Sheila’s Brisket

photo 2I just finished reading Russ & Daughters, a memoir written by Mark Russ Federman, now retired owner of my favorite appetizing store in NYC.  It made me think about Pesach which we spent with our children and family on the East Coast.  This year felt different, with everyone helping, all in their own way of course, there was a rhythm and ease that I had not felt before.  Some shopped, some cooked, some did prep work, some set, some supervised, and some even cleaned.  In his book Mark Federman  talked about family and how important it is to rely on them when you need them to step up, and how that not only requires the patience to teach, but the ability to let go.  Getting ready for Pesach is like running a small family business and I can only say that by the time I left, I felt that while they already knew exactly how to run a Seder, this time they learned what it takes to prepare for one.

My own memories of Pesach include scenes of my mother and Tanta Marisha, cooking together in my aunt’s kitchen. I loved watching them, it made it so much nicer that they had each had a kitchen companion, not to mention  just having another person to ask if the soup is too salty or help decide if you really need another kugel.

Over the course of two days leading up to Yontif, we prepared for 28 guests.  We had more kitchen companions than I can mention, but each one made a significant contribution, and although they were not technically all family members, they acted and felt like family.  I was thrilled to be a part of it, but the best part is knowing how well-prepared the next generation is to tell the story, carry on the traditions, and even make the brisket.  Letting go?  I guess next year Kitniyot may appear on the menu.  I look forward to finding out.

Sheila’s Brisket

Note: I changed this recipe slightly by adding a rub that I massaged into the brisket the day before cooking it, two days before the Seder.

1- 10 pound brisket, both first and second cut.

Rub

10 cloves garlic

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 Tb paprika

2 Tb olive oil

Mix ingredients and “massage” into brisket.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5 large brown onions, thinly sliced.

2 cups good quality Cabernet

2 cups Ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place brisket in a large roasting pan and cover with sliced onions. Combine wine with ketchup and pour on top. Cover and bake at 325 till tender. About 6 hours.  Slice cold and reheat.  Served 20 when cut with an electric knife!

Enjoy,

Irene

 

Grilled Short Ribs

We shared a room until the day she moved away from home.  Meticulous by nature, my sister used to draw an imaginary line across our bedroom, a line that I was not allowed to cross.  Eight years older than I, Anita was more than just my big sister.  She was my role model.  Her shoes always matched her purses, her hair was what the 60s demanded of curly-haired girls, ironed, straightened and made to conform to the necessary flip that was all the rage.  She took me to museums, bought me dolls and books, introduced me to new foods and exposed me to the exotic East Village, home of the Beatniks.  This past weekend my sister and I once again shared a bedroom, as I kept her company while she’s recovering from a broken leg.  We watched movies, reminisced, wrote down our family history, drank wine, and laughed.  The best part was getting to be the “Big Sister” to my big sister, a role that I must admit I relish.  The one thing I couldn’t do for her was cook, and so now that I am back home, I thought about what I would have made for her had I been able to.  My mother always fed us beef when we needed to gain strength, firmly believing that red meat had restorative properties.  A plate of ribs for my sister, that would be perfect.  Speedy recovery shvester!

Grilled Short Ribs
3 to 4 lbs of bone-in Short Ribs
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Paprika
6 Tb red wine vinegar
Combine spices and rub into short ribs.  Place ribs, flat side down, in glass baking dish in one snug layer, cover with foil  and allow to marinate in fridge overnight or for at least several hours.  When ready to prepare, sprinkle ribs with red wine vinegar, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.
Rib Glaze (adapted from Spirit of Tennessee)
1 cup Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
Make glaze and brush on ribs while grilling, basting each time you turn the ribs.  Grill on lowest heat for about an hour or till ribs are tender.
Enjoy,
Irene

Sheila’s Perfect Beef Ribs

In a world where things are not very predictable, it is nice to know that there are some things you can always count on.  Isn’t that what comfort food is all about?  We crave what is familiar to us, a taste of something that reminds us of a particular time or place.  How pleasurable is that moment of recognition when we walk into a kitchen and instantly know which dish is simmering on the stove.  When I was growing up, I knew that if we visited Tante Marisha there would be the smell of wonderful nut cakes baking in the oven, Fanny could be counted on for the best Tzimmis, the “Mima” always made white bean soup and Micheline, well there are too many things to mention but her Creme Caramel was always my favorite.  Those associations may not be as long-lasting as an old photo but they can be just as wonderful.

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.

Happy New Year to all of you.  I hope that  2012 is filled with good health, good friends and good food. 
Sheila’s Beef Ribs
10 Beef Ribs

1 1/2 jars of  Char.B.Que Sauce  (20 oz. size)
Place ribs in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring water to a boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook ribs for about 1 1/2 hours.  In a roasting pan, cover bottom of pan with half the amount of Char. B. Que Sauce.  Layer ribs on the sauce, side up, and cover with remaining sauce.  Cover pan with silver foil and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours.  Serves 5
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

Stuffed Cabbage

Gefilte Kraut, Gelupsie, Holishskes, Stuffed Cabbage. This is not fast food, in fact I think making stuffed cabbage requires a kind of Zen approach to cooking.  I started making the rolls at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning.  The cabbage has to be cooked and cooled and the meat mixture prepared.  I carefully peeled the cabbage leaves and placed them on dish towels that covered the breakfast room table to be sure that I had enough filling for each leaf. The stuffed cabbage rolls simmered on the stove top for an hour and then in the oven for several more hours until they were golden and tender.  My mother always served them over mashed potatoes with the cabbage perched on top and some of the juices poured over the dish.  For me the appeal of this dish is that you cannot rush the preparation, there are no shortcuts.  So when you want to make something warm and filling and are in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen, try making some gelupsie for your family.

Stuffed Cabbage

1 head cabbage, cored

Filling

1 lb. ground turkey OR 1 lb. ground beef

1 large brown onion, diced

2 eggs

2 Tbs ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup cooked quinoa (this is instead of rice and I found that the meat mixture was more tender)

Sauce

1 large brown onion, diced

2 Tbs oil

leftover parts of cabbage

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup ketchup

2 cups water

2 large carrots, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Boil cored cabbage in large pot till  leaves are very tender.  Allow to cool and gently separate leaves and lay on work surface. Prepare meat mixture and place a heaping tablespoon of meat in center of each leaf.  Fold by pulling bottom of leaf up over meat, then fold sides in and roll up.  Repeat with all the leaves.

Place diced onion and any bits of unused cabbage in large pot.  Place stuffed cabbage rolls, seam down, close together in pot. Add sauce, sliced carrots, cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for one hour.  Then place in 300 degree oven for an additional 1 1/2 hours, covered.  Uncover and bake an 30 extra minutes to brown. Serves 4-6

Enjoy,

Irene