Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Shabbos Table

Looking for a tasty treat? In this week's installment, we have recipes guaranteed to knock your socks off. Consider this fair warning.

Tomato and Zucchini Salad 
First up is Jan's Tomato and Zucchini Salad. If you want to thank her for making your meal healthful and delicious, stop by the Museum on Mondays and take her tour. A former French teacher, Jan has been known to lead tours in French, Spanish and even Italian-- a fitting setting for this nice summer salad recipe. She even includes plating directions: what a balabusta!

  •  l large tomato, coarsely chopped or diced
  • l small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 T. sliced green onion
  • 1 tsp. snipped fresh basil
  • 2 T. Wishbone Robusto Italian Dressing
In a medium mixing bowl combine tomato, zucchini, green onion, basil, and Italian dressing.  Toss lightly to mix. Line 4 salad plates with leaf lettuce.  Divide tomato mixture between plates.Makes 4 servings.  If you are serving a dairy lunch, you can sprinkle each serving with some shredded mozzarella cheese. 

Hanna's Summer Pot Roast

This recipe is courtesy of Hanna Griff-Sleven, Director of Family History Center & Cultural Programs at the Museum. In addition to planning amazing cultural events and taking oral histories of former worshipers at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, Hanna is our resident chef. This recipe is her latest attempt to simplify summer cooking. With just a few ingredients and the most basic of prep work, this pot roast is simply a mikhaye.

  • 3 lbs. pot roast
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups of miso soup or beef broth
Brown the meat on all sides in olive oil.  Add the lemon juice and soup/broth, cover and cook on low flame for 2- 2 and a half hours or until meat is tender. Add the lemon zest and cook for 15 more minutes.  Serve hot or cold. Pair with mashed potatoes and a nice green salad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Most Dangerous Woman in America

Via the Jewish Women's Archive: Emma Goldman's career, followed closely by many in the Yiddish-speaking world, provided this newspaper — subtitled "A Journal of Humor, Wit, and Satire" — with a great deal of subject material. The caption under this cartoon reads: "Emma Goldman, the grogger [noise-maker] and Free Speech in America." The cartoonist effectively pokes fun both at Goldman's outspokenness and at the authorities' attempts to silence the "noise-maker."
On our Stoop, Synagogue, Soapbox walking tour, we stroll the local streets while exploring the intersection of politics, ideology and religion on the Lower East Side of 100 years ago. One of the more(in)famous characters we meet along the way is Emma Goldman-- feminist, anarchist, rabble rouser and proponent of free love. A fascinating historical figure, Goldman's life was dedicated to changing the status-quo of the world in which she found herself: "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things."

Looking for Goldman on the internet? Here are a few places to help your search:
Join us at 7 PM on Thursday, August 12th as we meet Emma and other East Side politicos on the Stoop, Synagogue, Soapbox walking tour. Email Nina Cohen to reserve a spot.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(Jewish) Gangs of New York

On our Gangster, Writer, Rabbi walking tour, we explore the lives-- and funeral processions-- of three iconic Lower East Side figures: writer Sholem Aleichem, Rabbi Jacob Joseph, and East Side gangster Big Jack Zelig. Though Bugsy Siegel and  Meyer Lansky usually come to mind when thinking of Jewish gangsters, Zelig was a true leader of crime in the neighborhood. As Abraham Schoenfeld, detective for the Kehilla, a Jewish communal organization, wrote: "Men before him - like Kid Twist, Monk Eastman, and others - were as pygmies to a giant. With the passing of Zelig, one of the most 'nerviest', strongest, and best men of his kind left us."

Who was Big Jack Zelig? Born Zelig Harry Lefkowitz,
Zelig was the leader of a band of Jewish gangsters in New York City in the early 1900s. Early in 1912, the Zelig gang was hired by corrupt New York City Police Lieutenant Charles Becker who ran a protection racket for the New York gangs to kill another Manhattan gangster named Herman (Beansie) Rosenthal whom Becker thought was an informant. Rosenthal was shot to death on a Manhattan Street on July 16,1912 by four of Big Jack's men. Police Lieut. Becker was arrested and charged with ordering Rosenthal's murder and put on trial with Zelig scheduled to testify against him. On Oct. 5,1912, the night before the trial was to begin Big Jack Zelig was shot to death while riding on a Second Ave. trolley car in Manhattan. Police Lieut. Becker was convicted of ordering Rosenthal's murder and sentenced to death. He was executed in Sing-Sing's electric chair. 
Death may be final, but the story doesn't end there. Find out how Zelig's funeral polarized the downtown Jewish community, underscoring tensions between American commericalism and Eastern European traditions. The tour is offered Thursdays July 29  and August 19 at 7pm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shabbos Recipes

Searching for a recipe for your Shabbos meal? You can call your bubbe -- but if that fails, we're here to provide your weekly fix. On tap this week is a garlicky summer gazpacho and a sweet sangria for all of your ceremonial needs.

Garlicky Summer Gazpacho
Garlic, the favored seasoning of Jewish cooks worldwide, provides a spicy kick to this summer soup. Easy to make and serve, this promises to be a hit at your Sabbath table.

  • 1 bottle tomato juice
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large cucumber
  • half a bunch parsley
  • half a bunch chives
  • black pepper and salt to taste
Roughly dice vegetables. Add all solids to blender with tomato juice to cover. Blend until desired smoothness is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. Voila! A first course that takes no heat and just 5 minutes to prepare.

Summer Sangria 
 Tired of the same old Manischewitz kiddush wine? Try this sweet sangria as a fresh alternative. With a heady mix of fresh fruit and alcohol, your guests will be saying "Amen!"


  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 mango, sliced
  • 2 cups of fresh raspberries (or thawed frozen)
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 3 oz brandy
  • 2 tbsp of superfine sugar
  • 1 can club soda
Combine all ingredients except club soda in a pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, stir in club soda. For an extra treat, freeze a few of the raspberries and use as ice cubes!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day

After leaving Eastern Europe, the founders of our synagogue forged their lives as Americans on the streets of the Lower East Side. How did they celebrate their newfound heritage? Unfortunately, I've found no mention of barbecued borscht or other culinary treats, but a strong sense of pride as Americans certainly took hold in the Eldridge Street Synagogue's congregation. As Annie Polland comments in Landmark of the Spirit: The Eldridge Street Synagogue,
Within the walls of the synagogue, immigrants forged an American Jewish identity that blended patriotism to their new country with a sense of responsibility to Jews around the world...In 1889 the congregation decorated the synagogue in honor of the centennial of George Washington's iunaguruation and, in 1901, held a memorial service for President William McKinley. During World War I, the congregation commisioned and displayed an American flag with stars for each one of the congregation's sons serving in the war (12.)
This ode to the patriotic boys serving overseas hung from special flagholders, placed in the women's balcony and embellished with five-pointed American stars. Flying proudly from the magestic facade of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the flag must have seemed like a banner for American pride and identity. Though the flags have been lost to time, the flagholders stand as important reminders of the independence felt by our founders in this country.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Food Memories

They say that the way to a man's heart is his stomach, but I believe that the path actually leads directly to the brain. Merely mentioning food can unlock troves of memories thought to have disappeared long ago. This year, I asked the festival-goers waiting in line at our Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival to share the memories traditional foods like egg rolls and egg creams evoke for them, and the responses poured in. Here are a few of their answers:

"'Egg Cream' was what Harriet the Spy ordered at the restaurant after school in NYC!" -Eileen, grew up in Westchester

"Growing up, we would order Chinese food every week. My favorite were the egg rolls, which were quite a novelty for a Jewish girl in the Bronx in the 1940s. Eventually, the woman taking orders recognized my voice when I'd call!"

"First read about egg creams in 'Road Food Good Food.' Immediately made them for everyone!"

"I am from Canton (Guanhzhou), China. I believe egg rolls are a type of dim sum (a genre of Cantonese food.) However, I did not like egg rolls at all when I was in China. I started to like them when I came to the US and ate my first egg roll in a Chinese restaurant here. I guess its just the feeling of home that makes me like egg rolls again." -Liyan, a wonderful MAES intern

"In college, I'd invite my crushes back to my dorm for egg creams!"

Do you have a favorite egg roll or egg cream memory to share? Comment below-- we'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From the Trenches: An Egg Cream Report

At our annual Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival this past Sunday, I celebrated my 5th year of pouring, stirring and sipping egg creams, the official beverage of the Lower East Side (in my estimation, at least.) Serving egg creams to a crowd of 8,000 is like running a marathon: a true test of endurance, ending in sweet, chocolaty victory. We came, we stirred, and we conquered, selling out our entire supply!

You may be wondering: what exactly is an egg cream? According to Wikipedia,
"An egg cream is a classic beverage consisting of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, probably dating from the late 19th century, and is especially associated with Brooklyn, home of its alleged inventor, candy store owner Louis Auster.[1][2][3] It contains neither eggs nor cream. The egg cream is almost exclusively a fountain drink; although there have been several attempts to bottle it, none has been wholly successful, as its fresh taste and characteristic head requires mixing of the ingredients just before drinking. The drink can be compared to a traditional ice cream soda, though it contains no ice cream."

To make an egg cream at home in an 8-ounce cup, here is a quick recipe handed down from John Heller, pictured above. At Eldridge Street, he is the Grand Poobah of the Cream, and indeed taught me how to make my very first. I've since used this recipe hundreds of times, and it never fails to impress:

1. Pour Fox's U-Bet syrup into cup, approximately 1 inch thick. Accept no imitations.
2. Add a splash of milk about the same height, stir vigorously.
3. Add seltzer to the mixture, ending slightly below the top of cup. Beware! Overflowing is an occupational hazard.
4. Stir, serve and enjoy!

Are you a pickle person? Is deli your delicacy? Love lime rickies? Tell us about your favorite East Side Treat!