Marinated Eggplant

Many years ago I was a volunteer on Kibbutz Usha in Northern Israel.  I asked to be assigned to the dairy and was given the morning shift, working side by side with an Arab named Hasan, a kind and willing teacher.  It was quite an experience for a girl from New York.  For me, the year I spent on Usha was filled with new experiences, but milking 300 cows a day was one of the highlights.  Another was that Norm and I got engaged that year!  The kibbutznikim were warm and friendly and we still have lifelong friends that we met that year.  One couple in particular, Amitai and Tovchik, became like family to us. Tovchik would marinade eggplants and keep them in a jar in her fridge, ready to serve if you ever stopped by for the typical Israeli 4 pm  meal.  It was a delicious snack, (although definitely not low-cal.) Sadly Tovchik passed away several years ago but it has become my tradition to make her eggplant dish every Passover.  It makes me think of Tovchik and my year at Usha with love and a smile.

Tovchik’s Eggplant
2 eggplants
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
red wine vinegar
vegetable oil

Lay sliced eggplants on a tray in a single layer and salt liberally.  Let them sit for half an hour and then pat off excess  moisture and salt with a paper towel.  Make sure both sides are dry.
Fill a frying pan with about 2″ of oil.  When oil is very hot, fry eggplant till brown, several minutes on each side.
Take a deep dish and cover with a layer of eggplant.  Then slice 2-3 cloves fresh garlic and toss slices over eggplants.  Lightly drizzle with red wine vinegar.  Add another layer of eggplant, more garlic and more vinegar and keep repeating till all eggplant is used.
Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 24 hours.  Serve at room temperature

Enjoy,
Irene

Imberlach

This is a Saiger family recipe for a Passover confection called Imberlach.  The recipe was handed down to my mother-in-law from her mother-in-law, Manya Saiger, my children’s great-grandmother.  My mother-in-law once described Imberlach for a Passover cookbook “watch your cavities or fillings, the imberlach are jawbreakers, but oh so good.”

Imberlach
1 1/2 lbs. honey
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 lb. matzoh farfel
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
1 cup chopped walnuts

Bring honey and sugar to a boil, lower heat and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly.  Add farfel slowly and cook an additional five minutes.  Make sure there is still a little liquid in the bottom of the pot.  Add ginger and walnuts and stir for ten minutes until mixture is brown.  Wet a wooden board with cold water and pour mixture on, carefully spreading with a wet knife. Allow to set for several hours and cut to form diamond shapes. Candy is sticky.

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

Mushroom Kugel

 

My mother would saute mushrooms, onions, celery and carrots and either mix them with challah for her Thanksgiving stuffing or with matzot during Passover.  It is a very simple combination but if the onions are caramelized to the perfect stage and the mushrooms are flavorful, you end up with a really good kugel.

Manya’s Mushroom Kugel

1 1/2 lbs. brown mushrooms or a combination of mushrooms
2 large onions
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
4 eggs, beaten
6 Matzot
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Dice onions and sauté in olive oil over low flame until a rich golden color, this can take up to 30 minutes.
Dice carrots and celery and add to onions and sauté for about ten minutes until tender.  Raise heat slightly, add sliced mushrooms and cook an extra 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and place in large mixing bowl.
Soak Matzot in warm water until soft.  Then squeeze matzot and add to mushroom mixture.  Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper.
Prepare 9×13 pan by adding 2-3 Tbsp oil, make sure bottom and sides are well greased and place in 350 degree oven for several minutes.  Take out and immediately pour in vegetable mixture.  Brush with olive oil.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy,
Irene

Bubelach (Passover Pancakes)

As a young girl I always thought that “bubela” was a term of endearment.  I am not sure how old I was when I found out that it was also a pancake.  This is a recipe that my Mom made every Passover.  Our friends, the Androns, lived across the alley from my parents and when their kids would run over to visit, my Mom would serve them bubelach.  We always ate it with sugar on top and a cup of hot tea but it is equally good with jam or a fresh fruit topping.

Bubelach
4 eggs, separated
5 Tbsp. matzoh meal
dash salt
3-4 Tbsp. oil

Beat egg whites till stiff. Gently fold in yolks, matzoh meal and salt. Heat oil in large, deep, frying pan till hot. Gently pour mixture into pan and lower heat. When bottom of pancake is golden, slide carefully on to a plate, and invert back into pan. Cook for about five more minutes. Insert a toothpick to make sure center is dry. Cut and serve hot. Serves 2-3

Enjoy,
Irene

Persian Charoset

For the next fourteen days I will be devoting my post to one Passover recipe a day.  Who has time for stories?  Hope you try them and enjoy them.

This recipe for Persian Charoset was given to me by a friend many years ago.  One of the wonderful culinary influences in Los Angeles is that of the large Persian community.  Compared to the benign Ashkenazi Charoset of my childhood, this is full of flavor and texture.

An interior decorator, my friend would shape the Charoset into a Pyramid. We now add a small olive wood camel to the presentation.

Persian Charoset
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1 large apple, peeled
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 orange, diced
3/4 cup sweet red wine
1 tsp. cinnamon

Coarsely chop nuts, raisins and fruit in food processor. Combine all ingredients and blend well.

Enjoy,
Irene

Brownie Meringues

We are now three weeks away from Passover.  This is the first time in about twenty years that we will be conducting the Seder in the dining room primarily because twelve of us can fit there.  No need to empty out the living room, order extra tables, rent cloths and napkins.  Yet instead of being happy about shedding all of the planning and angst that can accompany preparing for a large Seder, why are my thoughts drawn to Seders past with longing and nostalgia and to future Seders with something akin to dread.  It has been a difficult year.  My 92-year-old father passed away in September and for the first time, he will not be present at our Seder. Growing up in NYC, Seders were pretty traditional affairs; my father and the other men would stand and chant the Haggadah in unison, with no one else participating.  The wives read along silently and the children wiggled and giggled and waited for dinner.  It was not egalitarian or engaging or educational and yet I have warm and happy memories.  The table was beautifully set, the fine china was brought out, wonderful aromas came from the kitchen, new clothing was purchased, cousins got together and my father and the other men argued about politics all through the meal. Pesach was special. Continue reading

Oven-Fried Chicken Wings

My friend Fredda and I wrote this several years ago for a synagogue newsletter. We had decided to watch the Oscars together and serve this particular chicken. Well the Oscars are on Sunday so I thought it would be fun to revive the article and the recipe.

Project Chicken Soup is a wonderful organization.
To learn more about it visit www.projectchickensoup.org

2005 - When our children were very young and attending Jewish Day Schools, they were required to do community service. We all loved the idea, wanting to instill in them the value of “giving back”. Project Chicken Soup, an organization in L.A. that cooks and delivers hot meals to house-bound AIDS patients needed volunteers. Since our children were not old enough to drive themselves to the communal kitchen, going to Project Chicken Soup became a Sunday morning family activity. It allowed all of us to participate and gave us all a chance to cook! It was a labor of love.

A favorite family recipe came out of that experience.

Project Chicken Soup Chicken
Enough for one whole chicken cut in eighths or twenty wings.
l cup flour
1 cup cornflake crumbs
3 tbsp sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Run chicken under water and pat till almost dry. Dredge chicken in crumb mixture and shake off excess. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees till crisp and brown. If you choose to make the wings then this dip is a great accompaniment.
Pareve Ranch Dressing (non-dairy) Mix an envelope of Lipton Kosher Pareve Ranch Mix with one container of Tofutti Brand Sour Supreme (a pareve sour cream substitute). Stir well.

Enjoy,
Irene