The Jew And The Carrot

Cooking for Passover Like a 5-Star Kosher Chef

By Marcy Oster

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.

Read more


A Perfectly Modern Passover

By Alix Wall

This is an occasional column in which the writer evaluates a cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing the dishes with friends and asking those friends what they think of the results. For Passover, the writer cooked her way through “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” by Forward writer and contributing editor Leah Koenig.

In the introduction to “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), Leah Koenig writes that she felt a certain kind of freedom when she began hosting Sabbath dinners in her 20s.

Her grandmother had died before she was born, she writes, and as a teenager she showed no interest in how her mom made her “legendary latkes.”

“Because I had not inherited specific recipes, I felt free from any pressure to simply copy what I was taught, and free to improvise and add my own personality,” Koenig writes. “I was creating my Jewish repertoire from scratch, and doing it in my twenty-first century kitchen filled with vegetables from the farmers’ market and a sauce-splattered laptop that played music while I chopped. There, I could incorporate ingredients that fell outside the Eastern European repertoire I inherited, and cook in a way that felt true to my life.”

Read more


Red Wine and Honey Brisket

By Leah Koenig

Photograph by Sang An

For many people, brisket is the Proustian madeleine of Jewish cooking. The rich, savory scent of caramelizing meat that perfumes the house as it cooks seems to stir people into a nostalgia-fueled fervor. There is no question that the brisket your bubbe made was the best ever, and you cannot compete with the layers of memories that flavor her version in your mind. That’s okay, because you have a few tricks of your own up your sleeve. This version slow-cooks the meat in a sweet and tangy mixture of honey and red wine until it sighs and falls apart at the touch of a fork. I included the red wine as a nod to stracotto, the Roman Jewish take on brisket, which simmers beef in wine and spices.

Brisket’s flavor and texture improve with age, so while you can certainly serve it right away, it will taste best if you make it a day in advance. Once the brisket has chilled in the refrigerator overnight, spoon off and discard any excess fat congealed at the top and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain (meat is easier to slice when it’s cold), then place the slices back into the Dutch oven or roasting pan, spooning some of the saucy onion mixture over the top. Warm in a 300° F oven until hot and bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe calls for second-cut brisket, which is sometimes referred to as deckle. It can be difficult to find second-cut brisket packaged in the grocery store, so ask your butcher about it. While you’re asking for things, see if the butcher will trim off any excess fat, too. If you have first-cut brisket on hand, go ahead and use it — the dish will still be delicious.

Read more


A Yemenite Meal in NYC With an Israeli Food Star

By Liza Schoenfein

The meal on offer includes a traditional Yemenite beef soup called marak basar Teimani (top left), and kubaneh, a yeast-risen bread (on the square plate). Photographs by Adeena Sussman.

Gil Hovav, Israel’s biggest food celebrity and an unofficial ambassador of the country’s cuisine, will be in New York next week to host a series of Yemenite dinners with New York-based food writer, cookbook author and Israeli food expert Adeena Sussman. Hovav is half Yeminite and Sussman is an avid fan and student of the cuisine, having written about it for Gourmet and other publications.

“Gil and I have a shared love of this cuisine, and he’s eaten some of my interpretations and I’ve eaten his,” she said. “It’s really soul-satisfying, delicious, simple food, celebrating one of Israel’s many great ethnic cuisines.”

Sussman, who has written about food for the Forward, explained that she and Hovav threw a small EatWith dinner in her home back in December 2014, which sold out immediately. “So there was interest in us reprising this event,” she said.

Read more


A Healthy Meal Between Holidays

By Liza Schoenfein

Roasted wild salmon over lentils. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.

I’m always aware that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is a high-calorie danger zone, so I tend to be fairly mindful. I just realized that I’m usually less conscious — and therefore less careful — between Purim and Passover. But here we are, sandwiched between the bookends of boozy parties and heavy holiday dinners. This year, I intend to lighten it up so that I don’t head into the warmer months feeling like I need to wear a muumuu.

This recipe takes little more than half an hour start to finish. It can easily be doubled (or reduced) depending on the number of people you’re serving. For a fancier dinner I like to roast individual pieces of salmon so everyone gets a neat presentation. For a more casual meal, I serve family style, mounding the lentils on a platter and placing one big fillet on top.

Read more


Housewarming Harissa Chili, the Recipe

By Gayle L. Squires

What better way to break in new digs than by inviting friends for a warm bowl of homey goodness? Photograph by Gayle L. Squires.

This recipe is adapted from the spicy chili in Einat Admony’s “Balaboosta.” To make my life easier, I used cans where I could: canned kidney beans instead of dried; canned tomatoes instead of fresh. I also replaced merguez sausage with ground lamb because it’s easier to find.

The heat in the chili comes from the North African spice paste harissa. Since the spiciness of harissa can vary, use a light touch initially — you can always add more later. I like to serve this on top of wheat berries, but you can use brown rice, barley, farro or your favorite grain.*

Serves 4-6

1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground lamb
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups finely chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can of chopped peeled tomatoes
-2-3 tablespoons harissa (depending on how spicy it is)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
About 4 cups water
2 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1) Sauté. Heat a large heavy-bottom pot over high heat (no oil) — it’s ready when you drop a small piece of meat in and it sizzles very loudly. If the pot isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up boiling your meat instead of sautéing. Add the beef and lamb to the hot pot and sauté until browned. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Drain off any excess liquid, but leave all the good browned bits. Remove the meat and set aside.

2) Sauté again. Heat the olive oil in the emptied pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure not to burn it. Stir in the tomato paste and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of harissa (you can add more later), cumin, chipotle, 2 tablespoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and water.

3) Simmer. Add the beans and bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours. After the first 30 minutes, taste for spice, stirring in extra harissa if you’d like more of a kick. Check the chili periodically, and if it looks dry, add some more water.

4) Serve. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with sliced scallion.

Gayle Squires is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Her path to the culinary world is paved with tap shoes, a medical degree, business consulting and travel. She has a knack for convincing chefs to give up their secret recipes. Her blog is KosherCamembert.

Read more


Recipes From My Argentine Grandmother

By Daniela Blei

The recipe notebook of Lola Blei, the author’s grandmother, who was known as Loly. Photograph by Daniela Blei.

If there was ever a doubt that cooking is more than just a means of providing sustenance, the evidence lies in my grandmother’s cursive. Her recipes fill a wire-bound notebook, its brittle pages a testament to butter and the passage of time.

Toiling in the kitchen of apartment 15A, in a leafy Buenos Aires neighborhood, my grandmother reaffirmed who she was: Jewish, European and Argentine. She was also a good cook, though not an exceptional one, with a knack for baking cakes named for Habsburg monarchs. Today, her recipe notebook lives in a drawer in my San Francisco home. Between the covers are glimpses of the 20th century: stories of loss, exile and nostalgia.

Like many Jews of her generation, my grandmother’s voyage to the New World happened more by accident than design. It began on a freezing February day in 1948, when Klement Gottwald, an ardent revolutionary and a drunk, stepped onto a balcony in Prague to proclaim a communist republic. For my Sovietophobic grandfather, whose wartime travails brought him unbearably close to the Red Army, it was time to run. Having escaped the drudgery of forced labor in Hungary, he saved himself by finding work in the Soviet Union, putting to use his polyglot education as a translator for Soviet troops. His experience left him terrified of communism’s march across the continent.

Read more


Mourning? Have Some Kugel.

By Tal Trachtman Alroy

Photograph by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/Thinkstock

As Jews around the world gathered to celebrate Hanukkah last month, traditional foods such as latkes, sufganiyot, sfinge and other deep-fried delicacies lined our dinner tables. Today, modern Jewish food is celebrated as more than just the krepelach and pickled herring from Eastern European kitchens. It is recognized as a rich cuisine of diverse cultures from a wide array of countries.

Spices and recipes from Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Eastern Europe have produced a multi-ethnic mish-mash of tastes that make up Jewish cuisine and tell the story of a wandering and displaced people. More than anything, Jewish food has become part and parcel of Jewish tradition, in both secular and religious homes throughout the world on holidays and other special occasions. Shabbat cholent or Passover charoset or Zadie’s gefilte fish have turned festivities into events for both the stomach and the soul.

But there’s another Jewish connection to food that’s associated with something darker, which has yet to be turned into a best-selling book by Janna Gur or Einat Admony. Israeli gastronomes rarely discuss it, though it’s a significant aspect of Jewish food culture that strengthens Jews around the world in their greatest times of need: the connection Jewish food has to death and mourning.

Read more


Coconut Hot Cocoa for Winter

By Molly Yeh

Photograph by Molly Yeh

A love of winter runs in my family. We love soup and sweaters, and we look forward to the shorter days when that means we have fewer people convincing us to go and do outside things and more reasons to stay inside with cookbooks, a fire in the fireplace and a batch of cookie dough or two. We’re cozy folk and we know it.

So consider my move to one of the coldest cities in America a big old love note to winter. People thought it was a bit odd, but last year, for my first winter, I got to buy new sweaters and had every reason in the world to stay inside and bake — sometimes the people on the news even told us to stay inside! It’s like they knew me.

These days, no drink goes down that’s not warmed up and served in a mug. Hot cocoa is obviously a perfect cold weather companion, but I have to admit that in recent years around the holidays it’s taken a back seat to sweets of higher priority, like sufganiyot and more sufganiyot.

Read more


The ‘Moosewood Cookbook’ Revisited

By Alix Wall

This is a sporadic column by Bay Area personal chef Alix Wall, in which she evaluates a cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing them with friends and asking what they think of the results. This time, she cooks her way through the 40th-anniversary edition of the “Moosewood Cookbook.”

Does the “Moosewood Cookbook” really need an introduction? Don’t you have your own splatter-stained copy that’s been on your shelf as long as you’ve been cooking? Or maybe your mom handed it down to you when you moved out on your own? After all, it’s been in print 40 years, and remains one of the most popular cookbooks of all time.

Ten Speed Press, the Berkeley-based publisher that got its start along with the “Moosewood,” recently put out a 40th-anniversary edition. If you bought the updated (read: lightened up on the dairy and eggs) version from 1992, there’s no need to buy this one. And if you’re still cooking from your original, as I am, you don’t have to run out to buy this edition either. However, if you know some youngsters who are unfamiliar with “The Moosewood Cookbook,” the 40th anniversary is indeed a fine time to introduce them to a book that came out when vegetarianism was still relegated to the hippies.

Read more


Potato-Fennel Soup with Browned Onions

By Molly Katzen

Photograph by Alix Wall

This very simple and rich-tasting soup can be made with no dairy products.

Fennel is well-known as a seasoning, particularly in seed form. It is less well known as a vegetable: a light green bulb that is crunchy, juicy, and deeply, though subtly, flavored.

Preparation time: about 40 minute
Yield: about 6 servings

1 tablespoon butter or oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 teaspoons salt
4 medium potatoes (average fist-sized), not necessarily peeled, and sliced into thin pieces 1 to 2 inches long
1 cup freshly minced fennel bulb
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
4 cups water
White pepper, to taste

Optional toppings: sour cream, thinned (by beating with a little whisk in a little bowl), the feathery tops of the fennel, well minced

1) Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a kettle or Dutch oven. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are very, very soft and lightly browned.

2) Add the potatoes, another ½ teaspoon of salt, the minced fennel bulb and the caraway seeds. Sauté over medium heat for another 5 minutes, then add the water. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (5 to 10 minutes).

3) Taste to adjust salt; add white pepper. Serve hot, topped with a decorative swirl of thinned sour cream and/or minced feathery fennel tops.

Read more


‘Moosewood’ Apple Strudel

By Molly Katzen

Photograph by Alix Wall

This delicious and straightforward apple strudel can be made several days in advance and stored, unbaked, in the refrigerator (tightly wrapped.) Baked strudel also keeps very well in the refrigerator or freezer if wrapped airtight. If you freeze it, defrost completely before reheating it, uncover in a 350˚ F oven for about 10 minutes, until crispened.

30 minutes to prepare; 35 minutes to bake
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Note: To make fine bread crumbs, cut several thick slices of whole wheat or white bread, and let them dry out for a few hours. Then toast the slices lightly, and grind them to a fine meal in a blender or food processor.

6 tablespoons vegetable oil — or ½ cup melted butter — or oil spray
1 ½ pounds tart apples (about 8 medium ones), peeled and chopped
¼ cup sugar
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
½ cup minced walnuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup raisins (optional)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
1 pound package filo pastry

1) Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Brush a baking tray with a little of the oil or melted butter, or spray it with oil spray. (Save most of the oil or butter for the filo.)

2) Place all the ingredients except the filo in a large bowl, and toss gently until everything is evenly distributed.

3) Place a sheet of filo on a clean, dry surface, and brush it lightly all over with oil or melted butter — or spray it with oil spray. Lay another sheet on top, oil or butter it all over and continue until you have a pile of 6. Distribute 1/3 of the apple mixture at one end, fold over the sides and roll it up.

4) Oil or butter the top of the roll, then transfer it to the prepared tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 2 more rolls.

5) Bake for about 35 minutes, or until lightly browned and exquisitely crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Read more


Keeping Up with the Pollans

By Liza Schoenfein

Foodie Family: The Pollan women are (from left to right) sisters Dana, Tracy and Lori and their mother, Corky. Photograph by John Kernick.

The members of my family are, for the most part, smart, accomplished, attractive and close to one another. I’ve always been pretty keen on them. But now that I have a window into another family, the Pollans, I sort of feel as if my own is somehow lacking.

Of course I knew that Michael Pollan was basically the spiritual leader of the sustainability (and sensible eating) movement in the United States. I knew that Corky Pollan was the writer whose Best Bets column I always flipped to first when she was at New York magazine. I knew that Tracy Pollan played the smart, beautiful girlfriend of Alex P. Keaton on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, and that she later married her leading man, Michael J. Fox.

But I didn’t know — did you? — that all of these Pollans (along with two more beautiful and accomplished sisters, Lori and Dana) were members of the same nuclear family.

Read more


Waving Bye-Bye to Pumpkin Pie

By Gayle L. Squires

Torta di zucca, an Italian winter squash and olive oil cake. Photograph by Gayle L. Squires

Admitting this in the days leading up to Thanksgiving might put me squarely in the crosshairs of the long-defunct House Committee on Un-American Activities, but I’m a risk-taker, so here goes: I don’t like pie. I particularly don’t like pumpkin pie. Now that I’ve said it out loud, please let me explain. (Don’t worry, I’ll be brief — and there’s cake at the end if you listen to the whole story.)

I will limit my anti-pie sentiments to three. First, the bottom crust is usually either too hard if it’s blind baked, or too soggy if it’s not. Second, and I know that I’m going to offend our orange-hued mascot of this week’s holiday feast and lovers of spiced lattes everywhere, pumpkin filling has the look and texture of baby food and the smell of a candle. Finally, if your home is anything like mine, after stuffing ourselves with turkey, dessert must be non-dairy, and while butter might be able to save many a pie, parve pie is just sad. After Thanksgiving dinner, I typically fill my dessert plate with the cut fruit.

Before this gets all Debbie downer, I do have a solution to my Thanksgiving woes: cake!

Read more


Putting Janna Gur's ‘Jewish Soul Food’ to the Test

By Alix Wall

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

This is a sporadic column by Bay Area personal chef Alix Wall, in which she evaluates a new cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing them with friends and asking what they think of the results. This time, she cooks her way through Israeli food authority Janna Gur’s new book.

When Janna Gur’s “Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh” arrived, I knew right away that I had a special book on my hands.

Gur emigrated to Israel from Riga, Latvia, as a teenager. The author of The New Book of Israeli Food, she championed Israeli cuisine before Yotam Ottolenghi; before Einat Admony. Together with her husband, Ilan Gur, she founded and still edits Al HaShulchan, an Israeli food magazine. She is frequently sought out to speak to groups about Israeli cuisine, and at one dinner with some visiting journalists, she was asked why so little traditional Ashkenazi food was to be found in Israel. Part of preserving a people’s culture is preserving its food, this journalist argued. Gur didn’t disagree. Rather than seeking out Israeli versions of old favorites, with this book Gur goes back to the diaspora, while at the same time updating many classics.

Read more


Juicy Semolina, Coconut and Pistachio Cake

By Janna Gur

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

When semolina cakes come out of the oven, they are not so sweet and are very crumbly, but once they are doused with hot and fragrant syrup, they turn moist and very sweet. The syrup also prevents them from drying out so they keep for a long time. The following version, from Ruth Oliver’s kitchen, is the best I have ever tasted. Ground coconut and pistachio nuts add crunch, and cream renders the pastry richer.

Makes one 15 x 0-inch (40 x 5-cm) cake

For the cake

¾ cup (6½ fluid ounces/180 ml) vegetable oil
1½ cups (12 fluid ounces/350 ml) half-and-half (single cream)
1 cup (3½ ounces/100 g) shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5½ ounces/160 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ cups (9 ounces/250 g) semolina (cream of wheat or cream of farina)
½ cup (2 ounces/55 g) ground pistachio nuts
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 eggs
1½ cups (11 ounces/300 g) sugar
For the syrup
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

2) Combine the vegetable oil and half-and-half in a large bowl.

3) Combine the coconut, flour, semolina, ground pistachios, and baking pow¬der in a separate bowl. Stir into the oil mixture.

4) Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed for 8 minutes until pale and fluffy. Gently fold the beaten eggs into the semolina batter.

5) Pour the batter into a deep rectangular baking pan approximately 15 x 10 inches (40 x 25 cm). Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cake turns golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry with a few crumbs adhering.

6) While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup Bring the water, sugar, and cinnamon to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

7) Take the cake out of the oven and pour the syrup evenly over the warm cake. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

VARIATIONS

For a nondairy version, substitute the same amount of coconut milk for the half-and-half.

BASBOUSA DESSERT

Cut the cake into small squares and top each square with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream, crème fraîche, or thick yogurt. You may also add a spoonful of tart fruit preserves, or serve it with fruit compote or with wine-poached pears.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read more


Georgian Eggplant Rolls With Walnut and Herb Filling

By Janna Gur

These look like Italian involtini, but the filling is unique and typically Georgian: pureed walnuts perfumed with fresh herbs (parsley and cilantro), garlic and vinegar. When pomegranates are in season, add fresh pomegranate seeds for crunch and flavor. I got this recipe from Marina Toporiya, a Georgian cook who used to own a modest restaurant in downtown Tel Aviv, where she turned out wonderful and unusual dishes from the old country.

Makes 12 to 14 rolls

For the eggplants

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dredging
Salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 to 3 eggplants, very thinly sliced lengthwise (you should have about 14 long, thin slices)

For the filling

12 ounces (350 g) walnuts
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon (or less) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Salt
Seeds from ½ pomegranate (optional)

1) Prepare the eggplants Put some flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt.

2) Heat a frying pan over medium heat and coat with a ½-inch (1½-cm) layer of vegetable oil. Dip each slice of eggplant into the flour mixture, then put in the pan, being careful not to crowd the pan (work in batches, if necessary). Fry the slices for about 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and allow to cool.

3) Prepare the filling Put the walnuts, garlic, onion, cayenne, turmeric, red pepper flakes, paprika, parsley, cilantro, vinegar, water and salt in a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the pome¬granate seeds (if using).

4) Spread a heaping spoonful of the filling on a fried eggplant slice and roll up the slice tightly. Place, seam-side down, on a plate and continue with the remaining filling and eggplants. Serve promptly.

TIP

Certain eggplants, especially those with lots of seeds, tend to be bitter. To get rid of the bitterness, sprinkle the sliced eggplants with coarse salt and set in a colander for an hour. Wash, pat dry with paper towels and fry as directed.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read more


Moroccan Spicy Carrot Salad

By Janna Gur

Photograph by Daniel Lailah

To make this simple and tasty meze salad you will need two typical North African condiments — pickled lemons and harissa. Both can be made at home or bought at specialty food stores or Middle Eastern groceries, and both will prove useful and versatile additions to your pantry.

Serves 6 to 8

6 medium carrots, sliced into ¾-inch (2-cm) coins
3 cups water
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa
1 tablespoon pickled (Moroccan) lemons, finely chopped (see below or store-bought)
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt
¼ cup fresh cilantro or mint leaves, chopped

1) Put the sliced carrots in a saucepan and add the water, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the carrots are tender but still have some bite.

2) Transfer the carrots to a bowl (save some of the cooking liquid). Add the harissa, pickled lemons, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, salt, and about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and mix. Let cool. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

3) Refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight, to let the flavors meld. The salad will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Before serving, bring to room temperature and toss with the cilantro.

Pickled Lemons | MOROCCAN

For me, pickled lemons define the concept of a “secret ingredient.” Less sharp than fresh lemons; soft, aromatic, and spicy, they perform miracles in vegetable and grain salads and are a great addition to chicken and fish braises. I also use them in pasta sauces, especially those with tuna. Preparation is easy, but the curing process takes about three months.

Makes 2 pounds/1 kg

2 pounds (1 kg) lemons, thinly sliced or cut into small wedges, pips removed
1 cup coarse salt
5 garlic cloves
2 small hot chile peppers (red or green)
4 to 6 allspice berries
4 bay leaves
Sweet and/or hot paprika
Fresh lemon juice, to cover
Vegetable oil, to seal

1) Dip the lemon slices or wedges in the salt to cover all sides and arrange in layers in a sterilized glass jar. Place the garlic, chiles, allspice, and bay leaves between the layers of lemon. Press down hard until the juice begins to run out and pour the lemon juice on top. To seal, pour a generous layer of vegetable oil on top of everything.

2) Refrigerate for 3 weeks and up to a month. When the curing process has been completed, discard the garlic, chiles, allspice, and bay leaves and keep refrigerated.

Excerpted from JEWISH SOUL FOOD by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2014 by Janna Gur. Excerpted by permission of Schocken Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read more


Recipe: Brussels Sprout Risotto

By Yotam Ottolenghi

Photograph by Jonathan Lovekin © 2014

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped (1 1/3 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
2 lemons, rind shaved in long strips from one, finely grated zest from the other
1½ cups Arborio or another risotto rice
18 ounces trimmed Brussels sprouts (7 ounces shredded and 11 ounces quartered) lengthwise
Scant 2 cups dry white wine
Scant 4 cups hot vegetable stock
About 1 2/3 cups sunflower oil
1½ cups Parmesan, coarsely grated
2 ounces Dolcelatte, broken into ¾-inch chunks (The Forward substituted gorgonzola dolce)
1/3 cup tarragon leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and black pepper

1) Place the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic, thyme and lemon rind strips, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the rice and shredded sprouts and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Pour in the wine and let it simmer for a minute before you start adding the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Turn down the heat to medium, and carry on adding the stock in ladlefuls, stirring often, until the rice is cooked but still retains a bite and all the stock is used up.

2) While the rice is cooking, pour the sunflower oil into a separate large saucepan; it should rise ¾ inch up the sides. Place over high heat and, once the oil is very hot, use a slotted spoon to add a handful of the quartered sprouts. (Take care that they are completely dry before you add them; they will still splatter, so be careful.) Fry the sprouts for less than 1 minute, until golden and crispy, then transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep them somewhere warm while you fry the remaining sprouts.

3) Add the Parmesan, Dolcelatte (or Gorgonzola Dolce), tarragon and half the fried sprouts to the cooked risotto and stir gently. Serve at once with the remaining sprouts spooned on top, followed by the grated lemon zest and the lemon juice.

Reprinted with permission from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

“Plenty More” is available for purchase through online booksellers such as Powells.com and IndieBound.org.

Read more


Mahatma Ghandi's Secretary Cooks Indian Hameem

By Alix Wall

Pearl Sofaer (right) works with Frances Kalfus during a Berkeley cooking class. photo/alix wall

At a recent cooking class featuring a few dishes from the family of Bombay-born Pearl Sofaer, the stories threatened to eclipse the food.

“My mother was a secretary of Gandhi,” she said, as a student browned chicken parts on the stovetop. “He gave her a sewing machine. She wanted to take it to the U.S. when we left, but my father wouldn’t let her.”

The class, held at the Berkeley home of Rabbi Yehuda Ferris and his wife, Miriam, was co-sponsored by Chabad of the East Bay and JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), where Sofaer is on the speakers’ bureau. Sofaer is the author of “Baghdad to Bombay: In the Kitchens of My Cousins.” The 2008 book is very much like the class was, full of stories with some family recipes included. Sofaer learned how to cook from her mother in the United States — because in India they always had a cook.

The author, cantorial soloist, artist, mother and grandmother lives in Greenbrae; she has been in the United States for most of her adult life. While she and her mother were born in Bombay and her father in Rangoon, Burma, all are of Iraqi descent.

“I’m a Mizrachi Jew, who came from between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers,” she said, and then broke into the song about the waters of Babylon.

“When Babylon disintegrated, that’s when they moved to Baghdad, which became a major center. It was where the Hebrew alphabet was first written down, and the sofers (Hebrew for scribes) did that writing. I feel extremely fortunate to be from this heritage because it’s so very rich.”

The food she made was less rich, using no oil at all. While Indian cuisine is heavy on oil and ghee (clarified butter), she said Baghdadi Jews do not cook that way. We made a simple salad of diced tomatoes, dressed only with lemon juice, chopped cilantro and salt and pepper.

Same with a beet salad with caramelized onions; again, it was dressed with lemon juice, a bit of cranberry juice (the addition comes from her cousin in Toronto, not from India), and salt and pepper.

Sofaer was clear that all leaves should be plucked from the cilantro stems. “Never serve your guests cilantro like this,” she said, pointing to the entire stem. “I can’t stand lazy restaurants that do that.”

Before participants plucked, Miriam Ferris put the cilantro through a vigorous wash-and-soak in water and vinegar to make sure it was free of bugs, as kosher law dictates. She then laid it out on a light-box — normally used by photographers — to check it again. It had to go through the rinse process a second time when a bug was found after the first wash.

The main dish was made for the next night’s Iraqi Shabbat dinner. It was an Indian version of hameem (also spelled hamim), a Mizrachi version of cholent, also called t’bith in Arabic.

A whole chicken is rubbed with ground turmeric and cardamom and then browned. Tomatoes that have been parboiled and mashed are added, along with rice. Later, parboiled carrots are added, along with their cooking water, additional water, salt and pepper. The dish is cooked first over a flame and then later in the oven, where it can remain overnight.

Given that Sofaer was born in 1934, there were very few houses in India that had ovens during her childhood. “We had a charcoal brazier, and made hameem the night before,” she said. “We’d cover it with big burlap bags to keep it warm and cook it like that all night, and then eat it when we came home from synagogue for lunch.”

Read more



Would you like to receive updates about new stories?
























We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.