Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, is a day of repentance, prayer, forgiveness…and fasting. So this would be a really short story if not for the fact that all good fasts must come to an end, and indeed they do in the lovely tradition called Break-the-Fast.
Dede and Ed Ginter have been hosting a Break-the-Fast at their Fullerton home for the past 35 years. “We have mostly the same people every year,” said Dede, “and we stagger the meal, because different temples get out at different hours."
“But we do have some turnover from year to year,” Ed pointed out. “Whenever we hear of somebody with no place to go, we invite them. Sometimes they are students, or my granddaughter will have a friend who likes to eat, so we say, ‘Bring her along!’”
After a day of praying and fasting, the meal, as in most homes, is dairy. “We have lots of fruit, lox and bagels, a kugel (noodle pudding), poached salmon, a variety of sweets, and my kids’ favorite, cheese blintz soufflé,” said Dede. ”It’s an old recipe and really nice, because you can prepare it before you go to temple. Then when you get home, you bring it to room temperature, and 40 minutes before your guests arrive, you just pop it in the oven, and it puffs up beautifully.”
Dede makes two kugels to please all. “My grandkids don’t like raisins, so I make one with and one
It’s resolution time again! According to USA.gov, the most popular New Year’s resolution is (drum roll please) lose weight! What a surprise.
If, like me, you make this same resolution every year, two new books may turn things around, and then maybe next year we can all resolve to reduce carbon emissions and promote world peace.
In The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love & Still Lose Weight (DK, $17.95) TV and radio personality Linda Gassenheimer says the key to losing weight and keeping it off may lie in the palm of your hand. Love that burger? A healthy portion is palm sized. Your baked potato should be the size of your fist. And you don’t have to give up French fries if you eat what will fit in two cupped hands (about 20).
“The portions of foods we are eating have ballooned,” writes Gassenheimer. “Restaurants serve extra-large amounts of food, yet we still clean our plates, just as we were told to do when we were children.” This “portion distortion” has completely perverted our sense of normalcy.
Take the bagel, for instance. “Originally the size of a hockey puck, bagels now have the circumference of a CD,” she says. Stick to a palm-size portion and use reduced-fat cream cheese and save 382 calories.
Seeing is believing, and “The Portion Plan” offers dozens of life-size food photos of ideal and not-so-ideal portions of common foods so we can make wise food choices. And learning to distinguish between what Gassenheimer calls “the good, the bad, and the ugly” (choices to savor, choices to watch and choices to avoid) will assure we’re not only losing weight, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well.
The book also includes a seven-day eating plan with recipes, an eating-out guide and oodles of tips for delicious alternatives to calorie-laden foods.
Remember the movie “If It’s Tuesday This Must Be Belgium”? That was my life for the past few weeks when my book tour brought me to South Florida where I had 13 gigs in 11 days.
The highlight was my cooking demonstration at the KitchenAid Culinary Center at Robb & Stucky Patio, a chichi furniture store in Palm Beach Gardens offering cooking classes in its fully stocked, state-of-the-art professional kitchen.
The event was sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, and here are the four dishes I taught that evening – Layered Hummus and Eggplant Appetizer, Yemenite Haroset Truffles, Malaysian Latkes and a flourless chocolate cake we call Too Good to Call Passover Cake Bete Noire.
But enough about me!
The Center’s Chef Christian Mailloux, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, generously turned his kitchen over to me for the night, but more importantly, his services as sous-chef!
“I’ve been interested in cooking since I was a child, watching my mom and dad,” Mailloux told me as he chopped my onions in preparation for the class.
Mailloux’s grandparents and great-grandmother were from the Azores, and he grew up with the Portuguese cuisine of his mother’s family and the French of his father’s.
“There was always some sort of French-Portuguese dish floating around,” he recalled, “veal braised in tomato sauce, Portuguese sweet bread, cured olives. My brother and I would run around the house with an olive on every finger.”
When I think back to my grandmother’s cooking, nothing green comes to mind. Beets, carrots, onions, radishes – those familiar vegetables of Eastern Europe graced her table in America as well. When I asked my mother if she could remember eating any vegetables when she was growing up, she said, “Sure. We had potatoes.”
Oh, I suppose you could say my grandmother had a Victory garden – if you can call winning the war against aphids a victory. She grew roses, not vegetables! Which is not to say she wasn’t fiercely patriotic. For my grandparents, proud to be American citizens, Election Day was a major event, requiring hours of preparation and wardrobe consultation. But my grandmother contributed to the war effort by rolling miles of bandages for the Red Cross, not by harvesting broccoli.
By the 1950s, when I was growing up, the Jolly Green Giant had cut a mighty swath across the land and convenience was in. My generation, however, remembers vegetables as a toll to be paid for crossing the bridge to the treasure on the other side, as in “Eat your vegetables and you can have dessert.” Or so I’m told. No one had to coax us to eat anything in our house.
Ahead of her time, my mother actually steamed a veggie or two. For company she’d present a gorgeous display: a whole head of cauliflower surrounded by bursts of red, green, and orange. But in truth, she did it more for presentation than nutrition. And as for the vegetables she served for family dinners, I suspect she was more concerned about filling us up low-calorically than she was about our vitamin consumption.
Fireworks! Parades! Barbecues! Flag-waving! It’s our nation’s birthday, and celebrating the Fourth of July with any of the above is as American as apple pie. But is our beloved classic dessert really American, I wonder?
There were no apples in the New World until the early European explorers brought the seeds
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Passover's coming - we like the traditional with just enough new stuff to keep it interesting. Try Shiitake Mushroom Matzoh Balls for a new twist on an old favorite.
Both my daughters-in-law never liked matzoh balls until I came up with this one. I doctored up plain old matzoh ball mix – and a fine product it is! – with shiitake mushrooms and scallions for a shtetl favorite with an Asian twist. (Not surprising. Jews have had a long love affair with Chinese food!) Go ahead and double or even triple the recipe (and you may have to!), but be careful not to crowd the pot when you are cooking them. For the recipe click here.
Happy Easter to our Christian friends!
What is your most indispensable ingredient, whether you’re preparing an elegant company repast or a humble weekday family dinner? The onion, of course!
“A good onion is always worth the tears,” said Linda Griffith, who with husband Fred wrote “Onions, Onions, Onions: Delicious Recipes for the World’s Favorite Secret Ingredient” (Chapters Publishing, $14.95).
This James Beard award-winning cookbook tells you everything you ever wanted to know and then some about onions in all its colors and forms – from Spanish to Pearl to Walla Walla – and its cousins in the allium family: leeks, ramps, scallions, chives, shallots and garlic. Try cooking without them – I dare you!
As much fun to read as to cook from, this passionate book is filled with onion lore from the tombs of Egyptian mummies – “[Onions] were placed in the thorax or pelvis, or in the ear or near the eyes, perhaps because they were believed to improve breathing” – to the use of onions in language – Yiddish curse: “ You should grow like an onion with your head in the dirt and your feet in the air!”
Mouth-watering recipes ensure that this cookbook will soon become splatter stained: Chive Crêpes with Smoked Salmon; Alsatian Onion Quiche; Chicken Liver Pâté with Applejack, Scallions and Chives; Crisp-Roasted Duck with Leek and Orange Stuffing.
For your Easter feast, try Potatoes and Onions, Alsatian-Style, a rich and creamy casserole that the Griffiths claim is “not for the faint of heart”!
“It gets its inspiration from a traditional potato and Muenster cheese combination that we first encountered in the dining room of a tiny inn high in the Vosges Mountains in Alsace,” they write. You can substitute Pont l’Évêque or Port Salut for the Alsatian Muenster or even Monterey Jack.
Pastor Paul Wirth of a Tampa area church made headlines last week – I swear I’m not making this up! – when he challenged married couples in his congregation to have sex for 30 days in a row as a reaction to the nation's 50-percent divorce rate. (Unmarried couples were encouraged to abstain.)
Note that this pronouncement came after Valentine’s Day and not before, causing me to ponder – why is only one day a year set aside for showing love? A new cookbook proves the old maxim: A couple that cooks together stays together. Okay, that’s not the maxim, but you get the idea.
Meredith Phillips, best known for her starring role in ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” has compiled her favorite couple-friendly recipes in “The Date Night Cookbook: Romantic Recipes for the Busy Couple” (Terrace Publishing, $29.95).
Lamb Vindaloo, Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne, Buffalo Chicken Satay, Rosemary-Orange Cream Brûlée. Think these dishes are only for “company”? Read on.
“Food is about nourishing people, but cooking together is about nourishing your relationship,” she writes. “People today seem so much busier than they were in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. It’s hard to make time to cook a meal at home.”
Phillips, a classically trained chef, met her live-in boyfriend Fritz in cooking school. Drawn together by their love of food and cooking, they make one day a week date night, but with a twist. On this night they stay home and cook together.
“When we’re cooking we have fun, which is so important in a relationship,” she says. “Our tastes and styles intermingle, especially on date night, because it’s done together and with love.”
Molly O'Neill brings the story of my grandmother's cholent to grandparents.com. Read the story.
It has all the elements of pulp fiction biblical style: the foolish king (Ahasuerus), the spurned wife (Vashti), the wicked first minister (Haman), the brave and beautiful maiden (Esther) and her honorable protector (Mordecai). Add to the mix an assassination plot foiled and a people saved...To celebrate our deliverance, sweets are the order of the day.
To read the complete story, see OU's Shabbat Shalom.