By Stephanie Bailund–Witty, Culinary Student at the CKCA
New York, New York – it's all about the people, and ok, of course the food as well. This story begins while standing at the Port Authority in Manhattan, waiting for a bus to Kosherfest. It is there, on the bus waiting line that we met Stefanie Bailund-Witty, a student at The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA). Stefanie was also on her way to Kosherfest. We wondered.. how would it feel to be a culinary student in a kosher focused culinary school? Since that question was too long to explore on a bus line, we asked Stefanie to contact us, and she graciously shared her thoughts. . .
Why did you decide that you would like to enter the culinary field, and to attend culinary school, a kosher one at that?
I grew up in San Diego where there are not many kosher options to eat out, so discovering different kosher products to use at home, was always exciting. I decided to enter the culinary field to incorporate skills in the culinary arts with my passion for nutrition. I believe the two, food and nutrition, go hand in hand. I want to find a job that combines both. I would like to be a personal chef for people with specific dietary needs. The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts is giving me the tools I need to become a personal chef. One of the main reasons why I chose to attend a kosher culinary school, is so that I could actually taste the food. This allows me to really understand how flavors mix and blend together, and how texture plays a big role in certain dishes.
Chef Casey Colaneri
Casey Colaneri from Sushi Metsuyan of Monsey was the winner of the 6th Annual Kosherfest Culinary "Iron Chef" Competition.
Three professional chefs, David Teyf from Lox Cafe NYC, Jose Soto from Basil NY in Brooklyn, and Casey Colaneri from Sushi Metsuyan of Monsey competed for the $1000 prize and bragging rights to the 2013 Culinary Competition, organized by The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts.
The chefs had 30 minutes to create a delicious dish from 15 mystery ingredients. The judges were Philippe Kaemmerle (Chef Instructor from The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts), Jack Silberstein (co-owner of Jack's Gourmet Sausages), and lucky me, Roberta Scher (Co-founder and Managing Editor of KosherEye.com).
The ingredients included ribeye steak, Jack's Gourmet Chorizo, beef patties, wild mushrooms, pasta and a variety of vegetables and spices. Everyone had a great time! (Especially the judges).
We were so impressed by Casey's talent, and his friendly, outgoing personality, that we asked him to send us some recipes, give us some cooking tips, share a bit about his background.
Some go to New York for Broadway; some for the museums and culture; and some for people watching. We do love all of these things, but of course, priority one for us is seeking out and enjoying amazing kosher food!
Solo Chinese Kitchen
A Restaurant Changes its Flavors
When in New York last summer, we had the pleasure of dining at Solo Dairy Restaurant, and Pizza Da Solo both located in the Sony Building in Midtown Manhattan. Each was outstanding, just what we have come to expect from the restaurants of the Prime Hospitality Group. And, then came the recent news, that Solo Dairy, was changing its cuisine, its theme and its name to Solo Chinese Kitchen. Well, we couldn't wait to try it.
Joey Allaham's establishments have become the benchmark for what kosher dining can be, and should be--appealing to Jewish and non- kosher clientele alike. The new Chinese transformation of Solo certainly follows suit. Solo Chinese Kitchen offers authentic, memorable Chinese cuisine.
Our meal? Truly up to the standards of a Chinese banquet. The gracious and elegant General Manager Valentino-Puiu Lulea welcomed us once again, this time for a sampling of the new menu.
We started with hot and sour soup, steaming hot with layers of flavor. Then came pan seared dumplings, crispy Chinese beef balls with a lemon sauce, organic vegetarian spring rolls, chicken fried rice, crispy Cantonese orange Beef, sweet and sour chicken and we couldn't resist the sweet chili baby eggplant side. We abstained from dessert, – so that we could stay awake at our next stop – the theater.
By the way, this lovely but casual restaurant is a great idea for a pre- theater dinner. We can't wait to go back – so much more on the menu we want to try.
To go orders are welcome; and there is space for private parties too (550 Madison Ave.; 212-833-7800). Solo Chinese Menu
Joey Allaham, founder of Prime Hospitality Group, was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and moved to New York in 1993. In addition to Solo Chinese Kitchen and Pizza DaSolo, his restaurants include The Prime Grill, Prime KO, Prime at the Bentley, and Prime Butcher Baker. He has just announced Prime Experience, a kosher luxury travel company. The first travel experience will be at The St. Regis, Monarch Beach, in Laguna Beach, California. The entire 400-room resort hotel will be Kosher for Passover during the week of April 14-22. http://www.theprimeexperience.com).
Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
Avi Cohen is an experienced restaurateur and founder of La Brochette. Originally from Uzbekistan and then Israel, his family has a history in the restaurant and catering business, He took up the family trade, and when the former La Carne Grill space in midtown became available, he snapped it up for his new restaurant concept La Brochette.
The space is contemporary – 3 open levels of dining; white tablecloths and fine china. The atmosphere is elegant, with friendly and attentive service.
So let's talk food. We started with sushi – an excellent sushi at that, presented by a Japanese sushi chef who was trained with the famed Nobu. We particularly liked the fried crusted sushi – sushi enrobed in a fried bread crumb crust. It was amazingly delicious.
After our sushi came a series of superb dishes including :
a champagne dressed arugula, pear walnut salad, short rib spring rolls, and a mixed presentation of some of the house specialties featuring rib steak (All of the beef is prime and aged), roast duckling and an amazing rack of lamb. Every bite was delicious. Avi suggested we taste his homemade Lemoncello. Quite delicious; a bit of sweetness mixed with the mildly tart fresh lemon flavor.
And, as an extra treat, we met Avi's teenage son Yosef. He is being trained to learn the restaurant business in the old fashioned way. under his father's tutelage - - through actual hands-on experience.
La Brochette, which is open for lunch and dinner, can accommodate parties of over 100- and also offers catering. Yes, they are open for Thanksgiving this year. And, in addition to enjoying dinner, on most nights, from 7-10, the restaurant presents a violinist to accompany dinner.
340 Lexington Avenue 212-972-2200
A Toast to Thanksgiving and Hanukkah
The Thanksgiving meal that many of us enjoy annually is always a feast, this year more than ever, since the day coincides with the first day of Hanukkah. This year, along with the traditional turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pies, many are adding latkes.
So, which wine works with a latke, turkey and maybe brisket feast?Thanks to the proliferation of kosher wine selections, wine and food pairings have become popular in kosher homes. We have polled some wine "mavens", including KosherEye readers, and the following is a roundup of several favorites. The selections include value priced bottles all the way up to luxury picks. And yes, some are a splurge - high on our readers' wish list, and ours. Prices are approximate. Enjoy these at the holidays, and year round.
Hagafen from California
2012 White Riesling, Devoto Vineyards-Lake County
Gold Medal winner Finger Lakes International Wine competition Semi dry, light and golden. From organic grapes- Lovely with starters, turkey, or chicken. $21
2012 Collage Don Ernesto-Lodi. Rousanne/Marsanne
Many experts call this one a favorite medium body white wine with notes of pineapple, papaya and vanilla cream. It is a blend of roussanne and marsanne, two of the traditional white wines from the Rhone Valley. $18
2011 Hagafen Pinot Noir
Medium bodied with a warm roasted coffee note. Smooth high quality pinot, and it is Mevushal! $29
2007 Hagafen Late Disgorged Brut Cuvee
Toast the season! This bubbly wine adds versatility, elegance, and festivity to any meal or special occasion. This beautiful sparkler is almost gone – 20 cases left –$42
2010 Hagafen Cabernet Franc Luscious, deep, rich, round and bold. Full bodied - pair with meats, poultry and roasts. Only 35 cases remain $39
2009 Hagafen Syrah Estate Bottled-Napa Valley, Wieruszowski Vineyard –Coombsville
Made from organically grown grapes rich, dark red, long finish $32
For additional Hagafen wine selections and information about the Hagafen wine club, visit hagafen.com.
Yarden from Israel
Gilgal White Riesling 2012 as an aperitif, with spicy chicken wings or fish. The 2012 Gilgal White Riesling exhibits floral, melon, lemon zest, peach and tangerine notes complemented by hints of fresh mint. Medium-bodied, this refreshing off-dry wine displays subtle sweetness and classic varietal character. An extraordinary value too. $15
Mount Hermon Indigo 2012 The 2012 Mount Hermon Indigo presents aromatic ripe plum and berry notes rounded out with hints of spice and cocoa. This medium-bodied wine is pleasingly flavorful and very drinkable. Ready to drink now, the 2012 Mount Hermon Indigo should stay in good drinking condition for about three years from harvest.
Give the wine a try with meat or poultry—such as a good juicy burger, a hot slice of thin-crust pizza, a hearty moussaka or a brisket! $12
Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 El Rom Vineyard limited edition of 30 barrels. Goes well with roasts, steaks and meat entrees. Dark red purple 2009
. Elegant dense black fruits aroma aging in French oak barrels for 18 months helps the wine to fully express its combination of vibrant black fruit, earth and light herbaceous characters.
2009 Yarden 2T exhibits wild berry, plum, with floral, spice and chocolate notes, a full-bodied wine with concentrated flavor and a long finish. It is ready to enjoy now, and will even improve with age. It goes well with beef and lamb dishes, such as grilled ribeye steak, or tender "falling off the bone" braised lamb shanks. Or, turkey! $30
Galil Alon 2010 Deep dark purple in color Full bodied with well-balanced flavor and a long finish. Goes well with meat dishes such as lamb, roast beef, grilled meats and even rich chocolate desserts $20
To learn more about Yarden Wines from Israel visit Yarden.com
Sara Bee - Buy this effervescent sweet white Moscato wine at Trader Joe's. A product of Italy. $5.99
Baron Herzog Jeunesse 2012 – Ruby colored, soft texture and a perceived touch of sweetness; with berry, cherry and floral notes, considered youthful, flavorful and fun. $10
Bartenura Moscato 2011 – This popular blue bottle as it has been nicknamed, has become a staple on Shabbos and Yom Tov tables in homes across America. Fruity, drink young. $14
Recanati Merlot 2011 – Medium bodied fine Merlot--Pairs well with meat and poultry dishes.. $15
Recanati Shiraz 2011 - Smooth and complex flavors of raspberry and plum. Pair with grilled meats, roasts spicy dishes. $15
8 uses for leftover wine:
- Freeze in ice cube trays for recipes and mixed drinks
- Poach fruit
- Use in marinades
- Make your own wine vinegar
- Top ice cream and sorbet
- Use in salad dressing
- Add to beef and meat stews
- Make sauces
How to clean wine spills:
This product really works: Red Wine Stain Remover - "WINE OUT", Travel Pocket Spray
As we walked the aisles of the recent Fancy Food Show, we were delighted to discover many wonderful new foods and beverages from Israel. We felt so at home and excited to taste and enjoy the myriad of foods now being produced throughout the country. So readers, in addition to technology, medical breakthroughs and forward thinking scientists, Israel is heading to the forefront of kosher food and wine. Do ask your grocer or supermarket to consider carrying some of these products!
By Guest Columnist Rachel Harkham
I'm about to introduce you, the avid and discerning kosher cook, to your new best friend. Don't worry -- you can thank me later. Coconut milk will dazzle you! It's versatility will impress you: it can be sweet - it can be savory; it's full–bodied texture will make you forget all about Dairy, and may I mention how rich it is!?
I came to know coconut milk and appreciate it's fine qualities when I was working on the Thanksgiving chapter for my cookbook "Get Cooking! A Jewish American Family Cookbook". Of course I had to have a pumpkin pie recipe, and of course it had to be dairy-free so that it could be eaten after the big Turkey Meal. Condensed milk or half-and-half is what makes the iconic Thanksgiving dish a smooth and creamy dessert but what makes it problematic for the Kosher cook. Rigorous experimentation with nut and soy milks ensued, but it was a helpful hint from a creative cook that eventually led me to a can of coconut milk.
Immediately after opening that can of full-fat coconut milk I was struck by how thick and bright white it was. The scent was slightly sweet and coconutty, which had me a little concerned. I like coconut flavor, but not enough to have my Thanksgiving desserts taste like tanning lotion. So when I removed the coconut milk pumpkin pie from the oven and sliced into it, I held my breath. I noted its firm yet supple texture just like the dairy version. And it smelled as it should, sweet and warmly spiced. But tasting was proof. I exhaled, and then inhaled my sliver of creamy Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. It had a slight suggestion of coconut which only added to its yummy flavor.
I became semi-obsessed with it. I used it in a gamut of baked goods: coffee cake, banana bread, muffins. All to scrumptious ends. Then I moved on to savory recipes: chicken curry- thumbs up, pan gravy a revelation! Swedish meatballs- not so much. Other than the meatballs, I was never disappointed by it.
Al Capone would have loved it!
Established in 2008, Koval is the first craft distillery within Chicago's city limits since Prohibition. All of their grains, fruits, herbs, and flowers are sourced from the surrounding Midwest region, and each spirit is made in house, entirely from scratch - from mashing to distilling, bottling to boxing. Koval was founded by Robert and Sonat Birnecker, who gave up academic careers to bring the distilling traditions of Robert's Austrian grandfather to America. Their mission was to create a sustainable family business with high quality and organic products. Koval features small batch spirits distilled from 100% organic grain. Everything they make is certified organic and kosher.
Just like Bubbie's
We see recall after recall of ground beef from the USDA -- 37 million pounds in 2012, and even more likely in 2013. Indeed, ground beef was one of the top 5 food items recalled last year in the U.S. And in other countries, we saw meat recalled for being other than what was labeled – remember the horsemeat scandal in the UK? And those words "pink slime"? And now we proceed to poultry – Exactly which parts are included in the ground chicken and turkey we buy? And the hot dogs. . . well let's not even discuss those.
NO, we are not giving up our packaged grounds - not unless we hire a full time cook and personal butcher. Happily we buy kosher, so we are more confident about quality and consistency because our meats and poultry have an extra layer of supervision, sourcing and transparency. But, when we do have time and when we want the best – we have started to grind our own meat. Just as we enjoy baking homemade pastries and breads, but also utilize the convenience of a bakery, when we have the time, we grind away. Yes, just like our grandmothers – remember that ground by hand chopped liver? In fact, the new tool we are using is so similar to the classic model that mom and Bubbie used—Fante's Cousin Sandro's Meat Grinder.