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.

Sweet Wine Slushies

  

sweet wine slushie

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!

Ingredients:

1 cup sweet kosher wine

1 1/2 cups pear nectar

2-inch piece of ginger

1 lime, zested

1 Tbsp. sugar

Directions:

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.

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!

Queen Esther’s Crown Purim Bread with Samosa Filling

  

samosa crown

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

cook veggiesIngredients:

  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 1/2 cup of peas
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
    (8 new potatoes or 2 large)
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricot
  • 1 pre-made uncooked pizza dough
  • 1 egg
  • yogurt, optional

 

Directions:

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.

Filling3.  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.

samosa

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.

Cooked samosa crown

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

Gingerbread Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Doughnuts)

  

 

sufganiyot_stackChristmas and the first night of Hanukkah fall on the same day this year. Growing up the child of a divorced, interreligious family, this would have blown my mind even more than it does as an adult. While I was raised primarily in my Jewish mother’s home, my brother and I spent every Christmas with my dad, stepmother and half-sister, and we loved it. I mean, loved it. Sure, the extra presents were nice (very nice), but the experience of both holidays was nothing short of warmth.

Now, at 36, as I think back to having to shuffle between houses for holidays, I feel nothing but warmth. I loved lighting the menorah and the smell of the match as it lit a fresh batch of Hanukkah candles. I equally loved the smell of eggnog and the sound of Nat King Cole’s classic Christmas record as I helped my dad and family decorate the tree. I never once felt I was compromising my enriched and grounded Jewish identity as I played along with my dad and stepmom in pretending, for the sake of my beloved half-sister, that Santa and his reindeer were, in fact, on the roof trying to figure out how to get down the chimney.

Somehow, my family figured out how to give my brother and me a safe and inviting interreligious experience growing up and never asked us to choose. It was our normal, and it was perfect. I hope this recipe helps you bring some of that warmth into your home.

Gingerbread Sufganiyot

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

  • 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, plus ½ cup extra for coating
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • ÂĽ cup plus 2 tsp. warm water
  • 4.5 Tbsp. room-temperature butter
  • 4 cups neutral oil for frying (like canola)

 

For the filling:

  • ½ cup cream
  • ÂĽ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. allspice
  • ÂĽ Tbsp. nutmeg
  • ÂĽ Tbsp. ground cloves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch

 

Instructions

1.  Place all doughnut ingredients, except the butter, into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Work on a low speed for about 4 minutes, or until well-combined and elastic.

2.  With the mixer still running, add the butter piece by piece, until it’s all worked in and incorporated. There should be no visible pieces. This will take about 5-8 minutes.

3.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

4.  While the dough is rising, make the filling. Place the cream, milk, vanilla and gingerbread-spice mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat.

5.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.

6.  Pour the mixture back into the pan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until it boils and becomes very thick, about 1-2 minutes. Once the mixture is the consistency of soft butter, scrape it out into a bowl, cover and set aside to cool completely.

doughnut dough

7.  When the dough has risen, punch it down and scrape it out onto a well-floured surface. Make sure your hands are properly floured and pat the dough into a rectangle, about ½-inch thick, and cut out nine doughnuts using a well-floured 2.5-inch round biscuit cutter or large glass. Place the doughnuts on a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 45 minutes, or until puffy.

8.  When the doughnuts are finished their second rise, place about 2 inches of oil into a high-sided pan (or use a deep fryer) and heat over a low flame, until it reaches 350 degrees (or until a small piece of dough dropped in the oil bubbles and rises to the surface).

9.  Fry the doughnuts a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan) for about 1 minute each side, or until golden brown and cooked through.

10.  Drain on paper towels and toss in the ½ cup sugar.

Inject doughnuts with gingerbread

11.  To fill the doughnuts, I use a flavor injector, like you would use for a turkey. I find this the easiest way to get the cream in. Alternatively, you can place the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a ¼-inch nozzle. Press the piping bag into the side of each doughnut and squeeze until you can feel the weight of the doughnut increase slightly.

Find more Hanukkah recipes here

Gingerbread dougnuts

Dairy Matzah Kugel for Passover

  

Matzah Kugel served with gefilte fish and side salad

Some people have strong feelings about the kind of recipe that aims to create a Passover-friendly version of a dish that is typically leavened. Detractors think creating Passover bagels, muffins, and rolls miss the point of the holiday’s specific diet. Those in favor see the practice as helping to make a difficult holiday more bearable. Some will even point to foods like Passover Popovers as an example of Jewish ingenuity.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t see the point suffering through a week of “I can’t believe you want to call this a bagel.” (But hey, if you can convince yourself that whatever you’ve come up with tastes like a bagel, more power to you. I’ll have eggs for breakfast this week.) On the other hand, when the introduction of matzah into a dish creates a delightful new twist on an old favorite, I’m all for it.

This brings us to Matzah Kugel, a sweet, dairy-filled confection of matzah layered with sweetened cheese. Sure, you could make a kugel with Passover noodles and come up with an almost-but-not-quite-satisfying proxy for the regular version, but you will never forget that it’s not the “real” thing. Matzah kugel, on the other hand, takes the idea of a noodle kugel as a jumping off point and transforms it into something different but equally delicious.

This dish can function as a side dish or a main course. (It pairs well with a side salad and a piece of gefilte fish.) You can freeze leftover portions: they reheat well in the microwave and even make a delicious and quick breakfast when you just can’t take one more piece of matzah with cream cheese.

Cheese Matzah Kugel for Passover

(Serves 9)

Kugel ingredientsIngredients:

  • 6 sheets matzah, broken into large pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 pound cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, plus additional butter to grease the pan

 

Directions:

Matzah layered in the baking dish1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.

2.  Add cottage cheese, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix to combine thoroughly.

3.  Grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.

4.  Arrange half of the matzah so that it covers the bottom of the dish.

5.  Pour half of the cheese mixture over it. Repeat with balance of the matzah and cheese mixture. If you wish, sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar over the top of the kugel.

6.  Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set.

The matzah kugel when it's done baking

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

  

baked chocolate hamentaschen

Chocolate-chocolate hamentaschenHamentaschen or “Haman’s Pockets” are the traditional dessert of Ashkenazi Jews on the holiday of Purim. Originally containing poppy seed filling in medieval Germany, it later became popular to fill the Hamentashen with prune filling. This tradition was started in 1731 to honor a Jewish prune jam merchant named David Brandeis. David was acquitted after being charged erroneously with trying to poison the magistrate of Jungbunzlau in northeastern Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). To celebrate his acquittal the people in his community filled Hamantashen with his plum jam and called it Poivadl (plum/prune) Purim. Today Hamentaschen are filled with many different flavors of fruit jams, nuts and even chocolate.

It is difficult for people suffering from Celiac Disease and others whose bodies are sensitive to gluten to participate in many food customs when one’s diet is restricted in this way. Creating recipes that allow people on restricted diets to participate fully in the enjoyment of Jewish culinary traditions is a very important goal of mine. The following two recipes can be made dairy free as well as  gluten-free if you so choose and it is delicious either way. Choose either to make chocolate cookie dough or traditional sugar cookie dough, both with delicious chocolate filling. Enjoy!

Chocolate Filling

For your chocolate filling, you can either follow the instructions below, or use Nutella or Israeli chocolate spread Hashachar H’aole.

Ingredients:

  • Âľ stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 oz. chocolate chips + 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3.5 oz. bar of 78% cacao
  • Âľ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour

 

Directions:

1.  Place butter and chocolate in a 1 ½ quart glass mixing bowl and microwave on 80 percent power for 45 seconds; if butter is not completely melted then heat on high for 15 more seconds. Stir contents of bowl until smooth.

2.  Whisk the sugar, extracts and salt into the chocolate mixture. Combine well to dissolve some of the sugar.

3.  Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.

4.  Add the rice flour and whisk until a smooth, shiny mass is formed and pulls away from the side of the bowl.

5.  Place mixture in a sealed container and refrigerate until needed. Filling will become firm but not too firm to scoop into little mounds for filling Hamentaschen.

Note: Chocolate often retains it shape when melted, so don’t over heat or it will burn. One tablespoon rice flour is equivalent to two tablespoons flour if gluten is not a concern and you don’t have rice flour at home.

 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Hamentaschen

Makes about 2 dozen hamentaschen

gluten-free hamentaschen ingredientsIngredients*:

  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 cups Gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 to regular flour)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, Crisco or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. xanthan powder
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • filling of your choice

 

chocolate dough* For chocolate cookie dough, do not use almond extract, but instead use 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract. Instead of 2 cups flour, use 1 3/4 cup Gluten-free flour and 1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa.

 

 

 

 

mixing dough for hamentaschenDirections:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

3.  Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat until lighter in color and fluffy.

4.  Combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan in a 1 quart bowl. Add to mixer bowl and mix on medium speed just until the dough starts to hold together.

 

 

 

kneaded dough5.  Very gently knead the dough on a surface lightly floured with additional flour about ten strokes or until the dough is smooth and holds together. Cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

6.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper that have been lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thickness.

Carefully remove one sheet of paper (you might have to scrape some of the dough off if it sticks) and then place dough side down on a board that is heavily covered with confectioner’s sugar. Carefully remove the paper on top and, if necessary dust with additional confectioner’s sugar and lightly roll to make the surface uniform in thickness. (NOTE: This is only necessary if dough was very sticky and pulled apart when removing paper.)

roll out your hamentaschen

cut your dough

7.  Cut the dough into 2 ½ inch circles using the mouth of a glass. Place 1 scant teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Using your thumbs and forefingers shape the hamentaschen. Imagine the circle is a clock; place your two thumbs at 6 o’clock and your forefingers at 2 and 10. Gently bring your fingers together and you will have formed a perfect hamantashen triangle! Pinch the dough together so that the filling is exposed only at the top of the cookie.

shape your hamentaschen

8.  Bake hamentaschen in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Can be stored in a plastic bag or airtight container when cool or freeze for later use. Share with friends! Happy Purim!

ready to bake hamentaschen

 

chocolate gluten free hamentaschen

Honey Zimsterne “Star” Cookies

  

Holiday zimsterne cookiesFood 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 after 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.

Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Zimsterne Cookies

Makes 4 or more dozen depending on size of cookie

Ingredients:

ingredients4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup honey

5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. ground ginger

Confectioner’s sugar for rolling out dough

Decorative Icing:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

ÂĽ teaspoon vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. milk

Directions:

1.   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.  Combine the baking soda and spices with 1 cup of the flour. Set aside.

3.  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.  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.

Cutting cookies

star cookie cutter5.  Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly dust a pastry board with some confectioner’s sugar. Roll the dough out on the board to ¼ inch thickness.

6.  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:

How to make icing

1.  Place the cup of confectioner’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.

Iced zimsterne cookies2.  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.

Tina’s Tidbits:

  • Children love to cut out cookies and transfer them to the cookie sheet. A trick to prevent the dough from dragging on the spatula and losing its shape is to rub a scrap of dough on the spatula and then dip the spatula in some of the confectioner’s sugar before you transfer the cookie onto the baking sheet.

 

  • Using a rolling pin is often challenging for young hands. However, rolling pin bands of varying thickness are sold that fit on the ends of the rolling pin to ensure the dough isn’t rolled unevenly.

 

 

The Right Way to Make Potato Latkes

  

Perfect potato latkesIf you have just been asked to make the latkes for your child’s classroom during Hanukkah or the family thinks that you should be in charge of making the potato latkes for the first time, do not despair! I promise you this year you will make the best latkes you, or anyone else has ever had (and that was a quote from the head rabbi of the URJ after he thanked me for my “Tina’s Tidbits”!).

Although there are many stories associated with the triumph of the Maccabees and the redemption of the Holy Temple from the hands of the Syrian armies of Antiochus, the story of the one sealed bottle of oil for the Ner Tamid (everlasting light) in the Temple that lasted for eight days instead of one has been the foundation for traditional holiday cooking. Foods fried in oil have become synonymous with Hanukkah celebrations, especially in Europe.

However, most people do not know that potato latkes (pancakes) were created in the late 1700s and really didn’t take on the symbolism until the early 1800s when potatoes were readily available and raised geese were harvested for their meat and oil at the same time that the holiday was celebrated.

The following recipe, if followed step by step, will be easy to make (no peeling potatoes!), will NOT turn black, and will be crisp and fluffy, not thin and greasy.

One last tip: NEVER refrigerate latkes! Either leave them at room temperature until ready to serve in the evening, or freeze them. Either way, reheat the latkes for 7-10 minutes in a 425°F oven just until they are bubbly and crisp. Your family will praise you and your in-laws will be proud of you (and a little jealous!!!).

Potato Latkes

Ingredients:


latke ingredients

  • 6-8 large thin-skinned potatoes; California long whites or Yukon Gold
  • 3 eggs, beaten well
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup matzo or cracker meal
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
  • Oil for frying

 

 

 

 

Watch a video fo Tina making these latkes with applesauce

Directions:

1.  Grate the raw potatoes using the large grating disk on a processor or the largest holes on a grater if doing it by hand. Place grated potato in a colander, rinse with cold water and drain while you grate the onion.

2.  Combine eggs, salt, pepper and matzo meal in a 3-quart bowl. Mix thoroughly.

3.  Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add onions to the work bowl. Pulse on and off 5 times. Add ¼ of the grated potatoes to the onion and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

rinsing potatoes for latkesLatke mixture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Add the drained potatoes to the bowl and mix thoroughly using a large spoon or your hands.

5.  Heat a large frying pan or large skillet for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat for an additional 20 seconds. Drop mounds of potato mixture into the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Drain fried latkes on a platter covered with crumpled paper towels. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

See part two of Tina’s video tutorial

fried and frying latkes