Food to nourish the body and soul

| November 29, 2013

More than seven years ago, six women sat down to gather recipes that tell the story of their community. Lisa Goldberg shares memories – and a delicious recipe – from her sisterhood, the ‘Monday Morning Cooking Club’.

I am part of an amazing sisterhood of six women known as the ‘Monday Morning Cooking Club’ (MMCC). We planted a seed of an idea in March 2006 to create a cookbook that could stand alongside any of the great cookbooks of the world and raise money for charity along the way. And so we met every Monday morning over endless cups of tea to find recipes that tell the story of our community. Sydney’s Jewish community is itself a melting pot, representative of Australia’s diverse cultures. Ours is a community where love is shown through nurturing, and nurturing is synonymous with nourishing.

And what better way to feel love, and to nourish both body and soul, than through the sharing of food, and from the warmth of memories created by it?

‘Monday Morning Cooking Club – the food, the stories, the sisterhood’ is a unique snapshot of our deliciously food-obsessed community, an anthology of some of our best cooks who most generously shared treasured recipes and snippets of their life stories. These are recipes that fill kitchens with heartwarming and luscious dishes, so that everyone can feel nurtured, nourished and loved – just from the eating.

There is nothing quite as comforting as a dish that reminds you of a generation gone by or a grandmother from decades past. Imagine a soup whose warming aroma takes you back to a different time and place, or a strudel where the first bite of flaky pastry brings back the memory of an aunt once dear.

This is what soothes the soul – finding those dishes that connect you to someone, somewhere or some time.

That is why collecting recipes, particularly from mothers and grandmothers, absolutely warms our hearts. Merelyn, one of the MMCC girls, tells a wonderful story of her late mother’s now-famous custard chiffon cake. It fills her heart with joy that every time she makes this cake, it brings her mother to her side once again. Natanya, another of the MMCC crew, gets sentimental over her late grandmother’s lokshen kugel as the taste and smell transport her to a time long gone. One of my favourites is my bubba Esther’s potato ulnyik, a recipe handed down to me. Every year at Passover when my mother makes it, we feel connected to the generations of old where the recipe was created. We know that the future generations – our children and theirs – will make the same dish each year and through that act remember us. Heartwarming indeed.

One fabulous recipe in our book comes from Sharen Fink who recalls that, in her family, nothing quite brings the same enjoyment from around the table as her Buba’s eggplant. She explains: “This recipe is a true family heirloom – it’s full of flavour … and love. Buba makes this dish every Friday for Shabbat [Sabbath], and to put in all of our [the grandchildren’s] fridges as well.” Now if that isn’t love, what is?


Buba’s eggplant (adapted from the original recipe)

2 large eggplants
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or olive oil spray
3 tablespoons olive oil (for the sauce)
1 small onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 x 400 g tins diced tomatoes

Cut the eggplant across into 1 cm thick slices. Lay the slices on paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt. Leave for 10 minutes, then wipe off any excess moisture with paper towel.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray and brush/spray with olive oil. Place the sliced eggplant on the tray and brush/spray with olive oil. Bake the eggplant slices for 30 – 40 minutes or until brown and soft.

Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 15 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook slowly for a further 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until a rich sauce forms. Check the seasoning and set aside.

Grease a 20 x 22 cm shallow ovenproof dish. To assemble, spoon a third of the tomato sauce into the dish. Add a single layer of eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat the process, finishing with a scant covering of tomato sauce. Bake for 45 minutes (uncovered) until a crust has formed. Allow to cool. Keeps well in the fridge for several days. Bring to room temperature or heat to serve.

Serves 6–8 as a side dish.

Option:  Add sliced mozzarella and torn basil leaves to the eggplant layers



  1. Jrafi

    September 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

    seems to delicious

    Buba’s eggplant looks like a great recipe. thanks for sharing this. I want to try this at home to make more delicious and it contains much nutrient. for more recipes:

    • josh frankenhuis

      March 12, 2015 at 5:12 am

      healthy recipes

      I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thank you so much for sharing! Josh