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
Honey baked apple
As I’m sure most of you know, one of the traditions of Rosh Hashana is to eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize the sweetness of the new year. I personally like to make apple based desserts to incorporate this tradition further into the meal. While my Apple honey up-side down cake is pretty darn tasty, I though I would do something that really allows the apples center stage. I’ve also been on a fig binge. They are in the peak of their season right now and I’ve been finding all sorts of varieties, from California green to the black missions. Now, as if in an effort to slowly torture me, there is a fig tree right at my front door, and while it looks amazing, the fruit is all but inedible to anyone but the squirrels, so unfortunately I have to get mine from the store like everyone else. As Gordon pointed out in his last post, the fig is one of the Seven Species of Israel, and it is the first literal plant named in the Torah, when Adam and Eve used the leaves of a fig tree to cover their suddenly noticed nakedness. This sound very uncomfortable to me, as those leaves are prickly, but I’ll take the fruit anytime.
recipe after the break
L'chaim and a Sweet New Year
A proper New Year’s celebration often includes the symbolic consumption of a fruit that you have not yet tasted this season. Pomegranates are often used as they are just reaching their full ripeness at the end of summer. Often this involves messy digging about in the flesh of the pomegranate for the small seeds or arils that are the only edible part. While my kids love this (and often make a huge mess- this stuff stains!) I am ready to move on to something a bit more elegant.
As this thought was rolling around in my head, one of the food blogs I follow ran a short piece on doing infusions using a whip cream dispenser. Since I have one around that I never use, I thought it would be time to find a new use for it. Before I give you the link to the infusion post, let me recommend that their post on wild meat should be avoided if the sight of whole cooked animals makes you queasy.
Now, this whole infusion business has become the trend of the moment (witness the NYT’s is telling you that it is) and I hate to pile on… no I don’t.
First a few words about pomegranates in Jewish life. Regarded as one of the Seven Species on the Land of Israel (the others being wheat, barley, olives, figs, grapes and dates) they pop up frequently in the bible. The shape was (and still is) used on decorative pieces. The head of the high priest’s staff was a pomegranate as are the decorative handle covers of a Torah cover. The pomegranate is said to contain 613 seeds, corresponding to the number of commandants (or mitzvot) in the Torah. Of course you know you have a Jewish pomegranate when the calyx (or tip) is a perfect six pointed star.
On a more prosaic note. The English word grenade is a corruption of the Spanish for pomegranate- granada (as in, granada de mano or hand grenade). In Hebrew the same cognate is used and both the fruit and the weapon is a rimon. So be careful what you ask for at the market!
Sephardic Pumpkin Bread
As you may have noticed the posting activity around here has virtually disappeared the last several months. It turns out that every single one of the heathens have joined the ranks of the gainfully employed. Given that when we started the blog a year ago all 5 of us of us were most assuredly unemployed I say screw the gloom and doom news on the economy, I do believe this is a sure sign that the economy is looking up. Now that several of us are comfortably in place at our new gigs we are going make more of an effort to post of course just in time for the High Holidays. I know Gordon is working on something of a cocktail nature to ring in the New Year and I am toying around with my favorite fall fruit, figs. Hopefully, when Ariel returns from her Hazon ride she can be cajoled into posting a delightfully sweet baked good. In the meantime I highly recommend reviewing some of our hits from last years High Holidays when we were cranking things out:
Honey and my obsession with it.
Gordon’s amazing instructions on how to braid a spiral Challah
My personally developed recipe for Apple Upside-down honey cake
My brisket, in which I reveal my secret ingredient is none other than Lipton Onion soup mix.
Sephardic Pumpkin Bread for a Spanish Rosh Hashana tradition.
Gordon’s Lox, the perfect start to breaking the fast.
Now that I have put it out to the interwebs and we are also expecting some traffic from our friends over at Zeek magazine, I believe I have firmly committed us to providing you our faithful readers (or just our relatives) with some new content.
An early Shana Tovah to you all!