Category Archives: Parve

Charoset

Charoset

Ahh… Charoset… the glue that hold the Passover seder together. Or more figuratively, the mortar our enslaved ancestors used to hold the pyramids together and an essential item for your seder plate. I have yet to come across anyone who doesn’t love charoset. Perhaps it is the sweetness of the apples and honey, but probably it has to do with the fact that it is the first real food we get to eat during the Passover seder.  We have made it through the bulk of the haggadah, recited the kiddush, eaten the karpas, asked the four questions, spilled the wine for the plagues, eaten the maror and finally we get the hillel sandwich, which is the perfect appetizer for the meal to come.  I almost always make too much and end up eating it for snacks for days following Passover. There are many recipes for charoset, but all include some form of fruit, nuts, sugar or honey and a bit of wine. I like to make a fairly traditional Ashkenazi version with little personal touches.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Holidays, Parve, Passover

Keisjeliesj (aka Kicheleh, aka Dutch Puffed Purim dough)

These are from Theeboom Bakery in Amsterdam

American Purim is usually celebrated by many things, one of which is the Hamantaschen. First, let’s get a little background on the Hamantaschen. It is triangular and usually filled with jelly (though my mother ingeniously fills them with chocolate). The word “Hamantaschen” was erroneously thought to mean Haman’s hat, and shaped accordingly. Anyone who knows a bit of German will immediately negate this claim – the word taschen actually means “bags” in modern German, but a few centuries ago, it also meant pockets. So there you have it, Hamantaschen actually means Haman’s pockets. Hope yours aren’t too full of lint!

A few years ago, I spent several months in Amsterdam. Before Purim, I went to the local (really the only) Jewish bakery in town, and asked for Hamantaschen. The puzzled response, as though I was speaking a foreign language (well I guess I was) surprised me. I soon discovered that I would not be able to get Hamantaschen like my mother’s in A’dam, but rather a puffed treat that is the cookie made for Purim. I was a bit upset, but what could I do I was a long way from home.

So Kicheleh, in Yiddish (the Dutch word is Keisjeliesj – a similar sounding word), are fried dough with powdered sugar, and what is the standard Dutch Purim treat. They are shaped to emulate Haman’s ears. I made them last night for dinner, and all my friends argued they are better than Hamantaschen. I disagree, but to each is own.

On this blog we focus on food and its delights. However, for each holiday there is an underlying theme. The other common (and commanded) thing to do on Purim is to give gifts to the poor. As important as food is, there are more important things in the world. So eat your Hamantaschen, and kicheleh, until bursting, but do make sure that you give a something to those who need it most. Chag sameach!

Recipe below:

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Bread, Other Stuff, Parve, Purim

Bagels, Montreal Style

Today it snowed in NYC. A lot. And though it doesn’t even compare to the snow falling in neighboring cities, NYC high-ups decided to freak out and shut everything down. I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m cooking. A newly opened Montreal/Jewish style deli in Brooklyn inspired me to get in touch with my Canadian roots and experiment with a Montreal bagel. I went to ‘mile end‘ deli on Monday in hopes of tasting such a bagel, but their weekly shipment from Canadia had already been sold. I left disappointed, hungry, and even more determined to understand this whole Montreal bagel thing. Turns out they are pretty similar to a New York style bagel except for a few key differences: more dense, bigger hole, and sweeter. I can get behind that. There is debate around which is better, but I recommend trying both before aligning with one or the other.

Here’s how I did it, with the help of Montreal baker Marcy Goldman:

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Mustard

homemade mustard

With the great American tradition of Superbowl Sunday approaching, the heathens started contemplating how we could make the traditional tailgate fare “Jewish”. This proved to be somewhat challenging.  I believe Gordon will be gracing the blog with bagel dogs, which gave me the idea to make homemade mustard, because what good bagel dogs need is some good mustard.  It is actually a pretty simple task, and the end result is far superior to any store-bought mustard you can buy. Also given the long running debate over whether mayonnaise is goyisha food, it seems pretty well established that mustard is a perfectly acceptable Jewish condiment.  While I can’t confirm it, many of the major western brands of mustard have suspiciously Jewish sounding names, Guldens, Plochmans, Heinz and Colman (who owned Frenchs for a long period). Also, the spicier, coarser, style  is a staple in Jewish delis, which is probably how it came to be known as deli mustard. Gordon has done several posts on deli meats that he has piled on rye and slather mustard on, including pastrami, liverwurst and of course tongue. Now the tradition of Jews eating tongue with mustard goes all the way back to Genesis, when Abraham is visited by three men and serves them bread, a calf, cottage cheese and milk (along with a variety of other bizzaro rules, the stuff kashrut is based on doesn’t appear until later, in Leviticus) Additionally, Abraham had just circumcised himself because God told him to,  so the man was obviously not thinking clearly. The men eat the food and tell Abraham that his 99 year old wife Sarah will soon have a son (Issac), whom he later offers as a sacrifice. Further along in the story it becomes clear these men were angels (surprise, surprise) and the Talmudic scholar Rashi determined that Abraham actually served them tongue and mustard, which he decided was the food of angels. Two of these same angles, later that day head on over to Sodom and Gomorrah, so it might have been the spicy mustard that got them all riled up… but the point of all that is that Jews have been serving mustard with their deli meat since they became Jews.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Cured and Pickled, Deli, Jewish, Other Stuff, Parve

Israeli Style Ful Medammes (Fava Beans)

Service

“I ate him with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” -Hannibal Lecter

Fava beans are one of the oldest beans eaten in the Western world. In fact it was the only bean known in Europe before the discovery of the Americas (where the common bean is from). The fava bean is eaten all along the Mediterranean basin and well into Asia where they come in a variety of sizes. I can remember eating steamed fava beans with my breakfast in Amman seasoned with salt and herbs that were more than an inch wide.

According to Claudia Roden, fava beans were used in making a traditional Egyptian Shabbat stew that her father called tfadalou. It consisted of whole eggs that were slow cooked with the beans in the still hot ashes of the communal baths or bakeries. It would form the center of a meal with a slew of salads and bread on Shabbat afternoon (a seuda shlitshit or third feast of the Sabbath).

In Israel fava beans are used in a porridge that is simply called Ful (pronounced fool). It is a simple dish that is frequently eaten as a breakfast with hard boiled eggs or as part of a lunch with grilled meat and pita. This dish is a lot like musabacha a warm mix of whole and crushed chick peas. At Humas Said in Akko (or Acre) you can get humas with ful bringing these two similar dishes together.

My personal favorite is the ful at Samir’s in Ramle (located at the top of Detroit Community St. -the things people name streets!). It is a warm mix of stewed fava beans, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. This very simple dish has only one real requirement, that you make it from scratch using dried fava beans.

By the way, if beans give you gas (a byproduct of the oligosacchrides present) then one possible solution is to boil them briefly and then rinse them before continuing to cook in fresh water. A better solution is the traditional one, cook them low and slow to break down those carbohydrates into something your body can actually digest.

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Satan’s Farts – Pumpernickle

Yummy pumpernickel

There is a saying that “if you fail, try and try again.” Luckily I only had to try once. I made pumpernickel a few months ago. It turned out horrible, so I tried again, and succeeded.

So there are two types of pumpernickel. First, is what you are probable familar with – the Jewish-American pumpernickel. It is very similar to a rye bread and it’s great with deli meats. The second is the German pumpernickel, from which the first originates. It is much denser, all rye flour, and takes days to rise. It all started several centuries ago, and today this German pumpernickel is very hard to find in US markets.

The large amounts of rye in the German bread make is rather difficult to digest. I will leave out all the pleasant details, but this is how is became known as “Satan’s farts” (or “pumpernickel” in the German language).

Because I have digestion problems on any day of the week, I decided to make the American-Jewish varietal. Read on…

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Bread, Deli, Jewish, Parve

Rainbow Latkes

What could possible make the fried potato goodness that is a latke any better? Our friends the sweet potato and zucchini can answer that question (with flying colors!). Even better* are the locally grown, PURPLE organic taters I threw in from my CSA. You can even pretend that these are healthy and we’ll just ignore all that oil :) For more fun alternative and sustainable latke recipes, check out one of my favorite blogs The Jew and the Carrot.

*what would actually be better is losing the zucchini and adding in some carrots or parsnips for the sake of using seasonal produce…but i have a soft spot for the zuc.

Get ready for some delicious latkes, mid-eighties cartoon style ;) after the break

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Parve

Honey doughnuts (sufganiyot)

honey yummy sufganyiot

Fried doughnuts or fritters are common at Hanukkah in almost all Jewish communities. In fact, you can probably determine the geographic origin of many Jewish families simply by finding out what they call these treats. Israelis and Ashkenazim call them sufganyiot and typically they are filled with jelly.  Others are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar or tossed in a sweet honey or citrus syrup. The European Sephardim call them bimuelos, in Egypt they are zalabia, Persians refer to them as zengoula, and my personal favorite are the Greek loukoumades, or as Greek Jews call them zvingous. I first encountered loukoumades at the fabulous Oakland Greek Festival, which is held every year in May. At this festival you can determine the best treats by the length of the line for it and in the case of the beer, gyros and loukoumades, the wait is totally worth it. (As an aside, we Jews could really take a cue from the Greeks on how to put on a super-fun ethnic festival, ours tend to lack beer, have a poor selection of food and are overwhelmed with organizational politics) So for this year’s Hanukkah I decided I would make my own loukoumades instead of having to wait all the way until May to get my next fix.

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Filed under Bread, Dessert, Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Parve, Sephardic

Jerusalem Pretzels

 

Yummy pretzels. Dup in mustard, oil, hummus, or whatever else you may fancy...

 

When I think of pretzels, I think of a Sunday afternoon at the ballpark, with a hot dog in one hand and a pretzel in the other. The pretzel is really scrumptious, though not so nutrious. I’d bet though, you have no idea why it is called a pretzel or why they are usually in that shape…

The pretzel was “invented” in 610AD in southern France/northern Italy. The folded section symbolizes a child’s folded arms during prayer and the three different section symbolize the Trinity. Pretzels, or Pretiola in Latin as they were originally called, were given by monks to children who did well is Bible school. Over the next few centuries the Pretiola migrated to Germany and became the “Pretzel.”

So what does this have to do with Jerusalem (aka Jewish) Pretzels? To be honest, I have no idea. In doing research, I could not find the historical origins of the Jerusalem Pretzel. I found the recipe in Janna Gur’s cookbook, and have eaten them many times in the Old City. She claims post-the-Jews-regaining-Jerusalem, the Jews discoverd that their Arab friends had a tasty treat. Jeruslaem Pretzels, though, are shaped in an oval, presumably because the Arabs and Jews knew the historical roots of the “normal” pretzel. Also, in my research, I discovered the beigeleh, which in Yiddish would mean little bagel. It looks similar to me, but not quite the same. So in sum, pretzels taste good, so just eat them!

Today, I tried making this recipe using weights instead of volumes (ie, 500g and not 1/2 cup). It worked really well, and I recommend it, but I will include the volumes in case you don’t have a scale. So the pretzels are fairly easy to make, but the true ones use no salt and plenty of yeast. They can be enjoyed alone, dipped on olive oil, or even zatar. They are coated with generous amounts of sesame seeds. I recommend eating them immediately; or once they are cooled, freeze them in a ziplock bag and they can be reheated at 350F in the oven.

Recipe…

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Filed under Bread, Goyish, Israeli, Parve, Pasta and Grains

My Mamma’s Lentil Soup

So it’s starting to get a little chilly in Tel Aviv and the fact that I’ll be celebrating my first Thanksgiving away from home is sinking in so I figured it was necessary  to make something homey. So I decided to make my absolute favorite comfort food, lentil soup.

Lentils are a legume and come in a variety of different colors. Typically my mom uses lentils of the brown variety but I decided to experiment and try out the orange lentils. As I’ve learned the brown ones are a little more hearty and will render more of a stew. The orange ones are smaller and when cooked for a while turn into a creamy soup, either way you go you’re gonna make something delicious packed with flavor (not to mention iron and protein!).  For cooking, the only difference is that instead of cooking for 2-3 hours it really only needs 30-45 minutes.

Continue reading for the recipe….

Here’s what you do:

Olive Oil

1 yellow onion

a few stalks of celery

2 carrots

2 small Tomatoes

(all diced)

Cumin

Salt/Pepper

1 bag lentils

First clean off the lentils running water through them until the water comes out clear. In a large pot let the sliced onion simmer in olive oil until they become translucent.  Add the carrots and the celery and let them cook until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and spices and let simmer for 2-3 minutes as the flavor combine. Then add the lentils to the bottom of the pot and stir. Let the lentils stand for about 2 minutes before adding 4 cups water. Turn the heat up and bring the soup to a boil, come for 5 minutes, then cover the pot, turn down the heat, and let cook for 2-3 hours.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Fruit and Vegtables, Israeli, Jewish, Parve