Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew

The Graf brothers all loved nature, the outdoors, and animals.  My father would watch shows about the animal kingdom and would tell us stories of the pets he owned growing up in Warka, Poland.  A porcupine, really?  He was already well into his seventies when he suddenly decided to stop eating chicken and beef, purely for ethical reasons.  With longing and affection, my father would talk about the orchard and vegetable garden behind his mother’s home.  At the farmer’s market he would choose his fruits and vegetables with such care and tenderness, rotating each apple or pear to make sure it was blemish free, fresh, firm, and fragrant with ripeness, intent on selecting the best he could find.

The brothers were all avid gardeners, and I was fairly certain that their green thumbs were not passed down to my city hands.  I love the idea of gardening, to be able to go into your backyard and plan your meal based on what’s ready to be picked.  After a long hiatus, I was determined to try my hand at vegetable gardening once again and so I ruthlessly pulled out a whole bed of roses.  It took months to prepare the soil and put in the first raised bed.  During a trip back East my cousin Janine laid out the plans for my garden and I use it as my roadmap.  Not only does it guide me but it provides me with inspiration,  knowing that another branch of the Graf family are successful gardeners.  My first planting included broccoli which was a complete failure, basil which was immediately consumed by insects and several plants of red leaf lettuce which grew well, but became limp immediately after being harvested, not a desirable texture for a fresh salad.  I thought I would try kale and swiss chard and finally I was able to experience the sense of pride that comes with success.  There is more chard and kale in my garden than I know what to do with.

My father would probably chuckle at my meager garden but despite its small size, the pleasure that I derive from it is immeasurable.  My father and I never gardened together, I was too young and independent to listen to his advice when he offered it, but now each time I am in the garden I think of Harry, Charlie and Jack, and the legacy they left behind.

 

 


This dish is a vegetarian stew but so hearty that you really don’t miss the meat. Serve with rice or whole wheat pasta.

Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew (adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 tsp curry powder
1 /2 tsp chili powder
42 oz. pareve chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
1 pound brown lentils, rinsed well
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cumin.

Saute onion in olive oil till golden.  Add spices and sauté for several minutes, till fragrant.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then put in lentils and garbanzo beans.  Lower heat to a simmer, add salt and chard, and cover.  Cook till lentils are tender but still whole.  About 20 minutes.  Serves 6

Enjoy,

Irene

Chelov (Afghani Stew)

I love hanging out in the kitchen, anybody’s kitchen, and clearly there are others who feel the same way.  No matter if I am planning on entertaining indoors or outdoors, dining room or living room, there are always a few who just end up standing around the kitchen.  I can’t explain it other than eating in someone’s kitchen makes you feel as if you are part of the family and that’s what we all want.
Last week I wrote about having peered into a pot at a friend’s house and assumed that what I saw was soup, but found out it was actually an Afghani stew called Chelov.  So last Friday morning I called my friend Rachel whose parents were born in Afghanistan, and asked if she had a recipe for this dish.  Fortunately for me, Rachel was busy preparing Chelov when I called, and
invited Norm and I to join her family for Shabbat dinner.  I couldn’t wait, and when we arrived it turned out that there were only five of us for dinner.  The Chelov was separated and placed in serving dishes.  One bowl contained the delicious, tart greens in their broth, another held the turkey necks, and the third had  Tadig to serve it over.   The food, wine and company were all great, but eating in the kitchen was the icing on the cake.

One more thing: Earlier in the week I was contacted and asked if one of my recipes could be featured on this site, Culinary Kosher,  http://culinarykosher.com/index.php?action=home2.  Look towards the bottom right for my Yemenite Chicken Soup and check out the site!

 

Chelov

6 turkey necks

1 large onion, chopped

1 leek, cleaned and sliced 1/2 ” thick

1  15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 bunch parsley or dill, coarsely chopped

1  8 oz.  package frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out

2-3 small zucchini, diced

2 stalks of rhubarb, sliced 1/2″ thick

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp turmeric

6 cups water

1 lemon, juiced
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add turkey necks, onions and leeks and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Skim the top.  Add remaining ingredients (other than lemon) and  continue to summer on low for about another hour.  Squeeze lemon into stew before serving.  Serves 8

Rachel’s Variations

2 stalks sliced celery in place of rhubarb

1 cup sliced cabbage

Gondhi  (meatballs)

1 lb. ground turkey, beef, or chicken

1 egg

2 Tb breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 T oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Mix ingredients together and form into small balls. Add to Chelov at the same time as turkey necks.

Enjoy,

Irene

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

 

 

Chicken Fricassee

For over eighteen years Norm and I would pile our three kids into the blue Volvo station wagon on Friday afternoons and head down to Palm Springs where Norm’s parents would rent a condo every winter.  Pinnie and Lil were snow-birds, leaving behind their home in Toronto and flying West to enjoy six weeks of sunshine and warm weather and, of course, their grandchildren.  The parents of our close friends vacationed in the same complex which meant that the children had their friends, we had ours, and Bubbie and Zaidie had us all. Some years my sisters-in-law and their families would come in from Canada or Israel, giving the cousins the opportunity to spend time together. Our days were spent sitting at the pool relaxing, and watching the kids play Marco Polo. There were also hikes in Joshua Tree, tennis matches, outings to the local flea market, February birthday celebrations, and of course, many meals. After the inevitably long trip from Los Angeles, we knew that Bubbie and Zadie were waiting on the other end keeping Shabbat dinner warm.  We often made it just in time for supper, and we could predict with a fair amount of certainty what that would be.  It would include either vegetable or chicken soup, cornflake coated chicken, salad, and the all time favorite, chicken fricassee.  I had never heard of fricassee before I met my mother-in-law.  It is a delicious stew of chicken balls and wings, cooked together in a slightly sweetened tomato based sauce and it was the perfect dish to eat after a long, trying car trip.  The chicken balls were tender, the wings would fall apart as you ate them, and the sauce would soak into the mashed potatoes.  As often as I have I made this dish, it never tastes exactly like Lil’s.  I have gone over the recipe with her many times but maybe you have to be a Bubbie to get it just right.  We are going to Toronto in October to visit Bubbie and Zaidie and maybe with a little luck and a BIG hint, we will have fricassee waiting when we arrive.

*August 7th is Lil’s 85th birthday and we all wish you a Happy Birthday!!!  See you soon.

Lil’s Chicken Fricassee

10 chicken wings, cut at the joint

Meatballs

2 lbs. ground chicken

1 large onion, finely diced

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

2 Tbsp ketchup

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form into balls. Set aside.

Sauce

1- 29 oz. can tomato sauce

1-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 large brown onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

salt and pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a very large pot.  Bring to a boil and stir.  Add wings first and then carefully add chicken balls. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook fricassee for about two hours.

Enjoy,

Irene






Tabit (Iraqi Chicken and Rice)

It is Sunday morning and Norm is making bagels in the kitchen and my daughter Shira is on her way to the Bronx Zoo, both part of the Sunday rituals that I grew up with. Plus it is my sister’s birthday. Happy Birthday Anita!

Last week I went to synagogue to say Yizkor, the prayer service for the departed, and afterwards heard a sermon about a poem written by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.  The poem was about faith, God, and the Jewish experience, and the rabbi who delivered the sermon referred to the contents of the poem as “a stew of memories.”  I have been thinking of that sentence ever since.  Naama, my supervisor, once told me that she can remember every outfit she wore from the time she was a child. I cannot say that I remember every meal but I can say that, for me, food evokes memories.  The Bronx of the 1950s and 1960s was truly a melting pot.  You could walk down the Grand Concourse and stop and have a kosher hot dog at the deli owned by two brothers from Poland, pizza from Mario’s, Italian ices from a cart on the street, and the two foods that we considered very American, lemon meringue pie from Sutter’s Bakery and ice cream at Krum’s. The apartment building we lived in was filled with people who spoke foreign languages, had heavy accents in English, and cooked the way they had in their homeland. We lived on the 4th floor and there was no elevator. I remember walking down each flight of stairs and registering the smells that would permeate those halls. People did not have much to share, so they sat around and shared their food and their recipes. My mother learned how to make Fanny’s recipe for tzimmis, Esther’s recipe for sweet potatoes, Ruth’s recipe for pineapple kugel, and Suralayeh’s recipe for baked spaghetti.  As children, my sister and I sometimes complained because we preferred my mothers own recipes and were resistant to change.  I didn’t understand why she would try new dishes when we were perfectly happy with the dishes that we knew and loved.  As an adult and a mom I finally understand.  She had lost her entire family in the war and this was my mother’s way of building new relationships, a way to find a common bond and draw others into her life so that she could create a “stew of memories” for my sister and me.  What a wonderful legacy.

Here is a “stew” that I learned how to make from an Iraqi Jewish family that I met many years ago in Los Angeles.  Place tabit in the oven before Shabbat begins on Friday evening and serve for lunch, a Sephardic alternative to cholent.

Tabit

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 chicken cut into eighths

3 cups water

1 1/2  tsps salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 large tomato, diced

2 cups rice, rinsed several times

1 can garbanzo beans

Saute onion in oil till golden.  Add chicken and brown.  Then add freshly diced tomato and sauté for several minutes.  Place rice around chicken and add water, salt, pepper, paprika, garbanzo beans, and tomato paste.  Stir gently.  Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat and cook for abut 15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place Tabit in oven overnight.

Enjoy,

Irene

Note: If you are interested in seeing some old photos of the Bronx and the Grand Concourse go to http://www.nostalgictimewarp.com/bronx.html

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

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