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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Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippour and….Kreplach?

Posted on August 28th, 2012 by

A blog post by Gift Shop Manager Esther Weiner.

Did I say kreplach? In the same breath as the High Holidays? Yes, I did…and since you asked, I’ll tell you why. Since I was a child my mother, Pearl Printz, served her delicious golden chicken soup every Friday night, always with her home-made noodles. Of course for the high holidays, kreplach floated in the soup, hiding between the noodles. It was kind of a tradition that kreplach and Rosh Hashanah were a team. When I got married and moved to Baltimore, my mother-in-law, Fannie Weiner, made kreplach, they too were delicious, and I was hooked on learning how to put them together.

Well, after trial and error I came up with my own recipe and now my family will not sit down to the table unless they know that kreplach will come with the chicken soup! So my friends who follow blogs, I am stuck…but, I must admit, happily so.  Even though it’s a big job, I love making kreplach. I make what seems like tons of them so that they last through the holidays, the extras hidden in my freezer, to surface on Shabbat dinners with friends and family (…”what, kreplach?”) and the bounty continues to be enjoyed through the year, as long as they last.

Definition of kreplach:  Small dough squares, filled with a mixture of seasoned cooked meat, served with a soup, usually chicken soup, although they have been known to float in vegetable soup as well.

eta:

KREPLACH

(dough squares filled with meat), makes approximately 150 pieces

 DOUGH

Use a food processor, it’s easier. Into the processor bowl put:

3 cups regular flour

3 eggs

1 tsp salt

Scant ¼ cup warm water

PROCESS all of the above until dough forms a ball. If necessary add a bit more water to the machine as it processes. Stopping the motor to push down the dough.

REMOVE the dough, knead on a board or clean countertop until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

 

FILLING

Any combination of cooked chicken and beef, or chicken and veal or beef and veal. Meat can be cooked in a soup, removing the cooked meat when cool and cut into small pieces. There should be about 1 ½ lbs of cooked meat. Saute a large onion (or 2 medium size onions) in oil together with minced 4-5 pieces garlic until golden. Grind the meat together with the onions (they should be ground twice otherwise the meat could be chunky). To the ground meat mixture add 2 or 3 eggs (depending on your amount of meat), about 3 tblsp fine bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.

 

ROLL OUT DOUGH

Cut off a small piece of dough, roll out as fine as possible, dough should be quite thin. Cut into strips then into 2” squares, fill with a half tsp. of meat mixture, fold to form a triangle, close the ends by pressing them tight. Drop the filled triangles into a pot of simmering lightly salted water, cook for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl, lightly sprinkle with oil. Continue until all the meat is used.

NOTE:  kreplach will freeze well in strong plastic bags.

 

 

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SHOPPING AT THE AMERICAN CRAFT COUNCIL SHOW

Posted on February 22nd, 2012 by

Like two kids in a candy shoppe, Karen Falk, Curator at the JMM, and I, Esther Weiner, the Shop Manager, took the Baltimore Free Bus, the Circulator, to the Baltimore Convention Center for the renowned ACC show. This is a show populated with artists from all over the United States, exhibiting their own crafts ranging from hand-loomed scarves to hand-woven jackets to magnificent jewelry, both gold and silver, to amazing blown glass decorative and useful pieces.

We oohed and ahhed our way down one aisle and another, stopping to look at all the booths, trying to decide if this was something that we would want to have in our own Museum Shop. Believe me, if I tell you that it’s a challenge, it is. You want to have all the candy in your own store…all the goodies.

And yes, we found something to bring to the customers and visitors to the JMM: an exquisite glass seder plate with perfectly sized dishes for each of the symbolic seder foods! We want the visitor to the JMM Museum Shop to feel just as good as we did in the ACC show by bringing back as many of the “candy pieces” as possible for our visitors to enjoy. And yes, we hope they will take something home with them!

So…do come to the JMM…do plan on visiting the Museum Shop…let us hear from you!

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