Italians Fall in Love With Jewish Goose Salami

— by Daniela Enriquez

One of Italy’s newest culinary trends is coming from an unexpected source: the country’s Jewish heritage.

The Cantone family, which has been producing goose salami for more than 40 years, wrote in its website that the connection between the area of Lomellina, Italy and the sausage is dating back to the 11th century.

Today, Italian goose salami is becoming much more popular, and even has a group of aficionados.

An Italian journalist and visiting scholar at the Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington, D.C., Daniel Moro, said that “Italian goose salami is better than the meat from France.”

More after the jump.
For the last three years, The Brunoldi Ceci Association organized an annual “Jewish Style Lunch” in Lomellina to showcase the trend, with the help of other institutions, such as the Order of the Frog and Goose Salami of Lomellina.

In the latest event, last November, the attendance more than doubled compared to the previous year: about 100 participants, 80% of whom non-Jews. Except for Moro, the president of the Jewish Agency in Italy, Claudia De Benedetti, was also present.

This event is part of the “Traditions and Traces of Jewish Cuisine” initiative, which focuses on the strong link between Northern Italy, in particular the area between Milan and Turin, and the tradition of making goose salami.

Locals showed strong interest in this tradition, as they have finally discovered the origin of the “Jewish Pork,” which they have been eating for centuries.

The Brunoldi Ceci Association’s spokesperson, Gianluca Cominetti, said, “We owe the success of our initiative to the strong link that exists between Jewish cuisine and our land.”

Following the pattern of the past two events, everything about the lunch was “goose based,” with dishes made of geese exclusively from the Lomellina area:


Synagogue of Casale Monferrato.

The lunch began with an appetizer of goose liver and salami. A goose and bean risotto constituted the first dish, and stewed goose with polenta was served as the second.

The meal was accompanied by kosher Italian wines: Bonarda Croatina, Bonarda Donelasco and Barbera del Monferrato Kasher.

Topping off the meal was the traditional Krumiri, a biscotti home-made by the Rossi-Portinaro family since 1878.

The event was concluded with a guided tour of the Synagogue of Casale Monferrato.

Moro said that “plans for exporting these kosher products to the U.S., in particular goose salami, are in the works. In fact, Italy already exports kosher Italian wines and biscotti to the New World.”

Tahini-Carrot Cake for Tu B’Shvat

— by Ronit Treatman

During the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the “New Year of the Trees,” it is always freezing in Philadelphia. I enjoy celebrating with foods that incorporate dry fruits and nuts, to honor the trees, and in hopes that spring will arrive soon.  

One of Israel’s most creative chefs, Yaron Albalak, has created a cake for Tu B’Shvat which is infused with the flavors of Israel’s trees. Almond extract, date honey, dried apricots and pistachio nuts pay homage to the bounty nature has blessed us with.  

This moist, delicious cake pairs perfectly with a cup of hot tea.

Full recipe after the jump.
Tahini-Carrot Cake — Adapted from chef Yaron Albalak

For the batter:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur or almond extract
  • 1/2 cup raw tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured dry apricots, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the garnish:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the ingredients for the batter in a bowl, and mix well.
  3. Pour into an oiled Bundt pan.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes. (Check the cake with a wooden toothpick. If necessary, allow to bake longer.)
  5. Drizzle the cake with Silan date honey, garnish with shaved halva and pistachios.  

Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew

— by Ronit Treatman

Nothing feels more nurturing on a cold winter day than a pot of stew bubbling over the stove. Chicken and root vegetables are inexpensive ingredients that can be combined to make a satisfying meal for a large crowd.

Full recipe after the jump.
Chicken and Root Vegetable Stew

  • 4 lbs of chicken drumsticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 4 cups of any combination of potatoes, parsley root, carrots, beets, parsnip, rutabaga, turnips, or fennel, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pot.  
  2. Brown the chicken drumsticks, then set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot.
  4. Saute the onion and leeks over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add the root vegetables.
  6. Saute them with the onion for a few minutes.
  7. Add the wine.
  8. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  9. Add the seared drumsticks.
  10. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  11. Add the dry bay leaf.
  12. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer.
  13. Cook the stew for 60 minutes.

Serve with warm, crusty bread.

The Shtetl Krupnik Experience


Suillus granulatus mushrooms, colloquially referred to as the “weeping” or “granulated” bolete.

— by Ronit Treatman

When I was a young girl, my grandmother and I would relive one of her favorite experiences from her childhood in Poland: picking wild mushrooms for krupnik, the Polish mushroom barley soup.

We woke up before dawn and drove to the pine forests surrounding Jerusalem. We arrived at the forest just as dawn broke.

The majestic pine trees became visible with the pink light of early morning. The crisp air was infused with the aroma of the trees. As we started hiking, the dry pine needles crunched underfoot.

The type of wild mushroom we picked is called Suillus granulatus, colloquially referred to as the “weeping” or “granulated” bolete.

Full recipe after the jump.
These mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with the pine trees: The mushrooms extract nutrients from the roots of the trees. In exchange, they improve the soil so that the trees have enough water and nutrients.  

I learned to identify the weeping boletes by looking for mushrooms with a large brown cap. I would check the underside of the cap to make sure that it was a golden color.

We spent a couple of hours filling a large basket with the mushrooms we found. We stopped when we had picked enough mushrooms for our needs. We knew that other people would like to have this adventure just as much as we did, and we made sure to leave some mushrooms for them too.  

We took our fungi back home to prepare krupnik. Weeping boletes taste like Portobello mushrooms. Their strong, earthy flavor is the perfect complement for barley.  

After a vigorous hike in the cold, and the seemingly endless wait in a home filled with delicious smells, we finally got to eat the krupnik. It was warm, creamy, and delicious; the perfect taste of the Old Country.

Savta Devorah’s Krupnik

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 parsley roots, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced dill
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.  
  2. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, celery, parsley roots, and barley.
  3. Saute over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the flour into the pot, and mix it in.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat to medium, and simmer the soup for 40 minutes.
  7. Add the parsley and dill.
  8. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Pumpkin-Ginger Soup

— by Ronit Treatman

As Arctic winds blow into Philadelphia, and the snow piles up, our instinct to consume warm, hearty soups kicks in.

This is an opportunity to make use of the many varieties of pumpkins and squashes that are widely available now.  

Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, and have a good amount of vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Also, they are fat free.

When combined with onions, garlic, ginger, herbs, and spices, the pumpkin shines as a winter entree soup. Pumpkin-ginger soup can be served with a green salad, a hearty bread, and a selection of cheeses.

Full recipe after the jump.

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup peeled and minced ginger root
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup non-fat coconut milk
  • curry powder
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • cilantro, minced
  • scallions, sliced
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onions, garlic, and ginger until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the coconut milk and the pureed pumpkin.
  5. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  6. Season to taste with curry powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  7. Serve garnished with cilantro, scallions, and toasted sunflower seeds.

Book Review: One Egg Is a Fortune

miso marinated Atlantic salmon with shiitake mushrooms, grilled scallions and a miso glaze— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

One Egg is a Fortune, edited by Pnina Jacobson and Judy Kempler, is three books in one: a high quality gourmet Jewish cookbook, a table book of magnificent food photographs, and an anthology of fascinating narratives from fifty contributing authors from around the world.

The editors put ten years into developing this beautiful volume, and it is perfect as a gift.

Taste test? The closest to that that we can do is to offer a section from the narrative of the former United States ambassador, Dennis Ross, and his excellent recipe as well. B’tayavon!

Ross’ narrative and salmon fillet recipe follow the jump.

I was sent as ambassador of the United states to meet with Arafat in Tunis in 1993. This was to be the first of many meetings. Arafat liked to play the host, insisting on serving our delegation lunch.

We were about ten people around the table, four from the United States. A meal of roast chicken and potatoes had been prepared. Arafat was determined to not only serve the meal, but also to carve the chicken.

Banter lightened the situation with words to the effect of, “Are you actually going to cut my food for me as well?” with a reply of, “If you like,” and my response of, “No, thank you. The last person to cut my food was my mother.”

Dessert followed and Arafat passed around an assortment of Arabic sweets such as baklava and kanafi, a Middle Eastern dessert made from cheese and brown sugar. The meal was, in fact, good and just what both parties needed to continue.

From then on food became part of the negotiation process. Dennis fish is a variety of bream found in the Red Sea, so when I walked into a meeting, I would ask, “Let me guess what we are eating today — Dennis fish?” Arafat would laugh and at least in this context, he had a sense of humour.

This repartee continued every time we met. I heard that even in my absence Arafat would mention this wordplay just to irritate the Israeli delegation. (Page 197)

All of the vignettes bring personal stories from very interesting lives to our attention. The contributing authors come from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Ukraine, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, England, Canada and the United States.

Salmon Fillets with Green peppercorn, Mushroom & Macadamia Nut Sauce

  • 6 × 180g (6.5 ounces) salmon fillets
  • garlic salt
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 15 macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

Sauce:

  • 50g (2 ounces) butter
  • 250g (9 ounces) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon bottled green peppercorns, vinegar strained
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with garlic salt. Pour over lemon juice and marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Grill or BBQ salmon, skin side down until almost cooked through. Turn and cook the other side for a minute or two.
  3. Make sauce: Prepare while fish is cooking. Melt butter in a non-stick fry pan. Add mushrooms, lemon juice, peppercorns, garlic salt and pepper and cook until mushrooms wilt and just begin to turn in color.
  4. Spoon sauce over fish and sprinkle with nuts and herbs.

(Serves 6)

Colorful Couscous Salad

— by Ronit Treatman

Brighten up your table this winter with a hearty couscous salad, filled with chopped vegetables, dry apricots, and fresh cranberries.  The dressing is an exotic Israeli combination of tahini and silan (date honey).  

Recipe follows the jump.
Colorful Couscous Salad

For the salad:

  • 2 cups steamed couscous
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • Bunch of scallions, sliced
  • Bunch of cilantro, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh cranberries
  • 4 dried apricots, diced

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons raw tahini
  • 2 tablespoons Galil Silan Date “Honey”
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar.  Seal tightly and shake well.

Mix the vegetables and couscous in a bowl.
Pour the dressing over the salad.

Sephardic Hanukkah: A Dairy Celebration of Daughters

Judith kills General Holofernes. Painting by Vincenzo Catena.

— by Ronit Treatman

The story of Hanukkah is often portrayed with images of brave, muscular male warriors, such as:

There were Greek-Syrian soldiers, fighting on behalf of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The Greek-Syrians looked fearsome in their armor, and heavy metal swords as they deployed their weapon of mass destruction, the war elephant. The Maccabee men fought back, using homemade slings and maces, and guerrilla tactics.

The Maccabees were victorious after seven years, and Hanukkah is the celebration of this victory. Hanukkah means “dedication”: The Second Temple in Jerusalem was purified and rededicated once the revolt was over.

However, it is acknowledged that the Maccabee victory would not have been possible without the support of the brave Jewish women. It is the tradition in parts of the Sephardic world that the seventh day of Hanukkah is reserved especially to celebrate the women and girls of the community.

Sambusak recipe after the jump.
Hannah (Second Book of Maccabees 7:1-41) is honored for losing her seven sons, and her own life, for not worshiping King Antiochus’ idols.

In some Sephardic communities, the seventh night of Hanukkah is called chag habanot (festival of the daughters). On this night, women get exclusive use of the synagogues to study Torah, bless their daughters, and celebrate. The men take care of the children, and prepare dairy treats for the women.


Sambusak.

It is customary to eat dairy foods because of the heroism of Judith. Judith was a beautiful young widow, who lived during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (400 years before the time of the Maccabees). She caught the eye of General Holofernes, who had been dispatched to besiege the fictitious city of Bethulia (probably Jerusalem).

When Holofernes tried to seduce her, she plied him with salty cheeses and wine. He became so inebriated that he fell into a deep sleep.  Seizing this opportunity, Judith cut his head off with his own sword.  

When she displayed the severed head to Holofernes’s soldiers, They were so terrified that they fled, ending the siege. Over time, Judith was believed to be an ancestor of the Maccabees, and this narrative was associated with Hanukkah.  

Sephardic men pamper the women during chag habanot by preparing a special dish called Sambusak.  

Sambusak is a type of hand pie, which originated in Persia. It is made of pastry or yeast dough, filled with a combination of several types of cheese, some of them very sharp. These flavorful cheeses are a reminder of General Holoferne’s weakness, skillfully exploited by Judith.  To save time, many cooks use frozen puff pastry.

Below is a recipe from the Jewish community of Baghdad.

Sambusak B-Jibbin (Cheese Sambusak)
Adapted from Mrs. Lamaan Heardoon

For the dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons quick-acting dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  1. In a bowl, place the water, yeast, and sugar. Mix well, then let rest for 15 minutes.  
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and knead the dough.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean towel, and place in warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for 3 hours.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup grated feta, kashkaval, kasseri, or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  

Assembly:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Pull off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling at the center of the rolled-out dough.  
  • Fold the dough over into the shape of a half moon. Pinch the edges shut.
  • Place on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden-brown.