Archive for the 'Bread' Category

Egg Recall and Vegan Banana Bread

The massive egg recall has made many of us stop and think about how many eggs we use and, for some, questioning our use of them at all. According to the New York Times, “A Hen’s Space to Roost” Sunday August 15; 97 per cent of all eggs consumed in the USA are from hens raised in battery cages, six birds to a cage allowing 67 square inches for each hen for her entire life.

What We Used to Eat

This entry is cross-posted at .

 I spent most of the day yesterday on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Not literally.  I was reading Jane Ziegelman’s new book, 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement.  I wanted to know what they ate in the days before Crisco, Cool Whip, corn syrup, and Cocoa Puffs. 

White Flour & Sugar


This essay is cross-posted at http://yourhealthisonyourplate

Have you ever heard anyone say that all you have to do to have a more nutritious diet is to stop eating white flour and sugar?  That seems pretty radical to most people.  What’s the point?  What’s wrong with white flour and sugar?  And what would such a change accomplish?  Simply put, why? 

By now, if you’ve been following the blog regularly, you probably know me well enough to know that I’m not going to say you can never eat white flour and sugar.  I’ll never say never — moderation is my motto.  I think that most people can tolerate a little bit of most things now and then.  But that’s not what’s happening.  Let’s look at what the standard American day looks like, food-wise. 

What’s Wrong With “Wheat Bread”?

This article is crossposted at Your Health is on Your Plate

Most of the time I feel like we’re really making progress.  Patients are looking younger, losing inches, feeling better and decreasing their medications.  Still, not a day goes by that Angie, Barb, Chuck, Doris, Elijah, Fritz, or Gayle doesn’t tell me proudly that they have switched to “wheat bread.”  I thought I covered that, I say to myself.  I thought we discussed the fact that practically all bread is made from wheat.  That buying “wheat bread” is the same as buying “bread.”  That the word “wheat” means nothing in terms of good nutrition unless it is prefaced by the word “whole,” as in “whole wheat.”  That someone is trying to confuse you, and they are succeeding.  That’s when I feel as if I’m climbing a mountain with a Wonder Bread truck tethered to my backpack.

County Fair Season!

See those blue ribbons? My challah (and my husband’s bagels) won those at the county fair last year. Both recipes always turn out reliably scrumptious, which should be enough for any baker, but there is something undeniably, down-home country-satisfying about serving your family and friends “blue-ribbon” baked goods.

Folks looking for Jewish food and culture might not head for the county fair; as Jewish pig farmers, pole benders and log-rolling lumberjacks are rarities in most parts, yet the lure of competition, fancy ribbons and yearlong bragging rights might make you wish to consider participating. That’s right, I suggest you get your apron on and whip, bake, pickle or jar up your Jewish delicacies and head to your county fair. Trust me, your homemade kosher dills will taste even better adorned with a Best of Show ribbon. All you need is a copy of your local fair’s open-class entry form to start planning your submissions.

Yid Dish: Homemade Matzah


“This is the bread of affliction”, my father would drone every Passover as he opened the familiar blue square box. “Matzah is tasteless and dry, not meant to be enjoyed. Eating it should remind you of the sufferings of our people.”  As he went on and on and on with his yearly lecture on the harshness of slavery and unleavened bread I sat there slathering on salted butter, devouring sheet after sheet of crispy goodness. Although bland and stomach binding, this so-called ‘bread of affliction’ was a welcome change to the squishy, faintly chemical smelling Wonder loaves my mother bought the rest of the year. Despite the family mandate that matzah eating required a certain degree of complaining to make it religiously significant, my appreciation for the magical combination of flour, water, and fire was born.

Where I grew up in the Midwest during the 1970’s there were only two kinds of matzah available. Manishewitz and Streit’s. Both perfectly square and almost identical in taste, matzah was matzah; or so I thought. It was not until decades later at a community Seder that I discovered that matzah could be round, organic or made from non-white flour.

Tradition Tested

photo by roland

I’m fascinated when tradition gets tested by modern science and comes out standing.  I’d cheered when acupuncture was shown to be effective for chronic pain.  Now, I’ve learned that America’s Test Kitchen, which publishes Cook’s Illustrated, has subjected challah to its test kitchen experimentation.  The results: pretty much what you’d learned from your mother and grandmother (or would, if you had one).

The best tasting challah is not too sweet, not too dense, not too fluffy and not from the commercial bakeries.  Their results, from the Holiday Baking 2009 issue, included:

YID.DISH: Homemade Pizza


I’m sure that like me, many of you cannot get Hanukah cooking and baking out of your minds!  I will be making potato leek latkes, homemade apple sauce and some chewy ginger cookies tonight.  As you can tell, I’m in full holiday mode!  Anyway, if you are looking for a break from the holiday food maddness I have a great recipe for you!

My birthday was about a month and a half ago.  As much as I enjoy eating out I really wanted to cook my birthday dinner at home with my boyfriend this year.  We decided our main course would be homemade pizza – something neither of us had ever made.  I had heard it was very easy to make but having never made any type of yeast-based bread, I was a bit nervous!

I looked into a few recipes and ended up using one based on a recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers.  I will say that this recipe didn’t make quite enough dough for me.  I think next time I will try this recipe.  The most fun thing about making your own pizza is that you can put anything you want on it (and it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you’d like)!  We were especially proud of our pizzas since the vast majority of the ingredients were local and organic.  I hope you enjoy making your own pizza.  Feel free to leave comments with your favorite topping combination!

Bagel Showdown: New York vs. Montreal


This is a tale of two cities, each with a venerable Jewish culinary legacy that claims boasting rights to the world’s best bagel. Until now, these parallel universes have existed at a safe distance. But Mile End – a new Quebecois-style restaurant opening next month in Brooklyn - will bring the long-standing New York/Montreal bagel standoff to a head. In preparation, I consulted the experts about which “roll with a hole” steals their hearts, and their stomachs.

Read what they said below – and for more on Mile End, check out my article in Edible Brooklyn.

Yid. Dish: Bread Machine Egg Bread

Egg Bread with Avocado

Have an old bread machine hanging around? Want the taste of challah without the effort? I’ve made this delicious egg bread from a recipe in this cookbook. It’s delicious for sandwiches, french toast, regular toast, and dunked into soup.

Kitchen Wisdom from Dara Frimmer


Thanks to Rabbi Dara Frimmer, of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles,  for sharing this sermon with us. Each of the four clergy gave a mini-sermon on a place in the house (“home” is their theme this year) and Dara says “not surprisingly I chose the kitchen.” This piece, Dara says, was in part inspired by her work on the Hazon Food Conference executive committee and the work she’s been doing to create a healthier and more sustainable world for all. Enjoy, and feel free to share your own kitchen memories below.

Yid.Dish: Beer Bread from the Edge of Irony


To participate in the sustainable food movement today is to live on the edge of irony. Especially if you’re taking part in the movement from a seriously urban setting like, say, Washington, D.C.

What do I mean by this? Just look at this summer. Over the past few months, I’ve taken digital pictures of my hands covered in garden soil, emailed for advice on thinning carrots, Googled rustic local farms, and watched a documentary about real food from a plastic seat in an air conditioned theater.

It’s not just me. Recently, more and more small farms, local food organizations, and gardeners have set up blogs or created Facebook groups.

Raising a Good Loaf

Tassajara Bread

Remember back in the day when you told someone you ate mostly vegetables and organic food and they told you they only ate food that tasted good? You’d ask them what wasn’t good about the organic food they’d tasted, and usually they’d describe some sort of hard, seedy, lumpy thing. They’d use the word “brick”.  They’d mime chewing like a mouth on novacain. I’m sorry to tell you, but they’d probably been eating bread at my house.

Here’s what happened: I decided maybe seven years ago that I was going to learn how to make bread, except I didn’t really understand why you would spend all that time shoving it around on a table and punching it  if you didn’t have to. Luckily, there was the Cuban bread recipe in a copy of the New York Times cookbook. That no-knead, no-nonsense bread was an excellent gateway drug, but it was also kind of flat; and when you make it with whole wheat or spelt, it ends up looking sort of like a large, good-smelling cow pie.

D.I.Y. Et Pret A Manger

This blog is not the right place for it, but still, Roger Cohen has really gotten on my nerves over the last year or so.  His ranting about how wonderful Iran is and how great it is for the Jews there made me question my devotion to the New York Times.  His  piece “Advantage France,” in Sunday’s paper, about some of the differences between the French diet and the American diet, may have me beginning to change my mind.  I’ve only spent a few days in France, and only in Paris, but I’m guessing he’s exaggerating somewhat.  Nevertheless, the idea of Americans adopting any diet (or lifestyle, really) that required not only combining the ingredients and cooking them, but processing them to begin with (filleting the fish, making the pasta, etc) does sound beautiful and absurd.  The idea of connecting to food on a “gut” level and a geographic one far predates the terroir of which Cohen writes, at least in Jewish tradition.