Full of helpful advice for families starting to think about their child's bat or bar mitzvah, Bar & Bat Mitzvah For The Interfaith Family will be a helpful primer to all families (not just interfaith!).
This colorful booklet will give all the basics about this holiday which combines elements of Halloween, Mardi Gras and the secular new year. It is a holiday not only for children who know immediately that anything with a costume will be fun, but for adults too.
Connecting Interfaith Families to Jewish Life in Greater Cleveland by providing programs and opportunities for interfaith families to experience Judaism in a variety of venues, meet other interfaith families, and to connect to other Jewish organizations that may serve their needs.
This is an interactive, fun, and low-key workshop for couples who are dating, engaged or recently married. The sessions will give you a chance to ask questions about faith, to think about where you are as an adult with your own spirituality and to talk through what's important to you and your partner.
A great way for Jewish professionals and volunteers who work with and provide programming for people in interfaith relationships to locate resources and trainings to build more welcome into their Jewish communities; connect with and learn from each other; and publicize and enhance their programs and services.
Team! It’s getting down to the wire! That’s right . . . Passover is right around the corner. My local kosher grocer has put up the outside tent and is changing all the labels on their shelves and covering up the non-kosher-for-Passover stuff like it’s some sort of eye sore. As the first night seder approaches, I’m already starting the process of cleaning out my cabinets of pasta and other delicious goodies that are a “no-no” during Passover.
I’m constantly in search of a quick, yet delicious dinner to serve on a busy weeknight PLUS I need to get rid of my pasta, so I decided to try my hand at a skillet pasta dish and I’m SO glad I did! The recipe below can be adapted to add anything you like—I used frozen veggies to help clean out the freezer and half boxes of pasta to help clean out my cupboard. What I love about this dish is that it offers a cheesy, delicious meal, plus it helps clean my house, so…win-win!
Fridge-Clean-Out Skillet Pasta
2 cups uncooked penne or corkscrew pasta
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 cup frozen sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 jar favorite marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. Maldon salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1.Preheat oven to 425° F. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, add entire box pasta plus the frozen broccoli and mushrooms. Cook together until pasta is just shy of al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package cooking time. Drain, then transfer pasta and veggies to a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 of the sauce to the pasta and veggies. Set aside.
2. Add olive oil to an ovenproof skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Once smoking, add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet. Stir to combine pasta and veggies with the onions and garlic. Using a spatula, flatten the pasta so it lays evenly. Add the rest of the sauce to the pasta and evenly top with the cheese. Place skillet in the upper third of the oven. Cook until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 8 – 10 minutes.
I know the obvious connection between Jews and St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef. But that seemed like the safe choice for this week’s post, and I was feeling adventurous. I was also feeling like drinking beer.
So when I googled “Jewish recipes for St. Patrick’s Day,” I wasn’t expecting much besides the aforementioned corned beef recipes and maybe some random tips on how to incorporate green food coloring into traditional Jewish dishes. But the luck of the Irish was with me. In the middle of my search—as if sent from a leprechaun himself—a dear friend sent me an email with the subject line, “Jewish take on St. Patty’s.” She had sent me a link to a recent post on a blog called She Makes and Bakes, in which the blogger had introduced her recipe for Guinness challah. Um, genius.
I love cooking with beer. (I’ve made this beer ice cream recipe several times and it’s always a huge hit.) But I’d never tried baking with it—and I’m not a confident baker to begin with. So for my version, I decided to use a trusted recipe as the base—Claudia Roden’s challah recipe from “The Book of Jewish Food”—and work Guinness into it as part of the liquid in which you dissolve the yeast.
This worked really nicely. The challah has no hint of booziness (I might use all beer next time instead of cutting it with water, or even reduce it to concentrate its flavors), but the Guinness certainly lends the challah a pronounced sweetness.
And if you’re worried about people missing the St. Patrick’s Day connection to challah, there’s always green food coloring.
Inspired by She Makes and Bakes and Claudia Roden’s challah recipe in “The Book of Jewish Food”
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups lukewarm water
1¼ cups Guinness
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. salt
9¼ cups flour
Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
1. In medium bowl, stir together water and Guinness. Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar in water-beer mixture and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a large bowl and two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Using a kitchen spoon or stand mixer, beat 4 of the eggs in another large bowl, then beat in salt, remaining sugar, and ½ cup oil. Add yeast mixture and beat until well combined. Gradually add flour, mixing until dough is stiff.
3. Using dough hook or your hands, knead dough until smooth, about 15 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to prepared bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm spot, to let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.
4. Turn dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, divide into 12 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball. Set dough balls aside about 2 inches apart, cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 10 minutes. Then roll dough balls into 12-inch long ropes.
5. To make the six-strand braided loaves, line up six of the ropes lengthwise on each large baking sheet, or, to make the three-strand braided loaves, line up three of the ropes lengthwise on each medium baking sheet. Position baking sheets perpendicular to you. Join ends of ropes at top of baking sheet and pinch together. Braid each loaf, join ends of rope at bottom of baking sheet, pinch together, and tuck ends under on both ends of loaves. Loosely cover loaves with damp kitchen towels or plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack in middle position.
6. Beat the remaining egg and 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Brush tops of loaves with some of the egg wash, sprinkle with poppy and sesame seeds (if using), then bake until loaves are deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped, 45-60 minutes. Set loaves aside on rack to cool.
Stuffed breads, like dumplings, exist across many cultures. There are the babkas; the Kurdish Jewish stuffed bread known as kadeh; there are Polish kolaches; and Indian parathas. This year, instead of the usual Haman’s hat (Hamantaschen) for Purim, I wanted to try making Queen Esther’s crown. The pastry ring is supposed to look like a queen’s crown and with the inspiration of Indian parathas, this one is stuffed with a samosa-like filling. I hope those of you with Jewish and Indian influences in your home will especially enjoy this recipe!
Queen Esther’s Crown Stuffed Bread
3/4 cup of water
1 1/2 cup of peas
2 cups diced potatoes
(8 new potatoes or 2 large)
1/2 cup onion
1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. mustard seed
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. garam masala
1/8 tsp. fresh ginger
1/4 cup of chopped dried apricot
1 pre-made uncooked pizza dough
1. Remove pizza dough from the fridge to let it come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. Peel the potatoes and the carrots and dice them into pea-sized cubes.
3. Add 3/4 cup of water into a small pot with a lid. Heat the water to just before a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add in the diced carrots, diced potatoes and peas. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft and cooked through but not mushy, take them out of the pan. The water may or may not be completely absorbed.
4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seed and cook until you start to hear a popping sound. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Then, add the steamed vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes. Add all the spices: salt, mustard seed, turmeric, garam masala and fresh ginger. Stir to combine.
5. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside in a bowl to cool. With scissors or a knife, cut the dried apricots into little ¼-inch strips and add them to the vegetables.
6. Prepare a pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
7. Grease your hands with a little oil and stretch out your pizza dough into a long thin rectangle. I like to hold the dough up high and let gravity help me stretch it. Keep turning the dough so that you get an even stretch.
8. Put the edges together and make a wide crown of dough. It may seem impossible, but stick with it and keep tweaking it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round and you can adjust it later.
9. Spoon the filling onto the dough, leaving a small seam at the center of the circle and a larger space on the outer part of the circle. Pull the outside of the crown over the filling and pinch the dough together in the inner circle.
10. Brush the crown with a beaten egg. Cook for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
11. Serve slices with a spoonful of cool, creamy plain yogurt.
Purim is one of the most accessible Jewish holidays to celebrate. Like Halloween, a big part of it is dressing up and being silly. (All-night reading of The Scroll of Esther and lots of drinking are the other parts.) Unlike Halloween, there’s a beautiful part of Purim that involves the giving of gifts to friends and tzedakah (charity) to the poor. If you’re just dipping your toes in the holiday for the first time, a great way to celebrate is with delicious food. Hamentaschen, symbolizing Haman’s hat, from the story of Purim (which has an interfaith story line), are cookies traditionally made with jam or poppy seed filling, but who doesn’t love chocolate?
I was inspired to do a hamantaschen based on my favorite Girl Scout cookie, the Thin Mint. It focuses on that sweet, decadent chocolate and the mint is brought in via a subtle peppermint glaze. And, if peppermint isn’t your thing, just leave it out and you have yourself a delicious chocolate hamantaschen that will please all your friends and family and maybe just introduce the holiday of Purim to a newcomer.
Makes 2 dozen (give or take a couple)
1 cup oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. baking powder
6 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon strong coffee
1/4 – 1/2 cup large chocolate chips (semi sweet or milk will work. I used milk chocolate)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint oil
3 tablespoons milk
1. Preheat Oven: 350°F
2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla.
3. Next, add baking powder and flour to the bowl and mix well to combine. Finally, add the cocoa and strong coffee and give it one more good stir (dough should be thick, almost like bread dough).
4. Knead the dough until smooth.
5. Flour a rolling pin and roll out to roughly 1/8 inch thin on a floured board.
6. Using a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass with a wide opening, cut out circles (use the scraps to make cookies as well, just keep forming into a large ball and rolling out thin and repeat process until dough is done).
7. Drop a handful of chocolate chips (should be roughly 10 chips or more) into the center of each circle.
8. Have a glass or small bowl of a little bit of cold water near by so that you can dip your fingers in to help fold the dough into three sides over the filling forming a triangle (water acts as a glue to the dough and will help edges stick).
9. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes on a lined cookie sheet.
10. Once fully cooked, let cool for at least 5 – 10 minutes. While cooling, place the powdered sugar, peppermint oil and milk into a small bowl and stir until milky consistency.
11. Once the cookies are cool, brush the sugar/oil mixture over the tops.
Valentine’s Day. How does this fit into a Jewish or interfaith home? Technically, yes, Valentine’s Day is named for a saint. It was first instituted by Pope Gelasius I in 496 C.E. to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. Yet scholars know almost nothing about this St. Valentine. There is an abundant amount of literature on St. Valentine but most of it is not historical but based on legend. And, truth be told, Valentine’s Day is not a “religious” holiday. The association of a saint does not necessary make it so. I’m sure some might take issues with the previous sentences but to my estimation, Valentine’s Day is an American “holiday” and perfect for families that celebrate Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.
My kids go to private Jewish preschool. They haven’t come in contact yet with Valentine’s Day. But, our oldest will be headed to public Kindergarten next year and we can almost guarantee that we will be met with Valentines. And I ask you? What’s not “Jewish” about showing your like and care with the giving of sweet cards and yummy treats? But, if you’re like me and you’re still struggling with the concept of bringing Valentine’s Day into your home, then why not make it a little more Jewish with the inclusion of seemingly “Jewish” foods like, I don’t know, tahini!
Therefore, I bring you a simple and delicious tahini and vanilla ice box cake. I love ice box cakes. They’re great for impressing your family and friends while not having to actually cook anything. I mean, what says, “I love you” more than frozen tahini in the shape of hearts set in a pink ice cream cake!?
Tahini Vanilla Icebox Cake
Ingredients for Halva:
2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups tahini, well stirred to combine
Ingredients for Icebox Cake:
2pints vanilla ice cream
2 teaspoons of natural red gel food coloring or 4 1/2 teaspoons red liquid food coloring (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
(optional) 1 cup rainbow sprinkles
Directions for Halva Hearts:
1. Heat honey on medium heat until your candy or instant-read thermometer reads 240˚ F, or indicates the “soft ball” stage of candy making. To confirm that you are at the “soft ball” stage, drop a bit of the honey into a cup of cold water. It should form a sticky and soft ball that flattens when removed from the water.
2. Have the tahini ready to heat in a separate small pot, and once the honey is at the appropriate temperature, set the honey aside and heat tahini to 120˚ F.
3. Add the warmed tahini to the honey and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. At first it will look separated but after a few minutes, the mixture will come together smoothly.
4. Continue to mix until the mixture starts to stiffen, for a good 6-8 minutes. Pour mixture into a well-greased and parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 deep-set baking sheet or loaf pan (it MUST have at least 1 inch sides on the pan you use as it’ll keep the tahini within the pan), or into a greased and parchment paper-lined cake pan with a removable bottom.
5. Let cool to room temperature and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. This will allow the sugar crystals to form, which will give the halvah its distinctive texture.
6. Once done, cut out at least 8 – 10 hearts using a sharp, metal cookie cutter.
Directions for Vanilla Ice Box Cake:
1. In a chilled bowl combine vanilla ice cream and food coloring. Cover and freeze for 1 hour or until mixture is spreadable.
2. Line a 9-inch Pullman or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with two sheets of plastic wrap, enough to cover the bottom and sides, allowing plastic wrap to extend over sides of pan. Spread half of the vanilla ice cream evenly in the bottom of the pan.
3. Place the tahini stars down the center of the ice cream pressing down so that the bottom points of the stars are completely submerged in the pink ice cream and the tops are just visible, and placing stars so that they are touching. Freeze for 1 hour.
4. Spread the rest of the pink vanilla ice cream in an even layer over the stars to cover. Cover the top of the cake with heaps of rainbow sprinkles. Freeze for 24 hours or until very firm.
5. Use the plastic wrap to lift mixture from pan. Transfer to a serving plate and cut about an inch into the cake to reveal the first heart. Enjoy!
Valentine’s day is fast approaching, but we believe in celebrating big love, little love, silly love, happy love, sad love and family love any day of the week. In our diverse Jewish, multi-faith community, it’s important to show our love for one another, and take advantage of opportunities to spread kindness. This quick and easy chocolate and strawberry nacho recipe is perfect for whenever love strikes.
“Not Your Average Love” Nachos
2 cups of frozen strawberries
zest from 1/4 lime
4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
3-4 handfuls of Churro style nacho chips (cinnamon sugar corn chips) or Cinnamon Sugar Pita chips
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 3.5 oz tablet of dark chocolate
1. Over medium low heat, heat two cups of frozen strawberries in a small saucepan. Add the zest from 1/4 of the lime and 2 Tbsp. of sugar to the saucepan and cook with the lid off. Once the strawberries have started to release their juices and are completely thawed and soft, take the pan off the heat and let it cool slightly.
2. Once cooled, put the strawberry mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Be careful when blending because if the mixture is still warm the steam may create pressure and pop the lid off the blender.
3. Pour the strawberry mixture into a cute bowl and then prepare the chocolate drizzle. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup of cream and 1 Tbsp. of butter and heat over medium low until the butter has completely melted. Add 2 Tbsp. of sugar to the cream and butter mixture. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the pot off the heat.
4. Break the chocolate into squares and let them dissolve in the hot cream.
5. Spread the cinnamon sugar chips over a platter or plate and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Put the extra chocolate sauce in another cute bowl to serve on the side.
6. Dip a chocolate drizzled chip into the strawberry salsa and feed it to someone you love.
In the winter there is something so comforting about a classic Shabbat roasted chicken. Often though, the meal can feel heavy with chicken at the center of heavy starch and vegetable sides. This Rice Noodle Bowl takes either freshly roasted chicken breasts, or some of your leftover roasted chicken and creates a nice, light, customizable meal in a bowl. It’s comfort food with out the gooey heavy cheesiness of, say, mac ‘n’ cheese or chili.
The long noodles also make this a perfect dish to cook for couples and families celebrating Chinese New Year, which just happens to fall on Shabbat this year (January 28 to be exact). Just as we eat honey and apples for a sweet Jewish new year, Chinese tradition is to eat long noodles. It is one of the “lucky foods” meant to represent a long life.
Choose what you like to add into your rice bowl. You can make it with tofu to keep it vegetarian or salmon if you want fish. You can also add some fresh grated ginger or cilantro for extra flavors.
Rice Noodle Bowls with Vegetables and Chicken (Serves 2)
1 Rotisserie chicken or 2 skin-on boneless chicken breasts
1/2 pint of mushrooms of your choice (I used Beech Mushrooms)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed oil is best)
You will have leftover shallot oil that can be used in other recipes
6 heads of baby bok choy
1 bouillon cube with water or chicken stock (for 1 cup of stock)
1/2 package of rice noodles (two nests)
1. If you are using a rotisserie chicken, you will just slice 4 slices of the chicken breast and set it aside on a plate. If you are roasting a chicken breast, use this method from Ina Garten; it is simple and tasty.
2. Pour vegetable oil into a small saucepan and heat it over low. While the oil heats, slice the shallots as thinly as possible. Have a fork or slotted spoon on hand and put a layer of paper towels on a small plate.Turn the oil up to medium heat. Once the oil ripples, you should be able to toss in a piece of shallot and see if it sizzles instantly. Then it is hot enough. If it burns, take the oil off the heat to cool and remove the burnt shallot. Cook the shallots in the hot oil for 10-20 minutes until crispy. Remove the shallots with a fork or slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. Set the oil aside to cool.
3. Wash and slice the scallions using both the white and green parts of the scallion about halfway up the greens. Peel the carrot and slice it into thin matchsticks.
4. Prepare the rice noodles as directed by the package. Typically, the noodles soak in boiling water for about 10 minutes and then rinse in cold water.
5. Pour the shallot oil into a jar. The leftover oil is great for salad dressings and seasoning. You will not use the entire 1/4 cup.
6. If you are just using a few mushrooms you can sauté them in the oil left behind in the pan. If you are using a lot of mushrooms, use a larger sauté pan and pour in a teaspoon of the shallot oil. You do not want to crowd the mushrooms or they will steam instead of sauté. Clean and slice the mushrooms if they are not pre-sliced. Smaller mushrooms can be left whole.
7. In a small saucepan, cover the egg with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer for 3 minutes. While the egg is simmering prepare a bowl with ice water. After 3 minutes, dunk the egg in the ice water and let it cool. Once cool, carefully peel the egg.
8. Empty the water out of the egg saucepan and add in your stock or water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then let simmer. Wash and slice the baby bok choy into halves or quarters depending on how big they are.
9. Now you can assemble your rice noodle bowls. On a plate or individual bowls you will put your slices of scallion, crispy shallots, carrots and sautéed mushrooms. Toss the rinsed rice noodles in the leftover oil from the pan that you used to sautée the mushrooms. Just before serving, cook the bok choy in the chicken stock for a few minutes and then heat up the slices of chicken in the chicken stock as well. This will only take a few minutes each.
9. Divide the noodles into two bowls. Slice the egg and put half in each bowl. Allow people to add the toppings they like to the dish and then drizzle with a little additional shallot oil. Stir it all together and enjoy.
Some years Hanukkah and Christmas overlap—not only do they overlap this year, but the first night of Hanukkah falls on Christmas Eve! To have a little fun with this intersection of holidays, I made two non-traditional versions of a classic Hanukkah mainstay: latkes. Red and green latkes, to be precise. The red latkes are made from beets and the green latkes are made from broccoli. Italian cooks like to add a little Parmesan to their frittelle di broccoli (broccoli fritters). I left mine plain with just a little ricotta, but feel free to add some Parmesan for an Italian flair.
The beet latkes are like the “rich man’s latkes” from my mother’s cookbook since they don’t have anything added like flour to make them heartier. They’re more delicate than the broccoli latkes and are almost lacy when cooked. The broccoli has more moisture, so I added extra flour and some ricotta to make them a bit fluffier.
Latkes Two Ways
2 small or 1 large onion
2 cups fresh broccoli
2 Tbsp. flour
¼ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp. vegetable or grapeseed oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Sour cream, optional
Apple sauce, optional
1. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and salt to blanch the broccoli. Trim the stalk of the broccoli by cutting off the rough end and peeling the rest. Then slice the broccoli into large “trees.” Add the broccoli to the boiling water for 2 minutes. While it blanches, prepare a bowl of ice and water to shock the broccoli after removing from pot. Drain and set aside to cool.
2. Grate the onions and squeeze them in a kitchen towel to get as much of the onion juice out as possible. Discard juice.
3. Peel and grate the beets on the large-grate side of a box grater. Squeeze them in a paper towel (unless you don’t mind staining a cloth towel) and discard the juice.
4. Mix the grated beets, 2 eggs and half of the grated onions in a bowl. Season with ½ tsp. salt and about ¼ tsp. pepper. Set aside.
5. Cut the broccoli stalks down all the way to the very top of the florets so you have tiny florets and stalks. Break the florets up into a bowl (like crumbling feta cheese with your fingers). Grate the stalks on the box grater and add them to the florets.
7. Mix in flour, ricotta, one egg, the rest of the grated onion and the remaining ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Set aside.
8. In a hot frying pan, add 2 Tbsp.vegetable or grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. Take a spoonful of the beet mixture (it will be very delicate), squeeze it slightly and lay it into the pan to fry. Don’t move the beet latkes when placed in the pan until they begin to brown a little around the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Once they begin to darken (if you’re not sure, you can peek underneath after a few minutes), flip and cook on the other side 3-5 minutes.
9. While the beet latkes are frying, prepare a plate with paper towels to drain the latkes. Once you’ve fried all the beet latkes, use a paper towel to carefully wipe out the oil (turn off the heat). Then add remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and fry the broccoli latkes, following the same method.
Christmas and the first night of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year. Growing up the child of a divorced, interreligious family, this would have blown my mind even more than it does as an adult. While I was raised primarily in my Jewish mother’s home, my brother and I spent every Christmas with my dad, stepmother and half-sister, and we loved it. I mean, loved it. Sure, the extra presents were nice (very nice), but the experience of both holidays was nothing short of warmth.
Now, at 36, as I think back to having to shuffle between houses for holidays, I feel nothing but warmth. I loved lighting the menorah and the smell of the match as it lit a fresh batch of Hanukkah candles. I equally loved the smell of eggnog and the sound of Nat King Cole’s classic Christmas record as I helped my dad and family decorate the tree. I never once felt I was compromising my enriched and grounded Jewish identity as I played along with my dad and stepmom in pretending, for the sake of my beloved half-sister, that Santa and his reindeer were, in fact, on the roof trying to figure out how to get down the chimney.
Somehow, my family figured out how to give my brother and me a safe and inviting interreligious experience growing up and never asked us to choose. It was our normal, and it was perfect. I hope this recipe helps you bring some of that warmth into your home.
For the doughnuts:
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar, plus ½ cup extra for coating
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
¼ cup plus 2 tsp. warm water
4.5 Tbsp. room-temperature butter
4 cups neutral oil for frying (like canola)
For the filling:
½ cup cream
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. allspice
¼ Tbsp. nutmeg
¼ Tbsp. ground cloves
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1. Place all doughnut ingredients, except the butter, into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Work on a low speed for about 4 minutes, or until well-combined and elastic.
2. With the mixer still running, add the butter piece by piece, until it’s all worked in and incorporated. There should be no visible pieces. This will take about 5-8 minutes.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Place the cream, milk, vanilla and gingerbread-spice mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.
6. Pour the mixture back into the pan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until it boils and becomes very thick, about 1-2 minutes. Once the mixture is the consistency of soft butter, scrape it out into a bowl, cover and set aside to cool completely.
7. When the dough has risen, punch it down and scrape it out onto a well-floured surface. Make sure your hands are properly floured and pat the dough into a rectangle, about ½-inch thick, and cut out nine doughnuts using a well-floured 2.5-inch round biscuit cutter or large glass. Place the doughnuts on a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 45 minutes, or until puffy.
8. When the doughnuts are finished their second rise, place about 2 inches of oil into a high-sided pan (or use a deep fryer) and heat over a low flame, until it reaches 350 degrees (or until a small piece of dough dropped in the oil bubbles and rises to the surface).
9. Fry the doughnuts a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan) for about 1 minute each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
10. Drain on paper towels and toss in the ½ cup sugar.
11. To fill the doughnuts, I use a flavor injector, like you would use for a turkey. I find this the easiest way to get the cream in. Alternatively, you can place the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch nozzle. Press the piping bag into the side of each doughnut and squeeze until you can feel the weight of the doughnut increase slightly.
There are two stories associated with Hanukkah: One tells how the vial of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted for eight, and the other is the story of Judith and how she saved her town from annihilation at the hands of General Holefernes by getting him drunk on salty cheese and wine until he passed out and was killed. The latter story is not often told in Hebrew school (for good reason!), but the holiday’s culinary tradition of eating foods prepared with cheese is widespread throughout Mediterranean Jewish communities.
Doughnuts, or sufganiot as they are called in Israel, are a Sephardi treat. Ponchiki, however, are traditionally made in Poland and Eastern Europe, the area where Ashkenazi Jews came from. So this recipe not only combines two culinary traditions and two cultural areas of Judaism, it also fulfills the holiday traditions of consuming fried foods and cheese.
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a one-quart bowl. Set aside.
2. Whisk the egg in a two-quart bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to whisk until foamy and well combined.
3. Add the cheese and whisk vigorously to break it down into small particles, thoroughly combining it with the egg mixture.
4. Add the flour mixture and stir with the whisk or a spatula until no particles of flour are visible.
5. Heat the oil in a small, deep fryer or in a two-quart saucepan to a temperature of 375ºF. If necessary, add enough oil to come to a depth of about two inches. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you’ll know the oil is ready when a little bit of dough rolls in the oil and begins to brown.
6. Using a small spring ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon and rubber spatula, scoop up some dough and drop it into the hot oil. Don’t fry more than six balls at a time so the oil temperature remains constant. Turn doughnut holes over, if necessary, to brown on all sides. Doughnuts will be done after about three minutes. If holes are browning too fast, lower the heat slightly.
7. Crumple paper towels on a plate to drain the holes of excess oil. While still warm, toss them in confectioner’s sugar or in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
They are best eaten warm but will stay crisp for a few hours.
Homemade Farmer’s Cheese
Makes about two to three cups.
½ gallon whole or 2 percent milk
1 quart buttermilk
½ tsp. salt
1. Bring milk and buttermilk to a simmer. Add the salt and continue to cook until the ingredients separate into curds and whey.
2. Scoop up the cheese with a skimmer or small strainer and place in a large double-mesh strainer or colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. Let the cheese sit so any excess moisture can drip out, then bring the edges of the cloth together and twist them to force out any leftover moisture.
3. Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use in a recipe, or eat with jam on toast.