Jewish Archive

Monday, May 4, 2009

cinnamon raisin bagels

cinnamon bagel, home on the range

There are a whole lot of foods that I’m not sure are even worth the trouble of making at home, though I suspect this list varies by what you have accessible in your neighborhood. I feel fairly certain I won’t be making any falafel sandwiches in our new kitchen, especially now that I’ve discovered our proximity to the $2.50 perfection at Mamouns. I’m not even sure I’ll ever make pirogi again, after finding my fluffy, light pirogi nirvana this weekend at the Ukranian National Home. And in general, I’ve never seen a whole lot of purpose in making bagels from scratch in New York City — save a one-time baking frenzy — and certainly not when we lived less than two blocks from our bagel ideal, Murrays. (I’m a little lost for a decent bagel in the East Village — anyone? I think we’ve been spoiled.)

making the spongerinsed raisinsmalt syrup16 bagels

But all bets are off when you’re at a cattle ranch 90 minutes from the nearest city in Northeastern Oklahoma, where I’m pretty sure your best bet to land a decent handmade, water-boiled bagel is to tackle them in your own kitchen. Plus, when you’re visiting someone who had just recently discovered her fervent passion for bagels with cream cheese and lox, it is your New Yorker duty to come armed with fresh, delicious cream cheese and lox from Russ & Daughters. And so we did. But then we demanded she make her own bagels.

bagels, proofing

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, March 28, 2009

bialys

bialys

Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.

It was reading The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton’s pursuit of the chewy, onion-topped kuchen from Bialystok, Poland to Paris, Argentina and Miami Beach, Florida, that was a turning point for me. Although though the book is true to the subject at hand — bialys — the subtext is really about the narratives from the scattered remnants of Bialystok — only a handful survived the pogroms and Holocaust — recalling what they can about the rolls they used to make and eat. I hadn’t realized exactly how scarce they were, and became a little obsessed.

pinching the rollsbialys, second risesauteeing onion-poppy toppingstretching the bialyspooning the onion toppingbialys, ready to bake

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, December 21, 2008

potato pancakes, even better

potato pancake, flipped

It wouldn’t be Hanukah if I didn’t refresh my favorite, dead-simple potato pancake recipe. But it wouldn’t make for a very interesting story if I told the same one every year; in fact, I think they get better with each try because I continue to tweak them ever so much.

this is what latke mise looks like

This year, after finally making peace with my cast frying pan (coincidentally, over an “apple latke”) I cooked them in there, and will use no other pan for them as long as I live. It is a browning genius, and even small amounts of oil resulted in no sticking whatsoever. I also realized that I found them a bit on the salty side — something I noted last year and entirely forgot in the 12 months since — I hope to remember that next year.

cheesecloth squeeze

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

my family’s noodle kugel

mom's noodle kugel

[Guest post by Deb’s mom!] Last year, I briefly told you the story of how my mother jokes that she married my father for his family’s noodle kugel recipe. But then, as if just to be cruel, I tried my own spin on it with cream cheese and dried cherries. Was it delicious? Oh, heck yeah. Are you long overdue to get a taste of the real deal? Most certainly so. Please welcome my mother herself here today in her first-ever guest post, finally sharing with you the noodle kugel recipe you are owed.

extra-wide egg noodles

Growing up in a German family, I had many noodle puddings. Shortly after becoming engaged to my now-husband, we were at a family buffet party, where everything was homemade and beautifully displayed. It was at their party that I first encountered the noodle pudding. I thought this was the best food I had ever tasted.

getting the batter fluffy

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Friday, September 26, 2008

best challah (egg bread)

best challah

I only know one Yiddish phrase (well, two, if you can count farshikkert, which is a pretty awesome way to say someone is three sheets to the wind), but conveniently, it is my favorite. A shonda for the goyim means, roughly, that someone of the Jewish faith is not only doing something shameful (shonda), but doing it in front of non-Jews, which of course is an entirely worse offense. Like, it would be bad enough to, say, eat ham and cheese on matzo on Passover (or, I suspect, ever and boy, do I have a great story about that but first let me see if I can get my mother to pay me not to share it) but it would be doubly more awful to do it in front of a person outside your faith. You would, in fact, bring shame upon your entire people, mostly because when given the choice between the most or least dramatic interpretation of an event, I think can safely say that my people will generally opt for the former.

round challah

Anyway, I love the phrase so much, I use it all of the time, including times when it’s probably totally inappropriate. For example, the other day someone suggested that I might consider adding a Jewish Recipe index to smittenkitchen.com’s new Topic Indexes. I began to look for Jewish or holiday-themed recipes in my archives and came to a terrible realization: The offerings were quite paltry. Not only is there no brisket in there, where are the kreplach (dumplings), the kugels and my mother’s amazing apple cake? How can I not have a single recipe for challah?

A shonda, indeed.

braided

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