Archive for the 'Shabbat Meals' Category

Yid Dish: Homemade challah for the working woman

I recently headed back to the office after being at home for nearly 18 months. During that year and a half, I renewed my relationships with my children, husband, self, and…my kitchen. I have always been one to cook and entertain, but being at home upped the ante. I turned play dates into dinner dates. Every Friday was a complete Shabbat dinner. There was usually a homemade something or other for dessert. And we had so many leftovers, we had to literally give them away to the neighbors. During this time, I shopped at my leisure, stopping into boutique markets and buying direct from the farms. I founded a CSA. In short, I found a great deal of happiness and comfort in cooking, especially for those I love. It became more than a hobby; it became a passion.

Living with Food Allergies

One bane of being an Ashkenazi Jew is all the food allergies that seem to run rampant through my bloodlines. As many others of Eastern European descent, I’m highly lactose intolerant, and I have recently been diagnosed with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (in fact, it is supposed that many people with IBS actually have some type of undiagnosed gluten intolerance/sensitivity). [I fondly refer to myself as a lactard/glutentard.]

Living with food allergies can make things difficult, especially when it comes to Shabbat. Of course I love eating Shabbat meals at the homes of my friends, but it’s always quite a dilemma for me. If they don’t already know the ins and outs of my dietary restrictions, do I tell them?

Being dairy-free isn’t too much of a problem (usually), since most of my friends serve meat for Shabbat meals, and most Jews are used to cooking parve (neither meat nor dairy) items. It’s the gluten-free restrictions that are the buzz-kill.

Join AJWS for Global Hunger Shabbat!

Global Hunger Shabbat

Global Hunger Shabbat is just around the corner! Join AJWS this Shabbat, March 19-20, for a nationwide day of solidarity, education, reflection and activism to raise awareness about global hunger.

Over 100 synagogues, 31 universities and scores of individuals, Moishe Houses and independent minyanim across the country and in Canada, New Zealand, India, Cape Verde, Uganda, Kenya, Cambodia and Thailand have already signed up to host Global Hunger Shabbat events in their communities.

It’s easy to plan a Global Hunger Shabbat event of your own or find an event at a location near you. Please visit www.ajws.org/hungershabbat for more information and to download activities, resources and suggestions for taking action.

Yid.Dish: Cashew Chicken & Snow Peas

Cashew Chicken & Snow Peas

I am lucky enough to live in Eugene, Oregon. I’ve got it pretty good here – great weather, great outdoors, great Jewish community, great abundance of local organic food. But Chinese food? Not so much here in Eugene.

As a Bay Area transplant, I crave Chinese food. I often feel like I literally NEED it. After months searching for something that would quench my Chinese food tastebuds – and realizing that to keep my version of kosher (which is eco-kosher: less about what is and what is not treyf and more about eating only meat that is ideally organic and pasture-raised – and if not, is absolutely free-range, never given hormones or antibiotics, and was humanely slaughtered) – I came to the conclusion that I’d have to make it myself. For both taste and my personal kashrut reasons. Which is some kind of a life lesson right there, I’m sure.

I stumbled upon a recipe for Cashew Chicken from the inimitable Martha Stewart and decided to give it a whirl – and my own flair. And to tell the truth, it is delicious and happily graces our Friday night Shabbat table pretty often.

Tradition Tested

photo by roland

I’m fascinated when tradition gets tested by modern science and comes out standing.  I’d cheered when acupuncture was shown to be effective for chronic pain.  Now, I’ve learned that America’s Test Kitchen, which publishes Cook’s Illustrated, has subjected challah to its test kitchen experimentation.  The results: pretty much what you’d learned from your mother and grandmother (or would, if you had one).

The best tasting challah is not too sweet, not too dense, not too fluffy and not from the commercial bakeries.  Their results, from the Holiday Baking 2009 issue, included:

A Vegan’s Response to ‘Do You Keep Kosher?’

I never give a one-word response if someone asks whether I keep kosher. After saying “yes,” I usually add qualifiers, such as “I’m vegan, so I keep kosher by default.” Although I do keep kosher in my own way, the extent of my kashrut might not meet the expectations of the person asking the question. I grew up eating meatball pizza, shrimp cocktail, and pork fried rice, so keeping kosher was never a claim I could make early in life. In recent years as I’ve seriously explored the connections between Judaism and veganism, it has been a claim I like to make.

As I’ve noted before, being vegetarian makes it easier to keep kosher:

You don’t have to worry about whether you’re eating meat that’s certified kosher (and whether that certification meets Jewish ideals) if you’re not eating meat. You don’t have to worry about mixing meat and dairy products if you’re avoiding one or both of those categories altogether. As one vegetarian rabbi explained in a 2005 Jewish Ledger article, “We have one set of dishes (plus Passover dishes) and never have to worry about the status of leftovers in the fridge or whether a guest will mix the utensils or food items. … By not eating meat, I am much more certain to never violate, even accidentally, the Biblical and rabbinic prohibitions concerning non-kosher meat.”

Unemployment Adventures in Pickling

kimchi

It all started with an excessive amount of cabbage.  One of my housemates wanted to make a pretty and delicious green and purple cabbage salad for a dinner party she was attending.   “Why are your cabbages so big in this country?  In South Africa we have little cabbages!”  True, even after making her salad a few times we still had a lot of cabbage left over.

Then I got cabbage in my CSA share – two heads of it.  “How do you feel about sauerkraut?”  I suggested, thinking about my own German heritage.  “Or kimchi?” was her suggestion.  Now we started getting excited. She pulled out her Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which was a rather comprehensive collection of pickles (although no kimchi).  So several kimchi recipes were consulted online and we got to work.

Waste Not, Want This: Leftover Challah

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“Half a loaf,” they say, “is better than none.”  But it’s hard for me to cheer when I have half a challah left after Shabbat, doomed to sit on the counter, uneaten until it’s inedible, or tossed into the back of a freezer and forgotten until the pre-Passover clean up and then burned with the chametz.

We’ve been trying especially hard, recently, not to waste food – but when it comes to leftover challah, the challenge is twofold: For one thing, there are four people in my family and 15 slices in the average bakery loaf; you do the math. For another, halakha (Jewish law) requires that two full, un-sliced loaves appear at both the Friday night meal and again on Saturday as a reminder of the double portion of manna that fell from heaven before Shabbat when the Israelites were wandering in the desert. A lovely tradition – but it means the bread left over from supper can’t just be used up at the next day’s lunch.

That’s just one of the many reasons I bake my own challah: I can shape each loaf to the exact size I’ll actually need on a given Shabbat, depending on whether we’re expecting guests. And when I’m too tired/hot/lazy/cranky to bake, I now buy small challah rolls at the bakery, rather than full braids. Yeah, the little round breads look kind of lonely on the big challah board, but honestly, one slice of challah is really enough for each of us.

But even those anti-waste measures aren’t fail-safe – and there are many folks, I know, for whom it just isn’t Shabbos dinner without large, glossy loaves poking their noses out from under a silken challah cover. For all of us, then, I’ve been thinking about delicious ways to use up leftover challah.

30-Minute (Sabbath) Meals

(reprinted from The Forward)

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The other night I had eggs for dinner. Two of them fried over easy, slipped onto a slice of toast and plopped next to some sautéed zucchini with garlic. My total cooking time clocked in somewhere around 12 minutes — about as much energy as I had on a muggy summer evening after a day spent prostrating myself in front of a laptop. There was nothing gourmet about what I ate, except perhaps the pinch of za’atar that I sprinkled over the eggs en route to the table. But according to a recent New York Times Magazine article by Michael Pollan (author of “In Defense of Food” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”), my dinner practically qualified for a James Beard award, the food world’s most prestigious prize.

Why? Because, as unfussy as my meal was, I cooked it. From scratch.

Yid.Dish: Use-Up-the-Apples Kugel

blog apple kugel

Philadelphia – May, 1986. I’m walking down my college’s main thoroughfare, having just finished the very final final exam of my senior year. It’s late afternoon, and as I head toward my off-campus apartment, I come upon a street vendor selling shiny, green Granny Smith apples. I hand the man a quarter, and wipe the fruit on my pant leg. As I take my first bite, taut apple skin gives way to crunchy flesh and a delightfully fresh sweet-sour tang.

“THIS,” I tell the vendor, “is an apple that makes a person glad to be alive.”

I have eaten thousands of Granny Smith apples since then, and while few have been as life-affirming as the one I ate that May afternoon 23 years ago, many have been quite wonderful. Others have been crunchy-enough and sufficiently tasty. But every once in a while, I bite in to an apple and give it the same grade I got on that last exam: a disappointing C-minus.

And so it was, recently, when I ripped open a plastic bag of Granny Smiths I had bought at the Stop & Shop, pulled out an apple and washed it carefully (I’m a grown-up now) and bit in.

A HAZON SHABBAT LUNCH FOR SHABBAT HAZON

This past shabbat I visited Tikvat Israel, the synagogue whose Tuv Ha’aretz CSA we joined at the beginning of the summer. In honor of Shabbat Hazon, the shabbat before the fast of Tisha B’Av, and to celebrate the success of the Hazon CSA, Tikvat Israel served a vegetarian shabbat lunch for its congregants and CSA members. The lunch was chock-full of delicious organic and locally grown vegetables. Farmer Pam’s produce was used in such dishes as cucumber salad, savory zucchini bread and vegetarian chili. In addition to being delicious, the lunch served as a wonderful way to connect congregants and members of the CSA.

Yid. Dish: Corn and Zucchini Risotto

Corn Zucchini Risotto

I know we are in the season of fasts for many Jews but here is a simple (yet a bit time consuming) recipe that tastes great!  We have been getting quite a bit of zucchini in our CSA box.  I even made a healthier version of this (the one without the pineapple) zucchini bread using this recipe.  If you’d like the modified version please post in the comments section and I will get back to you.

Now, I do like zucchini but when it is cooked and mushy it grosses me out a little bit (I have some food texture issues which involve a real dislike of baked/mushy fruits and vegetables).  So, in this reciped I added the veggies at almost the very end of cooking.  If you’d like them cooked a bit more you can add them earlier.

As I mentioned in a previous post, risotto has been a long-time family meal and holds a special place in my heart.  One of the reasons I love risotto is that it is so versatile.  I know many people are intimidated by risotto but this is totally unfounded.  The trick to good risotto is making sure there is always enough liquid in the pan.  You never want the risotto to be so dry that it sticks to the bottom of the pan.  So really the trick might just be attentiveness.

Like my previous risotto post, this recipe isn’t Kosher the way I made it.  However, it is very easy to make it Kosher.  You can use vegetable broth or some sort of chicken-flavored boullion for the depth of flavor that chicken broth gives you.  I would not eliminate the dairy in this recipe.  You just can’t have good risotto without parmesan cheese.  I hope you enjoy this summer risotto!

The Chicken or the Ache?

In my hard-core college vegan days, when I toted around a copy of John Robbins’ Diet for a New America like it was from Mt. Sinai, I often wondered how I would approach the subject of meat eating with any future children I might have. The idealized plan that I came up with (while still a bachelor, of course), was that we would have a strictly vegetarian household until my future children reached the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. At that point, I would give them a copy of Robbins’ well-written argument against consumption of animal products, take them on a tour of the closest factory farm and/or meat processing facility, and then let them make their own informed adult decision about whether they wanted to consume meat from that point forward. If they choose to eat meat at that point, more power to them.

Of course, nearly twenty years later as the (flexitarian? vegewarian?) parent of two toddlers, things are not so cut and dry. Nowadays, Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma has replaced John Robbins on my shelf, and we are indeed an omnivorous household. Things seemed to be going smoothly – we support our Tuv Ha’aretz CSA, shop at Whole Foods (or at least the organic aisle at Stop & Shop), and  try to follow Reb Pollan’s core dictum: “Eat Food, Not to Much, Mostly Plants.” We try to keep limit any meat we consume in the home to that produced in a sustainable, ethical manner. Emergency roadtrip Burger King stops aside, we’ve done a decent job of modeling the ideals of eco-kashrut to our kids.

Jewish Iranian Dumplings for Shabbat

Iranian-Jewish dumplings

This Friday night, I’m thinking of serving gundi, or gondi, the dumplings that are a Shabbat dinner mainstay for Iranian Jews.  What are Jewish Iranians experiencing right now?  I know that some Jewish Iranian ex-patriots are siding with the uprising, and that no matter what, this moment is meaningful to Iranians of all religions. It is also significant for Israel. Especially when words may fail us, there is nothing like sharing a meal together.  Here is one recipe, and another. L’Chaim.