Tag Archives: gordon

The 100th Post! Chopping up a baby lamb

Our "course materials" fresh from the farm

Can we get a syndication deal now?

As a slight change of pace and in preparation for Passover, Gordon and I signed up for a lamb butchering class taught by the amazing Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. In true heathen style I came across Ryan in a New York Times article on fried pig skin. In addition to the delicious sausages he sells at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, Ryan is known for his amazing chicharrones, that he thoughtfully shared with us at the end of class (along with some grilled kidneys and other treats). The class was held in San Francisco non-profit,  incubator kitchens of La Cocina.

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Filed under Meat, Passover, Snout to Tail

Haman’s Ears – Oznai Haman

Sweet Haman's Ears

There is only one mandatory action on Purim, that is to hear the story of the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of their enemy, Haman. One might debate whether this was due to Esther’s sexual manipulation of the king at her uncle Mordecai’s urging or it was in fact due to divine intervention.

What is not in debate however is the ferocity of the Jewish observance of the event. Jewish custom is to get stinking drunk and yell, scream and stomp every time Haman’s name is read aloud and generally remind everyone that we hold grudges for a very long time.[Don’t believe me, the Jews are the only people to remember the tribe of Amelek- just so we can observe the commandment to blot out their memory. That’s more than 2000 years of holding a grudge because they tried to jump us in the desert.]

This extends into the foods consumed on Purim. Oznai Haman (Haman’s Ears) come in several forms, ranging from stuffed cookies to this interesting fried pasta recipe I found. Of all of the Purim foods I have seen these turned out to be the most life-like and perhaps raising the greatest number of questions for a liberal western Jew to answer as he presents a plate of these fried ears to his kids.

I invite you to offer your own thoughts on consuming something that looks so much like a body part, and remind you that between Haman and his 10 sons (who were all impaled on wood spikes) there would have been 22 ears, snacks for everyone.

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Filed under Dessert, Gadgets and Gear, Jewish, Pasta and Grains, Purim

Ma’amoul – Menena (Walnut & Date Tartlets)

Hot and Tasty Ma'amoul Cookies

The next major holiday on the Jewish calendar is Purim. While we will crank out several variants of the traditional hamantachen (I know Amiee is working on her poppy seed filling) I wanted to try something new. In asking around I was told by my spouse that her co-worker who is Israeli of Egyptian descent makes Ma’amoul for Purim. Intrigued since I had never even heard of them I quickly consulted Claudia Roden who supplied a recipe that I then modified. Roden does not mention a holiday connection, but says her mother kept a box of these around all the time. But, since every good tradition has to start somewhere- I am going say this is indeed a Purim treat, sweet like the deliverance of the Jews from Haman.

Some notes on production. The dough will look loose and crumbly at first, let it rest to firm up. This is traditionally made with rose-water, which I do not keep on hand but feel free to swap out some of the milk for an equal amount of rose-water. Third, you can make any filling you want, Roden says that pistachios were the most prestigious given their price. Last, Roden says her mother made a design on the top with “dented pincers”. Having no idea what that might look like I did a Google image search and found that many people use a mold to create intricate designs that would make any Christmas cookie baker proud. I decided that I would keep it simple, scoring the tops with a fork in the manner of my own grandmother’s sugar cookies.

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Filed under Dessert, Israeli, Purim, Sephardic

Bagel Dogs

A Hot Bagel Dog: you know you want it

Tomorrow, like many Americans, I will be ensconced on my couch enjoying the game and waiting for a commercial that will be worthy of Monday morning water cooler conversation. Since kickoff on the West coast falls in the late afternoon, I will need some snacks to go with my cheap beer.

In thinking about what a Jew should eat during the Superbowl, I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions. The best one I got was football shaped matza balls. That sounded tricky to pull off.

Instead I decided that since watching TV was the eptimome of a lazy man’s approach to  sports, that a lazy food was in order. It should be a energy saving food, one that lets you eat fat, protein and carbs all at once. It should also combine at least two classic Jewish dishes.

I present you with… the Bagel Dog.

This isn’t that hard to do, but make the dough now (on Saturday, wait until after Shabbat if you need to) and then finish them up tomorrow afternoon just before they flip the coin.

Recipe after the break

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Bread, Deli, Meat

Kosher Style Liverwurst

Tastes like old times

Liverwurst, or liver sausage is a Midwestern staple. When I was a kid we would go one town over to Cedarburg (not that i lived in a town per se, Mequon in those days had 62 square miles, 15,000 people and 4 stop lights) to buy meat. Paules’ Market (long gone sadly) was the place to get local meat. I can still recall the liverwurst, made from pork liver wrapped in a opaque casing that had to be peeled away. A quick lunch on the farm could be made from a few slices, sharp mustard and two slices of wheat bread.

The flavor of liverwurst is very distinctive, as opposed to liver pate or chopped chicken livers. It was this distinctive flavor that lead me to think that I could recreate it with beef or calves’ liver (which would make it kosher, if you use kosher meat). So a little internet research combined with consultation with Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing and I was ready to give it a try.

Some notes on materials and process. This takes a while to make. Leave yourself plenty of time and keep everything well chilled. If you break the emulsion (meaning the fat and meat separate) what you end up with is very tasty dog food. Also there are several options for casings. I used muslin cloth. You could also use a beef middle or hog bung.

Recipe after the break

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Filed under Deli, Goyish, Meat, Snout to Tail

Smoked Salmon Potato Kugel

Dinner time

When I lived in Israel (the second time) something wonderful happened- we got cable. Well actually not cable, but satellite TV. Until then, we had suffered with Israel’s two over the air channels. One was government run, the other was worse. Since our kibbutz never had the money to pay for cable (let alone get us wired) we were ecstatic when Yes Television set up shop in the Holy Land.

I promptly discovered my favorite cooking show on BBC. It was called Ready, Steady, Cook. In brief chefs were presented with ten quid worth of random groceries that they had to transform into a multi-course meal. I loved the sheer improvisation of it and it mirrored my own approach to cooking.

Last night I played that game by pulling together a little Ashkenazi casserole from things in my fridge. These things consisted of leeks, smoked salmon (thanks mom), eggs, some cream, cheddar cheese, mushrooms and of course potatoes. You should take the opportunity to see what you can hustle out of your own larder this weekend.

Recipe after the break.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Smoked

Rugelach

Presentation is everything, until you eat them

One Rugelah, many rugelach. The suffix lach (pronounced with a guttural h at the end) indicates a Yiddish plural. In the case of these small cream cheese filled cookies, one is never enough. Also a note of clarification for all the people who have fallen in love with the sweet greasy confection offered in the bakeries of Israel- these are different. The Israeli version is parve, meaning it contains no dairy (or for that matter meat) and uses a fair amount of oil and sugar to attain its hyper-palatable state. The down side is that after a few hours the Israeli ones taste like congealed grease. The best way to eat those is on the way home from the market.

These are less filled croissant, and more of a rolled cookie. They keep well and could even be frozen (if you manage to keep them that long). This recipe comes down on my mother’s side of the family. It was scribbled in her grandmother’s copy of the Settlement Cookbook in her own long hand. When my mother operated a bakery in Salt Lake City (yes, Jews in Utah) she sold these by the dozens to Jew and Gentile alike.

When I went to look these up in Joan Nathan’s cookbook she asserted that the cream cheese dough recipe was a product of the marketing department at Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The earliest published version turned up in a cookbook written in 1950 and its provenance was given as coming from the wife of pianist Arthur Rubinstein, Nela.

While all of that may be true, and this recipe is very similar to the one that Joan Nathan offers, it still is a bit of a family heirloom and having a chance to make these with my mother over Thanksgiving was great.

A word of caution, these contain almost nothing that is good for you (well, possibly the nuts) and they turn out to be mildly addictive. I found myself idly snacking on them if I left the cookie tin to close by, or even if I was just wandering through the kitchen.

Recipe after the break

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Dessert, Jewish, Kashrut

Bourekas ver 1.0

Would you care for a snack?

Remember that show, the one about nothing? Well it was very flattered in Israel by a knock-off version whose name I cannot recall and is presently eluding my web searches. In it the Kramer character goes to a new bourekas bakery in his neighborhood (it all takes place in Tel Aviv) and is shocked to discover that the baker has disrupted the unwritten rule of fillings and shapes. For instance a potato boureka is always a rectangle, a triangle is always cheese, a pizza filling is a cylinder, while spinach filled resembles a pastry knot. One can picture the physical reaction of this character as he bites into a triangle shaped boureka and discovers that it is filled with spinach!

I was equally shocked to discover this past week that there are several different doughs that can be used to make this tasty little treats since all of the Israeli versions are made with the same flaky pastry dough. Much like the knish, there are regional variants in dough and filling across the Jewish communities of the near east and south eastern Europe. From Marrakesh to Salonika these small filled pies were popular additions to party menus. The word itself comes from the Turkish word for pie.

I decided to try a traditional Turkish recipe that Claudia Roden offers and filled them with a salmon, onion and cheese filling.

Recipe after the break

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Filed under Israeli, Sephardic

Stuffed Zucchini (Mahshi Cousa)

Stuffed Zucchini, done

Stuffed Zucchini con arroz

This is a dish I love, but did not consider Jewish until some recent research. When I lived in Israel I had good friends who are members of the Greek Orthodox Arab community. They are descendants of people who had lived in Israel prior to 1948, and had not fled beyond what were then Jordanian lines. Although they have a lot of cousins in Jordan today- something I learned when they invited me to come to Jordan with them in ’96- that was an incredible experience.

But back to the zucchini, each year Samir and his family would host a huge Christmas party in January (when Orthodox Christmas falls on the Julian calendar). Among the many dishes were platters of stuffed zucchini. They were stuffed with chopped meat, onions and spices and then braised in sauce until you could cut it with a fork. I would attempt to make it myself from time to time, hunting for good looking small squash in the open air market of Ramle, but I was never able to match the flavor.

A week ago I was strolling through the new west side Berkeley Bowl and came across perfect globe shaped zucchini- I couldn’t resist them. Along with some other goodies I took them home and started looking for a recipe. I found, in Claudia Rodan’s cookbook, an entry for stuffed zucchini, which she describes as a dish common amongst the Jews of Egypt, Syria and Lebanon and its use in large festive meals. Using her recipe and making some allowances for my own tastes and some of the seasonings from friend Samir used I came up with something slightly different.

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish, Meat, Sephardic

Roast Chicken #2 (Sumac)

Sumac Chicken, cut up

Dinner Time

Well the heathen chicken wagon rolls forward with entry number two. Sumac berries are the red ripe berries of the the non-poisonous variety of the sumac tree found in the Middle East. Not to be confused with its North American relative. It is widely used in Jewish and Arab cooking and almost any Arab restaurant worth its salt (from the old Roman custom of paying soldiers in salt) will have a sumac rubbed chicken on the menu. The presence of it in a Jewish establishment marks the menu as coming from the Syrian, Lebanese or Land of Israel Jewish communities. The flavor is bright, tart and reminiscent of cranberry or currant.

I found mine in a middle eastern market here in Berkeley. I am always of two minds when shopping in these places. On one hand I lived for several years in Israel, have an array of Arab friends and even spent a week eating my way through Amman. So I am tempted to ask for things with a degree of comfort and even engage with the staff about whether the Za’atar is fresh and the pita local. On the other hand by doing so I know that sooner or later I will be asked where my knowledge comes from (I do not look in any way Middle Eastern).  That is usually a relationship killer. But not always, I recall the owner of a Kebab place in Kansas City who was from the West Bank. He told me he loved American Jews- they were his best customers. In the end I kept my mouth shut and bought some ground sumac, some za’atar and some fava beans. The za’atar and the fava beans are for another day of cooking however.

The other thing I should point out is that I roast my chicken butterflied. This is a technique that I use to allow for a more even cooking time (the breasts and thighs cook at the same speed) and you get a nice expanse of crisp skin as a bonus. Also it should go without saying that you should brine your chicken. I added a tsp of sumac and a tsp of smoked paprika to the brine.

Recipe after the jump

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Filed under Israeli, Jewish, Meat, Sephardic, Shabbat