Tag Archives: Jewish

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

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

The Bagel Chronicles, final edition

Chewy, Shiny and with a crisp crust

Chewy, Shiny and with a crisp crust

Growing up outside of Milwaukee we had almost no access to decent bagels. In fact the only time we had a steady supply was during the two years I attended Sunday school at Congregation Emanuel b’nai Jeshrun. Back in the day they were located on Milwaukee’s east side, next to my Alma mater, UW-Milwaukee. Since we lived way out in the sticks it was nearly a 45 min drive each way and my dad would take me. We always picked up the Sunday New York Times (there was no home delivery in those days) and then stopped in Shorewood for bagels and lox. Lox came from Benjy’s deli. Bagels came from the Bagel Nosh (sadly long gone), around the back of the same little shopping center off Oakland Ave. My most memorable moment there was one Sunday that we pulled up to see the door propped open and smoke pouring out of it. Undeterred, my father suggested that I see what the story was so I hopped out and made my way into the darkened store. There I found other customers still lined up at the counter and staff members filling bags with fresh bagels. After placing my own order I asked about the smoke and was told it was an electrical fire in the kitchen. That event has become my benchmark for deciding whether or not a food product has a loyal fan base. If people are willing to brave a smoky building for it- it’s probably pretty good.

So, gentle reader we come, at long last, to the end of the road to bagel nirvana. What did it take? In the end it required a willingness to change flour, embrace an additive and use less water that I would have thought advisable. Recipe after the break.

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Filed under Bread