Spring Flowers and Red Fruit

The flowers we planted at the new house are doing well as are our herbs. The round pot in the background of the picture above contains rosemary and lavender, which remind me of our trip to Provence.

We also planted za’atar. I can’t wait to put some on roasted chicken and in my homemade bread.

Does anyone know what these are called? I know the purple one is a petunia, but I am not sure about the others. I fell in love with them at the nursery. They picture does not show the amazing colors. They are a vibrant orange, vibrant red and vibrant fuchsia.

I just happened to have some sour cherries that were begging to be put into something, so I decided to make a creamy sour cherry clafoutis. This recipe is from one of my favourite food writers, Paula Wolfert, who is an expert on Southwestern French cuisine and Moroccan cuisine. My husband and I were lucky enough to be recipe testers for her new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France. The clafoutis recipe is very easy to make and you can substitute any summer fruit you like. It is also good with apricots or plums.

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Limousin Cherry Clafoutis
Ingredients
  • 300 g 1 pound sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted (optional) and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour plus more for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 50 g 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the dish
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, toss the cherries with all of the sugar except for 1 tablespoon. Spread the cherries out on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-1/2 hours. If you are using frozen cherries, remove them from the box and follow the instructions above.
  2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the 1/2 cup flour and salt. Whisk in the eggs. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the milk with 3 tablespoons of the butter until the butter melts. Whisk the warm milk into the flour mixture just until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk and the cream. Add the Cognac and vanilla, cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
  3. Prebaked Clafoutis
  4. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Butter a 22 cm (9 1/2-inch) deep-dish pie plate or a well-seasoned iron skillet and dust with flour. Spread the cherries in a single layer in the pie plate, adding any sugar from the baking sheet to the cherries. Whisk the batter again and pour it over the cherries.
  5. Bake the clafoutis just above the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set and golden. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

Dinner Under the Stars

The beginning of last week we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. We had delicious dinner in their lovely Sukkah. I forgot to bring my camera, but will update this post when my friend sends me the pictures we took using her camera.

Our friend Miriam makes delicious wines using grapes, other fruits and herbs. We had the honor of having her cabernet sauvignon, strawberry and summer wines, which is made from pea pods. Yes folks, you read it correctly, pea pods. It was delicious and tasted quite fruity; very difficult to describe without sounding a bit pretentious. The strawberry wine was a little fizzy and tasted as if you were biting into a giant, luscious and ripe strawberry. Yum.

We closed the meal with delicious lemon cakes that her daughter made and the Kritika Patouthia biscuits and mango-nectarine sorbet that my husband and I made.

Kritika Patouthia are Greek biscuits from the island of Crete. They are filled with ground almonds, ground walnuts, sesame seeds and honey and are typically rolled in icing (powdered) sugar. I decided that they were sweet enough and omitted the icing sugar. These cookies are delicious and went well with the last of the summer mango-nectarine sorbet. I came up with this recipe when I didn’t have enough mangoes to make sorbet. The nectarines work quite well with the mango and do not get lost with the strong mango flavour.

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Kritika Patouthia
Servings: 5 to 6 dozen
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Orange flower water or orange juice for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Mix together olive oil, water, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add olive oil mixture to flour mixture.
  2. On a floured surface, work and knead to a smooth dough. Cover dough (you can place the empty bowl over it) and let dough rest for an hour.
  3. While dough is resting, make filling.
  4. To Make Filling:
  5. Combine ground walnuts, ground almonds, sesame seeds and honey together in a bowl. Mix until well coated.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  7. Sesame Almond Walnut Filling
  8. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch squares. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in center of each square.
  9. fold up
  10. Moisten edges with orange flower water or orange juice and cover the filling by folding in the four corners and pressing them firmly together in the center.
  11. Bake for about 25 minutes. While cookies are still warm, sprinkle lightly with orange flower water or orange juice and dip in a bowl of confectioners' sugar.

Mango and Nectarine

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Kritika Patouthia
Servings: 5 to 6 dozen
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Orange flower water or orange juice for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Mix together olive oil, water, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add olive oil mixture to flour mixture.
  2. On a floured surface, work and knead to a smooth dough. Cover dough (you can place the empty bowl over it) and let dough rest for an hour.
  3. While dough is resting, make filling.
  4. To Make Filling:
  5. Combine ground walnuts, ground almonds, sesame seeds and honey together in a bowl. Mix until well coated.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  7. Sesame Almond Walnut Filling
  8. Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch squares. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in center of each square.
  9. fold up
  10. Moisten edges with orange flower water or orange juice and cover the filling by folding in the four corners and pressing them firmly together in the center.
  11. Bake for about 25 minutes. While cookies are still warm, sprinkle lightly with orange flower water or orange juice and dip in a bowl of confectioners' sugar.

Erev Sukkot

Wednesday night was the beginning of the seven day festival of Sukkot. The word Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, which means booth or hut. During this holiday, Jews are suppose to build a temporary structure in which to eat their meals, entertain guests, relax, and even sleep. The sukkah can be built of any materials, but its roof must be an organic material, such as palm fronds or tree branches, and it must be partially open to the sky.

On each of the seven days of Sukkot, the Torah requires that Jews should take four species of plants and shake them in a specific manner. These species are: the lulav (date palm frond), hadass (bough of a myrtle tree), aravah (willow branch), which are bound together and collectively referred to as the lulav, and the etrog (a citron, a lemon-like citrus fruit). The shaking of the lulav with the etrog is done in the synagogue and in the Sukkah.

There isn’t really any typical dishes for Sukkot. A lot of people make dishes with fruit, such as quince, pomegranates and apples. I decided to try two new recipes for the evening meal. For the main course I prepared Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob and I prepared a Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust for dessert. Both of the dishes were delicious, but we prefer the other short rib recipe I made for Lag B’Omer.

The quince tart recipe called for one large quince, so I used two medium size ones and it was clearly not enough, but too late to do anything about it, so I topped the quince with two sliced apples.

Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob
(I used thyme instead of rosemary)

Quince Tart with Pistachio Crust

Slice of tart

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Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust
Ingredients
Filling:
  • 4 medium quinces
  • 4 large bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar or 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla
Crust:
  • 60 g 1/3 cup pistachio nuts
  • 100 g 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 75 g 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 150 g 2/3 cup flour
Instructions
  1. Quince and Bay Leaf
  2. Use a mandolin to slice the quince in thin, even slices. Place the quince slices, bay leaves and sugar in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover and simmer until the quince is soft and the water has evaporated. This could take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Pistachio Crust
  4. Place the pistachios in a Cuisinart and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Mix together the nuts, butter, sugar, and flour until it forms into a dough. This is a basic butter crust recipe and it will be a little dry.
  5. Press the dough in a lightly greased tart pan and add the quince filling. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/ 347°F) for 25-30 minutes or slightly brown on the top.

Rosh Hashana 5768

Chag Sameach everyone! I hope you had a nice meal with your family. We went to my cousin’s house for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had a lovely time.

We invited some friends of ours for dinner last night. My husband made a Rosh Hashana favourite and I introduced several new surprises to our repertoire. Everything was delicious.

The cake calls for sour cream and one of my guests has a dairy allergy and can only tolerate butter in baked goods, so I substituted a non-dairy yogurt in its place. It worked fine.

And in case you are wondering about why I served a dairy cake, we keep kashrut according to the Italian tradition which is one hour between meat and dairy.

Our menu was:

Cocktails


Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits


Rosemary Cashews
Cocktails

First Course
Apples with honey
Pomegranate seeds


Ducklava with Chestnut Honey

Main Course


Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
Couscous
Green beans


Round Challah with dried fruits and nuts
Golan Winery Sion Creek red wine

Dessert


Beekeeper’s Honey Cake
Mango-Nectarine sorbet

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Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken cut into eighths
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 4-5 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 cm fresh ginger grated or chopped finely
  • 1 quince cored and cut into eighths
  • 10-20 majhoul dates pitted and cut into quarters
  • 10 dried figs stem removed and cut into eighths
  • 10-20 dried sour apricots cut into quarters
  • 20 walnut halves
  • Couple of pinches of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ c pomegranate molasses
  • ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.
  3. Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.
Print
Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken cut into eighths
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 4-5 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 cm fresh ginger grated or chopped finely
  • 1 quince cored and cut into eighths
  • 10-20 majhoul dates pitted and cut into quarters
  • 10 dried figs stem removed and cut into eighths
  • 10-20 dried sour apricots cut into quarters
  • 20 walnut halves
  • Couple of pinches of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ c pomegranate molasses
  • ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.
  3. Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.

Sweet Break at Work

Every Thursday my team takes a 30 minute break to go to the rooftop and enjoy the fresh air and homemade goodies that each team member, in turn, brings. Sometimes we have the break in the morning, and have breakfast goodies, and sometimes we have the break in the afternoon. We change it around for variety and the last couple of months we decided the theme would be cakes and ice cream. When we had the breakfast round, one of my colleagues brought a gas burner and made omelets. They were delicious.

This week was my turn and since my birthday is at the beginning of next week, I decided to celebrate my birthday and make homemade ice creams and cakes. I prefer cakes without icing and really like cakes or tarts with lots of fruit. So, I decided to make a plum cake, cherry coffee cake, dulce de leche ice cream, and for the adventurous I made pomegranate gelato. Everything was delicious except for the pomegranate gelato. It was terrible. The recipe calls for cornstarch as a thickener, which I have never been able to find in Israel, and so I decided to use an egg yolk instead. It was not enough to form a custard, and I should have added more eggs, but I decided to process it anyway. The gelato didn’t solidify completely, and it had a very funny chalky aftertaste. I am going to try and make a pomegranate sorbet instead.

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Meggyes Piskóta
(Hungarian Cherry Coffee Cake) This cake is moist, chock-full of cherries, easy to make and is delicious. You can make this a day ahead.
Ingredients
  • Softened butter and dried bread crumbs for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sliced natural almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 300 g 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs separated, at room temperature
  • 1 pound sweet cherries pitted (preferably fresh, or use 380g (12 ounces) frozen cherries, unthawed, and bake for a few more minutes)
  • Confectioner's sugar for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat to 375°F. Butter a 13- X 9-inch baking pan, coat with the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess.
  2. Process the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are very finely chopped, almost a powder; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter on high speed in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Using clean beaters and a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed just until they form stiff, shiny peaks. Fold half of the whites into the butter mixture, then half of the almond-flour mixture; repeat with the remaining whites and almond-flour mixture to make a thick batter.
  5. Prebaked Cherry Coffee Cake
  6. Spread evenly in the pan and arrange the cherries in rows in the batter.
  7. Bake until golden brown and until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top. Serve warm or cool completely.

Print
Meggyes Piskóta
(Hungarian Cherry Coffee Cake) This cake is moist, chock-full of cherries, easy to make and is delicious. You can make this a day ahead.
Ingredients
  • Softened butter and dried bread crumbs for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sliced natural almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 300 g 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs separated, at room temperature
  • 1 pound sweet cherries pitted (preferably fresh, or use 380g (12 ounces) frozen cherries, unthawed, and bake for a few more minutes)
  • Confectioner's sugar for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat to 375°F. Butter a 13- X 9-inch baking pan, coat with the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess.
  2. Process the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are very finely chopped, almost a powder; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter on high speed in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Using clean beaters and a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed just until they form stiff, shiny peaks. Fold half of the whites into the butter mixture, then half of the almond-flour mixture; repeat with the remaining whites and almond-flour mixture to make a thick batter.
  5. Prebaked Cherry Coffee Cake
  6. Spread evenly in the pan and arrange the cherries in rows in the batter.
  7. Bake until golden brown and until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top. Serve warm or cool completely.

Print
Meggyes Piskóta
(Hungarian Cherry Coffee Cake) This cake is moist, chock-full of cherries, easy to make and is delicious. You can make this a day ahead.
Ingredients
  • Softened butter and dried bread crumbs for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sliced natural almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 300 g 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs separated, at room temperature
  • 1 pound sweet cherries pitted (preferably fresh, or use 380g (12 ounces) frozen cherries, unthawed, and bake for a few more minutes)
  • Confectioner's sugar for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat to 375°F. Butter a 13- X 9-inch baking pan, coat with the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess.
  2. Process the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are very finely chopped, almost a powder; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter on high speed in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Using clean beaters and a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed just until they form stiff, shiny peaks. Fold half of the whites into the butter mixture, then half of the almond-flour mixture; repeat with the remaining whites and almond-flour mixture to make a thick batter.
  5. Prebaked Cherry Coffee Cake
  6. Spread evenly in the pan and arrange the cherries in rows in the batter.
  7. Bake until golden brown and until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top. Serve warm or cool completely.

Spice up your Life!

I decided to try something new for a change. I have been wanting to play around with warka leaves for sometime now. Warka leaves are a very thin pastry, thinner than phyllo which are used to make Maghrebi savoury and sweet pastries, such as beestiya and cigars. For an good explanation of warka and Algerian cuisine, see my friend, Chef Zadi’s blog.

I also made some clove-cinnamon ice cream. I really love the flavour of cloves and thought it would be an excellent compliment to the peach briwatt. It was. As usual, I doubled the amount of cloves and used about 9 cinnamon sticks. My husband loved the strong clove flavour, but you might want to follow the recipe the first time unless you are a spice junkie like me.

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Peach Birwatt
Ingredients
  • 2 warka leaves also known as brik, brick, dioul and malsouqa
  • 1 peach peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout or cinnamon
  • Sliced almonds
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Thaw out two warka leaves and cover them until ready to use. Place one warka leave on a flat surface and place the slices of one half of the peach onto the bottom half of the warka leaf. Sprinkle some sliced almonds, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of ras al hanout or cinnamon on the peaches. Dot with a pat of butter.
  2. Brush water on the edges of the warka and fold the bottom edge over the peaches and then the sides. The, roll the parcel up until you have a burrito or blintz shape.
  3. Melt the butter and the olive oil in a medium heat pan and fry the parcels until lightly brown on either side. Serve warm with ice cream.

My husband thought the the peach flavour was a bit too subtle for the ice cream, but I liked it. You can use any fruit of your choice, but if you use a harder fruit, such as apple, you might want to sautée them before placing them in the pastry.

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Peach Birwatt
Ingredients
  • 2 warka leaves also known as brik, brick, dioul and malsouqa
  • 1 peach peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout or cinnamon
  • Sliced almonds
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Thaw out two warka leaves and cover them until ready to use. Place one warka leave on a flat surface and place the slices of one half of the peach onto the bottom half of the warka leaf. Sprinkle some sliced almonds, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of ras al hanout or cinnamon on the peaches. Dot with a pat of butter.
  2. Brush water on the edges of the warka and fold the bottom edge over the peaches and then the sides. The, roll the parcel up until you have a burrito or blintz shape.
  3. Melt the butter and the olive oil in a medium heat pan and fry the parcels until lightly brown on either side. Serve warm with ice cream.

"Often Imitated, but Never Duplicated"

This was my Uncle Alfred’s slogan for his restaurant, The Annistonian. My 96-year-old beloved great-uncle died two weeks ago, two days after his birthday. Uncle Alfred was born in Berlin, Germany to a family of butchers. Instead of becoming a professional boxer (he was a junior champion semi-professional boxer in Berlin), he decided to follow in the family footsteps and became a Metzgermeister (master butcher) in 1928.

In June of 1938, Uncle Alfred volunteered to report to the local police station, where he and other men were taken to Sachsenhausen. His family was worried when he did not come back that evening after reporting to the police station and his mother went to the police station to find out what happened to him. She saw a school friend of Alfred’s, who worked at the police station and he promised to find out where he had been taken. Six weeks later, and thanks to his school friend, he was released from Sachsenhausen. When he returned home, his mother told him to leave the country right away. He listened to her and a few days later, through the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Europe (HICEM), he went to Belgium, stayed two weeks, and then made his way to Paris. He eventually went to Marseilles, and started looking for a country that would give him citizenship. He found out that Colombia was accepting immigrants and he obtained passage to Colombia in the fall of 1938.

He worked in gold mines in Colombia for one year and became very sick and almost died. He decided dying of malaria was not going to be his fate and he moved to Bogota, where he worked in various restaurants and then eventually opened a restaurant and butcher shop. After the war was over, he found out that his parents, two brothers and one sister died in Auschwitz. One sister came to Bogota and raised a family and another sister immigrated to the US.

He went to New York in 1951, met my great-aunt Helen at Grossinger’s and in 1953 came to my hometown where he opened a fine-dining restaurant called the Annistonian in 1958. From 1958 – 1976, people came from near and far for his hand-cut steaks, seafood, fish and his pièce de résistance… Wiener Schnitzel.

I wish I had taken the time to learn more about cooking from him. I really regret this now. One of his most amazing feats in the kitchen was that he could carve a turkey and put it back together and you wouldn’t realize it had been carved until you got up close to it. He also made very good strudel and Black Forest cherry cake. When I tried making both of these desserts, he gave me his good housekeeping seal of approval. I was honored.

When I decided to move to Israel, Uncle Alfred called me “his hero”, but he was my hero. He survived the Nazis, moved to a strange country where he had to learn how to work in the gold mines for survival, survived the loss of most of his family, triumphed in Bogota and made a family and a career in the US. To honor his memory, I made a meal.

Uncle Alfred, I will always treasure your great humor, your amazing charm, your delicious food and your great dancing.

The menu was as follows:

Appetizer

Tapenade

Main Course

Wiener Schnitzel

Bratkartoffeln (Home fries)

Spinach

Wine: Wuerttemberg Edition Gourmet Kerner 2004

Dessert

Fig Galette

We began the evening with my husband’s tapenade. He adds just the right amount of garlic to give it that kick. In addition to the usual ingredients he added a little fresh rosemary and oregano. It was delicious.

I have a confession to make, and please do not send me any cards or letters in protest, but my husband hand-cut and pounded a whole turkey breast instead of veal. The veal was 15EUR/20USD per kilo and is just over our budget right now. If you do happen to make this with turkey, do not marinate it in lemon juice.

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Bratkartoffeln
Ingredients
  • 2.5 kg 4-5 lb. potatoes, waxy potatoes
  • 250 ml 1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon good Hungarian hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley optional
Instructions
  1. Parboil the potatoes until tender, but still firm. Let cool and then cut into 1/8inch/3mm slices.
  2. Sauté the onions gently in the olive oil until translucent. Add the paprika and let the onion take on its color and taste. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown and slightly crispy. Season with salt and pepper and heat everything through.

The trick to making good home fries is to use waxy, firm potatoes. Do not use baking potatoes. Peel them and parboil them either the day before or earlier in the day.

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Bratkartoffeln
Ingredients
  • 2.5 kg 4-5 lb. potatoes, waxy potatoes
  • 250 ml 1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon good Hungarian hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley optional
Instructions
  1. Parboil the potatoes until tender, but still firm. Let cool and then cut into 1/8inch/3mm slices.
  2. Sauté the onions gently in the olive oil until translucent. Add the paprika and let the onion take on its color and taste. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown and slightly crispy. Season with salt and pepper and heat everything through.

Fresh from Oven

The fig galette was easy to prepare, but make sure that you place the tart on a rimmed cookie sheet, otherwise you will have a mess in your oven.

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Bratkartoffeln
Ingredients
  • 2.5 kg 4-5 lb. potatoes, waxy potatoes
  • 250 ml 1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon good Hungarian hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley optional
Instructions
  1. Parboil the potatoes until tender, but still firm. Let cool and then cut into 1/8inch/3mm slices.
  2. Sauté the onions gently in the olive oil until translucent. Add the paprika and let the onion take on its color and taste. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown and slightly crispy. Season with salt and pepper and heat everything through.

Your Great-Great Grandfather’s House is Still Standing!

These are the words of an email that I read in shock last April.

I received an email via JewishGen from a man from my paternal great-grandmother’s hometown, Giershagen, Hochsauerland, Nord Rhein-Westphalia, Germany. He asked if he could be of assistance and I wrote him back. We exchanged a few emails and after I explained who I was and which relative lived in Giershagen he proceeded to tell me that my great-great-grandfather’s house and the synagogue that he attended are still standing. I cried. I lived in Germany for two-half years, rather close to Giershagen and never went there. Okay, I was young and stupid.

Since my job takes me to Germany every 3-4 months, I decided on the next trip I would drive up to Giershagen. Fortunately, my husband was able to join me for the weekend.

David and I drove for almost 3 hours to the beautiful Hochsauerland village of Olsberg and stayed at a lovely hotel recommended by our host, Wolfgang.

Olsberg is 30km from Giershagen. While we were driving on dark winding roads at night, my husband remarked, “Leave it to your family to live in the middle of nowhere!”, but when he woke up the next morning and saw the beauty of the area, he said that he understood why our family lived here. It is green and hilly and really picturesque.

Wolfgang met us at our hotel for breakfast and then our journey began. First, at his lovely home, where he showed me letters, newspaper clippings and photographs of the area. Some of the letters were quite humorous. One of them was from a woman originally from Giershagen who heard from a distant relative that one of my great aunts had grown very fat! It reminded me of living in my hometown.

We then stopped in the village of Padberg to see the synagogue where my great-great grandfather, nicknamed Chicken Opa, prayed and had to walk 7km one way to get to. I found out that he would walk to synagogue and walk right back. Walking 7 km was “no big deal” back then. We walk 2 km to our synagogue.

The synagogue is the oldest half-timbered (fachwerk) synagogue in Westphalia, first mentioned in 1751, and is on the property of a local farmer. The Jews in Beringhausen, Giershagen, Helminghausen, Madfeld, Messinghausen and Roesenbeck were all members of the Padberg synagogue.

The synagogue is so tiny. Maybe 30 men could sit on the ground floor and 15 women on the top floor. It was quite emotional being in the synagogue, I could almost see people praying there…I felt their presence. The synagogue survived Kristalnacht in 1939 because the building was sold in 1932 when the congregation could no longer get a minyan together. The synagogue was made into a memorial and small museum in 1999. Some of the prayer books, a mezuzah and other artifacts are on display.

After looking at all of the pictures, architectural drawings and prayer books in the synagogue we headed to the cemetery in Beringhausen where some of my family are buried. The cemetery is located on a hill in the middle of the forest. It is a beautiful resting place.

The cemetery has 38 tombstones dating from 1862 to 1932. Some of the tombstones were turned over during the war, but the town of Marsberg put the stones in their proper place after the war.

Our first stop in Giershagen was to see the Jewish path. The 7 km path through forest and up and down hills to the Padberg synagogue. It wouldn’t have been fun to walk that in the rain or snow, but I want to go back and do the walk. It must be a beautiful walk in good weather. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos of this. There is even a marker at the beginning of the path that says Judenpfad or Jewish Path.

We went to visit a neighbor of Chicken Opa who was about 6 or 7 when my great-great grandfather left in 1937. Chicken Opa baby-sat him from time to time while his parents tended their fields. He had nothing but fond memories of going to his house. He told us that Chicken Opa had the largest apple tree in the village and that he could play and make as much noise as he wanted, except when Opa was praying. He also told us that when the house was sold to someone else, he went over and got a sausage hanging rack that Opa used to hang the beef sausages he made.

He then asked to be excused for a minute and he came back to the room with this:

He explained that Chicken Opa bought a Leica camera before he left Germany and he gave him the box with some money before my great-great grandfather, one daughter and my grandparents left for Alabama in December 1937. I was quite moved that he still had this box. It was all I could do to keep from crying. I was speechless. He was also teary when he told us how sad he and his family was when Chicken Opa left. He then gave me a glass with the crest of Giershagen on it and we said good-bye. It was really a lovely meeting and I hope to spend more time with him the next time I go back.

Then, we left his house and stood in the street and saw the one thing that brought me here in the first place, the house:

The house has been completely renovated and looks nothing like the original one in the picture below, but I know that the heart of the home is still there and Chicken Opa is smiling somewhere knowing that I went back to see where his life began.

Solomon Freibaum, a.k.a Chicken Opa, left his home and all his possessions at the age of 81 to go to a country where he didn’t speak the language, that didn’t have kosher food for him and didn’t pray like he did. But he lived to the ripe old age of 88. My grandfather told me a lovely story about him. Chicken Opa was Orthodox and he always wore a kippah and a hat when he went to synagogue in Germany. The first time he went to the ultra-reform (at the time) synagogue in my hometown he wore his kippah and hat. He noticed that no one was wearing a kippah let alone a hat and he removed them. My grandfather said, “Opa, it is ok; you can keep your hat on.”, to which he replied, “Child, I pray with my heart, not with my hat.”

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