Carolyn Tanner-Cohen, the woman behind the Delicious Dish Cooking School, will be making the gefilte fish for her family seder this year.
Her recipe was handed down from her Romanian maternal great-grandmother to her grandmother, Eva Levin. The actual recipe is a closely guarded family secret that cannot be shared.
However, Tanner-Cohen is sharing her recipe for carrot and beet slaw with horseradish vinaigrette, a dish, she says, is the perfect accompaniment for gefilte fish.
Tanner-Cohen has also offered her recipe for beet gravlax and eggplant stack, which she recommends as a first course substitute for gefilte fish.
Tanner-Cohen said that while she learned to make the fish from her maternal grandmother, her paternal grandmother, Claire Tanner, also made gefilte fish, but her recipe originated in Poland.
Tanner-Cohen said when her father, Marvin Tanner, was a young boy his mother (Claire), would purchase a live fish and let it swim in the bathtub.
With the passage of time she was able to buy filleted fish, which she used to grind, until her fish monger began selling ground fish, Tanner-Cohen recounted.
“I used to watch her make her gefilte fish, but I never got her recipe. She died when I was 16.”
When Tanner-Cohen’s daughters – Jacqueline, 22 and Olivia, 20 – were younger, they looked on while their mother prepared the Levin gefilte fish recipe. “I wanted my daughters to be part of the day and watch me so I could pass the recipe on to the next generation.”
She said there has always been “a friendly competition among Levin’s children and grandchildren” as to who makes the best gefilte fish. “My Aunt Susan said, ‘You can’t teach this recipe,’ and so it must remain a family secret.”
Carrot and beet slaw with horseradish vinaigrette
o 375 ml (1¾ cup) raw unsalted shelled pistachios
o 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
o Pinch of kosher salt
o 6 medium size carrots, peeled
o 4 beets (mix red and yellow), peeled
o A small piece of fresh horseradish, peeled
o 125 ml (½ cup) chopped parsley or cilantro
o 50 ml (¼ cup) mint, chopped
o 125 ml (½ cup) golden raisins
o 15 ml (1 tbsp) prepared white horseradish
o 1 clove garlic, minced
o 30 ml (2 tbsp)finely chopped shallots
o 15 ml (1 tbsp) honey
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) white wine vinegar
o 60 ml (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
o Cracked black pepper
o Coarse sea salt for sprinkling on the salad
Preheat the oven to 150 C (290 F). In a bowl, toss the pistachios with the olive oil and salt. Arrange the pistachios on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast for 25 minutes, remove and let cool. Set aside.
Julienne the beets, carrots and fresh horseradish. A mandolin works well for this step.
To prepare the dressing: Mix together the horseradish, garlic, shallots, honey, vinegar, olive oil, pepper and salt.
Roughly chop most of the pistachios, leaving a few whole.
About 20 minutes before serving, toss the julienne vegetables with the raisins, herbs, pistachios and dressing, arrange in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and pepper. Makes 10 servings.
o 2 onions, sliced
o 2 carrots, sliced
o 1 l (1 quart) water
o 10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
o 1¾ kg (2 lbs) minced fish
o 4 eggs
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) matzah meal
o 375 ml (1¾ cup) cold water
o 2 grated carrots
o 2 grated onions
o 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) salt
o pepper to taste
Place the sliced onions, sliced carrots, water and sugar in a large pot and bring to a boil.
In a stand mixer combine the fish, eggs, matzah meal, cold water, grated carrots, grated onions, sugar, salt and pepper.
Moisten hands and shape the fish into plum-sized balls. Drop the fish balls into the boiling water with carrots and onions. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours. Serve hot or cold. Makes 12 servings.
o 1 large piece of salmon, skin on
o 175 ml (¾ cup) sugar
o 80 ml (1/3 cup) kosher salt
o Handful of peppercorns
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) gin
o 1 bunch of dill, washed
o 2 raw beets, washed, roughly chopped
Place the beets and the dill in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until chopped, add the sugar, salt, peppercorns and gin, pulse to mix.
Lay two very long pieces of plastic wrap side by side on the counter (more than double the length of the salmon). Then lay a piece of parchment paper on top of the plastic wrap (not as big as the plastic wrap but double the size of the salmon).
Place the salmon on the piece of parchment.
Spread the beet mixture over the salmon and pat it down.
Tightly wrap the parchment over the salmon and then the plastic wrap and place in a glass dish. Place a heavy weight on top of the fish and place in the fridge for 72 hours.
After 3 days, remove the weight and the wrap. Wash the fish clean.
Slice the fish on a diagonal into very thin wide slices.
Gravlax stack with avocado and crispy eggplant
o 1 eggplant, about 9-cm (3-inches) in diameter
o Kosher salt
o 125 ml (½ cup) potato starch
o 2 eggs, beaten
o 80 ml (1/3 cup) matzah meal
o 80 ml (1/3 cup) almond meal/flour
o 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
o 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
o Zest of 1 lemon
o 15 ml (¼ cup) lemon juice
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) honey
o 1 Roma tomato, diced small
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) capers, roughly chopped
o 1 ml (¼ tsp) kosher salt
o Freshly ground black pepper
o Vegetable stack
o 1 beet gravlax, or a pound of smoked salmon.
o ½ English cucumber, diced small
o 1 ripe but firm avocado, diced small
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped chives
o 30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped dill
o 3-inch plating ring to make a stack
Slice the eggplant into 2-cm (¼-inch) rounds, place on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let sweat for 15-20 minutes, then blot dry with a paper towel.
Place the potato starch in a shallow bowl. Place the egg in another shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, mix together the matzah meal with the almond meal.
Heat a large frypan on medium high heat, add the oil. Dip each slice of eggplant into the potato starch, shake off the excess, then dip it into the egg, shake off excess, then into the matzah meal-almond meal mixture. Fry in the hot oil on each side until golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and let cool.
To prepare the dressing: Mix together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, tomato, capers, salt and pepper
In a medium bowl, mix the cucumber and avocado together with the dill and chives and a few spoonfuls of the dressing, but leave behind the tomato and capers.
Spray the plating ring with non-stick spray.
To prepare the stack: Place a crispy eggplant slice on a plate, stack the ring on top of the eggplant and spoon the cucumber and avocado mixture into the ring so it fills a little more than halfway up.
Arrange a few slices of gravlax on top of the cucumber-avocado mixture in a circular fashion. Carefully lift off ring. Repeat with the rest of the plates.
Drizzle the stack and the plate with a few spoonfuls of dressing making sure that some capers and tomatoes fall on the plate. Makes 8 servings.