Ponchiki: Polish Cheese Doughnut Holes

  

PonchikiThere are two stories associated with Hanukkah: One tells how the vial of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted for eight, and the other is the story of Judith and how she saved her town from annihilation at the hands of General Holefernes by getting him drunk on salty cheese and wine until he passed out and was killed. The latter story is not often told in Hebrew school (for good reason!), but the holiday’s culinary tradition of eating foods prepared with cheese is widespread throughout Mediterranean Jewish communities.

Doughnuts, or sufganiot as they are called in Israel, are a Sephardi treat. Ponchiki, however, are traditionally made in Poland and Eastern Europe, the area where Ashkenazi Jews came from. So this recipe not only combines two culinary traditions and two cultural areas of Judaism, it also fulfills the holiday traditions of consuming fried foods and cheese.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 7.5-ounce packages Friendship Dairies Farmer Cheese or 2 cups homemade farmer’s cheese (see recipe below)
  • 3-4 cups corn or vegetable oil for frying

 

Directions:

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a one-quart bowl. Set aside.

2.  Whisk the egg in a two-quart bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to whisk until foamy and well combined.

ponchiki: whisk

add the cheese3.  Add the cheese and whisk vigorously to break it down into small particles, thoroughly combining it with the egg mixture.

4.  Add the flour mixture and stir with the whisk or a spatula until no particles of flour are visible.

5.  Heat the oil in a small, deep fryer or in a two-quart saucepan to a temperature of 375ºF. If necessary, add enough oil to come to a depth of about two inches. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you’ll know the oil is ready when a little bit of dough rolls in the oil and begins to brown.

 

 

Fry your doughnuts6. Using a small spring ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon and rubber spatula, scoop up some dough and drop it into the hot oil. Don’t fry more than six balls at a time so the oil temperature remains constant. Turn doughnut holes over, if necessary, to brown on all sides. Doughnuts will be done after about three minutes. If holes are browning too fast, lower the heat slightly.

7.  Crumple paper towels on a plate to drain the holes of excess oil. While still warm, toss them in confectioner’s sugar or in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

They are best eaten warm but will stay crisp for a few hours.

 

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese

Makes about two to three cups.

Ingredients:

  • ½ gallon whole or 2 percent milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cheesecloth

 

Directions:

1.  Bring milk and buttermilk to a simmer. Add the salt and continue to cook until the ingredients separate into curds and whey.

2.  Scoop up the cheese with a skimmer or small strainer and place in a large double-mesh strainer or colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. Let the cheese sit so any excess moisture can drip out, then bring the edges of the cloth together and twist them to force out any leftover moisture.

3.  Refrigerate the cheese until ready to use in a recipe, or eat with jam on toast.

For more Hanukkah recipes, click here

Dulce de Manzana

  

dulce_apple_peeling_650_croppedWhen 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_ingredients_650Dulce 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

Ingredients:

  • 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

 

Directions:

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.

dulce_apples_in_pot_650

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.

dulce_on_stove_650

 

Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

  

Challah for the Jewish New Year is special—round to celebrate the circle of life and sweet (typically with raisins) in the hope of a sweet year. For the occasion, I make what I call my cinnamon roll challah, with rum-soaked raisins (an homage to Italian desserts featuring rum) and a pretty swirl of brown sugar and cinnamon inside.

cinnamon raisin challah whole

Rosh Hashanah Cinnamon Roll Challah with an Italian Twist

Recipe reprinted with permission from Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life

Yield: Two large loaves. (Dairy with butter or Pareve with margarine or oil.)

Ingredients:

Dough

  • Cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil for coating the bowl and plastic wrap
  • ½ cup rum
  • ½ cup (generous) dark raisins
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 1 cup very warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (with one yolk reserved for topping), room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (or margarine or oil), softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5½ to 6½ cups bread flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1½ tsp. salt

 

Filling

  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

 

Egg Wash

  • Reserved egg yolk from dough recipe
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cold water

 

Directions:

1. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.

2. Heat rum in the microwave or on stovetop until hot. Pour over raisins to submerge them completely. Let stand about 10 minutes. Drain and discard the rum and pat the raisins dry. Set aside.

3. Dissolve the yeast and the warm water in a large bowl, about five minutes. Mix in the sugar, three whole eggs and the one egg white, butter and vanilla. Stir in 2½ cups of the flour and the salt, and combine well. Then add 2½ more cups of flour and mix well. Add additional flour as needed to form a cohesive dough.

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Press the dough into a large thick disk, and insert a handful of the raisins, spaced apart. Fold the dough over the raisins and flatten again; continue inserting raisins this way until all are incorporated and well distributed.

5. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, then lift out, turn over, and place it (oiled side up) back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1½ to 2 hours.

6. Uncover the dough and press down on the middle to deflate. Cover and let rest for a few minutes.

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Prepare the filling by stirring together the brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla extract and the melted butter or margarine.

8. Divide the dough in half. Return one half to the bowl and cover. Place the other half on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large rectangle, about 20 inches long by 9 to 10 inches wide. Brush a thin layer of the butter over the dough. Then sprinkle with half the brown sugar mixture.

9. Starting at one long edge of the dough, roll it (jelly-roll style) gently but firmly to the other edge. Press the seam and ends to seal. Gently pull and roll this log until it is about 24 inches long, keeping the original thickness on one end and gradually narrowing the other end. Twine the narrow end around the larger end to make a large pinwheel. Press the loose end to seal. Gently press down on the top of the entire loaf to level it.

10. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the reserved egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water to combine. Brush on shaped loaves. Gently cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes, until nearly doubled. Halfway through the rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

11. Bake for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 15 to 18 minutes, until loaf sounds hollow when tapped (the interior should be between 185 and 190 degrees). Some of the sugar mixture might seep out and create a sweet undercrust, which I consider ideal. Serve the same day or freeze.

cinnamon raisin challah sliced

 

marcia_friedman_smallMarcia Friedman is the author of Meatballs and Matzah Balls: Recipes and Reflections from a Jewish and Italian Life. She continues to write about her journey and the intersection of Jewish and Italian food at meatballsandmatzahballs.com.

Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch

  

Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch

My last salad took us all the way to Israel, but this summer salad with a twist takes us to the American Midwest and the birthplace of ranch salad dressing. Nebraska is where America’s favorite dressing made its début. Meanwhile in the Northeast, this time of year, Maine is overflowing with blueberries. This salad features blueberries as a sweet burst in the salad mix itself and a purée of blueberries in the ranch dressing.

Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch

Ingredients:Blueberry ranch dressing

Blueberry Ranch Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of mayo
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries (buy a pint because you’ll use more in the salad)
  • 2 tsp. of dried dill
  • 10 chives minced
  • 1/4 cup of minced parsley, about 1/2 a bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • up to 1/4 cup of milk
  • salt
  • pepper

 

Summer Blueberry Salad

  • 5 oz. of greens (1/2 arugula and 1/2 baby spinach or baby kale or other greens)
  • 1 1/4 cups of walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 of a red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pint of blueberries

 

Directions:

1. Wash your pint of blueberries. In a small pot add 1/4 cup of blueberries. Put the lid on the pot and cook on low until the juices begin to bubble a little. Squash the blueberries with a fork as they are cooking. Let the blueberries cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat. Put the purée into a small bowl and let it cool. Chill in the refrigerator while you continue preparing the salad.

2. Wash the greens and add them to a serving bowl.

3. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast 1 1/4 cups of walnuts. Once the walnuts become fragrant you will need to watch them closely so they do not burn. Shake the pan to move and turn the walnuts a little. Set the nuts aside to cool.

4. Peel and thinly slice 1/4 of the red onion.

5. Add about 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries to the greens.

6. Once the blueberry purée has cooled, you can continue making the blueberry ranch dressing.

7. Wash and dry 10 chives and about 1/2 a bunch of parsley. Mince the chives and parsley. You should have about 1/4 cup of minced parsley.

8. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Add in 1 clove of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper: 1/2 tsp of each or to taste. Mix together until smooth and uniform.

9. Add in the chives, the dried dill and minced parsley. Then, stir in the chilled puréed blueberries.

10. Stir in up to 1/4 cup of milk until you have the desired consistency. One quarter cup will make a fairly thin ranch dressing. If you like a thicker dressing, add less.

11. In the serving bowl, add 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries, the sliced red onion and the cooled toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the blueberry ranch salad dressing and serve.

Blueberries, walnuts and red onion make a perfect contrast with the greens in this salad.  The creamy ranch dressing brings it all together.

Israeli Orzo Salad with Pesto Dressing

  

Salad is an interesting dish, but we often think of it in its humblest form: the side salad with a few leaves of lettuce and maybe a few add-ons soaked in dressing. In reality though, salad can be a hundred different dishes. There are salads with grains, salads with noodles, salads that are grilled, salads topped with steak or salmon. In North America, we typically think of salads with lettuce or greens, but Israeli salads are usually perfectly cubed vegetables like sweet, slightly acidic tomatoes (technically a fruit!), refreshing cucumbers, a little onion if you like and maybe some peppers.

Israeli Orzo Salad with Parsley Feta Pesto

This Orzo salad is a twist on a classic Israeli salad of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. The Italian rice-like pasta orzo is added in with the vegetables, and a pesto of parsley, almonds and feta creates the sauce and seasoning for this tasty summer salad. Pesto comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to crush. A pesto is a delicious paste of crushed herbs and and spices. For this salad you can add in any additional vegetables you like.

Israeli Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of blanched almonds
  • 1 cup of curly parsley, stems removed
  • 1/2 lb of feta, divided
  • 2 small cloves of garlicSAMSUNG CSC
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes OR 3 cups of cherry tomatoes, OR a combination of both
  • 3 cups of chopped cucumbers
  • 1/2 lb of uncooked orzo
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 a green pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup of pitted olives, optional

Directions:

1.  In a large pot, boil water and add a tablespoon of salt.

2.  While the water is boiling, wash and dry your parsley. Add your parsley, blanched almonds, garlic and a 1/4 pound of the feta to a blender or food processor. Add in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Purée together to make your pesto.

3.  Once the water comes to a boil, cook the orzo as directed on the box (about 7-9 minutes usually).

4.  Drain the pasta and mix in 1/2 of the pesto, then toss to coat.SAMSUNG CSC

5.  While the pasta cools to room temperature, wash a cut your vegetables. You want the tomatoes, cucumber and optional green pepper to be about 1/- inch cubes.

6.  Once the orzo has cooled, toss in all the vegetables. Toss in the zest of one lemon and the rest of the pesto. Crumble the rest of the feta cheese (or less to taste) over the top of the salad and sprinkle on the olives (optional).

SAMSUNG CSC

This salad makes a perfect lunch alone, or serve with some grilled fish or meat for dinner.

Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

  

Buffalo quinoa burgers

I was raised on a healthy diet of my mom’s homemade buffalo wings. I remember the first time I had a ‘hot’ wing. She had brought home some leftovers from what would become our favorite wing spot, The Three Dollar Cafe. I remember taking my first bite. I remember my lips seemingly on fire but tingly with joy all at once. What was this spicy wing of deliciousness and where can I get more!?

Luckily for me, my mom was just as in love with hot wings as I was and luckily for us, my mom had gotten a buffalo wing recipe from a random man in a shoe store and so, a family recipe was born. My mom’s wings are hot and tangy and sweet and spicy. They pair perfectly with blue cheese. However, now that I keep kosher, there is no pairing of blue cheese and hot wings. Therefore, I’ve had to come up with alternatives to bring my favorite pairings to life. This vegetarian version is great for bringing to a picnic, serving your family on Shabbat or simply disguising a healthy weekday meal with a punch of flavor.

You’ll see that this recipe does not include blue cheese but I do recommend it. Heck, me being me, I recommend ANY AND ALL CHEESE. I also recommend having fun with your toppings. I enjoy some bread and butter pickles and some classic mayonnaise and maybe some grilled onions. But truly, the best thing about these burgers are that they can be built to your taste buds. Enjoy!

Quinoa burgers with toppingsBuffalo Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup Cannelloni beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 6 Tbsp. Canola oil

 

Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the quinoa, mashed Cannelloni beans, bread crumbs, egg, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 balled patties (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball).

3. In a skillet, heat 4 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat. Wait until oil is hot and then add 2 quinoa burger balls in at a time. Using a flat spatula, press down the ball until a thick patty forms.

4. Cook until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the an optional layer of cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil into the skillet after the first batch of burgers is cooked.

buffalo quinoa burgers and fixings

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:

  • 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

 

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 doughFor 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

Barking Up the Valentine’s Day Tree

  

By Mari Levine

chocbark1_large

I’ve run the gamut of Valentine’s Day experiences. And while I’m rather indifferent to the general idea of the holiday, no celebration I’ve had as an adult has ever matched the ones from when I was a kid. I remember the excitement of picking out the perfect cards (in my case, always Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed), choosing which type of candy to attach to them, and then matching the message on the card to each of my classmates’ personalities.

This year, I was thinking about the adult equivalent of those childhood valentines. Now, instead of a classroom, most of us spend our days in an office. Instead of classmates, we have coworkers. And while I’m all for injecting a bit of youthful fun into the workplace, I draw the line at giving my colleagues cartoon cards that call them “dudette” and asking them to be my “mondo Valentine.” (That’s Ninja Turtle speak for “I like you.”) I wanted to bring back the Valentine’s Day tradition of bringing in treats for everyone, but this year I didn’t have time to make any quintessential adult sweets, such as homemade truffles or caramels.

Enter chocolate bark. This sweet can get pigeonholed as a December treat, but it’s easy to make (only four ingredients!), attractive to wrap and appealing to eat all year round. My coworkers will be noshing on this version, with pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and coconut, but the toppings are easy to change based on your recipients’ tastes.

Chocolate Bark with Pepitas and Coconut

Makes eight 1-ounce portions

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Maldon sea salt

 

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Stirring frequently, toast coconut in small skillet over medium heat. Once coconut turns the color of straw, transfer to small bowl to cool.

3. Add chocolate to medium, heatproof bowl and set over pot of simmering water. (Do not let water touch bottom of bowl.) Stirring frequently, heat chocolate until fully melted. Quickly pour onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet and tilt pan until distributed evenly, but not covering entire pan. (Otherwise your bark will be too thin.)

4. Sprinkle coconut, pepitas and salt, to taste, evenly over chocolate. Transfer to refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and break into 1-ounce portions.

chosenfinal290pxcolor_largeReprinted with permission from JewishBoston.com. Chosen Eats appears every Thursday on JewishBoston.com.

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.