Cooking in isolation


Hi there! It’s Lisa. You may know me from the programs I’ve organized at the Jewish Alliance, or maybe you’ve seen me sweat it out with Coach Rob in the JCC. Given our current state of the world, with hunkering down and practicing social distancing, I recognized the need to connect to others on some kind of level. So, like the rest of the Jewish population, I turned to what I know best: food. I’m a home baker (you can follow my Instagram @Mayflour_bakery) who doesn’t enjoy cooking. If I’m working under hot conditions, (hello, gas oven!), I’d much rather be rewarded with a sweet treat. Also, I’m a super-picky eater, so I’ve really only mastered al dente pasta and scrambled eggs. If the stars are aligned, I can nail a chicken cutlet without drying it out.

A few of my colleagues and I talk about our cooking and baking adventures, so when the editor of "Jewish Rhode Island" (Hi, Fran!) asked me to do a write-up on a recipe from Miriam Pascal’s "More Real Life Kosher Cooking," I thought this would be a great opportunity to reconnect with some of the foods I grew up with at Shabbat dinners. I have to admit, I wasn’t too familiar with Miriam Pascal before this, but after reading her bio I feel a little more confident tackling some of her recipes. She too, does not have an adventurous palate. She mentions how she hates olives, fish, and yogurt. At this point, I thought we could be best friends until she stated her dislike for feta cheese, and that one hurt. Feta cheese is the greatest gift to salads, Miriam! Anyway, she makes her recipes with “approachable ingredients that are still exciting and delicious” ( I appreciated this because as a home baker, I find it difficult to relate to cookbook authors. Don’t tell me to add a pinch here, or a dash there, and the worst: add salt “to taste.” “To taste” is not a measurement, and is a pinch ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon? I need clear instructions, and honestly, even when the recipe is followed to a T, I find it disappointing. So other than this feta cheese incident, Miriam just gets me with her simple recipes and easy-to-follow directions.

Originally I had this deadline to make a few of her dishes and submit my thoughts and reactions, then COVID-19 hit and I had a change of plans. It’s day one in isolation, and I decided to blog and cook my way through confinement. I’m channeling my inner "Julie & Julia" moment and challenging myself to follow recipes from "More Real Life Kosher Cooking" and documenting it along the way. I hope you stay tuned and share your own stories and recipes during this time! We’re going to laugh, maybe cry, and we’ll definitely have to make adjustments when we can’t access ingredients from the store. And remember, there is no quarantine without U or I, so we’re in this together!

Puff Pastry Breakfast Pizza:
I’m starting here with breakfast, and as we’re all experiencing right now, life doesn’t always go as planned. Friends are cancelling weddings, we’re receiving upsetting news that Tom Brady is leaving the Patriots, and families with elderly parents are struggling to see each other. For me, it’s all of the above, in addition to my eggs sliding away from the pizza crust!

I wanted my first recipe to be picture-perfect. I see food blogs and viral videos of gorgeous food styling, and I wanted it to be that for you all. Spoiler: I made a mess! This recipe called for puff pastry crust and a mozzarella cheese-well to hold an egg in the center. As I cracked my egg into the indentation, it slid right off onto my prepared pan, and I panicked! I didn’t want the yolk to crack, making it unsalvageable. So, when things don’t go as planned, all you can do is improvise as best as you can. In my case, it was building a cheese dam to hold my egg in place. For others and our organization, it’s working to create content that’s accessible to our members during this period of physical isolation. It’s important that we all still feel connected to one another; have you seen the JCC’s at-home workout videos yet?!

Until the next recipe, I’d love to hear your breakfast woes and wins, and share some tips and tricks with us as you work with new cooking techniques! Comment below!

food, COVID-19