Albany kosher cheese maker charged with defrauding investors


The owner of an Albany, New York kosher cheese business has been charged with fraud.

Lawrence Rosenbaum, 64, of Albany, was arraigned on Monday. He is accused of promising investors in Saratoga Cheese Corporation, his kosher and halal cheese business, high returns and shares of stock in his corporation. He never developed the production lines or facilities for which he solicited the money, the local ABC affiliate reported.

Rosenbaum also is accused of writing checks to himself from the business accounts and using some of the investment funds to pay for an apartment with his mistress in Costa Rica. He also did not file his personal income taxes for several years.

 

He is charged on 27 counts including grand larceny, securities fraud and tax fraud.

Rosenbaum looked for investors for a plant to process the cheese and also to create alternative bio-energies from the manure from his milk-producing cows. The $40 million cheese factory announced in 2008 was slated to be built in the Cayuga County Industrial Development Agency industrial park, which was predicted to be an economic boon to the area. He ran his business from the porch of his Albany home.

In 2009, he spoke to Chabad.org of his plans to headquarter his cheese business in rural Cayuga County, and use it as a base to “found a yeshiva, revolutionize the national kosher and Halal cheese industry, and establish a Jewish community in the New York countryside.” In 2014, Rosenbaum told an interfaith gathering in Morristown, New Jersey that his production of cheeses for the Jewish and Muslim markets was part of an effort he called “Cheese for Peace.”

Rosenbaum pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, Rosenbaum faces up to 15 years in state prison. He is currently being held on $200,000 bail.

Recipes: Summer flavors, savory pastries and rich cheese tarts


Let’s have an outdoor summer party! 

Whether you have a tennis court, a swimming pool or a great lawn for playing croquet, now is the time to invite friends over for a fun-in-the-sun celebration and an alfresco meal. Or you can take your party to the park.

At our annual summer event, we invite friends to an afternoon bocce tournament and an outdoor dinner just before sunset. The game of bocce dates back to Roman times and was developed in Italy. It evolved from a traditional lawn sport into the modern-day game we know today.

Invitations are sent by email. I enjoy using clip art and a fun typeface that relates to the game. If your guests have never played before, it is a good idea to include the rules so everyone can come prepared for a day of friendly competition. 

When everyone arrives, we serve hot and cold finger food to munch on during and between games, along with a cold Campari drink. We set up chairs around the bocce court from which spectators can watch while they are awaiting their turn to play.

To get things rolling, we divvy up the bocce balls and, well, get things rolling. 

For the menu, we pick from a list of our favorite foods. Start with individual Baked Cheese Pastries and Open-face Mushroom Bruschetta. Include a cheese and olive tray with a selection of Italian products, and don’t forget to label them. 

Begin dinner with a refreshing bowl of cold, raw tomato soup with cubes of fresh mozzarella. Then serve the main course, a big plate of traditional Spaghetti With Spicy Salmon Tomato Sauce. 

Finish the day with espresso, a Ricotta Cheese Tart with fresh berries and, of course, a fun trophy for the winning team.


BAKED CHEESE PASTRIES 

From “Italy Cooks,” by Judy Zeidler.

1 cup milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup flour

4 eggs

1 1/2  cups finely shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a heavy saucepan, scald milk. In a medium bowl, knead butter, salt, pepper and mustards together; add to milk, and blend with a wooden spoon. Bring to a rolling boil. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously, until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.

Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric mixer and add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Blend until the dough is shiny and smooth. Add 1 cup cheese and blend well.

Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip. Pipe the cheese puffs in mounds 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart on a foil- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and a few drops of milk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until well-puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately. 

Makes about 24.


OPEN-FACE MUSHROOM BRUSCHETTA

12 white mushrooms

8 slices whole wheat bread

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Place mushrooms on wooden surface, cap-side down. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, cut mushrooms into paper-thin slices, making sure to keep the stem section attached.

Brush one side of each slice of bread lightly with oil. Place mushrooms in a row on the unoiled side of the bread, overlapping mushroom slices slightly, making 3 or 4 rows to cover the bread. Brush mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place bread, mushroom side up, in a panini-style grill and close grill top over bread, pressing top down to slightly smash bread. Grill about 4 to 5 minutes until bread is golden brown and mushrooms are sizzling and cooked through. 

Makes 8 servings.


COLD TOMATO SOUP WITH MOZZARELLA

(From “Italy Cooks,” by Judy Zeidler)

6 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves

6 ounces soft mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes

Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Directions:

Strain pureed tomatoes into a glass bowl. Add sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the basil and mix thoroughly. Spoon an equal amount of mozzarella into centers of 8 shallow bowls; ladle tomato mixture over each. Drizzle with olive oil and serve. 

Makes 8 servings.


SPAGHETTI WITH SPICY SALMON TOMATO SAUCE

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 pound salmon fillets, cut in cubes

1 (1-pound) package spaghetti

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until soft. Add salt, cayenne, tomatoes and 1 cup broth; cook until the ingredients are well combined.

Add basil and salmon; sauté until salmon is cooked through. Stir in some or all of remaining 1/2 cup broth, if needed, to achieve desired consistency. 

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water; bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti, and return the water to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until spaghetti has cooked through but is still firm to the bite, according to package directions, or about 10 minutes; drain thoroughly in a colander.

Toss spaghetti into sauce, mix thoroughly, and serve immediately, topped with grated Parmesan cheese. 

Makes 8 servings. 


RICOTTA CHEESE TART 

4 large eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup mascarpone or crème fraiche

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Pinch cinnamon

Powdered sugar for dusting

Fresh raspberries and whipped cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. 

Butter and flour an 8- or 10-inch springform pan; set aside. 

Mix egg yolks, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add ricotta, flour, baking powder, mascarpone, lemon zest and cinnamon; blend well. In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold cheese mixture into egg whites. 

Pour into prepared springform pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until center of tart springs back when lightly touched. Let cool completely; remove springform sides. Slide tart onto a serving plate, dust with powdered sugar, and garnish with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. 

Makes 8 servings.

N.J. kosher cheese company bidding for recovery after Sandy


A flooded warehouse, decomposed wall beams, sodden sheetrock, crumbling brick walls, a fried electrical system and about $2 million worth of rotten cheese waiting to be chucked: That’s only a glimpse of the woes facing Brigitte Mizrahi.

Mizrahi owns Anderson International Foods, a small kosher cheese company she founded in 1995, and her warehouse is located in an industrial area of Jersey City about a mile from the Hudson River waterfront. Although the facility isn't in the designated flood zone, it was under four feet of water soon after superstorm Sandy blew through town two weeks ago.

“The only reason why I look calm is because I’ve already had time to decompress,” said the petite native of France while standing outside what was once her office.

“It was such a beautiful building. The roof over here blew off, it’s pretty much gone, and all that used to be brick,” she adds, pointing to a wall with a mound of brick rubble piled high.

More than two weeks after the worst storm to hit the northeastern United States in memory, life has returned to normal for most of the millions of residents in the storm's path. Still, thousands remain without power. And for those with homes and businesses that took the brunt of Sandy's beating, the cleanup and restoration work is just beginning.

Inside the AIF warehouse, a team of workers from a recovery company is working on repairs. Three men in masks are power washing the floors with bleach and sanitation solution to get rid of the dirty residue from the floodwater, attempting to restore the facility to the pristine cleanliness required of a commercial dairy.

Out front, a Dumpster teems with removed sheetrock and beams. The walls must be completely redone, ensuring that employees won't become sick from inhaling mold or mildew. A pile of computers, printers, fax machines, desks, chairs and wires is stacked to the left, boxes of the company’s paperwork are stacked to the right. Two forklifts with blown electrical systems droop in the corner waiting to be trashed.

“This is organized!” says project manager Yehuda Maimon. “You should have seen it after the storm. Pitch black, everything everywhere; it was terrifying. No one thought it was going to be this bad.”

Still, those piles at the front look minimal compared to the boxes of wasted cheese that stretch across and down the rest of the warehouse.

AIF sells cheese under three labels: Natural and Kosher, les Petites Fermieres and Organic Kosher. The company takes shipments from producers in California, Wisconsin and Israel, and distributes to stores across the United States as well as Mexico, Australia and Canada. But lacking power for two weeks, the company has been forced to write off an entire batch of inventory.

“The cheese must be stored at a temperature of 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to be edible,” says Omer Wienrib, AIF’s vice president of operations. “Once we lost electricity, there was no chance to save any of it.”

Standing inside an industrial-size refrigerator packed with some 100,000 boxes of cheese, Weinrib places his hand on a combo pack of fancy cheeses that should be on its way to Costco stores in Mexico. Some of the product is still cold, even though the air has the familiar stench of sweaty feet.

“Even though it’s cold out, it’s too much of a risk to be selling the cheese,” he says. “This is what people eat. We can’t mess with that.”

The cost of AIF’s devastation is significant. Mizrachi estimates the loss of her inventory alone could be as much as $2 million, with the building repairs nearly twice that figure.

Still, AIF presses on: It has received a new shipment of cheese, using several generators to power the refrigerated rooms, and their 20 employees are working full time on regular salary.

“We barely missed any days,” Maimon said. “We have a makeshift office in Brigitte’s apartment living room and we are getting right back on our feet.”

“Of course, we have some coffee, tea and candy,” Mizrahi adds. “Some nice Jewish hospitality to get through all this.”

For AIF, the storm could hardly have come at a worse time.

Kosherfest, the world’s largest kosher food trade show and perhaps AIF's most important marketing event of the year, is being held Tuesday and Wednesday in New Jersey. The members of Mizrahi’s team have been working around the clock to ensure that they have everything under control and promise their table will impress.

Meanwhile, the company is dealing with insurance assessors and hoping that government relief assistance will help cover the costs of rebuilding. For now, though, the price of rebuilding is being paid from company coffers.

“We don’t really know exactly what we will get back because you never know with insurance,” Weinrib said. “But if we have to, we’ll pay for repairs and move on. This can be a fresh beginning for all of us hit by this hurricane.”

The goat herd: A story of chevre, Shavuot and backyard goats [RECIPE]


The most common question people ask when they visit our home is: “Why the goats?”

We live in the city. A few houses west of us, four lanes of Lincoln

Boulevard traffic roar past day and night. Planes from cursed Santa Monica Airport buzz overhead. And on any given night, sometime between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., an LAPD helicopter will make sure to flood our bedroom with its searchlight. It’s Venice, man.

Two years ago, into this urban landscape, I brought our first goat.

Yes, I said goat. Yes, I said first.

My daughter and I were at John’s Feed, buying chickens. John’s, I assume, is a holdover from the days when Huntington Park was surrounded by farmland; there is no other reason for a ramshackle feed store in the midst of a treeless landscape of warehouses and strip malls. 

John’s Feed stockpiles the chickens that end up next door at a live butcher shop called La Princesa. I usually buy chickens there for egg-laying. They are already full-grown, and I get the added pleasure of taking a creature off death row. On this day, when my daughter and I showed up, we noticed that, in the same crowded, feces-filled pen with the chickens, stood one miserable goat.

She was standing on her hind legs, straining to look out the window to the street.

We took her.

But why have goats? I often wonder if it’s in my blood. Eskimos have 30 words for snow. Jews have more than a dozen words for goat. You and I are generations removed from our agrarian ancestors, but their relationship with the world’s first domesticated animal lives on in our language. Azmaveth and tsaphir are he-goats. Gaddiel, a holy goat. Gedi, a young goat. Jaala and seirah are young she-goats. Ez, a she goat. Tayish, a butting he goat. Uzzah, a strong goat. Zibiah and aqqo, zemer, dishon and yael — mountain and desert goats. Ancient Jews depended on goat meat and milk for food; they slept in goat-hair tents. Their closeness created empathy: Jews were revolted by the thought of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, and so, today, we can’t eat cheeseburgers. There is a Hebrew word for hell: azazel, familiar to us from Yom Kippur. It translates literally as “lost goat.” Hell, for Hebrew, was when you lost your goat.

The Christians saw goats as the devil. The apostles saw themselves as sheep and Jesus as their shepherd.

Sheep huddle together and look to the shepherd for direction. Goats are stubborn and willful. The word capricious, meaning picky and discerning, comes from the Latin capro, for goat. Goats break fences and, thus, rules. Sheep are grazers, content to munch the grass at their feet. Goats are browsers — they refuse the grass and strive to eat the trees and bushes just beyond their reach.

Goats are deeply communal, bonded to one another. Sheep run, goats stand their ground. (Thoroughbred trainers used to calm their skittish horses by placing a fearless goat in their stall. To throw a race, you would sneak into the stall at night and get someone’s goat. A cliché was born.)

Story continues after the jump.

Rob Eshman’s goats: Ollie, left, and Goldie Horn

In Matthew 25:33, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, Jesus tells how he will judge nations when he returns: “And [Jesus] will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on his left.” Sheep go to heaven, goats to hell. The horns Christians imagined on Jewish heads did not make them look like the devil: They made them look like goats.

Is it any wonder that goat beside the butcher shop called out to me? It’s not just that I couldn’t see her ending up as birria — Mexican goat stew — or chavito — split, grilled goat. It’s that we shared cultural DNA.

I had driven my wife’s Prius to John’s Feed Store that day. The goat, a black-and-white Nigerian pygmy about the size of a small spaniel, went into a cardboard box and into the trunk. Somewhere on the 110 Freeway North, I heard a crash. Her two devilish horns had busted the packing tape, and I drove home with a goat in the rear view mirror.

We named her Goldie Horn. When my wife arrived home from a work trip, she found her car had been completely waxed outside and detailed inside. She said I was the nicest husband in the world. Then she saw the goat.

We moved Goldie into a spacious side yard. But goats, every goat book informed me, care about two things: food and companionship. See, I explained to my wife, they are Jewish. Soon my daughter and I visited a goat rescue and returned with a dun-colored mutt goat we named Ollie.

But why goats, people still ask.

To which I often answer: Why not? Nobody walks into your house and asks, “Why dogs?” even if your pet is not fit to protect, or hunt, or even play. No one asks, “Why fish?” though you can’t eat them, or, “Why canaries?” though they don’t lay eggs. And no one asks, “Why cats?”— except me.

Goats don’t bark or scratch. In our urban ecosystem, their odorless pellets work like plant steroids, replacing the need to buy fertilizer. They come when I call them, will stand on two legs for treats and enjoy a good scratch. As I write this, Goldie is rubbing her head against the card table I’ve set up in my backyard. In a moment, I’ll let her butt the palm of my hand.  It’s a game we play.

It is weird, I know, but it really isn’t.

On Sunday mornings, I use a broom and dustbin to scoop up the layer of goat pellets, crushed dry hay and soil that carpets the animal pen. The dust plumes up and coats my face and fills my nostrils. It’s a fantastic smell — exactly like a fine unlit cigar passed under your nose. Next time someone is reaching for words to describe their $200 Cohiba, just say, “Hay, dust and goat s—-.”

I don’t even mind when I forget to feed them first thing in the morning. I have to go out after I’ve showered and dressed in my suit, carrying a slice of timothy hay, their pebbly poops squishing under my black polished shoes. I can see my wife, Naomi, at the window, watching — just like she did at the window of the Mendocino B&B one morning of our honeymoon when she saw me down by the shore tasting the seaweed. It’s a look that says, “Who, exactly, did I marry?”

I don’t tell her that when they break out of their pen and tiptoe into my study, Goldie always tries to nip a page from the same book — one of Naomi’s ancient Hebrew treatises on Jewish mysticism.

These goats, I swear to her, have made me a better Jew. Abraham, Itzhak, Yaakov, Moses and David were not scholars or preachers. They were the original men who stare at goats. Not surprisingly, the cycles of our holidays play out according to the cycles of these animals. That’s especially true now, during the holiday of Shavuot. 

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It’s traditional to eat dairy foods like cheesecake and blintzes during the festival. The rabbis will tell you that’s because Torah is like mother’s milk to us. But my goats teach me something different.

Goldie and Ollie have been fixed. But when spring arrives, Ollie still yearns after Goldie, and a long-dead urge reawakens, and he tries. If they weren’t city goats, rescued from other people’s appetites, Goldie would be kidding now, her milk flowing. There would be more than we could drink, and we would be making cheese, and out of the cheese, blintzes.

The first milk the Hebrews drank, the first simple cheese they made, came from goats.

“Why goats?” people ask, and then they answer their own question with another: “Do you milk them?”

No, but a few months ago, my goats inspired me to take a cheese-making class from Steve Rudicel, owner of Mariposa Creamery in Altadena, the only goat dairy in Los Angeles. Rudicel, a young, sturdy farmer type, started the class with a brief explanation.

“Milk needs to be small,” he said. “Milk needs to be local. Seek out quality dairy ingredients. It makes a big difference in the lives of the animals. The hardest-working part of the dairy farm is the animals. We’ve lost respect for the animals.”

Rudicel paused. 

“Goats are some of the sweetest creatures I’ve ever met,” he went on. “I’m often moved by the milk we make.”

In front of about 75 people, Rudicel had to stop to compose himself. 

“Why goats?” That’s the answer. These animals start out in your blood, but they quickly make their way to your heart.

STEVE RUDICEL’S CHEVRE CHEESE

Fresh goat cheese is one of the easiest foods you can make. It takes five minutes of active cooking time, over two days. And its taste is far superior to the standard logs of chevre cheese product available in gourmet stores.
All specialty items are available by mail-order at dairyconnection.com.

Tools:

Good liquid thermometer
Large spoon
Large, clean pot
Cheese maker’s muslin or molds

Ingredients: 

1 gallon pasteurized goat milk (I use Summerhill Dairy, which is readily available at Trader Joe’s. It costs $3 quart, or $12 a gallon, which yields just over 1 pound of goat cheese.)
1/8 teaspoon MM100 or MM101 starter cultures 
3 drops vegetable rennet
1/4 cup spring or distilled (not tap) water 

Heat milk gently to 74 degrees F.

Add a scant 1/8 teaspoon starter culture and stir for two minutes.

Dissolve rennet in spring water. Add to milk and stir for 2 minutes.

Drape a towel over pot and leave at room temperature for 12 to 20 hours. The curds are ready when they appear solidified and liquid whey floats on top. 

Ladle curds into cheese maker’s muslin, tie around a wooden spoon or dowel and suspend over a pot. Allow to drip at room temperature overnight. Or, you can ladle into cheese molds and allow to drain overnight.

Unwrap cheese, sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with great olive oil, and it’s ready to eat. You can also stir in seasonings (salt, chives, etc.), then cover and refrigerate.

Makes slightly more than 1 pound of cheese, enough to fill about 6 chevre molds.

Say Cheese: Recipes for Shavuot


During Shavuot, it’s a custom to serve dairy foods, such as cheese blintzes, cheese noodle kugels, cheesecake and even ice cream. But have you wondered where this tradition comes from?

There are many explanations, but I like the theory that, at this time of the year, sheep and goats are still feeding their young, and milk products abound.

Dishes prepared with wheat, barley, honey, olives and other “first fruits” of the spring harvest are also customary.

Using many of these ingredients and updating the traditional Shavuot dairy dishes, this menu includes some of my favorite dishes, inspired by my new Italian cookbook, “Italy Cooks.”

When your guests sit down for the holiday meal, welcome everyone by sharing a platter, placed in the center of the table, containing a goat cheese and tomato appetizer. It is a great way to start the evening.      

Cold tomato soup topped with mozzarella cheese is a refreshing perfect first course, as it can be prepared in advance, stored in the refrigerator and ladled into soup bowls when you are ready. I developed this recipe while we were renting a house in Italy, where we often picked tomatoes from the garden. Based on the famous Italian caprese salad, it is fresh, colorful and easy to prepare, especially if you have a tomato press. (This handy little Italian-made gadget separates the seeds and skins from the pulp, leaving a fresh tomato puree. The device is made of heavy red acrylic, with a stainless steel strainer and a strong suction cup on the bottom that attaches to any work surface. You can find it at most cookware stores.)   

Zucchini squash blossoms are easily found in farmers’ markets at this time of the year. Stuff these delicate flowers with a ricotta mixture and bake in the oven.  Serve with a classic marinara sauce. This light vegetable dish makes a perfect small course for a dinner that consists entirely of primi piatti (first plates).

Instead of the traditional farmers cheese-filled blintzes, prepare crepes filled with ricotta cheese and spinach, baked and served with a chunky, spicy tomato sauce. It is an Italian country crepe dish known as Crespelle con Ricotta e Spinaci.  This recipe is most appealing with the filled crespelle (crepes) presented on a pool of tomato sauce.  Think blintzes, with an Italian accent.

Fried Cheese is another dish that is perfect to serve during Shavuot. This one is so impressive in Italian restaurants, and easy to replicate at home. It’s just a mixture of mozzarella cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs and seasoning, cut into squares. The mozzarella squares should be soft and melted inside, so it’s important to fry them just moments before serving. Have the fresh tomato sauce prepared and ready to spoon onto the individual serving plates, place the fried cheese on top, and serve at once. (Recipe online.) 

GOAT CHEESE AND TOMATO APPETIZER 

8 ounces montrachet or other goat cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mascarpone (optional) 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil or more to taste
Classic Marinara Sauce (recipe follows)

Combine the montrachet, cream cheese, mascarpone, garlic, basil, salt and olive oil in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add more olive oil if needed for smoother consistency.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Cover bottom of 12 small (3-inch) shallow custard cups or ramekins with Classic Marinara Sauce. Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of cheese mixture in the center of each custard cup or ramekin. Heat under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until top is brown. Do not let the cheese mixture melt. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Makes 12 servings.


FRIED CHEESE WITH CLASSIC MARINARA SAUCE

It is important to fry the mozzarella cheese cubes just before serving so they will be soft and melted on the inside. The sauce can be prepared in advance; simply spoon onto individual plates when serving.

1 pound mozzarella cheese, finely diced
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons dry vermouth or brandy
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 parsley sprigs, stems removed
4 fresh basil leaves
1 cup flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Classic Marinara Sauce (see recipe)

In a double boiler, soften the mozzarella over hot water. Transfer the softened cheese to the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat in two of the eggs at medium speed. Add 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, the oregano, half the garlic and the salt; mix well. Press the cheese mixture into a lightly oiled 5-by-7-inch glass dish. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or until firm.

In a bowl, lightly beat the remaining four eggs. Blend in the vermouth. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the remaining 1 cup bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and remaining garlic. Set aside.

Cut the cheese mixture into 1/2-inch cubes (about 15 pieces). Dip each into the flour, then the egg-vermouth mixture, and finally into the bread crumb mixture to coat evenly. Place on paper towels and chill 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

In a heavy skillet or deep fryer, heat 3 inches of oil until it registers 375 F on a deep-frying thermometer. Fry the cheese cubes, a few at a time, until evenly golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once with Classic Marinara Sauce.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


 
CLASSIC MARINARA SAUCE

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small white onions, finely diced
1 can (1 pound, 12 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, with liquid
4 cups peeled, seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes
8 whole basil leaves, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Minced parsley for garnish
Olive oil for drizzling

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook gently until browned. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes, basil, and simmer until soft, about 5 minutes. Using a wire whisk or fork, mash the tomatoes. Simmer over low heat until the mixture thickens into a sauce, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Let cool. May cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to one month.

Makes about 4 cups.


 
CRESPELLE WITH RICOTTA AND SPINACH

24 Blini (recipe follows)
1 pound ricotta cheese
8 ounces spinach, steamed, squeezed dry and finely chopped
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Salt to taste
Classic Marinara Sauce (see recipe)

Prepare Blini; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

If ricotta is very soft, place in a strainer set over a medium bowl for 30 minutes to drain. Mix the drained ricotta, spinach, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To assemble, spread about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta-spinach filling over the entire surface of each crepe. Fold 2 inches of each side over the filling and roll up tight. Cut each roll into 4 pieces and place on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 F until heated through, about 5 minutes.

To serve, heat the Classic Marinara Sauce and spoon some in the center of each plate. Arrange 4 or 5 rolled crepes, cut side up, on top of the sauce. 

Makes 12 servings.  


BLINI (Crepes)

5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cups flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks. Blend in milk and cream.  Add flour, salt, and oil; blend well.  Pour into a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl and allow to slowly drip through.  Or push batter through the strainer with a rubber spatula. Batter should be the consistency of heavy cream.  If too thick, add a little more milk.  It can be used immediately or covered with plastic wrap, refrigerated, and used the next day.

Brush a well-seasoned crepe pan with butter and heat. Pour in about 3 tablespoons batter; tilt and rotate the pan to distribute it evenly and thinly, pouring off any excess.  The first crepe will be thicker than the rest.  Cook until underside is lightly browned around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn and cook on other side 1 to 2 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter, stacking cooked crepes on a dish with a piece of wax paper between each one.

Makes about 12 crepes.

Israelis develop a taste for goats’ and sheep’s milk cheeses



The people of Israel have a long history as shepherds. Many of our forefathers, among them Abraham, Moses and David, took care of their herds with the nurturing qualities that later proved crucial for leading the burgeoning Jewish nation.

While modern Israel today may lack the leaders of yore, they do not lack fine goat and sheep farmers.

As Israel becomes sophisticated gastronomically, consumers are favoring goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses over cow’s milk varieties. Unlike their bovine counterparts, most goats and sheep are free to roam and graze, antibiotics aren’t usually a part of their diet, the cheese and milk contain less lactose and the taste is unmistakably distinct.

As enthusiasm grows among consumers, Israeli cheesemakers have become more creative and also more hospitable, with many offering country dining with their delectable cheeses. Owned by some of Israel’s most interesting personalities, the following is a partial list of popular sheep and goat farms throughout Israel.

Eretz Zavat Chalav u’Dvash (Land of Milk and Honey)

A favorite among locals and tourists is Eretz Zavat Chalav u’Dvash, located on Moshav Nechalim in Petach Tikva, about 15 minutes from Ben-Gurion Airport. While it’s one of the most urban-tinged dairies, the atmosphere is quaint and relaxing, with Israeli background music mixing with chirping birds. A colorful, lush garden adorned with a fish pond opens to an outdoor patio with sheep grazing nearby.

Aharon Markovich, the personable founder who grew up on a religious-Zionist farm, decided to raise sheep rather than the more prevalent goats.

“Sheep milk doesn’t have the heavy aroma of goat cheese,” said Markovich, who is quick to offer a container of fresh sheep’s milk for customers to try. “Cow’s milk is flavorless.”

Markovich abides by the adage that rare is better. Sheep produce about half the amount of milk that goats produce, and the results truly are exquisite. The milk is sweet and creamy.

The Markovich dairy produces 40 different kinds of kosher cheeses — fresh, semihard, hard and ripened – but Markovich gets annoyed when people ask him to categorize his cheeses according to well-known kinds, such as Camembert, tomme or feta. While he has mostly taught himself traditional techniques, he refused to bow to European traditions. He makes original cheeses using unorthodox ingredients: wine, fig leaves, rosemary, bay leaves, to name a few additives and, of course, “lots of love and soul.”

The morning buffet brunch features flavored cheese balls, breads, Greek salad, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant and spicy carrots, but the highlight is the opportunity to create a cheese platter from among the dozens of cheeses sold at the deli.

Brunch: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (Friday brunch is closed to children under 12); deli: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (closed Shabbat and holidays). Kosher certified. For more information, call (011) 972-3-933-2797 or visit http://www.2eat.co.il/eretz.

Zook Farm

Located near the Ela Valley, not far from Beith Shemesh, the Zook Farm offers a taste of rustic Israel. Reaching the farm is an experience in and of itself. A kilometer-long road leads to picturesque, delightfully landscaped outdoor seating areas adorned with roses and vines. At the Zook Farm cafe, open to the public on weekends, cheeses and homemade delicacies are served on red-and-white checkered picnic tablecloths at a site overlooking the barns and bushy hills.

The Zook brothers, Yiftach and Tomer, grew up on a farm and are now at the helm of a fraternal food dynasty. Their other brother is culinary star Nir Zook, the namesake of the famous Zook Compound in Jaffa, home to the exclusive Cordelia restaurant. The Zook Compound is the only venue aside from the Zook Farm where the Zook brothers’ cheeses are sold to the public.

A delightful brunch experience goes for NIS 100 ($24) per person, and it includes homemade merlot and high-grade cheeses made from whole goat’s milk: delicate tzfatit; brittle, aged Roquefort; and earthy tomme. Cheeses come with an array of dips and appetizers, including labane, feta cheese spread, eggplant in cream, artichokes, roasted peppers, fennel, hummus and tahina. Scrumptious gingerbread cookies and coffee top off the meal, which is best followed with a walk along the surrounding prairies.

Open Fridays, Saturdays and holidays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For information, call (011) 972-54-523-9117/8 or visit http://www.mitchatnim.co.il/mem/havat_tzuk/.

Goat Path

A new addition to the goat farm landscape of Israel, Goat Path, was founded about a year ago by the Saban and Einy families, who make a large variety of whole milk goat products: gouda, cheddar, emmental, labane, yogurts and yogurt drinks. A lovely country cafe in a wooden cabin is open on weekends. Visitors are welcome to visit the goat pens and tour the wineries and boutique shops in the Tal Shakhar farm, where the dairy is located not far from Beit Shemesh.

Fridays, holiday eves, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Shabbat and holidays: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sundays-Thursdays (limited menu): 8 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, call (011) 972-52-258-9900 or (011) 972-8-949-5964.

Kornmehl Farm

Located in the Negev, overlooking ancient farm ruins, Kornmehl farm was founded in 1997 by husband-and-wife team Anat and Daniel Kornmehl, both graduates of the agricultural science department at Hebrew University. Daniel Kornmehl studied cheesemaking in both France and Israel, and the farm employs the French cheesemaking tradition, while preserving the unique flavors of the Israeli desert. Cheese varieties include their version of tomme, Camembert and Brie.
Visitors are welcome to watch the afternoon milking at 4:30 p.m. and learn about the cheesemaking process.

Cheeses are sold daily from10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call (011) 972-8-655-5140 or 011-972-52-2788051.

Sataf: Shai Seltzer

Shai Seltzer, a fixture in the Israel cheesemaking community with his famous long, white beard, is certainly a candidate for the godfather of modern Israeli goat cheesemaking. This Israeli veteran and award-winning goat farmer and cheesemaker has been raising goats for the past 32 years in one of the most beautiful areas in Israel: Sataf in the Jerusalem hills. Following ancient tradition, the gourmet cheeses are aged in a dark cave, and they are sold only on-site on weekends, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.goat-cheese.co.il.

Cheese for Shavuot wrapped in tradition and variety


More than 50 years ago my grandmother took me to a friend’s apartment. “Bertha turns out blintzes by the dozen,” Granny explained. “Even if there’s no company expected, she makes them and stocks her freezer.”

I stood on a stool and watched melting butter turn frothy before meeting a smooth batter. The combination filled Bertha’s kitchen with the scent of sweet dough. As I sat at her speckled Formica table, the taste of cheese tinged with vanilla oozing from an airy crepe left a lasting impression, as passionate as a first crush, long before I was old enough to date.

Since then I’ve been relegated to eating blintzes at delis, where they’ve been decent but far from sensational. However, with Shavuot approaching, a craving for Bertha’s blintzes drove me to replicate the nirvana of that first experience.

The blintz, a flexible pancake wrapped like an envelope around fillings such as cheese or fruit, is a cousin of the French crepe. With humble roots, the blintz probably originated in Poland and spread from there. Blintz pancakes are called blini in Russian and blintse in Yiddish.

In Hungarian the word pancake is palascinta. Prevalent in Austria, too, palascinta are often filled with apricot preserves or walnuts finely ground with sugar.

My husband David’s fondest childhood memories revolve around the palascinta his mother made for her three children every Sunday night — one at a time.

“I’d be right there next to mom, pressuring her to go faster,” David says. “I couldn’t wait for my next palascinta.”

Reading his mother’s recipe, the one she brought with her when she emigrated here from Vienna, I saw that it dovetailed with the directions for blintzes.

One Sunday I whipped up batter and began ladling it in a frying pan. David hung around the kitchen waiting for a delicious payoff, the way he did as a child.

“I have to intervene,” he said. “Your pancakes are too small and thick. Instead of being tissue-paper thin and covering the entire bottom of the pan, they’re more like flapjacks, too fat to fold around a filling.”

“What am I doing wrong?” I asked.

He gave the batter a brisk stir and ladled some in a buttered pan. I watched in awe as he lifted the handle, twirling quickly, guiding the thickening dough to evenly cover its bottom.

He returned the pan to the flame, waited a couple of minutes, and gave it a shake. “So the batter doesn’t stick.” When the lower side sizzled to a gorgeous golden brown, he flipped over the blintz shell. A couple of minutes later, he turned it onto a plate.

“Now you try making one,” he said.

Once the batter hit the pan, I attempted to imitate how he coaxed it to cover the entire cooking surface.

“Your movements are too staccato,” he said. “You’re using too much elbow. Relax, roll the pan, and the dough will cooperate.”

Several lumpy blintzes later, I mastered the technique.

David just kept piling the sauteed shells on a plate.

“They’re not as delicate as you’d think,” he said.

We spent hours frying, filling and folding pancakes before browning the finished blintzes, which we nibbled as we worked. It was a labor-intensive job, but well worth the time and calories.

It’s no wonder that blintz-making is a dying art. Yet in the Old Country, where Jews had less money and more time, blintzes were a treasured part of Shavuot celebrations.

“Why do we eat blintzes on Shavuos?” asked Tevye, the beleaguered father in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” “I’ll tell you why. I don’t know why. It’s tradition.”

This reason is as good as any to explain why Jews love blintzes on Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates God giving the Torah and its laws to the Children of Israel.

While no one knows for sure what the ancient Israelites ate after receiving the Torah, historians speculate that they didn’t keep kosher until encountering the dietary laws found in this sacred scroll. Because they couldn’t immediately change their ways, their only option was to eat a dairy meal until they could make kosher their cooking utensils and meat.

Shavuot traditionally has been a dairy holiday, a time to celebrate God for giving the Jews “a land flowing with milk and honey,” a line from the Torah that has tied Jews to their ancestral home for centuries.

In Eastern and Central Europe, blintzes were filled with curd cheeses such as pot cheese or farmer cheese. But in America, Jewish housewives began using cottage cheese.

“My mother bought large dry curd cottage cheese for blintzes,” says Ann Amernick, author of “The Art Of The Dessert” (John Wiley and Sons, 2007). She is also a co-owner and the executive pastry chef at Palena restaurant in Washington, D.C.

“Back then, there were stores where people bought fresh dairy products packed in boxes similar to Chinese take-out containers,” Amernick recalls. “Creamy by comparison, today’s cottage cheese doesn’t have the intensity of flavor of old-fashioned dry curd cheeses.”

In 20th century America, the blintz met highs and lows. Cream cheese, with its smooth texture and subtle tang, was mixed with cottage cheese, becoming a velvety but pleasingly assertive blintz filling.

However, the quality dipped when food manufacturers started freezing and mass-marketing blintzes, relieving housewives of this arduous task. On the upside, the blintz souffle was born. A casserole with layers of soft dough surrounding cheese, these souffles are easily assembled and delicious.

As David and I made blintzes that Sunday, I thought of the “Fiddler on the Roof,” who kept playing music in spite of hard times and hard work.

Perhaps Tevye was right. We make blintzes on Shavuot because it’s tradition. Or perhaps some of us were lucky enough to have a bubbe or a Bertha who left us with a taste for warm blintzes fresh from the pan.

Say ‘grazie’ for ricotta-filled Italian delights


Shavuot begins exactly seven weeks after Passover and brings with it centuries of food traditions.

Because some say milk and cheese symbolize the purity of the Torah, it is the festival when dairy foods are normally served. The holiday also celebrates the spring harvest, a time when a new crop of fresh vegetables and fruits begin to appear.

This year I am inspired to prepare a few of my favorite Italian dishes, which I discovered on one of our trips to Italy. We usually spend two to three months a year there, renting a house and shopping at the local open markets where we find wonderful treasures of fresh vegetables along with a selection of wonderful cheeses, like aged Parmesan and fresh ricotta. There are probably more Italian recipes that contain dairy products than in any other country.

For a fun first course, serve fresh fava beans, which you can find in your open farmer’s market. No recipe necessary, just boil the shelled fava beans, remove the outer skin, toss them in olive oil with diced pecorino cheese, season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture into small cappuccino cups.

Follow with an Onion-Anchovie Pizza, which features an easy-to-make pizza dough. Roll it out very thin and top with a rich and savory mixture of slow-cooked sweet onions and garlic.

Garnish with pungent anchovies, Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Simply bake for 30 minutes in a hot oven, cut into wedges and serve.

When we are cooking in Italy we can’t resist buying zucchini squash blossoms at the marketplace. They make a delicious taste treat for the holiday and are now available. They take a little effort, but are worth it. Fill with a ricotta cheese mixture and when baked they puff up like little pillows.

Risotto is the carrier for almost any ingredient, but spring vegetables are the perfect combination. To be truly delicious it should be made just before serving. It takes exactly 18 minutes to cook and you must stir constantly, while adding broth. Invite your guests to join you in the kitchen, offer them a glass of wine and a chance to stir the risotto.

Individual ricotta cheese souffles are a wonderful dessert. Mix the cheese, egg yolks and lemon zest several hours before the guests arrive. Then after dinner, fold the egg white meringue into the mixture, fill the souffle molds and bake. No one minds waiting a few extra minutes to taste these warm, light and flavorful desserts.

Enjoy Shavuot with your family and friends, and Buon Appetito.

Fresh Fava Beans With Pecorino Cheese
3 pounds fresh, young fava beans (about 2 cups)
1 cup diced pecorino cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Shell fava beans and discard the pods. Parboil the fava beans in boiling water, about five minutes. Cool and pop them out of their skins.

Just before serving, spoon the fava beans and pecorino into a bowl. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bowls or cups.

Makes six to eight servings.

Onion-Anchovy Pizza
Pizza dough (recipe follows)
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds (3 or 4 large) onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cornmeal

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare the pizza dough, cover with a towel and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Do not allow onions to brown. Makes about three cups.

Divide pizza dough in four equal parts and roll one part in a round circle. Brush a round pizza baking dish with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place the onion mixture on the pizza round. Garnish with anchovies in a circular pattern. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top (optional). Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes four pizzas.

Pizza Dough
2 packages active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115 F)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 cup of the water and set aside until foamy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup water, the olive oil and yeast mixture.

Stir in the flour and salt and stir in 1 cup at a time, until the dough begins to come together into a rough ball. Spoon onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, oil its top, cover, and set in a warm place for about 15 minutes, or use immediately.

Ricotta Filled Zucchini Squash Blossoms
20 squash blossoms, with tiny zucchini attached, when available
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks or whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Carefully open blossoms wide and remove the pistils (fuzzy yellow floret) from inside the center of the zucchini blossoms and discard. Set aside.

To prepare the stuffing: In a large bowl, beat the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, and salt until smooth. Taste for seasoning; the mixture should be highly seasoned. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

To fill the blossoms: Spoon the filling into a large pastry bag, or a small spoon will do. Fill the blossoms about three quarters full and gently squeeze and twist the petals, over the filling, together at the top.

Brush two 8-by-10-inch baking dishes with olive oil and arrange the stuffed zucchini flowers in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the blossoms with salt, pepper and olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until cheese is puffy and the juices that run from the blossoms begin to bubble.

Slicing the Kosher Cheese Market


At a cheese plant in Compton, Rabbi Avraham Vogel, a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) from OK supervision, adds a bucket of culture to a 780-gallon bath of hot milk. A table nearby is spread with cheese curd, which a worker cuts and then puts through a cooker stretcher that bathes the curd in hot water and then stretches it to produce the stringiness endemic to mozzarella cheese. Another worker slowly dips a small plastic ladle into a giant vat of small lumpy curds swimming around in yellowish whey. These are curds of ricotta cheese, which is made from the milk after the mozzarella has been extracted. The smell of hot milk is overpowering and soporific.

This production will yield 12,000 pounds of cheese for a small company called Anderson International Foods (AIF) that is trying to carve out a portion of the kosher cheese market for itself.

Brigitte Mizrahi, a French woman who now lives in Los Angeles, co-founded AIF in 1995 with the aim of producing quality kosher cheeses in attractive packages. The company currently sells kosher cheese under four labels: Natural and Kosher, which makes Mozzarella and Ricotta cheese; Les Petits Fermier, which produces "everyday" cheese such as Colby and Monterey Jack; Monsey Dairy, a line of specialty cheese such as Swiss cheese and Havarti; and La Chèvre, which is a line of goat cheese made from the milk of Chilean goats. Although AIF distributes several millions of dollars worth of cheese every year to kosher markets, supermarkets, restaurants and industrial clients, making a real dent in the kosher cheese market is a task that faces several obstacles.

Unlike other foods, which only require kosher certification of the ingredients and machinery in order to be considered kosher, cheese needs an onsite mashgiach who supervises all aspects of the production and who participates in the cheesemaking process. In that sense, cheese is like wine. Although a wine can be made of all kosher ingredients, it will not be considered kosher if made by a non-Jew without Jewish supervision.

The apocryphal story is that cheese was invented 6,000 years ago after an unknown Arab took a walk across the desert carrying milk for the journey in a pouch made of the stomach lining of a cow. When he arrived at his destination, the milk had coagulated, leaving him with cheese curds and whey. The stomach lining of an animal — which contains a chemical known as rennet casein — has been used in cheesemaking ever since, and it was for this reason that the Talmudic rabbis prohibited eating hard cheese that was not made by Jews. The rabbis feared that unless properly supervised, the rennet would come from either a non-kosher animal or an incorrectly slaughtered animal, which would make it non-kosher. Today, although many cheeses are made without animal rennet (cheesemakers use a microbial rennet instead) the prohibition against eating products of non-Jewish cheese production still stands.

Kosher cheese is thus known as gvinas Yisroel (cheese made by a Jew). There are many Orthodox Jews who use a still stricter stringency when it comes to dairy products known as cholov Yisroel (Jewish milk), which requires all milk and milk products to be supervised by a Jew from the time of milking — again, to prevent drinking kosher milk that might have been contaminated by non-kosher milk. (Two AIF cheese lines — Natural and Kosher and Le Chevre — are cholov Yisroel in addition to being gvinas Yisroel.)

The kosher hard-cheese market — as opposed to soft cheese, such as cottage cheese or cream cheese — is valued at $50 million a year, and is increasing at a rate of 40 percent annually, according to Kosher Food Industry reports published in 2000. However, industry experts say it is unlikely that kosher cheese consumption will ever come close to mainstream cheese consumption, due to laws of kashrut dictating that consumers need to wait six hours after eating meat before they eat dairy, and many large Orthodox families are too price conscious to shell out for expensive specialty cheese items.

However, new companies like AIF face fierce competition from World Cheese, a Brooklyn-based company that experts say controls 70 percent of the kosher cheese market. World Cheese currently distributes Haolam, Migdal and Millers brand of cheese. Sholom Halpern, sales and marketing director of World Cheese said the company distributes 8,000 packets of cheese every week in California alone. Another spokesman for the company, who declined to be named, said they are unfazed by competition.

"We pride ourselves on fair pricing, and one of the reasons why many a competitor have had a hard time breaking into the market is that to undercut us they would be working at cost," he said. "And the market for kosher dairy is much smaller than you and I think."

But AIF has grown by 50 percent every year that the company has been operating, and they are planning to develop other lines of luxury cheese such as Camembert and Parmesan.

Although Goodis has no illusions about becoming the next Miller’s cheese, she is confident that her cheese is good enough to win over many kosher consumers.

"We are trying to make people realize that there is good kosher cheese," she said. "There is a market for kosher specialty cheese, and it is starting to develop more and more."

By Journal Staff


Three Rabbis were talking over a regular Sunday morning breakfast get-together.

Rabbi Ginsberg said, “We have such a problem with mice at our shul. The shammos sets all kinds of baited traps but they keep coming back. Do either of you learned men know how I can get rid of these vermin?”

The second Rabbi Cohen replied, “We have the same problem at our synagogue. We’ve spent all kinds of gelt on exterminators, but the problem still persists. Any suggestions?”

The third Rabbi, Rabbi Slosberg, looked at Rabbi Ginsberg and Rabbi Cohen, and told the following story:

“Rabbis, we had the same problem with mice at our synagogue. We tried traps, exterminators, even prayers; but nothing worked. Then one Shabbat, I went to the synagogue about an hour before services started. I brought a big wheel of yellow cheese and placed it in the center of the bimah. Well, soon hundreds of mice appeared on the bima and headed for the cheese. While they were feasting on the cheese, I Bar Mitzvah’ed all of them. I’ve never seen any of them in shul again.”

Cooking Corner


Q: Why do we all love Shavuot?

A: It’s the cheese!

Bella Greenfield’s Rugelach

I loved my mother’s cheesecake and blintzes. But, most of all, I loved her rugelach. Here is the recipe for you to make with the help of an adult:

Dough

1 cup cream cheese

1 cup butter

2 cups flour

Pinch of salt

Filling

You can use any chocolate spread. My personal favorite is Nutella.

You can make cinnamon sugar by mixing equal parts of sugar and cinnamon. My mother always added crushed walnuts to the mix. That was my favorite filling.

Mix dough ingredients. You may have to chill it for 20 minutes or so to make it easier to handle.

Separate the dough into 3-inch balls. Roll out each ball to form round pizza-like circles about 1/4 inch thick. Now, use a knife to cut the circle into triangles, the way you would cut a pizza. You’ll get anywhere from eight to 16 triangles, depending on how large the circle is.

Spread the filling all over the circle.

Roll each triangle up separately, from the widest to the narrowest part of the triangle. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350° F for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Butter

Did you know you can make your own butter? All you need is some heavy (whipping) cream and a glass jar. Pour the cream into the jar and shake, shake, shake. At some point, the cream will separate into butter and liquid. Pour out the liquid and you’ve got butter!

Torah Blintzes

If your mom and dad are planning on making or buying blintzes for Shavuot, why not try this appropriate presentation:

Place two blintzes on a plate, about 3 inches apart. These will be the two sides of the Torah scroll. Fill in the middle with whipped cream from a spray can to create the effect of the open Torah scroll. To top it off, place a baby carrot above and below each blintz to make the Torah scroll handles.

B’teiavon! Bon Appetit!

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