Short Order: Leave the plastic food to Ken and Barbie

I don't eat a lot of cake. But this one, served at a friend's Shabbat kiddush, was so light and delicious that the recipe cried out to be shared.

marble cake 88 (photo credit: )
marble cake 88
(photo credit: )
I don't like to repeat myself unless I feel strongly about something. And I guess I do feel strongly about the mana hama-type noodle and chemical offerings so widely consumed by people who lead busy lives and haven't organized themselves sufficiently to take a better lunch to the office. Last week I came across Chantal Osterreicher, editor of the Post's French Edition, in our office kitchen. She was preparing to add boiling water to a plastic cup containing thin pasta pieces and sundry colored bits. Called Corn-Flavored Noodles, this was, Chantal said, supposed to be a vegetable-noodle soup. "You get some noodles plus a little plastic bag with four dried corn kernels and three bits of red pepper; and a little package of yellow powder." "Four kernels? "Four." "Er... three bits of pepper?" "Yes, three." When I commented that I had never tasted a mana hama, she answered wryly, "I don't recommend it." This response - it wasn't the first time I had heard it - mystified me. Why buy something that doesn't thrill you? Price is one reason. The corn concoction was one of three different-flavored products costing just NIS 11 for all three, though it was a special offer and each helping generally costs between NIS 5 and NIS 6. Convenience is another: Preparation takes the same amount of time as a cup of coffee. Yet when you set price and convenience against dubious flavor and even worse nutrition, it doesn't sound so appealing. Chantal agreed with my suggestion that a container of cottage cheese, accompanied by some good fresh bread and a handful of olives - all easily picked up at the store - was a tastier, healthier, more satisfying and ultimately more filling option than the instant meal with scant appeal. I HAD supper recently with Inge Sadan, a lovely lady who, as a child in Munich, was one of my father's congregants when he was hazan of the city's Reichenbach Synagogue in the 1930s. I particularly liked a side dish of warm red cabbage, so here it is: INGE'S TASTY CABBAGE 1 medium red cabbage, fairly thinly sliced 1 onion, chopped a little oil a little water a little vinegar salt to taste a little sugar chopped pineapple or almonds (or even prunes) 2 bay leaves Saute the onion slightly. Add the cabbage and saute some more, stirring. Add a little water, the vinegar, salt and sugar, the fruit or nuts and the bay leaves, cover and cook on a low flame for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. If it looks as though it might burn, add a bit more water. I DON'T eat a lot of cake. But this one, served at a friend's Shabbat kiddush, was so light and delicious that the recipe cried out to be shared. It's been adapted to use oil instead of margarine from The Pleasure of Your Food Processor by Norene Gilletz. The only problem: It's hard to stop after one piece. MARVELOUS MARBLE CAKE 1⁄2 cup oil 11⁄2 cups sugar 3 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla essence 3⁄4 cup water 21⁄2 cups flour 2 tsp. baking powder 1⁄4 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder 1⁄4 tsp. baking soda Beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the water. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and beat until smooth. Pour two-thirds of this batter into a Bundt or baking pan. Stir the cocoa powder and baking soda into the remaining batter. Pour this chocolate batter on top of the other in the pan, and swirl it around using a knife. Bake at medium heat (180 -190 ) for 60-70 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. I GOT some amused reactions to my account of the long trek needed to collect a meal in the dining room of a large Dead Sea hotel. One reader who stayed there several years ago told me about some chicken that was so tough people had difficulty piercing it with their forks. "We called the waiter, who was about 19, and told him that the chicken was very tough. He called the head waiter, who was about 20, who called the meat chef, who was about 23. "After prodding the pieces unsuccessfully, he admitted that the chicken was rather resistant. His explanation: 'These chickens have come all the way from Jerusalem, and that is why they are tough. Please choose something else.' "We nearly fell off our chairs laughing." [email protected]