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I think we can all agree that shakshuka is probably one of the greatest dishes ever created. It’s easy, simple and you can usually make it from stuff you already have in the house: canned tomatoes, spices and eggs. You can add vegetables like roasted eggplant, fresh (or frozen) spinach or cheese like feta or goat cheese.
It’s also versatile in terms of size: you can make a small portion and you can also make a much larger portion.
If you’ve never heard of mujaderra, get excited because it’s Middle Eastern comfort food at its best. Mujaderra is a vegetarian lentil and rice pilaf topped with piles of fried onions that has been a staple for Jews of Middle Eastern heritage for centuries.
Not only is the dish healthful and hearty, it is also incredibly easy to make. Read more about this traditional dish here and watch below for our short how-to video.
You know what’s the worst during summer? Turning on your oven. As if you aren’t shvitzing enough already, oh sure, let’s turn on the oven to make dinner and make the house 20 degrees warmer.
Crockpot cooking might seem more like a winter essential, but actually throwing dinner into your crockpot is a lot easier, and a lot cooler, then turning on that oven. So don’t break a sweat – let your crockpot be your secret to staying cool this summer, for weeknight cooking and even Shabbat! Here’s some favorite recipes to try:
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken from Lemon Tree Dwelling (substitute olive oil for butter)
And for dessert:
The post Why the Crockpot Is Your Secret Weapon for the Summer appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Considered the national dish of Thailand, Pad Thai is a favorite among many because it hits so many of the basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and umami, pronounced “ooh-ma-mee” (I know, it’s fun to say). Umami is known as one of the five basic senses, savory. I think of it as more of a mouth-feel and a deepness of flavor. You can find a variety of different Pad Thai dishes that include chicken, beef, and seafood, but the main ingredients remain the same: noodles, palm sugar/brown sugar (sweet), tamarind/lime juice (sour), fish sauce/soy sauce (salty/umami) and chili pepper (spicy).
When I think of my Jewish heritage, I think of a good, braised brisket. Brisket is that cut of beef that just works so well as a canvas to take on whatever flavors you add to it. Since Pad Thai has been made with beef, why not add a little Jewishness to it? I made this on a weeknight for dinner, so I didn’t have the time to dedicate for a proper braise, but I did the next best thing: I used my crockpot. If you don’t have one, you can wrap the brisket and marinade in foil tightly and cook it at 350F for approximately 3 hours, or until it is fork tender (that is, piercing it with a fork, and it slides out easily).
Pad Thai almost always has scrambled egg in it. I omitted it, since my youngest daughter has a mild allergy, but I encourage you to try that. In fact, add whatever vegetables you like. Essentially, it is the main ingredients that give this the ultimate flavor! There is a pleasant chewiness to the brisket that works so well against the noodles and the sauce; it’s like a party in your mouth! Make it for Shabbat and wow your guests. I am sure this would even be delicious at room temperature.
I like to think of recipes like this separated into different parts: your marinade and your brisket, the base which contains the noodles and vegetables, and the sauce to tie it together. Garnishes help to enhance the dish and bring more texture. I wrote out the recipe in this manner to make it easier.
Have you always wondered: what is the difference between Montreal-style bagels and New York-style bagels? They are both delicious, but they do have some subtle differences in both taste and the baking technique.
We recently had the chance to spend time at Black Seed Bagels in New York City, baking with Dianna Daoheung, Executive Chef, where we learned a few key differences about their bagels.
First, their bagels are Montreal-inspired, not strictly Montreal-style, and so the result is a hybrid between New York and Montreal bagels. The bagels are smaller in size than a typical New York bagel, softer on the outside and the dough is made with honey. Another key difference: each bagel is hand-rolled and baked in a wood oven and turned twice during baking time.
Watch the full video with food writer Devra Ferst to learn more about bagel baking, but you may want to grab a nosh first – the bagels are seriously drool-inducing. Or if you are ambitious, make your own with Black Seed’s recipe on Epicurious.com.
The post Montreal vs. New York Bagels: What’s the Difference? appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Do you love to keep a stocked pantry? Then we know you’ve got some cans of chickpeas hanging around.
And if you’ve got a can of chickpeas, then you’re probably just a few ingredients away from a satisfying, healthful and cheap meal or snack. Here’s nine chickpea-licious recipes to try.
And if you’re looking for even more ways to use chickpeas check out this ultimate list from Greatist.
There’s a reason chicken is a bit of a Friday night staple – before Jews came to America, red meat simply wasn’t abundantly available and therefore saved for special occasions. But also, chicken is a relatively easy dinner to prepare, especially when you roast a whole chicken.
This honey harissa and lemon chicken is as easy as any other roast chicken recipe, with a slightly sweet, slightly spicy twist.
But wait, you may be asking: what the heck is harissa? Harissa is a North African pepper and chili condiment, or paste, that was brought to Israel by the Jews of Tunisia and Morocco, and quickly became a popular flavoring. It can be found in dried form in the Israeli outdoor markets or as a paste in jars. Even many American supermarkets like Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Shop Rite and Trader Joe’s are carrying harissa (usually in the Ethnic aisle with other Middle Eastern products), and you can even try your hand at making your own. And there are so many ways to use it, from these lemon potatoes with harissa mayo to a spring greens fritatta.
But I recently got my hands on some NY Shuk harissa, and truly honestly, it is so much better than trying to make your own or many of the other store-bought varieties I have tried. It’s smoky, deep and not too spicy. And I have made chicken with it several times to the delight of my family and friends.
I like roasting a whole chicken using an upright roaster like this or this. I highly recommend investing in one – it makes such a different for a super moist bird on the inside, while still achieving that coveted crispy skin. If you want to add a rinsed and drained can of chickpeas in the bottom of your pan for the last 15 minutes, they are delicious with this chicken, but that step is completely optional.
I had the absolute privilege of speaking with her over the phone recently to talk about her upbringing as a Jew in Mexico City, her unconventional path to becoming a chef (she studied political science – just like me!) and the ways she fuses Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mexican flavors into her holiday and everyday cooking.
Pati is one of the warmest, funniest, smartest ladies I have ever met, and I technically haven’t even met her yet. Read more about how she spreads guacamole and gribenes on challah and set your DVR for Season 6 of “Pati’s Mexican Table,” which premieres in September on PBS.
It was definitely different than growing up Jewish in America – Mexico is mostly a Catholic country, which really influences every part of the culture including all kinds of holidays. Unlike in Argentina where there were clashes with anti-Semitism, the Jewish community has a very good relationship with the political institutions and societal organizations of Mexico. But the Jewish community is very complex and divided between the Ashkenazim and Sephardim. They each have different schools, synagogues and organizations. And if someone married out of the Sephardi or Asheknazi community, that is considered intermarriage.
I grew up on the fringes of the Jewish community – I didn’t go to Jewish scouts, a Jewish school or the JCC. Out of 125 kids in my class, I was only one of two Jews. In fact, as the youngest of four kids in my family, I went to church many Sundays with my nana (babysitter).
When I was young I had a hard time separating the two. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wasn’t a Gomez or a Lopez or a García, so when people heard my last name it was like – who is this person? And I did get mean things said to me by other kids sometimes. It took me until I moved to the United States and had my own children to see all the pieces of who I am in harmony.
Everything Jewish we did was with our grandparents, who were all refugees from WWII and the pogroms. My two sets of grandparents were very different from one another – my Polish grandparents were from a humble, very hard-working background. And the food they cooked reflected that – simple Ashkenazi food like gefilte fish, chicken soup and kreplach. And my Austrian-Czechoslovakian grandparents were from more refined families – they were very elegant and cultured. They served the most exquisite food in their home that was reflective of their Austro-Hungarian background. My grandmother’s sister, after surviving a concentration camp, even opened an Austrian bakery in Mexico where she fused her European roots with her new Mexican surroundings.
So, how did you become a chef?
I was a political analyst before I was a chef. I wanted to be a writer and philosopher when I was in high school, but because of where I went to college and what majors were offered, I studied political science. After college I met my husband, who had already lived abroad in the U.S. and so after we were married, we moved to Texas and then Washington, DC. where I finished my graduate work and then worked at a think tank.
During the time I was getting my green card, I couldn’t go back to Mexico to visit until the process was complete, and I became very homesick for Mexico, which threw me into cooking and food. But for a long time food was only a hobby, and work was “serious stuff.”
When I was 33, I had existential crisis, and I realized I didn’t really like the job I was doing. I had two children and I didn’t want to give them an example of a mom who has worked so hard to be a miserable person. What I wanted instead was to set an example of taking leaps of faith and following your gut. I resigned, enrolled in culinary school with the goal of becoming a food writer, building upon the skills I already possessed as a policy analyst. After culinary school I started teaching and talking to audiences and I realized I really loved it – so I went in another direction.
Growing up every Friday we would go to my grandparents’ house for Shabbat, where we would enjoy sliced challah with guacamole, mixed with hard-boiled egg salad and topped with caramelized onions and gribenes. We literally began every meal with that! It’s quite good.
I love being Mexican, and I love being Jewish. The older I get, the prouder I get of my ancestry and I see no contradiction between the two and there are many dishes I make that fuse both. There’s a brisket akin to a recipe my grandmother made that I love. It’s like a sweet and sour brisket, but I make mine with pasilla chilies, brown sugar and tomatillos. Another favorite recipe is chicken with tamarind, apricot and chipotle sauce, or my mushroom and jalapeño matzah ball soup.
The post Guacamole with Gribenes: How Chef Pati Jinich Fuses Mexican and Jewish Food appeared first on My Jewish Learning.
Photo credit Ellen Silverman.
My grandfather on my mother’s side, Francisco, whom we called “Yeye,” was wild about chiles. Not very common in his native Bratislava, I guess. He used to say that what he loved the most about his new country was the predictable weather (especially the bright sunny winters), the colorful markets, and most of all, the chiles. All of them.
He was oh so very crazy about them, that my grandmother used to hide them from him. She complained that he had no boundaries, no sense of measure, when eating chiles. He simply would not stop.
But he knew all her tricks, discovered all her hiding spots, and when he found the prized chiles, he would stuff them in his pockets. Not only fresh jalapeños or serranos but also wet pickled jalapeños. Those must have been some messy pockets to wash…
My “Lali” liked to please him though. She had Austrian training in the kitchen and made exquisite and elegant foods. Once in Mexico, she fell in love with the cuisine and learned how to combine the two culinary traditions. She became a master at it.
She created a classic dish out of her Mushroom-Jalapeño Matzah Ball Soup.
The farmer’s markets are brimming with fresh vegetables from eggplant and zucchini to tomatoes and corn. So we thought now was a great time to change up your favorite chicken schnitzel for a plant-based version – made with fresh, colorful vegetables, tofu or even chickpeas. Here’s five delicious recipes to try.
The post Veggie Schnitzel So Good You’ll Never Go Back to Chicken appeared first on My Jewish Learning.