Inbal Hotel Jerusalem, where the chef offered an online how-to on holiday cooking. Courtesy Inbal Hotel.
(JTA) - At this time of year I always ask around to my friends and neighbors for new and creative Passover recipes — and if I can stand upright after chasing after crumbs of chametz, helping my kids prepare Torah commentary for the seder and changing over my kitchen to kosher for Passover, I even try one or two of them.
I never thought I would have the chance to get Passover recipes directly from the executive chef of a 5-star kosher hotel restaurant, however. And I am sure ready to eat restaurant-style food from the comfort of my own home.
Inbal Jerusalem Hotel executive chef Nir Elkayam showed me and anyone else who wanted to watch, how to make new and interesting dishes for the upcoming holiday in a live online demonstration, accompanied by a live chat where you could ask him all your Passover cooking questions.
My mother had been dead not quite twenty-three months when I was told I would not be making the matzo ball soup. I can’t quite remember what I said next, but I remember the feeling clearly, viscerally: like lead in the gut, a slight dizziness; a fuzziness around the edges of my brain.
It is true that the world was not going to end if I didn’t make the matzo balls for the Seder. But my mother had made the traditional Passover dumplings for decades before she died, for this very same loud, chaotic family Seder I’d been going to since I before I could remember. And the Seder before she’d died was the first year in memory she hadn’t made them; she’d been too tired, too sick. So she’d passed her giant soup pots to me, and asked me to make them. And I had. They were, by all accounts, delicious.
The following year I was undone by grief and whole-wheat matzo meal. I brought bad matzo balls to the family Seder, and thereby lost my right to make them again.
Video by BuzzFeedYellow
I saw this video today, and I have to say, it kinda freaked me out. I felt quickly, viscerally defensive of Jewish food and indignant that the versions of classic Ashkenazic dishes on offer to an innocent band of non-Jewish young people looked like the least desirable ones imaginable.
A pale, flaccid-looking kugel appeared overcooked and, from the tasters’ comments, overly sweetened and cinnamon’d. Where were the nice browned edges? Where was the balance of flavors? And why were there maraschino cherries and what looked like canned peaches on top of it?
After tainted Mexican food left her decimated with hepatitis A – and unable to take medication, despite unbearable symptoms - Cathy Shapiro went online.
Ginger kept popping up as the preschool teacher searched for natural remedies. And those queries jogged Shapiro’s memories of her long-gone Polish-born bubbe.
“She used to put a paste of ginger and water on my head when I had a headache. She’d mix ginger and honey for my sore throat. And she’d make ginger tea when I had an upset stomach,” Shapiro recalled. “I had forgotten most of these childhood cures.”
Five years later, and completely recovered, Shapiro’s spreading the gospel of ginger through her Baltimore business, Cathy’s Ginger Spices. At five local farmers’ markets and a handful of shops, Shapiro’s peddling hand-ground spices, ginger-infused cooking oils, and potent ginger juices to a growing fan base of health fanatics, foodies, and buy-local enthusiasts.
“My business has at least doubled, if not more, since launch,” Shapiro told the Forward from her home-office in Pikesville, a heavily Jewish northwest Baltimore suburb. “I owe a lot of it to my bubbe, and to my background,” Shapiro said. “And even to getting hep A. God closes one door and opens another.”
Why is this box different from all other boxes?
Because it contains an entire seder dinner.
From Houston, Texas.
If you now feel like the son who does not even know how to ask a question, let us explain.
Houston’s Kenny & Ziggy’s, which “Save the Deli” author David Sax proclaimed “one of the best delis in the country,” was hawking knishes, lox, latkes, and pastrami on web site FoodyDirect, which lets indie restaurants sell to consumers nationwide.
Over the winter, a light bulb went off for owner and deli man Ziggy Gruber: “Since we’re already shipping food, and there are a lot of Yidlach who probably don’t have access for stuff for yontif, why not offer it to them?” he told the Forward.
The result is Passover in a Box, a $399 extravaganza that “not only includes enough classic delicacies to feed 10, but also it’ll save you time and trouble,” according to Kenny & Ziggy’s FoodyDirect page. “Moses led our people out of bondage, so why should you be a slave in your kitchen?”
Even if your bubbe lives far away, you can still have a taste of the Old World. This priceless video by the team at the Forverts shows you how to make borscht with matzo balls. It’s perfect for this time of year. Check out the video below and share your borscht memories with us in the comments.
Bubbes around the world share pictures of themselves cooking in their kitchens. So cute, we almost want to pinch someone’s cheeks. [The Kitchn]
Give the old matzo ball soup a rest and try carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas. [Smitten Kitchen]
Things are getting real! Here are 20 unspoken truths about the food world. [First We Feast]
Can’t wait for the Downton Abbey Season 3 premier on Sunday? Neither can we. Here’s a menu to celebrate the occasion. [Food52]
Virtuous meals to start the new year with (and to help keep those resolutions). [Serious Eats]
Whether the thought of cooking another kugel drives you insane or you’re just too far away to go home for the holidays, these restaurants have your back in the tastiest of ways. While some chefs have opted to go the more traditional route by doing their best to recreate one of grandma’s meals, others use the holiday as an opportunity to strut their stuff and put their own gourmet twists on old favorites. If you’re having trouble deciding where to eat, look out for our “Critic’s Picks”
Artisanal Formagerie and Bistro Critic’s Pick!
Gouda matzo balls anyone? For an entire week, Artisanal Formagerie and Bistro will offer a French-influenced cheese-centric holiday menu that can be ordered à la carte, as a prix fixe, or to take home. Entrees include a seven-hour brisket with carrot kugel and cold poached salmon served with latkes and horseradish sour cream. Desserts like challah pain perdu and an apple tarte with cheddar cheese crust are sure to ring in a sweet and cheesy new year.
Details: September 16-23. 3-course prix fixe $47 pp, 4-course prix fixe with cheese flight $58 pp. 2 Park Avenue. (212) 725-8585.
In our new series, Chosen Chefs, we will profile up-and-coming Jewish chefs making waves from Los Angeles to New York. And in case you can’t get there, we’ll include a recipe from each of the chefs that you can make at home. These are members of the tribe who you’ll want to keep on your radar. If we were the betting type, we might see some James Beard Awards in their future.
These days, chefs are revered, and they garner so much press attention that they’re often described as the new rock stars. In Barry Koslow’s case, the comparison is even more fitting. Koslow, executive chef of Arlington, Va.’s sophisticated American Tallula restaurant and adjoining gastropub, EatBar, was a guitarist in a rock band before turning his attention to food.
Theodore Bikel’s 1998 album “A Taste of Passover” gets a little peculiar on the ninth track. Rather than music, it features Yiddishist Chasia Segal teaching a live audience how to prepare kneydlakh, or matzo balls. After combining matzo meal, eggs, salt and chicken broth, she announces, “And now I have a problem!” In an ideal world the next ingredient would be schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, but Segal observes that “We’re not supposed to have any more schmaltz” and uses vegetable oil instead.
How did this come to be? In 1978 the USDA began telling Americans to consume less saturated fat. By the ’90s the conventional wisdom was that animal-derived fats, which tend to me more saturated, were dangerous, and plant-derived fats were somewhat less so. Hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine, originally introduced as cheap substitutes for butter and animal fats like lard, came to be preferred not only for their price but for the damage they would supposedly spare consumers’ arteries. (Kashrut-observant Jews were among the first to jump on the bandwagon. Crisco targeted the Jewish market with community-specific ads as early as 1913.) Butter became an immoral condiment, and conscientious eaters began to cut the fat off their steaks and peel away the skin from chicken breasts.