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Filtering by Tag: Kitchen

Gwen Beinart's Teiglach • Charlene Beinart

Brett Rawson

Note from Curator Rozanne Gold: What a lovely surprise to receive this beautiful story all the way from New Zealand.  Psychologist Charlene Beinart learned about “Handwritten Recipes” while listening to a podcast of “A Taste of the Past,” hosted by culinary historian Linda Pelaccio. The show, recorded in a hip studio at Roberta’s restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, managed to tickle the tastebuds of a childhood in Durban (South Africa.)  How I love that connection! Teiglach (also spelled taiglach) is a sweet treat eaten on Jewish holidays, but most popular for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).  This recipe is particularly fascinating to me because the teiglach of my youth were small balls of pastry boiled in honey and stuck together in pyramids with bits of candied fruit.  Gwen’s teiglach are, instead, large, oval rings of pastry afloat in amber syrup. Who needs to wait for a holiday?    

BY CHARLENE BEINART

My mom, Gwen Beinart (nee Sackstein), born in 1936, has always been the heartbeat of my love for baking. Over her lifetime she gathered a collection of recipes handwritten onto small cards — some her own, and others gathered from family and friends, tested, tasted, and kept as part of her core repertoire.

Of Lithuanian and German Jewish heritage, I am the second generation born in South Africa, and the youngest of three girls.  A typical Jewish immigrant history, my grandparents on both sides came to South Africa looking for a better life. They were very poor and my parents wanted nothing more than to give us the best possible life and education. My father was a self-made businessman and my mother was a very creative homemaker.

Of all of her recipes, there’s one that brings back the most vivid memories of delicious family time: Teiglach.  Syrupy, crunchy, chewy donut-shaped biscuits, these sweet offerings were at the centre of every gathering and a symbol of the importance of the occasion being celebrated.  This recipe was what my mother was best known for.  My emotional attachment to it was so profound that it took me more than 20 years after her death to make them. 

I am remembering, from my childhood in Durban, all the many conditions needed to make perfect teiglach.  First: the weather.  It must be a humid-less, sunny day, because the teiglach got dried out on my parents’ brick-paved patio before being boiled in syrup. Next: the equipment. You had to have the right pot, with a heavy metal lid and a brick placed on top to make it completely airtight. Then: no draughts! My sisters and I knew to never open the kitchen door and let in a draught when the teiglach were boiling on the stovetop!

I was always excited when my mom made them because it meant something important was happening!  Most likely, we were going to Johannesburg to be with my aunts, uncles, and cousins for Rosh Hashanah or Pesach.  Huge round Tupperware containers would be filled with my mom's teiglach and offered as gifts.  Everyone made a fuss: teiglach were considered a great delicacy.  Best of all, the containers were never returned empty — my aunts filled them to the brim with treats for our long car journey back to Durban.

After my mom passed away in 1991, we (my husband, three sons, and I) moved to New Zealand.  Naturally, my mother’s treasured box of handwritten recipe cards came with us.  But making teiglach felt far too daunting (emotionally and otherwise) to do on my own. Good results never seemed attainable. 

Just a few years ago, when my sister Kerry visited from London, we agreed to set aside a day to (finally!) make my mom’s teiglach. We had her Kenwood mixer, the right heavy-lidded pot, her lengthy handwritten recipe, and we felt her loving guidance — along with that of our other sister Elona, supporting us from England.

The family was well briefed: no opening the kitchen door, no draughts!    

Kerry and I put our memories together and got started.  Kerry remembered the teigel shape and we molded the dough before setting them out to dry in the sun. I remembered the three-step process to stir the teiglach once they were boiling in the pot: lift the lid, wipe off the condensation, and stir. Do this all quickly (remember, no draughts!) Of course this resulted in many hot syrup burns — scars I wear with pride!

While I always knew making teiglach was far more than following a recipe, I was not prepared for the overwhelming feeling I experienced when we opened the pot of the boiling treats for the first of six stirs.  The sweet, syrupy smell flooded me with lifelong memories of love, happiness, and of our beloved mom.    

Teiglach photo.jpeg

Mommy’s Teiglach (Gwen Beinart)
Note: Adjustments for gas stove made by Charlene

A Photo of Charlene's mother, Gwen Beinart

A Photo of Charlene's mother, Gwen Beinart

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Tablespoon Brandy
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
½ teaspoon baking powder

Flour: 3 cups to start
Syrup: 2 lbs or 1 kilo tin golden syrup,
3 cups sugar, and 2 ½ cups water

Directions:

1. Slightly beat 6 eggs with oil, add brandy, salt, orange rind and then baking powder.

2. Add 3 cups flour sifted (one at a time).

3. Take a little bit on a small heap of flour and work in flour until dough is soft, slightly sticky but pliable. Roll into shapes in floured hands.

4. Put into floured tray to dry – preferably in sun for approximately 20 minutes, s turning over after 10 minutes

5. In the meantime, put syrup, sugar and water on to boil in large heavy pot (or weighted lid).

6. When boiling fast add teiglach. Close lid and boil on high for 5 mins

7. Then turn down to medium/high (low to medium on gas) to boil for 30-35 mins (26 – 30 on gas) before lifting lid. (Very important to weigh down the lid!)

8. Wipe lid and stir in quick motion every 5 mins until done (an additional approximately 20-30 minutes, or six stirs). Total time on the stove is 1 hour 10 mins according to Mommy but on gas probably a total of 55 mins)

9. Special note for gas : after 1st 5 min fast boil move pot to medium size plate on medium gas for 30 mins. Then do the lid/wipe/stir @ 5 min interval either 5 or 6 times in total.

10. When done take off 1 ½ cups of syrup for next batch

11. Then put in 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger andhalf to ¾ cup boiling water down the side of the pot.

12. Stir until bubbling stops and take out teiglach onto damp board or plate. Leave to cool.

13. Can roll in chopped nuts if desired.

14. Store in plastic air tight container.

15. If making further batch add ½ used syrup and ½ new to same other ingredients – usually better

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Charlene Beinart works as a psychologist in private practice and her husband is a university lecturer. She writes, "Our sons have turned out to be far better cooks than me, and their interest in food history has captured my own. We are regular listeners of Linda Pelaccio's podcast, A Taste of the Past. Our oldest son is currently a MA student at Hebrew University, researching the lives and stories of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants to South Africa through the cookbooks they created and the recipes they passed down to their children."

Pumpkin Fritters • Jonathan Paul Katz

Brett Rawson

A note from curator Rozanne Gold: Anna Freiman, native of Lithuania, speaker of nine languages, and devotee of Russian literature, herself sounds like an elegant character in a Dostoevsky novel. After surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, she joined her older brothers in South Africa, and later emigrated to Israel. Her grandson Jonathan, a writer (and creator of a Jewish historical cooking blog), found Annushka’s recipe for pumpkin fritters in a red binder his mother has kept for thirty years. With great affection he says, “As a teacher, my grandmother’s handwriting in both Latin and Hebrew scripts was crisp and exact; the fluidity of the cursive was unmistakably correct and undoubtedly all her own.” Jonathan, whose roots spread from South Africa, Israel, Chicago and New York, expresses his cooking “as deeply Jewish and totally unboxed” — just like his exceptional grandmother. You can enjoy more of his writing and extensive research at www.flavorsofdiaspora.com

BY JONATHAN PAUL KATZ

Every fall and winter, I see advertisements and signboards for pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattés, pumpkin doughnuts — but none for the pumpkin dessert of my childhood: Pumpkin fritters — a popular dish from my native South Africa. This recipe, lovingly written by my late grandmother Anna “Annushka” Freiman (née Smit), is at the heart of this story.

Annushka died in 1999, but her legacy lives on in the tales about her and in the recipes she left behind. In the 1980s, she typed out a cookbook for the family — including her famous dill soup, fish curry, and the meat stews she learned to make in South Africa. In addition, she blessed everyone dear to her with dozens of handwritten recipes. Those given to my mother on her visits to Annushka in Israel, were gathered in a treasured red binder — one that would forever sit alongside the typed recipe book. These tastes of my childhood became a priceless link to the life of an extraordinary woman.

My grandmother was born in Panevezys, Lithuania in 1917, in the famous yeshiva town known in Yiddish as Ponevezh. She was one of nine children in a well-off family who made their living as bottlers of Pilsner beer. Like many well-educated Lithuanian Jews, she grew up in a multilingual environment — High German, Hebrew, Lithuanian, and Russian were spoken at school, while Yiddish was spoken at home. And she learned English and Polish at some point along the way. Annushka survived the Holocaust in the Kaunas Ghetto and Bergen-Belsen, but tragically lost her first daughter, her first husband, and most of her siblings. After the war, she moved to South Africa, remarried and had three children, including my mother. In the mid-1960s, she moved to Israel and taught Hebrew.

Soon enough, Annushka became well-known for her prowess in the kitchen. The dishes she made were hardly traditional — she had a love for Middle Eastern cuisine and the Afrikaner and Indian specialties she learned in South Africa. Other recipes harkened back to her roots: Gefilte fish — peppery, in the Lithuanian tradition — or her aromatic dill soup.

She brought many recipes from Lithuania, but mostly enjoyed the black rye bread and farmer’s cheese that were the mainstays of the Lithuanian Jewish diet for centuries. I am certain that the tastes of her childhood carried over into her cooking — hence her pumpkin fritters are less sweet than many of their counterparts among other South African communities. They are also far more elegant — befitting a literary woman who could read, write, and speak nine languages and was known for her elegant demeanor. (As a young woman, she was also known as “Annushka di Sheine,” Annushka the Beautiful, for her elegance and beauty.).

My grandmother spoke in allusions with frequent references to Dostoyevsky. Ten hours of her mellifluous words are available at the Yale University Library as proof. Her descriptions of the detritus of everyday life recalled the great works of Yiddish and Russian literature, imbued with a folk wisdom all her own. But her recipes begged for a bit of wisdom of one’s own — be it the dollop of sour cream to add to the dill soup, or ingredients, or measurements, which had been omitted or simply “forgotten.”

My grandmother died when I was a child, but I distinctly remember making her pumpkin fritters with my mother in our family’s cramped New York City kitchen. (I “helped” by putting things into the bowl). My mother was always looking at the recipe on the counter as she mixed the batter, and the smoke from the cooking oil filled the apartment with a sweetly burnished smell that I still associate with autumn. On one very rainy day, I remember how the smoke looked like an extension of the cloud outside the window.

When I was 20, I spent a few months in South Africa doing archival research in winter which, in South Africa, takes place June through August. While there, I had the chance to eat pampoenkoekies – Afrikaner-style pumpkin fritters — at a coffee shop in the Cape Town neighborhood of Rondebosch. And though they did not taste exactly the same as the dish of my youth — they were a good deal sweeter, with a touch of clove — the bite pulled me into a Proustian reverie.

Poignantly, I, too, have just discovered that Annushka had “forgotten” an ingredient — and I struggled to make the recipe as written, watching the fritters disintegrate before my eyes. My mother advised that my grandmother always included flour in the mixture, but alas, there was none in the recipe. I marveled to find this omission and Annushka immediately came to life. (Handwriting is so often indicative of what is not written.) And as I slowly stirred the flour into the bowl, I felt a small nudge, and heard her whisper “Enjoy in good health.”

The recipe, as written in Annushka’s teacher’s hand, with my additions in parentheses.

Pumpkin Fritters • Your loving “Sheine”

Ingredients:

2 pounds raw pumpkin
[1-1/2 cups sifted flour]
3 eggs
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
½ level teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence [author note: vanilla extract]
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
2 [level teaspoons] baking powder

Directions:

Peel and slice pumpkin. Cook slowly in very little water till soft (about 20 minutes). Strain off water and mash up very well into a pulp. Cool it completely.

When cool, add slightly beaten eggs (just with a fork) and then add the balance of the ingredients, but the baking powder is added last.

Drop tablespoonful[s] into shallow oil (not too hot, as they burn quickly). Fry till golden brown on both sides. Makes 40-50 fritters.

Note: The fritters make a delicious dessert and can be served with cinnamon and sugar. They keep well in the fridge for quite a few days – if not eaten up immediately.
Bete’avon ulabri’ut! [Bon appétit and to your health!]

Gramm's Banana Bread • Safiya Oni Brown

Brett Rawson

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A Note from Curator Rozanne Gold: Allison Radecki first met Safiya Oni Brown during a baby-wearing workshop for new moms with wriggly infants in their arms. Allison, with her newborn Tabitha, sat in a circle while Safiya, a holistic health counselor and child whisperer, demonstrated how baby-wearing could calm even the crankiest kid into a happy state. Years later, their paths crossed over a  kombucha drink that Safiya had prepared, and Allison asked for a healthy recipe for the New Year. Gramms’ banana bread was reborn.  Her original is here (prepared and photographed by me), along with Safiya’s update.  I love the verve of Safiya’s powerful penmanship, and of the story told.

BY SAFIYA ONI BROWN

This recipe was given to me by my Gramms, Cecilia Sylvester Jett, who, after my husband, was my favorite person in the world.  Gramms, my mother’s mother, was an amazing cook.  But after becoming a vegetarian, she focused more on health and less on aesthetics, and in later years was known for her nut and celery loaf (a holiday favorite), and her famous banana bread.

Gramms was born in Detroit and enjoyed clipping recipes from the Sunday Detroit Free Press. Because we are a family of foodies, she often invited me to her room to explore a recipe she found in the paper.  I remember going through the Betty Crocker Children’s Cook Book, from which I made every recipe that did not involve meat.

My parents became fascinated with health and nutrition after visiting a Seventh-day Adventist Church in the early 1970s. They switched their diets almost immediately, and when they returned to Michigan, my Mom was glowing with all the knowledge she had accumulated.  It made sense to both of my uncles who were in the medical field, and they became vegetarians, too.

Gramms was beautiful. She carried herself with authority and lent a helping hand to many people, whether they were renters at her different properties or just folks in her neighborhood.  She was a social worker while raising her seven children. She cherished everything involving her grandchildren. Until I was ten, she gathered all thirteen of us to enjoy at least a week together as a family, going on trips and spending holidays at her house.  

For decades, I kept her recipe for banana bread on top of my fridge, hidden, so that it didn’t get lost. The original recipe, from the Detroit Free Press, is scribbled in my own writing.  I took it down during a phone call to Gramms before one of the many dinner parties I loved to throw in high school and college.  

This banana bread was the spark-plug for a small business idea that generated extra money after college. I also used her recipe as a base for zucchini-and-carrot spice bread that became a great seller as part of a line of all natural, organic sweet breads. I sold them to juice bars, cafes, and all-natural eateries. Eventually I gave this up because it was lots of work and barely profitable, but it was fun, and certainly a wonderful connection to my grandmother.  It spurred me to study at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  

In addition to the intoxicating perfume of the wonderful banana bread that would waft from her kitchen, I am reminded of another favorite fragrance as I write this: that of sun-warmed tomatoes, straight from her garden.  We would eat them sliced in sandwiches, lightly salted and peppered, with a farm-fresh egg on Ezekiel bread. No doubt, these vivid memories informed my career choice later on — linking food and well-being.  

Gramms died when my son, who is now 8, was just six months old. She was on her deathbed when I got a frantic call from my mom.  She feared Gramms would die before I could see her. That night we drove nine and a half hours to Detroit to share her last moments.  As I gently performed reiki on her frail body, I could feel all of the hurt and gnarled memories evaporate.  She died in peace seven minutes later.

I now make Gramms’ banana bread during winter holidays but also whenever I want to bring an edible gift somewhere.  The reaction is the same every time: “OMG this is so good, can I please have the recipe?”  

Here it is. And, Happy New Year. 

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Safiya’s Banana Bread

Ingredients:

½ cup whole wheat flour or spelt flour
½ cup flax meal
½ cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup organic butter (at room temperature)
8 tablespoons date sugar
1 egg
1-¼ cup mashed bananas
¼ cup organic yogurt
8 tablespoons date sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together first five ingredients.  In another bowl blend together the butter, date sugar, and egg.  Mash bananas, measure yogurt and set aside.  Alternate mixing the creamed sugar mixture, mashed bananas, and the yogurt into the flour mixture until the batter is incorporated. Pour mixture into an ungreased 9 x 5 x 3 in. loaf pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes.  For muffins, bake 30 minutes.  

Suggestions: Add 1 cup of crushed walnuts. When bananas become too bruised, throw them in the freezer for your next batch of banana bread.  

Safiya Oni Brown is a Quantum Healer, Whole Food Family Counselor, Child Whisperer, Universal Life Minister, Baby-Wearing Aficionado, Fermentation Expert, Holistic Health Counselor and the Co-Owner of Quantum Kombucha & Dr. Brown’s Healing Water. She specializes in stress reduction, illness recovery, and natural family rearing through whole food preparation, fermentation, and Quantum healing.  For more information on Safiya visit www.radiantalchemy.org  

Vodka Sauce • Allison Radecki

Brett Rawson

Note from Curator Rozanne Gold: This touching story focuses on the re-kindling of father-daughter memories through the unexpected discovery of a handwritten recipe. It is testament to the emotional power that “chicken scratches” can hold. Told by Allison Radecki, a food writer and culinary tour guide, the poignant tale is as much character study as it is a love story. Allison’s neighborhood-based walks in Brownstone Brooklyn trace the history of immigration and culinary change, with each footstep an invocation of her dad’s love of food and people. This hastily scribbled handwritten note on a random piece of paper acts as a time machine to past meals. Over the years, other family members have added comments and drawings to the recipe’s edges, serving to preserve a multi-generational bond and all the memories it holds. Thank you, Allison. 

Vodka Sauce By Allison Radecki

I always assume that everyone’s kitchen contains a recipe archive; a repository stuffed with newspaper clippings, ripped pages from notebooks and other treasured bits of chicken scratch. My collection lives in a practically un-openable kitchen drawer — a space stuffed so tightly, papers burst out at you like a canister of spring-loaded plastic snakes.   

Sure, it would make more sense to gather these papers into a book, slip them within plastic sleeves for easier organization. Yet, for me, the rummaging is the process: the touching of old newsprint, the disarray, the bits of spiral edges that flutter to the kitchen floor like New Year’s confetti in Times Square. Each archive excavation unearths an unexpected relic that can awaken a vivid memory. This is what happened when I uncovered my father’s scrawled instructions for vodka sauce while rooting around for something completely different.

My father, Joseph Radecki, did not cook. He relied on a few simple dishes — scrambled eggs, plain pizza by the slice, ‘veal parm.’ He adored a good prime rib. “The man needs instructions to boil water,’ was my mother’s classic line. This was technically, not true. The only thing I remember him cooking at the stovetop were boiled ‘tube steaks,’ or hot dogs, as they are known to the rest of the world.  

A former police detective and taxi driver, he stumbled into a post-retirement business of showing people “his NYC.” To his clients he was ‘Joe the Cop’, storyteller, procurer of hard-to-get tickets, scholar of city history. “I could get you a seat at the Last Supper if it happens again in New York,” was part of his spiel. I believed him.  Many did, for good reason, and sent their friends to find him.

This recipe for vodka sauce, served with penne pasta, comes from a small, Manhattan dining room, Da Tommaso, with no more than 20 seats. There, the Albanian chef, raised in Italy, prepares classic, Italian meals and does it well.

My Dad used this restaurant as his second office (his first, being the fax-strewn passenger seat of his Chevy Suburban).  He’d bring clients in to dine and used it as a pick-up location for purchases from ticket scalpers. And it was the site of countless family meals. Long after the post-theater diners had paid their checks, we’d stay late and gossip with the host and waiters as they loosened their white jackets, hearing the list of stars that were glimpsed in the dining room that week. If you spoke the words, “Joe the Cop sent me,” (or were recognized as one of his daughters), you never needed a reservation to get in the door, regardless of the time of day.

When my sister discovered the magic that occurred when tomato, vodka, and cream came together, she would rarely order anything else. After nudging my Dad to see if the chef would share his recipe, he came home with this rough outline. Fittingly, it is written on the back of a printed fax from a couple from Louisville, Kentucky, asking for transportation to the Plaza Hotel and suggestions for “things to see in the Big Apple."

Over the years, this recipe became a family collaboration. My mother, a gold medalist in the sport of highlighting, couldn’t resist illuminating words in fluorescent yellow. Her comments (“guard w/ your life!”) and queries (“sauce,” “1/4 cup?”) are scattered about the page of vague instructions.  My sister’s doodles are the tell-tale sign of her presence. Perhaps she was imagining the meals to come.

I look at this recipe and I can hear my father’s pen. The short, solid motions he made when jotting down flight numbers from his ever-present Dictaphone.  As a “graduate of the school of Hard Knocks,” but never college, he was self-conscious about his writing. Not once did I see him use cursive.  Often, he would ask me or my sister to write the last names of clients on his airport arrival signs. When he discovered word-processing (and stopped fighting with the computer printer), he never looked back. “No one wants to see my boxy letters,” he would say.

I do. It’s been over two years since he died. I miss him terribly. I even miss his scattered papers. How unexpected it was to reconnect with him through his block print and this recipe.

Vodka Sauce

Virgin olive oil
Let oil get hot
Throw a little shallots
Speck of red pepper
Little vodka (1/2 shot)
Tomato
Touch of Cream