Tag Archives: Jacques Pepin

Kosher Cook Claims Prize in 5th Annual Manischewitz Cook-Off

Stuart Davis, a father from Cherry Hill, NJ, was the big winner at the 5th Annual Manischewitz Cook-off last month, which the company sponsors to get more people cooking with kosher food products.

Famed French chef (and Julia Child culinary co-conspirator) Jacques Pepin judged the competition.

Davis’s winning recipe is a donburi, which is a Japanese food loosely translated to mean a “rice bowl dish.” It typically consists of meat, poultry, or vegetables served over rice.

Davis is a father of four who speaks fluent Japanese and teaches a “Digesting Hebrew” class at Temple Beth Shalom in Cherry Hill. For his award-winning recipe, Davis received $25,000, including cash and GE appliances.

Of the five finalists, three are not Jewish. One of the finalists became familiar with kosher food after dealing with Celiac disease, which is best managed with a dairy- and gluten-free diet.

The cook-off is a great way to get people thinking about food, challenging their assumptions, blending flavors and cultural influences, trying new things and – hopefully – learning about more about the intersection of food, religion and culture.

With Passover around the corner, now is a great time to do a little research on kosher food and maybe try a new recipe or two.

Check out Davis’s winning recipe for chicken and egg donburi.

For more recipes and a Kid’s Corner with games for children to play, visit the Manischewitz website.

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French Food Made Fun

French food has always struck me as the belle-mere (mother-in-law) of cuisine.

Like a mother-in-law, she has her own, iron-clad way of doing things; she is a little disdainful of time-saving tricks; she is convinced that old-fashioned hard work is good for everyone; she insists that you try everything – even aspic and bone marrow – and dares to look triumphant when you admit that it’s good.

She is challenging; she forces you to acquire new skills and step outside your comfort zone; and – if you succeed – she ultimately rewards you.

I’m not a French chef and I don’t aspire to be one.

I’m a home cook drawn to exotic foods from around the world. I live for blow-your-head-off spiciness. I’m undisciplined and a little lazy. I like near-instant gratification. Although I enjoy watching Julia and Jacques and reading their books, I never cook their recipes. I learned from Julie Powell’s lesson – I don’t need to live it.

But still, when I had a chance to take a French cooking class (one night only!) I thought the belle-mere and I should get to know each other a little bit better.

Although I can’t pretend to have really cooked any of these dishes, I did enjoy watching the real chefs pull it together. And – armed with lots of information on how to “cheat” my way to close-enough, I might even prepare some of these dishes on my own.

The sous-chefs pry the chestnut meat from the shell

Chestnut Soup with Madeira

I’ve never really eaten chestnuts before. Sure, I sing the song during Christmas but that’s about it. So my expectations were pretty low when I saw this soup on our to-do list.

The other students and I watched as the sous-chefs painstakingly picked apart roasted chestnuts to get enough for soup for 25.

As they slit into the shiny (and slippery) roasted chestnuts with extremely sharp knives, I closely examined the cut I had earned just a few days before trying to slice open an English muffin.

I knew – no matter how fantastic this soup was, and it was fantastic – that I would never prepare it myself. I just don’t have good enough insurance (or hand-eye coordination). But the chef assured me that frozen chestnuts or canned chestnuts would produce roughly the same result.

My own little cup of yum

Salade Nicoise

I really like Salade Nicoise and I have to say I was embarrassingly excited to make the vinaigrette for this dish. I would definitely make this for my family.

Coq au Vin

This classic dish was delicious and looked relatively easy to make (on the French scale, at least). I really loved the mushrooms and pearl onions we sauteed in bacon fat as a side dish.

Pot au Feu

As good as it was, I will not be making pot au feu for the next big family get-together. Too many “interesting” ingredients such as bones and oxtail. But I would definitely order it in a restaurant!

Fig Clafoutis

After this feast, who would still have room for dessert? It turns out, I did. By the way, I think Clafoutis would be a great name for a child of a celebrity.

By the end of the night I had reached an agreement with the belle-mere. All that was left was the bon digestion!

 

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