In this blog, aspects of my creative life have hovered on several topics – cooking and food and arts and crafts – with thoughts about my neighborhood, museums, travel, and more. For the past so many months, the content has been colored by our most unusual and unique situation of sheltering in place, thanks to the widespread effects of COVID-19. I have jokingly referred to this state of affairs as “Hotel California.” This thread started in the March 24, 2020 blog, if you are interested.
As recorded in these ramblings and musings, cooking is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy the hands-on activity of making something good to eat (and seeing Constant Companion’s joy in eating). Learning about food history, meanings, and relationships are equally intellectually rewarding.
Many of my food adventures of this past time in limbo* have enriched by experience and knowledge of Jewish food traditions. Over these past many months, thanks to many zoom presentations provided by many cooks and chefs representing the great diversity of Jewish foodways, I’ve learned a lot.
*For those who still feel in limbo see August 10, 2020 post or listen to Jimmy Cliff – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I7R8-g_G0Y
About a year ago, I wrote about several zoom rooms that I followed (see July 6, 2020, July 20, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020 posts). I even adopted some of the recipes into my repertoire. This past spring, Michael Solomonov, the owner of Zahav in Philadelphia, took viewers into his kitchen and to Israel to meet chefs, to learn about the multicultural nature of food there, and to sample recipes for sixteen weeks during the spring. Bringing Israel Home is still on line on the Jewish Food Society site – https://www.jewishfoodsociety.org/bringingisraelhome#episodesixteen?source=70FacesMedia&medium=Email&campaign=Premiere
I also enjoyed watching the members of the ladies auxiliary of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, one of the two Sephardic synagogues in Seattle. They opened their homes to demonstrate beloved family recipes, many of which are featured at their annual bazaar. I have already made the mazapan several times; Constant Companion and Daughter love it. It’s so easy to make – https://www.ezrabessaroth.net/copy-of-ladies-auxilary-1.
Another food blog that I’ve found informative is Researching Food History – Cooking and Dining. Their synopsis of Jewish foodways puts so much together. I actually might watch some presentations included in their list that I missed – (http://researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2021/02/jewish-foodways-talks.html).
Here are two recipes from last year’s food zooms that the family has enjoyed.
Adeena Sussman’s* Melted Green Cabbage. Heat 1/3 cup of olive oil in a shallow Dutch oven. Sprinkle 2 tsp of kosher salt and ½ tsp pepper on the oil. Quarter 2 small heads of green cabbage, leaving the cores in place; arrange them on the pot, flat side down. Brown the undersides, 6-7 minutes. Turn over and add 10 cloves of peeled garlic and 4 peeled and halved shallots around the cabbage. Cook another 6-7 minutes
Add ½ cup of dry white wine and ½ cup of chicken/vegetable broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat. Add 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper and 4 springs of fresh thyme. Cook in a 300 degree oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours on a low heat. To serve, season with salt and pepper and top with crème fraiche or sour cream.https://thefeedfeed.com/adeenasussman/melted-green-cabbage
*For more of Adeena Sussman, look at her cookbook Sababa
Susan Barocas’ eggplant caviar.* Start with 2 large purple eggplants. Pierce them all around with a fork and rub with oil. You can wrap them in foil or not (I do not). Roast in a preheated 425 oven for an hour. They will collapse.
*Some people make a dish like this by cooking the eggplant directly on the gas burner. I’ve never been comfortable with that technique. I was thrilled to learn this method.
When the eggplant are cool enough to handle, gently remove the peel and scoop seeds out of the pulp. Put the pulp into a colander, spring with some salt and let the liquid drain (15-20 minutes).
Put the drained eggplant pulp on a plate and mush it with a fork for a while to break it down. Add 1-3 cloves of finely chopped or grated garlic to the pulp. Add 2-3 tsp of olive oil, 2-3 tsp lemon juice or wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste and mix til well-blended. Top with chopped parsley.