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: 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.