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/

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