Friday, March 31, 2006


For about twenty years I misspelled and mispronounced this plant as “chevril.” It just seemed likelier. This is not something I run into very frequently in my shopping and cooking, but chervil was the main seasoning in what may have been the most transcendent salad I ever consumed. The salad was made of baby beets of many colors in a chervil and citrus vinaigrette that I had on my pilgrimage to the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.

I was very happy to pick up a little pot of chervil this week at the farmers’ market, because it is something I have wanted very much to try, and because I was just so excited to see all the fresh spring herbs I have been missing for so long, and because I love to come up with new ingredients for Weekend Herb Blogging. So far, I have just been snipping the leaves into salads, and sitting around grinning foolishly at the plant, which has doubled in size in just a few days. Gerard writes “Of Chervill”

Columella nameth it Choerephyllum, and it is thought to be so called, because it delights to grow with many leaves, or rather in that it causeth joy and gladnesse.

That is just exactly what it causeth around here.

Speaking of Greens, I will be visiting San Francisco, Davis, and Berkeley in May (two conferences: one food, one Yiddish). I would love to hear your suggestions about food-places and Yiddish-places not-to-be-missed, and would love even more to meet some of you in person.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

אַ שטיקעלע פֿלאָדן פֿון ק־ל אַדון איז אונדזער גרעסטער מוצא

אַ פֿלאָדן פֿום מינעס גאָלדענע הענט, ברוקלין, 2002

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה
לא תבֿושי, די עדה הקדושה װעט זיך מער נישט שעמען,
ולא תכּלמי, לעלם לעלמי, ישׂראל עבֿד נאמן.
מה תּשתּוחחי, ס'װעלן װערן גלײַך, אַלע אײַנגעבױגענע ייִדן,
ומה תּהמי, גרײט אײַך צו, מיט פֿרײלעכע געמיטן.
בך יחסו עניי, אַז עס װעט קומען שױן באַלד די ישועה,
ונבֿנתה עיר, שענער נאָך װי פֿריער,
עיר על תּלה.

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה.

והיו למשיש, די רשעים די מיאוסע, אַלע שׂונאי ישׂראל,
למשיש שוסיך, אַלע גלײַך, צערײַבן מיט אַ מאָל.
ורחקו כּל, אַװעק מיט דער עול, הגלות ועול השעבוד,
מבֿלעיך, די װאָס בײַסן דיך, װעלן אַלע גײן לאיבוד.
ישׂישׂ עליך אלוקיך, אַלע ייִדן גלײַך,
כּמשׂושׂ חתן, פֿון סעודת לױתן, חתן על כּלה.

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה.

ימין ושׂמאל, װי שײן און װי װױל, אַז ימין ושׂמאל תּפֿרוצי,
אַ שטיקעלע פֿלאָדן פֿון ק־ל אַדון איז אונדזער גרעסטער מוצא.
ואת השם, אין אונדזער הײם,
תּעריצו, װעלן מיר לױבן, חכמה, בינה, אין די גרעסטע בחינה, װעלן מיר אַלע זײַן דערהױבן.
על יד איש בן פּרצי, שחורה אַני, די שװאַרצע,
על יד איש, אַ דערקװיקעניש, ונשׂמחה ונגילה.

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה.

בואי בשלום, ס'אַיז שױן נאָך דעם חלום, בשלום, עטרת בעלה,
הײליגע שאָף, שטײט אױף פֿון שלאָף, ובֿרננה נעלה;
גם ברינה, מזיװ השכינה, װעלן מיר זײַן נהנה אַלע,
עתיד כּבֿיכול, לעשׂות מחול, בשׂימחה ובֿטשלה;
תּוך אמוני עם, מיר װעלן זיך פֿרײען צוזאַם'
בואי, קום, און דרײ דיך אום, טאָ בואי בשלום.

מיט דער שכינה װעלן מיר זיך פֿרײען,
צו מערבֿ װעלן מיר זיך אױסדרײען,
ליום שכּולהה–ונזכּה לגאולה–שבת מנוחה!

לכה, לכה דודי; יחד כּולם הודו, לקראת כּלה, אַ ישועה פֿאַר אַלע, פּני שבת נקבלה.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Heavens, do I still have THIS?

One of my preoccupations at this time of year is using up the small quantities of grains and beans in the house to start fresh with Passover. Usually, I would not even bother to record the recipes, because it is so unlikely I would ever reproduce them, but this soup turned out unusually well, and I mean unusually well in the company of some very distinguished soups; you will forgive me for saying so.

I think it was really the tomatoes, herbs and garlic that made this soup wonderful, and you can probably achieve the same without assembling all the ingredients I list below—not that it would hurt—I do love that hominy.

Oh, one other thing—I usually let this kind of soup simmer for an hour or more, but I was in a hurry and served this soup less than half an hour after adding the tomatoes, and I think it was better that way.

White Bean and Tomato soup with Oregano and Bay Leaves

Olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
7 cloves garlic, sliced
3 bay leaves
2 dried chile pepper pods
2 fat pinches oregano, crumbled
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
Stems from one bunch of chard, sliced (optional—I just happened to have some)
1 large orange sweet potato, large dice (optional—ditto)
3 cups cooked white beans and their broth (I had cooked the beans with bay leaves, black peppercorns, and garlic cloves, but any cooked beans should be fine)
1 24-ounce can tomatoes (I used Muir Glen diced tomatoes)
1 cup cooked hominy (It is entirely OK to leave this out if you don’t happen to have buckets of cooked hominy around the house. Hominy hominy hominy!)

Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy soup kettle and add the onions. When the onions begin to relax a bit add the garlic, bay leaves, chile peppers, red peppers, and chard stems, and continue to cook, stirring for another several minutes so that the garlic and herbs yield up their fragrance. Add tomatoes and sweet potato and water to cover generously. Salt and cook for another thirty minutes. Taste for seasonings.

For you Sweetnicks, one last winter soup, with wishes for a healthy spring.

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נײן, איך האָב גאָרנישט נישט פֿאַרגעסן

נײן, איך האָב גאָרנישט נישט פֿאַרגעסן;

דער פּסח־װעגװײַזער קומט שױן באַלד.

Monday, March 27, 2006

דער גיכסטער סדר אױף דער װעלט

װער האָט נישט געװוּנטשן עס זאָל אַ מאָל זײַן אַזױ?

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

IMBB 24: Sesame Soup Makes Miso Happy

It’s not that I’ve deliberately been keeping anything from you, but it occurred to me that I have neglected for a long while to write about something I prepare much more frequently than chocolate homentashn or hand-ground za’atar.
When there is no time to make anything else, I will usually make sesame-miso soup. I started adding sesame paste to miso soup a few years ago when I saw it done at a local restaurant, and subsequently found that roasted sesame paste, if you have some, is very simpatico to miso, the mild fuzzy bitterness of the sesame tempering the miso’s raw woodiness.

You can serve the soup with noodles, or make the noodles a separate course on their own. Either way, you will be able to bring this is in well under thirty minutes.

Sesame Miso Soup with or without Noodles

One ounce noodles, if you want noodles (ramen, soba, whole wheat spaghetti)
1 rounded teaspoon white miso
1 rounded teaspoon mellow barley miso (or misos of your choice)
1 teaspoon roasted sesame tahini
1 small block (about 4 ounces) tofu, blanched briefly in boiling water, cut into small pieces
1 small handful tender greens, torn up (most frequently this will be arugula. Baby spinch leaves, baby bok choy or choy sum work well too. This time I used choy sum)
A small bit of crumbled dried seaweed, if you have some
If you have some prepared kimchee that is just perfect, if not, add a few drops hot sesame pepper oil
Shoyu (soy sauce. If you are using a darker miso, you may want to skip the spy sauce altogether)
Toasted sesame oil

If you are making noodles to go with the soup, begin by cooking the noodles in boiling salted water. Combine the misos and sesame paste in a large bowl and mix them together with a fork. Gradually drizzle a few drops of boiling water (if making noodles, use the pasta water) into the bowl and mix until the miso mixture becomes liquid. Add the tofu and greens and optional ingredients to the bowl and pour in more boiling water until the miso is at the desired level of concentration (about 2 cups). That is all the cooking the greens get. Season with a few drops of shoyu and toasted sesame oil.

This hardly takes longer than the time you need to boil the water.

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The Cook III: Hey, Wait a Minute!

אײדער חתונה צו האָבן מיט מיט אַ רײַכער קעכין, איז שױן בעסער מיט אַן אָרעמער בעל־הביתטע.

It is better to marry a poor homemaker than a rich cook.

Bernstein, Ignacy, and Binjamin Wolf Segel. Yudishe Shprikhverter Un Redensarten. Warsaw, 1908.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spur of the Moment Za’atar

For weeks I have been craving savory yogurty or buttermilky drinks. A few days ago, I prepared and drank an entire quart of moru, but I will have to tell you about that next time.

This week
I have been thinking of Za’atar, a thyme blend used in Lebanese and Israeli cooking that I have always enjoyed, but never tried to make at home. When I picked up this very pungent thyme bouquet of thyme, it seemed as good an opportunity as any to try. Anissa Helou gives a recipe which calls for sumac. I had none and used amchoor. Amchoor, according to Yamuna Devi’s Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, is a powder made from tart, unripe mango slices. Sumac, according to Anissa Helou’s Lebanese Cuisine, is powder made from the dried berries of Rhus Coriaria, or elm-leafed sumac. So, tart reddish powder made from dried sour fruit. I decided it was not an unreasonable substitution to make.

Spur of the Moment Za’atar

One small bunch thyme—about ten braches, one tablespoon thyme leaves
½ teaspoon amchoor, or sumac, if you have some
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 generous tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste, possibly a pinch of sugar

Crumble the thyme leaves between your fingers. Combine them with the sesame and amchoor. Grind them together a little in a mill or mortar, not enough to pulverize them, just enough to get them acquainted. Heat the oil in a small iron skillet and add the herb mixture. Sizzle until the herbs are fragrant. Traditionally, you brush some of this onto flatbreads before grilling them, or drizzle some over labne, feta or other white cheeses. I have also seen za’atar used very effectively other kinds of breads. At the Park Avenue Café, we used to brush some on to our very rich Parker House rolls before baking (Homer mode on) Arhrhrhr (Homer mode off). This time, I stirred a teaspoonful into a glass of yogurt. Soothing to all the senses, as is our fearless leader, Kalyn of Weekend Herb Blogging.

Here are the denuded stems.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006


L’ EXAMEN du LEVAIN &c.: A. La Maitresse de la maison, qui met du PAIN LEVÉ en divers endroits, afin que son Mari qui en fait la recherche en trouve. B. Picart 1725

בדיקת־חמץ׃ א. די בעל־הביתטע, װאָס לײגט אַװעק שטיקלעך חמץ אין פֿאַרשײדענע ערטער איר מאַן זאָל זײ קאָנען געפֿינען. ב. פּיקאַרט תפ“ה

באַקן קאָן איך יאָ, און קאָכן אױך אַ ביסל, אָבער עס איז שױן אַ סוד פֿאַר גאַנץ בראָד אַז איך בין נישט די פֿעיִקסטע בעל־הביתטע אױף דער װעלט. אײַן זאַך קאָן איך ענק פֿאַרזיכערן. עס איז נישט דאָ קײן אײן פּיץ־פּיצל שמוץ בײַ מיר אין שטוב װאָס איז מער װי אײן יאָר אַלט.

דאָס בילד אױבן האָב איך געקױפֿט בײַם ברעג טײַך אין פּאַריז מיט זעקס יאָר צוריק.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gimme Some Lox to Eat in Your Truck

Detail of Tennessee from a map of map of the United States and Indian territories that appeared in Der Yidisher Imigrant (The Jewish Immigrant) 1911

Just so you know, this week’s New Yorker quotes John Carter Cash on the importance of Ashkenazic food among the highlights of his visits to New York with his parents, Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Probably the No. 1 thing was the Carnegie Deli: they’d always order lox, cheese blintzes, and matzo-ball soup.

I hope they enjoyed it in good health.

Here are the rest of the words to Rowboat, paraphrased in the title. Here's Marty Green performing his excellent translation of A Boy Named Sureh.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Baby Bok Choy

I got these adorable little bok choy from Hydrofarm at Union Square. I knew I wanted to prepare them in a way that would show off their shape. Since I was keeping the bunches of greens whole, I kept the mushrooms whole too.

Whole Baby Bok Choy with Mushrooms

½ pound baby bok choy (fourteen little bunches or heads)
½ ounce dried shitakes (eight mushrooms)
oil, 1 teaspoon shoyu (soy sauce), 1 teaspoon mirin or rice wine, ½ teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
If needed, just a pinch of salt and/or sugar

Blanch the bok choy briefly in half an inch of boiling water (you would not do this in Chinese cooking, but since I was leaving the bunches whole, I gave them a little extra cooking). Reconstitute the mushrooms in hot water (you can use the leftover bok choy water). Heat about three tablespoons of oil in a wok or wide skillet or sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and stir for a few minutes. Then add the greens. Mix the leftover mushroom water with shoyu, mirin, and cornstarch if you are using it, and add to the hot pan. Stir another minute. That’s all.

Nope, I know what you’re thinking; add no garlic or other seasonings to this. Sometimes you just have to let bok choy be bok choy. Stop! I can tell; you’re nodding your head, and thinking you’re just going to add the garlic as soon as this screen is off. Try it plain just once. These vegetables are exquisite, as is our heroine, the intrepid sweetnicks.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

װאָס טוט אַ קולינאַרישער עטנאָגראַף

אַ מאָל פֿרעגט מען בײַ מיר װאָס איז בפֿירוש מײַן אַרבעט.

— ביסט אַ פֿאָלקלאָריסטקע? פֿרעגן זײ, דאָס הײסט אַז דו זינגסט פֿאָלקסלידער?

— אַ מאָל זינג איך יאָ אַ פֿאָלקסליד, זאָג איך, אָבער דאָס איז נישט מײַן אַרבעט.

— דערצײלסטו דען פֿאָלקס־מעשׂות? פֿרעגן זײ װײַטער,

— אַ מאָל דערצײל איך יאָ אַ פֿאָלקס־מעשׂה, בין איך מודה, אָבער דאָס איז אױך נישט מײַן אַרבעט.

— נו, אַז נישט, װאָס איז יאָ דײַן אַרבעט?

— איך זיץ בײַ ייִדן אין קיך, און איך טרינק בײַ זײ טײ און עס פֿלאָדן.

— און פֿאַר דעם קריגסטו באַצאָלט?

נישט גענוג.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Eating While Sleeping

A page from the diary of Saint Veronica Giuliani reproduced in Holy Anorexia

Tuesday the New York Times had an article about a Sleep-eating disorder among some users of Ambien. The report reminded me of the story of Saint Veronica (Orsola) Giuliani (1660-1727), about whom I first read in Holy Anorexia by Rudolph M. Bell.

Saint Veronica practiced various forms of extreme asceticism her whole life and at one point miraculously fasted for five years. During this period, the devil was occasionally seen to take Sister Veronica’s form late at night and pretty much raid the icebox, or whatever the seventeenth-century-icebox-equivalent was, at the Capuchin convent of Città di Castello.

I have often wondered what to make of this detail of Saint Veronica’s biography. It seems likeliest that she had some kind hybrid sleeping and eating disorder very similar to what many folks are suffering now. On the other hand, it may have been that this extraordinarily accomplished and ambitious leader was one of a number of sincere believers who feel that a certain amount of deception is excusable, and even necessary, for the sake of the greater truth.

And on the third hand, maybe it really was the devil.

This site has a painting of a seventeenth century Italian kitchen, which may somewhat resemble the scene of the controversy.

Bell, Rudolph M. Holy Anorexia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Post-Purim Satiety

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Cook Part II: Chefs, Bakers, Doctors, and Lawyers

TBTAM had a very funny post recently about similarities between chefs and doctors. I like number 11: Clogs. We love 'em.

This reminded me of a conversation I had about twelve years ago, when I was still working full-time as a baker. I was teaching at a folk arts festival, at which one is meeting many new people and trying to remember who they are. One day at lunch I sat down next to a jolly old bean. The following is verbatim:

Old Bean: So, You’re a lawyer.

Chocolate Lady: Hm? Ah, no; not I.

OB: Something like that, then?

CL: I’m a baker.

OB: Why did I think you were a lawyer?

CL: I don’t know

OB: Well, lawyers and bakers must have something in common.

CL: Assuredly they must.

OB: Like what for instance?

CL: (After a moment) Tortes!

I just had to tell you about that since never before or since has the right word occurred to me at just the right time.

There is a common Yiddish saying

אײדער דעם דאָקטאָר, בעסער דעם בעקער.

which means it is better to spend money at the baker’s place than at the doctor’s.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Herbata Pokrzywowa (Nettle tea)

Lamium Album, White Achangell from Gerard's Herball (The herb discussed below is stinging nettle, or urtica. Gerard does not provide an illustration of stinging nettles, but they look just like these harmless guys, so watch it.)

Pokrzywa is the Polish word for stinging nettle; one of my favorite words and one of a very few words I knew in Polish before English. The nettles themselves are fearsome; they cause a painful burning reaction upon contact, and I was at first surprised to learn that they highly valued and sought-after for their flavor and putative healing properties. Even if it is true that they are disarmed and delicious when cooked or dried, how did anyone ever get close enough to find out?

According to Gerard’s Herball of 1597, revised 1636, Nettles are

covered with a stinging down, which with a light touch only causeth a great burning, and raiseth hard knots in the skin like blisters, sometimes making it red.
I don't know if the last four hundred and nine years have yielded a better description of the effect of nettles. They have among their “vertues”:

Nicander affirmeth, that it is a remedie against the venomous qualitie of Hemlocke, Mushroms, and Quicksilver.
And Apollodorous saith that it is a counterpoison for Henbane, Serpents, and Scorpions.
Pliny saith, the same Author writeth, that the oile of it takes away the sting that the Nettle it selfe maketh.

Well, possibly, but I will not be trying this at home. I will be continuing to make nettle tea in the evenings. Even if it doesn’t cure your henbane poisoning, it is a tonic and restorative tipple on its own.

The only Yiddish word for nettle with which I am familiar is "פּאָקשיװע" or "pokshive," clearly cognate with the Polish. Mordkhe Schaechter's Plant Names in Yiddish provides "קראָפּעװע" or "kropeve", and "בריעכץ" or "briekhts"

Herbata Pokrzywowa (Nettle tea)

Scald a teapot with boiling water. Place dried nettle leaves in the pot (one teaspoon per cup), and pour boiling water over the leaves. Allow to steep for about three minutes

Optional: add dried mint leaves and/or dried violets to the nettle leaves.

For Weekend Herb Blogging. I expect Gerard might be back.

Gerard, John, and Marcus Woodward. Gerard's Herball: The Essence Thereof. New York: Crescent Books: Distributed by Crown Publishers, 1985.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The other day I picked up a copy of Carlo Middione’s Southern Italian Cooking. I do like the buttery yellow cover.

This is a big heavy book in many senses. Middione frequently uses lots of exclamation points when he is trying to impress upon us the urgency of correct pasta handling!!! Well, I can’t say I don’t know how he feels. I am eager to try almost every recipe I’ve read so far, among them eggplant dumplings, poached eggs in tomato purgatory and others.

So far I made Maccheroni alla Maniera di Andria or Macaroni with Arugula and Fresh Tomatoes. To be fair to Middione, what I made ended up very different from his recipe, mostly because there are no fresh tomatoes, but I did follow his process as far as cooking the arugula together with the pasta, and then tossing with a tomato sauce. I got those lovely baby arugola leaves from Hydrofarm at the Union Square Farmers’ Market. Here’s how I approximated Middione’s recipe this time:

Spaghetti with Arugula and Tomato Sauce

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 pound arugula, cut or torn into large pieces
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 fat pinches oregano
¾ cup chianti, if you have an open bottle going
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (You may leave this out if you loathe tomato paste. Middione's recipe calls only for fresh tomatoes)

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for a few minutes. Add arugola to the water and continu cooking spaghetti and arugola to desired degree of done-ness. While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large pan or skillet and add the onion. When the onion begins to soften a bit, add the garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the oregano, rubbing the leaves between your fingers to break them up. After another minute, add the wine, tomatoes and tomato paste. Raise heat and cook for a few minutes more and taste for seasonings. Drain the pasta and arugola and toss with the tomato sauce. Cheese if you please. For Sweetnicks. Happy Purim, Happy Inupiaq Day, Happy Pi Day.


Wow, these came out really well. I was worried because the dough was much stickier than usual and did not rise very much at all, perhaps because in my haste I put in half again as much sugar as called for. Whoops. But they are so tender and delicious, illustrating again The Chocolate Lady’s Second Law of Pastry:

The uglier the dough looks while you are rolling it out, the more beautiful the finished product will be.

The first law is cool hands, warm heart.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Poppy Filling for Homentashn

Monet Poppy Field at Giverny Boston MFA

Poppy, or mon, or mun, according to most Yiddish culinary lexicographers, is the filling from which it seems likely that “homentashn” take their name, in which case they were originally “montashn” or “poppy pockets.” The name presumably got Purimized later on.
After I have ground the poppy seeds with the lemon and orange zest, but before I have mixed them with the other ingredients, I set aside ¼ cup of the seeds to mix with the dough, so you know what’s inside. Jennie Grosinger’s yeast dough recipe is ideal for this filling. It is a very rich khale (challah) or brioche-type dough.

Poppy Filling for Homentashn
1 pound poppy seeds (about 2 cups)
zest from one lemon, organic and unwaxed, if possible
zest from one orange, organic and unwaxed, if possible
1 cup milk, possibly a bit more if the mixture is too dry
1 cup bamboo honey or other dark honey
one cup raisins, plumped overnight in some water (or dark rum). By all means, leave these out if you loathe raisins. What on earth is it about raisins that provokes such powerful sentiments? They're just raisins.
Grind up the poppy seeds with the lemon zest in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Put them in a saucepan with the other ingredients and cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool before assembling the pastries. If you don’t have a grinder you can ask if the place where you buy the seeds can grind them for you (some health food stores will do this), or you can soak all the ingredients together overnight before cooking. Some folks think this way is even better.
איז מײַן נשמה דען אַ ראָזשינקע?
I just remembered the Yiddish expression "iz mayn neshome den a rozshinke?" or "Is my soul a raisin?" which someone might say if he or she had been treated with hurtful unkindness or disrespect. I've always thought this expression was devastatingly eloquent, because the injured party is not claiming that one should have been treated better because of some imagined importance, but because one's soul is not, after all, a raisin.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

װען אײן סוס ניט קאן משטין זײַן

די עלצטע ייִדישע רעצעפּטן זענען סגולות און רפֿואות. דער דאָזיקער איז פֿון אַ כּתבֿ־יד פֿון רל“ד (1474) װאָס געפֿינט זיך אינעם סטוטגאַרטער װירטעמבערגישן לאַנדסביבליאָטעק. איך האָב זיך ערשט דערװוּסט װעגן דעם פֿון מרדכי בערנשטײנס „צװײ רעצעפּטן־ביכער אין אַלט־ייִדיש פֿון 1474 און 1509”

דװקא 17, 1953.

װען אײן סוס ניט קאן משטין זײַן. נים קנובלוך און פּפֿעפֿר און רײַבא אים די צין דאָ מיט.

װען אַ פֿערד קען זיך ניט אױספּישן נעם קנאָבל און פֿעפֿער און רײַב אים די צײן דערמיט.

(If a horse cannot urinate, take garlic and pepper and rub his teeth with it.)

Bernshteyn, Mordkhe. "Tsvey Retseptn-Bikher in Alt-Yidish Fun 1474 Un 1509." Davke 17 (1953): 330-61.

Frakes, Jerold C. Early Yiddish Texts, 1100-1750. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Read Cookbooks

La Lecture (1869-70) by Berthe Morisot

I am grateful to Marian the Librarian for bringing to my attention The Digested Read, which provides very funny and consistently alarmingly accurate synopses of recent books, including most delightfully such cookbooks as Jamie Oliver’s Italy (“But most of all I love the food. It's so localised, it's villagional.”), Gordon Ramsay Makes it Easy (nothing that can be quoted in a family blog), a book I had not previously heard of called Food Heroes (“Want to make an ordinary salad look poncey? Just chuck in a few dandelions and cobnuts.”), and Delia (“Do you have a well-stocked cupboard? You don't want to be caught out. I was once about to make a cake when I was absolutely horrified to discover that my mixed spice was a year out of date. So give your fruit liqueurs and vinegars to the church bazaar and stock up.”)

I am especially tickled by their version of Harry potter 5.

While we’re on book reviews, I recommend The Complete Review, also from the UK, even though they don’t do cookbooks. TCR takes on a small number of titles, but then they collate every review you might want to see.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Chocolate-Apricot Homentashn

Make a double batch of the chocolate shortbread from Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Chocolate Desserts. Divide the dough into four parts. Working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough out to a generous ¼ inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut three-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or glass. Re-roll the scraps with subsequent batches.

Preheat the oven to 325F

Pipe about one and a half teaspoons of apricot filling onto each chocolate circle. You may also use two spoons to fill the circles. Fold up the circles on three sides to form three-cornered pockets and pinch the seams well to seal them.

Place the filled homentashn on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

Make these first; they are even better after resting a few days.

If you have some leftover filling, have it with yogurt, toast, or bagels.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

שאָקאָלאַדער טײג פֿאַר המנטאַשן

זײער אַן ענלעכער רעצעפּט געפֿינט זיך אין מײַדע היטערס בוך פֿון װוּנדערלעכע שאָקאָלאַדע דעסערטן.
מײַן רעצעפּט איז אַנדערש אין דעם װאָס איך נוץ נישט קײן װאַניל, און איך מאַך צװײ מאָל אַזױ פֿיל. דער טײג פּאַסט זיך זײער גוט צום אַבריקאָסן לעקװאַר. אַ זיװג מן־השמים.

שאָקאָלאַדער טײג פֿאַר המנטאַשן

1 פֿונט (4 טעפּלעך) מעל
1 טעפּל קאַקאַאָ
2 טעפּלעך פּולװער־צוקער
1 פֿונט פּוטער
אַ ביסל װאַסער אָדער טײ

מישט אױס מעל, קאַקאַאָ, און צוקער אין אַ פּראָצעסירער. גיט צו קאַלטע פּוטער, זעשניטן אױף שטיקלעך, און מישט גוט אױס. גיסט אַרײַן אַ פּאָר טראָפּלעך װאַסער אָדער טײ, עס זאָל װערטן אַ טײג.

Heatter, Maida. Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. 1st ed. New York: Knopf : distributed by Random House, 1980.


Apricot Filling for Homentashn

The apricots you want to use for filling are the California apricots (pictured top). They are the flatter, harder, sourer apricots. The ones I bought today are so sour you can see Krakow from Lemberg. The apricots that you do not want (for this particular recipe) are the Turkish apricots (not all of which are necessarily from Turkey). They are the sweeter, softer, plumper apricots (pictured bottom). I used to use them to top white chocolate truffle cakes. Hey, there’s a cake I haven’t thought about in a while. Maybe I’ll make one of those again some time.

Apricot filling for Homentashn (hamentashen), Doughnuts, or Layercakes

½ pound California apricots
1 cup water
½ cup sugar (you may adjust the sugar to your taste)
Optional: squeeze of lemon or orange juice or both, bit of grated lemon or orange zest. Small piece of vanilla pod, the tiniest drop of almond extract.

Put the apricots and water in a saucepan and leave them to soak for several hours or overnight. Add the sugar and optional ingredients, and bring to the boil. Cook for about ten minutes or until the fruit is quite tender. Allow to cool and puree in a processor or food mill. If you can only get Turkish apricots, omit the sugar and add some of the optional flavorings, but not too much. If you can taste almond extract, there is too much.

Maida Heatter’s recipe for chocolate shortbread makes a suitable dough for this filling.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

טענטאַטיװער צײַטפּלאַן

דער רעצעפּט׃ אַ ייִדישער ליטעראַרישער זשאַנער
ייִװאָ–פֿרילינג־זמן 2006/תּשסו
איװ יאָכנאָװיץ

טענטאַטיװער צײַטפּלאַן

1. 6טער מאַרץ

װאָס איז אַ רעצעפּט? װאָס איז אַ ייִדישער רעצעפּט? דער „רעצעפּט“ אױף אַלט־ייִדיש׃ רפֿואות און סגולות. דאָס קאָכבוך.

0. 13טער מאַרץ
פּורים׃ אַ פֿרײליכן יום־טובֿ אַלע!

2. 20טער מאַרץ
דער רעצעפּט אין קאָנטעקסט׃ דער ענין פֿון כּשרות; דער ענין פֿון װעגעטאַריאַניזם; עסן און פּאָליטיק.

3. 27טער מאַרץ
דער רעצעפּט אין דער ייִדישער ליטעראַטור; דער רעצעפּט אין דער ייִדישער פּרעסע; דער ייִדישער רעצעפּט אינעם 21סטער יאָרהונדערט.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Orange Alert: Carrot Cutlets

I picked out Kira Petrovskaya’s Russian Cookbook, the most orange book on my shelf, this week to look for a recipe for Alicat and Sara’s Weekend Cookbook Challenge, in which the pilgrims seek to make something orange. This vividly colored offering is for Sweetnicks as well.

My copy of Petrovskaya’s book is the 1992 Dover edition. The book was originally published by Prentiss Hall in 1961 as Kyra’s Secrets of Russian Cooking. Maybe they felt they had to change the title because “secrets” was no longer an appropriate word for the post cold war era, or because the proliferation of Russian cookbooks in English in recent decades made the cuisines of Russia less secret, or both. I can’t guess why they changed the Romanization of the author’s name.

This book has many charming features. There is a recipe for “Cauliflower Under Sauce.” One of the chapter headings is “Things Made With Dough. I like that. If the chapter is about things made with dough, why on earth should you call it anything other than “Things Made With Dough”?

I was afraid that Russian cuisine might not lend itself especially to oranginess, but providentially, the very first page to which the book fell open had a recipe for Carrot Kotlety, or carrot cutlets. This recipe is different from a number of carrot latke recipes I’ve seen in that the carrots are cooked first, and they are cooked in milk, along with semolina. Cooking the carrots in milk reminds me of gajar halva, a very sweet carrot fudge, and of a scene in Little House in the Big Woods in which Ma cooks carrots in milk to make color the winter butter yellow. The girls loved eating the carrots left over from this process.

This sounds like a lot of fun, though I was concerned at first about whether such a soft batter would fry up into stable little kotlety.

I double recipes almost compulsively, but the recipe as printed calls for two and a half pounds of carrots, and that seemed like too much even for me. I thought carrot kotlety might not lend themselves to repeated re-heatings, so I halved the recipe, using the proportions listed below:

Carrot Kotlety

1 ¼ pounds carrots (4 cups grated)
1 cup milk (the original calls for hot milk, but you’re going to cook it anyway—it’ll get hot then)
1 teaspoon butter
A few pinches sugar (the original calls for more)
1/3 cup semolina (original: Semolina or Farina)
2 eggs
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Wash and shred carrots, place in a cooking pot and add hot milk, butter, sugar and a dash of salt and cover with a lid [a cooking pot! I’m smiling about that]. Stir often and watch that the carrots don’t burn (cook over low fire).

When the carrots are tender [how long? She doesn’t say. It took about 20 minutes] slowly add Farina or Semolina stirring constantly and cook over slow fire for another 8-10 minutes [capitalization in original]. Remove carrots from the fire, cool for 2-3 minutes and add the egg yolks. Mix thoroughly and cool. When the mixture is completely cool, form cutlets, brush with egg white, and roll in breadcrumbs. Fry in butter on both sides until golden.

Serve with sour cream or milk sauce. Serves four.

I’m glad I tried this. If I make them again I might season the carrots a little more aggressively, maybe with pepper, or perhaps with a cardamom pod, to go after the halva effect. They are very nice and carroty as is.

Petrovskaya, Kyra. Kyra's Secrets of Russian Cooking. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1961.

Wayne, Kyra Petrovskaya. Russian Cookbook. New York: Dover, 1992.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Resting on my Laurels

I apologize if sixty thousand Weekend Herb Bloggers have already used this title. This week I made a couple of things with bay leaves. For a long time I resisted cooking with laurel or bay leaves. The whole point seemed to elude me. I began to see reason when I started preparing beans frequently. The real turning point came when I started combining them with fruit, as I do in this tsimes.

I slice the carrots diagonally because I think the ovals look prettier with the shape of the prunes than plain circles. The slices are about 3/16” thick, or just shy of a quarter-inch (0.5 cm)

Lost and found Tsimes

Pitted prunes, equal to 2/3 the volume of the carrots (they will expand)
Tea (you may use water)
One large onion, cut into medium dice
Six slender carrots, about one pound, sliced into thin ovals
1 or 2 bay leaves
2 chile pods
1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges

Put the prunes into tea to cover and allow them to begin soaking as you prepare the recipe.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Use a larger skillet than you think you need so that everything can caramelize evenly. Add diced onions, lower heat and cook for several minutes. When the onions are about halfway there (light gold) add the sliced carrots, chile pods and bay leaves. Continue to cook and stir several minutes more or until onions are deep nut-brown and carrots are taking a bit of color. Add the prunes and tea and a bit of salt, and raise heat somewhat. Allow the tsimes to cook, stirring occasionally until the tea is absorbed and the carrots are done. Taste for salt and possibly a little sugar. Put the lemon wedges or slices in the pan just long enough before serving to warm them up. So pretty.

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