Archive for November, 2010
My mother emailed me that I mentioned in Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that Russian Jews serve barley soup with sour cream on Hanukkah and if I could furnish a recipe. Ok, and Happy Hanukkah!
“And when Gideon arrived, behold, there was a man (a Midianite) telling his fellow, saying, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came unto the tent, and smote it that it fell, and turned it upside down, that the tent fell.” And his fellow answered: “This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: into his hand God has delivered Midian and all the host.”
– Judges 7:13-14
The Bible records an ancient Midianite’s dream in which the symbol of his Israelite opponents and their agricultural lifestyle, as opposed to his own nomadic existence as symbolized by the tent, was the most widely cultivated crop in Israel at that time — barley. Barley (Hordeum), possibly a native of Israel and one of the seven species associated with the land’s blessing (Deuteronomy 8:8), is arguably the world’s most ancient cultivated plant; only millet may surpass it in antiquity. Barley is mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphics dating back some 7,000 years, in Sumerian tablets around the same time and in Indian and Chinese sources shortly thereafter. In all of those areas, barley became one of, if not the, most important grain.
The barley harvest begins in early spring and, in Temple times, the first sheaf was used for the omer offering on the second day of Passover. Although barley’s value was generally half that of wheat (II Kings 7:1), since it grows under rather poor conditions, it served as the bulk of the army’s diet (II Samuel 17:28) as well as that of the common person. Indeed, the importance of barley in Biblical times can be seen from an injunction stating that the valuation of a field was to be determined according to the measurement of barley that could be sown in it (Leviticus 27:16).
When ancient Mesopotamians left their barley gruel sitting around for too long, they would inevitably return to find that it had soured, a process that we now call fermentation. Never want to waste any food, some intrepid soul sampled the strange smelling mush and found it intriguing as well as alcoholic. Thus was born one of the world’s earliest and still one of the most popular beverages — beer. Trial and error soon led to improvements in brewing techniques and beer became an indispensable part of life in the Fertile Crescent. The early and important role of beer can be seen through its mention in the most ancient Mesopotamian tablets. Hammurabi’s Code dictates laws concerning its sale. Early man found brewed grain beverages generally safer to drink than water, which was all too often tainted. And when food was scarce, primitive beer provided an important source of nutrition. One theory claims that beer was an essential element in the early progress of mankind — that beer, along with bread, provided the calories and nutrition necessary to fuel the development of civilization.
Shortly after the Roman conquest of Israel, wheat emerged as the primary grain of the land and barley was thereafter reduced to being poor man’s food and animal fodder. However, for the masses of Southern Europe, barley remained the primary source of bread until the sixteenth century. The situation has shifted dramatically over the past few centuries and today barley is generally overlooked as a food and is primarily used as the essential ingredient in beer and many whiskies. Sephardim and Western Europeans basically ignore barley in their cooking, while Eastern Europeans generally reserve it for hearty fare such as soup and cholent.
Spas (Russian Barley and Yogurt Soup)
(6 to 8 servings)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable or olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (2 cups/480 ml/8 ounces/225 grams)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) chopped parsley
2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) dried marjoram
2 sprigs fresh or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried rosemary
6 cups (1.5 liters) water
1 cup (240 ml/6.5 ounces/180 grams) pearl barley
3 medium (about 3 ounces/85 grams each) carrots, chopped
10 ounces (285 grams/1 large) boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (480 ml) plain yogurt
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and, if desired, celery, and sauté until softened (about 10 minutes). Add the parsley, rosemary, marjoram, and sauté for 1 minute.
2. Add the water, barley, carrots, potatoes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the barley is tender (about 45 minutes). Add the salt and pepper.
3. Stir the egg into the yogurt. Stir into the soup and heat through — do not boil.
Substitute 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream for the yogurt and egg.
Here are a few new articles about my new book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
“His latest book is much more than a Jewish cookbook. It goes way beyond that, with an encyclopedic format including the story and history of Jewish cooking…. Both a comprehensive resource and fascinating reading, this book is perfect for Jewish cooks, food enthusiasts and anyone interested in the Jewish history of food. “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food” is an informative, eye-opening guide to the culinary heart and soul of the Jewish people…. For anyone interested in Jewish cooking, culture or history, this book is a must for your home library.”
“The 636 page Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is a cookbook – reference book for anyone’s shelf. “
“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food – the Hanukkah gift that can keep giving.”
El Paso Times:
“This book is hard to put down; every entry leads to another interesting bit of food lore.”
Jewish Women’s Archive:
“The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food has quickly become one of the books I always have close at hand and I think it would be a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelf.”
“At the CJM store (Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco), the top-selling book so far this year is Gil Marks’ “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food” (hardcover, $40). The hefty book contains more than 350 Jewish recipes and includes a history of Jewish culinary traditions.”
Here’s some turkey cooking info:
Native Americans domesticated the turkey more than a thousand years ago. Spaniards brought the turkey to Europe where it was initially confused with the guinea fowl, an Asian bird that arrived in Europe by way of Turkey. Thus this native American mistakenly received the same name as the guinea fowl, turkey. Thus, references to turkeys in Shakespeare are actually to guinea fowls. By the time the mistake became known the name had stuck. (In a similar vein, the French called it dinde (of India), a misnomer that made its way into Hebrew as tarnagol Hodu chicken of India.) Turkeys became popular throughout Europe, and when the English colonist arrived in Virginia they brought domesticated turkeys with them and were surprised to find the American woods full of wild turkeys, a variety smarter and livelier than the domesticated Mexican variety.
The members of Plymouth colony barely survived their first winter in New England — about half of the settlers had died — and reaped a rather meager harvest after their first summer. Still, the pilgrims were grateful for whatever they had and, in imitation of the Biblical holiday of Sukkot, held a day of thanksgiving in the fall of 1621. In recognition of their assistance, Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe and several of his warriors were invited to attend. Seeing the sparse feast that the Europeans had scraped together, the Indians decided to help out and, after a hunting and foraging expedition, returned with “sallet greens,” berries, nuts, eel, five deer, and some game birds. Although the menu of the first Thanksgiving feast most certainly contained wild turkeys among the many fowl served, the records do not mention them by name. Still, by the time President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November an official holiday, turkey had become associated with the Thanksgiving feast.
Over the centuries, turkeys have been bred from the scrawny tough forest dwellers into full-breasted birds. Turkey with its large amount of white meat, contains less fat and calories than any meat or poultry. The recent appearance in markets of turkey parts has made this bird more accessible for serving not just on holidays but throughout the year.
TO SELECT: Turkeys weigh anywhere from about 6 to 30 pounds. Allow approximately 1 to 1½ pounds (450 to 680 grams) of meat per person. Avoid frozen birds with any soft spots, punctures in the wrapping, or other signs of improper storage.
TO THAW: Do not thaw turkeys at room temperature or in warm water — warm temperatures increase the risk of bacterial growth. The best way to thaw a turkey is on a tray in the refrigerator allowing about 5 hours per pound:
Under 10 pounds (4.5 kg) 1 to 2 days
11 to 15 pounds (5 to 6.8 kg) 2 to 3 days
16 to 20 pounds (7.25 to 9 kg) 3 to 4 days
Over 20 pounds (9 kg) 4 to 5 days
In an emergency, place turkey in its wrapping in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes:
Under 10 pounds (4.5 kg) 4 to 6 hours
11 to 15 pounds (5 to 6.8 kg) 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds (7.25 to 9 kg) 9 to 11 hours
Over 20 pounds (9 kg) up to 12 hours
Turkeys under 10 pounds (4.5 kg) can also be thawed in a large microwave oven on MEDIUM-LOW setting for about 10 minutes per pound — but be sure to remove the metal tab.
TO STORE: Fresh turkeys should be cooked within 2 to 3 days of purchase. Thawed turkeys should be stored in their original wrappings. Keep in coldest part of refrigerator until ready to use. Frozen turkeys can be kept in the freezer for up to a year.
TO PREPARE: Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity. Wash the turkey well inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. For a moister bird, inject a little melted margarine or oil under the skin in several places or loosen skin and spread with oil or cognac or brandy. After preparing a raw turkey wash hands and utensils with warm, soapy water.
TO COOK: Cooking at a high heat for a long period of time will result in a tough, dry bird. Breast meat cooks faster than leg meat. The breast meat is done when it reaches 160 degrees, while thigh meat requires a temperature of 170 degrees. In order to avoid drying the breast meat, turn the bird during cooking. Since the turkey continues to cook after removing it from the oven, remove it 5 degrees early.
TURKEY PARTS WEIGHT CHART
(10 pound/4.5 kg turkey)
Half breast 23.5 ounces (666 grams)
Boneless, skinless half breast 17.5 ounces (496 grams)
Leg (thigh and drumstick) 23.5 ounces (666 grams)
Drumstick 12 ounces (340 grams)
Wing 9.5 ounces (270 grams)
Neck (with skin) 6 ounces (170 grams)
Liver 3.4 ounces (97 grams
Gizzard 6 ounces (170 grams)
(14 pound/6.35 turkey)
Half breast 39.75 ounces (1.13 grams)
Boneless, skinless half breast 29 ounces (822 grams)
Leg (thigh and drumstick) 28.5 ounces (808 grams)
Drumstick 14 ounces (400 grams)
Wing 12.65 ounces (359 grams)
Neck (with skin) 8 ounces (225 grams)
Liver 3.6 ounces (102 grams)
Gizzard 6.3 ounces (179 grams)
(22 pound/10 kg turkey)
Half breast 72 ounces (2 kg)
Boneless, skinless half breast 53 ounces (1.5 kg)
Leg (thigh and drumstick) 42 ounces (1.2 kg)
Drumstick 24 ounces (680 grams)
Wing 16.5 ounces (468 kg)
Neck (with skin) 12 ounces (340 grams)
Liver 4.5 ounces (128 grams)
Gizzard 6.3 ounces (179 grams)
The percentage of breast meat increases as the turkey matures. Thus the breast meat constitutes 29.5% (2.9 pounds/1.3 kg) of a 10-pound (4.5 kg) bird, 35.5% (5 pounds/2.25 kg) of a 14-pound (6.35 kg) hen, and 40.9% (9 pound/4 kg) of a 22-pound (10 kg) tom.
4 ounces/115 grams skinless turkey breast meat = 153 calories
= 0.8 grams fat
= 0.3 grams saturated fat
4 ounces/115 grams turkey breast with skin = 214 calories
4 ounces/115 grams skinless turkey leg meat = 180 calories
4 ounces/115 grams turkey leg with skin = 236 calories
4 ounces/115 grams skinless turkey wing meat = 185 calories
4 ounces/115 grams turkey wing with skin = 260 calories
3 ounces/85 grams of skinless white meat turkey = 119 calories
3 ounces/85 grams of skinless dark meat turkey = 142 calories
TO STUFF OR NOT TO STUFF
Originally, dressing was placed inside of roasting birds to save space in the small old-fashioned ovens. Stuffing can help to keep the meat moist and reduce fattiness. In larger birds, however, a stuffing can increase the cooking time by more than and an hour and a half, resulting in overcooked and dry meat. Instead of stuffing, add extra flavor by placing some onion or orange wedges in the bird’s cavity before roasting.
Although stuffing may be prepared in advance, do not stuff the bird until just prior to cooking. Even refrigerating a prestuffed bird will not prevent bacterial growth. The rule of thumb is to prepare ¾ cup (180 ml) of stuffing per pound of turkey. Spoon stuffing loosely into the cavity. (Do not pack stuffing since it expands during cooking. Spoon remaining stuffing in a casserole and place in the oven during the last 45 minutes of roasting.) Do not stuff turkeys that are to be microwaved.
Salmonella and campylobacter, the two primary bacteria that cause problems in turkey, are killed off at a temperature of 160 degrees (71 C) for at least 15 seconds. However, the USDA calls for a temperature of at least 180 degrees (82 C), to ensure that the stuffing will reach a temperature of 165 degrees (74 C). Since such a high temperature produces dry meat, it is better to cook the dressing separately.
Dinde Rotie (Slow Roast Turkey)
(10 to 12 servings)
1 (10- to 12-pound/4.5 to 5.5 kg) turkey, thawed and rinsed
Salt and pepper
About 12 cups (3 liters) stuffing (optional)
¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil or melted margarine
1. Position a rack in the lowest part of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (165 C).
2. Rinse the turkey inside and out. Pat dry. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. If desired, stuff. Rub with oil or melted margarine. If desired, sprinkle with paprika (for extra color). Skewer or sew the neck end closed. Tie the legs together.
3. Place breast-side down on a wire rack or V-rack in a shallow baking pan. Roast for 60 minutes, basting occasionally. Turn the turkey to the side and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the turkey to the other side and roast another 30 minutes.
4. Turn the turkey breast-side up. Roast, basting occasionally, until the juices in the inner thigh run clear when pricked with a fork and the meat in deepest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees (74 C) on a meat thermometer (about 25 minutes per pound for under 6 pounds (2.75 kg), 15 to 20 minutes per pound for 6 to 15 pounds (2.25 kg), and 13 to 15 minutes per pound for over 15 pounds (2.25 kg). For an unstuffed turkey, subtract about 5 minutes per pound from the cooking time.
WEIGHT TIME (STUFFED) TIME (UNSTUFFED)
6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg) 3 to 3½ hours 2¼ to 3 hours
8 to 12 pounds (3.6 to 5.5 kg) 3½ to 4½ hours 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 16 pounds (5.5 to 7.25 kg) 4 to 5 hours 3½ to 4½ hours
16 to 20 pounds (7.25 to 9 kg) 4½ to 5½ hours 4 to 5 hours
20 to 24 pounds (9 to 10 kg) 5 to 6½ hours 4½ to 5½ hours
24 to 28 pounds (10 to 12 kg) 6½ to 8 hours 5 to 6½ hours
ALTERNATIVES – To save time, roast the turkey at 425 degrees (220 C) for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees (175 C) and roast until done.
– Herbed Roast Turkey: In a food processor, process 1½ cups (360 ml) chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh thyme leaves, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) chopped fresh sage, 1 chopped shallot, 2 to 3 minced cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground black pepper, and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt; add ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil; and spread under the skin of the turkey.
TO SERVE: Remove stuffing immediately after cooking. For a moister bird and easier carving, let the turkey stand for at least 15 minutes, covered loosely with foil to maintain the heat. To carve, hold the bird with a carving fork and remove the legs by cutting through the joints between the breast and thigh. Cut off the drumstick. Place turkey breast-side up and cut wings where attached to the body. Remove top breast in one piece by cutting along breastbone. Carve thin slices diagonally from breast. Place turkey pieces on a warm serving platter.
After removing form oven, do not leave turkey at room temperature for more than two hours.
NOTES – If turkey comes in packaging and with giblets inside, remove the giblets and subtract its weight as well as that of the packaging (up to 1½ pounds/680 grams from the total weight of the turkey. Include this weight difference in figuring out the total roasting time of the turkey (about 30 to 50 minutes less).
– If the turkey starts to overbrown before it is done, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top. Do not cover tightly with foil or the meat will steam instead of roast.
– Pop-up timers inserted in some brands of turkey pop when a compound material with a determined melting point melts and releases a spring. These devices are generally set to pop, in accordance with USDA recommendations, at 178 degrees (81 C), a temperature that results in overly dry breast meat. Therefore, it is advisable to check the doneness with your own thermometer.
I just returned from a two-day visit to Richmond, VA, where I was one of the featured authors at the Annual Jewish Book Fair at the Weinstein JCC. My sold out presentation was attended by about 80 people. The cost was $18 for JCC members and $21 for non-members, which, I think, for a fun program of food and info is not all that much. The evening commenced at 6:00 pm. As the guests entered, each was presented with a cup of guvetch (Romanian vegetable stew). After finding their tables, I demonstrated how to prepare Sephardic leek keftes (patties). A buffet meal followed consisting of several dishes from my Encyclopedia of Jewish Food prepared by Gail Grandis (a local Richmond caterer), including Persian chicken with pomegranates and walnuts, Sephardic fried noodles with tomatoes, and the leek patties (don’t go too heavy on the potatoes, you want the taste and texture of the leeks to shine through). Dessert was Middle Eastern maamoul (date filled cookies) and aniseplatzen (German spice cookies). After dinner, I gave a talk on the mainstreaming of Jewish food in America, followed by a book signing. Everyone seemed to have fun and I signed a lot of books.
The plane ride back was a bit bumpier. It was not one of those large jets, but a smaller one. And we landed in NYC in the midst of a windstorm. Landing was like riding a roller coaster. I was certainly glad when we were finally on terra firma.
I’ve been busy on my book tour for Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, so I haven’t had time to blog. I will soon. Here are a few new articles about my new book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
“Don’t let the word “encyclopedia” scare you. Although this brilliant book does contain an encyclopedic amount of information (656 pages worth, including many recipes), it reads like anything but.”
“Gil Marks’ “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food” is a sort of “Larousse Gastonomique” for the Jewish world.”
Blog (About my recent presentation in Richmond, VA):
“Keftes with a reader, four-string guitars and dimples, booty bags and self-pleasuring. This may have been a Tuesday night for the books.”
Kitchen Arts & Letters:
“Marks, a rabbi, historian, and author of five previous cookbooks, has devoted years’ worth of culinary, linguistic, and cultural research to what we can only describe as an important achievement.”
“For anyone interested in Jewish cooking, culture, or history, the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is an enlightening and engaging tour through the culinary heart and soul of a people.”
Here are a few new articles about my new book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food:
“Gil Marks is making his encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish food available to the rest of us.”
Here’s a podcast of my interview on Tablet
Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia):
“Marks has created a book that is both for reference and practical use. He writes in such an engaging manner and with such a depth of knowledge that the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is a book I will return to again and again — a voyage of compelling culinary discovery.”
New Jersey Jewish Standard:
“When The Big Lipowsky was compiling his FYI this week on Marks’ book, his biggest challenge was paring down the vast amounts of foodie knowledge from Marks’ kop.”
Jewish Forward’s “Forward 50”:
“The first modern Jewish counterpart to ‘The Oxford Companion to Food’ and France’s ‘Larousse Gastronomique,’ Marks’s anthology is an indispensible guide to Jewish food.”
My cousins Dr. Cynthia and David Zimm have kindly arranged to hold a party to honor the release of my new book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, as well as my inclusion in the Forward 50, the Jewish Forward’s annual “list of the fifty most influential Jewish-Americans.” Please stop by. I look forward to meeting you.
You are invited to attend the
Book Launch Party for
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH FOOD
by Gil Marks
Location: Zimm family, 599 Maitland Avenue, Teaneck, NJ
Date: November 13, 2010 (Saturday Night)
Time: 8:00 – 11:00 pm
Stop by for 3 minutes or stay for 3 hours.
Meet Gil Marks.
Books will be sold at the Launch Party by Womrath’s Bookstore of Tenafly.
Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is a comprehensive, A-to-Z guide to Jewish foods, recipes, and culinary traditions
Food is more than just sustenance. It’s a reflection of a community’s history, culture, and values. From India to Israel to the United States and everywhere in between, Jewish food appears in many different forms and variations, but all related in its fulfillment of kosher laws, Jewish rituals, and holiday traditions. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food explores both unique cultural culinary traditions as well as those that unite the Jewish people.
- Alphabetical entries—from Afikomen and Almond to Yom Kippur and Za’atar—cover ingredients, dishes, holidays, and food traditions that are significant to Jewish communities around the world
- This easy-to-use reference includes more than 650 entries, 300 recipes, plus illustrations and maps throughout
- Both a comprehensive resource and fascinating reading, this book is perfect for Jewish cooks, food enthusiasts, historians, and anyone interested in Jewish history or food
The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is an informative and eye-opening guide to the culinary heart and soul of the Jewish people.
For anyone interested in Jewish cooking, culture, or history, the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is an enlightening and engaging tour through the culinary heart and soul of a people.
For more information on the book visit gilmarks.com.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday October 26 and 27 at Kosherfest held in the Meadowlands over the Hudson in New Jersey. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. On Tuesday, I presented a talk on the history of Jewish food and on Wednesday I was one of the judges in a cooking competition. The rest of the time, I spent roaming the aisles and attempting to promote my new book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Fortunately, the speech went well. I was fearful that no one would show up for my lecture, as people might opt to enjoy the free food being given out, but it was well attended and well received. And the cooking competition was certainly fun, although it is something of comparing apples and oranges.
I missed last year’s Kosherfest, as I was in Israel at the time. I had attended almost every other kosher show since its debut in 1987, when I was then editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine. I’ve seen the shows change over time — a reflection of the kosher market. For the first 15 years, kosher was in the process of going mainstream in the USA. Many of America’s largest food corporations were then present at Kosherfest, typically to show off one or more of their products that had recently received kosher certification. It was always exciting to see which big names had gone kosher. This year, not a single major national corporation was present. For kosher has already gone mainstream and almost every national product that can become kosher has done so.
When Kosherfest first appeared in 1987, there were an unprecedented 16,000 packaged items under kosher supervision. Today that number has swelled to more than 110,000, and, in the past decade, kosher sales have continued a double-digit growth, 10 percent to 15 percent, even in a shaky economy.
There were no major revelations or surprises at this year’s Kosherfest. Rather the trend this year was the upscaling of small Jewish food companies. Beyond the traditional haimish (home-style) items, such as gefilte fish, horseradish, and kosher dills, there were many booths featuring herbs, spelt baked goods, gluten-free, Belgian chocolates, fine olive oils, superior jams, organics, etc. Fifteen years ago, many kosher-observant Jews would not touch sushi. Today, you can barely attend a wedding in Brooklyn without a sushi station. And, of course, there was sushi at Kosherfest. Not only has kosher become part and parcel of the American mainstream, the American mainstream is increasingly becoming part of the kosher world.
P.S. Thanks to everyone who expressed their congratulations on my being included in this year’s Forward 50. It was a great honor for my work on the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food to be recognized.