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Gifted Gourmet

Jewish cooking .. ever want to try making?

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What the heck - both. thanks

Pleasure is all mine, Dana .. and you may best show your appreciation by FedExing me a sample (or larger!) of each, when you make them (both!) :laugh:

(and none of that amuse bouche size, you dig??) :hmmm:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I have a grandfather who was Jewish but converted to Catholicism, so I guess, loosely speaking, I'm partly Jewish. ...

Now I'm livin in sin with my Jewish girlfriend. My best friend recently called me to say "welcome to the tribe"  :laugh: .

The mohel should be arriving shortly to welcome you as well. :raz:


There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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The mohel should be arriving shortly to welcome you as well.  :raz:

:shock::shock::shock: Lotsa luck, Al .. welcome to the tribe, bubbaleh!! :laugh:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Thanks to Gifted.

Some of the "bazillion" recipes look like the ones that will give me the kishke

taste I am looking for.

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and a distinctive after taste as well! Whatta deal! Buy one get one free mentality!! :wink:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The mohel should be arriving shortly to welcome you as well.   :raz:

A (circumsized) friend who converted in adulthood was at the mohel's office for his bris. When the mohel said "Allright, show me a little penis" his response was "We have a problem, then, because I don't have a little penis." The mohel didn't get the joke. That is when my friend almost passed out. A guy with no sense of humor was coming after his whoopsidaisy with a scalpel. :unsure: I'd pass out, too!

So, depending on how much prep work you had done as a child, the mohels visit could be bad, or it could be just a little prick. :laugh:

Chag Sameach, y'all.


Edited by Comfort Me (log)

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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I'd love to know anything at all about Kosher cuisine.  Always been too embarrassed to ask what everything was; is there a short glossary of dishes, ingredients, etc., somewhere?

Took a quick look - and I don't think anyone answered your question.

Kosher isn't really a cuisine. It's a set of "eating rules". When you "keep Kosher" - basically there are 4 kinds of foods. Meat - dairy - neutrals (like most veggies) - and things you can't eat at all (like shellfish and pork products). You can't mix meat with dairy (either the foods or the things they're cooked in or served on) - although you can serve "neutrals" with either. In addition - there are certain rules for preparing certain kinds of food. For example - for beef to be kosher - the cows must be slaughtered in a particular way (throats slit to drain blood - as opposed to being hit on the head with an electric stick).

As long as a restaurant or other place where things are cooked (one's house, a nursing home, etc.) adheres to these rules - the food is "kosher".

So kosher food can be very different from traditional Jewish dishes - many of which tend to be ethnic rather than prepared in accordance with the dietary laws. No reason you can't make Chinese kosher food - or Indian kosher food - or southern kosher food - as long as you adhere to the rules.

Anyway - although I'm Jewish - I'm not very religious - and I don't "keep kosher". So this is probably a half-baked explanation. Hope some people who know more than I do will chime in and perhaps correct anything I've said that's wrong. Robyn

P.S. Just to confuse things a bit more - you have "kosher meals" (meals cooked in kosher kitchens in accordance with the dietary laws) - and "people who keep kosher" (people who won't eat food not prepared in accordance with the dietary laws). A non-kosher person can eat a kosher meal - and someone who usually keeps a kosher kitchen at home can (if not super religious) eat an occasional non-kosher meal. There is a Jewish fondness for things like Chinese food which is almost legendary (even my grandmother would eat pork and shrimp at Chinese restaurants) - and I think that's because a lot of people who observed the dietary laws at home liked the occasional "day off".


Edited by robyn (log)

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Guys, I'm not going to zap the mohel-related posts, but can we move on? This isn't the "all about being Jewish" topic--we want to concentrate on the culinary aspect, although diverting a bit into the kosher "eating rules" seems a natural spin-off as well.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I thought the major reason you went to a bris was so you could get honey cake.

Stupid question: How long does schmaltz keep? I mean, you don't like refrigerate it or anything, do you?


I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Stupid question: How long does schmaltz keep?  I mean, you don't like refrigerate it or anything, do you?

From Michael Wolfberg, on his website

This is a crucial ingredient in certain Jewish cooking, especially for matzo balls and chopped chicken liver. I also use it to make kasha varnishkes. You can make this golden liquid fat (which solidifies) and keep it for months in the refrigerator.

If it isn't refrigerated, it will become rancid over time. :wink:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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With all due respect to the SF gate (which in truth I do not know) and to Claudia Roden (for whom I have enormous respect), let me call to mind that the issue here is not at all "Jewish food" but the food of those Jews who originated in the shtetls (small and generally poor peasant villages) and cities of Central and Eastern Europe. 

Giving dishes such as gefilte fish, cholent (with or without kishke), kugel, tzimmis and pirogen, sweet and sour beef stew and knishes an exclusivity as to claims on representing the Jewish kitchen is to ignore the fact that those Jews of Sepharadic origin had a very different but no less "Jewish" cuisine. To such Jews their "Jewish kitchen" does not smell of gefilte fish but of sicj treats sd chraime, couscous, fattoush (bread salad), sardines wrapped in vine leaves, Circassian chicken, sambusak, shisliks and kebabs. 

None of which of course is to "knock" that kitchen that has come to be associated with Yiddish. I'm am absolute sucker for it and no matter how large the first portion, will never refuse a second helping of cholent (with kishke, dammit, with!!!)But then again, who would I be if I refused a second portion of couscous royale?

Best,

Rogov

Let me ask a question is there an overall "Jewish cusine/food" it seems to me to be regional? My family is from Eastern Europe and the villiage was about half Jewish, half Catholic. They all ate the same foods, although some of the names I know them by differ, they are basically the same.

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Let me ask a question is there an overall  "Jewish cusine/food" it seems to me to be regional? My family is from Eastern Europe and the villiage was about half Jewish, half Catholic. They all ate the same foods, although some of the names I know them by differ, they are basically the same.

Good question! Thank you for posing it .. it is entirely appropriate to this thread ...

I rather would imagine that in small villages in eastern Europe, they were dealing with pretty much the same produce and meat/fish sources from the area in which they resided ...

The possible exception would be that the Jewish population avoided pork products and they no doubt had their own butcher to produce acceptably slaughtered animals .. and the Jewish population of those villages probably had separate sets of dishes and cookware for their dairy and meat dishes.

An example would be stuffed cabbage .. made by both groups but with different names, i.e. prakas or holishkes ... none too certain why but this seems highly appropriate to this discussion.


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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An example would be stuffed cabbage .. made by both groups but with different names, i.e. prakas or holishkes ...

Or galooptchy, galuptzi, golubsti, golombki if you're Polish, krautwickel or gefiltekraut if you're German or Viennese, holuubtsi if you're Ukranian, sarmali if you're Romanian, or dolmas if you're Armenian. Everybody eats stuffed cabbage! I can't think of a more universal "peasant" food that crosses geographic, religious and cultural borders than this dish.


Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Let me ask a question is there an overall  "Jewish cusine/food" it seems to me to be regional? My family is from Eastern Europe and the villiage was about half Jewish, half Catholic. They all ate the same foods, although some of the names I know them by differ, they are basically the same.

I would have to say that there is most certainly not an overall Jewish cuisine. Perhaps to understand that a bit, a somewhat serious, somewhat amusing peek at history, for if one wants to give thanks to the adent of what people today consider Jewish food, it is to Nebuchadnezzar, that somewhat schizophrenic king of ancient Babylonia that such kind thoughts hsould be addressed.

Jews had been settled in Israel long before the Babylonian invasion of 587 BCE and, although the dietary laws of the Old Testament (the kosher laws) had taken firm root among the people, matzoh and mannah do not a national cuisine create.

By destroying the Holy Temple and driving the people into exile, Nebuchadnezzer, in addition to becoming a somewhat unloved character, also became, albeit by fiat, the father of kreplach and chopped liver, for it was only when the Jews were in exile did they develop a unique set of gastronomic specialties, those largely based on the cuisines of the nations and even villages in which they settled. One may gladly report that such Jewish cuisines have survived with far more popularity than the memory of Nebuchawatsisname.

As reflected in this thread, it was primarily those Jews who eventually made their way to central and eastern Europe who evolved the cuisine that is today most often associated with the Jewish kitchen. As I pointed out earlier, that is somewhat unfair because those Jews who made their way to North Africa, Spain, the countries of the Moslem world, and even the Far East also developed cuisines of their own. With the exception of the Jews of Central Europe, however, Jewish fare did not vary enough from the cuisine of the region to assume, at least metaphorically, a life of its own.

It is true that everyone makes beef stew but cholent is a very Jewish dish; lots of people make stuffed intestines, but a kishke by any other name is Jewish. It is also true that many people make couscous but with mild variations between versions, couscous is Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, etc, and with the exception of being kosher, not Jewish. The same is as true when comparing gefilte fish and chraime. And a hundred other examples.....

As to what, precisely is Jewish...let's put it this way ... the other evening I dined in a new kosher Aviv Restaurant, "Doda" (Translated losely as "Auntie"). Tel Aviv is largely a Jewish city in a largely Jewish nation, the chef and all of his kitchen staff were Jewish, the waitstaff were all Jewish and at least on the day of my visit, most of the diners were Jewish. Among the dishes on which I feasted (it's a damned good restaurant): as first courses Syrian kubbeh chamusteh soup, Kurdish kubbeh matafunia, and stuffed grape leaves that might have had their roots as much in Greece, Turkey or Lebanon. As main courses we had a Moroccan pastille, Egyptian style drumfish in tchina, and a rather French-Lebanese entrecote steak with za'atar. Was that Jewish food? Darned right it was! Was it Jewish cuisine - no way!

Tomorrow I shall lunch with friends and family at Tel Aviv's Batia - I am looking forward to tatings of gefilte fish, kashe vernishkes, chopped chicken liver, calve's foot jelly, roast goose, baked beef, and of course, cholent with kishke. Is that Jewish food? Again, darned right it was. Was it Jewish cuisine? Well - certainly by consensus.

And that's it while standing on one foot.


Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)

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From Michael Wolfberg, on his website

If it isn't refrigerated, it will become rancid over time. :wink:

Freeze your schmaltz. If kept cold enough, it will keep forever (or until you use your batch up.)


"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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It should be understood that Yiddish food does far more than please the palate. Jo Goldenberg, owner of what may be the most famous Jewish restaurant of them all observed that people come to his place and weep for joy.
from Rogov's website ....stratsplace.com

Does Jewish food make you weep for joy, on occasion, or is it merely comforting and warming? for your body and, perhaps, even your soul?

This thread has offered so many varied opinions and I am so pleased to hear from you all on this topic!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I realize this topic hasn't been active in a few months but in a search for kishka (I have a craving!) I came across this thread. I love it - the whole topic.

My grandmother was an amazing cook - from Poland - and my parents have run a kosher (no longer hechshered) catering company/restaurant for most of my life (where I still work). I love and have eaten most of these so-called Jewish foods my whole life. For some reason we have NEVER made cholent - but other than that, most of things have been eaten in my house.

One thing that has always amazed me is that during the times our restaurant has been open (we are known for opening for a few months, closing for a couple of years, opening for a couple of years, closing.....) non-Jews from across the city (and out-of-towners) would come for the knishes, blintzes, kreplach, verenkes, matzo balls, keichle and whatever other 'Jewish' foods we serve. There's something almost mythical for non-Jews when it comes to these foods...

Just a thought! Thanks for the thread.

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I'm a relative newbie here on egullet, but I couldn't help noticing that, even in the short period of time I've been posting here, I've already made at least three different references to food-related stories my mother used to tell me about her childhood in New York City's Lower East Side in the 1930s--plus numerous other references to my family's Jewish-American food foibles. I already knew my cultural culinary heritage meant a whole lot to me, but I'm kind of amused at how obviously it was showing up in my e-presence. :smile:

My grandparents, when they all came over from Eastern Europe before World War I, pretty much dumped their religious practices immediately, but maintained a deep devotion to Yiddishkeit/the cultural aspect of their heritage. My parents moved out of the city into the suburbs in the 1950s, doing some considerable assimilation along the way, but still carried with them, and instilled in me, a love of the culture and the food. However, while my mother was an excellent cook, she did not cook the old Jewish classics very often herself. Her mother was a fabulous cook--I remember at age eight watching with fascination as she made kreplach and blintzes from scratch--but alas her visits were extremely rare. We saw my father's parents a lot more frequently, but while my paternal grandmother was a lovely woman in many ways, she was that amazing rarity, a Jewish (grand)mother who was a fabulously ***lousy*** cook. (Oy, could I tell you some stories...)

Anyway--so while I have major love of Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine, I had scant chance as a child to actually learn how to cook more than a few basics. For example, I became well-versed in making chicken soup the way my mother and her mother did it--but for some reason, my mother *never* made matzoh balls, and while I have labored to teach myself how as an adult, I still have a distressing tendency to produce cannonballs rather than clouds. :sad:

This was part of a larger mission in my twenties to get a more personal handle on my heritage. Another part involved joining a havurah, which helped in two ways: filling in the whole aspect of religious observance, including all the many food practices and rituals; and since this havurah basically ran on potlucks, I got some immediate in-the-trenches hands-on cooking experience. :biggrin: I moved on from that havurah after several years, but the deep cultural (not to mention spiritual) immersion in that community still influences me to this day.

Don't know where else to take this post, except to say: yep, knowing and learning about Jewish cuisines is a biggie for me too. There is still so much for me to learn. I still feel woefully backward in my knowledge of Sephardic cultures and cuisines, for instance. And I still gotta do something about those dangfool matzoh balls. :laugh: Although I often console myself by thinking about the matzoh-ball story from that classic little book Love and Knishes (and I gotta get myself a new copy of that, too).

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My grandparents, when they all came over from Eastern Europe before World War I, pretty much dumped their religious practices immediately, but maintained a deep devotion to Yiddishkeit/the cultural aspect of their heritage.

[snip]

And I still gotta do something about those dangfool matzoh balls. :laugh: Although I often console myself by thinking about the matzoh-ball story from that classic little book Love and Knishes (and I gotta get myself a new copy of that, too).

hmmm...could we be related? :rolleyes:

As for matzo balls, I actually like them somewhere in the middle of clouds and cannon balls... so I shan't give you my recipe..... but... have you tried using soda water / seltzer instead of water in the recipe? Do you let the matzo meal absorb the liquid (meaning- leave your mixture somewhat gooey and refrigerate it for a while allowing the meal to absorb the liquid before adding more matzo meal to make it easier to handle?)

Then there's the whole baking soda aspect... something I never do :hmmm:

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Gifted Gourmet's Guide for the Perplexed (with appropriate apologies for the borrowing of the title to Maimonides!) comes this thread full of great matzo ball sechel (wisdom):

Everything known to man/woman about the matzo ball :wink:

as for sharing the origins of Eastern Europe, didn't we all? or many of us? My mother never made a matzo ball and yet I taught myself Jewish cookery from day #1 of my marriage ... and became a kosher caterer, albeit briefly ... :laugh:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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hmmm...could we be related?  :rolleyes:
as for sharing the origins of Eastern Europe, didn't we all? or many of us?

Yeah, well, if you really want to go all the way back, there's always that teaching that we were all originally present at Sinai ... :biggrin:

I've heard of the seltzer trick, but I've not yet tried it. I've also heard of the baking soda trick, but felt like that was, well, cheating somehow. :smile: Well, maybe it isn't really--at least when it's not Pesach, of course--but stubborn me still wants to see if I can make 'em puff without it.

I *have* done the bit with letting the dough/batter rest in the fridge for a good hour or two till well-hydrated and well-chilled. And my batters are definitely well on the sticky/gooey side. I use schmaltz, and roll the balls a little under golf-ball size (more like the size of those big shooter-marbles). That has given me my best effort yet--matzoh-balls about halfway between clouds and cannon balls. Which were definitely quite nice, actually. But I still want to reach for the clouds, so to speak. Time to hit the seltzer, I guess.

That whole thread on matzoh balls was a helluva lotta fun--thanks for pointing that out!

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I've heard of the seltzer trick, but I've not yet tried it.

I have made the Food Maven's (Arthur Schwartz) matzo balls with seltzer, and with much success:

click here and scroll down for his recipe & rationale :rolleyes:

Matzoh balls are one of the culinary mysteries of the universe.... quickly whip up a batch according to my old, more standard, and reasonably reliable recipe (the one that has been on the back of the matzoh meal box for most of this century) and pray that they would be fine even though I was breaking the number one cardinal rule of matzoh ball cookery. That is: let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour...  let’s say 10 minutes. In the end, these were the best matzoh balls I’ve ever made: Perfectly shaped, light. Go know.
:huh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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