But we all have to feed ourselves and our families, and, in times of stress, food seems to become more important. What we put on our tables is within our control when much of the world outside our front doors is not.
For inspiration,there are lots of cooking webinars available now if you have the time to watch them. Rob Eshman, The Forward’s national editor, hosts a quarantine Shabbat cooking show on Fridays. Rob’s from California and has artichokes growing in his front yard. So you can imagine the kinds of food he cooks. The webinar is very leisurely but the recipe is on The Forward’s website. Sign up at: forward.com
Tiffany Shlain hosts a challah baking webinar on Friday at 10 a.m.(1 p.m. EDT). Each Zoom session has a special guest who puts his or her twist on a basic challah recipe. The challah is made in real time so it isn’t baked until it’s fully risen several hours later. Sign up at: 24sixlife.com
Lastly for those who love food history, YIVO is running a free self-paced course called A Seat at the Table: a journey into Jewish food.” The website describes it as “an exploration into the heart of Jewish food, with an emphasis on the Ashkenazi table. This course features hundreds of never-before-seen archival objects, lectures by leading scholars, and video demonstrations of your favorite Jewish recipes by renowned chefs.” Sign up at YIVO.org
If you want to get started immediately, here are some quick-to-make tasty dishes that are flexible, reheat well and should fit into everyone’s diet. Don’t be afraid of adding your own touches or substituting similar ingredients. Shopping these days can sometimes be difficult with ingredients missing from the produce or grocery shelves.
Stuffed cabbage is a comfort food for many. It reminds us of our grandmothers and mothers. But it is labor intensive and a little tricky. The following version has all the elements of stuffed cabbage without the hassle.
11/2 pounds of ground meat (chicken turkey, beef or a combination)
1 T oil
1 large onion sliced
1 clove garlic, minced or to taste
1/2 c quick cooking rice
1 small cabbage, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 8o-z can tomato sauce
1 T sugar
2 T cider vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 T minced ginger (optional)
1/2 c.raisins (optional)
parsley for garnish
- Heat oil in skillet. Add ground meat and onion. Cook until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender
- Add rice and garlic to meat mixture and continue cooking about another minute.
- Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar or lemon juice, pepper, salt, and ginger, if using.
- Add chopped cabbage and water and bring to a boil.
- Cover and place in a 300 degree oven for 2-3 hours or slow cooker for 6-7 hours on low.
- Serve with crusty rolls.
Notes: This can easily be doubled. If there is too much liquid, add some more instant rice and simmer until the rice is done. For sweeter cabbage, add a little brown sugar and/or raisins
Another quick dish that’s almost a meal in itself is the following southern style dish. Both Gumbo and Jambalaya use approximately the same ingredients. However, gumbo is more soup-like, while jambalaya is more like a casserole.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-in cubes
4-6 oz. smoked sausage, cut in 1” pieces
1 T oil
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 c. onion, chopped
2 c. celery, chopped
1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 c. long grain rice
- Saute chicken and sausage for about 3 minutes in a little oil.
- Add onion and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes more.
- Stir in rest of ingredients except rice.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add rice, cover and cook about 20-25 minutes until rice is done.
Notes: Use tomatoes with green chiles for extra punch. Creole seasoning can be used instead of Cajun. Other vegetables could be added although they are not traditional.
Can also be cooked in a slow cooker on low for about 6 hours.
For extra zip in almost any thing you make, try this super-simple condiment. They are great with tacos.
1 medium red onion
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1/1.2 tsp. kosher salt
- Halve and thinly slice onion. A mandolin does this evenly and quickly.
- Place in heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat; stir until sugar and salt dissolve .
- Pour over onions.
- Cool to room temperature and cover.
- Refrigerate overnight or let sit for an hour at room temperature to develop the flavors.
- Refrigerate up to one week.
Notes: Almost anything can be quick pickled.Try green beans or asparagus. Add appropriate herbs and make sure that the vegetables are submerged.