SYDNEY, Australia — Lisa Goldberg takes her weekly gatherings very seriously.
A founder of the Monday Morning Cooking Club, a sisterhood of sorts that, until the pandemic, met weekly to preserve Australian Jewish recipes, Ms. Goldberg hosts a recurring Friday dinner. Guests sit around her sprawling dining-room table, chant Sabbath prayers and start the meal dipping homemade challah into a simple bowl of hard-boiled eggs and sautéed onions.
Recipe: Egg and Onion
Called “eier mit tsibeles” in Yiddish, it’s a recipe from Ms. Goldberg’s paternal grandmother, Shendel Hansky, who arrived in Melbourne in the 1920s from the former Brest-Litovsk, on the Polish-Belarusian border.
“My bubbe used to make it and then taught it to our Greek housekeeper, Pat Diamond,” Ms. Goldberg, 58, said. “I just remember coming in from school and watching how Pat grated the eggs, then mixed them into the onions with her hands, how it smelled and how it looked.”
Some versions of the dish incorporate the long-cooked eggs from the Sabbath cholent, rich with color and flavor from the stew, alongside the well-browned onion.
Born in Melbourne, Ms. Goldberg grew up in what is still kind of a shtetl. “People spoke Yiddish and kept in touch with their roots through coffee shops, Jewish stores, kosher meat and Eastern European cheesecake and babka,” she said.
She moved to Sydney in 1988, where she practiced law until 1994. She raised four children, but she found herself wanting a meaningful exercise outside of motherhood.
She ended up speaking with Natanya Eskin, with whom she’d played basketball, “about the need to write the recipes down before it was too late,” Ms. Goldberg said. And so Ms. Eskin, a teacher, became the first member of the club, which began in 2006. Merelyn Frank Chalmers, a like-minded soul from Perth involved in food public relations and a daughter of Holocaust survivors, also joined — and the group grew, at one point, to six.
“As it gathered momentum, it became my full-time job,” Ms. Goldberg said.
Together, members recorded, discussed and dissected recipes from their childhoods, ultimately testing hundreds of recipes in Ms. Goldberg’s spacious contemporary kitchen overlooking Vaucluse Bay and producing four cookbooks.
“The club was a journey of discovery,” she said, adding, “It was a beautiful time.”
Ms. Goldberg’s latest adventure is “Walking Up an Appetite,” a YouTube series in which she walks — trying to complete her 10,000 steps — to the best places for dishes like corned beef, croissants and Lamingtons, a popular Australian coconut cake. Each episode focuses on a particular food, which she then recreates in her home kitchen.
On the Friday of Passover, Ms. Goldberg will be in Melbourne, as she is every year, to help her mother, Paula Hansky, a retired endocrinologist, prepare the Seder. But her weekly appetizer ritual will go on: There will be bowls of homemade chopped liver, matzo in place of the bread and, of course, her grandmother’s egg and onion.
At Passover, it is often made from the many hard-boiled eggs that Polish Jews customarily serve in egg and saltwater soup to start the Seder meal. In many homes, the traditional rendered chicken fat morphs into vegetable oil, and, in place of the chopped liver, some may opt for hummus, a carrot dip or an avocado salad.
But, however, you make this recipe, take a cue from Ms. Goldberg: “Boil the eggs for eight minutes, not more, and don’t add mayonnaise.”
That’s how they do it Down Under.
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