Category Archives: Breakfast
You’ve heard of the phrase “Two Jews, three opinions?” If there’s one thing that unites the Jewish people it’s dissention.
When Ju-Boy and I were dating we played the “Where Is Your Family From?” game. My father was Hungarian, my mother Lithuanian. His mother was Irish, and his father was Viennese. Not Austrian, Viennese. He was very exact about that.
Grandpa was a true gem. I only came to know him late in his life and I could see that I missed out on years of entertainment. He had a true love of life, music, wine, women and song. He left Vienna as a child and moved to London, but despite his many years in England he had a certain Viennese flavor, a je n’ai sais quoi, or rather, an ich habe irgendetwas. He was never without a twinkle in his eye. He spoke softly and carried a big stick, and was full of humor, the same dry humor he passed on to his son. Being in the room with the two of them could be painful, you had to constantly be on your toes because you were never sure if they were being serious or not.
Like his sons and his grandsons, the man loved fruit. When he came to visit the house was filled with fruit. Actually, the house is always filled with fruit. But when Grandpa came to visit we made sure there was even more fruit than usual. Another thing we always made sure to have for Grandpa’s visit was a jar of store-bought marmalde. He loved marmalade. It used to irk me a bit, I make a mean jar of the stuff, but Grandpa usually came to visit in the warmer months of the year, and oranges are a winter fruit in Israel. I never did manage to have a jar of the homemade stuff available when he came through the door.
Three years ago Grandpa came out to Israel during the winter. He came specifically for Optimus Prime’s wedding to the Rani. With all the insanity of the festivities, the Shabbat chatan, the oofroof and the sheva brachot, I didn’t even think to make him some marmalade. There was always next year.
But next year never came. Grandpa was fortunate enough to see his first grandchild married. He went home to London and based on some pretty racy photos, celebrated Purim, big time. He celebrated his English 81st birthday on a Sunday, his Hebrew 81st birthday on Monday night, and died on Tuesday.
It’s been almost three years since Grandpa died, and he is missed. These days, every time I make some orange marmalade I get a bittersweet feeling in my heart. I wish I had made him a jar.
Enter Aussie Elie. If Grandpa’s passing saddens me whenever I make a batch of marmalade, Elie manages to put a smile on my face. He loves the stuff. I can’t even make a batch anymore without putting aside some for what has come to be known as Ma’aser Elie (Elie’s tithe). This winter alone I’ve made two or three batches, and no matter what time of night it’s done and jarred, Elie is at my door, ready for his dosage of sticky, orange goop.
One of the rules in my house is that you are not allowed to eat anything unless I’ve taken a picture of it. Ju-Boy knows this, the kids know this, but Aussie Elie sweeps in and swoops down and absconds with my marmalade before I can even photograph it. Enter Better-Half Hindy to save the day. The girl can be quite handy with a camera. And she’s quick, too, since I understand Elie can eat the stuff pretty fast and it’s gone before you know it.
Yeah, why not name it after Elie?
- 6 large oranges
- 1 kilogram sugar (2.2 pounds, 5 cups)
- Wash the fruit well. Really well. Cut away any blemishes.
- Cut into quarters, and then cut those quarters into half. Remove any pits.
- Place the orange pieces, skin and all, in the food processor and zhuzz around until finely chopped. You can leave in a few larger pieces for artistic interpretation. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in two or three batches.
- You can add some crystallized ginger while zhuzzing, but I never have. I adore the stuff, but not everyone does.
- Dump the zhuzzed oranges into a heavy pot, and then dump the whole kilo of sugar on top.
- Bring to the boil, then lower the flame to medium. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. It can splatter, so be careful.
Do not double the ingredients. Rather, make two batches.
This never goes dark and can last for six months in the fridge without any need to sterilize the jars. Six months, or one Elie.
I wouldn’t say we were poor growing up, but my brother and I never had what the other kids had. My parents were Holocaust survivors who came out of the camps with just the rags on their backs and managed to put their lives back together one day at a time. They both found their way out of the ruins of Europe and settled in Sweden, where they met and married. Together they saved up to immigrate to New York where they made a home, created a family and were just happy to live out an existence which was meant to have been extinguished by Hitler. And yet here they were, given a new chance. Money was tight and they weren’t going to let my brother or me waste their hard-earned security on narishkeit.
So what did narishkeit mean in my parents’ world? I’ve touched upon it before when I was denied what I felt were my inalienable rights as a child or teenager. When the Mister Softee truck came tinkling its tune down the street, all the kids had a quarter for a cone. All the kids but me. We never owned a car, so I missed out on those Sunday birthday parties all my classmates attended . As I grew older it meant I didn’t have any spare change for some hot chocolate at the synagogue-sponsored ice skating party on Chanuka. I really felt left out, and nowhere did I feel more left out than at the snack bar, or the ice cream truck. When you’re the only kid without a bucket of popcorn at the movies, it hurts.
When I started to earn a little money of my own I would always spend it on junk food. It was the most amazing feeling being out with friends and not being the only one without a slice of pizza. “Money burns a hole in Miraleh’s pocket,” my mother used to say, and she was right.
I didn’t even need to be among friends for that wonderful rush of buying narishkeit. One of my favorite times was a free hour in between classes at Queens College. I would head over to the kosher cafeteria and spend wonderful minutes deciding what to buy with the $10 an hour I earn teaching kids Hebrew songs and folk dancing at the local community center. One of my most favorite snacks in-between classes was a toasted corn muffin spread with yummy melting butter and a large mug of hot chocolate. I was on top of the world. And even then I was very much like my parents — it didn’t take much to make me happy. Just give me a little foodie freedom and I’m flush with contentment.
Corn muffins is one culinary experience that has never made it to Israel. Thankfully, I can recreate the experience at home. Toasted, served up with some of that sweet and delicious Israeli butter, a large glass mug of hafuch (the Israeli version of a latte) on the side, once again, I’m flush.
This recipe comes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. The Magnolia Bakery must be one of my most favorite bakeries in the world, although I’ve never been there. If you’re a foodie or love New York, you must have heard of the Magnolia Bakery. I just recently found out that they now have a hechsher, and a pretty good one at that, so you can be sure that the next time I’m in New York I will be one of those standing in the line that stretches all the way down Bleecker Street.
The recipe below is dairy, but I make my corn muffins parve. I also usually double the recipe. Whatever doesn’t get eaten right away freezes beautifully!
One last thing, read through the recipe first before you decide to make it, you don’t want scrambled eggs!
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (in Israel you can find this in the couscous section of your supermaket)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I use soymilk)
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, or 150 grams) butter (I use evil margarine), melted and cooled slightly
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C).
- This is the time to melt the butter.
- Grease well 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin tin. That’s what the recipe says. I make smaller muffins (not minis), using a #4 cupcake liner. I can get about 20 medium sized muffins out of this.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. Stir in the liquid ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix. The batter may be lumpy, don’t worry about that. BTW, this is why I told you to melt the butter first. The very first time I made this recipe I was full of hubris and just went ahead without reading it first, didn’t see you had to use melted butter, and did that at the last minute. Pouring the hot butter on top of everything else scrambled the eggs sitting in the liquid in the dry ingredient well. It wasn’t pretty. I almost cried.
- Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes (medium muffins need just 15 minutes) until lightly golden or a cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out with moist crumbs attached.
- Do not overbake.
Nature versus nurture, it’s a crap shoot, really. How much of the person you are today is because of DNA? How much of your personality is due to your upbringing? Case in point: my brother, Skeezix.
Skeezix is three years younger than I am. In spite of my efforts to destroy this interloper into my happy childhood, he’s managed to survive to become one of the defenders of truth, justice and the American way. Skeezix is a submariner in the US navy, stationed in Pearl Harbor. We were both raised in the same home, both smothered in chicken soup, sweet kiddush wine and the paranoia of Holocaust survivor parents. And yet, we have ended up on opposite sides of the Jewish spectrum.
I am what you would call agressively Jewish. I am Torah observant, I keep kosher, my week revolves around the spindle of Shabbat. Judaism for me is not just a religion, it’s a way of life.
Not so for Skeezix. In his early teens he began to buck against my parents and our way of life. Today is he a fervent athiest. He revels in letting me know how delicious pork is, that he has no clue when Yom Kippur is, and it’s really pissing me off that he inherited our mother’s cast iron frying pan and he’s using it to fry up his shark steaks and bacon strips.
One of the things that drove my parents to despair is that Skeezix married Dree, the Shiksa. My father sadly shook his head and oy-yoy-yoyed into his Gemara. My mother threatend to put her head in the oven. Dree is the epitome of Shiksahood. Tattooed, pierced in places you can only begin to imagine, this bacon-eating, Santa-loving transplanted surfer girl was every thing my parents dreaded Skeezix would bring home.
I have to admit, I was also prejudiced, at first. My brother’s description of their wedding included the line, “Dree’s dad got so drunk we had to carry him out to his truck.” No offense, my darling Dree, but those are words never really heard at an Orthodox Jewish wedding.
Skeezix and I planned a joint trip back to New York, me bringing my two youngest from Israel, Skeezix bringing the Shiksa and her daughter (from her first marriage) from Hawaii. I was planning on being gracious, but not overly friendly. I was sure this family reunion was going to set off an Armageddon in the Bronx (as if that didn’t happen all the time).
I planned on being gracious, and yet again, Miriyummy plans and God laughs. What I discovered was that Dree was one cool Shiksa. She’s funny, she’s smart and she refuses to take any crap from the anti-religious Skeezix. She’s the one who pushed my brother to light Chanuka candles in my father’s house. She’s the one who forced him to drink kosher wine at my mother’s Shabbat table. She made sure the chocolate dreidls they brought my kids from Hawaii were kosher. She dragged my brother out of the apartmet to smoke in the stairwell so as not to offend my father on Shabbat. As much as I wanted to not like Dree, I grew to love her. She respected my parents’ way of life, and made my rebellious brother respect them as well.
Dree and Skeezix are unfortunately separated now, though still married. I never thought I would say this, but I hope my stupid brother comes to his senses and realizes what a treasure he has in my favorite shiska. Listen, if your family has to have a token shiksa, let it be one as cool as Dree. Aloha au ia ‘oe kuaana!
This is a Carine Goren recipe. The first time I posted some pictures on Facebook of a chocolate babka I made I got a comment from Dree that she loves that stuff. So here’s a yeast cake that transcends all religions and brings family together, even when they are 12 time zones apart.
For the dough:
1/2 kilo (3 1/2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon yeast
100 grams (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (300 ml) milk
4 eggs (at room temperature)
scant half cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 grams (1/2 cup) very soft butter
1 beaten egg, for brushing on top
To make the dough, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Attach the dough hook. Melt the butter together and then add the cold milk to the melted butter so the liquid is just lukewarm. Add th butter/milk mixture to the flour/yeast mixture, together with the eggs and sugar. Mix at low to medium speed until the dough pulls together, and then add the salt. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and just a tiny bit sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled.
Because the dough is sticky, it’s perhaps best to let it rise halfway in a warm place in your kitchen and then to let it finish rising in your fridger for another two hours. This way the dough cools down and will be less sticky to work with. You could also prepare the dough a day before, or let it rise in the fridge overnight.
To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cocoa and the cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.
Take out the doubled dough and punch it down. Divide it into two separate (yet equal) pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle about 1/2 centimeter (a little over an inch) thick. I can never get the perfect rectangles you see on TV, but it really doesn’t matter, because when you roll the whole thing up in the end you can’t tell anyway.
Spread the butter over the two rectangles (polygons, blobs) and then try to sprinkle the filling evenly over the buttered dough. Roll each blob up from the long end, then twist the two rolls together and place in a buttered (or parchment-papered) round cake pan. Brush with the beaten egg. When I first made this recipe, as you can probably see in the photo, I didn’t read all the instructions, because, you know, I’m such a hotshot cook. So I mixed the butter with the sugar, cocoa and cinnamon instead. It was still spreadable, still edible, but not as good as doing it according to Carine’s instructions. Hubris bites.
At this point you should have remembered to preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F). Place the rolled babka into the oven, there’s no need for an additional rise. Bake for about 50 minutes until the babka is all brown and yummy and inviting.
The reason you don’t have one more rise before placing the babka in the oven is because that’s the way most of our grandmothers did it. If you really, really feel you need to let it rise just a bit one more time, go ahead, the Babka Police aren’t going to arrest you.
This post was written on Thursday evening, 12 August, scribbled in the dusk…
I really have had an underpriviledged childhood. Tonight will be the first night ever that I will sleep in a tent. Shy-Boy cannot believe that I have lived to the ripe old age of mumble mumble without ever having experienced the sublime nirvana that is tent dwelling.
You see, yonks ago when I went camping, we didn’t have tents. We slumbered in sleeping bags under the trees, in the rain, on desert sands, by the seashore, always under the open sky. We didn’t have a need for tents, we were roughing it. We cooked over open fires, letting the chicken pieces fall into the mud, the ash, the dirt, and using the Three Second Rule, just tossing the food back on the fire. It was delicious!
Ju-Boy and Shy-Boy go camping each summer, leaving me behind in the blissful air-conditioning, watching reruns of House or Doctor Who in wonderful solitude. Tonight I have joined them, because, I have been told, I cannot go through life without roughing it at least once in a tent.
You should have heard me earlier today making fun of the Love of My Life and his youngest progeny. They set up a tent with two bedrooms opening out of a central entranceway. We have blow-up mattresses! We have a portable barbeque! I have brought my BlackBerry to check emails! Shy-Boy is playing games on Ju-Boy’s iPhone while Ju-Boy grills entrecote steaks and is making a salad. No dirt encrusted chicken for the likes of us!
With all of this luxury, we are still roughing it. We are the poor neighbors at this campground. The family two tents away have brought a television and home cinema. Another family has brought a generator and a huge chest freezer. The teens a few meters away are bopping along to Middle Eastern disco on a huge sound system complete with strobe lights. People are cooking spaghetti on electric hobs. A little further away I can see a state-of-the-art plasma television, hooked up to a karaoke machine! You wouldn’t want to go camping and miss out on who gets eliminated from Kochav Nolad (Israeli Idol).
Okay, it’s getting dark and as we have neglected to bring a sound and light show with us, scribbling all this down is getting more and more difficult. I suppose I could tap this all into my BlackBerry, but, hey, I’m roughing it!
One confession — tonight we’re going to be treated to the Perseids meteor shower, and Shy-Boy has brought his telescope. There is definitely something to be said about smoothing out the rough edges.
- 1 can tuna packed in oil (not water!)
- 1 paper towel
- 1 match
Open the can of tuna, but do not drain the oil. Fold a paper towel into 4 and place on top of the can, pressing down into the oil. Turn and do likewise with the other side, so that the entire paper towel is saturated in tuna oil. Place the can on a flame-proof surface. Strike the match and ignite the paper towel. Stand back and watch. Take pictures if this is the first time you are doing this and your friends won’t believe what you had for breakfast that morning.
Let the flames die down of their own accord. This can take anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the oil in the can. In the meantime, you can prepare a roll with cheese, scallions, whatever you like in your tuna sandwich. No mayo is necessary.
Once the flames have died down, the tuna will be nice and smokey. There really is no need for draining now, all the oil has been burned away, leaving behind a wonderful barbequey flavor. Enjoy!
Happy happy Independence Day! Israel is 62 years old, the country snoozes off the celebrations of the night before, there’s a lingering smell of fireworks in the air, and I am digging around the kitchen for breakfast. I love breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day. So important, in fact, that I could have breakfast for lunch and even dinner. I should have been a hobbit, don’t they have a meal they call Second Breakfast?
Shovav, my dog, and I are rummaging around the house trying to find something tasty to eat. Shovav gets his dogbreath chicken liver bits in a bowl, but I’m still looking. I’m peckish, as my ex-husband used to say. Not starving, just peckish.
And then I remember — Ju-boy is away in England for the week (and quite possibly longer thanks to the volcano whose name I dare you to pronounce). While he’s gone I take advantage of the fact and buy certain foods that would never be allowed past his autocratic shopping dictates. When Ju-boy is away I buy fruit just because it’s “pretty.” I buy canned and processed goods that would otherwise never make it into the kitchen. I buy real, dairy ice cream, and don’t share it with anyone! This time, I was in Meatland, that glorious emporium that caters to a town full of Anglo immigrants who can’t live without their Dr Pepper, Walker’s crisps and biltong. I was in there there other day looking for my Dr Pepper and Cadbury Crunchie fix when I spotted them, and I knew they had to be mine!
Yes, blueberries are an Israeli fruit. We don’t really have the right climate to grow blueberries, but up north, in the Golan, you can find them in abundance. Don’t expect to find them as easily as you would find the oranges, loquats, prickly pears and apricots, being sold on the side of the road. These babies are meant for export, and off to Europe and even further they go. I’ve bought Israeli blueberries in New York. I’ve seen them in London. And now I bought them in Ra’anana. They were probably exported to Europe and then imported back into Israel. At least, the price felt that way.
So blueberries in freezer and now in hand, I defrost them in a colander. And then I start to play. I take out a shallow bowl (blue and white, of course, it is Independence Day). I ladle out a little yogurt, add some blueberries, more yogurt, more blueberries, isn’t that lovely! A true blue and white breakfast.
But wait, it needs just one more thing. And not everything blue and white is actually colored blue or white. I run (okay, amble) upstairs to my stepson’s windowbox farm. Shyboy is growing all sorts of interesting things there from “found” objects. He’s got a tomato plant climbing the walls just from some seeds he found in his salad. One day he dug a bag of nana (mint) out of the fridge and it had been kept fresh in there for so long it had started to sprout roots. So he planted it and now we have fresh nana. I add a nana leaf to the top of my breakfast. Ju-boy would be so proud, he thinks presentation is very important.
I have started buying pro-biotic yogurt. Back when I was a little girl in the Bronx I remember my mom shtupping me full of anti-biotics. And now we eschew those for pro-biotics. I Googled why pro-biotics are so good for you, but maybe if the explanation had been written in iambic pentameter I would have better absorbed the explantion. My friend Helene tells me it makes her feel better, lighter, less (or hardly even) bloated, and that’s a good enough explanation for me. I now buy pro-biotic yogurt.
Independence Day Breakfast for Two
2 cups of blueberries, fresh if you can get them, if not, frozen and thawed
2 (200 ml) containers of pro-biotic yogurt
1 sprig of nana (mint)
- Defrost and thaw the blueberries if you don’t have fresh ones. I did mine in a colander under some lightly running water. Lightly, lightly, you don’t want Niagara Falls crushing them.
- Use a blue and white dish, it’s Independence Day!
- Start with a layer of yogurt, then alternate as many layers as you like, ending with a dollop of yogurt.
- Top with a sprig of mint, it’s pretty, and you might want to take a picture for posterity.
- Serves 2.
Man plans, God laughs — this is meant to serve two people. Last night, sometime close to 11 PM, my daughter Didi and 30 of her best friends climbed into a taxi (think clowns in a Volkwagen) to go off and celebrate in dark and scary south Tel Aviv. She got home safely and I assume will be asleep for most of the day, so instead of this being a breakfast for two, it was a large and leisurely breakfast for one. Patriotic and healthy, I don’t feel any guilt whatsoever……
Just a question — if the yogurt is pro-biotic and the blueberries are full of anti-oxidents, have I just canceled everything out? 😉