Hebrews, shebrews, and casual admirers of the Jewish faith, the holiest time of the year is upon us. It’s the time for people who love to wear those adorable little hats and hate mixing meat and milk. It’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and about two weeks later, we’ll celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, with a bunch of cool shit that, admittedly, Stefon has forgotten, as it’s been more than a decade since he graduated from Hebrew school. I was the cutest little pisher, too–I always bedazzled my yarmulke to match my shoes.
You may have had today off, because your school canceled classes or your office was closed, and if you’re not one of God’s chosen people who are spending the whole day in temple, definitely give a little shoutout to your Jewish friends, and say thank you for a glorious extra Thursday off, and a hearty “L’Shana Tova” for a happy and sweet new year. But let’s say that you want to get a little semitic at dinner tonight, or maybe you’ve been invited to your new boyfriend or girlfriend’s house, and you found out that they’re Jewish. What do you do? What should you bring? Will they be able to smell the bacon from the Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddle you got this morning from McDonald’s? Relax. Don’t panic. Here are a few fantastic and pretty easy recipes you can make to impress even the toughest of Jewish mothers.
Brisket is the cornerstone of any Jewish holiday dinner, just ask any nice Jewish boy you find. Then ask him out, because Jewish boys are cute, ridiculously loyal, and 98.5 percent of them are investment bankers.
Step 1: Go to the supermarket and get a lean, beef brisket that is no more than 3.5 pounds.
Step 2: Put about 5 or 6 onions in a food processor, mash them up, and sauté them until they’re dark brown or black. You should have a significant amount of onions that you can actually measure in pounds.
Step 3: Clean the brisket, dry it off, put it in a big Ziploc bag. Add a cup of flour, some garlic, onion powder, Kosher salt, a little pepper, and a little paprika, and mix the seasonings in the bag with the brisket until it’s covered.
Step 4: In a cast-iron skillet, pan sear the brisket until it is browned on all sides. You sear it to seal in the flavor. Do this for about 5-10 minutes on each side.
Step 5: Transfer the brisket into an aluminum container. Cover it with onions and a little beef broth. A nice trick is to take onion soup powdered mix and sprinkle it all over the brisket.
Step 6: Cook at approximately 350 degrees for 3 hours, until fork-tender. You’ve got yourself a nice, Jewish brisket.
Kasha Varnishkes is probably the silliest name for a pasta salad-based dish ever. It’s basically bow tie pasta with buckwheat groats, onions, and chicken stock. It’s basically eastern European Jewish comfort food, and the ultimate side dish.
Step 1: Heat oil, sauté onions until soft.
Step 2: Add 1 diced carrot, sauté until the onions take on some color. Then add mushrooms and garlic.
Step 3: Take the kasha (buckwheat groats) and mix with one egg.
Step 4: Add the egg/kasha mixture to the pan with the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic.
Step 5: Add 2 cups of chicken stock until all the liquid is absorbed.
Step 6: Mix in bow tie pasta. Serve.
Matzoh Ball Soup
If brisket is the cornerstone of the Jewish meal, then matzoh ball soup is the foundation that fills you up with happiness and everything that’s good in the world. If a bowl of matzoh ball soup doesn’t make you feel like you can build a house, then you’re doing it wrong. Here’s how to do it right.
Making the matzoh balls:
Step 1: Mix four eggs well, add chicken fat or vegetable oil, seltzer. Baking powder and chicken broth. Seltzer and baking powder are KEY. Many recipes won’t tell you that, but you listen to Stefon on this one.
Step 2: Add matzoh meal, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Step 3: Dip your hands in cold water. This is important. Then, make a bunch of golf-sized balls, or bigger ones if you so choose.
Step 4: Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and place the matzoh balls in the water. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until soft.
Easy, right? Now, let’s make soup:
Step 1: Take a giant pot. If you think you’re using your biggest pot, get one bigger.
Step 2: Add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, white peppercorns, a bunch of parsley, some sprigs of thyme, and a chicken, bones and all, to the pot. Add water. Boil.
Step 3: Reduce to low heat, let simmer. Skim the scum from the stock every 15 minutes for three hours (do this while you’re cooking the brisket).
Step 4: Strain out all the solids and either discard them or serve them in the soup later (obviously not the bones, but the vegetables and chicken).
Step 5: Keep cooking, add salt, pepper, and dill to taste.
Step 6: Add matzoh balls, noodles, and veggies. Serve and enjoy.
Finally, let’s make us a nice dessert. How about a kugel? You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy a good kugel.
Apple And Honey Kugel
Step 1: Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Step 2: In a food processor, combine light cream, sour cream, mascarpone, honey, eggs, nutmeg, and salt. Process until smooth. (How the Hebrew people survived for thousands of years without the food processor is beyond me.)
Step 3: In a BIG bowl, mix together raisins, apples, cooked egg noodles, and the egg mixture from the food processor.
Step 4: Spoon into the baking dish we prepared earlier.
Step 5: In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the top of the kugel.
Step 6: Put into the oven. Bake until the custard is set and slightly puffed (35 to 45 minutes). Serve warm and savor the gooey deliciousness.
Armed with these four, simple recipes, you can throw together a great Jewish holiday dinner in just a few, short hours. You’ll be a regular balabuste (homemaker in Yiddish) sure to impress even the most discerning of Jewish mothers.
L’Shana Tova, bitches!.
- Image via Shutterstock