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Food Focus: The Seder Plate

By admin | April 6, 2012

Photo: mollyjade

Photo: mollyjade

By: Michael Engle

On Friday and Saturday nights, April 6 and 7, 2012, Jewish families worldwide will commemorate Passover with seders.  Seder is actually the Hebrew word for “order,” because there is a strict order to the festivities during these first two nights of Passover.  In addition to components such as ritual hand-washing, reading the haggadah, asking “The Four Questions,” and leaving drops of wine on the side of your plate, there is much more to a seder than just a Passover dinner.

Two food-centric centerpieces that appear on every seder table are the three-sheet pile of matzo and the seder plate.  The seder plate has six food items; each one carries its own symbolic element. Read More

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What Exactly Is Kosher?

By admin | April 5, 2012

Photo: Henk Kosters

Photo: Henk Kosters

By: Michael Engle

With Passover just about to begin, many may be wondering what in fact makes a food kosher or non-kosher. Few non-Jews truly know the meaning and reasoning for the kosher food label. Kosher food can be dated back to the beginning of the Jewish religion and are known as a framework for foods that are fit to be eaten by those practicing their Jewish faith.  But with little knowledge of what exactly is in our own processed food nowadays, it can seem a daunting task trying to figure out if something is kosher or not. Imagine having to, while grocery shopping, inspect every single label not just for calories and allergens, but also for religious approval. Luckily, kosher supermarkets exclusively stock kosher products, allowing observant shoppers to focus more of their energy on menu planning.

Kosher food products are specifically approved by trained kosher inspectors; they certify that each kosher item was made with kosher ingredients in a kosher facility.  By Jewish law, all kosher inspectors are graduates of rabbinical school.  Read More

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Everyone’s Favorite Jewish Dish: Matzo Ball Soup

By admin | March 30, 2012

Photo: devlyn

Photo: devlyn

By: Michael Engle

Exactly one week from now, Jews all over the world will be observing Passover (Pesach, in Hebrew, as well as in universal Jewish common vernacular) with the first of two seders.  Technically, by that time, all Jewish homes should be completely ridden of chametz, or leavened bread products.  During Passover, five common and normally-kosher grains: wheat, barley, rye, oat, and spelt, temporarily become forbidden in all forms, except for Kosher for Passover matzo.  In addition, beans and legumes are widely avoided, as per Eastern European tradition.  This is why certain high-fructose corn syrup-dependent products, such as Coca-Cola and Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup, make special batches with refined sugar, in order to maintain sales during Passover.  (Because of this seasonal change, certain food purists and enthusiasts, whether Jewish or gentile, buy these items in bulk during Passover.)

The most iconic Passover staple, matzo ball soup, is now in a class of its own.  No longer a week-long phenomenon, it is enjoyed year-round.  In fact, it is a very simple dish: all you have to do is make matzo balls, place them in a bowl with kosher chicken stock, and serve it!  Even spare dill sprigs or celery or carrot chunks can be considered superfluous.  Read More

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Jewish Comfort Food: The Latke and its Alternatives

By Michele Wolfson | December 19, 2011

Photo: sassyradish

Chanukah is almost here, giving Jews and their gentile friends an excuse to start their holiday noshing now! Jewish holidays tend to revolve around food, as the running theme among the chosen people’s festivities goes, “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”

The most customary Chanukah dish here in the United States would of course be the latke, also known as the potato pancake. But did you know that various Jewish traditions offer lots of alternatives?

For Sephardic Jews, fried pastries dipped in honey are popular. Among the Hasidic community in New York, a delicacy for the holiday is a cheese Danish named delkelekh. Italian Jews make a garlicky artichoke recipe that derives from the Roman Jewish ghetto. There are other varieties of pancakes besides the typical potato – cheese, curried sweet potato latkes, purple potato, zucchini, celery root, leek, and parsnip latkes (which are my personal favorite). If you are anything like me and have a hankering for sweets on the regular, there are sufganiyots. Sufganiyot are citrus-scented jelly doughnuts. Apple fritters are also quite tasty and easy to prepare.

Many Chanukah recipes involve the use of oil because this is, after all, the holiday that celebrates the famous miracle of Judah Maccabee and his brothers only having enough olive oil to light the candelabra in the Temple of Jerusalem for one night but miracle upon miracles- the oil ended up lasting for eight whole nights. The custom of celebrating the olive is a tradition in Israel since Chanukah is so intricately connected with olive oil. Therefore, munching on olives or dipping bread in a green grassy-flavored olive oil with roasted garlic would also be keeping with tradition this holiday season.

It is around this time of year that I am constantly complaining about my jeans being too tight. Even though latkes are typically deep fried, there are low-fat alternatives to the latke as well. Try baking your latkes instead of frying them or making a hearty vegetable soup as a first course option so that you are fuller by the time you get to the latkes. Also, homemade applesauce on the side as a dipping sauce is a nutritious option.

Jewish meals are typically made with love, and latkes are a dish that will satisfy any bubbie or shiksa alike. This year if you are lighting a menorah or sinking your teeth into a crispy golden brown salty or sweet latke, remember that we say “Happy Chanukah” because it is a celebration of happiness and the miracle of light.

 

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Rosh Hashanah: A Glimpse Beyond The Food

By admin | September 26, 2011

Photo: Avital Pinnick

Photo: Avital Pinnick

By: Saira Malhotra

This is the year of 5771-5772 in the Jewish religion and Rosh Hashanah will be observed around the globe from sunset this September 28th to night fall on September 30th. This pivotal date on the Jewish calendar marks the creation of the world and Man, according to most perspectives of Judaism. From a cultural standpoint there is certainly an emphasis on food and festivities, but like all religious holidays, Rosh Hashanah has a much deeper significance. Read More

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Passover Seder Dinner

By Admin | April 18, 2011

passover 2010

Tonight is the first night of Passover. At the Passover Seder, families gather around the dinner table to read the Haggadah, learning about the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Read More

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Happy Hannukah

By mahir | December 1, 2010

Photo: Paul Brissman (www.PaulBrissman.com)

 

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A great way to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah is to make delicious latkes for dinner.  Recently I shared my potato-based recipe for Latkes with Apple-Horseradish Sauce.  In this Wall Street Journal article, I’ve learned that potatoes are not the original base for these savory pancakes.  The included recipes from chefs would offer a delicious accompaniment to any holiday meal. Read More

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Top 5 Cookbooks For This Holiday Season

By mahir | November 29, 2010

Now that it’s after Thanksgiving, you may be starting to think about what to give your loved ones for the upcoming holidays.  Here are my five top picks for cookbooks to give this holiday season.

Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France Read More

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