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I’m in a bit of a backlog with my posts, as my Hebrew cookbook came out and I’ve been blessed by a flurry of media attention here (TV, print, radio, online and more…) I’m going to take a break from my Prophecy in the Kitchen posts (even thought I have two recipes from the Book of Amos ready to go: Miniature Summer Fruit Basket Pies and Mashed Potato Mountains with Zaatar, Silan and Red Wine Sauce).

Today I had a journalist come cook with me. She asked me to prepare recipes related to the Weekly Portion of “Chayei Sarah – The Life of Sarah” which spans from Chapter 23 verse 1 of Genesis, to Chapter 25, verse 18. The recipes and photos were too beautiful not to share! And perhaps I will find a way to connect them to some of the books of the prophets as I go, but for now, I wanted to post some of them here.

We made:

Spiced Acorn Squash and Apple Soup in Squash “Wells”

Chicken Thighs in Silan, Beer and Mustard

Bejeweled Beluga Lentils with Lemon-Mint Dressing

Vegetable Bracelets and Rings with Coriander Pesto

Tunnel of Fudge Cave Cake

all the recipes from chayei sarah

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I’ve known for a long time that after EATING THE BIBLE (which sticks strictly to the Old Testament,) I was going to follow up with a series of articles and blog postings about the Prophets. It seemed a natural “next step.” I’m also a poet – and there is nothing like the poetry of the prophets. Following the success of my EATING THE BIBLE cookbook, which is already out in English and soon coming out in Czech, Swedish, Dutch, and Hebrew, I think it’s time.

I’ve decided to name this new venture, PROPHECY IN THE KITCHEN – possibly the name of my next cookbook. The reason for the name is two-fold. First, I think that we are all prophets in the kitchen – on both a superficial and spiritual level. We open the fridge every day and try to divine from its contents what we will concoct for our meals, how we will nourish ourselves and our families. There is also something alchemical about cooking in the kitchen – the way that flour and yeast form bread, the way that beaten eggs can make cakes both rise and fall, the way flavors combine to make something completely new. And to a certain degree we never know exactly what is going to happen when we enter the realm of the kitchen, all we can do is set the stage with the proper intentions, ingredients, equipment and circumstances – and hope for the best, hope that what we set out to create will emerge as we intended.

On a deeper level, I think that we are all prophets in our own right. My husband and I were discussing Eldad and Medad this week, two prophets from the Book of Numbers who stayed back to prophesy among the Israelites while 70 elders went outside the camp to the tabernacle to receive the ability to prophesy from God. Joshua was furious, but Moses took their side. He said that it was a good thing, and that ideally all the Israelites should be able to prophesy. I think we are living in the information age. An age where Rabbis and Priests and Spiritual Leaders are key, but it is also an age where the Bible, knowledge, spiritual connection and yes, indeed, prophecy is readily available to anyone who wishes to seek it out. If we do so in the proper way, with the proper intentions, equipment, and ingredients – foremost among them, a willingness to allow for the divine – both in and out of the kitchen.

My decision to start with Hosea, I must admit, is completely arbitrary. It was either Hosea or Daniel. (I think that Daniel will be next, I’ve recently become fascinated by his story as a result of working on one of my client’s books – in my other life I’m a literary agent and one of my clients has written a Young Adult Urban Fantasy novel that partly revolves around the Book of Daniel.) I started reading Hosea because it is the first in order of the 12 minor prophets, and as I read, I came across one of my favorite verses, Hosea 2:21 “And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.” This is a verse very often related to weddings and betrothals. It is also a verse that Jewish men recite as they bind the tefillin straps around their hands – wrapping the straps as a way of betrothing themselves to God and his word.

Hosea didn’t prophesy in an easy time, but then, none of the prophets did. His job was to broadcast God’s love of the Israelites at a time when heresy and apostasy was at an all-time high. Hosea marries a promiscuous woman to symbolize the fact that God is still willing to marry the Israelites despite their sinful ways. God is always willing to accept our sinful ways and take us back, to wrap us back up into His arms and create a new covenant with us. When I read the verse: “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven,” I, of course started thinking about food. Chicken and beef wrapped together in a marriage of flavors. And thus, Mortadella Chicken with Maple Cider Dijon Glaze was born.

Hosea 2:20-2:22
“And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground; and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely.”

“And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion.”

“And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.”

Mortadella Chicken with Maple Cider Dijon Glaze

Chicken 24

250 grams of thin sliced Mortadella Salami (Proscuitto or any other thinly sliced deli meat will work too)
1 kg chicken breasts, pounded thin

Stuffing:
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 ribs of celery, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Maple Cider Dijon Glaze
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup alcoholic apple cider (I use Buster’s Isra-Ale Sweet Cider 4.8%!)
1/3 cup chicken stock (I use 1 tsp. chicken soup powder dissolved in 1/3 cup water)

Sauté onion and garlic in a cast-iron skillet (or any frying pan will do) for 2-3 minutes,
add celery and sauté for 3 minutes more. Add thyme, salt and pepper, cook for 1 minute. Then
add fresh parsley, cook for 1 more minute. Add panko breadcrumbs, stir, then add Dijon mustard
and maple syrup, mix well on a low flame until well combined. Turn off flame and let filling cool.

When ready to assemble: grease a baking dish with non-stick spray.

Place one chicken breast before you and spread it with thinly sliced Mortadella salami. Place one heaping
tablespoon of filling in the center of the salami, turn up the ends a bit to prevent the filling from escaping
out the sides, roll up and place seam-side down greased in baking dish. There is no need to secure these rolls
with toothpicks if you pack them in next to each other.

Chicken Picture Combo

When finished, sprinkle the top of chicken lightly with remaining stuffing. Then, in the same pan as you made the stuffing,
cook olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider and chicken stock until mixture thickens. Pour over chicken.

Chicken Picture Combo 2

Place chicken in an oven heated to 175 degrees celcius (or 350 degrees F) and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Chicken 26

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One of the things I notice now, since I finished all the photo shoots for my cookbook, is that I look at food differently. I was cutting up garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots for today’s recipe and all of the sudden, the mundane turned into art. I started to think about the arrangement of what I was cutting, and how the photographer would have arranged the peels, the knife, the cutting board, the vegetables. I noticed how beautiful the carrots were, both before I peeled them, and after. I noticed how beautiful the potato peels were, and the contrast of the two orange colors of the carrots and sweet potatoes, and of the whites of the potatoes and garlic cloves. And I think more than anything that is one of the things I try to do in my cookbook – to find the beauty in the mundane, to find the culinary references in the simple text. To bring carrots, potatoes and garlic to life in the way my photographer was able to do meant that he saw the vegetables differently, just like I try to see, and help others to see the Bible in a different, more tasty and tactile light. There is much beauty in the Bible, and it’s not in elaborate pageants and great shows of wealth, it’s in the simple things: carrots, potatoes, garlic, stones, sand and stars.

“Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took a pan, put fire in it, placed incense upon it, and they brought a strange fire before God which he had not commanded. And fire went forth from God and consumed them, and they died.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Questions: While the text makes it clear that Nadab and Abihu died, and that they brought a “strange fire” into the sanctuary which God had not commanded them, we are not told why this fire was “strange.” Why couldn’t Aaron’s sons bring an extra offering to God? What was “strange” about their fire?

Ideas: BBQ! Serve anything flame-roasted to get the conversation started about fire, and what makes some fires strange and others less strange. Anything hot and spicy could work too. Some commentators suggest that Nadab and Abihu were drunk, so douse your chicken in wine, or simmer your beef in some broth.

I am making Flame Roasted Drunken Chicken this week. Recipe here.

Image

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‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not completely reap the corner of your field, and you shall not gather the fallen stalks of your harvest. You shall not pick the small, incompletely formed bunches of grapes of your vineyard or the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.’ (Leviticus 19:10)

Questions: Why is giving “leftovers” to the poor a charitable deed? Why are we not commanded to give the best of our crops and food to the poor? And isn’t it obvious that we must be charitable to those less fortunate than us? Why must God tell us this? And why isn’t it enough to just tell us to be charitable and not to tell us exactly how to do it?

Ideas: Serve an abundance of grapes – take all the grapes off of their stems except for one cluster. Serve raisins or grapes on a square plate and leave one corner empty. You can really do this for effect with everything you serve – leave one corner of the brownie tray “unharvested,” don’t eat the last slice of meatloaf, etc.

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