| Man With a Pan |

Men with a Menu

Illustration by Lea Kron

The Men

Ruvy and Efraim Klein

Cooking for 6

Undisclosed location in California (not LA)

Here we are in sunny California after a beautiful Yom Tov with the whole mishpachah. My brother and I knew that my mother and sisters really gave it their all with all the Yom Tov meals (each one better than the next!). What a perfect opportunity to whip together a Shabbos, give our mom a break, and at the same time have some fun in the kitchen.

Now let me tell you, this isn’t the first time we’ve cooked for Shabbos. Last year on this very Shabbos we cooked for the Friday night seudah and even hosted a couple of guests. In my humble opinion, it was a smashing success. (So much so that I even thought about putting out my very own cookbook. Stay tuned.)

This time we decided we’d take it one step further. We’d make the whole Shabbos, and no, we wouldn’t have machine matzah or even buy challah. We’re doin’ this start to finish!

Menu Planning

The first step is to plan the menu. To be honest, my style is to cook on the fly, whatever-comes-to-mind-add-to-the-pot style, but l’kavod Shabbos, my brother thought it would be a good idea to put pen to paper. And as soon as we did, the ideas came flowing in.

Of course, we’d start with challah and dips. My brother is famous for his killer pesto, so that was a no-brainer. Techinah is a family favorite, and one of my personal bests is the old-time olive dip. We decide we’ll throw in some fresh tomatoes for a nice garden splash surprise.

For the appetizer, we agree upon some chicken wontons with duck sauce (because nothing brings a smile to our family’s faces more than some home-fried wontons). In between the appetizer and the main course, we’ll serve grapefruit halves, just to cleanse the palate and prepare everyone for what was coming next! Remember, we’re only in the planning stages so things are bound to change, but this is the blueprint.

For the side dish, I really want to make my anenas (pineapple) kugel. I love having a sweet kugel on Friday night, and what’s more beautiful than a pineapple? For the main we decide on Onion Maple Balsamic Chicken and white rice. The goal is for the chicken to be saucy to go with the rice.

The rule is that every meal needs a veggie, so although pineapple is technically a vegetable, we add crispy roasted broccoli too. For Friday night dessert, my brother claims he can make an apple-
blueberry turnover. We shall see.

For the Shabbos day seudah, once we’re in the kitchen anyway, we figure we’ll throw together a simple yet delicious grilled chicken Caesar salad and hearts of palm-avocado-tomato salad (for lack of a better name). My brother will make the famous cholent he makes in yeshivah. Let me tell you, it’s really somethin’! We plan to throw a London broil on the grill to complement the cholent.

For dessert I’m going to make my childhood claim to fame, Jello fruit cups. Just for old times’ sake. Yes, we’re aware that this isn’t your bubby’s Shabbos menu, but we’ll have gefilte fish and potato kugel in yeshivah.

Here goes!

It’s Cooking Time!

First I start on the pineapple kugel, while my brother starts on the pesto dip. Although the recipe calls for canned pineapple, I go for a fresh one. I throw all the ingredients into the food processor, pour the batter into a round pan, sprinkle some coarse sugar and vanilla sugar on top, and pop it in the oven.

Meanwhile, my brother is very busy. He picks and checks fresh basil from the herb garden and plans to blend it with some roasted pine nuts and a tinge of olive oil to create his signature fresh pesto, but he can’t seem to put the food processor together. With some outside help he succeeds, and we’re ready to move on!

Now we need a break, so we head outside to plant a pomegranate tree — one of our bein hazmanim goals. We hope to include some pomegranate seeds in our future Shabbos cooking.

The plan for the apple-blueberry turnovers is to make them early, freeze them, and defrost them on Friday. We cook up the apples and blueberries for the filling, add brown sugar and a splash of bourbon, and fill some puff pastry triangles. When they come out of the oven, they’re a little on the large side, but who’s complaining?

One of the perks of living out of town is that instead of you deciding what your menu should be, the store does. This is why we have to switch the London broil to Grilled Lemon-Basil Chicken Skewers. Turns out we didn’t get enough chicken, so we go back to the store to get more. On the way back, we realize we actually forgot to buy the chicken, so we turn around and head back again.

Once we successfully secure the chicken, my brother is able to start on his specialty marinades. The first one is a lemon-basil fresh parsley, and the second is for the wontons. This one has red wine, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce, and maybe a few other surprises.

Meanwhile I sauté the onions for the Onion Maple Balsamic Chicken for Friday night. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to use real natural maple syrup or the pancake one, so I go for both — worse comes to worst, we’ll serve it for breakfast.

Nuch dem, we quickly pop the broccoli in the oven and move on.

For the olive dip, I like using the ones with pimentos and with only a touch of mayo. Turns out throwing in a couple fresh tomatoes is a fabulous idea.

Now we just needed to fry the wontons, grill the chicken, and make the salads. My sister helps make the challah dough, and I pop the loaves into the oven.

At this point, our little brother wants to get involved, so we tell him he can make his deadly karpas salt water. We’ll find something to dip in it.

Cleaning up the kitchen is exhausting, but we know it’s not a help if you leave the kitchen a mess.

Fast-forward to Shabbos. Are we nervous? Perhaps.

How It Went

Baruch Hashem, it turns out really well. The dips and wontons are great. Everyone is pleasantly surprised by the grapefruit palate cleanser. My palate has never been so clean. The chicken turns out really good, but maybe next time I would add more maple. The pineapple kugel was also great; some felt it really brought them back to their Hungarian roots. We also made a grapefruit lemon lime cocktail, which added a refreshing kick.

At the Shabbos day seudah, we made a last-minute executive decision to add deli to the hearts of palm salad, since we’d anyway made the wrong dressing. It was a bit lomdish but good nonetheless. The lemon-basil skewers, after a 48-hour marinade, came out very flavorful and good. We also slapped a squash on the grill; turns out you’re supposed to take out the seeds first, but we explain that we didn’t want to ruin its natural beauty.

The Jello cups are a great blast from the past. We serve them with one of our personal masterpieces, a blueberry cookie. Similar to the well-known blueberry muffin but different in so many ways. A truly brilliant chiddush.

Mother’s Take

I was really wiped out after a wonderful Yom Tov with all of my kids and grandkids, so when my boys offered to do Man with a Pan, I was thrilled. They took care of everything, from meal planning to shopping to cooking. The food was amazing, incredibly flavorful and gourmet. They took no shortcuts, using fresh ingredients and innovative recipes. My favorite dish was the apple turnovers. What an amazing Shabbos!!

The Plan
Friday Night:

Challah and Dips (Pesto, Techinah, Tomato Olive)

Chicken Wontons

Grapefruit Halves (palate cleanser)

Onion Maple Balsamic Chicken (from the Peas Love & Carrots cookbook)


Roasted Broccoli

Pineapple Kugel

Citrus Cocktail

Apple-Blueberry Turnovers, with whip on the side

Shabbos Lunch:

Challah and Dips

Tomato-Avocado-Deli Salad

Cholent and Kishka

Lemon-Basil Chicken Skewers

Grilled Squash

Jello Fruit Cups

Blueberry Cookies


Blueberry Cookies

Based on a recipe of my mother’s


  • ½ cup margarine
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 handfuls fresh blueberries

Mix together and shape into cookies. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 15–20 minutes while singing your favorite song.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 839)

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