Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bar Mitzvah

We survived the Bar Mitzvah! Since it was a group effort, we've decided to do a joint post. Below are some of our thoughts on the past weekend.


A Bar Mitzvah, or the coming of age for a young man (for a young woman it's a Bat Mitzvah), is a right of passage in Judaism. The idea is that at this age (12 and 13 for girls and boys, respectively), they are expected to assume responsibility for their own actions. Now that's a very broad definition and there are a whole host of religious steps to follow, up to and including reading from the holy scriptures a special and predermined part of the bible that's set for that particular day of the calendar.

Psychgrad: From the perspective of someone who is secular (not religious), some aspects of the religion seem pretty fascinating. Although I was expected to go synagogue regularly as a child, I do experience some level of culture shock in orthodox synagogues. The women and men are separated by a make-shift wall. The women essentially sit at banquet style tables while the men pray. A stark contrast from the more egalitarian lifestyle I am accustomed to. But, more conservative or reform (less extreme followings of the religion) are a little bit closer to what it would be like in a church. I could go on about details of the religion that are pretty unique, but I'll stop there. Plus, some of the more traditional aspects, like the Jewish culture are kind of nice. Like the idea behind a Bar Mitzvah.


A Bar Mitzvah is a time of pride and celebration. Family and friends are invited to witness this ritual and join for festivities. Bar Mitzvahs range from the very simple to the "over the top" elaborate. In our case "J"'s Bar Mitzvah was very simple and very meaningful. Even the dog became part of the celebration.

I'm Kodi and I'm here for the food. If it hits the floor, it's all mine.

Psychgrad and Giz became the beneficiaries of a menu with a subtle (read: squeeze hold) request to help with the food preparation.


It was a pretty large undertaking to cook for what turned out to be about 40 people. But we got through it and could have probably fed 60 with the amount of food we prepared. A lot of the dishes have been featured in some form on the blog. So, let's go through them.

Probably the biggest undertaking was the cake. There are several steps to that, so we'll save it for an upcoming post. If you're into cakes - definitely come back and check out the final cake result.

Here's a snapshot of some of the food:

Here are most of the items in greater detail.

Chicken Marsala:

Satay Chicken:

These are dumplings, made by my aunt's nanny. They're traditional Filipino dumplings made out of ground beef (can also use pork, chicken or I'm sure other meats), ginger, parsley and maybe a couple of other ingrediants. Dumpling wrappers (wontons?) create the shape and the whole dumpling is steamed and served with soy sauce. They were good, but due to time constraints, boiled rather than steamed. So, the texture was a bit too cake-y for my liking.

A version of heavenly salad:

Cold Penne Salad:

This was one of those garden variety type pasta salads. We really didn't want a mayonnaise dressed salad. It started off being a pesto salad until we realized that we only had enough basil for the caprese salad. So we took a little of the pesto, brine from a jar of artichokes, mixed them together and voila - instant dressing.
Added to the salad were:
artichoke hearts
kalamata olives
feta cheese
red, yellow and orange peppers
sliced cucumbers
diced tomatoes

Put in enough until it has that "yup, looks about right feel to it". My niece thought it was the best salad she ever had and nobody even thought it was odd. My lips are sealed. If I would have thought of it, I would have added dill too.

We're submitting this pasta salad to this week's Presto Pasta Night. It's being hosted by Eat the Right Stuff. Only two more weeks until it's our turn to host!!!

Here's a deconstructed Caprese Salad with a light balsamic dressing.

Spanikopita Bites:

These were made using the same recipe found in the above link, but wrapped in tube shapes and then cut into bite-sized portions. They were possibly one of the biggest hits.

More dishes were added to the table throughout. Eventually, we had to just stop adding food. The salmon didn't even get made and there were plenty of leftovers.

Giz We left with a sigh of relief that we actually completed this task and somehow made it appear effortless although any reader of this blog would agree that it's anything but effortless. Auntie Takeout basked in the compliments of a "great spread" and "J" was a very happy young man. That's what really mattered.

Since the Bar Mitzvah, Psychgrad and I have been offered three (3) catering jobs. I think not. Caterers deserve every cent they earn and I think we'll just leave it to the professionals.

The next event is the Bar Mitzvah kids' party next weeek and I'm already committed to doing that one but that will be the end of the catering career.

Note: As you can probably tell, we don't keep kosher. Although every dish could be kosher in and of itself, the combination of milk and meat dishes is a big no-no in the world of kosher food.

Don't forget to come back for our post about the bar mitzah cake!


Anonymous said...

What an amazing spread!! Everything looks divine. Glad you both made it through :)

And don't you think Kodi looks like Elsie??!

giz said...

Ricki - I always said Kodi looks just like Elsie

glamah16 said...

Wow you guys. Im sure he will remeber his family doing this for him the rest of his life. Great job.

That Girl said...

You guys did an amazing job!

Anonymous said...

What a spread a wonderful celebration. You did it, relax now.

NĂºria said...

Hola Girls!!!! A beautiful table with gorgeous food :D. I bet the doggy got more than one byte ;D

Eventhough, I'm not religious, I respect all these traditions, and think that specially this one has a wonderful meaning!

Anonymous said...

What a great spread! Congratulations to "J" on such an accomplishment and you ladies did one heck of a job on all that food! :)

Beth (jamandcream) said...

Glad all went well. Looking forward to the cake!

Ivy said...

Great job both of you. Have you ever thought of doing this as a profession?

kat said...

wow, good job you guys. I agree with you after catering a friends rehearsal dinner I decided my catering days were over.

grace said...

what a terrific spread! i'm sure the young man was completely satisfied--nicely done. are you sure you don't want to become caterers ? :)

Proud Italian Cook said...

What a great job you both did! Lots of variety on your table, just the way I like it. I'm sure your efforts were much appreciated too.

Adam said...

Wow, that's quite the spread you guys have there. Everything looks amazing, I especially like the spanikopita bites and the dumplings (even though you thought they were just ok).

Any chance you want to cater my graduation party in May? I'll give you an open bar pass :)

Darius T. Williams said...

I'm baptist...thanks for the education...but, I'd have been there. When I say the term 'any occasion for food' I mean that - lol.


Anonymous said...

Mmmm. Looks good. Any leftovers?

Cakespy said...

I certainly will come back for the cake post! Man, what a spread you had!! The spanikopita bites look amazing...actually everything does though!

OhioMom said...

"Auntie Takeout" ... lol, I have several family members of this persuasion that always ask me to "whip something up" for a gathering ... this year I retired as chief cook and bottle wash for the clan :)

Your table looks wonderful and I love each and every dish you presented.

Kudos to you both!

Bunny said...

Your menu is mouth watering! What an undertaking....40 people!! You did a fantastic job no wonder you had 3 more offers to cater!! You bet I would've helped out! I would have been in hog heaven! I can't wait to see the cake!!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Love all the food!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great job guys, everything looks so tempting:D

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Wow, great food! I wish I was invited so i could have some of the food:)

Vera said...

What a menu! You've done a great job!

Rosie said...

Absolutely amazing feast and yes you guys did fantastic job!

I love the pic of Kodi such a cutie :)

Rosie x

Fitness Foodie said...

Nice spread, looks fantastic, particularly the penne pasta salad and chicken marsala....good job.

Melissa said...

Kodi's purty. :)

I love the caprese and the heavenly salad variation, but am wanting that pasta salad more than anything. Nice job improvising!

I am Jewish by birth (all the way back) but my parents were not religious and I never had a Bat Mitzvah. Congratulations on a successful celebration for J!

Melissa said...

OK, I'm back. I was going to post about my dinner last night, which was... *speechless*... and I was thinking it would be a great submission to Presto Pasta Nights. But I'd rather do it on a week where someone I know is hosting. So I wanted to confirm - you guys are 9/19?

PG said...

Melissa - Aww..that's sweet. Here are the details about when we're hosting. Can't wait to see this speechless pasta dish!

Bunny said...

Yes it's me again (hee hee) I'm hear to tell you I've given you an award.

test it comm said...

Cooking for 40 people sounds like a challenge indeed! All of the food looks really good!

Melissa said...

Thanks PG!

eatme_delicious said...

Wow that's a lot of good looking food! Especially the caprese salad.

Anonymous said...

what a fabulous selection of food, i love this kind of cooking. thanks for sharing your penne salad with presto pasta nights!

Lori Lynn said...

I loved this post. That is so much work, your table looked great, and nice variation of dishes. Kudos to you both and congratulations to the young man!

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