Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Surprise - Parshat Miketz

I love surprise parties, but never have I ever been to one as prolonged as the one in this week's portion, Parshat Miketz. Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt seeking relief from the famine, and Joseph, who is in charge of food rationing, recognizes them immediately. But they don’t recognize him. It will be quite a while before he reveals his identity to them - hey it’s me brother Joe.

Joseph first wants to see if they have changed since they threw him in the pit and devises an elaborate plan to test their loyalty to one another. He accuses them of being spies and says that the only way they can prove otherwise is to leave their brother Shimon behind as collateral and bring their brother Benjamin back to Egypt.

With a heavy heart the brothers return to their father with bags of grain. Jacob is livid when he learns that they want to bring his youngest and beloved son Benjamin back to Egypt - and they are all upset when they discover that the money they paid for the grain was returned to their sacks. Not that they don't like free things, but they don't want to get accused of stealing on top of the spying accusation.

While their father tries to stall their return to Egypt, the provisions eventually run out and they have no choice but to return.  Judah promises to be personally responsible for Benjamin’s welfare and Jacob consent to send Benjamin with them. Jacob also sends them with double the money they first went with as well as some gifts to win Joseph’s favor, including honey, pistachio nuts and almonds.

Once back in Egypt the brothers get invited to Joseph’s home for a meal. This makes them a little uneasy - wondering if they are walking into a trap that is meant to be retribution for not paying for their goods. But Joseph’s butler assures them that all has been paid for and is well. Joseph is so overwhelmed to be united with his little brother Benjamin and to hear good news of his father’s health that he almost spills the surprise then and there. But he has yet to be convinced of any change in the brothers so he holds off for a bit longer.

In the final phase of his plan Joseph has his butler slip an expensive goblet into Benjamin’s bag and when the brothers leave Egypt the next morning his servants chase after them and accuse them of stealing their master’s cup. Of course the brothers deny any wrong doing, but when the cup is discovered in the bag of Benjamin they're all dragged back to Joseph’s home where he confronts them again.

Judah takes responsibility for the crime and pleads with Joseph not to hold one of them responsible but to detain them as an entire group. Joseph pushes back and says he is not that tyrannical, he will only exact punishment on Benjamin since he stole the cup. The portion ends with a cliff hanger - Judah's response doesn't come until next week’s portion. So you'll have to wait a week to find out how Joseph finally does reveal his identity : )

The gifts that the brothers bring are the essential ingredients for nougat - a sweet, creamy, fluffy, chewy white confection that can easily be made into airy ice cream.

Nougat Ice Cream with Honey, Pistachios and Almonds
This dish, adapted from this Epicurious recipe, is more like a fluffy frozen confection than a solid ice cream. Picture less dense, less sticky marshmallow fluff studded with toasted nuts. It is made in four easy steps and doesn't even require an ice cream maker (only 4 hours of patience while it hardens in your freezer).

2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of unsalted, shelled pistachios
3 tbsp honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in a stand mixer until soft peaks form.

soft peaks

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan simmer the honey, sugar and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves and then boil the liquid for 1 minute.

Add to the egg whites slowly while beating. Continue to beat for 4 minutes until stiff peaks form (it should look like light weight marshmallow fluff).

Toast the nuts over a medium flame for about a minute, or until fragrant. Allow to cool and chop them up.

Put the beaten egg whites and honey into a large rectangular baking dish. In the stand mixer, beat the whipping cream into soft peaks - pay attention to it's progress and try not to over beat it or your ice cream will be crumbly.

Fold the beaten cream into the beaten egg whites and gently incorporate the chopped nuts.

Evenly spread the confection out in the baking dish. Cover and put in the freezer for 4 hours before enjoying.


Happy First day of Chanukah! I hope you all have occasion to celebrate Jewish Pride, religious freedom, fighting for what you believe in, and gratitude.

I’m also very excited about eating a lot of latkas - including these:
Butternut Squash Latkas
Healthy Vegetable Filled Latkas
Sweet Potato Curry Latkas
Potato Latkas topped with Pomegranate seeds and Greek Yogurt (Ironic?)And...

Beet Latkas with Horseradish Creme Fraiche

1 potato, peeled
2 beets, peeled
1  small onion, peeled
1/3 cup of flour
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of creme fraiche
1/8 cup of beet horseradish

Slice the potato in two and feed into a food processor with a shredder disc attachment. Do the same with the beets and onion. Drain the grated vegetables in a large swath of cheese cloth and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.

Put the drained vegetables in a bowl and add the egg, flour, salt and pepper. Form the latkas by heaping tablespoons and flatten them out using the palm of your hand.

Heat the olive oil in a small nonstick pan over high heat. Place 2-4 latkas at a time in the pan and fry them for 2-3 minutes on each side- the oil should be hot enough that it turns the latkas a nice brown, but the oil never smokes. Drain the latkas on paper towels.

Mix the horseradish and creme fraiche and serve over the latkas.

What are your favorite latka and topping combinations?

Past Recipes for Parshat Miketz
Corn Bread
Wheat Berry Salad with Onions and Citrus
Lean Mean Spicy Meatloaf

Chanukah Recipes
Potato Latkas with Red and Green Onions and Apple
Suggested Dairy Chanukah Menus

This post is linked to Real Food Digest Hanukkah 2011 Blog Carnival


  1. Thanks for all the great latke recipes! I tried the butternut squash and healthy vegetable ones - so low calorie and delish! One tip I have is to add a little more egg/flour to the recipes to get it to stick together better.

  2. YUM! The nougat ice cream was out of this world! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  3. I'm always looking for more ice cream recipes that don't require an ice cream maker. This one looks terrific. (And if anyone wants to gift me with honey, pistachios, and almonds, you will totally win my favor.)

  4. Hi Tali - glad you've found a new and easy recipe here!