white plates with faded pink strawberries along the rim. Neither eggs nor matzo are imbued with any kind of assertive flavors; both elements beg to be enlivened by a second party of flavor. So for me matzo brei was mainly about the absence of flavor. Which is why I’d internally roll my eyes every time someone waxed poetic about the humble joys of matzo brei. Whenever culinary machers like Ruth Reichel would dreamily expound on the simple pleasures of this dish, I wondered what was I missing? The answer was “flavor.”
Rows of plates with matzah topped with freshly chopped haroset, the traditional Passover sweet condiment, welcomed guests to the White House on Wednesday afternoon for a special holiday cooking demonstration and discussion.
The event was organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The latter recently funded an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland titled Chosen Food, exploring the history and cultural significance of food in the American Jewish Community.
As my friend Joan Nathan, the queen of American Jewish cooking, looked around the room she said: “If only my grandfather could see this. He would just… die!”
Read more on Haaretz.com
We are fortunate that while Passover commemorates events of a very ancient era, we live in extremely modern times. As we rush around shopping and cooking for the holiday this year, we don’t even need to turn on our laptops, let alone crack open a book in search of guidance and resources — thanks to a number of smart phone apps made for the holiday.
Pesach food shopping is made easy by two apps that allow you to check the kosher and kosher for Passover status of items as you come across them on the store shelves. The Orthodox Union has its OU Kosher App for iPhone and Android, which allows you to search for more than 600,000 products made around the world. The app provides up-to-date kosher alerts and new product updates, and it even enables you to call or text the OU Kosher information hotline with specific questions or concerns.
The Park Slope Food Coop, a historic Brooklyn grocery store, will keep stocking the Israeli-made paprika, couscous and four other Israeli-made products that have become a point of contention over the past three years.
Last night, the co-op dodged an initiative to boycott Israeli goods in protest of the country’s policies toward the Palestinians.
Members of the co-op voted 1,005 to 653 to reject a referendum on BDS — the movement to boycott, divest from, and implement sanctions against Israel — at the store’s largest general meeting in recent memory. The co-op counts about 16,000 members; more than 1,600 people were in attendance last night.
Matzo brei is a relatively recent invention. According to the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” the common brei recipe — soaked matzo dipped in egg and pan-fried — can be traced back to the late 19th century — or in Jewish terms, last week.
Despite the diversity of Jewish cuisine, that recipe has remained largely unchanged for 150 years. Yes, some like it sweet, others savory; some like it dry, others mushy (I like to brown both sides, almost like a Spanish omelet). But outside of these superficial differences, your basic brei is the same: moisten some matzo, crumble, mix in a couple of beaten eggs, fry, repeat for seven days.
Maybe that’s why I always have trouble staying away from chametz: brei fatigue. But now one talented L.A. chef has made it her mission to combat this (bread of) affliction. Each evening from April 7 to 13, Suzanne Tracht of Jar will be serving an innovative variation of matzo brei.
In modern times, Passover has become a holiday where a lot of the foods prepared, rely on processed items, like matzo meal, making one feel shackled down by the weight of those carb bombs. However in keeping with Chag Ha Aviv, it’s more appropriate for seasonal produce to shine. Of the many dishes I am preparing for Passover, one is a Cauliflower and Leek Soup, which serves as an edible illustration to inculcate the story of Passover. This seasonal vegetable soup symbolizes the many meanings of Passover, with an emphasis on the newness of spring, where we have the potential as a nation to always renew ourselves.
Allison Kaplan Sommer took a foraging walk with Israeli Chef Moshe Basson. Check out what she learned here and read on for Passover recommendations and recipes from the chef.
When most of us think of bitter herbs on the seder table, we think of bottled beet colored or white horseradish bought at the grocery store or maybe a whole root, slivered, or ground. Families who can’t handle the horseradish burn, sometimes resort to romaine lettuce.
This is the story of a fishpond.
Not just any old fishpond, but a fishpond in Muchucuxcah (Pronounce the x like a sh), Mexico, four hours west of Cancun.
I was in Muchucuxcah for ten days in January with American Jewish World Service’s Rabbinical Students Delegation. We were there to learn about global poverty, to see quality development work firsthand and to work on said fishpond.
If you want to skip the cooking this year, and leave the seders up to the professionals, we really can’t blame you. Here are 19 restaurants across the country offering seder dinners. You don’t have to do much, just make a reservation (in most cases), show up and be treated to a tasty meal.
Another perk, you won’t be limited to your aunt’s matzo ball soup or dry brisket. Here, the dishes even cross cultures — Passover tacos, anyone?
These Kosher for Passover breakfast options actually make Passover food sound delicious: smoked salmon hash, asparagus frittata with horseradish sour cream and matzo granola. [Chow]
Jewish Spanish restaurant La Vara is finally getting ready to open. We can’t wait to sample the menu. Get a sneak peak here. [Grub Street]
Consumer Reports tries to pick the best bagel and fails miserably. [TheAtlantic]
Unexpected Knaidlach: For writer Amy Spiro, it’s not about heavy or light matzo balls, but flavor. Check out her recipes for some unconventional matzo balls. [The Jewish Week]
And then comes Friday night, the beginning of Shabbat. The wind up to observing the Sabbath is at times chaotic, because while that sun sets Friday night, no matter what, Shabbat doesn’t make itself. In Hebrew, to observe Shabbat is to be shomer Shabbat, a “guardian” of the Sabbath. I always thought it sounded like Shabbat was prone to attack, or would wander off alone if not for your protective skills. Not so far from the reality.
Tuesday I invite guests before they get a better offer, Wednesday I’m digging in the freezer for that London broil I bought on special, Thursday I buy and clean the vegetables, and if I’m motivated, bake challah. Friday night those candles are lit, and after the blessing, we’re done doing, making, creating and a whole long list of other things, which includes cooking.
Murray Lender, unfortunately, did not live long enough to read in the upcoming May issue of Consumer Reports that it gave his frozen bagels high marks (while daring to question the supremacy of the New York bagel, no less).
Lender, 81, died in a Miami hospital on March 21 from complications from a fall, according to his wife Gillie Lender. Her husband had already lost his ability to speak following a stroke 13 years ago.
Imagine a modern, hip Israeli incarnation of Willy Wonka and you have a picture of Shimon Pinhas, the man behind Raw Chocolate Love. His company is one among a handful in New York that produces raw vegan chocolate, and one of the few with kosher certification. Shimon, whose dark curly hair protrudes in every direction and almost resembles steel wool, gives the impression that he is a man who can do anything, a presumption that is not far from the truth. When he arrived in New York twenty years ago without a word of English, he had already worked in construction, electrical work, and theater in his native Israel. His present occupation as a chocolatier on the border between Brooklyn and Queens follows an 18-year career running a music studio in the East Village.
While reporting “If the Slivovitz Hasn’t Killed You Yet, Have Another Shot,” for the Forward’s food and drink section, I talked to a lot of serious slivophiles. Some of them discovered the super-potent plum brandy later in life, but for many the appeal went back to childhood, growing up in families who drank slivovitz in an almost ceremonial fashion.
My experience doesn’t date back that far, but slivovitz and I have crossed paths on a few occasions. My first encounter with the liquor was as a teenager, when my grandmother gave our family a bottle for Passover. I don’t recall the brand, but it was one of the squat green bottles that used to dominate the slivovitz market in North America, and which were usually imported from the former Yugoslavia. Slivovitz reentered my life more recently at The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, an annual Balkan music event in Brooklyn, where it is celebrated as a regional specialty. But after talking to a good many slivovitz aficionados, it became apparent that my knowledge was seriously lacking. For the sake of journalistic inquiry, further research was required.
(Cocktail video below)
I began sharing Shabbat meals with my husband Jeff when I was 19, while living in the dorms of Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva. Each student apartment was equipped with a small kitchen and, as an aspiring cook and baker from a young age, I was thrilled to have my own cooking space. Each week I would return from the dusty shuk with a wide (and random) variety of produce and no plan whatsoever for to how to turn it into a cohesive menu.
This was during a delightfully naive and unselfconscious phase in my journey as a cook. I cannot remember questioning my culinary ability once during that year and a half in the desert. I chopped, sautéed and boiled our food into dishes that my then boyfriend was quick to declare the best he’d ever tasted. In retrospect, my food was heavy on the beans, potatoes, and cumin (Jeff smelled vaguely like New Delhi after a week of eating my vegetable soups), and my onions had not yet found that happy medium between nearly-raw and somewhat-carbonized. But I felt very adult dishing out my version of vegetarian Shabbat hamin, vegetable soup, and little apple cakes to my future husband, roommates, and anyone else who happened by, and I happily used our two little burners, electric kettle, and small toaster oven to their utmost potential.
This event is dedicated to a woman named Inez,” said Rabbi Ari Hart, one of the co-founders of Uri L’Tzedek, a Modern Orthodox organization that promotes social justice. Their signature program is the Tav HaYosher (Ethical Seal), a certification program for kosher restaurants that meet basic criteria for ethical treatment of their labor. Hart was speaking Sunday night to a packed house in a basement auditorium at the JCC of Manhattan, the setting for “FesTAVal,” a celebration of the recent addition of the 100th Tav-certified restaurant.
Inez, Hart told the crowd, was a woman he and fellow co-founder Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz met in Postville, Iowa shortly after the 2008 immigration raid on Agriprocessors, the large kosher meatpacking plant there. Inez, an illegal immigrant who had worked for Agriprocessors, was wearing an electronic monitoring anklet. Her future was uncertain, but she told Hart and Yanklowitz of the dream she used to have of a better life in America. “That dream was stripped away from her by Agriprocessors. We knew the Jewish community shouldn’t stand for that in the food that we eat,” Hart told the energized crowd. Businesses that have that Tav HaYosher, he said, “have affirmed not just kashrut [kosher standards], but yashrut [ethical standards].” Food workers, Hart said, “are the most vulnerable workers in our society.”
Temple Shalom won the first turkey chili competition at the Kosher Chili Cook-Off in Dallas.
More than 4,500 chili fans attended the competition Sunday at Tiferet Israel in Dallas.
As always, the event featured meat and vegetarian categories, but turkey was added to the mix as the cook-off celebrated its 19th anniversary. Empire Kosher Poultry donated the turkey.
Moishe House Dallas won in the beef category after securing a spot at the last minute off the waiting list. Congregation Shearith Israel and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas finished second and third among the beef entrants.
Congregation Anshai Torah in Plano took home the crown for vegetarian chili. The People’s Choice award went to the Ann and Nate Levine Academy.
During the event, participants were able to sign up to become bone marrow donors.