Jewish Archive

Sunday, March 23, 2008

hamantaschen

hamantaschen

Sure, we’re a couple days late on these this year, but I couldn’t let Purim weekend (see how I added two days to the holiday there? Brilliant) pass without one more chapter in my annual attempt to make hamantaschen that suit my fancy. Was I more successful this year than last? Only slightly. But this has in no way made them less enjoyable.

mega-taschen
hamantaschen, unbaked

Living in New York City, I sometimes forget that the rest of the world isn’t aware of Jewish holidays and foods the way they are here, where babka and challah are bakery staples and admirable efforts at hamantaschen are available year round at diners and coffee shops. So for a quick review, hamantaschen are three-cornered cookies typically filled with jams or a poppy seed paste and eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. Their shape is modeled after the three-corner hat purported to be worn by the holiday’s villain, Haman. I always think of the holiday as kind of a Jewish Mardi Gras, replete with carnivals, costumes and a good amount of libations–a fun reprieve from the fall’s more somber High Holidays.

jam gems

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Monday, February 4, 2008

matzo ball soup

matzo ball soup

A confession: In spite of my current, ongoing, seeming-like-it-will-never-ever-end condition, I don’t like traditional chicken soup. Obviously, boasting such sacrilege, I am undeserving of your sympathy. Obviously, this is why, four days in, I am still on the sofa on my second box of tissues, chugging down my 20th Brita pitcher of water, my nose as red as a rail-thin starlet at 4 a.m., the bitterness of having a SuperBowl party of one only slightly mitigated by the fact that the Giants triumph–I do not embrace everyones’ grandmother’s sworn-by home remedy.

matzo ball soup

Honestly, it’s not all chicken soup that I do not like; it’s just the stuff I can normally get. Those short noodles? I can never get them on my spoon! Those bits of chicken? Always overcooked. Those carrot specks? They’re just mush. I’ve tried X Deli’s and Y Market’s and Z Restaurant’s and they always disappoint, namely because these three ingredients were never meant to be cooked for the same amount of time, nor kept warm for hours on end, which is why I was given no choice this weekend but to take the matter into my own hand and make my favorite variety of chicken soup: matzo ball soup.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

latke redux

latkes

When I brought you rugelach pinwheels last week, I told the story of watching women make this on the Martha Stewart Show and grumbling to myself about why they felt the need to change a cookie that was just perfect from the outset. Why fix what wasn’t broken?

Of course, in the end, the recipe yields the most delicious rugelach in the whole world–even if not better than the original, well-deserving of a heroic place aside them in your repertoire. But, I still stick to my original schtick, which is that if you have a recipe that works splendidly each time, there is no reason to change it.

Why repeat this today? Because I did it–yes, again. Along with a few more recipes from last Saturday’s Hanukah luncheon I hope to work my way through this week, I of course made a batch of latkes. Yet for some harebrained reason I chose to use a new recipe, and not one of the two I made last year that were flawless in every way. They ended up undercooked, then overcooked in the when I decided to finish them in the oven and though not a single person complained, I seriously need to work on practicing what I preach.

Maybe next year I’ll learn.

Happy Hanukah to those who celebrate it! May you eat many delicious latkes, even if you do not.

first night

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

rugelach pinwheels

rugelach pinwheels

Picture this: You’re toweling off after your morning shower, your oatmeal in the microwave, looking into the mirror and thinking as per usual, “my god, am I pale. When is vacation again?” when you hear this noise from the living room. As you get closer, so does the noise, a fluttering, scratching and absolutely frantic in every little way sound. Is it (groan, another) mouse? Why does it sound like a bird? How could there be a bird in the wall? What if it’s stuck? It really sounds spazzed out in there. Calm down, Deb. Surely it’s nothing. It’s probably just a bird on the outside of your thin circa-1870 tenement walls. Sit down, eat your oatmeal, everything is going to be… #$%!!!! BIRD! BIRD! BIRD! BIRD! A BIRD FLEW OUT OF THE RADIATOR. Omg, it is THROWING itself against the window. Halp! HALP!

filling rugelach

You do the logical thing, and call your husband, who is not yet at work, how dare he leave you at home with a WILD ANIMAL banging into the walls. You open the other window, wide, afraid to go near the one that the bird is throwing itself against because, duh, you’ve seen the movie. But it won’t pay any attention to that window, it wants to go out this window and you think, “wow, you really aren’t that bright, are you?” but no, you do not utter the word “birdbrain.” You know who’s in charge here. You finally get your husband on the phone; he’s laughing, you mentally file divorce papers.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

peter reinhart’s bagels

peter reinhart's bagels

Although I’ve never come up short in the crazy category, there are some gastronomical indulgences that even I refuse to make at home. You see, a lot of what drags me into the kitchen is a complaint: I find something dissatisfying in its availability, quality or it brings me ennui. But items on my list of cooking refusals fall into none of these categories, and that’s why I’ll gladly leave the sausage, sushi and bagel making to others in this great city.

everything bagelbagels

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