Home Made Pita & Falafel!

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Summer is all about taking time to do the things one often doesn’t have time for during the  year.

So, it has been months that I’ve been dreaming about getting into the kitchen and being creative, making falafel and pita from scratch and relaxing with an authentic Israeli meal!

I must say that this Falafel recipe is incredible and so is the Pita bread and Techina!

Enjoy!

 

FALAFEL (Yield about 20 Falafel balls)

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup dried chickpeas (I used canned chickpeas)
    • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2-1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper (I omitted)
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4-6 tablespoons flour
    • Soybean or vegetable oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)
    • Chopped tomato for garnish
    • Diced onion for garnish
    • Diced green bell pepper for garnish
    • Tahina sauce
    • Pita bread

PREPARATION

  1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
  2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (I used my vitamin). Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed.
  3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours. ( I only refrigerated it for 1 hour and did need to add flour so it wouldn’t be sticky).
  4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets. (I used my hands)
  5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375ºF in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper, and pickled turnips. Drizzle with tahina thinned with water.

TECHINA (From Michael Solomonov’s cookbook ZAHAV)

  • Juice of 1 1/2 large lemons (about 1/3 cup), more to taste
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, grated (or minced)
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1 cup sesame tahini (I use the 365 brand)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, more to taste

In a blender, combine the lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let mixture sit 10 minutes. Add tahini, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the cumin, and blend until a thick paste forms. Add 1/3 to 2/3 cup ice water while blender is running, a little at a time, until sauce is smooth. You’re looking for a perfectly smooth, creamy sauce.

PITA BREAD (From Michael Solomonov’s cookbook ZAHAV)

INGREDIENTS
  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix together ½ cup water, the yeast, and sugar in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a large mixing bowl. Mix using the stand mixer or a wooden spoon until blended. Add the yeast mixture, another ½ cup of water, and the oil and mix until the dough forms a ball that pulls clear of the sides and bottom of the bowl. If after a few minutes the mixture doesn’t form a ball, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
  3. The moment the dough starts to pull clear of the bottom of the bowl, add ½ cup water and continue mixing until incorporated. The dough should feel tacky when slapped with a clean hand, but it should not stick. If it sticks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about an hour. Alternatively, let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, with a rack in the upper third. Place a baking stone or an inverted baking sheet (I used a cookie sheet) in the oven to preheat as well.
  6. Roll the dough into 8 balls the size of baseballs. Cover with a cloth and let rise until they are about the size of softballs.
  7. Roll each dough ball to about ¼” thickness with a floured rolling pin on a floured work surface. Place one or two (I placed more, as many as would fit) at a time on the baking stone or baking sheet and bake until puffed and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately, or let cool.

Window Cookie Boxes!

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So. Y’know those moments that you work so very hard for? Those times when you have placed your entire heart and soul into a mere few hours of an event, program or dinner?

Well, last night was one of those times.

For many, many years, we have had the honor to host the Camp Emunah Touring Shluchos 10th grade summer program. It is always a highlight of our summer as we tap into the incredible energy found deep within this fun loving, upbeat group.

Last night, however was a bit different as I had the most beautiful experience to host my very own daughter who is participating in this very program she basically grew up with.

And yes, apart from feeling a bit old incredulous that I am witnessing a full circle before my very own eyes, I was simply moved and so very grateful.

Grateful that not only my ankle has healed enough to bake, cook, decorate and host but grateful to see my daughter at this stage in life, so happy and so full of energy, the kind that reminds me of those teen days, I now reminisce about.

One of the things I like to do is send off the girls with a favor. This year I decided to package two extra large cookies per girl (that’s 100 cookies!!) and pack them in the most adorable cookie boxes! (I know…I never even knew there was such a thing!).

I must tell you, they were a hit and oh so cute!

Simply (or maybe not so simply) bake 100 cookies of your choice. Use a large cookie dough scoop and package the cookies with food grade tissue paper and bakers twine if you wish , and a label for personalization.

Enjoy!

Good Shabbos!

Here’s the resources:

Cookie Recipe (I use Earth Balance margarine and skip the cranberries and fleur de sel)

Cookie Dough Scoop

Cookie Boxes

Labels

Paper liner 

Aleph Art Room CLUB HOUSE!

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We are re-launching our Aleph Art Room,  coming back stronger than before!

Same fabulous program yet with an added theme of a Club House.

After all, don’t you have the best memories of making fun, social club houses and explored all things creative and adventurous?!

Well, I have decided to combine CKids with our Aleph Art Room, issuing personalized scan cards (as part of the CKids program) which will be used to ‘enter’ the club house and participate in awesome missions and prize opportunitites!

To make ‘the look’ woodsy, and a cool ‘club house’ feel, we decided to send out all Aleph Art Room info in a craft paper bag, complete with Post card, cover letter and our Calendar schedule with sample scan card and some arts and craft supplies!

This complete package will surely inspire young families to ‘join the club’!

A simple label printed from evermine.com stuck onto the paper bags, adds that finishing touch! Either give these out or slip into a craft large mailing envelope and you are set!

Join the Club!

 

Thank you for helping me GROW

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A simple and fun idea for teacher gifts!

I personalized this ceramic planter and plant that will be given to Chaim Boruch’s many teachers, aids, therapists and school staff!

All you need is a planter and plant of your choice and either a hand made tag or printed one. (I ordered mine from evermine.com) (ceramic planters and plants were from IKEA)

Choose a quote like “Thank you for helping me grow” or “Thank you for helping me  blossom this year!”

Wishing you wonderful year end school celebrations!

Sensational Salads!

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Sharing something good always feels good.

So here, I begin sharing some of my favorite salads as I ease back into what I love most…nurturing and feeding my family and friends.

These dishes burst with texture, color and flavor. And while art has many different forms, to me, my shabbos table is like a blank canvas, ready and waiting for a great dose of inspiration, for both body and soul.

Bon appetite!

Mango Slaw 

2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
1 large green cabbage – sliced thin, or shredded
1 red pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oil of your choice (I like canola or vegetable)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or omit this and whisk in a chile paste to taste)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, salt and red pepper in a smaller bowl and pour over slaw. Before serving, toss with mint leaves and sprinkle with cashews.

Original recipe from smittenkitchen.com

Let’s Celebrate!

IMG_0618IMG_0620First of all THANK YOU to each of you who donated to our Fundraising Campaign! Because of you, we met our goal and can focus on what we love! Building Community!

Secondly, Happy Birthday to my two year old!

Lets celebrate with a delicious yellow cake and the most airy, light frosting I have EVER made!

Yum!

Yellow Cake (From Bon Appetite)

SERVINGS: 12–16 

This batter makes 3 9″ round cakes. I like to freeze two and serve one with frosting in the middle and all over!

Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray (I used parchment paper)
  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  •  teaspoon baking soda
  •  teaspoon kosher salt
  •  cups buttermilk (I used So Delicious Coconut creamer)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used Earth Balance)
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (vanilla extract is perfect too)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs

Cake

  • Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment-paper rounds; coat paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Combine buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  • Combine sugar, butter, and brown sugar in another large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Using an electric mixer, beat butter mixture until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add yolks and eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl.
  • Continue to beat mixture, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl, until almost doubled in volume and very light, airy, and pale yellow, 5–6 minutes. It’s very important that no lumps remain at this stage. (Occasional scraping of the bowl, especially the bottom, helps prevent lumps.)
  • With mixer on low, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  • Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, about 3½ cups per pan. Smooth tops.
  • Bake, rotating cakes from left to right and top to bottom halfway through, until cakes are light golden brown, the centers spring back when gently pressed, and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35–40 minutes.
  • Transfer cakes to wire racks; let cool in pans for at least 30 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.
  • Using a long serrated knife, remove top dome and any bumps from each cake to create a flat surface. Slice each cake in half horizontally to make 6 layers total. Cakes can be baked 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

 

7 Minute Frosting
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Create a simple syrup in a small saucepan by whisking together hot water and confectioner’s sugar; bring to a boil for 1 minute, whisk, and set aside.
  2. Add egg whites, cream of tartar and salt to a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer beat at high speed, slowly streaming in hot simple syrup, and vanilla extract. Beat at high speed until preferred spreadable consistency is reached.
Notes
Makes enough to frost a 2-layer 9-inch cake.

Incredible Cheese Kugel!

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THIS is an INCREDIBLE Kugel. Most perfect for breakfast (lunch or supper…or anytime in between!)

Cheese Kugel (from Smitten Kitchen, click here for original recipe)

1 pound wide egg noodles
8 eggs
1 – 1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used 1 and 1/4 cups)
2 pounds full-fat cottage cheese
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) melted earth balance margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Parboil the noodles (five to seven minutes).

In a very large bowl beat eggs until fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, then the cottage cheese, margarine and vanilla. Stir in the drained noodles.

Pour into a 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until kugel is set.

Check for doneness at one hour and see if more time is needed.

Good Shabbos!