For those of us who can’t jetset to San Francisco to eat the famed Wise Son pickles, this easy-to-do recipe will not only provide tasty results BUT will also make you feel like a DIY superstar. The Heathens have offered a couple different variations of pickling, but I would like to add my favorite from the Ball Complete Book of Preserving. These make a fun gift (perhaps for the Purim mishloach manot you’re making in a couple weeks??)
Category Archives: Deli
I spent the better part of the last decade believing I had an intolerance to eggs. Every 6 months or so I would try them again just be be sure because I love them and regret it within an hour. Recently, I started buying the cage free organic ones at Trader Joes and low and behold my intolerance has disappeared. I am not sure if I just got over it or there was something in standard eggs that was causing the issue, but either way I have resumed eating eggs with gusto. As I have mentioned in the past my dad used to get up on Sundays to get fresh bagels and then would make a giant pan of scrambled eggs to go along with it. I have now resurrected the eggs on Sunday tradition for myself and a friend who has the tendency to hang around on Sundays. Normally I am a big fan of bacon with/in/on my eggs, but having been indoctrinated by the several weeks of Wise Sons delicatessen brunches, I decided to go deli on my eggs.
Scrambled eggs with lox, scallions and cream cheese is now a modern Jewish brunch standard. Why just throw lox and cream cheese on top of a bagel when you can serve it up all creamy with your eggs… and then put it on top of your bagel.
recipe after the break
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
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.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited over to my friends, Evan and Leo’s for a deli tasting. Moishe and Leopold as they sometimes refer to themselves are living the dream. They quit their jobs and are on the path to revitalizing Jewish deli in San Francisco, by opening a true delicatessen dedicated to high-quality meats and baked goods that are worthy of the San Francisco foodie palate . To help get their recipes down, they cooked up a storm and fed about 40 people house-made pastrami, corned beef, pickles, and coleslaw, all on fabulous rye bread. Leo made 14 loaves of rye and even threw in a chocolate chip challah toward the end of the evening. He’s turned into a master baker and showed me with great pride his rye starter that he brought with him from LA when he moved back to the bay. Evan is the meat man, and spend most of the evening slicing pastrami and corned beef, but thoughtfully smoked some shiitake mushrooms to make veggie reubens for the few vegetarians who dared to venture into the house of meat. The whole apartment has been taken over with bins of pickles fermenting, crates stacked with bags of flour and curing salts and cooling racks waiting for bread and rugelach. Evan’s roommate Robby may soon be up for an award for being the most tolerant house-mate in San Francisco, but I suppose the constant supply of food makes its easier to deal with.
Hummus is one of those things that 20 years ago most Americans would never have even heard of it but today you can find 10 different varieties of it at Trader Joe’s and at least one bowl of it at any party. Within the Jewish community there is a fascinating phenomenon that seems to become more prevalent the more common place hummus becomes: as soon as an American Jew has spent more than a day in Israel, when the come home, they develop a compulsion to pronounce hummus and pita with an Israeli accent. It comes out “hoooomus and peeeeta”. I find this infinitely annoying for some reason. Gordon is actually one of the worst offenders of this and we have gotten into stunningly long debates over it. I used to just shake my head and roll my eyes when people did it but now I find it much more amusing to pretend like I can’t understand them … “what is it you’re saying?” are you trying to say hummus and pita?”
This debate pales in comparison to the proxy that hummus has become for the entire middle east conflict, wrapped around who actually invented hummus. Additionally, the Lebanese and Israelis have been continually out doing each other to get in the Guinness Book for the biggest batch of hummus. I’m not kidding. For a great parody of this I recommend watching the short musical film “West Bank Story”, which chronicles the romance of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian girl whose families run competing falafel stands.
One thing I think everyone can agree on is that hummus is delicious and versatile. It’s a great appetizer dip when served with raw veggies or pita and its a great condiment for falafel, grilled meat or any kind of sandwich.
“It tastes like chicken”- how any times have you heard that? The implication of course is that chicken is so tasteless that any bland tasting meat (rabbit, squab, etc) could be easily substituted for it. Just take a look at the chicken sausages that populate the supermarket with their array of strong seasonings (basil garlic, Gouda apple, teriyaki). This runs counter to the principle of a good chicken soup. A good soup tastes definitively like chicken. My question was could I create a sausage that tasted that much like chicken that there would be no mistake about what it was made from.