Category Archives: Jewish food

Rosh Hashanah: Gefilte Fish Conclave Draws Crowd of Hungry Haters

 

Photo: Gefilteria web site.

By Laura B. Weiss

It’s almost Rosh Hashanah, so it’s time to talk about gefilte fish. Or at least that’s what the Center for Jewish History must have decided when they put together a panel of fish mavens last week to discuss what’s perhaps the most reviled holiday food of all times.

In fact, that’s what most of the discussion was about as the panelists, along with moderator Mitchell Davis of the James Beard Foundation, aimed bullet after bullet at the gray-hued Ashkenazi standby. The panelists were Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz of the Gefilteria, Brooklyn; Zach Kutsher of Kutsher’s Tribeca; Jack Lebewohl of 2nd Ave Deli; and Israeli chef Omer Miller.

Let me be frank:I loathe gefilte fish. Gray is not my food color of choice. Anything in gelatin makes me gag. Gefilte tastes like rotten water, if there is such a thing.

And then there’s its smell, kind of like damp laundry that’s been left out too long to dry.

“I smell gefilte fish,” a customer once told Lebewohl upon entering the 2nd Avenue Deli. Is this a good thing for a restaurant trying to sell people its food? I doubt it.

Zach Kutsher, whose family owns the iconic Borscht Belt resort of the same name, said gefilte fish was the most polarizing dish on the menu of his new eatery, Kutsher’s Tribeca.  Another panelist provided the only positive review of the benighted dish—that it’s associated with Sabbath dinner and thus contains a heavy dose of nostalgia along with its mother lode of carp.

In an effort to make gefilte fish more trendy—trendy gefilte fish? Sorry, that’s an oxymoron—places like Gefilteria are making theirs with newfangled ingredients like sustainably sourced whitefish, pike and salmon. It’s Ashkenazi food for hipsters.

But at a tasting afterwards, I decided that gefilte was immune to a culinary rehab. Mobs of people crushed against the tables as if the tiny nibbles of giflte were their last morsel of food on earth. I only managed to snag two samples, one from the Second Avenue deli (your standard issue gefilte) and one from Kutscher’s. That rendition was light and a bit dry with not too much flavor, which in the case of gefilte can only be viewed as a plus.

Sorry, I’m still a hater no matter how much the dish is gussied up. It’s trendy-proof.

Here’s a recipe for Gefilte Fish from Joan Nathan, the noted Jewish cookbook author via Epicurious. Click here for the recipe.

 

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Passover Food App: What Would Moses Think?

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Photo via Flickr by Aramand Agasi

Moses would plotz. Or maybe, given what a rush he was in to get the Children of Israel out of Egypt, he’d be thrilled at the idea of a Passover app with a nice a selection of matzoh. So much easier than baking those wheat crackers on the run.

You can download the app, OUR Kosher–it’s from the Orthodox Union which certifes kosher foods–on Android and iPhones for free. There you’ll find a small selection of kosher for Passover foods, and a much bigger one of regular kosher products. There’s Matzoh with Provence Herbs and Matzoh with Bran–not a bad idea given the intestine-clogging attributes of the traditional wafers. There’s also Passover-ready buffalo wings and Passover carrot cake.

This app is far from perfect. It’s simply a list of available products. You can’t order directly and there are no graphics. And when you tap on some choices, an error message comes back.

But it’s a start. One Moses may well have appreciated during his long trek through the dessert.

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Passover: Chozen Ice Cream-A Lighter Finish to that Heavy Seder Meal

Photo: Laura B. Weiss

Chozen Ice Cream, concocted by three New York women, with names and ingredients that tap into the shtetl/Jewish culinary tradition—from Matzoh Crunch to the newest flavor, Apples and Honey, is a great finish to your Seder meal. Let’s face it, Haroseth, pot roast and matzoh ball soup (hopefully, of the non-cannonball variety), calls for a light finish laced with Jewish food memories. That’s what you get with kosher Chozen.

The ice cream comes in 6 flavors:

* Ronne’s Ruglach
* Matzoh Crunch
* Coconut Macaroon
* Chocolate Gelt
* Chocolate Babka
* Apples and Honey

Come sample Chozen at a New York Writers Workshop multi-author reading at the JCC May 2, 6-8 pm.  I’ll also be reading from my new book, Ice Cream: A Global History.

My personal flavor is creamy, chunky Chocolate Gelt (ok, wrong holiday), but I also enjoy Apples and Honey (again, wrong holiday, but it’s all Jewish and it’s ice cream, so who cares?), with a subtle taste of honey that ripples through the ice cream.  These ice creams tend to veer slightly toward the sweet side, so serve them with fruit, or something like Melissa Clark’s Crunchy-Topped Whole-Wheat Plum Cake. (Try substituting matzoh meal for the flour.)

Here’s where you can buy Chozen:

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Passover Recipe: Easy Italian-Ashkenazi Matzoh Ball Soup

The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews contains an Italian-Ashkenazi matzoh ball soup.

Passover Italian-Ashkenazi Chicken-Matza Ball Soup

Italian matzoh ball soup??

This unusual recipe, combining the Sepharidic and Ashkenazi traditions—Italian and Ashkenazi Chicken-Matza Ball Soup—comes, says Chef Renee, from a wonderful cookbook called The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, by Edda Servi Machlin, first published in 1981.

Explains Chef Renee Marton: “The recipe is a combination of Italian Passover soup and Ashkenazi matzoh ball soup, or as Machlin dubs it, ‘matza’ ball soup. I’ve added herbs, but otherwise it’s the original recipe.”

INGREDIENTS

1 boned chicken breast (2 halves)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

8 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Dash white pepper

Dash nutmeg

¾ cup matzoh meal

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

METHOD

Grind or finely chop the chicken breast.  Combine eggs, ¼ cup broth, oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Add matzoh meal, chives and ground chicken and mix well.  Set aside in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Bring the broth to a boil.  Shape the chicken mixture into 12 balls and drop directly into the boiling soup. When it comes to the second boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer 20 minutes without removing the lid.  Add parsley.  Serve immediately.

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In Time for Your Passover Seder: Rabbi Mints Sold on Upper West Side

Rabbi Mints. A mitzvah for your mouth.

What does it take for a Rabbi and an ad man and an entrepreneur to create a new product? Ad man Richard Kirshenbaum, entrepreneur David Mitchell and Rabbi Adam Mintz (get it???) of Congregation Rayim Ahuvim in New York City launched kosher Rabbi Mints March 21 just in time for the Passover season with its heavy, pleasant-breath-defying foods.

The idea for Rabbi Mints sprang from a mitzvah.  It came about when Kirschenbaum and Mitchell were seated next to each other at a wedding at which Rabbi Mintz was officiating. When it was time for the groom to kiss the bride, Kirshenbaum joked, “Just in time for Rabbi Mints Kosher Mints.” Mitchell said, “That’s a funny joke, but a serious business idea.” Thus were Rabbi Mints born.

How do they taste?  Like Altoids. But if you want your mints kosher, then these will fit the bill.

Here’s where you can buy them on the Upper West Side:

Barney Greengrass

Fischer Bros Kosher Butcher

Carnegie Deli (midtown)

 

 

 

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