Shishi Israeli: Shabbat Experience With the Israeli American Council

Devorah Selber, in the maroon apron, and Mazal Fellah, in the striped apron, with volunteers cooking for Shishi Israeli.

Devorah Selber, in the maroon apron, and Mazal Fellah, in the striped apron, with volunteers cooking for Shishi Israeli.

Have you ever enjoyed an Israeli-style Shabbat dinner? They tend to be casual family get-togethers, with delicious home-cooked food. Even many secular Israelis still congregate for Shabbat dinner every Friday evening, sans the blessings. If you are not fortunate enough to have an Israeli relative to invite you, you may now join the Israeli American Council (IAC) community for potluck Shabbat dinners. The main courses are cooked at the venue by a group of volunteers, lead by Devorah Selber and Mazal Fellah. [Read more…]

Festive Bukharan Purim Bread

Photo by PRODebraj Ghosh https://www.flickr.com/photos/debraj/

Photo by PRO Debraj Ghosh

Jews have lived in the Central Asian city of Bukhara since the reign of King David. One of their unique Purim specialties is an intricately decorated flatbread called Kulchi Ravghaniy. Flatbreads have been baked in Bukhara for over 12,000 years, and are described in one of the world’s oldest written stories, The Epic of Gilgamesh. In Bukhara bread symbolizes life. Jews celebrate the life of Queen Esther and the Jewish community by serving these festive loaves during the Purim feast. [Read more…]

Food on the Brain: Top Brain Boosters and Brain Drainers

By Dr. Christopher Calapai

The foods you have in your pantry and fridge may be helping or hindering your brain. The foods we choose have a lot to do with how sharp, attentive, alert, focused and happy we feel after they are consumed. [Read more…]

Tu BiShvat Tagine

Photo by Serena Epstein https://www.flickr.com/photos/serenae/

Tagine Clay Pot. Photo by Serena Epstein.

In Morocco, the Jewish community would celebrate Tu BiShvat by gathering for a collective feast. Tu BiShvat is the New Year of the trees as described in the Mishna. The wealthiest family would serve a delectable slow cooked meat and dried fruit dish called a tagine. It was named after the special clay pot used to prepare the stew. Traditionally it was prepared with chicken or lamb, dried fruits, and nuts. When the feast ended, every person went home with their hat filled with a gift of various fruits.
You may celebrate with your friends and family with a taste of North African hospitality this Tu Bishvat. On February 10th, when winter is in full force in Philadelphia, serve an exotic fruity chicken tagine. Send your guests home with a care package of fresh or dried fruits, just like the parnassim of Casablanca, Tangiers, and Tetouan.

Photo by Scottish Association of Geography Teachers https://www.flickr.com/photos/sagtmorocco/

Chicken Tagine. Photo by Scottish Association of Geography Teachers.

Chicken Tagine with Honey and Dried Fruits
Adapted from Cuisine Marocaine

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add the chicken and onions.
  3. Season with the ginger, cinnamon, saffron, salt, and pepper.
  4. Mix in the honey.
  5. Toast the almonds in a hot non-stick frying pan.
  6. Place the almonds in the pot.
  7. Add the dates, garlic, cilantro, and broth.
  8. Bring to a boil, cover the pot tightly with a lid, and lower the flame to a simmer.
  9. Cook for 30 minutes.
  10. Serve with fluffy steamed couscous.

Enjoy!

Akara: Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

What should you serve when the last night of Hanukkah abuts the secular New Year’s Eve? The Yoruba tribe of West Africa offers the perfect recipe for a mash-up of traditions. It makes it possible for you to combine the American southern custom of serving black-eyed peas for good luck with the Hanukkah tradition of serving latkes. The result is akara, one of the most popular snacks in West Africa. [Read more…]

Hanukkah Rosettes

639px-rosettecookieWould you like to serve a fried treat that is delicious and beautiful this Hanukkah? Surprise your family and friends with a delicate rose, created from batter, shaped by a metal cookie cutter, and cooked in olive oil. This ethereal treat harks back to ancient Persia, medieval German woodcutters, and the Ottoman Empire.

The technique of deep-frying foods originated in the Mediterranean in the 5th Century BCE. The most commonly used oil was olive oil. As traders took this art to Persia, cooks poured batter into the hot oil, and then immersed the fritter in a syrup of rosewater and sugar. In the 15th Century CE elaborate wooden molds were carved in Europe for shaping gingerbread cookies. Both the mold carving and gingerbread baking were controlled by guilds. In the 18th Century CE the wood was replaced by tin, and shaped cookies were democratized. Everyone could bake their own fancy cookies! The cooks of the Ottoman Empire brought all these traditions together to create a beautiful fritter called demir tatlisi. They dipped iron molds in the shape of flowers in batter and deep-fried them. A warm syrup of sugar, water, and lemon was allowed to simmer on the side. After all the cookies were fried, they were dipped in the syrup and served. Visiting European diplomats brought these recipes to Europe, where they were adopted. Scandinavia fell in love with the flower cookies, calling them Struva. The syrup was replaced with powdered sugar. When the British discovered them, they named them rosettes. You may surprise your Hanukkah guests with beautiful flower shaped fritters.

Hanukkah Rosettes
Adapted from Kari Diehl

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Powdered sugar
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Special equipment: you will need a rosette mold https://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Swedish-Rosette-Timbale-3286/dp/B0000VLYB8

    1. Mix the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.
    2. Refrigerate the batter for 2 hours.
    3. Heat the oil in a heavy pot to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
    4. Pour the batter into a shallow casserole dish.
    5. Heat the rosette mold in the oil.
    6. Dip the hot mold in the batter so that the bottom and sides are coated, but not the top.
    7. Submerge the mold and batter in the hot oil.
    8. Fry until golden brown.
    9. Place the rosettes on a paper towel to blot the excess oil.
    10. Arrange the rosettes on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    Hanukkah Chili

    As winter descends over Philadelphia, we get to drive away the darkness with our Hanukkah lights. One way to make our Hanukkah parties more festive is to cook a large pot of chili. Served with corn chips or some fresh crusty bread and assorted garnishes, it is the perfect main course to enjoy before the latkes, sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and chocolate gelt make their appearance. [Read more…]

    The Bounty of the Sea

    Photo by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

    Photo by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris.

    It is common to visualize the Thanksgiving feast as a beautifully set table with a large, golden-brown roasted turkey at the center, surrounded by fall vegetables and cornbread. Perhaps it would be more accurate, though, to feature a platter of fish. The Wampanoag tribe, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1621, depended on the Atlantic Ocean for much of their sustenance. The Native Americans foraged for mushrooms, berries, wild herbs and nuts to supplement their diet, and they shared this bounty with the Pilgrims.

    One of the most plentiful species of fish found in the Atlantic Ocean was cod. The recipe below is inspired by ingredients that would have been easily available to the Native Americans and Pilgrims. [Read more…]

    The Savory Pumpkin Pie

    How can you make something for Thanksgiving dinner in a hurry? Many people dread having to cook all the traditional dishes. They lack the time and expertise to roast the perfect whole turkey. One dish that combines many of the traditional fall flavors associated with Thanksgiving is the savory chicken pumpkin pot pie.

    This delicious pie can be prepared using convenience and canned goods from the supermarket. It is a very versatile recipe, and you may use any fresh or frozen vegetables at hand to enhance it. If you prefer, you may use a store-bought roasted turkey in the recipe instead of the chicken.

    Photo by Alvin Smith https://www.flickr.com/photos/heather_joy/

    Photo: Alvin Smith.

    Chicken Pumpkin Pie

    • 1 roasted chicken, cut up
    • 1 can of plain pumpkin puree
    • 1 onion, cubed
    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
    • 1/4 cup minced parsley
    • 1/2 cups fresh sage leaves, minced
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. flour
    • 3 tbsp. chicken broth
    • 2 frozen pie crusts or individual tart shells
    • Salt and black pepper to taste
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
    3. Brown the onion over medium heat.
    4. Add the minced garlic.
    5. Mix in the flour, and then add the broth.
    6. Stir until you have a smooth sauce.
    7. Place the chicken, pumpkin, parsley, and sage in a large bowl.
    8. Season with salt and pepper.
    9. Stir the contents of the bowl into the sauce.
    10. Pour the pumpkin-chicken mixture into the pie crust or tart shells.
    11. Top the pie crust or tart with the second pie crust or flattened tart shell, pinching the edges shut.
    12. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape.
    13. Bake for 45 minutes for a large pie, around 15 minutes for individual tarts.