Kosher Baked Beans and "Bacon"


It’s really cold outside.

Really cold.

And yesterday there was a snow squall. Cold, snowy and blowy with no visibility for about a half hour.

I can’t complain though. It’s MUCH colder in the midwest.

Also my house is nice and warm and toasty.

And I have these baked beans for dinner. Real, authentic Boston baked beans with bacon. Ok, kosher bacon. There are many brands to choose from, but I used Abeles & Heymann’s newish chunk beef bacon because Seth Leavitt, A&H owner, gave me a piece of it a while ago. He said “go experiment.” Which I did. And out came these fabulous beans.

Dinner. Add a green vegetable.

Just like in Colonial times (minus the green vegetable).

Btw, this is a good dish for Superbowl parties — by itself, but it’s also a nice accompaniment to chicken wings.

Kosher Baked Beans and “Bacon”

  • 1 pound dried navy or great northern beans

  • water

  • 6 ounces kosher bacon, cut into chunks

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup molasses

  • 4 whole cloves

  • 2 teaspoons powdered mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans soak for one hour. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Cover the beans again with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, cover the beans with water and let them soak for at least 8 hours.) Drain. Place the beans in a casserole. Add the bacon, onion, ketchup, honey, molasses, cloves, mustard and salt and mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Stir in 3 cups water. Pour the mixture over the bean mixture. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven. Set the temperature at 300 degrees and cook the beans at least 4 hours, or until they are tender, stirring them occasionally and adding water, if necessary to keep the beans moist. 

 Makes 8 servings

Baked Beans. Real American Food for the 4th.


I was thinking about which "real American" foods to serve on July 4th. Not just the usual icons: burgers, apple pie, lemonade. I wanted something that represented the "mongrels" that we are: Americans may be tribal in some ways, but we are also an odd mix-and-blend of a zillion cultures.

And so is American food.

For example, some say that Baked Beans are originally from France -- some sort of easy version of cassoulet. But the countries where they eat baked beans the most are English speaking: England, Ireland, Canada and Australia.

And yet ... baked beans are also a favorite in Holland and Hong Kong.

And of course beans themselves are native to South America, so who knows?

The original Puritan colonists in New England made baked beans often and for the same reason as observant Jews make cholent -- the dish cooks slowly in a pot so there's no work to be done during the Sabbath. Baked beans have been popular ever since, and particularly so after the canned versions first came along at the turn of the 20th century. 

Green labelled Heinz Vegetarian baked beans were a standard item at my house when I was a kid.

So, baked beans it is.

I like making my own because when they're homemade I can season the beans the way I like, make them spicy or not, use more or less sugar (or sugar substitutes such as honey or maple syrup), make them vegetarian or with meat.

I recently had a couple of slices of flanken left over, so I decided to use them in a new recipe.

My husband usually likes my cooking and there are some dishes he thinks are so good he brags to people about them. Like my recipe for Carrot Soup with Harissa and Coconut.

These beans? He told me several times that they are among the best foods he has ever tasted. In fact, one night he only had baked beans (and a few of the chunks of flanken in them) for dinner. 

So, this recipe is a yes for July 4th.

Baked beans take time. But you can make them several days ahead. They last for a week in the fridge. If you don't have flanken you can use chuck, smoked turkey or some kind of sausage.


Baked Beans for the Fourth of July

  • 1 pound dried navy or great northern beans
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6-8 ounces beef chuck or flanken , cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard

Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans soak for one hour. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Cover the beans again with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, cover the beans with water and let them soak for at least 8 hours.) Drain the beans and place them in an oven-proof casserole. While the beans are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the meat and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning the pieces occasionally, until they are browned. Remove the meat from the pan and add to the beans. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add to the drained beans and meat. Place the brown sugar, honey, ketchup, salt and mustard in a bowl and mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Stir in 2-1/2 cups water. Pour the mixture over the beans and meat. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven. Set the temperature at 300 degrees and cook the beans at least 5 hours, or until they are tender.

Makes 8 servings

Short Ribs with Barbecue Gravy


Lots of people find January a big disappointment. It can be cold and dreary and sometimes seems like a letdown after months of holidays and celebrating.

But the food is good.

I like to call January cuisine. Filling, nourishing, comforting stuff.

Like short ribs.


Short Ribs with Barbecue Sauce

  • 5-6 pounds beef short ribs 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chile pepper
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup ketchup 
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup beer or ale
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dry the surface of the meat with paper towels. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the meat, turning the pieces to brown them, for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned. (If the oil seems too dark, discard it, wipe the pan and add 2 fresh tablespoons vegetable oil.) Remove the meat and set it aside. Add the onions, garlic, chili pepper, carrots and celery to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the ketchup. Pour in the stock, beer, cider vinegar and soy sauce and stir the ingredients. Stir in the brown sugar. Return the meat to the pan and spoon some of the sauce over them. Place the thyme sprigs and bay leaf in the liquid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook at a bare simmer for about 4 hours or until the meat is fork tender (or place in the oven at 225 degrees).

Makes 6-8 servings


Plain Old Meatloaf


Everyone piles on poor January like it's some cranky old disciplinarian. Like it's January's fault for being on the calendar when it's often cold and gloomy. Like it's January's fault that  after months of indulgence in food, gifts and various and sundry celebrations, we have to get back to some sort of normal.

But we must get back to some sort of normal of course, and we do. In January we face, recognize and take responsibility for our gluttony. It's like some mid-winter al cheyt.

So, on January's menu: simple, easy, homey, plain-old food. 

Frankly, after the Hallowe'en candy and Thanksgiving turkey with stuffing and Hanukkah latkes and doughnuts and New Year's brunch I am ready to make a fresh start. Ready for food like meatloaf.

Actually, that doesn't seem like punishment to me. Just a bit of down home, back-to-basics. I like that.

Here's my simple go-to version.

Plain Old Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup soft fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the meats in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup of the chili sauce, soy sauce, eggs, onion, garlic, thyme and some salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and place the mixture into a lightly oiled 9”x5” loaf pan. Spread the remaining chili sauce over the surface. Bake for about one hour or until the sides of the meat come away from the pan. 

Makes 6-8 servings

Chicken Fried Steak


Several years ago my daughter Gillian and I drove from Chicago through some of the border states on our way back home to Connecticut.

We had a grand old time that included a (tasting) tour of the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

We also heard Grandpa Jones sing at the Grand Ole' Opry in Nashville.

One of the most astonishing things we witnessed were the thousands of people Christmas shopping in July in the malls in Gatlinburg (with motel accommodations priced at $39/night so you could shop till you dropped for more than one day).

Slowly we made our way through the magnificent Great Smoky Mountains. That was truly glorious.

And, last but not least, we saw -- everywhere we looked -- a lot of people eating chicken fried steak.

For breakfast!

Chicken fried steak for breakfast!

I love understanding local cuisine and sometimes even trying it. Somehow chicken fried steak smothered with gravy and accompanied by mashed potatoes and biscuits for breakfast seemed a bit much.

But that didn't stop me from trying it at home.

For dinner, of course.

Chicken fried steak, made properly (in the border states), is made with round steak. I substituted skirt steak. Anyone who has eaten skirt steak understands it can be tough, but you can pound it to make it more tender.

Or, you can use rib steak, but I think that's a waste for this particular recipe because, really, this kind of dish is about the fried, not the fabulous beef. If you do use rib steak though, be sure to slice it thin.

We didn't mind the chewiness of the skirt steak. Like fried veal or chicken cutlet, the outside is crispy and the inside moist and flavorful. The gravy is an indulgence.

Glad I tried it, but I wouldn't serve this for breakfast!

Chicken Fried Steak

  • 2 pounds skirt steak, approximately
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 teaspoons water, beaten together
  • vegetable oil
  • use 2 tablespoons of the seasoned flour for gravy
  • 1-1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup soy or rice milk (or more chicken stock)

Preheat the oven to warm. Cut the meat into smaller portions and set aside. In a dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper and salt and whisk the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. In a bowl, beat the egg and water together until well combined. Remove 3 tablespoons of the seasoned flour and set it aside separately. Press each portion of meat in the seasoned flour, coating the surface completely. Coat the meat portions with the egg, then coat again with more of the seasoned flour. Heat about 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot enough to make a bread crumb sizzle immediately. Fry the meat portions a few at a time, leaving plenty of space in the pan, for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy. Drain on paper towels and continue with the remaining meat. As the portions are cooked, place them on a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. When all the meat is cooked, discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the reserved seasoned flour and whisk into the fat, cooking over low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the stock and whisk until a smooth, thickened sauce has formed. Pour in the milk and whisk into the sauce. Remove the steaks to plates and serve covered with some of the gravy.

Makes 4 servings

Philly Cheese Steak, the Kosher way

Philadelphia. City of Brotherly Love. So named (from the Greek words "philos" meaning love and "adelphos" meaning brother) because the city's founder, William Penn, wanted the place to be a refuge from religious persecution. 

I wonder what Penn might think of that today, what with this year's contentious election and the Democratic National Convention at hand in the city.

But, current times aside, Philadelphia has a lovely history.

Home of the Liberty Bell. And Independence Hall, where the founding fathers debated (and adopted) the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution.

Once the temporary capital of the United States while the newly minted America waited for the District of Columbia to be built.

And, among the more mundane of matters, home of the Philly Cheese Steak.

Philly Cheese Steak.

I have to say, I've been to Philadelphia several times and never ate one.

But thoughts of the city and its famous hoagie (hero sandwich, sub, whatever others may call it) got me to think about trying one at home.


I looked at lots of recipes and saw that they called for different cuts of beef, cut into strips. I decided on skirt steak because it's so juicy and flavorful.

I also noticed that the cheese could be cheddar or American or provolone and even -- OY -- cheese whiz. 

I opted for provolone (non-dairy, soy-based from Daiya Foods) because it has such a magnificent tang to it.

Some recipes called for sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables in addition to the more usual onions and red bell pepper. I decided not to.

In the end -- magnifico!!

Does it taste the way a Philly Cheese Steak is supposed to? 

I have no clue.

All I know is that it tasted good. Very good.

And so, in honor of Philadelphia's few days in the sun again -- my recipe for Philly Cheese Steak.


Kosher Philly Cheese Steak

  • 8 ounces skirt steak, semi-frozen
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into narrow strips
  • 2 hoagie rolls
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices Daiya soy “provolone style cheese”

Cut the beef into thin slices against the grain. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Add the meat to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Cut the rolls in half. Move the meat and vegetables to one side of the pan (or temporarily spoon into a plate) and place the 4 pieces of roll, cut side down in the pan. Cook for a minute or so, to lightly toast the rolls. Turn the rolls cut side up. Using equal quantities, place equal quantities of meat and vegetables on each of the two roll bottoms. Top with equal amounts of the soy cheese. Cover with the tops of the rolls. Turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and cook for a minute or so or until the cheese has melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Burnt Ends! Let the Grilling Begin

I'm not a big brisket fan. Not when it's braised and swimming in liquid anyway, and I realize that it is an almost heretical thing for a Jewish woman to admit. But there it is.

However -- SouthWest style brisket? With barbecue sauce and dark, crusty burnt ends?

Oh yes! Love that. And now that grilling season has arrived (at least here in Connecticut), I can have some!

Briskets were on sale recently at Fairway supermarket, so I bought a whole, gigantic piece and cooked it with a new recipe for barbecue sauce.

SO good. 


The instructions on how to cook brisket before grilling it are here.

Here's the recipe for the barbecue sauce. Keep slathering it on the meat. If you make a smaller hunk, you can keep the rest of the sauce in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Applesauce and Tomato Barbecue Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chili pepper and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the tomato sauce, apple sauce, honey, cider vinegar, soy sauce and chili powder and stir until the ingredients are well blended. Simmer the sauce for 25-30 minutes, or until thickened.

Makes about 2-1/2 cups




Soup for When you are Sick

Everyone knows you're supposed to have chicken soup when you're sick. 

However, recently, when I had a cold that lingered and lingered and really needed soup I didn't feel like going out to buy a chicken. Or peel carrots. Or rinse the fresh dill.

I didn't feel like doing much of anything frankly, but I did want homemade soup.

So I made some from what I had in the house.

It was an amazing dish. Hearty, tasty, nourishing. Also EASY. 

I did feel much better the next day.

The recipe is extremely forgiving, so here it is with a bunch of ways you can vary the recipe depending on what you have in your house.

Freeze some for the next time you don't feel great and need some soup. Or want some wonderful, thick and filling dish for dinner.

Soup for When you are Sick

  • 3-4 meaty marrow bones
  • water
  • one package of bean soup mix or vegetable soup mix (I used Manischewitz but any is fine)
  • one large onion, chopped or sliced
  • one cup of split peas (green or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup any whole grain (such as farro, barley, wheatberries, kamut)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bones in a pot, cover with water (about 8-10 cups) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and skim the stuff that comes to the top for about 10 minutes. Add the whole package of soup mix, the onion, split peas, lentils and whole grain, plus salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover the pan and simmer for hours, stirring occasionally, until the dried vegetables are very soft. I sometimes add more water if the soup is too thick.


  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4-6 soaked and chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, coarsely cut
  • Frozen corn kernels and/or lima beans (add about 1/2 hour before soup is done)
  • Whatever else you like (I sometimes add chicken bones in addition to meat bones)

Makes about 6 servings of soup (you have to fight over the bones or make it with 6 bones)


The Brisket


Yesterday I wrote about the un-brisket. You know, why I usually don't make brisket for the holidays.

But I do make brisket on occasion and I realize it is THE specialty for Rosh Hashanah.

And I also know that no matter how many recipes there are out there for brisket, there are always thousands of people wanting more. Not just recipes, but information on how to make brisket so that your family wants it again and remembers your brisket as the ultimate dinner.

So here's what you might want to do: not only learn a good recipe, but also get instruction from the world's premiere kosher cookbook author: Jamie Geller.

Here's how: Jamie is giving video courses called HOME in which she and other culinary experts will teach you the best methods and tips for making the best brisket.

There are other courses too. Challah and Do-it-Yourself Rosh Hashanah (with recipes PLUS crafts).

You can get one or get them all. The price is $19.99/course.

But take a look yourself, watch the trailer and get the skills, the tools, the encouragement and confidence you need to cook it right.

Here's where: HOME by Jamie Geller.


I don't have a lot of go-to meals. I like to mix things up, change recipes, add a new ingredient or change a seasoning or try a different sauce and so on.

But when I'm in a hurry or too busy to cook I make something quick and simple, usually something I've done dozens of times. One of my favorite go-to quickie recipes is: beef ribs. I preheat the grill or broiler, sprinkle the ribs with salt, pepper and garlic and that's that. Dinner (add a vegetable or salad or maybe some cut up avocado/tomato) is done.

Before last week I had never made beef ribs with a rub. I know you can buy all sorts of rubs and marinades but I wanted to try my hand at it so I made my own rub mixture. Instead of my usual -- grill the meat for 10-12 minutes -- I let them cook ever so slowly, tightly wrapped in foil, for 3 hours, until they were as soft as .... fill this in for yourself. Then I quickly grilled them until the surfaces were crispy.

Oh my, dinner was awesome. I will make this again.

And by the way, I poured the pan juices into a jar, put it in the refrigerator for a few days, then scooped the fat that rose to the top and used the juices to baste a chicken. So with this rub we got double the flavor, fun and good food.


Broiled/Grilled Beef Ribs with Spicy Rib Rub

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 pounds beef ribs

Combine the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, chipotle and cayenne in a bowl and whisk to blend the seasonings evenly. Add the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture all over the ribs. Refrigerate the ribs for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped ribs on a cookie sheet. Bake for 3 hours. Remove the package from the oven. Remove the ribs from the package (there will be pan fluids*).

To broil: preheat the oven broiler. Place the ribs on a cookie sheet. Broil for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy.

To grill: preheat an outdoor grill. Place ribs directly on the grids and grill for about 3 minutes per side or until crispy.

Makes 4 servings

*Pour the pan fluids into a jar, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the fat rises to the top. Remove and discard the fat. Use the fluids as a basting sauce for beef or chicken.