Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen: Well Beyond Tradition

Beyond Bubbie's Kitchen, 2010

Beyond Bubbie's Kitchen, 2010 (photo: courtesy of Prism)

Jewish food = Matzo ball soup.

That was then. This now. Hold onto your forks and knives! Heady days of innovation are just around the corner.

On Sunday, January 30th, the New Center for Arts and Culture is hosting their tasting event “Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen.” 15 chefs from in and around Boston will participate in cooking demonstrations that energize traditional Jewish dishes with contemporary flavors and healthy ingredients. Best of all, guests will walk away with a recipe booklet laying out the how-to’s of each of the dishes made that evening.

Halibut served at BBK, 2010

The list of new recipes is tantalizing. Bagel and lox? Not a chance. Try this on for size, from Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern: Caraway & matzah cake with hot smoked arctic char, vermont fromage & micro celery.  Potato Pancake? Try: Cold smoked cherry wood salmon with potato apple galette with whole grain mustard horseradish remoulade from Michael Madden of OM.

Tickets can be purchased directly through the NCAC (if you’re 39 or under, that “young adult” ticket means YOU). The event is being held at the Moakley Courthouse, so make really sure you don’t forget your ID. Chefs in the spotlight will include Azita Bina-Seibel of LaLa Rokh, Erwin Ramos of Ole and Evan Deluty of Stella. There are many more.

To whet your appetite, we’re including some of the featured recipes here…

Sephardic Passover Eggplant Stew – Rich, smoky blend of grilled eggplant, roasted garlic and tomato
Chef Azita Bina-Seibel of LaLa Rokh

(Serves 4)

2 Italian eggplants (about 1 lb each)
5 tomatoes, cored
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Pinch of turmeric
2 large eggs (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley

Char Eggplant & Scoop Pulp
1. With a knife, pierce a few vents in the eggplant
2. Grill the eggplant all around until all sides are charred on the stove top or outdoor grill
3. Slice off top of eggplant and slice in half vertically. Spread open and spoon the pulp off the skin, avoiding the burned skin itself
4. Set aside

Prepare Tomatoes
1. With a knife, score bottom of tomatoes with an X, and remove cores
2. Boil water, add the cored tomatoes and cook 5 minutes
3. Carefully remove tomatoes from hot water and, when the temperature allows, peel the skin off and chop into small pieces
4. Set aside

Sauté Ingredients
1. Heat a pan over medium heat with olive oil and add the chopped garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes
2. Add the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper to taste
3. Add the turmeric, chopped tomatoes with their juice, and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes until the liquid evaporates
4. Add the eggs and cook about 2 minutes, mixing into the dish (alternatively use tofu or rice). Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste
5. Serve hot or cold, as an appetizer or entree. Serve with rice or as a spread with bread

Note: Can be served as vegetarian or vegan if eggs are not used

Chocolate Tamales
Chef Erwin Ramos of Ole

(makes 10 servings)

1 cup chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons chipotle paste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 large dried corn husks
4 oz mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons cotija cheese

In a sauce pan, melt together chocolate, butter, sugar and chipotle paste over medium heat. Remove from heat after all the ingredients have melted and mixed well.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and stir in a little of the hot chocolate mixture in to the egg.

Stir in the egg mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture in the pan.

Slowly add the flour into the mixture until well blended. Set aside.

Mix together with a spatula the mascarpone and cotija cheeses in a small bowl. Set aside.

Soak dried corn husk in warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

To Fill:
Spread a corn husk in a flat surface. Spread about a third cup of the chocolate mixture over the lower wide end of the husk leaving a ¾ inch border on either side and 1 ½ inch at the pointed end.

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place it in the center of the chocolate mixture spread.

Bring the two sides of the husk up and over the chocolate mixture, overlapping the long side of the husk. Fold the pointed end up.

Repeat with the remaining nine husks.

Place the tamales, folded end down, into a steamer insert. (The insert needs to be about four inches deep. If it is wide, steady the tamales against the sides by placing an aluminum foil ball in the center.

Add two inches on water to the steamer. Please the insert, cover and steam over low heat for about 50 minutes.

Remove the steamer from the heat and let the tamales remain in the steamer for about ten minutes to allow the filling to become firm.

Sweet Tomatillo Sauce
(makes about 1 cup)

½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
½ pound small fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
¼ lb piloncillo, coarsely chopped (about ¾ cup)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 (1-inch) piece true cinnamon stick

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan with tip of a paring knife, then add pod and remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatillos are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard cinnamon stick and vanilla pod, then purée tomatillo mixture in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Cool completely, and then chill, covered, until cold. Sauce can be chilled, covered, up to 1 week.

Vanilla Custard Sauce

½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
2 cups half-and-half
2 large eggs
½ cup sugar

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan with tip of a paring knife, then add pod and half and half and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in a bowl until well combined, then add hot half-and-half mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Transfer custard to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened and custard registers 175ºF on thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes (do not let boil).

Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, discarding solids. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir custard until cool. Chill in refrigerator, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour.