Syria Supper Club at Shomrei — a Big Success!

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Eighty (80!) people attended Shomrei’s Syria Supper Club Sukkot Dinner on October 8. The dinner featured bountiful, delicious vegetarian food prepared in Shomrei’s kitchen by three Syrian cooks who have been recently resettled in the U.S.

Rabbi Greenstein welcomed everyone in the sukkah, and then we moved inside (the weather was threatening) for the meal. It was a win-win event all around; attendees enjoyed a delicious meal and the cooks displayed their cooking talents and earned some income to help support their families. (Almost all of the proceeds of the dinner went to the cooks.) Continue reading

Mesh Cafe Oct 3, 2017


From Captain Aileen Grossberg:

On a balmy early fall evening, 16 guests gathered in the gallery for a well planned meal cooked by experienced MESH chef Arden Epstein.  Our guests enjoyed a plentiful meal of cheese and crackers with grapes; fresh rolls; a green salad; homemade cod fish salad with red potatoes; roasted asparagus with Parmesan; and pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. Yum! Continue reading

Mesh Cafe June 13, 2017

Mesh June 13

From Captain Lynne Kurzweil:

Our 17 MESH guests were welcomed to Shomrei’s cool and peaceful gallery with gratitude for and in anticipation of the tasty meal awaiting them. Chef Arden Epstein and sous chef Meredith Barrintine started the meal off with hummus, crackers and grapes. Next up an aromatic treat of Bbq pulled chicken on ciabatta rolls with homemade potato and egg salad and homemade cole slaw. Dessert was watermelon and pizelles. Arden always provides a takeaway bag this time with a granola bar and a clementine. Our faithful teen helper, Teddy, an MHS student, assisted with setup, cleanup and everything in between. Staffers Adrienne and Joe were as helpful and courteous as always. Only two more weeks before we break for the summer.

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Mesh Cafe Mar 21, 2017

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From Captain Alex Kent:

24 guests showed up for MESH dinner on March 21st. Our chef was Arden Epstein who single-handedly whipped up a bountiful meal including her signature to-go bags.

Up first was cheese and crackers, with grapes. The main course consisted of a side of coleslaw, accompanied by baked cod with an herb butter sauce, green beans, parmesan rice, and bread and butter. Dessert was homemade chocolate almond bark prepared by Arden, served with strawberries and grapes. Every guest also got a bag with an apple and peanuts in the shell. As always, the meal was most appreciated. Leftovers were non-existent. Continue reading

Mesh Cafe Feb 21, 2017

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From Captain Lynne Kurzweil:

We welcomed a full house of 24 guests (plus two takeaway meals) to the MESH Cafe at Shomrei this past Tuesday evening. Chef Arden Epstein and Sous Chef Meredith Barrantine presented a tasty and nourishing meal that was heartily consumed by our grateful guests. Mixed nuts and raisins started the meal off followed by a kale and brussels sprout salad with poppyseed dressing and a dinner roll with butter. Roasted cod with lemon, buttered green beans and rice with Romano cheese was the delicious main course, followed by palmier pastry with fresh strawberries for dessert. Continue reading

Mesh Cafe Jan 31, 2017

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From Captain Fern Heinig:

Shomrei’s MESH Cafe was open on a snowy night this last night in January. We served 17 guests a hearty meal. Captain and Chief Chef Fern, with soux chefs Arden Epstein, Susan Rosenblatt, and Veronica (Montclair State) served a very appreciated home cooked four course meal consisting of Egg Salad on a bed of lettuce, hearty vegetable soup, Chicken Cacciatore (chicken thighs cooked in tomato sauce, onions, peppers, and mushrooms) with pasta and green beans, and dessert of cookies and tangerines for dessert. Continue reading

Mesh Cafe Dec 27, 2016

MESH 2016 dec 27From Captain Sarah Kravits:

On a fairly balmy (for December) evening this past Tuesday, Shomrei hosted 24 MESH guests while also housing IHN families for the week. Chef Aileen Grossberg cooked up a double batch of dinner to serve both groups, starting with a warming minestrone with parmesan and fusilli, then a mixed green salad, followed by a main course of salmon with brown sugar glaze accompanied by roasted carrots, peppers, and purple onions along with rolls. A Hanukkah treat of latkes with applesauce and sour cream rounded out the meal, which ended with a dessert of tuxedo chocolate mousse cake with fruit. Guests appreciated the Hanukkah blessings and menorah lighting and greatly enjoyed the meal. There was plenty, and some leftovers went home with our guests. Continue reading

Mesh Cafe Dec 20, 2016

meshFrom Captain Lynne Kurzweil:

Nineteen hungry guests were welcomed to the MESH Cafe at Shomrei this past Tuesday evening.  Chef Arden Epstein prepared a healthy and hearty meal beginning with mixed nuts and grapes as the appetizer.  A green salad with grape tomatoes, cucumbers and Italian dressing preceded a heartwarming beef stew chock full of meat and veggies and crisp baguette.  The meal ended on a sweet note….homemade chocolate bark with almonds and fresh strawberries. Continue reading

Mesh Cafe June 28, 2016

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From Captain Lynne Kurzweil:
We had a packed house serving 25 guests and three takeout meals. I did double duty as Captain/Chef with the able assistance of Sous Chef Arden Epstein and now seasoned Adult Helpers Erin Berman and Susan Rosenblatt. Our guests were treated to two beautifully played piano pieces courtesy of our Shomrei teen helper, Louis.

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Elegant, Hearty and a New Twist

Shomrei Cooks

march recipes cabbage saladThis month’s recipes range from a new twist on cabbage salad to a simple, but elegant dessert with a hearty side dish in between. All recipes have been tested in Shomrei’s kitchen. Don’t be afraid to put your own mark on what you cook. Printed recipes are often just a guide to a new, personal version that might become a family favorite.

If you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share in the Shomrei Cooks column, please send it to email hidden; JavaScript is required for consideration.


Cabbage Salad from Aileen Grossberg
This twist on a favorite type of side dish is colorful and versatile. It is super simple to multiply for a crowd.

Serves 4 generously


  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil like canola
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 small savoy cabbage or 1/2 red cabbage (or a mix), finely shredded
  • 1/2 c. whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. Put the sugar and vinegar in a saucepan and place on low heat.
  2. Add a drop of water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Allow to cool. Then place a large jar with the oil and soy sauce.. Shake to combine.
  4. Put the cabbage into a serving bowl and add the almonds and sesame seeds.
  5. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss to combine.


  1. Can be made ahead and keeps for several days.
  2. Other sturdy raw vegetable like shredded carrots, thinly sliced peppers, and scallions can be added to the salad.
  3. To make quick work of shredding the cabbage, use a mandolin, an indispensable kitchen tool.

march recipes potato gratinPotato and Leek Gratin with Cumin by Martha Rose Schulman via John Lasiter
Served at the Shomrei Celebrates dinner, this can also be a main dish gratin that makes a nice vegetarian meal when it’s served with either a salad or green vegetable. The cumin contributes a Mediterranean flavor to the dish.
Serves 6-8


  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, sliced and rinsed of sand
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle or a spice mill
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes or Yukon golds, peeled if using russets, scrubbed if using Yukon golds, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup, tightly packed)
  • 2 1/3 cups low-fat milk

(notes from John Lasiter:  In his testing of this recipe, John found it’s hard to keep the low-fat milk from breaking (separating) when cooking if using Yukon Gold potatoes due to their lower starch content.  So he used half-and-half instead and added a roux of flour: add 2 tablespoons of flour to the half-and-half, before adding to the dish. He also used shallots instead of leeks for their sweetness.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rub the inside of a 2-quart gratin or baking dish with the cut side of the garlic clove. Brush lightly with olive oil.
  2. Heat remaining olive oil in a wide, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add leeks.
  3. Cook, stirring often, until tender, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and stir in the crushed cumin seeds.
  5. Stir together for half a minute and remove from the heat.
  6. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the leeks mixture and half the cheese, and toss together.
  8. Arrange in the baking dish in an even layer.
  9. Pour in the milk. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  10. 10.Bake the gratin for 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes and pressing the potatoes down into the milk with the back of a spoon.
  11. At 45 minutes, remove dish from oven and again press potatoes down into liquid.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until nicely browned.
  13. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


  1. The dish can be made up to a day ahead and reheated in a medium oven.
  2. Substitutes for Gruyere include Swiss, Fontina, Gouda, mild provolone or Comte.
  3. Try using a mandolin to slice the potatoes.
  4. If leeks are hard to find, try Trader Joe’s frozen sliced leeks.


march recipes cappucchino mousseChocolate Cappuccino Mousse from Arden Epstein
Serves 4-6


  • 2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 5 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Dissolve coffee in hot water in a saucepan and add the milk, cocoa and butter.
  2. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until blended.
  3. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. Beat cream and cinnamon until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture into the cocoa mixture, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
  5. Spoon into dessert dishes and top with additional whipped cream if desired.


  1. This is a very forgiving recipe.  You can up the milk and whipped cream to stretch the recipe.  Be sure to add extra flavorings if you do.
  2. Add a garnish of shaved chocolate or chocolate covered coffee beans and a crisp cookie or a side of berries for an enticing dessert.
  3. For extra elegance, serve in chocolate cups made by painting the inside of cupcake liners with melted semi-sweet baking chocolate (4 ounces melted with 1 T shortening). Refrigerate. When firm, remove the liners and fill cups with mousse.