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CROSSPOST: Vegetable CousCous


As I come back up to speed here on GoingKosher, this post from HomeShuling was especially apropos and worth crossposting. Plus, Amy is an amazing writer, parent, and all around person that you should get to know. You can read the original here.

Rosh Hashanah Seven Vegetable Couscous – a recipe and a story

I’m sitting in my kitchen right now, with a pile of cookbooks in front of me. Odd, because I rarely use cookbooks anymore. I almost always go straight to the internet to find my recipes. But, I’m feeling the need to browse. With three days of meals to cook, since Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat are back to back, and lots of company coming, I’m trying to concoct a plan.

I stumbled across a recipe that was faintly stained with spices on a page that was nearly glued to the opposite page – a sure sign that I’d made the dish before. It was Seven-Vegetable Couscous from Nava Atlas’ Vegetarian Celebrations, and once I began to read it over I remembered how delicious this traditional Rosh Hashanah dish is. I’ve put it on my menu for the second night, and since the cookbook is out of  print, I’m hoping it’s fairly legal to post the recipe here:

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon reduced-fat margarine
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 medium onions — chopped
2 large carrots — sliced
1 cup finely shredded white cabbage
1 medium turnip — peeled and diced
1 medium yellow summer squash — diced
1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chick peas
1 1/2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted sliced or silvered almonds

6 to 8 servings

Since seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition, Sephardic Jews serve a seven-vegetable soup or stew such as this one for the holiday meal.

Cover the couscous with 3 cups of boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then stir in the margarine, turmeric, and salt. Cover and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over moderate heat until translucent. Stir in the carrots and cabbage and sauté until crisp-tender, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep the bottom of the pot moist. Add the remaining ingredients except the last 2. Cover and cook over low heat, lifting the lid to stir frequently for 15 to 20 minutes. Add water in small amounts until the mixture has the consistency of a thick, moist (but not soupy) stew. The vegetables should be tender but still firm.

Before serving, arrange the couscous on the outer perimeter of a large serving platter. Pour the vegetable mixture into the center. Sprinkle with the parsley and almonds. Guests should place a small mound of couscous on their plates and top it with the vegetable mixture.

What’s on your holiday menu? I’m always looking for new recipes and would love to see your favorites in the comments or on the homeshuling facebook wall.

 

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Pride and Shame


As I’ve mentioned before (“Here There Be Dragons“), I’ve started traveling about once a month for my job. This means I’ve become a bit more sensitive to the availability (or lack thereof) of kosher eateries when I’m out and about.

Which is why a recent post  from Yeah, That’s Kosher (“The Remaining Kosher Subway Restaurants in the US“) caught my eye. As he reports, there used to be 12 (with 5 in NYC alone). Now there are 5 left.

This makes me feel sad, frustrated, and a little ashamed. It’s not like Subway is going out of business, just the kosher versions. What is it about kashrut that makes sub sandwiches such a losing proposition? Why does “kosher” seem to be such a barrier to success in a way that “Thai” or “Gluten Free” or “Vegan” is not?

It also makes me feel a little bit proud though. Because of the 5 cities listed, my town is on the list.

Pork-nography, Revisited

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Over a year ago, and over on The Edible Torah, I posted a rant (“Pork-nography“) about an article on Tablet Magazine that highlighted the trend of Jewish chefs to use so-called “forbidden” foods and combinations.

Well, they (Tablet Mag) are at it again with “Unkosher“. However this time the article is written by a Rabbi (and former cook) Benjamin Resnik. After re-reviewing the dastardly dishes (the Brooklyn restaurant named “Treif” – guess what they serve; Ilan Hall’s bacon-wrapped matzo balls; et al), Rabbi Resnik comes to this conclusion:

“At the time I was working in kitchens[…] I  learned all the tricks at chefs’ disposals. But now I know some of the rabbis’ tricks, too, and, with this dual knowledge, I can’t help but see the menus offered up by this new generation of trayf-worshippers as lazy—not religiously, necessarily, but culinarily.”

Bravo! Mazel Tov! Yasher Koach!

Take a minute to read the Tablet article, but also read through the comments. Many are thoughtful, trying to tease out the difference between food that was part of the surrounding cultural landscape in places Jews lived, and food that is intrinsically Jewish, and food which has become associated with Judaism even if it didn’t start that way. As the commenter “Adam” says “This isn’t a value judgment so much as an issue of classification.

He may be right, but I don’t think so. I think it speaks to a willingness (or lack thereof) of chefs to accept the limitations that kashrut imposes and play within the rules of that game. Which is only more iron given that many of the chefs Rabbi Resnik writes about gained fame, like Ilan Hall, by winning competitions in which  time limitations and required/forbidden ingredients were intrinsically part of the game.

 

Brit Challah, part 2

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As I wrote about earlier, we are in a new house, with new (and somewhat older) appliances. One of my wife’s biggest concerns was the oven. Too small for half of our baking pans to fit, with signs of heavy (if loving) use, there was no guarentee that it was going to operate consistently, well or at all in any given situation.

After we moved in, we saw our fears recede – it warmed wonderfully, cooked competently, and broiled with the best of them. But the real test – challah – didn’t come up until this past Shabbat.

I’m happy to report that the oven performed admirably:

This was taken after the “rising” step. But the final baked product was equally impressive (if not moreso).

For those interested in the challah recipe we use, you can find it here.

TOP RECIPE: Whole Wheat Challah


This weeks’ recipe comes to us from Joy of Kosher

Introduction

You can try this with 100% whole wheat flour too, just add another tbsp. of vital wheat gluten. This gives the instructions for a food processor but you can use a mixer or do it by hand.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp. sugar
    2 packs active dry yeast
    3/4 cup warm water
    3 cups all purpose flour
    3 cups whole wheat flour
    1 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
    2 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. cold water
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 large eggs
    egg wash of 1 egg with 1 tbsp. water

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast and 2 tsp. sugar in warm water in a 2 cup liquid measure and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes.
  2. In food processor, insert dough blade. Add flour, vital wheat gluten, rest of sugar, and salt. Pulse until combined.
  3. cold water, oil and eggs to yeast mixture in measuring cup.
  4. With machine running on dough speed add yeast mixture through tube in steady stream as fast as the flour absorbs it. Once dough cleans the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball, continue processing for 45 seconds to knead dough.
  5. Place dough in a floured plastic ziplock and seal. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in sized about 1 to 11/2 hours.
  6. Place dough on lightly floured surface and punch down. Let rest 10-15 minutes. Divide dough into two. Shape.
  7. Place shaped bread on cookie sheet sprayed. Cover with plastic wrap coated with spray and let rise until double about 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 375.
  9. Brush with egg glaze, bake in lower third of oven for 20 minutes. Lower temp to 350. and baked until brown and hollow – 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

TOP RECIPE: Gluten-Free Hamentashen


Just in time for Purim, these come from our good friends over at Couldn’t Be Pareve.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (63g) potato starch
  • 6 tablespoons (60g) superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (60g) tapioca starch/flour
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (45g) sorghum flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (17g) potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons (75g) sweet rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) xanthum gum
  • 1/2 cup (3 oz or 86g) chopped nuts
  • 1 cup (7.5 oz or 210g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz or 112g) margarine, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz or 112g) shortening, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2-4 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water, lightly beaten
  • Fillings of choice*

Directions

  1. Pulse the flours, xanthum gum, baking powder, salt, sugar, nuts and orange zest in the food processor until well combined. Add the margarine and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  2. Add the beaten eggs and pulse until combined.
  3. Remove the mixture from the food processor and pour it into a large bowl. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of orange juice and mix until it comes together into a ball. If the dough seems dry add the remaining orange juice. Divide the dough into three pieces, form each piece of dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350.
  5. Roll out each section of dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Place the dough (still in the parchment) on a cookie sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Remove the top piece of parchment and cut into circles using a round cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass. Transfer circles to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Fill each circle with a small amount of filling. (For 2 1/2 inch circles use about a teaspoon of filling). Brush each circle with the egg wash and fold two sides together, pinching tight to make a corner. Fold up the remaining side to make a triangle with the filling showing in the middle and pinch the other two corners well. It is important that they are well pinched, so that they do not come open in the oven. If the dough becomes too sticky, freeze it for a few minutes to re-chill it. Re-roll and freeze scraps. Repeat with remaining sheets of dough.
  6. Bake the hamentashen until they are slightly firm to the touch, about 11 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

* It is important that the fillings are not too runny. If using pie fillings or other canned fillings (like the Solo ones) the consistency should be fine. If using fruit preserves stir cornstarch into the preserves until they look slightly cloudy. Bake one test hamentash to make sure the filling doesn’t run out in the oven before filling the rest of the batch. If it runs add a bit more cornstarch and test again.

Brit Challah


We are moving into a new house. While I might blog more about that later, I did want to comment that it makes for some interesting moments.

The kitchen in our new house is not quite up to the level that my wife prefers. While we have plans down the road to remedy that, for now we have to make do.

Which is what prompted a momentary heart to heart between my wife and our newly acquired (yet somewhat aged) oven.

“Let’s get this straight,” she was recently heard to whisper. “I know you’ve seen better days and you are probably tired. I’m not going to make you work too hard and I’ll find a nice retirement spot for you soon enough. But for right now, you and me need to work together to feed this family.”

“And you had better make good challah.”

For everyone’s sake, I hope the oven has the good sense to toe the line.