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Brisket, Celeriac Puree and Sweet and Sour Cabbage: Happy Passover

March 22, 2013 Deanna No Comments

There are certain foods I grew up with in America that were known as Jewish food. When I first came to Israel I was sure that those “Jewish” foods would be readily available throughout the country. Take bagels for example, probably the most Jewish of foods you can find in America. I have still yet to find a good bagel in the country, and the ones I have found have been over-priced, hard, and nothing like the real “Jewish” American ones.

Brisket is another one of these foods. Every American Jewish mom has their own recipe for Brisket, which is actually a beef roast, synonymous with the name of cut the beef. All the briskets I tasted stateside have all shared a common denominator: cooked for hours in a sweet and savory gravy-like sauce. Here is Israel, I have yet to come across a brisket at the dinner table, even during the holidays.

This recipe was based on my mom’s famous brisket recipe, which always comes out perfectly soft, sweet and tangy, just the way it’s meant to be. But like most moms I know, my mom uses ingredients in her brisket that my generation loves to eat, but can’t bring themselves to cook with the stuff. My mom cooks her brisket for about 5 hours and bastes it every 30 minutes. If you have the time and will, go ahead and baste, but I found that tightly securing the meat does the same job.

Danya was in charge of bringing the recipes for the side dishes, and while I knew she was doing the celery root puree, she surprised me with the sweet and sour cabbage. What she didn’t know was that the brisket itself also incorporates sweet and savory flavors, but yet somehow she came up with a dish that was so perfectly fitting for the brisket.

Mom Inspired Brisket

To get this cut of meat in Israel ask your butcher (a few days in advance) for the cut known as “Brost” or cut number 3. This dish gets better with time, so I suggest making it a day in advance. After refrigeration, the large fat deposits float to the top and become solid, making it easy to remove. To reheat, simply place in the oven, covered for about 30 minutes before serving.

Ingredients for 8-10 servings:

2 cups beef stock

2 cups readymade jelly (I used apricot, but you can use any flavor)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3.5 kg/8 pound brisket

15 garlic cloves

5 medium onions, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the beef stock, jelly, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, oregano and thyme.
  3. Season the brisket generously with salt and pepper. Use a sharp knife to poke 15 holes throughout the brisket. Stuff the holes with garlic cloves.
  4. Line the bottom of your baking pan with the sliced onion and place the brisket directly on top of the onions. Pour the prepared sauce over the brisket.
  5. Cover the meat tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 3-4 hours, until the meat is very tender, but not falling apart.
  6. Remove meat to a cutting board and slice into ¼-inch (½ cm.) slices. If you like your sauce smooth, then blend the sauce and the strain. (We served ours chunky, just the way it came out of the oven).

Celeriac Puree

When we were in France last month, we ate the most velvety celery root puree served with roasted lamb at Spring. When we got back from France, Danya was inspired by the big and beautiful celery roots in season now, that she was inspired to recreate the dish. What’s important to take note of in this recipe is that due to the face that every potato and celery root are different sizes, keep in mind that the ratio should be ⅔ celery root and ⅓ potatoes.

Ingredients for 8-10 servings:

3 large celeriac, peeled and cut into large cubes (about 3 pounds/1½ kilos)

5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes

1 tablespoon salt

½ cup heavy cream

3.5 oz./100 grams butter, melted

Salt and fresh ground pepper, according to taste


  1. Fill a large pot with water and celeriac, potatoes and the tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until both are softened.
  2. Strain the celeriac and potatoes from the water, retaining a ½ cup of the cooking water.
  3. Place the celeriac and potatoes in a large bowl and add the heavy cream and butter. Blend with a hand blender until smooth, but making sure not to over blend where it becomes paste-like. If the mix seems too thick, add a bit of the cooking water.
  4. Season with salt and pepper according to taste and serve warm.


Sweet and Sour Cabbage

If you are preparing this dish without making the brisket as well, replace the sauce from the brisket with a bit more butter, olive oil and lemon juice.

Ingredients for 8-10 servings:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium heads of red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 oz./50 grams, butter

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup of the sauce retained from the brisket


  1. Heat the olive oil in large pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped cabbage, reduce heat and cook, while stirring for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is softened.
  3. Add the butter, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt and cook on low heat for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and the brisket sauce and season with salt and pepper according to taste.
  5. Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil, on top of the celeriac puree.





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