Recipes of the Lower East Side

Recipes

Published May 17, 2010, issue of May 21, 2010.
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Jane Ziegelman’s new book “97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement” (Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins) delves into the pantries of the lower East Side in the early 20th century. The book, slated for publication in June, will be released in conjunction with an expansion of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Ziegleman will run a new culinary program in the museum’s brand new demonstration kitchen. The book is a tribute to the women (and men) who preserved the recipes of their ancestors. Below, we bring you a few of those recipes.

— Nadja Spiegelman

Read the full article on “97 Orchard” here


Stuffed Cabbage

The following stuffed-cabbage recipe comes to us from Frieda Shwartz, born on the lower East Side in 1918. Her special touch is the addition of grated apple to the filling.

1 pound beef
1 egg
3 cups canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Beef bones
1 peeled and grated apple
3 tablespoons rice
3 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons grated onion
3 teaspoons salt
1 cabbage

1) Pour boiling water over cabbage. Let stand 15 minutes.
2) Separate the leaves. Remove the thick stem from the outside of each leaf.
3) Prepare the sauce in a heavy saucepan by combining tomatoes, salt, pepper and bones.
4) Cook 30 minutes, covered.
5) Mix beef, rice, onion, egg, apple and water.
6) Place a heaping tablespoon of the mixture in a cabbage leaf. Roll leaf around mixture and add to sauce.
7) Season with lemon juice and brown sugar.
8) Cook 2 hours.


Challah

Fannie Cohen was an immigrant homemaker from Poland, who arrived in New York in 1912, a married woman with two young kids. This is her family recipe, scaled down to yield two good-size loaves.

7 1/2 cups bread flour
2 ounces fresh yeast or 4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup peanut oil or other vegetable oil
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons salt

1) Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand until mixture looks foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
2) Combine with remaining ingredients, stirring to form a dough.
3) Knead dough for 10 minutes, then place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, 1 to 2 hours.
4) Punch down dough, knead ten times and divide in two.
5) Separate each half into thirds. Roll each section into a rope about 18 inches long. Braid rope, pinching the ends and turning them under.
6) Place on a lightly greased baking tray and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size.
7) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
8) Before baking, brush challah with one egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water.
9) Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown.


Pickles

The following pickle recipe is adapted from Jannie Grossinger’s “The Art of Jewish Cooking”

30 kirby cucumbers of roughly the same size
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 cloves garlic
1 dried red pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
2 coin-size slices fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice
20 sprigs of dill

1) Wash and dry cucumbers and arrange them in a large jar or two smaller jars, alternating a layer of cucumbers with a layer of dill.
2) Combine salt and water and bring to boil. Turn off heat.
3) Add vinegar and spices and pour liquid over cucumbers. They should be immersed. If necessary, add more salt water.
4) Cover and keep in a cool place for 1 week.*

*If you like green pickles, Mrs. Grossinger recommends you try one after five days.


Vegetarian Chopped Liver

Here’s Lillian Chanale’s family recipe for vegetarian chopped liver, with the “livery” taste surprisingly coming from the canned peas.

3 medium-sized onions, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large can sweet peas, drained
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1) Sauté the onions in the oil until they are soft and golden.
2) Mash peas with the back of a fork.
3) Combine onion and peas with remaining ingredients and chop by hand until you have the desired consistency. If you like, you can use a food processor, but be careful not to over-process.
4) Season with salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper.


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