Archive for the 'Parve' Category

Pareve Peach Pie

This entry is also posted on Dr. Sukol’s blog, Your Health is on Your Plate.

About a year ago, a friend of mine got interested in the raw food movement.  Raw foodists prefer their food, as advertised, raw.  Uncooked.  She said it changed her life.  OK, lots of people say stuff like that.  But I have to admit that I see the difference – she is more relaxed, and brimming with beauty and energy.  Four kids?  No problem!

Yid.Dish: Chilled Peanut-Sesame Noodles

This is a wonderful Parve side dish that I’ve been making for the past five years. Ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you it’s a favorite at home. (My dad especially loves it). This recipe is simple and delicious and can be made up to a day in advance.

Postville, Procter & Gamble, And The Problem With Pareve Margarine

The raid on the kosher meat-processing plant in Postville, Iowa, threw us a bone in the shape of a vigorous new debateon whether it is fitting and proper to designate as “kosher” products made without regard for animal welfare, fair wages,and the environment. To these I would add human health. What does it mean to approve the manufacture and distribution of products that are known to compromise the health of those who consume them? Is there a distinction to be made between contaminantsthat do their work quickly, like salmonella, and those whose destructive effects are slow and cumulative, like trans fats?

Yid.Dish: Seitan Feijoada (yup, it’s Kosher and Vegan)

seitan fejioada

My boyfriend is Brazilian.  To look at him you’d probably think he was Middle Eastern, with his dark complexion.  He speaks with an American accent that is very South Florida, but none-the-less he was born in Brazil.

Last week for no particular reason I wanted to surprise him with a Brazilian inspired meal. However, most Brazilian cuisine involves meat or fish – two things my boyfriend is loath to eat.  (We do occasionally eat humanly raised grass-fed local sustainable meat, but he finds seafood appalling.)   Feijoada, considered the national dish of Brazil consists of black beans slow cooked with various parts of the pig.  Since my boyfriend loves meatless rice and beans, so I decided to get creative.

On the Internet I researched various feijoada recipes, which mostly relied on lots of salt and pork and very little other flavoring unless you count the beef bits.  But how could I keep things kosher and compete with recipes that look like a butcher shop in a pot?  There were a lot of vegetarian black bean recipes online, but this needed to be more than just rice and beans, I needed to make this complex and interesting to call it feijoada.  So I explored the Internet for some more tastes of Brazil.

Yid.Dish: Aviva Allen’s Spicy Potato Latkes


Organic Kosher Cookbook

If you are looking for a Chanukah gift for a foodie (say… yourself!), or some new recipes for any of the Jewish holidays, then there’s a new book out that will be of help. Aviva Allen, author of the 2007 The Organic Kosher Cookbook, has just released a Holiday Edition. Ms. Allen provided me with a free copy for this interview and review.

Battle of The Milk Alternatives

 

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It’s sort of funny when two worlds collide unexpectedly, especially when one comes to the aid of the other. Take for example my recent search for the perfect milk alternative. I don’t dislike good ol’ cow’s milk, nor am I allergic to it. But as an observant Jew, I often find myself at odds with the fridge staple, usually after I’ve just enjoyed a delicious turkey sandwich.  I am what some would call a Fleish-a-phobe: I rarely eat meat if I can avoid it out of dread for the five hours and one minute to follow, when I will be barred from my favorite treats: ice-cream, chocolate, cheese, milk-based pie, the list goes on.

And so I’ve spent some time searching for that perfect alternative, that wondrous, dairy-free concoction that will replace milk in my cookie recipe and help me whip up the perfect pareve pumpkin pie.  Recently, my best friend and I (with both health and Halacha in mind) unofficially took it upon ourselves to taste-test every non-milk available to us, from various brands of soymilk to the less orthodox (and rarely Kosher) hemp milk, with varying results.

Yid.Dish: Beer Bread from the Edge of Irony

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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.

Yid. Dish: Apple Butter

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My family are not big jam eaters. We’ve got assorted jars of various home-made kumquat and quince jams that friends have given us over the past year or so in the back of the fridge. Still, when the fruit on our little old apple tree is showing the first blush of red – before it turns mealy and gets attacked by bugs – I can’t resist cooking up a batch of apple butter and handing it out. Just the smell of simmering apples and spices sends me back to my early childhood in Minnesota and the giant apple tree in our backyard that had seven different varieties grafted on to it. My Mom would spend hours each fall stirring big pots of applesauce and apple butter to put up for the winter.

Yid.Dish: Potato Salad, and Everyone Loves a Loophole

potato salad

As a high school student at my Jewish Day School, I fancied myself a little rebel. Pajama pants beneath long skirts. Adidas in spite of the no-sneakers dress code. Briefly, a safety pin in one ear. (My parents loved that.) I wasn’t the only one –- with the safety pin, OK, yes, but my friends dressed similarly –- yet rarely, if ever, did these infractions cause trouble. “You got away with murder,” my mother recalls, with admiration. “You and your friends.”

We did. I think the reason – aside from being nice girls from good families – is because we respected the letter of the law, but found our own way around it. In other words, we constantly searched for loopholes — a word that Merriam-Webster defines as “a means of escape, especially : an ambiguity or omission in the text through which the intent of a statute, contract, or obligation may be evaded.” (I also like, and did not know until this posting, that loophole can mean “a small opening through which small arms may be fired.”)

In my adult life, my interest in Judaic loopholes has found expression through my obsession with dishes that Taste As Though They’re Traif, or Should Be.

Yid.Dish: I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Dairy Chocolate Cake

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I had my sweet “eureka!” moment in the health food store yesterday, more specifically in the canned goods aisle. With a glance at a can of coconut milk, all my non-dairy dessert dissatisfaction just fell away.

My devotion to dessert is almost religious. I believe that no good meal is complete without a sweet ending, and that chocolate sometimes does the job better than sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll.  However, I often fall short in the dessert department when preparing a meat meal, meaning: my parve desserts aren’t spectacular.  I have been tinkering with non-dairy chocolate cake recipes for a while, but until now always felt somewhat dissappointed with the results.  One version wasn’t nearly chocolatey enough, another was throat-sticking dry, and how about the one with the weird sawdust aftertaste?…. And then, alas, there was this chocolate number.  Rich, endlessly chocolate, dense, and moist, this cake makes me retract my earlier declarations that baking without butter is just a waste of time.  The coconut milk gives this cake creaminess and heft without being coconutty in flavor, and the Trader Joe’s parve chocolate chips lends it a deep dark chocolate-ness.  The chocolate glaze is optional, but my theory is if you’re having dessert- have dessert.

Yid. Dish: Tahina

tahina

Tahina, the thick, brownish-gray paste of ground sesame seeds, is one of the latest foods to turn “gourmet” – at least in Israel. If supermarkets once sold only one brand of tahina, today it comes in squeeze bottles and glass jars with fancy labels; brands with Arabic on their labels proclaiming their “authenticity” vie with the all-Hebrew labels of the standard brand. (As far as I know, however, Melo Hatene is the only place to actually offer tahina tasting — the ultimate sign of a gourmet food.)

Not-So-Sweet Cookie Story

This is the final installment of a three part series. Click here to learn how to win her new book There Shall Be No Needy.

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In my childhood, Shabbat never felt complete without Stella D’Oro cookies. For the uninitiated, these are dry cookies whose chief (or only) advantage is that they are parve (dairy free) and therefore can be eaten for dessert after a meat meal. I was especially partial to the Swiss Fudge flavor, which featured a dollop of chewy fudge in the middle of an otherwise-bland cookie if you nibbled away the outside first, you could enjoy a few bites of pure fudge at the end.

I have since stopped eating meat and have learned to bake, thereby eliminating the need for parve supermarket cookies, but still have a soft place in my heart for Stella D’Oro. I was therefore upset to hear recently that workers at the cookie-maker’s Bronx factory went on strike this past summer, and even more upset that this strike has attracted (as far as I can tell) virtually no notice in the Jewish community.

In 2006, Brynwood Partners bought Stella D’Oro from Kraft Foods. As soon as the contract of the existing 136 workers ran out in the summer of 2008, the new management demanded that the workers accept pay cuts of up to 26% and begin contributing to their health insurance plan. The workers scheduled to bear the brunt of this pay cut would be the women who package the cookies. (Brynwood has classified certain jobs – mostly those held by men as “skilled”
and subject to smaller paycuts) The workers walked out in August.

How Do You Mark Your Passover Kitchen?

Until last year, my mother did the bulk of the Passover preparations in our family, which of course included tons of cooking before and during the holiday. We keep a kosher kitchen, and in the basement my family has boxes and boxes of pots, pans, dishes and kitchen utensils only for use on Passover. There are two full sets of everything, so we can make both meat and dairy meals, and my mother had a system that involved dots of various colors of nail polish to delineate the milk and meat dishes (pink for meat, silver for dairy).

Well Labeled Kitchen

Unfortunately, nail polish chips off, especially after years of use, and the system seems to have been less scientific than we previously thought. As my sister and I forged through the first few days of Passover without my mother we found a puzzling array of kitchen supplies marked in a variety of perplexing ways. Some pots were marked with both pink and silver dots. Spoons and serving utensils sometimes sported a P written in permanent marker. Does this mean that it was pareve, or simply that it was set aside for Pesach? Some containers and pots had been marked with Ms, but that can imply either milk or meat. Many things gave no hints to their gender whatsoever. Cooking felt like a giant guessing game as we reached into boxes of supplies and hoped to find something that we recognized as definitively meat, dairy or pareve.

Out of Taste, Out of Mind?

Before, during and after the beginning of each month (Rosh Hodesh,) we make statements and prayers related to miracles.  On Rosh Hodesh Adar and Rosh Hodesh Nisan, it is particularly easy to see why.  Each month is marked by a holiday (Purim and Pesach, respectively) celebrating and commemorating miracles.  Almost every Jewish holiday or festival falls in the middle of the month and Rosh Hodesh marks the time when you’d better start getting ready for the upcoming holiday.  If you aren’t thinking about Pesach (Passover) yet, you haven’t been reading this blog much and you have some catching up to do.  The traditional observance of Pesach involves learning a lot of rules, cleaning a tremendous amount, inviting a lot of guests and a whole lot of cooking.

But Rosh Hodesh Nisan has another function, too.  In some communities, no Matzah is to be eaten from RH Nisan onward, in order to whet our appetites for Matzah at the Seder.  In other communities, this practice begins only the day before the Seder, but it is a lot more dramatic done the first way, and I have always had some questions about it.  I think this year I’ll follow the longer practice.  Did I mention Rosh Hodesh Nisan is tonight and tomorrow?