By Donna Cornelius
Journal features writer
Cooking for a family dinner can take hours of preparation. Cooking for the Friedman Family Foundation LJCC Jewish Food Festival takes quite a bit longer.
Food prep for the 12th annual festival, set this year for Oct. 19 at the Levite Jewish Community Center, begins about six weeks before the event, said LJCC Executive Director Betzy Lynch.
“We have a core committee, and they recruit others to help with the cooking,” Lynch said. “We’ll have 10-15 people come in at a time to cook. On Sept. 30 alone, we cooked 250 pounds of brisket.”
Many of the recipes used for the festival dishes are family favorites, she said.
“They’re often grandma’s recipes—personal and individual, which makes them special,” Lynch said.
The Friedman Family Foundation has sponsored the event since it began, she said.
“The foundation and Fred and Brenda Friedman are very, very philanthropic, not only active in the Jewish community but throughout Birmingham,” Lynch said.
Events like this “make Birmingham more interesting and more diverse,” she said.
This year’s festival has a new setting: outside on the LJCC’s Levite Field.
Traditional Jewish foods will be available for sale, including brisket, noodle kugel, stuffed cabbage, matzoh ball soup, corned beef sandwiches, white fish salad, falafel sandwiches, potato burekas, Israeli salad and more.
Challahs and desserts from Ricki’s Cookie Corner and Bakery in Memphis, Tenn., will also be for sale.
“We have some wonderful bakeries here in Birmingham, but Ricki’s was able to provide the quantity that we need for this event. We had them here last year, and you’ve never tasted challah like this,” Lynch said.
Ricki’s Chipsticks, bar-shaped chocolate chip cookies, “are great, too,” she said.
The festival also includes craft vendors, a farm stand from Owls Hollow Market, a pumpkin patch and pumpkin decorating, pony rides, a bounce house and children’s craft activities. The Ori Naftaly Band, a soul/blues band from Memphis, Tenn., will provide music.
The LJCC will also host a cornhole tournament at the festival. For more information about the tournament, visit www.alabamacornhole.com/events.
Lynch hopes the festival’s new setting and additional activities will encourage those who attend to stay for the whole event from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
“Before, it was come, eat, enjoy and go home. This year, we want people to come, eat, enjoy the activities, eat some more—and then go home,” Lynch said.
For more information, visit bhamjcc.org.
Want to try some LJCC Jewish Food Festival favorites in your own kitchen? Here are recipes for some dishes that are always hits at the event.
Israeli salad can typically be found at the many falafel street stands all over Israel. You can stuff it into a pita with falafel, hummus and tahini, but it also works as a side dish with any Middle Eastern, Greek or North African food.
Makes about 5 servings
6 cucumbers, diced
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
5 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup chopped garlic
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup minced fresh mint leaves
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
Toss the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, parsley and mint together in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to serve.
Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, similar to a pie. The dish is most commonly made from egg noodles or potatoes.
8 oz. thin or medium noodles
1 cup apricot jam
½ cup sugar
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
3 tablespoons margarine
1 cup cornflake crumbs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup sugar
Boil and drain noodles. Mix eggs with ½ cup sugar. Add jam and almond milk.
Combine margarine, cornflake crumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Pour the noodle mixture into a 9×13 greased pan and sprinkle with cornflake crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
SWEET AND SOUR ROLLED CABBAGE
2 pounds ground beef
1 ½ cups cornflakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ cups water
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 cup sugar
¾ cup lemon juice
1 cup water
1 cup sliced onion, sautéed
1 bunch carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 gingersnaps, crushed
Place the cabbage in the freezer for 30 minutes. Core the cabbage and remove outer leaves. Trim the tough base of the leaves. Mix next 6 ingredients. Roll mixture into balls and wrap balls in cabbage leaves. Arrange stuffed cabbage in a baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over cabbage rolls. Bake at 325 degrees for 1-1 ½ hours or until cooked through.