Nine months or so of zoom cooking. What offerings did I take advantage of? What items did I actually adopt into my repertoire, with approval of Constant Companion and Daughter, of course? Where in the world, out of the confines of my personal Hotel California, did all of this take me?
I’ve written about some of these in posts over the past nine months. Except for a few exceptions – the paella from one of our local restaurants (see Oct 2 post), King Arthur Flour’s Isolation Baking Show for the homebound (https://www.kingarthurflour.com/videos/the-isolation-baking-show), and monthly presentations by the Culinary Historians of Chicago (https://culinaryhistorians.org/) – my time was spent on Jewish foods shows, Ashkenazi and Sephardic foods, from Germany, Russia, Greece, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Iraq, and more and traditions and recipes for holidays from the Jewish New Year in the fall to Hanukah in the winter and, again, more.
Some presentations were complete courses rather than single lessons that remain alive on the web. The Great Big Jewish Food Fest, a ten-day digital food fest (https://www.jewishfoodfest.org/archives) and A Seat at the Table, A Journey into Jewish Food, a seven-week course organized by the YIVO in New York (https://learnonline.yivo.org/courses, it might be available on-line) provided lots of food for thought. Temple Emanu_El’s Streicker Center had several programs: an Edible Journey Across Israel with Michael Solomonov and a One Week Virtual High Holiday cooking school in September that brought Joan Nathan, Einat Admony and others into my kitchen as they shared their recipes and tips (https://www.emanuelnyc.org/streickercenter/past-events/). Tablet Magazine’s weekly offerings featured cookbook maven Joan Nathan and her son cooking on opposite sides of the continent. Not only are cooking tips offered, but also food history, and insights into this prolific writer: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/food/articles/joan-knows-best-video-series-joan-nathan-shabbat-recipes.
Sephardic food traditions have a soft spot in my heart. The Sephardic Brotherhood of America and their Sephardic Digital Academy started off early in the confinement with Susan Barocas leading Sephardic cooking demonstrations (https://www.sephardicbrotherhood.com/sephardicrecipies).
Seattle’s two Sephardic synagogues, Bikor Holim (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR475oU6k90x-LPKP7RCZPQBWPobF-syJ) and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth (google their you tubes) broadcast brave and talented home cooks to share their specialties with the public far and wide. They made bumuerlos, borekas, borekas, yaprikia (stuffed grape leaves), fila (meat or spinach and cheese filled pastries, cauliflower/ Karnabit, Persian rice with tahdiq, masapan, and more.
The question remains of what items did I actually adopt into my kitchen repertoire. Michael Solomonov’s schnitzel (a favorite of Constant Companion) and hummus are keepers (see July 20 post). And the Seattle mazapan or marzipan from Ezra Bessaroth’s Sephardic Learning Kitchen in September was voted on by Daughter. I’ve made it twice and know I’ll continue to improve upon it in the future. It’s so easy to make.
Simply put 8 oz of raw (must be raw) slivered almonds and 1 1/3 cup (I used only one cup) of powdered sugar into your food processor for 4-5 minutes. You can stop to make sure everything is incorporated. Next add one egg white and a drop of rose water and process til it forms a ball.
Take it out of the machine, roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Put it into the fridge for about ½ hour. Roll chilled marzipan into sizes and shapes you want.
In the meantime, as we close out the year that no one could ever have expected, let’s look forward to better days and continued creativity.