Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Everything tastes great with bacon, so set your sights for Ann Arbor, Michigan as Zingerman’s Bakery and their community of businesses sponsor their ninth annual 5 days of Camp Bacon from May 30 to June 3.   Zingerman’s has been around since they opened a deli in 1992, known for making great sandwiches from around the world.  They went on to add their fresh baked goods two years later.  What does this all have to do with bacon?

I had the opportunity to interview co-partners Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling after receiving a recipe book titled Zingerman’s Bakehouse as their 25th Anniversary. I also received samples of their delicious goodies, most of which the book includes these recipes.  There are no hidden ingredients, these are the real things. 

Zingerman’s originally started by Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig in a historic building near the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market.  They featured huge corned beef sandwiches, an exceptional array of farmhouse cheeses, estate-bottled olive oils, varietal vinegars, smoked fish, salami, coffee, tea and much, much more.   Now there are 10 separate entities that include a Creamery, mail order, the original deli, a coffee company, candy company, restaurant, and a Korean restaurant called Miss Kim.   

One of their signature sellers is their sour cream coffee cake with walnuts.  Probably even more popular (not in the cook book and not always available) is the Apple Bacon Coffee Cake.   Perfect breakfast start as you get your protein, fruit, and grain in one fell swoop.  “Not your classic Jewish coffee cake,” said Emberling. 

Man cannot live by Roadhouse Bread, alone.   “If you want a great sandwich, you have to make a great bread,” said Carollo. This hearty dark crusty loaf is made with rye flour, cornmeal, wheat and a bit of molasses.  I think it would be a great vehicle for a bowl of their cheddar ale soup.   Roadhouse Bread is just one of a huge line of breads from all over the world. 

Along with baking breads, they decided to include pastries as well leading them into non-stop progress adding a baking school as well.  

Let us turn to something savory like their line of Hungarian foods of which I sampled the rétes (ray-tesh), better known as strudel.  They take their own fresh dough and hand-stretch it over an 8 ft. table until it's thin enough to see through.  It is then folded and layered with melted butter and a sprinkle of bread crumbs, wrapped around fresh fillings.  I chose one stuffed with cabbage arriving with the raw dough so that I could bake it golden brown.  Here were my thoughts.  Although delicious by itself I prepared a sauce made from crushed tomatoes, chopped beef and raisins.   Now I would have the tastings of stuffed cabbage!  Oh yeah, they have a traditional Hungarian potato with bacon. Bacon…!

“We started to research other parts of the world and happened upon Hungary with a developed cuisine,” Emberley said. “There is a large Jewish population of Ashkanazi immigrants and we decided to educate people about the food.  Aside from the retes, we have many pastries such as our great torta cakes.”  

The Creamery produces soft cheeses such as a spicy Pimento Cheese made with cheddar and a Cream Cheese like no other.  It is minus the additives.  I experienced it as a cross between a whipped cream cheese and crème fraiche.   Milk comes locally from Calder Farms and Guernsey Dairy. 

“Our cherries come from Northern Michigan, mainly Traverse City at Cherry Central,” said Emberley.  “Michigan is said to be the largest producers of chestnuts.  In fact, we make chestnut baguettes from the flour coming from the Michigan Chestnut Association.”

Bakehouse Cookbook also features a baker’s dozen of their favorites: Just Rhubarb Rhubarb Pie; Dinkelbrot German Spelt Bread; Bakehouse Bagels; Sicilian Sesame Semolina Bread; Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onions; Somodi Kalacs Transylvania Cinnamon Swirl Bread; Bakehouse Brownies: Black Magic, Magic, and Buenos Aires; Hunka Burnin’ Love Cake; Detroit Style Pizza; Tunisian Orange and Olive Oil Cake; Walnut and Current Rugelach; French Crullers; and Bakehouse Blondies.

Incidentally, along with the recipes, the book includes essays and brief stories on how they work together.  I do not use cook books when I prepare food, but in this case the science of baking makes it necessary if I want to produce the absolute best and delicious goodies.  The bakery is located at 3711 Plaza Drive, 734-761 2095.

Young Artists are the Focus of Latest Marlene Yu Rainforest Art Foundation

Two Queens artists have their work on display at the Rainforest Art Foundation’s “Nature in Art By Young Artists” exhibit.
The exhibit, run by artist Marlene Yu, opened May 5 and will run through June 6 at 35-58 37th St. in Long Island City.
Midori Tanabe lives in Forest Hills and has a background in architecture. Her artwork is on display at the exhibit, including a drawing of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which shows off the area’s submerged trees.

“Some of my work includes drawings in pastels usually about things I find in New York City. Most of my work focuses on architecture and nature,” Tanabe said. “I like drawing on the site because it makes me pay more attention to the details. Being that this is the Rainforest Art Foundation, it is all about appreciating nature through art, so my art is based on the flowers and foliage of the city. Although I prefer drawing indoors as my comfort zone, the outdoor environment gives me a further dimension and can be less suffocating.”
Jenny Liu, of Long Island City, has two copper plate etchings on display at the exhibit, “I Found the Universe in My Backyard” and “Infinity.”
“All of my work tends to come back to nature in some way,” Liu said. “My artwork served as a culmination of my interdisciplinary studies and interests in undergraduate at University of Pittsburgh.”
Liu majored in philosophy and minored in studio arts, as well as chemistry. She is inspired by nature and the world around her.

“I try to better understand the significance of living organisms and what it means to be living,” Liu said.
With “I Found the Universe in My Backyard,” Liu said she tried to show off “the awe and wonder that is universally felt when we immerse ourselves in nature.” “Infinity” is “a study of the states of infinity that can be found in nature,” Liu said.
“After seeing Marlene’s art, I was inspired and felt further connected to these questions and curiosities regarding nature that we both share,” she added. “I am excited to see more of her work and get to know her more because it seems like our artwork comes from similar ways of thinking about nature.”
There are five other artists in addition to Tanabe and Liu who have their work displayed at the exhibit.

Catherine Chang flew in from Atlanta to provide a solo show within the exhibit. The fabric pieces included in her work are naturally hand-dyed with food scraps in order to honor “nature.” The pinks are made from avocados and the yellows from lemon peels. Chang said she is inspired by the spiritual feeling of being out in a naturalistic environment.
Receptive to both her own inner nature and nature’s wisdom, Chang said that she seeks “to explore universal metaphysics and internal feeling in my artwork through line, space, and color” and uses the medium to create a visual language of what she not able to put into words. “I wish that those who connect with my art will find a quieting of the mind and an opening of heart and soul,” Chang said.
Scarlett Chang, Catherine’s sister, also contributed to the exhibit with one drawing of pen on paper. She said her focus is simple and intricate line drawings of flower forms using both pen and watercolor. “The work I create is a product of self expression and creativity used as an outlet for the mundane,” Scarlett said. “Flowers are the main focus of my work and are detailed in the most simplistic nature of pen on paper in order to highlight the work with less emphasis on the medium.”
Ave Salzman, Jinge Xu and Alexander Yu also showed off their work at the exhibit, though they were not present at the opening reception.
Salzman considers herself to be a practicing graphic novelist, painter, and illustrator. She said that she is “deeply passionate about ecology, evolutionary biology and the conservation of species in the earth’s remaining niches of great beauty.” Her exhibit of her “Small Five” series came from volunteering in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which is in Africa.
“I aim to capture that appreciation of nature coupled with the effortless inventiveness of a child, two qualities that are fundamental to human development and happiness,” Salzman said.
Alexander Yu is the youngest of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibit. “During my art elective at school we were instructed to paint a still-life painting using acrylic paints,” he said. “My choices were limitless but I settled on one of my favorite pictures of my dog, the scene setting a sense of serenity as Ella is deep in sleep on soft covers. She embodies still life and peace in oneself.”
Jinge Xu, from the northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, said she is inspired by the colors found in nature, though the art she has on display shows black and white line drawings of whimsical animals.
Those interested in attending the exhibit can stop by the Rainforest Art Foundation Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call the foundation at (917) 682-3630.
Posted 12:00 am, May 12, 20,18


An opening reception at the Rainforest Art Foundation in Long Island City gave attendees a peek at owner Marlene Yu’s latest mural.  At the age of 81 Marlene Yu is still painting murals in her studio.  During the opening reception of the latest exhibit, Nature In Art By Young Artists, a tour of Yu’s artwork revealed the largest mural one piece she had ever painted.  Taking 6 months to complete the 54 foot long, 20 foot high, canvas acrylic was gracefully displayed amongst her extremely talented artwork.  

In order to do complete the happy task, three people were involved, first with the canvas being laid out on the floor.  At one point, the canvas is hauled up onto the wall while her husband, James staples it.  The process continues with Marlene working on a scaffold. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Alternative dishes to serve at your Passover Seder

Are you looking for some Passover alternatives to the usual Seder fare?
Tradition has you eating items such as gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, and a number of other “same old, same old” items, but why not change the menu options to tantalize your palate, especially since there are two consecutive Seder dinners to enjoy?
A tuna and salmon tartare could be an alternative to gefilte fish. For this, you must purchase “sushi grade” fish. You can get this at any fish market, including Crossbay Seashell Seafood in Howard Beach. Call ahead to make sure they have it available. Add chopped avocado, cucumbers, and a bit of vinegar. You can also top it with julienned mangoes.
Fish filets of salmon and either sea bass or scrod can prove to be really tasty for both the taste buds and the eyes by decorating the plate. Prepare an avocado mash and place chopped red peppers and red onions in between the dollops, position it alongside the fish.
Rather than spend the day preparing chicken soup and matzo balls, how about a zucchini soup, instead? A red onion, two chopped potatoes, four chopped zucchinis and five cups of vegetable broth will do. Use an immersion blender or puree in a food processor after it’s cooked. You can always top it with some shredded chicken.
Crepes are great to have for either a savory part of your main meal or dessert. For that, you will need eggs, potato starch, water, sugar and oil for frying. You can prepare and refrigerate for about five days or freeze for about two months. After they are cooled, place between layers of wax paper and paper towel inside a heavy duty zip-top plastic bag.
Gnocchi is another prep-and-freeze idea for either a dairy or meat dish. Potatoes, potato starch and an egg are all you will need. Check out a recipe book for directions. How about gnocchi with wild mushroom or meat sauce? If you are cooking dairy, top the mushrooms with grated cheese. You can also use the gnocchi in a soup as a substitute for the matzo balls.
Jewish people from Spain, Italy, North Africa, Portugal and the Middle East, who are considered Sephardic, are open to using different grains than those who are Ashkenazic, from Eastern Europe. Rice, corn, millet, dried beans, lentil, peas, and peanuts are some ingredients that can be used in Sephardic Passover meals.
Chicken fricassee is a great main dish for a family Seder and the leftovers can be enjoyed a few days after. It is a combination of meatballs and chicken wings. Be creative in the herbs and spices to give it a different country flavor. Serve it over a tasty rice, such as jasmine.
Here is another one for you: lamb kebab in tahini sauce and tomato salsa. Lamb is fine as long as it is not roasted. Marinate the lamb with garlic, olive oil and sumac. Refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight. Prepare tahini sauce by combining the tahini paste with garlic, cold water, lemon juice and chopped mint. For the salsa, use chopped tomatoes, jalapeno pepper (seeded and finely chopped), lemon juice and cilantro. Place the cooked kebab over rice, drizzle the tahini sauce and top with the salsa.
If you are preparing a dairy meal, how about quiche? There are a number of cheeses that are kosher for Passover — including mozzarella for an eggplant parmesan. Cream up your vegetable soups or add some potatoes and sour cream to a bottle of borscht.
How about a Greek salad with grape tomatoes, diced cucumbers, thinly sliced red onions, yellow bell peppers, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese?
Now we come to desserts. If you want to avoid dairy, there is a dessert where you beat egg whites with a sugar until stiff peaks form. Then you beat the yolks in a second bowl with oil, ground almonds, dissolved instant coffee and potato starch. old in the egg white mixture, place in a pan and bake. It will certainly melt in your mouth.
And don’t forget the mandatory four cups of wine.
*Some food ideas were taken from the book, “A Taste of Pesach 2.”


What can be better than having that craved deli meal at Ben’s Kosher Deli followed by a performance by three comics (and guest comic as well)?  David Dczegledi, manager of the location at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, decided to incorporate the comedians with a short choice menu that began with three latkes per person (accompanied by apple sauce).  

It was a sell-out crowd for this second event of dinner and a show that even had former Manager, Hal Simon attending.  Dinner began at 7 pm with the usual rye bread, sour and half sour pickles and cole slaw.  Entrée choices were: brisket of beef, turkey or half of a roasted chicken. Perfect for the crowd attending.  Brisket was quite moist and did not need the gravy.  You then had a choice of a “side” of: kasha varnishkes, mushroom and barley, vegetables, mashed or French fried potatoes. Having attended with another person, we ordered the kasha and mushroom sharing he two.  Unlimited soda or coffee, I just had to have the cream soda, not drinking it since I lived in the Bronx back in the 50’s.  Dessert was rugalach. We each got one chocolate and one raspberry.  

Czegedi did not have to audition the comedians as he employed a company called The Wilshire Comedy Group, run by comic Alan Streisfeld, who hosts comedy shows such as this at restaurants in Long Island.

Upon reading this review, it is important that I share that I have a background of being a comedian, singer, and actress many years ago with theatre, films, and night clubs. I have also taught comedy workshops.  

First up was Alan Kimbarow, who was also introducing the acts.  With his large physique, he began talking about his nickname of “Big Al.”  He apparently was not getting the laughs that he expected and kept mentioning his nickname.  When that didn’t work, he went straight for the sex humor after pausing long enough to figure out what to say.  What is it about male comics not having enough material to not degrade their wives (whether they have them or not) or mother-in-law?  I was personally bored with him and did not find anything he said as being humorous. 

Next came Les Bayer who plays the banjo and delivers one-liners. It was like hearing a less professional version of Henny Youngman without the perfectly timed delivery.  Bayer was only a bit more humorous and still needed to poke fun of his ex-wife and dating with emphasis on the female looking badly.  Get with the times, guys. Women are fighting back this year!  I hope the two of you change your underwear more than you change your material! 

Did the trend end?  At this point I thought I was attending a “showcase” rather than a show. Thank goodness for Peter Bales, who is an Associate Professor of History and Political Science at Queensborough Community College as his “day job.”  In addition Bales teaches comedy with Stand-Up University at the Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore. 

Bales was given the longest amount of time and the audience loved him so much that they were not shy in throwing out their own funny lines. He not only had a great rapport but a pretty funny (but not hilarious) act without having to degrade anyone, taking every opportunity to engage the audience.  It all boils down to the response from the attendees and whether their time proved to be more than just “light-hearted.” 

Dinner goers left happy and with doggy bags. No one cried, “Where’s the beef!” Dczegledi said that he will be scheduling another dinner/show in a few months. I certainly encourage him to do so. We need this type of local evening activity.  Hey, and parking is free.