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 colorful booklet will give all the basics about this holiday which combines elements of Halloween, Mardi Gras and the secular new year. It is a holiday not only for children who know immediately that anything with a costume will be fun, but for adults too.
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.
This is an interactive, fun, and low-key workshop for couples who are dating, engaged or recently married. The sessions will give you a chance to ask questions about faith, to think about where you are as an adult with your own spirituality and to talk through what's important to you and your partner.
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.
Team! It’s getting down to the wire! That’s right . . . Passover is right around the corner. My local kosher grocer has put up the outside tent and is changing all the labels on their shelves and covering up the non-kosher-for-Passover stuff like it’s some sort of eye sore. As the first night seder approaches, I’m already starting the process of cleaning out my cabinets of pasta and other delicious goodies that are a “no-no” during Passover.
I’m constantly in search of a quick, yet delicious dinner to serve on a busy weeknight PLUS I need to get rid of my pasta, so I decided to try my hand at a skillet pasta dish and I’m SO glad I did! The recipe below can be adapted to add anything you like—I used frozen veggies to help clean out the freezer and half boxes of pasta to help clean out my cupboard. What I love about this dish is that it offers a cheesy, delicious meal, plus it helps clean my house, so…win-win!
Fridge-Clean-Out Skillet Pasta
2 cups uncooked penne or corkscrew pasta
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 cup frozen sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 jar favorite marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. Maldon salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1.Preheat oven to 425° F. In a medium pot of salted boiling water, add entire box pasta plus the frozen broccoli and mushrooms. Cook together until pasta is just shy of al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package cooking time. Drain, then transfer pasta and veggies to a large mixing bowl. Add 3/4 of the sauce to the pasta and veggies. Set aside.
2. Add olive oil to an ovenproof skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Once smoking, add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet. Stir to combine pasta and veggies with the onions and garlic. Using a spatula, flatten the pasta so it lays evenly. Add the rest of the sauce to the pasta and evenly top with the cheese. Place skillet in the upper third of the oven. Cook until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 8 – 10 minutes.
Potato kugel is always a hit at holiday meals. Traditionalists enjoy simple potato kugel like their grandmothers used to make, but even so there are debates about whether the kugel should be crunchy and light or soft and compressed. This particular version has a pumpkin custard-like topping and is a mix of sweet and savory. You end up with a little crunch around the edges and a soft filling in the middle. It also lends itself to experimentation—add cumin or za’atar for Middle Eastern flavors, or turmeric or garam masala for an Indian-inspired version.
Potato and Pumpkin Kugel
2-3 large baking potatoes (Russet, Idaho)
2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp of potato or corn starch
1 tsp. of Kosher salt
1 tsp. of pepper, divided
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
15-oz. can of pumpkin purée
12-fl. oz. can of evaporated milk
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 Tbsp. caster/granulated sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. of a spice of your choice, such as garam masala, turmeric, cumin, ginger or za’atar (optional)
Sour cream for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel onion and potatoes and coarsely grate with a box grater over a clean kitchen towel. (Here, I used 3 small potatoes as one large potato.)
3. Over the sink or a bowl, squeeze the towel of grated mixture as hard as you can to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Add 2 ½ Tbsp. oil to a deep pie plate. Put the plate in the oven to heat.
5. Add onion and potato mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle with starch, salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
6. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack one egg into it. Beat the egg with a fork and mix well.
7. Remove the pie plate from the oven, scooping out ½ Tbsp. hot oil. Set aside.
8. With a fork, add the potato mixture to the pie plate. Build up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust. (If you like lots of crunchy potato, make your sides wide.) Drizzle remaining hot oil on top.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
10. Mix pumpkin purée with evaporated milk. Add remaining eggs, cinnamon and sugar.
11. With a measuring cup or ladle, pour pumpkin mixture into potato pie until it reaches the top of the potato edges. (Any extra mixture can be used to make sweet pumpkin flan!)
12. Add remaining ½ tsp. pepper and additional spice, if using, to pumpkin mixture, stirring lightly with a fork to prevent overflow.
13. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If the edges begin to get too dark, cover with foil; the moisture from the pumpkin should help it stay crisp.
14. To make sweet pumpkin flan, add 3 Tbsp. sugar to leftover pumpkin mixture. Pour into oven-safe ramekins and bake for 30 minutes.
15. After removing kugel from oven, let cool slightly and serve with sour cream.
When the Jewish New Year arrives, people often wish their family and friends a “sweet and fruitful New Year.” Because the holiday occurs right at the beginning of apple season, apples are the fruit of choice. People with ancestry from Eastern Europe and Russia ceremoniously dip apple wedges in honey to symbolize this good wish. Sephardic Jews, or Jews who can trace their ancestry back to Spain (“Sepharad” means “Spain” in Hebrew), and especially Turkish Jews, have another custom: dulce de manzana.
Dulce de manzana means “sweet of the apple,” and this delicious rose-scented apple preserve is spread on pieces of challah at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah meal. It is so delicious that any leftovers stored in the refrigerator can be used for weeks as a spread on toast and sandwiches, or even as a base for small custard tarts. If you have an apple peeler (as shown in the photo) your children can help peel the apples while developing their gross motor skills. I also like to use the coarse blade on my food processor. The grating is fast and the apples don’t have time to discolor (although the little bit of lemon juice will rectify that). My last suggestion is to use firm apples as suggested in the recipe. That way the apple strands keep their shape and you won’t end up with applesauce!
DULCE de MANZANA
3 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
2 pounds apples (Granny Smith, Gala or Red Delicious)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp. rosewater or 1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup slivered almonds
1. Place the sugar and water in a 3 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
2. While the mixture is heating, peel the apples and grate them by hand with a coarse grater or use a coarse grating disc on your processor. Immediately add the apples to the hot sugar syrup.
3. Reduce the temperature to medium and allow to cook for 30 -45 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is quite thick. (Note: the amount of time depends on the variety of apple and its juice content.) Stir the mixture occasionally to prevent sticking.
4. While mixture is cooking, toast the almonds in a 350F oven for 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside.
5. When mixture is thickened (it will get thicker when it cools) add the rosewater or the vanilla and place in an open container until cool. The toasted almonds may be added to the mixture or sprinkled on top as a garnish. Refrigerate until serving.
Apples, the symbolic fruit for the Jewish New Year, can find their way onto your holiday menu in many ways. This recipe may not have its origins in Europe or the Middle East, but it plays on the tradition of elevating even the simplest of ingredients into a festive dish.
I serve this as a side for brisket or chicken, but you can also combine it with quinoa or barley as a more substantial side dish or vegetarian main course. Although you can buy a whole butternut squash and peel and cube it yourself, I find it’s worth the time and money to buy the squash already peeled and cubed. You might have to cut some of the chunks into smaller pieces if they’re too large, but otherwise this is a fast and easy dish to make. You don’t even have to peel the apples!
Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
1 large onion
2 apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp or Jonagold)
20 oz. cubed butternut squash (about 4-5 cups of 1-inch cubes)
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. balsamic or pomegranate vinegar
20 grindings of black pepper or to taste
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
¼ cup sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut onion in half and slice each piece crosswise into ½-inch strips. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
3. Using an apple slicer, cut apple into eighths and then cut each wedge into three or four chunks. Add to the onions, along with the squash cubes.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes. If onions are not yet golden and squash is still firm, gently turn the mixture and return to the oven for another 6 minutes, or until done.
5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and serve.
Hamentaschen 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!
For your chocolate filling, you can either follow the instructions below, or use Nutella or Israeli chocolate spread Hashachar H’aole.
¾ stick of unsalted butter
3 oz. chocolate chips + 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3.5 oz. bar of 78% cacao
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon rice flour
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
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
filling of your choice
* 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.
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.
5. 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.)
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.
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!
Sukkot is synonymous with fall fruits and vegetables which are often used to decorate the sukkah. No specific foods are required but using the abundance of our local harvest replicates the Israelites bringing some of the bounty of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem. Making the long trek to the city, the travelers dwelled in temporary huts, or sukkahs, at the base of the Jerusalem hills.
It is customary to sleep and eat in the sukkah for eight days. In many climates this is not advisable, but eating in the temporary hut that has a lattice roof through which to view the stars was mandated in the Talmud on this holiday. Mandate aside, it is customary to invite friends and family to partake of a meal in your own sukkah (or to visit friends who have built one).
Dishes that are easily transported from your kitchen to the table outside are preferred and, of course, including nature’s fall produce is a must. Here is a side dish that can be made dairy with butter or parve (no milk or meat products) if anyone in your sukkah keeps kosher. It is Caribbean in origin, an area of the world where many Jews settled 400 years ago. You can, of course, bake your own sweet potatoes and small pie pumpkin to mash for this sweet potato pumpkin cazuela, but to save time and even allow your young children to help you make this recipe I call for canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes in light or no syrup.
One word of warning: This dish is so very delicious that I would double or triple the ingredients if you are making it for more than four people. And don’t forget Thanksgiving. But, please, hold the marshmallows—this is not a dessert, but could be served with any number of other dishes.
Sweet Potato Pumpkin Cazuela
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
5.6 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (about 2/3 cup)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
1 29-ounce can of yams in light syrup, drained and mashed
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2-inch stick of cinnamon broken into pieces
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
3 whole cloves
1. Place the butter or coconut oil in a 2-quart Pyrex bowl and microwave for 45 seconds.
2. Whisk the sugars, flour and salt into the butter to combine.
3. Whisk the coconut milk into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Add the eggs and combine.
4. Add the pumpkin puree and the mashed yams and whisk until a smooth batter is formed.
5. Combine the water with the spices in a small glass cup and microwave for 3 ½ minutes. Let the spices steep for 5 minutes. Strain the spiced water through a fine mesh strainer into the pumpkin-potato mixture and stir to incorporate.
7. Butter a 2-quart casserole and pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
8. Bake covered in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 1 hour. Serve hot out of the oven or reheated warm or hot.
Sugar pie pumpkins are about 1 ½ pounds and very rounded. Always use them when a recipe calls for cooked pumpkin. Larger pumpkins are more watery.
Coconut milk is not milk or dairy. It is the liquid formed from ground, fresh, hydrated coconut.
Teiglach is an eastern European confection most closely associated with Rosh Hashanah. It was often served for festive occasions such as a wedding, bar mitzvah or bris and in some communities during Shavuot or Simchat Torah because Torah is often equated with honey.
Teig in Yiddish means dough and Lach at the end of a word signifies small. Therefore Teiglach are little balls of baked dough submerged in honey syrup and then mixed with dried or candied cherries or raisins and some nuts (usually almond or hazelnut).
Once readily available in bakeries in large Jewish communities throughout North America, this confection is rapidly disappearing, so whether you were raised Jewish or not, this treat may be new to you. Not to worry if your own family doesn’t have the recipe; Teiglach is easy to make!
Even small children can help make the dough because no electric equipment is required and children enjoy rolling the dough into “snakes” while you can rapidly complete the task. However, children MUST NOT be involved with making the honey syrup, as the high temperature will certainly burn them if they accidentally touch the syrup before it cools. They can watch from afar and measure the awaiting dried fruit and nuts, but an adult must work alone while making the syrup and mixing all of the ingredients together.
The Teiglach may be served in a large pyramid or a few coated balls spooned into little paper cups. It is meant to be eaten with the fingers, pulling the balls off one by one and definitely licking one’s fingers afterwards!
3 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons water
2 1/2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound wildflower honey (any honey is O.K. but wildflower is the best)
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ginger
1 piece of orange zest 2″ long 1/2 inch wide
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup candied cherries or raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, oil, water and vanilla and beat with a fork or whisk until light and combined. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, ginger and baking powder.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until well combined.
4. Knead with your hands for a few minutes until dough is smooth and shiny. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
5. Roll out small balls of dough into long 1/2-inch wide snakes and cut into 1/3 inch pieces. Roll dough pieces briefly in your hands to make balls and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely or freeze until later use.
6. When you are ready to complete recipe, combine the honey, sugar, orange zest and ginger in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the teiglach balls, nuts and cherries or raisins to the honey mixture and stir to coat well. Place in a pie plate or individual tart tins mounded to form a pyramid.
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 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.