Fein is an award-winning cookbook author who has appeared in cooking segments on such shows as “Good Day New York.” She lives in Stamford, Connecticut.
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Wasn’t it just Passover 2008?
It seems as if I just finished last year’s can of matzo meal and just put the silverware away. Yet here I am again, thinking about cooking and getting ready for our family Seder on the first night of Passover, when the sun sets on April 8.
There’s always so much to do; regular spring cleaning is nothing like the pre-Passover ritual. We discard everything that has chometz — foods forbidden during the holiday, like pasta, bread, and frozen pizza. And then there are all the other chores: sponging the cabinets, getting out the Passover plates and utensils, shopping for an enormous meal, preparing that meal, setting up the extra tables, making sure the tablecloth and napkins have been laundered. And so on.
Continue reading Secret food for Passover »
Like so many other Jewish holidays, Purim — which begins at sundown on Monday, March 9 — celebrates a victory over an enemy who tried to destroy our people.
At the time of the ancient Persian Empire, so the story goes, an advisor to King Ahasuerus named Haman was bent on destroying all the Jews. But Queen Esther, who was married to the king, and her cousin Mordechai appealed to Ahasuerus for help, and Haman was hanged instead. Spared from doom, Mordechai called upon the Jews to forever celebrate the happy turn of events by feasting and making merry.
Continue reading Purim treats »
Last week, as I was driving my granddaughter home, I heard her tiny little voice from the back seat say, “You know, Grandma, I want Santa Claus to get me something for Hanukkah.”
This was a new one for me. Jewish-Americans always talk about what we call the “December Dilemma” — that is, what to tell our children about Santa. But it usually doesn’t come up this way. Usually they ask about Santa in terms of Christmas and tinseled trees and stockings hung by the fireplace near the cookies and milk left for . . . Santa.
Continue reading Hanukkah traditions »
A few years ago, right around this time of year, just before the Jewish holidays, I went shopping in one of the local supermarkets to get the ingredients I needed for my Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) dinner. My two daughters and their husbands were coming, so it would be just the six adults, plus one baby (there are now three grandchildren).
For Rosh Hashanah, I usually make a roasted turkey and lots of grain and vegetable side dishes. My children, who prefer the more modern foods that I typically make, won’t eat what they call “wet brown meat.”
Continue reading Brisket, updated »
Most holidays have some culinary component: turkey on Thanksgiving, chocolate on Valentine’s Day. It’s no different for Jewish holidays. On Hanukkah we eat fried foods (latkes and doughnuts); on Passover we have matzo; Purim’s specialty is hamantashen (three-cornered cookies); and so on.
For those who aren’t Jewish, Shavuot isn’t as well known as those other holidays, but among observant Jews it is a time to celebrate. It’s when we commemorate Moses’ receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. The word Shavuot (say sha-voo-ote) means “weeks,” an appropriate name because the holiday comes seven weeks after Passover. This year it begins Sunday evening, June 8, at sundown.
Continue reading Dairy foods for Shavuot »
Everyone I know is talking about gas prices. I live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, a notably swell place with more than its share of rich people, so you wouldn’t think that this kind of conversation would come up around the office latte machine. But most of us here are not among the well-heeled you read about in Forbes magazine, so gas prices and all of the other current economic problems are as real for us as they are for everyone else out there.
If you’re kosher, the money problem can be even worse. Cooking certain kinds of kosher meals is expensive. Although everyone pays the same prices for the thousands of everyday grocery items that are kosher (most people are probably not even aware that products as diverse as Heinz ketchup, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves, and even Iron Chef’s General Tso’s Sauce are kosher), kosher meat costs more. How about boneless and skinless chicken breasts for $7.98 per pound? Or even a pound of the humble lean ground beef at $8.98? Add to that the extra gas mileage it sometimes takes to find kosher meat. We are fortunate; in my area, kosher meat is locally available. But that’s not true everywhere.
Continue reading The upside of high gas prices? »
In our family, we usually celebrate Passover with Seders on two nights, but this year we had only one. It was a good thing, too, at least in terms of the matzo. Because for the first time in all the years I have been having Seders and celebrating Passover, we ran out of matzo. And it’s only the third day out of Passover’s eight days.
We had 14 adults and seven children at the table for the Seder, and I had bought my usual five pounds of matzo. That’s usually enough for the whole holiday. Occasionally, depending on whether my adult children stay at my house for a few days, I have to buy another pound, but I didn’t think I would need to do that this year, because my son-in-law brought a pound box of shmura matzo (large, round, handmade crispy matzo that’s been made under strict supervision) that he had bought from a friend.
Continue reading Minimal matzo »
It’s only April 8, but I’m already thinking about what to make for dinner for my Passover Seder, and judging by the crowds of people in the Passover section of my local Stop & Shop, so is everyone else. It always surprises me, year after year, when the shopping and planning begin weeks ahead.
But Passover is a truly big deal, gastronomically speaking. Of all the holidays in the Jewish calendar, it’s the most joyous, and certainly the one most associated with food. I can’t think of any other religious service that takes place around the dinner table.
Continue reading Passover plans »
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