Cooking for 8 family members on Friday night; 11 people for Shabbat lunch!
WWhen my mom challenged me to make Man with a Pan, I replied, “What is this?” She responded by showing me an article in Mishpacha that aroused my interest. Since I would never turn down a challenge and wanted to give my mom a well-deserved break, I emailed Mishpacha.
Among my friends, I’m the designated chef for Shabbat meals and holidays (ie vacations) abroad, so I figured my food can’t be that bad. My dad has a spice drawer with over 40 spices and herbs which has led me to experiment with many exotic spices and flavors.
As the manager of Kosher City, a large grocery store in Manchester, I’m surrounded by ready meals all day, but nothing quite compares to a delicious home cooked meal! I have learned to enjoy the experience of cooking to relax and unwind, but I had never done a full Shabbat for my family before. Still, I wasn’t worried.
On an average day, I get home from work around 6pm and on Fridays about two hours before Shabbat, so I knew I had to plan well.
Wednesday – Hitting the Pots
I got home and started cooking straight away, with my friend Shmuel keeping me company and doing his good bit of backseat cooking.
I started with the cream of chicken soup so it had time to simmer. Then I moved on to the tomato zucchini (i.e. zucchini), which was easy. At that point there wasn’t much time as I wanted to go out in half an hour to meet friends. Having never made meat strudel or deli rolls before, I consulted the master chef (aka Mama) who explained the process to me. I rolled up my sleeves and rolled out the dough… Half an hour later I walked out the door and left the stove and oven to my 15-year-old brother to babysit.
As good as I can cook, I can’t bake to save my life, so I enlisted my ever-helpful 12-year-old sister, Raizy, to take care of the desserts. After a little family conference, we settled on chocolate meringue ice cream and brownies for Friday night and chocolate mocha mousse cups and fruit salad for Shabbat day. And did I mention we have company? A family friend and her 94-year-old mother would join us for Shabbos lunch so they too could taste the fruits of my labor.
Thursday – On a roll
The next evening I found myself back in the kitchen with the intention of cooking the remaining dishes, starting with the cholent. The spicier I make my cholent, the more I get to eat somehow! With this in mind, one spice after another disappeared down the abyss of the cholent pot to transform it into something truly delicious. The proof of the pudding was in the empty pot after the Shabbat morning meal!
Here’s my tried-and-true method: First, sauté the diced onions with the brown sugar in a large saucepan. Fry the meat and add paprika, black pepper and salt. Add the soaked beans, barley and diced potatoes. Add plenty of water to soak everything and add a little coriander, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Let the cholent cook on low for a few hours.
Ready to tackle the angel hair salad next, I started roasting peppers. Everything was going great until my mom came in and told me the new skillet wasn’t there Wishlist still. Back to the cutting board.
Rice may sound easy, but not when I’m the cook… Coriander, pepper, and turmeric are all included, to name a few.
That evening’s cooking session ended with a horrified look on my mother’s face as I walked out the door for one evening and had the remaining dishes prepared on Friday afternoon.
Friday afternoon – (two hours before Shabbat)
When I got home from work with no time to waste, I turned on the kettle and, tea in hand, started the rest of Thursday’s jobs. My signature dish, stir-fried chicken, was prepared with ease, which over time proved to be quite useful.
Grilling the chicken was quick and easy too, thanks to my good friend George Foreman. Season it, grill it and slice it! It went into the fridge and awaited Shabbat morning to become a delicious salad.
The garlic mashed potatoes my sister suggested took too long and the result wasn’t worth the effort, so I won’t be making them again.
Cooking for Shabbat was a great experience and a lot of fun. My family, who asked me to do it again, confirm that the meal was well received! Personally, cooking is more fun than a hobby for me, so I don’t rush to take on the whole burden again so quickly. That being said, I’m looking forward to taking some of the burden off my mother and helping her out here and there in the not too distant future.
On Tuesday, Eli wrote down his menu and incorporated suggestions from his siblings. Being an organized person, he worked out what he would earn every day. I offered to buy what he accepted for meat and vegetables.
Of course, Eli did an incredible job cooking shabbos. I’ve been looking forward to it all week and it exceeded my expectations. It all happened so calmly and smoothly. The food was delicious and he even did the serving and clearing up! It was a real treat for me. I don’t know anyone who could have done it as well as he did.
Challah (store bought)
Chummus and Matbucha (store bought)
work (store bought)
angel hair salad
Cream of Chicken Soup
Chicken stir fry
Potatoes mashed with garlic
Chocolate Meringue Ice Cream and Brownies (made by Sister Raizy)
Works + dips
Grilled chicken salad
Chocolate Mocha Mousse Cups + Fruit Salad (made by Sister Raizy)
Gourmet Chicken Skillet
Onions, cut into rings
green and red peppers, cut into strips
Zucchini (aka zucchini), sliced
Baby corn, sliced
Chicken breast, cut into small strips
I am willow
Cayenne pepper (for the adventurous)
Heat olive oil in a pan.
Sauté the onion rings on a low heat until translucent.
Add pepper strips, zucchini, and baby corn and continue sautéing on low for 12-15 minutes.
Add chicken strips and soy sauce, continuing to stir to ensure chicken is fully cooked, about 5-8 minutes. Add spices to taste.