Monday, April 26, 2010

Jewish Home

It is a very rare week when we are all home for Shabbat. Most weeks I work in one of the three congregations I sing for. I love my job, and I love my work, but part of what I love about being Jewish is the emphasis we put as a culture on gathering around a common meal as a family. When I am singing, it's really hard to make that happen.

Not all food associations in the world are healthy, but I have to believe that gathering with joy must be good for my children on many a level. As much as I would like to will it otherwise, however, I am not immune from a 'clear your plate,''are you eating or just playing' lecture. I had my moment of inward cringing on Friday when I found myself explaining to N why we don't throw challah on the floor. I stopped myself short before I got into full rant about starving children in Ethiopia, though the haMotzi and thankful to God did creep in there. The full squashing of cultural food guilt in our Jewish Italian home will be an ongoing process.

In the meantime, we had an amazing meal (if I do say so myself) of kosher organic free range chicken with root veg and homemade challah. The quality of the locally raised and humanely slaughtered chicken far surpassed any other meat I've had in recent memory. I was completely blown away.

So, here are the involved recipes:

Sephardi Challah 
from Second Helpings, Please!

1/2 cup warm water
1 pkg/2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cup water warm
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 Tbs salt
3 3/4 to 4 cups flour

1. Warm your mixing bowl with a kettle full of hot water.

2. Dump out water. Add yeast, flour and 1/2 cup water. Allow yeast to proof.

3. Meanwhile, mix additional water, oil, eggs and sugar. Once yeast is proofed, add the mixture with half the flour and beat well. Add the second half of the flour. Mix and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Knead for 10 minutes. Return to clean bowl, cover and allow to sit until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs.

5. Punch down. Recover and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

6. Punch down. Turn out onto board and knead for a minute. Allow to rest while you grease a bread pan. Divide into 7 equal sections for the 7 days of creation. Stagger along the loaf pan, so that when finished it will look like this:

Cover again, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hrs.

7. When 1 1/2 hrs have passed, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 egg yolk with a bit of water, and brush over your challah. When oven is preheated, place challah in oven for 30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, allow to cool for at least 2 hrs prior to serving.

Suzi Goldman's Sherry Chicken

Root Vegetables - carrots, potatoes, celery, turnips, parsnip, etc
1 chicken
1-2 cups Sherry
1 pkg onion soup mix

1. Preheat oven to 350. Peel and chop your veggies. Place in a dutch oven. Clean and trim your whole chicken. Place on top of the veggies. 

2. Mix the soup mix with the sherry. Pour over the chicken. 

3. Cover the dutch oven and place in your preheated oven for 1/2 hr per lb of chicken. Remove the cover for the last half hour. 

4. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve to oohs ahh and gasps. Bask in deserved praise.
Even MY toddler will eat it.

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