Gefilte fish

Depending on your experience with it, the words “gefilte fish” will have one of three effects on you:

  • You might say “What’s a gefilte fish?  Is it like a salmon?”
  • You might involuntarily gag a little bit
  • You might start salivating, and say to your self “Get the chrain!”

You’re most likely to have the first response if you’re not Jewish (or if your not an Ashkenazi Jew). The second response  most often comes from those who’ve only ever eaten the supermarket version of this delicacy, which I think is abominable.  The third is what the children of Jewish mothers who were good balabustas are likely to say.  Because homemade gefilte fish is amazing. […]

The Shegetz’s guide to food for the Jewish high holidays

If, like me,  you’re a not-Jewish guy (a shegetz), but are married to someone who is, Jewish holidays sneak up on you.  Most of them seem to be movable feasts, falling on different dates each year, like Easter does in the Christian calendar. So unlike, say Christmas, which is pretty predictable, I never know when there’s one just around the corner. I’m usually just getting over a massive effort in the kitchen for some other project (most recently, preserving the summer’s bounty) when Daniel asks something like  “Are we making gefilte fish this weekend? It’s Rosh Hashana, you know.” […]

The joy and sorrow of pâtés en croûte, Part I

I have always loved a good pâté. From sturdy, coarse pâtés de campagne, to the ultra-luxurious, (if controversial) silken pâté de foie gras – if they’re on a menu, I’ll order them.  There’s something fascinating about how a chef can turn some of the more unappetizing parts of an animal into something wonderful to eat.  (I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to eat meat, you should make an attempt to use as much of the animal as possible.) I marvel at the ingenuity of the cooks – probably farmer’s wives – who decided they were going to take a bunch of liver and fat (and maybe some meat, if there was any left) and cook it up into something really tasty.  It’s alchemy to me. […]

“French” bread

(Skip ahead to recipe)

As I promised in my post about our recent trip to France, I’m writing today about bread. I’ve been making bread for most of my life.  I started when I was in Grade 7, or perhaps a little before then.  That was the time when 10-speed bicycles first appeared, at least for the mass market.  I desperately wanted one … all the cool kids had one, after all.  But my parents felt that my red Supercycle was just fine, and weren’t prepared to fork over the cash for a bike that would almost certainly be stolen.  So, I started making bread and selling it. First to the neighbours; I’d rake in about 6 bucks a day from them.  The family next door, as it happened, owned a camp-ground north of where we lived … and when they offered to buy and then re-sell as much bread as I could bake, I realized I’d hit pay dirt.  I made 30-40 loaves every other day. Of course, I had expenses in the form of the ingredients required … though I didn’t contribute to the electric bill, which was surely going through the roof with the oven being on for so many hours a day. I suspect my parents felt it might have been more economical for them to have just bought me the bike, but I think they were also proud of my gumption, even if my business plan was a little shaky. […]

A re-energising trip

D and I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to London, Paris, Reims and Marseille, where we went with a dear friend to celebrate a significant birthday he was having. Our friend, who is an artist, was dying to go see an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London of John Singer Sargent’s portraits of his friends, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to turn this into an extended birthday celebration, and have a few nice meals at the same time. It all started modestly enough. We were to go to London to see the Sargent exhibition, and then take the train to Paris for a couple of nights to explore the food scene there, and then fly home. As things tend to go with us, however, a small side-trip got added here, and another there, and next thing we knew, a 4-night getaway had turned into a 10-day holiday with additional stops in Champagne and Provence. […]

Do-it-yourself orecchiette

Last summer, Daniel and I went to Apulia, Italy for a holiday. We ended our stay a little early because the weather in the beach town of Gallipoli promised to be steady rain for 7 days … and you don’t want to be in a provincial beach town if you can’t go to the beach. About the only thing you can do if it’s raining is sleep, eat and drink … and based on the spectacular meals we had had for the first few days, we knew that if we stayed, we’d put on 20 pounds each. Because Apulia is known for pasta.  Beautiful, toothsome, fattening pasta.  It is featured on menus at both lunch and dinner; I was led to understand that most families eat it at least daily.  And one type pasta in particular is practically a trademark of Apulia: orecchiette. […]