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Y’all will like this new cookbook

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Just in time for summer cooking and entertaining — and thinking ahead for the early onset of the High Holy Days (Rosh HaShanah is Sept. 9), here’s a taste of “Simply Southern — With a Dash of Kosher Soul.” Tracy Rapp and Dena Wruble are the editors of the book, a fund-raiser for the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South (formerly the Memphis Hebrew Academy) in Memphis, Tenn. The book showcases “traditional kosher recipes turned Southern and traditional Southern recipes turned kosher.” Cooks can learn about Jewish life in the South through personal stories of some of the contributors and color photographs accompany many of the Jewish “soul food” recipes.

The book is a compilation of almost 300 Southern cuisine “classic” recipes, adhering to kashrut, chosen from 1,500 entries by the book’s editorial committee at the school, a small Orthodox day school. More than 2,500 copies have been sold since the book’s release in December.

The hard-covered, spiral-bound book is available at bookstores, Judaica shops, including the Judaica House in Teaneck, and online at

Here’s a nice summer choice, perhaps even for a Shabbat lunch if you are serving meat. I am sure you could substitute chicken or maybe firm tofu instead of steak.

Molasses Marinated Meat Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing

Meat and marinade

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup coarse grain mustard

1-2 lb. skirt steak

Blend molasses and mustard. Pour over steak. Marinate for two hours or overnight. Grill or broil to desired degree of doneness. Cut steak into thin slices.


1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. dry mustard

2 tbsp. chopped onion

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Whisk together oil, sugar, mustard, onion, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds until smooth.


1-2 packages Bibb, romaine, or iceberg lettuce

1 cucumber, diced

1 cup cubed mango

1 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Sliced apples

Arrange lettuce, cucumber, mango, red onion, and cranberries on platter. Place meat slices over salad. Drizzle dressing over all. Garnish with sliced apples.

Yield: four servings

Carmelized Onions
and Pecan Green Beans

(Two savory delights from the garden in one easy dish!)

2 pounds green beans

4 tbsp. margarine

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Bring pot of water to boil. Add green beans and cook five minutes. Drain and plunge into ice water. Green beans will be al dente. Melt margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté pecans about five minutes until toasted. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon. Add onion to skillet. Cook and stir 15 minutes until caramel-colored. Stir in sugar. Return pecans and add green beans. Add salt and pepper. Cook five more minutes.

Mississippi Mud Brownies

(We’ve been told by someone who grew up in the South that this is a typical Southern dessert. Bring your sweet tooth to dinner!)

1 cup chopped pecans

2 sticks butter or margarine

1 (4-oz.) semi-sweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 tsp. salt

1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake 8-10 minutes until toasted and fragrant. Place butter or margarine and chocolate in a large glass bowl. Microwave on high power 1 minute, stirring at 30-second intervals or until smooth. Whisk in sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Pour batter into a greased 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and spread marshmallow fluff on top.

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter or margarine

1/3 cup milk or soymilk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

I tsp. vanilla

Melt butter or margarine in a saucepan. Whisk in milk and cocoa. Bring to boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually add powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Immediately drizzle frosting over warm brownies. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Yield: 16 servings

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What if?

Playwright tells the sort-of-familiar story of the four matriarchs in the garden

One of our frequently told stories is of the four sages who enter Paradise. Of the four, one dies, one is struck mad, one becomes a heretic, and one leaves unscathed. It is a powerful, mysterious, and unsettling tale.

Sigal Samuel of Brooklyn, a writer and editor for the Jewish Forward, thought a great deal about that midrash. “I remember studying it in school” — a modern Orthodox day school in Montreal — “and with my father,” a former professor of Jewish mysticism in that city’s Concordia University, she said. “I’ve been sitting with it for many years.”

Last year, Ms. Samuel was a fellow at the Laba program sponsored by the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Laba, which its founders called a laboratory for Jewish culture, uses classic Jewish texts “as a springboard to artistic creation,” Ms. Samuel said. The year’s theme was mothers. So when the idea of Jewish texts in general, the idea of mothers in general, and this text, which had floated around in her subconscious practically forever, came together, they were catalyzed by another realization.


‘A blaze of light in every word’

Leonard Cohen’s songs to ring in the High Holy Days in Bayonne

In 1974, Leonard Cohen borrowed from the High Holy Day liturgy for his song “Who By Fire.”

This year, Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin is returning the favor. He will bring Leonard Cohen songs into the High Holy Day services at Temple Beth Am in Bayonne — and chant Unetaneh Tokef to the melody of the song it inspired.

“So much of his music is rooted in Jewish thought and Jewish images,” said Rabbi Salkin of Mr. Cohen, who will turn 80 on Sunday. Two days later, on Tuesday, Mr. Cohen’s 13th studio album will be released. Rabbi Salkin believes that Mr. Cohen’s continuing relevance as he reaches what Pirkei Avot calls “the age of strength” provides an important role model for his congregation.


Turn, turn, stop turning

Slichot in River Edge focuses on music by Mahler, Mendelssohn

One of the main themes of the High Holy Days is teshuva.

The word literally means return; it is about repentance, the desire to return to God, to the community, to life as you really meant to have lived it. To try again.

“Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it,” we are told; that lesson is applied particularly to the holidays, with its focus on turning toward redemption.

We usually think of turning as making a circle, a full 360 degrees. What if it’s only 180, and you end up facing away from where you began?

And what if that direction points away from Judaism?

That’s the idea that the pre-Slichot program at Temple Avodat Shalom in River Edge will examine.

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