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Feeding the Family

Behind the Scenes with the Family Table Team

Every week, the Family Table team has been offering you recipes and tips to feed the family. What goes on behind the scenes for this team of expert cooks and recipe developers?
Try, Try Again
Faigy Grossman

As surprising as it might sound, not all recipes that I create actually make it to print. One recipe in particular stands out: I was trying to create a dairy flower-shaped pinwheel pastry with a cream cheese center. I must have tried the recipe over ten times, sure that I could get it to work; the picture was that clear in my mind! No matter, each time, the pastry dough puffed up in a lopsided way and the filling also oozed out of the center. I had tried a lotus flavored version, a hazelnut, chocolate, you name it! I was left with hundreds of awkwardly shaped “flowers” and filling all over the place. Suffice it to say, I finally gave up and changed my game plan.

The Vision
Chanie Nayman, editor of Family Table

Before I moved back to America after living in Israel for a few years, I was on a mission to compile every last hard copy of recipes printed in the magazine. I spent hours in the archive room, searching the shelves for every last copy, dating back to issue two, long before the weekly Family Table recipe section existed. I easily found the 200’s, even lots of the 100’s. Getting into the single digits was harder, and I lowered my head and agreed to go home with the well-organized index as a last resort. Since then, we’ve had one goal: anticipating what you will want to make every single week — Shabbos, Yom Tov, and snacks in between. At this point, I think the greatest challenge is creating one very decisive product for so many different kinds of readers. I’ve always wanted everyone to be able to pull out at least one recipe weekly. My grandmother always says, an entire cookbook is worth it if you find one recipe that you make again and again. My ratio is a lot tighter, but I still believe it’s possible.

Brutally Honest
Rivky Kleiman

Before submitting any new recipe, I make sure to test it. And the most discriminating taste testers for Family Table are none other than Family Kleiman. They are brutally honest and let me know which dish deserves a thumbs up and which needs more work. I guess it’s a true family enterprise….

Ideal World Cooking
Michal Frischman

When I develop recipes for Family Table, my “target audience” is actually me — but an idealized version of me, living in a world of absolutely no food rules, no picky kids, and the ability to start prepping dinner before 5 p.m. In real life, I have like 10-15 staple recipes that are in strong rotation in my kitchen. (I assume that reprinting those over and over, the way we eat them over and over, would probably not go over so great with the readers.)

Keep it Doable
Faigy Grossmann

Some food magazines are intentionally high-end and upper-class. Family Table has a different feel: The recipes and suggestions are meant to be attainable and realistic for the busy Jewish woman. You can see that in my column. The format has changed multiple times over the years, but my goal has always been to present you with tablescapes and recipes that are both affordable and doable for the everyday homemaker. Although I do on occasion enjoy a recipe that requires me to patchkeh, I understand that not everyone does. I like to find shortcuts in the kitchen wherever possible, and when I do, I love to share them with you.

Pizza, Macaroni, and Family Table
Chavi Feldman

I constantly get asked if I cook “gourmet” all the time, and I just laugh and answer with a resounding no! I think Hashem had a great sense of humor when he blessed me with some very picky eaters who only like pizza and macaroni. When I develop recipes for Family First, I aim to satisfy people just like me — those who appreciate great food with an interesting twist or two, but not too out-of-the box or complicated, and with a flavor profile that I can sometimes manage to slip onto a kid or two’s plate without having it thrown back in my face!

Sticking With It
Sima Kazarnovsky

Probably one of the more complicated assignments I received was developing a set of barbecue recipes, all cooked on a stick. In concept, it sounds awesome. In practicality, it was sooo complicated. For that entire week, we ate everything on a stick. I invited my nephew and my neighbor over to try the different versions of s’mores cookies for an outsiders’ perspective. By the time we reached attempt number seven for the sweet potatoes, my husband came up with the idea of creating a steam basket on the grill by covering the sweet potatoes with tin foil to help it cook evenly. It took a village, but in the end, I was able to send in recipes that I was confident about. Have I made food on a stick since then? Absolutely not.

Squaring the Circle
Chaya Surie Goldberger

The recipe that garnered the most feedback was a recipe for the square-shaped pasta that my family eats on Rosh Hashanah. The feedback kept coming! In the recipe blurb I had explained the reason for this minhag, and so many people thanked me for finally giving them an explanation for a minhag that their families kept as well.

Flight of Fancy
Chaia Frishman

I was not quite “in the mood” when I was asked to prepare two vegetable-based Pesach side dishes sometime around Tu B’Shevat. Pesach makes me anxious. Then I got a reminder email and a deadline — right before a trip to Israel. I realized I’d have only one day to create and test the recipes after my return.

When I reached the airport, I was informed that my flight had been delayed six hours. On the way back home, I detoured to Gourmet Glatt, looked around the produce section, and grabbed butternut squash and pears, celery root and zucchini. Don’t ask me why. My hands were just grabbing.

I came home and got to work, noting measurements and techniques as I went along. In under an hour I had butternut squash pear muffins as one recipe, and braised celery root and zucchini as a second. When I returned to the airport, it was with two new recipes successfully checked off and a deep sigh of relief!

Can’t Beat the Classics
Brynie Greisman

I’ve published hundreds of recipes since my first Pesach set, but there’s something so classic about those dishes that I’m still hearing from people who greet every Pesach with my grape juice Seder chicken and apple-strawberry crumble. Readers tell me it’s part of their Pesach repertoire until today. By the way — mine too! It’s just not Pesach without those classics.

Sina Mizrahi

You know how some women always have their ear cocked for parenting or household tips? When I overhear women talking about cooking methods, my ears perk up. I love hearing people’s “rules” and the methods they swear by. It stirs content ideas, and I use those overheard conversation to fill my columns — to debunk or affirm common cooking misconceptions (marinating for flavor, salting eggplant, etc.).

Food Shadchan
Sarah Faygie Berkowitz

Appropriately enough, I joined the Family Table team via family. Chanie Nayman originally reached out to my sister Henna Milworn, who is an unbelievable cook and baker, and she said, call my sister Sarah Faygie — she cooks and writes. The rest is history. Henna’s still waiting for shadchanus gelt.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1008)

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