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Posts Tagged ‘Prophecy in the Kitchen’

I’ve been meaning to finish up my posts on the Book of Amos, but it’s been a crazy few weeks! Between all the PR for my Hebrew cookbook and Dutch cookbook (links here and here!), three TV appearances, two weeks I spent in New York meeting with editors and agents (for my own work, but also, yes, some cookbook related stuff) – I haven’t had time to breathe! So here is one new Amos recipe for you, one more to go, and after that, we will move on to the next book: Obadiah.

“Thus the Lord GOD showed me; and behold a basket of summer fruit. And He said: ‘Amos, what seest thou?’ And I said: ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then said the LORD unto me: The end is come upon My people Israel; I will not again pardon them any more.” – Amos 8:1-2

Summer Fruit Mini-Pie Baskets

Summer Fruit Pie Pix 9
Crust:
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
2 tablespoons (15 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (225 grams, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup water, very cold

1 egg (to brush on the tops of each pie)

Filling:
2-3 cups of chopped summer fruit: peaches, plums, cherries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cardamom
3 tbs cornstarch

Mix dry ingredients together, cut butter into cubes, then mix into dry ingredients. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly and fully integrated, then slowly add the cold water until the dough holds together. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Cut fruit into small cubes and mix with all the ingredients in a bowl.

Knead and flatten the dough and roll out on a flat surface until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray and cut out circles from the dough that will fit into each muffin tin and all the way up the sides (you might need to do a few practice circles until you get the size right). Place each circle in a muffin tin and press up the sides. Spoon filling into each muffin tin.
Summer Fruit Pie Pix 1Summer Fruit Pie Pix 2
To make lattice-work top, roll out the remaining dough, then cut in long 1/2-inch strips with a knife. Weave the dough until your work surface is covered with a long woven strip. Cut circles out of the strip in a size that will nicely fit over the top of each muffin tin. Press the woven top of each mini-pie down to meet the dough on the bottom/sides by using a fork, make small indentations around the sides of each mini-pie with the fork that both presses the dough from the top to the sides, but also creates a nice decorative edge. You can roll out small strips of dough and twist and attach them to the top of each mini-pie to create a basket handle.
Summer Fruit Pie Pix 3  Summer Fruit Pie Pix 4Summer Fruit Pie Pix 5
Brush tops of mini-pies with beaten egg, bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Summer Fruit Pie Pix 6Summer Fruit Pie Pix 8

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For a book of prophecy that isn’t terribly long (only 9 chapters) the Book of Amos really packs a punch. The Prophet Amos does not mince words and in general he is pretty damning of the Children of Israel and their transgressions. It seems, historically, that Amos was the forerunner of all the other prophets. He lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II, around 786-746 BC, and according to the historical record, this may have been the first book of prophecy ever written!

Having said that, it seems like many of the other prophets may have taken pointers from Amos, and that this book of his recorded prophecies sets the stage for many more to come. Therefore I found it surprising how harsh he comes across. Of course, Amos is delivering “the word of God” and therefore the words are not really his, but he offers a really bleak picture of the situation on the ground in terms of the Children of Israel and their transgressions, so much so that it’s hard to find anything that’s really all that redemptive (and appetizing!) until the later chapters.

I was struck by the following two verses in Chapter Four:

“Come to Beth-el, and transgress, to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices in the morning, and your tithes after three days. And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill-offerings and publish them; for so ye love to do, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” (Amos 4:4-5)

Amos seems to condemn the Children of Israel for sacrificing “Leavened Bread” – in Hebrew the word is “Hametz” – which is the exact opposite of “Matzah” – the unleavened bread that we eat on Passover. However, I found it strange that the prophet should condemn “leavened bread” so harshly – because it is unclear if the show bread – the “Lechem HaPanim” – was leavened or unleavened, it may very well have been leavened, but it was not sacrificed and perhaps that is the crux.

In Amos chapter eight we come across bread mentioned in a more redemptive light, in a very famous verse (that has been put to music often):

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

So it seems that no matter what kind of bread you eat or sacrifice – leavened or unleavened – what God truly desires from us is to desire him, to desire his words, and so I present to you a form of bread, which I call “Pagan Bread” – to me it was the furthest thing away from Matzah that I could conjure: light and fluffy, sweet and spicy – nothing close to the dry, bland, crisp-bread that we eat on the Passover Holiday. Eat it at your own risk, and make sure to direct your hunger heavenward.

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Pagan Bread

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cardamom
1 Tbsp. yeast
3/4 cup milk (soy milk or nut milk is fine too – I used hazelnut milk…YUM)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 egg
1.5 tsp. salt
4-5 cups flour (I used fine-ground whole wheat)

Mix warm water, honey, cardamom and yeast together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes until frothy. Add milk, olive oil, egg, salt and mix. Add 2 cups of flour, mix until combined. Then add 2-3 more cups until the dough is soft but not sticky. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel (or place entire bowl inside a plastic bag). Let rise about an hour or until dough has doubled in size. Punch down and knead into desire shape. Brush top with honey. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until golden brown – about 30 minutes (I used a toothpick to make sure it was done – if dough sticks to the toothpick, allow the bread to bake more).

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I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted! The summer ran away from me. We were on vacation in Cyprus for two weeks, which was where I concocted this recipe (which is good for dessert but also makes a really decadent breakfast!)

It’s based on this verse of the Book of Joel:

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall flow with waters; and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.” (Joel 4:18)

It’s an interesting chapter of Joel, because one sentence,  a little earlier on, caused me to do a double take: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears; let the weak say: ‘I am strong.’ ” (Joel, 4:10) – We are so used to the other verse from Isaiah that states: “And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4) – but here in Joel, the prophet and God are calling people to take up arms! To fight! And that certainly resonates in a personal way with me – this past month has been a very difficult one for the People of Israel and the Land of Israel – a lesson that there are times for peace and times for war.

Being in Cyprus reminded me so much of Israel – Halloumi cheese originates there – which is such a popular dish here, and Greek yogurt is in abundance, along with fresh mountain honey, rich cold-pressed olive oil and wineries on every hilltop. And it made me think that there is so much that everyone in this region shares – milk and honey, wine and olive oil – foremost among the ingredients common to all of this region – Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. My only wish is that all the people of the region could see it that way.

This mousse is an explosion of flavor in your mouth – creamy and seductive, yet slightly spicy and richly decadent by virtue of the Port Reduction, and the grapes add a fantastic crunch.

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Honey Cardamom Mousse with Port-Silan Reduction and Fresh Grapes

Honey Cardamom Mousse:
1 tsp plain unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp water
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup whipping cream

Port-Silan Reduction:
1/2 cup port
1/4 cup Silan (date honey)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon

Fresh seedless red grapes

Let gelatin dissolved in 1 Tbsp warm water. Mix together yogurt, honey, vanilla and cardamom. Add gelatin, whisking as you mix it in. Whip the whipping cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold the yogurt mixture into the whipping cream until combined, then portion out into individual serving dishes and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight. Mix port, silan, vanilla, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes until thick. Top mousse with seedless red grapes and port-silan reduction. Serve.

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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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In the last chapter of Hosea, the prophet speaks and says:

“Take with you words, and return unto the LORD; say unto Him: ‘Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips. ” (Hosea 14: 3)

I felt like I couldn’t move on to another book of the prophets without giving a nod to this very famous verse, and one of my favorite verses and concepts in the Bible. Basically, the prophet here is saying that the way back to God is not via any kind of sacrifice, but rather through simple words. “We will render for bullocks the offering of our lips,” means that the words our lips say can replace cows, that our mouths can and should be filled with words instead of beef, that to a certain degree that is the clear and truest way to return to God – no bells and whistles, no fancy offerings.

And so I offer here a simple, lip-smacking recipe. Not terribly original, because, in truth, words don’t need to be, so long as they come from the heart. And for this verse, any beef will do, a slow-cooked stew, a simple roast, or even meatloaf – something to represent the fact that though our mouths may be filled with meat, it is the words we say that matter, they will fulfill our obligation, not the beef.

Silan Glazed Corned Beef

Corned Beef 1

1 (2kg/1lb) corned beef
Water to cover

1/4 cup Silan (date honey)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tsp. ground ginger

Put the corned beef in a pan (it should come pre-packaged from your butcher with pickling spices already on it,) and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until your fork can slide easily in and out of the meat (or until the meat reaches an interior temperature of about 180 degrees F)

Drain the water from the pot and put the meat in a roasting pan. Cover with Silan, Dijon mustard, apricot jam and ground ginger. Bake for 30 minutes. The glaze should be nicely browed and caramelized, and the meat should still be moist.

Cool, slice thinly and serve.

Corned Beef 4

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So I continued reading  Hosea this week and I came across this verse:

“…even as the Lord loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1)

Now, I figure that this verse can be parsed in a few different ways – either the children of Israel love cakes of raisins – or indeed the Bible is referring here to something that is called a “love cake” 0r a “love cake of raisins.” Well, as you can imagine I was immediately curious. What in the world is a LOVE CAKE??

Turns out there are traditions for “love cakes”  in quite a few cultures, namely: Portuguese, Sri Lankan, PersianItalian and British.

But it seems like the Bible is referring to some kind of cake that was used for idol worship – perhaps as opposed to the “cakes” that were baked for the holy temple and sacrifices, which certainly never included raisins and were a mixture of grain, oil and spices. The British version of Love Cake to me seemed like the closest type of thing that might be referred to here – small, basic, little cakes made of simple pastry and filled with raisins that could be brought to one’s beau in the field. But various sources seem to suggest that raisin love cakes might have been some form of candy confection, perhaps akin to Halvah or Turkish Delight.

I’m not advocating any kind of idol worship here, but when I thought of “love cakes of raisins” the thing that first came to mind was the British version of a cinnamon bun – a Chelsea Bun, and I’d been wanting to make Chelsea Buns for a long time. So I jazzed up my version of a “love cake of raisins” and gave it a Middle Eastern spin, combining some of the flavors of the Portuguese, Persian and Sri Lankan versions with a traditional Chelsea Bun. Hopefully it won’t inspire any idol worship. Though I have heard that cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and vanilla are aphrodisiacs, so…baker beware!

Middle Eastern Love Cakes with Raisins (Not Your Mother’s Chelsea Buns…)

Raisin cakes 8

Dough:
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
pinch sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp rose water (I use concentrated)
1 tsp. vanilla
7 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
4 cups flour

Filling:
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup demarara sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup apricot jam

1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped apricots
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 Tbsp. apricot jam to brush on top

Topping:
1/4 cup cream or milk (non-dairy is fine too)
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Place yeast, warm water and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until frothy and active. Add milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, rosewater, vanilla. Mix. Add 7 Tbsp. melted margarine or butter, mix. Then add 2 cups flour, mix, then add another 1.5 cups, mix again, then add the last half of a cup until it forms a nice, soft dough. Let the dough rise in a lightly greased bowl for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Prepare filling: melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine, mix with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and apricot jam. Chop apricots and crystallized ginger.

When dough has risen to twice its size, punch it down and roll it out to about 1/4 in thickness in a big rectangle. Spread with filling and top with raisins, chopped apricots and crystallized ginger. Roll up into a big log. Close the seam well. Then slice the log into rounds. Place the rounds in a greased pan. Brush with apricot preserves.

Raisin cakes 2 Raisin cakes 4 Raisin cakes 5 Raisin cakes 6

Bake at 350 degrees (175 C) for about 30 minutes or until the cakes are a deep golden brown on top.

When cakes are cool, mix cream or milk with powdered sugar and drizzle on top. Serve and enjoy!

Raisin cakes 10

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I don’t normally post about two different verses in the same chapter, but as I continued to read in Hosea I came across the following verse:

“And the earth shall respond to the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall respond to Jezreel.” – Hosea 2:24

And of course that got the culinary wheels in my brain turning. Corn, wine, and oil is not an obvious combination in a culinary sense, but it is mentioned quite a few times in both the Bible and prophets. Now, historically and geographically, it’s not the grain that we know today as corn that the Bible is referring to – corn as “maize.” The Bible uses the word “corn – dagan in Hebrew” – to refer to all manner of grains. But for the purposes of the modern ear and modern culinary sensibilities I decided to use corn – ground corn to be more specific, the fine-grained type commonly referred to as Polenta. Oil – and I’m assuming here that it is olive oil that is being referred to – was commonly used not only in cooking, but also for anointing and for kindling. Wine was used as a drink but also as a sacramental substance. So it seems to me that the combination of all of these three items in this verse is an attempt to convey the totality of the response that will happen if indeed we succeed in dedicating, or “betrothing” ourselves to God in the proper way and in the proper intentions – as mentioned in verses 21 and 22: “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.” In return for our complete devotion – God will cause the earth to respond to us in an all-encompassing way: physical, elemental, and spiritual – as represented by the grain, oil and wine – three critical ingredients for our physical and spiritual sustenance on earth.

I decided to take these ingredients and see what I could do with them in two different directions – savory/salty and sweet. I guess you could take the two different recipes I ended up creating and look at it as a further explanation of the verse – you can take the good of the land, the corn, wine and oil that God provides and you can do a lot of different things with it – you can take it in a savory direction, or a sweet direction – it doesn’t matter which direction you take the gifts that God gives you – so long as you use them with the right intentions.

Polenta Two Ways: Savory and Sweet

What I found fascinating about this experiment was that you can truly take 4 basic ingredients: fine-ground cornmeal, olive oil, wine (red and white) and fresh rosemary – and take them in two completely different directions.

Herbed Polenta Tart with Red Wine Mushrooms, Garlic and Rosemary

Polenta 7

Polenta:
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil

Red Wine Mushroom Topping:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thing or diced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or diced
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
10 white mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 cup red wine
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional, as topping)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees c (350 degrees F)

Mix cornmeal with broth, salt, herbs, and garlic powder in a saucepan. Place on the fire and stir constantly until mixture thickens so that there are no lumps. When mixture is quite thick and stiff (most recipes tell you that this is when the polenta mixture starts to leave the side of the pan but this didn’t really happen to my mixture – so I’d say when the mixture becomes like very thick gruel or oatmeal) – then stir in 1 Tbsp. olive oil, mix well and then pour into a pie tart (I greased mine with non-stick spray.) Place polenta tart in the oven. (Let it cook for about 10 minutes)

Polenta 4 Polenta 5 Polenta 6 Polenta 8

While the tart cooks prepare the topping: Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add fresh chopped rosemary, cook for 1 minute, then add fresh sliced mushrooms, let cook 2 minutes, then add red wine, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until about half of the liquid has evaporated – about 3-5 more minutes.

Remove Tart from oven and spoon mushroom mixture over top. Top with grated parmesan cheese (optional.)

Rosemary and Lemon Polenta Cake with White Wine and Olive Oil

Polenta 9

1/2 cup polenta/fine ground cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons minced fresh rosemary/ 1 tsp. dried
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sweet white wine, such as an Italian moscato or a Muscat de Beaume de Venise
Powdered sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a tart pan with non-stick spray

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. Mix well.

Place the sugar and eggs in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Polenta 11 Polenta 12

While still mixing, slowly add the olive oil. Add vanilla, then wine and then the flour mixture, and mix just until blended.

Pour the batter into the pan, and bake until the cake is fragrant, golden, and springy to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes and then turn it out of the pan. After it’s cooled, dust the top with powdered sugar.

Polenta 13

 

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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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