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
⅓ 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 ⅔ 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.

More Helpings of Iconic Kosher Cookbook

Aug. 7, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Due to popular demand, Second Helpings, Please!, the iconic kosher cookbook, is back in print.

After 50-plus years, this best-selling Canadian cookbook has returned to its roots: The new edition the 18th is being published by B’nai Brith Canada, the volume’s original publisher 52 years ago.

Second Helpings Please

In 1965 a group of young housewives, all members the same B’nai Brith chapter in Montreal, decided to create a cookbook on a whim. 

The women were good cooks and bakers, but had no experience writing recipes. They also knew nothing about publishing.

The book launched the career of the late Canadian kosher cooking maven Norene Gilletz, the editor of Second Helpings. “When we started, we thought the project would take three months. It ended up taking three years,” she recounted in 2015.

Nevertheless, when Second Helpings finally hit stores in 1968, it was a huge success. The book became one of Canada’s bestselling cookbooks. By 2008, 175,000 copies had been sold worldwide.

One of the many copies tucked away in kitchens everywhere

According to Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, Gilletz was instrumental in bringing the book back into the fold of the organization.

He said Second Helpings had gone out of print in 2008, and until 2017, people were paying large sums for second-hand copies sold online.

In 2017 Gilletz helped get the 17th edition published by Act to End Violence Against Women, the organization that had evolved from B’nai Brith Women.

That run sold out, Mostyn said, noting that the 17th edition had been a photocopy of the original. The 2020 edition, he explained, has been digitized.

“We retyped whole book…It took a lot of work to digitize the book. We put all this effort into the cookbook so we can be assured that it won’t go out of print again,” Mostyn said.

And once this run is completed, there will be 19th edition, he said.

“We’re committed. As long as there’s a demand for the book we’ll keeping publishing future editions. I want my children to have a copy of this book.”

There are slight changes from the original book, like colour tabs for the various sections, he noted. B’nai Brith worked with the cookbook publisher, Whitecap, which will allow for broader distribution of the volume.

“We have heard stories about the book all the way across Canada.

“It’s incredible that what started as a project has spread not just in Canada, but globally,” said Mostyn.

The two recipes below Tangy Sweet and Sour Meatballs and Dutch Apple Cake are among the many classic recipes that have kept Second Helpings in the forefront of classic kosher cuisine since 1968. The newest edition is available at Indigo and Amazon.

TANGY SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS

1½ lbs (750 g) minced MEAT
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
½ tsp (3 ml) pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 ml) matzah meal
1½ (375 ml) cups ketchup
2 cups (500 ml) ginger ale

In a large bowl combine the meat, salt, pepper, garlic, egg, and matzah meal. form the mixture into balls.

Combine ketchup and ginger ale into in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Drop the meatballs into the sauce. Cover and simmer 2 hours.

Makes 6 servings as an appetizer or 4 servings for a meal.

DUTCH APPLE CAKE

375 ml (1½ cups) sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 cup (250 ml) oil
¼ cup (60 ml) water or orange juice
3½ cups (875 ml) all purpose flour 
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
3 lbs (1½ kilo) apples, pared and sliced
½ cup (125 ml) white or brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9 x 13-inch (33 x 23-cm) pan

Sprinkle the apples with ¼ cup (75 ml) sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Combine 1 cup (250 ml) sugar, eggs, oil, and liquid and beat well. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the dry ingredients slowly, kneading in the flour to make a soft dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a 9 x 13-inch (33 x23-cm) rectangle. 

Place the first rectangle into the prepared pan. Top the dough with the prepared apples. Cover the apples with the second rectangular dough and sprinkle the top with remaining sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the top is light brown.


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.

Nine Days of Vegetarian Fare Precede Tisha B’Av

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, is an annual fast day that falls in July or August. This year, the fast begins on the evening of July 29.

Tisha b’Av is one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE. The fast has also become associated with remembrance of the Holocaust.

In the nine days leading to Tisha b’Av, many people refrain from eating meat or poultry. Those nine days of vegetarian eating fall within shloshim or “30 days,” the month-long period of mourning preceding Tisha b’Av.

For those who observe the dietary restrictions during the first days of Av, one can find many books and websites that offer vegetarian recipes. One of my favourite sources is The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory, a cookbook/nutrition guide that was written by the late Jewish food maven, Norene Gilletz and Edward Wein.

Published at the end of 2019, just months before Gilletz’s death last February, The Brain Boosting Diet emphasizes recipes with fresh produce and whole grains.

Not all the recipes are vegetarian but the selection for vegetarian dishes is extensive. I am particularly fond of the Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza. I’ve made it many times with different toppings. It’s a real winner for pizza lovers who want to cut back on their white flour consumption.

I am also a fan of salads with Asian dressings. The Brain Boosting Diet has a variety of options in this category. I have received great feedback for the Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing. The recipe also includes a substitution for the peanut butter, an ingredient that many people avoid due to the prevalence of peanut allergies.

CAULIFLOWER-CRUSTED PIZZA

Cauliflower Crust

1 medium cauliflower, florets only about 4 cups (1 L) finely riced cauliflower
½ cup (125 ml) spelt flour (or any flour you like)
½ cup (125 ml) almond meal/flour
½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
½ tsp (2 ml) garlic powder
1 egg
½ cup (125 ml) finely grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, for brushing

Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza. Photo Barbara Silverstein

Toppings

1 cup (250 ml) shredded smoked or reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (approx.)
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered (approx.)
Big handful of spinach (approx. 3/4 cup/185 ml)
10 fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

To Prepare the Cauliflower Crust

Place an oven rack in the second lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. 

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the cauliflower florets for 25–30 seconds, until they resemble rice. Measure 4 cups (1 L) riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high power for 4 minutes.

Transfer the cauliflower to a clean kitchen towel and let cool. Wrap up the cauliflower in the towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add the spelt flour, almond flour, salt, and garlic powder and stir well. Add the egg and cheese and work the dough with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed.

Spoon the cauliflower mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and carefully spread it out. (Tip: If you place another piece of parchment paper on top and press down it will help keep your hands clean.) Flatten the crust into an oval or round shape, creating a nice, raised edge.

Bake the crust for 12–15 minutes, until golden and set.

Toppings 

Remove the pan from the oven and add the toppings, starting with the cheese. Bake 10–12 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove the pizza from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

Norene’s Notes

Never use parchment paper at temperatures over 425°F (220°C) as it will burn.

Gluten-free option: Replace the spelt flour with gluten-free flour (e.g., chickpea flour, gluten-free oat flour, or all-purpose gluten-free flour).

Nut-free crust: Omit the almond meal and increase the grated mozzarella to 1 cup (250 ml).

Top it up: In Step 7, add a handful of broccoli florets, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, zucchini, and/or diced red onion. Crumbled feta or goat cheese and/or grated Parmesan cheese also make tasty toppings.

KALE SLAW WITH PEANUT DRESSING

Kale Slaw

1 medium bunch kale (about 1 lb/500 g)
1 tbsp (15 ml) canola oil
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage (or one 16-oz/500-g pkg)
2 cups (500 ml) shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ cup (125 ml) diced red onion
½ cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
½ cup (125 ml) toasted slivered almonds (for garnish)

Peanut Dressing/Marinade

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup (60 ml) peanut butter (preferably natural with no added sugar)
2 tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)
2 tbsp (30 ml) honey
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
3–4 tbs (45-60 ml) orange juice (preferably fresh)
Pinch red pepper flakes

Prepare the Peanut Dressing/Marinade as directed and refrigerate until needed.

Dressing

Mince the garlic in a mini prep or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, orange juice, and red pepper flakes.

Process until blended, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little more orange juice.

Store the dressing in a jar in the refrigerator until it’s ready to use. Shake well before using.

Kale Slaw

Wash the kale and dry it thoroughly. Remove and discard the tough stalks and centre veins. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place it in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, massage the kale with oil for 2–3 minutes to break down the tough fibres.

Add the cabbage, carrots, red pepper, onion, and parsley. Drizzle the slaw with the prepared dressing and toss to combine. Refrigerate the slaw covered, to blend flavours.

At serving time, place the slaw into 8 individual salad bowls and top with almonds. Serve chilled.

Norene’s Notes

Peanut butter: Store natural peanut butter in the refrigerator. When needed, stir well, measure the desired quantity, and bring it to room temperature for easier blending. Alternatively, microwave the butter on medium for 30 seconds, then stir well.

Variation: Use almond butter (homemade or store-bought) instead of peanut butter. If you are allergic to peanuts or any nuts, use a peanut butter substitute.


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.

Celebrate Canada Day With Light, Festive Recipes

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Traditionally, July 1, Canada Day, is a celebratory time for young families. When my children were small, we would go to the local park to watch Canada Day fireworks with our neighbours. When the children were older, they marked the holiday at summer camp.

In adulthood, my children would spend the Canada-Day long weekend with friends at cottages they rented together.

But 2020 will be different. With COVID restrictions, there will be no cottage invites or rentals with friends. My children will be coming to our house for dinner. The day will be a throwback to earlier times when the whole family celebrated the day together.

We’re a bigger group now. Two of my sons have partners. There are two grandchildren and even a grand-dog. I’m planning a light, but festive summer dinner.

I’ll be making salmon, a dish I could never serve my children when they were young. Nobody ate fish then, but it’s a real crowd pleaser now.

My salmon recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Simple. The recipes include ratings according to their simplicity and prep time. Bridget Jones’s Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine Nut Salsa is rated “S-I-E”: S – short on time; I – one to 10 ingredients or less; and E – easier than you think.

When I’ve made this dish, I have substituted pecans for pine nuts because the latter is expensive and hard to find.

I’ll also be making cornbread, a special-occasion dish. I found this recipe for Chive Cheese Cornbread on a site called Taste of Home https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chive-cheese-cornbreadChive

Cheese Chive Cornbread
Chive Cheese Cornbread. Photo credit Barbara Silverstein

Sybil Eades of Gainesville, GA contributed this recipe, which offers a nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours.

BRIDGET JONES’S PAN-FRIED SALMON WITH PINE NUT SALSA (Yotam Ottolenghi)

¾ cup (185 ml) currants
4 salmon fillets, 1 lb 2 oz (500g), skin on and pin bones removed 
7 tbsp (105 ml) olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
4 medium celery stalks, cut into ½-inch (1 cm ) dice, leaves removed but kept for garnish
¼ cup (60 ml) *pine nuts or pecans, roughly chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) capers, plus 2 tbsp (30 ml) of their brine
½ cup (125 ml) large green olives, pitted and cut into ½-inch (1 cm) dice (about 8)
1 good pinch or ¼ tsp (2 g) saffron threads, mixed with 1 tbsp (15 ml) hot water
1 cup (250 ml) parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon: finely zested to get 1 tsp (5 ml) then juiced to get 1 tsp (5 ml) 

Cover the currants with boiling water and set aside to soak for 20 minutes while you prep the salmon and make the salsa.

Mix the salmon with 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil, a rounded ¼ tsp (2 ml) salt, and a good grind of pepper. Set aside while you make the salsa.

SALSA

Put 5 tbsp (75ml) of the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the celery and *pine nuts or pecans and fry for 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the nuts begin to brown (don’t take your eyes off them, as they can easily burn). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the capers and their brine, the olives, saffron and its water, and a pinch of salt. Drain the currants and add these, along with the parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Put the remaining 15 ml (1 tbsp) of oil into a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and fry for 3 minutes, until the skin is crisp. Decrease the heat to medium, then flip the fillets over and continue to fry for 2–4 minutes (depending on how well done you like the salmon). 

Remove the salmon from the pan and set aside. Arrange the salmon on four plates and spoon on the salsa. Scatter the celery leaves on top. Makes 4 servings

CHIVE CHEESE CORNBREAD (Sybil Eades) 

1 cup (250 ml) cornmeal
1 cup (250 ml) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 ml) sugar
4 tsp (20 ml) baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) 2% milk
¼ cup (60 ml) butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tbsp (45 ml) minced chives

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) 

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and butter. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Gently fold in the cheese and chives.

Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9-in (23 x 33-cm) baking pan. 

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 18 minutes. 

Cut into strips; serve warm. Makes 9–12 servings.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a freelance writer and food blogger for The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have appeared in Homemakers Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Tablet Magazine.


Bold Side Dishes Make a Father’s Day BBQ Festive

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Mother’s Day is often associated with elegant brunches – crepes, French toast, fancy omelettes and all kinds of poached egg specialities. 

But Father’s Day is all about the meat. Usually, people celebrate with a barbecue of some kind because the weather tends to be warm and many Dads like to flaunt their barbecue prowess.

Some men, like my brother-in-law David, are terrific grill masters. My husband, on the other hand, tends to burn almost everything he barbecues.

In keeping with COVID guidelines, my family will be gathering in our backyard for Father’s Day. A barbecue is the simplest and safest plan for dinner. My husband will be manning the grill, but we’ll be limiting the main course to hot dogs and hamburgers.

I’ll be preparing some side dishes and serving them because a buffet-style spread has to be avoided during the pandemic. 

It’s still asparagus season and Teriyaki Asparagus, will be a nice addition to the meal. This recipe comes from Meal Leani Yumm! 800 Fast, Fabulous & Healthy Recipes for the Kosher (or not) Cook, by the late Norene Gilletz.

You can never go wrong with potatoes. I’ll be baking Hasselback Potatoes. The recipe I’ll be using comes from I Heart Kosher: Beautiful Recipes From My Kitchen by Kim Kushner, a Canadian cookbook author based in New York City. I’ll also be making Kushner’s Sexy Red Kale with Beets & Fresh Dill in Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. This colourful, bold-flavoured salad should give the meal some extra pizzazz.

TERIYAKI ASPARAGUS 

1½ lb (750 g) asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch (5 cm) slices
2 tbsp (30 ml) teriyaki sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
2 green onions, chopped
½ to 1 tsp (3-5 ml) toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) honey 
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh orange juice
½ tsp (3 ml) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp (30 ml) toasted sesame seeds

Soak the asparagus in water and drain well. Place the spears in a 1-quart or (1-lL) casserole and drizzle with the teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with the ginger and green onions.

Microwave on high for 6 or 7 minutes, until the spears are barely tender. Let them stand covered for 3 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, honey, orange juice and mustard. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve immediately. 

To toast the sesame seeds: Place the seeds in a small pan and roast them on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

SEXY RED KALE WITH RED BEETS & FRESH DILL IN MEYER LEMON VINAIGRETTE

Adapted version of Kim Kushner’s Kale with Beets and Fresh Dill Salad. Photo Barbara Silverstein

4 –6 cups (1–1½ L) red kale leaves, washed and stored, roughly chopped
2 Belgian endives, leaves peeled off whole
1 red beet, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup (250 ml ) frozen shelled edamame, thawed and rinsed
1 cup (250 ml) roughly chopped fresh dill
Juice of 3 Meyer lemons
½ tsp (3 ml) whole mustard seeds
¼ tsp (1 ml) crushed dried rose petals (optional)
1 tbsp (15 ml) honey
¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Combine the kale, endive leaves, beet, edamame, and dill in a large bowl or platter. Toss them all together.

Pour the lemon juice into a glass jar, add the mustard seeds, dried rose petals (if using), honey, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Shake well. Spoon the vinaigrette over the salad just before serving. Makes 6 –8 servings.

HASSELBACK POTATOES

6–10 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried
Light olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line an extra large rimmed baking sheet (or 2 regular baking sheets) with parchment paper.

Working with one potato at a time, cut thin slits into the top of the potato from one side to the other, cutting almost, but not all the way through, almost like a fan. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to rub in the seasonings and ensure that the potatoes are completely coated with the oil, salt, and pepper.

Place the potatoes, uncut side down. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the potatoes are crispy and golden, about 30 minutes longer. Makes 6 to 10 servings.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a freelance writer and food blogger for The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemakers Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Tablet Magazine.

Food Celebrities Showcase Delis, Israeli Fare at Jewish Food Fest

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

The Great Big Jewish Food Fest, a 10-day virtual lineup of free programming celebrating Jewish cuisine, ran May 19-May 28. Jewish chefs and food personalities led a variety of cooking classes and hosted discussions on Jewish food and culinary traditions.

Two of the events featured Canadian food personalities: Toronto-based writer David Sax, author of Save-the-Deli, and television cooking show host Gail Simmons.

Sax’s event kicked off the festival. He interviewed delicatessen owners from New York City, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. about the impact of COVID on their restaurants.

The owners were all candid. Business is definitely down, but take-out orders and catering, they said, are sustaining them.

Toronto-born Simmons, a trained culinary expert, is best known for her role as a judge on Bravo’s Emmy-winning series, Top Chef. In addition, she was the host of Iron Chef Canada this year. She lives in New York City, where she is also a food columnist and cookbook author.

For the food fest, she hosted a Shabbat dinner event with cookbook author Adeena Sussman, and chefs and restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Einat Admony. The presenters prepared different courses for a Shabbat dinner.

Within the last year or two, Solomonov, Admony, and Sussman, have all released cookbooks featuring Israeli cuisine.

Simmons introduced Solomonov, a James Beard Award-winning chef, author and restaurateur, as the “Hummus King.” His recipe for 5-Minute Hummus comes from his latest cookbook, Israeli Soul.

The recipe for hummus pitryot, a hummus and mushroom dish, is from his award-winning cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Admony, the owner of several New York City restaurants, prepared Braised Chicken with Olives and Citrus. This recipe can be found in Shuk: From Market to Table, The Heart of Israeli Home Cooking.

The recipes for Sussman’s side dishes, Jeweled Rice and Tahini-Glazed Carrots, are from Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen.

The festival uploaded the recipes of many of the presenters on the event page at https://www.jewishfoodfest.org/recipes so that participants could buy the ingredients in advance, and cook along at the various events.

CJR readers can directly download Solomonov’s, Admony’s and Sussman’s recipes at http://canadianjewishrecord.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/90997-friday_1pm_great_shabbat_cook_along.pdf

Copyright restrictions prevent Sussman’s and Admony’s recipes from being reproduced here. However, the publisher of Shuk sent me another one of Admony’s chicken recipes, Dorot Wot: Ethiopian Chicken, which we are authorized to publish.

Shuk Doro Wot
Shuk Doro Wot (Photo: Quentin Bacon)

Solomonov has garnered six James Beard Awards, the most prestigious culinary honour in the United States.

Last year, his Israeli-style restaurant Zahav, in Philadelphia, was named best American restaurant.

Solomonov was in Toronto about a year ago to do a culinary event for the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada. At the time he generously gave me permission to reprint any of his recipes.

With COVID, however, Zahav and the other 15 restaurants he co-owns with Cook have all been operating at a limited capacity.

5-MINUTE HUMMUS WITH QUICK TEHINA SAUCE (Israeli Soul)

Tehina Sauce

1 garlic clove 
1-16-ounce (500 g) jar tahini
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
1–1½ cups (250 – 375 ml) ice water

Hummus 

2 19-ounce (540 ml) cans chickpeas

Basic Tehina Sauce: Nick off a piece of the garlic (about a quarter of the clove) and drop it into the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl. Pour the tehina on top, making sure to scrape it all out of the container, and add the cumin and salt.

Process until the mixture looks peanut buttery, about one minute, then stream in the ice water a little at a time with the motor running. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy and lightens to the colour of dry sand. 

Hummus: Add the chickpeas to the tehina sauce and process for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, until the chickpeas are completely processed and the hummus is smooth and uniform in colour.

HUMMUS PITRYOT (Zahav) 

1½ cups (375 ml) Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms
2 slivered garlic cloves
2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh dill 
Olive oil for serving
Chopped parsley for garnish

Break up the mushrooms into 1– 2-inch pieces. Place the oil on the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms along with the garlic. 

Cook, stirring until the mushrooms are brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the dill and toss. 

Serve over Hummus-Tehina and top with chopped fresh parsley, paprika and olive oil.

DOROT WOT: ETHIOPIAN CHICKEN (Shuk)

2 tbsp (30 ml) kosher salt, divided
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, separated into thighs and drumsticks 
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil 
2 large onions, finely diced or chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp (5ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5ml) ground ginger
1 tsp (5ml) ground cardamom
1 tsp (5ml) ground turmeric
1 tsp (5ml) paprika
1 tsp (5ml) ground fenugreek seed or leaf
1 tsp (5ml) freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2¼ cups (560 ml) homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock or water
Additional salt to taste for seasoning
Pepper to taste for seasoning

Rub the chicken with the lemon juice and 1 tbsp salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy-based wide skillet or Dutch oven (large enough to hold the chicken in one snug layer). Add the onions and the remaining tbsp of salt, and sauté gently until fragrant, golden brown, and sweet, about 20 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. 

Add the garlic, cumin, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, fenugreek, and pepper and stir for a minute so the spices bloom in the oil. Nestle the chicken pieces and the eggs into the pan and pour in the broth. 

Cover the pan and adjust the heat to a solid simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Then remove the lid so the sauce will reduce and thicken a bit and continue to simmer another 45 – 60 minutes, until the chicken is very tender when poked with a knife and the juices run clear, or until the thickest part of the thigh or drumstick reaches 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer. 

Taste and adjust with more salt or pepper. Serve with flat bread or rice to mop up the sauce. Makes 6–8 servings.

Remembering Canada’s Kosher Julia Child

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

May 29, the first day of Shavuot, would have been the 80th birthday of Norene Gilletz, Canada’s first lady of kosher cuisine. She died in Montreal this past winter after a long illness.

Some people have referred to Gilletz as Canada’s kosher Julia Child or the Jewish Martha Stewart. Gilletz had a huge influence on Canadian kosher fare.

Norene Gillitz (Photographer: Doug Gillitz)

She was the editor of the storied kosher cookbook, Second Helpings, Please! The Canadian best-seller it was originally published in 1968 sold more than 150,000 copies. The book launched Gilletz’s culinary career. She went on to write11 more cookbooks. 

Her last book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory, which she co-wrote with Dr. Edward Wein, was published just months before her death.

Gilletz was a much beloved community figure. One of her proudest achievements was the founding of Norene’s Kitchen, an international Facebook community of 10,000 plus like-minded people who are l connected through a shared love of food and their Jewish heritage.

Gilletz left a huge culinary legacy. Healthy eating was an important theme in many of her cookbooks, but she never sacrificed taste. Here are three of her vegetarian recipes – they’re all from The Brain Boosting Diet – to enjoy on Shavuot. 

Venezuelan Guacamole would appeal to guacamole aficionados. The Venezuelan version calls for hearts of palm to be incorporated into the avocado dish. This appetizer is lighter tasting, but just as flavourful as traditional guacamole. 

Gilletz’s recipe for Smashed Potato Latkehs is easy and great comfort food. Pair the potatoes with a healthy dollop or two of sour cream.

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing is tasty with lots of crunch and a rich Asian dressing.

VENEZUELAN GUACAMOLE (GUASACACA) by Norene Gilletz

1 can (14 oz/ 398 g) hearts of palm, well drained
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh parsley
1 small onion
1 large clove garlic, about 5 ml (1 tsp), minced
½ green or red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium tomato, quartered
1 firm, ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 tbsp (15 m1) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 m1)  lemon juice (preferably fresh)
½ tsp  (2 ml) salt 
¼ tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the hearts of palm, cilantro, and parsley with quick on/off pulses, until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. You should have about (1 cup) 250 ml.

Process the onion, garlic, and bell pepper with quick on/off pulses, until coarsely chopped. Add the tomato, avocado, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Process with quick on/offs pulses, until it’s finely chopped.

Add this mixture to the hearts of the palm mixture and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface. Refrigerate up to 4 days. Serve chilled. 

SMASHED POTATO LATKES

12 baby red-skinned potatoes
Lightly salted water
1-2 tbsp  (15-30 ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Additional seasonings to taste: basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

Place the potatoes in enough lightly salted water to cover them.

Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are fork-tender.

Drain the potatoes 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 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, making a flat disc. Round off any ragged edges by pushing them together with your fingers.

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

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden and crispy. If desired, turn the potatoes over halfway through the baking and brush the tops with oil. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

KALE SLAW WITH PEANUT DRESSING

Slaw

1 medium bunch kale (about 1 lb/500 g)
1 tbsp (15 ml) canola oil
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage (or one 16-oz/500-g pkg)
2 cups (500 ml) shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ cup (125 ml) diced red onion
½ cup (125 ml) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
½ cup (125 ml) toasted slivered almonds (for garnish) 

Peanut Dressing/Marinade 

2 cloves garlic
¼ cup (60 ml) peanut butter (preferably natural with no added sugar)
2 tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)
2 tbsp (30 ml) honey
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
3–4 tbsp (45–60 mL) orange juice (preferably fresh)
Pinch red pepper flakes

Mince garlic in a mini-prep or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, orange juice, and red pepper flakes. Process until blended, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If too thick, drizzle in a little more orange juice.

Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use. Shake well before using.


Barbara Silverstein
Barbara Silverstein

Barbara Silverstein is a Toronto-area journalist and an award-winning food writer. She was a freelance writer and food blogger for The Canadian Jewish News. Her articles have also appeared in Homemakers Magazine, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Tablet Magazine.

Cheesecake Sweetens Torah Study on Shavuot

By: BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

Shavuot begins on the evening of May 28. Because Jews abstain from meat on this day, a variety of dairy dishes like blintzes and cheese kugel have become the traditional holiday fare. A healthy serving of cheesecake usually caps off the festive meal.

It is common for people to stay up all night to study Torah on Shavuot. Cheesecake often provides them with sustenance for this endeavour.

With the social distancing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the configuration of Torah study groups may be different for Shavuot 2020, but the consumption of cheesecake need not change.

However, over the course of this pandemic, there has been a lot of chatter about people growing wider around the middle and developing what has come to be known as the COVID-19 Bulge. Perhaps for some people a low-calorie cheesecake may be a good option for Shavuot this year.

In her last cookbook, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory, the late Norene Gilletz offered a calorie-reduced cheesecake recipe, “Basic Mini-Cheesecakes,” with variations that could “expand your repertoire,” she wrote, “without expanding your hips!”

Another more calorie-laden option is Anna Olson’s recipe for key lime cheesecake.  Olson is a Canadian celebrity pastry chef, and Food Network personality. This cheesecake recipe is delicious but there are quite a few steps. I used a food processor to make the cheesecake base.

Find the recipe here:

https://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipe/key-lime-cheesecake/12532/

One of my favourite Gilletz desserts is the chocolate cheesecake recipe from her classic cookbook, The Food Processor Bible. The cake looks and tastes great, with or without the whipped cream and chocolate curl garnish.

Basic Mini-Cheesecakes (Norene Gilletz)

1/3 cup (80 ml) finely chopped almonds or pecans

2 cups (500 ml) light cream cheese (1 b/500 g)

Sweetener equivalent to 2/3 cup (160 ml) sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice (preferably fresh)

12 large whole strawberries, hulled

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line each compartment of a muffin pan with a paper liner and sprinkle some chopped nuts in the bottom of each.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the cheese with sweetener until blended, about 15 seconds. Add the eggs and lemon juice. Process for 20 to 30 seconds, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan compartments.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until set. Once cooled, top each cheesecake with a whole strawberry. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight. Serve chilled.

Variation 1

Replace half the cream cheese with pressed cottage cheese. Increase the processing time to 1 minute until the mixture is very smooth.

Variation 2: Praline Mini-Cheesecakes:

Replace the sweetener with brown sugar sweetener. Instead of strawberries, top each cheesecake with a pecan half.

KEY LIME CHEESECAKE (Anna Olson)

Coconut Crust

1½ cup (375 ml) sweetened flaked coconut
¼ cup (60 ml) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
1 large egg white, at room temperature

Cheesecake Base

3 250 g packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 300 ml tin sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly grated lime zest
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
** ½ cup (125 ml) fresh lime juice

Lime Curd

2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
**1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated lime zest
**½ cup (125 ml) fresh lime juice
½ cup (125 ml) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream

Topping

1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
1 tbsp (15 ml) instant skim milk powder
2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar
½ tsp (3 ml) vanilla extract
½ cup (125 ml) fresh blueberries, for garnish

**NB Lemon can be substituted for lime

Preheat the oven to 350° (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan and place it onto a baking tray.

Crust: Stir the coconut, sugar and flour together. Whisk the egg white until frothy and then stir it into the coconut. Press this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan (if you are finding it sticky, wet your fingers with water before pressing). Bake the crust for about 18 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and then cool before filling.

Cheesecake: Lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C). Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Beat in the zest and vanilla, then on a lower speed; beat in each egg and the yolk one at a time. Still on low speed, beat in the lime juice. Pour this over the cooled crust and bake for about 40 minutes, until the outside of the cheesecake is set, but the centre still has a little jiggle to it. Prepare the lime curd as the cheesecake cools.

Lime Curd: Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lime zest and juice in a metal bowl. Whisk in the butter and sour cream and place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, whisking often, until the lime curd has thickened, about 10 to15 minutes. Strain the curd and spread this gently over the cheesecake. Once fully cooled to room temperature, chill the cheesecake for at least 6 hours (do not cover with plastic wrap).

Topping: Whip the cream and skim milk powder to a soft peak. Stir in the sugar and vanilla and spread this over the cheesecake, leaving two inches of the lime curd visible around the outside. Top the cream with blueberries and chill until ready to serve.

The cheesecake will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

 Anna Olson’s key lime cheesecake (photo: Barbara Silverstein)

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (Norene Gilletz)

Crust

1 3/4 cups (430 ml) chocolate wafer crumbs
½ cup (125 ml) butter or margarine, melted
2 tbsp (30 ml) granulated or brown sugar
½ tsp (3 ml) ground cinnamon

Cheesecake base

2 cups (500 ml) chocolate chips
2 cups (500 ml) or 500 g (1 lb) light or cream cheese cut in chunks
3/4 cup (185 ml) granulated sugar
4 eggs
½ cup (125 ml) sour cream, light or regular

Whipped cream Topping (optional)

½ cup (125 ml) chilled whipping cream
1 tbsp (15 ml) icing sugar
Chocolate curls for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) spring-form pan with non-stick spray

Prepare the crust: Break the wafers into chunks. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, drop the wafers through the feed tube until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, 2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar and cinnamon into the bowl of your food processor. Process a few seconds longer to blend. Press 2/3 of the crumb mixture into the prepared springform pan. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture for the topping.

Clean & dry the processor bowl & blade. You will need it for the filling.

Melt the chocolate chips (2 to 3 minutes on medium (50%) in the microwave, stirring once or twice.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar (185 ml) for 30 seconds. Add the eggs and process until well blended. Stop the machine once in awhile and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and process 20 seconds longer.

Pour the chocolate cheese mixture over the crust and sprinkle with the reserved wafer crumbs.

To bake, place a pie plate half filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the cheesecake on the middle rack. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes. When done, the edges of the cake will be set, but the centre will be somewhat soft. Turn off the oven, but let the cake cool inside for half an hour with oven door partly open.

When completely cooled, place the cake on a plate and remove the sides of the pan.

Optional: Whip the heavy cream until thick. Add the icing sugar and whip until the cream stiffens.

Pipe rosettes of whipped cream around the edges and garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate the cake until serving time. Makes 12 to 16 servings.