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Dishes for the family dinner table

Lentil soup FLICKR PHOTO
Lentil soup FLICKR PHOTO

The four Epelbaum sisters, authors of Dinner Table Family Headquarters, have been passionate about their family dinners since growing up in Montreal in the ’50s and ’60s.

Now all married with families of their own, the sisters wrote the cookbook – under their married names, Merle Moses, Liz Lesh, Genia Taub and Suzie Lazar – because  they wanted to share this passion with their readers.

Along with 18 meals and more than 70 recipes, the book includes cooking tips, kitchen essentials, dinner table games and photos.

Taub said planning meals can be a shared family responsibility that creates excellent habits.

“The act of eating together encourages conversation and teaches family members how to get along and respect each other.


“It seems to bring out the best in a family, and instils unity and structure in a hectic and chaotic lifestyle. It creates a routine and order in the home. It’s the daily board meeting at the family headquarters of our homes.”

0039ae0fShe said that many recipes in the book are “tried and true as they were served at our dinner table. The meat loaf recipe was a staple, kale and mashed potatoes was a vegetable and carb side dish, and the soups are an inspiration to us because we had soup at every dinner.”

The sisters – one lives in Montreal, one in New York and two in Ottawa – share food ideas constantly by email, Instagram and when they get together in person.

“I approached my sisters about writing a book, and it became a labour of love. It was a project that represented who we are.”

Lentil soup

o 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

o 1 onion, finely chopped

o 1 carrot, finely chopped

o 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

o 1 cup red lentils, rinsed

o 1/4 cup basmati rice, rinsed

o 6 cups water or stock

o 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

o pinch black pepper

o squirt of fresh lemon juice

o 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add onions and cook gently until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and cook 2 minutes longer. Add cumin and cook 30 seconds. Add lentils and rice and combine well.

Add water or stock and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and cook gently for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are very tender. Add more water if necessary, but the soup should still remain thick.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice, and sprinkle with cilantro when serving.

Dutch meat loaf


o 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef

o 1 slice bread crumbled

o 1 sweet onion finely chopped

o 1 15-oz. can or jar of tomato sauce divided

o 1 egg beaten

o 1 tsp. sea salt

o 1/4 tsp. black pepper

o 14 cup water

o 2 tbsp. sugar or honey

o 2 tbsp. mustard

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, 3/4 of the tomato sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and place in a 9×5-in. loaf pan.

Mix the remaining tomato sauce with the water, sugar and mustard, Pour over the loaf. Bake 1-1/2 hours.

Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Kale and mashed potatoes

Kale and mashed potatoes FLICKR PHOTO
Kale and mashed potatoes FLICKR PHOTO

o 2 – 2 1/2 lb. potatoes

o 8-10 cups chopped kale

o 1 onion chopped (optional)

o 1/2 tsp. black pepper

o 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter

o 2 tbsp. white vinegar

o sea salt

Peel potatoes, and cut the large ones in half so they are all the same size.

Put in large pot and add as much water as needed to just submerge the potatoes. Boil over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes.

In another pot, put the kale in a small amount of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the potatoes and kale are cooking, start sautéing  the chopped onions on a very low heat so they carmelize. When potatoes and kale are done, mash the potatoes and stir in kale without turning it into a purée. Add as much of the cooking liquid as you need to get a savoury consistency.

Stir in the onions, pepper, olive oil or butter, and vinegar. Add salt to taste. Serve in casserole dish.