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Eggplant Baladi

By: 
Orly Ziv

Eggplant is so popular year-round in Israel that it shows up in every restaurant, cookbook, and home kitchen in seemingly endless recipes. Eggplant is also a favorite in my household. I learned this recipe in a cooking class and it turned out to be a very successful dish with a surprising flavor combination. It is a wonderful use for date honey (called silan in Hebrew), which is very popular in the Israeli kitchen.

Ingredients: 
2 medium eggplants
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste`
3 tablespoons tahini
3 teaspoons silan
Parsley leaves, chopped
Pine nuts, toasted
Pomegranate seeds
Directions: 
  1. Grill the eggplants over a flame, turning with tongs until soft and evenly charred. Alternately, roast the eggplants under a broiler.
  2. Cut a slit at the bottom of the eggplants and place in a sieve. Leave to drain.
  3. Remove peel, stem, and dark seeds from eggplants and place on a plate or small serving platter.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped garlic* and sea salt over the eggplants, then drizzle with lemon juice, tahini, and silan.
  5. Garnish with parsley, pine nuts, and pomegranage seeds, and serve.

*Tip: Remove the sprout in the center of each clove of garlic (called the "germ") to make it easier to digest.


Reprinted with permission from Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration by Orly Ziv. 

Savory Persian Herb and Cheese Hamantaschen

By: 
Amelia Saltsman

Hamantaschen, the traditional triangular Ashkenazic Purim pastries, are typically a sweet treat. I’ve taken a savory approach here, using spring herbs, a Persian favorite, to honor Esther and Mordechai’s heritage, as well as the season.

With their flaky dough, these Haman’s hats (or pockets or ears) are reminiscent of burekas, the small hand pies popular in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. You can make snack-size hamantaschen or large ones for a vegetarian main dish (see the variation at the end of the recipe).

Ingredients: 
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups (190 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 g) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) ice water
For the filling:
1 bunch each Persian or regular mint, leek or garlic chives, pepper cress, green onions, and tarragon
3/4 cup (170 g) labneh, homemade or store-bought
6 ounces (170 g) feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Directions: 

To Make the Pastry

In a large bowl, stir together the flours and salt with a fork. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some flattened pieces of butter still visible. Stir in the ice water, a little at a time, until the dough just sticks together when pressed between your fingertips. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into a thick rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated; let it rest at room temperature until soft enough to roll out, about 15 minutes.)

To Make the Filling

Finely chop enough of each of the herbs in any combination preferred to total 1¼ cups (75 g) lightly packed. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together the labneh and feta. Stir in the egg, then stir in the chopped herbs.

To Assemble the Pastries

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Have ready 2 sheet pans. If you like, line them with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half and rewrap and refrigerate half of it. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the other half into a rectangle or circle 1/16 to ⅛ inch (2 to 3 mm) thick. Cut out 12 circles each 3½ inches (9 cm) in diameter, rerolling any scraps as needed.

Mound 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold the sides of the dough up over the filling to form a triangle, leaving a nickel-size bit of filling exposed. Pinch the three corners of the triangle very firmly to seal. Arrange the pastries on a sheet pan, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Refrigerate the first batch while you make more with the remaining half of the dough and filling. Top off the pastries with any leftover filling. Brush the pastries with the egg wash.

Bake the pastries for 12 minutes; the bottoms will be light golden. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and continue to bake until the crust is a rich gold and the filling is puffed and browned in places, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Using an offset spatula, transfer the pastries to a wire rack and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftover hamantaschen; they can be reheated in a 350°F (180°C).

Main Dish Variation

To make 6 large hamantaschen, cut three 6-inch (15-cm) circles from each piece of dough. Use about ⅓ cup (70 g) of filling for each dough circle and fold as directed. As you complete shaping each hamantasch, use a wide offset spatula to move it onto the baking sheet. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes and at 375°F (190°C) for about 25 minutes.

Kitchen Note

Unbaked hamantaschen can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 week. Brush frozen pastries with egg wash just before baking, and increase oven times to 15 and 18 minutes, respectively.


Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photo by Staci Valentine.

Persian Spinach and Pine Nut Kuku

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée 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.

Kuku might sound like a silly name, but it is a delicious omelet-like pancake made in Iran. Before 1935, Iran was called Persia, and Jewish people have lived in Persia for almost twenty-five hundred years! When King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, thousands of Jews were exiled to Babylonia, which at that time included the lands of Persia. The story of Purim takes place in Persia, in the city of Shushan.

Kuku are light and fluffy and often contain vegetables and green herbs. Here are two recipes, one using cauliflower and this one with spinach. This recipe for kuku combines some of the foods that the Moors brought from Persia and the Middle East and introduced to Jewish people living in Spain. When, in 1492, the Jews were no longer allowed to live in Spain, they brought their love of spinach, raisins, and pine nuts with them to Italy. Persians introduced the Moors to spinach, and cauliflower was introduced to Persian cuisine from neighboring Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). After the Moors conquered Spain, they introduced the vegetables to the Jews, and along with raisins, they were favored by the Spanish Moors and Jews for centuries. Although the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492, their cooking traditions continued. So whenever you see a recipe that combines raisins with spinach or cauliflower, you can tell that it is a dish with Jewish connections!

Najmieh Batmanglij is my (and most Americans’) go-to authority on Persian cuisine. Her recipes inspired me to create the following.

Kuku can be served hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or cold. This is a perfect recipe to make with children because it can be served whenever you have time to eat it as a snack or rewarmed as a light lunch or brunch dish.

Ingredients: 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup raisins
½ cup finely chopped chives or the green part of scallions
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
10 grindings of black pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Persian advieh, baharat, or cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
5 eggs
2 tablespoons matzah meal
Directions: 
  1. Add all of the oil to the pan and coat well. The excess oil will help cook the kuku.
  2. Place the defrosted chopped spinach in a colander. Take small handfuls of the spinach and squeeze very hard until almost all of the moisture has drained. Place the spinach in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the spinach, and mix with a fork until the mixture is well combined.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the kuku begins to brown.
  5. Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into 1-inch squares.

Kitchen Conversations

Create your own kuku. What vegetable or vegetables would you like to use? What spices would make it taste good?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This is a good recipe to introduce cooking at the stove because the mixture won’t spatter and scare a young child.
  • It is very important that the child be standing on a stable surface—chairs are not appropriate!
  • Make sure that the stove is at least at midriff height. Faces should be far away from cooking utensils.
  • Hot casseroles should be removed from the oven by an adult or a supervised child over the age of ten.

Persian Cauliflower and Raisin Kuku

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée 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.

Kuku might sound like a silly name, but it is a delicious omelet-like pancake made in Iran. Before 1935, Iran was called Persia, and Jewish people have lived in Persia for almost twenty-five hundred years! When King Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, thousands of Jews were exiled to Babylonia, which at that time included the lands of Persia. The story of Purim takes place in Persia, in the city of Shushan.

Kuku are light and fluffy and often contain vegetables and green herbs. Here are two recipes, one using spinach and this one with cauliflower. Persians introduced the Moors to spinach, and cauliflower was introduced to Persian cuisine from neighboring Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). After the Moors conquered Spain, they introduced the vegetables to the Jews, and along with raisins, they were favored by the Spanish Moors and Jews for centuries. Although the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492, their cooking traditions continued. So whenever you see a recipe that combines raisins with spinach or cauliflower, you can tell that it is a dish with Jewish connections!

Najmieh Batmanglij is my (and most Americans’) go-to authority on Persian cuisine. Her recipes inspired me to create the following.

Kuku can be served hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or cold. This is a perfect recipe to make with children because it can be served whenever you have time to eat it as a snack or rewarmed as a light lunch or brunch dish.

Ingredients: 
20-ounce bag frozen cauliflower (or ½ head of large cauliflower)
2 medium onions
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press
5 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper, about 15 turns of a pepper mill
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons dark raisins
Directions: 
  1. If the cauliflower is fresh, then chop into small pieces; if frozen, defrost and drain in a colander. Cut the onions in half top to bottom and then thinly slice. You should have about 4 cups.
  2. Heat a large frying pan on high for 15 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds more. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cauliflower, onions, and salt to the pan, stir to combine, coverthe pan, and then cook for 3 minutes.
  3.  Uncover the pan and sauté until the cauliflower is soft and the onions are light golden brown. Add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Do not burn the garlic.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower/onion mixture to a large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher until the cauliflower becomes a coarse puree. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1½-quart casserole or 10-inch glass pie plate with the additional 2 tablespoons of oil.
  6. Using a fork, combine the eggs, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and raisins in a 1-quart bowl to the cauliflower and mix to thoroughly combine. 
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the greased casserole or pie plate, and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the eggs are cooked in the center. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Note: Cut the cooled kuku into 1-inch squares, and place on a plate with toothpicks for bite-sized snacks or appetizers during the seder or anytime you need hors d’oeuvres.

Kitchen Conversations

Create your own kuku. What vegetable or vegetables would you like to use? What spices would make it taste good?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This is a good recipe to introduce cooking at the stove because the mixture won’t spatter and scare a young child.
  • It is very important that the child be standing on a stable surface—chairs are not appropriate!
  • Make sure that the stove is at least at midriff height. Faces should be far away from cooking utensils.
  • Hot casseroles should be removed from the oven by an adult or a supervised child over the age of ten.

Potato Onion Kugel

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Potato kugel did not become popular until the nineteenth century, when potatoes were grown throughout Europe and Western Russia. By the end of that century, the poor were eating potatoes two or more times a day! However, on Shabbat, even poor Jews found an extra egg, onion, and possibly some pepper to raise the lowly potato to new heights.

When Jewish immigrants came to North America, they brought the poptato recipes they knew and loved with them. Even the popular potato knish of today is a variation of the Shabbat potato kugel brought here over one hundred year ago.

Ingredients: 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat or extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups total)
3 pounds unpeeled California long white or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 small)
2 1/2 cups matzah farfel
8 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
25 grindings of black pepper or to taste
Additional chicken fat or olive oil for greasing pan and top
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat a 10- or 12-inch skillet on high for 15 seconds. Add olive oil and chicken fat, and heat until the fat is melted.
  3. Add the onions and stir to coat with the fat mixture. Cover the pan and cook on medium high for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and sauté the onions for 3 more minutes until just beginning to turn golden.
  5. Grate the potatoes using the fine grating disk on your food processor or a medium grater if shredding by hand, and immediately put in a colander.
  6. Run water through the potatoes to remove starch and whiten them. Press down on the potatoes and drain thoroughly. Set aside.
  7. Place the matzah farfel in a 4-quart bowl. Cover with warm water and let rest for 3 minutes or until the farfel is soft. If any water remains, drain throoughly. Add the eggs, salt, and pepper to the farfel and beat with a fork until well combined. Add the sautéed onion and mix again.
  8. Add the grated potato. Use your hand and a fork to work the potatoes into the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly mixed. The mixture might look dry at first, but soon it will appear moist and pourable.
  9. Grease a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) glass casserole with a little chicken fat (or olive oil). Pour in the potato mixture, and lightly spread it evenly with the fork. Do not pack down the potato mixture.
  10. Put an additional tablespoon of chicken fat or oil in your hand and rub the oil evenly over the top of the potatoes in the pan.
  11. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, dull-side up. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake another 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the kugel is firm to the touch. If the kugel is done but hasn't browned, you may place it under the broiler until golden. 
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • California white or Yukon Gold potatoes are good to use when cooking with children. The hard flesh does not discolor as rapidly as a russet potato, and the skin is so thin that neither variety of potato requires peeling. No peeling means it's safer and more nutritious.
  • If you do not have a food processor, try to find a plastic, medium-holed grater if you are grating by hand. Children are less likely to cut their knuckles using a a hard plastic grater than a metal one.
  • Covering the pan with foil dull-side up helps the pan absorb heat faster while preventing the contents from drying out.

Vegan Stuffed Cabbage

By: 
Mark Reinfeld

This recipe, courtesy of The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe, takes me back to my roots. I can almost see my grandfather, Chef Benjamin Bimstein, preparing these rolls at our family feasts. Popular throughout Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and a cornerstone of Jewish cooking for possibly 2,000 years, they traditionally include meat. Learn more about Jewish veganism.

Ingredients: 
1 large green cabbage
........................................................................
RICE
¾ cup white basmati rice (for a variation on this dish, use brown rice, millet, or quinoa)
1 ½ cups vegetable stock or water
½ teaspoon sea salt
........................................................................
FILLING
1 tablespoon oil
¾ cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
4 ounces of tempeh or extra firm tofu, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon seeded and diced hot chile pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
........................................................................
SAUCE
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon sweetener of choice
½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon fresh minced dill (optional)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the very bottom portion off of the cabbage. Carefully peel away 6 to 8 of the largest leaves. Place a steamer basket in a large pot with approximately one inch of water over high heat. When the water boils, add the cabbage leaves and cook until just soft, approximately 5 minutes. Carefully remove the leaves and place on a plate to cool.
  2. Place another pot over medium high heat. Add the rice, vegetable stock, and salt if using, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the oil, onion, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tempeh and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently and adding small amounts of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add the remaining filling ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, and adding small amounts of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat.
  4. When the rice is done cooking, add to the sauté pan and mix well.
  5. Place the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Place 1/4 of the sauce in a well-oiled 8 x 8-inch casserole dish.
  6. Create your cabbage rolls by placing a small amount of filling at the center of each cabbage leaf, towards the bottom. Fold in the sides and roll tightly away from you. Place in the casserole dish. Top with the remaining sauce. Cover and bake for 10 minutes.

 

 


Mark Reinfeld is a multi-award winning chef and author of seven books, including the best selling 30 Minute Vegan series and his latest book, Healing the Vegan Way. Mark has over 20 years of experience preparing creative vegan and raw cuisine. Since 2012, he has served as the Executive Chef for the North American Vegetarian Society's Summerfest. He has offered consulting services for clients such as Google, Whole Foods, and Bon Appetit Management. Mark was the founding chef of The Blossoming Lotus Restaurant, voted "Best Restaurant on Kaua'i."

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions

By: 
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.

This recipe may not be a traditional Jewish dish, but I created it in a way that my ancestors in Lithuania and Poland would have done. Shabbat, holidays, and weddings all inspired cooks to transform their basic food into something more elaborate. In Eastern Europe, squash, apples, and onions were stored all winter in cold home cellars. Adding an onion to a recipe was a normal occurrence. But adding an apple with its sweetness elevated the dish to something special.

Butternut squash is an ideal winter vegetable because it ripens in early fall, but its hard skin allows it to be stored and eaten all winter long. Here I combine sweet and savory produce and seasonings to make a great side dish or even a main course served with pasta or a grain.

Ingredients: 
1 large onion
2 Fuji, Honeycrisp, or Jonagold apples
20 ounces pre-cut butternut squash (about 4–5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup toasted almond slivers or sunflower seeds (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut the onion in half, and then slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper or foil (dull side up). Set aside.
  3. Using an apple corer/slicer, cut the apples into eighths, and then cut each wedge into 3 or 4 chunks. Add to the onions along with the squash cubes.
  4. Add the oil, thyme, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the baking sheet and toss well.
  5. Spread out in a single layer, and bake for 30 minutes or until the onions are golden and the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  6. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, dried cranberries, and nuts (if using). Toss lightly and place in a serving dish.

Kitchen Conversations

  • How many colors are in this dish?
  • Which ingredients are fruits and which are vegetables?
  • Since you didn’t add sugar to the dish, what makes the onions and squash sweeter?
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Since some apples are very hard, placing your hands next to, or on top of the child’s hand while pressing down will be useful—but don’t press too hard on their little hands if the apple is very hard!
  • It is much safer to use an 8-inch chef’s knife with a child under six than a paring or utility knife. Standing behind the child and holding the knife with him or her instills confidence at the same time that you focus on safety.
  • Combining the cranberries and apples with the savory vegetables makes the dish more intriguing for young children and will promote eating a new, healthy vegetable.
  • This dish is perfect as a side dish for chicken or fish. However, serve this dish on top of quinoa or barley and you will have a nutritious vegetarian main dish.

Lokshen Kugel [Noodle Pudding]

Lokshen Kugel means "noodle pudding" in Yiddish. It originated in eastern Europe where the Jewish community spoke that language. This item falls into the category of "grandma's dishes."

Ingredients: 
8 ounces broad egg noodles
1 cup pot cheese
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
Directions: 
  1. Cook noodles as directed on the package; drain well.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients and half of the melted margarine.
  3. Place in a greased casserole and pour over the remaining melted margarine.
  4. Bake uncovered at 350° for 1 hour.

Shakshuka (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)

This dish is a Sephardi favorite. No Middle Eastern restaurant menu is complete without it, though Hungarians also delight in this dish with the addition of lots of paprika. Leshakshek means "to shake" in Hebrew. Every cook from North Africa has his or her own personal version of this egg and tomato dish. Whatever vegetable is used, it must be fresh, not canned.

Ingredients: 
1 large onion, finely chopped
oil for frying
6 medium tomatoes, grated on largest holes of a grater
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 
  1. In a large frying pan, sauté onion until lightly browned.
  2. Add tomatoes to the sautéed onions, cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove cover and break eggs over the surface. Stir gently to break yolks, cover and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes until eggs are set.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Variations: One minced garlic clove may be added to the onion, or 3 to 4 slices of red pimento may be sautéed with the onion.

Tarato (Yogurt Soup)

Tarato comes from Bulgaria. The Jews of Bulgaria, like those of Holland, Greece, Turkey, and Italy, are descended from Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century. This cold soup is particularly suitable for hot summer nights in Israel. Yogurt, the main ingredient, has been a popular food in Israel for many years.

Ingredients: 
3 cups plain yogurt
3 cups water
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 cucumbers, diced or cut into small pieces
Crushed nuts
Directions: 
  1. Mix all ingredients except nuts.
  2. Cool in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
  3. Sprinkle with nuts before serving.

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