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A rectangular latke takes shape at Edith’s Sandwich Counter in Brooklyn



(New York Jewish Week) — At Edith’s Sandwich Counter, a “Jew-ish” takeout place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the most popular bagel sandwich is their bacon-egg-cheese-latke (BECL) combo. Each element of the sandwich’s filling is made to order: crispy bacon, an omelet cooked in an individually-sized tamagoyaki pan, topped with sharp cheddar and a freshly fried latke.

Since opening as a brick and mortar store in spring of 2021, the BECL has become Edith’s most popular bagel sandwich — and demand for the latke as a stand-alone side dish is high, too. This presented a challenge: As anyone who’s ever hosted a Hanukkah party knows, cranking out those fresh, crispy latkes, one at a time, had become challenging. They sell thousands of latkes a week.

“It was getting harder and harder for us to keep up,” owner and founder Elyssa Heller told the New York Jewish Week. “I wanted to find a way to improve the quality of our latke and use our growth as a vehicle for getting better.”

Enter Heller’s invention: the rectangular latke. While Edith’s does not serve traditional Jewish deli food (see crispy bacon, above), they do take historical elements of how Jews ate throughout the Diaspora and incorporate them into their menu. After doing some research, Heller determined that what makes a latke a latke is not its circular shape (which it assumes when the batter is dropped by the spoonful into oil), but that the potatoes are mixed in an egg batter and then fried.

Case in point: The name alone, “latke,” simply means “little oily,” according to Gil Marks’s “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.” In other words, a latke is about the oil, not the ingredients nor the shape. “Every food has a standard of identity, characteristics that define it,” said Heller. “Nothing was ever mentioned about a latke needing to be round. As opposed to round challah on Rosh Hashanah, which represents the cycle of life, the shape of the latke has no symbolic meaning.”

In other words, a latke is still a latke even if its shape fits in the box.

Here’s how they do it: The latke batter — which consists of Yukon Gold potatoes, onions, eggs, potato starch and matzah meal — is poured into a large sheet pan and par-baked so that it is 80% done and keeps its shape when cut. The giant latke is then cut into rectangles, the same size and shape as the omelet it sits atop in the bagel sandwich. Then, when an order comes in, the almost ready-to-eat latke is fried and served piping hot.

The resulting sandwich, in which egg and latke match in size, is Instagram-worthy —  an essential requirement in the food world of today. And, just as important, the diner gets a bite of latke with each bite of egg.

Diners are delighted by the results: Comments on Instagram range from “this is the innovation we need” to “I want those crispy corners.” At the same time, they don’t seem particularly surprised. “People know that, here at Edith’s, we do things our own way while honoring traditions,” Heller said.

(You may be thinking, “Aren’t the hash browns at McDonald’s essentially a rectangular fried latke?” True, the fast food giant has been selling rectangular-shaped portable potatoes for more than 40 years, but again: A latke is typically made with an egg batter; hash browns are not.)

Heller, who also owns Edith’s Eatery & Grocery, a sister establishment to the sandwich counter, founded both places to make good Jewish food accessible all year long — not just for the holidays. The latkes, based on Heller’s grandmother’s recipe, are on the menu 365 days of the year. Their BECL comes on Edith’s signature twisted bagel for $13.50; if you want just the latke, you can have that for $2.75 (add $1.25 if you want it topped with creme fraiche).

For Hanukkah — which starts this year on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 18 —  Edith’s Sandwich Counter and Edith’s Eatery & Grocery will be preparing their new rectangular latke, which will be accompanied by a choice of ketchup, hot sauce, apple sauce or creme fraiche. They will also serve braised brisket and jelly donuts, although the team at Edith’s has not yet determined the jelly flavors they will use.

In the spirit of “intellectually driven food” that Heller espouses, Edith’s also has a Russian cheese pancake, syrniki, on the menu. It is similar to the cheese pancakes that Jews in Eastern Europe prepared for Hanukkah before potato cultivation became widespread there starting in 1840. Made with farmer’s cheese and accompanied by smetana, a cross between sour cream and creme fraiche, and tart currant kissel, a thick fruit syrup, it is available for Hanukkah and all year round, too.

Interested in making rectangular latkes of your own? Our friends at our partner site, The Nosher, have Edith’s recipe here.

Edith’s Sandwich Counter is at 495 Lorimer Street in Brooklyn. 

The post A rectangular latke takes shape at Edith’s Sandwich Counter in Brooklyn appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Local News

Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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