Anna’s Goulash

I wish I could capture the smell of the goulash simmering in my kitchen.  All I can say is that I wanted you to have this recipe while you still had the chance to make it.  It smells that good!  Bay leaves, a touch of sweetness from the sugar, the tartness of tomato paste, all combined with good beef chuck, cooking for hours.

The only tricky part was the thickening, so after putting a call in to Anna’s cell, she appeared at the door to rescue me.  She mixed the flour and water and just added 1 tbsp of the mixture to the pot and it thickened perfectly.  No lumps in sight.

Shana Tovah!

Anna’s Goulash

3 pounds chuck, cut into stew size pieces

salt and pepper to tastet

2  tbsp paprika

1 large onion, diced

2  6 oz. cans of tomato paste

1/2 cup sugar

3 Bay Leaves

16 peppercorns

2 tbsp flour mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

Oil as needed

Season beef with salt, pepper and paprika.  In a large pot, sauté chuck in 2 -3 Tbsp oil till browned.  Do in batches if necessary.  Meanwhile take a frying pan and sauté chopped onion in about 3 Tbsp oil till golden brown.  Add onions to browned beef.  Empty both cans of tomato paste in to the frying pan, mix in sugar, and stir for about five minutes.  Add to beef pot.  Cover beef with water by about 1/2 inch.  Add bay leaves and peppercorns, gently stir and cover pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for about 3 hours.  About 30 minutes before beef is ready, in a small bowl, stir flour and water till smooth and well mixed.  Take a tablespoon of mixture and add to stew.  Stir in and allow to thicken.  Use more if needed, depending on how thick you like your stew.  I only used 1 tablespoon.  Serve over noodles or Koptkas.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

 

Beef Stew

You can usually differentiate between a weeknight meal and Shabbat dinner by what’s cooking in the kitchen.  On a Friday afternoon there is the hint of yeast from freshly baked challot, mingled with the spicy smells of some kind of side dish (often made with large amounts of garlic), and the scent of slow roasting beef or chicken.  Sometimes there is the subtle but definitive aroma of chicken soup simmering on the stove.  Somehow all of this sets the mood for Shabbat, like a forshpeis (appetizer) for the senses.  For me Shabbat dinner means being with family or friends, and good food and wine always enhance the experience.

We recently spent Shabbat at the beach house of our friends Sheila and Alan.  Arriving on Friday afternoon,  the first thing you noticed was the wonderful smells coming from the direction of the kitchen.  Something, yet unknown to me, was cooking but you could identify the red wine, garlic and beef.  It was Beef Stew, a version of Boeuf Bourguignon, a daunting dish to prepare, mainly because of its long association with Julia Child, and then more recently with the movie, Julie and Julia.  It is a dish I have never attempted to make in this traditional French method, mainly out of fear that it could never meet my own expectations or anybody else’s.
And here is the beauty of preparing Shabbat dinner for friends.  It affords you the opportunity to stretch yourself in the kitchen.  If you are going to spend hours cooking, you want the end result to be equal to the effort.  This dish met our expectations and more, especially in light of the fact that Sheila doesn’t eat beef, she couldn’t correct the seasoning or enjoy the dish herself.  Her reward was simply seeing the smile on the faces of her guests.  Shabbat Shalom.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Sheila adapted a recipe by Ina Garten.  Her suggestion was to use a  REALLY, REALLY good bottle of  Cabernet.

2 1/2 pounds chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 bottle Cabernet

3 whole garlic cloves, smashed

3 bay leaves

2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks on the diagonal

1/2 pound white mushrooms, thickly sliced

1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered

1 tablespoon minced garlic  (3 cloves)

2 cups chicken  broth

1 large piece of fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 10-oz package frozen peas

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper.   Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, discarding the bay leaves and the garlic, but saving the marinade.  In batches, lightly dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the beef (only half the beef at a time so it browns well) over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly.  Remove beef and set aside in a bowl,  and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding more olive oil as necessary.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the Dutch Oven and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.  Remove and set aside.  Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to de-glaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Remove liquid.  Add the beef back to the pot and cover with vegetables.  Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and bring Dutch Oven to a simmer over medium heat.  Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking.  If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas and season to taste.

Note: A perfect dish for a Rosh Hashana meal.

Enjoy,

Irene

Passover Pogos

It has been a wonderful Passover so far.  In addition to having all of my children home, on Monday we received word of the birth of two baby boys.  My brother-in-law Jeff became a grandfather for the first time, and some very close friends of my older son (soon to be his family) had their first child.  When your children’s friends begin having children of their own, there is a renewed sense of hope and optimism.  Tonight another one of my son’s oldest friends came to visit us with his 4 year old daughter Avital.  Having this little girl run around the house, much like her father and David use to do, brought back all sorts of memories.  Aaron told Avital that when he was a little boy he often ate in our house and this evening we had the pleasure of having his daughter join us at our dining room table for the very first time.  In honor of our young guest, we decided to make a dish that my children loved when they were her age.  A Passover version of corn dogs that brings out the child in everyone.

Mazel Tov to the new parents, grandparents, and extended family members.

Passover Pogos

1/2 cup oil

1 cup water

2 cups cake meal

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs sugar

4 eggs

8 hot dogs, frozen

Combine oil and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Cook for about 5 minutes, till mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a food processor and add eggs one at a time, and process for about 30 seconds.  OIL HANDS and mold mixture around frozen hot dogs.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about one hour.  Flip hot dogs half way through to brown both sides.

Serves 8

Enjoy,

Irene

French Roast

Growing up in the sixties, food was not analyzed in the same way as it is today.  As long as the meals were fresh and varied, it was considered healthy.  My mother didn’t serve soup or vegetables from a can, and the only food that ever came from a freezer was the result of my mother’s indulgence in response to accusations that she was unfairly depriving me of  T.V. dinners.  Supper always included cooked vegetables, potatoes or rice, some kind of protein, and a salad.  My mother insisted that we needed two things in our diet, milk and meat, not together of course.

I am on information overload and I am not sure how to reverse the trend.  I remember my friend Susan, a native Californian, turning up her nose when being served “fleish” and other heavy European dishes.  She referred to kugels as “brown food”, introduced our family to sprouts, and was my first friend who analyzed what she served in terms of nutritional value.  At the time we just chalked it up to the fact that she was born in L.A.

Today, every meal is fraught with questions and weighty considerations.  Are the carbohydrates whole grain, the vegetables organic, how many carbon footprints are used to raise cattle, is the chicken free-range, etc. .  How can one possibly enjoy a meal that has been dissected to death.  One friend is always assuring us that the recipe is low-calorie, another no longer serves beef, and this morning I was instructed to “go light” on the cheese as I was preparing a cheese omelette.  What is the point of eating a cheese omelette with barely any cheese?

What I miss is the sense of freedom that went hand in hand with being less informed.  I remember the days when we sat down to dinner, digging into a delicious, perfectly done rib steak, served with mashed potatoes and a salad (made with iceberg lettuce), all enjoyed with abandon and guilt-free.  I am not suggesting that we were healthier, or better off as a society,  it’s  just that sometimes all I want is my meat and potatoes, without a side of commentary.

I made this French Roast last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

French Roast

3-4 lb. French Roast

3  Tbs of a Brisket rub of your choice ( I used one I bought in Texas)

Flour

5 Tbs Olive Oil

1 large Onion

1 Parsnip

1 Sprig Thyme

1 Bay Leaf

3/4 cup Dry Red Wine

1 Tbs Tomato Paste

Rub French Roast with spice rub, cover with saran, and refrigerate over night.  The next day coat the roast with a small amount of flour.  Pour olive oil into cast iron pan and heat till VERY HOT.  Sear roast on every side till brown.

Place red wine, bay leaf,  thickly sliced onion,  parsnip cut into chunks, Thyme and tomato paste in roasting pan and mix well.  Add French Roast and place, uncovered, in 325 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove and thinly slice meat. Return to roasting pan, cover and cook an additional 2 hours or until meat is very tender.  Add more wine, or water if necessary.

Enjoy,

Irene

London Broil

I did not grow up in a home where there was a weekday breakfast ritual.  In fact during the cold winter months my mother would crawl into my warm bed and gently wake me.  While I dressed, my mother stayed in bed and watched, not bothering to get up and prepare breakfast for me and my sister.  No pot of warm oatmeal was left on the stove top nor was there a saucepan of hot chocolate simmering away.  I would get ready and go off to school, no fanfare and no breakfast.  My mother, who spent her life in her kitchen, thumbed her nose at breakfast.

When I was a little older, and clearly watching television, Tony the Tiger entered my life.  Breakfast was contained in the large rectangular box that held Frosted Flakes.  Cereal and milk seemed to be the perfect combination (although the thin sugar-coated flakes quickly became soggy if you weren’t a fast eater).  A breakfast that was easy and effortless, all you needed was a spoon and a bowl.  How American!

Our children were also raised eating cold cereal (the unsweetened variety) during the week, but Sundays were special.  It was Norm’s turn to make breakfast and he seemed to enjoy the role of being the short order cook.  You could choose to have eggs, hash browns, pancakes, or French toast made with leftover challah.  Eventually our tastes changed and we preferred breakfasts that were less sweet and more savory.  Tortillas, beans, guacamole, eggs are now common breakfast ingredients in our home.  If  we happen to have any leftover steak, then that too is heated and served.

My mother cooked for us every night, made our lunches, and prepared our snacks, but I must say that this simple morning ritual of preparing breakfast for your child, even an adult child, is an experience that she missed.   The author Maya Angelou, when recently interviewed on NPR, said “I’m concerned that Americans are losing that place of meeting.”  “There are very few times we can be more intimate as to share food together.”   In my humble opinion, she is right.  Try it.

London Broil

2 lbs. London Broil

1/3 cup ketchup

1/3 cup red wine

1/3 cup soy sauce

Marinate meat for several hours and then grill for about 5 minutes per side.

NOTE: Take any leftover steak and thinly slice. Add to cast iron pan along with eggs. Top with salsa, and guacamole and some warm tortillas.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

Tongue

When life feels stressful we often think about simpler times.  I think about growing up in the 1950s and although, admittedly, I was very young, my impression was that life was uncomplicated, relaxed, and good.  I am sure that my parents had worries and struggles but they and my older sister protected and sheltered me, and I am grateful to be left with memories that are positive and rose-colored.  I had the freedom and luxury  to be a kid.  My friends and I ran around the Grand Concourse after school and nobody seemed to worry about where we were or who we were with.  Both adults and children had a sense of security and a basic belief that all was well with our world.

Even food was less complicated.  Daily, my mother would go to the market, pulling her shopping cart behind her, and return home with the ingredients she needed for that night’s dinner.  Every afternoon she would prepare either one entrée or two, depending on what she was serving.  As the “baby” and a fussy eater, there were certain things I would not eat, so my mother would make a separate entrée for me. For example, my family loved organ meats. I don’t  know if that was a function of economy, or of having lived in Paris for five years, but  my mother would often prepare brains, liver, sweet breads, pancreas and tongue. Brains were mushy, a consistency that I still dislike, liver was liver, pancreas had the texture of a sponge, but tongue… that was delicious. I loved everything about its’ delicate flavor and soft creamy texture.  I remember watching the tongue come out of the pot, this enormous version of the one in my mouth.  How could I not be impressed!   Tongue makes a statement.  My job was to peel the tough outer layer off the tongue. I  still love doing that!!

Tongue is readily available and you can buy veal or beef tongue. It is simple to prepare and great on a thin slice of rye bread with mustard.

Here is to simple times!


Tongue

3 -4 lb. Tongue

2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns

2 Tbsp. coarse salt

Place tongue in pot with cold water to cover.  Bring water to a boil and cook for thirty minutes. Discard water and start again. Add fresh water to cover tongue and add bay leaves, salt and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook till tongue is tender. About 2 hours. Test tongue with a fork for tenderness.

Remove tongue from pot and when it is cool enough to handle, peel tough outer skin. Cool and refrigerate.

Enjoy,

Irene

Tzimmis

Transitions are hard. Be it a new site for my Blog, or trying to get ready for Passover. My younger son has been a tremendous help and I so appreciate all of the work, effort, and hours that he has devoted to this. Thanks Mich!

It is Sunday morning and we are nine days away from the first Seder. I must say that motivation has been in short supply but yesterday my friend Fredda assured me that it will kick in. One can only hope. I am looking at cookbooks and food blogs for inspiration. I am recalling menus of past seders, trying to think of the dishes that were most successful. Right now what I have in mind is fairly traditional. Marinated eggplant, chicken soup and matzoh balls, mushroom kugel, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, tzimmis, salad, roasted artichokes and fresh asparagus. My husband likes to have lots of greens on the table, a reminder that this festival is Spring based. Desserts will include brownie meringues, chocolate chip Mandelbrot (Tali’s favorite), and a platter of fresh fruit.

Maybe during these difficult and stressful times, traditional foods are appropriate. They are connected to the past, to memories of others, to distant lands and stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Much like the story that we will retell at the Seder.

Tzimmis

3 lbs. short ribs

20 pitted prunes

3 carrots

4 sweet potatoes

2 tart apples

1/2 cup honey

1 large onion

salt and pepper to taste

3/4/ cup orange juice

Cut carrots and sweet potatoes in large chunks and place in large mixing bowl.  Add diced onions and apples along with remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for two hours. Liquid should evaporate but dish should be moist.

Enjoy,

Irene

Calves’ Foot Jelly

This is for Charlie who requested a recipe for Calves’ Foot Jelly.  He is my son’s classmate and though we haven’t met, you have to admire someone who wants to make Ptcha.

Ptcha (Calves’ Foot Jelly)
2 calves’ feet
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Soak calves’ feet in cold water for about an hour and discard water.  Then place feet in pot, cover with cold water and bring to boil. Skim the surface.  Add a bay leaf and cook for several hours (2-3) until all meat, fat and gristle falls off the bone.  You may have to skim the top several times,

While feet are cooking, mince all the garlic and place in the bottom of 9 x 13 pan along with salt and pepper.

Remove meat (and all other bits) from pot, finely chop by hand (my Mom used a hackmesser) and place in pan.  Discard bay leaf and slowly add hot broth to meat mixture.  Broth should be very flavorful.  Add more garlic, salt and pepper as needed. Let dish cool on counter, and then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut into squares and serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy,
Irene

Cholent

Travelling to New York City in February may not be ideal but there is this internal “tug” that draws us to visit “the children” no matter where they are.  Of course, my children are no longer children, but adults.  Yet, they still have birthdays and that is as good a reason as any to visit.  Two of my children now live in NYC, the city of my birth.  My youngest is in Israel and though I have not yet visited him, I spend many hours contemplating that trip.  So, what do you do when you go see your children in the dead of winter and know that your visit will span Shabbat?  You plan to make cholent.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to cholent.  In other words my oven has never seen a veggie cholent, chicken cholent, tofu cholent or any of the other variations that are currently in vogue.  As a daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants I remember the stories that my mother told me of what Shabbat was like in Mogielnica, a small town outside of Warsaw.  Her aunt owned the local bakery and apparently each household would bring their cholent to the bakery before Shabbat and place their pots in the commercial oven from which they were retrieved the next day for lunch.  I have often wondered how people recognized which cholent pot belonged to their family.  So, I am off to NYC and in my “carry on” luggage there will be 5 Lbs. of frozen short ribs for the cholent, from Doheny Kosher,  3 packages of Jeff’s Sausages and two frozen layers of carrot cake, ready to assemble for my son’s birthday. Here is the basic recipe for my mother’s cholent.

Manya’s Cholent
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
I large onion, left whole
1 1/2 cups small white beans
1/2 cup pearl barley
4-5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
4 or 5 strips of short ribs, cut up
salt and pepper to taste

Place onion, beans, barley and potatoes in the bottom of a heavy pot.  Add short ribs and enough water JUST to cover.  Season with salt and pepper. Bring cholent to a boil, cover with lid and then place in a 250 degree oven overnight.  I normally cook this for 12-14 hours.  DO NOT STIR.

Enjoy,
Irene