Best of Both Worlds: Center City Living & Affordable Jewish Education

I love Philadelphia! It is such an exciting and dynamic place to live and raise a family. Many young couples assume that as soon as their children reach school age, they should resign themselves to their fate and move to the suburbs.  This assumption, however, is no longer valid.

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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (JBHA) is making it possible for families that reach this juncture to make a different choice. With its outstanding academics, international student body, commitment to making private school affordable for middle income families, and convenient accessibility by Philadelphia bus and public transportation, JBHA provides the best of both worlds: Center City living and a stellar college preparatory private school education infused with timeless Jewish values and learning.

  • Originally founded in 1946 as Akiba Hebrew Academy, Barrack is an independent college preparatory day school for students in grades 6-12.
  • Located on a 35-acre campus in Bryn Mawr, PA, Barrack provides a rigorous dual curriculum of College preparatory and Jewish studies in modern facilities to students from all Jewish backgrounds.
  • The Barrack educational experience is diverse and international. Students from five continents are enrolled at JBHA, and English is often not their mother tongue.
  • Students who do not have a Jewish day school background thrive at Barrack. Hebrew is taught on all levels.
  • Barrack’s stellar academic program is complemented by timeless Jewish traditions and values. Commitments to repair the world and work for social justice are hallmarks of a Barrack education.
  • Barrack Middle School students enjoy a warm, welcoming nurturing environment and are inspired by talented and involved teachers to develop the intellectual and emotional skills that prepare them for a seamless transition to high school and for continued success.
  • Barrack 11th graders have a unique opportunity to study abroad for a trimester in Israel on the Alexander Muss Campus, strengthening their identity and forging strong ties with the land, language, people and culture.
  • Barrack students earn high SAT scores, and Barrack seniors are traditionally accepted to their first choice, top-tier colleges and universities.
  • Barrack offers a wide array of extracurricular programs, including award-winning art, drama and music programs; over 54 Clubs; student publications, science, robotics and engineering electives, and student government/leadership opportunities.
  • Barrack fields 18 sports teams, including squash, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, basketball, softball, soccer, swimming and track and field. This year the Girls’ lacrosse, tennis and soccer teams won championships.
  • Over 2, 600 Akiba-Barrack alumni play leading roles in all walks of life at home and around the world.

Affordability: Barrack is committed to middle income affordability, and has generous scholarship funds available for this purpose. The application process is welcoming and respectful.

Convenient Transportation: It is very convenient to commute from Center City Philadelphia to JBHA.

  • Students may travel to Barrack via bus, provided by the school. This bus is free for middle school students, and is subsidized for high school students.
  • Barrack is also easily accessible via the SEPTA rail system. Students living in Philadelphia are eligible for a voucher for public transportation from the city. A round-trip shuttle bus is provided from the Bryn Mawr train station to the school. Alternatively, it is only a 15 minute walk from the station to the school.

Starting a family does not mean that you have to give up the life you lead in the city. With the educational opportunities offered by Barrack Hebrew Academy, you can have the best of both worlds. You can continue to enjoy your exciting urban life, and your children can benefit from an outstanding, affordable private school education. My children do! For more information about JBHA, please feel free to contact Jennifer Groen, JBHA’s Director of Admission and Strategic Engagement: [email protected] or 610-922-2350. She looks forward to hearing from you!

Thanksgiving: A Celebration Of Cranberries

— by Ronit Treatman

“How do you say cranberry in Hebrew?” my children asked me.  I was stumped.  I had never heard of cranberries before I moved to the United States.  “Maybe “cranberry” with a Hebrew accent?” I suggested.  I looked it up to be certain.  Modern Israeli Hebrew is a revived language, in which new names are constantly being adopted for things that did not exist in Ancient Israel.  The Hebrew name selected for “cranberry” by the Academy of the Hebrew Language is “chamtzitz.”  To me, “chamtzitz” refers to any sour wild plant.  In order to learn more about this Native American fruit, we decided to experience the cranberry harvest in New Jersey.

More after the jump.
Our Thanksgiving celebration began in mid-October with a visit to Double Trouble State Park‘s cranberry harvest.  This beautiful park is located in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.  Oxycoccus macrocarpus is one of three fruits native to North America.  The other two are blueberries and Concord grapes.  The Leni Lenape called this berry “ibimi” or “bitter berry.”  For them, the cranberry was a symbol of peace.  The Pilgrims named it “crane berry” because they thought that the cranberry blossoms looked like cranes.  With time, this name was shortened to “cranberry.”  After the American Revolutionary War, cranberries began to be cultivated.  They were exported to Northern Europe, where they became very popular.   These evergreen vines are planted in peat bogs.  Historically, cranberries were picked by hand.  The most cost-efficient way to harvest them is by flooding the bog.  The ripe berries float to the surface.  At the Double Trouble State Park, we saw farmers dressed in waterproof rubber clothes vacuuming the ripe cranberries from the surface of the bog.  It was a wonderful visit, and the whole place looked like a beautiful impressionist painting with shades of green, red, and gold.

We came home with several pounds of fresh cranberries.  I decided to investigate how the Native Americans prepared them.  I was surprised to discover that it is possible to eat cranberries raw.  They were too tart for my taste in this manner.  One of the most famous ways in which the Native Americans used cranberries was in the preparation of pemmican.  Pemmican is a type of jerky made with deer (or any other game) and cranberries.  I discovered a recipe for the first cranberry sauce, which the Wampanoag tribe taught the Pilgrims.  It is a true Native American dish composed of the New World flavors of cranberries and maple sugar.  

Pilgrim Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Eliza Leslie’s Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery.

  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 2-3 cups maple sugar
  1. Place the cranberries in a pot. Cover with water.  
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until soft.  
  3. Stir in the maple sugar to taste.  
  4. When the sugar is completely absorbed into the sauce, remove from the fire.

Serve hot or cold.

What did we make with the rest of the cranberries?  Another Native American specialty: dried cranberries.  

Dried Cranberries

  1. Wash the cranberries.
  2. Preheated the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  3. Place the berries on a cookie sheet lined with 3 layers of paper towels.  
  4. Put the cranberries in the oven.
  5. Turn the heat down to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Leave the cranberries in the oven for 8 hours or longer as needed.

As I celebrate my adopted holiday of Thanksgiving, I will honor the Native Americans and Pilgrims by preparing the cranberry sauce that they savored together in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation.  I like to say a blessing from my tradition to express my gratitude on this day:

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam shehecheyanu v’kiyimanu v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, sovereign (or king) of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Food Chat: Just a Pinch

— by Hannah Lee

When you might think of Jewish cooking in America, you might conjure the iconic Ashkenazic staples of gefilte fish and noodle kugel, but the earliest Jewish cooking in the Americas was Sephardic, said Emily August, Public Programs Manager, in her role as moderator for a program, “Just a Pinch: A Brief and Unofficial History of Jewish Cooking in America,” held on Wednesday at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Jews immigrating from Brazil brought their taste for almond pudding and fish fried in oil, which became a favorite food of our third president Thomas Jefferson, citing Ronit Treatman’s article in The Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

More after the jump.
Drawing upon the food-themed artifacts from its museum collections, she proceeded to delight and enlighten the audience with the assistance of the dramatic reading talents of four people: Francine Berk, currently playing the role of Bubbie in The Stoop on Orchard Street; B.D. Boudreaux, director of and playing Old Man in The Stoop on Orchard Street; Siobhan Reardon, the President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia; and restauranteur Audrey Claire Taichman, owner of Audrey Claire and Twenty Manning Grill. Multilingual volunteers from the audience also participated in descriptive narration.

In 1889, Bloch Publishing Company, the oldest Jewish publishing firm in the United States, issued Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and Domestic Receipts for the Household. It encouraged accommodation to American life with recipes for Easter, oysters, and treyfe (sic).

In 1901, The Settlement Cook Book: The Way to a Man’s Heart was published by the Milwaukee Settlement House and it became an important staple of the American kitchen for more than 50 years. In an interview before his death in 1985, the noted gourmet and author, James Beard, known as “The Father of American Gastronomy,” called this cookbook his personal favorite.  This cookbook was to serve as a guidebook for the new immigrants, to help them learn about middle-class American culture.

In 1914, the Hebrew Publishing Company issued the first Yiddish cookbook and it encouraged readers to adopt modern ways of cooking, moving from gefilte fish to American cuisine. It was printed with recipe instruction in both English and Yiddish, to avoid the language gap, so that the immigrant and first-generation members could cook together.

World War I brought the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act, to ensure an adequate supply of essential supplies to our soldiers and allies in Europe. The U.S. government printed and distributed pamphlets in diverse languages — such as Italian, Polish, Russian, and Yiddish — to guide homemakers on healthy and delicious substitutions for wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Among the tips were: one meatless meal a week and no second helpings. Herbert Hoover, then head of the Food Administration, set the moral tone with his slogan, “Food will win the war.  Don’t waste it.”

The Catskills grew in prominence as a vacation spot for middle class Jews, after the Grossinger family purchased its 100-acre estate in Ferndale, New York. Several postcards from these resorts and summer camp were read aloud by audience members: they all highlighted the food, whether delicious, as from the former, and terrible, as from the latter.

Another major culinary milestone was the introduction of Crisco in 1911. Proctor & Gamble made a special effort to target the Jewish homemaker, touting its product as pareve, light, sweet-tasting, and shelf-stable. In 1933, they distributed the 77-page pamphlet, Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife, printed in Yiddish and English.  The product, ranging from a 1-lb to 9-lb cans, displayed a blue-and-white label.

As an antidote to the growing secularism of American Jews, the The Jewish Home Beautiful, published in 1941, was an attempt to preserve Jewish ritual with Jewish tableaux (pictures of set tables). As an example of its attention to minute detail, the book recommends for Shavuot: serve two blintzes dusted with 10 lines of cinnamon, to represent the Ten Commandments.

In 1955, Gertrude Berg published The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook, written in the voice of her television persona. Its marketing success was a testament of the purchasing power of the Jewish viewer.

The next major culinary milestone was the formation of Hebrew National and its campaign to promote its frankfurters with the pamphlet 31 Ways to Make Hot Meals Out of Hot Dogs issued in 1955. Soon, its success lead other manufacturers to also appeal to the Jewish market. Planters issued Manna About Town in 1965 to promote its peanut oil. In it, “heirloom recipes…[are] lovingly laced with legend and lore.” Manischewitz introduced a Passover menu planner cookbook in 1963 (and its Passover Hagadah has become a fixture on the Jewish table). The editors knew their stuff and listed as the first ingredient for breakfast, prune juice.

Credit: Hannah WhitakerFinally, Bon Appetit magazine featured the resurgence of the Jewish deli in its recent September issue. Its Editor-in-Chief, Adam Rapoport, in an interview in Haaretz, gave a fitting conclusion to this program: “If you find a good recipe, hold onto it, but share it with a friend.”

Amazing Reunion Of Holocaust Survivors After 50 Years!

Henry Stern was one of the fortunate ones.  In 1937, his family embarked on the last boat of Jewish refugees to leave Germany legally.  They sailed for New York.  The family settled in Opelika, Alabama.  As news of the Holocaust trickled out, Henry never stopped hoping that some of the relatives left behind had somehow survived.  In 2004, with the aid of the internet, he succeeded.  Here is an amazing clip of Mr. Stern’s reunion with his cousin Fred Hertz.

The Sweet Trading Company: Philly’s 1st Kosher Chocolate Boutique

— by Ronit Treatman

The first homemade chocolate gift Jody Peskin ever made was an Old World chocolate Easter egg for each of her non-Jewish friends in college.  It was a lovely gesture, as they had been participating in her Shabbat dinners all year.  “I used real chicken eggs,” she told me.  “I poked a hole in each one, emptied it, then boiled the shells to kill all the bacteria.  Then I filled the egg with melted chocolate.”  This self-declared “chief chocolate officer’s” passion for all things chocolate has led her to open The Sweet Trading Company.

More after the jump.
Only the finest kosher Belgian chocolate is used at The Sweet Trading Company.  Every day there is a freshly prepared selection of chocolate delicacies to choose from at the store.  Ms. Peskin also creates custom confections for special occasions.  When I stopped by, she had fashioned chocolate lollipops with both elephants and donkeys in honor of the presidential debate.  

Have you ever fantasized about making your own chocolate delights?  Jody Peskin is planning to offer chocolate making classes and themed parties.  She intends to organize hands-on crafts in celebration of the Jewish holidays.  

The Sweet Trading Company is the Philadelphia area’s first kosher producer of artisanal chocolates.  With its separate dairy and pareve chocolate kitchens, it is supervised by the Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia.  

Whether you are planning to treat yourself or send a gift, The Sweet Trading Company will help you select something that is delicious, appropriate, and kosher.  

  • The Sweet Trading Co. (The Chocolate Concierge)
  • Address: 733 Montgomery Ave, Narberth, PA 19072
  • Phone: (267) 935-9294
  • Hours: Mon – Fri: 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Sun: 11:00 am-5:00 pm.
  • Parking: Street or parking lot.
  • Products: Chocolate candy, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Custom gift baskets and trays

Miracles & Meals: Recipes From The Holocaust

— by Ronit Treatman

Philadelphia resident Ruth Kessler is featured in the new cookbook Miracles & Meals, a compilation of 115 stories and over 250 recipes collected from Holocaust Survivors around the world. Miracles & Meals may be purchased from her website.

More after the jump.


Ruthie and Erika Kessler

Ruthie Kessler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1933. She lived with her older sister, Erika, and her parents, Henry and Lotte. Following the Nazi takeover of Austria in March 1938, things began to deteriorate for the Jews in Vienna. In 1939, Ruthie’s parents placed her on the Kindertransport to England ,in order to save her life. For various reasons, Ruthie’s sister, Erika, was not included on the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was a rescue operation that saved 10,000 children from Nazi terror. In May, 1939, Ruthie waved goodbye to her family at the train depot. With tears in her eyes, she shouted to them, “Will I see you soon?”  Ruthie traveled by train across Europe and then boarded a ship. Bewildered, confused and with nothing but what she wore, Ruthie set sail for Liverpool, England. During the war, Ruthie lived with a foster family in London. To avoid the German air raids and for her own safety, she was temporarily sent to a hostel at the northern tip of England.

While Ruthie escaped to Great Britain, her father fled to the United States with the only authorized visa for the family. He intended to obtain additional visas for Ruthie’s mother and sister, but the American Consulate failed to produce the promised visas, even after her father had met the many bureaucratic demands. Meanwhile, Ruthie’s mother and sister were deported to Poland in 1941. Letters sent from the ghetto there were smuggled out with the help of a former family maid. The last letter received from her sister was dated July 1942. It is believed that they were either killed outright or transported to a death camp, where they both perished.

Chocolate Chip CookiesAfter the war, Ruthie came to the United States at her father’s request, but he, unfortunately, could not support her. By the time she was 16, Ruthie had lived in five foster homes and attended 15 schools. She eventually settled in with her uncle and aunt in Philadelphia, where she completed her education. Ruthie and her husband, Lou, have three children and four grandchildren and still live in the Philadelphia area today.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (parve or dairy)

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • ¾ cup cake meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup & 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips

Mix butter (margarine) and sugar until just blended. Add eggs. Add all dry ingredients (except choc chips) and mix until blended.  Add vanilla & juice.  Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees on a greased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Jewish apple cake
Jewish Apple Cake (parve)
Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Apple mixture

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • Handful raisins
  • Handful walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  1. In a separate bowl peel and pare apples and add all other apple mixture ingredients.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Alternate dough with apples mixture making sure that apple mixture is on the tops.
  4. Bake for 1 ½ hours

Sweet Almonds For Simchat Torah

— by Ronit Treatman

To me, Simchat Torah tastes like candied almonds.  This holiday, which means “rejoicing in the Torah,” is one of the most joyous celebrations in the Jewish tradition.  

This is the evening when we read the last page of the Torah, and then start all over again at the beginning. It is the only time of the year when the Torah is read at night in the synagogue, during evening services. My earliest memory of attending synagogue is of sitting on my father’s shoulders during the Simchat Torah service. We danced hakafot, or circuits, with the Torah around the synagogue seven times. The synagogue was filled by the voices of all the celebrants chanting traditional tunes. The Torahs were splendid in their velvet covers and silver crowns.  Why seven hakafot? Seven is a very symbolic number in Judaism. Very appropriately, it is the Divine number of completion.  

More after the jump.

When the hakafot are concluded, a portion of the last part of Deuteronomy (33:1-34:12) is read from the first Torah scroll. It is the tradition that Deuteronomy is never read until the end in the evening service. This is immediately followed by Genesis (1:1-2:3), recited from the second scroll. Thus continues the never ending cycle of reading Torah.

Why do I associate Simchat Torah with almonds?  Our neighbors always made them as a special treat.  Almonds originated in the Middle East.  The Book of Genesis 43:11 describes the almond as “among the best of fruits.”  In Numbers 17, almond flowers grow from the rod carried by Aaron.  It is said that sweet almonds grew on one side of this rod, and bitter almonds on the other.  If the Israelites were true to G-d, then the sweet almonds ripened.  If the Israelites strayed, the bitter almonds flourished.  It is customary among Sephardim to celebrate Simchat Torah with candied almonds.  These almonds are served to symbolize the sweetness (sugar) of learning Torah, which offsets the bitterness (almonds) that life may bring.  My Sephardic friends and neighbors always prepared candied or sugared almonds at home.  Here is the recipe.

Almendras Garrapiñadas (Candied Almonds)

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  1. Place all the ingredients in a pan.
  2. Stir over medium heat until the water evaporates and the sugar crystallizes.  
  3. Turn off the heat, and continue stirring the almonds until they are completely coated with sugar crystals.

The blessing that is said over candied almonds is:

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי העץ.‏

Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech haolam borei pri ha etz

Blessed are you G-d, our Lord king of the world who creates the fruit of the trees.

Perfect Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Bundt cake— by Ronit Treatman

Have you ever baked a honey cake that was too dry, gooey, or left a bitter aftertaste?  I have produced these and many other flops.  As a result, I embarked on a quest to discover a foolproof recipe.  I encountered it in Marcy Goldman’s A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking.  Her rich fragrant cake is the perfect treat to serve your guests or bake for your hosts when celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

More after the jump.
Majestic and Moist New Year’s Honey Cake
Adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman

  • 1 cup of mild honey such as clover, acacia, or alfalfa
  • 1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup whisky
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup freshly brewed quality coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Honey cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Coat the interior of a 10 inch Bundt cake pan with vegetable oil.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan.
  5. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes.  This cake is ready when the center springs back easily when touched.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to rest in the Bundt pan for 15 minutes.
  7. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

When this golden cake emerges from the oven, your home will be filled with the exotic aroma of honey and spices.  The first bite will reveal a perfect, moist texture.  The flavor is a sublime balance of honey and spices.  This delicious, rich cake will be the crowning touch of any Rosh Hashanah meal or gathering.    

Food Series with Chefs of Citron & Rose and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik!

In anticipation of the new restaurant, please join us for an exciting Food Series featuring the engaging, creative and funny wisdom of Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and the culinary talent and skill of the chefs of Citron and Rose, Michael Solomonov and Yehuda Sichel.

First part of the series for Rosh Hashanah follows the jump.

Honey: How to Truly Bee Jewish
Honey has been associated with Jewish celebrations for over one thousand years.  What is it about the miraculous beehive that is so significant? And how can understanding honey’s symbolism guarantee that our new year will be sweeter?

  • When: Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm
  • Where: Chabad of the Main Line, 625 Montgomery Ave, Merion Station, PA 19066. Future installments will take place at the new Citron and Rose!
  • Cost: Suggested $18 donation will support local Jewish Day Schools.
  • RSVP: Space is limited, so you must reserve a spot. Please RSVP to [email protected] by Friday, September 7, 2012
  • Who:
    • Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik is the Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and Associate Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
    • Michael Solomonov is the executive chef and co-owner of Zahav, and the executive chef at Citron and Rose.
    • Yehuda Sichel is a sous chef at Zahav and chef de cuisine at Citron and Rose.

 

Tu B’Av: Finding Your Bashert

— by Ronit Treatman

When is your bashert selected for you?  According to the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Sotah 2a), forty days before a Jewish child is born, G-d chooses that child’s future spouse.  This person is called a bashert.  A bashert is one’s soul mate.  In the Jewish tradition, if you have not yet been united with your bashert, you have a very auspicious day to look for that person.  That day is Tu Be’Av.

More after the jump.
Last of the figsTu Be’Av, the fifteenth day of the month of Av, was the holiday of the grape harvest during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem (957 BCE — 70 CE).  On this day, marking the beginning of the grape harvest, there was a grape festival called Hag Hakeramim, the holiday of the vineyards.  Unmarried young women would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, hoping to attract a husband (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Ta’anit 30b-31a).  This holiday has been revived in modern Israel as Hag HaAhava, the holiday of love.

This year, Tu Be’Av begins at sunset on August third.  You can bring the magic of Ancient Israel’s vineyards into your life with a romantic Tu Be’Av dinner.  

Set the festive tone by serving good wine since, “wine gladdens the heart of the human being”  (Psalms 104:5).  For this very special Tu Be’Av dinner, I wanted to make sure that I would recommend the right wines to accompany the food.  I turned to Reuven Ribiat, the proprietor of Rosenberg Judaica and Wine for advice.  His store offers one of the best international selections of kosher wines that I have seen in the greater Philadelphia area.  Reuven is very knowledgeable.  He selects all the wines sold at the store, and often visits the wineries he sources them from during his travels.  

Begin your Tu Be’Av dance in the vineyard with an appetizer of figs and goat cheese.  The fig is an ancient symbol of fertility, sweetness, and abundance for Jews.  Call out to your intended with this roasted fig appetizer.

Roasted Figs With Goat Cheese
Adapted from Mark Bittman

  • 8 Fresh Figs
  • Soft goat cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Rub the figs with olive oil.
  2. Cut an “X” at the top of each fig.
  3. Dribble a few drops of balsamic vinegar inside the “X.”
  4. Scoop a tablespoon of goat cheese into the fig.
  5. Bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about ten minutes, or grill on a barbecue.

Serve with a bottle of chilled Chenin Blanc.  

Fish in Tahini Sauce
Adapted from The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey by Janna Gur

  • 2 Lbs. Flounder fillets
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup tahini
  • Salt
  • Warm water
  • 2 lemons

baked cod with tahini sauce, chickpea salad and saffron riceContinue your dance by serving a dish which symbolizes fertility and good luck in the Jewish tradition.  For the main course, serve a Mediterranean fish, enveloped in a seductive tahini sauce.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brush the fish with olive oil, and sprinkle some salt on it.
  3. Bake the flounder for 15 minutes.
  4. Take the fish out of the oven, and let it rest while you prepare the tahini sauce.
  5. In a bowl, mix the tahini with about two tablespoons of warm water.
  6. Beat in the crushed garlic.
  7. Add one tablespoon of olive oil.
  8. Whisk in the juice of the two lemons.
  9. Taste the tahini to see if you like it.  Adjust the seasonings.
  10. Spread the tahini sauce over the fish.
  11. Cover the fish with the onion slices.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Serve with rice, a green salad, and chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Conclude your dance by melding some of the world’s greatest known aphrodisiacs together in one dish.  Chocolate, brandy, and nuts combined into one sensational cake!  This cake is best baked in advance to allow all the flavors to develop.

Golden Grand Marnier Cake
Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1-cup sugar
  • 1-cup butter
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1-cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. grated orange zest
  • ¼ tsp. Grand Marnier or Brandy

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Pour into a baking pan that has been rubbed with butter and sprinkled with flour.  
  4. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes.

Grand Marnier Syrup

  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier or Brandy
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot.  Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Do not boil.
  2. As soon as you pull the cake out of the oven, invert the pan onto a cooling rack.
  3. Poke holes all over the cake.
  4. Brush half the Grand Marnier Syrup on the cake.
  5. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.
  6. Brush the rest of the syrup on the cake.
  7. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

Chocolate Cream Glaze

  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. Brandy
  • 1-cup heavy cream
  1. Place the chocolate chips in a bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips.
  4. Mix vigorously.
  5. Whisk in the Brandy.
  6. Spread over the cake.
  7. Seal the cake in an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

If this day turns out to be propitious and you should meet your bashert, how can you end your celebratory meal?  Reuven Ribiat tells me that champagne is the wine of love. Raise a glass of your favorite white or rose champagne. L’Chaim!  May you be blessed with chuppah!