Cook Like Jack's Wife Freda In The Comfort Of Your Own Home

Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves and Mikey Pozarik.
Ever heard of Manhattan's Jack's Wife Freda? Offering up eclectic Jewish comfort food dishes with South African and Israeli touches, this chic café draws in crowds upon hungry crowds to both its downtown outposts for lunching, brunching, and dinnertime noshing. And if you've never had the opportunity to pop by (and you aren't planning on purchasing a ticket to NYC anytime soon), no need to budge an inch. Because the brains behind this shakshuka-serving institution have graced us with a cookbook featuring the recipes we simply can't get enough of.
Scroll on for a taste of Maya and Dean Jankelowitz's Jack's Wife Freda — we'll be whipping up those rose water waffles as soon as Sunday rolls around.
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Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves and Mikey Pozarik.
Green Shakshuka

Serves 8-10


1 large Spanish onion

6 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ lb tomatillos

1 green bell pepper

1 jalapeño chili

1⁄2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 to 3 tbsp hot sauce, if you like it spicy!

1 to 2 eggs, per person

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Toasted challah or French brioche, for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Peel and quarter the onion and place with the garlic cloves in a small baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and ½ tsp of the salt. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until very soft when pierced with a knife. (The onion and garlic can be prepared ahead of time.)

3. In a large bowl, soak the tomatillos in warm water to peel off the outer husk, then cut in half. Cut the stem from the bell pepper, discard the seeds, and cut into quarters. Also cut the stem from the jalapeño, discard the seeds, and quarter.

4. Place the peeled tomatillos, bell pepper, jalapeño, and cilantro leaves in a food processor with the roasted onion and garlic. Process until very smooth; it will have a salsa-like consistency.

5. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the coriander, cumin, and remaining 1 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatillo sauce is heated through. Be careful not to cook too long or your sauce will discolor and the taste will change. Add 1 tbsp of hot sauce at a time until you’ve hit your desired spice level.

6. To assemble the shakshuka: Oil a cast-iron pan and set it over low heat. Crack the desired number of eggs into the pan and cover. Allow the eggs to cook sunny-side up until the whites are fully cooked but the yolks remain soft (you can of course cook the yolks through if that is your preference).

7. Once the eggs are cooked, liberally spoon the shakshuka sauce on top of the eggs and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with toasted challah or French brioche.
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Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves and Mikey Pozarik.
Jalapeno & Gruyère Pasta

Serves 4-6


3 jalapeños chilies

8 garlic cloves

1 16 oz box orecchiete

2 tbsp olive oil

1⁄2 cup white wine

4 tbsp butter

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

¼ cup kosher salt


1. Slice the jalapeños across into thin rounds and finely mince the garlic. Set aside the garlic and jalapeños. Bring 5 qt water—salted to taste like the ocean!—to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 9 minutes (the instructions on most packages say 13 minutes, although the pasta will absorb more liquid later, so stick to 9 minutes to avoid overcooking). Before straining the pasta, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water.

2. In the same pot used for cooking the pasta, combine the olive oil, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to toast and the jalapeños soften. Add the white wine and butter. Once the butter has melted, return the pasta to the pot and stir. Add the shredded Gruyere cheese and reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has melted and the pasta appears creamy. Note: You may not use all of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately with thinly sliced, fresh jalapeños on top if desired.
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Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves and Mikey Pozarik.
Rose Water Waffles

Yields 6 to 8 waffles


2½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp sugar

3 large eggs

1¼ cups whole milk

2 tbsp rose water

1 cup sour cream

4 tbsp unsalted butter

Optional 1/4 cup honey honey syrup, for serving


1. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl to combine.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rose water, and sour cream.

3. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan until the butter begins to brown (be careful as the butter may splatter). When the butter begins forming brown bits on the bottom of the pan and the color is a deep golden dark brown, turn off the heat. Scrape up any bits of burnt butter from the bottom of the pan and add the honey to the warm butter, stirring until smooth.

4. Add the egg mixture to the sifted dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the butter/honey mixture to the waffle batter and once again stir just to combine, taking care not to over mix.

5. Heat a waffle iron, spray each side with nonstick cooking spray, and cook the waffles until golden brown, or to your waffle iron specifications.

6. Finish with a topping of berries, a dollop of yogurt, and a pour of honey syrup.
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Photo: Courtesy of Henry Hargreaves and Mikey Pozarik.
Madame Freda

Makes 4 sandwiches

Béchamel Ingredients

1⁄2 cup whole milk

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

Pinch of kosher salt

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1⁄2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

8 slices sourdough or country white bread

8 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese

8 slices Duck Bacon, cooked

Butter, for toasting

1⁄2 cup white cheddar cheese

1⁄2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

4 eggs

Cracked black pepper

Instructions For Béchamel

1. Heat the milk, cream, and salt together in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop until warm. Slowly melt the butter in a saucepan, and once melted, add the flour and stir until combined. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cream and bring the béchamel to a simmer. Once thickened and bubbling, add the Worcestershire sauce and 1⁄2 cup of the cheddar cheese; stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator.

Instructions For Assembling Sandwiches

1. Preheat the broiler.

2. Spread a tsp or so of the béchamel on both sides of the bread slices. Place 2 slices of Gruyere and 2 slices of duck bacon on one side of the sandwich. Close the sandwich and do the same for the other three.

3.In a frying pan, using a small amount of butter, toast each side of the sandwich as you would a grilled cheese.

4. Mix together the cheddar and the Parmesan in a small bowl. Place the toasted sandwiches on a baking sheet and spread liberally with the béchamel covering the entire slice, doing the same with a handful of the shredded cheese. Place the baking sheet under your broiler and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the top of the sandwich is bubbling and the cheese becomes a golden brown.

5. In a small sauté pan, cook each egg sunny-side up with a little butter; the yolks should stay runny. Place one egg on top of each sandwich. Serve with a dash of Worcestershire sauce and cracked black pepper.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jack's Wife Freda Cookbook.
Jack's Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz, $15.59, available at Amazon.

Recipes by Julia Jaksic, Published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by NoamBennyLLC.
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