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Moshav Me'or Modiim, Israel
Rabbi Avraham Arieh and Rachel Trugman have over thirty years of experience in the field of Jewish education.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pesach Bourekas???

Rebbetzin Rachel's (Exodus from Pesach) Recipes...

Now this one is for all our readers residing outside of Israel. It's now just a few minutes before candle lighting time, so Israeli's won't get the chance to make this. 

Taken from Wikipedia:

Börek (also burek and other variants i.e., bourekas) is a family of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka (or phyllo). It can be filled with cheese, often fetasirene or kaşar; minced meat, or vegetables. Most probably invented in what is now Modern Turkey, in theAnatolian Provinces of the Ottoman Empire in its early era, to become a popular element of Ottoman cuisine. A börek may be prepared in a large pan and cut into portions after baking, or as individual pastries. The top of the börek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds. Börek is also very popular in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, especially in North Africa and throughout the Balkans.

It seems almost oxymoronic to eat bourekas, the ultimate flakey crumb producing food on Pesach. Here is a recipe that I learned not from a cookbook but by watching a former IDF chef in action. Omer had a virtual military operation going in my neighbors the Frumin’s kitchen today. The occasion was the engagement party of Chemla Frumin and her Chatan - Natan whose parents and brother came down from Carmiel to meet the extended moshav family.

Warning! This recipe requires soaked matzot which are broken in half hence the Yiddish term “gabrocks”. Some people avoid gabrocks like the plague (pun intended) to the extent of eating their matzo out of a paper bag like a wino (some use plastic bags), to avoid any drop of liquid falling on the hand baked delicacy.

The wet halves of matzo are placed in a plastic bag to make them pliable and when softened are rolled around a filling such as mashed potatoes, crumbled salty cheese or sautéed meat or vegetables. The possible fillings are practically limitless and where you can get really gourmet style imaginative.  Then the rolls are dipped in beaten egg and fried in hot oil till brown. Who would have imagined but they were really good and crispy and only half as crumbly as the year round variety. Unless you are Sefardic you won’t be sprinkling sesame seeds on these Turkish delights but you won’t be missing anything, the crunchy taste comes right through to the taste buds.

Chag Kasher V'Same'ach AND Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two Great Recipes for Yom Tov!

Broiled Eggplant with Veggies and Meat Sauce
Since I have no rhyme or reason (Ask Eden Pearlstein aka EPHRYME– he’s the Rhyme department, and my son in-law) for why this recipe is only for Rosh Hashanah let’s create a new minhag and make it for Pesach too. 

WARNING! This recipe is a “potchke” lots of steps but worth the effort. (Maybe that’s why I make it only once a year for family because to feed this to the Ohr Chadash hordes would keep me in the kitchen for an unexaggerated millennium).

Brush thick rounds of eggplant with olive oil sprinkle with kosher salt and granulated garlic then broil until browned. Prepare thin rounds of potatoes and zucchini while you make the sauce by browning ground meat, I often use turkey or veal, with finely chopped onions and parsley. I add one can of crushed tomatoes and some dry red wine, salt and pepper, and a dash of…  SPOILER WARNING! – SECRET INGREDIENT ABOUT TO BE REVEALED -cinnamon. I start layering with onion rings on the bottom of the olive oiled baking pan then potatoes, then meat sauce then zucchini then more sauce and top it all with the broiled eggplant. 
Over the top I pour some white sauce made by gently sautéing potato starch in olive oil and adding chicken broth stirring constantly until you have a creamy consistency breaking up the lumps as you stir. Bake in 350 degree oven till bubbly and the top starts to brown about an hour.

 Apricot Chicken
This is a much easier and faster recipe. This is my general and preferred style of cooking except for the very few “potchke” recipes I allow through the radar. This one is good for an erev yom tov like the one we’re going to have tomorrow when we plan to galavant off to Jerusalem to enjoy FREE DAY at the Israel Museum and the Botanic Gardens.  Chani (my daughter) and Eden (her D.L.H.) did this with us last year!

Plop some chicken pieces in a baking pan slosh some sauvignon blanc or other white wine over ‘em, shmear on some apricot jam, scatter some dried apricots all around,sprinkle on some salt pepper granulated garlic and paprika and you’ve got easy street! 
Go jump in the shower while it’s baking at 375 degrees till brown and fragrant, about an hour and a half, and you even have time to do your nails and get all gussied up for a really good relaxed Yom Tov.

Happy Tasty and Kosher Pesach Everyone!  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Fifteen Steps of the Hagadah

An excerpt from Seeds and Sparks by Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman

The Hagadah of Pesach and all the rituals and mitzvot of the night are ordered according to fifteen steps. These fifteen stages in which the Seder unfolds are also referred to as “signs.” Our Sages tell us that signs and symbols have great significance (Kritot 6a). For example, we begin the year on Rosh HaShanah night by eating all sorts of foods, each one symbolic of certain blessings we hope for at the beginning of a new year. The steps of the Seder likewise have great significance and symbolize the process of personal, national and world redemption. There is a custom of calling out the name of each step or  “sign” at the Seder as if announcing a lost object which needs to be reclaimed and redeemed (See The Chassidic Haggadah by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger).
     The fifteen steps of the Seder also relate to the fifteen physical steps in the Holy Temple, on which the Levites stood while singing praises to God. King David wrote fifteen “songs of ascent” to parallel the fifteen steps of the Levites in the Temple. The correspondence of the fifteen steps of the Seder and the fifteen steps of the Temple gives us the feeling of rising from one level to the next during the Seder, as if being carried on the wings of song to ever greater heavenly heights.
     Fifteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew letters yod and heh, the first two letters of the four~letter name of God, and a name of God in their own right. This name significantly appears in the book of Exodus in the story of Amalek, the arch enemy of the Jews, when God figuratively puts His hand on His throne and promises war with Amalek in every generation (Exodus 17:16). Rashi points out that only the first two letters of the name of God are written and the word for throne is also written missing a letter. This, Rashi explains, indicates that until Amalek, the embodiment of evil, is wiped out, God’s name and throne are, as it were, incomplete.
     The recital during the Seder of Pesach of the words: “ In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us…” reflects the same archetypal reality as expressed in the story of Amalek. The primordial energy of good versus evil, as expressed first in the story of Adam, Eve and the snake, and their final confrontation in the prophesies of the “end of days,” is very relevant to the energy surrounding Pesach and our present situation in Israel.
     There are “signs” all around us as Israel and the world confront the terrorist threat so prevalent today. But, as in every sign or dream, much goes after how we choose to interpret it. We are most certainly being challenged and are being spoken to by God through the events around us.
     As much as we need to react to evil and deal with the perpetrators, a more fundamental spiritual accounting is called for. We are told that the month long search and cleaning process for chametz, unleavened products,  preceding Pesach must be accompanied by the realization that physical chametz is but a reflection of the inner spiritual work we need to do to truly prepare for Pesach. Each person, community and all of Israel needs to look deeply within to see what we can do to rectify the present situation. There is certainly a need for a renewal of commitment to personal spiritual growth. To increase Torah learning and observance, to integrate sound Jewish morals and ethics, to increase our love of our fellow Jews and humanity, to give greater support to the land of Israel, and to recommit ourselves to Jewish collective responsibility. Let no one be oblivious to the fact that if Israel is seriously weakened (God forbid), every Jew in the world will be affected in a very negative way.
     The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that every Jew contains a spark of the Messiah deep within his soul and that the ultimate arrival of the Messiah depends on each and every person activating his greatest spiritual potential, thus creating a critical mass of redemptive energy. This then will be transformed into the figure we call the Messiah.
     In Egypt, when the slavery became so unbearable, we cried out in unison from the weight of our burdens and God heard and acted. Once again, we as a people need to feel the suffering and danger surrounding us and shake off our numbness and complacency in order to cry out to God to deliver us. There is no more auspicious time for us all to do this than on Pesach. We as a people have suffered enough - We Want Redemption Now!! 

Seder Night - A Poem from Seeds and Sparks

Yes my children -
I hear your questions
I too hear footsteps in the distance.
To the story of life
As it unfolds.

Once we were slaves,
Cried out in despair and God heard:
With an outstretched hand
Nature took another course,
Water turned to blood
And later seas turned on end
As we followed God faithfully
Into the desert of our own rebirth.

And now we have this holiday
To celebrate and remember,
To engrave once again
On our open hearts
That it was us who came out
And stood on the mountain and promised
To give over to the children
Of the future
The wonders of the past.

The collective unconscious
Running through our blood.
Upon the door post -
A reminder and a sign
To protect and pass over to generations
As yet born,
A promise delivered
But not yet fulfilled,
While between the lines
Of history and precedent
The story of our people
Defies logic
Battles conquerors
Lives on miracles and faith,
In new beginnings
Tragic endings
Sanctification and sacrifice on the alter
Of human destiny
To be free!
A light unto the nations
In a world of darkness
Where groping armies
Are still pursuing us -
Their wheels sinking in the sea.

But we light candles
And make it to the other side,
Where shining in the distance
Is the prophet of the future.
Elijah come drink!
Blow the shofar!
Herald a new beginning!
Redeem the first born!
And the last to be born
Before that fateful day
Will cry out from the weight
Of human bondage
And the misery of our self imposed doom.

But here at our Seder
The light of hope is shining bright
The bush is still burning
And is not consumed.