Although we are not Hungarian, our family loved sour cherry soup. Go know it was a Hungarian recipe and not one from the Ukraine whence hailed one side of our family. This recipe comes from THE NOSHER.
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cinnamon stick
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened sour or tart cherry juice
1 cup water
2 (1/2-inch) strips lemon zest
24 ounces or 2 jars pitted sour cherries in liquid
Strain liquid from jarred cherries into a saucepan (there should be about 2 1/2 cups liquid), reserving cherries. Add unsweetened sour cherry juice, water, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for ten minutes.
While mixture is simmering, combine 1 cup sour cream and flour in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk and reserve. Remove cherry liquid from heat, remove lemon zest and cinnamon, and cool slightly, about three minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of the cooled cherry liquid to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in cooled cherry liquid until combined, add reserved cherries, and simmer for five minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and chill at least two hours. Ladle into bowls and top with additional sour cream, if desired.
In: General Topics, Kosher Kitchen, Kosher Recipes
FROM FAILED MESSIAH
Zionist Orthodox Jerusalem Chief Rabbi’s Office Burglarized In Ongoing Fight Over Control Of The City’s Official Kosher Supervision Company
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
It reads like something out of an American political scandal from early 1970s. Dirty tricks. An office burglarized and sensitive information stolen. But this isn’t Washington, DC – it’s Jerusalem, and players involved are almost all rabbis.
Jerusalem had no chief rabbis for more than a decade due to political infighting between various haredi and Zionist Orthodox factions. That impasse was finally overcome earlier this year, and now former Sefardi haredi Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar is the city’s Sefardi Chief Rabbi, and the city’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi is a prominent Zionist Orthodox rabbi, Aryeh Stern.
As Chief Rabbi, Stern is in charge of the city’s official kosher supervision – at least on paper. But the haredi rabbis who ran it for the past decade or more are refusing to cooperate with Stern.
According to a report in Yeshiva World, Stern asks for documents but never receives them. His every move to oversee the kosher supervision is thwarted from within. And Stern’s office was burglarized and the little information he had managed to gather on the kosher supervision’s operations was taken.
Stern has now reportedly asked the haredi Sefardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef to intervene. In a letter to Yosef, Stern talks about the burglary and notes the thieves took the list of mashgichim (kosher supervisors) employed by the Jerusalem Rabbinate. Stern says that besides the lack of cooperation from the kosher supervisions top staffers and from the Jerusalem Religious Council they answer to (in part), he found a number of unacceptable practices carried out by the kosher supervision.
Based on all of that, Stern’s letter reportedly asks Yosef to have the Chief Rabbinate of Israel intervene immediately. Otherwise, Stern said he would have to announce that he no longer takes responsibility for the kosher supervision – meaning the public will know that it is running without the oversight of its elected rabbinic head.
Stern also reportedly sent a similar letter to the Minister of Religious Affairs David Azoulai of the Sefardi haredi Shas Party Yosef’s late father founded and led until his death in late 2013.
In: General Topics, Kosher News
FROMTHE JEWISH WEEK
Some kosher cheese lovers are about to be very disappointed.
A couple of months ago, they learned that a kosher-certified cheese factory in Italy, Bertinelli’s, was producing a new and authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, the so-called “king of cheeses.” The hard, salty cheese would hit the market by the end of the year, according to news reports.
But then the Orthodox Union, the world’s largest kosher certifier, announced that it won’t be recognizing Bertinelli’s cheese as kosher. That could disappoint kosher cheese lovers and have a big impact on U.S. sales of the cheese maker’s new kosher offering, potentially cutting down on the number of buyers who currently make up a market that’s worth about $12.5 billion according to the kosher marketing consulting firm Lubicom.
Caseficio Colla, a “latticini” in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, makes a kosher parmesan that’s available stateside. Their “Gran Duca” line of both Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano is certified by Shalom Elmaleh, a Chabad rabbi located in Milan. It’s for sale here in New York only at Zabar’s in Manhattan and Benz’s in Crown Heights – but it’s the only one.
“Our kosher shoppers are always on the lookout for better and better cheeses, and why shouldn’t they be?” said Olga Dominguez, the cheese buyer at Zabar’s. She said she was one of the first buyers of the Gran Duca line, and that while it’s proven very popular, Zabar’s shoppers would likely leap at the chance to sample another parm out of Italy. But at the moment, it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to try it.
That leaves them schlepping to Zabar’s or Benz’s; settling for kosher Romano cheese, easier to find than parmesan or settling for a bag of grated so-called “parmesan,” which may or may not taste like the real deal.
That’s why news of the Bertinelli cheese factory’s new kosher parmesan — first reported by Ha’aretz in April — piqued eaters’ interest.
But on June 10, the OU issued this advisory: “Recent media reports stated that there is a new Parmigiano Reggiano cheese made with kosher animal rennet which will be recognized as kosher by the Orthodox Union. These reports are inaccurate. The Orthodox Union reviewed the kosher status of animal rennet and determined that currently there is no animal rennet that meets OU kosher standards for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses made with animal rennet are, therefore, not considered kosher by the OU.”
The debate boils down to animal rennet. Like many European countries, Italy takes its native foodstuffs very seriously. A government agency vets products like wine, olive oil and cheese and assigns those that are authentic, and produced only under the most stringently traditional methods, an official label: denominazione di origine protetta. Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is D.O.P., and one of the requirements for that designation is that the cheese be set with animal-derived rennet, as per thousands of years of tradition.
And that explains why real-deal parm uses rennet — a coagulating agent that solidifies the liquid milk into a hard cheese — that’s made from enzymes that are found in ruminant animals’ stomachs. Microbial “rennet” — the fungus-derived rennet substitute that has increasingly been used in kosher cheese making over the past few decades —doesn’t fly in Italia. And so a tiny handful of producers has been certified by Italian rabbis to set their cheese with true rennet that comes from shechita, or kosher-slaughtered animals. But while in the grand scheme of things microbial rennet cheeses are brand-new — they’ve only become widely available over the past 20 years — in the U.S. they’ve almost completely replaced kosher rennet cheeses. And the OU errs on the side of caution by only certifying the fungus-derived kind.
“After the Bloomberg article ran, we were getting a lot of calls from people asking if this cheese really was kosher,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the OU’s chief operating officer. “Understandably, people are anxious to enjoy this product. But we felt we had an obligation to the community to tell them that we wouldn’t be certifying this cheese.”
“The issue is obvious,” Rabbi Elefant continued. “Since ancient times everywhere, and today in Europe still, the milk used in cheese making is coagulated with animal rennet. Microbial rennet is fairly new. But the stance of the OU is that there’s a real issue with using animal rennet in milk. I mean, mixing milk with meat is the number one sin in kosher law.”
Rabbi Elefant explained that while in ancient times animal rennet was used in kosher cheese making, there were strict Talmudic codes that dictated exactly how the rennet was processed. The animal stomachs used in cheese making had to be dried to an almost wood-like state, ground into a powder, then re-activated with an acid.
“In order for us to allow an animal rennet to be used, it would have to go through that process,” Rabbi Elefant said. “Reviewing it, it doesn’t quite meet our standards,” he said. In fact, the OU doesn’t currently certify any animal rennet cheeses.
Rabbi Zushe Blech is a kosher consultant, formerly of the OU, and the author of Kosher Food Production. An expert on kosher cheese making, he explained that the suitability of animal rennet kosher cheese is “a thousand-year-old question.”
“There’s a question of whether you can make kosher rennet in the first place,” Rabbi Blech said, “if for no other reason than you can’t mix milk with meat. This is an old question.”
The issue still divides the kosher community, Rabbi Blech explained. While some rabbis — like the ones who will presumably certify Bertinelli’s new cheese, for example, or like Rabbi Elmaleh, the Italian rabbi who certifies the popular Gran Duca line — give the a-ok to properly processed animal rennet cheeses, many others, like the OU, try to keep things simpler for the consumer by only certifying microbial rennet cheeses. Of the hard kosher cheeses available today, the vast majority don’t use animal rennet.
While the OU might not embrace today’s crop of animal rennets as kosher, many consumers certainly do.
“If the kosher supervision is legitimate and one that I hold by, then that’s fine for me,” Alyssa Kaplan of New Jersey, who regularly shops at Zabar’s, said. “I don’t only eat OU foods.” Kaplan is a big fan of the Gran Duco parm—“I love it, it’s the greatest,” she said–but she’d still be interested in trying out what a competitor has to offer.
Kaplan is an active member of the foodie discussion group Chowhound, where, on the Kosher board, cooks and eaters post about the best kosher products. The board’s members, who are heavily based in the tri-state area, tend towards adventurousness in their eating habits.
She said she’d definitely try to the Bertinelli cheese – but she and other kosher foodies might not get the chance.
The OU’s ruling on Bertinelli’s new parmesan could hurt its ability to get picked up by distributors in the U.S., according to Menachem Lubinsky, president and CEO of the aforementioned Lubicom.
“Having the OU certify a product opens that product to a broad market,” he said. “[Bertinelli] is not going to be able to reach a much broader audience.” So far, the kosher groceries in New York don’t seem to have heard of the Bertinelli cheese — buyers at Zabar’s, Benz’s and Pomegranate hadn’t heard of it — and without OU certification, these stores’ distributors might never get a hold of it.
“Rennet is traif,” said a woman who would only identify herself as Malka, on a recent weekday afternoon in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, at Empire Kosher, a large grocery store on Empire Boulevard. The brightly lit cheese aisle was bustling, but there were no animal rennet cheeses to be found. “And I’m sure that if you asked around in the community, 99 percent of shoppers here make sure that the foods they buy have an OU certification,” Malka added.
The OU is famous for its rigor, Lubinsky noted.
“This is not an isolated incident,” he said. “The OU just has tougher standards. While you can often rely on certain leniencies in Jewish law, the OU takes the highest common denominator when it comes to certifying. And apparently, that’s what they’re doing here.”
Time will tell how widely Bertinelli’s parmesan gets distributed in the U.S., even without OU certification. After all, Lubinsky noted, it is a kosher-certified cheese, just not according to the OU. For that reason, there will likely market for the cheese, albeit a small one.
“It could very well be a niche-market item,” Lubinsky said, “but there will be people out there who want to try it.”
We know the rabbi’s reputation and his standards. We would eat cheese under his supervision.
In: General Topics, Kosher New Products, Kosher News
Here is a product whose time has come! Now you can prepare hummus in your own home in minutes. Hamsa Hummus comes in a dry powder form. It contains no preservatives. In minutes you will have a super wonderful hummus mix.
You just pour 4 TBSP of water in a bowl, add 1 TBSP of Hamsa Hummus mix, stir, add your favorite seasonings along with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.
The dry mixture does not require refrigeration.
Certified kosher Pareve by Badatz