Hundreds of people share memories of a culinary icon

Shabbat Shalom! It’s been a very sad week for me and for so many in the Canadian Jewish community. It’s hard to believe that cookbook author and icon Norene Gilletz has died; she was such a lively and funny person.

She touched so many people in so many ways. I’ve been combing through the many – about 200 – messages of condolences on the Paperman’s website. (Paperman’s is Montreal’s Jewish funeral home.)

There are also wonderful tributes that are posted on Norene’s Kitchen!, Gilletz’s Facebook (FB) group.

Many of Gilletz’s FB friends or Noreners – there are more than 10,000 – have been sharing memories and thoughts about Gilletz. CJN‘s Operations Manager Ella Burakowski Cohen really captured her:

Gilletz mentored cookbook author Daniella Silver and helped her write the two Silver Platter cookbooks. Silver wrote a moving post about her relationship with Gilletz:

On Feb. 26, CBC radio host Gill Deacon interviewed cookbook author Rose Reisman about Gilletz. Listen to the interview here:

Dorothy Lipovenko also wrote an excellent piece for The CJN on Second Helpings, Please!, the book that launched Gilletz’s culinary career.

Second Helpings Please! by Norene Gilletz was originally published in 1968

Carol Press, the administrator of Norene’s Kitchen!, posted some wonderful video clips of Gilletz’s food demos. Here’s one of them:


Noreners, like Cyna Gilden-Reisman, Rena Alexander and Suzannah Raff suggested that Noreners designate this Shabbat to cooking at least one “Norene dish.”

Some people are getting a head start. They have already prepared their favourite Gilletz recipes and are posting photos.

Rachel Saffer Spiro has already baked a “family favourite,” Banana Yogurt Cake from The Pleasures of Your Food Processor (reprinted as The Food Processor Bible), while Marilyn Tanen Glick has made the meatball recipe from Second Helpings.

Barry Wenter and Ian Silver will also be making those meatballs.

Marlene Moscovitch wrote that in Gilletz’s honour she has made halishkas (cabbage rolls) from Second Helpings.


Gilletz did so many challah bakes over the years. One of her missions was to teach as many people as possible how to make their own challah for Shabbat. Maybe that’s something we can all aspire to do in the coming days and weeks as a way to honour this culinary icon and our dear, down-to-earth friend.


CHALLAH (The Food Processor Bible)

5 ml (1 tsp) sugar

125 ml (½ cup) warm water 43°C (105 to 115°F)

30 g (2 tbsp) or 2 package dry yeast

½ cup canola oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

180 – 250 ml (3/4 -1 cup water) at room temperature

1250 ml (5 cups) flour

125 ml (½ cup) honey or sugar

10 ml (2 tsp) salt

Cornmeal for the baking pan

Egg wash:1 egg yolk beaten with 10 ml (2 tsp water)

poppy or sesame seeds


In a measuring cup, dissolve 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar in 125 ml (½ cup) of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the oil and eggs to the dissolved in the yeast mixture. Mix well. Measure a cup water in a separate cup.

In a food processor bowl fitted with a steel blade, process the flour, sugar and salt for about 10 seconds until combined.

While the machine is running, add the yeast mixture through the small feed tube, then gradually add the water and process until the dough gathers and forms a mass around the blade. (Have an additional 125 ml (¼ cup) of flour ready in case the dough is too sticky and the machine begins to slow down. Add it in through the feed tube if necessary.) Process the dough 45 seconds longer until it is well kneaded. It will be a soft sticky dough. Add a couple of spoonfuls of flour if the dough is too sticky to make a soft sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by hand for 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Turn the dough over so that all the surfaces are lightly greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. (The dough may also rise in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 3 days before shaping and baking.)

Punch down the dough. For a lighter texture, let the dough rise again until it doubles. Punch it down.

To shape: divide the dough in half and divide each half into 3 equal portions. Roll the portions into 3 long strands. Place them on a sprayed baking sheet. Braid them loosely and tuck the ends under. Repeat with the remaining dough to form a second loaf. Place the loaves on a sprayed baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover with a towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled, about 1 hour. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds.

Bake in a preheated 200°C (400°F) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. The dough will sound hollow when tapped with your fingers. Cool the challah away from the draft.

Holiday Variation: Knead and let the dough rise as directed. To shape, roll the dough into a large thick rope and place it on a sprayed baking sheet. Coil up the rope like a snail starting from the centre and working outwards. Tuck the end under. When the dough has doubled in size, brush with the egg wash or vegan glaze. Sprinkle with seeds and bake in 200°C (400°F) oven for 30 minutes as directed above.

Tangy sweet and sour meatballs (Marilyn Tanen Glick photo)


375 g (1½ lbs) minced meat

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

2 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper

1 clove garlic minced

1 egg

30 ml (2 tbsp) matzah meal

375 g (1½ cups) ketchup

500 ml (2 cups) ginger ale


In a bowl, combine the meat, salt, pepper, garlic, egg and matzah meal. Form the mixture into small balls. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the ketchup and ginger ale and bring to a boil.

Drop the meatballs into the sauce and simmer for 2 hours.

Makes 6 servings as an appetizer and 4 servings as a main course.

Banana yogurt cake (Rachel Saffer Spiro photo)

BANANA YOGURT CAKE (The Food Processor Bible)

125 ml (½ cup) butter or margarine, cut in chunks

375 ml (1½ cups) sugar

2 eggs (or 1 egg plus 2 egg whites)

5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract

2 large ripe bananas

5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda

185 ml (3/4 cup) yogurt

500 ml (2 cups) flour (part whole wheat may be used)

5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Steel Blade: Process butter or margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract for 2 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Do not insert pusher in feed tube. While machine is running, drop chunks of banana through feed tube. Process until blended.

Meanwhile, dissolve baking soda in yogurt in 2-cup glass measuring cup. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes, until nearly double in volume. Add to batter and process for 3 seconds. Add flour and baking powder. Process with 3 or 4 quick on / off pulses, just until flour mixture disappears. Do not over process.

Spread batter evenly in sprayed 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 50 minutes, until cake tests done. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. If desired, frost with Banana Frosting (recipe follows).

Sugar may be reduced to 1 1/4 cups, but cake will be lighter in colour. Sour cream can be used instead of yogurt.


BANANA FROSTING (The Food Processor Bible)

30 ml (2 tbsp) butter or margarine

2-inch piece of banana (about 30 ml or 2 Tbsp.)

pinch salt

2 ml (½ tsp) lemon juice

310 ml (1 1/4 cups) icing sugar (approximately)


Fit the food processor bowl with a steel blade. Process the butter or margarine with the banana for several seconds, until blended. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add a little extra icing sugar if the frosting is too loose.