It’s A Pancakes-For-Dinner Night

I have been cooking Shabbat Dinners for my family since my first son Sam was born–that is almost 20 years of Shabbat dinners. As my mother taught me, I have always thought that the “appropriate” Shabbat meal is brisket or roast chicken, challah and all of the rest of the side dishes. In the “old” days–up until about 5 years ago–my Fridays were structured around challah baking and the rest of the meal. Since Challah Connection is busy, busy all 5 days (actually 7+), little by little I have been chipping away at my Friday tradition. First to go, unfortunately, was the challah baking. However, I realized that while my husband Josh loved my home baked challah, my kids were actually perfectly content with the challah that we sell here at Challah Connection. Next to go was the hours of shopping and prep for the rest of the meal. To be honest, I have been feeling a little lost on Fridays without a traditional meal to prepare. But, here’s the interesting and very good news…

A couple of months ago, I learned from Harry and Mike (my only 2 at home now, ages 18 and 14 respectively) that they are not liking meat too much anymore and what they really love are dairy meals like my challah french toast, matzo brei, blintzes, pancakes and omelets. Great!! Those are easy to make, don’t require any prep time, are “Jewish” in nature and best of all they really love them. The only problem with this is that it’s not really what Josh and I want to be eating, but we can handle this one night a week.

I’m pretty excited about what I’m making tonight. This is a recipe from Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking: Cottage Cheese Chremslach. They are pancakes made with cottage cheese and matzo meal (recipe below), fried in oil and topped with sliced strawberries and confectioners sugar. The picture looks scrumptious and best of all, I think my kids are going to love them. Will let you know if this recipe passes the test!

Cottage Cheese Chremslach
From Arthur Schwartz’s Jewish Home Cooking
Note: Technically, this recipe is a Passover recipe hence the matzo meal and Grapeseed or Passover oil. For non-Passover, I plan to use matzo meal and canola oil.

Makes about 18

4 eggs
1 cup 4 percent cottage cheese (you could use low fat if you prefer)
3/4 cup mile (whole or low fat)
3/4-1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 cup matzo meal
Grapeseed or other acceptable Passover oil or 2 tablespoons butter for frying

In a bowl, with a fork, beat together the eggs, cottage cheese, milk, salt, and sugar. Stir in the matzo meal. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a 10-to 12-inch skillet, over medium heat, heat enough oil to cover the bottom by a scant 1/8 inch. When the oil is hot, pour a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet. It should form a pancake about 4 inches in diameter. If it is too thick to spread this much, add a little more milk. The pancake should sizzle immediately. Fry until the first side is golden brown, 60-90 seconds, depending on how hot the oil is. Turn the pancake. The second side takes less time, about 30 seconds.

Drain the pancakes on paper towels or brown paper and serve while still very hot.

Variation (Jane’s opinion–this is a worthwhile step)
For a puffier pancake, separate the eggs, beat the yolks with the milk, then beat the whites until they form peaks and fold into the batter.

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College Care Packages–Send Them At Your Own “Risk”

As you may have previously read in this blog, I have been sending kosher care packages to my son Sam, since he went away to college last year. This year, he moved into a fraternity house and lo and bohold, his brothers–many of them unfamiliar with “jewish” food–have been loving the care packages. It appears that Sam has taught them of the joy of challah, babka, rugelach, hamentashen and more. Feeling that he “wanted to take this to the next level” and as the Social Chair of the fraternity, Sam, aka Sambassador (to Jewish Culture), asked to me prepare a “Jewish Meal” for 50!! It was a truly momentus occasion as this was the very first time in Allegheny’s history that Hillel and Greek life have come together for an event. Here it is!

The kids were all so interested and appreciative. I got hugs from almost everyone! Even the next day at a fraternity picnic, they were kvelling about the great food and thanking me profusely.
Of course we could not have done this without help from so many people including my Mother, the “Brisket Maven”, my Mother in Law who makes the only kasha varniskes that I have ever liked (truly yummy), friend Elaine for the delicious cabbage and noodles and Gary,
the owner of Beth Haven Inn in Meadville, PA for supervising the heating of 20lbs of brisket. If you are wondering what I cooked, not to worry, I did my share: 4 briskets and potato kugel.
Allegheny College Jewish Lunch Menu
Also thanks to Solomon Sheena, the Allegheny College Hillel advisor whose love of an organized kitchen was invaluable last week as well as Allegheny College President, James H. Mullen Jr, who was a pleasure to have, and was a true sport as I draped the Challah Connection, Got Kosher? apron around his neck (seen in photo below).

The moral of this story is simple: If you want to send your child a kosher college care package, please log right on to our website, but please don’t say I didn’t warn you: they may soon ask you to cook a Jewish meal for 50.

Jane

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The Original “Green” Mom

Going green is the buzzword of the day.
But I hate to break the news to you. My mother was green long ago…and she didn’t even know it. She called it “cooking.” She’s Old School, where nothing but nothing goes to waste. To understand, you’d need to peek into my mother’s freezer. I once did. Then never again. In there, Mom had orange peels, egg shells, fish heads, chicken…things, bananas beyond the deep brown suitable for banana bread.

Don’t get me wrong. My mother is an intuitive, fabulous cook. Her all American name, Becky Mark, is in contrast to her Sephardic (Mediterranean) roots–half Greek and half Turkish–but her knowledge of spices is proof. Her kitchen is fragrant with spices–turmeric, garlic and onion mingle with cinnamon and mint in heavenly combinations. Invitations to dine at her table are coveted and fiercely lied about among my four siblings.

“What are you doing for dinner on Sunday night?” my sister might ask me on the phone.

“Oh, nothing, maybe some Chinese,” I might reply evasively, trying to cover up the fact that I plan to be gorging myself on one of my Mom’s luscious eggplant lasagna.

I love her cooking now, and I loved in when I was growing up in the 1960s. Every single night my mother served a delicious meal. She went through phases, too. One of my favorite’s was her chicken phase. Just saying the phrase Chicken Marbella (yes, the famous Silver Palate recipe) makes my mouth water, and I will cancel plans if she tells me she’s making Chicken Veronique. She also had a delicious beef phase (Julia Child’s Beef Bourgignon as translated by Mom was to die for) as well as an Italian phase (fresh tomato sauce, herbed meatballs).

I’m grateful to my mother for not just feeding me but teaching my sisters and me how to cook. Of course, none of us approach her mastery, and when she’s cooking, clear out of the kitchen (you wouldn’t ask Einstein to share his chalkboard or Elvis to move off the stage, right?).

Even though one time Josh and I cleaned out her freezer (shudder) when my parents were away, I’m proud of Mom for being able to transform orange peels into duck a la orange, potato peels into steaming broth, and me, a hungry child, into a Mom who can nourish her own family with good food.

Below, Mom has graciously allowed me to share the recipe for her Easy and Delicious Fruit Tart. Enjoy!

Best,

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner

Becky’s Easy and Delicious Fruit Tart

Becky is my Mom, who is a truly excellent baker and cook. Her challah, brisket, bourekas, spanikotopica (she is Sephardic), apple pie and this tart are some of my favorites.

Prepare a 10″ (11″ ok too) pan with removable rim by buttering bottom and sides. Preheat oven to 350.

Peel 4 large apples [about 4 cups or so] or pears or peaches or combination of any fruit you’d normally want to bake. If it’s more than 4 cups it’s okay…

Put in the bowl of a cuisinart:

1/2 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup sugar + 1 cup flour

1 ts baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt

Pulse a few times until it has an oatmeal consistency, then add 1 large egg and pulse to mix.

Dump the entire mixture into the prepared pan and push it around until it covers the bottom of the pan. Now put the fruit on top (if you have the patience you can do a concentric circle, but this is not necessary) and push some of the fruit into the mix.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes

For the topping, which is put on after the tart has baked for 45 minutes, mix in the food processor:

1 egg

1/2 stick of butter

1/3 cup of sugar

1 rounded tsp cinnamon

Bake and additional 1/2 hour.

If you use wet fruit, such as blueberries and peachs, bake a bit longer, especially on the second round.

Copyright 2009, Challah Connection

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A Community of Entrepreneurs

When I left the corporate world 20 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect.  After successfully launching and running my own marketing firm (first client: American Express), I wanted my next career step  to combine my passion for baking challah with the business acumen I had acquired.   Because I grew up with the aromas of my own mother’s wonderful baking (usually old world Jewish recipes, for the Jewish holidays), it was only natural that I would come to love baking myself, and my family knew they could always count on the smell of home-baked challah every Friday afternoon.

In 2002, I saw the opportunity to marry my interests by purchasing Challah Connection, then a small challah delivery service. The decision to expand and revitalize Challah Connection was a big commitment, both professional and personal.  Knowing my almost obsessive need to give 150 % to any work venture, I wondered: would I ever allow myself to relax?

Seven fun, sometimes difficult, but always interesting years later, I know the answer to that question: no!  There’s no time to relax.

But I have the genuine satisfaction of knowing that each and every gift that Challah Connection ships out is of the highest quality.  It may sound corny, but it’s like that credit card commercial.  Offering a truly thoughtful shiva basket or Hanukkah gift to a very-missed college student on behalf of his loving parents is priceless…to me.

But enough about me!

One of the great things about launching my own business was discovering a community of like-minded entrepreneurs in Westport and the surrounding towns.  Through networking and through daily life, I’ve come across a truly amazing group of people who have also had the courage to go out on their own and launch serious, profitable  businesses. Once a month, I meet with these women to discuss each others business issues, always with the goal of business growth. The community of these fellow women entrepreneurs has been so helpful and satisfying.  We are proof that it is possible to do what you love and be successful.

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever Divorced

Jessica Bram, Author, Happily Ever After Divorce

Jessica Bram is the author of Happily Ever After Divorce. It’s funny and hopeful a book as you would ever want to read –reading her essays on her divorce is like eating potato chips…you get the point).  She also runs the Westport Writers’ Workshop and offers all kinds of classes on writing, from memoir writing to short story writing  (I’ve heard they fill up fast).

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross, Evocateur

Barbara Ross is the owner of Evocateur. After a long career in corporate finance, she is fulfilling her dream of gorgeous jewelry and accessories. Handcrafted in Connecticut, her pieces are droolworthy.  I especially love her 22 K gold cuffs.  Although I wouldn’t say no to the sterling silver leaf pieces either…  Her line also includes  bangles, pendants, earrings and belts.

Donna Jackson launched  Saraswati’s Yoga Joint in Norwalk–a yoga studio that must be seen and experienced to be believed. Think walls painted the color of sorbet and a yoga practice that is challenging without being demoralizing and spiritual without being sappy. I must admit to be totally addicted to twice and sometimes thrice weekly doses of Donna’s down dogs.

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler, Not Another Guide

Lyn Girdler’s website Not Another Guide offers travel guides written by locals. Even though I grew up in the New York environs, I have actually used her guide to New York City because its loaded with tidbits about food and shopping that make me feel like a native…again.   And quite honestly, without her eclectic guides, I never would have discovered Alphabet City’s amazing array of vintage shops.

nancycollamer

Nancy Collamer, Collamer Career Consulting, Jobs & Moms

Last but certainly not least, Nancy Collamer’s very helpful website Jobs and Moms.  Nancy is a career coach who founded The Jobs and Moms Career Center.  She advised women online as the “Jobs and Mom Pro” for Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Media. Nancy has the knowledge and compassion to guide women in careers that work for their families, often outside the rigid 9 to 5 parameters.  I highly recommend checking out her website if you are thinking about making some kind of a career move. Nancy and I had lunch yesterday and I found out that she counsels clients nationwide–thanks to Skype!

Kudos to those of you out there who had the courage to go for it!  Good luck to those of you about to try something new.

And may today we all take a risk…a leap of faith in ourselves,

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection Owner

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Jogging In The Rain

It was one of those days where you’d be better off staying inside and having a nice hot cup of tea. It rained. It stopped. It rained some more. The wind blew hard. Instead of viewing the weather from the couch like most reasonable people, I decided to go jogging around the track with my friend Christine. image004 Christine was stressed. For 16 years Christine had been married to Cam, her Jewish husband. And, for the first time in all those years, her mother-in-law had agreed to come to her house to celebrate a Jewish holiday.

Granted, it was Hanukkah . I didn’t mention to Christine that Hanukkah (חנוכה‬‎) had started as a very minor holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the Second Century BCE. To remember the fact that oil that should have only lasted one day stretched for eight days, we light the candles on the menorah each night.

I agreed that it was nice of her mother-in-law to relent and give up hosting one of the Jewish holidays. The only problem? Christine (she herself admitted) couldn’t cook to save her life.

“So,” I huffed. “What do you plan to serve?”

Wrong question. Christine sprinted on ahead on sheer adrenaline alone. I caught up with her eventually and repeated my question.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t have a clue. I’ve looked through books and the only thing I see is latkes . I can’t just serve potato pancakes.”

She looked at me hopefully. “Can I?”

A gust of wind blew my wet hair right into my face. It gave me a minute to come up with a tactful answer. “Well, usually you would serve latkes and then maybe a few other things. Maybe some applesauce and some sour cream.”

“Oh, right, she usually does have that stuff. Okay, what else?”

I suggested that she might want to include a roasted chicken, maybe some brisket, some vegetables. And then there were the desserts.

“I’m scared of the desserts,” Christine said. We stopped running. Christine was gasping for breath, either from running or from contemplating Jewish desserts.

I told her there was nothing to be afraid of. There was rugelach, there were blue-and-white cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, blue-and-white Jordan almonds, there was chocolate babka and there was dark chocolate.

Best of all, there was me , her friend, who just happened to own Challah Connection. I had her covered.

“There’s just one problem,” Christine said. “Do you have any spray that makes it smell like I baked it?”

Hmmm…that’s one for R & D.

Best wishes for good weather and good friends,

Jane

janebeforetemple

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