| Man With a Pan |

Up for the Challenge

Illustration by Lea Kron

Before I start, I need to mention that it was not my wife who suggested I do Man with a Pan. Shout out to my mother and mother-in-law — both avid Mishpacha readers — who suggested several times that they would like to see me featured. I couldn’t turn down such a challenge and just needed to find a good week for it.

I arranged with a brother-in-law who lives nearby that we’d eat together: Friday night by me and Shabbos day by him — but I’d be cooking everything.

Tuesday night I created a rough menu in my mind with all the basics. I knew I’d make matbucha and some form of potato kugel, in addition to all the basics like fish and chicken. The only thing missing was a side dish for Friday night. I spent all Wednesday morning thinking about it and finally settled on Popcorn Cauliflower. I didn’t plan anything for dessert because we generally just serve candy unless my wife has time to bake something.

The real work started Wednesday afternoon. I headed out to a store down the block that sells vegetables in large quantities. Then I immediately got to work on the matbucha (from Sababa cookbook) since it needs a few hours to cook down. With the tomatoes underway and the peppers and jalapeños broiling in the oven, the whole mixture was in the pot by 8:00 p.m. I then headed out for Minchah-Maariv, with a stop at another grocery store on my way home to pick up a few things.

When I got home, I checked on the matbucha — it was boiling down nicely. It was too late to get challah into the oven so I figured I’d just prepare the dough. That left the oven free so I popped in some garlic drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I then made the challah dough but had my wife take challah. Everything went into the fridge, and I went off to sleep.

Revising the Menu

Thursday morning is when the fun started. I’m not at all creative in the kitchen and my way of cooking fish and chicken is looking through the cookbooks we have, finding something I haven’t yet made, and then following it word for word. After flipping through a few cookbooks, I settled on the Maple OJ Chicken from Dinner Done. I got it in the oven before taking my daughter to playgroup, and then set the timer on my phone for three-and-a-half hours — the great part of working from home is that I can cook anything in the middle of the day.

When I finished work for the day, I flipped through the cookbook again for a salmon recipe — I really don’t like gefilte fish so we usually have salmon or sushi salad for Shabbos. I settled on Lemon Dijon Salmon from the same book, which was pretty quick to put together.

After picking up Mishpacha, I got to work on shaping the challah. I had to start earlier in the evening since I needed to get all of the double batch of challos baked before it got too late. With half the dough shaped, I headed out to Minchah-Maariv, but then cheated a bit because my wife had to take out the first batch and get the second into the oven. When I got home, I finished shaping the rest.

Then I prepared a mushroom dip that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law really like. The annoying thing is dicing all the mushrooms, but once that’s out of the way, it sits on the stove for half an hour with no more work. At this point, I sat down to relax but I get a text from my brother-in-law asking for the menu. He informed me I need to include “real” meat — so that meant back to the store Friday morning. Wonderful.

The Rush is On

Friday morning there were several things still to be made. Did I mention that this week we were making an early Shabbos so our guests’ children would be awake for the meal at our house?

Before taking my daughter to playgroup, I prepped a bag of green beans to be cooked later. On the way back, I stopped at the supermarket nearby to buy meat. At 8:30 in the morning, there wasn’t a great selection and it was mostly rib eye steaks, so I bought two rib eyes for Friday night and a minute roast for Shabbos day. When I got home, I spiced some cauliflower and got it into the oven before I started work.

At midday, I picked up my daughter and I played with her for half an hour before putting her into bed for a nap. At the very least, I had to finish the kugel and chummus before she woke up since she doesn’t like the sound of a food processor. Potato kugel is one of those foods that just screams bochur but I believe it carries over nicely into married life as well. And for the chummus — my wife made it the first week we were married and I liked it so much, we’ve made sure to have it every week since.

In the summer we don’t do a heavy cholent, so I prepared a Moroccan cholent with just ground meat and rice. Afterwards came the green beans with soy sauce, and then I started washing dishes so the kitchen would be clean for Shabbos.

Next up was the meat. I live in an apartment and don’t own a grill, so a grill pan always suffices. I grilled one steak rare and the other medium, since it would still be going into the oven before Shabbos. Hopefully, they would come out medium rare and medium well done (the way my wife likes her steak), respectively.

Last bit of cooking was getting the minute roast into the oven. I found a recipe in the Bais Yaakov Cookbook and set my timer for an hour. By the time the roast was done, it was already 5:30 and I was running out of time — the plan was to daven Minchah at 6:45. I quickly put half of the chummus, matbucha, mushroom dip, and roasted garlic into separate containers and brought everything for Shabbos day over to my brother-in-law. I left them with some instructions and headed home to get ready to for Shabbos.

How it Went Over

I think everyone was happy since I got no complaints! Most importantly, the meat came out exactly as I had hoped. I’m glad I was able to help out my wife and give her a Shabbos free of planning any menus and cooking.

Wife’s Note

When my husband told me about his plan to do Man with a Pan, I thought he was joking! Once I realized he was serious, I was excited to see him make a full Shabbos on his own. He was very proactive and started planning his menu and shopping for Shabbos early on in the week. Everything came out really delicious, and it was really nice not to have to worry about any of the food for Shabbos and have a surprise menu.

The Man

Mendel Kosofsky,

Age 28

Cooking for 4 adults and 2 children

Philadelphia, PA

The Plan
Friday Night:

Homemade Challah

Creamy Lemon Dijon Salmon
(Dinner Done)


Matbucha (Sababa)

Roasted Garlic

Mushroom Dip

Rib Eye Steak

Maple OJ Chicken (Dinner Done)

Potato Kugel

Popcorn Cauliflower

Fried Green Beans

Shabbos Lunch:

Homemade Challah



Roasted Garlic

Mushroom Dip

Moroccan Cholent

Minute Roast (Bais Yaakov Cookbook)


Popcorn Cauliflower
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) cauliflower
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 6–8 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a baking pan, mix all ingredients together. Roast for about 30 minutes.

Mushroom Dip
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20–24 oz (570–680 g) fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

Sauté onions in oil. Add mushrooms and all other ingredients except the mayonnaise. Cook for 30 minutes. Cool and add mayonnaise.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 803)

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