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Tag archive for "Syrian Jews"
This modern twist on the traditional Charoset recipe for your Passover Seder,was created by my new friend Jennifer Abadi, author of a wonderful new cookbook, A Fistful of Lentils . Jennifer’s passion for carrying on her family’s Syrian Jewish tradition is evident within the 125 recipes that she shares with us.
Upon reading that Jennifer’s recipes were inspired by her grandmother Fritzie Abadi A’H I realized that Jennifer and I have a connection. Five years ago, I set out to produce a coffee table book documenting the artwork of 200 of our communities artists of which all of the proceeds were donated to Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn.
“Our Art”- A collection of the Artists of the Syrian Jewish Community.
Guess which artist’s work is on the first page? None other than Fritzie Abadi A’H’ herself!
The quote on the page, as told to me 5 years ago by Mrs. Luna Sutton (who recently passed away in her late 90’s and who bought the painting from Fritzie 50 years ago), is,
“When Fritzie Abadi painted these in the 1920’s, it was said that she was inspired by the strong features of the typical Syrian woman that immigrated to America at the time.”
So, you can see that in her own way, Jennifer’s grandma Fritzi was also trying to preserve memories of her heritage!
You should also know that Fritzi’s father Chacham Matloub Abadi was a great Rabbi of the Syrian community in the early 1900’s, but that is another story…..
Hope you enjoyed that little tidbit of info!
Moroccan Charoset “Truffles” with Dates, Raisins, and Walnuts, Rolled in Cinnamon
photograph by April Selditch
“Here they are!! I rolled the Moroccan Charroset Truffles in three flavors: cinnamon, crushed almond and coconut.
They are so delicious! Yep, I tasted one. April. “
1 box of matzah sheets or tea size matzahs
Cinnamon (for dusting the outside)
1. Place the walnuts and almonds in the food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, but not into a meal-like consistency (about 30 seconds).
2. Add the dates and raisins and combine in the food processor until a thick paste is formed.
3. Add one tablespoon of the wine at a time until the paste is smooth but not so sticky that you cannot roll it into small balls.
4. Taking approximately one tablespoon at a time, roll the thick paste into 1-inch balls* (if the paste is sticking too much to your hands, try dipping your hands in cold water and then rolling them) and sprinkle the outsides lightly with cinnamon. Store balls in a tightly covered plastic container in refrigerator for up to one week.
5. Dust the outsides of the balls with ground cinnamon. Serve charoset balls at room temperature on a platter, alongside tea matzahs (can also be served as a paste in one or two small dessert bowls, placed at either end of the seder table.)
Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (approximately 1 ½ cups or 24 one-inch balls)
*Note: If you wish to serve the mixture in the more common way of a paste in a bowl, then add a little more wine and warm water to make a bit smoother and softer for spreading.
©Jennifer Felicia Abadi
(Author of: A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen)
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In case you haven’t heard, the new code word for the next huge family get together is “Thanksgivukkah”. This year, in a rare alignment of calendars, Hanukka and Thanksgiving fall on November 28, 2013. Astronomers say that we won’t see this occurrence again till the year 79,811 so I decided to make a big deal out of this menorah/pumpkin shidduch (or buzzrah as they say in Arabic) by re-creating a Syrian Jewish Hanukka table with a twist of Thanksgiving thrown in. Some may say that this American/Jewish holiday connection is pure coincidence, but I’m thinking that there is a greater cosmic connection that’s just waiting to be blogged about.
As Jews in America, we are very grateful to be able to celebrate our holidays publicly without fear of being persecuted. Just the fact that we can honor the mitzvah of lighting the menorah at the front window to shout out the 8 day miracle of Hanukka is reason enough to bring out our finest china and table decor to honor our peaceful place in Jewish history. For that reason alone, we should all proudly acknowledge and celebrate Thanksgiving. As a Sephardic Jew living in America I now understand that we are a minority of Jews residing within a minority of the larger Ashkenazi Jewish population. When our community first arrived on these shores in the 1900’s, they were quickly swept up in the wave of fellow immigrants that had also fled for a better life in the U.S.A.. Fast forward one hundred years, the Syrian Jewish culture readily absorbed many delicious flavors from their surrounding American and Ashkenazi Jewish neighbors while still retaining the pride of their homeland. It’s no wonder I received this email from Rina Kassab who wrote,
“Hi Marlene, in Syria we had no idea what Sufganiyot is! We made Atayef with Ricotta (lebeh) and Walnuts (joz). My Atayef are ready to freeze fresh for Hanukka!
Hope u like!”
I then decided to skip the Sufganiyot and create a Syrian style Hanukka table sweetened with a tray of sweet chopped nut filled Atayef and drizzled with shirah- a thick rose water syrup freshly made by Rina. Rina told me that on Hanukka in Syria, the Jewish women prepared 8 small glass cups that were filled with half water/half oil and then inserted a handmade wick within each one. (Whaaaat? No Jonathan Adler Menorot?)
And guess what? In Syrian, NO GIFTS were given on HANUKKA! Gift giving was reserved for Purim! I wonder if the Ashkenaz Jews had the tradition of eight surprise filled nights way back in the old country. Comment below if anyone you know has the answer! (Hmmm…. why do I suspect that gift giving during December in our great U.S of A evolved into a fabricated American marketing spending scheme…)
I also added in an extra candle that is lit every year by Syrian Jews whose ancestors fled Spain during the expulsion by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492. Expelled on Tisha B’Av over 500 years ago, several Jewish families wandered for months until they stumbled upon the Syrian community of Aleppo, Syria some months later on Hanukka eve. So grateful were this group of exiles to finally find a homeland that they lit an extra candle to commemorate this miracle. To this day many Syrian Jewish families still light an extra candle on Hanukka, some knowing the story of their wandering ancestors, and some just following this custom by tradition without really understanding why the extra candle is illuminated.
Enjoy my “Thanksgivukkah” table! Flowers and pumpkin menorah designed by Marzan Flowers.
Modern Silver Hanukka Menorah by Parci Parla in Brooklyn. Call Sherri at ((347) 587-5179 for pricing.
Orange roses by Marzan Flowers (917)406-6259.
Note the extra candle lit! (Want to know why? Read it above)
Dreidels filled with a scooped out and silver sprayed pumpkin by Marzan Flowers. Silver tray by Christofle.
Personalized napkins by ipersonalize.(Call or text Joy 718-490-7063 for more options)
Custom Hanukka Straws by personalize. Call or text Joy (718)490-7063 for all of your tabletop personalization. Click here for more personalization ideas!
Blue trimmed linen napkin and blue and white Ikat tablecloth by Tabletoppers- Call or text Michelle at (646)258-0929
Custom Hanukka Place cards with exotic blue feathers by Karens Invitations. Call Karen at (718) 339-1929
Thanksgiving Rooster Cupcake Topper by Kitchen Caboodles. Call Helen at (917)691-4599
Although I was really doing great on my diet, I didn’t even flinch when the photo shoot was over and I was able to eat an entire Atayef without a drop of guilt. My grandmother used to make these sweet crunchy treasures and each bite was worth every single calorie. Thanks Rina!!!
This fantastic silver sprayed pumpkin menorah was designed and hand crafted by Yuval and Ina Marzan of Marzan Flowers.
Call them for your festive events, holiday tables and hostess gift arrangements at (917)406-6259.
Love this IKAT blue and white table topper by Tabletoppers- Call or text Michelle at (646)258-0929
Delicious Hanukka cake with Pumkins on top(!!!) designed by Rachel Benun of Flour Power. Call Rachel for your next special event! (917)881-2428
Lucite cake knife by Parci Parla (347)587-5179
Gorgeous multi layered wrapped gift cake by callmecookie1! Call Latifah at (347)536-9361
Wine Decanter by Pampaloni
Cake detail by by callmecookie1! Call Latifah at (347)536-9361
Hope u enjoyed! XoXo
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My friend Miriam Kairey can not only professionally trace your family history back at least ten generations, but she can also teach us all how to roast the perfect kosher turkey for Thanksgiving. She is a gourmet cook and is author of the cookbook Positively Passover. She makes Syrian “kaak” regularly and is committed to preserving the art of cooking Syrian Jewish Cuisine. Although Thanksgiving turkey is not exactly a Syrian main dish, Miriam has perfected her turkey roasting technique and I asked her to share it with all of us Jewish Hostesses! Thanks Miriam!!
“Thanksgiving is a big deal in the Kairey house. It is a great opportunity to invite family and friends who live too far to walk over on Jewish Holy Days. On this day we set aside the rich culinary tradition of the Syrian Jews in favor of delicious dishes that are quintessentially American. The key to capturing the essence of these flavors is to use an abundant supply of fresh herbs including parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, just like the Simon and Garfunkel song.
There is no shortage of Thanksgiving recipes on the web. Besides The Jewish Hostess, I also recommend Martha Stewart as a reliable source. Just be sure to add plenty of chopped parsley and sage leaves to your stuffing, and sprinkle rosemary leaves on top of your sweet potatoes before cooking. Reserve the stems to use when making turkey stock.
When it comes to roasting a succulent turkey, twenty years of trial and error have made me an expert. My recipe combines the flavors of garlic and thyme, but neither overwhelm the delicious taste of the bird. If you do not already have one, invest in a large roasting pan with cover (check out Granite Ware 18-Inch Covered Oval Roaster from Amazon.)
A foil roaster will deliver a turkey that takes longer to roast and is drier. Make sure you have a meat thermometer (check out Taylor Elite 602 Meat Roasting Thermometer from Amazon).
Take the turkey out of the oven the minute it is cooked, otherwise the breast dries out and shreds when you try to carve it.
If you purchase a frozen turkey, put it in the fridge to defrost on Sunday or Monday, clean and season it on Wednesday, and it will be ready to stuff and roast on Thanksgiving day.
The day before Thanksgiving, make a paste of garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and oil in a food processor . Rub completely over turkey inside and out. Lift the skin on the breast and rub the paste underneath the skin directly onto the breast. Tuck several bay leaves under skin as well. If turkey is not completely defrosted yet don’t worry. Put turkey in an oven bag and scatter remaining bay leaves, onion and thyme (stems included) all around the bird. Close bag and refrigerate overnight.
Thanksgiving day heat oven to 325. Calculate 20 minutes per pound, and you will arrive at the approximate roasting time. Then you can decide what time you need to put the turkey in the oven. With turkey still in bag place stuffing inside the cavity of turkey. Twist bag closed put in roaster and cover. It cover does not close completely its ok, because the turkey is in a bag.
Once roasting is well under way, I remove turkey from oven every 20 minutes or so, unwrap the bag, and baste turkey. About 1 hour from finish time I cut away the bag so the turkey can get a golden brown color. Now you will want to start checking the temperature by inserting meat thermometer between the thigh and breast, but not touching the bone. When temp reaches 165, remove bird from oven. It will continue to cook even after leaving oven. Discard Thyme. Wait 20 minutes, carve and serve immediately.
Serve with fresh Cranberry Relish:
Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Do not puree.
One of the Simanim or symbols used on the Jewish New year of Rosh Hashanah is a specific type of squash or gourd – known in this context as either “qara” or “kera” or “k’ra” or “kra” in Hebrew and Aramaic, this type of squash is otherwise known as spaghetti squash or calabash. Pumpkin, another type of squash, may also be used but traditionally many Sephardic or Syrian Jews prefer cooking spaghetti squash in a thick sugar syrup known as “shira”. For as long as I can remember, my mother, and then later on when I got married, my mother in law cooked up this pot of sweet golden threads known as “sillet”(pictured above in between the date and the apple).
As kids we knew that we would have rather be munching on Ring Dings and Devil Dogs, but as we grew up, we appreciated this once a year traditional treat for a sweet New Year.
Recipe for Sweet Spagetti Squash “Hillu”- Syrian Style Simanim for Rosh Hashanah
Puncture with a knife in several places. Place in a large pot with water. Boil for 25-40 minutes.
Remove from hot water and immerse in cold water to stop cooking.
Make sweet “shira” syrup:
This year, Yom Haatzmaut falls on April 26, 2012. Just to brush everyone up on Israeli history, Yom Haatzmaut is the day that Jews worldwide celebrate the creation of the state of Israel. It is preceded by Yom Hazikaron in which we memorialize the fallen soldiers of Israel.
As a side note, growing up as a student in the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, I am forever grateful for the love of Israel that was instilled in all of us. On Yom Haatzmaut we would craft Israeli flags, sing and dance, and yearn for the day when we could go kiss the kotel in Jerusalem. The school was founded by Joel Braverman, who was born in 1896 in the Ukraine. He went on to found one of the top modern orthodox yeshivot in America which combined a top notch Torah education and the love of Israel, with secular learning on par with the American public schools.
Several years ago, while interviewing a Syrian Jewish gentleman for The Sephardic Heritage Museum, I was surprised to learn that he was was of the first Syrian Jewish students to attend the Yeshivah of Flatbush in the 40’s. He recounted the story of how, during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, as a first grader, he was taunted by the Ashkenazi kids that he was indeed an Arab, and an enemy of the new state of Israel. When his father heard about the students accusations, he promptly contacted Mr. Braverman who in turn educated all of the children that Syrian Jews were their brethren, and they resided in Syria for 3,000 years. He explained to them that only in the late 1800’s did they start to emigrate to countries such as the United States.
Little did Joel Braverman and other community members know, that at the very same time in 1948 that Israel was happily declared a state, the Jews back in Syria were suffering their very own “Kristalnacht” in which angry Arab mobs rampaged through the streets of Aleppo, burning down marked Jewish homes, synagogues (including the 3,000 year old ancient Great Synagogue of Aleppo), and destroying hundreds of irreplaceable Torah scrolls and manuscripts. Jewish men, women and children fled upon the rooftops, or hid with sympathetic Arab neighbors. Hundreds of Syrian young boys escaped Syria at that time to fight as soldiers in the War of Indepence and they proudly tell their stories today. (Get ready for Episode 7 produced by Joe Sitt and The Sephardic Heritage Museum!)
Please remember the struggles and tribulations of Eretz Yisrael this week. Here are some ways to incorporate Yom Haatzmaut into your week!
Read more about Yom Haatzmaut HERE.
1-Thank you Rachel Margolies for a fun way to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut with the kids! Check out Delightfully Dowling for instant instructions on how to make these delicious blue and white color swirled cupcakes. What does your family do to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut? Please comment below!
image via pjcc
2- Learn about The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan. Here are some great Amazon reviews that convinced me to click and buy…
3- Support Israeli agriculture and shop at Negev Nectars- Gourmet kosher delicacies made by Israeli farmers. I’ve served these gourmet preserves and spreads to my guests and they are indeed delicious !
4- Make Israeli Couscous- adapted from The New York Times:
1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.
2. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and add the cilantro, chives, feta, pine nuts, chickpeas and red pepper.
3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the lemon juice, salt, cumin, remaining olive oil, yogurt and Aleppo pepper or chili powder. Toss with the couscous mixture. This is perfect Shavuot recipe or grab a cup of this delicious Israeli couscous for lunch on the go.
5- Make these Israel themed books a bedtime favorite. A memorable gift for a niece or nephew…
6- Watch Barbara Streisand sing Hatikvah to Golda Meir - I LOVE THIS VIDEO!
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