The Downtown Jewish Community School published this cookbook for its 30th anniversary in 2010. Cover art done by Hannah Feldman

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! I’ve chosen some simple, scrumptious recipes to help you kick off the celebrations for Mother’s Day and Lag B’Omer, both of which take place this weekend. The recipes are from a terrific little cookbook, The 30th Anniversary Cookbook, published in 2010 as a fundraising project for the Downtown Jewish Community School, which has been in existence since 1979, nearly 40 years.

Food columnist Barbara Silverstein was the editor of this charming cookbook, which contains 90 delicious, family-style recipes and treasured food memories. They were contributed by parents, grandparents, plus many celebrity chefs, including Marcy Goldman, Susan Mendelson, Daphna Rabinovitch and the late Lillian Kaplun. The cookbook also includes original artwork by Grade 6 students of the Downtown Jewish Community School.


For information on ordering a copy (or several) and helping support this heartwarming fundraising project, email [email protected] or call Barbara at 416-413-9784. The price is right –$12 per copy! It also makes a perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Make sure to shower your mom with lots of kisses this Mother’s Day – Hot Potato Kisses, that is! (See recipe below.) This is a quick and easy way to make mini potato knishes. They make an excellent appetizer or side dish and are perfect for both Shabbat and Lag B’Omer. My late Mom, Belle Rykiss, z’l, could stretch out knish dough out so thin that you could read the newspaper through it! My shortcut is to use phyllo dough. Less muss, less fuss!


From the recipe headnote: “One could call cooking maven Norene Gilletz the godmother of Jewish Cuisine. The popular food columnist and cookbook author was one of the first people with the foresight to preserve the traditional recipes handed down orally from one generation to the next. She is the editor of Second Helpings Please, the Jewish culinary Bible for many. Norene has since written several cookbooks with a focus on lifestyle. The following recipe, which is described as “an upscale version of mini potato knishes,” comes from Healthy Helpings (Whitecap 2008).”

2 onions, chopped

2 tsp (10 ml) canola oil

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Boiling water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, separated

6 sheets phyllo dough

3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil

  • Heat 2 tsp (10 ml) oil in a nonstick skillet. Sauté onions until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. If necessary, add a little water to prevent them from burning. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to heat for a minute or two to evaporate excess moisture. Mash potatoes. Add onions, egg yolk and seasonings. Mix well.
  • In a small bowl, blend egg white with 3 tbsp (45 ml) oil. Working quickly, place on sheet of phyllo on the counter and brush lightly with oil/egg white mixture. (Cover remaining dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.) Cover with a second sheet of phyllo. Brush once again with oil mixture. Use a small sharp knife to cut dough into 20 squares (4 rows of 5 squares).
  • Place a spoonful of potato filling in the center of each square. Gather corners together and twist to form a small kiss. Place on a lightly greased, foil-lined cookie sheet. Repeat twice more with remaining dough and filling. Brush tops lightly with oil mixture. Bake at 350 F (180 C) 10 to 12 minutes.

Yield: 60 kisses. These freeze and/or reheat well.


Miriam Nafte (Mother of Joan, Grade 6, and Zeev Nafte, Grade 2) recalled: “My maternal grandmother Estrella made a version of this soup on sharp winter nights in Casablanca. The flavour was enhanced by cumin, parsley, along with a handful of lentils. When our family arrived in Canada in the 1950’s, my mother further refined this comforting soup to the creamy satisfying tradition it has become in our family.”

1 large onion, chopped finely

3 carrots, cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

2 celery stalks, cut in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

2 bay leaves

1 tsp (5 ml) fresh or dried thyme

1 tsp (5 ml) fresh or dried spearmint

1 tsp (5 ml) fresh or dried parsley

1/2 cup (125 ml) dry barley

1 cup (250 ml) beef or veal chunks (optional)

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped, or use 1-14 oz (398 g) diced tomatoes

4 cups (1 litre) of water, broth or chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Pour olive oil into a large stockpot and sauté onions, carrots and celery. Add meat and brown. Add tomatoes and barley and stir for 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat. Slowly pour in water, stock or chicken broth to fill the pot halfway. Add the bay leaves.
  • Let soup come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for an hour. Add thyme, spearmint and parsley, salt and pepper to taste and stir. Turn off soup and allow it to sit covered for a few minutes before serving. It can be paired with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and a crunchy salad.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Lisa Sherman (Mother of Morgan Sherman, JK) wrote: “For as long as I can remember, my Bubbie’s kugel was a staple at Shabbat and holiday dinners. She taught me to make it when I was 12. There was no written recipe. I made it so regularly it never occurred to me to write down the recipe. But as I got older, I made the kugel less often.

When my Bubbie became frail, she taught her caregiver to make kugel for the family. On the first holiday after my Bubbie’s death, nobody made kugel. I tried, but I couldn’t remember the recipe. I was frantic. We had never celebrated a holiday without my Bubbie’s kugel. Fortunately my aunt managed to track down the caregiver and retrieve the recipe.

My Bubbie’s absence was felt strongly that night. But as we ate the kugel there was some comfort knowing her delicious legacy would live on.

1 1/2 packages (12 oz/375 g) medium egg noodles, cooked

9 eggs, separated

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder

3 tbsp (45 ml) oil

Paprika (optional)

  • Add oil to cover bottom of an 11 x 17 inch (28 x 43 cm) Pyrex dish. Heat dish in oven until oil is very hot. Beat egg whites in mixer until stiff. Beat egg yolks and add to whites. Add baking powder salt and pepper. Add cooked noodles and a drop of oil to egg mixture. Mix well.
  • Put a drop of the egg/noodle mixture in Pyrex dish to make sure oil is hot. The mixture should bubble. Add remaining mixture. Sprinkle top with paprika.
  • Bake at 400 F (200 C) for 1 hour until is golden and crispy on the bottom.

Yield: 16 servings


Barbara Silverstein (Mother of Matthew, Class of 2005 and Leigh Silverstein, Class of 2000) shared: “While the chicken soup is in high demand at our holiday dinners, there are never any takers for the main ingredient of the soup – the boiled chicken. It just sits there on the table like the wallflower at a dance, as the other platters of food – the brisket, the roast chicken, the kugel – are eagerly devoured by grownups and children alike. Nobody touches the boiled chicken no matter how much my mother prods.

However, it does get its due the day after the dinner. I often make chicken salad from the leftover boiled chicken. One of my favourite recipes is a chicken salad that has been adapted for Passover from Lynn Mendelson’s book, Chicken! Chicken! Chicken! And More Chicken (Whitecap Books 2000).”


2 large chicken breasts cut in bite size pieces

2 cups (500 ml) seeded julienne red pepper

2 cups (500 ml) seeded julienne green pepper

2 cups (500 ml) broccoli, lightly steamed

1 cup (250 ml) celery, diced

1 bunch green onions, chopped


1/2 cup (125 ml) safflower oil

1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp (5 ml) minced ginger

1 tbsp (15 ml) dried tarragon leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken: Combine chicken, peppers, broccoli, onion and celery in a bowl and toss with tarragon dressing.

Dressing: Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and pour half the dressing over salad.

Leftover dressing can be stored in the fridge up to a week.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of 12 cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at [email protected]

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Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..