Vegging Out at Miss Rachel’s Pantry

Miss Rachel's Pantry

Miss Rachel’s Pantry
1938 South Chadwick Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145
Hours: Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 8am-3pm, Sunday 8am-3pm, Closed Monday-Thursday


South Philly is home to a kosher vegan treasure. It is Miss Rachel’s Pantry. This establishment is a market, a catering company, a host of communal dinners, and a cooking school. Chef-owner Rachel Klein and her team prepare and deliver meals to homes as well.

The specialties of the house include “cheeses” made from cultured cashew nuts. I had never tasted nut “cheese” before. I smeared some cashew butter “cream cheese” on a bagel. It tasted surprisingly cream cheesy.

Miss Rachel’s serves creative homemade soups. I tried the honey crisp apple and celery root bisque and the tomato bisque. Both use vegan creme fraiche to achieve the right consistency. The flavor combinations were unexpected, sweet and tart and creamy all at the same time.

11951929_1083286115032390_1707358112680740726_nFor dessert, I had the house baked vegan sticky buns. I got them fresh out of the oven, hot, fragrant, sweet, and yeasty. I don’t know how they turned out so well without eggs or butter. To conclude my meal, I had a fresh cup of Green Street Organic coffee with some almond milk. The coffee was piping hot, with a rich mellow flavor. It was the perfect end to a delicious meal.

The pantry is certified kosher by the International Kosher Council. The restaurant is BYOB, and diners are encouraged to bring wine, beer, sparkling juice, or kombucha (a type of fermented, effervescent sweet tea).

Thanksgiving Turkey With Ancient Israel’s Seven Species

Photo by Faith Goble

Photo by Faith Goble.

After enduring many hardships in the New World, the Pilgrims finally succeeded in having a plentiful harvest. They were very grateful to G-d for providing for them, and wanted to find an appropriate way to honor G-d. They turned to the Bible for inspiration and found what they were looking for in Exodus.

They discovered “the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end” (Exodus 34:22), one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals celebrated in ancient Israel during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem. This feast signaled the end of the harvest, and the conclusion of the agricultural year of the Land of Israel. It is the harvest festival of Sukkot.

During Sukkot, it is customary to include the Seven Species of the Land of Israel in the sukkah, and to incorporate them into the menu. The seven most important plants that were grown in ancient Israel were wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates and olives (Deut 8:8). The Pilgrims consumed the foods from the New World such as turkey, corn, pumpkins, and cranberries.

For this Thanksgiving celebration, I have decided to return to the holiday’s roots. I will prepare the traditional New World bird with the Seven Species of the Land of Israel. It is a turkey brined in pomegranate juice, with wheat and barley couscous stuffing.

Photo by Jim Larrison

Photo by Jim Larrison.

For the Pomegranate Brine

Adapted from POM Wonderful.

  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage

For the Turkey

  • one 15-pound turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the Pomegranate Glaze

  • 3 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • black pepper
  1. Place the turkey in a large pot.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the brine, and pour over the turkey.
  3. Cover the pot tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Scatter the chopped onion, carrot, and celery in a large roasting pan.
  6. Remove the turkey from the brine, and place it over the cut up vegetables.
  7. Brush olive oil over the turkey.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Roast for approximately 4 hours.
  10. Boil 3 cups of pomegranate juice until reduced by half.
  11. Mix in the pomegranate arils and black pepper.
  12. Brush over the roasted turkey.
Photo by ukcider ukcider

Photo by ukcider.

For the Couscous Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cups semolina couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups barley couscous
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped figs
  • 1/2 cup pitted, chopped dates
  1. Pour the couscous into a large bowl.
  2. Add the salt, boiling water, orange blossom water, and cinnamon.
  3. Stir all the ingredients together, and then cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the olive oil, raisins, figs, and dates.
  5. Sautee the almonds in a little olive oil.
  6. Sprinkle the almonds over the couscous.

Laundered Chicken

What should I do with the chicken from the chicken soup?

Now that the weather is cooling, and more families are having home cooked chicken soup for Shabbat dinner, people ask me this question all the time. In Israel, the chicken from the soup is nicknamed oaf mechubas, or “laundered chicken.” Creative Jewish housewives have been repurposing this chicken for centuries.

It is challenging to transform boiled chicken into a delicious entrée. I found some successful ways to incorporate previously cooked chicken into completely different main courses.

Chicken croquettes and chicken pot pie are two crowd-pleasers you may prepare. These dishes are excellent main courses for Shabbat dinner, following the soup. Alternatively, you may plan ahead for Shabbat and make a cold chicken salad to serve for Shabbat lunch.

Photo by tericee

Photo by Tericee.

Chicken Croquettes

Adapted from Jeanne Gold.

  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Sauté the onions. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix the chicken, spices, breadcrumbs, eggs, and sautéed onions in a large bowl.
  4. Heat some olive oil in the pot.
  5. Form patties from the chicken mixture.
  6. Fry the croquettes over medium heat until golden-brown.
  7. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.
Photo by edwin

Photo by Edwin.

Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from Vincy Bramblett.

  • Frozen puff pastry sheets
  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 3 cups chicken soup
  • 1 onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Dice the onion, carrots, celery, potato, and chicken.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.
  4. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and potato. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the flour into the vegetable mixture.
  6. Slowly mix in the chicken soup. Stir constantly until the filling thickens.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the cut up chicken.
  9. Pour the chicken into a casserole dish.
  10. Cover with the puff pastry sheets.
  11. Cut a few openings with a sharp knife to vent the steam.
  12. Bake for 50 minutes.

Chicken Salad

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen.

  • 4 cups cooked chicken
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Cut up the chicken, scallions, and celery.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

A Romanian Sukkot Feast

Photo by Manidipa Mandal

Guvetch. Photo: Manidipa Mandal.

Romania is blessed with rich earth and hot summers. When Sukkot is celebrated in the fall, the Romanian larder is rich with the summer harvest. Romanian Jews make use of this plenty when they prepare two famous specialties to enjoy in the sukkah: guvetch and mamaliga.

Guvetch is a vegetable stew, reminiscent of the French ratatouille. Sometimes, more than 20 different vegetables are used in its preparation. This recipe goes back to ancient times, when the Romans controlled the area that is now Romania.

Traditionally, clay pots are used, giving the stew a distinctive flavor. Guvetch is not heavily spiced, allowing the natural flavors of the vegetables to dominate.


Adapted from Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks.

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 cup okra
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • sugar
  1. Slice the eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Rinse the eggplant, and pat dry.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan.
  4. Sauté the eggplant until golden-brown. Set aside.
  5. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Set aside.
  6. Oil a casserole dish, preferably clay.
  7. Cover the base of the casserole dish with eggplant.
  8. Layer the peppers, zucchini, okra, carrots, and green beans on top of the eggplant.
  9. Spread the sautéed onions and garlic over the mixture.
  10. Top with tomato slices and parsley.
  11. Pour the vegetable broth into the casserole.
  12. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.
  13. Bake uncovered for 2 hours.

The traditional accompaniment to guvetch is a type of Romanian polenta called mamaliga. This dish also originates from Roman cuisine. The Romans subsisted on millet gruels, which were cheaper than bread.

In the mid-1600s, Venetian merchants imported maize, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes from the New World. The Ottomans introduced these new plants to their empire. The Romanian climate was beneficial, allowing these tropical vegetables to thrive in their new home. Corn quickly replaced millet as the grain of choice for mamaliga.

Customarily, mamaliga is served by slicing pieces with a thin wire. Consisting of only three ingredients, mamaliga is very easy and inexpensive to prepare.

Photo by Theron LaBounty

Photo by Theron LaBounty.


Adapted from Food.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add the salt and the cornmeal.
  3. Bring to a boil while stirring with a wooden spoon.
  4. Lower the flame, and continue stirring the porridge until it thickens.
  5. Check if the mamaliga is ready by dipping a wooden spoon in water. Insert the spoon into the mush. If it comes out clean, the mamaliga is ready.

Jewish Community Set to Welcome Pope Francis

StandWithUsAdforPope'sVisit-9-14-10-11-15. 001-Pope Francis will arrive in Philadelphia on Saturday, September 26. The previous day, at 3:00 p.m., Jewish and Catholic Philadelphians will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-christian religions, in which antisemitism was condemned, at Saint Joseph’s University. Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a close friend of Pope Francis, will be the featured speaker.

StandWithUs will welcome the Pope with seven billboards highlighting the shared Judeo-Christian values of the Jewish and Catholic communities. These posters will have images depicting the historic meeting between the Pope and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu during the Pope’s visit to Jerusalem in 2014. They will be displayed until October 11, in high-traffic areas and various locations where the Pope is scheduled to speak.

“The photos chosen for the posters capture the respect and affection between the Pope and the Prime Minister, and remind viewers of the values we share including freedom and the protection of religious and human rights,” said Joseph Puder, director of StandWithUs/Philadelphia. 
Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East, is the only place where Christians can safely practice their faith.
“Israel recognizes 15 distinct religious groups and allows each to practice as they wish,” added Ferne Hassan, the associate director of StandWithUs/Philadelphia.
The Christian population in Israel increased from 34,000 in 1948 to 163,000 in 2014.  Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown in the last half century.

Break the Yom Kippur Fast With Pashtidah

Photo by kirabutler

Photo by kirabutler.

The best way to break the Yom Kippur fast is with easily digestible foods. Nutritionists recommend eggs for people who have abstained from food, and are ready to resume eating.

One of the best make-ahead egg dishes to prepare for this occasion is a pashtidah: a type of crustless savory pie.

The word pashtidah derives from the Italian word pasticcio, which means “pie.” The Italian pasticcio is a type of baked pie, with noodles, meat, or fish. Medieval Italian rabbis discussed the pashtidah in their deliberations over kashrut.

The pashtidah is a very popular dish in Israel, served everywhere from kibbutz dining halls to the prime minister’s residence. Here is a traditional Israeli recipe for a cheesy zucchini pashtidah. It is very easy to prepare, and is delicious hot or cold. Serve it with some crusty bread and a crisp green salad.

Zucchini-Cheese Pashtidah

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, cheddar, or any sharp cheese of your choice
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 medium size zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 stalks fresh dill, parsley, or cilantro, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan.
  3. Fry the zucchini with the thyme.
  4. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. When the zucchini has softened, set it aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cheese, flour, and dill.
  7. Add the zucchini.
  8. Pour the mixture into an oiled pie or muffin pan.
  9. Bake for between 30 and 40 minutes.
  10. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve it at the fast’s break.

Israeli Cooking Book, From Philadelphia With Love

Philadelphia’s own Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook just published their first book, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Solomonov and Cook hope to familiarize Americans with some of their restaurant Zahav’s famous dishes. If you loved Jerusalem-born, London-based Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem as much as I did, then this book will be a treat.

The spices and techniques of Israel’s myriad ethnic groups are reflected in the book’s recipes. Familiar Eastern European Ashkenazi foods such as rugalech, kugels and latkes are presented along with more exotic foods such as kibbe and fillo cigars from the Levant. All of these recipes have been adapted to ingredients that are easily accessible to the American cook. Below is a recipe for Zahav’s Ottoman-inspired eggplant salad.

Photo by Sofia Gk

Photo by Sofia Gk.

Zahav’s Twice Cooked Eggplant Salad

  •  2 eggplants
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  1. Slice the eggplants.
  2. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Allow the eggplants to rest for 30 minutes in a colander.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.
  5. Fry the eggplant slices over medium heat, until almost charred on both sides.
  6. Place the eggplant in a bowl.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan.
  8. Stir in the onion, pepper, coriander, and paprika.
  9. When the vegetables are soft, add the blackened eggplant and sherry vinegar to the pot.
  10. Stir for a few minutes.
  11. Remove the pot from the heat.
  12. Squeeze the lemon into the eggplant.
  13. Sprinkle the minced parsley into the pot.
  14. Stir and serve at any temperature.

Crypto-Jewish Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Photo by Andreas Schauer-Villanueva

Palma de Mallorca Photo by Andreas Schauer-Villanueva.

Who serves a cake whose name means “lard” on Rosh Hashanah?

The secret Jews of Mallorca have been surreptitiously celebrating with such a cake since 1492. Their signature confection is called ensaïmada. The word saïm, derived from the Arabic shahim (fat), means “lard” in Catalan.

In 1492 Spain’s Catholic monarchs, Isabelle and Ferdinand, issued the Alhambra Decree, which required Jews to convert or leave Spain. Some Jews converted for the outside world, while continuing to practice Judaism in secret. One strategy these “New Christians” employed to prevent detection was to consume pork in public. What better way was there to disguise their beloved Jewish pastry then to name it “lard”? Jews had brought this sweet to Spain long before the expulsion.

The Jews came to the Balearic Islands, an archipelago in the Western Mediterranean Sea, more than 1,000 years ago. They imported the tradition of baking sweet coiled yeast cakes from the Middle East. The round shape of the cakes symbolized the circle of life. These confections were called bulemas.

Mallorca was under Muslim rule between 711 and 1229. A legend in Mallorca says that a Jewish baker offered one of these cakes to King Jaume I of Aragon when he conquered the island in 1229. Traditionally, bulemas were prepared with sheep’s milk butter. After 1492, the butter was replaced with lard, and the bulema was renamed ensaïmada.

Ensaïmadas are traditionally served at Carnival, baked with pork and crystallized squash. Most intriguingly, the oldest cookbooks from Mallorca from the 14th century have a recipe for ensaïmadas in which the lard is substituted with extra-virgin olive oil. They are fried and drizzled with orange blossom honey. These ensaïmadas are served during the celebration of Tots Sants, All Saints Day, on November 1. As the Jewish lunar calendar does not have a fixed date for Rosh Hashanah, this date is a close approximation, giving Mallorca’s secret Jews a perfect cover.

In 2011, the descendants of Mallorca’s crypto-Jews were recognized as Jewish by Israel’s Beit Din Tzedek (rabbinic court) of Bnei Brak. The ensaïmada is symbolic of their steadfastness in maintaining their faith and identity.

Ensaïmadas are prepared with sweet yeast dough, which rises for 24 hours. The dough is rolled into a rope, and coiled like a turban. The ensaïmadas are baked, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar. For Rosh Hashanah, try the recipe from the 14th century that omits the pork, and uses olive oil and honey instead.

Olive Oil – Honey Ensaïmada

Photo by Lisa Stevens

Photo by Lisa Stevens.

Adapted from Spain Recipes.

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 13 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • orange blossom honey
  1. Combine the first six ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cover with a kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
  3. Roll the dough like a snake, and coil in the shape of a turban.
  4. Place the dough on an oiled baking sheet.
  5. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise overnight.
  6. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a heavy pan.
  7. Fry the ensaïmada until it is golden-brown on both sides.
  8. Drizzle with warm orange blossom honey.

Oppose Iran to Stand Up for Human Rights, Sideman Says

“The 23 kiloton “Badger” explosion at the Nevada Test Site. (Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration, April 18, 1953.)

In the recent hubbub surrounding the proposed Iran nuclear deal, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the deluge of differing opinions and perspectives. On the diplomatic level, Israel has been a clear and consistent opponent to any such détente.

I had the opportunity to discuss the Iran nuclear deal with the Israeli consul general to Philadelphia, Yaron Sideman. Sideman explained Israel’s position in a short and simple manner, so it would be easy for a layperson to understand:

Do you want the most dangerous regime in the world to obtain the most dangerous weapon?

The comprehensive nuclear deal that the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Germany, and the European Union are proposing with Iran will ultimately enable Iran to have a functioning nuclear weapon.

What does this mean for Israel? Israel takes Iran’s pronouncements very seriously. When Iran says that it wants to wipe Israel off the map, Israel believes it. Iran currently sponsors Hezbollah, militias in Iraq, and the Assad regime in Syria. Iran is making Syria and Iraq unstable. Iran has been designated by the U.S. State Department as an “active state sponsor of terrorism”, supplying arms, funds, training, and personnel to numerous known terror groups.

Like ISIL, Iran wants to impose its ideology on the world. How much more frightening will this be when the world is being threatened with a nuclear bomb, instead of the knives used by ISIL? If Iran is able to obtain the bomb, its proxies will be emboldened. Iran will swallow countries one by one. Iran does not respect the human rights of its own people. What do you think it will do with the human rights of others?

Iran is currently developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. As soon as it can arm them with nuclear heads, it can aim them at Israel; which it calls “The Little Satan”; and the U.S., which it calls “The Big Satan.”

Sideman spoke of a video that he had been shown, of a young Iranian woman accused of adultery. The video was smuggled out of Iran to show how she was stoned to death by a mob. The Iranian authorities are not pleased that this video is available for the world to see.

Sideman expressed hope that the agreement will be improved:

There is still time to delay this agreement. The U.S. can bring Iran back to the negotiating table. The U.S. can get a better deal — one that will not allow Iran to threaten the U.S. with utter destruction.

Get Your Kosher Rosh Hashanah Takeout

Photo by Didriks

Photo by Didriks.

Not everyone has the time or desire to cook Rosh Hashanah dinner. Happily, it is possible to order kosher prepared family feasts.

Six Points Kosher has been whipping up delicious, family-style dinners for the past three years. I love ordering challah from Six Points. It is baked early every morning in their commissary. For Rosh Hashanah you may choose from plain or raisin round challah.

You may save yourself the work by ordering chicken and root vegetable soup, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, herb roasted chicken, harvest green salad, Caesar salad, raisin and apple kugel, and honey cake. For the more traditional guests at your dinner, Six Points can cook carrot tzimmes, chopped liver mousse, and carrot, apple or chocolate cake.

If you are planning to order from Six Points’ Rosh Hashanah menu, your order must be placed by Friday, September 4, 2015 by 2 p.m. E.S.T.  When you serve the food, remember to tell your guests how hard you worked for them!

Six Point Kosher and the Magerman family are supporters of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice.