Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Two Shikses and a Seder

Shikse.  As defined by Marsha Richman and Katie O'Donnell in their hilarious book "The Shikse's Guide to Jewish Men,"  it means "a non-Jewish female, but why hold it against her?"

I became acquainted with this book just before I married Henry, courtesy of his (our) beloved Uncle Ander.  I think he wanted to warn me.  But oh, the tidbits in this book!  Here's a sampling:

The Jewish man's first glimpse of a shikse's refrigerator might make him think she's on welfare.
Uh-huh.  When I first met Henry the only things in my refrigerator were cottage cheese
and a bottle of cheap rot-gut Gallo wine.
I have mended my ways since then.

To the Jewish man, throwing away bread is a sin.
Yep.  It kills him.  I, however, think nothing about cleaning out the fridge.  Of course, he's lucky if there's bread around here in the first place.

On the same day he buys you an expensive watch, he goes to the 25-cent sale at the drugstore and buys a year's worth of stuff.
Well, actually that would be Sam's club.  Such a guy thing!

A few facts about a Shikse:
She was raised on Wonder Bread.
She never had her nose fixed.
She thinks Louis Vuitton is an exotic wine.
Her chicken soup was Campbell's tomato.
She eats corned beef on white bread.  With mayo.
She's the only one who will listen at the Seder.

Well, items 1, 2, 4 and 6 apply to me.  And if it counts, my mom still eats corned beef with mayo.

After 25 years of marriage to a Jewish man:
His relatives now think you were Jewish all along (yup).
You serve strawberry jam and use only Hellman's mayonnaise (unless I make it).
You run the homeless shelter at the synagogue (yeah, I did that).
You run a dynamite seder (yeah, I do that, too).

Which brings me to Passover.  We've spent the last ten years celebrating it with our dear friends Ross and Sue.  A multitude of others are involved, including my (non-Jewish) mom, Sue's parents and a rotating roster of friends and family.  Every year I say I'm never making gefilte fish again and the next year I do it anyway.  I think Ross has similar thoughts, since she has to host both seders (yeah, we do first night and second night) at her house.  It's exhausting.  It's exhilarating.

It's also ironic because Ross and I do all of the cooking - and we're the shikses.  Well, at least I used to be.

Even Mom likes the gefilte fish!

That said, we put on a damn good seder.  Of course, it's helped by the fact that Sue is a wine distributor and there is a plethora of amazing wine (*KE).  Haha, maybe that's why my gefilte fish tastes so good!
A seder just wouldn't be the same without kids!

Ross is a fabulous cook.  She makes a cauliflower kugel that ROCKS!  Replace the matzoh meal with bread crumbs and I would be happy to eat this any time of the year. 

CAULIFLOWER KUGEL  (from Bon Apetit)

8 cups cauliflower florets (from 2 heads of cauliflower)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups coarsely chopped leeks (about 3 large)
6 tablespoons matzoh meal
3 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Cook cauliflower in a large pot of boiling, salted water until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain, transfer to a large bowl amd mash coarsely with a potato masher.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add leeks and saute until tender.  Add leek mixture to cauliflower.  Mix in matzoh meal. 

In a small bowl beat eggs, 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon dill.  Season assertively with salt and pepper.  Stir into cauliflower.

Brush an 11 x 7 baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Spread cauliflower mixture evenly in prepared dish.  Mix almonds, remaing parsley and dill and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over kugel.  (Can be made up to 8 hours in advance; cover and chill).

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Bake kugel uncovered until just set in center and beginning to brown on top, about 35 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 - 10

*KE - means "kosher enough."  Trust me, none of us are crazy enough to turn down amazing non-kosher wines (like Turley) even if it IS Passover!

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