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.”

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.