Jews and food.
It's a rich combination reaching far beyond sustenance and seasoning.
Our recipes have lives of their own and boy do we love to tell the stories about them! Food makes us happy. (You should see the connecting line of smiles at Beth Emet when I bring the two dozen bagels from New York Bagels and Bialys to Rabbi London's Torah study on Friday mornings.)
Family recipes were made and shared last weekend at The Beth Emet Bistro. And as a testament to how seriously we Jews take our food, the recipes and the stories behind them were collected into a book. You can access the entire book here: http://www.bethemet.org/ourstories/bistro_recipes_final.pdf
Among the dishes I've listed here are:
(The ingredients and directions come first, of course; the stories, after.)
South Bend Gefilte Fish
Salmon with Sweet-Hot Mustard and Dill Glaze
Sadie’s Cheese Blintzes
Passover Green Beans
Rosh Hashonah Honey Cake
Submitted by Dawn Brent
Whole chicken cut up (or more than one, depending on number of people you are serving) Onions (1 to 2, depending on how much chicken you make) Vegetable oil (2 to 3 tbsp) Paprika (approx. 2 to 3 tbsp) Salt Pepper 1 to 2 cups sour cream (I use reduced fat Breakstone.)
Wash chicken; set aside. In a large pot, sauté onions in vegetable oil until translucent. Add chicken. Add salt and pepper as desired. Add paprika....it’s not an exact science, but you want to coat all chicken and onions. Cover pot and cook on low for an hour or until chicken is cooked through. (NOTE: Liquid will accumulate on its own, no need to add water or broth.)
Remove chicken from pot. Add sour cream. Mix into liquid until dissolved and warmed. Put chicken back in for a few minutes. Serve with wide egg noodles or spetzel.
This is a traditional Hungarian dish. While this isn’t technically a Jewish dish, it is defines who I am. My father, a Hungarian Jew, is a Holocaust survivor. He and his family were taken to Auschwitz in May of 1944. He was 15 years old. His mother, Hinda for whom I am named and his brother Peter were immediately put to death upon their arrival to the camp. My father, George, and his father, Steven, survived but were separated. Once liberated in 1945, my father learned that my grandfather survived. After another nearly two years, they were reunited in Germany. My father had nothing after the Holocaust. He had his memories of food and family, and thanks to some other family members, he was able to reclaim some photographs. This Chicken Paprikash recipe was one of the memories that he brought out of Auschwitz and passed down to me. Because he survived, my family and I are here to tell his story. Because he survived, an American Jewish woman makes Chicken Paprikash for her family and has a story to tell about it!
South Bend Fish
Submitted by Esther Schwartz-Goldman
1 Jar Gefilte Fish, 6 pcs (with juices/Jelly) 1 C. Mayonnaise (I use Light) 1 C. Matzah Meal 1 egg
3 T chopped fresh dill 1/4 cup grated carrots dash salt & pepper.
Pour Jar of Gefilte Fish AND juices or jelly in jar into a large bowl. Mash Fish with a fork until smooth. Add Mayonnaise, Matzah meal and egg and stir until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended. Pour mixture into 9X13 pan (lightly greased). Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool and cut into squares. Serve with horseradish or tartar sauce. Serves 8-12 people, or 4-6 very hungry Gefilte Fish lovers.
When I was in college at Indiana University, some Jewish students would get together and take turns hosting Shabbat dinners in our apartments. We tried to make foods like kugel, cholent and chicken soup. To make any of these traditional foods was somewhat difficult because there were no grocery stores that carried many of the ingredients needed. The closest thing was Kroger, which carried a few staple "Jewish" items year round: Chanukah candles, Matzah (which happened to be labeled "Not For Passover Use" yet remained on the shelf at Passover time), and jarred gefilte fish, which sat in a jelly that looked older than most of us. Well, one day I was assigned gefilte fish to bring to one of our meals. A friend of mine, who happened to have been Jewish and grew up in South Bend, told me about "South Bend Fish". They had a Kroger there, too, if you know what I mean. South Bend Jews adapted to this and created a kugel-like gefilte fish dish with the base being a jar of jellied fish. Over the years, I played with the recipe, changing the proportions and adding the dill and carrots. This recipe came with me when I made Aliyah, which was wonderful because the Ashkenazi tradition of gefilte fish has basically been lost in carp-less Israel. This recipe remains a mainstay at all of our family Shabbat and Chagim meals. People who swear they don't like gefilte fish end up asking for seconds, and when they find out it's made with that jelly laden jarred stuff, they make a face and THEN ask for seconds. It's easy to make and a yummy modern twist on the backbreaking loaves my bubbie's generation made. Btayavon!
Salmon with Sweet-Hot Mustard and Dill Glaze
Submitted by Suzanne Rosen Coffey
Salmon fillet, pin bones removed (size is up to you, I buy large at Costco) sweet-hot mustard (I use Inglehoffer, 4 oz. jar) fresh lemon juice fresh or dried dill.Salt Cooking spray white wine or water. Yield: depends on how many you want to feed Heat oven to 325 F.
Spray large Pyrex pan with cooking spray. Place salmon (skin side down) in baking dish. Tuck under thin tail section or other skinny parts. Combine entire jar of mustard (or amount you think you need to cover smaller portion of fish) with lemon juice and dill to taste. Finish the glaze with salt to taste.
Spoon glaze over fish and even it out carefully. Add a little white wine or water to the baking dish around the fish to keep it moist. (Do not put liquid on the fish b/c it will dilute the glaze). Place baking dish in center of oven and check on the fish’s progress periodically. The fish will cook slowly and be very tender. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of the fish. The fish will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven, so take it our just before it reaches desired doneness. The salmon can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
When my children started attending religious school at Beth Emet, we found ourselves attending a variety of potluck community dinners. The dinners were usually dairy-based and since Coffey is at the beginning of the alphabet I was always assigned the entrée course. Knowing there would be lots of pasta and cheese-based options I wanted to bring something that would complement what others brought and appeal to adults as well as children. I also wanted to make something that would taste fresh served at room temperature. So I made my Salmon with Sweet-Hot Mustard and Dill Glaze, and guess what? No leftovers. I made it again. No leftovers. And again . . . and then I lost count. So now, in addition to being one of my favorite easy Shabbat dishes (I serve it with couscous and green beans), Salmon with Sweet-Hot Mustard and Dill Glaze is now my Beth Emet Crowd-Pleasing Potluck Salmon dish (when I’m asked to bring the entrée). Enjoy!
Sadie’s Cheese Blintzes
Submitted by Kayla Cohen
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until needed: 1 lb. farmer cheese (Friendship brand, if possible) 2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese 1 egg, beaten 3 Tbsp. sugar dash salt, if desired 1/8 tsp. cinnamon or 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract, if desired
2 eggs 3/4 cup milk 1 cup flour 1/8 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. melted butter
1.Beat together eggs and milk.
2.Blend flour and salt together in a large bowl. Gradually add eggs and milk, beating with a whisk or hand blender until perfectly smooth. Stir in melted butter. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
3.Cook the crepes: Set a clean kitchen towel near the stove. Stir the batter again. Keep the batter bowl near the stove. Heat a 6- or 7-inch pan on medium heat and wipe it lightly with a paper towel greased with softened butter. Use a large spoon to pour batter into the pan. As you pour, keep tilting the pan so the batter just coats the bottom in a thin layer. Immediately pour any excess batter back into the batter bowl. When the crepe is set , its edges start to pull away from the pan, and its bottom just starts to brown (1- 2 minutes), loosen the edges with a dull knife, and then flip the pan to drop the crepe onto the towel with its browned, underside up. Continue making the crepes, wiping the pan with the buttery paper towel when necessary. Stir the batter often. Pile the crepes on a corner of the towel.
4.Fill the crepes: Place about 2 Tbsp. of filling close to the ―bottom‖ of each crepe circle, leaving a margin of about an inch. Fold the bottom of the crepe over the filling, and then fold in the sides. Finally, roll up the crepe toward the ―top‖ so the filling is completely enclosed. The uncooked side of the crepe is on the outside. Fill all the crepes.
5.Cook the blintzes: Heat a little butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Put the blintzes in the pan seam-side down to start. Then turn them carefully to brown on all sides.
Serve the warm blintzes with sour cream, sugar, and/or fruit.
My mother, Sadie, came to the US around 1918 when she was about 7 years old. Her semi- literate, Yiddish-speaking mother journeyed with her four small children from Galicia in Poland to board a ship in Liverpool. My grandfather, who was already in the US, welcomed his family at the dock in New York. He had been running a kosher dairy restaurant on the Lower East Side. My mother, being the oldest daughter, worked in the restaurant as soon as she was able, probably at age 10. She did not cook there, but carefully observed all the activities in the kitchen. As a result, she knew her way around any kitchen, and became an excellent cook.
My parents lived on the Lower East Side when I was born, but moved to a ―better neighborhood‖ in Queens when I was 2-years-old. My mother’s parents and brother remained on the Lower East Side, and she carried me on the subway to visit them at least twice a week. My mother kept a kosher home, and our dinners were usually fleischig (meat). But on Thursday nights we always had a milchig (dairy) dinner, usually the freshest fish available. As an occasional treat, she made cheese blintzes, and enlisted my help. She was eager to show me the technique involved, because she said that it couldn’t be learned from a book. She never followed a recipe, but her experience at her father’s restaurant taught her the proper texture for the batter and the right seasoning for the filling. I’ve reconstructed her method as best I can—but I don’t have her little milchig pan to toss around or our little New York kitchen to laugh in as we rolled up the plätlach (crepes) and tried to make sure that the filling and plätlach came out ―even.‖ Whenever I make them, though, I hear the echoes of my ancestor’s journey.
Shabbat Raisin Challah
Submitted by Debbie Render
6 1⁄2 - 7 cups flour 2 packages dry yeast (4 1⁄2 tsp.) 1 egg, beaten 1⁄2 cup oil 1 tablespoon salt 1⁄2 cup sugar 2 cups warm water
Dissolve yeast in water (95 – 105 degrees; it should feel hot when tested on your wrist). When dissolved, add sugar, salt and half the flour. Mix well. Add egg and oil, then slowly stir in the remaining flour. When dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, turn onto floured board and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Add only enough additional flour to make dough manageable. Knead until dough has acquired a ―life of its own.‖ It should be smooth and elastic, springing back lightly when pressed with fingertip.
Place dough in large lightly oiled bowl. Turn it over so top will be oiled as well. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in warm place for two hours, punching down in 4-5 places every 20 minutes. Separate challah. (Tear off olive-sized piece & burn in oven.) Shape loaves* and place onto cookie sheet sprayed with canola oil. Allow to rise again until doubled in bulk. (About one -45 minutes until nicely browned.
Makes two loaves. Can double recipe.
* I braid with six strands. First cross over the two outer strands, then braid with top one down, second one over, repeating until finished.
For Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, I add raisins before kneading. I make round loaves using one long strand and winding it around.
Several years ago, when our children were very young, a friend suggested we try making challah together. I had never baked bread before and was intimidated by the thought of using yeast. But she brought over a recipe for ―Best Challah‖ that she randomly picked out from one of her Jewish cookbooks, and we gave it a try. It was delicious, and I was hooked. I don’t remember exactly when baking challah moved from an occasional treat to a weekly ritual, but it’s become something I look forward to every Friday. Kneading the dough is satisfying and cathartic, and helps switch me into a calmer Shabbat-mode even before the sun begins to set. Our house fills with the delectable smell of baking bread, and our dog Malcolm starts pacing with excitement when he sees me take the loaves out of the oven. For Malcolm and the rest of our family, there’s no better way to welcome Shabbat.
Passover Green Beans
Submitted by Julie Forgash
2 1/4 lb medium red onions (about 5) 1/4 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup water 1 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Oil a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. After peeling onions, trim root ends, leaving onions whole, then quarter onions lengthwise. Put onions in baking pan, then drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing to coat. Arrange onions with a cut side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast, uncovered, turning over once and basting with pan juices twice during baking, until deep golden, about 30 minutes. Add water to pan and roast until onions are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes more. Transfer onions with pan juices to a large bowl.
While onions are roasting, cook beans in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, then add to onions and toss. Season with salt and pepper.
This recipe became a staple at my family’s Passover Seder when I convinced my mother that we needed something green on the dinner plate. She wanted everything to be sweet---sweet potatoes, honey carrots, etc. I always think the dinner plate should be a well-balanced color palate. Fortunately, my mother loved these green beans the first time I made them, and they were included every year after that.
Rosh Hashonah Honey Cake
Submitted by Jonathan Yenkin
3 eggs (large) 1 1/2 cups sugar 8 oz. honey (dark is preferable- e.g. Buckwheat) 2 3/4 cups flour (sifted) 2 tsps. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda 1 cup strong coffee 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. nutmeg 2 tsps. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. ginger 1/2 tsp. ground cloves 1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice anise for sprinkling.
Yield: Makes 8 servings active time: 15 min total time: 1 hr.
Mix all wet ingredients together first, then in another bowl mix all dry, then mix into the wet while beating. Pour into greased baking pan, lined with wax paper—sprinkle with anise. Bake 350---40 minutes /or until done. Test with toothpick to see if baked in center.
P.S. Using fresh spices gives the cake a little extra zing!
This recipe comes from my Mom back in Ohio, and it’s a family favorite. After my siblings and I moved from home, my Mom would send us cakes in the mail each year, which was always a treat! I eventually got the recipe from her, and we’ve carried on the tradition with our Rosh Hashanah celebration. Every year, we host a Rosh Hashanah dinner with a group of long-time friends, and we look forward to capping off the meal with a piece (or two, or three) of honey cake. This recipe even received special mention in a local news broadcast when a TV station came to our house to do a story about preparing for the Jewish new year.
Thanks so much for posting these. Indeed, we had a wonderful time sharing these recipes at the Beth Emet Bistro. Fascinating too how a little taste or just even a scent of the familiar can take us back so fully on those meaning moments in our lives.
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