Sufganiyot: Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

Day Three 12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Ostrovitsky-sufganiyot1581

Sufganiyot in the window of Ostrovitsky Bakery in Midwood.

dec8POTATO LATKES FRIED IN HOT OIL may be the iconic dish to eat at Hanukkah, but we hold a special place in our heart for sufganiyot, the deep-fried jelly-filled donut that Israelis go crazy about during this holiday. In The Book of Jewish Food, author and food scholar Claudia Roden tells us that the “Austro-Hungarian peasant carnival doughnut, which became a “royal” delicacy at the French court of Marie Antoinette has been adopted in Israel to celebrate Hanukkah because it is fried in oil”—oil to commemorate the miracle of a small flask of oil keeping the flame in the Temple alight for eight days. Like many famous dishes, though, its origins are the subject of Talmudic debate. 

But never mind about that. How do I get my hands on some? The answer you’ll hear from Brooklyn connoisseurs will more likely than not be Ostrovitsky Bakery in Midwood. “We make thousands of them at Hanukkah,” the bakery owner tells me when I pay a visit, “thousands. We’ve been doing it every Hanukkah for 18 years.” To get a jump on the lines that will later form out the door, I bring home a supply to do a little early taste-testing with my friends. Our verdict: Maybe you could almost feed a family with one of them…but Hanukkah only comes once a year. Sweet, scrumptious.

Mile-End-Sufganiyot

Sufganiyot, in The Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen. (Photo by Quentin Bacon)

Mile End Delicatessen in Boerum Hill has developed quite a fan club, too, for its sufganiyot, but sadly there will be none this year, co-owner Rae Bernamoff tells us. Sad for us, maybe; she certainly has bigger problems: Mile End’s central commissary kitchen, where it does all its baking (and curing and smoking and pickling) was flooded during Sandy. It’s in a Civil War era building on Pier 41 in Red Hook and “as with most of the waterfront,” she said, “the high tide surge pushed about four feet of water into our space. We’re still rebuilding.”

mile-end-book-coverAs a consolation, and to show solidarity, head to the deli itself for what sounds like a gut-busting $16 “surf and turf” latke special:  two open-faced latkes—potato, celery root and parsnip pancakes—one topped with chopped liver, pickled eggs and gribenes (chicken or goose skin cracklings), the other with creamy whitefish salad with trout roe.

And if your heart is really set on some Mile End sufganiyot, then you’ll have to make them yourself. You’ll find the recipe in the very appetizing The Mile End Cookbook, by Noah and Rae Bernamoff. Latkes, too, and a lot more dishes “redefining Jewish comfort food.”

One more stop: Brooklyn Larder in Park Slope also has tasty jelly donuts (along with a full Hanukkah catering menu) but shhh, don’t tell anyone, they’re baked not fried.

Ostrovitsky Bakery
1124 Avenue J, Midwood
718-951-7924
The bakery is Shomer Shabbos: closes before sundown on Friday, reopens on Sunday. 

Mile End Delicatessen 
97A Hoyt St, Boerum Hill
718-852-7510 

Brooklyn Larder 
228 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope 
718-783-1250

Photograph (top) by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Bauhaus, by Ed Benguiat and Victor Caruso, ITC, 1975.

Fresh Fish, Smoked Fish—Any Way You Like It

Day Two  12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to 5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum.


Wouldn’t this make a perfect tile in the subway station at Sheepshead Bay, home to Brooklyn’s
own 50-boat fishing fleet? But no, the mosaic is by an unknown Roman artist, 3rd to
5th century A.D. Found in Tunisia, it now resides in Brooklyn Museum. (Photo courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

dec7THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES is an Italian Christmas Eve celebration with as many interpretations as there are families and regions of Italy—and Brooklyn. If you want to create your own feast, you have a treat in store: Mermaid’s Garden, Brooklyn’s first CSF, or Community Supported Fishery, is opening its holiday store to the public. (CSF members—including some Brooklyn Artisan folks—sign up for a weekly drop of delicious sustainable fish and seafood, much of it caught in local waters.) The holiday store will have live Montauk lobsters, Montauk Pearl and wild Maine Belon oysters, fish fillets, clams, squid and more. How about Siberian sturgeon caviar?! The online store is open from Saturday, December 8 to Monday, December 17. Pickup will be at four Brooklyn spots on Saturday, December 22.

For full details about the fish (and fishermen), how to buy, and addresses for pickup, go to the Mermaid’s Garden website.  And on the Mermaid’s Garden Facebook page, you’ll find wonderful recipes from co-owner and chef Mark Usewitz.

If you’d rather someone else do the cooking, Chef Saul Bolton will be serving a Feast of the Seven Fishes on Dec. 24 at his Michelin-starred Saul Restaurant in Cobble Hill, as he has for the last eight years—and for the first time this year, he tells us, at his new Italian restaurant, Red Gravy, in Brooklyn Heights. Call 718-935-9842 for more information on menus and for reservations.

mackerel-squid-bensonhurst

Mackerel and squid at a Bensonhurst fish market, where you could also find sardines and eel,
popular choices for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Don’t forget, too, that Brooklyn is known as the smoked fish capital of America. Acme Smoked Fish has been at the center of that world since the early 1900s when Harry Brownstein, an emigrant from Russia, took a job as a “wagon jobber,” picking up hot fish from smokehouses with his horse-drawn wagon and hand-delivering them to small grocery and appetizing stores. Eventually he got his own smokehouse, which four generations later has grown into a Brooklyn institution that smokes, cures, slices, packs and ships 7 million pounds of fish a year.

Acme Smoked Fish and their more recent brand, Blue Hill Bay, are both for sale at the company's Fish Friday.

Acme Smoked Fish and Blue Hill Bay smoked seafood are both available at wholesale prices at the company’s Fish Friday.

The fish, which except for the sturgeon is certified kosher, is sold all around the city (Zabar’s, Costco)—and well beyond. But for a real feel for where it comes from—and great bargains—get yourself out to the Greenpoint plant on a Friday morning between 8 and 1, the only time sales are open directly to the public. A room just off the plant floor is filled with racks of smoked whitefish, boxes of brook trout, smoked salmon laid out on the table—all perfect for holiday entertaining.

Mermaid’s Garden
info@mermaidsgardennyc.com 

Saul Restaurant
140 Smith Street, Cobble Hill
718-935-9842

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation
25-56 Gem Street, Greenpoint
718-383-8585

Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Mrs Eaves, by Zuzana Licko, Emigre, 1996.

Not Just Any Festive Ham

Day One  12 Tastes of Brooklyn
Brooklyn Cured's Mangalitsa ham sits around in brown sugar and bourbon for a week before being smoked. (Photo courtesy Brooklyn Cured)

Brooklyn Cured’s Mangalitsa ham sits around in brown sugar and bourbon for a week before
being smoked. (Photo courtesy Brooklyn Cured)

dec6CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS BY THE FIRE, SECRET GIFT GIVING IN THE NIGHT, candy canes, giving to those in greatest need—these are all customs that can be traced to dear St Nick. So what better day than St. Nicholas Day to begin planning Christmas dinner? We have our eye on a traditional ham for our table this year. We knew we could find an excellent hickory-smoked one ($3.69/lb for a 10- or 20-lb ham) at Eagle Provisions, a Polish market in Sunset Park that’s been around since 1935 and is now run by the Zawisny family.

But this year our heads have been turned by Brooklyn Cured’s Smoked Mangalitsa Ham. You may know Brooklyn Cured’s sausages and paté from various markets, restaurants and small grocers around town. Founder Scott Bridi grew up in an Italian-American family in Bensonhurst. He ran the charcuterie program at Gramercy Tavern for two years before going on to Marlow and Daughters butcher shop and then starting his own company. His boneless smoked ham starts out as a Mangalitsa pig, a rare woolly Hungarian breed that almost disappeared and is much prized by chefs. The ones Bridi uses are raised on Mosefund Farm in Branchville, NJ. “They have an unparalleled richness and red-meat qualities that are beyond crave-worthy!” he says. Bridi cures the ham for a full week in brown sugar and bourbon. Then it’s gently smoked with applewood, while being coated with a maple-bourbon glaze. (To reheat, take ham out of refrigerator for half an hour, then put in a 275º oven for 30 to 40 minutes.)

Hungry yet? The Mangalitsa hams are $14/lb; sizes range from 3 to 7 pounds. To order, stop by the markets Brooklyn Cured is at, or e-mail scott@brooklyncured.com. (Be sure to include your name, contact information, size of ham, and the market where you’d like to pick up).

The order deadline for Christmas is Dec. 16. Pickup is on Sundays at the Park Slope Community Market on 5th Ave and 4th Street from 10 am to 4 pm and New Amsterdam Market from 11 am to 4 pm. Give as much notice as you can; a week is preferable, although it is possible if you order on a Wednesday, there will be a ham ready for Sunday pick up.

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Eagle Provisions, a great source for ham and kielbasa, may be even better known for its selection of beers—2,000+ including many Brooklyn, New York and international craft ales.

There even may be a few mighty Mangalitsas available on a first-come, first-serve basis on Dec. 23 at Park Slope and New Amsterdam Markets, but really, would you want to risk it?

Brooklyn Cured
917-282-2221
scott@brooklyncured.com

Eagle Provisions
628 5th Avenue, Sunset Park
718-499-0026

Photograph (right) by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Avant Garde, by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnese, ITC, 1970.

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