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.
Recipe after the break Continue reading
Holishkes or sweet and sour stuffed cabbage is a traditional Sukkot meal. I’ve seen this noted in a number of recipes but other than it being stuffed I can’t really determine how this dish became associated with a harvest holiday where we go out into tents. Sukkot ended on Friday and my illness prevented me from cooking until last night, but I have heard the cabbage rolls are a symbol for the Torah rolls and are also traditional for Simcah Torah, so I’m gonna go with that. I personally have never made or had this dish before, mainly because it is incredibly involved. It took me a couple of hours to prepare everything for cooking but I also christened my new meat grinder and ground a lovely lamb shoulder I picked up for the bargain price of $2.99/lb at Whole Foods, along with a beef chuck steak. All of the effort proved to be worth it, because they are delicious!
Recipe after the jump
It's a knish
Ah, the humble knish. A small pastry filled with any number of leftover or cheap ingredients. If there was ever a hand held version of the casserole, the knish might be it. Now it would be reasonable to say that the knish is part of a genre of food that includes pot-stickers, perogies, pasties, and even the calzone. But each has their own twist, their own milieu and acceptable forms. You would not think of putting cheese in a pot-sticker, and likewise a calzone with ginger chicken seems wrong. So, I have attempted two traditional knishes, one with a ground beef filling and another even more traditional (owing to its poorer roots) of potato and onion.
I did not grow up eating these. My parents (and their own parents) having attained a semblance of affluence focused on the richer, more luxurious end of the the Deli menu. Where beef tongue, pastrami and lox reigned there was no room for the humble little Russian potato pie.
In fact I did not find them myself until I lived in Kansas City of all places. My neighborhood was a odd little affair of several blocks of restaraunts pushed up aganist the Kansas/Missouri state line. On the Missouri side the liquor laws were more liberal, making the state line an ideal place for businesses hoping to attract the more affluent residents of Johnson county Kansas to come out and play. At 39th St, a block from the State Line Rd there was a pizza joint called D’Bronx owned by a family that were congregants at the synagogue I worked for. The potato knish there was delightful, with a stab of spciy brown mustard (Gulden’s of course) you didn’t even notice the lack of meat.
So, in the spirit of making it myself (since Deli’s are a dying breed) I took to my cookbooks and starting working on both a potato and (since my kids love anything with meat) a ground beef knish. I served them with some nice corned beef and boiled cabbage.
Recipe after the break.