Esther Fest!!

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by

A blog post by Program Manager Rachel Cylus. Photos by Will Kirk.

“If you’ve got latkes, sour cream and applesauce, of course it’s gonna be great!”  – Esther Weiner

These are the words I overheard Esther use to describe the success of last night’s Esther Fest program.  But, of course all of us present know what made Esther Fest the place to be last night… our very own Esther Weiner, gift shop manager, latke chef extraordinaire and all around amazing person.  Billed as “the most hilarious human on earth,” Esther, whose repertoire of jokes included classics about the Catskills and Borscht Belt as well as anecdotes from her own life, never disappoints.  Even her husband, Morty, told a joke!  It was certainly a family affair – Esther had the whole room smiling and laughing as she and her granddaughters fried up delicious latkes in honor of Chanukah.

This year as part of a fun twist, Esther invited audience participation, giving prizes to the Brews & Schmooze young adult audience members who shared Chanukah memories or could recount the facts of the epic battle commemorated during the holiday.  Prizes included dreidels, chocolate gelt, and a car mezuzah.  Car mezuzahs (available for purchase in the JMM gift shop) are just like the traditional mezuzahs affixed to doorposts, except they contain the traveler’s prayer and can be anchored to the inside of a car.  And, as Esther informed us, they have saved her from many a close call.  The grand prize winner was Jennie Gates Beckman for her rendition of the song, “I am a Latke.”

If you missed the program, you can catch a recording of Esther making latkes with WYPR’s Aaron Hankin tonight at 7:40pm and tomorrow, December 8th at 1:40pm.  As promised last night, below you will find the recipe for Esther’s famous latkes:

Potato Latkes

4 medium potatoes, peeled, slice 1 potato in quarters lengthwise, cut 3 in cubes for your processor, keep in cold water

2ggs

1 medium sweet onion – cut up

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sugar (if potatoes taste slightly bitter)

3 tblsp flour

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Grate one potato with the grater blade in food processor, put in bowl, put the cubed potatoes in processor and whirl with cutting blade until just chopped, not too fine.  Repeat until all the potatoes are grated.  If watery, place potatoes in strainer and then in your mixing bowl.

Put eggs and onion in blender; whirl to combine, do not leave pieces of onion intact.  Add to that potatoes in the bowl.

Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, baking soda and flour to thicken the batter slightly.

Heat oil in large skillet (or two smaller ones) until a drop of water tells you that oil is hot enough, it will bounce around the oil.  Drop and drag one tblsp potato mixture for each pancake.  The “dragging” with your spoon will leave little “strings” of potato to crisp and make the latkes a little thinner.

Fry crisp and golden brown on all sides.

Wishing you a happy Chanukah from everyone here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

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Once Upon a Time…02.11.2011

Posted on October 11th, 2011 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. Click here to see the most recent photo on their website. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or jzink@jewishmuseummd.org.

Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times: February 11, 2011

PastPerfect Accession #: 1995.128.079d.24

Status: Louis Brenner celebrating his 100th birthday! Identified! Back Row L-R:  1. Herbert Shannon 2. Sandra Shannon 3. Bessie Hoffman 4. Elja Hoffman 5. Marcy Hoffman 6. Nelson Hoffman Front Row L-R: 1. Louis Rosenthal 2. unidentified 3. Merla Brenner 4. Louis Brenner

Special Thanks: Beatty Saettle, Marcy Hoffman, Ira Albert, Sandra Shannon

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“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s”

Posted on October 2nd, 2011 by

A blog post by associate director Anita Kassof.

How many of us remember that famous advertising slogan for Levy’s rye bread? The fact of the matter is, Levy’s had it right with that 1960s ad campaign; Jewish and kosher-style food have wide appeal. Think matzoh ball soup, bagels and lox, corned beef on rye, and no matter what your background, your mouth starts watering. Statistics bear out the claim. According to Sue Fishkoff, author of Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority (2010), the majority of people who buy kosher food products aren’t even Jewish. 

To honor the New Year—and to prove my point that great Jewish recipes are great for everyone—I share below a favorite recipe for “Jewish Apple Cake,” which I make every Rosh Hashanah as a sweet way to welcome the New Year. I urge you to try it out and see what you think. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Image via Flickr.

The recipe is adapted from Covenant’s Still Cookin’ 50th Anniversary Edition (1997), which I received as a thank you gift after I addressed the Covenent Guild many years back. Founded in 1947, the Covenant Guild is a women’s philanthropic group that raises funds for various organizations in theBaltimore area.

Whatever your own holiday food traditions and however you observe Rosh Hashanah—even if you don’t observe it at all—may the coming months be filled with sweetness for you and your families.

4 eggs

2 1/2 c. sugar, divided

½ c. cinnamon

3 c. flour

3 Tbsp. baking powder

2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. neutral oil (I use canola)

½ c. freshly squeezed orange juice

5 medium apples (I like to use tart ones)

3/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix cinnamon and ½ cup sugar.

Peel the apples, cut them into thin slices, and toss them with about a tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside.

Sift the remainder of the sugar, flour, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add oil and eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed as you go. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. The batter will be very thick and goopy.

Coat a large pan or pans with oil or cooking spray, coat with flour, and shake off excess. I have used two round cake pans, or one 9×13 inch pan.

Layer batter and apples, ending with apples, which you should press down into the batter. Use all the syrupy liquid that the apples have released. You can even swirl it on top after you’re done layering things. The cake will be pretty messy and gooey but, trust me, it turns out fine—super moist and not too sweet. Top with cinnamon sugar mixture and chopped nuts.

Bake for about 1 hour, testing after first 30 minutes, especially if you are using two smaller pans.

The original recipe says you can invert the cake on a platter after it has cooled, but I’ve never been able to do that. Never mind—even served straight out of the pan, it’s delicious!

 

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