Those of you who have been following my blog lately know that I've been focusing on comfort food, which I normally do when the weather gets cold and the days get shorter and darker. But, of course, this year is even darker and we are even more in need of comfort, which I am finding in the recipes of my grandmother, mother, aunts and old friends. Here are three of my favorites.
My Grandmother Beckie's Chopped Liver
6-8 appetizer servings
Apropos of nothing, I was just remembering the time, 20 years ago, when I brought Passover to my daughter in college (I know that we are closer to Chanukah than to Passover, but this particular story is about assuming you can find the ingredients you need everywhere you go , not about any one holiday).So, as I was saying, 20 years ago, I decided to help my daughter make Passover with her college chums, since none of them could make it home for Passover, which fell mid-week and mid-term. I packed up boxes of matzoh, macaroons, jarred gefilte fish and canned matzoh balls and chicken bullion cubes for soup. I was not the only crazy person on that plane, schlepping holiday food from NY to Cleveland: There were a whole bunch of Orthodox Jews on the flight, and they were bringing soup, chicken in pots, and even eggs and Manischewitz wine (and not in 2 ounce bottles, either). Anyway, having seen the state of the kitchen (and especially the stove) of the house my daughter shared with about 10 other kids, I made the wise decision to pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store in Lorain, Ohio. Except, they had never heard of rotisserie chickens, the staple of my weeknight dinners back home. I hit every local market, but all they had to sell me were uncooked chickens.
So, the oven of the aforementioned stove was truly deplorable, hadn't been used in years, probably, and was no doubt the home to several species of rodents, as well. I love my kids and would do almost anything for them, but cleaning that oven was not one of them. We boiled the chicken on top of the stove and served the feast with all the packaged stuff I'd brought with me. Only a couple of kids were Jewish and none of the others had ever attended a Seder. But it was a lovely event, and I still cherish the memory (and no doubt used it over the next few years as a guilt-inducer...I am a Jewish mother, after all...until I remembered that it was my idea in the first place, and she probably would have been just as happy eating tofu for dinner and ignoring the holiday altogether). But still, I'm glad I did it.
2 medium onions, chopped
3 TBS schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or 2 TBS schmaltz and 1 TBS grapeseed oil
(you can also just use all grapeseed oil, but it won't be quite as authentic or quite as delicious...it will be healthier, though)
1 lb organic chicken livers (even if you don't usually buy organic meats, I would spring for organic here, as the liver rids the body of toxins, so non-organic chicken liver is pretty unhealthy)
4 free-range hard-boiled eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Sauté onions in chicken fat for about 5 minutes, until they start to brown.
2. Add livers to the pan, and cook until they are no longer pink, about 7 or 8 minutes.
3. When livers and onions are cooked, put into a food processor along with the hard-boiled eggs and pulse a few times. You want it to have some texture, and not be smooth like French pâté . Season with salt and pepper. You can serve with iceberg or romaine lettuce as an appetizer or indulge in a chopped liver sandwich on your favorite Paleo bread.
My Mother's Cabbage Soup
4 onions, sliced
3 TBS grape seed oil
1 medium head cabbage, cored and sliced
3-4 pounds, meaty marrow bones, brisket, or stew beef
1 large can tomatoes
2 tsp salt or to taste
Pepper to taste
2 TBS coconut sugar
3 TBS apple cider vinegar
Boiled potatoes for serving
1. In a heavy pan, brown the meat in the oil, then remove from pan.
2. Carefully brown the onions in the meat drippings in the same pan, then add cabbage and brown with the onions.
3. Put the beef back in the pan, then add tomatoes and their juices and water to cover (about 4-5 cups). Add salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat all the way and simmer, covered, for about 2-3 hours or until meat is tender.
5. Add vinegar and sugar, cover, and simmer for another 1/2 hour.
6. Cut meat off the bones and return cut-up meat to the pot.
7. Serve in deep soup bowls with a boiled potato in each bowl, topped with marrow, if you have it.
Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles Noodle Kugel
2 packages Miracle Noodles (available at your local health food store or online), rinsed and dried
Solid cream from top of one can organic, full-fat coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
4 cage-free eggs
1/4 cup ghee, melted
1 jar fruit juice-sweetened apricot preserves (I use St. Dalfour Thick Apricot, available
at most grocery stores)
Ghee for greasing pan
1. Mix the coconut cream with lemon juice and salt to make Paleo "sour cream". Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt the ghee and beat in the Paleo sour cream and eggs. Add the rinsed and dried Miracle Noodles and mix gently.
3. Grease an 8 by 8 inch glass baking pan.
4. Put half the noodle mixture in pan, then spoon 1/2 the jar of preserves over the mixture , using spoon to gently spread preserves over the top. Sprinkle with coconut sugar. Repeat with the rest of the noodle mixture, preserves, and then sprinkle with more coconut sugar.
5. Bake for 1 hour, covered with foil. Then remove foil and let bake for 10 more minutes.
6. Cool and cut into squares to serve. This kugel is slightly watery; don't worry, just use a slotted spoon to serve and let liquid drain out. And if you drain it and put it in the fridge overnight, it is not watery at all when you eat it for breakfast the next morning.