Last week I told you about the first pop-up Shabbat, “Shabubbe” which I had the privilege to provide challah and dessert for. But everyone has been asking me this week: “what the heck is a pop-up Shabbat!?”
Pop-up Shabbat is the beautiful brainchild of Danya Cheskis-Gold, and to understand a bit about Danya is to understand how pop-up Shabbat was born. Danya is a natural community-builder and social connector with a warm smile a mile-wide. She’s been a national recruiter at Teach For America, a founding employee at Skillshare, a consultant for early stage startups, and is now the Director of Community at Spark Capital. In New York, she joined the boards of Jewish non-profits, tested out synagogues in Brooklyn and the Upper West Side, but above all the “Jewish stuff” she did, hosting potluck Shabbat dinners for friends was the most fun and meaningful. And so, this is how the idea for pop-up Shabbat came about.
Pop-up Shabbat will be taking place a few times throughout the year, each with its own name (this time – ShaBubbe) , theme and location. The Shabbat dinner-evening-experience is designed particularly for connecting and is “Jewishly sourced,” which Danya defines as “inspired by Jewish culture but can be enjoyed by all.”
When guests first arrived, they were greeted by the music offerings of the Jewbadours, as well as a kvass, gin and orange bitters cocktail made by the talented folks from Gefilteria. And then Danya officially kicked off the evening with words of welcome, a dvar torah and Kiddush.
The first part of the meal itself were some small bites also from the Gefilteria, including pickled watermelon rinds and pickled string beans, as well as their traditional beet borscht.
Chef Melanie Shurka served a variety of Persian flavor-inspired dishes, including two stand-outs: “kuku sabzi,” fritters of fresh parsley, cilantro, tarragon and celery served with labneh yogurt and onions stuffed with ground beef, lentils, rice, herbs, tomato and lime.
The evening took place in the Brooklyn space of Kitchen Surfing. I might have gotten lost once trying to get there, but thanks to my iPhone and a helpful cab driver, I made it in one piece, albeit a bit sweaty.
And of course, challah and dessert was provided by yours truly: rosemary and garlic challah rolls, “everything bagel” challah rolls, and a selection of macaroons. I would like to think they were enjoyed by all, at least from the generous compliments I received from those in attendance. Perhaps my biggest fan of all was the evening’s artful photographer Cait Oppermann who I noticed kept sneaking roll after roll. Thanks Cait!
This was first taste of what I hope will be many other Jewishly inspired Shabbat dinners with new flavors and new friends to meet. In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more about pop-up Shabbat make sure to like the Facebook page for updates or learn more on the website.
I will share that the most exciting part about this first pop-up Shabbat wasn’t even the food – it was celebrating Shabbat in a new way with a group of Jews I had never met before. Somehow we were all connected, either through a shared love of quality Jewish food, or through a social connection. But we were all connected.
For me personally, it’s nice to be out and about with people and my baked goods, as opposed to my usual role here: behind the keyboard. So while I love to connect online, it also feels good to have the chance to meet people, taste delicious, new food and collaborate with other like-minded Jewish-food lovers.
My sister was supposed to join us for Shabbat dinner this week, along with a fellow baker and tweeter, the (original) Jewish American Princess. But sadly, my sister has a commitment at college at the last minute and I had to reschedule until my sister is around to dine with the lovely tweeting princess!
So instead, my former roommate, a hysterical, opera-singing Aussie, and my favorite Persian pal will be joining us for dinner and I wanted to make a super fun menu for them! What says fun more than build your own brisket sandwiches!? Almost nothing I think. Except perhaps for some build your own ice cream sundaes, but I think that will have to wait until Shavuot.
To start, I am serving a simple and refreshing Marinated Cucumber and Dill Salad, one of my family’s favorites, including my 10 month old daughter!
For the main attraction I am serving my Pulled Brisket Sliders served on fresh onion challah rolls. And how can you serve pulled brisket without some classic coleslaw!? Well I will be serving that too.
We need to balance out the the meat and carb factor with some more vegetables, so I will be serving a super easy and delicious side dish, Flash Roasted Broccoli Spears with Spicy Bread Crumbs.
And the sweet finish? I am going to make my classic, go-to chocolate cake from Hersheys. I make this pareve my substituting the milk for almond milk or coconut milk.
Earlier this week I wrote about those Shabbat dinners when you throw together whatever you have lying around in your pantry. And then there are other weeks when you have the time, or occasion, to plan each dish carefully a week or even two weeks in advance – and this week is one of those for me which I actually love.
We are hosting my husband’s parents and siblings this week for dinner, so this called for some advanced planning. Especially with a full week of work for my day job! On Wednesday evening I made the chocolate cake and a marinated cucumber salad like this one from The Food Yenta (I make mine without sour cream).
Thursday night – my husband made his grandmother’s famous salt and pepper noodle kugel while I made my Apple Cider Beef Stew and set the table.
And what’s on tap for Friday’s to-dos? Stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer and two large heads of cauliflower to roast with whole garlic cloves.
For my super simple garlicky cauliflower, I cut up two heads of cauliflower into small florets. In two pyrex pans, spread florets out and drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil in each pan. Sprinkle 1 tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp pepper in each pan. Place 5-6 cloves of whole garlic in each pan. Roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until caramelized. The cauliflower becomes so sweet and delicious its almost addictive.
Happy planning, cooking and Shabbat Shalom!