Jewish Food Festival: Bubbie's Brisket and Family Recipes!

Submitted by Terri Hodges

Florence Hirschman Levy, Terri’s bubbie (Jewish grandmother)

Florence Hirschman Levy, Terri’s bubbie (Jewish grandmother)

OK, so I don’t know where to begin. As it so happens, I come from a long line of culinarians; from both the Pearlstine and Levy sides of the family. My roots come from northern and southern cuisine, although both grandmothers grew up in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn).

I can remember my childhood spending many Jewish Holidays with my grandmother, Florence Hirshman Levy, watching her cook, bake and prepare so many delicious Jewish dishes. Although she would shoo the kindala out of the kitchen, I was always very curious about her cooking skills. Not only was her cooking delectable, her hospitality was grand. Rosh Hashanah was truly the New Year celebrated with lots of family, friends, and soldiers from Fort Jackson, and Passover was no less a feast.

Terri Hodges, chair of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery

Terri Hodges, chair of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery

Rugelach

The history of rugelach, the sweetest traditional Jewish pastry, is a fascinating one.  Rugelach is rolled up dough with different fillings. It’s the history of rugelach that adds so many layers of flavor—starting with the name. The name, rugelach, is a mashed up Yiddish word that translates to anything twisted. Rog is Polish for ‘horn,’ the shape of the pastry that was created circa 1683, about the same time as the croissant. So, biting into a rugelach is biting into hundreds of years of delicious history and heritage.

Rugelach

Rugelach

Dough

  • 2 cups flour

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream (cold, cubed)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter (unsalted, cold, cubed)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 egg yolk1 batch filling of choice (see mine below)

  • n/a powdered sugar

Roll out the dough: Roll one disk of dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. (Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges.) 

Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough.  Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.

Filling

  • ½ cup raisins

  • 1 cup nuts

  • 4 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. sugar

Slice the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.  Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide outer edge and moving inward. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Refrigerate pastries on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, prepare remaining batches.)

Bake the pastries until golden-brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack.

Vegetarian Chopped Liver

“What am I, CHOPPED LIVER?!” Chopped liver is a traditional Jewish dish that brings back fond memories for many Jewish families.  The history of chopped liver goes back to Medieval Germany, where Jews bred and raised geese as the poultry of choice. The first Jewish chopped liver recipes were actually made from goose liver.  Eventually, eastern European Jews began using chicken and beef liver and these recopies came across the ocean with immigrants through Ellis Island.

With many vegetarians today, there is a ‘mock’ chopped liver made with eggs, walnuts, peas and onions.

  • 3 egg whites

  • ½ cup walnuts (chopped in food processor)

  • 1 can English peas (drained)

  • 2 medium onions (sautéed in oil)

Chop nuts first, then add other ingredients and process until texture of chopped liver.  So easy.

Bubbie's Brisket and Bakery

In 2009, Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza began at Beth Shalom Synagogue.  From the beginning, I have taken this fundraiser under wing and now serve as its chair.  Recipes used to prepare the delicious offerings have been handed down from many generations.

Bubbies-Brisket-Logo.jpg

Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza, held this year on November 12th at Beth Shalom Synagogue from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., will offer many Kosher Jewish foods that have been handed down through many generations.  I hope you will be there. Find out more HERE.

To close, may I quote Alton Brown (especially regarding Rugelach): “Your patience will be rewarded.”

Heidi's Challah

Submitted by Heidi Lovit

Challah, braided yeast bread, is traditional to have for weekly Shabbat and High Holiday meals.  Many years ago I took on the responsibility for being the bread maker for my family.  I have to admit, I changed recipes several times since my original recipe called for 9 eggs.  Challah is considered an egg bread so I thought that was normal until I became conscious of increased cholesterol from that many eggs in one recipe. Several recipes called for more yeast and less eggs and I finally found the perfect combination for my recipe.  I do think one of the secrets is adding an extra tablespoon of honey to give it a sweet taste and it also makes the texture slightly more moist. 

Growing up in Columbia, my family would come together every Friday night for a Shabbat dinner.  At that time we probably had challah made from a bakery because I don’t remember my mother baking bread.  I learned how to make brisket and meatballs with cabbage and other Jewish foods from my mom, but not bread. My mother’s sister, Phyllis Firetag Hyman, shared her recipe with me when I was in high school and I started baking challahs for the High Holidays.  From then on, no more bakery challahs for our family.  I would always make sure we had challah for Shabbats and every holiday.  I even made extra round challahs with raisins for Rosh Hashanah to share with our family friends, the Levinsons, Polinskys and Levines and a few others.  I even remember one time going over to Gloria Rittenberg’s home to teach her how to make Challah.  When my children were younger I would get them involved in the mixing, kneading and braiding.  When the kids moved away, I always made it a point to send them each a fresh challah for the holidays if they could not make it home.  I am happy to say that my daughter, Morgan, still follows my recipe and bakes challah today.  Every time she does, I get a beautiful photo of her fresh baked bread.  She loves to share with her friends and coworkers.  Sharing recipes with friends is always fun, but when you share a traditional Jewish recipe with others of different faiths it helps to teach about our culture.  Sally Patterson, a Presbyterian and a friend for over 40 years, now makes challah for her family.  

Beth Shalom Synagogue has a fundraiser every fall, called Bubbie’s Food Extravaganza. The very first year in 2009, it was Bubbie’s Bake-Off, a competition for the best recipes of brisket, kugels, chicken soup and challah. I entered my challah recipe and won first place.  For the past seven years I have baked hundreds of challahs in the synagogue kitchen for the annual Bubbie’s Food Extravaganza.  This has also given me the opportunity to teach dozens of women in our synagogue this beautiful and traditional food art of kneading dough and braiding bread.  This year the event is scheduled for Sunday, November 12th. Come by and purchase several loaves of bread, they freeze perfectly for months.     

Making Heidi's Challah at the Beth Shalom Synagogue.

Making Heidi's Challah at the Beth Shalom Synagogue.

Makes 7-8 loaves.

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 4 packages yeast (1 ounce total or 3 tbls)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 13-14 cups bread flour
  • 3 eggs (save one for brushing loafs)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Poppy seeds

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar and salt. Let stand until bubbly. Put 7 cups flour in large bowl. Combine oil and two beaten eggs, add 2 tablespoons honey to the mixture. Add to flour. Slowly mix in yeast mixture, making sure all flour is mixed in. (This can be done by hand with a wooden spoon or in an extra-large mixer with dough hook attachment.) Add 5 to 6 more cups flour slowly and mix well until slight gooey but easy to manage. (Hand kneading is best.) Transfer ball of dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. Knead and divide into seven balls to make seven challahs. Take each ball, divide it into three or four strands and braid, making sure you pinch and tuck the ends under the loaf. While kneading and braiding, keep flour on counter surface to keep dough from sticking. Place braided challahs on pan that is lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Let rise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Brush top with egg wash (one beaten egg should cover all seven challahs). Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown.