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In the Spotlight

Co-host Chef Jeff Nathan

We would like to share some of the highlights of KosherEye's 90 minute Passover Twitter Party with Co-host Chef Jeff Nathan. And yes, he did send us the recipes requested by several Tweeters!
(Taken directly from Twitter conversation with a few corrections for clarity)

CJN = Chef Jeff Nathan
T      = Tweeters

The Passover Twitter Party started with Chef Jeff's tweet "Let's discuss Matzoh Balls..."  Many questions flew back and forth regarding the "how/what/why" of matzoh balls.

  • CJN: And yes, this year at our seders we're serving the same maztzo balls that I beat Bobby Flay with!
  • A little extra chicken fat can't hurt either :)
  • Yes, I do skim the "shmaltz"
  • yes, that's my secret ingredient :). I use 1/2 oil and 1/2 chix fat
  • the easiest way to get schmaltz is to skim it off your chicken soup.
  • I cook my Matzoh Balls in half water and half soup
  • I always cook them ahead and let them sit in broth
  • back to Matzoh Balls....don't overwork batter
  • yes, I love fresh herbs in my Matzoh Balls also cracked black pepper
  • I use a meat based soup for my matzo ball, but a light veggie broth will be good to use
  • most recipes call for 20 minutes... I simmer for 40! (for "sinker" matzoh balls)
  • we'll be happy to share the recipe later, but the trick is in how long you simmer them. (Chef Jeff Nathan's recipe for "Sinker" Matzo Balls)

T:  Questions on Haroset
CJN:  my favorite is my mango haroset... but my wife prefers her Kumquat Haroset

  • of course we do the old fashioned with apples and red wine at the Abigael's seders. our quests love the traditionals
  • sure! we'll send the kumquat haroset recipe later
  • T: I like Quinoa
    CJN: boil it like any other grain until it's tender than season while warm

    • I have a great quinoa tabouli recipe in my first cookbook
    • cook quinoa like any other grain... in rapidly boiling salted water. season while still warm

    T: Questions for Seder's at Abigael's
    CJN: the Seders at Abigael's are private and communal with a chabad rabbi. great stories!

    T: Question: What does his family like for breakfast
    CJN: our favorite breakfast is to do an Italian fritatta, topped with honey

    T:  Cookbook Question
    CJN: new cookbook out next year... with lots of Passover dishes!

    • my favorite recipe in the cookbook for Passover is the Gefilte Fish Terrine

    T: Questions on Desserts
    CJN: Choc Mousse is my fav. and easy dessert for Passover

    • besides fresh fruits for dessert, sorbets are really refreshing too
    • If you like paarfaits, try my Blueberry Lemon Parfait... fabulous and yes, for passover
    • blueberry syrup, lemon curd, whipped cream and macaroons

    CJN: a great fish for Passover is garlic crusted salmon and herb crusted sea bass

    T:  Questions on Brisket
    CJN: cook brisket long and slow

    • brisket recipes abound! my favorities are with apple cider or my Latin one with chimichuri
    • keep the brisket moist and covered and season it in a theme... latin, asian, southwestern...
    • brisket roasted at 325 F until cooked through... depends on brisket weight for timing

     T: Questions on Olive Oil

    • my favorite is the capenzana from tuscany, but I belong to the olive oil of the month club, so I try new ones all the time
    • I love all olive oils, Israel, Spain, Australia etc.

    CJN: I live using citrus juice instead of salt for all my cooking

    CJN: citrus reacts on the tongue the same as salt, so squeeze before you shake if you want to cut down on sodium

    T: Questions on Kugels
    CJN: I love my cauliflower and almond kugel, and always add herbs to potato kugel. also broccoli rable and garlic kugel... delish!

    T: Favorite family recipe
    CJN: matzo brie with fried salami is our favorite family recipe... likely because we do it on our day off!

    T: "Breading" for Fried Chicken
    CJN: best breading for P. would be equal parts matzo meal w/ matzo farfel, plus herbs and seasonings

    • I mix the farfel with matzo meal. the farfel gives it texture, like panko
    • I use it for chix fingers....the kids love it

     T: Kitchen Tips
    CJN: make sure your knives are sharp before the holiday!

    • sharp knives sure does work wonders in the kitchen
    • There are so many mandolins to use. I love them
    • or invest in a small multi chopper or inexpesive mandolin or food slicer/ dicer/ chopper
    • I have lots of quick tips on U tube, several that are good for passover. search for jeff nathan quick tips

    T: Tip for boiling and peeling a lot of eggs
    CJN: I always add vinegar to the water

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    Welcome to our Twitter Party

    Chef Jeff NathanAs chef-host of public television’s New Jewish Cuisine, an international gourmet kosher cooking series, Jeff Nathan reaches four countries and is translated into three languages. He has authored two cookbooks, Adventures in Jewish Cooking and Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers, is consultant to The Hain Celestial group and Royal Wine Corporation and is executive chef of The Abigael Group, owner of the acclaimed Abigael’s restaurant! Chef Jeff has cooked at the James Beard House in New York, been guest chef at the prestigious De Gustibus cooking school at Macy’s and made frequent appearances on TV shows with Regis, Joan, Roseanne, Conan to name just a few.  And, you may have caught his Matzoh Ball Soup Challenge victory on the Food Network (we did!), where he won the Throwdown against Bobby Flay. (Sorry Bobby, it was NO CONTEST, skill and genes!)  Wow, one can say Chef Jeff multi-tasks!

    So who is Chef Jeffrey Nathan? A hint of Nathan’s talents first emerged in his grandmother’s kitchen.  At family gatherings, while all the men and boys watched TV and snacked, young Jeff headed to the kitchen to assist the women. Upon graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Navy, and was initially assigned to be a missile technician.  He realized that this was not going to be his future, and he requested a re-assignment to the kitchen. He excelled as a cook and quickly became the captain’s cook, preparing food for the officers as well as diplomats throughout the world. Upon discharge, he attended and graduated from the world famous Culinary Institute of America (CIA). 

    Combining entrepreneurial and culinary expertise, Nathan owned several successful non-kosher restaurants in the New York area.  He, along with a business partner, purchased restaurants that had gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and turned them around.   After 10 years of experience in successful restaurant “turnarounds” and ignoring the advice of several friends and business associates, Nathan purchased a financially stressed kosher restaurant and created Abigael’s.  It is from this point that his successful kosher story begins, and Jeff’s life evolved. 

    Abigael’s is a leading New York restaurant, featuring contemporary American food with a global influence. In a conversation with Jeff, he emphasized that Abigael’s is meant to be a great restaurant and just happens to be kosher.

    Behind the scenes of the Nathan enterprise is Alison Nathan, Jeff’s talented wife, who is also a food professional. She graduated from Johnson and Wales Culinary School, and met Jeff when she was his employee.  They have two children. Alison takes charge of the administration and public relations of the company and is very involved in all business projects.

    Over the years Chef Nathan has pursued an in-depth education about kosher production and kosher availability.  He has been instrumental in widening the selection and availability of kosher gourmet ingredients. 

    Chef Jeff has provided two Passover recipes to KosherEye — Chicken Milanese with Tomato Herb Salad and Smoked Trout Salad Enjoy!

    Watch Chef Jeffrey Nathan demonstrate several Passover recipes.

    Welcome to the Twitter Party!

    KosherEye is honored and excited to have Chef Jeff as guest co-host at our upcoming Twitter Party. Don’t miss this event, Monday, March 15th from 8:00 - 9:30 PM, EST. To follow the Tweets and participate, use the tag #Passoverpty. We will be “chatting” about Passover tips, recipes, ingredients, menus, Abigael’s restaurant and Passover friendly recipes from Jeff’s books. 

    In the meantime, do follow Jeff on Twitter and Facebook.

    It’s mouthwatering--take a look at a few selections from the Passover Seder and Passover dinner menus at Abigael’s on Broadway --award winning chicken soup, char-grilled rib steak, chicken rouladen, herb crusted salmon, triple strawberry shortcake, brownies layered with chocolate cream and ganache.We can hardly resist the flight to NY. Believe It or Not, Abigael’s will do “to go Passover dinners”, but how far????

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    The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts Is Really Cooking!

    Part II — Recipes & Videos

    The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts

    We are delighted to present several recipes and cooking tips provided to KosherEye by the Center for Culinary Arts.

    CKCA Parve  Vichyssoise Soup: A delectable soup recipe featuring leek, potatoes, chicken stock, and parve cream.

    Beef Bourguignon: A classic mixture of beef, mushrooms, pearl onions, burgundy wine — Julia would be proud of this recipe.

    Perfect Challah: The chefs at CKCA weigh all ingredients to achieve perfection.  This recipe is a great example and produces a perfect challah.  It also features a Secretly Simple Streusel Topping.  Do try it!

    About the Chefs of the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts:

    Chef Mark Hellermann, Senior Culinary Instructor, has been in the food service industry for over 20 years. He has worked as a pastry chef for Balducci’s and as executive chef for Tastings Restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. He has also done catering, worked as a specialty food purveyor and produced his own line of baked goods for the NY City Farmers Market.

    Chef Avram Wiseman, Senior Culinary Instructor, is a highly experienced professional chef and culinary educator. When he isn’t catering parties for hundreds or thousands, Chef Avram teaches the professional training program at CKCA’s main campus, as well as an ice carving course, a class on Chinese Dim Sum, and a number of weeklong advanced workshops.

    Chef David Ritter joined the team from the culinary school at The Art Institute of New York, where he was a Senior Lead Instructor, and had been teaching for over ten years. Before teaching, Chef Ritter served as a restaurant consultant and was the owner/chef of an award-winning restaurant in Queens — The Footbridge Gourmet. In 1995 the restaurant took home the “New York State Beef — It’s What’s For Dinner” award, for Chef Ritter’s signature brisket.

    Video Tips by the chefs of the CKCA:

    Writing with melted chocolate, Chef Mark Hellermann:

    Making traditional gravlox,  Chef Avram Wiseman:

    Making classic small sauce Béarnaise, Chef David Ritter:

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    History of Food in Jewish Italy

    classes_03Master Chef Giuliano Hazan and his wife Lael are quite a talented pair. Chef Hazan, the son of famous Italian food pioneer Marcella Hazan, is a cookbook writer, teacher and TV personality known for regular guest appearances on the Today Show. His new book (his 4th), Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), offers quick and delicious Italian pasta recipes, most of which can be used as presented, or easily adapted to a kosher kitchen. Visit for more information and recipes.

    Chef Hazan travels internationally and has been sharing his expertise at hands-on classes and demonstrations. Each summer Giuliano and Lael have their own Italian cooking school in Villa Giono, a Renaissance villa, outside Verona in Northern Italy. No, unfortunately it is not kosher — but perhaps, if enough of our KosherEye friends are interested, we can encourage Chef Hazan to create a special course for us. (Do let us know!)

    Lael Hazan is a respected food historian and lecturer. Her subject specialties include Italian Jewish history, History of Italian Cuisine and Italian fun food facts! Lael has been kind enough to share an informative article about the history of Jewish Italian Food. Fascinating, thought provoking and delicious.

    For by Lael Hazan


    In 161 BCE the first Jews set foot in Rome as envoys of Judah Maccabee. Their arrival heralded the start of a Jewish presence that would be continuous until today, and except for Israel, the longest of any Jewish presence in the world. The fractured nature of what was to become Italy was beneficial to the Jews. When one city or region expelled them, it wasn’t far to get to another that would want their talents. The wandering Jews were a benefit to their overlords, who needed their money and trading networks.

    Jews contributed to the formation of Italy. There are many great Jewish Italian artists, composers, physicians, entrepreneurs and politicians. In 1986, Rita Levi Montalcini was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. But perhaps the most lasting Jewish legacy has been in the foods that have made their way into the general population.

    Vesti da turco e mangia da ebreo. Dress like a Turk, eat like a Jew — goes the old saying.

    Although Kashrut kept them apart, and most Italian Jewish dishes are the cuisine of poverty, one can find traditional recipes in almost every region in Italy. Just look for the names all’ebraica, alla giudea, alla grega, Rebecchine, Gerusalemme; the names indicate that they are the foods of the Jews. Jewish influence in Italian cooking was present even in ancient Rome; the Garum Catimoniale was a fish sauce made only from fish with scales.

    Forty years ago, one could hardly see eggplant and fennel on the Florentine market. They were considered vile foods of the Jews. The latter offering evidence here, as in more important issues, of having better than Christians, a flair for discovering good things.

    Pellegino Artusi, the foremost food writer of his day, was credited with establishing a national Italian cuisine, in La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well), 1910, Firenze, Italy.

    The Jewish diet was mostly made up of vegetables, differing from much of the general population who didn’t eat chicory, fennel, eggplant or squash until the 20th century. They were the foods of poverty, the foods of the Jews. As the interaction between the Jews and general population improved, knowledge of “Jewish” dishes increased. Now, many dishes made with “Jewish” ingredients are considered the most delicate and traditional in the land. One of the most famous Jewish dishes from Rome is the Carciofi all Giudea, the fried artichoke, that looks like a crispy chrysanthemum. In Rome the Jews were the Friggitori, the street vendors, who sold deep-fried food.

    According to food historian Claudia Roden, perhaps the most famous and elegant of all risottos had its humble origins as the food of the Jews. Jews were traders and traveled widely. It is thought that in the course of their trading they brought saffron from Asia Minor into Venice. The Jews of Venice have a dish called Risi Gialli, yellow rice, that is often served on Sabbath. Today, that rice dish is known to the world as Risotto Milanese.

    Jewish recipes that made it into the general population were often changed so they no longer followed the kosher restrictions. Risotto Milanese uses meat broth and, often even marrow bone, in its non-kosher variety. However, if one uses a vegetable broth made of savory vegetables it is possible to get the flavor of the historic Jewish dish. I have included the Risotto Milanese of my husband’s family. Enjoy.

    A KosherEye addendum: We have had the extraordinary experience of visiting the Jewish Ghetto of Rome and dining in the kosher Taverna Del Ghetto. The most memorable dish, the Carciofi all Giudea, fried artichoke was truly superb. If you go, don’t miss this culinary treat!

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    The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts Is Really Cooking!

    Center for Kosher Culinary Arts

    The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) is located in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. The school was founded by Baruch and Elka Pinson, owners of the very successful family owned cooking supply company Happy Home Housewares.  As their business grew, the Pinsons recognized a need for instructional cooking classes and expanded by adding an in-house cooking school.

    It all began seven years ago with recreational cooking classes, for hands-on cooking and baking enthusiasts. The diverse curriculum attracted interested “foodies” and kitchen hobbyists of all ages and experience levels. The classes grew in popularity and now are often waitlisted. They are primarily taught by specialty guest chefs on subjects such as sushi making, chocolate crafting, fruit and vegetable carving and edible bouquets.

    In 2007, because of an ongoing stream of inquiries, the CKCA started the first and only professional kosher cooking school in the United States, offering career level training programs in both Culinary & Pastry Arts. Most attendees are kosher “keepers” and, for the first time, have the opportunity to prepare and actually taste their creations. The school’s motto is, “We cook and bake, then eat what we make.”

    Jesse Blonder, a trained chef himself, is the visionary director of the school and has brought in a staff of expert chef instructors with advanced culinary credentials. The professional program is scheduled year round and completion of the program includes 150 hours of study – which can usually be achieved in 2-3 months. Class times are flexible and are offered both day and night. The chef instructors are highly trained, experienced food experts and are equipped with various culinary credentials.

    Classes have included diverse offerings, such as Knife Skills, Culinary Techniques, and instruction on ethnic cuisines, which include Provincial and Classical French, Asian, Rustic Italian and Greek.  Appearances by international food celebrities and demonstrations by popular cookbook authors have also been added to the curriculum.

    Over the past two years, approximately 120 individuals from numerous states and abroad have completed CKCA professional courses.  In addition to students from the Northeast, recent enrollees came from Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut,Texas and from countries as far as Israel, England and Mexico.

    So where do the graduates go?

    The school has placed all who have desired internships, and assisted many in finding professional positions. Several grads are opening their own food-related businesses, and many have found commercial success working as personal chefs and caterers. Some internships and placements include popular restaurants, such as Prime Grill, Solo, 92nd Street Y, Tribeca Cafe, Mike's Bistro, Abigael’s and more.

    Grad Jordana H. operates her own business, “The Blue Ladle”.  She is a personal chef in Cedarhurst, NY  and has a client base in both Manhattan and Long Island, NY. According to Jordana, “I deliver twice a week to homes and cook for special events in people's homes. A lot of people think that to work in the culinary world you have to be in a restaurant, but I wanted to either work in my home cooking for others, or work as a  personal chef in other people's homes.”

    Grad Alex Y.  had been successfully running a fine jewelry store for sixteen years, when his family leased property to open a dairy kosher restaurant in Queens, NY. He was drafted to manage it because of his business experience, but he didn’t know how to cook. “I needed to learn everything, from how to boil water to more complicated dishes, as well as organizational things like planning a menu. It’s supposed to be a small family business, but now they refer to me as the head chef,” he said.

    The CKCA chefs and students also reach out to the community by holding on-site demonstrations, private cooking classes, small-catered affairs, and serving as personal chefs. Recently the school donated its time to help prepare food for the opening of a nearby food kitchen.

    KosherEye is delighted to feature the CKCA. Tomorrow we will be sharing some of the school’s tips and recipes with our KosherEye friends.

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