Shabbat

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Most Friday nights this one cute couple I know hosts Shabbat dinner at their house. They don’t drive, and they leave a lot of lights on, and they fill the whole house up with love (and the occasional scholarly debate). And food. Oh boy, is there ever lots of food.

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Bread is a big deal, and the Mrs. usually makes the bread from scratch. This was an Amish sourdough bread.

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It was a little on the sweet side for all of us (a good breakfast bread), but oh my gosh, that crust was shatteringly crisp and divine. Love.

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Do you see all of the goodies on my plate? I didn’t even try everything! Salad, the best kugel I’ve ever had (gobs of cream cheese, juicy raisins, and plump apricots), lentils, roasted potatoes, and brisket in wine.

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So much deliciousness. I love being part of a family tradition, even if I don’t understand a lot of what’s going on.

Jewish Food Festival @ Congregation Gates of Heaven

Walk with me, talk with me. Let’s go on a tour of Congregation Gates of Heaven’s Jewish Food Festival, held on Sunday, April 3rd. Tasty food, $15 per adult, kids under 18 free.

Walked into land of deliciously home made desserts. Mandelbrot is my new fave thing. One woman said it was like biscotti. She should have said it was like biscotti, only INSANELY BETTER. And mini rugelach – oh, so good. I can only guess how long it took to make (long). I appreciate a good rugelach, and these were awesome.

Homemade cured salmon. Oh, I love you so much. Cured for 6 days in bourbon (or brand? sugar, I forget now), salt, sugar, and… awesomeness. So incredibly good on a bialy with cream cheese. Or on a latke.

SO DELICIOUS! Hands down, my favorite spot of the festival. This room had lots of goods made by congregants, plus some awesome smoked trout spread from the Mazzone family (677 Prime, Angelo’s Tavolo, etc).

There was a room filled with more external vendors and tables to sit, plus live music.

The guys from The Phonecians on Central were ridic professional, and insanely generous. Generous portions were a big thing here. I got, like, half a cup of meat as a “sample”!

Old Daley Inn had desserts and some salmon. Desserts were fun. Tasty stuff.

Got to walk into a session by Gail Sokol on how to make sponge cake with Phairhead and SexyBeast. Fun stuff! She was a personable woman who was all about baking and science.

And got to sample the cake. Not too sweet. Really good. Reminded me of Chinese style desserts. I think Chinese people and Jewish people have a lot in common with food and culture.

Went to stop by the delicious butter and bread station hosted by Leah the Nosher & Daniel B.! So much deliciously fatty butter. Pamplie was nice to try, and Daniel B also sourced some unsalted butters WITHOUT “natural flavorings” added. That is such a huge pet peeve of mine – unsalted butter with preservative flavors added to “enhance” (cover up) the butter. However, I now have a new butterlust over butter… all of them. So freaking good. The last time I ate the circular butter behind the pamplie I ate the entire thing in a day. 8 oz of butter. 1 day. I will have cardiovascular problems later in life, and this is why.

Leah’s bread! She made so many awesome loaves! High Holy Day bread was sweet-ish. And the challas… of the hook! All of them tasted like they were made in an artisanal bakery. Good chew, plenty moist and rich. Yum! I think there are two kinds of home bakers. The home bakers that take it seriously and make people do a double take and say “Wait, you made this? At home??”, and then there are bakers who make fairly decent stuff with a short halflife that makes people say “Oh homemade bread. That’s nice.”. Leah is one of the former. Holy moly, that was unbelievably good bread!

We started to fade after about two hours of nonstop eating. So we went back down to the presentation area where they’d finished up blintzes. Om. So generous. So delish!

Latkes


I made latkes last night in celebration of Chanukah. I invited Bro and Margarita along, and Ellsbells also popped in. I like holidays revolving around oil and frying things. Happy Hanukkah.
I used the recipe CelinaBean put up, and she is quite right – it is a great recipe, and the way I’ll make latkes from now on.

They turned out very well – Crisp and crunchy on the outside, and warm, soft fluffy potato-goodness on the inside. I didn’t realize I was running low on white potatoes, so I used a big sweet potato as well. You can see the sweet potato latkes above, frying with ferocity in the oil.


First, some peeled white potatoes and one onion. I think this batch was heavy on the onion, but I certainly don’t mind. I didn’t have scallions, so I tossed in some shallot bits.


After being chucked to shred in the food processor, squeezed, then left to drain for a further 15 minutes. It is mixed up with egg, and some of the residual starch left from the water drained from the potato.

Frying! They are kind of like hash browns, only way better. I fried these over medium heat, but kept having to increase the heat over time.

Fin. Some golden edges. There were more than this, just the first picture I snapped.

Not carrots, but sweet potato and onion. I forgot to add shallots to this batch, but no one seemed to mind. I had to add three eggs to get this to bind. The sweet potato is much less wet than a regular potato, even after letting it drain, etc.

The sweet potato was also more crumbly, which just meant letting it fry a little longer before being tempted to flip it, otherwise it would self-destruct and get crumbly and fall apart.


I meant to try and add some cool fillings like Celina did, but I didn’t get the time to. They were still good as-is. The sweet potato latkes also crisped up nicely and were not too sugary-sweet. A hint of sweetness, but not overwhelming. I was very happy with how well they crisped up.


Surprisingly, I had no nibblers while I was frying, and while waiting for all of these to get done (I had two plates of sweet potato latkes and one plate of white potato latkes), not one latke turned soggy. Very miraculous.


Served with applesauce and a tasty vegetable dish that Albany John made. We were out of sour cream and yogurt; otherwise I would have had those as well. I am very thankful I have caring family to spend holidays with.

Jewish Deli Presentation

Last night I went to the presentation about Jewish delis at SUNY Albany. The Profussor let me know about it, and it seemed like it was worth a visit, so I told my friend Panda about it and we met up there.

I was late, since I am really bad about navigating SUNY’s campus. But soon I was settled and listening.

It was kind of a general overview of the deli’s role in Jewish culture. I forget whom the guy was that did it (sorry dude), but he had a presentation with pictures he’d show. I can see how it would be a good presentation for people who know nothing about Jewish deli culture to get their feet wet. However, I would have enjoyed knowing a little more about the lives of the deli purveyors – perhaps what their schedules were like and how the hours of the deli being open affected their lives and the lives of their customers. Just a little more detail.
They ended with Curb Your Enthusiasm clips, which I thought were pretty funny. You can’t go wrong with scripted improv! The Q&A after the lecture seemed more like “When I was a kid…” or some such by older folks who wanted to talk, with the occasional actual question from an audience member.

There were also snacks of fruit, coffee, hummus, and pita bread. I ate my tongue into a raw, tingling numbness on fresh pineapple slices. It’s a weird allergy/reaction I have to fresh pineapple, but I love pineapple so I’m not stopping any time soon. The Profussor also shares the same pineapple reaction – yeah allergy twins!

And check it! Here’s The Profussor all decked out in FUSSYlittleBLOG gear!