Second Helpings? Oh no, I couldn’t possibly.

25 Sep

One of the cookbooks I picked up on my mission to learn to cook traditional Jewish foods was “Second Helpings Please”.  It’s plastic, coil bound spine held promise of many great meals to come.  I bought it at a Judaica shop while my husband and I were trying to purchase a new menorah for our table last December.  Flipping through it, it seemed like a version of The Joy of Cooking.  The man behind the counter assured me that “every good wife must have this.”  Well.  Never one to back down from a challenge, I bought one.


On the first page of this book, I am reassured that this edition includes the ever popular ‘One Helping Please’.  Now, I am not too excited about cooking recipes that people can only stand one helping of, so I’m just going to skip that section.  As well as Microwave Basics. 

‘Second Helpings Please’ is a book that has been around a while, it would appear, and it has a rich history.  The first printing was in 1968.  The book is sold to raise funds for Jewish Women International and their very worthy projects.  It’s a good thing.  Could use some updating.  Here are some random recipes I found flipping through:

Chinese Chicken Livers with Unhatched Eggs.  Now this recipe could have it’s place in the French Laundry cookbook, judging by the title.  What on earth is an unhatched egg?  I assume all eggs are unhatched, by definition, no? 

To make this dish, you basically fry the livers, add cooked eggs, dry garlic spare rib sauce (a sauce intended for pork, go figure) and brown sugar to the pan.  It is recommended as an hors d’oevres… serve with toothpicks.  (obviously)

Mama’s Pitcha  This one’s a doozy.  Knee bones (I assume beef, though no animal species is specified) Boiled with onions, carrots, and garlic for 4 hours.  Strain, chop up the meaty bits that fell off the knees, chill, and set.  Mmmmmm…. pitcha.


I shouldn’t make fun.  I am sure that someone, somewhere will write in to tell me that I don’t know what I am missing and that unhatched eggs and homemade gelatin are the highlights of their family meals.  That I couldn’t possibly understand how delicious this food is because I wasn’t raised with it and I am not Jewish.  Fair enough. 

Perhaps we can hold out hope that in the next printing of this book, they might include some modern recipes.  That people such as myself might actually want to eat.

Here’s a recipe for a salad I served at Rosh Hashannah.  I have received two requests from guests so far for the recipe and there was none left at the end of the night.  Here it is, ladies!


 Grilled Vegetable Salad with Caper Dressing

2 red peppers

2 red onions

2 zucchini (green or yellow)

1 pint cherry tomatoes

Mixed greens for the plate

2 T Capers

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T sherry vinegar

1 t Dijon mustard (smooth)

Generous pinch of salt, Fresh ground pepper.

1.  Fry the capers in a small amount of oil until they pop!  (careful… don’t get splashed)  Set aside to cool.

2.  Slice the peppers, onions, and zucchini and toss in oil.  Grill on the bbq on ‘medium’ until nicely marked.  Remove and let cool.

3.  Cover a flat serving dish with mixed greens, and spread grilled, cooled veggies on top.  Scatter cherry tomatoes around the salad.

4.  Whisk remaining olive oil with vinegar, mustard, capers, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle over salad.



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