Culture and cuisine

Synagogue opens doors to community members and invites them to eat

Synagogue opens doors to community members and invites them to eat

November 09, 2005|By JULIE E. GREENE

After a successful return last year, Congregation B'nai Abraham's Jewish Food Festival will be held Sunday, Nov. 13, in the synagogue's social hall on East Baltimore Street.

The festival returned last year, after a five-year break, and ran out of food quicker than usual, said Lieba Cohen, one of about 50 congregation members cooking for the festival. More than 300 people attended last year.

So this year, more food is being made, said Carole Lafferman Fitzwater, festival chairwoman.

The food is served cafeteria-style, and the menu is a la carte with items costing from $2 to $4. Carryout is available.


The entrees are brisket and kasha with farfalle - aka bow-tie pasta - stuffed cabbage, kosher hot dogs and blintzes. The menu also includes chicken soup with matzo balls, knishes, noodle kugels (noodle pudding), herring salad and the side dish tzimmes, which includes sweet potatoes, prunes, carrots and onions.

Jeanne Jacobs is among the people making challah, a traditional twisted loaf of rich white bread, eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays.

Desserts include Jerusalem chocolates, French lace cookies, chocolate mint brownies, apricot-almond tarts, pineapple-cheese tarts and Cohen's Aunt Riva's fudge strudel.

Proceeds from the festival will help maintain the synagogue and make it handicapped-accessible, organizers said.

There's more to the festival than food, Jacobs said.

"It's really a way for us to open our doors and share our culture with the community. And what a better way to do it than share food," Lafferman Fitzwater said.

Rabbi Fred Raskind, who again will make chopped liver, will provide tours of the synagogue and answer questions from visitors.

The synagogue's Judaica shop, a Jewish gift shop, will be open during the festival.

Everyone who attends will get a list of Yiddish terms and their meanings, congregation members said.

The menu features traditional Jewish dishes.

Almost all of the food, being sold a la carte, will be made by congregation members, Jacobs said. Some of the breads, such as rye and pumpernickel, are purchased from a Bethesda, Md., shop.

French Lace Cookies and Lace Roll-Ups

Ingredients for French lace cookies and lace roll-ups:

1 cup flour

1 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds or pecans)

1/2 cup corn syrup (Mendelsohn uses light corn syrup)

1 stick butter or 1/2 cup shortening

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

For French lace cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Blend flour and nuts. Bring corn syrup, shortening and sugar to a boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in flour and nuts. Drop batter by level teaspoonfuls, about 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake only 8 to 9 cookies at a time. Bake 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet.

For lace roll-up cookies:

Make French lace cookies, bake only four cookies at a time so you have time to roll them up before they tighten.

While they are still warm, roll each into a cylindrical shape. There is a magic moment when lace cookies are cool enough to roll, yet not so cool that they will break in rolling. Keep trying until you find that moment. If cookies do cool too much, return to the oven, very briefly.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

- Courtesy of Carol Mendelsohn

Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

1 whole or cut-up chicken

1 large yellow onion

3 carrots, sliced

3 stalks of celery, sliced

1 cup of diced onion

Chicken bouillon or canned chicken broth

Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix or box of Matzo Meal (Recipe is on back of box. Mix calls for 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil; meal calls for one egg.)

Fresh parsley

Place a whole or cut-up chicken in a stock pot. Cover the chicken with water. Place a whole washed yellow onion with skin on in the pot with the chicken. The onion is what gives the yellow color to the broth. Boil the chicken about 30 to 45 minutes until cooked. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Metzner squeezes the juice from the onion back into the soup and disposes of the onion. In the meantime, place the chicken broth in the refrigerator to cool and let the fat from the broth rise to the top.

(Metzner usually prepares soup during two days. If preparing it in one day, put broth in freezer so fat rises more quickly.)

While broth is cooling, cut up carrots, onions and celery to your liking. Remove all skin and fat from the chicken and cut into pieces.

When the broth has cooled, take a spoon and remove the fat from the top of the broth. Return the broth in the stock pot and add the chicken, carrots and celery. You can supplement the broth with chicken bouillon or canned chicken broth until you get the taste right for you.

Metzner uses Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix (found at Weis and Martin's Food Market in the kosher section). The directions for the matzo balls are on the back of the package.

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