Sitting with a good book and munching potato chips is nibbling, an apple in between meals is snacking, and eating small portions of a variety of foods is grazing. But surreptitiously biting into that slice of kosher salami, to be followed by yet another slice when nobody's looking … that's noshing.
Or slicing a sliver of that still-warm-from-the-oven coffee cake when nobody's home, a midnight spread of chopped liver on matzah crackers when the rest of the house is sleeping, a generous handful of honeyed walnuts or a few savory-spiced olives that were meant to be served at your next dinner party, now that's what noshing is all about!
My grandmother used to have a kitchen cabinet designated for "nosheries" that was filled with all the edibles her grandchildren loved best – my favorites were the miniature Hershey bars. She would give me one or two and leave the package out, knowing full well that I would help myself to another when she turned her attention elsewhere.
Today, some of my favorite noshes are cold fried chicken (just the leg, please), and last night's grilled steak, fresh from the fridge, accompanied by a forkful of cold spaghetti consumed at an unlikely time of night or day when I'm all alone and "eating on the sly."
1/3 cup honey, warmed
1 cup walnut halves
1 Tbsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the honey and walnuts, tossing to coat well.
Spread nuts in one layer in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15 minutes, stir, and bake another 5 minutes.
Transfer while warm to a sheet of parchment paper or foil, and working quickly, separate walnuts with a fork.
Cool completely and remove nuts from parchment, breaking up any large pieces. Store in airtight container.
Makes about 1 cup.
Sour-Cream Coffee Cake
11/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
11/4 cups golden brown sugar
41/2 tsps. ground cinnamon
41/2 tsps. unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbsps. golden raisins
23/4 cups flour
11/2 tsps. baking soda
11/2 tsps. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
11/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter 12-cup Bundt pan.
Mix the nut-mixture ingredients in small bowl. Set it aside.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and 11/2 cups sugar in large bowl until blended.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients and sour cream alternately into butter mixture in three additions. Beat batter on high for 1 minute.
Pour one-third of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of nut mixture. Spoon one-third of batter over top. Sprinkle with the remaining nut mixture. Spoon the remaining batter over top.
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack for 10 minutes.
Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack and cool for 1 hour. Transfer to platter.
Let cool, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Serves 8 to 10.
Middle-of-the-Night Fried Chicken
2 cups bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 chicken breast halves
2 chicken whole legs
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 450 degrees.
Place the bread crumbs in a bowl, and mix with one-half teaspoon salt and one-quarter teaspoon pepper. Leave oven on.
Stir together the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cumin, and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Brush mayo mixture all over chicken, then transfer chicken to bowl of crumbs to coat evenly on both sides, pressing crumbs to help adhere.
Bake chicken, skin sides up, in baking pan until well browned and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Let chicken stand 5 to 10 minutes (do not cover).
Bubbe's Chopped Liver
1 lb. chicken livers
5 Tbsps. schmaltz (chicken fat) or pareve margarine
1 onion, chopped
1-2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
crackers, rye bread or matzah
Wash and then blot livers dry with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of chicken fat.
Sprinkle livers with salt and fry livers over a high heat about 4 minutes. Remove and reserve until cool. In same skillet, cook onion until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Chop the liver by hand or in a food processor. Combine with onions and egg.
Add the remaining chicken fat, and taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with crackers, fresh rye bread or matzah.
Serves 6 to 8.
Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer.