Category Archives: Savory Nosh
Once upon a time there was a young princess, Sassy. One day, on the bus to Eilat, she met a fiery young man who turned out to be a superhero. After a wonderful courtship he proposed on a mountaintop in the Galil. They were married on a cold March evening near Jerusalem, and settled on a moshav near the airport, so near, in fact, that sometimes a landing plane would snag their laundry line. But they didn’t care, because they had perfected the secret to living happily ever after. Do you want to know what it is?
Yes, it’s that time of year again — glowing lights, fried foods and sweet little presents. To help us get in the mood here is the latest collection of Chanuka videos going viral this year. Who’s your favorite? Those sweet-toned YU boys in the Maccabeats, or the cool kids in the Fountainheads ? Or maybe you have another favorite? Check them out and let me know.
Once again Ju-Boy and I packed our bags, made sure children and dog were safe and snug, made sure there was good music in the car, and escaped. We do this often, at least twice or three times a year. With both of us in the Chapter Two of our lives this is something that is not a treat, it is a necessity. Ju-Boy explains this very well: we each have baggage, and we each have packages. The baggage is the flotsam of our previous life without each other that we are still dealing with, sometimes on a daily basis. The packages are the jetsam that we have each brought into the marriage, children, philosophies and political beliefs. As happy as we are with our lives, sometimes we need to escape…
The wonderful holiday of Shavuot is coming up, it starts tomorrow night, culminating with cheesecake overload on Wednesday night. And then you have just a mere 48 hours before you begin to stuff yourselves with the wonders of Shabbat. Ju-Boy and I have been planning our menu for a while now…
You’ve heard of the phrase “Two Jews, three opinions?” If there’s one thing that unites the Jewish people it’s dissention.
It’s Friday morning and I’m puttering around in the kitchen starting to cook for Shabbat. Ju-Boy is off talking to God, Chip is snoring away after a late night out. Didi would love to be snuggled deep in bed after a late night out, but she’s off early for her National Service gig. I’ve got the kitchen all to myself, Barry White is on the stereo (you all should know, Barry is excellent for cooking, while The Boss is the best music for cleaning), when I hear a noise on the stairs. Shy-Boy, despite the fact that he went to bed late last night after a marathon of X-Boxing, shuffles into the kitchen, helps himself to a bowl a cereal and utters the magic words, “Can I help?”
It’s Mother’s Day today, and I miss my mom. Just thought you should know…
Before I start my discussion of the P word, the good and the bad of it, I just wanted to mention that yesterday was one year since Miriyummy came into being, all because Ju-Boy got trapped in England due to a volcano. So if you love or hate my blog, you can all Blame It On The Volcano.
I grew up in an Eastern European household with the Yiddish flowing like Manischewitz wine, the wine flowing over our kiddush cups every Shabbat, and every Shabbat flowing with chicken soup with matzah balls and my mother’s gehakteh leber.
I loved my mother’s gehakteh leber (that’s chopped liver to those of you (most of you) who didn’t grow up speaking Yiddish). She made it in a large wooden bowl with a double-bladed chopper called a hakmesser. The sound of her chopping the liver and hard boiled eggs greeted me every Friday when I came home from school, along with the smell of onions slowly caramelizing in shmaltz. On Friday night we would start every meal with challah and gehakteh leber, topped with crunchy gribenes (chicken crackling). It was a delicious heart attack waiting to happen. My father actually had four of those heart attacks, eventually dying of complications due to quadruple bypass surgery, but I’m sure that if he could, he would tell you that it was worth it, just to have some of my mother’s wonderful chopped liver. It was, as he often said, geshmak!
Over the years I’ve tried to replicate my mother’s amazing recipe. I’ve come close, but it always eludes me. Perhaps nothings tastes as wonderful as a memory. Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm of the eaters, or rather, the lack of. Not a single member of my family’s joy of liver comes close to mine, or my father’s. A few friends have loved it, the X tolerated it and the kids won’t go near it. Ju-Boy can be counted among those who are not fans, but I’m not insulted, since he won’t eat liver or any kind of offal, in any form. It’s not like he’s cheating on me with someone else’s chopped liver, phew!
He does, however, like my vegetarian paté. It’s almost as labor-intensive as the original, almost, but not quite. With no liver to kasher and chop, the only real work is the caramelizing of the onions and the cleaning up of the food processor afterwards. No wooden bowl and hakmesser to give it that authentic Eastern European je ne sais quoi, or as they say in Yiddish, epes geshmak!
Miriyummy’s Vegetarian Paté
- 4 huge onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 100 grams (4 ounces) walnuts
- 2 cups canned peas (1 largish can, must be canned peas), drained
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- Chop the onions medium fine. Heat the oil in a large pan and slowly caramelize the onions. This can take up to an hour. Don’t try to rush it, this is what gives the paté its authentic flavor. The onions will cook down to next to nothing. When the onions are a gorgeous caramel brown take them off the heat and let cool.
- Place the walnuts in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel knife. Zhuzz until finely ground.
- Add the peas and zhuzz again.
- Add the hard boiled eggs and the onions (scraping every last drop of oil into the mix) and give it a good zhuzz until you get the paté consistency you’re looking for.
- Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Turn into a serving bowl or Tupperware and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
- Serve with challah, crackers or fancy shmacy little toast points.
- Can be frozen.
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.