I knocked on the door cradling a round cake pan in one arm and firmly grasping a bottle of Prosecco in the other. My friend from temple, Marsha was expecting me for an early afternoon visit to talk about Jewish food memories. I recently received a used copy of Love and Knishes written by Sara Kasdan, originally published in 1956. The classic Jewish cookbook blended humorous stories with the recipes, making this a book one might actually read through before even trying a recipe. Marsha had the same book and we decided I’d pick a recipe from it to bring over for a taste testing. I picked Babke (Batter Coffee Cake) because Marsha loved my chocolate babka and I was curious what the difference between the Babke and Babka was. It turns out that despite having a very similar ingredient list, the recipes are completely different.
My chocolate babka is a rich, buttery sweet yeast dough that is filled with decadent chocolate filling and topped with a cinnamon streusel. The twisted Jewish classic is relatively easy to make but does require patience. Kasdan’s babke on the other hand is not a twisted delight of chocolate layers. It is more cake-like than bread. Regardless, Marsha and I agreed they are both delicious, especially when paired with a mimosa. As we noshed, Marsha pulled out an old family photo album and walked me down her memory lane.
Marsha’s maternal grandmother, Sarah, was from Lithuania. She was well-known in the family for her challah, butterkuchen and pierogen which were made with challah dough and filled with beef lung. Marsha’s early food memories included going with her grandmother to the kosher meat market to pick out the shabbat dinner chicken. Marsha herself became famous in the family for her chopper liver recipe. As we prepare for Passover Seder, she has graciously offered to share her recipe. Keep in mind, this is from decades of making it from memory and no written recipe card exists. You might need to make adjustments as you get it just right for your table.
Marsha’s Chopped Liver
- Preheat oven to 350. Place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Place 1 pound chicken liver on it. Bake 20 minutes, turn and bake an additional 13-15 minutes.
- To caramelize the onion, chop 1-pound sweet onion (Vidalia or Texas sweet) and place it all in a fry pan with 2 tablespoons canola oil. Have the heat on a little lower than medium and cover the onions for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After cooking onions covered for 15 minutes, remove cover, raise heat to medium, add a pinch of sugar, and cook until caramelized. Cool slightly.
- Place the caramelized onions, the baked chicken livers, 3-4 chopped hard boiled eggs and salt to taste in a food processor. Process until it is all smooth and there are no large pieces.
- Spread the chopped liver pate in a baking dish and refrigerate.
- Serve chilled with matzo or challah if it’s not Passover.