All things food and Jewish… and just in time for Purim!
Since this issue’s theme is “venahafoch hu” (“and it was overturned”, ie Haman’s evil decree), let’s stop before we start to look back at PAST Kosher Cooking Carnivals (Editions 1 through 50):
Here's a list: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, KCC Meta Carnival, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50… and I’m number 51!
And now, let’s begin!
Speaking of gingerbread, if you crave the taste but don’t want it in hamentash form, Chana Rubin (Healthy Kosher Eating with Chana) would like to suggest Gingerbread Cupcakes… and a delightful pareve garbanzo-bean (chickpea) stew to go along with it.
Still not sure what to pack in your mishloach manot baskets?
For me, venahafoch hu is reminiscent of GARDEN SEASON: the time we “overturn” the soil. Here in Canada, we are undauntedly gearing up despite still-freezing temperatures.
Last year, I actually sent out “garden” themed mishloach manot packages, thirty of them, each with a teeny baby petunia plant tucked inside. The packages had a “summer” theme, with a flower, ice cream scoop and lemonade mix powder. Rachel Swirsky (Moving on Up), a former fellow Torontonian (and perhaps future fellow olah??) offers a sweeter take on on the same “growing” theme – one that probably won’t break the bank.
This year, our theme will probably be BREAD - my current obsession. I wanted to do mini-baguettes, but now I’m thinking breadsticks. Stay tuned (at my other blog, Adventures in BreadLand) and I’ll let you know how they turn out. A small bunch of breadsticks nicely tied together, two types of dip, a couple of hamentashen. Perfect!
Dip? Dip? Better haul out my trusty Cuisinart, while Hannah Katsman (Cooking Manager) reminisces about learning from her mother that a food processor or two (or three!) is a worthwhile investment at this time of year.
This year, she warns us to read the fine print! Like the situation for the Jews of Purim, food labels can change at any time; we shouldn’t rely on packaged foods to just keep on being the “same-old” favourites we know so well. Here in chutz la’aretz, that applies doubly to hasgachot (kosher supervision). Just because a product was kosher when you bought it last week doesn’t mean you don’t have to look carefully for (and at) the hechsher this week.
And then there are hamentashen. Oznei Haman: Haman’s ears. Or Haman’s pockets… or, well, whatever you want to call them.
Purim, or any holiday season, can be a miserable time if you’re sticking to a gluten-free diet. Happily, there’s Liz Steinberg’s (Cafe Liz) recipe for gluten-free rice Purim Special Mochi Hamentashen, with several creative fillings in a Japanese mode. These hamentashen rely on the “gluey” nature of the rice-flour mochi to hold the triangle shape together. Simply microwave and form – no baking or steaming involved.
If you can tolerate gluten, but are tired of the usual holiday cookies, Liz will also show you how to use fine noodle-like frozen “kadaif” pastry to make Pistachio Birds’ Nest Baklava… Hamentashen like you’ve never seen before.
Another food gift that will raise eyebrows – in a good way – and bump up the sophistication rom “cookies on a plate” to “distinctly grown-up goodies” are Miriam Kresh’s (Israeli Kitchen) preserves and liqueurs. Her Apple-Walnut Chutney and Summer-in-a-Bottle Mellow Limoncello are welcome alternatives to the kiddie treats.
Of course, mishloach manot are just the beginning when it comes to Purim food: there’s also a mitzvah to eat a seudah, a special festive meal.
If you manage to prepare and shop ahead of time (and you have someone to prep your veggies who won’t be occupied packing and delivering mishloach manot), perhaps you’ll feel inspired by Gloria Kobrin’s Buffet Purim Seudah.
Or, if you love meat wrapped around meat and don’t have the energy for a Turducken, Pesky Settler (Yesha Settler) offers Chicken-Wrapped Kebabs… if you can find a package of prepared kebabs. Another “only in Israel” treat, I guess.
Sobering thoughts: While for us foodies Purim may be all about the eatin’, for many – including, scarily enough, our teenagers – it may be more about the drinkin’. Hadassah Sabo Milner (In the Pink) muses about teens and Purim drinking. As a parent of teens, I find it worthwhile reading also for the many insightful comments.
Getting back to venahafoch hu, how topsy-turvy is it that we’re sending gifts of food, not to food banks, but to friends, most of whom probably have all the food they need? Curiouser still if you consider that the clock is ticking: your friends now have exactly four weeks to rid themselves of your gifts before Pesach. Thanks a lot, friends!
Luckily, Amy Meltzer (homeshuling) has a few delicious chametz-ridding ideas up her sleeve to use up the accumulation of flour, oats and more that you may have stocked up on to create all those delicious Purim goodies.
Finally, if debates over which holiday is best get as heated in your household as they do in ours, Revenge of the Hamentashen, from the kosher.com blogs, pits the pointy triangular cookies against their arch-nemesis, the latke. Spoiler alert: hamentashen beat latkes easily, in not one but EIGHT different ways. But I’ll let you read those for yourself.
Whether you’re overturning the soil, overturning Haman’s evil decree or just overturning your tired body to get another few minutes’ sleep once Purim is over, hopefully this roundup has inspired you to get going (or is that growing?)… to get packing, sending, reading, stomping, booing, baking, noshing, dressing up, and sharing this delightful festival with everybody in your life.
!חג פורים שמח …Chag Purim Sameach!