Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In-A-Propriate - Parshat Ki Tisah

If anyone has read Shalom Auslander you know a tortured Jewish soul. This young comedic heretic has such a constant fear of God that it hampers his writing - he is constantly deleting whole files and book drafts that he thinks may piss God off, which would then, according to his beliefs, lead God to kill him or worse, someone he loves. In this sense I'm feeling a bit Shalom Auslander like this week, but I'm not gonna delete anything.

For some reason the two recipe ideas I came up with at the beginning of the week were pretty inappropriate (or as Sam and I would yell in jest at each other In-A-Propriate!) but I just couldn't let go of them. The way that the process of writing this blog goes is something like this: after reading the weekly portion over once I usually have a few ideas, one jumps out and sticks for some reason or another, I mull the idea over and end up going with that idea. I try not to put too much thought into it and the creative ideas usually just arrive on their own in the crevices of my cranium.

Well the first one that popped up this week was to use something with cinnamon. Early on in this week's portion, Parshat Ki Tisah, God describes the sacred blend of spices that go into formulating the anointing oil that will be used to make everything in the tabernacle holy. A lot of the ingredients aren't recognizable to a modern day reader - with cinnamon being an exception. Well wouldn't it be fun to make roasted squash with cinnamon sprinkled over top? Well it wouldn't be if you reread these lines, spoken by God: "This shall be an anointing oil sacred to Me throughout the ages, it must not be rubbed on any person's body and you MUST NOT MAKE ANYTHING LIKE IT in the same proportions, it is sacred, to be held sacred by you." Okay so I'm not using any of the other spices, not trying to replicate it or it's portions, but I am still making this dish to mimic something that isn't supposed to be mimicked so it feels a little funny. Still, I can't give up wanting to make it.

Then the second idea that came along is inappropriate on two levels. One is that it sort of belittles one of the worst episodes in Biblical history- the incident of the Golden Calf. Moses has been up on Mt Sinai for the last three chapters and it's understandable that the nation is getting impatient. Some commentators explain that the nation thought that Moses died and they were looking for a replacement leader so they built this idol (not so smart given the number one rule in the ten commandments). And the second level of inappropriateness is that it uses veal sausage - how terrible! But it is reminiscent of the calf part of the story.

It's actually a dish I grew up on and love - not only do I love it but so does my brother and all of his friends who used to wolf it down when they came over for Shabbat meals. And believe it or not one of them is a Rabbi now and recently requested the recipe make an appearance here so at least part of this post has some official sanction. It was the only veal my mother served and only because there were no other glatt kosher sausages made at the time. But I also feel badly about cooking veal and Sam doesn't think we should serve it to guests, but maybe this will be our one time of year to have it (as he's reading this over my shoulder he's saying "I don't want to eat it at all"). I know, it doesn't make it much better. You can make it better by using any other kind of sausage of your choosing because there are quite a lot of varieties today - Jeff's carries savory and sweet sausages, Neshama even makes organic sausages, and let's not forget the amazing lamb sausages we got from Somkey Joe's.

So God, and for that matter all of you reading this, please don't be mad, I mean no offense. I'm only aiming for a tasty meal.

Cinnamon Roasted Squash Medley
I was pleased by the array of squash at Whole Foods today and selected a medium sized butternut, delicata and acorn squashes. I was especially excited to put our newly arrived Shun knives to the test. Well, I know they can do it because we already have one set we use for meat, so it's more a matter of inaugurating this new dairy set. I'm so elated to finally have this brand new set and to be getting rid of the one dull dairy knife I was subsisting on - and cutting my fingers on.

1 small-medium butternut squash
1 medium delicata squash
1 acorn squash
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 rosemary sprigs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Don't peel any of the squash - the plan is to roast them in their skin. Slice open and de-seed each of the squash. Then cut them all into 4-inch segments. Spread the segments out on a baking sheet covered with a silpat non stick sheet and evenly coat them with olive oil (I like to use a silicone brush to do this).

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then generously dash cinnamon over the slices. Lay the rosemary sprigs over the top of a few slices.

Bake for 40 minutes, watching to make sure that it doesn't burn. Cool and serve.

Sausage, Mushroom and Onions over Pasta
This was a staple at our Shabbat table growing up- one of my mom's invented dishes.

1 package of the pre-cooked sausage of your choosing
3 onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 package of button mushrooms, washed
1 package of Rigattoni
4 tbsp olive oil

Fill a 4 quart pot with water and set over high flame to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions.

In a skillet over a medium flame, heat the olive oil and then add the onion. Cook down for thirty minutes until nice and brown, stirring occasionally. Add in mushrooms and continue to saute for 5 more minutes.

Slice the sausages on the diagonal into one inch bite size pieces. Add the sausages to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes until browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the onion, mushroom and sausage and pan juices to the drained pasta. Toss to coat the pasta with mixture. Serve and enjoy!

P.S. I want to wish a very happy birthday to Judy (Sam's mommy). The above are virtual flowers, a picture I took a number of years ago in Israel, for you on your big day!

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