Challah With a Twist: Scallion Pancake Challah

  

By Molly Yeh

Scallion challah bread by Molly Yeh

Reprinted with permission from Molly Yeh, adapted from MyJewishLearning.

I enjoy being a Chinese Jew. I eat plenty of matzah balls and potstickers and I get to celebrate three New Years.

I’ve often had to convince people that I’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 can’t say I really thought about what it meant to Chinese and Jewish while I was growing up.

I recently moved 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 to 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 balls… you get the picture. There’s not a deli in sight. Not even a bagel. I do miss bopping down to Zabar’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 I’ll one day raise…

I’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 52’s Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp. instant yeast
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/3 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs

 

Filling and Topping

  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 stalks scallions or green onions, minced
  • salt, pepper, and red chili flakes to taste
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • A few pinches of toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds

 

Directions

1.  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.

The Passover Kugel Stack

  

Kugel Stack Completed

We all know so many ways to use up Thanksgiving leftovers, but the recipes are few and far between when it comes to Passover leftovers. Here is a tasty way to use up what’s left after your seder. You can make this recipe from scratch, but it’s better with leftovers. If you want meat, you can keep it kosher by skipping the cheese. Add in some of the seder horseradish to give it some spice. You can make your stacks as high or low as you like. I like to have four layers. Whether you stack them high or low, they will be delicious!

Kugel Stack

Ingredients:

  • leftover potato kugel, chilled overnight
  • leftover roasted or steamed asparagus, green beans or other green vegetables
  • leftover tsimmes or one baked sweet potato
  • 10 oz. pack of white mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped (or leftover brisket if you’re using meat)
  • one small shallot
  • 2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced (if you’re doing dairy)
  • a pinch of kosher salt

Slices of kugel ready to be crisped in a pan.

Directions:

1. Slice your chilled kugel evenly. The amount of kugel you have left over will determine how many stacks you can make.

2. In a pan, heat the vegetable oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the slices of kugel and cook until golden brown on both sides. Set the slices aside on a plate while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Finely chop the shallot. If needed, add a little extra vegetable oil to the pan that you cooked the kugel in. Sauté the shallots over medium-low heat.

4. Toss the mushrooms in with the shallots and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the liquid begins to cook off of the mushrooms and they begin to brown, add a pinch of salt. This is your mushroom duxelles. If you prefer, you can use the leftover brisket instead and skip the mozzarella on top.

5. Turn the broiler on and make sure your rack is low enough that the stack has room to sit under the broiler. On a baking pan lined with foil, place one slice of kugel. Top that with a row of sliced asparagus or green beans. Top that with another piece of kugel and a spoonful of mushroom duxelles (or a piece of brisket). Top with another slice of kugel and add a spoonful of tsimmes or a slice of sweet potato. Top with a final piece of potato kugel and add a slice of mozzarella. Leave the cheese off if you are using brisket. If you need a toothpick or skewer to stabilize the stack, you can push one into the kugel stack being careful that it is not right under the broiler.

6. Place the stack under the broiler until the cheese begins to bubble and brown. Enjoy!

Fresh Start Rice Noodle Bowls

  

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.

Ingredients

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)

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 heads of baby bok choy
  • 1 bouillon cube with water or chicken stock (for 1 cup of stock)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions
  • 1/2 package of rice noodles (two nests)
  • 1 carrot

 

Directions:

ingredients1.  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.

sautee mushrooms6.  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.

cook your bok choy9.  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.

Chinese noodle bowl

 

 

Red and Green Latkes for Hanukkah at Christmas

  

red and green latkes

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

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli and beets2 beets
  • 2 small or 1 large onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • ÂĽ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • Sour cream, optional
  • Apple sauce, optional

 

Directions:

grated onion1.  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.

ingredients for beet latkes4.  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.

frying beet latkes

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.

Serve with sour cream or apple sauce (or both!).

For more Hanukkah recipes, click here

beet and broccoli latkes

red and green latkes

Tu Bishvat Marbella Chicken with Nutty Barley Pilaf

  

Cooked Chicken Marbella

Tu Bishvat is a celebration of the connections we have to nature and the new year of trees. When it comes to food, trees provide us with fruit and nuts. This nutty pilaf and Tu Bishvat Marbella chicken is an ode to both fruit and nuts.

If you grew up with a copy of The Silver Palate in your parents’ kitchen then Chicken Marbella was definitely on the menu for a special occasion. In the summer we dream of fresh juicy fruit, but come fall and winter, dried fruit becomes a decadent and rich treat. We add raisins to salads to bring in some sweetness. We nibble on dried apricots or pears served on a cheese plate or charcuterie board. Sweet dried papaya and pineapple and tart cranberries and cherries find themselves sweetening up trail mixes as well.

Olives, prunes, garlic and more

The plum however, gets a bad rap when dried. Unless you grew up noshing on them as a filling for hamentaschen or as part of your grandmother’s tsimmes, prunes continue to be as unpopular as Brussels sprouts once were. Prunes have a sweet richness almost like a fortified wine or Port. They add that sweetness and richness to this wonderful chicken dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special weekend meal.

What I love about this dinner is that both the pilaf and the chicken cook in the oven so all you have to do is prep everything and let it cook. The warm oven will keep you toasty and the smells wafting out once everything starts to cook is heavenly. You do, however, need to plan ahead a little to allow time for the chicken to marinate. I suggest prepping the chicken the night before, but in a pinch all you need is two hours of marinating time.

Tu Bishvat Marbella Chicken with Nutty Barley Pilaf
(makes 8-10 servings)

Ingredients:
For the marinade

  • 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
    (about 2 full chicken breasts)
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup of dry oregano
  • 2 small heads of garlic or one med/lg head
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of prunes
    *Call them dried plums if it makes you happier
  • 1/2 c. of pitted green olives
    I like to mix two types for depth of flavour
  • 4-5 cornichons, sliced & 2 tsp. of the cornichon brine
    These can be found in jars or in bulk near the fancy cheeses or sometimes near the mustard and jarred olives at most grocery stores
  • 4 large bay leaves

 

For the chicken before cooking

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • I used an Albariño

 

For the Pilaf

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup of hulled barley
    Hulled barley takes longer to cook and has a nuttier chewier texture than pearl barley. Hulled barley works perfectly for this nutty dairy-free pilaf.
  • 1/2 cup of broken up vermicelli (1 inch-size pieces approx.)
    When I think of vermicelli, I think of rice vermicelli, but here you need an egg noodle or eggless noodle version of vermicelli. You can also use a thin spaghetti broken up into small pieces. DO NOT use rice vermicelli.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
    Do not use low salt stock or your pilaf will lack seasoning. If you choose low salt stock be sure to check for salt and season accordingly.
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1/2 a lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler

 

Directions

Marinade:

1. The chicken will need to marinate for at least two hours or overnight. The pilaf cooks for 2-3 hours in the oven and the chicken will cook in the oven next to the pilaf for the last 40 minutes, so plan accordingly. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chicken marinade

Mix the ingredients2. Place the chicken breasts and thighs in a large bowl (glass is best). Sprinkle the chicken with 2 tsp. of Kosher salt, 1 tsp. of pepper and 1/4 cup of oregano. Mix the chicken so that it is covered with the seasonings. If you have a garlic press, press the garlic cloves from both heads of garlic over the chicken. If you do not have a press, just mince the garlic finely. Mix the chicken one more time to spread the garlic around. Over the chicken, pour: 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive oil.

3. Slice the cornichons into tiny rounds and toss them into the bowl with the cornichon brine. Add in the prunes, pitted olives and the bay leaves to the chicken as well. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours).

Pilaf & Chicken:

1. For the pilaf you will start by very coarsely chopping the 1/2 cup of blanched almonds and browning them on the stove in a large dry pan over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes. Do not step away or the nuts will go from blanched to burnt in seconds.

Vermicelli with nuts

2. Set the nuts aside in a bowl or plate and then add 1 Tbsp. of oil to the pan. Over medium high heat, heat the oil and when warm, toss in 1/2 cup of the broken vermicelli. Stir the vermicelli to coat with oil and continue cooking and stirring until the vermicelli are a dark golden brown. Set the vermicelli aside with the nuts.

Vermicelli barley pilaf3. Chop the onion and two cloves of garlic. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan, over medium heat. Toss the onion into the pan and sauté until it becomes translucent. Then, add in the minced garlic and 1 cup of barley. Sauté for 2 more minutes. In the pan, add the toasted vermicelli and almond. Toss to mix everything together.

4. Add everything from the pan into a 3 quart baking dish as well as 4 cups of chicken broth.

5. Place the dish in the oven and cook uncovered for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the stock is
completely absorbed.

Uncooked chicken marbella

6. Now to finish the chicken. Take out a baking tray or two oven safe serving dishes that will fit all the chicken without crowding it. Arrange the chicken on your tray or serving dishes in a single layer. Pour the marinade, prunes, cornichons, bay leaves and olives around the chicken. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar on top of the chicken. If you like a sweeter dish, you can use up to 1/2 cup of brown sugar. If you like tangy and vinegary dishes, 1/4 cup is plenty.

7. Pour 1/2 cup of white wine around the chicken and cook for 40 minutes at 350°F.

8. Once the chicken is cooked through, you can separate the pan juices to serve on the side and pour over the chicken and pilaf, or you can leave it together in the serving dish.

Whatever you do, be sure to spoon some sauce over the chicken and the pilaf before
digging in!

Looking for another chicken recipe for Shabbat? Try this easy Ginger Sesame Roast Chicken.

Molten Chocolate Cookies for Tu B’Av

  

ChocolateWhat better way to celebrate and #ChooseLove on Tu B’Av, the Israeli holiday of love which falls on Friday, July 31, than with an ooey, gooey, molten chocolate cookie? In fact, this recipe is so easy, and the dough will be stored in your freezer so you can easily bake a few any time your chocolate craving strikes!

Although chocolate has always been associated with love and romance (Montezuma was purported to drink 50 glasses of chili-laced chocolate a day to make him passionate) it is really the Theobromide in cocoa (often found in asthma inhalers) coupled with caffeine that makes one feel amorous. And the Aztecs aside, there were many Jews in history resonsible for the production of chocolate as far back as the 1680s when Benjamin d’Acosta De Andrade developed a method to process cocoa beans so that they could be shipped from South America and ultimately transformed into liquid gold or later, in 1847, into the first eating chocolate.

Famous Jewish chocolate artisans included Franz Sacher, a Jewish Viennese apprentice baker who created the now-famous Sachertorte in 1832. Eli Fromenchenko opened the Elite Chocolate Company in Ramat Gan, Israel, in 1933. In 1938, another Viennese Jew, Stephen Klein, immigrated to New York and opened the first kosher chocolate shop–
Barton’s Salon de Chocolate. And in Israel today, suitors from all over Israel flock to the café called Max Brenner to buy chocolates for the lucky women they will woo on Tu B’Av!

The following recipe is my modern take on the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake but in cookie form. The taste is fantastic but the real treat is that you make the dough, shape it into balls and then freeze them. When you want to serve them, you can pop the frozen balls onto a cookie sheet and bake them for a mere 6-8 minutes. The result is a rich cookie that is firm on the outside and oozes delicious cinnamon and coffee-scented filling when bitten into. You, and your love, will enjoy these, I promise. Take a photo of your finished product, and show us how you #ChooseLove on Tu B’Av!

Molten Mocha Cinnamon Chocolate Cookies

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Chocolate butter closeupIngredients:

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ÂĽ cup all purpose flour
  • ÂĽ teaspoon baking powder
  • ÂĽ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • Âľ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant espresso
  • ÂĽ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Âľ cup semi-sweet chocolate, either chips or chopped ÂĽ inch pieces

 

Directions:

Whisk ingredients1.  Combine the 10 ounces of chocolate and the butter in a one-quart glass bowl. Microwave this mixture on high for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir until all chocolate is melted and set aside.

2.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

3.  Beat eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and lemon colored. Add the espresso, cinnamon and vanilla and beat to combine.

4.  Add the chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until all egg mixture is incorporated.

Mix ingredients

Freeze your cookie dough5.  Add the flour mixture and mix only until there is no flour visible. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chips. Remove beaters and scrape down sides of bowl. Refrigerate in bowl for 15 minutes.

6.  Using a 1 Tablespoon portion scoop or a rounded measuring spoon, place dough onto a parchment- or foil-lined cookie sheet.

7.  Freeze dough uncovered until very hard. When frozen, remove individual dough balls to a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze until ready to bake.

8.  To bake: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place frozen mounds of dough onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes (depending on size of the balls) or until the tops of the cookie are firm but very soft to the touch. Cookies will harden a little as they cool.

9.  Let cookies cool for 5 minutes if you want them to be hot and gooey; longer if you want them to hold their shape a little better.

baked cookies

Note: Baked cookies may be refrigerated and then re-heated in a microwave for 20 seconds on high. However, cold, baked cookies are like a cross between a cookie and a truffle and quite delicious!

Cookies

These molten chocolate cookies go perfectly with our Tu B’Av cherry soup! Get the recipe here.