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challah1

From  A Blessing of Bread: Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs by Maggie Glezer

This recipe for a classic European challah (pronounces "chern-o-vitzer") comes from the late Lotte Langmann. It is not terribly sweet or eggy, but it is generously enriched with oil. The Austrians* traditionally use a four-stranded braid, but this dough holds its shape so beautifully during baking that it is a great choice for showing off any fancy shape. This has become one of my favorite recipes.

Ingredients:

1 envelope or 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams/ 0.3 oz) instant yeast
(a.k.a. “Bread Machine” “Perfect Rise,” “QuickRise,” or “RapidRise” yeast)
About 3 3/4 cups (500 grams/17.7 oz) unbleached bread flour, divided
3/4 cup (170 grams/6 oz) warm water
1 3/4 teaspoons (10 grams/0.4 oz) table salt
1/2 cup (100 grams/3.6 oz) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, plus one egg for glazing
1/2 cup (110 grams/3.8 oz) vegetable oil

Directions:

MIXING THE DOUGH: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 3/4 cups (100 g, 3 oz) of the flour, then whisk in the warm water until the yeast slurry is smooth.

Let the yeast slurry ferment uncovered for 10?20 minutes, or until it begins to ferment and puff up slightly. As the slurry is hydrating and starting to ferment, add on top, WITHOUT MIXING IN, the salt, sugar, eggs, and oil.

When the slurry bubbles up and over the salt, sugar, eggs and oil, the dough is ready to be mixed. Whisk in the ingredients, and when the mixture is smooth, stir in the remaining 3 cups (400 g, 14.7 oz) flour all at once, with your hands or a wooden spoon. Mix the dough just until all the flour is incorporated, there is really no need to knead it. If the dough is too firm, add a tablespoon or two of water to the dough; or, if the dough seems too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour.

This dough should feel smooth and slightly sticky.

FERMENTING THE DOUGH: Place the dough in the mixing bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. (If desired, the dough can be refrigerated just after kneading and removed from the refrigerator and finished fermenting up to 24 hours later.) Let the dough ferment until it has at least doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen. (If refrigerated, the dough will take an extra 30-60 minutes of fermentation).

SHAPING AND PROOFING THE DOUGH: Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or oil it. Divide the dough in half for 2 medium loaves, braid or shape them as desired, position them on the prepared sheets, and cover them well with plastic wrap. (This is another point at which the loaves can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

Let the loaves proof until tripled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. (Add another hour if the loaves were refrigerated).

Thirty minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack in the upper third position,remove any racks above it, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C, gas mark 4). Beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt to glaze the breads.

BAKING THE LOAVES: When the loaves have tripled and do not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remain indented, brush them with the egg glaze.

Optionally sprinkle the loaves with the poppy or sesame seeds. Bake the 2 one-pound loaves for 35-40 minutes. After 20 minutes of baking, switch the breads from front to back so that they brown evenly. If the large loaves are browning too quickly, tent them with foil. When the loaves are very well browned, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

Notes:

Yield: Two 1-pouund challahs, one 1 1/2-pound challah plus three rolls, or sixteen 2-ounce rolls.

*Vienna of the Eastern Europe. In the late nineteenth century, the city of Czernowitz, known as the Vienna of Eastern Europe, was famous throughout Austria-Hungary for its tolerance, civic beauty, culture, and learning. Frequently renationalized over the last millennium, Czernowitz has passed through Romanian, Ottoman, and Austrian control and is now a Ukrainian city called Chernivtsi. At its cultural peak at the turn of the twentieth century, it was populated and governed by Jews from Poland, Russia, Austria, and Romania - it even hosted the first-ever Yiddish-language conference in 1908. Of course, World War II destroyed this idyll, and most of the city's Jews were deported to Auschwitz.

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blessofbreadcropped

From A Blessing of Bread: Recipes and Rituals, Memories and Mitzvahs by Maggie Glezer

A good measure of extra virgin olive oil imparts a beautiful pale greenish color to the crumb and gives this bread a moist texture and a flaky, brittle crust. This savory challah is quickly mixed and easily shaped and, thanks to the low-water/high-oil content, very easy to handle. Because this dough does not hold its shape as well as some other doughs, form it into a simple ring or round, or a single-strand braid*; fancier forms would be wasted here.

This bread is good served with any menu, but it goes particularly well with Mediterranean-style food. It also makes excellent croutons and toasts.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon (3 grams/ 0.1 oz) instant yeast (a.k.a. “Bread Machine” “Perfect Rise,” "QuickRise™,” or “RapidRise™”)
3 3/4 cups (500 grams/17.6 oz) unbleached bread flour, divided
1 1/4 cups (280 grams/9.9 oz) warm water
1/2 cup (110 grams/3.8 oz) good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons (11 grams/ 0.4 oz.) table salt
Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Directions:

MIXING THE YEAST SLURRY: In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and 1 1/4 cups (150 g, 5.6 oz) flour, then whisk in the water until the yeast slurry is smooth.

Let the yeast slurry ferment, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes, or until it begins to ferment and puff up slightly.

MIXING THE DOUGH: Whisk into the puffed yeast slurry the oil and the salt. When the mixture is smooth and the salt has dissolved, stir in the remaining 2 1/2 cups (350 g, 12 oz) flour with your hands or a wooden spoon. When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape it out onto your work surface and knead it just until it is well mixed. (Soak your mixing bowl in hot water now, to clean it and warm it if you would like to use it for fermenting the dough.)

If the dough is too firm, add a tablespoon or two of water to the dough, or, if the dough seems to wet, add a few tablespoons of flour to it.

FERMENTING THE DOUGH: When the dough is fully kneaded, place it in the cleaned, warmed bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment until it has tripled in bulk, about 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

SHAPING AND REFRIGERATING THE DOUGH: Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or with foil, oiling the foil.

Divide the dough into one large loaf plus three rolls, or in half for two loaves, braid or shape them as desired, position them on the prepared sheets, and cover them well with plastic wrap. I highly recommend refrigerating the shaped loaves at this point for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.

PROOFING THE DOUGH: When ready to bake, remove the loaves from the refrigerator, and let them proof until tripled in size, about 2 1/2 hours.

Thirty minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack in the upper third position, remove all racks above it, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C, gas mark 7). If desired, preheat a baking sheet in the oven to double with the baking sheets on which the loaves are resting.

BAKING THE DOUGH: When the loaves have tripled and do not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remain indented, brush the loaves all over with water, then sprinkle them heavily with sesame seeds. Bake them on the preheated pans,

if you have followed this step. After 30 minutes, switch the breads from front to back and let them continue to bake for another 10−20 minutes. The rolls should be ready after 30 minutes, the smaller breads should bake for about 40 minutes, and the larger breads should bake for about 50 minutes. When the loaves are very darkly browned, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

Notes:

Yield: Yields 2 one-pound challahs Or 1 one-and-one-half-pound challah and 3 two-ounce rolls

*Watch this YouTube video on how to shape a Single-Strand Braid

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beefpotpie

Adapted from a recipe by renowned artist Barbara Ladin Fisher

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup margarine or oil
2-4 tablespoons water

Filling:
2 cups onions, minced
2-3 pounds ground beef
1 /2 pounds chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 slices parve white bread, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup minced parsley
1 beaten egg

Directions:

Crust::
Blend dry ingredients in food processor. With machine running, add egg, water, and oil. Form dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:
Brown meat. Sautee onions until brown. Combine, all filling ingredients. Place mixture in an ovenproof deep 12-Inch pie dish or a large casserole dish.

Roll dough large enough to cover meat mixture. Pinch around sides. Brush with beaten egg. Prick crust with fork. Bake in preheaded 400 degree oven about 30-40 minutes until crust is golden.

Notes:

Yield: serves about 8

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Ingredients:

1 eight ounce package cream cheese
3 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons sour cream
5 slices of lox or nova
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature.

In a food processor, combine scallions, lox, sour cream, seasoning and blend until creamy.

Chill in a serving dish. Enjoy with bagels, mini rye or wheat toast crackers.

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moroccanchicken

Adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, by Joan Nathan

When Celine Bénitah cooks this dish, she blanches the olives for a minute to get rid of the bitterness, a step that I never bother with. If you keep the pits in, just warn your guests in order to avoid any broken teeth! Céline also uses the marvelous Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout, which includes, among thirty other spices, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and paprika. You can find it at Middle Eastern markets or through the Internet, or you can use equal amounts of the above spices or others that you like.

To make my life easier, I assemble the spice rub the day before and marinate the chicken overnight. The next day, before my guests arrive, I fry the chicken and simmer it.

Ingredients:

4 large cloves garlic, mashed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 to 2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
One 3 1/2  to- 4- pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup black Moroccan dry-cured olives, pitted
Diced rind of 2 preserved lemons (recipe: Citrons Confits)

Directions:

Mix the mashed garlic with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, the turmeric, the ras el hanout, half the cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Rub the surface of the chicken pieces with this spice mixture, put them in a dish, and marinate in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

The next day, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan. Sauté the spice- rubbed chicken until golden brown on each side.

Stir the cornstarch into 1 cup water, and pour over the chicken. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add the olives, and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the preserved lemon, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.

Garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous.

Notes:

Yields 4-6 servings

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