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Lag BaOmer Recipes

You don’t need to be in Israel to celebrate this festive day the Israeli way. 

Camp Recipe: Chef Lori's Shabbas Brownies

The URJ Camp George Team

Like at so many Jewish summer camps, the Shabbat experience is a highlight for campers and staffers alike at URJ Camp George in Ontario, Canada. These chocolaty brownies, created by chef Lori Stevenson, help make Shabbat even sweeter. Now you can enjoy them at home and think of camp, whether you’ve ever experienced Shabbat on Maple Lake or not!

1.875 cups white sugar (1 7/8 cups)
1 cup shortening
1/4 cup pareve margarine
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A splash of vanilla
1/4 cup water
1 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream sugar, shortening, margarine and salt.
  2. Slowly add the eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and water
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa power, and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes. 

To make the icing:

  1. Whip butter and cocoa together in large bowl until smooth .
  2. Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.
  3. Stir together until the icing is light, fluffy, and smooth (about 1-2 minutes). 

Once the brownies have cooled, ice them and cut into squares. They are best enjoyed with camp friends! 

For more than 33 years Lori Stevenson has worked in the kitchen on the site of URJ Camp George, a Reform Jewish summer camp for children in grades 2 to 11. As a master kosher chef and culinary expert, Lori ensures that all 500 mouths are fed three times a day, all summer long. Along with her assistant Vicky, Lori whips up extraordinary meals that have everyone coming back for more!

Learn more about URJ Camp George in Ontario, Canada, or find a Reform Jewish summer camp near you.

Techina Cookies

Sharon Mann

My husband introduced me to techina (tahini), a staple found in most Israeli kitchens, as soon as we made aliyah in 1992. You can choose to halve all the ingredients for a smaller batch or freeze some for a later date. These cookies also taste great straight out of the freezer!

3 cups flour (half all purpose flour and half whole wheat flour)
1 cup raw tahini* (techina gol'mit)
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter or margarine
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, white and brown sugars) in a large bowl. Add the techina and then the melted butter (or margarine). Mix with a large spoon. At some point you will need to switch to mixing the dough by hand until it is fully mixed. The dough will have a sticky slightly crumbly consistency.
  3. Take approximately one teaspoon of the batter at a time, and roll in your hands to form small balls. Place each cookie ball, evenly spaced, onto the baking sheets. Techina cookies don’t spread when baking, so there is no need to leave much space between each cookie.
  4.  One at time, flatten each cookie ball by holding it with one hand and with your other hand gently pressing down gently with your thumb or using the back of a small fork to make a criss-cross shape. Because the batter will be crumbly, you may need to reshape the cookie if pieces fall off.
  5. Bake until golden brown (approximately 15 to 20 minutes depending on how crispy you like your cookies). Let cool to room temperature and serve.

*If oil is floating on top, mix it in and then measure 1 cup.

Chocolate Chip Mystery Mandelbrot

Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's book, Entree to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Mandelbrot means “almond bread” in Yiddish, but its origins are the biscotti cookies that were created in Italy more than 700 years ago. These biscotti originally contained no fat or sugar and were baked twice so that they would be very hard and dry and last for months on ships at sea. Biscotti recipes traveled north to Germany, where they became very popular with the Jewish community because they could be made in advance of Shabbat and stay fresh for days.

Around the early 1900s, oil or butter was added to the dough along with different nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips, and our modern mandelbrot was created. During the Depression and World War II, butter and cooking oil were expensive and hard to come by, so mayonnaise was often used in their place. Mayonnaise is the secret ingredient in these mystery mandelbrot.

Hellmann’s mayonnaise was created by Nina Hellmann in 1905 to use on sandwiches and for sale in her German husband’s deli in New York City. Perhaps the Hellmanns were Jewish? Who knows, but Hellmann’s mayonnaise makes these cookies delicious!

The almond tree is the first tree to bloom in Israel in the early spring, making this recipe perfect for Tu BiShvat.

1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini variety
1/2 cup slivered almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a 3-quart mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 long, narrow loaves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully transfer one loaf to a cutting board. Using a chef ’s knife, slice the loaf on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Lay the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet, and repeat with the other loaf. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, turn the slices over, and return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before storing in sealed container.

Kitchen Conversations

Look at the label on the jar of mayonnaise and read the list of ingredients. Discuss why it makes the cookies taste so good and light. What other recipes could use mayonnaise instead of oil?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This recipe is perfect for children of all ages because no electrical equipment is necessary and the dough is easy to work with.
  • An adult should transfer the hot loaves to a cutting board, but after 5 minutes, supervised children can use a chef’s knife to cut the dough into slices
  • Only children over the age of seven or eight should be allowed to turn the hot slices over, because the cookie sheet is very hot.

Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Orange Slices

Tina Wasserman

The use of sherry vinegar, cumin, and oranges speaks volumes about the Iberian influence on the cooking of South America.

1/2 cup tightly packed parsley
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
21/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
11/2 pounds steak (rib eye, skirt, or club)
4 navel or Valencia oranges
Flour tortillas (optional)
  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a processor work bowl. Pulse on and off until the garlic and parsley appear to be minced and make a coarse paste.
  2. Add the vinegar and olive oil, and pulse until well blended. Let the mixture sit for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld.
  3. Brush steaks with 2 tablespoons of the sauce and let sit for 1/2 hour. Marinate skirt steak in half of the sauce for 3-4 hours to tenderize.
  4. Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges and cut away all of the rind, leaving a ball of orange. Slice the oranges horizontally into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside.
  5. Grill the steak over medium-hot coals until medium rare (about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of steak.)
  6. Slice the steak across the grain and place on the center of a platter. Place the orange slices around the meat and drizzle with some of the remaining chimichurri sauce.

Note: If you like, you may place some of the meat, sauce, and oranges in a tortilla and wrap it up, like eating fajitas. This is not traditional but fun!


Tina's Tidbits: 
  • The acid in a marinade will help tenderize tougher cuts of meat. Tender cuts use the marinade for its flavor alone.
  • Regardless of the tenderness of your meat, always slice meat on a diagonal to avoid cutting directly on the grain of the muscle, which would create long strings of chewy meat. This is most true with beef.

Kichlach (cookies)

In Israel, all young men and women are required to enlist for military service at the age of 18. The soldiers, who manage to get home only once every several weeks, enjoy getting parcels with sweet things from home. Derived from central Europe, the popular kichlach are to be found in many of the packages destined for young soldiers. No adequate substitute has so far been found for the homemade product. The word kichlach is Yiddish for cookies.

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons poppy seeds (optional)
  1. Beat eggs until light, then beat in oil, sugar, flour and salt. Beat until very smooth.
  2. Stir in poppy seeds, if you desire.
  3. Drop by the teaspoon onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between each (they spread and puff while baking).
  4. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes or until browned on the edges.

Shishlik (Meat Kabobs)

The simple method of preparing meat on an open grill goes back to ancient biblical times. To this day, Israelis tend to prefer their meat prepared in this manner. Shishlik is one of the most popular dishes requested at restaurants.

1 pound tender beef or lamb, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
  1. Marinate diced meat in garlic and oil mixture for 1/2 hour.
  2. Remove and put meat cubes on skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place over charcoal grill or in broiler.

Falafel (Chickpea Patties)

Falafel is sold on street corners in every city and town in Israel. Some call it the "Israeli hamburger." Its popularity can be attributed in no small part to the Yemenite Jews who have brought a particularly tasty version onto the culinary scene. Students living on a meager budget consume full-portion falafels in whole pitas on the sidewalks as their noon "dinner."

16 ounces canned chickpeas, drained
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs or fine bulgur
1 teaspoon ground coriander or cumin
1 teaspoon dried hot peppers
1 teaspoon garlic powder
vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Combine chickpeas with onion. Add parsley, lightly beaten egg and spices.
  2. Mix in blender. Add breadcrumbs until mixture forms a small ball without sticking to your hands.
  3. Form chickpea mixture into small balls about the size of a quarter (one inch in diameter).
  4. Flatten patties slightly and fry until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Drain falafel balls on paper towels.
  6. Serve individually with toothpicks as an hors d'oeuvre or as a sandwich filling with chopped tomato, cucumber, radish, lettuce, onion, hummus and/or tehina inside pita bread.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Sofrito

Tina Wasserman

The cooks at Adath Israel (a small, vibrant Orthodox synagogue established by Polish Jews in the '20s) told me that they either bake chicken with a simple marinade or make chicken fricassee with a basic sofrito. I combined the two into one recipe.

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  1. Remove the fillet from the underside of the chicken breasts.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a glass bowl or casserole.
  3. Add the chicken breasts and fillets and marinate for 2 or more hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Grill the chicken on both sides for a total of approximately 7 minutes, until it is cooked but still moist and tender. Alternatively, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and sauté the chicken -- about 3 minutes per side, until it is done in the center and golden on both sides.
  5. Set the chicken aside, reserving the marinade. Keep warm until you're ready to serve with the sofrito sauce. (see Sofrito Sauce recipe)
  6. Return the sautéed chicken to the pan with the sauce to warm and serve. Alternatively, serve the grilled chicken on a platter topped with sauce.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • The fillet of the chicken breast has a white pearlized tendon running through it. To ensure even cooking of the breast, this tendon needs to be removed.


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