I met chef Annie Miler of Clementine (across from Century City, 310-552-1080) and award-winning pastry chef Sherry Yard of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills (310-385-0880) a few years ago at gala fundraiser for Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). I couldn’t resist the opportunity and asked them to give us some tips for the holidays.
“Thanksgiving is about cooking with your friends and family, not about being one person performing,” said Miler. “That’s what makes it stressful. Relax!”
The day prior to Thanksgiving is the single busiest day of the year for Clementine, she noted. “I always have a set of family members here before Thanksgiving and Christmas to help pack gravy and get the orders out. For our own dinner I could just order from Clementine, but this year my mom wants to make everything herself. After days of packing gravy she may decide to order!”
“Desserts like apple pie and pumpkin pie always taste better the next day,” observed Yard, “so why not make them the day before. And this will free the oven to let the turkey spread its wings!”
She also suggested measuring and prepping ingredients for dishes that need last-minute attention the night before.
Try a trifle for an easy, but showy dessert, she suggested. “Buy some gingerbread cake and layer it with whipped cream – fold in candied ginger – and sprinkle the cake with a simple syrup made with brandy or Jack Daniels.”
For an easy take on Miler’s hors d’oevre, serve bruschetta: roasted balsamic onions on toasted French or Italian bread slices.
Sherry Yard’s intense and velvety chocolate ganache is the basis of so many memorable desserts from truffles to mousse. For her “It” tart, pour the ganache into tart shells and top with tiny grapes that have been rolled in melted chocolate (no need to temper), then dusted with cocoa powder.
By JUDY BART KANCIGOR
The Orange County Register
September 17, 2009
An old saying goes, ask two Jews a question and you'll get three opinions.
Controversy, controversy. In politics you expect it, but it's true even in
Take the much maligned, yet oh, so beloved Jewish appetizer that graces
every holiday table from the weekly celebration of the Sabbath to Rosh Hashana,
the Jewish New Year: Gefilte fish.
In the Middle Ages Jewish mystics viewed fish as signaling the coming of the
Messiah. No wonder it is served for every holiday. Fish was expensive in
Europe, and the recipe was developed as an economical way to stretch it so that
every family member could get a taste.
The word gefilte is actually German for "stuffed." The original
recipe called for seasoned, ground boned fish mixed with eggs and fillers, such
as vegetables and crumbs, which was then stuffed back into the fish skin and
cooked. Over the centuries, the skin was eliminated, with cooks shaping the
mixture into balls or patties and poaching them.
But wherein lies the controversy? Do we open a jar or make it ourselves…or
"doctor" the jarred variety? Do we like it sweet or peppery? With
some guests adoring it and others repelled at the very sight, do we even serve
it at all?
I don’t come from a long line of pie bakers. I don’t think my grandmother, Mama Hinda, ever baked one…I know my mother never did. Yet to my mind as a young bride, nothing epitomized consummate homemaking skills as much as the baking of pies, something I would not even attempt for decades.
For many years I lived with a dough phobia, the result of a kitchen disaster I call the “kreplach incident.” I had rolled out the dough for these little meat-filled dumplings, carefully placed them in boiling water and they exploded! That experience created a fear of all things rolled that spilled over to piecrusts and pastries and lasted over thirty years.
Although in the ensuing years I rolled cookie dough and turned out homemade knishes by the dozens with ease, somehow pie baking I thought of as a magical gift bestowed from birth on some, but never to be attained by others. Genetics, perhaps?
“I’m just not a dough person,” I would lament… until testing recipes for my cookbook forced me to face my fears (and without a support group). Recipes needed to be tested. I cooked. I baked. I even perfected the dreaded kreplach! The pies I left for last.
Finally, in an “Aha!” moment of the kitchen kind, I realized…I roll cookie dough, I roll knish dough. Now I even roll kreplach dough! Surely I can roll pie dough.
Enter cooking instructor Barbara Shenson, whom my daughter-in-law Tracey met when Shenson was teaching for Home Chef, a cooking school and store in San Francisco. Her pie-making tips put that last notch in my belt.
“My crust always shrinks,” I whined. Read the whole story.
You adored it as a kid, but you’ve never outgrown it. Here are two words that make everyone’s eyes light up – ice cream!
“In the store-bought category there’s good, not so good and really bad,” said food writer and consultant Peggy Fallon, author of “The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever” (HarperCollins) from her Northern California home. Ice cream maker? Do I need yet another unused appliance taking up space on my counter, I wondered.
Then I leafed through the book and I was smitten. Chocolate Pumpkin with Hazelnuts. Peaches ‘n’ Cream. Double Ginger. Utterly Peanut Butter with a whole cup of peanut butter in a quart of ice cream! But with so many even gourmet ice creams available today, why would I want to make my own?
“I think the appeal of homemade ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurts is that you control what goes into them,” Fallon noted. “There are so many odd ingredients in most supermarket ice cream. Just look at the labels. When you make your own, you use real cream, eggs, sugar and milk. If you’re concerned about what you put into your body, it’s better to eat real food.”
Sounds great, but I’m thinking, remember that bread machine you couldn’t live without and the havoc it played with your waistline?
Then I read on. A chapter called “On the Lighter Side” offers mouthwatering light ice creams, frozen yogurts, granitas and sorbets with alluring titles such as Maple Crunch Light Ice Cream, Tangy Orange Iced Buttermillk, Honey Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and Pear Sorbet with Zinfandel and Fresh Basil. Read the whole story
The March issue of Better Homes and Gardens features three Passover recipes from Cooking Jewish: Apricot Squares, Chocolate Macaroons and Flourless Chocolate Cake. See pages 160 and 162 and enjoy!
Last night for the first time I had the most beautiful platter of neat turkey slices. I followed this video from the NY Times.
The man is a genius!! End of turkey hassles! The only thing I did differently (and it actually worked even better) was I removed the drumstick first and then held on to the thigh bone and slid my knife down that bone to remove it with no meat on it. Then it was a simple matter to remove the thigh - whole! Slicing boneless meat is a breeze! We will never carve a turkey on the bone again! My platter looked just as great as his! We should have taken a picture!
Okay, before you have me arrested, I’m not cursing here.
Shiterein (Yiddish): v. to add an unspecified amount adj. describing one who cooks from experiece and touch without recipes or measuring
Our foremothers were shiterein cooks. Who needs to measure? You throw in a little of this, a little of that, and a wonderful dish emerges. Far from haphazard, it’s a style borne of experience, confidence, instinct, and skill.
Shiterein cooks don’t usually write down their recipes. Fortunately Aunt Sally recorded my grandmother’s recipes or I wouldn’t have them. When they do write them down, they provide rather quirky measurements and instructions:
“a glass flour” or “a gluzzela” (little glass)
“an eggshell water”
“2 cents yeast”
“a nice piece of veal”
“knead until it feels right”
and of course the ever popular: “cook until done”
Aunt Hilda’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot ended this way: “If too sweet, next time add less sugar.”
Recently a friend told me that when she asked her mother when to put the dish in the oven, her response was, “So you’ll wake up a little earlier.”
Have you got a shiterein tale to tell? Would love to hear the instructions your foremothers left for you. Click "comments" below.
My column on OU's website ezine Shabbat Shalom is a tribute to my wonderful mom - hard to believe she's 90! - and contains recipes for her unbelievable chicken soup, my Shiitake Mushroom Matzoh Balls and her Killer Brisket with Tsimmes. It begins this way:
My mother’s name is Lillian, but everyone calls her Honey. When I was expecting her first grandchild, Mom wanted to be called “Grandma Honey.” Mom had high hopes. My children called her “Honey” and it stuck. Even their friends think that that’s her name.
Canadian Jewish News, May 2, 2008
Manischewitz National Cookoff winner announced
by Judy Bart Kancigor
My Grandma Ruchel was very religious. When I was a child, I would watch her pray facing the cabinet where she kept the Tam Tams – those addictive, “bet you can’t eat one” crackers from Manischewitz – swaying back and forth as her arthritic fingers turned the pages of her prayer book. I had no idea she was facing east. I thought Tam Tam crackers were holy!
So it was with amusement Read the whole story
Watch the video as I prepare Stuffed Orange Sweet Potato Cups with the ebullient Shelley Goldberg, NY1’s Parenting Consultant, and kibbutz about holiday food traditions you can take part in with your children.
RECIPES FEATURED IN THIS SEGMENT