Jun 202014



The old version of this cake was created by the Romans. This “modern” day version there are several hundreds of years. He was formerly sold by weight in Hungarian pastries that appeared in the Jewish community of London after the war.

For the dough

225g sifted flour
175 gr 4 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
1 tablespoon dessert wine or sherry
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
A pinch of salt

For the filling

900 gr ricotta or cottage cheese sifted
4 tablespoons cream
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon raisins
2 tablespoons of candied orange peel cut into cubes
2 tablespoons slivered blanched almonds
1 egg white beaten with a tablespoon of water

To make the dough, sift the flour and stir in the butter, egg yolks, sugar, wine or sherry, lemon zest and salt. Knead the dough into smooth ball. When smooth, cover it with transparent film and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (or overnight).

Cut a rectangular cake pan 22.5 cm x 32.5 cm piece of parchment paper. Lined paper with flour. Cut the dough into four equal parts. Replace fourth in the fridge and knead again three quarters sets. Roll out the dough until 5mm thick on parchment paper to fit the bottom of the mold. Cut anything over dough and set aside. Put the dough on the parchment paper into the mold. Spread remaining dough into a strip 10 cm wide and wrap it around the rolling pin to power the place on the inner edges of the mold. Assemble the base and sides of the dough into the mold by joining so that the filling can not leak.

Pour the cream cheese, cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, orange zest and egg yolks in a bowl and mix together until the device is homogeneous and smooth. Add the raisins, candied peel and the almonds. Pour this unit into the mold and smooth the surface with a knife.

Spread remaining dough into a rectangle 25 cm x 15 cm. Cut strips 1 cm wide. With a brush, brush with beaten egg white. Shaping a lattice crust on the device. Heat the oven to 180 ° C and bake the cheesecake. Weary cook for 1:15 or until pastry is golden. Cool the cake in the oven for an hour and then a grid. You must remove the mold before the cake cool completely. Finally, let cool in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.

Jun 202014



This was the cheesecake sold in Jewish delis throughout London until the advent of the “modern” cheesecake in the 1990s. The base is made of pastry and the top is covered with a pastry lattice

For the pastry dough

225g/8 oz flour, sifted
175g/6 oz unsalted butter
4 egg yolks
50 g/2 oz caster sugar
1 tablespoon Marsala or sherry
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Pinch of salt
Extra flour for sprinkling

For the filling

900 g/2 lb ricotta or sieved cottage cheese
4 tablespoon double cream
100 g/4 oz caster sugar1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
4 egg yolks1 tablespoon sultanas
2 tablespoons candied peel, chopped
2 tablespoon blanched almonds, slivered
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

To make the pastry dough, sift the flour and beat in the butter, egg yolks, sugar, Marsala or sherry, lemon rind and salt. Knead the dough into a ball. When it is smooth, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut out a piece of baking parchment to fit the base of a 22.5 x 32.5 cm/9 x 13 inch rectangular baking tin with a 5m/2inch high rim. Sprinkle the paper with extra flour. Divide the dough into four equal parts. Return one part to the refrigerator and knead the other three parts together briefly. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm/ ¼ inch on the baking parchment.. Trim off any excess dough and reserve it. Transfer the baking parchment with the rectangle of dough on top to the tin. Roll out half the rest of the dough into a 10-cm/ 4-inch wide strip, and use it to line the rim of the tin, draping it over a floured rolling pin to insert it more easily into the tin. Press the base and sides of the dough together, sealing them so they will hold in the filling.

To make the filling, put the cheese, cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla essence, orange rind and yolks into a bowl and beat well until smooth. Stir in the sultanas, candied peel and almonds. Transfer the mixture to the pastry-lined tin and smooth the surface with a palette knife.

Roll out the reserved dough into a rectangle about 25 cm/10 inches by 15 cm/6 inches. Cut it into 1 cm/½ -inch strips. Brush it with the lightly beaten egg white. Arrange the strips in a lattice pattern over the cake. Bake the cake in a preheated moderate oven (180°C, 350°F, Gas 4) for 1¼ hours, or until the crust is golden. Cool the cake in the oven for 1 hour, then cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

Jun 162014


Doreen Cohen tending to her kosher haggis on the stovetop. Photo: Josephine Bacon.

What is haggis? It has been described in various ways and even classified as fertilizer (!) by customs officials. In fact, it boils down to being nothing more nor less than the Scottish version of kishka. The ingredients are variety meats (usually from mutton) mixed with raw oatmeal and a mixture of spices.

Nothing about the non-Jewish haggis is unkosher except the suet (which is chelev, forbidden fat) used to bind the ingredients; other fat is substituted. Scottish Jews tend to use beef innards as these are easy to obtain from a kosher slaughterer and the flavor is unaffected.

Haggis is the traditional dish cooked to celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, which falls on January 25. Burns wrote an ode to haggis, describing it as the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race.” The haggis is ceremonially presented at the dinner, marched in on a huge tray, preceded by a Scottish piper in full regalia playing the bagpipes. Before the meal, Burns’ verse is read out. The accompaniments to the haggis are “bashed neeps” (finely chopped rutabaga) and “chappit tatties” (creamed potato).

Americans, however much they may feel themselves to be of Scottish descent, tend to eschew this simple fare (though I can assure you it is absolutely delicious). I attended a Burns Night Supper in Los Angeles when I lived there, at which minute quantities of haggis, rutabaga, and creamed potato were served in thimble-sized cups at each person’s plate, the main dish being roast rib of beef and roast potatoes. The diners didn’t know what they were missing!

This being a rather miserable time of year, it is no wonder that Scottish Jews are eager to join in the fun, and many synagogues in Scotland hold their own Burns Supper festivities. The fashion started some thirty years ago, when Simcha Catering, owned by Scotland’s finest kosher caterer, Doreen Cohen, started to receive orders from synagogues all over the country. She is now Scotland’s only kosher caterer and haggis maker; all the food is supervised by Rabbi Moshe Rubin and the West of Scotland Kashrut Commission.

Doreen is now assisted by her son Mark and daughter Juliet, who help her run the business. This year, however, kosher haggis fans were scared of being disappointed. Last April, Mark’s deli, the store and café, were burned to the ground and investigations are continuing as to whether the blaze was accidental or not. The fire was so bad that the building had to be demolished. Yet Mark and his family were up and running Mark’s Deli within a month, at first from a garage, and now from a new address in Glasgow. For the present, Mark’s Deli is only operating as a caterer but Mark assures his loyal following that “the old shop will be rebuilt soon when the cafe will be reinstated.” It is sorely missed by Glasgow’s chicken-soup-and-hot-pastrami-sandwich aficionados!

This year, as usual, Mark Cohen will be exporting his kosher haggis all over the world. He expects to make around 250 pounds of it. He has customers all over Europe (including England) and plenty among Scottish expatriates in Israel who will be celebrating Burns Night from Beer Sheba in the south to Kibbutz Kefar Hanasi in the North. ‎

Mark Cohen represents the fourth generation of kosher deli producers and owners in Glasgow. His Auntie Annie owned the original Cohen’s Deli and his great-great aunt was Sophie Geneen, who ran the legendary Geneen’s restaurant and hotel in the Gorbals district of Glasgow.

Mark regards his kosher food as an important contribution to Scotland’s Jewish life. “My customers have been so incredibly supportive in the most difficult of situations. Also, the local synagogue also allowed me to use their kitchens while mine were out of action, so we can continue to make our food.”

Mark claims, “Yes, I run a business, but it’s more than that, it’s a service for the community. For some people, coming into the deli and buying gefilte fish or a packet of latkes is the only attachment to Judaism they have. They might not have gone to shul for years, but they come to the kosher deli every week!”

Jun 162014

By Josephine Bacon,
Reproduced wth permission from the Jewish Chronicle



There’s more to poppy seeds than a bagel topping
No ingredient says Purim quite so much as poppy seeds.
They are the most traditional Ashkenazi hamantaschen filling.
The tiny blue black or grey seeds were also said to be favoured by Queen Esther while she lived in King Ahasuerus’ palace; her vegan diet allowing her to remain kosher as inconspicuously as possible.
Some believe the word hamantaschen was not in fact a version of Haman’s ears, his pockets or even his hat, but actually either “ha-man” – Hebrew for “the manna” – or “ha-Mon” – Mohn being the German and mon or man the Yiddish words for poppy seed.
For most of us in England, poppy seeds are sadly underused – relegated to a crunchy, if messy, challah or bagel
But in eastern and central Europe they are big news, eaten as a sweet filling – sometimes mixed with nuts – for cakes, strudels and buns. They are also ground and mixed with icing sugar for sprinkling on desserts such as Austrian and Czech steamed dumplings that are filled with plums or the plum butter called powidl or powidla – available from continental delicatessens.
Hungarians enjoy tagliatelle noodles covered in ground nuts and poppy seeds as a breakfast dish.
For savoury recipes, the seeds tend to be left whole and sprinkled over breads or added to salad dressings.
Poppy seed is also a popular European strudel filling; a traditional Christmas Eve treat in Poland is the makovie, a poppy seed roll or strudel, which is also eaten as a shabbat cake in Israel and by Ashkenazim throughout the world.
Poppy seeds are also added to sponge cake mixtures in the same way that caraway seeds were added in Victorian times to the seed cakes that were once so popular but have fallen out of fashion. For these cakes, the poppy seeds do not need to be ground, merely softened in milk.
As a symbol of plenty, poppy seed was a popular ingredient in the traditional wedding cakes of classical Greece. Romans were also fond of them and combined them with honey and garum – fish sauce – that they used to flavour meat.
To use them as a sweet filling or topping – as I have for the cheesecake, above, poppy seeds should be ground.
Grinding brings out their flavour and oils and softens them. So ubiquitously are they used this way in Vienna and Prague, that many supermarkets offer two grinders for customers’ use: one for grinding their own coffee beans and the other specifically for grinding poppy seed.
To grind your own, use a spice-grinder, coffee grinder or even a food processor with a metal blade, although the latter can give varying results. If you have a mini bowl with your food processor or a stick blender with a cup attachment this tends to work best. Special poppy seed grinders can be purchased online for about £30.00.
Like most nuts and spices, they can become dry and lose their flavour with age. In the UK they are also not sold in large quantities so it can be hard to find sizeable bags. Companies like as Steenberg’s and Barts, sell them in small quantities and Steenbergs will supply larger quantities on request. They can also be bought in larger quantities from some kosher grocers, and online.
When you do source them, poppy seeds keep for two or three months if stored in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place – not in the refrigerator.
And despite their infamous reputation as a narcotic, they will not turn you into a drug addict. Opium is found only in the seed capsule and dried sap of the poppy and is virtually absent in the dried seeds.

Photo: Ryan Bartley
Josephine Bacon’s Poppy Seed Cheesecake
This is a Roman and Greek wedding cake — the poppy seeds symbolising fertility. The cake can be cooled and refrigerated without the topping, which can be added later or the next day.
Cheesecake base
100g bulghur wheat
1 tbsp runny honey
25g butter
4 tbsp double cream
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g black poppyseeds, ground
250g thick honey
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
5 eggs, separated
2 tbsp fine matzo meal
750g Quark or curd cheese
100g black poppyseeds, ground
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
50g butter
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
1 tbsp potato flour or cornflour (optional)
For the base: line the bottom of a 23cm springform tin with baking parchment, and butter the sides.
To make the base, rinse the bulghur in water, then cook in accordance to the packet instructions. Drain if necessary and stir in the butter and honey. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of the tin and leave to cool while you make the filling.
Heat your oven to 180°C.
For the filling: put the cream, cinnamon, poppyseeds and honey into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Add the brandy and allow to cool.
When completely cool, beat in the egg yolks, matzo meal and curd cheese.
Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks then fold them into the mixture. Turn the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes. If it is browning too much lightly cover it with foil.
Increase the oven to hot – 220°C – and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cake is firm in the centre.Turn the oven down to 180°C.
Remove the cake from the oven and cool to almost cold. Make the topping by combining the poppy seeds, sugar, butter and brandy if using. Stir them over a low heat until the butter melts. If very liquid add the cornflour and stir over the heat until the mixture thickens. Spread this over the cake.
Return it to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool and chill. Serve chilled.
This is good with canned cherries, orange slices or slices of fresh pineapple.