Archive for the 'Jewish food' Category

28
Sep
11

Some Thoughts for Rosh Hashana


Rosh Hashana starts this evening, and as I look at the news, as I tremble over my personal flaws, shortcomings and misdeeds of the past year I can only hope that my repentance will hold and shield me from repeating the same things, from having the same thoughts again, and that the world will change for the better starting with each one of us…

On September 29th, 2008, I posted the following on my political blog:

The world is embroiled in war, tyrants walk around arrogant and defiant, massacres in almost every continent are mostly ignored by the world community. The UN Human Rights Council, seems to concern itself with anything except the trampling of human rights around the globe. Women’s rights are of little concern to a world that prides itself of its extreme liberalness and unheard of freedoms, while rape is used as a political weapon in the Congo, in Sudan, etc… and women are merely chattel to husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in a major portion of this planet. To say the least, it is obvious that in spite of an enlightened 21st century we have never really evolved from the atrocities of the Barbarian Age even as our weapons and rhetoric are more sophisticated, more intellectual, ostensibly more enlightened in our attitudes

While the situation in Sudan has changed for the better, while the Arab Spring has brought about the downfall of various Arab despots, the aftermath has so far not seen any of the sought after freedoms but merely replaced old dictators with a new set… Yet, the UN Human Rights Council has not found the time to condemn repression, the denial of human rights, or to defend freedom of religion anywhere where it may be ignored in the world…

Frankly, the world – at this moment – with all its freedoms and all its horrors is far from ideal. Political ideologies, masquerading as religion, pose new threats to the free world as they aim to destroy all the hard fought for rights and freedoms of the Western world. Meanwhile the West seems to have lost its soul and wonders around like a drunkard in its search for meaning, coexistence and peace…

Tonight, gentle reader, Jews around the world begin the celebration of Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year. No, it is not a time filled with drunken parties and silly noise-making but rather a time when one searches in the most recondite crevices, the most hidden places of one’s existence and asks oneself why, how, when, what? Why did I fail to do all that I set out to do? How could I be so lazy, so complacent and not try harder… or at least just try? When will I rise from this lethargy and do my duty as a human, to my Lord, to my fellow humans, to myself? What will it take for me to wake up, while I still am capable of waking up?

The answers are often shameful, sometimes gut wrenching. Nevertheless they afford every Jew a chance to reach out of his/her comfortable shell and do that which he or she is capable of doing, of reaching one’s potential if the individual truly wants it. But sometimes, even if in our prayers we take firm resolve to make a difference, even when the tears of repentance stream from the deepest recesses of the heart, in a few days we settle back in the comfort of emptiness and inaction. More often than not, the answers are too hard, too strenuous on our pampered selves, for us to truly rise above the comfort of merely being discomforted by the world around us or take any action to change it.

In the Rosh Hashama prayers, there is one I must particularly single out as I pronounce it with heavy trepidation in my heart as the clarion call of the Shofar is sounded:

Attah ZocherYou remember – the deeds done in the Universe and You recall all the creatures fashioned since the earliest times. Before You all hidden things are revealed and the multitude of mysteries since the beginning of Creation, for there is no forgetfulness before Your Throne of Glory and nothing is hidden before Your eyes. You remember everything ever done and not a single creature is hidden from you. Everything is revealed and known before You, Lord our God, Who keeps watch and sees to the very end of all generations, when You bring about a decreed time of remembrance for every spirit and soul to be recalled, for abundant deeds and a multitude of creatures withoutt limit to be remembered….

[...] Regarding countries, it is said on this day which is destined for the sword and which for peace, which for hunger and which for abundance; and creatures are recalled on it to remember them for life or death. Who is not recalled on this day? For the remembrance of everything fashioned comes before You: everyone’s deed and mission, the accomplishments of man’s activity, man’s thoughts and schemes, and the motives behind man’s deeds.

May this coming year, 5769 in the Jewish calendar, bring about that very elusive, very prayed for, long hoped for, universally expected peace. May each one of us walking this earth, know no more strife, no more hunger, no more pain. KTIVAH VECHATIMA TOVAH – MAY [WE ALL] BE INSCRIBED AND SEALED FOR GOODNESS, may abundance and health break rampant, may universal peace bathe this earth and the realization of one’s fondest dreams bring sweetness and the total banishment of sorrow to every one on this lowly plane of existence.

Chicken Marinated with pomegranate molasses, honey and spices, stuffed with brown rice, on a bed of rice. Photo from: Los Angeles Times

The year is now 5772 and hardly anything of substance has changed, tramplers of human rights are afforded what once an honored pulpit at the United Nations, a place where they freely spew their lies, where they proudly show off the perversion of their minds, their utter disregard for any human values and yet are applauded for such. The United Nations, founded on the noble principles of safeguarding human rights and ensuring peace around the world, has degenerated into what Bibi Netanyahu just described as “theater of the absurd,” as it shows itself totally unwilling, totally unable to live up to its mandate.

Hakadosh baruch Hu is warning us, urging us to return to Him and yet in spite of the warnings, in spite of all the evidence in front of our eyes, we refuse to heed the call, as we’ve been seduced by a seemingly liberal world plunging head on into a global tyranny where lies are the new truth, where falsehoods replace true values… May it be His will, that we wake up this coming year and with renewed vigor we embark in an era filled with goodness and wholesome values, an era where evil will be defeated and war will disappear…

May we all be inscribed in the Sefer Hachaim – the Book of Life and may we only know health, prosperity and happiness and at peace within and without.

KTIVA VECHATIMA TOVA!!!!

CS

15
Jun
11

Perfect Jewish


Published by Parragon Publishing, UK; 2008

From the dust cover:

The unique flavors of Jewish Regional cooking are brought to life in this fascinating new cookbook. It features an enticing range of 120 recipes from Jewish communities all around the world.

Perfect Jewish is a delightful cookbook by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen features both Ashkenazic and Sephardic dishes divided into 5 sections:

  • Soups, aalads & appetizers
  • Main dishes
  • Light dishes and accompaniments
  • Desserts, cakes & cookies
  • Breads & pastries
The featured recipes cover Central, Eastern Europe and Russia, Spain, Portugal, the Middle East and North Africa. The selections and the beautiful photos paint a rich picture of our culture adapting itself to the various regions around the world that were graced with a Jewish presence.
The easy to follow, detailed recipes, and the mouth watering photos make this a must have book for every kitchen. It was hard to choose just one recipe out the many succulent selections but I finally decided upon something uniquely American, so we adapted (the original deli recipe calls for Gruyere cheese) the following from the book:

Detail from photo on page 142...

The Reubens Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp margarine softened
  • 4 slices “deli” rye bread
  • 4 – 6 oz cooked roast beef, or corned beef, or pastrami, [or a combination of any of these] thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sauerkraut, well drained
  • vegetable oil or margarine for frying
  • Pickled cucumbers to serve [yes, there is recipe for these on page 41, if you are truly ambitious!]
Thousand Island Dressing
  • 1 cup bottled or home made mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup or chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp seeded and finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped pimento
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped sweet and sour pickled cucumber
Following the great emigration of the 1880s, by the 1920s more than 2 million Jews were working in sweatshops. They bought kosher foods from Jewish neighbors and a great Jewish-American institution, the Jewish deli, was born. It served some fantastic sandwiches.
  1. Dressing: Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Store, refrigerated, in an air tight container for up to one week.
  2. Spread margarine on to one side of each bread slice. Lay margarine- side down. Spread the center with 1 tbsp each of the dressing.
  3. Divide the roast beef between 2 bread slices tucking in the slices to fit. Divide the sauerkraut and make an even layer over the roast beef. Top with the remaining bread slices, margarine side out, and press firmly to compress the layers.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet or ridged griddle pan over medium-high heat. Carefully slide the sandwiches into the pan. Press down on on the tops of the sandwiches. Cook for 3 minutes or until the undersides are crisp and golden.
  5. Carefully turn, press down again and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden and the beef is hot. Transfer to a cutting board Cut in half and serve with pickles.
Serves 2
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
CS
24
Apr
11

Rolled Chicken


For the first part of Pessach I was in Lakewood, NJ, where three of my children and their families reside. During a break between mincha and maariv on the second evening, the learned discussion somehow veered to foods of our youth, dishes no longer served, since today they would rightfully be considered as “a heart attack on a plate” as my friend put it. We spoke of gribenes, three inch thick matzoh kugel, matzebrei made with oodles of eggs and quite a few more dishes of yore. Oyyy… they were truly delicious. What made them so, what delivered their heavenly aroma was chicken fat!

Gribenes were made by deep frying pieces of chicken skin in chicken fat… Yeap, I can see most of my readers recoiling in horror at the mere thought. Don’t worry, gentle reader, I haven’t touched these in quite a few decades nor do I advocate a return to them. But, I do wonder why – now that we consume far healthier fare – why is it that the percentage of obesity is far higher and the average age for passing on to the next plane has not significantly changed since I was a kid?

Perhaps the reason we were not adversely affected by these killer foods was because I remember the family always going for a walk after a meal, in fact we used to walk a lot. When I grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay, elementary school was a mere two blocks away. After lunch, I’d walk 8 blocks to Yeshivas Machzikey Hada’as. When old enough for secondary, five or six of us from the same neighborhood would walk sixteen blocks each way to Liceo Hector Miranda and after lunch we’d walk another 10 blocks to the mesivtah. Only if it rained did we get a ride.

By the time were getting ready to move to the US, Montevideo got its first school that combined limudei kodesh and secular subjects, it went from kindergarten through secondary. The school’s name, showed the Zionist agenda of its founders. It was called, Escuela Dr. Teodor Herzl… I think, gentle reader, you’ll agree with me that such a name for a purportedly frum school just wouldn’t do today, not in the US! But I digress…

Getting back to food, both my daughters are excellent cooks as are my three daughters in law. Just thinking of some of the dishes I’ve enjoyed during the years makes my mouth water. Yes, the fare they serve is far healthier than what I remember growing up with. I was headquartered at my oldest son’s house, where I enjoyed both sedorim, the plethora of delicious dishes and the aromas wafting from the kitchen into the rest of the house was enough to make even the most satiated person hungry for more. Below, is the recipe for one of my daughter in law’s delicacies:

Rolled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken cutlets
  • 1 1/2 cup Duck Sauce
  • 8 large potatoes

Filling

  • 6 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Pound the cutlets until they double in size, cut each in half. Set aside
  2. Peel the the 5 potatoes, boil them and cut in the lenght and cut them again (sideways) for a total of 8 to 10 pieces each. Set aside.
  3. Boil and mash the 6 potatoes for the filling
  4. Sautee the onions in oil.
  5. Beat the egg whites until stiff
  6. Add the egg yolks and sauteed onions to the mashed potatoes.
  7. Fold in the whites.
  8. Add potato starch, parsley flakes, paprika, salt and pepper.
  9. Put some of the potato mixture on each of the cutlets and roll them.
  10. Put the rolled cutlets on two tin pans.
  11. Pour the Duck Sauce over each cutlet.
  12. Take the cut up potatoes and cover any empty space.
  13. Put in preheated 350 F oven, for 1 hour.
Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!
CS
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




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