Good Carbs: College Night

Join Challah for Hunger and friends for happy hour that will be fun, informative and delicious.

Snacks will be on us and we are parterning with Stickman Brews to create a custom beer inspired challah bread using their craft beer!

Carly Zimmerman, CEO of Challah for Hunger, will talk about the Campus Hunger Project and food insecurity on college campuses.

Suggested donation of $10

Take Action! Fight Hunger on College Campus!

We want this to be a fun evening, but we also want to take action against a growing problem on college campuses – food insecurity.

As many as 20% of students attending 4-year universities and colleges are food insecure and this number is closer to 33% at community colleges.

When you register for this event, we will write a letter to your alma mater asking them to make this a priority on campus. If college wasn’t for you, you can still help us by writing to Temple University.

We also encourage you to show your pride for your alma mater by wearing your favorite college swag.

It’s sure to be a fun and informative evening. Hope to see you there.

The Great Big Challah Bake

Three years ago in South Africa, on the Thursday evening before the Shabbat of the inaugural Shabbos Project, about 3,000 women united in the streets of Johannesburg to prepare challah dough together. It was a truly momentous occasion — spine-tingling for all those who were there.

Last year, in honor of the inaugural international Shabbos Project, 250 local women joined the thousands and thousands of women preparing challah dough together across the globe. The Challah Bake transcended all differences in ideology, outlook and affiliation, and brought Jewish women together in a deeply meaningful way.

This year, we are looking forward to bringing 300+ women and girls together at the newly renovated Bensalem High School for another Challah Bake.

Preregistered participants will receive a free apron. For onsite registrants, there will be a charge of $5 per apron.

Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and the program begins at 6:45.

Essen: A Little Jewish Bakery in South Philly

photo (7)As the aroma of freshly baked challah wafts down Passyunk Avenue, South Philly is returning to its Jewish roots. The source of the heavenly smell is Essen, a new Jewish bakery. “Essen,” which means, “eat!” in Yiddish, is the creation of Tova du Plessis.

Tova du Plessis, originally from Johannesburg, was dutifully studying to be a physician. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology, she pivoted toward her true love and attended culinary school. Ms. du Plessis honed her craft at Citron & Rose, Le Bec Fin, and The Rittenhouse Hotel. After the birth of her first child, she felt ready for another new challenge, and decided to open her own shop.

Serendipitously, the proprietor of her local bakery decided to pursue other opportunities. Tova du Plessis was able to rent the bakery with all of its equipment. She tapped into the memories of preparing Shabbat dinners with her mother in South Africa. Then, she tweaked the recipes a little bit.

13122909_487661448094640_5776031625427631548_oThree types of challah are baked at Essen. There is a fragrant, slightly sweet plain challah, a saltier seeded challah, and an exotic za’atar challah. Fresh labaneh with olive oil and za’atar is available for purchase to pair with the za’atar challah. These challahs are soft, chewy, moist, and pareve. I bought all three for Shabbat dinner. When my father bit into the plain challah, he told my mother, “this is just like the ones you bake!”

Jewish apple cake, chocolate chip – sea salt cookies, and cheese cake with house made strawberry preserves are baked on the premises. The crowning cakes of the display case are the babkas. These delicious yeast cakes are baked with cinnamon and hazelnuts or chocolate and halva.

13112996_484225865104865_1420751969339691223_oI must confess that the chocolate-halva babka was so wickedly decadent that I knew that it would be a sin for me to tempt anyone who knows me with it. This is why I sat at a table in the corner of Essen’s cozy café and ate the whole delicious slice by myself.

Essen Bakery
Address: 1437 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone:(215) 271-2299
Hours:
Friday 8AM–6PM
Saturday 8AM–6PM
Sunday 8AM–3PM
Monday Closed
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 8AM–6PM
Thursday 8AM–6PM
https://www.facebook.com/essenbakery/

Get Your Kosher Rosh Hashanah Takeout

Photo by Didriks https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/

Photo by Didriks.

Not everyone has the time or desire to cook Rosh Hashanah dinner. Happily, it is possible to order kosher prepared family feasts.

Six Points Kosher has been whipping up delicious, family-style dinners for the past three years. I love ordering challah from Six Points. It is baked early every morning in their commissary. For Rosh Hashanah you may choose from plain or raisin round challah.

You may save yourself the work by ordering chicken and root vegetable soup, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, herb roasted chicken, harvest green salad, Caesar salad, raisin and apple kugel, and honey cake. For the more traditional guests at your dinner, Six Points can cook carrot tzimmes, chopped liver mousse, and carrot, apple or chocolate cake.

If you are planning to order from Six Points’ Rosh Hashanah menu, your order must be placed by Friday, September 4, 2015 by 2 p.m. E.S.T.  When you serve the food, remember to tell your guests how hard you worked for them!

Six Point Kosher and the Magerman family are supporters of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Oven-Baked Falafel

— by Challah Maidel

As soon as I announced that I was going to attempt to make oven-baked falafel, I was inundated with requests to publish a recipe. Falafel is a favorite Middle Eastern dish, especially where I live. No matter where you travel to in the Middle East, it is hard to miss a falafel stand on every corner of the street. Around later morning and early noon, you will notice a long line starting to form in front of any falafel vendor you see. For those of you who are not familiar with Middle Eastern food (for better or for worse, I am gradually starting to become more affluent with the culture and food that I am surrounded with), falafel is a deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, depending on which region you come from. Falafel is usually served in a pita or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze (a selection of small dishes or spreads).

Full recipe after the jump.
Growing up, I never really cared for falafel, until one fond memory completely changed it all. Many eons ago, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. We had a camp chef who’s culinary skills and attitude had yet to be desired. Ironically, the only thing he managed to perfect was falafel balls. In fact, the only thing we looked forward to having for lunch was falafel. Ever since I came here, I never had the stomach to eat falafel anywhere outside of the Middle East. Most food that you eat at restaurants, fast food chains, and even vendor booths can easily be replicated at the comfort of your own kitchen. Making falafel is not as complicated as it looks. If you made vegetarian or even meat patties before, this is not too far off.

As I reiterated before, falafel is traditionally deep fried in oil. I enjoy my falafel, but not when my pita is saturated from the grease. So I looked for a healthier solution and came up with my own rendition after borrowing an oven-baked falafel recipe online. I will provide you with the basic ingredients for this recipe. After that, its entirely up to you to make your falafel any way you desire. Some like to add some extra parsley to give the falafel a green hue. Other may add tumeric. For a bit of spice, you can sprinkle in some chili or cayenne pepper.

For this recipe I used chickpeas, but you can use fava beans or a mixture of both. If you have a short attention span, you can take a shortcut and use canned chickpeas. I used frozen chickpeas because it doesn’t contain nearly as much sodium as the canned goods do. Prior to making the falafel mixture, I sauteed some onions and garlic rather than blending them raw with the chickpeas. Akin to most patties, falafel requires some flour in order to hold all the ingredients together. That way, you can form balls without them falling apart. If you suffer with celiac disease or sensitive to wheat, feel free to use gluten-free flour. You can eat the falafel balls as they are, or serve them in a pita stuffed with salad. Use any of your favorite Middle-Eastern spreads such as hummus or tahini.

Oven Baked Falafel

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of frozen chickpeas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Follow cooking instructions on the frozen chickpea package.
  2. Drain after chickpeas have been cooked.
  3. In a small oiled skillet, over medium heat, saute onions for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Turn flame off.
  4. Place chickpeas,onions, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Mix well until you get a thick paste-like consistency.
  5. Form into small balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy).

Yields 15-20 falafel balls.

Challah Maidel is a blog about healthy kosher eating.  

Author Chat: Inside the Jewish Bakery


— by Hannah Lee

On Tuesday night, I attended a fascinating lecture by Stanley Ginsberg, co-author of Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking. Ginsberg has a diverse background, including a Ph.D. in Chinese literature and a career in marketing and financial writing, but he hungered for the Jewish foods of his childhood. An amateur baker, he found his co-author, Norman Berg (who died in May), on a baker’s forum on the Internet and asked for the one item he savored most, onion rolls. Berg, a Bronx native and a retired baker, provided a recipe and it came out great. Next was the Russian coffee cake, with its New World extravagance of butter, cinnamon sugar, nuts, and apricot syrup. The two of them, living on opposite coasts, embarked on a journey of nostalgia and research and culminated in a thick volume packed with tangible sweet and savory memories of our Jewish communities.

More after the jump.  
What is a Jewish bakery?  Well, you may simply think of it as a bakery using Jewish recipes, serving Jewish customers.  But, it is also a living document of the Jews who lived under the Holy Roman Empire as they moved up the Rhine Valley, then eastward towards the Pale of Settlement, established in 1791 by Empress Catherine (the Great), consisting of western Russia and Poland.  We have linguistic souvenirs of their odyssey, such as bentching which derives from the Latin for benediction, and we have culinary artifacts. Challah, which American Jews think of as our unique Sabbath bread, was also eaten by 14th century German Christians.  (The Sephardim had no special bread for Shabbat, maybe because of the Inquisition and the remaining hidden Jews’ need to hide their ritual observance.) The decorated challah comes from Czechoslavkia, Bohemia, and the Balkans, where they had the custom of decorating their holiday breads with symbols.

Many of the items featured in the book are no longer found in our bakeries, such as kornbroyt (corn rye), poppy horns, and bialys, for which no machine has been devised.  Other recipes are for authentic, labor-intensive methods that commercial bakeries now eschew or substitute with time-saving or cheaper replacements. A poignant example is the sad decline of the mass-produced bagel. In the early 20th century, the International Beigel Bakers Union of Greater New York and New Jersey had a tight monopoly; you couldn’t break into the business unless your father or father-in-law were themselves bagel bakers. Ginsberg writes: “In the 40’s and 50’s, it was said, a Jewish boy could more easily get into medical school than become an apprentice bagel baker.”  And we all know about the exclusion of Jews from medical schools.

The stranglehold was broken by three men: Mickey Thompson and his son Daniel who devised a bagel-making machine in 1962 and Murray Lender who expanded his market by distributing bagels through local grocery stores, thus introducing the bagel to “consumers of all ethnicities.”  The new machine could produce a mind-numbing 300 dozen bagels an hour with one unskilled operator. Lender bought the first six machines manufactured by the Thompsons. However, mass production necessitated changes in the recipe. The original stiff dough clogged the machines, so they increased the water content up to 65%. The resultant dough was now soft and stuck to the machines, so they added oil to soften the crumb.

In contrast to the traditional method of chilling the dough for 24-48 hours for a slow fermentation to develop the flavor nowadays prized by artisanal bakers, Lender sped up the process by adding sugar and dough conditioners. Then, he eliminated the initial step of boiling in malt, which created a shiny, chewy brown crust, favoring steam-injected ovens. The resultant bland bagel necessitated the addition of unorthodox flavoring– such as blueberry, cheddar cheese, jalapeño pepper, sun-dried tomato, and pesto — and it became “a doughnut with the sin removed.”

The Montreal bagel, in contrast, is made in under an hour, and uses oil, sugar, eggs, more yeast, and no salt.  It’s boiled in honeyed water, not malt, and it’s baked in wood-burning ovens, which has areas that heat up to 650 °F and thus blacken parts of the bagel. Partisan as a native would be, Ginsberg touts the New York bagel, which is baked in a gas-fired  or electric oven maintained at an even 460 °F for a “more pronounced oven spring and a harder, darker crust.”

“If challah was the queen of the Shabbes table,” writes Ginsberg, “rye was the poor but honest yeoman who served during the other six days of the week.” This is another example of the decline of quality: rye flour is more costly than wheat flour, so rye bread is now often made with only 10% rye with the addition of caraway seeds.  Pumpernickel is a generic term for dark rye bread, but nowadays it’s colored with coffee or caramel coloring.

Inside the Jewish Bakery offers step-by-step instruction, including the sequential timing of recipes, such as the implementation of the same sweet Vienna dough for the first rising, making onion pockets, then another hour’s proofing, shaping sandwich bread, and, with the final hour’s rising and with the gluten fully developed, making kaiser rolls.

Ginsberg now calls San Diego home, but he was a lay leader of Har Zion while Rabbi Gerald Wolpe was alive. His wife, Sylvia, is a Philadelphia native and they still have family ties here. Ginsberg is a ready story-teller and a walking encyclopedia of food facts. What is the difference between rugelach and schnecken? The former is made from triangles rolled up like croissants while the latter is made from long rolls that are sliced before baking. While mandelbroyt is baked only once and contains almond paste, kamishbroyt is baked twice, like the Italian biscotti.

Inside the Jewish Bakery includes complicated charts listing ratios of ingredients, and not simply volumes (as lay people use) or weights (as professional bakers use).  The book won the 2012 Jane Grigson Award given by the International Association of Culinary Professionals for distinguished scholarship in the quality of its research and presentation.

My copy is from the first printing in May 2011 and it’s full of errors, but the website, www.insidethejewishbakery.com/, has a downloadable list of errata as well as nifty videos on how to shape a four-braid and six-braid loaf of challah. Ginsberg also runs a baker’s supply website, www.nybakers.com, where you can find ingredients not available from your local supermarket, such as medium and dark rye flour, malt syrup, dehydrated chopped onion, and nigella seed.

This lecture, held at the Gershman Y, is part of the “What is Your Food Worth?” series coordinated by Temple University’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Upcoming programs include: “Just a Pinch: An Unofficial History of Jewish Cooking in America” at the National Museum of American Jewish History on the 24th at 6:30 pm and “They Were What They Ate: Immigrant Jews and the Encounter with America,” at Gladfelter Hall, Temple University on the 30th at 3:30 pm.  For a complete calendar and on-going conversations about Jewish foodways, log onto www.whatisyourfoodworth.com or www.temple.edu/feinsteinctr.

Home Baked Challah For Shabbat

Ronit Treatman

Olive oil lamps and tabun-baked flatbreads were the centerpieces of the first Shabbat tables.  As Jews dispersed around the world, candles replaced oil lamps, and the loaves used for the blessing over the bread sometimes changed as well.  In the fifteenth century, Jews settled along the Rhine River, and were inspired by the local braided egg breads to bake challah.  At that time, every challah was artisanal!  The woman of the house mixed her own dough, shaped it by hand, and baked it fresh for Shabbat. With the arrival of commercial baking, for many families the art of preparing a homemade challah was lost.  Now, many people are reclaiming the skill of baking their own challah for Shabbat.  They are rediscovering the serenity that comes from feeling the flour on their hands, kneading the dough, and filling their home with the sweet smell of fresh challah being baked.

More after the jump.
Currently, there are 216,000 recipes for challah online, 219 challah-baking demonstrations on You Tube, and 14,700 challah related facebook pages. There are spaces in message boards dedicated to discussing the challenges of getting the challah to turn out just the way the baker wants it. Men, women, amateur and professional bakers, and foodies from everywhere are happy to share their experiences.  This interactive world of the Internet has become our new shtetl marketplace.  We can just casually complain that our dough failed to rise, and anyone who hears us can pitch in with a suggestion.

Some of the best challah recipes have been compiled in a book called The Secret of Challah, by Shira Wiener and Ayelet Yifrach.  

In The Secret of Challah, we learn how to perform the mitzvah of Hafrashat challah, or “separating challah.”  This custom takes us back to the 10th century BCE, to the First Temple in Jerusalem.  We separate the prescribed amount of dough before we start braiding our challah.  The blessing which we say over this piece of dough is

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu l’hafrish challah.

Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to separate challah (from the dough).

We then hold the piece of dough and say

Harei zoh challah.

This is the challah.

This piece of dough is burned, to remind us of the portion of grain every family gave to the Kohanim serving in the temple (Numbers 15:17-21).    This is what is meant by “challah is taken” on packages of kosher bread or matzah.  

This book has beautiful photography, and can handily guide most people through the process of braiding six strands of dough into a splendid, golden challah for Shabbat.  There is a wonderful chapter about decorative traditions for the challah in different communities.

My family baked Chani’s Shabbat Challah from The Secret of Challah.  Here is an adaptation.


Chani’s Shabbat Challah

  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1-tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 9 cups flour

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and put in a warm place.  After about ten minutes, the mixture should be foaming.  Add the eggs, flour, salt, and oil.  Knead the ingredients into dough and cover the bowl with the towel.  Let the dough rise for one hour.  

Remove the dough from the bowl.  Separate it into three pieces.  Roll each piece into a long rope.  Braid the challah and place in a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Allow the challah to rise for another forty minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat the yolk of two eggs, and brush the challah.

Sprinkle sesame seeds and poppy seeds over it.

Bake the challah for 30 to 40 minutes.

For some people, mixing the dough from scratch is too time consuming and messy.  This is no reason to miss out on all the fun!  For those who don’t want to knead their own dough, it is possible to order frozen Kosher challah dough online.  Wenner Bread Products is a family owned industrial bakery, which operates under the supervision of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.  If you order their kosher challah dough, you can go straight to braiding and baking.  Challah has already been taken at their facility.

For those who yearn for interpersonal interactions, Chabad hosts weekly challah baking workshops, charging only a nominal fee for materials.  About fifty years ago, the Rabbis’ wives started to invite women from their respective communities to bake challah for Shabbat and learn about Judaism.  These rebetzins preserved challah recipes from their grandmothers that otherwise would have been lost in the ashes of the Holocaust.  Chabad is not famous for its gourmet food, yet when it comes to challah baking no one can compete with them!  There is no one “Chabad challah recipe” that is used in all the Chabad centers around the world.  Their instructors are very adventurous!  Chabad collects recipes from everywhere and everyone.  Every challah baking session tries one or more different recipes.  Chabad wants as many people as possible to learn how to bake challah.  As a result, they have created a challah baking class for the deaf, taught in American Sign Language.

Chabad’s success has not gone unnoticed.  Many Jewish Federations and synagogues in the United States have added challah baking as fun hands-on way to build community.  It is one of the most popular activities created for Birthright alumni.  Hillels in colleges across the country are coordinating Challah for Hunger baking sessions.  These challahs are sold, and the money goes to charity.  In my community, my dear friend Rabbi Fredi Cooper has started a group named Kesher.  Kesher volunteers meet in the kitchen of our synagogue and bake fresh challahs.  These challahs are delivered to welcome every new baby in the community, to homebound seniors, and people in hospitals.  

Are you too busy or antisocial to participate in a challah-baking workshop?  That is no excuse not to bake your own challah!  You can follow step-by-step instructions in this video.  

I love baking challah with my children.  This activity is a way of turning Friday after school time into a special occasion leading up to Shabbat dinner.  My philosophy is that it is the process that matters, not the product.  Our challah would never win any sort of award for presentation or taste!  I love to play beautiful music for Shabbat on You Tube while we measure the ingredients and knead the dough.  One example is this video.  I set the Shabbat table while we let the dough rise.  We only have time to let it rise once, but we don’t let that stop us from enjoying ourselves!  The kids form their challahs.  It is possible to be so creative!  A challah doesn’t have to be in the form of a braid.  It can be shaped like a bunch of grapes, a key, and even a hamsa (hand shaped amulet).  Then, my magnum opi paint the challah with egg yolk, to give it a golden sheen.  The challas are sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds.  We put the challahs in the oven one hour before dinner is scheduled to begin.  This gives them enough time to bake, and then cool off a little before they are served.

What I love the most about baking my own challah is that it is part of the process of turning my home into a cocoon for Shabbat.  No matter what else has happened during the week, this is a time to minimize all the bad things, and accentuate the special.  I focus on creating a festive environment, with the sounds of Shabbat music, the tactile pleasure of kneading the dough, the smells of yeast and baking bread, the sight of beautiful golden loaves emerging from the oven, and the taste of fresh, warm, sweet challah.  To me, the smell of a baking challah is the smell of love.