The first time I heard of “Montreal-style Deli” was a few years ago when i was still working for Edgar M. Bronfman’s foundation. We were visiting the Hillels of Montreal and I was sent on a mission: go and procure some smoked brisket for Edgar from Schwartz’s deli. It’s his favorite. Of all my assignments during my time working there, this was, without doubt, my favorite. Brisket. Done. I still have the receipt hanging at my desk.
So when Mile End Deli opened in Brooklyn in 2010, I knew Edgar would love it. And I was right. I like to think I am usually right when it comes to food.
And last night, worlds (and Bronfmans, and celebrities and rabbis) all collided at the launch party for The Bronfman Haggadah, a new Haggadah written by Edgar with gorgeous artwork by his wife, the talented Jan Aronson. While Mile End served up Passover-inspired dishes, providing the perfect accompaniment to the evening’s festivities of modern and traditional.
Mile End’s website says that it is “a Jewish delicatessen in New York City committed to breathing new life into old-world traditions.” And I can’t think of a better way to describe the Haggadah Edgar has created. For some the Haggadah will feel very foreign: entirely in English, with some different songs and the purposeful act of welcoming Elijah earlier in the Seder. But for others, for whom the Judaism of their childhood never quite fit; for those who never experienced a Judaism which fit or not; or for those just looking for something different, this Haggadah may find a new place as part of your family’s tradition.
In his remarks last night, Noah Bernamoff of Mile End explained, “Everyone knows what Jewish deli food is. We like to ask ourselves the difficult questions about Jewish food.”
If nothing else, Passover is a time for storytelling, asking questions and food. And the dishes Mile End served last night definitely fulfilled its mission of breathing new life into old-world traditions. Duck pastrami served on a matzo brei cake with green apple haroset; pickled deviled eggs; and braised brisket with green figs on spiced matzo, just to name a few. They posted their full menu from the Haggadah launch on Instagram last evening, so please, take a peak! Above all, each bite tasted like something familiar, and also something brand-new. I will give one word of critique: I didn’t love the take-home macaroons, which most closely resembled and tasted like the variety you can buy in the Supermarket. But I’ll let it slide. Mile End isn’t known for their baked goods.
I remarked to Rae Bernamoff of Mile End that I couldn’t decide which mini dish was my favorite, but in the end I have say, the crispy gefilte fish cake stood out to me. I never ate gefilte fish growing up. My grandmother, while a wonderful (and hilarious) woman, is a terrible cook and exclusively served the gefilte fish out of a jar, which most closely resembles a ball of lint you might pull out of the dryer. It wasn’t until well into my teens that i had my first real bite of the Ashkenazi classic and fell in love. Slathered in spicy horseradish, it is now a favorite, and a staple at my seder.
But Mile End’s version was crispy, slightly sweet and tasted almost like a gourmet fish stick or mini cod cake. Served with chrein cream and pickled carrot…well. I ate two. And I ate three of the pickled deviled eggs. But I digress.
If you’re in New York, please check out one of Mile End’s two locations. And if you’re still looking for the perfect Haggadah for your family, have a look at The Bronfman Haggadah.
Wishing you and your family a Passover celebration infused with relevant traditions and delicious dishes, both new and old alike.
Growing up, Passover meant sweet and sour brisket. Slowly braised in the oven for hours until Bubbe declared it was tender enough to eat. Sounds simple enough, but that poor brisket was in and out of the oven and examined and re-examined until it was dry. So we tried chicken one year. Surely that would fare better. But the story was the same- Bubbe, my Mom and Aunts gathered around the oven trying to determine if the chicken was done. Opening and closing the door, all whilst poking and prodding the poor bird. “Is it done?” “It looks done.” “No I see pink!” They were petrified of giving the whole family salmonella. Sigh.
Passover recipes are actually some of my favorite to develop- the limit in ingredients forces me to get creative and put together recipes that I never would otherwise. I decided to make a roasted chicken as homage to that Pesach- it would work for a seder, or you could nosh on it for meals during the chametz free week. Honey and mustard is one of my favorite combos, but of course mustard is out. How about horseradish instead as a nod to the seder meal? The horseradish gives the chicken a subtle spiciness much like a Dijon would, and is balanced with the sweet honey- delicious!
1, 5-pound whole chicken, rinsed well and with innards removed
5 bulbs garlic
½ white onion
5 fresh rosemary springs
¼ cup kosher for Passover prepared horseradish
¼ cup kosher for Passover honey
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Then put the chicken breast side up on a roasting rack in a roasting pan.
Stuff chicken with the lemon garlic, onion and rosemary sprigs.
In a small bowl, whisk together horseradish, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread all over the chicken, making sure to get under the skin as well.
Truss the chicken, or tuck the wings under the body and tie together the legs.
Roast chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes, and then turn the oven up to 450 degrees F to brown the skin. Continue cooking about 20 more minutes until the internal temperature near the thighbone is 160 degrees F and the juices run clear (it should continue to cook once removed from the oven until the temperature is 165 degrees F).
Let chicken rest for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil before carving. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Holidays are meaningful for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, because they include a gathering of family. This will come as no surprise, but in my family, that gathering always features two elements: a mouthwatering feast and a dance party. Without exception, if there is music playing in the general vicinity, there will be dancing. Regardless of the amount of space we have, someone always finds room to bust a move. And depending on how much alcohol was served at dinner, the elders have been known to cut a rug, as well.
On the rare occasion when I need a little liquid courage to hit the makeshift dance floor, one of my favorite cocktails is the classic Cuban mojito. Made famous by Ernest Hemingway, this literary favorite blends the distinctly clean, fresh scent of lime and the aromatic essence of sugar-bruised mint leaves with world-class rum only found on the motherland and the nose-tickling fizz of seltzer. Topped off with a splash of bitters, it’s clear why the mojito is favored by Cubans and Americans, alike.
Since we’ll soon be gathering as a family for Passover, and rum will certainly be off-limits due to the dietary restrictions that accompany the holiday, I thought I’d transform this citrus-y cocktail into a tasty bite suitable for any seder table. By seasoning naturally bitter quinoa, a longtime Passover favorite across the board, with the most memorable elements of a mojito, hopefully, all it will take is one bite to get the more shy family members to hit the dance floor.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
2 limes, zested
In a medium pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, pepper, and quinoa, and toast for 1 minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated.
Fluff the quinoa, and stir in the almonds, mint leaves, and lime zest.
The reason I love this simple recipe is: you can prep it beforehand, it stays great, it’s cheap, and it’s very yummy! The vinaigrette is simple but very flavorful, as I have found many Moroccan Jewish recipes to be.
The recipe serves 4-6, but I like to double it and eat the leftover salad throughout chol hamoed.
For the salad:
1 thinly sliced cucumber
2 cold boiled potatoes, sliced
3 bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced: i use one green, one red, one orange for color :)
2 2/3 cups pitted olives (any variety you like)
3 scallions, sliced thin
For the vinaigrette:
3-5 chopped garlic cloves
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon, or 1 Tbsp or so lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
salt to taste
Lay all of the veggies and potatoes out on a nice platter (think oval-shaped platter). Scatter the olives all around and the scallions on top.
In a small bowl whisk all the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
Pour vinaigrette over the veggies, olives, and scallions.
Maror is an important part of the pre-meal seder, but there’s no reason you can’t make it a part of your Pesach feast. Some people like a little dot of maror to go with their gefilte fish, but I’m a gefilte fish hater, so I wanted to think of some other way to integrate some strong chrein into my meal. Enter: horseradish salmon. This recipe is incredibly quick and easy, and leads to an amazingly moist and sweet dish, with just a jab of chrein getting you on the finish. Do not be dissuaded by the amount of horseradish called for–it mostly cooks away leaving an amazing spicy aroma layered on a honeyed, flaky piece of fish.
2 lbs salmon1/4 cup horseradish
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl combine horseradish (use the white kind unless you want magenta salmon), honey, lemon juice, and salt. It should form a somewhat thick mixture, and it will smell incredibly strongly of the horseradish, but don't worry―most of the kick of the horseradish will cook off in the oven. Place salmon in a greased casserole dish or on a baking sheet. Pour the horseradish mixture over the fish, making sure that it gets all around the fish, and spooning some back on top of the fillet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Ever since DGS Delicatessen opened its doors in Washington, DC last year, I’ve been following their reinvented Jewish dishes and praising press with interest. I was thrilled to have a chance to speak with Chef Barry Koslow this week about his inspiration and vision for the modern, Jewish deli.
Chef Barry actually started his culinary career working in upscale French restaurants, and had always dreamed about opening a French bistro. As a Jewish guy who grew up in the DC area he realized he had a strike against him: he wasn’t French.
I love that when Barry and his partners began exploring the idea of opening a deli, they wanted to do things differently, set themselves apart from the traditional North American Jewish deli that was dying off. They asked themselves: What should change about Jewish cuisine?
When you glance at DGS’ everyday menu and even their special Passover menu you can see very clearly what Barry is doing differently for Jewish cuisine: the traditional, American-Ashkenazi dishes so many of us grew up with are there, but with exciting, modern twists. For example, their lamb merguez knishes are a unique Sephardi-Ashkenazi hybrid packing a flavor punch.
The signature of DGS is their renowned Pastrami Sandwich, which starts with great rye bread. The pastrami takes 8 days to make with a signature spice blend that is ground by hand, smoked for 6 hours, steamed for 4 hours and then sliced by hand.
What’s up next for DGS? They plan to serve up a GLT this summer: gribenes, lettuce and tomato sandwich. My mouth is already watering….!
Chef Barry also explained that some people have struggled with their versions of Jewish classics, and most others are delighted by the opportunity to visit their Jewish food memories through DGS’ unique versions. Barry shared,
“…people have nostalgia for delicatessen, and we make people rethink this. What we do sparks a lot of debate, but the majority of the people love it. But I think the conversation is important – people need to talk about how it was, and look how we are doing things different.”
When food is not just food, but a connection to heritage and part of a larger conversation about Jewish community and people? Well, then they must be doing something right!
DGS Delicatessen is open 7 days a week, serves lunch, happy hour and dinner during the week, as well as brunch on the weekends. They will offer their Passover menu from March 25th – 31st.
DGS Delicatessen, 1317 Connecticut Avenue, 202.293.4400.
Like the crazy Jewish woman I am, I start researching Passover recipes…well, you might say I research Passover recipes all year long. Passover is my least favorite holiday and so I am always trying to make the week as painless as possible with delicious “non Passover tasting” dishes.
When I came across this recipe from Whole Foods a few months ago I immediately thought: this will be a perfect Passover recipe since I will only need to make one substitution! I hate using matzo meal or other Passover-rific substitutions, so I always looks for those perfect Passover-friendly recipes.
In general I like making pies and cheesecake during Passover since you can easily replace a graham cracker or cookie crust for almonds, walnuts or pecans. In this sweet potato pie recipe, I replaced the gingersnap cookies with almonds. Combined with sweetened coconut and melted margarine or butter – voila! a perfect moist crust that tastes just like a macaroon. The sweet potato filling is light and flavorful, just like a pumpkin pie.
This pie recipe is so good you will make it all year, and THAT is a sign of the perfect Passover recipe.
For the Filling:
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
¾ cup canned coconut milk
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp sea salt
Extra coconut for garnish (optional)
For the Crust:
1 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
4 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make a few slits in skin of sweet potato and wrap in tin foil. Roast for 45 minutes or until soft. Allow sweet potatoes to cool slightly.
In the meantime, place almonds, shredded coconut, salt and melted margarine or butter into a food processor. Press mixture into and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden. Let cool.
Scoop flesh from sweet potatoes and place into food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add coconut milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and process until combined.
Reduce oven to 350 degree. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center of pie is set. Allow to cool.
In a saute pan, toast about 1/4 cup extra coconut on low-medium heat until golden brown. Sprinkle in center of pie as garnish.
It’s that time of year again when we go through cabinets, fridge and freezer searching for chametz and rack our brains on how to use them up before Passover. I love this challenge each year, especially because I usually have a few bags full of leftover challah just waiting to be used in a new recipe.
Bread puddings are often sweet and served for dessert; while stuffing is usually savory and served as a side dish. But I wanted to sort of combine both these concepts and do something a bit different – a savory, dairy bread pudding perfect to serve for breakfast or brunch! And thus, my Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms was born!
Don’t like mushrooms? Use spinach or peppers instead.Serve with scrambled eggs and some fruit for a perfect, rounded breakfast.
4 cups leftover bread, preferably challah
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 ounces goat cheese
Cut or break bread into chunks. Grease a 9x9 square pan and place bread into pan.
Heat olive oil and butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add fresh thyme to pan. Saute mushrooms for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, heavy cream and eggs. Add goat cheese. It's ok if the goat cheese remains in small chunks. Add mushrooms to milk mixture, but remove the fresh thyme.
Pour milk mixture over leftover bread chunks and let sit for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake bread pudding for 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. Can be served next day.
I went to Jewish day school from pre-school all the way through 12th grade, and looking back, there were definitely some lessons that had a much bigger impact than others. Perhaps my most enduring lesson is one I got way back in kindergarten at Solomon Schechter: challah baking. The teachers guided us through the recipe, and eventually gave each child a small mound of dough to shape into a challah that we took home at the end of the day. We also took home a piece of paper with the recipe typed on it, and it has been my go-to challah recipe ever since.
Since kindergarten I’ve made this challah hundreds of times. I’ve made it on three continents, at four universities, and in half a dozen homes. It never disappoints. I hope it brings as much doughy goodness to your table as it has to mine. Shabbat shalom!
2 packages yeast (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup very warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
8-10 cups flour
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
2 Tablepoons maple syrup (optional)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 beaten egg
Poppy or Sesame seeds
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water from the tap with 1 teaspoon sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil, water and salt. If you'd like a sweeter challah, add honey or maple syrup. For a little spice in your challah, add cardamom and vanilla.
Mix yeast mixture into egg mixture, using beaters, your hands, or the dough hook on a standing mixer. Add 2 cups of flour at a time, mixing between additions (feel free to substitute whole wheat flour for up to 3 cups of regular flour). When the dough gets thick and sticky, turn it out onto a floured counter and knead the flour in by hand. Stop kneading when it seems like the dough will not accept any more flour (usually about 9 cups of flour). Put the dough back in the bowl and cover loosely with a kitchen towel. Let sit for at least 4 hours, up to 8 hours.
After the dough has risen for at least four hours, punch it down, and knead in raisins if you'd like to us them. Then divide the dough into three sections. Each section will be a loaf. Braid or shape the challot however you like. (The Shiksa has a wonderful and very comprehensive guide to braiding and shaping challah dough here.)
Once the loaves are braided or shaped, place them on cookie sheets, and cover loosely with a towel. Allow to rise at least another half hour, preferably an hour. Preheat the oven to 350F. Then, beat an egg, and brush it lightly on each challah, making sure to get the egg wash in all the crevices of the loaf. Sprinkle the tops with poppy or sesame seeds if you wish. Bake the challot for 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top, and are making your kitchen smell like heaven.
The Prime Restaurant Group is really on a roll lately – they are opening a new location for Prime Grill this Spring, changing the menu of Solo from meat to dairy and they just opened their Neopolitan-style pizza spot with Pizza da Solo, located conveniently for the midtown working crowd at 55th and Madison in the Sony building.
Being half Italian, I do consider myself somewhat of a pizza expert. I also worked at a pizzeria during high school, yet another credential which establishes my expertise in pizza consumption. And I have to say, kosher or not, Pizza da Solo was great – super thin crust, balanced flavors and a good selection of interesting topping combos. To achieve an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, they have brought in Giulio Adriani, pizza exert who is the chef and owner of the Forcella restaurants, to serve as a consultant chef to the pizzeria.
I had lunch yesterday a the pizzeria where I chatted with Chef David Kolotkin who shared that even he can’t stop eating the delicious pizza!
Pizza da Solo features a perfectly simple menu of pizzas, calzones and salads. I got to taste three different pizza varieties while I was there, but hands down the standout was the Pizza al Tartufo Olio, a white pizza with truffle oil and arugula. Their sweet tomato sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes and their mozzarella and ricotta is made in-house! In case you were worried, Pizza da Solo has separate kitchen facilities from Prime Grill and Solo, as well as a separate mashgiach. All the dairy used is cholov yisroel.
Ever heard of salad pizza? It’s one of my absolute favorites, and their take includes brie cheese, apples, walnuts, balsamic vinegar over a foccacia pizza. They also have a smoked salmon pizza and a piccante pizza, made with ricotta, mozzarella, jalapenos and cherry tomatoes. Not quite so adventurous? Fear not they have classic margherita pizza and marinara pizza too.
Single Jewish ladies in midtown: you should get yourselves over for some pizza ASAP – during the time I was there the clientele was almost exclusively Jewish men. But maximize your time in line, because even while the place is popular, the wait wasn’t oppressive – the pizza took just 5-10 minutes on average. I’ve waited much longer for a latte at Starbucks.
Overheard from the men next to me? “This is going to be such a hotspot for lunch!” My thoughts exactly.