The title of Women’s Philanthropy Mosaic: A cookbook celebrating Montreal’s Jewish Culinary Diversity clarifies the contents and cultural significance of this beautifully bound coffee-table tome. The dedicated volunteer contingent of women’s philanthropy, an initiative of Federation CJA, began brainstorming in 2010 and launched their brainchild in April 2013. All proceeds from sales of this not-for-profit cookbook benefit vulnerable women in the community.
The top five chefs – Gail Adelson-Marcovitz, Etty Bienstock, Rhonda Leibner, Debby Newpol and Heather Paperman – gathered recently at federation headquarters to discuss the project they conceived as members of the committee of women’s philanthropy. They praised more than 200 astute chefs and members of the community who worked with them to bring it to fruition. They schlepped, shopped, chopped, cooked, tasted, tested, fine-tuned and retested every recipe. They also played a role in the staging and photo shoots, along with photographer Jean Longpré. The photo presentations are exquisite.
Now, they are busy with marketing and distribution, delighted with the positive feedback, and have continuously received book orders from here and abroad.
Initially, the project got underway by sending a request to people on Federation CJA’s mailing list. Recipients were asked to submit recipes that had been in the family for generations as well as those emanating from their countries of origin. From more than 1,000 responses, the list was whittled down to 110 winners. Bylines are not attributed to recipes because many are a fusion of winners that were adapted and re-evaluated. The chefs were careful to avoid duplication and plagiarism by discarding unsuitable submissions.
“The concept is more than a cookbook,” said Adelson-Marcovitz, who presided over women’s philanthropy when the project was initiated. “We wanted to expose more women in the community to what we do at CJA. Through their participation in Mosaic, many more now have a personal connection.”
Mitzi Dobrin and Leesa Steinberg underwrote the cost of the book in tribute to their community-minded mothers, Helen Roth Steinberg and Gertrude Dover Steinberg.
Women’s philanthropy achieved its multi-faceted mission by creating a tangible literary heirloom. Proceeds ($50 per book) benefit vulnerable women in the community. Mosaic serves as a great addition to the home, regardless of the recipients’ nationality, ethnic origin, beliefs or level of cooking expertise. The 110 diverse recipes cover appetizers, vegetarian, dairy, beef, fish, poultry, salads, fruit, hot and cold soups, desserts and brunches that hail from every corner of the globe. The succinct wording of each recipe serves as a key tool, and the team deserves credit for ensuring preparation runs smoothly. The recipes conform to kashrut laws and complement Jewish customs. Moreover, they incorporate fresh herbs and wholesome ingredients. An artist handpainted each component of the stunning mosaic on the cover.
Newpol noted a Toronto connection. One of the guest chefs, Carolyn Cohen, who runs a cooking school in Toronto, conducted a series of classes using Mosaic. And Newpol’s longstanding supper club also incorporated the book in one of their evenings. “I suggested the theme and prepared the main course and everyone prepared one of the recipes from the book, and I was very proud,” she said.
Thanks to Bram Paperman, iPhone owners can download a free app through the app store, which enables them to click on their phones while shopping to see ingredients needed for each recipe. The Women’s Philanthropy Mosaic is available online and at Linen Chest, selected boutiques and 21 locations in Montreal. Also available online and at select Linen Chest stores in Toronto. It is also available in Ottawa. For further information, go to www.mosaiccookbook.com.
Here is a sample recipe courtesy of women’s philanthropy, Federation CJA)
PAPPARDELLE WITH TUNISIAN SHORT RIB RAGOUT
Slow-braised flanken, a strip of beef from the chuck end of the short ribs, was characteristic of eastern European food preparation. Inexpensive and easy to prepare, it was a favourite Jewish holiday dish. This recipe for slow-cooked short ribs takes its inspiration from this classic and adds a Tunisian flavour with the addition of figs.
3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
4 lb. beef short ribs, cut between the bones
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-in.) piece ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup cubed dried figs
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 (14 oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
3/4 cup tomato purée
1 lb. pappardelle pasta
4 cups arugula
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven. Season the ribs with the salt and pepper. Place as many ribs as will fit in the Dutch oven without overlap. Sear until browned, turning with tongs, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the seared ribs to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the pan.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of the olive oil to the Dutch oven and sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick and figs and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Transfer all the ribs and any accumulated liquid back into the Dutch oven. Add the broth, soy sauce, tomatoes and tomato purée. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven.
Cook the ribs, turning them every 40 minutes, for about 3 hours. Allow the ribs to cool, remove the meat from the bones, discard the bones, and shred the meat. Refrigerate overnight.
Take the rib ragout out of the refrigerator and remove the fat.
Cook the papparedelle according to the package instructions. Heat the rib ragout in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring gently. Add the cooked pappardelle and arugula to the ragout and toss to coat the pasta evenly. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts and serve. Yield: 8 to 10 servings