New flicks with celebs in interfaith relationships and from interfaith backgrounds, plus their baby news!Go To Pop Culture
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.
Food pathways show the influence on recipes from region to region and neighbor to neighbor. In Germany, a recipe for gingerbread men was adapted and adopted by Eastern European Jews to make Zimsterne, or “star” cookies to be served at the end of Shabbat afterÂ Havdalah services. Containing the spices found in the Bisomim box used during the close of Shabbat service, the symbolism was to take the sweetness of Shabbat with you into the coming week.
With the holiday season coming up and relatives visiting, this cookie is the perfect bridge between Jewish tradition and Christmas cookie baking. Everyone will enjoy the treat and you can share two celebrations with all family members at one time. Best of all, everyone can help make these soft spice cookies or, you can make them in advance. They keep very well in an airtight container and their flavor gets better, as all spice cookies do, with age.
MakesÂ 4 or more dozen depending on size of cookie
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Â˝ cup honey
5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
Â˝ tsp. ground cloves
Â˝ tsp. ground ginger
Confectionerâ€™s sugar for rolling out dough
1 cup confectionerâ€™s sugar
ÂĽ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1. Â Â Cream the butter and the sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture gets lighter in color. Beat in the honey.
2. Â Combine the baking soda and spices with 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.
3. Â With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining 4 cups of flour, mixing well to form a thick dough. If your mixer is powerful, use it to add the reserved cup of flour and spices until well combined. If not, stir the remaining flour into the dough by hand. Make sure that the mixture is thoroughly combined.
4. Â Pat dough into a flat round and place in a plastic storage bag or airtight container. Seal and store in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until firm and easy to handle.
6. Â Cut the dough into star shapes using a cookie cutter, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the icing.
To make the icing:
1.Â Place the cup of confectionerâ€™s sugar in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, whisk in some more milk until the mixture resembles mayonnaise in consistency.
2. Â Using a pastry brush, brush the icing over the tops of the warm cookies and let sit at room temperature until the cookies are cool and the icing is dry and no longer sticky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze until later use.