Share a special recipe

Today’s mitzvah, invites you to share a “secret” family recipe so that others can enjoy it, both within your family and outside of your family.

Grandma Rose visiting Vermont - 1978

This mitzvah has a back story. Out of the blue, the week before my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I got an email from a long lost cousin. She is related to my grandmother Rosa Rabow who lived in New York City and was a caterer during the 50’s and 60’s. My beloved Grandma Rose greatly influenced my Jewish identity and I have many fond childhood memories of my grandmother, most revolving around eating and cooking. Receiving this initial email and ultimately getting to talk with this cousin and hearing stories about my grandmother whom I had always thought was an orphan and an only child has been absolutely amazing. 

Quick story: When I was a teenager Grandma Rose, would often come to Vermont to visit our family during the year. Her arrival would usually be met with mixed anticipation. She was an Orthodox German Jew, devout in her customs and her relationship with my liberal, non-observant father, her only child was fairly tense. When Grandma Rose arrived on the Greyhound bus, her stiff wiry silver hair was always neatly coiffed. She wore matronly sturdy black shoes and a frock dress covering her sturdy, full figured body likely amassed after years of working as a caterer. She always came heavily saddled with shopping bags filled with edible surprises.

In the shopping bags, were delicacies from New York City. There were boxes of cookies from the local kosher bakery plus probably two dozen bagels and lox. My grandmother also brought a few pounds of smoked whitefish. The fish would be intact complete with heads and tails. Wrapped in white butcher paper, the fish was oily and tasty. In those days, whitefish was more mysterious to me than lox. I had seen lox at our synagogue on many occasions, but smoked whitefish was an exotic treat. The next day my father would prepare his lox and bagel with a slice of onion, tomato and would gingerly fork every morsel of the soft, delectable oily whitefish to top. He would lick his fingers enjoying this special New York treat immensely.

Few of the items my grandmother brought created more glee for my father than a white box with parchment paper. Inside was one of his favorite treats. Chocolate covered orange peels. They were long and skinny with dark chocolate wrapped around each one. My father sighed with delight as he tasted that first delicious bite. Once when I tried one, I spit it out because it tasted so bitter. He was upset that I would waste one of those special treasures. I could never understand how my dad loved them so much.

My newly discovered relative asked if I knew about my grandmother’s Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce recipe. Of course, it’s a recipe I have made for years, the original recipe given to me at an engagement party and long part of my family cookbook. My mitzvah today is to share this recipe with you. It is fairly easy even for a novice chef and the results of course are very memorable.

I am so eager to learn more about my long lost cousin and learn more stories about our family history and hopefully even get to meet her in person when I get back to the east coast next year.

Enjoy the recipe.

Salmon with Dill Sauce (from the kitchen of Rosa Rabow z”l)

 This can be made with either salmon steaks or a whole salmon.

Poach fish – place the fish in a pyrex pan and add some liquid to the bottom of the pan. I like to use some lemon juice, wine or water and some large chunks of onion and celery. Salt and pepper the fish. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for approximately 20-30 minutes at 350. Fish is done when moist and flakey. Alternately, you could poach the fish with the same ingredients on top of the stove.

Dill Sauce – ¼ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tbs. pickle relish or chop a couple of small pickles

1 heaping tbls raw onion

handful of parsley and dill (coarsely chopped)

2 tsp sugar

pinch salt

Add all the ingredients and mix sauce. Let sauce sit for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. Serve Fish with Dill Sauce on the side.


One thought on “Share a special recipe”

  1. This is a beautiful memory of the woman who told me I would always be the mother of her only two grandchildren. She cared about me long after her son had moved on to live with and love another woman. I think of her often, her hearty laugh, her smile, her wonderful Jewish food, and the difficult life she led prior to her arrival in New York City. Dear Rosa, I still can see your little apartment in my mind’s eye. I think of you every year, around Mother’s Day and your “selected” birthday, May 15th. It is usually a day when I see a rose in bloom and remember you and George, my father-in-law with the twinkle in his loving eyes. He’s the only father-in-law I’ve ever had… and I think I loved him more than I did my own father. He was kind and generous, and I don’t remember one cross word that ever passed between us.

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