Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

Shabbat is a special time for me because it is about light, taste and touch. Light from the Shabbat candles, taste from the special foods that you prepare for your family and touch is the laying your hands on each other when you bless one another and your children.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there were hardly any single Jewish men for me to go out with. I never dated Jewish men until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. And then, I moved to Israel and met my husband. The first time we celebrated Shabbat together tears welled up in my eyes because I realized that this is what I was always looking for, someone to spend Shabbat with me who understands the emotions behind this special moment in time.

My husband and I take turns preparing Shabbat dinner. We both like to experiment with different herbs, spices, fruits and sauces.

Last Friday, my husband made roasted chicken and stuffed it with oranges and sprinkled orange juice, grated orange rind, rosemary, thyme and garlic on the chicken. He then placed carrots, sweet potato slices and quartered white potatoes around the chicken and roasted it the oven.

Sometimes I stuff the chicken with rice, couscous or bulgar and add dried cherries or apricots or figs, orange quarters, fresh ginger and lemons or put pomegranate molasses on the chicken. It just depends on my mood.

I make the challah that my father taught me how to bake. He is an excellent cook and I owe most of my cooking skills to him. This is not a quick and dirty recipe, but it makes the most delicious, rich challah. It is a great bread to use for French toast.

Challah

Yield: 1 wedding size loaf, 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 4 small loaves

This recipe is from The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. This is a cake-like challah. Great for the holidays or anytime.

2 c lukewarm water

3 pkg or 3 tbsp. dry yeast or 1 cube (50g) fresh yeast

8 c or more unbleached flour

1-1/2 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb (224g) butter or margarine

4 beaten eggs

1 beaten egg for glaze

Variation: add golden raisins during first kneading. Reduce sugar by 1/2 cup.

Mix water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add 3 c. flour and 1 c. sugar. Stir with a fork and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

Meanwhile, put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in another bowl. Add margarine or butter and cut with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of 30 minutes, add 4 eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well (will decrease in volume).

Add flour/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture and knead in the bowl. If sticky, add up to 2 more cups of flour.

Knead well on floured board until smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and cover with towel. Put in warm place and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide into 1 to 4 parts depending on whether you want small, medium, large or wedding size loaves. Divide each part into 3 equal parts, roll into braids and braid, pinching ends. Place on an oiled or silicone-lined baking sheet(s). Cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible (3 - 5 hours).The longer you can let it rise without killing the yeast, the lighter it will be.

When the bread has finished rising, brush with the egg glaze and bake at 350F (180C) for 50-55 minutes (1 wedding size loaf), 45-50 minutes (2 large loaves), 30-45 minutes (3 medium loaves) or 30 minutes (4 small loaves).

This bread can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/29/shabbat-a-special-moment-in-time/

Passover Preparations

We are going to my cousin’s in Jerusalem as we do every year and we always bring the charoset, chicken soup with matza balls and dessert. I always try to bring a different dessert.

I am still trying decide what to bring this year. Maybe one of these:

  • Torta di Carote from the Veneto region
  • Persian Rice Cookies
  • Super Moist Banana & Almond Cake
  • Chocolate Almond Torte with cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a dark chocolate glaze

Last year I made Gâteau à l’Orange et au Gingembre from one of my favourite blogs, Chocolate & Zucchini. It is a moist cake that has an intense orange and ginger flavour. I might be tempted to make it again this year. It was a huge hit. And, it is very easy to make.

Gâteau à l'Orange et au Gingembre

Serving Size: 8 - 10

Orange and Ginger Cake From Chocolate and Zucchini

For the cake:

3 small oranges or 2 large oranges (preferably organic)

6 eggs

250g (1-1/3 cups) sugar

250g (1-1/3 cups) almond flour or almond meal

Thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger

1/4 C candied ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the glaze:

Zest and juice of a lemon

60 g (1/3 cup) thick sugar crystals, the type used as a topping for chouquettes or brioches

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease a 24 cm (8-inch) springform cake pan.

Clean and scrub the oranges well. Put them in a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Put the saucepan over medium heat, and simmer for two hours, adding a little hot water when the level gets too low (note : you may, like me, find the smell of whole oranges boiling very unpleasant, but it has nothing to do with the smell or taste of the finished product). Drain, and let cool. Cut in quarters and puree in the food processor.

Peel and chop the fresh ginger. Cut the candied ginger in small dice. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the orange puree, the sugar, the almonds, the baking powder, the fresh ginger, until well blended. Fold in the bits of candied ginger.

Pour the batter in the cake pan, and bake for about an hour, until puffy and golden. Let cool for a few minutes on a rack, while you prepare the frosting. Run a knife around the cake to loosen it, and remove the sides of the pan.

Put the sugar crystals in a small bowl with the lemon juice and zest. Spoon this mixture evenly onto the top of the cake. Let cool completely before serving. It can be made a day ahead, wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/14/passover-preparations/

The second dessert I made were chocolate-covered Weesper Moppen, which are Dutch almond cookies. They are chewy cookies with a wonderful almond flavour which can be made plain and rolled in coarse sugar or covered in dark chocolate. I like them because they are not very sweet.

Chocolate- Covered Weesper Moppen

Yield: About 20 cookies

250g (8oz + 2 tablespoons) coarse almond paste or grind 125g//1/2 cup of blanched almonds and 125g (1/2 cup) of fine sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

1 small egg

200g (8oz) 80% dark chocolate (Valrhona or some other premium brand), melted

Mix everything except the chocolate together until you have a soft paste.

Wet your hands with cold water, and roll the paste into log. It will still be very sticky and a bit hard to manage. You could roll them in a little kosher for Pesach icing sugar or put the dough in plastic wrap and roll it into a log and place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up a little.

With a sharp knife (wipe it between cuts) cut the dough into 20 rounds about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or a silpat liner.

Let them dry out for about 2 hours. I put them in a cold oven, with the fan on, for one hour, which worked excellently!

Then, preheat the oven to 200 C / 375 F. When the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Check that they don't brown too much. Remove them from the sheet, let them cool.

After they have cooled, dip them in the melted chocolate. You can either cover the entire cookie or just one side.

They will dry out a bit more as they cool, but they should still be slightly chewy. They are best served the same day or the following day.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/14/passover-preparations/

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