Chabad of Owings Mills Program Cooks Up Kosher Classics

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Whether you’ve never cooked before, want to sharpen your skills in the kitchen or just want to cook with friends, Chabad of Owings Mills’ Cooking Kosherlicious instructional series is an opportunity for women in the community to learn new recipes together. Helmed by Chabad of Owings Mills co-director Chanie Katsenelenbogen, the class meets once a month on Wednesdays, with each session focusing on different kosher dishes.

Cooking Kosherlicious participants make knishes during a January class. (Courtesy of Chabad of Owings Mills)

The Chabad house had previously held cooking classes for children, but Katsenelenbogen decided to start offering women’s classes in 2018. She had been compiling cookbooks of kosher recipes for several years by that point, and she would often distribute them to attendees at the Chabad house’s Lunch and Learn women’s events.

“It evolved into me actually holding cooking classes so they can get more hands-on with the recipes,” Katsenelenbogen said. “And it has more of a social component than just making the recipes themselves at home would.”

Each series of Cooking Kosherlicious follows a specific theme, though they are all united by their kosher status. The current series, “A Taste of Tradition,” is focused on traditional Jewish delicacies like knishes, challah, schnitzel and desserts like babka and rugelach.

Cooking Kosherlicious started out solely focusing on popular Shabbat dishes, but in the years since then, the classes have incorporated international kosher dishes from different cultures as well as ones incorporating ingredients associated with specific holidays. A Rosh Hashanah series might see the participants making desserts with apples and honey, while a Passover theme will have them making unleavened recipes to properly observe the holiday.

“Chani teaches us all about traditional foods for different holidays,” explained Martha Gross, who has been attending Cooking Kosherlicious classes for several years. “Since we first started out making challah and matzah ball soup, we’ve really progressed to making a lot of different kinds of food.”

Typically, around 25 women participate in each class. Katsenelenbogen sets up designated cooking stations for them in advance to make the process easier, and her daughters also sometimes help run Cooking Kosherlicious.

“It feels like Chani pays the same attention to detail in these classes as she did when she was running the kids’ cooking classes. We walk in, everything is set up and every detail is taken care of,” said Giselle Pincever, another frequent participant in the classes. “It was almost kind of overwhelming. Everyone has their own beautiful prepared stations, and there’s always things to try before we start cooking.”

(Courtesy of Chabad of Owings Mills)

Pincever added that she often comes away from Cooking Kosherlicious classes with at least one new recipe that she later adds to her regular rotation of meals she cooks for her family.

Some of Katsenelenbogen’s most popular recipes include her various salad recipes, hummus, kugel and brisket. Gross singled out the latter as being her all-time favorite, though she added that “[Chani] is such a marvelous cook, it’s hard for me to choose one thing she makes as my favorite.”

In addition to the cooking and the ability to try different kinds of food, the social component of Cooking Kosherlicious also attracts many participants. The class is open to women only, and one of Katsenelenbogen’s goals with the instructional series is to create connections between the Chabad house’s female members.

She noted that while cooking with and for your family is always enjoyable, the Cooking Kosherlicious classes offer an opportunity for women to learn a skill together and bond over those shared learning experiences.

“I really want everyone to get together,” Katsenelenbogen said. “We wanted to become a community, to become a cohesive group that has fun together, enjoys spending time together and involves Jewish experiences.”

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