Fresh Vanilla and Ice Cream together in ONE delicious frozen dessert
Yes, yes I know it’s winter. But ice cream just makes those hard days feel easier. So dispute the frequenting rain and extreme cold in Tel Aviv (well cold by my, and Israel standards, which in actuality means like 45F) I decided to make ice cream to cure some winter day blues. Which kind of ice cream you ask… HALVAH CHUNK ICE CREAM!
Halvah as a flavor is extremely popular and widespread in Israeli food. Along with the standard chocolate, vanilla, halvah is bound to be found in any ice creamery in Israel. Halvah flavored, halvah topping, halva chunks, or even tahini flavor with halvah pieces, halvah with seasame candy…..think of it as the Israeli version of peanut butter, and in the world of ice cream, it is just as prevalent.
I had a lot of leftover halvah from a slightly botched halvah experiment, something went wrong in the mixing process and it turned out much too crumbly. It was very tasty but not solid enough to cut and eat, I figured it would be much better put to use in a fresh batch of vanilla ice cream. So this is my representation of the halvah/ice cream combination, and I must say it was a huge hit.
I used the vanilla ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog, recipe here. I won’t put up the halvah recipe I used since it wasn’t very successful, plus you can find Marc’s version right here. Or you can use store bought if you choose.
Click to see brief instructions on how I blended the halvah into my ice cream…. and pictures! (although they aren’t the best quality.)
Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen made their public début at Off the Grid: McChoppin Hub on Saturday. They served a fantastic brunch with your choice of corned beef hash, bialy with lox, or cheese blintzes and babka as a side. Since I had my fill of cheese blintzes last weekend I went for the corned beef hash and a bialy with cream cheese. As expected, the corned beef was perfection, the bialy was chewy and full of oniony goodness, and I was ridiculously full by the end of the meal. I got there a bit early around 10am, so it was relatively quiet and my friend and I got our food super fast. By 11 the place was packed and had turned into a giant Cal-Jewish community reunion. If there is one thing you can say about the Jewish community it is that we turn up to support each other. We completely rearranged the tables in the restaurant so everyone could catch-up and at one point someone suggested that the deli be renamed Cheers. It was decided that the Wise Sons needs a permanent location soon because it is going to be an amazing hang-out and once they start serving pastrami and beer, I don’t think people will every leave. One of the best quotes of the morning was when a friend looked down at his plate of eggs, bialy and lox and said with pure joy, “I am so happy right now”. Overall it was a fantastic morning, with delicious food, great friends, and a successful start to a new venture. They will be at Off The Grid for 3 more Saturdays at 105 Valencia, so come on out to the next one!
As I have mentioned several times before, my good friends Evan and Leo are on a quest to open a Jewish deli in San Francisco. After choosing the name, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, a few weeks ago, they have been on the fast track to getting word out and bringing their delicious food to the masses in San Francisco. Since I have basically been doing it anyway, I have decided to formally chronicle their journey to becoming the premier purveyors of traditional, high quality Jewish deli in the Bay Area. Next weekend on Saturday, January 22, they will be publicly debuting their creations at Off the Grid: McCoppin Hub, and will be serving brunch at 105 Valencia inside Jackie’s Vinoteca & Cafe. They have an amazing menu planned, including lox and bialys, babka, corned beef hash (my favorite), and what may possibly be the best cheese blintzes I have ever had.
I was lucky enough to get to try the blintzes this Sunday at a rehearsal for next weekend. Their secret is using farmer cheese instead of the more familiar cottage cheese. It makes for a wonderfully smooth textured filling, and I will likely steal this tip from them for my Shavuot post in June . In keeping with their commitment to using seasonal produce, they were topped off with a dried fruit compote which made for a delightful combination of tart and sweet, that perfectly balanced with the creamy filling.
They will be serving brunch on Saturday from 9-1pm unless they run out of food before then. I am planning on heading over early to make sure I get my fill of the house-cured corned beef hash and you can expect an update of the event next week. This will be the start of a 4 week run for them at Off the Grid, with 2 Saturdays of brunch and 2 Saturdays of their to-die-for meats starting on February 5th. It was great to see them so excited and nervous for their first big event, so be sure to come out and show your support.
click for the full brunch menu
baked barley with mushrooms
Tu B’Shevat (the New Year for trees) is coming up next week and while it is a pretty minor Jewish holiday, particularly among Ashkenazi, celebrations of it seem to be becoming more common. Kabbalists in the 16th century developed a seder ritual around Tu B’Shevat and these days a lot of Jewish environmental groups host community Tu B’Shevat seders. The seder has a lot in common with the Passover seder, but the symbolic foods are typically the Seven Species of the Land of Israel (pomegranate, wheat, olives, figs, grapes, dates and barley) along with a variety of fruits and nuts… and of course 4 glasses of wine.
In addition to being holiday relevant, barley is also very healthy and super high in fiber, so it is a good addition to your menu to help you achieve any new year resolutions. Keep in mind that is also a key ingredient in the production of beer and whiskey, so it can help you break those resolutions as well.
Reuben Egg Rolls
I don’t think we have done anything quite this silly since the In-N-Out inspired Animal Style Latkes and I am fully expecting these to appear on This is Why You’re Fat sometime soon. As I was contemplating a Christmas post my thoughts turned to the sterotypical what-Jews-eat-on-Christmas, Chinese food. I knew I wanted something a little different from standard Chinese fare, that would top my trayfe on trayfe of last year. While the exact path to this absurd idea is now lost to me, after some brainstorming, I came up with the idea for reuben egg rolls, where Jewish and Chinese come together much like the Christmas itself.
Luckily, I now have a pretty consistent supply of deli products from Evan and Leo, who, by the way, after months and months of negotiations, have finally come up with a name for their deli: Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen. I am looking forward to buying something from them soon, but in the meantime I was happy to trade a burrito for the perfect amount of pastrami, pickles, and russian dressing.
Now I have a friend who freaked out at the prospect of a reuben without rye bread. In an attempt to mollify him I did try a few things like dusting the wrappers in rye flour and caraway seeds, but they didn’t stick well and ended up burning in the oil. So unless you want to make wrappers from scratch using rye flour think of these as a super tasty appetizer homage to the famous sandwich.
I’ve been doing a lot of heavy cooking with the holidays, so I figured i would do something a little easier this week. I had the good fortune to see Evan and Leo this week and they gave half a loaf of their amazing rye bread. Whenever I get decent rye my thoughts immediately turn to chicken liver and I had some in my freezer. Along with my liver, caramelized onions are always a must. As I started thinking about it caramelized onions appear frequently in Ashkenazi food, and while we have often refered to them as an ingredient we have never shown how to prepare them. Caramelizing onions radically transforms the texture, flavor and appearance of onions with minimal effort through the amazing chemistry of a slow cooking process. They become soft, sweet and full of flavor. Once you have them on hand you will find infinite uses for them. Along with chopped liver, they are amazing addition, in place of sauteed onions, to kasha varnishka, kugel, pashtida, knishes or bialys. One of my most favorite uses is to spread some goat cheese on bread and top with caramelized onions, there are few snacks quite so satisfying.
Besides being exceptionally entertaining to say, Shakshouka is a simple and homey meal. It can be found in most cafes, breakfast places, and sometimes even dedicated shakshuka spots everywhere in Israel. Equally popular as a Saturday brunch or a breakfast outdoors as a high energy meal before taking down camp. It’s usually served in it’s pan with a bread basket companion. This dish is basically a tomato sauce with eggs easy-over eggs atop. Definitely one of the best “pantry raid”, “one pot meal”, AND “leftover reviver” I’ve ever known. On those lazy nights I always remember my dad (the resident cook in my house growing up) taking stock of the fridge and somehow managing to whip up an always delicious shakshouka that left the whole family satisfied.
One of the many wonderful qualities of this dish is it’s versatility. The beauty of it, in my eyes, is the fact that you can turn out a great shakshouka just with what you have on hand. A great place to use up that extra bit of pasta sauce, the last half of the tomato paste from the can, extra veggies that managed to sneak away to the back of the drawer and aren’t looking so fresh.
In this version of shakshouka we chose it as our “brunch” on a mini picnic to the Ben Shemen forest. Easy to make, even outside, minimal prep time, and it turned out excellently on the small burner we had to cook on.
Here’s how we made it, but really, no shakshouka I’ve never managed to recreate a shakshuka.
Click to read the recipe!
I got really lucky this Hannukah when the folks over at Shmaltz Brewing sent me a couple of their Jewbelation Holiday He’Brews, the Jewbelation 14 and the Vertical Jewbelation. Now these brews have 14% and 10% alcohol, respectively, so I needed a friend to help me with the tasting so I didn’t end up on the floor. Luckily, my friend Katie is always a willing drinking partner. She also has pretty much the most goyisha children on earth, so I decided to inject a little Semitic culture into their world with some latkes and candle lighting.
Both of the brews are called ales but they are very dark, creamy and much more akin in flavor and body to a stout or porter. The Vertical Jewbelation is aged in whiskey barrels and has a very light smokey flavor. The Jewbelation 14 has 14 different kinds of hops and malts, so it was definitely a bit hoppier than the Vertical and had a malty sweetness to it. My typical go-to beer is an IPA, so these were significantly heavier and sweeter beers than I gravitate toward, but they went very well with the latkes. A couple of weeks ago I had the delightful opportunity to eat with the proprietors of Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, where they were holding a Shmaltz Brewing event and I got to taste the Lenny’s RIPA, which was a tasty rye based IPA. Along with that, I got to try Peter’s early foray into salami making at Saul’s, which I am hoping to highlight here after the holidays.
An appetizer of fried olives
It’s not kosher to boil a kid in its mother’s milk (Deuteronomy 14:21). So here’s my question, is it kosher to fry an olive in olive oil?
I was thinking of this a few weeks ago as I sat, tired and recovering from a cold and several days of travel at Palace Kitchen in Seattle where a friend had taken me and insisted that I have some olive poppers before indulging in a really remarkable hamburger. It reminded me of a different take on fried olives that I had loved at a place called Downtown in Berkeley. A week later I walked past and saw that they were gone so I decided that I would try to recreate their tasty feat for the oil drenched holiday of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah celebrates the fact that the oil on hand lasted 8 days, seven days longer than expected. As an aside it also celebrates the defeat of the Selucid Greeks at the hands of the Hasmoneon rebels (aka the Maccabees). But since their descendants had more than a few Rabbis killed our tradition concentrates on the oil.
Its the day after Thanksgiving and I am enjoying the satiety that come from too much food and drink, and in the miracle of miracles, I finally got a seat at the grown-ups’ table. I had thought it might happen, given the guest count and but I have been having Thanksgiving with the same crowd for about 25 years and had yet to graduate, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. But happen it did and it was all that I’d hoped for, but I was promptly told it was a fluke occurrence and I would be headed back to the “young adult” table next year. While today I will bask in the glory of my newly recognized adulthood, Hanukkah is just around the corner (starting Wed night) so the frying and latke making has already begun for the Heathens. I figured in honor of Thanksgiving I would carry on the pumpkin theme and make pumpkin latkes. Obviously these have a slightly different texture than traditional potato latkes, and are more pancake like. They are also slightly sweet so I would include them with my apple latkes as a great Hanukkah breakfast or dessert option.