Food Memories and Recipes for Father’s Day

For Father’s Day, let’s celebrate Dad with some savory recipes and the food memories to go with them. 
June 15, 2023
Slow Cooker Vegan Chili Photo courtesy Melissa Traub

For Father’s Day, let’s celebrate Dad with some savory recipes and the food memories to go with them. 

“My father used to make the best matzah brei,” Deborah Charnes, author of “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram: Wisdom for the Mind, Body and Spirit,” told the Journal. Charnes said her dad was not a fancy cook. A Physical Education major and “coach of everything athletic,” he enjoyed savory food and his dishes were not bland. 

“He fondly recalled the best French onion soups he tasted while serving in France in the aftermath of World War II,” Charnes said. “I think he relished taking a bit of that French flair into making matzah brei.”  To make his special treat stand out, he bathed his matzah pieces in sautéed onion. “Most importantly, he served his signature dish with pride and a big smile on his face,” she said. “Likewise, he gobbled it down with gusto.”

“Knowing my dad, he probably bought the Manischewitz matzah boxes on sale post-Passover.” 

While he never used a recipe, Charnes recreated it below. She added, “Knowing my dad, he probably bought the Manischewitz matzah boxes on sale post-Passover. He would make the matzah brei with lots of onions, year-round.”

Savory Matzah Brei

1 large onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
4 pieces of matzah, broken into bits
6 large eggs, whisked with a table fork
2 Tbsp butter (he never would have
used oil or margarine)

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Toss in the onions with salt and pepper. Sauté till golden, or even darker!
In the meantime, place the matzah bits in a big bowl with the whisked eggs. Let them sit for several minutes to soak up the liquid a bit.
Add the matzah egg mixture into the pan with the sizzling onions, and stir briskly to prevent the egg mixture from congealing and becoming like a frittata.
Serve fresh from the skillet, and savor every morsel.

Like his father and grandfather, Ziggy Gruber is a deli man. Gruber’s grandfather, Max, opened his first deli on Broadway, The Rialto Deli, in 1927. “Our Stuffed Cabbage is an old family recipe that I learned from my Grandfather Max, and he got it from his mother, Rachel.” The chef/owner/deli maven of award-winning Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant & Bakery in Houston, Texas, told the Journal. “This is a very traditional Hungarian recipe that we always shared as a family. 

Part New Yorker (he was born and raised there), part entertainer and part Texan, Gruber moved to Houston more than 20 years ago. Still, his food memories are vivid. His grandmother and grandfather always cooked together and, growing up, he would join in. 

“On Sundays I would go to their house on the Lower East Side and cook this and other dishes for the extended family to have dinner together,” he said. Sometimes it was Gruber’s job to core the cabbage, sometimes he peeled the leaves, sometimes he rolled them. 

“Whatever they had me do, I did it,” he said. “These times with them were special to me then, but mean even more now that I am an adult and they are no longer here.”  

Kenny & Ziggy’s Stuffed Cabbage

1 large cabbage, whole
1 medium cabbage, chopped
2 cups sauerkraut

1-1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 cup rice, cooked
1-1/4 cups finely chopped onion
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 28 oz cans chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato puree
2 cups onions, roughly chopped
2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 tsp sour salt
3 to 4 cups water

Place all sauce ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
Mix all stuffing ingredients and set aside.
In another large pot, bring water to boil. Core out the large cabbage and blanche in the boiling water until soft; remove from water and remove each individual leaf.
Place 6 ounces of meat mixture on each cabbage leaf and fold the sides to the center and roll up, like an egg roll.
Layer the bottom of a disposable half-pan with half of the chopped cabbage, then layer with one cup of sauerkraut. Place cabbage rolls on top then add remaining shredded cabbage then remaining sauerkraut.
Pour sauce on top, cover tightly and place in a 300-degree oven to bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Makes 6-8 stuffed cabbage rolls.

Melissa Altman-Traub’s father loved chili with beans.

“I remember when I was doing my dietetic internship in Cincinnati and he visited how much he enjoyed having the famous chili from Skyline 5 ways,” Altman-Traub, a registered dietitian nutritionist, told the Journal.  While Skyline served chili over spaghetti, topped with shredded cheddar cheese, onions and kidney beans, Altman-Traub’s version is vegan and Kosher. 

“Feel free to use different types of beans,” she said.

Slow Cooker Vegan Chili

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
18 ozs canned diced tomatoes, with juice
15.5 oz low sodium pinto beans
15.5 oz low sodium kidney beans
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp cumin
2 green onions, green parts only, sliced

Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and place the lid on top. Set on high. Cook for about 4 hours. Portion the chili into 4 bowls and top each bowl with sliced green onions.

Happy Father’s Day!

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