New flicks with celebs in interfaith relationships and from interfaith backgrounds, plus their baby news!Go To Pop Culture
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
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. 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:
Ingredients for Icebox Cake:
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
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.