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All photos byÂ Laurel Street Kitchen
When my now-husband Bryan and I began talking about spending our lives together, we enrolled in Introduction to Judaism classes at a local a reform synagogue in San Francisco. Bryanâ€™s Jewish education had ended at 13 and I was not Jewish, so we both learned so much from those classes.
While I am grateful for the wonderfully welcoming community at our very reform temple, there were also some Jewish rituals I had only heard about and longed to participate in. I found Havdalah for example, the beautiful ritual that utilizes all five senses to mark the end of Shabbat, particularly enchanting.
Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to participate in a meaningful Havdalah ceremony in Jerusalem on a trip with Honeymoon Israel. When we returned, I decided to host a Shabbat walk and Havdalah ceremony at our home with our new Honeymoon Israel community. I found thisÂ InterfaithFamily guide to HavdalahÂ very useful! Since it was early in the evening, I decided to do a spread of small bites.
One new thing I loved learning about in Israel was the Seven Species, seven agricultural products listed in the Torah as being special products to the Land of Israel. Everywhere we went, we saw them featured on everything from challah covers to watercolor paintings. Inspired by this, I decided to create a 7 Species Cheese Spread for our gathering. You can play with the ingredients however you wish. Here are the ingredients and one easy recipe I created using store-bought hummus to create a gourmet platter even if you’re limited on time.
Seven Species Cheese Spread
Arrange cheeses on a cheeseboard or use cake stands for more height and drama. Place pita in a pretty basket or bowl lined with a napkin. Place smaller items like figs, dates and olives into small bowls on or around the cheese board. If your dates and olives are not pitted, be sure to add a small bowl on the side for pits. Right before guests arrive, drizzle a small amount of honey on the mild soft cheese (I recommend a brie). Be careful to only add a small drizzle so it doesnâ€™t drip off the platter! I used honeycomb here instead.
1. Heat oven to 300Â°F and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice each tomato in half lengthwise and place tomatoes, cut side up onto the baking sheets. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little olive oil and a sprinkle a bit of salt on them. Place them in the oven for 90 minutes, then set them aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.
2. Boil one-and-a-half cups of salted water. When the water comes to a boil, pour in the barley and turn the heat down to a simmer for 30 minutes. Check the barley at this time–it should have some chew to it but be springy and not too hard. It took me about 45 minutes. When the barley is done, rinse with cool water and set it aside to cool. I recommend doing this one to two days in advance.
3. Spread hummus with the back of a large spoon onto a large serving platter. Sprinkle the sumac over the hummus evenly, then barley, then tomatoes, then olives, then chives. Drizzle with olive oil, then sea salt and serve with fresh pita.
Since Sukkot menus are all about the autumn harvest, what could be more festive than starting off the meal with a comforting bowl of pumpkin soup? When I was growing up, one of my favorite recipes was my grandmother’s stewed Kabocha: a Japanese variety of pumpkin or squash. It wasn’t until I went off to college that I tried pumpkin for the first time in a dish, and I’ve always felt the flavor of Kabocha is far superior to the pumpkins we eat here in the U.S. It is sweeter and heartier than that of a regular pumpkin, and it has a fluffy texture similar to that of a potato, which makes it perfect for a purĂ©ed soup. The color is a deeper orange, making it more vibrant and festive, as well!
If you’re having a sit-down meal, you can serve it in bowls as a starter. If you’re throwing a casual happy hour under the sukkah like I am, you can keep it warm in a big thermos pot and pour individual servings in little paper cups with the garlic challah croutons, cream and chives sprinkled over the top. This is the time of year when the air is starting to get a bit crisper, so this soup is a great way to warm up under the sukkah. If you’re serving meat later and would like to keep things kosher, I recommend omitting the milk and cream and instead finishing the soup with a dollop of homemade cashew creamÂ under the croutons, which your guests can stir in.
Kabocha Squash Soup with Garlic Challah Croutons
1.Â Slice Kabocha in half and spoon out the seeds. Cut each half into three wedges. Turn each wedge onto the flat side and remove the green skin. Cut each wedge crosswise into four even squares (see image for what your Kabocha should look like at this point).
2.Â Melt butter in a dutch oven or pot, over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, slide in the sliced onion, curry powder and a sprinkling of salt. Stir the onion continuously for 10 minutes, or until caramelized. Slide Kabocha cubes into the pot, along with another sprinkling of salt and stir for five minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot for 10 minutes.
3.Â Using a fork, pierce Kabocha to check for doneness. It should be soft enough to pierce without resistance, but not so soft that it falls apart. If it’s not quite soft enough, stir, cover and cook for another five minutes.
4.Â When Kabocha is cooked through, blend in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) until completely smooth.
5.Â Stir in milk, then heavy whipping cream. Make sure to keep the heat very low and be careful to not let the soup boil at this point.
6.Â Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream, challah croutons and chives.
This is a recipe I came up with when, one Saturday morning, I decided I could not eat any more challah French toast!
1.Â Preheat the oven to 375ÂşF.
2.Â Grate garlic clove into olive oil, stir in herbs and salt. Be very careful to only include very small, microplane-d pieces of garlic. Larger pieces will get burnt and become bitter.
3.Â Cut challah into roughly 3/4″ x 3/4″ cubes. I recommend using a regular knife for a cleaner cut (as opposed to a serrated knife).
4.Â Place cubed challah onto a baking sheet and pour oil mixture over challah and mix well with your hands.
5.Â Spread challah out on baking sheet so it’s just one layer and the challah is not (or just barely) touching.
6.Â Bake for five minutes and check on it. It should be a nice and toasty golden color. If it’s not browning quite yet, bake for another 5 minutes and check on it again. It took me about 12 minutes to achieve this in my oven.
It’s probably a bit of a stretch to call these borekas because I originally introduced them to my readers as one of our favorite savory Turkish bites. And it’s not every day you think of sweet borekas. Truth be told, I am a savory lover at heart. But this once city girl, who now lives within minutes of farmlandâ€”driving by horses, cows, dairy farms and wild apple treesâ€”counts her blessings and happily picks blueberries at a nearby farm.
Whether weâ€™ll call them borekas or not, these little pastries are fast, easy and perfectly sweet for the Jewish New Year. And as a perfect finger food for a Yom Kippur break fast, I made blueberry and apple borekas with a sweet tahini honey glaze.
Another usual savory bite, tahini is an ingredient I use for just about everything: dressings, dips and spreads, and naturally donâ€™t see it used as a sweet ingredient. Tahini is mixed with a bit of honey and warm water and with a bit of elbow grease, turns into a beautiful pour-able consistency.
Wishing you a wonderful and sweet New Year and an easy fast! L’shana Tovah!
Blueberry and Apple Borekas with Honey Tahini
1. First make the filling. In a bowl, add together the cubed apples, blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Toss everything together and allow to sit while you prepare the puff pastry.
2.Â Unfold puff pastry on a floured surface and roll out a bit so the pastry is a bit thinner.
3. Then cut pastry sheet into nine even squares (18 total for both sheets) and add about a tablespoon of filling to each square.
4. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and then folding the dough together making a little pouch. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges and it’s OK if you stretch the dough a bit, the fruit will shrink as it bakes.
5. Brush more egg wash on top of the folded pastry and sprinkle with more sugar. Use a knife to cut little skits on the top.
6. Place borekas on lined baking sheet and bake at 325Â° for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling begins to ooze out and the pastry is golden brown.
7. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit while you make tahini glaze.
8. To make the tahini glaze, in a bowl add the tahini and honey and 1/4 cup warm water. Use a fork or whisk to whisk everything together until it is smooth and pour-able. As it sits, it will get firmer so you can add a bit more warm water and mix until desired consistency.
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals because every dish has a comfort food vibe. For Yom Kippur, I love preparing a “break fast” meal with some family favorites like noodle kugel and bagels and lox. We makeÂ dishes that are easy to digest and gentle on the stomach after a day of fasting. I also like to add in something new every year. Pumpkin spice craze is here to stay so I decided to take a classic monkey bread, which is also known as Hungarian coffee cake, and pumpkin spice it up! If you have any Hungarian roots in your family, this is a great time to add your heritage to the celebration of the Jewish New Year. This recipe uses pre-made biscuit dough for ease and speed, but you can also use your own scratch recipe.
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread with Apple Sauce Glaze
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a small loaf pan or 6-inch square baking dish.
2. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.
3. Melt the stick of butter and add in the maple syrup.
5. Place each ball into the baking dish until you have one layer of sugar and pumpkin spice coated balls of dough. If using a smallÂ loaf pan, you will have two layers of dough balls and will cook for longer.
6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the dough has risen and is a deep golden brown.
7.Â While the pumpkin spice monkey bread is baking, peel and grate both apples. Cook the apples in a covered saucepan until soft and fragrant.
8. Pour the apple sauce into a bowl and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in 1 cup of powdered sugar.
This version of vegetable hash can be served as a side dish or enjoyed as a full meal. The apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah represent a sweet new year whileÂ the flavors are French inspired with shallots and classic French herbs. For your seasoning, enjoy a taste of France with a classic herb mix such as herbes de Provence or use tarragon, which is often used in French cooking.
French Apple Root Vegetable Hash with Honey Drizzle
(serves 4 as a meal and 6 as a side dish)
1.Â Peel the potatoes and cut them into a small dice. Rinse the potatoes thoroughly and dry them on a clean kitchen towel.
2.Â Heat theÂ vegetable oil in a frying pan for a minute or two over medium high heat. Add in the potatoes and fry until golden brown. You will need to turn the potatoes with a spoon or spatula to cook on all sides.
3.Â While the potatoes are crisping, peel and dice the carrot and parsnip and chop the shallot finely. Once the potatoes are golden brown, remove them from the pan and set them aside on a plate. In the same pan, toss the shallots in the leftover oil and cook for a minute, then add the diced carrots and parsnips. Cook for two more minutes.
4.Â While the root vegetables cook, dice the red pepper. Peel and dice the apple. Note: I like to have the apple diced slightly larger than the root vegetables to highlight it. Toss the red pepper and apple in with the rest of the vegetables and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using dried herbs, sprinkle 1 tsp. of herbes de Provence in now. Add the potatoes back into the pan and stir it all together. Remove the hash to a serving dish. If you are using fresh herbs, mince them.
5.Â Top with a drizzle of honey and, if you are using fresh herbs, sprinkle them on top of the hash. You can use as much as a whole Tbsp. or less to taste. If you are serving this as a main course, I suggest adding some crumbled goat cheese or grated ComtĂ© cheese. For breakfast, you can top it with a fried egg.
By Molly Yeh
I enjoy being a Chinese Jew.Â I eat plenty of matzah balls and potstickers and I get to celebrate three New Years.
Iâ€™ve often had to convince people that Iâ€™m Jewish, which is amusing and usually results in a new friend feeling like they can connect with me better due to a shared religion. Other than that, I canâ€™t say I really thought about what it meant to Chinese and Jewish while I was growing up.
I recently movedÂ out to rural North Dakota with my Norwegian husband, population six Jews and about 10,000 Scandinavian descendants. Things are quiet here, people are Midwestern nice, and the small town life is pretty darn wonderful.
For the first time in my life, I feel a bit like an oddball, in a sea of light-haired Lutherans, but people embrace me when I introduce them toÂ challah. North Dakotans love challah! And I love their food too, like Lefse and dessert bars of all sorts.
All of my challah here is homemade. As are my latkes, kugel, matzah ballsâ€¦ you get the picture. Thereâ€™s not a deli in sight. Not even a bagel. I do miss bopping down to Zabarâ€™s for babka and bagels, but on the other hand, with the necessity to make everything from scratch comes the opportunity to put my own spin on things and mash up my Chinese/Jewish/Midwesternness.
Brisket in my potstickers, ginger sugar beet latkes, egg rolls with home cured pastrami from a cow that Iâ€™ll one day raiseâ€¦
Iâ€™m getting carried away.
But this recipe is me in bread form! Chinese, Jewish and pretty doughy, whether I can help it or not. Inspired by the scallion pancake, here is an Asian twist on my all-time favorite challah.
Scallion Pancake Challah
Makes one large loaf
Basic challah dough
Based on Food 52â€™s Recipe
Filling and Topping
1. Â In a small bowl, proof yeast in 1/2 cup warm water mixed with 1 tsp. of sugar.
2. While yeast is proofing, mix flour, salt, and remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup of water, honey, oil and eggs.
4. Once yeast has finished proofing, add it to the flour, followed by the wet ingredients. Mix with a large wooden spoon until dough becomes too thick to stir. Empty dough onto well-floured surface and knead by hand. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.
5. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for about two hours, or until doubled in size.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Divide dough into three equal parts and then roll each part into a 1-foot log. Gently flatten each log so that it is about 3 inches wide.
8. Brush each with toasted sesame oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili flakes, and scallions. Roll them up lengthwise like a jellyroll, and then braid.
9. Place the loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and black pepper.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the challah is cooked through.
This recipe contains alcohol and is for those of legal drinking age only.
Introduce your loved ones to good ol’ fashioned Manischewitz, and reinvent the Jewish holiday staple into the dessert it was always meant to be. This way, you can avoid getting any looks that say “You drink this stuff?” or, “Is this what all Jewish wine is like?” Your loved ones will instead wonder why you’ve been hiding this Manischewitz stuff from them all this time. L’chaim! Cheers!
1 cup sweet kosher wine
1 1/2 cups pear nectar
2-inch piece of ginger
1 lime, zested
1 Tbsp. sugar
1. Slice ginger, add to pot with pear nectar and heat on stove, reducing to 1 cup (25 minutes)
2. Strain out the ginger pieces and add the wine to the juice. Pour mixture into a glass baking dish and freeze for one hour.
3. Remove from freezer and using a fork, scrape the slush off the bottom of the dish. Repeat one to two times, freezing for 30 minute increments.
4. Once it’s frozen to desired slushiness, zest your lime and mix it with the sugar. Scoop out your slushie and top with lime sugar.
Aside from the smell of tuna fish, nothing can reallyÂ transport me to a New York Jewish deli like a black and white cookie. Just the mere sight of of the cookieÂ transports me to a Shabbat luncheon in which I’m elbow-ing the person to the left and right of me (and sometimes behind me) in an attempt to get my hands on the last black and white cookie.
If you’ve ever been to a Yom Kippur break-the-fast or a Shabbat kiddush lunch, you KNOW what I’m talking about. The dessert table is the first table everyone goes for and most certainly, if there is a black and white cookie to be had, it’s the first cookie taken. (Fun fact: Did you know that the black and white cookie isn’t actually a cookie? It’s considered a drop cake. Whatever it is, it’s delicious.) Though folklore tells us that it was quite possibly notÂ inventedÂ inÂ NYC, but actually upstate in Ithaca, it’s still been whollyÂ embraced by deli culture.
For me, the black and white cookie represents one of the greatest parts about being Jewishâ€”that Jewish food can be loved and accepted by all, regardless of Jewish affiliation and/or observance level. And while there’s nothing especially “Jewish” about the black and white cookie, one can’t help but think of Jewish culture when eating it (just like brisket or kugel, in my opinion). And so, in this age of increased aggression and polarization toward the other, shouldn’t we all take Jerry Seinfeld’s lead and “look to the cook” … or in this case, the popsicle?!Â This recipe takes inspiration from a black and white cookie andÂ transforms it with a fun summery twist to create a delicious creamsicle.
Black + White Creamsicle
Ingredients for the chocolate layer:
Directions for chocolate layer:
1. Combine the sugar, espresso, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in just enough of the milk to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining whipping cream.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring with the whiskâ€”constantly scraping the bottom, sides and corners of the potâ€”until the mixture begins to bubble a little at the edges. Continue whisking and cooking for two more minutes.
3. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla and scrape the mixture into a glass or siliconeÂ pitcher (for immediate filling) or into the bowl to cool. Next, fill your popsicle molds halfway with your chocolate mixture and freeze for at least six hours.
Next, make your vanilla side.
Ingredients for vanilla layer:
Directions for vanilla layer:
1.Â In a bowl, stir together the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the sour cream, milk, cream and vanilla.
2. Take your chocolateÂ popsicles out of the freezer and fill the remaining half with your vanilla side. If your mold has a cover with openings for sticks, cover and insert sticks. Otherwise, freeze until the mixture is thick enough to hold a stick upright and then insert sticks. Freeze until hard, about 4 hours if the mixture was cool, 6 or more hours if hot.
3. Line a tray with wax paper. Fill a container with warm water deep enough to dip the full height of your molds. Dip the mold long enough to release theÂ popsicles when you pull on the stick. Remove and set popsicles on wax paper. Wrap each in a piece of wax paper and/or put them in a resealable plastic freezer bag and return them to the freezer until serving.
Click here for a fun non-dairy popsicle recipe from Whitney!
Summers are hot, days are long and you want your time in the kitchen to be short. Whether you have a roasted chicken left over from Friday night Shabbat dinner or you pop into the grocery store after an afternoon at the pool and pick up a rotisserie chicken, this recipe will have you craving more. It’s also a nice way to combine the leftovers from a classic Shabbat chicken dinner with some Indian flavor. I find on hot summer days we eat less meat so making something with the leftovers is key. You can set aside some of the mixture before adding the curry powder if anyone likes a milder flavor. Enjoy on a weekend picnic or at the beach!
1. You can use whatever chicken is leftover and thenÂ adjust how much of each additional ingredient you have. You will want about two cups of chicken. I remove the skin and chop the chicken breast into cubes. I will then do the same with the wing and thigh meat.
2. If you have a cherry pitter, pit the cherries and then slice them in quarters. If not, you can just slice the cherries around the pit into quarters. I cut just to one side of the pit then pop the pit out and slice the cherry.
3.Â For green garlic, trim the end by the bulb and then slice the garlic thinly up toÂ the green grassy part. For scallions, you can cut all the way up through the greens. I tend to use a little less if I am doing the green garlic as it is more potent than the scallions. Thoroughly wash the cilantro as it can be gritty. Then, chop up the leaves and stems.
4. Toss the mayonnaise with the chicken. I like to use just a thin coating of mayonnaise, but feel free to add more if you like your chicken salad creamy. Then, add in the scallions and chopped cherries. Sprinkle in a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper.
5.Â For those who don’t like curry, you can take out a portion of the chicken salad now. With the remaining chicken salad, toss in theÂ curry powder (adjust to 1/2 Tbsp.Â if you took out a lot of the chicken salad to leave plain).
6.Â Serve on lettuce cups, endive cups or radicchio cups if you want a light, gluten-free lunch or dinner. Serve it with bread for a hearty sandwich.
By Mari Levine
I like to call Shavuot the â€śNo meat? No problem!â€ť holiday. When brainstorming a recipe for this post, I learned a lot about the history of this holiday, particularly why we focus on dairy dishes instead of meat. Or, more to the point: Whatâ€™s with all the blintzes?
What I learned is that Jews are resourceful when theyâ€™re hungry. So when we were given the Torah on that fateful Shabbat atop Mount Sinai and instructed to start eating kosher, we didnâ€™t wait until we were allowed to â€śkasherâ€ť our meat and cooking utensils. Instead, we decided to make our first kosher meal a dairy one, using the milk weâ€™d set aside for the animals.
Iâ€™m always looking for more opportunities to eat dairy desserts like cheesecake and ice cream, and acknowledging the origin of our religionâ€™s dietary laws is as good a reason as any. Key lime bars are one of my favorite dairy desserts because of their bracing, bright flavor and smooth filling, layered to make a tidy, portable cheesecake. These little squares are so good youâ€™ll want to shout it from the rooftopâ€”or mountaintop, as the case may be.
Key Lime Bars
Makes about 16
1. FOR THE CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.
2. Combine graham crackers, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine until graham cracker crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to prepared baking pan and press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until deeper in color and dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
3. FOR THE FILLING: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, zest, condensed milk, and yolk. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add lime juice and stir until well combined.
4. Pour filling into crust and use spatula to spread into even layer that reaches to corners of pan. Bake until filling is just set, rotating pan halfway through, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on wire rack, then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
5. Remove from pan, cut into squares, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com.Â
Mari Levine is a freelance food writer and an editor for Americaâ€™s Test Kitchen, where she combines her journalism and culinary degrees from Brandeis University and Johnson & Wales, respectively, with her restaurant and lifelong eating experience. When sheâ€™s not working hoisin sauce into everything she eats or binging on anything sandwiched between two slices of bread, she can be found on her bike, engrossed in a documentary, or playing sports that involve throwing and/or catching a ball (the latest: flag football).