No dilemma with this omnivores bar mitzvah: Its summer, lets BBQ

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My son, Gideon, will have his bar mitzvah Saturday, Aug. 16, which is Shabbat Nachamu — the Shabbat of Consolation, the first Shabbat after Tisha B’Av. Gideon is very much looking forward to his special day. “The feeling of relief is going to be awesome,” he says. “Not having to do work anymore, not having to study. I’m really looking forward to the lunch!”

Coming from a vegetarian home, Gideon has long felt meat deprived. He quotes a recent movie: “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.” So for his bar mitzvah lunch, he’s having his favorite meal — barbecue and all the fixings from Roadside BBQ in San Francisco.

I was fortunate to discover that Randy Kaplan, owner of Roadside BBQ, is a Jew, which makes me feel better about my son’s choice of menu. In addition to Kaplan’s delicious, slowly smoked and meltingly tender Texas beef brisket and smoked barbecue chicken, we’ll also have plenty of other classic and meat-free dishes.

Roadside BBQ’s recipes are closely guarded secrets, but I’m supplying a few classic summer favorites that we’ve enjoyed over the years. Mazel tov, Gideon!

Caramel Pecan Bread Pudding

Serves 8

11⁄2 cups milk

11⁄2 cups cream

3⁄4 cup sugar

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

4 eggs

3⁄4 cup golden raisins

12 oz. bread, cut into 1-inch pieces

Whisk together the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add the raisins and the bread pieces, and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pour the mixture into a buttered 11-inch clay/stoneware baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking for 10 more minutes, until the pudding is set and the top is browned. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes before serving with caramel pecan sauce.

Caramel Pecan Sauce

11⁄2 cups sugar

1⁄2 cup water

11⁄2 cups cream

1⁄2 cup toasted chopped pecans

1⁄4 cup bourbon or rum (optional)

Mix the sugar and water together in a heavy nonstick saucepan. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until the syrup is a deep amber color. Add in the cream. The mixture will bubble up, but keep stirring until smooth. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pecans and bourbon (if using). Reheat gently to serve.

Baked Beans

Serves 8 to 10

1 lbs. small white beans, cooked until tender

1 cup bean cooking liquid

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1⁄2 cup molasses

2 Tbs. mustard seed, ground

1 tsp. whole allspice, ground

8 cloves, ground

2 tsp. cumin seed, ground

2 tsp. chili flakes, ground

1 Tbs. sweet paprika

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. coarse sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a covered clay casserole and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at She can be reached at [email protected].