Tuesday, January 31, 2006

That Rutabaga Thing

That rutabaga thing turned out very well so I want to provide a more complete recipe. This recipe has elements from two recipes from Greene on Greens by Bert Greene: Bashed Neeps, which combine rutabagas and potatoes; and Rutabaga Scratch Backs, in which rutabagas and grits are baked together. The idea for the potato cake turns up in Cucina Fresca by Viana La Place and Evan Kleinman and Verdura by La Place.

Russets and Rutas (That Rutabaga Thing)

2 pounds each russet potatoes and rutabaga—slightly less after peeling and trimming
½ pound each cooked hominy grits and grated cheddar
1 tablespoon butter
2 or 3 eggs, beaten
salt, black pepper and paprika to taste
butter for the pan
3/4 cup nice crumbs

(Totally optional: if you have some cooked beans on hand, mash about ¾ cup for a middle layer. I used yin-yang beans from Purcell Mountain Farms)

Preheat oven to 350 and butter an 8-inch springform pan and coat lavishly with toasted crumbs. Peel and cut up the rutabaga and potatoes. Cook them (separately) in boiling salted water until very tender. Drain and allow to cool somewhat. Save the liquid for your next soup. Puree the rutabaga and mash or rice the potatoes. Mix together the mashed vegetables, butter, grits, cheese, beaten eggs and seasonings. Put half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top. If you are using beans, spread the beans in a thin layer over the potato-batter. Scrape the remaining potato-batter into the pan, smooth the top, and cover with remaining breadcrumbs and several shakes of paprika. Bake for about thirty minutes. Allow to cool before unmolding.

Can it possibly be Tuesday already? Then this must be for Sweetnicks! I really tried to photograph this for y’all, but no joy. Here’s a picture of Bert, though.

Monday, January 30, 2006

װי אַזױ טריקנט דער קיסר טײ

אין „דעם קיסרס עין־הרע” פֿון מרדכּי צאַנין, באַקלאָגט זיך אַ מלמדס אַ ייִדענע װען ער לאָזט פֿאַלן דעם קיסר (דאָס הײסט, אַ פּאָרטרעט פֿונעם קיסר) פֿון די הענט׃

„בטלן אײנער!“ —האָט שפּרינצע שיִע זלמנס אַ קװיטש געטאָן, — װאָס האָסטו מורא געהאַט צו געבן מיר דעם קיסר אין דאָ הענט אַרײַן? האָסט מורא געהאַט איך װעל אים פֿאַרקנעטן אין די לאָקשן? קענסט דאָך אַפֿילו דעם קיסר נישט אױפֿהענגען!“

שפּרינצע שיִע זלמנס אױסדרוק װעגן „פֿאַרקנעטן )דעם קיסר( אין די לאָקשן“ געפֿעלט מיר זײער. נאָך געשמאַקע „לאָקשן“ אױסדרוקן געפֿינען זיך דאָ.

דער קיסר װערט דערמאָנט (צוזאמען מיט ייִדיש עסן) אינעם ליד „װי אַזױ טריקנט דער קיסר טײ?“

מען נעמט אַ היטעלע צוקער, און מע מאַכט אַ לאָך, און מע גיסט אַרײַן די טײ, און מע מישט און מע מישט, און מע מישט —אָט אַזױ אָט אַזױ אָט אַזױ טרינק דער קיסר טײ!

דאָ זענען די װערטער אױף ענגליש און ראָמאַניזירט. דאָס דאַרף זײַן זײער אַ קאָמיש ליד, אָבער מיר איז עס אַלעמאָל אַ ביסל טרױעריק. אַפֿילו די גרעסטע פֿאַנטאַזיעס פֿומען פֿאָלק —װאָס טוט דער קיסר– זענען געװען אַזױ ענוהדיק—ער האָט אַ סך צוקער צו דער טײ.

דאָ קען מען קױפֿן דעם קיסרס טײ דאָ טרינקט די קירסין טײ.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Avocados with cilantro (not guacamole!)

Cilantro provokes strong feelings. I am crazy about it, but many folks have a powerful aversion to the volatile oils that give this herb its unusual fragrance. If you can’t endure cilantro, you can leave it out.

Avocados with cilantro (not guacamole!)

Chop about five sprigs cilantro. Cut three to five avocados into ¾ inch dice. Place them in a bowl and dress with olive oil, salt, a squeeze of lime juice, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Add the chopped herbs and mix gently. That’s all. I know you are thinking of adding slivered onions, or red pepper, but that’s another ball game. This is a mild, cooling partner to the spicy kabocha stew with hominy.

Am I on time for Weekend Herb Blogging, Kalyn?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Legumbres en Pepian

This weekend I prepared Squash Stew with Chilies, Spices and Ground Nuts (Legumbres en Pepian) from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown. This is a cookbook you need. Most folks don’t need as many cookbooks as I need, but everyone needs this book. The rich and vividly flavored recipes are clear, gorgeously written and very easy to follow. Read The Greens Cookbook! Support your local independent bookseller!

I almost always double this recipe. It is labor intensive—you’re already grinding nuts, seeds, and chili powder—you may as well make some to keep. And you might as well cook your own hominy too, even though the recipe calls for canned. It only takes eleven hours (less if you soak the hominy first or use a pressure-cooker).

I won’t quote entire recipes from cookbooks in print, but I will quote substantial parts of
the recipe below. My comments are in the square brackets.

Squash Stew with Chilies, Spices and Ground Nuts (Legumbres en Pepian) from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown.

[Ingredient list omitted. You will infer it from the method, and you’re going to get the book anyway, remember?]

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan [cast iron is ideal for this] over medium heat for several minutes until they begin to brown and the aroma is strong. Shake the pan back and forth frequently so they won’t burn. Add the oregano, toast for five seconds more, and remove to a bowl [Wow! I love that! I cannot think of any other recipe in which we are directed to do something for five seconds. She’s just right, though—five seconds is exactly long enough to toast dried oregano. This wonderful recipe balances between the eleven hours needed to simmer the hominy and the five seconds needed to toast the oregano]. Using the same pan, toast the sesame seeds until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Set them aside; then toast the almonds [love that semicolon]. When they are lightly browned, remove the almonds to a cutting board and roughly chop them. Grind the cumin and oregano to a powder in a spice mill [oooooh, the smell of freshly ground roasted cumin and oregano! You almost don’t have to make the rest of the recipe. Well, yes, you do]; then grind the almonds and the sesame seeds to a fine meal.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Roast the chilies until they puff up and are fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Cool slightly; then cut them open, remove the stems, seeds, and veins, and tear them into pieces [I like that instruction to tear up the chiles before grinding—It’s hard to remember things like that when you write recipes down]. Grind the chilies in a spice mill or small blender jar to make a coarse powder [The recipe specifies pasilla chilies. I had some large black chilies of forgotten provenance which I think were pasillas, or something really close].

Heat the oil in a casserole, add the onions, and sauté over medium-high heat until they have begun to soften; then add the garlic, cumin, oregano, and two tablespoons of the chili powder, and cook another minute. Next add the squash [kabocha squash is ideal for this, and you don't need to peel the squash], mushrooms, a sprinkling of salt [a sprinkling!], and 3 cups water, tomato juice, or stock. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat, cover, and cook slowly until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Check to see if the mixture dries out while cooking and add more liquid if necessary.

Add the ground almonds and sesame seeds, cauliflower, hominy, and puréed tomato [here’s where you really watch the stew happen. Take a minute between each addition. See what the almonds do when you add them, then the sesame, then the other ingredients. It is beautiful. The first time I prepared this recipe, I almost cried when I got to this part]. Check for salt and season with additional ground chili to taste. Continue cooking until the cauliflower is nearly tender; add the peas and chopped cilantro, and let stew a few more minutes. Serve with the sour cream or crème fraîche [I almost never say this, because I love cream, but you don’t even need to serve any cream] and a garnish of cilantro sprigs.

This goes very nicely with all kinds of rice, an avocado salad, that rutabaga kugl-type thing below, and coconut cornbread prepared with Iroquois roasted cornflour. I mean maizebread and maizeflour! This is the most comforting of all winter comfort foods, and in that spirit I submit it squashy salutes to Alicat and Sara’s comfort food cookbook challenge.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Rutabaga Dybbuk

What on earth possessed me to go and buy two and a half pounds of rutabagas?

At first I thought I would try to leave myself some free time this weekend, and just make them boiled and mashed with a bit of butter; and then I remembered that years ago I was very happy with Bert Greene’s recipe for Bashed Neeps which is made of half rutas and half potatoes (And I do still have heaps of russets to use up); and then I thought, well why not make it richer with eggs or cheese or leftover hominy grits or all three? And then I thought, once I’m adding those ingredients, why not make it into a torta baked in a springform pan lined with toasted crumbs? And why not make a middle layer of a contrasting color for a really snazzy presentation? You see? It’s a slippery slope.

What is This Thing Called Hominy?

According to The Angelica Home Kitchen by Leslie McEachern, hominy, or posole, is:

Corn treated with an alkaline substance such as wood ash or limestone, to remove the hull and germ. . . . This . . .makes the corn more nutritious because it makes more niacin available.

It’s sort of counter-intuitive that a partial grain is more nutritious than a whole grain. In fact, the corn does lose some nutrients in the alkalizing process, or nixtamalization, but the grain is effectively more nutritious because the process lowers the ratio of an amino acid called “leucine” which prevents absorption of niacin. This is explained in great detail in the article Traditional Maize Processing techniques in the New World, which I found in the notes to America’s First Cuisines by Sophie Coe.

I recommend this book, and all of Coe’s books, with great enthusiasm. Her writing is fresh, fierce, unimpeachably informed and, perhaps not surprisingly, very funny. Here’s Coe on hominy:

It was not enough, however, merely to domesticate maize. It was another discovery that made it a truly superior foodstuff, and that discovery was of the process of nixtamalization. . . .So superior is nixtamalized maize to the unprocessed kind that it is tempting to see the rise of mesoamerican civilization as a consequence of this invention, without which the peoples of Mexico and their southern neighbors would have remained forever on the village level.

And here’s a bit about pineapple:

The pineapple grows best in hot humid climates, as it was originally from Brazil and Paraguay. . . . It is hard to think of a less plausible plant to cajole into fruiting under English conditions, but that is what the competitive gardeners of the British nobility succeeded in doing in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It was an abstruse and expensive business, calling for specialized buildings named pineries, which were built alongside the vineries, where grew the grapes which would also not mature under sullen Northern European skies.

Cajole into fruiting”! I will be using that phrase at every apropos moment.

Coe insists that for the sake of precision, the plant zea mays, even in the kind that pops, be referred to in English as “maize.” This is awkward, but it would solve one problem for Yiddish speakers and Jewish bakers. Many folks are confused by the fact that rye bread in Jewish bakeries is sometimes called “corn bread” or “corn rye” This bread is not made from a combination of corn and rye flours like “anadama bread” or “rye ‘n’ injun bread”; it’s just rye bread, so called because the Yiddish word for “rye” is “korn,” pronounced just like “corn.”

Postscript to first hominy missive: My hominy was really quite well-done after a mere eleven hours on the “low” setting of my “crock-pot” I think the low settings on the new pots are higher than they used to be.

Coe, Sophie D. America's First Cuisines. 1st ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Katz, S. H., M. l. Hediger, and L. A. Valleroy. "Traditional Maize Processing Techniques in the New World." Science 184, no. 4138 (1974): 765-73.

McEachern, Leslie. The Angelica Home Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Rabble Rousings from an Organic Vegan Restaurant. 1st ed. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press., 2003.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Can’t Stop Making Chocolate Cakes!

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It started a few weeks ago when we celebrated the Wee’an’s seventh birthday. I made a two-layer chocolate fudge cake with filling and icing. I used to bake things like that all the time, but somehow they had dropped out of my repertoire for more than ten years. Layer cakes were considered déclassé at my culinary school, but they can be so satisfying. I just love saying the words “chocolate cake,” or “chocolate layer cake,” or “layer cake,” and “chocolate cake” again.

So why have I not been posting more chocolate cake recipes? Well, I have not made up all that many original recipes for chocolate cakes—I am still busy trying existing cakes and making my favorites again and again. This week I found myself with some very interesting dry apple cider made from northern spies gone flat and it seemed like a good jumping-off spot to think about a new kind of chocolate cake, but I used the cider in this soup. Today I made a chocolate cake with one banana, one tangerine, six prunes and a bottle of Guinness (Thanks to Full as a Goog for the idea of adding Guinness to chocolate cake). I had previously been very happy with the banana/tangerine/chocolate combination in Georgetown Banana Cake, reproduced below. I will also post the recipe for the chocolate/prune/Guinness cake if there is a groundswell of support, but while the flavors were perfect, the texture was a bit on the heavy side, and I will need to tinker a bit before it is blogworthy.

Well, I wrote two whole paragraphs without mentioning hominy. I can’t wait anymore! Hominy, hominy, hominy! Tonight I made fritters from leftover hominy grits, into which I mixed some caramelized onions and roasted sunflower seeds. These grits take very kindly to the skillet, and formed a shattering crisp crust around their creamy little centers. You can figure out the recipe right? Just form cooked grits into pancake shapes and fry in hot oil. Seeds and onions optional but very nice.

And here’s the banana cake. I made this up while I was visiting a friend who had some
over-ripe bananas she needed to use up. That’s how I need to reorganize my files: Recipes to use up one over-ripe banana, recipes to use up two over-ripe bananas, and so on. It is a true act of faith to keep buying bananas—the triumph of hope over experience.

Georgetown Banana Cake

1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (one or two shakes)
2 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tangerine
½ cup oil
½ cup sour cream (or yogurt)
chocolate chips (optional)
walnuts or pecans (optional)

preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grease a cake pan or loaf pan with oil or butter and sprinkle with flour.
Set aside.
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and soda.
Mash the bananas and squeeze in the juice from the tangerine.
Grind up the rind from half the tangerine with oil, add to the banana mash.
Add sour cream and two beaten eggs to the banana mash.
Stir the Banana mix into the flour mix. If desired, add the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. If desired, sprinkle the nuts on top
place in oven. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350, and bake until done
(about 20 more minutes)

NOTE: Recipe provided is not for cupcakes pictured above.


mzn asks if Pinewoods Community Farming makes grits as well. I’d say the short answer is yes. They make two medium grind flours, one from hominy and one from roasted maize, and their mill is not adjustable (I asked). They found out the mill was not adjustable, I am told, one time when they, uh, tried to adjust it. But the flour is really coarse enough to make a very lovely cereal, as I found when I got up just now craving a midnight snack.

Hominy Grits

Bring three cups of water to the boil. Add ¾ teaspoon salt and 1 cup Iroquois tamal flour, stirring rapidly. Continue to cook and stir twenty minutes. Serve in bowls with a slivers of butter and milk. Go back to sleep.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hominy Hominy Hominy

It’s here! I have been sitting oyf shpilkes (“on pins”, waiting with great impatience) for hominy and corn flour from the Iroquois White Corn Project to arrive. I don’t recall ever having been this excited about a three sacks of grain, and by now you know, I do get excited about grain. This is a rare “heirloom” variety of corn grown by Pinewoods Community Farming on the Cattaraugus territory of the Seneca Nation near Oswego, New York. I first learned about this corn a few years ago on a visit to Rochester, and finally tracked them down this year.

Even before I opened the sacks, the sweet earthy, nutty, corn fragrance filled the kitchen. This is wonderful stuff. I have had dishes made with Iroquois white corn at Angelica Kitchen and it is delicious, warming, also interestingly bitter. And of course, all the heirloom variety and community farming stuff just bakes my potatoes.

Two cups of hominy are now simmering in the slow-cooker with some salt. I understand they will be ready in about fourteen hours, and I don’t need to worry about over-cooking them. I will use the hominy, if the Good Lord is willing, to make my most beloved and comforting winter stew, Legumbres en Pipian, squash stew with chiles, spices, and ground nuts, from The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Beet, Squash, and Salsify until Chard

Northern Spy Apple Cider from Eve’s Cidery. I drew on the socks so the picture would be decent.

I have always been very fond of salsify, also called oyster plant. It is available briefly and unpredictably in the fall, so I feel lucky when I find some. I have a Yiddish cookbook from 1926 with a recipe for vegetarian gefilte fish made from salsify, which I hope to tell you about in greater detail soon. I am only mentioning salsify, which has no further relevance to this post, because it sounds like a verb, and thinking about that always delights me. The three main ingredients of the soup I have been making frequently this winter, beet, leek, and squash, all sound like real verbs. A bunch of salsify would feel very at home in this soup if you happen to find some. This week’s soup has shallots instead of leeks, and no potatoes. When I add potatoes, I mash or sieve them separately and then add them back to the pureed soup.

The sweetness of the vegetables is tempered in this recipe by half a bottle of very dry apple cider and pot liquor from cooked mustard greens. If you have neither of these, just use water. You may pass lemon wedges and a bottle of hot sauce when the soup is served.

Velouté of Beets and Squash with Herbs and Cider

5 onions, sliced
olive oil
1 small basket shallots, about 1 cup shallot slices (or 1 bunch leeks)
5 cloves garlic, sliced
½ one bunch celery, de-strigified and sliced

2 small or one average kabocha squash, yielding 2 pounds squash, cut up
2 pounds red beets, peeled and cut up
2 turnips (or 2 potatoes)
24 ounce can of tomatoes
pot liquor from cooked mustard greens, ½ bottle very dry hard cider, or just water.
2 bunches dill, snipped
1 small bunch parsley, minced


Heat olive oil on the bottom of a large soup kettle. Add the onions and cook over low heat until very soft and just turning golden. Add sliced garlic, shallots and celery and continue cooking several more minutes. When the vegetables are relaxed, add squash, beets, turnips, tomatoes and about three quarts of water, or a combination of water, cider and pot liquor, and salt. Raise heat and simmer, de-scumming occasionally, until vegetables are very soft. Puree the soup in a blender, or use a food mill or other implement, or just beat and squash it into a puree. If you make the soup with potatoes, mash them separately and do not put them through the blender. Return soup to the kettle, add minced herbs, and taste for seasoning.

When you are ready to serve the soup, but not before, you may add milk or a combination of milk and cream, even up to an equal volume with the soup. If you will be keeping the soup, and this one keeps very well refrigerated or frozen, keep it dairy free until serving.

For you, Sweetnicks!

נאָך מער װעגן רעטעך

ראש־חדש רעטעך — רױטע רעטעכלעך׃ װײַל עס דױערט װײניקער װי 30 טעג צװישן זײען און שפּראָצן.

Red radishes are called “roysh-khoydesh radishes (new moon radishes)” because they sprout less than one month after they are planted.

מער װעגן רעטעך

אליה פּאַלעװסקי האָט געשריבן אין מענדעלע 15.005

געפֿרעגט בײַ דער מאַמען, האָט זי דערמאָנט װי זי פֿלעגט אַמאָל פּרעגלען אײַנגעמאַכטס פֿון שװאַרצן רעטעך. צוערשט צעשנײַדט מען דעם רעטעך אױף דינע פּאַסיקלעך, מען קאָכט עס גוט אױס ביז דער ריח גײט אָפּ אָבער מע דאַרף היטן עס זאָל זיך ניט צעקריכן. דערנאָך, פּרעגלט מען עס אין האָניק און צוקער. בײַ איר אין דער הײם (סװינציאַן) האָט מען אָט די פּאָטראַװע אָנגערופֿן אײַנגעמאַכטס צאָטש די מאַמע האָט באַמערקט אַז מע קענדאָס אױכעט מאַכן מיט מאַראַנצן שאָל און אײגנטלעך מאַכט זי פּסחדיקע טײגלעך אױף אַן ענלעכן אױפֿן — טעם גן־עדן!

רעטעך שפּריכװערטער בײַ בערנשטײנען

בײַ בערנשטײנען געפֿיןען זיך 4 שפּריכװערטער אין װעלכע רעטעכער װערן דערמאָנט ואַלו הם. די דערקלערונגען אין קלאַמערן זענען בערנשטײנס אַלײן׃

„גאָט מאָרגן!“ —„רעטעך טראָג איך!“
(מען זאָגט אַז אַ טױבער האָט דאָס געענטפֿערט אױף „גוט מאָרגן“.—מען געברױכט דאָס װען אײנער ענטפֿערט נישט צו דער זאַך)

אַז מען דאַרף האָבן אַ מלך, איז אַ קאָריק (אָדער אַ שװאַנץ פֿון אַ רעטעך) אױך אַ מלך.
(װען עס פֿעלט בײַם שאַכשפּיל דער קעניג באַדינגט מען זיך מיט אַ קאָריק, און אפֿילו מיט אַ שװאַנץ פֿון אַ רעטעך)

אַז עס גײ די סדרה קרח, קומט אױף׃ קאַרשן, רעטעך, כרײן.

דרײַ זאַכן זענען דאָ אין לעמבערג׃ פֿאַלשע עדות, שװאַרצע רעטעך, און בלױע פּופּקעס.
(די צװײ ערשטע זאַכן זענען נישט גאַנץ זיכער, אָבער די „לעמבערגער פּופּקעס“ זענען באמת באַרימט)

נו, „„גוט מאָרגן!“ „רעטעך טראָג איך!““ איז גענוג קלאָר. עס קומט מיר פֿאָר אַז דאָס שפּריכװאָרט װעגן דעם מלך האָט צו טאָן אָפּיך מיט פּאָליטיק און נישט נאָר מיט אַ שאַכשפּיל. דאָס װאָרט „שװאַנץ” קאָן זײַן זײער גראָב אין געװיסע קאָנטעקסטן, און דאָס װאָלט אַמאָל געװען אַפּראָפּאָ „אַז מען דאַרף האָבן אַ מלך“, און אַלץ מער װען מען האָט שױן אַ מלך!

סדרה קרח לײענט מען אין יוני אָדער פֿראי אין יולי װען עס װערן צײַטיק קאַרשן, רעטעך, און כרײן װאָס זײערע ראשי־תּאבֿות מאַכן „קרח“.

איך הײב נישט אָן צו פֿאַרשטײן װאָס זענען געװען „לעמבערגער פּופּקעס“ און פֿאַר װאָס זײ זענען געװען „באמת באַרימט”.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stormy Pinkness

These amazing radishes are called “bleeding heart radishes,” but I like to call them “inside-out radishes” because they are red inside and white outside. They are of course not really red inside but this amazing, explosive shade of fuchsia. I did not know such stormy pinkness existed in nature, except in fuchsias themselves, and maybe birds of paradise.

I cut this radish into matchstick julienne and mixed it with an equal volume of kohlrabi bulbs, also cut the same size, dressed them with olive oil and unfiltered apple cider vinegar and one sprig (one tablespoon) snipped dill. They were delicious and so pretty.

Here’s a page of links about food in the music of TMBG.

I humbly submit this post to Weekend Herb Blogging. . . . Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A New Phrase She'll be Using at Every Apropos Moment

"age-defying pancakes"

from Rox Populi.

Drawing From The Pancake Handbook by the Cooks at Bette's Diner

טאָ לערנט זיך שױן ייִדיש

דעם פֿרילינג־זמן װעל איך לערנען צװײ ייִדיש-קורסן:

בײַ יוגנטרוף, מיטעלע ייִדיש: 8 קלאַסן; דאָנערשטיק אין אָװנט–6:30-8:00 אָנהײבנדיק דעם 16טנ פֿעברואַר.

אין איװ יאָכנאָװיצס מיטען קלאַס, װעלן סטודענטן זיך פֿאַרשטאַרקן אין רעדן, שרײַבן, לײענען און פֿאַרשטײן. מיר װעלן לײענען ייִדישע קלאַסישע און מאָדערנע טעקסטן װאָס שפּיגלען אָפּ דאָס לעבן און קולטור פֿון אַשכּנזישע ייִדן אי אין אַמעריקע, אי אין דער אַלטער הײם. נאָך פּרטים קלינגט מירע מניעװסקין אין ביוראָ


אָדער שרײַבט.

בײַם ייִװאָ׃ דער רעצעפּט׃ אַ ייִדישער ליטעראַרישער זשאַנער: 3 קלאַסן; מאָנטיק אין אָװנט–6:45-8:15 דעם 6טנ, 20טנ, און 27טן מאַרץ (דער 13ער איז דאָך פּורים).

דער קורס װעט זײַן אַ ביסל אװאַנסירט–סטודענטן װעלן לײענען אַ סך לאַנג־באַהאַלטענע אוצרות אױף ייִדיש, אַזױ װי רעצעפּטן פֿון דעם װילנער 1896 „קאָך־בוך פֿאַר יודישע פֿרױען“ אױבן.


אָדער שרײַבט.

איך האָף מיר זאָלן קענען זיך אַלע אַ סך לערנען דאָס יאָר, מיטן אײבערשטנס הילף.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lentil Soup with Kabocha and Cumin

These gorgeous kabochas are from Race Farm, at Union Square on Mondays. These kabochas are just getting better and better as the winter progresses. They are some of the loveliest most satiny and intensely flavored squash I have ever tasted. Thank you Race Farm!

Thanks as well are due Sweetnicks, who has valiantly begun collecting blog-posts that employ “ARFs” or Antioxidant rich foods. Thank you Sweetnicks!

While I was waiting to buy my squash I had the following conversation with a family browsing among the vegetables:

Wee Bairn: What’s that enormous thing?
Doting Maternal Unit: I don’t know.
Chocolate Lady: That’s a hubbard squash!
Doting Maternal Unit: Oh, is that a hubbard?
Chocolate Lady: Yes! It’s the Bette Davis of Squash.
Wee Bairn: I hate squash.
Doting Maternal Unit: No you don’t.
Chocolate Lady: Even the kabochas?
Wee Bairn: Well, maybe not the kabochas.

Mr. Chocolate Lady is deeply fond of lentils, so I am often trying to make up new lentil soups. Kabochas and lentils are an especially felicitous pairing, with the sweetness and softness of the squash complementing the austerity lentils. Cumin brings the soup together. This soup is almost effortless to prepare. Once again, I made a big pot of soup, but you can probably halve this recipe with no ill effects.

Lentil Soup with Kabocha and Cumin

Olive oil
2 large or three medium onions
Two teaspoons whole cumin seeds
Seven large celery ribs: About half of one head of celery—2 or 2 ½ cups sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced (not diced or minced)
2 cups plain brown lentils
One medium kabocha about 1 ½ pounds
12 or so sprigs flat leaf parsley (half of one bunch) minced

Dice the onions. Heat olive oil in a large soup kettle. Add the diced onions and whole cumin seeds. Cook until the onions are quite soft, about 15 minutes. De-stringify the celery and either dice them or slice into little moons. Add celery and sliced garlic to the pot with the onions and continue cooking for another fifteen minutes or so. Meanwhile, pick over and rinse the lentils and cut the kabocha into medium dice that will be small enough to fit comfortably in a soupspoon but large enough to show off the vivid colors. Add squash and lentils to the soup pot along with about three quarts of water and a tablespoon of salt. Raise heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, de-scum, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the squash and lentils are tender. Add minced parsley and taste for seasonings. A squeeze of lemon juice is sometimes nice with this.


Learn Yiddish Already!

Detail of a chile portrait by Chel Beeson 1994 (because I mention colors and shapes)

Remember how in the Wizard of Oz, when our gal’s house lands in Oz, she can finally see all the colors for the first time? Or in Flatland, when our guy, the triangle, begins to comprehend the vastness of a third dimension? That’s what happens when you learn Yiddish, folks. You don’t have to be religious or Ashkenazic or even Jewish. If you have a passionate interest in anything about the universe, you just have to start learning Yiddish right now.

This is the time of year to begin selecting your Yiddish summer program and beginning the application process. Of course I am endlessly enthusiastic about the YIVO/NYU Uriel Weinreich Summer Program, the great Yiddish boot-camp of the mind. You will also want to look into the Vilnius Yiddish Summer Program, the Summer University Seminar in Yiddish Language and Literature in PARIS, and the long-awaited Tel Aviv Yiddish Summer Program. About time!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Chocolate Lady’s 2001 Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide

Another chapter in the bag. Can't write--no words left in brain. But here's something old. Subsequent issues will have the matzo ball recipe. No fear.

The Chocolate Lady’s 2001 Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide

Cherished khevre,

The joyous Peysekh season is at our throats once again. In spite of the many restrictions associated with this holiday, it is an auspicious time eagerly anticipated. Here are some of the things I am especially anticipating this year. Don’t you feel sorry for the poor people who eat the same food all year round, and on the same dishes? What kind of life is that?


Stocking up: you probably need more eggs that you are guessing, and less matse meal. Last year I bought 9 dozen eggs and would have used more if I had had more. While it is true that I rely on eggs and milkhiks at Peysekh, I insist that it is possible to be a vegan at peysekh as well. I even insist that you can do it without potatoes, though I never tried.

There are some things I don’t use during Peysekh for practical reasons. I found I am much happier if I don’t bother with tomatoes during peysekh. Tomato season will come soon enough. This is the time to concentrate on the fresh green flavors of artichokes, parsley, dill, endive, locinato kale, and asparagus as well as chocolate, pistachios, beets, all sorts of potatoes, and strawberries.


Tea eggs

This recipe is not a staple of the peysekh repertoire, but I associate both tea and eggs with the season, and it is great fun.

Simmer eggs for seven minutes. Gently tap the eggs all over so that the shells are lightly cracked all over. Cook the eggs for another several minutes in strong, salted tea. Leave the eggs to cool in the water with the tea leaves. When you peel the eggs, they will have a lovely marble pattern on their whites.

Another version

Dr. Lucia Ruedenberg Wright told me that she recalled making a version of colored eggs in her family by laying delicately shaped leaves such as herbs on the eggshells and then wrapping the eggs in onion skins, tying them with twine and boiling. When you remove the skins, the silhouettes of the leaves remain.

Matzo Balls and soup

One of the most urgent tasks for vegetarians at Peysekh is the search for a matzo-ballogenic medium. This recipe is a work-in-progress meant more as a bit of inspiration than prescription.

My matzo ball soup

In a large soup pot, make stock by cooking carrots, potatoes, celery, celeriac, onions, garlic, parsnip and parsley root in boiling salted water for 30 minutes. Strain and set aside.

Cover the bottom of a large pot with extra virgin olive oil. Add lots of thinly sliced onions and cook over low heat until they begin to turn soft and translucent. Add a couple of slivered carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes more. Add thinly sliced garlic and thinly sliced yellow peppers. I peel the peppers but you are allowed to skip this step. (I realize I am not being very helpful with the quantities here. I make a BIG pot of soup with about six medium onions, two carrots, four celeries, a whole head of garlic and six to eight peppers). Cook until the vegetables are relaxed and golden and fill the pot with the hot broth. Cook for a while and de-scum the surface. While the soup cooks, chop and add one bundle each parsley and dill. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and dried green herbs to taste. Before serving float a few “eyes” of olive oil on the surface. This soup is a very happy home for matzo balls.

I will not try to convey my recipe for matzo balls because first of all, it is incomprehensible even to me, and secondly, you are already loyal to a recipe from which you will never be parted, so what is the point? Make lots of matzo balls. More than you think you will possibly need. You do not even need soup to enjoy matzo balls. Lora Brody suggests eating them cold with butter. I like them grilled. You may also cut them into cubes and use as a peysekhdik tofu-substitute.


The Unplugged Kitchen by Viana La Place

I am afraid I am going to have to insist that you buy this book. When I first read it, I was so impressed that I went around for weeks accosting perfect strangers on the street to tell them they needed The Unplugged Kitchen. I was nearly arrested on two occasions.

The recipes are exquisite and many are particularly suited to Peysekh, even though it is not specifically a Peysekh cookbook. TUK is devoted to recipes that can be made by hand, which I also find especially helpful during Peysekh, when I am working with a much more limited batterie de cuisine. Try the layered saffron potatoes on page 222 (oh, this is so good), the artichokes and potatoes on pages 199 and 201 and the wonderful Persian herb pie on page 83. The celery stew with almonds is also lovely and it is a good austere dish to make when you are recovering from lots of festive food. This year I might try the romaine soup, without the bread of course, the beet and lemon broth, and maybe the beet and pepper salad.

While I am on the subject, I also recommend all of La Place’s books. Verdura is sensuous and thrilling, and Cucina Fresca, written with Evan Kleinman, is a collection of dishes that can be prepared in advance and served at room temperature, which is very helpful for shabes and sikes.

The Heimishe Kitchen Pesach Cookbook

This is a community cookbook put together by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of Nitra, and this is what people are REALLY cooking for Peysekh. I have always been intrigued by the recipe for french fries kugel on page 86, but so far have not dared try it. Maybe this year I will.

The Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown

A recipe I love at any time of year is The Greens’ Potatoes and Chanterelles baked in cream (page 210)

Bitter Almonds by Maria Grammatico and Mary Taylor Simeti

You wouldn’t guess that a book about growing up in a convent would turn out to be such an important Passover resource, but many of the pastries herein are based on almond dough and ideal for peysekh. This year I hope to try the dolcetti al liquore, spirit-soaked grapes in marzipan tartlets dipped in dark chocolate. Bitter Almonds also has a few recipes that use citron (esrik) preserves, for which a recipe is also provided, making it handy for sikes as well.


This year I ordered wine from Skyview through www.kosherfinder.com This site also has Rabbi Blumenkrantz’s digest of the laws of peysekh online—very helpful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mustard Greens

Almost too pretty to cook?

What distinguishes mustard greens from all the other bitter greens is a very resilient texture, and utterly resistance to any kind of sliminess. They stand up to long stewing and simmering with some real backbone to provide a very pleasurable toothy bite. And how about the color! To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, "Wow, talk about green!" Yes, they are very bitter and some folks don’t care for that, but there are a couple of ways to tame them. Mustard greens pair up beautifully with lentils. One of my most beloved winter dishes is the Lentiche con Verdura Selvatica in Viana LaPlace’s Verdure. Oh, do I love this book. In LaPlace’s recipe, you simmer diced carrots, onions, and celery with oregano, add brown lentils, and then water and chopped, cooked greens. It is wonderfully comforting and satisfying.

Sometimes, though, you just want the greens to shine on their own. In such cases caramelized onions are a wonderful companion and contrast.

Mustard Greens with Onions

1 bunch mustard greens

4 medium onions

oil, salt

red wine or balsamic vinegar

Wash the greens well and remove them from their stems. Cook the leaves in boiling water to cover until tender, about ten minutes. Remove the greens and chop roughly. Reserve the pot-liquor.

Slice the onions into thin half moons. Heat oil in an iron skillet and add the onions. Cook at very low heat, stirring frequently, until they are all deeply brown and just a few are beginning to crisp. This will take a while. Add the chopped greens, some of the pot-liquor that clings to them, a bit of salt, and raise the heat. Cook and stir for a few minutes and then pour in a few tablespoons of red wine or balsamic vinegar. (I made this Monday with vinegar and Sunday with some leftover pinot noir. Sometimes there is leftover pinot noir!)

Use remaining pot liquor in soups or add to vegetable juices.

The Yiddish word for pot liquor is der GRINsnsents or der GRINsn-esents

La Place, Viana. Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style. 1st ed. New York: Morrow, 1991.

A few words about not eating

“The Yom Kippur Table” from The Jewish Home Beautiful (Women’s Leaugue of the United Synagogue, 1941)

A mnemonic for Jewish fast days—there are six fixed fast days in the Jewish calendar. They are

Black and White (9 Av and Yonkiper)

Long and Short (17 Tamez and 10 Teyves)

Him and Her (Gedalye and Esther)

The Jewish Home Beautiful was an exhibit of eight tables laid for Jewish Holidays. The Yom Kippur Table, in a bit of unintended high modernism, has nothing on it. This installation suddenly reminds me of The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Very First Chocolate Lady’s Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide

I recently unearthed this email from 1995. I wrote it when a bunch of classmates mentioned that they felt hungry throughout the holiday of Passover. This is the first little throb of what was to become The Chocolate Lady’s Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide, the newsletter that in part provoked this blog. Between now and Passover I’ll post some surviving back issues. All the retail establishments mentioned below are gone, but I think you can still get most of the cookbooks.

The Chocolate Lady’s 1995 Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide

I feel just terrible about you feeling hungry for all of peysekh. Here are some things I like:

What a wonderful vegetable. I always wait till peysekh for the first artichokes of the season. Dance on down to Leibel Bestritsky's for kosher for peysekh balsamic vinegar and olive oil to go with them. (Or maybe by now you can get it at the Miller's store, but I don't think so.) The best weeknight supper is just two really big artichokes and some decent vinaigrette. If you follow the artichokes with something milky, you get the full artichoke effect.

The same goes for asparagus. You do have to peel them. I am on my way out right now to buy one of those new asparagus peelers today. I will let you know if they make it any easier.

Matzo Balls
As we discussed. Skip the soup, keep the balls. Slice in half and fry face down in butter. Eat with salt, pepper and cheese.

Some good recipes:
Try Grated Potato and Artichoke cake on page 258 of The Savory Way by Madison. Also Potatoes and Chanterelles Baked in Cream on page 210 of The Greens Cookbook. (It's only once a year!) Eggplanty appetizers go well with matzo. The best one I know is in Classic Armenian Recipes by Antreassian and Jebjebian. Potato squares with whole spices are also wonderful. The whole spices form a very satisfyingly bready crust. A good recipe is in Madhur Jaffrey's Invitation to Indian Cooking. If you are not used to using whole fenugreek, be warned that the smell will penetrate the walls of your kitchen for about two days.

Ratners is open with supervision during moyed. Perhaps we can go there on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I accidentally deleted my whole blogger template Tuesday! It is chilling indeed to gape a screen full of machine code where your blog used to be. I am so glad I had followed Clare Eats’s advice and backed up my template to a text file. Of course, I had not been updating my backup nearly often enough, so stuff is missing. If I used to link to you and do so no more it is not because I am in an unprovoked huff. Please drop me a comment to help me spackle up the virtual cracks.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

װײטיק און זאָרג און האפֿענונג

ויעלני מבור שאון מטיט היון ויקם על־סלע רגלי כּונן אַשרי.

און ער האָט מיך אַרױפֿגעבראַכט פֿון דער װיסטער גרוב, פֿון דעם זומפּיקן לײם, און ער האָט געשטעלט אױף אַ פֿעלז מײַנע פֿיס, ער האָט באַפֿעסטיקט מײַנע טריט.

תּהלים מ

Purple Kohlrabi

A few days ago, I told Mar Gavriel that I would be addressing vegetable examination in this post, but can't do that now. I will go ahead and post the recipes today since we still need the antioxidants.

Kohlrabi leaves and pot liquor

Leaves from 2 medium kohlrabi
½ of one small onion

Cut the leaves off the stems and chop into rough pieces. Place in a heavy kettle with water to cover generously. Add salt and ½ of one small onion to the water and cook over medium heat until tender. This took longer than I thought it would—those leaves are tougher than they look—about 25 minutes. Pour the leaves with their pot liquor into bowls. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a few drops of hot sauce. If you have some cornbread to crumble in, even better!

Red and White Kohlrabi Slaw

Bulbs from 2 medium kohlrabi
1 small red pepper

Peel off the tough outer skin (It’s pretty, but too tough to eat).
Slice the bulbs into julienne. Peel the red pepper and julienne.
Toss the kohlrabi and pepper together in a bowl. Dress with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, or the vinegar of your choice. Salt to taste.

This is what I did with the stems this time. Sorry if this is of no use to kitchens without juicers. For collards I cook the stems, but for these guys, the stem-to-leaf ratio would have been too high.

Winter vegetable juice

5 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 large beet
1 red bell pepper
stems from 2 medium bunches of kohlrabi

Put vegetbles through juicing machine. Remember to recycle your pulp!

Here’s the summer vegetable juice. It’s in Yiddish, but you can figure it out—cucumbers and tomatoes instead of kohlrabi.

װײטיק און זאָרג

אָחזתּ שמרות עיני, נפֿעמתּי ולא אַדבר.

תּהלים עז

אַ גאנץ יאָר פּסח

איך האָב נאָר װאָס אַװעקגעלײגט דעם חנוכּה־לאָמפּ און אָנגעהױבן טראַכטן װעגן פּסח. דעם אמת געזאָגט, טראַכט איך װעגן פּסח אַ גאַנץ יאָר. עס איז נישטאָ קײן זמן אין יאָר, אַפֿילו נישטאָ קײן טאָג אין יאָר װען איך טראַכט נישט װעגן פּסחים װאָס זענען געװען, און נאָך מער װעגן דעם פּסח װאָס קומט, און קומט גיכער װי עץ מײנט. דאָס בלאָגעלע איז אַ קינד „The Chocolate Lady’s Vegetarian Peysekh Survival Guide”, אַ בלעטל רעצעפּטן און פּירושים װאָס האָט זיך אָנגעהױבן מיט אַ יאָר צװעלף צוריק װען אַ פּאָר מיטסטודענטן האָבן מיר געזאָגט אַז זײ פֿילן זיך נישט זאַט אַ גאַנצן פּסח.

ביז פּסח װעל איך בלי־נדר אָנבלאָגעװען אַן אַרכיװ פֿון אַלע אַלטע „פּסח־עגװײַזערס“ װאָס איך האָב צו דער האַנט. עטלעכע צװישן 1996 און 2001 זענען נעלם געװאָרן. אַז עץ האָט באַקומען אײנעם פֿון זײ, שיקטס אים איבער מיט דעם אײבערשטנס הילף.

די נאַכט פֿונעם סדר
און אַ גאַנץ יאָר כּסדר
װעלן מיר לױבן
דעם פֿון אױבן

אַ שבֿח והודו
למי שאמר והיה
פֿאַר דעם בורא
כּל עולמים

בשירי דוד המלך
װעלן מיר זײַן פֿרײלעך
פֿרײלעך, פֿרײלעך, פֿרײלעך
װעלן מיר זײַן

אַ גאַנץ יאָר פֿרײלעך
לכּבֿוד דעם מלך
לכּבֿוד דעם מלך, מלך המלכים

נעלם װערן
to vanish


to honor

בשירי דוד המלך
with the songs of King David

אַ שבח והודו
praise and thanksgiving (a shevakh ve hoydo)

בורא כּל עולמים creator of all worlds (boyre kol oylomim)

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