My Mother’s Brisket Recipe

My mother wasn’t much of a cook. My brother and I talk about growing up on Hungry Man TV Dinners, and many of my favorite holiday recipes involve opening cans to be mixed together and heated. However, there were certain dishes my mother perfected over time. She was proudest of her brisket.

There was a story she loved to tell in the last years of her life about how she emailed the brisket recipe to my cousin Karen, only to receive a reply from a stranger saying, “I don’t know who Karen is, but the brisket was delicious. Thanks!” Ironically, I don’t think she ever actually emailed the recipe to Karen, so when she died I despaired of ever reconstructing it. (My uncle and I tried this year, in a Facebook conversation prompted by my cousin’s request for the recipe.)

This morning, I was going to try to recreate the recipe from memory, but I decided to try one last Google search, just in case. Lo and behold, someone I have never heard of entered the recipe into Tastebook.com, attributed to my mother to dispel any doubt. Thanks, Debbie Pullen, whoever you are!

Lest I lose it again, I thought I would preserve the recipe in my own records right here before I try my first attempt at making it. You’ll note it relies on canned goods and onion soup mix. What can I say, my mom was a product of her generation. You’ll also note that these directions assume you’ll be cooking ahead and reheating for the holidays. You might be tempted to serve it hot out of the oven, and that’s fine, but the freezing and reheating process definitely helps tenderize the beef and combine the flavors. I believe that my mother occasionally seared the brisket before the first step of this recipe, but Mark Bittman says the searing doesn’t really change the outcome, so feel free to skip. Enjoy! Continue reading

JewishBoston.com: Blintz Soufflé

Originally published on JewishBoston.com.

Many of my favorite holiday recipes fall firmly in the category of “semi-homemade,” and this delicious and surprisingly simple recipe for Blintz Soufflé is one of the best examples. Thanks to the tradition of eating dairy on Shavuot, this recipe always makes its way into my spring cuisine, but honestly, I love it so much that I make it year round. It’s hearty enough to be dinner but light enough for breakfast, and it’s just as good reheated as it is hot out of the oven.

This version of the recipe comes from my mother, but I’m pretty sure she cribbed it from an accomodater who did the morning-after brunch for my brother’s bar mtizvah.

created at: 2011-05-0412 frozen blintzes, thawed
4 eggs
1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 9×13 pan. (A  smaller Corningware square pan works fine too.) Place frozen blintzes in pan. (I like to make one half of each soufflé with cheese blintzes and the other half with either cherry or blueberry.)

Beat eggs well. Add remaining ingredients and pour over blintzes.

Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes until slightly brown (firm and dry).

My mother recommends baking longer than the recipe calls for, saying “It seems to take a little longer for the middle section to firm up, but watch the edges, you don’t want them to get too brown.”  I suspect that’s because she often forgets to defrost the frozen blintzes in advance.