Category Archives: Posts

Remembering Grandma Fritzie

GrandmaFritzieAbadi

On May 22, 2001, Grandma Fritzie passed away on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
I have been thinking a lot about her lately.

Only a week ago I received an email by a woman named Francine in Tucson who had purchased  a lithograph by my grandmother at an estate sale.

After doing a search online Francine came across my website and information about the life of my grandmother. She was intrigued by her strong personality and drive to be a female artist in the sixties and seventies, and was reminded of her own Brooklyn born Italian-American family, with their large family gatherings that centered around great food. When I received this email with the photo of my grandmother’s lithograph, I was happy to know that her artwork was keeping the memory of her alive. 

Unfortunately Grandma Fritzie never got to see my cookbook “A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen” when it was officially printed in 2002. But I am so very grateful that I spent so much personal time with her while writing it. This book was what brought me into the world of recipe recording and teaching, and Syrian food was my first lesson.

 

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Painting by my grandmother hanging in my apartment, possibly a self portrait from the 1960s

Very recently I received a letter from the publisher that all rights to the cookbook had been reverted back to me. My first reaction was to feel sad because I thought that if my cookbook was no longer being printed, my grandmother’s, mother’s and family’s stories and recipes would be forgotten (which was the whole point of writing this book to begin with!). But then I realized this was an opportunity for me to take back my book and relaunch it with revised (and possibly even new) recipes. I have learned a lot about self-publishing this last year when “Too Good To Passover” was released in January, and it almost feels like “A Fistful of Lentils” has finally come back home to me in my care. 

By the end of this year I hope to relaunch a new edition to “A Fistful of Lentils” that will continue to keep my family’s stories and recipes, and the Syrian-Jewish culture alive. Stay tuned! 

 

 

 

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Happy 70th Birthday Israel! My podcast with Steven Shalowitz on popular Israeli foods and their origins

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In honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary (April 18, 2018), I was interviewed by Steven Shalowitz to discuss popular Israeli food for JNF’s Podcast (the Jewish National Fund), IsraelCast. Tune in as we discuss the origins of shakshuka, borekas, felafel, hummus, halvah, the biblical herb za’tar, and shnitzel. (I will even talk about how pastrami became a Jewish-American deli favorite!)

Click here for JNF’s Podcast, IsraelCast
(Scroll down to “Episodes” and you will find it listed first as
episode 25, Culinary Expert Jennifer Abadi.)

Note:
In the second half of my talk I will also briefly discuss my new cookbook
Too Good To Passover.

 

 

A Matzah Mosaic Decorating Party!

The whole idea behind the Passover holiday is to get the kids involved. What better way than to have a matzah decorating party? Every year my kids enjoy decorating sheets of matzah that we give to our guests as gifts to take home with them after the Seder meal. Just melt chocolate and paint it on using pastry brushes, then stick on your favorite candies, sprinkles, or chopped up nuts and dried fruit. It’s fun for adults as well! Make sure that the chocolate has dried completely before placing into Ziploc baggies and storing in the freezer until ready to eat. You need only defrost about 20 minutes before.

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The One Way Ticket Show: My trip to the Ottoman Empire to meet the Sultan.

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In a recent interview by Steven Shalowitz for his podcast The One Way Ticket Show, I was asked the following question: “If I gave you a one-way ticket, past, present, future, real, imaginary or state of mind, where would you go?” (Remember — there’s no coming back!)

Putting aside the fact that by going back in time I would be giving up some of the great discoveries in medicine, technology, and advancements in human rights, I chose to go back to the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid 1500s. (I had briefly considered the golden age of Jewish culture in Spain in the 8th and 9th centuries, but decided I didn’t want to be stuck there once the Inquisitions began.)

One Way Ticket Show

 

 

The Seder gift that is (really) “Too Good To Passover!”

Now that Purim is over, the countdown for Passover has begun! If you are hosting a Seder or invited to one as a guest, don’t forget to make Too Good To Passover a part of your holiday.

Please spread the word to your friends, colleagues, and family.
(And thank you for leaving a book review! 🙂 )

CLICK HERE TO ORDER in the U.S.A.

For those of you outside of the U.S. you can order my book and have it shipped directly from the local Amazon in the following countries:

CANADA
FRANCE
SPAIN
ITALY
GERMANY
U.K. & IRELAND
NETHERLANDS

Thank you,

JenniferAbadi_small

Jennifer

About Too Good To Passover
Too Good To Passover is the first Passover cookbook specializing in traditional Sephardic, Judeo-Arabic, and Central Asian recipes and customs (covering both pre- and post-Passover rituals) appealing to Sephardic, Mizrahic, and Ashkenazic individuals who are interested in incorporating something traditional yet new into their Seders.

A compilation of more than 200 Passover recipes from 23 Jewish communities, this cookbook-memoir provides an anthropological as well as historical context to the ways in which the Jewish communities of North Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Middle East observe and enjoy this beloved ancient festival.

In addition to full Seder menus, Passover-week recipes, and at least one “break-fast” dish, each chapter opens up with the reflections of a few individuals from that region or territory. Readers can learn about the person’s memories of Passover as well as the varying customs regarding pre-Passover rituals, including cleaning the home of all hametz or “leavening,” Seder customs (such as reenacting the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt), or post-Passover celebrations, such as the Moroccan Mimouneh for marking the end of the week-long “bread fast.” These customs provide a more complete sense of the cultural variations of the holiday.

Too Good To Passover is a versatile and inspiring reference cookbook, appealing to those who may want to do a different “theme” each Passover year, with possibly a Turkish Seder one year, or Moroccan one the next.

See inside my book! Sample Spreads:

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The following 3 e-booklets are
also available on Amazon
:
E-BOOKLET 1: Seder Menus and Memories from AFRICA
(Pages 1-223/Chapters 1-6:
Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia)

E-BOOKLET 2: Seder Menus and Memories from ASIA
(Pages 225-473/Chapters 7-13:
Afghanistan & Bukharia, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria & Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen)

E-BOOKLET 3: Seder Menus and Memories from EUROPE
(Pages 475-665/Chapters 14-18:
Bulgaria & Moldova, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar)

Jennifer_WritingRecipe_3BW

About Jennifer Abadi
Jennifer Abadi lives in New York City and is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Sephardic and Judeo-Arabic recipes and food customs. A culinary expert in the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa, Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC). She also offers private lessons and works for a variety of clients in the New York City area as a personal chef. In addition, Jennifer provides Jewish food and culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Her first cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen is a collection of recipe and stores from her family. Too Good To Passover is her second cookbook.

From Haman to Pharoah: Common symbolism in Purim and Passover.

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The holiday of Purim has some parallels to Passover, and marks the beginning of the 30-day countdown to the Seder. In both cases we retell a time when the Jewish people faced near extermination and were saved. On Purim we read in the Book of Esther, how Haman (the evil vizier of King Ahasuerus) tried to annihilate the Jews and Queen Esther stepped in to save them. During Passover we retell the story of the Book of Exodus when Moses saved our ancestors from the evil Pharoah by bringing us out of Egypt.

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Interestingly enough, the original date when Haman first cast his lot (to choose when to destroy the Jews) was the 13th of Nisan, while the 14th of Nisan (the first eve of Passover) was when Queen Esther called for the Jews of Susa to join her in a 3-day fast before appealing to the King to protect her people. (It was later that the fast dates were set to begin on the eve of Purim — the 13th of Adar.)

HamantaschenMaking_2web

Food in many Eastern cultures, and especially in Judaism, plays an important role in commemorating particular moments in our history. By consuming matzah —
“the Bread of Affliction” — we relive the story of Passover by recalling when our ancestors fled through the desert without having enough time for the bread to rise. During Purim,
we destroy Haman’s evil plan to kill all the Jews by eating stuffed pastries that symbolize his pocketful of lots (for selecting the date for annihilation), or money (to bribe the king). The most well known Purim pastries in the United States (brought over by German Jews) are called Hamantaschen, meaning, “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish/German, and while we often see them filled with either prune or apricot filling, the original pastries had poppy seeds, and were based upon popular German cookies called, Mohntaschen (meaning, “poppy seed pockets”).

HamantaschenMaking_4web

I decided to prepare Hamantaschen this year as a way to kick off my preparations for Passover, as well as teach my kids how to make them. To give a slight Middle Eastern flavor I added a few teaspoons of orange blossom water to the apricot jam, and I cooked down prunes with dates, cinnamon, and a little sugar for my own homemade prune butter (blending it until very smooth in the food processor). I don’t have a cookie recipe of my own to share, but you can follow one of the hundreds of good ones out there, and try my idea for the fillings.

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Chag Sameach!

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Check out my sister’s Purim story!

 

 

“Too Good To Passover” Book-Signings and Talks

“Too Good To Passover” Cookbook
Talk, Signing and Haroset Tasting

WHEN:
Sunday, March 4
11:15 am-1 pm

WHERE:
Glen Rock Jewish Center
682 Harristown Road
Glen Rock, NJ

EVENT: 
$5 entrance fee for non-Sisterhood Members;
Food donations for the local shelter welcome.

Signed copies of my new cookbook
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories from
Africa, Asia, and Europe”
will be on sale following the talk
(cash preferred;  payment by check
or Chase QuickPay also accepted)

The following 3 tastes will be served:
(KOSHER: Parve)

Moroccan Haroset
(Cinnamon Dusted Date-Raisin “Truffles”
with Walnuts, Rolled in Cinnamon

Syrian Haroset
(Apricot Spread with Pistachios,
and Orange Blossom Water)

Portuguese Haroset
(Raisin and Banana Spread with Pistachios,
Ginger, Allspice, and Sangria)

RSVP:
sisterhood@grjc.org

 

“Too Good To Passover” Cookbook
Talk & Signing

WHEN:
Sunday, March 11
2—4 pm

WHERE:
Kehila Kedosha Janina
280 Broome Street

EVENT: 
Entrance FREE!
Signed copies of my new cookbook
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories from
Africa, Asia, and Europe”
will be on sale following the talk
(cash preferred; check and PayPal
also accepted)

Kosher refreshments will be served.

RSVP:
museum@kkjsm.org
516-456-9336

 

“Too Good To Passover” Sephardic Seder
Cooking Class
(Meat/NOT KOSHER)

Each student will receive a signed copy
of my new cookbook:
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories
from Africa, Asia, and Europe!”

WHEN:
Monday, March 12
10 am-2:30 pm

WHERE:
ICE (the Institute of Culinary Education)
225 Liberty Street

MENU:
Syrian Haroset with Dried Apricots, Pistachios,
and Orange Blossom Water

Moroccan Haroset “Truffles” with Dates,
Raisins, and Walnuts

Iranian Chicken Soup with
Chickpea Dumplings

Moroccan Potato Pie
Stuffed with Spiced Beef

Algerian Fish Dumplings
with Tomatoes & Fresh Coriander

Moroccan Stewed Prunes with Onions,
Cinnamon, and Roasted Almonds

Persian Pistachio Cake
wtih Cardamom Syrup

Italian Macaroons with
Almonds and Pignoli Nuts

TO REGISTER:
recreational.ice.edu
800.522.4610

 

“Too Good To Passover” Cookbook
Talk, Signing and Haroset Tasting

WHEN:
Sunday, March 18
4—5:30 pm

WHERE:
SAJ (The Society for the Advancement of Judaism)
15 West 86th Street
(Between Central Park West & Columbus Avenues)

EVENT:
Entrance FREE!
(Donations welcome to support learning at
SAJ’s Makom and Pela family education programs.)
Signed copies of my new cookbook
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories from
Africa, Asia, and Europe”
will be on sale following the talk
(cash preferred;  payment by check
or Chase QuickPay also accepted)

MENU: The following 3 tastes will be served:
(KOSHER STYLE: Parve/Non-dairy)

Moroccan Haroset
(Cinnamon Dusted Date-Raisin “Truffles”
with Walnuts, Rolled in Cinnamon

Syrian Haroset
(Apricot Spread with Pistachios,
and Orange Blossom Water)

Portuguese Haroset
(Raisin and Banana Spread with Pistachios,
Ginger, Allspice, and Sangria)

QUESTIONS:
thesaj.org

REGISTER:
SAJ Registration Page

 

Sephardic Vegetarian Seder
Cooking Class

(Kosher: Dairy/Vegetarian)

Signed copies of my new cookbook
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories from
Africa, Asia, and Europe”
will be on sale following the talk
(cash preferred;  payment by check
or Chase QuickPay also accepted)

WHEN:
Monday, March 19th
7-9:30 pm

WHERE:
JCC Manhattan
(Jewish Community Center)
334 Amsterdam Ave @76th Street

MENU:
Greek Haroset with Black Raisins, Oranges,
Walnuts, and Apple Cider Vinegar

Turkish Matzah Spread with Feta Cheese,
Paprika, Garlic, and Mint

Italian Matzah “Lasagna” with Crushed Tomatoes,
Basil, and Pot Cheese

Sephardic Carrot Salad with Cumin,
Raisins and Saffron

Egyptian Macaroons with
Toasted Walnuts, Pecans, and Dates

TO REGISTER:
jccmanhattan.org
646. 505.5713

 

Egyptian Passover Tasting & Demo Fundraiser
for the JDC (Jewish Joint Distribution Committee)


EVENT:
Suggested donation: $180/person
(fully tax deductible!)
—Your donation for this event will secure
your registration, while allowing the JDC to provide
lifesaving support and food for one of the poorest
Jews in the world for 8 months!

A signed copy of my new cookbook
“Too Good To Passover:
Seder Menus & Memories from
Africa, Asia, and Europe”
is included with your donation/registration!

WHEN:
Monday, March 26th
6-7:30 pm

WHERE:
450 West 17th Street
Social Room on 14th Floor

MENU: The following tastes will be
served 
(KOSHER: Dairy/Vegetarian):

THE FOLLOWING WILL BE DEMONSTRATED
AND SERVED:
Beignets de Fromage:
Matzah-Cheese Fritters with Honey & Silan

THE FOLLOWING TASTES WILL BE SERVED:
Moroccan Haroset Date-Raisin “Truffles” Rolled in Cinnamon
Syrian Apricot Haroset with Pistachios and Orange Blossom Water
Italian Date-Banana Haroset with Oranges, Cinnamon and Cloves

TO REGISTER:
Donate.JDC.org

TO REGISTER:
Please contact Tarang Jagota
tarang.jagota@jdc.org

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