“To call a woman a “real baleboosteh” is to bestow high praise indeed: It means the honoree is a splendid cook, baker, laundress, and, above all, keeps so immaculate a home that ‘You can eat off the floor.’” – Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yiddish
I was praised as being a “real baleboosteh” as a young girl because I liked to bake and cook, and I understood that beyond tasting delicious, it was all about the presentation (e.g., carrot florets and sprigs of parsley on salads). But the first time I made butter cookies, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t browning, and I overbaked them until they were rock hard. My dad enthusiastically picked up what was then an impenetrable cookie-turned-teething-biscuit and said, “Just like my mother used to make!”
These days, I still enjoy cooking and baking, especially for a fun gathering of friends and family. Though I admit I don’t know a screen pass from a screen door, or a tight-end from a tightwad, I do know that the countdown to the Super Bowl means it’s time to start planning your game day menu! Ditch the same old, same old: This internationally spiced Jewish menu makes the meal a game changer.
With recipes you can make in advance and put out on a buffet, you’ll get to relax and watch the game – or just pop in for the commercials. Go team!
- Nirvana Chicken Wings: Chef Tina Wasserman named these wings nirvana “because they transport you to paradise.” Their coating of mango chutney, coconut, scallions and peanuts definitely sound like nirvana!
- Indian Lamb Meatballs: Create the perfect ambience for guests with the aromatic scents of garam masala, cinnamon, and cumin called for in this recipe.
- Vegetarian Mushroom Barley Soup: There’s no crowd pleaser like a giant pot of homemade soup. Did you know that mushrooms are mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (N’darim 55B), and that wild mushrooms were in great abundance in ancient Israel?
- Persian Spinach and Pine Nut Kuku: The name may sound silly, but kuku are light, fluffy, and omelet-like, often containing vegetables and green herbs. They’re a pretty dish to add color to your buffet table! (If you have guests with nut allergies, try this Persian Cauliflower and Raisin Kuku instead.)
- Easy Sweet and Sour Brisket: This recipe is actually so easy to prepare that it only includes three ingredients! Make this dish several days in advance, serve it sliced in its gravy, and watch it disappear.
- Hummus and Crudité: You won’t need a green salad if you serve a platter of homemade hummus with lots of fresh veggies. The carrots, celery, cucumber, and red, green, and yellow peppers make for an eye-catching centerpiece, too.
- Tuscan Biscotti: Forget the football-shaped sheet cake. Your guests will love how perfect this cookie is for dipping into hot coffee or tea.
As we Jewish baleboostahs say: B’tayavon, eat in good health!