Make Fruits And Vegetables the Foundation Of Winter Meals

Dec. 18, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. Hanukkah ends this evening, three days before the Dec. 21 solstice that marks the official start of winter.

Last winter, I baked up a storm and by the spring, I could barely fit into my sweatpants. This year, I’m looking at healthier options – more vegetables and fruit. Two of this week’s recipes – Braised Cabbage and Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce – fit the healthy-eating bill.

I have made some changes to the cabbage recipe, which is from Bon Appétit Magazine. (https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/roasted-cabbage-apples-italian-sausage.) I’ve omitted the sausages. I added caraway seeds, as well as an optional garnish of sour cream and fresh herbs.

The Cauliflower-and-Green-Tahini recipe is adapted from Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi. The Caramel Apple Galette recipe was created by Anna-Olson’ s recipe, the Food Network’ s baking maven (https://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/caramel-apple-galette/6754/) The galette is actually a brioche dough, a popular French breakfast bread. I added extra sugar to the galette recipe.

Community Spotlight

DANI is a Community Source For Kosher Dairy Meals And Treats

Hanukkah has been a very busy time for DANI, a charity dedicated to enhancing the skills and knowledge of individuals with physical and cognitive challenges.

DANI, an acronym for Developing and Nurturing Independence, offers its clients a variety of services – vocational, educational, life skills, recreational and social programs – in a community setting.

An important source of funding for these programs is the kosher catering business operated by DANI (905-889-3284), under COR supervision, according to Anita Miller, manager of catering and business.

During Hannukah, demand for latkes and sufganiot in the community was very high. “We sold 2,000 latkes and 2,000 sufganiot,” she noted. “The money raised from the sales is funnelled back into the organization to support our programs.”

Now in its 14th year, DANI is a social enterprise, “a business with a social twist,” Miller said. The catering and food sales offer vocational opportunities for clients and revenue for the various social and educational activities, she said. “The only reason we have catering is to fund our programming.”

DANI provides services to 30 adults. Miller stressed the importance of keeping them engaged. “We have never missed a day due to COVID,” she said. For short periods, when circumstances have necessitated, DANI has resorted to virtual programming.

DANI’ s Clark campus, adjacent to the Garnet A. Williams Community Centre (501 Clarke Ave. W.) in Thornhill, is the programming and catering hub. A satellite location at 401 Magnetic Dr. opened earlier this year.

Some clients have learned food-prep skills at the Clark campus, where daily meals that are prepared with some assistance from DANI’s clients. However, this food training program has been suspended during COVID, Miller said. “There is a now strict separation between programming and food prep.”

A number of DANI clients participate in pop-up lunches, a program – now temporarily suspended – that gives them the opportunity to interact with the community while developing, social, financial, and organizational skills.

The DANI crew would visit a corporate and/or community location where they would set up a temporary or “pop-up” kiosk to sell kosher lunch items like soups, chili, quiches, and muffins.

The organization also runs the DANI Café, a kosher dairy restaurant/ café at the Clark campus The space, which doubles as the DANI Event Centre, can accommodate up to 150 people for business meetings, parties and life-cycle celebrations, Miller said, pointing out that DANI caters off-site events as well, including business luncheons, weddings and bar mitzvahs, and provides shivah platters and corporate meals, while pastry and cookie platters are also in high demand. “We sold more than 500 gift baskets at Rosh Hashanah.” 

BRAISED CABBAGE (Bon Appétit)

½ head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium apple, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup. 
½ medium apple, sliced
1 tsp (5 ml) caraway seeds
optional: sour cream for garnish
optional: ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh dill or parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss cabbage, onion, apple, thyme sprigs, vinegar, 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil, and ¼ cup (60 ml) water in a 13-x 9-inch (23-x 33-cm) baking dish; season with salt and pepper and roast, covered, until cabbage is wilted and softened, 45 minutes.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH GREEN TAHINI SAUCE Yotam Ottolenghi

1 large cauliflower
2–3 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) salt (or to taste)

To Roast the Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash cauliflower well and cut into large florets. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt; toss to combine. 

Roast the cauliflower uncovered, for 40–45 minutes, until golden and crispy. Half way through cooking, stir the florets. When done, some of them will be blackened around the edge, which is okay.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Pour the Green Tahini Sauce (recipe below) over the cauliflower. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Green Tahini Sauce

¼ cup (60 ml) Tahini
¾ cup (375 ml) parsley, roughly chopped
1 small garlic clove crushed
1/3 cup (90 ml) water 
3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
Flaked sea salt

Pour the tahini into the small bowl of a food processor. Add the parsley and garlic. Pulse for 1 minute, until the tahini is green. Pour in the water and lemon juice and season with ¼ tsp salt. Pulse until you have a smooth green sauce with the consistency of heavy cream. Add a touch of tahini if it’ s too thin or a splash of water if it is too thick.

CARAMEL APPLE GALETTE Anna Olson 

Crust

3 tbsp (45 ml) tepid 2% milk
1¼ tsp (6 ml) instant dry active yeast
**6 tbsp (75 ml) sugar, divided
1¾ cups (435 ml) all purpose flour
¾ tsp (4 ml) salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 2 tbsp (30 ml) water for egg wash
**original recipe only called for 3 tbsp (45 ml) sugar

Apples

56 large Granny Smith, Braeburn or Honeycrisp, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60 ml) unsalted butter
¼ cup (60 ml)sugar
2 tbsp (30 ml) brandy (optional)
½ tsp (2 ml) cinnamon

Crust: Stir together milk, yeast and 3 tbsp (45 ml) sugar. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and remaining sugar. Pour in milk mixture and add eggs. With electric beaters fitted with the dough attachments or in a stand-up mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until blended. Add the butter in pieces to dough and beat for 3 minutes until it becomes an even, silky consistency. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

For the fruit: Toss the apples in lemon juice. Heat the butter and sugar over high heat in a sauté pan and once bubbling, add the apples. Sauté the apples until nicely browned, about 10 minutes, and stir in brandy, if using, and cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place ring of 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan on baking sheet lined with parchment.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 14-inch (35 cm) circle and place in springform pan, overlapping 2 inches (5 cm) on the outside of the pan. Spoon in the apples and fold the crust edge back over the apples. 

Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes, until the edges of the tart are richly browned. Let cool for one hour before unmoulding and slicing. Makes 10 portions. The galette can be rewarmed before serving.

Celebrate Hanukkah With New And Traditional Recipes

Dec. 11, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach. Welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. Yesterday evening, we lit the first Hanukkah candle, but at our house, we won’t be eating latkes until this weekend.

My husband, the family’s latke-maker-in-chief, swears by Norene Gilletz’s recipe for Easy Potato Latkes from the Food Processor Bible

For people buying prepared latkes, there are several great places in the GTA to order from. One is Free Times Café, the College-Street eatery known in the community for “Bella! Did Ya Eat?,” its sumptuous Jewish-themed Sunday brunch.

In “Community Spotlight,” Free Times owner Judy Perly talks openly about the impact of COVID on her business. She’s definitely a survivor: her restaurant marks its 40th anniversary this month.

On Dec. 8, I attended the virtual Latkes and Vodka Workshop led by national food columnist and cookbook author Bonnie Stern and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, spiritual leader of City Shul.

Stern prepared guacamole, sweet-potato latkes, and jelly-filled, donut-holes, her version of home-made sufganiot.

Rabbi Goldstein explained that the Hanukkah tradition of eating sufganiot originated in Israel during the 1920s. To help bakers increase business, the government encouraged them to make large, filled donuts for Hanukkah, a greasy treat that has grown in popularity over the years.

It turns out Rabbi Goldstein was a bartender in her college days. She invented and demonstrated some vodka martinis specifically geared to Hanukkah: “Menoratini,” “Chocolate Geltini,” and “Sufganitini” (a jelly donut martini!).

This week’s recipes include Gilletz’s Easy Potato Latkes as well as her Smashed Potato “Latkes,” a “no-grate alternative to potato latkes,” as she put it. It’s from The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory. This may be heresy, but I actually prefer these “latkes” to traditional ones.

As well, there are two recipes from the Latkes and Vodka Workshop: Stern’s Jelly Filled Donut Holes and Rabbi Goldstein’s Menoratini.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT:

Restaurateur Judy Perly is undaunted by COVID 

This month Free Times Café, a restaurant/bar at 320 College St., will mark its 40th anniversary. Owner Judy Perly said she will be celebrating the milestone despite the impact of the pandemic on her business.

Over the years, she has faced significant challenges that have made her resilient and able to deal with problems brought on by COVID, she said in a recent telephone interview.

“I’ve had my business destroyed four times and I had to reinvent myself each time.”

Judy Perley with Latkahs

With the pandemic, she has had to pivot from serving to catering restaurant fare. There is a big demand for the traditional Jewish foods she’s been serving at the restaurant. They’ll be delivering latkes to homes across Toronto.

Free Times’ Jewish themed Sunday brunch, “Bella! Did Ya Eat?” has become an institution in the Jewish community. For 25 years, people across the GTA have been enjoying the buffet laden with traditional foods like blintzes, bagels, lox, gefilte fish, salmon patties and other Ashkenazi delicacies.

The meal has always been accompanied by live Jewish or klezmer music.

Perly lamented that due to COVID, she could not celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Bella! Did Ya Eat?”

After a fire at Free Times in 1990, Perly decided to create the Jewish buffet – one of the times she had to reinvent herself.

“I wanted to get back to my roots and I wanted to reconnect to the Jewish community,” she recalled. “It was a success from day one.”

The first COVID lockdown last spring coincided with Passover. Perly let people on her mailing list know that she would be catering for the holiday. She had a huge response. The catering expanded to Sunday brunches, Friday night dinners, Shavuot and other holiday meals.

During the summer Perly was able to open her patio and have some live entertainment. Last month’s lockdown has created additional financial challenges.

On the eve of Hanukkah, the pace at Free Times was hectic. Perly and her staff were preparing orders for 400 latkes and other traditional dishes. “I am very grateful for the support I am getting from the Jewish community,” she mused. “They have kept the restaurant afloat for the last 25 years.”

EASY POTATO LATKES Norene Gilletz

4 medium potatoes, peeled or scrubbed
1 medium onion, cut in half 
2 eggs
1/3 cup (100 ml) of flour or matzah meal
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
3/4 tsp (4 ml) salt 
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
2 tbsp (30 ml) oil plus extra as needed

Cut the potatoes in chunks and place them in the food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade. Add the onion and eggs. Process until pureed, about 20–30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil. Process a few minutes longer for a smooth consistency.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop the potato mixture into the hot oil by large spoonfuls to form pancakes. Brown them well on both sides. Drain them well on paper towels and add 

more oil as needed. 

Stir the batter before cooking each new batch of latkes. They can be placed on a baking sheet and kept warm in a 250°F (130°C) oven. Makes 24 latkes

SMASHED POTATO “LATKES” Norene Gilletz

12 baby red-skinned potatoes (2 inches/5 cm in diameter)
Lightly salted water
1–2 tbsp (15–30 ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Additional seasonings (to taste): dried basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

Boil the potatoes in enough lightly salted water to cover them for 15–20 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain them well. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or sprayed foil. Place the potatoes in a single layer, about 3 inches (8 cm) apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover them with a piece of parchment paper. Smash each potato once or twice with the flat part of your palm, to make a flat disc. Round off any ragged edges by pushing them together with your fingers.

Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Bake, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crispy. If desired, turn the potatoes over halfway through baking. (Optional add more oil for brushing). Makes 2–3 servings

Norene’s Notes:

Easy hack: In Step 1, instead of boiling potatoes, roast them on a rimmed baking sheet for about 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), until they are fork tender. Continue as directed in Steps 2–5.

• In Step 3, use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to smash the potatoes. 

BONNIE’S BAKED JELLY DONUT HOLES

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour 
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
½ tsp (2 ml) baking powder
¼ tsp (1 ml) baking soda
¼ tsp (1 ml) kosher salt
¼ tsp (1 ml) nutmeg
1 egg
¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk*
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 ml) strawberry jam (remove any large pieces) topping
½ cup (125 ml) butter, melted
3/4 cup (375 ml) sugar
3/4 tsp (4 ml) cinnamon 
* yogurt can be substituted for buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C). Butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg with oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients together with the dry ingredients just until blended. 

Individual ½ tsp (2–3 ml) portions of jam can be frozen a head of time or fill a zip-lock bag with jam, close and cut a small opening in one corner. 

Place about 1 tsp (5 ml) of the batter in the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Place a frozen jam portion or squeeze a small amount of the jam in the zip-lock bag in the centre of the batter that is in the pans and top the jam with another tsp (5 ml) of batter. 

Bake 12–14 minutes until the cakes are puffed and lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and place in a shallow dish. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in another shallow dish. When the cakes are still warm roll them all over in the butter and then all over in cinnamon sugar. Makes 24 baked donut holes.

MENORATINI Rabbi Elise Goldstein

3 oz (90 ml) vodka
½ oz (15 ml) sweet vermouth.
Splash of blue curacao

Fill a cocktail shaker (or a 500 ml preserving jar with lid) with ice. Pour in the vodka and sweet vermouth and shake. Strain into 2 martini glasses, then splash in some blue Curacao and add a few fresh blueberries. Or put a “surprise” small drop of blueberry jam on the bottom of the martini glass! 

You can also “rim” the martini glass. Before pouring the cocktail into the glass, dip it into 1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice mixed with ½ tsp (2 ml) vanilla. Dip the wet rim into blue or white coarse sugar, available at some bulk food stores. 

Tahini Adds Richness to Sweet and Savoury Dishes

Dec. 4, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

Last Sunday, it was warm enough to serve brunch al fresco. We wore our jackets and ate a simple meal in a sunny corner of the garden. 

Two days later, my husband was out shovelling the driveway after a substantial snowfall in Toronto.

If the weather keeps up, we will have a white Hanukkah. We light the first candle on Thursday, Dec. 10.

This week, “Kitchen Talk” has a guest contributor for the Spotlight feature. Jacqueline Louie, a Calgary-based freelance writer and editor, has written about Israel Cookalong, a weekly cooking class from Israel. The classes are run on Zoom and attract participants from all over the world.

Louie has included a recipe for Tahini Cookies from Israel Cookalong.

I have kept this week’s recipes to the tahini theme. Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is a Middle Eastern food that has become very popular worldwide and is used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.

I have found two savoury recipes from two wonderful cookbooks that utilize tahini. Tahini Glazed Carrots can be found in Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from my Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman, and Beets with Tahina is from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Philadelphia-based restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook.

I tried the Tahini Glazed Carrots last week. It’s a delicious dish that would work well for Hanukkah or any festive occasion. The carrots can be served warm, at room temperature or even cold.

Solomonov said Beets with Tahina is one of the most popular menu items at Zahav, the award-winning restaurant he co-owns with Cook. 

SPOTLIGHT

Israel Cookalong Has A Global Reach

By JACQUELINE LOUIE

Every Sunday at 11 a.m. (Eastern Time), Miriam Kresh logs onto Zoom and leads the Israel Cookalong from her kitchen in Petach Tikvah, Israel.

The Cookalong, which Kresh started in the spring of 2020, attracts Canadians from Calgary, Winnipeg and other cities, along with participants from the United States, South Africa and Israel. 

They cook together in real time via Zoom. At the end of each session, everyone has freshly cooked dishes inspired by Israel’s multi-ethnic cuisine.

Examples of the Cookalong recipes include Herb-and Nut-Crusted Schnitzel, Chicken Tajine with Apricots, and Majadra, a lentil and rice dish.

“We share wisdom, crack jokes, and tell stories while we cook. It’s like a party in your kitchen every Sunday,” says Kresh, a Jerusalem Post writer.

Her former food blog, Israeli Kitchen – it was acquired by Mother Nature News network– is now part of the online publication, From The Grapevine.

Amy Kenigsberg participates regularly in the Israel Cookalong from Maale Shomron in central Israel. “You’re making recipes for food you’ve never heard of, so you’re learning an enormous amount about Israeli cuisine and Israeli culture. “And the food is really good!” says Kenigsberg, who cooks for a family of five. They enjoy the Israel Cookalong meals “because it’s not the same boring stuff that I make all the time.”

Kenigsberg encourages people to try out the Israel Cookalong. “It’s a great group of people that you’re cooking with. I feel like I’ve made some really nice new friends, even though we only meet once a week on video.”

To find out what’s cooking at the Israel Cookalong this month, or for more information about registration, email Kresh at miriamkresh1@gmail.com. Type “Cookalong” in the subject line.

“I’d love to welcome you to the classes,” she says. “You can join for one session or more, as you choose.”

TAHINI COOKIES Miriam Kresh 

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (200 g) soft margarine or butter
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
1 cup (250 ml) tahini. If there’s a layer of oil floating on top of the jar, stir in back in.
2 cups plus 4 tbsp (560 ml) flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
Optional: 2 tbsp (30 ml) pine nuts and powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) 

Cream the margarine and the sugar together.

Add the vanilla and the tahini and blend again.

Combine the flour and the baking powder; add to the tahini mixture.

Form balls the size of walnuts and place them on a greased baking sheet. The dough is dry and crumbly, so squeeze it together to make the balls.

If adding the optional pine nuts, form one cookie ball. Take 2 or 3 pine nuts into your left palm, and with your right hand, press the ball onto them. 

Reverse it when placing onto the baking sheet. If the ball crumbles slightly, just squeeze it back into shape with your fingertips.

Bake 13–15 minutes. Do not bake longer because the cookies need a little moisture to retain their shape and not crumble. Cool the baking tray on a rack, and don’t touch the cookies for at least 5 minutes. (If they’re handled while hot, they will fall apart.) Dust with powdered sugar when they’re cool.

Follow Jacqueline Louie at https://jacquelinelouie.ca/

TAHINI GLAZED CARROTS Adeena Sussman

14–16 (1½ lbs total) *thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cumin

Tahini Glaze: Makes 1 cup (250 ml) 

1/3 cup (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) pure tahini paste
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) silan**
2 tbsp (30 ml) water or more as needed
½ tsp (2 ml) fine sea salt
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper

* Thick carrots cut thin can be substituted
** honey or maple syrup can be substituted

Roast the Carrots 

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange the carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and cumin. Shake the pan to coat the carrots, and roast them in the preheated oven turning midway through, until they have softened and their edges are golden, 25–27 minutes.

Tahini Glaze: While the carrots are roasting, whisk the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, silan (or substitute), water, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl until smooth and pourable, adding an additional tablespoon (15 ml) of water if necessary.

Remove the carrots from the oven. Transfer them to a serving platter, and drizzle then with the tahini glaze. Use tongs to gently toss and coat. Makes 4 servings.

BEETS WITH TAHINA (Michael Solomonov) 

5 cups plus ½ tsp (1250 ml plus 2 ml) kosher salt
8 medium beets
½ cup (125 ml) of Basic Tahini Sauce
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh mint and more for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190 °C). Spread 1 cup (250 ml) of the salt in an oven-proof skillet or baking dish. Put the beets on the salt and cover them with the remaining cups of salt. Bake until the beets are tender, about 90 minutes.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, remove them from the salt and peel. Set them aside to cool completely.

Grate the beets into a mixing bowl, using the coarse holes of a box grater. Add the tahina sauce, oil lemon juice, dill, mint and season with ½ tsp (2 ml) salt. Mix well to blend. 

Top with dill and chopped mint. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

BASIC TAHINA SAUCE (Michael Solomonov)

1 head of garlic
3/4 cup (190 ml) fresh lemon juice
1½ tsp (7 ml) kosher salt
2 generous cups (500 ml) of tehina
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cumin
1½ cups (375 ml) ice-water, as needed

Break the garlic head up and put the unpeeled cloves in the blender. Add the lemon juice and ½ tsp of salt. Blend on high until the mixture becomes a course puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Discard the solids. Add the tahina to the strained lemon juice along with the cumin and 1 tsp salt.

Whisk the mixture until smooth or use a food processor, adding ice water a few tablespoons at a time to thin the mixture out. The sauce will lighten in colour with the whisking or processing. When the tahina seizes up or tightens keep adding water, bit by bit, about 1½ cups (375 ml) in total, whisking or processing until the mixture is creamy and smooth.

Taste and add up to 1½ tsp (7 ml) of salt or additional cumin. If the sauce is not being used immediately add a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen the tahini before refrigerating it.

The recipe makes 4 cups (1 L) and it will keep refrigerated for one week.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Dec. 6, 3 p.m.: Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. Lea Zeltserman will be leading a virtual cooking workshop for Russian Pickle Soup, through Building the Jewish& Cookbook, presented by the Miles Nadal JCC. https://www.facebook.com/events/192408629142347

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Latkes and Vodka Workshop with National food columnist and author, Bonnie Stern, and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Virtual cooking demo for latkes, cocktails and dessert. To register: https://www.cityshul.com/form/latkes-vodkas.html

Dec. 8 & 9 Shoresh Chanukah Markets: Place advance orders for beeswax Hanukkah candles, Chanukah Miracle Bundle, Bela’s Bees Raw Honey, and other sustainable natural products. Pick up locations south of St. Clair on Dec. 8.; locations north of St. Clair on Dec. 9. https://shop.shoresh.ca/

Dec. 22 1:00 p.m.: Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese Food Lecture presented by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States traces the history of Ashkenazi Jews’ affinity for Chinese food from the turn of the century to today. To register: https://secure2.convio.net/yivo/site/Ticketing?view=Tickets&id=102421

Virtual Cooking Events Showcase North African Flavours, Russian Foods

Nov. 27, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

When COVID struck, Carolyn Tanner Cohen, founder of the Delicious Dish Cooking School, had to reinvent her business. She had been running her popular cooking school from her home.

She was able to build an online following and has made the transition to a virtual cooking school.

On Dec. 3, she’ll be doing a fundraiser for Grandmothers Partnering with Africa (GPWA), part of the international Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

The campaign provides financial support for millions of African grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren. They have been orphaned because their parents died of HIV/AIDS.

Participants in the GPWA fundraiser with Tanner Cohen will be making Moroccan Spiced Lentil Barley Soup and Cauliflower Fritters with Dukkah, along with other recipes inspired by North African flavours.

This week’s recipes range from exotic to everyday. Tanner-Cohen’s Marinated Crispy Tofu with Sriracha Tahini encompasses a range of international flavours.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT:

Lea Zeltserman is a Russian-born, Toronto-based writer specializing in Russian food and Russian-Jewish issues and culture. On Dec. 6, she will lead a virtual cooking workshop on how to make rassolnik (Russian pickle soup). See Culinary Calendar below for details.

Lea Zeltserman
Lea Zeltserman

I tried to match Ashkenazi dishes that resemble some of the Russian foods described by Zeltserman. The Food Processor Bible by the late Norene Gilletz was my source. Her Easy Cottage Cheese Pancakes are very similar to Russian syrniki. Zeltserman said buckwheat groats are a Russian staple so I have also included Gilletz’s recipe for Kasha Knishes.

Zeltserman may have spent only two years of her life in her native Russia, but her knowledge of the traditional foods of her homeland is extensive.

She said many dishes considered to be Jewish in North America are the familiar Russian foods of her childhood. “I grew up eating Ukrainian or Russian borscht…This food is part of my Soviet Russian heritage, not my Jewish one.”

There’s a lot of overlap between Russian and Ashkenazi Jewish foods, she noted, except the Jewish roots of these dishes, like those of other cultures, were “stripped away” during the Soviet era. “That government was anti-religious.”

For instance, Russian Jews eat a chopped liver-style paté. She said it’s hard to know if these dishes were originally Russian or if were borrowed from Jewish cuisine and “Sovietized.”

She pointed out that Russians have a preference for sour tastes like sour pickles and sauerkraut. The rassolnik (pickle soup) was originally made with beef kidney, but Zeltserman uses stewing beef. “It’s a very adaptable recipe. If I have beef bones I use them. Any sour pickle will do.”

Kasha, she explained, means porridge in Russian. The buckwheat-groat dish referred to as kasha in North America is called grechka in Russian. “In my house we always had a pot of buckwheat on the stove… It was a staple.”

Soft cheeses like farmer’s or cottage cheese are frequently consumed by both Ashkenazi Jews and Russians, Zeltserman said. “I often make syrniki or cottage cheese pancakes for my kids.”

One of her favourite meals is blinchiki, thin crepe-like pancakes that resemble cheese blintzes. Instead of cheese, however, blinchiki are stuffed with ground chicken, she said. “They are amazingly delicious!”

MARINATED CRISPY TOFU WITH SRIRACHA TAHINI Carolyn Tanner Cohen

1 block (about 350 g) firm or extra firm tofu
2 tbs (30 ml) neutral oil like grape-seed or sunflower

Marinade

¼ cup (60 ml) low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 cup (250) water
2 tsp (10 ml) garlic powder

Coating

¼ cup (60 ml) toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup (60 ml) wheat germ
½ tsp (2 ml) garlic powder
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper

Sriracha Tahini

2 tbsp (30 ml) tahini paste
1 tbsp (15b ml) lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) sriracha, more to taste
Ice water to thin
Pinch or two of kosher salt

Cut the tofu into 1–2-inch (2–5 cm) cubes.

Combine the tamari or soy, water and garlic powder in a flat dish. Lay the tofu cubes in dish, marinate 

(turning occasionally) for 10 minutes up to 6 hours.

Combine the sesame seeds, wheat germ, garlic powder, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.

Process until the seeds have broken down and a breadcrumb-like texture is formed.

Heat a large fry pan over med-high heat. Add the oil. Coat each piece of marinated tofu in the sesame 

seed mixture. When the oil is hot, pan fry the tofu cubes until each side is golden brown.

Sriracha Tahini: In a medium size bowl and using a whisk, mix together the tahini, lemon juice, sriracha and 2 tbsp (30 ml) ice water. The consistency should be similar to ketchup. As you add the lemon and water, the tahini will thicken at first, thin it with additional water. Taste for flavour, it should be spicy with a hint of lemon. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency.

Serve the tofu as is or over rice or noodles. Drizzle the Sriracha Tahini or use it as a dip.

EASY COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES Norene Gilletz

1 cup (250 ml) of firm cottage cheese, (farmer’s cheese style, basically a fresh white cheese)
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
2 eggs 
1 tbsp (15 ml) melted butter or margarine
½ cup (125 ml) flour
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
½ tsp (2 ml) baking powder
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
A combination of oil and butter for frying

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until fairly smooth, about 20–25 seconds.

Melt about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of oil and butter in a large skillet. When it bubbles drop the cheese mixture from a large spoon into the skillet. Brown on medium heat until it becomes golden. Flip the pancakes and brown on the other side. Repeat with the remaining cheese mixture, adding more oil and butter as necessary. Makes 2 dozen pancakes.

KASHA KNISH Norene Gilletz

Kasha Knish
Kasha Knish

1 large onion, halved 
2 –3 tbsp (30 ml) oil
1 cup (250 ml) coarse or medium kasha (buckwheat groats)
2½ cups (750 ml) boiling water or chicken soup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Knish Dough

1 egg
¼ cup (60 ml) oil
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
Egg wash (Optional): 1 egg mixed with 2 tbsp water
Flaked sea salt (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C) and place parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Dough: Fitting the food processor with a steel blade, process the eggs, oil, water until mixed, about 5 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and process just until blended, about 8 seconds. Do not over-process the dough or it will become tough. Let the dough stand while you prepare the filling.

Filling: With the steel blade process the onion with 3 or 4 quick on-off pulses, until it becomes coarsely chopped.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté. Add the kasha and brown, stirring often. Then add the boiling liquid to cover the onions and kasha. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 8–10 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Let cool.

Assembly: Divide the dough into 2 pieces and the filling in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time on a floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle. Starting 1 inch from the edge, place half the filling in a mound along the longer side of the rectangle. 

Roll up the ends and place on the prepared baking pan with the seam side down. Brush with egg wash (if using) and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Yields 2 rolls, each making 12 slices

CULINARY CALENDAR

Dec. 3, 5:00 p.m.: Cook Global Cuisine with Carolyn Tanner-Cohen, sponsored by Grandmothers Partnering with Africa, Stephen Lewis Foundation. Email:GPWafrica@gmail.com

https://mailchi.mp/e0fe14de93a7/save-the-date-yoga-for-africa-2642778?e=b145ad6660

Dec. 6, 3 p.m.: Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. Lea Zeltserman will be leading a virtual cooking workshop for Russian Pickle Soup, through Building the Jewish& Cookbook, presented by the Miles Nadal JCC. https://www.facebook.com/events/192408629142347

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Latkes and Vodka Workshop with National food columnist and author, Bonnie Stern, and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Virtual cooking demo for latkes, cocktails and dessert. To register: https://www.cityshul.com/form/latkes-vodkas.html

Dec. 8 & 9 Shoresh Chanukah Markets: Place advance orders for beeswax Chanukah candles, Chanukah Miracle Bundle, Bela’s Bees Raw Honey and other sustainable natural products. Pick up locations south of St. Clair on Dec. 8, north of St. Clair on Dec. 9. https://shop.shoresh.ca/

Dec. 22 1:00 p.m.: Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese Food Lecture presented by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, traces the history of Ashkenazi Jews’ affinity for Chinese food from the turn of the century to today. To register: https://secure2.convio.net/yivo/site/Ticketing?view=Tickets&id=102421

Traditional Israeli Dishes Bring a Taste of Jerusalem to Toronto

Nov. 20, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

When life hands you lemons you make lemonade or, in the case of Galya Sarner, you make a tangy labaneh with lemon.

Galya Loves Food, labaneh with lemon

After COVID struck, Sarner was laid off from her job working with Toronto’s large Israeli community. She pivoted and was able to turn her passion for food into a business. She teamed up with her daughter, Shani Sarner-Lati, and founded Galya Loves Food.

“You could say our creations are a by-product of the pandemic,” Sarner said in a joint telephone interview with her daughter.

The company produces authentic Israeli specialties like labaneh, a yogurt-like spread, Jerusalem hummus, and smoky roasted eggplant – dishes Sarner grew up eating. She is an Israeli of Iraqi descent on her mother’s side.

The foods she loves and is now marketing are from her mother and late grandmother. The recipes were brought to Jerusalem from Iraq by her grandmother, Sarner recounted.

“When I make my smoky eggplant, I use the smoking plate that I received from my late grandmother. I do the same ancient way of smoking.”

The flavour infuses the food. “The smoky aroma is very specific and brings me back to the days in Jerusalem when my grandmother used the plate.”

I discovered Galya Loves Food by happenstance. I bought the labaneh at a local store and later I checked out the company’s Web site. I wondered if the “Galya” on the label was the woman I had taken a cooking class with years ago. She turned out to be the same person.

Over the years Sarner has led many culinary workshops and today shares two of her favourite recipes – Roasted Cauliflower and Jerusalem Lentil Soup.

There are other tempting recipes on her Web site: Galyalovesfood.com.

The third recipe, Maple-Glazed Delicata, comes from Bonnie Stern. Delicata is a squash with an edible skin. I bought a few at a farmer’s market but they’re also available in independent fruit and vegetable stores.

I noticed Stern’s delicata recipe in one of her newsletters. It’s simple to make and really delicious.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

Galya Loves Food is definitely a family venture. Sarner is chief culinary creator, while Sarner-Lati, an interior designer, understands the esthetics and presentation of the products.

“She has the magic touch in creating the products,” Sarner said. “We have this really good chemistry.”

Sarner-Lati, the second of three children, said she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her mother over the years. “Mom has passed on her skills. I have my own skills and a good ability to know what spice is missing. We each contribute our own creativity. It’s super enjoyable for both of us.”

Sarner pointed out that her husband, Robert (Sarner), a communication specialist, created the company’s website. “It reflects the passion that we have for Israeli food.”

Galya Loves Food products are now sold directly online and at several retail locations, including What a Bagel on St. Clair Avenue. W. and Aba’s Bagel Company on Eglinton Avenue W.

It was Aba’s that gave Sarner her start. Owner Ari Gershon offered to sell Sarner’s appetizers if she made them. She now uses the commercial kitchen at the bakery for production. “We’re very grateful to Aba’s,” she said.

In the meantime, many Israelis across the GTA are purchasing Galya’s hummus and eggplant spreads because they offer an authentic taste of home, Sarner said.

Sarner-Lati who grew up in Israel, said she misses the country, but with COVID, the family has not been able to visit for more than a year. “For ourselves and our clients, we’re trying to bring the Israeli flavour that we are craving and missing to Toronto,” she said.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER Galya Sarner

Water for boiling
1 tbsp (15 ml) salt
1 large head of cauliflower
5 tbsp (75 ml) pine nuts
1/3 cup (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp (45 ml) za’atar
1½ tbsp (25 ml) sumac, divided
1/3 cup (100 ml) homemade tahini (see below)
1 tbsp (15 ml) silan (date syrup)
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Homemade Tahini

½ cup (125 ml) raw tahini
¼ cup (60 ml) water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add 1 tbsp (15 ml) salt. Add the cauliflower and cook for 8–9 minutes. Make sure the head of the cauliflower faces the bottom of pot so it can fully absorb the salty water.

Meantime, place the pine nuts in dry frying pan (without oil) on medium to low heat and stir-fry until colour of pine nuts is golden (be careful as they can burn easily). Set aside and let cool.

Remove the cauliflower very carefully so it doesn’t break apart and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Apply olive oil evenly over the entire surface of the cauliflower and sprinkle on the za’atar and 1 tbsp (15 ml) of sumac. Bake for 18–20 minutes until cauliflower is golden. (Make sure the top doesn’t burn).

Prepare the Tahini: In a large bowl, mix the tahini, water, garlic and lemon juice. Keep mixing until the mixture is very smooth. Taste and adjust as you may need more water or lemon. Set aside.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a cake plate. Drizzle with the tahini. Sprinkle on the remaining sumac, along with the chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and then apply the silan carefully.

Spread the roasted pine nuts around the cauliflower. Makes 4 servings and can be served at room temperature.

JERUSALEM LENTIL SOUP Galya Sarner.

6–8 cups (1½– 2 L) water or broth, depending on thickness preference
4 cups (1 L) dry red lentils
1 tsp (5 ml) salt, more to taste.
1/3 cup (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
4–5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 ml) cumin
½ cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup (100 ml) minced chives for garnish
3 tbsp (45 ml) roasted pine nuts for garnish
Pepper and additional salt to taste

In a large soup pot, add water or broth, salt, lentils and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a saucepan and stir-fry the minced onion. Add the garlic and cook until golden.

Add the cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions and garlic mixture to the soup along with the bay leaf and simmer another half hour. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Garnish with the chives and pine nuts. Makes 4–6 servings.

MAPLE-GLAZED DELICATA (Bonnie Stern)

1½ lbs (½ K) delicata or butternut squash
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 ml) maple syrup (dark if possible)
½ tsp (3 ml) kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

For the delicata squash, slice 1/4–1/3-inch thick-inch (1–3 cm) and scoop out seeds in the centre or, cut in half across and hollow them out and then slice. For the butternut squash slice the long top portion without seeds in rounds or hollow out centre portion and slice in half moons. Arrange in a single layer on parchment paper.

Drizzle the squash with olive oil, then maple syrup and sprinkle with salt. Turn the slices all over in the mixture and arrange back in a single layer.

Roast 20 minutes until they start to brown. Flip the slices over and roast 15–20 minutes or longer until the slice are browned and getting a bit sticky. Makes 2–6 servings.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Nov. 25, 11:00 a.m.: Learn to make appetizers and pickled Salmon with Lilah Rosenthal at a virtual cooking workshop presented by Bernard Betel Centre. To register:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Dec. 3, 5:00 p.m.: Cook Global Cuisine with Carolyn Tanner-Cohen, sponsored by Grandmothers Partnering with Africa, Stephen Lewis Foundation. Email:GPWafrica@gmail.com

https://mailchi.mp/e0fe14de93a7/save-the-date-yoga-for-africa-2642778?e=b145ad6660

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Latkes and Vodka Workshop with national food columnist and author Bonnie Stern and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Virtual cooking demo for latkes, cocktails and dessert. To register: https://www.cityshul.com/form/latkes-vodkas.html

Dec. 22 1:00 p.m.: Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese Food Lecture presented by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Andrew Coe, author of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, traces the history of Ashkenazi Jews’ affinity for Chinese food from the turn-of-the-century to today. To register: https://secure2.convio.net/yivo/site/Ticketing?view=Tickets&id=102421

Let’s Do Brunch! Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s tastiest fall fundraiser, now in its 21st year. This initiative brings awareness to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. https://crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/ui/Letsdobrunch20

Ottolenghi’s New Recipes Are Packed With ‘Flavor’

Nov. 13, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of The CJR.

One of the world’s most celebrated chefs has a new cookbook. Israeli restaurateur and author Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book, Flavor, is quite the culinary sensation.

He teamed up with Ixta Belfrage, the co-author of Flavor, to create a truly original collection of plant-based recipes.

Ottolenghi writes in the book’s introduction that his goal was to find new ways to “ramp up” the flavour of fresh vegetables. “It’s about creating flavour bombs, especially designed for vegetables.”

He says the recipes are about appreciating the character of a particular vegetable and understanding how to prepare and pair it with other ingredients to create layers of flavour and complexity.

The recipes are a departure from Ottolenghi’s Middle Eastern dishes. He incorporates quick pickling and a host of Asian spices and herbs. Each recipe looks more delicious than the next and the photographs are terrific.

Of the 100 recipes in the book, 45 are vegan, while another 17 can easily be “veganized,” as Ottolenghi puts it, explaining that he gives many vegan alternatives to various ingredients that are animal products.

Ottolenghi says Belfrage, his co-author, is able to put “together an unusual set of components, effortlessly creating a totally new masterpiece.”

The recipes I’ve chosen look interesting and are very flavourful. While they do involve several steps, you can also make parts of the recipes. 

For instance, Roasted And Pickled Celery Root with Sweet Chili Dressing has three components, You roast the celery root, and roast it again with a sweet chili dressing. The dish is then topped with pickled celery root. You can prepare and enjoy the roasted celery root without the additional sauce and/or pickled topping.

The other recipe, Stuffed Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Dal, is East-Asian inspired. The Dal recipe can be used alone or with other vegetables, says Ottolenghi.

WHOLE ROASTED CELERY ROOT

1 large (2 lb or 900 g) celery root, scrubbed clean with hairy roots discarded; no need to peel
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
1½ tsp flaked sea salt
Extra oil for brushing

Preheat the oven 375°F (170°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce the celery root all over, about 40 times with a fork and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Mix the oil and salt in a bowl and rub it generously over the celery root. 

Roast for a minimum of 2¼ – 2¾ hours, depending on the size of the celery root, basting with oil every 20 minutes or so, until the celery root is deeply brown and soft all the way through and oozes “a celery- root caramel” or juice.

Let the celery root rest for 15 minutes or so, then cut it into wedges, brushing each side with oil and the “caramel” left on the baking sheet.

ROASTED AND PICKLED CELERY ROOT WITH SWEET CHILI DRESSING

Pickled Celery Root

1 medium celery root, trimmed, peeled, and cut into thin 2½-inch (6cm) long batons, about 4 cups (1 L)
3 celery stalks, cut into thin 2½-inch-(6cm) long batons, about 1 cup (250 ml)
2 garlic cloves, skin on, crushed with the side of a knife
3 limes: finely shave the peel to get 6 strips, then juice to get ¼ cup (60ml) 
½ cup plus 3 tbsp (150 ml) rice vinegar
1½ tsp (8 ml) flaked sea salt

Sweet Chili Dressing

½ cup (120 ml) sunflower oil 
5 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
3 red chilis, finely sliced into rounds, about 1/3 cup (80 ml)
2 whole star anise
4½ tsp (23 ml) white or black sesame seeds, or a mixture of both, well toasted
7½ tsp (40 ml) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 ml) rice vinegar
¼ cup (60ml) soy sauce
2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped chives

Prepared Roasted Celery Root

1 whole roasted celery root (see recipe above) cut into 8 wedges 
Flaked sea salt
2 green onions, finely sliced at an angle
¼ cup (60 ml) Thai basil leaves
Additional olive oil for brushing 
Additional maple syrup or honey for brushing 

Pickled Celery Root: In a large bowl, combine the celery root batons, celery, garlic, lime peel, lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Set aside for 2 hours, stirring now and then. (The recipe can be divided in half and the other half of the celery root can be roasted.) The pickled celery keeps for three days in the fridge. 

Dressing: Heat the sunflower oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Once very hot, add the garlic, chilis, and star anise and fry for 2–2½ minutes, stirring to separate the garlic slices, until the garlic is crisp and pale golden (it will continue to colour after you take it out of the oil, so don’t take it too far). 

Strain the sauce through a sieve set on top of a small heatproof bowl to collect the oil. Set the fried chili and garlic aside. Remove 1/3 cup (80ml) of the aromatic oil and reserve for another recipe. Combine 7½ tsp (40 ml) of the remaining aromatic oil with the sesame seeds, maple syrup, vinegar, soy sauce, and chives. Stir to mix.

Baking the Roasted Celery Root in the Chili Sauce 

Preheat the oven to 425°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the roasted celery root wedges on the prepared baking sheet, cut-side up. Make sure they’ve been brushed with their cooking oil and caramel (if not, brush with some olive oil and a little maple syrup or honey. 

Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Arrange the wedges on a large platter and sprinkle with a little salt. Add the reserved fried chili and garlic to the dressing and spoon over and around the celery root. Top with 11/3 cups (350 ml) of the pickled celery root mixture (avoiding the pickling liquid). Garnish with the green onions and Thai basil. Serve immediately. Makes 2–4 servings.

STUFFED EGGPLANT IN CURRY AND COCONUT DAL

3 large eggplants, stems removed, each eggplant cut lengthwise into 6 ¼-inch (½ cm) thick slices,
3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil 
Table salt and black pepper to taste

Coconut Dal

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil
5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped, about 1¾ cups (450 ml)
1½ oz (45g) fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 red chilis, finely chopped
30 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) black mustard seeds (optional) 
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander
½ tsp (3 ml) ground turmeric
2 tsp (10 ml) medium curry powder 
2 tsp (10 ml) tomato paste
½ cup (125 ml) dried red lentils
1 13½-oz (400 ml) can full-fat coconut milk 
2½ cups (625 ml) water
¾ tsp (4 ml) table salt
8 oz (220g) paneer (East-Asian, fresh white cheese) or extra-firm tofu, roughly grated
2 limes: finely zested to get 1 tsp (5 ml), then juice to get 2 tbsp (30 ml) 
1½ oz (45g) hot mango pickle, roughly chopped (optional) 
¼ cup (60 ml) cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more to serve 
Table salt
3½ oz (100 g) large (not baby) spinach leaves, stems removed, about 2 cups
(500 ml)
1 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
½ cup (125 ml) fresh cilantro 

Roast the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 425°F (200°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant slices with the olive oil, ¾ tsp (4 ml) salt, and a good grind of pepper. Spread the slices out on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the eggplant is softened and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

For the dal: Put the olive oil into a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and fry for 8 minutes, until golden. Add the ginger, half the chili, and half the curry leaves (if using) and cook for 2 minutes, then add all the spices, tomato paste, and lentils. 

Stir for 1 minute, then add the coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the lentils are soft and the sauce is thick. Pour the dal into a 7-x 1-inch (28- x 18-cm) baking dish and set aside. 

Prepare the paneer or tofu: In a small bowl, toss together the paneer or tofu, lime zest, 1 tbsp of the lime juice, the mango pickle, if using, cilantro, and 1/3 tsp (1 ml) salt 

To assemble and bake: Place one spinach leaf on top of each slice of eggplant. Put 1 heaping tsp (5 ml) of the paneer or tofu mixture in the middle, then roll up the eggplant, from the thinner end at the top down to the thicker bottom end, so the filling is encased. Put the eggplant roll seam-side down in the lentil-dal sauce and repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, spinach, and paneer. You should end up with about 18 rolls, all sitting snugly in the sauce. 

Press the rolls gently into the sauce, but not so far that they are submerged. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the eggplant is golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Heat the 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil in a small pan on medium-high heat. Add the remaining chili and curry leaves ( if using) and fry for 1 minute, until the curry leaves are crisp and fragrant. Spoon over the eggplant rolls, drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp (15 ml) lime juice, and serve with cilantro sprinkled on top. Makes 4 servings.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Nov. 18, 11 a.m.: Make Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns in a virtual cooking workshop with Jen MacDonald, presented by the Bernard Betel Centre. To register:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Nov. 18, 1 p.m.: Fermenting & Foraging: in the Historical and Contemporary Ashkenazi Kitchen. A Panel Discussion with NYC chefs Jeremy Umansky and Ari Miller. Presented by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. To Register: ihttps://yivo.org/Fermenting-and-Foraging

Dec. 3, 5 p.m.: Cook Global Cuisine with Carolyn Tanner-Cohen, sponsored by Grandmothers Partnering with Africa, Stephen Lewis Foundation. Email:GPWafrica@gmail.com

Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.: Latkes and Vodka Workshop with National food columnist and author, Bonnie Stern, and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Virtual cooking demo for Latkes, cocktails and dessert. To register: https://www.cityshul.com/form/latkes-vodkas.html

Let’s Do Brunch! Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s tastiest fall fundraiser, now in its 21 year. This initiative brings awareness to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. https://crohnsandcolitiscanada.akaraisin.com/ui/Letsdobrunch20

Holocaust Survivor’s Slovak Cuisine Delighted Her Family

Nov. 6, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN 

Shabbat Shalom, and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of The CJR. Nov. 2–9 is Holocaust Education Week (HEW), an annual series of programs run by the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.

The recipes this week come from the late Katarina Jolan Siroky, a survivor of Auschwitz. Siroky, née Holzman, was an excellent cook and baker, according to her daughter, Dagmar Niffeler.

After Siroky’s death in 1982, Niffeler organized her mother’s recipes into a cookbook for family members. “I thought that as our family has survived so many hardships, it would be nice to pass on some of these traditional foods, many of which go back to our grandmother and our Holzman heritage.”

Siroky prepared many of the dishes she had grown up eating in her native Slovakia. The food was Hungarian style because Slovakia had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of the First World War.

I am sharing a few of Siroky’s recipes this week. These classic Hungarian dishes include Chicken Paprika (or Chicken Paprikash); nockerl, or nokedli – Hungarian-style dumplings, and Sacher-Torte. 

This famous chocolate cake was invented in 1832 by Franz Sacher, an Austrian Jew. He was 16 and apprenticing as a sous chef when he created the namesake dessert.

His son, Eduard, went on to open the famous Hotel Sacher in Vienna, which today exports some 360,000 hand-made Sacher Tortes world-wide.

Family Life Fulfilled Siroky After Auschwitz 

Siroky grew up in Rudno, a small Slovakian village. She and her sister, Ilka (Doupovec) were the youngest of the six Holzman children. Her two older brothers immigrated to Canada and the United States, before the Second World War.

The two younger girls were shipped to Auschwitz in 1942. Siroky was 26 at the time. Because she spoke German, she worked in an office and did typing for a female SS officer. Niffeler said the two sisters kept each other alive in Auschwitz, on the death march of 1945, and later, in Bergen Belsen.

After the war they returned to their home town. Their parents and older sisters did not survive. Siroky married a childhood friend and gave birth to Niffeler in Slovakia.

With sponsorship from their brothers in North America, the family was able to emigrate in 1949. They ended up in Montreal and later settled in the predominantly Jewish suburb of Cote Saint-Luc.

Siroky gave birth to her son in 1953 and was an avid cook and gardener. In fact, in a baking competition held in Cote Saint-Luc, she won second prize for her Sacher Torte.

“Baking days were always a big event in our home,” recalled Niffeler. “My mother, often together with Aunt Ilka, made many pastries. Coming home to the sweet fragrant aromas and making shapes in the cookie dough was a real treat.” 

SACHER TORTE  Katarina Jolan Siroky

2 cups (500 ml) semisweet chocolate chips or 8 oz (230 g) chocolate 
12 eggs, separated
6 tbsp (90 ml) icing sugar
½ lb (230 g) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
2 cups (500 ml) ground walnuts**
6 tbsp (90 ml) flour
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (250 ml) apricot jam
** Ground almonds, hazelnuts or pecans can be substituted for the ground walnuts

Icing

8 squares (8 oz or 230 g) semi-sweet chocolate
3 tbsp (45 ml) butter
Whole almonds blanched for garnish (optional)
Whipped cream for serving

Line 2 8-or 9-inch, (21–23 cm) round baking pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter and sprinkle with flour. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or on medium high heat in a microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the egg whites until they reach a soft peak. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the ground nuts, mix the dry ingredients well and set aside.

Transfer the yolks to the stand-mixer bowl. Add the icing sugar and beat with the yolks. Add the vanilla, and butter. Add the melted chocolate. Combine well.

In three additions, fold the flour and ground nut mixture into the yolk and chocolate mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in two additions.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pans. Bake for 20–25 minutes. The cake should be moist when done. The cakes can be removed from the pans while still warm. Let them cool completely.

To make the icing: In a large bowl combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over simmering water and mix until the chocolate is glossy and the mixture has the thickness of icing. (Alternatively melt the chocolate mixture in the microwave on medium heat.)

To Assemble: Turn the first cake upside down on a serving plate. Spread the apricot jam over the top. Place the second cake on the jam layer to create the top layer of the cake. Spread the icing over the top of and sides of the cake. 

Optional: Garnish the cake with almonds in the shape of a daisy. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 10–12 servings.

PAPRIKA CHICKEN (CHICKEN PAPRIKASH) Katarina Jolan Siroky

A 4-lb (1½ K) chicken, cut in 8 pieces
2 tbsp (30 ml) paprika
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) pepper to taste
2 tsp (10 ml) caraway seeds
3–4 tbsp (45–60 ml) olive oil
1–2 tbsp (15–30 ml) coconut oil (optional) 
1 large onion, sliced
1–3 cloves garlic, whole
** ½ green pepper, sliced
2–3 cups (500–750 ml) of broth
2 tbsp (30 ml) tomato paste
1 tbsp (15 ml) corn starch
2 tbsp (30 ml) water for corn-starch slurry
Juice of 1 lemon

**a red, yellow or orange pepper can be substituted

Coat a large skillet with the oil. Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, paprika and caraway seeds. On medium heat sauté the chicken, browning well on both sides. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place them on a plate Add the onion. Sauté in the oil. Add extra oil if necessary. When the onion slices are browned, return the chicken to the pan. Add the broth, stir in the tomato paste. Add the garlic, and sliced pepper. 

Cook chicken until tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a hot serving dish and remove the pepper slices.

Make a slurry: Mix 1 tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp water. Add to the sauce and incorporate to thicken. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat. Taste for seasoning. Add the juice of ½ lemon.

To serve pour the sauce over the chicken or return the chicken to the sauce in the pan and serve from the pan. Makes 4–6 servings. Paprika Chicken is usually served with nockerl or dumplings, but also goes well with rice. 

NOCKERL (Dumplings) Katarina Jolan Siroky

2 cups (500 ml) all purpose flour, sifted
1/2–3/4 cup (125– 185 ml) water
3 eggs
1 tbsp (15 ml) salt
2–3 tbsp (30–45 ml) margarine for melting 

Fill a 2 quart (2 L) pot halfway with water. Add salt and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl combine the flour, water, eggs and salt. Mix well to form a soft, pasty dough. Roll out the dough on a wet bread board. Dip a sharp knife into the boiling water and cut the dough into 1-inch (2.5 cm)-wide strips. Cut the strips into 1-inch (2.5 cm) squares and place them directly into the boiling water.

Stir to prevent sticking and do not overcrowd the pot. Cook about 7 minutes. When the water begins to boil again, turn off the heat. When the nockerl are done they will rise to the top. Drain them in a colander.

Melt the margarine in the pot. Place the nockerl back in the pot and coat with the margarine. 

Transfer the nockerl to a hot serving dish and serve with Paprika Chicken (Chicken Paprikash).

CULINARY CALENDAR

Nov. 8, 2 p.m.: Montreal-style Pizza making workshop through MNJCC’s Jewish& Virtual Cookbook program https://www.amilia.com/store/en/miles-nadal-jcc/shop/activities/2864377 

Nov. 11, 11 a.m.: Asian Dumplings –Virtual Cooking with Maria Lindgren (Bernard Betel Centre)

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Dec. 3, 5 p.m.: Cook Global Cuisine with Carolyn Tanner-Cohen, sponsored by Grandmothers Partnering with Africa, Stephen Lewis Foundation. Email: GPWafrica@gmail.com

Virtual Cooking Eases Cabin Fever

Oct. 30, 2020 

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. The weather is getting colder and COVID rates across the country are on the rise. We’ll soon be spending much more time indoors.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom. It’ll be Zoom and more Zoom.

This technology has become quite the lifesaver during this pandemic. Thanks to Zoom, I participate in a study group with a rabbi. I attend Kabbalat Shabbat services at a synagogue in Long Island, N.Y. I listen to U.S. political lectures, and I take all kinds of cooking classes, some with top international chefs.

I’m looking forward to attending Building the Jewish & Cookbook at 2 p.m. on Nov. 8., a virtual cooking workshop hosted by the Miles Nadal JCC and The Wandering Chew, a non-profit group that embraces Montreal’s Jewish food cultures and traditions.

Kat Romanow

Wondering-Jew co-founder Kat Romanow will teach how to make her family’s recipe for Pizza Napoletana through the Jewish& Cookbook program. “Jewish&” celebrates Jewish diversity through various programs. To register: https://www.amilia.com/store/en/miles-nadal-jcc/shop/activities/2864377

Romanow has shared two recipes from The Wandering Chew Website https://wanderingchew.ca/

Lysette’s Mock Chopped Liver is a Mexican take on chopped liver that uses avocado as the base and mixes in hardboiled eggs, caramelized onions, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Massafan is an Iranian-Jewish recipe for flourless cookies that are often eaten at Passover.

This week, the late Norene Gilletz, Canada’s Queen of Kosher Cuisine was posthumously inducted into the Taste Canada Hall of Fame. Taste Canada honours food writers, and cookbook authors.

To mark this bittersweet but special occasion, I am including a recipe for Hoisin Sesame Chicken from Gilletz’s last book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory. Co-written with the late Edward Wein, The Brain Boosting Diet was on the long list of nominations for a Taste-Canada Award in the category of Health and Special Diet Cookbooks.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT:

Kat Romanow promotes Montreal’s Jewish food traditions

The Wandering Chew’s Kat Romanow, director of food programming for the Museum of Jewish Montreal, says her pizza workshop for MNJCC’s Jewish& Cookbook program (Nov. 8) “marries her Italian and Jewish background.”

Romanow grew up in a close-knit Italian-Ukrainian home and was raised Roman Catholic. While doing a master’s degree in Jewish studies, she specialized in food traditions. She later converted to Judaism.

Romanow’s maternal great-grandfather, an Italian immigrant, founded the Carona Bakery in 1932 and built homes for his family next door to the bakery in Montreal’s east end.

“When the bakery was in operation it was a meeting place for the whole family living on the street,” she recalled.

The bakery, known for its Pizza Napoletana, closed in 1995. Romanow said she, her mother and grandmother were able to recreate the pizza recipe for a home-kitchen oven. She also adapted the recipe by substituting shortening for lard. This recipe will be sent to participants in MNJCC workshop.

Romanow suggested that the dough be prepared in advance because it takes 1½ hours to rise.

Romanow founded The Wandering Chew with Sydney Warshaw in 2013. “We both have a deep love of Jewish food,” she said. “Our mission is to share the diversity of Jewish stories through food.”

The pair runs cooking workshops, food events, and cookbook launches. “We were doing it all in person prior to the pandemic. Now we have moved on line. We are meeting our mission through our events and the recipe collection on the website.”

For recipes and upcoming workshops visit The Wandering Chew Web site, https://wanderingchew.ca/

RECIPES

LYSETTE’S MOCK CHOPPED LIVER The Wandering Chew

2 eggs
1 white onion, finely diced
2 avocados
Juice of ½ lemon
Canola oil
Salt & pepper, to taste

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Leave the eggs in the covered pot for 8 minutes, until hard-boiled. Drain and run the eggs under cold water. Peel and chop the hard-boiled eggs into half-inch pieces.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook the onions until caramelized, about 8–10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mash the avocados until smooth and mix in the onions, eggs and lemon juice.

Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve with rye bread or tortilla chips.

MASSAFAN The Wandering Chew

1 cup (250 ml) almond flour
1/3 cup (100 ml) sugar
1 egg white
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cardamom
Rosewater

Mix the ground almonds, sugar and cardamom together until evenly combined.

Mix the egg white into the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until the dough comes together. This will take around 1–2 minutes. Wet your hands with rose water and shape into stars. Continue to wet your hands with a little rose water to shape each cookie.

If freezing, place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies are frozen and then place the cookies in a single layer in a freezer bag.

Bake the cookies for 8–10 minutes until light golden brown. To bake from frozen, bake the cookies for 10–12 minutes until light golden brown. Yields 12 star-shaped cookies

HOISIN SESAME CHICKEN Norene Gilletz

6 boneless, skinless single chicken breasts (or 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
Freshly ground black pepper 
¼ cup (60 ml) hoisin sauce
1 tbsp (15 ml) apricot preserves (reduced-sugar or all-fruit)
1 tbsp (15 ml) minced garlic 
1 tbsp (15 ml) orange juice 
¼ cup (60 ml) sesame seeds

Place the chicken on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with pepper on both sides.

In a medium bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, apricot preserves, garlic, and orange juice; mix well.

Brush the sauce evenly over chicken on both sides, then sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Let marinate for 30 minutes or refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Bake, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. Serve hot or cold.

Norene’s Notes:

Grilled hoisin sesame chicken: Prepare and marinate the chicken as directed in Steps 1–3. Preheat the barbecue to medium-high. Grill the chicken over indirect heat for 4–6 minutes per side, or until the juices run clear and grill marks appear. (If using a two-sided indoor grill, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the grill and close the lid. Total grilling time will be 4–6 minutes.)

Sheet pan dinner: Make a double batch of the sauce mixture in a large bowl. Add assorted sliced vegetables (e.g., 2 onions, 2 red or yellow bell peppers, 1 zucchini, or 2 cups (500 ml) mushrooms) and mix well. Spread out in a single layer on the same baking sheet as the chicken. Bake, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes, stirring the vegetables once or twice.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Nov. 8, 2 p.m: Montreal-style Pizza making workshop through MNJCC’s Jewish& Virtual Cookbook program https://www.amilia.com/store/en/miles-nadal-jcc/shop/activities/2864377 

Nov. 4, 11 a.m: Virtual Cooking with Katie Giles. The winter-squash recipes includes Butternut Squash Lentil Curry and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn 

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Posthumous Honour for Cooking Maven Norene Gilletz

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Last weekend, friends and admirers of the late food maven Norene Gilletz received very exciting news on Facebook: Canada’s “Queen of Kosher Cuisine,” was posthumously inducted into the Taste Canada Hall Of Fame.

Norene Gilletz
Norene Gilletz

Taste Canada is an umbrella organization that connects food and beverage writers, publishers, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, industry, culinary colleges, media and cookbook fans.

Gilletz’s induction was part of Taste Canada’s virtual awards ceremony that was live-streamed on Facebook the evening of Oct. 25.

She was honoured for lifetime achievement in culinary writing.

Indeed, she authored 12 books, articles for a host of kosher publications, and was a long-time columnist and food blogger for The Canadian Jewish News.

Gilletz died last February. She was 79.

Taste Canada also announced awards in a number of categories for the country’s best cookbooks of 2019. Gilletz’s last book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory – co-written with the late Edward Wein – was on the long list of nominations for a Taste-Canada Award in the category of Health and Special Diet Cookbooks.

Gilletz’s induction into the Taste Canada’s Hall of Fame was serendipitous, related Carol Press, the administrator of Norene’s Kitchen, an 11,000-member Facebook group founded by Gilletz in 2011.

Press said she came across a Facebook page for the Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC), where she discovered the Taste Canada Hall of Fame.

“I had contacted Taste Canada about this time last year about considering Norene for the award…I wrote them a letter. I told them who I was and I gave a brief introduction to Norene.”

Press wrote about Gilletz’s culinary accomplishments including her role as editor of Second Helpings, Please!, the iconic kosher cookbook that launched Gilletz’s culinary career.

“I told them that she had a new book coming out and that she was in her late 70s…They said they would take this into consideration for 2020.”

Just two days before Gilletz’s death, Press said she contacted Taste Canada again. “I don’t know what possessed me… I wish I had known about the award earlier.”

She said Gilletz was very tech savvy, having embraced new culinary technology like the microwave and food processor ahead of others.

Press pointed out that Gilletz also understood the role of social media and was connecting to her followers on Facebook, years ahead of people her age.

Gilletz’s son, Doug Gilletz, a culinary instructor and trained chef, also got involved with the CHC. “I decided to join the Culinary Historians as a way of promoting Mom,” he said from his home in Montreal. “Carol nominated her last year.

“In June we were told that she would be an inductee into the Hall of Fame, but we couldn’t tell anybody…I thought it was a great honour.”

He said he and his two siblings were hoping to attend the ceremony in person, but with the persistence of COVID, the awards evening became a virtual event,” Doug recalled.

“They gave us approval two days before the Taste Canada Awards [ceremony] to announce the event on Facebook.”

Gilletz said his mother was hard-working throughout her career. “She never took a vacation. She’d always be on her iPad. She never stopped.

“Even when she was in the hospital, she never took a break. She would tell me who to call and who to contact. She got a lot of satisfaction from her work.”

Food Brings Comfort in Times of Loss and Uncertainty

Oct. 23, 2020

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

Last week, I attended an international culinary event about comfort foods in the comfort of my own kitchen. The event was hosted by American Friends of the Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF). Founded 25 years ago, PCFF is an Israel-based grassroots organization made up of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost immediate members in the Middle East conflict.

PCFF Members conduct dialogue sessions, give lectures, and engage in projects and activities to support dialogue and reconciliation, which they say is a prerequisite for achieving a sustained peace.

Award-winning chefs Gil Hovav, a leading Israeli culinary personality, Israeli-born American author and restaurateur; Michael Solomonov, and Palestinian author Reem Kassis were invited to talk about their favourite comfort foods and the role of food in easing pain and stress.

Solomonov’s participation in PCFF had particular resonance because he shares a connection with many PCFF members: His younger brother, David, was killed in 2003 at the tail end of his military service in Israel.

Despite this loss, one of Solomonov’s closest friends is Kassis. The two spoke about their friendship and food. Kassis’s book, The Palestinian Table, has been a national bestseller.

Hovav joked that he has attended PCFF dinners – uplifting events where Palestinian mothers and grandmothers take over the kitchen and give the Israelis directions and tasks.

Each of the three chefs shared recipes for their favourite comfort foods. Hovav described his mother-in-law’s Egg Salad, a recipe he described as “simple, but so delicious.” Kassis also suggested an egg dish, IjjehPalestinian Herbed Frittata. 

Solomonov said borekas, his comfort food, evokes memories of his Bulgarian grandmother. She made these flaky pastries from scratch.

He provided his recipe for making the puff pastry dough, which is delicious, but very labour-intensive. He said borekas can also be made from ready-made puff pastry dough, which is what I used for my Feta and Mushroom Borekas. 

I defrosted the dough in my fridge the night before using and I also vented the borekas by making some tiny slits in the dough before baking. The recipes for the fillings come from Solomonov’s awarding winning cookbook, Zahav

EGG SALAD Gil Hovav

4 large yellow onions, diced
½ cup (125 ml) canola oil.
10 large eggs
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
optional 3 scallions, chopped

In a large sauce pan, add half the oil and half the onions and cook until the onions are browned. Repeat with the remaining oil and onions. Set aside.

While the onions are browning, boil the eggs. When the eggs are cooked, peel and grate them.

Mix with the browned onions and their oil. Add lots of kosher salt and some black pepper. You may add chopped scallions.

IJJEH – PALESTINIAN HERBED FRITTATA Reem Kassis

8 eggs
4 scallions, finely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ cup (125 ml) fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional) 
1 scant tsp (5 ml) salt
½ tsp (2 ml) cumin
¼ tsp (1 ml) black pepper
1 tbsp (15 ml) flour
Olive oil, for frying
Labaneh and pita bread, to serve

Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until mixture is a pale yellow and starting to froth. Add in the chopped herbs, salt and spices and mix until evenly combined. Sprinkle the flour over the eggs and whisk until incorporated. 

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. You can use one very large pan or a small one and work in batches. 

Once the oil is hot, pour the omelet mixture into the pan, tilting it around to get an even layer of eggs. Cook until the edges start to curl and the top is starting to solidify. Periodically lift the eggs with a spatula to make sure the bottom is not burning. 

When the omelet is no longer runny from the top, flip it over to brown the other side. Continue to cook for another minute or two until done. If using a small pan, repeat, adding more olive oil, until the egg batter is done.

Slide the omelet onto a plate and serve immediately with fresh pita bread and a side of labaneh. Makes 4 servings.

FETA BOREKAS Michael Solomonov

Makes 24 small or 6 large pastries Ingredients

Dough 

Option 1 defrost puff pastry dough and then follow the recipe for filling

Option 2 Puff pastry dough from scratch

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling 
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
1 scant cup (250 ml) seltzer, plus more as needed
8 tbsp (125 ml) unsalted butter, softened 
1 egg, for brushing the dough

Combine the flour, oil, vinegar, and salt in a food processor, then add the seltzer. Process until the mixture looks crumbly, then continue for a few minutes more, adding a drop or two more of seltzer until the dough comes together in a ball. Process for 10 seconds, then flour the largest cutting board you have and scrape all the dough onto it. (You can also make the dough by hand in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.)

Press the dough into a rectangle about 6 inches long. (The dough is easiest to work with the closer you get to a perfect rectangle.) Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out to the size of your cutting board, starting in the centre and rolling in a fluid motion, moving your arms and applying gentle pressure instead of pressing down. When you’re about halfway there, roll up the dough on the rolling pin, set aside, and flour the board again. Unroll the dough on the board.

Place the stick of butter on one end of the dough and, using a butter knife or silicone or offset spatula, spread it evenly in long motions over half the dough, leaving a ½-inch (1 cm) border on the edges.

Fold the unbuttered half of the dough over the buttered half. Fold the edges up and in to keep the butter inside. Fold the right and left edges into the centre of the dough and fold in half again to make a book fold.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on the board, then pat the dough down into a perfect rectangle. It should feel smooth. Transfer the dough to the freezer (right on the cutting board, uncovered) for 15 minutes. 

Remove the board from the freezer and gently press a finger into the dough. It should feel pliable. If you feel a shard of butter, it has hardened too much, so leave the dough out for a few minutes. You want the dough and the butter to be closer to the same temperature so the butter doesn’t crack and they roll out smoothly together.

Feta Filling

2 large eggs
2½ cups (325 ml) crumbled feta
**2 sheets of Boreka dough or store bought puff pastry
2 tbsp (30 ml) poppy seeds (optional)
2 tbsp (30 ml)sesame (optional)

In a mixing bowl beat 1 of the eggs and add the feta

Filling the Pastry:

Place the cold sheet of boreka dough on a floured surface **Cut the dough into 8 4-inch squares.

spoon 2 heaping tbsp (30 ml) of feta filling onto 1 half of the square leaving a ½-inch (1 cm) border at the edge.

Fold the dough over into a rectangle and press the edges to seal. Repeat until all the borekas are filled and formed.

Arrange the borekas on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate 1 hour. They should be cold and firm to touch.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (200°C) with a rack on the upper third, beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the borekas, then sprinkle the poppy and/or sesame seeds.

Bake until the dough is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Makes 8 large borekas.

**NB: Many Canadian packages of puff pastry dough have smaller sheets. Use 2 sheets to get 8 borekas.

MUSHROOM BOREKAS Michael Solomonov

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
2 cups (500 ml) mushroom
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped onion
2 garlic cloves minced
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 sheets of the Boreka dough
2 tbsp (30 ml) poppy or sesame seeds

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms, onion, garlic and salt. Cook stirring until the mushrooms and onions are tender and beginning to brown. 

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool. Add 1egg and stir into the mushrooms. Refrigerate until the mixture becomes cold.

To fill the pastry follow the directions for the feta borekas

CULINARY CALENDAR

Oct. 25, 12 –1:15 pm: Museum of Jewish Montreal and the Wandering Chew present a virtual Brazilian-Jewish cooking workshop with Mauricio Schuartz. He’ll share his Bubbe Clara’s Brazilian honey cake recipe. Pay-What-You-Can, with a suggested amount of $18. To access the Zoom link, RSVP with Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/o/the-wandering-chew-4691434761 

Oct. 28, 11am –12 pm: Bernard Betel Centre: Virtual Cooking Club: Persian Rice & Lentils with Maryam Roozbeh. To register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Nov. 8, 2–3:30 pm: Building the Jewish& Cookbook: Pizza Napoletana with Kat Romanow 

Hosted by the Miles Nadal JCC & The Wandering Chew

https://www.amilia.com/store/en/miles-nadal-jcc/shop/activities/2864377

Colder Weather Calls for Warming Soups

Oct. 17, 2020 

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. The High Holidays are over, the weather is changing, and COVID case numbers in Toronto are on the rise, so I’m bracing for a long and not very social winter.

We had what was probably our last family dinner for a while on Thanksgiving. We ate lunch in the backyard, wearing our jackets to stay warm.

With the colder weather starting, I’ve also been in the mood for warming foods like hardy soups and starchy side-dishes. Comfort food may be good for the soul, but maybe not so good for the hips.

The recipes I’ve chosen this week are hardy and healthy. The three soup recipes can be easily paired with salad or some fresh bread for a complete meal.

Cookbook author and national food columnist Bonnie Stern shared some lovely fall recipes in her latest newsletter at: http://foodnews.bonniestern.com.

I tried the Lentil Squash Soup, which was delicious. As a garnish, I used parsley from my garden instead of cilantro.

The Thai Coconut Soup comes from The Living Kitchen: Healing Recipes to Support Your Body During Cancer Treatments and Recovery by Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman.

I found the Mushroom Cauliflower Soup recipe in The Silver Platter Simple Elegance: Effortless Recipes with Sophisticated Results. This cookbook was written by Daniella Silver, with tips and techniques by the late food maven Norene Gilletz.

LENTIL SQUASH SOUP Bonnie Stern

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion or leek (trimmed and well-cleaned), chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 inch (3 cm) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) curry paste
1½ lbs (650 g) winter squash (e.g. butternut, buttercup, acorn, kabocha), peeled and cut into about 1-inch (2½ cm) chunks, approximately 4–5 cups (1¼ L)
¼ cup (60 ml) red lentils
4 cups (1 L) water (or vegetable broth) + more if necessary
1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt plus more to taste
1 tbsp (15 ml) lime or lemon juice
½ cup (125 ml) coconut milk or whipping cream, divided (optional)

Gently cook the onions or leeks and garlic in olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and curry paste and cook for 1–2 minutes.

Add the squash and lentils and combine well. Add the water or broth and bring to a boil. Add salt. Cook 25–30 minutes until the squash is very tender and the soup has thickened.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or food processor or blender. Return the soup to the heat and stir in the lime juice and half the coconut milk or cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, top the soup with pumpkin seeds, cilantro and a drizzle of the remaining coconut milk or cream. Makes 6 servings.

THAI COCONUT SOUP Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman

1 tbsp (15 ml) virgin coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1½ inches (4 cm) ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups (375 ml) de-stemmed, cleaned and chopped brown cremini mushrooms
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
14 oz (398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
3 cups (750 ml) chicken, bone or vegetable broth
1 cup (250 ml) snow peas, sliced in half lengthwise
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp (10 ml) tamari

Optional proteins: 2 small chicken breasts, or 1 cup (250 ml) cubed organic tofu, or 2 5-oz (140 g) portions of cod.

Place a large pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil and the onions. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes, or until translucent and soft. Add the ginger, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and red peppers and sauté for 3 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk and broth. Add the optional proteins. Cover the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables and protein are cooked. Add the snow peas and simmer for 2 more minutes.

If chicken or cod is included, remove from the broth, shred or flake into small pieces and put back into the soup. Garnish with fresh cilantro, lime juice and tamari. Serve hot. Makes 4–5 servings.

MUSHROOM CAULIFLOWER SOUP Daniella Silver

1–2 tbsp (15–30) oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tsp (10 ml)
6 cups (1½ L) button mushrooms, sliced
1 large head cauliflower, cored, cut into small florets
6 cups (1½ L) water or vegetable broth
2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp (5 ml) minced fresh thyme leaves, plus additional whole thyme leaves, for garnish.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 6–8 minutes, or until softened. Add the mushrooms; sauté for 5 minutes longer, until softened. Stir in the cauliflower, water, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, stirring occasionally and simmer partially covered for 30–40 minutes, or until the cauliflower has softened.

Cool slightly. Using an immersion blender, process the soup until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little water or broth.

Adjust the seasonings to taste. Garnish with additional thyme leaves. Makes 8 servings.

Apple Cake and Pumpkin Challah Are Festive Fall Holiday Dishes

Oct. 9, 2020 

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN 

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Samayach, and Happy Thanksgiving. Welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. This weekend we celebrate Sukkot, Simchat Torah as well as Thanksgiving.

I always associate apples with Simchat Torah. The holiday evokes childhood memories of me marching in the synagogue social hall waving an Israeli flag topped with an apple.

In memory of those Simchat Torah celebrations, I have chosen a recipe for a healthy apple dessert. Apple-Licious Cake, from the late Norene Gilletz’s last book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory.

Thanksgiving conjures images of sweet potatoes and pumpkins. I found a delicious sweet potato recipe in Simple, a popular cookbook by Israeli celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi. His Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa is very festive, as is Pumpkin Challah. Both dishes would be good choices for Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Thanksgiving.

The pumpkin challah is adapted from a Maple Kabo-Challah recipe I acquired from Building the Jewish& Cookbook, a monthly virtual cooking program offered through the Miles Nadal JCC.

Lauren’s Pumpkin Kabo Challah

APPLE-LICIOUS CAKE Norene Gilletz

6 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (Cortland, Spartan, or Honeycrisp
Sweetener equivalent to ¼ cup (60 ml) brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tsp (10 ml) ground cinnamon.

Batter:

½ cup (125 ml) whole blanched almonds, or 1½ cup (125 ml) almond meal.
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (160 ml) sugar
1tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract 
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
½ cup (125 ml) unsweetened applesauce
1¼ cups (310 ml) whole wheat flour
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder 
½ tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon 
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray a 7 × 11-inch (18 × 28-cm) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Filling: In a large bowl, combine the apples with sweetener and cinnamon; mix well and set aside.

Batter: In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process almonds until finely ground, about 25–30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, oil, and applesauce to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Don’t insert the pusher into the feed tube while processing. 

Add the ground almonds along with flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; process just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, spread about half the batter in the prepared pan. Spread the apple filling evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter and spread evenly. Some of the apples will peek through. 

Bake for 50–60 minutes, until golden brown.

Norene’s Notes:

Berry good variation: Replace half the apples with your favourite berries, for a total of 4–5 cups (1–1.25 L) fruit.

Nut allergies? Replace the almonds with either ½ cup (125 ml) wheat germ or whole wheat pastry flour.

SWEET POTATO MASH WITH LIME SALSA Yotam Ottolenghi

2 lb 2 oz. (1 K) sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half lengthwise
¼ cup/ (60 ml) olive oil, divided
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C)

Rub the potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil and season with ¼ tsp (2 ml) salt. Place the potatoes on a parchment-lined, baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for 30–35 minutes, until very soft.

Prepare the salsa: While the potatoes are roasting make the salsa. Put the remaining oil in a bowl. Add the basil, cilantro, garlic, lime zest, lime juice and a good pinch of salt. Stir to combine. 

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins or scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Mash the flesh together with 1/8 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper until smooth.

Transfer the mashed potato to a platter. Create divots in the surface and spoon the salsa evenly over it. Serve hot as a side dish.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

The Miles Nadal JCC is offering virtual cooking classes. Lauren Schreiber-Sasaki, a Jewish life programmer at MNJCC, runs Jewish&, programs geared to multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic members of the Jewish community. “Jewish& celebrates Jewish diversity,” she said.

COVID restricted in-person programming, so Schreiber-Sasaki said she came up with “Building The Jewish& Cookbook,” a monthly online cooking program that brings the Jewish& group together along with other interested participants.

“Building The Jewish& Cookbook” focuses on recipes that blend various traditions and cultures. I signed up for the Maple Kabo-Challah class led by Carmel Tanaka, a community engagement professional based in Vancouver.

This unusual Japanese-style challah incorporates kabocha, a Japanese pumpkin (canned pumpkin purée can be substituted). Her recipe reflects her Jewish and Japanese heritage. Her mother is Israeli and her father is Canadian of Japanese heritage.

Tanaka calls herself Jewpanese and has even started a monthly virtual event with others of similar heritage. She is also the founder of JQT Vancouver, a Jewish-queer-trans nonprofit.

Tanaka said she learned to make challah when she worked at Hillel. She was taught the basic recipe by the late Robbie McConnell of the Montreal Gazette. His recipe is the foundation for her maple kabo-challah.

The next episode of “Building The Jewish& Cookbook” will be held on Nov. 8 and will feature Montrealer Kat Romanow. She is known for her Wandering-Chew food tours of Montreal’s old Jewish neighbourhoods. 

To register: https://www.amilia.com/store/en/miles-nadal-jcc/shop/activities/2864377

MAPLE KABO-CHALLAH Carmel Tanaka

Braided Kabo Challah

1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water, divided
1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar 
1 tbsp (15 ml) instant yeast (2 packages) 
¼ cup (60 ml) honey or maple syrup
¼ cup (60 ml) neutral-flavoured oil (i.e. corn, grape seed, etc.)
1 cup (250 ml) kabocha* (prepared in advance)
4 eggs, divided
1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
4–4.5 cups (1 L) unbleached all-purpose flour
Additional flour if necessary.
1 egg yolk mixed with water for egg wash.
Poppy seeds, black or white sesame seeds, preferably toasted
Maldon sea salt flakes (optional)
*NB substitute pumpkin purée for kabocha 

Prepare the kabocha:

Oil for brushing 

Cut the kabocha in half. Scoop out the seeds. Brush the kabocha with oil.

Bake at 350°F (180°C) until the kabocha is soft so you can poke your fork through easily and the edges begin to caramelize. Mash and let cool. This step can be done ahead.

Prepare the Pumpkin Purée:

Place a cheesecloth over a container (an elastic band can secure the cheesecloth). Place a scoop of canned pumpkin purée on the cheese cloth and let the liquid drain into the container. Continue until you have 1 cup of drained pumpkin purée. Discard the liquid. This step can be done ahead

To Make the Challah:

In a small bowl combine the kabocha or the pumpkin purée with 1 lightly beaten egg and set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer dissolve the sugar in ½ cup (125 ml) warm water. Sprinkle the yeast in the water and let stand 8–10 minutes until foamy. 

Once the yeast is activated add the remaining water, oil, honey or maple syrup, salt and mix well.

Roughly beat the eggs in a small bowl and add to the mixing bowl. Incorporate all the ingredients well. Add the kabocha or pumpkin purée and mix well.

Add the flour by cupfuls to the egg and pumpkin mixture and incorporate. Mix until the dough is shaggy and still a little moist, adding small amounts of flour or water if necessary. A dough hook can be used.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should not be sticky. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turn to make sure all the surfaces are greased. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp towel and let rise in a warm place. After 1 hour, punch down the dough to remove the air pockets. Let the dough rise for another hour. 

Punch the dough in the bowl to remove any additional air pockets. Turn the dough out onto to a floured surface or a sheet of parchment paper. Knead for 2 minutes before shaping.

To shape: 

Traditional braided challah: Divide the dough in half. Divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into 3 long strands. Braid them loosely tucking the ends under. Repeat with the remaining dough to form a second loaf. 

Pumpkin-shaped challah: Divide the dough in 4 equal balls. Using a long thread or butcher twine tie each ball in a way that the ball is divided into 6–8 parts.

Do not tie the balls too tightly as they will continue to rise during the second proofing and baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (160°C) Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and leave them to rise for 30 minutes.

Transfer the bread to two parchment-lined baking sheets. When the bread has risen, mix a few drops of water to the reserved egg yolk and brush the wash onto the entire surface of the loaves or balls.

Sprinkle on the poppy or sesame seeds and the Maldon sea salt flakes if using. Then slide the bread into the preheated oven. Bake for 25–40 minutes. Halfway through the baking, rotate the trays to get even baking on all sides.

With a Stethoscope and a Spatula

Oct. 6, 2020

By SHARON GELBACH

The festivals of Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret are the pinnacle of the High Holidays, celebrating the gathering in of the harvest. But does the more-than-weeklong feasting with family and friends mean that we must resign ourselves to excess weight?

“Not at all,” pronounced Dr. Rani Polak, founding director of both the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard University’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and of the Center of Lifestyle Medicine at Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

Dr. Rani Polak
Dr. Rani Polak

From his work teaching the little-known science of culinary medicine in Israel and the United States, Polak and his team have observed that once people learn not only what constitutes a healthy diet and how to acquire sustainable skills and techniques, “they can enjoy all the traditional foods while staying within the rubric of a healthy lifestyle and optimal weight.”

Polak is not your run-of-the-mill doctor. In the middle of his medical training, frustrated by the lack of direct connection with patients, he took a year off and traveled to Australia. There, he was able to pursue his passion for gourmet cooking, and completed a professional chef’s course at the famed Cordon Bleu cooking school.

In a seminal “aha” moment, it occurred to him that he could integrate his love of cooking with his medical knowledge to help promote good health – an understanding that led him back to medical school to complete his training, and subsequently, to a fellowship at Harvard.

Polak described what his Culinary Healthcare Education Fundamentals (CHEF) coaching program offers beyond information provided by a dietitian.

“Until very recently, the medical profession was focused mainly on knowledge – what constitutes healthy foods,” he explained. “A dietitian will tell you what your plate must look like, but not how to apply that knowledge.

“Look,” he continued, “Western civilization has access to the greatest abundance of food in the history of mankind, not to mention information and technology. And yet, obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions, and we’re also seeing a steady rise in cancers and heart disease, conditions which can be prevented with lifestyle modifications, including proper nutrition. Clearly, there is a gap between what we know and what we do.”

Polak’s work addresses that gap through coaching that takes into account individual needs, habits and preferences. Obstacles are identified and skills are taught to reinforce constructive behaviour.

He and his team are currently in the midst of a four-year study researching the effects of home cooking on weight loss — all the more relevant these days given the newly aroused interest in cooking spurred by COVID lockdowns and restaurant closures.

Even more presciently, the team employed telemedicine (“We used Zoom long before anyone heard of the coronavirus,” Polak said) for cooking classes.

“When we started with telemedicine, I was skeptical. I’m not only a physician; I’m also a chef. I like to touch food, to taste it. Initially, we thought of it as a way of reducing costs and improving accessibility for people who lived far away. With time, however, we made an amazing discovery that was born out scientifically: enabling participants to learn and practice the skills in their home environment, using their own utensils and appliances, proved far more effective.

“Of course, it doesn’t have to be ‘either or.’ With our hybrid programs, we bring participants to a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen for the opening session. That way, we get to know one another and have a chance to socialize. Then, we continue with Zoom meetings, where we all cook together.”

Polak noted that the Mediterranean diet has been proven to have the highest adherence rate over time, and it’s the one used in his team’s study.

Still, he’s wary of a one-size-fits-all approach.

“I work together with other departments at Sheba, and sometimes patients are sent to me with doctors’ recommendations for a different diet, such as one low in carbs.

“Overall, though, I’ve found that when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the long term, behavioral techniques are what will make it or break it.”

He believes that one of the most important behavioral skills to acquire is time management.

“Home cooking is by definition more time-consuming than buying ready-made or processed food, and of course, time is a rare commodity in our society. One important tip I teach is to cook in bulk, as simple as it sounds. Sometimes, that can mean just one ingredient; for example, instead of cooking a cup of legumes, cook the whole package, and freeze the rest as a shortcut for the next time. Your freezer is an important asset.”

Polak won’t discourage those who insist on their favourite traditional foods, even those that are high in fat and sugar.

“It really depends on the individual and how strict he decides to be. But there is no evidence-based study indicating that eating those foods very occasionally is harmful to health. Even the Mediterranean diet allows for some wiggle room. So, I’d say moderation is key.”


Sharon Gelbach grew up in Toronto, studied journalism at Carleton University, and moved to Israel in 1982. She lives in the Jerusalem area with her family. A writer, editor and translator, among her many projects are writing PR content for the Sheba Medical Center.

The Fall Harvest Offers Plenty of Delicious Options For Sukkot

Oct. 2, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and chag samayach. Welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. Tonight is Erev Sukkot; the week-long holiday, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, commemorates the years the Jewish people spent in the desert after the exodus from Egypt and celebrates God’s protection during that time.

Usually, eating outdoors is a novelty, but Sukkot this year will be a continuation of what many of us have been doing for most of the summer due to the pandemic. Dining al fresco with family and friends has been a safe way to observe the holidays and special occasions during COVID.

Amy Stopnicki, the award winning cookbook author and food blogger (@amyskoshertaste; she has 17,000 followers) said that many of the dishes she serves on Sukkot utilize seasonal produce.

“Sukkot is the beginning of the fall harvest and ‘thanks giving,’” she said. “Traditionally I serve a ‘thanks giving’ dinner. I’m very much into the seasonal foods.”

While her sukkah can accommodate 15-20 people, she’ll be hosting fewer people this year. “The guests will be limited, but I’ll be maintaining the tradition.”

With COVID, Stopnicki, said she does not serve food on big platters, family style, when she invites people outside her immediate family.

“I’m plating the food and bringing it out on individual plates. I want everyone to be comfortable. I also think individually plated meals are more festive.”

She said she usually includes a side of green vegetables, like green beans or Brussels sprouts, to balance the fall colours on the plate (green, she pointed out, is a complementary colour.) Stopnicki created a calendar with 13 recipes and 14 photographs for Savours Fresh Market.

She is generously sharing three of her favourite Sukkot recipes here: Maple Glazed Turkey Breast and Pumpkin Loaf can be found in her award-winning cookbook Kosher Taste: Plan Prepare Plate. The Pomegranate Salad recipe is on her Web site, amystopnicki.com.

MAPLE GLAZED TURKEY BREAST Amy Stopnicki

Maple glazed Turkey Breast
Photo Michelle Manzoni

½ cup (125 ml) maple syrup
½ cup (125 ml) plum sauce
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 lbs (500–1000 g) turkey breast, bone-in, skin-on

Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).

In a mixing bowl, combine the maple syrup, plum sauce, oil, onion, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the turkey breast and let it marinate at room temperature for 30–40 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a baking pan and cover. Bake in the preheated oven for 2½ hours. Remove the cover and continue cooking for another 30–40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or until the top of the turkey is golden brown. Let cool before slicing. Makes 6 servings. 

MULTIGRAIN POMEGRANATE SALAD Amy Stopnicki

2/3 cup (200 ml) cooked quinoa
2/3 cup (200 ml) cooked brown rice
2/3 cup (200 ml) cooked lentils
1/3 cup (100 ml) pomegranate seeds
1 cup (250 ml) roasted sweet potatoes, cut into ½ inch (1½ cm) cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl combine the quinoa, brown rice, lentils, pomegranate seeds and garlic. Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Makes 4–6 servings.

PUMPKIN LOAF Amy Stopnicki

1½ cups (325 ml) flour
2/3 cup (200 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
½ tsp (2½ ml) ground ginger
1/3 cup (100 ml) canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) pumpkin purée
1/3 cup (100 ml) water
2 tbsp (30 ml) roasted sunflower seeds 
2 tbsp (30 ml)roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ground ginger in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add the oil, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin purée, and water and mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and top with the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Bake for 40–50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Makes 8–10 servings.

Break Fast Will Be A Tasty But Small Gathering This Year

Sept. 25, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. The pandemic has certainly changed the way we observe the High Holy Days. While many synagogues were nearly empty, several congregations attempted to bring the service to the people by blowing shofars in parks and parking lots across the GTA.

I ended up hosting an impromptu Rosh Hashanah dinner, al fresco, because at the last minute, my sister and I decided our numbers were too high for the whole family to celebrate safely together.

She gave me her extra brisket and I brought her challahs from the iconic Harbord Bakery, which has been supplying challahs, rye bread and other traditional fare since 1928.

Harbord Bakery is the focus of this week’s Community Spotlight, an occasional “Kitchen Talk” feature on how Canadian Jewish food entrepreneurs and chefs are faring during COVID.

My sister will not be hosting her annual big, break fast gathering this year, so I’ll be preparing a dairy meal for my immediate family. I’m planning to make Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt, a delicious vegan recipe from Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/02/stuck-pot-rice-with-lentils-and-yogurt/

I’ll also serve my sister’s signature break-fast dish – blintz soufflé. The recipe I use is from the 1993 edition of Kinnereth Cookbook published by Toronto Hadassah-WIZO. 

I found a recipe for Apple Charlotte, in Second Helpings, Please!, the storied community cookbook edited by the late Norene Gilletz and published by B’nai Brith Canada.

Apple Charlotte is comprised of a buttered baked bread shell filled with spiced sautéed apples. The recipe was probably devised in an era when every scrap of food, including stale bread, was utilized. The Second Helpings recipe calls for sliced white bread, but I made mine with leftover challah. I also increased the amount of sugar and added cinnamon and lemon juice.

Yom Kippur observance may be different from years past, but adaptability has always been the strength of the Jewish people. G’mar Tov and may you have an easy fast.

STUCK-POT RICE WITH LENTILS AND YOGURT

Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils. Photo Barbara Silverstein

Salt
1 cup (250 ml) lentils washed and picked over
1½ cups (375 ml) basmati rice, rinsed well
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, divided
1 large onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup (60 ml) yogurt or kefir
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice, plus additional wedges for serving
1/3 (90 ml) cup water
2 tsp (10 ml) cumin
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper or pepper flakes
Chopped flat leaf parsley, cilantro or mint for garnish

Using one pot for the full process, boil the lentils in salted water for five minutes. Then add the rice and boil the mixture for another five minutes without stirring. Drain the mixture and place it in a large bowl.

Reheat the same pot with 2 tbsp (30 ml) oil. Once it is hot, add the onions and salt, stirring until they are caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the onions to the bowl with rice and lentils. Stir in the kefir or yogurt, lemon juice, water, cumin, pepper, bay leaf, plus additional salt to taste.

Heat the pot over medium heat. Once fully hot, add the remaining 2 tbsp (30 ml) oil and pour in the rice-lentil mixture. Wrap a clean kitchen towel over the inside of the pot lid, so it is closed firmly. (Gather the corners of the cloth, so it doesn’t reach the fire!) Place the lid on the pot, sealing it tightly.

Reduce the heat to very low. Cook the rice mixture undisturbed for 30 minutes. Check it maybe once, to ensure the rice is not burning. 

Remove the pot from the heat, and let it rest for 5 minutes, before eating. Makes 4 – 6 servings

BLINTZ SOUFFLE

18 assorted frozen blintzes – cherry, blueberry, cheese
5 tbsp (75 ml) butter
6 eggs
2¼ cups (550 ml) sour cream
1½ tsp (7 ml) vanilla
1½ tbsp (25 ml) orange juice
1/3 cup (90 ml) granulated sugar
½ tsp (2 ml) salt
½ tsp (2 ml) cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180 °C)

Melt the butter in a 9 x 13-inch ( 3.5 L) baking dish. Lay the frozen blintzes in the pan.

In a large bowl combine the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, juice, sugar, and salt using a stand mixer, hand beater or immersion blender. Pour the egg and cream mixture over the blintzes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven. Serve hot. Makes 9 – 10 servings

APPLE CHARLOTTE

6 slices of white bread or challah
½ lb (225 g) butter, divided
6 tart apples, peeled, pared & quartered
1 tbsp (15 ml) vanilla
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
½ tsp (3 ml) cinnamon
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon

Whipped Cream Garnish (Optional) 

1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar 
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
Fry the bread in ¼ lb (110 g) butter until it becomes toasted. Set aside

In a large saucepan on medium heat cook the apples in the remaining butter until tender. Add the vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and lemon. Cover the pot,

Line a 1½ quart (1½ litre) casserole dish with the toast on the bottom and sides. Fill the casserole with the apples and cover the apples with the remaining toast. Bake at 325°F (165°C) for ½ an hour.

Whipped Cream: In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in the vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, otherwise cream may become lumpy and butter-like.

To serve: Place a large serving plate on top of the baking dish and invert the charlotte onto the plate so that the bottom of the charlotte is now the top. Cut into slices and serve warm or at room temperature. Optional: add a generous dollop of whipped cream. Makes 8 –12 servings.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

An occasional “Kitchen Talk” series on how Jewish-owned restaurants and food operations in Canada are faring during the pandemic

The Kosower family has run Harbord Bakery (115 Harbord St.) for 75 years. On the morning of Erev Rosh Hashanah I was in line for the yearly ritual of buying crown challahs. The line stretched around the corner as it does on every new year, when people, mainly in and around the downtown core, wait patiently to purchase the bakery’s famed crown or round sweet holiday challahs.

I have often run into people I know, but with everyone in line wearing masks this year, I didn’t recognize anybody. I did, however, schmooze with some people in line with me. I met Karen Goos, a transplanted New Yorker, and Mel Korn, a landsman from Montreal. Of course, we played Jewish geography.

It took about 45 minutes before I left the bakery with nine very heavy sweet challahs – six plain and three raisin – in tow.

Susan Wisniewski, co-owner of the bakery, invited me for tour of the place on a quiet midday afternoon following Rosh Hashanah. For the holidays, the bakery produces more than 2,000 crown challahs.

Albert Kosower, her father, had apprenticed at a bakery in Poland before immigrating to Canada around 1915, Wisniewski recounted. He worked for several Toronto bakeries before landing a job at Harbord.

Kosower purchased the bakery from his boss in 1945 and in the mid ‘50s, expanded and renovated the premises. He and his wife, Goldie, ran the business and lived upstairs with their three children.

Wisniewski said her father always hired unionized bakers. “He wanted his workers to have rights. He had also been a member of a union.” Today all 10 Harbord bakers are unionized, she added.

Wisniewski and her siblings, Roz Katz and the late Rafi Kosower, joined the family business, and now her son, Ben, is the third generation to run the bakery.

In addition to a wide selection breads and buns, the bakery produces gourmet cakes, pies, pastries and cookies, and it offers quiches, salads, soups and other savoury options.

Traditional Jewish dishes like gefilte fish, kugel and tzimmes are prepared every Friday. This kosher-style fare usually very much in demand at holiday time.

However, with the persistence of COVID, there were fewer orders this year, Wisniewski said. People had smaller gatherings.

“I have a big staff to support,” she noted, “but when I look at the restaurants and how they’re suffering [due to COVID], I can’t complain.”

Have a Happy, Healthy and Delicious New Year

Sept. 18, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach. Welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. Rosh Hashanah begins this evening and I would imagine that many readers have already prepared most of the special dishes they’ll be serving this weekend.

With COVID looming large throughout the country, preparing and serving holiday meals will entail safety logistics. I’ll still be celebrating the holiday with my siblings and their children, as we do every year, but we’ll be eating outdoors.

There will be no chicken soup this year but we’ll still be eating brisket, as is customary. In this issue, I’ll be sharing American celebrity chef Michael Solomonov’s recipe for Coffee Braised Brisket, which people may want to try on Sukkot.

Chef Solomonov, author of the award-winning cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, did a Rosh Hashanah food demo for Israel Bonds’ Chef’s Table last week.

I attended three virtual Jewish communal events with Solomonov this summer. Despite winning seven prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards, the culinary equivalent of the Academy Awards, Solomonov is very gracious and humble about his success.

Mangoes have been very plentiful this summer so I am including, cookbook author Daniella Silver’s recipe for Fresh Mango Salad. It’s a quick and simple recipe and a perfect side dish for a holiday supper or lunch. The recipe comes from Silver’s first book, The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular Wholesome Family Recipes, co-written with the late, great food maven, Norene Gilletz.

It’s not too early to think about Break Fast dishes for Yom Kippur. Award-winning food author Amy Stopnicki of Kosher-Taste fame has generously shared her recipe for Spinach Feta Quiche. Follow Stopnicki @amyskoshertaste on Instagram.

MY MOM’S COFFEE BRAISED BRISKET Michael Solomonov

2 tbsp (30 ml) finely ground coffee
1½ tbsp (20 ml) ground cardamom
1½ tbsp (20 ml) ground black cardamom
1 tbsp (15 ml) plus 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt
1 brisket (first cut, about 4 pounds (2 K)
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
2 large onions, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
10 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup (90 ml) tomato paste 
1½ cups (375 ml) dried apricots
2 cups (500 ml) brewed coffee
8 large eggs in their shells
Grated fresh horseradish

Two days before serving: Mix the ground coffee, cardamom, black cardamom, and salt in a small bowl and rub into the brisket. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

One day before serving: Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C). Set a rack inside a roasting pan. Put the brisket on the rack and roast until the exterior has browned, about 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until it reduces slightly, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the roasting pan with the rack removed. Add the brisket, dried apricots, brewed coffee, and eggs in their shells. 

Add enough water to bring the liquid halfway up the side of the brisket. Cover the pan tightly with two layers of foil, return to the oven, and braise for 1 hour.

Remove the eggs, gently tap them all over to make a network of small cracks, and return them to the braise. Continue cooking until the brisket shreds easily with a fork, about 3 more hours.

Let the brisket cool in its braising liquid, then refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Preheat the oven to 350°F (189°C). Slice the cold brisket, return to the braising liquid, and bake until warmed through, about 30 minutes. Spoon the broth over the meat. 

Serve with the peeled eggs and grated fresh horseradish. Makes 8 servings

FRESH MANGO SALAD Daniella Silver

5 ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into long narrow strips
½ cup (125 ml) thinly sliced red onion
½ cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp (30 g) chopped fresh basil

Dressing

¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice (preferably fresh)
1 tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar or honey
½ tsp (3 ml) kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine mangoes with the red onion, parsley, and basil. 

Dressing: combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar; seal tightly and shake well.

Add the dressing to the sliced mangoes and onions and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Makes 6–8 servings

SPINACH FETA QUICHE Amy Stopnicki

6 eggs
½ cup (125 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) grated mozzarella cheese
3 cups (750 ml) baby spinach, cleaned and checked, chopped 
1/3 cup (90 ml) feta cheese
1/3 cup (90 ml) pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
1 ready-to-bake frozen deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 350°F (150°C).

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, cheese, spinach, feta cheese, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the frozen pie shell.

Bake for 35– 45 minutes or until set. Makes 6–8 servings

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT 

An occasional series on how Jewish-owned restaurant and food operations in Canada are faring during the pandemic. 

Community Spotlight is an occasional “Kitchen Talk” feature on how Canadian Jewish food entrepreneurs and chefs are faring during COVID. The pandemic has hit many restaurants and other food businesses very hard.

This week, we shine a light on Lev Levine, 30, owner of the popular restaurant, Lox + Schmear at 1030 St. Clair Ave. W. in Toronto, which is offering its in-house smoked fish despite COVID.

You could call the St. Clair West-Oakwood Ave. area in Toronto “Bagel Central,” as there are three bagel businesses located near each other: Lox + Schmear (1030 St. Clair Ave. W.); What a Bagel! (827 St. Clair Ave. W.) and the Primrose Bagel Company (317a Oakwood Ave.)

Lev Levine, 30, owner of Lox + Schmear, set up the first of the three bagel shops in this mid-town Toronto neighbourhood, now home to a large number of young Jewish families.

Lev Levine

It was three years in June that they opened their shop, Levine said in a recent telephone interview.

Asked about the close proximity of their competitors, Levine replied with a laugh, “As long as people are eating bagels lox and cream cheese, I’m happy. Of course, I’m happiest when they choose my product.”

Lox + Schmear specializes in small batch fish smoking, they said.

“All the fish is smoked in house. It’s the freshest smoked salmon you’ll ever have. It’s really our specialty. We do the whole process. It’s all hand-sliced. There are no additives or preservatives, no artificial flavouring or colourings.”

Before the pandemic, Lox + Schmear was a popular neighbourhood hub known for its loaded cream cheese and lox sandwiches, served on Montreal-style bagels. Levine also offered soups and salad, but the smoked salmon was “king,” they said.

However, in March, Levine closed the restaurant and pivoted to online sales: https://loxandschmear.square.site

While Levine is no longer preparing their famous bagel sandwiches, they’re selling all the ingredients so their customers can make their own.

Along with bagels and cream cheeses, there’s an impressive selection of hot smoked salmon and trout options, as well as Levine’s ever popular house-smoked lox and pastrami-cured smoked lox.

Levine takes orders during the week and the clientele pick up their food on Sunday mornings.

“It’s been going quite well,” they said. “It gave people a sense of comfort when the pandemic started that we were doing all the [food] prep in a safe and thoughtful way.”

Levine grew up eating bagels, lox and cream cheese and this was their preferred dish for breaking the Yom Kippur fast.

CULINARY CALENDAR:

Sept. 22, 2 p.m.: On Lox and Life: The Forward is sponsoring a conversation about all-things-appetizing with Len Berk, the last Jewish lox slicer at Zabar’s, and Melissa Clark, the New York Times food writer and cookbook author. This talk will be moderated by Jodi Rudoren, editor-in-chief of the Forward https://forward.com/culture/452758/september-22-on-lox-and-life/

Sept. 23, 11 a.m. Bernard Betel Cooking Club: Prepare healthy make-ahead breakfasts and snacks with Maria Lindgren https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Traditional Desserts Sweeten New Year Celebrations

Sept. 11, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR. This week, I was thrilled to meet Marcy Goldman, the Montreal-based master baker and author of the iconic cookbook, A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.

Originally published in 1998, it was the first cookbook completely devoted to traditional Jewish baking recipes.

My interview with Goldman was well-timed. A week before Rosh Hashanah, she generously shared two of her most popular holiday recipes, Moist and Majestic New Year’s Honey Cake and Shofar Apple Tart.

Goldman has been baking since she was seven or eight years old, she said in a telephone interview from her home in Montreal. “I was so intrigued by the challenge…Baking ignited a passion that has stayed with me.”

Macy Goldman

She graduated from McGill University with a degree in English literature, but followed her passion and went on to get a pastry chef diploma from the prestigious l’Hotellerie et Tourisme du Quebec in Montreal.

Before earning the accreditation, Goldman started her baking career as an independent specialty cake supplier for cafes and restaurants. “I was baking at home, hawking carrot and cheesecakes,” she recalled.

She even rented a bakery for a time, but said the work was not sustainable once she became pregnant. That’s when she went back to school.

She said wanted to become a food journalist, a career she launched with a story about Montreal bagels for the New York Times. That article led to host of assignments for prestigious U.S. and Canadian publications, such as The Washington Post, Bon Appétit Magazine, Food and Wine, the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and the Montreal Gazette.

Goldman started her popular Web site, BetterBaking.com, in 1997. A year later A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking was published by Doubleday.

Her Caramel Matzah Crunch was lauded as “legendary” by the late food maven, Norene Gilletz.

Goldman has since written 10 other cookbooks. Her latest, The Newish Jewish Cookbook, was published in 2019. This collection of traditional Jewish recipes can be purchased on Amazon or Betterbaking.com. All her cookbooks are available as digital editions.

Goldman said her recipe for Majestic New Years Honey Cake below took years to perfect. It’s “extra moist and sweet and as good on the day of baking as it is days later. In fact, it’s even better as it ages. I went through many variations and tasting sessions until I was satisfied with this definitive cake.”

To round off holiday desserts I was given a recipe for komish from Pamela Permack. Komish, Permack’s signature dessert, is similar to mandelbrot, or Jewish biscotti.

Permack made a batch of komish for her grandson’s (my great nephew’s) bris. She gave me the leftovers as well as her recipe.

MOIST AND MAJESTIC NEW YEAR’S HONEY CAKE

3½ cups (875 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (30 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
½ tsp (2 ml) salt
1 tbsp (15 ml) cinnamon
½ tsp (2 ml) cloves
¼ tsp (1 ml) allspice
1 cup (250 ml) oil 
1 cup (250 ml) honey
1½ (375 ml) cups white sugar
½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) warm coffee or strong tea
3/4 cup (375 ml) orange juice 
¼ cup (60 ml) rye or whisky* 
½ cup (125 ml) slivered or sliced almonds, optional

*If you prefer not to use whisky, replace it with orange juice or coffee.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch (15-cm) angel-food cake pan with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top one with parchment paper. Place the cake pan on that (this prevents the bottom from browning too quickly).

In a large bowl or large food processor, blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the centre, and add the oil, honey, white and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice and rye or whisky. Blend well, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom. This is a thin batter.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with almonds. Place the cake pan on the baking sheet.

Bake in the prepared oven for 55–65 minutes, or/ and until the cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake centre. If the cake seems done but still seems a bit wobbly in the centre, lower the oven temperature and give it 10–20 more minutes. It is very important to give the cake the proper amount of baking time. 

Let the cake stand 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Makes 8–10 servings

SHOFAR APPLE TART

Pastry Dough

2 cups (500 ml) all purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar
½ tsp (2 ml) salt, 
6 oz (200 ml) unsalted butter, shortening *or unsalted margarine, in small chunks, 
3–6 tbsp (45-90 ml) cold water

Filling:

5–7 large apples (such as McIntosh or Golden Delicious), peeled, cored, and diced, 
2 tbsp (30 ml) unsalted butter or margarine, in small pieces, optional, 3/4 cup (210 ml) sugar
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp (1 ml) cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
¼ cup (60 ml) honey

Egg Wash

1 egg 
2 tbsp (30 ml) water
sugar for sprinkling

*If using shortening, use half butter flavoured and half neutral

For the dough: In a food processor, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter (or shortening or margarine) in chunks and pulse to produce a coarse, crumbly mixture. Add the water and pulse to make a mass or shaggy dough about 30–60 seconds, drizzling in a bit more water if required to make dough hold together. 

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few seconds. Form into a disk, wrap well and chill for 30–45 minutes.

Prepare apples: Place them in a large bowl and toss them with the sugar and butter.

Prepare egg wash: In a small bowl combine the egg and water, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 10–12 inch circle. Transfer it to the baking sheet by folding in the quarters and unfolding it onto the baking sheet. Fill the dough with apples to within 2 inches (5 cm) of the edge. Fold this border inwards and press gently onto the fruit. Brush the border with egg wash and sprinkle on the sugar. 

Alternatively, use a 12-inch tart or quiche pan and place the dough in the pan and proceed as above for a more refined, less rustic crostata.

Place the tart or crostata on a baking sheet and bake until the apples are oozing juices and the coloured and exposed pastry is medium brown, about 35–50 minutes. Take the tart/crostata out of the oven and drizzle in the honey into the apples.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be made a day ahead. Makes 8–10 servings

KOMISH Pamela Permack

3 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) oil
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
3 cups (750 ml) flour, divided
½ tsp (2 ml) salt
2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon
1½ cups (750 ml) chocolate chips
Additional oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 9 x 13-inch (18 x 26-cm) baking pan with parchment paper.

Place the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl or in a stand mixer. Beat together with an electric hand beater or stand mixer. Incorporate 1 cup (250 ml) flour and beat.

Incorporate by hand the remaining 2 cups (500 ml) flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the chocolate chips.

Divide the dough into three logs. Brush the tops with oil and place them in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the logs from the oven. Slice them in 1-inch (2 cm) slices. Turn off the oven and return the slices into the oven for 45 minutes. Makes 24–36 slices.

CULINARY CALENDAR:

Sept. 13–16 Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs’ Annual Rosh Hashanah Market 

Orders for Bela’s Bees Raw Honey and beeswax candles can be made online. https://shoresh.ca/

Place orders before Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. and pick up at one of the following locations: 

Midtown: Oakwood Village, Sept. 13,12–8 p.m.,132 Cedric Ave.
Downtown: Bloorcourt Village, Sept.14, 4–8 p.m., 362 Concord Ave.
Downtown: Annex, Sept. 15, 4 Sept.15, 4–8 p.m., 91 Walmer Rd.
Forest Hill: Sept. 16, 4–8 p.m., 248 Russell Hill Road

Sept. 16, 11 a.m.: Bernard Betel Cooking Club – Prepare Vegan Chipotle Mac & Cheese with Jen MacDonald https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Sept. 22 2 p.m.: On Lox and Life: The Forward is sponsoring a conversation about all-things-appetizing with Len Berk, the last Jewish lox slicer at Zabar’s, and Melissa Clark, the New York Times food writer and cookbook author. This talk will be moderated by Jodi Rudoren, editor-in-chief of the Forward https://forward.com/culture/452758/september-22-on-lox-and-life/

Kitchen Talk: Virtual Cooking Classes Abound in COVID Times

Aug. 28, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the weekly food blog of the CJR.

As I settle into the sixth month of social distancing, there are certain aspects of COVID pandemic that I have come to enjoy. In particular, I am taking advantage of the many virtual educational opportunities, especially online cooking classes.

Yesterday I watched three food demos: How to make blintzes, chopped liver, and sweet noodle kugel. They were presented by Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, co-authors of The Gefilte Manifesto: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Food.

Their classes are part of “A Seat at the Table, a Journey into Jewish Food,” a free series offered until December by YIVO, the Institute for Jewish Research. To register go to https://yivo.org/food

Today, I’ll be going on a virtual tour of St. Petersburg (the one in Russia) from a Jewish perspective, and then at 3 p.m. I’m signed up for a cooking class with cookbook author and national columnist Bonnie Stern. She’ll be teaching participants how to use fresh herbs and phyllo dough.

Carolyn Tanner-Cohen is another Toronto-based culinary expert offering online cooking classes. She has been running the Delicious Dish Cooking School from her home since 2002. She’s been kind enough to share two terrific recipes (below), which would work very well for Rosh Hashanah: Honey Za’atar Chicken Drumsticks and Braised Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa, Zucchini, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts.

Tanner-Cohen said that with COVID, she’s had to reimagine her school. “I had been wanting to refigure my business and change it, but there wasn’t a real need,” she said. “People still wanted engagement in person. Now people are comfortable being at home. This is the new normal.”

Tanner-Cohen has had a following on Instagram (@deliciousdishcooking) for several years. When the pandemic started, she would let her followers know what she was cooking for dinner and list the ingredients. “I was giving out the menu a week in advance with a grocery list.”

People would tune into Instagram Live to watch or cook along with her, she explained. “Every time I made dinner I would be doing it live.”

Tanner-Cohen said she has now increased her Instagram followers from 2,500 to 5,800, and she’s developed a new platform for E-commerce on her Web site, https://deliciousdish.ca/

She began offering cooking classes on weeknights. “I’m doing Zoom classes four nights a week. At 5 p.m., we all cook dinner together.” Her main page has the class schedule for the upcoming month, along with grocery lists. She said there’s a regular group of participants to her classes who have become a community.

On Sept. 14 and 15, Tanner-Cohen will be running a longer, two-part baking class for Rosh Hashanah, and on the following two days (Sept. 16 and 17), she will be preparing the holiday dinner. “If you log in you can make your entire Rosh Hashanah meal with me. We’re going to cook it together and people can freeze it.”

HONEY ZA’ATAR CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS 

Honey Zatar Chicken Drumsticks. Photo credit: Carolyn Tanner Cohen

12 chicken drumsticks
2½ tbsp (40 ml) za’atar, divided
4 tbsp (60 ml) sesame seeds, divided
2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the chicken 
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60 ml) honey

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) convection. Line a sheet with parchment or foil. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper.

Combine 1½ tbsp of the za’atar, 2 tbsp of the sesame seeds, salt and oil in a bowl. 

Rub the oil and za’atar mixture all over the chicken and place the chicken on the lined cookie sheet.

Drizzle the honey all over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle the chicken with the remainder of the za’atar and sesame seeds.

Bake for about 45 minutes. Makes 4 – 6 servings

BRAISED STUFFED PEPPERS WITH QUINOA, ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES AND PINE NUTS

Braised Stuffed Peppers
Braised Stuffed Peppers. Photo credit: Carolyn Tanner Cohen

6 –10 red and yellow bell peppers uniform in size

Filling:

2-3 tbsp (30- 45 ml) olive oil
3 onions, finely chopped
2 zucchini ends removed, grated on a large hole box grater
2 tsp (10 ml) kosher salt
1 tsp (5 ml) sweet paprika
½ tsp (3 ml) pepper
2 large tomatoes grated
1½ cup (375 ml) uncooked quinoa
? cup (90 ml) pine nuts toasted
½ cup (125 ml) chopped parsley

For the Sauce

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup (125 ml) tomato paste
1½ cups (375 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
½ tsp (3 ml) kosher salt
¼ tsp (2 ml) pepper
2-3 whole onions, peeled

Cut the tops off the peppers. With your fingers remove the seeds and membranes and set the peppers aside.

Filling: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil, add the chopped onion and cook on medium heat until golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. 

Add the grated zucchini, toss and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, paprika and grated tomato. Toss to combine the ingredients and let them cook for 1–2 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook another 1–2 minutes. 

Add the pine nuts and parsley and toss. Turn the heat off while preparing the sauce.

Sauce: In a large braising pot with a lid heat the oil on low heat. Choose a pot that will fit the peppers in snugly. 

Add the garlic and sauté for less than 10 seconds. Add the tomato paste, carefully to avoid splattering. Add the stock, whisk to combine the tomato paste with the stock. Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes. Set aside about ¾ cup (220 ml) of sauce. 

In the meantime, stuff the peppers with the filling, about ? cup (180 ml) per pepper. 

Place the peppers in the sauce (cut side up), squeezing the peppers in. The less space the better. If you have any space in between the peppers, fill it with the extra whole (or half) peeled onions (They will flavour the sauce). 

Pour the reserved ¾ cup (200 ml) sauce over the filled peppers. Put the lid on the pot, turn the heat to low and let the peppers simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Makes 6 –10 servings.

CULINARY CALENDAR

Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m. ET: “Braid Along” Challah Workshop led by Bonnie Stern and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein. Presented by City Shul. To register go to https://www.cityshul.com/form/challah.html

Sept. 9, 2 p.m. ET: Ashkenazi Cuisine: Identity, Memory, and Culture: Jeffrey Yoskowitz will be in conversation about Eastern European Jewish cuisine with award-winning author Michael Twitty, and acclaimed cookbook author Leah Koenig. Register for Free at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/9615983422166/WN_THYxFfgSSPmwSuDqAKMPvA


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a long-time contributor to The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemaker’s Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Tablet Magazine.

Menu Planning for Safe Holiday Gatherings

Aug. 21, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to Kitchen Talk, the CJR’s weekly food blog. It’s hard to believe that Rosh Hashanah is less than one month away. Erev Rosh Hashanah falls on September 18.

It may be time to try out some new dishes for the High Holidays, but the pandemic may determine how we serve the meal and the type of dishes we prepare. We still have to be extra mindful of health and safety for any family get-togethers.

COVID certainly affected our Passover seders back in April. There were no dinner guests. In fact, the first seder was my introduction to Zoom.

At the time, social distancing was a relatively new experience. Now it’s a way of life, but at our home, we have eased up. My kids usually visit on Sunday and we eat dinner on the backyard deck.

We have had a few larger family get-togethers – all outdoors – for special occasions. I actually hosted a small wedding in my backyard.

We were very COVID-conscious for the simchah. The bride wore a beautiful white dress with a matching mask. We all wore masks and the intermingling of families was kept to a minimum.

We also served the food very carefully. Everyone got an individually boxed meal. It was beautifully presented, but simple.

I also recently attended a backyard birthday party. People arrived in shifts and every person received a box of party tidbits. It worked out well.

Now my siblings and I are hoping to celebrate Rosh Hashanah together with our children and grandchildren. We’ll all be outdoors and wearing masks. We’ll probably group in nuclear family units. For past celebrations, we set out the various mains and side-dishes on a table, and people served themselves. There will be no buffet this year. My sister and I will be plating or boxing the meal, which has yet to be planned.

I’m starting to experiment with dishes that might work for a holiday boxed meal. I’m thinking that a grain dish can easily be served in individual reusable containers. It can also look festive.

This weekend, I’m going to make Amy Rosen’s Kasha Pilaf, a modern take on the traditional dish. The recipe comes from her book, Kosher Style: Over 100 Jewish Recipes for the Modern Cook.

I’m also going to prepare Balsamic Mushroom Salad, a recipe from another Amy. It’s from Kosher Taste: Plan Prepare Plate, by Amy Stopnicki @amyskoshertaste. The mushrooms can be served warm or at room temperature.

Of course I’ll have to try a dessert. The recipe for Chocolate Tahini Cookies looks really yummy. The recipe can be found in Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman’s book, The Living Kitchen: Healing Recipes to Support Your Body During Cancer Treatment and Recovery.

Cookies can easily be packaged and included in a boxed holiday meal. I can’t say the same for brisket.

KASHA PILAF – Amy Rosen

4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock
2 cups (500 ml) kasha
1 small bunch of kale, fibrous veins removed
1 cup (250 ml) walnut pieces
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups (1 L) button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
¼ cup (60 ml) chopped dill
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp honey

In a medium pot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil, then add the kasha. Bring the kasha back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or until it is cooked. Fluff the kasha with a fork, then tip it into a large bowl to cool.

Rinse the pot and add about 1 cup of water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and add the kale. Cover the pot with a lid and steam for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the kale is tender. Drain and chop the kale and add it to the big kasha bowl.

Wipe out the pot and toast the walnut pieces over medium heat for 3– 4 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add the nuts to the kasha. Drizzle the olive oil into the pot and sauté the red onions over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the quartered mushrooms and cook for about 15 minutes more. Add the onion and mushrooms to the kasha, along with the chopped dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

BALSAMIC MUSHROOM SALAD – Amy Stopnicki

5 large Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned, checked and finely diced
½ pound (250 g) white mushrooms, cleaned, checked and finely diced
5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 shallots, finely diced
¼ cup (60) ml olive oil
½ cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)

Combine the mushrooms, garlic, shallots, oil, and vinegar in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the mushrooms have shrunk to half their size. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. The mushrooms can be served warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

CHOCOLATE TAHINI COOKIES – Tamara Green & Sarah Grossman

1 large egg
1½ cup (125 ml) tahini
½ cup (125 ml) blanched almond flour
½ cup (125 ml) coconut sugar
½ tsp (2½ ml) baking powder
One 3.5 oz (100 g) dark chocolate bar – 70% or higher – coarsely chopped
¼ tsp (1 ml) coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the egg, tahini, almond flour, coconut sugar, and baking powder. It will make a thick, sticky mixture. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Scoop about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of batter and place it on the baking sheet. Continue to do this, spacing each cookie about 2½ inches (10 cm) apart, until you have used all of the dough. If you prefer a larger cookie, scoop 2 tbsp 30 ml) per cookie.

Sprinkle cookies with the coarse salt. Bake in the oven for 8–9 minutes, watching carefully because they can burn easily. They should be just lightly browned on top. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Then transfer to a plate or container for storage. Makes 14 cookies

The cookies can be stored in a cool place in the pantry for two days or in the fridge for one week.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a long-time contributor to The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemaker’s Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Tablet Magazine.

Kitchen Talk: Cooking in the Age of COVID

Aug. 14, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Welcome to “Kitchen Talk,” the CJR’s weekly food blog. “Kitchen Talk” is a mix of food news and kosher recipes from local and international chefs, cookbook authors, and restaurateurs.

We’ve been living with COVID for more than six months and I’ve grown accustomed to preparing more meals at home. I have not been to a restaurant since the onset of the pandemic. I have not even had a Starbucks latte.

One of my favourite activities – shopping at the weekly farmers market in my neighbourhood – was put on hold until this week. I went there ready to splurge on heirloom tomatoes and other delicacies. Sadly, my local market was smaller and quieter. Very few of the regular famers and food vendors were on hand. I did buy some lovely cherry tomatoes and fresh pea sprouts, but it was nowhere near the amount I usually buy this time of year.

Heirloom Tomatoes

On a Sad Note: Dr. Ed Wein has died. Wein co-authored The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory with the late food maven, Norene Gilletz. The book was published in December, just two months before Gilletz’s death. 

Online Cooking Classes: One of the positive developments in response to COVID is the abundance of online cooking classes and/ or cooking demos. Some are free or available at very nominal prices.

A Seat at the Table, a Journey into Jewish Food is a new online cooking course from the YIVO, the Institute for Jewish Research. The seven-week program – it’s free until December – explores the history of Ashkenazi food traditions through lectures and cooking demos.

“A Seat at the Table” features renowned chefs and cookbook authors like Joan Nathan, Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, Lior Lev Sercarz, Adeena Sussman, and Leah Koenig. Scholars and authors giving lectures include Michael Twitty, Alice Feiring, Darra Goldstein, Ilan Stavans, and Toronto’s own Michael Wex.

To access the program go to https://yivo.org/food and hit the register button. You do have to go through several steps to sign up with YIVO, but that also provides access to its Yiddish and other cultural courses.

Cooking Webinars with Bonnie Stern. Bestselling cookbook author, culinary cultural tour guide and national food columnist, Stern will be teaching two online courses, one on working with fresh herbs and the other on challah baking. The organizations running these courses are charging very low fees.

The Fresh Herbs Webinar, featuring a recipe for Cheese and Herb Phyllo Tarts, will be held Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. and is offered through Thornhill Life-Long Learning. For more information, go to: http://thornhilllifelonglearning.com/2020-special-event.

The Challah Baking Course, a “braid along workshop,” which will be co-presented with Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, will be run by City Shul on Sept. 1 at 3:30. To register go to https://www.cityshul.com/form/challah.html

RECIPES:

This week’s recipes include Mushroom Mock Chopped Liver from The Brain Boosting Diet to honour the late Dr. Wein. The Hemp Heart Cucumber Salad comes from Daniella Silver’s latest book, Variations: Simple and Delicious Dishes Two Ways, and Apricot Almond Ruggelach from Desserts by Bonnie Stern.

MUSHROOM MOCK CHOPPED LIVER – Norene Gilletz 

2 cloves garlic
3 medium onions, quartered 
1–2 tbsp (15–30 ml) olive oil
1 pkg (8 oz /227 g) sliced cremini mushrooms (about 2½ cups/625 ml)
¼ cup (60 ml) walnut pieces 
3 hard-boiled eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Drop the garlic through the feed tube of a food processor fitted with the steel blade while the machine is running. Process until minced, about 10 seconds. Add onions and process with several quick on/off pulses, until coarsely chopped.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onions and garlic (don’t bother washing the food processor bowl). Sauté until golden, about 6–8 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick, add a little water.

Add mushrooms and sauté for 6–8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly.

Process walnuts until coarsely ground, about 8–10 seconds. Add onion/mushroom mixture, eggs, salt, and pepper. Process with several quick on/off pulses, just until combined.

Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Norene’s Notes:

Legume lover’s liver: Replace the mushrooms with 1½ cups (375 ml) canned chickpeas or lentils, rinsed and drained (preferably low-sodium or no-salt-added). Sauté the onions and garlic for 8–10 minutes until well browned. 

HEMP HEART CUCUMBER SALAD – Daniella Silver 

Hemp Heart Cucumber Salad. Photo Barbara Silverstein

2 firm ripe tomatoes, diced **
6 baby cucumbers, trimmed and cut into rounds
¼ cup (60 ml) diced red onion
1/3 cup (90 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup (90 ml) chopped fresh mint
¼ cup (60 ml) hemp hearts
** sliced cherry or grape tomatoes can be substituted

Dressing:

¼ cup (60 ml) extra light olive oil
3 tbsp (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced (about ½ tsp or 3 ml)
3/4 tsp (3 ml) kosher salt
black pepper

In a large bowl toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley and mint. Cover and refrigerate.

Dressing: Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and black pepper in a glass jar, seal tightly. Shake well and refrigerate.

Before serving, toss the salad with the dressing and hemp hearts.

APRICOT ALMOND RUGGELACH – Bonnie Stern

Pastry: 

1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
½ cup (125 ml) butter, cold
4 oz (125 g) cream cheese, cold

Filling:

½ cup (125 ml) apricot jam
¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 ml) chopped toasted almonds
1 tsp (5 ml) lemon zest

Topping 

1 egg
1/3 cup (75 ml) course granulated sugar or chopped nuts
Sifted icing sugar

Pastry: Place the flour in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour with your fingers or pastry blender. Cut cream cheese into small pieces and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers or pastry blender. Knead until a ball forms.

Cut the dough in half. Wrap each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Filling: Stir jam until it is spreadable. In a separate bowl combine sugar, nuts, apricots, and zest.

On lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of chilled dough. The larger and thinner the piece, the crispier the cookies will be. Each circle should be at least 9-inch (23 cm) round in diameter. Spread each circle with jam and sprinkle with the almond mixture.

Cut each circle into 12 wedges. Roll up each wedge from the outside edge. Turn the edges slightly to form a crescent. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Repeat until all the cookies are shaped.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Beat the egg and brush the cookies with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the course sugar chopped nuts.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden. Cool on racks and dust with icing sugar.

Makes 24 cookies. Store tightly in a covered container.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a long-time contributor to The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemaker’s Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Tablet Magazine.