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One family's Passover recipes: 'Cooking Jewish' author shares some dishes from her book

New Orleans Times-Picayune
by Judy Walker

Judy Bart Kancigor started "Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes From the Rabinowitz Family" (Workman, $19.95) as a family project.

The flourless chocolate cake recipe, bete noire, "came from my cousin's daughter," said Kancigor, a writer for The Orange County Register in California. "She brought it to my kids' house the first time they had Passover." And she had given it the name "Too Good to Call Passover Cake."

Find this flourless chocolate cake recipe as well as Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Mini Cheesecakes with Cranberry Haroset when you Read the whole story

Paassover marks return of delicious traditions

from the New York Daily News March 31, 2008
by Rosemary Black

The very first recipe that Judy Bart Kancigor tested for her new book, "Cooking Jewish" (Workman) was her grandmother's Passover nut cake. When it came out of the oven, the author gave a piece to her mother and asked, "Ma, is this it?" And was astonished to see her mother's eyes widen and brim with tears as memories flooded her mind of Passovers gone by.

(Find recipes for Gramma Sera Fritkin's Russian Brisket, Chicken Soup and Shiitake Mushroom Matzoh Balls when you read the whole story.)

Matzo stuffing - could it be tradition?

Lisa Keys writes in the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) that new traditions can start at any time, with a little inspiration from COOKING JEWISH. Read the whole story.

"Top Chef" winner at the Orange County Fair


I felt as if I had entered an alternate universe. Outside the vendors were hawking deep-fried butter and frogs' legs (no worries, dear reader, I had the chicken on a skewer) and inside Michael Voltaggio, last year's winner on Bravo TV's Top Chef, was decomposing a salad, his "vegetable landscape," with over twenty artfully arranged ingredients in a primordial forest tableau- not exactly what you might expect at the Orange County Fair!

Broccoli was blanched, dehydrated and then fried at 400°. "It pops like popcorn," he said. "I hated broccoli as a child, so I recreated it. I'm a big fan of broccoli now."

I love mushrooms in my salad, but I have to admit I've never tried puréeing them and using the purée in cake batter instead of sugar, "a savory cake," and baking the concoction in a tiny log-shaped mold, but if you're creating the forest floor on a plate, you've got to have a log, no? "Mushrooms grow where there's fire," he noted, so he scorched it with a blowtorch.

Voltaggio peeled a baby eggplant, threaded it with a cinnamon stick like a skewer and grilled it. "Cinnamon has a peppery flavor and gives you a whole new food experience. Try it on steak or fish," he recommended.

Roasted beets, grilled spring onions, dehydrated coriander flowers, fried okra battered in chickpea flour - this was no ho-hum, everyday salad!

Tips of tender baby asparagus and fresh peas went in raw. "You don't have to cook the crap out of everything to make it taste good," he advised. Strawberries macerated in rice vinegar and mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) and melon slices got the vacuum pack treatment.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Fri, 08/12/2011 - 10:26pm.

Company coming? Defrazzle!

Some hints from Chef Mary Sue Milliken

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Fri, 07/29/2011 - 4:05pm.

Interview with Bravo TV's Top Chef Masters finalist Mary Sue Milliken

Mary Sue Milliken, chef co-owner of Border Grill
Restaurants and Truck, talks to me about her recent experience on Bravo TV's Top
Chef Masters.

KANCIGOR: What was the biggest surprise between what you thought you
were getting yourself into when you agreed to do the show and how it
really played out?

MILLIKEN: At first I was pretty reluctant to do the show. It took me a
long time to warm up to the idea to do it at all. I was braced for the
worst. One thing I found to be really interesting and exciting is I
allowed myself to focus on nothing else except the competition every
single day, a pure concentration I probably haven’t had since my
twenties. There were no distractions, no email, no phone calls, no kids.
I just gave myself this gift and allowed myself tunnel vision. I really
learned and grew through that. Now when I get frustrated or irritated, I
just focus. Anybody could probably use a dose of that kind of focus.

KANCIGOR:Did you do anything special to prepare for the show?

MILLIKEN:I asked Susan [Feniger], my partner of 30 years, who had been
on the show in Season 2, “Do you think I should get in the kitchen and
work on the line for a few weeks?”

She said, “No, you’re not going to have any problem. You’re fast with a

What I tried to do to prepare is think back through all the different
dishes I’ve made and loved that were a huge success, make myself a list
of those and remember them, so I could access something pretty quickly.
You don’t want to change gears midway through, but choose a dish to cook
and stay with it and cook it at as beautifully as you can while you’re
jumping through hoops.

KANCIGOR: How did it feel to watch the show? Were there any moments you
wish had not been edited out or wish had been edited out?

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Fri, 07/29/2011 - 3:53pm.

You'll never get a lemon

Murphy’s Law was operating in full force last night as I tried to
duplicate Chef Mary Sue Milliken’s Lemon Soufflé recipe seen on Bravo
TV’s Top Chef Masters a few weeks ago.

While Milliken lost in the final round to Chef Floyd Cardoz, the judges’
oo-ing and ah-ing sent visions of lemons dancing in my head. But the
recipe serves 12. Who would be my guinea pigs?

My opportunity came last night as my houseguests from Sweden – a
delightful family of five – sampled the dish. Unfortunately they also
“sampled” my haphazard style as they watched me screw up a seemingly
simple recipe. And yet, despite six (count them) mistakes, the result
was tasty, but here are some tips so that may learn from the wisdom of
my experience.

Pay attention and concentrate! The good news is I have an open kitchen
which allows me to talk to guests as I’m cooking. The bad news is I have
an open kitchen which allows me to talk to guests as I’m cooking.

Read the recipe! Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but I can’t tell you how
many times I’ve looked at the list of ingredients without consulting the
method. “Oops” is not something you want to hear in the kitchen.

So where did I go wrong? Here goes:

(Step 1) Notice it says “half the sugar.” Don’t throw all the sugar into
the yolks and then try to pick some out later. In this case, the other
half the sugar is for whipping the egg whites, which need to get only to
the medium peak stage, so no harm done there. (Whew!)

(Step 2) When you’re bringing milk to a boil, don’t start chatting and
turn your back on it and let it boil over with skim forming on top so
that you have to strain it.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Sat, 07/16/2011 - 7:48am.

Summer fruit and the living is easy

Attention shoppers. A new fruit in town will hit the shelves any day
now. Check Ralphs and Trader Joe’s for a white apricot called
“angelcot,” a trademarked name from Freida’s, the specialty produce
company headquartered in Los Alamitos.

And here’s a recipe any busy cook will love: “Split open an apricot, dip
it in Cholula Hot Sauce – you know, the one with the wooden top – and
eat!” says Karen Caplan, Freida’s daughter and president of the company.
“It’s a delicious combination of hot and sweet.”

As Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, would say, “How easy is that?”

Now in its fiftieth year, the company was the brainchild of Freida
Caplan, who started as a cashier at the produce market and began selling
a neglected stack of mushrooms near the cashier stand. They took off.

“Unable to find enough mushrooms to supply her growing customer base,
she did something really wild and unheard of,” Karen writes in “The
Purple Kiwi Cookbook” (Favorite Recipes Press), a tantalizing recipe
collection based on the exotic produce –– from Asian pears to wood ear
mushrooms – that Freida’s markets today.

“She began visiting growers. No one at the produce market had ever
thought of that before.”

Why the Purple Kiwi Cookbook?

“My mom introduced the kiwifruit to America in 1962, first imported as
Chinese gooseberries and renamed it.” Karen noted. And the company color
is purple, because it was the only color the sign painter had on his truck!

“The Purple Kiwi Cookbook” demystifies cactus pears, horned melons,
lychees, passion fruit, quince, star fruit – all those exotics you’ve
seen in the market and wondered, now what do I do with this?

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 10:18pm.

Purim: merriment, mirth…and good eats!

from Orange County Jewish Life magazine, March 2012. (Recipes for Layered Hummus and Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Pine Nuts plus three varieties of Hamantaschen follow the story.)

Every Jewish school child knows the characters: Ahasuerus, the foolish king; Vashti, the spurned wife; Haman, the wicked first minister (sound your groggers now!); Esther, the brave and beautiful maiden; and Mordecai, her honorable protector. Their tale of intrigue is told in the Scroll of Esther (Megillah) as an annihilation plot is foiled and our people saved. Purim, which begins at sundown on Wednesday, March 7, is the holiday of merriment, mirth, and trickery!

To celebrate our deliverance, sweets are the order of the day. Gifts of cakes and fruit (shaloch manot) are exchanged. For Ashkenazim no Purim celebration would be complete without eating three-cornered hamantaschen, traditionally filled with poppy seeds, while Sephardim
enjoy honeyed pastries called oznei Haman (Hebrew for Haman’s ears).

Bulletin! This just in! Taschen means “pockets,” and Haman never wore a three-cornered hat! (You just can’t believe anything you hear these days.)

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 5:55pm.

Saucing it up for the new year

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, and you’re having a party. So why does
the thought of celebrating in your own home with your own family and
friends make you nervous? The whole world is throwing confetti, and
you’re already saying to yourself, “What was I thinking?”

“Special occasions and special recipes do not have to be difficult or
fussy,” says Sheila Lukins in “Celebrate!” (Workman $19.95), a cookbook
I turn to again and again for menus and party ideas for every holiday
and occasion.

Beautiful color photos leap off the page as Lukins invites you to
celebrate not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but a housewarming, a
bridal shower, a new job, glorious summer… 43 holidays and celebrations
in all.

The book begins as the year does, with New Year’s, and offers recipes
for a casual New Year’s Day celebration that won’t leave you harried.
Keep it low-key, she suggests, with an open house buffet and food that
will stay delicious throughout the day as friends drop in and out.

“I believe the most memorable celebrations take place at home,” Lukins
writes. “In mine, all celebrations begin in the kitchen, and part of the
fun is deciding what to prepare, creating a menu with appeal, start to

You’ll find a tempting array of dishes to serve 24 as you ring in the
New Year. This sumptuous buffet includes the foolproof, doable, yet
impressive dishes we’ve come to expect from the coauthor of the “Silver
Palate” cookbooks.

Party pork tenderloins are the centerpiece with a trio of sauces: Pebre,
a fresh salsa verde with herbs, onions, and garlic (similar to
Argentinean chimichurri); Lemon-Garlic Aїoli and Romesco
mayonnaise, a Catalan tomato- and bell pepper-based sauce that Lukins
combines with mayonnaise for body and a splash of orange juice.

Posted in Submitted by Judy on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:36pm.
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