Chili-Free Chili

Recently, I participated in a video conference for write-from-home mothers. One of the tips offered in the lesson on time management was to realize that there is no such thing as a “normal” week for a mother. Over the week since I heard this, one night was eaten up with a class parents meeting, another with parent-teacher conferences, and another with an attempted bonfire. I had kids home on school vacation for two days, and when I took the baby to the doctor this morning, I was told he needs a minor surgical procedure tomorrow. Totally normal week. Because different things always come up. I hope that viewing my schedule in this way will reduce a lot of frustration normally caused by the little things that mess up a rigid schedule in a big way, otherwise known as real life.

Monday was the official school vacation day given for Lag BaOmer for most of the schools in the country. It was also International Museum Day. That magic combination meant that dozens of museums around the country opened their doors to the public free of charge and were swamped with over-tired children and exhausted parents. Even though my two-year-old was home on Sunday and had preschool on Monday, I took her along on the family trip to Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. It is the most kid-friendly museum in the capital, and with rotating exhibits and guest exhibits, there is always something new for the kids to touch, build, poke, or test.

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exhibit comparing different types of wheat and other grains (taken with my left hand while holding baby)

 

 

On this museum visit, I was excited to find a new exhibit all about food! We saw plants with different types of roots, honeycombs built around plates and toys, towers of packaged food, comparisons of different types of wheat, and tubes of Spirulina (algae)–the most nutrient-dense food on the planet.  In the same room as the wheat, there was a glass-topped table filled with different types of legumes. Since I’m trying to vary my kids’ diet beyond whole wheat pasta with cottage cheese and ketchup or scrambled eggs and couscous, I called them over to look at the beans. Supposedly, when children participate more in food choice preparation, they are more open to try new things. I challenged them each to choose a legume for me to take for supper later in the week–green lentils, red lentils, yellow lentils, white beans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, split peas, chickpeas, etc. I got a few upturned noses, but my five-year-old was really excited about the red kidney beans. So I made chili tonight.

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I wanted the kids to actually eat the chili, so I kept it mild. There was a chili recipe on the back of the package, which I adapted slightly. Ironically, chili powder is not easy to find in Israel. So I made chili without chili powder. It was still delicious. Half of my kids even ate it.

Chili-Free Chili Recipe
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
2 1/4 cups pre-soaked beans (from 1 cup dried)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 hot pepper, diced (optional; I didn’t use)
1 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
100 grams (a little less than 1/2 cup) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup diced scallions, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot. Saute onion and garlic.
  2. Add beans, spices, and two cups water. Simmer for about an hour. If using canned beans, skip this step and move on to step 3.
  3. Add the peppers, corn, tomato paste, and one more cup of water. Simmer for another hour.
  4. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  5. Serve over brown rice, garnished with scallions.

*I made this on the stove-top, but it would work great in a slow-cooker (which I have never used, so I can’t give details).

Like Mexican food? Try Vegan Burritos with Easy Refried Beans

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Posted in A Taste of..., Stovetop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Green Salad with Avocado Dressing

Kermit said it best: It’s not easy being green.  I love a colorful table. Vegetables of different colors each contain high amounts of different vitamins and nutrients, and dietitians and nutritionists will recommend eating from the different categories of fruits and vegetables. Red, orange and yellow, blue and purple, and of course green vegetables all contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.  Usually, I like to mix them up. I even throw yellow pepper into classic Israeli salad. Sometimes, though, you just need something clean and green.

green detox salad

This salad is all green, and it tastes even better than it looks, thanks to the creamy avocado dressing. My green leafy base is Romaine lettuce, but spinach would work well in this salad, too. I added parsley, cucumber, avocado chunks, and crunchy green pumpkin seeds for a variety of textures. The starring flavor in this salad is the lemony avocado dressing, which also makes the salad more filling. One color but tons of taste!

avocado dressing

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

If you pass this salad over for the ones full of fruits, nuts, and crushed Doritos, you will be sorry.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

greendetoxsalad

Green Salad with Avocado Dressing
4 generous servings

For the salad:
3 cups Romaine lettuce, torn OR baby spinach leaves
1 cup parsley, chopped
2 small cucumbers, sliced
1/2 large, ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 cup  green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

For the dressing:
1/2 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Cut salad ingredients and put in large bowl.
  2. Put dressing ingredients in good processor or blender and process until smooth. Don’t try to save time by skipping the lemon zest because it adds soooo much flavor. Likewise, the garlic should be crushed so you don’t end up with chunks that the blender blades missed.

    Enjoy!

Avocado fan? Try these recipes:

Ratatouille-Inspired Mediterranean Grain Bowl

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Sunny Avocado Salad

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Vegan Burritos with Easy Refried Beans

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Posted in Salad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Matbucha

Budget Tip #1: Waste Not, Want Not

I had some tomatoes and peppers that were starting to look over the hill, not rotten or moldy, but definitely tired. Normally, I use vegetables like this in soup or tomato sauce. It’s been heating up, however, and I don’t want to be eating a lot of hot food. So, for the first time ever, I made matbucha, mild matbucha. Sefardim might scoff at the lack of spice in this traditional Morrocan dip, but my family liked it better than store-bought matbucha. The ripe vegetables give the dip a sweet taste, and the garlic and paprika flavors are prominent.

Matbucha is usually spread on challah or pita, along with chummus, and other salads. However, it is also delicious on pasta salad or eaten straight from a bowl with a spoon.

I have known many women over the years who made all of their own dips and spreads. One used to put up a big pot of matbucha on Friday morning and let it cook all day. I did a little recipe-perusing and a little kitchen-testing and discovered that making home-made matbucha is really quite simple. I will definitely do this again.

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Matbucha Recipe
Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bell peppers (I used 1 orange and 1 red), chopped
5  ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 hot pepper, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a small pot. Saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve on challah or pita, along with your favorite dips.

Looking for other dips and spreads? Try these:
Pull-Apart Roasted Garlic Eggplant

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Poor Man’s Pesto

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Pesto spread on cracker

Sunny Avocado Salad

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Posted in Salad, Sauces, Sides | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citizenship, Stalactite Caves, and Star Cupcakes

Twelve years ago, on May 3, 2005, I became officially Israeli. I had already been living in Israel for a year and a half, but I updated my status to “citizen.” The whole thing was rather anti-climactic–no Nefesh B’Nefesh hats, no speeches, no groups of dancing Israeli soldiers, not even a friend flying with me, just a couple of representatives from AACI and the Jewish Agency holding a sign with my name, waiting to walk me to the absorption office in the airport. I stood in the small, windowless office, daydreaming about sleep while answering basic questions posed by the clerk. When I told her the address of my college dorm, she looked up from the computer. “I studied there thirty years ago!” she exclaimed. “Wonderful institution. Is the founder still teaching?” I answered in the affirmative. Israel really is, in many ways, like one big family. That was a truly special welcome.

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Yesterday was Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s 69th Independence Day. It’s a day when every park is full of charcoal smoke and every highway clogged with cars, a day to get out and enjoy the land we so appreciate. With two kids who get carsick, one toilet training, and one nursing, we were not ready for a major road trip yesterday. Instead, we found someplace close to home where none of us had been before, the Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve. It was spectacular!

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What planet are we on?

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Stalactite “petting corner”

Walking among these natural wonders, ironically felt like walking through the set of a fantasy movie. Gentle, artificial lighting that changed colors every few seconds lit up the walkway as well as the large and small mineral formations in the cave. There are long, thin stalactites that resemble spaghetti but are called macaroni because they are hollow. The ground is covered with rock colonies that look like coral or gray broccoli. This is the small stuff. Many of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites jutting up from the ground are bigger than me. One thing I was not expecting was the 95% humidity and wet floor in the cave. I should have realized that if stalactites are formed by water seeping through the rock above the cave the cave would be wet, but I didn’t think about it much. Our guided tour in the cave was about an hour long, enough time to enjoy without being dragged out and the kids getting bored.

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Stalactite, meet stalagmite.

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The icing on the cake cave

We ended the day attending a double birthday party, triple if you count Israel’s 69th. How could I not make cupcakes? In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut, I baked the cupcakes in blue and white striped holders and marbleized six-pointed star shapes in the centers. They are pretty standard vanilla cupcakes, but the applesauce and whole wheat flour lend a slightly earthy flavor. Happy birthday!

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Marble Cupcakes Recipe
Yield: 30 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (70%)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
*1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. The batter will be thick at this point.
  4. Add a cup of water (or juice or milk of choice) and stir into batter, being careful not to splash.
  5. Spoon batter into 30 greased cupcake holders. Leave about two tablespoons of batter in the bowl.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  7. Mix cocoa into the end of the batter. Use a teaspoon to drop a tiny bit of chocolate cake batter into the center of each cupcake.
  8. To form the stars: Using a toothpick or the blade of a knife, gently pull across the surface, out from the middle of the chocolate drop towards the edge of the cupcake, in six directions. Do not dip the toothpick or knife deep down into the cupcake.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.

*If you want to make regular marble cupcakes, twice as much cupcake batter in the bowl and double the amount of cocoa powder. Drop more generously, and dip as deeply as you want while marbleizing.

 

Posted in A Taste of..., Baked Goods, sweets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Yom Hazikaron

I remember my first trip to Israel, summer 2001. On my program of about 100 girls, there were four Israelis. We were headed up north when Sbarro’s Pizzeria was bombed. The bus turned around to drop off two girls at a gas station, to meet their parents, who took them to the funeral of their friend Malki Roth.

I remember my first year in Israel. In September 2003, just a few days after arriving, from my seminary near Shaarei Tzedek hospital, we heard the sirens announcing the bombing of Cafe Hillel and the death of Naava Applebaum and her father, the night before her wedding. All year, the sirens continued, at first every few days, then slowing to once every few weeks.

I remember the summer of 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, my date cancelled to attend the funeral of American lone soldier Michael Levin.

I remember the evening in 2008 when a terrorist walked into my husband’s yeshiva with a machine gun hidden in a box and killed Neria Cohen, Segev Pniel Avichayil, Avraham David Moses, Yehonatan Yitzchak Eldar, Ro’i Roth, Yohai Lipshitz, Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld, and Doron Mahareta.

I remember the morning, a year and one week after our wedding, when my husband stepped into a uniform the color of his eyes and out the door. I knew that uniform makes a prime target. He returned with a gun and a sunburn, week after week, for six months, thank G-d. A war broke out during that time, but since he was still in training, he didn’t need to fight.

I remember the polite, eager learner in the ninth grade who sat in the front row. A few months after I stopped teaching in her school, Odelya was waiting for a bus home when a bomb hidden in the garbage can beside her exploded. Last I heard, Odelya Nechama bat Michal had been in a coma for over five years.

I remember the relief I felt when my husband’s reserve duty, scheduled for the summer my fourth child was born, was cancelled. Rockets started flying at Jerusalem just days before the birth. In the hospital waiting room, while I counted contractions, he joked, “What if I got called up now?” Not funny. His cousin, due a month after me, spent those weeks sick with worry over her husband in Gaza, who was released shortly before the birth. Many of our friends or their husbands were called up, and all I knew personally came back, but not all without PTSD still plaguing them years later.

I remember sirens the morning I left my first-grader to wait for a bus to school in a neighborhood where five rabbis were being slaughtered while standing in prayer. One of them, Aryeh Kupinsky, my teacher’s son and a man of large stature, tried to fight off the attackers and give others time to escape.

I remember the car that rammed into the bus stop down the block, the teenagers caught with knives about to enter the synagogue around the corner, the stabbings at the Central Bus Station, the sirens, more sirens, always sirens.

Tonight, we will celebrate the country’s independence. Today, we remember those who paid the price for this country with their lives. At eleven o’clock, another siren will sound, and the whole country will stand and remember.

Posted in A Taste of..., Food for Thought | Tagged | 2 Comments

Pull-Apart Roasted Garlic Eggplant

Every year, after Pesach, I try to cook healthier. When the kitchen is already empty, it’s the perfect time to pass over the junk when I’m restocking. I think, this will finally be the year when I stop buying white flour, white, sugar, cornflakes, and soy hot dogs and feed my children homemade veggie burgers, whole grains, and leafy greens. In reality, this transition is going slowly. When we restocked last week, the only white flour items we bought were pretzels and bread– whole wheat sandwiches sent with then kids just become parent supper. We bought cornflakes, but the kind that is 98% corn, not 86%. Baby steps.

I’m trying to introduce new vegetables to my kids in different forms, hoping something will catch on. Last week, I tried disguising eggplant as lasagna. At least they all tasted a bite before saying, “Can I have macaroni and cheese?”

One nice thing about hosting is that it’s an excuse for me to make foods that I like (vegetables) that some (all) of my immediate family won’t touch. After my high hopes for eggplant lasagna becoming a new family favorite were dashed, I was left with a big, beautiful eggplant, which I cooked and served on Shabbat. I recently saw a video demonstrating a method of baking eggplant that almost cubes it, with toppings stuffed in the cracks. The whole thing is wrapped in foil and baked until it’s spreadable. I used this method, with my own seasonings.

This garlic eggplant is delicious spread on challah, and the whole eggplant looks beautiful on the table.

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Pull-Apart Roasted Garlic Eggplant Recipe
Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
1 whole head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2-3 teaspoons dried oregano, basil, thyme, or other herbs of choice

Directions: (See pictures in post above.)

  1. Wash eggplant. Cut into one-inch/2cm cubes most of the way down, leaving the cubes attached at the bottom. You want the eggplant to stay whole. It will look somewhat like a checkerboard.
  2. Lay eggplant on a large piece of foil. Peel all the garlic, delegate a sous chef (This was my job as a kid.), or use about 12 cloves of pre-peeled garlic. Slice each clove into 2-3 pieces. Stuff the garlic into all the lines of the checkerboard.
  3. Put the eggplant, with the foil, into a loaf pan. Brrush with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and herbs of choice. I used oregano, basil, and thyme.
  4. Wrap foil tightly over eggplant, enclosing it completely. Bake at 350F/180C for about an hour, until soft.
  5. The baked eggplant should be soft and spreadable. Serve whole beside other spreads, like Poor Man’s Pesto and Sunny Avocado Salad.

If you like eggplant, you might also like:

Half-Roasted Ratatouille Salad

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Ratatouille-Inspired Mediterranean Grain Bowl

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Posted in Salad, Sides | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Baby Sweet Potatoes

What does rejection taste like? Horseradish? Pickles?  Or does it taste like classic comfort food? I’m thinking chocolate. Healthier Lava Cookies or “Emergency” Cookies would really hit the spot. Even healthy Gluten-Free No-Bake Brownie Bites.

I, however, was not rejected today; I am actually feeling quite loved. Halfway through my morning coffee, I got a call from the babysitter. My seven-month-old baby had started crying ten minutes after I dropped him off and hadn’t stopped yet an hour later. For the second time this month, Baby got dumped. I understand. The baby refuses to take a bottle or pacifier, so they refuse to take him. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to watch a baby who screamed for an hour straight, either. Still…I was kind of looking forward to sitting down and drinking a whole cup of coffee.

Change of plans. I made baby food this morning. If he’s not going to take bottles, we need to focus more on solids. I whipped up a batch of his favorite, sweet potato, and froze it in an ice cube tray for easy portioning. The baby food cubes can be defrosted to use on their own or mixed with other foods.

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I have an issue with most ice cube trays. I don’t like my ice, or my baby food, to taste like freezer. A couple years ago, I was given this covered ice cube tray. (I’m not selling it or making a commission from any ice cube tray companies, just sharing my personal opinion.) There is a cover with a hatch in the middle to pour in water. So the ice tastes like ice, not freezer.

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Baking sweet potato, as opposed to boiling, retains the most flavor. Baked sweet potato can also just be mashed, which is what I do when I’m being lazy (which is most of the time), but pureeing it is better because it breaks up the tough fibers that cause trouble for the toothless. A little boiled water (The water used in baby food should be boiled first to kill germs. ) makes the consistency smoother and easier to spoon-feed.

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Voila! Comfort food for a rejected baby.

Homemade Baby Sweet Potato Recipe
fills 1 ice cube tray

1 cup baked sweet potato (about 1 medium)
1/3 cup boiled water

Directions:

  1. Wash sweet potato and wrap in foil. Bake at 350F/180C for about an hour, until very soft.
  2. Remove peel. Put sweet potato in blender or food processor. Blend for about a minute.
  3. Scrape down sides and add water. Blend until smooth.
  4. Spoon into clean ice cube tray and freeze for later use.
  5. Remove as many cubes as desired and defrost by adding a little hot water and mixing.
Posted in Fast Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sunday night supper: leftover chicken soup. “I just have a quarter of a zucchini peel in my bowl!” my son complains about his second bowl.

“That’s what there is,” my husband replies. “It’s Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Do you know what kind of soup the Jews ate in the Holocaust? The Nazis fed Jews soup made from a giant pot of water and one potato peel.”

“One potato peel for the whole pot of soup?” The kids don’t really understand the point my husband is trying to make about appreciating what we have and not complaining so much. “So who got the potato peel?” my daughter asks.

“Whoever got the potato peel was very lucky,” my husband answers.

Apparently the kids are still in question-mode since seder night. Who made the soup? Who were the Nazis? What country were they from? Why did they feed the Jews so little? They wanted them to die? If they wanted them to die, why not just kill them? Oh, they did that, too? So, why feed them first and not just kill them right away? Slaves–like the slaves to Pharoah in Egypt? Oh, ok.

Cringing at the directness of these questions, I try to juggle them all, keeping in mind that a five-year-old and seven-year-old don’t need nightmare-inducing details at bedtime, while remaining truthful and open. I want them to know that our nation has suffered terribly, that individuals suffered terribly and lost their lives. Yet, they are still young and vulnerable. I don’t want to traumatize them, to paralyze them with fear. I have my own questions. How do we know when is the right time to tell them, and how much? Will they tell their friends at school? Do they associate themselves, as Jews, with Jews of previous generations?

They are too young to hear many details. Each answer widens their eyes and brings more questions. I feed them answers slowly, one spoon at a time.

Posted in Food for Thought | Leave a comment

The Key to Perfect Challah

This post is dedicated to a fast and complete recovery for Michal bat Esther Miriam and Michal Leah bat Baila Hadas.

For the Shabbat after Pesach (Passover), many people have the custom of baking challah in the shape of a key or with a key baked into the dough. Called shlissel challah, these loaves symbolize the fact that G-d “holds the key” to our sustenance, and they are supposed to be a good omen for a successful livelihood. The sources for how and when this custom started are unclear, but its popularity has been growing in recent years. I have baked challah in the shape of a key a few times, not because I believe in omens, but because I find food-related traditions fun.

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6-strand challah loaves, left with sesame, right with zaatar

What I do believe in is prayer. I believe in a direct connection to G-d, Who is always available to listen. I also believe in mitzvot, following the commandments in the Torah. An older, more common challah tradition than shlissel challah is praying for others right before performing the mitzvah of separating challah from the dough. The merit of the mitzvah adds strength to our prayers. Think of it like a kid asking a parent for a treat after sharing his toys with his brother or after getting in a fight with his brother. As a mother, I can tell you when I’m more likely to say yes.

Usually, I bake challah about once a month. I use two kilograms (about 14 cups) of flour in order to have enough dough to separate challah with a blessing. (See the link above or here for more details about the mitzvah of separating challah.) This much dough makes at least seven loaves, so I freeze whatever we are not eating right away. I like to pray for others when I separate challah, but sometimes I am rushed, forget, or I have too many little fingers in the bowl with mine to concentrate on anything. What I have seen from my personal experience is that the times I pray for others, the challah tastes better.

The mitzvah of separating challah has become more special to me since I have been living in Israel. This is partly for a technical reason–I’ve been baking a lot more challah since I moved to Israel than when I lived in the US. Even before I was married, however, the mitzvah of separating challah intrigued me. I wrote a term paper about challah when I was nineteen and hadn’t even met my husband. Challah is one of the mitzvot that is dependent on the Land  of Israel. Unlike certain other agricultural mitzvot, it is also performed outside of Israel. However, in Israel, the mitzvah of separating challah is a Torah obligation, while outside Israel, it is a rabbinic obligation. For now. This is true while the majority of world Jewry lives outside of Israel, as the case is now. With the high assimilation rate in America and the relatively high birth rate in Israel, in addition to continued aliyah of Jews from around the world to Israel, the balance may soon be tipped, and the majority of the Jews in the world will live in Israel. This could have a practical effect on the mitzvah of taking challah worldwide!

The loaves pictured above were baked a few years ago, but it is the same recipe I always use and the one I’m sharing with you today. I actually haven’t even bought flour yet since Pesach ended. It is on my list of things to do in the next 24 hours. I’ll probably decide on the spot what shape to form my challah loaves tomorrow because the shape is not the true key to perfect challah.

Half-and-Half Challah
makes 5 large, 7 medium, or 9 small loaves

4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons dry yeast
1 kilogram whole wheat flour
1 kilogram sifted white flour
OR 2 kilograms 70% whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs (3 for dough, plus 1 for brushing on top)
1/2-1 cup sugar
scant 2 tablespoons salt
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, zaatar, oats, flax seeds, or other toppings of choice.

Directions:

  1. Put 4 cups warm water in a medium bowl. I find the best way to get the perfect temperature is 1 cup boiling water and 3 cups cold water. Dissolve a spoonful of sugar in the water. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of yeast over the surface of the water. Set aside to proof.
  2. Put flours into a large bowl and mix gently until basically combined.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Pour in oil, 3 eggs, sugar, and salt. The sugar measurement listed is not exact because sometimes I’m in a sweeter mood than  others. Use as much as you like.
  4. When the yeast mixture looks big and bubbly, pour it into the well. Mix. I start with a wooden spoon and move on to use my hands when a thick dough begins to form.
  5. Knead until all of the flour is in the dough, about 10 minutes. This is great upper body exercise. If you use 2 kilo whole wheat flour and the dough feels too hard and dry to knead, add a little water, just a spoonful at a time, until the dough softens and the flour disappears.
  6. Spray the sides of the bowl and top of the dough with cooking spray or brush with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel until the dough doubles in size. (This is the point when I shoo my little helpers away because the dough needs to take a nap.) Time will vary significantly depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Usually, in my Israeli kitchen, it sits about 45 minutes in the summer and up to an hour and a half on a cold Jerusalem winter day.
  7. Punch the dough down. Pray for someone sick, childless, looking to get married, etc. Recite the blessing and separate a small handful of dough to be discarded by burning on the stove or double-wrapped and thrown out. Do not toss unwrapped dough into the bottom of your oven without consulting your rabbi.
  8. Form the dough into desired shape–braided loaves, round loaves, pull-apart loaves, or even key shapes. Place on baking pan. Cover with a towel again. Allow to rise for another half-hour to hour, depending on weather.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Beat an egg with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of water. Brush on loaves with pastry brush. Sprinkle with seeds or other topping, if desired.
  10. Bake time will vary between 25 minutes and 40 minutes, depending on size of loaves. Remove from oven when they are golden-brown on top, like the loaves in the picture.
  11. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to a month.
  12. Enjoy plain or with your favorite spreads.
    My favorite things to spread on challah: Poor Man’s Pesto and Avocado Salad
Posted in Baked Goods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Pesach 2017 Round-Up

Pesach, Passover, is the holiday of freedom. Our ancestors were released from bondage in Egypt, and ever since, we slave away cleaning for a month before the holiday. 🙂 When applied to the kitchen, freedom could me explained in more than one way. One the one hand, I could use a break and kind of feel like just throwing some pre-made, processed food on the table and taking a nap. On the other hand, Pesach is a great time to get back to the basics. Mostly gluten-free, except for mstzah, it’s a week that lends itself well to whole foods, clean eating. Free from additives we can’t pronounce. Here’s a summary of all my simple, Pesach-friendly recipes, so you won’t spend the week slaving away in the kitchen. All of these recipes are kitniyot-free.
!חג פסח כשר ושמח Happy Passover!

To spread on matzah:

Poor Man’s Pesto

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Pesto spread on cracker

Sunny Avocado Salad

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Sunny Avocado Salad

Salads:

Half-Roasted Ratatouille Salad

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Classic Israeli Salad

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Classic Israeli Salad

Soups:

“Accidental” Turkey Neck Soup without noodles, or sub matzah balls

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Creamy, Comforting (Curried) Orange Soup (Pre-made curry mix may be difficult to find with kosher for Pesach supervision. Try seasoning with turmeric, paprika, pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon.)

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Light Meals or Snacks:

Charoset-Stuffed Matzah Brei

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Fruity Power Breakfast Bowl (Pumpkin seeds and Chia seeds are not kitniyot, but may be difficult to find with Pesach supervision.)

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Fruity Power Breakfast Bowl

Desserts:

Easy Coconut Macaroons (GF, Passover) (You may use vanilla sugar in place of the vanilla extract.)

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Lite Chocolate Ganache (Parve, Vegan)

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Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Coconut Mousse (My favorite brand of coconut cream is certified as kosher for Pesach only for kitniyot-eaters, but other brands may be certified differently.)

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Gluten-Free No-Bake Brownie Bites

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Gluten-Free No-Bake Brownie Bites

Posted in Fast Food, Salad, Sides, Snacks, Soup, Stovetop, sweets | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments