Posted by Michael Israel
Since my wife and I opened our food truck M.O.Eggrolls in 2011, I have had some of the best and worst days of my life. As the chef and owner of my own business I have had the freedom to create my own schedule, design my own menu, and create a food concept that connects with my religion. Along with these freedoms, comes the stress and obligations of payroll, utility bills and the constant fear of not being able to make ends meet. It is the yin and yang that every entrepreneur must face when building a business.
When the M.O.Eggrolls food truck first hit the streets, we served certified glatt kosher meat and our kitchen was supervised by Rabbi Susan Leider, a conservative Rabbi from Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. My wife Emily and I were determined to bring new life to kosher dining in Los Angeles. Our dream was a kosher concept that operated outside the boundaries of the established supervising bodies, that was driven by delicious food that celebrated classic Jewish cuisine. We want to do our part to help engage Conservative Jews, in particular young Jews in Los Angeles, in a place outside of a synagogue. Our mission was to make food that all Angelenos would crave, Jewish or not, that happened to be kosher. We worked ourselves to the bone for over a year, determined to make this concept work. The fact is, we were committing financial suicide in the process. Our kosher business had almost no kosher customers.
The only way for our business to survive and have a chance for growth was by no longer serving hechshered meat and by extending our schedule to include Shabbos. This meant no kosher certification. It was clear to both Emily and I what needed to be done to save our business, but neither of us was willing to make those changes and give up on our original dream. If it weren’t for a pilot show that we taped last fall for the Food Network, Emily and I would have driven our truck off a financial cliff in the name of new kosher dining. During the taping of the show, we were forced to face the harsh reality of our business. We were running out of money, and in turn had no time to save our business. We decided to make the changes to drop our kosher certification and become “kosher-style” instead. This means we would keep the menu the same, just no pork, shellfish or dairy. We also expanded the menu to include sandwiches and non-fried eggrolls, something we had been wanting to add for a while. We re-launched our new truck MOE Deli, a kosher-style deli. MOE Deli is inspired by the cuisine of my roots with a similar mission as M.O.Eggrolls, to bring new life to Jewish cuisine instead of kosher cuisine.
The show, Can Family Save my Business, airs Friday 2/22 4pm/7pm and Saturday 2/23 1pm/4pm (during Shabbos, how ironic) on the Food Network. Watch us as we make big changes, along with the help of our wonderful family, to grow our business. We dared talk about Judaism in LA, kashrut, and Shabbat, topics rarely and maybe never before addressed on the Food Network. Our business is growing and we are still afloat. We have not given up on our mission to change kosher dining or engagement of young Jews in the mainstream world, we have just made a detour. Emily and I have lofty dreams for what our business will look like in the future, and we will never give up on bringing new life to both kosher and Jewish cuisine.
2.21.13 at 1:19 pm | Since my wife and I opened our food truck. . .
8.20.12 at 6:02 pm | Fish is one of the most polarizing foods in our. . .
8.13.12 at 1:24 pm | Recently, on a trip to New York, I had the. . .
7.9.12 at 7:07 pm | Discovering Encyclopedia of Jewish Food has. . .
7.3.12 at 12:22 pm | Luxury apartments for rent! Luxury car sale this. . .
6.25.12 at 1:33 pm | The single most incriminating dish of the Spanish. . .
8.13.12 at 1:24 pm | Recently, on a trip to New York, I had the. . . (44)
7.9.12 at 7:07 pm | Discovering Encyclopedia of Jewish Food has. . . (7)
2.21.13 at 1:19 pm | Since my wife and I opened our food truck. . . (5)
August 20, 2012 | 6:02 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
Fish is one of the most polarizing foods in our diet. Many people have awful memories of growing up in a home where fish night was nightmarish. Prior to the explosion of sushi restaurants in the U.S., many home cooks were under the impression that fish are full of bacteria and harmful viruses and therefore must be cooked beyond recognition. In my opinion, this mentality is the main reason why so many Americans have awful memories of fish at home as a kid. When poor quality fish, often times frozen, is left in the broiler for extended periods of time, the end result is a stinky piece of sawdust. The truth is that fresh fish, cooked properly, is sublime. Everyone should be able to enjoy delectable marine delicacies at home with loved ones.
Often times, the “fishiness” of a fish is used to gauge whether or not it is desirable. Tilapia has become a popular fish because it is low on the “fishiness” scale. However, tilapia is a garbage fish. It is typically farm raised in small ponds where the fish are so cramped that the majority of their diet consists of fish feces and mud. The end result is a fish that has a slightly muddy background flavor and mushy texture. I understand that tilapia is not “fishy,” but this fish is not good quality. The fear of “fishiness” actually prevents people from approaching more aromatic and high quality fish, such as sardines. Many people get a gag reflex just from seeing the word sardine, but the fact is a properly prepared sardine is quiet delicious. Yes, sardines do have a bold aroma. They also have beautifully firm flesh that flakes and delicate skin that melts on the palette. While the aroma is bold, it does not signify that the fish has gone bad. The full bodied aroma of sardines should smell of a beach bonfire, a combination of smoke and briny ocean air. It is a very savory aroma that has gained regal reputation throughout the Mediterranean. I know it is tempting to call sardines “fishy,” but fresh sardines prepared with respect and technique do not smell or taste “fishy,” they taste like sardines.
This week’s entry from Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is Ahilado “a tomato sauce with onions, parsley, and olive oil in which fish is cooked” (EJF pg 6). There is no recipe listed in the book for this entry, only suggestions as to what was classically found in Ahilado. According to the book, this sauce was used as a way to keep fish moist during the cooking process. Also mentioned is that this sauce was great for standing up to strong flavored fish. Carp, mackerel and tuna are recommended pairings with this sauce. I decided to use sardines because they were the freshest aromatic fish at the market. Rather than cooking the fish in the sauce as the entry in EJF suggests, I decided to slow poach the fillets in olive oil. Slow poaching in oil is a great way to prevent overcooking delicate ingredients and results in an incredibly moist and tender piece of fish. Included in the entry is that sometimes fennel was added to the sauce. I chose to add fennel to my recipe because the anise flavor of fennel pairs nicely with sardines. I also decided to puree the sauce to allow for a more elegant plate presentation. In my recipe, the same oil used to cook the fish is used to cook the vegetables for the pureed sauce. By doing this, the smoky briny flavor of the fish is carried throughout the entire dish.
It is time to put an end to the fear of “fishy” fish. Rather than masking the bold flavor of the sardines, I chose to embrace their aroma and use it as a seasoning agent for the sauce. The finished sauce is smoky and bright from the sardine-scented oil, and also very rich as much of the oil is emulsified in the sauce during the pureeing. The final dish consists of sardine fillets that are tender and aromatized with parsley, garlic and olive oil. I recommend serving this dish as an appetizer or tapa paired with a Spanish white wine or dry sherry. The key to truly enjoying this recreated Turkish Jewish classic is by casting away your fear of “fishiness” and celebrating the delicious gastronomical qualities of bold flavored fish.
6ea sardines, fresh/whole
3ea roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
6ea garlic cloves, peeled, whole
2ea onion, diced
1ea fennel bulb, diced
1ea juice of a lemon
½ bunch Italian parsley
as needed olive oil
to taste kosher salt
to taste black pepper
Procedure to Clean Sardines:
1. Cut off the head of the sardine by cutting behind the gills.
2. Run your knife down the belly of the fish, careful not to cut into the meat.
3. Using your thumb or forefinger, run your finger down the belly in order to clean out the innards.
4. Gently butterfly the fish with your fingers to expose both fillets.
5. With your finger follow the spine of the fish to the tail. Gently bend the tail backward in order to break the spine bone at the tail. A small piece of the bone should pop through the fillet. Grab this piece of bone, and pull towards the front of the fish. The spine and bones should come out in one clean piece.
6. Rinse the fillets under cold running water to remove any remaining innards. Pat dry and keep in a cold place.
1. In a small sauce pot add about 1 inch of olive oil.
2. Place the sardine fillets, garlic and parsley stems in the cold oil in the sauce pot.
3. Bring the oil to a simmer. As soon as the flesh of the fish turns opaque, remove the sardines, garlic and parsley stems from the oil and let drain on a paper towel.
4. While the oil is still hot, lightly fry individual leaves from the bunch of parsley. Fry enough leaves to have at least two per portion. Remove the leaves when they are bright green and crispy and let drain on a paper towel.
5. In the same oil that was used for the fish, add the tomatoes, onions and fennel. Allow this mixture to simmer for at least 25 minutes until the vegetables are very soft.
6. When soft, puree the vegetable mixture with an emersion blender, traditional blender or food processor. Careful, the mixture will be hot. Season the puree with salt, cracked black pepper and lemon juice to taste.
7. For plating, place a small amount of the pureed sauce on the plate. Stack two fillets on the sauce along with fried parsley leaves and garlic for garnish.
August 13, 2012 | 1:24 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
Recently, on a trip to New York, I had the opportunity to meet Gil Marks. Gil has been incredibly supportive and encouraging in my quest to reinvent every recipe in his book Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. I wanted to have a chance to thank him in person for his work and willingness to mentor me in my new pursuit as a writer.
Initially, when I thought to recreate the recipes of Gil’s book, I hoped he would be thrilled but ultimately was not sure how he would respond. Prior to initiating the blog, I sent Gil an email introducing myself and explaining that I would like to use the recipes in his book as a guide to creating my own interpretations of classic Jewish recipes. He responded with enthusiasm and strong support. Gil has been one of the biggest supporters of Kosher Bacon and has helped guide me in making a connection between the recipes that I create and the recipes in his book.
Gil Marks did not think that his life’s work would revolve around food. He grew up going to Yeshiva and pursued a career in social work. Although Gil was always passionate about food, it was unheard of for a Jew in his generation to pursue a career as a chef. Instead, Gil chose a more acceptable career path as a social worker and moonlighted as a caterer. Not only was Gil proving to be an exceptional cook, but his knowledge of food and the history of cuisine stood out. Gil earned the reputation among friends and colleagues as “a walking food encyclopedia.”
We chose to meet Gil at Mike’s Bistro, a kosher restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. When Gil arrived at the restaurant he approached both Emily and I with a giant smile and open arms. He embraced both of us as though we were his long lost niece and nephew (of which he has many). We sat down at our table, and began to talk food for the next 6 hours. Gil’s knowledge of food and the history of cuisine is immense and mesmerizing. We talked about everything from gnocchi to the history of ketchup. After lunch, we strolled the busy streets of the Upper West Side touring the local markets and chatting about everything food. I was in heaven.
Gil Marks’ resume is quite impressive. He has written an array of cookbooks and has received multiple James Beard Awards for his publications. Before writing books, he was the founding editor of Kosher Gourmet magazine. In my opinion, Gil’s most incredible trait is his generosity. In the short period of time that I have known Gil, he has helped guide me as a Jewish chef and writer. His works are a significant part of the foundation for my pursuit of bringing new life to Jewish cuisine. Thank you Gil Marks for your incredible works and contributions to the progression of Jewish cuisine.
This week’s recipe is Agristada which is “a thick, lemony, egg-based sauce served over vegetables and fish and used to thicken soups and stews” (EJF pg 5). One of the vegetables that this sauce was classically paired with is cauliflower. Instead of serving the sauce over cauliflower as demonstrated in EJF, I decided to create a pareve gratin utilizing a modernized preparation of the Agristada sauce as the base for the gratin. I lightened the weight of the sauce by using sparkling wine as the liquid component instead of broth. The effervescence of the wine makes the sauce airy. I removed the flour from the recipe and increased the number of egg yolks. Flour would destroy the bubbles from the sparkling wine nullifying the sauce’s airiness. Lastly, the top of the gratin is browned to create a crust. Egg based sauces lend themselves to a gratin because they brown easily and create a delicate crust under high heat. The final result is a decadent vegetable dish that can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.
1 ea zest of lemon
6 ea drops of lemon juice
6 ea egg yolks
2 oz sparkling wine
1 head cauliflower
2 T chives, minced
to taste salt
pinch white pepper, ground
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, liberally season the water with salt.
2. Clean the cauliflower and cut off the florets. Blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes, until the florets are very soft. Remove the cauliflower from the water, and reserve the water for the double boiler used to cook the Agristada sauce.
3. In a heat proof bowl, add the egg yolks and sparkling wine. Place the bowl over a double boiler (using the water from the cauliflower) and whisk until the mixture is thick, like pudding.
4. Remove the Agristada from the heat and transfer from the bowl it was cooked in to another bowl to prevent overcooking the sauce.
5. Add the lemon zest, juice, white pepper, and salt to taste.
6. In six 4 inch round oven safe ramekins, portion the cooked cauliflower evenly. Add a generous amount of chives to each ramekin, and fill each ramekin with enough sauce to cover the cauliflower.
7. Either with a cooking torch or under the broiler, brown the top of each gratin. All components are already fully cooked, this process is meant to warm the contents of the ramekin and create a golden crust on top.
July 9, 2012 | 7:07 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
Discovering Encyclopedia of Jewish Food has changed my life as a cook. I have always wanted to explore classic Jewish cuisine and find ways to contribute to its modernization. I am a firm believer that any craftsman, whether carpenter or chef, must understand the classics before trying to create something different. Gil Marks codified historic Jewish recipes. With the help of this text, I am able to study classic Jewish cuisine and begin creating new recipes.
This week’s entry in Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is Agraz. Gil Marks states, “Agraz refers to sour unripe grapes, the juice expressed from them (verjuice), and a sauce made from the grapes themselves” (EJF page 4). Verjuice is incredibly popular with chef geeks today. Mario Batali uses verjuice almost as much as he uses lard. It is an incredibly simple condiment that adds bright acidity to a dish. I was so excited to learn that we Jews have always loved verjuice as much as modern cooking nerds. I was even more excited when I realized that sour grapes are currently in season, and I was able to run to my local Sephardic market and pick-up a few bunches! Sour grapes are small unripe grapes. They are mother nature’s version of sour candy. Each berry is firm with tight skin and when chewed, they explode with a pleasant squirt of sour juice.
The recipe for Agraz that I created is inspired by the lively flavor of sour grapes, but I have to admit that it is a large departure from the recipe in the book. In the book there is a recipe for Sour Grape Sauce or Salsa Agraz. It combines sour grapes, tomato sauce, honey, water and sugar to make a classic Sephardic sauce typically served with lamb, fish or poultry (EJF page 5). Clearly, in this case salsa is not something that comes out of a jar and is served with tortilla chips. Regardless, my immediate thought after reading the classic recipe was literally Mexican style salsa made with sour grapes. I live in Los Angeles, I am surrounded by amazing Mexican food, and it is peak season for wonderfully sweet tomatoes. These factors gave me the idea to create a pico de gallo style salsa using sour grapes.
Traditional Mexican pico de gallo contains onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice. Rather than using standard tomatoes, I choose grape tomatoes. They are low acid tomatoes that are very sweet. Sour grapes are very sour and highly acidic. The sweet grape tomatoes keep the acidic level of the salsa balanced. Also, grape tomatoes have a similar texture and shape as the sour grapes. The finished salsa literally pops with each bite.
I am a firm believer that in order to truly create new recipes that represent a particular cuisine, a chef must first have a mastery of the classic recipes of that cuisine. With the information provided by Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, I was able to learn the classic recipe for Salsa Agraz and then create a modern one. Agraz Pico de Gallo is my new Jewish recipe, inspired by the ancient Jewish communities of southern Europe and influenced by the Mexican culture and summer produce in Los Angeles.
1C sour grapes, stem removed
1pt grape tomatoes, halved
3ea green onion, sliced thin
1ea serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1T cilantro, minced
to taste kosher salt
1. In a bowl, mash a few grapes to create a small pool of sour grape juice.
2. Add honey and some salt to the juice. Stir to make a light dressing.
3. Add the tomatoes, Serrano pepper, onion, cilantro and the remaining sour grapes. Toss all ingredients together making sure to coat all ingredients with the dressing.
July 3, 2012 | 12:22 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
Luxury apartments for rent! Luxury car sale this weekend! Luxury socks, get them while supplies last! The term Luxury is almost as overused as the word gourmet, so much that it has almost lost its meaning. Truly luxurious food typically utilizes scarce or expensive ingredients, and is usually difficult to prepare. However, with proper treatment and respect almost any ingredient or preparation, regardless of cost or skill level involved, can be luxurious. This week’s entry in Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is Adzhapsandali a humble vegetarian stew from Georgia (think Eurasia not peaches). At first glance, the recipe seems simple and plain; eggplant, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, etc. With proper treatment and respect, these simple ingredients are transformed into a luxurious stew.
There is a short “A” list of ingredients that are universally defined as luxurious. Foie gras is seen by many as the most luxurious ingredient. The truth is, foie gras is not like the other “A” list ingredients. It is simply the fattened liver of poultry (usually goose or duck). It is farm raised, not wild, not expensive to produce, and lends itself to very simple preparations. Unlike truffles or caviar, which are incredibly difficult to find in the wild and tend to be outrageously expensive, foie gras is a small production heirloom ingredient that is at its core very humble. Ultimately, the greatness of foie gras comes from the respect that craftsman dedicate to its production and preparation from farm to table.
I believe the ban on foie gras in the state of California is not only ludicrous but also troubling. In my opinion, the ancient craft of gavage, or the force feeding of poultry to create fatty livers, is one of the most brilliant agricultural techniques ever created. Farmers realized that by utilizing a bird’s natural tendency to gorge in preparation for migration, they could create an incredibly rich and versatile ingredient. The amount of care dedicated to the process of making foie gras is unparalleled. A clear example of this dedication is Eduardo Sousa, a Spanish foie gras producer who figured out how to get geese to gorge without being force fed by man. Some chefs see him as a “goose whisperer,” someone who is able to communicate with the birds. For many critics of foie gras production, they argue that all farmers should abandon traditional force feeding techniques and use the same system as Eduardo Sousa. The natural environment created by Sousa proves one thing, geese like to gorge! Why attack artisanal farmers when they are merely recreating a natural process for the birds. If you want to be alarmed by poultry related farming, head to Arkansas and see the millions of beakless and obese birds falling over each other’s feces as they wait for slaughter. In comparison to these massive farms, a foie gras farm almost seems spa like. The fight against foie gras production shows a lack of food education among lobbyists, and proves that unbridled emotions will always get in the way of good judgment.
Like foie gras, any humble ingredient can achieve luxury status with proper treatment and respect. Adzhapsandali is a dish that transforms eggplant from humble to regal. The stew includes fresh herbs and cayenne pepper. Usually, it is served with mchadi or corn cakes and yogurt. In order to make a truly fantastic dish with these ingredients, you must practice impeccable technique and proper seasoning (that means salt and pepper). I made some changes to the recipe to modernize the preparation and highlight the components. Rather than putting the herbs in the stew, and cooking out their freshness, I made an herb salad as garnish. Also, rather than finishing the stew with yogurt, I created a cayenne yogurt sauce as an acidic and spicy condiment. The finished stew is exquisite with its custardy soft eggplant, tender glazed potatoes, buttery sweet corn cakes and spicy-tangy yogurt sauce. Now that’s luxury!
Luxury in food is ultimately determined by the eater. Creating pretentious criteria to pigeon hole certain foods into different categories is not only ignorant but can also lead to destructive behavior, i.e. the fight against foie gras production. Ultimately, the best way to pursue luxurious food is by treating all ingredients with respect and practicing skillful technique.
2ea yellow onion, diced
7cloves garlic, minced
4ea russet potato, peeled, diced
1ea large purple eggplant
2ea tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
1ea habanero pepper
as needed olive oil
to taste kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, dice the eggplant, generously coat with olive oil and roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it is very tender.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Remove the stem end of the tomatoes, and score the bottom side with a small “X”. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 45 seconds, and then shock in ice cold water. Once cold, the skin of the tomato should easily peel from the scored end. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds and dice.
3. In the same boiling water, cook the diced potatoes for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, but not mushy. Once cooked, remove and reserve for the stew.
4. In a medium sized pot over medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the diced onions and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
5. Add the garlic and sweat until aromatic, about 3-5 minutes.
6. Add the tomato and habanero pepper (whole), along with a generous amount of kosher salt. Cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down.
7. To finish, remove the habanero pepper then add the boiled potatoes and roasted eggplant. Stir until the eggplant and potatoes are thoroughly coated.
2C corn meal
1.5C half and half
1C ricotta cheese
2ea lemon zest, 2 lemons
as needed butter
1. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients corn meal, salt and sugar.
2. in a separate bowl combine all of the wet ingredients half and half, ricotta cheese, eggs and lemon zest.
3. While gently whisking the wet ingredients, slowly add the dry ingredients. Continue until the mixture is slightly lumpy. Do not over whisk.
4. In a sauté pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add enough butter to lubricate the surface. Pour enough batter to make desired size corn cake.
5. When the edges of the cakes begin to bubble about 3-5minutes, gently flip and cook for an additional minute.
.25c Italian parsley leaves, fresh
.25c chive batons (1 inch long sticks), fresh
.25c mint leaves, fresh
1ea juice of 1 lemon
.25c olive oil
to taste kosher salt
to taste black pepper
1. Combine lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper to create a vinaigrette.
2. Lightly dress the fresh herbs.
.5ea juice of half a lemon
.5t cayenne pepper
1. Combine all ingredients, and whisk until smooth.
June 25, 2012 | 1:33 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
The single most incriminating dish of the Spanish Inquisition, Adafina, is the first entry in Gil Marks’ inspiring tome, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Reviewing the more than 300 recipes in this incredible book, a few critical facts about Jews become clear. We have been kicked out of almost every continent on the planet at one time or another. We embrace the culture of our current home country. We cook and eat a lot and often. In my opinion, the best way to show the Jew haters of past and present that we are still alive and stronger than ever, is to bring new life to the delicious recipes created by our ancestors. My goal is to cook every recipe in Gil Marks’ brilliant book, with a new approach and an undying respect for everyone who has contributed to Jewish cuisine.
Adafina is a complicated and layered Sephardic Sabbath stew, which was designed to sustain a large family throughout Shabbat. It brings new meaning to the idea “everything but the Sephardic kitchen sink.” In order to highlight the many components of the stew, I decided it would be better to remove some and cook them on their own. Here is the menu description for my version of Adafina:
Roulade of Lamb Riblets
merguez sausage, lemon-mint fava beans,
lamb-scented frigo and green garlic harissa
Step out of your comfort zone, buy some butcher’s twine and tap into your innate animalistic love of manipulating raw meat. While the full recipe is written below, I would like to expand on a few important steps. Creating a tight bundle of meat is critical to this recipe because the sausage stuffing and rack will cook as one protein. The result is buttery soft lamb rib meat and paté like sausage filling. The rest of the procedure for the stew is classic braising technique. Browning the rib bundles over high heat is another essential detail. “Brown” means let the meat crackle and pop in the pan, without tampering, until the neighbors can smell lamb. Deep dark coloring of the meat is critical to giving the final stew complex layers of flavor. The secret to the frigo is using lamb fat as the cooking lipid, and fortifying the lamb flavor in the grains with roasted trim. Adafina is defined by its layers of ingredients and flavors. Building a background lamb flavor in the frigo makes the final result explode with rich lamb taste.
Adafina was designed to be eaten throughout Shabbat. I have maintained this function of the dish by creating a chilled Adafina wrap or “Adafinurrito” that can be eaten on Saturday afternoon. Simply pureé the vegetables from the stew to create a refried bean like spread. In a large piece of fresh lavash, layer the vegetable pureé and the rest of the leftover ingredients and wrap like a burrito. This is a fantastic indulgence to prepare you for a great Shabbos snooze.
Ferdinand and Isabella failed in their attempt to convert Jews to Catholicism. Miraculously, Jewish life and Judaism are still alive and possibly more vibrant than ever before in its history. Celebrate the Jews of Spain by making a delicious Adafina stew and taste how delicious modern Jewish life can be.
6 racks lamb riblets
3 ea lamb sausage, cut in half
1 ea sweet potato, diced
2 ea onion, diced
1 ea quince, diced
5 ea cloves of garlic, minced
24oz chicken broth
1t cumin, ground
1 ea cinnamon stick, whole
12ea medjool dates, pitted and diced
as needed olive oil
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper
1. Cut lamb sausages in half, place one half of the sausage in the wide part of the lamb rack, roll tightly and tie with butcher’s twine. Repeat for all lamb racks.
2. Place a large pan suitable for braising that will accommodate all of the meat and vegetables, over high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the brasier.
3. Brown lamb bundles over high heat on all sides, until the meat is dark brown.
4. Remove the meat, and remove excess fat that has rendered from the meat. Leave enough fat in the bottom of the pan to cover, and reserve the rest of the fat for the frigo.
5. Add the onions and sweat for 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and sweat until aromatic.
7. Add the sweet potato, dates and quince, and sweat for 5 minutes.
8. Add the cumin and cinnamon along with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sweat for another 5 minutes stirring continuously.
9. Put the meat back in the brasier along with any juice that may have wept while the meat was resting.
10. Add enough chicken stock to come at least half way up on the meat.
11. Bring to a simmer, and either simmer on the stovetop or in a 350 degree over for approximately 90minutes, or until the meat is fork tender.
1 cup frigo
2 cups chicken stock
1 ea onion diced
1 ea lamb shank bone, roasted
1t lamb fat, rendered
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a cooking sheet, place the lamb shank bone and roast until evenly dark brown.
2. In a medium sized sauce pot over medium heat, add enough rendered lamb fat to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the diced onions and sweat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the frigo and cook with the onions for another 5 minutes stirring continuously.
5. Add the chicken stock along with the shank bone and a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
6. Simmer until the frigo is the consistency of porridge, about 25 minutes.
4oz fava beans, peeled
1t chopped mint
1/4t lemon zest
1t lemon juice
1t olive oil
tt kosher salt
tt black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
2. Shuck the fava beans and blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
3. Shock the favas in ice cold water.
4. Peel the outer shell from the beans.
5. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to make a light vinaigrette.
6. Add the fava beans to the dressing and toss.
June 19, 2012 | 6:03 pm
Posted by Michael Israel
Republican or Democrat, Atheist or Believer, Jew or Foodie. Most agree that the first two comparisons are well known as groups with opposing ideas, but few think of the third comparison as opposing groups. How can a Jew be a foodie or even think of being a chef in America? Chefdom in America is associated with a few ubiquitous characteristics; clever cooking related tattoos, closet full of pork inspired graphic t’s that proclaim “will work for lardo,” and a publicly displayed sense of pride in pursuing a promiscuous and risky lifestyle. Ultimately, the modern image of a chef is not someone bubby would want at her Shabbat table. Herein resided my struggle, where do I, a nice Jewish boy from Orange County, fit into the world of young American chefs. I don’t have tattoos, I don’t have shirts with pigs on them, and my life as a newly married man is far from risqué. The fact is I don’t fit in, and I am proud of it.
My name is Michael Israel and I was born to be a cook. Ever since I could say blintz, I have been in the kitchen, cooking. Growing up, I tried to do the right thing. I got good grades, did my best to go to a good college, considered the usual paths a good Jew should follow (doctor, lawyer, accountant). After graduating from college, I realized that my love of food and cooking went well beyond being a hobbyist. My path was clearly marked, and I knew I wanted to be a chef. I enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America to study cuisine and realize my dream of being a professional cook.
I have been lucky to live in many great American cities, and also spent a year living in Europe. In my brief time on this planet I have had the chance to work for some of the best chefs and restaurateurs alive today. My path to owning my own kosher food truck has been exciting, challenging and arduous. I love food, I love great ingredients, and I love impeccable technique. I am a cook, but more importantly I am a Jew. So how then, can these two things exist and flourish together? The cure to this disease is Kosher Bacon.
Being Jewish is not easy. Our major holidays revolve around fasting or remembering how awful our existence once was. Many of the rules and regulations of Judaism can seem limiting and stifling, especially the laws of kashrut. As a chef, I have always wrestled with kashrut and the business of kosher food. There are many things about the kosher world I question, but ultimately, I am in awe of the fact that life is so good for modern Jews that we can carry out such debates. I am not interested in complaining about the fact that I can’t utilize traif in my cooking. My pursuit is to use my culinary knowledge and skills to make delicious food that celebrates Jewish life.
Typically, when other chefs find out that I am kosher they ask, “You don’t eat pork but do you eat bacon?” From New England Clam Chowder to Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast, it is hard to be an American and not eat bacon. The key components to its deliciousenss are the cure, smooth fat, and proper smoking. Pork fat and young animal fat, like veal and lamb, are smooth. When an animal ages the fat becomes course, as though there is sand in the fat. The next time you are throwing a mixed grill, squish the fat of a piece of lamb, beef and veal and take note of the differences in texture and spreadability.
Ultimately the goal of this blog is to teach and inspire the reader to celebrate Judaism and Jewish life through cooking. The recipes are geared to teach the reader to become a more confident and able cook. If there is something in the recipe that you cannot replicate, use common logic and try to adjust the recipe so that it works in your kitchen. Never fear failure in the kitchen, just know that any challenges or shortcomings will only make you better prepared for the next recipe.
Yields: 1.5 pounds
2 pounds Veal Shoulder
.25oz Tinted Curing Mix, aka Pink Salt
1oz Brown Sugar