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 booklet explains the history of Hanukkah, the symbolism and significance of lighting candles for eight nights, the blessings that accompany the lighting of the candles, the holiday's foods, the game of dreidels, and more!
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.
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.
My last salad took us all the way to Israel, but this summer salad with a twist takes us to the American Midwest and the birthplace of ranch salad dressing. Nebraska is where America’s favorite dressing made its début. Meanwhile in the Northeast, this time of year, Maine is overflowing with blueberries. This salad features blueberries as a sweet burst in the salad mix itself and a purée of blueberries in the ranch dressing.
Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch
Blueberry Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup of mayo
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of blueberries (buy a pint because you’ll use more in the salad)
2 tsp. of dried dill
10 chives minced
1/4 cup of minced parsley, about 1/2 a bunch of flat leaf parsley
up to 1/4 cup of milk
Summer Blueberry Salad
5 oz. of greens (1/2 arugula and 1/2 baby spinach or baby kale or other greens)
1 1/4 cups of walnuts, toasted
1/4 of a red onion thinly sliced
1/2 pint of blueberries
1. Wash your pint of blueberries. In a small pot add 1/4 cup of blueberries. Put the lid on the pot and cook on low until the juices begin to bubble a little. Squash the blueberries with a fork as they are cooking. Let the blueberries cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat. Put the purée into a small bowl and let it cool. Chill in the refrigerator while you continue preparing the salad.
2. Wash the greens and add them to a serving bowl.
3. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast 1 1/4 cups of walnuts. Once the walnuts become fragrant you will need to watch them closely so they do not burn. Shake the pan to move and turn the walnuts a little. Set the nuts aside to cool.
4. Peel and thinly slice 1/4 of the red onion.
5. Add about 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries to the greens.
6. Once the blueberry purée has cooled, you can continue making the blueberry ranch dressing.
7. Wash and dry 10 chives and about 1/2 a bunch of parsley. Mince the chives and parsley. You should have about 1/4 cup of minced parsley.
8. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Add in 1 clove of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper: 1/2 tsp of each or to taste. Mix together until smooth and uniform.
9. Add in the chives, the dried dill and minced parsley. Then, stir in the chilled puréed blueberries.
10. Stir in up to 1/4 cup of milk until you have the desired consistency. One quarter cup will make a fairly thin ranch dressing. If you like a thicker dressing, add less.
11. In the serving bowl, add 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries, the sliced red onion and the cooled toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the blueberry ranch salad dressing and serve.
Salad is an interesting dish, but we often think of it in its humblest form: the side salad with a few leaves of lettuce and maybe a few add-ons soaked in dressing. In reality though, salad can be a hundred different dishes. There are salads with grains, salads with noodles, salads that are grilled, salads topped with steak or salmon. In North America, we typically think of salads with lettuce or greens, but Israeli salads are usually perfectly cubed vegetables like sweet, slightly acidic tomatoes (technically a fruit!), refreshing cucumbers, a little onion if you like and maybe some peppers.
This Orzo salad is a twist on a classic Israeli salad of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. The Italian rice-like pasta orzo is added in with the vegetables, and a pesto of parsley, almonds and feta creates the sauce and seasoning for this tasty summer salad. Pesto comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to crush. A pesto is a delicious paste of crushed herbs and and spices. For this salad you can add in any additional vegetables you like.
Israeli Orzo Salad
1/2 cup of blanched almonds
1 cup of curly parsley, stems removed
1/2 lb of feta, divided
2 small cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 large tomatoes OR 3 cups of cherry tomatoes, OR a combination of both
3 cups of chopped cucumbers
1/2 lb of uncooked orzo
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 a green pepper, optional
1/2 cup of pitted olives, optional
1. In a large pot, boil water and add a tablespoon of salt.
2. While the water is boiling, wash and dry your parsley. Add your parsley, blanched almonds, garlic and a 1/4 pound of the feta to a blender or food processor. Add in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Purée together to make your pesto.
3. Once the water comes to a boil, cook the orzo as directed on the box (about 7-9 minutes usually).
4. Drain the pasta and mix in 1/2 of the pesto, then toss to coat.
5. While the pasta cools to room temperature, wash a cut your vegetables. You want the tomatoes, cucumber and optional green pepper to be about 1/- inch cubes.
6. Once the orzo has cooled, toss in all the vegetables. Toss in the zest of one lemon and the rest of the pesto. Crumble the rest of the feta cheese (or less to taste) over the top of the salad and sprinkle on the olives (optional).
This salad makes a perfect lunch alone, or serve with some grilled fish or meat for dinner.
I was raised on a healthy diet of my mom’s homemade buffalo wings. I remember the first time I had a ‘hot’ wing. She had brought home some leftovers from what would become our favorite wing spot, The Three Dollar Cafe. I remember taking my first bite. I remember my lips seemingly on fire but tingly with joy all at once. What was this spicy wing of deliciousness and where can I get more!?
Luckily for me, my mom was just as in love with hot wings as I was and luckily for us, my mom had gotten a buffalo wing recipe from a random man in a shoe store and so, a family recipe was born. My mom’s wings are hot and tangy and sweet and spicy. They pair perfectly with blue cheese. However, now that I keep kosher, there is no pairing of blue cheese and hot wings. Therefore, I’ve had to come up with alternatives to bring my favorite pairings to life. This vegetarian version is great for bringing to a picnic, serving your family on Shabbat or simply disguising a healthy weekday meal with a punch of flavor.
You’ll see that this recipe does not include blue cheese but I do recommend it. Heck, me being me, I recommend ANY AND ALL CHEESE. I also recommend having fun with your toppings. I enjoy some bread and butter pickles and some classic mayonnaise and maybe some grilled onions. But truly, the best thing about these burgers are that they can be built to your taste buds. Enjoy!
Buffalo Quinoa Burgers
2 cups cooked red quinoa
1 cup Cannelloni beans, mashed
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
6 Tbsp. Canola oil
1. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, mashed Cannelloni beans, bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 balled patties (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).
3. In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Wait until oil is hot and then add 2 quinoa burger balls in at a time. Using a flat spatula, press down the ball until a thick patty forms.
4. Cook until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the an optional layer of cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil into the skillet after the first batch of burgers is cooked.
For summer, we are taking inspiration from the layers of an Italian lasagna as well as the sweetness of kugel. Lasagna is of course a classic Italian dish. Its creamy, rich filling is a perfect comfort food for the chilly days of fall and winter. In Jewish kitchens, noodle kugel (Lokshen Kugel) makes an appearance several times a year. It is a great dairy option for a Yom Kippur break fast and a favorite for Shavuot when we eat dairy.
These mini sweet summer lasagna-kugels let you take the in-season fruits of summer and layer them between a delicious ricotta filling and pasta. They are great served warm with some grilled fruit for a sweet and light meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can be enjoyed straight from the fridge for a little after-camp snack or picnic treat. This can be made as a single dish in a large pan or as individual minis in a muffin tin.
Sweet Summer Mini Kugels
8-10 lasagna noodles or 6 oz. of wide egg noodles
1 cup of whole milk ricotta
2 oz. of cream cheese
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp. of vanilla
4 Tbsp. of sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups of fruit preserves or a bowl of cherries, a bowl of raspberries and a bowl of apricots (about 2 cups of stewed fruit)
1/2 cup of sour cream
1. Begin by cooking and straining the pasta so it has time to cool. Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar and the vanilla into the pasta water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (as noted on the box). If you are using muffin tins for individual kugels, I recommend using the egg noodles because they fit more easily into the cups. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. You can use preserves if time is an issue, but this is a perfect way to use up fruit that is becoming a bit overripe or isn’t so pretty anymore and you want to cook with it. In a small saucepan, add the fruit (peel and all is OK) and a tablespoon of water. Cover the pot and cook on medium-low until the fruit softens. Then take the lid off and cook on low until the fruit breaks down into the consistency of a compote or apple sauce.
Fruits with skins like apricots will separate from the skins and you can just pull out the skins from the pot. If you like your kugel to be a bit sweeter, then add some sugar to the mixture a teaspoon at a time to taste.
3. Set the preserves aside in a bowl to cool.
4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp. of sugar. If you are using the egg noodles, once the pasta has cooled, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.
5. Now you layer your kugel (like a traditional lasagna). If you are using lasagna noodles, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. Then add a layer of noodles, a layer of the ricotta mixture, a layer of fruit, a layer of lasagna noodles and a thin layer of the ricotta on top.
If you are using egg noodles and a muffin tin, put cupcake liners in each spot. Take the noodles that have been tossed with a little of the ricotta mixture and put a thin layer of them on the bottom. Add a layer of ricotta and a layer of fruit. The advantage of muffin tins is that you can do a variety of flavors. I did cherry, raspberry and apricot. Top the fruit with a layer of the egg noodles.
6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes for the individual kugels until the top is lightly golden brown. For the larger kugel, cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time depends on how juicy your fruit is. The top will be golden brown and the fruit will bubble up a little when done.
7. For the topping which can be drizzled on top, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Drizzle over slices at the table.
Serve with a fruit salad or some grilled fruit for a full, fruity, sweet meal.
Jewish tradition commemorated romance long before St. Valentine’s Day was established as a means to Christianize and tone down the revelry associated with the Pagan holiday of Lupercalia—a fertility festival. Tu B’Av was originally a minor holiday celebrated in Israel after the second Temple was built in 349 BCE and falls on July 31 this year. According to the Talmud, “the daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards and whoever did not have a wife would go there.” The vineyards would be outside the walls of Jerusalem away from the Temple Mount, an expression of joy away from the sadness of destruction.
In modern Israel, the holiday has been resuscitated. Girls dress in white, there is dancing on beaches and in fields, red roses are given and love songs are dedicated on the radio to the paramour’s love. Picnics and outdoor grilling are traditional much like our Fourth of July celebrations. Foods that can be served cold and transported easily are popular as well as simple grilled meats.
Here is a traditional Hungarian Cold Cherry Soup that can easily be transported in a thermos or container, is very simple to make, can be served as a first course or dessert, and is Pink, the color of love! So #ChooseLove by creating your own traditions as the full moon rises over your summer day on Tu B’Av and enjoy the people and activities you love. Snap some fun pictures and share them on our #ChooseLove gallery!
Hungarian Cherry Soup (Meggy Leves)
1 16 oz. or 2 10 oz. bags frozen tart or sweet cherries with juice
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
Grated zest of ½ medium lemon
¼ cup sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine (Zinfandel or Shiraz would be good) or orange juice
½-1 teaspoon almond extract, optional (according to taste)
Kosher salt, as needed
Habara’s (Thickening Mixture)
¾ cup sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or more according to taste
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes until cherries are tender and flavors have combined.
2. Remove 8 cherries for garnish. Set aside. Discard cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.
3. Pass the cherries and liquid through a food mill to puree. Alternatively, blend the mixture in a blender until mixture is fairly smooth. Return pureed soup to the pan. Add the almond extract (if using) and a pinch of salt. Re-heat soup on low heat while you make the Habaras.
4. In a 1 quart bowl, whisk the sour cream, confectioner’s sugar and flour together.
5. Whisk some of the hot soup into the sour cream mixture and then add all of the mixture back into the pot of soup. Simmer soup, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes or until thickened.
6. Cover surface of soup with plastic wrap to prevent a tough skin from forming on the top and chill. When ready to serve, spoon into bowls and garnish with reserved cherries.
If you have the time, a cherry pitter, and an older child you could make this soup with fresh cherries. However, the attention span of most children under the age of 10 will lose interest before all cherries are pitted.
This soup is very easy to make and its flavor can be adjusted to a child’s palate by adding some almond extract and/or a little more sugar if necessary.
Sour cherries (the traditional type for this recipe) are very hard to find. However, the frozen, sweet variety is not that sweet and will adapt in any recipe calling for tart cherries.
Habaras is a traditional mixture that is used for thickening soups. The flour may be eliminated if you can’t eat gluten. Just add a few tablespoons more confectioner’s sugar as it helps thicken the soup because it contains three percent cornstarch.
As the mercury creeps ever higher on the thermometer, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and counteract my hardworking air conditioner. Luckily, we’ve been members of a CSA for the last several years (most recently Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA) and so every week I pick up a huge haul of delicious, organic, sometimes unfamiliar, and sometimes in abundance, veggies.
One of the items we’ve tended to get the most of is cabbage. Napa cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage… lots of cabbage! I was a little intimidated by all these leafy vegetables initially, and opted for cooking up one of my favorite comfort foods–stuffed cabbage. But it takes forever, it’s a little complicated and it requires my summer foe: the oven! I’m not a lover of typical cole slaw as I really don’t like mayonnaise, but a friend’s girlfriend introduced me to a recipe for a peanut slaw a few years back that I’ve worked to recreate. It has since become a summer staple around here.
It’s a great dish to bring to a BBQ or potluck, or to just make a huge batch of and keep in the fridge. It’s especially versatile as it doesn’t contain any dairy or meat so it pairs well with most meals, and without the mayo it’s safe to be out of the fridge for awhile.
Here’s the recipe for what’s sure to become a new favorite in your family as well.
Crunchy Peanut Slaw
1 big bowl of slaw, serves at least 8
1 medium head green cabbage, outer leaves removed (I prefer Napa Cabbage for this, but anything that comes in your CSA works)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, green and white parts
1 cup chopped cilantro (about two big handfuls unchopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup light oil, like canola
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more, to taste)
1. Shred the cabbage very finely. The fineness of the shredded cabbage is really what makes this salad; you want it in in threads, almost, and with the threads chopped into bite-size lengths.
2. Toss with the peanuts, cilantro and green onion in a large bowl.
3. Whisk the dressing until emulsified, then taste and adjust to your own preference of sweetness and saltiness. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little spice.
4. Toss with the cabbage. Garnish with a few more peanuts and green onions and serve.
I know that some people HATE cilantro, and in that case, you can substitute a combination of flat leaf parsley and mint. If you’re dealing with a peanut allergy, you can substitute other nuts, or if you’re avoiding nuts altogether, add some shredded carrots for color and sweetness.
You’ll need a large, very sharp knife for this recipe, a good and stable cutting board and a salad spinner, because while organic fruits and veggies are wonderful, they’re often dirty! My favorite method for cleaning greens is to finely chop them and then soak in a large bowl of cold water, then remove to the salad spinner for a vigorous spin, always a fun job for kids!
In many Jewish households, Fridays are for chicken. A roasted chicken for Shabbat is as commonplace as fireworks on the Fourth of July. If you’re creating a Jewish home, or a home with a Jewish flavor, a great way to do so is by sharing a delicious Shabbat or holiday meal. I love gathering with friends and hearing about their grandmothers’ roast chicken or the best roast chicken they had at a friend’s house growing up.
This time of year, it is hot outside and having the oven on for a long time roasting a chicken is less appealing. For Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th) we’ve got this simple fried chicken recipe, which is perfect for a picnic, and as always, the secret is in the sauce. The dipping sauce for this recipe is all about Canada Day because it’s a sweet maple syrup sauce that explodes with flavor thanks to some Dijon Mustard (a nod to Bastille Day, July 14, perhaps) and some fresh minced garlic.
Picnic Fried Chicken with Maple Dipping Sauce
Special equipment needed: a candy thermometer to measure the heat of the oil.
2 full chicken breasts with the skin on (this will be four pieces) If the chicken breasts have the bones ask your butcher to split the breasts and remove the bones for you.
1 full skinless boneless chicken breast (this will be two pieces)
1 400 ml can of coconut milk, divided
1 cup of water, divided
2 tsp. of smoky paprika (if you only have one kind of paprika just use that twice)
2 tsp. of sweet paprika, divided
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of pepper
3 tsp. of cider vinegar, divided
additional salt and pepper to season chicken
2 cups of all purpose flour (optional 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour)
1/2 cup of corn starch
vegetable oil for frying: enough to fill your pot about 1 1/2 inches which should be no more than 1/3 of the way up the pot. (I like canola or peanut oil)
Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. maple syrup I prefer the dark/grade B maple syrup
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
Note: I make two different soaks for the chicken. One is more child-friendly and is a bit milder. My daughter does not like pepper so the children’s chicken is pepper free. I also make chicken strips for the children that cook quickly and are perfect for little fingers to hold.
The chicken is made in two steps: soak & fry.
1. You will need two bowls: one for the children’s chicken and one for the adult’s. In the larger bowl (adult bowl) mix the coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Whisk the mixture together and then pour 1/3 of the mixture into the other bowl (kid’s bowl).
2. To the adult bowl, add 2 tsp. of smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika, 2 tsp. of cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.
3. To the kid’s bowl add 1 tsp. of cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of salt.
4. Whisk the mixtures in each separate bowl until everything is combined.
5. Place the 4 chicken breast pieces that have skin into the adult bowl. If the chicken is not submerged you can add a little bit of water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.
6. Take the boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into 1-inch strips with scissors or a kitchen knife.
7. Place the chicken strips into the kid’s bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but I prefer to soak overnight.
1. Take the bowls out of the refrigerator and remove the chicken from the cold coconut milk soak to a wire rack over a tray. Let the chicken sit for a while so that some of the chill is removed from the meat. The coconut milk will begin to “melt” off the chicken. Let the soak drip off and remove any excess coconut milk before you coat the chicken in flour.
2. Fill your pot no more than 2 inches high with your oil and warm it up over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees.
3. In a large plastic bag add 2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and mix well with a whisk.
4. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Then put the chicken into the flour mixture in batches. Shake to coat.
5. Have a baking tray or plate ready with a double layer of paper towels for the chicken to drain on as each batch is ready.
6. The full chicken breasts take 20 minutes to fry. Once your oil has reached 375 degrees, you can start frying in batches. I like to put a timer on for 5 minutes at a time. Every 5 minutes you can turn the chicken in the oil. After 4 turns the chicken will be ready. Take it out with a slotted spoon or very carefully with tongs and place it on a plate layered with two paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper to finish. The chicken strips take only about 8 minutes and can be done in two or three batches. Turn them every two minutes.
In a measuring cup pour 1 Tbsp. of honey, 3 Tbsp. of maple syrup, 1 clove of garlic minced, and 1 tsp. of Dijon. Whisk together. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
When I started dating my husband he was living in Atlanta, and through my visits down south I was introduced to a whole new world of food–barbeque. I don’t want to instigate a war between barbeque lovers and the intricacies of what makes a North Carolina BBQ sauce different from a Kansas City sauce, but, suffice it to say, I think it’s all pretty delicious.
Growing up, BBQ meant chicken breasts covered in store bought sauce, baked in the oven (my mom is from Ohio). And I ate it happily, but after I spent some time eating my way through Atlanta, I’ve learned how much better something can be when it’s fresh and homemade, and I love being able to adjust the seasoning based on what I’m serving or how I’m planning to use the leftovers.
After taste testing many different recipes for BBQ sauce, the ones I liked best have both brown sugar and molasses, with something smokey and spicy to cut the sweetness a bit–in this case chipotle in adobo, one of my go-to-ingredients for chili as well. All of these ingredients work in perfect concert together to create a sweet, smoky, spicy sauce. Whether it’s brisket or chicken, even veggies or tofu, everything tastes better slathered in this amazing and simple sauce.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely diced
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard powder
2 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo
4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. It’s important to add the onions first or else the garlic will burn.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the ingredients, the more liquid ones first. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, blend, still in pan, until completely smooth.
If you do not have an immersion blender, consider investing in one! It’s great for everything from baby food to soup to sauce. However, if you don’t have one, the sauce would be delicious slightly chunky: Just make sure to dice everything very finely, or you can pour the slightly cooled sauce into a regular blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
5. For use on grilled meat, let the sauce cool completely and then marinate the meat in sauce for up to an hour before grilling, and then continue to baste with sauce while cooking.
If using kosher meat, use less salt, as the meat is already salted.
This is fantastic for a typical American style BBQ feast, but can also transport you around the world. Using it on steak that is then thinly sliced is wonderful on top of a Vietnamese Bun. Used on pulled chicken you can create great sliders or tacos. Inside a simple chinese-style crepe pancake, it’s a wonderful start to mu-shu, along with some sauteed cabbage and carrots. The options are really limitless, and help you get a glimpse into the fact that grilled meat is really a staple in most cuisines.
Just another example of how food can bring people together across cultures and continents, when other factors just seem to divide us. What better way to celebrate the melting pot of America on the 4th of July than a recipe that can transcend? Wishing you the best for a Happy Fourth of July!
When I was about to enter second grade and my brother was about to begin Kindergarten, our parents packed our lives up and moved the family to France for the year. We did it all again four years later as well. At the time, especially in sixth grade, I didn’t appreciate being plucked from my life in North America and put into public school in France where they didn’t celebrate birthdays at school with cupcakes, but rather celebrated each child’s Saint Day. Who knew there was even a Saint Leah?
This was just one of the many adjustments we made, but looking back it was all worth it. There are two things that sweetened the deal at the time: The wonderful French patisseries and spending time hiking in the mountains and foraging for blackberries with my brother and mom, and for mushrooms with my father. My dad and I both still consider mushrooms to be the best treat on earth. And while my father is not a huge fan of dessert, he and I do have a sweet tooth when it comes to candy.
The French biscuits known as palmiers (palm leaves) are sometimes called elephant ears. They are a perfect treat to whip up and bring along for a father’s day picnic or BBQ in celebration of the great guy who raised you, or the guy who is raising your kids. Put them in a basket lined with a cloth napkin and they make the perfect hostess gift.
These petit palmiers can be made either savory or sweet. The sweet version turns these little hearts of puff pastry into lacquered caramelized treats that pastry and candy lovers alike will enjoy. My bubbe used to make delicious biscuits called Nothings;they were light and airy and not too sweet. Adults enjoyed them dipped in coffee (and I just enjoyed sneaking them off the platter). Even though these palmiers are rich with butter from the pastry and have a shiny sugared coating, the light little heart-shaped biscuits remind me of Nothings because they both have a lightness to them and are delicious dipped in coffee.
The sweet version of palmiers are shiny and golden thanks to the caramelization of sugar. The savory version make an impressive appetizer or amuse bouche and bursts with the flavors of summer thanks to the pesto. Either one is a great way to show that you #ChooseLove.
Sweet Petit Palmiers (makes about 20 little biscuits)
1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 a pack of 17.3 oz or 490 g of puff pastry)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar, split into thirds
a pinch of salt
1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400℉.
2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.
3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table. Sprinkle 1/3 of your sugar onto the parchment paper on the counter or table.
4. Put your puff pastry on top of the sugared parchment paper.
5. Sprinkle another 1/3 of your sugar over the puff pastry. My children love making treats for family and friends. They take great pride in sharing something they have made themselves or had a hand in making. Let the kids help with the sprinkling of the sugar. They can then also help with rolling the sugar into the dough.
6. With a rolling pin, press the sugar into the dough. Add a pinch of salt, sprinkled over the sugar here.
7. Fold the dough onto itself in thirds lengthwise. It will be folded the same way that it came in the package. If the puff pastry is more square, don’t worry about it. You can cut it in half to make two smaller rectangles.
8. Roll the rectangle out into a larger rectangle. As you can see, it will not be perfect, but you can take a butter knife and trim the edges to create a rectangle again.
9. Sprinkle 1/2 the remaining sugar (the last third of your 1/2 cup) onto the puff pastry and put the rest of the sugar on a small plate or saucer. Without handling the pastry too much, roll the long sides in on themselves until they meet in the middle. They will form one long scroll.
10. Brush a little water along the middle seam to help the rolls stick to one another. Then, with a butter knife cut 1/4 inch slices. The dough will look like snails facing one another. To transform these into hearts, pinch the bottom and press the rounded “shells” of the snails together.
11. Place each heart on the plate of remaining sugar and gently coat both sides of the heart with sugar.
12. Place the hearts about 3/4 inch apart on the tray. Bake for 8 minutes on one side at 400℉. Carefully take the tray out of the oven, and with a fork or butter knife flip the cookies over. They should be a golden caramel color. If the hearts have begun to unravel you can try to reshape them now before cooking the other side. Do be careful as the sugar is very hot. Continue cooking the other side for 5-8 more minutes until they’re dark, golden brown.
13. Take the palmiers out of the oven and cool the tray on a wire rack. If you are cooking a second batch or will be making savory palmiers right away, then carefully pull the parchment paper onto a cooling rack and the cookie sheet will be ready to go with the next batch.
Savory Petit Palmiers (makes about 20 little biscuits)
1 sheet of puff pastry
2-3 Tbsp. pesto
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan
1. Thaw the puff pastry as directed on the packaging. Usually about 40 minutes or up to 2 or 3 hours. Once almost thawed, preheat oven to 400 ℉
2. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a piece of parchment paper.
3. Put another piece of parchment paper onto the kitchen counter or a table.
4. Spread up to 3 tablespoons of homemade or store bought pesto over the puff pastry. You want the pastry nicely coated with the pesto as above, neither spread too thin nor overloaded with pesto.
5. Grate Parmesan on a plate or right over the pesto to create a thin layer of cheese.
6. Roll the pastry lengthwise from both sides (as above) until they meet in the middle creating a long double rolled rope (pictured below). These rolls are attached in the middle like a long scroll.
7. Brush the middle with a little water to help the sides stick together. Then (as above) slice the rope into 1/4 inch slices and pinch the bottom to create a heart shape.
8. Beat one egg and brush the beaten egg over the savory pesto hearts.
9. Put the tray into a 400 ℉ oven for 18-20 minutes. You can flip the palmiers 1/2 way through so that they are golden on both sides, but they are just as tasty if you are too busy playing with the leftover dough with the kids to flip them.
For fun, you can try to make words or shapes out of the leftover scraps. Bake them for 12-18 minutes and you’ll have a few extra tasty treats.