Jewish Holidays

Sukkos Lulav Napkin Fold

 

lulav napkin fold on plate.JPG

Among other mitzvos (Jewish commandments) unique to Sukkos (Jewish Feast of Tabernacles),  we acquire a set of Arba Minim (Four Species).  Each of the Four Species has its own unique character:

The Lulav (palm) is an impressively tall and straight green date palm branch with tightly bound leaves.  It has a sweet date flavor  but no fragrance.  The Lulav represents the Jewish scholar, who has impressive Jewish knowledge but lacks good deeds.

The Hadasim (myrtle branches) are fragrant branches with a spectacular waxy pattern of three leaves protruding from the same point.  Hadasim have fragrance, yet have no flavor.  Hadasim represent those who distinguish themselves with good deeds, yet lack Torah scholarship.

The Aravos (willow branches) are branches with smooth-edged oblong-shaped leaves.  They have neither fragrance nor flavor.  Aravos represent those who lack deeds and scholarship.

The Esrog  (citron) is a yellow lemon-like citrus fruit with beautiful fragrance and flavor. The Esrog represents those impressive Jewish scholars with both knowledge and good deeds.

lulavim

The Four Species represent the inherent uniqueness and beauty in different types of people.   The idea of acquiring these different types of species and unifying them symbolizes the importance of Jewish unity.  Each of the Arba Minim represents people with differing Jewish strengths, Torah knowledge and adherence to good deeds.  The Arba Minim signify the importance of Jewish unity and the recognition of the importance of different members of our nation.

We tie all the branches together: two Aravos on the left, one Lulav in the center, and three Hadasim on the right.   We recite the following blessing:

Hebrew

Hebrew Hebrew

Blessed are You, the Lord of the world, Who has sanctified us in His commandments and commanded us to hold the Lulav

We then raise all Four Species and shake them as one unit in all six directions (forward and backward, right and left, up and down).  The six directions represent G-d’s dominion over the entire world.

These Four Species are brought to synagogue each Sukkos day,  except on Shabbos.  We hold and shake the Four Species during the recitation of the Hallel (praise) prayer and the Four Species are carried as  during Hoshanos, where the men surround the Torah.

To allude to the lulav tradition on Sukkos, I created a lulav napkin fold using two paper napkins.  As long as the twine has been cut before the holiday, these napkins can be easily folded and assembled on Yom Tov (Holiday).

lulav napkin fold.JPG

SUPPLIES

light green napkins
dark green napkins
twine, cut into 2-3 foot sections

heavy-duty scissors

INSTRUCTIONS

Lay each of the light green napkins flat on the table.  Unfold so that it is folded in half lengthwise.  Fold each corner toward the middle to create a point.   Roll or fold  to create the long part of the lulav.

 

Lay each of the dark green napkins flat on the table.  Unfold completely and then fold on the diagonal to form a large triangle.

lulav napkin-triangle fold for leaves

Fold in small sections, back and forth, to create a large fan.

lulav napkin fold-1st fold for leaves

Fold fan in half to form a large “v” shape.

lulav napkin fold-both napkins and twine.JPG

Place fanned “v” dark green napkin in front of light green lulav napkin and twist twine around center of dark green “v”..

lulav napkin fold-tying both napkins.JPG

lulav napkin fold-securing holder

Gently wind the cut twine around and around the two napkins, securing the dark green napkin “leaves” to the lighter napkin lulav. Secure the end of the twine by tucking it in.

Voila!

Sukkos No-Knead Ciabatta: Harvest and Humility

harvest ciabatta

 

The Autumn Jewish holiday of Sukkos is referred to as Zman Simchaseinu  (season of rejoicing) and Chag Ha’Asif (Festival of of Gathering).  It falls at the time of year in Israel that the grain, grapes and olives are ready to be harvested and brought to market.  The winter, spring and summer months of hard work in the field, orchards and vineyards have finally paid off.  For anyone in the agricultural sector, it is truly the season of rejoicing.

At the time of harvest, it is natural for us to feel proud of our material accomplishments and to attribute our success entirely to our efforts and good fortune.   It is precisely at this time that we are commanded to rejoice humbly within the context of the holiday of Sukkos and to give thought to all that G-d has contributed to the success of our bounty.   We are cautioned to maintain our humility, even through the bountiful harvest.

G-d has given us the gift of Sukkos to enjoy the material benefits of a rich bounty within the context of Torah and mitzvos (commandments).  During Sukkos, we read King Solomon’s  scroll of Koheles (Ecclesiastes).   King Solomon, who was the wisest of men, reflects upon the vanity of the pleasures of this world and sums it up in the last verse of .Koheles.  He declares, “the sum of the matter, when all is considered: Fear G‑d and keep His commandments, for this is the entire purpose of man.”

In keeping with the Sukkos themes of Zman Simchaseinu  (season of rejoicing) and Chag Ha’Asif (Festival of of Gathering), I created this wonderful ciabatta recipe.  It uses the basic no-knead dough that I introduced in Ciabatta Challah: a Simple No-Knead Solution with some technique simplifications and addition of pecans, chocolate and raisins.  It highlights the bounty of the season and is the perfect bread to serve at the first Sukkos meal.

It is best prepared in a covered dutch oven but can also be prepared in a heavy loaf pan or crock with a pot lid on top.  It has an absolutely wonderful crunchy crust and delicious interior dotted with nuts, craisins and chocolate.  Although it is best served within 12 hours of baking, my family enjoys it way past those 12 hours.

Happy Sukkos!

INGREDIENTS
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups room temperature water

handful of craisins
handful of pecans, chopped
handful of chocolate chips
sprinkle of flour or cornmeal

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast together.  Slowly add water and  mix very well with a wooden spoon or firm spatula to form a sticky dough.  If dough is not sticky, add a bit more water.  Fold in craisins, pecans and chocolate chips.

sukkos ciabatta.jpg

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 18 hours.

sukkos ciabatta covered

Preheat oven to 450 F degrees.   Place small covered dutch oven or heavy loaf pan with metal cover in the oven for at least 10 minutes.

Remove the pot or pan from oven and remove the lid.

Sprinkle a bit of flour or cornmeal on the top of the dough to ensure that dough does not stick.  Gently coax the dough from the bowl and shape into a rough ball.   Place dough ball upside down in the pot/pan and sprinkle a bit more flour or cornmeal on the top of the dough.

Bake for 30 minutes covered and then remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes more.  Dough should be golden brown when ready.

Apples and Roses: A Rosh Hashana Table Arrangement

roses and apples arrangement

I was looking to create a SimpletoWow fruit and floral arrangement worthy of the Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) table.  On Rosh Hashana, we dip an apple into honey as a symbol for a sweet new year (see Dip the Apple… Rosh Hashana Cupcakes), so incorporating apples into the arrangement was a no-brainer.    I wanted the apples to remain as pristine as possible so that they can be admired as part of the table arrangement but still be ceremoniously eaten later.

Voila!

roses and apples arrangement 2

SUPPLIES

2 large open-blossoms
2 unblemished apples
6 short but full boxwood branches
two to four foot section of 2″x6″ wood beam
copper spray paint
6 clear 4″ square glass vases
water

TOOLS

hand sander
copper spray paint

INSTRUCTIONS

Using hand sander, sand rough edges of beam.

Spray paint the top and all sides of the beams in your favorite color.   I used metallic copper spray paint.  Allow to dry.

Cut two open rose blossoms off of stem.  Float each rose in each of two vases filled with water almost to the top.

Cut six short and full boxwood stems.  Place three boxwood stems in each of two vases filled with water almost to the top.

Select interesting and unblemished apples sized to fill the remaining two vases.  Place these apples into the vases without adding any water.

Set up the six rose, apple and boxwood clear 4″ square glass vases at equal intervals along beam, aligning first and last vases with the edges of the beam.  Optionally, alternate vases on the left and right sides of the beam.

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Tisha B’Av: On Sadness, Continuity and Redemption

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We are in Israel and the saddest day on the Jewish calendar has begun. Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av) has been commemorated throughout the ages as a day of Jewish national tragedy. It is the day that both of our Holy Temples were destroyed and a day that is filled with mourning, trepidation and many tears.

It is a day that the following terrible Jewish tragedies have occurred:

  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE
  • The city of Beitar was destroyed by the Romans in 135 CE and the Jewish population of that city was annihilated.
  • Turnus Rufus, a Roman warrior, plowed the city of Jerusalem in 135 CE.
  • Jews were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1306, and from Spain in 1492.
  • Germany entered World War I in 1914
  • SS commander Heinrich Himmler received formal approval for The Final Solution and thus began the Holocaust.
  • The Jews were deported from the Warsaw Ghetto. in 1942

We fast on this day, we sit on or close to the floor and we cry for the pain of the losses, the devastation and the void left by the destruction of the Jewish Temples almost 2000 years ago. Our tears are for the majesty that was lost and for the light of the connection to G-d at the time of the Holy Temples that was unparalleled. We cry over what we had and what we have lost.  And we pray for our tears of sadness will be replaced with rejoicing upon the final redemption.  .

According to the Jewish calendar, the festival of Pesach (Passover) always falls out on the same day of the week as Tisha B’Av. In Hebrew, there is no real word for coincidence because in Judaism things are just not coincidental. Things that happen in the same way were meant to be that way. And so, there must be a connection between Pesach, the festival of Geula (redemption) and Tisha B’av, the day of national mourning.

Redemption by definition implies that we will return to something that we have lost, something that we have already experienced. While Pesach commemorates our becoming a nation through the open miracles of our Exodus from Egypt, Tisha B’av dwells on our mourning the details of all that we have lost through the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem.

Only by understanding what we are missing can we ever hope to regain that which has been lost. And, so, on this day of national mourning, we lament the loss of the grandeur of the Holy Temples, the unity and the closeness that the spiritual relationship we experienced  during that time.  We read Megillas Eicha (the scroll of lamentations) and we shed true tears for all the tragedy and pain that has befallen our nation and has taken us from the holiness of an era long past.

Our fast begins on the eve of Tisha B’Av and continues until dark nightfall on the next day.  The mourning begins with great intensity and we sit on the floor or low chairs as Jewish mourners do.  We fast throughout the day, but the mourning gradually lessens throughout the day of Tisha B’Av. At Chatzos (midday), we are permitted to sit on regular chairs.

On this terrible day in history,  the structure of our precious Temple was set afire by our enemies. And, the most intense burning of the wood and stones of our Temples occurred at midday.

So, why would midday, the time of the most painful sight of the fiery destruction of our most holy site and of the holiest place on earth, be the time that we start lessening our mourning?

Because precisely at the moment that our precious Temples began burning did we see the hope for the future and the end of our mourning.

At midday, yes, our holiest Jewish sites were burning but we understood that our nation would survive. G-d had chosen to pour out his wrath on the stones and wood of Jerusalem’s holiest site and left our nation to repent, heal and hope for redemption.  That is true continuity and that is mourning with a mission.

And that is precisely the connection to Pesach. Pesach is the celebration of our becoming a nation and our hope for the Final Redemption. Tisha B’av, although painful, is integral for forcing us to recognize what we have lost.  It is the ultimate day for us to contemplate our continuity and redemption and return to what we had.   Tisha B’av is the day to elucidate what we had and cry real tears of understanding for the enormity of the void left by these losses. Only then, will we be granted the merit to witness the Final Redemption and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.

Simply Perfect and Healthier Cheesecake

simply perfect cheesecake with fruitWe are counting the days until Shavuos (lit: weeks).

Yes.  Shavuos is the holiday that we literally count the days toward its arrival. We count 49 days (seven weeks) from Pesach (Passover) to Shavuos, blessing the sefira (counting) every evening from the second night of Pesach until Shavuos begins.

From a culinary perspective, many of us count the days until we can enjoy the delicious dairy foods that have become associated with Shavuos. We are commanded to eat dairy foods at our festive meals (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes) on Shavuos and cheesecake has become one of the iconic desserts associated with Shavuos.

Shavuos commemorates the receiving of the Torah by the Jewish nation. It also is the time that the wheat is harvested and the bikurim (first fruits) were brought to the Holy Temple in a lavish ceremony (Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister).  So, this year’s cheesecake is decorated with fruits, so symbolic of the bikurim ceremony.

I have kept the preparation simple and have incorporated greek yogurt and light cream cheese into the recipe to make for a healthier cheescake.   The flavor and texture is still impeccably delicious.

Just like last year’s mini cheesecake recipe, this recipe does not require a springform pan or a water bath for baking.  It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature just before preparation.   Preparation takes a few minutes and the baking is simple. It can be prepared as one round or rectangular cheesecake or in 12-16 mini ramekins.

simply perfect individual cheescake

SUPPLIES

spatula

food processor

mixer

INGREDIENTS

2 pound light or regular cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
8 ounce container of plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

2 cups cookies or graham crackers, crushed

4 tablespoons butter

cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Prepare cake pan or ramekins by generously spraying with cooking spray and/ or lining with parchment paper .

In food processor fitted with an S-blade, crush cookies and add butter, pulsing until mixture is fully incorporated.  You can also place cookies in a zipper bag and crush using a mallet or rolling pin, adding butter to the bag and kneading gently.  Gently press cookie-butter mixture into pan or ramekins.

Beat cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy.  You can also use a whisk to incorporate and beat all these ingredients.  You will have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into pans or ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top.  I find it easiest to pour the mixture from a glass measuring cup with a spout..

Bake mini ramekins for 15 minutes, 3-4″ ramekins for about 18-20 minutes and larger pan for 30 minutes.  Turn oven off and leave in oven to another hour.

Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Chill the ramekin cheesecakes for at least 2 hours and the larger cheesecake for at least 4 hours.  Gently remove cheesecake(s) from pan(s).

Garnish with fruit, berries, edible leaves and flowers. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.

 

Charoset Ices

charoset ices

Last year in Israel, we discovered that Ben and Jerry’s manufactures Charoset ice cream for Pesach (Passover).  We bought it at the Israel supermarket for its Passover-themed value but we devoured it for its delicious taste.

charoset ice cream.png

After all,  charoset is a traditional dip consumed at the Passover Seder. It is typically prepared with chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and red wine or grape juice.   The charoset is a  gritty dip for the Maror (bitter herbs) that symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews to fashion bricks while they were enslaved in Egypt.

The apples and grape juice or wine lend a sweet taste to this dish and make for the perfect combination of ingredients to prepare charoset ices.  This will make the perfect dessert for your Pesach meal.

 

INGREDIENTS

3-4 apples, cut into large chunks
1 cup wine or grape juice
dash of cinnamon
1/4 cup nuts
1 cup frozen grapes
small romaine heart (optional, for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade of the food processor, puree all ingredients except romaine heart until just combined.

Freeze until solid or overnight.

Once frozen, remove from freezer and defrost just enough to scoop back into the food processor fitted with the s-blade.

Pulse sorbet in food processor just until smooth.  Refreeze.

To allow for simple entertaining, I usually defrost for 20-30 minutes before scooping.

Garnish with a small piece of romaine lettuce.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Any frozen fruit may be substituted for the frozen grapes.  Just make sure to taste puree and blend with enough wine or  juice for optimal sweetness.  Honey may be added as well to sweeten the sorbet.

TIPS

I scoop the sorbet into small cups in advance and freeze in the cups until ready to serve. That speeds up the serving of a frozen dessert and keeps everything tidy.    I add the garnish at the end so that the leaves stay fresh and green.charoset ices.jpg

Frosted Candied Grapes

Grapes are featured prominently at the annual Pesach (Passover) seder (festive meal, lit: order).  After all, we drink four cups of wine or grape juice and the seder ceremony begins with the kiddush (santification) over the first cup of wine (or grape juice).  Wine is featured in the charoset (fruit and nut dip symbolizing mortar) for the maror (bitter herbs).

The seder is a mixture of tradition and whimsy.  It is the only night on the Jewish calendar when we sing Hallel (songs of praise) and tell the story of Egypt at length.  It is an evening in which we engage the children and pass these Jewish traditions from generation to generation.  In fact, so much of the elements of the seder are intended to pique the interest of our children.

Which brings me to candied grapes.  We are taught that parents are to give their children special foods and gifts in order to engage them at the seder.  So, why not combine the elements of tradition and whimsy in creating these adorable and delicious candied grapes?

One note of caution, though.  The round shape of the grapes  can create a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

These grapes can make a delicious snack or the perfect garnish for desserts.

 
candied grapesINGREDIENTS

1 box jello
grapes

 
DIRECTIONS

Rinse individual grapes thoroughly in a colander. Spread jello powder in a pie plate or large plate.  Coat grapes with powder.    Place on waxed or parchment paper to dry.
Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow gelatin to set.

NOTES

The round shape of the grapes  can present a choking hazard for small children.  These grapes should not be given to young children, unless they are quartered.

The Blessing and Renewal of Tu Beshvat

 

tu beshvat fruit salad with kiwi garnish.jpg

 

Tomorrow is Tu B’Shevat , ט״ו בשבט‎‎, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.   This special Jewish day commemorates the New Year of the Trees.

We are  taught that the trees are judged on this date for the fruit that will be produced in the next growing year.  In Israel, this is the beginning of fruit trees emerging from winter dormancy to begin a new fruit-bearing season.

To commemorate this special day, we enjoy fruit, especially fruits synonymous with the Land of Israel.  In the Torah, certain fruits are praised as the bounty of Israel and we make certain to enjoy these fruits on this day.  These fruits of mention are olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

Tu B’Shevat reminds us of the dormant potential in the trees and in each one of us.  Just as the trees and their seeds lie dormant during the harsh and cold winter months, often we have times of dormancy.  Our hope is that we recognize the potential in ourselves, our children and those around us, even in the harshest and most challenging of times. Precisely at this time, while it is still cold and unforgiving outside, the trees celebrate their New Year.

May each one of us celebrate this festival of potential, growth and blossoming in our gardens, our families and our hearts.

This fruit salad incorporates some new fruits and some of the fabulous fruits of Israel. We thank G-d when enjoying the vibrant colors, textures and flavors of fruit by reciting this blessing:

Hebrew:

Transliteration
Baruch atah A-donai Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam Borei Pri Ha-aitz.

Translation
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

When we eat new fruits that we have not eaten for an entire season, we also bless G-d with this special blessing:

Hebrew:Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, shehecheyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.

Transliteration
Baruch atah A-donai, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh

Translation
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season

This fruit salad incorporates so many of the fruits that I love to purchase at the Machene Yehuda Shuk (Jerusalem open-air market) while we are in Israel.  I hope that it connects you to The Land, to G-d and to the potential that is Tu Beshvat, too.

Happy Tu Beshvat!

INGREDIENTS
dragon fruit
kiwi (see tips)
star fruit
watermelon
persimmon
Asian pears (see tips)
strawberries
dates
pomegranates

SPECIAL SUPPLIES
melon baller
scallop knife
peeler

DIRECTIONS
Was, dice, scoop and cut fruit into small pieces.  Gently toss and optionally garnish with Simple Kiwi Flower Garnish.

 

TIPS 

To keep fruits like Asian pears from oxidizing, place cut pieces in a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part of lemon juice r pineapple juice.

Peel kiwi with a vegetable peeler.  You will preserve more of the fruit.

Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Savta’s Sweet Potato Latkes

sweet-potato-latkes

 

Savta loves to make latkes and kugels.  I vividly remember how delicious they were when we were growing up and Savta’s kugel and latkes have become a real delicacy for my children.

This is Savta’s sweet potato latke recipe.  It is perfect.

INGREDIENTS

4 medium red potatoes, peeled
1-2 onions, peeled
1 sweet potato
3  eggs
4 tablespoons  flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Using the s-blade of the food processor, process 2 potatoes with the onions, eggs, flour and seasonings. Using the shredder blade of the food processor, shred the remaining potatoes and sweet potatoes. Gently combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Spoon a ladle-size amount  of  potato mixture into the oil and fry for 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and fry for 2 minutes more.  Latkes should be crispy on the outside and golden brown.

Latkes are best served hot from the skillet.

Leah’s Parsnip Latkes

Leah has been in charge of preparing Sunday night’s dinner.  Leah has a taste and flair for interesting vegetable combinations.   Delegating the responsibility of preparing dinner frees me and gives others a renewed appreciation for all that dinner preparation entails.  Best of all, it introduces all of us, the diners, to the cook’s creativity and style.

This week, Leah prepared a masterful dinner of salad and parsnip latkes.

Parsnip is a root vegetable with a very unique flavor. Although it looks like a white carrot, it has a sweet, earthy and almost nutty flavor. Leah combined ingredients that we had on hand to wow us with this simple dish of complex flavors, just in time for Chanukah

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large russet potato, peeled

2-3 parsnips, peeled

medium lime, for juice and zest

1/4 cup flour

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Zest lime and squeeze out the lime juice.

Coarsely grate potato and parsnips by hand or by using the shredder blade on the food processor. Sprinkle with lime juice and then carefully wrap the shredded vegetables in a kitchen towel to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.  Whisk egg and then add shredded potatoes and parsnips, lime zest, flour, salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Spoon a ladle-size amount  of  latke mixture into the oil and fry for 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and fry for 2 minutes more.  Latkes should be crispy on the outside and golden brown.

Latkes are best served hot from the skillet.

Simply Perfect Sufganiot in a Zipper Bag

I like to stay close to the latest trends in cooking and design.  One trendy and helpful technique in preparing dough is to use a zipper bag for preparing and kneading the dough.  It is a great idea for most dough and really reduces the cleanup.  Best of all, since the zipper bag can be discarded after use, this simple dough technique virtually eliminates those nasty dough-covered utensils and sponges that are so difficult to clean.

The ziploc bag eliminates the dusty mess of flour and allows all the dough crumbles to remain in the disposable ziploc bags.  Since the sufganiot in this recipe are amorphous and just dropped into oil, the ziploc bag can even be used  to dispense the doughnuts right into the frying pan.

I have adapted my favorite sufganiot recipe to use the ziploc bag.  I have tried it and it is just perfect!

sufganiot-in-a-bag-in-oil

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 cup flour

1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
Olive oil, for frying

Powdered sugar (optional)

large zipper bag (1-2 gallon)

 

DIRECTIONS

In a ziploc bag, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  To do this easily, I fold top of zipper bag over a small pan so that bottom of zipper bag is at bottom of pan and top of bag is folded over sides of the pan.    This ensures that the liquid contents do not spill over.

sufganiot zipper bag in pan.jpg

Wait until yeast mixture becomes bubbly or foamy.  If the yeast mixture does not bubble and foam, the yeast is not active and you will have to redo this step, making sure that the water used is warm but not too hot to touch.

 

Carefully add salt and flour to the yeast mixture, kneading the bag until all the flour has been incorporated, for several minutes.   The dough should resemble a thick, sticky cake batter.

sufganiot-in-a-bag-yeast-dough-before-rising-2

 

Spray your hands with oil spray or rub oil on your hands.  With your oiled hands, carefully rub the oil all over the dough. making sure to coat all sides of the dough.  Rub or spray oil on the entire inside of the zipper bag, too.

Allow dough to rise for 3-4 hours in the bag.  Open zipper and gently let the excess air out of the bag.  Gently push down the dough by pressing on the outside of the bag.

In a pot or sauce pan with a large opening, over medium heat, heat 1-2 inches of olive oil until sizzling.

Cut a corner into the side of the zipper bag to allow dispensing of the dough directly from the zipper bag corner.

sufganiot-in-a-bag-after-risen

Squeeze donuts into the oil by pushing dough into corner of bag and squeezing out small pieces of odd-shaped dough out of the zipper bag.  You may have to coax and pull donuts out of the bag into the oil using oiled hands.

Repeat until you have filled the oil with donuts without crowding, as the sufganiot will puff up during the ferrying process.

 

sufganiot-in-a-bag-in-oil

 

Turn them over once the bottom is golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove each doughnut from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the doughnuts and enjoy!

Happy Chanukah!

Simple Baked Potato Kugelatkes

 

kugelatkes-serving-suggestion

kugelatkes

Traditionally, we eat potato latkes (pancakes) on Chanukah.  We eat foods prepared with oil to commemorate the miracle of the oil in the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) once the Jews were victorious over the Greeks.  After the miraculous war, the Jews entered the desecrated Temple and only found enough pure olive oil to light the Menorah (candelabra) for one day.  The tiny  bit of oil lasted for an entire eight days, enough time for the Jews to get new pure oil to light the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash, so that the Menorah would be continuously lit.

While latkes are so traditionally linked to Chanukah, there are so many foods that contain olive oil that may just as well commemorate the oil miracle of the Temple.

Truth be told, I hate to fry latkes.

It just takes too much time, too much splatter and it is so hard to manage while entertaining a houseful of guests.

I usually make one batch of latkes just for the first night and find other make-in-advance olive oil alternatives when we entertain guests over Chanukah.

This year, I have adapted my favorite potato kugel recipe to make baked potato kugelatkes.  I made them in a bundt-shaped muffin tin, but they can easily be baked in a cupcake tin, as well.

They are simple to prepare, beautiful and delicious to behold, require no frying and can be prepared well in advance of the Chanukah meal.

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..In the Honey: Rosh Hoshana Honeycomb Cupcakes

 

beehive-cupcake

Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) is coming and our friend (and Davida’s superMom), Staci Segal, is sponsoring a pre-Rosh Hashana bake sale to benefit benefit Ohr Meir U’Bracha, The Terror Victims Support Center of Israel.

Last year, Davida baked delicious muffins for this bake sale.  This year Davida and Staci’s daughter, Chava, are  studying in Israel, so I offered to bake and send over some cupcakes for this important event.  Although Davida and Chava are the true masters in my kitchen, I felt that I needed to prove that I still had some kitchen prowess.

I decided to bake two sets of cupcakes to represent the important and symbolic tradition of dipping an apple in honey on Rosh Hashana.  The first set of cupcakes were Dip the Apple… Rosh Hashana Cupcakes.

 

Now, all we needed were the honey cupcakes.  For these, I decided to prepare cupcakes shaped like beehives, with edible chocolate honeycombs and adorable jelly bean bees.

We dip an apple into honey at our festive evening meals on Rosh Hashana to symbolize our hope and prayer for a “sweet” New Year.   Honey is one of the symbols for the Land of Israel as the Torah describes Israel as a land “flowing with milk and honey.”  It symbolizes the connection between G-d, the Jewish nation and the Land of Israel.

The honey referred to in the Torah is date honey.  Today,  date honey is sold in Israel, but most of the honey found is bee honey.  These cupcakes were shaped liked beehives to represent this sweet symbol.

 

These cupcakes are available for sale among other delicious desserts at the Segal Home this Sunday, September 25th, 2016 from 2-8 PM.  Their address is 475 FDR Drive #301 on the Lower East Side. For more information, please contact Staci at 917-295-7295 or stacisegal@aol.com

 

SUPPLIES

Cupcakes

Melting wafers (for honeycomb pieces)

Parchment or wax paper

Clean bubble wrap

White frosting

Chocolate frosting

Mini cup cones

Black and yellow jelly beans

Slivered almonds

 

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Bake your favorite cupcakes.

Melt chocolate wafers or chips.  I use the defrost feature on the microwave.  I spread the chocolate out on a microwave-safe dinner plate and place it on defrost for 6-8 minutes.

Spread the chocolate out on a piece of parchment or wax paper, keeping the chocolate thin but not translucent.    Press clean bubble wrap with bubble side down onto melted chocolate.

beehive-chocolate-with-bubble-wrap

Keep bubble wrap until chocolate has hardened and carefully peel off.  Break the chocolate into chards that resemble pieces of honeycombs.

beehive-shards

 

Place a mini cup cone upside down in the center of each cupcake, pressing down until it is set into place.

Fill a ziploc or piping bag with white or yellow frosting.  To do this neatly, place a bag in a tall glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass like a collar.  Using a spatula, fill the bag.  Cut corner of bag with an opening big enough to pipe thick frosting.  Squeeze frosting to corner carefully.

beehive-cupcakes-in-progress

Pipe frosting on each cupcake, surrounding upside down cone and piping to top of cone.

Place a chocolate honeycomb chard on the side of each cupcake.  Place one or two jellybeans on each cupcake.   Place slivered almonds on either side of each jellybean.

Fill two small ziploc or piping bags with chocolate and white frosting.  To do this neatly, place the bag in a tall glass and fold the top of the bag over the edge of the glass like a collar and fill with frosting.  Cut corner of bag with a tiny opening to pipe thin stripes on the jellybean bees.   Carefully squeeze frosting to corner.

beehive-cupcakes-decorating-ingredients-and-bags

Pipe stripes of white frosting on black jellybeans.  Pipe stripes of chocolate frosting on yellow jellybeans.

beehive-cupcakes-in-carrier

 

 

Wishing you all a Kesiva Ve’Chasma Tova (a positive inscription and seal for the upcoming year).

Dip the Apple… Rosh Hashana Cupcakes

Rosh Hashana is coming and our friend (and Davida’s superMom), Staci Segal, is sponsoring a pre-Rosh Hashana bake sale to benefit benefit Ohr Meir U’Bracha, The Terror Victims Support Center of Israel.

Last year, Davida baked glazed carrot muffins for this bake sale.  This year Davida and Staci’s daughter, Chava, are spending the year studying in Israel, so I offered to bake and send over some cupcakes for this important event.  I wanted to make sure that the Segal bake sale would have adequate Respler representation.

I sat down to think about what I could bake that would be unique and delicious.  It needed to be something easy to transport,  interesting and something appropriate for Rosh Hashanah.

The first thing that came to mind was an apple dessert.  The apple is such a strong symbol of Rosh Hashana.

During Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), we eat apples dipped in honey as a symbol for a sweet new year.   It is interesting that an apple is chosen as the fruit to dip.

One reason is that in King Solomon’s Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs), the nation of Israel is compared to an apple.  “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved (Israel) amongst the maidens (nations) of the world.”  Furthernore, an apple is symbolic of the love between the nation of Israel and G-d as we read in Shir Hashirim , “Beneath the apple tree I aroused you.”

We are taught that an apple tree sprouts the tiny core of each apple before the leaves surround and protect the young fruit.  In the same way, the young Jewish nation accepted the Torah before understanding the myriad of details within.  The famous acceptance of our nation was verbalized as “we will do and we will understand”.  We committed to the holy observance of Torah commandments even before we understood the full extent of what this commitment entailed.  Therefore, the apple has become a symbol and remembrance of the commitment to our faith and acceptance of Torah at Mount Sinai.  We recall this on Rosh Hashana when our mission is to proclaim G-d as our King.

I decided to prepare cupcakes designed to look like red apples.  I baked vanilla cupcakes for this recipe.  Perhaps, next time, I will prepare honey cupcakes to fully represent the Rosh Hashana tradition of “dipping the apple in the honey”.

apple-cupcakes-in-carrier

These cupcakes are available for sale among other delicious desserts at the Segal Home this Sunday, September 25th, 2016 from 2-8 PM.  Their address is 475 FDR Drive #301 on the Lower East Side. For more information, please contact Staci at 917-295-7295 or stacisegal@aol.com

apple-cupcakes

SUPPLIES

Cupcakes

White frosting

Red sanding sugar or sugar and red food coloring

Brown licorice, brown taffy or small pretzel nub

Green taffy or gum

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Bake your favorite cupcakes.

Cut pieces of brown licorice, taffy or pretzels to resemble stems.

spple-cupcake-embellishments

Flatten green gum or taffy and use knife to cut out leaf shapes.  Use blunt knife to form leaf veins.

apple-cupcakes-leaves

To make red sanding sugar, combine 1 cup of sugar with red food coloring, adding food coloring until the desired depth of color is reached.  I pulsed this in my food processor.  Alternatively, you can combine the sugar and color in a ziploc bag or in your mixer.

apple-cupcakes-sanding-sugar-ingredients

apple-cupcakes-sanding-sugar

 

Frost cupcakes generously with a small knife or spatula, heaping frosting to form a mounded top for each cupcake.

Using spoon, sprinkle sanding sugar on top of each cupcake until well coated.  Gently shake off excess sanding sugar.

apple-cupcakes-in-sugar

Insert brown stem and green leaf.

apple-cupcake

apple cupcakes in carrier.jpg

Wishing you all a Kesiva Ve’Chasma Tova (a positive inscription and seal for the upcoming year).

 

 

Simple Cheesy Zucchini Logs: Gluten Free and Low-Carb

Davida and her friend, Chava, made delicious calzones for Melave Malke a few weeks ago: Davida’s Easy and Delicious Calzones for a Melave Malka Feast. Although the calzones looked and smelled heavenly, Don and I were  only able to enjoy them vicariously. Since we are still on low-carb diets, we needed to find an alternative cheesy dish.

We scrubbed zucchini, cut them is half logs and roasted them for 12-15 minutes .  Once roasted, we scooped out some of the pulp and then filled them with cheese.  We put them into the oven for 5-10 minutes more and voila!

These will make a perfect and simple low-carb recipe for Shavuos (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes).  Enjoy!

zucchini logs-up close

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Simple and Easy 5-Ingredient No-Boil Lasagna

 

no-boil-lasagna-before-cooking

 

This is the simplest and most delicious lasagna recipe that you will ever make.  It requires one mixing bowl and one baking lasagna pan with no boiling .  It creates a firm and easy to slice lasagna with minimal effort and mess.  It takes only a few minutes to prepare and one hour of oven time.

You can use either no-boil lasagna noodles or regular lasagna noodles.  For the no-boil lasagna noodles,   I prefer the ones that are wavy.   If you opt to use regular lasagna noodles, just add more watered-down sauce in the last step to the corners of your pan.  That way, the regular lasagna noodles will soften sufficiently during the baking process.

It is one of our family favorites and it will become yours, too.

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Simple Mini Cheesecakes with Gorgeous Garnishes

Shavuos is on its way!  Cheesecake is one of the staples of the upcoming holiday of Shavuos, since we are commanded to eat dairy foods at our festive meals (Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes) on Shavuos.

This year, Don and I are still on a low-carb diet.    We didn’t want to forego cheesecake, but I wanted to make sure to use a minimum of carbs in my cheesecake preparation.  I decided to create portion-size cheesecakes to keep the portion size well-controlled.  This will allow us to enjoy a taste of heaven without feeling deprived, but keeping our diet “cheating” to a minimum.

Best of all, I skipped the carb-heavy crust and created some beautiful and tasty garnishes to embellish these simple and delicious mini cheesecakes.  They are light, delicious, fresh-tasting, gluten-free and simply divine.

This recipe does not require a springform pan or a water bath for baking.  It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature just before preparation.  Preparation takes a few minutes and the baking takes less than 20 minutes.  It is best made in disposable or porcelain ramekins.  It makes 6 medium size or 12 mini ramekins.

 

Supplies

3-4 inch ramekins Set of 6 three ounce ramekins or aluminum disposable mini ramekins 39mm

 

Ingredients

1 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

mini cheese cakemini cheese cake with strawberry and chocolate garnishmini cheese cake with chocolate barkmini cheese cake with chocolate bark only

Directions

It is best to bring the ingredients to room temperature before baking to prevent cracking, although I have made this recipe effectively with ingredients right out of the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spray ramekins with cooking spray.

Beat  cream cheese with eggs with a whisk, in a food processor or with a mixer, just until smooth and creamy.  Add rest of ingredients, beating and incorporating well.  You may have to scrape sides of bowl to incorporate everything well until combined, smooth and creamy.

Pour mixture into ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way to the top.  I find it easiest to pour the mixture from a glass measuring cup with a spout..

Bake mini ramekins for 15 minutes, 3-4″ ramekins for about 18-20 minutes.  Cheesecake will rise slightly.  Centers should be set, although the cheese cake will appear to be slightly jiggly.

Remove from the oven and  cool completely.  Chill the cheesecakes in the ramekins for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The cheese cakes can be served directly  in the ramekins or can be removed from the ramekins and served upside side.  If removing from the ramekins, carefully turn over on a serving plate.  Allow cheese cake to rest for a few minutes before garnishing.

Garnish with fruit, berries, edible leaves and flowers, chocolate bark (Chards of Colorful Chocolate Bark: Whimsical and Delicious)or whole or crumbled cookies.

 

Variations

This recipe can be made as a small single cheesecake.  Generously grease a round baking pan.  Prepare ingredients as above and pour ingredients into greased round pan.  Increase baking time to 30 minutes or until center is set.  Garnish as above.

 

Prepare a crust by crumbling 1 cup of  your favorite cookies with 3 tablespoons of melted butter or coconut oil.  Press into the bottom of each ramekin and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before pouring cheesecake batter over the crust.  Continue to bake as above.  You may have to gently coax cheesecake out of ramekin or pan using a smooth knife to unseat the edges of the crust.

mini cheese cake with crust and edible pansies

A Few Good Blossoms: Floating Arrangements

I began this SimpletoWow blog in January with an original post,   It’s all about the arrangement (psst….even with last week’s roses), on arranging last week’s open and just-wilting roses.  It was intended to showcase  simple and wow ways to use what you have in surprising and unexpected ways.

last week's roses in a square bowl

As the Jewish holiday of Shavuos approaches (see Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes), I would like to add some other ways to make use of a few good blossoms.

last week's gerber daisies in a large rose bowl

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Upcycled Glass Jar Floral Arrangement: Simply Stunning

My friend Marilyn, and her family joined us for a meal over Pesach (Passover). Since we were in a small apartment in Jerusalem with our extended family, we did not have enough room to host everyone in the dining room. Instead, we set up tables and ate in the courtyard. Marilyn sent flowers before Yom Tov (holiday) in the perfect arrangement. It was a gorgeous grouping of narrow clear bottles lined up side by side in a metal caddy spilling over with white garden roses. The arrangement was narrow and long, just perfect for our narrow outdoor tables.

It created a stunning visual impact without taking away from the table space needed for setting and serving. The white roses lasted for several days, but the centerpiece containers were so easy to fill that I refilled them for the last few days of our stay in Jerusalem with an array of other flowers. Both arrangements were simply stunning.

Over Pesach, I commented so many times about the beauty and the practicality of this centerpiece. I was determined to recreate it with upcycled materials for use back in the States. And….here it is!

upcycled square arrangement-top view (more…)

Bekurim: First Fruits from Hollister

This morning, on my return from my morning walk, my neighbor, Hollister,  surprised me with a wonderful gift.  He handed me a bag with the first heads of lettuce harvested from his vegetable garden.  I protested that he should keep this precious first harvest for himself, but he insisted that he wanted me to have them.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the bounty.  You see…first fruits, also called Bekurim,  are very special.

hollister lettuce up close (more…)

Countdown to Shavuos: Floral Inspirations and Dairy Recipes

We are commanded to count 49 days or 7 weeks of sefira (counting) from Pesach until the holiday of Shavuos.  Every night after it gets dark, we make a bracha and count one more day toward Shavuos.  While Pesach commemorates our becoming a nation and our freedom after our miraculous exodus from Egypt, Shavuos commemorates our receiving of the commandments of the Torah.

There are two holiday customs that are unique to Shavuos.  We eat an assortment of dairy foods and we decorate our homes with flowers and greenery.  Both commemorate the events leading up to the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

We eat a dairy feast on Shavuos, unlike the festive meat meals that we enjoy  on all other holidays during the year.  We learn that “there is no great joy, except in meat and wine”.  On Shavuos we make an exception to that concept and eat at least one festive dairy meal.  There are a number of reasons for the custom on Shavuos to  eat dairy foods on Shavuos.  Here are a couple of those reasons:

As the Torah was received, the Jewish nation became obligated to observe the kosher laws. Since the Torah was given on Shabbos  as a day of rest, cattle could not be slaughtered and utensils could not be koshered.  For this reason, the Jewish nation ate dairy food on that day.  We have kept this custom until today.

The Torah is compared to milk, for it is nourishing and wholesome for our souls. Chalav is the Hebrew word for milk and the numerical value of the letters spelling chalav totals forty.  Moses spent forty (40) days on Mount Sinai when receiving the Torah .

We decorate our homes and synagogues in honor of Shavuos with greenery and flowers.   We commemorate the setting of the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and we mark the observance of Shavuos, known as chag ha’bikurim (festival of the harvest of first fruits). Here are some reasons that we decorate with flowers and greenery on Shavuos:

Mount Sinai was chosen to be the site for the receiving of the Torah because of its humility. Once chosen, the humble and flower-free desert mountain sprouted greenery and flowers.  This adornment of physical beauty enhanced the spiritual beauty of this monumental event.

Since Shavuos is also the festival of the harvesting of first fruits,  it is customary to adorn the home and synagogue with fruits, flowers and greens. During the time of our holy temple in Jerusalem, farmers tied a ribbon around their first fruits and brought those cherished ripe first fruits to Jerusalem in a lavish and joyous ceremony.   Floral decorations on Shavuos commemorate that first fruit ceremony.

The blossoming of our souls with Torah is compared to the the desert blooming with flowers, as it did at the time that the Torah was given on Mount Sinai.  Just as a barren mountain was adorned with flowers at that time, our ordinary lives can bloom with the light of Torah.

It is customary to decorate with  fragrant herbs, plants and flowers around our home and synagogue.  This symbolize the fragrance that Torah brings to the world.

As a countdown to Shavuos, I will be posting floral inspirations and dairy recipes over the next weeks until Shavuos.

Seder Table Ideas and Inspirations

Every year, I try to set a majestic and unique seder table.  There is something magical about that first Pesach (Passover) meal: the anticipation, the new dishes and the silver wine goblets.

seder black tablecloth wide view

Over the years, I have tried all types of tablecloths and seder themes.  There are a few helpful tips that I have incorporated into my seder planning that have stuck and I’d love to share these tips with you.

 

seder table 2

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Simple Low-Carb Broccoli Crust Pizza: Perfect for Passover

brocolli pizza crust-in ovenCauliflower rice has become the rage as an ingredient in faux fried rice and as a low-carb pizza crust alternative.  As an experiment, I tried similar adaptations of broccoli and have found it to work beautifully.

My family is always looking for something delicious and nutritious to eat on Erev Pesach (the eve and day before Passover begins).  Since we cannot eat bread and it is customary not to eat Matzo until the seder, it is a challenge to find satisfying foods that will keep everyone full until the seder begins later in the evening  evening.

I have created this delicious low-carb broccoli pizza recipe, suitable for Pesach.  It is a simple pizza to prepare and pretty much fool-proof, as long as you keep the crust as dry as possible.  It is important to squeeze out any liquid before baking and to layer the cheese on before any sauce to keep the crust as dry as possible.  Feel free to experiment with different toppings.

It is simple.  It is delicious.  It will create a wow for your family this Erev Pesach.

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Five Simple Ways to Rediscover the Wow in Pesach

I love Pesach (Passover).  I love the purity and the newness.  I love the springtime freshness and the themes of freedom and family.  I don’t mind the cleaning and the rotation of special dishes and ingredients.

The secret is that I do a bare minimum of the cleaning and really try to put the emphasis on the true themes of this holiday.  It takes some organization, but there is a true sense of mastery and majesty that comes with Pesach that takes my breath away.

Here are five simple ways to retain the magical wow of Pesach:

(1) Keep the cleaning simple

Focus on ridding your house of chametz (leavened products) only and do not be tempted to do a thorough spring cleaning.  It is not necessary to wash curtains, organize closets and steam-clean your carpets.  If you must, save the spring cleaning until after Pesach.

(2) Stay organized

Start as early as possible segregating the chametz (leavened products) so that you can use up what you have before Pesach.   If possible, shop, prepare menus and recipes and cook in advance so that you are not overwhelmed.  Although I love to prepare fresh meals, for Pesach, I prepare all my baked goods, meats and side dishes in advance and freeze them.   This cuts down on the magnitude of the cooking in the days before Pesach.

(3) Don’t lose your focus

With all that there is to do, make sure that the focus is on freedom, family and tradition. Make sure that everyone is well-rested and prepared before the seder.  Enlist the help of your family and design your seder in a way that is meaningful to all your family members. Try to prepare foods and traditions that will create everlasting memories and keep the food choices and preparations to a minimum.  Encourage each of your family members and guests to share ideas and inspirations at your seder.

(4) Don’t forget to take care of yourself

Try to get enough sleep and relaxation before the holiday begins.  Make sure to eat well, especially  on Erev Pesach (the day of the Passover seder).  Even with the best organization, the magnitude of Pesach preparation is huge, so reward yourself.  Buy yourself something new for the holiday or pamper yourself.  Buy a new tablecloth, a new outfit, a new haggadah or schedule a massage or facial.

(5) Do something to create that eternal wow

Try to take the emphasis off the material preparation and refocus it on the spiritual preparation for the holiday of Pesach.  Take some time to read the Haggadah before the seder, perhaps with a new commentary.   Try to find family outdoor time over Chol Hamoed (intermediary days of Passover) and find time for family discussion about the themes of Pesach before, during and after the seder.

Think about creating a seder table theme.   In the past, our daughter, Leah, has decorated our seder table with elements of the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea.  It gets our family and guests engaged.

Pesach commemorates freedom from our enslavement in Egypt and the beginning of the Jewish people coming together as a nation.  The seder is designed to engage our children and pass our rich heritage and traditions down to others.  Let us remain true to these goals and release ourselves from the enslavement all too often associated with this beautiful holiday.

With best wishes for successful and joyous Pesach preparations….

 

 

Mason Jar Salad with Purim Croutons: A Simple Purim Mishloach Manos Wow

mason jar arugula salad0finished with tag

 

Purim is coming!  One of the mitzvos (commandments) unique to the Jewish holiday of Purim is to deliver gifts of food, called Mishloach Manos, to friends and family. The parameters of this mitzvah require each Jewish adult to send a minimum of two ready-to-eat-foods to at least one person.

I like to send Mishloach Manos that are nutritious and can be served at the Purim seudah, the festive meal served on Purim day.   One of my favorite ideas for  Mishloach Manos are mason jar salads served with croutons.  They  are simple to prepare in advance,  easy to package and are well-received by our recipients.

Mason Jars allow for preparing salad up to two days in advance and are really just an upside down salad. The dressing lays on the bottom of the jar and the salad is layered with the heaviest and wettest ingredients on bottom, working up to lighter ingredients with the salad greens at the top of the mason jar.  It is important to keep the mason jar upright until ready to serve so that the delicate greens are protected from the dressing on the bottom.

Once ready to serve, simply shake the salad vigorously and decant into a bowl.

 mason jar arugula salad

The croutons can me made from leftover bread or challah.  It is a great way to use up leftover bread and challah that you have stored in the freezer.  The mason jars themselves are useful to those receiving them and can be reused in a myriad of different ways.

 

The source for Mishloach Manos is read on Purim from the Purim Megillah, the scroll chronicling the story of Purim in Hebrew.   After the Purim victory , Mordechai, the hero of the Purim narrative,  ordered his fellow Jews ” to make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar… feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”

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