Melting Pot Memories

Book Review by Norene Gilletz

Melting Pot Memories, by Judy Bart Kancigor, is a collection of 600 recipes from 159 members of the Rabinowitz family. Packed with nostalgia and humour, it is the story of an immigrant family told through its stomach, from the shtetl to the suburbs.

It took Judy 3 years to compile. At a family wedding, Judy sat down with her Aunt Sally (now 92, with all her marbles) who went over all the recipes and told Judy which were worthy of publication. Some recipes were added for sentimental value only.

Here are some easy, delicious recipes for your enjoyment.

Grandma Sera Fritkin’s Russian Brisket (Michelle Gullion)

“Some of my dearest memories of my gramma,” says Michelle, “surround the Passovers at her small apartment. We could smell the aroma of her brisket all the way down the hall even before we got to her door. How her face would light up when she saw I brought friends. To this day there is always room at her table for more.”

4 ½ lb. brisket
juice of 6 lemons
pepper and garlic powder
2 pkgs. onion soup mix
3 T. brown sugar
1 bottle Heinz chili sauce
1 whole head of garlic, cleaned
small red potatoes (4 per person)

Cover brisket with lemon juice; refrigerate 24 hours.

Rinse away lemon juice. Sprinkle with pepper and garlic powder on both sides.

Place brisket fat side up in roasting pan. Pour 1 1/2 cups water around meat and sprinkle with soup mix, brown sugar, ¾ of the chili sauce and garlic (in that order).

Cover with foil. Roast at 350°F for 2 ½ hours, checking frequently to add water mixed with remaining chili sauce as necessary to get a rich, carmelized sauce.

Add red potatoes, adding as little water as possible, and baste.

Roast 1 hour more uncovered or until potatoes are fork tender and carmelized.

Chicken Marbella
12 to 18 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 head garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried basil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup dried apricots, cut up
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup (dried) sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted and cut up
6 bay leaves

Next Day
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Mix marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange chicken in a single layer in large baking pan and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently. Sprinkle with cilantro.

The Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Nothin’ said lovin’ like a tin of Aunt Estelle’s chocolate chip cookies. Who can forget the huge tins in her living room always filled to the brim. Did she ever get on a plane or visit without them? Never! Her recipe notes (complete with batter sprays) indicate the original times five!”

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tbsp. milk (use juice or water for pareve cookies)
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 (12 oz.) pkgs. semisweet chocolate chips (or more)

Combine in mixer shortening, sugar, vanilla, milk and eggs. Sift together flour and baking powder and add to mixture a little at a time until blended. Add chocolate chips and stir with wooden spoon. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated 375 F oven about 10 to 12 minutes or until as brown as you like. (For David and Eric, substitute white chocolate chips.)

Gehachte Leber

The French have pâté; we have chopped liver. There are as many variations as there were hairs on Papa Harry’s head. (Well, at least when he was young!) Arguments have raged for centuries – which is best: Beef liver? Calves’ liver? Chicken livers? Who’s got time for such philosophical discussions?

Some say you can’t make chopped liver without chicken fat. I’ve made a satisfactory version with all chicken livers and no fat at all. Aunt Sally’s recipe calls for 3 pounds broiled calves’ liver, 10 eggs, fried onions and chicken fat. My mother-in-law Edith used to serve it with chicken fat and radishes. The version below is my personal favorite. A meat grinder really gives the proper consistency, but a food processor is second best. Just pulse it and don’t let it get too well blended.

2 medium onions, sliced
3 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound chicken livers
1 pound beef liver
4 eggs, hard boiled
1/2 raw onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onions in margarine and oil till brown. Add chicken livers (adding a little water if needed) until cooked and remove. Add beef liver and continue cooking. Grind with remaining ingredients.

Tips: For tastiest results use fresh, kosher liver. Defrosted frozen liver exudes moisture, making the finished product dry. Refrigerate cooked ingredients before grinding. Grinding warm may make it turn sour.

Melting Pot Memories
by Judy Bart Kancigor

Jan Bart Publications
Second Edition, 4th printing January 2001
Paperback, spiral binding
342 pages

$29.95 Cdn

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