Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sukkot - The Feast of Ingathering

From the days of Moses, Sukkot was agricultural in its origin, and is a pilgrimage time when people used to walk to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast from all over the country. This is one of 3 occasions through the year where a pilgrimage to Jerusalem was happening in Israel in those days. Sukkot, a 7 day holiday was regarded as a general thanksgiving for the generosity of nature in the year that had passed and for a good rainy season for the next years crop.

Its a custom to invite people on this holiday and be a host, entertain an share the goodness of the land. Sukkot is the only holiday in Judaism where we don't have specific traditional food but it is a custom to eat fruit.

And what could be better than a freshly baked Orange cake to celebrate the holiday and bring home the smells of nature.

Orange Cake

6 Egg yolks
6 Egg whites
2 Grated Orange peels
1.5 cups of Sugar
0.5 cup of Oil
1 ts Vanilla essence
10g Baking powder
3/4 cup of fresh Orange Juice
2 cups of Plain Flour
Icing sugar for decorating

How to:
1) Heat the oven to 160c
2) Beat the Egg whites to a stiff foam
3) In a separate bowl, mix all the other ingredients together
4) Fold in gently the beaten egg whites into the mixture
5) Put into a cake pan and bake for 70 minutes
6) Eat ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yom Kippur - The holiest day of the year

It's funny, I just started a blog about Israeli food and started with the Jewish new year which is the perfect day to start. If you start a blog or anything new, why not in the first day of the year, right?
So, Rosh Hasha (Jewish new year) been and gone and now Yom Kippur rolls around and its a day of fasting.... 25 hours (!) of no food or drinks (no, not even water, and no cheating while brushing your teeth too ;)... initially I thought, nice, that's exactly what I needed for a food blog...
But, after thinking about it and talking to a good friend I realized this day is much more than just a no food kind of day. This day is about stopping from doing the things we do on a daily basis and cleansing our body. Its a great day to think things over and make it clear for ourselves in who we are and what we are here for. A great day to say: I'm sorry, to friends, family and anyone you might have done wrong too (or think you have).
Yom Kippur in Israel, is a day where everything stops. No TV, no radio, no traffic (no private cars or public transport), no restaurants are open, no schools, no one rings anyone, no one txts anyone, not even a tweet. Now, don't panic and take a big breath and think how great will it be...
Back to basics. Cleansing from the inside out and from the outside in and everyone around you doing the same. Cool, eh?

And as this is a blog about great Israeli food... what a better way to start cleansing than with a Chicken soup - which we traditionally have to stock up with fluid (followed by an enormous meal - which is so typically Israeli / Jewish) just before the fasting day begins.

Here is a great recipes for Chicken Soup dumplings (I trust you'll know how to make a Chicken Soup....)

Chicken Soup dumplings filled with Liver and Chicken

250g Plain Flour
1 ts Salt
2 Eggs
1/4 cup of water

200g Minced meat
200g Chicken liver
50g Goose breast
1 tbs Oil
2 Onions (Chopped)
4 tbs of chopped Parsley
1 Whisked Egg for glazing

How to:
1. Make the dough; mix the salt and the flour together, add the eggs and make a crumble. Add the water and mix to soft dough. wrap in cling film and put in the fridge.
2. Make the filling; heat up some oil in the pan, add the onions until caramelized, add the meat and brown it together. Add the Parsley, salt and paper to taste.
3. Roll the dough, as thin as you can (use a pasta machine if you have one)
4. Brush the rolled dough with the whisked egg and cut the dough to big squares at about 7cm x 7cm. In the middle of each square put a spoon of the meat mix and close to a triangle shape. Stick two of the triangle corners together (making a dough ring shape from it - like tortellini)
5. Boil water with salt in a pot and drop the dumplings in until they float. Scoop them out and serve with a Chicken soup. (or you can serve them as they are with fried onions)

Friday, September 10, 2010

New year, New beginnings

It's the Jewish new year of 5771. It's a time to celebrate with family and close friends the start of a new year. There are a few symbols for the new year; wearing white - a symbol of a new beginning, eating honey - a symbol for a sweet year, and eating fish - as a symbol for growth and abundance.

There are many great recipes for the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashana) and here is one of my favourites:

Honey Cake (quantity for two long cake pans)

200g Sugar
10g Baking powder
1/2 ts Baking soda powder
350g Plain flour
1 ts Cinnamon
1 Ground Clover
50g (1/2 cup) Walnuts in pieces
120ml Oil (best to use some sort of a nut oil)
340g of light and liquid Honey
3 Eggs
240ml Turkish Coffee (with water ready to drink)
1 ts Instant Coffee

How to:
Preheat the oven to 180c
Mix together all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl
Mix all the wet ingesiants (oil, honey, eggs and coffee) in another bowl in a mixer and slowly add all the dry ingredients and continue to mix until smooth
Pour into pre-oiled pans and bake for 35 minutes

Enjoy with friends and family ;)

More Honey Cake recipes and tips (in Hebrew) here