The six women – Lisa, Merelyn, Natanya, Lauren, Paula and Jacqui – started meeting every Monday morning in 2006, to discuss delicious food and search for interesting recipes that gave a snapshot of Sydney's Jewish community. Think fattoush salad, pletzlach, chocolate kugelhopf.
As a result, the Monday Morning Cooking Club was born. The women wanted to raise money for charity and dreamed of writing a cookbook that celebrated their community. The club has now published two cookbooks - Monday Morning Cooking Club: the food, the stories, the sisterhood and Monday Morning Cooking Club: the feast goes on. And even more importantly, they have raised over $650,000 for more than a dozen charities to date, including OzHarvest.
They are now on the hunt for recipes for their third book, and want you to get involved. They are tough judges - but we are asking Australian's to have a crack and send in their best recipes! They don't necessarily need to be of Jewish heritage as well, the ladies are keen to receive any recipe with a story behind it.
185ml (3/4 cup) milk
1 sachet (7g/2 ¼ teaspoons) active dried yeast
80g (1/3 cup) caster superfine sugar, plus extra, for sprinkling
450g (3 cups) bread flour, plus extra, for kneading
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
300g best-quality dark chocolate, chopped
115g (½ cup) caster superfine sugar
25g (¼ cup) cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
You will need a large angel (chiffon) cake tin with a removable base. Carefully line the side, base and funnel with baking paper.
Gently warm ¼ cup of the milk. Sprinkle with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to allow it to froth. Add 3 teaspoons of the flour and stir. Allow to stand for 15-20 minutes, or until frothy and thick.
Mix the remaining flour and sugar together with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Warm the remaining milk and melt the butter.
Beat the eggs with the vanilla. Add these and the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes. You may need to add extra flour but do so a spoon at a time, kneading after each addition. You will have very sticky dough that just comes away from the side of the bowl.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel (dish towel). Put the bowl in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in size. This will take at least 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, make the filling. Place the filling ingredients in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or use a double boiler) and melt, stirring until smooth.
Cut the dough in half. Roll out to form a large rectangle (30 x 45cm) and carefully spread half the filling mixture on the surface from edge to edge. Roll up the dough to make a large snake and place it into the prepared tin, curling around the funnel, seam side up.
Repeat with the other half of the dough. Place it on top of the first roll, seam side down. Cover with a plastic wrap and a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour. It will rise almost to the edge of the tin. Brush gently with the egg wash and sprinkle with the extra sugar.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F / Gas 3).
Bake the kugelhopf for 40 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown on top. If not eating immediately, allow to cool out of the tin but with the baking paper still attached.
Best eaten on the day of baking or reheated the next day. Freezes well for up to 3 months.
Question: What inspired you to create the Monday Morning Cooking Club?
Lisa Goldberg: In 2006, the six of us (the authors of the book) got together to write a cookbook for charity - that's how it all started. We set our bar high; we wanted to produce a world class cookbook that could sit on the shelf in the best book store next to the cookbook of any chef in the world. We wanted to share a -tried and tested' collection of the best recipes from the best cooks in Sydney's Jewish community and, along the way, to tell the story of our food-obsessed community. One of the most important things for us, from the very beginning, was to make sure that every recipes was truly tried and tested. So we decided we would start cooking these recipes together one a week, and the day we chose just happened to be Monday.
Question: How has the club changed since 2006?
Lisa Goldberg: As our project proceeded, and our first book was published in 2011, we began to understand our responsibility to collect, test, taste and preserve as many recipes we could from the Jewish community. This was particularly important as regards the older generation and one of our main goals became the preservation of recipes from the older generation for ours and from our generation for the future. The club has also changed in that we have recently welcomed a new (7th!) member into the sisterhood.
Question: What's a typical Monday morning like?
Lisa Goldberg: In a word, hectic! The week before, we always choose the 6 or so recipes we are going to make. My pantry (now the MMCC pantry!) is stocked with all the basics and one of the girls will pick up any extra ingredients needed for that week. We might have some discussion about special cake pans/baking dishes etc that we will need on the day. The girls arrive at 10. We pop on the kettle, put on our aprons and just get cooking. We sometimes take a recipe each, but more often than not we share a recipe between 2 so that we can more efficiently get it into the oven or finished before moving on to the next. The morning is always busy and the cooking is often interrupted with debates about the recipes or ingredients - trying to understand ambiguous instructions or making decisions on seasonings and methods. And of course there is always the post-weekend Monday morning chatter that we just can't help! At around 1 pm we sit around the kitchen table, with the dishes we've made in front of us, and eat. This is the interesting part of the morning where we make decisions whether a recipe is -in', -out' or -needs revisiting'.
Question: Why was it important to discuss recipes that gave a snapshot of Sydney's Jewish community?
Lisa Goldberg: Our community is one that is truly obsessed with food and, together with its rich culture, creates a picture that needs to be shared. The community itself is a melting pot, reflecting the diverse multicultural Australia in which we live.
Our first book (Monday Morning Cooking Club) shares recipes from Sydney's Jewish community so we have a book with recipes and stories from all over the world, celebrating food, family and tradition. The Feast Goes On takes the search wider, and we share our collection of recipes from the Jewish community across Australia.
Question: Can you talk about how your cookbooks raise money for charity?
Lisa Goldberg: Sure! We consider the charity aspect the icing on the cake. We raise money or enable charities to raise money in a number of ways:
1/ We make a donation out of our book sale revenue to a particular charity,
2/ Charities sell our books, retaining all the profits
3/ We hold or participate in events such as cooking demonstrations, workshops or talks
4/ By donating books for charities to use as prizes for their fundraisers
Question: Which charities have you raised funds, for?
Lisa Goldberg: We have enabled funds to be raised for many charities, most of which are listed on our website http://mondaymorningcookingclub.com.au/about/supported-charities/ A few of the main charities are OzHarvest and WIZO and, most recently, the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
Question: What's the goal for the third cookbook?
Lisa Goldberg: To keep on searching! To continue and complete our quest to collect and preserve the very best recipes from the Jewish community, worldwide.
Question: What types of recipes are you looking for?
Lisa Goldberg: We're really looking for -that dish' that everyone asks you the recipe for! We are looking for recipes that come from the heart and the home. We love recipes that have been part of a family for a few years, decades or even generations. We love recipes that tell a story. We love recipes that make people remember someone fondly.
Question: Why does each recipe need to have a story behind it?
Lisa Goldberg: A story gives a recipe a soul and another dimension, helping it to be passed on to the next generation. It also completes the snapshot of our community, detailing stories of hardship and survival, immigration and war, new lives and families.
Question: How can we submit our recipes?
Lisa Goldberg: That's the easy part! Please send in your recipes (they can be family heirloom or more recent inclusions in family traditions) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Brooke Hunter