Monday, June 28, 2010

We Can Do It - Parshat Pinchas

In this week’s portion, Parshat Pinchas, the nation gets counted again, the holidays get reviewed, and Joshua gets publicly appointed as the successor of Moses. Amidst all this hoopla it’s easy for one of my favorite stories to get lost. The nation (numbering 601,730, and pacing slightly behind the count of the previous generation's 603,550) is assigned portions in the land of Israel that correspond to the size of the tribes and to the clans within them. But there is a family that is at risk of getting left out of this system because they have only daughters and the allocations are made to the men of the household.

These women, the daughters of Zelofchad, in the tribe of Menashe, come to Moses and explain their predicament. Machlah, Noah, Choglah, Milcah and Tirtzah tell him and the other leaders that their father died in the desert, not, they are quick to point out, because he had anything to do with the rebel Korach. They don’t want their father's name to be completely lost because he had no sons, and they request to have a portion of land within the clan. Well, this is something Moses isn’t really prepared for, but he doesn’t shut them down, instead he goes to consult God. God deems their plea to be logical and just and orders that their father’s share be transferred to them.

Moses let’s the nation know about an update to the rules: “If a man dies without any sons his property will be transferred to his daughters, if he has no daughters it goes to his brothers, if no brothers, to his father’s brothers, if none of them are around it goes to his nearest living relative in his own clan.” And at the end of the book they take on an additional responsibility that God commands in these situations- any daughter who inherits her father’s land must marry within the clan so that the clan and tribe can retain the land apportioned to them. The five daughters of Tzelofchad uphold this decree and marry the sons of their uncles.

The reason I like this story is because it’s one of the examples in the Bible of women’s leadership. I think of these five sisters as very strong ladies who are not only able to stick up for themselves but who really want to have a role in and influence on the nation of Israel. They are able to present their case in a clear and compelling way and because of them an innovation in the law is created and will help those who come after them. They pave the way for innovation in Jewish tradition while remaining committed to tradition and family. And so, I’ve got a recipe to share with you that is a new twist on an old recipe, or Jewish fusion cooking if you will.

How much more old school can you get than bagel, lox and cream cheese? It’s served at some big deal big Jewish events, which can lead to carb overload. At home, Sam and I like to make omelets with lox, cream cheese and scallions instead. Now this dish might not translate so well to a Shabbat meal since omelets are best served immediately after cooking, but I think you can make it on Sunday morning and it could still count.

A few months back Sam and I mastered the art of making amazing omelets in the French style. During the winter some friends were in town, Elitzur and Michal, and we were chatting about the movie Julie and Julia. They said that if we liked the movie we needed to watch some footage of Julia’s cooking shows to see how well Meryl Streep had nailed her character. So in searching on utube we found a clip of Julia making French omelets, which involves a very hot pan, butter, some dexterous wrist action, and much less time for the eggs to be in the pan than in any omelet I’d ever made. I want you to watch the video and I want to share her technique with you, without additions. These omelets are so fluffy – they are such a departure from the thick leaden ones we usually make at home or eat at a buffet.

French Omelet with Lox, Cream Cheese and Chives

Serves 2 people. Adapted from Julia Child’s “The French Chef…..

4 eggs

2 splashes of water

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

2 tablespoons of cream cheese cut into small cubes

Handful of Scallions or chives chopped

4 slices of lox cut into bite size pieced and divided.

2 tbsp butter

First get the egg mixture all ready before you heat your pan – once that pan is hot it’s a quick process with no time to spare. Take two measuring cups to prepare each serving in so that you’ll have each batch them ready to go. Crack two eggs into the first measuring cup (first checking each for blood spots in a clear glass cup) and add a dash of salt and pepper as well as a splash of water and stir briefly with a fork, but not too much. Do the same in the second cup. Also have at the ready two plates to flip the omelets onto as soon as they’re done.

Place an 8 inch non stick frying pan over high heat and add a tablespoon of butter. Let the butter melt and bubble for just under a minute. Spread it around your pan with a silicone baking brush and make sure you go over the periphery of the pan. Add the first egg mixture and swirl it around the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Drop in half the cream cheese and the lox and let them sit on top of the eggs. Wait a few second for the eggs to bubble themselves and then grab the pan by the handle and jerk it back and forth several times to get the omelet to fold over on itself (it’s good to watch the clip for this technique) and flip onto a plate. Sprinkle with half of the chopped scallions or chives and serve right way.

No comments:

Post a Comment