Lenils with Walnuts and Pomegranate
I know Sukkot ends on Wednesday so I am sort sneaking this one in under the wire, but as typically happens I start to get a little Jew’ed out by the time Simcha Torah rolls around. I already managed to get in some delicious trayfe-on-trayfe antidote in the form of mussels with pork belly at the latest hot SF pop-up, Mission Chinese yesterday. It was delicious and was accompanied by some blogger dick-wagging with my friend Eric, over who has more hits from the more obscure reference. His is the Stout Scarab, which is the essentially the original mini-van and what he claims is a highly efficient use of vehicular space. I have my doubts. Mine are pashtida and schug (thanks Daf) . I am only mentioning this because it allows me to link to his high traffic post multiple times in an attempt to claim to be a source of his traffic and ultimately get the last word. (Insert evil laugh here)
Sukkot is one of those odd Jewish holidays that I still manage to learn something new about every year. This year I learned while meals should be eaten in the Sukkah, there are actually only six things that may not be eaten outside of the Sukkah. Weirdly, they are the five grains that constitute chametz (or the forbidden grains) for Passover, wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats, along with grape products. This is further solidifying my believe that while Sukkot celebrates the harvest, Passover only exist because we ran out of the harvest from the fall.
At any rate I was looking for something with grains or legume and pomegranate for Sukkot. I had a bag of dry lentils left over from side dishes for lamb and luckily Cooks Illustrated provided inspiration yet again.
Chicken with Apples and Fennel
Question: How long does it take five young professionals in San Francisco to come to consensus on high holiday plans via email and text? I’ll never know the answer. My friends and I started discussing it at the end of August and went in circles for weeks. It was like the set-up to a bad joke – liberal Jews, raised reform, reconstuctionist, conservative, one a convert, all of us with a slight twinge of traditionalism mixed with egalitarianism, and none of us are currently members of a particular synagogue. We even specifically started “shul shopping” by going to some shabbat services looking for a place with the right mix for all of us. The only thing I learned is that the perfect shul does not exist, but in line with the old joke, the one that each person won’t set foot in, does. Luckily, through an impromptu shabbat dinner, we all ended up at the same table and settled on plans within ten minutes. It was a High Holiday miracle!
The dinner came together because I was looking for a Rosh Hashana recipe and serendipitously one appeared in my inbox. I subscribe to a few recipe list and one for salmon with apples and fennel appeared and I knew I was on the right path. Salmon is a pain to make for a crowd because it can easily get dried out, plus it is expensive, not to mention that my good friend, Sarah, now won’t eat fish because she believes it is all unsustainable and toxic. Chicken is almost always the answer for a meal for a crowd of Jews and what I turned to. Since I was sort inventing this recipe I decided a test run was necessary before my larger Rosh Hashana shabbat dinner and invited my friends to serve as guinea pigs.
After working all day and grocery shopping the thought of doing the photography was feeling a bit overwhelming so I called in an old debt and enlisted my good friend Ryan Simon to serve as the official photographer. He has been nagging me to upgrade to an SLR, so this seemed like a good opportunity to let him show me the goods and if it might be worth the investment. All the photos on this post are his, and I threw in a couple of extra because they were particularly good, so I urge you to click and enlarge them.
I also suggest you to look back at some past Rosh hashana recipes as we have a really nice collection going. I personally will be reviewing the how to braid a spiral challah post so I can impress my guest next week. L’Shana Tova!
Fresh Vanilla and Ice Cream together in ONE delicious frozen dessert
Yes, yes I know it’s winter. But ice cream just makes those hard days feel easier. So dispute the frequenting rain and extreme cold in Tel Aviv (well cold by my, and Israel standards, which in actuality means like 45F) I decided to make ice cream to cure some winter day blues. Which kind of ice cream you ask… HALVAH CHUNK ICE CREAM!
Halvah as a flavor is extremely popular and widespread in Israeli food. Along with the standard chocolate, vanilla, halvah is bound to be found in any ice creamery in Israel. Halvah flavored, halvah topping, halva chunks, or even tahini flavor with halvah pieces, halvah with seasame candy…..think of it as the Israeli version of peanut butter, and in the world of ice cream, it is just as prevalent.
I had a lot of leftover halvah from a slightly botched halvah experiment, something went wrong in the mixing process and it turned out much too crumbly. It was very tasty but not solid enough to cut and eat, I figured it would be much better put to use in a fresh batch of vanilla ice cream. So this is my representation of the halvah/ice cream combination, and I must say it was a huge hit.
I used the vanilla ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz’s blog, recipe here. I won’t put up the halvah recipe I used since it wasn’t very successful, plus you can find Marc’s version right here. Or you can use store bought if you choose.
Click to see brief instructions on how I blended the halvah into my ice cream…. and pictures! (although they aren’t the best quality.)
I’ve been planning to make teiglach for the past couple of weeks, but with the Bay Area in a heat wave I was trying to avoid turning on my stove for the required hour. With Simcha Torah coming up tomorrow night I was rapidly running out of time for the recipe to be relevant, so I cranked up the A/C to get these done in time for the culmination of the high holidays. Given that it was 95 degrees in San Francisco yesterday, I may have lost my mind a little bit, but sometimes a little sacrifice is required for my art. As you prepare to celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of reading the Torah (finish up Deuteronomy and start-up again with Genesis), teiglach make a nice sweet treat to go along with the obligatory drinking and hakafot.
While I have definitely never made teiglach I also started the project thinking I had never eaten them either and was unprepared with for what they would taste like, but upon biting into the completed cookie I remembered having them at some point as a kid.
Teiglach literally means “little dough” in Yiddish and has its history in the Lithuanian Jewish community, and is traditional for Rosh Hashana and Simcha Torah. (Apparently holishkes are also traditional for Simcha Torah, as the rolls of cabbage are symbolic for the Torah rolls) While boiling dough in honey seems a bit odd, the dough cooks up crunchy like a cookie covered in a sticky honey syrup. The ingredients are quite basic and the process is very simple but the resulting cookies are oddly addicting.
fruit for sukkot
I was going to do a “what to do with your leftover etrog” post for Sukkot but discovered from the folks over at the Jew and the Carrot, that actually eating the etrog may be a bad idea. It turns out that most of the etrogim produced for the United States are blasted with pesticides to make them look pretty but probably pretty toxic to ingest. So, at the suggestions of Jo Ellen, the editor of Zeek, I have decided to embark on a taste test of fruits I have never tried. Given Sukkot’s tradition of eating fruits, nuts and grains this sounded like a good way to start the holiday especially because it comes so early in the year and it is still a bit warm here in Cali. We do have a couple of other traditional recipes posted from last year, so I urge you to check out our Holishkes (Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage and Ma’amoul date cookies if you want to follow the tradition of eating stuffed foods. I am pretty well ready for Sukkot as, luckily, or oddly, I have built-in Sukkah on my deck due to the fact that my European chain-smoking next door neighbors, have put up a bamboo mats to help protect me from the second-hand smoke. I suppose in order to be in keeping with the requirement that it be a temporary structure I could ask them to rotate the mats.
Trying new or interesting fruit actually something that Dafna, (a co-heathen) and I used to do occasionally when we worked together. I used to bring in interesting fruits and we would sit at my desk and decide whether to add them to our regular fruit repertoire. Baby kiwi and honey crisp apples were two of our favs. I headed over to 99 Ranch and Berkeley Bowl to see what I could find. Upon entering 99 Ranch the first thing I came upon was a durian. Now Dafna will get a bit of a chuckle out of that as we once won the Bay Cities trivia contest by correctly answering durian. Lucky for me I remember that the hint was that tribal people used to rub it near their sleeping places because the disgusting smell would keep away predators, so I kept on walking. What I eventually settled on were starfruit, dragon fruit, fresh dates, golden kiwi, and passion fruit. (I threw a pomegranate in there for a little holiday festiveness)
Grilled Liver and Figs
So I’m still slightly obsessed with figs and was attempting to come up with some creative uses for them. As you may have noticed in previous posts that Gordon and I really like chicken liver. (The rest of the Heathens seem to have escaped this particular affliction) While chopped chicken liver is the more traditional Ashkenazi dish, I felt that the Jerusalem mixed grill gave me a bit of leeway on creating an appetizer that might just be the perfect bit to stave off the hunger pangs of Yom Kippur fasting while awaiting the main break-fast meal. Additionally, this could be a great way to get yourself out in your Sukkah and on the grill while the weather is still nice. I also got a really awesome new infrared gas grill this summer, that I look for any excuse to use. BTW – If anyone has an idea how to put a Jewish twist on pizza, let me know, because this grill converts to an amazing pizza oven.
I started very simply with green California figs as I felt they provided a nice contrast to the dark color of the liver. And while this is a very Mediterranean thing to do I made a simple balsamic vinegar reduction to accompany the figs and liver. I prefer just straight balsamic vinegar but some people like to add a sprig of rosemary or other seasoning. Additionally I used bamboo skewers for the grill but if you are feeling particularly fancy, twigs from a rosemary bush can add a nice bit of flavor. All told this is a sweet, creamy, umami-licous appetizer.
recipe after the jump
Holishkes or sweet and sour stuffed cabbage is a traditional Sukkot meal. I’ve seen this noted in a number of recipes but other than it being stuffed I can’t really determine how this dish became associated with a harvest holiday where we go out into tents. Sukkot ended on Friday and my illness prevented me from cooking until last night, but I have heard the cabbage rolls are a symbol for the Torah rolls and are also traditional for Simcah Torah, so I’m gonna go with that. I personally have never made or had this dish before, mainly because it is incredibly involved. It took me a couple of hours to prepare everything for cooking but I also christened my new meat grinder and ground a lovely lamb shoulder I picked up for the bargain price of $2.99/lb at Whole Foods, along with a beef chuck steak. All of the effort proved to be worth it, because they are delicious!
Recipe after the jump
It's a knish
Ah, the humble knish. A small pastry filled with any number of leftover or cheap ingredients. If there was ever a hand held version of the casserole, the knish might be it. Now it would be reasonable to say that the knish is part of a genre of food that includes pot-stickers, perogies, pasties, and even the calzone. But each has their own twist, their own milieu and acceptable forms. You would not think of putting cheese in a pot-sticker, and likewise a calzone with ginger chicken seems wrong. So, I have attempted two traditional knishes, one with a ground beef filling and another even more traditional (owing to its poorer roots) of potato and onion.
I did not grow up eating these. My parents (and their own parents) having attained a semblance of affluence focused on the richer, more luxurious end of the the Deli menu. Where beef tongue, pastrami and lox reigned there was no room for the humble little Russian potato pie.
In fact I did not find them myself until I lived in Kansas City of all places. My neighborhood was a odd little affair of several blocks of restaraunts pushed up aganist the Kansas/Missouri state line. On the Missouri side the liquor laws were more liberal, making the state line an ideal place for businesses hoping to attract the more affluent residents of Johnson county Kansas to come out and play. At 39th St, a block from the State Line Rd there was a pizza joint called D’Bronx owned by a family that were congregants at the synagogue I worked for. The potato knish there was delightful, with a stab of spciy brown mustard (Gulden’s of course) you didn’t even notice the lack of meat.
So, in the spirit of making it myself (since Deli’s are a dying breed) I took to my cookbooks and starting working on both a potato and (since my kids love anything with meat) a ground beef knish. I served them with some nice corned beef and boiled cabbage.
Recipe after the break.
Fresh from the smoker
Go ahead, I dare you- google the words “Jewish sausage”. At the risk of inviting bad puns, lets face it there isn’t a lot of food there. That being said I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that at one time there must have been a wide world of Jewish sausages and smoked meats given the absence of refrigeration and the need to eat every scrap of protein that came into the house. My first stop was to consult with Claudia Roden who confirmed in The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day that there had been a very wide array of Jewish sausages in both Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. Sadly what is left to us today is the kosher salami (which I love) and the poor array of supermarket sausages in Israel.
But I was compelled to make sausage for Sukkot (I’m a sucker for an alliteration) and so I pressed on. Merguez is a traditional lamb sausage first made in North Africa and then spreading with the post colonial diaspora to France and then beyond. I sought direction in my production from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curingby Michael Rulhman. I highly recommend the step by step directions. I found a nice shoulder lamb roast at the market, but sourcing fat (which you need) was more difficult. Most of the recipes I have call for pork fat- I non-starter for me. I looked for lamb or goat fat at the Halal markets, with no luck. I also looked for beef fat at the supermarket meat departments. With nothing in hand and unwilling to schlep all the way down to Oakland to see what Whole Foods might have I started looking at some of the meat in the case to see if there was something fatty enough to trim the 1/4lb of fat I needed. There were some nice small brisket pieces, I bought the fattiest one and took it home to trim.
The brisket, btw, makes great hamburger.
Recipe and pictures after the break
My own little "tent"
Here’s wishing everyone a joyful Sukkot, the holiday made famous by Jack Donaghy as “the holiday where they live in tents”. Since it’s a harvest festival we are going to try out some seasonal and festival foods over the next while.
Filed under Holidays, Sukkot