Tag Archives: Jewish

Almond-Raisin and Chocolate-Nutella Rugelach

Rugelach

Rugelach was always one of those desserts that I wanted to try to make.  For whatever reason, there seemed to be some mystery to it, some complexity locked within its spiral shape.  At the bakery or deli, I always peered through the glass cases with equal parts wonder and admiration.  How did they get that perfect spiral shape?  How did they get the filling so evenly distributed?

In bakeries with rugelach, I always felt tempted to try one.  What was an ordinary, cookie or brownie, when there was rugelach.  What was a simple circle or square when there was a dough-filled spiral?  Indeed, each bakery Continue reading

Kasha Varnishkes

This is one of those recipes from the old-country, dating back – literally – over a thousand years.  But that doesn’t make it a relic, some phonograph gathering dust in the attic, that’s brought down once a year so that grandchildren can marvel at the sound-machines of yesteryear.  This recipe is nothing more than last year’s iPod, ready to figure into the regular rotation of modern life.

This recipe has all the attributes of a modern meal.  Continue reading

Beef Brisket

In 1969, Georges Perec published La Disparition, a mystery novel of sorts.  The book centers around the disappearance of Anton Vowl, and traces his winding path through the various chapters of his life – though chapter five is omitted.  La Disparition, or “The Disappearance,” is a story and not a story.  The novel tells a tale, but also functions as an exercise.  Which captures the essence of Georges Perec.

Georges Perec belonged to OULIPO, a workshop of famous French authors.  The workshop for potential literature (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) was both a place and a style.  One of its co-founders, Raymond Queneau, published Exercises de Style, in which he wrote the same story ninety-nine different ways.  This was hardly unusual.  Perec, Queneau, and the other members delighted in wordplay.  They wrote Continue reading

Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

In a country divided between twelve political parties, finding common ground can be no easy task.

Indeed, Israelis are as likely to disagree about politics as they are about food.  Ashkenazim (Jews of European ancestry) have their culinary traditions, and Sephardim (Jews of Spanish and Middle-Eastern ancestry) have theirs.  Even the origins of falafel and hummus have been bitterly debated, with Arabs and Jews alike claiming the food as their own.

Fortunately, all Israelis can rally around sufganiyot.  Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are Continue reading

Apple-Cinnamon Cake

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Jewish holidays are nothing if not symbolic.  And part of the symbolism naturally encompasses the food.  On Purim, it’s hamantashen, triangular confections meant to evoke the villain of the day.  On Passover, it’s matzah, unleavened bread meant to evoke the speed with which the ancient Jews fled Pharaoh’s Egypt.  On Hanukkah, it’s latkes, fried potato pancakes meant to evoke the miracle of the burning oil.

Rosh Hashanah, which begins this Friday at sunset, is no different.  Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and to ensure that the new year is a sweet and good one, it’s customary to eat apples and honey.  But unfortunately, where there’s honey, there’s honey cakes – too often a dry, and Continue reading

Hamantashen

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According to an old Jewish joke, if you put three Jews on a committee, you’ll get four different opinions. . .which is exactly the number of different explanations I found detailing the origins of Hamantashen.

Hamantashen are triangular cookies that are served during the Jewish holiday, Purim.  Purim tells the story of how the Jewish people in Persia avoided persecution at the hands of the King’s vizier, Haman.  The three-cornered confections, commonly filled with jam or a poppy-seed concoction, owe their shape to Haman’s ear, clipped with shame.  Or maybe to his triangular hat, which was the style at the time.  Or maybe to his pockets weighted with bribe money.  Or maybe to the three Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  In other words, no one really knows.

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Even the origins of the word are disputed.  One explanation says Hamantashen derives from the Hebrew word “tash” for weakened, so that the word refers to Haman’s defeat.   A second source Continue reading