Are you finding life tough this week? I am. We're grieving — tears are never seem far away and focus is elusive.
But we still have to eat and feed our families, so I’ve gathered some of my most comforting recipes for today, tomorrow, Shabbat and beyond.
Some are super simple and others require a little more attention. But that's a good thing — there's nothing more mindful than chopping, stirring, kneading and braiding. A welcome diversion from reality. Just make sure to listen to your favourite playlist and not news while you prep.
And perhaps think about making extra portions for friends — a mitzvah for those who might be also be grieving, anxious or perhaps volunteering their time to aid Israel.
1. Sweet sumac ptitim pudding — there is nothing quite so comforting, especially for Israelis as the tiny, toasted pearl-shaped pasta. Amir Batito’s creamy recipe adds labaneh and sugar for a warm hug in a bowl. Top with stewed apples for total bliss.
2.Chicken Schnitzel —Denise Phillips’s crunchy schnitzel sandwich complete with a cabbage and apple tahini slaw and a schmear of mustard mayo is perfect on slabs of toasted challah. Swap in sourdough for extra bite — either way it’s the perfect lunch or supper.
3. Challah — The smell of challah baking is without question the most comforting scent you’ll ever get a whiff of. Add fruit and spice and it’s next level. My plaited dried apple cinnamon mini rolls take a bit of mindful braiding, but that’s what we’re here for right?
4. Chicken Soup — There’s no argument that for the majority of us, chicken soup, cannot be beaten as a prime source of calming comfort. It’s known as Jewish penicillin but the nostalgic calming vibes it produces should maybe also make it Jewish Valium. Sharing my tried and tested recipe which you can watch me make on the JC’s You Tube channel — a definite distraction.
5. Kugel — If you grew up eating kugel it will instantly take you back to happier times. But if (like me) you didn’t, who doesn't love anything involving crisp and crunchy baked potatoes. Like a giant latke with a gooey melting middle, Adeena Sussman’s extra crispy kugel inspired by her Bubbe is the perfect side for your Friday night and hopefully some left over to pick at straight from the dish.
6. Crumble — Ok, not so Jewish, but a regular parev go-to for us English balaboostas for Friday nights. It's super quick to make with easy-to-find ingredients. Take time rubbing your flour and butter (or non-dairy spread) into lovely, lumpy rubble that when baked will form deliciously crunchy nuggets. The combination of pear and chocolate turns this into even more of a treat, but sub in apples if you prefer, or any similar quantity of seasonal or frozen fruits.
7. Babka — Straight out of Eastern Europe and made popular by modern Jewish bakers, babka is the ultimate indulgence — just what we need at the moment with a strong cup of coffee. This chocolate halva version from Orly Ziv will keep your mind and fingers busy while you braid and shape it.
8. Chopped Liver — Made with love, Shiri Kraus’s chopped liver is rich with sweet, caramelised onions and lashings of shmaltz. Not health food, but that’s not why you’re here, right? And when she says it’s the best recipe you can trust her.
9. Salt Beef — A moreish, meaty favourite — layer it between two slices of rye bread with mustard or serve thickly sliced with a side of chips and crunchy pickles. Nothing like the Ashkenazi treat for a haimish hug. Anne Shooter's recipe is simple and delicious.
10. Pecan brownies — Also veering off track slightly, but nothing is as comforting as a brownie. Roy Levy's pecan packed recipe is my top pick from The JC's archives. There are so many more, but I have fond memories of pecan picking in the gardens of Israeli relatives, which is why this version won.
I've know I've missed so many more favourites — kneidlach; lokshen pudding; cheesecake and strudel to name a few. Feel free to share your favourites with me at email@example.com