Welcome to the set of “Two Jews Making Food,” a new half-hour show on LTV hosted by Amy Steinhaus Kirwin and Rebecca Edana, a pair of East End friends who both happen to be Jewish and both happen to hail from California.
“I met Rebecca in Southampton when we did ‘The Vagina Monologues’ at [Southampton Arts Center],” said Kirwin, the former artistic director of the arts organization. “I was drawn to her sense of humor. I didn’t know many Jewish people out here.”
“Jews find each other, we were just comfortable around one other,” added Edana. “There’s a vernacular and a humor that lends itself to the way we interact. It’s a Jewish way of being.”
“Two Jews Making Food,” or “TJMF,” as it is affectionately known, actually began as a monthly online cooking series in late 2019. The show focuses on Jewish specialties and it began in Edana’s kitchen where the hosts would cook dishes and share the process on Facebook Live and their YouTube channel. Kirwin and Edana were forced to put the show on hiatus when the pandemic hit in spring 2020. But now, thanks to their new partnership with LTV in East Hampton, they are hitting the Public Access airwaves as well as YouTube, bringing their cooking moves to an even wider audience.
As it turns out, LTV Studios has a full, professional kitchen set with multiple cameras that elevate the experience to a whole new level — literally, as one of the angles is an overhead shot that allows viewers to see exactly what the chefs are working on from above.
Ironically, it was sort of an accident that Edana and Kirwin discovered the LTV kitchen in the first place. During visits to LTV for other events, they noticed that the set was being used primarily as a green room for guests on other shows.
“We walked in and thought, why are people not using this set?” said Edana. “It’s beautiful. I realized we can shoot several types of angles that we couldn’t do in my kitchen, where we’d be holding the phone, trying to get the right angles.
“It was very homespun, we were doing it for fun,” Kirwin said.
“It was very kitschy,” added Edana.
Having a beautiful, well-lit set and a production team comes with something of a learning curve, and Kirwin said it has taken time to realize which camera they should talk to throughout the course of the half-hour show.
“We had to learn to use four cameras instead of one,” Kirwin said. “They don’t have a light on so you know which one is on. The monitor is how you know what’s on.”
Fortunately, by the time taping of the third episode rolled around, the chefs had all the angles down pat.
“Amy and I have a fabulous sense of humor and are willing to learn on the run,” said Edana.
In terms of the cuisine, “TJMF” premiered on LTV on Tuesday, November 9, with “Bangin’ Bagel Brunch,” an episode offering a tutorial on how to make quick and easy homemade bagels (no boiling water necessary), complete with instructions on setting up the perfect spread of toppings. Of course, because it’s autumn and the theme was brunch, the inclusion of an apple cider mimosa seemed to be a no-brainer.
Each episode airs for two weeks on LTV, and then becomes available on demand on the LTV website and the “TJMF” YouTube channel.
With Hanukah beginning at sundown on November 28, episode two, “I Love You a Latke,” which premiered November 23, and will air through December 4, is celebrating a seasonally favorite Jewish dish — the beloved potato pancake. Kirwin and Edana’s on air version includes mini hors d’oeuvre latkes with crème fraiche, smoked salmon, caviar and chives as well as the more traditional larger latkes with homemade applesauce and sour cream. Because they’re celebrating the holidays here, they also make a chocolate gelt martini in the episode.
The third installment, “Kugelicious,” will run December 7-18 and in it, the gals will take on a classic sweet kugel (egg noodle pudding), as well as a less conventional, “but equally delightful” savory kugel, topped off with a “Geshmak Gimlet.” By the way, “Geshmak” means “delicious” in Yiddish.
In terms of cooking styles, Kirwin and Edana definitely hail from different schools of thought and philosophy.
“I try to keep everything in one bowl, one pot, no dishes,” said Edana. “Amy likes to use every single thing in the kitchen. In the end, it will look and taste beautiful. I know I’ll put it all in one bowl and it will taste similar. I call myself the ‘one bowl wonder.’ I think it’s 100 percent possible to make all sorts of things in one bowl.”
“Our technique is different,” Kirwin countered. “I’m into presentation. Rebecca is a mom, she has to be practical. I am not. When I cook, it’s an occasion or I’m trying something new. That’s what I love — the creative artfulness of cooking.”
“Amy makes beautiful pictures with food,” Edana said.
While Kirwin is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage — with ancestors hailing from Central and Eastern Europe — Edana’s lineage is Sephardic, and she’s descended from a Jewish population from the Iberian peninsula. For that reason, some of their food traditions are different, too.
“In terms of food, Sephardic cooking is a lot of rice and beans,” Edana explained. “It’s vastly different than the Ashkenazi type of dishes that most people associate with Jewish cooking — a lot of ‘mush’ food, liked stuffed cabbage or matzo ball soup.
“My mom’s side was Sephardic, and we had black beans and rice for Shabbat,” she added. “There was also a lot raisins and nuts and interesting things like that you mix into it.”
“In Eastern Europe, there’s not a lot of color in the food,” Kirwin said. “It’s more hearty, comforting and warm.”
Besides the recipes, each episode of “TJMF” will also include a Yiddish word of the day. For the “Bangin’ Bagel Brunch” episode, Kirwin called on her father, Al Steinhaus, via Zoom for his nomination.
“Schmear,” said Steinhaus, offering a definition for the uninitiated. “Like when you have a bagel and you’re going to add cream cheese. You don’t just dab the cream cheese on, you take a big wad and you schmear it on. It means in abundance.”
While bagels, latkes and kugel — traditional Jewish foods all — have been the highlighted menu offerings in the first three LTV episodes of “TJMF,” that doesn’t mean Edana and Kirwin won’t start mixing it up at some point.
“I don’t think it’s ‘Two Jews Making Jewish Food,’ but we’re doing what we know until we’re ready to move onto something else,” Edana explained. “Up to this point, it’s been things that are pretty regular in terms of Jewish cooking in my house.”
Call it ethnic comfort food for the TV set.
“There’s a reason why people love their tried and true food,” Edana added. “I don’t think anyone could wander into gefilte fish later in life and fall in love with it. You fall in love through family experience or holidays, your memories of your grandmother, aunt or dad. You fall in love with food through the memory of your culture. It’s a way to hold hands with the past.”
“Maybe that can even include ketchup in borscht — if that’s the way your grandmother made it — even if it’s weird.”
“Two Jews Making Food” can be seen in East Hampton and Southampton on channel 20. Tune in Tuesday at noon, Friday at 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Saturday at 11 a.m. Each half-hour episode will run for two weeks at these scheduled times. Those without cable and anyone living outside of the area can stream the episodes on LTV’s YouTube channel.
Recipes From “Two Jews Making Food”:
Easy Homemade Bagels (from the “Bangin’ Bagel Brunch” episode)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 egg (beaten)
Optional toppings: everything bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic flakes, dried onion flakes, etc.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment paper, spray with oil to avoid sticking.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the yogurt and mix with a fork or spatula until well combined, it will look like small crumbles. You can also add some of the toppings IN the dough!
Divide into 4 equal balls — wet your hands when you do this or use flour. Poke a hole in the center of each ball then stretch it slightly. Place on cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment so it won’t stick.
If adding toppings, top with egg wash and sprinkle with seasoning of your choice.
Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.
Schmear and garnish to your liking!
Apple Cider Mimosa (from the “Bangin’ Bagel Brunch” episode)
Prosecco, sparkling wine or Champagne if you’re super fancy
Fresh apple cider (if you can’t get it fresh, then supermarket cider is fine, but as we say, if you don’t live near a farm stand — move!)
Pumpkin pie spice
Wedge of lemon
Combine a small amount of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small plate (approximately 1/4 cup sugar and teaspoon of spice)
Run the lemon wedge around the rim of your glassware of choice.
Dip/twist the rim of each glass in the sugar mixture.
Fill your glasses 3/4 bubbly and 1/4 cider
Toast and drink, L’Chaim!
Chocolate Gelt Martini for Hanukkah (from the “I Love You a Latke” episode)
1.5 oz. potato vodka
1.5 oz. chocolate liquor
.75 oz. Goldschlager or Frangelico
U-bet chocolate sauce for rim and gelt (chocolate coin in foil) to garnish
Shake and pour into your glass of choice with the chocolate syrup drizzled artfully inside the glass. Slice through have a piece of gelt and slide the gelt on the rim.