Here are a few delicious recipes, a taster from the our new cookbook, Just Add Love - Holocaust Survivors Share their Stories and Recipes. Some will be in the book, and some are specially for you here -- savoury, sweet and gluten-free too!
1. Potato Latkes
Latkes are potato cakes, where potatoes are grated then fried, like rosti or hashbrowns. They're a classic European Jewish dish. In fact, most of the grandmothers in the Just Add Love cookbook offered to make them for us!
This is the recipe of Sydney grandmother Thea Riesel. In her youth she was held in a Japanese POW camp in Indonesia. Now in her nineties, she still cooks latkes for her family. Her son Mark’s only regret is that she no longer makes them every Wednesday night, as she did when they were growing up.
Thea's latkes are on the thicker side, crisp on the outside, creamy inside and incredibly tasty for so few ingredients.
Makes 40 fritters
- 1½ - 2 kilos potatoes. Thea says to use old potatoes, the older the better. "In Europe we used the old, old ones that had been under the house since the last winter. We can’t get them like that here."
- 1 onion
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal. Best to start with ½ cup and then keep adding.
- Salt and pepper
1. Thea peels the potatoes. Her daughter-in-law doesn't, so they did one lot peeled, and one unpeeled, and both were fine. It’s more about how it looks, so you can cut this step out to save time.
2. Grate. By hand? Or using the machine? Thea maintains that grating by hand produces a better result – and other grandmothers agree. It is however much more work, and to save her grandchildrens' elbow grease, Thea agreed to put them through the food processor, “as long as it’s on a fine blade.”
3. Grate the onion the same way, then transfer the lot to a bowl.
4. Let stand until liquid forms, about 10 minutes. Squeeze the potato-onion mix in handfuls over a sink to drain it. (Another option is to put the whole lot into a towel and to wring that out.)
5. When you’ve removed as much liquid as possible, add the eggs, the salt and pepper and mix. Add half a cup of breadcrumbs, and mix again. Keep adding until the mixture is no longer sloppy. You may find if you didn't squeeze out enough water earlier, you will have to squeeze the mixture out again, or add more bread crumbs. Both options are fine.
6. Form into small oval shaped patties, the size of your palm. Deep fry over a moderate heat in a neutral vegetable oil (not olive oil, it’s too flavourful). Turn over once, and then drain on paper towels.
Best hot, straight out of the pan. Otherwise, eat warm.
7. You can also make all the mixture into a large potato cake, and fill a cake tin or Dutch oven and bake it like a quiche. Strew fresh rosemary sprigs on the bottom for added flavour and add some sliced potatoes to make a pattern. Make sure to oil the pan well. It will need 60-75 minutes, at 180 degrees.
2. Armenian Red Lentil And Apricot Soup
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- 1 ½ cup dried red lentils, rinsed
- 3 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Optional: 1 fresh chili – or more to taste
- 7 cups homemade chicken stock
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp dried or fresh thyme
- juice of half a lemon
Plain yogurt, salt and chopped fresh coriander and fresh mint to garnish
1. Rinse lentils. Chop the garlic and onions – and chili if using. Chop the dried apricots (this will speed up the cooking).
2. In a large soup pot, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds or so, till the seeds release their flavour. (This is a good way to start many soups.) Add the onion, garlic, and dried apricots. Sauté until the onion is translucent.
2. Add lentils and stock and simmer, covered, until tender – about 20 minutes or so. Add more liquid if needed.
3. While the soup is cooking, peel, seed & chop tomatoes.
4. Add the tomatoes, and powdered cumin, and thyme to the stock and simmer another 10 minutes or so.
4. Whiz with hand blender or in food processor. You can make it smooth, if that’s how you like it, or stop just before you reach that stage. Add lemon juice to taste. (If you like it more lemony, you can add more than half a lemon)
Serve garnished with chili oil. Pass around yoghurt into which you've mixed 1 teaspoon salt and 1 handful each chopped coriander and mint.
3. Chicken with Honey, Orange and Soy
The Food is Love project is built on the premise that grandmothers teach their families how to cook. But sometimes it goes the other way. Jerusalem grandmother Rina Mevorach prepares a recipe which one of her grandsons taught her.
“I like it,” says Libyan born Rina, a splendid, tireless cook herself. “It’s a quick, easy recipe that's always tasty, and I don’t mind learning from my grandson, no of course I don’t! Sometimes I teach him and sometimes he teaches me. What’s important is that we stay connected to each other.”
NOTE: This is a very forgiving recipe. You can substitute lemon juice, add some potatoes that need using up, it’s all good. Only word of warning, do not use a highly flavourful honey, something neutral is best.
- One large chicken, jointed or 5 or 6 Marylands ie thigh plus leg or 12 chicken legs
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 orange sliced into rounds
- brown sugar for sprinkling
Each liquid doubles the previous one
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup honey or silan (date honey)
- 1 cup orange juice – squeeze it yourself, or pour it from a bottle: both work
Chopped coriander, to serve
1. Fry the chicken pieces in a little olive oil to seal, about 5 minutes on either side, till they're brown.
2. Add the liquids to the pot. Throw in the whole garlic – if they cloves are large, you can chop them in half - and grated ginger. Cook over a low-medium heat, covered, for 45 minutes, till ready.
3. After 20 minutes, throw in the orange slices on top of the chicken ie out of the sauce, sprinkled with a little brown sugar. They will caramelise while the chicken cooks.
3. Sprinkle with chopped coriander, and serve with rice or couscous, or whatever grain you like best.
4. Ricotta Dumplings with Mushrooms
These dumplings are the recipe of Sydney grandmother Berta Bart. She survived World War Two by working as a slave labourer in the Gros-Rosen network of labour camps. At the end of the war, she discovered that most of her family had been killed. She cooks these dumplings with her grandchildren James Bart and Dr Nikki Bart.
The dumplings are made with white cheese and semolina flour, making them sturdy and nutritious. This dish is mostly about texture; the taste is quite bland, it's the marriage with the sauces that makes these little critters shine. Most sauces are savoury - tomato, mushroom, truffles - but they are also delicious if eaten sweet. And somehow both versions are intensely comforting.
Makes 25 -30 dumplings.
- 500 g full fat ricotta cheese or farm cheese
- 3 eggs
- 200 g semolina flour
- 50 g butter
- pinch salt
- optional: 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- boiling water, salted, for cooking the dumplings once they are ready
TIP: If your ricotta is wet, let it sit in a sieve above a bowl for an hour or so to drain. You need to make a mixture that is not too sloppy, so you can handle and shape it.
1. Ingredients should be at room temperature. If you are using farm cheese, to make your life easier, put it through a potato ricer or sieve to soften. Then put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. A wooden spoon is best. Do not use a food processor. It will produce the wrong consistency and the dunplings will come out too hard.
2. Wet your hands and shape the dough into small balls, about 5 cm, ping pong ball size. Refrigerate, covered, for a couple of hours. You can also leave them overnight.
3. Boil a pot full of water. It should be large enough to hold them comfortably. Add salt. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop the dumplings in. If you've never done it, it's incredibly satisfying to watch them bob up to the top of your pot. They are ready when they rise to the surface after 3- 5 minutes.
In Poland, these dumplings were served with butter and salt, or mushrooms fried with garlic. Berta's grand-daughter Nikki loves them plain. Her bother James prefers them with mushrooms.
This recipe has the magic combination of butter, garlic, thyme and soy sauce.
- 30-60 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 250 - 300 g fresh mushrooms - a mix of colours and types is nice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1. To start, put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl, and cover with about half a cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the mushroom liquid, and chop roughly. Also chop the fresh mushrooms - caps and stems.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a hot pan. When it's melted, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. You want it to sizzle, and flavour the oil. Do not let it brown!
3. Add all the mushrooms to the pan, fresh and dried, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, on a high heat, till they brown. Add reserved mushroom water and the thyme. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the pan. Allow the stock to reduce by half, then turn the heat down to medium-low and add the last tablespoon of butter, followed by the soy sauce and cream.
4. When mixture thickens a little, remove from heat. Taste, adding more soy if you like. Black pepper is also good. Spoon over dumplings and serve at once
5. Ricotta Dumplings - Sweet
Across the border in Hungary, these dumplings are also served for dessert.
Sydney grandmother Agi Adler, who was born in Budapest, serves them sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon, and breadcrumbs fried in butter. Fry 250 g breadcrumbs till crunchy in 100 g butter. Add 1 teaspoon sugar and cinnamon, mixed together, per person. Sprinkle crunchy sweet cinnamon crumbs on the dumplings.
It's not overly sweet, since the dumplings themselves are not sweetened, but it is crunchy, sugary, spicy and simply delicious. For added indulgence, a dollop of sour cream completes the experience. Agi Adler concedes that even not very sweet Hungarian desserts are rich.
TIP: If you are serving the dumplings sweet, do not boil them in salted water.
6. Lena’s Binnenstich
This pastry comes from the German word for ‘bee sting’. In Germany, it has a layer of cream, absent from this version.
It's one of the signature pastries made by Sydney grandmother Lena Goldstein, who at almost 100 years old (!) is still sharp as a tack - and a great baker. She is also one of the last remaining survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the 1943 Jewish rebellion against the Nazis. Her amazing story will be in our cookbook, Just Add Love.
This buttery honey and almond 'bee-sting' is the favourite of her grandson, Ben Goldstein.
“No, I’m a binnenstich man,” he says when Lena offers him another of her home-made titbits. It’s also easy, and extremely good for little work.
- 125 g butter
- 1 egg
- 60 g or ¼ cup sugar – Lena measures out 3 large European tablespoons
- 100 g or 2/3 cup plain flour
- 150 g or ¾ cup plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
- 125 g butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¾ cup slivered almonds, or simply chopped in the food processor
1. Mix pastry ingredients by hand. When you have a stiff dough, which no longer sticks to your hands, press it into a pre-oiled rectangular baking tin – 32 cm x 27 cm. Put in fridge while you make the topping.
2. Melt the second 125 g butter in a small pot on the stove. Add the sugar and honey and stir till you have a honeyish caramel. Then tip in the chopped or slivered almonds. Pour this mix over the pastry base, spreading uniformly on top.
3. Bake 40-45 minutes, till golden. It will darken quickly after 35 minutes, so watch it -- be careful not to burn!
4. Cool in tin. Cut into squares.
7. Nina's Apple & Berry Bake with Semolina
This yummy dessert resembles an American fruit ‘cobbler’ but is not too sweet and has a good balance of fresh and dried fruit. The semolina gives the crumble an extra depth and the spices and lemon rind round everything off. It is not hard to make, you don’t have to worry about it rising properly, or anything like that… So it’s easy, pretty healthy – it is mostly fruit – and pretty much irresistible.
- 9 -10 medium sized green apples – peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon peel
- ¾ cup raisins or sultans
- ¾ cup walnuts
- 2 handfuls of frozen berries, preferably sour berries
- 100-125 g butter
- 5 tablespoons sugar (you can also use less, if you don't have a sweet tooth)
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ - ¾ c semolina flour ie slightly more than the flour
- 1 tablespoon spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and a little bit of cloves or anise, plus a grind of black pepper is a good combination
- ½ teaspoon salt
1. Peel and slice the apples, and drizzle with lemon juice to stop them from going brown. Mix the topping mix ingredients together, adding the spices to the flour.
2. Have all your ingredients ready, since you are just layering them into a baking dish. Generously smear the bottom of a baking dish with butter, then cover with apples, half the walnuts and sultanas, half the peel and all the berries. Sprinkle half the topping mix and dot with half the butter. Now repeat, so you are ending with topping. Make sure the walnuts and sultans aren’t peaking through as they tend to burn; instead reserve a few apples for the top.
3. When all your ingredients are used up, dot with remaining butter. If it looks a little dry on top, add a bit more butter.
4. Bake at 200 C for 90 - 120 minutes. The time depends on your oven. It is a slow cooking dish! It is best to cover the pan, with a lid or foil, for the first 60 minutes at least and then it may take less time.
5. Serve hot with yoghurt or icecream.
GLUTEN AND SUGAR FREE VERSION
If you want to make it gluten free, you can buy a pre-mixed gf flour, or mix your own, making sure to include some almond meal, and some rice flour to give you the slightly gritty quality of semolina.
You can replace the sugar with dextrose, which is less sweet but is also – on current thinking – meant to be healthier. You can also substitute dates for the sultanas, as they are sweeter. Then follow the instructions above.
- 1 cup gluten free flour
- 1 tablespoon spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and a small amount of ground cloves or star anise, plus a grind of black pepper is a good combination
- 6-8 tablespoons dextrose (you can also use less)
- ½ teaspoon salt
8. Eva’s Chocolate, Walnut & Sour Cherry Cake
This recipe is easy and delicious, a festive cake from Sydney grandmother Eva Grinston. It's especially good because the sour cherries balance the chocolate, and cut the cake’s rich sweetness.
It is also gluten free, and suitable for Passover.
It’s a recipe from Eva’s grandmother’s cook book, which Eva found in the basement of her family home in Czecholovakia at the end of World War Two. This cookbook is one of Eva's main links to her past, and this cake was Eva's grandmother's favourite. It's the cake that Eva bakes in Sydney for all her grandchildren's birthdays.
In Czechoslovakia, they picked the sour cherries off the tree. In Australia, Eva buys them, imported from Europe. The best ones, she says, are in a jar, not a tin. Sometimes, when she can’t find sour cherries, she uses tinned pineapple instead! Now that is an Australian innovation…
- 200 gram / 7 oz butter
- 200 gram / 7 oz sugar
- 200 gram / 7oz good dark chocolate, melted
- 7 eggs, large, at room temperature
- 200 gram / 7 oz grated walnuts or almonds - both work well
- Optional: 4 tablespoons self raising flour or GF flour. You can use matzo meal during Passover, or can also omit altogether.
- 400 g jar of pitted sour cherries, drained
1. Cream butter, egg-yolks, sugar, till light and fluffy.
2. Add melted chocolate.
3. Whip egg whites to a stiff meringue. Sometimes adding ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar helps.
4. Carefully fold whites into the chocolate mixture, alternating with nuts and flour
5. Butter a large tin. Eva most often uses a rectangular tin, 15 inches/35 cm long, 11 inches/ 25 cm wide. Spoon some flour into the tin, then tilt, and spill out any surplus.
6. Spoon chocolate mixture into tin, smooth it down
7. Once you've drained the juice from the cherries, sprinkle them evenly over the cake mix in the tin
8. Bake in medium oven, 180 degrees, for 30 minutes. Less if it’s fan forced; test by inserting a toothpick, which should come out dry.
You can serve as is, cut into squares, or dress it up with a ganache for a special occasion. (200 g dark chocolate melted in the top of a double boiler, with 100 ml cream beaten into it.) It looks irresistible with sour cherries and pomegranate seeds piled on top!
For a picnic, or if you want to leave everyone to have a sweet taste rather than a whole piece of cake, tiny cup cakes are a great option! Add one sour cherry per cupcake. One batch of cake mix makes lots - more than 60.
Bake for 7-10 minutes only. (It may be less, depending how hot your oven is.) These are really, really good.
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