What’s cooking for Shabbat this week? It’s not as if I don’t cook all week, and just use up my Shabbat leftovers all through the week. As much as I cook every day, three times a day, somehow my Shabbat cooking takes on a different meaning. For the most part, during the week I find myself cooking what goes, but when it comes to Shabbat it’s a different story! Even the basics are divine, and I have the urge to whip up something really fantastic week after week.
Shabbat is the culmination of a long and busy week. A respite from the hustle and bustle of our hectic lives. As a mother of young kids, I look forward to Shabbat for some family time. A day to jump off the treadmill of life and be inspired and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Much of our family time on Shabbat is spent around the dining room table, throughout the three meals of the Shabbat. The foods we prepare special for Shabbat are a means in which to honor the special day and a conduit through which to serve our Creator. On Shabbat the food takes on a more exalted level and is not just a meal to nourish our bodies, but rather to also nourish our souls. I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction from my Shabbat cooking, it is a “labor of love” for my family and for the Creator. I take pride in creating every dish from scratch, week after week and month after month. Though I am very traditional when it comes to Shabbat, (no Chinese at my Shabbat meals), it never gets boring and we look forward week after week to eating those foods that we know so well. There is a link to the past, to our parents and grandparents, as we enjoy the same foods handed down through generations.
So.. Welcome to my new blog – Shabbat! Let me know how I’m doing by commenting below, I’d love to hear about some of the foods your family enjoys on Shabbat, as well as any recipes you’d like to see featured here! I’m always looking for something new!
This week was a quiet week, not much happening, so now that it’s Thursday, I am itching for something stimulating and exciting, so I guess I will have to find it in my kitchen! My creative juices are churning and I feel like making something special for every course. I know it’s not realistic but, if I think big I will probably settle somewhere in the middle. To start, I always like to get the baking done, just some basics to keep on hand, like my spelt chocolate chip cookies, spelt chocolate crinkle cookies and some toffee bars. When I bake for my family, I use whole spelt flour exclusively, unless the recipe calls for margarine, and that is where I draw the line and use regular white flour. These are all easy and quick to whip up and standard in the freezer. My menu can’t get too exotic ’cause I will have no takers and I will suffer the consequences with a couple extra inches on my hips. As I peruse my extensive cookbook collection, I can practically taste all those delicious dishes and I can’t wait to sit down at the Shabbat table. Finally, reality hits – the clock is ticking and there isn’t that much time anymore, so I better get down to business. Maybe if I create my menu here, I will not even have the urge to cook it anymore and that will take care of everything!
Of course it all starts with challah; individual loaves crusted with “everything spice” sounds nice. Not long ago I found this mix of everything spice, which is basically what they use on everything bagels, in a neat little spice jar. From time to time, when I am in the mood of something a little different I make my challahs crusted in spice. Along with the challah goes the dips; those include tomato dip, roasted eggplant, spicy olives, garlic infused olive oil and of course homemade hummus. I find that the dips do last in the fridge for a couple of weeks so I always make those in bulk. For the fish, in real time it will definitely be the sweet and standard gefilte fish, but batter dipped tilapia with a lemon francese sauce actually sounds very tempting right now. Ok, I think I should stop here for now, and I will keep you posted about the real menu.
Here’s what I really ended up doing last week!…
The challah happened as planned, and we couldn’t get enough. I should make it this way more often. For the next course of fish and dips, it was as I predicted, the tried and true traditional gefilte fish. The dips are a no brainer and I had some in the fridge from previous weeks so I only had to fill in with a fresh batch of tomato dip and I added some spinach dip to the repertoire this week. It is really simple to make. Just defrost a little bit of frozen spinach and add some mayonnaise, crushed garlic and salt to taste. If you like it smoother, you can blend it with a hand blender. For these kitchen tasks I really enjoy using the Magic Bullet, because I can blend and store the dips all in one container and the messy job of transferring everything is not necessary.
I have to admit that my visions of a truly unique, never before tasted Shabbat meal were not a reality. I am too practical and proud of tradition, so I really did keep things closer to home, this way knowing that even through my cooking I have the opportunity to continue the chain of our heritage and link future generations to the generations of the past. There is no law against innovation to the traditional Shabbat fare, but in my mind as I teach my children through these traditional foods, it is yet another way to give over the sense of pride and values that I received from my parents and grandparents as we sat around the Shabbat table together.
Of course I don’t serve the same things week after week, so in my quest for creativity last week I turned my sweet and peppery noodle kugel into a delicious onion noodle kugel. The addition of the fried onions really brought this dish up a notch to serve up some wonderful flavor and in keeping with the traditional noodle kugel.