Archive for the 'kosher baking' Category



20
Nov
11

Pecan Pie


Pecan Pie may be a Thanksgiving classic, but it also happens to be a favorite of mine at almost any time. I looked for an easy to make, great tasting recipe and I found this one on one of our must read foodie blogs:

Pecan Pie

Photo by: Irene Saiger from bamitbach.wordpress.com

This recipe was printed in the New York Times many years ago.  It is the only one I use and has never failed me.

  • 1-10″ baked pie shell
  • 1 1/4  cups dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter or pareve margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Partially bake your pie shell.  Remove and allow to cool.  Combine the corn syrup and sugar in a heavy pan.  Bring to a boil and stir till sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Mix in cooled syrup, melted butter, chopped pecans and vanilla.  Pour into pie shell.  Decorate the top of pie with pecan halves.  Bake for about 50 minutes.  Cover crust with foil to prevent from over-browning.   Serves 10

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

28
Sep
11

Yom Tov Recipes – Cranberry Apricot Bread Pudding


Last year we had a few posts with recipes for this time of the year:

Orange Honey Cake

Yom Tov Recipes – Carrot Kugel

Yom Tov Recipes – From Prime Grill’s Chef David Kolotkin

Yom Tov Recipes – Rib Roast

Yom Tov Recipes – Personal Honeyed Chocolate Lava Cake

This year we feature yom tov recipes again and we’ll start this year’s series with one of  Chef Lévana Kirschenbaum‘s dishes, from her new book The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen.

Photo by: Meir Pliskin

Cranberry Apricot Bread Pudding

I often whip up this treat after a party, when I look to recycle my leftover bread. Attention gluten- free diners: This is for you too!

Any bread will do as long as it is not too crusty (in other words, don’t use baguette or ciabatta!). You will love the kick and the bold ruby-colored specks the cranberries add. Nothing to it: All aboard-one step and you’re done! Individual desserts: Pour into greased muffin molds and reduce the baking time to about 45 minutes.

Sometimes cranberries can be hard to find, like in this Rosh Hashanah holiday season, so I am making the pudding with apples, which is every bit as delicious. I have included the apple variation, every bit as delicious and as pretty.

  • 3 cups milk or dairy-free milk, low-fat OK
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-fruit apricot preserves
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water  (settle for 2 tablespoons orange zest)
  • 3 tablespoons apricot brandy or rum
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (food processor)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Mix all ingredients except cranberries by hand in a bowl, breaking up the bread and preserves as you go. Fold in the cranberries. Pour the batter into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan, or a greased 10-inch round pan. Bake for about 1 hour, or a little longer, until the pudding looks nice and puffy, and the center is firm. Serve warm or at room temperature, alone or with caramel sauce (recipe follows), and a scoop of sorbet or vanilla ice cream. Makes a dozen servings.

variation: Apple Bread Pudding GFA

Skip the cranberries and the orange flower water, reduce the milk to 2 cups. Add 4 Granny Smith (green) apples, unpeeled and coarsely grated and 2 tablespoons ciinamon. Proceed just as above.

Caramel Sauce

Another glowing example of a treat known as dairy that doesn’t in the least suffer from a dairy-free adaptation, au contraire! (Go ahead and multiply the recipe if you would like-it keeps very well.)

  • 1 cup Sucanat
  • ½ cup agave syrup
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¾ cup dairy-free milk, low-fat OK
  • ⅓ cup soy or rice milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring the Sucanat, agave, and water to boil in a small saucepan, stirring. When it comes to a boil, stop stirring and cook until thick and a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until perfectly smooth, then carefully add to the saucepan (to avoid splattering). Cook another 3 minutes on a medium flame, whisking. Makes about 2½ cups. Store refrigerated in a glass jar.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

15
Sep
11

Lilly’s Home Style Bake Shop


As I toured Lilly’s Home Style Bake Shop, the sweet aromas wafting through the air, I was transported back to my mother’s kitchen, where the promise of sweet delicious treats were imminent as she prepared Shabbos or Yom Tov cakes and cookies. This past Tuesday morning, I walked the plant with Ethan Lieberman who together with CEO Irving Guttman, started the company in 2004 and kept on expanding the premises as new machinery was needed to streamline production of their growing product line.

Sprinkling cinnamon onto babka dough...

From jumbo to regular sized bagels, to assorted breads and challah types of various shapes and sizes, to mouth watering cakes and danishes, to cookies and biscottis,  all beckoned before my gluttonous Hansel and Gretel eyes as the various doughs were being made, shaped and baked.

Racks filled with challah, chocolate danish, hamentashen and so much more...

Lilly’s (named after Ethan‘s – Avrumi‘s – mother) ships nationally under their own name and under various private labels – including well known supermarket chains and warehouse type wholesalers. The whole operation is supervised by Silliker, a third party approver which specializes in certifying the cleanliness and strict adherence to codes governing this type of operations. Kashrus is under OU supervision.

Fresh and moist! A tray full of chocolate babka, rainbow cookies, black and whites are awaiting me...

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! As for me, I’ll just grab another piece of that decadent babka oozing with chocolate… Get your own, kid!!!

CS

29
Aug
11

Green Tea


Green Tea, originally from China, is making fast inroads in the West where black tea is traditionally consumed. Many scientific studies have been made to determine the truth of its oft claimed health benefits. There seems to be a correlation between regular tea drinking and a lower rate of heart disease and tea may even stimulate fat oxidation, while boosting the metabolic rate by as much as 4% without raising the heart rate.

Why are we posting about green tea, which we’ve mentioned before on these pages? We received quite a few emails asking for a Green Tea Cake recipe, after looking at various posts throughout the blogosphere we settled for this one (it sounds interesting and delicious!). Found it on the Dessert First blog:

Photo by: Pastrygirl, from Dessert First blog

Green Tea Cake with Red Bean Filling

Green Tea Genoise

2 eggs, room temperature
2 ¼ oz confectioners’ sugar
2 ¼ oz ground almonds
1 tsp matcha powder [powdered green tea]
1 oz all purpose flour
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 oz sugar
½ oz butter, melted [substitute margarine to keep it parve]

Red Bean Filling

1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces red beans

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan (about 12″x16″) with a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat.

Combine the eggs with the confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds in a mixer until cream-colored and light.

Add in the matcha powder and combine. You can add more or less depending on your taste, but don’t add more than 1 ½ tsp or it might affect the cake’s texture.

Remove from the mixer. Sift the flour over the egg mixture.

Whip the egg whites in a clean bowl on a mixer at low speed until they start to froth. Then add the cream of tartar and increase mixer speed, whipping until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar and whip for a few seconds longer to incorporate.

Scoop about 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg mixture and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in until uniformly mixed. Pour the melted butter over the batter and fold in to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the half sheet pan and distribute it evenly with an offset spatula, making the layer as level and smooth as possible.

Bake in the oven for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the cake is just firm and lightly brown but not completely brown as this cake should not be over-baked.

Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Slide the cake off the sheet pan and onto a wire rack to cool. When the cake is no longer hot but still warm, place another rack or sheet pan on top of the cake and flip it over, then carefully peel the parchment paper from the cake to prevent it from sticking to the cake. You can place the parchment paper clean side down or a clean Silpat onto the cake, then flip it back over to finish cooling.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, trim off the edges and slice the cake in half along the short side, then cut each piece in half along the long side so you get four 6″x8″ pieces.

Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the red beans gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly distributed; the cream may take on a light reddish tint.

Place cake layer on a covered cake round and frost the top with a quarter of the whipped cream. It’s ok if some of the cream goes over the sides; just try to keep the layer even.

Cover with a cake layer and frost the top with a third of the remaining whipped cream. Repeat until you have assembled all four layers of cake.

Cover the cake and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to serve, trim off the sides of the cake to make them nice and even.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

12
May
11

Date and Nut Bread


I had some dates from Israel and decided to use them in a recipe, I was intrigued by the following one from Elizabeth Wolfe-Cohen‘s Perfect Jewish 


Delicious!!!

Date & Nut Bread

Yields: 12 slices

Directions

  • 1 1/2 cups self rising flour, plus a little more for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground ginger [SYR used 1 tsp]
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped dried dates [SYR did not use dried ones]
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp butter or margarine, softened [SYR used margarine to keep it pareve]
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds [SYR used walnuts]
Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 4″x8″ loaf pan. Line the base and and sides with nonstick baking parchment paper to come to 1″ above the sides. Grease again and dust with flour. Sift the flour, salt and ginger into a bowl.
Put the dates into a large bowl with bicarbonate of soda. Pour over the boiling water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Stir the egg and butter [or margarine if you prefer it pareve] and flour mixture into the date mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the nuts. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, smoothing the top. Tap the pan gently on a surface to expel any air bubbles.
Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour or until set and well colored and the bread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan; a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes , then leave to cool completely Using the paper as a guide, carefully remove the bread from the pan. If not serving the same day keep in the paper to prevent drying out.To serve, remove the paper from the base and sides, slice thinly.
Prep time: 20 minutes – Bake Time – 1 hour

The bread came out very aromatic, it tasted subtly sweet, we had it with some cholov Yisroel Mascarpone cheese made at Pomegranate Supermarket‘s kitchen and recommended by their resident cheese expert, none other than our good friend Elizabeth Bland. We washed it down with a Herzog Selection Chateneuf 2009, a white semi dry with a fresh, fruity bouquet. The bread was delicious, the Mascarpone just right, and the wine proved a perfect pairing!

CS

18
Apr
11

Banging The Drum Slowly


Mom turns 87 this year, ad meah v’esrim. Her pride and joy revolves around her children, grandchildren, home, and her Hungarian rooted cooking. She was the renowned master balabusta of the neighborhood. When she made a Kiddush, everyone came. Her kugels, kishka, holoptzes, homemade sweet cabbage strudel, rum ball cookies, rum mousse, napoleons, chestnut cakesoron-golushkas, kokosh, markosh and diosh were devoured in minutes. Her challas stood tall and statuesquely braided.

I still remember how barbaric her scraping walls of the intestines looked, as she prepped them to be stuffed with gelinglach (lung, rice and lots of pepper), and those sweet breads looking like splattered brain matter, before she sautéed them with mushroom and onions, smelling heavenly- later to become one of my personal favorite delicacies. She made Jewish classics like p’tchah and roasts that melted in your mouth, brust-deckle, tzimmes, Hungarian goulash, and chicken paprikash, and homemade pickles, beets and ugorkashalata (cucumber salad). You name it  she could make it.

I don’t think she ever looked in a recipe book, she measured by eye and taste and what made innate sense to her. She had an uncanny sense for putting together ingredients be it for cooking or baking. Without knowing the chemistry of why she knew how and her tables were overflowing with amazing dishes. And I honestly can’t remember a time when something didn’t come out right, her consistency was truly remarkable. She used to raise thousands for Hadassah and UJA with her luncheons. I remember being floored when all these fancy clad high falutin American women came pouring into our house for her sit down dinner fund raisers. All cultural barriers disappeared as they sat and enjoyed the never ending multi course meals served on Herendi dishes and those blue or forest floral china with the gold accents that are so popular among the Hungarians. The lively chatter and coming together around delicious food in a homey environment was a fabulous success, each and every time. Her Shabbos and Yom Tov meals were no different. Relatives could call up a few hours before Shabbos to say they were coming, and two hours later between the freezer and adding to fresh dishes already on the stove a feastele was ready.

Mom lost cerebellar function close to twenty five years ago, and though it slowed her down, she found a way to continue cooking. It kept her sane, and proved each day that she was still the balebusta of the house. Nowadays, mom’s still at it. She makes the most delicious aromatic chicken soup; you would smell the parsley and dill welcoming the Shabbos malachim into our home every week. The freezer is till filled with plastic containers filled of her golden elixir, in case anybody gets hungry or needs a refuah.

This year she announced that she’s giving up baking. So this past Purim, I baked mom’s markosh and diosh and brought the loaves down and she prepared plates for her few surviving Hungarian friends and close neighbors. One of the delicacies mom served on Pessachwere her drum cookies. I’ve made a batch in her honor and lovingly share them with you now. I warn you, they are decadent and outrageous.

Drum cookies, addictive, delicious...

Drum Cookies

Yields 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar (à la Levana) Or use Kosher for Passover baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely ground nuts- preferably filberts or pecans, for rolling the cookie sandwich

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Whip eggs with the cream of tartar and the salt until fluffy and shiny.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, starch and vanilla, and continue whipping until very stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold in the nuts gently, until thoroughly incorporated
  5. Spoon half dollar dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. you will get approximately 20 -24 drops.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, or a little longer, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown and the tops feel firm.
  7. Set aside to cool

Cream Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 cup real chocolate melted
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee powder
  • 2 tbsp. water

Directions

  1. Whip the margarine in mixer, slowly add the chocolate and the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Chill for an hour before filling.
  3. Spoon about a tbsp. of filling onto cookie ( flat sides of cookie on outside), place another cookie on top and then roll in ground nuts.
  4. Chill before serving.

Enjoy!

SYR

14
Jan
11

Jachnun


Ever since I first tasted it at a Shabbat kidush in shull, I can barely eat cholent without it anymore. Looking to make my own  jachnun, rather than buy it, I found the following on Astray Recipes:

Making jachnun - Photo from: travelpod.com

Jachnun

Ingredients

  • 3¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup margarine; cut into 6 pieces

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor and process to blend. Add egg and 1 cup water and process with on/off turns to mix. With motor running, gradually add remaining water, about 1/4 cup, adding enough so mixture comes together to a smooth, fairly stiff dough. It will be sticky. Remove from processor.
  2. Knead dough well by slapping vigorously on the work surface. Divide into 6 pieces and knead each one with a slapping motion until smooth. Roll each in your palm to a ball.
  3. Put on an oiled plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Oil working surface and rolling pin. Let margarine stand at room temperature until very soft.
  5. Roll out 1 ball of dough on oiled surface to a very thin 12-inch square. To help stretch dough, pull it gently from time to time by hand, until very thin. If dough tears, simply press it together. Spread with a piece of soft margarine. Fold in half, then in half again to make a long strip. Roll up strip from a short side in a tight cylinder. Repeat with 5 remaining pieces of dough.
  6. Put in greased, shallow 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with foil and a lid and refrigerate at least 2 or up to 8 hours. Preheat oven to 200 F. Bake pastries 13-14 hours or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Source: “International Jewish Cookbook“, by Faye Levy, Warner Books 1991. Found on the Internet.

Personally, I’ll skip the sixth step. I’ll take one serving put it in the cholent and freeze the others to be used on subsequent weeks. I also add some hardboiled eggs (Yemenite custom) which by lunch time, on Shabbos, taste superb having cooked for so many hours on low heat.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

06
Jan
11

Olive Oil


Ever since this past Kosherfest, we are getting quite a few questions about olive oil. There were a few olive oil producers at the show and apparently people got very interested in their products. Just as we finally thought we’d better blog, explain and demystify olive oil, we came across this superb post by Chef Laura Frankel – who explains it far better than we could – on her blog:

From lauraskosher.com, Chef Laura Frankel's blog

OLIVE OIL 101

Olive oil is the fruit oil obtained from the olive. Commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, soaps and fuel for lamps, olive oil is grown and used throughout the world but especially in the Mediterranean.

Olive oil is produced by grinding or crushing and extracting the oil. A green olive produces bitter oil and an overripe olive produces rancid oil. For great extra virgin olive oil it is essential to have olives that are perfectly ripened.

Purchasing olive oil and knowing how to use it can be confusing. Add to that, the kashrut factor and it is no wonder that consumers and home cooks are bewildered by the array of products on supermarket and specialty market shelves.

Here is a summary of olive oils and their uses:
• Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. The superior fruity flavor makes this oil best used for vinaigrettes, drizzling on soups, pastas for added richness and a fruity taste and for dipping breads and vegetables. Extra virgin olive oil does not require hashgacha (even for Pesach) as it is cold pressed.
• Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%. This oil is best used for sautéing and for making vinaigrettes. It is generally not as expensive as the extra virgin olive oil but has a good taste. Does require hashgacha.
• Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil. This oil is perfect for sautéing. It does not have a strong flavor and can be used for making aiolis and cooking. Does require hasgacha.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil. It is typically more expensive than other olive oils. Extra virgin olive oil is typically not recommended for high heat cooking. Every oil has a smoke point. A smoke point refers to the heat temperature at which the oil begins to break down and degrade. An oil that is above its smoke point not only has nutritional and flavor degradation but can also reach a flash point where combustion can occur. You can observe this when you have a very hot pan and hot oil and food is added to the pan and it produces a bluish and acrid smelling smoke or worse yet, catches fire.

Extra virgin olive oil has a very low smoke point of 375. I use my best extra virgin olive oil for making vinaigrettes, adding luxurious fruity flavor to pasta dishes, garnishing foods, baking and dipping breads.
Extra virgin olive oil has a long list of health benefits from reducing coronary artery disease and cholesterol regulation.

My favorite extra virgin olive oil is an unfiltered oil from Spain. It is rich, luscious and smells like artichokes and tomatoes. I recently tasted an oil from France that was rich and buttery. Olive oils like wines have a distinct taste or terroir depending upon where they are grown. I urge home cooks to shop the specialty and gourmet shops for their olive oil. The supermarket oils are often lacking in flavor and are frequently misleading in the origin of the olives. The bottle may say that the oil was bottled in Italy but not mention where the olives were grown. The olives could have come from many different countries and in different stages of ripeness which yields an off tasting oil.
Estate grown oils are picked at the perfect stage of ripeness and pressed right after harvest. This ensures a balanced oil that is luscious.

Baking with olive oil is easy and yields a moist delicious cake. I use Meyer lemons in this recipe. Meyer Lemons are a cross between a tangerine and a lemon. They are sweet and very juicy. They are in season now and can be found at most markets around the country.

MEYER LEMON-OLIVE OIL POUND CAKE

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer Lemon zest
  • ¼ cup Meyer Lemon juice
  • ¾ cup
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a tube pan and set aside.

  1. Whisk together olive oil, sugar, eggs and milk.
  2. Gently stir in flour, salt and baking powder until a thick batter forms.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 50-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Lemon Glaze

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup or brown rice syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean, scraped
  1. Simply combine all ingredients together in a large and heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until the mixture reaches 110 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  2. Pour evenly over cooled cake and allow to harden before serving.

Enjoy the cake recipe and your use of olive oil whether in your salads or anything else.

CS

RELATED POST

Olive Oil Orange Cake

04
Jan
11

Spelt Bread


[Gil Marks is the author of numerous books, including his latest, the highly-acclaimed Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. CS]

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with various grains in place of common wheat in breads. I’ve made rye bread many times over the years, but always with some wheat flour in the dough. A couple of weeks ago, I baked a 100% rye bread, which turned out rather flat and very dense and with a nutty, fruity flavor. It was perfect with lox. I have some einkorn flour in the refrigerator awaiting use in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying spelt bread the past few weeks.

Triticum spelta L. (Photo from: plants/usda.gov)

Spelt (triticum spelta L.) – dinkel in German and Yiddish; farro grande in Italian; kusmin in Modern Hebrew — is a hexaploid species of wheat (it has 42 chromosomes), like common wheat. Spelt is a hybrid of emmer (a tetraploid wheat with 28 chromosomes) and a wild goat grass (Aegilops tauschii), possibly occurring north of the Caucasus or in Crimea. The kernels are slightly longer and more pointed than those of wheat, somewhat resembling barley in appearance. Spelt is a hulled grain (spelze in German and farro in Italian), meaning the husk remains attached to the kernel during threshing and requires much pounding and effort to extract the grain. (Common wheat and durum wheat are free-threshing grains in which the hulls easily slip off.) Spelt is also relatively low yielding. However, spelt grows well in poor soil and without the need for pesticides, since, as with most hulled grains, it naturally resists fungus and insects.

It was in Bronze and Iron Age (750-15 BCE) Europe where spelt found its greatest popularity, becoming the predominant wheat species of Germany and Switzerland. The word spelta, believed to be of Saxon origin, was first recorded in 301 CE in an edict of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the Romans possibly introduced to the grain after expanding the empire northward. Romans, however, preferred common wheat, which they spread through their domains. Ashkenazim mistakenly confused spelt with both the Talmudic shiphon (probably einkorn) and the Biblical kussemet (probably emmer or a generic term for hulled wheat, of which emmer was then the most prominent), as one of the Five Species of grain forbidden on Passover and also requiring the removal of challah. (As a member of the wheat family, spelt is still forbidden on Passover and requires challah removal.) Rashi (Pesachim 35a) translated kusmin into Old French as espelte, which is usually translated as spelt, but may actually mean hulled wheats in general, similar to the German Spelzen and Italian farro. Spelt was not grown in biblical or Talmudic Israel or Egypt and there is no archeological evidence for this grain anywhere in the ancient Near East or Egypt.

Green Kern spelt - Photo from allergome.org

In the late medieval period, as new species of naked wheat became prevalent in central Europe, spelt consequently lost its attractiveness. Nevertheless, spelt remained the predominant grain in southern Germany until the nineteenth century. Still, it retains a degree of popularity in parts of southern Germany and southwestern Poland. Today, spelt’s primary form is husked and kiln-dried, the resulting grains called gruenkern (literally “green kernels”). Harvesting green grains, such as barley for the biblical Omer offering, is an ancient practice devised to collect a small part of a springtime crop while still immature, thereby salvaging at least that portion, in case a heavy storm would potentially damage or rot the entire yield.

Primarily produced in parts of southern Germany and southwestern Poland, gruenkern is rare in America, but found in some specialty food stores. Germans use the greenish-tan kernels in soups, stews, puddings, gruels, breads (mixed with wheat flour), and fritters. Today, many German families, instead of shalet (cholent), slow simmer gruenkernsuppe overnight to commence Sabbath lunch. The first edition of The Settlement Cook Book (1901), the author from a German-Jewish heritage, included a recipe for “Green Kern Soup,” directing “2 qts. soup stock or poultry soup, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon celery, diced, 2 cups green kern, 1 cup Croutons, 2 cups boiling water, 1 teaspoon salt. Wash green kern in cold water, then cook in boiling salted water 2 hours or until tender, add the celery. As water evaporates add soup stock, page 66. If you are making fresh soup take the “top soup” and keep adding it strained to the green kern, until the desired consistency. Season to taste. Serve hot with Croutons, page 81. If you prefer, dry the green kern on back of stove, grind fine and cook until tender in the soup. Just before serving pour on one or two egg yolks well beaten and serve hot with Croutons.”

Spelt is also used in central Europe to make ale, noodles, pancakes, and bread. Spelt contains a lower amount of omega gliadins (proteins) that engender gluten than common wheat and, therefore, can sometimes be tolerated by those with wheat allergies to common wheat, which has been bred to contain a massive amount of gluten. For some, but not all of those who face problems with common wheat (not those with celiac disease), spelt is fine. Otherwise, the fat and amino acid content of common wheat and spelt are similar.

As to my spelt bread, the results were very good. Spelt bread is a bit more crumbly and not quite as high rising as common wheat loaves as well as a light brown hue. But it is still rather fluffy inside, has a crusty exterior, and with a somewhat nutty taste. In many ways, spelt flour can be used similarly to common wheat. However, spelt dough, since its gluten is more fragile and soluble, requires less kneading than common wheat, only 4 to 5 minutes by hand (wheat bread is typically 10 minutes of kneading). Also use less water than in wheat dough (which will weaken the gluten), meaning a firmer dough. However, the dough should not be too dry, or the bread will turn out too dense. I understand that bread machines, which I won’t use anyway, overstress the gluten and produce inferior spelt loaves.

In case you feel like experimenting, here’s my recipe for spelt bread (Dinkelbrot):

Spelt bread (dinkelbrot) - Detail from photo by: thefreshloaf.com

Spelt Bread

(1 medium loaf about 24 ounces)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees (40 to 46 C) for dry yeast
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • About 3¼ cups spelt flour (13 ounces/365 grams)

Directions

  1. To make the dough: Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup water. Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining water, oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Gradually add enough remaining flour until the mixture holds together.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes. (Less than wheat flour.) Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, divide in half, and form into a ball. Place, seam side down, on a parchment paper-lined or greased large baking sheet or in a greased 8-inch round baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
  5. With a sharp knife, slit an X in the top. Bake until the bread is golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

Enjoy!

Gil Marks

02
Dec
10

A Freilachen Chanukkah – Chag Chanuka Sameach


In some households wittingly or unwittingly some things may border on imitating goyishe ways with gifts becoming more important than the actual message of Chanukkah. The Menorahs that we light and put by the windows or doorways, whether simple or ornate are a testament that in spite of all our faults, Hakodosh Boruch Hu finds us worthy of being saved. Every mighty empire of yore, conquered us. Every mighty empire of yore found it necessary to torture, kill and try to obliterate us as a people and every mighty empire of yore only has the ruins of its long lost glory to show for all its troubles, as each of these once mighty empires has been relegated to the dustbins of history. And yet, we Jews are still here in spite of our numerous enemies past and present.

The late British historian, Professor Arnold Toynbee referred to the Jew as “the fossil of history.” How hopelessly wrong the good professor was! How absent his understanding of the real force behind history!

A fossil is inert, dead. Look at tiny Israel, it produces more literature, scientific and technical books per year than the whole Arab world together. Its medical advances save lives all over the world… all this in spite of the constant non stop threats and terrorism emanating from the countries that surround it.

Chanukka is not just a time for latkes and sufganyot, not only do we light candles but families come together in ways not always apparent on regular days. To remember our past, to pay homage to the people we are, to celebrate our future we looked for fun items at Kosherfest, items that would help bring the true message of Chanukka alive. We found these 3D cupkake and cake molds in the shape of dreidels from The Kosher Cook. Bake together with your child, it’s fun, it’s educational and it binds both of you. The laughs, the hugs, the delight, the love, those are all part of the message and the rejoicing of Chanukka.

Dreidel Cake mold

3D Dreidel mold

After using the 3D Dreidel mold – we used a cake mix, Duncan Hines’ Devils Food – we put the pieces together and got these results:

Delicious dreidel cupcakes!

The one on the left was decorated with Nut Crunch, the one on the right with Assorted Nonpareils. Not bad!

These molds are available on line at The Kosher Cook, at your favorite Judaica store and kosher supermarkets. Check out the website, they have lots of fun and interesting items. Enjoy cooking with your children and as you light the oil on the menorah rekindle the light of love in your and your child’s heart.

If anyone cares to send us some pictures of things they’ve done with their children, we’ll gladly post them on these pages.

Please send them to: kosherscene@gmail.com

SYR




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