To a lot of traditional Orthodox Jews, shabbos lunch can’t get any better than a bowl of hot cholent that has been steaming for 24 hours in a crock pot. Add that with a piece of potato kugel and they are on cloud nine! I hadn’t even tasted cholent, or let alone heard of it, untill I was about 12. I remember, distinctly, trying my first cholent at a friend’s house in Columbus. Her cholent was Moroccan, so it wasn’t even the norm. It had eggs all up in the meat, potato, bean and barley mixture. I grew up with a nice traditional vegetable soup sitting in the crock pot for Shabbos day lunch. We used the crock pot because we wanted something warm to eat on Saturday afternoon, especially in the winter. Cholent? What’s that? My ba’al teshuva parents most definitely did not grow up with heimish Jewish shabbos food on their plates. Chicken matzoh ball soup, potato kugel, herring and gefilte fish after Saturday services was pretty much as far as traditional Jewish food went for them. The truth is, and all you cholent lovers out there don’t beat me down for this, I could do fine without cholent, I actually prefer soup on a Saturday afternoon.
I don’t know how the modern day Jewish food got its start. Cranberry-Apple Crisp (Crapple), Sweet Vadalia Onion Dressing (Costco economy sized), Deli Roll…Yes, they all do taste good but are LOADED with fat and calories. I think we found one of the key factors of obesity in Jewish communities. If kids, and grown-ups alike, eat that EVERY week, that’s having a dinner and lunch consisting of trans fats and unneeded calories. Does puff pastry, sugar, margarine, flour, sugar laden fruit and fatty dressing sound like a well balanced meal?
About a year ago I interned at the obesity clinic in St. Luke Roosevelt hospital. I was conducting a study (making milkshakes) and the amount of Jewish people I saw going in and out of the hospital for by pass surgery was unbelievable! Now, I’m all for eating yummy caloric food, but moderately and thought out. Have your fettuccine alfredo, but with a salad on the side with a nice low caloric vinaigrette!
My sister and I have hosted many shabbos meals, and boy have we learned. We made wonderful dishes, but realized that people looked at the table full of different types of salads, chickens and grains, with an “I have never seen that vegetable before” look. We decided to make cholent one week with our usual spread. Our guests were much more willing to try the unfamiliar food when something familiar was on the table as well. We haven’t veered from our stylish and so called “different” food, but we have incorporated main stream Jewish dishes as well. We have tried to add healthier touches to those traditional dishes, making cholent with different types of grains (quinoa, wheat berries, etc) and adding little or no sugar to certain dressings and foods.
In school we are on the cooking methods section. We have done sauteeing, deep frying and our latest…pan frying! The other day we made potato pancakes with apple sauce and pan fried panko encrusted chicken…A.K.A Latkes and Schnitzle, both traditional Jewish foods. Watching that food sizzle away was my inspiration for this blog post. (We also made Crab Cakes, to which i have added my own (and kosher) variation). Think before you eat! 🙂
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cups Bread Crumbs
2 TBS. Cilantro or Parsley, minced
2 Bunches of Scallions, minced (green part included)
1 Red Pepper, minced
1 tsp. Old Bay
Bread crumbs to roll on crab cakes
Mix all ingredients together and coat with bread crumbs. Heat pan and add oil. When the oil gets hot, place the crab cakes in the pan for about 4 min on each side. Drain on paper towel and enjoy with avocado dipping sauce.
Avocado Dipping Sauce
2 Tbs. Water
Hot Sauce, Sriracha, Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
Blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth.