Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hospitable - Parshat Vayeyra

Avraham and Sarah sure know how to show guests a good time in this week's portion, Parshat Vayeyra. They tell a trio of traveling men who happen upon their tent to make themselves comfy, offer them a little shade, a little water and then parade out an entire feast - freshly baked bread, tender meat and fresh cheese. Not the most kosher meal, but there is much we can learn from the way that this famously hospitable couple took care of their guests. 

I'm related to a woman who also knew how to make someone feel welcomed and special in her home - this week was my paternal grandmother's yartzeit (anniversary of passing). In her honor I brought the following text and some delicious desserts to work and learned with my friends Sara and Rosa in her memory. Here is what we we studied and the lessons we peeled away:

2) Looking up [Avraham] saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and bowing to the ground 3) he said My Lords, if it please you, don’t go past your servant 4) Let a little water be brought, bathe your feet and recline under the tree. 5) And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves then go on, seeing that you have come your servant’s way. They replied, “do as you have said.” 6) Avraham hurried to the tent to Sarah and says “quick, prepare three servings of our best flour – knead it and make cakes.  7) And Avraham ran to the cattle and took a young good calf and gave him to a servant boy who hastened to prepare it. 8) And Avraham took curds (butter or cheese) and milk and the prepared calf and set it in front of the men and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

Here's what we ladies took as lessons from the text:
- Under-promise and over deliver
- Give the best of what you've got
- Be at ease with spur of the moment hospitality
- Enlist the help of others in your kitchen - know how to ask for it and be sure to accept help

In the spirit of help in the kitchen and visitors, we have a guest chef this week - my husband Sam! Though I tend to spend more time in our kitchen than he does, there are a few things that he cooks much better than I can cook. Case in point - his mother's enchiladas, which he makes each year for his Shabbat birthday meal. I asked him to make a batch this week in honor of the weekly portion since it is the only way we can enjoy the "meat," cheese and great bread found in the text in one sitting (thank you recipe crumbles). 

 He rolls recipe crumbles (a meat substitute), olives, cheddar cheese and green chilies in tortillas

Places them in a baking dish 

Spreads on sauce

 and some cheese

then into the oven they go to get bubbly and browned 

Sam insists that fake meat does a much better job at getting at the texture of real meat than fake cheese can ever do for real cheese. When it comes to his enchiladas I most certainly agree - the cheese melts perfectly and we use recipe crumbles, a morning star farm product, to achieve that meaty texture.

6 flour tortillas
1 can Enchilada sauce (green or red - comes in cans or you can buy a packet of seasoning to add to a can of tomato sauce)
3 tbsp onion flakes
Sliced canned black olives
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of recipe crumbles
1 mini can of green chilies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay out all ingredients in bowls or dishes and set out a Pyrex baking dish.

To make the tortillas easier to work with heat them up for a few seconds in a microwave or over a low flame in a skillet.

Take each tortilla and put some recipe crumbles, cheese, chilies, onion and olives down the center of the tortilla in a thin strip and then roll the tortilla up. Place it seam side down in tray. 

Repeat until you have filled 6 tortillas. Ladle the enchilada sauce over the full pan and top with cheese and olives.

Cook for 30 minutes until bubbly and brown.


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