Author Archive for Chaim Szmidt



18
Dec
14

Gill Marks – Ponchkes, Bolas, Bumuelos, Buñuelos, Sufganyot, Doughnuts – A History


I arrived in Richmond, VA, (from Uruguay) in 1962 as a teenager. Every Shabbos and yom tov we would davven at the same shul as the Marks family. One of their kids was a very serious young man by the name of Gil, yes, that same Gil who left us on Friday, December 5 (Yud Gimmel Kislev) past. I interviewed Gil Marks (alav haShalom) a few times over the years, and it wasn’t until the second time I had him on my show that we recognized each other. Gil was an incredible researcher, historian, a good friend and a best selling author of 5 books including James Beard Award Winner Olive Trees and Honey (A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World) and his much praised, much applauded, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Shortly before Gil Marks‘ untimely demise, at 62, he corrected the galleys of his 6th book. I hope we will see it published soon.

Following is a video in which I interviewed Gil at the Kosher Food and Wine Extravaganza 2012:

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As we are now in the third day of Chanukkah, I felt it appropriate to check out his Encyclopedia of Jewish Food on the subject of sufganyot. Why? Because no one else has ever been so thorough in describing our traditional foods and their origins as Gil Marks.

From pages 256-257

[..]Fried foods became a Hanukkah tradition in recognition of the miracle of oil. Sephardim and Mizrachim typically prepare various fried pastries or doughnouts (bimuelos or lokmas). In many Sephardic communities, members of wealthier families bring trays of sweets to less fortunate ones. In Morocco and Egypt these trays include zangula, deep fried batter poured into hot oil in a thin spiral, similar to Amish funnel cakes, and coated with a combination of either cinnamon and sugar or honey. [..]Turkish families serve a dessert similar to a doughnut called burmuelos. [..]Italians make fritelle, deep-fried diamond shaped pieces of dough that are dipped in honey.

[..]Ashkenazim fry latkes (“pancakes,” levivot in modern Hebrew), blintzes and doughnuts.  [..]In the twentieth century, the Polish jelly doughnut ponchik made its way to Israel, taking on the name sufganyot, and subsequently emerged as the most popular Israeli Hanukah food, sold throughout the eight-day festival at almost every bakery and market.

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As a kid, growing up in Uruguay, we had two types of sufganyotBolas and Buñuelos. Gil wrote, as follows, in his Encyclopedia [page 58]:

[..] The original medieval bola consisted of croquettes of yeast dough or mashed soaked bread deep-fried in oil, the round shape its Ladino name [bola=ball]. Over the centuries the simple fritters developed into an assortment of both fried and baked cakes and pastries.

Bolas, in my days, were fried balls of sweet dough sprinkled with powdered sugar which – occasionally – came with a thin layer of chocolate or dulce de leche, on top.

Buñuelos (again, during my childhood and teenage days in Uruguay) or Bimuelos (or Bumuelos, or Birmuelos), as Sephardim refer to them – Ponchkes, my Galitzianer Poilische mother (ob”m) would call them – as Chanukkah came around – would be filled with jelly, custard or (my favorite!) dulce de leche. As kids we couldn’t wait until the next year to enjoy the filled buñuelos! 

On page 51, he writes:

Bimuelos emerged as a Sephardic cultural icon. A very popular song from Israel is the Ladino “Vayehi Miketz  Burmuelos con Miel,” a parody from a woman’s point of view of the biblical tale of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Paraoh, which is read in the synagogue on the Sabbath of Hanukah: ” ‘And it at the end”; Burmuelos with honey; Pharaoh made them, and Joseph ate them, Pharaoh fell into the river and Joseph went to the bath, Pharaoh went to the cemetery, and Joseph went to the wedding.”

In Israel, I’ve enjoyed sufganyot filled with jelly. Hardly anything is more delicious than a sufganyah that is still warm…

sufganyah

As Gill Marks writes, the sufganyah has been around since the late 15th century [page 565]:

In 1485 the cookbook Kuchenmeisterei (Mastery in the Kitchen) was published in Nuremberg, Germany, and in 1532 was translated into Polish as Kichmistrzostwo. Besides serving as a resource fot postmedieval central Europeean cooking and being one of the first cookbooks to be run off Johannes Gutenberg;s revolutionary printing press, this tome contained what was then a revolutionary recipe, the first record of a jelly doughnut, “Gefülte Krapfen.” This early version consisted of a bit of jam sandwiched between two rounds of yeast bread and deep-fried… [..]Whether the anonymous author actually invented the idea or recounted a new practice, the concelpt of filling a doughnut spread around the globe.

[..]At that time, sugar was still very expensive and rare in Germany, so savory dishes were much more practical, even for the middle class. In the sixteenth century the price of sugar fell with the introduction of Caribbean sugar plantations. Soon sugar and, in turn, fruit preserves proliferated in Europe, all the more so with the introduction of sugar beet factories in the nineteenth century. Within a century of the jelly doughnut \’s initial appearance in Germany, every northern European country from Denmark to Russia had adopted the pastry, although it was still a rare treat generally associated with specific holidays. Much later, someone in Germany invented a metal syringe with which to inject jelly into already fried doughnuts , making the treat that much easier, neater and diverse. In the twentieth century, machines were developed to inject doughnuts two at a time or in mass production. [..]

Personally, I find food history and traditions fascinating, I can easily understand why Gill Marks loved that field so much. His friendliness, his encyclopedic knowledge and readiness to answer any questions, are sorely missed already…

CS

17
Dec
14

A Night of Jazz, Comedy, Truffles and Wine


UPDATE: EVENT CANCELLED!!!

On the evening of December 29th, The Kosher Scene will present A Night of Jazz, Comedy, Truffles and Wine, with proceeds to benefit the Puah Institute. The evening will feature the Sol Yaged Band, Broadway’s David Serero as Master of Ceremonies. David has made his mark as a singer and as a comedian throughout Europe and now in the US. Chef Sara Black will serve us a delightful menu featuring the queen of mushrooms… black truffles!

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The Puah Institute, experts in the world of Jewish fertility, is devoted to helping people with fertility, intimacy and genetic challenges fulfill their dreams of building a family. Puah supports thousands through counselling, education and lab supervision to prevent potential human error during fertility treatments. Puah provides couples personal counselling, free of charge, in a sensitive, caring environment al pi halacha.

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Please come Monday evening, December the 29th. Doors open at 6:00pm, the show starts at 7:00pm. Come and enjoy great music, great singing, great comedy, great food and great wines, while you help the Puah Institute in its mission to help those who wish to build a family but find themselves unable to. Make your reservations today!

Hope to see you all there,

CS and SYR

01
Dec
14

The Loft Steakhouse


Back in August, Costas Mouzuoras, my good friend and walking wine encyclopedia at Gotham Wines and Liquors, told me he “tasted the best kosher steak ever and one of the best in all of New York.” “Where?” I asked. “Some place in Brooklyn called The Loft,” he answered. This past week, I finally got around to visiting The Loft Steakhouse (1306 40th. Street, Brooklyn; NY 11218 – between 13th and 14th Avenues in Borough Park – Tel: 718.475.5600). kosher-scene-copyright-copy22

The couple at the table next to mine were true oenophiles, but the fact that the restaurant could accommodate their tastes speaks volumes.

The couple at the table next to mine were true oenophiles, but the fact that the restaurant could accommodate their tastes speaks volumes.

I started my repast with the Crispy Beef appetizer…

Crispy Beef - Looks good and tastes better

Crispy Beef – Looks good and tastes better

It consisted of slow braised beef, crisped and smothered in a fantastic, tangy ginger galze, with a vegetable saute of crimini mushrooms and sugar snap peas. It was a very worthy introduction to the dish to follow.

I continued with a medium well Delmonico Steak…

Just the way I like it!

Delmonico Steak – Just the way I like it!

A delicately seasoned, beautifully marbled steak, cooked to perfection, tender and juicy, served over superbly seasoned mashed potatoes, and topped with thin strips of caramelized onion.

I ended the meal with a Napoleon, though beautifully presented, it was not a worthy crown for this meal. It was quite good – and more than acceptable at a lesser eatery – having been completely spoiled by the two dishes that preceded it I expected a richer taste…

Beautiful and unusual

Beautiful and unusual

I washed it all down with a Rum Punch

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It was made with tropical fruit juices, nutmeg, bitters, rum and strawberry syrup perfectly complementing a superb dinner.

Temur, my waiter, was very knowledgeable and made great suggestions. Service was impeccable. Prices were not cheap, but well worth it. I’ll just have to go back again and again, to taste the rest of their menu.

CS

11
Nov
14

Kosherfeast 2014


Last evening, once again, Esti Berkowitz and Roberta Scher (unfortunately Roberta was unable to attend) hosted their annual Kosherfeast. This year it was held at the old Streit’s Matzoh factory in the Lower East Side.

We met a lot of old friends and new faces…

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Esti Berkowitz and Naomi  Stein Nachman welcoming the crowd.

Esti Berkowitz and Naomi Stein Nachman welcoming the crowd and opening the awards ceremonies.

Brent Delman, from thecheeseguy.com, purveyor of some of the most delicious cheeses from the US, Europe and Latin America…

Brent Delman and his award

Brent Delman and his award

Jeff Nathan from Abigael’s Restaurant, pioneer of kosher TV cooking shows and Estee Kafra, cookbook author…

Awaiting their awards

Awaiting their awards

Shlomo Klein (Chief Marketing Officer) and Shifra Klein (Editor-in-Chief) from Joy of Kosher magazine…

The couple behind Joy of Kosher magazine's everyday functioning.

The couple behind Joy of Kosher magazine’s everyday functioning.

Herzog Wine Cellars Winemaker extraordinaire…

Joe Hurliman

Joe Hurliman

Mindy Erreich, media person, from Prime Hospitality Group

Accepting the award for her company.

Accepting the award for her company.

Chef Sara Black

Chef Sara Black

Caterer (Asparagus Catering) and Private Chef

Cookbook author and the Pastry Chef who taught us how to bake with friends…

Elizabeth Kurtz (Gourmet Kosher Cooking), Pastry Chef Paula Shoyer, Kim Amzallag (Forwards' Advertising Manager)

Elizabeth Kurtz (Gourmet Kosher Cooking), Pastry Chef Paula Shoyer, Kim Amzallag (Forwards‘ Advertising Manager)

We can’t possibly put up every photo, nor can we remember every person that was there but, notable among many other attendees, were Menachem Lubinsky of Lubicom – the brain behind the annual Kosherfest, Jay Buchsbaum of Royal Wine Corporation, Alison Nathan of Abigael’s, Gloria Kobrin (Kosher by Gloria), Asher and Judith Girshberg of De La Rosa, David Mintz from Toffutti, and many, many more.

‘Twas an evening to remember!

CS

09
Nov
14

Chef Sara Black at JCC Rockland – Part 2


Last evening, under Micki Leader‘s able orchestration, JCC Rockland presented another installment of their 2014 Festival of Arts, Books and Culture. The evening opened with journalist and author Allen Salkin‘s talk about his book – From Scratch: The Uncensored History Of The Food Network – and video presentation about the Food Network. Renowned Chef Peter X. Kelley, a local restaurateur, was interviewed next by Mr. Salkin, as he recalled his TV battle with Chef Bobby Flay and his victory over him. He also introduced his smooth, exquisite Slovenia Vodka.

Chef Sara Black

Chef Sara Black

The highlight of the evening, however, was Chef Sara Black‘s cooking demo. Four participants were chosen and they cooked four recipes of the thirteen dishes that Chef Sara and a whole slew of volunteers cooked up on Friday for this motzey Shabbos presentation.

Chef Sara‘s menu for the evening included:

  • Pita Bread
  • Tomato Eggplant Salad
  • Moroccan Matbucha
  • Moroccan Spicy Salad
  • Assorted Cheese Balls
  • Spinach & Pear Salad, Feta & Toasted Pumpkin Seed
  • Green Salad with Toasts and Goat Cheese
  • Brown Rice Noodle with Chives, Carrot Strips & toasted Walnuts
Salmon Carpaccio with Olive oil and Fresh Herbs

Salmon Carpaccio with Olive Oil and Fresh Herbs

  • Stuffed Mushrooms Served with Remoulade Sauce
  • Deep Fried Avocado with Vinaigrette Sauce
  • Salmon Carpaccio with Olive oil and Fresh Herbs
  • Tuna Tartar with Wasabi Sauce
  • Baked Salmon Coated with Basil and Sea Weed
  • Grilled Antipasti
Tuna Tartar with Black and White Sesame Seeds

Tuna Tartar with Black and White Sesame Seeds in Wasabi Sauce

The last two photos were of items cooked by the four people selected to demo some recipes under Chef Sara’s direction.

Chef Sara gave out three ultra easy recipes and here are my two favorites:

Moroccan Spicy Carrot Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • harissa or hot pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Peel and slice carrots into rounds. Cook until semi soft. Shut off heat and let carrots sit for 5 minutes more.
  2. Drain carrots well… Toss with oil, garlic, paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste (add harissa/hot pepper, if you like). Serve at room temperature.
The Chef putting Chef's hats on her demo volunteers.

The Chef putting Chef’s hats on her demo volunteers.

Israeli Eggplant Caponata

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3-4 tablespoons canola oil
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley ingredients and season to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup or tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice eggplants (do not peel) into 1/4″ rounds. Sprinkle with oil. kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Bake until eggplant is translucent, about 20 minutes or so. Let cool slightly.
  4. Toss remaining ingredients and season to taste.

Delicious food, great conversation, funny videos, great company… What a beautiful evening!

CS

07
Nov
14

Levana’s Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Bread Crumbs Topping Recipe. Gluten-Free Variation


A couple of weeks ago, Chef Sara Black and I had the pleasure of dining with the famed Lévana Kirschenbaum at her apartment. She graciously agreed to let me post the recipe of my favorite dish of the the evening.

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Bread Crumbs
Gluten-Free Variation

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Pastasalad2

I love the robust flavor of  cauliflower, and the roasting intensifies it even further.  I use frozen cauliflower, as it is already cut, cleaned, and every bit as delicious and nutritious! Attention Gluten-Free readers: This is for you too!

Although this dish needs no help from the usual pasta suspects to be fantastic, feel free to jazz up this recipe some more with one of the following: Minced anchovies or sardines, capers, grated parmesan, toasted nuts. In this case make absolutely sure to include no salt in your recipes, as one of these additions will be amply enough to salt the whole dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds frozen cauliflower florets, larger pieces cut smaller
  • 6 slices bread, any kind including GF
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup basil leaves, packed
  • 1 bunch flat parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 good pinches nutmeg
  • 1 pound pasta, boiled and drained (rice noodles or other GF pasta OK), 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved
  • ¼ cup more olive oil
  • Pine nuts, for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment and spray with vegetable spray. Spread the cauliflower florets in one layer on the cookie sheet, and spray again generously with vegetable spray.
  2. Line another cookie sheet with foil or parchment. In a food processor, using the pulse button, process the bread, olive oil, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg, until you get coarse crumbs. Place them on the second cookie sheet. Place both sheets in the oven, using upper third rack for the crumbs, and lower third rack for the cauliflower. Bake about 25 minutes, check a couple times on the sheets. The crumbs might be ready first. The cauliflower should be nice and dark.
  3. In a platter, toss the pasta with the cauliflower, the reserved liquid, the crumbs and the added oil, and serve hot. Top with pine nuts.

Together with the Branzino fish entree we had next, we washed it all down with a delightful bottle of red – Ramon Cardova Rioja. Just like every time I ate Lévana‘s homeit was a meal to remember!

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

06
Nov
14

Chef Sara Black at JCC Rockland


Attention Monsey and surrounding areas! Attention Monsey and surrounding areas! Our dear friend Chef Sara Black will do a cooking demo, this motzey Shabbat – November 8th at 7:30pm, at the JCC Rockland (450 West Nyack Road in West Nyack) as part of their  2014 Festival of Arts, Books & Culture:

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Chef Sara Black will appear together with author Allen Salkin and Chef Peter X. Kelly:

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The Kosher Scene will be there to cover the evening, don’t forget to get your tickets and come over to say hello!

02
Nov
14

Cooking with Dr. Alan Broner – Fast & Easy Chili


[My good friend and dentist, Dr. Alan Broner, has graciously agreed to let me tape him and share his easy to prepare Chili dish. CS]

Fast and Easy Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 box Jack’s Gourmet Chorizo patties
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 Bell pepper diced
  • 1 can of Kidney beans (or beans of your choice)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • canola oil for sauteing

Directions

  1. Sweat the onions then the peppers in the canola oil until translucent, remove to another dish.
  2. Saute the chorizo patties as you break them apart in the pan until cooked through.
  3. Return the sauteed veggies to the pan with the chorizo.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, beans and and tomato sauce and bring up to temperature.
  5. Serve with taco chips.

One of the advantages of doing food demonstration videos is that I get to taste the results… Though there were no rare, exotic, ingredients, though everything in this recipe is a common item you’d find in almost every home, the result was a truly delicious chili!

Enjoy, gentle reader enjoy!

CS

14
Jul
14

Butterfish – New Restaurant Opening


Over the years, Sòlo has undergone a few transformations and we’ve covered them all (here, here, here and here). Now, in its newest incarnation, it will change its name to Butterfish (550 Madison Avenue; New York, NY 10022; Telephone: 212.729.1819 –  between 55th and 56th, in the atrium of the SONY building). The new restaurant will open this coming Sunday the 20th of July.

Butterfish-2

Butterfish

…will specialize in authentic new age Japanese sushi, featuring simple ingredients of exceptional quality, with fish so fresh it literally melts in your mouth like butter.  With superior fish brought in daily from Japan and local markets, Butterfish will feature an extensive selection of fish and a full line of sushi techniques never before seen in any kosher eatery, as well as full line of Japanese beer, whiskey and sake, all under the supervision of the Orthodox Union.

Butterfish1

The new Executive Chef is…

[..]Chef Hitoshi Saito, who studied sushi preparation in Osaka. His unique technique of combining cold fish with his signature warm rice, made fresh in small batches every half hour,  yields unparalleled results, winning him accolades from food critics worldwide. Enjoy reasonably priced genuine Japanese soups, salads, sushi, sashimi and chirashi and innovative delicacies including Kobe beef sushi, beef shabu shabu and chicken tempura.

We can’t wait to taste this new authentic Japanese cuisine at its finest. I can only hope that to make this new restaurant a truly perfect experience, they will bring back waiter extraordinaire, Eka Halim. 

Frankly, if Butterfish follows the same exacting standards as the other restaurants owned by The Prime Hospitality Group you know it’s got to be good!

CS

26
May
14

A Night in Paris


On June 9th, the Monday after Shavuos, The Kosher Scene will present an event at Chagall Bistro (330 5th Street – on the corner of 5th Street and 5th Avenue – Brooklyn, NY Tel: 718.832.9777). The 4 course French dinner will be paired with 8 wines (see poster below) specially selected by Costas Mouzouras of (Wine Director at Gotham Wines and Liquors - 2517 Broadway; New York, NY 10025; Telephone: 212.932.0990). The all inclusive price for this sit-down food and wine pairing – a first of its kind in the kosher world – is $195 per person. Taxes and gratuities are all included! 

* * *Please, RSVP by Sunday – June 8 – at 9:00 pm* * * 

To make your reservations, please, click on the poster below or the PayPal (Buy Now) button at the bottom of this post or on the right side bar, or call us at 646.463.0803

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The food is always an experience at Chagall Bistro (330 5th Street – on the corner of 5th Street and 5th Avenue – Brooklyn, NY Tel: 718.832.9777), when you pair each individual course with great wines it becomes an unforgettable event!

Hope to see you there!

CS and SYR




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