who's in the kitchen: judy joszef

Countdown for Shabbat: Let the races begin!


Why is it, that everything happens right before Shabbat starts? Two weeks ago, half the electricity went out in my house. The freezers and fridge in the garage were out, as was my oven in the kitchen. My stovetop across the kitchen was working, as were the lights above my counters. My dryer in the basement was off, as were the lights. I knew there was no way I would get my regular electrician at that point since it was the start of the weekend, so I quickly called the 24 emergency ones.

No worries, they would be happy to come over. $200 for the visit and $315 to troubleshoot, then extra for whatever parts were needed, and of course tax. For $515 plus, those parts would have to include Stewart Weissman over-the-knee suede boots! (Those who really know me, know I’m happy to wear the copies.)

The next number I called, was even more, but they suggested I call PSE&G as it sounded like only half the power was entering my house. At this point it was 15 minutes before Shabbat. PSE&G said that they would send someone out before 11:45 pm. In the meantime, I checked all the fuses. Nothing was off. One did seem loose, but it was in the on position. As my luck would have it, the PSE&G truck didn’t show up until 11:45. Although they’re only allowed to check if there is an outside issue, he agreed to come in after he found no problem outside … and I begged. He said he would double check the fuses. Seems the main circuit that feeds all the breakers in the basement was actually originally put in backwards so it had to be in the off position to be on. At least it was free!

This past Friday, I picked Jerry up from the station and headed straight to the kitchen to remove my challah from the oven. Then I heard Jerry from upstairs, “Why is our bedroom door locked,” he asked. “It shouldn’t be” I responded. I ran upstairs, it was indeed locked. Unfortunately!

“Is there a key to the lock” he asked. “Yes” I replied. “Last time I saw it was when I put it somewhere safe about 10 years ago, and no I don’t remember where.”

I told him to shower in one of the other bathrooms, and that when our friends, Harry and Bev Fink, arrive for dinner, Harry would be able to figure it out, he always does.

But as it turned out, there was nothing he could do. A credit card would not slide in on the side, because of the wood trim on the door. A screwdriver didn’t fit into the space allotted for the missing key, and a Bobby pin didn’t work either. Then I remembered there was a key of sorts to open the lock of a different bathroom, it was on the top ledge of the door trim, but alas it didn’t work on our bedroom door. It’s actually ironic that I knew where that key was, as that’s the only bathroom door that doesn’t even lock.

At that point I thought we should just make kiddish and eat dinner and worry about it later.

After dinner the four of us went upstairs and tired everything, again and again. It was Shabbat, and of course we should have waited until after Shabbat, but since Jerry needed his clothes for shul in the morning we tried to gently nudge the door handle loose, with a hammer, then a little less gently. At some point we were smashing it. I was sure the neighbors were beginning to wonder. It was amazing how much smashing was going on and the door handle and lock remained intact.

Then after a while it started to slightly come apart. After a half an hour the door handle was ripped out, yet it was still locked. After a few minutes the guys figured it out. We were all exhausted. The Finks left and I went upstairs to change for bed. I carefully left the door open as I didn’t want it to lock again as part of the lock on the side of the frame was still intact, although there was a jarring hole where the elegant door handle once was. As I walked out of our bedroom bathroom, I heard the door click, as Jerry closed it, behind him.” NO! I shouted with the same intensity as when Jerry tries to wear one of his carpenter pants with the utility pockets on both sides … and at the same time he acts as if they are normal casual pants. “You just locked us in our room,” I shrieked.

Seriously, can you even make this stuff up? I was so exhausted at that point, that I crawled into bed and left it up to him. Which, is a pretty scary thought, but somehow during the night he figured out how to open it. Which reminds me, I have to purchase a new lock. And talking about locks …

Eggs Benedict with Nova Lox

Great for a Sunday brunch!


3 English Muffins, halved

6 poached eggs, directions below 

3/4 cup Hollandaise sauce, recipe below

3 Tbs butter for toasted muffins

6 ounces Nova lox

6 small sprigs of dill for garnish, optional

Poaching the Eggs:

Fill a small saucepan with a few inches of water. Heat it on the stove till it is very hot, but not quite boiling yet. You should see a few bubbles rising to the surface, but not more. You should keep the water at this hot even temperature, until all 6 eggs are poached. You may need to adjust the heat as you cook the eggs to keep it from boiling or getting too cool.

Place the opened egg into a small glass or bowl. Pour 1 tbsp of vinegar into the hot water. Stir the water quickly in one direction to create a “whirlpool” in the center of the water.

With your other hand, pour the egg from the dish quickly into the center of the whirlpool, removing the spoon, just before you pour the egg in.

The egg won’t look great at first. Let it swirl in the center of the whirlpool (it will eventually come together), with the white forming a package around the yolk.

Let the egg cook in the hot water for 3 minutes, for a runny yolk, 4 minutes for slightly soft center and 5 for hard yolk. Make sure to constantly monitor the temperature of the water to make sure it stays hot but doesn’t boil. The egg is ready when the white creates a solid opaque membrane over the top of the yolk, and the egg wobbles a little when nudged.

When the egg is ready, remove it from the hot water using a slotted spoon. Once eggs are poached, place muffins into the toaster and start your Hollandaise sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce ingredients:

3/8 tsp salt

Pinch of pepper 

2 Tbs lemon juice 

3/4 cup unsalted butter

This sauce should be prepared immediately before serving. It will take you less than 5 minutes to prepare.

Place eggs yolks, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in the blender, but don’t blend yet. 

Cut the butter into pieces and place it in a small pan. Heat it, till it’s melted, and foamy.

Cover the jar of the blender and blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds. Uncover, still blending at top speed, and immediately start pouring the hot melted butter in a thin stream. Be careful not to burn yourself.

By the time two thirds of the butter has gone in, the sauce will be a thick cream. Leave the milky residue of the melted butter in the bottom of the pan. 

If not used immediately, set the blender with lukewarm but not warm water. It will only be good for a few minutes; any longer, and it will solidify.

Once sauce is finished butter the muffins, and if the eggs have gotten cold, place them in hot water not boiling, and let them warm for 1 minute. Then place the poached eggs on top of the buttered muffins.

Pour Hollandaise sauce on top and finish off with a sprig of dill. Serve immediately.

Contact Judy Joszef: Columnist@TheJewishStar.com