Tag Archives: Jewish

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.

 

 

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Grandma Fritzie’s Syrian Passover Soup

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Today’s post by the Jewish Food Society shows my family recipe for Kibbeh Hamdah, a Syrian soup made with lamb meatballs, dried mint, and lots of lemon. If you like tart flavors, this is the dish for you. Enjoy!

 

Moroccan Date-Raisin Haroset “Truffles”

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Moroccan Style Haroset
(Cinnamon Dusted Date-Raisin “Truffles” with Walnuts, Rolled in Cinnamon)
Yield: Serves 12 / Makes approximately 3 cups or 4 dozen 1-inch balls

A recipe from my cookbook Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe, Section 1: Africa, Chapter 5.

This Moroccan haroset is shaped into a small ball, then rolled in ground cinnamon to resemble an elegant truffle. For the most impressive way to serve visually, stack balls on top of one another into a pyramid shape on an elegant platter alongside any other more classic haroset spread in a bowl. When it comes time to eat, guests may help themselves to a single truffle and eat it straight, or pressed down between two small pieces of matzah as a sandwich.

For Haroset:
1 cup walnuts

½ cup slivered almonds
12 large Medjool dates or 20 regular-size dates, pitted and cut into large pieces
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dark raisins
3 to 4 tablespoons sweet Passover wine, such as Manischewitz

For Serving:
1 box of matzah/matzo squares or mini matzah crackers

Cinnamon (for rolling and dusting the outside)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the walnuts and almonds in the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, but not into a meal-like consistency (about 30 seconds).

2. Add the dates and raisins and combine in the food processor for about 30 seconds.

3. Add the wine and pulse until the mixture becomes a soft paste.

4. Taking one level tablespoon (or mini melon ball scoop) at a time, roll the thick paste into 1-inch balls* (if the paste is sticking too much to your hands, try dipping your hands in cold water and then rolling them).

5. When all of the balls have been rolled, pour a couple of tablespoons of ground
cinnamon onto a small plate and gently roll each ball in the cinnamon to lightly coat the outside. (You can also dust your hands with cinnamon and then roll each ball again
between your palms to lightly coat, whichever way is easier.)

6. Serve haroset balls at room temperature stacked in a small decorative bowl or on a small platter alongside tea matzahs. Store balls in a tightly covered plastic container between layers of parchment or wax paper in the refrigerator for up to three days, or the freezer for up to one month.

*Note: If you wish to serve the mixture in the more common way of a paste in a bowl, then add a little more wine or warm water to make a bit smoother and softer for spreading.

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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TooGoodToPassover_InteriorSpread_Iraq_2TooGoodToPassover_InteriorSpread_Iraq_3TooGoodToPassover_JAbadi_KINDLE_cover_AFRICA_blog_outlined

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)

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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.

Bukharian Egg & Matzah Soup with Sour Golden Plums

Soup_Matzah13This recipe is adapted from the one that I learned from Amnun Kimyagarov and his wife Zoya during my trip to Rego Park in late August of 2013 (see previous post from September 15, 2013). You can also find this recipe (called, “Oshi Masozgoshak“) in Amnun’s cookbook: “Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs.”

The original recipe uses unripe green apricots, but dried yellow or golden plums are substituted here in the U.S. The trick is to add a slight tart flavor to the soup. Dried apricots can be used if you cannot find the dried yellow or golden plums in a Russian, Eastern European, or Asian grocery store, but keep in mind that the flavor should be more tart than sweet. Zoya used imported dried Olucha which are dried yellow plums that resemble giant golden raisins. According to Amnun’s Bukharian/Russian/English dictionary this translated to “Cornelian Cherry” and looked like this (see below):

YellowPlums_DriedWhen I went looking in a Russian grocery in Queens (right after my visit with Amnun and Zoya) I couldn’t find the same dried yellow plums that they had used, so instead I got a box of something that looked similar called Uzbek Apricot Kondak, which on the container were translated as “Small Size Apricots with Pits” (photo below). The Apricot Kondak were much more sweet than the Olucha that Zoya had used but looked pretty in the soup (make sure to warn guests about the big pits!). Perhaps the next time I would try to use a more sour apricot like the California variety. After emailing Amnun about this he told me that the taste of the soup should have a slightly sour flavor, so if you cannot find the dried sour plums you should add a few tablespoons of lemon juice instead.

Apricot_Kondak1Oshi Masozgoshak
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10
/Makes about 15 cups)

For Soup:
3 tablespoons vegetable, safflower, or canola oil

2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large)

1¼ pounds veal stew, beef stew, or chicken thighs cut into ¼-inch pieces

12 cups homemade plain veal, beef, or chicken broth or water

Meat bone (can be 2 reserved bones from chicken thighs, or 1 from veal or beef)

2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 to 4 generous grindings of fresh black pepper
¾ pound carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
¾ pound white potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
1½ cups dried golden or yellow plums, or Persian dried sour plums*
2 cups finely chopped sorrel leaves or loosely packed coriander leaves (stems discarded)

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

*If you cannot find these from an Asian, Persian, Central Asian/Russian, or Middle Eastern
specialty grocery store then substitute with dried California apricots and several tablespoons of
freshly squeezed lemon juice until you have reached desired tartness.

For Serving:
4 squares matzah, broken into 2-inch pieces

STEPS:
1. Pour oil into a large 4- to 6-quart pot or saucepan and warm over high heat for 1 minute.

Reduce to a medium-high heat and mix in onions. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until very soft
but not browned.

2. Add meat and mix well. Cook meat, stirring often, until it becomes a greyish-brown color,
about 5 minutes.

3. Pour in broth (or water), and add bone(s), salt, and pepper and bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

4. Add the whole dried plums or apricots, mix well, and continue to simmer an additional
15 minutes uncovered.

5. Add the carrot and potato pieces, and chopped sorrel (or coriander leaves) and mix well.
Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, just until potatoes become soft but not mushy.

6. Slowly add the beaten eggs while stirring until eggs become long strands like egg drop soup,
about 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately into individual soup bowls with
about ½ a square matzah broken up into each bowl.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

My Roadtrip to Regostan, Queens

Amnun_TableSetting_BlogOne sunny Sunday morning in late August, I ventured out to Queens to meet Amnun Kimyagarov, the author of “Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs.” (I learned about this book from a woman named Dahlia who I had interviewed for the Afghani/Bukharian chapter of my Passover cookbook.) Amnun’s phone number was right there in the book, so why not call? Amnun answered the phone and, after I introduced myself and told him about my Passover cookbook project, agreed to my coming to him for an interview about Bukharian Passover traditions and foods.

As expected, the subway ride from the Upper West Side to Rego Park, Queens on a Sunday was a challenge, but I was prepared leaving plenty of time. (Something else I found very confusing was the layout of Queens: Is it 53rd Drive, 53rd Road, or 53rd Street? I definitely felt like I was in a foreign land!) But in the end I did make it to Amnun’s with even 15 minutes to spare, choosing to explore the main supermarket on Queens Boulevard with its interesting foods and packaged goods from Central Asia (and Russian radio blasting in the background).

Amnun_Zoya_BlogUpon arriving at Amnun’s I was greeted with a friendly smile by both Amnun and his wife Zoya. The table sitting right there in the middle of the living room was covered with a white tablecloth and arranged like a still life of fresh fruits and melon slices, round Central Asian breads, diamond-shaped walnut pastries, a platter of dried fruit, nuts, and green tea. It was so beautiful I had to take a photo before even sitting down. Zoya presented me with this large flat bread whose texture looked just like a matzah, but in the form of a shallow wok or bowl. They told me that it was a special Bukharian cracker-like bread called Noni Toqiy that was baked in a traditional clay oven called a tandyr,  the same kind of oven that was used for baking matzah (what they called maso) during Passover. Even though this bread was not technically the matzah used for Passover (it was August after all!), they told me that it very much looked like the Bukharian maso. I was fascinated to imagine how their matzah would look so different from the store-bought ones that I knew growing up that were always square, totally flat, and half the size.

MatzahSoup_BukharianIn addition to the matzah, Zoya was generous with her time by showing me how to make Oshi Masozgoshak,matzah-egg soup with cilantro, chopped veal, and dried yellow plums. Traditionally the soup would use special green apricots that were available in Central Asia during the spring time. They were hard, and green, and very tart because they were not yet ripe, but when added to the soup became soft and imparted a special flavor. Because these green apricots were not something that could be found in Queens (much less in the U.S.), they instead substituted a dried yellow plum in its place, which also has a distinct sourness to it. These yellow plums are also known as golden plums and come from Central Asia. With the scrambled egg mixed into the chicken broth, it reminded me of the common Chinese egg drop soup, and made me wonder if this was one of the Asian influences on Bukharian cooking? The addition of the matzah made it Jewish and for Passover, and the sour plums/apricots felt Middle or Near Eastern.

YellowPlums_DriedUpon leaving I was given one of the round breads and the remaining matzah pieces to take home, and Amnun and Zoya hospitably walked me to the supermarket right near the subway, where i shopped for yogurt, pirogis, and these unusual dried yellow plums. What I ended up finding was something called Apricot Kondak from Uzbekistan, which looked similar to the dried golden plums that Zoya had put into the soup. Perhaps these were the same apricot that they mentioned using fresh and green in Uzbekistan? I will have to ask.

Overall it was a very successful day, and reminded me why I was writing this blog and my Passover cookbook to begin with.

Streit’s matzah factory preparing six months before Passover!

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On our way to Streit’s matzah factory!
Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.KosherLikeMe.com

On February 12th I gave one of my Jewish food tours of the Lower East Side. I had three people on my tour: one woman who was also a docent for marketplaces in Turkey, one visitor all the way from Australia, and Liz Reuven, a food blogger for Kosher Like Me. After making our way down East Houston Street to have delicious tastes from Yonah Schimmel’s Knishes, Russ & Daughters appetizing shop, and the famous Katz’s Delicatessen, we continued down Rivington Street towards the Streit’s matzah factory. I never am quite sure if Streit’s will be open since the owners are very observant (and there are often small holidays that I don’t even know about!), but that morning we were lucky. As soon as we walked into the store the warm smell of freshly baked matzah greeted us. Directly to the right of the door large, flat squares of perforated matzah were being pushed out of the machine, reminding me of of an old fashioned printing press. And behind the counter was Rabbi Kirshner, warmly welcoming us into the store
and factory.

Window sign at Streit's matzah factory on the Lower East Side;Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.kosherlikeme.com.

Window sign at Streit’s matzah factory on the Lower East Side.
Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.KosherLikeMe.com

Streit’s was first founded by Aron Streit (an immigrant from Austria) and his wife in 1916. The factory was originally set up on Pitt Street on the Lower East Side, but the present location on Rivington Street has been the same since 1925, and is still family owned. Each trip to the factory I learn something new and interesting. For example, the factory looks small since you see only the store and one of the machines upfront, however the factory is actually four buildings wide and several floors high, and where ALL of the Streit’s matzot and other products are produced for all commercial sales. On the shelves you can purchase more than just simple matzah. Red jelly candies called, “Gefilte Fish” hanging in small bags on the wall bring small chuckles from customers, while on the shelves sit a variety of matzah types such as whole wheat, organic, spelt, and egg — all of which reflect the modern palate. Rabbi Kirshner noted that for half of the year they are producing matzah and related products for every day consumption. I was curious about who all of these people were that bought matzah year-round (for me it’s really just something that you do during the week of Passover once a year) and he further went on to explain that there were a number of customers who enjoyed the crispy texture of the matzah, and felt it to be a healthier substitute for crackers and breads since it was low in salt, sugar, and fat. These matzot also contained some added ingredients, such as vegetable oil or seasonings, while the ones made just for Passover time only have flour and water.

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The original matzah making “printing press”.

Fresh baked matzah from Streit's factory; Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.kosherlikeme.com.

Closeup of matzah rolling out of oven.
Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.KosherLikeMe.com

The preparation of kasher-ing and cleaning the entire factory and machines (to produce matzah that is KLP, or Kasher L’Pesach) began as early as Sukkot, six months before Passover begins (on this morning I noticed that the non-KLP products were on sale by 50% in order to start cleaning the shelves and make way for the KLP ones in mid-March). During this time they meticulously take apart each machine (removing every tiny screw), carry them to the curbside, and clean them in the appropriate fashion before reconstructing the machines again. This is serious stuff, and I thought about the amount of time, money, and dedication it takes to keep this business going. The other very important factor is the preparation of the matzot for Passover. For these you have the rabbis overseeing the production to make sure that the total time that it takes for the matzah ingredients to be mixed together, rolled out, cut, and completely baked must be no more than 18 minutes from begging to end. The understood rule is that it is believed that up until 18 minutes the dough has not had enough time to rise in any way. After 18 minutes the leavening process begins, making the matzah unkosher for Passover consumption. In order to be sure that there is no contamination, the mixers have to be thoroughly cleaned between each batch so as to be sure that there are no small remnants of dough left that could have leavened during that time and affect future batches. I started to shake my head in amazement thinking how exhausting this whole process was. But then I smiled realizing that what made this factory so unique was not simply that it still existed after all of these years on the Lower East Side, but that its owners had been training its staff how to follow the same stringent rituals of producing their matzah as their great-grandparents had. The patient and religious attention to detail is paramount to the quality and integrity of the product, and what it symbolizes. I have had several individuals confide in me that they would never eat matzah any other time of the year because “it tastes like cardboard”. But on Passover, the taste is familiar and delicious. This is because the matzah tells a story of our Hebrew ancestors when they were fleeing from Egypt and did not have enough time to let the dough for their bread rise in the usual way. When you bite into that first piece of matzah on the first night of Passover, you know that the traditions have been kept for centuries, and even as a fairly secular Jew, I respect that dedication to observance. This is the aspect of Jewish food, and particularly Passover food, that I love and want to help keep alive. Without the rigorous attention to detail inherent in these ancient Passover rituals, the matzah would cease to be special, and so would the holiday itself, even to those of us who are less observant.

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Me with Rabbi Kirschner.

Here are some links to other things regarding matzah and Streit’s that you might be interested in:

YouTube video of Rabbi Kirshner speaking,
January 31, 2013

“The Amazing Matzo Stimulus,”
New York Times, April 2012.

The Seder

A Simple Passover Haggadah

Eshkol HaKofer

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

too GOOD to PASSOVER

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

In my Iraqi Kitchen: Recipes, History and Culture, by Nawal Nasrallah

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

Bendichas Manos

a blog about living, cooking and caring in the Ladino tradition

KOSHER LIKE ME

COMING SOON

my madeleine

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

A Kosher Christmas

'Tis the Season to be Jewish

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