I am sure that at some point my children will come to crave comfort foods and perhaps they will reminisce about certain dishes that they had at the homes of family members and friends. My mother’s Bubelach, Fredda’s Tortilla Soup, Judy’s Salmon, Elin’s Roast Chicken, Susan’s Taquitos, Sheila’s Ribs, Rena’s Cheesecake and Susan T’s raspberry squares, along with many other dishes lovingly prepared over the years by many others. Of course, comfort food is different for each of us. For me, it is meat and potatoes, and any variation on the theme will do, but Sheila’s ribs hit the spot, every single time. The only improvement would be to serve them over a bed of creamy white, steaming mashed potatoes.
Archive for December, 2011
Last week my son and daughter-in-law traveled to Toronto to visit my in-laws, Bubbie and Zaidie. During their visit they went to see an exhibit on the great Cantors of Toronto. One of the Cantors featured was my husband’s grandfather Harry Saiger. I can only imagine how touched my father-in-law was knowing that his grandson and wife were going to view the collection but unfortunately it was no longer on display. The woman in the synagogue was kind enough to give them the photo and biography that had been part of the exhibit and so we too were able to see it.
The elegant photo of Harry Saiger shows him dressed in the dramatic black Cantor’s hat and Tallis. I stared at it looking for a trace of his features in my children. I thought about his journey to Canada as a young man, not knowing what his future held. Harry settled in Toronto, met and married Manya, had five children, and became an accomplished carpenter as well as a Cantor. I don’t know much else about them (coincidently they shared the same names as my parents, Manya and Harry) but I can imagine that as a cantor he would have been thrilled to know that three generations later his great-grandson became a Rabbi.
I look for those connections because it ties us to our past and keeps our family history alive. I feel the same way about food. Preserving the recipes that were handed down from generation to generation and, yes, though we may tempted to update them to our more modern tastes, there is something to be said for preserving the originals, like the photos displayed in the exhibit.
I don’t know what my husband was served on those Shabbat afternoons when he would go visit his Zaidie and Bubie Manya after shul but I imagine that lunch may have included something like Kasha because he seems to love it so much.
Kasha and Mushrooms
1 cup whole Kasha (Buckwheat Groats)
2 cups chicken stock
2 large onions
1/2 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
6 oz. bowtie noodles (optional)
2 Tb canola oil
Heat oil in deep sided frying pan and sauté onions till caramelized. Be patient because this imparts a lot of the flavor to the dish and can take 20-30 minutes before the onions are the right color. Add sliced mushrooms to onions and sauté for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove mixture to a bowl. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add Kasha, stirring till grain is completely coated. Wipe the pan clean and then add egg-coated Kasha. Saute for several minutes over low flame till grains separate. Add hot chicken stock, reduce flame to simmer, cover pan and cook till Kasha is tender, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook or Kasha will turn into mush. Add onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and serve. If you want Kasha Varnishkes, then add cooked bowtie noodles to dish. Serves 4
Sometimes it really is the little things in life that makes you happy. Today I had a perfect afternoon. I came home from work early, planning to make my latkes so I could freeze them, something I don’t normally do but this year I needed to make lots of them. Unexpectedly it began to rain which only added to the coziness of the kitchen. I turned on my favorite radio station which plays Christmas songs this time of year, (I happen to love Christmas music) and peeled ten pounds of potatoes. I know it sounds crazy but to actually have the luxury of spending a weekday afternoon in the kitchen felt decadent. It took about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish but during that time two friends came to visit, one carrying lattes for each of us. Rain, that distinctive smell of latkes frying, music, friends, and good coffee. It doesn’t get better than that. Happy Holidays.
This recipe made exactly 150 latkes. If you want a smaller version, here is the recipe I normally use for latkes.
Potato Latkes for a crowd
10 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths.
4 large onions, cut in chunks
4 1/2 cups matzoh meal
3 Tbs salt
Canola Oil ( Lots )
Pour oil into three large frying pans until oil comes halfway up the sides of the pan. In the meantime, in batches, fill the bowl of a food processor with potatoes and a handful of onions, and process till mixture is fine. Pour into large mixing bowl and add 3 beaten eggs, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 3/4 cups matzoh meal. Mix well. When oil is hot, place large spoonfuls of mixture in pan but do not overcrowd. Fry till golden on one side and flip over. Serves 35-40 people.
My youngest son is moving to New York City today so at 6 a.m. this morning I got up and prepared a special breakfast to send him off. The winds have been howling for the past two days here in Los Angeles, almost as if they too are sad to see him go. When he wakes up he will find a plate of sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions, all scrambled together with eggs, served with a side of veggie sausages and fresh guacamole. Of course I wanted to make something special to warm his insides before he deals with the realities of life in New York City and so I prepared a pot of hot chocolate, added some cinnamon, a little vanilla, and a touch of chili powder. Bittersweet. Bon Voyage and B’hatzlachah!
Mexican Hot Chocolate
4 Cups milk
1/2 Cup U-Bet Chocolate Syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
Simmer all the ingredients together and adjust sweetness to your taste. I would top it with fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serves two because it is always nicer to share a cup of cocoa with someone else.