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?”
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.
Okay, the house is clean, you are exhausted, the table is set, the guests are hungry, what are you going to serve?
Every now and again you run across a blog or blog post and say, “I wish I’d done that!” I muttered those words to myself just the other day when I saw that Pragmatic Attic ran her collection of (in her own words) Lots of Jewish/Kosher Food Blogs.
Yours truly was in there, as well as a bunch of blogs I read, but there are also a bunch of blogs I never saw before, and I had a fun afternoon
at work checking them out. And then I went strolling through the whole website and came across the Recipe Index. I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time here, first reading, then cooking, then dieting…
I hope Pragmatic Attic keeps up her list. If you know of any sites that don’t appear, why don’t you drop her a line?
Famous Israeli saying:
אמא יש רק אחת
You only have one mother
True, or false?
Most people go through life with only one mother. I feel sorry for them, in a way. It’s wonderful to have a loving mother who nurtures you, loves you, spoils you… But what’s even better is two women who would do this for you.
I’m fortunate to have been blessed with two mothers. Okay, we’re not even going to go into the whole adoption issue, that’s doesn’t even enter into the equation here. First, there’s my mom. She may not have carried me under her heart for nine months, but she brought me home from the hospital, and that’s my mom.
When I was seven we spent a considerable time in Norway, and my Aunt Zipora, my father’s baby sister, came up from Israel to visit us. My father had told me stories about all his brothers and sisters back in Hungary, and I was thrilled to meet the aunt he spoke of so fondly. She brought me a book in Hebrew and we spent a lot of time reading the stories together.
When I was 16 we came out to Israel for the summer, for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah. I was a rebellious teen, and you could have imagine just how embarrassed I was by my mom. She kept trying to get me to pose for pictures, she kept trying to buy me dorky clothes, she kept trying to keep me safe. How embarrassing! My Aunt Zipora, on the other hand, convinced my mom to let me go off to the beach by myself. She bought me the sandals that were the “in thing” back in 1979 Tel Aviv, and she taught me curse words in Hungarian!
Throughout the years, while I was in Israel as a kibbutz volunteer, a university student, a new immigrant, a new mom, a new divorcee, my Aunt Zipora was always there to support me in any decision. She became like a second mother to me. Since my girls didn’t have grandmothers who lived nearby — my mother lived in New York, their other grandmother in London — Zipora became a grandmother to them. When my father died in 2002 I went to the States for the funeral, and after my mother and I comforted each other I flew back to Israel and my aunt and I had another good cry together. When my mother died in 2009 my aunt was there to tell me stories of my parents’ early life together, pre-Miriyummy.
In 2005 I married for the second time. My mother couldn’t come out for the wedding, so I had the oddest pleasure in being walked down the aisle to the chuppah by my oldest daughter Sassy and my Aunt Zipora.
I grew up eating Hungarian food, but my Lithuanian mother used to drive me insane giving me recipes. You put in a bit of this, a bit of that. There were no measurements in my mother’s cooking style. With the help of my Aunt Zipora, who actually writes things down, I was able to approximate one of my favorite dishes:
This dish went by the name of káposztás tészta. I never managed to pronounce the second word correctly, and it all got shortened to Capostash when I put it into our Shabbat rotation. No one else seems to want to call it that, so Hungarian Noodles it is. Purists will rise up in outrage when they read what I’ve done to the recipe, but this is my blog, and my bastardized recipe, and I’m serving it at my table, so this is my Capostash!
Leave out the shmaltz and the kabanas to make this dish vegetarian/vegan.
- 500 grams bow-tie noodles, cooked until al dente
- 2 huge onions, coarsly shredded
- a few glugs of olive oil, or a chlop of shmaltz
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, coarsely shredded
- salt, pepper and paprika to taste
- 2 heaping tablespoons poppy seeds
- Optional: 3 kabanas, preferably by Tirat Zvi, cut up (thin, dried sausage)
- Caramelize the onions in the olive oil or shmaltz until darkly golden and soft.
- Add the cabbage and toss together with the onions until softened.
- Add the noodles and mix. You may need to add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of water to get it mixable. Add the salt, pepper and paprika and taste. When you have it juuuuuust right, add the poppy seeds and mix together. (Add the kabanas.) Serve hot.
- If you add the cut up kabanas it takes this dish to a whole new level. It’s not authentically Hungarian, but it’s authentically delicious!
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.