Two Perfect Mishloach Manot Ideas From Gourmet Kosher Cooking

purim recipes, baskets, and decor

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Two Perfect Mishloach Manot Ideas From Gourmet Kosher Cooking

No Comments 01 January 2012

Thank you Elizabeth Kurtz from Gourmet Kosher Cooking!  I love these two totally different Mishloach Manot themes. One sweet pound cake flavored  with Nutella – package with a coffee mug and some coffee beans for a breakfast style Purim gift, and as for the savory herb flavored oils, try to purchase some fresh Italian bread, Italian pasta, and some gorgeous red beefsteak tomatoes, and wrap it up for an authentic Viva Italia themed mishloach manot! (p.s. make sure your bottles are sterilized before using) Marlene 

 

“On Purim as well as throughout the year, at gourmetkoshercooking.com we love to make and give delicious homemade Mishloach Manot and hostess gifts. Here are two ideas that are both easy, elegant, and always a big hit.”

Sweet Mishloach Manos

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake (Pareve or Dairy)

200910-r-pound-cake
I use the pareve chocolate spread instead of Nutella to make this pareve. Either way it is delicious.

  • 1 ½ cups flour,
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted margarine, or butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 13-ounce jar of Nutella or 13 ounces of Pareve Chocolate spread (the pareve spread may need to be softened in the microwave to spread like nutella does. Heat in 20 second intervals, until spreadable but not cooked)

Preheat the oven to 325. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or 6 2 x4 inch mini loaf pans with non-stick spray. In a glass measuring cup lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 ½ cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a mixer beat the margarine with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread one –third of the batter in the pan, then spread half of the Nutella or chocolate cream on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Chocolate cream or Nutella. Top with remaining batter. Lightly swirl the chocolate cream into the batter with a knife. Do not over mix.

Bake the cake for about 1 hour. (Smaller cakes will require about 40 minutes). Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Savory Mishloach Manos

Rosemary-Infused Olive Oil

image via readynutrition.com

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 5 inches long)

In small saucepan, combine oil & rosemary. Cook over low heat until a thermometer reaches 180 F, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temp. Transfer the sprigs to a bottle, then add the oil. Seal and refrigerate up to 1 month

Basil Oil

  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds.
Drain. Rinse under cold water. Pat basil dry with paper towels. Transfer to blender. Add oil; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)

Lemon and Bay Leaf Infused Olive Oil

  • 1 large fresh lemon
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon whole peppercorns

Wash the lemon thoroughly and dry well. Pour the olive oil into a small heavy saucepan. Using a zester and working directly over the pan, remove the zest from the lemon, letting it fall into the oil. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until a candy thermometer reaches 200 degrees. Cook at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer the oil mixture to clean sterilized bottles. Cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

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Fresh and Wholesome DIY Purim Baskets

at home, DIY, purim recipes, baskets, and decor

Fresh and Wholesome DIY Purim Baskets

2 Comments 01 January 2012

Hello Hostesses!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been bustling around this week, making lists of…well, darn near everything. Groceries, to-dos, important events… and of, course, with one of the most festive holidays fast approaching, you may also be making lists of people you’d like to include in your celebrations, and what you plan to give them.

I’ve received mishloach manot on Purim that were supremely elaborate and packed to the brim, and I’ve also received bags of goodies that were extremely thought provoking and personal. One in particular that comes to mind was a bag given to me by one of the ushers at my temple, a lady whose friendship I am lucky to have. Her gift certainly showed how much thought she’d put into it, maybe in a little less conventional way. Her pointedly plain, brown paper bag included one small bottle of kosher wine, one apple, one bag of carrot sticks, one bag of prune hamentashen, and one bag of ribbon candy. Included was a note about how each item in the bag requires a different blessing, and that in the midst of all the revelry, we should take the time to remember the holiness in each item. It was a very touching sentiment, one that I will remember fondly for years to come.

There are many ways to put together your gifts of Purim food items. A popular way to arrange your baskets is to create themes, based on whatever strikes your fancy–the season, the recipient’s hobbies or passions, a sports or movie theme, a springtime theme if it’s warm where you are, or a chilly weather theme if you’re still getting snow. It can be  kosher foods based on a favorite movie or play, a color theme, anything your heart desires.

I made a few different theme baskets to show you this year.

This happy hostess is stuck in Saint Louis, where we got another inch of ice and snow last night. While hunkered under my blanket with my husband, I thought about some of my warm and cozy comfort foods. And thus, the Snuggle Purim Basket was born:

This basket was super easy to put together. I bought:

  • Some 1-quart canning jars
  • A bag of raffia
  • A rectangular basket, about 4″ deep
  • A small 1-cup jar with an airtight lid
  • Pre-made ciabatta rolls from a local bakery
  • A tin of chocolate chip cookies

I made a large batch of basic vegetable noodle soup. You can also simply buy cans of your favorite ready-to-eat brand. Because the cookies and ciabatta contain dairy, I’d stick with vegetarian soups like vegetable barley, tomato, split pea, etc.

I ladled the soup into the clean canning jar, place the lid tightly, and wrapped with raffia to make a decorative bow. Because this should be eaten quickly, there’s no need to actually “can” and pressurize the soup unless you think the recipient will want to store it. It will keep, refrigerated, for 2-4 days. For artistic purposes, I removed the packaging from the ciabatta and cookies, but you can keep yours on if your baskets will be sitting out a while.

I spooned about a cup of cappuccino mix into my smaller jar. You can use instant coffee, hot cocoa blend, teabags, whatever you like. You can add a note if you like, by writing out mixing instructions on a small tag and tying it to the jar with a strand of raffia or ribbon.

Ray of Sunshine Purim Basket:

To battle some of this cold, I thought–”What’s the most bright, summery activity there is?” The answer was immediate–picnics, of course! What says summer cheer better than red and white checked tablecloths, fresh fruit, and sunshine? Nothing I can think of.

So I put together the “Ray of Sunshine” basket.

This is arranged in an actual picnic basket, and though the photos are too close to see, all the food items are nestled in red and white checked cloth napkins. A trip to Hobby Lobby allowed me to pick up some silk sunflowers and some fuzzy little bees for decoration. They attach with wire, easy peasy.

In this basket, I arranged all your summer picnic staples.

  • Cold fried chicken– picked up at a local deli.
  • Fresh fruit
  • A large bottle of lemonade A canning jar filled with Fresh Garden Salad, decorated in a gingham ribbon.
  • Corn on the cob, wrapped in aluminum foil
  • Chocolate chip cookies– if your recipient keeps kosher, substitute a non-dairy dessert, such as macaroons or pareve hamentashen.

Even though summer is quite a ways away here in St. Louis, one can always daydream about it. One of my favorite things to do when the weather is warm is visit one of our many beautiful vineyards. My husband and I used to make a monthly tradition of visiting a local winery and enjoying an afternoon on the terrace. So when I asked him for a basket idea, he suggested perhaps revisiting one of our favorite themes.

The “Afternoon at the Vineyard” Purim basket:

This is a smaller basket, but absolutely packed with decadence and deliciousness.

Everything is snuggled nicely into a green satin cloth napkin. You can use raffia or cotton batting underneath to help keep everything in place and fill in any extra spaces–not that you’ll have extra room with all the goodness in here!

This basket contains:

  • Two single-serving bottles of sweet Riesling. Any bottle of your favorite wine will work. Or you can give juice.
  • Bunches of grapes, both green and red
  • A wheel of Gouda (again, any cheese will be fine–just make sure it’s a hard enough cheese that it can withstand room temperatures if it will be sitting out for a while. You can find kosher cheese at any local Whole Foods or kosher market)
  • A small tub of hummus. I chose sundried tomato and basil flavor.
  • A package of water crackers. I chose “vegetable medley” flavor.

I stuck a few cookies in there to fill out the space, and I also had a small tub of olives–greek and italian, packed in oil, but they somehow got swiped. I think my husband forgot I was making baskets and helped himself to a snack.

Purim Brunch Basket:


And of course, if you or your little ones will be delivering baskets in the earlier hours, nothing beats a Purim Brunch Basket! Give your recipient the best gift of all–a full gourmet breakfast with no dishes and no cooking!

I picked up a few things for this basket, but it’s all super easy stuff to make yourself, too.

I used a basket I had around the house, and just lined it in a remnant of pretty pastel polkadot fabric I bought at a craft store. With prices usually less than $5 a yard, check out your local fabric or craft store’s clearance racks for interesting fabrics. You don’t have to buy a lot, and it always comes in handy for lining gift baskets, wrapping jars, anything!

This one is so versatile. You really can put anything in it.

I chose to add a 2-serving spinach and mushroom quiche. You can make your own, or make a dozen little mini-quiches, instead.

I also bought a couple miniature loaves of pumpkin raisin bread from my favorite Mom-n-Pop bakery, and accompanied these with fresh fruit and two bottles of Simply Pure orange juice.

You can mix and match whatever you like into such a basket:

  • Dry cereal and bottles of milk
  • Homemade bread, scones, or muffins
  • Hard boiled eggs, in the shell
  • A wheel of cheese
  • Pastries
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Jars of instant coffee or teabags

Oh, my head is reeling from all the choices!

Whether you copy one of these, or if one item inspires you and you run with that idea into a whole new world of possibilities, your recipient is going to adore your gift and the thought that accompanies it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Even if your goodies are simple and tucked into a plain paper bag, if you put a little thought and meaning into it, the person who opens it is sure to remember it for years to come.

Enjoy, and happy eating!

Charlie Michelle

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Sweet and Savory Hamentashen by Leah Koenig

purim recipes, baskets, and decor

Sweet and Savory Hamentashen by Leah Koenig

3 Comments 01 January 2012

Leah Koenig’s Sweet and Savory Hammentashen:

“Nothing brings out the baking spirit in me like Purim.  Several weeks before the holiday, I start dreaming up new exciting fillings to spoon onto my cookies before pinching them into the familiar tri-cornered shape recalling Haman’s hat.  Never a fan of mohn (poppy seeds) or artificial cherry pie filling, my hamentashen fillings tend to skew either towards the sweet-tart – things like lemon curd, apricot marmalade or homemade pear and ginger compote (see below for a kosher recipe) – or the all out, hands-down decadent – think spoonfuls of Nutella, or white chocolate chips swirled with raspberry jam.

But a few years ago, while in the midst of one of my pre- Purim daydream sessions, my thoughts drifted from sweet to savory.  What would it taste like, I wondered, if I cut back on sugar in the dough and replaced it with dried herbs?  And what sort of filling combinations might compliment this savory foundation?  After a few excited rounds of testing, tweaking and tasting, I hit the Purim jackpot: a rich, herb-flecked “cookie” encasing a medley of lightly caramelized mushrooms and onion, browned in the oven until golden and unbelievably fragrant (see below for a kosher recipe)

One bite was all it took to know that I’d stumbled on a new annual tradition – for me anyways!  Lest one think that savory hamentashen sounds too unconventional to try, consider the spinach knish, the Middle Eastern bureka or the Italian calzone.  All of these delicious pastries combine dough with meat, vegetables and any number of tasty fillings – so why should the hamentashen be left out of the fun?”

Savory Hamentashen

Directions, Dough:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, basil, oregano, or rosemary
  • 2 tbsp milk

Cream butter, egg and sugar. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and herbs together and set aside. Add 1/2 of dry mixture into wet ingredients and combine until smooth. Add milk, then remaining flour mixture, stirring until incorporated. If dough is too sticky at this point, continue adding flour until it is firm enough to withstand being rolled out.

Gently roll out dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a circular cookie cutter or the rim of a wide-mouthed glass and transfer to a baking sheet. Dot each circle with filling (see below).  Pinch corners into triangles. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until delicately browned.

Variation 1: This dough can be used for sweet hamentashen too.  Increase the sugar to 3 Tbs and omit the dried herbs.

Variation 2: If you would like to eat these hamentashen after a meat meal, replace the butter with non-hydrogenated margarine (e.g. Smart Balance) and the milk with soy or almond milk.

Savory Onion and Mushroom Filling

  • 3/4 pound mushrooms (white cap or cremini)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)

Chop mushrooms and onion into small dice. Heat oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat and brown onions. Add mushrooms and salt and let cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and about halved in size. Add red wine (if desired) and salt and cook 2-3 minutes, until liquid is dissolved. Let cool before stuffing into hamentashen.

Sweet Pear and Ginger Compote

  • 2 bosc pears, chopped
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 1/2 tsp crystallized ginger, chopped

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring regularly until the pears soften and soak up the fragrant liquid, about 8 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before using as hamentashen filling.

Happy Purim!

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