Cheesecake and blintzes are probably the two most popular dishes that are served on the Shavuot table, but being me, I like to find at least one new dish to put on my table. One of the first recipes that caught my eye in Joan Nathan‘s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, was a quick bread that had goat cheese, dried apricot and mint. The combination of the creamy goat cheese and apricots really appealed to me, and it was a simple recipe that could be made without much effort. I used sour apricots because I think that they give a stronger apricot flavor than the Mediterranean ones. This quick bread is delicious and is perfect for a elegant brunch, afternoon tea, or served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and cut in quarters, for a dairy dinner.
1 cup chopped dried apricots (prefer sour or California apricots)
2 tablespoons roughly minced mint leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried mint
Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with baking paper.
Add the eggs to a large bowl, and beat well. Add the milk and oil and whisk until smooth.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl, and then add to the egg mixture. Stir until it is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the Gruyère, Cheddar, or Comté, crumble the goat cheese on top, and then scatter the apricots and the mint. Pull a knife gently through the batter to blend the ingredients slightly.
Bake for 40 minutes. Cool briefly, and remove the bread from the pan, peeling off the baking paper. Slice and serve warm. You can also make it in advance and freeze it.
Here is a guest post from my friend, Emily Segal, who is a certified holistic nutrition counselor and writes a blog on her website, Triumph Wellness. Be sure to sign up for one of her classes, such as Sugar Detox. You won’t be disappointed. I learned a lot and came home with recipes that helped relieve my sugar cravings.
There’s no need to stay out of the kitchen just because it’s hot! Here in Israel we have a long, hot, dry summer season. From our last rain in April to our first rain in November, we have about 6 months of tediously bright sunny skies and brain-shriveling high heat. If you’re anything like me, summer makes you feel like a dried out raisin in serious need of re-hydration.
The long days and bright sunshine of summer generally lift our spirits and moods. But we should also understand that the heat of the summer can be a negative source of stimulation as well. Due to longer, lighter days we are generally more active and all this activity produces heat within our bodies. What’s more, larger crowds of tourists, and the general race to get as much done before going away on holiday can easily result in hot tempers, impatience, anger, and road rage, all outward expressions of too much inner heat.
How can we combat the effects of our seemingly endless summer? Well, Mother Nature outfits us with the perfect harvest for each season and summer is no exception. Here are some seasonal nutritional tips to keep both body and mind refreshed and alert this summer and help you cope with the summer heat.
1. Water-filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and watermelons are cooling and refreshing. The sweet stone fruits, nectarines, plums, peaches and even mangoes, all provide the high-sugar content we are going to need to meet our high-energy demands.
2. Cooling spices and plenty of fresh green herbs, for example, fennel and cilantro, mint, and basil. Here in Israel it is popular to make amazingly refreshing herbal iced teas from garden fresh herbs such as mint, fennel (shumar), lemon verbena (Louisa) and lemon balm (Melissa). No need to add sugar!
3. Green or white fresh vegetables such as cabbage, artichoke, asparagus, lettuces, celery, purslane (regilat) and fennel, lightly steamed or served raw with a simple sprinkle of lemon and olive oil.
4. Cooling cereals and grains like rice, barley or millet are preferred over potatoes and the other starchy root vegetables which should be harvested and eaten in colder seasons.
What about spicy food? Have you ever heard that people who live in hot climates traditionally eat spicy food to cause sweating and cool themselves down? While it is true that spicy food will cause sweating, and that the air moving across your sweaty brow will feel cooling, your body temperature actually rises when eating spicy foods and you are indeed hotter. The probable reason for spicy food consumption in hot climates is that the hot spices worked as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agents and helped people survive eating food that had perhaps spoiled in the heat. So save your hot peppers for winter unless you question the freshness of what you are eating!
Here is a favorite recipe of mine, one I teach in my Detox Workshops, which is perfect for staying cool and hydrated in the summer heat:
Fresh lemon and cucumber blend into pure hydration for beautiful cells and skin. Lemon is juicy with electrolytes to re-hydrate the body. Just a pinch of sea salt lifts the flavor and actually allows your cells to drink deeply. Mint is cooling and refreshing, but any of the herbs mentioned above can be substituted. A date is used as a natural sweetener and for energy needs.
1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
1 handful fresh mint leaves
½ lemon, peeled and seeded
1 date, pitted and soaked 10 minutes
Dash sea salt
1½ cups water
Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour through a strainer or sieve for extra smoothness. Serve chilled.