Category Archives: Beef

Like Talking To A Wall

If you have ever been to Israel, whether you are Jewish or not, you have most probably visited the Kotel, the Western Wall.  And whether it is your first time, or your 100th time, you probably every now and again leave a little note for God, stuffed in the cracks of the wall.

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Have It Your Way

Even though my mother was secular my father was observant, and I grew up in a kosher home.  As a child I watched my fair share of television, and desperately wanted to eat what those of us growing up in the Sixties and Seventies were brainwashed to eat.  But I couldn’t.  Most of those wonderfully-colored, chemically-enhanced, MSG-laden and gelatin-laced yummies were not kosher and therefore never made it over the threshold of the house or on to my tastebuds.

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Unstuffed Sukkah

Sukkah Lights in the City of David

Some people are amazed at the lengths (and depths) I will go to in the kitchen to put a meal on the table, or tempt you with something sweet to have with your coffee.  Yes, we do have home-baked challah every Shabbat (the last time store-bought challot graced our Shabbat table was… um… I can’t remember… 2003?).  Yes, I will patchkeh around with the pastry bag and make a legion of profiteroles.  Yes, I will concoct my own liqueurs potent enough to knock you out after a tiny shnapps glassful.  Yes, I have been known to make my own jams, youghurt, chutneys, even marzipan.  But I draw the line somewhere.  I’m not a fan of rolling out pastry dough (I’ll do it, but grumble throughout).  Unless you count krepach (Jewish wontons), I’ve never made my own pasta.  And I hate, hate, HATE stuffing cabbage.  Back in the late 90s I came across a recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage and my life changed forever.  I made it every Sukkot, when it’s traditional to eat stuffed cabbage.  I made it all throughout the winter, and well into the summer.  It was yummy and easy and a hit.


Not Ju-boy's stuffed cabbage, but an exact replica

Then I married Ju-Boy.  He thinks Unstuffed Cabbage is an abomination.  He had it once at my house while we were dating, and decided to quote Rabbi Meir Kahane and say “Never again!”  He makes his own stuffed cabbage and that is the only kind allowed in his sukkah.  Why do we eat stuffed cabbage on Sukkot in the first place.  I Googled and Googled, but it seems I’m handier in the kitchen then on Google, since all I could find was a bunch of websites explaining that one eats stuffed foods on Sukkot, but not why.   And then I came upon Interesting Thing of the Day.  It took a non-Jew to give me an explanation I can identify with:

Although there are no explicit rules as to what foods must be eaten during Sukkot, stuffed foods are extremely common. These may include stuffed peppers, eggplants, or cabbage, stuffed fruits and pastries, knishes, kreplach, main-dish pies, or even ravioli. Though no one knows for sure, there are several theories as to how the metaphor of stuffing came to be associated with Sukkot. Some commentators liken the stuffed foods to miniature cornucopia, representing a bountiful harvest. The cornucopia originated in Greek mythology, so the terminology is not historically accurate, but the symbolism may nevertheless be correct. In terms of the harvest that Sukkot celebrates, produce such as peppers and eggplant will have been gathered recently, and Mark suggested that stuffing them with the other late-summer vegetables may represent the completion of the harvest. Sukkot also includes the notion of welcoming guests (both living and historical heroes) into the sukkah, thus “stuffing” them into a wrapper of sorts.

I like this explanation a lot.  And it goes with my Jewish mother philosophy of life of stuffing people with food.

But for those of you who don’t agree with this philosophy, or don’t like patchkeying around in the kitchen, or just like a quick dish to put together for the holiday, I bring you…

Unstuffed Cabbage

  • 750 ml (3 cups)  ketchup
  • 1 liter (4 cups) ginger ale
  • 1 whole medium  cabbage, very coarsely shredded
  • 1 kilo (2 pounds)  ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or matza meal
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  1. Put the ketchup and ginger ale into a large soup pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the cabbage and lower the heat so it simmers.
  3. In a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Wet hands and form large balls, place gently into the simmering cabbage in the pot.
  5. Bring to the boil again, turn heat down, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Serve with something to mop up the juices (like my challah, hint, hint).

Photo courtesy of Chia from Recipezaar

One of the advantages to living in a blended family is that we combined not only our families, kitchens, pets and furniture, we also combined our sukkot.  Ju-Boy puts together both frames not to create one giant sukka, but a two-roomed suite, complete with dining area and separate bedroom.  I’d like to show you a picture, but can’t.  We never photographed our sukka.  How remiss of us.  So instead, I’ve garnered a few funky pix of sukkot that might entertain.  A few are from my album on Facebook, Only in Israel, and when you see them, you’ll see why.  Enjoy…

Sukka on a yacht, courtesy of Doubletapper's blog

Gotta have your Whopper in the sukkah

Latte in the sukkah -- photo courtesy of Elie Lederman

Lulav? Check. Etrog? Check? Hadas and arava? Check? Automatic weapons? Of course!

Sukkot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- any piece of open sky will do...

And finally…

I wish our sukkah got built that quickly and efficiently!  And look at the size of the dining room table — I want one!


Wishing you all a Happy Sukkot!

!חג סוכות שמח


Food Snob? Moi?

Photo by *Parsley* of Recipezaar.com

I can be a snob about many things.  I am a coffee snob.  I am a spice snob.  I wish I could afford to be a saucepan snob.  But one thing I am not is a food snob.  Ju-Boy wonders at the fact that I can whip up something almost gourmet using the choicest juicy chunks of fresh Cornish ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark’s vomit (10 points for guessing the source of that one), while at the same time using such mundane ingredients such as onion soup mix, ketchup and Coca Cola.

A generation raised on Hawaiian Punch and Ding Dongs

Yes, I cook with Coca Cola and I admit it.  When I was a little girl my mother wouldn’t let me near the stuff, claiming it wasn’t good for me.  She let me drink Hawaiian Punch instead (sold in lead cans).  And when she finally caved into progeny pressure it was bottles of the local no-frills cola that appeared on  the supper table, none of that heady stuff that came out of Atlanta.

I remember the first time she caught me pouring myself a glass of the stuff at breakfast.  “Miraleh, are you meshugah?  Drinking cola for breakfast?  So unhealthy!  Have a glass of milk instead, and pass me that can of Maxwell House coffee, please?”

Some Of The Joys Of Being An Adult

  • Buying what’s in fashion, not what’s sensible
  • Eating a tub of ice cream, on the couch, in front of the television
  • Naptime, once dreaded, is now your friend
  • Knowing what the words mean in that song
  • Drinking Coke for breakfast!

I have a few vices, but the only one I will find hard to give up is my Diet Coke fix.  I’ve quit smoking (so long ago most of my friends don’t even realize I ever did smoke).  I probably could give up alcohol (but I don’t wanna).  I have given up (at various times) coffee, dairy, meat, MSG and trashy novels.  But I always cave when it comes to giving up that lovely, fizzy, artificial, sweet, heavenly cola.

Back to snobby cooking… at home we are now trying to cook healthily.  That means buying more organic, less processed, fresher and tastier.  But Rosh Hashana is coming around the corner (very fast), and one of my favorite things to cook, serve and eat is a tender brisket, slow cooked in the crock pot, swimming with artificial yumminess.

The original recipe was given to me yonks ago by a co-worker, Lea Bruce.  It’s mine now…

You don’t need a crock pot for this, you could simmer it over low heat on top of the stove, or roast it in a slow oven.

Crock Pot Brisket

  • 2 kilos (4 pounds) brisket (in Israel I use a #5 cut)
  • 1/2 cup mustard (plain yellow is best, don’t get too pretentious with the Dijon)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 2 cups Coca Cola (don’t use the diet stuff unless it’s made with Splenda, not aspartime)
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  1. Place the brisket in the crock pot.  You may have to cut it in half to fit.
  2. Mix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the brisket.
  3. Cook on high for about 8 hours, or overnight on low.
  4. Let it cool down a bit before slicing.

Dog Years

A second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

— Samuel Johnson

Today Ju-boy and I have been married for five years.  A mere seven years ago, if you had told me we would be celebrating this auspicious event, I would have asked you what did you smoke for breakfast?  Seven years ago I was married to a different husband, living in a different part of the county and I intended to continue doing so for the rest of my life.

All together now:  man plans, God laughs.

I have recently begun to think that one should count second marriages in dog years.

When Ju-boy stepped on the glass under the chuppah on that brilliant Friday morning five years ago the world changed for both of us.  Instantly we each acquired four step-children, a step-dog, an elderly parent-in-law (sadly both are no longer with us), brand new siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, mortgages and baggage.  Lots of baggage.

Enter my dog years theory.  Of course, it goes without saying that we are happy together, thrilled at being able to find “The One” a second time.  I’m not saying that each year drags on and feels like seven.  What I am trying to say is that because of our (for want of a better word) previous lives, each year is now filled with seven years worth of life. 

Warning:  Ahhhhhhh moment approaching.  Those allergic to corn please avert your eyes.

I am  infinitely grateful that in this instance, God did laugh at my plans.  I could not have found a better person to love, hate, adore, get up my nose… in short, spend the next 50 years of my life together with him.  Which, if you follow my dog years theory, amounts to 350 years.  Buckle your seat belt, Ju-boy, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

In my Chapter 2 I have been blessed with a husband who not only appreciates my cooking, but is an amazing cook in his own right.  When we were dating he once returned from abroad bearing the gift of, no, not jewelry, no, not perfume, he proudly gave me a blowtorch.  One friend asked me if I would now be breaking up with this wierd present giving geek, but those who know my fondness for kitchen toys could already predict a merging of cooking techniques in the near future.

Ju-boy, never one to embrace the mundane, even in the kitchen, uses my (now our) blow torch to brown his beef before roasting.  It really works, the meat is moist, the juices sealed in wonderfully.  The man can really cook a cow.

 

Torched Roast Beef

Here in the Miriyummy household we use the #6 cut of meat, falshe fillet.  My buddies at israel-food told me that the American equivalent is called chuck calachel.  Use whatever works best for you when making roast beef.

1 1/2 kilos (3 pounds) roasting beef

Freshly ground black pepper

  • Brown the meat by using a blow torch. 
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Roast at 200 degrees C (400  degrees F) for 45 minutes.

This produces what Ju-boy calls the perfect roast, moist, delicious and red all the way through.

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