Archive for the 'fine kosher dining' Category



15
Nov
10

Pardes Restaurant


Pardes Restaurant‘s Chef/Owner, Moshe Wendel, opened this new eatery on October the 24th (497 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11217; Tel: 718.797.3880), barely three weeks ago. Chef Moshe’s culinary talents and passion for food, along with the friendly enthusiasm of his tight-knit staff result in a successful venture. Through the years, he carefully and methodically honed his skills. Starting out as a dishwasher at age 16, he climbed through the ranks through various prestigious establishments such as Philadelphia’s celebrated Django restaurant. Moshe and his wife Shana became ba’alei tshuvah, and rushed back east to cook for Mosaica and Mike’s Bistro. He opened Basil as Executive Chef, stayed there for a short while, and is now fulfilling his own dream of owning a top kosher restaurant.

Small, warm, very welcoming

Moshe had a clear vision for Pardes. Located in an area filled with art galleries, bookstores, fashion shops and assorted eateries featuring every kind of cuisine, Pardes became an extension of the chic, upscale, urban cool mix. My companion (SYR could not make it this time) and I got there at around 3:00pm,  Lunch to Dinner transition time…

I ordered the Home Made Bouquerones [house cured white anchovies], with Red Pepper, Caper Berries, Arugula, Lemon Dressing.

Home Made Bouquerones with Arugula

With a hint of spiciness and ample richness of flavor, the well appointed dish was a perfect intro to the rest of the meal.

My companion chose the Tuna Crudo, with Porcini Popcorn,  Arugula and Corn Coulis. She found it beautiful to look at and extremely flavorful.

Nile Perch, Poached in Hazelnut Garlic Broth, “Risotto” of White Asparagus, Granny Smith Salad was my next choice. Again… the unusual mix of seasonal flavors were refreshing & delightful! My companion opted for the Saffron Linguine, Mojama, Almonds & Chiles. A spicey delectable mix of flavors, nicely presented.

Next we both had their Spicey-Smokey Chicken “Wings”, Red Pepper Saffron Vinaigrette, Tomato salad with Herbs, Preserved Lemon, Green olive and Jalapeno…

Close-up of one of the Spicy-Smoked Chicken "Wings" With red Pepper-Saffron Vinaigrette

Check this out!  A real treat for the taste buds!  We were instructed to place the meat into our mouths and then press the spice filled pipette releasing the wonderful burst of flavours… Pretty outrageous!

For the mains we shared both the Pizza of Beef Tongue Confi, With 24 Hour Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil….

Pizza Beef Tongue Confi

…and the Short Ribs & Broccoli Rabe Lasagne.  The meat Pizza tasted sinfully delicious; the thin crust and beef tongue confi made the cheese topped pizzas, I’m used to, almost irrelevant. The Short Ribs Lasagne, was unusually tasty but had a rather limp presentation compared to the other dishes we sampled.

For dessert, we had the (“Manna” Bee Pollen Dusted Angel Food, Quince, Honey Ice Cream, Sugared Almonds and Olive Oil Cake, Chocolate Flan, Espresso Flavored Marron Glaces) all quite tasty – even gifted – although presentation was lack-luster. All in all, we were treated to an outstanding meal and each of us gave it two big thumbs up! In a lesser restaurant we might even have praised the minor negatives we encountered here.

Next time I’ll order from their ample beer selection, as well.

I was very gratified to see our favorite Chef, Lévana, shares our overall view after going to Pardes the evening after we did.

CS
Pardes Restaurant on Urbanspoon

02
Jul
10

Royal Persian Grill


Efraim Azari, owner of Royal Persian Grill (192 West Englewood Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666; Telephone: 201-833-1555) has an inspiring personal story which explains his evolution into the kosher restaurant business.

Originally from Teheran, Efraim emigrated to Israel with his family, when he was just a child of 4. He grew up in a Tel Hashomer kibbutz. as left wing as it gets. Raised on  ideology which stipulates that religious people were untrustworthy,  superstitious and downright foolish, he focused his energies on an enlightened worldly consciousness, athletic healthy body, excelling in karate and other martial arts.

Thirteen years ago, Efraim emigrated to Miami, with his wife and youngest son, where he built a large successful business. One day, his son informed his parents of his decision to become a ba’al tshuvah. Efraim and his wife were devastated, wondering where they had failed their child; no amount of dissuasion sufficed, he couldn’t be talked out of this folly! Shortly thereafter, another stroke of bad luck befell the Azaris; Efraim severely injured his right shoulder blade. The tear required complicated surgery, the pain was unbearable, and the operation failed. A wounded, tired, exasperated Efraim traveled the world in search of a top surgeon that specialized in his injury… He found one, and scheduled a second  operation, with the hoped that this time it would be successful. His nights were sleepless, excruciatingly painful, filled with channel surfing, Arak and other potables to numb the unceasing pain.

A few short weeks prior to the operation, Efraim’s son – now married and an avreich in a Monsey kollel – invited his parents for a visit. Though his core beliefs and lifestyle hadn’t changed one iota, Efraim couldn’t help but be impressed by the size and scope of the bet knesset and Yeshivat Or Yisrael. Before leaving, his son told Efraim that the Rosh Kollel wanted to give him a bracha (blessing). Little did he know his life was about to change… for ever…

“I hear you tore your shoulder blade,” the Rabbi said. “Yes,” Efraim answered. “And your first operation was a disaster.” “Yes,” Efraim answered. “And you’ve already scheduled a second operation.” “Yes,” Efraim answered. “I have the perfect doctor for you!” said the Rabbi. “With all due respect to the Rabbi I already have a top doctor,” Efraim answered. “You don’t understand, I can recommend THE top doctor to you.” “Please Rabbi, I already scheduled my operation!” “You don’t understand, I can recommend the best specialist for you,” repeated the Rosh Kollel. Again, at the urging of his wife, Efraim acquiesced and let the Rabbi continue. “Give me two hours a day of deep study, learn and thoroughly follow this book – which I’ll give you – on the Laws of Shabbat. Follow it thoroughly, do not pick and choose what’s convenient, or sensible, just follow it thoroughly or don’t waste your time warming a chair here. If you follow everything, the Doctor will cure you.” Reluctantly and again at his wife’s urging, Efraim committed himself to this. That very night, for the first time in almost a year, Efraim slept right, soundly; no pain, no needles, no shocks!

Refreshed, the next morning, he showed up at the Yeshiva, fascinated with the new teachings – revealing a heretofore unknown, undreamed of, world and a new purpose in life. Again that night he slept well, the pain had inexplicably eased up. After a week of refreshing sleep and productive learning, Efraim began to achieve some mobility in his injured arm and shoulder; soon all pain disappeared, full mobility and the use of his arm and shoulder returned. All without surgery… Believe it or not! The Doctor had done his job!!! “I’m a stubborn man,” Efraim says, “I don’t like change, but who can argue with obvious miracles when I experienced the healing in my own flesh?” I truly understood the meaning of Ani Hashem rofecha! – I am the Lord, your Doctor!” And so, the enlightened athlete who stumbled upon the courtyard of the Royal Palace in Monsey, stayed and learned. Four years ago, still dedicating several hours a day to his learning, he opened the Royal Persian Grill.

Royal Persian Grill

What makes the Persian cuisine different from Middle Eastern cooking? At the Royal Persian Grill they use a twenty five herb combo mix, a lot of parsley, cilantro, mind lemon and garlic, not hot spicy like some Israeli dishes, rather more sweet and sour. Rice accompanies many of the selections and is cooked differently than the usual western way. It’s cooked half way, then it gets washed in cold water, finally, it’s steamed. Thus, the kernels stay separated and retain their shape gleam and taste. We sampled one of their very popular Persian dishes. Ghorme Sabzi- a thick beef stew- a Persian cholent – if you will – with rice, red beans and meat. It was earthy and filling. The second Persian favorite was Beef Bamya, a sweet and sour beef stew with okra. It wasn’t ready when we were there and we hope to sample it next time.

We started the meal with their Appetizer Salad Combo.

Appetizer Salad Combo with matbucha, hummus, Romanian eggplant, babaganoush and pikanti eggplant.

We enjoyed this dish with toasted pita covered with oil and zaatar (hyssop). All the salads, like the rest of the of the fare, are freshly made at the restaurant. This salad combo plate tasted very good!

Next, we ordered a very adequate Yemenite Meat Soup. We continued with a delicately seasoned Grilled Chicken Breast

Grilled Chicken Breast w/fries and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes

Cooked just right, it was tender and juicy, as we sipped a refreshing iced lemon/mint tea.

We finished the meal with a superb Halva Ice Cream

Halva Ice Cream. Amaaazing!

…and an excellent Baklavah. Yehudis, our waitress, made our meal an absolute delight with her friendly solicitousness. We know we’ll be back!

CS

Royal on Urbanspoon

09
Jun
10

Tiberias


Comfortable, relaxed, upscale, delicious… Those words barely describe this brand new eatery in Midtown Manhattan. Tiberias (45 East 34th Street; NY, NY 10016; Tel: 212.481.4222). is under OK supervision, its fare is cholov Yisroel dairy. SYR and I went there yesterday at mid afternoon, less than a week after it opened. It may be brand new but, the two Steinhart brothers have been working in and managing restaurants for the last five years, in spite of their very young ages. This is the realization of their dream, a dream of having a unique restaurant with something different than the standard offerings. If this is how they started, it will not just be a dream!

A partial view of Tiberias Restaurant

SYR started the meal with the Stuffed Mushrooms, stuffed  with fresh vegetables topped with mozzarella and doused in cream sauce.

5 button mushrooms, stuffed with vegetables, topped with mozarella, doused in cream sauce.

She found it very flavorful, each ingredient combined for a delicious, perfect, appetizer.

I had the Gravalax. Homemade smoked salmon with potato crustini and cucumber salad with dill and mustard,  subtly flavored and very good to the palate.

We then shared the Special of the Day, Pasta del Sol. It consisted of penne with cream sauce and cherry tomato culis, topped with a nicely sized grilled Atlantic salmon.

Considering it was a hot, humid day SYR accompanied the meal with a Lime & Srawberry Smoothie, made from freshly squeezed lime juice, a bit of lemon zest,  fresh strawberries and crushed ice. It looked great and tasted even better. I had the Coffee Slim Shake (it’s sugar free, but you wouldn’t believe it from that great taste!), it came with ice cream, skim milk and was topped with cocoa powder. On the table next to us, a young lady was feasting on an interesting looking Affogato de Gelato, her expression told us it must have tasted heavenly. She explained to us that she’s enjoyed it here before, it consists of a large scoop of sugar free vanilla ice cream, in a boiling shot of espresso served in a martini glass…

We ended the meal with their Jack Daniels Cheese Cake, this is a Mozart type cheese cake with 2% percent of Jack Daniels whiskey. It tasted superb  and looked great, served with three ice cream scoops, some whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Jack Daniels Cheese Cake

SYR had a Torino Hot Chocolate, gourmet hot chocolate with a partially submerged milk chocolate bar… buonissimo, ottimo!!! I had their Cappuccino, an espresso with steamed milk topped with foam, made from Italy’s famed Danesi Gold Beans…. subtly sweet with a pinch of brown sugar, artistically presented.

Tiberias Cappuccino

A great experience in a brand new eatery with a nice ambiance; as SYR puts it, NO-GUILT DELISH! This definitely calls for an encore…

CS

03
Jun
10

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar


At the edge of Crown Height’s Jewish neighborhood, we walked through the tall glass paned doors of Basil Pizza and Wine Bar (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777). We were greeted by the lovely homey smells coming from their large wood oven, clearly center staged by design, partnered with an open bar and cooking area. Soft relaxing Latin music permeated a high vaulted room adorned with 13 honey jar shaped glass lanterns hanging at variegated heights back-dropped by a glass fronted honey comb wine casement.  Marble top tables and dark rustic wooden chairs filled the room commodiously, seating 45 comfortably.

Partial view of Basil. Clara Perez, the Manager, taking a breather in one of those rare low traffic moments.

The pizza and wine bar opened its doors in late February of this year. Just a few months in, with an extensive gourmet dairy menu created by his predecessor, Chef Adam  (who started his culinary training in Italy’s Costa D’Amalfi – then the restaurant’s sous-chef – was suddenly asked to take the helm as chef de cuisine.  Like the young Luciano Pavoratti in February 1965 – who was asked to replace the regular tenor – in an evening’s fateful  performance (Donizzetti’s Lucia de Lamermoor) at the Greater Miami Opera, young Chef Adam stepped up to the plate prevailing successfully without missing a single high note apparently, for he served up dish after dish of consistently delicious Basil favorites.

We began this, our latest restaurant adventure, with their Wild Mushroom Pizza made with Goat Cheese, Mozzarella and Truffle Oil, we took a side dish of their signature Basil Fries, sprinkled with Fresh Parmesan aside a  Garlic-Truffle Mayo Dip- clearly – not for the faint hearted.  Both were delicious.  The thin crusted pizza dough (made with imported Italian flour) was terrific, as were the wild mushrooms and goat cheese topping. CS predictably downed a respectable number of fries, loving the crispy strips dipped in truffle mayo. We both opted for Tishbi’s Chenin Blanc to accompany our meal. It was perfect for the table fare and the balmy summer afternoon. I had a respectable Arugula and Beets Salad topped with medallions of warm goat cheese sprinkled with pine nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.

CS, gnocchi Gnostic that he is, couldn’t help but devour the Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin rich with Tomatoes, Spinach and Parmesan Bread Crumbs. He found it flavorful, authentic Italian Campagna, done to perfection! We sampled three more mains; spinach ricotta dumplings, striped bass, and a saffron risotto.  I went for their Striped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream. Presentation was outstanding as you can see from the pictures below (we had a very, very tough time settling on only three photos of the dishes!).  The charred fennel was set like a sail atop a perfectly cooked striped bass a sea in a gustable green pea risotto. The Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Melted Mozzarella were ambrosial- especially with the enfolded Tomatoes  Roasted for 24 hours in Balsamic Vinegar, fennel seeds and just the right touch of chili flakes. Basil buys mozzarella curd and stretches it on location, enhancing the flavor that much more.  The Saffron Risotto with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, was quite aromatic. The forest mushrooms and white asparagus were savory & toothsome, though at this point we were quite full.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin

Stiped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream

Saffron Risotto, with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan

We’ll have to come back and meet their pastry chef, Ehud Ezra; word on the street is that he is an amazing talent.  A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, he trained at Oceana in Manhattan and was Pastry Chef for several years at Whole Foods (among other prestigious establishments), before coming to Basil, we tasted his Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake served with Turkish Fig Puree and Melon. He’s there at 5:00 am preparing his croissants and other pastries, opening for breakfast service at 7:30 am. Chef Adam also treated us to a tasting of his home-made colorful Sorbet Trio and Basil Ice Cream (made from basil, you read it right!). Yummmm!

Sitting on the cusp of this Lubavitch neighborhood, Basil stands at the edge of new cuisine and ambiance territory.  The reluctant humble yet flight worthy fledgling chef and his team run a successful operation with the help of their warm friendly manager Clara Perez, whose respect and reverie for the Lubavitch community is admirable. The convergence of crossed cultures amongst their staff and the harmonious blend of clientele dining together with Basil’s good food its nucleus, is nothing short of chevlei mashiach amazing. The obstacles were many; it shouldn’t work but it does, remarkably so! Some places are just plain blessed that way.

SYR

Basil on Urbanspoon

18
May
10

What Gives a Food Critic the Right to Critique?


Granted, CS and I have a combined prandial gastronomic, collectivistic consumption spanning nearly a century (we make no admission of time exceeding that!). Coincidentally, we were both blessed with superbly critical, highly skilled, culinary genius in the kitchen – parents of Polish and Hungarian descent respectively. They tolerated nothing but brilliance and excellence from their gifted, savant, miraculous offspring of the Diaspora and post Nazi oblation – instilling in us not only superior minds and egos endowed by birth, as well as a natural hunger for all things good. Our generation was brought up with the assumption that somehow we were born with inalienable rights to judge and critique the handiwork of our peers but never our parents. Both of us share the uncanny experience of every patriarchal inquisition into our lives and all critical moments predicated with the always relevant questions: “What did they serve?”, or “What did you eat? Was it good?”

The locus of kosher restaurants we’ve marked collectively through the various stages of our lives is equally impressive. From family style restaurants, to fancy upscale dating restaurants, from cafés for momentary pondering or perusal to married dating eateries, circling back to family restaurants and some of us back to dating restaurants again… we’ve done them all! The Shabbos tables we’ve set and served along with the tables we’ve guested at – often with suffered grimaced smiles of approval conceding to our napkins the putrid memorial – or being imparadised by occasional sensational dishes provided by our hosts! The trials and tribulations of experimental dishes imposed on our loving families without dis-ownership or dis-membership is legendary.

...eating our words

CS has an impressive curriculum vitae – having written many a fine food and/or wine review for well known global publications. I, on the other hand, am more the ‘everyman’, learning through doing, acquiring new skill sets, cultivating and advancing my palate and knowledge as I go along. And now we both sit here… judging others with culinary degrees and years of mastery in the art of Kosher cooking. Yeah, maybe we’ve cultivated our palates enough to judge… certainly as well as the consumers whose attendance make or break a restaurant. Mostly, we are grateful, grateful for the abundance of excellent restaurant choices and fine cuisine that we have been privileged to find and sample. It’s competitive out there and to keep the edge, a fine dining restaurant has to be good. We want a great dining experience and customers want to feel that the money spent was well worth the investment. The mediocre don’t survive for long. There are some food reviews that we’ll never publish, nameless here forever more…

There are many great kosher restaurants yet to review and savor. We love sharing our experiences with you and hope you enjoy sharing with us here at The Kosher Scene. With z’man matan Torah upon us, we would like to wish all our readers a Chag Shavuot sameach! May this time of Torah and harvest bring cornucopian blessings of plenty into your homes and lives.

We’ve collected some great Yom Tov recipes here and here. Enjoy!

SYR

07
May
10

Mother’s Day Special!


Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, the 9nth. Why don’t you treat Mom to a nice dinner, a memorable meal, at a great restaurant?

T-Fusion Steakhouse

Make Mother’s Day a special day!

Offering a Special mother’s Day Three-Course Pre-Fixe Menu.

Complimentary mimosa’s along with a red rose for all the mom’s.

Make your Reservation today to avoid the wait!

Mother’s Day Menu

First Course

Creamy Asparagus Soup
Homemade Fresh Asparagus Soup

Minestrone Soup
Clear Broth vegetable soup with chicken & noodles

Second Course
Orange & Fennel Salad
Arugula, orange, fennel, black olives, citrus dressing

House Salad
Mesculin, tomatoes, cucumber, mushroom, red onion, balsamic vinaigrette

Third Course

Fillet Mignon
Served over sautéed spinach& garlic mashed potatoes

Chicken Francaise
Breaded, cooked with lemon & wine sauce served over rice and sautéed broccoli

Baked Salmon
Cooked with maple & glaze served over sautéed carrots and haricot verts

Dessert

Apple Struddle
Freshly baked in premises served with vanilla ice cream

Chocolate Soufflé
Baked and served hot with vanilla ice cream

Chocolate Soufflé

Fruit Plate
Assorted fresh fruit

*$55 Per Person * Tax & Gratuity not included * No Substitutions *

T Fusion Steakhouse (3223 Quentin Road, Brooklyn, NY 11234 — Telephone: 718.998.0002).

Why not treat Mom to T Fusion Steakhouse, hasn’t she more than earned it?

CS

04
May
10

Savor It!


Savor (2925 Avenue P; Brooklyn, NY 11229; Telephone: 718.338.1353), a newly opened dairy restaurant is off to a running start with a superb menu. It features Mediterranean and Asian dishes, each made in authentic, exacting manner without compromise.

A partial view...

SYR and I had the pleasure of eating here, mid-afternoon today. Lior Saiag, the Chef/owner graduated from the New York Restaurant School in 2000 and has since worked at some of the most prestigious eateries in town, under very demanding famous chefs in the city.

Savor represents sort of a coming home, where Chef Lior can provide the frum community with the exacting cuisine standards which, while de rigueur in the non-Jewish world, have not always been present in kosher restaurants. With a more sophisticated consumer, with a clientele no longer content with the standard fare of the past, Chef Lior family is bringing to Savor a rich and wholesome menu.

We started our meal with the in-house made bread and butter.

A light focaccia served on an oak board

SYR followed with Salmon Stuffed with Spinach and Feta, it comes with herbed orzo and a cherry tomato salad.

Salmon Stuffed with Spinach and Feta

The subtle blend of flavors was perfect match. While SYR, never cared for Feta cheese, combining it with with the salmon and the spinach helped her discover a savory dimension she never before experienced.

I had their Chilli Rubbed Grilled Tuna.

Chilli Rubbed Grilled Tuna

It came with buttery mashed potatoes and lemon scented steamed broccoli. The tuna tasted amazingly like a beef steak. As a potato lover, I found the mashed potatoes incredibly delicious and even the broccoli was delectable (my mother would never have imagined I could ever say such a thing about broccoli!).

A great meal at a restaurant with a very nice Mediteranean décor. The attention to detail in the presentation, in the cooking and in the appearance of the restaurant, make it quite obvious that this establishment represents a labor of love, a chef’s dream come true even as it constantly evolves.

CS

Savor on Urbanspoon

29
Apr
10

Cooking with Lévana – Part 4 – Recipes!


Lévana has again allowed us to share 2 recipes with our readers.

Zucchini and Fennel Soup

Hot, creamy, delicious!

1/3 cup olive oil
4 large leeks, sliced
8 cloves garlic
6 ribs celery, peeled
Heads and leaves of 3 large fennel bulbs (save some leaves for garnish)
3 large yellow zucchini, cut in large chunks
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 tablespoon anise or fennel seeds
2 quarts water
2 cups dry white wine
Salt to taste
4 cups milk or non-dairy milk
Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a wide heavy pot. In a food processor, coarsely grind the leeks, garlic and celery. Add to the skillet and sauté until translucent. Add all but the last 2 ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cook, covered 30 minutes. Add the milk and pepper and bring to just below boiling point. Cream the soup with an immersion blender. Adjust the texture and seasonings. Serve hot or chilled, topped with fennel leaves or you may sprinkle some celery over the soup.

Chicken Breasts with Artichokes and Carrots

Butterfly thinning the chicken cutlets

First the layer of chicken...

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, choped
8 chicken cutlets, pounded medium thin, thoroughly dry
Flour
2 good pinches saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 cups water
Ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup good quality sliced pitted olives
6 very thin carrots, cut into inch sections
1 pound artichoke hearts (whole) or bottoms (quartered)
1/3 cup lemon juice

...and then all the ingredients.

Heat the oil in a very large skillet. Add the onion and sauté 2-3 minutes. Roll the cutlets in flour, shaking out excess. Add to the skillet and sauté 2-3 minutes on each side. Add all but last ingredient and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook covered 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook another 2 minutes. Serve hot. Room temperature OK.

Enjoy!!

CS

RELATED POSTS

Cooking with Lévana – Part 3 – The Rush of the Rustic

Cooking with Lévana – Part 2 – Recipes!

Cooking with Lévana – Part 1

Lévana’s Recipe

22
Apr
10

Cooking with Lévana – Part 2 – Recipes!


As we promised, here are 2 recipes Lévana has graciously allowed us to share with our readers.

Minted Lamb Kebobs

Ingredients

1 medium onion, quatered
4 large cloves garlic
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, including stems
1 bunch mint, leaves only
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
Good pinch cayenne, or more, to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 pounds extra lean ground beef, or extra lean ground lamb, or a combination.

Directions

Prepare the grill or preheat the broiler. Finely grind the onion, garlic, parsley and a mint in a food processor (pulse: do not let mixture get watery). Transfer to a bowl and add the cumin, paprika, cayenne, pepper and beef.

Form logs about 1″ in diameter and about 4″ long. Thread on wet wooden skewers. or on metal skewers. Broil 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve hot. Serve 2 to 3 skewers per guest.

Makrod: Semolina Date Pastries

I have always rather neglected this wonderful treat, as the traditional preparation requires frying, my nemesis: I don’t think I have more than a handful of fried dishes in my whole repertoire. But I tweaked the recipe to do my bidding as a baked, not fried, treat, and the result is scrumptious! I have streamlined it further by shaping it as bars. Sephardi flavors at their best! Gluten-free: Use GF flour and GF semolina.

Preparing the Makrod

Preparing Makrod

Ingredients

Dough

3 eggs
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
2 cups farina or semolina
1 tablespoon baking powder
A little water as needed

Filling:

1 pound pitted chopped dates
1 1/2 cups very hot water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
Peel of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons orange flower water

Topping:

1 1/2 cups honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dough ingredients thoroughly, and knead it on a board for just a minute or two, adding a little water if necessary to obtain a smooth dough. Set aside.

Process all the filling ingredients in a food processor, using the pulse button to avoid splattering, until smooth. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll each piece into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick, about 11 inches wide and 14 inches long. Transfer onto a well-greased cookie sheet with straight sides (don’t worry if it doesn’t cover the whole surface). Cover the dough evenly with the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough, and place gently over the filling (it’s OK if it breaks, just patch it). Bake about 40 minutes, or a little longer, until golden. Immediately pour the honey evenly over the whole pastry. Let it cool, then cut it in bars or squares.

–)xoOox(–

This coming Monday, April the 26th, Lévana’s “Dinner and a Show” at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan (200 Amsterdam Ave – at 69th Street – New York, NY 10023) will be: Seasonal Spring Bounty. As she describes it:

Winter is over and wonderful vibrant food colors and fragrances are upon us in every food display: cheer up and enjoy them while they last! Life would be more meaningful to all of us if we respected the seasons more, with the specific gift each season has to offer! This menu is 100% gluten-free, naturally and effortlessly!

I will be demonstrating:

  • Lemon chicken breasts with artichoke and carrot
  • Zucchini and fennel soup
  • Haricots verts, roasted peppers and heirloom tomato salad with grey salt
  • Herbed yukon fingerlings
  • Plum granola tart
  • Click here to register and view other upcoming classes

    Remember to mention The Kosher Scene and you’ll get a discount.

    Lévana with some of the class regulars, flanked by members of her staff

    SYR and I will be there, hope you will too. You won’t regret it!

    CS

    20
    Apr
    10

    Cooking with Lévana – Part 1


    Every Monday evening at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan (200 Amsterdam Ave – at 69th Street – New York, NY 10023), Lévana Kirschenbaum holds a cooking class, dubbed by most as “Dinner and a Show.” CS and I were privileged to attend last night’s special Yom Haatzmaut demo: Beyond Milk & Honey: Israeli Street Foods.

    The menu for the evening was: Spicy Bean Soup, Chraimi Fish, Minted Lamb Kebobs, Spicy Eggplant Salad, Hummus-Tehina, Israeli Salad, and Makrod (a semolina/date pastry); all made and served up, to 25 people, in the space of two and a half hours. Experiencing Lévana’s cooking class means experiencing Lévana.  One doesn’t need to ask her about her particular philosophy of good cooking; the woman walks the talk of it!

    While preparing the Spicy Bean Soup made with large lima beans, cilantro and cayenne pepper (which on principle sounded unappealing to me; wooow, was I in for a surprise!!), someone asked about the pot she was using, and someone else mentioned the use of garlic powder. Lévana recommended 18-10 stainless steel pots and pans, stating that her pot was made in China, quipping “there’s no room for politics in cooking!” Regarding garlic, she told us about someone who asked if they ran out of garlic powder could they use real garlic? ” Never settle for powder when you can get the real thing”, she replied, as she whacked a clove using the edge of her palm against the flat of her knife, demonstrating how easy it was to prepare a clove. “When should one look for a substitute?  Only when the real ingredient is unavailable. You can find garlic anytime anywhere  in the world. We’ve got so many choices, garlic in oil, minced, bottled, etc. Just because something is there doesn’t mean it’s good…..ersatz (artificial or inferior substitute or imitation) is so plentiful in so many forms, we think the imitation is real!”

    Hot, steamy, aromatic!

    Truth be told, the rich aromatic scent of  fresh herbs on her cooking table awaiting deployment, enhanced every dish Lévana prepared. Her use of market fresh healthy ingredients along with her quick prep techniques, easy humor, mastery of her trade and generous spirit of sharing her knowledge with others, made the evening delightful. Preparing the eggplants for grilling, she opted to lightly spray the eggplant slices top and bottom with oil . “Remember you’re the boss. Don’t let the eggplants boss you around. Don’t be afraid of them.”  Yet, she insisted on a full half cup of oil for the soup. “If there’s no oil, there’s no emulsion.”  Considering, however, that the pot yielded 25 decent sized portions, that was a very small amount of oil. A true creative chemist in the kitchen, Lévana cooks her magical eupeptic dishes mixing  wit, instincts, ingenuity,  inventiveness, along with her many years of experience. It’s almost like the ingredients bend to her will, bringing out their tastiest characteristics to serve the Queen of masterful combinations.  The soup by the way was incredible. The combined ingredients illuminated by the addition of home made pickled lemon, lit my palate with its explosion of  fresh tangy tastes, The lima beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and fresh garlic all combined for a delicious harmony of flavors.

    We can’t cover all of the dishes in the space of this post, but here are few further highlights. Lévana included some standard and not so standard ingredients for her Israeli Salad, creatively using the pulse feature of her food processor as a  time saver -  combining the celery, cucumbers, scallions, radishes and parsley; she hand chopped the tomatoes and lettuces, one could never tell in the finished product that any short cuts were taken.

    Preparing the sauce for the Chraimi fish

    Cooking the sauce with two layers of fish on top.

    I’m not a big fish lover, but that Chraimi Fish was savory delicious.One of the regular attendees told us she loves it so much that she makes a fresh batch every week… CS, a carnivore to the core, will tell you that as far he is concerned, the Minted Lamb Kebob (recipe to follow) was the evening’s real pièce de résistance. The exotic flavoring of the extra lean ground lamb was delicious and went perfectly with the Sliced Grilled Eggplant. The Chummus was nothing short of spectacular. Write us if you want Lévana’s recipe.

    Sliced grilled eggplant

    Levana describes herself as a a reverse chic kind of a person.  Her food is earthy and terrific, prepared simply- as low tech as possible.  But the woman herself is an articulate worldly person, well informed,  generous and a techie twitterer to boot.  Her days are filled with cooking for others and countless good deeds, so we heard from her devoted groupies.  They are a  tight loving group who acquired a love of cooking through experiencing Lévana’s warmth, good humor, talented free-reign creative fun cooking style and healing psychology delivered through the medium of food. Group regulars find the class absolutely addictive, having missed important meetings to be there each and every week.  It’s their fun night out, as they learn that cooking can indeed be a fun experience and not a drudgery. Many feel more empowered in the kitchen and love Lévana’s uncomplicated style and generous funny nature.  They’ve all learned to cook healthier recipes (with faster prep!) packed with fresh healthy ingredients, eager to replicate the recipes at home and experiment with variations.

    All in all it was a fun evening spent with a really nice group of people. Considering the upcoming courses, we will certainly be back for sure …you know, she is kind of addictive…

    SYR

    RELATED POSTS

    Lévana’s Recipe




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