Archive for the 'Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods' Category

01
Jun
11

Internet Radio Show Tonight


Thanks to Sidney and Tammy Cohen  we did an incredible one hour show last week, live from 18 Restaurant (240 E 81st St, New York NY10065; Tel: 212.517.2400). Our guests lineup included: Gil Marks – author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, Chef Lévana Kirschenbaum – who spoke of her brand new cook book. Kim Amzallag from Kosher Inspired Magazine, Esti Berkowitz from the Prime Time Parenting blog and, of course, the incomparable Tammy Cohen . The food was great, the atmosphere just perfect and the place was packed.  We all loved it!

This evening, at 7:30 pm (Eastern Time), we will broadcasting again. You can listen to our show at BlogTalkRadio/kosherscene. We will start with a reading of a very short piece I wrote a few years back (which was reprinted on The Jerusalem Post and on Ynet.com) it’s about the first Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day, commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem. I was there when the Old City – Ir Hatika became ours again…

Then we’ll turn the conversation to Shavuos and dairy food with Brigitte Mizrahi and Moshe Vogel from Anderson International Foods (who manufacture the cholov Yisroel line of cheeses Natural & Kosher, and the non-cholov Yisroel brands Les Petites Fermieres and Organic and Kosher. We will follow with Kim Amzallag (whom I prerecorded yesterday afternoon), who will talk to us about the new Shavuos issue of Kosher Inspired and much more.

A tiny selection of Anderson International Foods' cheese offerings

Please tune us in this evening from 7:30pm t0 8:30pm, at: BlogTalkRadio/kosherscene. We have a very interesting program, geared to Shavuos (which is next week, starting Tuesday eve and continuing through Thursday night, the evening of the 7th through the 9th of June). We’ll be waiting for you!

CS

25
May
11

Live! From 18…


This evening’s broadcast will be live from Manhattan’s 18 Restaurant (240 E 81st St, New York NY10065; Tel: 212.517.2400), starting at 7:30 – Eastern Time – we will be on the air until 8:30. Our guests include: Tammy Cohen from 18, Gil Marks – author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, cooking guru and cookbook author extraordinaire Chef Levana Kirschenbaum, Kim Amzallag from Kosher Inspired Magazine and blogger Esti Berkowitz from Prime Time Parenting.

Whenever I go to 18 Restaurant, whatever else I may eat, I gotta have the Yemenite Meat Soup. Tasty and just spicy enough!

They have all been on our show before, except for Mrs. Berkowitz (who is a fascinating individual in her own right), but are back per listeners’ requests. What better venue than to have all of them together in one place, having a nice conversation, enjoying a meal and delighting you with their knowledge, humor and passion for all things food?

Won’t you join us, this evening at 7:30pm, at 18 Restaurant (240 E 81st St, New York NY10065; Tel: 212.517.2400) where you can meet our guests in person and partake of the restaurants delicious, yet reasonably priced fare?

Last Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hosting master photographer Irving Schild. He spoke to us about a fascinating new book project, he’s currently working on, about Jewish communities coming back to life in Eastern Europe, as well as some others prospering in more exotic parts of the globe. If you missed that show you can hear the archive here at: Talking with Irving Schild.

Even if you can’t come to the restaurant you can still hear us this evening from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/kosherscene. We’ll be wait’n for ya!

CS

09
Mar
11

No Broadcast Tonight


Kudos to our dear friend, Rabbi Yaakov Spivak at the Jewish Radio Network, for hosting the past eleven episodes of The Kosher Scene Radio Show. We’re so excited to announce that starting next week, we’ll be moving to a terrific new net station.  We’ll be bigger and better than ever with new tech abilities and worldwide coverage. Check The Kosher Scene Radio for updates and details about our new and exciting venue. This week, however, we will be taking a week hiatus from radio while we make the necessary transitions.

Last week’s show featured Moshe Aaron Zimmerman from Liquors Galore (1212 Avenue J; Brooklyn, NY 11230-3702; Telephone: 718.338.4166), if you missed it here is the archived show. In the past, Aaron has shared some basics of wine tasting on this blog’s pages, with a four part series on Enjoying Your Wine (BuyingTastingStoring and Grape Varieties). His talk on our show was interesting and very informative.

Here are the links to our past guests’ audio files:

We have a great lineup of upcoming guests, enjoy a quiet night off tonight, but be sure to listen our new show. We’ll give you the details at the beginning of next week.

CS

20
Jan
11

Tu B’Shvat


Today is Tu B’Shvat – the New Year for Trees – Rosh Hashana la’Ilanot. In Israel beautiful almond trees are now in full blossom, new trees are planted toda and people eat dried fruits and almonds.

Two of the many Tu B'Shvat baskets sold at Pomegranate in Brooklyn

Tu B’Shvat is mentioned in Mishnayos Rosh Hashana as one of four New Years in the Jewish calendar. the ARIZa”L (Rabbi Yitzchak  Luria) and his disciples, in the 16th century, used to celebrate this day by conducting a seder where ten fruits specific to Israel were consumed with cups of wine. The idea was that eating those fruits in a specific order while reciting the appropriate blessings would bring the world closer to spiritual pertfection.

In our everlasting quest to bring you the best recipes, I found a whole delectable batch on Gil Marks ( author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food) own blog:

Popular Tu b’Shevat dishes include: Hungarian wine soup (borleves), Moroccan orange salad (salata latsheen), Middle Eastern bulgur-stuffed cabbage (malfoof mahshee), Bukharan vegetable and fruit stew (dimlama), Bukharan baked rice and fruit (savo), Persian sweet rice (shirin polo), Ashkenazic barley with mushrooms (gersht un shveml), Persian carrot omelets (havij edjeh), Middle Eastern wheat berry pudding (ashure), and German fried dumplings with fruit (schnitzelkloese). Dried fruit strudels and kugels are a popular Ashkenazic treat. Turkish Jews enjoy prehito/moostrahana, a dish of sweetened cracked wheat, or kofyas, a dish of sweetened wheat berries, called assurei or koliva by the Greeks. Syrians serve fruit and nut pastries such as ma’amoul (nut pastries) and ras ib adjweh (date pastries).

As always his encyclopedic knowledge shows right through. On the same page he also gives us some of the recipes he mentions and I felt this one was the most à propos, as it reminds us of the ARIZa”L‘s custom:

Israeli Wine and Fruit Soup

(6 to 8 servings)

If you prefer whole fruit, add the oranges to cooled soup.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups dry red or rose wine (or 2½ cups fruity dry white or rose wine and 1½ cups dry red wine)
  • 2 pints fresh or 40 ounces frozen raspberries or cherries
  • 44 ounces canned mandarin oranges
  • 1½ cups orange juice or water
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 (3-inch) sticks cinnamon (optional)

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

VARIATION:

To Thicken Soup with Cornstarch: Omit tapioca. Dissolve 2 tablespoons cornstarch in ½ cup water; stir into boiling soup; and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until clear.

For the rest of Gil’s superb recipes you’ll just have to his blog.

Have a Tu B’Shvat same’ach, gentle reader!

CS

04
Jan
11

Spelt Bread


[Gil Marks is the author of numerous books, including his latest, the highly-acclaimed Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. CS]

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with various grains in place of common wheat in breads. I’ve made rye bread many times over the years, but always with some wheat flour in the dough. A couple of weeks ago, I baked a 100% rye bread, which turned out rather flat and very dense and with a nutty, fruity flavor. It was perfect with lox. I have some einkorn flour in the refrigerator awaiting use in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying spelt bread the past few weeks.

Triticum spelta L. (Photo from: plants/usda.gov)

Spelt (triticum spelta L.) – dinkel in German and Yiddish; farro grande in Italian; kusmin in Modern Hebrew — is a hexaploid species of wheat (it has 42 chromosomes), like common wheat. Spelt is a hybrid of emmer (a tetraploid wheat with 28 chromosomes) and a wild goat grass (Aegilops tauschii), possibly occurring north of the Caucasus or in Crimea. The kernels are slightly longer and more pointed than those of wheat, somewhat resembling barley in appearance. Spelt is a hulled grain (spelze in German and farro in Italian), meaning the husk remains attached to the kernel during threshing and requires much pounding and effort to extract the grain. (Common wheat and durum wheat are free-threshing grains in which the hulls easily slip off.) Spelt is also relatively low yielding. However, spelt grows well in poor soil and without the need for pesticides, since, as with most hulled grains, it naturally resists fungus and insects.

It was in Bronze and Iron Age (750-15 BCE) Europe where spelt found its greatest popularity, becoming the predominant wheat species of Germany and Switzerland. The word spelta, believed to be of Saxon origin, was first recorded in 301 CE in an edict of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the Romans possibly introduced to the grain after expanding the empire northward. Romans, however, preferred common wheat, which they spread through their domains. Ashkenazim mistakenly confused spelt with both the Talmudic shiphon (probably einkorn) and the Biblical kussemet (probably emmer or a generic term for hulled wheat, of which emmer was then the most prominent), as one of the Five Species of grain forbidden on Passover and also requiring the removal of challah. (As a member of the wheat family, spelt is still forbidden on Passover and requires challah removal.) Rashi (Pesachim 35a) translated kusmin into Old French as espelte, which is usually translated as spelt, but may actually mean hulled wheats in general, similar to the German Spelzen and Italian farro. Spelt was not grown in biblical or Talmudic Israel or Egypt and there is no archeological evidence for this grain anywhere in the ancient Near East or Egypt.

Green Kern spelt - Photo from allergome.org

In the late medieval period, as new species of naked wheat became prevalent in central Europe, spelt consequently lost its attractiveness. Nevertheless, spelt remained the predominant grain in southern Germany until the nineteenth century. Still, it retains a degree of popularity in parts of southern Germany and southwestern Poland. Today, spelt’s primary form is husked and kiln-dried, the resulting grains called gruenkern (literally “green kernels”). Harvesting green grains, such as barley for the biblical Omer offering, is an ancient practice devised to collect a small part of a springtime crop while still immature, thereby salvaging at least that portion, in case a heavy storm would potentially damage or rot the entire yield.

Primarily produced in parts of southern Germany and southwestern Poland, gruenkern is rare in America, but found in some specialty food stores. Germans use the greenish-tan kernels in soups, stews, puddings, gruels, breads (mixed with wheat flour), and fritters. Today, many German families, instead of shalet (cholent), slow simmer gruenkernsuppe overnight to commence Sabbath lunch. The first edition of The Settlement Cook Book (1901), the author from a German-Jewish heritage, included a recipe for “Green Kern Soup,” directing “2 qts. soup stock or poultry soup, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon celery, diced, 2 cups green kern, 1 cup Croutons, 2 cups boiling water, 1 teaspoon salt. Wash green kern in cold water, then cook in boiling salted water 2 hours or until tender, add the celery. As water evaporates add soup stock, page 66. If you are making fresh soup take the “top soup” and keep adding it strained to the green kern, until the desired consistency. Season to taste. Serve hot with Croutons, page 81. If you prefer, dry the green kern on back of stove, grind fine and cook until tender in the soup. Just before serving pour on one or two egg yolks well beaten and serve hot with Croutons.”

Spelt is also used in central Europe to make ale, noodles, pancakes, and bread. Spelt contains a lower amount of omega gliadins (proteins) that engender gluten than common wheat and, therefore, can sometimes be tolerated by those with wheat allergies to common wheat, which has been bred to contain a massive amount of gluten. For some, but not all of those who face problems with common wheat (not those with celiac disease), spelt is fine. Otherwise, the fat and amino acid content of common wheat and spelt are similar.

As to my spelt bread, the results were very good. Spelt bread is a bit more crumbly and not quite as high rising as common wheat loaves as well as a light brown hue. But it is still rather fluffy inside, has a crusty exterior, and with a somewhat nutty taste. In many ways, spelt flour can be used similarly to common wheat. However, spelt dough, since its gluten is more fragile and soluble, requires less kneading than common wheat, only 4 to 5 minutes by hand (wheat bread is typically 10 minutes of kneading). Also use less water than in wheat dough (which will weaken the gluten), meaning a firmer dough. However, the dough should not be too dry, or the bread will turn out too dense. I understand that bread machines, which I won’t use anyway, overstress the gluten and produce inferior spelt loaves.

In case you feel like experimenting, here’s my recipe for spelt bread (Dinkelbrot):

Spelt bread (dinkelbrot) - Detail from photo by: thefreshloaf.com

Spelt Bread

(1 medium loaf about 24 ounces)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees (40 to 46 C) for dry yeast
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 3¼ cups spelt flour (13 ounces/365 grams)

Directions

  1. To make the dough: Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup water. Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining water, oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Gradually add enough remaining flour until the mixture holds together.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes. (Less than wheat flour.) Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, divide in half, and form into a ball. Place, seam side down, on a parchment paper-lined or greased large baking sheet or in a greased 8-inch round baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
  5. With a sharp knife, slit an X in the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

Enjoy!

Gil Marks

03
Jan
11

This Week’s Upcoming Internet Radio Show


Elizabeth Bland, photo from her website (cheesemistress.com/)

Last Wednesday we had a very interesting discussion on cheese and kosher cheese in particular with Elizabeth Bland (we will soon post, on these very pages, a supermarket trip with Mrs. Bland where we will look at various kosher cheeses. Meanwhile you can hear an .mp3 file of our radio show here.

This coming Wednesday – January 5, 2011 – our guest will be Gill Marks. Gill recently published the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. What are Gill Marks credentials? What qualifies him to talk or write about food? As his website states:

Gill Marks, at The James Beard Foundation. Photo from gilmarks.com

An author, rabbi, historian, chef, and social worker, Gil Marks is a leading authority on culinary subjects in general and Jewish cuisine in particular. Among his published books are Encyclopedia of Jewish Food (Wiley: 2010), James Beard Award-winning Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World (Wiley 2004), and James Beard Award finalist The World of Jewish Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Marks was included in the Jewish Forward’s annual “Forward 50,” a list of the fifty most influential Jewish-Americans in the year 2010. http://www.forward.com/forward-50/

A self-taught chef, Marks entertained at his New York City home, earning a reputation as a gourmet cook. He began moonlighting for several caterers before branching out on his own. Some of his early jobs involved baking 150 apple pies for a cooking spray promotion, an all-dessert bat mitzvah, and a health food wedding. In 1986, Marks combined his interests in food, history, Judaism, and writing to become founding editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine, a position he held for six years. After leaving Kosher Gourmet, Marks turned his attention to writing fiction and biblical research as well as continuing his work on culinary subjects. His efforts include two plays, Therapist, and, in collaboration with Stanley Allan Sherman, The Golem of Gavah. His other books are The World of Jewish Desserts (Simon & Schuster, September 2000) and The World of Jewish Entertaining (Simon & Schuster, 1998) and he was also among the international team of contributors to the prestigious Meals in Science and Practice: Interdisciplinary Research and Business Applications (Woodhead Publishing, 2009).

Marks has also written articles for numerous magazines; served as a guest lecturer at the Culinary Institute of America,HazonKosherfest, and Drisha Institute; acted as consultant for various companies and organizations; and given presentations throughout the world, including the 92nd Street Y, Macy’s DeGustibus Cooking SchoolThe Learning Annex, the Kislak Adult Center, and the Fresh Start Program at New York’s Rikers Island. Marks continues to write, research, lecture, and perform cooking demonstrations for groups across the country and make appearances on various television and radio programs.

When I first contacted Mr. Marks to arrange the radio interview I thought it would be a short call, instead I was totally fascinated listening to his stories and the call was rather a long one. He is a captivating repository of anecdotes and history, this upcoming show promises to be a very interesting one!

Please, listen in on Wednesday at 8:00pm on Jewish Radio Network. Click on the red “here” under the white “Radio,” then wait about 90 to 180 seconds for the application to start streaming.

CS

24
Dec
10

The Joy of Cookbooks


There was a time when cookbooks were written dry as a road map, the writing was limited to exact cooking directions, nothing more; in their current generation, cookbooks tell a story – besides presenting us with succulent recipes – we are regaled with personal anecdotes, or the various transformations of the specific dish, something about the region or culture that created it and so on. Quite often the result is very readable and interesting, even if you do not plan to make the specific recipe at the moment, there is something about it that catches your eye, excites your imagination and makes your taste buds salivate.

Food writing, differs from other types and yet it combines so many staple features of all the others. More than any other writing, however, it affords us huge insights into its author’s personality, interests, quirks, likes, dislikes and sometimes, personal life. Oft, you come away with the feeling you reunited with an old friend or that you just met someone you’ll love revisiting time and time again.

From books that trace Jewish influences on a specific country’s cuisine (like Joyce Goldstein‘s Cucina Ebraica), to books that bring us anecdotes, personal stories and more about the author’s or the recipes’ background (like Lévana Kirschenbaum‘s Lévana’s Table), or the incredible well researched Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods by Gil Marks (I’ve only seen a few random pages of the last, but I found it absolutely fascinating!!!), reading food writing – specifically kosher food writing – connects us with our past as a people, connects us with new friends we’d probably never have met otherwise, connects with our traditions. Yes, gentle reader, reading a cookbook is not what it used to be, there is a lot to learn from it – far more than how to prepare a flavorful dish. As Gil Marks so aptly puts it in his Encyclopedia:

Food is more than just sustenance. It is a reflection of the history, culture and values, and this is specially true of the Jewish people–a community that spans the globe. From Brooklyn to India and everywhere in between, Jewish food is represented by a fascinating array of dishes, rituals, and traditions.

Jewish cuisine is truly international. In every location Jews settled, they brought culinary traditions and also adapted local dishes modifying them to fit dietary laws, lifestyles and tastes. Unique traditions and dishes developed within the cuisines of North Africa, Europe, Persia, and the Mediterranean, but all are recognizably Jewish.

Enjoy your reading, gentle reader, and excite your taste buds.

CS

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