Tag Archives: beef

Parshat Matot-Massei

This week’s Parsha includes a continuation of the saga of the daughters of Tzelafchad. Their situation is significant to all Israelites because it leads to a discussion about the general laws of inheritance. In fact Chazal repeatedly refer to this episode as “Parshat Nachalot” (the portion dealing with inheritance matters).

Having secured their father’s inheritance in the previous Parsha,  they’re now concerned about marriage. It’s important to note that the daughter’s claim occurs right after the census (26:2). Rav Elchana Samet explains that since only men were counted, and their father was dead, the daughters stood to lose their father’s inheritance in the land of Israel. Because the tribal borders were to be based on this census.

They married within the shevet of Menashe but future generations of women who inherited land were allowed to marry ‘out’ of their tribe. In this generation only they had to marry within their tribe so that Menashe’s property wasn’t diminished.

I wanted to do a recipe that was connected to Shevet Menashe. I thought of the B’nei Menashe, a small group of people in North-Eastern India who believe that they are descendants of Menashe and are part of the ten lost tribes. They’ve been practicing Judaism for over 27  years and many have them moved to Israel. They are situated close to Myanmar – Burma. I’m assuming that there is a similar cuisine because of the close geographic proximity. Here’s a Burmese recipe for Beef Potato Curry. I think that next time I cook this recipe I’ll substitute cauliflower for the potato.

Beef and Potato Curry: a recipe from Burma

Beef Potato Curry from Burma

  • 1 lb beef, cut into strips or cubes
  • 5 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons, chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt
  • 2 cups water

Put the garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion, and chili powder into food processor and process until it’s a paste. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add the paste. Cook for 5-10 minutes, adding water if it starts to dry out or burn. Add cumin and continue cooking until golden brown. Add meat until browned. Season with salt and add water and potatoes. Cover pan and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft.

Chazak chazak V’Nitchazek.





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Parshat Pinchas – July 7, 2012

In Numbers 27:1-11 the five daughters of  Tzelaphchad – Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah – approach Moshe, Eleazar, and the other leadership of the Israelites. Their father has died and although they are daughters, they wish to inherit their father’s inheritance. Moshe consults with God who tells him that the daughters ‘speak justly’ and their father’s inheritance should indeed be transferred to them.

Rabbi Benjamin Yudin discusses the contrasting opinions of two commentators. The Yalkut Shimoni states that this incident took place in the second year of the desert, immediately following the sin of the spies. Another opinion holds that it took place in the 40th year following the death of Aaron the Kohen. According to Rabbi Yudin:

Following Aharon’s demise, they [Israelites] started traveling in the opposite direction, away from Israel back towards Egypt… what is most exemplary on the part of these five righteous women is that at a time when the popular tide and trend of the nation was “let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt” (Bamidbar 14:4) they requested an inheritance in the Land of Israel. 

The Yalkut derives a most important principle from the above: one who lives in a society that is practicing evil, but has the integrity and commitment to buck the system and do what is right, not only receives his due reward, but also all the potential reward and blessings that could have been accrued by the generation. Thus the daughters of Tzlofchad not only received their reward for their love of the Land and pining, but received the reward that was potentially awaiting the rest of the generation.

The women’s request for their father’s inheritance leads to a series of guidelines from God to Moshe on this issue. The story of these righteous women is truly an inspiring story.

This week’s recipe simply had to honour the five daughters of Tzlaphchad.

I decided to look for a recipe that combined women and Israel. “How to Cook in Palestine” written in 1936 is considered the first Israeli cookbook. Unfortunately it’s out of print. But I did find something fantastic, written by Lady Judith Cohen Montefiore in 1846 called The Jewish Manual: or Practical Information in Jewish Modern Cookery, with a Collection of Valuable Recipes and Hints Relating to the Toilette, edited by a Lady. The best part of this book is that it’s available digitally for free through Project Gutenberg.

Sir Moses Montefiore was an outstanding Jewish philanthropist who became Torah-observant after his first visit to Eretz Yisrael in 1827 and even traveled with his own personal Shochet. (ritual slaughterer)

I’m a bit of an afficionado for historical ‘ladies’ magazines. I love Good Housekeeping from the 1940’s “Oh my, how will I ever become a bride living with the pain of halitosis!”  Lady Montefiore’s cookbook is fascinating even though it’s completely impractical.

Here’s an example:


Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

See what I mean?

  • ingredients aren’t really measured
  •  ingredients are limited (butter, milk, almonds, flour, basic veggies) and sometimes…strange
  • No oven temperatures: just put things ‘on the fire’
  • The entire animal is used ‘take the head of a calf’
  • Pheasants, pigeons, partridges, venison, galore!
  • butter, butter, and more butter!

There’s a recipe for apple sauce for goose in which she says, ‘the acid of the apples is reckoned a corrective to the richness of the goose.

Okay, that’s just plain yuck. 
Here’s an example:


Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

The beauty trips are great too. (how to remove a tan – let’s just say that it involves lots of cucumber, you can also learn how to remove freckles, etc.)

Here’s this week’s recipe taken straight from 1846! (I used bar-b-q turkey and beef)

Cut up the white parts of a cold fowl, and mix it with mustard and cress, and a lettuce chopped finely, and pour over a fine salad mixture, composed of equal quantities of vinegar and the finest salad oil, salt, mustard, and the yolks of hard boiled eggs, and the yolk of one raw egg, mixed smoothly together; a little tarragon vinegar is then added, and the mixture is poured over the salad; the whites of the eggs are mixed, and serve to garnish the dish, arranged in small heaps alternately with heaps of grated smoked beef; two or three hard boiled eggs are cut up with the chicken in small pieces and mixed with the salad; this is a delicate and refreshing entrée; the appearance of this salad may be varied by piling the fowl in the centre of the dish, then pour over the salad mixture, and make a wall of any dressed salad, laying the whites of the eggs (after the yolks have been removed for the mixture), cut in rings on the top like a chain.

B’Tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Mishpatim – February 18, 2012

This Parsha, which immediately follows revelation at Mount Sinai,  includes 53 laws. Twenty three are positive commandments and thirty are prohibitions. This part of the Parsha is immediately followed by (Shemot 23:20 – 33) a promise that God is sending a “malach” (angel) to guide the Israelites to the promised land of Eretz Yisrael. The juxtaposition of a large amount of mitzvot with settling Israel is obviously intentional.

According to Rabbi Menachem Leibtag:

This conclusion points to the purpose of the entire unit. Bnei Yisrael must accept these laws that will shape their character as God’s special nation. If they obey them, God will assist Bnei Yisrael in the conquest of the Land.

Rabbi Eliezer Breitowitz has said that the Torah is prescription for a Utopian society, to be practiced ideally in Eretz Yisrael. The connection between the Torah, the land, and the people is a complete one and very much alluded to in these psukim. This promise still comes with an earthly effort – ‘hishtadlut’. Conquering the existing nations is part of the uncomfortable process of fulfilling God’s promise.

Here’s a recipe that is popular in Israel – and the surrounding region.

Jeannine’s Awesome Middle Eastern Inspired Beef with Chummus

(I’ve made a few changes, Jeannine, in case you don’t recognize some of the ingredients.)

(BTW, Jeannine is an awesome cook, artist, and potter – look at this mug she made for me!)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds chopped beef (this is flexible – can add more)
  • 4-6 teaspoons minced garlic – more if you’re very garlic-friendly
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (more to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Sautee onion until translucent and add garlic.
  • Add beef and spices and brown. Cover pan and cook for an additional 20 – 30 minutes on a low heat.
  • Break up meat into chunks with a potato masher.

I know these ingredients aren’t exact but it’s a very forgiving recipe – trust me!

Chummus  (Hummus) (adapted from Food.com – thank you Sarah for finding this awesome recipe!)

  • 1 can chick peas (approximately 15 ounces)
  • 1/8 cup tachina (tahini)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 tablespoons water from the chick pea can (makes the chummus extremely light and cream)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place ingredients in the food processor and blend for a minute until creamy.

Recipe Number 2:

Among the 53 laws that are taught in this parsha, one addresses the liability that occurs from digging a pit, leaving it uncovered, and causing an animal to fall in and die.

Shemot 21:33-34 And if a person opens a pit, or if a person digs a pit and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it,the owner of the pit shall pay; he shall return money to its owner, and the dead body shall be his.

(Kind of like ‘you broke it, you bought it,’ at Pottery Barn.) But why the repetition? Rashi asks why ‘a person digs’  is included in the Pasuk if we already know that a person has opened a pit. He answers that a person may have dug a pit that was capable of trapping an animal, but anybody who enlarged it is the liable one. Also, in 34, the ‘owner’ of the pit refers to anyone who dug the pit – even if it’s in a public space. The person who made that whole is responsible. Bulls and donkeys are examples – the liability refers to all domestic animals and beasts. This is a a fascinating concept because we learn that we are responsible for public spaces as well as private ones.

This recipe was inspired by the concept of an animal enclosed or trapped in a small space. An animal that wouldn’t have seen the pit and once inside, might not be seen himself. In other words — chicken balls.

And if a person opens a pit, or if a person digs a pit and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it,the owner of the pit shall pay

Chinese Chicken Balls
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • eight chicken breasts cut up into cubes
  • a few shakes of Mrs. Dash
  • oil for frying


Mix all of the ingredients (except chicken). When the lumps disappear add the chicken and toss to coat. Fry in hot oil until crisp and brown. Yumm!

Serve with a sweet and sour sauce.


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