New Cookbooks Spark Kitchen Creativity

Sandy Eller ● Jewish Press

Who’s ready to shake things up? Stuck as we are in the final stretch of winter when things are still gray and gloomy, there’s nothing like contemplating some new culinary frontiers to chase the cold and the darkness away.

If your childhood was anything like mine, the phrase “waste not want not” was uttered on many an occasion, and was most often applied to food. Taking that concept into the kitchen, Yaffa Fruchter uses those very words as the title of her new cookbook, with 120 recipes that repurpose leftovers into foods that will hopefully have everyone at your table excited. In her introduction, Fruchter describes Waste Not Want Not as more of a cooking course, challenging home chefs to channel their creativity and find ways to use the odds and ends already lurking in their fridges, freezers and pantries and turn them into delicious goodies instead of just chucking in the trash.

Given the subject matter, it seems appropriate for this cookbook to open with a chapter on food safety since giving your family food poisoning by feeding them spoiled ingredients is definitely something to be avoided. Among her suggestions are avoiding anything that looks, smells or tastes off, marking dates on all leftovers, storing things in airtight containers, using extra caution when it comes to anything made with fish, meat or eggs and throwing out any questionable food items. Having gotten that bit of business out of the way, the sky is the limit in Waste Not Want Not, where the vegetables used to flavor your chicken soup are transformed into patties, kugels, veggies loaves and tzimmes, in addition to being used as the base for other soups. Have extra chicken that didn’t get eaten over Shabbos? Try turning it into blintzes, bourekas, shawarma, a fleishig pizza or even chicken sushi. I confess that I think my family would disown me if I tried the recipe for a chummus-like dish made out of pureed, leftover cholent and topped with fried onions, although I can’t see anyone objecting if I followed the recipe for gazpacho made with day old Israeli salad.

I have resurrected leftover challah by slathering it with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and making it into garlic bread on many an occasion and Fruchter also suggests turning it into bread crumbs, croutons or soaking it and squeezing it out for use in hamburgers, chopped liver and stuffing. And should you ever find yourself with too much cake on hand, Waste Not Want Not includes it as an ingredient in baked Alaska, cake pops, rum balls and that simcha favorite, trifle. Fruchter also peppers her book with practical advice, like rotating items in your pantry to use them before they expire, keeping spices in the freezer to maintain freshness and tips on salvaging burned items, doing her best to keep food waste to a bare minimum.

The Test for a Wife and Asking

by Rakel Berenbaum

The following is from a new set of books in English – EVEN SHLOMO – THE TORAH COMMENTARY OF RABBI SHLOMO CARLEBACH, edited by musician Rabbi Shlomo Katz, and published by the Shlomo Carlebach Legacy Trust and Urim.

In one of the 11 articles in the book dedicated to our portion of Chayei Sarah he brings a deep thought from the Ishbitzer (Bais Ya’akov Chayei Sarah 29) relating to Eliezer searching for a wife for Yaakov. Eliezer decided to make a test. He will ask for water from a girl and if she not only brings water for him but also brings for his camels then that is the girl for Yaakov.

The Ishbitzer asks why such a test? Wouldn’t it be a bigger test if the girl from her own initiative asks him if he (and his camels) want water? Why does he have to ask her first?

Rav Shlomo adds that the Gemara says that there were one hundred steps going down to the well. Eliezer saw that when Rivka went down to the well the water came up to greet her. But this wasn’t enough for Eliezer to decide that Rivka was the soulmate for Yaakov. And why is giving water to camels a deeper sign then the miracle of the water coming up to greet her?

Reb Shlomo explains that we are here in this world to go through tests. Only after we go through tests can we hopefully reach the level which we are supposed to be on. The Torah doesn’t say that Avraham Avinu was chosen because he was a TZADIK. Only after he went through ten tests does Hashem say “ATA YADATI – now I know” (B’reishit 22:12) – that Avraham is worthy. He says that the essence of Yiddishkeit is that it’s not given to you for free. We have to work for it.
The Ishbitzer explained that Hashem wants us to “open the gates for ME as a hole of a needle, and I will open for you openings as wide as the gates of the Beis HaMikdash.” We do a little bit and G-d gives us so much. But He wants us to do something, to be deserving. He wants us to ask for it. To pray to Him and ask Him to give it to us. The Ishbitzer connects this to praying for rain. In this rainy season it is important to remember that Hashem wants us to pray to Him for rain.

He explains that Eliezer specifically gave Rivka this test – that if he asks for a little bit will she give him a lot – (and not that she herself offer him from the beginning) because if she is to be one of the mothers of Israel, she must understand this message. She has to know not to give out things for free. If you ask for it, pray for it, cry for it – then she gives and even gives more, like Hashem does for us. And then when we receive it it is really ours because we have worked for it.

Reb Shlomo adds – how much the Holy Land is ours now since we have been crying for it for two thousand years.

WHEN ELIEZER finally decided that Rivka was the right woman for his master he gave her presents and gave her family MIGDANOT (24:53-54) which Rashi explains were the SHIV’AT HAMINIM – the seven species of Israel. So here is a salad recipe using some of them.

1 head of your favorite lettuce / mixed greens
3 scallions (sliced)
3 medium cucumbers (chopped)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup halved and seeded red or green grapes
A big tuft of alfalfa sprouts
2 large fresh figs (checked & chopped)

4-6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
Ground pepper and salt to taste
1 tooth of crushed garlic

Mix salad ingredients. Add dressing to the salad just before serving.

OU article can be found here.