I have no excuses.

It seems sort of ridiculous to be posting another recap when so many others are as of yet unfinished. There was that brunch at the start of the year. Then the East Meets [South] West dinner that I had planned. One of the out-of-towners from the aforementioned dinner has already been back in touch, and I haven’t even begun to share the Sweet Potato Ice Cream Recipe with you. And, there was the dinner party for a friend’s birthday where I neglected to take a single photo.

What can I say? It’s been a whirlwind, at best. And, I’m not good at managing my time.

I’ve managed, however, to do more cooking. You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I share with you a series of photos from the latest—a Jewish Deli Inspired Brunch.

Jewish Deli Spread

What if I give you a cocktail, too? Maybe two.

Ok, good then, that should assuage some of my guilt.

The menu, then:
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls (or, Kanidela, as we call them in my family)
Rye Bread
Challah
Knishes, two ways (Classic and Spinach)
Corned Beef
Black and White Cookies
Rainbow Cookies (adapted from this recipe)

To drink:
Cel-Ray Tonics
Not quite Manischewitz Cocktails
Assorted Dr. Brown’s Sodas

And, as promised: the cocktails. Almost a year ago, I alluded to my plans for the first in this post. It’s a boozy twist on a deli classic: Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic.

Cel-ray tonic is one of those things, like violet candies or marmite, that you either get or you don’t. Although I’ll never quite understand the appeal of marmite, I’m firmly in the “for” camp when it comes to the voilets and the cel-ray. Of course, I’m also of the school of thought that there is very little that cannot be improved upon with a good splash of booze. So, consider these Cel-Ray tonics my elevation of the classic. Bright green, floral, and surprisingly refreshing, the gin adds some subtle floral notes, you’ll want to use one with a stronger flavor—I like Tanqueray for this one—otherwise the gin flavor will get a bit lost.

Speaking of which—Manischewitz.

If ever there was an alcohol designed to put me off alcohol, this was it. At my temple, when you were Bat Mitzvah-ed, you were given a Kiddush cup and expected to say the Kiddish at the Shabbat Service the night before your Bat Mitzvah service. I lived in fear of this. It wasn’t the Hebrew—that, I had under control. It was the wine. It was cloying and harsh and the smell—I’ll just say this: I didn’t realize for many years that wine could taste good.

And, yet, as I get older, I’m finding myself more nostalgic—I still don’t want to drink Manischewitz, but the scent takes me instantly back to being thirteen in a sanctuary on Long Island, horrified as my cantor told me that I hadn’t poured enough wine into the Kiddish cup and trusting that I could count on my father to drink the balance. Keep reading for a cocktail that captures the scent and that you’ll actually want to drink.

Cel-Ray Tonic

Cel-Ray Tonics
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 celery stalks, with leaves still attached
1 cup celery juice
1 cup gin
Seltzer

Bring 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 2 celery stalks to a boil to make a simple syrup. Strain the celery and refrigerate the simple syrup.

Once the syrup has cooled, combine it with the celery juice and gin in a large pitcher. Top off with seltzer to taste.

Makes 6-8 drinks

Not quite Manischewitz Cocktails
1 oz Concord Grape Vodka
1 oz simple syrup
6 oz seltzer
splash of lime

Mix the first three ingredients together, serve over ice and finish with a splash of lime.

Makes one drink

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3 Comments

Filed under Brunch, Etc.

3 responses to “I have no excuses.

  1. joyce

    The photos are stunning and i could almost taste the menu… after years of no deli , I am very tempted to get some before Passover.

  2. mjroseauthor

    The photos are great! And I adore Cel-ray tonic. My dad used to take me with him to work every once in while when he had to work on Saturdays (he worked in the toy biz in the toy building on 5th and 23rd so I loved it – I got to play) we’d take a lunch break at the “Golden Key Club” and have extra lean corned beef on rye with mustard and Cel-Ray tonics. Haven’t had one in a long while! Great memory – thanks – think they’ll have it on the bus?

  3. I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the photos here. I was too busy cooking. Thankfully my sister and my friend Abbey obliged me.

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