Virtual Cooking Eases Cabin Fever

Oct. 30, 2020 

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

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

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

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

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

Kat Romanow

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

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

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

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

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

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT:

Kat Romanow promotes Montreal’s Jewish food traditions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RECIPES

LYSETTE’S MOCK CHOPPED LIVER The Wandering Chew

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

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

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

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

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

MASSAFAN The Wandering Chew

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

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

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

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

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

HOISIN SESAME CHICKEN Norene Gilletz

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

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

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

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

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

Norene’s Notes:

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

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

CULINARY CALENDAR

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

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

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

Mayim Bialik: Saving the Class of Covid-19

Sept. 9, 2020 – By SUSAN MINUK

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, believed that individual initiative and original ideas could make the desert bloom. That dream has been realized: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is now the fastest growing research university in Israel.

“(BGU) is now the engine that drives the entire Negev region of Israel,” said Mark Mendelson, CEO of the Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

From its humble start in Bedouin tents and ramshackle buildings in 1969, the university now boasts over 20,000 students on three campuses in Beersheva, Sde Boker and Eilat. The university is internationally renowned for its cutting-edge research and development.

Most recently, BGU scientists have pioneered a coronavirus testing procedure that is faster and more efficient than any in the world, able to test up to 48 people at once.

In early August, BGU launched “Save the Class of Covid-19,” a global campaign to raise $5.25 million for student financial aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID pandemic has resulted in a drastic decrease in people coming to study at BGU, Mendelson told The CJR. An estimated one in five BGU students is at risk of delaying their studies due to financial stress, and some are now unable to pay for basic needs.

Mayim Bialik

To help alleviate those hardships, the Canadian Associates of BGU are holding a national and virtual “Big Bang” event on Wednesday, Sept. 9 featuring award-winning actress, neuroscientist and author Mayim Bialik, star of the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory. Sen. Linda Frum will moderate the event, which benefits BGU’s “Class of Covid-19” effort.

Special guest will be Prof. Danny Chamovitz, President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. A presenting sponsor is the Azrieli Foundation.

The event is sold out and registration is closed.

Bialik earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, and in Hebrew and Jewish studies in 2000, and went on to complete a Ph.D. in neuroscience in 2007. She is a board member of a variety of Jewish philanthropic organizations. She also writes weekly for the Jewish parenting site Kveller.com.

The CJR recently caught up with Bialik, who is busy raising her family and celebrating Jewish life.

As a science academic, what are some key messages you will convey at the BGU event?

I love to talk to Jewish communities all over the world and I especially appreciate North American support of universities in Israel right now. I don’t tend to talk about what I think other people should do with their lives or their observance. I like to share my story, with all of its imperfections and all of the doubts and questions I have, and I especially like to talk about (how) being a scientist and being a person of faith do not produce conflict for me. 

How are you and your family doing during the pandemic?

We are, thank God, doing OK. We have essentially remained home. Our kids definitely are used to schooling at home, since they have never been in school and have been homeschooled their whole life. We see my mother at a safe distance and that’s been really hard to not be able to spend more time with her in general. My kids are definitely playing more video games than I would like them to, but I’m basically trying not to nag them, which seems to be something that I find easy to do during the pandemic. Our anxiety is definitely elevated, as it is for a lot of people. 

What can you share with our readers about your Jewish background?

My parents are first generation Americans who were born during World War II in the Bronx. My mom’s parents only spoke Yiddish in the home and she was raised Orthodox. My father had [an] assimilated experience and moved from the Bronx to Long Island in the 1950s, where he was raised in a Reform congregation. My grandparents are from Poland, Hungary and Ukraine. I was raised in Los Angeles in a Reform synagogue, but there were a lot of remnants of my mother’s orthodoxy in my childhood.

I became more observant in college at UCLA and I have always been a very strong Zionist. A lot of my family lives in Israel, throughout the country, from the West Bank to Tel Aviv. I have a minor in Hebrew and Jewish studies from UCLA and have been a devoted student of Talmud for about 15 years. I learn two or three times a week. While I don’t wave the flag of modern orthodoxy, I tend to align with most of the leanings of liberal modern orthodoxy.

Can you explain your career trajectory from actress to scientist?

I was on a television series [NBC’s Blossom] from the time I was 14 to 19 and I had a biology tutor when I was 15 who opened my mind and heart to the possibility of being a scientist. I fell in love with genetics and after Blossom ended, I went to college to study science.

You focused on Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder in people with a genetic condition called Prader-Willi syndrome, or PWS. Can you explain why you choose this path?

As a vegan in the field of neuroscience, there are not many lines of research available if you don’t want to work with animals. One of the populations studied in the neuroscience department at UCLA is individuals with PWS. I had always wanted to work with a population of individuals with special needs and I also have a strong interest in mental health, so it was a really perfect thesis topic for me.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being a mother to a 12- and almost 15-year-old son. I definitely don’t do it perfectly but I’m the best mom they’ve got.

What new projects are in development?

I am starting a new series for Fox called Call Me Kat, which I am executive producing with Jim Parsons, who played Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. I will also be starring in it and it is based on the BBC series Miranda. We should be starting production next month and it is very exciting because we have 13 episodes already ordered. We focus on a very unusual woman who, at 39, does not have it all but still has an amazing life running a cat café. It is a really funny show and I’m so excited to get back to work.