Winter Squash Soup with Coconut Milk.

After a long stressful week of our special needs son being in the hospital, my oldest surprised me with a cookbook that he knew I would love. I was so touched by this kind gesture and the sensitivity he had to the much needed ‘normal’ day I had been craving. For me, I find relaxation and comfort in creating. This cookbook is just what I needed! So this afternoon, I took the time to create in the kitchen and the results were warm, delicious and comforting. I had to share, because don’t we all need a nice warm bowl of something soothing? Enjoy!

The cookbook is called King Solomon’s Table by Joan Nathan.

WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK

(Serves about 8)

8 small acorn squash (These squash are used as bowls, to spoon the soup into for a decorative delicious serving dish…this is not essential for the actual soup recipe.)

1 Kabocha or butternut squash (about 4lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (I used Butternut)

6 Tbsp. olive oil divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

5 small shallots

2 Idaho potatoes ( I used yukon gold potatoes )

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 tsp – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (  I omitted)

1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar

6 – 8 cups vegetable broth ( I used water)

Sour cream or greek yogurt to garnish (I omitted)

chopped parsley to garnish ( I used cilantro)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut off about 2 inches from the top of the small acorn squash, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Smear the inside of the squash with about 3 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 25 minutes or until tender when pressed with a fork. Set aside the acorn squash and their tops, if using.
  2. Heat the remaining olive in a soup pot and add the kabocha or butternut squash, shallots, and potato chunks sautéing for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk (I pureed the can of coconut milk before measuring), red pepper flakes, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste, and about 6 cups of vegetable broth (or water) or enough to cover by about 4 inches. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft, then puree the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings. (I started with 1/4 cup brown sugar originally and then at this point added 1/8 of a cup more. I also added a bit more salt and pepper).
  4. To serve, put a ladle of soup in a wide soup bowl. Then add the acorn squash and their tops if using and ladle more soup inside and around. Add a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and sprinkle with parsley (or cilantro).

 

The Canvas of Life.

My little Shmuel ka”h, named after my father. Surely bringing his Zeidy smiles from above on his yartzeit. An expression of paint and love decorated on the canvas of life.

Today marks the 8th Yartzeit (anniversary of passing) of my dear father Shmuel Tzvi ben Yosef a”h. This blog was lovingly created in his memory. May all the creativity in these pages bring him much nachas, as shluchim around the world, bring their communities close to yiddishkeit (Judaism) through meaningful, creative experiences full of laughter, love and chayus.

IN LOVING MEMORY – a tribute to the father I love with all my heart and soul.

And then there comes those moments of feeling loss all over again.

Like a suffocating silence that is deafening.

It’s as if I cant hear anything other than pounding flashes of memories that make my heart beat faster and make my chest sore from feeling.

It’s like little polaroid snapshots of a life, that seem completely removed from the one I now live.

I find myself holding tight to the images and recollections of a past that remains but a scrapbook tucked deep inside the recesses of my heart.

It’s an ache that doesn’t go away, it becomes part of the rhythm of days and nights.

A love song between father and daughter with a harmony sung between the heavens and earth.

Notes that soar and fall flat, that are too heavy to revive and pick me up.

A song of silence that is deafening but only my heart will ever hear.

A finale, a last strum, an echo to hug me for a lifetime.

An end to a new beginning,

a beginning because of the end.

Just one step, and then one more.

A finish line that propels me to start,

Over again, but without you by my side.

Yet inside there’s a voice that speaks all on it’s own,

and sometimes it even sings.

As always though, we are choreographed

to dance away the darkness and bring heaven down to earth.

 

Bake for a Blessing. Challah Braiding. The Market Place. The toppings.

This was the ‘Market Place’ where I had displayed extra ingredients, gloves, and the trays that each guest would pick up after they had braided their challah.

The toppings bar included maple cranberry sugar, poppy seeds, cinnamon sugar, sesame seeds and a home made streusel topping.

FOUR STRAND CHALLAH-2

SIX STRAND CHALLAH

CHALLAH ROLLS

FISHTAIL CHALLAH

THREE STRAND CHALLAH

These diagrams and explanations are from Rochie Pinion’s book “Rising The Book of Challah” and were so very helpful!

I made a display table of each of these braided challahs, baked and with toppings of my choice and in front of each one, were a pile of these printed cards. This really helped guests who wanted to try a new braid and needed some help.

I also included a napkin ring challah demo in my demonstration as well as making a challah in a ring around a glass bowl to fill with a dip. (I did not have detailed cards for these).

Each challah was tied with matching string (like the string used for center pieces) and attached to eat one was a chalkboard tag with the name of that Challah.

Definitely a helpful addition to the Challah Bake.

Once the challahs were braided, each guest would pick up a tray from the Market Place and gently slide their challah (that was already on parchment paper) onto the tray to be taken to the toppings bar and then they could easily carry it home!

The trays are from here.

Bake for a Blessing. Center Pieces.

The center pieces were really easy and fun to make. They were useful centerpieces as almost every item was an ingredient needed to make the Challah dough. This also helped minimize the preparation for preparing individual portions.

The retro oil bottles were from here (check your own sizing based on the recipe you use and how much oil it calls for ) and tied with divine twine in red and white just to add a little color and a look that was reminiscent of bakery twine. Attached to the oil was a measuring spoon which I bought from here. I also stamped a tag (purchased from michaels) which hung from the jar. The measuring spoon was attached with a mini clothespin purchased from michaels.com).

The vanilla bottles were adorable! (and I love the original addition of vanilla to challah dough!). The bottles were purchased from here and tied with divine twine and using a glue dot (purchased at any craft store) the measuring spoon , from here, was stuck on the side and easily removed for guests to measure and pour. I hand stamped a label and cut it to size and adhered it to the vanilla bottle.

The egg cartons which I had already used from a previous event a few years ago, can be purchased from here. They were so adorable and kept extra eggs for those ‘just in case’ moments. Tie with string and stamp a tag to bring the look together! (I only tied the string around the top of the egg carton so it would be easy to open.)

The centerpiece of wheat stalks took only minutes to prepare. Simply add oats around wheat stalks and spread open to display. Use cylinder vases to get that clean look! Wheat stalks are from here, I filled 9 vases by dividing three bundles of wheat.

The mini pushkas are from here and I covered them with kraft paper and tied them with the same string to make it all match. I placed nickels in a row near the pushka.

All these ‘center piece’ items can be done in advance which really helped!

Bake for a Blessing. The table.

The tables were set with hand stamped items and I decided to try limit as many disposables as possible. The room looked natural and calming with a monochromatic look.

Here are the things I used:

Flour bags did have a plastic bag (ziplock type)inside with the pre measured flour inside. The bags were from here and I stamped them with a black fabric ink pad from here and letter stamps from here on this. You will also need the base to stick the stamps onto, which is from here  (This allows you to easily spell words you wish to stamp).

The sugar bags were these and were also stamped using a different typeface stamp. The sugar was pre measured into a glassine packet and folded neatly and tucked inside. (choose a small size like 2.5 x 6.25).

The salt was pre measured into glassine packets from here (choose smallest size) and folded and held together with mini clothespins from here.

The mini glasses were used to check the eggs and were from here.

The wooden spoons from here, were tucked into the apron pocket which was from here. (The color I chose was light taupe). In addition, I tucked in a pair of disposable gloves and the packet of yeast. The aprons were hand stamped with a personalized stamp I made from here  (the size was 4×4)I used a fabric stamp pad and used an iron to set each one so they could be washed.

I also stamped flour sack cloths which were used to cover the dough when it was rising and it was also a take home gift. The flour sacks are from here (size 13″ x 13″) and stamped the same as the aprons.

(The bowls were borrowed from a fellow shlucha).

What is really nice about this set up is that I can re use many of the items. So if you have a smaller group (I had 60 guests) although there is much work involved, you can easily do this event with less preparation the next time.

(Next post will be center pieces!)

BAKE FOR A BLESSING.

Dear Friends,

This event was very close to my heart and so, being that it was similar to a Mega Challah Bake but so very different at the same time, I decided to add details and a more personal affect to the layout, decor, ingredients and energy of the evening.

I called this Challah Baking event “Bake for a Blessing” and I think that this can easily be used in smaller communities as well, where ‘MEGA’ Challah Bake may seem too overwhelming to coordinate and put together. (Not that this wasn’t detail oriented but I was not accommodating hundreds of women, therefore I could take the time to make it extra special).

So, I will begin sharing all the details and how-to’s in various posts. I welcome you to make this event yours and see how your Mega Challah Bake or Bake for a Blessing can take on a different look.

A very special thank you to Rochie Pinson, author of ‘Rising – The Book of Challah’, who’s recipes, braiding techniques and insights were used throughout the event.

I will begin by sharing the recipe I used (from Rising – The Book of Challah) and will post additional posts on the details and decor shortly.

Good Shabbos!

CHALLAH RECIPE CARD

 

 

 

 

Sweet Simple Centerpiece.

Thankfully in midst of intense kitchen preparations I was able to capture a quick picture of the centerpieces which I had made on each table for our Rosh Hashanah dinner and subsequently used throughout the various meals to follow.

This has a rustic fall look and captured the flavors of Rosh Hashanah.

The tea light holders are from crate and barrel and reflect light beautifully through the crystal cut diamond shapes.

The honey jar was purchased form a local store but use any jar of your choice!

Wood rounds are from http://www.michaels.com and the mini small rounds are from http://www.saveoncrafts.com

Wishing everyone a Gmar Chasima Tovah and an easy fast!