- Tell me about yourself, including your name, location, family, and website (if applicable). (Dr.) Ariella Brown. I live in Cedarhurst with my husband and children, aged nearly 9 to 16. My website is www.kallahmagazine.com and my blog is http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/. I also write on http://www.examiner.com/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner
- What do you remember about family meals and your mother’s cooking style when you were growing up? My mother was born in Europe of parents from Lithuania, so she tended to use onions a lot. There was a very old cookbook or two in the house, but I don’t recall seeing her open one or follow a recipe.
- How is your cooking style different from your mother’s I use far fewer onions. I do follow recipes, though I adapt them to my taste.
- How did you learn to cook? I started cooking as a teenager. At first I did very simple chicken and potato type dishes. I recall making cookies better than cakes then. After I married I tried out some of the recipes in the cookbooks I received. I stick primarily to one cookbook for my standard dishes and venture a bit into the second and only for two dishes into a third. I also look for new recipes online. That’s where I found the recipe for Yerushalmi kugel (Jerusalem noodle pudding) that I made for my biggest party to date.
- Do you entertain, and in what circumstances? What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date? I don’t entertain often. However, this past winter, I prepared a meal for 25 for my husband’s siyum (completion of a Talmudic study unit). A number of years back he made another siyum. I served that meal in the house, we had fewer people, and I took in more prepared food – platters of deli meat and cut vegetables. At the time, I realized that for $25, you only get about $5 worth of vegetables, and I resolved not to order such a platter again. This time almost everything except the turkey pastrami slices and the cake brought by a guest was made at home. At first I was going to buy all deli meats and just prepare pasta dishes. But I ended up also cooking a corned beef, a pot roast, and rice. I also prepared some homemade franks in blankets to supplement the frozen hors d’oeuvres I had bought, prepared various salads and made Yerushalmi kugel for the first time. The kugel came out quite good but it is more complicated than most dishes I usually make and takes a lot of oil and sugar, so it will not be a standard menu item for us. My oldest daughter cut up the fruit for the fruit platter and the vegetable for the vegetable platter. Another daughter prepared the macaroni salad. And the girls also helped set up the tables.
- Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu? My typical weekly menu is not terribly exciting. Usually I try to serve dairy suppers twice a week because my daughters prefer it to meat meals. Some of them will include fish. Chicken usually makes up the main dish. Sometimes we have hamburgers. My children are fond of spaghetti and meatballs, but my husband isn’t, so I don’t make it every single week. For Shabbos, I usually rotate between noodle and potato kugel. I also make a brown rice casserole and sometimes a kugel–either carrot, cranberry apple, or zucchini. I don’t make cholent (Sabbath stew) when it is hot, but when I do, I usually include a mock kishke (stuffed intestines).
- How has your cooking style evolved over the years? I try to cut down on margarine and will often substitute egg whites for whole eggs, at least for some of the eggs in a recipe. In certain areas I’ve grown less ambitious. I mean that I won’t tackle a convoluted recipe when I know a simpler one will taste as good. For example, a few years after I was married, I prepared a lemon meringue pie from scratch for Passover including the matzah meal crust. It came out just fine; however, not everyone is very fond of lemon meringue pie. Now I make my standard apricot squares and chocolate torte or roll cake which are much simpler to prepare and more popular. The only time I am willing to separate 7 eggs for a recipe is on Passover; otherwise, I usually skip on to something with fewer steps.
- What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The newest? A lot of my things date to when I got married. I suppose the oldest would be the stainless flatware my mother allowed me to take after she had acquired another set that came with dishes. It has held up well to everyday use. I don’t like flimsy utensils that bend when you try to spoon up ice cream. My newest item would be containers. I stocked up before Passover with coupons on Ziploc containers and kept some for regular use.
- Please share a favorite recipe.
I only discovered this recipe about a year ago – it makes matzoh balls without any oil or egg yolks, eliminating what you want less of without really sacrificing taste.
Light Matzoh Balls (no oil or cholesterol)
- 4 egg whites
- ½ c. seltzer
- ¾ c. matzoh meal
- dash of pepper (optional)
- water for boiling
- salt for the boiling water
Blend the egg whites with the seltzer and pepper (optional). Mix in the matzoh meal until blended all together. You can adjust proportions to get the right consistency. Refrigerate for at least 1 ½ hours. Set water and salt in a 4-5 quart pot to boil. Shape the matzoh ball.Wet your hands in cold water to make it easier to shape the balls. They should be about the size of a walnut, as they will expand when cooking. Once the water is boiling, drop in the matzoh balls. Cover the pot, lower the flame, and simmer 30-40 minutes. These will be fluffy when finished cooking and should be handled delicately to avoid breaking the balls before they are put in the soup.