Kosher Blog

Brooklyn Bar-B-Que Benefit

If you find yourself in Brooklyn, NY on Tuesday, July 14th, come to the First Annual Glatt Mart Kosher BBQ, to benefit Project Mazon – a project of the Marine Park JCC.

Project Mazon is a program in which families who cannot afford groceries, receive a weekly $50 credit at local grocery stores towards their orders. The objective of this program is to unite as one community and pool our resources so that we can help all families, that are in need, both those who daven in your shul, and all the other Marine Park shuls.

For more info, visit their website.

@kosherblog: Now on the Twitters

In 2003, before I started the Kosher Blog, I thought blogging was pretty dumb. Who needed to follow the minute details of angst-ridden teenagers living in their mothers’ basements? Eventually, I realized that blogging could be used constructively, both as a means for personal record-keeping and a way to connect with others around common interests — and the Kosher Blog was born.

When Twitter invaded teh Internets, my response was the same — who needed to follow the minute details of angst-ridden teenagers compressed into 140 measly characters? Besides, I post personal status updates on Facebook — wasn’t Twitter redundant?

Over Shabbos, when I explained my aversion to Twitter to my friend Bobby, he lamented his inability to follow my kosher escapades, e.g. “Found great avocados at Haymarket this morning.” Then, it was obvious.

You’re all aware that I’ve been largely absent from the blog for the last couples years. After work and fatherly duties, my creative energies are sapped. But I do miss the dialog we have here, and I’ve often wished for a simpler way to share what’s been going on in my kitchen.

So I’m hoping the answer is Twitter. The bar for posting is much lower than on a blog; I realize that will mean less substantive content, but I see it as mainly a bridge to another phase in my life when I can devote the kind of effort necessary to write and photograph at a respectable level.

My five most-recent updates will appear in the sidebar here, and you can follow me (”kosherblog”) directly on Twitter.

Despite being a tech guy, I’m still new to all this — any advice or encouragement will be appreciated!

Not-Quite-Yogurt Sauce

This past Shabbat we had a bunch of friends over for dinner, including a couple of vegetarians. Although I am usually delighted to make a vegetarian meal, given the size and makeup of the crowd I opted for a chicken main course. Every other dish (including a Moroccan-style chickpea stew served over couscous, as an alternate protein) was vegetarian friendly, but one of the vegetarian guests offered to whip up a batch of zucchini fritters in my kitchen as well. “I usually serve this with a dill-yogurt sauce,” he said. Alas – no yogurt with chicken.

So we improvised a lovely pareve (and vegan!) substitute for his yogurt sauce. Not only did it go nicely with the zucchini fritters, but it was wonderful drizzled over the chickpeas as well. I look forward to making a variation (without the dill or garlic) as a base for a pareve raita some time in the future.

“Yogurt” Sauce with Dill and Garlic

  • about 3/4 lb silken tofu (do not use soft or firm)
  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup unsweetened rice milk
  • juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • a generous pinch or two of salt
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed (frozen is fine, but do not use powder)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped dill
  1. Combine tofu and 1/3 cup rice milk in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add more rice milk, a little at a time, until sauce is just a bit thicker than desired.
  2. Add lemon juice and salt and process until completely blended. Taste – it should taste more or less like yogurt that has been thinned with a little water. Add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  3. Add garlic and dill and process until fully combined.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour to let flavors mingle. May be stored in the refrigerator for a few days; if it starts to curdle a bit, just mix well until smooth.

Kosher as a Marketing Ploy: Agave 99

As reported in the New York Times, Star Industries has released Agave 99 – Tequila with certification from the OU. The owner of Star Industries doesn’t hide the fact that “It’s a marketing gimmick,” and the Times points out “that there are actually a number of kosher tequilas already out on the market”. I guess if we can have Kosher certified bottled water, we might as well have certified Tequila. I can’t see Tequila winning over the ‘kiddush-club’ crowd – maybe in Jewish-Latino synagogues?

Pomegranate (with pics) and Last-minute Wine Recs

Certainly I should have posted this before today, but here’s a little something to take you in Pesach. Also, it appears that both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal chose to skip their annual pre-Pesach Kosher wine columns this year (However, WSJ had a piece on Kosher riesling in late March).

I attended a couple of pre-Pesach wine “expos” (they’re too big to be tastings, really) and make the following recommendations, focusing on wines I haven’t seen or tried before to give you something new to try:

  • Binyamina Special Reserve Cabernet 2005 (Israel, Galilee) A big, bold cabernet that, as a fan of Israeli cabernet, I really enjoyed. It has great fruit and finish.
  • Segal’s Dishon Cabernet 2005 (Israel, Galilee) A complex and interesting wine that is sure to delight cabernet fans who have been getting a bit bored by their big cabs lately.
  • Galil Mountain Viognier 2007 (Israel, Galilee) I love Galil Mountain’s wines (their Yiron blend is a true favorite) and this white is a nice addition to their catalog. You can also check out Dalton’s vigonier. Both are vividly flavorful.
  • Tabor Galil Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Israel, Galilee) A flavorful, pleasing sauvignon blanc that will be a hit with white wine fans and those of us prefer reds, but look for something to go a bit better with chicken, fish, etc.
  • Chateau Le Clare 2005 (France, Bordeaux/Medoc) I’ve never been a huge fan of Bordeaux, but have made a point of trying more of them and learning more. This is a bright, flavorful wine that leaves out much of the earthy (barn-like) scent of Bordeaux, while preserving a “green” taste to the wine.
  • Chateau Rollan de By 2003 (France, Bordeaux/Medoc) Similar to the Ch. Le Clare, this Bordeaux is not very earthy, but is also a bit tight for my taste. I expect that some time/aerating would coax it open and make it into a very enjoyable wine.
  • Vina Encina 2004 (Spain, Ribera del Jucar) This blend of 35% Tempranillo, 35% Bobal, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon is a nice addition to a growing group of interesting and often excellent Kosher wines from Spain.
  • Carmel Vintage (Port-style) (Israel) As a fan of port, I found this offering by Carmel to be a bit long on sweetness and short on the alcohol bite that I like in my port, but it is a nice addition to the small world of Kosher port-style dessert wines. That said, I think Carmel needs to find a way to bring the price down.

I also had the opportunity to check out Pomegranate recently. Steven posted on the store when it opened. You can see various peoples’ thoughts from the comments to that posting. I did not do a thorough price comparison with other stores, but what I saw was commensurate with other Kosher product pricing. What impressed me were the size, cleanliness, organization and selection. Having grown up in the suburbs, I am used to large supermarkets with wide aisles, but that is one of many tradeoffs we make living in New York City. As you can see from the pictures, Pomegranate’s aisles are wide and the store is very clean and bright. The meat counter and packaged meat section are, frankly, beautiful, and the prepared foods looks great. Living on the Upper West Side, I have a access to a few Kosher supermarkets and ample Kosher food at other stores, but there is something very nice about a full-service/full-selection supermarket where everything is Kosher. I won’t be going out of my way to get there often, but it was worth the time to check it out.

An alternative to kosher salt…

From Examiner.com:

You’ve heard of kosher salt? Now there’s a Christian variety.

Retired barber Joe Godlewski says he was inspired by television chefs who repeatedly recommended kosher salt in recipes.

“I said, ‘What the heck’s the matter with Christian salt?’” Godlewski said, sipping a beer in the living room of his home in unincorporated Cresaptown, a western Maryland mountain community.

By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available at http://www.memphi.net, the Web site of Memphis, Tenn.-based seasonings manufacturer Ingredients Corporation of America.

Read the full article, here. And no, this isn’t a Purim post.

Rami’s launches website, online ordering

The dean of Middle Eastern food in Brookline has launched a new website at ramisboston.com, advertising Rami’s menu, story, and online ordering (provided through Night Owl Deliveries). It’s built with refreshingly clean HTML, to boot. I was also pleased to notice that Moroccan cigars have made their way onto the menu.

For those of you who haven’t enjoyed kosher delivery through Night Owl before, I say give it a try. A few weeks ago, on a bitterly cold workday, my colleagues and I placed a Rami’s order through Night Owl and received our deliciously hot lunches within an hour. (Bonus: credit cards accepted.)

While you’re here, check out our 2005 submission to the TasteEverything.org Independent Food Festival, in which the Kosher Blog awarded Rami’s shawarma the honor of “Best Surreptitious Use of Turkey Meat.”

Hmm, maybe some shawarma for dinner tonight?

Tu B’Shvat Recipe Challenge

Sunday night will mark the start of Tu B’Shvat, the holiday commonly referred to as “Rosh HaShana for the Trees”. In countless homes, young children are practicing what must be the only song that yeshivot teach for this holiday (”HaShkediya Porachat” – The Almond Tree is Blooming. I suggest this alternative, by Shlock Rock), as the demand for Israeli dried fruit skyrockets.

Tu B’Shvat happens to be a holiday without a culinary identity – at least not beyond eating loads of dried fruit. I covered the Bible Bar in a previous year – the snack with all of the Seven Species in it. It wasn’t bad, but it’s time for something new. Do you have a recipe that you identify with Tu B’Shvat? How about a recipe that uses all of the Seven Species? Wheat, Barley, Grapes, Figs, Dates, Olives & Pomegranate. Be creative!

25% off La Briute Meals

I tried the La Briute turkey meal early in the blog’s history, and thought it was absolutely vile. However, I understand how useful these self-heating MREs can be to travelers, so this coupon should help.

From dealnews.com:

Amazon.com takes 25% off La Briute Meals with no minimum required via coupon code “LABRUIT4″. It’s among the best grocery coupons we’ve seen from Amazon.com in recent months. Plus, free shipping applies to orders of $25 or more. Deal ends February 28.

Fish Chowder, Take 2

Long time readers of the Kosher Blog may be familiar with one of my earliest posts, a slightly simplified version of Legal Sea Foods’ fish chowder. I’ve had about five years to tinker with the it and measure things more carefully; I offer now version two of the recipe, particularly suited to this particularly cold and snowy New England winter.

Two alterations of note: I now recommend either Tabatchnick or Trader Joe’s clear vegetable broths. They’re far, far thinner than the Imagine or Pacific vegetable soups (which are more like purees), and have a nice, clean flavor with a slightly peppery tang. Also new to the recipe is a bit of dry white wine to spice it up a bit.

New England Fish Chowder

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 1.5 quarts

  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 C diced onion (about 1 largish onion)
  • 1/4 C finely grated carrot (about 1 small carrot)
  • 1 tsp. freshly crushed garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/3 C flour
  • 3 C clear vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C dry white wine, like sauvignon blanc
  • 1/8 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cans of small white potatoes, quartered (optional)
  • 2 lb. white fish (cod, haddock, scrod), cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 C light cream
  • 1/4 C grated Monterrey Jack cheese (or other creamy variety)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onions, carrots, and garlic in it, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the flour. Return to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the vegetable broth, water, and wine and heat in a large pot or in the microwave (on high for about 5 minutes).
  4. Whisk the stock into the flour mixture. Add the potatoes, sage, and salt.
  5. Bring the liquid to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce the heat to simmer.
  6. Add the fish, and simmer about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cream and the cheese, and simmer until the cheese is incorporated into the chowder, about 5 minutes. Reheat the chowder gently so the cream doesn’t boil.
  8. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread, or in a bread bowl, alongside a lemony salad. Can be refrigerated for a few days, or frozen much longer.