Yom Ha’atzmaut: Blue & White (Cookies) Are My Colors
"...כחול ולבן הצבע שלי”
Blue and white are my colors (and what's black & white anyway?!), and I'm just seeing one star. So how about some Hummus, eggplant dip, pita crackers and blue & white cookies for a Yom Ha'atzmaut treat.
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let's Say Amen!, an illustrated children's book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit http://www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as other, not yet published, challah and bread recipes. She will be coming on a short book tour and speaking in two different places in the Tri-State area the week of March 4-9th! See her website for details and locations.
Blue & White Star of David Cookies
Incredible Cookie Dough:
1 cup margarine
¾ cup sugar
1/8 cup or 2 Tablespoons water
3 ½ cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ Tablespoons vanilla sugar (you can substitute a squirt of vanilla essence if you can’t find this ingredient)
This makes a very good, smooth and easy to work with dough. Even, or especially, for working with children.
Line your table with plastic bags cut open to full size (or a disposable plastic tablecloth) and taped down in front of you and/ or each child working with you. This will keep the dough from sticking to the work surface when you press it down. It also saves tons on clean up time afterwards.
Take half of the dough and put it in another bowl. Add some blue food coloring to it and knead it in until the dough turns blue-ish. It wont stay completely blue when it's baked as it turns somewhat browner from the heat of the oven but if you 'blue-ed' it enough when it's raw, it will still give the correct idea. Don’t, however, make it so blue that it becomes psychedelic!
To make magen (star of) david shapes, roll out two smallish logs of dough, one plain colored, ie, the 'white', and one blue colored. Shape one of those small logs into a triangle and lay it on a lined cookie sheet. The other log, take it and weave it once in and once out of the three sides of the original triangle, thereby creating the second triangle in your magen david, but it will be over/under/ through the sides of the first triangle. This way, your cookie won't fall apart or break after it has been baked.
Keep doing this until you have as many cookies as will fit on your lined tray. Leave a bit of room between them because these cookies do grow.
To bake the cookies:
Line up cookies slightly apart on lined cookie trays and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F/ 180C until very slightly browned on edges.
Or you can use Star of David cookie cutters. Give each child a cutter and a small bowl filled with blue colored sprinkles, or color some sugar with blue food coloring and leave it in a small bowl. In the other bowl, leave plain white sugar. Have them roll out a small piece of dough by making balls and then pressing it down. Show them once or twice how to cut out the shapes. Even very young children can do this relatively easily. Lift off cut cookies and press them down gently into the bowl of your choice. You should now have several different types of cookies that have that 'blue and white' theme to them. Remove and cool before eating. These freeze well if frozen in single layers, so that the sprinkles will not get squashed. They only take a few minutes to defrost.
2 cans chickpeas, drained but reserve the juice for later
(the size can here is Undrained weight, 560 grams/ about 17 oz, Drained weight, 290 grams/ about 10 oz. This is just about 2 and ¼ cups chickpeas per can).
½ cup unflavored tahina paste
2 Tbls lemon juice
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder OR, if you really like your choumouss sharp, 1 clove fresh garlic
4 Tbls olive or canola oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and add ½ cup of the reserved chickpea "juice". Puree until smooth. If the mixture is too thick for your taste, add more liquid, a bit at a time. Allow the Hummus to set in a container in the fridge for several hours, then taste for thickness adjustments and/or salt flavoring. Serve in small bowls. This recipe makes enough for about 6-8 people.
This can be made in advance and frozen. I make several recipes of these dips, portion them off into disposable plastic containers and label the lid of each container. Before any given Shabbat, I only have to pull it out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost.
Many people like to garnish this dish with a small bit of olive oil drizzled in its center, some pine nuts for decoration and a bit of paprika (use hot paprika if you like a kick) sprinkled over the center of the dish. You can even add a few whole chickpeas placed here and there for more texture. Spread it into your pitot, add in some Israeli salad spiced with a bit of oil, salt and pepper, a few falafel balls and French fries, and …Enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant Dip
2 medium, firm eggplants
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 Tblsp lemon juice
Wash off the outside of the eggplants. Pierce each one with the tines of a fork in a few places, and then wrap them tightly in foil and place in the oven. Bake at 350°F/ 180° C for 35 – 45 minutes, until soft. Remove from oven to cool.
In a separate pan, place the olive oil, diced onions and diced garlic. Saute until light brown, about 20 minutes, on a low flame. By now the eggplants should have cooled down. In your food processor fitted with the sharp "S" blade, scoop out all the flesh from the eggplants, discarding the skins. Add the sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate before serving.
Freezes well. Defrost the night before serving. (This is an old standby for my mother. Like me, when she makes it, she does so in large quantities and freezes it.)
Makes a great dip for vegetables and crackers.
Several pita breatds
Olive oil or oil cooking spray such as "Pam"
Slit open several pita breads. With a pastry brush, brush each one with olive oil, OR, if you're in a rush, just spray them with the oil spray. Sprinkle on sesame seeds. Add zhatar spice if desired. Cut each one into eight triangles, pizza shaped style. Place on a lined baking sheet and toast in your oven for about 10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately. Just remember that these 'crackers' are Hamotzi.