Archive for the 'Holiday Posts' Category

Yid.Dish: In Search of the Perfect Cheesecake




As Shavuot approaches, I’m sure many people are contemplating cheesecake recipes. Chocolate with an Oreo crust; pumpkin with a caramel swirl; lemon or key lime; peanut butter chip; or just pure, unadulterated cheesecake.

It’s not so much the dilemma over recipe that irks me every Shavuot, it’s the huge crack (or 3) down the middle of the cheesecake when all I want is a smooth, beautiful top I don’t have to cover with fruit to hide the imperfections.

After doing some reading on the chemistry of baking cheesecake (and lots of failed experiments [in appearance, not taste :) ]), I found the perfect technique for making a smooth, creamy cheesecake. It freaked me out the first time I did it, but it was the most amazing cheesecake I’ve ever made.

The Haroset Taste-Off

Thanks so much for this great guest post from Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal.  Rabbi Rosenthal is the Director of Education at Congregation B’nai Zion in El Paso, TX.  Before moving to El Paso, she worked as Shabbat and Holidays Coordinator at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City.

Charoset

Passover is a perfect time to learn about Jewish communities from around the world, since there are so many different customs that surround the seder and Passover observance in general.  Whether it is the Afgan and Iranian custom of smacking your tablemates with scallions during Dayenu or the Hungarian custom of decorating the seder table with jewels to commemorate the gold, silver and precious stones that the Israelites took with them from Egypt, Passover can really give us a glimpse into the practices of Jewish communities other than our own.  Haroset is one of the ways that people can learn about other communities and their seder customs, since it seems that every Jewish community (and perhaps every Jewish family) has their own way of creating this seder plate staple.

Yid.Dish: Maple Pecan Matzah “Granola”

P4010011

On Passover there are at leat 13 ways of looking at matzah;  Matzah Pizza, matzah lasagne (meat and dairy version), matzah farfel stuffing, matzah brittle, brussell sprouts with garlic matzah crumbs, matzah layer cake, chocolate covered matzah, matzah ball soup, matzah meal chicken nuggets, matzah brei, matzah rolls….. And now,  maple pecan matzah “granola”.  This one is for my kids- who are already tiring of  cream cheese and jam on matzah for breakfast, and vowed to never take a simple bowl of  sweet crunchy morning cereal for granted.

Maple Pecan Matzah Granola

1/4 c. butter

1/2 c. maple syrup

Interfaith Hillel Sandwich

If Peeps were made with kosher marshmallows, could this become an acceptable alternative to the traditional Hillel sandwich? You decide! Chag sameach.

SANY0003

SANY0005

Win A Copy Of the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam

photo_10715_20091218

Every year come Passover there is the great dessert dilemma. Do I try to fake the cake using matzo meal, or forgo carbs and make meringues?  A few years back I put out fruit with a dark chocolate fondue, but you can really pull that rabbit out of the hat just once.  Invariably, I would pause on almonds, which are delicious, protein filled, fragrant, and fraught with biblical meaning.  Many scholars believe that Moses’ rod was an almond branch, as was Aaron’s.  It is also believed by some that the staff of the messiah will be an almond branch.

Passover Cleaning: Year One

(Originally published at The Forward)

clean

One day last spring, at 11 minutes to midnight, I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. My jeans were streaked with dirt and my hands covered with those chalky, yellow rubber gloves that scream, “I’m in serious cleaning mode, people!” There was something soothing about the rhythm of plunging my sponge into the bucket of sudsy water and attacking the grimy tile. And heaven knows, I needed some soothing; I was waist-deep into preparing my kitchen for Passover for the first time, and I was terrified.

As a home cook who had done my share of scrubbing beet juice from the grooves of cutting boards, and coaxed stubborn islands of cheese from the bottom of lasagna pans, I admittedly should not have been so intimidated by a little cleaning. But getting ready for Passover felt like serious business. On top of the usual kitchen cleaning, every last crumb of bread, which is forbidden during the weeklong holiday, needed to be accounted for. If a rebellious Kashi flake fell through the cracks, my home would be unfit for the celebration. To crib from the Hebrew National hotdog packages, Passover cleaners “answer to a higher authority.”

This Year in the Food Desert…

Thanks so much to Justin Goldstein for sharing with us his post from Jewschool. Justin is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University and a regular contributor at Jewschool.com.  He lives with his wife in Los Angeles and is active and interested in issues of food and economic justice, is an at-home amateur organic vegetarian chef, a farmer’s market enthusiast and a vocal advocate and all-around cheerleader for the work which Hazon does in the world.

matzoh-nu

For many American Jews, the Passover seder is an intimate and annual Jewish experience that is possibly the only time of year they will have such an experience. Not just Jews, but even many non-Jews in America enjoy participating in a Passover seder. There is something unique about the Passover seder which forces us to contemplate our role and status in society, our historical memory and our diet. Whether one observes the laws of dietary restrictions for the full 7 or 8 days of the festival, or if one simply partakes in the unique cuisine, one cannot help but reflect on our typical diets in the face of the temporary changes.

In our contemporary society we have the freedom to visit supermarkets and specialized stores and purchase food from around the world irrelevant of the season or distance. And yet, at the Passover seder, we are forced to recall what it means to hastily prepare simple loaves transported on back. We recognize, in a certain regard, between the stark difference of experiencing food in servitude and experiencing food in freedom. And while we have the freedom to buy and eat what we want, for a series of reasons we in the 21st century have less freedom and awareness in choosing or understanding how our food is produced and what type of story our food has from farm to table.

Make Kwanzaa Cake for Passover–If You Dare

I don’t watch a lot of Food Network. I like cooking, but I really don’t watch much TV anymore, and when I do, I want to see people fighting and then making out, not stirring things. The point is, I don’t watch the Food Network, but I once saw about 15 minutes of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee and it pretty much made me lose all hope in humanity. She was all, “Buy a cake! Spread insane amounts of icing on it! Your kids will love it!” I’m sorry, but do we need a show to tell us that? No, we don’t.

New Podcast – RideCast Special

Happy Rider

Check out this new special Ride Edition Podcast! If you haven’t heard, Hazon is allocating funds raised from the Bay Area Ride a bit differently than past rides. It’s pretty exciting and really putting the power in the hands (or cycles) of Ride participants, who will get to decide where to allocate the funds they raise.
Also, if you didn’t hear about last year’s NY Ride engagement story, Marc tells us what he was thinking the day he proposed on the Ride.

Check it all out by clicking here!

Yid.Dish: Beer Bread (AKA Emergency-Use-Up-My-Beer-Before-Passover Bread)

beer bread

I hosted a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party last week. We drank a lot of beer, but I still have plenty left that I’d like to use up before Passover (Michelle, I accept your cupboard cleaning challenge). There are many wonderful uses for beer (like Guinness Braised London Broil), but my current favorite is beer bread. Not only is it the easiest bread you will ever make, it’s so delicious no one will believe you didn’t spend more than 2 minutes dumping the ingredients together and throwing it in the oven.

Cupboard Cleaning Challenge

As Passover rapidly approaches, cleaning and preparing for the holiday is a topic that comes up more and more. It seems like a huge undertaking and most people dread Passover cleaning– me included. But this year, I’m a little excited. I’ve divided my cleaning into two parts, my kitchen and the rest of my apartment.

I’ve decided to make my Passover cleaning into a more traditional spring cleaning. And what better way to welcome springtime than with a fresh and clean apartment?

As for the kitchen, it’s always quite a project. I started last night with a play from my college roommate’s playbook. I took a box and placed it on the center of my kitchen floor and started throwing all of my chametz into it. I filled the box pretty quickly, now I know why she put the box out about a month before Passover. There were a lot of staples (beans, pasta and rice) in the box, but there were also some hidden treasures in the back of my cabinets that I had completely forgotten about.

Foraging locally for Pesach

images

Here in Portland we’re fortunate to have a year-round farmer’s market, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting, tasty, off-the-beaten-path things to make for Pesach. I love serving fresh asparagus at my seder, but it’s not in season yet, so I was looking for an alternative. Our local mushroom purveyor, Springwater Farm, offers a great variety of mushrooms, but they also sell other wild/foragable foods, including fiddlehead ferns and bags of stinging nettles. Here’s a link to some fiddlehead fern recipes.

The fiddleheads can be served in lieu of asparagus; just blanch them in boiling water and saute in garlic with a little salt.

Yid.Dish: Quinoa, a Passover Game-Changer

Quinoa

It is apropos that the Whole Grains Council has declared quinoa as the March Grain of the Month, as we begin Passover on the night of March 29th. Quinoa, a rockstar of a grain in its own right with tons of nutritional value, made its debut as a Passover friendly grain just a few years ago, forever changing the way many people cook for the holiday.

According to the laws of Passover, chometz (barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt [BROWS to many who attended Jewish day school]) and their derivatives are forbidden. An Ashekanazic rabbinic tradition developed where kitniyot, legumes, rice and other similar products that are processed similar to chometz, look like chometz when ground into flour, or may have even just a bit of chometz in them, were also outlawed for Passover (many Sephardic Jews eat kitniyot).

As luck would have it, the law of kitniyot applies only to items that the rabbis were aware of at the time this tradition developed. This means that, you guessed it, quinoa is allowed on Passover! No longer were the Jewish people restricted to endless variations of potato dishes.

Enter, quinoa.

Rescue Chocolate Introduces “Don’t Passover Me” Bark

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

In December, Sarah Gross attended a workshop called “Bringing a Great Idea to Scale” at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. When prompted to write down a few things she cared about most, Gross wrote “chocolate” and “helping animals.” She recalls, “The next morning as I walked my own rescued pitbull, Mocha, after a breakfast of chocolate (of course), my inspiration hit. ‘Rescue Chocolate,’ I muttered to myself over and over; the ideas were flying in and my fingers began to freeze as I wrote away on my iPhone. Mocha wondered why I wasn’t throwing the ball so well this morning. Anyway, the company took off from there!”

Rescue Chocolate donates 100 percent of its net profits to animal rescue groups, and all its packaging educates chocolate lovers about various issues related to the companion animal overpopulation crisis. All of its products are vegan and kosher/pareve. The company sells (or will sell) chocolate under such catchy names as Bow Wow Bon Bons, Peanut Butter Pit Bull, Pick Me! Pepper, The Fix, Foster-riffic Peppermint, Forever Mocha, and even “Don’t Passover Me” Bark.