It's been almost 6 months since my last post here. I've been enjoying my little girl Zoe (born 3 days after my last post - exactly on her due date!). My experience in the kitchen has changed a bit since becoming a mom and I've been mulling over what to do with this blog. I made several unsuccessful attempts to come back and while I don't have it all figured out - I miss it here. I won't be trying to post every week - after 3 years at this and a new little person to look after that doesn't seem likely. But I'll aim to post when something good is brewing in the portion and the kitchen.
So here I am, back with a throw-back. This week's portion, Parshat Bo, has only been covered once on this blog. It was a post back in 2010 and it was a good one, therefor I'm re-posting it now. Here's a little forshpies (Yiddish for taste/appetizer) of some dishes that recently popped out of my kitchen that I'll share the details of when the tie-in is right: a caramelly date and red onion wild rice, a spicy pomegranate marinated salmon and vinegary barley kale goat cheese salad.
Parshat Bo circa 2010: [with a 2013 comment in italics]
There are dishes we all like to throw together in a hurry. Some of
mine include scrambled eggs and cream cheese when running late for work [I made that when I was running late??],
sardines and goat cheese over lettuce with my lemon garlic dressing upon returning from work famished and tired, chicken with quartered lemons, rosemary sprigs and peeled garlic cloves when there is a one-hour countdown before Shabbat and a table
full of people to feed. In this week’s
portion, Parshat Bo, the whole nation does some hurried and harried
cooking when they produce flat breads as they’re rushing out of Egypt.
this. You’re a Hebrew slave in Egypt and you know your buddy Moses has
been working on Pharoh to let you and your fellow Hebrews go. You find
out that in the middle of the night Moses gets a
call from a distressed Pharoh who says “Get out of
from among my nation and go and worship your God as you have been asking
for.” All of a sudden your Egyptian neighbors are goading you to leave
Egypt hoping it will save them from the final plague. You and your
Israelite friends can’t Fred Flintstone your legs fast enough to get out
of there before anyone changes their mind.
have the thought- what if I get hungry along the way? So you grab that
bowl of dough you just kneaded which hasn’t yet had time to rise, and
you wrap the bowl in your cloak and carry it over your shoulders on the
way out of Egypt. You had no time for any significant tzedah laderech, and it looks like most of your friends had the same idea.
all make it to the outskirts of Egypt. While waiting for the next leg
of the Exodus you bake these unleavened (i.e. un-risen) cakes of
dough, aka Matzah. Nowadays your great, great, great, great (etc) grand kids eat that same stuff at their Passover Seders.
commandment to celebrate Passover - eating Matzah and avoiding risen bread for seven days to memorialize our freedom
- appears in this portion right after the whole Matzah making story. Some
of you may not be so thrilled with the story’s bread banning
conclusion, others may be closet Matzah pizza lovers, or may engage in
debates over Matzah shmeared in cream cheese versus Matzah and butter.
Personally I can’t get enough Matzah brei (rhymes with eye) over
Passover, and I enjoy the first few crunches of shmurah Matzah
at the Seder. But I'm always jealous of those who have the custom to
bake their Matzah in a way that is soft and doughy, probably closer to
how the Israelites did it in this weeks Parsha.
you are ever in Israel for Passover you can find these types of doughy
pita breads, or lavash, being sold in the outdoor markets for those who
use them at their Seders. While I wish my family did, alas we hail from
Eastern Europe and stick only to the crackly stuff. But I can enjoy
this type of fluffy home made treat during the rest of the year and am especially
looking forward to doing so this Shabbat. Note that the recipe I use
involves considerable rising time to get those pitas as puffy as
possible, which is not how those who eat lavash on Passover make them,
nor is it very much in the spirit of the weekly portion. So if you're
pinched for time, or feeling like being truer to the text, go
ahead and skip the rising process, the pitas will still be delish.
have made pita/lavash a number of times at home and love the smell that pours out of the kitchen when
I do. I feel a sense of accomplishment as the warm stack of white discs marked by spots of char grows higher as I
cook. Sam and I enjoy the pitas with home made shwarma (chopp leftover turkey, fry it in a pan of oil and
middle eastern spices) or spiced ground beef and chumus when we're
missing Israeli fast food. You can also incorporate aromatics
and herbs into the pitas themselves. I’m going to try adding crushed
garlic and rosemary to some of mine this time around and use them in place of challah at my Shabbat meal. Try the recipe below and if
you can reheat them a bit before serving on Shabbat I think they will
taste like when you first made them- steaming with the smell of carbs
The recipe I use came from a tall cookbook by Marlena Spieler titled Jewish Cooking
that my Aunt gave me 5 years ago. It’s the kind of cookbook you can
find at Borders - with the wonderfully large and colorful food
photographs that really entice you to make a dish, and that often
illustrate part of the cooking process. This is a plus for me as I mainly
choose recipes to attempt based on pictures. It's also got a nice introduction that covers Jewish history and food.
Pita or Lavash
Adapted from Jewish Cooking by Marlena Spieler
is simply a longer, pocketless pita and this recipe generally yields pocketless pitas. They are best cooked in a cast iron or a grill pan
(or over the grill if you happen to have access to one in the winter).
Feel free to cut out the rising time.
4.5 cups of flour
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) of yeast (rapid rise)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of water
Optional spices such as fresh garlic and rosemary
the flour, yeast and salt in one bowl. In another large bowl, mix
together the oil and water, then stir in half the flour mixture. If you
want to add spices, such as the garlic and rosemary I suggested, now is
the time. Knead in the rest of the flour and shape into a ball. Cover
the bowl with a damp dishtowel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes
to 2 hours (depending on your time frame).
After it has
risen, knead the dough for ten minutes. If you have time, cover and let
it rise again. If not, divide the dough into 12 pieces for nice round
pitas, or fewer for larger longer lavash. Dip your hands into some
flour to keep them from sticking to the dough and flatten each piece
with a rolling pin or your hands. Try to keep the pita ½ an inch thick.
Keep the dough that you aren’t working with covered.
a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Wait for it to get smoking
hot and then add one of the pitas and cook for 20 seconds. Turn it over with tongs a cook for 1 minute
on the other side.
large bubbles form on the bread turn it over again and watch as it puffs
up. Press down gently with a dishtowel, and then cook for 2-3 more
minutes. Remove from the pan and wrap the pita in a dry dishtowel.
Repeat with the remaining dough, adding the finished pitas to the stack
in the dry dishtowel.