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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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Fruit Cocktail Salad a la 1960's

Occupy Wall Street is at the forefront of the news these past 2 months. Everyone is making the connection between the sit-ins of the 1960's and the firmly rooted crowds in cities across the nation. I tell myself repeatedly that this is a food blog, not a soapbox for my political leanings. Besides, while 99% is my piece of the pie, I'm not about to bite the hand I feed. Many of my clients are 1%'ers actively involved in the community, their good works contributing much to the general 100%. No, the 1960's are in my consciousness for 2 other reasons; 1) food, and 2) I wish I had bangs.

I'm having a great time rockin' Shabbat dinners at Hillel. There is the parsha, the weekly Torah portion read, and there is the THEME of Shabbat dinner. A couple of weeks ago, we decide on an "All You Can Eat Buffet". Public school lunches come to mind, the hot cafeteria at the old Woolworth's back in the day. Fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, succotash (yep, sufferin' succotash....from the Depression to the 60's), and lemon meringue pie grace the Shabbat table. And, for the salad, I'm groovin' on fruit cocktail.

Running up and down the supermarket aisle, there isn't any fruit cocktail with a hechsher. Ruchie Farkash, rebbitzen of the Eastside Torah Center, is approaching from the opposite end of the aisle. Ruchie! What's up with the fruit cocktail. Admittedly, I haven't tried to buy any in the 19 years since I converted...why should they make it? She says it has something to do with the red cherries so there isn't any. Hmmm.

Undeterred, I calculate that I should be able to figure out how to make fruit cocktail....something like fruit and simple syrup. It isn't peach season and so I buy some canned diced peaches. Other than that, I can come up with pears, grapes, pineapple and maraschino cherries. I'm kind of excited. Growing up with 5 siblings, the odds of being the kid to get a maraschino cherry from the fruit cocktail was slim. Odds improved when my older sisters moved out of the house at the end of the 60's. Now, I can buy JARS of maraschino cherries and liberally sprinkle them into the fruit cocktail. Oh, and key to a fruit cocktail salad is the iceberg lettuce. Usually, I reserve that tasteless, water-logged piece of fiber for tacos. It is a must for this salad.

Waiting in line to check out, I see the most recent issue of "Fall Entertaining" from Cook's Illustrated. I toss it into the cart. Later, taking a break, I browse the publication and happen upon a recipe, REVIVING FRUIT COCKTAIL. Can you believe it....I've got my finger on the pulse of what's happening!

I make family style bowls of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with fruit cocktail. I'm totally jazzed about the whole meal. Reminds me of the meals I grew up with, what school lunch was made of, what sat in warming steam tables at Woolworth's for anyone who had a couple of bucks. The following Monday, I ask Erez, the student mashgiach, how dinner went. Everyone loved everything.....except, they weren't quite sure how to eat the fruit cocktail salad!! Ah, the olden days......



Kosher Status: Parve
Number of servings: 8 - 10
Main Ingredient(s):
Preparation Time: 00:20
Cooking Time: 00:10
Skill Level: 1 - Easy (1 Easy - 5 Hard)
Estimated POINT value:


Ingredients:


  • 2 ripe peaches (if not in season, add canned diced peaches at the end)
  • 2 ripe but firm pears
  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into small wedges
  • 1 cup seedless grapes (I left them whole, you can half them if you want)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, halved



Steps:

Prep the fruit as described and put into a bow. Toss with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Gently empty the fruit into a colander and place the bowl underneath. Let the fruit drain for 30 minutes.

Set the fruit aside. Put the fruit juice into a small sauce pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and lemon juice. Simmer to reduce the liquid to 1/4 cup. It'll turn to a simple syrup. Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Stir to blend and set aside to cool.

Add the fruit syrup to the fruit and gently toss. Add the marachino cherries just before serving.



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