Cooking from the Heart
JWRP Sister Spotlight: A Conversation with Becca Guralnick
“Cooking for me is really about honoring my heritage and my roots,” said Becca Guralnick, who is the Owner and Executive Chef of Cooking From The Heart, Professional Chef Services in Bayside, Wisconsin, as well as a mother, wife, and JWRP sister. Inspired by her mother and grandmother, Becca learned to cook at a time when quality ingredients were valued and there was less processed food. Following her work in restaurants, chef training, and the launch of her cooking business, Becca still believes that simplicity is key. “I cook with high-quality ingredients, delicious flavors, and a lot of love,” she said. We spoke with Becca about the culinary highlights of her MOMentum Trip to Israel, as well as her favorite Passover ingredients. She also shared her recipe for Passover spaghetti and meatballs.
What inspired you to experience MOMentum?
Milwaukee was running its inaugural MOMentum Year-Long Journey, and our City Leader called me and recommended that I apply. I knew that the experience would help me further my involvement in the Jewish community. I was excited to contribute my time to another organization, especially one focused on women. And I was also thrilled to go Israel with a free trip!
What were the highlights of your MOMentum Year-Long Journey?
Spending time with a group of women from my area was the number one highlight. Milwaukee has a tight-knit Jewish community, so I knew most of the women on my MOMentum Trip, but we got to know each other in a whole new light. I especially enjoyed seeing some of the women experience Israel for the first time. And, of course, I loved eating all of the food — including the grilled fish at Decks, and the hand-rolled pita and dried dates in the desert.
I returned to Milwaukee with a new built-in group of friends. We continue to meet every week for a spirituality meeting, which one of our City Leaders hosts. We also have monthly gatherings focused on Jewish holidays, and we have a book club, too! We all returned from Israel feeling hungry for more information and learning, especially about mysticism and spirituality. Our frequent gatherings help ground us amid the hubbub back home.
A friend and I also attended last year’s North American Momentum Conference. We had such a great time on our MOMentum Trip and we wanted to rekindle the magic and keep the momentum going. It really reinforced everything I learned and experienced in Israel, and reminded me that I could make it all a part of my daily life.
What are some ways to spruce up Passover dishes?
On Passover, people may think that everything they cook will come out a little bland and cardboard-y. But the truth is, you don’t need to incorporate matzah meal into all of your dishes. I serve a lot of grilled vegetables with Spanish Romesco sauce, which includes ground nuts, roasted pepper, and smoked paprika. I’m a big fan of using fresh herbs and a lot of colors and flavors in order to keep things interesting and to keep everyone feeling comfortable. For a sweet treat, I like to make pavlova, which is a traditional dessert that never goes out of style and that you can spruce up with nuts, seeds, cardamom, and nutmeg. Another great dessert is an orange and date fruit salad, which is marinated and dressed with walnuts and orange-flower water. With just a few ingredients, it’s really simple but the exotic flavor is a nice way to mix up your Passover palate.
Can you share a Passover recipe with us?
Passover Meatballs with Charred Pepper and Pomegranate Tomato Sauce
Makes 4 servings
1 large red pepper
1 shallot, minced
1⁄4 cup pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 shallot, finely minced
1/8 cup matzo meal (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dry mint leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black or spicy Aleppo pepper
1⁄4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 pound ground turkey, chicken or lamb
2 T. olive oil
1 large bunch curly or lacinato kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sumac (optional)
Spiralized vegetable noodles:
1⁄4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
21 ounces vegetables, spiralized
Salt to taste
1/3 cup chicken broth or water 1⁄4 cup raisins
1⁄4 cup minced Italian parsley
Make sauce: Preheat broiler to high. Place whole red pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, to char each side. Remove pepper and cover tightly with foil or invert a bowl over pepper to allow charred skin to loosen about 10 minutes. Carefully peel and discard charred skin, stem, and seeds. Roughly chop remaining flesh.
Coat a medium saucepan with olive oil, add diced shallot and cook until translucent and beginning to turn golden. Deglaze the pan by adding pomegranate juice, allow it to reduce by about half. Add brown sugar, salt, chili flakes, cinnamon stick, diced tomatoes, and pepper flesh. Cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes, then puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.
Make meatballs: In a large bowl, lightly beat egg. Add remaining ingredients except for meat. Combine thoroughly. Add meat and mix until blended; do not overmix. Using a heaping tablespoon and wet hands, form meatballs. Preheat skillet with the oil. When oil starts shimmering, brown the meatballs, shaking to flip. When evenly browned, remove from pan and add to the sauce. Simmer meatballs in sauce about 10 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and heated through.
Make kale: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. De-rib bottom half of each leaf, leaving thinner ribs on the upper tender part. Chop leaves into 1-inch ribbons. Toss kale ribbons with olive oil until they glisten, and sprinkle with salt and, if using, sumac. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread kale in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven about 15 minutes until crisp but still green in the center. Set aside.
Make spiralized noodles: Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over low heat until golden brown. Remove to a plate. Heat oil in a pan and add garlic. Stir continuously until garlic begins to brown. Add spiralized vegetables. Stir, scraping up the garlic. Season with salt. Add chicken broth and cover, allowing vegetables to steam for a couple of minutes, until al dente. Stir in pine nuts, raisins and parsley.
Assemble: Place spiralized noodles on plate. Top with saucy meatballs. Sprinkle with kale.
If you have any questions about your Passover recipes, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help!