Happy New Year!!!

September 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, Rosh Hashanah has come and gone, the Jewish new year. HG is an atheist and not fond of religious institutions, holidays, etc. However, HG identifies himself as a Jew and loves Yiddish; sardonic and dark Jewish humor; Jewish food containing an abundance of schmaltz (chicken fat). For a Rosh Hashanah celebratory feast, HG’s late Mom usually prepared long cooked brisket accompanied by kasha (buckwheat groats) smothered in fried onions, garlic and (you guessed it) chicken fat. Challah soaked up the abundant gravy. BSK marked the holiday at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home with a middle eastern feast. Pan broiled kefta (cigar shaped patties of ground lamb flavored with onion, garlic, pine nuts, paprika and herbs); Israeli couscous; buttered yellow beans. HG mixed a big bowl of Greek yogurt and sour cream with olive oil, garlic, cumin, sumac, zaatar, coriander, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Very tasty and festive, If you want to mark a holiday (or any cool day) with brisket, essential reading is “The Brisket Book” by HG/BSK’s talented pal, Stephanie Pierson.

Holiday Feasting (Day Eight)

December 31st, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Warm, sunny, cloudless day. HG/BSK, SJ, EM, Haru and Teru; Gifted Daughter Lesley R., were off to that ornament of Providence, RI, Roger Williams Park Zoo. HG hasn’t visited a zoo in some years and was astonished at the beauty of Zebras, Giraffes, Flamingos, Cranes and Boa Constrictors. Much to the delight of the little ones (and the bemusement of adult viewers), the Elephant performed some necessary functions in what could only be described as elephantine proportions. The group found the lethal grace of the Snow Leopard mesmerizing and the Red Panda hit new heights of cuteness. The zoo, for a few hours,turned our group into children. Happy, wondering children. In the evening, Lesley R. outdid herself in the kitchen and produced a dinner that can only be described as deeply satisfying. Tender brisket in an assertive, rich tomato licked sauce. Ultra-tender Fennel braised in butter and stock. Haricot verts stir fried with shallots and herbs. Moroccan carrot salad, redolent with cumin and cinnamon. And, as a crowning glory, SJ made his state of the art mashed potatoes, a lighter than air balance of potatoes, salt butter and cream. Profesore Massimo R. poured three splendid Italian reds: A Barolo, a Montepulciano and a Chianti. A pause. And, then came desserts: A tart/sweet cranberry tart in a walnut crust (baked by Lesley R.) flan (left over from the previous evening); strudel (baked by friend/neighbor Diane). A big bowl of whipped cream. Vintage port. Grappa. Limoncello.This is the kind of meal HG loves: Abundant, Powerful tastes. Perfect balance of the rich and austere, the bitter and the sweet. The kind of meal Lesley R. produces with no histrionics and little fuss. HG is a proud Pop.

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Paddy Redux

March 26th, 2013 § 4 comments § permalink

Bob C., journalist, publisher, senatorial press secretary, horseman, befriender of burros and a fellow resident of northern New Mexico came to dinner bearing a bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. BSK decided to honor the noble beverage by doing a belated Paddy Day feast. Corned beef. Potatoes. Cabbage. The ingredients got that special BSK twist. The corned beef got some good peppercorn spicing and simmered happily for about three hours. The cabbage was not boiled but stir fried in a manner derived from a James Beard recipe. The potatoes were smashed with chicken stock, olive oil and chopped green onions. The corned beef was accompanied by a parsley sauce that BSK sourced from the remarkable Colman Andrews. This was a puree of parsley, butter, milk, onions, broth from the cooked corned beef and a bit of flour for thickening. (You can find the recipe for the corned beef and the parsley sauce in The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes by Stephanie Pierson, a wise and funny book by a wise and funny writer). HG provided the table with dill pickles, hot mustard, Guinness Stout and Belgian ale. Lots of laughs helped along by after dinner Bushmills indulgence. (If you enjoy penetrating writing and sharp wit, log into Bob C.’s Blog: An Old Gringo’s Gazette.

Endless Feast

December 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Feasting and festivities seem to go together. The Day After Christmas Dinner was a festive feast for a table of 12. And, the dozen members of La Famiglia were of good appetite. Mushroom soup (shitakes, cremini, porcini). Brisket and gravy; haricots vert, kale salad; SJ’s super-buttery, creamy, smooth mashed potatoes. Plus an unusual dish of Middle Eastern carrots (abundant cumin and garlic). Pear Clafouti and whipped cream for dessert. Excellent wines (white and red). Time for confession: HG overdid the pre-dinner vodka and the post-dinner Lesley R.-crafted limoncello. Head and tummy whirled about at bedtime but had eased by morning wake-up. Obviously, the purity of HG’s soul and the organic integrity of Lesley R.’s cuisine banished the toxins.

Passover: Good and Bad Memories

April 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, the great family ritual feast — the Seder — will be celebrated in Jewish and many non-Jewish homes (the Obamas will have a Seder) when Passover comes along this month. Like most great Jewish holidays, Passover and the Seder that goes aong with it exemplifies the theme: “They tried to kill us. They failed. So, let’s eat.”

HG loved the family Seder of his youth. There was gefilte fish (made from scratch by HG’s Mom and served with blazing horse radish hand grated by little HG). Chicken soup with matzo balls (best in the universe). Brisket. Knaidlach (dense matzo meal dumplings that soaked up the lush gravy in the absence of challah or rye bread, forbidden at Passover). Tzimmes (A sweet and tangy carrot stew cooked with honey, ginger and chicken feet. HG was not fond of the chicken feet). Dessert was fruit compote of prunes and apricots plus kosher-for-Passover macaroons. Hot tea served in a glass (HG’s father drank it with a sugar cube clutched in his teeth). Schapiro’s sweet malaga wine was served during the meal along with Horowitz-Margareten matzos (the brand favored by HG’s discerning Mom). Though a life-long Socialist who was skeptical of religion, Hershele Zvi Freimann (HG’s Dad), donned a prayer shawl and yamelkeh (skull cap) for the reading of the Haggadah (Passover prayer book).

The HG family Seder was not a sober affair. There was the aforementioned sweet wine. Little HG was allowed to drink as much of this wine as HG wanted and — foretelling the future — HG wanted a lot! There was also vishniak, a sweet, very potent cherry brandy home brewed by Hershele Tsvi Freimann. HG was allowed only a tiny sip of this fire brew. Best of all, there were the sweet, wrinkled cherries that had been long marinated in the vishniak. HG managed to snare a few of these super-alcoholic goodies which made the little chap a happy and drowsy fellow.

There was a somber note in these festivities. The “blood libel” was very much alive in the Belorussia of HG’s parents youth. The “blood libel” was the claim that Jews killed a Gentile child at Passover because the child’s blood was an essential ingredient in making matzos. This is a claim still being made by some Jihadists, neo-nazis and other rabid Jew haters. HG’s parents both recalled the murderous “blood libel” pogroms in Kishinev, a city in Bessarabia (then part of Rumania). Hundreds of Jews were killed. These dark thoughts were banished from the Seder table by vishniak and the hope that HG, his sister and brother would never experience such horrors.

Victims of the Kishinev Pogrom

Pierson On Brisket

October 16th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Shout it from the rooftops. Let joy be unconfined and laughter relentless. HG’s pal, Stephanie Pierson, has a new book out: The Brisket Book–A Love Story With Recipes. Twelve lively chapters that tell you everything you want to know about delicious, life enhancing brisket. Barbecue. Your Bubbe’s brisket. Simple brisket. Complex brisket. How to cook it. What to eat with it. What to drink with it. What to do with leftovers (Tacos, anyone?). There’s Cuban brisket, Aquavit brisket, brisket in sweet and sour sauce (HG will pass on that one). The publisher is Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC.

The book has a cautionary note about the noble institution of marriage: “You know what marriage is like at the start–all briskets and blow jobs–then it’s downhill from there.”

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