Yesterday I gave a Wedding Shower Menu and Cooking Demo for my wonderful young friend Chaya Fried, daughter of our very own beloved Rabbi Yisroel Friend at Chabad of the West Side. Beautiful Chaya was born and bred practically in my backyard. Our friendship started early on: Our first entre nous date, the forst of many, was when she was about twelve years old. We spent a lovely evening that included dinner at Levana Restaurant (some of you will remember my namesake well) and a visit to a knitting and yarn trade show, where she acquired the raw materials that led to the first milestones of her arts-and-crafts talents, under adoptive aunt Levana’s watchful supervision (I can’t help it, I’m a tight knitter, she would say each time we had one of our knitting session). Need I tell you that, just as with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, fast-forward just a few short years, she showed me some pieces she knitted and they were veritable pieces of art. She knocked my socks off, as they say. Yes, this gives you an idea what a marvelous student she is. And so it was with everything where Chaya was concerned.
Equally marvelous is, what a wonderful teacher Chaya is. Upon hearing that the logistics of the Wedding Shower Menu and Cooking Demo we hosted for Morah Chaya yesterday in Crown Heights didn’t allow for Chaya’s adoring little Upper West Side students and fans to attend, Sarah and Rabbi Alevsky hosted their own Wedding Shower Party the very next day, to include Chaya’s students and other neighbors and fans. Two wedding showers in twenty four hours for one bride. Gd Bless: more like a downpour! May the Almighty Himself Shower, best Wedding Shower present of all, all His Blessings and Grace upon Chaya, her dear lucky groom and their families.
So, now that I have waxed lyrical enough about Chaya, let me tell you about her Wedding Shower Menu. I wanted, first and foremost, to share with all attending current, future and prospective brides my ridiculous little “secret”, the secret which made me the cook that I am: My Quick and Healthy Cooking Survival Guide. In all my rewarding years as a Cooking Teacher, one of my favorite subject has always been, Cooking for Brides, and teaching them to look good at a minimal expense of time, money and expertize. “Put good stuff in, good stuff will come out!” I exhort them endlessly, with the valuable ulterior motive of steering them clear of all those nefarious gimmicky concoctions that instruct them in so many cookbooks and blogs that adding a bouillon cube here and some bottled dressing there, and some cake mix in between, with a non-dairy whip on top. How could this possibly be called cooking or baking? More like kindergarten projects, and even then, I gotta tell you that my grandchildren whip up some fantastic – and fantastically natural and edible – creations.
And the rewards for my exhorting these young brides are great: If my fan mail is any indication, they learn to look like pros, the simple, healthy and sensible way. I make them look good. What nachas, huh? Yesterday I got a great kick out of their amazement at the sheer number of dishes we made, right on the spot, and one of them, bewildered, looked like she classified me somewhere between a magician and a sorcerer, both of which designations suit me just fine, thank you very much! In addition to enjoying a fabulous meal, they learned the magic of using a food processor as a workhorse (oh yeah, and hide those anchovies well: Blend them and enjoy them more often, heard but nor seen: Welcome to my Umami World!), the magic of Frozen Vegetables and Frozen Fruits, the incomparable taste of FRESHLY grated parmesan, the deliciousness of homemade croutons, natural healthy homemade drinks made in a jiffy, and much much more!
This Wedding Shower Menu was Inspired by the Upcoming Shavuot Holiday. I call it The Art of The Brunch, but it could just as easily be Called The Art of Summer Lunch.
I should tell you that all my Wedding Shower Menu recipes, and hundreds more, are included in my massive cookbook, which I cannot recommend highly enough, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen (Hardcover Only Please!)