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Archive for July, 2014

One of the things I love about the Prophet Joel is that he really goes along with the idea of “Prophecy in the Kitchen” – despite the terrible locust plague that was afflicting the land at that time, despite the terrible damage it did to the crops (see Dried Fruit and Spice Muffins,) he still delivers the message that if we return to God and have faith, anything is possible – even divine prophecy.

“Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength.” (Joel 2:22)

I think that in the above verse is an allegory that’s about more than just figs and vines, it’s saying that no matter how many times the Israelites turn from God, their roots are strong, that there is always room for return. That no matter how far they stray, it’s their roots that will bring them back to God again.

And indeed, in the first verse of Chapter 3, the prophet states (echoing Numbers 11:26-29):

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit.” (Joel 3:1-2)

Of course, it is hard for me to live in Israel during these difficult times and to not find comfort in these words. The People of Israel have deep roots in the Land of Israel, and whether it be locusts or rockets that rain down upon us, our figs and vines will prosper because our roots are deep. And it doesn’t take a prophet to be able to tell us that – we are all prophets in these times and the only vision we have is of a brighter, more peaceful future, one in which figs and vines will prosper all across the Middle East and there will be an end to all this war.

The roots of flavor in this Fig and Port Wine Chocolate Salami are very deep and decadent – comfort food for difficult times.

Salami 27

Chocolate Salami with Port Wine and Figs

12 ozs chocolate
6 Tbsp. butter/margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1 shot espresso
3 Tbsp. port wine
1 sleeve of petit buerre cookies, crushed coarsely
1/2 cup shelled whole pistachios
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting

Melt chocolate with butter or margarine. Add sugar, espresso and port wine.

Salami 6 Salami 7 Salami 8

 

Crush petit buerre cookies, chop figs. Add whole pistachios, chopped figs and crushed cookies to chocolate mixture, mix well, using the back of the spoon to crush the mixture even more and combine it well – you should not be able to see the color of the cookies. Add cocoa powder (this will help the whole mixture stiffen up a bit.) Mix well.

Salami 9 Salami 1 Salami 29 Salami 10

Spoon out half of the mixture onto a baking sheet, use your hands to shape into a messy loaf shape, then use parchment paper to shape into a log. Unroll paper and move the log onto the edge of the parchment paper sheet, then roll up and twist the ends as you would a toffee or hard-candy.

Salami 2

Place in refrigerator to cool for 3-4 hours. Before serving, unroll the log from the parchment paper and dust with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Roll log in powdered sugar until the sugar enters all the crevices of the log and it is completely covered.

Salami 3

Slice into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices and serve!

Keep refrigerated.

Salami 17

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This is not an easy post to write, for we are not living in easy times.

I try to keep politics out of the kitchen, but indeed it is the political situation in Israel right now that kept me from posting a recipe this past weekend. My family went up North (we had planned the vacation a long time ago as my in-laws came to visit) and we did not intend to cancel. In truth, we thought we would be safer in the North of Israel, considering what was going on in the rest of the country. We managed to evade many air-raid sirens, but even as we spent the weekend cocooned in apple and apricot orchards, Israel was attached from the North – from Lebanon. And then we drove to the Golan, again, thinking to take our family out of harm’s way, and then a rocket fell from Syria.

And indeed, though I am currently blogging about the Prophets, the only thing in my mind was a line from Psalm 27: “Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident.” But it isn’t easy to be confident. And it isn’t easy to read the second chapter of Joel either.

I’ll give you a taste:

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 1

Joel 2:2 “A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as blackness spread upon the mountains…”
Joel 2:3 “A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame blazeth…”
Joel 2:8 “Neither doth one thrust another, they march every one in his highway; and they break through the weapons…”

And this: (Joel 2:10) “Before them the earth quaketh, the heavens tremble; the sun and the moon are become black, and the stars withdraw their shining.”

And that is exactly what I feel like here, what we all feel like. Caught between heaven and earth, between rockets from above and tunnels from below, between the practicality of life here and our belief in God, and sometimes it feels like there is no hope, that there will never be an end to this conflict.

But in Joel there is hope, and this is a message to us all, even when we feel caught between heaven and earth: (Joel 2:13) “rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for He is gracious and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy…”

And finally: “Then was the LORD jealous for His land, and had pity on His people.” (Joel 2:18)

It is all we can do. Yes, there are armies and tanks and iron-dome systems down here on earth, but if we do not turn to heaven and trust in the Lord of this land, of all lands, then every army in the world will not save us.

This is a food blog after all, so please forgive me, but this is how I feel and I think how many of us feel. We would not live in this land if we did not have faith: a connection to the land, the very earth we live on, the Land of Israel, but also a firm belief in the heavens that protect us.

Heaven and Earth Potatoes

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 4

The traditional Dutch and German versions of this recipe call for a topping of both fried onion and bacon or sausage. The blandness of the potatoes and the tartness of the apples is supposed to represent the contrast between heaven and earth, the golden brown onions and the dusting of cinnamon also provide a heaven-and-earth type of color contrast.

3 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. salt
3 apples, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. vinegar
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 onion, finely sliced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for 7 minutes, add the apple slices and continue to simmer until both potatoes and apples are soft. Drain thoroughly, mash and add sugar and vinegar to taste. Fry onion in 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine and cook until golden brown. Season potato and apple mash with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with onions and cinnamon.

Heaven and Earth Potatoes 3

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The Book of Joel is the second book in the “12 minor prophets” which begins with the Book of Hosea. It’s hard to say when Joel lived, scholars estimate sometimes between the 5th and 8th century BCE. Like most of the prophets, Joel comes to warn the Israelites that their evil ways (sacrificing to other Gods and idol worship) are causing blight and famine, and that only a return to God and a full repentance will bring about change.

In his time there was a locust plague and a severe drought and this caused the following to happen:

“The vine is withered, and the fig-tree languishes; the pomegranate-tree, the date palm-tree also, and the apple-tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered; for joy is withered away from the sons of men.” (Joel 1:12)

Fruit Muffins 2 recolored cropped

I think that the message here is that you can look at all this dried and withered fruit like a curse, and curse God in return, or like a blessing, and use it to praise God, to repent and say, I was wrong, but good can also come of evil. Of course, it seemed to me that this list of dried fruit would make a fantastic muffin. The prophets warn, but everything comes down to the choices we make. And I say: when life gives you dried and withered fruit – make muffins! (But of course, make them with the right intentions, and makes sure to thank God for the bounty – even if it is withered, it can still be delicious – as I think you will find with these muffins…)

When I made these muffins and I licked one of my fingers to taste the batter I actually said “oh wow” out loud. And I knew that if that’s how good the batter was…that these muffins where going to be stellar. Seriously one of the best muffins I’ve ever eaten. The mixture of dried fruits and spices just pops in your mouth with flavor.

Note: I made these with one egg and 1/2 cup milk – the milk can easily be replaced with soy or almond milk or any other kind of non-dairy milk replacement, and I know that there are egg replacers and that some people use a mixture of flax seed and water to replace an egg – so it seems to me that it would be very easy to make these vegan.

Dried Fruit and Spice Muffins

Fruit Muffins 5

1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinammon
1/8 tsp. of nutmeg, cloves, cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups of chopped dried fruit: (chopped dried apple, chopped dried figs, chopped dried dates, raisins, and dried cranberries – sometimes you can find these sweetened with pomegranate juice – that’s the kind I used)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and grease muffin tin.
Mix together: flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom,and ginger.
Chop dried fruit and add. Toss with your hands to make sure that the dried figs and dried dates all get separated and coated with the flour – so none of them end up in large clumps of only one type of fruit.

Fruit Muffins 3

Add oil, pomegranate juice, milk, vanilla and egg. Mix together with as few strokes as possible just so that everything is combined. Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Fruit Muffins 4 Fruit Muffins 8 cropped

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