hankinson moreau covenhoven housePHOTO: Hankinson-Moreau-Covenhoven House

FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Historical Association and the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County will present a unique colonial Sephardic Jewish cooking demonstration, “Open Hearth Open House” Sunday, April 12 at the Covenhoven House, 150 West Main St.

This will be the first time the two museums have combined their histories in a single demonstration and are presenting the program operating in part under a grand received by the Historical Association from the NJ Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.

Sephardic Jews, as defined for this Open Hearth demonstration, are Jews of Spanish or Portuguese ancestry who came to the New World after the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century. Although not many of these Jews settled in Monmouth County before the 19th century, their existence here has been documented as early as 1716 when the Gomez family,  a family of Jewish traveling merchants, were here at least for a brief period of time. Their existence has been documented in both court and deed records.

Most of the Jewish population in Monmouth County in the 1700s were itinerant t merchants or workers and either intermarried or  migrated to family in New York rather than establish permanent settlements here.   However, at least three men of the Jewish faith served locally in the Revolution, records at the Jewish Heritage Museum indicate.  By the Civil War era, permanent Jewish settlements had been firmly established in this area.

The recipes being used at the Open Hearth event are from the Gomez family and center on the foods that were used by Spanish and Portuguese, including the fruits, oils, and vegetables common to that European region.  The traditional recipes will be cooked 18th century style over an open hearth. Sample treats made from authentic kosher-style recipes,  will include garvanzos (chick-pea soup), albondigas (meatballs), fassoulia (braised green beans), Passover bumuelos  (fried donuts), and haroset balls (raisins, almonds, apple and cinnamon).

In addition to the Open Hearth cooking and tastings, there will be guided tours of the Covenhoven House, where the British General took up quarters during the Battle of Monmouth, as well as a needlework demonstration, a tea demonstration including the history of proper tea service in the 18th century, and outside  games in which children are invited to participate.

Admission is free at the Covenhoven House for the Open Hearth-Open House afternoon.

For more information or to make a reservation, call the Monmouth County Historical Association at 732-462-1466 or visit www.monmouthhistory.org. The Monmouth County Historical Association is located at70 Court Street in Freehold, NJ. It is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization andis handicapped accessible on the first floor.