Breaking News: Community Mobilizes Following Tragic Fire

Dec. 11, 2020

A serious fire broke out last night at a Toronto Community Housing building at 6250 Bathurst. Seniors and firefighters were injured, with at least one senior in life-threatening condition.

The building’s residents include a large number of clients of UJA-funded partner agencies, said a statement from UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

Global News reported that a woman believed to be in her 70s is in life-threatening condition and three others were injured in the five-alarm fire.

Emergency crews were called to the 14-storey, 389-unit apartment building on Bathurst Street, south of Steeles Avenue West, just before 8:25 p.m., Global reported.

A Toronto Fire Services captain was treated for smoke inhalation and a firefighter was taken to hospital. 

“This is a significant fire,” Acting Fire Chief Jim Jessop told reporters Thursday night.

Photo credit: CTV news

“Throughout the night, the Bernard Betel Centre and Circle of Care were working hard to assess and support the needs of the building’s residents, many of whom are isolated Jewish seniors living on very modest incomes,” the UJA statement said.

Other UJA-funded agencies, including Jewish Immigrant Aid Services Toronto and Jewish Family and Child Service, have also been mobilized, it added.

“We’re heartbroken by this terrible tragedy,” said Adam Minsky, President and CEO of UJA Federation. “We pray for a rapid and full recovery for the injured, and we are deeply grateful for the bravery of Toronto Fire Services.”

Said Linda Frum, Chair of UJA Federation: “A few years ago, I delivered Kosher Meals on Wheels to residents of this building. I saw firsthand just how vulnerable they are – and they are in even greater need in the wake of this devastating incident.

“Today, we say unequivocally: UJA Federation will do whatever it takes to help them get through this crisis safely. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our incredible network of Jewish social service agencies working hard to address this challenge. As they assess the new needs of these at-risk community members, we are ready to provide any resources necessary – be it emergency funds, volunteers, or other support.”

While the cause of the fire continues to be investigated by authorities, UJA urged community members to be vigilant about fire safety when it comes to candle-lighting during Hanukkah.

Most residents of the building were encouraged to shelter in place except for approximately 30 people on the fifth floor who had to be evacuated, Global’s report stated.

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

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

Bonnie Stern’s Recipes Work Well for Holiday Meals

Sept. 4, 2020 – By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

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

Rosh Hashanah is only two weeks away, but there’s still time to try some new dishes before the holidays.

This week’s recipes, Salad Nicoise and Phyllo Tart with Feta and Herbs, are courtesy of cookbook author and national food columnist Bonnie Stern.

See the culinary calendar below to sign up for a virtual panel discussion on Eastern European Jewish cuisine with cookbook authors Jeffrey Yoskowitz Michael Twitty, and Leah Koenig; to join the Bernard Betel Centre’s virtual Cooking Club; or to order honey from Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs.

RECIPES

The Salad Nicoise recipe here is actually a combination of two of Stern’s recipes – Salad Nicoise from her cookbook Simply HeartSmart Cooking: Over 200 Healthful & Delicious Recipes, and Warm Roasted Potato Salad, which is found in Friday Night Dinners: Menus to Welcome the Weekend with Ease, Warmth and Flair.

Stern writes that the Warm Roasted Potato Salad could be turned into a Nicoise Potato Salad by adding cherry tomatoes, green beans, black olives, hard cooked eggs and chunks of tuna.

To get the proportion of the salad ingredients correct, I used the Salad Nicoise recipe from Simply HeartSmart and added the hard-cooked eggs. Stern said the yellow and green beans can be interchanged.

This parve Mediterranean salad is ideal for lunch on Rosh Hashanah because the salad is a complete meal that can be served at room temperature.

The dressing and the cooked ingredients – potatoes, green or yellow beans and eggs – can all be made ahead.

The Nicoise salad dressing recipe below has been tripled, and the arugula has been omitted from the original recipe.

Last week, I signed up for the cooking webinar that Stern gave through Thornhill Lifelong Learning. The recipe she taught, Phyllo Tart with Feta and Herbs, is from her upcoming new cookbook, which has no release date yet.

Her phyllo tart is similar to spanakopita, a Greek dish of phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese. Stern uses more herbs than traditional spanakopita. She also combines feta and ricotta cheese, which is a departure from the Greek recipe, as is her addition of the sesame and nigella seed topping, and Tahini Sauce.

This phyllo tart would work well for the break fast meal after Yom Kippur ends. You can make the tarts a day or two before serving time and just reheat them.

Stern’s phyllo pastry technique is very forgiving. The phyllo sheets are rolled around the filling to create a long rope, which is then wound into a round, spiral-like shape. You can make one large spiral tart or four individual servings.

I made individual tarts because it’s a safe presentation given the COVID pandemic. I prepared the recipe on Sunday and served it two days later. The phyllo tart looked good. It was really tasty and the pastry was nice and crispy.

SALAD NICOISE Bonnie Stern

Dressing

3 tbsp sherry vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1½ tsp (8 ml) kosher salt
3 tbsp (45 ml) grainy mustard
3/4 cup (190 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp (90 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Salad 

2 lb (800 g) red potatoes cut in 2-inch (5 cm) chunks
1 lb (400 g) green or yellow beans, trimmed
1 small head Romain or leaf lettuce
1 cup (250 ml) cherry tomatoes
1 7-oz (198 g) white tuna (water packed), drained and flaked
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh chives or green onions
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh tarragon or ½ tsp (2 ml) dried 

Dressing: in a bowl combine vinegar, garlic, salt and mustard. Whisk in the oil. Stir in the parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Salad: Place the potatoes in a large pot of water. Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes or until tender. While the potatoes are cooking add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the green beans with tongs and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking. Pat them dry and reserve. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and cut them into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes.

Line a large salad bowl with lettuce and arrange the potatoes in the middle. Surround the potatoes with green beans and cherry tomatoes. 

Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Spoon the tuna and cooked eggs on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle the parsley, chives and tarragon over the salad. Makes 6–8 servings.

PHYLLO TART WITH FETA AND HERBS Bonnie Stern 

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, trimmed, washed and sliced (or 1 medium onion, sliced)
8 oz (250 g) baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) each chopped fresh dill, parsley and cilantro (see ingredient notes)
6 oz ricotta cheese, drained if necessary
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (substitute goat cheese if preferred)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste

For the phyllo pasty:

6 sheets of pastry, approx.12×18-inch (30×45-cm)
½ cup butter or 1 stick (125 ml), melted (or extra virgin olive oil)
¼ cup (60 ml) bread crumbs (optional)
1 tbsp (15 ml) sesame seeds 
1 tbsp (15 ml) nigella seeds (optional) 

For the Tahini Sauce:

¼ cup (60 ml) pure tahini
2 tbsp (30 ml) lemon juice
3 tbsp (45 ml) ice water or more if necessary
½ tsp kosher salt or more to taste

For the Toppings or Garnish:

1 ripe tomato, halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 hard-cooked eggs (optional) 
Diced handful micro-greens or sprigs of fresh herbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a rimmed 12×18-inch (30 x 45-cm) baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sauté Vegetables: Heat the oil in a skillet. Cook leeks gently until tender about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the spinach and combine it with the leeks. Cook about 1 to 2 minutes, just until spinach is wilted. Place in a strainer and press or squeeze out the excess liquid. Chop if necessary. Add the herbs.

Filling: Combine the ricotta with feta. Stir in the spinach mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. (You will have about 3 cups of filling.)

Assemble phyllo tart: Cover the phyllo sheets you are not using with plastic wrap. Arrange one sheet on work surface with the long side horizontal. Brush with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs if using. Top with 2 more sheets, brushing each with melted butter and sprinkling with breadcrumbs.

Cut the stack of phyllo horizontally in half so you now have two stacks. 

Mound ¼ of the filling along the long edge of each stack closest to you. Leave a little space at the ends without filling. Gently roll up the phyllo over the filling so that you now have two filled ropes. Tuck in the ends.

Roll one into a snail shape and transfer to the prepared baking sheet 

Wind the second rope around the outside edge of the first one – making the ‘snail’ wider. Brush it with butter and sprinkle with seeds.

Repeat with the other three sheets of filo to make another snail. (Or make the first one larger by winding the two new ropers around the first, or make 4 individual tarts).

Bake in the preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tahini sauce: Make while the tart is baking or ahead of time. In a small jar, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, ice water and salt. Add a bit more ice water if the sauce is too thick.

To serve: Drizzle each tart with tahini sauce and top with hard cooked eggs (optional), tomatoes and greens. Serve in wedges or individually. Makes 4–6 servings.

STERN’S INGREDIENT NOTES

Phyllo Pastry 

Defrosting pastry: Remove the phyllo from the freezer the night before using and defrost in the refrigerator. Remove phyllo from the refrigerator two hours before using.

Keeping the pastry moist: Cover the pastry sheets you are not using with plastic wrap, until you are ready to use them. A sheet of heavier plastic works better than plastic wrap.

Ricotta Cheese: Some brands of fresh ricotta cheese have a lot of moisture and some are smooth and creamy. If the cheeses has a lot of moisture, cut it into chunks and drain off the extra liquid.

Tahini: Tahini is made from sesame seeds. When you buy a jar of tahini it should only have sesame seeds listed as an ingredient. The tahini tastes delicious from the jar. It shouldn’t have a bitter aftertaste.

Fresh Herbs: If you do not have all the fresh herbs in these recipes substitute more of the fresh herbs you have instead of using dried herbs

CULINARY CALENDAR

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

Sept. 9, 8 p.m. ET: CHEWDAISM: A Taste of Jewish Montreal is an hour-long documentary that follows the Yid-Life Crisis duo, Jamie and Eli, as they discover Montreal Jewish community classical Jewish eateries of the last 100 years: https://www.yidlifecrisis.com/chewdaism

Sept. 9, 11 a.m. ET: Make Korean-inspired salads with Irine Dubinski through the (virtual) Cooking Club at the Bernard Betel Centre. Register for free at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYocuyupjgtHdH4SkYK9XS69aolga5nsjd_

Sept. 6-13, 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: 

Thornhill: Sept. 9, 4–8 p.m., 99 Heatherton Way
Midtown: Bathurst Manor Sept. 10, 4–8 p.m., 215 Searle Ave.
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